I think I’ve reached the good part…

Cub has just turned one, and I have to say, I am absolutely loving being a mum at the moment.

I make no secret of the fact that I found the first year really hard. For the first three or four months, he was colicky, refluxy, and generally fussy. That gave way at about four months, and we had a couple of lovely months when I started to get back the sanity that I thought I’d lost forever! Then we hit teething at six months, which seemed to continue for an eternity. At nine months, he started nursery, and picked up every bug going. Another two disastrous months with no sleep followed…

Don’t get me wrong, I would never say I didn’t enjoy the first year.  It was as amazing as it was difficult, and no matter how little sleep I’ve had, I would still do anything for the little man. But God, young babies are hard work! Really hard work!  There are people out there who think that the newborn period is the best. I regard these people with suspicion. I fear they have faulty memories- that, or nannies.

My newborn cried, a lot. I’m sure they all do. He was extremely cute, but you can’t really play with a newborn. You can’t even raise a smile for weeks! Tough crowd!

But now, he’s turned into a gorgeous, proper little person.  I sing, and he giggles. I dance, and he tries to copy me. He hears music, and he bobbles his head around like a nodding dog.  He waves and claps high fives, and he can say Mama. He squeals with happiness when we push him on the swing, and chuckles at the ducks on the pond. I’m sure he thinks dogs are strange little men doing a funny walk, and he laughs at every one that we see when we’re out.

He sees a goat and tries to climb it, because the world is a climbing frame….

He chats to himself constantly in his own language, and greets Mummy and Daddy with the biggest smiles. And he has his own, quirky little sense of humour. Light switches, animals, noses and tongues are all hilarious!

He has a personality all of his own. He is boisterous and energetic and curious. He is independent and loving and carefree.

Maybe I’m just not a tiny baby person. The first part was fascinating. But this is pure joy.

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Does a baby mean the end of romance?

Revived for Show Off Showcase on March 19th- Click the button to read more great posts!

ShowOff Showcase

Have you ever noticed how the vast majority of Hollywood romances are only about the courtship period? The “climax” is usually marriage, and the story is how they get from meeting to marrying. That’s the end of the story, the happily ever after.

Only, for most people, that’s only the tiny little bit at the beginning. For my husband and I, it took us 3 years to move in together, 5 years to get engaged, and 7 to get married- and that’s quite slow compared to lots of couples we know! I was only 18 when we met and he was 21, so we were in no rush. But Hollywood tells me that that’s the end- happily ever after. I was only 25! Surely that can’t be the end of the story!

Since we got married, our lives have changed so much. When we got married, we were both doing well in our jobs, and we had disposable income, nice cars, lovely holidays, we had both just lost lots of weight, so we were fit and healthy with fancy new wardrobes. We loved to do things spontaneously, and we loved to spend quiet time together, lazing in bed. We ate out lots, we saw our friends lots, and we were very carefree indeed.

A year later, I got pregnant, and all that changed- the loss of my income so I could be on maternity leave meant no disposable income, and the addition of the Cub meant no time to actually do anything anyway. We toyed with the idea of going on holiday, but the idea of doing a beach holiday with a suitcase of baby paraphernalia in tow, dealing with the logistics of naps and feeding in a strange place was just utterly off putting. I got rid of my fancy car to save money and now we share one- mostly, I walk everywhere.  And we both put on a ton of babyweight and our fancy wardrobes started to mock and jeer at us from the corner of the bedroom. (We are now fixing that issue, slowly but surely!)

Then there’s the exhaustion- the sheer, utter exhaustion. Not just the sleepless nights, but the real loss of time for ourselves, in which to recharge.  We now need to prearrange babysitting for a date night out (date night! I would have laughed at that idea not long ago!) and haven’t even managed a meal out together for two months.

This has been my day for most of the last week:

Awake for most of the night with a teething Cub. Then I get up, get Cub ready, kiss Cub and husband goodbye as they leave for work and nursery, get myself ready, walk to work, do a full day at the office, walk to pick Cub up, walk home, bath Cub, dress Cub, feed Cub, put Cub to bed, say hi to husband, run out the door to the gym, spin, come home, eat whatever I can find, say goodnight to husband, collapse in a heap.

We are like ships passing in the night, and honestly, we talk more over email at work than we probably do at home. So, I ask, how on earth do you make time for romance? How is it possible to fit in actual relationship stuff into real life with a small child? Because I do not want to wake up in 20 years and find that I have an empty childless nest, with a strange bloke in it who I barely know.

Tomorrow, we are going out for a meal together, just the two of us, and I am very very excited. I am excited to be going out with a man who is handsome, funny and caring. I am proud to be going out with a man who is a fantastic father. And I am very, very lucky to be spending an evening with my best friend in the whole world.

Also, I really bloody love tapas.

Maybe there is hope for us yet! Maybe romance isn’t dead. Maybe it’s just having a little break. I certainly hope so.

And the result for January is…

Woo-hoo, I’ve lost 13lb in January!!! You can read all the other Fitness Friday entries at the Monkeying Around blog.

Name: Laura
Blog: Cake and Tea Blog
Twitter: @cakeandtealover
Starting Weight: Loads. That’s all I’m saying.
Target Weight: Lots less!
Amount Lost: 2lb this week. That’s a total of 13lb overall.
Amount to Lose: Now 1st 7lb to get to pre baby weight! Then somewhere in the region of 2.5 stone to get my BMI down to where it should be. It sounds better split in two!
Dress Size: 18
Target Dress Size: 12/14
Why I want to lose weight: Lots of reasons…. I have a wardrobe full of nice summer clothes that I would love to be able to wear this year. I worked so hard to lose weight before I got pregnant, and I am annoyed at myself for gaining again. And I didn’t reach my final goal last time, so I have unfinished business! I want to prove to myself i can do it. I want my fitness back. And I want to look amazing!
Changes To My Fitness Plan: More running. I really need to be doing some longer distances to get round this half marathon alive. I have started with two 10k runs this week, and will build up my distances over the next month… hopefully!
How I Feel This Week Went:

I’m a bit out of synch with Fitness Friday because I do weekend weigh ins. But today I am covering the last two weigh ins, which brings me back up to date.

Weigh in 1- I put on 1lb! I was gutted! I’d worked my arse off in the gym, and looking back at my Livestrong.com entries, there wasn’t much wrong with my diet either. If I had to put the gain down to something, then it could be any of the following-

– Not drinking enough water

– Starting on the mini pill, which sent my body a bit nuts

– Stress and sleeplessness (Cub is feeling much better but still not sleeping well!)

– Still having cold. That does weird things to my body too!

Nonetheless, for whatever reason the result wasn’t great. But what I have learnt is that sometimes you can do everything right and not get the result you want. At those times, you need to take an honest look at what you have done that week, and see if you can do anything differently. And if you really, honestly, truly think there was nothing wrong, then you need to accept that sometimes the scales are bastards, take it with a pinch of salt, and keep going- losing weight is a mental battle as much as it is a physical one, and keeping the motivation going is everything.

So, I had a sulk, dusted myself off, and kept going.  Right up until…

Weigh in 2 – I lost 3lb! Yay! Now, the second week was, on paper, far worse than the first. It included an immense all you can eat Pizza Hut buffet, where I managed to eat 7 slices (I still see “all you can eat” as a competitive sport…) I only managed to exercise 3 times too, which is less than the week before, but somehow, I lost weight this week. Gods of the Scales, I will never understand your freaky little ways.

This left me a total of 13lb down for January! I am so happy with this result, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough. My husband lost 14lb and has won the January weight loss challenge! Well done to him for an amazing result! You can read about his week here.

(Can I just point out that I had a bigger % weight loss though?)

Tips I Would Like To Share:

– Scales are evil. Sometimes you do everything right, and they give you a number you don’t like. Prepare for that to happen, and stay focussed when it does. Don’t let it set you back.

– Setting small goals works best for me- setting a weight loss goal for a month is always good, or setting yourself a goal of losing the next half a stone is another good one. Small steps all add up to a big success!

Fitness Friday: Week 3

Time to reveal the result of my first weigh in of the new year (drum roll)….. 8lbs loss! Yay!!! It’s being a tough week with a sick child and not much sleep, but I haven’t fallen off the wagon. I am giving myself a big pat on the back for that!

Name: Laura
Blog: Cake and Tea Blog
Twitter: @cakeandtealover
Starting Weight: Loads. That’s all I’m saying.
Target Weight: Lots less!
Amount Lost: 8lb this week!!! Hurrah! That’s the first weigh in, so a total of 8lb overall.
Amount to Lose: Now 1st 12lb to get to pre baby weight! That sounds do-able. Then somewhere in the region of 2.5 stone to get my BMI down to where it should be. It sounds better split in two!
Dress Size: 18
Target Dress Size: 12/14
Why I want to lose weight: Lots of reasons…. I have a wardrobe full of nice summer clothes that I would love to be able to wear this year. I worked so hard to lose weight before I got pregnant, and I am annoyed at myself for gaining again. And I didn’t reach my final goal last time, so I have unfinished business! I want to prove to myself i can do it. I want my fitness back. And I want to look amazing!
Changes To My Fitness Plan: None this week, still trundling on with 4 sessions a week of running, spinning, body pump and kettlebells, in whatever combination suits.
How I Feel This Week Went: Another tough week. The cub has had the bug of doom. Stress levels have been high, sleep levels have been low. Nonetheless, I have stuck to the healthy eating and exercised. I definitely feel fitter already, and spinning is feeling much easier, which is a good sign. The downside is that my thighs are aching so badly I have to limp down stairs, and I make weird moaning noises when I sit down!

I have roughly been doing Weightwatchers, but I think I need to be stricter about writing things down, so that bad habits don’t creep in. Also, I need to start making my own lunches, because I am at the mercy of whatever they decide to serve in the staff canteen at the moment! Sometimes that’s fine, sometimes the food is either gross, or fried. It’s all very school dinners!

I am chuffed to bits at losing 8lbs, and I’m still feeling really motivated. I don’t expect to lose much at all next week because of the big loss this week, so I will just aim for a 1lb loss.

Tips I Would Like To Share:

-Weigh stuff. Maybe not everything you eat, all the time, but make sure you know what a portion of rice, breakfast cereal or pasta looks like. I am crap at portion control, and I usually pour three or four times the suggested 30g serving of cereal if I’m left to my own devices! If I want a bigger serving, that’s fine, but at least I’m not kidding myself that it’s 100 calories if I’ve weighed it!

-Avoid diet foods. Most things labelled low fat are either full of sugar, or come with extra fresh air. Either way, you’ll be starving after half an hour!

You can read all the other Fitness Friday posts at the Monkeying Around blog.

This is really, really, really hard

Friends without babies often ask me what having a baby is really like.  Before the cub came along, I asked people that too. The response is almost always “hard work… but worth it.” Hard work? I thought. I’ve worked hard before, I’m not afraid of hard work. Everyone has babies, how hard can it be?

Over the past 9 months, I’ve learned what a huge understatement “hard work” is. I write this post while we are in the middle of dealing with a particularly nasty bug. The cub is puking randomly, and because of this I am at home looking after him (despite having only returned to work last week.) He is hot, cold, snotty and grumpy. He does not eat. He will not be distracted, played with or placated in any way. He cries, a lot. 

He is visibly exhausted, but he will not sleep at night. For the first two nights of the bug, he was awake at least every half hour, all night, 7pm-7am. And not just awake, but crying. I do not deal with listening to the cub cry very well, I find it deeply distressing. I hate not being able to help him , I hate feeling like a useless mum, I hate that he is tired and in pain. I want to fix it, and I want some quiet, and I want to go to sleep. If he is crying, I cry too. I can’t bear him being so upset.

And on a different level, the constant noise drills into my head, and I start to feel frustrated and angry, and I want to run away, far far away. All night, I listen to him cry, and I try to help him, and he goes to sleep momentarily, and wakes again, and cries again, and my brain tells me to hide, and I cry. I feel  guilty that I feel anything but compassion towards this sick, helpless little one. My self-esteem plummets, and I decide I am an awful human being.  I offer him my breast. He rejects me angrily.

All day, he cries and moans, and whimpers. My nerves are shredded to pieces and I feel like I can’t take another minute. I need to go somewhere quiet, and rest, and sleep, and dream, for more than half an hour. But there is nowhere to go, he only has me. I plan meals, which he does not eat, I try to read stories but he cries. I try to play, and he cries. I try to sit with him for a cuddle, and he cries, and struggles, and tries to get away.

I fantasise about sleep again. I fantasise about having a night away, child free, about that holiday to Vegas that we never went on, and that we probably never will now for years and years. Then I feel bad. He is just a poorly baby, and he depends on me completely. How selfish of me to choose to have a baby, then wish for all the things I took for granted before.  He needs me, so I carry on.

This is hard. This is really, really hard.

Back to work…

This week, I returned to work after 9 months on maternity leave. I had really mixed feelings leading up to the big day. I was sort of looking forward to using my brain and socialising with adults, but I was dreading leaving my lovely little Cub. In fact, the day before, I cried virtually all day. I was an absolute emotional wreck.

It wasn’t just the fact that I had to leave him that was upsetting me- it felt like the end of an era, a reminder that my baby is no longer a tiny little thing that sleeps, coos and smiles- he is nearly a toddler, full of personality, crawling around at light speed and demolishing everything in his path in his curious, clumsy, irresistible way!

My husband and I took him to nursery together on his first day. We gave him to his key worker for a cuddle and some breakfast, and kissed him goodbye. I thought it was best to keep it short, so we left, and he didn’t really seem to notice- too busy making new friends!

I thought about him all day at work. It didn’t help that I had no PC access set up and no work organised, so I had a lot of time to think. I thought of calling the nursery to check on him, but decided against it. I made tea instead. Then I thought some more. Then I had lunch. Then I missed him some more, and willed it to be 3pm. At hometime, I walked so fast to the nursery that I looked like one of those bum wiggling olympic walkers, but I didn’t care, I was just dying to see his little face.

When I went back for him, he was tucked up in a buggy, snuggled up in a bundle of blankets, fast asleep. He had just come back from a walk.  We let him snooze while his key worker chatted me through his day- he had apparently eaten everything he had been given, and even made a bit of an attempt to take a bottle (I had been worrying that he wouldn’t take any milk at all.) He had slept a little, and played a lot.

And me? Well, work was ok. I’ve had a good catch up with my colleagues, but I don’t really have much to do yet, so we will see. In a way, it feels like a bit of a rest from full-time mothering. So far, so good.

I couldn’t have really hoped for a better start. I hope Cub will learn to nap there,  as he only had half an hour each day in his cot, leaving him frantic and overtired at home! But other than that, he seems happy, and I’ve just about stopped crying. Hopefully that’s the worst bit over with.