(Very) long time no speak!! I've really neglected my website and blog since falling pregnant this time last year. I felt very sick for the first trimester and started working full time in my role at Lush, and I let everything that encompassed the Pampervan fall by the wayside, as it was the one thing I could let slip when everything was getting too much. I slowed down on mobile treatments, focussed on getting the Pamper Cabin ready (will post about that soon) and, most importantly, allowed myself some time to relax before baby no. 2 arrived.
I found maternity leave quite hard first time round; we had just moved to Bournemouth and despite making some new, wonderful 'mum friends' and having my in-laws about 10 miles away, I really missed having my family and old friends around me. What made it especially hard was having my lovely Dad working in the Middle East for years and three of my bestest friends living on the other side of the world in Australia. My support network seemed limited and I had more time to miss and grieve for my Mum, who we had lost two years prior. I often felt quite lonely and lost with a newborn baby and the lack of sleep really affected me. I had no job to return to and felt worried about the future. Of course there were many highs, but there were some terible lows (and I'm particularly good at focussing on them!). I found solace on the beach, which we were lucky to have on our doorstep at that point, and I sought counselling, which really helped. I came out the other side feeling strong and proud of myself.
I was therefore slightly hesitant with having a second child and had a mix of emotions regarding a second maternity leave. I am so fortunate this time to have a job and an incredibly understanding boss. I was looking forward to spending more time with my, now, three year old daughter and looking after a newborn with the knowledge, confidence and understanding of motherhood and how quickly time passes. I had an incredible natural birth, a pretty good recovery and fell more in love with my newborn son than I could have ever anticipated. In fact, I was completely blindsided by the rush of love.
The funny thing with having a baby, especially your second, and particularly around this stage (he's nearly 5 months old), is that people assume you're an old hat at this and don't need the support you perhaps needed in the early days - hey, you think it yourself!! I'm not very good at asking for help in general and feel bad for relying on other people. I feel perpetually guilty that I'm not doing a good enough job, or that there's thousands of people who would die to be in my position. Throw in breastfeeding, sleepless nights and no chance to nap in the day, hair falling out at quite an alarming rate, a spirited threenager and a baby who's sleep has gone to pot...and, once again, it feels quite all-consuming, despite having a better support network this time. Babies are hard work, whether it's your first or fourth!!
My husband took these beautiful double-exposure photos,
before and after birth.
My wonderful husband is off work today and took both children for a walk to get my son to sleep and to entertain the toddler. I took the time to do what I only know to do at times like this, and run a nice hot bath, apply a face mask, focus on some deep breathing exercises, light a lovely candle and listen to some nice music. I guess you can call it 'me-time', 'self-love', whatever, it's taking some much needed time out to focus on my wellbeing. I focus on my children's bedtime and bath time routine and wellbeing, but so often forget about mine and it is so important - whatever time of the day that happens to be! And you know what, it's really helped. I feel sad and exhausted, but rested and calmer.
I appreciate that everyone is finding it tough at the moment. It seems to be hitting everyone at different times, there's good and bad days. I try to put things into perpective and think about how hard other people have it, especially those that are ill, those that are working on the front-line, those that are trying to maintain their jobs whilst their kids are at home, the teachers looking after key workers' kids, etc, but I'm an empathetic sponge and that can make me feel even more upset and guilty. If we're in a position to help others then that's great, but we have to help ourselves first and foremost. I'm no good to anyone if I don't look after myself and that's true for us all. We also have to remember that all of our feelings are valid and allowed.
I truly believe that self-care and pampering, for want of a better word, is important to us all and I'm very lucky to work for Lush, a cosmetics company that's created on that belief. They have currently closed all of their shops and online sales to protect staff, but hopefully you'll be able to treat yourself soon. I'm particularly proud of my team who are continuing to work though these tough times.
In the meantime, Lush has a fantastic YouTube channel full of videos, music, interviews, etc. They released this moving short film last year called We The Bathers which I still absolutely love watching every so often. It shows the importance of bathing on a physical and mental level, in whatever form that takes around the world. They have also released a guided bath meditation (bath bomb optional, but it certainly helps) - https://www.youtube.com/user/Lushcosmetics/featured. So dig out any bubble bath, shower gel, etc that you have and carve out some time for yourself.
Thank you for reading. Brace yourself. Look afer yourself. There's only one of you in the world and it needs you.
We've got this.