On Wednesday, B’s nursery was closed for an inset day and T had to go back to work, so I took the day off and we had a little one on one time.
We went to the Museum of London Docklands where he had a great time wandering around the exhibits, and playing in the children’s area. It’s amazing to find out about the city we live in, and it’s all free!
The children’s area is fantastic with lots of interactive play areas and we didn’t do the half of it because he spent the entire allotted time in soft play!
We went next door and shared a pizza and garlic bread at Pizza Pilgrims, where they give kids some stickers to keep them occupied. He enjoyed sticking them all over the place whilst swigging water and munching garlic bread, and the staff made a fuss of him whilst mama had a cheeky rosé. He loved it!
And we went to the Crossrail gardens where he enjoyed running about and shouting “Hello!” at a bird in a tree for half an hour.
We had a wonderful day. It’s so much fun to see the world through a child’s eyes. And it was all free apart from the pizza! It was lovely to spend time together and he still had a great time playing, even though it was just the two of us most of the time.
I don’t doubt there will be times in his life where he asks why he doesn’t have a sibling and maybe even asks if we can have one. But for now, he loves his dog brother and he loves his parents, and this mama enjoyed the fact that we could spend a precious day together, just the two of us. 💕
Well, I knew that couldn’t last. We had an awesome Christmas Day at my brother’s house and I was looking forward to having some time off to catch up with friends and family – after last year when I was laid up with flu from Christmas Day onwards. This year I got the flu vaccination so I don’t have flu… but woke up this morning to B with chickenpox!
He actually seems fine other than the spots. But obviously can’t go and see people. We were due to see T’s parents today but they’re both elderly and not in great health and shouldn’t really be exposed to chickenpox if we can help it. And we were due to see T’s sister and wife on Saturday and we can’t really see them either as they have immune issues. And my best local buddy is a cancer survivor so probably best not to spend too much time with her either! Ahh.
In a way we are lucky because we don’t need to take time off work. And we can spend time with B in the house which is nice. It’s just a shame we don’t usually get this much time off and we aren’t able to catch up with friends and family.
Still – it could be worse. He was happy and healthy on Christmas Day and it was really lovely to see him half understand about why there was a railway track and ride on train running round the living room! It was very sweet. We are lucky buggers, really.
Merry Christmas Eve all! I’ve spent the day off work with my one and only, and my overwhelming feeling is gratitude. (Well, that and realising I really dislike wrapping.)
It took a while to get here. I was told I’d never have kids naturally, and after over a decade of infertility and loss, operations, IVF and immune therapy – we had our son last year.
I feel so lucky that I get to experience all this – Christmas through a child’s eyes; the beginnings of him understanding the magic of Christmas… visiting Santa… Christmas shows… trying to persuade him not to open all the presents before tomorrow… and all the matching clothes before he gets too good at talking! 😂
All of us who have “only” one child are conscious, I guess, that we will only do this stuff once. And that can feel bittersweet. He’s not yet two and I’ll never get to have a baby again. A bunch of friends are on #2 now and we’ll only ever have #1.
But once is one better than I ever thought I’d get. So I’m going to enjoy all the only times. Because we are so lucky.
I have friends who can’t have any and I still remember what that felt like. I have people close to me who’ve been fighting battles I can’t even begin to imagine. I have a friend who lost her battle this year. We never know what life will bring.
I say parents of onlies are lucky because they’ll always be our #1. And #1 is a pretty awesome position to be! We are the ones who get the time to savour it, and that’s a privilege I hope I live up to. (And I hope we still have a few years of twinning left! 😂)
Merry Christmas to you and yours! You’re all awesome! 💕
Or: Feelings when your 21 year old scribbles on the £90 “open ended play” wobbel board (my gift to him on his first birthday).
When this happens to your natural wobbel and it doesn’t come off…
– It doesn’t affect usage – it still functions perfectly as a wobbly board and slide and baby doll rocker and toy car ramp and…
– It’s one of a kind! Personalised by its owner. (Yes, the kid owns it… I don’t!)
– It will probably have more “personalisations” before the kid is done with it. And whilst it’s not encouraged, it’s okay.
The world keeps turning.
My child is healthy and happy.
I’m grateful I live in a place where we don’t have to worry about most of the things that negatively affect the world’s children today. My child isn’t living in poverty or fleeing war or suffering abuse or neglect.
I understand we buy these beautiful (and expensive) things for our children and it’s disappointing when they scribble on them, and I had a moment of, “Oh no!”
But… I was someone who was told I’d never have a child naturally, so I’m just grateful I get to have my child scribble and for that scribble to be preserved for posterity.
For the lost babies, and for the never-borns, and for the parents without children and for the never-parents with spaces in their hearts where babies should be, I dedicate this wobbel. To me it’s perfect. 🌈❤️
I’ve been meaning to write for a while about the rabbit hole that is…
(Cue spooky music, it is Halloween after all!)
Transporting a child.
Now, before I had a baby I had not given much thought to it. I assumed I would get a pram (or stroller as Americans call them, or buggy or pushchair as British people call them… so many names).
We went to the baby shows and we decided only the best for our unborn child!!!
Which was the eye-wateringly expensive Stokke Scoot. Now, almost two years on I still love Stokke. There’s some good old Scandinavian engineering there.
And the £700ish worth of pushchair has sat in our hallway for a year and a half and I estimate we have used it about 5 times.
Why? I hear you ask. (I mean, it’s such a tasteful shade of muted grey! I remember obsessing for ages about getting all the matching accessories!)
Well, we started out living in a one bedroom flat on the second floor (double height) which meant we had to walk up and down eight flights of stairs. And I had an emergency c section so I couldn’t really lift this 8kg thing in and out of the car boot very easily. And babies as it turns out are really small and very portable.
In that first shipment from the designer baby shop I thought I might as well chuck in a sling. That was mainly because it was grey with stars on, and that was kind of our motif.
First day we got back home and I went out to our local M&S food hall (because dammit mama needed soft rinded unpasteurised cheese!) and took baby B in the sling.
And it stuck.
Wore it for like three months and everyone commented how he was a dream baby, always sleeping on his mama. Because as it turns out, babies like to sleep on their mama. And I unexpectedly turned out to have one thing my defective body could actually do and that was breastfeeding. And breastfeeding is easier in a sling than a pushchair. And I live in London where everyone uses public transport and who wants to be lugging a giant pram on and off a bus or down steps and escalators to the tube?
We had months of freedom and we loved it. And my initial perception of slings as limited to hippy earth mothers turned into a slight feeling of – eek! Maybe I’m one of those!
At three-ish months he was getting a bit big and my shoulder was getting a bit sore so I decided to try a wrap. Wraps are just long pieces of material you tie to carry your baby. It’s easier as it moulds to your and your baby’s body and you can carry two shouldered, and they are super comfortable.
So I got my first wrap.
And then I discovered… high end babywearing.
Oh dear lord, if there isn’t a whole world of craziness. Turns out people will pay loads to get hold of pieces of material. And yet… they’re so pretty!
Reader, I fell down that rabbit hole.
Behold a phenomenon called “stash shot Saturday” – if you ever see #sss on social media and a pile of material, it’ll most probably be babywearing stuff.
And yet… it’s so pretty!
(Kid loves it too.)
The high end babywearing world is a completely other world. What you’re about to see is not even considered a big stash! It kind of is a bit of a phenomenon. Wrap manufactures do small releases and people have to bid for the chance to buy them. You might not even “win” an invoice! (A chance to pay hundreds for a piece of material!) People trade used wraps and they can even fetch retail or above retail prices (though the bottom has fallen out of the market in the last couple of years). It’s the only market I can think of where second hand stuff can potentially fetch what you paid for it. (I do think it’s a bit Emperor’s New Clothes at times but I only buy wraps that I can afford and that I like, so am potentially fine not getting any money back on them.)
My pretties (bottom to top):
- My first wrap, Kokadi Diorite Stars size 6 (a common base size – it means you can do most carries with it). It wasn’t “High end” which means it wasn’t expensive. But I loved it. It’s 100% cotton and I learned to wrap with it.
- Kokoro mini ren Nero 6 – my second wrap. They’re quite rare. At that point I really wanted an entirely mono stash. But as you can see, things changed!
- Omnifera Heart Rock Montmartre 4 – I was desperate for this. For ages they only had one Heart Rock pattern. It is geometric mountains and it’s really gorgeous. This was limited to the Paris babywearing show. I couldn’t go but a friend bought it for me after I PayPal-ed her the money! Crazy. Was going down the rabbit hole at this point. Haha.
- Omnifera Heart Rock Aoraki 5 – this is the same pattern but different blend for summer and is very light blue. Most wraps have an inverted colour pattern on the other side.
- Woven Wings Eeyore RS (ring sling) – once B got to walking it turns out he prefers to be in and out a lot, and up and down. So RS are easier. This is my latest RS but I arranged the stash according to manufacturer! Woven Wings are a british brand and very big in the babywearing world. Their followers are called Winglets! They get a little fanatical!
- Woven Wings London RS – My first RS and not my last. Very early release. I think it’s cool.
- Kenhuru Valentine’s Sky Wedmid RS – I absolutely love this one. I was a fan of Kenhuru from the beginning as they’ve only been going about a year. I had a tester and got the bug. I loved this one but missed the release as I didn’t have funds. Then I got it in a mystery bag (where you pay a lot less but don’t know what you’re going to get). It’s a gorgeous deep red on one side and blue on the other. My favourite colours. The geometric pattern converges to make little bear icons which are really cool.
- Kenhuru Rok Starlight RS – I got this in a mystery bag when I already had Rok Starlight which was one of Kenhuru’s first releases. It was sort of a shame to get the same blend but I ended up using the RS a lot more than the wrap.
- Kenhuru Rok Starlight 4 – My first go at a shorter wrap. It’s a great workhorse and I didn’t worry about it too much as it wasn’t as expensive as the other high end wraps, so I actually ended up using it more.
B absolutely loves being carried and it’s a huge thing for me. Super healing I guess for things I didn’t even think I needed to heal from. (Infertility… loss… but also adoption. Giving birth to a biological child as an adoptee brings up a lot of emotions.)
It’s been a fun journey. I realised I have carried him pretty much every day since he was born. The only exceptions being the time I went on a work trip for a few days, and I really missed him. It’s a great thing and I like to think that and breastfeeding is giving us a good foundation for our future relationship. (Of course he may become one of those sulky teenagers but that’s almost a given, considering what a moody cow I am!)
When we went to see my bff overseas a few months ago, we finally realised we needed an alternative to babywearing. Babywearing is amazing and wonderful but when it’s 35 degrees C it can be a touch sweaty.
B has been a stroller refuser forever but even he agreed. I got him a horrendous cheap lime green extremely distasteful cheapie from the nearest baby shop, and he tolerated it! He always screamed the place down in the very expensive Stokke and demanded to be out and held. But in the sweltering heat, he decided he preferred to have his own air circulating rather than his mother’s sweat.
So the hunt was on for a decent occasional stroller!
Now I’m kind of a crazy obsessive when it comes to traveling light. I don’t really end up doing it but I have a love for compactness and one bag travel. I’m literally obsessed with rucksacks. (You lot call them backpacks.) I buy so many of them in the search for the perfect one. So of course I wanted to find a lightweight compact stroller for traveling and when we were somewhere hot and babywearing wasn’t practical. And for public transport etc in London where massive prams are just a pain.
Reader, I found it.
Behold… the gb (goodbaby) Pockit+. This is the new improved compact foldable buggy that is slightly bigger / heavier but has better features than the original Pockit.
Pretty much everyone in London either uses the Bugaboo Bee or the Babyzen Yoyo for their lightweight stroller. Which are both £300+ prams. It just didn’t appeal to me, partly because I don’t want to pay that much for something I won’t use very often and partly because I like to kid myself that I’m different.
Anyway, it’s great. Here it is next to my handbag so you can see it folds super compact.
My handbag is a small cross body bag so if you have a big handbag you could more or less fit it in there! Although it has its own bag (which also folds down into a little wallet size, which appeals to my sense of small travel stuff).
Here it is next to the Babyzen Yoyo. It doesn’t look like it because of the angle (it was at nursery) but it’s smaller than the Yoyo when folded. The Yoyo doesn’t have a carry bag and it just looks messier to me. But it does have a much larger basket underneath. It’s heavier too but most people aren’t obsessed with saving weight.
Anyway my point is that if you are in the market for a Yoyo or a Bee then you might consider a Pockit+. It comes with a rain cover too and bizarrely the kid – who hated the Stokke – loves to ride around in it and will climb into it by himself. It’s also easily washable as you just take the material off and shove it in the wash. I’m happy with it and it’s a lot cheaper than the Yoyo which is just as well as I spent like £1000 on the initial Stokke pram, car seat and bundle! (I guess it’s time to sell the barely used Stokke.)
So there you have it, my review of transporting my kid about. Caveat: There’s no right way. It’s just what works for you and your lifestyle. I’m a lazy mama who prefers to travel light rather than weigh myself down with everything that I might possibly need. I have friends who travel like pack horses. The plus being that they usually have what we need if we ever need it! (Uppababy devotees. Couldn’t fit through a single door but on the plus side they could probably camp out at short notice if they had to!)
I also have far too many thoughts on rucksacks but those will have to wait for another post. Believe me, I know you’re on the edge of your seat just waiting to hear about those! 😂
Had one of my decompression nights last night – dinner with a few girlfriends. Three of us have one child; one has two, and the other two with one are trying for another. So naturally on mum’s night out the kids were a topic of conversation. (And bikini waxes, but that’s another story!)
We got onto the subject of “onlies” and the conversation didn’t go the way I expected…
It started the way I expected with the whole, “We want another so he won’t be on his own when we die.” (We all agreed that this probably wouldn’t happen!)
Then our friend with two said: It’s actually very hard with two. (She’s a single parent who co-parents with her ex.)
Then our friend with one said: We are actually really happy with our one, and if it doesn’t happen then we won’t be upset.
I said, we are happy and we don’t want another because we feel so very lucky with the one we have, and because I thought I’d never be a mother.
Then our friend who lost her first baby (tragically stillborn) said: We’d love to have another but we will just see what happens. It’s not the same as when we were trying to have our baby after our first died. We are happy.
Then she said something else: She said, “You know, I’ve never seen you become frustrated with him. You are so patient! I don’t think you’ve ever even raised your voice to him.”
And the funny thing is, I don’t think of myself as a patient person. I’m a hothead. But I think she’s right.
I’ve never had to shout at him. I don’t think I feel frustrated with him because – well, he’s a baby, and he can’t fully express himself and that must be frustrating for him, but also – I can’t tell you how much I wanted this.
Ten years. More than ten, depending on how you count it. A decade of barrenness. Operations, IVF, miscarriage, immune therapy. Thinking of a life where I would have to learn to be happily childfree. (And I think we would have been, but we needed to know we had tried everything first.)
I genuinely don’t feel that frustration because I think he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. And I’m lucky because a lot of good things have happened, and it almost fades the lonely and sad years of infertility and despair out of existence.
But not quite. I remember what it was like to be always the aunt, always the “fun childless friend”. I don’t take this – motherhood – for granted. I will relish all the days.
So – yes – I can be patient. But I’m not a saint. I’m just someone who knows how bloody lucky I am.
My friend sent me this article in the Times about how working mothers can’t seem to have it all. You can read it here. (You have to register but you don’t have to pay anything.)
So I’m torn between: Yes, it’s hard being a working parent and – Seriously women, get a f&*$ing grip!!!!! I think most of these women having meltdowns seem like they are probably the kind of women who get stressed at having more than one project on at work. And I think those who struggled to have a much-wanted child ultimately have a different take on parenthood than those who take it for granted.
I think the key things are:
- Have one child, not multiple children, if you think you can’t cope with more than one thing at once, or will have difficulty affording it, or it will compromise your time management. (We have one because it would be extremely difficult to have another and I never wanted more than one, precisely because I don’t want to have to divide my time between multiples!)
- Set boundaries with your work and make sure that you aren’t working late / at home every night. I used to do a lot of out of hours work and now I don’t. And I started doing that way before I had a baby. I just stopped allowing people to expect I would be online at all times. If it’s out of hours and urgent then people have to call me. I do work late / out of hours on occasion but day to day I don’t. In my old job I’d answer emails on holiday. Two jobs ago I stopped doing that. I put an out of office on and I say unless you SMS me then it’s not urgent and I’ll respond when I return, and you can expect a delayed response because I’m literally not going to check my work phone more than once a day when I’m on holiday.
I agree that school hours and working hours don’t really seem to coincide. We’ve not reached that stage yet but I imagine you have to sort out some sort of wrap around care. Also I think it makes sense for one partner (doesn’t have to be the mother) to be slightly less driven in their career. I guess women are used to being that one. But there needs to be someone who can leave work if the kid gets sick etc. I think actually men can be more penalised than women for leaving at contracted times. I think women overall have a tougher time in the workplace but they are actually expected to be the caregivers etc. Swings and roundabouts.
Since becoming a mother I’ve definitely noticed that there seem to be different “types”… A lot of the women aren’t at a particularly senior level when they leave to have kids, and they take a lot of time off, and they aren’t that into the job when they come back. It’s annoying when people make assumptions about you when you have kids – that you won’t be interested in progression – but also it’s true for a lot of women, so I dunno what the answer is.
Really I think what would be most sensible would be to reset everyone’s expectations around what constitutes a normal working day. Corporations have gotten used to workers doing about 20% – 200% of their contracted hours for the same amount of pay. That’s what needs to stop. You need to be able to work your contracted hours: 9-5 or 9-6 with a full one hour lunchbreak and for that not to be considered slacking.
I went to a talk a while back by the European VP for Twitter, who wrote a new manifesto for work. I think it’s really good (and realised I already ascribed to most of it, hurrah!).
Source: Eat Sleep Work Repeat
We all – whether mothers or not – need to stop putting up with being treated like $%£& for work, and start being happier! Easier said than done maybe, but just turning off your work phone at the weekends is a start…
After my previous post about liking B’s long hair, I caved to the pressure (and the fact that it’s so hot here and the hair at the back was bugging him) and we got B’s hair cut for the first time!
We went to our local kids’ salon which is really quite cute and totally set up for kids. However this does mean that the kids scream the place down if they don’t like it. We arrived and some kid was already doing that… We decamped to the cafe before being called back.
B was fine. He’s a generally chilled kid. He enjoyed sitting in the little car and pretending to drive it whilst an annoying lady fiddled with his hair.
The other kid on the other hand SCREAMED the place down! Was sort of funny and sort of OMG YOU ARE RUINING MY SON’S FIRST HAIRCUT! (Jk)
We did the first haircut thing where you get a certificate and a lock of hair. There wasn’t much as she didn’t cut much off! We basically just trimmed the back bit that annoys him. (We can tell as he scratches at it and has scratch marks from his nails!) And a little bit round the sides by his ears. Left the top long so he still has a side parting and can have a top knot. She wanted to trim it more but I said no!
Not sure what made me cave when I do actually like his long hair. It’s mainly that it’s really hot here right now and impractical. I have long hair and I wear it up when I’m at home (messy bun I wouldn’t go out of the house wearing it!) so I can imagine he gets hot, although his hair is just light and fluffy.
Anyway, as T said – hair grows back.
Overall he’s had a positive reaction and it isn’t too drastic so hopefully we did the right thing! I know it’s not a big deal but it seemed like quite a big thing to have his first haircut. Now it’s out of the way I can be less sentimental about it!
So there’s a lot of things I didn’t think I’d do as a mother: extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, vegetarianism and whatnot.
What I didn’t think was that I’d be the mother of a long haired little boy.
I guess I always thought it was a bit… hippy… and I don’t really see myself as the natural earth mother sort. I actually was probably a little bit <whispers> judgy about the long haired boys…
And somehow I’ve ended up with one!
It’s not really a statement about anything but more the fact that I haven’t gotten around to getting his first haircut. (He’s 18 months.) And I don’t trust his dad to do it as he’s likely to end up with a pudding bowl!
I don’t think I’d want it particularly short anyway, but I think it looks cute how it is. He tends to have it in a little topknot or “man bun” because of the hot weather. I kind of think he can get away with it because he’s “ethnic”… and mainly because he’s cute!
But a part of me thinks it’s a bit hokey and at some point I’ll get it cut. His dad wants to get it cut but also doesn’t mind the ponytails… The nursery workers tend to put it into a braid and that looks cute as well, but is out of my ability range!
The more people tell me I “must” get it cut, the more I think – why?
Why do boys have to have short hair and girls long hair?
(I have long hair but it’s less through design than the fact that I hate having my hair cut.)
I’m not one of those gender neutral dressers of kids… (Not that there’s anything wrong with it; I just find it cute and comfortable for him to wear boys’ clothes. I’m happy for him to wear what he wants when he’s of an age to choose.) I’m not trying to make him look gender neutral or like a girl.
I just think there’s nothing wrong with his hair as it is.
So we had our first hospital trip of this year!
Last night we went to a street food market that has a soft play area and trampolines for kids. Well you can imagine what happened next…
B was having a lovely time. He’s getting more and more confident now. He’s just reached 18 months and he is talking, walking (and still breastfeeding- who knew I’d be one of those?!), generally becoming a real little boy.
We were in the trampoline room and it was just us and our friends with a kid of a similar age. There’s a limit of 6 people. Then two older kids came in and started bouncing on the trampolines that the toddlers were also on. One was quite a lot older and came and jumped on B’s trampoline, and B fell over and started crying.
I picked him up and took him out and he seemed fine. We sat down for a bit and had some food. (Aside: I am in love with marinara pizza with fresh burrata…)
When we finished, I took B out of his high chair and put him back in soft play and he instantly fell over. I picked him up again and he fell again. It was like his leg was collapsing underneath him.
Suddenly I thought maybe the bigger kid had actually landed on him… It didn’t look like that, but now he couldn’t walk.
So we took a trip to A&E… on a Friday night! Alongside half the rest of London…
Luckily kids get triaged pretty quickly and sent to a kids’ waiting room. (My ex was an emergency nurse and he used to say avoid A&E at the weekends at all costs!)
We got there quite early and five and a half hours later we had experienced screaming fits of a greater magnitude than B has ever produced! He didn’t have any invasive treatment but I guess the waiting and the unfamiliar diagnostics (oxygen, temperature, x rays…) were too much for his little brain to handle. It took two of us to hold him down to be x rayed- the faces of people outside were a picture! I assume they thought someone was being murdered!
Luckily there were no broken bones although they did want to check as you can’t always tell with little kids, and they can’t tell you. They said they couldn’t see anything on the X-rays and it seemed that he was moving it okay, just not weight bearing, so was most probably a sprain.
We left the hospital at 2 in the morning. Although it was a long wait, we felt so grateful for the NHS (our national health service which is free to use, paid for in our taxes). Yes, we had to wait for 5.5 hours with a tired toddler – but he wasn’t the most seriously injured child there that night (thank goodness) and we managed to see triage nurses and a doctor, and get x-rayed, all in one night. We are lucky to have it.
As for B, he’s fine but a little sore today, and even participated enthusiastically in baby swimming class. So I think he’ll be fine.
No more trampolines for a while though!