Felix at five months

on Motherhood  

It’s been five months, and it still feels weird calling myself a mum or talking about my son. Having a baby is a roller coaster of emotions fueled by hormones, sleep deprivation, and a fierce kind of love that makes you push through anything. It’s hard even when everything is going objectively well, which thankfully is the case for us.

With very little experience with babies, I have no idea how much of these are Felix things or just general baby things, but since it’s all new to me it’s magical regardless.

The word most commonly used to describe Felix is “alert”. From the moment he was born, he’s been quietly observing the world with his big eyes, taking it all in. His head doesn’t stop moving, swivelling around to see as much as possible. Until recently he would open his eyes in a wide-eyed, intense stare that was a bit disconcerting, and will now be his passport photo for the next five years.

For a while I thought he’d be a very serious baby, until he took to smiling at anyone who says hello (from the safety of my arms) before hiding his face in my shoulder. Sometimes when he smiles his nose crinkles up, making him look very mischievous (I haven’t managed to capture this on camera yet). He hasn’t yet figured out how to play with his feet, but finds it funny when I use them to kick his face, or my face.

The main word I use to describe Felix is chill – as long as he has something to look at and something to put into his mouth, he’s a pretty relaxed kid (unless he’s hangry or overtired, which is very understandable). He’s not a fan of sleeping during the day, although I tell him when he’s a grownup he will wish he could take day naps.

He breastfeeds slowly, and although I have to fight the urge to be done and up doing something productive, I try to relish the forced downtime and the sweet way he looks up at me with complete trust and happiness (and the many Netflix series I’ve been able to get through). On these cold and rainy winter days, it’s nice to snuggle up on the couch with a blanket and a nice warm baby over me whilst apparently burning a bunch of calories (quickly offset by my frequent snacking). He watches us eat food with interest, but since he watches everything with interest it’s difficult to tell.

I of course take a million photos of him, like every mum with a camera or camera phone. Here’s some baby spam:

Random pregnancy advice

on Pregnancy  

I started writing this whilst on maternity leave waiting for my baby to arrive – it’s now almost 4 months later but I didn’t want to waste it!

As I get towards the end of my pregnancy, and the early days of finding out and still fitting into my jeans are becoming a fading distant memory, I feel like doing what many who have gone before do: give unsolicited advice. I don’t know if you’re pregnant, or just curious, or my future self revisiting this experience before going through it all again, but I hope you find it useful.

Feel free to ignore advice

Every mother is different, every baby is different, and every situation is different – so it makes sense that the complex experience of growing an entire human being for 9+ months is going to take shape differently for everyone. There’s a vast spectrum of what is considered “normal” and “healthy” in pregnancy, but most people will give advice based on their own limited experience which may have no relevance to you whatsoever (including me, in this post). For the important people in your life it might be worth discussing your differences, but with random acquaintances I find it easiest to just smile and nod politely, or say “ah, good to know”. Then ignore it. Unless it’s coming from your medical professional, who presumably is giving advice based on science and a lot of experience so is probably worth considering.

Don’t compare (or try not to)

Don’t compare weight gain. Don’t compare symptoms. Don’t compare your physical fitness level. Don’t compare the estimated weight of your baby (which, by the way, gets more and more inaccurate as your progress). Don’t compare stretch marks. Don’t compare the size of your belly, especially not to pregnant fitness instructors. Or if you do, which is pretty difficult to avoid, try to not get too worked up about it, because every pregnancy is complex and different (see the point above). For a lot of these things, you have very little control since a lot is determined by genetics and a lot by sheer luck, and no amount of scrolling through #28weeks pics on Instagram is going to make a difference. Focusing on these things too much is a downwards spiral to madness.

You are allowed to have a positive experience

There’s a lot of horror stories around pregnancy, childbirth and parenting out there, and nothing brings people together like complaining about something. But I think it’s okay and even a good thing to put positive stories out there too, as long as you’re sensitive to the audience and timing. Fear and anxiety can make things worse, so I like to think that hearing about positive experiences can be a nice counter point to the image portrayed in media. I’ve had a good experience so far, although I’m sure my luck won’t hold out forever :)

Exercise, if you can

I’ve never really been a very fit person, but exercise is a good way to keep sane and mobile (easier said than done with crazy hormones and a growing un-ergonomic belly). I was lucky that the kind of exercise I don’t hate – walking, Pilates and yoga – happen to be very pregnancy friendly. Aquarobics was also more fun than I thought it would be, especially feeling light and free at the end of my pregnancy when I just felt so heavy.

Pregnant me in the nursery

Feel good in your clothes

If you’re in a position to, get some clothes that you feel great in – whatever that might look like. Sure, it might only be for a few months, but there’s so much about pregnancy that’s uncomfortable and clothing is one thing that can actually be controlled. My third trimester was over summer, so I favoured super stretchy bamboo jersey skirts and dresses that lasted me throughout (edit: and also after!).

Skip the ‘Things that can go wrong” section

A friend gave me a “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book, and wow that thing is chunky. A large part of that is detailing all the potential complications and things that can go wrong in pregnancy and birth – which I very purposely skipped. Most things have a low probability of happening unless you have specific risk factors, and worrying about all the things won’t change anything. Save the anxiety for if you have something specific to stress about!

It’s only temporary

It felt like I was pregnant forever, but now finishing this post 3 months after having Felix it feels like a short and distant memory. It’s uncomfortable and scary but at the end of the day it is temporary – and isn’t that significant compared to a lifetime of being a parent.

Just a note to add that I was lucky to have a complication free and actually even enjoyable pregnancy, which might be very different to your experience (or future me if I end up doing this again). This might all be irrelevant or annoying to you, and that’s okay! Take my advice to ignore my advice :)


2019 Bullet Journalling

on Design  

Wow, so it’s 2019! 2018 was quite a big year for me in some ways (like being pregnant), in others quieter (like having less energy to do things due to being pregnant). Although I let the Bullet Journalling habit slip a bit towards the end of the year, I’ve decided to keep going with it into the next year and (hopefully) after having this baby!

If you haven’t come across it before, here’s a bit more about it:

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

I’ve been using one since 2016, which I’ve written about over here. People using this system modify it to suit their needs, whether it’s adding fantastically beautiful and detailed illustrations, colours and spreads, or simplifying it further by dropping some of the default stuff.

The way that I use mine has evolved over time, and definitely falls more on the simple and lazy side of things. I’ve tried a few times (including the past week) to get a bit fancier and a bit more finessed, but I’ve once again come to the conclusion that that isn’t really my thing. My spreads sometimes include a bit of calligraphy or lettering, and the odd sketch, wireframe or mind map, but they don’t have anywhere near the polish of the ones I see on the popular #bujo Instagram feeds that I admire.

But I’ve decided I’m okay with this – my journal is a space for rapidly logging and drafting events, ideas, plans and reflections. The ‘final product’ that comes out of this tends to be done elsewhere, drawn on the iPad or painted on more appropriate paper; coded into a website or fleshed out into a talk. For me at least, a focus on polish would hinder the freedom and spontaneity of this capturing and drafting stage.

One thing I have decided to spend a little time on is labelling the journal cover and spine using gold foil. It’s taken me a bit of trial and error to get to this point, but for a once per year effort I’m loving the effect.

Are you using a bullet journal or other analog system this year? I’d love to hear about it!