And again. 

5 years ago today was Freddie’s due date. I’ve thought about that, rather than him, a lot today. How I could have demanded that scan harder, or listened to my doubts harder. How I could have bottled it and asked for him to come out today. 

5 years ago I thought I was on the cusp of a whole new world, a respite from guilt and sadness, and a fresh start. 

It was certainly a new world that was coming. 

5 years feels an insult. I’m angry I’ve survived and angry so much time has passed. I’m remote from him and silenced and he slips through my fingers daily, consigned to a battened down grief and a kind of torn paper fracture in the house. A gentle fracture but one that all our early days togetherness can’t repair. 

This year his birthday will go wrong. The weather will be dreadful and we won’t know what to do. It’s going to go wrong and I care very much about that and yet can’t seem to mind either. 

It’s never ending, grief. Never ending. 

  

Sunday Stitches: Wreath Update

 

I spent the weekend away in Liverpool with most of my girls which, given where we live, meant a fair bit of time on trains. I didn’t crochet as much as I intended and it was a very busy weekend but I have made progress. It needs to be finished by Wednesday night though, so I’m up against it. 

Here is my Spring wreath in jigsaw form. I still seem to have about 10 flowers, blocking and making up to do. Gulp. 

What have you been making?

I recognise this.

I have a younger brother and sister. We are more spaced out in years than my eldest children are so I was fairly aware of my brother, at least, as he grew up through the stages of little boy hood.

There used to be traffic jams by every skirting board snaking their way round our house and tripping up unsuspecting sisters. I’ve been waiting for them to arrive here and yesterday, they did.

I do love him.

Plus, he played with it for hours, so long as no one tried to turn Peppa off in the background. ;)

Sleeping like a baby.

Have had a lot of opportunity to reflect on parenting back when I had Fran compared to parenting Bene now lately. I’ve had children across three different decades and two different centuries – not only does that sound dramatic, but it really is. When I had Fran there were only really videos to watch (and pricey ones at that), no all day TV, barely any kids TV at all, no financially viable options for laptops, no smart phones, no social media, no internet. You couldn’t download an app or pop a toddler in front of repeated hours of Peppa if your sanity needed saving.

Fran didn’t sleep AT ALL. She was able to function on very little rest, liked evenings and, mostly due to hunger, was often awake constantly in the small hours. When all my other options were exhausted, such as holding her in the dark and trying to shush or rock her off to sleep, shoveling milk down her or singing, I would be reduced to strapping her into her car seat and lying next to her on the floor while she watched the 3 episodes of Teletubbies that that a video held. I would doze on the floor next to her, trying to catch up on sleep but too uncomfortable or anxious to rest. If I put the light on she was awake and rampaging for the day so reading wasn’t an option, Max never functioned at night but also had to work the next day and so it all fell to me. It was lonely, depressing and frustrating and is sadly what I most remember about parenting my eldest child. How I would have loved a Kindle or iphone back then.

I got my own back by making her do some parenting later on!

I got my own back by making her do some parenting later on!

One thing I forgot to properly account for when I decided to restart my family, was how long it takes to get a baby or toddler to sleep through the night. I’m totally anti sleep training from a very long way back (I tried it with Fran and am absolutely sure it destroyed her ability to sleep) and my babies settle by me, or in my arms and sleep with us for as long as it suits everyone.

But when Bene arrived and his next eldest present sibling was already 7, I have to admit it all came as a bit of a shock. I was ready for the early weeks and in fact his company was perfect since I found him sleeping (and back at the beginning he slept a lot!) very stressful. I often hovered over him at night to check he was okay. It was me who had the problems with sleep for quite a while, rather than him. And then, just as I began to relax, he took over, morphing from the never awake boy to the never asleep boy almost overnight.

From a few months old he needed my full attention to get him to sleep. He’s not naughty but he really does have a 90 mile an hour brain and settling down is not easy. I calculated recently I have spent the equivalent of  six weeks of 24 hour days sitting in the dark in his room, with him trying his hardest to get to sleep while feeding, cuddling or snuggling. He’s cracked it in the last three months, which has given me back my life and productivity.

What saved me this time though is that I have been able to take a book or phone in to keep him company. Sometimes we used it to listen to nursery rhymes together, sometimes I browsed while he settled (it seems to make no real difference most days whether I had it there or the darkness was total). So I have 3 years worth of Pinterest fandom, phone written blog posts, Facebooking or reading that has been done quietly while we cuddled. For all it was time that sometimes felt a huge drain on life, it was time I am glad to have had with his baby self and having some contact with the outside world during it staved off depression and frustration. These days I could even Facebook the husband for a cup of tea if necessary!

Cussons have followed on from the #VoiceofMums campaign with #SilentSocial an all night, silent social media event on the night of 28th March to keep company with the mums and dads who find themselves blearily rocking the baby off to sleep in the early hours of the morning with no one for company. While the middle of the night is sometimes the perfect time to gaze in adoration at your bundle of fun, there are times when it is hard to feel the love and someone to chat and moan to is what you need. Find out more on their Twitter stream. The Cussons Mum & Me range is available from Boots, ASDA, Ocado, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Wilko and is a range of Mum & Babay bathtime products including ones to promote easy sleep.

This post is in association with Cussons.

Parenting before the internet #BootsBaby125Years

Hello you.

I must look so polished these days, from the outside. I’m pretty practiced at parenting now.

I haven’t forgotten you.

Those early days. Packing a tiny, still be-lip-stitched baby girl into a pram, back in the days when navigating the front step seemed such a hurdle, never mind the minefield of an unexpectedly rocky start to motherhood.  The baby who wailed hungrily and failed to grow and the mum who wailed woefully and failed to get the hang of this parenting malarky.

New baby in the secondhand pram, loaded up and taken out. Old women offering unwanted advice, gasping at the unmended lip, pulling blankets down on kicking limbs with tuts that discounted the possibility that you had carefully applied suncream, women who sneered from their perfect world that included breastfeeding while you struggled on with milk expressed and gently tipped into that little unworking mouth.

You walked up the road and over the bridge and wound around the streets and squares of the town. You lulled that little wailing baby with steps and fresh air and an ever changing shimmy of views to look at. She ceased to cry and gradually, so did you. Not so very long after climbing that arduous path to motherhood, you somehow became good enough to do it all again. And so you did. The pram became a double buggy – one that barely fitted through the green front door – and their nap times were your thinking time, fresh air, therapy, communication.

Two little girls and their not so very grown up mummy. Such a long time ago; what started as an insurmountable task melted gently into days with first steps, first smiles, cheeky giggles and feisty little girls that taught you more about mothering than you thought there was to know.

Baby Days

***

Can you imagine parenthood without the internet? 17 years ago when my first daughter was born I had nothing more than one single friend with a baby to rely on for advice. No role models, no toddler groups I felt comfortable in. I woefully under estimated what parenting would do to my life and I found myself hunting desperately a set of rules to live by. I had no idea what to buy or what was needed. My cupboard held the 3 bottles of baby oil I bought while pregnant for about 6 years, till I finally worked out I would never actually use it.

Early motherhood was a whole new planet, something without a map or manual and I was wholly unprepared. No internet, no chat rooms, no easy peer group of like minded girls grappling with this sudden birth into womanhood. There were magazines, often ones outside my budget and they mostly displayed smiling plastic women and perfect babies, so very far outside what I was or even what I wanted to be.

What I do remember though, is those walks and how they lifted my spirits. Every day I pushed Fran –  and then Fran and Maddy – up to town and my journey always ended with a trip to Boots. Even when I had no idea what I was doing, I trusted the brand I had known through childhood to put what my baby needed in front of me. If Boots had the nappies, those were the ones I bought, it was Boots that stocked the particular NUK flat teat that turned out to be the only bottle teat my little cleft baby could tolerate. I looked to Boots for guidance on all the bottle feeding paraphernalia I needed once the doctors and midwives confirmed breastfeeding would never happen. We bought our babygros there and had their first photos taken with the pop up photographer upstairs. If I go there now, I’m still instantly transported to the days when my day mostly pivoted on 45 minutes sat feeding a baby in the handy Mother & Baby Room, the sound of the lift pinging a welcome and the day Fran pressed the emergency button. Boots felt like home, a link to my Nottingham past and the pride that city has in it and a link to a name that meant knowledge and trustworthiness to me.

I planned and plotted my baby buying to take advantage of offers – I even worked out my buying to anticipate when something would next be on offer (I had far less to do back then!) I hoarded my Boots points carefully and bought most of Fran’s toys with them. Even though I never did buy the one toy I ached to get for her, I still remember looking longingly at it and wishing I could justify the £14 it was. Boots was like a constant; reliable, quality, trustworthy and still within my budget.


The #BootsBaby125Years film, a perfect tear jerker, if nostalgia hasn’t already got you there :)

Boots is 125 years old this year. I find myself slightly alarmed to think I’ve been alive for 1/3 of that. But it’s made me smile and think back fondly to write this, which is as good a reason to agree to promote their latest offer for them.Visit Boots Baby to view the range and partake of their buy 3 and get the cheapest free on Boots brand baby offers. You can think of that much younger and less wrinkly Merry while you do it ;) (Valid from 4th March until 23:59pm Tuesday 31st March, selected items only). You can also order by 6pm and collect from your chosen store at 12pm the following day.

This post is in association with Boots.