Self-improving: it’s all bollocks!!

It’s the beginning of a brand new year. There will undoubtedly be lots circulating about new years resolutions, becoming a better version of yourself, self-improving ect. ect. It’s really all bollocks!! You don’t need to improve you’er already totally awesome!!! I have no idea where this notion that we as beings need to constantly tell ourselves we are not enough; not good enough, not pretty enough, not productive enough!! (Maybe the sociologist in me should research it?) The truth is we are enough. You right now, just as you are, you are enough. You are beautiful, you are unique, you have your own journey imprinted on your soul and your body which no other being has experienced. You have something to offer this world which only you can. Don’t set out this new year to change yourself or to improve yourself, set out to embrace yourself, to love yourself.

I have set myself 2 goals for 2018: number 1 to be happy and number 2 not to let fear steer my journey. I am so guilty of being afraid and letting that fear dictate what I will and won’t do. From voicing my opinions, to what I wear; I worry what people around me will think of me. I’m scared of being judged, I’m scared of being viewed negatively, a lot of the time I’m scared and I don’t even know what of!! So today I opened up one of my (many) un-used notebooks (I hold my hands up to having a slight stationary addiction) and wrote out a few mantras for myself. These included “Put your big girl pants on and go for it!” and “No Regrets!!” Hahaha!! Life is too short and the world we live in holds too much beauty to let fear sit in the driving seat.

I think we all need a little reminder sometimes to be happy. Our society places so much emphasis on making money, on owning material goods, on superficial beauty but we forget how important it is to feed our souls. So if you search for one thing in 2018 make it Happiness. Allow yourself to be happy, give yourself permission to pursue the things that bring you joy. The true beauty of happiness is that once you have gifted yourself with it you can share it, you can spread it around and watch it grow. Our world needs more happiness.

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So if you see me on the school run in feathers, sequins or head-to-toe fuchsia don’t panic, if I’m wearing a smile I’m happy so go with it I’m just embracing my individuality hahaha Charlie xxx

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Bursting my Christmas Bubble.

I have to hold my hands and say i got a little lost this Christmas in the idea of making Pipers first Christmas extra special. I have given the Christmas decs an update and the house looks beautifully festive. I have picked just 3 really special presents for Piper for her first Christmas and we had planned to go to the zoo to see Santa (our little family tradition) on Christmas eve for the first time with our 4 children. I did not think this would be the Christmas post I would be writing. But on Friday night Piper got admitted to hospital. As I’m writing this it’s Christmas eve we are still in hospital just crossing our fingers we can go home today and spend Christmas all together at home. My poor little baby got hit with a nasty cold and the d & v bug at the same time. She couldn’t keep any milk down Friday and she ended up with a really high temperature and become dehydrated. She is so much better now thank God but she gave us quite a scare!!

The last 48 hours I have spent in hospital with her and away from my boys has really made me think!! All the silly things we worry about, all the pressures we put on ourselves. Christmas day is a special day without doubt but honestly not because the house looks perfect or because there are the most fantastic, expensive presents under the tree. It’s about being with your family and the people in this world you love. The people who make your soul sing and your heart full. I know it sounds corny but honestly the real gifts are the ones you can’t buy.

The universe gave me a serious lesson these last few days. All the crap I worry about, all the goals I think are important to achieve are so irrelevant when it truly comes down to it. I had spent December shopping for the best presents for the children. I had spent hours search for, buying and putting up decorations to make sure the house looks amazing. I had brought the 3 boys matching pj’s for Christmas eve night and I would have posted pictures of them by the tree on Instagram showcasing my wonderful family Christmas. But the reality is if we aren’t at home, if our family isn’t all together it doesn’t matter how expensive or amazing the presents, or how beautifully the house is decorated.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get lost in a little bubble which in truth is fed by our consumer society. I will hold my hands up and say i was bouncing through December utterly absorbed in my bubble. Solely focused on Piper’s first Christmas and our first Christmas as a family of six being perfect. Well my bubble got well and truly popped!!! I just want to be home. I just want to wake up with my family all together and see my 4 gorgeous children smiling. Because the other side of this is that there are lots of families who won’t be all together. There are lots of families who spend Christmas with a child in hospital. There are lots of families who don’t get to experience the relief of knowing their child will get better, will be just fine. There are lots if families for whom it isn’t just a scare it’s a nightmare.

There will be presents under the tree tomorrow. There will be food on the table. But most importantly I’m just looking forward to us all being together and Piper being well. So mamas take the pressure off yourselves, don’t get stressed it’s not meant to be perfect. Give yourself and your family the best christmas present and just be happy and have a happy Christmas together.

Merry Christmas everyone love Charlie x

Motherhood is kicking my Arse!!

Motherhood is kicking my arse!! And then some!!!

It’s been a pretty tough couple of months for me. Now I know most people will think well yer you went and had 4 kids duh!!! But I feel like maybe I under-estimated how hard it was going to be with 4 or I over-estimated my capabilities as a mother because I am struggling. The reality is having 4 little people who need and want you is so intense, it literally doesn’t stop. Piper is such a happy, chilled-out baby we are incredibly lucky but she is still a baby who needs feeding and changing and cuddling constantly. Archer is about to turn 2 and is a full-on toddler-tornado!! He doesn’t stop from the second he wakes up he’s full of character and over-flowing with mischief!! Then there’s my big boys. Fin is in year 6 and while that means lots of exciting opportunities throughout this final year at primary school, it also means a hundred and one things for me to remember, organise and pay for. EB has moved into year 3 and needs a little adjustment time; school doesn’t suit him so it’s always a little work to make sure he’s happy and settled and not struggling. Of course everything I’m saying is just normal, everyday motherhood. But that in itself makes me feel like I should be able to handle it. Yet since my 2 big boys have gone back to school it’s been so full-on I feel like I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath.

Running late for school, forgetting things the boys need, losing letters, running about like a headless chicken, getting stressed, losing my patience and shouting at the boys. This feels like it sums me up as a mum at the moment and I hate it!! Friday I was so late picking the boys up for school; they were the last 2 children at the gate. I ran down the path lugging Piper in the car seat in one arm and dragging a screaming Archer in the other. Trying desperately to avoid making eye contact with any parents coming towards me having already collected their children happily, on time. In my head I’m thinking “I’m failing, I’m failing!!!” I constantly feel like I’m being judged by everyone around me; as that mother who went and had 4 children and now she can’t cope. She’s doing a shit job and letting her kids down and it’s her own fault because she chose to have so many children!!

I got the boys in the car and drove to the woods. I strapped the babies in the buggy, stuffed a chocolate bar in the 2 big boy’s mouths to stop their protests and we walked. We walked and we talked about school, about life, about dreams, about the weird funny things that go through boy’s heads. Archer got out and walked through the wood sometimes chasing his big brothers, sometimes stopping to pick up acorns. Piper slept. We laughed. We collected sticks. The crunchy, orange brown leaves providing the carpet for our therapeutic footsteps. And when the sun started going down we got back into the car and headed home. Smiling, happy and reminded why I love being a mummy so much.

Motherhood is bloody hard. It’s so easy to get utterly consumed by all the external factors and pressures. When it all gets too much just stop and go hug and kiss your children. Go for a walk, talk, laugh together. These are the memories our children will remember and cherish. They won’t remember us being late for the school run sometimes or forgetting the random carrot or sock they need for the latest innovative school project!! Remember you’re doing a great job. Motherhood is not about being perfect, you are allowed to make mistakes, to get it wrong. It’s about travelling the journey together, hand in hand, making memories, laughing, loving one another hard, and being their mummy and them being your babies. Always.

Charlie xx

A tribute to my Boy Tribe

I wanted to write this post because for the last almost ten years that I have been a mummy, I have been a ‘boy mum’ and all that could be about to change. With the arrival of baby number 4 we could be about to see a pink coated (I’m under no illusion my friends & family will hit the pink HARD after 3 boys) intruder in our lil boy tribe!! We have no idea what the sex of the baby is and I genuinely have no preference but if my days as purely a boy mum are numbered then I have to give a shout out to why it’s so damn great!!!

Firstly boys are straight up; I have heard lots of times how boys aren’t as emotionally complicated as girls and I don’t totally agree with that. What I will say is once you learn the code it doesn’t change, that’s how it is and boys say what they mean. So when your boy toddler hits you it’s because you made him mad, when he runs away from you it’s because he wanted to go wherever he was running to – it’s pretty straightforward!! If your nine year old tells you they are out of bed because they need to ask you a really important question, mostly likely it’s who do you think is a better footballer Ronaldo or Pogba? And if your 7 year old tells you he going to refer to a person as ‘Frank’ to which you respond but that’s not his name and your son responds “yer I know, I’m OK with it”. Guess what? He’s OK with it and regardless of his name he’s going to call him Frank!! That’s boys!!!

Secondly I have been introduced to a whole world of things I would never have discovered without my boys. Dinosaurs – bloody hell there are a lot of different dinosaurs and it is truly amazing how a 3 year old can distinguish between what I thought were “the ones with the long neck” “no mummy that’s a brachiosaurus and that’s a diplodocus!!” Stones – it is truly unbelievable the joy that a little boy can get from those hard, little objects and once that bond is formed just how successfully they invade your home. Thanks to their varying shapes and sizes they really can get squeezed into every item of clothing with a pocket, handbags, backpacks, the bottom of a buggy and just when it looks like you have run out of space you can fill up your brother’s pockets!! Mud – Once your little man is big enough to start exploring outside he will without doubt make best friends with mud and anything that might live in it; that includes stones again (obviously) along with worms and beetles. That sponge like toddler brain is in its element when it comes to mud. What’s the difference between dry mud and wet mud? How does mud feel squished up or rubbed in my hair? What does mud taste like? Boys do eventually graduate out of the initial mud stage to a more grown-up relationship whereby it becomes ingrained in their knees – permanently!! It doesn’t matter how much you scrub those knees that mud has set up permanent residence. Sticks – The uses for a stick are quite literally endless!! To start with they are the ultimate tool when it comes to mud and figuring out if what’s residing in the mud is still alive. As a weapon they cannot be equalled; whether you need them to be a sword, a bow, a wand, they are a little boy’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction inside or outside the house.

Thirdly the way boys love their mummy is absolutely beautiful. As a woman you will have had great loves in your life before you become a mummy; a father or maybe a grandfather, a husband or a handbag. Then you become a mother and you realise there is nothing on this earth that you could love as much as you love your children. But the way boys love their mummy is so pure and unwavering. For that short period in their lives while they are little you get to be their unchallenged number one. Through little boys eyes their mummies are real life princesses. There is nothing like the beautiful innocence of your toddler son telling you he’s going to marry you when he gets bigger because he loves you that much he couldn’t possibly imagine marrying anyone else. Or on the rare occasion you get dressed up being told how beautiful you look by your nine year old son. My boys are the first to kiss me better if I’m sad or hurt, they are the first to want to protect me from anything and everything (mostly their dad tickling me!!) and they are the only people in the whole world who look at me and don’t see my heaps of faults (yet).

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So while yes 8 months of the year I spend my Sunday mornings freezing on the side of a rugby pitch being a mum of boys is awesome and while a little girl would of course bring a whole new adventure for us to love and experience, I adore being a mum to boys.

Charlie xx

 

Preparing for a Realistic Birth.

I’m not going to lie I spend a LOT of time at the moment thinking about Labour! I am 38 weeks pregnant baby’s head is engaged, my hospital bag is packed, my sister is on standby to babysit, we are ready to go whenever this lil munchkin calls time!! The thought of giving birth again fills me with both overwhelming anxiety and utter excitement. I have had three vaginal deliveries, I know I can push out a baby, I know how earth-stoppingly incredible it is when your baby emerges and you become a mummy for the first time or again. But I also know that I do not handle the pain of child-birth well; I have always wanted to manage on just gas and air and have always had to have pethidine to get me through the 2nd stage. I have always wanted a water birth or at least to be able to get into the birthing pool during labour and have always encountered some little complication which has prevented this. To be totally honest I have always felt like I haven’t remained in control during my labours and been left with a feeling of disappointment in myself.

This is my last baby, my last pregnancy and my very last labour, so what am I hoping to achieve? I am trying to prepare myself for a ‘realistic birth’. In an ideal world I would love to have a water birth. I imagine a really calm atmosphere, me in the birthing pool, just Rich and a midwife in the room maybe some music on and most importantly me feeling like I am in control. I would love to feel empowered in my labour; a strong, confident mama who believes in her own abilities to birth her baby!! But there is also the flip-side; what I don’t want. I don’t want to have a C-section the thought of being cut open completely freaks me out, I have the upmost respect for all the mums who go through that!! I don’t want to experience any significant complications in labour or to have to stay in hospital once the baby is born. The thought of being away from Archer when he is so young and extremely clingy still is a real worry for me. And possibly most obviously I want to birth a healthy baby.

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So going back to my 3 previous labours while no I haven’t achieved my “ideal birth” I have been incredibly fortunate to avoid all the things I’ve wanted to (aside from staying in hospital 2 nights with Archer because he was so tiny). I am incredibly grateful for having experienced 3 straightforward births which have produced 3 healthy babies. So with my last impending labour I am reminding myself of this. My one failing in my 3 previous labours has been feeling disappointed in myself; I am not going to allow myself to feel that after this labour because I struggled or cried or needed strong pain relief to get me through it. Labour is bloody hard work, it’s incredibly painful and at times totally overwhelming. No woman is less of a superhero because of the level pain relief they require to get through it. No woman is less of a heroin if she requires assistance in any form to make sure both herself and her baby stay safe and healthy. Just like the baby born every labour is unique it cannot be compared to any other labour. Whether you pushed out a baby with no pain relief at home, you had every drug available in hospital or your baby was delivered by C-section it’s irrelevant. You made and birthed a baby and that makes you one hell of a…….I couldn’t think of which world to use here that does it justice which is stupid because of course it’s Mother/Mama/Mummy.
Charlie xx

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“If you want to change the world…” – After Manchester

It’s been one week since the atrocities in Manchester in which 22 people were killed. Like most of the country I sat and watched the news in utter horror that this kind of evil could exist in our world and that it had attacked innocent children and teenagers. As a parent this type of attack taps into your darkest, most terrifying fear; losing a child. And there were parents in our country, in some of our communities facing this unimaginable horror. My heart is broken for them.

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As a parent watching the reports on this attack, hearing the devastating news of the loss of life, seeing the wrenching images of grieving families; aside from my feelings of heartbreak and sorrow for those effected I felt helplessness alongside fear. Scared that my own children were growing up in a world where such evil exists and operates. A world in which as a parent you are rendered powerless to protect your children; the most basic of parental instincts. How do we as parents deal with that? How do we bring up our children in a world which can be so terrifying? And how should we react to such evil? Feeling so incredibly helpless where our children’s safety is concerned it’s not simply frightening it’s unbearable. Are we truly helpless? There is a very famous quote from Mother Teresa; “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” I believe therein lies our power; as parents we are raising the next generation. How that generation shapes our world and treats one-another is in our hands right now. As parents we have the ability to bring up our children to show kindness, to be accepting rather than judgmental of the differences we see within others and to stand up to the hate that spreads through our communities like a plague.

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As parents who have watched the atrocities of Manchester’s horrific terror attack on innocent children and teenagers; our future generation, we must find the strength to move forward shrouded not in fear but in hope. Hope that we can teach our children to be kind, teach them to love and teach them to except one another. Hate breeds nothing but hate. Let’s teach our children understanding, empathy and acceptance. We may never know the true extent of an individual act of kindness; just how big an impact it could have in driving hate out of our children’s lives, our communities, our world. There have been so many incredible stories of acts of bravery, of generosity and of love which have come from this act of pure evil. Individuals running towards the terror in order to demonstrate that love, that bravery and that compassion. Those people are true heroes and they are driven not by hate or anger but by love and kindness. Let us as parents raise the next generation of heroes not of haters.

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My prayers are with all those affected by the Manchester attack and I have added a link below to a justgiving page for those affected by the attack should you wish to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester

Charlie xx

 

 

Low Birth Weight Baby: My littlest love

As the arrival of baby number 4 is only weeks away we have been doing the standard get the baby clothes out of the loft for a good wash thing. Like all parents we started looking through the little baby vests and got that pang for how little our baby once was and how quick the time has gone. There are, however, a number of vests and baby grows in our box which aren’t little they are tiny. Because our Archer was really tiny when he was born. He weighed 4 lbs 14. Now Archer wasn’t a prem baby; he was born at full term, I was 39 weeks and a day. Ultimately Arch was healthy, something we are incredibly grateful for but having a low birth weight baby has brought some challenges for us and I wanted to share my experience for others mums who may go through this.

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Archer’s first vest, this was baggy!!

Firstly Archer was kept in hospital for 2 nights to keep an eye on his blood sugar levels; medical staff also insisted on giving him top-up formula feeds after I had feed him. This was difficult because as a family we weren’t really prepared for me and the baby to have to stay in hospital and I felt really guilty leaving my 2 older boys at home. In terms of feeding I knew he was feeding really well from me and I had committed to not letting him go longer than 2 hours without a feed because I wanted to exclusively breastfeed him myself. Yet the medical staff still insisted on the formula top-ups, I ultimately trusted their medical judgement but I didn’t feel that they way this is done is particularly supportive of the mother. A healthcare assistant came and sat on the end of my bed and fed Archer. Now I hold my hands up to being an insanely possessive mother but having a women I didn’t know feeding, cuddling and cooing over my new-born upset me.

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My big boys with one day old Archer in the hospital.

I don’t feel that having a low birth weight has affected Archer, he has developed totally in line with his age; he’s just always been small, on the 9th percentile for growth. The only area we have struggled with slightly is feeding. While he has always fed really well, he has been very sensitive to certain foods and suffered from reflux. While I was breastfeeding him I had to give up a number of foods because he just couldn’t tolerate them, including all spicy foods, cheese and coffee (coffee that was a killer for me exhausted mum of 3!!) Again when we weaned him he loved his food but he would get tummy aches after certain foods and we had to be very aware of what we gave him and try to keep an eye on what upset his little belly. There is of course no way of knowing if this was down to his low birth weight or not.

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My beautiful little baby boy with his Daddy

There are a number of reasons why a baby can have a low birth weight and the 3 main categories were explained to us as being some kind of infection during pregnancy, a health condition in baby or a fault in the placenta. We have never known the reason for Archer being so tiny, both him and me were healthy throughout pregnancy, no infection was ever picked up and they tested my placenta which all came back normal. As a mum of a low birth weight baby there are things I have found difficult. Firstly I had major mum guilt that I hadn’t done my ‘job’ properly in growing our baby. I worried that maybe other people thought I hadn’t eaten properly throughout my pregnancy or done something that had caused this. I do realise now that’s silly and I know none of my friends or family blamed me. Yet as a mum I did feel this sense of my body having failed in a way but the truth is it didn’t. You can do everything you’re meant to and sometimes things don’t go exactly as they should and not even the experts know why.

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Beautiful Boy, tiny but perfect

My advice to other mums who have a low birth weight baby; firstly the chances are there’s nothing you did wrong. Secondly you might not ever get an answer as to why it’s happened, and while this can be frustrating it’s also just life; us humans don’t know everything we forget that sometimes. Thirdly while you may face challenges with your baby because of their low birth weight so do all mums with their babies. These challenges simply vary, all babies are so wonderfully unique and that’s part of motherhood. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard or overwhelming we find things, we stand tall and face them down. There seems to be this unbelievable strength in us mothers when it comes to our children. Don’t forget that all you amazing mamas out there.

Charlie x