Please, no…not the Big Telly!

I CAN feel the stress coming off Smithy in waves as my friend’s son wipes food-covered hands across the beloved Big Telly.

My husband’s face – and knuckles – have gone white through the effort of trying to stay calm.

He makes a noise under his breath that sounds like: “Nnnnmmmmmhhhhh!”

Said friend – our fifth visitor of the day – continues talking, oblivious to his distress. 

She kicks off her shoes, leaving large specks of mud on the carpet.

Then her boy turns his attention from the Big Telly to a patch of clean wall, which he also begins to adorn with mashed banana.

Smithy, who now has steam coming from his ears, leaves the room and I can only assume he’s gone to search the internet for ‘ways to clean fruit off a big telly’.

Finally the friend takes my not-so-subtle hints and leaves – and for a brief window we have the house to ourselves.

This has been a rare event since the baby was born, as the entire North West has ‘just popped in’ to get a glimpse of Her Maj.

“Ahhhh!” sighs Smithy, as he happily Dettols the wall. “Silence is golden!”

Then the phone rings and it’s a man from Pakistan (I Googled the area code) asking for someone called Sarah. 

He talks at me (in another language) for several minutes as I try to explain I’m not Sarah.

“Oh!” he suddenly says in English. “I’ve got the wrong number!”

He hangs up.

Silence reigns…until the baby starts crying. And right on cue, there’s a knock at the door.

“Hiiii!” says a delivery driver. “Parcel for next door. Can I leave it with you? Can I take your name?”

I realise in my baby-induced sleep-deprived state I can’t remember my name.

“Er…it’s er…” I pause for several seconds too long. “It’s…Anna?”

It definitely sounds more like a question.

By 7.30pm Smithy and I are collapsed in bed.

Although we are obviously not sleeping because a) the baby is wide awake and b) the phone is ringing.

“Only me!” says the voice on the other end. “How are you fixed if me and the kids pop in tomorrow?”

I turn to Smithy once I’m off the phone.

“We need to hide the telly,” I inform him.

He looks back at me, tiredness etched across his face. 

“No,” he says. “We need to hide the bloody house.”

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on March 26, 2015.

2am? Must be time for some retail therapy.

I’M three weeks into motherhood and my bank account has already taken a hammering.

This is not, as you might think, because of the thousands of nappies, baby wipes and bottles of disinfectant I’ve already used. 

(And did I mentioned the nappies?! There are so many of them!)

Nor is it because every time I go to Tesco I end up buying yet more clothes for the baby (“but she’ll look soooo cute!” is justification enough, in my mind).

No, the reason my bank account is emptying faster than you can say ‘maternity pay’ is because I’ve developed a dangerous 2am addiction to eBay.

This is wholly thanks to my daughter, who turns into a mini-beast at midnight every single night and decides to begin a marathon, three-hour feed.

So what else am I supposed to do but batter mine (or even better, Smithy’s) PayPal accounts?!

Over the last few nights alone I’ve spent the gross domestic product of a small country buying things that in the cold light of day I slightly regret.

I’m now the not-so-proud owner of – among other things – a turquoise dustpan and brush, a purple clothes maiden, a jumper with a faux-fur trim (why?) and a dress that’s a size too small, but which I’m sure I’ll fit into one day, if I can just win a bid on a decent exercise DVD.

I’ve also bought thoughtful gifts for both Smithy and the baby – although, as my husband pointed out with a perplexed look on his face, matching Christmas jumpers might have been more useful three months ago.

I’m also finding my mood in the mornings is dictated less by how little sleep I’ve had, and more by whether I won that bargain Phase Eight dress or whether I was outbid at the last minute on a set of BNIB (brand new in box – get with the lingo, people) stainless steel pans.

So the half-asleep spending continues, much to the delight of my postman, who I must be single-handedly keeping in a job.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 3am and I’ve got some serious shopping to do.

I’ve seen a set of cutlery that I don’t need, and it won’t buy itself now, will it?

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on March 19, 2015.

Pregnant – and planetary.

I wrote the article below at the start of my maternity leave, when the rest of the country was enjoying a gorgeous, thick blanket of snow… For the pregnant it was not an enjoyable time!

LIKE most people, I’m well and truly sick of winter.

But it’s not the temperature, the dark nights or even the increased heating bills which have left me cold – but the fact I can’t participate in any of the upsides of the season to make it worthwhile.

It turns out winter is not a joyous time for the heavily pregnant.

“Yay for the snow!” shrieked my entire Facebook friends list last week. “Who’s up for sledging??”

I started to reply that I was already pulling on my hat and scarf, when the baby (or is she in fact a bowling ball?) kicked me very sharply to remind me to “take it easy”.

“Yeah I guess she’s right,” said Smithy, as he grabbed his gloves on the way out of the front door. “I suppose you had better sit this one out…”

Snowmen were built without me and all the perfect, untouched patches of the white stuff were duly marked with footprints that were not mine.

And more importantly, the après-ski was enjoyed by everybody but me, as the Baileys and mulled wine had to be substituted for slightly-less-interesting hot blackcurrant squash.

But these, I’ve discovered, are the trials and tribulations of being pregnant – and planetary.

I’m pretty sure I’m starting to develop my own gravitational pull, and soon pets and small children will be in danger from the magnetic field.

I’ll find cats and small dogs suddenly zooming towards my beach-ball-middle as I simply try and waddle to the corner shop and back.

And that’s before I’ve even addressed my own fears – such as “is that person going to walk too close and trip me up?” or “is that an innocent patch of pavement or is it black ice masquerading as an innocent patch of pavement?”

So, like I say, winter can well and truly  move along now, taking its “fun” with it.

And if the baby would like to make an appearance (returning my body to its rightful owner) that would also be very much appreciated…

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on January 29, 2015.

Sorry, deepest apologies, must do better…

I’ve not updated this blog in a very long time but I’m determined to do better this year. Consider this a (very late) New Years resolution?

I’ve previously used this site simply as another platform for my weekly column published in the Gazette, but this year I hope it will become a diary of sorts, documenting what is undoubtedly going to be the biggest learning curve of my life.

I began maternity leave on December 31 and my life has been very different since then. The first six weeks were spent resting and nesting as I prepared for what was to come. Not being in work anymore was a massive adjustment and it was strange suddenly having an expanse of time stretching ahead of me without anything to get up for.

In those six weeks I learned a lot: that I don’t suit not having a routine, that I need to have something to get up for every day and, above all else, that daytime TV is rubbish. I also realised that the postman wears shorts every day, even when it snows.

It was hard trying to reconcile my instinct (to be busy, busy, busy) with what my heavily-pregnant body could manage, which was not much. So I spent a lot of time eating chocolate biscuits and watching Grey’s Anatomy and wishing the baby would hurry up and make an appearance.

Then on February 24 my life turned upside down and inside out and I was thrown headfirst into motherhood, when my gorgeous daughter came into the world after a long (39 hours) and very painful labour (I realise there’s no other kind…)

The last three weeks, since then, have been spent in a daze of sleepless nights and nappies. I’m exhausted. I had no idea it would be this hard.

Now, eating a meal with two hands is a luxury, as is making a cup of tea, going to the loo or having a cuddle with my husband. These things are now done invariably to a backdrop of a baby’s cries.

However, the last three weeks have also been amazing. I had no idea I could love another human being so deeply and unconditionally; and loving my daughter like this has made me love my husband even more. I had no idea another person could cause me such fear and I’m now terrified of anything happening to this precious little baba. I also had no idea the smallest of smiles (in reality, probably wind…) could make my heart melt.

So over the next few months there will probably be a lot of posts about motherhood and its trials and tribulations, as well as my general thoughts/rants on life.

As always, please feel free to comment 🙂

Anna xx