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February 18: A New Normal

Life doesn't feel so shell-shocking anymore. It's all still a bit incredible but it feels a bit more normal to have a baby now. This month has definitely had some difficult days (sleep deprivation is no-one's friend) but overall it's been a month where I've started to feel more like myself, and started to adjust to our new normality.

I used to think that when parents only posted photos of their kid online, and only talked about their kid it was because they falsely believed their kid was the best kid ever invented. Now I know the truth: it's because their whole life revolves around the kid, whether they like it or not. I do like it, but also I couldn't post about anything else even if I wanted to, because there is nothing else at the moment (l mean that in a literal sense, not a poetic one).

I'm starting to figure out what my life on maternity leave will look like. It involves cake, coffee and sensory play so I'm happy with that. I say maternity leave but I have no idea what will happen in terms of returning to work. It all seems a bit too far away at the moment.

Abbie's way more interested in what's happening around her and it's amazing. I can't believe how quickly she's changing and developing; the newborn stage is definitely over now. She doesn't give her smiles away easily and only really likes original material, which I admire.



Sleep deprivation is a bitch. I can go a few days and be basically fine (my brain is mush, sure, but I can function) then suddenly one day it'll hit me and I can't function any more. It's weird, in the early days I was so exhausted I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, now it's trickier. Turns out there were some advantages to the newborn haze after all.

Good support is essential. So essential. I've been feeling really grateful for the new parent friends I've made through NCT and through a Facebook group, and the support of Pete and my friends and family. I literally don't know how parents without a support network do it.

We took Abbie to her first wedding. It was at one of those churches with a live band and modern hymns, so basically a night out for me these days.

I've been reading zines. I made a Vampire Sushi order, mostly of perzines and I'm looking forward to getting properly stuck in to them. I feel like zines capture a lot of what I loved about blogging before influencer marketing was a thing.

On that note, I've been having lots of sleep-deprived thoughts about what I want to post, or not post on here. Basically, I wish blogging was still really anonymous and just a thing people did for fun. But it isn't, and I don't want to delete/stop writing but also... I have reached no conclusions.



I've been walking more. I've actually reached a point where I genuinely want to go back to the gym. Unbelievable. Finding a sports bra that fits might be something of a mission though. I keep seeing nursing sports bras and frankly I don't get it. Do people leave their babies in the corner of the gym and then whip a tit out mid-workout for a feed? I mean, maybe someone does that, but surely not enough people to justify the amount of the I've seen for sale. Please, someone explain it to me.

January 18: Apparently I Have a Kid Now

I had two Januarys; the first one lasted three days and consisted of anticipation, nice lunches, medical appointments and fruitless attempts to induce labour. The second one started with a much more fruitful attempt to induce labour.

I have a daughter now. This feels both totally normal and completely surreal. Normal because I felt like I had a daughter before she was born, surreal because I never really believed she would arrive safely. She's incredible. I don't want to be that person but I think I actually enjoyed labour. I've written our birth story, but I don't know if I'll post it as I'm just not sure what level of sharing is appropriate when it's partly about a person other than me. I probably will share that at least, I'm pretty proud of the whole thing. It was one of the best days of my life.

But. Why does no-one talk about the pain after childbirth? I think I'd have coped better with it if I'd known how normal it was. I really had to dig in to get through the first few days and nights, and I've never been so grateful for Pete's support and all-round awesomeness.

Everything is hilarious when you're sleep deprived. Even getting aubergine curry in your armpit. Especially getting aubergine curry in your armpit.




Speaking of the curry, past Liz was a genius for doing all the batch cooking. Actual food saved our sanity I think.

Naming was surprisingly hard. We got there after three days, after doing the thing I had always thought was totally stupid: we saw her and decided she didn't suit the name we originally had in mind. I didn't know that was actually a thing that people did. In the end we decided she looked like an Abigail instead, so that's what we went with.

I've been so overwhelmed by everyone's loveliness. From family to friends (both IRL and internet) to family friends, we received so many lovely things for Abbie and it was just so heartwarming.




They put the whole of Friends on Netflix four days before I had a baby. Hundreds of episodes of mindless, compulsive TV four days before I had a baby. Back in the day, I hated Rachel, and fair enough, but on the re-watch it's pretty obvious (to me and the rest of the world) that Ross is the truly awful one. Can't stop watching it though.

Abbie's first two weeks were intense. There were two of us doing nothing but full time baby care and it was FULL ON. We ended up moving all our furniture into the bedroom and camping out there. We had 3am conversations about Bernard Manning and drove ourselves mad listening to the 'Purring Cat' sounds on the white noise app. At one point Pete spent three whole minutes making 'shush' sounds to the recycling.

We made it to Fake Christmas. I was nervous about the logistics (three week old baby, sleep deprived parents, car journey, overnight stay) but it was all totally fine. Turns out that three week old babies don't really seem to know where they are anyway. It was actually more than fine, it was excellent, because I got to eat an epic roast dinner, catch up with friends and introduce Abbie to some very important people. 

Things started to turn a corner towards the end of the month. It's impossible to pinpoint exactly how, and when, but at some point things just became a bit easier. The newborn clothes are got tight, the weight gain is got steady, my pain went away and the intense bubble began to burst. We started going out into the world, and it felt good.

2017 Gratitude List (and a 2018 Project) #ShareYourYear

This year has gone really quickly. In lots of ways, nothing much has changed (except where we're living) but there are big changes on the horizon (looks pointedly at massive bump). Inspired by Rosie's post, I've made a list of everything I'm grateful for this year:

Lovely, supportive, hilarious colleagues.
Health insurance and DBT.
Friends (old ones and new ones).
Board games.
Pete. 
Christmas tree lights.
Books.
My body.


All the Christmasses.
Lush bathbombs.
Gigs.

December 17: Waiting and Hibernating #LittleLoves

I'm trying to keep up with a Little Loves each month, and incredibly I've actually managed two now. Go me. December was always going to be a weird one this year; it's been Christmassy without actually having many concrete plans to look forward to, as we didn't really know if the baby would come. Spoiler alert: I'm typing this leaning over my massive 41 week bump.

Although I'd quite like to have produced a human by now, December turned out to be a pretty good month to be heavily pregnant: there's a lot of food around, the TV's good and no-one really expects you to leave the house much anyway. Here's my month:


We dug out some board games and I remembered why I love Monopoly (I won) and why I shouldn't play it (at one point I got so angry with myself I had to squeeze a stress ball to death and take a break).

READ

December was a surprisingly prolific reading month (helped by the fact that I spent two hours awake in the middle of the night, pretty much every night). 

After The Last Dance - Sarra Manning

I actually read most of this in November, but whatevs. This book won't change your life, but it will probably be hard to put down and the bits of WWII history make it a bit more interesting that your average "chic lit" (urgh, sorry) choice. Would make an excellent holiday read.

Friend Request - Laura Marshall
I bought this after loving The Couple Next Door last month and being in the mood for another thriller, but sadly I found the plot a lot more predictable. There were some breath-holdingly-creepy moments though, so it's not all bad.

How To Build A Girl - Caitlin Moran
I would say that Moran is one of my problematic faves but I don't even think she's a fave anymore. It was a library book, ok? Although she states that this isn't an autobiographical novel, it did all feel very familiar having read How To Be A Woman and Moranthology. That said, the characters were really captivating and it did make me laugh out loud a lot (Pete's pet hate when I'm reading in bed). 

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Having been obsessed with this book when I studied it at A Level, I always say it's one of my favourites. On a reread, I still loved it, just not as much as (more) naive 17 year old Liz did. But yeah, if you haven't read it already, you should. 

The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters - Nadiya Hussain with Ayisha Malik
A quick, enjoyable read that mostly stayed on the right side of twee (although did we have to shoehorn baking into it?) A nice way to spend a day between Christmas and New Year - and probably another good holiday read. Disclaimer: I love Nadiya and will probably never think anything she does is bad.


WATCHED

Seven Terrible Christmas Films

Like a festive superhero (Santa? Jesus?) I've been watching shed loads of awful Christmas films so you don't have to. I know, I know, I'm too nice.

You do, however, have to read my reviews to see just how much I suffered. I even devised a handy rating system:


1/5: WTAF? Would watch again just to check I didn't dream a film this bad.
2/5: Just bad. Wouldn't watch again, life's too short.
3/5: Was kinda ok. Would watch again if it was on and I was too hungover to change the channel (that's happened to me).
4/5: Enjoyed it, because it was so terrible.
5/5: Spoiler alert: none of these films got 5/5 so I didn't bother to think of an explanation.



A Christmas Prince (2017) Netflix
Aspiring journalist visits fictional kingdom of Aldovia to get some dirt on the prince, before things get predictably messy.
More plot holes that a slice of...what's that cheese with the holes? That one. I would say it's unrealistic but that doesn't seem like a strong enough word. The whole thing is so silly that it was almost enjoyable. Bonus: Aldovia, for all it's unrealistic laws, customs and strong British accents, is a snow covered Christmassy wonderland. This film is terri-brill. 4/5

Christmas in Connecticut (1992) 
TV chef who can't cook hosts national hero for Christmas, assisted by her fictional family.
You know a film's going to be great when it's directed by Arnie and starts with a man doing pull-ups. There's some pretty funny physical comedy at points, and the likeable main characters just about makes up for the complete lack of plot twists. Also has the classic bad film trope of no-one's appearance matching with their supposed age. Bonus: Dyan Cannon has (genuinely) excellent hair; it's almost worth watching just for her hair. 3/5

Christmas on Chestnut Street (2006)
Department store over orders Christmas lights and organises a festive lights competition to encourage the locals to buy up the excess stock. 
This one had the potential to be great but it was just ok. The main problem was that it didn't make me feel remotely Christmassy until about 5 minutes from the end, and why else do you watch a Christmas film?! The relationship between the lead character and his father with dementia is definitely the most interesting part of the film, and the rom-com elements are cute enough, but for some reason the film's producers decided not to linger on any of that stuff. 2/5

November 17: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Actual Pregnancy #LittleLoves

November was a bit transformative; like a reverse butterfly I went from trying to spread my wings to retreating into my comfortable cocoon. Pregnancy really started to kick in once I hit mid-November (hello exhaustion and fainting) and it felt like a good time to really start embracing rest and maternity leave proper.

Speaking of which, I'm now waaaaay too lazy for consistent weekly updates, so I figured I might try a monthly one instead. Surely even I can manage to do this once a month? Surely. I'm going to try and link up with Little Loves because a) I love reading other people's and b) as I said, I'm lazy and it's a nice format.

Here's my November:

READ

The Girls - Emma Cline
I loved the atmosphere this coming-of-age novel creates, but I thought some of the themes felt a bit over-worked and I wasn't massively captivated by the plot. Maybe my expectations were too high; this is probably a lesson in not waiting too long before reading a much-hyped book.

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena
I read this in less than 48 hours and barely guessed a single twist, which tells you all you need to know really. Would definitely recommend if you're a fan of thrillers.


WATCHED

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
I'm going to keep this pretty spoiler-free, but three series in and Rebecca finally gets a diagnosis. And it's the same as mine, and the way it's handled is utterly perfect. I laughed and cried my way through that episode and then immediately watched it again. 100% recommend (but start from the beginning).