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The End of October

October 31, 2017
Written in bed last night….


The end of October has become a time of introspection for me. Years ago it was a time of heavy partying: Halloween, my birthday, Guy Fawkes… Now it means almost another year older and another year together with my partner- landmarks rather than hangovers.
I don’t have much time to be introspective these days, just as I have little time to blog (two years since my last post, where did the time go??), but somewhere along the line the urge is overwhelming and oops, I’m suddenly navalgazing.
It occurred to me that this has been the year in which I’ve felt my aging more keenly than ever. It started with a niggle in my back (“Oh, I’ve had back pain on and off since my twenties, it’ll be ok”) and became more and more painful until I really had to put life’s complexities aside and focus on my health (“Oh shit, I’m in so much pain that I can’t actually stop crying and would currently very much like to throw myself off a cliff”) I only have one body and that body needs my attention as much as my children do, if I want to be around for as long as possible.
Years of trying to hide those sneaky grey hairs had taken its toll on my luscious locks and so I decided to save myself the grief and to grey gracefully. At least until the dyed parts have grown out…
I’m not going to be able to turn back the clock, neither health-wise, nor appearance-wise (Hello, wrinkles!) but I can damn well worth with what I’ve got. That’s a good feeling.
My new year of life is another year in the direction of menopause and as much as my heart has enough room for more beautiful children, I also made the decision that our family is complete. I luckily still have my womb so “never say never” and all that but I feel that ship has indeed sailed. It’s bittersweet.
Also bittersweet is that Lewis and I have said goodbye to breastfeeding. For anyone who has breastfed full term and beyond, (firstly give yourselves a massive fucking pat on the back) I think you will understand this more than anyone. We didn’t mark “the end”. I didn’t get some breast milk jewelry made or write a journal entry or Facebook post on the day we stopped. One day, I don’t even know which day it was, we just left it. I told him the milk was gone so that other babies could drink it. Like my breasts are linked to some ethereal lake of milk from which all babies get their supply.
My children are growing up. My relationship with my partner is growing up. 10 years on and we have been through some extremely trying times in the last year to such an extent that I have been close to giving up. A wise friend once told me relationships are bloody difficult- you have to try every day. They won’t thrive on their own. I’ve returned to that conclusion again in recent times.
Friendships are a similar thing: Time, investment, effort are required. For a long time I thought that maybe I’m just not a likeable person, that everyone else was more worthy of friends than me. I started having flashbacks to my time at school, being the “7th girl” in my friendship group- always without a partner to hold hands with, always one of the last picked for sports teams. I hated it. (Yes, I potentially need to work on this a little more in therapy!)
However, I’m almost 37: Who is in control here? Me, and me only. I can hold out the hand of friendship or I can scurry away like I have more important things to do. My kids also need me to manage their friendships and social lives at this age so I really do need to overcome my psychological obstacles here, now.
It’s almost midnight and I should sleep, for tomorrow is the last day of October and I may need to deal with two costumed children tripping on Halloween treats. Wish me luck!

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes… or… refugees in Berlin

September 20, 2015

After thinking about this for a few weeks, I just had to put something into writing.

Recently there has been a large influx of refugees into Berlin. Call it what you will- it’s not really the ‘hoarde’ or a ‘swarm’ or whatever the media is calling it: It’s an influx of individuals, with families, with lives, jobs, histories in the countries they left.

They are not here to snatch away our resources, to rob us blind, rape our children and have a ‘free ride’ at our expense. Most of them probably aren’t even here by choice. Their journey to find somewhere safer than where they were before has simply carried them here. Maybe they’ll be sent back. Maybe their journey doesn’t end here. But right now they are HERE, in Berlin, not even a kilometer from my home.

I have watched that excellent TV ad that is absolutely on-point, showing a child in a Western country living her life, celebrating her birthday, playing with friends etc and how this life with which we can fully identify as ‘Westerners’ very quickly changes, becoming full of fear and violence and then sickness. It blew me away (actually, I choke back tears everytime I watch it) and I couldn’t stop thinking about the people who have made it this far with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

I imagine the street on which I live, where my child goes to Kindergarten, where I do my shopping being destroyed by weapons in a war in which I want no part. I consider what I might scramble together in the mad dash to leave my collapsing apartment building: The safety of the kids would be first priority. Would I even have time to collect our passports? What about our other papers? (I’m not but imagine you’re a doctor in your home country. But you have no ID or proof of your years of study and training. Would your new home allow you to practise medicine? Probably not.)

I think about my travel options: How would I make it to the border and in which direction would I head? How would I ensure my family’s survival? How far would I stretch my morals and personal values to do this? What if, heaven forbid, I lost one of my children in the chaos of the masses also trying to leave the country?

Not even mentioning the terrifying and dangerous journey to escape imminent death (?) because that’s simply to big and I’m not sure I could do the emotional trauma here justice.

Once arrived at my ‘destination’ (aka, the country whose government is ok with me staying there), there wouldn’t be any comfortable beds, nor a choice of new clothing and shoes off the rack.. not even really the choice of nutrition. The language is likely to be strange, I wouldn’t know where I was, what the cultural norms are, where I get stuff that I need… I might not even be able to read the language for that matter.

And in the long-term, I would want to go back to my home country but how would I even start? What if my country didn’t even exist anymore?

I know that all of this barely even scratch the surface but they’re enough to motivate me to do something, anything to help these people. People who really are just like you and me and just want to live their lives in peace and without fear, in a safe place.

All Grown Up

August 23, 2015

So much has happened lately that it’s hard to write everything. So I won’t. But what is really important to me right now is that my littlest, my almost-18-month-old will be starting Kita (daycare) tomorrow!

It’s incredibly bittersweet. I’ve enjoyed our time together so much. I feel privileged that I’ve been allowed to spend that additional 6 months having him with me full time, seeing him grow, learn to walk, speak, use a fork and spoon and drink from an open cup. A lot of this I let go by without it really being a ‘big deal’ with P. I was eager to start work again, to be me and to have the free time I needed to bloom.This time, I have stimulation for my grey matter through my freelance work, as well as wrangling the kids!

Of course, I can barely wait to begin this new phase of our lives- Mammy goes to her office and works and gets to pee, drink coffee and talk on the phone without small companions, yay! I’m ready for it but perhaps I’m going to be the one crying the most tears when it comes to leaving him…

Birth, Motherhood and Finding my Calling in Life

July 12, 2015

There is a quotation that I love to use and it goes:

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” -Osho

And so it is true. When I gave birth to each of my babies, I not only birthed a brand new Human Being, I also birthed another facet of myself. And both times a new facet of me was born that could be understood under the umbrella term ‘mother’ but it’s so much more than that.

Becoming a mother helped me to learn about myself, giving me a new confidence and opening up my world to a myriad possibilities that I’d never have explored otherwise. It brought me out of my quagmire of loneliness mixed with aimless wandering through weekends of parties with people who were nice but who I really didn’t get to know on any level deeper than a beer and a dance.

People often say that the whole ‘mum friends’ thing is tricky- you bond over late pregnancy hormones (and hemorrhoids), drink coffee whilst cooing over eachother’s baby’s chubby thighs and comiserate during late-night/early-morning facebook chats about baby’s sleeping (or lack thereof)… so it may well be that this tenuous bond will soon break, once the other mums find out that before you had a baby you smoked 20 a day and frequented the KitKat Club! (For the record, this is not me). For me it wasn’t so: Friendships that started in the context of children grew up with them and have developed into the strong and lasting relationships that I longed for in my pre-child days in Berlin.

Additionally, having children connected me with a network of expats that led me to discovering two new skills. The first (and coincidentally, discovered after child#1 was born)- cake decorating: I didn’t know I was capable of producing intricate images and models to delight children on their birthdays! My foray into sugarcraft was a lovely adventure but a little too time-consuming in relation to financial benefit.

The second skill is connecting: Since I didn’t really have so many ‘connections’ before motherhood, I didn’t really do much connecting. But since the birth of my second son, I occasionally feel like I can see the Matrix- there’s a red line running between some people and they just need to meet eachother! I love bringing people together!

Aaaand, if it wasn’t for motherhood and the birth of the connector in me, I wouldn’t have come across the concept of my current job and found my calling in life (I love a good cliché!)

So yes, the birth of my children has meant my own rebirth- L, the mother, the baker, the connector and now, the mother who loves her life, her job, her family and sees some hope of being able to combine these things in the right measures.

Boys, Babies and Thinks of a Mompreneur

March 3, 2015

So, once again, it’s been a while. I’ve absolutely neglected my blog, even though I’ve shut down my other blog/s because I simply don’t have time to write anything. You see, it appears that raising a baby, a four-year-old and a new baby of a business isn’t conducive to having time!

The last year has been an amazing journey. Since little L came into our lives, it’s been non-stop: I started training for my new job as a Maternity Concierge and Baby Planner soon after he was born. The ladies from the company, for which I freelance came to my home and showed me the ropes. The rest, I’ve been learning on the job and through a network of amazing experts, who are patient and kind, despite inane questions from me! I want to do this job for the rest of my life: It’s so much fun and helping people is what I was born to do. I only wish that the German government would hire me and pay me a steady salary to do this job so that the people who really need it and can’t afford it could also have access. Maybe one day…

My first client baby will be born any day soon and I am very excited about helping more pregnant women, fathers-to-be and new families coming to Berlin, looking for help and guidance in English.

I have also extended my maternity leave to look after baby, since there appeared to be no daycare spaces until August. This is the unfortunate product of living in the district with the most families in Berlin. I love it here but that sucks. In any case, we now have a spot from August and I will be going back to my old job in October. Hopefully to do something stimulating and fun, rather than the crap that happened the last time I returned from maternity leave…And the concierge-ing and planning alongside. It’s going to be busy!

The boys are coming along beautifully: P will be 5 in May and will go to school next August (scary, scary!). He recently had surgery to improve his ablity to get air into his nose and mouth and is like a different boy: He hears better, speaks loads more and no longer snores like his father! L will be 1 on Friday. He’s crawling, clapping, waving and babbling like there’s no tomorrow. It’s amazing and I’m already blown away by how my two kids interact. I admit, I was terrified and asked myself many times “Wtf were you thinking when you said you wanted two kids!?” in the early days but that feeling of terror hat petered out since P no longer runs away when we’re out and L is mobile and can ‘play’.

Of course, there is lots of fear: Money is the biggest one. I also am afraid of being a bad parent and a bad partner because my time is so limited. However, “this too shall pass” is still emblazoned in black ink on my wrist and I know it to be true.

It’s been a while

October 2, 2014

It’s been ages since my last post. How awful of me to neglect my blog. Sorry, blog but I’ve been taking care of a little baby!
It’s been a crazy 7 months and our little baby is no longer so little. In fact, he weighs 9 kilos already! He’s got 4 teeth and though he’s not crawling yet, he can talk for England! (Well, babble)

Another baby has been born in the Mama-L household. I’ve been training for a new job and I’m excited to say, I’ve started taking customers as a freelance maternity concierge and baby planner! It’s very exciting and I love working with pregnant women and families. I’m so lucky to have found a job that combines things I’m good at with things I like doing. Yay!

Making, Baking, Delivering and Raising…

May 2, 2014

Not so long ago, in fact all of 8 weeks and 1 day ago, our son, Lewis was born. Extreme feelings of elation, fear, joy, guilt and exhaustion have since petered away into less extreme versions of themselves (except for exhaustion some days!) and we’ve all come to terms with our everyday routine.

There was so much I’d forgotten about having a newborn. The first one is, you will have the best of intentions before your baby comes but once it’s arrived, your fight to get through the early days takes precedence and all of those intentions go flying out of the window as fast as you can say “Epidural”. Yes, I wanted to not feed the baby to sleep. Yes, I wanted to rent one of those gorgeous baby hammocks to rock my little one to sleep at night instead. Oh, and I could have sworn I was going to sign up for a baby massage class!

The fuzz of the early months clears and suddenly you panic that you’ve not done enough or that you’ve gotten your baby into this routine that’s going to be a bitch to change, especially when you’re operating on minimal sleep. People will give you a lot of unsolicited advice. My advice would be- ignore it.

Then there’s “the stuff that not many people talk about”…. Like burning pee, constipation, giant, nappy-like sanitary towels, knickers made from weird, net-like material, breast engorgement, leaking nipples, public breastfeeding, flabby tummies,  stretch marks, post-birth sex and choosing contraception (unless you fancy a crack at the whole bun-in-the-oven thing again very soon)…. And that’s just concerning your own ‘stuff’. When it comes to baby, you also have to deal with red pee, black poo (and it’s true that you will become the next Gillian McKeith, investigating the many shades of poo your baby might create), spit-up, vomit (and the differences between the two), gammy eyes, colic, loud burps, inappropriate farts and don’t forget to take a change of clothes for yourself as well because, a little like puppies, babies just love to show us how excited they are to see us by peeing all over our freshly-washed nursing shirts.

BUT you know that by the time your newborn is able to walk and talk and use a toilet with some success, you’ll have forgotten the pain of birth all of the above and who knows, maybe you’ll consider having another? That’s Mother Nature at her best: She allows us to retain all of the good stuff- the first time you saw your baby, his first smile, the cute noises he makes, the chubby thighs you’d like to just devour and all of the hard, unpleasant or uncomfortable stuff just falls away. Perfect.

Scar Tissue – Birth Story

March 31, 2014

Just under 4 weeks ago I was sat in a taxi, on a towel at 3 in the morning. No words can describe the elation I felt at the prospect of having a natural birth. Disappointed yet relieved are the words I’d use to describe how I felt when that didn’t happen.

Giving birth can be very painful. No amount of hypnobirthing or Ina May can change that. Your body goes through so much. Your baby goes through more, poor mite! After 12 hours of (well-controlled) pain, an epidural that only worked on one side and lots of position changes, there was just no way the baby’s head was going to fit through my pelvis- it was in the wrong position, a little like my last child’s, his heartrate was dropping and the amniotic fluid was brown. Sod natural birth, I was having another caesarean- they would simply open up my old scar and get my distressed baby out.

We got SO far in a fraction of the time of my last birth (which was induced) – I was 10 cm dilated and already feeling the infamous ‘urge to push’ (which, in case you wondered, feels like you need to take a big poo). Even more devastating was the epidural situation: In their arrogance, the anaesthetists tried to insert the catheter between contractions, though these were 30 seconds apart (the head anaesthetist actually had an argument with the midwife, who wanted to give me something to slow down the contractions). In the end, I still had sensation on my right side so they unexpectedly put me to sleep on the operating table, leaving my scrubbed-up man outside.

When I became conscious again, I waded through foggy dreams that made me forget I was even having a baby to see my wonderful partner with a gorgeous baby on his bare chest and couldn’t help but cry with happiness (and admittedly, a little confusion). When my little, chubby-legged baby was put on my chest and immediately went for the boob, all of the pain of the last 12 hours was absolutely forgotten. This, my friends, is the way we’re biologically programmed to forget so that we have more offspring!

So yes, I didn’t get the birth I wanted and I still have to come to terms with a few things but the end product was the same- a healthy 4505kg / 56cm bouncing baby boy!

Labour Tea

March 30, 2014

Two days after my last post, I made a litre of ‘Wehentee‘ (labour tea) and drank half of it, had a nice dinner with a friend at my favourite restaurant, watched an episode of Breaking Bad and went to bed. Little did I know, the wait for our little visitor was almost over….

I was used to Braxton Hicks contractions but this was different. At 1am, I got up and walked around a bit. Around 2am, I went back to bed, thinking it was probably good to get some sleep, ‘just in case’. Five minutes later, my waters broke. So much for sleep. Delivering a sleepy toddler to a very generous and helpful friend at three in the morning, it occurred to me that the next time I’d be seeing him, another child would be in my arms. Needless to say, 12 hours later, our second son, Lewis was born. His birth was another adventure, which I’ll leave for another time. In the meantime, here’s a picture:


The Agony of Waiting

March 3, 2014

Since going ‘overdue’, every day has become that little bit more difficult.

To anyone who hasn’t experienced this before, I apologise that I probably sound like a bit of an arse. To those who have experienced this before, you probably have a good insight into the way I’m feeling right now.

Ok, so to set the scene: Imagine that something important is happening. You’re expecting a visitor, so-to-speak. You’ve waited more than nine months for the visitor to arrive, spent a lot of time preparing for them. Only, you can’t really know exactly WHEN they’ll arrive. You can’t google it, you can’t send scouts out to look for their impending approach like in a cowboy film, even the experts can’t tell you when your visitor will bestow you with their presence. You just have to wait.

However, you can’t really make too many concrete plans, just in case said visitor shows up. Also, the visit itself is so important that you actually start to lose motivation to do small stuff you could probably get done whilst waiting because all your mental energy is focused on the ‘big rendezvous’.

Oh yeah and on the subject of mental energy: You really can’t wait to meet your visitor but you know that in order to do so, you’re going to have to go through some seriously crazy shit. You’ll probably even suffer immense physical pain, the likes of which you’ve never experienced before. So you actually fear the onset of his or her arrival somewhat. However, you’re suffering physically anyway with various aches and pains so you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t and you can’t not anyway because the whole thing is absolutely inevitable, as sure as the sun will rise in the morning.

So yeah, birth is probably agonising but the waiting is potentially just as painful….