Attempting to not look fat

I was in the happy situation that during my pregnancy, I only put on 1 stone and 10 lb. I’ve no idea how that happened- from Christmas to February, I ate basically everything, so I guess I just got lucky! After my baby was squeezed out of my nethers, I was only 10lb off of where I started, which was very pleasing indeed. Because I’d read a lot of scathing articles in Closer magazine of various celebrities who had lost their baby weight too quickly, I thought I would wait a while before I started thinking about trying to lose my tiddly 10lb of excess baggage.

Stupidly for me, I spent the month after giving birth eating basically every item of junk food in the kitchen cupboard. There was a LOT of it- In the lead up to labour day, I’d stocked the cupboard both with sensible dinners and crap snacks which I’d never usually buy, and various friends and relatives kept our biscuit tin well stocked on their visits. I think by the end of the first month, I’d actually put on a couple more pounds, and decided enough was enough.

A month after that, I decided that really, really enough actually was enough and it was time to have a bit of goddamn discipline. Luckily for me, that also coincided with feeling confident enough that my pelvic floor wouldn’t fall out of my body for me to start running again.

I’m slowly chipping away and hope to be getting back to where I started in the next month or so- 10lb over 4 months sounds more than sensible to me. While I’ve never been bothered enough about my body to totally buff up, I have been a running fan for quite a few years, and quite liked having toned legs and a reasonably slim frame (hips and bum aside). I’ve been exceedingly lucky in that I didn’t gain any stretch marks or anything while the boy wonder was living on the inside, but babydom has definitely made its mark on me and I’m more than happy with what is likely to be a slightly softer look even when I get back to my original weight- Support underwear is an amazing thing!

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Being bothered to put a face on

On the odd occasion over the last ten years or so that I’ve not worn make up, people generally say to me ‘ooh, are you feeling ok’. In fact, I came into the office really early before a conference in November and when I eventually got my makeup bag out, my boss said she was so glad because she thought she was going to have to send me home because I looked so sorry for myself! I’m definitely one of those people that just looks better with a little bit of something on.

In a half arsed attempt to not look like a knackered new mum, even though my clothes are generally covered in dribble, and my hair is attacked with dry shampoo rather than actually washed, I have made a real effort to put on some form of make up every day (except for the days that I will definitely not be leaving the house… oh and the day I came home from hospital- If people thought I looked a bit tired then, they were more than welcome to their opinion!).

I have got make up application down to an extremely fine art now- while Sid reclines on the bed for a bit of a kick around, I get a quick blast of bb cream, translucent powder, highlighter concealer under the eyes, brown eyeliner and mascara, eyebrow colour and tinted vaseline. Takes about 10 minutes and so far I’ve just been told ‘you look well’ (nb- I’ve never done this before, ‘well’ could be code for ‘a bit shit, but she’s just had a baby- humour her’… I’m not sure)

Here’s the makeup…
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Unfortunately for me, my skin, which following a small tweak in cleanser and moisturiser was pretty damn brilliant for the whole of pregnancy, has started rebelling again. I said as much to Mark, who said ‘yeah, I thought you were looking a bit blemishy’. Thanks husband, love you too. So I’m trying out all the different amassed cleansers that I have in a box in the bathroom- mainly gifts from the lovely Clarins lady after I had a pregnancy massage last year- I’m hoping one of them will do the trick… And now I’m thinking about that Clarins treatment again… and seriously wondering if I could just go for another- it was brilliant, and really good value…it’s not like they asked me for my scan picture or anything- I could just say I was a little bit pregnant. That’s not weird, is it?

Baby bedrooms

I wrote this post in February, just two days before Sid’s arrival- On re-reading the first line, I realise how misguided I was! Three months in and we’ve only just managed to finish off his bedroom, hampered partially by the fact that the custom-made blind we ordered took longer than expected and the pictures for the wall got lost in the post, and partially that once we realised that the only time we actually went in that room was to use the changing mat, we realised there really was no rush to get it completed! Anyway, here it is, in all it’s glory, followed by my optimistic original post!
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…I really wanted to get the baby’s bedroom finished well in advance of his arrival. The house was just getting more full of baby stuff which I wanted to put away, and I was losing track of what I’d bought!

Back in October, there was a sale at mothercare, and we bought a cot, wardrobe and chest of drawers that we really liked, which was laying redundant in about a million boxes in the back bedroom, waiting to be assembled. We’d also impulse-bought some grey and white spotty wallpaper, which had taken my fancy in B&Q one weekend, but apart from that, nada.

Over Christmas, once the beautiful bathroom was pretty much finished, we finally found the time to get cracking on the bedroom- First step was the boring prep- wallpaper stripping, rubbing down paintwork, you know the like. Unfortunately, this period of time coincided with me slipping down the stairs and spending a good week lying on the sofa with an icepack on my bum, groaning quite a lot, so I was next to useless. It also coincided with us realising that we really wouldn’t be able to find a plasterer to plaster over the grim artexed monstrosity of a ceiling until about April time, so amazing wonderful Mark threw caution to the wind, borrowed some stuff off of our brother in law and got stuck in to do it himself, in spite of EVERYONE telling him that plastering was ridiculously hard, and he’d basically make a crap job of it.

Plastering, indeed, was ridiculously hard- it took him two days to do the ceiling and a foot and a half of the wall, above the picture rail of a tiny 6ft x 8ft room, when it probably would have taken my bro in law a few hours, but a crap job of it he certainly didn’t do- alright, it’s not a seamless professional job, but it’s absolutely brilliant in my eyes and now it’s been painted, I think you could never tell that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing!

Next step after all the boring prep came painting of woodwork and ceiling and putting up of this weird polystyrene lining paper (the box room is really pretty chilly, so we thought a bit of extra insulation would be a good plan). Mark’s mum came in for ‘operation wallpaper’ as she’s a bit of a master. We didn’t realise that after the initial lining paper had gone up, the instructions tell you to wait until it’s fully dried out before you put the normal wallpaper in. Well, we were on a roll, so decided to throw caution to the wind and just whack the top layer over the lining without bothering to wait for it to dry- It’s polystyrene, we reasoned, and stuck on with some industrial strength paste stuff- it’s not going to just fall off again! After a few days of alarming bubbling, I’m pleased to say everything flattened out just fine

The final phase was to hang about waiting for the carpet to be delivered, until which we couldn’t put the furniture up, as once that stuff was up, it wouldn’t fit out of the door again. After managing to order a carpet that wouldn’t be in stock for ‘probably another month’, it finally came in, was fitted and Mark got to it putting up flat pack on his day off, while I was at work.

We’re up to the ‘final fixtures and fittings’ phase now- Everything’s done, and we’ll be putting up the final bits that will make it look more like home- A blue blind (which had to be custom made because of our ridiculous sized windows), robot lamp, some cool retro robot pictures for the wall and a mobile which I made myself, oh and this rather groovy trolley, which I’m using as a ‘handy bits and pieces/changing station’ and I must say I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve done!

Being a judgypants

I’ve made an executive decision to stop being such a judgypants. We all do it, don’t we- it’s just too easy (and too much fun) to bitch about people particularly, I’ve found, in the realms of parenting.

Case in point- I was talking to a friend about how her new daughter was sleeping, and she said the only way any of them can get a night’s sleep is if the baby slept laying on her front on her mum or dad’s chest. In my head I thought ‘for pity’s sakes, what a ridiculous way to live your life- just put her down and let her cry’, while thinking in my second head  (yeah, I have two- what of it?!) ‘shut up Gem, you’d never just let Sid cry if you could comfort him- you’re not Gina sodding Ford’. Outside of my head, I asked if that meant that my friend or her hubby could get a decent night’s sleep, and she said yep, they slept fine- they weren’t being woken up by a crying baby, they weren’t worried about her being on her front in her cot, and they’d got pretty used to sleeping laying on their backs. And that was when I decided to stop judging other people’s choices.

While I think there’s nothing worse than people that are absolute martyrs (you know the type ‘woe is me my life is so difficult, but oh no I couldn’t possibly do anything to change it, that would be too easy’), if someone’s doing something that works for them, who cares if it isn’t the way I’d choose to do it

Settling into the old routine

Still continuing with my over-immersion in baby stuff (babycentre.co.uk I’m looking at you), I read that by 8 or 9 weeks, you should be putting a bedtime routine in place. Woefully behind schedule, I floated the idea to Mark. It took a while to get our heads around the idea of Sid being upstairs in bed while we were downstairs watching TV- surely it sort of defeated the idea of him staying in our room for the first six months… and surely it was a bit pointless doing a lovely relaxing bedtime routine that culminated in him being asleep in the carry cot while the TV blared next to him, but I had a vague paranoia that if we didn’t start instilling good sleep habits early, it’d never happen- I read a story about a nine year old that wasn’t able to fall asleep unless it was on the sofa in front of the telly and it was enough to make me think ‘ok, lets give this a go’.

Sid, actually was and is a pretty good sleeper- he’ll happily have a nap in the daytime in noisy places, but it was admittedly getting trickier for him to fall asleep in the front room for any length of time, and with the ‘sleeping through the night’ goal forever in our sights, we thought that putting him to bed in a quieter place might make him sleep for longer.

Two-ish weeks in, if we’re in the house, at about half 7 or so, one of us gives Sid a bath and gets him ready for bed, while the other one tidies up and sorts things for the morning. Then we switch and the other one does a story, lots of songs, and a snuggle on our bed until he drops off. It’s amazing how few songs I know all the words to- Poor kid has heard a LOT of Wham in the last couple of weeks! I guess as time goes on, we’ll be trying to get into more of a habit of putting the boy wonder down in his cot before he falls asleep, but at the moment, I’m loving a little night time cuddle and he certainly seems to settle better that way so I say hush to the ‘making a rod for your own back’ doubters.

So has it worked? Well, yeah, sort of- He’s generally sparko until well after midnight and will wake up between 1 and 3 for a bottle, and then again at about 6ish when Mark brings him into our bed for a snuggy and another hour of snoozing until the ‘breakfast bottle’ at 7. So although we get a longer stretch of sleep at the start of the night, which is awesome, we still have to get up once each before the alarm goes off. He’s definitely sleeping more at night and less in the day though, so that’s one thing cracked and I’d imagine that as time goes on, he’ll eventually drop the middle of the night feed but I’m not going to worry about that until it just sort of happens.

The 18th Photo Project

I am a massive fan of those slightly pointless ‘news’ articles along the lines of ‘this man took a photo of his beard every day for 18 months- here’s what happened’, and decided that with a baby imminent, I wanted to start a little log of my growing family. The day I put my plan into action was the 18th of the month and because I know how lackadaisical I am (it took me three months of thinking about this amazing non-plan to actually do anything about it), I decided that a photo once a month, on the sofa, on the 18th would be do-able, and thus the 18th photo project was born.

I’ll be honest, sometimes the photo wasn’t taken on the actual 18th, but the ‘once a month when I can be bothered photo project’ didn’t really have the same ring.

I actually got my act together in January, so here are the photos for January, February, March and April. Mark isn’t exactly a willing participant in this- he likes the idea, but generally can’t be bothered with it, so the photos are very much a quick snap and hope for the best- I get maybe three go’s at most to try and get a decent shot and some of them are looking a little bit rough! Still, I’m hoping as we build this up over years, it’ll be a lovely little archive

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A whole packet of jaffa cakes

It is an absolutely miserable day, and all I can give as an achievement is that I’ve eaten an entire packet of jaffa cakes

I realised a couple of nights ago that I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep for well over 12 weeks, and even though Sid’s pretty much dropped down to one feed in the night now, I’ve been in charge of it because Mark has to get up and go to work in the morning, where as I can have a vague lay in/afternoon snooze. Mark, however, does have Thursdays off, so I’m going to be having a night of respite on Wednesdays (no sign of sleeping through from Sid just yet!). Thursday is now, and I had a very nice night’s sleep, only punctuated by Mark telling me on his way back from the 3am feed that he’d forgotten he had the next session on his tattoo booked for today and so (apologies, wife), we wouldn’t be able to do anything fun as is our usual Thursday wont.

I didn’t mind- genuine mistake and all that, but it’s now 4 o clock and I have been pretty bored, if I’m honest. I’ve run out of ways to entertain a three month old (he’s pretty much doing it himself now- absolutely entranced with a muslin while sitting in his bouncy chair cooing away- no idea why I bothered with a full hour of ‘games’), watched several hours of documentaries (Wartime Farm at the moment, and before that something about early queens of England- my medieval history knowledge is severely lacking- going to have to do some more reading up, I think), done a couple of loads of washing and cleaned the bathroom, and continued with my work on learning the names to the different sizes of champagne bottles… I’m sure it might come in handy one day for pub quiz knowledge (magnum, jeraboam, reheboam, methusela, salmanzar, balthazar, nebuchadnezar… I think… might have got some spellings wrong, mind), and then half an hour ago I found the aforementioned jaffa cakes. They’re all gone now.

Still two hours until Mark returns from the tattooist and I get a kebab for dinner, which after my recent exploits I really don’t deserve.

Fashion on the Ration

I am generally an absolute nightmare for seeing things that I want to do but not actually getting round to doing them, but after getting a bit bored on my first few months of maternity leave, I decided enough was enough! On one of the blogs I read, a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum was mentioned, all about fashion during and after rationing, and I was interested. I was telling my nan about it, and she sounded interested too, so one Thursday (admittedly about six weeks after I’d first read about it- I’m not perfect!) me, Mark and my nan took ourselves off to the Imperial War Museum.

As Mark and I don’t have season tickets for the tube any more, it’s actually cheaper for us to pay for the congestion charge and parking, than for two train tickets into London, so we drove to the glorious Elephant and Castle shopping centre and made the short walk down to the museum. After a quick stop for lunch outside in the sunshine, sitting next to a chunk of the Berlin Wall, we started round the museum. Mark’s interests were mainly on the machinery front, where as mine are centred on the home front, so we did a bit of both. My nan, as well as being a massive fan of a random day out, proved to be a font of interesting stories- We do talk about her recollections of the war quite a bit (she was evacuated at the start of the war, but came back to London and lived through the Blitz), but there’s nothing like having things in front of you to spark off a story and I found out so much more than I would have done otherwise.

My highlights were a house set, recreated from the memories of a family who lived in South London and full of period detail and wartime memories, and obviously Fashion on the Ration, the exhibition that I particularly wanted to see. Particularly mind-boggling was how little you’d be able to get hold of in the way of clothing during rationing. Far from my current ‘buy it cheap and chuck it away’ mentality, a year’s worth of coupons would have barely got you a full outfit. I’ve no idea how I’d cope, although I do think that I buy particularly crappily made clothes that genuinely wouldn’t last a full year of wear- perhaps if I bought items that were a bit more substantial, I might feel differently (and maybe not buy quite so much of it!). It’d be an interesting experiment to see if you could live on rationed clothes for a whole year- I think I’d struggle.

Also interesting was that actually, in the 30s, not everyone knew how to sew and make clothes and things- I assumed you’d get taught that sort of thing at school back then, but according to my nan, that wasn’t quite the case, and the exhibition showed people going to ‘make do and mend’ classes to learn skills that I just thought everyone must have known.

In a way, a lot is coming full circle- there is a bit of a kick-back against disposable fashion, and there’s certainly an resurgence in crafting and dressmaking classes in my area- it’s just by choice rather than circumstance now.

We finished up our day with a cup of tea in the cafe (obvs) and the purchase of a little light reading, which over a week later, I’m ashamed to say I’ve not managed to even open the front cover of either of the books I bought, but I promise I’ll get to it!!

A little bit of me time

When I was pregnant, I did some prenatal yoga classes, which were absolutely awesome- so relaxing and really sorted out my niggly aches and pains. The teacher also ran a postnatal class and said she’d be in touch six weeks post-birth to tell me more. Eleven weeks went past and nada, and I was a little bit sad about it but thought hey ho, until an email pinged up to apologise that there’d been a break in the classes, but they’d be restarting in the first week of May if I wanted to sign up.

I surely did, even though it meant my Fridays would be a little bit jam packed. Typically the one class that I go to with Sid takes place on a Friday at 11.30, and yoga would be at 2. Class in question is Baby Sensory, by the way. It’s ok I guess- Anyone that has ever been to a baby sensory class will know that you have to sing this song at the start, with actions, called ‘hello to the sun’, which quite frankly I feel like more of a nobber singing with each passing week, and I can never remember any of the actions. The class basically involves variations on a theme of bouncing babies on your legs to a song, waving various things in front of them and a bubble machine. Sid tends to have a look of ‘what the hell are you doing, mummy?’ on his face for most of it so I’m not entirely sure if it’s money well spent, although it is a good opportunity for me to show off when we do tummy time exercises, because my boy is totally bossing tummy time. Seriously, he rocks at it </competitive parenting>.

Anyhow, I decided I wanted to do the yoga, and my friends were paying for another term of Baby Sensory, so I’ve reluctantly signed up too, just on the off chance that Sid might miraculously start actually enjoying himself and will be doing the journey from one side of the borough to the other between classes, conveniently with enough time to stop in for a cuppa at my mum’s.

So anyway, postnatal yoga- what was it like? Well, not anywhere near as relaxing as prenatal, that’s for certain, but relaxing in a different sort of a way- Everyone brings their babies, and they recline on blankets next to us while we do the exercises. The teacher’s little boy was there, running in and out and making stuff out of playdoh, and her mum was on hand to soothe or feed any babies that needed it, so everyone could concentrate on themselves for a bit.

We started off with some stretching on the floor (Sid made sure I remembered he was there by repeatedly hitting me in the face), then moved on to some poses, aiming to help knit everything back together again- pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, that sort of thing, then we finished off with a tiny bit of guided relaxation. We used to do this in prenatal for quite a lot of the session, and I’d regularly fall asleep or phase out, but this was much shorter and had a sound track of various babies squiffling around so there was no danger of nodding off! We all had eye pillows which really meant that you didn’t open your eyes and Clare, the teacher, came round with oils and gave everyone a head massage, which oh dear lord was fricking amazing.  At the end of the class, because the hall was available for another hour, Clare made everyone a cup of tea and we all had a chat, which was really nice and I left the class feeling, while not quite as blissed out as I did when I came out of prenatal, certainly ready to face the world!

Lazy Thursday- election special

At the start of the year Mark changed jobs and now he works on a Saturday, but gets a Thursday off. It’s meant quite a bit of change for him- no rugby for a start, and it still doesn’t seem right to not have two days off in a row, but on the plus side, Thursdays are very much our sacrosanct family day.

This Thursday, we had intended on taking Sid swimming for the first time, but realised that as the majority of schools in the area would be used as polling stations, the swimming pools would probably be overrun with kids off school, so we decided to jettison that idea for another week.

Instead, my day started with tea, cheerios and throwing on of running gear. I walked out to the polling station with Mark and Sid, cast my vote (I was still tossing up the options literally until I was at the booth… went Lib Dem in the end, in spite of the fact that the party really aren’t very prevalent in my area- we didn’t get one leaflet during the whole of the campaign, but I’d done my reading up and I like what they stand for. Plus I think Ed Milliband is a bit of a dick, and I really don’t like the way that our current conservative MP has voted in the past, so couldn’t bring myself to go for him), then headed out for a little spin around the park. I’m still building up slowly- did just over three k today, before turning round and heading for home.

When I got back in, we tag teamed out, and Mark went out for a cycle while I got showered and ready to go out. When he got back, after a brief bit of faffing around, we went out for lunch, to the classy mecca that is Harvester. Not quite the Savoy, but I am a massive fan of the free salad bar…. and ribs… and blue cheese dressing. Merrily stuffed, we took a little wander around the shops to get some bits. I picked up some hair dye, so watch this space on that front! Oh, I should point out that Sid snoozed the whole way through lunch and the shopping- a grand total of about 4 hours. He’s just gone up to bed but I’m not holding out much hope for getting a big stretch of sleep this evening!

Aaanyhow, home time- we indulged in some warm chocolate brownie and ice cream action, on account of the fact that we were too stuffed for pud after our lunch and Sid finally woke up for a bit of a play. On account of the fact that it seemed like we’d done quite a lot with our day, we merrily minced away the rest of the afternoon doing very little and actually, it’s now half nine and the most constructive thing I’ve done is put Sid to bed- We were both so full from lunch, we didn’t even bother having a proper dinner- I’ve just had a slice of toast, some strawberries, and I think I’m going to have a second glass of wine while I watch the Last Leg election special.

Happy election day everyone!