Birth Day.

Ah, my Birth Day.

Even when I was little I would always feel totally, overwhelmingly emotional about my Birthday. I always carried this expectation that it would be one way, and if it dared differ in the slightest then my world would feel like it had come crashing down. That my one day for it to be all about me had been ruined.

The selfishness of that isn’t lost on me, please know that I’m not a total twat and I am well aware of how precocious and self-centred that all sounds and it’s not something I’m proud of being like as a child.

Time has moved on and I’m no longer wearing puffball 80’s party dresses (except on very special occasions) and I would like to think I have a flash of clarity and understanding that, shocker, the whole world doesn’t revolve around me.

I think that there comes a point, especially when you’ve had children that you can see the beauty in small things, the delight in the quiet and the unexpected and today, on my birthday, all I wanted to do was go to a coffee shop, write for a bit, buy myself some knickers that make me feel nice and eat some cake. (I also wanted to see Taron Egerton in the new Elton John film but that felt like too may brilliant things in one day so I think I’ll extend the celebrations to the weekend. Yes, I like listening to metal music and Elton John and that’s Ok.)

It’s got me thinking about why I would freak out so much around my Birthday. I think it’s in some part to do with that feeling of reflection and mentally ticking off what I’ve achieved in the last year and it has to do with that other mental checklist we carry around of ‘I still want to/ buy/ be/ travel to/ achieve…’ and that’s the one that has tripped me up the most over the years.

When I was little I was desperate to own a pony, not in the fad or hobby sense but the waking and sleeping, obsessive, training like a jockey and up at the stables every day before school type desperation. Each year that passed, I still didn’t own my own pony. I had put aside the fact that I had been lucky enough to get lots of free rides on excellent horses, trained to teach younger riders and taken away on holidays to ride horses on cold windy beaches. All amazing things, all not good enough because I wanted my own horse. Then I got injured, quite badly, I had spinal treatment that meant wearing a brace, I started college and I discovered boys (horsey girls make that last discovery much later!) and the dream faded away and I realised that owning a horse wouldn’t have given me the freedom to travel in my gap year. Or to do a placement at a National Newspaper. Or time to appreciate that they cost money, and time, and dedication and sacrifice of nearly everything else in your life.

The next big thing to tick off the lift list was to write. I had to get my big break in writing and I had to do it straight out of uni. A journalism degree in hand and an enthusiasm to write for pennies if it meant getting published, I scoured the ads, emailed desperate requests for work experience and tried getting contacts who could offer me a break. And when my temporary job started to feel more permanent, and the emails being sent lessened I realised that the writing dream was stalling and the day job that paid the bills was now my priority. As that Birthday came around I was no longer calling myself a writer, I was working in the Public Sector and working for the greater good for lesser money than I’d imagined.

By 23 I wanted to be living in Paris. I’d spent my life dreaming of the day I would up sticks and move to the land of bohemian arts, dirty Euro Pop and decent café crème and I had the opportunity to work there for a few months on a job trial. But that Birthday was shared with a boyfriend who didn’t think that fitted with his plans. That it wasn’t what was in out future and so I declined because I was silly enough to give up on a dream for a boy, and I’m still kicking myself a little at that decision. (The job and the boy, for clarity.)

More recently in the last few years the big ticket item was babies. I wanted a baby desperately, thought I’d done everything to prepare myself, had a partner, bought a house, got married, was patient, and patient and with every birthday that passed I felt like I was hanging on to the last nugget of patience I had. Everyone around me was pregnant or a new Mum and it felt incredibly unfair.

And this year it’s properly struck me that with every birthday I’d cry and I’d whine and as an adult I’d mourn turning another year older and I had totally missed all those bloody wonderful, unplanned and unexpected things that had happened throughout the year.

I didn’t get a pony but I did meet some amazing horsey friends, learned confidence, resilience and bravery whilst flinging myself over jumps so high that I had no business trying to jump!

I hadn’t got the writing job but I’d also just come out the other side of a messy parental divorce, a break up and a loss of someone in a very short space of time and writers block had been medicated with some of the best nights out I’ve ever had. We called it the summer of love and it was. I loved my amazing friends, loved travelling Europe with my best buddy and returning to the security of a job that had real career prospects.

Babies. I wont pretend it was easy, or that IVF and fertility treatments were all fun and games but we laughed through it, we came out the other side stronger than we’d ever been, we saw vulnerable sides of each other and we could be there for each other through some of the darkest times using every single one of those marriage vows to pull us through. And at the end of it, we had our baby, the one meant for us, with his perfect (month early) timing, he entered our world as he was meant to.

Messy, unexpected and imperfectly perfect.

And that’s just what birthdays are going to be for me from now on. And I am totally happy with that.

Happy Birthday fellow Taureans! May your day be as lazy as you like, the cake to be as glutenous as you prefer and for the other signs to recognise we may be stubborn as hell but the most loyal you will find.

 

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‘I wish I loved anything as much as my kid loves bubbles’ – big feelings for little people

You’ve got to be a proper scrooge I think to not have at least half a smile when you see a small person with bubbles or a balloon.

It’s like they’re seeing magic for the first time and everything they thought they new about the world in the short time they’ve been in it has changed. Like anything is possible and they might literally explode because they’re that excited.

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were laughing about how intense everything felt when we were teenagers. Missing a party because you were grounded, not getting a reply on MSN from that boy you were obsessed with even though he’s showing as ‘online’, or worse, falling out with your best friend and your whole world turning upside down even if it only lasted about 2 lessons before you made up again. It was all sooo intense I felt like I was living in an episode of Dawson’s creek minus the smug, professor level language.

I think it’s experiencing love and loss and excitement for things for the first time that it’s so overwhelming you think your heart might explode (or break, literally into 1000 pieces). I used to feel excitement that literally made my body fizz and meant I couldn’t hear a word most of my teachers were saying I was just desperate to get out of lessons and chat to my friends.

It’s so intense it feels like you’ll never be that excited or happy again when in fact, the next time is literally just around the corner. You feel things so deeply and with such raw, innocent emotion and because you’ve probably not seen things from a mature point of view you experience life without any of the cynicism or negativity that comes with being an adult. You feel like there’s not another person on the planet that’s ever felt the way you do, love someone as much or hurt as bad and only a blink 182 song can sum up what you’re going through.

That rollercoaster of emotions is what I’m starting see in K now that he’s a toddler (minus the brutal teen breakuos obv) and I want to just bottle up all these emotions for him so he gets to experience them all over again when he’s older.

He loves things hard; us, the cat, his family (especially his grandparents), food and giggling and footballs more than us I sometimes think.

He laughs and (happy) screams like it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen and cries so hard i worry that his little heart can’t take it. But I know it’s all part of getting older and I love seeing how he expresses his emotions and let’s us know what he’s thinking even if he can’t tell us yet. It’s dramatic and hilarious and over the top but it’s as if his body is too little for these big feelings he’s now feeling.

He’s brave and reckless and when he falls or bumps himself I see him upset but there’s a look in his eye which I know means he’ll go back and do the same thing again.

And as per the title of this post (respectfully sort of stolen from ‘knocked up’) when he sees bubbles I look at him and I can’t belive I made him. That I had someone so happy and silly and loud and beautiful that can see something so simple and believe that it is magic. ‘Bubble’ was one of his first proper words. It’s his favourite game and his happy place. Every time he sees them flying up in the air he stares open mouthed looking around and on the rare occasions he manages to touch one he is literally beside himself with joy.

I can remember getting older and starting to feel irritated by Disney plotlines that I’d once memorised and spent hours rewinding on video and making my brother watch with me. They seem ridiculous now, and I see flaws in the characters that weren’t there before. And I know it’s because being an adult has made me wary and cynical and practical and my adult brain tells me that things rarely work out that well.

But for my little hurricane, the way his face literally lit up when he saw the characters spinning around in the Greatest Showman I could see he genuinely believes in magic, they were real to him and he was frozen taking in every move and note. I hope that feeling stays with him for as long as possible. When I’m blowing bubbles in the garden for the 3rd time that day and he’s squealing and shouting I feel like I’m little again too and there’s magic in the air. He is my tonic to the grown up world and we may sound silly and whimsical and infact this whole post is not who I’ve been for the last year but he’s changed me and made me see things through his eyes and it’s a very happy place to be.

P.M.A – Positive Mumming Ahead..

I posted on Insta stories this week about how after over a year of feeling like I was stuck in this anxious, stressed and overwhelmed rut that I’d found some really positive and real ways to turn it around.

When I feel at my most anxious my thoughts have already done a runner and have reached the worst conclusion so now, with the help of a trained therapist and a lot of reading up on CBT and trains of thought I’m making a real effort to stop and think about things  and how I respond and react to them.

Its not been easy, as anyone with PND, anxiety or PTSD will know but it can and does make a huge diff if you can crack it. At least it has for me thank goodness. I know I can feel overwhelmed and that often there are really simple things I need to tick off just to stop myself laying I  bed wide awake panicking about when I’ll do them.

I’ve started the Do It Like A Mother Mothering Mindset Course and it’s be a  a total game changer. I stop and breath and think and consider and sometimes now, very occasionally, can laugh when it seems like everything has gone wrong before I’ve even left the house in the morning.

I’ve had  following The Organised Mum method online and despite the first few weeks of de-cluttering being soul destroying I’m pleased to say I feel a little bit more of a tidyer person.

I’ve started to look at how I use social media, who I follow, what I get involved in and how I let it affect me and if it doesn’t feel like it’s adding value or it’s making me feel crappy then I just close it down.

One of the best things I’ve found is go keep using a bullet journal. I know there was a craze when everyone seemed to be doing this but I’ve picked it back up, noted down a few thoughts everyday and tried to leave it on the page. Theres a few gratitude, joy type journals which I’m a total sucker for you. They really help to force me to think through things and see that they’re actually not so bad.

I’ve always rolled my eyes at the suggested that exercise could actually make me feel better because when you’re anxious or extremely down you’re also probably really tired and the last thing you want to do is work out. I still have days where I’m so tired I could cry but I know I feel a rush or something good when I’ve done some exercise, even if it’s a long walk with the buggy. (I’m not going to start beating myself up if I miss a week or two though).

Finally I think the biggest thing I’ve tried to do is see the positives in every day as well as letting the shit go. There’s no one who could critique my parenting skills more than I do and I know that I’m only doing my best and my boy is smiling most of the time so I consider that as we’re doing fine.

Positive Mental Attitude for Positive Mumming Ahead.

Going out alone with the baby blues and baby

Whilst I was pregnant I dreamed of the days when the baby arrived and I’d wheel them around in my beautiful new pram to get coffee, meet friends for lunch and go to buggy workout classes, making the most of every day of my maternity leave.

What I couldn’t plan for was my emergency c-section, for my baby to be rushed back into hospital at 5 days old and to be anaemic as well as dealing with the beginning of the baby blues.

It’s so easy to look at beautiful Instagram pictures of new mums doing all those things with a smile on their faces but that’s not the real story for most new mums and I’ve found from speaking to other people that’s very very normal.

Our baby was so very wanted and meticulously planned for (another post for another time) and it made me worry why I didn’t to rush out here, there and everywhere with my new bundle of joy as the days ticked by.

My husband was lucky enough to have 2 weeks of paternity leave and after lots of encouragement I finally agreed to venture out into town for a coffee when K was about 10 days old. I insisted on staying in the car as the car ride was still really painful on my scar and that was it for another few days. I got straight back into my pyjamas, opened the door to friends whilst apologising for my appearance and even re-scheduled registering the baby until a later date because I just couldn’t face it.

Motherhood was tough, exhausting, scary and I felt totally out of my depth and not like those smiling, glossy new mums staring back at me from social media.

I’d been speaking to friends about feeling low, asking about their recoveries and whether they had felt like they just didn’t want to go out and do anything and lots of them assured me they had felt overwhelmed as well but the longer I left it the more I was panicking. My husband went back to work, my mum was now visiting a couple of times a week rather than every day and I’d still not gone out by myself.

Nearly 3 weeks after my son was born I had a really difficult visit from my health visitor. We’d had feeding issues, I was still feeling weak and wobbly from anaemia and was showing more signs of the baby blues and I could tell she was starting to worry about me.

She asked a lactation consultant to come and visit me and then said I should go and see her at the clinic that week to get K weighed again. She wouldn’t be coming to me, I’d have to go to her. I still remember feeling a lump in my throat as she said it; I felt like she was punishing me and just adding to my upset.

Thursday came and I had spent the morning faffing, packing and re-packing the bag and even google mapping where I needed to go and how long it would take despite it being minutes from home. I had no clothes that properly fit my bump less body so ended up wearing wintery maternity clothes despite it being roasting hot outside.

After the slowest walk imaginable I finally arrived at the children’s centre tired and feeling another wobble coming on. I was greeted by a smiley family worker who showed me a seat and took my bag whilst I struggled with the car seat.

As I filled in my baby’s details I felt my first mum win. I’d actually done it, just me and my baby, we’d got to our appointment safely and I felt like a real Mother. I didn’t even mind when he peed all over our health visitor on the scales because she seemed so pleased that we’d made it there as well!

It might seem like such a small thing to other people but to me it was huge. I know tough love won’t work in everyone’s case but for me that day gave me so much confidence in my abilities as a new mum. I was sore, shattered and sweaty (I mean really, really sweaty) but I had taken him out by myself and we had started making memories together; many of them still including unexpected peeing and I wouldn’t change it!