When things don’t go exactly to plan…

Does anything go according to plan? Not the renovation at any rate.

We are four months in and we’re still no closer to being home. Well, that’s a lie. We have functioning electrics and some rooms on the way to being completed, but it is now looking like it will be the end of November before we’re back in our house, and that is if everything goes smoothly.

Nothing ever goes smoothly with a renovation.

It feels so disheartening to go over there, our family home has been reduced to brick walls and although we’ve re-plastered all of the upstairs and most of the downstairs it is still no closer to being liveable. Which is sad because it was our family home, and now it just feels like a bit of a shell!

That has a knock of effect as well, because I love my in-laws and I’m grateful we’ve had somewhere to stay and the ability to do the much needed work on the house. But it is hard for a family of three, and a lot of their stuff, to be in one room.

I’ve lost motivation with it all, because it feels never ending.

Has anyone else done a renovation? How do you get over the hump?

Hopefully, soon, I will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully we will be back home for Christmas!

My OCD and Pregnancy

This post is written for PNDAW17. This year PANDAS Foundation are concentrating on pre-natal mental health, highlighting how illnesses such as depression, anxiety and OCD can affect mental wellbeing during pregnancy.   

I’m crouched outside of our bedroom listening intently for the sound of my daughter breathing.

It took ages to get her to sleep, and I’ve checked on her four or five times since then. Logic tells me she’s ok, but my brain won’t rest until I’ve been in and gently put my hand on her chest.

After each time I’ll be able to relax for a few minutes but, inevitably, the thoughts will start again. I’ll keep checking the monitor. Then I’ll stare, watching her chest move up and down. Then I’ll feel the need to check on her again.

Sounds like normal behaviour for someone with a newborn doesn’t it?

What if I told you my daughter was twelve months old?

What if I told you that everytime I get the urge to check on her that I also have to touch the wooden table I’m sat at as a way to keep the bad thoughts away?

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Simply put OCD is a series of obsessive thoughts that are dealt with by the use of a compulsive behaviour. In this case the thought is that my daughter has stopped breathing in her cot, and the compulsion is both touching wood and then going and checking on her.

I’d tried lots of medication and therapy prior to my diagnosis at age twenty, but it took having private therapy for things to really click, and on a day to day basis I was coping pretty well.

Then I became pregnant.

Unexpectedly. My world was turned upside down.

We hadn’t planned to get pregnant, and since I had been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and didn’t appear to be ovulating the chance of me becoming pregnancy seemed slim. To say I was shocked is an understatement. My normal reaction in situations of stress is to run. Unfortunately there’s no way to run from cells that are rapidly dividing in your uterus. You kind of have to deal with the situation.

It is really difficult when you know you should be happy, and everyone is congratulating you and the reality is that you’re terrified and hurtling towards an unknown that you have no way of coping with.

Pregnancy was scary. I had “complications” and there wasn’t a day I didn’t think I would lose my baby. I developed coping rituals to try and deal with the anxiety: I started colouring books in the hope that it might allow me some respite from my own brain. Every scan we had I would turn my face to the wall, expecting to hear the baby didn’t have a heartbeat.

I made good friends with Dr. Google, analysing every little twinge and ache, checking ingredients in all products to try and reduce risk. I even struggling to have blood taken during my pregnancy, the fear of contamination actually caused my blood flow to slow down when the needle was in.

I opted for a home birth, in an effort to help myself remain as calm as possible. My reasoning was that being in a familiar environment might help reduce my stress levels and therefore bring about an easier birth. That didn’t work out. I ended up with Gestational Diabetes and was scheduled to be induced at thirty-seven weeks.

I’m not sure how people without OCD face impending labour. I worried that I wouldn’t want to hold my baby because of the blood, I was concerned about going into hospital and the risk of Pippin or I contracting something, I was scared of sharing a bathroom with other women on the ward after the birth in case of contamination, and I was really scared that my OCD would come back with a vengeance.

As it turns out I coped better than I expected.

My birth was not idea or as planned. I was never given the choice to have her birthed onto my chest, as she was born via emergency caesarean and immediately taken away whilst they dealt with my bleeding uterus. I breast fed, the decision was almost made for me as I had expressed colostrum to be taken over to the SBCU for my poorly daughter. I also managed to share the bathroom with the other women, because the only way I was getting out of that ward was to pee and nothing would stop me seeing my little girl.

It wasn’t easy, and in the first few weeks after her birth I was plagued with intrusive thoughts. I look back and I can feel a little of what I went through in those early weeks. I remember feeling sick every time I tried to feed my daughter, and the dread that appeared towards the end of the day when I knew I had to have my daily injection. It’s still not easy some days: I’m having therapy again to help me deal with the trauma of the birth and the separation from my daughter, but I’m here and my daughter is doing well.

I was reading a few blogs, as you do, and came accross the concept of Zero Waste.

So, I want to be a bit more commited to looking at the stuff we throw away.

We used to be quite good, but then we had a baby. A baby who never sleeps and, quite frankly, somewhere around the fifth day my brain stopped functioning correctly. I’m never quite sure if I’ve remembered to brush my teeth, so actually getting my head around dealing with our waste output felt a bit too much to handle. Then my dad came round, and he took five bags of rubbish from around my house to the bin, and I was horrified. We’d gone from meticulously sorting rubbish to throwing away colossal amounts of rubbish and it felt grim.

Yet another thing that fell of the wagon when the baby arrived, and yet it was probably one of the more important things we could do for our daughter. Not only to help safeguard the planet that she will be living on, but also to teach her (and through her future generations) about the importance of minimising our impact on the planet (and how nasty landfill is, obv. We live near a skip company, if the wind is against us we can smell how nasty it is.)

Zero Waste Week was launched in 2008, to raise awareness of the impact on the environment of the things we throw away. It runs for one week in September, and this year it starts this coming Monday.

So we’ve made a pledge at No. 1: this week we’re going to attempt to cut down on the rubbish we put in our general waste bin, and hopefully go into our next collection without an overflowing bin.

We’re hopefully going to achieve this by:

  1. Bringing less packaging into the house.
  2. Making sure we recycle everything that can be recycled.
  3. Wasting as little food as possible.
  4. Making use of our green bin for what food waste we do have.

One year of Pippin

I didn’t think I’d feel so emotional about Pippin turning one. I was ok until I looked at the clock at 10pm on the 25th and had a vivid flashback to leaning over the windowsill on the maternity ward breathing through a contraction. An artificially induced one mind as the second pessary began to do its work. I wouldn’t be in full blow labour until the 26th.

I still don’t like thinking about the birth. It leaves me feeling a little sick, and I struggle looking at the pictures of those first few days, which is sad because I should have been happy. Birth isn’t always easy though, it can be traumatic for mum and baby. I didn’t expect to become a mum, and sometimes I still look at Pippin and can’t quite believe I am one, but I couldn’t be without her. I’m glad she unexpectedly appeared in our lives.


I feel like I’m writing a lot of sad things at the moment, and if I’m honest I am the happiest and most stable I’ve been in a long time.

It is hard to know what to write about Pippin. I couldn’t be prouder of how well she is doing, not just because of her achievements – but also because of her little personality. She’s bright and bubbly, she’s caring and happy and she’s independent and fierce too. She’s fearless, determined and loving. She delights us every day.

I can really put into words how I’m feeling. I haven’t found parenting easy, but I’m pretty sure it has made me a better me. Pippin has pushed me to do things I struggled to do before.

As a family we’ve had a lot going on over the past few years. With bereavements, and buying a house, getting married, graduating, having a baby and now renovating our house. These are big life events and in some respects it feels like I’ve not stopped.

I’m looking forward to spending the day with my two favourite people, and just spending time in the moment.

I am sad that it is going so quickly, but I’m excited about the future.

Particularly about the fact that she can walk!!!

Pippin’s Adventures: Dunham Massey, The Lost Carnival

I make no secret of the fact that I adore having a National Trust Membership. We’ve used it so much since getting it, and I like the fact that pretty much wherever we go we can find a wonderful place to visit.

So when my cousin wanted to do a meet up for Pippin’s birthday a Trust property seemed perfect, so we headed off to Dunham Massey.

Dunham Massey is an 18th Century House in between Manchester and Cheshire, with impressive grounds filled with deer and a beautiful Garden. It isn’t the first time we have visited, but it is the first time we’ve visited when there was an event on!

Currently the house has been transformed to tell the tale of the 7th Earl and his scandalous marriage to London Celebrity Catherine Cox.

Little Pippin was really getting some steps in wandering up and down the hallways of the house. She had great fun pointing out all the different dogs in the portraits too.

The garden’s are currently home to ‘The Lost Carnival’.

Essentially a treasure hunt, but filled with performances and fun. Including hula hooping, which I think the adults enjoyed more than the littles on our trip!

And we made sure to say hello to the ‘Ack Acks’ (for the uninitiated that’s my daughter speak for Ducks)…

Before heading to the café for tea and cake.

The Lost Carnival is running until the 30th of August, so you still have a few more days to catch it!

Pippin’s Adventures: Rufford Old Hall Barefoot Walk

I am pretty open about the fact that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was diagnosed when I was twenty, but it something I’ve been dealing with a lot longer than that. I think probably from around aged ten or eleven. It affects my life daily, and influences a lot of things I do.

OCD-Uk describe OCD as:

“a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.”

In other words, I get a thought (and it’s usually a grim one) and then I have a behaviour to deal with that thought. Usually the thought will go on, and on, and on and I’ll analyse and perform the behaviour. Then the thought comes back, and I’ll do it again. Then I’ll beat myself up and obsess about why I thought that in the first place.

It can be exhausting, and I am lucky that my OCD is pretty mild, and most of the time I can manage it these days.

So, naturally, when my friend invited Pippin and I on a Bare Foot Walk at Rufford Old Hall, I immediately began thinking about everything her little feet could come into contact with on the grass. I also just as quickly said yes. Bare Foot Walking is a form of sensory play which basically does what it says on the tin: you walk outside with no socks on and feel the floor.

I don’t like Pippin to miss out on any experiences because I don’t see things in the same way as other people, but the idea of letting her walk outside with no shoes felt a little bit sickening. But I packed up her bag and off we went to Rufford.

Rufford Old Hall is a five hundred year old property run by the National Trust, set in small(er) grounds that include and Orchard, Vegetable Garden and canal.

Part of the ’50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4′ the Bare Foot Walk was a series of trays with different materials in, so one had logs and pine cones, one had grass clippings, one had sand, one had cut up kitchen sponges (Pippin hated that one) and the last had water.

So far so good really. I could absolutely cope with bare feet in a contained environment of plastic trays.

Then we sat on the floor to picnic. The girls were bouncing off each other, crawling and walking off. Pippin was pulling up tufts of grass and putting them in her mouth, they tipped the pasta I had made for lunch on the floor, then tried to eat that.



Floor pasta.

But I didn’t completely lose it, just removed the pasta from reach and we carried on.

As we left the Orchard I put Pippin’s little shoes back on to let her walk, my friend let her daughter go bare foot. Poor Pippin was desperately trying to pull her shoes off and let her feet go free.

So, against my OCD’s judgement, I let her.

Her little face when she put her bare foot into a muddy puddle was a picture. She whipped her foot out so quickly and stood on one leg. Then she watched my friend’s daughter splashing happily and she jumped in. She loved it, and I loved seeing her so happy.

Of course I gave her a lovely soapy bath when I got her home, but I did it. Allowing her to put her feet in that puddle was as big an achievement for me as it was for her to put her feet in it! And I couldn’t be happier that I let her have that experience.




Baby Birthday Guilt

I’ve written about mum guilt before, and I’ve felt guilty a lot before. I’m not sure I ever felt as guilty as when I realised that Pippin’s first birthday wouldn’t be spent in her own home, and wouldn’t be celebrated with a homemade cake and party.

Logic dictates that she won’t know, and it also tells me that if she ever realises that we didn’t throw her a first birthday party she won’t even care. I have no idea if my parents had a party for me, I’m guessing probably not and I’m pretty sure that hasn’t caused me any hurt.

I guess I didn’t expect the renovation to be going on quite as long as it has been, I thought we would be home in plenty of time for her birthday. It wasn’t to be.

I shouldn’t be looking at this as a negative though. Pippin has enjoyed spending time with her grandparents, and I know they have enjoyed spending time with her.

She’s also hit lots of her milestones whilst living here; she’s learned to cruise, and to say her first proper words. She can now also show you Mama, Dada and her toes when asked, which I am sure will stand her in good stead for the future.

Living in another part of our town has also led me to meet some new people, who I can now count as friends and their children are now Pippin’s friends too.

In the last few months we’ve moved from what was a quite difficult time in a house that wasn’t suitable, to a very positive future, and I know that Pippin’s second year of life is going to be filled with as much, if not more, fun than her first.

When we get back into our home it is going to be a safe and wonderful place for Pippin to grow up, and I’m excited for the memories we are going to make there, but I’m going to look back fondly at the time we’ve spent living here too. She may not have the homemade cake, or the bunting and party we’d hoped, but she will have a birthday surrounded by all the people who love her and I am absolutely sure that whatever we end up doing her grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousin will make it a lovely day for her.

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Ten things I learnt in my 1st year of being a parent…

I think I’ve learned some things since I became a parent: I’m pretty good at putting a nappy on a wriggly baby, and I think I’ve got this breastfeeding thing pretty much sorted.

Here’s a few other things I’ve learned over the last twelve months.

  1. Get rid of all the preconceived ideas you had of being a parent. Just chuck them right out, because all they will bring you is guilt. When you planned how you would parent, and you made all these sweeping statements you forgot one vital thing: your hypothetical child wasn’t real. Your real child is probably very different.
  2. Bedtime is there to test you. I was not blessed with a child who likes to sleep, I was blessed with a child who likes to fight sleep with every fibre of her being. Then, when she has lulled us into a false sense of security by appearing to get into a bedtime routine then BAM she wakes up seven times in a night.
  3. Your child will have more, and nicer, clothes than you. Who can resist the tiny little outfits?
  4. You buy more stuff than you could ever need. I don’t know why this happens either, you can start with the best intentions of not falling into that trap, but gradually more and more stuff creeps in until you’re living under piles of plastic and gadgets that you have no idea how to use.
  5. You will be tired. Very, very tired. So tired.
  6. You’ll forget your basic needs. Especially in those first few weeks. Although it continues, whilst writing this I’ve realised I’ve had a packet of crisps and a muffin today, and I can’t remember if I’ve had a drink. My daughter on the other hand has had three lovingly home cooked meals. Which leads me to…
  7. Even if they liked something hours ago, even if you spent ages cooking it, small toddlers will refuse to eat it. Sometimes I think they plan it…
  8. Baby giggles are the best. They just laugh with complete abandon at the strangest things, it is completely wonderful.
  9. Bath time is terrifying, and then really fun. At first, you put this tiny little baby in the water and it is so utterly scary. Will it burn them? Am I going to drop them? What if they DROWN? But then they can sit up by themselves, and they start to play with their bath toys and they really, really love it. Bath time is one of my favourite times of they day.
  10. It is, hands down, the best thing I have ever done.

Happy 2nd Wedding Anniversary to Me (and my husband of course)

It really doesn’t feel like two year ago that I woke up in a panic at 5am, turned to my husband and said “Oh god, it’s raining. It is raining on our wedding day Liam and IT IS IN A PARK.” (Spoiler, the sun came out).

Or one year since we were sat in a hospital being told that I would be induced at 37 weeks because my baby was on track for an 11lb birth weight.

Last year we didn’t really celebrate, because I was 36 weeks pregnant, we were travelling straight from the hospital to Center Parcs and, well, I was huge.

This year we aren’t celebrating because we have a house that is mid-renovation, a very lively baby who, funnily enough, does not like fancy meals out and I’m working.

But I have got him a card.

It is ok though, because although I loved my wedding day and I love looking back at the photos, I didn’t marry him for that. I married him for the eight years that came before the wedding and the many years that will come after it.

So, Happy Anniversary to my lovely husband and here’s to many more.


A few thoughts on confidence

Someone said to me, you must really not give a fuck what people think of you. You wear circle skirts, and loud prints and big hair flowers. You stand out.


I thought about it for a minute, and that’s just not true. I care far too much about what people think of me. I spend about 90% of my time thinking about what people think of me. I can’t walk into a room, or down the street to be with family without wondering what other people think of me.

I analyse every interaction with other humans, wondering what I could have done better or how I could have managed the situation differently.

The more I think about it, the more sad it seems.

It has become even more glaring obvious that I am far too quick to worry about others’ opinions since I became a mum. And what is worse is that I regularly adapt how I want to parent to fit what I feel other people want me to do. Why would I want my daughter to grow up seeing her mum’s opinion regularly discounted and trodden down?

That’s not other’s people’s fault. Everyone has an opinion, but I am under no obligation to listen to them. Much less actually act upon them.

I try to do the best for my family and daughter. The way I parent may not be the way others parent, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I must be doing something ok, she is thriving.

I want my daughter to grow up confident in her own decisions and in herself. I want her to be strong, and to continue being as wilful as she is now. I also want her to know that although her decisions may not always work out the way she planned, it is ok and she can dust herself off and try again. I want her to know that it is ok to disagree with the opinions of the people around her, and that she can forge her own path.

I need to find my voice, for her, and show her the strong woman I want her to be. Not the woman who allows others to dictate to her and lets her voice be drowned.

I want to be a role model for my daughter.