In a break from my usual style, I thought I would take a moment on this New Year’s Eve to reflect upon the year I’ve had and think back to this time last year, looking particularly at how far I’ve come both as a person and as a mother.
New Year’s Eve 2016 was a quiet affair with my 12 week old daughter… I spent it watching the fireworks on BBC 1 and enjoying Robbie Williams’ show. This year is fairly similar, except for the fact that I will not be breastfeeding BG every few hours – she is in fact already snoring in her cot as I type this – and I hope that once my own bedtime arrives (which most probably will still be in the year 2017!), I will be able to enjoy a peaceful, non-eventful night of BG sleeping through.
2017 started off well. Making the most of “term-time” prices for holidays, my husband, BG and I headed off to join my parents in Tenerife in January. We were THAT family… joining the plane with a very small baby. You could almost hear audible groans from fellow passengers expecting a tortuous 4 hour flight to the Canaries and naturally I was anxious – I didn’t want to upset anyone. I have been THAT person who rolls their eyes and utters a barely audible groan when a small child is seated nearby on a plane, and I didn’t want our little family to be the cause of someone else’s horrific flight. Thankfully, BG was as good as gold and didn’t so much as cry all the way there – in fact, she slept for most of it. Also, travelling with a very small human wasn’t half as scary as I thought it was going to be and we had a lovely week away catching some winter sun. Upon our return, I had my BG commemorative tattoo completed too which for me, was also a very happy occasion! In addition, BG’s 2nd cousin was also born and there were more family celebrations.
In February we had BG’s Christening in a church where 8 generations of my husbands family had been baptised before her and where my mother (a Reverend in her own right) baptised her own Granddaughter. It really was truly a wonderful family celebration and we enjoyed every minute of it.
March saw my first Mother’s Day and a wonderful collage of pictures of our first 6 months as a family created on canvas by my lovely husband and we started BG on her first taste of foods. It soon became apparent that she loved her food and required 2 spoons to hold whilst eating, one for each hand, whilst a 3rd was used by an appropriate adult to feed her.
In April, my final month of Maternity leave, we made the most of my remaining time off and headed out to the Scilly Isles, specifically, Tresco. This travel journey involved a rather long drive to Exeter Airport, a flight on what can only be described as the world’s tiniest plane powered by monkeys (I am not a brilliant flyer – the plane sat 16 people, it was THAT small!) to St Mary’s Island. This flight also included a stop off at Newquay Airport to pick up a couple of additional passengers. The journey to our holiday lodgings continued upon arrival on St Mary’s with a minibus to a harbour, then a speed boat across the sea to Tresco Island and finished off with a tractor-taxi from the harbour at the other side to our holiday cottage… all with a 6 month old baby in tow. It was not the most relaxing of journeys TO a holiday but the holiday itself was a wonderful way to finish my maternity leave (and make the most of being able to take holidays in term time).
In May, I went back to work 4 days per week. It was a time of mixed emotion. I enjoyed being back at work immensely, I started to feel properly like me again but at the same time felt guilty about leaving my baby at home. We thankfully have a wonderful nanny who comes to our house daily who is an absolute godsend – I honestly don’t know how we would have managed childcare organisation without her. My husband works for the NHS and does not have anything remotely resembling a regular shift pattern and so a ‘regular’ nursery placement wasn’t an option as they are simply so inflexible and similarly, the need for flexibility meant a childminder was not an option either. One of my closest friends gave birth to her very much loved Baby Boy (and he is LOVELY!) – potentially BG’s future husband, we’re not entirely sure how well they actually get on just yet.
On top of these emotions during May, it was also a very sad time for us when my Uncle was tragically killed when he was knocked off his motorbike by a lorry on the M6. To say it devastated the family would be an understatement. The death of a relative is never easy, but somehow an unexpected death of a relatively young person (at least, not an elderly grandparent who has been poorly for a while) in such tragic circumstances makes it all the more difficult to deal with. I’m still not sure I’ve completely processed this event even now.
In June we said farewell to my lovely Grandmother who finally lost her battle with liver cancer (after a very brave and somewhat stubborn fight!). This also left a massive gap in our family, and left me without any grandparents of my own left. It was doubly sad as BG started crawling properly this month and my Grandma missed out on these milestones – she was very proud of BG.
There were some happy times though in June, it wasn’t all death and despair. The Bestie and I saw Robbie Williams (again!) at the Olympic Park in London and at the end of June (creeping into July) we celebrated her wonderfully organised Hen Do – which, in my humble organiser-in-chief opinion, was excellent.
In July I left my job at the school I worked at ready to start at a new school on 1st September, one set of BG’s godparents got married in County Cork and my Bestie also got married – lots of excuses for lovely frocks and lots of fizz drinking.
August saw another family christening, the introduction of Version 1 of our HMP institution in the living room (we managed to contain BG in there for approximately 2 months before her velociraptor nature worked out how to escape) and my birthday. Given that at my previous birthday I was heavily pregnant and unable to drink any form of ‘fun’ alcoholic beverage (the mere smell of the stuff was awful to me whilst I was pregnant – to the point where it was banned from the house) I decided I would make up for it by enjoying some very nice wine. We also managed to squeeze in a family holiday to Devon to stop with my Mother-in-Law – and it was tremendous.
In September, I started my new job at a new school with new colleagues – all very daunting, but a great experience and one term in I am still loving the new role. BG also started ‘cruising’ using furniture and breaking out of HMP BG. A new Maximum-Security HMP BG was swiftly sourced and purchased and to this day remains an excellent child containment zone. My baby sister also got married in this month on what turned out to be yet another wonderful family celebration.
October saw BG celebrate her first birthday and take her first unaided steps. My sister also announced that BG would be gaining her first cousin in May 2018 – all very exciting indeed.
In November, BG started clapping and imitating what others do and she also discovered the joys of painting.
Which brings us to December… BG now is walking all the time when she is not asleep. She is constantly on the go. All the live long day (it’s actually quite exhausting!). She also babbles constantly so I suspect that in the not too distant future we will start hearing proper words and attempts at sentences which I can’t wait for! She’s also just started trying to use a spoon herself – with varying degrees of success – and appears to have developed the “terrible twos” significantly early. Her 2nd Christmas was brilliant as she seemed to have some awareness of what was happening, at least I like to think she did anyway.
It has been a mixed year with some deep and terrible lows, but even more amazing highs. I am excited for the adventures that 2018 will bring and I’d like to take the opportunity to wish those of you reading a Happy New Year. I don’t, as a general rule, make resolutions for New Years, but I am hoping that I will be able to stick to one new post a fortnight and already have a couple of topics planned, including (but not limited to) “The Child-Free Friends and why they are awesome” and “What is CBeebies actually teaching our children?!”
I look forward to sharing some of my thoughts and adventures with you all – Happy New Year.