Wednesday 26 August 2009

A mother's journey

You wake up one morning in your early thirties, after years of anticipation wondering when this day would arrive, and you have a warm glowing sensation inside. You feel exultant but terrified. This is the moment that you realise that both body and mind are completely ready to begin a whole new journey.

You buy the books on how to get pregnant, drastically change your diet, drink lots of water, walk up a mountain every day, and have lots of sex. And all the while you are slightly preoccupied with thoughts of whether or not conception has occurred. Then you get your period, and feel a tiny bit gutted.

The following month your period doesn’t come and you try really really hard not to get your hopes up. Thoughts about whether or not you are pregnant completely consume you, and you constantly feel like you have butterflies in your tummy. Then you pluck up the courage to confirm the pregnancy either way.

The doctor tells you that you are indeed pregnant. You are pregnant! This is without doubt the best and most surreal day of your life so far. You cry tears of joy for several days afterwards, and cannot quite believe it to be true. After the initial euphoria you feel scared. What if something goes wrong. What if you miscarry or the pregnancy turns out to be ectopic. Or the doctor is wrong. At the same time you are desperate to tell the world your news. It feels like you are harbouring the biggest secret ever.

As the weeks go by you watch in wonder as your baby bump gets bigger and bigger. You attend each antenatal check with anticipation, and the first time you hear your baby’s rapid little heart beat you are overcome with emotion – it is mind-blowing. You spend the duration of your pregnancy with a protective hand across your tummy, you try to imagine what your baby will look like, you talk and sing to her, and you feel huge excitement every time you get a little kick or a prod. You eagerly await her arrival, whilst eating nothing but crisp and dairylea sandwiches. You cannot wait to meet her.

You give birth to your baby and look at her for the first time, in total awe. You laugh and sob, and your heart is pumping so hard you think it’s going to explode. Your baby is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. She immediately looks for the breast and lies across you, skin to skin, for several hours. The bond between mother and baby is instant.

For the next few weeks you and your baby are inseparable. You spend your time feeding her and sleeping together with her curled up on your chest looking safe and as content as can be. It pains you to hand her over to well-meaning friends and relatives because you don’t want to be apart from her for more than a second.

The months go by and you and your baby get to know each other inside out. You know when she is hungry, tired, uncomfortable, annoyed, or in need of a change of scenery. You know every little mark and crease on her body. She knows your voice and your smell and rarely takes her eyes off you. She squeals with delight and gives you a big beaming smile every time you appear into view, and she gently paws you with her little fingers as she feeds. You and your baby share private and special moments whilst the rest of the world sleeps.

You spend every waking moment with her and so you see her first smile, first chuckle, first wave, first clap and first steps, her first everything. You sit up with her in the middle of the night cradling her because she is cutting a tooth, or because she has a cold. You are fiercely protective of her, and you feel hurt by the odd person who is insensitive and disrespectful of your role as her mother. You feed her, bath her, play with her, change her nappies and read and sing to her, and make important decisions for her. But most importantly you love her, more than anything else in the world. A pure, unconditional love between mother and child.

And then one day you realise that you love your baby more than she could ever love you, more than anyone could ever possibly love anyone, until, that is, she wakes up ready to begin a whole new journey of her own.

Friday 21 August 2009

Growing up

Last night I told Betty off after she persistently refused to get undressed for her bath. I was tired and hungry, Betty was tired and pushing boundaries.

Having given her one last chance, I pulled the plug and let the water out of her bath and abolished her bedtime treat which is normally a sweetie of some sort.

I hastily put her pyjamas on and in my cross voice told her to get into bed immediately, which she did without hesitation. As I put the duvet over her she looked at me and said ‘I want a bath mummy’. I could see her little eyes welling up as she held back the tears –something I have never ever seen her do before. Usually she will either cry or whinge if she doesn’t get what she wants.

My heart felt like it was breaking. She suddenly seemed so grown up and vulnerable and self-aware, and not the toddler she has been up until now.

And when I thought my heart couldn’t be pulled anymore, still fighting back her tears she said: ‘I'm sorry I was naughty mummy. Can you get into bed with me?’

Friday 14 August 2009

The Buttons do Butlins

Butlins very kindly invited us to the launch of their new Ocean hotel and spa in Bognor Regis, with a couple of nights’ accommodation thrown in too.

They put us up in the Premier Inn in Chichester the night before their launch at Bognor. We arrived after a torturous six hour journey. It took this long because Betty (who is usually a once a day-er) decided to poo all the way down the M4, the A34, the M3 and then the M27.

Tom, Betty, Dolly and I were all in the same rather small room which scared me slightly, but I reasoned with Tom that the experience would toughen us up and be character building.

Three of us had to share a bed (albeit a very large outsized one) whilst Dolly was given the choice of two cots. Betty and Dolly both slept really well but Tom and I did not. It turns out that Betty sleeps like a starfish and so we were both clinging onto each side of the bed for dear life all night long.

The following morning as we were getting dressed, the launch was mentioned on the TV news. I got very excited and texted friends and family saying: ‘The Butlins launch is on the national news, I’m gonna be on TV!’ At breakfast we tried to guess who were bloggers and who were real hotel guests (Single Parent Dad, was that you in the lift with me when baby Dolly was losing the plot?), then we left for the Ocean Hotel.

This £20million, 4 star hotel is pretty impressive: spacious, fun, colourful and clean (so much so that our house now seems embarrassingly filthy in comparison). One of the first things that you experience on entering the hotel are the musical lifts. Seventies disco heroes like ABBA and the Village People serenade you in thirty-second snatches between floors. Much to Tom’s embarrassment Betty would try to get him to dance with her every time we entered them, no matter who else was in there. She also loved chasing the fish on the interactive reception floor and the children’s area in the hotel restaurant, where she tried to get Tom to drink his manly pint of beer sitting in a toy car. Betty also devoured the breakfasts which is a pretty good endorsement as she’s not normally a breakfast person, and she had the staff running around after her, fetching her more orange juice and croissants.

The launch event was great, if surreal – lots of journalists in suits, and bloggers surrounded by children – and the entertainment was fantastic, although the human sized squawking seagulls scared the hell out of Betty.

In the evening, with both girls fast asleep in bed, and Tom babysitting (i.e. reading his book via the changing coloured lights in the bathroom) I went off in search of a glass of wine. I went for a little wander around the camp and saw some of the entertainment but couldn’t help wishing that my secret crush, Shane Ritchie, was still a Redcoat. By the time I got to the hotel bar I was so tired I could hardly put in my order: ‘Wine. White. House. Dry.’ I was also feeling very self-conscious as I still look about 7 months pregnant. The waitress whispered something to her manager which I can only assume was something like ‘Is she safe to serve?’ before handing over the glass of wine. I then went and sat on the terrace and watched the sun setting over Butlins, and looked at the campers in all their finery heading out for the evening’s entertainment and thought: ‘Is this what our holidays have come to? Sitting alone with a glass of wine, staring out at some empty fairground rides.'

However it was nice to be able to have a glass of wine and not have to think about driving home, and that night all four of us had the best night sleep we have had for months. I didn’t hear a peep out of Betty, Dolly and Tom for a solid 12 hours.

On the last day I had my complimentary spa experience where I met some of the other bloggers for the first time whilst freezing our tits off in the snow cave with next to nothing on in minus 16 degree temperatures or sweating like pigs in the steam room. It was quite a surreal setting for meeting ladies that I have only ever chatted to online before.

The hotel was fun, the service was great and it was a real treat to have a holiday paid for by someone else. Thank you Butlins.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Normality and loveliness

I feel things are ‘normal’ and running smoothly again in the Button household. We have emerged from the haze and have adjusted to having a new little baby in our midst, and are nicely in a new routine.

Dolly is so chilled out and will happily gurgle and kick around on her play-mat for hours. And although she is sleeping amazingly well at night, I do miss terribly the early weeks when she would sleep on my chest all night long, curled up and snug.

She is a real mummy’s girl, but also adores a doting Betty, and is slowly warming to Tom! Watching their relationships develop and the little interactions between big and little sister is like nothing else on earth.

I cannot believe how fast the time is going, she is almost 15 weeks old. I'm desperately trying to cling onto these lovely baby days for all they’re worth, as realistically I don’t think we will go for a third (although I am already making noises to Tom about it maybe not being such a bad idea to carry on procreating).

These are very special times.

Monday 3 August 2009


The last few times that I have told Betty off for either lobbing her dinner across the kitchen or doing her tightrope act along the back of the sofa, she has looked at me for a good few seconds, and then with a furrowed brow and a concerned little voice has said: 'Oooh dear, mummy's tired - go to bed mummy'.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Artful Betty

Betty has shown remarkable artistic talent from a very early age, but it still comes as a surprise to see her creations.

The other day she sat down and, ‘at random’, dipped her brush into the paint and came up with these pictures. She sighed as I heaped praise on her.