24 April 2015

GUEST POST: 8 Things I Didn't Expect About Life with a Baby

While I'm on my quasi-maternity leave from the blog, a number of my favourite bloggers are taking the helm. Here's Caitlin writing on a topic very close to my heart...!

Hi all! My name is Caitlin and I blog in two places, on my personal blog and on my mom blog. I haven't written a guest post in years, so what better time to try again than during Sarah's maternity leave?

For some background: I live in Vermont, the U.S., with my husband Rob, our baby and dog. Our daughter is 7 months old and so far her infancy has challenged and delighted us in ways we never could have known. Adding her to the family has enriched our lives so much, but it's also been the biggest adjustment we've ever gone through together or apart (and my husband is a combat veteran, so this is saying something).

I thought that since Sarah is about to experience the incredible rush of feelings and contradictions and love that comes with a baby I'd share some of the things that I didn't expect about life with one.

 photo Maternity9_zpsty5ckuuc.jpg

1. How uneven the balance of work would be. My husband, Rob, and I have always operated our marriage outside of most gender norms. Rob does the cooking and the lion's share of the cleaning, I have been the breadwinner for several years (and still am). Before we had our daughter, we talked about how we wanted the responsibilities to be split and like most people who don't have kids yet, we genuinely believed that the way forward would be somewhat predictable. The baby completely undid all of that. From the day she was born, I was her primary parent and 7 months later it is by far still the case. That isn't to say my husband isn't a devoted father or that he does nothing--he still cooks, cleans, and takes care of our dog--but the bulk of the baby care has always just sort of defaulted to me. I'm sure this is partly because she is breastfed and short of some kind of medical miracle, my husband will never be able to lactate. But I have mom friends who have bottle fed from the beginning and by and large our experience is the rule rather than the exception. Honestly it's something I would like to investigate further--is it because boys typically are exposed to fewer babies as kids? Is it because I'm just more likely to run and grab her when she starts crying? Is it just because there's no one quite like mom and the baby just prefers me? Whatever it is, it's taken a bit of getting used to for all of us.

2. How much better my singing voice would get. I don't consider myself a talented singer by any stretch, but I have noticed an improvement in my singing since our daughter was born. This is an obvious consequence of having a very colicky baby who is only soothed by music and dancing. My daughter's favorite songs currently are "All About that Bass," "Shake it Off," and "Over and Over" (by the Dave Clark Five). Those are all sung around our house all day, every day and they never get old.

3. How protective I'd feel. Before I had a baby, I never understood why more mothers didn't put their children in daycare for at least a few days a week to get a break. When I was holding my own 6 pound screaming bundle of pink joy in my arms, though, all I could think about was the many ways in which some other person other than me could hurt them. Your mind goes to some dark places with babies. Disclaimer: I have no problem with daycares or the people that run them--this was just to illustrate how irrational my baby made me.

4. How much I'd miss mundane tasks. The advice you constantly hear with a new baby is "sleep when the baby sleeps" which drove me totally bananas. The advice I give new moms, since I figure they hear "sleep when the baby sleeps" every other second of the day, is to find time to do a chore or two. For me, folding laundry or vacuuming offers a chance to do something predictable, something I feel confident doing and something that doesn't scream at me. Plus watching the laundry and dog hair and dust pile up around you can be a little soul-crushing.

5. The bond with other parents. We hear a lot about the mommy wars nowadays and while they are a real thing, my experience has been that parents are far more likely to help you than to judge you. I was breastfeeding my daughter at a hockey game and instead of glares, people with their own tiny children were offering to help me balance all the crap I had to carry with my still-very-new baby. Other parents who I haven't spoken to in years came out of the woodwork to offer much-needed support during my daughter's colic when I felt worthless and frustrated and exhausted.

6. How much crap a baby needs. Seriously, a weekend trip requires an entire carload of stuff. Even going to the grocery store is somehow a production, especially in the winter.

7. How something can be hard and also incredibly boring. I work from home so I'm with the baby all day during the summers when my husband works. I didn't really expect how difficult and yet incredibly monotonous it could be to spend my day with a baby. Especially in her colic days, outside of work my entire day centered around keeping her from crying and usually failing in doing so.

8. The depth of my love. You knew this one was coming--what post about parenting would be complete without a whole bunch of mush? I won't speak for anyone else, parent or non-parent, but the love I felt for my child the second she was placed on my chest is unlike any other love I've experienced or could have anticipated. I could spend all day breathing her in, staring at the veins that form a heart on her head, kissing her impossibly rosy cheeks. Though her infancy has had its difficulties, I feel so incredibly fortunate to be her mother and to have the experience of raising her.

Sarah, I am so excited for you to experience the magic, the difficulty, the complete awe of motherhood. Best of luck in these first few weeks!

20 April 2015

GUEST POST: Multi-Cat Household Advice

Some awesome bloggers are taking over Sarah Rooftops while I'm off on maternity leave. Today, here's Little Bones writing about how to help multiple cats live harmoniously together (now I just need to help Polly live harmoniously with a baby...!).

The moment I knew for sure that I was moving out of my parents’ house, I started making plans to get a cat. I’d wanted one for years, but my mum, dad and sister are all dog people. In fact their intense (and quite frankly worrying) hatred of cats made it impossible to even bring the topic up for discussion.

Luckily my two new housemates - good friends who I’d known since high school - were much more amenable to the idea, and so I got in touch with someone online who was looking to rehome a litter of kittens. We arranged a visit, and I knew I wanted Tetris the second I saw her. In a surprising turn of events, one of my housemates also fell in love with a kitten - Sam - and we eventually brought both of them home.

Tetris (black cat)

For a while, everything was lovely. The kittens spent hours every day playing together and it was adorable and hilarious to watch. Then after a few months, Mr Bones and I decided to move in together. Obviously, this meant Tetris would be coming with me while Sam stayed behind. So Tetris wouldn’t be lonely without her brother, Mr Bones and I looked into getting another kitten, and a short while later Louis came to live with us. 

That’s where the problems started. This time the interaction between the two cats was neither adorable nor hilarious. There was hissing. There was growling. There was blood, both human and feline. I was completely thrown - never for a moment had I thought that Tetris wouldn’t get on with another cat. I spent the first few days after Louis arrived in an almost constant state of hysteria, frightened for the safety of every member of our household.

Thankfully, within a week or so things calmed down, and now both cats are generally tolerant of each other. Looking back, though, I can see that Mr Bones and I made a lot of mistakes which went a long way towards making the cats’ initial meeting less than pleasant. But instead of regretting the past, I’m using this wonderful opportunity from Sarah to provide advice on how to make your home suitable for more than one cat. Here are five things I wish I’d known...

1. If you want more than one kitten, try to get them from the same litter.

The main reason that Tetris got on with Sam better than she gets on with Louis is simply that she and Sam are related. Cats have an incredible sense of smell, and they’re much more likely to bond with a cat that has a similar scent. If you’re thinking of adopting two or more kittens, you’ll fare much better if you get them at the same time, from the same litter. Not only will they already be used to each other, but a familiar face will help them to adjust much more quickly to a new home.

2. Introduce cats to each other slowly.

If you’re bringing a new cat into a house that already has one, just throwing them in together and hoping for the best is asking for disaster. Just like humans, cats find the adjustment to living with a stranger stressful, and it’s much easier on them if the process is a slow one. If you can, leave an old item of clothing with the breeder or cat home a few weeks before adoption. Ask them to put it in your new cat’s sleeping area for a few days, then bring it home and leave it around for your existing cat to sniff. This way they’ll be used to the scent of their new housemate before they ever clap eyes on them. It’s also a good idea to invest in a stress-reducing pheromone diffuser like Feliway a few weeks before the move.

Once you do bring your new kitty home, it’s advisable to start them off in separate rooms and increase their interactions gradually over a few days until you’re sure they’re calm around each other. Some cats are quicker to adapt than others, but hopefully taking baby steps will help to assure even the diva-est of cats that nothing bad is happening. 

3. Make sure they’re not competing for resources.

Cat food bowls

Cats are not pack animals, and they’ve evolved to collect their own private supply of food and water. If your existing cat feels like you’ve brought in a competitor, they’re immediately going to go on the defensive. Make sure that each cat has their own food bowl, water and litterbox, as far away from each other as possible (putting them on separate floors of the house is ideal if you have them). It’s also sensible to set up a variety of sleeping areas like baskets, blankets and cushions, so that each cat can claim their own territory and have a place to seclude themselves. 

4. Allow a little favouritism.

As much as they’re stereotyped to be independent and aloof, cats are actually hugely affectionate and loyal, and most will think humans are awesome unless experience tells them otherwise. Often a cat will attach themselves to a particular person and spend most of their time with them. Because Mr Bones and I didn’t live together when I got Tetris, she grew up thinking of me as ‘her’ human, and to this day I’m the one she follows around. As a result, when we brought Louis home Tetris became incredibly possessive and would attack him every time he so much as looked in my direction. Understandably, Louis started to gravitate towards Mr Bones. I was upset about this at first, but it’s just another part of cats’ territorial nature. If your existing cat loves being around you, expect a new cat to favour another person in the house. And while you should absolutely show your cats an equal amount of love, try to accept the fact that they might not do the same. Because as tempting as it might be to keep both cats all to yourself, sharing you is going to be difficult for them.

5. Be prepared for the occasional scrap.

Hard as you might try to ensure your cats live in a harmonious environment, the fact remains that they’re sometimes going to fight. Anything can start them off - a loud noise, a stray outside the window, a visit to the vet - and even though it’s upsetting to watch, most of the time you’ve just got to let them have it out. The vast majority of cats won’t intentionally cause serious damage to each other (especially if one of them is a kitten), and most altercations are either a form of play or some ear-boxing to assert dominance. If it’s getting particularly nasty, by all means intervene with a blanket or a spritz of water, but most scuffles will fizzle out by themselves.

Cat toys

Of course, I’m not saying that this advice will work for all cats, and if you find yourself dealing with miserable mogs who tear into each other several times a day, it might be time to rethink your living situation. But I’ve found these tips to be massively useful, and I reckon if you follow them, your chances of maintaining a healthy, happy multi-cat household are pretty high.

Little Bones is the pen name of a crazy cat lady who lives in Cardiff with her husband. She writes about beauty and lifestyle over at The Little Bones Blog. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

17 April 2015

GUEST POST: How to Get More Real Mail Through Your Letterbox

While I take my "maternity leave" (no, I've not had the baby yet), some of my favourite bloggers will be taking the reins here at Sarah Rooftops. 

First up is Janet from Words That Can Only Be Your Own, writing about how to get something more exciting than Iceland offers through your door.

Janet's desk: writing postcards

I've always loved both sending and receiving mail but in this day and age, it's become depressingly common for the daily post delivery to include little more than marketing flyers for pizza delivery places, perhaps with a bill or two mixed in. So, a couple of years ago, I made the decision to ensure that, at least once a week, I had something exciting arriving in the mail. And this is how I did it...

Take part in a swap

There are tons of swaps going on at any one time, some focused on a particular subject or theme and some more general. There are so many out there in blogland that I couldn't possibly name them all, but a few I've taken part in and enjoyed include Char's regular gift swaps, Gemma's Blogger's Snail Mail project, and Hannah's craft swaps.

Don't see a swap that appeals? Start your own! I've now run three thrifty Christmas swaps plus a postal clothes swap, and I'm always pleasantly surprised by how simple they are to get organised. Plus you get the satisfaction of knowing that something you've put together has brought cheer to letterboxes up and down the country.

Start a mixtape club

Or, to be more accurate, a mix CD club. You can run a CD club with any number of participants, but 12 makes the organisation simpler: each month of the year is allocated to a member and when your turn comes around, you put together a mix CD, make eleven copies, and post them out. The club I'm a member of is run through a private Facebook group, which makes exchanging reviews of each other's CDs, picking up addresses, etc, really easy.

In the year-and-a-bit I've been a member, I've had mix CDs on themes as diverese as Nordic music, one hit wonders, music by bands containing couples, songs about books and reading... the list goes on. If you like music and can muster a like-minded group, give it a go.

Subscribe to your favourite magazine(s)

Subscription is an ace way to support small, independent publications especially, with a much larger proportion of subscription money making its way directly to the publisher than when you buy a magazine instore. I subscribe to US feminist mags Bust and Bitch as well as Oh Comely from the UK, giving me the excitement of each new issue landing on my doormat, often a few days before it's released into the shops.


I joined #PostCircle a little over a year ago and it's brought innumerable joys to my life and my letterbox. Essentially a penpal project, with over 400 members worldwide, when you join you're allocated to a group with whom you then exchange letters, cards... anything you wish. My 'Circle', Monkjack, has three active members and I absolutely love receiving my small parcels from Gill and Debbie filled with exciting bits and pieces and long, chatty letters full of their lives. #PostCircle is a great way to meet people who you would otherwise never cross paths with

Surprise a friend

I'm a big fan of using snail mail to keep in touch with friends both near and far. Whether it's a well-chosen postcard to your bestie down the road, or a small care package to a far-away mate you haven't seen for months, surprising your friends is a great way to brighten their day and be almost guaranteed a little something in return.

Box subscription services

If you feel like treating yourself, why not sign up to one of the many postal subscription services now available? From beauty boxes like industry leader Birchbox, to foodie ones such as the Vegan Tuck Box, to bookish delights from the Willoughby Book Club or Bookishly, there really is something for everyone. Personally, I'm rather tempted by London illustrator Ella Masters' new Big Pop Club, which is one for lovers of tattoo design and hand-drawn art.

15 April 2015

What I've Been Reading Recently

A Robot In The Garden by Deborah Install
UK Publication Date: 23rd April
c/o Random House/Transworld (via Netgalley)
When Ben finds a leaky, battered old robot in his garden, his wife wants him to throw it away. But, as Ben gets to know Tang, the charmingly childlike robot, they become firmly attached to one another. Before long, they set off on a round the world adventure to find someone able to repair Tang - and perhaps somebody who can repair Ben, too. Perhaps it was my hormones talking, but I really enjoyed this book and was surprised by how deeply I came to care for Tang, too.

If We Lived Here by Lindsey J. Palmer
c/o Kensington Books (via Netgalley)
After three years of dating, Emma and Nick have decided to take the plunge and move in together - but house hunting in New York proves easier said than done, especially given that they're also facing their friends' extravagant wedding, a looming storm and their mutual reluctance to talk honestly about their feelings. This initially seemed like it was going to be chick-lit-by-numbers but it turned out to be smarter and more sympathetic than I was expecting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
UK Publication Date: 23rd April
c/o Curtis Brown
A big, chunky historical romance - this is not the kind of book I would normally buy. Which is a shame because I spent a good week getting totally absorbed in it. In modern day London, Jess finds a letter from an elderly American man, Dan, who is trying to contact Stella, the British woman he fell in love with during World War II. The novel cuts back and forth between Dan and Stella's wartime romance and Jess and new friend, Will's, attempts to track Stella down (whilst dealing with some demons of their own). Full of period nostalgia, dramatic twists and enormous emotions, this is the perfect book for wet, windy weeks when you just want to curl up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea and some cake.

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan
Note: This has been out in the UK for about a year but will be published in the US next month.
c/o St Martin's Press via Netgalley
Four women and one man are taking part in a baking competition, vying to become the new face of Eaden's supermarkets. Despite the token bloke, this is a novel about women's lives and, in particular, about motherhood - the heartbreak of miscarriage and fertility issues; the (sometimes) loneliness of stay at home mums; the (potential) wrench of grown up children leaving home; and love for one's offspring. Written in a simple "women's fiction" style but with a little bit more going on than your average chick lit. It gave me such a craving for cake.

Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy
UK Publication Date: 23rd April
c/o Simon and Schuster via Netgalley
Fifteen year old Darren's parents have not long separated when his dad announces that he's gay. Whilst trying (and largely failing) to get his head around this, Darren also has to contend with a huge crush on a bad girl and his big brother's increasingly erratic behaviour. Written as a series of lists, I expected the gimmicky style to grate pretty quickly but was surprised to find that it worked really well. Aimed at young adults, I did find some of the emotions a bit simplistic and the ending pretty abrupt, but I know I would have loved this in my early teens.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
A tiny book following the enormous story of an everyday relationship. A couple meet, fall in love, have a baby, grow both together and apart. So beautifully written - sparse, almost like poetry. Loved it.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
First published in 1899, this is the story of a wife and mother in America's South who begins to question her very ordinary life choices. Might she have found passion with another man or had a chance of a career if it weren't for motherhood? The story itself is not unusual nowadays and felt like it was meandering along a bit, but I liked the mellow, dreamy writing style which had a feel of lazy summer to it. There's something lovely about reading early books about women seeking a better place in the world, too.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
As with so many of the books I bung on my Kindle, by the time I got around to reading this I had completely forgotten what it was about. At first, it seemed like it was going to be a story about two sisters running off to Hollywood in the 1940s to try to make their fortune - that sounded like something I would have bought but the pacing was all wrong for that story and I felt a little disappointed. But then: oh! Hollywood homophobia! oh! Wartime paranoia! oh! A load of other things I can't list here without giving too much away. So many stories of people changing their identities - or having their identities changed for them. It turned out to be a powerful read.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
I zipped through this in a couple of hours. Deceptively simple YA fiction about a boy growing up in the ruthless Motherland and realising that he might have a role to play in improving the lives of those around him. I can't say much more without giving the entire plot away but it's a smart book for anyone enjoys the odd conspiracy theory...

*Affiliate links are used throughout

14 April 2015

The Rooftops Baby Estimated Due Date: How Am I Today?

Today is my/the baby's estimated due date. I know this because it says so in my calendar and my maternity notes but I've tried not to focus on this one specific day and, for the most part, I've succeeded.

They're called estimated due dates for a reason. Only 5% of babies arrive on their due date and the majority of first babies come later. If it arrives of its own accord within the next two weeks, it's still within the normal, healthy delivery window; I don't want to spend those two weeks getting myself worked up by referring to the baby as "late".

I seem to be in the minority with this view, though. The number of "Hey... how are you today...?" messages I'm getting suggests that a lot of the people in my life are viewing this as some sort of deadline. So, okay: let's give it a little significance.

How am I today?

I'm doing great.

I know I'm supposed to be at the end of my tether by now. I know I'm supposed to be mainlining red leaf tea and eating so much pineapple my teeth fall out. I suspect if I'd worked right up until my maternity leave started, perhaps I would be - I would be much more focused on the end being in sight; I would be much more aware of not wanting to waste my precious time off work.

But, for the most part, I'm not.

There are bad days. There are days when the baby moves itself onto some vital part of my internal plumbing and I feel so uncomfortable that I want to call the hospital in tears and demand that they remove it. Those days are the exception, though; they're maybe one in ten.

And there are moments - mostly in the evening, when Steve's home and we're feeling the kicks together - when I feel this desperate, overwhelming need to hold the baby now.

But, over all, I'm calm.

Partly this is because I still don't really believe it's going to happen. My body, suddenly going through all of that physical drama and producing a baby at the end? Preposterous. Ludicrous. Totally implausible. I mean, sure, Steve and I are going to have a child pretty soon but it's coming one of the old fashioned ways: stork or cabbage patch. It's in transit right now. I'm waiting for the doorbell.

Partly it's because I've been pregnant so long that I've accepted this as my default state. I'm someone who waddles around and has trouble getting out of bed and eats a lot of ice cream. I forget that this isn't forever.

But mostly it's because I'm actually enjoying these last few days or weeks. I may not be comfortable but I'm very aware that, once the baby's here, I will never again be pregnant with this particular child (I may never again be pregnant at all but that's too big a question for today). I'm taking the time to sit and feel the baby's squirms and rolls and stretches; I'm feeling it moving itself into position. This child has strong movements and rarely rests - I could let myself focus on how bruised my belly feels but I'm choosing not to; I'm choosing to focus on this secret, super-connected time we have. It's special. It's fleeting. (I love this secret hitch hiker analogy from The Headless Mannequin)

And I'm enjoying these last excited moments, holding Steve's hand and grinning at each other. With this pregnancy, we both found ourselves reining in our emotions - I didn't properly relax until the twenty week scan, until I knew for certain that all those movements I was feeling were kicks not wind; Steve seemed to take longer. But now there's no holding it back.

It's funny - there's so little company I can take at the moment. A couple of hours and a cup of tea with a friend is lovely but, for the most part, I want to be on my own. I want quiet. I want to breathe through the discomfort without feeling self-conscious; I want to move from chair to yoga ball to bed and back at my own pace. I don't feel the need to have anyone on hand. Except Steve. I want Steve here all the time; I feel impatient towards the end of the day, waiting for him to appear. I want him around sharing it all with me.

There may be one more hour of this; there may be two more weeks. Two weeks, compared to the whole pregnancy, is nothing. I don't want to waste them on drumming my fingers; I want to appreciate the moment.

So how am I today?

Today, I'm doing great.

See Also: My 20 week, 30 week and full term FAQs.

12 April 2015

Extra: Ordinary Moments

Sarah Rooftops Mirror Selfie at 38 Weeks Pregnant

Two days away from my estimated due date. I've been saying for weeks that I wanted the baby to arrive on the 9th (first official day of maternity leave; finally being at a stage when going into labour wouldn't mean Steve cancelling any semi-important plans) but apparently childbirth is not that easily scheduled.

Black cat (Gizmo) reading a wardrobe assembly instruction manual

Anyway, the past fortnight has been largely about preparation. The baby's bedroom has been decorated (Dulux "Daffodil White"), the wardrobe has been assembled (thanks to our pal Bruce and also to Gizmo), and I've spent a lot of time pootling around, sorting out baby clothes and blankets and finding homes for the boring, ugly, practical things (one good reason to move onto garishly printed cloth nappies, I think...).

Cat nightlight from Vertbaudet

Incidentally, how cute is this nightlight (bought from Vertbaudet)? We don't have a lot of just-for-fun things (yet) (and I'm very fussy about them) (so please don't gift us any "inspirational" prints) (I mean, thanks for the thought and all, but NO) (in a world where dinosaur toys and chocolates exist, there's just no need) so I'm extra smitten with this one.

Other than that, I've mostly been bouncing on my yoga ball, trying to move things along.

Steve, meanwhile, drove a car for the first time in about a decade this week. I had to give up my driving lessons when my hips got bad but we thought one of us should feel able to get behind the wheel in an emergency; my instructor (a friend of ours) was happy to transfer the three hours I had already paid for over to Steve and give him a quick refresher. It wasn't exactly his favourite experience of the year but he was surprised by how much he remembered.

For more photos from my life visit Two Days the Same and/or my Instagram.

07 April 2015

Blogging About Babies When You Know How Lucky You Are

Not long after my miscarriage, McDonald's started running an advert which featured a man traipsing around town at night, trying to find gherkins for his heavily pregnant partner. And it made me angry.

It made me so angry.

It also made me cry. After the second time I saw it, I would pointedly leave the room when it came on the TV. It felt to me like they were flaunting pregnancy, taunting me with what could have been if I'd (somehow) kept my baby alive. I knew Steve would have been amazing throughout my pregnancy and it broke my heart that he wasn't getting that chance.

But mostly there was rage. I couldn't believe that they were allowed to run an advert so likely to upset grieving couples. I couldn't believe the advertising firm could be so insensitive. I couldn't believe there wasn't some sort of law, that I couldn't email Advertising Standards and have the advert banned. It was bad enough that adverts were allowed to show happy families and smiling babies but pregnancy? That was a step too far.

Even at the time, I knew this was irrational. I knew it was a clever advert and I knew that the anger I was feeling was a reflection of my own overwhelming grief, not of the advertisers' lack of taste.

But it made me very aware of how easily people can be upset by somebody else's good fortune.

When we got our good news this time around, it made both Steve and me very cautious about how and when and whether to tell people. Neither of us has ever made a Facebook announcement or uploaded our scan photos. We told very few people before seventeen weeks (my randomly chosen "fairly safe" point). When I first blogged about the pregnancy, it was as a happy ending to a devastating story, in part because I didn't want anyone to think I was waving my happiness in their face and crowing, "Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh!"

So many people in our lives have been through or are currently facing miscarriage and/or fertility issues and we didn't want to cause unnecessary levels of upset.

Early in my pregnancy, I decided that I was only going to blog about it once a week. It seemed like a good compromise - it was regular enough that I was documenting the experience but not so frequent that it was all I ever talked about. And that was fine. By and large, I've stuck to that. But, being signed off work, doing nothing but washing baby clothes and waiting to go into labour, I've found it increasingly difficult to think of anything else to write about.

Not that I feel that I have to blog X amount of times a week but I would like, if a potential new reader scrolls through my feed, for them to see something other than baby talk. As though I can trick them into following me, quickly, before they realise the truth.

And the truth is: this is my life right now. I'm 39 weeks pregnant. I'm about to have a child. For a long time, that child will be entirely dependant on Steve and me and will take up a lot of our attention and our free time and our conversations. This is too huge a thing not to write about. This will be my focus for the foreseeable future. My blog is undeniably going to reflect that.

And I wouldn't want it not to.

But I've found that hard to accept. I don't want to be the insensitive person going on and on about my baby when it's causing somebody pain.

On the other hand, I don't want to have to preface every parenting blog post with: "Click here to find out about that time I had bad luck, too. See? See! I'm not taking this for granted!"

And perhaps it's patronising to think that people might want me to.

Even at my unhappiest, I didn't resent other bloggers writing about their children. I remember, only a couple of weeks after the miscarriage, reading a post by a pregnant blogger in which she agonised about whether or not to post about her baby - it was a huge change of topic for her and she was scared of alienating regular readers. And I felt so sad for her, feeling that she couldn't or shouldn't write about the biggest thing which had ever happened to her for fear of what others might think.

At the same time, I didn't read any of her pregnancy or parenting posts. I did remove a lot of parent bloggers from my feed. I would skim read post titles and hurriedly mark anything obviously baby-related as read. I didn't think she owed it to her readers to cut the parenting posts but I also didn't think her readers owed her the courtesy of reading them.

And I don't think any of you owe me that courtesy, either. If you're not interested in babies, I get it. If you find parenting posts too painful to read, I get it. If you need to unfollow me or you prefer to skip the baby stuff, I totally get that.

I am sorry if I cause anyone pain.

But I don't want to feel sorry that I'm happy and I don't want to feel sorry for recording this part of my life. It's taken me a while to get past my feelings of guilt for that, but this is where I find myself.

And I wanted to write it all down in one big, awkward blog post so that it's out there, so that I've made my weird justifications once, thoroughly, so that I can stop feeling the need to reference past grief every time I want to write about the current and future good - because there comes a point when repeatedly holding up my one awful experience as some sort of proof that I care stops being sensitive and starts to feel lacking in taste.

05 April 2015

Spring Mornings

I became a morning person by accident.

I used to have an hour's commute to a job which started at 8am; when I switched to a job a three minute walk away which started at 9am, I made a conscious decision not to change the time at which I got up.

It was lovely - suddenly I wasn't jolting out of bed at seven and rushing around, trying to get ready; suddenly I was making the choice to rise early, take my time preparing and spend the extra forty-odd minutes having a cup of tea and reading a book. When I left the house, I felt relaxed instead of harried.

Four or five years on, I'm still an early riser. At the moment, more than ever.

Black cat (Gizmo) basking in the sunshine

This is a beautiful morning.

Out the window, first thing, I could see a ribbon of mist running between the houses, marking the course of the river. There is sunlight and the grass and the flowers and the trees are all glistening with dew. The sky is perfectly blue. There isn't a single person to be seen.

I am itching to get out there. I can hardly wait to be fully mobile again. I'm sitting here imagining pulling my boots on and going for a walk along the riverbank or around the parks. I'm thinking about next year, when I can bundle the baby up in warm clothes and head outdoors, early, to look at the birds and the flowers and let Steve (the anti-morning person) have a nice lie in.

I'm remembering Easter holidays when I was little, visiting my grandparents in Helensburgh. They had an enormous garden filled with crocuses and pussy willows and squirrels and stripy stones they had gathered from beaches all over the world and I remember my sister and me running around and around out there, first thing, our feet getting wet with dew, while our grandmother watched us from the sun room and the rest of the family slept.

But for today, this year, I'm sitting in the bay window in the living room. Gizmo is dozing in a patch of sunlight beside me; Polly is fighting sleep as she sits on the windowsill and supervises the sparrows; the usually hyper baby is rolling around calmly beneath my belly button.

This will do. For this year, this will do.

02 April 2015

Some Things Which Have Scared Gizmo Recently

Our boy cat, Gizmo, is an enormous beast. Weighing in at a stone, he's not heavy for his size - he's just huge.

Big black cat (Gizmo) sleeping

He's also adorable. Even people who don't like cats like Gizmo. There's something irresistable about a cat roughly the size of a bear squeaking like a kitten, purring in his sleep and chasing his own gigantic tail.

But Gizmo is also a bit of a coward. Rarely a day goes by when that enormous tail doesn't puff up in terror at... apparently nothing.

Here are some of the things which have had Gizmo fleeing for safety over the past couple of weeks:
  1. The gurgling noise when water goes down the shower drain.
  2. His own reflection in a glass door.
  3. The realisation that humans sit above a hole whilst doing the toilet.
  4. The doorbell. Every time.
  5. A dark mark on the wall.
  6. Tin foil.
  7. Polly chasing him after he had meowed at her to do so.
  8. A live but extremely tiny spider.
  9. A large but extremely dead spider.
  10. The power cord on our GRO EGG.
  11. Raindrops on the living room window.
  12. A bit of paper.
  13. A friend blowing his nose.
  14. Whatever he was dreaming about an hour ago.
  15. The clothes horse getting bigger or smaller unexpectedly.
  16. Steve reaching down to stroke him.
  17. Cat biscuits.
  18. My yoga ball rolling across the floor.
  19. The sound of the letterbox.
  20. A book being on the sofa when he hadn't left it there.
  21. A gust of wind while he was looking out the front door.
  22. Voices down the street while he was looking out the front door.
  23. A bin bag full of old wallpaper.
  24. My big toe wiggling.
  25. One tassel on his favourite blanket.
  26. His tail.

31 March 2015

What I've Enjoyed About Being Pregnant


Pregnancy isn't the most dignified of processes. From the first three months of feeling like you have flu to the last three months of feeling like you can't breathe, to all the minor indignities along the way - the nosebleeds and the spots and the inability to fasten your own shoes - it's hard work.

But it's also an incredible experience.

In fact, despite the pelvic girdle pain and the Braxton Hicks contractions, I have loved the majority of my pregnancy. I would say it's about 20% crap stuff to 80% exhilarating.

Here are some of the bits which make it all worthwhile:

Feeling the Kicks

Well, most of the time! While not always comfortable and not always conveniently timed, there is something quite amazing (and very reassuring) about feeling a tiny human wriggling around in there. Steve and I sometimes watch my belly jiggling about and giggle away together - it's a very visible reminder that we're making a whole new person. It can make us quite emotional.

Eating at the Table

From about week twenty-four onwards it became much more comfortable to eat dinner sitting at a table. Things were feeling a bit squished in there and that was giving me occasional indigestion. It's lovely, sitting down and spending a bit of time chatting to Steve over a meal, rather than eating on the sofa, each with one eye on Netflix.

An Excuse to Buy New Clothes

I'm not usually much of a shopper - I tend to wear things until they're embarrassing and then choose their replacements with longevity in mind. Although I've been keeping my pregnancy wardrobe as small and cost effective as possible (hooray for the ASOS sale section!), being able to justify a whole new set of clothing was rather fun and shopping for the baby is the best.

Deep and Meaningfuls

Whether it's discussing potential names or what we're going to do about money, how to approach the Santa question or our options when it comes to nappies, there's no avoiding in depth conversations at the moment - and no point being coy about what we believe. Steve and I have had to be very honest with each other about some very big topics and (although we do tend to agree on the things which matter) it's challenging and rewarding to voice exactly how we feel.

Other People's Excitement

Okay, there has been some naysaying, but over all we've both been blown away by how excited people are for us. From screechy text messages to homemade gifts, it has been quite humbling, seeing how much other people care.

Ice Cream

The official advice, if you're worried you haven't felt your baby kick for a while? Eat some chocolate or some ice cream and go for a lie down. Brilliant. Ice cream being full of calcium and being a sure way to get the baby to wriggle about, I'm taking the excuse to eat it a lot.

The Bump

I love it. I've never had an "I'm so fat" moment. I can spend ages admiring my bump in the mirror and marvelling that I'm growing a baby in there. It just seems so implausible. After my miscarriage, I would look at pregnant women and find it both magical and unfair that their bodies knew how to perform this amazing trick - and now I'm, frankly, far too impressed with myself for managing to do the same.

Why is there a photo of honeysuckle at the start of this post? It isn't even blooming yet this year! Well, two reasons. One: there are only so many photos of my bump in this same black and white spotty dress that I can stand to take. Two: this is the Two Days the Same photo from the day I did my pregnancy test; I remember breathing in the honeysuckle scent, feeling equal parts scared and excited.