Learning to like my post-baby body

Can I even still call it my post-baby body one year on? I feel like it's just 'my body' again now.

However, after being so hard on myself for the past 12 months, and beating myself up so hard about how I've looked, I'm finally starting to like myself a bit more again.

I'm still sticking at Slimming World, and have lost almost a stone now. My first week was fabulous, losing 5.5lbs, but since then progress has slowed somewhat. Last week I lost 2.5lbs, leaving me just 1.5lbs away from my one stone award. However, after Peyton's birthday celebrations, I feel a gain may be on the horizon at weigh-in tonight. 

Despite that, I can finally tell that I am losing weight. Last week I discovered (by accident) that I fit back into my pre-pregnancy, skinny jeans. I used to call them my 'target jeans' because they only fit me really comfortably when I was close to target.

Last week, as I was fishing around in the wardrobe in the dark, I pulled out some black jeans for work. As I pulled them on, I was puzzled as to why they had buttons on; the jeans I'd been wearing were an elasticated waist. It was then that I realised I'd grabbed the wrong ones, but I needn't have worried because I COULD FASTEN THEM UP! I could've cried tears of happiness. 

I could sit down in them without feeling like I was being sliced in half by cheese wire, and I didn't have as much of a muffin top as I expected. So, off I went to work proudly sporting my size 10s (not that anybody would have ever known any difference to the size 12 elasticated waist babies).

People have also started to notice now that I've lost weight. And, honestly, that's the biggest motivation for me. Often you can't tell in yourself, and I only ever can by how my clothes fit me, so it's so rewarding to hear it from someone else. It makes the times I've refused cake worthwhile!

We were at a christening at the weekend, when I became godmother to our best friends' baby girl, and I was really struggling to find an outfit. I spent a whole day at Meadowhall traipsing round the shops twice; all with Peyton in tow. I tried loads on and hated how I looked in every single thing.

As I was about to give up and cry the whole way home, I popped into Topshop again. I don't usually buy anything from Topshop. I find some things can be a bit too quirky sometimes and always more expensive than I am willing to pay. However, I found a gorgeous skirt which was exactly what I was looking for. It was a golden yellow colour and was satin. I took a size 12 and 10 into the changing room to try; aware that Topshop usually size smaller. However, I fit in the 10! I was absolutely chuffed, I bought the skirt right away (forgetting I would then have to start the hunt for a top...!)

I felt so confident and happy on Sunday, it's amazing what a good item of clothing can do. Unfortunately, Peyton's mucky fingers had one too many run-ins with my skirt and I ended up leaving with greasy finger marks smeared all over it. Cracking.

It's been a long, long road to get to how I am feeling right now. And I am still not there yet. I still have huge, huge body hang-ups. My tummy is still super wobbly and I still detest my stretch marks. However, I do feel a million times better, more confident and happier in my own skin.

I feel more like the 'old' me everyday. I've started making more effort with my hair and make-up on a daily basis, and have even started wearing my contact lenses more; rather than just hiding behind my glasses. 

Ever since starting Slimming World in 2015 I've been a huge advocate of the plan. Since starting back last month I have rediscovered my self-confidence and am slowly learning how to like myself again. We have a wedding at the end of next month and I would really like to be at target for that. I always find that having a goal helps to motivate me more, so fingers crossed I manage it.

I most definitely want to be at target for when we go to Dubai in September. And that should definitely be more than achievable.


The pits and peaks of the first year of parenthood

Everyone always says when you get married that the first year is the hardest, but there's no such warning when it comes to parenting.

After nine months of anticipation and build-up, and hours of labour, you're presented with this small, red, screaming bundle and just automatically expected to know what to do.

When Peyton was born, I had no idea how to change her nappy properly, how to dress her without worrying I would break her, or how to understand what she wanted. Babies don't come with an instruction manual and once you leave hospital, you're on your own to stumble through the dark (quite literally when they're up screaming at 2am) working everything out.

My first year as a mum has been the most wonderful, rewarding, love-filled year of my life. However, it's also been bloody hard work. It's been overwhelming, exhausting and a real struggle at times.

Now, looking back, the times when things seemed really bad don't actually seem that bad at all. When I say she was hard work as a baby and people ask how, I find myself trying to remember what she actually did that warranted me labelling her as such. When I reel off my reasons, I realise she wasn't hard work at all. I just didn't know what to expect and, in some respects, was going into parenting with rose-tinted glasses on.

Everyone has their own 'pearls of wisdom' and advice they give you before baby is born and, to be honest, most of it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Someone told me you don't need to wind breastfed babies which was the biggest lie going and resulted in absolute horror shows for us when Peyton was struggling terribly with trapped wind.

Trapped wind/colic was probably one of the worst times. One of Tom's first days back at work Peyton literally screamed from 9am until she went to sleep that night at 10pm. She barely slept all day, just cried and screamed, and nothing at all could settle her. In those first few weeks we'd get to 5pm/6pm and she'd scream constantly until bedtime. It was horrific.

Thankfully, despite how it felt at the time, the phase didn't last long. Like anything that's been hard, it has soon passed. No sooner have you overcome one hurdle before there's another one right ahead.

Feeding was hard in the early days but, once we established breastfeeding and my confidence grew, we soon got into our stride. I sometimes sit, when we are out, and wonder how I fed in public so confidently. Even after doing it for eight months, the thought now of feeding in public makes me feel really, really nervous.

Nothing can ever prepare you for the worry you will constantly feel as a parent. Before Peyton was born, I'd never rang 111. I must've rang it at least 10 times in the last year. We've made quick dashes to the doctors for an appointment before the surgery closes, and we've been to the out of hours service at the hospital at least three times.

There's also the constant anxiety that you carry around with you. Whether it's about going out in public and strategically planning a route than incorporates at least one place with a baby change facility; or panicking in the supermarket car park because all the parent and child spaces are taken and you can't manoeuvre a normal space with a car seat and pushchair. There's the worry about going out to places and your baby screaming - I don't think that'll ever end. We've only ever had one experience of having to leave somewhere because she cried so much. Thankfully, *touch wood*, the rest of the times we've eaten out she has calmed quickly when a meltdown has started.

Poo explosions will become second nature, and you quickly learn you need a change of clothes for yourself as well as baby.

The first year will be the biggest learning curve of your life and I truly don't think anything can prepare you for it.

What nothing will ever prepare you for is the judgement. People like to judge mums, and I don't know why. Mums judge other mums, people who aren't mums like to have their say on what you should/shouldn't be doing, and, perhaps worst of all, you judge yourself.

Baby groups can be toxic places for this; I learned this quickly. Everyone likes to compare your baby to other people's and it drives me absolutely insane, even now.

It's sometimes hard not to judge yourself, and compare your baby to others, but every baby does things at their own pace. It took Peyton much longer to do certain thing than it took other babies we know that are around her age. Similarly, she has picked up other things really quickly. Just like it takes adults different timescales to learn different things, it takes babies the same.

If you sat a group of adults down in front of a broken machine, not everyone would be able to fix it right away. Some would need to be talked through it a few times, some would need to be shown what to do, and some would still need lots of goes at getting it wrong in order to learn how to get it right. Just like everything in life.

It took Peyton until she was almost 10 months to sleep through the night, but I know children who are two/three-years-old and still wake. Similarly, I know people who have babies who've slept through from two/three-months-old. Sleep was one of the biggest things I worked myself up over, and looking back I really wish I'd been more chilled about it. I knew before she was born to expect sleepless nights, so I don't know why, when she was here, I suddenly forgot that and expected her to sleep through from an early age. Don't get me wrong, it would've been lovely if she had, but I do think I had some unrealistic expectations for a time.

I feel like we've really delved into the pits of the last year here.

Believe it or not, there have been so many peaks.

Starting with that first moment she was placed on my chest after she was born. She was this little red bundle who had her eyes straight open and was staring around the room, screaming her little head off. The rush of love I felt at the moment, I don't think anything will ever compare to it. This teeny, tiny 7lb 12oz baby girl who I had waited so, so long to meet was finally here and, oh my god, it was just the most amazing feeling.

Coming home from hospital, too, was just the most wonderful thing. I felt, as we were walking (me waddling) out that someone was going to stop us and tell us we couldn't go. It didn't feel real that we were taking our baby home and it was just going to be the three of us. When we got home we didn't know what to do with her, or with ourselves. It was the strangest, yet best, feeling.

All the firsts have been absolutely incredible, too. Those first smiles, the first laugh, the first time she rolled and the first time she sat up, the first time she tried food, the first night in her own room, her first wave, the first time she clapped, her first steps, her first pair of shoes... every first, no matter what, is special. Whether it's something small, like her first visit somewhere, or bigger like her first word.

Watching her learn new things is amazing. She's started to get this really proud look on her face when she does something (usually something she shouldn't be doing, granted) and it just melts me. Seeing her explore the world is a wonderful thing and I can't wait for that even more now.

Our first little holiday to Center Parcs was a big peak for me. It was so lovely spending the week together and making lots of memories. Of course, P won't remember any of it. But we always will. And I'll always remember just how chilled and happy she was that week. I saw such a huge difference in her, and I think that's because we were relaxed, too.

And Christmas! How could I forget Christmas?! Our first Christmas with a baby. It was magical. Taking her to see Father Christmas and doing loads of festive things was wonderful. Even things that we do every year anyway, like putting up the tree, felt even more special. This Christmas will be even more amazing because she'll understand so much more what's going on. And the year after, well, we'll be thrown right into Christmas chaos then!

Her christening was also another big peak. The build-up to it was a bit squiffy, but I absolutely loved the day itself. It was so lovely to see so many people there for her and so nice to see family and friends, some of whom we hadn't seen since our wedding. Christenings aren't everyone's bag, so it was so nice that so many people made the effort to come and celebrate our little girl with us.

The first time we managed to string together a week of her sleeping through the night is also up there as a peak. To the mums reading this whose babies/children don't, I feel your pain, but keep powering on, because when the moment arrives it's so worth the wait. We'd had the odd night of her sleeping through but it was always followed by a month or so of night waking again, so after the first night mid-April I wasn't getting my hopes up. But, after a week, I realised we may have just cracked it. It's amazing how much better you can feel after a good night's sleep. It was really hard when I came back to work and she was waking up for up to two hours in the middle of the night. Trying to function the next day was hard enough when on maternity, never mind when having to do a full day at work. Now, looking back, I don't know how I did it.

It's amazing how those "bad" things are suddenly soon forgotten. It's taken my absolutely ages to write this because all the times she was "hard work" have been so hard to remember. And just picking a handful of peaks has been hard, too.

Some days, everything feels like a peak. Going into her room on a morning and her standing there waiting for me, with her arms out, and smiling; her putting her arms out for me to pick her up; her trying to climb onto my knee for a cuddle; the smile when she sees me arrive at nursery; how her face lights up when she sees the cat; watching her splashing and rolling around in the bath; her trying to put her shoes on by herself; the excitement on her face when she sees a bird outside; her dancing whenever she hears any music; the way she claps when I say "well done" (even if it's not directly to her); how the simplest of things give her such enjoyment... I could honestly go on forever.

Being a parent is the most rewarding job in the whole, entire world. Some days may feel really foggy, and like everything is against you, but it soon passes. I wish I could do the newborn phase all over again, knowing what I know now, because my expectations would be much more realistic. I would be more prepared, and I'd actually know what I was supposed to do.

I've been feeling so emotional over the last week remembering everything we were doing this time last year. My Timehop is absolutely killing me seeing all the pictures of Peyton as a tiny newborn and all the videos of her. It almost makes me want to have another one soon to experience all of that again. But then Peyton starts climbing on the table and throwing stacking cups everywhere and I suddenly remember, I'm quite happy with how full my hands - and heart - are at the moment.


Month 10 has been my absolute favourite so far

Peyton is 11-months-old today, but the last month has been one of my favourites so far.

Of course, nothing compares to the snuggly, squishy newborn phase, but this last month has just been wonderful.

April was shit, for many reasons, and I was super excited about May (because I knew it couldn't have possibly been any worse!) and it has just been great.

Not only has she developed the cheekiest, funniest personality, but she is learning things every single day. She's so close to walking now, taking up to 10 steps at a time, and is babbling away in her own little language. She's starting to try and use cutlery when she eats and is showing such an interest in the world around her. And tonight, which I’m most excited about, she’s started clapping! I know you shouldn’t listen to those apps that say “your baby should be doing x, y and z at this age”, why do they do it?! She’s finally started it tonight, though. She looks so chuffed when she does it, bless her.

The weekend before last we went down to Bristol to stay with family and P was a little dream. She was so well behaved in the car (it's a long drive even for an adult, never mind a baby who hates sitting still!) and when we were there.

I was worried about her bedtime being unsettled being in new surroundings but she went off like a dream and slept really well still. (Not so much at nap time, though...! See pic below ha.) It was strange being back in the same room as her, though. I've got so used to hearing her breathe on the monitor I did wake up a few times and panic that I couldn't hear her. It's strange how she seemed quieter being in the same room than over the monitor.

She had the best weekend while we were there. They live on a big, working farm and there were so many animals. We took her to watch milking one morning, she saw lambs, horses, ponies, rabbits... She was mesmerised by it all.

It was also lovely to see family who have babies a similar age to Peyton. It makes me sad that we don't live closer so they can all grow up together, but it's nice that we do get to see them when we can.

We've been all over the place recently as the weekend just gone we went to Bedford and back for the day for my friend's little girl's 1st birthday. Laura and I met on a cruise in 2006 and have stayed friends since - despite living 150 miles apart. Florence is a month older than Peyton so it's lovely that they're so close in age.

I think we'll spend the next few weekends in Yorkshire, I'm bloody exhausted haha!

Saying that, I can't believe we're just a few weeks away from her first birthday now; it's mental.

Each day my Timehop is filled with bump photos and videos, and countdowns to when she was due to arrive. It makes me feel all fuzzy inside, seeing picures of me being pregnant. I say it every time but, God, I was huge. It almost puts me off wanting to get pregnant again incase I balloon in the same way. I did say, though, when I got pregnant I knew I'd go full Kim Kardashian and be the size of a house.

We have so many lovely things planned in the run-up to, and after, her birthday.

We're having a small BBQ/tea party (weather dependent) the weekend after her birthday which, I'll be honest, is more for our benefit than hers. She won't know what the hell is happening so, while it's her first birthday, I am choosing her cake, decorations etc. how I would like them for a party for me. There will also be prosecco. Lots of prosecco. Because I missed that so much while pregnant and in those first few months when I was breastfeeding so much and scared to touch more than a drop of alcohol.

On the subject of breastfeeding, the last month or so has seen us stop completely.

Last time I wrote a post about parenting/Peyton I said we were close to stopping, but we're completely done now. And it was so easy.

For those not aware, I started weaning her off the boob ready for me going back to work. I knew it would be too difficult to express while at work, particularly as I struggled to get more than 1oz or 2oz in over 30 mins of pumping - previously I'd get 5oz in less than 15 mins! She transitioned onto formula through the day really well and, when I went back to work, I was only feeding her myself first thing on a morning and through the night.

We managed to swap the morning feed for formula, too, and then were just left with through the night. This managed to phase out gradually when her night waking lessened. Then, when she did wake, we got her back to sleep without the boob. Now, she doesn't stir at all through the night and, when she does, it's for a minute or two and she's straight back off.

All those months of being up three or more times in the night for 45+ minutes seem like a lifetime ago now!

I tied myself in all sorts of knots when it came to her sleeping and naps, but I really wish I hadn't got so worried about it now. Trying controlled crying with her was, honestly, the best thing we did. Since then, she's been like a different baby when it's come to sleep.

I'm sorry to those mums reading this who have babies/children that don't like sleep; I honestly feel your pain! There's nothing worse than reading about children who sleep when you're exhausted because yours doesn't, so I'm sorry if I've made you want to weep. I have no advice - all the advice I was given didn't work, so I won't even bother suggesting it - but just keep going! Every child is different, so there's no point even trying to compare, and they all do things in their own time. There was a time I thought I'd never get a good night's sleep again, but here we are.

Erm, what else have we been doing?!

Oh, weaning! Yes. That's going very well. She eats three full meals now, and snacks in between. I think she would eat all day if I let her; she loves her food. I don't think there's much she doesn't like, she is like a human dustbin.

Greens are her favourite at the moment. I always try and include some vegetables or fruit with every meal, where possible, and she always goes for the green stuff first; whether it be peas, broccoli, cucumber, kiwi...

I never thought I'd get so much happiness and pride out of watching a baby eat but, honestly, my heart swells when I see her. It's so cute I could sit for hours.

She just has three bottles a day now, usually: one first thing, one either mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and one before bed.

As soon as she's one, I'll move her onto cows milk. Formula is bloody expensive, and such a faff. I take my hat off to mums who formula feed from newborn because holy hell it is a lot of effort; and expense. I can't imagine being bleary-eyed in the night fannying with boiling water, bottles and powder making up bottles.

She's had her 9-12 month review with the health visitor recently. Tom took her as I was at work. It was nice for him to go as all her newborn/early stuff he missed out on because he was at work.

They said she's almost at the 9kg mark - feels like it's taken forever to get there - and is on the 50th centile for her weight and, wait for it, then 98th for her height.

We always knew she was tall but even I was shocked at that! She's going to get all the same comments I did when I was growing up: "oooh you're so tall, you should be a model!"

I feel like we are on countdown to so many exciting things now! We've got her birthday and (my) party, our best friends' little girl's christening, two of our lovely friends (and P's godparents) are getting married; our holiday (I'm in full-on Slimming World mode with that in mind); and then one of my oldest (in time we've known each other, not age) friends is getting married as soon as we are back.

Life just seems to be feeling so positive at the moment. Of course, there are days when she's an absolute whiney nightmare - I'm not going to pretend it's all sunshine and rainbows. Yesterday she was a proper whingebag for 80% of the day. She'd suddenly snap out of it and be all happy and cheeky again but it didn't take long for her to be a moody Margaret again.

Here she is, mid-tantrum on the floor. Brill.

Aside from the odd meltdown (on both mine and P's part!) I think it's fair to say we are loving life at the moment.