The day Astrid Eirianwen arrived

It’s been three days since her arrival, and already it seems strange that Astrid was ever missing from our family. That she was inside me, just three days ago, her little foot often jabbing me and poking out of the side of my bump. 

I knew on Friday evening that something was about to happen. I just felt different. No signs of labour or that familiar period like pain. I just knew it was imminent. I didn’t say a word, not wanting to make Trevor excited or anxious too early. I had a feeling it’d take a while. 

By the early hours of Saturday, that throb was there. That dull ache in the back and thighs that began my labour with Iris too. The exact same feeling. I went back to sleep for a while, and was woken with a contraction at 3am. I checked the time. The next one came 10 minutes later. They were mild. Not painful. I went back to sleep.

By 6am I was downstairs in the bath. The contractions still 10 minutes apart but slightly more intense. Still not painful. I text my mum, knowing that she had a night shift on Saturday night and might need to arrange cover for it. I thought I had better warn her, put her on standby. Trevor and Iris were peacefully snoring upstairs and there seemed no point in waking them. 

Eventually I woke Trevor by texting him. He came down to check on me and Iris soon woke up too. As the morning went on the contractions got closer together and further apart. Getting us excited then disappointing us, over and over. I still strongly felt that this was it. That this wasn’t another false start. However slowly it was going, it was the real thing. 
By mid morning my mum had arranged cover for her shift and driven over the bridge to be ready to look after Iris. She entertained her while Trev looked after me. We called the birth centre to make sure there were staff. It isn’t always staffed as there isn’t always somebody labouring there. Luckily a midwife was there, which put my mind at ease. 

To pass the time and hopefully get things going, we went for a walk. Seb had a game of fetch and mum pushed Iris on the swings. The walking got the contractions really going and there was barely any gap between them. We returned home, excited.   
At home they virtually stopped. Again. 

I was frustrated by this point, and got a bit cross. I decided to go and wash my hair in the shower. Of course the shower was relaxing, and bought the contractions on again. One on top of the other. No gap in between. I stayed in there a while, letting the warm water soothe the pain as well as my frustration. 

I got out. Put my tens machine on. Took it off again. Got in the bath. Got back out. Bounced on the ball. They kept coming, slowing down, coming back again. I realised they died down when I was around Iris. Perhaps I felt concerned at how she saw me? I went upstairs. I came down and got back in the bath. 

Eventually the contractions stayed close together for long enough for us to believe that they were here to stay. It was evening. We headed to the birth centre. 

I’d forgotten about the real hell that is having contractions in a moving car. 

We arrived at 7:30pm, with me terrified that an examination would show that things had barely even started. I was right. I was disheartened. We went into a room with comfy chairs and a tv playing a shark documentary. I got a bit upset, then I laughed. We talked about us, our family, Iris. It was just me and Trevor. The contractions almost became too much and I cried. The midwife took that as a sign to run the water in the birthing pool, and I got in. 

It felt good. I felt like I was in there for hours, but in reality I can’t have been. I felt like I needed to push, but the midwife said the baby’s position was making me feel like that. It wasn’t time.  

 
I started to feel very tired. I got upset again, and having a natural birth suddenly didn’t seem so important. I wanted pain relief. Gas and air was provided and it helped, but not enough. I started to talk about giving up and Trev talked me into having a rest before giving in. I got out of the pool for an examination. I hadn’t progressed much so I asked for pethidine. It took a while but it took effect well enough for me to rest. Sleep even. Me and Trevor, snuggled up together on a tiny single bed. I don’t know how long we snoozed. I was woken by a contraction, a big one. I was told I couldn’t have any more pethidine for a while and I cried. I sucked up most of a can of gas and air while kneeling on the floor, squeezing Trevor and crying through each contraction. At some point I panicked that the cats hadn’t been fed and he laughed at me. 

More pethidine. More talk of giving up, more encouragement from Trevor. He said if I didn’t feel this birth, if I didn’t do it how I wanted to do it I would regret it forever. I told him he was wrong but he was right. I withdrew into myself and bit down hard on the gas and air mouthpiece. I was going to do this. Suddenly I was determined. 

The midwife didn’t bother us much through the whole night. I was never really sure when she was in the room and when she wasn’t. I think there was a long period, maybe hours, when I didn’t talk and nobody spoke to me. I just stayed inside my mind and pushed through. Not really there. Not really me. Somebody suggested I kneel on the bed instead of the floor. Trevor? The midwife? I have no idea. 

Soon after getting up onto the bed (well it felt soon, I can’t be sure) my waters broke. I was shocked at how much of it there was and sure I heard it pouring on to the floor. I was vaguely aware of Trev calling the midwife in. I think they changed the sheets behind me. I was later told by Trevor that this happened just after 5am. I felt the urge to push and I pushed, with every contraction. I felt the burning sensation of her crowning and I got scared. I could feel tearing. It was burning. I held back. I wasn’t trying to hold back but I did. My body wouldn’t let me. I pushed even when I didn’t really want to. I pushed and felt her whole body flop out of me in what felt like one go. I heard Trevor gasp and coo, I heard the baby cry. 

Then they put her in front of me. She looked exactly like Iris but with dark hair. Dark hair? It confused me. Why did she have dark hair? I turned around and saw the placenta delivered. Trevor had cut the cord after a delay. I held my baby. She was born at 5:50am. 

She was perfect.   
I wanted immediate skin to skin so handed her back to remove my top, and I was glad I did. The gas and air had dried me up so I’d drank gallons of water all through the night but hadn’t been for a pee. I threw it all up. I filled cardboard bowl after cardboard bowl, and soaked myself and the bed. It just kept coming. 

When I stopped they changed the bed yet again, and I held our daughter again. I held her against my skin and she rooted. She had a feed. She knew exactly what to do. 

I needed stitches so Trevor held her again. I insisted he needed skin to skin and made him strip off! I’m not sure he felt as sure about this as I did. The stitches were horrible. The sharp needles and scratchy feeling were awful and I had yet more gas and air. They weighed Astrid and did some observations, a full hour after she was born. 7lb 9 and a half ounces of perfect baby. She was so tiny, but heavier than Iris had been.  

 Then we were alone. The three of us. We called mum, Iris was asleep but fine. She hadn’t got upset at all and they’d had a lot of fun and she’d gone to bed happily. My biggest worry turned out to be for nothing. Iris had spent her first night without me and it hadn’t seemed to affect her at all. I felt so relieved! Trev text some people, I fed Astrid again. We had some tea and toast. Everything felt so good. I’d done it. I’d had a normal birth. I’d felt my baby enter the world, a feeling I missed out on with Iris and resented ever since. I was well. She was really well. We had to have observations for a few hours because of a small amount of meconium, but then we could go home. No overnight stays! 

  Trevor dashed off and picked up his biggest girls, as they had school on Monday and wouldn’t meet their new sister until Friday otherwise. I cuddled Astrid and snoozed a little. I did that first terrifying trip for a wee and it was ok. Then they moved us to another room so somebody else could use the pool. A little private room in the birth centre where I was the only patient. It felt like a different world to the noisy ward full of new mothers and crying babies where I spent more than 48 stressful sleepless hours after giving birth to Iris. I even read a book for a while. Somebody bought me dinner but I fell asleep and it went cold. 

The girls and Trevor turned up but the paediatric doctor didn’t. The girls held Astrid and fell in love. They all went to the canteen for lunch. I snoozed some more. My phone died and I was gutted I couldn’t take more pictures of my tiny snoozing daughter. Trevor took the girls back, and still no doctor arrived. They kept telling us updated times that he would see us, but each time he was too busy. I tried not to get upset, as a busy doctor means somebody is ill, but I desperately wanted to see Iris. A midwife said if he didn’t come I’d have to stay overnight and I cried. I was missing Iris terribly. At 7:30pm, 24 hours after we arrived, a doctor finally glanced over Astrid and discharged us. By 8:30 we were back at home. Mum held Astrid while we fussed over our big girl, and the sisters met for the first time. Iris was instantly smitten, and has barely left Astrid alone. She’s been showered with gentle toddler kisses almost constantly since. 

The whole experience has been incredible. So healing. I’m finally over the trauma that was Iris’s birth. We’re so happy. I feel so complete. 

Advertisements

Dear Iris, big sister to be

You’re only 18 months old, still a baby yourself. I started early in the pregnancy talking to you about the baby in my tummy. You seem to understand that much at least, and often kiss my belly and say baby. The way you say ‘no’ when I talk about the baby coming out soon worries me a little, but I’m sure with time to adjust you’ll be an incredible big sister. You have 2 big sisters of your own who adore you, and they will make good role models. 

Being a big sister can be hard. I am one. When your uncle came along I was a little older than you. I don’t remember being an only child. I don’t think you will either, and that makes me sad. These past 18 months have been the greatest of my life, because of you. I’ll remember them always, even if you remember none of it. 

I hated your uncle when he was born. I often tried to convince my grandparents to keep him. I offered him as a gift to complete strangers in shops. I couldn’t stand him. I don’t remember if I just hated sharing my parents. Perhaps. I hope you don’t feel like that. When your auntie and then other uncle came along I coped much better. I actually kind of liked them both. 
You’ll always be my baby. You’ll always be the girl that made me a mother. You changed me so completely in a way I don’t think your baby sister can. I’m scared I’ll never love another baby how I love you. How will the love stretch between two? Your daddy says he felt much like that when he was waiting for the arrival of your second big sister. His fears were silly though, he says. The love didn’t get shared, it multiplied. He just made more of it. Then when you came along he made even more. It hardly seems possible to me right now. The love I have for you is so overwhelmingly huge. I can’t believe I will soon make double! 

Your baby sister is due tomorrow. I never reached this date with you. You were keen to make an appearance and rock my world! Your arrival was a scary experience, and it’s left me feeling rather frightened for what is to come this time around. I’m really nervous. Not just for the birth, but for leaving you during it. I think you’ll be with Nanny, if she makes it across the bridge in time, and I hope it’s not too traumatic for you. You’ve never been without me or Daddy, and I’m worried you’ll find it difficult. It’s my fault, perhaps. Maybe I should have left you with Nanny for some practise. I just can’t bear to be away from you though. I’ve never really felt the need to leave. Never really felt that I need a break. You are my break. You exhaust me, but you fill me with joy like nothing else ever has. Why would I need to be away from you? 

I’ve made a huge effort this week to just BE with you. To notice every smile and every word. You’ve learnt to request a ‘cuggle’ this week and the timing couldn’t be better. Cuggle with you is exactly what I want to do. 

I hope you never think you’re less important now. I hope when your baby sister decides to cluster feed and I’m pinned down for a long time you don’t take it personally. You’ll always be more than welcome to join us on the sofa. The three of us, all cuddled together. Daddy too, when he’s at home. 

You may find you do more with Daddy now. He’s been trying to take over bedtimes as much as possible so that you don’t mind him cuddling you to sleep when I can’t. I hope I still can quite regularly. I have missed the way you fall asleep in my arms, all warm and sweaty and snoring quietly. 

I love you so much, Little Worm. I feel so guilty already for making this huge change to your little world. I’m so sorry.  

It’s partly for you though. You cry when your big sisters leave and I hate to watch you play alone looking a little bit lost after they’ve gone. Soon you’ll have a sister that stays, always. It’ll be a while before she can help you cook in your kitchen or you can paint together on the kitchen floor. Babies grow fast though. You’ll be best friends before you know it. At least I hope so. 

My biggest girl, I love you so very much.  

 

39 weeks

Yup, I’ve reached that last week before the due date. Hooray!

I HURT. My poor hips. My knees too.

There’s not much to say this week. The midwife decided upon my refusal to have a sweep that she didn’t even need to see me this week, which is fine by me.

It’s been a very long week. I think these last weeks always are. It’s a waiting game now. New Year has been a good distraction, but also exhausting as we’ve had a house full of kids and presents and Christmas decorations. Nesting instinct has definitely kicked in, and I couldn’t wait to get the decorations down today and restore the house to house rather than dump! The whole of downstairs is now sparkly clean and I’m itching to get upstairs done too.

Actually doing it is a whole different ball game of course. I’ve had to boss Trevor around a bit (otherwise he doesn’t do it my way – sorry Trevor) but we’re getting there. My SPD is unbearable a lot of the time, and I’ve found myself having lots of warm baths to soothe the pain. Not much else helps! I still have the cocodomol I was prescribed, but I hate the way it makes me feel so I’m avoiding using it.

We inflated the exercise ball, with the intention of me bouncing away some of the aches and pains. Unfortunately Iris is obsessed with the ball and won’t let me near it, so I’ve had to put it away for most of the day. She’s having a bit of a sleep regression, and often by the time she’s in bed I just can’t be bothered.

My insomnia is ridiculous, and is mostly caused by pain. I was in the bath at 4am the other night.

On New Year’s Day I felt awful, all day and night long. Really awful. I’m not sure if it’s Braxton Hicks or the slow start to things, but since that day of feeling awful I’ve had regular tightenings, as well as lots of period like cramps in my back and tummy and a horrible ache in my thighs. I know from experience that this kind of thing can go on for weeks before the real deal, so I’m ignoring it completely.

Trevor returns to work after his Christmas break today. I’m not happy about it! He’s been doing so much of the stuff that hurts (like chasing Iris around!) for the past two weeks and I’m not sure how I’m going to do it alone again. I think it’s pretty important that I get out and about, and see some people. I might struggle with the waiting game if I just stay home. Plus we spent most of the Christmas break at home and I’m desperate for fresh air. I know Iris is too. There won’t be any park trips though. I just can’t chase her or push her on the swings anymore.

I didn’t quite make it to my due date with Iris, so hopefully history will repeat itself and there won’t be another one of these updates!

 

Antenatal anxiety? 

I’ve written that with a question mark because I don’t know.

I don’t know if I have that. If that’s what is going on with me.

My midwives and my GP have all proved themselves to be useless with the physical stuff, so I don’t want to talk to them about the other stuff. The stuff that is even harder to talk about. This feeling I’ve been feeling for months and months now.

There are people out there who struggle with fertility and people who can’t have babies and people who would desperately love to be in my position and I’m well aware that I moan. A lot. There’s more to it though. So much more.

I’m so grateful. Feeling down about things and stressed, and just generally not liking pregnancy very much doesn’t make me ungrateful. It’s normal. No matter how happy you are to be having a baby, pregnancy is hard. It’s tough on your body. It makes you tired. It makes you achey and sick too, sometimes. It may be the most natural thing in the world, but it’s a lot to put your body through. Especially the end bit.

Then there’s the birth. I’ve come to the opinion that while lots of medical help is necessary for some, for most of us birth would be a lot less stressful if we were just allowed to get on with it! I like all of the appointments and listening to baby’s heartbeat. It’s reassuring. I don’t like the constant threats of medical intervention that I just don’t need. Stretch and sweeps, constant examinations, ward admissions just because you’ve been pregnant for a certain amount of days longer than expected. I’m not there yet, but the threats have started.

A previous traumatic birth causes a sort-of phobia. I’m not scared of birth as such, but I’m terrified of the birth I previously had and of history repeating itself.

There have been days when I’ve wondered if having another baby is a really very stupid thing to do.

I’ve had fits of rage that are really panic. I’ve cried in public over stupid things. I’ve shaken and sobbed and been more scared than I’ve ever been before. I’ve constantly worried what’s wrong with me.

Antenatal anxiety.

It came up during one of my many nights of insomnia spent googling what on earth could be wrong with me. It’s obvious now. I’ve always suffered with anxiety. I’ve been diagnosed before. I’ve taken medication for it long term before. It just didn’t occur to me that this was that, that pregnancy had its own anxiety conditions. I’ve read lots about post natal depression, but never of people having problems before the baby is even born. It makes perfect sense though. I have so much change ahead of me. Of course I am anxious.

I’m not going to push for any help now. I’m nearly there. I spent at least two weeks in a really blissful state after Iris was born. It was like a happiness had engulfed me. Perhaps that’ll return. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, it’s good to know that this thing is a recognised thing and that its normal.

Nearly there. Nearly the end. Just need to get there now.

38 weeks, and a very pregnant Christmas 

You’ll be relived to hear that this isn’t going to be the big old moan that my 36 week update was. That doesn’t mean I’m feeling much better or more relaxed, just that I can’t be bothered to moan anymore. I can’t be bothered to get upset with how unprepared I feel. What the point?

Being very heavily pregnant at Christmas is a very strange thing. I was pregnant through a Christmas with Iris too, but I was only 16 weeks and only just had a tiny bump. It wasn’t the same. This year I am HUGE. Emormous. Absolutely massive. Well that’s how I feel anyway. The midwives keep measuring my bump as slightly small for my gestation so I can’t be that big, but I definitely feel it.

I’ve missed alcohol this festive season. Really missed it. I’d kill for a G&T.

It’s been fun though, and busy. I’ve kept going and going through the hip pain that makes me want to curl up and stay still. There have been periods of rest too though, thankfully. Having Trevor at home has meant I’ve been able to sneak off for the odd nap. Those naps have saved me. They’ve meant I can get through to the evenings with the kids and still have a little bit of energy left.

The hip pain is severe now. The very pointless physiotherapist appointment I had a while ago informed me that I’d likely end up on crutches towards the end, and I’m pleased that I haven’t. It hasn’t got as bad as I’d feared. I’m reluctant to talk about the pain too much with any medical professionals now. They’ve made it very clear there is no help available for me, and I’m scared they’ll find any reason to talk me into a hospital birth. I do not want a hospital birth. That’s my biggest fear. No doctors unless absolutely necessary.

My plan is still to go to the birth centre and have a relaxed water birth. Trevor is sorting out an iPod docking station and I’ll sort out some relaxing music. My bag is packed. Loose plans are in place for the care of Iris while I’m there. We’re done. We’re basically ready. I feel anything but ready! I’m slightly nervous about staffing now. The midwife pointed out that I may have to go to hospital simply because there may not be the staff to open the birth centre. I told her that they’d have to drag me kicking and screaming then. I’m not going.

I had my 38 week appointment yesterday. It went ok. As usual it was brief and formal. Wee sample check, blood pressure check, listen to the heart beat, have a feel of baby’s position. Apparently she’s back to back in there, which I kind of guessed. Her position has felt weird for the last week or so, with feet sticking out of my belly where I wouldn’t expect feet to be.  I was advised to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor. I won’t be doing that. Instead I’m going to have a good read of the Spinning Babies website and some other links shared with me on Twitter. Trevor and Iris blew the birthing ball up for me last night too. Hopefully a good bounce will help her move around. I can feel her head grinding down low in my pelvis so I’m not sure she actually has the space to move around! Is it such a big deal? Does it really matter if she doesn’t move? I always worry that the midwives are trying to frighten me for no real reason, like they did a thousand times when I was pregnant with Iris. I’ve come to not trust them very much, which really is a shame.

The appointment ended with the midwife trying to book me in for a stretch and sweep next week, and then getting annoyed when I refused it. Baby will come when baby is ready. I want that to be sooner rather than later, but I don’t think trying to make it happen earlier is a good idea. I won’t be having a sweep the week after either, which she didn’t seem impressed about. “Well how exactly do you expect to avoid going overdue?” I don’t. Some pregnancies are longer than 40 weeks.

My next appointment with her is at 40 weeks and 3 days. Hopefully I won’t make it that far because I really don’t want to see them again.

Still, this isn’t actually the big old moan I said it wouldn’t be, despite appearances. Because I am ok. I’m happy and I’m excited. Not ready but excited! I’ve been washing and folding tiny little baby clothes and wondering how Iris can ever have been that small. Trevor keeps grinning at me and telling me he’s excited, Iris keeps kissing my belly and saying ‘baby’. Having a little tiny one around again is going to be lovely.

36 weeks

I wrote this last week, feeling pretty terrible. Things have got worse and then a lot better since then, and I don’t feel like this anymore. I still feel the need to share it though, if only for myself. To have it to look back on. Pregnancy is wonderful and beautiful. It’s also a huge thing to put your body through and even when it’s fairly uncomplicated, it’s still bloody hard work. I’m 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant now, and feel much much better. 

There’s only one way to describe how I’m feeling now, at 36 weeks and 3 days pregnant.

FED UP.

Although, it’s mostly not the pregnancy itself making me feel like that. It’s everything else. I’m not ready for Christmas, and I so want to be ready because it’s so close and because I love Christmas. I’m not ready for the baby either. All of the baby clothes were packed away as Iris grew out of them, and all of them are all jumbled up in big bags of various sizes and are in various locations all around my absolute dump of a house.

Which leads me nicely on to another thing that is really getting to me. This house. This mess. I’m too big and too sore to do too much now, but the whole place needs a good sort out from top to bottom. A serious sort out. The kind where you actually throw tons of stuff out. Not the kind where you say ‘oh this old broken useless thing, lets put it away for another 2 years in a weird location and reconsider our options then even though nobody will use this piece of crap in the meantime’. Which is exactly how we usually do clearing out.

Oh the laundry! It gets washed and dried and folded, but it NEVER gets put away. It’s virtually impossible. Iris likes drawers. As I’m putting clothes in one she’s pulling them out of another. So it just gets put into piles that grow and grow. I say ‘piles’ and not ‘pile’ because that’s exactly how it is. Not even in the same room. The cot (that nobody has ever slept in) is full, as is the spare room and both of the big girl’s beds are covered in it too. I have no idea where they will sleep at the weekend, and I definitely don’t know if I can find the inclination to clear the spare room before my mum is supposed to come and stay after Christmas.

We’ve all been ill. Mostly Iris, but me and Trevor too. Being ill when heavily pregnant sucks, but having a poorly toddler at the same time sucks even more. I need to get out of this house. We’ve barely left it in weeks and weeks and I just can’t take it anymore.

I AM SO LONELY.

Trevor works in renewable energy, and our current government are doing just about everything they can to abolish anything green so he’s working crazy hours to try to fight back. He’s off early and home late, gone for hours and hours and hours, and in the meantime I often don’t even manage to get dressed. It’s ridiculous. Iris is fantastic company and I love her dearly, but I NEED GROWN UPS. I need them now more than ever. I need other kids too, to entertain Iris so that I can watch her play for a bit instead of playing with her.

Most of all, I need some time off. This side of the baby coming. And this is not going to happen.

Yesterday I dragged poor Iris out on the bus to the supermarket. I wanted to buy Trevor’s little nephew a Christmas present and get lunch in the cafe with the kiddo. Oh, and we need toothpaste. The bus ride there was hell. I got my grumpy toddler out of her pushchair to prevent a screaming fit, but then I couldn’t convince her that jumping up and down on Mummy’s big belly was a bad idea. Ouch. She wanted to look for birdies out of the bus window, but it was raining and all of our feathery friends had hidden. Apparently that was my fault. I had a headache. I should have stayed at home.

To cut a long story short, I felt sick and dizzy and had to lean on the pushchair in the shampoo aisle for a bit to stop myself falling over. Iris screamed. Then I hid in the loo for a bit, but I still didn’t feel better. So I decided to just catch the bus straight back home, but the bloody driver saw me approaching the stop in a distressed hurry and drove off. 4 minutes early. I cried. A lot. There were people around but everybody ignored the heavily pregnant crying woman with the screaming toddler. People are so nice. Not.

Generally, I don’t feel too bad. Not physically anyway. I ache and it’s a struggle to get down on the floor with Iris, but that’s to be expected. The bugs we’ve been passing between us have hit me hard, but in between them I feel ok. Just very tired. Emotionally I’m a bit of a wreck. Probably because of the tiredness. I just can’t cope with anything. I want my mum! Iris knows I’m not myself, and has responded by clinging to me. Even poor Trevor can’t do anything with her, and she just shouts at him when he tries.

What we both need is a good dose of fresh air.

The pregnancy insomnia has reached a point where I just don’t bother trying. Iris goes to bed, and then Trevor goes to bed, and I just sit on the sofa doing some crochet or watching rubbish TV. There is just no point. If I’m not right on the verge of dropping off I know I’ll lie there arranging pillows and wishing I could stop Trevor from snoring. My hips ache like mad when I’m still and there is no place more uncomfortable than bed right now. So I sit and wait until my eyes get heavy and I’m struggling to do whatever I’m doing, and then I go up. I’m getting about 4 hours a night which is nowhere near enough. The only perk to not getting out of the house much is that I often nap with Iris. An extra hour in the afternoon makes all the difference.

I feel slightly better about the actual birth since going to visit the birthing centre last week. I’m still terrified, but at least I don’t have to go back to the horrible hospital where Iris was born. The birth centre only has room for 3 women, but rarely even has 2 at a time. The walls and corridors still look like a hospital, but the main birthing room is pretty nice. The lights dim, there are lamps and candles, a birthing pool, and lots of space. The main benefit is there are no doctors! They were so rude when I was in labour with Iris, wandering in and out constantly and disturbing me. I do not want them near me unless it is very necessary this time. I have my in-labour phone number stored, and we know the way there. I feel better.

I don’t have a bag packed, which is freaking me out a lot. I need to do some shopping and some packing, but I just can’t find the energy. I need to sort through the enormous mountain of baby clothes and find the newborn stuff. Help?

 

2015

A couple of days ago I came across this old post about 2014. It was a massive year for me. The biggest year ever. I became a mother. There’s not much that’s bigger than that. But 2015 has been pretty enormous too.

I started the year focused on baby led weaning. With a six month old Iris who was sitting up and rolling but not yet really mobile. She took to eating food so well that she was eating three meals a day before we knew it. It was easy peasy, if a little messy!

We switched over to using cloth nappies full time and haven’t looked back.

Iris kept growing, and kept getting funnier and full of life. She crawled, she splashed and she developed a real love of animals. Especially ducks and chickens!

I turned 30. It wasn’t the 30th birthday I’d always imagined I’d have. I wasn’t partying and drinking. I spent it with a family I never expected to have, and it was wonderful.

As Iris became more mobile we spent more and more time outdoors, and every single hour spent in the fresh air made us feel happier.

We babyproofed the house.

Galahad came to live with us, and him and Margot became good friends.

We did some decorating. laying laminate flooring where the horrible red carpet used to live. Trev hung three pieces of wallpaper then never finished the wall.

We seemed to gain more toys every day and our house was completely taken over! Iris didn’t mind a bit.

We hung out on beaches, in woods, in the sea and in castles. We walked miles and went kite flying. We bought an even bigger tent and went camping.

We stayed home and snuggled too.

We grew as a family, and I got better at being a stepmum. Iris adored her big sisters more and more with every weekend they spent with us, and as she grew into her personality they enjoyed her company more and more. My mum beat us all at bowling. Middle kid turned 7.

Iris got her first tooth. Then she got 10 more. We barely noticed them cut through and she’s hardly suffered with teething at all.

Her sense of humour developed and we laughed with her every single day.  

Iris stood, then learnt to walk with a walker. We found out we were pregnant again.

Iris turned ONE! We ate cake and hired a bouncy castle, and the forecast rain went away and the sun came out. I got very emotional.  All of our families came to celebrate, and all of the babies from our mum and baby groups came too. We had the best day ever.

We told the world our news, and were surprised by how shocked everybody was.

Iris took her first steps, then she ran, and then she really learnt to dance. We spent the whole summer outdoors.

Walking meant being able to join in with her big sister’s adventures!

We went to a wedding, and Iris wore bloomers that my mum made for her.

We camped in Beddgelert again, just like last year. Iris was a very happy camper. The weather was both wonderful and horrific. The mountains were breathtaking, the castles were fun and the sea was splashy.

Watching Iris learn with every day and every adventure filled my heart. Seeing her relationships with her family grow made me swell up with love. The realisation that I had a family, a proper wonderful loving family, hit me hard every day. I began to feel like a grown up, despite the house still falling apart.

Grandma got a new puppy. We found out we’re having another girl. The biggest kid turned 10 and Trevor turned 40.

Seb started causing trouble and so we spent a week with a dog trainer who made a whole world of difference. Iris helped.

We realised that we’ll never all fit in the car once the new baby comes, so we bought a funky van and all fell a bit in love with it. Iris fell in love with a pair of yellow welly boots around the same time.

We walked the dog. For miles.

I grew and grew, and ached and felt sick.  Pregnancy was easier than the first time. but harder too as looking after Iris at the same time became more and more tiring.

We found new favourite places.

The leaves fell from the trees and Iris insisted I put them all in my pockets.   We splashed in puddles, and sometimes fell into them. We collected pinecones, enjoyed the swings, and tested out the new local lido.

The Guinea pigs came to live with us and fitted right in.

As I got too big to do so much outdoors, art became a regular thing on our kitchen floor.

A friend of ours started an outdoors playgroup and Iris found out how much fun it is to make mud pies! The rain started and didn’t stop for weeks. It got colder and we just wrapped up warmer. We spent more time in the library. Iris learnt to demand cake every time we passed a cafe.

Now Christmas time is here again and 2015 is coming to a close. We don’t have a baby anymore. We have a walking, talking, demanding, strong willed toddler who is affectionate and hilarious. This’ll be an even better Christmas, as Iris watches fairy lights in wonder and tries to steal the baubles from every Christmas tree she sees. This year she’ll enjoy presents and mince pies and Christmas dinner and we’ll all have the most wonderful time. Then as soon as it’s all over, our new life as a family of 6 begins. I truly am the luckiest.