The Patchwork Mess

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I am having a real low at the moment and I don’t feel there is anybody I can talk to. Options are limited, people are either too wrapped up in their own affairs, too far away or not impartial seeking to defend their own interests.

Last week I was alone with baby girl and we had such a nice and peaceful week. Baby was at her happiest, did not complain once and slept from 6 to 8 in the morning every night and two hours during the day.

Now A is back and my stepson and the last two days have consisted of nothing but arguing and baby picks up on this, is restless and whiny.

I know if I could live like last week, things would be okey. But that isn’t a reality. The very harsh reality is that if A and I ever split up, I would either end up in a council flat or working fulltime with Ella in daycare every day. Chances of me getting a job back in my home country are getting slimmer and slimmer each year. The thought fills me with dread, transforms itself into a ball of anxiety inside me that I can’t seem to get rid of.

If I was by myself I would probably float on, as I used to, to the next place. I seem to function best on my own. I don’t seem to have the patience or the energy to muddle myself with another person and become a unity. I feel I have been losing myself in the last year. I am serving a purpose, I am serving to provide and care. 

I feel increasingly unsatisfied, for the first time in my life I am not working, financially dependent and it scares me.

And the big issue, the only thing that ever brings these big arguments into our relationship is our patchwork situation.

A has always has this big desire for us to be a big one happy family, for everything to be equal.

But how can it ever be equal? Stepson is with us one week and then with his mum, he has a whole other life, a whole other family there. A different set of grandparents, aunts, friends.

I am supposed to act like a mum, but am never treated or regarded as one.

And the meanest thing about it all is that I constantly seem to be the one deciding over his fate.

Stepson can only be with us every other week if I stay at home and don’t go back to work.

I am the one having to decide what we put in our wills-are the children regarded equal and inherit equal or should my share just go down to my child?

Will we spend one Christmas in Germany with my family even though that means we won’t get to see stepson?

Endless questions, endless debates in which it is easy to either feel like Snow White’s evil stepmum or, and this isn’t a healthier option, grow more and more resentment each day, for being stuck in a situation one never chose and for being the one having to make all these decisions by oneself.

I wish I could talk to someone. I feel so lonely.

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Musings of a new mum

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Sometimes I wonder if humans are destined to couple up, to live in relationships. no, let me rephrase this: sometimes I wonder if ALL humans are destined to do so.  Divorce statistics, observation and my own personal history bring on such musing.

If I look back at my life I have to honestly admit that I was most content when I was alone. Every single time.

That is not to say that I have been in a lot of horrible relationships.

It is just that when I was all by myself I found the ultimate freedom, I was like a little bird flying around being able to develop myself, to study, and with study I mean study life, read, discover music, places, people.

I know though, that it felt lonely at times and unfullfilled.

I guess I was thrown from one extreme to the other. I was a fulltime professional on a good salary, constantly travelling, exercising, reading for hours, going for walks, cooking…it was a happy little time. I lived in a quirky little flat. After work I used to put on my running shoes and run, come home, shower, cook a healthy dinner, read. Weekends were spent travelling and seeing friends, going to concerts, going to London (oh how I miss my wonderful, beautiful, serene London!). Do I glorify this looking back? Was I happy falling asleep or did I feel lonely? It seems so hard to remember now.

Last February I met A, five months later I was pregnant and here I am a year and a half later. Being at home full time, looking after our beautiful and bright four month old daughter and my almost five year old stepson. My days are crazily busy being a mum and running the household.

I have met some wonderful mummies and made friends with them. Intelligent, sparkling individuals who love their children but talk about life and their passions and dreams just as much as about their children. Who have drive and inspiration, who are still who they were before they were a mum. I love these mummies.

I have also met a number of mummies who are completely absorbed by their children and all they ever want to talk about is how many teeth their child has now and what kind of dishwasher tablets they are using (I kid you not). Those are the days when I feel like packing in. When I am desperate for some of this old life. not without my daughter of course. No, this is even what is driving me. I want Ella to grow up free and with plenty of experiences. I want her to have a mum who inspires her, who gives her wings to fly. I don’t want her to have a boring (or bored?) mum who worries about which dishwasher tablets to use (yes, this conversation with another mum has forever traumatized me), who is too caught up in motherhood to truly have fun, who doesn’t have the time for music and books and travelling anymore and loses who she was.

I have my ups and downs. I love my daughter more than humanly possible. We have a lot of fun together. I love playing with her, reading to her, singing to her. Showing her new things, watching her discover the world. I love meeting up with my inspiring mummy friends who remind me that being a mum doesn’t mean you have to give up your aspirations and dreams.

I have my downs on days when I have both Ella and my stepson, where my day feels like an endless episode of washing dishes, feeding, preparing lunch and dinner, washing clothes, drying clothes, putting away clothes and washing more clothes (seriously nobody would believe how much washing such a tiny person can cause).

When A comes home late after a long day at home and complains about being tired. (He generally starts his day at least an hour after me and unlike me doesn’t have to do much after he comes work. Not wanting to bitch or anything!). 

That are the frustrating moments, when I fantasize about Ella and I going to live somewhere, just the two of us. Somehow, I don’t know why, this seems like a desirable option some days.

Speaking to my friends who also have small children, this doesn’t seem uncommon. On the opposite, it seems to be the norm.

Hence again, the question I started my blog with-are we destined to be with other people?

I don’t have the answer.

I am still finding my way.

 

Families

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I didn’t have a very rosy childhood. I do not want to go into too much detail about it as it just brings back very painful memories, but my dad was emotionally and physically abusive throughout my childhood. As a consequence I can’t remember being a child. I can remember being sad. I can remember wanting to die when I was 8. I can remember hating myself and hating my dad.

When I got older the physical abuse stopped as I threatened to ring the police and stopped being scared of him. The emotional abuse continued.

When I was in my last year at uni I moved out overnight because of some very insulting things my dad said when he was in one of his moods.

His moods. How we all feared them. My mum, always making excuses. Your dad is stressed at work. How often I have heard this sentence.

In the last years, while I have lived abroad, our relationship hasn’t been a terrible one. When my dad was in a good mood, we got on.

But when he was in a bad mood, things were as always.

I remember, just over three years ago, coming home. I had travelled all day. I had just gotten news that I had gotten a job offer from a council in England to work as a social worker. It was the first job interview I went to in England and I got an offer. I was ecstatic. In Germany I had been unemployed for a year and been unhappy like never before. So now this, in a foreign country, I was so happy and so proud. 

I came through the door and my dad, already aggressively asked me what kind of job it was. I tried to explain, but I didn’t even get to the end of my sentence when he said this was the worst job I could ever have taken on, the worst job, it was all bad. He was spiteful. Even my mum for once was taken back, astonished and left the room with me.

And this has been a pattern. My dad, meanwhile a pensioner has become more and more grumpy and negative in recent years. No more excuses about him being stressed at work. But my mum has become more and more defensive of him, she doesn’t need her excuses anymore. My parents are completely isolated, hardly even see their family and have no friends left. When I am in Germany, my aunts and my grandma voice their concerns about how isolated my parents chose to be. How grumpy and rude my dad is. How he doesn’t turn on the heating properly in the winter and my grandma, 81, who lives downstairs is freezing.

This summer I took Ella over to see my family. I was very excited for her to see my family. And while my dad was nothing but lovely to Ella, he was incredibly rude and ignorant towards me and A. Things between us escalated when he found out that my mum had agreed to one of my friends (whom my mum knows) staying at their house for a couple of nights while I am there. It has to be said my parents have a massive three storey house with 7 spare bedrooms and we always stay at the top floor that has a bathroom etc, so my dad doesn’t need to see anyone staying there. My dad said he didn’t want anyone staying at his house. My mum, as usual didn’t say anything and explained to me on the next day that she couldn’t argue against my dad. “Mum”, I said “we already agreed that she could come and stay. What if she had booked her train tickets already?” My mum just shrugged her shoulders.

I left Germany early and not with a feeling of wanting to return any time soon.

Since I returned we have sold our house and made an offer on a new house which was accepted. A’s family were very happy for us and congratulated us. 

My dad makes spiteful comments about people being in debt (he paid for their house in cash. I dont know anyone else who purchased their house that way.) because  we have to pay a mortgage.

I have become tired of it so I have made a decision not to see my dad for the time being. My mum, as I could have told gets defensive, angry tells me if I don’t let her see Ella, she will never forgive me. Me explaining that she can see Ella anytime, that I just don’t want to see dad as this isn’t a relationship anymore that brings any happiness to me, doesn’t change it. So we are quiet. And I wonder if it has happened, what I always thought would happen one day. That we have fallen out. That I won’t see her again, because she isn’t strong enough to stand up to my dad.

I looked at Ella tonight when I put her to bed and I realize, having had her has changed everything. My priorities, my strenght. I am not scared anymore. I am Ella’s mum. That is all that matters to me now.

Getting back into shape after pregnancy

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Before I got pregnant I was very skinny and very fit. I used to either run for 40 minutes after work each night, swim or go to the gym for at least an hour.

I tried to keep up my fitness in pregnancy which wasn’t easy as I had severe morning sickness until the second trimester during which I had to abandon all exercise. At that point I had stopped running for almost 2 months so I was advised not to carry on with it during pregnancy. I went swimming instead and enrolled in pregnancy yoga all which kept me quite fit until about six weeks before giving birth at which point I felt just awful, big and tired all the time and I abandoned all exercise.

Still people generally told me that I still looked “tiny” and would just look as before after giving birth. Well, they were wrong. As so many women I was in big shock finding that the day after giving birth I looked like they had forgotten another baby in there.

Of course it takes the uterus about 6 weeks to shrink and with the help of breastfeeding, I looked a lot better after a couple of weeks.

Two weeks after giving birth I still had about 8 kilos more then before I got pregnant and optimistically I thought I could get rid of them easily.

Well, wrong again. At 6 weeks I stopped breastfeeding and in spite of taking up exercise at this point (frustratingly the doctors advised me to start low key exercise at six weeks and leave running until three months post partum due to my c section) and trying to cut my calories, the kilos wouldn’t budge.

Having also suffered from serious eating disorders in the past, I felt VERY unhappy in my own body and very frustrated about the state of it, having made myself believe I could shed this weight so easily.

Other mummy friends comforted me and said they had had the same experience and that it takes nine months to get back into shape.

After a holiday back home in which I used every free minute to exercise, I got serious coming back a couple of weeks ago.

I have been to the gym almost every night for about 90 minutes. In these sessions I train my running as I want to run a 10k for charity in October and I also work all my other body parts and muscles on machines and on the mat, with and without dumbbells. I have found some great free exercise apps on my Ipod which have helped me immensely.

I have cut down my calorie intake, mainly I cut out sweets and fat (cheese) and apart from that eat three healthy meals a day, for example weetabix and fruit for breakfast, soup or an egg sandwich for lunch and some pasta or vegg and fishcake for dinner.

And finally the kilos are coming down rapidly. In the last month I have lost 5 kilos and only have three to go now until I have my pre pregnancy weight.

Even though I still have a little way to go, three and a half months after the birth of my daughter I am feeling so much healthier and happier again.

I find following sites quite helpful and inspirational:

http://www.womenshealthandfitness.com.au/

http://www.mariakang.com/

 

Swindon-20130728-01242 Swindon-20130728-01248

Having a newborn-what it is really like

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Our little munchkin will already be one month old this week, so I would like to sum up what living with a newborn is like-or can be like as I honestly have to say I had so many preconceptions on things that turned out to be different or wrong and I was worried and over anxious about many things that in reality turned out to be very easy.

I think this will be an encouraging post for all first time pregnant ladies and people who think about having children.

1. Sleep

This is probably the thing most people are scared about and I can’t count how many people said to me things like “Try to get as much sleep as you can before the baby comes, you won’t have any once she is here” etc. I was very worried about this as lack of sleep really affects my mood at the best of times.

Admittedly, the first two or three nights I didn’t get much more than between 3 and 5 hours of sleep which had more to do with the hospital environment and nurses walking into my room at all sorts of times during the night than it had to do with Ella.

From the very first day she was a chilled out, easy going little girl and she was happily feeding, sleeping and getting cuddles and only ever cried when she was hungry.

We came up with a sleep rota which means I go to bed between 8 and 9pm and A brings her up around midnight. I usually get up with her once between 3 and 4 am, we then go back to sleep until sometime between 7 and 8 am. This way both A and myself get at least 7 hours sleep each night.

And yes I am breastfeeding, however I am also expressing milk, so A can give her a bottle at night. This is all working really well and on the odd night that I do get less sleep eg when Ella isn’t well, I don’t even notice I am tired on the next day as I am constantly busy.

2. Newborn Care

I was really overwhelmed when reading baby books during pregnancy. Don’t bathe them with any bathing foam in the beginning, don’t cut their bails but bite them off, make sure the bedroom has the right temperature, make sure the bath has the right temperature, the bottle…..there seemed to be a frightening number of rules and the more frightening prospect of getting it wrong. I was terrified at times. To the point that I said to A I would never carry her up and down the stairs as I got paranoid I would drop her.

Let me tell you something: Newborn care is not rocket science. It is common sense.

Forget about the books and forums. Just go with your instinct. Feel your baby’s temperature, if you think she is too hot, take a layer of or use a thinner blanket.

When she scratches her pretty face like our baby does, cut her nails with baby scissors. I promise you won’t cut her finger.

Common sense people. You really don’t need the books.

3. Feeding

In the UK there is a huge pressure on women to breastfeed. So much that for example the shop “Boots” won’t give people advantage points on their shop cards if they buy formula. Kind of ridiculous really.

Yes, of course, it is proven that it is the best milk for babies. When I was pregnant I had no doubt I would try to breastfeed Ella, however the more I read and spoke to people the more anxieties I had around breastfeeding.

Most women I met who had babies told me they didn’t breastfeed or only did it for a few days until they cried all day with exhaustion. I read stories about babies that wouldn’t be put down ever, that have “cluster feeds” (so basically are on the boob 24/7). I read about leaks and leaking boobs ruining people’s sex life.

The last few months before giving birth I was apprehensive to a point that I didn’t think I would be able to do it.

Straight after the birth Ella latched on like a pro and so we started breastfeeding. It didn’t feel like I had to do anything, she just naturally seemed to know what to do and would feed every three to four hours.

On my first morning in the hospital, we had a visitor from a group A and I secretly call the Breastfeeding Mafia. It is a volunteer group in the UK that encourages women to breastfeed. They support them and show them how to feed if there are problems. They visit each room with their knitted boobies (no joke!) and dolls to demonstrate the best ways for the baby to latch on. Our breastmafia visitor was puzzled when she saw how well Ella was drinking and visibly disappointed she didn’t have anything to teach us.

And so here we are, one month on, still breastfeeding. I have to admit, it is hard, it is tiring and it takes up a lot of your time. I won’t do it forever and I still firmly believe that it should be every woman’s choice to decide if she wants to breastfeed or not.

I feel happy knowing my baby gets the goodness and antibodies that only breastmilk can produce, but at the same time I am aware that it takes a lot of self sacrifices and simply won’t be practical in the long run if we want to resume a busy social life. Foremost a baby needs a happy, relaxed and well functioning mum. Period.

4. Social time

Okey, this is where I finally DO notice having a baby. Yes I have turned into one of these terrible people who never call their friends back or even send a text to say “I am sorry I missed your call”. Most calls or texts seem to come in when I am feeding Ells, changing her nappy or clothes (or mine. clothes, not nappy!) or start the laundry. Most started replied from my end usually end mid sentence for the same reason. If I do remember I have a message to reply to in the first place. I don’t blame any of my friends if they get annoyed. I used to despise people like me.

Even this blog I have been writing on, on and off for a week.

This isn’t the only social time that is effected though, also A and I get to spend very little time together. He usually comes home at 6 and I go to bed around 8pm to get enough sleep. In these 2 hours we are both busy with Ella, getting dinner on, washing up etc etc. We miss each other terribly.

I try to focus on the fact though that things will get a lot better in that regard once she starts sleeping through the night. And luckily there are still weekends 🙂

5. Facebook-Sharing your baby with the world

To my great relief having a baby has not turned me into one of these people who have their baby’s face as their profile picture and update the world about their baby’s sleep pattern, feeds and poo colour in hourly cycles. I still realize this is interesting for about three people: me, A and maybe my mum. So no baby updates. No daily photo updates either.

I have a friend with a now six month old baby. When he first rolled over she put three videos on Facebook. The first two were his attempts and the third one him actually rolling over. Madness.

6. So what is it like?

Having a newborn is so much easier and so much better than I could ever have imagined. So much that I can’t wait to do it again!

Ella’s birth story

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On Monday night, April the 22nd April I was 5 days past my due date and did mentally prepare myself that our baby might not come naturally and that I might have to be induced on the Friday. We watched some TV and went to bed around 11pm. At 2.30 am that night I woke up with a start and realized instantly my waters were going. And boy, how they were. I had no idea how much water there was inside my womb!!!

I got up and almost immediately started having contractions, they were only two to five minutes apart and quite strong and long lasting. We rung the hospital to speak to a midwife called Emma, after assessing the situation she asked us to come in.

In the hospital they measured my contractions and baby’s heartbeat.

Right from the start the midwife had slight concerns around Ella’s heartbeat as it seemed to drop whenever I had a contraction. The doctor had to be called and said that because of this, they wanted me to deliver quickly and put me on a drip to accelerate my contractions. Oh boy and how they accelerated! I was slightly disappointed that I could not go to the birthing centre and have my water birth as planned and was wondering how I would cope with the pain. I coped okey for quite a while just breathing but eventually asked for gas and air. The contractions became more and more painful, on top of this the baby’s heartbeat did not change, so the doctors tried several very painful things eg reaching Ella’s head to take a blood sample. At that point one of the doctors hurt me so much that I was sobbing with pain and willing to have an epidural, however we then learnt very quickly that Ella would have to be delivered by emergency c-section immediately. I was wheeled into theatre and given anaesthesia which at this point was a great relief as I stopped feeling my contractions immediately.

After that everything went really quick, I was wheeled into surgery and ten minutes later I could hear a baby cry-my baby!!!

The doctors took her to a little table to examine her and she had excellent scores on all tests. The surgeon came over to tell me that Ella her the umbilical cord around her neck which was why her heartbeat dropped as it tightened around her every time I had a contraction.

A went to get over and cut the cord and see her and take some pictures with her. Finally he could bring her over and put her on my chest and I could see our beautiful girl for the first time.

They say when you have children, you are no longer wearing your heart inside your body but it it walking around outside and I completely agree. I am in so much love with this little girl. She looked at me with wide big eyes from the moment she was placed on my chest and from the first moment on, there was this big bond of trust and love between us.

She is such a good little girl, sweet and undemanding, only crying when she is hungry and really content and happy, especially when she is getting cuddles and can sleep on my chest.

I am so grateful for this gift we received from God and no matter how painful the recovery from the section is, I can’t feel unhappy for even a moment when I look at this precious little girl 🙂

Pregnancy-A review of nine very strange months

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For a German control freak like me, who is highly organized and always on time, pregnancy is a nightmare.

Please don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to meet our little girl, I wouldn’t change this for the world, but I did not enjoy being pregnant. So much that at the moment I don’t know if I will want to have another one in the future.

Until I was 13 weeks pregnant I suffered from horrible all day morning sickness. I had never experienced anything like it. Imagine the worst hungover you have ever had and imagine feeling like this for 7 weeks in a row, without a break.

The second trimester was doable-I had stopped feeling sick, wasn’t too big too exercise or do most things I wanted to do and life carried on in an almost normal fashion.

However as soon as I hit the third trimester other aches and pains started to kick in. I started suffering from horrible backaches, acid reflux, heartburn (which would wake me up every hour at night), loss of appetite, nausea, leg cramps etc etc.

I started walking at the speed of a 90 year old (quite amusing when you catch your reflection in a shop window  for the first time, not so amusing when you are in a hurry), could only walk so far until my feet were killing me and just started feeling exhausted all day long.

People who know me in real life know-the worst thing for me always is if my mobility is limited in any way. I am a bubbly ball of energy, always moving, always doing things and loving my exercise. Two years ago I broke my foot, as soon as they took the cast off and with many weeks still to go until I was allowed to walk I sat on my grandmother’s exercise bike for an hour each day as this was the only exercise I could do without putting too much pressure on my foot.

So, sitting at home feeling like an immobile whale is not my favourite thing to do. To put it mildly.

My body has changed of course and even though people constantly tell me how tiny I still am, how neat my bump is, how I will just “pop back into shape” and even though I feel very lucky to have been spared of getting horrible stretch marks, I still feel huge and uncomfortable and just not right, it is like somebody put me into a stranger’s body.

My emotions overall weren’t too bad. I didn’t have any mood swings or rages, I felt pretty much normal, however in the last few weeks I occasionally woke up with bad anxiety attacks. They mostly revolve around fears of giving birth, I wake up in a cold sweat and am convinced I will die during birth. Not that much fun.

My due date is on Wednesday, but I was really hoping she might come a little early, in particular since people around me with similar due date are having their babies right, left and centre. I met a lady yesterday who is due four weeks after me and has an elective C-Section-ergo knows exactly when her baby will come and I am very jealous!

These last few weeks have been quite emotional, you can experience quite a few signs that you think might be the onset of labour only to find they completely stop again. It feels like your body is saying “haha, tricked you!”. This can be very frustrating,

Pregnancy, overall, feels like somebody else has taken total control of my body and emotions and I sit helplessly watching what happens next. I had no idea how much it would change me inside and out, how it would take over my life. I am well aware there are very different kind of pregnancies and everyone feels different about their pregnancy-it is just my personal experience and how I have been feeling.

Now I am just hoping that I will go into labour soon and won’t have to be induced and above everything of course I hope that our little girl will be born healthily and happily and that indeed I will NOT die during labour 😉

Do people ever change?

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“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.” 
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

 

My dear readers who have followed my blog from the start will know about my relationship before A, however for all recent followers, just a quick recap, so they will understand this post. Before I met A, I had a long distance relationship with an American living in State Washington called X. We had known each other, for many years, as close penpals and mailfriends and in August 2011 I flew over so we could meet. On that holiday we fell in love (or so I thought at the time). On my next trip over I found out that X had lied to me and that he had another parallel long distance relationship with a very young girl from Finnland which had been going on for years and he had even seen her shortly before I flew over there. She, too, knew nothing about my existence and was equally shocked and heartbroken. Several months after this discovery and breaking all ties with X, he contacted me and asked for forgiveness, me being happily with A by then emailed him back saying I had forgiven him. We had since stayed in very lose casual contact and remained Facebook friends.

Last night however I received a message from him, stating he was back in touch with the Finnish girl and he had to delete me off Facebook, so she wouldn’t see we were in contact.

It has left me stunned and speechless. I was really hoping he had learnt from the past, from the hurt he caused and learnt that lies are never an option. In particular as there is nothing for the Finnish girl to worry about, if she went on my Facebook profile, she would quickly learn that I am in a happy relationship, expecting a baby in few weeks time. But when I email him back and say exactly that he shows no understanding. What is more he justifies his action in “not wanting to hurt her”. Which is exactly how he justified his lies at the time we found out. There was a conversation we had I still remember, where he very much put the blame for his cheating and lies on me, on “not wanting to hurt “, on saying I was insecure and he wanted to spare me any more insecurities.

I considered sending him a long email, explaining my views, how I think he is doing the same thing over and over again, but I have decided it would be a waste of my time. He won’t change his ways if he hasn’t learnt from the past. I have nothing more to say to him and I have blocked him from my Facebook. Likewise I considered sending the Finnish girl an email, warning her, telling her about this message and X deleting me, but then I realize I can’t save her. She has to make her own decisions.

It makes me sad because even at almost 30, I still want to believe in the best of people, still want to believe that people can change. The older I get, the more I realize how little people ever change. They sometimes might become stronger or weaker or happier or unhappier, but the core of people, it rarely changes. It makes me think of all the women in unhappy relationships, who are with men who lie and cheat, who are waiting for them to change and I want to tell them that it does not happen, will not happen, that they need to move on and find themselves somebody whose core is just right.