Having a baby is helping me learn how to say, “No”.

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I’ve always been a bit too easy to please. I don’t like confrontations, and I hate awkwardness. I’ll usually offer to put myself out for someone else because it’s easier. It’s kind of lead to me being the family doormat as my siblings & parents are pretty bloody-minded (not just stubborn – they’re pugnacious too). They tend to organise things amongst themselves & then just tell me where & when, never considering that may not be convenient for me. Never really caring, I suspect. As I said in a previous post, I’m adopted but both my sisters are natural to my parents, and whilst there’s no conscious divide, there just is one in terms of what’s important to us. To my family, it’s money & apparent status, ambition, not being emotional or ‘bleeding heart’; to myself & my partner it’s being happy, healthy living, emotional honesty & artistic culture. I’m still coming to accept this as I forget sometimes that we’ll never quite be on the same wavelength.

My partner has often told me, pre-baby, that I need to put my foot down with my family. And I still didn’t. However, now I have my own family, and although perhaps I still don’t see my own needs as important enough to kick up a fuss about, now I have a little girl and she IS important enough.

I have a situation with my sister at the moment. She doesn’t realise it’s a situation. She loaned me money just before I fell pregnant. I started paying her back, then stopped as was saving for baby. She recently text me to ask me to start paying her back £50 a month when I go back to work. I told her that after childcare, I won’t actually be earning any more than I receive on statutory maternity pay, and can I start paying her back in a year when my career development loan is paid off as that’s a big chunk of my earnings, and at the moment I don’t even have £50 a month to give her.

Let’s put this in perspective. She works as a medic for the army & NHS, and as such earns I think around three times what I did when I was working full-time. She has a mortgage I know, but she also has a new BMW and just went on holiday to Bali for three weeks. Unless there’s something she’s not telling me, she doesn’t need the money right now. She doesn’t have any children of her own, although she is broody, but her partner is younger than her and doesn’t feel ready yet.

Her text response to my offering to pay her £5 a month until next summer, then £100 a month, really upset me. She wrote that I was taking advantage of her, that I shouldn’t live somewhere so expensive (Bath, UK), that if we couldn’t afford it we shouldn’t have had our baby and that I’m burning my bridges.

Our little girl was not planned, which she knows. So the intimation there, from our baby’s aunt, does not bear thinking about.

My partner left my sister an answer machine message whilst she was on holiday asking her to call him so they can arrange something. What we were thinking is that he can pay some of it back now but she is no longer part of our little girl’s life – it’s the money or the relationship with her aunt. She hasn’t listened properly to the message as she’s just text me saying, “I got the message saying M will pay me back, thanks & let’s put this all behind us,  x”.

‘Put this behind us’? My own sister suggested that we should have got our baby aborted so that I can repay my debt to her.  That is never, ever going to be put behind us.

I think she’s the one who’s burned her bridges, and she has no clue, yet. When she realises no money has gone into her account this will come out into the open. The rest of my family know nothing of it at the moment, and I don’t know how they’ll react. I know they’ll say I should pay her back, but I don’t know what they’ll make of the text comments.

A therapist acquaintance suggested we should “cut her out”. We’re supposed to be having a family barbecue next month, and we’re both nervous about how this could play out. I always said I’d never be one of those people who don’t talk to members of their family, but I just don’t know how our relationship can recover from this.

Baby meet cat, cat meet baby

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Baby has been showing more and more interest in our cats recently, and this morning our cat Suki allowed baby a little stroke! Suki has been enjoying some evening cuddles with me when baby’s in bed, and has been particularly friendly recently – we couldn’t imagine that 8-10 months ago, she used to be so timid & aloof! But going outside has made her a changed cat. And fit such a little cat, she has an enormous, happy purr!

Baby walk: Royal Victoria Park

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I went up here for the first time earlier during the week, and the half hour walk uphill is very well rewarded with this magnificent view!

It’s really amazing. This pic has a tilt-shift effect on it (among others) which is something obsessed by; it’s a physical effect originally used by architects I think, with mirrors in a special camera. Now a simulation of it comes with the camera app I use, Vignette. I highly recommend it if you’re into photography & love experimenting, it’s extremely customisable & there’s an incredible amount of options.

Anyways so my partner & I made it up there with baby who slept for the journeys there & back, and had a bit of a roll around on the rug under a tree with us, and a feed. A young guy sat unnecessarily close to us whilst I was feeding baby which made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but I guess he didn’t even notice what I was doing!

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Lessons learned in motherhood

IMG_0003So it’s been four months since our little girl was born, and it’s been a very intense time – such a steep learning curve but so rewarding. I feel like a totally different person to the one I was a year ago!

So inspired by learnermama.com here are ten lessons I’ve learned in motherhood:

1. I can survive on much less sleep than I thought. Okay so I’m not my brightest or nicest, but I’m awake and functional.

2. Breastfed baby poo can be bright orange. Like Tango or Sunny Delight, but the consistency of double cream, with seedy-looking bits in it. Delicious.

3. Breastfeeding can be enormously difficult & painful to begin with. But it gets better before you know it, and it’s so worth it. Support from those around you is invaluable – I couldn’t have got through it without my wonderful partner.

4. You will have lots of opinions & plans on how babies should be raised, then when you’ve got one, half of that will go out the window in favour of something easier. 

5. Babies are hilarious. From the sleep farting to the squeaky noises & cute concerned faces, she cracks me up every day.

6. White noise apps are ace. Both for helping baby to sleep & drowning out the partner’s snoring when you’ve just got baby to sleep at 4am.

7. Slings are ace. I would never get anything done around the house if I didn’t carry my little one with me, as she’s not really into napping anywhere other than on me or on the move.

8. Babies change & learn new skills incredibly fast. I guess I knew this already in theory, but seeing it in practice is astounding. One month ago her head bobbled around, today she can hold it straight & grab toys & bring them to her mouth. Which leads me onto…

9. Babies can drool an incredible amount, and want to put everything in their mouth. It’s kind of cute, although not when she’s trying to eat my flip flops and has soaked through her dribble bib & given herself a neck rash.

10. The love I feel for my little girl is bigger than anything I could ever have imagined. She’s my princess, my star, my wonderful little puke-a-saurus, and I can’t believe how empty my life was before her (sorry cats!).

 

Learnermama

No Buggy Fit today – Wonder Weeks leap 4 & reflux

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Baby has never been that keen on the pram attachment for the travel system – I think mainly because she’s a nosy & slightly clingy baby & likes to see her surroundings and us, but recently I think her reflux has played a part too. Today, and last Thursday, there’s been enough rain to mean taking her out, as usual, in the car seat bit hasn’t been an option (it has a sun shield but there’s no way of protecting it from the wet). Each time when I’ve put her in it, she’s screamed blue murder pretty much immediately! Poor little thing.

I’ve been following the Wonder Weeks app – from the bestselling book by Dutch child psychologist Frans X. Plooij. The idea is that, in addition to the growth spurts your baby’s body goes through, her mind also has growth spurts, which he calls ‘leaps’. These result in a more clingy, crying & cranky baby as she adapts to her new understanding of the world. So far his timings have been spot on for us. It’s very interesting stuff.

It’s not even bloody raining right now… But she’s having a comfort feed & snooze to recover from a tough morning of puking & crying. It’s not easy being a baby!

Architecture – the Romanesque Our Lady & St Alphege Catholic Church

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I love this church’s architecture – I can’t believe it was only built in 1927, it’s like a little bit of Tuscany war picked up & dropped here.

According to the church’s website at  http://www.saintalphege.org.uk/ the church was a pet project for one priest who wanted a new church in the Romanesque style, different from the other gothic Catholic churches here in Bath. It looks quite out of place amidst the Victorian terraces but I think that kind of enhances its beauty.