Today I am so excited to introduce a girl whose haircut I’ve been coveting since I first saw THAT fringe on Instagram. She rocks leather skirts and leopard print (what’s not to love), has an awesome blog, runs an ingenious business, has kids with amazing names (Hello Buster!) and is really bloody nice. Here’s what Steph has to say about Motherhood…
Name: Steph Douglas
Location: St Margarets, London
Number of Kids: 2
Names and ages of aforementioned: Buster (4) and Mabel (2)
Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?
We’d been married almost 2 years and it seemed like the next ‘sensible’ step. Ahem.
Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?
Excited, and like we had the best secret. I also felt relieved – like lots of women I had a fear that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant.
How did you tell your partner?
I came running down the stairs holding the stick
Lots of squealing and hugging and ‘woah, are we really doing this’. Oh that sweet naïve couple – we had no idea!
Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?
I had no health issues for either pregnancy aside from the usual (feeling a bit swollen and constipated) and I quite enjoyed having a big round belly until the last bit when you have to heave and grunt to turn yourself over in bed. I found the mental/emotional side of it more of a challenge. We once went out for dinner on a Friday night after work when I was pregnant with Buster – Doug had booked it as a romantic gesture – and it was this amazing Italian where they just bring out courses and it’s the longest most relaxed meal ever. Except I was hungry and tired and couldn’t neck all the wine so I sat opposite him weeping while he begged me to stop as it looked like he’d taken a heavily pregnant woman to a public place to dump her. We were better at carrying emergency snacks and having early nights during my second pregnancy.
Tell me about your birth experience?
I had no expectation about birth, which sounds a bit odd but my mum was a midwife and gave birth four times herself, and she always kind of underplayed it when I asked how painful it was, and said it hurt but you’re so focused and you hold this baby at the end of it so you just get on with it. So I was kind of relaxed, ready for the drugs if I needed them but aiming to see what happened. When it came to it, my body took over, I stayed home as long as possible (on my Mum’s advice) so with both I got to the hospital and was pretty much ready to go! Finding out you’re almost ready to push as you arrive at the hospital is a massive mental boost so I felt really focused and I did the rest with gas & air, which I LOVED. They had to prise it out of my hands.
Doug gets this funny look of awe on his face when we talk about it, like he still can’t believe what I did. He also remarks on the strength as I pushed down on him during contractions; apparently it smarted a bit…yeah, it did for me too! Sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to say I had a ‘good’ birth as you hear about a lot of bad ones. But actually, it was really positive, the midwives were awesome and I feel pretty proud of myself. If I do it again, I’d hope for the same. I liked being in hospital and that is part of the feeling relaxed for me – I was on the natural birth ward but had the reassurance of staff and equipment close by if I needed it. It’s a really personal thing for everyone and at the end of it, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Describe motherhood in a few words:
A rollercoaster – with deep ‘what the hell is happening’ lows and utterly awesome ‘I AM WOMAN’ highs.
Can you share any highlights?
Just seeing these two babies that we made become funny, quirky little people and the four of us becoming a proper little unit, with our own traditions like toast in bed on a Saturday and fishfingers after swimming. Hearing them chat together first thing in the morning now they’re a bit bigger makes me feel weepy. It’s lovely.
Can you share any low points?
Those moments when you’re out and everyone is crying, no one is listening, you’re dropping stuff along your way and sweating profusely and feel like everyone is watching and judging you. Also, Mabel recently crapped on the floor in a pub and we only realised when Buster stood in it. That one is a mixture of a high and low point as it was grim, but very funny on reflection.
What do you do when the baby sleeps?
Alas, we’re down to a couple of naps a week as Mabel is almost 3 and not keen most of the time. When Buster was a baby I flapped about doing stuff from The List or divving about on social media. I know people roll their eyes at ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ but with Mabel I was much better at napping. If you unpack the dishwasher and do a few jobs first, you’ll never do it as the baby will wake up and you’ve missed your window. The trick is to lie down as soon as you put the baby down. Even if you get 20 minutes, it will change your whole day and the world will be a brighter place. The washing can wait.
Have you got a blog?
I write Sisterhood (and all that) – it’s an honest account of motherhood and relationships with the idea that if we’re honest with each other about how things really are and the ridiculousness that life throws at us, it’s often funny and also less lonely. It was kind of a stepping stone to starting the business and I wanted to see if people felt like me. It turned out they did and it went really well, so gave me the courage to quit my job and start the business.
Have you got a business?
I run Don’t Buy Her Flowers selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums. 96% of women receive flowers after giving birth. When I had my first baby I was given eight bunches of flowers and it just seemed such a waste – people were really kind to send something, but flowers are actually another thing to care for. At a time when you’re feeling pretty spent, I thought there could be better gifts that let mum know she’s doing a good job and is loved. The Care Package is our best-selling package, and the idea is it encourages mum to stop and take ten minutes to herself – truffles, tea, flapjack, a magazine and a scarf. I’ve also teamed up with COOK food so their vouchers can be added to any package, so you can give new parents prepared meals delivered to their door. Those are always well received!
What’s the best bits of being a Mama?
Aside from the obvious i.e. two beautiful babies? Women are awesome. Resilient, determined, compassionate, often hilarious and for a lot of women I know, becoming a mother intensifies those strengths. You don’t realise it when they’re small, but you are now a lioness. On a good day, anyway.
What are the worst bits?
The tiredness combined with the feeling I should always be doing something. It can be pretty exhausting and I think that’s the same for most mums everywhere. We’re rubbish at stopping, let alone relaxing with our partner or doing something nice for ourselves.
If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?
Oh SLEEP. And eat at a leisurely pace. We’re actually hoping to take a little holiday in January just the two of us. I know some people couldn’t bear to be apart from their babies, but we’ve been pretty good at having the odd night away and I think it’s essential to our sanity and marriage! We realise we really like each other when I’m not moaning at him for forgetting to put the bins out.
Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?
I recently wrote a list for Clemmie Telford’s blog which just about covers everything!
What’s do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?
Snacks! I was very disappointed by the post-birth food on offer at hospital!
What’s been your best baby product?
The IKEA high chair. Forget your fancy ones, for about a tenner this thing wipes clean and has NO primary colours.
What’s your ultimate mum product?
I’d love to hear from any other Mamas out there who’d like to feature as part of my ‘In the (mother) hood’ series – just drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org