Festive feelings.

What a lonely Christmas this is going to be.

I keep trying to put on a brave face and remain positive, I am determined to make the best out of it and really enjoy my day with Reuben… but it’s still just going to be me and Reu.

And today, a wave of grief hit. I found some of my Nana’s socks that I must have borrowed and never gave back. They were in the back of my drawer, fluffy, and still smelt like her laundry detergent and her home – over four years after her passing. I put them on and I wept.

I haven’t cried about my Nana for a long time. I remember when she first passed I cried all day every day. And then it was every other day. And then it was once or twice a week. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. It absolutely crushed me. But there was a shift a few months after she passed, and following the birth of my brother. I decided I wanted to make her proud. And I also decided that I was in no fit state to have a child of my own, I was extremely broody and dreamt of motherhood (have done since I was 15 in fact) but I realised that the depressed insomniac on antidepressants needed to make every area of her life more stable before she had a baby. But that’s, that’s quite a tangent I went on, isn’t it? Oh dear.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I cried. But these socks, they really brought it home.

And Christmas? Christmas is creating such an ache in my heart because it screams family and festivity. It screams of indulgence and religion too (but I’m not religious). But here I am, knowing full well it’s going to feel like just another day for the most part.

Well, actually… I’m going to try my best to enjoy it. I could really enjoy Christmas Day but there’s a possibility I will be crying wreck when the day comes. That’s what happens when you run out of family.

Not that they’re all dead mind. Some I cut off, some I don’t like and some just don’t want me around.

I envy people will close families.

Because as much as I adore my online community of friends that I genuinely do care about. There are days when you really notice how alone you are.

I know, I know, I’m not truly alone, I have Reuben. I know this. It’s just that we can’t exactly strike up a conversation and he’s very independent. If I try to play with him with his toys he looks up at me, eyebrow raised, until I move away. He is the sweetest little boy though, I do my best to laugh with him all day long.

Today in fact, I turned the TV off after breakfast, because I’m doing a little experiment. I’m trying to see how much more I do, and how much more Reuben plays, if the TV isn’t distracting us. I’ll probably turn it on around dinner time though.

That’s the thing though, it’s such a distraction from all my thoughts and feelings. When Reuben took his nap (and he’s 95 minutes into this nap), I got studying and got through all the online activities – well not all some I labelled ‘irrelevant and annoying’ and blatantly dismissed them – so I’m now up to date. Hey, I got 14/15 questions right on the survey I just did about the week’s studies and I’m impressed with myself.

But back on point, it’s Christmas and that makes my heart heavy. But I’m going to do my best to have a lovely Christmas with my Reubs.

We will play Christmas music and movies, have the fairy lights on all day long, eat lots of food and I’ll try to stay off my phone as much as possible (I like taking pictures but then I get distracted by notifications and then I end up scrolling – it’s a trap!). I’m going to love seeing Reuben open his presents and completely ignore the contents! Haha. No but seriously I think he’s going to love them… and probably the balloons I intend to buy, since the ones from his birthday are pretty much stress balls at this point.

On a very soppy note…
Reuben is my link between heaven and earth. I had a psychic reading done in December 2016 where my Nana told me she was sending me my baby back. I was told he’d make it. And so, when I look at my sweet boy. And people tell me he’s an old soul, that he’s been here before, I just know in my heart that he is. His eye colour is settling but sometimes they go the colour of my Nana’s eyes and that always makes me a bit emotional. And even if people think that I’m silly for believing this, I will still believe it. That little boy, saved my life, and keeps saving my life, and although I know he’s his own person… he’s still my link between heaven and earth. And I intend to give him a wonderful childhood.

I think he must have heard that; he has just woke up! Time to give him cuddles!

Thank you for reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

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Shadows.

I held my son to my chest, and I felt my heart swell with love. It’s almost overwhelming sometimes; the way I feel such a pang of deep sadness intertwined into that pure, unconditional love. It’s especially strong when I stand at my bedroom window, as the light of the day fades (or has faded) away and I look out at the city lights. There’s some strong feeling that takes my breath away that I have tried to articulate time and time again, but have failed each time.

This time of year has always been my favourite. It’s cold, it’s dark a lot and I find it comforting. It’s not necessarily nice being outside when you’re freezing, but I love warming back up, getting cosy. Christmas lights and hot chocolate make me infinitely happier. But this dark time of the year reminds me of dark times in my past, of haunting memories, and it seems as though the ghosts of that trauma seem to hang in the air.

And when I look out at the city lights, it’s like I can feel an older version of myself when I look out and I can feel her hurt and sadness. I suppose, psychologically speaking, the feel of the air and the night which is so different to any other time of year, is a reminder. A trigger, if you will.

But I remember that she is a younger version of myself, and she was absolutely heartbroken to find herself so destroyed, but she found the courage to fight. She had this dream of being a mother and it was all she wanted. She knew one day, if she kept going, if she worked on getting better and healing her heart and mind, she might one day have her baby in her arms.

Flashback to the 21st November 2017, when she was in labour. She looked out at the night sky, knowing that she’d fought very hard and finally, finally her dream was about to come true. And no, it hadn’t happened in the circumstances that she wanted it to. But she felt euphoria, she felt the world shift. She was a little afraid but she believed that her baby boy would make it. Why? A psychic reading done the year before had proven invaluable when her Nana told her she was sending her, her baby back, and that he would make it. There was a feeling in the air that night too. Like there were still shadows and it made her feel deep sadness too. Luckily, by the time her son was in her arms and her head had stopped spinning, the dawn had arrived and she watched the sunrise. The world was new. Her heart felt healed. She was so, so happy.

But she had not healed.

I have not healed yet.

I have healed to an extent, but trauma is still being carried deep in the pit of my gut. I still feel that haunting, of memories, that should be gone but they won’t be forgotten. How can they be forgotten when there are so many things that I associate with them? From things such as the fresh, cold night air to the way some stranger might walk, from a song she might hear whilst shopping to people in her life that serve as reminders. That’s how trauma works. You don’t have to be thinking about it, it comes to you.

So maybe I’ve figured out why I feel such joy and such sadness when I hold my child and look out of my bedroom window. It’s such a beautiful view, but it’s more than a ‘bittersweet’ feeling. That word doesn’t do it justice.

Never in my life have I claimed to be perfect, or innocent. But I know that there’s a fire about me. And I’m sure people still think I’m a pushover, and there’s people who think much worse of me, but…

Through all the grief, anger and trauma, there is still courage , compassion, and hope.

So, those shadows may stay but… So will the resilience. And the memories may never fade… But the determination to create a life I love won’t.

Tonight, I held Reuben to my chest and we were looking out of the window when the skies were deep purple, and the city lights flickered, and I told him…

“These days are special. These lonely days of just you and me, they have taught me I am strong”.

I gave him a kiss and told him “I love you” and I was crying a bit when I did.

I was told that because of my mental health, that I wouldn’t be a good mother. But that person was wrong. I have struggled with my mental health this year, especially when therapy was opening up badly stitches wounds, but I have never let it affect the way that I parent. I’ve even felt like I couldn’t cope being alive anymore, but I’ve held on and asked for help, because I just would not leave my baby behind. Mental pain can physically hurt, and I have suffered… But I’m starting to understand why things are the way that they are.

This may have been a little unconventional for a blog post, but I feel that it’s something I need to talk about.

I’ve figured out why I feel so much joy and so much pain when I look out at the city lights and night & now I can accept it.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

This Time Last Year

I remember the way I felt this time last year. The way the air felt, the white noise of something mechanical humming at night (I still can’t figure out what it is), the way the lights across the city seemed crisper… It all reminds me, like the most wonderfully enchanting memory. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m remembering with rose-tinted glasses. But I know for a fact, also, that I remember that the person I was before Reuben was born felt a kind of excitement, naivety and apprehension that I’m scared I will never feel again.

The selfie I took before heading to the hospital to be induced.

I remember feeling dreadfully uncomfortable, completely DONE with being pregnant and massive. And moreover, I was done being told how massive I was. As if I couldn’t tell!? I was sick of the sickness, the acid reflux, the endless peeing, the pain I was feeling around my ribs, the ridiculous amounts of discharge and the sweating. You know, I was still trying my best to cherish my pregnancy but I think I spent more time trying to film baby kicks than I did actually appreciating the moments (something I will remember if I’m lucky enough to have a second). I would rest my hands on my bump, take endless photos, but by 37 weeks I was done. So when I was offered an induction days before my due date, I leapt at the chance.

I’d seen a lot of inductions on One Born Every Minute and I’d read the leaflet but nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed. I felt like I’d been in hospital for a week before I was actually induced – in a different hospital – on my due date.

But my mind seems to have fixated on the little details of the hospital I was supposed to give birth in, when I was waiting to be taken to delivery suite to have my waters broken. In all honesty, it was quite lovely but I was so impatient and being in a hospital bay all day waiting around was driving me a bit nuts. I wasn’t very well prepared, I hadn’t brought much to entertain myself – which is probably why I remember the space around me in vivid detail. From the way the light hit the blue flooring during the day, to the way the overhead lamp created a calming ambience at night. I remember bouncing on that big purple gym ball for hours hoping labour would come on spontaneously but I now realise, it was doing very little for me, and it was probably making me all the more impatient.

I was offered a transfer to the other hospital where I had a bed on delivery suite waiting for me on my due date, a few hours after my mucus plug went, and I jumped at the chance. I now wonder if my experience might have been different if I’d have stayed at the hospital that I wanted to give birth in. But nevermind, what good are what ifs? No good at all.

So there I was, in the delivery suite of this other hospital, taking a quick video of the room for my Instagram. I was telling people I’d no longer be replying. Although I did later on, at some point, I can’t remember when. And I had no idea what was coming as far as the syntocin drip was concerned.

I love that before they broke my waters and put me on that drip, I was blissfully unaware saying “whatever happens I’ll deal with it, as long as baby is okay”. I mean, that wasn’t a bad mindset to have but… Yeah… the girl on the ball in her nightie who just had her waters broken, and the girl on the bed who just got given the epidural were a couple of hours apart, and I can assure you the girl on the bed felt like she’s been through a kind of hell that she knew had changed her forever. The rest of it was a breeze though, if that’s any consolation – it was to me!

I gave birth to Reuben just over 12 hours after they’d broken my waters, and it was incredible. I felt the love instantly – it was euphoric! I felt the rush of love which I’d heard people say is indescribable and I was so relieved. I was so, so happy. When I had been waiting to push, I remember thinking “this is it, my dream is about to come true, I’m gonna meet my baby!” and that was an unforgettable moment too.

So is it any wonder that I feel this way now that Reuben’s 1st birthday is a day away? It’s so bittersweet. I feel happy and sad at the same time. I feel my heart aching so badly when I think back to it. I know this is common in mothers but I never really hear or read anyone talking about it.

Maybe it’s because I feel cheated out of enjoying those newborn days, maybe it’s because I had a vision of how I wanted things to be during pregnancy and it wasn’t like that. It’s not like my expectations were high but when you’re poor and feeling unsupported through both pregnancy and your newly made mother days, it’s very hard to feel like I got anything right at all back then… I don’t know. I guess I am overly critical but when I think back, I have regrets and I find myself saying “here’s what I’d do differently”.

Anyway, it’s hard to believe Reuben’s been on this earth for a year now. He’s turned into my little best friend & he makes me smile all the time. Even though we have been poorly recently, there’s still been smiles. And I’m far from perfect but I know I’m a good Mama.

I’m feeling very nostalgic and wistful about this time last year but don’t worry, I’m also concentrating on making this year’s memories count! Reuben’s presents are ready for Thursday, the flat is looking nicer than it ever has done (apart from the kitchen right now) & I’ve even put the Christmas tree up!

I love motherhood, it puts a kind of joy and resilience in my soul that nothing else can. I mean, there’s obviously sadness and mum guilt in there too BUT! Let’s focus on the good!

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

Survival Tips When You’re Sick

We have been quite unwell this week. First, Reuben was sick through the night and then when he started to recover the next day, we went out, but then by the time we came home, it was my turn! It’s not been fun. I’d like to add Reuben has had a mild case of the sniffles and is teething too which hasn’t helped matters, but it’s nothing that can’t be eased with mummy cuddles (and Anbesol).

Anyway, we both recovered within 24 hours so I am assuming it was a tummy bug – which is a the technical term, for having an upset stomach. There’s been a lot of sick you guys, it’s not been nice.

It isn’t surprising that getting through the day (and the night!!) when you’re unwell and your child is too, isn’t a bucket of laughs. But I thought I’d write a list of tips on making it as bearable as possible – and it might just be a good reference to me in the future, but it might help you too!

  • Everything can wait! Stop worrying about the dishes in the sink and Mount Laundry Basket. It can wait. Same goes for the laundry waiting to be put away or the vacuuming. The moment you feel better, you can tackle it. For now, bare minimum (such as rinsing cups and plates and leaving them in a stack, or putting the sicky clothes and bedding in the washing machine) is a good start. I know we can’t all stay home and do barely anything because we have other kids and commitments, but if you can, I recommend using the little energy you have on looking after you and your child.
  • If you can get any help at all, accept it! My sister was visiting when we got sick which was quite the coincidence but this meant there was someone their to lighten the load. Whilst Reu and I took a nap, she did the dishes and tidied up without being asked and then we woke up to a little snack plate and drinks. This was appreciated since I hadn’t eaten in what felt like forever after a night of throwing up. So yes, you may have to ask for someone to help you but you even if it’s just someone picking up some groceries or running you a bath and watching the kids, it’s worth it.
  • Drink plenty, stay warm, and take your medicine… You don’t get any medals for not taking your damn medicine/painkillers, so do it! Rest is important but you’re not going to rest at all if you’re aching everywhere. I timed taking some paracetamol in time for Reuben’s naps and we snuggled up in bed together. I really did ignore the fact I needed to do housework and studies because I wanted to rest and sleep as much as I possibly could. I think the more you rest, the quicker you get better. So take the painkillers to help make yourself more comfortable (my body ached so bad this time around I felt like Mr Potato! I don’t know, if anyone will understand how that made sense to me).

Also…

  • What you eat when you’re poorly is important. Reuben lost his appetite for a while and so did I but when we ate simple food, we started getting better quicker. Things like fruit and chicken soup, in small amounts frequently, really helped. I always think eating whatever form of protein is best for you really helps you to recover.
  • Humidifiers, saline drops, baby paracetamol… These all help you and your baby lots but please, if there’s one thing that’s made this whole thing easier, it’s that I was able to snuggle up with Reuben pretty much all the time. I let go of a lot of rules… I let him watch TV in the early hours in his travel cot so I could throw all the sicky blankets, bedding and clothes into the washing machine (we were very low on wipes so I ended up using a blanket or two to catch and clean up sick) and he actually fell asleep in there.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s best to just snuggle up and ride it out together. Everything else can wait. And if you have to go out, bundle up warm and don’t stay out too long. The fresh air will help but at this time of year, try not to be out too long if you are poorly. Eat nutrious food (when you can), keep yourself hydrated and stay warm. Those are my survival tips beyond the medicine.

Thank you for reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

Letting Go: Mama Standards

I wanted to blog every day this month, for no reason other than it was a goal I set myself. But for the last two days, I couldn’t.

Now I have decided that I don’t blog when I don’t have Reuben. This is because I really struggle with my mental health when he’s away from me. It’s become apparent that’s it’s more than parental separation anxiety, although that does play a part, it’s also the weight of depression. But I don’t want to talk about that today. I don’t want to dwell.

Today, I’d like to talk about how lovely it is when Reuben comes back and I’m so excited to be back on parent mode. I can give 110%. I can be more patient, more loving, more energetic – and that, dear parents everywhere, is why taking breaks is important.

I didn’t stress at all this morning. I thought “we will be ready when we are ready and that’s that on that!” because I realised there was no point in rushing around just to go out to the shops and back, what a waste.

I made sure Reuben was napping before I started to get ready and I took my time getting ready when he did. I had the changing bag and buggy sorted by the time he woke up which made it really easy.

He woke up around 12:45 so we went straight to the Asda cafe for some lunch. I gave him half a ginger bread man to nibble on (which had gone a bit soft – but I like it like that more) and we made our way there.

I ordered my favourite hot sandwich and chips with a diet coke, and for Reuben I got him the chicken nuggets meal with carrots and sweet potato waffles.

For once I wasn’t scrambling around, I always get a bit anxious in these situations but I felt like I was managing it well. I have read that when we suffer with anxiety, we think it’s really visible to the people around us, but apparently that’s not true. So I tried to reassure myself by remembering that. It’s just hard when you think people, the older generations in particular, are watching you, critiquing you. And I wish that was paranoia, but I’ve had a comment or two thrown my way at the worst of times. I do get nicer comments too though, or at best, nothing at all!

So we finished up our lunch… Don’t worry I was holding the plate! In fact most of the time I just passed Reuben bits of food so he didn’t have the option to send things flying. You need to do that, in a public place, I think. It saves a lot of trouble to the waiting staff!

Then we did our shop, which I have posted a haul video of on my new Facebook ‘Aspirebelievemama’ page (self promo alert!), and once home and settled, I put Reuben down for a nap. He’s currently sleeping now. And I opted to do this instead of studying because tomorrow I will be studying my ass off. I have promised myself that. Cleaning can wait until tonight, and speed cleaning is enjoyable exercise I like to do every other day or so.

I feel like I’m finding the balance on days like today – you’ve got to let go a bit, when you’re a parent. It’s taken me 50 weeks of motherhood to realise that.

… Yep, I really REALLY need to invest in a camera. I have fallen out with Android, to my dismay, so you might find that I upgrade to an iPhone next year! I just think Apple are a bad company for creating expensive products that break so easily, need replacing often and *breathe*… if you can’t beat them, you’re supposed to join them, right?! Unless anyone’s got any android recommendations?

Thank you reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

Bonfire Night 2018

We stayed out pretty late so I’m going to make this snappy. This post is more about recording a memory than anything else. Nevertheless, I want to share good times with you all too!

Here we are at my Dad’s house, which is where we decided to be for Bonfire Night this year. Well, by we, I mean me. But yeah, I decided to walk down from mine to my Dad’s taking the longest route possible to give him a chance to get home from work. So I definitely got my exercise in before indulging in some traditional (I think) food.

Above, you see Reuben with the gingerbread man that my Dad bought especially for Reubs. He quite liked it! But he loved the Parkin on our plates much more – in fact he stole one of my dad’s slices of Parkin right off the plate which was a great source of amusement.

Soon, my Dad’s partner, Linda, arrived and so eating pie & peas, watching fireworks and bickering over keeping a fire alive was to begin.

As you can see, my camera isn’t great. Lol, it’s appalling. I am looking to buying a camera ASAP. But I managed to get one photo whilst dealing with a disgruntled baby. He didn’t mind the fireworks at first, I was stressing more than him, but it wasn’t long before he was getting over-tired and so we head back inside.

There was more food. I’m stuffed. I really am. My stomach doesn’t have a great capacity like it used to. But it was worth it.

Reuben refused his bottle again tonight, so I think I’m gonna call it a day on that one BUT he soon wanted to sleep so I bundled him back up in the buggy & he had a little snooze whilst I had a good strong coffee. I could have fallen asleep, haha, I did not want to move. But I had to.

So we set off, back home, in the dark. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out after dark with Reuben. I think the last time was Christmas last year or at least around that period, but definitely not as late as today. I think I have been overly weird about messing Reuben’s schedule up but now I realise it doesn’t hurt to change the routine now and again on special occasions.

The bus was late but once on, it didn’t take long to get home. We went straight up to bed where Reuben did actually drink his milk (I have been writing this entire post between settling Reuben and also I’m telling myself when it’s done I’ll make the bed – because silly britches here forgot to do it before she left!). Reuben’s now settling…

But only after another rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and confirmation I’m stuck in here until I make my bed. I mean, he’s in his cot now, it won’t be long before he’s asleep so I need to hurry up.

But, I tell you, I hold him sometimes on the edge of my bed and it takes me right back to holding him as a newborn. I got all teary eyed during our little lullaby session because those days went by so fast. I know I treasured him, did my best, cried when I failed to breastfeed, cried… And cried a lot actually. Nobody can prepare you for the emotional tsunami that’s gonna hit you straight into the crazy train after having a baby, can they?

Anyways, that’s a bit of a tangent! Let’s not go down that path again. Not in this post, anyway.

Other highlights of tonight were: discovering I’ve lost approximately half a stone, my Dad being in a good mood made me feel happy & the house that I grew up in felt like home today (for the first time in a long time) and I don’t know… It’s made me feel so warm inside.

Or maybe that’s the mushy peas. We are in for some gassy asses over the next 24 hours. Please send your prayers when you consider the next poopy nappy. Haha!

So from mine to yours, I bid you goodnight. Hope everyone’s had a good time.

With love, Rebecca ♡

Calmer: My Day

I don’t know if this will be interesting to anyone but todays’ post is just going to be about the day itself.

A morning shower, whilst Reuben napped, meant that I went from lethargic-mother-in-nightie to feeling energised and motivated. I tried this new, beautiful Dove shampoo and it has changed my life (and the condition of my hair) and even though I just felt uncomfortable and weird in the shower when I got in, I emerged feeling like a Goddess. That feeling lasted until I got dressed and cracked on with housework but, funnily enough, I still felt calm.

I put my phone on charge and said I would not go back on my phone, or even check it, until I’d completed my checklist. I have been so annoyed with myself for wasting time scrolling when I could be productive or, idk, present in my life.

Luck was on my side, I got the vast majority of that list done during Reuben’s nap (including the shower!) and then on his afternoon nap, I could have cleaned the bathroom but I decided not to because of my hands… My hands are sore you guys, the cold vs hot water vs cleaning chemicals is not a good mix. I do moisturise my hands but they’re struggling to repair. If anyone has any recommendations please let me know?

I wanted to do some studying instead because that was overwhelming me more than the cleaning was. So I began active reading the chapter of the week and I stopped when I felt like my brain couldn’t handle anymore.

And then I got a nap!!! What a win that is!

I never nap like I did today; I was resting on the sofa after studying and suddenly I was fast asleep. This is super weird, I didn’t even have a blanket. I didn’t even feel that tired. But my brain, I was feeling so sad from what I’d studied. But how lucky was that? I got a good 20 minute nap after studying!

For tea, or dinner as it’s more commonly known, Reuben was also well behaved. I couldn’t believe it. In fact he’s been good all day.

I can’t help but think, has he been calm because I’ve been calm? Is this a knock on effect or is it coincidence?

The only time he rebelled was after his bath. He hates getting out of the bath, he detests the new nappy going on and he revolts entirely against being dressed. He was pretty tired whilst waiting for his milk, I felt bad that it was way too hot… For like five minutes… But those minutes last a long time when your baby is crying for their bottle!

He’s now asleep. And I decided to write this post, despite suspecting it’s actually a boring one, because today’s just been so nice.

I know that picture is out of focus, my phone camera is temperamental. Its either decent or complete poo (usually with long distance shots). But look: pretty!

We did have an accident today, whilst I was putting the fairy lights up – I was reaching up, trying to hook the lights onto the net curtain hooks – and I heard a cry. I looked down and quickly noticed something had hit Reuben in the process. On further inspection, I realised the plug had hit him and I felt horrible. I picked Reuben up and held him so tight, I wanted to cry, I was so busy trying not to fall to my death (which is how I feel standing on a chair with the insane feeling that I’ll fall out the window) that I forgot to check behind me. Reuben was okay, barely cried, but when I see the mark above his eyelid I want to cry. I know accidents happen but I felt so bad.

Cuddles helped!

Cuddles help everyone, but our cuddles just make me feel so happy.

I am sad that Reuben is no longer a baby, he is nothing like the 8lb 6oz baby he once was. But, he’s got this awesome personality and he laughs so much. Even his angry “arrr” and “dixhskgxjsbsush!!” complaints crack me up sometimes. So often I get those oh my I love you so much! moments.

I need to go tidy the living room, see to the mess in the kitchen (dishes and food spillages – made by yours truly!) and then it’s bedtime. I might go WILD and spray some cleaning shit on the bathroom before I go to bed. Exciting times, huh?

So, thank you for reading!

Let me know if this was a hit or not, I’m experimenting with my blog and the overall vibe.

With love, Rebecca ♡