The magic of toddlers

At this time of year we’ve been hearing all about the magic of Christmas which is great. I love Christmas (and my birthday 3 days later) but it’s never been quite the same as when I was a child. It’s not had the magic it once held for me, which is fine because now instead of father Christmas and presents my priority is just being with those I love. But having a child has suddenly brought that magic back. Now Beatrice is older she gets it a bit more and I love seeing the amazement and excitement in her eyes. She still doesn’t fully understand it but the childlike innocence she has is amazing to watch and it begins to rub off on you again. Therefore I say the reason Christmas is magic is because of toddlers/ children.

Over this Christmastime filled with toddler magic we have learnt some new things that as a parent I wish I’d known before.

1) Just don’t bother with chocolate advent calendars, they won’t miss it if they’ve never had one before and it will save you a lot of tantrums as they don’t understand why you can’t eat it all at once.

2) They may learn new words as you go through the Christmas season which is wonderful. Beatrice learnt ‘star’ and they are now her favourite thing.

3) Toddlers don’t care if it’s the most delicious meal they will ever come across they will probably still tantrum and refuse to eat a Christmas dinner so save your stress and give them pasta.

4) At this young age of 18 months Beatrice actually slept longer than anyone else on Christmas morning and we were all waiting for her to open stockings. I know in years to come I’ll wish she still did this but we were so excited to see her open her stocking.

5) Christmas day will be planned around your toddlers naps. No present opening is worth a grouchy, tired toddler, it’s better too wait.

6) You will never be able to open a present without your toddlers help. They don’t understand that it isn’t for them.

7) And finally if you hear Beatrice say ‘ready, steady, go ‘ and you can’t see her run as fast as you can to find her as she will be flinging herself backwards or forwards and expecting someone to catch her.

We hope your Christmas was as magical as ours and a Happy New Year!

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Grief

Grief has been a very private thing for me. I don’t want to make people feel awkward or uncomfortable so I keep it inside. The only problem then is people assume I’m okay when I’m not and to the world I look like I’m carrying on fine. And until recently I’d actually been managing to keep up with the world but then as grief does it came crashing back over me in a wave.

The smallest things set me off like seeing my friends baby bumps (they’re due when I would have been) or hearing about my pregnant friends being kept awake by baby kicks. Now don’t get me wrong I’m so happy for my friends and I don’t want them to have to sensor themselves when around me and I know being kept up by a kicking baby when you’re tired and have a toddler is exhausting; but it also kills me to think I would have been feeling my baby kicking by now and I would do anything to be kept up by that.

It’s the small mundane and at the time annoying things that hit me hardest. All the things I’ll never get to experience with them. This poem sums it up.

‘I will never’ – Clark-Coates/Fosberry

I will never get to hold your hand through a storm

I will never get to wipe your sticky fingers

I will never get to teach you to tie your shoelaces

I will never get to know who your best friend would have been

I will never get to see you fall in love

I will never get to hear you tell me ‘I am going to be a grandparent ‘

But always know…..

I will never be too proud to ask for help

I will never be too scared to say this hurts

I will never be too frightened to declare you matter

And I will never forget you

I will never stop saying your name

I will never stop loving you

I will never stop remembering the sound of this bell, rung in memory of you.

Life on fast forward

I don’t know about anyone else but 2017 seems to have gone by in a blur. And particularly since our miscarriage everything seems to have sped up again. At a time when my world stopped everything around me seemed to go at warp speed. Never before have I been torn between wanting to wallow in my grief yet also keep up with the world around me.

I’ve been kept busy by my 18 month old which has been a blessing mostly. She’s been teething and poorly so is glued to me (the bonus to this is a lot of Disney movie cuddles). During this time our extension on our house began. We had a conservatory that leaked and was freezing so it’s almost now a proper building.

Along with our extension comes the joy of our kitchen and living room being knocked into it to make one big open plan kitchen diner. While this is all very exciting that it is moving so fast it does mean a few weeks of no kitchen, no washing machine, no living room and no Beatrice and I at home during the day. Thank God for our amazing friends who we will be house hopping between and hopefully we won’t outstay our welcome. At least the constant company and play mates for Beatrice will make days easier and more fun. And I’m really hoping that during this inconvenient time for us that time will continue at the fast pace it has been. Roll on Christmas, family time, fun with friends and a new kitchen and living space. Wish us luck!

Why date nights matter!

Date nights are an important part of keeping a relationship fresh and fulfilling. They allow you to dress up, do something different and enjoy each others company. In an ideal world we would have at least one a month but we’re lucky if we manage 4 or 5 a year. We look to but life takes over or we just don’t have the inspiration or motivation to get it organised. The main organisation part is finding a babysitter for our one year old. So this week we got our act together!

We hadn’t had a date night since before we lost our baby about a month ago and sorely needed one to get back to us. So I got myself sorted and got one of our amazing friends to babysit. I then got to planning what we would do.

I’d met a friend during the week for a swim with my little one and upon entering the retail park noted the bowling alley, laser quest, trampoline park and Nando’s. No we didn’t do all those in one night. I decided we’d go trampolining and have Nando’s after.

So it came to our date night and we arrived at the trampoline park, had our video briefing and got in there. We were the oldest people in there (I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or proud) and definitely had no skill when it came to jumping. I felt slightly inadequate next to these 10 and 11 year olds. They were doing flips all over the place. They have all sorts in there. Trampoline dodgeball, basketball slam dunking, speed chasing games on the wall, an assault course, foam pit and air filled crash pillow. We tried everything and only 8 minutes into our session we were pooped; out of breath, sweating and thinking how an earth has our session still got so long left?! Don’t get me wrong we were having a great time but when you’re knackered and you don’t want to waste your trampoline time/ look unfit by sitting and resting the clock seemed to tick by very slowly.

Another issue I encountered is really a female only one. Now as a woman who has had a baby (although via section) I assumed that my pelvic floors were in pretty good nick. Especially as I keep up on my exercises. Well trampolining has shown me I still have work to do. Not every single jump but ones where I put in extra effort to go high I’m pretty certain I peed a little each time (I’m sorry for the tmi but I feel I need to warn any ladies out there).

Therefore what I have learnt from this date night experience is that I’m old(ish), not overly fit, and need to do some pelvic floor exercises. Luckily they had showers and changing rooms so we could become presentable for the rest of our evening. And although we ended up in Frankie and Benny’s and not Nando’s (too long a queue) we had a great time. We were able to forget about everyday life, have fun laughing at each other and being silly and bring ourselves closer together ready for the weeks ahead.

Maybe next time we’ll go for laser quest. You wouldn’t want to just go for the ordinary meal or movie out.

Keeping afloat

Since we lost our baby I probably look okay on the surface as I’m not crying or moping, but underneath I’m paddling like crazy to keep afloat. I’m keeping myself so busy that I don’t have time to think. I’m mostly busy because I have a 17 month old but also I can’t stand to be in the house for too long. And being busy is great at the minute but I know that any second anything could cause me to crumble and when it does all my emotions that have been pushed to the back of my mind will surface. Yet I’m lucky enough to have amazing friends and family.

It’s also pregnancy and infant loss awareness month and I’ve felt lucky to have this so close to my own loss. It’s given me hope to know I can speak out and not have my baby forgotten. It’s also led me to some amazing support groups. But even with all of this I still beat myself up about what I did that harmed my baby and what I could have changed. I know it wasn’t my fault and I want to share this snippet from my support book that I needed to hear tonight.

This book has been a lifeline to me. You may find it helpful for yourself, a friend or family member. It’s saying goodbye – Zoe Clark-Coates. Read it.

Also I can completely recommend getting a dog. We’ve borrowed one to test how our daughter gets along with one before we buy one. It’s going great. I’m happier then ever. Loving the dog walking and cuddles and also loving watching my daughter have such fun with him. Definitely do it. Animal therapy works!