This time last year I was heavily pregnant, starting to get contractions, though I didn’t realise it at the time, and about to go into labour two weeks early. And my life was on the brink of changing utterly and completely.
Miss Rose is fast asleep on the other side of this wall in her little bedroom. It has cream walls and purple curtains. She’s tucked up in a bed, not a cot, and cuddling a toy sheep named Sheep. Everything down to the room she is sleeping in isn’t what I thought would be happening when I was still pregnant, indeed the only thing that matches up is that she’s asleep in her own room and if you’d told me that would happen two months ago I wouldn’t have believed you.
When I was pregnant I was not going to cosleep. I was pretty set on that fact. She was going to be in the wicker crib that both my brother and I slept in as babies, she was going to be in our room by our bed for the first three months, then she was going to be in her own room. As it was she slept in our room, mostly in our bed, for ten months and I regret not a second of it. Those snuggly, baby cuddle filled nights were beautiful, special, and incredibly hard sometimes in equal measure, but its something I will never wish I hadn’t done and something I will repeat with any future children I have. Having her there with me made me feel complete and made her feel safe. She never knew fear, she never felt torn from the safety of being surrounded by me because if she woke I was there, if she cried she was cuddled, if she was hungry she was fed. She never had to know the fear of alone.
I had planned on breast feeding exclusively for a month or two, then introducing a bottle and combination feeding until six months when I would drop the breast feeding. I breastfed exclusively for six months and only stopped at ten months when my supply failed and she couldn’t get enough milk. I had actually planned to go for a year or more. I am so glad I did it. Again it was hard, and she fed several times a night right up to when we stopped, but I would do it again without question. Whilst it was hard in terms of the amount she fed it was so easy! You take your boobs, and milk, everywhere at the right temperature, ready to serve, and ready to drink straight from the rather attractive (if I do say so myself) packaging. Bam, boob, baby.
If you had told me a year ago that at nearly one year old I would not have had a single night away from her I would have laughed. I was going to leave her with my husband, my mum, my best friend Aimee-Rose. I was going to have date nights with him and girls nights with her. The reality is my husband and I planned a dinner out in a local pub for our anniversary and I couldn’t bare it. We got take away and a movie and I relaxed, cuddled up on the sofa, knowing she was asleep upstairs.
So much has changed in my life in this one year. Far more than I can include without boring you to tears with my rambling. Perhaps the biggest change of all is in me. I am different, I feel different. Sure I’m still me and I still over share and make inappropriate jokes then blush about it. I still love shoes and wear too much mascara. I am still me except I’m not. Now I’m mummy. I don’t live according to my wants and desires anymore, I live by her wants and needs. If I want a new pair of shoes but she needs new clothes then she gets the clothes. If I want to do some cleaning but she wants to sit on my lap and have a cuddle because she’s tired or sad then she gets the cuddle. My house is untidy but my child is happy.
When I doubt the choices I’ve made I look at Miss Rose. This child is everything to me. Somehow I have, despite all the things I was planning and didn’t do, managed to raise a happy, secure, confident, delightful, funny little girl.
Don’t get me wrong she has her days and she has her moods. She can squall for the best of them and if she’s tired and hungry woe betide anyone who gets in her way, but these times are few. These are what you can expect from any baby. But dammit she’s flipping wonderful.
One year ago today I was Judith. Today I am mummy. I am mummy. That is something that will never ever change. My life is a new one, it is a better one, and giving my heart and soul to this child has made me a better, happier, stronger and more confident version of me. One year ago today I had so many plans and intentions then she burst into my life and the plans went out the window. I’m so glad they did. If I had done things differently, how I had originally planned, then Miss Rose would be different. I would be different. I would not want that at all.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!