One

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On 18 September, 2015 in the very early hours, my boy made his grand appearance into the world. He was covered in green stuff, and I was conked out on an operating table with my middle sliced open. It was not quite what I had in mind. A calm water birth, a not so calm water birth, lying on a bed pushing him out with Ryan and Mum by my side…anything but that. Ah well, we made it!

And now, just like that, we’re a whole year on. I don’t know how it has happened.

As we’ve been building up to the big day, I’ve been hearing about what Ryan and I were doing when we turned one. But depending on who we’ve been speaking to, the facts get a little squiffy. Some say I said my first swear word on my first birthday (f!*k off, in case you were wondering). In actual fact, that was when I was two. Others say I stood unassisted for the first time. That one is probably true. And so on, and so on.

It got me thinking. I’d better document this event properly to help us all out when we’re trying to remember many years down the line. So Ralphie, if you happen to be reading this, this one’s for you…

Dear Ralphie,

Today you turn one. If I could describe you in one sentence right now, it would be a wild whirlwind of cheekiness who gives the best kisses (albeit wet ones) and cuddles. Your dad calls you a little madman, and he is right. Your heavy breathing when you crawl fast or get overexcited is both alarming and wonderful all at the same time. And I can’t tell you how much I laughed when you kissed Grandad the other day and pretty much stuck your entire tongue in his mouth. You will learn that this is not the done thing.

So, what do you want to know? Well, here is a list of some things you are currently able to do:

  • You’re on the move, from dawn ’til dusk. You can’t walk yet, but you can scale furniture like Spider-Man. No wall, door, side table or unit is out of your reach. And you have just recently mastered stairs, which you’re ever so pleased about. Me, not so much.
  • You can stand unassisted for a whole five seconds. I’m sure you could stand for longer, but because you’ve not figured out the walking bit and it means you’re not getting anywhere, you’re not that bothered.
  • You can talk, although I must admit that your vocabulary is limited. Most of the time you say “dada” or “da” or “ada”. However, when you choose, you can also say “mama” (mainly when you’re cross or upset), “grandad,” “ta,” “dirty” and maybe “cat.” I don’t know, I’m still trying to understand you! When you see Grandma you grunt at her, and she grunts back. Hopefully you will both grow out of this.
  • You eat everything and anything, even Jaffa Cakes, which I’m not so delighted about. I received this message from Grandad the other day while I was at work; “He’s asleep after I filled him up with Jaffa cakes – he couldn’t eat them fast enough.” Your favourite meal is a baby friendly version of tuna Niçoise salad – tuna, avocado, egg, potato – you love it! Porridge and Petit Filous are also strong favourites; you cry when they’ve all gone!
  • You are brilliant at mimicking what we do. Your dad and I get you to copy us far too much! “Do pat-a-cake, Ralphie!” “Do the pose.” “Go ah ah ah!” “Put your hands up in the air and go wooooo!” Yeah, we’re learning on the job too. Sorry.
  • Toys – it’s hard for me to pick a clear favourite. You do love chucking your blue ball around (it looks like a dog toy or something you’d put in the tumble dryer, but I promise you it’s not). Although your aim is very hit and miss, you love playing catch. I’m sure it won’t be long before Daddy has you chasing a football around. And books, I can’t tell you how proud I am that you love books. It is just the cutest when you bring a book over for me to read to you. You have your favourites -“Vroom” and “Cars go” – I think I’ve already read them to you a million times!
  • You have two naps a day, and you definitely still need them. You switch to ‘tired mode’ without any warning. You start desperately rubbing your eyes, and if I put you down in your cot, you fall asleep quickly. I leave you lying on your back, but you’re such a mover and a groover! Most of the time I find you lying on your tummy with your little bottom in the air. And yes, I do photograph the evidence.
  • Although I’m doing my best to be a chilled mum, I have some non negotiables with you, which of course you fight! I don’t know what it is about them, but you are drawn to the tv stand and coffee table (which I moved to the corner of the room so it was less of a temptation). “Please don’t climb up them,” I plead. And you just ignore me. You also try to slam doors, grab things, eat shoes, and generally make me anxious. You know you are doing it; you give me a wry grin every time!
  • There’s actually so so much I could write about you; this post could go on forever! But one thing I must mention is the way you scrunch up your nose when you feed or have your dummy. It melts my heart every time.

Thank you for the best year ever, dear boy. Your dad and I are the smuggest, happiest parents; you should hear us coo over you! Today, we’ll be raising a glass to you. And we’ll most likely eat plenty of cake on your behalf too. You’re welcome! 

All my love

Mum x

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Time for some adult conversation

 

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And so a new chapter has begun. September – the month I head back to work. The month Ralphie turns one.

A week in and I know we’re all going to be ok. But I already miss maternity leave dreadfully. I wasn’t prepared for it to be over so soon. Can we rewind the clock, please?

If you’re reading this and you happen to be on maternity leave or going on leave soon, my one word of advice is to enjoy the small things – a hot shower, afternoon cuddles, making it out of the house only half an hour late. Some days will be good, others will be great, and others you’ll want to curl up into a ball and cry. And that’s fine. If you didn’t manage to get dressed today, don’t worry.

It’s probably also worth knowing the following:

  • The washing and cleaning can wait. As long as you’re not festering, you’ll all be fine
  • Remember to go to the loo, don’t hold it in!
  • Snuggle that baby as much as you want. You won’t make him clingy in later life. Ralphie only fell asleep on us when he was tiny and now he falls asleep by himself in his cot. Those cuddles did no lasting damage. Phew!
  • Take plenty of pictures and videos, and make sure you’re in them too
  • It’s ok not to be a perfect mum, housewife, cook and partner at the same time – you can’t be all things to all people. Well, I can’t anyway
  • Sing – a good nursery rhyme fixes most things. I’m the mad lady singing ‘Pat-a-cake’ to Ralphie in his pram when we’re out and about
  •  Try not to compare yourself to other mums. By all means listen to their advice, but do what’s right for you and your baby. I’m yet to meet anyone who has taken the exact same approach on everything
  • You will sleep again, just maybe not tonight!
  • Statutory maternity pay is rubbish and if, like me, your work didn’t give you a decent package, things will feel a bit tight. You’ll learn to adapt, though. New clothes and fancy meals out can wait
  • Get creative! You won’t have loads of free time on your hands, but when that babe is asleep, you may just want to try out something new, or old. For me, it was writing and photography. I thought I wouldn’t mind a year off from writing, but I missed it. And I never expected to love taking photos as much as I do, but it’s definitely a new passion of mine.

Looking back on the last year, I have no regrets. I would like to experience it all again, though, just in case.

But, alas, it’s too late. I won’t be able to stay in my pyjamas until midday – not on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, anyway!

And most gutting of all, on those days there’ll be nobody around that gives me hugs and kisses on demand.

So it’s back to adult conversation and hot drinks. The thing is, I don’t even mind cold coffee anymore.

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Dear nursery…

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I’ve been given a form to fill out so that the folk at nursery can learn a little more about Ralphie and what he gets up to in a typical day. Nap times, favourite toys…you know the drill.

The thing is, it’s quite hard to encapsulate my boy’s habits and little quirks in a single form. Do I, for example, let them know about his new tendency to pucker up his face and look like a pig? Do they need to know that he enjoys pinching that soft bit of skin at the top of your arm? It hurts – a lot – by the way.

For his sake, and mine, I’ve omitted a few details. But just in case anyone’s reading, here is a more honest response…

Dear nursery,

Good luck looking after my gorgeous boy. Please look after him well. He’s the happiest baby I know. He never really cries, unless he’s super hungry or tired. And he loves to laugh and sing. However, he may look like a little angel, but he will certainly make sure I get my money’s worth. 

Here are a few reasons why…

Busy. If I had to describe him in one word, it would be busy. My little guy doesn’t like to miss a thing. He is into EVERYTHING. Even when you think he’s sound asleep at nap time, don’t be fooled. Put the magazine down. Because if you happen to peek and check on him, and catch your foot on a creaky floorboard, he will hear you and sit up immediately.

Don’t bother tidying. Ralphie has this thing with neat sideboards and stuff tidied safely away in boxes. He hates it. Turn your back and he will remedy the situation in no time. Turns out, toys, clothes, ornaments, magazines, you name it, all belong on the floor.

He loves pulling hair, and I’m sure that he actually says “hair” while he’s doing it. I’m so proud. But, unless you are willing to experience serious pain, do not let him go anywhere near your head. He has the grip of a grown man. And if you happen to be bald, he will lick your head instead.

He likes mouths too. Try not to open yours when his hand is close by. He will stick his fingers in and pull your teeth.

Ralphie is a great communicator. If he doesn’t like the food you’re trying to carefully spoon into his mouth at lunch, he will let you know. Without any warning he will whack the utensil out of your hands.

After his morning nap (or perhaps during), Ralphie will do a poo. It doesn’t smell of roses. 

Nine times out of ten, you will get peed on as you’re changing his nappy. He will also get pee on himself in the process – it will run all up his back and soak into his vest and top. That wipe I put over his nether regions does absolutely nothing.

Do not, I repeat, do not let him roll mid way through the nappy change. He flips in a split second and tries to do a runner. A pack of wipes usually does the trick and keeps him in place. 

You will get called “dad,” even though you are clearly not his dad. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Just so you know, he calls his Daddy “Ada.”

Ask him not to do something and he will turn around, look at you, and grin. He will then carry on doing whatever it was you didn’t want him to, such as grabbing your jewellery, trying to push the tv over, that kind of thing.

Once again, good luck. And if you’re not up to the job, please let me know. I miss him already.

Mum x

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Read all about it

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If you pop into your local corner shop today and happen to pick up a copy of Tatler, head to page 216. You may see a familiar face.

There he is – a five month old version of my little chunk in his Didi and Bud sleepsuit and hat. It was back in the day when he slept on our bed and I didn’t worry about him launching himself off. He would fall asleep anywhere, and I would take photos!

I love that sleepsuit. I got it out again the other day. It looks so tiny now. And the hat – admittedly it was always a bit tight on Ralphie’s generously sized head – is just the cutest.

Because I’m feeling all nostalgic (did I mention that Ralphie turns one in two weeks?), here are a few more of the tiny squidger – hat and all.image

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