Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The 52 Project: 52/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2015.'

Dear Ruby,
It's the end of the year, which means that we have spent the last ten days with our families - all of your Grandparents, Aunt's and Uncles, as well as lots of friends - celebrating Christmas. You have loved talking about going to 'Grandad's house' (for some reason, you never refer to their homes as Nanny & Grandad, or Granny & Grandad's houses, it's only ever 'Dandad house'), and we have managed to fit in plenty of visits to the park amidst all of the eating, celebrating, going to Church and opening presents. I took this photo on our trip to Mayow Park with Uncle Tim, Auntie Becky and Wren, I have always loved watching you explore, and this photo captures your happiness that it is such a pleasure to see in you. 

All my love,
Mummy xxx

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The 52 Project: 51/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2015.'

Dear Ruby, 
This is the penultimate letter that I will write to you this year. At the end of 2015, I am planning to change tack slightly with the way I document your growth and our life together, so I won't be taking the weekly portraits that have featured in your life since you were born. I hope you don't feel sad about this, however old you might be right now as you read this, it's just that after two years of weekly portraits, I need a fresh perspective. I adore trying to capture your personality and beauty with my camera, and I will still do this, but just in a slightly different way. 
You spend a lot of time jumping these days - at the park, at home on the bed and off the sofa, at swimming, jumping into the water, and just anywhere you feel like jumping, you go for it. 
These days, you spend a lot of time repeating things that we have said, and adding your own lovely flair to them. One of my favourite conversations today was with Granny and Grandad, talking about chutney. Grandad was intrigued to discover that you liked chutney, and he asked if the one we were eating was spicy, considering that it was piri piri flavour. I described it as having a 'gentle fire' to it, and right on cue, you said, 'yeh, gentle fire. Chutney. Gentle fire.' 
I love you and your words, little one.

All my love,

The 52 Project: 50/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2015.'

Dear Ruby,
You had your first taste of homemade mince pies this week - a classic British Christmastime treat - and you loved them. 
We have been to the park at least five out of the last seven days, and somehow, you never tire of the adventures you have there. I have to admit that my tolerance for our local park has started to wear slightly thin, particularly with the lack of light and volume of rain we have in the Winter. So, we have started going swimming more often, much to your delight. You are so bold when it comes to swimming, and I love this about you. We've been going swimming every week since you were 6 months old, so in some ways, I am not surprised by your boldness, because it is a confidence that has grown over time. But I am still in awe of you and the way you are so happy when you are in the water. Keep swimming, my little water baby,
All my love,

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The 52 Project: 49/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2015.'

Dear Ruby,
You will know by now that I like to write you letters. I have spent the last two years and nine months writing letters to you at least once a week.) Often, I start composing these letters in my head well before I have the opportunity to put pen to paper - or in this case - fingers to keyboard. A couple of days before your second birthday, I started writing a letter to you in my head about some of the moments of this last year that have stuck with me. One of those moments was our trip to A&E in August after you fell off our wall while watching hot air balloons, and cracked open your eyebrow. In my head, the letter went a bit like this...

'Dear Ruby,
Your second year of life involved your first trip to A&E  - in my whole life I have only wound up in A&E once and that was when I was about 12 - I forced a ring onto my finger that was far too small and my finger swelled up quite dramatically. So, we're 1-1 at the moment, and I really hope that we never have to take you to A&E again.'

Well, two days after your second birthday, and guess where we ended up at bedtime? Bristol Children's Hospital A&E. It was the most minor accident imaginable, but we thought you might have broken your wrist. You were clearly in a lot of pain, so we told you we would take you to a Doctor at the hospital to help your wrist get better. On the car journey there, you kept talking about this, saying, 'See Doctor...Better.' Fortunately, you didn't need a cast on your arm, although you might have a very tiny fracture. Please can we make that the last trip to hospital for your second year of life?

I think my favourite sentence so far that you have uttered since turning two is, 'I did it with one hand!' The day after we had taken you to hospital, you were very reluctant to use your left hand at all, so were attempting to manage everything with one hand. You clearly felt quite a sense of achievement each time you managed to do something that you normally use two hands for, and said this sentence a lot on Tuesday morning. There is another phrase that you have started to use a lot, which Daddy and I are also quite fond of - recently you have started spending the whole night in your own bed. The first time that you did this was very exciting for Daddy and I, and in the morning when you came into our room, we said how exciting it was that you had spent the whole night in your own bed. Well, you have adopted this phrase and made it your own, and even when it's 3.20am and you come running down the corridor to climb into our bed, you like to tell me, 'Whole bed!' then fall back to sleep between me and Daddy. I can assure you, 3.20am doesn't constitute a whole night's sleep, but we're getting there, little one, and I love the way that you talk about it.

All my love,

Mummy xxx

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Sausages, surfing and a little bit of news.

On a cool Wednesday morning at the end of August, as I prepared our evening meal, I was struck by a thought. Just a fleeting one, but odd enough to make me wonder. I was making roasted sweet tomato and sausage bake, and had just finished browning the sausages. As the aroma of freshly cooked meat wafted around my kitchen, I thought, 'gosh, those sausages really smell like a dead animal.' I realise that sausages are exactly that. But normally I think about how delicious the meat smells.

Two days later and I am leaving the house to take Ruby to the park. I pick up two bunches of keys, ready to return one set to our neighbour who kindly lent me the key to our shared gate when the plumber needed access. I run through my usual mental checklist to ensure I have all that I need for our trip out: Ruby - check. Snacks - check. Water - check. Phone, keys, purse - check x 3. The moment I pull the front door shut, I realise I have left my house keys inside, and only picked up the neighbours' keys and our car key. I'm locked out, because of course, I chose today of all days to get our spare key back from one of our other neighbours who has had it for the last few months.

The following weekend, we are enjoying a very slow paced Sunday morning, after a five hour trip with Ruby to hospital the night before. We are watching a programme about the Severn Bore - a large surge wave that travels along the River Severn and runs through Bristol - that people like to try and surf. The programme is about a Blue Peter presenter who desperately wants to surf the Severn Bore. He only has three attempts, and fails every try. The boat crew who are helping him decide to race to get ahead of the wave to give him one final attempt, and he does it! He rides the wave and stands up on that surf board with all the giddy excitement that you might expect. And I find tears welling up in my eyes. Tears. Over a grown man catching a wave.

Tears at surfing.....sausages that smell like death....locking myself out of the house....oh....I'm pregnant. Of course. And that right there is the explanation for these slightly odd stories. There are incredibly subtle changes that happen when I am pregnant. I don't get sick at all. I just get teary and forgetful and develop a nose like a bloodhound.

I have just looked back at the post I wrote to announce my pregnancy with Ruby, and laughed quietly to myself as I thought of how these words written by C.S Lewis that I shared on my first pregnancy blog post still ring so true:

First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind.  If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive to write about it…we do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” ~ C. Day Lewis

I stopped writing on this blog as a regular part of my life a few months ago, and I suppose it is partly for that reason that I find the words to be a little stuck as I try to write now. Not free flowing. But I will try, because I need to write in order to understand, and to remember what life was like as the years go by. Also, I loved writing letters to Ruby while I was pregnant with her, and would like to do the same this time around too. So, I will probably share those letters here. 

I am eighteen weeks pregnant with our second baby. Here are a few notes...

+ My bump started showing much earlier in this pregnancy compared to my first. By ten weeks, my clothes didn't fit and I had to dig out my maternity clothes.

+ Everything about this pregnancy in terms of symptoms, or lack of, has been remarkably similar to when I carried Ruby. (No cravings, no morning sickness, no real food aversions although I went off meat a bit.) The first trimester was characterised by tiredness and emotion more than anything else. The tiredness is like no other tiredness I have experienced. Where even your bones feel weary. On many occasions, I would fall asleep on Ruby's bedroom floor at her bedtime, and John would have to come and wake me up for dinner. On one occasion while John was working in Taiwan for a couple of weeks, I fell asleep on her floor at 7.30pm and woke up at 11pm. It felt like I had been asleep for five minutes. 

+ Last pregnancy, I managed to keep running regularly until I was 26 weeks pregnant. This time around, running only tends to happen when I am running because I am late somewhere! 

+ The first trimester felt very long - after losing a baby earlier this year at 9 weeks gestation, making it through those first twelve weeks felt like such a precious and fragile time. It was a huge relief to have the first scan at twelve weeks + five days and find out that we had a healthy baby with a strong heartbeat. Since then, time has felt like it has passed by much quicker. To think we only have a week to wait until the second scan is amazing. 

+ I am looking forward to giving birth again. As odd as that might sound, this time around the anticipation of the unknown nature of what it's actually like to be in labour is no longer there. I realise that every labour and delivery is different, but I know how I coped last time, and that helps me to feel calm about doing it again. With Ruby, I laboured for seventeen hours at home (with the intention of having a home birth), before needing to be transferred to hospital for an assisted delivery, and so I am hoping that this time around, I might just be able to deliver the baby myself. 

+ I felt the baby's first kicks and flutters at around 16 weeks. What an incredible feeling it is to know that there is this tiny human inside of me, moving around in a barely detectable, yet totally unmistakable way.

+ Since locking myself out of the house that first time very early on in pregnancy, I have locked us out at least once more and left my keys in the front door about three times. I am not at all surprised by this, because I did all kinds of crazy things with keys when pregnant with Ruby, but it is still slightly concerning, nonetheless!

+ The miracle of pregnancy and marvel of growing a tiny human is no less great this pregnancy than it was the first time around. I find it completely mind blowing and totally normal, all at the same time. If anything, I think I feel an even greater awe and reverence for the process of growing and birthing babies. In the time since having Ruby, we have had a lot of friends experience some extremely painful times in pregnancy and childbirth, and it is truly humbling when all is well so far in this pregnancy. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The 52 Project: 48/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2015.'

Dear Ruby, 
This week brought with it the special occasion of your second birthday! Hooray! For many weeks now, you have been singing, 'Happy Birthday' to everyone and everything, and finally, it was your turn to be sung to by your family and friends. 
You napped during the first part of your party, just as you had last year, but what was lovely was that as soon as you woke up and realised your friends had arrived and were playing downstairs, you wanted to join them immediately. I suggested that you change into your party dress, but your response was, 'No, downstairs, now. See friends.' I love that you prioritise people over clothes, and I hope this never changes! 
Even though you have loved the many renditions of singing, 'Happy Birthday' over the last few weeks, I was well aware that when everyone at the party started singing it to you, you might feel a little overwhelmed by it, but you took it in your stride, and might just have stuck your finger up your nose for good measure. I am pretty sure that Auntie Hannah caught that moment on camera! But you're two, so you can get away with things like that. 
All my love,
Mama xxx