The chance to sit down and write for an hour or two are few and far between in the first few years of motherhood. There have been so many times I have wished there were cameras on the walls or a crew to follow me around-Kardashian-style to snap shot moments of motherhood that were so joyful, unexpected, hilarious or damn right torture. Those moments could be skillfully woven together against a dramatic instrumental background to create a beautiful montage of a baby’s first year to showcase ‘your first milestones’ and ‘the times your mother nearly threw you out the window’.
Instead though, without expensive CCTV or 24/7 stalkerism, all I have is my memory bank, a few photos and this free wordpress outlet to document what has been the most complicated, stressful, glorious and overwhelming year of my entire life. So this is the montage, you’ll have to imagine the soundtrack. I’ll leave that to you to add in. Feel free to go for something heroic, chariots of fire-esq, as let me tell you, Motherhood… aint no walk in the park.
It’s more for Z himself than for me, I can make my peace with all these emotions and memories wrapped up into one little package, buried somewhere deep in my heart, cosy and comfortable for the rest of my life. But for him, what a gift to be able to read back on as a an adult, as a Dad or even Grandad. So Z… cue the music, sit back and enjoy the trip down memory lane!
10. That time you cried through the entire Baby Massage session.
As a little bundle of chubbiness, you attended every class going from about 6 weeks. At 8 weeks, you were signed up to a 5 week course of Baby Massage. You were smothered in organic oil and had your legs ‘Indian milked’ and your tummy ‘I love You’d’. The floor of the nursery function room was heated and you were surrounded by 6 or 7 other little bundles of the same age who seemed to enjoy the piano music, the slow northern accent of the instructor and the ‘skin to skin’ time with Mummy. Not you though! You wanted to stand on your 2 feet and look around, you wanted to get the hell out of there and feel the fresh air on your face. And by God, did you try to communicate that to me! Tried to feed you, not interested, tried to show you some of the toys around, not interested. In the end, you completed the course and now at 12 months, you have a quick cream of the body after the bath and even that can be difficult to accomplish!
Aged 8 weeks after bath time!
9. That time you were too fat for the car seat
At around 10 weeks, Dad and I got into a bit of an evening routine with you. After work, he would take you out so I could take a breather, sing in the shower and brush my teeth. Luxuries you must surrender as a new mum. The first time we decided to try it, it was a cold, foggy and frosty December night and we had you zipped up in a baby blue snow suit your Aunty Annie brought you. I got into a hot shower, got dressed into fresh Pj’s and snuggled into bed. You and Dad had been gone way too long for my liking but I wasn’t worried. When you finally returned… Dad had you in the sling. And he looked knackered. “He wouldn’t fit in the car seat with this snow suit on, I tried for about 10 minutes and he screamed his head off so we walked for half an hour to Tesco and then back again”. Poor little bubs, at least you had some snuggle time with Dad though, the lesson here is that you can always take the jacket off. You can always take the jacket off.
A moment too funny not to snap Aged 10 weeks, in your blue snow suit.
8. That time you partied till Midnight
Your first summer was a ridiculously busy one. Probably the busiest I’ve ever had. With 3 of your aunties and 2 of our good friends getting married there were Hens and Stags coming out of our ears and a whole lot of roadtrippin’ to get you to your Grandmas or the next hotel for the wedding location. On a cloudy day in July, your Aunty Nu and Uncle Ilk married in Bickley. It was your second wedding of the year and you had obviously developed a taste for the glitz and the glamour of it all. Come 7pm we tried everything to get you to sleep in your buggy. Milk, rocking, walking, pitch black darkness of the night on the grass, we wanted you to sleep so we could relax and party on the dancefloor! In the end, we surrended. Onto the dancefloor we took you, passed you around from loved one to loved one and enjoyed ourselves as a family! By the time we got you home it was 1am and with some extra milk and hugs you were partied out and slept like a log till morning!
10 months old and a party animal in the making!
7. That time you caught and ate a butterfly
On a gorgeous spring afternoon in April, your aunty Mary and Dad and I took a trip to Butterfly World. A huge green house housing some of the world’s rarest and biggest butterflies. It was so hot inside, huge trees with giant leaves towered over us, ponds with fountains crashed onto vibrant Koi Carp and flowers of all different colours punctuated the sea of greenery like tiny little fireworks. The hot air hit us straight away and we stripped you down to your nappy! We let you touch all the plants and your eyes were alive with the glorious wonder of nature. And then, whilst posing for a photo by the fountain, you looked, spotted and launched at an innocent little butterfly, grabbed it midair and wouldn’t let go! As I tried to unclasp your little fist, your tight grip told me you had caught your lunch and you lifted it towards your mouth! Lucky for the little guy, I think it just about touched your lips before I saved it from the depths of your intestine.
7 months old at Butterfly World, Preston Park.
6. That time you crossed the border with no passport
For your first little holiday (road trips to London aside) we took a 3 hour drive north of Teesside to the beautiful city of Edinburgh in Scotland. We decided to go the week before, booked a hotel and packed the car. The weather went all out for us and we got glorious sunshine the entire weekend as we toured the zoo and came face to face with a rhinoceros, lions and your favourite – the penguins. We walked all the way to top of the enclosure (mainly for your Dads Fitbit steps) and looked out at the incredibly gorgeous views. You were so well behaved the entire time we bought you a cuddly panda to say thanks and it even made me reconsider my blanket ban on ‘holidays abroad with a baby under 2 because they won’t even remember it or care’ (if only temporarily).
7 1/2 months in Edinburgh, Scotland
5. That time you helped me launch my own little business and threw up all over my leg
It was the first time I had actually bothered to do my hair, put on a decent amount of make up and chose an actual co-ordinating outfit in months. Buggies & Bellinis, my luxury groups for mummies and babies was about to launch at a local Bistro Pub called the Manor House and you had just had your 16 week jabs. What was I thinking? I put on my ‘Mama’ jumper, dressed you in your ‘Bubba’ jumper and hoped for the best! Once all set up, I held you the entire time (you were still breastfed so weighed the same as the average boulder) and spent 2 hours apologising to new mums who had come out for the event (and the free cake and coffee) for the whiny, squirmy little human in my arms and my talent for bad timing. As I had settled you next to me on the sofa, you began exploring a handbag definitely not belonging to me, I breathed easy and relaxed my shoulders and simultaneously you leant over my leg… and vomited all over my nice new skinny jeans that I had miraculously fit into 5 months after giving birth. I had no choice but to laugh it off and continue drinking my cold coffee. “Mum life!” I exclaimed and the next event sold out.
4 months old at Buggies & Bellinis
4. That time you napped under ‘one of the most spectacular waterfalls in England’
Continuing our spontaneous tour of the North East, your Dad and I drove an hour to ‘discover the force of nature at High Force’ in the heart of the Durham Dales. Needless to say we were surrounded by stunning natural beauty that rivaled scenic views from Canada or Alaska. There were trees as tall as mountains and pathways that led deep into the woods. We timed it perfectly so that you slept in the car on the way there, was awake for lunch and play in the pub garden and then asleep during our walk through the woods. We figured the noise from the crashing water 21 metres above us into the plunge pool below would wake you, just like your Dad going down the stairs in the night did or closing your bedroom door at night! But, for one day, and one day only, noise wasn’t a problem for this nap! There you were, parked in your buggy, in the middle of the ‘North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’… out for the count! At least your Dad and I managed to take some photos and take in just how beautiful the UK can be. You snooze you lose!
Aged 9 months, High Force Waterfall
3. That time you found the word ‘balloon’ absolutely hilarious.
In all of the the exhaustion, the missed meals, showers and hair washes, there were points of sheer and utter peace and joy. They have been sprinkled across the year like grated cheese on a pasta bake. The foundations that make up who are today, the routines and nappy changes, the clothes you wear and the food you eat, that’s all the dense pasta, squashed together to form a stable, solid meal. But the grated cheese, the bit that really makes it, the crispy, tasty goodness that people pick off the top, that’s the good stuff. And your laugh, your big belly laugh that you only brought out for special occasions and huge efforts from other human beings made my entire week. My month! Around Fathers Day, there was still a helium balloon floating around, whilst you played with it, I asked you if you liked the ‘balloooon’ and the rest is history.
The Balloon Video
2. That time you launched off the sofa head first.
At the weekends, your Dad gets you up. I lay in bed, anxiously waiting to see if he changes your nappy and gives you your milk pretending I’m relaxing and taking advantage of the time to myself. On this occasion, nappy changed and milk in belly, you were downstairs playing happily. It had been a mere 10 minutes since your Dad had left our bedroom when I heard an almighty thud and then silence… silence is the worst with a baby… you just hold your breath knowing the screech that is coming is measure of how badly you are hurt. There it was. A piercing scream to let us know you needed help immediately. Dad, in a moment of morning haziness, had left you on the sofa and walked into the kitchen. Onto the laminate you plunged. Half a metre down must feel like a abyss for a baby and in came Dad. Once calmed, you, but also us!… we reckoned you had learned a valuable lesson that day. From then on, you knew the dangers. You put your feet first and helped yourself down onto the floor. This extended to our bed and then stairs. It was a painful way to learn, but a moment of discovery and a lesson in the brutality of life!
Aged 12 months, at home.
1.That time you saw daylight for the first time and barely cried
Of course, the number one moment for us all is always going to be the day you were born. For me,much as it was a day of joy and amazement… it was also one of total delirium and confusion. It went from peaceful labour at home to birthing suite and the idea of a calm, quiet water birth to consultant led care and a million and one wires in and out of and around my body. I could barely move and I looked like a robot, hooked up to a machine for recharging. After a grueling 24 hours, we were down in theatre, ready to meet our gorgeous little bundle, currently with no gender! It was quick and painfree in the end and there you were. Pulled from the darkness like when a drunken (or just inconsiderate) adult switches on the light whilst you’re sleeping. To me, that must’ve been horrific. But for you, chilled, laid back you, it just seemed very natural. There was a tiny cry and then it stopped. You opened your eyes, bright operation table lights must’ve blinded you but you looked around. You were so alert. Over they brought you. And you looked at me. You had joined us. You were here. And everything was different. We were complete.
5 Minutes old, Lewisham Hospital
For you Zachy and all the love you brought with you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx