A New Mum Without A Manual

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Manchester



I can barely even believe it, but there was a time, many moons ago, when Saturdays didn't revolve around football. When my bookshelf wasn't filled with autobiographies from Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Harry Redknapp to name but a few. In fact growing up with my single parent mum, football was pretty much non existent in our house, and the only vague memories I have of it were from  my Happy Meal toys from the World Cup France '98.
Munching on Mc Nuggets was the closest I got to supporting the cause.

 Upon meeting Stuart, I had no idea how much of a diehard football fan he was. In hindsight, the MUFC tattoo emblazoned across his stomach should have been the very first giveaway, but...  I was young, very in love (and still am, if you're reading, Stuarty boy)  and I quite happily sat in Lavery's eating my Sunday dinner underneath the widescreen, surrounded by a hundred odd United Supporters. Not quite romantic walks, Paris in Spring, but I was so happy to participate.

Over the last few years there's a few things I've learnt, some the hard way, when it comes to the sport.

  •  You'd only have to be a complete fool to ask your partner to choose between  a 'day date' with you or watching the match . They'll most likely surprise you by choosing the latter- leaving you royally, mugged off.
  •  In the words of Stuart himself  'Girlfriends, come and go, football is always there. Wives come and go, football is always there. Every man will tell you that, Sarah' ... i'll take your word for it, Stuart.
  • Don't ask 'stupid' questions, particularly at critical times through the match ( Try to refrain from commenting on players dodgy man buns, ponytails, awful tooth to gum ratio)
  • If their favourite team looses a big cup game, make no direct eye contact and whatever you do, don't give your own post match analysis 'They were crap anyway'  Swiftly remove yourself from the situation, and preferably open him a beer on your way out if you're feeling generous (which you probably won't be, after enduring 90 minutes of him screaming at the tv, laughing hysterically and wondering why they even need official commentary when the man sat beside you appears to be the real expert)
  • Laugh hysterically through Football's funniest moments (1, 2 and 3) or you'll be subjected to him asking you to  'Watch this one'  on repeat. Be a good sport, watch it once (they're all the same). Even if it's just for Chris Kamara i.e the only funny thing about it.
  • Always, always, always turn a football shirt inside out before ironing it. It's no laughing matter having to hand your partner over the  melted plastic logo off their favourite shirt. It makes a bloody big mess of the iron too.

With Stuart's 30th looming I knew I wanted to take him to Manchester to return to Old Trafford where he had last visited as a young boy. After a little bit of research I discovered that some former 'class of '92' players (Giggs, Butt, Scholes, Neville) had opened up Hotel Football, built overlooking Old Trafford. I knew there and then that a travel lodge just wouldn't cut the mustard now.
Some reasons why I loved Hotel Football?

-I had visions of it being tacky. Football memorabilia, photos on the walls... Not at all. Everything was so tastefully designed, with just subtle football hints ie: the toiletries, the menus, modern artwork on the walls. Put it this way, You don't even have to be a football supporter at all to enjoy your stay here. 



-The rain head shower. Before becoming a mum, showers used to be relaxing. Now that Eva is a toddler I can just about wash all the soap suds out of my hair before clambering out of the bathroom half naked just to press 'skip ad' on a nursery rhyme video. Having a child free weekend, I really made the very most of my time and this shower was heavenly. So much so, I was paranoid I was going to get a water charge bill when we went to check out.

-The location. Right on the doorstep of Old Trafford which was amazing for Stuart who sat by the window, glass of bourbon in hand looking emotionally over at the 'Theatre Of Dreams' while it was also in the perfect location for me only being a five minute walk from a bus stop which took us straight to the Trafford Centre which might I add was amaaazing.

-The Breakfast. Sausages, pastries, yogurt and fruit?. Delicious. 


- The staff were genuinely really lovely and couldn't have been more helpful suggesting places to eat and hooking us up with a late night Dominos after a bar crawl 'round Manchester city centre. The mini fridge with complimentary sweets was restocked every morning and the turn down team let a little packet of chocolate footballs on our pillows. It's all in those little details isn't it?

It's definitely worth checking the hotel out, especially if you are visiting during  a match day. There's an basement bar the 'Old Trafford Supporter's Club' and many match day hospitality packages to choose from. 

In all, he loved it. I loved it. And i'd go back in a heartbeat, and do it all over again. Even the Old Trafford tour which suprisingly turned out to be my favourite part of the trip. I don't know what it was, maybe all those afternoon gin's went to my head.. or whether you really have to go somewhere, emerge yourself in all it's history before you can really fully appreciate it, but I have a new found respect for football. No, I probably won't be sitting down to watch it with him, in fact i've dodged the last few matches, and you'll never witness me in a football top, but at least now I can say I 'get it'.






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Friday, 5 August 2016

Time.



For what feels like a very long time now, I have been so mentally detached from all things 'baby'. Our good ol' trusty Perfect Prep machine that served us so well, is all boxed up and collecting dust in the attic. Meticulously sterilising bottles has become a thing of the past and I can't even recall the last time I had to nip into Mothercare for anything, and my bank account is delighted about that!

 Pregnancy feels like a very vague, distant memory- more like a surreal dream if anything, and when a friend asks for advice or product recommendations for their little ones, I am dumbfounded-absolutely clueless. If it wasn't for my Blog and the baby book I wouldn't know off the top of my head when all these changes even occurred- When did she started sleeping through the night? When did a bottle every three hours turn to one a day? When did she start knowing she wanted cereal instead of pancakes?! When did it become so normal hearing her talk and telling me what she did at Nana and Grandpa's?
  More importantly, how have we even managed this far?! I can't quite believe it, though I have the eye bags, and Stuart the grey hairs to show for it.
I literally cannot believe i'm about to write these words, but even the sleepless nights seem like a distant memory now, and it's only if you know me, or have ever read my Blog will you understand the enormity of that statement. 

....and i've probably went and jinxed it.



The transition from little baby to toddler seemed to happen so suddenly, without us really even noticing.
 One day we had a little baby who was dependent on us entirely, the next we had an independent little girl who just wants to run really fast and free, has no fear (...except loud noises!) She doesn't want to come in from the garden in the evenings for dinner and has learnt the word 'NO' .. throws some pretty impressive tantrums, and only ever in public.
But oh my- we are having the very best of times. 

I loved having a newborn baby, I really did. I could have watched Eva sleeping for hours upon hours. The scent... ah that smell of a newborn alone is enough to make even the least maternal of people, broody. I absolutely love how scents can evoke a memory, and every time I open a box of Fairy non-bio, some Cusson's Mum and Me 'Bump' lotion or a packet of extra sensitive Johnstons wipes i'm immediately transported back to those early weeks, and it makes me feel all warm and cosy inside.
Staring down at those pouty lips and kissable cheeks, the teeny tiny little fingers and toes that grasp and curl. I loved the  morning feeds tucked up in  a toasty bed watching tv while she lay milk-drunk in my arms. I was very much happy  in our maternity leave bubble. The world outside seemed to carry on at a fast pace, while we took it nice and easy, and only really had to make sure that we were washed, fed and dressed. If it was raining outside, we didn't have to go out. Visitors came and went, copious amounts of coffee and cake were consumed, and it really was a lovely little set up, and I honestly really would live it all over again if I could, and if some mystery benefactor could post a couple of grand through my letterbox. 
All that cake eating is expensive.

But at the same time, I found being a mum to a new born really hard. Looking back it was probably more emotionally if anything, and it sounds kind of silly, because now I can't remember my life any other way, but I definitely mourned the loss of my 'old' life. I don't think I was really prepared for things to change just as much as they did, and I sure as hell never read about  experiencing these feelings in any of my baby books.
 It took me a very long time to adjust to our new lifestyle and I remember nights feeling so exhausted, and so frustrated and not really knowing who I was anymore. I'm totally aware that just sounded as cheesy as a Dawson's Creek script, (Joey, Pacey- anyone??) but it's true. I know in my case at times I felt so out of the loop knowing that everyone else was out at work, or had busy schedules all week long, while this was the first time in my life I had so much free time. Sometimes it felt like too much time.
Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing and having being back at work for over a year now, if  given the chance  to take a nine month paid leave, I'd be out that door like nobody's business, you wouldn't have to ask me twice.

I look at my almost two year old and honestly can't believe how quickly time has passed by  and how much she has learnt and developed and grew in that space of that time. It's amazing to watch her little personality emerge, -bossy, but oh so sweet. She can talk for Britain, but soaks up information like a sponge. So feisty and independent, but i'll catch her eyes wander  from across the park looking for me, just to make sure i'm there.
And i'm there, i'm always there. I'll stand and give her a great big smile, even when inside i'm wincing at how dirty her clothes are because she's carried about  a stick she's found, in and amongst the trees, or  she's pulled her bobble out and is rocking the bed head look in public. 
But i'll put these thoughts to the back of my mind, because right now, it makes my heart so unbelievably happy to see her happy, no matter how muddy or scruffy she can be.


'Let them be little, 'cause they're only that way for a while. Give them hope, give them praise, give them love everyday. Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle. Oh.. just let them be little'




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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Dear Sarah (A letter to my pregnant self)



Dear Sarah,

 So you're Pregnant? 
Congratulations!
There is nothing to be scared of.  I promise. The scary stuff kicks in after the baby arrives.
I'm only joking, but develop a thick skin and get used to these kind of comments- you'll be subjected to them all through your pregnancy, and after, and pretty much forevermore.. and usually, by strangers.
They don't need to know if your pregnancy was planned and if you are planning on breast feeding- tell them where to go or you'll have to endure countless tales of daughters, nieces and neighbours who caused their baby long lasting damage by over stretching or accidentally eating  a sandwich with brie in it.
Just let these throwaway comments go through one ear and out the other or your nerves will be wrecked for the next nine months, and trust me, nine months when you're pregnant might as well be eighteen- and on that note, keep yourself busy.
Stuart will encourage you to get behind a team during the World Cup 'It'll make the pregnancy go in quicker for you' he will say. Don't listen to him, it wont. 
People will also enjoy telling you the negatives about pregnancy, the heart burn, the insomnia, the errrr.. excess hair- but there are just as many absolutely amazing aspects too, like feeling your baby move, kick and hiccup.. the emotional bond you've developed with someone you've yet to meet. You will spend hours upon hours imagining and wondering what your baby could look like, what career she could have, and all the exciting memories you will share together in the future.
You'll will have never really thought into the future as much as you will now. In fact, some nights you will lay in bed riddled with anxiety at the thought of bringing your little girl into the big, bad world, it's something which will never leave you.
  
Try and embrace all the changes going on with your body. I know, I know... it's easier said than done, and pretty disheartening when you can fit into nothing but pjammas and Stuart's football attire- Sure, you are openly supporting Manchester United against your will, but one day you will miss that bump. The same bump that made it awkward to get out of bed, shave your legs (what a perfect excuse to stop...) and will make your sense of spacial awareness non existent- but I promise you this, you will miss it.
Just try and think of the bigger picture, nine months is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and you will one day look back and feel as though your pregnancy went by in a flash. Which is exactly why you should keep up to date with your Bump To Birthday book..especially now that you have the time to do it.
(there will still end up being gaps..)

Giving birth will be the most surreal and amazing experience.
 It will leave you feeling sore, bruised and a little broken, but you will feel so elated that you will finally meet your little girl . You'll soon be quick to realise that the postpartum bit is generally the part people don't share with you, but these rollercoaster emotions are normal. So normal
So don't go self diagnosing yourself too quickly, keep your mirror above your waist, give yourself time for you body to adjust,  rest up when you can and don't be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help now and again- and you know you'll always prefer your mum's ironing.
Invest in some comfy pjammas, witch hazel, some dry shampoo and enjoy hibernating with your new little family, even if you do resemble some kind of squatter.
Maybe add some concealer on to the list while you're at it.
But it's a small price to pay to have this beautiful little baby nestled in your arms.

You will hear it time and time again, until you're sick of hearing it, but honestly, soak in all these moments, they go so quickly.. even those night feeds that feel like hours, they too will soon will pass and will be missed. 
Every day she will do something different, capture these little moments, you will be amazed in months/years to come how much she has changed- so much so, you will doubt she is even the same baby.

There are going to be some hard times ahead, times when you will question your own sanity. There will be moments that you will not be able to look at Stuart in the eye out of pure hate, and he will 100% feel the same way about you, don't worry about that. You are both so new to this parenting malarkey, and it can be tough when you're just winging it, and both so stubborn. But you will get through it, and you will laugh about the hard times. You will pack up your belongings more than once and claim you are moving out, but a few Jack Daniel's will do that to a hormonal, sleep deprived woman.
So just go to bed and sleep it off.
Ain't nobody got time for a tearful drunk.
(Ok, so it may well be months down the line, but you will find the funny side.....) 


Because every day it gets easier, and more normal, and familiar. 
And  it's only when you stop for a minute to reflect and look at an old photograph, or find an old baby suit or sock you are reminded of just how quickly time passes by and deep down you know you'd happily live through it all again, the sleepless nights, the teething and tantrums if you were only given half the chance.... if it meant getting to keep your little Girl close by your side for as long as possible.

You can do this, you are so capable.













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Saturday, 9 April 2016





The last few weeks have been manic to say the very least. After being told we had 5 weeks to vacate the house we had grown to love so much ( the joys of private renting...) we had to make a quick move. What made it extra emotional was that we were leaving the first house we brought Eva home to after leaving the hospital.. but being realistic, everything makes me emotional these days.. i've already bawled my eyes out through the first episode of Britains Got Talent.. for someone who isn't an animal lover, dancing dogs seem to pull at my heart strings. Joking. Kind of. 
 Anyway, luckily on week four we found a house. Week four. Stressed to the max and with us both working, the Mr working days, me working nights, packing was very much a last minute affair and six weeks later we're still trying to locate particular items and we are still fighting about the missing utensil drawer.

There has been plenty of fighting, sleepless nights, unhealthy eating and not to mention three trips to the out of hours doctor during the night. We are painfully aware that we are now that family, the one the doctors and their receptionists roll their eyes at when they lift the phone and hear our name. 
With rashes and viral infections aside I feel we are just over the worst of it all, still it feels like one of us always seems to be swanning around the house, faux fur throw wrapped around our shoulders like something out of Game Of Thrones, lemsip in hand.
These colds seem to be never ending.


But i'm back, and ready to dedicate some time and love to our Blog :)





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Thursday, 11 February 2016

Parenting Guilt



Mummy guilt. or should I say, parent guilt.. (Dad's never seem to get a mention do they?)

Along with the perils of teething, over tired tantrums, and stretch marks in unmentionable places, Parent Guilt is just another one of those things you find out all about after having a baby (and maybe just as well ) 
Pre-baby I had very little to feel guilty about, and if I did, it was all trivial things like not swapping shifts with a co-worker, declining a night out or 'forgetting' to respond to a text.
Like I said, I had very little to feel guilty about. 

Since becoming a mum I feel guilty over everything. Every little thing. Everyday, all day long - Like an emotional hamster wheel of guilt.



I'll worry if i've spent enough quality time with my daughter that day, then  feel guilty that the house resembles a squatter's den because we spent the whole afternoon playing with every toy in the box. 
I'll then clean and  feel guilty that I want it to stay tidy and that i've hid the crayons, Peppa toys, slide and seesaw out of sight so that I don't have to put them away later.
I'll feel guilty that I put her down for her afternoon nap, and now the sun is shining and she's missing out on a beautiful day outside, yet deep down I know if I was to wake her i'd feel guilty that I disturbed her sleep and run the risk of her having a public emotional breakdown due to the sleep hanging out of her.
I worry that she watches too much tv, despite the fact she's quite capable without it and uses it as mostly background noise as she potters about the living room from toy to toy.
I feel guilty when she waves goodbye when she's comes along to drop me off to work, even though I decided to return to work to add to our income so we can live comfortably and treat her to nice things now and again.
I feel guilty that I enjoy time alone. I'm conscious that I don't make enough for my childless friends, that when I do i've missed out on big parts of their day to day lives because sometimes I can be so consumed in my own. 
I feel guilty that I make my own partner feel guilty when he says he's tired or has had a rough day. Because God forbid the man might feel tired after a 10 hour day!
For flipsake, I feel guilty that i'm even feeling guilty about every thing instead of just enjoying every minute I have as a parent.

Literally every little thing turns into a reason to feel guilty about.




 I read a comment on Facebook recently under a 'Unmumsy Mum' post, in which a woman said to remember this following statement in those guilt ridden or 'down day' moments 

'Everyone fed, no one dead' 

If we have achieved just that, surely we are all doing a wonderful job. 
It's time to not let the guilt consume us, but rather in a weird way, embrace it ( unfortunately it never leaves- or so I am told) because it reminds us that we care, we want the very best for our children, it would be more concerning if we didn't have these worries, if we had given up all hope and didn't strive for better. 
In years to come i'm almost certain (or I at least for my sake, hope) that my daughter doesn't remember that I didn't have her at every baby/toddler group going- because I shudder at the very thought of them, that chicken nuggets were a dinner time staple, or that it often took us until 12pm to leave the house.
But she'll remember the sunny days she spent in the park on the swings, nights she stayed up a little later because Grandparents were over, days at the beach and sunday morning in bed snuggled (or rather, wedged, feet in spine etc etc) between her Mummy and Daddy
Because at the end of the day, those are the things that she will remember and those  above everything are the things that really matter, aren't they?






























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