The Baby Chronicles – 8 Months

So far this period in baby girl’s life is my favourite. She is so alert, clever and responsive and she is learning everyday. She also has that glint in her eye like she knows she is brilliant and wants to get up to mischief. She’s the best person I’ve ever met.

Her new favourite thing is to pull on my hair or eat it, leaving me with sticky hair by the end of the day. It started off as cute but now she is stronger it hurts! The other day she also discovered she could hoist herself up into a standing position by holding onto my hands. Since then she gets bored sitting down and wants to do it all the time. Just a moment ago she thought my hair would be the best vehicle to help her hoist herself up. Double ouch!! Little monkey!

I have had to buy her a big girls cot bed as a consequence. She was sleeping in a small crib but now she is likely to climb out so she is in the travel cot, aka the tent of neglect, until her new bed arrives. The travel cot is brilliant. It’s like a large tent you can take to the beach or outside if you wanted, easy to assemble and can keep her trapped for playing now that she is rolling around. It’s also brilliant because she has this adorable way of settling herself to sleep. She likes to sleep on her side so she rolls over from right to left until she is settled. She always ends up on her left. She can’t do this in the crib as it is too small so she seems to sleep better in it. I hope she settles as well in her new bed.

She can say a plethora of fabulous baby words and noises, including mama. Her new favourite noise is to say ‘ Ha ha ha’ like a maniacal laugh. She also squeals sometimes and just today she mimicked. She copied me when I coughed. When I said ‘Uh Oh’ she tried to do the same noise. So clever! I can’t wait to hear her first proper words!

I am also now introducing more finger foods into her meal times. She loves nibbling on toast soldiers and can demolish a whole piece plus a massive bowl of porridge for breakfast. She also likes strips of chicken and cheese. She’s not too sure about cherry tomatoes, which usually land on the floor. She even decided to share her chicken strips with her mummy- she held them out and I nibbled on them. She thought this was hilarious, giggling wildly and now does it every time. If only I could eat her up!

Advertisements

Crush

I am too old for this kind of behaviour but seemingly I have a crush. He is hot. He is also 45, 10 years older than me. But he looks good and looks after his appearance – a bit of a silver fox!

I was dreading the date aswell. I joined a well know dating website 2 weeks ago and put as my age bracket for people I would be interested in as 30-40. He politely asked if I would reconsider for him. His photos looked nice and his profile was interesting but lets face it the photos could have been taken 15 years ago. So over a space of a week he worked very hard to get me to say yes to a date. Very charming. I commend his perseverance.

Nevertheless I was dreading the date because what am I going to have in common with a 45 year old? I still feel 22 half the time and although I’ve grown up since becoming a mum, I am very young at heart. I had visions of him turning up in a North Face fleece and awful Dadsie hair.

I was pleasantly surprised and fancied him immediately. The time went quickly but I’m such a novice at dating someone new and I’ve never done it through an online group. Was my topic of conversation boring? Was I asking too many questions about likes and dislikes rather than just chatting normally? Bloody hell – I’m also too old to be analyzing every thing that was said. There were obvious differences and not just our age but I felt comfortable in his company and he had a nice way about him. He also obviously didn’t mind that I had a very young daughter otherwise he wouldn’t have been there.

Now the end of the date was just as awkward as the awful first date but for different reasons. I had had a glass of wine on an empty stomach and was feeling a bit giddy. But he had been driving so had not been drinking so I had to contain my giddiness. But there was no let on from him if he liked me back. Am I one of those people who have no radar for these things? So when we said goodbye it was a pleasant kiss on the cheek and a ‘thanks and nice to meet you’. No date was arranged for another time.  But he did text later saying he had a nice time.

Now it’s been 2 days and still no text. Bugger. What are the rules on these things these days? Texting makes us more impulsive and immediate- gone are the days when you would see someone at the weekend but wouldn’t arrange anything until the Wednesday after. Or are they? Some friends have said he wont text again straight away as that is too keen. Others have said we’re too old to muck about so just text him to show you like him….Oh flipping hell, what to do??
Of course, knowing my luck, he is probably thinking  – “nice girl but do I really have anything in common with her?”….. Well he’s be right. We had zero in common but I think I’m just enjoying dating so want another one just for the fun of it!

All I know is I may not find a Mr Right from doing this online dating business but it is certainly giving me a confidence boost after the ‘Bombshell’ and is a very fun and well needed distraction. In the meantime I have another fella emailing me so hopefully there will be another date in the pipeline!

Six Months of Separation

This post took me forever to write – it is a well edited ramble of the crap that has whirred through my head the last 6 months. Friends and family have heard it a million times so I needed to dump and organize these thoughts onto paper so they are free from my mind. I can’t afford a therapist and I’m sick of these thoughts. I also wanted to write about my experiences to hopefully help others in a similar situation – even it is just to inspire them not to be bitter. Bitterness is a heavy load that I don’t want to carry. So, if my friends are reading this and I ever mention my ex and what he did again – just tell me to ‘shut the fuck up!” (in the nicest possible way of course). I’m getting on with my life……..

I hated being pregnant. I was exhausted, I was grumpy and I mourned my old life where I could do what I want when I wanted and I could play sport or get drunk and have fun with my husband, who was my best friend. Suddenly, we went from doing everything together to hardly anything. Instead of staying in and adapting with me, he found other people to do the things we did as couple. My moodiness was not all the time but occasional, although was exacerbated by a husband who wouldn’t adapt with me. But we had sweet times too, or so I remember and I genuinely thought my husband understood the burdens of pregnancy. My change was temporary. There was an end and a goal that we both wanted in sight. Apparently not.  By the time I was 6 months pregnant I could feel him slipping away and distance himself from me. I swept it under the carpet, telling myself that all couples like us must go through the same and that pregnancy and being parents naturally changes a relationship.

It is six months on from separating from my husband after finding out about his affair and he still tells me that it was partly my fault and that it is ridiculous to just blame pregnancy in order to absolve me of any blame. But yes, it does. Try it. Before I had been pregnant, I don’t think I understood the burdens of pregnancy or how vulnerable you are or fragile in the early days of motherhood, where I most definitely had the baby blues. The hormones & anxiety coupled with sleep deprivation and the physical exertion of pushing a human being out of my body was overwhelming. I was not myself. Yet, he still doesn’t understand. He has said he waited for the old me to come back: what a joke – 3 weeks after watching me give birth he jumped into bed with another woman.

But I suppose it’s easier to blame his short comings on me than admit to himself what an arse-hole he was to his partner of ten years, his wife, his best friend and mother of his child. What I will take the blame for is not talking about our fears and worries. I just told him to stop moaning as I was doing all the hard work. Although, would talking have helped? I used to tell him I felt lonely and seemingly he didn’t care. And I was doing all the hard work – he should have just grown a pair, played the long game and honoured his vows.

But there was more to it than my change in pregnancy. He was shitting himself. And I knew it. He thought his life was over. No more freedom, no more amazing holidays. He didn’t understand the long game of parenthood and thought that my change was permanent. He went out more, I had more anger and hormonal outbursts due to loneliness and so we both grew to resent each other. I didn’t like him much at this point but love is stronger than like and I figured we’d get through it once the baby came and the initial hard early days were through. We’d been together for 10 years and everyone said adjusting to a baby was hard. But how wrong I was. It just goes to show that unless you talk things through you can never know what really goes on in someone’s head. He totally did and emotional runner from our relationship and couldn’t even persevere for our amazing past, our potential future, our family and his own flesh and blood. He used to tell me he was the ‘King of manning- up’. What a joke. And then whilst drunk or hungover he made some very stupid and shortsighted choices….

6 months on and we are civil for our wonderful daughter’s sake but it has been a rollercoaster ride getting to this point. I know he regrets his actions every day.  I know this because he tells me. He’s not a bad person just flawed and weak. He also tells me that he knows he should have been stronger when times were tough and recognizes that my change was temporary. He also tells me he is not that happy and now our daughter is growing more wonderful he misses her and regrets it more as he wonders what could have been. He has also told me that he is not over me yet and seeing me twice a week when he collects our daughter leaves him in bits.  I know he still loves me and I him. We have a beautiful daughter together. You cannot switch off 10 years in 6 months. But it’s not the right kind of love and that rage I feel will always be between us. It will die down but what he did will always be there. The betrayal is huge and he is right that I would never really trust him again. And sometimes love is not enough. You have to like and respect the person you are with too.

Maybe he is just telling me what I want to hear. They’re just words. It doesn’t change anything and we both know it. I could never be with someone that weak and selfish having had to be so strong for myself and to raise our baby single-handedly. Ultimately, I have my wonderful daughter everyday and her love and joy is pure. She makes me happy and I still have love in my life.

In the mean time he is in a relationship with the person he had the affair with. My ex is very persuasive and could persuade you that black was white. I have no doubt from the beginning he has convinced himself and his immediate family that he loves this girl and therefore couldn’t stay in his marriage. As if it’s beyond his control. Love conquers all. So what? I’m sure he does love this girl now. He has put all his eggs in one basket and has little else and I know he doesn’t feel for her what he once felt for me. However, loving this girl doesn’t make him any less of an arsehole for what he did to me and by proxy his daughter by not giving her the stable family she deserves. And it certainly doesn’t make her any less of a home-wrecking bitch. Hopefully, he can redeem himself by being the Dad he claims he wants to be and our wonderful daughter can make him a better man.

From my experience 6 months on, my biggest advice to anyone in a similar situation would be to take your time in a divorce of this nature. I rushed into making decisions when I was still in shock and adjusting to motherhood. Before I knew it, I had thrown out my husband and had put our house on the market. 6 months on it’s sold, I live in a lovely rented cottage and now we are discussing divorce papers. I only consulted solicitors a week ago and I finally felt fully equipped with knowledge to go forward so that my daughter and I are not ripped off.  It also helped to wait to so that I was in the right emotional place where by discussions with my ex were just that and not blazing rows which get us no where.

I have also always thought it important to strike a balance between what is moral and what is legal. I need to be true to my nature and if I had listened to solicitors, some friends and my Dad I would be taking my ex to the cleaners in spousal and child maintenance. This is where I would also advise taking your time. Don’t make a rash decision in bitterness unless you are financially insecure, to shaft the other party. In my eyes, he is part of my life through my daughter for at least the next 18 years and so I don’t want further bitterness because I dragged our divorce out over hot coals in the courts. He is a good Dad, albeit part time and I can see the love for him in our daughter’s eyes when we are together. I will never bad mouth him to her or come between that love. She is too important to me. I suppose I am also fortunate that I am a professional with a well paid job and so is he, so the maintenance I receive will be more than adequate and that is even before the spilt of monies for the house. I’m sure others are not as fortunate. And I’m sure divorce is never easy, even if the ending of the relationship is mutual and not in such terrible circumstances as mine, whether solicitors get involved or an agreement is made amicably.

Discovering my husband’s affair when I was feeling so vulnerable as a new mum was totally devastating and it has hardened me. I suppose the strength I have had to find raising our daughter almost single handedly is not always positive and I have also not enjoyed not feeling myself in that respect. So, 6 months on I finally feel a sense of peace and relief that things are tied up and our futures are sorted financially. And my future in other matters – well, who knows….I’m enjoying getting my mojo back and attempting dating……Hopefully, there is someone out there who can soften my edges again. I wonder how many more adventures on my list I can tick off and how many more I can add. It’s only been 6 months. The world is my daughter and mine’s oyster!

426548_308597295934029_558035908_n    922926_332612213532537_1721197664_n

The (1st) Date

So I spent 2 hours getting ready: a long soak in the bath, manicure, pedicure and although my sister told me not to, I shaved my legs. Was that the curse that made my first date in 10 years bloody awful?

I guess I needed to get the first one under my belt. I was really nervous and tweeted furiously about my nerves and because he kept me waiting, the tweeting made it look like I was busy.

His photos did not do him justice: as short as me (I’m tiny), bad teeth, bushy eyebrows and far older looking in the flesh. The photos must have been taken yonks ago and he carefully chose ones where his eyebrows and teeth were not on display!

To be fair he was a very nice guy and will make someone very happy, I’m sure but he was just not my cuppa tea. He was not that bright (I’m bloody smart as), a bit rough round the edges and he talked non stop about himself. I dutifully asked him lots of questions expecting the same in return but no. Nada. Niente. Nothing!
So after one drink and only 1 hour later I made my excuses. And the end of the date was so awkward – do you leave with a kiss on the cheek? Do you tell them there and then you don’t want to see them again? I lied. When he said, “see you soon, yeah?”. I said, “Uh, yes of course” and scurried off! Oh dear.

Well, my sister did say it needed to be crap to make the blog more interesting – I hope I didn’t let you down sis?!

Blind Date

Two weeks ago a friend asked me if I was ready to date again. I categorically said no. At the time I thought I had too much on with baby girl and going back to work and that no-one would want to date someone with a 7 month old baby anyway.

Then the sun came out. In England when the sun comes out, the beachwear comes out, people wear hardly any clothes and men who have and have not got muscles get their tops off, even when it’s only 17 degrees. I felt happy and there was some outdoor drinking (just the one of course) to be done. Suddenly, I got a spring in my step, started wearing fewer clothes myself and perving on the men with no tops on. One of my friends was talking about online dating whilst we were out in the sunshine and so I thought, ‘why the hell not?”

It didn’t take much encouraging, so that night I signed up to a well know online dating website. This was unknown territory for me – I hadn’t been on a date with someone other than my shit bag husband for 10 years. I already liked it because it was safe. All done from the comfort of my living room and they don’t get to see you blush or grimace. I also liked the fact that I can set my stall out straight away. I’m a mum. I’m separated. You either mind or you don’t. Simple. The only problem was finding a nice photo of me, without the shit bag ex next to me!

Within seconds of finishing my profile and submitting the payment I had 3 winks- a bit like a poke on Facebook. But I can’t help feel that the men are really wankers not winkers. What’s the point? Shit or get off the pot and drop me a flipping email!

Within minutes I got an email from a rather nice chap. I liked his straightforwardness. He just emailed ‘You’re cute”. He is right of course, I am, so I checked his profile and all seemed promising. He has his own business, own teeth, own hair and like me is a parent so he is obviously not put off by me being one. Excellent.

So that very same night we emailed back and forth for a bit and then it dawned in me that I was knackered. It was way past my bedtime and baby girl is not the best sleeper so I’m bound to be up soon. It also dawned on me that I was already hooked. My self- esteem has rocketed and, just like Twitter I was connected to the world virtually. Oh dear me, I am a social media freak!

As the days went on I got more people emailing me. Some people either can’t read or are delusional. I had clearly stated the age bracket between 30-40 and 50 year olds were contacting me! I had also uploaded some really nice photos (granted they were pre baby but my figure is nearly the same) so some men with dodgy haircuts, mono-brows or a beer gut were clearly barking up the wrong tree. I just want someone who is nice looking, not a heavy set beef cake (I’m not a fan of a guy who’s a gym junky), has a good job, ambitious and values family. I also want someone who is literate, as you would not believe the crap that is written in the profile. I’m also a member of the grammar police and so not using your and you’re correctly is a no no! Now that might sound too fussy but I’m not delusional myself. I will not rule out divorced or if they have kids – afterall that’s me too. However, I will rule out a like for heavy metal music.

By the end of the week I am emailing a couple of nice chaps with one date lined up. My confidence, which has been shattered by my separation is coming back. I’m excited and nervous – it’s just coffee but its been 10 years since I’ve been on a date and I’ve never been on a blind one. I also wear glasses, which I won’t on a date so I’m a bit worried I wont spot him or recognize him from his photos and look like a right numpty. Oh well – the date is next week so I will let you all know how it goes. Now…what to wear?……

Maternity Matters: East Vs. West

I decided that life doesn’t stop when you have a baby and certainly not because you are a single parent. To me motherhood is a new adventure and so I decided to go on holiday to stay with a dear friend who lives in Hong Kong. I have always traveled to far-flung and exotic places and, within reason, I did not want being a mum stopping that.

As I was taking baby girl with me, my friend had arranged for some of her girl friends, some with and some without babies to come over for lunch. It was a lovely afternoon with champagne and delicious finger foods, which I munched on relentlessly.

It was not only lovely to meet some of my friend’s friends but it was also fascinating to discover and discuss with them how the other half live with babies. I was shocked to learn that mums in Hong Kong can only take a maximum of 10 weeks maternity leave. Say what?! 10 months, surely, I hear you cry. No. Ten flipping weeks. The thought of going back to work when my baby was only 10 weeks old horrifies me. In the UK you can take up to 1 year. I go back to work in July when my baby will be nearly 9 months old. That feels about right for me and of course every woman is different.

It was not only the length of maternity leave that is so different. If you are Chinese, extended family is very important and they will help to look after the baby if you are a  mum who wants to go back to work. If you are an ex-pat or rich you get the Phillipino maid/help to do it for you. Now, the benefits here are obvious – cheap and onsite 24/7 child care. In the UK, placing your child in a nursery is like taking out a second mortgage. Ouch. The other benefit is that if you are going back to work after 10 weeks the live in help can help with the night shift. You also have built in babysitters on tap.

However, I know I would feel massively territorial knowing that the helper was experiencing all those amazing firsts with my child: first roll, sitting up, weaning etc. I would loathe the help and resent not being integral to my child’s development at such a young age. Not to mention the fabulous baby and mother play and sensory activities that I am a part of in the UK. They are a great way to meet other mums as well as bond with your child and see them develop. They don’t seem to exist for Mums as they are back to work so quickly in HK.

Mums in Hong Kong also have similar pressures with breastfeeding as we do in the UK. One mum, who I had met, had been expressing furiously (moo!) every 3 hours for her 5 week old knowing that her return to work was immanent and she wanted to continue breastfeeding as long as possible as guidelines tell you to. Her freezer was stacked with the stuff. Admirable but even though I breastfeed I have never gotten on well with expressing and would have struggled if roles were reversed.

I go back to work in a few weeks and despite my myriad of pressures and dilemmas of becoming a single parent, moving home and an impending divorce, I am looking forward to different kin dof challenge again. But I will miss my maternity leave. Once the baby blues fog (and shock of my separation) had lifted, I have cherished every part of my time with my baby girl on maternity leave. I have loved experimenting with activities, weaning, baby meal recipes, swimming as well as going long haul on holiday and taking her and me out of our comfort zone. I have not enjoyed the sleep challenges and therefore grateful I didn’t have to go to work on top of being sleep deprived. I feel very lucky in my situation that I am from the UK and although statutory pay is nominal if your work does not have a good maternity pay package, it is better than nothing and adequate if there are 2 of you or you have saved for your little one. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/specialist-guides/technical-guidance/ni17a-a-guide-to-maternity/statutory-maternity-pay-smp/smp-amount/

People in the UK often moan about it because of the crap weather, tax or welfare system or European immigration and other such things. However, I am a real anglophile and love England and being English. Maternity leave is yet another area where I am proud and feel grateful that I am from and live in the UK.

On that note, I’m off to have a cup of tea, in a pub, whilst watching a spot of cricket and I shall then grab some fish and chips for my dinner!