Thursday, 29 October 2009

In bed

I've started sleeping with someone else. Someone I knew I would eventually come to know intimately but kind of assumed our meeting would happen further down the line. I am in bed with a devil named Guilt. You're a mother? Well then I'm sure you know this companion well.

I am leaving my baby. I am abandoning my heart, my love, my raison d'etre. And a part of me is happy that I am leaving. Enter Mr. Guilt.

Off to Paris for a few days to sort out the stuff I have left in my old apartment. The main "stuff" being the child's bed I bought for my prison sized room, the first big piece of furniture that I purchased with my own money when I was 22 years old with my future children in mind.

The original plan was for Eloise to come with me, but due to a passport snafu she's not ready for international travel just yet. I know my heart is going to break at waking up Saturday morning and not being able to see her Oh My GOSH - It's YOU again!!! face.

What am I thinking leaving this kid?

Yet I am also looking forward to having more than one glass of wine, to not smelling of milk vomit, to wearing perfume and unsensible shoes, to sleeping in. And of course I am full of guilt at having these feelings. Most of all I look forward to seeing her again.

Wish me luck. More importantly wish Eloise's father luck.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


I put Eloise in her big crib while I went to the bathroom to get ready to go out. She wasn't too happy about it, but I knew she was safe and so didn't mind too much that she was crying. When I came to her a few minutes later, she had pushed her body so that her head was pressed against the bars of the crib. Not the most comfortable of positions and I immediately felt guilty for having left her for so long. I quickly picked her up and calmed her down when I noticed it. Two symmetrical dents in her head from where the bars dug into her skull. I knew kids were impressionable, but this?

Sweet unsuspecting little Eloise

The dents didn't last more than an hour, but it got me thinking about how much power I have to make or break this person. I could have changed the shape of her head for the rest of her life for crying out loud. Think about all the damage I could unwittingly inflict on my beautiful daughter. What if she picks up my emotional instability? My laziness? My appallingly poor math skills? What if she becomes an overweight lush with a weakness for men with accents?

And then there's her Father. She could pick up his OCD. His inability to throw anything away. His need to be overly cautious with nearly all aspects of his life. But then she could pick up his unbelievable kindness and generosity. Eloise's father is the nicest person I have ever met, and if one of the "dents" we leave in her is his kindness I will be so proud of my child.

Of course if she doesn't inherit his kindness she can always sit with her mother at a cafe terrace and make fun of the people walking by while drinking an unladylike quantity of rouge.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Top 5 Things That Helped Me Through My Pregnancy

As soon as that pee stick turns blue you spend the rest of your gestation period anxiously waiting its beautiful bloody end with a gorgeous baby. Which is why I find it kind of strange that I have certain moments where I miss being pregnant. I miss having an excuse for being fat. I miss being treated like precious cargo. I miss wondering what my baby will look like (for the record Eloise, I am very pleasantly surprised).

So as I've been thinking back on my pregnancy I thought I'd offer my Top 5 Things That Helped Me Through My Pregnancy:

1. Dream Genii pillow. I hated not being allowed to sleep on my back. In the third trimester I couldn't even if I wanted to, because the shooting pains lying on my back caused in what I can only assume were my ovaries were right up their with the worst of the worst of contractions whenever I was on my back for even 3o seconds. This pillow helped me stay off my back and made sleeping on my side that more comfortable. I'm now using the pillow while breastfeeding, so it's certainly been put to good use. (Thanks Mom!)

2. Goldfish Crackers. Making sure that I always had some food in my stomach was the best way for me to ward off that lovely misnomer morning sickness. My first trimester I was training a few of my colleagues and hadn't let the cat out of the bag about being pregnant. I brought goldfish crackers to the training sessions under the guise of being a good hostess to my trainees. I of course ate the majority of them. I also had to make different excuses for the numerous bathroom breaks.

3. Boursin Cheese. The food restrictions are a tough one to swallow (ha!) and I missed my goats cheese and Roquefort (not to mention the accompanying wine). I only wish I had found out earlier in my pregnancy that Boursin was pasteurized. It helped me through some rough times.

4. Walking. Obvious, right? Exercise is good for pregnant women. I just didn't realize what a great thing my daily walks were until the final days when Eloise was pinching nerves in my legs making it near impossible. Being able to put in my iPod and walk (waddle) as far as I could manage was great for clearing my head and feeling independent - which is key when you have to ask people to tie your shoes.

5. The NHS. Ooo look at me getting all political. Now I haven't had a baby in any other country than England, so I have nothing to compare it to. I'm sure there are better (Hej Sweden!) and I know there are worse, but I was beyond impressed with the service I received here. A dedicated midwife to go to for check-ups throughout my pregnancy (with 2 home visits after the birth), access to physical therapists for my pelvic pain, and a lot of options from the hippy dippy natural home birth to the plug that epidural in as soon as I enter the hospital birth. And then there's the appendectomy. A week in the hospital, fantastic treatment, and I leave without paying a thing. And the actual birth of course. My midwife massaged me with aromatherapy oils for over an hour. An HOUR.

I would love to hear your dealing with pregnancy tips. I might be crazy, but I plan on going through this all again at some point. And having to deal with little Miss Eloise while being pregnant - I'm going to need all the help I can get when that bridge gets crossed.

Friday, 23 October 2009

To all the outfits I've loved before...

This past week we have been slowly replacing the 0-3 month clothes for the 3-6 month clothes. Not only are her clothes less expensive than mine (and lets face it, cuter), but I get to change her wardrobe every 3 months!?! Babies are a fashionista's dream.

Here are some of her past ensembles.

Petit Bateau top and vintage overalls (Nearly New Sale with the NCT).

Same vintage overalls as above paired with matching white shirt and vintage winter hat (model's mother's)

Handmade red romper from Bolivia, Trumpette socks from Denver, vintage grey tights model's mother's.

Green romper with pink flamingo detailing.

Same green romper as above paired with green leggings from Huggalug.

Handmade Bolivian sleeveless romper paired with white long-sleeve Sainsbury's t-shirt and Trumpette socks.

Beige peter pan collar shirt from Vertbaudet paired with brown and pink polka dot pants.

Sainsbury's jeans with pink floral detailing paired with vintage striped hoodie (charity shop).

Autumn dress from Catimini.

T-shirt from NYC paired with vintage red winter themed sweater (model's mother's).

Terry cloth pyjamas with white and pink hat and mittens (all Sainsbury's).

There's a lot of outfits I never took pictures of, I'll need to be sure to take more for the next batch. Most of these were gifts or hand-me downs. I'll be treating her to some new clothes this weekend (after my haircut - yay mama time!).

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Troiseme mois avec mademoiselle Eloise

Eloise -

When I was thinking back on this third month with you a song I learned in camp came into my head "...second verse same as the first, a little bit louder and a whole lot worse!". While I wouldn't say it's been worse, it certainly has been louder. You have a set of lungs on you kid - something the neighbors keep reminding me of every time we bump into them outside. Yeah, thanks, I know. I have front row seats to the cacophony of noises that come out of your pretty little mouth. For the rest of my life. In fact the other night we had to change you after you'd fallen asleep in my arms downstairs before putting you to bed. You hate it when we have to wake you up. We hate it too. But this time, you really hated it. It was the first time we heard you yell in anger. You've cried and screamed in frustration of not getting what you wanted, but this scream was something else all together, you weren't just crying, you were yelling at us. You started out crying as usual, but then realized that your normal cry just did not convey the level of pure anger you felt at us, the changing table, the world, and so you pushed your vocal chords to a new level just to be sure we understood just how mad you really were. And I know we shouldn't have, but we laughed. You were so pissed off - this little tiny angry person. It's so great to see you express yourself. If you can get this angry at your parents when you're 3 months old we're going to have to make sure we live in an area that does not allow firearms when you're a teenager.

You are also turning into quite the flirt. Long gone are the days when you could only manage a sleepy smile at me with a belly full of milk. You smile at the strangers that tell you how beautiful you are, you smile at the other babies we hang out with, you even smile at your stuffed animals every once in awhile. But only when you're on speaking terms with them of course.

You rolled over for the first time two days ago. I've been struggling to get you to enjoy tummy time until I finally decided to flip you over on the changing table after I change your diaper. You'll happily raise your head and look around, then rock and roll back and forth while I sing and clap and make funny faces. The rocking and rolling got stronger and stronger until one night, boom, you were on your back, staring at the ceiling. You didn't even seem surprised, just happy at the change of view.

I'm trying my best to live in the moment with you. To squeeze you close to me when you burrow your head in my neck. To smell the sweet innocent scent of your breath, a mixture of warm milk and freshly cooked pasta. To revel in the smiles you give me on the changing table when I'm wiping your adorable pink little butt. I can't help thinking about what's to come though. I get teary-eyed just imagining being able to sing with you, to dance around the kitchen together, to create imaginary worlds in a sea of sofa pillows and blankets.

Throughout your life you're going to hear me tell you that I love you. One day you're even going to say it back to me. But you won't know how big, how strong that love is until you might have children of your own. You'll take my love for granted. And so you should. I want you to feel so comfortable in the knowledge that I love you that you don't even give it a second thought. Kid, you have made me happier than I ever knew was possible. Just try to remember this when you are 16 and screaming at your father and me. Screaming like a baby getting their ass cleaned when they'd rather be sleeping.

Je t'aime,


You have just managed to move up in the ranks. I do believe Mickey is getting worried.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

My body is a wonderland...

...if by wonderland you mean an amusement park that a small child has run around in causing havoc and irreparable damage.

They tell you that pregnancy and childbirth do a number on your body, I just figured that since my body already came with extra padding, I wouldn't notice the changes as much. Silly moi. You really don't know what you have until it's gone. For the first two months, my ankles felt like tooth picks, my hips felt like they could pop out of their sockets whenever I twisted my body out of bed and that ever sexy pelvic girdle? Non-existent. It's only been in the last few weeks that my hips finally feel like my own and not those belonging to a 93 year old.

I did push-ups for the first time the other day and I've never felt so weak. I used to be able to easily do 10 good push-ups - proper ones, not the stupid girl ones - this time I fell after 4. My core feels like a wet noodle.

A book said to wait 3 months after birth to start dieting or exercising, and I listened to that advice because 3 months sounded like ages and this way I got to gorge myself on ice cream and lemon cake without any guilt. If you're breastfeeding it is recommended that you eat 500 extra calories. I have made sure that those 500 extra calories come from the naughty part of the food pyramid. In three days though I will be at the 3 month mark. Out goes the bowls of Phish Food and in come the sit-ups and rice cakes. Turns out 3 months isn't that long. So I am looking for some ideas for a "last dessert" if you will. One calorific gooey mess of a dessert to end all desserts - something to keep me going until the next excuse/kid comes along.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Stop looking at me, pillow.

Whenever I take a shower I put Eloise in her bouncy chair in the bathroom with me (scarring her for life no doubt). She usually gives me about 20 minutes or so before she gets fed up with my hygiene routine and wants the attention back on her. Often during these 20 minutes she engages a small pillow hanging on the handle of our bathroom door in conversation. The pillow was a gift from my mom and says "I'd rather be in Paris" and has a picture of the Eiffel tower on it. She'll crane her head to look at it, babble away and smile. Today however she and the pillow were clearly in a fight. I don't know what the pillow did or said to upset Eloise so much, but she was staring at it and screaming. So I jumped out of the shower and closed the door so the pillow was outside of the room. The crying stopped immediately and she turned her attention to the little dangling woodland creatures hanging from her bouncy chair. They are still on speaking terms at least.

I have to warn future pre-school friends of my daughter. If an inanimate object can so quickly fall out of miss Eloise's good graces from one day to the next, then I fear any friendship with her will be quite the bumpy ride.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I'm too sexy for this dress

Posting has been a little slow because Eloise has decided to either forgo her afternoon naps all together or decide that my lap and my lap only is the place to recharge the baby batteries.

So while I've been struggling to find time to write, I haven't been struggling to find time to dress my baby like a little doll and take pictures of her. Ladies and Gents, I give you Miss Eloise - baby model agogo:

Don't look at me.

We're going for cute here, right?

Am I showing too much diaper? I don't want to get a reputation...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Oh my goodness!

I was going through some pictures on my iPhoto to see if I wanted to edit any. My uncle has been going through old photos and sending a few of them to me, which I then put into my iPhoto library.

I came across this picture of my mother and me when I was about 5 months old:

And then this one of Eloise:

It took me a minute to realize it was my daughter and not me. But on further inspection it is so great to see the many differences between us. I cannot wait to watch her grow into her own little person.

I knew motherhood would be hard work, and I knew it would be an intense love but I had no idea how exciting motherhood would be. I spend large portions of the day feeling giddy at just the idea of what is to come. Not just giddy, but ohmygoodness! ohmygoodness! how many sleeps till Christmas? kind of excited. The holidays, the first words, the first swim in the sea,the first trip to the zoo, the first time we bake cookies together, the first time she holds my hand to cross the street, the first time she hugs me back - the list goes on and on.

I had also come across pictures of the Frenchman and me on our last holiday as a childless couple. And instead of feeling a longing for what used to be I thought : ohmygoodness ohmygoodness one day we get to take Eloise to the Aquarium to see the fishies!!!!!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I hold her in my arms and rock her and speak to her and will her to sleep, depserately needing to separate myself from her so I can become human again - take a shower, or a nap, maybe eat a hot meal for a change. And then as soon as she's lying in her pushchair or her crib, I miss her terribly, find myself looking for her if she's not in the room, need to feel her warm head pressed into my neck, or feel her tiny stomach push against mine with each breath as she nurses.

I never knew it was possible to miss someone while they are sleeping at the foot of your bed.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

My toes hurt. Why? She's keeping me on them.

Living with an infant is a crash-course in flexibility. Just when you get used to a certain bedtime, they decide to stay up till midnight. Or when you start to inwardly gloat at how easygoing your baby is, they decide to spend then next week doing one of two things: crying or regurgitating curdled milk.

Or there are days like this when after a couple of difficult, cranky baby days, she decides to take a 4 hour nap (allowing her mother to express 2 batches of milk, make a vegetable soup from scratch, serve and eat the soup, read a chapter of her book while drinking a cup of tea, do the dishes, and take a walk to the grocery store) and then when I put her down for the night wide awake, assuming she'll take ages to get to sleep due to the 4 hour nap, she calmly sucks her hand for a bit and then nods off.

Expect the unexpected is the first lesson Eloise has taught me. Never be lulled into a false sense of security. Nor should you assume the worst is here to stay. Whether times are good or bad, this too shall pass.

My advice so far? Do not boast when times are good - they may be fleeting. And when times are bad make sure you trust your Second-in-command.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Baby Brain

Baby brain is horrid. It is exactly as it sounds, the baby has taken over your brain. My vocabulary has dwindled down to nothing, thanks to to a combination of spending the majority of my day with what is essentially a doubly incontinent mute (albeit a darn cute one) and less sleep than usual. I struggle to communicate on an adult level.

When (if) Eloise finally goes down for a nap I am frantic with a list of a dozen things I want to accomplish. Like eat. Vacuum the floors. Update the blog. Do the dishes. Pump some breastmilk. Sleep. Exercise. No, really, I should vacuum. Or maybe clean the bathtub. Take out the recycling. The laundry. Book that massage. Fill in her nursery application. All before she wakes up. And I freeze as soon as I put her down trying to figure out in what order should I do these things to best maximize the undetermined amount of free time my daughter is granting me. Will it be 10 minutes? 3 hours? Why don't these babies come with a timer???

How bad is it? Once my multi-tasking to eat and take out the recycling got some wires crossed which is how I found myself standing outside in the middle of the garden holding a banana with no idea why. I am one sleepless night away from being that mother in mismatched slippers wearing a cross between a muumuu and a giant burp cloth in the canned fruit aisle asking strangers if they sell stamps here.

I never wanted to be one of those mothers who can only talk about their children. I always pictured me to be a well rounded, funky mother, who could just as easily shoot the shit about the latest novel to make the shortlist of the Man Booker prize as she could her babies, well, shit. Turns out I can't. Even more surprising is I don't want to. I honestly thought at this point in motherhood I'd have at least 2 or 3 blog posts about cooking or a movie I saw. Look around people...I am obsessed and this blog is proof. I mean, why the hell would anyone want to talk about some stupid book when we could be talking about my baby. Have you seen her? She can poop and fart - at the same time! She can smile and cry within seconds of each other. She can hold onto my finger and lick my face when she's hungry. Why would anyone in the history of the universe want to talk about anything else than my daughter Eloise?

I am aware that I am delusional. I see your eyes glazing over when I discuss the different colors and textures of the goo that comes out of my kid's butt. It's the same look I get when you actually answer my half-assed attempt to discuss that novel that I don't really care about. But believe me it is not my fault. It's good old Mother Nature pulling a fast one on us again.

One day you're living your life as a grown-up. Going to work. Meeting up with friends over a pint (or 6). Trying that new restaurant every one's been raving about. Sleeping in. Getting your nails done. Then blam! You're a mother. And you have a blob of a tiny person who can do nothing on their own bar filling up a diaper and crying and they need YOU and only you to survive. So how do you go from living your fulfilled adult life to all of the sudden caring for an infant? How do you change your life so drastically from freedom to complete slavery to one person? Mother Nature flips a switch in you, that's how. The baby blinders go on, the hormones start raging, you fall so deeply in love that not only do you step up to the task of caring for this child and leaving your old life behind, but you wake up every day excited to do so. And sure, there are moments you miss the old life. A few hours down at the local does sound nice. But you know you'll choose the dirty diaper over the pint of ale every time.

How could you not?