Two years old: eight busy months

In the weeks before his second birthday, Reindeer became a big brother.

That was a somewhat unbelievable eight months ago and I just can’t figure out how the time has gone so quickly. I’m running on an average of 3 hours of broken sleep each night so you’d think it’d go slowly since I’m experiencing much more of each day and night!

Reindeer found the initial adjustment to having a baby sister quite tough. She was a planned c-section so I couldn’t lift him as normal for a month. Luckily, he was happy to try all the new climbing adjustments for his high chair/bath access/car and so treated that side of things as an adventure.

As he is still breastfeeding, the first couple of weeks I was often tandem feeding baby and toddler so that Reindeer wouldn’t feel jealous. This worked well and it didn’t take long before he decided he’d rather wait until she’d finished her milk before having his. As soon as she was finished he took to saying “Daddy, take baby, want milk”!

Bed times in particular were hard work though, as he would sometimes have to wait for his sister to settle – never popular. We have a good routine now though which allows me time with each of them as well as some relaxed reading time with Reindeer, which he loves.

It has been any exhausting journey to this point, but it is so wonderful to see them together. Reindeer has accepted his sister far faster than I’d imagined. He will sit next to her when playing, they tussle over toys. In the bath he will wash her hair and make her laugh. In turn, he is her favourite person ever. She will look for him everywhere and has a huge smile just for him.

It’s exhausting. But worth it.


Week 74 – update 

This is just a quick update to firstly wish you a Happy New Year! 

And to also let you know that we’re still here – Reindeer is well and much has been happening – but a series of posts remain unfinished as I’ve not been well for a few weeks and so have had no energy to blog properly. 

Hopefully things will pick up soon and I can finish the posts I’ve started…

Week 53 – 10th wedding anniversary

Every couple of days I find myself exclaiming that ‘time has gone so quickly’. This week I had more reason for this than normal when we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

Looking back over the last decade we tried to list all of the new places we’d visited and experiences we’d had. It was a lovely list to look back on, and that’s before we reached Reindeer!

To celebrate, we went out for lunch with Reindeer and my parents and then for dinner just the two of us. This was the first evening we’ve been out together in the year since Reindeer was born, and it was lovely.

My parents looked after Reindeer (he was asleep before we left) and, although he woke up while we were out and wouldn’t go back to sleep until we were back, he was very calm about it all. Given that in May I couldn’t leave him in a room with family without him becoming very upset, this was real progress.

All things considered we had a great anniversary!

Random Rambling – a letter to Reindeer

Dear Reindeer,

At the moment you are sleeping soundly, blissfully unaware that tomorrow is a historic day for the UK. Once you’ve finished your breakfast in the morning, your Dad and I will be taking you with us as we cast our votes in the referendum on EU membership.

Don’t be fooled by the term ‘historic’ though. The classic use is to describe a historic victory, but remember that to others that same day was a historic defeat. Over the last months passions have been running high. Recently, this has meant a lot of insults flying about as supporters of each stance dig in ahead of the referendum.

The question of whether to stay or go is complex – economics, social responsibility, justice, immigration and climate are just some of the battlegrounds of the debate.

Whilst the ballot is secret I’ve decided to post my reasoning and decision here so that you can read it for yourself one day as, whatever the outcome, it will have implications for you and all your generation.

My first reason to remain is simply that I love being a part of Europe. Having easy access to travel and meet so many people, experience so many cultures, hear and attempt so many languages is a great gift. I’ve visited many European countries and enjoyed each one. There is always something new to explore and to inspire. You will find that we have adopted some of the customs we’ve learned about here at home! We have family who have moved to Northern Europe and spent happy holidays visiting them and spending time exploring their new country. Over the years we’ve worked, studied, socialised and made friends with people from the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Lithuania. This would not have been so easy were we not part of EU and I would very much miss the openness we currently enjoy.

Secondly, I appreciate the value the EU places on equality, especially for women and families. Today I have emailed my employer requesting a career break so I can spend more time with you. Things like paid maternity, paternity and parental leave, adoption leave, career breaks for caring responsibilities, national minimum wage, equal pay for both genders and protection from discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, ability/disability, age or marital status are all part of the EU ethos. Given the disgruntlement of some UK politicians and citizens, we might never have had these things were we not in Europe.

My third reason is a business one. Your Dad currently runs his own small business. One third of his business is with Europe. Being within the EU allows his business to compete on a level playing playing field. Leaving the EU is likely to increase costs and make it much harder to trade with customers still in the EU. Your Dad has put so much work into starting his business it would be awful to see it fade due to the UK stepping back.

The fourth reason I have is around tolerance and respect. The topic of immigration has been synonymous with the referendum. Many in the Leave campaign want to close our borders to refugees and economic migrants as Europe is currently experiencing the biggest influx of refugees since World War Two. Refugees are coming here because our governments have decided to bomb their countries in the misguided belief this will create peace. Others want to come here because they have few prospects and little hope at home. One joke doing the rounds is of Schrödinger’s immigrant who simultaneously steals your job whilst living on benefits and not working. It isn’t funny but it does highlight the absurd position taken by Leave. I won’t go into the arguments here (you can research those yourself!), but I will say that the NHS couldn’t function without doctors, nurses and support staff coming to the UK from abroad. The NHS is amazing and I’d hate to see it deteriorate as a result of xenophobic policy. Whilst I’m not blind to the concerns and difficulties of a (potentially) rapidly rising population, I’m well aware that many opponents of migration speak with hatred. Unfortunately the far right is gaining popularity across Europe. Their belief in superiority based on skin colour and religious belief is both absurd and dangerous. I fear for you should their hatred continue to spread. My feeling is that if we close ourselves off we’re not only ignoring the very human consequences of our governments decisions, we’re also missing the potential and the variety that other people can offer. Staying in should help us to keep our minds open, this is essential if bigotry and hatred are to be overcome. I’m sorry to say it but several of the politicians surrounding the Leave campaign hold some very unpleasant views and I cannot possibly condone those by voting to leave.

Finally, like many parents, I want my child to have as many options and opportunities as possible in life. I want you to be able to easily share with peers across the continent and, just as importantly, be able to positively influence our future. Because your future really is what the vote will affect the most.

As you grow I hope you will come to understand and love the values that we hold. These include being open to cultures and ideas, being respectful and courteous of people – even if you don’t agree with them, maintaining a love of learning which never stops, valuing knowledge, honesty and integrity, and above all, trying to love your neighbour because it is the first (and sometimes the most difficult) step in making the world a better place.

I’m writing this very late at night so forgive me if things have become a little rambly. Hopefully you will get the drift of my thinking.

In case it isn’t clear, I’m voting to stay in Europe because I love you and I believe this will give you the brightest and best chance for your future.

Love, Mama xx

Random Rambling – stress

I just need to shout into the ether that I’m so stressed about this return to work decision that I went to bed feeling sick, got up feeling sick and still feel sick now. I need to get this sorted because the anxiety is awful.

Hopefully HR will get back to me soon and I can get on with stuff.


Thank goodness I have Reindeer to distract me.

Random Rambling – much work-related stress

I should have realised when I blogged in March about return to work arrangements that it was too good to be true. At the time my line manager was very supportive and nothing was too much trouble.

There was talk of job sharing or using the hours I dropped to hire someone else for a specific project.

Yesterday, I received an email from work which has left me terribly stressed out. They’ve basically rejected the hours I submitted (based on my positive discussion with my line manager) and have started using phrases including: ‘shadowing more experienced members of the team‘, ‘compromise at 29/30 hours‘ and ‘can’t do this role part-time‘. That last is in direct conflict with what I was told two months ago when dropping to 2.5/3 days was fine.

The more experienced members of the team bit is just farcical. The role didn’t exist before I began maternity leave yet I’ve worked in the team, run a project in the team and been in the department at manager level for several years. I’m not a newbie and I’m not an idiot. Two things which my employer has forgotten in their restructure.

The bit that really lit the touch paper for me was ‘need details of your childcare arrangements as you really can’t look after a child whilst working at home‘. How patronising?! Do they think I’m stupid?! I’m very well aware that since I can’t even go to the toilet on my own while looking after Reindeer I’m not going to be able to focus on work at the same time; and my primary point there is because I couldn’t possibly keep him safe and happy whilst dealing with emails, processes and spreadsheets, not because I might miss a phone call! I’m hugely insulted that they consider me to have lost my professionalism to the point that I’d pretend to work at home. I’ve had a baby not an effing lobotomy!

I just want to bawl my eyes out as I really really really don’t need this level of stress. I’ve requested another meeting to try and figure out what has changed and where we can go from here. I love my job but I love Reindeer more and so there’s a real possibility I’m going to have to quit work.

So much for wanting parents to remain in employment.

Random Rambling – antenatal classes

Last July we attended our one-day antenatal class. I remember feeling nervous and excited as we joined the other couples in the room, wondering what exactly we’d let ourselves in for.

It was, unsurprisingly, scary. There were instruments the like of which I devoutly hoped I would never have to see again, let alone have used on me. There were videos that made me profoundly grateful I wouldn’t be able to see the business end when the time came. There were some very disturbing clips of unnaturally euphoric and loved-up American couples going through labour. There was endless propaganda about natural birth and breastfeeding. There were also a ridiculous number of ‘labour updates’ relating to a friend of the midwife who had apparently gone into labour over night and was texting her incessantly throughout the session. ‘Oooh, she’s mucking out the stables to encourage latent labour to end and regular labour to commence’ is not what you want to hear when you’re 37 weeks pregnant and can’t imagine pushing so much as a shopping trolley around the supermarket you’re so fat and exhausted.

On the positive side, we met the lovely midwife support worker ‘J’ who came to visit us at home a few times once Reindeer was born to give me a hand with breastfeeding when I had a bit of a wobble.

Looking back at that session now, I realise that what it mainly did was fill me with even more dread than I already had. By 34 weeks I was already getting sweaty palms and an increased heart-rate every time we drove past the hospital. After the class I just wanted someone to give me a caesarian. Be careful what you wish for as this is what eventually happened. The caesarian itself was great but I could have done without the 5-days leading up to it.

Thinking about the last few months, my itinerary for an antenatal class probably wouldn’t contain as much graphic information. I think there would be two main parts:

  1. I would focus on what each procedure is for and reiterate that you can say ‘No’ at any point and the midwives and doctors have to listen to that
  2. I’d give each person an uncooperative 24lb octopus, a 1 foot x 2 feet plinth, changing materials and a bowl of poo. They’d then have to put a nappy on and dress the octopus without covering anyone in poo or giving themselves a permanent injury

This is because I’ve only given birth once, but every day I have to undertake multiple nappy changes. Training for the latter would be more useful in the long-term than terrifying people about birth in the short-term.