Monday, 22 December 2014

Baby Business: Week 38; Bump musings... nearly there

Finalist for New Business of the Year. Tick
VAT paid. Ouch
Used the expression ‘hubba hubba’ in a campaign! Tick
Birth plan finalised – draft seven. Tick

“Ohhh, what’s that. Oh nothing. Wait, ow is that....? No, just a false alarm... or is it... nope, nothing happening yet.” Hands up friends and family that are a getting a little fed up with the ‘is this it’ phone calls!

This really is a strange time. Baby is ready to make her debut into this world, but (as with all good females) she is going to do it in style and when it suits her... she’s her mother’s daughter after all! Every day is now spent with me pretending not to be over analysing every movement, twinge, ache and odd feeling, assuming that this is the day. The reality is that it could be another 4 weeks yet.

Life kind of goes on hold at this point. The sheer volume and scale of my body hinders anything more than a trip to the local shop for Snickers before the forced retreat to the sofa. My days are spent contorting my body to find that one comfortable position... the one that does not exist.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was dashing down to Tescos to buy that fourth pregnancy test. Seven months on and bump and I have already been through so much together. We have bonded beyond what I thought was humanly possible and have shared ups and downs, scares and thrills and gone through an emotional rollercoaster of hormones together (those close to me have especially loved those special ‘hormone’ times!).

I have fretted about the baby business balance whilst she has quite contentedly slept in her cosy cocoon growing and growing and growing. Business has grown alongside my bump and I have now come to terms with sharing myself between the original business baby and my new gorgeous baby girl who will be here any day.

I am ready.

Yup, all ready for baby. Everything’s set. No need to hang about...

Are you listening in there?

On the ‘to do’ list:
Clean cupboards... oh, is that nesting?
Stop playing with the cool dog-bot baby video monitor
Seriously need to stop bashing in to the child gates!
Make last set of amendments to my new website

Sunday, 21 December 2014

New challenges are great... I think!

So it turns out I do fall in to that category of 'people who see the dawn of a new year as a time to set new goals, reinvent a part of their life and aim to embrace more of each day'.

So why didn't I do all that this year, yesterday, last month, the other week, when I was 20 or 32 or...?

Who knows why I (and many many others of you) do this each year, but to not break with my own tradition I have set myself two new challenges for 2015. Both are creative ventures, to keep my mind as bright and colourful and questioning as possible (how can I write and illustrate confidently or capably if I don't?!).

The first I will be running through a new blog I am just setting up (more to follow 1st January 2015) and the second is a set of 12 new art assignments for me to complete (one a month).

All sounds quite straight-forward, I mean... I do actually have 48 hours in my day don't I? and I'm not trying to finish my third children's book before my 40th am I? and I haven't got to complete the research on my grown up book either do I?

Ummmmm, head back in the sand then!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Baby Business: Week 37, Bump, birth and head back in the sand

 Three new websites under development. Tick
Client’s new name finalised – on with the branding. Tick
Web review complete. Tick
Birth plan re-written for the fourth time. Tick

Can any mums out there tell me where you can buy that ‘magic’ cream that takes away all pain... you know the one, the one you get out anytime your child bumps themselves, falls over or bangs their head. Well I want some please for labour.

NCT and antenatal classes may be great for getting us mums-to-be ready for the birth and the weeks following little baby taking over our lives, but it also manages to put the sheer fear of god in to you too. I have followed a simple philosophy throughout my pregnancy - baby has to come out, so there is no point getting stressed and worked up about it. There are going to be a host of highly trained midwives and doctors who deliver umpteen babies a day and there’s an array of different pain relief options available. It will be fine.

Of course there have been plenty of people not shy in coming forward with their ‘birth stories’ (or horror stories) and scarily most of these people have been near-strangers, who end up chatting to me after they spot ‘bump’. It is lovely that people show an interest and seem to want to know about bump, but I really do not feel the need to know all the gory details of their own birth experiences.

There is a common theme though that runs through all the birth stories I have heard... “it is hard to describe as it is like nothing you can ever imagine”. Ummmmmm, haven’t I heard that before somewhere...

My NCT session this week covered all the different pain relief options available and it turns out they all have some negative sides to them, and some carry risks to the baby (even if very small). Now that’s a whole different ball game. Previously I have been thinking about how I will deal with being in labour and not really focusing on my little girl – surely nature takes it course and she wiggles her way out in to the big wide world (non-medically or graphically speaking!). But now I am finding out that the things that can help me and reduce stress and trauma to my body could actually cause her distress, however mild. That is not an option to me as those instincts to ‘protect at all costs’ are there before our little ones are even born. So what do I do then?

Simple. Back to my original philosophy – baby has to come out, so there’s no point in getting worked up about it beforehand. Besides, it’s going to be “like nothing I can ever imagine” so why bother trying!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Re-write birth plan again
Slow down and put my feet up more
Stop changing the outfit for my little girl to travel home in!
Prepare for judging of the four awards I have got clients’ shortlisted for

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Book two nears completion

And so I put down my pen after what I hope to be my final proof and mark up of book two. Now it will be over to my trusty (trusted?) team of proof readers and critics to be brutally honest... gulp!

Meanwhile, it's on with book three... no rest and all that!

Take Flight

I find the sky a continuous source of inspiration, creating conflicting ideas of insignificance or greatness, lightness or darkness, wonder or fear. But what happens when man impacts the sky, is it less beautiful than nature's impact?

The same day and two different images, man made and natures way, cut across the sky - both remarkable and both creating a sight to remember.

Can you say which is more beautiful or striking?

The flight of Geese

The flight of Man

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Birthday Cake

A snippet from a short story I am working on - the entire piece is fictional, though inspired by a brief meeting I once had with a young lady like Mary...

The Birthday Cake

This is not my story. It’s Mary’s story.

Mary was born with a number of complications that caused damage to her brain and impairing her mental and physical development, reducing her life expectancy. She died shortly before her 19th birthday.

I didn’t meet Mary until the year she died. I was at her 18th birthday party and she sat down next to me and started chatting. She’d never seen me before, I was there making a video of the event, yet she spoke to me like an old friend.

She spoke so innocently, thoughts almost popping into her head as she talked. But behind the simple child-like chatter was a sad complex life that, for the most part, Mary was unaware.

Why am I writing Mary’s story? Because she can’t and because I saw something so beautifully unaffected within her.

This is her conversation that day. This is Mary’s story.

"It’s over there, the gooey pink one covered in a hundred zillion little sparkles and there’s jam squidging out the middle. My birthday cake.

I know that you’ve probably had lots of cakes, but this isn’t just any cake. I know it doesn’t have pretty fairies or princesses on, but it didn’t come in a box or have a wrapper to take off. No, my cake, MY cake, is special and it will be the best, most tastiest cake I’ve ever eaten.

Do you know why? Because I made it. Me. All by myself. My first ever cake.

I followed a recipe: sieve-fulls of flour and sugar, dollops of butter, I cracked the eggs, broke up bits of chocolate, splashed pink stuff in and I put on a lot of sprinkles. I was even allowed to rub butter all over the cake tin and I turned the oven on by myself. I could see the gooey cake mixture get bigger in the oven and go browny colour. My cake, me a baker.

I can remember the first time I ate cake. I thought I wouldn’t be allowed any, I’d never been allowed before. It was different to my normal days because I’d been given a bath, someone brushed my hair and put pretty clips on each side, I had a new dress and I’d been given a dolly, my very own dolly. I liked her yellow shiny hair and I pretended my hair was gold too and it was really, really long down my back so I could sit on it with my bottom. That made me giggle.

There were lots of people, ladies who kept smiling at me and a man with a really big book that he kept looking at and reading out bits. I don’t know what the words were about, I don’t think it was a story for me. Then one lady, in a pretty blue skirt, brought out a cake.

I’d seen lots of cakes before, but I’d never had any. I thought maybe it would make me poorly, like the time I ate sausages I found behind the bin when I was hungry. But the cake didn’t make me poorly. 

It looked like a jam sandwich with snow on the top. I like snow. I like my footprints going crunch and leaving a shoe shape on the white floor. I like snow, though it once made me really cold and then I had to go to hospital. The nurse said I needed to wear a coat, but I told her I didn't have a coat. There were lots of noises and people I didn't know. I was scared in hospital.

But the lady with the pretty blue skirt didn’t scare me, she cut the cake with a great big knife and put the pieces onto little tissues with pink flowers on. Everyone got a bit and then she gave one to me. Yes, me. I remember the room went quiet, everyone had stopped talking and they were looking at me. I don’t know why, I was just sitting looking at my bit of cake on the pink flowery tissue. I know I can sometimes be a bit noisy, but this was my first ever bit of cake and I think I just got a little too excited. But that’s ok really, everyone loves cake and I think everyone gets excited about it too.

Everything was different after the cake day. I got a new mummy in a new house and I got my own bed in my very own bedroom. I’d never had that before, my own bed. It had soft squishy pillows and a snugly blanket with pink squares on. There was a little lamp next to my bed and the lamp had a picture of a cat and a dog on it. They looked very happy and that made me even happier. I liked it in this new house with my new mummy.

I don’t really know what happened to my old mummy. Sometimes I think about her and wonder why she didn’t want me to stay with her. But then I get sad and then I get cross and shout. Once I threw a toy car at my bedroom window and it broke the window. Then I was really scared and my new mummy had to get the man and lady from the house next door to help her hold me. They weren’t trying to hurt me, I know that. It’s just that sometimes I forget what I am doing and I get confused and frightened. I think I sometimes hurt people, but I don’t mean to, and sometimes I hurt myself.

Then Annie came to live with us. I liked Annie, she smelt of flowers and she would take me to the park or to the library. She had her own little bedroom right next to mine and she would help my new mummy with the cooking and if mummy was tired she would sit with me at night.

I find it hard to sleep, bad things happen when I close my eyes. I remember my old mummy screaming and she hurt my arm. It hurt so much that only the hospital could make it better. If I rub my arm I can feel a funny bump, I don’t remember if it has always been there.

Annie used to bring back books from the library and we would sit and look at them. Pictures of pretty fairies and princesses; puppies and kittens playing; boys and girls wearing wellies; and letters and numbers. I liked numbers, I could look at numbers all day and they made me feel happy. I could count the numbers really quickly and that made my new mummy smile. Annie said I was a clever girl.

Then one day, Annie wasn’t there any more. Her room was empty and my new mummy seemed sad. I don’t know where Annie went. We had been to the park and played eye spy, then a ball hit me and it made me shout and I got angry. I remember Annie put her arms round me, but I was really angry and Annie fell over and didn’t get up for a while. There was so much noise and so many people shouting and running over. I wanted Annie to get up. Two policeman came to help me and I knew I shouldn’t be scared. They took me to their car and drove me home. 

I haven't ever seen Annie again. I miss Annie."

Baby Business: Week 36, Bump, business and Braxton Hicks

Work on first designs for large hotel chain. Tick
Start ecommerce development for new client. Tick
Concepts for the ecast campaign. Tick
Stop going soppy every time I look at the moses basket! Still trying!

So much has been going on over the last 8 months as bump has grown and flourished and the excitement of ‘what’s to be’ has blossomed, that I have been able to just skirt over the concerns I may have about the upcoming baby business balance. Those carefree days of merrily sticking my head in the sand and living in a blissful state of denial are now gone. I am now less than four weeks away from d-day and have my eyes wide open about the upcoming changes... and there sure are going to be a whole heap of them!

Can these two very different worlds work in harmony – is there a balance?

I love my business and the work I do. I look forward to starting work each morning, chatting to clients and coming up with new and exciting concepts and campaigns. No day is the same and each day brings fresh challenges.

I love my bump and the changes I am going through. I look forward to meeting her, seeing what she will look like, chatting to her and learning how to be a mum. No day will be the same and each day will bring fresh challenges.

Ummmmmm... this is going to be tricky!

On a practical side I am fully prepared on the workfront for the upcoming time off and at home I am fully prepared for the new arrival. I have balanced the preparation of both so surely the reality of balancing work and baby will work equally as well... Alan Sugar never had these worries!

Do you know what? I am actually sitting here (laptop balanced on bump) not really worrying or stressing – I am actually far too excited about the upcoming weeks and months. As I chomp my way through my second Snickers of the day I realise that I have been balancing baby and business for a number of months already and that my mind has more than coped with focussing on both (I am a woman. I can multi-task!).

To be honest, right now I need to find a balance for the twinges and fake contractions (Braxton Hicks – technical term) that I am now encountering on a more and more regular basis. That is always an interesting moment when I am on the phone to a client and a fake contraction sets in and baby pushes that little bit further down on my bladder... you can see where this is going! Not such a good ‘baby business balance’ moment!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Stop balancing the laptop on bump ... probably not that safe!
Stop freaking out over labour stages discussed at NCT
Get measured ... you mums know what for!
Find out how all our business awards entries have done... fingers crossed