Making this blog happen is not being an easy task. I didn’t forget about it. I just don’t have time to do it. And, to be honest, even when I can have little break, I usually don’t have the will to do it.
I find myself thinking and rehearsing in my mind what I’ll write next, but when I’m in front of the computer my eyes wander aimlessly at the screen, scrolling up and down my Facebook feed. And when I realise, I have to rush again, sooth a baby, make dinner, have a shower. Yes, because even looking after myself sometimes feels like a chore.
So I downloaded the WordPress app (which I’m using right now). The plan was to write posts or at least drafts from my phone when Henry is napping or playing by himself (two if the rarest events in the universe). It’s being months since the app is in my phone. It’s been used once.
The thing is… writing, to me, is a very big deal. English is not my first language and I have never had a formal lesson apart from some classes when I was in primary school. So it just doesn’t come easy. Talking is easier, reading is second nature, but writing requires thought. Lately even speaking became less fluid because I’ve been speaking Portuguese with Henry and my brain is a bit tired.
Then there’s choosing a subject.  I’ve done loads I  the last year, but my crochet and knitting deserve photos and my parenting and motherhood mental drafts always end up so negative, with a lot of complaining and whining that even  I get fed up (see, I’m aware of it). But maybe I should write them anyway. I’ve got photos of my crafts, they could be posted later (more likely never, but hey, at least it’s a start!) And maybe offloading the frustration and tiredness would help them go away.
I know it just takes a few minutes to write a blog post. The quality may be questionable but at least I would keep the blog going and, more importantly, I would keep myself going. For the time being I’ll do what I can.  

It’s Mother’s Day!

Well done to all of us who put up a fight with our lovely little monsters every day to get them dressed, fed and happy!

Now I’m off to clean some weetabix with banana off my floor and put the nappies in the washing.

First time mother: the theory and the reality

It’s been more than 6 months that I brought my baby home. All this time I felt a massive mix of feelings, mainly frustration and happiness. I’ve got a healthy, smiley baby. He’s gorgeous and other than for a strong aversion to sleeping (I guess the world is just too amazing to waste time sleeping), he’s easy to look after. My frustration comes from what I was told caring for a baby should be. I explain.

I never wanted to be a mother and when I decided, with my husband, that it was time to change that, I was too busy to actually prepare for it. I never observed other babies, never even liked children (not sure if I do yet…) so obviously I knew nothing about little monsters.During pregnancy I was studying, working, doing my NVQ, moving house, getting married… I didn’t have time to enjoy pregnancy (which I regret a little) or to learn what babies are like. So at the end of the 9 months we went to a 3 session ante-natal course, offered locally. It was really good and we received lots of advice. And I want to say ‘good advice’, but I’m not sure about the good. The midwives running the course had good intentions and the NHS care where we live is amazing when it comes to pregnancy and child care. The problem is that reality and theory couldn’t be more different, at least in our case.

We were told all about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), or cot death, as we know it. We learned about room temperature, the approximate tog for each item of clothing, how to put the baby to sleep on his back in a cot or basket, the importance of keeping him in the room with us at all times. All very well. Apart from the detail that his room is rarely under the ideal temperature. And that we opted for cloth nappies and the tog information was for disposables (as new parents EVERY detail count). And that our baby simple refused to sleep in his basket, and still does. so imagine my desperation when I was massively sleep deprived and baby would sleep only if I held him. Because, obviously, in my mind, if I put him on his side or front to sleep, or in bed with me, he would die. Obviously.

Then there was breastfeeding. Oh God! That was even worse, because now it was all on me, I couldn’t share this one with Rob. The emphasis on breastfeeding is so strong that formula feeding is not even discussed (one of the midwives even apologised for that) and we were told that the mother will produce as much milk as the baby needs, never less or of lesser quality. Well, I tell you, it didn’t make me feel particularly happy or proud to be a mother when my baby was crying because he was hungry and my breasts were empty. And since formula feeding wasn’t even discussed, we didn’t know what to do, how to choose something suitable. I cried many, many times because I was letting my baby go hungry, which made me feel like the worse person in the world. Add that to hormonal changes after pregnancy, lack of sleep and general baby blues and bang! a perfect recipe for post natal depression. Which thankfully I didn’t get to have yet, but I’m under watch.

I know that health and social services have to give us all the best advice and that the NHS works based on evidence and statistics. I know breastfeeding gives babies a tailored recipe full of exactly what they need and formula can’t do that. But I also know that there’s not one size fits all method and I think we were led to believe that there is. OK, we were naive to think that everything will follow the perfect plan, and maybe even in trusting the advice received so blindly. But when you’re talking about cot death, how do you choose which risk to take? Do I risk crushing my baby by putting him to sleep with us or do I risk letting him suffocate in his own vomit by putting him to sleep on his front? I mean, my mum put all 3 of us to sleep on our bellies and we’re all alive. In fact she almost freaked out when I said I was going to put my baby to sleep on his back, because that’s the way she learned and she did with her children and it worked fine and if the baby throws up the vomit won’t suffocate him, right? Right?

So there it is. We learned the hard way that all advice, even official NHS and WHO advice have to be taken with a pinch of salt.  Now we’re weaning Henry and we’re more relaxed. We still follow the advice we receive, but not to the letter. It’s making everything so much easier.I’m still a bit frustrated that I can’t carry on breastfeeding him a little longer, but he’s healthy and chubbier now, so I guess we’re doing the right thing by using formula in most milk feeds and using expressed breast milk to prepare food for him. I hope one day I can help other women to feel the confidence I didn’t (and still don’t) have. After all, a relaxed, confident mother does a much better job.

Flower Bomb

So, after more than 6 months I managed to pick up my crochet hook again to make something new. I did do a few rows of a blanket in January, when my parents were here, but I don’t count that.  It was too rushed and I just did it for the sake of doing it, not really for the enjoyment of crochet, choosing colours and pattern and thinking about the modifications!  Now I’m doing it all!
I chose the Flower Crochet Amish Puzzle Ball, a free pattern by Dedri, from Look at What I Made. It’s colourful, it’s easy and I already have all the yarn I need to finish it. But more importantly, it’s a small motif pattern, so I can get bits of it done in the short intervals between Henry’s feed-play-sleep cycle.
I’m not really changing the pattern but for one detail.  At the beginning of the petals round, I don’t start with a loop and 2 chains as the pattern says.  I do an “air stitch”. I discovered I could start a stitch with a new strand of yarn without having to attach the yarn to the work. I didn’t invent this technique, and probably not it’s name either, but I like it. Here’s how I do it.

Start with a slipknot

Start with a slipknot

Then, carefully, wrap the yarn over the hook once (or as many times as required to make the stitch you want). Keep the slipknot firmly held in place.

Then, carefully, wrap the yarn over the hook once (or as many times as required to make the stitch you want). Keep the slipknot firmly held in place.

Insert the hook in the base stitch.

Insert the hook in the base stitch.

Yarn over and pull through the stitch...

Yarn over and pull through the stitch…

Flower Bomb 7

…nearly there…

... and finish the stitch as usual.

… and finish the stitch as usual.

When making my Rainbow Blanket I used the air stitch in the middle of a row of DC and left a long tail to hide well into the fabric.  It looks secure and since the next row was also DC only, there is no visible gap between end of yarn and beginning of new yarn, but I can’t swear by it because the blanket is not in use yet. Let’s see what the future brings. It works well in the beginning of a row, with no difference from attaching the new yarn directly to the work.

The difference between parenting and motherhood:

Since Henry was born I’ve been thinking about the difference between parenting and motherhood. i didn’t look in the dictionary, I don’t really want to know the official meaning of the words. I just feel they are so different, that I keep trying to put feelings, thoughts, even facebook posts into two boxes, one labelled motherhood and the other parenting.

Here’s how I see them. Parenting is how to educate your child. Focus on the child’s educational needs – good manners, playing games, discipline, make sure they are clean, safe, fed, the homework is done and so on. Something my husband will share with me, after all, he is also a parent.

Now, motherhood, that’s a completely different story. This is something exclusive to me. Rob will never know what motherhood is because… well, because he is a man, so he will experience fatherhood. Motherhood is how I feel about being a mother: fear, happiness, love, doubts, insecurities. No doubt many men have these same feelings, and Rob does so too, but our view of the world is different because of the different roles we play. There is also the biological, tribal, all female thing, I don’t know how to explain. That bond that women have for having gone through the challenge of becoming mothers (whether through pregnancy or adoption), that links me, to my mother, my grandmother and all the women in my family.

I had my parents staying with us for 3 weeks and my motherhood clan theory was proved right. My mum gave me a lot of advice and some criticism as well (of course), but more than anything, we shared the experience of 35 years ago and now. I felt closer than ever to her when I said that breastfeeding is being an almost endless source of frustration for me, and she agreed. She had exactly the same problems when I was born. That gave me not only comfort, but also confidence to know I’m doing the right thing and am not the only one to struggle. In fact, it made me stronger as a mother and as a daughter because now I know my mother and I are even more alike.

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

…the morning, actually. Christmas Eve 2013, 7a.m. I was working in the sterile unit in the manufacturing pharmacy, preparing cytotoxic drugs for chemotherapy, so when my period was late I rushed to have a pregnancy test done first thing in the morning, just in case. The chances of being pregnant were minimal, but better safe than sorry. And there it was: a blue, not so faint, little cross. I was surprised, scared, happy, confused, still sleepy.

My first reaction was to call Rob and let him know. I would see him that evening but I didn’t want the principal pharmacist at work to be the first person to know the news. So I called Rob, apologised for waking him up and informed him I was pregnant. Or at least that was what the pregnancy test said. He said something like “Good, come home after work. Love you”. I think he wasn’t awake enough yet, but at least I  officially told him first. I also called my GP and booked an appointment for that afternoon. I wanted to be sure that I was going to be a mother and needed to talk to someone who would give me a straight answer and not make a big fuss about it. The GP said that my pregnancy test (a Clearblue) was accurate enough and he felt confident I was really pregnant, so he was sending my details to the hospital where I worked to be contacted by a midwife. Yes, that simple. To this day I don’t know if this was the reassurance I needed, but I guess there’s a bit of a cultural shock there (I’ll come back to this point in the future).

It was my Christmas present. I told my sister and them my parents, who told my other sister. In Brazil we celebrate Christmas eve more than the actual Christmas day, so the timing was perfect. The next day we told Rob’s dad and his wife, during our Christmas lunch.

So, with so much going on already (work, college, NVQ, travelling with my parents, moving back in with Rob and redecorating the house),  I  also found myself getting pregnant. And just before that I had proposed a fundraising campaign to the people from the spiritist centre and they accepted it. I had too much on my plate and had to leave something behind. The blog went first. Then facebook was off for a while. Once I finished my fundraising Easter bunnies, crochet was reduced to a blanket for baby and 2 little dresses for friends who got pregnant at around the same time. Oh! and I learned to knit -properly- and made 2 vests and a pair of socks for baby.

2014 flew by so fast, I almost didn’t see it. I finished college, and NVQ, left work on a full maternity cover (yay for the NHS), had the most wonderful baby ever and now, almost 4 months after Henry was born, I’m trying to catch up with life. Starting with the blog. If things go as I plan (don’t hold your breath) I will be cooking, sewing, knitting and doing LOTS of crochet, taking photos of everything to share here. I also want to share my struggles through motherhood and parenthood (which I think are different things) and any useful ideas I find around the internet. Wish me luck!

A little abandonment

It’s been a long, long time since my last post. I’ve been trying to write drafts for posts, take photographs of my crochet, then edit the photos with the poor knowledge I have, make new things, finish the ones I’ve started and prepare for Christmas. All this while working full time, worrying about my NVQ and college. I have one assignment to hand in each week until we break for Christmas. There’s no time to do it all, so unfortunately the blog is staying behind.

I have also the mission of preparing myself to move in with my boyfriend, and that includes redecorating his house to make it ‘ours’, fight for my doilies and flowers and the right of having something pink (or mauve, or rose) in at least ONE room in the house.  Last Saturday we were looking for tiles and bathroom fittings. Luckily we have agreed on the tiles (style, colour and everything), which is a big win for both of us.

I won’t have as much time to prepare all the crochet I wanted for November and December. The idea was to have enough stock and in enough variety to open a little shop with my sister Annie and sell the surplus of our hobbies. Hopefully we will manage to do something to at least start, even if we don’t sell much at first. To me, at this point, it is more a matter of finish something, whatever it may be.

I always fought the idea of having crochet as a business, as source of income. Selling the surplus of my hobby is not necessarily a business, because the production will be defined by what I want to make and when, more than by a market demand (at least that’s the idea). I know that from the moment I fell the pressure of having to make a crochet item I don’t want to make, or when don’t feel particularly inspired t crochet, then it will cease to be a pleasure and it will become a chore. And i have enough chores for now, thank you.

So step by step, trying not to leave the blog behind, lost and in the darkness, I will do what I can to keep blog and crochet up to date, and finish all the obligations of a student and health care professional. Wish me luck!