Reasons to be happy

Reasons to be happy

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Today is International Day of Happiness, so I’d like to list the many reasons that currently make me happy.

1. My husband regularly getting up at silly o’clock and sorting out Elliot so that Alexander and I get more sleep. Thanks love.

2. Elliot’s current love of giving everyone cuddles, we all got great big cuddles first thing this morning as “cuddles are very nice to do”

3. Alexander finding his thumb (and therefore sleeping longer at night!) Yippee!

4. Elliot being really adventurous at a soft play centre with me yesterday, when he’s normally quite cautious at these sort of places. (Yes, I single handedly took two children to a soft play area and not only did we survive to tell the tale, we actually all had a really good time. It was fab to spend some one on one time with Elliot while Alexander slept! It also made me feel like supermum!)

5. Hot cross buns with butter and a hot cup of tea!

6. Ignoring the forecast of more cold and wet weather to come, I’ve loved the bright sunny weather we’ve had over the past few days. Spring is here people!

8. Pink tulips against the green wall in our living room. Love love love.

9. Maternity leave – not having to think about work for another 6 months is brilliant 🙂

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Battle scars of parenthood

Battle scars of parenthood

I know most mums will say their body changed during pregnancy and some warn that it never really goes back to normal afterwards either, well I’ve been keeping notes and can report the following are the four biggest mummy battle scars after producing two children. (This is the stuff they don’t advertise about motherhood!)

1. Your tummy will continue to look like it’s been lived in, which technically I guess, it has. Mine currently resembles my old stomach encased in an oversized baggy holdall. Am thinking it could be used as a weekend bag, although that would only really be useful if I were ever to go away for the weekend, which after two kids is unlikely. I like to kid myself that this will eventually go away (normally whilst eating some form of chocolate or cake..)

2. Your hair falls out. Big time. I think this actually gets worse with each pregnancy as it’s seriously coming out in handfuls at the moment. Gross. And very annoying when cleaning the shower. I keep finding little clumps firmly grasped in my baby’s fists which can’t be a good thing and I think the Hoover might be about to go on strike. If only I could sell it to wig makers, I’d make a fortune out of being bald! In the meantime I’m planning a big chop.

3. Your knees get their very own calluses. Lush I know, I am truly the envy of gardeners everywhere. These delightful things have been gained from 3+ years of kneeling on floors constructing train tracks, changing nappies, crawling with a child on my back, putting together jigsaws, zooming cars around and playing games. I seriously don’t know why we bother even having sofas in this house!

4. The dark rings around the eyes that develop through lack of sleep. I thought I had these before I had kids from late nights out and the occasional hangover, but now they’re an even darker grey from not sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time. I do console myself that smoky eyes are “in” right now, it’s just a shame mine are on the wrong eye lid!

Attractive, no?

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Me, before the hair started falling out!

Are there any others I’ve missed, or should be looking forward to?

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A letter to my children on sleep, or the lack of

A letter to my children on sleep, or the lack of

To my beautiful sons,

I’m sure you’re right in your current belief that mummy was getting a bit too much sleep lately. After all, being woken every three hours to feed a newborn is almost the same as the halcyon days of getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep pre-children (a time which I now believe is actually just fictional)

I’m sure you’re just thinking that waking so infrequently could have been said to have been getting a bit dull, so your exercise this past week of “let’s wake the big ones more often” has been especially welcome. It’s been interesting to see the world through the sleepy fug that waking every hour brings, so thanks for that!

I have to say that I really think it’s great how the two of you are developing a sense of team work so early in your sibling relationship. You have clearly devised a plan between you to make sure that you’re not both awake at the same time so you both get to benefit from some one-to-one parent time, and I’m sure the worlds greatest mathematicians would be interested in how you’ve worked out the optimal time between wakings:

For those that are interested this works out as:
Time of your brother returning to bed/sleep + 32 minutes (approximately the time it takes mummy to become completely settled, warm and cosy under the duvet and be drifting off to a lovely sleep)

3 year old, I think you’re doing especially well at this given that before the baby came along you were sleeping through routinely and not waking at all, so you must have had to work hard to get into the new routine of night waking and crying. And let me take this opportunity to say that I totally agree with your many and varied stated reasons for waking up. My favourites from the past few days include “I don’t need anything, I just wanted to see you”, and “I don’t want orange juice” (none was being offered, it was 2am)

And to you, littlest one, I must say I really appreciate how you’ve waited until you’re almost 12 weeks old to experiment with waking more often. After all, knowing that you CAN go 4 or even 5 hours between feeds at night makes it even more delightful when I get to see your beautiful face more often than that. I know this is just a recent experiment, but I think we’ll all be happier (or is that just me?!) when you go back to your lovely blissful previous routine.

So, my darling children, thank you for your consideration and thoughtfulness, but I think maybe we should try to see each other a bit less between the hours of 7pm to 7am. It’s not you, it’s me, and to be honest that way you’ll have a much nicer set of parents the rest of the time. Deal?

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Trying to win me over with his “I love Mummy” t shirt whilst sleeping LIKE A LOG during the day!

Being a mum of two, or how to develop a stretchy heart

Going from one to two children is a big step for most parents. Certainly during my pregnancy with Alexander people seemed to like to tell me horror stories of their lives with two children and how difficult/stressful/tiring it is. Some even looked at my growing bump and said “ooh, you’ll wish you’d stuck with one!”

We had been so lucky with Elliot, he was a relatively easy baby, and slept, ate and grew well, seemed to hit all development milestones pretty much when he was meant to (though was late walking, and don’t even ask about potty training!) He is now an easy going toddler, and is (mostly!) a joy to be around.

As we got closer to Alexander’s birth, I did start to wonder about whether we had made the right decision. Elliot was going through a really cute phase of coming in to our room in the mornings, to climb in to the middle of the bed and cuddle/play with the iPad. It was a lovely way to wake up and I just knew that was going to be difficult with a newborn.

I worried about how I would cope with the two of them on the days I’d have both on my own. Elliot had developed the three year old whine (for the uninitiated this is a very specific, monotone whine, which seems to go on for ages prompted by the smallest of incidents!) and I couldn’t fathom how I’d be able to rationally persuade him to stop whilst keeping a newborn asleep. How would I occupy a three year old during those long feeds that a newborn needs? And more importantly, how could I ever love another child as much as I loved my firstborn?

It turns out, like with many things, there was no need to worry at all. It really hasn’t been that difficult. We’re 11 weeks in, that’s nearly 3 months, and I can’t think of a single incident where we’ve felt like it’s all too much *touches wood*

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What I’ve realised is to a large extent newborns are rather dull. Ours is anyway (sorry Alexander!) Until recently his routine tended to follow the sleep, feed, poo, sleep circle. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had more awake time, where he loves playing on his playmat, watching Elliot/whoever is around or staring at his hands!

Newborns can be left waiting (within reason) which is something that first time mums rarely attempt. Alexander often has to wait if we’re trying to get Elliot to finish his tea, or if Elliot wants to have help with building a “fantastic track”, and do you know what, he really doesn’t seem to mind. I tend to vocalise this to Elliot “Alexander has to wait while mummy helps you Elliot, isn’t he doing well?” so that he realises that Alexander isn’t taking first priority all the time.

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We’ve had no tantrums from Elliot relating to Alexander, he genuinely seems to like him, and though the whining is still there and occasionally gets pretty loud and high pitched, Alexander seems to have been born with an ability to sleep through anything (again something that as a first time mum I don’t think I realised!) and I don’t get as cross as I had imagined I would.

I’ve also learnt that I am able to survive on less sleep than I thought possible. There are many nights where, between them, the boys wake us every hour or two, but this doesn’t seem too difficult. Certainly not as tough as the first few weeks with Elliot. (That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the weekend lie in when it comes!)

The main difference I’ve found is a lack of “me time”, I used to enjoy a few minutes peace while Chris bathed Elliot, but I’m now occupied with putting Alexander to bed. We’re also honing our super-organised skills to make sure we have everything that both children need whenever we go out.

Of course I really needn’t have worried at all about how I would find space in my heart to love another baby. Literally the moment Alexander was placed in my arms my heart stretched to fit him in, and to my delight I found that somewhere in there resides a whole other pot of love dedicated to him. This doesn’t detract from the love I have for Elliot, if anything I love my amazing three year old even more as he’s coped so well with being a big brother. My heart swells when I see him playing with Alexander. Being a mum to two is not a walk in the park, but it really is the most amazing thing.

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Your birth story – Alexander

Your birth story – Alexander

Dear Alexander,
You’re now 9 weeks old, and I feel like I should get your birth story written down before I totally forget it all.

We had decided, after Elliot’s dramatic entrance to the world, to opt for an elective cesarean. This was a decision we made really early on in the pregnancy and the consultant we were referred to, as I was considered high risk due to high blood pressure/pre eclampsia last time, was really supportive of our decision. I was adamant that I did not want to be induced, and that I didn’t want to go overdue as the preeclampsia with Elliot kicked in when I was overdue.

I had really frequent blood pressure checks with the midwife – lovely Dawn – and also took part in a blood pressure study where I had to take my own blood pressure twice a day on three days each week. Thankfully it stayed normal throughout.

Our elective section was booked in for the 11th December, three days before my due date and two days before Elliot’s third birthday! We had a pre-op assessment on the 5th and while we were talking to the anaesthetist we overheard admin staff in the next room talking about the list of elective sections and heard them say my name and then we were told our date had moved to the 18th. I was not happy as I felt it increased my risk of high blood pressure – and also felt that if I had been happy to go overdue I certainly wouldn’t have been signing myself up for major abdominal surgery, thank you very much! A quick email to my consultant had us moved back to the 11th.

We dropped Elliot at my parents and arrived at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford where we were told that due to several emergency sections, we would have to be rescheduled. I was really calm about this, to be honest I had thought it may happen – after all Elliot’s emergency section birth probably bumped an elective, so it felt a bit like karma! The doctor offered to fit us in on the 13th in a hospital about 20 miles away, but I wanted to have the baby in the JR, so we opted for the 16th, only 2 days after my due date.

So on the Monday arrived again at Delivery Suite at 7.15am, and after a short wait we were told we were first on the list and we’d have our baby by 9.30! It was suddenly very real.

We were inundated with anaesthetists (Lisa and Alex), doctors and midwives, each asking for forms to be completed. I was asked to change into a very attractive hospital gown, and then walked into the theatre. It was the same one where Elliot was born three years and three days earlier.

The anaesthetists and midwives looked after me so well. I was asked to sit up and perch on the edge of the bed while they placed the spinal block and the epidural. This was 100 times easier than when I was asked to do the same while in labour with Elliot! I was then gently laid down, as my legs had gone tingly, and then sprayed with cold spray to make sure I was completely numb. I was hooked up to lots of machines and a blood pressure cuff, and then suddenly your daddy was next to me with a theatre gown and hat on – there was no time for any of that with Elliot’s birth.

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The whole room felt so calm and peaceful, and everyone was so friendly. The staff did a who’s who (where they all say their name and role) and then three operation started. It seemed to take a while – again totally different from last time where it took only 8 minutes from the decision to do a cesarean to Elliot being born! – but soon the lovely anaesthetist Alex told us it was nearly time, and reminded everyone that I had asked to be told whether you were a girl or a boy by your daddy. I looked at him as he looked over the blue sheet, and he said “it’s a boy!” You were born at 9.27am, so when they said we’d have you by 9.30 they really meant it!

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I got a cuddle and some skin to skin, which wasn’t possible with Elliot, and have to say that’s the time I started crying – I couldn’t believe how easy it had all been, and I was just so relieved you were here safe and sound.

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Once I was all stitched up, we were wheeled round to the observation ward where your daddy was waiting for us there. For a long while, we just sat and wondered what we were meant to do! I was desperate to see Elliot but he couldn’t come up until 3pm so we spent time staring at you, watching you feed, and sharing cuddles.

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The whole experience was so different to Elliot’s birth, and I really feel like it was a healing experience after the previous trauma. I was up and walking about within hours and despite not getting much sleep the first night – I was too afraid to sleep in cases I slept through your little snuffles (you are not a loud baby, and still only cry if you’re really REALLY hungry!) – it felt so wonderful to be a mummy to two fantastic little boys!

Lots of love,
Mummy xxx