Sunday, 30 November 2014

Around here

Iona is 3 months now already, and Bay will soon be finished her first term at school.  It is a cliche but time does really fly.  I can really understand now how I will turn around one morning and they will both be grown. Have you ever heard that poem "Turn Around"? This is how I know I will feel.

"Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Where are you going my baby, my own?
Turn around and you're two, turn around and you're four,
turn around and you're a young girl going out of the door.

Turn around, turn around, turn around and you're a young girl,
going out of the door.

Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Little dirndls and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you're tiny, turn around and you're grown,
turn around and you're a young wife, with babes of your own.

Turn around, turn around, turn around and you're a young wife,
with babes of your own.

Where are you going my little one, little one?
Where are you going, my baby, my own?"

I suppose I'm in a emotional mood. Having a small baby does that to you.  I also think of the Woody Guthrie song "One day old".  You can hear a sample of it here.  He wrote it for his daughter, Cathy Ann, who he used to look after at times during the day, as he worked at night. He wrote such brilliant songs about his time with her, "riding in the car", going on the amusements in Coney Island, about how she was always asking "Why".  Just beautiful children's songs.  You can hear the fun and the love in all the lyrics.  Tragically she died in a house fire the month she turned 4.  There's a line in "One day old" which he wrote about her as a baby "10 days, 20 days, no days old" that is just so sad, in retrospect. 

I think of things like this often, how lucky we are, and I try to remember it. I've heard parents are at their happiest in the first year after a baby is born, barring other pressures, and depression I suppose, and  I can definitely attest to that.  The love is so strong.  I see the pure wisdom, the potential, and the grace we were all born with.

On the other hand of course, having a small baby, and a 4 year old, is exhaustion making. Bay is an absolute bundle of energy, she talks 
non-stop, she is full of endless enthusiasms and ideas.  She wants to be involved in everything.  She wants to be wherever we are. She has her own very firm ideas. She loves making up songs, jokes, dances.  She plays endless imaginative games.  She loves playing with a set of wooden bear families she has.  All. The Time. She is really interested in reading.  She interrupts us all the time. We can't have a conversation. She loves school, but doesn't join in much in class (though does so increasingly). She told me she doesn't like if other children make a point that she was just about to make.  She is learning still how to contribute, how to interject, how to share what she is thinking. She can do all this with us no problem of course, so she will get there with school. She loves to wear red tights and party dresses.  Or her skeleton pyjamas.  She loves almost anything really. Every day is party day, as one of her toys has a birthday continuously it seems.  She loves the film Frozen, and is a bit put out that it is the only film she has seen.  I must find something else suitable.  Any suggestions? I'd like something without violence, something with a strong message of friendship perhaps.  Nothing sexist. Or just something funny.

She is wonderful.  But also maddening and challenging, and I am struggling a bit with that sometimes.  I want to have endless time with her, and the energy to fall into her plans, while simultaneously wanting to run far far away to a darkened cave somewhere.  I just don't have the time or energy at the moment.  Lack of sleep is a sure route to grumpiness. I fall into old conditioned ways of behaving, and find it hard to get out of it. There's conflict and conflicting feelings around all this.  Sadness that I can't be the mother she wants (and maybe needs), regret when I lose patience with her, pride when I manage to get it right, delight when we have fun, relief when I get a few rare moments alone, guilt that I don't make more of an effort, or guilt that I don't want to sometimes. I know the answer to all this though - more rest, more time for me and more connection time with her.  And I know both these are difficult at the moment, and I just need to get through these few months, and I will be over the hurdle. And I know how important it is to remember how I am getting it right so often too. Celebrate success to encourage myself.  But time seems so short.  And flies so fast.  

I don't want to turn around, and she is gone, and I have never spent that time. 


Iona is an absolute dote.  I am totally in love with her. She smiles and wriggles as much as she can.  She has awful digestive issues, I mean, not that bad, not losing weight or anything, but painful all the same, but she even tries to smile bravely through them.  She loves to have a good laugh, and even seems to have a laughing time in the evening. Mostly she laughs if you make funny sounds or at Ian if he puts things on his head and knocks them off. i've worked out that the digestion problems are mostly oversupply, with a little bit of reflux thrown in sometimes.  I'm using shields which are controlling the milk flow which are like a magic bullet most of the time. But she still gets too much sometimes and then cries a lot.

She sleeps well after midnight, maybe for 6 hours, and then back for an hour or two after a feed, but is still staying up all evening.  Some days she has big long sleeps (4 hours?!), but at least once or twice a week she doesn't really nap at all all day long.  she could go 8 in the morning until midnight with just a few naps of a few minutes each. She slept through the last couple of nights (12-8, 10:30-7).  Imagine if she kept that up.  Oh wow, I won't even dare to hope.

Yes I am obsessed with sleep.

I got her The Dancers Mobile, a Montessori mobile, which apparently suits her at this age as she is developing depth of vision and is tracking movement. Mostly, it is just beautiful and graceful though, and she loves to watch it. Before I semi-sorted out her digestion issues I couldn't put her lying down flat generally, so now she can do it a bit more it is good for her. I took some photos, but with the Canon, which I haven't uploaded. Just one task too many for me at the moment. 

I'd like to blog more. Shorter posts perhaps. Ian and I are again thinking of setting up a business together. If I could do something enjoyable, and not have to commute to London, life would be so much better. I keep talking about doing something I know, and then not doing it.  But we are close to it how.  I don't want to say anything yet, as we haven't made any decisions yet, but soon.

Rach x
PS I am envious of those people who can stick the baby in the sling and get on with things-my two are only happy if they are/were really ready to sleep, lots of protest otherwise as can be seen in the pic below. No pottering around the house for me with an awake baby in the sling!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Around here

Bay wanted to dress up as a skeleton for Halloween.  Ian came home early from work and painted the scariest skeleton face ever.  Seriously disturbing.  He is very talented.  Let's hope he uses his powers for good...

Even little Iona dressed up.

There was a Halloween party at the school, with trick or treating on the street where the school is.  There was an amazing atmosphere.  Lots of the neighbours had dressed up, including a brilliant dead Mexican bride.  Someone projected a Nosferatu the Vampyre film on a house end wall.  Bay was hugely excited. Unfortunately I didn't get photos of all of this. 

When we drove back home afterwards the street seemed very dead and I pined to live near the school for a few minutes.  I do appreciate what I have here though. Maybe it is a transition period now with Bay starting school and starting to live a new life.  It was always a disadvantage and disjointed going to school in another town.

On Saturday we went to see Peter and the Wolf in town and afterwards went to a Falafel restaurant and got lovely mezze. Out of all the lovely mezze Bay chose to eat a lemon sandwich...

Bay was on half term from school and it was my first extended period minding the two children together.  It was ok mostly, and nice to have her around, but she wanted to spend every moment playing with me and wherever I was, she was too.  I think she found it difficult to share me, but didn't want to say anything negative about Iona, which was a struggle for her.  And me. There was rushing and emotional outbursts and exhaustion over the week, and getting stressed needlessly, but there was also a lot of love and fun, and I am holding onto that as tightly as I can. I am still feeling that winning the lottery  feeling, especially as we heard something very sad.  A little two week old baby boy, Beau, in the extended family, tragically died this week, we think from a Strep B infection.  A shocking loss that words wouldn't describe.

It's good around here. x

Monday, 20 October 2014

A List

I really enjoyed writing The List, and can't believe it was over a year since I posted it.  These small things do really make up a life. I'm very curious about other people, probably unusually so, and love to hear about the small parts that make up their lives.  My obsession with others' lives, and I think it does border on obsession, is to gain insights as to how I might lead my life.  I hope for little clues.

I am not so confident that I know how to live. I'm sure if I was I might not find other people's lives so fascinating.  Interesting, yes.  But I don't really know how to be "normal", how to go through life with self-assurance.   I still find it hard to feel that all is well and how it should be.  I have felt rejected in the past at times when I have been more "real" and so I often feel the need to put on a performance.  To put the Rachel show on the road!  Be funny or entertaining.  Or find solutions to people's problems. Or perhaps become a little like whoever I am with rather than like myself. Or, the exact opposite, I am so anxious to express myself that I don't really get to see or hear the other person.  I know none of this is helpful to myself or others. 

This is part of why I love blogging. Writing my own blog gives me space to get nearer to expressing my true self,rather than being a stage actor. It frees me to give myself more generously in real life. Of course, blogging is also a way to dodge the risks of real life. A way to distance myself. I think there is truth in that. But that is not all it is.  It is my personal space, where I can make sense of things and make myself known.  I acknowledge this is very important to me, for good or bad. 

I also love reading other people's personal blogs, and blogging myself gives me entry into that world.  It is that immediate familiarity and intimacy. People share things they might not otherwise.  I get such great insights into how others lead their lives. Real life relationships are better, yes, but not always. There is something so liberating about the blogging world.  There is the freedom, the space, to express yourself that is not always there in real life. 

I shared my blog on my facebook page last week and I did have to take a deep breath before I did that.  I struggle with the feeling of who am I to write about my life?

But who is anyone to write about their life?  

Why not me?

Why not you?

There is still so much that I hold back.  And perhaps it is just right that I do. There is a lot of dignity in not over-sharing.  But this has to be for the right reason.  Not because you are ashamed to reveal yourself, or don't feel worthy, but because you are self-asssured enough to feel you don't have to.

Right now I am still exploring and experimenting with what to reveal and what not to, in real life and on here. I am trying to get in touch with what feels right to me, rather than worrying about what others think.  I'm not quite there yet.

Getting back to the List, I really  hope any readers will share their list with me too. 

I want to know what a life is made of.

So wow. That turned into an essay. 

Time for The List.

making : want to make these pants for the babe.  Problem...I can't sew....

cooking : not much with a small baby in tow.  Some rushed soup, and lots and lots of trashy sliced white bread toast for that comfort feeling.  Sometimes at 4 in the morning. 

drinking : tea, and fennel tea for the windy baby.

reading : Donna Leon's books about a Venetian detective.  Good, not brilliant but brings me back to the brilliant holiday in Venice in 2012.

wanting : to be accepting

looking : more closely. I want to pay more attention.

playing : Not much playing

needing : To play more

bookmarking: furniture ideas on Pinterest and Etsy

wasting : time stressing about little things

sowing : is it too late to sow chard and kale??

wishing : that I could get back those years


knowing : you need to live it to learn it

enjoying : not being pregnant any more

waiting : I find it so hard to wait

liking : that I'm realising the value of relationships, rather than just being an individual

wondering : what Iona will look like as she grows

loving : the early baby days,  there is no happier time in my life for me

hoping : I don't want to hope it will be so. I want to make it so

marvelling : at how much of a fully formed person a baby is 

smelling : that intense smell of baby head

wearing : elasticated pants

listening: To the Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac.  "Damn your love, damn your lies!" Could it be my favourite?  It reminds me too of my sister Chris and how she always loved music, especially anything uplifting and poppy, and singing and dancing.

following : Austin Kleon

noticing : how a little kindness goes a long way

thinking : when people accept me the way I am, and let me find my own solutions, it gives me the freedom to grow

opening : The Parenting Effectiveness Training workbook as we are both doing this course at Bay's school.  Now I know what made therapy so good - same skills used.

watching: Game of Thrones and The Killing 3.  But now the computer has swallowed the disc! 

laughing : at the baby's expressions

feeling: a bit lonely, a lot optimistic

What's on your List?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Winning the lottery

Shortly after birth
My fingers were itching to start blogging again.  It's not easy with a newborn. In fact I think I just heard a little squawk so this post will be abandoned shortly I'm sure.

During my pregnancy I had zero energy, well just enough to get through the bare bones of the day to day.  Blogging was just not on my radar.  I barely had the energy to think, not to mind write.

Since having Iona though I am full of energy.  I swear it was like she was born and I immediately felt I could dance a jig or run a mile. Or something. My mind is racing with all the things I could do.  I am dying to be out and about and so happy to feel I am now getting on with the rest of my life.

She is lovely by the way.  But not the placid, relaxed baby I hoped she might be.  But of course she is perfectly herself - full of character…(as predicted I had to abandon the post and it is now a week later). Anyway she is a gorgeous and serious little baby.  And after 3 miscarriages I do have a very strong appreciation and love for what a survivor she is.  That we all are. I think of the times I saw the empty second swing in the garden, or watched Bay push her imaginary little sister (a doll) on it, not knowing if she would ever have a real one. 

Iona suffers with some reflux but we are getting through it with some rantitidine (acid suppressant), keeping her upright, and I've started on fennel tea.  Oh, I really don't like herbal tea at all.  Strong, sweet, black builders tea for me all the way.
Skin to skin moments after birth
Iona was born by a planned caesarean section, on my request.  Bay was a true shoulder dystocia (where the head is born but the shoulder is stuck behind the pelvic bone) which is a medical emergency.  I weighed up all the risks and decided I wanted a c section.  And Iona's shoulder was stuck as well. They had to use the forceps even though she was born by c section!  
View from the theatre
It was actually a lovely experience.  I had a birth plan which ensured careful placing of the drip etc to facilitate immediate skin to skin and delayed cord clamping etc.  The medical team were amazing and gave her straight to me without any checks until later that day. The recovery wasn't so great, but at least it was very quick.

First day at school 

Bay is absolutely thrilled to be a big sister and if anything gives Iona too much love if there was such a thing.

She has started school now, a week after Iona's birth, and loves it. Education in the UK is not going in a very good direction with tests for 4 year olds and lots of pressure for reading and maths. So we made a decision to send her to a different kind of school.  It is a lovely place, which has a "curiosity based" and "child-centred" approach to learning. There is no set curriculum.  Basically the learning starts with something that sparks the childrens' interest - the teacher has no set idea about what they are going to learn.  It's about learning how to learn. This is the way we learn in real life.  Something interests us and we make inquiries about it. I think it is a lot more authentic and meaningful to be educated this way, rather than being taught to a set curriculum. We are very lucky to be able to send her there for the moment - unfortunately it is a fee paying school.  I wish every child could be educated in that way.

A "WTF" moment
Having a baby second time round is easier for me.  I think I've already had all the WTF moments and have either figured things out or just know that things are just unfigureable….!!
Yes I am still tired and sleep deprived but I just don't seem to mind that much.  I also have a very real understanding that everything does pass, and so quickly too.  I am loving it really - I feel I have a real role and purpose at the moment and that is so satisfying.

I am happy.  We don't have much money, and I worry about our present and our future.  We won't have any inheritances at all or a decent (or any) pensions.  I would really love to be a stay at home parent, at least for the first few years.  At the moment this isn't possible, though I can manage  15 months or so, and perhaps we can figure something out to help me stay home a bit longer. Like many people I dream about winning the lottery. 

But then again I think I already have.  x

Monday, 1 September 2014


Iona is here at last.
I haven't felt like blogging all pregnancy. Feel I might again soon though, looking forward to it.

Saturday, 10 May 2014



Afloat, waiting, you quietly 

Promise me you'll 



I know all about 
promises made and received

Dropped like anchors in 
unsettled waters.

I've been there when the holding 
ropes, knit so tight to 
fix us fast,

chafe and unravel in 
ferocious storms. Rip 
apart at breaking strength.

Set adrift to take
my chances, to stay lost in 
the outer reaches, or 
make it back to shore.

Free as the wind 
and just as secure. 

I made it back, in 
the end. Not always home, 
but to unexpected shores.

What I mean is, I've taken 
my chances. I'll take them 

Promises won't hold me.

So, I set myself adrift

with hope.


Here is my hope. I hope 
you settle.

Inspired by Paula Meehan, "Playing House".
"Home, you say, let this be
a home for you. Unpack your clothes, hang them
beside mine. Put your sharp 
knife in my kitchen, your books
in my stacks. Let your face
share my mirrors. Light
fires in my hearth. Your talismans
are welcome. Break bread
with me. Settle. Settle."


I'm hoping to have another baby at the end of the summer.  Hoping, not expecting, you see. Though it's looking likely. Bay is mostly happy, while not being sure for a while if we needed another baby. Despite lobbying for one for an age ("But, I didn't really MEAN it!!").  She is busy planning all the things she can teach the baby, like forward rolls and singing.
Perhaps I'll start knitting.  That's a big thing, knitting for a child that isn't here yet. How about this smock?
From: Rosylittlethings

Monday, 24 March 2014


You are :-
  • exuberant, physical, loud
  • emotional
  • honest
  • vulnerable
  • funny
  • a champion sulker
  • opinionated
  • a great negotiater
  • a singer, dancer, muscian, artist, maker and doer
  • confident
  • talkative
  • going through a pink and pretty phase
  • very proud
  • curious
  • patient
  • impatient
  • reluctant to go to bed at night - but you do go
  • determined to do almost everything yourself...although not dressing for some reason
  • love company
  • can ride your new birthday pedal bike 
  • love anything sweet
  • resist control
  • love balancing and climbing
  • come into us every morning, and always give me a kiss before you go for breakfast
  • will give things a go, even if you think you will fail...sometimes with persuasion
  • have lots of imaginary friends
  • still have squashy cheeks and tiny hands
Happy 4th birthday!

Love Mam x

PS I've just spotted there are 5 candles on that cake! Ha ha!