London (plus the kid…)

We planned a fun day out in London visiting my cousin who has a new baby and also a FANTASTIC exhibition at the Tate Modern (Olafur Eliasson – it’s AMAZING, if you’re in London go see it now!).

It was our first ever train trip together, and I thought I had planned it well – on the 10am train to London, coming back at 2.50pm, on a weekday/normal working day, not school holidays etc. Figured it would be quieter and easier to travel with a small person.
Apparently not – both trains were packed! On the way in I had a seat booked but the reservations system didn’t seem to be working so there was someone in my seat and the train was chock-full, and there was no space for the buggy anyway so I decided to just keep the kid in the buggy and stand in the corridor.

So much for off-peak!

We had agreed to meet at the Tate Modern gallery 11.30am as we needed to have timed tickets to the exhibition, and I’d assumed that half an hour was plenty of time to get from Paddington to Southwark.
However I’ve never done it with a buggy before, and while on the train I started looking at journey planners, trying to work out step-free access and which stations had lifts etc. Suddenly a 15-20min tube ride was apparently going to take 57 minutes, as if you want step-free access you have to take a tube to here, a bus to there, another tube to here, etc. Quite the palaver. Continue reading

The Adoption Conversation

I’m now 4 months into my maternity leave, and although I love so much about bonding and cuddling and spending time with my kid, it’s also boring and lonely a lot of the time.

You’re in the house alone with a tiny person you can’t really talk to all day, so you go to the park and you’re alone there too, pushing your kid on the swings, nodding and smiling at the other random parents, prattling away to a kid who isn’t really listening. One of our toddler groups is really lovely as two of my friends go there so I really look forward to that one, but most of the other toddler groups are a bit cliquey. Most of the other mums on maternity leave already have friends from their NCT groups or similar, and those with toddlers tend to be stay at home mums or childminders who already know each other and have been going to these groups for ages so they’re less interested in making new friends. Continue reading

Our first trip away

We had our first trip away from home a couple of weeks ago, up to Yorkshire to visit my mum for a couple of days. I drove up at night, so she slept most of the way. She woke once or twice and went “Where the hell am I?” but then went back to sleep again. We arrived at 10pm, and she was initially very frightened and freaked out but then calmed down and settled.

The whole time we were there she seemed absolutely fine – I was worried she would be anxious but actually I was more anxious than she was (ironically I was mostly anxious about whether or not she was anxious!). She had a lovely time meeting some extended family members and lots and lots of cuddles with Grandma – she has bonded really quickly and well with my mum, which is lovely, although occasionally hard not to feel slightly rejected when she preferred Grandma’s hand/cuddles to mine! I suppose Grandparents do have novelty value! All in all she was happy, smiley, quiet and well behaved, and we both had a lovely time. Continue reading

Cloth-Bum-Mums

When does the “mum” thing kick in? I was reflecting today that we are just about 6 weeks in, and I am still not sure I feel like a proper mum – I still feel a bit like I’m pretending or playing at it. I  guess it hasn’t really sunk in properly yet. I’ve had plenty of mum moments, such as:

  • accidentally giggling while trying to tell her off sternly (because she made such a funny face while doing something naughty),
  • poo explosions and wet sheets,
  • plenty of cuddles and snuggles and giggles,
  • pins and needles where she is sleeping on my arm and I can’t move or I’ll wake her up,

but I’m still not sure I really feel like a proper mum yet. I have no idea when your fundamental sense of self and identity shifts from “ordinary person” to “mother”, but I guess it takes time for that. Presumably it’s the same for birth mums (quite a few friends commented to me that they couldn’t believe the hospital just let them go home after the birth and suddenly be totally responsible for another human – most said it was terrifying!).

They say that with adoption, it can take time to love your child, and you shouldn’t expect it to happen overnight. I can’t say exactly when the love part seeped in, but I know that I have adored her from the first magical day that she put her tiny hand in mine, and every day I feel more and more strongly about her. Love and adoration that seems to get stronger and stronger each day. Every smile and giggle and funny face makes me just melt, each time I realise I am learning what her facial expressions and noises mean, when I suddenly realised I can interpret her body language to know how she is feeling, those feelings get a little stronger. I guess that’s what bonding is in a nutshell. Learning all about one another, feeling each other out, getting used to one another’s rhythms and patterns and love growing stronger and stronger each day. Continue reading

Our first month together

So far, it’s been an interesting ride into motherhood.

The first week was amazing – packed full of new memories and new things, and she behaved and slept well – a dream child. However a lot of that was fear. Most people have either a fight, flight or freeze response to fear, and when you are so little you can’t really fight or run, so you tend to freeze. Make yourself very small and very quiet and hope nobody notices you.

So I had an inkling that our first perfect week together might be a little bit of a honeymoon period, which indeed it was. Continue reading

The Mum Hour

A friend of mine, who writes a fab parenting blog called Plus the Dog, asked me if I would do a guest blog about being a first-time parent. She is especially interested in the similarities between our respective parenting journeys, even though she hasn’t adopted, many aspects of our journeys to parenthood have been very similar, as she noted in her own blog about it recently.

So I drafted a little post about my first two weeks as a parent, and you can read all about it here.

Hocus Pocus

A little aside – for those of you who rolled your eyes at my post The Ring, this will REALLY send you over the edge.

I’ve been going back over my adoption posts, and realised that I started my adoption journey, taking my very first step (the pre-approval interview) in the last week of October 2017. A couple of weeks later, just around the time that the social worker called to say I was approved to go ahead and could officially start my application to become an adopter (i.e. I could start Stage 1), my daughter was born.

I didn’t know it then of course, and neither did she, but the timing is rather wonderful.

At that time, I wasn’t looking for her, and she wasn’t up for adoption. By the time I was approved as an adopter, I was still looking at older children, as I was originally only approved for children aged 3 and up, (due to my financial circumstances). By sheer coincidence, in late November/early December of 2018, just as her Placement Order was granted by a judge, and the social workers began to search for her forever family, my dad unexpectedly sold his house and was able to give me some extra money, allowing me to be able to consider younger children and cover the additional costs of childcare and maternity leave.

Had she been granted a Placement Order sooner, she may have been matched with another family, and if my dad hadn’t sold his house, I wouldn’t have been able to consider her as a possibility anyway.

Instead of which, the universe aligned, and just when I decided to start my journey to becoming an adopter, she was born, and just when she started looking for her family, I was suddenly able to be matched with her. It turns out I had to wait this long to become a mum, because I was waiting for her, I just didn’t know it. And she is 100% worth the wait.

So perhaps there is a little bit of magic in the world after all….

Introductions

Well the day finally arrived!

We had a placement planning meeting on the Monday before introductions started and the foster carer, who had an awful bout of flu just burst into tears and wept through the whole meeting. She’s been looking after my little girl for 14 months and is extremely attached to her, so she was just devastated to be saying goodbye.

It was a good reminder that just because I’m feeling bouncy and excited and over the moon, I need to manage my emotions a little bit and be aware that her relationship with my daughter was ending, so it was a strange place to be in. Continue reading