Mud, McDonald’s & Mum-guilt

Mud, McDonald’s & Mum-guilt

At the beginning of the first lockdown I was optimistic. Armed with a tonne of online resources, a mountain of playdoh and gazillion zoom sessions, I was ready for the three month “stay at home” calling. But I really wasn’t. Firstly, It didn’t exist within some self-limiting bubble of three months. By the time the lockdown had officially been ‘relaxed’ we had to shield Elias. Secondly, the scary Mirror stories surrounding COVID in pregnancy were too much. At one point, you could definitely cut the anxiety in the air with a knife in our home.

Living in a two bed flat, it’s easy to feel like the walls are caving in on you, but lockdown really put the ‘cabin’ in cabin fever. I felt like a tiger in a cage. I can safely say it was and still is to some degree shit. I don’t want to ever have to do this again, just like the most of us who haven’t yet been driven to doomsday prepping. That’s all well and good, but our little humans have no clue what’s going on in the world.

To a point, that’s a blessing. I mean no one is going to look back fondly on having to wade through Boris’s delusional spew every tea time or having to fight Karen for the last pack of loo roll…Least of all remember how the virus ripped society to the Seams. But at least we know this is not normal. I could excuse the first three months of lockdown One as a write off when it came to how it would affect my daughter. But we are now facing a Hotel California effect of what feels like rolling lockdowns. With Arielle now 2.5, the Mum-Guilt is really starting to set in…hard.

M is for Mum-Guilt

The tantrums picked up. It was constant screaming, followed by a hurricane of toys being whirled around. It was inconsolable crying every single time our 3 month old cried. The night time wake ups kicked off again and my easy-going daughter became angry. Something was off. I put it down to a whole host of things, but in the end I had to accept that she just wasn’t getting what she needed to from life for now. It sucked. I had tried to make things more exciting – bought a tuff tray and filled a cupboard full of glitter and all sorts. But after Elias was born, I was spending full days away in hopsital. When all that was over, I was desperately trying re-establish the bond with Elias and keep the breastfeeding fire burning. Mental health became a serious problem. Parenting duties fell all too neatly between James and I- Elias with me and Arielle with him. When James’s workload suddenly picked up I realised I had failed. I had tried, but not hard enough with Arielle. Now I had to rebuild the lost connection.

M is for Mud

Rather than dwelling on what she was missing out on, I started trying to make the most of what was available to us. Outdoor space. We spent weekends at country parks and other places. I was quite uptight at first – scrambling to peel the mud off all of us in a race to the front door. I’ve let go a little now though. I accept that at least one child might be soaked- from puddle water or urine and I just get over it. We play hide and seek in the spaces set out by the trees. We go old school, collecting acorns, pine cones, twigs, oak leaves- what have you. I have never been a tree hugger but damn, you really can’t put a price on being out in nature. There’s something really refreshing about bringing it back to basics, and Arielle loves it.

M is for Mcdonalds

Another thing that I’m afraid to say we discovered during all of this mess is McDonalds. I’m a big fan of everything in moderation but we really took the piss. Healthy and wholesome trips to the great outdoors were almost always followed by a counterproductive trip to the big MC. We’d always get her something small, but it was enough for her to incorporate it into her imaginative play: “Come on Mummy, I’m driving you to McDonald’s” armed with Duplo steering wheel in hand. I felt bad.

We’ve reined the habit in a bit now. We still go, but not as much and it’s now seen as a treat rather than some place we go whenever we leave the flat. The car however is heavily decorated with McDonald’s paraphernalia and crusty mud- Mud-encrusted McDonald’s bags are a common feature.

We’re slowly getting into the swing of things as the second lockdown comes to an end, but I am constantly reminded that this CANNOT go on forever and just how much it can damage the children if it is allowed to. It would be a lie to say it’s all been bad- there have been some truly awesome times. There have so been some really really really shit times. The really good thing about having crap times is that it really put everything into perspective for me. I’ve muted all the Hinch Army Facebook groups- my place isn’t fastidiously clean anymore. As I write this my hair is falling out in clumps and holding onto an extra kilogram is the last thing on my mind

Elias’s Story

Elias’s Story

When Elias was born, I was utterly over the moon- I was also royally sick. After the cocktail of drugs I was given, I felt completely rotten, like I’d just come back from some insane night out. He was a bit small- 5lbs something, but we were told that there were no other concerns.

After a few hours, James got sent away and I had to face the reality of spending three nights on the postnatal ward by myself. As.we started to settle in, the paediatrician did the rounds. She looked at Elias and told me that he was breathing a bit fast and took him into the consultation room next door. I got bought in about five minutes later expecting the shtick about keeping an eye and what not. What I didn’t expect was to walk in to see my son fully wired up, all clad with oxygen strapped to face. “Your son is very sick” the neonatal nurse said. Everything came crashing down.

Elias got transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit downstairs. When I found him, he was incubated and the various wires rendered him completely unrecognisable. His breathing was strangely mechanical, and I quickly learnt that was because he was on a ventilator. The staff told me he had some sort of infection that would be confirmed with blood cultures the next day. They had started antibiotics but no one was very optimistic. They kept telling us that “there was always hope” and other awful cliche phrases when they wanted to dance around the truth.

A few hours later and he was deteriorating rapidly. There was a constant buzz of doctors and nurses surrounding him, behind this awful metal blind. None of them would talk to me, but would just look at me every now and then. Eventually I was told they were moving him to a specialist intensive care unit at Royal London. Things were bad.

The maternity unit didn’t want to let me go, but I didn’t want to stay in a ward full of women with their healthy babies. The matron didn’t seem to understand why I wouldn’t want to stay there when my son was in NICU in another hopsital. After a shouting match between me and the duty midwife with the word ‘inhumane’ being thrown around, I managed to discharge myself. The big joke was that they told me to be ‘careful’ because my body was still in a fragile state. By now, I had walked up and down copious amounts of stairs and post-birth recovery was a myth.

The first night at Royal London was the worst. Elias arrived via neonatal ambulance around 1 am and James and I were so tired that we fell asleep on the sofa in the parents room. The doctor took pity on us and found us a room for the night, but politely told us that due to COVID-19, only one of us would be able to visit a day. When we awoke, things had gotten very grave, resulting in several blood transfusions and maximum life support. From then on, James and I took it in turns to see him. One day at Royal London, followed by the next day at home looking after Arielle. When I was at home I was fraught with anxiety, and when it was my day to visit him, I felt completely numb. We lived from phone call to consultant round, hanging off every and any word they would say to us.

In an act of desperation, I turned to prayer and something worked because the tone of the staff changed. The antibiotics had started to kick in and his infection marker went down. The consultant explained it was now a question of “when” he came home and not “if”, and if he had any long-term complications. I don’t think I’d ever been so happy in my life. His blood cultures came back as positive for GBS – a strep B infection. Something I’d always thought of only as a sore throat but it can be lethal in babies. He also had a very severe case of septic shock which the doctor would later tell us was one of the worst she’d seen. Each day I would walk in, a piece of equipment had been rolled away. By day 5, the infant ventilator had been unplugged and by the end of the week we were left with nothing but a few wires and tubes.

Eventually Elias was transferred back to the Special care unit at Whipps Cross where I was greeted by the paediatrician who saved his life. I’ve never been so grateful to anyone before, and I honest to G-d wish I had taken down her name so that I could sent her a huge bunch of flowers- though that wouldn’t feel sufficient. The staff were amazing in making sure he learnt how to feed again, and It wasn’t an easy road. But after spending a few full days feeling like a factory cow and a some teething problems concerning keeping the weight on , we made it. To my detriment, I was told again and again that they didn’t think he would get through the first two nights, but he did.

I am so grateful my Elias survived this ordeal. I’m also so glad that when things were at their lowest with little hope that his team never gave up on him. The nurses who looked after him loved all the babies, and treated Elias as nothing less than a miracle. He was treated with such care and dignity that walking away from him at the end of the day was that little bit easier, though not easy at all. I have since read many other stories, and Elias was one of the lucky ones. I want to put this story out there to say that there’s always hope. Even when things are so bad that there doesn’t seem like a way out- there is.

It’s taken a very long time to write this post and I have about 15 different variations of this post sat in my drafts. It’s been a very trying couple of months filled with tears, confusion and thousands of nappies and we have had to shield and self isolate from everyone we care about, just like the most of us. I could not however be any more grateful for the screaming, refluxy baby that we have, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Truth about Staying Home

The Truth about Staying Home

Well hello there. Yes, it’s been a long time. Yes, I know you know that I haven’t had anything better to do so I don’t have an excuse…well I’m here now aren’t I?

It’s been a long and tumultuous few months. I could bore you with going through all the highs and lows in detail but I will burden you with that another time. For now here are some highlights: crying in the middle of a muddy ditch with my toddler daughter, crying because I miss Southend Road Tesco’s, crying because I ran out of snacks, crying because I didn’t get my own way. You get the general picture. There have been some good times too. Lockdown failed to ruin my daughter’s 2nd birthday, despite being at home we haven’t gained much weight and I am not clinically insane yet. Lockdown has also given me time to discover new things- good and bad.

In this post I will run you through some of the cool and not so cool things I have discovered during lockdown. DISCLAIMER ALERT* this is a blog post written in lockdown- limit your expectations and don’t expect too much excitement.

1. The Hinch Army

In all fairness, I have known and been following Mrs Hinch and her Hinching trend and its many Facebook groups for a long time now, but lockdown really enhanced the effort I put into all of this. With more time at home unfortunately comes more time to stare at your crumby carpets and dusty skirting boards. The need to clean incessantly during lockdown hit me HARD and I have definitely saved my landlord no money at all through all my dodgy DIY home improvements. I have all the cult classics such as the Pink Stuff and Elbow Grease and more funky stuff like laminate wax crayons and grout marker pens. My daughter has also made friends with the hoovers which is a bit jarring.

2. Overseas Zumba influencers

Again, Zumba is not a new interest of mine but lockdown has turned my ‘workout’ attention to an exclusively male, Filipino dance crew who seem to have the clout of BTS and the wardrobe of every TikToker ever. I have been following their YouTube workouts religiously, dancing to all the latest Reggaeton hits only to find out the English translation and end up crying in the shower that very evening. But on a serious note, I owe any fitness I have to them. It can all be a bit cringe but their enthusiasm for dance is something I haven’t yet witnessed in this part of the globe. I’m not sure what they’d make of a heavily pregnant woman desperately trying to keep up with their clean-cut dance moves however.

3. Perfect parenting pros

So another thing I discovered in depth was the big wide world abyss that is professional parenting. Owing to my daughter’s sudden onset of explosive tantrums, I decided to take to Jo Frost’s ‘toddler rules’ series. In all fairness, I cannot fault Jo for her methods, though I found that introducing them into our life wasn’t as clinical as they make it out to be on Supernanny. For example, what to do when your daughter finds the ‘naughty spot’ hilarious and a great place to be.I also followed a handful of influencers- who seem to live in an almost Olympia like world in which immaculately clean homes and children peacefully co exist, and baby weight is a farce. The most invaluable thing I probably embarked on was a Level 4 Child Psychology course which helped me not only to understand my daughter better, but also why I went for teaching in the first place. It’s great to see some of the apparent glitz and glam that accompanies Instagram parenting, and black and white methods but understanding how a child’s brain works has really been fascinating.

4. Not going out turns you into an psycho

I’m going to apologise, because this could just be me. But for a long time the ‘Stay at home’ message hit home too hard for me and I decided to forgo going outside altogether. This inevitable decreased any risks to do with the virus, but I’m honestly not sure that it was even worth it. At one point I struggled to open the windows and anything that came into the flat had to be heavily disinfected to an inch of its life. All of this had me obsessing over accidentally touching ‘outside’ things in case the disinfectant didn’t touch any part that I was touching. All of this came crashing down at a scheduled Antenatal appointment in which I was suddenly prodded by health professionals after 2 months of no contact.

So yeah, that was me in a not-so-small nutshell. I guess I also rediscovered that pregnancy sucks and that being heavily pregnant with a toddler who loves to kick can be sometimes problematic. But another time.

Trying to get it right

Trying to get it right

So it’s definitely been over two weeks into the ‘not’ lockdown that isn’t a lockdown, but technically is. With Boris in bed and Nigel Farage losing his shit in his pyjamas over being under ‘house arrest’, everything is completely up in the air right now.

I thought I had things down. For a few days, things didn’t seem so bad. I was enthusiastic about being at home for a while and I had a bucket load of resources for us to start with. Soon, I realised I’d been lulled into a HUGE sense of false security. Explosive tantrums and disrupted bed times routine turned everything completely upside down- as if it wasn’t already, and by Wednesday I was crying in a ditch with a toddler in a muddy field.

I thought implementing a new routine would be the thing to do. So I found an EYFS template and took it to my living room. I mounted our itinerary on a thick piece of card and proudly stuck it to the fridge. My optimism was met with bitter disappointment when it did not go in anyway to plan. Trying to split the day into 30 minute segments was the worst thing since VAT. I felt like I was completely ‘on the go’, except without caffeine and with a toddler who said no to everything..

I gave up and tried to loosen things up a bit and in all fairness, breakfast and singing went well. But everything else fell apart and before I knew it, everything after lunch time was just one big Mish mash of prolonged TV, muddled toys and jumping off the sofa.

I wanted to cry- I did cry. The explosive tantrums were not getting any less frequent, and I felt like I had absolutely no control over the situation, or my defiant toddler (or my hormones). Nothing seemed to work and it only highlighted the fact that she was not happy about being under house arrest. I felt so guilty. I was in the prime of my pregnancy, and this was the time where I wanted to be getting out and about together before the baby came.

It’s now week three and we’ve reached a comfortable solution (for now). I splashed the miniscule cash I have left on one of those ‘tuff’ tables for crafts. We do one proper (to two) activities a day on that table… And guess what? Sometimes it’s a complete waste of time and she couldn’t give a monkeys, but so what? We do some singing, some playing and sometimes absolutely F all. Who cares in reality. No one is bossing it right now, that’s for sure.

‘rainbows’ it’s the trying that counts

I’ve given up trying to blame myself for Arielle being stuck in. I did not create this virus. Plus unlike us, she wakes up ready to start the day without any prejudice or pessimism. She sees her dad more, and we work more than hard enough to just get the food on the table in a time where the only thing left on the supermarket shelves are second rate crisps that someone has probably put back. The one thing we all need right now is some TLC, not to start a dictatorship in your living room.

A Different Sort of Mothers Day 🥀

A Different Sort of Mothers Day 🥀

So it’s almost been a full week since we’ve been in social ‘lockdown’ and we are probably all a few pounds heavier and have a few brain cells fewer for it. I’ve exhausted myself, probably everyone else in the household, with particular attention to my poor debit card.

The hardest thing so far has not been being all couped up together, but the general change of routine. Not being able to visit my own mum, and not have the freedom to do the things we usually do in the day is devastating. It’s mad to wake up everyday and think that I’m not able to set foot into even the local Tesco to get a pint of milk, and have to stay away from people at all costs. Even my own family. The worst part is, we have no idea for how long.

The cherry on the cake is that it’s Mother’s Day today. If I could just postpone it to another time maybe six months down the line where we’re not living under house arrest then all would be fine… But I have no control over national holidays, nor am I American. In 26 years, this will be the first Mother’s Day where I will not see my mum, and if I’m honest it completely sucks. For me and the hundreds and thousands of other people that don’t want to take any chances.

It would be a lie if I said that today isn’t a reminder that I feel like a failure. I know that I am obviously doing what’s best for all of us in the long run by keeping us away from normal life and the ‘outside world’, but a 2 year old doesn’t understand that. I cannot reason with a toddler, the answers aren’t simple enough for her to comprehend. She knows we’re not going out as much or making our regular trips and I can see she is clearly frustrated. The tantrums are becoming more frequent and explosive, and I can only hope that we all get used to this way of living.

I was looking forward to spending my second trimester doing lots of things with my daughter, before the exhausting bit of pregnancy took hold. I guess now I can look forward to spending all of that under one roof with the space we live in getting smaller as I progressively swell like a huge balloon. Oh well.

This whole thing is also making it pretty difficult to prepare for a new baby. I’m constantly worrying about what might happen, or if my baby will be okay. With this being my second pregnancy, naturally I have not paid as much attention to the actual pregnancy as I did with my first. That, I have learnt is an unspoken given. With this thrown into the mix, it could be easy to completely forget that we have another one on the way. That is a sad thought. The world is a scary place right now and I have so many questions. How the HELL am I supposed to prepare for a baby when it feels like I’m stuck in a recurring nightmare…

So here I am on the evening of Mother’s Day. Somehow I am exhausted, my hands look like E.T- if he was sunburnt and I am crippled with antenatal angst and anxiety. It would be a lie to say that things aren’t 50 shades of crap right now, but I’m sure that lockdown will teach us a few things and help us to appreciate our immediate family a little more. At least I hope.

The Lockdown Diaries Begin: Week 1

The Lockdown Diaries Begin: Week 1

Yesterday was the first time that I heard those dreaded words in relation to my my situation: self isolation.

When the government went from zero to a hundred real quick in relation to their stance on high-risk groups, it meant that my partner, daughter and I would have to self-isolate. Being pregnant in any normal circumstance is difficult, but finding yourself in the midst of a pandemic whilst expecting is nothing short of traumatic.

I guess I’d say you’d be really unlucky if two of your worst fears came to reality. Well here I was in my now very real nightmare world: A visceral fear of germs and a fear of small spaces. It was because of the first thing that the latter had to happen, and that ‘small space’ was our little London bedroom flat. ‘fortunately’ I am still able to venture out- just not to any shops and I have to make sure that I am 2 metres between other people. I just want to add that this extremely difficult for someone who doesn’t carry a metre stick or trundle wheel with them on leaving the house.

Its now Day Two of the ‘lockdown’ on pregnant women and those who are high-risk and I feel tired. Tired and drained. I was lucky enough to take Arielle to the field next door to our flat today and no one was there but a few dogs- I know with the impending school closures we might not be so fortunate. It makes me sad to think that I am having to be creative about leaving the house. Going out at 7 am would be madness, but if its the difference between that and staying in then I’ll take it.

It is seemingly hard to find a middle ground between spoiling my daughter and there being absolutely F all for her to do here. I must have spent 100s in the past few weeks on my daughter but I’m slowly feeling the walls close in on us as if we don’t have enough to entertain her busy mind.

My partner came back from a shopping trip with not even a loaf of bread. Shit has got real… Well that really takes the bread out of breadwinner doesn’t it. All jokes aside, I found it hard not to well up and really gave the rest of the day a dark undertone. No one wants to feel like they can’t provide for their children. We ended the day by watching approximately 4 hours of a Ted Bundy documentary. Surprisingly, it managed to not to sink the mood any lower. That’s really telling you something.

It’s Day Three and I’m feeling a sense of welcome calm which is… Welcome. Maybe I am in deniable about what is really going on in the world at the moment, or about the fact that we could be shut up in this tiny flat for up to six months. I decide to get out all the play animals and live stream footage from a zoo in the US. It was nice to see the word ‘zoo’ without the ‘nosis’ at the end of it. That was definitely a positive. A really kind woman bought us some full fat milk for Arielle as we couldn’t find anything – that definitely restored some of my broken faith in humanity. We then put our daughter to bed and rented that Zac Efron film about Ted Bundy. It certainly didn’t lift any spirits but gave us something to do for at least 2 hours.

Day Four: Its Friday morning and if I’m honest, I just don’t have that Friday feeling at all. The skin on the back of my hands is chapped and dry as hell, and the overall condition of my skin is just… non-existent. I take my daughter to play in the field across the road, we get some much needed fresh air and then retreat home for lunch. We spend the rest of the day doing different activities- I can already see that Arielle is bored. I decide it’s a great idea to spend the rest of next week’s budget (yes, you heard it) on a tuft tray and some sparkly sand for Arielle. Clearly I am deluded as she isn’t even two yet. Sometimes I think that I’m subconsciously getting these things for myself so that I don’t go off my head.

In other news, we decide that we’ve had enough of Ted Bundy programs for this week and perhaps a very long while and instead settle for some YouTube content from people probably way younger than us.

This week I’ve been alot more cheerful than I have been recently. This might be yet another delusion, or infact the calm before the storm but it’s been a welcome break. It could also be that I’ve been so burdened with anxiety for the last month about what will happen that maybe I’m actually surrendering to house flat arrest…

Malala, Greta, Rosa and err………me?? ♀️

Malala, Greta, Rosa and err………me?? ♀️

With International Women’s Day been and gone, I’ve been left thinking about my own role in all of this.

If I’m going to be real, it’s fairly obvious I am by no means an inspirational person- in fact, I am staggeringly average. By the age of 13, my strong point was probably answering back and wearing black 7 days a week. I certainly wasn’t putting the world to rights like Greta Thunberg. But my role is still important.

Being a parent means that I have a crucial role in shaping my daughter’s life. From the minute you give birth, that clock starts ticking and everything you do will influence your child however big or small. If I do an okay job, I have confidence that Arielle will grow up with little more than teen angst and an apathy towards her parents. If I mess up, my actions could have profound consequences on her future life. But this mustn’t be taken for granted.

A few years ago, I did what I want when I wanted to. I spent most, if not all of my money entirely on myself and going out. My biggest problems were probably who said what to who at the Student Union bar after a boozy night and the only thing that kept me up at night were the mounting essays. I was ‘young’ when I found out I was pregnant, but that didn’t mean that I could stay acting like a complete party head.

I had to effectively ‘snap out of it’ and spent 9 months preparing myself for the scary, scary world of parenting. Almost two years later, and I have an extremely healthy diva of a toddler who knows what she wants and when she wants it. I’m not in ANY way taking the credit for this, the point that I’m making is that being a role model starts starts at home. It doesn’t mean having to be First Lady or the first female astronaut. Being a good role model as a mother is gold- and figureheads are nothing in relation to this.

I am also not calling myself Mother Theresa. I am loud, sassy and was once described as a ‘Rottweiler’. I have had MANY mental health struggles and setbacks of some sort. But hey, I’m still here and I’m trying my best… And that’s good enough. I have days where CBeebies is on for waaay too long and I’m losing my shit somewhere in the background, and others where I’m completely hands on. I’m sure Jo Frost won’t be proud.

But I can safely say that I am a better person now… Simply because I had to take a good, hard look at myself when my daughter was born. Things like a negative outlook, a lack of responsibility for our actions and bitterness are all a goner. Obviously these things don’t make you a bad person but they really are toxic for children and that’s something I didn’t want for my daughter.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the drama but also monotony of everyday life and slip into habits. Sometimes you do just have to check yourself. There have been times where I’ve caught myself unnecessarily bitching about someone and have had to think… Is this what I want my daughter to learn from? Being a ‘good person’ doesn’t come naturally to me, but I sure have to make a good go of it while staying true to myself.

By aspiring to be a good role model, I hope to teach Arielle some key things about life. In a world filled with uncertainty and mounting pressures, I want my her to feel like the world is full of possibilities for her and that there is always hope. I won’t however kid her into thinking it’s a perfect place. I don’t want her to become caught up in league tables and numbers, but I equally do want her to have aspirations- however big or small. What I want above all else is for her to be comfortable in her own skin- one of my biggest achievements after many years . In whatever she wants to do, I want her to occupy her space and that is something that I hope I can instill in her.

Selfishness: the pandemic that’s swept the world

Selfishness: the pandemic that’s swept the world

How your reaction to Covid-19 and your shopping behaviour says something about you as a person

When the Coronavirus became talked about in the Media, I remember the first thing people were saying was, “it’s in China, don’t worry”. Whilst at that point, the disease was limited to the far East, I struggled to understand some people’s lack of compassion. For some, the numbers of cases/deaths were nothing more than statistics in the paper, totally forgetting that this was many people’s reality.

In times like these, I really believe that people’s true colours begin to reveal themselves- it is easy to see the true nature of a person in these sort of situations. I get that we all have a base survivalist instinct, but when did that morph into selfishness and a complete lack of empathy for others?

Its only the old and the sick who are worst affected

This unfortunately has become a common phrase amongst many on various social media platforms. I honestly wish that I was making this all up for dramatic effect, but sadly I have seen this ‘saying’ used complete with the cherry on the top- “only” the old… it kind of reminds me of the phrase Stalin used when he explained that ‘only’ 5 million Russians died in the war…(hint: Stalin wasn’t a great guy).

Since when have we started to reduce the MANY people with underlying health conditions and the elderly to nothing more than a casualty waiting to happen. Everyone knows at least 3 or more people with basic health conditions. I could probably name at least ten. Alot of people, good and bad have health conditions- so we just leave them to it??!! Come on guys.

Ontop of that, the most of us either still have or have had grandparents in our lives- since when were the elderly ‘destined’ to go in this way. And guess what, believe it or not all of us will some day BECOME elderly….whaaaat. sorry to drop that bomb shell on you all, but how would you feel if no one cared about your well-being just because you were ‘old’. I hate to drop another one on you, but if you don’t care about the elderly then you are a bad person.

I’m going to stockpile everything I can in the supermarket.

Yep. We all know a few and have seen some self righteous selfies glorifying their exploits. In this outbreak, doing something like that will earn you the same status as a trophy hunter, I’m afraid. If you’re going to make a fortress of toilet paper, don’t take a selfie of it. Better yet, give some of it to people around you who can’t afford to stockpile food and are perhaps less able to clash around the supermarket and carelessly take everything off the shelves.

Stockpiling is not only selfish, it incites panic, and causes more people who otherwise wouldn’t have done so to… you guessed it, stockpile. When I went to the local supermarket, everything with any sort of anti bacterial property had been ‘erased’ from the shelves as if it had never even existed. Toilet paper, Baby formula, nappies, tinned goods, cleaning products, pasta… GONE. All that was left were the boxes which were in a huge disarray on the shelf. It looked as if someone had let a bunch of rhinos go to town in a store lock-in.

What made it worse, is most of the people I saw attacking the shelves were not rhinos, at risk groups or the elderly. They were fit and healthy looking young to middle age women. If this had been allowed to happen in wartime Britain, thousands would have starved to death. Those same people who adhered to the rations system in the ’40s’ are the same people now that we have to look after. Don’t be a hoarder.

I’m ill but I’m going to go out and go about my daily business as usual

We’ve all done it. But having the sniffles is a world away from spreading your flu-like symptoms everywhere. Until now, we had forgotten that people die at that hands of flu. It is no joke. I have heard stories of people walking into their GP after having travelled to at-risk areas, people not washing their hands, people ignoring self isolation. It’s a shame to say that some of us are so eager to ‘get what we can’ that we are happy to infect anyone an everyone we come into contact with, however vulnerable. Don’t. Be. That. Person.

If you’re reading this, maybe think about how some of your actions influence others. You going to work sick could result in someone getting seriously ill. You stockpiling could lead to a new mum panicking that she can’t feed her baby because there is no formula left. Just be a decent person and think about others around you too.

Is pregnancy overrated?

Is pregnancy overrated?

It’s a mediocre Thursday morning. I feel hungover- without the alcohol and good time. I get my daughter dressed into a fresh set of pyjamas and let her get on with her day.

As I go to dress myself I instinctively realise how much weight I’ve gained. I see a beer belly- not even a bump, and my arms look like someone has inflated them with a pump. Not a pretty sight. The irony of this is, is that I’ve been sticking to my exercise regime and eating rather healthily. Sure, I might be having a few more spaghetti strings than I would, but nothing too exciting. Still, I cannot ignore those new eager love handles.

I put my sense of injustice on hold and try to turn off the little Joe Wicks inside my head telling me to get some more exercise in. If it was just that, then maybe it would be one thing but in pregnancy it rarely is just the one thing. The truth was, I’d been suffering with heart palpitations from an arrythmia for weeks. This wasn’t dangerous but anything could set it off and it was scary. I’d do a single squat and my heart rate would be through the roof, the smallest amount of stress would have the same affect and I was almost blacking out when I stood up sometimes. I was told to ‘avoid stress’ which is impossible with a toddler and a looming pandemic and to lie down when I feel it coming on. This is all well and good, but I just don’t have the time for acting like a Victorian woman in the era of hysteria, who has her corset on too tightly. Life has to go on.

Maybe it was caused by the new angry persona I seemed to be modelling. Within 5 months I’d gone from being a reasonable and rational human being to the most highly strung person in the universe. Anything could set me off: rude people, nice people, rain, sun, bad news, good news. Waking up in the morning was enough for the mini Stormzy appear from inside of my head to the tune of Big for your boots . When it wasn’t anger, it was tears. Lots and lots of them. Suddenly, when I was the world’s most angry human, I was Mother Theresa. I would cry for anyone- I could feel anyone’s pain. I could also just cry pointlessly over sounds and shapes.

Some people love the feeling of being pregnant- like I loved my first one. You can feel empowered and beautiful, but you can also feel vulnerable, deflated and just rubbish. This time was definitely pay back for how I got away with it so easily last time. Someone somewhere definitely had a cruel sense of humour.

Being already a mum to an under two means that it’s alot harder to look after yourself in the way that you would with your first- pamper time is all a thing of the past. This was also a good thing, because this time I wasn’t so fussed about accidentally tasting a bit of unpasteurised cheese on my sandwich or about the temperature of my shower. But it’s impossible to have a mid day nap with a toddler.

Valentine’s Day: A day like every other

Valentine’s Day: A day like every other

Picture this: you are walking into a forest clearing. The weather is gorgeous and the leaves around you are a beautiful green colour. Up ahead the sun is roughly the same size as the moon shots in love island- suddenly you hear a crack. Except it’s not a crack, it’s the sound of your partner’s disgust as reality bursts into your dream.

“Arielle has peed the bed” he says with disgust. “It’s all over my back”. Great.

Not only has my dream been shattered to pieces, but I will now have to spend the next however long running after a damp toddler and after that, disinfecting half of our possessions. It’s Friday, and not only that it’s Valentine’s Day. I could be upset that was woken with a profanity rather than roses, and that the first thing I had to do that morning was clear up piss rather than prosecco (forgetting I’m pregnant)… Neither of us would exchange cards and presents until the end of the day. But did any of this bother me? Not in the slightest.

Being a parent in itself completely clashes with all the fundamentals of ‘valentines Day’. There is nothing sexy or glamorous about co-parenting. Cleaning poo off the carpet is not at all sensational. Valentine’s Day requires the very opposite: romance and grand gestures and probably clean carpets.

It could be sad to look back and think about how different your relationship was pre-children…when there was time to focus on the both of us as a couple. After the initial elation of having a tiny baby that was ours, reality set in like a bullet to the eye and times could be tough. There were arguments, dismal discussions, banal decisions and we realised that love and our relationship takes hard work like it never did before.

In the evening, we exchanged our presents and cards and ate a fabulous M&S meal that my partner bought back for us. There were no surprise engagements or last-minute long weekends, just a toddler arranging Playmobil animals on the TV stand while we ate. Would I change a thing? No.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t really be all about romance because when you really love someone, romance can sometimes be dead. It should really be about friendship above all else and binge watching your latest TV fix into the early hours of the morning (and feeling crap the next day). Sometimes it’s more about “oh crap, we’re still here together” rather than Shakespearean sonnets and the moon and stars and all that.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels