It’s been a year since I last blogged. I remember me, then. I was so green. Like so many first time parents before me, I was naive. A year “off” would give me time to paint the sideboard, do a bit of upcycling, blog during naps, maybe write a book. The reality has of course been unexpected, harder beyond measure, more joyful than ever imagined.
2016 has been my best and worst year.
The slow, unyielding end of pregnancy. I marvelled at my body but I felt as if every bit of me was being wrung out. Looking for signs the baby was on her way constantly. Ended up with a pretty clear sign – a gush of water in the middle of the night, like a movie. Except for the bit where the baby shows up 10 minutes later. 2 days for ours with the cord stuck around her ankle.
The most beautiful day – when River was born. The worst bit was when I projectile vomited reacting to the injection to get the placenta out. The best bit obviously when the baby came out alive. A rush of relief. Can’t remember the contractions but there’s only so much hypnobirthing can do…
Then, vulnerable. Both me and her. Paul too. No clue what to do, couldn’t figure out why she wanted to feed again and again and again. Keep going, just keep going. I’d have been lost without Paul and Sara. My champions and heroes while I was drowning, they propped me up. Them and sheer bloody mindedness. My girl feeding 40 times a day and so much bad advice. A baby tracking app that needs to die, don’t use one, new Mums, they make you bananas.
Constant commentary on why the baby is crying.
“She can’t be hungry” said over and over. Why not? I’m hungry pretty much 24/7 too.
“She’s just airing her lungs”. Victorian ideas also included whipping and a corset during pregnancy. Let’s leave those ideas back where they belong, pre-1901.
“She’s manipulating you”. Nope, doesn’t have the cerebral complexity.
“Oh you’re one of those hippy Mums who doesn’t want their baby to cry! harharhar” It’s good to cuddle crying people. Please hug me when I’m sad.
The sudden realisation that a boob nearly always sooths River and is a magical tool to be used day and night.
I’ve known monotony this year. Not leaving the house for a full week several times over. Scared to step out of the front door. Milk-stained slapdash fashion in the absence of doing washing. Accidentally flashing the postman. Feeling like I’ve lost who I am. Amish hair plaited and dreadlocked constantly. A permanently damaged nipple from the early days of feeding with a tongue tied baby. Anxiety that takes over my whole body. No more than two hours sleep in one go. Serious eye bags. The phrase ‘I can’t do this anymore’ said more times than I care to admit.
Then from somewhere, came strength. A fierce need to protect my girl who is every cliché- the best thing I’ve ever done, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, a new perspective blah blah blah. Through bleary eyes like so many parents before me, I’ve experienced joy that a baby brings. A wriggling, chirping, happy baby that I grew in my body, fed from my body, a lottery win miracle. So much bloody respect for single parents, parents of multiples and those, like my sister who keep popping them out like they’re born to do it. Heroes, all of them. (Especially my sis who did it again this year).
All-consuming love. Nothing like it.
What a year.
Gallery walls have always given me the fear. They look amazing on Pinterest but the reality of them in normal people’s homes can tend to be a bit naff. To make a gallery wall look really impressive, you need a ton of frames, frames are expensive so you cut back the number of frames and your gallery wall ends up looking sparse.
Then there’s the biggest problem – the layout and spacing. No matter how many “Gallery Wall Shortcut” pins out there that advise you to cut out the shape of your frame in paper before you hang the frames (major ballache) or suggestion that you don’t need nails (trust me, as someone who attempted this particular project with high-strength velcro before succumbing to nails, you seriously need nails), getting a good layout is all in good spacing and straight lines.
So, to avoid having a nervous breakdown when creating a Gallery Wall, you need only five things:
- Ikea Ribba photo frames
- Laser level
- Amazing photographs or artwork.
This combo uses:
14 x 10×15 Ribba Frames (£1.75 each)
5 x 18×25 Ribba Frames (£2.75 each)
3 x 21×30 Ribba Frames (£4 each)
Total frame cost £50.25
This configuration worked well for us, as we had around 1.5 metres across and 1.2 metres height to work with on the stair space where we wanted the frames to hang.
Start out by laying out your design on the floor, ideally in front of the wall you’re hoping to hang the frames on. This just needs to be a rough gauge of how the frames will be laid out. Measure height and width of the configuration and do the same with the wall space it’s going onto, to ensure you have a good match for the space.
Get your photos in the frames on the floor too. Switching photos around because your Auntie Bessie looks weird next to your Grandma on the wall is worth doing before you’ve put a nail in the wall. We chose a selection of our wedding photos in black and white to stick to a monochrome theme and because our brilliant wedding photographer shot so many gorgeous shots that we wanted to frame a load of them.
Take your first frame, this should be the one on the far left, top corner – you need a starting point. (We worked from the far right as I’m a lefty and this works better for me).This is the only one where you need a little bit of guesswork – approximate where the midpoint of the frame is and make a pencil mark on the wall. Switch on your laser level, line it up to the pencil mark and hammer your first nail into the wall. Hang the first photo and line it up with the laser level line.
To hang the rest of the top row, use the laser to create a fixed distance between the first and second photo, pencil mark your midpoint, bring the laser down to meet the first nail and hammer in your second nail – repeat across the full top row and hang all the photos up.
Move down to the second row and use the laser to create the same spacing between the top and second row as you had between each photo, this helps to create total symmetry. Start as on the first row, on the far left frame and work across, keeping the spacing symmetrical by moving the laser level across. Repeat the process across all of your rows.
I wouldn’t do this job without a laser level, it means you can measure spacing and ensure you have no wonky frames. Gallery walls are all about symmetry and whilst a manual level would do the job, the speediness of a laser means you have your evening free and no cross words with your husband. Unless you try to hang the frames with velcro first. In which case, prepare for a few smashed frames and swear words. Nails all the way.
2015 was our year. We got engaged on 16th January and got married just 16 weeks later. The wedding took over that short space of time and consumed us completely, we put all the energy we’d previously reserved for the house into that day and it was, like it is for everyone who gets to have one of those days, the best day ever.
We also decided to spend a ton of money on a three week trip to America for our honeymoon in September which was incredible.
Without the cash or time, it meant the house got neglected. So too did the blog. I had nothing to blog about.
So I did what everyone on Grand Designs does when they’re in the middle of the project. Got preggo. Ok, I exaggerate. We’re not in the middle of the project, we live in it, we don’t live in a caravan in the middle of winter in blind panic that the baby will be born with frostbite. But I am definitely pregnant. 30 whole weeks pregnant, close-to-the-finishing-line pregnant, OVER being pregnant tbh.
I’ve kept my pregnancy pretty quiet until now and have been writing a diary to help tackle void that I needed to fill in the absence of writing the blog. I’ve toyed with publishing it but think it will have to stay private for a few reasons – it’s beyond sweary, I am horrible about almost everyone I know in it and it is graphically detailed. I started writing it because I missed writing but also as an important reminder of how truly, truly horrible the first 15 weeks were and tbh, how the other 15 weeks have been marginally better, but distinctly lacking in “glow” (which is a made-up load of BS used to describe a sweating pregnant woman.) If you have a 14 year old girl, please invite me round so I can tell her to seriously think about unprotected sex unless she enjoys bacne, constant indigestion, a permanent compulsion to find the nearest loo, leg spasms or spending significant periods of time curled up on the cold floor of second floor toilets at work (ok, just me)…and those are the best bits.
In 2016 our baby is going to show up and yes, whilst it is likely to result in some of our beautiful minimalist white walls to be splattered with poo, I reckon it will have its upsides. I’ll be allowed to spray paint again for one.
So after all that waffle I guess what I’m trying to say is A Yorkshire Home is going to become A Yorkshire Home and Baby, where I’ll probably talk about some baby stuff alongside figuring out how to keep our beautiful home just that, despite the onslaught of toys and vomit.
I hope I won’t bore you to tears with baby gumpf.