Here we go again…

8 Dec

So it would seem that two years of torturous sleepless nights, endless shitty nappies, the trauma of breastfeeding, childbirth, constant arguing about ‘whose turn it is to get up in the night’, and the impact of our lives having been turned totally and utterly upside down, wasn’t enough to put us off. Yes, Hubby and I have decided it’s time to try for baby number 2.

Last time I had no idea what it would be like to have a child. Coming from a large extended family, I had an experience of babies and knew a lot about them, but until you have one of your own, you have no idea. Not a clue.

I spent a lot of my first pregnancy living in a romantic comedy, where my soon-to-arrive baby slept and never cried. Where I always looked immaculate because my baby happily gurgled on his playmat whilst I had 45 minutes to have a shower, dry my hair and apply my make-up. Where I was a domestic goddess and always had time to shop, cook and eat homemade organic meals. I pictured hubby and I having ‘date night’, time for us to talk. I was sure my life wouldn’t change that much. Bless my naive self.

This time I know what to expect. This time I know exactly what it will be like. I am fully aware what the first, second and third trimester will feel like. I am fully aware that I can kiss sleep goodbye for a long time. I know that I will be lucky if I get 4 minutes to shower. I know that the food will be ‘eaten’ with a baby on one knee, a toddler on the other and said food will probably be toast. I also know that date night will consist of hubby and I sitting at opposite ends of the sofa watching a box set, too tired to speak.

So why are we doing it again I hear you ask? I have always known that I want more than one child. I am one of five children (once you count half and step-siblings) and in my memories of childhood, my sister has the starring role. I want my son to have the same experience.

However, my main reason is that having a child is the single most amazing, wonderful thing Hubby and I have ever done. None of the sleepless nights, the pain of labour, the whirlwind your life becomes, none of it even matters when you’re a parent.

I was probably ready to try again when my little boy was a year old. Well, physically I was ready, mentally I wasn’t. I think it was more to do with the fact that my baby suddenly didn’t feel like my baby anymore, and I panicked. He was a full blown toddler and in my emotional state at him reaching one, I thought the answer was another baby. It wasn’t. It would have been far too soon. Being able to drink a bottle of wine was far more preferable.

But as he got nearer the grand old age of 2 and I started to think about the age gap between my children, it felt like time to do it all again. I’m not saying it’s the right time – I don’t think that exists when it comes to babies – but it felt like an appropriate time. Plus my little man sleeps well (minus a night of teething or illness) so I am aware there is light at the end of the tunnel with regards no sleep.

If I think too much about what having two children will mean, I’m terrified. But I also get excited and like most things with kids, the good outweighs the bad, every time.

Whatever Works

17 Apr

Okay, so 17.5 months into being a mummy and I have realised there is one phrase that pretty much summarises every aspect of motherhood. It is ‘whatever works’ and it’s the system that I’ve employed since my son was born. As he steams head first into toddlerhood and finds both his independence and his voice – i.e. the word ‘no’ – I can see myself using the ‘whatever works’ principle more and more.

Before I had my son – and I’m sure most mothers will appreciate this – I had an idea, however small, of what sort of mother I wanted to be.

I knew I wanted a natural birth and I had one. I knew I would breastfeed and I did. I knew I didn’t want to use a dummy and I didn’t. For about a day. I went from being rather snobby about ‘plugging him up with something unnatural’ to 24 hours later practically taping it onto his mouth to stop it coming out. A new baby is scary. A new baby with a cry as loud as a large man is utterly terrifying. Suddenly the dummy was my best friend. I felt terribly guilty about it and I would take it out the minute a camera came out, but as he peacefully sucked away I knew I had done the right thing.

One thing I never thought I would do is follow some sort of routine. I used to look down on mothers who did this, until I became one. 6 weeks in and a with baby suffering from colic, I was suddenly a mother who wasn’t coping with having no control and I read Gina Ford. I know, I know, I can hear the gasps as I type. But it worked for me. I took everything she said with a pinch of salt – you have to – but I liked the sleep and feed times and realised they were pretty much what my son was doing anyway.

For the record, I also read the Baby Whisperer and another one which I can’t remember and they’re pretty much all the same, just dressed up in different language. A routine is a routine whichever one you pick. Either way, whether you follow one or make up your own, I think any routine is very important for a baby and a mum and ultimately you will do ‘whatever works’ for you.

Since having my son and talking to lots of other mum’s, the conversation often goes back to bed time / nap time and how one’s child is currently sleeping.

In the early days when our babies had three naps a day there was a lot of chat about buggy or sling or cot. Did we put our babies down in the cot or rock them to sleep in our arms or do it in transit? I can say I did them all. Cot first and when that didn’t work he went in the sling. When that didn’t work hubby or I pounded the streets with the push chair. I remember hubby bouncing up and down outside the back door in the freezing cold trying to get the boy to sleep in the Baby Bjorn. It became the only way to do it for about two months. Poor hubby nearly had frostbite, but he did perfect the steady hand needed to transfer from sling to cot without waking the baby.

The other technique we employed was ‘the coat’. When our son was newborn we swaddled him, which when introduced meant he slept a lot better. When he started to grow out of the swaddle we panicked. He still had the morrow reflex which meant his jumpy arms were waking him up. One day we put him down in his new blue John Lewis snowsuit (yes, an outside coat) and he slept really well. The second day he wouldn’t sleep until the coat went on. From that day on he was in the coat day and night. It became the stuff of legends. It also became filthy and involved a complex wash / dry / sleep procedure. I actually considered cutting the feet off when he started to outgrow it. We were so terrified he wouldn’t sleep without it and didn’t think a sleep bag would cut it. I loved that coat. I think I might actually frame it.

The sleep bag did work. In fact he’s still in one. Partly because I love how I don’t have to worry about him being cold, but mainly because I’m scared he won’t sleep without being in one. As any parent will admit, sleep is too precious to start experimenting with anything new, especially anything as unsecure as a quilt in the cot. The fear of a sleepless night means my son will probably be in a sleep bag until he’s 18.

There have been many tricks used over the last 18 months with regards to sleep. Euan the dream sheep was purchased before my son was even born and really came into his own around the 8 month mark. He’ll probably be taking Euan to university at this rate. We also went through a stage where I had to be in the room with my son until he went to sleep. He would hold my hand tightly on his cheek with his little hand and not let me go. Sometimes I wish he still did this.

Whilst he has always slept well in his cot, lately he won’t do this for a daytime nap and we are back to being in the buggy – usually on the move. The other day I realised if I gave him a bottle and put him in front of Cbeebies in the pushchair then he would also fall asleep. Naughty Mummy. I vowed I would never do this, but it works.

The bottle is actually a really good trick. During a period of 5am wake ups we gave him his morning bottle in the cot and he went back off to sleep until 7.30. God bless, Dr Brown.

Another recent addition to the ‘whatever works’ bag of tricks is the use of modern technology whilst travelling. If you’re sitting on a train or a bus in London and hear Peppa Pig, or Mr Tumble from an iPhone – that’ll be my son. In fact for a while every time my son picked up my phone he shook his head like Mr Tumble. 18 months ago I would have been horrified by this. Now I just think he’s clever impersonating one of his heroes.

I’ve always been pretty lucky with regards to food and so far not had to employ the ‘whatever works’ strategy. He will eat anything and we haven’t had to worry too much about fussiness. I’m sure it will come though. I had a slight taster the other morning.

My son decided he didn’t want his usual Shreddies or Rice Krispies or banana or melon. What he actually wanted was a mini BabyBel and some pickled onions. So that’s what he had. It was easier than having him throw himself on the kitchen floor in a strop because I insisted he had ‘normal’ food. As I said, ‘whatever works’. As long as he’s eating.

I did question it in my head – it being a rather odd choice – but who am I to say what one should eat for breakfast. At one stage in my life mine consisted of a cup of tea and a fag. I would draw the line if he insisted on that though.

Separation Anxiety (Again)

12 Mar

I hate leaving my son to go to work. There, I’ve said it. I BLOODY hate it. I hate having to leave my son in the care of another person for four days a week whilst I go into an office. I hate that I spend a large part of the day worrying about him and feeling terribly guilty that I am not with him. I hate that I had just started to get my head around being back and dealing with what it meant for my son and I and yet now, four months later, I’m having to go through all those feelings again because our nanny left.

It takes a lot of effort to drag myself out of bed, get ready and go to work. I genuinely start dreading it from the moment I put my son to bed, knowing in a few hours that I need to get up and do it all again. I struggle giving any level of importance to work tasks when the most important person in my life isn’t with me.  I thought that by now this would have been easier. It really isn’t. Going back to work is one of the biggest challenges I have faced so far as a mother. Until that moment I didn’t really know what guilt felt like. Now I do.

This isn’t helped by the fact my son’s separation anxiety really kicked in a few weeks after me returning to work. Leaving him as he screams and clings to me every single morning is horrific. I know he is fine once I’ve gone and I have waited outside until he’s stopped crying, which is always pretty quickly. The childminder assures me with messages and pictures after I go that he is fine. But still. It wouldn’t happen if I didn’t have to leave in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, our new childminder seems great. I had met her on my initial childcare search and would have gone with her had we not chosen the one-on-one option which we had thought best for our son. She is really nice and both hubby and I felt that it would be good for our son to mix with other kids and that one-on-one wasn’t as essential as it had felt when he was 11 months.

But I am back to constantly worrying about whether he is settled, happy, sad, or worst of all that he is missing me and wondering where his mummy is. I am wondering if he is looking around the childminders flat thinking, ‘where am I? This doesn’t look or smell anything like my house’. I am fretting that he isn’t getting enough attention because she also looks after a one year old full-time and a three year old part-time. I worry she doesn’t give him enough water, or food. I worry whether they get out enough, I worry whether she ‘gets’ my sweet precious boy who sometimes just needs a cuddle and a story. One of my biggest worries is his sleep and whether or not he will settle down in her place or whether he will fight it and she will give up and he will be shattered.

They had a day in the other day because the weather was bad and I don’t think she took his shoes off all day. Today this is all I can think about and I want to get up, walk over to my boss, hand my notice in and run home to my boy. (Hubby and I now make a point of taking his shoes off every time we enter her house).

I also feel that I have to act differently with a childminder than I did my nanny. As our employee I found it easier to have daily communication with our nanny.  On occasion I worried she would think I was micro managing her by asking for updates, but I found it easy to do it nonetheless. She only had my boy. Her job was to look after him and to do what hubby and I asked. A childminder works from her home and looks after other children too. I am aware she can’t be answering my worries constantly, but I also need to feel like I can ask her how he is. This is yet another thing that I wish I didn’t have to keep fretting about and it leaves me in a constant state of unease.

It’s not that I hate my job, I really don’t. But I would rather be at home with my son. It’s not that I don’t want to work, I do, I absolutely do. But I wish I could do both. It’s the eternal dilemma. I wish I could do my job whilst being with my son all day too.  I’m lucky my work agreed to let me come back for four days a week and I’m lucky we are in a financial position where this is possible, but it still doesn’t feel enough of a balance. My ideal would be three days a week, but I don’t think my company would let me do this and I understand that.

I am doing something rather exciting at the moment, which is helping me through the darker days. I have an idea for a baby product, which I am working on in my spare time. And no it’s not a nanny cam. But it could mean more time with my son. So watch this space….

Nanny McFlee

4 Feb

So last week my nanny ‘popped outside to make a phone call’ and never came back. In the middle of the day, from out of nowhere she disappeared. She had taken my son for a walk in his pushchair to get him to sleep as he wasn’t settling in his cot. She brought him back, said she was going outside to use her mobile so she didn’t wake him up and never returned.

She didn’t vanish into thin air. I received a text message from her informing me that she gone outside, seen the bus and got on it to go home. Apparently she had a headache and was almost falling asleep because she had, as she put it, ‘nothing to do or motivate her to stay energetic’. Apparently she was struggling. Apparently I knew this and for the last two days because I had worked at home (my son was really poorly so I thought it would be best if I worked from home) it had meant I had kept her there with nothing to do. Apparently this was unfair.

I should explain.

My (ex) nanny is pregnant. About 20 weeks. According to her, this isn’t something she planned and she only discovered she was when she was 12 weeks pregnant. Or so she says. The pregnancy and whooping cough leaflet I found on the buggy about five weeks after she started must have been someone else’s then…

Our nanny getting pregnant is something hubby and I joked about happening. We laughed about how it would be typical luck for us that we would take on someone to look after our son who then gets pregnant and we end up not only having to re-settle our son with someone else, but also be liable for maternity pay. We should never have tempted fate. Silly us for joking about it.

When she started it was great. I found going back to work incredibly hard and after much searching I really did feel like I had found the right person to look after the most precious person in my life. I liked her manner, the way she was with son, the way she interacted with hubby and I. She came so highly recommended we really did think we had lucked out and for the first five weeks it was perfect. Then something changed.

She came in one day and looked incredibly flustered and distracted. It wasn’t a massive change and most people probably wouldn’t have noticed it, but I did. I did because I was so attuned to everything she did. I had to be. She was looking after my baby, I had to be aware of and notice even the slightest flicker of change in her. I didn’t obsess about it, I know everyone has up and down days and I didn’t expect her to be Mary Poppins. I was sure it was just ‘one of those days’, but I felt uneasy.

By my calculations the moment things changed was when she found out she was pregnant and this was about five weeks after she started. After finding the leaflet we suspected she was pregnant, but we didn’t take it too seriously. I don’t think we really wanted to believe it. So things simply carried on as they were. Me convinced something wasn’t quite right and worrying about it constantly and hubby in total agreement.

I should say that even though something had shifted and we felt there was something she wasn’t telling us, we never once doubted that she was doing a great job with our son. If I had ever had any doubts he was affected by this I would have terminated her employment immediately. He was absolutely fine, it was the rest of us treading on eggs shells.

A few weeks into ‘the change’ hubby and I could no longer take it and sat down with her to talk about how things were going so far; if she was enjoying the job; if there was anything else we could do to make life easier. She totally allayed our fears. She said she was happy, enjoying the job and there was nothing she wanted to change. It was like talking to a different person to the one who had turned up every morning distracted, looking stressed and that she would rather be anywhere else but in our flat. I started to wonder if I was imagining the whole thing.

This relief was temporary as things very quickly went back to us feeling like she wasn’t happy and we were back treading on egg shells. It was driving me mad, but it’s such a tricky situation when this person is looking after your child. I was terrified of doing anything to rock the boat especially when I knew in my heart of hearts that my child was in safe hands and ultimately she was good at her job.

Eventually we were told what we had known for weeks – that she was pregnant.  And even though we had suspected it, that there was a genuine reason for us feeling so uneasy was a relief.

We did what any employer would do. We were 100% supportive, full of congratulations and excited for her. We said that there was no rush to tell us when she wanted to leave, to take Christmas and New Year off and that we could have a discussion in the New Year about an end date.  Obviously this isn’t what hubby and I wanted. I had only just gone back to work, we felt our son was settled with her and the thought of searching for childcare all over again was depressing. But what could we do?  People get pregnant. We took on a 30 year old nanny in a long term relationship – it wasn’t like it was impossible.

Initially she told us she would work until the very beginning of May, giving her almost seven weeks before her due date. Not bad really. Most women work until 38 weeks. I did. But from then on things changed on a weekly basis depending on her mood.

At work one day I received a panic text saying that there was no way she could work until then. This was whilst she was looking after my baby. No phone call, no explanation. To say I felt stressed was an understatement. I replied saying that perhaps we could talk about it when I got home, face-to-face. When we got home we asked why she wanted to leave early and she said she was struggling with pregnancy and felt like she wanted to cry all the time. I get it, I’ve been pregnant, it’s not easy.

We then agreed she would work until the end March. Again, we were supportive, asked a million times if this was okay for her and she was sure that is what she wanted. She agreed. I gave her an extra day off to think about it some more and to come in the following week and let us know for sure. At the same time worrying whether she was emotionally stable enough to look after our child.

Monday arrives and it changes again. She now wants to stop as soon as possible. We finally agree on the beginning of March – 6 weeks (which is the notice period) giving us enough time to find someone else. So we finally feel like we have a realistic date we can work towards. Great. Everything was finally in agreement.

And then she walked out, claiming she was treated unfairly because for the two days I was working at home when my child was ill had left her unmotivated. I would have thought the extra pair of hands would have been a welcome break if she was struggling as much as she claimed.

To say it has been an incredibly stressful few weeks would be an understatement. Actually, the whole experience from start to finish has been really quite difficult. I have never experienced such unprofessionalism from anyone. I get that she is pregnant and I know that can make one incredibly emotional, but I feel it’s irrelevant. She walked out on her job looking after a child without so much as a goodbye to him.

I keep wracking my brains to think of anything we did that was awful, or anything we did that could have made it better. I think the simple fact is she didn’t want to be in the job anymore and rather than tell us, she found it easier to walk out and blame us for ‘not motivating her’.

I almost want to laugh at how absurd the situation is and what a shocker the last few weeks have been. We have now found a child-minder who I think is lovely and who I hope my child can now settle with. It reminds me how difficult finding the right childcare is and how much you have to rely on your instinct. I think it’s this I found so upsetting – I thought mine had been so right.

Luckily our new child-minder is in her 60’s and assures me she won’t get pregnant.

The Lethal Injection

18 Dec

I find the whole process of having injections really quite horrid and the anticipation beforehand about how much it might hurt is really quite stressful. I recently had the flu jab at work and it took my colleague and me going in together and holding hands to make it even slightly bearable. As the injection man ran though the endless list of side effects we both looked at each other, beads of sweat appearing on our brows, as we contemplated if it was too late to make a run from the death jab.

The injection man, whilst running through how we might die, proceeded to tell us how he had injected all of the X-Factor contestants, including One Direction (apart from Harry, he was apparently chatting up the nurse). I think he was trying to distract us, but all I kept thinking was how inappropriate his name dropping was. I don’t care who he has stuck a needle into. I am certainly not impressed that he saved Leona Lewis from having a bout of flu. I just want it over as quickly as possible.

And then, like all injections, it was over in a flash and it only hurt a little bit going in. Afterwards it hurt a lot. It felt like my arm was going to drop off.  Still, it’s better than getting the flu. Just.

So yes, I really don’t enjoy getting injections. What I enjoy even less is watching my baby have them. This hurts a lot. And the older they get, the worse it gets.

The first time he had them he was two months old and having never had to do it before I was really scared for my boy. As we went into the doctors we were directed to the relevant area and quietly joined the row of equally terrified mothers with very tiny babies. Looking back I can’t believe how small he was. The waiting area was deathly silent apart from the sudden scream of a young baby from behind closed doors. It was like something from a horror film.

As the mother and her baby exited the room everyone looked up with anxious eyes all silently looking for confirmation that ‘it wasn’t that bad’. We never got it. Every woman that came out looked ashen faced, with tears in her eyes and a bright red screaming child hanging off of her.

When it was our turn hubby and I walked into the room with the boy in my arms. He was all happy and smiley and none the wiser – ignorance clearly is bliss. As the nurse explained what was going to happen she instructed me to get out his leg ready to be injected. All the while I was talking to him in a really high pitched ‘everything-is-fine-nothing-to-worry-about’ voice. I wonder if he was aware mummy had turned into a squealing maniac.

So we are now fully briefed by the nurse that not only might it hurt, but he might also have side effects, which involve a temperature, sleepiness, being unsettled, being grumpy and not being himself. This is before the bloody thing has even gone in his perfect little leg. My mummy neurosis and the fear that something awful might happen to my baby is now in overdrive.

The nurse asks if we’re ready, we both look at each other like one of us is about to get the electric chair and slowly nod. I’m holding the boy trying my hardest not to look anywhere but at his face as he smiles at me completely oblivious about what is to come. Hubby gets the worst job of holding his leg. Well I thought this was the harder job until his little face went from smiley to contorted in pain as the needle went in. I swear he looked at me with a ‘how could you do this to me face’. He cried, my eyes welled up with tears and I look down to see a bit of blood coming out of his leg. It was horrific.

As my baby’s cries went from 4 to 40 decibels we were told we were done and to give him Calpol if he experienced any of the aforementioned symptoms. As we left the room, all the mothers looked up at me with the same panicked look in their eyes. There was nothing I could do to reassure them. It was that bad.

Thankfully he didn’t get any of the symptoms, but I still spent the next 24 hours in a panic that he might have a temperature. Or in my vivid imagination become the first baby to die after his jabs. Seriously. I barely slept.

The next time we went back I was at least a little prepared for what to expect. We were both a little older and wiser and ready for action. What I didn’t know was that this time it was two injections. One in each perfect little leg. Great. As the first one went in, he (we) didn’t react too badly. A little wince, but nothing like before. The second one went in and all hell broke loose. Not only did he scream, but he was also much more mobile this time so he almost wriggled out of my arms. I think he’s scarred for life.

Last month we had the 12 month vaccinations. A booster for the earlier ones and the big one – the MMR. I was never in any doubt about whether or not I would give my son the MMR. I 100% believe children should be vaccinated, but I remember how controversial it was so getting it felt like a bigger deal than the first few.

It’s okay I thought, we’ve done it before, we’re old hands at this injection malarkey. What I hadn’t thought about was that this time there would be three injections.

So in we go to the see the nurse who happens to be the slowest person I have ever come across. Anyone with a 13 month old knows that you have a very small window, if any, where they will sit still on your lap. It took her what felt like 3 hours to prepare the needles as my son is getting more and more wriggly and bored. As she’s doing this my neurotic mind once again starts wandering and all I can think about is that she might actually be a psycho and that she is filling the needles with poison. My heart actually start racing as she comes over and stabs his leg with the first one.

He starts screaming. The second one goes in. He starts screaming even louder. I hold onto him as hard as I can and tell him over and over that it’s going to be okay. Then the third one goes in and again he looks at me with a ‘what the f*** are you letting them do to me’ face, screaming the surgery down. I have never felt guilt like it.

What I should probably tell you is that my son has had a cry like an adult since he was born. It is LOUD. The loudest cry I ever heard. The nurse actually looks traumatised as she hurries us out of the room, once again telling us of the possible side effects. Once again I don’t sleep worrying he’ll die.

Thankfully his next lot aren’t until he’s 5. Hopefully I’ll be over the trauma by then.

Working Mum

30 Nov

So I did it. I am back in the rat race. I am seven weeks in to having left my full time job as a mummy and returned to my full time job working in telly. To say I miss my boy is an understatement.

Going back to work is something I’m pretty sure most women dread even if they want to go back. I did. When I left work I said I would take nine months maternity leave. A year later I have only just returned. Actually he was eleven months when I went back. I wish he had been a year. Psychologically I would have felt less guilty. I feel guilty about everything.

Before I had my child I thought I’d find it very easy to return to work. I have never desired to be a stay-at-home mum; in fact that’s something that filled me with dread. I have worked since I was 14. Not working is simply not on my radar. I thought that come nine months I’d be itching to get back, ready to return to my career and my ‘other life’. I also thought that leaving my baby in the care of another would be fine. Millions of women have to do it. It’s amazing how differently you feel once you actually have a child.

As D-Day arrived I was understandably nervous. A year out of the office is a long time. A year out of the office to have a baby feels even longer. For me, becoming a mother had been the most monumental, life altering experience I will ever have. My world and everything in it had changed. My whole life was different. I’d spent the last 365 days in a baby bubble, totally and utterly consumed by my baby boy. How the hell was I supposed to go back into a job and remember how to do it? How the hell was I going to leave him? How the hell was I supposed to make space in my head to concentrate on anything other than my boy?

The first week back was better than I thought it would be. My company have been very flexible and agreed to let me come back for four days a week, taking Wednesday’s off. For the most part the first couple of days consisted of me feeling like the new girl at school. What was slightly weirder was feeling like the new girl at a school that I had been to before. It was sort of familiar in that I knew everyone and I knew where to make tea and coffee and to go to the loo, but it also felt completely and utterly new. As hard as I tried to feel normal and as much effort I put in to feeling confident, I was anything but. I was hoping this would get easier.

Mostly I spent the time thinking that I had two days in the office and then I would be back with him. As expected they went rather quickly. In fact the whole week flew by. I felt very proud of myself and my son for getting through the week unscathed. I struggled to admit it as the time as I felt guilty, but I enjoyed being back in a work environment and it was so nice to have a bit of time by myself. It’s a cliché, but going to the loo on my own and drinking a cup of tea whilst it was still hot was utter bliss. My boy also seemed to be coping fine without me and had a great time with the nanny. We had done it!

Week two started and it wasn’t so good. Looking back, the first week had been a bit of a novelty and by the second week I missed my boy so much it hurt my heart to leave him. The reality had hit home that this was how it was now going to be. For four days a week I had to leave him all day. There were a lot of tears. From me. He was fine.

As the weeks have gone on it has gotten easier, but I don’t think I’ll ever be completely at ease with it. Some days I feel fine, other days I want to run as fast I can home from the office, scoop my little boy in my arms and never let him go. When I feel like this I remind myself of why I have returned to work. There are many reasons.

When I have down days, I constantly remind myself that I want to work. I want my son to grow up in a house where mummy and daddy have equal roles. I want him to have the best of everything in life and in order for that to happen I have to work. Do I often think that things like this don’t matter and surely me being there every day is better? Sometimes, but I don’t really believe it.

I’ve asked myself if money was no object would I still want to work. Unfortunately it is an object. A big one. Hubby and I are yet to buy a house. I need to work so we can save a deposit. We are trying to build a financially secure future for our son. But would I still work if we were minted? Yes I would, but maybe not quite yet.

Someone I know who doesn’t work once commented that they would never have children so that someone else can raise them. Not only is that nonsense, but if I thought my nanny was in any way raising my son then I would be doing myself a disservice. My husband and I raise our son, not the nanny. She is a trained childcare professional with over 14 years experience who gets paid to play with my son all day. She takes him to clubs and soft play and music classes. She never has to do chores or sort out bills or anything else whilst she is with him.

Since being back at work I’ve fulfilled every cliché you read about working mothers with small babies. I have come into work covered in sick and dried snot. I have been so tired I’ve sent emails to the wrong people. I’ve left the house in two different shoes. At some point I’ve called every person in the office my son’s name (and shown them countless photographs). Recently I was on a conference call with two magicians who are fronting one of our new TV shows. I had dialled in early so assumed I was the first person on the call. That was until I heard giggling and was asked not to stop as they were rather enjoying me singing the Iggle Piggle song from In the Night Garden.

I’m still trying to find the balance of doing both roles effectively. My number one priority will always be my son, but I also want to be good at my job. I don’t like doing anything if I don’t do it well. I think it may take some time. On a particularly hard day this week I mentioned to hubby that perhaps we can just have another baby so I can stop work again. His answer? “No way. Not yet”. Looks like I’ll have to stop watching Iggle Piggle then. 

Going out, out

5 Nov

When I had my baby I wasn’t sure when or how it would be even possible to leave him for a night. I couldn’t imagine him not being with me all the time, nor did I want to.

That’s not to say I didn’t think about it. A lot. This was usually at 3am when I sat day dreaming (or night dreaming) of dropping him off at my mum’s for a night so hubby and I could drive back home, get into bed and sleep until we could sleep no more.

However I was breastfeeding and this certainly does make it much more difficult. It’s not like someone else could whip out the old breast and satisfy his hunger or soothe him back to sleep. It wasn’t just this though. What I struggled with the most was the guilt I felt at the thought of ever not being with him. All I could imagine was his little face looking around and wondering where I was and if I was ever coming back. I could almost feel him developing abandonment issues. It was too much to bear.

For the first few months he wasn’t out of my sight. It was, looking back, one of the most precious times of my life and I didn’t want to waste a second of it. It was the time when my boy and I got to know each other. It was the time when he taught me how to be a mummy.

When I got out of the ‘newborn haze’, which was for me about 10 weeks in, I started to think about going out on my own. I thought about having a bit of ‘me time’ again. Maybe popping out to lunch with a friend. Maybe going to get my hair done on my own. Maybe sitting in a café, drinking a coffee and actually reading that elusive thing made of paper that I used to devour. What was it? Oh yes, a book.

Honestly? I felt guilty when I thought about doing this. There was a part of me that felt I shouldn’t want to leave him for a few hours. I made the decision to have a child and I shouldn’t for a second need space to be on my own. When I relayed this to hubby he had a stern word, told me not to be ridiculous, got the breast milk out the fridge (for the boy, not him) and packed me off for lunch with a friend. It was liberating. 

I met my best friend at a bar for lunch and I had the first cocktail I’d had since finding out I was pregnant. Most people crave food when they’re pregnant, some crave coal, I craved Mojitos. It was amazing and well worth the wait – the cocktail and the time alone. I realised soon afterwards that it was exactly what I needed. I felt a little bit like the old me again and it felt good. I missed my boy a lot, spent most of the train journey looking at pictures of him and didn’t put him down once I got home, but I felt good.

Hubby had had a great time with him. They’d had their very own little boys afternoon and I realised then how important that is too. They also needed their time together.

So, I’d done it. I’d ripped the plaster off, I’d braved a few hours without my boy and the world didn’t end. The next step was seeing if we could manage an evening away from him. Not overnight, but at least a night where we leave the house at 7 and don’t get home until midnight. It would be the latest night I’d had in months.

When he was 4 months old it was my birthday so we got my mum down to stay and tested our 7 to midnight evening. It felt like such a novelty to be out together, minus the boy, with our friends. However, as much as I enjoyed being out and celebrating my birthday, I also found the whole experience quite nerve racking. My life for the last 4 months had been totally and utterly consumed with a baby. I had spent every waking moment in a baby bubble that I was worried I wouldn’t know what to talk about. 4 months had felt like a lifetime. I found wine helped me get over this. A lot of wine. What I hadn’t thought about however, was how low my alcohol tolerance now was. The next day was not pleasant.

After this we have had the odd night out together and at a year old, being able to relax on a night out has gotten a lot easier. We’re pretty much guaranteed these days that he will sleep from 7pm until at least 5.30am so we know anyone looking after him will have a pretty easy job. We never go that far anyway.

Hubby and I say to each other time and time again that we need to do it more often. We need to make the most of his aunt and uncle living around the corner and treat ourselves to a meal or a drink out on our own. The only issue with this is that we’re so bloody knackered we can’t really be arsed. If we’re not in bed by 10pm we both start panicking about being exhausted the next day. Sleep is so precious that we’d rather give up a night out to ensure we get at least 6 hours.

My biggest test and the one I found the most difficult was spending a whole day and night away from him. The first time I did this he was 10 months old and I went on a friends’ hen do. I knew he was with hubby and he would be absolutely fine, but I really did miss him and because of this I don’t think I allowed myself to relax fully. I had also made the fatal error of doing my last ever breastfeed that morning, so not only was I leaving my boy overnight for the first time, I was also going through a huge range of emotions and guilt about no longer breastfeeding. Not great timing on my part. I still had a great time and when I woke up the next day and knew he was ok, I was quite annoyed with myself for not relaxing more and making the most of a bit of freedom. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The last time hubby and I were together, alone, minus the boy, was the first time we had left him over night without one of us being there. It was for two nights at a wedding. It was a brilliant do and a fab weekend and felt much easier than the last time I was away, but I still don’t think I could do more than a couple of nights. Not at this age.

It’s funny what you think your life will be like before the baby comes and what the actual reality is. Hubby and I had talked about having 5 nights in New York whilst the boy stayed at his grandparents, as well as various other weekend breaks here and abroad. Given that I miss him when he’s asleep I find this highly unlikely.

I know it will change as he gets older and I’m fully aware that he is fine without us for a night or two. I’m know that the issue is not his separation anxiety, but mine. I have it bad. I’m also fully aware that when I have another child I’ll probably have no issue with bundling them both off pretty early on to my mum’s for the night. Forget going out, out. We’ll be doing it so we can sleep.  

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