A little life update

I’ve been sitting here debating what to write about for a while. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written myself as the #takingbackourkeys project took centre stage. I have a few things in the pipeline that I want to discuss, but I thought I’d start with a little bit of a life update so to speak.

Me and Kieran both had our Birthdays (we’re both May babies!), we ended up having an impromptu picnic dinner on the beach with prosecco for mine. Watching the sun set and opening prezzies, I don’t think it could have been any more perfect.

I tested all my one rep maxes in training, after a 6 week block of intensely hard work. And I am so so close to my pre pregnancy strength! Since giving birth, making time for training has been one of my top priorities. 3-4 times a week I have 1.5 hours to myself, blasting heavy music and lifting some heavy weights. Alongside an hour of mobility work every single day. Parenting is all consuming, but rain or shine I make time for that – and I’m not shy to say I am very very proud of it.

The date of it being exactly a year since we found out we were pregnant has come and gone – yet another thing kicking up lots of emotions. All the memories of the emotional pain we were in this time last year have been flooding back in slowly but surely. I think since having Arlo all those emotions melted away a little, but lots of things have been gently reminding me that they are still there – that period of my life still happened. And so I’ve been taking some space to process that.

Arlo has become very vocal in the last few weeks – giggling and making all the baby noises! I think his giggle is one of my favourite ever sounds – is there anything better than that ‘dirty old man’ baby giggle?

Kieran finished uni on Tuesday, and we are now working towards moving into our own house and both starting university in September. It feels as though the three of us can finally be together and start building our lives. Which I suppose has been rather emotional and may explain why my mind has felt so full lately. Kieran is my one constant throughout all the uncertainty, and now that he is home it’s kicked up a lot of emotions. I’ve never ever believed in the idea of ‘soul mates’ or ‘love at first sight’…but meeting Kieran may have changed my mind on that.

Well, it’s only now I write it down that I can put together why I’ve been feeling a little weird the last few weeks. All those things combined makes for a heavy emotional load. But I’m taking the time to create the space I need in my mind and as a family we are most definitely at a turning point of moving onward and upwards.

I’m working on some exciting new content…which will hopefully be of value to some people. So keep your eyes peeled.

Georgia X

365 days

Well, what a year it’s been. The idea that what was once causing lots of heartache and fear, has now created a wealth of happiness still blows my mind.

Sunday 27th of May 2018. 5:30am. Those two pink lines instantly appeared and we worked out that I was just over 4 weeks pregnant. From that day our lives were turned upside down. Arlo Tobias Woolf, creating a whirlwind since May 2018. 

I sat all of my A-level exams knowing my baby was there, but not knowing if I would ever get to meet them. But through all the uncertainty and throwing up, I still achieved my grades. Which – after moving schools, changing exam boards, self teaching one of the subjects AND THEN finding out about Arlo 2 weeks before all my hard work was going to pay off – I think is pretty bloody impressive.

At around 11 weeks pregnant, me and Kieran took a trip to Amsterdam. We spent a few days walking around canals, sleeping on a boat house and looking at (almost) naked ladies in windows. All with Arlo tagging along for the ride. It’s pretty surreal to think that he was there, becoming.

And when we got home, we decided to meet our baby. There it was, we were having a baby! Bet no one was expecting that when we announced it…

On the 7th of September 2018, we found out it was a boy! We were both so very happy about this, being one of two girls I really wanted to be a mum to a little boy. (As well as buying all the tractor and dinosaur prints….pink + frills aren’t really my thing)

I did powerlifting-style training until I was 36/37 weeks pregnant. Even managed to pull 100KG when I was 4 weeks pregnant…I didn’t know at that point though! I am still so happy I kept up my training throughout pregnancy, despite people telling me I shouldn’t. All my hard work definitely payed off during labour and recovery. Not to mention the fact that I made an 8Ib4Oz baby!

23:58pm on the 27th of January 2019, you were here. 24 hours of labour and hard work and I finally had him in my arms.

The next couple weeks we spent encased in a little bubble. Anything else going on in the world didn’t seem to matter. It was all feeds, nappy changes and getting to know our boy.

The number one question I get asked all the time is ‘wow, how did you find that name?’. In all honesty I’m not 100% sure how Arlo came about, we wanted something different but not too ‘out there’. Tobias is from the Divergent trilogy that I read a few years ago.

We have both kept up our training since returning to the gym at 5 weeks postpartum, and I am getting stronger by the day. Getting closer and closer to my pre-pregnancy weights and even considering competing again soon. We both walk the 2 miles to the gym with Arlo in tow, one trains while the other looks after Arlo and then we switch. If that’s not dedication I don’t know what is.

At 9 weeks old we took Arlo on a day trip to London…which was brilliantly hilarious, but I won’t get into the details of that (there is a separate blog post all about it)

The last 4 months have been filled with so much adventure and learning. Loving and growing. Becoming and healing. Arlo is the calmest, most content little baby I have ever met. He doesn’t fuss about anything, sleeps well, feeds well and is becoming ever more interested in the world around him.

Seeing him grow and learn is incredible, getting to be the person who nourishes that development is second to non. I have loved every second of being a mother and am beyond excited for all the trials and tribulations to come.

365 days since we found out. 365 days of overwhelming amounts of fear and love all at once. The 365 days in which I became the best version of myself yet.

Georgia X

Arlo’s 12 week update

Firstly, I am aware that this post is a little late….given that Arlo is now approaching 14 weeks. But hey ho…better late than never? And boy has a lot happened between 8 and 12 weeks.

Kieran has been on his Easter holidays for the majority of this time (although he has gone back to uni now) so we’ve managed to squeeze quite a lot into these 4 weeks! And given the extra pair of hands, I have lots of photos too!

Arlo had his vaccinations at 8 weeks…he was not at all phased at the time. However it did have some after affects for the week following…which Kieran was not best pleased about. I got a good laugh out of it non the less.

When Arlo was tiny, he really hated tummy time…I’m talking screams within 5 seconds of being on his tummy kind of hate. But as he has got older, with the help of our trusty belly roller from Aldi (thank you Kirstie!), he has started to enjoy it more. The coordination between his limbs is so much better and he can now hold his (rather heavy) head up for much longer.

Now that Arlo is a lot more alert, he always wants to be facing the world. Any opportunity to sit propped up or sit in someones lap facing outwards, he’ll take it. Along with that…if I’m sitting in a place particularly interesting and I try to cuddle him facing me…he tells me off. I suppose I’m just not as interesting as the man in the coffee shop steaming milk and pouring latte art?

This does however, have it’s up sides…at least when he’s sick it goes on his clothes instead of mine.

We took Arlo to Brighton for a few days to stay with my Dad. Tried him out in his new travel cot…which he did look rather small for, but he didn’t seem to mind one bit! In Brighton we also discovered his newfound fascination with patterns. In particular geometric bears…which makes a change from plain walls and ceilings.

As it’s been getting warmer, we’ve been taking Arlo outside a lot more – for walks in the baby carrier or to have a look at the sea. And I can most certainly tell you that Arlo dislikes wind with a passion. He pulls the funniest faces whenever the wind is blowing in his direction.

Along with the arrival of some slightly warmer and sunnier weather…we had to go and buy Arlo a sun hat. Which I have to say has a slight primary school nativity feel about it. You know…tea towels on the head? We’ve also been spending a lot more time in the garden with Arlo in his bouncer which, providing it’s not windy, he seems to like. (Especially if he has his favourite Auntie with him)

Arlo is growing so quickly, and becoming more of a little character by the day. But even though he is more interested in looking at whats going on and is beginning to have a lot to say for himself…he will always be my little boy who falls asleep on me and wants cuddles.

Georgia X

Managing expectations postpartum

This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. As with all aspects of life, the postpartum period holds so many different expectations. Expectations on how to parent your child, how your body should ‘bounce back’, how your relationship with your partner (if you have one) should be flourishing etc etc etc. As mothers, how should we managed these? How can we not fall into the traps of comparison? And as members of society, how can we support our pregnant + postpartum women better?

I am extremely into my fitness, and while I was pregnant I was able to maintain a fairly intense training program. Throughout my pregnancy I received the comment ‘oh but you’re fit and young, your body will bounce back’ more times than I could even count. The irony being that I didn’t keep up my training in an attempt to ensure I got my pre-baby body back postpartum, I kept it up because I love it.

There are so many things wrong with this comment, and it’s been bugging me because no one ever talks about why we shouldn’t be saying such things to pregnant (or postpartum) women. Without talking about these things, we can not expect to change them.

When someone said something like that to me, it didn’t fill me with optimism and confidence, in fact quite the opposite. It piled on the pressure for me to go back to looking how I did before I got pregnant as quickly as I could after giving birth. It made me feel as though my identity as a powerlifter relied on how I looked after giving birth. This filled me with anxiety during pregnancy, I felt like who I was was hanging in the balance, waiting to see how my body would look and perform 2,4,8 weeks postpartum.

Why are we doing this!?

Our bodies are fluid, constantly changing, adapting, improving. And when a woman grows, carries and births a baby her body unsurprisingly changes too. I haven’t ‘bounced back’, I haven’t lost all the weight I put on during pregnancy, I haven’t started exceeding the fitness levels I had before pregnancy. BUT, I most certainly haven’t lost my body, instead I’ve transitioned into a new one.

So how about instead of denying women the right to embrace the changes we experience during pregnancy and birth by enforcing this ludicrous idea of ‘bouncing back’, we support them to see life (and our bodies!) as an ever evolving journey? Stop placing such unobtainable expectations on our women, and let them experience the changes; the softness of motherhood, the vulnerability of those early postpartum weeks, the intricate and unique nature of the transformation our bodies and minds undertake.

In addition, if one more person comments on how I look like I’ve ‘shifted all the baby weight’, or ‘gone back to how I used to look’ I might just explode. Have you seen me naked recently? I didn’t think so…so how the hell would you know the ins and outs of how my body has changed?. Yes I am training incredibly hard in the gym, day in day out, but that is purely because it is what lights my fire. I don’t want my ‘old’ body back, I want all things that represent my journey to stay – stop telling our women they should think otherwise!

As a society we have dug our women such a big hole that it’s so hard not to fall into it. I suspect many postpartum women find themselves comparing themselves to pictures of other women at the same stage as them (I know I have been guilty of this). ‘oh but she hasn’t got any stretch marks anymore’, ‘she got her abs back 10 days after giving birth’….I could go on. Almost like it’s one big competition. We must start supporting women in their own postpartum periods by applauding and validating them as individuals, as every woman will have a wildly different experience.

As for expectations on how to parent your child…well they can take a running jump. Motherhood seems to have become this huge commercial, opinionated, debatable subject. Erm…why? It’s the most instinctive, natural process there is. YOU know how to parent YOUR child. Mamma, stop second guessing yourself. When I was pregnant, I made the conscious effort not to read a single book about parenting and still vow never to do so. Society is teaching our women to suppress their instinct, and replace it with advertised products or methods etc….oh look it comes back to the big commercial giants making money. We need to be giving our women confidence in their choices. Want to bottle feed? Great. Want to go back to work 4 weeks after birth? Great. Want to be a stay at home mum until they leave school? Fab. Want to co sleep? Fantastic.

Please, lets stop comparing ourselves. Lets start supporting the beautiful, chaotic journey that pregnancy and motherhood is. We must stop forcing expectations on our women and start giving them the tools to embrace their own unique experiences.

I hope this isn’t just a ramble and actually gets my point across. I am so passionate about changing how we are valuing our women and helping them through what is possibly one of the most vulnerable stages of life.

Georgia X

Self care + parenting

As an individual, I have always been introverted. This means I need time alone to recharge and thrive in all other areas of life. In short, I very much enjoy my own company. (Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting with my friends and going on family holidays etc – I just have to have time to myself to balance it out)

Having time to myself in the Lake District when me and my Dad walked the 192 mile Coast to Coast path

This was something I was worried I would have to sacrifice when becoming a mother, as I had been told that babies need your attention 24/7 and so getting to take a 5 minuet shower would be a luxury. I have definitely had to change how and when I get time to myself, but I have been lucky enough not to have the kind of experience I just mentioned.

Me and Orla in Greece

Before giving birth, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to let the things that make me me disappear and become just ‘Arlo’s mum’ – which I know is something lots of stay at home mothers struggle with in terms of their identity. I am a partner to Kieran, a powerlifter, a self-proclaimed science nerd, a long distance walking lover, a woman with big ambitions for her future (the list could go on, but you get the idea) AND a mother. So I still find time to train 3-4 times a week, study, go for walks along the beach etc – and to me that is invaluable.

The hour or so that I get in the gym to blast music through my headphones, get really sweaty and move some weight around allows me to have time to switch off from all the responsibilities of being a mother and just be ‘Georgia’. I truly believe that life is about making time for the things that are important to you, everyone told me I wouldn’t have time to train anymore while I was pregnant, but I knew it was something I was not going to give up. Not only does it make me happy, it gives me the headspace to be a better mother.

Mine and Kieran’s trip to Amsterdam

Another thing that me and Kieran had discussed was that we didn’t want our relationship to get lost in the mist of parenting. Just as much as we have become a family of three, we are still a couple separate from that. We have always loved going for long walks where we can talk and focus on nothing but each other, something that became even more of a habit while I was pregnant. This is something we still make time for now, just one of us is pushing a pram. Parenting is about adapting – you can still do all the things you did before, you just might have to change how you go about it.

Me and Kieran take an extremely relaxed approach to parenting – no routines, no expectations and an acceptance that things can change at any second (be it Arlo suddenly stops sleeping, or we have a sick explosion just before we leave the house). This allows us to not only have far less stress, but to find time to be individuals and live lives that are separate from each other as well as together. I would like to note here, I am extremely lucky to be part of a relationship where we will each take Arlo to let the other go and have a long bath or get an extra gym session when we need it. In my opinion, continuing to feel like individuals as well as a couple is paramount to having a happy family.

Self care looks different for everyone, and for me it is most definitely not painting my nails and doing a face mask (more like breaking my nails lifting barbells and having an O’natural face mask of sweat). But if that’s your thing then keep doing you.

Georgia X

Arlo’s 8 week update

Boy where do I start…so much has happened in the last 8 weeks. Never before has time seemingly gone so slow and so fast at the same time. Arlo has slotted into our life so seamlessly that even I find it hard to believe, we’re still training, keeping up our coffee addiction by going to all the coffee shops, going out on long walks along the beach and finding time to have time to ourselves (I do like a long bubble bath with a book every so often)

Staying in Brighton

At around 4 weeks old, we took Arlo on a trip to Brighton to stay with my Dad for the week. (Brave of us i know). The amount of stuff we had to take with us was ridiculous…filled an entire car mostly with baby related items. We took our first trip on the bus with a pram – which is more of a faf then you would think. But we had a very successful trip around the city, took walks along the beach and visited a town called lewes.

We’re growing as a family more and more everyday as Arlo shows us more of his cheeky personality. He has grown so much since he first arrived, he’s a lot more squishy and chunky now. We’re having to upgrade his wardrobe to bigger clothes so often! He can pretty much hold his head up and is getting stronger by the day! (his little legs are a force to be reckoned with)

When he first arrived all he wanted was to be cuddled against someones chest, but now that he is so much more alert he always wants to sit facing the world. He will quite happily sit up next to you while you do something else and just take in the world (very handy when I have little jobs to do on my laptop etc!)

He sleeps like a complete dream (me and Kieran are both on standby for that to change at any moment). We only get up for a feed once in the night now, and Arlo will sleep in until 7-8am in the mornings (providing he’s not woken up by Kieran getting up for uni at 5am). We have had quite a few amusing moments of one of us getting up in a sleepy haze to feed him and doing something strange – such as Kieran trying to give me a pillow instead of a baby!

Arlo and our dog Archie (who is a very big fluffy labradoodle) are best friends. Archie will always sit like a guard dog next to Arlo, and constantly wants to check on him. He has even tried to give Arlo his toy to play with him a couple of times. I can imagine they will be the cutest pair when Arlo is a little older.

Arlo began smiling at around 5 weeks, and now we get giggles and smirks all day! Most the time it’s involuntary, but occasionally it will be in response to one of us which absolutely melts my heart.

The three of us are the happiest little family and I can not wait for all the things the future will bring.

Georgia X