Wednesday, 24 July 2019

i didn't want my baby

today i want to admit a feeling that is controversial, perhaps arguably just plain wrong, but i felt it, so that makes it real right?

and i wanted to share it out loud, because it's good for me, and it's good for anyone else out there who has struggled with similar thoughts.

this is a very vulnerable thing to express, so i hope you treat it with respect, kindness and gentleness above all.

let's begin...

we've wanted a second child for a while now, but we weren't really in a practical position to be able to have one. our house was "too small" - really, we could've fitted in there, but it wouldn't have been ideal or very relaxing - and more than that, we knew we wanted to get our 'forever home' so that we could set roots near schools we loved.

so we waited. we waited through all of the trauma of last year - and thank goodness really, because the emotions of that were so deep and difficult that fluctuating hormones on top of that would've been too much to bear.

we moved late January this year, and decided to start trying for a baby once we'd packed away the last boxes (which didn't take long).

somehow i'd got it stuck in my head that this pregnancy would take longer. the first was instantaneous, but i'd known so many people that had struggled with their second, and lots of people who are still struggling to conceive after years. it seemed too much to possibly conceive the notion that it could be just as simple once again. and so i got it fixed that it would take some time this time...

but of course it didn't. it was another instant pregnancy.

now, i know at this point i should've felt super happy that there was no struggle, i should've been feeling so extremely blessed that i didn't have to go through the hardship of miscarriage or time spent waiting. but i didn't right away. instead i felt tremendous shock.

shock that i would be blessed this way. shock that i was having another baby. a second baby. shock that our family would expand to four. shock at the fact that i would have another person to look after, all the time, forever. shock that i would be doing pregnancy all over again. a type 1 diabetic pregnancy nonetheless. what had i gotten myself into?

it's not unlike me to do things fast. i got engaged after 8 months of knowing Pete, and we only spent 11 weeks being engaged before we got married. i moved to Belgium at the end of my first trimester with my son... i'm used to doing things at a different pace. so why did this one rock me so much?

honestly, i think the hormones got the better of me. the exhaustion and the nausea of this pregnancy took me right out of the world of regular understanding. it had me at my absolute worst. i wasn't able to rationalise much, and it was also at my husband's busiest time of year at work, so i didn't have many people to confide in.

i remember calling my mum and crying down the phone saying literally 'i don't want this baby'. i even googled abortion laws. i didn't feel remotely capable or ready. i didn't feel like i had any support. it spoke only to another couple of friends about how i'd felt, and none of them knew what to say, and thankfully sidelined it and moved the conversation on.

it was just the hormones. it was often a bit of an outer body experience. exhuastion + hormones are a treacherous combination. it can make you think thoughts that are unlike your regular self.

so for me, i waited. i prayed. i waited. i waited for my body to regain its balance, and to stop feeling so tired all the time. i didn't listen to myself. i trusted in God rather than myself.

and it got better and i was able to think clearly, with my head and with my heart. once i passed week 16, i could focus. i could think about the positives a little bit more. and although i'm still apprehensive about being a parent to 2, i'm looking forward to it too.

i'm glad i didn't give in to those fears and feelings. i'm glad i knew somewhere inside me that it was a lie. i'm so very glad i waited.

it's terrifying when you feel like your hormones have the better of you. and it's even scarier when you genuinely believe the feelings to be real. when you believe so matter-of-factly. i guess it's what a lot of people describe when they experience postpartum depression? only mine happened when i was pregnant? i guess if i googled it, it would be a thing.

so, the only thing i wanted to say, was to say this out loud, because i felt so incredibly LONELY in my feelings. NOBODY understood. they all said 'it's great that you're pregnant', 'it's so amazing it happened so easily', and the few people i told looked shocked and had no words for me when i said 'i don't want this baby' and 'i can't do this'. i want more people to know that people feel this way, so that if someone says this to you, you can look at them knowingly rather than confusedly. you can say 'i once read a blog post about someone that felt the same as you'. and then ask them if they need practical support - maybe some food? maybe some time away from toddler? maybe some time to themselves? maybe they need help finding more sleep? because i reckon if i'd have taken a bit more time for myself, to rest, to reflect, i would've been better faster. but no-one saw me or knew how to help.

so i've now googled it and yes, depression in pregnancy is a thing. seek help. call your midwives or speak to someone. apparently it affects a good portion of us, but somehow i'd never heard of anyone else feeling like this. a bit blue maybe, but not to the extreme i was feeling.

anyhow, peace out. that's enough for now. i hope this has been helpful or informative, or both. and i'm sending a lot of love through my typewriter to you today xxxxx

Monday, 3 June 2019

cracking down on the monthly food bill

hey all, today's post is one of complete honesty and openness, and i'm even quite ashamed to admit what i'm going to tell you today. so here it is, let's cut to the chase, we spent on average this year £164 a week (a WEEK!!!) on food. that is a LOT. that's about 2-3 times as much as the average in this country. it actually makes me feel physically sick that i've been so wasteful.

firstly, i need to tell you why this has happened, and then secondly, i'll go into what i'm going to do about it.

why have we spent so much?

i think there's two main reasons for the excessive spend on food. firstly, i eat when i'm emotional and it's been an emotional year. secondly, i've been giving "special" foods to my son instead of making one large family meal (which has in turn lead to some fussy eating habits that i'm now going to need to spend some serious time and energy on undoing).

also, perhaps a side note, we've been shopping mostly at Sainsbury's which is not very cheap it would seem. but i like the fact that they deliver.

what are we going to do to lower the monthly food bill?

it's funny, it's most definitely not the first time i've got into a spending craze when it comes to groceries. back in 2013 i took part in the Big Budget Food Challenge, and then in 2018 i made a whole video about my family meal planning tips. i guess i need to take a page out of my own book and re-align myself with my values. i love to meal plan! why haven't i been doing it? i think because i just fell out of the habit for too long when we moved house, and it has taken a while for me to realise it would be good to get back into it!

and quite frankly, i think i need to simplify the meal planning system once more, taking a leaf from all the latest podcast episodes from Thriving in Motherhood. perhaps we need to say Tuesday is simply 'soup' night, etc, and then the whole procedure of planning is easier...

so maybe i'll try this to start and see where we go from there:

breakfasts - i know it's indulgent to have different breakfasts, but it's my favourite meal of the day! and without a happy start, i don't seem to keep going as happily:
  • monday - pancakes/waffles
  • tuesday - smoothie & toast
  • wednesday - porridge
  • thursday - bircher muesli
  • friday - fruit salad
  • saturday - breakfast cookies & smoothie
  • sunday - egg & soldiers

lunches - i now make packed lunches three times a week for my son, so this needs to be factored in to the budget:
  • monday - omelette
  • tuesday - lentil "sausage" roll (batch cooked and frozen)
  • wednesday - sandwiches
  • thursday - avocado toast
  • friday - tortellini/pasta
  • sunday - sunday roast or slow cooked meal

  • monday - soup night
  • tuesday - pasta 
  • wednesday - bean/lentil chilli
  • thursday - potatoes
  • friday - fish
  • sunday - leftovers

gosh, that feels SO good to have written that down! in addition to this, once i have successfully worked out that this format works well, i will also add in 2 or 3 homebaked/home-prepped treats, like muffins or bliss balls. but, i don't want to get too ahead of myself here.

i'm going to keep a record of all my food spending this month, and try to shop at Lidl instead when I can, as well as use up more of my tinned/packaged foods/frozen foods. i'm excited to see how much we can save, as well as how much healthier my son will chose to eat!

thanks for reading today! and pretty please let me know your favourite low budget family recipes in the comments below x

Friday, 3 May 2019

potty training : how we did it

hey all, today i want to share our potty training experience, because to be frank, there isn't enough of this talked about on the internet, or at least any stories where the training takes longer than a couple of days isn't talked about. so this is our very real story of how we accomplished toilet training!


the whole process started late october last year, so over 5 months ago. we bought our 32 month old boy all the "stuff", and we included him in the process of it, so he'd be excited about it. we bought multipacks of little boy pants with cars on, with dinosaurs on and with lions on. we bought far too many pairs probably, but i didn't want to have to wash all the time.

we also went to ikea to buy a toilet step and a toilet seat and a potty. all super cheap and pretty good (though my husband isn't so convinced on the shape and design of their potty, because it leaks through if you're a boy).

and i bought a couple of things off amazon, which have all turned out to be brilliant - some bambino mio washable training pants (UK/US), a very loud timer which he nicknamed 'the poo timer' (UK/US), the Pirate Pete Potty book (UK/US), and a car seat protector (UK/US similar). eventually we also bought a little foldable step too (UK/US) for ease of use when out and about (lifting a very heavy child whilst he is learning to wee is not easy!)

the whole process of purchasing took about 6 weeks, and in this time we were talking about everything, showing how mummy and daddy use the toilet. we also printed off a potty chart (this is the free one we used) and got a bunch of dot stickers (UK/US).

let's start

to begin, i brought the potty downstairs, put it on a plastic mat (UK/US), and then he got half naked and we asked him to sit on it. of course this did require some incentives - we would read the Pirate Pete book, play with the Bible for Kids app on my phone, or watch Chuggington on the iPad.

once he was happy to just sit on it, i explained again that now this is where the wee-wee goes and the poo-poo, and when you need to do one of those then you must do it in there.

i set the timer for 30 minutes and asked him to sit again, although he loved sitting so much he kept sitting anyway! he was really quick to learn to do his wees and poos in the potty, and it was only about 3 days before there were zero accidents around the house. though, in honesty we stayed so much in the room with the plastic mat to avoid ruining our carpets, so he was always really close by to the potty to remember what to do.

BUT there was a major flaw! although after 3 days he could happily use the potty half naked he couldn’t pull up his own pants or trousers yet! somehow in most of the potty training advice people don't usually tell you that it's important for them to be able to pull up their own pants.

so i decided to get a better book on potty training and wait for another few months. it was coming up to the busy Christmas season and we were moving house soon, and they say not to try and do potty training around big life events. the Gina Ford book i bought laid everything out so plainly and showed quite how to move to true toilet independence, which is what i was truly looking for - a great little book if you want to teach your child quickly (UK/US).

round two

so we started again in the long two-week Easter holidays in April, as he started preschool just after we moved house, so we had a limited choice of time, and i felt we'd both feel more confident if we chose a longer two-week option instead of a half-term single week. and i'm glad we did.

the second time round was easier to begin with because he remembered what the potty was for (for the most part), but he was super resistant to “big boy pants” for the first couple of days. but we persisted even when he cried for nappies instead.

we had one day off where we went out to a friends house, it was the third day and i didn’t feel like he was ready yet for a long journey in just pants - we hadn’t yet mastered “mummy i need a wee”, instead he’d just go when he needed because the potty was right there, so we did the whole trip in nappies. it's fine to have a day off if your life needs it. the Gina Ford book says not to resort to the 'easy' option, no nappies, no pull-up nappies either, but for one day his regular nappies was fine. we still haven't worn pull-ups because i agree that they're a confusing and 'easy' option for the child and will make the process longer.

on the 4th day i felt like we were going in a backwards direction, because he made more mistakes and the biggest ones too on that day. he had thought he needed a wee, gone to the bathroom to try, and upon nothing coming out had gone back to his task - but then two minutes later was at the bathroom door with wee all down his legs and a huge trail of wee behind him... he learnt a lot from that, though he was annoyed at the time. that was also the day he did a poo in his pants, which he was more upset about, but again, it only happened once (and thankfully was an easy one to clean).

he was dry for naps quite quickly though which we took as a good sign, after 4 days we even confidently left him in pants for naps. and so we continued on, making sure he had plenty of delicious drinks to keep the systems flowing and getting lots of stickers on his chart. even though it was April i made a lot of smoothie ice lollies, both as incentives and an aid to the process.

on the fifth day he woke with a dry nappy, and he stayed dry until he did the biggest wee on the potty just before breakfast. the rest of the day we had a couple of outings in the car, all dry, though not without worry from me. but i was feeling confident from the signs that morning - he had never held such a big wee for so long! and i felt confident with the car seat protector and the thicker Bambino Mio pants as an additional layer, and then of course a full change of clothes in the car boot, just in case.

we made sure that he knew where the toilets were in each place we went to, so he would know that it was available. and said “make sure to tell mummy or daddy when you need a wee-wee and we will take you”. but actually he didn’t ask, even though we made sure to remind him, but he didn’t wee whilst we were out. and then at the end of the day he did his first no. 2 in the potty all by himself, followed by a big wee he’d been saving up all afternoon. both my husband and i were so happy!

after that day i felt like we'd accomplished the majority of the task!

steps ahead

we had a whole other week of practice, which was sprinkled with only a couple of accidents - mostly where he had struggled to get his pants down in time, even though he had made it as far as the potty. pulling pants up and down is a bit of a tricky one to learn, and although we'd done some practice, it will still take even more time for him to get the hang of it entirely.

it wasn't until the middle of the second week that he felt more comfortable doing a number two on the potty, and then even into the third week until he was genuinely happy to do it regularly. because until the potty training, he had really found the whole process of pooing uncomfortable and embarrassing and had been taking himself off in private somewhere to stand and relieve himself with rather a great deal of effort. that's why we knew we needed to persevere with the potty training!

thankfully Easter fell at the time of his training, so we had little chocolate egg incentives to give him, which worked really well. and the sticker sheet was also one of his favourite things to do!

the next step very recently has been to practice using the step and seat instead of the potty, which is still favoured, but of course less readily available when we go out. and he's become so much better since daddy has been home this week to show him what to do on a regular basis.

we've taken the portable step with us on a few occasions just-in-case, and we've also purchased the Potette Plus (UK/US), which is a foldable toilet seat, so little bottoms can use toilets everywhere - we bought it when we had a last minute trip this last weekend and we knew we'd be away and we'd forgotten the potty. but it worked really well. you can also use it as a standalone with sanitary bags. hmm.

it's lovely to see him wearing proper pants instead of the bulky nappy, and i'm very happy for the savings in costs. it had been a long time since a cloth nappy was possible to use for us - they were all too small for him, and we loved our Bambo Nature ones (see my video on eco biodegradable nappies), but the price of any kind of nappy is very high in comparison with pants.

thankfully we have now done many long car journeys and outings and he's been totally dry, and he hasn't had issues since we've started back at preschool. so hopefully it will mostly be smooth sailing going forwards, and we can get him out of nappies overnight too soon!

i hope this has been a helpful blog post for you, please pin it in some way for future reference if you need to! and leave me a comment letting me know any other resources you found helpful, or any tips you'd not heard before.

otherwise, have a lovely day x