Christmas is nearly upon us and I am so excited for it. I have always really liked Christmas (who doesn't apart from Scrooge?) but since having A Small Person it has got a million times better. It is like it gives you that extra reason to celebrate and deck the house in fairylights. Wriggles isn't generally that bothered with the whole shebang to date, but she does quite like trying to pull the Christmas tree ontop of her head. She is such a magpie (baubles, other people's watches, my glasses, tin foil, mince pie cases, teaspoons, forks, tin openers, the kettle, god forbid once a lunge for the breadknife........) at present as would quite happily spend all the time rolling in the decoration. I finally remembered I have fairylights today as popped them on the tree and it was a treat to see her little face light up. We have also been into central Newcastle to see the legendary deliciously over the top Fenwicks window display, which rendered her a bit nonplussed, and this morning went to the TinyTalk Christmas Party. I have spent evenings this week making her a Christmas tree fancy dress in the style of a novelty pinafore. It was something refreshing from mindlessly debating about whether to wash up and felt like a bit of an awakening of Old Me. BC (before child) I had completed a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and been part of a craft "mafia" and run an admittedly, mini business selling prints and textile good. I would spend regular Sundays lugging wares around craft fairs and inevitably spending all my profits on the cake stall.
I digress; Wriggles today looked as cute as a (festive) button and I am supposed to be packing to leave Sunday morning to battle the intrepid world of the East Coast mainline to spend Christmas with my parents and younger sister in Kent. I am apprehensive about 5 hours on a train with a busy-handed-and-minded baby who is beginning to discover her own mind, but looking forward to being surrounded by family as to me that is the essence of Christmas. The only thing I very mildly dislike about my life, is that I am quite far geographically from my family and being without a partner, it can get a little lonely at times. Day to day I am very content but it would be lovely to see them more often. I am hopeful that in the next couple of years I will be able to move closer, as I'm pretty certain my parents miss seeing Wriggles grow up week-to-week and I would not turn away some more support! Telephones are a godsend, but there is nothing like a face to face blether over a cup of tea.
It feels as if this is going to be the first Christmas; last year she was "officially" two weeks old and very much a newborn smidge. She was on oxygen and full of the premature baby snuffle (think woodland animal in the undergrowth) and newborn bleat. She slept through quite a bit of Christmas Day and worried most guests who thought she looked very fragile. I was also in a muddle; partly the fug of being a new mum as she has been home a little over a month so i was in the thick of night feeds and erratic routine fatigue, and partly I was still reeling from the SCBU experience. My mum was very keen to show Wriggles off to all but it was simply to overwhelming for me (not to mention the terror of contracting RSV!). "I don't understand" my mum complained after I had a bit of a freak out after being surrounded by her very extrovert work friends who I did not know, "why aren't you PROUD of her? She's wonderful!" I tried to explain but couldn't make her see and to an extent, still can't. It isn't that at all; I am so proud of her it hurts. She is to me, perfect in every single way and more. Every time I hold her, I fall in love all over again. The simple fact is, that after the shock of the birth and hospital, my mind was the fragile thing not her. Whether it was fallout from the months previous, post-natal depression or post-traumatic stress I do not know and it is really beside the point now, but after the weeks and weeks of having to ask for permission to touch my baby, leaving her every night and breath holding after every step back, I desperately needed both time and space to establish the bond proper. In my last post I wrote about the first time we were alone, rooming in. After that blissful weekend, it was nearly five months before we got some space to ourselves as for various reasons I had to return to a flat-share as I was unable to move in time for discharge. I lived with a well-meaning but very challenging housemate in slightly complicated circumstances. It was a bleak time for me as I struggled to accept my daughter would ever love me and that I was a passable parent. I lived in constant fear she preferred everyone else and felt as if I was swimming underwater as the world went about it's business up above with no concern for me.
This last year has been challenging, but when I look back we have both come on in leaps and bounds. I really could have done without the constant hospital admissions (Wriggles definitely could have done without them) but if I put those aside, I could be a different person from last year. Although I haven't put all my demons to rest, I now have a gorgeous 15 month old who is growing up fast. I have a clear idea of her wants and needs, and we (I think!) understand each other through the medium of raspberries, moos and quacks and errrrr some guesswork. We have a rough routine; I can tell you her favourite things (books; Christmas Hedgehog, stuffed donkey, making noise, Old Macdonald and Wheels on the Bus, peekaboo and spinning toys around) and pet hates (anything food related, wearing any hats apart from party hats, putting her coat on, wiping noses, the hoover), she knows her name and she knows and importantly trusts me. We are each others constants and I adore on weekends getting her into my bed first thing in the morning so we can sleepily come to nose-to-nose and she can blissfully poke my eye out. I can recognise the difference between a rational and irrational thought (mine) and I can ask for help, even if I don't always get it. I know that a bad day does not equal a bad mum and that I am doing my best, which is all I can do, and so far it seems to be working. I would love to say that anxiety is a thing of the past and I am a social butterfly but it is not true-yet! But it is better, far far better. I have had time now, especially since moving in April. It has meant the world and my personal sanity having a space I can call ours, just ours, and being able to establish a private routine and family and to be able to exercise choice on my part of what we do, when we do and who we see.