Friday, 4 April 2014

Is this a meme? It feels like a meme. It could be a meme.

Today I got round to sorting through some of Olive's clothes putting aside the ones she has grown out of. They'll go in the loft because, who knows, we might need them again one day.

Despite her having them for, at the most, eight months I felt a tinge of nostalgia as I folded up some of my favourite clothes. Things that I remembered her wearing at key points in her young life.

I couldn't believe this was the last time she'd wear some of them, and I remembered a trend I'd noticed on Pinterest recently of people recreating their childhood photos.

We could totally do that:

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A Fictitious Conversation With My Daughter


"Yes, sweet cheeks?"

"I love you"

"I love you too darling"

"I mean I really, really love you"

"I know"

"In fact, I love you so much that..." secretive, mischievous smile "I have decided I want another Mummy."


"Not instead of you, silly. As well as you. Listen, I've worked it all out and it'll be brilliant.

"And it isn't just for me. YOU. ARE. GOING. TO. LOVE. HER

"You know how you really like hanging out with your female friends having tea and cake? Well, this will be like having a best friend with you all the time, and you can do all sorts of things together, every day, which will be really, really fun.

"Now, she will be a bit younger and probably cuter than you. So you might find that when your friends come round they are suddenly more interested in chatting to her. But it is only because she is new, they still love you, you just aren't quite as interesting.

"Obviously because she is has only just arrived I might have to spend a bit more time with her than with you, to begin with anyway, just to help her find her feet and know what is going on. So I might not be able to give you my full attention any more.

"You look concerned.

"I know what you're worried about. Don't be.

"Daddy will absolutely adore her too. He'll give her lots of kisses and cuddles - just like he gives you now.

"This is going to be FANTASTIC."

Is it any wonder children get jealous of new siblings?

I'm thinking I should start trying for number two sooner rather than later to hopefully sneak one in before Olive becomes fully sentient and twigs what is going on. Luckily I have two embryos on ice so I have a head start on my next round of IVF, the next step is to work out exactly when to plunge back into that drama.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

What they never told you about having a child

There is a time in every infertile-turned-parent-blogger's life when we are compelled to write the obligatory "what they didn't tell you about being a mother" post.

These posts generally take one of two routes:

1) The graphic "what has this done to my body" route? Why did no one tell me about stitches/ hernias/ incontinence/ droopy boobs/ leaky boobs etc. Possibly my friends who have had babies lack any sense of shame, or boundaries, but I was pretty clued up on the whole physical side effects of birth. I mean, don't get me wrong I was as shocked and revolted as anyone else the first time I heard that many women shit themselves when giving birth ... when I was 11. But nothing much has surprised me from that side.

2) The slushy "I never knew I could feel this way" post. In which the blogger rhapsodises about how they thought they had known love before but nothing could prepare them for this out-pouring of love and devotion that they feel now they are a mother. This has annoyed me in the past and annoys me now. Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that I have done my fair share of infatuated blogging since having Olive but I was prepared to feel like this. How I feel about her is everything I ever imagined, but it is just that - what I imagined.

Remember when Maeve Binchy died? There was an article about whether her writing would have been better if she had experienced motherhood? The article is here.

The final paragraph is the killer:
"Binchy, whose first novel was about a 20-year friendship between two women, didn’t need the experience of motherhood to write about love and friendship in a way that charmed millions. But she might have dug deeper, charming less but enlightening more, had she done so."

Frankly the article says more about the journalist's lack of imagination than the author's.

You pretty much know that having a baby is going to result in sleepless nights, cleaning up every body fluid known to man (and a few as yet unidentified) and you don't even get a decent conversation out of it.  All that work for the reward of a few smiles - some days not even them? Of course you are going to love them deeply, irrationally, totally and completely. Babies wouldn't makes it past the first three months if this didn't kick in.

So this post is a relentlessly practical one. Things that I genuinely never knew. Discovering them (mostly through the help of my NCT buddies who share these hidden secrets) has revolutionised child rearing.

A) Why baby's vest are made like that.

See the neck line of this vest? You know the overlapping bit at the side?  I assumed that was to get them easily over a babies head. Makes sense right?

And then that day happens. The day when you wake up to a literal shit storm. It is everywhere; up the back, pooling in the foot, hidden in every fat roll, and smeared over the inside of the vest.  The last thing you want to do is pull it over your little one's head. That is where the genius of these little neck holes come into their own.

Because, you don't take the vest over the head... you open it and pull it off over their hips.


But no one ever tells you that. You heard it here first.

B) Nappies.

Nappies are pretty easy to put on, right? As long as they aren't back to front, or inside out you are laughing. Or so I thought. Then I realised there was one extra adjustment needed to ensure the perfect seal (to stop that shit storm described above happening).

Nappies have a sort of frill inside them. When you put the nappy on rather than tucking the frill in, like so:

Flick it out, like so:

If I have saved one person the hell of a leaky nappy my job here is done.

C) Sleeping through the night

What would you say constitutes "sleeping through the night"? I would have thought it was pretty obvious it is when the baby sleeps from when you go to bed until you wake up (with a half hour leniency either side). Apparently not.

If your baby sleeps in a continuos stretch for five hours this is counted as sleeping through. This means that if your baby goes to sleep at 7pm and then wakes at midnight, or sleeps from 10pm to three am, that counts as sleeping through the night. Which is clearly insane.

In theory based on that Olive has slept through the night on several occasions. She isn't a bad little sleeper but still needs a boob feed at about four in the morning to push on through until six thirty (which I still count as night time). On the plus side the clocks go forward at the end of this month so maybe I'll get the luxury of a lie in until seven thirty, but I'm holding out for that night when she doesn't need her midnight snack. Then, and only then, will I consider her having slept through the night.


Too much baby talk? Read this before you comment.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Snide Comment

Today I received this comment on my blog:

Officially deleting from my reading list. So sad that once a person becomes a parent they no other thoughts [sic] than baby.....guess you won't have anything to think about in 18 years.


I have no problem with people not wanting to read this blog any more. I have a baby - I am where many, many people who started to read this blog want to be. I've reached the finish line.

I fully expected people to stop reading. I wrote about that here way before I even got pregnant.

But you don't need to tell me! What possible motivation do you have for leaving such a snide, bitchy little comment? 

You'll notice that the number of posts I write has dropped off dramatically. Partly this is because I am too tired and my free time is too limited to write but also I find myself hovering over the publish button. Is it too much? Do my readers really want to hear more ramblings about the joys - and sometimes the lows - of being a mummy? So another post goes unpublished.

And let's be clear: when I was trying to get pregnant I had lots of other things going on in my life other than infertility. I didn't write about it because that wasn't the nature of this blog. Now I have less going on - things do revolve around my baby, I am on maternity leave and I have to look after her 24 hours a day but that doesn't mean that I have "no other thoughts than baby", but they are what I choose to write about.

But don't worry I will have plenty to think about in 18 years.

In 18 years I will still be thinking about my daughter, in 26 years I will still be thinking about her, in 37 I will still be thinking of her. But not exclusively. I am sure I will still have other things to do and think about, as I did before her and I do still now.

Do you know what I think would be worse than writing about my daughter? If I continued to write blog posts that whined about being infertile. About how mothers who got pregnant easily can't relate to my "struggle". How I am still infertile even though I have a baby and people should understand that having a child doesn't wipe away the years of hurt. (It does by the way - there is still a small stain but so much of the pain of the last seven years has been eradicated - and I'm telling you that as encouragement not to boast). 

I once read a post on another blog - again way before I got pregnant - in which the new mother asserted that infertiles loved their babies more than people who got pregnant easily. This is utter, utter horseshit. That made me stop reading the blog in question (and I just stopped; I didn't comment). The only discernible difference I have noticed between mothers who found it easy to get pregnant and those who didn't is some (SOME!) will talk more readily about when they want to get pregnant again to get the perfect age gap between their children.

So dear readers, who have supported me and seen me through the very lowest of times - thank you. If you choose to move on I totally get it. 

I would. 

I have in the past.

But don't tell me! 

Right, maybe I'll go back and publish some of those written but unpublished posts.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Half year Birthday

Olive turned six months old on the 31st of January. My little girl is getting older.

The last few weeks have seen Olive's most significant lifestyle changes since she swapped her womb-room for the bright lights of the labour ward.

For the first five month of her life not a lot changed in her little world, she ate from the Mummy Dummy, slept (if I'm lucky) in a cot next to my bed and saw the world whilst strapped firmly to my chest in a baby carrier or tucked up in a pram in my eyeline.

Two weeks ago I gave her proper food for the first time. I say proper food, I mixed baby rice with ten parts boob juice according to instructions, which resulted in ... um ... breastmilk that you feed a baby with a spoon.

Since then I have lovingly roasted nuggets of sweet potato, pureed organic parsnip with home -made, salt-free chicken stock. I've mashed bananas despite my ingrained loathing of the fruit, its smell and texture. I've mixed a little apple juice into the steamed pears to make a more palatable consistency. I've even made a shit-ton (actual measurement) of bread sticks without salt - such is my devotion to her dietary needs, putting that above taste and flavour.

In return I've watched the little lady stick her hands in the food, smear it on her cheeks, in what little hair she has, even occasionally it'll go in her mouth before being spat out with a look of total and utter disgust.

But some of it has clearly gone down. Who knew poo could smell of pear?

Not content with introducing her to food I have also banished her from our bedroom. For the last three nights she has slept in her own room.

I've hated it.

Not being able to roll over and hear her little nighttime snuffles or prod her to make sure she is still breathing has been a wrench. She is growing away from me, and it seems to be affecting me more than her. On the plus side though, now I get to decorate a nursery and possibly for the last time I'll have free reign to design her whole room without any pink or input from her.

Finally she has graduated from pram to buggy. From facing me to facing the world. Although I have perfected a hunched back lopsided walk that allows me to peer into the pram whilst I push it.

Olive seems unphased by these developments. I, on the other hand, am wondering if there is a way to harness Peter Pan's ability and prevent her growing up.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Rules for mothers

I've lost count of the number of people who have told me that after having a baby for a few months they can't imagine life without them. (I say I've lost count, I'm not entirely sure I ever started counting). I can totally imagine life without Olive, or "remember" as I call it.

One thing I remember well is what sort of mother I wanted to be. I had a list of things I would and wouldn't do.

It is about time I revisited that list, don't you think?

I will breast feed, exclusively, for six months
Five months in and so far, so good. However I am acutely aware that this is more a result of luck than anything else. I haven't had a problem with feeding, and Olive is growing, but if I was struggling with it and worrying that my baby wasn't getting the nutrients she needs I'd reach for the formula in a flash.

I will maintain a realistic view of my baby, be objective about her
A mate of mine once told me that when she dropped her child off at nursery she felt a bit sorry for the other mothers as she assumed they were looking at her and feeling jealous that their child wasn't as beautiful as hers. The kid was cute but not exceptional. I noticed other people being slightly less explicit about it but clearly seeing their kids through very rose tinted spectacles.

I was almost relieved when, at my first glimpse of her I thought she looked like Yoda. On a bad day. I wasn't going to be blinded by her cute little nose, and big eyes set-off by long lashes ... shit, I was gone.

Now I feel a bit awkward when people say how gorgeous she is - how many of us have said something similar about people kids all the while thinking "Holy shit, I never knew she was descended from Winston Churchill"?

I honestly have no idea if she is genuinely cute or not - all I know is that to me she is utterly adorable.

(NB. The husband is adamant that he is being completely objective when he says that she is cute. But he also thinks that she looks a bit like Nien Nunb from Star Wars.)

Have a bedtime routine 
This has worked. Even through all the Christmas shenanigans I have stuck rigidly to a six pm bath followed by bed. There are times when I really can't be bothered to give her a bath and start to convince myself that missing one wouldn't be so bad, but then I remember that the bath isn't just about cleanliness but more a signal to her that it is bedtime. She sleeps really well at night and I don't want to lose that, and I hope that a routine now will stand me in good stead for a toddler when bedtime become more of a battle.

Besides she loves baths, and that is when I get the best giggles of the day, so why would I miss out on that?

I won't let myself go, I'll not leave the house covered in puke.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 
*draws breath*
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Out Of Office: Autoreponse

Dear Customer,

Many thanks for your email.

Unfortunately Womb For Improvement Incorporated is unable to deliver our traditional seasonal game as our Chief Creative Officer is currently on maternity leave. We are only too aware of the irony of a company built on the joy that infertility brings during this festive period being laid low by yet another bloody baby. For that we can only apologise.

In the meantime feel free to browse our archive of Christmas treats:
Christmas Album, 2012
Merry Quizmas, 2011
Conceive or Conceed, 2010
Conception Deception, 2009
Barren Bingo, 2008

In recognition of what many of you are still going through, this email will not include a sickeningly cute picture of a baby or anything other than a metaphorical hug to anyone who is still childless this year. May next Christmas bring you what your heart desires (more games from Womb For Improvement Incorporated. Obviously).

Merry Christmas,

WFI xx

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas is coming

I spent a lot of time, whilst infertile, thinking about "this time next year."

Christmases in particular I'd wonder if, by next Christmas, I'd have a baby. I came close last year - my first pregnancy was due on the 22 of December 2012, but it didn't make it past May.

Exactly a year ago, on the 15th of December, I found out I was pregnant again. Maybe it was because it was so close to what would have been my due date - or maybe simply because I was scarred by having miscarried earlier in the year regardless of the date - I didn't let myself think ahead.

The little girl sleeping in the cot beside me now was something I couldn't envisage a year ago. All I focussed on was the next scan, the next opportunity to see a heart beat flickering on the screen. Even when I was heavily pregnant I hardly dared to believe that I would have a healthy baby at the end of it.

Yesterday I bought her a Christmas present, and today I decorated the tree whilst she gazed in wonder at the tinsel. In ten days we will have the Christmas that I have wanted for so many years, a Christmas with my own family.

They say Christmas is really for the children.

Not this year.

This Christmas is for me.

And let's face it Olive won't have a clue what is going on.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Starting a routine

I am writing this at eight thirty at night. Olive is asleep and has been for the last hour. If the past couple of weeks are anything to go by she will now sleep until some point between 2 and 4 in the morning. She'll feed quickly and then go back to sleep until about 7 in the morning.

(I write this knowing full well that having set it down in black and white she will probably wake up on the hour every hour from now until 5am.)

I am sure there are many parents of three month olds who will be incredibly envious to hear that the husband and I have already got our evenings back, and that I get decent chunks of sleep throughout the night.

I was pretty happy too.

I've made a conscious effort to get Olive into a bed time routine. She has a bath at the same time every night which, despite the trepidation exhibited in this pre-bath towel-wrapped photo, she enjoys.

After a splash (and often a poo) in the bath I feed her in semi-darkness until she drifts off to sleep. I place her in her cot with skill and dexterity honed from years of playing Operation and creep out of the room.

The daytime is significantly less regimented but I was fine with this as every day was different anyway. I didn't worry about this as I have a busy social life what with baby yoga, meeting a bunch of different folk for hot chocolate, and even mummy wine tasting cluttering up my maternity leave. I didn't want to be tied to a routine so as long as Olive slept at some point during the day and continued to thrive I was happy.

WAS happy.

Until I decided that I should start to get her into a routine that enables her to sleep, in a cot, during the day.

I bought a couple of parenting books. I've finished one and am half way through the second. 

And I have cried a lot.

The first book was written by a famously litigious (and hence unnamed here) author who advocates a strict timetable and leaving the baby to cry for up to twenty minutes whilst you wait for them to settle themselves. 

I'm not sure I can do that.

The next book, the Baby Whisperer, was recommended by a friend - which is a good start. I'm only half way through it but so far there is a lot to like. The idea is more about a routine - an order of doing things rather than a to-the-minute schedule. The author has already categorically stated that she does not believe in letting that baby cry themselves out.

However even this book has caused me to burst into tears when I read that the routine should start at 6 weeks and whilst you can always change your baby's routine the longer you leave it the harder it will be. Olive is almost 14 weeks - I feel like I have lost eight precious weeks already. 

Part of me wants to say 'fuck it' and continue as I am, happy with feeding Olive to sleep and not to worry too much about things. But then I imagine having a baby morph into a child who still needs to go on the tit before bed, and frankly I don't want to be breast feeding her to sleep when she is a teenager with braces and the ability to answer (and bite) back!

So I am starting to change some habits. This is bound to impact on what is currently a wonderfully calm night time pattern, and I know there will be times when I will regret upsetting the status quo. But hopefully, eventually, the daytimes will become as easy as the nights, and maybe it will enable me to rid of the 4am feed as well. 

If any of you have any tips how to put a baby in a cot for a daytime nap, whilst she is awake, do share. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Top Five Moments

What are the moments of motherhood that fills you with joy? A stock response is something like: "Seeing them smile back at you erases all memories of a sleepless night/ the two hours of constant crying/ the nappies."

Olive's first smile was stunning (and it would have been even more of a memorable if she'd been smiling at me rather than the striped blind over my shoulder) but my daily moments of bliss are a little less predictable.

Here are my top five things:

1) Removing a bogy
Seeing your baby snuffling through her first cold is heart wrenching. The gasps for breath as they try to breath through a nose stuffed with snot is both distressing but also quite worrying as you frantically google "can a baby suffocate because of a blocked nose?" (Answer: no).

One way to remove mucous from your little one is to use your mouth to suck out the offending booger. I would do anything for love, but I think I've discovered the "that" that Meatloaf also drew a line at.

Instead I managed to use my little finger to pick out a massive green nose dweller the other day. It was only the reaction from the husband when I texted him him a photo of Olive's first merconian nappy that stopped me sending him a picture of my latest triumph. Which means, unfortunately, I don't have a picture to share with you guys.


2) Saving Clothes
I have discussed, at length, Olive's propensity for projectile poo. So I am not going to go into that again. However there is little more satisfying than scooping a clean vest or baby grow out of the way of a river of piss.

I have never put on as many washes as I have since Olive was born, and if there is one essential purchase for anyone about to have a baby - forget moses baskets or changing table - I'd vote tumble dryer every time.

So going back to my original point. There is nothing like the high of rescuing an item of clothing from what would otherwise have been destined for the laundry basket.

3) Sleeping in a Cot
Those of you who follow me on twitter (@womb4improve) will have seen the other day I was contemplating cutting off my own arm to enable me to get on with some day-to-day tasks (like putting another bloody wash on - see above) without waking the baby who was happily snoozing on my arm.

Olive, like many other babies, likes to sleep a lot. She sleeps in the pram when I take her out, or the sling as I potter around. What she is less good at during the day is sleeping in her moses basket by herself. Which somewhat hampers my ability to do anything other than care for the little mite.

I'm not saying that this is a bad thing but I still haven't unpacked all my boxes from moving house back in June.

So when she does managed to sleep and leave me unencumbered it is a high five moment all round. (Yes, I high five myself, something I can only do because I have two free hands.)

4) Being hungry
Olive seems to spend 90% of her waking hours feeding. This might be an exaggeration, my mind says it is, my chewed on nipples are claiming it is closer to 99%. However her levels of hunger changes during the day. The witching hours between 4 and 6 are hard, with her desultory nipple-gunning without getting a proper feed.

What I love though is when she is hungry and my boobs are full. She sets about her feed with a an satisfying amount of vigour. Then, when she has finished, will pull off the tit extending my nipple by about four times, she'll throw back her head, arching on my lap, eyes half closed in ecstasy, mouth gaping and smeared with milk. Pure contentment.

And I look down at this happy, milk-drunk baby and think "I did that."

5) Recognition
At Olive's eight week check the Doctor went through a number of little tests. Reflexes, hip movement. She even counted her toes which for a moment filled me with dread as I suddenly asked myself whether I had ever counted her toes, what if she only had nine toes and I'd not noticed? Then I remembered whilst I hadn't counted to ten I had certainly made sure that she had her full complement of piggies; 'market, home, roast beef, none and wee-wee-wee'.

One thing that made my heart sing was when the Doctor said "Good tracking of Mummy with her eyes."

She is 11 weeks. Of course she recognises me and watches out for me - I am, at the moment, her whole world, but it is nice when other people notice it too.