When Does It Get Easier? Life With Babies and Toddlers

I remember meeting a friend with her older baby before I had children and her telling me that she read that it was okay to not enjoy your baby’s first year, and that many parents didn’t. It seemed a bit odd to me, not to enjoy a baby if you had wanted to have one, but she seemed validated by this.

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I met her again when Sandy was an older baby and I remembered she had said it and that now understood. That it didn’t mean that there weren’t enjoyable parts, but that on the whole it was hard and a lot of it was downright miserable (sleeplessness, teething, crying and the rest). I asked her when she thought it had gotten easier with her daughter (who was at that point four) and she said “hmmm… probably about two and a half, when she could communicate well”. Again I was shocked. Sitting there with a six month old Sandy thinking I still had TWO LONG YEARS to wait until I was happy.

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It wasn’t quite like that though. Sandy is now not long turned two and a half and I can assert with vigour that in the past two years he has made me ridiculously happy, and that it did get easier. As much as I’m not an advocate of the “this too shall pass” school of thought (/head sand dunkery) it is true that it did improve.

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I think for us it was around the eighteen month mark that things just got much more relaxed. It was after Christmas 2013, and spring was close, and Roslyn due in a few months. Sandy just started to fend for himself. We would do things together and he would enjoy them, and I would be able to get stuff done. Seriously, not having a crapload of chores constantly hanging over you helps so much. He would pass me things from the dishwasher, or help me dig the garden with his little spade, or play with the radio buttons while I hoovered the car. It made a big difference.

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Part of it though was probably circumstantial rather than development related. It was a calm period for me, physically and mentally. I was over my morning sickness, and my panic attacks had gone. It’s funny how they pick up on things, after all, in the grand scheme of things he was barely that far from literally having been part of me. It was spring too, and there was a world of opportunity to go in the garden or out for a walk, that helped too. And I had finally learned the skill of multi-tasking a child and other objectives. Learning how to get stuff done with a child in tow is a steep learning curve, which I am still mastering. All I can say is it is sooo much easier second time round. I imagine mothers of five are probably pretty much superhuman.

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And here we are at two and a half and I can see why my friend found this era revolutionary. There is independence and thought, and humour and preferences, and speech and self-sufficiency. And for us, there is a friend (Roslyn). I am so glad I had them both close together (21 months apart) because not only is it getting the miserable bits out the way with an overlap (sleeplessness, teething, crying and the rest) they get eachother. I think that helps most of all.

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Another Catch Up Post

Lucky you!

Like I mentioned before, things have been a tad hectic recently due to it being my transition month comprising the finishing stretch of my phd full draft and the job hunt for when my funding runs out at the end of march. All my free time has been going to these pursuits so the blog has been a little neglected. But that’s the way with these things. Life etc. So here’s what has been going down at what Sandy now officially does call his castle recently…

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A trip to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants, narrated by Chris of Chris and Pui on Cbeebies. What a great time we had. Sandy loved doing all the actions and Roslyn could not take her eyes off the orchestra (and some of them couldn’t take their eyes off her either with all the cute clapping and waving she was doing). We got some swag after in the form of a signed Chris and Pui card and posters. Sandy was extatic to find the poster in his room and now everyday I hear “mummy! mummy! look! this way! scalwag and gold pants poo!” (Don’t ask about the poo bit)

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We’ve been to toddler athletics again which is great fun. Best of all Roslyn joins in for free (SCORE!) and last week adored the parachute.

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There has been a lot of Sandy/Babee loving going on up in here…

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We were upstairs and they were in Sandy’s room while I was gutting Stuart’s wardrobe (wife o the year, right here) and I heard her chatting so decided to take go get her and bring her next to me. As I lifted her Sandy pipes up “no, mummy, babee back here”. Later I found him on his bed as she stood against the side of it, reading his mog book to her (“look babee, mog babee”). Heart = pile of goo on the floor.

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And speaking of standing up it’s all she’s been doing. Bring on when she learns to sit back down herself so I don’t have to rescue her every 11 seconds.

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We also unearthed the 9-12 months wardrobe which is funnnnn! Looking at all the spring outfits to come. I never thought I’d say it but wow I love dressing babies.

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We met some net friends at a soft play in Edinburgh recently which was great fun. Sandy brought tractor (“tractor come to soft play too”) after not thinking my idea of leaving him to “guard the car” a very wise one. Fair dos young man.

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Despite charging £2.50 JUST TO REGISTER (wtaf??) it was a good soft play. The awesome light tunnel of selfiedom and free carousel with neenaws were highlights.

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The other thing we’ve been sorting recently is sleep. Again. Roslyn was down to one wake up a night at the end of January and self-settling for 2.5hour naps. It was BLISS. And just when she lulled us into a false sense of security she reverted back to her old wakeful ways. Sigh. It was either the teeth, or the cold which necessitated steroids from the GP and much inhaler-ing (but thank god not hospital this time) or maybe both. Anyway the night of SIX WAKE UPS demanded a bit of tough love (nothing too harsh I promise) and having passed through night two there is progress so maybe I will be back to tell of her wonderous sleepy nights again soon (I hope. Please.)

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I’m loving exercise at the moment. My classes on a Wednesday night (HIT, Pilates and Circuits) have done wonders for the belly tyres already and have helped my running. I just achieved 5k in 30 minutes for the first time ever, and most of it up blinking hills too. Quite chuffed I am.

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Sandy’s eating improvements have yielded fun family dinners which has been lovely.

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And I really feel like Sandy is in such a happy place right now, perfect little lad that he is.

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This is a gratuitous birthday suit shot of Rozzie with no narrative to accompany it…

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… and this is just because SHE’S A GIGGLESAURUS.

Surely it doesn’t get much better than that? (Check back to see if my job hunting is productive for a follow up on that!!)

The Fussy Eating Era

When Sandy was a baby and we started him on solid foods it was a great experience. Not only did it begin to allow my bottle refuser to spend more than two hours away from me, it witnessed him try and enjoy everything. Everyone commented on what a good eater he was and how nice it was to see him wolfing full portions of food. I made him my own purees and the meals. It was all very healthy and enjoyable.

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Pureed Squash, delicious…apparently

I remember distinctly thinking before I had children that I would never let them dictate an unhealthy menu. It was one of oh-so-many arrogant musings of the childless adult who has severe disdain for the masses of parents who must just be dense because they are doing it all wrong. It couldn’t possibly be that they were letting their children eat just chips at meals because that’s all the child would eat, no, they were obviously just awful parents. Ha ha ha. Oh how I laugh at my former self and my wrinkled nose at the thought of chicken nuggets.

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AVOCADO!!!

Anyway, Sandy ate everything in that glorious 6-12 month phase. I mean, I even remember him happily scoffing boiled and pureed red cabbage, for goodness sake! (For what it’s worth, if you mix that with baby rice it goes blue and makes for delightful messy face baby photos)

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Then his birthday came. He sank his face into that cake and we laughed and laughed without realising that it was practically the last time he would eat something happily and without a battle or deep suspicion for, well, another year and a half. For 18 months our boy barely ate. Well, obviously that’s not entirely true from a nutritional point of view because he was entirely healthy and, apart from a fair few low blood sugar tantrums, pretty happy in himself. But he basically survived on a diet of cow and gate my first museli, toast and strawberries for that whole time. I doubt he even ate enough protein in a month for what he should have had as a RDA in a day. Meat was non-existent in his diet and don’t even mention the V-word, because not a single legume passed his sweet little lips. Perhaps you think I exaggerate with hindsight? No, no I do not. Parent-to-be, you would not believe the tenacity of these little souls! The stubbornness that enables them to literally starve themselves and cry with hunger for hours in the face of anything you offer them, only to be ended if you give in and let them eat butter out of the tub with a spoon.

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For Sandy, I’m fairly sure food because a control issue. If it hadn’t been food it would have been something else. Other children become incredibly picky about what they wear for example. Well I believe Sandy was growing up, and seeing a world in which he had literally no say, yet his own point of view, and nowhere to express it. And then Mummy starts shovelling something healthy into his mouth around his first birthday when he knows there are sweeter, better tasting things to be had and click suddenly he takes some control of his life in the only way he can and clamps that jaw shut.
For this whole period anything served in a bowl may as well have been turd-casserole in his eyes. We tried every finger food imaginably but unless it was bread or biscuits it was a no-no. He was so very suspicious of us. Anything we wanted him to eat was a guaranteed fail. So we tried the age old, “oh, YOU wouldn’t want THIS, it’s horrible” trick, whilst passing a plate with cheese and orange slices on to him. He was waaaay to wise for that, he saw right through it. Around 18 months old I got inventive. I cut bananas into the shape of little people, and apples into stars, and he looked at it and smiled. “Mummy! Star! Man!” I smiled too, “Yes! You try one! Eat the star! Eat the man!” “NO!” .

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Eating nothing but bread at his second Christmas dinner

Of course there were times he did eat something vaguely healthy. At my Mums for example. Or my mother-in-laws. Or with my Dad. Or basically anywhere except at home. So he would scarf down a full portion of chicken supreme, or a Heinz jar, or three of Granda’s saugsages, and them come home filled for several days, full of energy from a proper meal, energy to be used to resist every piece of sustenance that we could provide him with. Very occasionally, hunger got the better of him and he would eat something here. He would latch onto something he found in the cupboard, or on our plate, and eat the whole thing and I would rejoice. “He ate! He ate! Quick! To Asda! Buy every single babybel they have! We’ve cracked it” Of course these items were immediately shunned and the logic of “but you loved it yesterday” scorned as more toast was rolled out. I think for this year and a half he pretty much survived by filling up at relatives houses and tided himself over on toast until the next time he could let his guard down. Oh, yeah, and he’d guzzle bottle after bottle of milk allllll night long too. That was another perk.

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Out and about, eating….bread

Ok, so I paint a bleak picture. Maybe you think this is an extreme case and ok Sandy is quite a strong willed child, but as much as I got so down-heartened seeing other children his age tucking into lasagne and filled sandwiches and bloody vegetable sticks, I know that even from my circle of friends we were not alone. Fussy eating a la Sandy was common and just as extreme and I took solace in that. And suddenly all the parents joyously watching their littles tucking into plates of chips and tomato sauce in restaurants made sense, because last summer I was that same parent, instagramming a picture of sandy in ad-lib with a fist full of fries and a ketchup moustache captioning “OMG HE ACTUALLY ATE SOMETHING!!!!!”

And now for the happy turnaround. You knew it was coming, I mean, otherwise this post is just one big downer and provides no hope for anyone reading it who is going through the same. I’ve wanted to type this for so long but I’ve held off because I knew he couldn’t not eat forever, he had to improve, and he did. It was around Christmas time, when he was 28 months roughly, when he started to try a few new things. I don’t know what it was. I have suspicions that his sister’s weaning helped – seeing her trying things. I also think the constructive eating digger shaped cutlery and plates with the snowman (his obsession) on were positive. Perhaps giving him his own big boy seat at the table was useful too. But to be honest – and I know this is so not what anyone wants to hear – I think the main thing that aided it was time. Time and patience. That is to say, he came to it on his own terms, which further backs up my belief that it was a control issue. It started with those chips, and though he failed to repeat the performance the next day, he did start to try things more. He sat at the table with us – having chosen to join us, not having been placed there – and he played with the food we offered. He licked it and declined it and we said “good try” and brought his toast. And gradually – oh so gradually – he began to actually ingest it. He became attracted to certain concepts. Dipping, for example, and sauce became a regular feature of his meals. Pasta and sauce where he squirts it from the bottle himself. Square sausage in a roll, because Pa gets it at the café. His breakfast heated in the microwave, where he can press the buttons to “make the numbers dance”.

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Eating his burger and chips

I now have a son who eats. Not the way I would ideally want, but I feel that will come… that adventurousness. He eats a more balanced diet and I enjoy making his little lunches to send him off to his Gran’s with. He isn’t suspicious and we accept when he declines. Last night we were at Frankie and Benny’s and I was so happy to see him eating his burger and bun and chips and marvel at the big dent he made in the meal. So we are ordering from the Kids menu right enough – much to the disdain of my former self – but it’s a good thing. I feel like an idiot for not realising all those awful parents in my past were just clinging on for bare life. There was light at the end of the tunnel and there is so much more to come for my boy. All I can advocate is time, patience, understanding and never forcing the issue, and hopefully the issue will resolve itself in the end.

Happy V-Day!

Hope you all had a LOVEly Valentine’s Day. We had a little festive moment in the morning with Sandy and Roslyn.

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Sandy is quite into shapes at the moment and the first shape he learned was “love you heart” so he was pretty taken with the balloons and chocolates on the go.

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Not to mention the bubbles.

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Roslyn has just gotten to the stage of finding bubbles absolutely hilarious…

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LOOK at that little face!! <3

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The heart balloons quickly became weapons.

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And poor Daddy took the brunt of Sandy’s pent up overnight energy…

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In this one Rozzie is aware of impending balloon doom while Stuart is not.

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We got them both a card and gift.

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I went all practical and got them new lunch bags… an owl one for Roslyn and a Robot one for Sandy. But I might have seen a wooden magnetic spaceship in paperchase and got it for Sandy too.

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After a chilled day Stuart and I had our first night out together since Roslyn was born ( !!! )

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Here we are all dressed up. My parents babysat the kiddos, putting them to bed and all. In return I made them lasagne and cookies. A fair-ish deal I think!

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Gratuitous Daddy with cute baby in KILT picture for you.

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We went to a valentines ceilidh where we celebrated a friend’s birthday, watched participative bollywood dancing and got asthma attacks from dancing too much. Ok, so only Stuart did the last one, but it wasn’t a bad un ;)

I’m looking forward to more nights out just me and Stuart. The different setting negated the propensity we have to just launch into baby chat. In fact, until my mum text stuart to say the kids were down I barely even thought of them. Perhaps I should feel worried that I didn’t but I think it’s easier on the conscience if I just say I was so at ease becuase of the top notch baby sitters we had! And we will have more soon when stuart’s parents let us have another night out in weeks to come.

As much as I was tempted to blow off the ceilidh and just go somewhere and sleep (especially after the week we’ve had) it was great fun and well worth it.

A proper catch up post will come as soon as I find the time (which is severely lacking due a combination of incessent job hunting, the final few weeks before submission of a full draft of my thesis and just general fun and games with the littleys) so here is a quick preview:

– two little teeth
– a job interview
– toddler athletics
– giant metal horse heads
– aaaand thomas the tank engine episodes on a loop

ciao!

The Problem With ‘This Too Shall Pass’

‘This too shall pass’ has become one of the cornerstones of parenting mantradom. Ask for advice or express concern about anything your child is doing or not doing and you are bound to be told that it’s a phase and that it will pass. Your child is screaming all day? This too shall pass. Won’t eat anything except butter out the tub? This too shall pass. Keeps on getting ill with one bug running into the next? This too shall pass.

It’s supposed to be a supportive encouragement to give you the strength to keep going until the unpleasantness ends, and when people say it I have no doubt that they are trying to be helpful. But in many circumstances, ‘this too shall pass’ is actually quite demoralising.

An example: Your baby won’t sleep. It’s been 6 or 8 or 18 months and they still wake up every two hours at least in the night, and naps longer than 20 minutes are nonexistent. You feel like your very soul has been worn away with the patience and resilience required every single night to be constantly woken and spend hours soothing and rocking and cajoling. You creep out of rooms and fall asleep sitting up and scream with rage when you head hits the pillow and the crying starts again. It’s really, really hard. You are at that stage where it is so difficult to cope that you begin to worry that you are actually depressed.

You then express this disappointment to someone. Maybe its a family member, or your friend, or the woman at the checkout who asks if you have a good baby. You tell them that you are knackered and they don’t sleep. That you’ve tried everything and nothing worked. That you know people with ones that have slept through from six weeks and that it just seems horribly, horribly unfair…

‘This too shall pass’

It’s like banging your head against a wall.

I mean, deep down you know that they mean it well but they may as well have told you: ‘suck it up’ or ‘tough s**t’
This too shall pass doesn’t give any practical or emotional help. It just reiterates that you are well and truly trapped. And also, you do know it will pass. You know that they will be lazy teenagers and you will be struggling to get them out of bed for school one day, but you know what? Right now that seems like a long way away. Because it is.

This too shall pass is okay for, say, their routine vaccinations. No it’s not nice to have to see them cry, but it will pass. And it’s fine for that phase of blowing raspberries with the spoon of food at their lips. That will pass. But when it comes to something as life altering as having no more than two hours of consecutive sleep for a year? This too will pass is like a smack in the face. I mean, they’d never say ‘don’t worry, they will sleep in a couple of years’ time’ and expect you to take solace in that.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes for something to pass, if it’s hard it’s hard, and even if it goes away eventually it doesn’t change the fact that the very act of going through it is horrible, and wearing, and sometimes traumatic.

So I’m going to try hard never to tell someone that it will pass, or that something is a phase that needs waited out. The chances are I’d have been told because they are struggling with it, and if I don’t have any direct advice or solutions, I will try offering practical help in another way. Get them some time to themselves, or a cup of tea, or a night out. And at the very least I will commiserate, tell them you can see it is hard and agree it’s unfair and let them feel crap because it probably is. And I will never, ever, EVER tell them about how I never dealt with that particular problem, because that would be the worst thing to hear of all.

More Growing Up

Would you believe it, my children seem to have grown more again!? I mean, just check out this boy…

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He’s practically a man.

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And apparently I’m still a child.

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And our little Rozziebear?

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Well she’s only gone and got herself a tooth!

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And this boy is just hilarious and is imagination is something else. On the way home in the car this morning he had a tractor (well, digger, but potato potahto) and he said it was digging. I look round, “oh it’s digging your trousers!” He looked up from pushing the plough bit along the leg of his rumpled jeans “No no, NOO WAY Mummy!” He laughed “no digging the TROWSIRS! Nooo wayyy!” “Oh” I replied, “So what is it digging?” The answer? “My trousers”

He didn’t get why Stuart and I found that so funny.

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Roslyn has also finally mastered a crawl, it’s still mostly commando style but it gets her about fine.

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She doesn’t tend to use it unless she REALLY wants something though, which makes sense as army crawling is hard work.

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She is up on her hunkers though doing all the crazy downward dog stuff they do before mastering the arm coordination for a proper crawl though, so chances are it wont be long.

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Sandy has been taking a keen interest in music lately. His favourite song remains Walk of Life by Dire Straits (yes, it’s still on blinking repeat for full car journeys) but since Stuart got a record player he has found prog rock. We got to him early!

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He has loved watching the record player spin and the picture on a specific one go round. It’s the Charisma label image of a man singing and he asks for the man who goes “aaaahhhhh!” Then he goes “aaahhhhh” too.

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The record is Genesis – Foxtrot, and he loves the first song and asks for “water of a skies” (aka watcher of the skies) and sings along to it.

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There is a prolonged guitar note at the end which he sings, and he appears to have gained Stuart’s musical abilities, not mine, thank god. The note goes “aaaaaaaaaa”…

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…then “ooooooooooooooo”.

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Meanwhile Roslyn masters her clapping on command…

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… and works on her waving…

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And as you can see she is standing up, and can pull herself up to standing too! Hooray! I wonder if she will walk sooner than Sandy did out of necessity?

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They are both perfect the moment (and I am sniggering at the irony of this while I sit here listening to Stuart presuading Roslyn to go back to sleep even though we have to leave in 15 minutes. Meanwhile Sandy is snoozing peacefully having faffed about for the first hour of nap time so that’s going to be fun to wake him prematurely). Sandy is a joy to be around and Roslyn is becoming more content playing and actually bloody sleeping, it’s a flipping miracle!

Good times, and more to come I hope! Apologies all the blogs are so bitty at the moment (see previous post) I will have time to work on something cohesive again soon!

Oh and a happy 2.5 years today to my boy! :)

It Snowed Again

More snow. Why couldn’t it do this in December? It would have been ultra-festive! I suppose I should just be glad we get some though.

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Sandy had a blast in the snow again and is now a master snowman builder.

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Here he is “smiling” for the camera with his snowdog.

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Roslyn stayed in with Tate this time, seeing as last time she wasn’t particularly enamoured by the snow. She had fun watching her brother play though.

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Snowman love.

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And still eating ice.

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Stuart taught him to throw snowballs so he spent a lot of his time outside whacking them onto the glass in front of Rozzie.

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Love my boy.

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A pretty good snowman if I do say so myself. Sandy tends to enjoy making the body then bores as I make a happy face with matching coloured stones and such.

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The snowdog wasn’t as good as last time due to the weirdness of the snow. When we went out early in the morning it was powdery and too hard to work with. When we got home the sun had been out and it had melted a little and was perfect, so we made the snowman with ease. I decorated him then went to make the snowdog and it was powdery again… seriously? Bizarre. So that’s why the snowdog is a little lumpy!

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“Sandy foot print. Cat foot print”

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Merry snow everyone!

Hospitalization (Round Two) and the Future

Apologies for the radio silence, but as you may have gathered from the title we’ve been in the wars again. A week and a half ago Roslyn got a minor cold. Sandy got it too and it was literally just a runny nose for him, but it went straight to Roslyn’s chest, as I later learned is common following a rough bout of bronchiolitis (which she had at the end of November). The other reason I could tell she wasn’t right was that she slept all night with only one wake up. Stuart was delighted and remarked that she was probably coming down with something. Too right.

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So this happened. Again.

We got her up in the morning and as soon as I picked her out her cot I could feel the effort she was exerting to breathe. I took her downstairs and went to feed her and she refused, another warning sign, though not as scary as last time as she had fed well all day and the night prior. Then I undressed her and saw a chest recession the size of a golf ball and it was on the phone to 111 who sent an ambulance. Sandy was pretty jealous of mummy going in the neenaw. Roslyn got some oxygen in the ambulance and was coping okay until we got to a&e and a million nurses descended in an unfamiliar room and tried to put IVs and tubes all over her and (quite rightly) she freaked out. You could see the abject terror in her eyes and her breathing worsened. The pediatric doctor arrived just as she was starting to turn a tinge blue and ordered space and quiet for her immediately. We moved her to the recus room and she got a nebuliser mask with the kind of drugs you get in inhalers. It wasn’t long until she was breathing a lot easier thankfully. Apparently it was a scary time but I don’t feel that scared looking back. Perhaps it was the calmness of the pediatric doctor or maybe it was the same mode I went into when Sandy went missing briefly in the park that time, where you know getting scared isn’t going to benefit anyone and just focus on the task in hand. Either way, I’m glad it wasn’t too traumatic. Luckily I was prepared for the inevitable hospital stay that followed, but glad she bounced back much quicker (largely due to it being post viral induced wheeze and not the horrible RSV bug) and we were only in two nights this time.

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Sandy coped far better this time too, mostly because he was well this time and also because we maintained his routine, consistency and I was at home more, letting family and Stuart watch Roslyn while I spent time with Sandy (and, realistically, the housework). We went to macdonalds for a treat on the afternoon I was with him and then to the hospital where I fed Roslyn while he played with the toy spaceship on the ward. I marveled at just how easy looking after only one child is!

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I was able to put Sandy to bed then Stuart came home and I went back to hospital. Roslyn was largely unsettled at night waking due to the noise and the disruption of the oxygen prongs up her nose. She wasn’t able to sleep on her front which didn’t help any either. I gave up trying to sleep between the 30 minutes where she did and ended up just reading for my PhD.

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After her first night she was much more herself and as she woke after the second night she ate her breakfast and played and generally proved she was ready to go home.

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So we got sent off with an inhaler and the happy feeling of a sleep in my own bed that was impending. That said there was still that familiar safety of the ward at night, the feeling of other people all going through the same and never being the only one up. It was coupled with the few nurses who remembered us and I felt quite surprised and warmed by it, that they cared to know us even though we were but a passing group of many surrounding sick babies in winter.

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So that accounts for some missed blogging. The rest of it comes under either job hunting or PhD completing, as well of course as being with these beauties.

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I’m in the home stretch now. As January comes to a close I’ve had the sudden realisation that not only do I need to finish a 100,000 thesis now, but that my funding runs out at the end of march, meaning I have two short months to find employment. I have applied for one job and I am applying for several more this afternoon. I am trying so hard to find something where I can afford to work part-time, so I can still be with Sandy and specifically Roslyn (who is very much a mummy’s girl and facing my working far younger than Sandy) on at least one day of the working week. I have the problem of not knowing how much of a salary to be shooting for, what is a PhD worth in this job market? It’s hard to tell.

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As for the PhD itself I have one chapter left to finish before only my introductory chapter and conclusion remain. This week will see the completion of that remaining chapter come hell or high water and then it’s some reading and onto the intro. I hope to have a full draft submitted by the end of February with then a month to review and format the final thing. I highly doubt it will be that seamless (though I hasten to add not through my own lack of timekeeping) but having the work done for when I hope to be starting a new job would be ideal. And thus closes my essay of why I’ve not been blogging.

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In other news little miss Rozzie has cut her first tooth, it poking through rather anti-climatically amid the hospital stay. She’s not been too bothered by it and a little ibuprofen here and there has helped. I’m surprised because Sandy’s first tooth didn’t come until he was 11 months old, and it was a top one, but Roslyn’s bottom left (her left) is there at the end of her eighth month. Speaking of months, she is almost nine months, which means she will soon have been out longer than she was in, which is quite a milestone, one I can’t believe has happened so fast. *Insert other growing up cliches here*

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On the 2nd of February our little man will be 2.5 years old. We celebrated 18 months yet it seems a bit weird to celebrate 30 months, but we will nonetheless. He’s such a boy now it’s untrue. I look at our canvas on the wall of him when Roslyn was brand new and his arms are still chubby and his face is still baby. Then I look at him now and he is lean and wise and grown. I can’t quite understand what happened but I love it. He makes me ridiculously happy each day with his love, humour and excitement.

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Apart from that we are enjoying once again settling back into normality with play…

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…routines…

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…fun…

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…and cuddles.

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I’m trying so hard to soak up every moment with them now, knowing the clock is ticking on my stay at home mum status. I wish so hard that I could just stay with them forever. It’s two and a half years since I became a mum and part of me doesn’t want to go back to being just me. But on the other hand I know nothing lasts forever and even if I feel it is a tad premature for Roslyn, there is independence there and I need to find some myself. I’m grateful to have made it this far with my study but so relieved that once I have completed the PhD it will be done and I can put a lid on this era of my life. A PhD and two kids is anything but easy, but I never expected it to be. I’m glad to be leaving research behind me and moving onto something new, and challenging, though I will undoubtedly mourn the loss of being with my babies every single day.

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I’m so grateful for the summer we had, our trips, the fun, the three of us. And for the winter with its snow, cosy times at home and a wonderful christmas.

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And as this weekend past proved it’s not the end of everything. There is still the weekend and much fun to be had. The prospect of holidays and days away.

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I can’t wait.

Snowman and Snowdog

It snowed last night!

This morning there was a white covering. Stuart left for work and when Pa came to get Sandy it started snowing again. Roslyn and I went to leave for University and I couldn’t get the car out of the estate. Actually, I could barely even get it out of the drive, so I abandoned it between two neighbours houses and declared a snow day.

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When Sandy got back before his nap (after I summoned him, half lest it get heavier and half to play in the white stuff with him!) we headed to the garden.

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Sandy requested a “meman and snowgog” so we made that happen.

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The snow was that perfect ball-rolling consistency I used to get so excited about when young.

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I think they look pretty snazzy if I do say so myself!

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And Sandy rolled the snowman’s head all by himself.

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Roslyn was inside with Pa but came out for a brief time to enjoy the snow.

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I hope you are enjoying it if you have any :)

I’ve Become One of ‘Those’ Parents…

It dawned on me as I we hit the third circuit. Standing over the weights, about to do a clean and press, and I pipe up to my Mum next to me, “oh, Sandy would get a kick out of seeing this”. And I realised it was about the fifteenth time I had managed to obscurely relate the circuit training class to Sandy and Roslyn in some way and I’d barely been there an hour. Last Wednesday was the first time I’d been away from Roslyn beyond 5pm since her birth eight months ago. A rare car journey not spent trying to become disjointed passing snacks back to newly installed rear facing car seats. I needed not to turn on the lights inside so Sandy could read Stickman and Walk of Life wasn’t on its seventh play. I didn’t need to concern myself with sneaky and inopportune naps. But as soon as I walked into the gym and a bunch of faces looked at me and a girl on a bike stopped cycling I reverted back to safe ground and I didn’t leave it. Roslyn wasn’t down yet, you know, and I kept checking that phone. You know what Sandy said this morning? It was so cute! Oh and Roslyn’s just learned something new. Check the phone. That weight is one of Sandy’s favourite colours. How cool would it be if Sandy was using this punching bag? Roslyn would love to crawl over here. And so I went on, unware until I started that clean and press for the third time and it was hurting now and I couldn’t think about what else Sandy and Roslyn had to say about the class and I realised that yes, I’d become one of those parents.

This week saw me out of the house twice in the evening. The second time was to attend my Aunt Lib’s 50th party. A party in Glasgow, at a proper venue, where alcohol would be consumed, and there would be no little faces, and only the floor would be sticky, not all the furnishings and everyone’s hands. Where I would have to wear a dress and (very, very slight) heels and I wouldn’t need to worry about things being boob accessible and my bag could be infinitesimally small. Strange foreign lands I tell you. And I went and as soon as I was settled on a seat with my parents beside me (thinking it ironic that my first night out would be spent with the same adult company I get to see most times anyway) I was being introduced as “Sandy’s Mum” and pictures of Roslyn were doing the rounds and I was discussing her being asleep when I left and what Sandy had eaten that day and I was safe and secure. Sometimes people say that you need to retain your identity and individuality when you have small children, and they relish the chance to talk about non-baby things. I agree but I don’t do it. I’ve become more Mum than Helen and more Mum than Wife even. Stuart and I go out and lament the lack of them and everything that happens becomes a big thing that they have missed. I feel bereft when they aren’t with me. It doesn’t feel like I’ve lost a limb but it feels I’ve lost a bit of my innards. I am them now, and myself and my confidence diminishes when they are not there. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I know I will get back to myself as they grow. I’m often told that you get immersed in parenthood when they are young, and you finally emerge out the other side at some point. I’m in the depths just now and I’m okay with that. I had one of those “I’m going to miss this” moments this afternoon lying on the couch with Stuart, thinking of Roslyn’s size and Sandy’s words and my impending entrance to the job market. I honestly don’t want to be any less absorbed in my own little life right now, because I want to give it my all. I want no regrets and I never want to look back and think I should have done more. I’ve my whole life to sleep and read and drink, to stay out late and drink my tea hot; but only a few short years where I am everything to these two. So I apologise to all the attendees of the circuit training class, and all those at a party who are sick to the back teeth about discussing someone else’s kid, and to anyone in a shop who ends up hearing far too much about my life, and – of course – the poor souls subjected to mentions of the three P’s…pelvic floors, placentas and pee. I find it hard to take myself out of the bubble when I’m so much inside it. I’ve become one of those parents who are just a parent and not a real person anymore. I will be back, but for now, I’m happy as Mum, and Helen will see you in a few years; just call it an extended maternity leave of the mind.

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