It’s been a while…

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front of late, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by life and to be honest, I didn’t know what to blog about. But I have just been considering all that’s wrong with that statement. I started blogging because I find it a useful release when things are getting on top of me, so I’m questioning why I have started feeling that way and I think I have resorted to sticking my head in the sand as a way of ‘coping’. I know myself well enough to know that is not coping at all, so I’m nipping it in the bud and I’m going to spill… little of interest I’m sure, but it will make me feel better. Sharing is caring!

I’m just going to throw out the biggest things that have been worrying me*: (*in no particular order)

  • The end of breastfeeding, or is it? This probably deserves a blog of its own, I have been driving myself mad with the pressure I have putting myself under with what I ‘should’ be doing. I never imagined that I would be in this sort of pickle, after my previous experience with breastfeeding – I wanted to feed Albie until he was at least 6 months, so to get to (almost) 11 months with no signs of him giving up any time soon is a shocker to me! The pickle is that if I didn’t have to work I’d happily continue until he is ‘ready’ to stop… but that isn’t an option since I do have to work (and I can’t imagine Albie ever being ready…). Trouble I don’t know where to start with stopping. And I don’t think I want to. But also I need sleep, preferably more than 4-5 hours of consecutive sleep. But 4-5 hours consecutive hours of sleep is a massive improvement to the 2-3 hours I was getting a few weeks/months ago, so maybe things are slowly sorting themselves out. See driving myself mad!
  • Work – I am still relatively new to my role, having started 5 months before going on maternity leave and having been back for 4 weeks now. It is a role unlike anything I have ever done in the past, so there is a steep learning curve involved. Thankfully the team are incredibly supportive and I know without any doubt that I’m not alone, even if I am on my own in a physical sense. I have been walking a fine line of confidence/confidence crisis, over analysing all of my actions even down to worrying about seeming ‘too confident’ in my abilities after such a short amount of time in the role
  • Effect on upheaval on Sophie’s behaviour. Since I’ve been back at work, Sophie has been becoming more ‘angsty’- I’m not sure if it’s directly attributed to me working or whether it’s just her entering the threenager phase, or maybe a bit of both. Whichever it is, I can understand how the phase earned it’s title! In the past week alone we have developed traumatic tantrums involving a sit down protest (her) and a flustered exit (me) from a shop where you’re not allowed to exit the entrance doors, which made my swift exit impossible as I had to wait for someone else to enter before we could leave..! and hitting me, she’s freakishly strong and can pull quite a punch, it’s not nice to be on the receiving end of her new found fury- but I’d rather me than Albie!
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lovely little diva…
  • Jaffacakes – seems a bit odd but it has featured significantly in my turmoil over this past week. For those of you that don’t know me, I love Jaffa cakes, they are probably in my top 3 best snacks. I normally like to demolish a pack in 4 sittings (sometimes 2, on occasion 1- I’m not proud!) and 12 in a pack has always leant itself to my obsessive planning around how long the pack can last. But I bought myself a pack last week as they were (suspiciously) low priced and there are now only 10 Jaffa cakes in a pack. This blew my mind, I tormented myself over how to eat them- should it be 5 lots of 2, 2 lots of 3 and a 4, 2 lots of 4 and a 2?! I explored lots of options, but couldn’t (and still can’t) bring myself to tuck in! Please tell me someone else is equally distressed by this Jaffa cake conundrum?!
  • Upcoming birthdays andChristmas– I don’t know what to buy, how much to spend, what to do on their individual birthdays. I have booked them a joint birthday party venue (their birthdays are 4 days apart, they’ll be having joint parties for as long as I can get away with it!), so now I need to get invitations out- I purchased some birthday party invitations from Tesco in a hurry, only to find there is no space to write who’s party it is or the date on?! So a watsapp message has had to suffice so far… there’s also the yearly* issue (*unless you’re on maternity leave..) of not knowing what days I’m working over the Christmas period meaning we can’t make any plans yet… fairly sure I’m in line to work the big day though, after 2/3 years on mat leave and some how getting away with it in between!
  • Mundane things. Jay has about 2 weeks of the year when he isn’t malting so hoovering is an ongoing issue, I have got an ever growing mountain of kids clothes to organise for giving away/selling, the bathroom seems to be dirty 5 seconds after I cleaned it, 2 seconds for the kitchen, dust- everywhere, toys- everywhere, and then there’s the washing, with a perma-full washing basket (I swear I emptied it the other day!) and worse still, the clean washing waiting (still) to be put away- only to end up straight back into the washing basket! I put on a clean jumper this morning and literally within 10 minutes I had 2 lots snot smeared on it, along with a bit of mushed banana to add insult to injury. Everyone else I know seem to have pristine homes and jumpers – I don’t understand how to achieve this goal and still manage to leave the house?!
  • Meal planning… while I was on maternity leave we got into the swing of planning meals for the week and shopping accordingly. It was a revelation! But now I’m back at work, there seems to be a grand total of 1-2 days per week where we are all in the house for an evening meal, thanks to a combination of my long shifts and Simon’s long list of extra-curricula activities. This has resulted in Sophie and Albie ending up with ‘breakfast for tea’ on days like today, where we’ve had a lovely day together including lunch out, then a fragmented evening with Simon dashing off to play at a gig. Frustratingly, they seem to be most excitable when breakfast is offered up for tea – as opposed to when I cook anything (other than spaghetti bolognese, obviously)
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Breakfast for tea going down a treat…
  •  My poor husband. In between working, Mum-ing, not sleeping and general attempts at holding my life together, I occasionally get to see Simon… generally we get to see each other when we are utterly exhausted and that means it’s probably fair to say that we don’t see the best of each other at the moment. That’s if we see each other at all, I have been working a lot of weekends since being back at work, meaning that Simon has been flying solo with the kids when I’m not there, they have had a lovely time together – including going to birthday parties in my absence (making friends during NCT classes = a lot of birthday parties in a short space of time!) – I’m pleased they have such a nice time together but it adds to my bitterness when I can’t be there to join them. I love a good birthday party. Anyway, my point is that we are in desperate need for a bit of time to rebuild ourselves as us, it’s so easy – when I am so used to putting self-care at the bottom of the priority list – to forget to prioritise us. We have our first night away together coming up, and I can’t wait to spend a bit of time together away from the strains of everyday life and enjoy each other for a change.

Phew, now that just sounds like a major whinge! I like to think of myself as a fairly positive person, that’s probably not how this blog reads at all though – and I hate that I am sounding so moany at the moment but I needed to offload a bit, and it certainly helps.

I have been debating whether or not to do this post for a couple of days now, when I started writing it, I was in the midst of the horrendous whirlwind of hormones that comes with the monthly gift from mother nature – I think this is having an increasingly negative impact on my mental health each month so I am going to address that with a trip to the doctors soon, but a couple of things have made me feel better since starting to write this post. The main difference is most likely hormonal – I am still feeling aware and maybe slightly overwhelmed by all of the worries I have listed, but it doesn’t all feel as oppressive as it did about a week ago. And just as I now can’t relate to how low I was feeling then, I probably then couldn’t appreciate what I’m about to type: I realise how much I have to be grateful for. I have a roof over my head, a husband that loves me despite – well – me, two beautiful and healthy (ish!) children, a loyal and loving dog and a job that I love and feel privileged to be able to do – and that teaches me all the time to remember how lucky I actually am.

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pre-work, early morning selfie – love these squishy cuddles ❤
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Work/life/sleep (im)balance

It’s been 3 weeks now since my return to work, that time has flown by. It really has sped time up even more than before- I thought was an impossibility! The 10 months I spent with the babies was a blur, everyone (myself included) refer to it as time ‘off’ but that isn’t really an accurate description; sleep deprivation spanning almost a year, keeping 2 small humans fed and watered, dressed, clean and amused and (in Albie’s case) juggling doctor and hospital appointments in the aftermath of being unwell is probably not anyone’s idea of a holiday! I made such a big deal of returning to work, and felt like I had smashed it after my first few shifts back- it was hard but I was relieved to have settled back in pretty well and both babies were coping with nursery.

But now it has dawned on me that this is my life now.

From now on I will have to juggle all of the above, with the addition of 2-3 twelve hour shifts per week. Every week. For the foreseeable future.

The dawning of this was on a similar level to the moment that I realised Sophie was mine forever– sounds daft but it was after our first night at home and she was 4 days old, I had been up for most of the night trying to feed her and then she pooped all over me and the ‘novelty’ (can’t think of a better word) completely wore off and I realised how poorly prepared I was for a life-time of being a mum.

Nothing has changed, I still love my job- I have really enjoyed being at work and I’m still relieved that both babies are still enjoying nursery- Sophie even got a certificate this week for getting involved and smiling while she was there..! She is so proud, as are we, because up to now she’s been a bit of a wall flower (I just typed wallpaper initially- thought something didn’t sound right, thanks sleep deprivation..), so to hear that she is starting to get stuck in is music to our ears.

I think the moment of realisation struck yesterday, as I had a nightmare morning (literally) getting ready for work- it went a little something like this…

  • Returned from work on Thursday evening and was pretty much straight to bed after a brief natter with simon
  • Set my alarm for 5.45 to allow for time to shower, dress the kids and set off at a time that would allow for a leisurely drive
  • Albie. He had settled down for the night at 6.30ish as usual for simon- no milk all day long as despite our best efforts, he will not take milk from anything other than me. He woke up for a feed at 10.30, then 1.30, then 3, and then 4 (really wondering how long we can keep at breastfeeding, this is destroying me..) at which point he just would not settle back down. I eventually lurched back to bed at 5- wondering if it was worth going back to sleep, but also acknowledging that I’d be neither use, nor ornament if I stayed up.
  • Reset alarm for 6 to allow for a bit more of a catch up sleep
  • Had a horrendous nightmare, then woke up at 6.50 feeling panicky and teary- which only escalated when I realised the time
  • Got washed (had to skip the hair wash, thank goodness for dry shampoo!), dressed and ready to go… but by the time I was ready (7am- doesn’t take me long when I need to be speedy..), both babies were still sound asleep! They never sleep past 6.30 on a day when I don’t have work… do they know??
  • Thankfully Simon wasn’t starting work until 9, and so offered to do the nursery run. I normally like to do this because it’s the only time I get to spend with them on a work day, but I had no time so accepted the offer
  • Prepared the kids clothes and gave them kisses, they were up by the time I left- late of course
  • Hit a load of ring road, rush hour traffic on the way to work- there seems to be such a fine line between sailing to work with ease/being stuck in rush hour traffic all the way. I was well over the line
  • Arrived to work 3 minutes late, feeling frustrated and anxious about how this would be perceived. I am only 3 weeks back into it, surely I should have my shit a bit more together?
  • Walked into the office with a flurry of “sorry I’m late”, only to be greeted with understanding smiles and “don’t worry”s- it was only 3 minutes after all… cue tears of relief and a rambling explanation of all of the above.

So embarrassing.

Thankfully, in some ways, the rest of the day was so busy that I didn’t get an awful lot of time to worry about my tired mind (or feel guilty that I didn’t do the nursery drop off, or even ring the nursery to check on them) until I got home at around 9 last night. Then it all really hit me. I am just destined to be permanently exhausted. This is a fact I thought I’d already come to terms with, but this is just on a whole new level. I just hope it doesn’t take long to adapt, it would be nice to feel like I am doing more than just about coping.

Then today, my day ‘off’ has been spent trying to make up for the time we’ve all been apart. We have had a lovely day, walking Jay before having a ‘tram adventure’ into town for a lovely lunch and sampling the delights of the city centre free soft play area… interesting mix of people but all the kids played nicely together so it was a success on the whole! Both babies have been clingy though, Albie in particular let me know his feelings about being apart- if I dared to put him down and leave the room for a second, all hell broke loose. Even putting him down for a crawl about (all he normally wants to do these days..) has been a drama, he would only play if one of us was right there next to him. Unfortunately for him, the washing basket was overflowing and no one had any clean socks. Now I don’t think it’s all down to separation anxiety, I think there’s an element of teething/maybe a bit under the weather, but I automatically have feelings of guilt (when don’t I really..!) when he’s behaving like this. Especially because I’m leaving him again tomorrow to go to work.

And then there’s the things I’m missing out on, tomorrow is the first of a batch of birthday parties that Sophie has been invited to (NCT buddies all have their birthdays within 8 weeks of each other- October/november are busy months!) – obviously I’m not going to be there to soak up the party atmosphere, sing happy birthday or natter with my mummy friends- luckily Simon is more than happy (aren’t you simon!) to take on this duty, so at least Sophie and Albie won’t miss out. But still. So far there are 3 parties that simon is having to step in for, like I said at least the kids aren’t missing out- but it’s not all about them. Being back at work coinciding with my brothers visit home has stung as well, but thanks to Sophie’s ‘sicky’ on Wednesday I have seen him a fair bit, so it hasn’t been too bad.

Spending any time with Simon is proving challenging as he works ‘normal’ office hours, so when I’m working a lot of weekends, we see very little of each other. When we do see each other we’re exhausted so it’s not exactly quality time…

This is not (entirely) intended to be as moany as it sounds, I appreciate that in a lot of ways I am extremely lucky: I have an incredibly supportive and hands on husband (who even let me ‘lie in’ until 7 this morning, after Albie decided 5am was the perfect time to start the day), I have a job that I love so while I’m there I am completely absorbed in what I’m doing and I have 2 beautiful babies that love me so much that they won’t leave my side when I am at home (#blessed). I am starting to understand what people mean by ‘going to work for a rest’ though..!

Current mantra: it will get easier. Or I will just get used to it. Or maybe both, we’ll see….

Not monkey world

My brother is currently in the UK visiting for 3 weeks, after being away for three years (apart from a brief trip home 2 years ago). He has been busy meeting with everyone that have been missing him, so up until today (nearly 2 weeks in to his visit) we had only managed to see him once… this morning he asked if we wanted to join him for a trip to ‘monkey world’ and I replied that we couldn’t because Sophie has pre-school. Then I thought “don’t be ridiculous, she’s 2”, therefore Sophie has thrown her first ever sicky… so that I could join Max and his lovely girlfriend Micah there, where together we had a brilliant time getting up close and personal with the monkeys. And some primates too (ahaha…).

There was initially some confusion (all me) about where we were going, as when I googled ‘monkey world’, it was coming up as being in Dorset (a long drive from Nottingham…!) – thankfully Max then informed the place we were going is actually called Trentham Monkey Forest. So I drove to Stoke-on-Trent (not Dorset) and we arrived about an hour later, both Sophie and Albie napped all the way, and I didn’t get lost- so all in all a good journey! I don’t know what I was expecting, I was told it was an enclosure that you can walk through, but it was on a much grander scale, it was more like entering Jurassic park than I imagined and once inside, it felt like being in the wilderness – we weren’t aware of the perimeter fences at all.  During the course of the 3/4 mile pathway, we encountered 3 areas where the monkeys congregated and ate their food – we spotted several other monkeys in the trees along the way too!

Sophie loved monkey spotting and getting so close to them, though there was a slight blip when we were told no food could be consumed in the enclosure, as Sophie decided at that precise moment that she wanted a banana (of all the foods, probably the worst to consume in front of a monkey).

Albie was a little indifferent, and was pretty laid back, especially after a quick pit (feed) stop and enjoyed looking up at the trees mostly. I had to put the hood up on the pushchair for a while though as there were leaves and acorns falling from the canopy quite regularly at one stage.

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well colour-matched leaf

Sophie spent quite a lot of her time collecting acorns, 25 in total! She loves acorns, or so she keeps telling me, which is surprising considering she slipped on acorns 3 times as we were walking down a hill – mum guilt moment, I seriously couldn’t stop laughing (she was fine, but literally would stand up from one slip then slide over again, a cartoon character slipping on a banana skin – I’m laughing again now, sorry Soph!). I got my comeuppance as an acorn fell from a great height on to my head, these things are savage.

After trekking/tripping our way through the monkey forest – we were all pretty hungry, especially Sophie after her requests for a banana were declined throughout the walk. So it was off to the ‘Banana Cafe’ – lovely clean and spacious cafe, with room a-plenty for pushchairs and for Albie to have a good crawl around (that is all he cares about at the moment).

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Plenty of crawling space!

The food was pretty much canteen standard, probably a bit overpriced for what it was, but Sophie enjoyed her greasy, chewy chicken nuggets so it was what it was really. She even ate all of her peas and beans (quite enthusiastically!) so it felt like a win.

Then it was time to check out the play area – there are two there, but we only sampled the one you see as you enter, despite our best efforts, there is no persuading a toddler who is happily playing on one park to go and check out another! Any way, the one we were playing on was safe, clean and possibly most importantly, close to the toilets. Sophie had a blast ‘making’ uncle Max play with her on the see-saw (not sure who had more fun actually!), and Albie thoroughly enjoyed being taken on the slide and sampling the delight that is bark chippings…

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It was so nice to see how quickly Sophie and Albie warmed to Max and Micah, despite never having actually met (apart from very briefly when Sophie was a newborn), but mostly it was so nice for me to get to spend some time with my baby brother and his girlfriend, it really feels like they have always been here – I think the power of social media has something to do with it, but it’s lovely how easy Max slots back in when he returns. I hope one day we’ll be able to scrape enough pennies together to go and visit them in Melbourne so we can do some day-tripping together there!

Being back

I have been meaning to write again since my first two shifts last week, but as ridiculous as it sounds after 2 shifts back at work, I have been too tired. Being back at work has drained me. I have spent the past week recovering, but I don’t think it is just because of the shifts themselves; but from the anxiety and stress that I allowed myself to feel prior to the ‘big day’. The 12 hour shifts were definitely a shock to my system though, and are going to take some getting used to again!

The main things I learn upon my return to work are:

– I am capable – I am able to engage my brain and though I am a little rusty and I still have a lot to learn (I only started this role 5 months prior to leaving for mat leave). But there is still a brain in there, and I do know quite a lot of things

– I am focussed – as I was driving and on the short walk from the car park into work, I was worrying about how I would switch off my emotions about being away from my babies- I have found it much harder second time around. But once I was in there, walking the familiar corridors and wards, I felt much more like my former self (though a much tireder version..!). I still have the same passion for the job that I do, and I even found, ambition and enthusiasm for developing myself in my new(ish) role, though being realistic, just turning up is an achievement at the moment!

– I am not alone – nursing is a female dominant profession, and I am surrounded by other mothers who have felt/are feeling the same feelings I am having. And we can be supportive to one another, I was pepped up by all of my colleagues over the course of the two days I was at work. The main piece of wisdom that has stood out in my mind though, after having a bit of a meltdown about shiftwork/difficulties of finding work/life balance is that I will always find this hard and pretty much hate any rota/shift pattern that is given to me, because no matter what or when I am working, I am not with my babies. Once I had that in my mind, I stopped moaning (in my mind, I hope I haven’t moaned out loud too much!) about working weekends/nights or even just my standard weekday shifts, because I realise I am not the only one finding this hard, and that is just the way it is when you are a nurse.

– simon is very capable of picking up our children, getting them ready for bed and settling them off to sleep. Silly I know, but one of my biggest worries is missing bedtime. But both days they were both tucked up and asleep in bed when I got home.

– FaceTime with a 10month old, after he’s been at nursery all day and at the time that we’d usually be getting ready for bedtime with a snuggle and a breastfeed is not a good idea. For either of us.

– I will pay for my behaviour (I.e. Abandonment) with additional wake ups each night and extra clingy behaviour, for an undetermined amount of time. Just about paid my dues and we’re about to do it all again tomorrow…

– the only days either of my children will ever sleep past 6am are the days we need to leave the house (preferably dressed) by 7am to achieve being at nursery in time for me to get to work in time. Thank god I don’t start at 7am anymore!

So that’s about all, heading off to do it all again tomorrow, but all things said; I feel much better about going now. Especially as I have friday to myself this week (in return for working allllll weekend) (not moaning..). I just hope I will eventually get used to the whole new level of exhaustion that I have felt for the past week…

Mummy/Nurse

I just watched last nights episode of BBC’s panorama, about sepsis and the failings within the NHS at spotting and dealing with it before it leads to catastrophic results or even death in some cases. It’s got me thinking about two things:

1) how lucky we are. I have mentioned in a previous post that Albie suffered from meningitis a few months ago.

At 9 weeks old he developed a fever a few days after his first round of vaccinations. I initially thought it was the jabs that had caused it, but intuition was telling me that I was wrong. He was also behaving differently, in contrast to his usual cuddliness, he didn’t want to be held – and the previous night he had slept through most of the night (something that is yet to happen again…). Thankfully we took him to a&e, where despite my training as a nurse, I still blindly hoped that it was purely the jabs; I was surprised as we were escorted to a cubicle, told Albie needed blood tests and a cannula, told that he needed immediate antibiotic treatment and then told that he needed to be admitted to the ward where he would have further tests. The whole time I was hoping that we would be told we were being over-anxious parents with nothing to worry about and that we should go home. Once we were on the ward, it started to dawn on me exactly how poorly he was, babies don’t get kept in hospital for no reason – and I was aware of how often the nursing staff were ‘just checking in’, because I have been that nurse – trying to disguise concern as a casual chat while attempting keep all concerned calm but also closely monitoring and managing a patient’s poor/deteriorating condition. As Albie’s temperature came under control, once he’d had antibiotics, some fluids (teeny tiny amounts as opposed to the massive amounts I am used to giving to adult patients!) and some pain relief, he really started to stabilise. There was actually some debate about whether he needed a lumbar puncture, as on the face of it, he was a happy little baby that was feeding well (nothing stops that boy!) and improving after initial treatment. But the doctors decided to go ahead. I was convinced that it was just a precaution, as I handed him over to the nurse, I doubted whether I was doing the right thing – allowing him to be put through a painful procedure ‘just incase’. Once again, I was surprised to find out (despite it being fairly obvious in retrospect) that my baby boy had meningitis.

Once we were given the diagnosis, the horror of it all really struck me – sometimes knowledge is a dangerous thing. I have cared for many patients with meningitis in my career, but as a nurse working in critical care, I only have ever seen the worst scenarios… I have nursed patients in their final moments thanks to this horrible illness which can, like any infection, lead to overwhelming sepsis, multi-organ failure and even death. All of this was running through my mind, as my baby boy was lying in his hospital bed, and despite the fact that he was steadily improving thanks to such effective screening and treatment by the staff, I was overcome with fear of what could have or still could, happen.

Despite Albie’s condition being comparatively mild, it still resulted in a 5-day hospital stay, with a further 5 days of home IV antibiotics once he was well enough. I can’t begin to imagine the hardships families of patients with more serious/long term illnesses must go through, living there with him for just 5 days – being away from Sophie just 9 weeks after we had turned her world upside down by introducing a new baby brother – was agony.

first night at home with cannula for ongoing IV antibiotics

I realise that it sounds odd to see this time of our lives as being ‘lucky’, but what I mean by that is that we were so lucky that we took him to hospital when we did, and didn’t just put it down to post jabs grizzly-ness, because without the team at Nottingham Children’s Hospital, there is a good chance that Albie wouldn’t still be here today.

2) I’m going to sound a bit like a broken record here – but bear (I had to google bear vs bare!) with me… I’m returning to work this week (I may have mentioned that before..?). Anyway, watching Panarama really got me thinking about the impact I have had and will have again when I return to work, it has (re)sparked my love of my job. I have been very negative in my mind (and maybe in this blog) about returning to work, but I have had a bit of an epiphany! I am looking forward to going back to work! All of the negativity comes from first day nerves, being apart from my babies for long stretches (12.5 hour shifts) and the worries around Albie’s unwavering reliance on breast feeding… but all that aside, I am so proud of my career so far, and am actually looking forward to getting back into it!

It has been 11 years since I graduated from the School of Nursing and stepped into my first nursing role, over those years I have learnt so much and have gained an appreciation for how much of a difference a nurse can have in a patients’ journey. I have seen some amazing things over the years, I’m sure there’s plenty ahead too- apart from parenting, there isn’t another job for me!

I think the panorama programme was very informative and worth watching. Allowing the public to have more insight into the severity of illness caused by sepsis as well as the urgency needed for treatment immediately can never be a bad thing.

You can read more about sepsis here:

Sepsis Trust

And meningitis signs and symptoms (it’s not all about a rash…) here:

Meningitis symptoms

For information about Nottingham Children’s hospital charity, and how to donate, have a look here:

Nottingham Children’s Hospital Charity

Ramblings of a sleep deprived mind…

So, I’ve just been looking back on my blog posts over the past month, and have realised that I bang on about my ‘me time’ a lot. When I started blogging I was keen to avoid using it as a platform to go on about my life as a mum (I hate the term ‘mum blogger’) and hoped that I would find some other facets of myself along the way. As a result, I have ended up blogging a lot about the time I spend/have spent away from my babies.

Having the alone time before returning to work has been so novel, especially after having (almost) 10 months of having at least one baby permanently attached (I’m looking at you, Albie).

The thing is though, life is being a mum for me- when I’m with the kids I’m a mum. But I am also a mum when I’m alone and when I’m working. Those little people have taken over my life and I’ve decided I’m ok with that!

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These two take centre stage and that’s the way it should be

As I think we have established, I am a worrier. When I started my blog I worried about lots of things, one of them being that people would think that I’m a) boring, b) showing off or c) unappreciative. Despite writing a blog purely for myself, I still worry about how it will be perceived and the possibility of offending anyone. The trouble is that

a) I don’t find parenting in the least bit boring. Every day is different and challenging, sometimes draining but also exciting because

b) every thing those little people do for the first time makes me want to burst with pride, and share those moments because I love documenting moments in life (even/especially the little ones) and because I’m a chronic oversharer in life generally; and

c) sometimes being mum is really, really tough. Whether it’s sleep deprivation, teething, clingy-ness or tantrums, it’s not all peachy.

I don’t want my blog to be a place where I gush about how much I love them, because to me (and hopefully to them!), it is a given. And let’s face it, life as a parent isn’t always the picture perfect life you see portrayed on social media or even that I imagined when I was blissfully/ignorantly pregnant first time around, but I also don’t want it to be a place where I continuously moan. But I have to be realistic, there probably will be an element of moaning whenever I talk about them (mainly regarding sleep, or more precisely, lack of it).

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how could I ever moan about life with these cuties?!

I find writing about day to day life with the kids the hardest; aside from the fear of being judged all the time, there is a fear that I will let them down somehow- I have pretty much kept a running commentary of their lives so far over on Instagram but writing it down in a blog feels much more personal. And permanent. It’s a whole new world, now that everything is shared and public, and it feels like such a fine line between sharing their lives on the internet vs. sharing my life as their mum.

There’s always something to worry about, you see!

Anyway, now that I’ve got that out of my system, what I wanted to blog (moan…) about is the constant desire to get out of the house. Am I alone in this, or is it normal? Despite the general logistics of getting out of the house with a toddler and a baby, I find staying at home so much harder. I love spending time playing with the two of them, but at home there’s always something else to do, I find myself constantly saying “yes, just let me..” or “I’m just going to… first”. There’s also the added issue of Albie’s nap dodging/unreliable timings/varying lengths, along with the meltdown that generally occurs when he needs or I’ve tried to enforce a nap. When we’re out and about in the pushchair, I just lay him down and he’s out like a light!

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Maybe we should replace the cot with the pushchair….

This weekend has been hard, it’s my last weekend before returning to work- this week- argh!- and we had no firm plans, but if we did, they’d have been blown out of the water any way. We have had 2 poorly babies, resulting in approximately 4 hours sleep per night, 5am starts each morning and clingy/whingy behaviour. Simon and I deal with tiredness in completely opposite ways, he prefers to stay at home to recuperate and rest- I find that almost amusing as being at home is generally the opposite to resting most of the time, and I ‘cope’ by keeping busy and going out and about. But because the kids are poorly and partly because we are too poor to do anything (end of maternity leave!), we stuck with Simon’s preference and stayed home, apart from one little outing to our local town to replace a car key battery…yay! We also had to put off friends of ours from coming to visit as our house is a little box of germs and I didn’t want them taking any home with them.. so it’s just been us.

It’s fair to say Simon has probably had it worst out of all of us, “you always hurt the one you love” rings true after this weekend – sorry Simon! I have found being cooped up challenging enough, but throw sleep deprivation and a clingy/screaming baby into the mix and I am not the best company. Mostly, I really struggle to hold a conversation, particularly if it involves planning of any sort – especially if money or sums are involved… as we were on our little outing to our local town, we were discussing upcoming plans for upcoming nursery fees (so expensive, argh!) and how best to use the 30 free childcare hours that are approaching once Sophie turns 3. The trouble is, though, that I was having a tough enough time concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, without trying to think of kiddivoucher statements or amounts on invoices! Then deciding what to do during the half an hour it took the man at Timpsons to replace the battery.. well, you’d think we were making life decisions comparable to whether or not to have children… the kids were both asleep in the pushchair, but we discussed walking down to the park, looking in some shops and going for a coffee at Costa. In the end we got an ice-cream and walked to the end of the high street and then back again.

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Love you really! xx

This morning i was so desperate to get out that I went for a run. It was really nice to blow away the cobwebs though, to be fair, and it killed some time in what felt like the longest morning ever. And I did it in less time than it took me last week, it’s nice to see some progress.

Blogging has been a really good outlet for me,  I thoroughly enjoy tapping away, and I generally have a clear idea in my mind what it is that I want to blog about. This one has been the exception to the rule, I’m afraid I do get quite talkative when I’m tired, another coping mechanism I guess! I have been struggling to get what I wanted to say across and having to come back and add on separate days has not helped, hopefully when Albie starts sleeping a bit more (I’d happily accept the nights with 1-2 wake ups compared to how it’s been the past few nights…) I will be able to access my brain once more – especially as I’m really going to need it come Thursday when I’ll be at work, wish me (and my colleagues/patients) luck!

Update: alone time so far..

So as I mentioned in a previous blog, my maternity leave has come to an end (cue sobs), BUT I have a few weeks annual leave to take care of before the actual return to work…

In the aforementioned previous blog, I listed some ideas for how I might spend my time. Well, in one week I achieved many of my time off goals, as well as a fabulous trip (or two) to IKEA, leading to some much needed home reorganisation and kitchen cupboard rearrangement (we had our new kitchen 2 years ago, and I am finally starting to put things where they ‘should’ go)
However, today was the pinnacle of my time-off-after-finishing-maternity-leave time off. I went on my solo spa day!
So this morning after a delightful nights sleep (only one wake up!!) and a 5.30am wake up call (thanks Albie), I got the babies ready to go, bundled them in the car and tootled off to the spa. I decided a while ago that I deserved a proper pamper day, so I had a day booked at the Aqua Sana spa at centre parcs in Sherwood Forest. I’m so pleased with my decision, it was amazing, it has been through a major refurbishment so is all swanky and new.
I’m not going to lie, when I first got there I was still in ‘oh my god, I feel so guilty for leaving the babies’ mode and I really didn’t feel relaxed at all. I followed directions to the changing rooms, got into my swimwear and went to put my phone in my robe pocket. There was no robe pocket. Then I checked my phone, no signal. I started panicking at this point (what if the nursery need to get hold of me, etc) (evn though I had told them I would probably not be able to use my phone today, so they should ring Simon if they needed anything…). I decided at this point that there would be no point trying to force myself to enjoy the day, so I took myself back to reception where there was phone signal and gave the nursery a ring. Surprisingly, less than 2 hours since dropping them off, both babies were fine (Albie was actually asleep.!). Once that was out of the way, I felt free enough to get on with my day. So I popped the phone back in my locker, where it remained until lunch time, and headed to get my free (not free, but included in the package) pastry and peppermint tea. I was entitled to have a glass of bubbles, but it never came (wahhhhh!) so after sitting and hoping someone would read my mind and bring me my bubbles, for quite some time, I decided to give up and find some other form of relaxation!

Am I alone in this anxiety? If I was with someone, I would have no problem in asking a waitress whether or not I should have a glass of fizz, but being alone makes me into such a shy person. I think it’s a fear of being judged, but for some reason it wouldn’t occur to me if I was with someone.

Anyway, once I hit the spa – I headed for the Nordic sauna first, after much dithering –  it took approximately 5 minutes to start relaxing. I actually nearly fell asleep in the sauna but stopped myself as I didn’t want to die of heat stroke given that I was alone and there would be no-one to wake me… (again, ridiculous thoughts when I’m alone!). I think I sampled all of the lovely steam rooms/saunas/jacuzzis/showers – there were so many, including the new tree house sauna that is on stilts in the forest and actually shakes as people cross the bridge (some people seemed to find this distressing, I didn’t mind) and has amazing views of the surrounding area. Then after a quick dip in the pool, I headed to my locker to grab my trashy mags and then found myself a cocoon style bed, curled up under a big fluffy blanket and managed to read half of ‘maimed by love rat ex’ before falling asleep. I didn’t sleep for long, I think the sound of somebody’s squelching flip-flops woke me, but it was just as well, as it was time for lunch.

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View from my comfy napping spot

By the time I got for lunch, I had put away my anxieties about looking like a fool or being judged, I even managed to pluck up the courage to ask for my glass of bubbles! I sat and ate my meal (yummy lasagne and salad) and drank my drink without any ridiculous thoughts occuring to me. Proving that all of my anxieties can be cured with an expensive spa day, and alcohol.

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you don’t ask, you don’t get (despite the bright green wristband)…

After lunch, and in quite a pleasant haze, I headed off for my treatment. Now it’s been a while since I booked my treatment so I couldn’t remember the exact name for what I was having done (a pedicure is a pedicure to me, I’m afraid); that coupled with alchohol at lunch time, sleep deprivation (one night doesn’t make up for 9 months, okay?) and being in a complete state of relaxation, led to an unfortunate and embarrassing series of events:

Therapist: “are you my 2 o’clock pedicure booked…”

Me: (excitedly): “yes!”

Therapist: escorts me to very posh and comfortable seat and commences filing my nails and general chatter…

2 ladies apparently named ‘Jones’: “we’ve arrived for our 2 o’clock pedicures, booked under ‘Jones'”

Therapist: Looks confused, then (to me) “what’s your name?”

Me: realising that as I excitedly said “yes”, the therapist went on to say “booked under Jones?” (clearly the excitement and all the excuses I mentioned above made me forget who I am). “Errr, Holly Brazier….”

Therapist: after a little bit of clarification and checking the form I’d filled out and the appointments list, “ahh you’re in for a file and polish, not a pedicure, this way please…”

Me: “oh”, slightly red faced I did the walk of shame to the slightly less posh and comfortable chair (it didn’t even have a headrest, the other one reclined!).

Still, my toes now look very lovely and, ahem, summer ready… sigh.

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Enjoying the Jones’ luxury pedicure for a moment before I was found out..

Once I had finished the treatment, I headed back to change as it was 3pm by this point and though I could have happily gone and enjoyed the whole place for a few more hours, it was time to go… Still, I thoroughly enjoyed a leisurely shower – a shower that actually provided some water pressure, no less. And getting dressed at my own pace, though, despite birthing 2 babies and regularly ‘getting my boobs out’ in public to feed Albie, I still find communal changing rooms highly uncomfortable, so not quite at my own pace. And a gentle stroll through sherwood forest back to my car, it really is so beautiful there. I really want to go on holiday to centre parcs now!

I arrived home and in my relaxed state, pottered around doing little chores so I wouldn’t have to once I had the kiddies, then headed back out to collect them from nursery. Then I was awoken from my relaxed state, they’re. so. loud.

They both had a lovely day, so I am feeling relieved and less worried (particularly about Albie) as they do seem to be settling into 2 days a week really well. But they both missed me, and the 2 hours between me picking them up and them going to bed was…. intense. Albie wanted to make up for his day with no milk (he still won’t take ANY form of milk from ANY other source) and Sophie spotted my newly decorated toes, so of course wanted hers to “match”, everything has to match at the moment.

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matching toes

So, I’m now half way through my annual leave, with 3 days of freedom left! I can’t believe that in 2 weeks time, I will have just finished my first day back at work – I know that I will enjoy going back as I love my job – but I really wish I had a bit longer….