Thursday 27 February 2014

London with a little one

A fellow Kennington mum writes the wonderful London With A Toddler blog ( ).  There's no way I can compete with the wealth of information and reviews on her site, but I thought I might jot down here a few aspects of London which the boy and I enjoy.

I always imagined I'd be back in Scotland by the time I had kids.  I never thought London would be an appropriate place to raise a child - this was the city of my twenties, of happy hours, sushi, expensive beer, dodgy Thai food and battling with the Tube.  How on earth could a small child fit into such a place?

Turns out, quite easily.

Turns out, there are even some advantages of raising a child in London:

1) You are never alone.  You are surrounded by other mums and dads and buggies and little people.  There are playgroups, children's centres, crèches, one o'clock clubs, at every turn.  This is a Good Thing.  There is strength in numbers.  Alone, you are two vulnerable parents, battling against a vastly superior and powerful being (your toddler).  Together, you can organise play dates, arrange meet-ups in the park and generally console yourself that other parents have it just as bad, if not worse, than you.

2) Free stuff.  QUALITY free stuff.  Living in London, you can immediately access a treasure trove of galleries, museums and cultural spaces.  On the South Bank, the Royal Festival Hall is a large indoor space for kids to run around in, with frequent free music and entertainment in the ballroom area.  During the summer, the South Bank hosts numerous events - a pop-up beach being one of them.  The "Garden" room in the basement of the Science Museum is a revelation.  Filled with cool stuff for kids: the most elaborate water play area I have ever seen; walls covered with coiled springs, welly boots, rubber spaghetti; drums and echo chambers... You get the idea.  The National Gallery runs a busy programme of events for 0-5 year olds, including a magical "walk and play" though a landscape picture (you have to have been there).  The boy and I have barely scratched the surface of these sort of cultural activities.  We can't wait for our local Imperial War Museum to reopen this summer!

3) The parks.  In a small town, you are lucky to have one decent children's play area.  In London, you can take your pick - small ones tucked away in housing estates, all the way up to the full-on zip wire extravaganza laid on in Battersea Park.  You are never more than fifteen minutes away from the nearest Accident and Emergency.

4) Child-friendly restaurants.  Ok, we are not quite as baby-centric as Italy, but at least in London you can take your child out after dark without too many dirty looks.  We scrimp on the babysitting costs and take the boy with us, whether that's a trendy pop-up experience (4 months' old, slept in car seat under the table), a packed Franco Mancas pizzeria in Brixton Market (one buggy-friendly table if you get in there quick), a Friday night out in the City, a long boozy evening at a bring-your-own-bottle place...  It's surprising which establishments are perfectly happy to accommodate children, you just have to ask - and be considerate of other diners.

5) Transport.  Ok, the Tube is a nightmare to navigate with a buggy (I can only imagine how difficult it is for wheelchair users!), but there are lots of other viable options. A major bonus (especially for nights out) is that black cabs can carry children in pushchairs.  Buses tend to have space for at least 2 buggies (more if you can be bothered to fold yours up), and the growing overground network is also buggy-friendly.

Have fun out there!

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Wednesday 26 February 2014

A letter to my midwife

Dear Carrie,

I'm fairly sure your name is Carrie.  I have no idea of your surname, or whether you are still working at the same hospital 16 months later, but you are young and tall and blonde and there can't be too many ladies like you in midwifery.  So I hope I can track you down (in a non-threatening or stalkerish way!) and give you this letter one day.

You were on duty in the "Home from Home" midwife-led unit one clear November evening back in 2012.  We came in around 7pm, desperate to be admitted after a number of false starts and recommendations to "walk around the block a few times and come back when the contractions are more rapid".  I think you could see the look of desperation on our weary faces when you agreed we could be finally admitted.  I was so relieved to be In Labour, I had been variously convinced I was ready to give birth for the last 6 weeks.  This was it.

You might remember I started off at about 3cm dilated that evening.  This was after a long 40 hours of steady but unimpresssive contractions at home. 3 cm for two nights of no sleep! Hardly seemed fair, but we knew this could often be the way with first labours and you reassured me that things were going to happen.  You encouraged me to move around, bounce on my ball, listen to my iPod long after my husband had fallen asleep on the easy chair.  I tried to go easy on the gas & air, but those contractions were painful.  I had no idea at that stage that I was in dreaded "back to back" labour.   I didn't know what labour was supposed to feel like, I assumed it was normal to feel searing pain down my back - and nothing at all in my tummy or pelvis.  I didn't say anything, I was determined to be like those brave women you see occasionally on TV who breathe their babies out with the minimal of fuss.

I think at some point that night, or early in the morning, I lose track of time, you went off shift to be replaced by a well-meaning but ultimately inexperienced midwife and a student.  They were chatty and confident and again this gave me hope that all was well and we were about to have a normal birth.

I think you were as surprised as we were to discover we had not progressed beyond 9cm by the time you came back on shift and took over again, late on Saturday night.  We were pleased to see you - we had by then been transferred to the much scarier doctor-led birth centre and it was hugely calming to see a familiar and friendly face.  By this point, we had been given a failed course of Sintocinon (the cannula had fruitlessly tissued into my arm, unnoticed by any of the many many medical staff who were popping in and out).  All the while, my baby's precious waters had now been broken for well over the recommended maximum of 24 hours.  Luckily the midwives were not the only ones to undergo a shift change.  The first doctor in charge of us was apparently very "anti c-section", and was working towards a vaginal delivery - despite baby's presentation, the prolonged rupture of membranes, the failure of my cervix to progress (it had gotten to 9cm but frustratingly was back to 4-5cm due to swelling) and my overwhelming exhaustion (I had refused an epidural despite many recommendations to have one).  With the shift change came a fresh approach, the new (female) doctor came into the room, took one look at me and whisked out the c-section consent form. We couldn't sign that thing fast enough.

We were relieved, and I think you were too.  A C-section would mean this would all be over and we could finally meet our little boy.  You were, as always, calm and reassuring.  You explained how such a procedure was very routine.  I'm not sure how the subject arose, but you explained how it would be the doctors doing the section, with you on hand to catch the baby.  You laughed and said you'd never yet had to assist "from below".

A short while later, there we all were - an eerily hushed operating theatre, filled with doctors, a sense of desperation building.  Just let him be ok.  Just let him live.  I'm not needed anymore, just don't take our baby, his daddy needs him.  A bright, white light.  Should I head towards it, or away? I wasn't sure.  I wasn't sure of anything, until I heard him cry and saw you hold him up to me.  Alive!

I learn later (though I guess it was obvious given the eternity of time the operation took), that the section was obstructed,  the baby in entirely the wrong position and stuck in my pelvis.  I learned that you did indeed have to assist from below in order for the doctors to pull and lever him out.  I learned that my uterus was very close to a catastrophic rupture, and the doctors were desperately trying to stop me bleeding out on the table.  Apparently they counted and weighed every swab, every pad... I had lost 3.5 litres, significantly more than half my blood supply.

You were there throughout, calm and professional.  You weighed the baby, cleaned him up - and held him while daddy was holding my hand.  You stayed with me all night on the High Dependency Unit afterwards, and even managed to get baby onto my chest for some precious skin-to-skin, and an attempt at breast feeding.   I remember saying to you on the ward that night, and saying something like "I guess this is the night shift from hell for you", and you agreed.  I think that was one of the last lucid thoughts I had, before I slipped into psychosis.

Carrie, your hard work, dedication and care has stayed with me throughout my long illness.  I hope someday to thank you in person, but for now please just know how much I appreciate the amazing job you and all your colleagues do.

Best wishes,

Tuesday 25 February 2014

When words matter

So yesterday evening I had my first (very mild, very brief)
Twitter spat.

I commented on another user's comment that Ben Goldacre should not have used the word "mad" to describe a radio recording, claiming it would only serve to increase "prejudice".  Hmm.  I'm not a linguist or anything, but I just reckoned that this word has lots of common uses other than referring to the mentally ill.  Given that Mr Goldacre is a respected journalist, an exposer of scientific bias and general skulduggery, I assumed he would not have meant to offend.  After all, I can be "mad" at my husband for not taking the bins out.  The girl can be "mad" about the boy.  Similarly, someone can be "insanely" jealous.  Or "crazy" in love.

My point is - for the mental health community (whatever that is!) to be a credible force I don't think we should take ourselves too seriously.  And I don't think we should suddenly exert sole ownership rights over commonly used words.  Instead, let's get angry about the really offensive language out there:
"OMG you are being such a mental patient!!"
"Is someone feeling a little bit postnatal today?"
"You look like a psychopath in that outfit"
"This weather is being sooooo bipolar".

Using actual diagnoses and situations in this way, well that I do find offensive.  It happens too often, and usually the person it offends is forced to keep quiet about it, lest they are "outed".  The more we tolerate this sloppy and insulting use of language, the more it persists.

We stopped using the word "spastic" as an insult a long time ago.  Now let's send "schizo", "psycho", "bipolar" and the rest the same way.

An out and proud mental patient.

Monday 24 February 2014

The "social" bit

It's clear to my husband, and indeed anyone who knows me, that I am looking for a new challenge.  While I love looking after my son, tagging along as he explores the world, I need to get my brain cranked up.  This is not an unusual feeling for a SAHM, fifteen months into the job, having seen all her other mummy friends gradually transition back into work.   

I've made a few positive moves in that direction over the last few weeks - starting this blog, for a start.  But my main brain-ache is the cafe project.  A project I can really get my teeth into - and which I will hopefully be proud of.

So my cafe business plan is of the social enterprise variety.  I've thought about this a lot over the last few months, and I want it to benefit people living with and recovering from mental illness.  I've been about as mentally unwell as it is possible to be - strapped to a gurney, locked in a ward, out of my mind and out of control.  But I recovered.  I'd like to show the doubters that recovery is possible, and also help others gain employment and find a place to hang out where they feel at home.

But first steps first.  I can't risk my current good health (not to mention my family's stress levels) by rushing headlong into a business lease, huge bank loan and enormous overdraft.  The undiagnosed (manic) me wouldn't have hesitated, would have taken big risks and listened to no one.   But the new me is going to take things a little slower.  The cafe and community space will still exist - but first as a "pop up" concept, rather than a fixed premises.  As my husband pointed out, another benefit of this approach is the chance to pursue the social mission immediately, without the worry of first meeting large overheads.  How can I devote anything to the social aims, if my main worry is to cover my costs? I may not be able to provide full time employment to anyone at this stage, but I will be able to put on events specifically for people with mental health conditions.  I will still be working towards opening a permanent venue, with staff, but if I can make the pop-up a success then I will be in a much stronger position - both to alleviate my family's genuine concerns, and to face potential investors.

[An aside on "pop ups": they have become achingly trendy recently, and in Central London you can't move for pop-up boutiques, pop-up restaurants, pop-up galleries... But I have come to the conclusion that in the cafe context it is just a trendy term for what our mums would call a "coffee morning".  I'm fine with that.]

What might this look like in reality?
- A brand
- An online presence to promote the brand and details of events: email account, Twitter, Facebook page, website
- Regular (monthly, fortnightly or weekly) coffee and cake events
- Regular support groups (to start with, my new PANDAS group for perinatal mental health conditions)
- Guest speakers and workshops.

Now, it just so happens (what were the chances?!?) that a very similar concept has recently begun - just up the road.  I've been in touch with The Dragon Cafe (, and hope to meet with them very soon.  I am really open to the idea of collaborating wherever possible, branching it out into a new area.  I don't want to reinvent the wheel, or encroach on an existing enterprise.  We are all part of the mental health community, and together we can do good things.

Sunday 23 February 2014

The Top Gear Guide To Prams

The paint job, the trim, the seat fabric, the alloys... Choosing a pram is a minefield.  How can something designed simply to transport a 5kg baby from A to B, wind up costing considerably more than my first car?

With that in mind, here's a handy cut out and keep guide to prams, and their car equivalents.

First up - 

The Silver Cross Balmoral:

This is the veritable Rolls Royce of the pram world.  

Just as the Roller is driven mainly by the hired chauffeur, the beautiful silvercross is mainly pushed by the nanny or perhaps a trustworthy au pair.  It's completely impractical, difficult to park and a tank to steer - but it does make a statement.  Just don't go for the glossy white version, it will only end up getting keyed down at the soft play centre.

(Slightly) down a price bracket is your top of the range iCandys and Bugaboos.  These competing brands are the Mercedes and BMWs of the pram world. People tend to stay faithful to one or the other.  The top of the range 4x4 versions are the Peach (iCandy) and the Chameleon (Bugaboo):
Both drive well, look good, and have been much imitated but never bettered.  They cost an obscene amount of money - but you can't compromise on baby's safety, can you...? Can you...?!?

Their city run-around models are the iCandy Cherry (soon to be made obsolete by the new Raspberry), and the ever-popular Bugaboo Bee:

Lightweight but well made, with clever features and regular "special edition" releases that tempt you into thinking they are worth every penny.

The cool scandi interloper in the pram world is the Stokke xPlory:

This is perhaps the Toyota Prius of prams.  Big and roomy enough but not (no, definitely not) a Chelsea tractor.  Design-led, ergonomic, comfortable - slightly "out there" and less ubiquitous for those parents looking to retain some credibility, but just as expensive as the more common makes.

And that brings us to the McClaren:
A stalwart of the pram scene, you were probably pushed around in one yourself when you were little.  It is the Volkswagen Golf - trusty, reliable, not flashy but surprisingly expensive for a fold-up buggy.  It will last for years and earn its stripes.

Newer to the market is the CityMini Jogger:

Like the Mclaren it is in the so-called "economy" bracket. And it is also a one-fold design, albeit a slightly niftier one.  Complete with a fur-lined seat it has comfort in mind but also off-road credentials.  The Honda CRV perhaps?

Uppababy - Scandinavian, well-designed = Volvo.

Phil & Teds - Antipodean, playful, outdoorsy = Jeep.

OBaby - no frills, genuine economy, does the job = Vauxhall.

Any other obvious buggy-car comparisons???

Saturday 22 February 2014

Me against the beef shin macaroni...

 All A few years ago the husband and I came across this recipe in the Metro.  We were determined to cook it one day, and this weekend the opportunity arose.  I was in most of the week to plan ahead, our dinner guests were the hungry sort, the weather looked like being cold and wintry - perfect conditions for a beefy, hearty one-pot feast.

First step was to order the beef shin, on the bone, from our favourite local butchers - Ginger Pig in Greensmiths on Lower Marsh.  The recipe called for 1kg meat to feed 4-6. Hmm.  We were going to be 6, with lots of wine to get through.  Let's go for 3kg.

I picked up the beef (heavy!) on the Thursday, ready to get marinating first thing on Friday.  We put it in a large stock pot with the best part of two bottles of red wine (Jamie Oliver stuff on special at Tescos), button mushrooms, small onions, chantenay carrots, rosemary and thyme, peppercorns, 2 star anise and a teaspoon of fennel seeds.  Fairly simple so far, but already it was looking promising:

We left it in our lean-to until Saturday morning, when we cracked on with the cooking.  The meat got a thorough pat dry, then was well browned off in the Le Crueset.  While the meat was browning, we reduced the wine by about a half, and added home-made beef and chicken stock (Gingerr Pig were happy to oblige me with some extra bones to make the beef stock).  The meat then came out of the pot, while we fried off the marinated vegetables and some lardons.  It all got added together to go onto the oven for several hours - enough time for us to drive down to Battersea Park, have lunch, feed the ducks, then browse for sofas.  I think it got perhaps 7 hours at around 125 degrees. 



Later on, we picked the meat from the (huge!) bone, and skimmed off some of the fat and gristle.  The meat was incredibly tender by this point, and our house was filled with a beefy, marrow-y, aroma.  All that was left to do was to cook some good quality pasta, and add this to the pot along with some Parmesan.  It then went into the oven for a final bake:

We served it with just some buttered sprout tops on the side:

All washed down with a generous amount of fine wine (should add that this dinner was one of a regular get-together with our friends who also like to try decent wine, guess each other's wine, and generally chat about all things wine-related):

Yup, really need to get to bed now! 

Friday 21 February 2014

Location, location, location..

I grew up with Kirsty and Phil - we all learned that in the world of property, location is king.  But does this go for commercial property, as much as residential?

My cafe business plan is shaping up. I have the social enterprise aspects worked out (more on this another time), I know what my USP will be and what we will offer.  But the numbers at the end - daily takings, overheads - surely these depend almost entirely on where the cafe is located.

I know I want it to be in Kennington (London SE11).  For my plan to work, the cafe needs to be close to home. But I also see a real need here for a family friendly place.  There are lots and lots of young families in the area - the boy and I have met most of them at our various play groups and children's centres.  There are also lots of families with buggies passing through Kennington on their way to Waterloo and the South Bank. 

Another reason I love the idea of opening in Kennington, is it seems to be supportive of small independents.  From the likes of Lower Marsh (Greensmiths, I Knit London, Four Corners cafe..) to the range of shop fronts on Windmill Row. Yes there are a ridiculous number of estate agents, but we can skip past them and at least it reduces (slightly) the space available to betting shops.

So I have seen a couple of shop fronts come up for let, and go under offer, since first thinking of this cafe idea.  Commercial property does seem to spring up fast and I guess I need to get myself on the ball.  Considerations for my business include:
- footfall of street
- floor space of premises (I'd like 1000sqft or more - ideally being able to partition off a seperate space for events/groups)
- lay out of floor space (ideally no stairs, and with lots of natural light)
- services and fittings included (is there a kitchen? Adequate toilets? Etc)
- class of use (ideally A3, or potential to change use)
- affordability! This means both annual rent AND any premium involved (the idea of a premium is new to me, but established cafe premises seem to ask for one as a matter of course - often six figures, it turns out!)

So this morning I plucked up the courage to pop in and make enquiries at a little restaurant just around the corner from our house.  I have literally never seen anyone eat in there - so surely the owner might be approachable? Sadly he wasn't in, but I did leave a note.  I like this place for several reasons - it's all on one level, it's close by, it's on the main road but not in any of the fashionable strips so should be affordable. (In the photo below it is the restaurant in the background)

Other options are not so attractive - a larger established restaurant up the road which comes with a whopping premium; the possibility of converting a derelict former council parking office (hmm.. Great vibe!); a good sized closed restaurant, which sadly is underground and not at all buggy-friendly.

Fingers crossed the right place comes up soon!

Thursday 20 February 2014

A trip down Psychosis Memory Lane

Today the boy and I drove just 10 miles south, but it was some journey. 

We went back to our Mother and Baby Unit to take part in a follow-up research study.  We had been discharged over a year earlier - and life now just couldn't be any different to life then, and my psychotic self.

The emotions and memories were stirred even on the drive down.  As the strangely-familiar place signs rolled past -Crystal Palace, Elmers End, West Wickham - my heart began to race.  This was the same journey my little family had made shortly after the boy's birth - baby screaming with hunger, daddy beyond worried he was committing his wife to a life of psychiatric institutions, me sleep-deprived and slowly losing my mind.  Now here we were - baby content and fast asleep, daddy happy to leave us to it, me driving - confident, happy, sane and in control.

I'm not sure exactly what I hoped to get out of the afternoon.  Sure, I am always keen to take part in research, particularly anything to do with postpartum psychosis, but there was more to it than that.  I was looking for a happy ending, catharsis.

We spent an interesting few hours with the child psychology team doing the actual research (videoing the boy and I playing, then exploring his attachment to me with a variety of situations. Judging by his hysterics when I had to leave the room, I think we passed the bonding test!).  More importantly, for me who had no idea who might be on duty, we also saw a number of staff members from my time on the unit.  I saw the lovely young nurse who helped me take my first proper shower on the unit (passing me my towel from behind the shower wall as there were no hooks or rails in sight!).  She really understood how weird a place the unit could be, and always had time for a chat or a hug.  I saw the kindly nurse who made me feel a little bit human again by showing me photos of her beautiful granddaughter.  I saw several of the nursery nurses who had been there for the boy right from the start, while mummy was battling her psychosis.  They had fed him, changed him, lulled him to sleep, played with him, took him to the doctors.  I saw the same contract cleaner who mopped the nursery floor every day, who recognised me and had always been so friendly.

I didn't cry, but I think I could have done.  Everyone was so pleased to see us both looking so well and happy.  I probably looked a tad different to back then.  My hair was washed, blow-dried and straightened for a start!  I was wearing proper clothes. And shoes!  They seemed genuinely proud when I told them I was keen to help break down the stigma of mental illness, and was getting involved with a couple of charities.  I left with a promise to keep in touch, and send regular photos of the boy as he grows up further.

A good day, for both of us.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

About me

I'm a thirty-something Stay at Home Mum to my amazing son (born 2012) and married (since 2011) to my best friend in the world. Lucky, eh!

I moved from rural Scotland to the big smoke (London) about 12 years ago.  I worry about losing my accent, but I'm assured it's still there!  While in London I have been a trainee economist for the UK's central bank, an actual economist for city government, and a management consultant for one of the "Big 4".  I never got on well with the stresses of city work, and battled severe bouts of depression and anxiety throughout my twenties.  Eventually I took some time off from my stressful job and sought proper help (sadly my GP at the time was fairly useless, but I was prescribed a short course of CBT which did teach me a few coping mechanisms).  "Coming out" about my mental health at work was a Big Deal, after a decade of hiding it away and trying to muddle through.

A big change happened shortly after my phased return to work.  A bad meeting prompted me to clear out my desk and quit.  Not the smartest of moves, but one that has worked out so well.  Since then I have volunteered for Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, and worked in my friend's beautiful bakery (I have never scooped so many cupcakes in my life!).   I've also gotten married and we had our first child.  Whew.

Shortly after his birth, I had my second (much more terrifying and life-altering) brush with mental ill health - a serious but thankfully rare complication called postpartum psychosis.  Recovering from this has made me want to do even more to help remove mental health stigma, and raise awareness of mental health issues in general.  It's why I now want to open a cafe with the specific purpose of helping people living with and recovering from mental illness.  Plus my part of town is desperately short of buggy and child friendly hang-outs!

This blog hopefully will document my attempts at becoming a "social entrepreneur".  Sometimes succeeding, often failing.

Watch this space.

In praise of the Cling-on Phase

After coming out of the Mother & Baby Unit with my son aged about 3 months, I figured that he didn't really notice whether his nappy-changer was me/daddy/granny/some random stranger grandma had passed him over to in the park (yes, this did once happen)... He didn't really care, as long as his bum was cleaned and it was swiftly followed by a bottle of the good stuff.

This had its advantages, sure - I could take leisurely showers, I could switch off from being "mummy" from time to time.  But to be met with such indifference from him left me aching with insecurities. Did my little baby love me? Need me?

Well, fast forward six short months and I really need not have worried.  My son has worked out who I am and as his full time SaHM turns out this is a big deal! For the last few weeks I have attempted to drop him off at a church-run crèche, so I can attend their Alpha course.  He has not lasted 10 mins before the staff have had to phone me to come and collect him - still screaming, struggling to breathe, snot running down his red face.  We are persevering (today was a better day), as he needs to learn to trust that mummy is always going to come back when she says she will.  And one day (he's 15 months now), he will have to do a couple of mornings at nursery, then progress to pre-school.

But this crèche episode has shown me just how much my baby still needs me. Not just any loving adult (and goodness knows he has many in his life), but me.  Sometimes only a mummy cuddle will do.  And after the start in life we had (hospitals, psychiatric units, more on which another time), this feels so nice.

I hope he grows out of this phase, in time for me to devote more of my energies to the business - but I will ALWAYS be grateful for the Cling-on Phase. 

Tuesday 18 February 2014

When does Motivation become Mania?

So, in the aftermath of my postpartum psychosis, I was diagnosed as Bipolar.  To be honest I've embraced the diagnosis, as it has explained a lot about my behaviour in the past (see: ), as well as giving me and my family more insight into my moods now.  Focusing on the positives, I have not had a major depressive episode for about two years - a major change from life in my twenties.

It does mean that my family - and husband especially - are on constant guard for any signs of hypo mania.  They are anxious I don't take on too much during these high-energy periods and end up crashed-out and stressed.  But for me, it's hard not to embrace the mania.  I get more done, I am highly sociable and engaging, I am full of ideas and creativity - the exact opposite of the dreaded depressed me, who would struggle to leave the house or speak to anyone.

In the interests of science, then, I am going to declare here everything I want to do over the next few months and everything I have already signed up for.  Is it too much?  What, if anything, needs to go?

- Continue to help my son develop and grow (this is always my number 1 priority!).  Physically, he is changing all the time - he took his first steps 10 days ago, and is getting more mobile every day.  Emotionally, he is starting to express his growing frustration at the limits we set him.  He wants more independence, but he is also scared of the possibilities and comes back to cling to me.  I'd like to help him feel more secure, and find better ways of controlling his temper.  We are trying very hard to teach him how to be "gentle, gentle" - especially with the kitten!  To this end, I'd like to help him build his words so he can start to express himself verbally as well as physically.  He has perhaps 8 or 10 words, but does not use them consistently yet.

- Get fit and healthy.  I'd like to drop back from my current size 16 to my optimal pre-baby size 12.  I'm not sure what this means in terms of pounds to lose, as I don't "do" scales or weighing.  I'd just like to wear my old clothes again, and feel good in them.  I've started to go jogging (sometimes with pram, sometimes without!) and I'm going to start going to a local Zumba class.  In the last 10 days or so I have really started to eat better too: lots more fresh fruit and veg, and I've cut out the unhealthy snacks.  We even had quinoa for dinner one night last week!  Early days yet but I am starting to feel better.  To me, good physical health is a good protector against mental illness relapse.

- Progress my business from fledgling plan to an actual premises, with an opening date and financing.  I'm still not sure in what order I need to do everything, but I'd like to get financing agreed in principle, and ideally get my name down for a property.  I have seen several potential premises come and go in the last few months - I need to enter the fray!  I have a few small business/ social enterprise networking seminars to go to over the next few weeks, so hopefully I will pick up some tips and move things on to the next stage.

- I've signed up for several charitable things too.  Helping other mums and dads recover from postnatal mental illness is a big goal of mine (and one of the motivations behind this blog!).  As a SAHM I feel I have some time to devote to this, and I'm very aware of how lucky we have been as a family to get to where we are now.  So I have agreed to do some work for my local NCT branch (help with the newsletter, and with their plans for a PND group).  I have also registered my interest to volunteer for Action on Postpartum Psychosis, and am looking forward to an APP event to learn more about what I can do for them.  Finally, I am planning to set up a South London support group for PANDAS (Pre and Postnatal Deprssion Advice and Support).  All of this could end up taking up a lot of time, but I view it as essential work - to raise awareness of PND and other illnesses, and provide much-needed local support.

Monday 17 February 2014

First post - what on earth is Bumps and Grind?!

Dear internet,

Hello.  I'm Kathryn, it is very nice to meet you.  Welcome to my new blog.

Over the next few months I hope to write a little about my new business idea, and my progress towards turning it into a reality.  All in the hopes that making this public will give me added motivation!

My business idea is closely tied with my experiences over the last few years, so as well as cash flows,  business premises and staffing issues, please also expect some musings on me, my mental health and family life in general.

"Bumps & Grind" is just one of several potential names for what I hope will be a social enterprise community cafe.  It will run for the benefit of both the local community (here in Kennington, Central London) and those I will seek to employ and give experience to (people recovering from and living with mental illness).

I've been a SAHM for 15 months now and it's time for a challenge...

Look forward to sharing more with you as the weeks progress,

Kathryn x