My 100,000 Miles to Geriatric Mummahood

Last week, my car’s mileage reached 100,000 miles & I realised that I’ve actually driven all of them, but three. I bought my car brand new & I loved it then & still do now. I also realised that this milestone (& my car itself) represents my long journey to motherhood rather well. I bought my trusty Suzuki Swift eleven years ago, I was 28, almost 29. I was newly married to my first husband. If truth be told, we’d never really spoken about having children; it wasn’t on my agenda during my 20s: I was busy teaching other people’s children & I was more than happy with that arrangement. That was until one month in 2008 I missed my period. I was terrified, but part of me was excited at the thought of being a Mumma. I duly bought a pregnancy test (the first of many over the years) & waited what seemed like forever, for just one pesky line to appear. It was negative & I felt sad. It was at that precise moment, whilst sat sobbing on the loo; that I knew I wanted & thought I was ready for a baby, but didn’t realise I’d have to wait ten more years: get diagnosed with PCOS, go through a divorce, marry my soulmate, lose over three stone in weight & suffer a fair bit of heartbreak in between before I got to hold my bundle of joy.

I met Tim back in 2003 & I was instantly attracted to him. There was something about him that I was drawn to: he was (& still is) fun, techie(!), driven, successful & passionate in his career. He always inspired me with so many things & we talked for hours & continue to now – providing we can both stay awake long enough (ahh, the joys of late parenthood hey!) But the time we met was not the right one. We had our own partners & families & so I put it out of my mind that we would ever be together. To cut a very long story short; after a lot of courage to vocalise our thoughts we discovered that neither of us were happy in our current lives. We met up to talk about things, knew we were attracted to each other & wanted to be together & the rest, as they say, is history. I’m secretly hoping that Tim wanted to be with me all along too, but I’ll never know for certain! We’ve been together ever since. Who would have thought that a chance meeting all those years ago would lead to this? Our paths would never have crossed & I think it proves that if you’re meant to be with someone, then the universe has a way of making things happen & at exactly the right time. It hasn’t all been straightforward by any means, but we firmly believe that you shouldn’t stay in a situation that makes you unhappy. Yes, it’s selfish, but life is painfully too short. My favourite film quote (from ‘Steel Magnolias’) is, “I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special” & it’s so true. We had no idea how our relationship would go; whether we could even live together, but we were prepared to take the chance & I don’t regret a single day. Tim might though?!

Tim knew from the beginning of our relationship that I wanted a child. He already had two of his own, so this was a big thing for both of us in different ways. I knew my fertility was dwindling so we tried quite soon into our relationship & during 2014 – the year we got married, we thought our prayers had been answered. I had been having a lot of pain in my side for a few days & after a lot of paracetamol not having any effect & not being able to sleep for a couple of nights because of the agony, we went to A&E. It was like something out of a film. They did all my stats & then asked for a urine sample. I waited ages in a cubicle worrying what they might find, then a Doctor came in to tell me that I was ‘strongly’ pregnant & the pain could just be muscular as my body adapted. I was in absolute shock & over the moon all at the same time, but unfortunately, I was already bleeding heavily & miscarried a couple of days later. I was distraught, although had a little hope that we might conceive again soon as the Doctor said I was at my most fertile. We were pregnant within the next month & ecstatic, but terrified. I bled again, so we went to a private clinic for a scan. The sonographer said everything looked fine & it was a healthy pregnancy. Unfortunately a week later I miscarried; literally at the hospital during my first scan. The sonographer couldn’t find the foetus because of all the blood. Looking back, I don’t know how I got through this dark time if truth be told. My heart was literally broken into a million pieces, I could feel it. Then, in 2016 I lost my wonderful Mum & couldn’t cope with anything in that whole year. I had no focus, no goals, I was just trying to get through one day at a time. It wasn’t until 2017, when I’d pretty much given up all hope that I’d ever be a Mumma, that Tim suggested one rainy October morning that he thought I should take a pregnancy test. We had just received a letter from the fertility clinic & ready to try other alternatives, again. I remember we sat on the landing together, waiting for the result. After a few minutes, the annoyingly familiar single control line appeared, a few more minutes & I gingerly looked again. Nothing. I was absolutely distraught, as I felt this was our last chance. I was just about to throw it in the bin when I glanced again, just to be sure. When I did, I saw the faintest of lines in the test window! Could this actually be real? I immediately showed Tim & he thought there was something there too. We quickly went to the supermarket to get some digital tests & there it was on the LCD screen: I was 2-3 weeks pregnant. But this was just the start of my journey. Despite my terror in the early days & my almost PTSD terror at each scan appointment, I had a fairly straight forward pregnancy. This changed towards the end as my darling boy was measuring quite large (well Tim is 6’1”!) & they had to keep an extra eye on me. Then I developed pre-eclampsia, so couldn’t have the water birth I so dearly wanted. I also have a negative blood group & Benjamin’s is positive, so had to have injections & more obs. But, in the grand scheme of things all went well. I think I held things together, until the ‘final push’ when I lost it a bit. I remember thinking afterwards, “I’ve done it, I’ve actually done it, but now what do I do?!” I still have these thoughts now! Every stage of having a baby brings its own magic & wonder & I genuinely love it. I look forward to Benjamin’s next milestone, I cherish it. I do get sad sometimes that I won’t be having any more babies, but I honestly don’t think my body could do it again. And Tim keeps telling me that he is only meant to have three children in this lifetime! So I count my blessings daily: my very special little boy that I was never sure I could have.

So, going back to my blog title, I guess my little car has been a constant companion; through my marriages, house move: it literally drove me out of my old life & into my new one, my miscarriages, many road trips, a few different jobs, lots of trips with friends & family (some of whom are sadly no longer with us), throughout my pregnancy, transporting Benjamin, through my maternity leave & into a completely new career. And now here I am, a nearly forty year old Mumma of a 1 year old, still with the same car! I don’t think I could have ever believed or even imagined all that would happen in the decade to come; as I drove off the forecourt on that June Saturday morning back in 2008. We spend such a lot of time in our cars, that they become part of us. I have so many happy thoughts & memories that come flooding back to me whilst driving. It’s my bubble, my safe-haven, my thinking space & I’m not ready to part with it just yet, unless of course I’m offered a Mercedes SLK & then I might reconsider?..

NB. This has been a difficult post to write, I’ve not talked about this as openly as I have now & I apologise if there’s too much information. I hope that by writing about my experiences, it may help someone in some way; offering hope to never give up on your dreams; they just might take a little longer than you’d originally planned.

Thank you if you’re still reading!

The milestone…

My boys 💙

Miss you so much Mum…

I love this photo of my wonderful Mum. It was taken before she was my Mum…about 3 years before I believe. She looks so happy, so cool even & so young! I know that I would have been great friends with her back then, just as we became as I grew up. We were totally on the same wavelength, we laughed at the same silly things & we shared the same opinions on so many things. This got me thinking, that we never really think of our parents as being young & carefree; glowing with the joy of youth & having hopes, dreams & ambitions. We see them as sensible, practical & older; having the answers for everything & seeming to know what to do in any situation. Then we become parents ourselves…our own youthful looks change; we worry, we’re tired & we ‘wing it’ a lot! And then realise that that’s exactly what they must have done too, but all very convincingly!

I am increasingly envious of my friends who still have their Mums in their lives. Even more so now that I’m a Mummy myself. Sometimes I just need the reassurance that only a Mum can provide: that ‘all knowing’, sound advice & unconditional love. And the time to listen & help. It breaks my heart every single day that she never got to meet Benjamin – the grandchild that she so longed to have. I know she would have been the most fantastic, fun, hands-on Granny & he would have adored her as well.

I can’t believe that it’s been three years today since she passed away. I think about her so much; often trying to second guess what she would suggest or say, but of course, will never really know for certain. It makes me realise how precious our time is with our children & try to show Benjamin how much he’s loved every day; even when he’s being a little monkey! I want to give him lots of good memories, to hopefully provide comfort when I can’t be there for him. Sounds dramatic I know, but I’m very aware that our time on this earth is so incredibly fleeting & we need our happy memories to carry us through the grief & hard times: knowing that we were loved, wanted & important to someone too.

Love & miss you so much Mum & really that you’re watching over us xx

Letters to my baby…

Today I have finally finished writing all of Jamin’s 12 letters ☺️ This has been such an emotional experience: from the moment Tim gave this book to (a newly pregnant) me during Christmas 2017, to when I was thinking about what I wanted to write in each of his letters, right up till now, when I feel a bit sad that it’s all over.

I guess losing a parent & some dear friends has made me even more acutely aware of my own mortality; so writing my thoughts, hopes & dreams for my own (now not so) tiny baby seemed so surreal & really quite daunting. I just hope that we will bring him up well enough so he can cope with anything that life throws at him & also give him lots of happy, precious memories to cherish & take comfort in when we can no longer be with him: ultimately knowing that he was long waited & prayed for & loved more than he’ll ever know 💙☺️

Now I’ve just got to remember where I put it, ready for his 16th birthday! 🤔

Such a thought-provoking book…

Nutellagate…

Hello lovely readers! Again, I know it’s been a while since my last post…we’ve had my lovely Dad over from Spain staying with us & it’s been great to see Benjamin & him get to know each other again. Also Tim & I went ‘out out’ for dinner, which was actually a m a z i n g…soo good to be ‘proper’, childless, dressed up grown ups, if only for a couple of hours! Work’s been crazy & well, life too really.

So I decided that this Friday when we had our day together, we would go to our local baby & toddler group again. It had been a while since we’d been; not since Benjamin was a newborn in fact, things might be different, so we’d give it a go! I say ‘things might be different’ in that my attitude towards these sorts of groups might have changed, not the group itself, which I am sure, provides a great resource for a lot of Mummas. Personally I’ve always found it a little hectic: children running riot, with their Mums & Dads abandoning them upon entry: in favour of the promise of a luke warm cuppa & a slightly soggy digestive, you know, a bit like soft play really. Anyway, it was one of our neighbour’s children’s first birthday, so armed with a card & gift, we braved the repurposed church to rediscover the delights that Toddlers at Cornerstone could offer on a grey Friday morning. It was busy. Busier than ever before, so negotiating a pathway through stray toys, sippy cups, discarded half eaten snacks & lively children; with 22lbs of wriggly Benjamin proved a little tricky. We perched next to the birthday boy & his Mummy, offered up our gift, then I let Benjamin free range it, under my watchful eye I must add. He played nicely, waved at & charmed the ladies as usual; I was pleased that his social skills were still impeccable in a different situation. The time came for birthday cake, so Jamin enjoyed a homemade chocolate cupcake & Mumma got to have some Swiss roll. Win win all round! The boy had a little of his; weirdly he’s more of a savoury kinda chap, like his Daddy really. He ate a couple of mouthfuls of the frosting (which I skillfully deduced had Nutella in!) & about the same of sponge. I thought no more of it until Friday evening – after the series of events that followed…

After the cake, we had to tidy up the toy carnage, then were rewarded with a healthy snack, all sat in a circle on the floor. I thought we might be singing “Happy Birthday”, but by that time the birthday boy was soundo on a nearby beanbag & the moment was lost. He’d partied hard it seemed. Benjamin on the other hand was having his second wind. He chomped his way through the various fruits, in a similar fashion to his favourite story character, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” And then he wanted more. He started to crawl, full speed towards the leftovers on the floor & I knew exactly what he wanted to do. I quickly abandoned our plates & also crawled after him, which isn’t as easy as it sounds on an industrial nylon carpet whilst wearing tights, a slippery dress & a pair of ballerinas. Seriously, when am I going to dress appropriately for the situation? Anyway, I managed to grab him just as he was about to face-plant the fruity platter. Luckily the majority of the offerings remained unscathed, except for an unfortunate strawberry, which briefly attached itself to his nose. I (seamlessly as possible) wiped it away, retrieved the boy, gathered our things & promptly left; thanking my neighbour for the cake & excusing us on the pretext of a nappy change & a nap (the latter more for Mumma than the boy to be honest!) I had to drive the long way home, as a tractor was blocking the exit to my usual route (the joys of country living) & by the time I’d got over the train line, Jamin was fast asleep. I carefully extracted him from the car in a bomb-disposal technician style & placed him in his cot. I was fully expecting him to be wide-awake, but he didn’t stir. Instead, he slept for two solid hours straight! It was a small miracle & I managed to get two loads of laundry washed, cleaned the bathrooms & have an uninterrupted lunch. Lucky me. However, this all changed when he woke up. He lunched upon a mild chilli, nothing out of the ordinary & then we went into the lounge to play. He took off, literally rocketed around the room at seemingly 100 miles an hour on all fours (he usually opts for a commando-style). He headed straight for the hallway & the inviting, mountainous staircase. Without warning he scaled four steps; to where he saw his muzzies drying on the clothes horse, reached through the bars, grabbed one, then shimmied back down to the hall floor & proceeded to chew said muzzie; looking very proud of himself! I was in such shock, yet so proud of his purposeful movement that I couldn’t be cross with him. Although I did iMessage Tim to get the stair gate on standby! He then went on to randomly launch himself onto a box full of clothes that I had been sorting out & lay there like he was pretending to swim. If he wasn’t throwing himself around, he wanted to cruise from one sofa to the other, holding on with one hand as he navigated the room: he literally couldn’t sit still. This continued until bedtime, which couldn’t come soon enough!

Since his exuberant high of ‘Nuttellagate’ we have intentionally revisited the stairs: I was behind him, whilst Tim was at the top (dangling some old car keys, which is Benjamin’s new favourite thing!) & our very own Edmund Hillary scaled the whole fourteen step staircase & was rightly proud of himself again: as were we! We do like the whole ‘carrot & stick’ method as you may have noticed. We’re quite happy about him practising his climbing skills in controlled circumstances of course. Meanwhile we’ve put the stair gate in place for when we can’t watch him like hawks!

So I guess I’m thankful to that humble Nutella cupcake for giving my little explorer the sugar rush he needed to physically push himself further than he ever has before & the confidence to do it. I’m sure not many parents would say that! Although after the general trail of devastation that he left behind on Friday & making my heart race extra fast, I’m not sure if he’ll be having any more for a while, unless Mumma can stock up on caffeine & gin first…

Thank you for reading; I’d love to know which foods elevate your child’s energy levels…

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“Look at me Mumma!”
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I caught you Benjamin!

 

 

Yay, we survived the 10 month check!

I know, I’ve been very quiet on my blog recently. I haven’t given up with it, I’ve just been busy, preoccupied with life so to speak. Easter was wonderful: the boy & I were able to spend some really great (& much-needed) quality time together. And although I was exhausted for the most part, as I’d changed my rota to work in the evenings, I loved the time that we shared during the day. We reconnected, re-bonded even & it was just what we both needed…

The week before the Easter hols, I bumped into one of my elderly neighbours, whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. She saw Benjamin & asked whether I’d gone back to work yet. When I explained that I had & of our (in our eyes) successful childcare arrangements, she laughed as she exclaimed, “oh, so you’re a part time Mum then!” It’s amazing how this short sentence could change my whole perspective on everything. It seemed so negative. I felt awful, physically sick even. I’d never thought of my mummahood in that way; I’d only seen the positives, in that Benjamin gets more social interaction opportunities with other children than I could provide, he learns from different adults & he still gets to spend quality time with Tim & me. And I get to pay the household bills, joy! My neighbour went on to explain how her own daughter home-school’s & wouldn’t dream of leaving her child with anyone, but by that time, I’d zoned-out: contemplating my perceived ‘failings’ as a mother – in her eyes at least. It really got to me, probably more than it should have & made me even more determined to make the best of our Easter ‘break’ together, which we did.

So any way, back to the blog title! Today was the day that one of the local Health Visitors came to our home to do Benjamin’s 10-month assessment. I’d been dreading it if truth be known. We have no worries about his development at all, but knew he couldn’t do some of the things on the checklist & I didn’t want him to ‘fail’ – as no parent does. I was completely honest in my answers, which I think is important: in my previous teaching career, I’d experienced so many parents in complete denial about their children’s capabilities or lack of them, that I wanted his questionnaire to be a true reflection of him at this moment in time. Basically, he has only recently started to stand up unaided; with me during the Easter holidays in fact. He balances beautifully & keeps his whole foot flat. He can’t however, pick things up from standing, nor walk along holding onto furniture, or lower himself gracefully onto the floor (more falling like a sack of spuds!) Yes, he ‘talks’ a lot (to everything & everyone), he has amazing fine motor skills – picking up the tiniest crumb off the floor in a fab pincer grip, & he’ll even rhythmically blow raspberries onto his arm if the mood takes him: which it did of course, whilst the Health Visitor was explaining the dangers of the home. Who knew that ovens could burn, or that hot drinks could scald(?!) Benjamin was just vocalising his Mumma’s exasperated thoughts, I’m sure. Any way, she wasn’t worried about him in any of the other development areas at all. He is happy (unless hungry), healthy, sociable & the fact that he points to things frequently is very advanced for his age & a key language milestone: https://www.adam-mila.com/milestones/language-development/pointing/ I was a proud Mumma as I’ve always said he’s a talker rather than a walker, a bit like me! So she’s going to ‘phone me in a month to see what progress he’s made & go from there. I’m sure he’ll be cruising along (at his consistent 91st centile for height!) by that point, & in my ‘part-time mummahood’ I’ll be working on different strategies to get him walking more. Probably with one of Daddy’s unorthodox methods of using the glass biscuit jar, or the television remote that we gave him: in a true ‘carrot & stick’ approach. Well, the boy needs an incentive & what better than appeal to his two loves: food & technology. He really is a true mix of both of us it seems!

I suppose I need to thank my neighbour really, as her flippant comment made me stop & think. Yes, I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that I might be a ‘part time’ Mumma during the week (although Tim doesn’t agree with this) but I make sure that I’m properly ‘Mummaing’ when we’re together. I think being a ‘full time Mummy’ is almost a luxury these days, which makes me sad really. I would love to stay at home with him all day, but alas the mortgage needs to be paid! So while he may not have ticked all the gross motor skill tasks on the feared ‘checklist,’ he is however, excelling in communication, language, fine motor skills & social interaction. In our eyes, this is far more important at this stage: provided he’s not still commando crawling when he’s 16 that is! So despite my recent doubting, I guess this means I can’t be all that bad at this whole Mumma thing after all; part time or otherwise. Well maybe. Thank you for reading.

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We did it!
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“I love to point Mumma!”

My First Mother’s Day Gratitude…

For the last couple of years, Mother’s Day has been hard, really hard. Especially last year, when my pregnancy hormones were surging through me & all my grief seemed even more consuming than ever. My own wonderful, beautiful Mum passed away almost three years ago & not a day goes by without me thinking about her & wishing we could chat one last time. I take much comfort in my many happy memories of her, but get more upset about all the things that she’s missed: specifically Benjamin & being his Granny, which I know she would have been over the moon about. I also know she would have been the best grandmother & I often tell him about the things she used to do or say. This year, I was determined that things would be different…this year I wasn’t going to be quite as sad; yes I still miss her more than words can say, but mainly I wanted to be thankful: thankful for being lucky enough to have had such a fantastic Mum & having such a close relationship with her, but also truly thankful that I got to celebrate being a ‘proper’ Mumma for the very first time myself, something that I’d almost given up hope on becoming. I still think it’s incredible that in my Mum’s last letter to me, (when she knew that her health was seriously deteriorating) she wrote that she knew I would be a Mumma. I just thought it was her usual optimistic self; telling me that ‘things would be okay’ as she did regularly, but maybe, deep down, in her fast-approaching ‘end of life wisdom’, she really did know? Benjamin sometimes looks just above my head & giggles or smiles: I’ve convinced myself that it’s Mum playing ‘Peek A Boo’ with him, & ask him if it’s Granny. Sometimes his bedroom smells so strongly of her in the mornings, that I’m sure she’s been watching over him while he sleeps. It certainly gives me some comfort.

So as I look at my gorgeous cards & exquisite infinity orchid & Emma Bridgewater ‘Mummy mug’, I am incredibly thankful to be Benjamin’s Mumma (he knows me so well already it seems!) His cheeky smile & laugh completely lift my mood if I’m feeling down & I have to pinch myself that this precious tiny human is mine & I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s been a great Mother’s Day…we had tea & cake at Poole Park, visited Tim’s Mum & Grandad & Benjamin charmed them both. I even got a surprise camellia plant from Grandad, as he knows I love them so much. Yes, I’ve had moments of sadness as I remembered my Mum, but I’ve tried to stay more positive this year.

I hope you have all had a fab Mother’s Day too, filled with happy times & good memories.

Me & my wonderful Mum...many years ago!

We Survived Soft Play…

So on Friday me & the boy ventured into unchartered territory: namely Soft Play. I’d arranged to see my lovely friend Kelly & her adorable son Ashton a little while ago & this week she suggested this as a play date idea. She’d recently been there herself, so thought it would be a great way for the boys to get to know each other; let off some steam & briefly save our lounges from the usual carnage as an added bonus. Initially I was quite excited at going, it would be a brand new experience for both of us, & a safe place for my little commando crawler to explore. I’d even ‘bigged it up’ to him that morning whilst I was getting him dressed…hmmm, hindsight is a wonderful thing hey. I’d built it up in my mind that it wouldn’t be as bad as feared or had read about, (www.theunmumsymum.co.uk/surviving-soft-play.html) after all it was a weekday in term time & we were getting there as soon as it opened, so should be calm, in theory.

We arrived, negotiated the ridiculously heavy entrance door, I was juggling Benjamin, my handbag & his extensive bag of: spare clothes, finger foods, bottles, nappies, wipes, coat, gloves(?!), monkey & muzzie, you know, all the essentials! Kelly was much more prepared than me, with her compact buggy that carried everything she needed. I’m such a rookie still it seems. We duly paid our £1.50 as an ‘accompanying adult fee’ (I think it’s odd that the babies are free & yet they’re seemingly getting the most benefit from the whole ‘experience’?!) We tracked down a table to ‘camp out’ on, piling everything high up so we could actually keep an eye on our belongings whilst sat in the murky depths of the ball pool. We placed the boys on the café floor, whilst we cast aside our shoes. All of a sudden there was a shriek & a stray ball came flying out & ricocheted off of Benjamin’s head, but luckily he didn’t really realise what had happened, I should have taken it as a sign right then. I was horrified to discover how we had to enter; literally had to climb over a huge plastic block, into a mini ball pool & over another massive block to get to another completely plastic-covered ‘flat’ area all whilst carrying over a stone of wriggly, excited baby. Seriously I felt like I was on “It’s a Knockout” all whilst wearing slippery tights & a leopard print shirtdress. Even in mummahood I’ll never learn to dress appropriately it seems. We put the boys in the biggest space & hoped for the best. Benjamin didn’t quite know what he was supposed to do; there was nothing in the space except more plastic cubes & he found himself sliding all over the show, just as his Mumma had to get into this surreal slippery soft play circle of hell. Imagine a slightly chubby Bambi on ice if you will, well for both of us really when I think back to it! We enjoyed this space for a few minutes before some preschoolers entered & our hearts sank. It seems that the etiquette for older children is for their parents to abandon them upon entry, allow them to free-range it until an accident occurs, or another parent has to step in to ‘break things up’ & then they have to reluctantly intervene. Kelly & I ended up forming a human shield around our babies – creating a force field to fend off rogue children & plastic cubes being launched from every direction. Even one of the members of staff came over & told us that we could tell older children to move to another area if they became too boisterous. After a few stern looks, trying to locate the offender’s parent, we then decided to relocate to the comparative ‘safety’ of one of the mini ball pits. The boys were so good & patient & I love the photo below of the two of them sharing a moment amongst the chaos together. I on the other hand was trying not to think of all the bodily fluids that have probably passed over said balls & praying I didn’t find any ‘presents’ with my practically bare feet. We lasted for a whole nineteen minutes in this multi-coloured, wipe clean, seizure-inducing war zone. The boys needed food & we needed our sanity back. We crossed the one-way gated threshold, after deciding that we definitely wouldn’t be going back in & retreated to the baby swings outside in the adjacent park. Fresh air, perfect.

I’m glad we went. I think. It was just as I thought it would be, but I was genuinely disappointed that we didn’t get a badge of honour when leaving, something along the lines of “we survived soft play”. Go us! We might go back, I mean it was the best that Jamin has ‘day slept’ in a long time (probably all the adrenalin running through him?!) Then maybe next time we can be the Mummas who get to enjoy a leisurely coffee; all while our little darlings cause the chaos, well maybe.