Flying with young children is the least possible relaxing start to a holiday one can possibly imagine. I would liken it to trying to squash five baby monkeys into a shoe box. The lid of which is a fraction too small. Whilst someone batters you round the head with a book every 30 seconds. But it doesn’t have to be so stressful. If everyone would just chill the f**k out then we could all have a lovely time…
I have been a little quiet recently. Between my two darling girlies, a (very) boozy summer and trying to get my new business off the ground, life has been a little hectic. Off the back of one of these boozy summer evenings, we…acquired (?) a week in a villa in Tuscany. I question the word acquired because it was won (?) via a silent auction at a charity ball we attended. Is won even the right word? That is like saying “I won” on eBay. The truth is that it was bid on by my heavily inebriated Husband.
Despite the fact that all we had to go on was a grainy 3cm x 3cm picture and a description that read “Enchanted extravaganza in a 5-bedroom villa in Tuscany complete with private pool”, he bid rather more money than I would have for a complete unknown entity. The auction host chat had gone on a bit and we, having lingered by the cocktail bar for too long, returned to our table to see what the slightly muffled monologue was about. Drunk Husband nabbed the table iPad and sneakily bid on some random artwork and signed boxing gloves.
I realised what he was doing and squawked at him to stop. He promised he would whilst continuing to sneakily push buttons looking at me like Gollum every time he ignored our pre-agreed financial limit. He insisted he was bidding on a holiday for us and it would be amazing. I had given up asking “how much?” and resigned myself to the fact we were going to end up with an unnaturally large frame in our siting room with giant boxing gloves sticking out and looking ridiculous. I imagined paying the cleaners extra to “accidentally” break the frame and turned away, shaking my head. At which point I saw my friend, also the evening’s compère, stalking towards me to publicly, and loudly, thank us for our overwhelming generosity. Over the microphone to a room full of about 800 people, my eyes widened as our name appeared on the screen. Second highest bidder of the evening behind the Chairman of some Bank. Shit. What had he done?!
Villa acquired/won/bought/embarrassingly-publicly-bid-on, we text our most seasoned traveller family friends and asked if they fancied joining us for a week in Italy. They immediately answered yes, without asking any of the questions that were going through my head – pool fencing, stair gates, number of breakable antiques…you know, the boring stuff. I told myself I was worrying over nothing and I silently thanked them for paying half of what we would have had to pay on our own. All in the name of charity right?! We booked our flights a few weeks later, and as I write we have just returned from a week in beautiful Tuscany.
On the whole, it was a lovely week. It didn’t get off to the greatest start but it definitely improved after we arrived.
We like an early flight and so booked the 6am out of Gatwick to Pisa. Staying at the Premier Inn the night before, we had a nice leisurely drive to the airport, stopped for dinner, dropped the car off and then were all in bed nice and early ready to wake up at 3.30am. For Girly no1, who is almost 4, this first night was the highlight of her holiday. All of us in one tiny hotel room, beds jammed together in a row, she loved it. She actually spent the rest of the holiday asking when we were going back to the first hotel.
Girly no2, nearly 2, also appeared to love it. I say appeared, her fondness was expressed by crapping all over the bed sheets of all four of the beds. “How?” you might reasonably ask. In putting her PJ’s on, I whipped off her nappy and she pulled one of her roll-and-run manoeuvres, scurrying after her sister, who was launching herself from one side of Bed Row to the other. Amidst all the squealing and giggling, it just became too much. Poo everywhere. All over the starched white sheets. Eventually we cleaned up and everyone settled in to a short night’s sleep.
I Get It
The next morning we boarded our flight with three slightly hysterical little girls. Flying SleazyJet, we were all in a row, Husband, Girly no1 and I. Girly no2 does not yet have her own seat so was excitedly flinging herself from one lap to the other, while everyone else boarded the plane. I noticed the couple that sat in front of us. They didn’t really look like “kid people” but hey, it’s an hour and 45 minutes to Pisa, how bad could it be?!
Before I go off on my diatribe, I want to tell you that I get it. I get that toddlers, babies and children can be a pain in the arse on an aeroplane. Husband and I spent many pre-children years travelling all over the world. We have been sat near the screaming child. We have had our seats kicked for an entire flight that, just when you give into the dream of being in your bed soon, you’re held in the air circling London for an extra hour. I have had my hair pulled and been woken up repeatedly from a hungover doze by a little hand tapping me on the back of my head. And sure, it’s a bit annoying. But! But, dear readers! I just dealt with it. I whacked on an eye mask, had a few drinks, snuggled up to Husband’s shoulder and did my best to ignore it. And when the parent of said child walked up and down frantically apologising I smiled warmly and said “don’t worry, it’s fine.” You know why? Because I’m not an arsehole. And I know that adding stress to an already stressful situation is the worst possible thing to do.
What I did not do was tut, complain, moan, glare, mutter angrily or stare. Which is exactly what Toad Face and Coconut Head (terms of endearment for the couple sat in front of us) did the whole way to Pisa.
In fairness to the Girlies, they were really well behaved. They weren’t crying or screaming, there were no tears or fighting, there was just a bit of movement and the odd over-excited outburst.
Girly no2 couldn’t remember any of her previous flights and was both excited and terrified to be on an aeroplane. She swapped laps a few times, she stretched out her short fat legs and she played with the tray on the seat in front a bit. Because she’s 1 and a new place is interesting to her.
Girly no1 sat quietly most of the time on the iPad with her new headphones on, occasionally shouting “GORLY!” in a too-loud voice to her best friend across the aisle because she doesn’t understand that her voice increases by 50 decibels when her ears are covered. I found it hilarious. The first few times anyway! She also nudged the seat in front a few times because her legs are the perfect length to stretch from one seat to the other and at 3, she has no concept of distance, pressure etc. Why would she? She’s 3.
The man and woman in front of us were the worst possible people to be sat in front of me and my lovely-though-not-very-still family. They were tutters. And moaners. And grunters. And starers. With evil eyes. And big pig noses. And slobber hanging from their jaws. Ok I may have made that last bit up but they definitely weren’t kind. They turned round every minute or so to glare at us. It made me paranoid, edgy and fraught. And it made what should have been quite a sweet fuss-free experience a really fractious one that had me holding my one year old’s feet together in a bid to stop her moving. We had to try and pin her to one of our laps instead of letting her gaze out at the clouds or peek her head into the aisle to make new friends.
Their behaviour had me snapping at Girly no1 to stop wriggling. It made us hissy and snippy when really, there was no need. I know there was no need, not because I can see no wrong in our children (for evidence read any of my previous posts), but because they were by general standards, pretty well behaved. And I’m very clear on whether my children are doing horrible things to upset other people. This was confirmed by a member of cabin crew and at least two other travellers who told us so, unprompted after we landed. We were the last to get off the plane. We picked up all of our toys from the fun bag I had packed (previous post on Flying With Babies here) and disembarked the aircraft.
This anxious start to everyone’s holiday was just unnecessary. It didn’t do any of us any good. Toad Face and Coconut Head were grumpy and we were stressed out. The girlies obviously didn’t give a shit – why would they? That said, they don’t respond well to a snappy parent, because small people are mood sponges and the more agitated their parent becomes, the more annoying the child becomes. It’s science (I know, I should be a teacher).
I wanted to stop to Toad Face and Coconut Head and discuss the impact of their behaviour with them. But what would be the point? I doubt they will be any less grumpy until they have children of their own. If they ever do. We will always be annoying to some people. I accept that. But it’s for such a short period of time. And we do our best to contain our annoyingness. We take our own entertainment and food and whatever else we need to do to try and be inconspicuous. We’re definitely not going to travel any less.
They had somehow ended up near us at baggage reclaim. I sat on some seats, glowering at them and ranting in my head. “Just you wait til you never read my blog!” I thought! The three girls ran around burning off some pent up energy. I secretly hoped one of them might trip them up, then I thought, let it go. You’re on holiday. And, in the spirit of Elsa, I did.
Bonus: Free Advice on Flying With Young Children
Just quickly, I want to point out here to any new parents thinking of flying: I have heard some of you talk of not flying until your child has reached their first birthday. NO! THIS IS WRONG! Flying with a tiny little little person is easy because they are still and they are used to being in one place. The bad time is between starting to crawl and walk and pre-being-able-to-be-engaged-in-an-activity. That’s the nightmare phase. This is the one we are in the thick of now! Just some free advice for you.
Thanks for stopping by! If you have enjoyed, please feel free to share with your friends. Apologies for the long gap between posts. You will maybe be pleased to know that I have already started on the next post so hopefully it will appear on here sometime soon. Maybe. Love you! Bye!
Those of you that regularly read my blog may remember me talking about my fear of birthing a psychopath. Turns out it wasn’t unfounded. Girly no2 is displaying some real tendencies. And with the quiet questioning brain of Girly no1 at her side…I’m concerned. Have I birthed the world’s next political powerhouse? Hillary and Bill? Or is it more like Hitler and Himmler? I’m really left wondering is my toddler a psycho…
I don’t know why I thought I may birth a psychopath. I assume the thought crossed everyone’s mind at some point during their pregnancy. We always knew that a combination of our personalities have the making of a psycho. Husband’s friendly chirpy facade covering a guilt-free, unemotional detachment from all but his closest inner circle. My pensive, calculated mind and my ability to meticulously plan for every eventuality. These personalities combined with our Hollywood good looks (HA!) you basically have Patrick Bateman of Hampshire complete with 150gsm business cards printed in Helvetica. I started to give it real consideration after I read Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, although the parents seem surprised in that book. Husband and I would not be.
Sweetness and light
Girly no1 quickly put our fears to rest as her personality emerged. At nearly 4, she’s a carbon copy of me but untainted by age and life! So she is still sweet and kind. She asks questions (interrogates) like I do but it’s with genuine curiosity and keenness to learn. She’s not yet mastered manipulation and she doesn’t really have a temper, only ever having had one meltdown which shook us all so much I wrote a blog about it. She scores highly on the empathy scale. She can be reduced to tears watching someone else be sad. She cries at films and cuddles her friends to try and make them feel better when they are sad. She gently pats her little chubby hands on their cheeks telling them not to worry (this makes me cry when she does it to me). She is emotional like I am (I cried last week when Dani and Jack were reunited). She re-tells events from her day at nursery welling up when Lauren didn’t want to be her friend but was only joking, or when Seb walked too fast so fell and hurt his knee. She feels their pain. So I don’t think she is the next Hitler, Mussolini or Trump (yep, I just bracketed them all together). Unless really heavily influenced I’m not sure Girly no1 has it in her to do anything horrible.
Girly no2 however is a whole new kettle of fish. She is a charmer. She loves to make you laugh. But she will kiss you with that cute smiley face then slap you and run away. She sucks strangers in, attracting their attention with cutesy giggles, a little lisp and y’s instead of l’s when she talks (Heyo!). Then when someone bends down to chat with her, she flings her head to the side ignoring them. Or she growls and lowers her brow looking out under it like Damien in The Omen. She toys with people’s emotions. She only really likes Mumma, Daddy and her sister. Everyone else is a puppet in her show. As I started to type this she was staring at her sister’s back. After a couple of minutes she suddenly launched herself at her, pushing her with all her might. When no1 didn’t respond satisfactorily she had another think, then tried again using her whole body. It’s disturbing to see an 20-month old plotting to take down her nemesis. But she was relentless and she persevered until eventually she knocked no1 over, catching her off balance. She sat smugly watching her afterwards, looking very pleased with herself. I imagined her making mental notes on angel of trajectory, speed and length of approach. I could almost see her slowly, imperceptibly nodding.
As well as already being a master manipulator, enjoying causing pain and lack of emotion, she shows signs of another psychopathic trait. Lack of remorse. A few days ago, Girly no1 was doing her normal thing of making her baby sister laugh by lying on her wriggling. No2 had been laughing when suddenly she sat bolt upright, reached into her sisters hair and pulled out a huge clump. No1 screamed and cried. No2 watched her for a moment then began to mimic the noises and sounds. No tears though. I stood her up and said look how much she had upset her sister, how she should say sorry etc. She stopped her shouting, looked at me and said “No!” with a little pursed mouth. I was momentarily stunned. I sat her just outside the room facing the baby gate at the top of the stairs. She could still see us and sat there watching me comfort Girly no1. I didn’t think for a moment she would stay there, but she did. After a couple of minutes I went and said “come and say sorry to your sister for hurting her and give her a cuddle”.
I left her again for a couple of minutes. “Are you ready to say sorry now?”
A few more minutes passed. To her credit she didn’t move from the spot I had left her. “Come on,” I said, thinking she’d probably forgotten why she was there in the first place. “You hurt your sister and it made her sad when you pulled her hair. It’s not kind”. Slowly and deliberately she stood up, walked to her sister and cuddled her.
“Aaaaah” she said.
“Say sorry” I gently coaxed.
She stared at me for what felt like a very long time looking back and forth between her sister and I. Eventually she whispered “Sowee”. I didn’t even know she could whisper.
Is My Toddler A Psychopath?
Other psychopathic traits include narcissism (tick), impulsiveness (tick) and lack of responsibility (tick). Tick tick tick. Oh god. In a hot sweaty moment of realisation, I did some research. I discovered that scientists believe that there is a psycho gene. Should we all get tested?! What do you do about that? I stressed out some more. What have we created? What have we inflicted on the world?! What if my mini Hitler influences my kind little fluff headed no1 and then they become the first notorious psycho sister duo in the UK. I’m not sure I’m mentally capable. The good news is that with real nurture, psycho’s can live normal lives and actually live amongst us. Reflecting on it, I actually think we know a few (wondering how many of my friend’s will question whether I’m talking about them!). You just have to be firm and moral. Lots of apologies and taught empathy – Dexter style. We can do this.
Or Maybe Just A Toddler
Of course it might just be that my hilarious little toddler is just that. A toddler. Pushing boundaries, learning about herself and others, learning about cause and affect. Learning how to communicate, influence and negotiate. It might just be that she is a strong mind and a big personality on tiny shoulders. Or I may have birthed the next Hindley. We’ll just have to wait and see.
If you haven’t read this with your tongue in your cheek then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. My girls are beautiful and kind hearted. If not a bit weird. But then who isn’t?! If you’ve enjoyed it please like and share!
There are lots of different types of Mum. The shouty Mum, the worky Mum, the too-much Mum, the obsessed Mum, the cool Mum, the unconfident Mum, the hippy Mum, the growly Mum, the pretending-to-hold-it-together Mum, the why-am-I-a-mum Mum…they’re all loveable and hateable in their own way. I think I am one part Growly Mum, one part too-much Mum and two parts pretending-to-hold-it-together Mum. The one Mum I am definitely not though, is the Super Enthusiastic Mum.
She is a whole new breed. She makes me feel bad. She makes me feel boring and dull and grey. There is a Super Enthusiastic Mum at nursery who does the same drop off times as me. Around her I transform from appropriately-warm-and-chatty Mum to muttering, awkward and looking-down Mum. It’s strange as I’m not normally affected by people to this degree, not anymore. Everyone so often though I meet someone who makes me recoil into myself. And Super Enthusiastic Mum is one of those people.
Super Enthusiastic Mum
I could compete, but I know I will lose. I’m not as peppy. Not as loud. And definitely not as smiley. Especially not when I have just been dragged from my slumber. Super Enthusiastic Mum, you see, is one of those little bouncy blonde Mum’s who I know has never stopped to question whether her volume bothers anyone. And why should she? She’s not doing anything wrong. She seems lovely and confident. And she obviously loves her children. I mean really obviously. She is really loud about her love. She takes up all the space with her love, enthusiasm and volume.
We both drop off our Girly no2’s (about 18-months old) in the tiny space of the entrance to the Baby Room. Her being half my size but twice my personality, she takes up 80% of the space (simple maths). We hand over our babies, I nod quietly to her keyworker “yes, she’s fine, great night, slept well etc”, kiss her on the cheek and hand her over. Super Enthusiastic Mum throws her hands in the air and declares it the best night they have ever had. She grabs her baby back again and smothers her in kisses her all over before eventually releasing her to the floor, not letting go of her hand yet. She eventually does and as she walks up the stairs behind me, she shouts “love you” over and over until she finally she is out of ear shot. I stumble into Girly no1’s Pre-School room smiling at her key worker. “Morning!” I say with a small smile as I hang up her bag and coat, changing her shoes into slippers. I bend down for a cuddle, kiss her on the head, tell her I love and tell her to pop to the toilet before they go on the walk. She reminds me to wave to her at the window.
My way down the stairs is blocked by Super Enthusiastic Mum who is telling her new audience about the best night they ever had (which is every night, in case you’re wondering). She gets her Girly changed into her walking gear, slobbering all over her and holding her tight. She loudly shouts about how they are about to have the best day ever – how the walk will be full of twittering bluebirds, singing squirrels and luscious flowers surrounded by dancing honeybees. She tells how her playtime will be enthralling, fun and exciting! They bounce around together, laughing. Once dressed there is a further round of kisses and cuddles as she eventually releases her no1 and they agree to race to the window.
I walk down the stairs, out the door and I stop to wave to my Girly, who is waiting at the window for me. We mouth I love you. She makes a heart with her tiny hands and I nearly cry. As I head towards the car, Super Enthusiastic Mum rushes out. She sees her no1 and shouts “You beat me AGAIN! AGAIN! EVERY DAY!”. She doubles over laughing then looks up to shout “love you” over and over from the street and they blow kisses. When they have finished their overt coo-ing, she goes back to the window where our babies are happily playing. She raps loudly to attract their attention and blows yet more kisses. I slink away. I can’t cope. It’s too much.
Last week I was running late and Super Enthusiastic Mum was on her way out as I was on my way in. She patted my Girly no1 on the head and said (loudly) “I believe you definitely will kiddo!” in her cheerful sunny tones. I wondered if no1 had whispered “can I come live with you Mrs Sunshine?” when I wasn’t concentrating and felt slightly burnt. Then I remembered the tshirt she was wearing that we had argued about that morning. It has metallic rainbows on it and says “I will change the world”. I begrudgingly agreed that yes, she probably would, and went on feeling even more uninteresting than I normally did after our interactions. She skipped off to her nearly-new Range Rover to retrieve a beautiful fluffy dog and then bounced over the road to meet her bouncy blonde friend with a bouncy blonde dog so they could all go on a bouncy blonde walk together.
There is a Super Enthusiastic Dad too
The other morning she was accompanied by Super Enthusiastic Dad. There’s no way he’s that full-on with his love…surely,I thought. But yes. Super Enthusiastic Mum and Super Enthusiastic Dad are cut from the same cloth. There was twice the amount of “love you’s” twice the amount of kiss-blowing and ten times the laughter because, isn’t it hilarious when you can see your little Girly waving goodbye and shouting I love you from the window? HAHAHAHAHAhahahaha…
No. No Super Enthusiastic Mum and Super Enthusiastic Dad! Calm it down! Every day and every night can’t be the best night! I imagined their ‘best nights ever’ – nipple tassles, belly dancing and shimmies while they sloshed Cristal around their palace made of gold.
Is Sainsburys that exciting?
The other day I saw Super Enthusiastic Mum, Super Enthusiastic Dad and Super Enthusiastic Girlies in our local supermarket. I was ahead of them and unrecognisable without children (Super Enthusiastic Mum doesn’t have time to be worrying about who other people are). I discreetly watched them from the aisle ends, lurking in the milk fridges while they (loudly) danced around the cheese. My shoulders dipped at the peacefulness of my shop. I had to remind myself that shopping with two children is actually a different kind of hell involving at the very least a half eaten bag of apples, a nibbled baguette and eventually sweets from the banned list, culminating in me asking a very grumpy checkout operator desperate to go on their break whether they have a bin for the brown apples cores and slimy banana skins I’m placing into their hands. How does the Super Fam even make this look fun?! As I quietly smile at the checkout lady scanning my items, they catch me up. Well…three of them do. The other Girly is at the other end of the supermarket slowly dawdling along. HA! I think. Enthusiasm, volume and laughter do not make children perfect! Then Super Enthusiastic Dad runs out and says “Run to me babe! Come on! Run as fast as you can and I’ll throw you in the air!”. She comes running with a big smile on her face and I chastise myself for imagining him tripping over a trolley. They all roll about laughing when she runs over. Stupid, perfect Super Enthusiastic Fam, I think.
I shouldn’t be so mean. I’m not actually that grumpy, I just sound it. They’re just so…..bouncy! And keen! And enthusiastic! There is always that one Mum who is the Tequila Sunrise to your Dark ‘N’ Stormy. The one who makes you question yourself. Do I worry enough? Do I work too much? Am I too snappy? Do I kiss them enough? And this Super Enthusiastic Mum is mine. I know deep down that we’re trying to do the same thing bringing up independent, well rounded and happy little people in our own way. That’s our job. Being a Mum is a leveller, you realise that we all have the same intentions. We are all cocktails of similar ingredients when you get down to it.
I go back to the car and look at myself in the rear-view mirror. I know that what they have is actually very lovely. How fabulous to be so chirpy all the time. Imagine your glass not only being half full but constantly bubbling over with possibility and imagination? We try for this but we just have a few more shades of grey in our life. We can’t help it. And actually….I quite like it. It’s more us. We’re just not the loud and bouncy types. I look back to the mirror and practice smiling and say “hi” and “love you!” in my loudest voice. I wobble my head from side to side and try to smile for longer than two minutes. It makes my face ache. I sneer and go back to my resting bitch face. That’s better.
Thanks for reading this far! How kind! In the unlikely event that you are Super Enthusiastic Mum reading this, please don’t be offended. Know that I admire your energy and love. I promise to try and be more like you. If you’re not her, and are a slightly-grumpy-in-the-morning soul like myself then please do share with your Super Enthusiastic friends so they begin to understand what they do to us – Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Until next time my friends.
Husband freaked us both out this week. One of the nursery girls asked him where Girly no1 would be starting school and if he had added it to the list so he could organise some play dates (she obviously doesn’t know him very well). He ran home in a panic-stricken flurry. “Where’s she starting school? When? Have we applied? Why didn’t you talk to me about it? The list! We need to add her to the list!”…
I laughed affectionately as he counted the months on his fingers. He confirmed with me that she started when she was 4 and that the school term starts in September. His face was flooded with relief as he realised we hadn’t missed anything. Being a September baby, she doesn’t start school til next year, a full 18 months away. I briefly asked myself whether he thought I was that bad I would miss something so monstrous. Does he not know how anxious I am about her starting school?! Starting school sucks! It’s the worst! We still have a year a half, but already it makes me feel a bit nauseous.
Parents of older children will laugh at me for this. Parents of younger children will (mostly) nod in sympathy. My mum will cover her face and laugh. She will laugh because I hated starting school. Hated it with a passion. And I hated every September starting a new class.
I especially hated having a new teacher in a new room and new people. In fact, the only thing I liked was the new books, especially in senior school when we got to cover them in sticky back plastic. That played perfectly to my slightly autistic need for perfection. I go into a trance-like state of admiration in the library if I come a across a neatly covered book with no bubbles, a smooth plane and perfectly folded corners. (I’m such a weirdo, I probably shouldn’t share this stuff).
The night before going back to school after a long hot summer I would cry all night. In my teenage years, the tears were replaced with a face of thunder, grunts and lots of stomping (more than usual). I struggled to shake it off as an adult. I would get that same ‘back to school’ feeling most Sunday evenings and every time I returned from holiday. If I happened to have PMT on my first day back I would definitely cry as I left the house. Yes! I am the personification of what you would call “a big baby”. It’s probably why I’m so happy now I don’t have to go to work on a Monday morning. Just to my sofa! No more back to school feeling (virtual high fives with myself).
My first few years of school were nothing less than traumatic for my poor Mum. After prising me away from her leg and ‘jollying me along’ into class she would go back to the car to cry into the steering wheel because I had sobbed since waking up. Clock watching until an acceptable amount of time had passed, she would call and check how I was. Inevitably I was fine. Well, almost fine. One time I was still in tears because I had missed my snack at break time as I couldn’t open my new lunchbox. Cue many future years of making me practice opening my lunchbox every day for two weeks before going back to school. This story story can still make my Mum cry if you catch her on a bad day now.
My own memories must not rub off on Girly no1. I’ll do everything I can to not let this happen. But I also know that she is a carbon copy of me. She is very sensitive and any ruffling of her feathers results in tears first, other feelings afterwards. Yesterday she cried for 25 minutes because her hair band broke (it was from Poundland, I don’t know what she expected). The week before she moaned for a whole day about why her best friend didn’t want to kiss her goodbye (she wants to marry this friend but I’m not sure her family are as open to lesbianism as we are). It took her 6 months to settle into nursery, then it has taken a good couple of months to settle each time she has changed groups (you know, moving from one side of the room to the other…having to climb an extra set of stairs…big changes). She’s not great with change.
Ow, My Heart
I didn’t used to like change either, though strangely now I fall into the early adopter category. I quite like change and am willing to give most things a go. This may be all my years of project management. That doesn’t help me with Girly no1 though, whose worries, reactions and concerns feel like physical pain in my heart.
It’s my job to help her through this though. There have been times in my life when I have questioned Mum’s ‘meanness’ to me when I was little – her constant reiteration of “you need to toughen up” and “just stop crying and get on with it” – but now I’m in the thick of things with my own offspring, this is what I need to do more of. Tough love. It’s probably what has led me to being a fairly robust adult. Without it, I wonder whether I would I have competed in tennis tournaments to jeers from mean girls from school. Would I have been able to hold my own in a boardroom of much older men? Would I ever have started Making Little People or That Works For Me? I doubt it.
Starting School….next year
This doesn’t help me with Girly no1 starting school though. I’m already planning – manically planning. How I can make this transition easier? We will talk about it lots. Buy an easy to open lunchbox. Meet lots of people in her class. Go there lots so she starts to feel comfortable. I wonder if we could invite her teacher to tea…..(jokes). (Kind of). I know that everyone goes through it and I won’t be the only stressing about it, I may be the only one stressing about it 18 months ahead of time though! Whichever way it goes I’m sure I will be that Mum weeping first in her car and then again at home on the sofa. Someone in this house needs to keep the back-to-school mantle burning!
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! And thank you so much to everyone for your kind words on my last post, The Miscarriage Rollercoaster. We are much, much better and as you see I have found a new thing to cry over! Believe it or not I’m actually quite a happy and chilled person, hard to get that from this blog isn’t it?! I always love your likes and shares so please do the honours if you have enjoyed. Until next time amigos!
I haven’t posted anything for a while. And this post isn’t fun or funny I’m afraid. It’s sad and a bit teary. Because that’s what miscarriages are – sad and teary and a lot of other things…
I’ve been very quiet recently because on top of trying to build (by which I mean start) my business That Works For Me. I have fallen pregnant and then had a miscarriage. And it’s really knocked me for six. It’s knocked everything out of me, my energy, my motivation, my smile…I have felt really bloody sad.
Last month I was late for period and filled with dread, I did a pregnancy test. I feel horrible admitting it, but I was really upset that it was positive. As well as the business we had the most fun summer planned. I was feeling fit, the girlies are becoming more independent, we have holidays booked, festivals to go to, gigs to enjoy…a whole raft of grown up activities that I was really excited about enjoying. Mostly though it was about having some time for Husband and I, a little bit of time to enjoy each other because after three years of pregnancy-baby-pregnancy-baby, we needed it. Every couple does. It’s easy to lose each other in the first couple of years of having a child and I can see why so many couples drift apart.
Husband was super excited that the test was positive, as he has been every time we’ve seen the infamous blue cross. I, on the other hand, cried my eyes out. And I continued to cry for two weeks after we found out. I know that this is very selfish and I should have been grateful. I’m very aware. But my inner brat was in full foot-stamping-tantrum-throwing mode and I was really annoyed at the prospect of missing The Killers again. We told immediate family and our closest friends our news…we had to explain my red rimmed eyes somehow and ‘I’m now a drug addict’ wasn’t going to cut it.
After two weeks I was starting to accept my fate. Finally I started talking about bunkbeds and Lanolin (don’t try to breastfeed without it), casting sideways glances at tiny baby clothes in shops. I signed up to the normal baby email updates (poppy seed this week) and booked my first midwife appointment. Whilst I wasn’t yet beaming, I was no longer crying. I was imagining Girly no2 the dolly-obsessed-kamikaze jumping all over a newborn trying to stuff plastic dummies in her mouth while Girly no1 danced, sung and performed magic tricks; anything to try hold my attention. A smile was starting to creep onto my lips.
Exactly three weeks after finding out, I woke up with a mild stabbing pain low down on my left side and ‘early period’ symptoms elsewhere. I left it for a couple of days but it didn’t go away. The incredibly kind GP confirmed my worst thoughts – a suspected ep topic – and we were sent as an urgent case to the hospital. It turned out that urgent meant six hours of sitting in a depressing room with no air or natural light and having my blood pressure taken every three hours. This is a long time to discuss whether you will ever conceive again, if two children is enough, whether you should have bought a puppy, an SUV versus a people carrier, how you will manage bedtime with two parents and three children, and any other imagined problem your head can create.
We were eventually scanned. It was confusing. Not because of the sonographer, who was amazing with her explanations, but because on the surface everything looked ‘really healthy’ (her words) and it seemed I just pulled a muscle and had a bleeding cist. She said there was a possibility that the fetus wasn’t as developed as it should be for seven weeks so it could be what she termed a ‘failing pregnancy’ but on the surface everything else looked really healthy and it was likely to be date confusion. We were sent away for 48 hours to see what would happen. At the time you listen and nod and blurt out the questions you think you need answers to. It’s not until you have left that you start to analyse things and then the real questions come. For example, without going into great detail, we were clear on dates. We have a one year old and a three year old and….well, need I say more?! Let’s just say we knew our dates! But we questioned everything – when do you start counting weeks? Why is there a weird 10-day period when you’re not pregnant but is counted in how pregnant you are? Had we made this up so were we actually where we should be from a development point of view? The more questions we asked, the more likely a failing pregnancy seemed.
We picked the Girlies up, who had been collected by my Super Mum, put them to bed and then sat staring at each other. Waiting. It was a long evening and an even longer next day. We busied ourselves with the usual Friday activities. I spontaneously burst into tears throughout the day. Goodness knows what they thought in the hairdressers. I did manage to smile though when the receptionist came over to ask how long she should book in for “the lady who comes in for colour from the Ghetto in France”. It turned out to be a Chateau, but I was distracted for at least 5 minutes by this hilariously innocent mistake.
The following morning was our ten-year anniversary. A real landmark we were excited to celebrate. But instead of dropping the Girlies off to their Nanny and heading to Portobello Road as we had intended, we headed back to the hospital for blood tests to confirm what, by this point, we knew. It was a miscarriage. I had started bleeding quite heavily and the pain seriously ramped up. It wasn’t quite the anniversary gift I had in mind and I spent most of the day in tears.
The doctor at the hospital was amazing. She let us go as quickly as possible telling me to go home and rest. She promised to call later with the blood test results. I re-did my make up and we headed to the nearest pub via a couple of antique shops. It wasn’t quite Portobello Road but we managed to buy a few bits. It was clear that my body wasn’t going to let me get drunk but we had a couple anyway, staring at my phone waiting for it to ring. Eventually the Unknown Number flashed up. I hung up, wet eyes again, and told Husband that the blood test confirmed my hormone levels had halved. Our phones were buzzing constantly with loving supportive messages…every one of them made me, and sometimes Husband, cry again. We looked like a couple on the verge of divorce, on our phones, crying and holding hands. I’m surprised no one asked me if I wanted to Ask For Angela. We played Ker Plunk (you know how cool pubs are now by what board games they stock), went for dinner then we both fell asleep in the taxi home. We were in bed, cuddled up tight, for 11pm. Happy anniversary Husband.
The pain and bleeding went on for another week or two then it was gone. Physically it wasn’t too bad. The drain, for me, has been the rollercoaster of emotions that the last month has brought with it. The initial shock of finding out I was pregnant coupled with premature but gut-wrenching FOMO; the acceptance of my body changing and consequent re-planning of our grown up summer; the uncertainty of not knowing what an ache and pain will lead to; and then the deep deep sadness for both of us at losing a baby that wasn’t even a baby yet.
A few weeks on, I still find myself with wet eyes at strange times, as does Husband. It’s not that we don’t know that this one wasn’t meant to be, or that we can try again in a few months, or that it’s normal to cry, it’s just that you don’t expect it to feel as sad as it does. I went through the inevitable “this is my fault because I wasn’t happy when we found out” phase immediately afterwards but I know that’s not true. I keep trying to work out what I’m crying over. Is it the loss of the picture of our family of five? The chance of seeing my Girlies with a little tiny sibling? The fact it might have been a little Husband clone growing in me? All the things I think. All of those things coupled with cramps, hormones, nausea and sore boobs. Who doesn’t love to be a woman?!
Until I experienced it myself, I’ve never given a miscarriage too much thought. I know it’s sad for the couple going through it. I know that it’s particularly sad for people that are desperate for a baby and people that have been trying for ages. And I know that much worse things happen than this. We have been made aware of at least two couples in the last few weeks who have lost babies at delivery. That is something no one should ever have to go through and my heart goes out to them. But it doesn’t mean we can’t be sad about our loss. We thought we would have a new little baby in time for Christmas but now we won’t. And it’s ok to be sad about that. I would like to apologise to everyone that has been through this horrible experience though and send out love and kindness to you and your families. I get it now. And I’m as sorry for you as I am for myself.
I had a big internal debate with myself over whether to write this as it’s something that’s so private and like most people, we keep early pregnancy news to a very tight circle. For many of my friends, this is the first they will know of it. But blearily staring into the doctors’ sad eyes listening to her tell me that miscarriage affects one in four pregnancies, I feel like I should share it in case it brings just one person a little comfort. Some friends of mine recently ran the London Landmarks Marathon to raise money for the charity Tommy’s who raise money for research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. If you would like to donate to them, please do so here. I promise to cheer up next week.
Every expectant mother has trawled the internet looking for lists of what you need in your hospital bag. Stop Googling. It’s here, the definitive list of what you will, and definitely will not, need.
What you will need in your hospital bag:
A large, soft night shirt – one that can be lifted for breast feeding or cover your nether regions between contractions. Steal one from your Husband or treat yourself to one from M&S. Who cares if you look like your Nan, there’s a baby that needs to get out of your body. Definitely comfort over style on this occasion ladies!
A rubber ring or a round cushion (if you plan to deliver naturally) – when your lady parts feel like they fought 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, you don’t want any weight on your tender area. This seemingly extravagant pillow from JoJo Maman Bebe was totally worth the investment. I used it for sleeping with while I was pregnant, to lift my bum up after I gave birth and now I use it to put my baby in. Multi-purpose! And don’t worry, it comes with a washable pillow case.
Mega fat pants with loose waistbands – There’s so much indignity you need the pant equivalent of a cuddle from your mum. Some big, soft cotton briefs! These M&S pants were good. Following my c-section I had to cut through the elastic at the top, but they were great for after my vaginal delivery, when I just wanted a nice soft fabric that would hold an enormous maternity pad.
Leggings – again, comfort over style. There’s no way I could have gone home in jeans, even maternity ones. Chances are you’ll be shuffling from the ward to your front door via a car so as long as the camel toe is covered up, another day in leggings won’t kill you.
Fat socks and a hoody – and anything else cosy that helps you feel less violated.
Phone charger – you’ll want your camera to take a hundred photos of your little munchkin. And you’ll want to beg your lift home to get there faster.
Bank card – for TV or music to drown out the sound of other people’s babies crying.
Dry shampoo – there are no hair driers and you might not be able to move if you have to have surgery. A volumising Batiste is my favourite. I like oomph and wanted to not feel totally gross.
A fluffy towel – you’ll want to scrub yourself from top to bottom (except you won’t want to touch your very sore bottom) removing all trace of the hands and eyes that have been on you. So go soft. M&S are again a winner with their Egyptian cotton towels.
Toothbrush, lip balm, mascara and powder/tinted moisturiser – these items create your new mum look. Get used to it fitty!
Maternity pads – not sanitary towels, I cannot stress this enough! I had thrush and had to have steroid cream for the irritation done by wearing the wrong kind. Do not make this mistake!
Baby stuff – this is the easy bit. Vests in newborn and 0-3 month sizes, baby grows (same sizes), a hat, a blanket, nappies and wipes. Water wipes are my fave, I have a monthly ‘subscribe and save’ with Amazon making wipes, nappies and toilet roll much cheaper. Plus I never run out.
Car seat – don’t forget this otherwise you can’t leave the hospital.
You definitely will not need:
Dressing gown – hospitals are so bloody hot
Magazines or books – you’re a mum now. These things are there to collect dust, nothing more.
Eyeshadow & eyeliner – and anything else that takes more than 3 seconds to apply
An underwired bra – it takes me months to get back into these, especially if breast feeding. Stick with the softies until your boobies deflate.
Earphones – you don’t wanna look like a bad mum straight away. Give it a week at least.
Let me know anything I’ve forgotten. And don’t forget to share this amazing list of what you need in your hospital bag with all your pregnant friends using the link below!
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Last night we were sat playing and reading before bedtime when everything went pitch black and silent. After a shocked couple of seconds, the sirens began. Nope, not the air raid sirens of a blitzkrieg but the deafening screams of our toddlers. “Mummy, why is it dark? Daddy, put the TV back on! Mummy, why I can’t see?!” Power cut chaos ensued…
Moments before we were all applauding Girly no2 for climbing on to her Scuttlebug all by herself (big achievement when you’re one!). She did not appreciate being plunged into darkness on her own on the other side of the room. Girly no1 was snuggled into Daddy reading a book but still had an absolute meltdown. Her little three-year-old mind could not get her head around it. Understandable. We’d never given her a lesson on electricity and we’re not very basic campers (our tent has a disco ball in it) as you may remember from a previous post. I peeked through our shutters at the house I normally hate at the bottom of our garden, and for once was comforted by its’ presence. That and the fact it was all dark-windowed. It was just a good old-fashioned power cut.
We snapped into practical mode. “Grab the power cut kit!” I shouted. In my head, as I grabbed said kit from my imagination. Rummaging through boxes, I found torches in the garage and candles from the…oh no, I threw those away in a fit of annoyance when they kept falling out the cupboard and all over the floor. Torches would be fine. Luckily I have a battery fetish (nope, not that kind gutter mind) so we have packs of them in the garage. No2 rescued, everyone armed with a light of some description, we started to answer the onslaught of questions from Girly no1. “Why is it dark? Who turned the TV off? What is electricity? Has Nana stolen our lights? Will my night clock work? How will we find our teeth?” Most answerable, some less so. Ever tried explaining electricity to a 3-year-old? I think I’m going to have to do some sort of teaching qualification. I totally nailed the teeth question though. We strategically placed torches in the bedrooms and bathroom making the rooms look lit up from the hall. Lifting no1 up to check the other houses at 5-minute intervals made bedtime last rather longer than normal. But we cosily put our pj’s on all in the same room and then put both Girlies into bed, promising that Shimmer and Shine would be back to life by the time they woke up.
Netflix and Chill
We made our way downstairs, having left little camping lights in place of the usual night lights. “So what shall we do with our evening?” Husband asked, having established from Twitter that this power cut would last for at least a couple of hours. “Well I need to finish the washing….oh, no….I need to carry on working on the holding pages for That Works For Me….oh, no….” I answered. “Haha!” he laughed, “you can’t do any of those things! You’re going to have to sit and cuddle me and talk to me! Gutted! Let’s snuggle up and watch Netflix on the laptop!” I glanced at him waiting for the penny to drop. “We can tether to a phone!” he declared triumphantly.
“With your 15% of battery phone or my phone with no service?” I asked. “We need to keep at least one phone working in case the power doesn’t come back on and we freeze. In which case, we’ll drive to my Mums.” I pictured us shuffling up to my Mum’s house in the snow with rags for clothes, no shoes and our hands out-stretched in an Oliver Twist-esque manner. Then I remembered it’s 2018, we’re not homeless and we drive a 4×4 that isn’t dependent on electricity. I did ponder over just how much we rely on all things electric though. Phones, TV’s, heating…we can’t even boil water in our house without electricity. Then there is how we spend our time. How do you operate in today’s world without the internet, Sky, Netflix and EE? Can a marriage survive?!
Bizarrely that morning I had made dinner (balsamic chicken) in the slow cooker – something I haven’t done more than three times in the last year. At least we wouldn’t starve. We were down to two rubbish torches but managed to scoop some dark food into our dark bowls and we ate at our dark table. It was actually one of the most romantic meals we have had at home, often opting to eat on our laps in front of the TV at the end of our respectively exhausting days. We talked over our (for once) nice-tasting dinner, and did what any couple would do in these circumstances. Realised how totally unprepared we are for any disaster that would leave us without access to mobiles, supermarkets and takeaways.
We spent the rest of the meal making a plan for what we would in the event of disease outbreak or zombie apocalypse (Husband was nervous about missing the first Walking Dead episode of the season). We decided our safe haven would be Dad’s boat or our friends’ farm (who will thank us later when we arrive armed with Baked Beans and toilet rolls) and decided that we should probably buy a camping stove and some ‘tinned food’ (mmm! Ravioli!). We made each other laugh and remembered why we loved each other, as we often do left alone without children and devices. It was certainly more romantic than our valentines day dinner at the local curry house a week before, which had been prickly, for reasons we still don’t understand. It just happens that way sometimes.
“You know, they say this is why so many babies were born during wartime…the power cuts…” I said glancing at Husband (I would like to use the word ‘seductively’ here but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just not very seductive). Even in the near darkness I could see that his eyebrows had lifted. He looked at me hopefully and I smiled back at him. Then, as if by magic, all of the lights pinged back on and everything whirred and beeped back to life. “You best go finish those emails!” I laughed, heading towards the washing machine.
Thanks for stopping by dear reader. If my ramblings continue to make you smile, or you would like to offer me lessons in the art of seduction, then please do comment, like and share. Until next time I bid you adieu!
We have all had it. The well meaning comments or questions from people that you can’t believe come from a good place. The face just doesn’t match the voice! Here are my favourite from the list of things people say when you have a baby…
You look well! – You’re still fat!
Wow you look incredible! Really incredible! I can’t believe it! – Where’s your baby bump and how the hell did you get so thin so quickly? Bitch. (I’ve not experienced this one myself)
How’s she sleeping? – Shit! I didn’t know they did eye bags in that shade and size!
How are you feeding? – If it’s not the same as me you’re doing it wrong.
When can we go and drink prosecco? – You’ve been so boring recently.
Soon enough, you won’t remember the pain of labour – I tried my best to block out the hideousness of what happened to me but I will NEVER forget how your much it hurt when my child tore my vagina apart.
She’s so peaceful! – She doesn’t cry all the time you liar.
Your baby is so cute! – He looks like every other baby and I wouldn’t recognise it if I fell over it.
Oh sweet! – I’m not really interested in what you’re saying.
All babies look like Winston Churchill – Your baby looks like Winston Churchill.
Who does she look like? – I can’t see any of your husband in her, are you sure she’s his?
I’m sure mine was talking/walking/any-other-milestone by now – Behind already. Looking at you two, I can’t say I’m surprised.
Bluebell Apple… what a unique baby name! – Why would you torture your child with a name like that?
What a cute… baby. What is its name? – I am politely trying to figure out if your baby is a boy or a girl.
It’s amazing how much stuff you accumulate when you have a baby, huh? – Your house is a pigsty.
He’s really got a set of lungs on him! – I want to leave. Now.
It’s great you’ve been able to find the time to post so many pictures on Facebook! – I’m sick of your kids face.
Would you like me to watch the baby while you take a shower or something? – You smell.
Thanks to everyone for their submissions! Send me yours below, on Twitter (@makinglittleppl) or via Facebook and I’ll add my favourites to the list. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please like and share. Interaction really boosts my confidence and encourages me to write more. More blog posts available here.
It’s not often in your life that you buy a house, have a baby and quit your job in the space of 12 months. All this change has left me feeling reflective and I’m drawing some strange parallels. For example, friendships, if you think about it, are just like poo…
Girly no2 is having digestive issues. At 14 months, she’s really struggling with her poo. I think it’s quite common as the nurse wasn’t at all surprised when I told her that Husband and I had spent the weekend pulling poo from her bum. Nor did the girls at nursery, though they did at least pull a slightly disgusted face, much like the one on your face now. We spoke to the doctors after two gruelling days of grunting and sweating from her, and us. It culminated in us pinning her clammy little body to the floor, bicycling her legs and grabbing hold of the big brown log peeking in and out like a tortoise head, eventually pulling it out. Yuck.
It’s just not the relaxing family Sunday you picture when you imagine what life will be like. After cleaning the carpets, towels and bath mats and scooping up nappy sacks full of skid-marked nappies, we flopped onto the bed exhausted staring at the wall and wondering what had just happened. As we laid there, not speaking just touching little fingers, my mind wondered to the three pictures we have hanging above our bed.
Then, Then and Now
The first picture is of us at our wedding dancing happily around a grassy maze (you have to see it to understand) posed, but real at the same time. The second picture is us with Girly no1 when she is about 6 months old looking baffled by life. We all were. We (I) look pretty good in this picture, mainly due to all the fake tan, bleached hair, whitened teeth and, ahem, Photoshop-ing I demanded. I needed it, I didn’t know what was going on. The third picture is of the four of us as we are now, taken on my birthday last year looking happy, if not slightly tired and chubby (again, me). It was right before we dropped the babies off with Mum-In-Law to go out with friends for my birthday. A completely different set of friends to the ones that watched us dance in the maze at our wedding. Which I think is kind of sad.
We had a small wedding in Italy attended by just 34 people. I think there are at least 10 of those people that aren’t in our lives any more. Isn’t that really sad? I voiced this to Husband and he looked up and said “they’re all pricks, it’s not our fault” then immediately went back to making lion noises with the Girlies. I later voiced it to my besty, The Northerner, who is not known for her delicacy with words – “yeah that is bad, what you doin’ wrong?”.
More interested in analysing it with me than Husband, who prefers to deal in facts, figures and Twitterati, we went through the list. There were some obvious reasons for some of them, the ones that sued my Dad after our UK reception (yep, that happened), one family member that hasn’t spoken to me since our connecting family member died (obviously waiting for a reason to never have to talk to me again) and a couple of people from work who should never have been there in the first place and have since placed career over friendship (enjoy that in your old age, suckers!). Then there are the less obvious people, the ones from whom we just seem to have drifted apart.
We talked about how dynamics just change over time. Partners change, people move, babies come out. I nodded, pensively. “It’s a bit like poo really” I declared, having thought long and hard about it. Met with her blank face, I explained. “You know, sometimes a poo is really hard and difficult to get out, and you need someone else to intervene and tell you what to do. These are like those friends that are just a pain. They’re a drama. They need blood sweat and tears while they’re there, and then you’re left feeling violated afterwards.” She arched an eyebrow which I took to mean she wanted me to go on. “You need a fine white powder to fix these poos (meaning Movicol). With the friend, a fine white powder would result in a sweaty, self-obsessed fidgeting figure with verbal diarrhoea but maybe that’s what they were all along.” As my analogy drifted away from me, she laughed and urged me to go on. “The other end of the spectrum,” I continued, “are the wet, sloppy ones who just get all over the place. They come with a bit of a pain at the time and a bit more afterwards but they’re explosive. They’re your fun-time friends. Great on a Saturday night, but leave you with a hangover so you need a bit of a gap before you see them again!” By this point I couldn’t even keep a straight face but I carried on anyway. “Then there are the really good poos that slip out effortlessly. There’s no cleaning up afterwards. They’re easy. They might have some funny colours and indentations but they’re your funny bits so it’s OK. These are the Holy Grail of friends. The Perfect Turds!”
We fell about laughing and I didn’t say it at the time, but I thought about how she is my perfect poo of a friend. I wish I had recognised it at the time and made her my bridesmaid. I know she’ll be around forever. As will some of the other incredible new friends we have made in the last few years since having our Girlies. People who are so close to us it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t in our lives. If we were to have our wedding again now, our ‘now’ 34 would look very different to the ‘then’ 34. Life has changed a lot. But we’re a bigger unit than we used to be, and we know who we are now and what really matters. So maybe it’s OK that friends change. Poo changes too.
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Everyone says it. Everyone thinks it. Next year I shall be thinner/fatter/more relaxed/more organised drier/wetter – delete as appropriate. My desire is to earn an income again, and preferably one that utilises the skills I have spent the last 15 years building, not starting over in my local Co-op. I need to think, boss, lead, debate and challenge again (I’m so fun). Husband won’t let me near his business (can’t imagine why) so with no one else to boss around, I think it’s time I started working again…it’s time to be a Working Mum!… (more…)