Wednesday 29 August 2018

Day-in-the-life of a writer with a 2 month old

I've been meaning to write this for a while, which means my baby girl is now closer to three months old. Life changes quickly when you're growing fast! Luckily I scribbled some notes down on post-its. Here's a glimpse of our day when she was two months old...

4.05am -  First feed of the day! Baby and I wake up in synch. She doesn't cry when she's hungry, but sucks her fingers desperately. I breastfeed her for fifteen minutes and then change her nappy. She pees as I remove nappy - FAIL - I knew I should have waited another moment! Pee floods across the changing mat towards her neck. I mop it up before it reaches her hair, give her a backpacker shower with wipes and then put her back to bed.

7.45am - Second feed of the day! She stretches luxuriously for ages and smiles when I say good morning. She's a morning person. I feel overwhelmed with love.

8am - 9am - I remember pee episode and bathe her in a bucket. She beams as she sinks into the warm water, and then kicks her legs frantically. There's nowhere to go, so I scoop her out. We have a sing-along. Well, I sing and wiggle her arms and legs, and she stares up at me, smiling off-and-on until she gets tired. Her favourite song: Yellow Submarine by The Beatles.

9am - 10am - Nap! She's exhausted after all the fun. I take advantage to finish a blog I started the day before.

10am - 11.45am - Third feed (or fourth, fifth... I'm breastfeeding on demand, so I've no idea!) I sit her in her bouncer and introduce her to some toys. She follows them with her eyes, but prefers to suck her fingers rather than touch them. Her favourite toy is the fan. It's 30 degrees and we can't go outside until late afternoon.

11.45am - 12.20pm Nap! I hand wash my milk-stained bra and do chores around the house. I consider getting a cleaner so any free time I have is dedicated to writing.

12.20pm - 1.05pm I hold her in my arms and dance around the kitchen to The Sound of Music. I never used to like musicals but I can't stop playing them! When she gets heavy, I lay her down again. I read online that babies like shiny objects, so I dangle a spoon above her head (no interest)... then a sieve (moderate interest)... then some aluminium foil. Her eyes light up at the foil.  She falls asleep on my chest after feeding.

1.05pm - 2pm - Nap. I make enough food for two meals. She wakes up as I'm serving up.

2pm - 3pm I leave her in the bouncer sucking her fingers and talk to her while I eat. Afterwards I show her the some toys again. She likes the dangling rabbit.  

3pm - 3.30pm Nap. I wash up and edit three paragraphs of the PregnancyDiaries.  

3.30pm - 4.45pm More singing, more waving toys at her, more dancing around the kitchen, more feeding, lots more feeding, I don't know how much feeding, about every hour and a half... I don't mind... sometimes I read a novel on my kindle when her eyes are closed... but when her eyes are open I look down at her and savour the moment, I know I'll miss this special time.

4.45pm - 5.00pm Nap! I edit another paragraph of the Pregnancy Diaries. 

5.00pm - 6.45pm Feed, play... I start glancing wishfully at the clock... I'm looking forward to talking to an adult!

7pm - 8.45pm I put her in the buggy and we head out for a stroll and a quick drink with a neighbour and her baby... then I push her back up the steepest hill ever, sweating profusely and feeling the burn in my legs! It feels good after all that sitting on the sofa feeding!

8.45pm - 9.00pm She whimpers as I wolf down leftovers from lunch while calling 'coming!' between each mouthful.

9.00 - 11.00 feed, feed, feed, feed, feed until she falls asleep. She won't wake up again until four in the morning. While I was pregnant I promised myself that when I was with her, I wouldn't wish myself doing anything or wanting to be anywhere else. I fall asleep, my promise kept.   

Friday 17 August 2018

What to do with a two month old?

What do you do with a two month old? Out of curiosity I typed the question in online and a search led me to a day-in-the-life type blog post by a mother with a two month old. Great! I thought.

The blogger's day starts with a crack of dawn feed. So far, so similar. Sol wakes up at 4am, feeds for about fifteen minutes then falls asleep until 7 or 8am. It's pretty relaxed and there's a lot of snoozing by both of us.

At 6.30am the blogger is inexplicably trying to have a shower.

What's the rush? I wonder. I aim to have a shower at some point during the day and so far have a 100% success rate. Set your goals low and you shall achieve them!

7am and the mother appears to be getting ready to go somewhere. Bit eager, I think. If she's going for an early morning walk then she must be a masochist. I don't know what it's like in her neck of the woods, but in mine, it's so hot the earliest I leave the house with the baby is 7pm.  

Now she appears to be leaving the baby with a relative... wait, she's going to work? Oh! From 8am to 6pm!   

In that moment, I realise two things. One, that this post is a fat lot of good if you want to observe a FULL day with a two month old. Two, that the blogger has to be American. Their maternity leave is famously rubbish.  A poxy 12 weeks, I believe, compared to UK's 26 basic leave. And if you think included in that 12 weeks is the time you take off before birth, then of course by two months your time's up.

You know that whole "Make America Great Again" slogan - did they have decent maternity leave before? If not, then it can't have been that great. I think a humane maternity leave is so important. It's about reducing stress for the people bringing up the next generation. And the way things are in the world, we really need the next generations to be alright. 

I delve into the blog and stumble on information about how hard it was for this woman to have the baby in the first place. She mentions countless rounds of fertility treatment. And I can't help it. For a moment I think, all that and she's back to work after less than two months? What's the point of it all?

But then I also think, ah, it's in America, so she's probably steeped in debt after all that treatment and now has to work at a meth lab all day to pay it back. I often think how many TV plots wouldn't be possible if America had a free national healthcare service. Okay, so in the UK it's not free either, but you do get one free chance and after that, it's only a fraction of what it costs in the States. 

I finish reading the blog post. It ends pretty much the same as my day ends, with a little baby tanking up on milk for a couple of hours before collapsing at the breast, then carefully being carried, her arms and legs heavy with sleep, to her cot beside our bed.

I'm not sure whether to feel admiration for the woman, or sad that her daily life has to be such a struggle. If only there was more flexibility in all societies to accommodate the realities of bringing up children. Trying to fit babies into a tidy military schedule is unnatural and stresses everyone out.   

Meanwhile I've been making notes of my own first week home alone with Sol... eat, sing, sleep, eat, POO... you'll be on the edge of your seat when you read it.

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Tuesday 7 August 2018

New baby, new life: Two months of sunshine

It's been two months since my daughter, Sol, was born. At 3.890g (8.5lb), she was a large bundle of joy. I felt every gram when the obstetrician passed her to me and I was worried I might drop her. But I'm happy to say I did not, and she is currently very much intact. She is a robust baby and also a very calm one. To celebrate her two month anniversary, she slept all through the night, from 23.00 to 06.00, waking up briefly to feed for 15 minutes before dozing off for another two hours.

As a result of her reasonable sleeping patterns, I'm not a zombie parent with bags under my eyes. In fact I'm feeling a lot perkier than I anticipated and very grateful for such a tranquil baby. Could yoga and meditation throughout my pregnancy have influenced this outcome? Or is the reason she's so relaxed because we're so relaxed around her

"Chicken and egg," my auntie said, because likewise we might be relaxed because she is. Maybe it really is just the luck of the draw! Either way, she is a wonder, accomplishing all baby functions with aplomb - taking great satisfaction in stretching for long periods of time, and giving us great pleasure each time she poos, burps, yawns, and best of all, smiles. It really is the little things.

After racing to the finish line of my novel, I've since read it through and think it's 50% terrible. I've reread other variations of it and I'm not quite sinking into despair, but certainly questioning my lengthy process of writing books, which involves writing the word count equivalent of five novels and then wondering what the story is about... 'What the heck am I trying to write' will be the focus of my thoughts as I breastfeed during these sticky heatwave days.

Luckily, my Pregnancy Diaries is more coherent! I've a complete draft to edit, and I'm inviting contributions and would love to hear your stories.

For those who would like to share aspects of their pregnancy, here's a questionnaire you can downloadYou can answer just one question if you like! Alternatively I can send you a word document or copy it into an email if that's easier for you to answer. Just email me or send your answers this August 2018 to 

If I use your comments, I'll send you a free ebook of the finished version. 

As Sol gets more active, I anticipate it will be harder to snatch writing time. My intention is to release the Pregnancy Diaries this year. My novel will take longer because I don't want to write a novel that you'd only read if you were stuck on a train with no battery on your phone - but a book which would make you miss your stop!

The little one has awoken so it's over and out from me. Thanks for coming back here after this very long blog hiatus...

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