In Memoriam

We buried you today. I knew it would be hard, but when I saw the hearse walking down the village high street my heart stopped.

There was a part of me waiting to be woken up from a horrible dream, but instead today’s events carried on and I have been forced to confront reality.

Dare I say it, the coffin and flowers were beautiful and were to your taste; a willow coffin with beautiful pastel blooms of white, lilac, blues and pink.

You’ve been gone almost a month. Four weeks since I had to record my goodbye and send it for mum to play to you as the current pandemic meant I was not allowed in to see you. I tell myself that you were able to hear it, however a part of me thinks you’d already left us when you were found that fateful morning.

Did you know that we ended up walking the hearse through the village because so many people wished to attend today to say goodbye that we would have broken the current lockdown rules on gatherings?

I have heard people say a number of times today that you were always good at bringing people together; it’s fitting that today in glorious sunshine you did it again.

My grief is still incredibly raw and years of not reading enough mean that my vocabulary has wilted. I struggled to find the words to write in the condolences book this morning. I’m not sure there are words to describe grief accurately; such a complex, personal experience unique to each relationship.

I have always held you in high regard as a form of role model; your fierce intellect and obstinacy combined with a warmth and friendliness is something I have found nowhere else.

I owe my talent for languages to you; I would not be where I am today had it not been for the hours of French tuition and language exposure you provided me with at such a young age.

The fun we have had, you and I. The number of times you’d get that wicked glint in your eye and a mischievous grin on your face announcing unrepentant naughtiness fill memories that I will forever cherish.

My happy place was always with you in your house and I am blessed to have been able to spend so much time with you.

Amongst my most treasured experiences are the countless summers in your garden, playing badminton, helping in the kitchen or with the weeding; the walks round the village after a lengthy Sunday lunch during which we’d become so engrossed in the conversation we would forget about the food; dropping in to visit you as a surprise, only to find you dozing in the greenhouse on a kitchen chair you’d smuggled out so you could listen to BCC Radio 4 in the sun.

These memories keep you alive. To me, you will always be with me as long as I have these. Just as today a piece of my heart was laid to rest on a sunny hill top in the English countryside.

I love you to the moon and back. Forever and always.


Letters: 23 months

My Naughty Little Seal Pup,

It’s rare these days that I have time to write things down; so much has happened within the past 2 years.

I went back to work when you were 8 months old; shortly before your first birthday we moved house; your second Christmas your Oma overcame her fear of flying and spent three weeks with us so she could meet us for the first time and get to know you. She steps in where your father should, but does not.

You’re a month away from your second birthday. I cannot believe how fast the time has flown; you are now confidently running about the place, climbing everywhere you shouldn’t and generally keeping me on my toes.

Your speech is coming on in impressive leaps and bounds. Most humans learn to talk, so you are far from unique in that sense, yet observing you acquire language is a fascinating process. Currently you’re picking up both English and German, leading to some amusing pronunciations that cause consternation amongst those who do not know what you are trying to say.

Der Fuchs, “the fox” – unfortunately you’ve not quite realised there’s an “s” at the end of the word, and to English ears you’re being quite uncouth. This tickles me every time.

You also haven’t quite realised there’s an “l” in “clock”, either.

Any vehicle larger than a car you label a digger. In German. To English ears, “Bagger” sounds surprisingly unsavoury. The first time your Oma heard you say it, I had to explain what you were trying to say.

As I write this, we are living in unprecedented times. At the end of March, you could no longer go to the childminder to whom you have grown so accustomed; we are in the middle of a pandemic, and our Alltag has been thoroughly thrown out of the window.

I have struggled with the transition from working full-time to being a full-time Mama. I imagine you have also found the change unsettling, although you cannot say as much just yet. But although it has taken us a few weeks, we have found a new rhythm and adjusted.

Trips to the supermarkets now entail waiting in long queues outside the building; exercise has been limited and in certain circumstances I am required to wear a face mask – fortunately you find the mask quite entertaining as opposed to intimidating. There’s not much that scares you, my little lion heart.

It also has meant that socialising has had to stop; the illness doesn’t show symptoms during the incubation period and you can unwittingly pass it on to loved ones and those vulnerable to the disease without realising.

The world in which you will grow up in will be vastly different to the one that I experienced as a result of this pandemic. I can only hope that we seize the opportunity when it presents itself to make positive changes so desperately needed.

Why write now after all this time?

Today I have struggled to be a Good Mama and give you the attention you need. Lots of things are going on; things you are thankfully unaware of and which you cannot understand. These things take up space in my head and require mental energy that I am lacking at the minute. Individually, I could cope with The Things, but all at once? It’s challenging.

I know that I will overcome The Things, but I need time to reflect, to digest, to heal. I find it hard to do that and be a full-on Fun Mama 24/7. I need some time to myself, and that is OK. A few nights’ good sleep and I am sure I will feel more positive about everything. Writing this out to you is cathartic.

One of The Things I am trying to come to terms with is a painful but necessary life lesson, Bärchen. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how much we may desperately want it to. The statement applies to people too. Know that grief is an incredibly personal and complex thing.

I am sorry I have been ratty lately, that I have raised my voice or lost my temper over seemingly trivial things. I can only hope that these moments do not leave lasting impressions on your young mind, and if they do, that I can undo any damage done. I do not do these things because I do not love you, but because in that moment my heart is hurting and I feel completely overwhelmed. I always apologise afterwards, hating myself for descending into the Ratty Shouty Mother I swore I’d never become.

Maybe you won’t remember these moments or this exceptional period of our lives, but if you do, I want you to know that we are living in extraordinary times, and I know that I need to better myself in order to be the role model and parent you deserve. I am educating myself and am learning to alter my own behaviours so I can be a better caregiver. Some days are better than others, but you and I have already made huge progress.

I am far from perfect, and I know I make mistakes, but if I can recognise my errors for what they are, I know I can do better. I also love you to the moon and back, even if you do take up all the space in bed next to me and snore in my ear all night. Just please don’t kick me in the face again.

If I’ve learnt anything from the past week and a half, it’s that it’s so important to tell those important to you how much you love them. Life is precious, as are you.



3 Months – Realisations

Below are a few things I’ve learned during the past three months of motherhood.  I feel like some of these are not-so obvious and whilst others are, when you’re in the middle of an intense 2am cluster feed you find your mind crowded with all kinds of ridiculous notions of what you should -or shouldn’t- be doing.

  • Carpe f*cking Diem – that thing you need to do?  Do it.  Do it now or spend the next 3 days regretting your mistake.
  • Priorities.  If you couldn’t prioritise before, you’ll learn damn fast post-partum.  Got half an hour whilst the little darling naps?  Now’s the time to use that freedom wisely.  I categorise things in terms of how much will I regret not having done it later.  That, and can I do it one-handed?  If I can, it’s a lower priority.  This blog post?  Mostly typed one-handed on the phone whilst boobing overnight.  Prevents me from thinking that casting on another pair of socks to knit is a good idea.
  • Learn to let go and embrace the chaos.  As an adult, you’re far more of a control freak than you realise and are surprisingly regimented in what you do and when. You don’t realise this until you have a baby.  Our lives are ruled by the notion of time and babies are glorious little wildcards that quite frankly, shit on time and its constraints.  You wanted to quickly nip to the shops?  Oh nonononono.  Mama it’s time for a feed and yes I will take my sweet time.  Oh, and what do you know?  I’ve just decided to explosively fill my nappy and simultaneously spit up on your shirt.  You weren’t planning on doing anything for the next hour, were you?
  • That noise they make the first time they headbutt you in hunger hard enough to hurt themselves will make your heart break.
  • Be comfortable in your own skin.  There is no such thing as discreet public breastfeeding at the beginning.  Your little boob addict is hungry?  They will snort, snuffle and generally rub their face all over your boob except for the nipple. Accept that you’ll likely inadvertently flash people.
  • Your little rascal will mistakenly latch onto somewhere that isn’t breast and will give you what looks like a lovebite.  It’s inevitable.
  • Enjoy the small things.  Remember when you were 38 weeks pregnant and immensely proud of the fact you managed to epilate your legs without falling over or putting your back out? That pales into comparison when your little inhabitant is on the outside and you finally manage to have that hot cup of tea or a shower long enough to use a body scrub.  Or eat with both hands.  Relish those moments of bliss.
  • Nothing will rip you from a deep sleep like your little angel filling their nappy with that almost-comical squelch.  I say almost comical because it’s hilarious until you have to change it.
  • Never wake a sleeping baby.  Unless you’ve just heard *that* nappy sound.  Then it’s time to brace yourself and poke the lion with a stick.
  • They are noisy AF.  Whoever said “sleep like a baby” clearly never slept in the same room as one of the little buggers.  Sleep time is time to bust out those dance moves, mum.
  • Babies are fidgetbums.  Mine is a Fidgetbum of the First Order.  Fidgets whilst he sleeps, whilst he nurses, during nappy changes…  Enjoy the nappy changes before they learn to roll over or discover their hands, by the way.  Those are game-changers.
  • No matter what you said during pregnancy and how much you try, you will turn into that annoying sickeningly proud parent.  “Look! Alfonso has just managed to stick his fist in his mouth for the first time and made himself gag!”.  Considering you spend nine months incubating another human being, only for them to emerge looking like a seriously wrinkly, grumpy old man that appears to just scream “BOOB” incessantly for those first few weeks, these tiny developments will never cease to amaze you.
  • Trust your gut.  You think your Bambino is tired?  They probably are.  You suspect a growth spurt or teething?  Most likely is.  You got this; ignore the well-intentioned unsolicited advice from those unqualified and listen to your instinct.  Nine times out of ten, mum knows best.
  • You can successfully breastfeed.  No, they’re not fussing because you can’t produce enough.  They’re fussing because they’re telling your body to make more of that magic milk.  And no, you cannot overfeed a breastfed baby.  No you cannot spoil them when they’re this small.  But ultimately fed is best and you know what works for you.
  • If you breastfeed, you discover that if in doubt, boob is most likely the answer.  Aside from a dirty nappy or trapped wind, boob will resolve everything.  Pain relief?  Boob.  Comfort?  Boob.  Overtired?  Boob.  Grouchy?  Boob.  Hungry/thirsty?  Boob.  You just can’t go wrong.
  • Breastfeeding: Thought pregnancy cravings were bad?  Wait until The Hunger gets you. 2 minutes after giving birth it hit me like a freight train and I’ve been ravenous ever since.  It is possible to have a three course breakfast by 9am and feel hungry at 10:30, by the way.  Coconut yoghurt is the bomb.
  • Don’t under-estimate clusterfeeding. Get snacks, drinks and the TV remote because you’ll likely be here a while.  Ride it out; it won’t always be like this, honestly.
  • You will never feel a bond like this and you never expected it to hit you the way it has. Allow yourself to be proud and enjoy those moments where they smile at you with a mouthful of boob, or start babbling at you like you’re having a serious conversation.  These moments are priceless and are all too fleeting.  You will also never feel so protective of anything or anyone in your life.
  • Your body is amazing.  Yes, you may feel a bit battered, flabby, sleep-deprived and at times like a human milk machine capable of only watching box sets whilst the boobivore feeds, but when you think about it, this whole process is an absolute marvel and is not to be taken for granted.  Yes, those 4am feeds are a pain.  As are the 2am ones.  And that one at 5 where you usually have a fight over the nappy change.  It won’t be like this forever.
  • You understand more of what your parents went through raising you, particularly if you’ve got siblings and have just had your first baby.  You have all these apps and gadgets and Dr. Google to turn to when you have questions or concerns.  They didn’t.  Your parents had to do it old school and that’s pretty badass.  You don’t have to agree with everything they’ve done, but it should earn your respect, at least.  Still won’t make up for that time you weren’t allowed to go to that party, though.
  • Share their joy in the little things. Is sticking your tongue out the best thing since sliced bread? Embrace it and enjoy that right now, entertainment is cheap.
  • Be vigilant during nappy changes.  This is particularly addressed to those with sons. Chances are you too have fallen victim to the Anger Wee when struggling with a very indignant, hungry baby in the small hours.  I have lost count the number of times we’ve had an impromptu hair wash at stupid o’clock because I was too bleary-eyed to check where he was pointing, he let loose and it went all over him, in his hair and the changing mat.  Impressive.
  • Finally, wing it.  All mums do, and eventually you will master the art of blagging your way through the challenges your little human sets you to the point where it appears as if you actually have a plan.


On a sober note, a lot of this revolves around baby, and whilst the little soul is unspeakably precious, the most important thing I personally am struggling to make sure I don’t lose sight of is myself, and to jettison that impulse of trying to be super-mum.  I wasn’t always a mum and I need down time too.  It is so incredibly hard to shake off the expectation of being a natural-born superwoman once your baby has arrived.  Your already superwoman by virtue of the fact you’ve decided to raise another human.

Oh, and guilt.  You’ll have plenty of things to feel guilty about at a later stage in life, no doubt, so be it safe co-sleeping, or realising they watch TV with you in the evening, save the guilt for another time.

The dishes can wait.  Play time with your smiley little Sleep Thief, however…

Letters: 6 weeks // day 43


I haven’t written to you recently.  Time has flown by and you’ve needed my undivided attention.  I make no apology for spending time with you as opposed to writing my thoughts down, but as time goes by I worry that I’ll forget things.  Currently you’re snoozing but you’ve begun to stir; I’m guessing you’ll likely wake soon, hungry.

This week we’ve broken through the week 6 growth spurt and sleep regression.  Or at least, I’d like to think we’ve begun to.  You’ve begun to smile and laugh and as clichéd as it sounds, I cannot describe how it felt that first time.  You were nursing when you suddenly un-latched, looked me in the eye with a recognition I hadn’t seen before and the very first flicker of your beautiful cheeky smile flashed across your face.

It’s the same smile that greeted me at 5am earlier this week whilst your hand had somehow found its way into my mouth and a little foot was pressed firmly into my stomach.  You appear to thoroughly enjoy the closeness the cluster feeding through the night brings as I’m often so tired we end up snoozing together in my bed.  I cannot lie and say I don’t enjoy the closeness.  I cherish it and marvel at the little hands with delicate fingers that grasp me whilst you feed, making sure I don’t suddenly deprive you of food.  When you’re not fidgeting, of course.

We go to a number of mum and baby groups.  You’re known for usually sleeping through these, but today you were awake for the entire session.  You took in the sights and sounds around you, smiling cheekily at other mums and generally dribbling everywhere.  I was feeling a strange sense of pride until you burped most proficiently.  Fortunately you’re at an age where this earned you applause from the other mums as opposed to looks of consternation and disapproval.  Enjoy it whilst you can.

Towards the end of the session, you were clearly overwhelmed by all the stimuli in the room and so I nursed you to help soothe.  You met and held my gaze the entire time; big, round, innocent eyes framed by two little hands holding onto my shirt.  You suddenly looked so very vulnerable and unsure of yourself, as if you were seeking reassurance from me amongst the noisy chaos of other babies, mums and toys.  Our little world that you have known for your life to date had suddenly gotten a lot bigger, louder and, well, fremder.

Maybe this is simply the lack of sleep kicking in with hormones, pushing my desire to keep you safe into overdrive.  Or maybe I saw my own insecurities in the way you looked at me.  But I’ll repeat what I said to you in that moment this morning at the play group:

I am here.  You are safe and I am not going anywhere.  It’s okay to feel scared.  This is new; and new things can be scary, but that’s normal.  We’ll take one step at time together until you’re confident enough to find your way.

You know, I think this was the first of many moments to come where I found myself wishing you won’t grow up.  I know it is inevitable, and so I must learn to accept these things.  Of course I celebrate and get excited at every tiny milestone you reach, be it the cheeky grin you give me after you’ve managed to fill your nappy with such gusto that the contents covers your back; the pulling of my hair when you’re being burped against your wishes; or the series of noises you make when you decide that 3 o’clock in the morning is playtime and I leave you to babble to yourself in your cot next to me.

We have already accomplished so much and we have such a way to go still.  I’m actually quite excited to see where we end up.  But most importantly, I do not regret an instant.  You’re barely out of the starting blocks and I can feel myself already beaming with pride.

And as if on cue, your eyes have just fluttered open, my little boobivore.  Time for me to go.

All my love,

Mama x

Letters: Day 19

My little Sparrow,

It’s been 19 days since you hatched.  It’s hard to imagine carrying you around in me for those nine months now when I feed you, or watch you sleep.  Within your first two weeks you’ve already changed so much and I find myself already marvelling at how quickly you’re developing.

I was in the middle of writing you a letter at 39 weeks when you decided it was time.  As the growth scan showed at 37 weeks, you were born with a head full of beautiful dark hair and your nails were already quite long – I find myself constantly trimming them to stop you from scratching yourself.

Today has been a trying day; you’re clearly having a growth spurt and I have nursed you constantly since the small hours of the morning.  I’m typing this whilst you’re having your first proper sleep of the day.  When you’re in these phases you refuse to sleep in your cot; only my shoulder will do and whilst I cherish the cuddles and the time I get to spend holding you now watching you sleep on me, my body is not without its aches and pains.

I know that it will not be long before you are no longer so dependent on me and I will look back on these moments and regret that I didn’t take the time to truly enjoy them.  If anything, since your arrival I am increasingly convinced that one of my greatest challenges on the next phase in this journey of ours will be to learn to let go and to move forward with you.  I already find myself astounded and if not somewhat overwhelmed with the speed of your progress – you are already starting to hold your head up for periods of time; your cries now take on different tones depending on what you want to communicate; you’ve discovered you can pull my hair; and the intelligence in those eyes of yours seems to be more pronounced each time you look me in the eye and gurgle at me.

Although you still try to latch onto my nose to feed, given the chance.

A word on your Papa, for clarity:  he knows you are here, and has photos of you.  We were unable to have a constructive conversation about naming you, and he eventually stopped replying.  If you dislike your name when you’re older, mea culpa.  He has not yet been to visit, nor does he appear to want much contact at present.  Perhaps this will change with time – I certainly hope so.  In all honesty, I think he is overwhelmed with the situation and has not yet come to terms with fatherhood.  I cannot tell you how sad this makes me, but we shall make the best of this, you and I.  He is welcome as and when he feels ready, as long as the conditions are right.  Your well-being is my priority.

But know that I could not be prouder of you, mein kleines Wunder.

On days such as these I find myself having moments of weakness and self-doubt: are you crying because of something I’ve done, or simply because you’re hungry or because of colic?  Am I reading your facial expressions and cues correctly, or have I missed something?  Why won’t you settle in your cot?  Am I producing enough milk for you, or have I eaten something that disagrees with you?  It’s in these darker moments I find myself overwhelmed with the road ahead of us and the tears start to fall.  A few minutes of wallowing in self-pity and doubt eventually give way to a feeling of confidence that we can do this; it’s a case of one step at a time.

We can do this.  But first, I’m going to have a nap.


Mama x

Letters: 30 weeks

My little Wriggler,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the journey we have ahead of us.  In truth, we’re already quite some way into it and are slowly approaching the next stage.  I like to refer to this next stage as your “hatching” – the German term “Schlupfen” sounds far more fitting to me than the English.  Your Papa’s language can be so very descriptive and poetic.

I have rushes of excitement when I wonder what you’ll look like and the thought that soon, I shall get to meet you.  It’ll make a change from having exchanges through the wall of your current home; watching ripples and twitches with bewilderment and feeling quite enchanted that you are already quite your own person, waiting for your moment to arrive.  I’m so insanely curious to get to know you and watch you develop and grow.

I’m beginning to find it tricky to put socks on now.  I wouldn’t say you’re a particularly big baby (yet), or that your current pod is over-sized.  I’d like to think I was fairly slim in stature to begin with.  When we need to get up in the morning these days, I have to either roll or slowly heave myself up.  You tend to nestle in your favourite corner over night, making those first movements each morning a slightly delicate affair.

One morning this week you were so firmly nestled in your corner, I had a lop-sided bump and despite my gentle coaxing you point-blank refused to move.  I definitely adopted a waddle that morning as I moved about the flat for the first 5-10 minutes.

Lop-sided bump
Nope, not budging.

The following morning a strange sensation roused me from my deeper sleep, and half-awake, I watched a suspiciously foot-shaped protrusion make its way from just under the right-hand side of my rib-cage over to the left; a bizarre dorsal fin of sorts that pushed back when I touched it gently.

Soon I will need to pack us a bag for your debut; you’re becoming increasingly active and I’m almost constantly watching you shift, twist and kick.  Did you know that your feet already reach quite some way underneath my ribs?  You seem to prefer the right-hand side, for some reason, although you did recently discover that you can park your tiny feet perfectly in the spot where my ribs part.

You also appear to be nesting quite low; almost a tad impatient, I’d say.  At the last check up we couldn’t do any 3D imaging of your face for your Papa because you were nestled so tightly against the stage exit.  You’ve got a while still to go, my little lion heart.  Patience is going to be an important thing for you to learn, I feel.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about becoming a mother and what that means.  Like all parents-to-be I have my concerns, my fears, my wishes.  And as is to be expected, I want to give you the best start in life I can possibly offer; even if that isn’t that much compared to those more financially stable than us.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading and talking to women who have already made this first intimidating leap into motherhood – what they found useful, what was a waste of time, and what they would change were they to do it all again.

Time and time again the theme of putting my well-being as your mother and (initially) main care-giver first comes up.  “Solange es der Mutter gut geht, geht es dem Kind auch gut”, said the obstetrician to your Papa at the last appointment.  You will thrive if I do.  We will thrive together.  I look at our current circumstances and we are in the unusually privileged situation where we can choose between two countries.  It doesn’t feel like a blessing at times because I feel incredibly torn, but when it comes down to it, we do have a choice.

Here in your Papa’s country, we have his support for the first few weeks – although I’m not entirely sure what that constitutes of at the minute – and a high quality of medical care.  But there will come a point when he goes and continues living his life, and I will need to care for us both; learning to stand on my own two feet and ensure that I am capable of nurturing you as you need me.  This isn’t entirely impossible, but it is in no doubt a sizeable mountain to climb.

The alternative would be to temporarily return to my country.  The healthcare system there is quite different – not necessarily worse – and it would mean that your Papa will likely not be present for your hatching, which does sadden me if I’m honest, but the love and support you would be born into simply eclipses the surroundings we would find ourselves in were we to remain here.  You have no idea of the number of people who are curious, excited and nervous to meet you.

It’s hard to describe the feelings you evoke in others simply by just being there.  If ever you find yourself having a dark or bleak moment, I want you to remember that there are people on this planet who have grinned with joy, emptied a few bottles of wine, and have been even moved to tears at learning of your existence.

I question of course whether or not this is the right decision; I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this and I do not doubt that you may question my actions later on when you are older and begin to understand the world we live in.  Your Papa was understandably quite wounded when I mentioned I was considering moving us back to the island for your hatching, and said some quite hurtful things, as is to be predicted.  I understand his pain, and this is not a decision I make lightly; I have talked the ears off of several donkeys on this and Lord knows I have driven people absolutely mad agonising over what to do.  I have to follow my gut instinct – the same one that told me that carrying you was perhaps the best decision I’ve made so far.

This is just another leap we have to make, you and I.  We’ve made it this far – we can keep going.





…but I’d be grateful if you could stop punching my cervix.


Mama x

Letters: 26 weeks

My little Wriggler,

I woke up the other morning with the sudden urge to write to you: I don’t expect you to ever really read this and I imagine that in a few months’ time, I will likely find this a tad embarrassing and delete it anyway.  You and I have been living in quite some uncertainty in recent months and I’m so very mindful that it’s easy to forget the beautiful moments that we have had amongst all of the angst and the worry.

So here’s your daft mother’s attempt to write a few of them down, because soon, you are meant to be here, gracing my day with regular demands for feeds, nappy changes and, I imagine, a new level of (welcome) pandemonium and unpredictability that only a child can bring.

As I type this, I can feel you turning and stretching; we’re sitting in the sunshine on the balcony where we currently live and you’ve recently discovered that you can kick my stomach – yesterday you got me between the ribs when I wasn’t expecting it and you momentarily took my breath away – not for the first time, and I can imagine definitely far from the last.

I know I’ll be getting revenge in about a year with bath time, so feel free to build up your score.  It’ll even out in time, I promise.

Last week you got the hiccups again and I couldn’t help but laugh – I felt a little bad, but I know you’re not feeling any pain.  I wonder what you will sound like when you have them when you’re actually here.  Whilst you were fighting with your diaphragm, your Papa phoned, quite drunk, sounding very chuffed that he had just told a friend of his about you.

He may not always show it very clearly, but I know that you already mean the world to him – unser kleines Wunder.

I can remember the moment I found out I was carrying you like it was yesterday; test in hand and feeling numb in shock and disbelief.  The mind is a very clever and powerful thing; it can conceal things from you, it can convince you of things that aren’t necessarily true; and it can persuade you to overlook facts that are right in front of you.  The one thing it does poorly, however, is hide your true response to a surprise.

To say I was surprised by the news would be an understatement, but I felt joy and excitement in the moments before hundreds of questions and thoughts spilled over into my mind.  The main conundrum facing me being how to tell your Papa.

Should you ever have to share important news with someone, please do not do what I did.  It’s normal to be nervous when you have important news to share, but I choked so many times that evening, I ended up doing the one thing I didn’t want to do:  blurt it out shortly before leaving for the night.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen your father stunned before.  Or the grin he had on his face whilst the news sunk in.  On our more challenging days I relive that moment in my mind and it’s important you know that deep down, he is as excited as I am about you; sometimes these things feel a little scary, but that’s normal.

Did you know that you already react to your Papa’s voice?  You have done so for a number of weeks now, although at the beginning it was mostly when he was getting irate with other drivers when in the car.  More recently you respond to his voice when he’s not shouting obscenities at people (thankfully), and to his touch.  The look on his face each time is priceless.

It’s funny how you move in your sleep – you fidget and my tummy twitches in a really odd way.  Did you know, that tomorrow we’re 90 days to the day before our due date?  Something tells me that you won’t want to wait until then.  I even dreamt about holding you for the first time a few nights ago; I woke up in tears, completely overcome by the mixture of emotions brought to the surface.  It was a most bizarre way to start the day, I have to say.

At the weekend you managed to out-do yourself, you rascal.  I was eating dinner with your Papa and you managed to kick me hard enough in the stomach to make me burp.  I don’t know who was more startled at the abrupt outburst: your father or I.  Fortunately I didn’t have my mouth full, else that could have been quite disastrous.  Can’t take either of you anywhere, it seems.

There are so many of these “little” moments; always so fleeting, but so very important.  One of the many things I would like you to learn is to recognise them and take the time to say to yourself, “isn’t it nice“.  We could live in a big house, you and I, and I could have a job where I work long hours but earn a lot more than I currently do; but then I feel the sun on my face and I watch the ripples as you stretch and wriggle about and I actually feel quite content.

If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.



…But please take your foot out from between my ribs.

Inane Whittering #Eleventy-Twelve: Kitchens and Bump

Before you begin to read this and find yourself thinking “dear Lord, here we go again with either cats, knitting or whinging”, I’d like to warn you that this entry has been lovingly handcrafted by the spellbinding combination of what I can only describe as pregnancy rage; a healthy dose of frustration and a dollop of cultural perplexity.

First the elephants in the room:

Yes I’m having a baby.  Surprised me too, funnily enough.  Yes I’m doing this on my own.  Little wriggler is due to make his first on-stage appearance in the summer.  So that means a sober birthday in addition to Christmas just gone.  The size of that first gin and tonic will be a whopper, I’m telling you.

Next surprise: I’m back in the land of beer and salami.  Neither of which I’m supposed to consume, given current circumstances.  This time, I’m in the West dealing with corporate types as opposed to the Bildungselite in the East like the last time.

Right, on to the topic that’s driven me to type this afternoon whilst my inhabitant decides to do his afternoon yoga and test whether my organs make for good cushions: Germans and their bizarre kitchen fascination.

As it currently stands, I sub-let a room in a flat share until the end of April; this was agreed from the word go when I originally moved in.  This deadline was always on the horizon; then came the revelation that I will soon have a human kitten and the search for a new place to live in became that little more complex.

I should add that personal circumstances are incredibly fluid in nature at the best of times, and things haven’t always been quite this…precarious, as it may come across.  Sometimes you genuinely cannot foresee the things that are thrown at you.

So here I am, looking for a flat (and a midwife, and a hospital, and childcare) in the Frankfurt area, and for those of you vaguely familiar with the city will already be spitting out your tea/coffee/gin as this is quite the mountain to climb.

The rental market here is, quite simply put, ludicrous.  The little that is on the market is priced extortionately, and is snapped up before you can say “bugger me”.  Secondly, the moment you look like you’re expecting and appear to be on your own, be prepared to be rejected – cue baggy jumpers and coats with strategically placed scarves and pray he doesn’t start a yoga routine mid-viewing.

And this is where the kitchens come in.  In the UK, it is quite common to move into an unfurnished flat and to have to provide maybe the fridge, or the cooker and the washing machine.  Dishwasher too, if you’re feeling flush.

The Germans appear to be quite attached to their kitchens, and take the damn things with them when they move out.

All of it.  Cupboards, work surfaces, appliances, sinks, the lot.

So not only do you have to consider the deposit, and the fact that you will have to pay more than the rent advertised as it won’t include bills, you also have to mentally brace yourself for the installation of a darn kitchen should you not have one spare.

Out of fairness, there are the odd instances where tenants quite understandably do the normal sensible thing and leave the kitchen behind in exchange for a price; these offers however are not particularly commonplace, nor do they hang around for long.

I do not have a car here, so need to be close to public transport for work; close enough to a hospital that’ll take me so I can get myself there when my little dude decides he’s ready; and it needs to be affordable with the maternity pay* that’s available: these criteria restrict things somewhat.  Throw in the soon to be not-so-secret baby and the required childcare and you can imagine the fun we’re having with the search.

It’s enough to make you question the logic of staying in a country that technically is foreign to me – even if my employer were accepting and supportive of the development, and Brexit wasn’t on the horizon, this would still be a challenge; I am not about to lie to myself on the challenges of motherhood.

Brexit may seem a weird one to throw in seemingly without reason, but based on current work permit frameworks, these are fairly easy to obtain if you earn over a threshold of ca. 48,000 EUR per annum.  Needless to say I do not meet that threshold.

It’s almost enough to drive you spare.

Sadly I have no immediate solutions to any of this, save for continuing to spam every estate agent and flat advert I can find and going to viewings.

Despite all of this, I would make the same decision again, given the chance.  Whilst he’s currently dancing away and practising his kung fu with his umbilical cord, my tiny dancer and I have already experienced quite a bit.  Little does he know.

Right, time to go munch something before I start getting complaints.  Then it’s on to complete the best dinosaur jacket you’ve ever seen.

Oh, and German obstetricians are an experience and a half.  Mine is an absolute Powerfrau and a diamond.  More on that later.

*I should add here that I am aware that German law is incredibly comprehensive and the support offered to single parents is, based on what I have read, very well thought-out; there are safeguards in place to ensure that one parent does not leave the other without.  However I need to be realistic whilst the paperwork is sorted out and I am absolutely certain that there will be unexpected costs that I will need to be able to cover, thus the worst-case scenario planning.

Returns, dinosaurs and cat flaps.

Tach, Possums!

I shall refrain from writing another apology and yet another promise that I shall post more regularly.  It seems that every time I write such a thing, the exact opposite happens.  I was in Germany for a terrific 9 months and met some of the most fantastic people.  I also had hardly any internet, thus the radio silence.  Until I moved back to the UK nearly 2 months ago.

ANYWAY.  My new excuse is dinosaurs.  A friend of mine is expecting her first child at the end of the year, and naturally I’ve gotten *slightly* carried away knitting for the poor thing.  In addition to a bear and a starry cardigan, I’ve started on a dinosaur.  Because who doesn’t want a brightly coloured dinosaur?  He’s part-way through construction, has been a joy to knit, and will no doubt inspire a few sibling dinosaurs in time.

knitted dinosaur with legs

In addition to knitting, my furry adopted little sister had a slight disaster, and ended up spending a week at the vet’s.  I think that in pulling through the ordeal, she may well have used up one of her nine lives.  We suspect the cause was an injury acquired in a cat fight, but because it had healed over before any of the symptoms appeared, we can only speculate.  In short, she was lethargic, off her food, withdrawn and short of breath.  It turns out it was a pyrothorax; a build-up of fluid, in this case caused by an infection, in the chest cavity.  The vets drained 350ml of what I can only politely describe as goop, and she was on IV antibiotics for a week.  Last October she weighed 4.1kg, just to give you an idea of the proportion of fluid drained in relation to her weight.  (For the Imperialists among you, that’s nearly a pint of fluid.)

RIght, so now that we have a partially shaved feline back home, we decided that perhaps we ought to install a microchip-activated cat flap.  I take my hat off to the people who wrote this manual.  Sureflap, kudos to you.  You clearly know what it’s like to be a feline’s chosen human.

The first thing that struck me about the manual was the helpful information for cats on how to use the cat flap:

Not suitable for fancy dress.
Not suitable for fancy dress.  Keep away from kittens.

Now, for those of you wondering why one would splash out on the kind of cat flap that has diagrams of use for your cats in its manual, then you probably don’t have cats at home.  For those interested in the rationalisation, here’s an excerpt:

“This cat flap has been designed […] allowing access to your pet whilst keeping out animal intruders.”


But this isn’t just any cat flap, oh no.  This cat flap learns.  But a word to aspiring crazy cat people (it’s not always us women): you can only register 32 cats.  I find this a shame.  Any fool knows that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42 and for us cat-crazed individuals, cats are that meaning in life, ergo one should be able to have 42 cats, register them all, have one’s cake and be able to eat it, cat fur and all.

But the highlight of the manual for me has to be the advice aimed at the human side of this human-feline partnership under the section on how to get the cat flap to register your cat’s microchip. This point is of such importance, that it even has an exclamation mark in a warning triangle next to it:

“In order to learn a cat’s microchip number, a sensor located in the tunnel must detect a cat’s presence to trigger the microchip reader.  Therefore it is important to ensure that your cat either puts its head into the tunnel or passes through the flap.  No amount of waving your cat in front of the flap will have an effect.”

Whoever wrote that last line clearly has a wealth of experience either dealing with scratched, disgruntled customers phoning customer support, or of having personally tried “waving” a cat in front of anything.

I also suspect that there were a few felines who managed to get their paws on the manual, as in the troubleshooting section on how to get your cat acclimatised to the new cat flap, the author notes that “strategic positioning of food inside/outside the house can also help encourage the initial use of the flap.”

All I can say is that our resident feline would never allow herself to be waved in front of anything, and aside from presently snoring softly on a bean bag whilst I write this, the cat treats have so far been successfully retrieved without the cat flap successfully learning her chip.  This one has cunning.

Damn straight.
Damn straight.


No, it’s not the crater mass experiment, it’s me re-discovering my long-lost blog from that time I terrorised Munich for a few months and called it my year abroad.

Last year I was caught up in undergraduate stuff attempting to finish my Bachelors and then working out what form my new work-avoidance tactic would take.

I’m pleased to say that the Mile End Insitution for the Clinically Weird refused bail and I’m currently in the process of writing my Master’s Dissertation.  Not about bread, this time.  This time I’ve decided to succumb to the British tendency to obsess on World Wars and research radio propaganda during World War II.  I shall explain all when I’ve finally submitted it and have a result back.  Otherwise it could be a tad awkward if I blither on about how fascinating it all is and my markers turn around and look suitably disgusted.  However I can say that I managed to write an essay on the translation of nonsense and got away with calling it “Bandersnatches, Boojums and Bald Twit Lions:  The Translatability of Nonsense”.  It got a good mark, too.

Oh, and I somehow miraculously passed my Bachelor’s degree with flying colours and even got a gold star for my magic speaky-speaky skills.

The main reason, however, for me taking this back up again is to a) force me to read more interesting things so I have something vaguely intelligent to write about, and b) as of September this year I will be working on the language assistantship programme run by the British Council and will be based in Gotha.  I intend to write about my experiences in my usual bizarre style of travel writing.

Not that I intend to repeat the leggings incident, mind.  This time I’m responsible for helping teach English language and culture.  No doubt Herr and Frau Streipze will accompany me on my travels.

In the meantime, have a look at some of the best socks ever.  Admittedly they’re battery socks and not of the pedigree kind, but I assure you that they are fully integrated into my free-range flock.