‘For the love of…Amazon’ – A tale of two birthdays’

Have you ever wondered how it could be possible for Jeff Bezos, the inimitable force behind Amazon, to be worth a whopping $137 billion – well in the lead up to my children joint birthday party I found out…It’s down to my husband and I.

I knew before the party that we had a verging on dangerous relationship with Amazon, relying on it for any and every last minute need. But as we got closer to the day in question the deliveries starting mounting at an unprecedented rate, everyday we were receiving several parcels and at this point I had not once but on several occasions been stopped whilst out walking the dog by the delivery driver, sometimes just to say Hi as I now saw him more than my own family and sometimes to say he had yet more parcels and should he just leave them in the front garden if I was going to be out for the day. We had gone beyond the awkward stage of when you open the door a couple of days in a row to the same delivery man and do that awkward chuckle and a bit of a ‘yup its me again smile/grimace’ we had now grown to be acquaintances, maybe even friends.

This was our first full on, firing on all cylinders childrens party that we had thrown, Rex was turning three and is now at an age where we couldn’t get away with essentially having a party for ourselves with our friends whilst the children, mostly unable to move sit around dribbling, cooing, giggling and crying. Instead he told us in no uncertain terms that he wanted a super hero party with lots of cake (Stella, who was turning 1 sadly didn’t get much of a look in when it came to the theme) and Just like that, like any good bossed around parent we set about planning this double whammy monstrosity.

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Stella turns 1 and Rex turns 3 and just these two balloons cost about 5 times their combined age…

We booked the venue and then I set about finding an entertainer, now having absolutely no idea what I was looking for I went solely on reviews, and found a lovely company called JoJo Fun Kids and after much toing and froing about whether they could in fact provide the correct super hero, Spiderman was booked. Spiderman, also known as Dom, called me to introduce himself, I knew almost has soon as he’d said ‘Hello Sophie, this is Dom’ that a springy, camp and almost certainly a musical theatre practitioner was on the other end of the phone and naturally was thrilled, we clicked immediately. It was only post party that my darling friend who has his own events company gently raised his eyebrows when I said how much we were paying dearest Dom…note to self, must.do.more.research.

Then it was down to the nitty gritty and this is really where things pick up pace, because I don’t know about you, but once the big things are in place (venue, entertainment) its down to the fun part, the details and this is where Mr Bezos starts ringing up his enormous bill.

Party Bags – straight to Amazon obv – literally everything related to super hero – ADD TO CART.

Fancy Dress Outfits

Me: ‘OMG look at this amazing Hulk outfit’ ADD TO CARD

My Husband: ‘oooooh and these huge Hulk Gloves ‘ADD TO CART’

Me: ‘oh and look a mask’ ADD TO CART

MY Husband: ‘and face paints, we could paint him green too (event though he’s wearing a suit) ADD TO THE DAMN CART

Then onto Stellas outfit..oh and ours…

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Outfits on point thought, so totally worth it

 

Cake – I actually home made both of the cakes but hell would freeze over if we didn’t quickly add in some edible paper super heroes to pop on top of them  – Amazon here we come!

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Just showing me cakes off 

 

Balloons – I left the shop (yes an actual physical shop) with 10 huge balloons plus a bunch of normal ones thinking how nice and seemingly extremely lucrative it would be to own a balloon shop – I would be rich without hardly needing to do anything.

More Balloons – Hmmmm not sure if we have enough balloons, ill just nip onto Amazon and buy some more, sure why not.

Now I am actually all for small brands and I do my best to buy from them, but when it comes to dealing with this kind of situation, Amazon is your one stop shop, it’s also our one stop shop for every random thought that we have and think we therefore need to buy: Horrendous Polyester Fancy dress outfits, boxes of 10 roles of wrapping paper, 3 million straws etc etc i’m just V jealous I didn’t think of this before Jeff

The party was in fact a huge success (thank god) and Dom was everything I had hoped for and more, he arrived bang on time though possibly looking ever so like he had come straight in from the night before, I imagined him slipping out the doors of G.A.Y dressed to party and straight through the doors of our local church hall  dressed head to toe in his finest polyester spiderman outfit, which really left very little to the imagination. That said, he had the children, all 30 of them, singing to the beat of his drum, screaming with laughter (as were the parents as he dropped innuendo filled comments, leaving some of the fathers blushing for their lives) and when his part was over they followed him quietly and in a perfect line through for tea…whilst I stood thinking how many years of ageing he had saved me.

I mean look at Hulk (AKA Rex) rushing over to meet Spider-Man (AKA Dom).

 

Once tea was finished, E numbers had reached peak highs and sugar crashes were just around the corner we packed up the enormous amount of mess that children have a wonderful talent for making and made our way home, children straight to bed, us straight towards anything with a cork…and relax.

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The site of 30 children chowing down without a care in the world, surrounded by a tonne of manic parents

 

So party done, Bezos et al significantly richer and us significantly poorer party season is over for this year. It is to my absolute relief that the childrens birthdays are both in January as they will be having joint birthday parties until they are old enough to come to us with a bullet proof argument as to why this is no longer possible.

 

 

The Baby Adjustment Bureau

Im going to start this blog with a video which if you don’t find heart warming well do you even have a heart? I took a video of Rex coming home from staying with my sister and brother-in-law and his cousin Ivo (who he ADORES) to meet baby Stella – I have just re-watched it and it is beyond lovely, the sheer look of wonder in his eyes as he see’s her for the first time is magical. Also it really makes me laugh that he storms in and cruises down the slide on the way over. Now its no feature film and I really must work on my directing skills, but still, what a memory to have on tape.

On a side note please excuse the war zone that is our house – if you read my last post you’ll know we were packing the place up ready for gutting.

If i thought we had a lot going on, I can only imagine how much that all is to a two year old. I think Rex’s initial thoughts on Stella coming home were ‘cool, sweet little baby, she seems great and can definitely stay a day or two’ then a few days later ‘ok, hold up why is this baby still here and why on earth is she taking away the attention from me and why is she constantly attached to my mother like some kind of limpet’? Cue attention seeking tantrums from hell and heavy handed ‘hugs’ for Stella – that child will be made of tough stuff when she’s older.

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it’s important to note, that he adores his sister, he just doesn’t know his own strength yet.

If that wasn’t hard enough to see, the 5 day post natal blues then come a-calling – I remember after I had Rex I would just sit in the bath and cry, I couldn’t understand quite why I was so tearful, I was missing my momma more than ever at that time for obvious reasons, I had no idea what I was doing (who does) and needed that support, that big hug when exhaustion had taken over. So I knew what to expect the second time round, but it hit me in a different way. This time my emotions were entirely directed to Rex, he was acting up in quite a big way and most of his anger seemed to be directed at me, me and the limpet seemingly taking up permanent residence on my breast. I was no longer able to give all my attention to him and that was more upsetting than I had thought. It’s amazing how you don’t realise the bond you have with a child until things change and you can’t give him your undivided attention. He started waking up in the night (this is a child that was sleeping through the night from about 8 weeks old), he was throwing tantrums on an insane scale, I mean throw yourself to the floor in a fit of rage insane, screaming till he lost his voice, hitting me and only wanting ‘daddy’ and it was breaking my heart. I was finding myself losing my temper constantly. On top trying to look after Stella, field Rex’s mood swings (and my own) we were packing up our house and living in general hell so when we actually did get to our rental house I felt a huge sense of calm.

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Nailed the serious look of defiance – on a side note I can’t even with those perfect pouty lips and big blue eyes

Next step was settling Rex into a new nursery and that first settling in day was just the worst…the teachers took him off outside to the playground and I could see him from inside, he was there with no-one around him not wailing but with tears rolling down his cheek, looking frightened and unsure of what to do, totally vulnerable. In that moment as I stood watching him with tears filling my eyes as one of the teachers tried to get me to fill in endless forms I realised that I was in fact part of the problem (I know, unimaginable). My dearest friend charlotte who I have leaned on in an immeasurable  way through both my pregnancies had mentioned to me, when I was regaling her with my latest issue, that it’s easy to forget just how young the elder child is when you have a second baby and here I was doing exactly that. Tired and getting frustrated and talking to him as a child MUCH older than his years, expecting him to understand and forgetting that he is a baby himself, only just two and with all the changes that come with turning two he was having to deal with an enormous amount of extra emotional baggage.

We still have tears and screaming at bed time but instead of letting us all go into meltdown I try and take a deep breath (a glug of something alcoholic) and remember that patience is key and that all he needs is to know we’re there and he’s safe and listened to. Boy has my new zen parenting style paid off as two nights ago a rather genius thought came to me. I was home alone and Rex had started his screaming as soon as I said goodnight, I sat there thinking, how am I going to keep doing this on the nights I’m home alone? Particularly while Stella is so reliant on me, I can’t lay with him for 20 minutes like I can when Brute is home and able to hold the baby (a screaming baby is hardly the best lullaby). So I went in to see him and he was saying he was scared (another emotion that can flood a two year old) at that moment Tony appeared at the door keen to see what the fuss was about and wondering when he would get some peace and quiet to carry on his own napping…cue lightbulb…I gently said to Rex ‘Would you like Tony to sleep in here with you?’ ‘YES’ he said eyes wide like saucers so I popped Tony on the bed, told him Tony would love to sleep in with him and keep him company (I imagine an internal eye roll from Tony at this moment) and said goodnight to them both and that was that, no noise just straight to sleep and last night Tony just wandered straight in and hopped onto Rex’s bed and off they went to sleep. I suppose if you think about it, it’s like being told you can have a sleep over with your best friend every night so no wonder he is feeling more settled. I realise this may not be the long term solution, but while it works and he is happy then we’re all happy.

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The answer to all our prayers, the long standing hero of our household and the best of friends to Rex

 

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Never far from each others sides

Alongside that I’m trying to have special ‘us time’ going out for tea and cake or going for a walk and having lunch – anything so he knows that he is still very much at the forefront of my mind and my heart.

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looking on proud as punch as my son devours handfuls of marshmallows and chocolate cake

All I know is it’s a minefield and I have no clue as to what I’m doing but just try each day to do the best I can. It makes me realise how amazing all my friends are too, I can’t tell you the amount of time I have sent needy messages desperate for answers on what to do next and they never fail to come through for me. From all this chaos has come so much learning so whilst parts of it have been painful, I’ll take that pain for immeasurable happiness.

Right I realise my last couple of blogs have been rather serious and possibly also a bit ‘woe is me’ (who’s the attention seeker now) so next blog I promise to bring back the laughter of blogs gone by.

A change is gonna come…

Chapter One

The first two weeks of this year were mental to say the least – we have started the first part of a huge building project on our house in London, packed up our house and moved out of London to a new house. We have started Rex at a new nursery for the next three months too…oh and we had a baby!

I have no idea why we did this all at the same time – perhaps we were both having a psychotic episode? Or is it just part of the human condition to decide to take on so many major life moments in one go? Either way although it has been somewhat testing shall we say, the outcomes will be and have been wonderful.

The most wonderful part of all of this was of course the birth of our little girl, Stella. This time round we decided not to find out the sex but myself and Brute were absolutely convinced we were going to be having another boy, it’s a weird feeling I just couldn’t imagine myself having a girl – I definitely thought my lot in life was to be surrounded by boys (something as a hormonal teenager I would have given 2 thumbs up to).

I hadn’t given much thought to the birth itself, to be honest that was on purpose as I was more nervous about it all this time round, knowing what to expect, I’m definitely one of those people that likes to maintain a ‘it’ll be fine’ facade because to be honest you have to get through it one way or another, but on the inside the stomach was slightly knotted. When I was pregnant with Rex I had envisaged a water birth, no drugs and all very serene , the baby would pop out and i would look flushed but calm with a beautiful glow about me, a bit like the episode of Friends when Rachel has her baby and looks at the end how I hope to look on a normal day (I am biased as I have a major love for Jen Aniston, so her in any state including post giving birth is a look I’m down with) annoyingly that is quite (incredibly) far from what happened and how I looked at the end of it.

Instead, 9 days after Rex was due,  I went into labour, had to have my waters broken manually which is a pretty undignified feeling and though I started in the serenity of the water bath I was soon dragged upstairs literally kicking and screaming in pain to be induced as I wasn’t dilating. If I was going to be induced then I was going to take every pain killing drug they could find for me along with it. Another 12 hours later Rex arrived.   Brutal, yet ultimately the most incredible thing in the world is delivered.

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With my little hunk in the hospital the day he was born – so alert!

With Stella is was totally different, I had assumed I was going to be in for another late baby until the week before my due date and Brute said we should place bets on when she was going to arrive, I suddenly had this feeling that she was going to be on time, Brute went with 5 days late (they do say your second is usually earlier & a quicker birth in general) Sure enough at 01.30am on the morning of Saturday the 20th January 2018 I got up thinking I needed my usual middle of the night pregnant woman pee, only this time i didn’t quite make it to the loo and instead found myself stood in a pool of water, I woke Brute up and said ‘I think my waters are breaking’ to which he said ‘well don’t just stand there, get to the toilet’ (he’s lucky i’m so understanding) half an hour later my contractions started and they came on strong very quickly, Brute was set up with his contraction app which within in minutes was flashing red and telling us to get our asses to the hospital as otherwise this baby was going to pop out on our pre renovation laminate bedroom floor, not a first glance at the world anyone should have to deal with. So after at least 5 stops for contractions we made it to the car and zoomed to Queen Charlottes and Chelsea hospital where they took one look at me and said ‘it won’t be long now’ cue internal freak out – I’m not ready, I can’t do this, help!!!! I was whizzed into the birth centre and hopped into the bath and by then It was full on, I knew I couldn’t have any pain relief if I was going to  have a water birth, but it’s what I had wanted the first time so I was going to give it my best shot. It was quite a blur, I just remember asking how long left till the baby arrived (the sounds awfully polite, in actual fact I think I scream when the F*%k is this baby coming, get it out of me) to which the midwife calmly said 40 minutes  – how on earth they can tell that is beyond me but she was spot on – sure enough, 40 minutes later through a haze of swearing, punching Chris in the arm and almost breaking his hand this little angel arrived into the water as calm as day, it took a minute before Brute said ‘is it a girl or a boy?’ I had totally forgotten that we didn’t know and when we realised we had a little girl every other feeling vanished, and pure love took over. That is of course why people have more than one child, you forget the pain of labour so quickly…damn them and the pure joy they bring.

So that was it, 3.5 hours from my waters breaking to Stella arriving, and yet still I didn’t look anywhere near Rachel in Friends…hmmm I’m starting to think she wasn’t really giving birth after all.

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My little dream team on the day each of them was born. Rex on the left and Stella on the right – I know new borns all look similar but they could ONLY be siblings!

Now, Before I go any further, I need to just shout about how amazing the midwives and staff were at Queen Charlottes and Chelsea, this is my second birth there and both times they made me feel as at ease as is possible. The calm, caring, positive, encouraging attitude and incredible knowledge they have, well they are just all round bloody wonderful people. It’s a serious testament to their love of and commitment to their jobs. I was in such safe hands from beginning to end and though I thanked everyone profusely when we left the hospital I feel like they do the most incredible job bringing new life into the world countless times a day and they deserve more praise than is possible to impart. Once Stella had made her grand appearance into the world my midwife made sure I was comfortable on the bed with Stella, whilst another came in with toast and tea for both brute and I. We were then (once we were up to it) moved next door to a fresh room with a double bed and offered breakfast (both of us).

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Super important that Brute was comfortable in bed as soon as possible after the birth…he’d been through a lot.

We were told in no uncertain terms to take our time, have a sleep there was no rush to leave the room – we were so touched by how comfortable they made us and ultimately indebted to them for helping to bring our two children into the world safely.

I’m going to leave it there until next time as I wanted to write a separate piece about what comes next, the huge highs the very real lows, what it all meant for Rex and where we are now (plus an adorable video of the moment they met, be still my beating heart etcetc). Also my little limpet needs to feed for the 100000000000000th time today so I’m going to settle into some serious Winter Olympics action – who knew curling could be this gripping.

Marching out of the hospital that lunchtime with my little babe, Stella

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