Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Turn and turn about

Today is my last Wednesday staying at home.

From next week, we are making another change to our domestic set-up. I am returning to work four days per week (I temporarily dropped down to three days when I returned after Monty's stillbirth) and my husband is going part-time, to work four days for seven months, until our daughter starts school.

This change means that we still only need three days of nursery care and each parent gets one day with our daughter. We also preserve our family weekends.

I'm excited about the prospect of being at work a bit more. I've just taken on a new project and am looking forward to the challenge and to getting my teeth into a policy area in more detail. Working the extra day means that I won't have to give up any of my existing work in order to do the new project, so I can add a string to my bow. However, it does come at the price of spending fewer days at home with my daughter. (And I had kind of got used to spending more time at home than in the office.)

It will be a good change, though, because my husband misses the one-to-one time he used to spend with our daughter. When I first returned to work after she was born, I worked four days per week and he worked three long days. So, he had two daddy-days and he loved them. He is very excited about regaining his quality daddy time and our daughter is looking forward to having him at home during the week. They have already planned a long list of adventures for their Daddy-Daughter days!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Rapunzel

My daughter has very long hair. She is three-and-a-half years old and I've never had it cut (except for a very minor trim of wispy ends about a year ago). When she was a baby, she had hardly any hair and, being blonde, looked bald until she was 18 months old! I guess that's partly why I'm so reluctant to have her hair cut now. Looking at it tonight, I realised that it almost reaches down to her bottom!

I had long hair until I was about 9 years old and then my mum persuaded me to have it cut into a chin-length bob. I wore it like that for a few years and then, through my teens and twenties, alternated between longer and shorter hairstyles. Since I turned 30, I have settled for a simple, shoulder-length style with a few layers cut in for 'body', although I vary my fringe each time I visit the hairdresser.

I like to see long hair on little girls and I think my daughter's long, blonde hair looks beautiful. She definitely takes after me in the hair stakes - it's straight and fine, which has some advantages and some disadvantages. One problem we've encountered is that her hair gets very tangled at night. Perhaps she tosses and turns on her pillow a lot? The solution has been to plait her hair after her bath, so she sleeps with it tied back.

My husband is usually in charge of the bath-and-bed routine, so he has had to learn how to braid hair. He cottoned on very quickly. I sat on the bathroom floor in front of my daughter, he sat behind her. I plaited my hair and he copied on our daughter's hair. Bingo! A perfect plait and he now does her hair most mornings, too. (He has since seen the YouTube video of a Dad vacuuming his daughter's hair into a ponytail but our daughter isn't keen on that approach...)

We have to tie our daughter's hair back for gymnastics and swimming classes and have found that it stays in better condition if we tie it back every day. Otherwise, she comes home from nursery with sticky bits and tangles! So, now it is routine to take out the night-time plait each morning and re-do her hair in a daytime style (which, sometimes, is a new plait).

I think I'll have to take her for a hair cut before she starts school in September but I will probably opt to keep most of the length. It is very handy to be able to tie it back and long hair means a wider range of styles is available. In the meantime, she looks a bit like Rapunzel!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Brave, Open & Hopeful

I have 'graduated' from bereavement counselling: completed the programme; been signed off; released from the system, set free!

It has been a long journey. I wasn't planning to seek counselling but a friend told me I should go. She said that six months after Monty's death, I seemed angry. I didn't think I was but, looking back, I can see that I probably looked very angry with the world. I had just returned to work and wasn't coping very well with the annual performance review, setting forward objectives or thinking about 'where did I want to be in 5 years' time?'. In reality, I think I was extremely frustrated.

So, I promised I would attend a couple of sessions. I actually went many times over six months. I could have easily turned away for so many reasons but I kept my promise to my friend and actually found the process very helpful.

In the first session, I completed a depression scoring test. Guess what? I was mildly depressed! (No surprise there...) I set some aims: to deal with my anxiety and fear about a future pregnancy and to deal with my anger and frustration. I also expressed three desires: to have another baby; to achieve a work-life balance that would allow me to make the best of my time as a mummy and as an employee; and for something positive to come from my loss.

My last counselling session was in the early New Year. We looked at some emotion cards and I had to choose three that expressed how I felt when I started counselling and three that expressed how I feel now. There was a difference. (Phew!) At the end of the process, I said I felt brave, open and hopeful. Brave for having taken the plunge and sought counselling when I didn't want to. Open for having talked honestly about my experience and my feelings with a stranger. Hopeful for the future.

My life is different now in so many ways to what I thought it would be like. I never expected to be a bereaved parent but I believe I have learnt a huge amount through losing my son. I have made and lost friendships, I have found inner strength and I have developed new perspectives. I have navigated my way through a difficult first year without Monty and feel better equipped to face the second.

I hope to help others by sharing my experience.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Book review: Poo Bum

At face value, you would not expect "Poo Bum" to be a work of literary genius. Yet, it contains two plot twists and a surprise ending that had my toddler laughing out loud!

My husband bought the book for our daughter on advice from a colleague (who likes it so much he had a Poo Bum t-shirt made). It was out of stock for quite a while on Amazon but, eventually, he managed to order a copy and it arrived earlier this week.

We sat together on the sofa for the first read.

"Once there was a little rabbit who could say only one thing..."

The book starts by introducing characters, starting with the 'hero', a little rabbit who only says "Poo Bum", and his family. One day, the rabbit meets a wolf and the story gets a little darker.

We weren't expecting the wolf to eat the rabbit (plot twist #1) or for the rabbit to re-emerge later in the story fully articulate (plot twist #2) but these changes kept us guessing as to what would come next and where the story would end. As it turned out, the story ended with a surprise - a new word that left my daughter giggling uncontrollably on the sofa and begging for the story to be read again.

Already, she has almost learned the story by rote and can easily recognise the key words 'poo bum' on each page. It's a new favourite bedtime story and the grandparents were forced to read it several times over when they visited.

It's not big or clever but very funny. As a silly story to enjoy together, it gets my vote. (I'll just have to make sure to remind my daughter not to shout 'poo bum' at nursery...)