Happy 70th Birthday: Why I’m Infinitely Grateful

Even though I’m a little late to the party, I feel my thank you to the NHS had to be a piece carefully considered. This took longer than expected and this isn’t a particularly long one but here it goes…

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As we all know, this year The National Health Service has reached its 70th birthday; an incredible milestone for a service that can sometimes be the hand to hold in every step through the circle of life. Today, this piece is an open letter on why I’m grateful for the NHS.

Happy 70th Birthday to the NHS: Thank You Flowers

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To The National Health Service,

What an incredible job you’ve done. A job you do with such courage and compassion, every single day. I’m beaming with pride and thankfulness whilst writing this as it is not without you that I sit here today, cuddling our precious son. 

After years of studying, racking up debt and working around the clock, your journey into a job becomes a role of unimaginable pressure, expectation and at any moment of every day, you could be faced with any possible and sometimes impossible problem. This is aside from the negative press, the government funding issues and the struggle to recruit; the overworked GP’s, overcrowded surgeries and in many cases, lack of available resources, you are without a doubt pushed to your limits every day. Despite this, in our deeply personal experiences, there has always been above and beyond treatment and care for each and every one of us.

As a family, we’ve faced some terrifying times; from my Great Auntie Lesley’s brain tumour and stroke, to my Papy’s viral heart failure, my Dad’s appendicitis to much more recently, my emergency c-section for the birth of my son, Rory. It wasn’t long after this that my parents wrote a letter to you expressing their utmost gratitude and thanks for Rory’s safe delivery and both my antenatal and postnatal care. A letter they were so eager and so proud to write you.

My most recent care through The Trust has been for an incredible postnatal care programme: ‘Every Birth Matters’. After struggling to come to terms with and face Rory’s birth, I was left unsure how to feel. Traumatised by the events and lacking a true understanding of what had happened and if it was at all, preventable in the future. With a fantastic midwife to walk me through my pregnancy and journey through labour and birth, she fully explained every step going into tremendous factual and emotional detail. This has been the most intense but worthwhile hour of therapy I’ve ever received. It has not only helped me accept what has happened but I’ve learned that there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome of Rory’s birth: He hadn’t progressed into my pelvis enough and after 30+ hours, they weren’t willing to give him any more time to try to. It was to save us both but what has saved me the most is knowing I didn’t fail, that my body did its job and even with the harrowing recovery – there was nothing more I could have possibly done: the outcome would have lead us down the same path. Even with this breakthrough, the best news was learning that I wouldn’t have to go through it again if we chose to have more children. That I could successfully have a VBAC if I wanted or a scheduled c-section should I wish. For someone who struggles with personal control, knowing that next time the choice could be mine, feels like a weight has been lifted. The Trust has been invaluable to my recovery and one day, I just hope I can express my gratitude enough.

Life is fragile and every day it’s put into your hands: a birth, a death, an illness, a broken bone. The list is endless. Nothing can prepare us for what life brings and no one will ever know what’s coming around the corner but it is from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all you have done and all that you continue to do.

In our deepest and most desperate times of need, even in the most stretched state, you provided the absolute best treatment, care, and support for us to heal and move forwards without fail. You are a service that has become priceless for those who need it most.

You are priceless, you are treasured and most of all you are lifesaving. Happy 70th Birthday superstars!

Yours gratefully,

Naomi Pridding

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We must, must try everything to help the National Health Service and respect it for what it is: a life saving, irreplaceable free service providing an incomparable and incredible care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

I really don’t think I want to say any more for this – I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m just forever grateful for the care we’ve been provided with.

Loves to all,

OCM xoxo

Postpartum Mental Health: How Can We Talk About This?

As mental health awareness week comes to a close, I’ve decided to share this rather personal post with you. I’ve always felt rather alone when it came to understanding and talking about my own mental health but with all the media attention surrounding it of late, it still stands that there can never be enough done to highlight the importance of mental health and well-being. Sharing our experiences in the hope of helping others has become a blooming good start.

Having toyed with the idea of sharing this with you all, I once again find myself thinking that if one person reads this and it helps just one person, then it was worth the vulnerability and honesty of sharing my personal journey. I’ve discussed mental health before; wrote myself a letter in March about things I wish I’d known, things I would tell myself, but I always find that no matter what I would tell myself, I come back to my fears and the anxiety-inducing moments that surround the trauma of childbirth which can creep into the corner of even my sunniest days. When the smallest of thing that can set off a wave of panic, sometimes it’s unavoidable to suppress.

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Newly Dazed

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; Motherhood in unapologetically all-consuming but motherhood with mental health challenges is nothing like I expected. After writing our birth story last May and writing a letter last March, I’m now revisiting that day with a different set of eyes whilst looking at the journey that got me here today. As I’ve watched our little man start to grow up, my body and mind have changed. Regularly asked about the possibility of ‘Baby Number Two’, there are countless things I need to face and accept before that thought even enters my anxious brain. Looking back at my last month of pregnancy and Rory’s birth, I’ve struggled to accept the way things panned out.

My pregnancy with Rory wasn’t anything out of the ‘ordinary’. In fact, if you have read any of my previous blogs, I’d say I was rather lucky. I discussed my fortune in having no morning sickness or having any other debilitating symptoms or side effects. This lasted right up until I left work on maternity leave. That week magically flicked a switch and changed everything: I developed PUPPP. Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy is a nasty condition that develops in late pregnancy (and apparently more common in women having baby boys) and left my skin searing. I was itching with blisters and hives all over and burned at every hour of the day and night. Sleep was a thing of the past and doctors’ appointments became every other day, being tested over and over for Obstetric Cholestasis (a liver condition that can sometimes require induction) which luckily always returned negative results. I was exhausted and getting nervous at this point, I entered my final week of pregnancy feeling and thought was prepared. Still walking a mile or so in the afternoons hoping to induce early labour, I was offered a sweep – I need not go into details but DO NOT DO IT… I’m only joking but, in all seriousness, if ever in a position where this is offered: enter this with caution as at the very least it insanely uncomfortable and incredibly invasive. It was just 3 days later that I went into labour and 5 days later that I had an emergency c-section: the scariest eventuality that I was unprepared for. Leaving me swollen, cut and stitched, in agony and barely mobile, I felt couldn’t help but feel traumatised. How on Earth do you prepare for that!? Unwilling to talk about the event in depth or great detail, it became easy to brush the emotional side under the carpet and focus on my physical recovery which became unbearably tough on its own. It took me a good 5 months to realise how I truly felt about Rory’s birth.

Whilst speaking with a health visitor and NHS maternity service worker just last week, I found myself still feeling overpoweringly conscious of what I had been through. Without a doubt, I always find myself referring to how much worse it could have been or how there are women every day who face far worse but for me but I can’t help but linger on the single thing haunting what should be one of my happiest memories: it is the pure fact I was astronomically unprepared for a birth like that. My mind forever replays a scene from one of my favourite films, ‘About Time‘, during these moments. In a scene involving an accident that the main character Tim tries to change, he narrates a quote from a song by Baz Luhrmann called ‘Sunscreen‘: ‘He says worrying about the future is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life will always be things that never crossed your worried mind’ …No matter how hard I try, I’m still the one starring at the equation chewing that gum.

When I first opened up to a health visitor about how I felt, I was afraid what she would think of me. Mental health issues are associated with weakness but it takes incredible strength to face such inner battles. As I eased into talking about how I’d been feeling after surgery and how I’d coped with accepting the birth, PTSD was brought up. Always the person to think ‘but I haven’t been to war,’ or ‘I don’t live in a war zone‘, I needed to stop being so naive. PTSD isn’t because of a specific type of trauma and it can arrive and linger in many forms. It can be your memories keeping you awake in a cold sweat leaving you terrified to think too deep into what you’ve been through; It can be the very thought of how close to death you came and how it sends the blood rushing through your body, leaving you light headed and nauseous. It’s every time you see your scars, your stomach churns and the thought of how you wanted it to be makes you angry and somewhat irrational about the most basic of activities. It’s all consuming and something I’m now actively working to get through and I’m ok that it may take some time. Turns out the NHS have a fantastic service available where you can go and see specially trained midwives. They can talk you through what you’ve been through and help you process your feelings or fears surrounding your pregnancy, birth or motherhood. I’ll be taking part in a session in the next month and I’m both curious and anxious but hopeful it will help.

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Walking has become the best way to clear my head

Another side of mental health I find challenging is handling my anxiety. As I’ve become less afraid to admit it, it’s become easier to recognise. Postpartum anxiety is something I’ve talked about, previously in the form of separation anxiety and just like most mental health matters, each can take many forms. For me, it’s been an unexplainable jealousy, an underlying bitterness and twisting in the gut. A strange paranoia and relentless envy. It’s restless nights, toxic social media scrolling, actively avoiding every mirror, shop or car window. It’s taking hours to get dressed, noticing every extra stretch mark, wrinkle, crease or fold. It’s nightmares of what could or could’ve happened, the unimaginable and unthinkable. It’s all-around emotion, tears and upset and it’s also easy to slip into covering it up and hiding it far too often. Once again, it has taken me a while to actively seek help. You don’t always recognise it and you don’t always want to speak to those closest to you or anyone at all then there’s the option of medical help. For me, when I’ve seen GP in the past I have always been handed a ‘self-referral’ leaflet. These are without a doubt the most disheartening handout of information to be given when you’re in a doctor’s office trying to explain yourself after it’s taken weeks or even months to get yourself that far. I’ve learned that the doctors were no help, but when I turned to the health visitors, they appeared to be angels in disguise pointing me towards the NHS service I talked about earlier. It’s little steps to help put the pieces back together, to adjust to a new normal and to accept what has happened and move forward.

Our Little Monkey

Becoming a mother can be the hardest but the most rewarding thing you might ever do but you’ll never be the only one doing it. Avoiding being swallowed up in mental health challenged always comes down to being honest with yourself. Even in your darkest hour, only you can start the process of recovery. No matter how many times you try to suppress or hide how you’re feeling or the way you’re thinking, it will only deteriorate. Take charge of your health – it may be completely out of your comfort zone but try your best to reach out, find local groups or speak to your local maternity services. Opening up can be one of the scariest things you can do and yes, it is sometimes so much easier to lie, to really hide how you feel but sharing your experience can kick-start a very important process that will, first of all, help you feel a damn site less alone. Please, if you’re feeling low, sad, feeling like you are struggling, find someone who can help you in whichever form works for you!

As my title ask ‘how can we talk about this’, I’ve come to think the answer is far simpler than we thought. I believe it lies in empowering one another to speak out, share experiences and challenges. It’s guiding each other through difficult times and becoming a support network. We as women, as friends, family, colleagues could and should be supporting each other whatever the cause or type of mental health issue it is. Support is priceless.

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I hope, if you’re looking for help and need assistance, the links below help point you in the right direction and help you start your journey

As always, thank you for reading

Loves to all,

OCM xoxo

Why Is Turning One So Much Fun!?

After our mini hiatus from being online, we are bloomin’ back. We have a brand new look, a brand new structure, and so many new questions to ask – that’s why we are One Curious Mother. While we were away we’ve been less than quiet with a first birthday to celebrate, two snow days and a four-day Easter bank holiday weekend. Family time has been so important and we’ve loved every minute.

I recently wrote a post about being a mother for a year; I wrote a letter to year-ago-me about how my life had changed, the things I wish I’d known and the things I should remember to tell myself. Whilst doing this, I realised that I should be questioning things a lot more often; why were there things that I didn’t know, why were there things people didn’t tell me and why do babies not sleep when they’re so obviously tired!? So many questions and never enough time. We’ve tackled some intense and profound subject matters since we started back in December 2016 and I didn’t want to bring One Curious Mother back to you with a post that was too harsh or thought-provoking so without further ado, today we’re coming straight back at ya with our first post: ‘Why Is Turning One So Much Fun’ – Happy reading!

27750817_1756135944417876_1229448006099829969_nKing Rory the First

WHY IS TURNING ONE SO MUCH FUN!?

Rorysaurus. Part boy, part dinosaur, and a whole one-year-old! How did it become twelve months later? Fifty-two weeks, three hundred and sixty-five days  – I can’t comprehend that it’s been that long since he arrived into our lives via that ’emergency c’. I will never understand the cause of time speeding up as you get older but my golly gosh it certainly has since he was born. Within a blink of an eye, Rory has gone from a little glow worm in a swaddle to walking-slash-running and shouting ‘HIYA’ whilst scrunching his tiny hands open and closed at literally every single living thing. Damn, I am ever so excited for this year and with him growing so fast before our eyes, boy do we have so much to look forward to. Kicking things off in style, we threw him his very first birthday party – somewhat dinosaur themed of course! 

Party & Presents

After having a really large christening party for His Royal Highness, we decided to keep his birthday really low-key. We had family over for an old-school party lunch where we played games like ‘pass the parcel’ and ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ where, as per usual, we ate a ridiculous amount of cake. No party in our house is ever complete without party rings, cheese & pineapple sticks and sausage rolls. We stayed fairly low-key with the decorations but still managed to squeeze in some paper fans, oversized foil balloons, cone party hats and a super sparkly cake topper.

We tried to stay sensible with his birthday presents as we are still overwhelmed by all the gifts from Christmas. Despite this, we couldn’t help but fall for some fantastic finds with thanks to the closing sale by ToysRUs (RIP childhood!). Originally looking for sensory toys, We went for little musical instruments but ended up with a Buzz Lightyear backpack for our upcoming holiday, a Green Toys seaplane bath toy and a Vtech ‘My First Till’ as well. Our little dinosaur was nothing short of spoilt rotten by the rest of the family with a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe from his Granny & Grumps, money for swimming lessons from Grandad, a Little Tikes Shopping Trolley with all the felt food available to purchase in Ikea (to go with our till) from Great Nanny & Papy and a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Swing & Lawn Mower from Nanny, Bampi & Auntie Banana. With his Activity Garden from Christmas, you would definitely think our living room was now sponsored by Little Tikes! Now running around and fascinated by everything that moves, why wouldn’t anyone absolutely love playtime? I know I do and might just enjoy playing shop a bit more than Rory does – I’m not worried yet, I know he’ll come to love playing shop with me eventually!

Present Time!

On Rory’s actual birthday, we took a little day trip and Woburn Safari Park was our destination of choice. We are aiming to do as many zoos and aquariums around the UK as possible in the years to come and decided this occasion was perfect for ticking off another one. As the safari park was a little drive away from home, we packed up our car for the day, hoping to avoid the generous pounding of snow we had just the day before. With weather worse to the north and west of us, we decided on Woburn as it was further east where the weather was far less intense. By the time we arrived, there wasn’t a flake of snow in sight. Choosing a drive around safari was the perfect activity for a one-year-old. Sitting on my knee in the front, strapped in together going 2mph looking at bears, tigers, monkeys and more, had Rory completely transfixed. Even though the weather was still cold, most animals were out of their little homes and some even came a little too close to the car for my comfort (those bears were much scarier up close!). Once the safari was over, there was an interactive part of the park to enjoy and wrapped up beyond belief, we braved the freezing wind-chill and enjoyed looking at penguins, goats, otters and even found a Noah’s Ark super soft play area for us to have a run-around. It was the perfect sensory experience for a one-year-old and were so glad we made the decision to have a day out.

Safari Fun!

A lot of articles, blogs and forums said that a first birthday isn’t one for taking your child anywhere as they’re too young to enjoy anything and won’t remember it. I think it’s safe to say, we respectfully completely disagree! We had the most amazing day as a little family and yeah, Rory might not remember it but I know for sure that as parents, we definitely will. Family days out are always the best and I’ve got a list of future days out to get through this year.

So, what are we looking forward to this year? Well, we have a few exciting happenings coming up. First off, we’re going to support our Auntie Banana at her Masters’ graduation in London next week. It’s Rory’s first visit to the capital which is all very exciting as he loves people and new places are always fun. Then in June, we are heading on our second family holiday: a road trip to the South of France. On deciding to drive, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to plan a mini detour via the most magical place on earth, Disneyland Paris! Rory doesn’t know that he’s excited about it yet but he will grow up to be as excited as me, I’m absolutely sure of it. In addition to these, we have his progressional second-year milestones to look forward to; talking more, taking the next chapter of Waterbabies and moving on up to ‘Toddler Two’ at nursery school to name a few. With all our traditional celebrations like Halloween and another super festive Christmas, we are all set for another super busy year and cannot wait.

I think in answer to our original question, ‘why is turning one so much fun?’ I believe it’s because we are about to have so much fun before we turn two, there is just no way it could ever be boring and we hope you’ll enjoy joining us on this journey as much as we’ll enjoy taking it!

Speak soon & love to all,
One Curious Mother xoxo

PS here are some sources for some of the things in today’s post:
Happy Birthday Balloon Banner (affiliate link)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inflating-Birthday-Balloon-Bunting-Letters/dp/B06XY6S77C/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=onecuriousmot-21&linkId=ae09f2eee267c8d05e848223d2ea245a
Giant Green 1 Balloon (affiliate link)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B072XSP7KQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&psc=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=onecuriousmot-21&linkId=21d6cb7390e231c6cece654d2a7cc7a0
Dinosaur ‘One’ Cake Topper (affiliate link)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N7049KQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&psc=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=onecuriousmot-21&linkId=6857913e91e68626b9587be879bd3883
Little Tikes – https://www.littletikes.co.uk
Woburn Safari Park – http://www.woburnsafari.co.uk
Disneyland Paris – http://www.disneylandparis.co.ukhttp://www.disneyholidays.co.uk/disneyland-paris/

Curiouser & Curiouser

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Welcome back, everybody! 

We’ll keep this one short & sweet as very soon we’ll have plenty to say…

Let me say thank you so much for coming back and ‘Hello, Welcome’ if you’re a new reader – it’s lovely to have you here. Over the past 3 or 4 weeks, we’ve been busy little bees and decided to have a blog spring clean. With a redesigned logo and website, we are taking a fresh new approach to how we will be using our blog and now our darling son is one, we will be heading into the second year of motherhood continuing to ask lots of questions – after all, we’re all curious here!

NEW POST COMING SOON

Love to all,
One Curious Mother xoxo

Mother for a Year: An Open Letter

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As we approach our little Rory’s first birthday I’ve decided to write myself an open letter, a letter to year-ago-me in the first days after giving birth. Things I wished I’d known, the advice I’d give myself and the hope that past-me really would have needed to hear.

I’m not going to waffle on before this, I’m going to let it speak for itself, so here goes nothing…

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Dear New Mama,

How you holding up?

I know you’ve had a difficult few days and you’re exhausted and emotional but your body has been through a lot in such a small amount of time. Bruised and drugged up to the eyeballs, I know you’re not feeling the full effects of your surgery yet but be nice to yourself, you undeniably deserve it.

I know you’re disappointed and upset. Surgery was the last thing you wanted but just remember, you were a fighter right to the bitter end. You were determined to birth your baby unaided and you did everything you could for this during those thirty-six hours. You produced a determination and strength within your body and within your mind that you never knew. You’re feeling damaged and defeated and it’s ok to feel that way – things didn’t go the way you wanted but you must never think of this as a failure. You absolutely did not fail. NEVER, ever, ever stop and think for one minute that you failed in this. You’ll read many articles, comments and blog posts this year about c-sections. You won’t believe how many people have opinions (and some don’t even have a uterus!) but please, don’t listen to all of them. People are always trying to convince women that a c-section was the ‘easy way out’ or that by having one you ‘didn’t really give birth’ but girl, you grew that baby with your body like a mighty warrior! The surgery was imperative to saving both your lives.

It’s ok to feel angry. Angry that you don’t recognise yourself, that your body is scarred and in so much pain. You’re angry that your body is still healing three, six, nine, eleven months later and it’s normal to feel this way. Start by stepping away from triggering social media. It’ll really hurt you. Stop looking at other mothers on Instagram that had a baby last week and lost 3lbs off their pre-baby weight already. Stop obsessing about those with post-baby abs – it’s not going to happen for you sweetie. Don’t beat yourself up about doing exercise. Take it at your own pace and stop looking at those ‘fit-moms’. Despite this, you should have done more of those exercises the physiotherapist gave you to do. Even though they were uncomfortable and make you ache, they were designed to help you even if it doesn’t feel that way but don’t be hard on yourself, it’s justifiable. Don’t worry about running or pushing yourself too hard. You’ll end up finding badminton is your sport and you’ll take up Waterbabies both you’ll really enjoy. It’s all about finding the new normal for you as a mama, not you as the size 10 young twenty-something year old – she has left the building and isn’t coming back. Always remember your body was pushed to the furthest limit; it’s still recovering and it might be for some time yet. You’re still recovering now, a whole year later and you still have appointments and consultations to come. I know this is crushing you and you’re going to take this really hard for a long long time but please be kind to yourself. You’ll try and take care of your body but trust me, those little extra TLC moments will help with your recovery in the long run.

Our little moments…

Really focus on those real mothers out there sharing every drama and every mini-triumph. There are moments when you’ll feel so lonely and isolated; it’s in the many dark moments to come, that these mothers will make you feel grounded and the ones who make you feel like you’re never truly alone. Never feel embarrassed to talk about your mental health. It’s always as important as your physical health. There are loads of resources out there to help you and your health visitor is number one. Don’t shy away like you used to. Remember in the past that this has caused more harm than good. If you want to cry then cry and if you want to be angry then you be angry. It’s ok to feel helpless and on some days for your anxiety to consume you – you’re only human and having a baby has challenged every ounce of you. Don’t hide away, confide more in those you love and they’ll help you step-by-step. Take longer walks; ‘Have baby, will travel’ – bundle little one up and try your best to walk as far as you comfortably can. The fresh air will help clear your mind and you’ll feel so much better for it. I know it’s hard to envisage but in just six months from now, you’ll go on your first family holiday as a three to Holland. It’ll be a fantastic first holiday and you’ll think back on it almost every day. It will bring you the happiest of memories and make you excited for future holidays.

Our first holiday: Holland

Don’t feel like you have to answer everyone’s questions and there will be millions. ‘How was it?’, ‘Are you having visitors?’, ‘Why are you home so soon?’ etc, etc. Don’t hide, if people ask about your birthing experience, own it. Tell them straight up how hard and traumatic it was, that surgery was gruelling and recovery is unimaginably hard. Equally, you don’t owe anyone an answer. ‘Are you thinking about more kids?’ Sure, you’ve always wanted a minivan full but right now: HELL NO! You’re not even going to want to entertain the thought and getting pregnant will truly terrify you from this moment on. You will spend hours thinking about this. It will enter your thoughts and creep into your mind when you least expect it: you’ll be at work, out for a walk or trying to eat. It will keep you up at night, make you feel instant dread and even make you panic. Don’t over think it – you’ll have plenty of time in the future to tackle those fears and right now, in recovery doesn’t have to be that time. Try your best to keep those precious night-time hours aside for sleep because god only knows you need it. You’ll learn to cope better with this as the months go by so if you don’t think you’ll get through it, my dear you will. You’re stronger than you realise.

Breastfeeding will come in time. Persevere and don’t fear the formula, it’ll become a saving grace when you’re feeling like you’ve tried everything. Once it all starts to run smoothly, you’ll feel such a sense of triumph as all your hard work does pay off.  Breastfeed wherever the hell you want! You’ll shy away and feel nervous, you’ll worry about other people looking or telling you not to in public but babe, if a baby has to eat a baby has to eat. You’ll avoid doing things at the fear of these very thoughts but looking back now, you didn’t need to be. This isn’t always how you’ll think, you do eventually get past this fear and realise you literally don’t care. ‘Insta-moms’ will help empower you with this one – #normalisebreastfeeding (normalize if you’re from across the pond!)

Leaving your baby after spending every waking minute together will be hard. Separation anxiety is totally normal, hell it’s part of the postpartum package alongside buckets of tears, body hatred and sleep deprivation. It’s the real frickin’ deal but don’t feel like everyone is trying to take the little man away. It’s ok to hate being away from him and you will feel like no one knows him like you do. You’ll feel like you’re the only one who can comfort him and you’re the one who went through so much to bring his little precious life earth-side that you don’t ever want to be away from him and quite frankly don’t want to share him with a soul. Really though, don’t feel rushed into being without him. Do every step in your own time and at your own pace, after all, no one can tell you exactly what to do and when to do it when it comes to you and your son. You do you and let everyone else fall in line. (By the way, this totally works and you didn’t have to feel bad because you did what was right for you!) You’ll learn how to let other people, family and loved ones, take the reins every once in a while. You’ll find a balance where you’ll go to those mother-baby classes and have some time for yourself too. It’s all about finding the new normal.

Too many shades of beige! 

Now lastly before I say goodbye, my last piece of advice: SOAK. IT. ALL. UP. Every little hour, minute and second because it will fly by. Rory is amazing. He’s smart and happy and the just the bee’s knees. He’s got a smile that’ll make you weak and a laugh that makes your heart burst; he’ll develop this amazing personality and you’ll love his sense of humour Look how perfect your little boy is! You’ll spend hours looking at him, working out who he looks like most, what colour his eyes really are and how on earth his skin is so soft. You’ll cry many, many times just watching him sleep wondering how you made something so perfect and so beautiful. Don’t worry – all mama’s do this, I’m sure of it.

Enjoy every high and low; every long night and rainy day, every cuddle and snuggle, every laugh and cry. Someone once told me ‘The days will feel long but the years will fly by’ and by god weren’t they right!?

Lots of love,
Future Mama xxxx

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I don’t feel like I need to say much more: my life has changed so much in just a mere twelve months. I’ve learned a lot along the way even though there is so much I wish I’d known before. I’ve dealt with things I never thought I would and although it’s been unimaginably tough at times, it’s those moments that have shown me just how rewarding motherhood can be.

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

PS. No sources for today’s post but here is a list of helpful links!
Postnatal Depression – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/symptoms/
Postpartum Anxiety – https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-type/postnatal-anxiety/
Parental Separation Anxiety – https://www.babble.com/parenting/parental-separation-anxiety/
Babies with Separation Anxiety – https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/separation-anxiety-0
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/ptsd-and-birth-trauma/#.WpwE7SOcZ-U
Birth Trauma – http://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/help-support/what-is-birth-trauma
Loneliness – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201703/the-unexpected-loneliness-new-mothers
Peanut App – https://www.peanut-app.io

A Grand Afternoon: Christening Rory

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Today’s post will be brought to you by the letter ‘F’: Family, Fun & Fitzsimons!

For me, nothing is as important as family. It was instilled in me from a very young age that your family is your rock; you’ll love each other, protect each other and support each other in everything you do and when I was growing up we did just that. Of course, as we headed through some difficult times, we grew even stronger. Like many who lose a member of their family or have a parent in the forces, you pull yourselves together through the good and the bad and it’s made us so much closer as we’ve all grown older and newly expanded! As a mother now, I see it as my duty to my son to show him how important family is and create memories to last a lifetime.

Some of my favourite memories come from the many gatherings we had year after year. Family gatherings were a solid staple of my childhood: every birthday, every holiday and festivity. They never consisted of anything over the top or anywhere other than in a living room or back garden. We would spend hours sitting around chit-chatting, playing games, drinking a million cups of tea with never any danger of running out of cake. Come rain or shine we always had the best times together.

 

Feast Aplenty!

I still love those family get-togethers and still reminisce about our favourite moments of the past. I want our little man to cherish his own family memories the way that I do and carry them forth into his future. We’ve all had a birthday since little man was born, we’ve done his first Easter, Halloween, and Christmas and in just over three weeks’ time he’ll be ONE. After much deliberation (for around six months), we decided we wanted to have him christened and before his first birthday and hey, who doesn’t love an excuse for a party!? As a self-confessed Pinterest addict, I could easily spend 12 hours a day scrolling and pinning over and over with happily sacrificing sleep to find inspiration to make my life more colourful, easier or just to bring a bit more feng-shui to my life. This party was the perfect excuse to spend some time doing just that. After trawling through board after board, we decided to go with tradition. Pale blue as a staple colour for the decorations, we jumped on the bandwagon with oversized foil balloons and I personally designed the cake which our wonderful friend at Hannah Culley’s Cakes baked to absolute perfection – A victoria sponge top tier with a double chocolate lower tier and 50 lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd! (If you need a cake and you’re local to the South-West, check her out – links are at the end of my post!)

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Having the Holy Oil crossed on Rory’s forehead

The day was sunny but chilly and the service was just beautiful. We had a stand-alone service as there was nearly eighty of us so was lovely to have just us present for Rory’s special day. We were so fortunate to have all our family and closest friends surrounding us including all four of my grandparents too – having four generations present was really something special. Little man was well behaved throughout the service even though he didn’t think much of having his forehead bathed – his expressions are always pure gold! Our vicar was wonderful. She was funny and had a way with her that felt a lot like home. It’s been many years since I regularly attended church on a Sunday but Jane made us feel like we’d known her all along. She kept little man’s attention for the full forty-five-minute service and helped us belt a hymn or two. It was such a personal service with a beautiful reading of ‘Children Learn What They Live’ by DL Nolte read by my Papy. His soft welsh voice filled the church and made me feel so proud and grateful for my family. Rory was fascinated by the font and didn’t even flinch whilst having the holy oil or water placed on his forehead – the whole service was a huge success, to say the least.

 

St Bartholomew’s Church – My cute Papy reading the poem ‘Children Learn What They Live’

Once the service was done we headed down to the local pub/restaurant/hotel (and my old place of work) where we hired their function room: ‘The Ballroom’. We filled the room and spent four hours having the most amazing time catching up with friends who’d never met Rory, the family who’ve been living miles away and soaking up such a special occasion for our special little man. We decided on a mixed buffet of sandwiches, hot chicken, sausage rolls and crudités accompanied by teas & coffees and plenty of cake. We judged it spot on and there was barely anything left at the end. Chit-chatting away with crammed plates and huge slices of cake; it was the perfect recipe for a grand ol’ afternoon. After standing on a chair and thanking everyone for coming with what was a super short & sweet speech, little man had lots of cuddles, giggles and food followed by a nap for over an hour in amongst the hustle and bustle – I guess being center of attention is really tiring! We cut the delicious cake during naptime and were all finished in time for his royal highness to wake up for playtime. Then by 5 o’clock, as everyone started to leave, we took down the decorations and boxed up the cake. We were all partied out and started to fancy the chicken casserole mum had so wonderfully turned on in the slow cooker nine hours earlier – what an angel!

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Cake cutting with The Great-Grandma

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The months of planning, cake designing, invite writing, venue hunting and decoration collecting, when the day finally came it ran smooth like puddin’! Nobody was late or got lost en route, nobody argued or had too much to drink; everyone was fed, watered and happy all having had an amazing day. It was one I’ve definitely banked in my ‘favourite days so far’. Rory was utterly spoilt with so much love along with incredible and generous gifts, some which he’ll be able to treasure forever. This has been one family filled event to add to the never-ending list of family days that I’ll truly treasure forever.

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The FitzPriddings

Never take your family for granted. Always show them love, protect them and support them through life as you grow and learn together. It’s these memories you make that’ll bring you closer and last you a lifetime.

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

 

Source List:

Balloons – https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/occasions/party-supplies/balloons?filter=Themes~Letters/Colour~Silver/&followsearch=9716
Cake – https://www.facebook.com/culleyscakery
Cake Topper – https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/twentyseven/product/personalised-christening-cake-topper
Paper Fans – https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/blue-tissue-paper-fan-decorations-3-pack/620555-1001 (Silver not available online)

Rorys shoes – https://www.mothercare.com/first-walkers-and-crawlers/first-walkers-t-bar-shoes/LPC036.html?dwvar_LPC036_color=brown&dwvar_LPC036_footwearSize=2%20jnr&cgid=#q=brown+shoes&start=2 
Rorys suit – Monsoon Outlet (Swindon)

 

 

 

Workin’ 9 to 5, What a Way to Make a Livin’…

CATCH UP POST NUMBER TWO – GOING BACK TO WORK

…Barely gettin’ by, it’s all takin’ and no givin’

Dolly P - Working 9 to 5

WHOA Dolly! 9 to 5 is no longer enough to make that livin’ that’s for sure! However, the rest of the song speaks some uncomfortable truths. Singing about the man standing in her way, not getting any credit and putting all the money in his pocket: This is shockingly still the case for many and it appears to be taking a hell of a lot more than that well-known 9 to 5 to make a living nowadays. With overtime or flexi-time there are many of us who don’t work those well-known hours anymore. Even though some work alternative hours flexing around family or social life, there are some who don’t have a choice but to work every hour possible just to get on the same level as others. Luckily for me, I work for a company that has done absolutely everything they can to make my maternity leave and return to work an easy and comforting transition and have been more than understanding regarding my newly found life balance. I’ve been very fortunate and it makes it very hard to believe that currently some women are still fighting for equal rights in the work place. Between the stories of inequality in the media over the past, give or take, 12 months and stories of women who’ve lost their jobs for being pregnant and wanting fair maternity leave, we as a country need to get a grip on how we are treating our ladies: equal pay and equal rights are just the beginning.

It’s no secret that having time off with your beloved new baby is an absolute must not only for physical recovery but mentally too. It’s important on so many levels: for bonding, for the baby’s development and for mama’s recovery; after all, having a baby is a major life event. However even with UK maternity leave being fairly generous across the board, with varying amounts of leave offered depending on company policies, in all the world countries ranked it doesn’t even reach the top 10 – quite shocking right!? I used to spend my days wondering ‘HOW THE HELL DO YOU GO BACK TO WORK, MAKE MONEY, PAY FOR CHILD CARE, SPEND TIME WITH YOUR CHILD AND HAVE A LIFE ALL AT THE SAME TIME!? ‘Working Mama’ can seem like a daunting title and for some it can cost them with losing money or even their jobs.

Statutory Maternity Leave was created to cover the working mother who isn’t covered by their own company’s policy. It’s made up of two lots of 26 weeks, Ordinary Maternity Leave and Additional Maternity Leave. You don’t have to take all of this; the minimum is 2 weeks (4 for factory workers). This can start approximately 11 weeks before your due date and automatically starts if you’re ill within 4 weeks of your due date or starts the day after your baby is born if they are born premature. If you change your return to work date mid-leave you just need to give 8 weeks’ notice. It pretty much covers all bases and is what I was entitled to. The pay part of this is pretty sucky but is a lot better than nothing. So Statutory Maternity Pay entitles you to 39 weeks of pay out of the 52; this is broken down into two parts. The first 6 weeks which will be 90% of your normal pay then the other 33 weeks at 90% of your earnings or 140.98 per week depending on which is the lowest. This was a very difficult adjustment for me. With bills that had to be paid and needing to buy necessities it was just about manageable. It’s even harder for the last 13 weeks should you chose to take them as this is when the money stops. Obviously if you’re planning on getting pregnant and know statutory pay is what you’re entitled to SAVE – it’s an absolute life saver to have savings! I wasn’t so organised but managed to save throughout my pregnancy so went into maternity leave with at least a little cushion. I decided to return to work 4 weeks early as I found my money was slowly disappearing and didn’t think I could make it stretch much further. This meant that I would return before little man’s first birthday but that was always the case. I now have a definite start date and a million and one things to do before said day. From organising little man’s stuff to finding work clothes – it’s become nothing short of a minefield of moments that usually start with ‘shit I need to do that’. I’m going to break those down as it’s far easier subcategories as to tackle them one by one:

  1. Money: ‘Makes the world go around’ – As I said, really consider your money. Think about your outgoings and whether your wage is going to benefit or hinder you. Make sure you look at your wage when returning part time too! For the first month-ish back at work I will have absolutely no money. As I’ve been on statutory maternity leave & pay, my pay finished mid-December (bummer!) and despite saving a lot of money up in preparation but for this there is very little left (damn you January sales!). Do think your maternity leave through better than I did – you’ll probably have not got pregnant a week into your new job either so you probably will get company maternity pay so you’ll be alright! If you are like me and very money conscious (most of the time) then make a spreadsheet and document your spending so you can see where your money is going and where you can cut back. This might just save you a few pennies and maybe some arguments too!
  2. Nursery/Day Care: ‘DAMN that’s more than I earn!’- Yes, nurseries are expensive but do not pick one based on this alone. You will need to be able to trust them 110%! Do your research, go and look at a few, get a prospectus, speak to other mamas at clubs or the local children’s centre – make sure when you walk through the door it feels and looks like a place you want to leave your baby. We’ve just chosen a wonderful nursery just a few miles away which is half way between both our places of work. They open early and close late and have the most incredible facilities. As soon as we stepped through the door, we knew this was a fantastic place for our son to be. The price is high but one we can cover so he has the best care available.
  3. Weaning/Pumping/Feeding: This one is my biggest worry – pumping at work scares me half to death on its own but as little man still likes his milk and is not into letting it go just yet, it’s my only option. He’s down to a feed once in the morning and once in the afternoon so being brave, I’m thinking I could sneak that into a coffee break easy. I know that eventually our breastfeeding journey will come to an end it feeds will be dropped as he is weened further and turns one and can have cow’s milk so it’s only temporary. We’ve had a great journey even though it started off so rocky. On the food front, we are quite fortunate. He eats well and isn’t particularly fussy about what it is but more of when it is or how he’d fed. He likes to think he can feed himself but so often ends up feeding the dogs! We are rather lucky in that respect so have little worries here – yay!
  4. YOUR EMOTIONS: It’s more than ok to feel emotional about going back to work and leaving your baby with someone else. Whether this comes in guilt, sadness or relief, you’ve spent such a concentrated amount of time with your baby that to be apart now is bound to stir up some new emotions. This is the one that has stirred deep down in me for a while in anticipation of returning to work but I don’t think it will really become apparent until my first day back. Again, I am fortunate to be returning to work on a part-time basis so at least I have a four-day weekend to look forward to. It’s all about bringing the positives back into focus and taking on those emotions. Never hide them because that’s unhealthy but accept that it is normal to feel this way and it will get easier as it becomes the new normal.

No one expects this time to come around so quickly. It only seems like five minutes since you left the hospital and now you’re heading back to work and your baby is almost turning 1 – How did that happen!? You know, someone once told me that ‘the days will feel long but the years will fly by’ and boy weren’t they right! Whatever decisions you make whether to go back to work or not just make sure it’s the right one for you and if you ever feel like you made the wrong choice you can always change it. With little under two weeks until my return to work, I’m both looking forward to it and nervous.

Wish me luck!

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

 


Sources:
– Photo found at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dolly-parton-wrong-working-9-5-way-make-living-shane-kilboyle/
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/these-10-countries-have-the-best-parental-leave-policies-in-the-world
https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave