Crying over spilt tea

Iris has a huge obsession with drinks. Well cups really. Beakers, glasses, tumblers, mugs. She’s not fussed. She just likes to give them all a try. Unfortunately she can now climb incredibly well, and there is no sweet safe place in our living room to put a nice fresh cup of tea. Thankfully, as it is when you’re a parent, cups of tea never seem to be hot because you’ve been distracted by a tantrum or a full nappy. I’m thankful for this today (I’m not usually) because Iris has just got hold of the lukewarm cup of tea I’ve been desperate for all morning, and poured it all over herself and a big toy dog that probably won’t fit in my washing machine. She’s not hurt, which is the main thing, but I feel like crap. It’s like the day I shut her finger in a door all over again. 

I actually cried. 

Although if I’m totally honest with myself, some of those tears may have been more selfish. There’s no more milk. I cannot make another cup of tea. Even if I could it’d probably go cold while I endlessly read ‘Hide and Seek Pig’ anyway, but that’s not the point. 

The insomnia is getting to me now. I keep hearing that line from Fight Club in my head. 

When you have insomnia, you are never really asleep, and you are never really awake. 

I just don’t function well now. I keep going, but everything seems hazy and not really real. The stuff that can tip me over the edge into despair is really quite ridiculous. No milk. A full washing basket. Having to walk the dog because Trev overslept and couldn’t do it. Rain when there is washing on the line. A late bus. Lukewarm tea. Dog hair on black leggings. The way the postman throws parcels through my living room window if I don’t answer the door in 10 seconds. The cat following me around and sitting on me every time I stop moving. Losing my page in my book. A fingerprint on my glasses. 

Last night, between midnight and 1am I was sobbing on the sofa. Iris and Trev fast asleep upstairs. I was so desperate to sleep that I got myself into quite a state. Trev was snoring loudly but I couldn’t wake him or move him to make him stop. I had a few fantasies about rolling him out of bed, down the stairs and out of the front door. I briefly wanted to punch him in the head. 

It’s not his fault. I know for sure that even if he had shut the hell up I wouldn’t have slept. I can’t. I just can’t sleep. 

I know that this’ll pass in time. My periods of insomnia always do. In the mean time please don’t annoy me. I can lose my shit over the smallest silly things right now. 



I adore this time of year. 

Last year I wrote a big list of stuff I wanted to do during the season, and we did most of it too. This year I can’t. I’m having a baby and chasing a toddler around and trying not to stress about having money worries so close to Christmas. 

My only plan is to be outside. All the time. As much as possible. Because I feel better outside. My sofa is comfy and my house is warm, but resting makes me ache and sitting still makes me feel bored. We’ve all had the sniffles here for weeks now, and I just can’t breathe indoors. Only the fresh air will do. 

I’m feeling anxious. Really quite nervous and worried, but not about anything in particular. Air and walking and watching Iris crunch through the leaves are the perfect medicine. Plus it’s free. Enjoying the wonders of autumn is completely free. 

We do have some plans. A friend of mine is starting an outdoors toddler group, beginning with a session on Halloween weekend. It’s Room on the Broom themed and will be muddy. My sister is bringing my niece and nephew over for it and we’re all very excited. 

The biggest kid turns 10. 

I really want to go to Brecon Mountain Railway for their Christmas thingy. 

There’s a couple of Techniquest toddler days before Christmas. Those are definitely on my maybe list. 

Bristol. I need some more Bristol in my life. I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple of visits before I’ve got 2 kids and catching the train is impossible. 

Christmas shopping. I’ll have to find some time and some cash for that, at some point. But not yet. 

Mostly I just want to cherish Iris. I want to do fun things and see how they make her smile. I want to hold her, tickle her, and endlessly sing row row your boat to her (as that seems to make her very happy). Most of our days are spent just us two, me and her. But not for much longer. She won’t remember, I know that. But it still seems so important. I have to fill this short time, the next 12 weeks or so, with love and smiles. 

Then, of course, we’ll be having a baby. In the new year I’ll be a mum to two under two and Iris will be a big sister. There is so much to do before that happens. 


28 weeks

The third trimester! 

I. Am. Shattered. 

I can’t sleep. Not ever. I get between 2 and 4 hours a night. Every time I start dozing off I need a wee. That’s if I even manage to get comfy. My hips hurt so much now that they keep me awake. They hurt far more when I’m still, especially if I stay still for some time. Night times are the worst. In the day, Iris is relentless with her charging up and down and I can’t keep up!

I had a physiotherapy appointment at the hospital. I wish I hadn’t bothered. She watched me walk up and down a corridor, and seemed concerned that I don’t bear weight properly on my right leg. She showed me a support belt, but couldn’t provide one. They don’t anymore, apparently. She was fairly certain things will get worse and I’ll end up on crutches, which isn’t exactly reassuring. Then it was over. I came away with one exercise to do (which isn’t helping) and that’s it. I bought the support belt she suggested online, but I can’t wear it for very long. It’s more uncomfortable than my hips are! 

Pushing the pushchair has become too much. I have to keep doing it, as Iris isn’t reliably walking in the same direction as me yet, but it’s a struggle. I’m baby wearing as much as possible, and actually it’s easier to wear Iris on my back than it is to push the pushchair. I can’t carry Iris and her nappy bag and any shopping I may need to do though, so I end up using the pushchair anyway. Thankfully a friend has given me a lightweight stroller that is far easier to manage. 

Today was my 28 week appointment. Iris was a dream. She sat on the chair next to me playing with a plastic giraffe for the whole appointment, occasionally smiling at the midwife. I have the worst thin veins, so as usual finding one that would give up some blood was tricky. I feel like a human pin cushion after the several attempts. We did manage to have a chat about my birth options though. As everything is going so much better this time, there’s no real need for me to be in hospital. I had Iris in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and didn’t have the calmest experience. I felt like I was surrounded by doctors for hours on end, but never really understood why they were there. This time I want things to be different. I want to be left alone to do it my way. There are two midwife led birth centres I could choose from, or I could just stay home. This needs some thought, and a long chat with Trevor. There’s Iris to consider too. We also listened to the baby’s heartbeat, which was fine. She’s doing alright in there. It’s always such a relief to hear it. 

It’s strangely been an emotional day today. I feel awful and hormonal, and keep thinking about Iris suddenly having to share me. How will I divide myself between two without Iris feeling neglected? It’ll probably all be fine, but I can’t help but worry. Iris seems to sense my unease, and will wrap her arms around me and cover me in sloppy kisses. She’s just the best kid ever. I’m overwhelmed by this amazing human I made. Will I have enough of this love for two of them? 



Iris at sixteen months

I find it strange now, on the odd occasion that somebody refers to Iris as a baby. Despite the chubby thighs and lack of hair (it is growing though!) she’s very much a toddler now. She’s been walking for three whole months and is very stable now. She runs too, at a speed I can’t quite match at 28 weeks pregnant. She’s less and less keen on being carried or strapped into anything, and desperately wants to use her feet at all times. To kill an hour we regularly go to the park, where I plonk her down among the trees and fallen leaves and just follow her. One end of the park to the other can take up a whole afternoon, as Iris charges around and picks up every single interesting object she comes across. I love autumn, and she seems to love it too.  


Sleep is an issue at the moment. More an issue for me, than her. I have such terrible insomnia and she’s having some kind of sleep regression. Some nights I’m only managing 2 or 3 hours sleep, and we’ve slipped back into sleeping in late which means we miss the playgroups I rely on for adult human interaction. Hopefully we’ll be back on track soon, because I’m exhausted. Watching Peppa Pig at 3am is not my favourite thing. Co sleeping is what keeps us going. At least when she wakes and needs cuddling back to sleep she’s right there. I just don’t have the energy to get up and walk back and forth to the nursery so many times a night. 


She still loves food. A lot of her buddies seem to be going through  a fussy eating phase and I’ve been told they all do. I’m hoping they’re wrong, as she’s the easiest kid ever to feed. She’s eats very nearly everything. She’s not keen on baked beans, but I think that’s about it. She prefers me not to cut her food up and absolutely will not be spoon fed, and even manages to eat messy stuff like cereal completely independently.


We have a proper routine now. It’s totally baby-led still, and I’ve not pushed anything onto her at all. We often sleep til 8 these days, thanks to the sleepless nights, meaning it’s a mad rush to get out for playgroup. I make sure our bag is packed with nappies and spare clothes the night before, and a packed lunch if needed. There’s no time for that in the morning. The only way I can get a shower is to take her into the bathroom with me, and to save time she eats her breakfast in there too. For the first time I’m glad our bathroom is downstairs! I set the iPad up and she eats cereal and watches cartoons while I get a decent shower. She’s down to one nap most days, which usually happens 3 or 4 hours after she gets up. This is around lunchtime, so I either make sure she’s had lunch or give her a snack to get her through until afterwards. With no afternoon nap, we have a bit more freedom. While it’s still warm enough, I’m trying to make sure we get outside for some fresh air every afternoon. Some times we walk the dog, and other times we head to the park. It does both of us so much good. Dinner is at 6 or 7, followed by a bath, some stories and then bed. Most nights Iris goes to sleep easily and quickly, with either me or Trev lying on the bed for cuddles. We never leave her awake. She wouldn’t sleep, she’d just cry. I can’t see the sense in turning bedtime into a battle. At the moment it’s pleasant and she’s happy.  


I swear she learns at least one new word a day. They’re never the words you expect to hear next. Sometimes I’m not even sure where they came from. She can let me know she wants ‘snack’ or ‘juice’. She actually rarely has juice, but uses juice to mean water or milk too. She knows so many animal noises, as well as noises of other things. She says ‘car brrrm’ and ‘bus’ and calls the dog ‘Sebby’. The other day she saw me naked and shouted ‘bum!’.


One of her favourite things to do is to visit the library and choose some books to take home. She loves books. We have to read several in the evening, and she can often be found sitting on th floor by her bookcase reading to herself. She babbles and points and laughs, it’s so very sweet. 

Every stage is more amazing than the last one, and I’ve loved every bit of being her mum. However, I adore this toddler stage! Partly because she’s so affectionate. She’ll come over for a cuddle, and squeeze me tight. She plants big kisses on my face, pats my back and holds my hand. It’s wonderful. She’s noticed my growing belly too, and often kisses and touches it. She says ‘baba’ to it but I don’t think she really understands. I love each new word, and watching her learn. It’s visible, the little cogs turning in her brain. I can see her absorbing and taking in every detail and processing it. It’s such a privilege to watch. 

 I’m nervous about the new baby. I feel guilty already for having to share my attention between two babies. I’m hoping Iris is confident and attached enough to not take it so badly. I hope she never feels like she’s lost her place or that I love her less. 


Her smiles and laughs floor me every single time. She’s made me the happiest I’ve ever been. She is everything. There is no point in anything else. Thanks kiddo, for 487 wonderful days. I love you. 





Last week Trev left us for 4 days to go to a conference in Liverpool. I hate it when he’s away. Despite having lived here for 18 months now I still feel weird being here when he’s not. The connection to here is him. I always feel a bit lost, even though I’d be without him for most of each day anyway if he was working from his office. It’s strange to rely on just my new friends, made mostly at mum and toddler groups, to be my only source of adult interaction. As it turned out, me and Iris (and Trev too actually, poor thing ) had rotten colds and my desire to run away back to Bristol for few days (not possible with the dog!) was not so strong this time. 

By Wednesday though I was feeling glum. I needed a change of scenery. I suggested checking out Techniquest to some of my mum friends, and thankfully one of them was free and fancied a day out. Her boy is a few months older than Iris, but they get on well and seem to enjoy each other’s company. 

We got the train from Pontypridd to Cardiff Queen Street. I was nervous about changing here. I’d heard that they had no lifts and I’d have to carry Iris and her pushchair up and down the stairs between platforms. I had to cope with this a few weeks ago at Bristol Parkway and wasn’t looking forward to doing it again. However the brand new lifts were up and running, and we were soon on our next train. The train from Queen Street to Cardiff Bay runs every 12 minutes, and Techniquest is a short easy walk from there. We arrived at lunchtime. Iris had slept most of the way there, and all of us were rather hungry. So obviously the cafe was shut. Brilliant. We paid anyway and got our wristbands allowing us to come and go, and headed off in search of food (and coffee, as I’m so bloody tired all the time lately). I’m sure Cardiff Bay has a lot more to offer, and I hope to go back to explore, but we just couldn’t be bothered and Iris had somehow twisted her nappy and had wee all down her leg. So, Starbucks. After my first pumpkin spiced thing of the year and lots of stuff containing melty cheese, we were ready. 



It was HEAVING with school children. There were at least 3 separate school trips in there. Why do they always seem so grown up? They didn’t bother me though, and Iris isn’t phased at all by older children. I guess she’s just used to being around her big sisters. Off she went, and I just followed. When we first arrive at any new place there’s not much point in trying to guide Iris or get involved in what she wants to do. She just wants to run from one thing to the next and absorb it all. She then takes a longer look at each thing a bit later, when the excitement has worn off. Keeping track of her amongst the big kids wasn’t easy, and I know my friend had even more trouble with her faster and much more stable on his feet kiddo. 

Most of the exhibits were way over Iris’s head, in more ways than one. I ended up lifting her up onto many of them, so she was basically sat IN the exhibit. Nobody seemed to mind though. There were a lot of staff milling about occasionally calling out “please stop running” to the school kids but nobody told me to get Iris down. Obviously she had no idea what any of the sciencey stuff really means. Her favourite thing was a demonstration of probability, but to her it was just a tube to put orange balls in and watch them get whizzed away towards the ceiling. Actually, I think she could have done that all day long quite happily. 

There were things containing bubbles and things containing fish. Bubbles and fish are two of a toddler’s favourite things. I am yet to meet a toddler (and I’ve met hundreds) that doesn’t love bubbles and fish 

Things that make noise are also a big hit with my tiny person and there are lots of those, my favourite being a piano you can run up and down on and dance around a bit. Iris didn’t get it to start with, and just sat on it watching the school kids and getting in their way. 

And then, at the back of the place, there’s the water play. Unfortunately it was also very slightly out of Iris’s reach, but you’d never have guessed that from how soaked she managed to get. If you go, take spare clothes. Lots of spare clothes. My friend’s kid actually put his head in a fountain. They were both drenched. 


Suddenly, at around 2:30, the place went silent. Absolutely deadly silent, apart from the whoosh of a hot air balloon flying up to the roof. The schools had left. Why on earth hadn’t this occurred to us? It’s open til 4:30 during the week (but closed on Mondays in term time), and two hours is probably long enough for the tiny ones. Next time we go I plan to go on one of their toddler days (the next one is 6th November) or after 2:30. As much as the school children didn’t bother us, our second go on everything after they had left was much nicer. Watching and keeping track of speedy Iris was much easier too. 

The gift shop is pretty cool, with a good mix of proper educational stuff and cheap things for pocket money. We came away with yet more plastic animals destined for a life in our bathtub. 

I’m now in trouble with the big step kids for going without them, but that’s ok because I can’t wait to go back again! 

*Nobody asked me to write this or compensated me in anyway. I paid the full £7 adult entry fee. I just felt like letting you all know how much fun we had! Find the Techniquest website here for more information. * 


The positive positive 

Two years ago today I went to the GP to ask for a prescription for the contraceptive pill. He asked if there was a chance I could be pregnant already, and I said that I guess there could be a very very small chance. You can guess the rest.


Honestly, it feels like days ago. I’m not sure how it can be two whole years. It was a complete accident, and for the first few weeks I wasn’t sure I wanted it, but it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. 

I was terrified at the time. I had been in a new job for just a few weeks, and although I hated the job I was aware it wasn’t really the done thing to get pregnant when you’re new. Our relationship was new too, and I was living with my mum while Trevor lived 40 miles way in a whole different country. I had been drinking and smoking a lot, with no idea of the tiny person growing inside me. I was scared I’d already done some terrible damage. 

I wasn’t prepared for the horrors of that pregnancy. The migraines, the sickness, the blood tests and all the peeing in the pot. I was a responsibility-free 20 something. I stayed out all night and didn’t worry about very much. 

It was all a huge shock. 

Now though, I can’t imagine ever being that version of me again. A me without Iris just seems pointless. I’m a mum, and I can see now that mum is who I was always meant to be. 


My inner meanie

For as long as I can remember, and certainly since my parent’s break up around my 18th birthday back in 2003, there’s been a voice in my head. It’s an unkind, cruel little voice that is quite determined to make me feel awful even when all is good in my world and I have nothing to worry about. 

It sounds a bit daft, doesn’t it? A voice in my head. It’s not literally a little voice though. It’s not like a separate little person sitting in my brain, pointing and laughing at me when I slip up and telling me to do silly things. 

It’s my voice. The voice is me. 

I was actually diagnosed as agoraphobic once. I think it was misdiagnosis now. Agoraphobia doesn’t go away. This went away. By itself. 

It was certainly something though. I had a long period of being completely unable to leave the house. If I tried I’d find myself shaking and unable to breathe, puking in the bin outside the primary school at the end of the road. A panic attack. I see that now. I see what that was, but at the time it just felt like I was going to die from suffocation every time I ventured outside. I quickly went from not being able to go outside because the world was scary, to just being scared of the panic attack itself. I was having panic attacks because of the fear of panic attacks! 

I have no real recollection of how long this went on for or how it ended. I know I was dragged (probably literally kicking and screaming) to the GP by my mother and I know I was prescribed something. I remember that it helped. I don’t remember what it was. The whole time is a hazy blur of family feuds and feeling utterly rejected. I’m not even sure who I felt rejected by. The world? 

Anyway, it passed on the whole. But bits of it remained. They still remain. 

I have terrible OCD relating to leaving the house. I’ve written about it before. The amount of time I spend checking everything is switched off and the doors are locked is just ridiculous. I watch other people in my street leave home sometimes. I watch Trev do it too. They just lock the door and they go. They don’t even check. I check so many many times. I hate to watch them.  I’m jealous of how sensible and normal they are. The envy eats me up and makes me angry. 

I’ve broken door handles checking. 

It’s better lately. The door thing. Iris has started to notice what I do and to copy me. I don’t want that. For the first time ever I have a real reason to work harder to stop this. I still video myself lock up sometimes, discreetly. I don’t check and check and cry and sweat and walk away only to come back and check some more. What if seeing me do that makes her grow to do that too? I know that’s possible. I lived with my dad for a few months once, and he does this. He drives to work and drives home again to check the door is locked again. I know exactly where this came from and when it all started for me. 

I can deal with this. 

It’s the voice I can’t deal with. The inner meanie. A stress management course I went on back in Bristol a few years ago taught me these are called Negative Automatic Thoughts. Reading endless books on CBT and NLP have taught me techniques to squash them. Techniques that work, actually. At least some of the time. But then I have days when I’m short on time and the I don’t do them, and then months pass and things get worse and worse and I’ve forgotten how to get a handle on them. 

The worst ingredient to add to this pot is parent guilt. 

Parent guilt really is a thing. I didn’t believe in it before parenthood. It was just something people blogged about and parents at the nursery I worked at mentioned from time to time. I thought it maybe only applied to going back to work and dropping your kid off in child care, but I’ve never had to do that and I suffer the guilt so badly. 

I’m exhausted at the moment, but every day we go to play group and run around the park and dig endless holes in the sandpit. Every day I worry about getting enough fruit and veg and fresh air into my kid. I worry about saying things that will influence her for years to come without me meaning to influence her. I worry she’ll be scarred for life by having me as a mum. I worry about forgetting sun cream and missing nap time and ketchup in her hair. Two weeks ago I shut her finger in a door and I thought the feeling might just kill me, even when 10 minutes later she was happily playing and only had a tiny bruise. I know I’m not the only one. I know this feeling is totally normal. 

On and off, over the years, I’ve taken different prescription medicines for anxiety. Sertraline, Prozac, ones with stupidly long names I can’t say. In some way they’ve all helped, but I always end up feeling better and feeling like I don’t need them. I hate being medicated. I hate relying on a drug just to get by. I know how silly that is. I haven’t taken anything in a long while, despite feeling anxious a lot of the time. I’ve been either pregnant or breastfeeding or both for two years now, and that’s seemed like a good reason to battle on without. 

I’m happy. I don’t want anybody to assume I’m not happy. 

This isn’t depression. At least I don’t think it is. It’s just an inner me that keeps telling me I’m not good enough. I’m not doing a good enough job. I’m letting people down. I’m spoiling things for everybody else. I get invited out and feel self-conscious because I’m convinced I’m annoying. I get told a new outfit looks great and then I convince myself I look ridiculous. Somebody tells me I’m doing a fab job with Iris and I feel sure that they wouldn’t say that if they could see me at other times. I look around my house at the mess and wonder why we live like this when other people manage to keep things clean. I feel like a failure. I feel like such a let down. 

Things are bad, in my brain, just lately. I guess pregnancy hormones and tiredness don’t help, but I feel like I’m flailing around trying to get a grip on just one thing so that I can get hold of the other things too. Nothing ever gets finished, and nothing ever seems done. I can’t relax. I can’t let go. Having no income is making me feel terrible too. I have a credit card bill to pay, and asking Trevor to help is the worst feeling in the world. I’ve never been dependent before. I can’t get used to it. It’s getting to me. 

I know just admitting that I’m struggling is a big step. I know that’s a good thing, really. Yet strangely I feel guilty for that too. I just feel like I’ve admitted I’m rubbish at this, that I’m messing everything up.