I don’t know what I’m doing

Road Signs

Last year I didn’t want to leave work to go on maternity leave because I was scared of what I was going to miss out on. Scared that the momentum that I had built up over the last few years would be lost. Scared that people would forget me. Because in the fast paced world that I work in, where things are constantly changing, people coming and going, it’s a very real possibility. Fast forward eight months and now, at times I don’t want to go back. I want to stay in this new world that my daughter and I have built together. Where I get to live the stay at home mum dream, all day every day. Of course, at times it’s very hard living the dream. Its hard work being a full time stay at home mum. But its a lovely privilege that I am enjoying every minute of. One that has caused me to daydream what it would be like not to go back to work. Not to go back into the city that I so love. Something that I never considered in my pre-child world. Because I never anticipated that becoming a mother would change me so much.

I haven’t even been back yet to give it a chance, but the anxiety already has me contemplating a move. A change of career. Perhaps even an opportunity to reinvent myself a little. I can’t quite see consulting fitting in with having a family. But then in the same breath I’m thinking about going back and scaling the career ladder, picking up where I left off and hastily setting up meetings with work. I thought I was ready to go back in a few months. I thought I had decided. I thought in my head, that it was a done deal. But an informal call with work yesterday suggested otherwise. I’m a mess. I’m all over the place. I’m not quite sure I know what I’m doing. I’m not quite sure I want to know yet, and I guess that’s ok. When we confirmed our childcare arrangements a few weeks ago it set off a chain reaction, one that threw me back into my working mentality. One that I don’t think I was quite ready for. I don’t want to return to work feeling as uncertain as I do now about my decision of when the right time is for me to go back to work. I need to be confident and sure that the decisions I am making are for the right decisions, and if there was anything that the call showed me was that I’m still not sure.

So I’m not sure where that leaves me. I don’t know how much more thinking and talking I can do around this. I’m not sure what I need for me to make a final decision that I feel happy about. It feels like such a big decision and I don’t want to regret anything. I really don’t know what to do. But I’m not sure that I need to just yet..

I would love to hear from other parents on how you made your decision about when the right time was to go back to work? What things helped you make your decision and how did you feel when you made it?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lori_greig/5331407245/”>Lori Greig</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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Quitting breastfeeding

Breastfeeding

The little lady turns six months this Sunday. Six months also happens to be the point that I said I would breastfeed up to. All those many months, weeks and days ago when breastfeeding seemed so hard and so painful. Because it really is in the beginning. We suffered a long and agonising wait for my colostrum to come in over the first four days during which we had to top up with formula, only to then to have latching problems and a severely cracked nipple for around the first four to six weeks. The evenings were stressful and exhausting for at least the first three months as we faced a frustrated and distraught little lady who cried during her feed every evening at the same time. We weren’t sure if it was colic or if my let down was too fast or slow for her. We still don’t know, but thankfully it passed before it became a real issue. Combine this with a tough few months of feeds every 1-2 hours including nights where there was no let up for mum because we had a baby discerning enough to refuse anything except the breast, and we don’t exactly sound like a walking advertisement for breastfeeding. There was many a dark night when I wanted to stop, when I was only too ready to give in. It was only through the support and gentle encouragement of my husband that I found the inner strength and perseverance to continue, and im so glad that I did. Because what follows once breastfeeding is established and you both get the hang of it around that magic six-week mark – its true what they say, is something rather quite special. If I had to do it all over again I would, because it is completely and totally worth every cracked nipple and late night. Breastfeeding, in my experience is easy once you get the hang of it. Which is why even though in the back of my mind I’ve looked forward to January knowing that I’d finally be able to wear nice normal bras that match my knickers and I’ll finally have all of my body back, there is a new quiet hesitation and reluctance that has been growing making me question my decision to stop breastfeeding at six months.

You see, I am only too aware that these special moments between the little lady and I wont be forever and my heart wants to preserve them for as long as it can. My head questions why I would stop at six months when I could so easily go on, when I have been one of the lucky ones who is able to. Why I would take away something that my body naturally makes for my daughter and substitute it with something else. I can no longer remember the reason why I decided I wanted to stop at six months all those many months ago. Perhaps it was because I thought I would go back to work earlier than I am, or perhaps it was because I wasn’t so keen on the idea of breastfeeding in the beginning – not breastfeeding itself but the perceived effect it would have on my body. Either way, I can’t really find any real reason not to continue. But I am still torn. Because on the one hand it seems quite timely to stop around the same time we properly start to wean the little lady. I also worry that the longer I continue to breastfeed for, the harder it will be for us both to detach from it. But then I weigh up all the obvious health, cost and convenience benefits and I feel torn again. I never imagined stopping breastfeeding would be such a difficult, emotional decision to make. Now that we’re here at the six month mark, it feels like it makes more sense to slowly cut down and wean the little lady off breastfeeding. It also feels like the right thing to do. For her and for I. I just never expected to feel so guilty..

I would love to hear from other mummy’s about their experiences as a breastfeeding or formula feeding mum. What were the struggles you faced? Were things easier or more difficult than you anticipated? Have you felt guilty about some of your decisions? What advice would you share?

A special mention to two very good friends; Crystal and Femi for encouraging me to continue writing this blog post when it was very close to being designated to the trash pile.

My top six new parent essentials

Baby Hands

I was bathing the little lady this evening when I realised that the bath support I was using was one of the most useful things we have been given as new parents. Which got me to thinking, most of the things we have bought or been lucky enough to receive from friends and family have been used and have been useful, but there are definitely some things that have stood out as things that have made our lives that little bit easier as new parents. So I thought Id share what I consider my top six new parent must haves in no particular order:

1: Baby bath support. We have the Jahgoo Baby Bath Support from John Lewis, but anything of a similar design will infinitely make bath time a lot easier and a lot less scary, especially with a new baby. We used it from our first bath time when our little lady was only 2 weeks old and are still using it now 5 months on. They don’t cost very much, but are worth their weight in gold!

2: Moses basket. Now I never had any intentions of getting a Moses basket initially. It was only at the insistence of my husband, mother in law and a friend that I conceded, and boy am I glad I did. My original plans were to have the little lady sleeping in her cot in the nursery from day dot, but peer pressure, the health and safety guidelines and the delightful surprise gift of a Moses basket meant that she was bunking in with us, and up to a few days ago still was. Again, this is something that has made our lives that little bit easier. I didn’t realistically think through how wearing it would be to trek back and forwards to the nursery in the night, especially when breastfeeding, so I am eternally grateful that we have a Moses basket. I suppose the only caveat here is that not all babies like and take to sleeping in a Moses basket, but that’s not something you’ll know until you have one.

3. Baby monitor. This is something that we only really started to use in the last two or three months. For a while I was starting to think that we’d wasted a small fortune on our snazzy Angelcare video and sound monitor, but now that the little lady has started to sleep in her cot in the nursery it is paying dividends. I’ve felt relatively relaxed in transitioning her into her cot because I know that I can see her and hear her quite easily when im not in the same room as her. What is also great about our one in particular is that it also reads the room temperature which really puts me at ease.

4. Widgey nursing cushion. As a breastfeeding mummy I highly recommend the widgey nursing cushion for making things that little bit more comfortable and easier on your arms. Not only does this fabulous cushion help with breastfeeding, but it doubles up a support for baby and for helping guests, particularly little ones hold baby. This cushion has been used and abused in our house so much so that we’re on our second one!

5. Muslins. I never really knew what Id use these for before the little lady came along, but I knew that they were something that parents with babies seemed to have, so I bought and was gifted with lots of pretty colourful muslin’s in all shapes and sizes. Since the little lady arrived I’ve discovered that you pretty much use them for anything and everything. They are so versatile and that is what is so great about them. We have them lying pretty much all over the house – in the cot, in the lounge, in the change bag, the pushchair.. They are an essential new parent purchase. My little lady was born in the midst of the summer when we had that rare spell of 30 degree weather so she spent her first few weeks and months sleeping in her Moses basket with only a muslin. We’ve also used them for the obvious spit ups, as a bit of a cover when im breastfeeding, as a shade over the pushchair in the sun and in the rain and for about half a dozen other things I’ve already forgotten!

6. Car seat mobile. We started off in the beginning with one of those spiral travel toys that you wrap around the handle of the car seat. But after one or two journeys with it we realised that it just keep slipping and falling, and then were advised that they are not actually supposed to be used in the car – who would have thought it? Luckily for us, a friend gave us a musical mobile that you can attach to the car seat which I thought was quite novel, and I must say, I never thought Id love a musical mobile so much. Its taken us from a baby who hated being in a car seat and in the car, to one that is happy and easily soothed the instant she is put in there.

So there you have it, my top six new parent essentials. Do you have any new parent essentials that you would add to this list?

Disclaimer: this is not a paid or sponsored review of any of the products mentioned. All views are my own.

The A to Z of Me

ChampagneAfternoon teaShoppingLondon

I was tagged by the lovely Not A Frumpy Mum to write a blog on the A – Z of me. The idea being that you write something about yourself for each letter in the alphabet. Sound difficult? Well it is. But Id like to say I had a fair stab at it. So if you’ve ever wondered who the mummy behind My Petit Canard actually is, here’s a bit about me:

A is for Afternoon Tea. I absolutely adore going for afternoon tea. I love the quaintness of it all. Eating sandwiches with cutlery, drinking tea from bone china, scones with lots of jam and cream and beautiful cakes that look like miniature works of art.

B is for Blogging and My Petit Canard. In case you were wondering, im not French, but My Petit Canard was a term of endearment that I used when I used to talk to my daughter when she was in my tummy. So when I decided to start a blog about my experiences of motherhood, it felt like it only made sense to use that same term, and voila, My Petit Canard was born.

C is for Cakes. I have a very sweet tooth and absolutely love cakes of all types. I’m the type of girl who wouldn’t think twice about starting a meal with dessert or having one instead of dinner.

D is for Daughter. I have a five month old daughter who I absolutely adore and cherish. She keeps me on my toes most of the time, but I love being her mummy and wouldn’t change her for the world.

E is for Entertaining. I love entertaining and hosting. Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, christenings, weddings, any excuse really. I love the planning and preparation and getting everything just so. But above all, I love showing friends and family a good time.

F is for Family and Friends. I have both a small family and a small circle of friends. I may not get to see all of them very often, but I’m the type of person that doesn’t have friends for friends sake, so those that I consider friends and family are held very closely and dearly to my heart.

G is for God. I never usually write or really talk about the fact that I’m a Christian. I’m not the type of person that forces their faith or views on others, but I would really like for my daughter to be brought up having the same type of faith in God.

H is for Handbags. Just like shoes, I have a bit of a thing for handbags. I never really used to be that bothered by handbags until a few years ago. I’m not sure if it was when I started working in the city, or when my husband bought me my first Mulberry bag, but somewhere along the line I started to love and lust over beautiful handbags. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a nice new handbag – im pretty sure its the equivalent of the new car smell for men!

I is for Indecisive. I’m really bad at making small, insignificant, everyday decisions. I have often missed out on pretty good deals and opportunities because it has taken me so long to make a decision. It annoys me, and it annoys my husband even more.

J is for Jazz. I adore Jazz music. I find it so soothing and relaxing, it instantly transports me and puts me in a good mood wherever I am.

K is for Karma. Because I’m a great believer in what goes around comes around and you will often hear me saying this.

L is for London. Im a London girl at heart. I was raised in London but have moved further and further away from it the older I have got. I love living further out where it is a little greener and a little less crowded, but I always love it when I get to go back into London town.

M is for Management Consultant. When im not being mummy full-time, this is what I do, and I love it. I love the challenge and variety it gives me, but not the stress and the late nights.

N is for Notepad. I’m a bit of a list maker, so I have quite a few notepads lieing around the house. I make lists for pretty much everything. At times I have multiple lists for the same thing which can get a bit confusing – I should probably write a list of all the lists I have so I can keep track!

O is for OCD. I don’t actually have OCD, but I would definitely say I have OCD tendencies when it comes to things like gift wrapping and planning events. Although I’m sure my husband would prefer it to be on something useful like cleaning!

P is for Petite. I take after my mother and am rather on the petite size. I am 5ft and not an inch more or an inch less. I quite enjoy being petite and never really realise quite how short I am until I see photos, which is probably quite a good thing otherwise Id probably have that short person syndrome where you try to overcompensate in some awful way or another.

Q is for Quidco. Quidco isn’t something that Ive actually used for very long, but I seem to be completely obsessed with it at the moment.

R is for Roast Dinner. A roast with all the trimmings has to be one of my all time favourite meals. I love to cook it and I love to eat it.

S is for Shoes. I have a bit of a thing for shoes of the high-heeled kind. Ok, a lot of a thing for shoes. But less so since the little lady came along and I can find less and less reasons and places to wear them to.

T is for Twenty Nine. My age in years as of tomorrow (Wednesday), and I must say I’m quite looking forward to heading towards the big 3-0.

U is for Understanding. I like to think that I am quite an understanding and empathetic kind of person. It would be one of the words I would hope friends and family would use to describe me!

V is for Vodka and Coke. My drink of choice, and one that I havent had for a very long time now, (at the risk of sounding like an alcoholic) 14 months to be precise. My preferred tipple is Grey Goose, and I got quite upset recently when my husband accidentally smashed an unopened 1 litre bottle of it all over the kitchen floor.

W is for Watches. Another thing that I have a little bit of a thing for. I have a couple of lovely Michael Kors numbers that I love to wear anywhere and everywhere. They instantly make me feel a little bit more dressed up everyday.

X is for Xmas. Xmas, or rather Christmas as I like to call it is one of my absolute favourite times of year. The festivities feel even more magical now that we have a daughter to celebrate it with. I cant wait to start creating our own family traditions.

Y is for Yoga. I’m not quite a yogi, but I have done yoga on and off for years. I find it such a relaxing and enjoyable release for my body when I do get the chance to do it.

Z is for Zara. My absolute favourite store and wardrobe staple of choice. I can quite happily spend an age in one of their stores perusing all the lovely, lovely, lovely things. If you ever bump into me on the high street, chances are it’ll be in a Zara.

So there you have it, the A – Z of My Petit Canard. Following the A – Z of me tradition, Id like to tag (and im really hoping they haven’t already been tagged) Charlie and Mummy, Dilly Bug Dj, Teacher 2 Mummy,  Puddin and Pie and Dancing with Dirty Feet!

A letter to my body..

Baby bump

I feel betrayed..

I looked after you for 10 whole months. I treated you like the holy grail. I ate well. I didn’t drink. I abstained from anything and everything that they said you shouldn’t eat or drink. All the things I love – Pate, Camembert, runny yolks.. I worked out up until 7 months. I started walking. I conceded to you and ate more than I ever have before. I took vitamins and had the requisite jabs. I hypno-birthed and attended antenatal. I even started drinking water.  You had it good before, but for 10 months you had it better than you ever had. I thought we were partners. I thought that if I treated you well, if I looked after you and worked with you, you would work with me when the day came. I embraced you and your changes. I loved you and marveled at how amazing you were. I was excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time about what lay at the end of our journey, but I trusted you. I thought that if you could do all this with such ease and grace then we would be fine. I felt at ease, a quiet confidence.

So why then did you let me down. How did we go from such calm to such confusion. I can’t quite figure it out. My mind is still fuzzy. I can’t recall an exact sequence of events, and I am upset at you. I am upset because I thought we were supposed to work together. I am upset because I didn’t get the memo. Because if I did, I would have prepared myself better. I would have done certain things differently. I am upset because I cannot recall in perfect detail, one of the most important events in my life. I am upset because I have to rely on someone else to fill in the gaps, and I am upset because it makes me sad to think about it.

But how can I be mad at you. Because at the end of it all you gave me the most wonderful and precious gift, a daughter. I just don’t understand how such happiness can be tinged with such sadness. I feel disappointed. Disappointed because we couldn’t do something that we should have been able to do, you and I. Instead we needed assistance and intervention, and not just a little, but quite a lot. I’m confused, because at the time it was the right thing to do, and if the same sequence of events occurred I may very well have made the same choices. It felt right at the time. But then why do I feel so scared by the experience. Why then can I not bring myself to think about it. Why then, five months on does it all still feel so raw. Why then do I feel so betrayed..

Am I the only woman that feels like this? I would love to hear from you if this resonates for you in any way whatsoever, or if you have any comments that you’d like to share.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bies/107729240/”>bies</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Parenting, the good, the bad and the ugly

Being a parent is amazing for many reasons. Apart from the obvious fact that you have created a completely unique human being, a little bit of you and a little bit of someone else, there are certain things that make this amazing job even more fun, and other things that make it just that little bit harder sometimes. Here are my top ten love/hates about parenting so far:

1. We now get to park in those gloriously wide parent parking bays almost everywhere we go. Its like having valet parking but cheaper. Fabulous.

2. Making new friends is a wonderful by product of having children. Most of my friends have stayed the same over the years, either friends from college, university or work. Having a child has given me an opportunity to create a new social circle of friends that I probably would never have met otherwise.

3. Time off. Lots and lots of it. Never before, and never again will I have so much time off. Ok, so its not a holiday, and its not exactly free time, but it sure beats the 7am commute.

4. Taking lifts everywhere, which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t, a: hidden away in the deepest, darkest and most obscure places, b: ultra slow and c: stopped at every floor.

5. Not being able to dash out quickly anymore. Need to pop to the supermarket quickly – don’t forget to grab the changing bag, a blanket, the rain cover in case it rains, get baby in the pushchair, grab your keys and your phone… whats that noise, nappy change it sounds like. Unstrap baby, change baby, go through the whole process of getting baby in the pushchair and out the door again.  By now its been at least been 15 minutes since you decided you needed to “pop” out to the shops *sigh*.

6. No sleep, lack of sleep and not enough sleep. We seem to go through phases when it comes to sleep. Just when I seem to be getting just enough sleep to function reasonably well, a spanner is thrown in the works and suddenly we’re up three or four times a night and it feels like I have a newborn all over again. Seriously annoying.

7. Getting either wet or seriously cold whilst getting baby in and out of the car and into pushchair. In the early days I tried rather optimistically, and foolishly to balance an umbrella at the same time as trying to get baby in and out of the car, but that only slowed me down and made me more wet, or cold as well as look a bit silly in the process. So now I just try to get us in and out as quickly as possible and embrace the wet and the cold and the bad hair days that are now a part of my life *sob*

8. The mummy uniform. Now, I like my dresses and skirts and usually wearing my hair down, but none of these things are really very practical anymore. Hair tied up, jeans, and flats are pretty much the day to day staple when you become a mummy. Embrace it, or enjoy dribble soaked Uggs and nappy filled Mulberry bags.

9. Reconnecting with yourself on a completely new level. Having a child really makes you think about things from a whole new perspective. For the first time in a long time I have had the luxury of sitting back (figuratively speaking of course) and really thinking things through. For once im not going at everything a million miles an hour and can make better, more thoughtful decisions and choices.

10. Getting to try new things and realise personal projects like this blog. Ive wanted to blog for a long time, but I never quite found the time to get round to it. I probably have less time now than I did before I had a child. But having a child has given me a new quiet determination to fulfill personal projects that have been pipe dreams for years.

So those are my top ten after four hard, tiring but glorious months of being a mummy. What are yours, Id love to hear!

The guilt of a new mum

Is it the fate of every mummy to perpetually feel guilty? I think so. For there are a million and one things to feel guilty about. All the time. Every day. Right now, this very moment I feel guilty about not finishing the washing up. I also feel guilty that I haven’t even made a sniff at starting dinner and my husband will be home any moment.  I have parcels sitting on my table unopened since yesterday, letters waiting to be filed away and an incessant pile of washing to be done, all of which I feel a teensy bit guilty about not doing.

It seems the moment you become a parent, there is always something to feel guilty about. Sometimes its big things, often times its the little things. Here are some of the things that I have found myself feeling a little guilty about since becoming a mummy:

Missing important friend and family engagements and social gatherings has unfortunately become something that seems to come with having children. We had quite a few close friends and family weddings either side of the little lady arriving, which meant we had to miss all the pre-wedding activities and the big events themselves. People understood, but it doesn’t make you feel any less guilty about it.

Taking ages to do things, because non child related activities just don’t seem to be a priority anymore. A friend asked me awhile back if I could give her a LinkedIn recommendation. Shes a great friend, and she was a great ex-colleague, so I was more than happy to oblige. However, months on it still sits in the midst of my ever growing to do list. This is just one of the things that I haven’t been able to get round to and its getting more embarrassing each time I speak to her.

As a breastfeeding mummy I often feel guilty about some of the less healthy food choices I make every now and then. When I reach for those chocolate biscuits, or that packet of crisps the thought that what I eat nutritionally passes on to my daughter often crosses my mind. Although more often than not its usually about 3pm in the afternoon and the first thing Ive had a chance to grab, but I still feel guilty about it.

I feel guilty that four months on after having my daughter I have yet to dust off my trainers and workout gear. I promised myself that long before I now I would have got back in the gym. The thing is, im actually one of those annoying people that actually quite like the gym, yet I still haven’t been able to muster up the energy or find the time to get in there.

I feel guilty that oftentimes, im feeling rather lackluster by the time it gets to bath time. For us, bath time signals the beginning of bedtime and the whole long process of endurance and perseverance that’s about to begin. I can only liken how I feel to the 4pm sugar slump I used to get when I was in the office and only a sugar fix would see me through the rest of the afternoon. As a mum, I feel guilty that im not always looking forward to the fun of bath times like I feel I should.

With the inevitability of retuning to work sometime next year, I feel like every day is precious. I want to make the most of my one on one time with my little lady, and that for me means getting us out and about to experience and enjoy things together. We have been to classical baby concerts, rhymetime at the library and joined a baby sensory class. Next term is looking equally busy with the addition of swimming and baby yoga. However, there are those days when I just don’t feel like doing very much and we might have the odd lazy day at home which leaves me feeling guilty, like we’ve just wasted one of our precious days. I know that its perfectly fine, and probably expected, but I still feel guilty about it.

Not giving my daughter 100% of me all the time is probably the thing that I feel the most guilt about most of the time. I know its probably unrealistic to achieve this, however it doesn’t make me feel any less guilty that I’m not always present and giving her 100% of my time, focus and attention. There is always going to be housework to be done, food to be cooked, shopping to be done, and so on, and its not always possible to squeeze all of this into nap times. I’m sure the little lady doesn’t even mind, in fact I think most of the time she even enjoys watching mummy go about her day to day errands, but I still feel guilty about it.

So it seems that feeling guilty every now and then is part and parcel of becoming a parent. Perhaps its a natural and healthy, intrinsic reflection of how much you love, care and worry for your child. As new or seasoned parents, can you relate to feeling guilty about the everyday things that we face as parents? Share your thoughts and comments below, I would love to hear from you.