You can't have a rainbow without going through a little rain

It's a bit of a cringe saying, but in this instance it's very true...

You can't have a rainbow without going through a little rain
When I last blogged about my motherhood journey, poor Peyton was not at her best. It was a complete downpour for us. She was so unsettled, full of cold and, I'm pretty sure, she was going through her third developmental 'leap'.

Anyone who has a baby and doesn't have the Wonder Weeks app, I would totally recommend it. It explains your baby's moods week-by-week, gives you signs to look out for when a leap is approaching, and forewarns you of any 'stormy' periods.

The app says that last week was P's third leap, and that she has entered into a sunny period now. However, I am convinced it was the week before. Last week was a super sunny period, she was the happiest and smiliest she has ever, ever been. We even got her first laugh.

I feel like my posts have been quite negative about motherhood and parenting recently. If I've not been moaning about the things nobody tells you about breastfeeding, it's been feeling lonely while Peyton has been having her meltdowns and I was stuck at home all day with an over tired, poorly and fussy baby. Literally the worst combination!

After my last post I got so many lovely messages from so many other mums who had all felt the same as me. It was comforting to know the feelings I was experiencing were completely normal and there wasn't anything wrong with me.

Isn't it crazy how motherhood makes you so critical of yourself?!

I was also recommended some groups locally to try with Peyton. I'd mentioned about going to a couple before and stumbling across the competitive, 'perfect' mum brigade - who I am not down for joining. These encounters had put me off taking her to any other groups.

However, I went to three groups last week, all of which were recommended by friends. I know, look at me go!

We started off going to one called Music, Movement and More at our local children's centre. It was £1.50 and was basically an hour of nursery rhymes, songs, musical instruments and movements to the songs. Peyton say wide-eyed and in complete awe of everything going on around her for the full hour. She stared at other babies, loved the sound of the instruments and didn't whine, cry or fuss once. She also had a 90 minute nap when we got home - the first time she'd had a proper sleep in the day weeks!

The mums I spoke to there were so, so lovely as well. Nobody was judge-y, everyone was so welcoming and friendly and very much my kind of people. It was such a supportive atmosphere, rather than competitive.

We went again and it was another hit! Peyton enjoyed it so much and was fast asleep before we were even out of the gate and onto the path outside!

Wednesday morning we went back to the children's centre for a stay and play session. This one cost us a whole £1 (bank breaking, I know!) and was basically a free for all. It's themed differently each week, so has a different focus and toys etc. each time.

Last week's theme was sensory, so there was lots to touch, smell and taste. Obviously Peyton couldn't take part in some of the more hands-on experiences, like the big tray of jelly, but she did have a great time with anything that jingled, jangled and reflected. We only stayed for an hour because she was exhausted. We'd not even got across the road on our way home and she was fast asleep!

Finally, on Friday morning, we went to a baby and toddler group in a village hall about 10 minutes away from where we live. I'd heard lots of good things about this group so thought I'd go along and, oh my, it's one of the best baby groups I've seen. Especially for one run by volunteers! The hall was full of toys for all ages. The baby area had three giant plastic boxes filled with toys, as well as mats, rockers, chairs, walkers and jumperoos. There was also Play Doh, painting, musical instruments, ride-on toys, tunnels, dolls and prams, train sets... It was like Toys R Us and Smyths had pro-created and made this ultimate toy heaven. Again, Peyton was shattered. She fell asleep after 45 minutes, so we headed home.

I'll say one thing for all last week's activities, it's definitely helped her sleep better. Especially during the day when she's been fighting sleep a lot recently.

I've booked for Peyton to start swimming lessons from this weekend. We are going to the pool at the gym near us where a company called Puddle Ducks run sessions. She absolutely loves being in the water, and has loved it when we've taken her swimming before, so I can't wait to start going to proper lessons with her. It'll be so good for us to get the confidence of what to do with her in the pool, and learn how to make her a confident, competent swimmer.

We are going on holiday next week (wahooo!) to Center Parcs so I can't wait to take her swimming everyday! However, the long list on my phone of stuff we need to take with us is giving me a bit of anxiety. I have never been one to travel light anyway but, holy hell, there's no way of that with a baby in tow! She literally requires so much stuff!

It'll all be worth it, though. I'm so excited!

Peyton is 12 weeks old today and I honestly cannot believe how quick the time has gone. It feels like only yesterday that the tiny little 7lb 12oz ball of newborn was slapped onto my chest after so many hours in labour.

She now weighs a whole 12lb 4oz and is such a joy. She smiles all the time now (when she's not having a meltdown because she's over-tired/hungry/generally cranky) and has even started properly laughing. It's honestly the best sound in the world.

Don't get me wrong, motherhood has been bloody hard work. Some days have been dreadful and I've cried just as much, if not more, than Peyton. It's so hard when they're so upset and distressed and just can't tell you why. But, for every difficult day, we've had dozens of happy, smiley, joyful days full of love, laughter and so many memories.

I can't remember my life before her, now. She is everything I ever dreamed of and so much more.

And, finally, people are starting to say she looks like me now! After almost three months of "isn't she the spitting image of her daddy!" comments, it's now all "oh, Nat, she looks just like you!"  Hurrah!

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