Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that it’s a year full of love, health and happiness for you. We hope you’ve had a brilliant Christmas and Santa delivered everything you wished for. My two (and me) have been spoilt and got to spend some gorgeous time with our family too. We’re feeling blessed.
I have mixed feelings about 2021. I mean another covid year for a start, but it gave me my wonderful son. So who could be happy to say goodbye to newborn days, the new baby smell and all the newborn cuddles? But besides the loveliness, there’s been some moments I’m happy to be leaving behind in good ole ’21.
With January 1st comes the refreshed hope for the new year and version 6.8 of our best selves. And for the last few years I’ve not taken part. I’ve well and truly left the resolution making to the well meaning and permanently optimistic among us. I’ve honestly not made a single resolution, for at least three years, because I’ve given in to the forgone conclusion that by the 8th I’ll be no longer doing my best or chasing the resolution. On lucky years, I have probably last till about the 23rd of the month max, then those old habits have crept back in.
This year however, I thought I’d give a no spend January ago. Its only and month, that’s simply 31 days to not buy anything absolutely necessary. So here’s the plan. Pay the bills, meal plan and stick to a list for shopping, and anything apart from the essentials will be staying in the shops while my pennies stay firmly in my own pocket for a change. Anything saved from this endeavour will be planted into savings.
I intend to meal plan weekly, I’ll share my plans as I do them. They’ll be in keeping with slimming world and family friendly meals so I’ll link any borrowed recipes and share any I make up too. Weekends we will utilise local haunts and free things to do, packing picnics and snacks if the rain holds out or we find indoor picnic spots.
I’ll be plotting out my incoming and outgoings for the month with you, which I know will be tight as I’m currently on maternity pay, coming off that and going back to work which will leave me brassic for a week or two because where the mat pay stops and my wage starts there’s a lull in the middle. This will actually be the first time I’ve ever committed to a no spend month, and I know my bank account will be looking forward to it. I’ve always found money difficult to manage and talk about(I’ll go into why another time), but I’d really like to change that this year.
How about you? Will you join me? Have you done a no spend month before? Do you think I’ll stick it out?
Euan is sixteen weeks this week, and our breastfeeding journey started a few moments after he was born. It’s luckily been, after his initial weight loss, a pretty straightforward journey. Not that it particularly felt that way at the beginning.
I am, as you know a second time mum this time round but it made me none the wiser on breastfeeding. Delilah never took to it, she had a tongue tie and due to not holding out in fear of her losing too much weight I took to pumping and combi feeding for her. Pumping lasted 6 months and then it became too time consuming along with everything else I was trying to do at the time.
This time, I had read up a whole load, I was so much more determined and I knew it was a normal occurance for a newborn to lose some weight a few days after birth (because these are the things they don’t tell you before you have babies). Euan was pretty easy to latch, we didn’t struggle but despite this being the case and havijg our latch checked by every midwife we saw, he lost 9% of his birth weight over the first 2 weeks. We were referred to “the feeding team” who failed to help in the slightest, not even a phone call. It was suggested that I use formula to top up initially to get his weight in check, this bothered me no end. It was however the right thing to do for my boy to help him get started.
Along with pumping after every feed, topping him up with the expressed milk and one bottle of formula every day, we managed to get on track but the help and support was somewhat none existant. Hubs bought formula and heavily suggested to go that way too, which killed me inside even though I knew he meant well. Failure this time round was not so option in my head, so I battled it all. Even my grandmother who had 2 kids herself bluntly ask “why the bloody hell are you doing that?”. I’m still met with “well how long are you going to feed him” to which I now simply say un-flustered, “till he decides otherwise”.
Being stuck to the sofa for weeks with our newborn schedule was tiresome but I was so determined not to give into the formula pressure from all sides. I just knew it wasn’t the end of our journey, I knew formula wasn’t right for us. And because of that I will be forever proud of us for sticking with it, the lack of support has been the hardest thing to get through. For a community of midwives, Dr’s and health professionals I was perplexed at how easy it was for them to all say “formula” despite me being so avid about breastfeeding.
Dont get me wrong, I’m on the side of “fed is best” but I was 1000% sure I wanted to breastfeed my son, so the lack of guidance or help postpartum has been diabolical. Maybe it was just because of lockdown? Postpartum care in fact has been lacking. As an individual I’ve been lucky enough not to suffer with any baby blues or depression despite having a history of mental health issues, but one phone call asking “how are you” in regard to the purely physical aftermath is not enough.
Why are we not looking after new mams? The lack of care for us mums after this monumental change is possibly the most shocking thing. We’re checked up on at regular intervals over our pregnancy, yet as soon as baby is born we get one phone call and no further check ups. What has your experience been like with postpartum care? Was it the same as mine? What’s your postpartum story?
Going back to breastfeeding, we’ve hit leap 4 and I’m not going to lie I’m finding feedingbcrazy tiring. Euan constantly wants to be feeding. He will not nap and it’s so hard to put him down for even 5 mins. Trying to go for a wee holding a baby is all kinds of hard, pulling up your jeans after is beyond difficult. He naps on boob, as soon as he falls away I’ll try put him down but he will be right awake within seconds most of the time. Mix that with very nearly 4 year old who would like all the attention still, it’s been a rough leap so far. It seems delivery drivers always call when he needs feeding or mid feed too. Typical.
I’d just like to say, to mums (dads) all over, breastfeeding or not, well done! Parenting is hard. Bronze, silver, gold awards for breastfeeding boobies, higher awards or not at all, you are doing amazing things everyday just raising them little humans. As long as they’re loved, fed and cared for you are winning.
I’d love to hear your feeding stories, share them in the comments with us and know that this is a judgement free, safe space.
It’s taken a while, but here it is. A play by play of the last year. In bullet form because a full year is a lot and nobody has time for that.
• July ’20: Bloomed a garden. The veg patch was amazing. I didn’t see any tomatoes because my small girl ate them straight off the plant. We also got a new kitchen!!
• August ’20: positive pregnancy test, small girl turned 3, the blooming veg garden made my morning sickness peak. Oh the vom inducing kale nightmares I had then.
•September ’20: First scan and baby announcement. My 32nd Birthday. Working on flexi furlough. Morning sickness was real, it certainly wasn’t just mornings. Little Miss started nursery.
•October ’20: Halloween hosted as a mini treasure hunt in the house for little miss because of covid. Another Lockdown announcement. Our 1st wedding anniversary, we managed to stay at our fave hotel for the night.
•November ’20: nothing particularly notable. Still sick, preparing for a lockdown Xmas.
•December ’20: Found out our bump was a little boy, Delilah thought it was the end of the world because she wanted a sister. Santa visited and we got to spend Xmas with my ma and step pa.
•January ’21: soaked in all the mama of one moments and pulled little miss out of nursery. On government guidelines, from 28 weeks pregnant we were supposed to shield so she stayed home with me and we barely saw a soul.
• February ’21: we saw snow, and a 7 month (still sick) pregnant mama hauled delilah about in a sledge. We also baked alot this month.
•March ’21: my little brother hit 30, there seemed to be tulips in every vase I owned and I’d finally started buying baby stuff and packed the baby’s hospital bag.
•April ’21: the strangest weather month. One day delilah was in a swimming costume, the next a warm coat. Baby arrived exactly 1 day before his due date. Life as a family of 4 began. Found out about delilah’s school.
•May ’21: the month that seems to have just disappeared. Between getting established with breastfeeding and baby bonding the month just vanished.
•June ’21: we celebrated hub’s birthday, had a holiday.
•July ’21: celebrated my dad’s birthday. Visited delilah’s school and here we are.
So there it is in bullets. Big year right?! And all through a pandemic.
So, let’s talk pregnancy and birth.
My second pregnancy was clinically speaking straight forward. My experience on the other hand was borderline painful. Sickness started immediately. It was the first thing that made me suspect I was pregnant. I must have only been about 3/4 weeks, and the sight of the kale I had grown made me actually sick. Hence the demise of my veggie garden last year as well as my blogging. It also lasted till about 30ish weeks.
This pregnancy was lonely too. Pregnancy through a pandemic was dark some days, but I’ve far too much to say on that subject; I’ll save it for another post.
Baby made me craved kebabs which I’d never dream of eating before. Like the really unhealthy takeaway versions, with hot sauce despite having the worst heartburn for the entire pregnancy. Veggies made me heave, not ideal especially when you invite over family for a Sunday roast and end up gipping at the sight and not eating it. Energy levels were so low, turns out I was anemic. Weeks of iron supplements my energy returned thank goodness.
The little bugger then decided to lay on my sciatic nerve. This left my hips, lower back and butt in agony on waking. There was literally no way of being comfortable throughout, especially for the later end when he positioned his but and legs right up in my ribs. This made it hard to breath when walking anywhere.
I can not tell you how much I wanted him to arrive. I walked, I bounced on the ball, I drank all the raspberry leaf tea, ate the hot curry in hope to help bring on labour. But let’s face it, these babies arrive when they feel like it.
Finally my waters broke on the 13th of April at 5.10am with super mild contractions. Just one day before my due date. Went into the birth unit, checked over and sent us home to progress naturally. A film, coffee and cinnamon bun later the contractions were stronger and a ton closer together. I pre called the unit to let them know we were on the way. I followed the instructions, but as you will find out there wasn’t much point in the end.
On arrival the parking attendant watched me get out the car as hubs reversed parked it, then told us we couldn’t park there – then despite being mid contraction asked me if I was there for a covid jab. And in all honesty I couldn’t help but laugh in his face mid contraction as I told him “my son is about to pop out”. Needless to say he didn’t really know what to say to that. Got in the hospital and despite calling prior to going, we ended up in maternity assessment unit because I totally needed to be told I was having contractions and progressing towards active labour.
Prodded and poked (joy) and finally get the all clear to move to the birth centre after being told I was only 3cm (which I swear was such a wrong diagnosis). When they said I could move I swear I heard a chorus of angels, after being verbal that I wasn’t about to give birth to my son in a curtained cubicle with an audience. We grabbed our stuff and walked through the cafe. I had nothing but a bed sheet wrapped round my none existing waist, no pants on cos I lost a ton of my waters in the assessment unit and I was still contacting like you wouldn’t believe. There was no way I was going to put pants on at that point. There was no way I could.
Finally in the birth unit room, I had a contraction as soon as I got in there. Midwife wanted to examine me again; my little one is thinking ‘sod that, I’m coming out’ and boy, did he gave me all those feels too “nope he’s coming now”. Student Midwife delivered him (supervised). 2 contractions and he was in the world.
Practically perfect. Although how he got away without any complications because of the true knot in his cord is beyond anyone! Even surprising a midwife or 3.
No water birth as I had in my head, but got away with only gas and air and a slight graze (no need for stitches – whoo). Discharged within 4 hours because I was damn sure I wasn’t staying in. So we all trekked home and got settled into life as a family of four.
Euan Peter Douglas has arrived and is now currently 13 weeks old as of today.
So yeah, thats how that part of my year has gone. How did you get on? What’s new? I’ve very much missed writing, so here’s to getting back into a weekly post again.
Finally the post I have been most excited to write. I couldn’t because it hadn’t happened yet, but now it has. We have now got a filled and set up veg plot. When I say plot I do mean raised bed. It maybe small but it has been highly anticipated in my household, well at least by me.
We started with some old decking that was plaguing the garden when we moved here last year. We cut it into 6ft and 2ft pieces and joined with extra long screws (very technical I know, but we were winging it and didn’t have too much to hand). We’ve lined it with pond liner tapped in with some small nails and made drainage holes in the bottom. I’ve layered in some torn up cardboard because I had read that somewhere (admittedly I cant remember where now), then the compost. Since we’ve been on covid-19 induced lock down, we’ve been sourcing everything we can as locally as we can. When I found out our local garden place was offering a delivery service I got super excited. I ordered what I thought were going to be seeds, picking tomatoes, chilies, kale, lettuce and mini cucumber. They arrived at my door and they were not seeds in small paper packets, but seedlings; growing already and perfectly ready for transplanting.
Dee, of course, helped out. Sticking her dirt covered fingers in to the soil over and over. She was loving every second. She’s a little bit rough with the seedlings and determined to water them – a lot. More especially when my grandma sent over a small watering can for her that she no longer used any more, Dee will certainly use it. All the time. She is already trying, I mean we just had to go out and water it all again before bedtime.
I’ve also planted some seeds, along side a kitchen scrap celery stalk. We’ve done some beets, radish and leeks. I am waiting for runner beans to arrive and a couple of other seeds. Feel like I’m starting a little late, but this is all about trial and error for us. I am seriously hoping that my Grandad is watching from where ever he may be now and is sending his wisdom about everything plant based. He passed just about a year ago this week, and my heart aches for him. I miss him dreadfully. I keep revisiting a post which I published last year close to him passing; My Grandad; Snippets from Charlie. I equally smile and cry when I think of him at the moment.
Watering (lightly) twice daily at the moment, results are anyone’s guess. I will however keep you updated. Keeping the little busy in between watering times feels like Easter exploded all over the downstairs of my house. We’ve been painting, sticking, making, baking, painting some more and of course eating our bakes. And that’s just been today. Please feel for all parents out there at the moment, not having the ability to take a walk to public park and let them kiddos run wild for an hour is a killer. Check on your parent friends, we are run ragged.
Off to sink some Gin, but I wish you all have the best Easter Weekend and stay as sane as humanly possible.
It has come to my attention that The Motherhood Penalty is an actual thing.
There was me thinking I was the only one struggling with being made redundant on maternity leave and struggling to find a career to suit me now. The thing is, it isn’t just me. The Motherhood Penalty is REAL. We’re talking real pay gaps for mums in comparison to a non- parent counter parts, less promotion opportunities, held to higher punctuality standards than others. We are less likely to be suggested for hire than a less qualified woman without children. Just have a read at a few stats here (http://gap.hks.harvard.edu/getting-job-there-motherhood-penalty). Before you start, I know this article is full of American stats; but it is applicable for the UK and most likely a bunch of other countries too. There are plenty of other articles on the subject too. Read them, I implore you.
The last time I was made redundant I was in a new role within two weeks. This time, I’m 3 years more experienced. This time, I’m a mum. This time, it’s almost been a month already. As a society, it is our job to change this. As a mother who wants it all, it’s my job to hunt what I want down. Why should we settle for less than our counter parts? Those who choose to be dog owners are not penalised for their life choice, yet you have a child and that’s it. You certainly can’t have a career AND a family. You most certainly can’t do them both at the same time, let alone do them well. You must pick. You must pick one or the other. You can only be good at one thing – Family OR work.
That’s where I’m saying it needs to change. We are stuck in an archaic time. The stay at home mum suffers prejudice. It can be seen as old fashioned, lazy, and unattractive. “Gain a baby, lose a brain” this attitude spills out on to the mother who wants or needs to work, making it increasingly difficult to get back in to work. On the other hand, mothers who choose to have a career are classified as uncaring, lacking maternal instinct and cold. Working mothers have it hard. The guilt of having to pay someone else to help raise their child. Then there is the pay gap between them and their childfree counterparts, not to mention the problem of sourcing reliable and trustworthy childcare.
We have come so far with equality yet we are still stuck with The Motherhood Penalty. For some reason the work world thinks that us mum’s supposedly stray from competency after birthing a child. In actual fact we gain a whole lot more than we ‘lose’ (the only think I lost is my size 6-8 waist). We go through the most incredible process of carrying, giving birth, feeding and caring for a new born infant that relies on us for everything. There are sleepless nights and long busy days that follow including numerous visitors who want to put their grubby hands all over that precious new born, which you in turn have to politely but firmly warn off (which is a new skill gained for a start).
Mums are the most amazing creatures on this planet; and it’s about time that companies realise that if we choose a child adorned life, we probably have more to offer after having our child/children than we did before. We are peacekeepers, cooks, cleaners, mediators, matriarchs, admin assistants, PA’s, nurses (in the most relaxed sense of the word), transportation co-ordinators, activity planners, risk assessors, the photographer, the personal shopper and stylist, the confidante, the politician, the dietician, the CEO and the fucking skivvy. We are the whole god damn package, and some of us even stay up late to work on our passions too.
So keep up work world; we’re ready for equality amongst mothers in the work place. Let’s hope my new role (whatever it maybe) is up to speed.