I just need to try to work on my social skills. Need to stop having verbal diarrhoea. Need to learn how to spell diarrhoea right enough that spellcheck even knows what word I’m looking for. Need to just listen to people.
I’m getting a bit emotional. It’s so lovely to see her smiling at people and babies, even if they do try to put their fingers up her nose (babies not adults). I’m glad she doesn’t seem nervous or scared around others at the playground or in classes, though she does play shy sometimes.
Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill keeps coming to mind, though I don’t think the song is actually about being late for baby classes. The class is not long after B’s lunchtime so I need to be more on it next week!
I made the mistake of doing a lap around the park, I should have just walked towards home where the paving slabs are more uneven as I think it helps send her to sleep. It was weird noticing the surface of the paths again as I haven’t thought about it for a while – I don’t remember the last time B had a nap in her pushchair, possibly it was after the same class last year!
I didn’t know if we’d be out long enough, but we were. She didn’t sleep well that night so I worried maybe it was due to that, but she had good meals yesterday and she woke up a couple of times. I think it’s probably because she’s teething?
I need to enjoy Spring and Summer, and even Autumn can be nice, before I get worried about Winter again. Hopefully there will be playgroups and things. Maybe I’ll have a job where B can be in nursery a bit. We’ll have to see.
I feel like everything in the living room is constantly being moved around to avoid B’s grasp. My Nan likes to rearrange everything, but then B likes to get hold of them so it’s a constant game. Baby chess?
The House That Jack Built, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, some new book about dinosaurs that feels very nice to touch but the story isn’t great… Her bedtime books are Peppa Pig’s My Daddy and Goodnight You, Goodnight Me.
I had a day where I felt amazing, and then crashhh.
(I don’t write these things for pity. I know I am not the only person who feels like this, so I hope by talking about things it might help someone else. I still have a befriender who calls me about my mental health. I thought about quitting, but my reasons for wanting to quit were the reasons why I needed to stay – mainly feeling stressed out and like I didn’t have time for it.)
The thought got in my head so I thought I better do it. I spent ages daydreaming about what I would write while B was awake, then when she went to sleep I thought ‘no I shouldn’t do it’. But because I had spent so much time thinking about it I thought I had better do it.
People sent good suggestions, and a few people got in touch about hanging out. We’ll see if it happens though. I realised that I know more people around here than I think I do, so I’ve reached out to people to see if they want to hang out soon. That’s a positive at least.
Still jealous that friends have been going to playgroups/support groups/outside groups in other areas. I really should just organise my own group…
(3rd May: I’ve been throwing this ‘postcode lottery’ phrase around a lot this week as in Liverpool the health visitor’s are starting to do 10 month checks on babies in person, whereas they will not be coming to us – the Birmingham health visitor that is – so I just have to fill in a questionnaire.)
It has nearly been 4 months since we last went to a class in person. Typically with the walks that we don’t go on due to the timings not being great – one is moving to a better time for us later this month, so that should be good (if we can book a slot quick enough).
I think so. It will be good for B. Doing one of our classes on zoom has meant I have got to know one of the teachers fairly well (especially when B was the only person taking part the other week) and we might recognise some of the other Mums and babies.
It’s this one from Childs Farm. Someone on a local Mums whatsapp group mentioned it, so I thought we’d give it a go. We’re still using the Dermol 500 and Diprobase, and applying them regularly, but now I also put the moisturiser on her once or twice a day too. The fact that her skin doesn’t seem to be getting worse is good. I’d say her skin looks about 98% normal right now.
I need to be better and do better for B. The other day I took her out twice even though the weather wasn’t good, so I might just take her out more. That’s why I want the better weather to come so we can just sit outside more, and maybe I can start giving her lunch in the park and we can just enjoy nature more.
I have another job which is sometimes busy and sometimes not, but I leave that for the evenings. I did a couple of evenings with this job, but it was too stressful with getting dinner and B sorted. Plus I was knackered as it was a different kind of energy.
I’ve been thinking about setting up a patreon for a while, but I feel weird/awkward about it. I might look into it again though. I need to get smart about making money from art, but my confidence is not great. I need to get over things though.
The weather was hot, then it went cold but it has been warm enough to sit in the park on a picnic blanket the last couple of days in the afternoon – with coats on of course. B crawls off the mat and inspects everything, but I’m sure it’s good for her.
The last time I did it B would not sit still. Our last online zoom baby class was just our teacher, B and me. B would not sit still for that either. It’s going to be interesting seeing how she reacts in a real life class.
We don’t have many summer clothes for her – I ordered some the other night. Last night she slept in a sleepsuit without a vest, but the sleeping bag may have been too heavy. Her lighter ones are also yet to arrive.
The heaviest one just arrived. Typical. It also has the nicest design and she probably won’t use it that much – thought it might come in handy with the upcoming temperature drop.
I put ‘her skin is looking really good’ so I edited it as I know I am jinxing things. It was getting worse again but we switched to using her other cream more and that seems to have worked. Before the other one was working better. *Massive shrug emoji*
It’s probably slightly more interesting to look at as one photo (?) and yeah too much effort for two shoots. I’m surprised I’ve managed to do a shoot, write hashtags, have a 30 minute phone call with my befriender, and (hopefully) finish this post before B wakes up from her nap/I wake her up in 6 minutes.
B might have to just sit and watch me do it when I get her up. Or maybe I can wake her up with the noise of it. I just did it with the electric shaver attachment of an epilator. I’m not looking forward to epilating again. I didn’t bother at all last summer, so yeah that’s some fun to look forward to when I can be bothered.
The stepladder that I sit on to feed her in her highchair, the sofa that my Nan sits on, the tables that house things like photo frames and vases, and the glass shelves under the TV which she pushes the cushion away from to do so. Fun times.
I just felt embarrassed. She’s like ‘do you eat a lot of sugar?’, but I said I’m paying for my teenage/early 20s sugar sins.
I was known in high school for my addiction to a certain sugary drink and I was sure one day I’d get a tattoo related to it. I’m glad to say that I have no tattoos. I had that certain drink while at a hospital for a pregnancy scan (when pregnant with B) and they wanted her to change positions. They told me to get a sugary drink and walk up and down the corridors. The drink tasted disgusting (probably due to less sugar) and she did not move.
Classic. She does love smacking my laptop a bit too much.
(21st April: I think the final shot is a bit messy with the composition, but this was the reality of trying to do a shoot. I’m never sure what to use to cover B’s face, but I liked how her hand was so I instinctively copied and pasted it, then enlarged it to cover her features better. It fits well with something I like in photos – hands.)
With my job. I really need to check the weather before I go out as it changes so fast. Today I just wore a coat the whole time as it was spitting constantly (the weather).
(18th April 2021: I debated changing the title today, but there needs to be some comment in it about B not having so many teeth, and my teeth are bad so I guess it’s accurate. I do feel a bit awkward about it, but I guess that’s why my solo show last year was called Always Awkward.
It made me cry a bit as I thought it was so sweet.
Obviously there are people out there who have been through this pandemic with so little support. We would have just got on with it, but I think we would have probably ending up moving somewhere – even just the other side of Liverpool. We didn’t live near any parks, which was a big thing that I felt we were missing.
At the moment I am spreading out my hours over multiple days so my Mum or Tiago can look after her. She would have either had to go to nursery which would have cancelled out what I was earning or Tiago would have had to look after her all weekend.
A know one friend goes to an outdoors group and other friends go to a playgroup. I still don’t know when a playgroup will open near us. Am I jealous? Yes. Am I dealing with it? Yes. I have a big distraction with work now, and by the time I finish that job hopefully lots more things will be open.
It sounds like things are getting bad again. Hopefully we can be smarter as a country about things this time. The other day we realised that we might not be able to see Tiago’s family this summer. We don’t fancy throwing money down the drain as the logistics are complicated, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
She has seen us brush our teeth with an electric toothbrush so when we brush hers or I pretend to brush mine I make the sound of one. I think she finds me going ‘blergh’ more funny though. The other night she would not stop laughing.
We’ve been watching Through Her Eyes. We watched 2 episodes last weekend, then hadn’t watched it again until last night. Tiago has given me the go ahead to watch it by myself though, as I think he is a little freaked out/can’t be bothered to watch it. I have started to watch a lot of TV on 1.5x while doing work…
I hope more things stay online after the pandemic is over. It was so much more convenient to be at home with a digital portfolio. One reviewer said she wouldn’t have been able to go to the physical reviews as she has kids to look after.
They seemed to go well and were generally positive. It seems worth noting that I only had female reviewers.
It’s 9.15am and this morning he’s been looking after B so I could do dance videos, do a shoot and now my hashtags and blog. B is just going down for a nap, so I hope she sleeps well. I need to do some ‘work work’ after this, but I want to make sure that Tiago has some time for his own stuff today too.
I still feel guilty about T looking after her so much, but B doesn’t see him that much during the week so it’s nice for them to spend some quality time together.
I end up singing that ‘What Does The Fox Say?‘ song from time to time as B has a fox toy and a few books that reference foxes. I just remember hearing them mate in London a lot and that wasn’t very nice…
People like to use animals for things that aren’t really known for their noises. If in doubt a lot of animals roar, and most birds tweet, but what does a moose say? A lot of them become Pokemon in my mind as in a toucan says tou-can, and a moose says moooose.
I probably should have wrote this a bit closer to the one year anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown (23rd March), but I guess nearly 3 weeks after isn’t so bad.
I had planned for this blog post to reflect on pregnancy and early motherhood during a pandemic, but it took me long enough to just talk about my pregnancy so expect the motherhood bit at a later date.
I’m a bit bored of sounding like a massive whiner, but this year has been tough and I know it’s been tough for everyone in different ways.
Going back to what feels like a lifetime ago – I found out I was pregnant in October 2019 and knew I wanted to document it since I’ve been making self-portraiture projects since 2010. Sometimes titles for projects take a long time to appear, but other times they are easy, and Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things arrived with little stress.
I thought it was smart and funny.
‘Well, it’s 2020 and you can order things via the little gadget in your hand and it will arrive the next morning. We can watch a whole series in one go and not have to spend a week wondering what will happen next (okay for some shows you do have to, but I didn’t have a TV so I wasn’t really watching programmes like that). And now I have to wait for 9ish months for this baby to appear.’
I thought that pregnancy was something that happened to other people and not me, so I was really intrigued to see my body changing and experience someone – who would look like me and my husband – growing inside me.
If I talked about the whole of my pregnancy then we would be here for a long time, so let’s skip to not long before the UK had it’s first lockdown.
Earlier in my project (Waiting For Things…) I remember referring to Covid and feeling awkward about it as I thought (like most people) that it would be something that would just pass. Now I wish I had mentioned it more, but I thought people would think I was paranoid. I remember when I first started to sanitise my hands in public that people would think that I was odd for doing it. I initially tried to do it as discreetly as possible.
(It’s weird seeing how short my hashtags used to be. I feel like sometimes I don’t know what to write about and before you know it I’ve reached the Instagram maximum of 30 hashtags and 2,200 characters.)
We had planned for a home birth, so my midwife appointments were all at our flat. I had the same midwife the whole time, but she was giving her father a kidney so was due to go on sick leave. However due to Covid the operation got cancelled so she never took her sick leave. I hope her family is okay.
I actually didn’t even reference going into the first lockdown in my project. My first post after lockdown just talks more excitedly about seeing the baby (B) moving for the first time.
As there wasn’t much to do though we got quite into going for walks. We lived in Liverpool city centre and originally we were walking along the riverfront which was really nice, but just a bit too busy for our liking. I was scared. I didn’t know how Covid might affect B (as an unborn baby) and I was anxious enough during my pregnancy before the pandemic.
Lol. Did any of us think we would still be dealing with it now?
I felt like people weren’t taking instructions about social distancing seriously enough and I got stressed out. I would wait outside of the supermarket while Tiago went in, and get annoyed by people, especially as I realised how gross and unhygienic people were.
We had been walking after dark to try to avoid the masses of people also taking walks, but soon we just started to walk in the opposite direction during daylight through the industrial area instead.
(I’m just posting pictures where the titles refer to things to do with the pandemic as there would be too many images to talk about otherwise. You can see the whole series on my Instagram.)
Tiago used to work from home a bit before Covid, but then he was always at home. Luckily we get along well (that’s always good if you’re married to someone) and it was nice to see him more. While I grew a baby he grew facial hair, which was weird as he only rocked a beard when we were on holiday.
He appeared in the project more than I had initially planned due to being around more.
Soon my midwife appointments would be changed from every 3 weeks to every 4 weeks. This didn’t really matter but I guess it meant we didn’t have as many as we should have. At one point my midwife sent someone else in case she wasn’t available when I gave birth, but otherwise she was the only person who I saw on a regular-ish basis during lockdown #1 besides Tiago.
I was looking forward to my friends and family seeing me pregnant, I wanted to know what it was like to float in water while pregnant and … actually my wishlist wasn’t very long at all. I guess the main thing was to just really make the most of our time saying goodbye to our old lives of no responsibility, and hang out with our nearest and dearest.
It’s funny how you can take such simple things for granted.
We (my husband Tiago and I) moved to Liverpool in late 2018 and we had a small group of friends there, but a lot of our friends lived elsewhere. We had both lived in London for a number of years (me for 8ish and Tiago for 10ish), and Tiago was born in Portugal. We still haven’t seen any of Tiago’s family since December 2019 when Tiago’s brother invited everyone (their parents and us) for Christmas, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen them for a much longer time.
We had had all our compulsory scans before the lockdown, but I was meant to have 3 additional scans due to my BMI (if it’s under 20 you need more scans and mine was 19.9). These got cancelled, which was fine as I didn’t think it was necessary and didn’t fancy going into the hospital for them. It also meant that Tiago never missed an appointment due to restrictions, which was lucky.
We had tried to find out at previous scans, but B would not ‘present’ and I was not so secretly glad that this was the case. Due to our other scans being cancelled we did not have an opportunity to find out, so we waited until I gave birth to see that B was a girl. (I thought she was a boy at first as I could only see the umbilical cord.)
I was thinking the other day that I really don’t miss a lot of things. Maybe that’s because I’ve had a baby and things are more difficult. ‘Would it be worth the hassle of getting someone to look after B to go to a music gig?’ Not really.
I do daydream about going out to a private view or something though, but Tiago wouldn’t be bothered about joining me so he could look after B.
I really did not know what to expect when pregnant, but I knew it wasn’t this. My mental health has always been a bit over the place, and my art is therapeutic for me and the main way that I try to deal with things. I felt lucky to have something to count down to during this time and I was glad that I had already started a project to work on and vent into.
Sad, but small things. My daily highlight at the moment is getting out for a walk, but I do now really like this dark chocolate sea salt almond butter – I was just eating their plain stuff before which is still really good. (Yes that’s a lot of money for nut butter, but a kilo does last a long time. Some people spend money on alcohol – I like to buy nut butter.)
I do remember this quite clearly though. Asshole. Can I say that on my blog? It’s my blog, so yeah.
I had imagined that at some point there would be some kind of big goodbye to not being a parent. I didn’t want a baby shower, so I was relieved that I would not get one, but yes I thought I would celebrate with friends and just experience doing things for the last time child-free while realising it was the last time. Bizarre.
In February 2020 I had gone to Norway for my first solo show at Vasli Souza in Oslo, and Tiago had joined for a few days. I had imagined that we would go on another small trip before B was born, but nope. Norway is expensive and I felt bad for spending money on things, but if we had known what was to come then maybe we would have just stayed longer and done more.
At this point we are not sure when we will risk going to see Tiago’s family (it’s two flights, and it was already a lot of faff before we had a baby and Covid to think about).
The first photo was taken pre-lockdown #1, but it shows how things changed for both of us between February and May.
Oh, it’s been a ride. I definitely need to save it for another post as this is getting way too long.
And then as my due date got nearer I seemed to not worry so much about the world’s situation, as my main thoughts were about giving birth and becoming a mother. Covid was just something we learned to deal with. We went for our walks and Tiago did the food shopping. We both worked, and I spent my days off doing my own work.
(I now realise how much time I wasted and faffed. I wish I had been quicker and spent more time relaxing, but oh well.)
We figured we wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon, so we just tried to make our flat nicer as we planned to stay there for a while. (Spoiler alert: We moved to Birmingham at the end of October.)
Just laughing at this as I really thought I’d be a 42 weeker giving birth at home, but B came before 38 weeks and there was no home birth.
This is the last photo that I took for the project while pregnant.
Our new normal just became staying at home with a daily walk. I felt lucky to still be working, and that Tiago was still working, and that we hadn’t really been affected too much by Covid. I was just really unsure of how giving birth would be, but I just kept practicing my breathing that I’d learned through hypnobirthing (it was super useful in the end).
Ooh I love a nod to a project title with the last image in a series.
The hashtags are a very quick account of what happened. You can read B’s birth story here and about our hospital stay here.
I miss those early days of feeling high on life and feeling okay about everything. In the early days she could not do much and it was nice to just learn about parenting without the pressures of having to see people and feel judged. I’m glad that I did not know how long this would go on for though.
But overall with my pregnancy – Yes I wish I had seen more friends, yes I still haven’t seen most of those friends, but I do not really think I missed out that much. The main thing that upset me was being in hospital for 4 nights without Tiago being able to visit us. It was bizarre. I was in a parallel universe in a hospital (after not being in another building besides our flat for months), with a baby and without a husband (who I had not been away from for a night since February).
The big missing out for me though has been since B has been born and it has been super frustrating. Moving to Birmingham has meant that we’ve got to be closer to some of my family, but I just feel like we’ve been locked at home for months unable to do the things that people with babies are usually able to do. I’ve felt worse lately after some good weather – which meant some nice time sat outside and a change of scenery – soon went away, but hopefully with summer on its way and more things starting to reopen soon it can only get better. She’s still yet to meet a lot of people, we haven’t been to a baby class in real life since before Christmas (we have one this week, phew!) and I get super obsessed about her routine because I haven’t had much to mess it up for a long time.
I guess I should save this for the next post though, which I will try to do soon but this has taken me way longer than I expected.
One last note though: I’m really glad that I made this project as I remember being pregnant, but it doesn’t really feel like it happened to me and that I dreamed it or something? I find it weird looking at the photos that THAT happened to my body. It’s bizarre. I definitely never imagined that I’d be pregnant during a pandemic, but I was, and thanks to Tiago for helping me get through it.
It seems weird that it may have actually been an exact year. 16th March 2020 was a Monday and I’m pretty sure I was not feeling too great that day, so I said I’d next go into the office (where I did some part-time work) maybe a few days later but by the time I got home I found out that pregnant women were classed as high risk.
I thought about a time when I spent ages choosing somewhere to eat a sandwich before an improv class when I lived in London. In the end I chose an area that seemed quite quiet, and as I went to take a big bite I looked up and saw a male photographer taking a photo of me.
It then reminded me of a time in France when a guy was trying to get a picture of me applying suncream, and he was so close up that it was probably a bust shot. I kept turning around whenever he picked his camera up and I said no. He was getting annoyed with me, but I said no. Then he walked off and tried to take a picture of me from further away. Some things I missed from my memories post.
(11th April: I’ve also been thinking lately about the horrible male orthodontist that I had when I was a teenager. He used to accuse me of not wearing my retainer and would tighten it SUPER tight. For the record I always wore the darn thing (especially as I did not want him to tighten it so much), and now I’m older I think that he might have just been abusing his position of power to cause unnecessary pain. Maybe he didn’t and my teeth were (and still are) genuinely rubbish, but I do wonder about it.)
I was planning for this ‘entry’ to be Portrait Of A Mother Of A 9 Month Old, but then I realised Mother’s Day was coming up so I thought I would leave it until today. I haven’t done a shoot yet, but I fancy doing one with B so hopefully we’ll do one when she wakes up from her nap.
(6th April: Well I did the shoot and it involves one of my favourite themes of making myself not look very nice. I say that I’m not going to show B’s face, but this one shows her mouth and a bit of her nose. I was going to edit it, but it seemed a bit unnecessary.
I guess I do not want to show her whole face (well I posted a photo of B wearing her jaundice machine mask when I announced her birth anyways), and I particularly don’t want to show her eyes (which were covered in that photo). I feel like I should write more about this but I’m too tired. A topic for the future?)
It looks like Mother’s Day in Portugal is the first Sunday in May. Weird that Mother’s Day moves around but Father’s Day is the same date every year? I guess Portuguese Father’s Day might mean more to Tiago?
Bless him. He gets super stressed then keeps talking about it as the day approaches. It’s a commercial holiday that I am not really that bothered about, but I guess it just feels somewhat momentous as it is my first. I much prefer a hand-drawn card with a nice personal message to anything else, plus as it’s the weekend he has given me plenty of time to do my work which means more to me.
When we lived in Liverpool people on skateboards and roller blades/skates would constantly go past us. I used to love roller blading – I remember going round my neighbour’s garage to Gina G a lot – and going to roller discos. I was never good on hills though. Just nice flat terrain for me please. I’d be too embarrassed to go out on them by myself…
It’s a rollercoaster. Basically we can’t be lazy. We have some hydrocortisone cream that we apply twice a day when it’s bad, but her skin go to the point where we couldn’t even see where it needed to be applied. Now it is creeping back, so we need to keep an eye on it. We also use Dermol 500 which is super easy to apply and her skin seemed to get much better when we started to apply that every hour or two the other day. Then we have Zerobase which is a heavier ointment that we use before she goes to bed, and once or twice during the day.
(I hope this may be of use for someone, but I know different things work for different people. These are all things that B has been prescribed.)
I have a temporary part time job coming up and I’m excited to get out of the house more. Yesterday we bumped into a woman and her baby who we met the other week, so I am hoping soon we will know more people.
I worry that B will see this work when she is older and think I hated raising her. I don’t.
She changes so fast. I guess I did not really know how she would be at 9 months, but she seems to be doing more than I thought she would?
I never really stayed in bed until late, but I definitely wasn’t waking up between 6 and 7 every day. You just get used to it and adjust your bedtime I guess, but that is the biggest shock I think really. We could let her lie in, but then she’ll probably go to bed later and I like having free time in the evening. Plus now she is often awake before 7 (when we’d like to get up) so that wouldn’t work.
Maybe I talked about this before, I’m not sure. Before she was just having milk when she woke up and before she went to bed, but on my sister’s suggestion we now give her milk then. It makes me feel not so stressed about her maybe not eating so much lunch.
This song. I’ve sung it so many times that I’m getting better at hitting a lower note at the end of the chorus. I’m not sure why she likes it, but she claps. I kept making videos of her doing stuff, then I’d start to sing it and she’d look at me.
When we (Tiago and me, as B was not born yet) lived in London I used to do a lot of improv classes and courses, and I did a couple of clowning courses too. I started a stand-up comedy course but we moved to Liverpool before I finished it. It is something that I would like to revisit at some point.
I love to make anyone laugh, but the sound of babies laughing is one of the best in the world.
I love digging out a toy that she did not look at twice when she last saw it, but now she can really interact with it. I think I feel happier too as she can entertain herself a bit better now and is happy as long as you’re sat next to her. Tiago likes to lie on the floor while B crawls over him and chills next to him playing with her toys.
She’s young. She’s got time. One moment she will really get it and switch between clapping and waving, and then she’ll just clap. The YouTube baby classes that we do talk about clapping more than they do waving, so it’s fair enough.
I’ve said a lot in the past that I do not know what to say to B all day. I guess I have been overthinking it a lot. I can just keep it simple. ‘Say hi’ say hello etc.’ and then just talking about the colours of things and pointing things out to her etc.
This feels quite randomly slot into the bottom. I originally wanted to say more about it, but yesterday I ended up writing a blog post about it all instead. I feel a bit awkward about it, but I ended up spending a lot of my free time in the morning on it so I thought I should share it.