Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The 52 Project: 30/52

 'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
I love watching you learn and seeing the ways you explore the world. In the last week or so, you seem to be exploring an enveloping schema, which involves wrapping all manner of things up. You often wrap a quilt inside a swaddling blanket, or an envelope inside another envelope. With this in mind, I thought you might particularly enjoy a treasure hunt using a variety of plastic eggs and jars
with surprises inside them. It took all of about five minutes to prepare this for you to do, and you absolutely loved searching in the alley behind our house for all of the hidden treasure. You then carried on this game after we had finished by collecting blackberries from the bushes in the alley and popping them inside your little eggs. These are the small but significant moments that I love about motherhood.
All my love,
Mummy xxx

Dear Jude,
I have just looked back at the letter I wrote you last week, and shook my head in disbelief when I read that you were becoming happier with sleeping in the sling during the day. Maybe that was the case for a couple of days last week. But this week? Absolutely not the case. The phrase 'sleep fighter' came to mind over, and over, and over again last week. Sometimes you'd take three hours to fall asleep, then nap for forty minutes before waking up, ready to repeat this cycle over and over again until night time. There were a few occasions where I thought I might lose my mind, but thankfully, I am still just about sane. On the bright side, we are clocking up an enormous number of miles walked together. Thank you for putting me through my paces in every respect, little one.

You have started trying to giggle which is the loveliest thing to watch and hear. It mainly involves you doing your ear to ear smile, then taking a sharp intake of breath and making this squeaky sound that's akin to laughing. I love watching your joy develop.

All my love,
Mama xxx
P.S Your eyelashes are phenomenal.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The 52 Project: 29/52

'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
I took this photo of you while you were playing Hide and Seek with Daddy in the rose garden at Ashton Court. You were in the middle of saying, 'where is he? Where he gone?' and I love that your whole body language speaks that question too. You never seem to tire of this game, and the rose garden provided the perfect place for Daddy to hide - plenty of benches behind tall rose bushes so that he could have a little rest while you looked for him!
I love your joy, little one.
All my love, 
Mummy xxx


Dear Jude,
My sweet sleep-smiler. I can't get over the number of times since you were born where I have gone to take a photo of you and you have broken into a smile while sleeping. I love this about you. You are eleven weeks old today, and I am so thankful for the small but significant changes that have happened this last week. You are becoming much calmer and happier, and more content to drop off to sleep in the sling, which is wonderful.
All my love,
Mama xxx

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The 52 Project: 28/52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
One of the things I like to do with all of your books is rotate the ones in our baskets and our our shelves according to the seasons. My attempts to do this have been mildly thwarted by you, as I keep returning a selection of your Winter books to the shelf. only to have you request these books at bedtime. The one book that has featured most highly this year is called 'Bear Snores On.' Even though this is a book about a hibernating bear, set in the Winter months, I secretly love that you keep asking for it, as I really enjoy reading it. It has such a great rhythm to it and my favourite like is, 'An itty bitty mouse piter-patter tip toes, creep-crawls through the cave through the fluff cold snow.' You have started this routine with Daddy at bedtime when reading where you say, 'I read quietly, you read louder'. then you proceed to provide a whispered accompaniment which is badly out of sync. This makes Daddy giggle and you say, 'you laughing at something - what you laughing 'bout?!' We love you and watching you learn and grown.

Here's a few of my favourite conversations with you from this week:

R: 'What's that banging noise?'
Me: 'It's Daddy making coffee,'
R: I want to make you a coffee.
M: Ooh I'd love that, thank you.
R; I'm going to sprinkle hot sauce on it

While walking along the railway path (finding moths, the smallest snails ever, and beautiful flowers):
You: 'I just need to have some water for my energy. I've got some water in my energy, Mummy.'

Playing in the garden, mixing soil and water together:
'I'm making mud, Mummy. Just normal mud. And soil.'

All my love,
Mummy xxx


Dear Jude,
After you were born, I quickly discovered that feeding you is very different to what feeding Ruby was like when she was your age. (I promise you that I will not spend your life comparing you to your sister, but at this age when you are so young, it is fascinating to me to notice the differences between my babies.) She would feed for long periods of time, and my Mum once commented that none of her babies had taken as long to feed as Ruby did. She would without fail fall asleep while feeding, and happily nurse for hours. You, on the other hand, take between five and ten minutes to feed, and you very rarely fall asleep in the 'milk drunk' way that babies often do. If ever I offer you more milk in the hope that it might comfort you when you're fretful, you look at me with an expression which says, 'are you serious, Mum? I have had enough, why would I want more?!' If only I could take the same approach with chocolate as you do with milk.

Grandad came to visit this week (my Dad) and worked wonders at calming you down and helping you sleep. You are very blessed to have four very calm and patient grandparents who will do anything it takes to help you. One evening after you had had your first round of vaccinations and were particularly unsettled, Grandad wrapped you up in the sling and went walking with you. I hope you always know how loved you are by us and your Grandparents.
All my love,
Mama xx

Friday, 8 July 2016

Sixty One Days

It's been sixty one days since Jude joined us in this big, beautiful world. There's a kind of intensity to the feelings that Motherhood provokes in me that nothing else does, and I know that what feels hard and intense now will all too soon become a faded memory. I find it quite cathartic to imagine re-telling my children the stories of our early days and weeks together when they are grown up. So I thought I would share a little extract from one of my diary entries last week, typed into my phone while I lay on my bed with Jude finally sleeping on my chest after spending the last three hours trying to help him settle. I find the words come very easily to me in the thick of the difficult moments, but will soon disappear, replaced by the next wave of mildness or madness. This season of adjusting to life with two children does feel quite tidal, for want of a good metaphor. There are plenty of moments of calm, and then the tides come, loud, chaotic, crashing and crushing, intense and all consuming, but then they pass, making way for the calm again.

It's 5.30am
You wake up, crying. Your transition from night to day. I feed you, you scream a little then settle. Hairdryer on. 
It's your favourite kind of white noise. Knocks you right out to sleep in a way that nothing else does. I'm so hungry, I have to eat before I sleep again so I creep downstairs, hoping not to wake Ruby and John. 
A bowl of granola and half a mug of hot water later, and then you wake from your peaceful slumber, tiny hands flailing upwards to your face in a way that signals your hunger. The five seconds it takes to lift you into my lap and ready myself to feed you is too long. 
So the crying begins. You feed then scream. You burp then scream some more. Like you're in pain but I don't know what else I can do to help you. 
Hairdryer goes back on. 
Over my shoulder and you calm. Body goes heavy. Fall asleep. 

It's evening now and this pattern looks so familiar to the morning routine. 
From 8pm onwards, Dad and I take it in turns to try and settle you to sleep. 
Feed? Not interested. 
Swaddle and rock to no avail. 
So I change your nappy - sometimes this acts like pressing a reset button. It distracts you from your tears just long enough to break a smile or five. That sweet gummy, full-faced, eyes bright light up smile and we exchange our affection for one another. 
You with your beaming and me with my, 'I love you's'. 
After a while of hairdryer blaring its beautiful white noise I take you back downstairs. My arms are getting weary now. 
You are only young, but you are long and strong and I need to pass you to your Daddy. 
Back and forth we go, tag teaming as one eats and one cuddles you, willing you to surrender to sleep. You drift off for half an hour, only to wake again and for us to start the whole process of helping you off to dreamland. Your lip quivers as you cry a sleepy cry, your hands claw at your face and so we assume our position on my bed - the one that seems to calm you the most. 
I lay down, you lay on my chest, body and legs outstretched. The top of your head nestled under my chin, your long legs reaching halfway down my thighs. How are you this long already?
I hold your hand to stop you clawing your face and for a moment we both gaze out of the window at the summer time sky. 
Clouds are full of colour tonight and light spills across the room. 
A wriggle and a shuffle and you move up towards my chin, tossing head from side to side, not sure of what you need. Sleep or feed? Sleep or feed?
Time for milk again, you feed. 
Gulping down the sweet white stuff, only to scream when you've had enough. 
Back over my shoulder you go and I pat pat pat your tiny back to get the wind out of your tummy. 
It's not welcome there, but daily we find that this is the grind. 
Milk, burp, scream then settle. Swaddle again and now the hairdryer draws your eyes shut tight as you succumb to sleep for the night. 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The 52 Project: 27/52

 'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
You go to sleep each night with a growing collection of items in your bed. Tonight I took a quick inventory after you got out of bed for the third time, asking for cuddles with Daddy. You had a squish toy, a sheet of insect stickers (including one stuck to your back), two dolls knitted by one of Granny's old colleagues' Mother's, little moon bunny (named after Topsy's bunny in Topsy & Tim), a Lamaze baby toy that you found in your wardrobe, another baby toy with a bell attached, and a duck-billed platypus puppet. There's also a polar bear (that Daddy's work gave you as a baby) and the bear that I've had since I was little. My older brother (Uncle John) and I each had one that we got from buying so many pairs of Clarks shoes. He cut a 'hole' of hair in my bear's head so we would always know whose bear was whose, but really I think it was just to antagonize me. He called it a bullet hole, upsetting me at the thought that my bear had been shot. Way back then when we weren't very kind to each other. Last but not least, you have an enormous bead toy which you seem perfectly comfortable sleeping with, much to my amazement.
I love you and your quirky ways.
All my love,
Mummy xxx


Dear Jude,
I have started reading a book this week called, 'Nobody Told Me' by Hollie McNish. It is the perfect book for me to read in this season of you being a new baby, and all of the mild madness which this brings. You currently love lying under your black and white contrast mobile, focusing intently on the patterns you can see. You can also spend an incredible amount of time kicking your arms and legs, every part of you moving, moving, moving. 
All my love,
Mama xxx

Friday, 1 July 2016

Jude Benjamin // Two Months.

Jude Benjamin, you have the widest eyes, the curliest lashes and the most active limbs. You were such a calm baby while my womb was your home, but now that you have all the space you need to move, your limbs don't stop moving. You can happily lie kicking & waving for 30 minutes at a time. You fight sleep in the day, but embrace it during the night (thank you, Lord!) Keep growing strong, little one.