This Pregnancy: The Final Stretch


I’m now 36 weeks pregnant. Phew. I’ve made it to the very last bit… not too much longer to wait. In a few days I’ll officially be classed as full-term and able to look forward to my home birth. Yippee!

I’m so excited to have this baby. So excited to labour in my own home, with Nookie there, in my own way. To see if I have the strength to give birth without intervention, naturally. I feel like it’s something I just have to do. I can’t wait.

All is set now. The obstetrician, despite reservations and expressing his disapproval of home birth in general, and in my case in particular, has grudgingly given me his support. The midwife came out yesterday to do my home visit and go through my birth plan. She’s dropping off the box of her supplies within the next few days. We’re nearly there.

And I can’t wait to get this baby out! I’m fed up of being in pain and tired. My pelvis and back pretty much permanently hurt now, and doing anything at all is getting to be a chore. I know it’s my last pregnancy and I should be savouring these last few weeks, but honestly, I’ll be glad when it’s over. Being pregnant is not fun. Yes, feeling the baby moving inside is magical, and I will miss that. But being permanently uncomfortable and sore just sucks. It’s a means to an end. I’m not one of those women who enjoys being pregnant. To me, having my child in my arms is the point. And for that I’d go through just about anything. :)

36 weeks pregnant

36 weeks pregnant

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Letters to Littles, September 2014


Dear Nookie

You recently turned four. FOUR! How did the time fly by so quickly?! And oh my what a mature, compassionate, kind person you are. Everyone who knows you remarks on how polite and helpful you are. When your younger friends need help or are running off you’re right there offering a helping hand or helping to bring them back. You’re a delightful, trustworthy child. I couldn’t ask for more.

You still have your moments. There are still hard days. You’re still demanding at times and try my patience. But you’re four. That’s okay. I’m not expecting miracles. I know you still struggle to manage big emotions and understand the world. But generally you amaze me with your understanding, patience and caring attitude.

A while ago one of my friends commented that the toddler she knew has grown up and that you’re such a joy to be around. She’s right. When we’re out and about I know I can trust you not to run off. In the shops you’ll help me with the shopping, and can be trusted to go get something I’ve forgotten by yourself. Your maturity is astounding. Today I said to you that I don’t want you to grow up; that I want you to be four forever. You looked at me with such sympathy and understanding and said “but I will grow up mummy. It’s okay.” How you melt my heart.

And in a few weeks you’ll have a baby sister. You’re so excited. Every day you talk about “smush-face”, as you’ve nicknamed her, with such joy. You promise me you’ll help me to take care of her and talk about the games you’ll play together when she’s old enough. I’m glad we had these four years together without another child. And in a way I feel truly sad that I’ll have to share my attention with another. I’ll miss it just being you, me and daddy. I’m crying just writing that. But I know when the baby comes I’ll feel differently. And I know how much you’ll love having a little sister. I bet you’ll be an amazing big sister!

As for what you love at this age, nothing has really changed. You still love to climb and run. You still love zombies and monsters. You love to watch Halloween make-up tutorials on YouTube and practice on yourself and others. You love Scooby Doo and Spongebob Squarepants. You love theme parks and fairground rides. You prefer to be naked. You still eat a diet largely consisting of crisps and chocolate. Ha ha. And you still need to be in my presence 24 hours a day. Which is tough sometimes. But to be honest I feel lost without you too, so I don’t mind too much.

Don’t ever change my darling. Continue to be a free spirit. Challenge me and make me grow. Live life passionately and follow your dreams. I’m with you every step of the way, basking in your presence.

I love you

Mummy

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Seriously, Just Be Quiet


One of the most valuable parenting skills I’ve learned is actually one of the simplest you could imagine. You wanna know what it is? Keeping my mouth shut. This one action has proved so valuable in so many situations. Let me explain.

Today Nookie and I were at a play centre. They had these trays of that squishy jelly stuff with a load of various animal toys in there, as well as spades, funnels, etc. I sat and watched her play in silence for quite some time, only joining in her various games when she wanted me to. Otherwise I just watched her (as I’d been asked to). Then another little girl came along to play. The difference between her mother’s parenting style and mine was immediately apparent. But I was most amazed by the amount she interfered in her child’s play!

Every few seconds she was trying to redirect her play in some way. Asking her questions about which animals were in the tray, which colours she was using, trying to get her to play some other thing to what she was. I found it quite bizarre and amazing. Why the need to constantly quiz?! Why not just sit and watch your child play? Observe the ways they’re learning and figuring out for themselves? Your child will learn the names of animals. There’s no need to constantly quiz them! Just let them get on with it.

Silence has it’s other uses. Quite often Nookie has done something to annoy me and just taking a few seconds of keeping my mouth shut, rather than being reactionary, has helped me to have a quiet word with myself, establish what’s actually going on, and think of a better solution than shouting or getting angry.

There’s also all the times where she’s trying to figure something out and I’ve been tempted to step in, but instead have chosen to remain silent and let her figure it out for herself.

Talk to your children. Have conversations with them all the time. Interact with them and wonder with them. But please, parents, learn too when to keep your mouth shut! Sometimes being quiet really is the best thing you can do.

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I Love Our Home

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.

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We live in a cheap, 1950s council house. (For my non-British readers who may not know what a council house is, basically the council owns the house and we rent it from them for a relatively small amount of money (compared to privately renting). We’re very lucky to have a council house. The waiting lists are years long.) It’s one of many houses the council hurriedly built after the second world war, and was never meant to stand longer than a couple of decades. Fast forward sixty years and these houses are still standing, albeit reluctantly: terribly insulated, badly designed and with cheap, plasterboard walls that won’t hold any weight. But having said all that, I love our home.

After years of living in a tiny bungalow with only a shared garden this place is like a palace. We have a large front garden and a huge back garden (the only drawbacks being the amount of grass to cut and that unfortunately we don’t have a garden fence). We have three bedrooms. We have a dining room! Generally, in the UK, you have to be pretty wealthy to afford a house with such luxuries, and I feel very lucky to have such a home. We’ve only lived here for ten months and I still treasure the amount of space we now have. The gratefulness I feel is one of the reasons I strive so hard to keep the place clean and tidy. After years of living in a tiny space, crammed to the rafters and impossible to keep clean, I love living in my relatively tidy, clean home (even if keeping on top of the cleaning does make me slightly crazy!).

Anyway, let me take you on a tour…

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Let’s start with the hall. The HALL! We have a hall. A proper, functional hall. A place to keep coats on hangers. Somewhere to put our bookcases with our beautiful books on show. Nookie really loves flowers, so we always have a vase of fresh flowers on a table. I can’t tell you what a difference to a home having a real hall makes.

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This is our living room, and it’s probably one of my least-favourite rooms actually. We have a lot of pets (eight cats and two large dogs), and this is where they tend to hang out. We have a massive dog bed that always smells like dogs and takes up a huge area. The sofa has to be covered otherwise the cats scratch it, and the covers are always hanging off from Nookie climbing all over the place. Even the sofa isn’t that comfortable any more after years of cats sleeping on the backs and Nookie bouncing on it. The wallpaper (which was up when we moved in and we can’t afford to change it), is that sort of textured stuff which the cats love to put their claws in, so everywhere there are scratch marks and places where it is peeling off.

Still, there are things I love. Real curtains that open and close. In our bungalow the curtain pole kept falling down so in the end we just had curtains pinned to the window that we could never open. It looked horrible. All our paintings and photographs are up in here. And I love our large, working fireplace, which is a huge novelty.

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This is our dining room, which has always been Nookie’s play room. We do have a small folding table, which we bring into the living room for dinner, but otherwise the room is completely devoted to Nookie. This is one of my favourite rooms. It’s so warm and welcoming. Her toys are spread out where she can get to them and her artwork decorates the walls. She loves it in here.

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I really have a love/hate relationship with the kitchen. It’s badly designed, with no where near enough work surface space. The thin, plasterboard walls mean we can’t have any shelves up, so even more surface space is taken up with cooking equipment. Also, the cat litter tray lives in here, which is just gross and always smells, but there is no where else we can put it.

But, the lack of space means we’ve had to come up with creative solutions for storage to maximise work surface space. We’ve squeezed shelving units into nooks and crannies and stacked high. We’ve stored things under and over. I especially love our spice rack which is screwed to the back of the lobby door. Everything is where I know it is, and it works for me most of the time (although Hedgehog finds it very stressful cooking in there).

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This is the family bedroom. We all sleep in here. Thankfully the room is big enough to accommodate a kingsize bed and a single bed pushed together, as well as enough storage for all our clothes. My favourite thing about this room is the wallpaper (it was the only room we wallpapered when we moved in), and my beautiful Banksy print. Otherwise I don’t generally favour this room. It’s always messy. Nookie loves to lay in bed watching films, and also eats most of her meals in here. The beds are always unmade, there are generally crumbs everywhere, and various drinks and half-eaten meals on the bedside table. The dogs also sleep in here at night so three large dog beds litter the foot of the beds, which isn’t great.

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And finally here is Nookie’s “bedroom” (we also have a spare room which serves as a general storage room, and a small bathroom of course). I like this room. At the bungalow we slept in a loft bed which has now been put in this room and converted into an extra play space. At the top we put floorboards down so Nookie can climb up and play up there on a large, flat wooden surface. And underneath we’ve made it into a little den complete with fairy-lights and blankets to lay on. She also has some of her favourite toys under there. She loves to play in her “play bed”, as she calls it, and it always goes down a hit with her friends.

So that’s our home. And I love it. :)

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family’s home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama’s most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I’m Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn’t have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia’s nursing nest and changed room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry’s recent “home tour,” That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she’s thankful for around her home. Don’t plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family’s newly renovated home and how it’s set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen‘s life is now host to her family’s homeschool adventures and a room they couldn’t imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she’s created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

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Pregnancy: The (Dreaded) Third Trimester

29 weeks

29 weeks

That’s it. Had enough now!

I’m almost 30 weeks, I’m big and uncomfortable, my back always hurts, I’ve got chronic heartburn, and I’m constantly physically fatigued. My breasts are swollen and so sore the slightest touch is agony, and none of my bras fit properly any more. I can’t get comfortable in bed. Standing for any length of time is getting to be impossible.

I’ve had enough.

On the bright side, so far I haven’t suffered any of the more annoying side-effects of pregnancy I did with my last one (swollen feet and hands, constant itching on my feet, etc), possibly because I was clinically obese last time and this time I’m a healthy weight.

But, oh man… it’s hard work. And Nookie has chosen this period to be as difficult as humanly possible. Honestly, I don’t know what’s come over her lately. She’s like a different child again. She has massive screaming tantrums over the smallest things almost every day. She’s back to refusing to get into her car seat when we’re out, refusing to get her nappy changed, refusing to brush her teeth… basically at the moment she will argue that up is down and the sky is pink. She will not do anything I ask of her, and constantly asks unreasonable things of me. She’s driving me crazy! So many times today I’ve ended up screaming at her. I barely get anything done through the day because if we’re not sitting in bed watching films or playing computer games all hell breaks loose. She won’t have anything to do with Hedgehog most of the time and follows me from room to room. She barely sleeps… last night she had seven hours sleep and is still awake now at 10.30pm. I just don’t get a break. She’s relentless. And when I really, desperately need a break, like this morning, she just won’t leave my side. It’s incredibly difficult.

So I’m stressed. Boy am I stressed! I haven’t felt this stressed out in a long time. This morning I was shaking and breathless I felt so agitated. I did finally manage to get an hour to myself, after Hedgehog finally managed to convince Nookie to play with him, but I spent most of that time catching up on cleaning I haven’t been able to do for days because I’ve been so busy keeping Nookie from having a meltdown. I feel physically and emotionally exhausted.

Whose bright idea was this pregnancy anyway?!

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