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International Women’s Day

Bitchy, catty, moody, hormonal: these, and more, are words we hear attributed to strong women. These are words that show how society still views women. These words need to change!

Everyday, I meet, work with and am privileged to have in my life, strong and inspirational women. Women who fight for what they believe is right, women who put others first – their children, their friends, their family – women who power through the tough times with a smile on their face. Everyday, I wonder where these women find the strength; and I hope it’s the same place I do – from those other women in their lives.

We, as women, are always pushing to be taken seriously, to be respected in the same way, to be recognised as equals in so many areas. We need to remember to come together too. With the fight daily, we don’t need to be against each other too. Recently, I have seen too many incidents of women acting in a way that puts us back decades, that makes me doubt that every woman is on our side, and that needs to change. I am calling for all women to come together and support each other. We have a duty to care!

I am raising an independent little lady, and I hope she will continue to grow into a wonderful woman who can be strong, determined and loving. If we all did this, the world would be a little better. To those raising young men: if they can grow up respecting and valuing women, you’ve done a good job!

While this post is not about anxiety directly, it is under everything I do, and possibly those super women you know. Celebrate our strengths and cherish those women!

Strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

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Snow, Snow, Snow!

So, the ‘ Beast from the East’ has hit, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Baby Girl and I were up at 6.20 and out in the drive by half past, watching the tiny flakes and fingering at the snow on the car.

I want to take her out more today, it’s just working out where, and making sure she’s wrapped up for the Arctic temperatures.

I’ve had to say I’m not going to her normal baby class – although I love the snow – I’m not risking driving anywhere! This is time for trudging.

While she naps, I am watching the heavier flurries with a cup of tea, and getting super excited about what I could do today!

Stay safe and enjoy the snow!!!

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Where has the time gone?

Baby Girl is 10 months old! And if that wasn’t enough to be worried about, she is not only crawling with the speed of light, but is walking like she’s training to be an Olympic Athlete – which Hubby would be very pleased with.

She appears to be so advanced, watching and learning everything just a little too soon, that I don’t know what to expect from one day to the next.

She has never been one to be fed from the spoon, always grabbing in from my hand and thrusting it into her mouth, but now she blocks it, bats it away and (if we manage to get any food to land in the mouth) spits it out with a look of disdain and a scrape of the tongue. Miss Independent!

As well as Baby Girl developing into a Little Lady faster than I would like, I am back to work. It was nearly a year ago that I went on my maternity leave, and for the last month (minus the school holidays) I have been back at it.

3 days a week I have to leave the house while it is still dark with Baby Girl waving from the door (she’s become very good at waving), engulfed in the arms of Hubby. 3 days a week I have to leave the house with my heart breaking ever so slightly. 3 days a week I look into the back of the car via the continual mirrored reflection of the rear view mirror and the baby mirror, and see no Baby Girl in the car seat. For the first couple of times I had a small heart attack as I had forgotten that she was not supposed to be in the car on my 40 minute journey to work.

So, where has this time gone?

A year ago I was counting down to my maternity leave, waddling around and preparing to start our antenatal classes. Now, I am sat watching a small person – not a baby – eat her lunch while humming and dancing, waving her Ella’s Kitchen biscuit at me and sharing it with the dog via the floor.

I have a not so baby Baby Girl – and THAT is terrifying!

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Let It Snow

I awoke this morning to BBC Breakfast telling us how treacherous areas across the UK were due to the amount of snow. Looking out of my window, I felt nothing but disappointment. No snow! We seem to be in the only part of the UK where snow fails to fall.

Or so I thought. I am now writing this while watching flurries fall across my garden, making it look like a winter wonderland.

Why am I so enthusiastic? Well, everyone has their stress triggers, and everyone should have their excitement triggers. Mine is snow. Snow. Snow. Snow! I have thought about why it is such an inner excitement at the tiniest notion of snow, and have discovered it is all to do with my mental health, and a rescue from depression.

8 years ago I was on my final placement as a student teacher. It was terrible. The worst. So bad that I considered quitting the placement, the four years hard work, and just taking the degree rather than the qualified teacher status. I didn’t eat for weeks; I’d run on a hobnob biscuit at several cups of coffee during the day and half a plate of food in the evening. Suffice to say I was very skinny, sickly skinny. Later my mum would tell me how she was worried about my anorexia, which shocked me because I didn’t see it as that. I saw it that I was having so many panic attacks that it was making me nauseated just to think about school, so I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t stomach anything.

I would leave my placement (the last member of staff to leave) and go to my now Husband’s house, where I would sit and mark and plan while weeping. If he was at work, I would drive there and sit in the car park, knowing he would unlikely be able to come to see me, weeping. It was the worst I could possibly feel.

My saviour was the snow. A week before the end of term, just before Christmas, the snow hit. It came down like we were in the arctic. I attempted to drive to work, but after half an hour and only reaching the top of my road, I was called and told not to come. I didn’t have to go to the place that was sucking my soul, that was physically and mentally breaking me. For that day, I was free to breathe. And I did. Hubby asked to leave work seeing as there were too many staff for the weather, and we walked to meet each other.

I was told that the school wouldn’t open for a few days as the snow continued to fall. I stayed at Hubby’s, who was living with his parents at the time (as we both were) and spent a few days just eating, drinking and playing board games. It was exactly the break I needed, the distraction I needed, the fun I needed.

So, while others may see the snow as a massive inconvenience, I see it as my saviour, my comfort and my happy time. Let it snow!

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Weaning: The S Words

Continuing our weaning journey, we have stepped up the finger foods and baby nibbles.

There are so many ways of weaning, and as Baby Girl gets older, food can be more exciting. We’ve done purées from the pouch, handmade purées that I have mixed in different ways, and lumpier purées to get her used to textures. I started giving bits of fruit and vegetable (after studying what to do if she chokes) to allow her to feed herself with something other than the spoon, and feel the different textures – and have fun!

Exploring snacks for finger food and a variety of tastes and textures has been more tricky. The right snack is brilliant for while I prepare the main meal at dinner; she bashes and feeds herself while I busy myself with the ice cubes of purées and mash. While others are great as puddings, mixed in with yoghurt or fruit. However, I have recently discovered that some of the snacks I have chosen are full of the dreaded ingredient: SUGAR.

Any weaning guide will tell you to avoid salt and sugar for baby’s food, which you would think would be fine. If that’s the case for babies, then any baby food should avoid the ingredients, right? Wrong.

Initially, I was checking the ingredients of everything I was giving Baby Girl; I wanted to check whether there were chemicals or so met get I should test her with before giving the new food combination. Ella’s Kitchen pouches and snacks are amazing! They have no nasties, no sugar and no salt. This means no worries. I’ve also found that Aldi’s pouches and snacks are really good too, similar to Ella’s Kitchen, no nasties, salt or sugar (just a bit cheaper, but a smaller variety than Ella’s Kitchen).

 

 


Here’s the tricky bit, as I became more relaxed, I stopped checking all of the ingredients. I trusted the well known brand names and the packaging telling me what the products were.

  • Issue 1: Farley’s Rusks.
    img_3391
    Farley’s Rusks’ Ingredients: SUGAR

I bought these to give Baby Girl as a pudding finger food, or to crumble into yoghurt. It says ‘For All Ages’ and I remember having them, perfect! It wasn’t until I went to buy more that I realised there was a ‘low sugar’ version. Low sugar? Surely they should all be ‘no sugar’. Apparently not. I had given Baby Girl a whole load of sugar without realising.

  • Issue 2: Fruit Wafers
    img_3392
    Kiddylicious Wafers Ingredients: SUGAR

While getting the rusks the second time round, I saw Kiddilicious Fruit Wafers. Perfect, I thought. Fruit based, soft enough for her to much on and hopefully not choke (as she had with rice cakes). Once I got them home, I realised that, yet again, they had sugar in. Not just the fruit containing natural sugars, but in the list of ingredients there it was. SUGAR.

  • Issue 3: Cereals

Now that I am back to checking ingredients of everything, it is impossible to find a cereal to give Baby Girl which doesn’t contain salt or sugar. She will have to stick to my homemade porridge.

My Solutions

I took to Pinterest (I love a good pin) in search of rusks and other finger food snacks that I could make sugar and salt free, and what a result! I found several recipes that used great ingredients for brilliant snacks.

  1. Teething biscuits from Imprintalish were easy to make and quite tasty (Hubby thought so) but perhaps a little hard. Baby Girl has tried them but they often end up on the floor while bashing.
    img_3388
    My attempt at the teething biscuits
  2. ABC muffins from My Kids Lick the Bowl took a little longer (especially as my scales broke so I guesstimated as lot) but are so tasty! Baby Girl has enjoyed the taste and texture, as have I. A definite win!
  3. To try in the next couple of days, rusks from My Kids Lick the Bowl as they look scrumptious.

There are so many more that I would love to try, so fingers crossed for long naps so I can bake and save Baby Girl from those dreaded S words.
Note: I have no affiliation with any product or company, this is just my experience and opinion.

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Behind the Smile

You all recognise the smile that spreads across a parent’s face when they’re asked, “So how’s being a parent? How’s baby?” And the words “Great!” “Amazing!” and “Wonderful!” coming from said smile. But how accurate are those words?

I’ve said these words through that smile, and don’t get me wrong, things are great, amazing and wonderful. I’m a mum, and for a long time I didn’t think I would be (a story for another time), so I am thrilled each and every day that Baby Girl is here. But I also have to battle my pounding heart and the whirlwind of panic and negative thoughts.

I can look at her as I put her down for the night, with a kiss on her forehead and the words “I love you” still hanging in the air, and suddenly feel like my world could end. My heart expands and almost breaks a little as I take steps out of her room. What if I lose her? Even writing this now brings tears to my eyes. 

It is on the news so often, the lose of a child in different forms, for different reasons, and my breath catches in my throats at each story. Those poor parents. Terrorism, you can’t avoid. A car crash, you’d like to think you could. An illness, fingers crossed for the treatment to work. 

I go out walking with Baby Girl and the dog once, if not twice, a day. We cross roads, including busy ones, and the dog is great walking with the pram. But what if it’s not us, but a careless driver who clips the curb we’re standing on? Prams are made to be pushed ahead of you, so it’s the thing nearest to the road. The thing holding the most precious gift in the world is less than a metre from tones of metal hurtling at 30mph or more. This scares me! There would be nothing I could do. And then I get into a spiral of thoughts and emotion: I wouldn’t be able to go on. I would end up locking myself in a room for the rest of my life. I couldn’t have any other children, I couldn’t risk it. But that’s not fair on Hubby. What would he do? How do parents do it? 

This is just while walking the dog. Imagine what I’d be like if we lived somewhere more dangerous. 

These negative thoughts are my anxiety. I have always had an over active imagination, but it has become more focused on reality, especially around protecting Baby Girl. Having said that, I try not to let it affect how I go about my day. I still go out and walk with her. I know it wouldn’t help either of us if I let my worst case scenarios stop us living our lives; but it doesn’t stop the scenarios whizzing around my head at 100mph. 

So, while everything may be great, amazing and wonderful for those parents, remember that it may also be terrifying, nauseating and entirely stressful – and that could have nothing to do with the baby, just their mind!

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Easing Back Into It

As I am approaching my 9th month of maternity leave, I am having to consider my return to work. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts; I have a very understanding boss who has granted me a part-time position on my return, but before I get to that I have some KIT (Keeping In Touch) days to take up.

I decided that, instead of throwing myself into work on a day when it is hustly and bustly, filled with staff and students, an inset day may be better. The only inset day before my anticipate return in December, is Friday. This Friday. The end of this week!

I have to leave Baby Girl for a whole work day!

I have mixed feelings about going back to work. I am looking forward to having grown up company, about talking about things that aren’t to do with baby milestones, but so soon?!

Hubby has been very good about me going back, and is having Baby Girl for the day, so at least that’s something. I know she will be at home and have everything she needs handy. I know that she will be there when I get home, and be so happy to see me. He pointed out that I managed 4 hours away on Saturday for my girly lunch, but I was quick to respond with the fact that the lunch contained alcohol (thanks to my ladies for giving me a taste of their world with bubbly and wine over a lunchtime!) and that it may be frowned upon at work. Even if it is Friday.


Why can't it be like the 50s? 
When drinking at work
was perfectly normal and 
acceptable...

In preparation for Friday I have to:

  • Pump, pump, pump: there needs to be enough in the fridge for her.
  • Sterilise everything that morning: bottles for the milk.
  • Plan her breakfast and dinner: Hubby to feed her in the morning and I will be too tired at the ed of the day to mix and blend.
  • Have clothes ready for her, weather appropriate.
  • Fill the changing bag: in case Hubby decides to take her somewhere.
  • Have a timetable of her day: I know when she needs things and what we do normally, but it may seem rather random to someone else – it’s actually well organised.

And this is just for her!

For me:

  • Outfit for the day: grown up clothes that don’t have snot, milk, puree or sick on them.
  • Tech ready: laptop and iPad ready to go for the work for the day.
  • Mobile breast pump? Shall I take one to work seeing as I will be ready to burst. How would that even work?
  • Where am I going to go when I get there? The department’s changed, everyone else knows what’s going on for the day and I will just rock up and hope to see a friendly face that will get me to where I need to be.
  • Try not to have a panic attack.

I already feel my breathing getting shallow and my heart pounding at the thought of going to work. I have a distance to drive and have to deal with people at the other end. How can I do that after months of talking to only a few people and my day being governed by a mini-me?

This is all just for 1 day – I am going back in December. What am I going to be like then?