Thursday 31 March 2016

DIY Disaster: The Time We Sanded The Floorboards

We spent the Easter weekend knee deep in DIY. Well, I say we, I’ll be honest and say that my input was pretty minimum. I helped with what I could, but am a big fan of using pregnancy as my get out of work free card. We sanded and painted our bedroom floorboards and they look so beautiful that I still won’t let anyone in there for fear of ruining them. Since we had the sander for the weekend, we decided to try and get another room done as well.

Doing our bedroom was reasonably straightforward (if you ignore the fact that the first sander we hired broke mid-sanding and put a big dent in the floor), but things became more and more complicated as the weekend went on. Oak Furniture UK recently carried out a survey and found that as many as a quarter of us have abandoned flat pack furniture projects when things got tough. I’ve never given up on a flat pack project, but there were so many moments when we wanted to give up this weekend. I’m glad we didn’t though, because even though the job isn’t finished yet, I can already tell it’s going to be well worth the effort.

The plan is to switch the living room and playroom round before the baby arrives in August (you can follow my pregnancy updates here). In preparation for this, we decided to sand the floors in there. This seemed like a good idea but has proven to be a humongous ballache. When I pulled up the carpet, I found that the entire floor was covered in 1960s thick vinyl tiles (orange and beige, before you ask why we didn’t just keep them). It took about a day to pull all these up (I think mostly because pregnancy makes me very slow), and then we discovered quite a bit of cement over the floorboards which had to be chipped off. It wasn’t fun, but we (Laurie) eventually managed it.

After that, we had a room of what we thought were black painted floorboards which we decided to sand. Only it wasn’t paint, it was tar. Thick, black tar coating all of the floorboards (not just the edges of the room like I keep reading about online). The wonderful thing about tar is that it immediately melts when the electric sander heats up, and clogs up the entire sander belt rendering it unusable. Great, right? We could have given up then, probably we should have, but instead we persevered.

My wonderful mum and dad came over with supplies (biscuits and a fancy wire brush drill attachment) and helped Laurie to remove as much tar as possible. The job didn’t get finished in time, but by the end of the day, we could see that this pipe dream was possible. With a little bit of hard work, we’d be able to get the floorboards sanded nicely. So, for the next couple of weeks, Laurie’s plan is to clear the tar from a floorboard or two a night. Once they’re all done, we’ll hire a floor sander again to finish the room. I’m hoping we’ll get it done soon, but I’m also making a concerted effort to stay well clear of the tar remover fumes so it’s not really up to me.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Pregnancy Update: 20 Weeks

At 20 weeks, the baby is the size of a paper aeroplane. What size paper aeroplane? I don’t know, my app did not specify. Could be a tiny post-it sized aeroplane or an A1 aeroplane, I have no idea. This is actually less clear than the bizarre fruit references on other pregnancy apps.

So, 20 weeks. People keep excitedly pointing out that I’m halfway through. Except I’m not really, am I? I didn’t even find out I was pregnant until I was almost four weeks and that doesn’t feel like yesterday so halfway through is a big depressing. There is ages still to go and lots of stretching yet to be done.

We had our scan at 20 weeks, I was feeling really nervous about the whole thing but it all went well. Although why do they have to be so aggressive when they try to turn the baby? My bump was aching all night after being prodded so much. The baby did not want to show their spine, but after the sonographer violently attacked me with the probe for 20 minutes, they eventually shifted.

We didn’t find out the sex. Ebony came with us to the scan and held my hand throughout. She was wearing blue dungarees and the sonographer thought she was a boy, so I didn’t feel her chance of getting the sex of the baby inside my tummy was particularly high. We always knew we wouldn’t find out, I loved finding out Ebony was a girl straight after the birth and can’t imagine finding out in a scan room is quite as exciting.

This week has mostly been about hip pain. We spent the Easter bank holiday doing DIY and that has really taken its toll on my poor aching pelvis. I’m hoping the pain will disappear over the next few days and until then, I’m taking it easy. I spent quite a bit of the weekend stooped over floorboards pulling tiles up or trying to get tar off (not fun at all) and it has totally ruined my back. I keep seizing up like a pensioner.

Whilst I was hunched over the floor trying to get the tar off (but mostly accidentally chipping the floorboards), Ebony was doing a workbook. In it, she was asked to draw a picture of her and her best friend. She almost drew her friend from nursery but then changed her mind and drew a picture of herself cuddling the new baby. I shed some tears, of course (and not because the baby appears to have three eyes).

The baby is still moving around lots, especially at night. The movements are growing bigger and more powerful all the time, though Ebony still hasn’t felt them. I tried again this week but she looked at me sympathetically and explained that she couldn’t feel them because the baby wasn’t in her tummy.

After a full weekend of sorting the house out, I spent most of yesterday afternoon asleep. Me and Ebony snuggled up in bed and stuck Brave on the laptop, and I napped while she watched the movie. She kept having to wake me up when the tiler shouted me, he probably thinks me a terribly neglectful mother.

Missed my 19 week update? Read it here.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Pregnancy Update: Week 19

Ok, this week the baby is the size of a Gameboy. I highly recommend downloading the Ovia pregnancy app and setting it to toys and games, because this is way more fun than random fruits. The baby started moving around loads more during week 19, and those nudges are getting pretty strong now so Laurie can feel them more often. Ebony still hasn’t felt them because she has no staying power and quickly announces she can’t feel anything before running off to play something else.

The baby has spent most of the week squeezing my bladder, or that’s what it feels like anyway. I don’t sleep anymore because I wake up every hour to pee. Sometimes, whilst stumbling to the bathroom yet again, I think how clever it is that my body is preparing me for the constant night wakings of the newborn period. And then I remember that, actually, when that happens you have to breastfeed for like 45 minutes a time so you actually never get any sleep and then I stop feeling sorry for myself about having to pee so often.

I am slowly acquiring more and more pillows in the bed. I currently have one between my legs (Laurie has asked that I stop referring to this one as my ‘fanny pillow’, but I really feel like, when you consider what it is soon to go through, it deserves a pillow). And I also have one for my bump, this one is really to act as a shield because Ebony keeps getting into my bed and then either right hooking me in the face or kicking me in the stomach. I’m hoping she’s asleep when this happens but it’s very dark so I can’t say for sure that she doesn’t just hate me.

The pillow collection and increasing risk of violence mean that I am really really looking forward to getting a new bed. Our bedroom is currently half stripped and awaiting some floor sanding and plastering before I can embark on operation super king. When the bed arrives, I will feel only joy and nothing will ever be able to make me sad or angry, because I will have all the sleeping room in the world. And the bed will be so big it will basically fill our entire bedroom and mean I have less distance to walk during my hourly bathroom trips.

I am still feeling big but my bump hasn’t actually gotten any bigger this week, and I think I look relatively acceptable until I put my coat on which immediately makes me look eight months pregnant. If you’re hoping to fake a pregnancy, I would recommend buying a Red Herring maternity coat because the one I have could make anyone look pregnant. Seriously.

I’m still feeling exhausted, I just don’t seem to be able to get enough sleep. I think between the bathroom trips and the right hooks, I’m just not quite getting my eight hours. I seem to experience a lull in energy late afternoon and it’s really hard work forcing myself to make dinner, read stories and get Ebony to bed on time. She’s been choosing lots of baby-related bedtime stories this week so that’s been lovely. I love seeing how excited she is about the new baby. She’s really understanding when I’m tired and always gives me cuddles if I’m feeling uncomfortable.

My PGP/SPD/crotch pain has been a little worse the past couple of days. I think I’ve been overdoing it a little with stripping wallpaper and trying to get the house sorted and I definitely find myself paying the price in the evenings. But it’s still not as bad as it was last time so I’m staying positive. The maternity belt I bought from Mothercare has gone missing and I’m really feeling the difference when I walk. It was only £12 but has definitely been worth every penny, if you’re struggling with pelvic pains, I’d definitely recommend it. I think mine is lost in our upside down room so I’m really hoping I can find it soon.

Missed my 18 week update? Catch up here.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Some Thoughts on Ebony Becoming a Big Sister

During my first pregnancy, I spent the entire nine months in a deep panic. I was terrified that I would be rubbish at being a mum. I felt sure that I would mess things up and that I wouldn’t know what I was doing. I had so many vivid dreams during pregnancy about trying and failing to be a mother. In most of them, I couldn’t feed the baby and so the baby would just get smaller and smaller until it disappeared. I was so worried about what parenthood would be like.

And then Ebony was born and all of that fear melted away. I realised that yeah, ok, I didn’t exactly know what I was doing, but neither did this helpless little baby, She wasn’t judging me. As long as she was fed and loved, she was happy. My previous worries about whether I would bond with the baby suddenly seemed ridiculous. As soon as she was placed into my arms, my whole world changed forever. My heart grew three sizes and I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging, I had finally found my place in the world. I felt like I was born to be her mother. Nothing else had ever been important as this challenge. She was my everything and I wanted to be the very best version of myself for her every day.

Becoming Ebony’s mama was the making of me. Together, we found our footing. Being a mother isn’t always easy, in fact, sometimes it’s really bloody hard. But it is always a privilege. I feel so lucky to be Ebony’s mother. She is truly my best friend. Ever since she first learned to string a few words together, she has been my favourite person to speak to. She comes out with some crazy things and I’m glad I get to be the one to hear them. We are in sync with one another and I love that.

The thought of adding another child into the mix is quite terrifying. Sometimes it can difficult enough with one, why would we have another?! At first, I could only think about the newborn days. I love the newborn days. I love having a teeny tiny person who is completely and utterly dependent on me. I love hibernating at home with my newborn and just focusing on getting to know each other. I love that feeling of invincibility after birth and the power of being able to nourish a baby. I love the smell, the cuddles and the hours spent napping together. And that’s all I thought about for the first few weeks of the pregnancy.

Then I started to think about Ebony. I started to think about what an amazing big sister she would be. She loves babies and is always really gentle with them. She’s always excited to see the baby brothers and sisters of her friends and will happily play with them to try and keep them up. She’s so kind and loving towards me and I realised I couldn’t wait to see her treat the new baby the same way. She started telling me about all the things she will do with the new baby and all the things she will be in charge of teaching it. My excitement grew as I imagined the three of us snuggled up together after school, chatting about Ebony’s day while the baby fed.

And then I started to think about Ebony a little more. I started to think about how having a sibling isn’t wonderful all of the time. How sometimes they ruin your games, break your toys and spoil your fun. How they steal the attention you have been so used to enjoying by yourself. How they start to determine the schedule so you can’t do whatever you want, whenever you want it anymore. And then I started to worry. What if the transition from only child to big sister is more difficult than I was anticipating? What if she isn’t happy when the new baby arrives? What if she longs for the way it used to be? What will I say to her then? Will I even notice that she’s feeling that way when I’m sleep deprived and breastfeeding and completely hormonal?

We talk about the new baby a lot, usually because she has brought the subject up. She has quite a few books about new babies and, of course, she has spent time with babies. But is that enough? Is there any way to really prepare a child for the birth of a baby? I mean, I didn’t feel at all prepared for the birth of my baby when I was 25, so it seems a bit much to expect Ebony to at four. Is she even really capable of imagining how things might change when we become a family of four?

How did you prepare your only child for the birth of a sibling? Are there any books you would recommend? Did you do anything you felt worked really well? Or anything that didn’t? Any advice gratefully received!

Wednesday 16 March 2016

My Vegan Easter Haul 2016

I thought I’d write a little post about Easter and what we’ll be eating to celebrate as a vegan family. We’re not religious, so Easter is all about chocolate for me. When Ebony was younger, I used to buy her carob Easter eggs as a way of avoiding the sugar in chocolate. These days, I’m not quite so strict, but do still make an effort to limit her sugar consumption. For this reason, other people tend to buy her Easter presents that are free from chocolate. For example, my parents have bought her a swimming costume and my Nanny usually buys her tights. My Nanny doesn’t know that there is such a thing as vegan chocolate and thinks that depriving a child of chocolate is child abuse, but Ebony is always really pleased with her tights.

Ebony won’t be deprived of chocolate, in fact she already has more than I really feel comfortable with. I decided to buy a little extra this year so I could send things into nursery in case they give out chocolate around Easter. I don’t really like the thought of her missing out, so I’ve sent in some small solid chocolate eggs for her.

Ebony’s main egg is a Sainsbury’s free from egg. I bought it from the Sainsbury’s local down the road and it cost about £2.75. It’s small which I’m pleased about, I’m not really keen on the idea of giving her an egg big enough to hold a month’s worth of sugar. Whilst I was there, I also picked up one of these Choices Easter bunny bars for little more than £1. I’m always pleased to see how many vegan products are stocked in the tiny Sainsbury’s in the tiny place I live.

I also bought some Divine dark chocolate eggs. Divine chocolate is Fairtrade so I don’t need to feel guilty about child labour and unfair working conditions (wondering why your Easter egg might be responsible for child labour? Read this). The Divine eggs are small, individually wrapped solid dark chocolate eggs. We use them for an Easter egg hunt in the garden, it’s a family tradition (you can see last year’s vegan Easter egg hunt here). I read you could buy them from Tesco, but they didn’t have any when we looked so I placed an order with Vegan Town.

I also bought myself a Choices chocolate egg. I love the caramel cups it comes with, so that’s why I decided to have this egg for myself. Laurie isn’t huge on chocolate, so I just bought him some vegan creme eggs. I again ordered them from Vegan Town, so I don’t know what they’ll be like yet. I’ve had the Lakeland Ethical Treats creme eggs before and they’re really good, but they seemed to be out of stock everywhere when I placed my order.

For something a little different, I also bought a couple of Easter chocolate lollies from Vegan Snacks Sorted. These were only £1 each so I thought they were a pretty good price, although you have to pay delivery on top. I think that’s the one downside to veganism, it ends up costing a fortune in delivery charges because so many things are easier to order online. I think the Easter lollies will make a great addition to our outdoor Easter egg hunt this year.

Finally, I’ve just noticed that Amanda’s Foods have brought out a new vegan wagon wheel with honeycomb, so I’m off to order one of those for myself now. I love her wagon wheels, they’re so tasty. I’m really hoping that one day she’ll bring out either a Tunnock’s teacake style vegan product or, my personal favourite, a Snowball.  

Oh, and because not everything should be made of sugar, she’s also got this paint your own Easter egg kit. The egg is ceramic and the kit came from Poundland, I think they had quite a variety of egg-free egg painting kits, but this is the one we have. I used to love painting eggs, so I’m glad Ebony won’t have to miss out on that tradition.

So, that’s my vegan Easter haul. What vegan goodies have you found to enjoy this Easter?

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Pregnancy Update: Week 18

This week the baby is the size of a slingshot. So, your grandad will totally know how big it is, but probably you won’t. I don’t anyway. I don’t think I have ever seen a standard sized slingshot in my life. Aren’t they just made out of twigs? My pregnancy app is ridiculous sometimes. Anyway, I don't have a slingshot so instead you can have a photo of my scarily huge 18 week bump. It is big, no? This baby is going to be another nine pounder, isn't it?

Week 18 has been all about the tired. Oh lord, have I been tired. We went to see Sandi Toksvig on Wednesday and she was wonderful, but staying awake was way harder than it should have been. The interval was too calming and then I spent the rest of the evening trying not to be asleep. I had a party to attend on Saturday night and that too was pretty exhausting. I’m just not good at late nights right now. In the 1950s, they used to say pregnant women shouldn’t be out at night and that they should stay in doing handicrafts and listening to the radio. Obviously, I am all for this and will be starting a campaign for a pregnancy curfew to kick in at 7:30pm each evening.

My sickness has completely gone now, I don’t even get waves of nausea when I’m sleep deprived anymore (thank god, because that was really annoying). The only thing I do still have is a constant bad taste in my mouth. The only thing that gets rid of it is cleaning my teeth, so I’m currently cleaning my teeth about five times a day. If I eat when I’m out of the house, there’s nothing I can do but moan about the taste in my mouth until I am reunited with my beloved toothbrush.

I have spent most of the week peeing. I don’t know what has happened, but clearly the baby has had a bad week and is taking it out on my bladder. I must get up about 15 times a night to pee, it is so annoying. If I so much as think about turning over in bed, I need to pee. I had forgotten about this aspect of pregnancy and wasn’t really expecting it to kick in quite so soon.

My PGP is still bothersome but I am coping with it. By the evening, it’s usually pretty awful and I feel like my entire body has seized up. But it’s ok during the day as long as I’m careful not to over do it. Obviously, I keep overdoing it because there is just so much to do, then I spend the next day regretting it. The worst part is after I’ve put Ebony to bed, when I get up from her bed it is so incredibly painful. I’m not sure if it’s because her bed is quite low, but it is very terrible so I need to think of a solution to that.

Ebony has been talking lots about being a big sister this week. She really enjoys talking about the birth and asking what will happen and who will be there. We decided she might ask the midwives if they want a biscuit and a cup of tea, but she pointed out that she would have to get Laurie to actually make the tea. Then she said, “When daddy’s making the tea, you can lean on me if you want.” My heart exploded, of course. We have a book called Hello, Baby about home birth (if you’re planning a home birth with your soon-to-be older sibling present, you must buy this book - get it here) and in it, the woman leans on her partner during labour. I thought it was really sweet that she wanted to do that for me, even though obviously she hasn’t taken into account the fact that I will weigh 57 stone by then.

The baby is still kicking loads, we seem to have settled into a routine of post-nursery run and post-bedtime acrobatics. Ebony hasn’t felt the baby kicking yet, but she has felt the hard bits of my tummy where the baby or may not be (I’m no midwife).

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Pregnancy Update: Week 17

According to my Ovia pregnancy app, the baby is now around the size of this PS2 controller. I think there’s a chance I might have been suffering from pregnancy hormones this week. I must have cried literally a hundred times. I’ve even woken up with puffy eyes a few times, it’s like being a teenager again (everyone else spent their teenage years crying, right?).

I’ve been feeling pretty uncomfortable this week, my PGP is definitely back. I’ve been taking care to keep my legs together when getting into the car and out of bed but am still finding it uncomfortable by the end of the day. I’ve already had to slow my pace when walking which doesn’t bode well for the next 23 weeks. How much slower can I get? Ebony continues to run ahead of me at her usual pace so now my parenting style is 80% hoping she’ll be there when I finally get round the corner she just raced round.

I went sledging on Saturday which, in hindsight, probably isn’t advisable for women suffering from pelvic pain. I also did quite a lot of walking around Lyme Park and before we’d even reached the car, I could feel my hips starting to seize up. Pregnancy is a lot like what I imagine old age to be like.

I’ve been feeling really tired over the past few days. On Monday, I went straight back to bed after dropping Ebony off at nursery. I’m so glad that I’m freelance and have the freedom to do that whenever I need to. I slept all morning and still felt exhausted all afternoon. On Tuesday afternoon, I ended up putting a movie on Netflix (The Land Before Time) for Ebony so I could have a nap because I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. It doesn’t matter how early I go to bed or how late I sleep in, I just can’t seem to get enough sleep at the moment.

I finally found my bag of maternity clothes, hooray, so have been rejoicing the fact that I now have wardrobe choices to make each morning. My usual coat is getting a little tight now, so I’ve been wearing my maternity coat from when I was pregnant with Ebony. It is super warm but makes me look way more pregnant than I really am which is never a good thing.

The baby has been moving around loads this week. I’m getting used to feeling the nudges and kicks throughout the day and am looking forward to them getting stronger so that Ebony can feel them too. The other night in bed, I let Ebony touch my bump because I could feel something hard. I told her it was the baby’s bum (I have no idea if it was. It could have been my bladder for all I know) and she was so excited. She keeps telling me all the things she’s going to do as a big sister. She will be cuddling the baby a lot, telling the baby not to be scared of fireworks and trying to stop the baby crying. She’s also been busy playing mummies and daddies at nursery this week. Apparently she plays the tired mummy who can’t get out of her chair because she is pregnant.

How I dug myself out of a parenting pit (and how you can too)

Last week wasn’t a good week. Do you ever have those days where everything feels to be going wrong? Where you can’t seem to do anything right? And where you end every night knowing you’ve been a crap parent? Well, that was me all last week. It wasn’t fun. I seemed to spend the whole week arguing with Ebony. She wanted to do one thing and I wanted to do another, and by the end of the week, we were engaged in World War 2 million. It was exhausting and completely draining. I wasn’t having any fun and I’m sure Ebony wasn’t either.

It culminated on Friday with a failed trip to the ballet where we ended up coming straight back home, both feeling angry and miserable. It was definitely the lowest point I’ve reached as a parent. Ebony was furious at me on the way home and I can’t say I was overly keen on her either. When we got home, we each went our separate ways to calm down. She stayed downstairs for a bit and I sat upstairs trying to work out what had gone wrong and what I could do about it.

I honestly felt like a complete failure. I felt like I was letting Ebony down, letting myself down and simply not being the parent I so want to be. And, at the same time, I felt so annoyed with her for ‘being difficult’ that I didn’t know where to begin in turning things around. I was mad at us both. I felt completely and utterly helpless. It’s not often I feel lost as a parent, but on Friday I could feel the panic of failure rising inside me and there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it.

And, now, I feel completely different. I feel like I’m back on top form, my relationship with Ebony has improved and things feel beautiful again. It’s crazy the difference just a few days can make. I honestly felt on Friday that things would never go back to being good, that I was a terrible mother and always would be, and that Ebony and I would live as enemies forever more. When you’re stuck in a parenting pit like that, it’s not always easy to pull yourself out of it. But, I have, and I thought I would share with you how I did it because we all have days or weeks like that and they’re really awful. I knew that I needed to completely reset and start over, and I’m so glad I did. Here are some things to try when you’re stuck in a parenting pit:

1. Reach out for support
This was the very first thing I did when I got home on Friday afternoon. I sat on my bed feeling out of control and, through tears, I sent a message to a friend. I feel incredibly lucky to have some amazing mothers as friends, women who will support me and pick me up when I’m down. One friend, in particular, is always the person I go to for advice. She is an amazing mother, she’s completely honest with me when I ask her for advice and she does her research so I trust what she says.

I sent her a message explaining how I felt, what had happened and how I was feeling a little lost. Within the hour, I had a reply that felt like a lifeline. In it, she reminded me that a strong-minded, opinionated daughter willing to fight or her beliefs are exactly what I want. I know this, of course, but it’s easy to forget when you’re stuck in a power battle over something stupid with a four year old. Gah, why can’t she just do what I say, I think, forgetting that the answer is because I don’t want her to. I want her to be strong enough to question authority, to stand up for causes she believes in and to refuse to follow blindly. Even just that simple reminder was a friend was enough for me to reframe the afternoon’s drama in my mind.

My friend also gave a few examples from her own life of her own parenting struggles and how she works to overcome them. There is nothing I find more helpful than real life examples when it comes to parenting. It’s all very well giving vague advice, but what I really want and need is examples of how to do things. It’s also so good to be reminded that other people have struggles, too. It’s not just me who has moments like that, everyone does, even the friends I consider to be the most wonderful and amazing mothers. Just a couple of messages were exchanged, but by the end of the conversation, I felt a million times better. I was starting to see a way out of the parenting pit I’d been stuck in.

2. Do some research
After speaking to my friend, I decided to do a little bit more research into how I could turn things around. It was pretty obvious that things were going wrong, I just needed figure out why. I decided to have a read of How to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk, it’s a book I have dipped into before but have never read to cover to cover. It’s a really good book and I would definitely recommend it to any parent who is having difficulties communicating with their child. The book has really forced me to question how I speak to Ebony, how I respond to her and how I can improve this.

3. Take some time for yourself
That evening, after Ebony was eventually tucked up in bed (bedtime battle? Oh yes), I decided to take a little time for myself. Instead of spending the evening lounging in front of Netflix, I ran a bath. I spent an hour by myself, reading the book I mentioned above and just contemplating how my week had gone so wrong. What were the points of friction between Ebony and myself? What behaviours were triggering me to respond angrily instead of taking the time to speak to her calmly like I usually would? What could I change to try and prevent this? While in the bath, I decided that what I really needed was some quality family time to really refocus my feelings.

4. Be honest
It’s not easy to sit down with someone and say ‘I feel like a shit mum’, they’re not really words I ever want to hear myself think nevermind say aloud. Ever since Ebony was first born, I’ve felt like I knew what I was doing. I have always felt like I was made for motherhood, I didn’t think it before I became a mother, but as soon as Ebony was born, I knew I’d found my calling. I think that’s partly why last week felt so terrible. Of course, I’ve had moments or days where I’ve felt less than perfect before, but never a whole week. And never so far from perfect. When Laurie and I got into bed on Friday, I started to cry. I told him that I felt I’d let Ebony down, that I needed to do something drastic to get back to where I like to be as a parent and that I wanted us to take some quality time as a family. Laurie works in the week and I often end up working weekends, so we don’t really spend that much time as a family of three.

5. Focus on your child
We decided to leave our phones at home and head out for the day on Saturday. It’s too easy to get distracted by technology, and I don’t really think we have any understanding of how our children feel when they are competing with technology for our attention. Even taking a photo on my phone can quickly turn into checking Facebook, replying to an email and sending a WhatsApp. So we left them at home. We decided we would be the best parents we could be and that we would try to escape the day without a fallout. In all honestly, I didn’t think it would work. I felt that Ebony had been so difficult lately that we wouldn’t even get in the car before one of us was in tears. I was so wrong. We had a perfect day. We went sledging at Lyme Park, we built a snowman and had a snowball fight. We had a picnic in the snow and spent some time on the adventure playground. There were no fallouts, no angry words and no tears. It was just perfect. Ebony was obviously enjoying having the undivided attention of both parents for a change and I was enjoying not being an angry dick.

6. Talk to your child
I think communication is really important. As parents, we hold our kids to pretty high standards so I feel it’s only fair to hold ourselves to the same. If I mess up, I want that to be something we can talk about. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes all the time, and I think it’s important to show Ebony that. If I shout at her in a moment of frustration, I want to be able to later tell her that I crossed a line and it’s not ok to shout. After our perfect family day on Saturday, Ebony and I had a chat about the week. I talked about the mistakes I’d made and how I wanted us to get on better, and together we thought of ways we could make that happen. I said that instead of getting angry, I would take deep breaths when I could feel myself getting annoyed. She agreed that she would do the same, and we’ve been using this technique the past couple of days and I’m pleased to say it has worked.

7. Forgive yourself
This is probably the hardest thing to do. I think as parents we hold onto a lot of guilt, I know I do and usually over stupid things. When Ebony was a baby, I had (completely unimportant, inconsequential) things that went round and round in my head at night. That can still happen now and it’s exhausting. I felt so stressed and drained after last week that I couldn’t sleep, I just kept thinking about all the ways I’d let her down that week. This probably sounds dramatic, but pregnancy insomnia is a powerful thing. Over the past few days, I’ve been able to focus on the positives of turning things around rather than the negatives of last week. I’m not perfect and I never will be, but if I can try my hardest to do my best, then that’s something.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Pregnancy Update: Week 16

16 weeks already, where is the time going?! Baby is now around the size of an action figure, apparently. We get our action figures from the charity shop, hence the missing leg.

The baby has started moving around now, I don’t feel much, if anything, during the day but as soon as I lie down in bed, I feel some movements. It’s quite exciting feeling a baby wriggle around inside me again. The movements have been big enough that Laurie has been able to feel the occasional one as well. They’ve also been keeping me awake at night, but I’m not too mad about that just yet. I am starting to really long for a maternity pillow, though, I didn’t have one last time and probably won’t end up getting one this time, but they look like the absolute most comfortable things ever.

My bump is sticking out more and more each day and I think I’m getting close to not being able to wear my normal jeans anyway. I really need to hurry up and find my bag of maternity clothes. Somewhere in this house is a bag filled with huge maternity pyjamas, but I cannot find it anywhere. Maternity pyjamas are the best.

I’ve been feeling really sleepy this week. I had quite a busy weekend with an evening out followed by a day in Liverpool and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. I seem to need way more sleep than usual at the moment, but Laurie has been keeping Ebony entertained so I’ve been able to snatch a few extra hours here and there.

Time is flying by, I don’t really feel like I spend much time thinking about the pregnancy. I haven’t been obsessively researching which products to buy or reading books about childbirth. This pregnancy is definitely very different to the last. I’m worried we’re going to get to 40 weeks and I still won’t have done anything in the way of organising. I still can’t really think of the baby as anything other than Ebony. If it turns out to be a boy, I think I’ll go into shock. I’m honestly just expecting to give birth to Ebony all over again, I probably need to better prepare myself prior to the birth.

Missed my 15 week pregnancy update? Find it here.

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