Saturday, 5 April 2014

A year ago...

...I was expecting, overdue, walked a lot, ate tremendous amounts of pineapple, run the stairs up and down, tried to relax.... and the baby was not coming!!!
Every day I find myself thinking about a year ago. Our first birthday is coming soon. Baby is growing four teeth at the moment - the bigger ones at the back so we are struggling a little but at least there are more of them popping at once so theoretically it should spare us some future sleepless nights?
We discovered Nurofen for babies. Works (luckily only needed it couple of times but it is nice to know it is there at next 3am wake up scream).

Besides that, I am trying to sort some exercise routine and be more mindful about what I eat and how I relax. Baby is very mobile, figuring out how to stand, crawling at the speed of light. Whenever I try to do something for myself - exercise, type, meditate, baby sees it as an invitation to the great 'lets climb mummy' game. So planning is as far as I can get to a routine.

I am also studying history and practicalities of Britain and being British. How difficult it is to concentrate on anything and not to fall a sleep over the handbook? We decided to become British once baby got its British passport and we realized that each member of our family has got a different passport and nationality. It makes sense, we belong here more than anywhere and baby deserves some proper roots. It has been a while since I tried to memorize important dates and names and it is interesting how differently some big events in history were experienced - like the world wars for example. I am doing trial tests online and often wonder how well would real Brits do if they had to sit one of these tests tomorrow.

I am still crazy broody. Expecting third period soon, munching on Doritos and wondering why husband and I argued three times this week. Baby making attempt: one. Whole One!!! It felt like being seventeen all over again. Back then we would be sneaking around looking for a place, all crazy in love and hormones flowing. Now we are sneaking around trying not to wake up baby, feeling blessed that for a change it is asleep after 8pm so we are not comatose and able to enjoy the greatest 3 minutes of our lives. And as when I was seventeen, I again wonder: what is all the fuss about? Anyway, we will be trying to steal more moments as I am definitely not pregnant.

Will update next month on progress and whether I managed to pass the test. Can not wait to be a royal subject. Is it the right term?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

For the Love of My Body

While I am busy thinking about trying for baby number two, I only now realized how grateful I am for my new body. Pregnancy changes us a lot, being a mother brings out a whole new identity, a person we didn't know we were.

I was amazed by how much my body can do. I created, nurtured and birthed a baby. One sperm and one egg met and the building work began. I loved being pregnant and I remember how I used to plan my post baby regime: I knew I will be very active and busy, breastfeeding on top of it. I never worried about weight and diets, I am quite lucky in that sense and years of dancing gave me good body confidence - I know what I can expect from myself. Yet I might have been a little naive. Knowing I will be a stay at home mum, I thought I will have the extra time for more workouts, I never had a problem with individual training or with working out at home. I don't need a gym or a friend, quite the opposite, I even opted for private yoga classes as my luxury while pregnant. In my eyes, I saw days when I will not have to be anywhere at certain time, I knew I can organize the household and I assumed even caring for my baby will allow me some spare time.

How wrong I was. Baby care is more or less 24/7 as I am blessed with a baby who doesn't nap very likely and who breastfed almost non-stop. House work somehow ballooned, it never ends. And I didn't know how tired I will be. So, no, I do not use my fancy workout DVDs 3 times a week and I didn't gain a better body post baby. I also didn't shed all my not so good habits, quite an opposite. I now love my morning coffee (used to be hot lemon in the morning), I survived the first months only thanks to lots of sweet teas and chocolate digestives and I will have occasional glass of wine. I was very health conscious while trying to conceive, I assumed I will only become better. I didn't know I will be merely surviving and in a need of many rewards.

So no, I don't have a six pack yet, but yes, I can pass with a body that is back in its pre-pregnancy shape, healthy and strong. And while I still breastfeed mornings and nights, it is slowly but surely becoming mine again. It was strange not to be my own person after I gave birth. Now I am claiming myself back and I can not help but wonder: how will I cope with intimacy? I am aware of the amazing job my body can do, but I am not aware of any sensuality, only desire to go through the madness of reproduction again.

Few days back, my husband looked at some old photos and commented on my then blond hair, how different I was. Yet I couldn't get an opinion out of him. Did he like me more then or does he like me now? I always thought I did things for me: coloured my hair because I liked it, pierced my belly button because I wanted to, had my facials and massages to care for myself. But did I really do it for me or was it an unconscious calculating behavior adopted in order to attract a partner? And is my recent return to simplicity and natural look coming from me - tired of the dictate of beauty pages and trends, disinterested in the style of my favorite celebrity (I can't even name my favorite celebrity, I couldn't care less about them) and more confident within myself, or am I letting myself go because I secured a partner and had a child - mission completed?

I stopped colouring my hair shortly after my wedding because I simply wanted to see again what colour it actually was. I made less money, so I simplified my beauty regime, I found out what makes me happy and comfortable at the same time, and sometimes after I turned 33 I realized I don't care anymore if I am the prettiest/skinniest/most attractive girl in the room. I actually very happily passed the torch to the next generation once I noticed that they care much more then I do and that I look at them with sympathy and warmth, not with suspicion and competitive spirit. Shopping for clothes annoys me and sucks energy out of me so I only buy what I need. Healthy living and good cleansing routine means I don't need so much pampering anymore - plus I don't have the time or money. I like my hair long and naturally brown and I learned how to cut it myself because it is fairly simple to do on long hair plus when I want to cut 5 centimeters I make sure I cut 5 and nobody is talking me into colouring my hair red after I stated I don't want colour, or pushes me into unnecessary visit in 6 weeks time. Simple life gives me all the freedom - I still have enough clothes, accessories and makeup to play with if I feel like it but I don't worry about simplicity because it doesn't define who I am.

I can focus on things I find really important plus I feel I know myself and respect myself. But am I letting the world or my partner down? Am I supposed to be the sexy goddess he felt in love with forever? But was I ever one? Why do we have to define ourselves by the way we look so much? I don't think men care as much as we think. Half time they are unaware of all our efforts or any changes we agonize over anyway and comment on my change was simply that - a comment. With long term relationship and young family comes new sense of comfort - not a lazy one but a practical one. We know each other inside out and we are comfortable around each other all natural. Other people may feel very differently about all that but that is their life and they choose partners who find the same thing crucial. I, for one, don't mind to be settled and makeup free.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Back on Track

Out of nowhere came an urge to dust off electric hair rollers and make up bag, I even found myself considering the possibilities of applying nail polish with an overactive baby around. During the last 10 months my maintenance was pretty simple. I don't see the point to put on makeup for home, I need easy hairstyle that keeps my hair out of reach of grabby little fingers, and when I go out I have to get baby ready and by the time that happens I just throw on something comfortable and head out. I go out to  walk or to the shop anyway, so again, what is the point of makeup and hair styling?

Occasionally, I do find myself planning to make more effort from tomorrow but then baby throws in one of its legendary no sleeping nights and I am happy to brush my hair. I am a housewife. I clean, cook, bake, do laundry and most of all I care for baby. Baby is moving around, I am much busier and have rarely time to do something without assistance. Right now, baby is sitting on my lap. There are toys and some more toys on the floor, but no, not as good as chewing on my pen.

Anyway. I did manage to get the rollers on my hair without my baby trying to eat any of them or grab them. And I did play with drying pot of eyeliner. And then it occurred to me. I may be ovulating.

On my six weeks check (or contraception speech, they might as well send a video link) the doctor explained that while breastfeeding full time my periods may stop and I will not be able to get pregnant until they return. To live without periods during pregnancy was one of the perks, to have not to worry about them for few more months was great. But last month, all of a sudden, there it was again. We are weaning our baby and feeds are less frequent, so I am clearly getting back to normal. Two weeks later, here I am getting all pretty.

My life is slowly returning to me, my body will be mine once my baby is weaned of my breast for good. Baby is a little person now, gaining independence and I find myself discussing baby number two with husband. Then we don't sleep again and wonder why do we want to go through it one more time. But the desire is there, and time is not on our side, if we are meant to have more children, we have to start trying to conceive.

It feels such a long time ago that we went through it with baby and it wasn't easy. We had functional sex for few years - sex with purpose. And I notice that beside trying for baby number two there is no desire whatsoever. We are both tired, too tired to be romantic, to do things just because. I sometimes wonder if he can still see me as a sexual being after being present during the birth (and thanks to prolonged labour and broken bed in the hospital he had to support my leg for a while when I was pushing so unfortunately, he saw the whole deal...). And caring for baby left me feeling different. My breasts are not erotic, they are practical. My body is a tool. Pleasure is a good meal I don't have to cook and a full night sleep. I want to be left alone without anybody climbing on top of me, not to be close to other person... How am I supposed to spark romance in me?? How did I do it before??

Relationships change and evolve and since we settled as partners and friends I noticed how much less importance sex actually has. I think people overvalue it anyway and when I compare my previous relationships, sex was often the only thing that mattered. I didn't have partners before - I had boyfriends or lovers. It was important to be attractive, and when seeing each other only once in a while, sex was often the main thing about the meeting. Living together makes things different. We know each other, see each other in the best and the worst moments, we go through them together. We have future together and are not afraid to talk about it. Values are different and the passion can not last forever. I remember how husband used to stare at me all the time, kept asking me what I do, where did I go, what do I think... I don't think I could stand such intensity for too long.

Having a child means that we are both very busy and tired and we bicker and argue. Sometimes we actually hate each others guts. There were moments when I wondered how can I stay, and my head was trying to plot and escape plan. And then these moments pass and we are together again, a simple smile or a gesture, a touch, can make everything better and something primal deep down inside me reminds me that all is well, that we are meant to be together.

I don't know how it will work out. But I am looking forward to the ride.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Pearls of Wisdom

Christmas over, new year running smoothly, I even won £2.80 in euro millions lottery (would love bit more zeros there but hey, at least I know that it works). I can look at my little family with satisfaction. We made it! We had our very first Christmas and it was great.

To make good Christmas means: buying gifts early enough not to be pressed to buy stupid things and to avoid crowded shops, plan food, drinks, shopping and stick to the plan. Plan meetings and visits. Spend week before Christmas with cleaning, baking, cooking, decorating, preparing. It is hard work. I love to do it. It makes me feel good when I see the house ready, all is done, Christmas is here and I can finally relax. I don't mind the hard work, the excitement of Christmas and the completely lazy days afterwards are very much worth it.

I learned to plan and stick to my plan and husband usually tries to change it, do something later, add something on... This year, on Saturday 22nd, just 2 days before Christmas Eve, when I was about to make my special sweets and truffles in between feeds and nappy changes and baby entertainment, he contemplated visiting the Christmas market for one last day so we can catch up with friends. When I listed all the work ahead he just shared this pearl of wisdom with me: 'It will work out just fine at the end. It always does. They (he named 2 friends' families who knew very well how long the market was on) didn't have chance to go yet and it would be nice to catch up and enjoy.'
'Of course it always does work out at the end, of course that Christmas always happens. And you know why? Because I bloody work my ass off every year!!!!!'

Well, we didn't go to the market at the end and Christmas happened. Husband bought the tree and put it into the stand I ordered in advance knowing he now loves bigger trees which don't look like big plants and give you the illusion you could live in your garden happily ever after once Christmas is over. Otherwise, I can proudly announce he still assumes elves do more than helping Santa, he was just amused by all the festivities and since I managed so well, why do more, right? I am looking forward the post festive clean up while he is back at work and getting ready for conference in Mexico, the poor thing. And before you sat something, I did ask for help. But he was so very busy and on the last weekend he had to do his Christmas shopping because the overcrowded shops are part of the magic - better to face hundreds annoying shoppers than one demanding wife!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

8 months

In my head, I expected to be a very organized mother by 8 months. I thought baby will not have many ways of surprising me. I was wrong.
Apparently, even 8 months old have troubles. If they are not teething (have 6 good teeth, lets take a break), they may suffer from separation anxiety or have a disturbed sleep due to their fast development. I don't know which one it is in our case but we are not sleeping. Again. Up at 1, 3, 5 am and feeds are very much expected.
We are co-sleeping. It is the only way to get baby to sleep. It started sometimes in September, during the teething times. Suddenly, my child developed a radar which made it aware of its body approaching the cot while fast asleep in our arms. Baby screamed murder. The only way to get it to sleep at night (and I mean at night 10 - 11 pm, we don't do early bedtimes in our house) was to breastfeed or hold half sleeping child after the hopefully last feed. So I wasn't very keen on yet another feed and negotiation over lying in cot. I slipped baby next to me in our bed. And baby slept. It was supposed to be temporary. But nobody has the energy to persist with the cot, it is still a big enemy of our darling child.
We pretty much don't do naps unless on top of me or in a pram - maybe. When I have no chance to go out due to mountain of house work or bad weather, there is no chance. During the day even our bed is making sleeping child to wake up and get hysterical.
Baby is very mobile, practices all fours, but who needs crawling when it is possible to roll all over the place and grab everything and anything that is not suitable for children. I am so busy....
I had to swallow my pride and ask a health visitor to give me some advice. Dinner, bath and story don't work. Baby is manic till 11, expects company and entertainment, there is no calming down. I am still seriously lacking me time and relationship with husband is taking its toll. We are tired, don't manage to do all we want to and need to do and tiredness makes us argue. In one way, we are great team, in the other way, we hate each others' guts.
So after being mother for 8 months, I am not sure I know what I am doing. But I manage to do much more than I could some 6 or 7 months ago, I am physically back where I was before pregnancy and I have a baby that is healthy, strong, beautiful and developing nicely. So all is not bad in the house of terror.
I am thinking a lot about my past, my life that was and I think I should go back and reflect, to stretch my creativity a little. Lets hope I will be able to do this in the following weeks. Also, I should make more effort to keep in touch with other mums, talk to people and tweet some amazing words.
This month, my challenge is much simpler. I decided to look after myself more. I style my hair and try to do a little bit of make up, take more care about my appearance. In my head, I would do something different every day and take a selfie. Reality: I do what I can, as usually, I don't do much when I don't really sleep and tracksuit is still the outfit of choice. But my beauty regime is much better and my skin is thankful.
Anyway, enough for today, somebody is getting impatient while busy trying to soil the carpet. Where are the times baby would lie on the changing mat giving me a break?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

50 000 words later

My inbox is filled with pep talks, yet it took me almost two weeks to realize that nanowrimo started again. I did think about it every now and then but I was quite sure I will not make this year. Then I didn't even manage to remember it.
I have very fond memories of last year. Pregnant, starting to get uncomfortable if sitting for longer period of time, I wrote my 50000 words in one month. It was great. I think lots of women experience sudden spur of creativity and desire to organize stuff during their pregnancy, I had a strong urge to get on with my writing. It was a good idea. After nano I took a break in December and then, shortly before my due date, I finished a draft of my novel.
In my head, I expected to be busy once I had the baby. I thought I will need to recover after birth, get over the first weeks, slowly set some sort of routine and finally return to writing. Yes, nice thoughts indeed.
Baby is seven months old. There is no routine. When a hope for one started to appear during summer teething started and is more or less constantly present in our lives. We have times of peace when I am gathering strength and times of teething when baby is very unpredictable, needy, sleepless.....
So I am coping with running the house expect for cooking - evenings are too busy for mummy still breastfeeding. But I did bake couple of nice cakes! I do have an occasional exercise, manage to maintain simple beauty routine, but my book is still lying on the bottom of the drawer. I do hope to fit some reasonable time for writing into my routine soon, but so far even to post a blog is a challenge.
How do all the women who publish or start a business while on maternity leave do it? How do the perfectly put together mums on the street find the time? Not everybody is coping alone, some have their mothers and sisters and friends near by and it makes a big difference.
Besides writing, I am also realizing that it is a year since I joined twitter and facebook in order to keep up with nano and what was going on generally. I am as hopeless at this simplified version of communication as I am with real friendships. Again: where do all the mums find time to hang on all the networks and chat? Every couple of days (or weeks), I try to catch up with what is going on, save some interesting articles to read 'later' and very very occasionally I manage to post an update or tweet. I can not be bothered to be constantly on smart phone taping away and lots of ideas for clever funny remarks are missed, but at least I still see the world around me and don't ignore it as majority of people out there hung over their precious gadgets.
Not only do I have a pile of books to read, I also have a pile of magazines and interesting Sunday papers columns by the bed. Baby feeds for shorter periods of time which means no more long reads in the small hours. Thank goodness for i player, I can not watch TV in real time, I need to pause and do what is needed when it is needed.
In one way, I find it quite refreshing not to be up to date with what is going on in the world. Most of the things don't really matter in the day to day existence. I am locked up in a parenting bubble and see the world through the eyes of a baby who is trying to make sense of all the new things around. I find mothering rewarding and interesting. Now, at seven months, the progress is really fast, baby learns something new every day, I wouldn't want to miss it. I am as much needed as in the first weeks if not more.
Yet I would love to be able to get some me time and write again. An hour a day, nothing more. Husband goes to work and it is work, I know, and sometimes when he is leaving and I am there with a laughing baby, he seems quite jealous. Of course, he doesn't see the endless washing loads, the negotiations around house chores, and the endless feeding and nappy changing, but he doesn't understand that he does get his time out, away from it all. Even when he entertains baby in the evening he tends to come over to me and engage me, or leave the baby with me too soon because he has got some emails/calls/whatever else to do. He wants us to socialize more, I really need some ME time. He thinks I have got me time all the time.... We argue when we don't get enough sleep and rest, the arguments are over stupidest little things and don't last.
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of other mums together in coffee shops, or partners with pram and at the very moment I see them they seem so sorted and happy. I must remind myself that many people who see me with my baby assume the same, that nothing is at it seems, everybody has good and bad days, good and bad moments. Altogether my life is good. I just really need to sort out some writing time....

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Already???

I love  Christmas. It is a very special time of a year, time to be with the loved ones, connect with those who are important to us, time to slow down and enjoy the end of the year and the beginning of the new one. Part of Christmas is decorating the home, preparing nice food, giving and receiving presents. During the weeks leading to Christmas I get the feeling that the stuff and endless spending are the most important part of the holidays and it annoys me. Comes boxing day and sales craziness (I've never been to the shops on that day, just watching it on news gives me reason not to leave the sofa), it seems the holiday is only an excuse for yet more consumption.
It usually starts right after Halloween, the shops clear the scary things and the treats and in comes the Christmas theme. With each week the pressure builds.
I thought I was used to it. It's part of the deal, retailers need to make money. But this year I feel annoyed. Only at the end of September did I walk right into a display of advent calendars placed very conveniently right against the entrance to Morrisons. As if to 'gently' remind us that before we even started autumn we should begin our count down to the spending time...
Week after that Tesco displayed first few shelves of cards and wrapping papers probably for the part of population who can not wait to wrap the presents and write some cards.
Now every year people say that Christmas produce and offers come sooner and sooner and I always thought I know how it works - January is about sales, then we have Valentine, Easter, summer stuff, Mothers' and Fathers' days thrown in between, summer sale, back to school, Halloween, Christmas... But this year is a little different and it threw me out of balance.
Why all the pressure? Retailers must know that people will spend money on Christmas, they do every year. No matter how tough the times are, people either budget or simply go crazy with their credit cards. So why can they not let us breathe and look forward to the special time of the year?
This will be our first Christmas with baby and I am looking forward to it. Baby will not be aware of anything, we have got a chance to have really great time, be together without compering what we bought . We will be lazy or have some nice long walks - depending on weather and mood. No matter what the advertisers throw at me, no matter how early in the year they start, I will not get crazy and start redecorating the house, buying bigger and better telly and zillions of useless gifts. Our food will be home cooked and our sweets will be home baked, because this is part of the celebrations. Preparations for Christmas are as great as Christmas itself, if not more. Our decorations will stay the same because they carry memories. Maybe I am not making my bit for the recovering economy but I refuse to give in to the dictate of spend spend spend and I hope I will bring up a child who doesn't measure its success with things or money. I still remember how I loved Christmas as a child and I will do my best to make this time of the year special for my child and family, but the secret is that I do not need more stuff in order to have great holidays.