Becoming a mummy

I’ve been considering writing something like this for a while but not had the confidence to do so. You’ll know I’m pretty open, honest and put some of my rawest feelings on this blog in the past. But why is this so different? I’ve been so afraid of being judged – by you. So I am proud to say that I’m now in a place where I welcome your judgement as I am (finally) completely confident with what I’m doing and who I am: a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a wedding planner, gluten and dairy free, exercise addict…The lot! I am unapologetically me.

Becoming a mummy changed me and it’s taken me a while to find myself again. I think it’s taken a million little steps. Having Ziggy turned my life upside down. Being pregnant and giving birth had some trauma attached too.

I don’t think our culture prepares us well for birth or for motherhood. Birth can be absolutely terrible, mainly because we’re led to believe we can control it, make a plan. Newsflash – I don’t know 1 woman that has had the birth they planned. By the time I came to giving birth I was so out of control. I had lost any control I thought I had (but never really had) weeks, even months before thanks to my heart. This made my birth experience really enjoyable as I accepted the lack of control, I sat back and let it happen. However Ziggy came out was fine with me, as long as we were both safe and as healthy as possible. It didn’t go to any sort of plan and took lots of twists and turns but I was calm throughout. I genuinely had a very enjoyable day even though they poked long spikey things (needles and other things you won’t want to imagine) into me and cut me in half that day. I simply cannot believe some people shame others who birth in certain ways – but that’s a whole other story.

With motherhood, we’re all trying to portray that we’re coping perfectly well and it’s all a bloody dreamy time – the instagram life. That’s not real life for anyone! At times being a mum has felt absolutely incredible, I’d describe it as the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. But at times it’s been terribly frustrating, sometimes lonely and bloody hard. Oh and tiring. Tired tired tired always tired.

At my happiest I’ve cried; at soppy love songs that now make me think of Zigs – soz Ben, when Zigs laughs at me and we connect on an insane level, when I achieve things I didn’t think I could.

At the hardest times I’ve cried, feeling like I won’t ever go out for a run again, at the amount of work I have to do for weddings but no time to do it, when I’ve felt misunderstood by friends or when I’m just so so tired and ill and I felt I would never feel better.

I realised a few months back that I’m going through a huge phase of personal development, of growth, and this is one of the most significant points in my entire life. Obviously it already was on other levels and in other ways but until I saw this as an important stage of growth for me as a person, I just wasn’t connecting with the change I was feeling.

This is when I started treating myself better and prioritising my needs, mainly over things like a clean house, an empty dishwasher and an empty washing bin (it’s amazing how this can distract you and make you feel that it’s more important than YOU! Or that you distract yourself with to avoid tackling YOU!). I started to work through some of my feelings, really notice and acknowledge them like I would have before Ziggy.

Becoming a mother has given me

– an incredible amount of responsibility, that I really enjoy having and this responsibility has given me a heightened sense of self worth. Not arrogance or importance just worth and value, if only to Ziggy and Ben

– strength and courage, to fight harder for things I care about and stand up for myself when needed

– more interest in more things and I genuinely enjoy life even more

– empathy, not only for mothers, fathers, guardians, carers but for everyone, I hope

– time to slow down and see the real world. Little things like connecting with people in the street when Zigs smiles at them. I’m a weirdo that smiles at everyone anyway and often get nothing back, but smiley Zigs gives me an excuse to chat to people – stranger chats are really one of my favourite things. Then simply just seeing the world through his eyes is so wonderful. The first time he could see a plane in the sky – ridiculously banal but he could see that far and could see it moving and it wowed him. Wow.

– different relationships with my parents, my brothers and Ben’s family. We’re all closer and there’s even more love and affection there now

– clarity of who my friends really are through now they have been with me when I’ve been through this huge change, and how they love Ziggy

– new friends. Its been an amazing opportunity to meet new people, see new perspectives. I was adverse to this at first but I realise this was due to my fear of judgement

The thing is has taken away is time. This is even more precious to me than ever before. I see those memes like: trying to balance work, gym, seeing friends, planning a wedding blah blah. I’m like, balance all that plus a baby and many, many weddings…!

Time races and I feel it, not just because of Ziggy growing up at speed but to truly be juggling what often feels like a million things at a time. And wanting to do them all well. My time isn’t completely my own anymore. It belongs to my family and my couples. One of the hardest things has been to define and respect my work boundaries in such a time bound role in people’s lives (wedding planner) while learning how my new life even works. I think I’m there with that one, thank goodness.

Becoming a mum has been an incredible experience and I feel like I’m still on a journey of becoming a mum. The newer-mum-me is a strong, more resilient and confident woman. I am so thankful to motherhood for helping me become this woman!

If anything, I’ve learnt to be kind to yourself, let go (for goodness sake!), trust your instincts, be strong, be you (you can’t and don’t want to be anyone else) and you will be happy. Mother or not!

Advertisements

I’m tired.

It’s been a rough few weeks for us Whites. A bought of illness means Zigs has been sleeping badly. I know I’ve had it good so far with the little guys sleep. I seriously cannot handle a couple of bad nights in a row. It’s been about a month now.

Good luck if you continue reading. Who knows what slosh will come out…

Lack of sleep has a seriously detrimental affect on my colitis. Good sleep is also the one thing that has the most positive impact on my recovery. So you can imagine that almost a month of bad sleep is leaving me in a pretty bad state. Ben will tell you I have even been known to say, ‘I think I’m going to die’. Drama queen or what?! At the time I really meant it!!!

Lack of sleep is used as torture. There’s good reason for this, it effing sucks. It makes you do and think all sorts of weird things. I’ve found it brings on anxiety. The easiest thing would be to curl up in a ball and hibernate with your baby, but that’s never an option is it mums and dads?!

Woe is me. But seriously, I’m drained. My colitis is kicking my ass and a good sleep seems the only way out. I’ve also decided to start giving Ziggy some formula so I’m not exclusively breastfeeding (along with the food he’s having now he’s weaning), in the hope that my body can use some of its energy for itself!

Heart wise, I have an MRI scan lined up in March which will give us a proper picture of how my heart is. Until then, we’re going with the likelihood that it’s doing well. Bad colitis does not help my heart as I lose blood, lack nutrients my heart needs and my heart generally has to work much harder. Something we don’t really want it doing.

Today is Time to Talk day. An important reminder that it’s good to reach out to those you know for a proper chat. Maybe more than a quick text or a WhatsApp. Offer a chat and be there to listen. Something that, sadly I learnt the hard way, is so bloody important. Being a mum, pretty much always being sick and running a business has been really bloody hard at times and I’m so grateful to those that offer an ear. I may well have been in a different way right now, without talking. Something I wouldn’t joke about.

Happiest of birthdays to my most gorgeous friend Jack for tomorrow. We miss you xxx

A note for baby Ziggy.

(Written at 4.45am, Friday 24th November 2017)

I thought I knew what it would be like when you came along, atleast had some sort of an idea. How wrong I was.

These last 4.5 months have been a rollercoaster. They’ve been so tiring, sometimes painful, often challenging, almost always emotional but educating, highly rewarding, life affirming, very interesting and down right absolutely incredible. I can’t believe I see you discover everything for the first time. 

You already have your ways…

The way you look at me from across the room.

The way you raise your left eyebrow when you’re inquisitive. Or being cheeky.

The way you smile, whole mouth open, when you’re happiest.

The way you cackle when I tickle you.

The way you grab something you’ve not seen before, and instantly try and put it in your mouth.

The way you chat to daddy when he comes home from work. Are you telling him all about your day?

The way you smile, giggle and shake with excitement when we dance with you.  

The way you look at Dave the dog.

The way you are so happy when you’re naked on a changing mat.

The way you drink, and drink, and drink.

The way you look up and out at the world around you, with your big blue eyes, when you’re in your sling.

The way you smile and chat at everyone you meet.

The way you bury your face in my chest when you’re shy. 

The way you rub your rosy red eyes when you’re tired. 

The way you fall asleep on my chest, and snore like an old man.

The way we snuggle after your 4.30am feed.

The way you lie in some mornings, like today: hating to be stirred, like a teenager already.

Thank you for being all that you are.

WOAH there DOUBT

Last week I had the perfect birthday weekend with my boys. This picture is a snapshot into one of my happiest birthdays.

But just 2 weeks before this, I was not happy. I was struggling with almost crippling self-doubt and quite bad anxiety. I can only describe it as an immense feeling of pressure and WOAH.

I was having a hard time with Ziggy who, we now know, has silent reflux. He hated going in the car, he was being a fussy eater, not sleeping as well. I went from being a super confident, laid back mum, to starting to question everything I was doing as a mum. I didn’t want to go out but I didn’t want to be at home. In my mind, nothing was right. My weddings work felt like it was overwhelming me. I didn’t recognise myself.

So one Sunday, I exploded. I let it all out. Ben sent me for a run. I came back already feeling much better. I also had an idea of how to feel better. I had to put my personal wellbeing and self-care back near the top of my agenda. It has sat at the bottom for too long and it’s affecting my mental and physical health. How many times in life do I need to be reminded that, even when things are good, I need to keep on top of my little tactics and strategies to ensure I stay healthy? To be fair to myself, I have just been through some pretty life-up-in-the-air shit but you’d think I know this routine by now.

(For non-child carers, you may wonder how I don’t even have time to do a 10 min meditation or go for a run. I can’t explain it but the day just bloody goes! If my run isn’t high up on my list for the day, it ain’t happening!)

So anyway, back to the drawing board, recapping and defining my priorities and here we are, working the only way I know how: with a bloody timetable again. This is the only way I can find balance with all of the things that are pulling me in 10 different directions, including my wellbeing. It’s a flexible timetable, but it’s there to guide me and remind me to do the basics like order my medicine and go to my hospital appointments (things I may well have not been keeping on top of – eek).

The other thing I needed to do was, well that, just DO. Stop staring in a fuzz at the overwhelm of trying to work on weddings and crack on. Bye bye doubt, hello do. It’s amazing how much you can do when you decide to turn those doubtful voices around and just DO. The doubtful voices were telling me I was bad at my job, that my couples hated me, that my weddings were out of control. Now I’m on the other side of it and literally decided to ignore the voices, I can arrogantly say that none of the above are true! You should see my spreadsheets people!

2 weeks later after trialling these new plans and ways of thinking, I’m pleased to say I’m feeling a lot better. It also helped that we visited the paediatrician with Ziggy just to check in on his cow’s milk allergy. When they confirmed he had silent reflux and explained the symptoms, everything just fitted into place and made sense. I got my confidence back too. That’s why he hates car journey’s. That’s why he eats so much. Given this diagnosis, we’re so lucky that this boy doesn’t cry and sleeps so well!

Zigs recent developments are a reward for the tough times. He’s now almost 4 months and has reached a whopping 8kg, putting on half a kilo in 2 weeks! His neck is suddenly supporting his head fully, he’s chatty all the time, sleeping for 8-9 hours straight, grabbing and batting toys, almost rolling over. It’s all happening!

Please remember that, like me, your mental and physical health is and always will be an ongoing project. When I neglect mine, it neglects me. It needs some of my time and focus every day for me to be my best. Be there for yourself!

And finally, this crappy little thing came to me in the middle of the night and it’s stuck with me for 2 weeks now so may be worth sharing –

Wellbeing is an
Ongoing project if I want to
Achieve
Health and happiness

Juggling act

A picture says a thousand words: Zigs is fast asleep from a car journey and I can steal an unknown amount of time to reply to my couples and manage our life admin today. No pressure!

Well everyone said it, but until you’re thrown in the deep end, I suppose you don’t really know what’s it like. I’m talking about the juggling act of being a new mum, a wife, a friend, a sister/daughter and running a business…oh and still being myself and staying healthy!

It’s 10 weeks since Ziggy was born and it’s been absolutely incredible, but not without these highlights: nights where you get just 3 hours of broken sleep and the silly amount of hospital trips for my c section mess up. We’ve been through it a bit – as everyone finds I’m sure – but just over 2 weeks ago we set off for a trip to Italy, which we’ve just returned from. This trip came at the right time for us all.

The holiday/work trip fell during one of Ziggy’s growth and development spurts which meant he was a bit more grouchy and attention seeking than normal, but we we are able to cope and give him the attention he needed. It came when Ben and I needed some time away from the norm which was becoming a bit claustrophobic and routine-y for us. It also came when, it seems, my lack of sleep really caught up with me but I was able to rest for a few days in row with help of Ben and my parents who joined us for part of the trip.

One of the benefits of the trip for my personal wellbeing was the headspace to stop and consider what I think I might want as a mum. I took the time to think about how I can balance being a good mum to Ziggy (by mine and Ben’s definition…! Not blogs, instagram etc…!) managing my business, my charity work and some of the things I enjoy and that make me, me. And finally those that keep me healthy; exercise, accupuncture, writing my blog etc. My conclusion – bloody hell it’s going to be a challenge!!!

I’ve realised that although all of those things are important aspects of my life, the amount of time I spend on them will grow and shrink as and when other parts become priorities. Up until now, it’s been about Ziggy and Ben and they remain my number 1 and always will. In the next few weeks, I need to try and find the time to increase the time spent on Wiskow & White (W&W) and I’d like to re-introudce my exercise classes. So, classic me, I’ve created a little 2 week timetable as a test to see if I can do the things I want to in this time. If Sophie Brill is reading this, note that this includes rest days!

For example, 1 day a week I will spend at my parents while my mum looks after Ziggy and I can work on W&W. I will aim for a spin class a week for the time being. Just to give you an idea, this means Ben gets in from work, takes Ziggy, I run out the door, Ben feeds Ziggy the milk I’ve expressed, bathes him. I come home and give Zigs him bedtime feed and then we have dinner. Then I imagine, I crash out!

The other aspect of managing this, aside from the old timetable is plain old efficiency. When I get my spare 10 mins before Ben heads off to work and is playing with Zigs, or when Zigs has dropped off or is happy in his bouncer – I need to know what the most important things I need to do that day are so that I can smash through them. This is where my daily lists come in. Each week I’ve just been defining what I need to get done that week, a few things a day and it’s been achievable thanks to the iPhone.

Once again I must say hats off to all of the parents and guardians out there, making this juggling act possible. I’m sure the timetables and lists are a stage most people go through. I’m interested to learn what’s next! I can only imagine it goes through phases of getting easier, then harder again. What an amazing thing to achieve every single day you legends!

p.s More on going on hols with a 2 month old to come soon!

28 days later

Zigs is 5 weeks old today. I stated this blog a week ago when he was 28 days old. Ironically, the blog was all about how the last month hasn’t been quite the horror show I’d been expecting. Then we spent 5 out of the last 6 days in hospital…

First there was a Brompton check up for me. This went really well and I’m doing well heart wise. I certainly feel great compared to 5/6 weeks ago!

Then there was an emergency trip to hospital, via the GP for Zigs. They thought he had an infection. Turns out it’s a dairy allergy. Easily fixed!

Then on the weekend we had a full blown ambulance trip to A&E for me, after calling 111. I had sudden, heavy blood loss – concerning anyway but particularly dangerous with my heart. A few tests (and days!) later and it turns out the c section wasn’t ‘tidied up’ properly and I’ve got ‘residual products’ in my uterus. I’m on anti b’s and we’re hoping they’ll just come out naturally…

But the main thing is, we’re absolutely fine. Just fed up of going to body hospitals…!

So, back to my previous point: how having a baby and being a mum really isn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. Even with various recent hospital trips.

I chose not to read too much about looking after a baby, nor buy too much before having Zigs. This is unlike me. Usually I’d read everything I could and plan it to a T with the very little experience that I had. Instead, I decided to inform myself to a very minimal level and do the rest ‘on the job’ so to speak. Given our pre birth dramas and my acceptance of the lack of control I have over pretty much anything in life, it seemed fitting to apply this to post birth too.

I did also find that when I started to read, I started to get very overwhelmed. It felt like I needed to seriously study this new topic. I also found the reading disheartening and noticed it impacted my confidence un being a ‘good’ mum (whatever that is). Every blog, article etc. tries to help but it made me feel like everything could potentially go wrong. Every angle was that x is hard and then what to do if it doesn’t work. When you read that about absolutely everything from sleep to breastfeeding it can really begin to weigh you down. I wanted a realistic view of everything but felt this was too pessimistic. So I stopped for my own health!

So, given my limited mum prep…we’re doing ok! After getting back from hospital we’ve had 2 weeks with daddy (seems to be my perm new name for ben – awkwardly even in public!). And we’ve now come to the end of the second week just the two of us.

First (of many) weddings at David & Nina’s amazing day.

We’ve been lucky to see so many of our friends and family in this time. Highlights have been the countless pub trips – including a quick one on the way home from hospital. Going up to Chelsea to register Zigs birth, getting him a passport, the 2 Brompton trips to see all our doctors. Going out for lovely walks and even to an amazing wedding! It’s just been so fun getting to know each other. It’s definitely taken that time for us to understand Zigs and what he needs and for him to get to know us too.

Luckily Zigs is chilled out and (at the moment), let’s us do what we want. I don’t expect this to last forever. Thanks to a great initial (!) c section experience, I have recovered well. By day 6 I was out and about. And week 2 I was back to driving.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t read and read. Everything is so brand new and I couldn’t have read how to do it all – you just do it! I’d never changed a nappy, held a brand new baby, breastfed, clothes a teeny baby, had such little sleep and juggled a million things I didn’t even know existed before – but we’re all still alive and pretty happy with it!

Zigs finds hospital trips very relaxing!

How? TEAMWORK. Ben’s truly a great partner and dad. So are our families and friends. It’s a real team effort. Things that have been particularly helpful and I’d recommend:

1. Sleep shifts. Ben takes Zigs from 8-12 while I sleep. I then take him from 12-7 so Ben gets a good sleep ahead of work.

2. Baby meals. A local community thing that may not exist everywhere, but you should seriously consider founding in your own community… New parents get meals delivered every evening by a member of the community for 2 weeks. This was incredible and saved us shopping and washing up as well as cooking!

3. ‘The New Mum’s Notebook’. A great place to write how you’re feeling, record moments and offers a pep talk to remind you how awesome you are for keeping a baby alive everyday.

4. Cocoonababy. Not for everyone I’m sure but a great, secure place for Zigs to sleep at night, instead of a Moses Basket perhaps. Also transportable.

5. Ewan the sheep / White noise app. Just try it.

6. Talking. Just being completely honest with Ben about everything. What’s working or not working for both of us and supporting each other to make changes that help.

Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve certainly faced our challenges. Sleep deprivation, constant learning, a complete life change and a crying baby can really add up. I’ve had one spectacular melt down over a crying Zigs. But after a good chat with Ben, it’s all been on the up.

So what’s coming up in month 2 of life with Zigs?

Exercise! I’m attempting my first workout today. I am expecting to ache and I’m not even going to do too much.

Italy! A quick trip for 2 weddings, some venue viewings and some relaxation.

Bottle feeding. Getting Zigs used to taking a bottle so I can think about going out for a short while or just having a breastfeeding break.

More development for Zigs. Starting some classes once he’s had his jabs.

Starting weddings again. Aiming to juggle a bit of work with everything else…not expecting too much here!

Let’s see how this goes…

(As with all my blogs, just here for general comment and discussion. I know that everyone’s different and each to their own!)

Our birth story

The internet is crammed with new mums sharing their birth stories these days, so I thought it was my turn.

Warning This blog contains graphic content, more over sharing than normal (possibly) and goes on a bit…!

Let’s see where we left off…I was about a week away from my planned induction that was scheduled to be on Monday 10th July. Ben and I went to Chelsea & Westminster with a ridiculous amount of luggage, anticipation and snacks. We were put on a 6 bed ward and quite quickly told the plan had changed – obviously. I was due to have a normal induction where a gel is given to stimulate labour of 48 hours. It was decided that the gel wasn’t a good idea given the state of my heart so we got told that we got to skip that bit and go straight to the action. We just needed a labour ward bed to free up. However, hours passed and we realised that (quite rightly!) due to the lack of urgency in our case, we were at the back of the queue and kept getting trumped by women already in labour – how rude!

The night passed. Ben slept on a airbed and we listened to the screams of women in labour all night long. Soothing…!

The next day at 7.30am we were moved to the labour ward and given our snazzy room. Remember at this point, I’m not in labour in any way, just my normal heavily pregnant self, raring to go! We showered and got ready for the big day. Just a short while later we were introduced to our 2 midwives and the doctor gave us the plan. And then we got going – manually breaking my waters. Not a nice experience and I won’t go into detail. Long and short of it – it wasn’t easy, there was a long stick and a hook involved.

Then it was time to start on the hormone drip that would induce my labour. All good. About 4 hours passed and things were going well. I was having contractions (felt like period pains) and I was ‘moving along’ as the docs had hoped. Another couple of hours later and the pains were full on, so I had my epidural – a requirement from my heart team to reduce the stress of pain on my heart- and a lucky escape from pain! Another 4 hours, a film, an episode of Fargo, lots of snacks and I was checked again. Unfortunately I wasn’t ‘moving along’ so well. We agreed with the docs to give it 4 more hours and see if I was ready to push.

At 10.30pm, we decided the induction wasn’t going to work and I’d run out of time that I was personally allowed on the drip. So c-section it was. We were quite calm at this point and the Doctors and midwives (as they had done throughout the whole day) explained things in such great detail and clarity.

At midnight we were taken into the operating theatre and shit got real. I was petrified. Something I never saw coming. I was shaking uncontrollably and just couldn’t get my head straight. I think I was worrying about dying (they’d told me this was a very risky procedure for me because of my heart), about the pain, whether Ziggy would be OK, how Ben was feeling. And 9 months of pure anticipation built up. Just so much worry. I tried deep breathing, repeating my positive lines I’d prepared – nothing helped. Then we put on Kings of Leon…it worked wonders! Everyone in the room seemed to calm down.

“We’re cutting you now” – the words that signalled I was completely out of control and at that point, I let go. I did not enjoy the experience of a c-section. Yes I could feel every tug, dig, pull, bone crunch. The noise of the suction. But then, “Daddy, stand up”. Ben, who’d been face to face with me the whole time, calming me down (looking good in scrubs btw!) stood up and looked over the screen and I saw his face just go into shock – he could see my open tummy and half of Ziggy, who was then just pulled out! I’ve since seen a video and I can see why Ben was so shocked at the sight!

They dropped the curtain and I saw Ziggy. It was incredible. Once he was weighed (only 6lb 15!) and had a cuddle with daddy, he was placed on my chest and we properly met. He stopped crying as soon as he was on me. I’ll never, ever forget that moment. Game changer.

The rest is pretty much history. A day on the high dependency unit, 2 days on the main ward, lots of tests and doctors and midwives came and went. Ziggy is the picture of health thank goodness. My heart is stronger than anyone thought it could be post birth and we came home on Friday night.

We’re just so relieved that we’re through it after some ups and downs and scares along the way. Without the plans and the care of the Doctors at C&W and the Brompton, things wouldn’t have gone so smoothly and I genuinely believe we wouldn’t be as healthy as we are right now. More tests to go and a few things left to work out for my heart and a test for my bad heart gene for Ziggy, but we’ll be fine, I’m sure.

I’ve learnt a lot about worrying and bloody social media that I’d like to share at some point. But we’re having the best time right now and we’re going to enjoy these few weeks in the sun with Benny before he heads back to work.

Please note

I don’t want to put anyone off a c-sectoin, or scare monger. This is just my experience and on the whole, it was amazing and ridiculously safe and well controlled. I’d do it all again. I was just very, very worried which was my personal mental state and this shouldn’t affect anyone else.

Day 1

Day 2 – ready to meet the grandparents

Staring daddy.

Day 3 – Leaving hospital

Day 4 – Home sweet home

My boy.

Day 5 – Out for a stroll.