CHARLOTTE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

This week we are lucky enough to have yet another inspiring mum boss on the blog. Charlotte, who you might also know as Emily (all will become clear), is responsible for some of the most-liked photos on some of the most popular Instagram feeds, yet we rarely catch a glimpse of the lady herself! The reason being is this Mama is more commonly found behind, rather than in front of the lens. YES! We have Charlotte the owner of Emily Gray Photography (herein lies the name confusion).

As well as juggling a successful business and finding time to be creative, Charlotte is also responsible for raising two smalls. If that didn’t keep her busy enough she also recently raised an amazing £3238 for Save the Children’s Child Refugee Appeal by organising a marathon all-day, non-stop photo shoot for local families in Hackney, where she lives. Here she shares her experience of motherhood and best of all, she has an extra-special, pre-Christmas treat for readers of the blog…!

Charlotte Emily Gray

Name: Charlotte

Age: 33

Location: Hackney

Number of Kids: 2

Names and ages: Iris (3) and Vivienne (1)

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

It was planned, but it’s still a surprise!

What were your initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Shock! I wasn’t sure it was going to happen for us. I was totally floored and ran to the chemist to buy another couple of tests. They came back positive, so I ran back to the chemist to buy their most expensive test, which told me I was 5+ weeks pregnant. Turns out I was actually 10+ weeks!

How did you tell your partner?

He found me sat on the bathroom floor surrounded by tests when he came home from work!

His reaction?

Shocked but happy!

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Once the initial exhaustion was out of the way I felt good. I had aches in my hips but nothing serious. I found my second pregnancy slightly harder, as I was working on photo shoots up to 39 weeks, running around after a non-napping one year old and dealing with 4 flights of stairs up and down from our flat every day.

Tell me about your birth experience…

My two births were different, but thankfully both very quick. The first was in hospital. I’d labored at home and came in at 9cm dilated. I’d wanted to deliver in the birth centre, but I was put on labour ward. At the end of the day we were both fine, but I wasn’t listened to and I didn’t feel like it was a good experience. I actually felt quite numb afterwards. My husband said it was like I’d shut down. Between two and five weeks after the birth, I had 3 secondary post-partum hemorrhages and eventually they removed some retained placenta.

For my second baby I knew I wanted to be at home. I was convinced I’d have a better experience, I’d be in control and I was also concerned at the speed that the baby might arrive. I went to the loo at 10.00pm and thought I felt a pull inside me as I stood up. Five minutes later I had a cramp, five minutes after that the cramp started to come in waves and then the contractions started. My husband started filling the pool whilst I called the midwife and Vivienne was born at 11.54pm in our kitchen. I delivered the placenta without the injection and made sure that the midwives examined it with me so I could see it was all there! Amazingly this all took place on Iris’ second birthday, so I have two winter solstice babies!

Describe motherhood in a few words: Relentless but amazing.

Can you share any highlights?

I love watching them play together. They sit opposite each other at the dinner table and they have such a laugh. They are often quite cheeky and I start off trying to discipline them, but they just descend into giggles and it’s hard not to join in!

Can you share any low points?

When Iris trapped her finger in her bedroom door in the middle of the night when she was 2. It is a fire door and it was nasty – I had to take her to A&E and she had surgery on it.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

I ignore the mess and just sit straight down at my computer and work. I can only do this if it’s a day when Iris is at nursery.

Have you got a blog?

I do have one, where I am supposed to post about all my latest photo shoots. But I don’t, I’m useless at that. I just post to Instagram instead. I really should do something smart, like link them up…

Have you got a business?

I run Emily Gray Photography. I offer relaxed and natural family photography, from newborn shoots with 4 day old babies, to big family get-togethers. I also shoot kids fashion, take portraits and head shots of people for their business or blogs, do a bit of product photography… For people looking to buy someone close the gift of a photo shoot, I offer personalised gift vouchers.

emily gray photography

Why ‘Emily Gray’?

My middle name is Emily so it’s not a completely random choice, though with hindsight wasn’t the best branding decision! I studied at the Royal College of Art and wanted to use a different name to the one I used for my art practice, to keep them separate from each other. I figured that it would just be a little bit of work that I did whilst on maternity leave and that I would be back in my studio quite quickly. Obviously that didn’t happen! The business took off, it’s getting busier by the month and I have to explain to every client that my name is Charlotte not Emily!

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The giggles and the love.

What are the worst bits?

Cooking meals and struggling to juggle it all. I often feel like I’m not giving anything the full attention it deserves – my kids, my husband, my business. The flat is a constant mess but that’s ok! I’m learning to be kinder to myself and love the Yes Mum cards, which I use as a reminder!

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Catch up with all my work, have long lie ins, play my music loud in the evening, go to the cinema.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

People tell you to savour every minute, which is hard as it can be so tough, particularly in the early days. Instead I’d say be kind to yourself. It isn’t always easy but it’s the most amazing experience.

charlotte emily gray

BIG THANKS to the mega talented mama Charlotte for taking part this week! Be sure to check out her website: Emily Gray Photography and give her a shout if you need any professional photos. ALSO she is kindly offering a 10% discount if you quote ‘DOUBLEMAMA’ so what are you waiting for?! Perfect family Christmas present or what?!

If you’d like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please drop an email to thedoublemama@gmail.com 🙂

 

 

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The miraculous near-immaculate conception

motherhood

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I found out I was pregnant quite early (approx. 5 weeks) even though I didn’t have the missed period to go on. I call it Mother’s intuition, James on the other hand calls it paranoia. But guess who was right?!

I recorded my thoughts about 2 weeks in and now when I re-read them, I can’t help but think: pregnant women really are bat shit mental. I blame the crazy volume of hormones – the new lot and the old lot that were still coursing through my veins.

So here goes, I thought I’d share how I felt discovering I was pregnant with no 3, whilst still breastfeeding no 2:

* I knew it! I knew I was pregnant!

* Can’t believe I’m pregnant.

* I told you I was! You didn’t believe me. I just knew!

* Can’t believe I’m pregnant. How has this happened? I haven’t had a period since March 2014! We don’t even have sex!!

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* Oh my God shall we talk about our options?

* No that’s crazy, this is obviously meant to be.

* Well at least I won’t need to buy anything because I still have all the baby stuff, and the maternity stuff and the breastfeeding stuff.

* What do I need to buy? God this is exciting! I love buying baby stuff.

* It’s not going to cost as much this time as we’ll need hardly anything.

* We’re going to need a double buggy… say whaaat? They’re HOW MUCH?!

Surprise

* Oh and we can’t fit 3 carseats in the back of a regular car…

* Luckily we have the van! Thank God for Cosmo! Such a good idea buying him.

* Can’t believe I’m 7 weeks already – my tummy is basically flat.

* Urgh I feel like a fat bloated cow!

* I wonder how long it will be until I have to get my box of maternity wear back down?

* Least I won’t have to buy maternity wear again since this is another winter baby.

* I’ll just check out the maternity dungarees on Topshop website though…

* Oh look @dresslikeamum has suggested Topshop slip dresses for pregnancy and breastfeeding… good idea!

* What am I going to do about my hair? I really want to dye it…

* I’m sure dye won’t hurt…

surprised-baby

* No I better not risk it.

* Oh I’m so excited about having another baby, it’s going to be so brilliant! I feel so lucky!

* What the fuck am I going to do on my 30th birthday? Pregnant on my 30th! Worst nightmare.

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* Will have to postpone 30th. 29 again.

* Maybe I can do bingo for my birthday…? Or spa weekend… It will be ok. Vegas can wait.

* It will be so nice for Arlo to have a sibling so close in age.

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* Ohhh I wanted longer with Arlo Bear (crying).

* I will get the new one into the same routine, it will be manageable.

* OMGF HOW AM I GOING TO COPE WITH TWO BABIES???

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* I hope I don’t get stretch marks. Or varicose veins. Or piles.

* I’ve gone two pregnancies without so I’m sure I won’t.

* Will obviously get the worst stretch marks/veins/piles ever this time.

* Might as well throw all my size 8 jeans away – that’s not ever going to happen now is it?!

* And all my old underwear. Sob.

* I need new nursing bras. They’re so frigging ugly.

* Hopefully the baby will be another calm, chilled, hypno baby.

* Blatantly going to get a screamer this time. I’m due one.

Crying baby

* Maybe it will be a GIRL!!

* Obvs going to be a boy.

* Oooh I get to give birth again!!!

* I love being pregnant. Such an amazing thing; growing a human.

* I feel so ill. I hate being pregnant.

* It’s going to go so fast.

* HOW AM I STILL ONLY 7 WEEKS???

ROBYN’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

This week we have first-time Mama Robyn Wilder sharing her experience of motherhood so far. She juggles pen-wielding with baby-rearing on a daily basis writing for Buzzfeed, The Pool and her own blog The Parent Crap. She’s married to the man behind the hugely popular Man with a pram column. You NEED to read it ALL, but for now, here’s what Robyn has to say on pregnancy, birth and baby loving…

Name: Robyn Wilder

Location: Ashford, Kent

Number of Kids: One

Names and ages: Herbie Heritage, 8 months old

robyn wilder

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

A planned surprise. Got engaged, came off contraception because I’m a little bit elderly in babymaking terms, so thought I needed to air out my uterus or whatever. But I fell pregnant immediately! Luckily Tiffany Rose make some gorgeous maternity wedding dresses.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Just a rush of adrenaline. I ran around the flat like a deranged spaniel for about half an hour, shouting “oh my god, oh my god”.

How did you tell your partner?

My husband was out, and I was all set to play it cool and surprise him when he got back with a coy smile and a cake. Then I snapped and barked the news down the phone to him while he was getting fitted for his morning suit. Which was interesting for him.

His reaction?

“WELL THAT’S NICE WE WILL DISCUSS THIS LATER.” Later, obviously, we just stroked my belly while occasionally emitting high-pitched laughs at each other, until the news sank in.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

I glowed for precisely 2.5 weeks after finding out, then I was hit with hyperemesis gravidarum and a “highly likely” result for a serious genetic disorder (Herbie is fine, as far as we can tell). Next I developed gestational diabetes and anaemia, and later even broke a rib. Pregnancy wasn’t fun at all – I was constantly nauseated, in pain, or dizzy, and had to take a lot of time off work. Although I did enjoy the feeling of this little life growing inside of me, I definitely didn’t enjoy suddenly not liking coffee, or not being able to rely on my body anymore.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was induced at 38 weeks due to gestational diabetes, and whereas inductions normally take a few days to get labour going, I was fully dilated within 20 minutes of starting the procedure. However, then the epidural slowed things down again, and 14 hours later I still hadn’t progressed, and ended up going into sepsis with the baby in distress. Eventually I was wheeled away for a C-section. That was actually the least stressful part – three minutes from incision to delivery. When they placed the baby on me, though, I passed out through blood loss. Labour was nothing like I had hoped for – I have quite a severe anxiety disorder and found it difficult to cope with the pain, anticipation, and how medical and impersonal everything was – like a really long, really intense dental operation. I think my mental health could have been accommodated better, and will be talking to my hospital about it. I have PTSD from the birth, and I think Herbie is affected, too. C-sections all the way from hereon in.

Incidentally, my husband wrote a fuller account of the birth for The Guardian.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Joy and poo. And fatigue. And forgetfulness. Hey, did I mention joy and poo?

man with a pram baby

Can you share any highlights?

We got really excited when Herbie seemed to say his own name. He was babbling on the changing mat and shouted “Her!” Then he shouted, ”BEE!” and we were overjoyed. THEN he said what sounded very much like the N word, so all bets are off, basically.

Can you share any low points?

The other day a wasp flew at me and I found myself running away from it – and my pram, which continued to roll down the road. The baby was fine, and more recently I ran away from another wasp with my pram, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Herbie’s not very good at sleeping alone, so I try to put him down away from me as much as possible, and get on with writing. He is very cuddly, though, so often I sack off and either curl around him and doze off myself, or let him sleep sprawled on top of me while I sink into a box set and just let the oxytocin flow.

Have you got a blog?

I’m in awe of those Pinteresty parent blogs where willowy first-time mothers float around their airy upcycled homes with perfect skin and messy side-braids and show you five steps to making your own organic hemp soy almond fair trade chia seed babycinos. Mine’s not one of those blogs. It’s about how I really don’t know what I’m doing, but am muddling through parenting anyway (mostly?) successfully.

What’s the link?

theparentcrap.com

Do you have another job (besides being a Mama)?

I work at BuzzFeed as a staff writer, but I’m freelancing during my year’s maternity leave. Experience has taught me to change how I work because I don’t have the luxury of spending hours at the computer anymore. Now I try to make notes and edits on my phone while the baby sleeps on me, then do the actual writing while he naps, or his father has him. So far it’s doable…ish. I don’t know how it’ll all work when I return to the office – I’m basically ignoring the prospect for now.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Just that I have the requisite biology to CONJURE NEW HUMAN FRIENDS INTO EXISTENCE. Isn’t that amazing? I could go mad with power. Also, I know it’s a cliché, but I have never felt love like this. It’s almost painful.

What are the worst bits?

Being trapped under a breastfeeding baby during a growth spurt when you’re recovering from a C section and you have postnatal depression is a special sort of misery. But then you’ll wake up to a tiny perfect hand stroking your face, and it all seems worth it somehow.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

I’m still breastfeeding and I’m dairy-free because Herbie has a milk protein intolerance, so probably eat loads of cheese, leak breastmilk everywhere, and cry myself to sleep because I’d miss him so much.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Okay, you know when you see really lazy products in the supermarket, like pre-diced onions and pre-grated cheese, and you wonder who that’s from? IT’S FOR YOU. For at least the first three months after your baby’s born you’ll be doing stuff onehanded, so maybe go onehanded for a day while you’re pregnant so you can figure out what you’ll need.

Is there anything you wish you had known?

I wish I’d known that birth trauma was a) a possibility, b) something I could get help with, c) something that passed, because when no one tells you that it’s a thing and suddenly you find yourself hallucinating and terrified when you should be happy and picture-perfect, it’s very hard to process. Birthtraumaassociation.org.uk can help.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share….

I write about parenting for The Pool and my husband writes a parenting column in The Guardian.

robyn wilder

Huge thank you to Robyn for finding the time to share her refreshingly honest experience of motherhood. Be sure to check out her brilliant blog and her husband’s column in The Guardian.

If you would like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please email thedoublemama@gmail.com.

CLEMMIE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

I am incredibly honoured to be featuring the AMAZING Clemmie Hooper on the blog today! She’s the country’s favourite midwife, facilitator of homebirths, empowerer of women, writes a hugely popular kick-ass blog, rocks a covetable wardrobe, somehow manages to have an enviably tidy home and is about to become a double mama TWICE OVER! Oh, and did I mention she’s writing a book?!

This woman is truly a force to be reckoned with and it’s been a privilege to have known her since we both began our Motherhood journey, almost 9 years ago…

Clemmie and daughters

Name: Clemmie

Age: 30

Location: Crystal Palace, South East London

Number of Kids: 2 + 2 on the way

Names and ages of aforementioned: Anya – 8 & Marnie – 4

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Absolutely not, I’d just left uni, my boyfriend and I were having way too much fun at various festivals, let’s call it the Summer of Love. We were pretty shocked when we found out.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Terrified, angry and scared of what the future might hold.

How did you tell your partner?

I showed him the test I was crying so he kind of knew what it meant.

His reaction?

He was pretty silent for a while, said some swear words and went very pale.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

I was only 23 so I guess being young and fit helped, I suffered from a really bad back and felt massive (as you do with every pregnancy) towards the end.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was 5 days past my EDD and went into labour on a Saturday morning, stayed at home for as long as possible then went to a birthing centre accompanied by my boyfriend. I used the pool for a bit but got too hot and bothered and birthed Anya on all fours completely stark naked. I had my 2 amazing midwives with me (one came back from Glastonbury to be with me). It was a lot more intense than I ever expected, the sensation of your body pushing out your baby is something I’ll never forget. I felt like a bloody warrior woman for doing all of that with a whiff of gas and air.

Clemmie birth

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Exhausting, messy, rewarding.

Can you share any highlights?

When our second daughter was 4 days old our elder daughter asked us through floods of tears when we were going to return her to the train station. The realisation that she was no longer an only child suddenly dawned on her.

Can you share any low points?

Any time you have to look after your children with a horrendous hang over is pretty awful, dropping the f bomb and then your daughters repeating it to Daddy when he gets home isn’t a great feeling. And anytime I have to leave them to go to work and they’re crying for Mama, I hate missing bed and bath time if I’m at a birth.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

The first time around I was on this sort of high and never did that sleeping in the day when the baby slept. Second time around I slept whenever she did but my elder daughter only went to nursery 3 days a week so I ended up at hideous soft plays and in the playground as you do. I wish I’d slept more the first time around.

Have you got a blog?

Yes I started Gas&Air almost 4 years ago. It’s all about my life as a midwife and mum, I share all the wisdom I’ve learnt over the last 10 years that I hope and think women really need to know. From what to pack in your hospital bag, to how to prevent tearing and how to write your birth plan and I’ve got a book being published by Random House in Spring 2017 ‘How to grow a baby and push it out’.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The spontaneous ‘I love you Mummy’ and the huge cuddles in bed even at the crack of dawn. When your child tells you a really funny joke and it makes sense!

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Sleep, shop, go to the cinema, finish that book on my bedside table, have morning sex with my husband, go for drinks straight after work, basically everything you don’t do as often once you’re a mum of 2.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Go easy on yourself especially 1st time around, you’re not doing a shit job you’re doing great. And it doesn’t necessarily get easier you just get better at it.

Is there anything you wish you had known?

Those expensive baby classes when your baby is 6 weeks old are a waste of money, find like-minded mums and go for coffee and cake.

What’s do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

Really useful things like a bottle of spray water for your face, a flannel, some lavender oil, comfy socks, a TENS machine, music on your phone, headphones and hypnobirthing scripts.

What’s been your best baby product?

Best baby product has to be super large swaddling blankets – mops up milk, spilt tea, tears (both yours and baby’s) can be draped over the pram on a sunny day…

What’s your ultimate mum product?

Anything by Weleda – their baby products are great for a new mums’ tired skin. I love their almond products – perfect when your skin’s a bit dry!

Hooper family

Massive thanks to Clemmie for finding the time to complete this Q&A! Remember to check out her blog and keep your eyes peeled for her book!!! You can keep up with her pregnancy progress (and amazing maternity wardrobe) by following her on IG – @midwifeyhooper

If any Mama reading this would like to feature as part of my ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please email: thedoublemama@gmail.com

STEPH’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

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…

Steph Douglas

Name: Steph Douglas

Age: 34

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

His reaction?

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?

OBVIOUSLY a thoughtful gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers… but also a changing bag from Tiba + Marl. Practical AND good-looking. And a buggy hook because you always have too much stuff to carry.

Steph Douglas and kids

Huge thanks to Steph for taking part – be sure to check out her blog, it is well worth a read! And of course if you know somebody who needs a little TLC – Don’t Buy Her Flowers!

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: thedoublemama@gmail.com

What I’d do differently in birth

Birth Stories, motherhood


newborn baby

I had a pretty spectacular 2nd birth. I kind of want to tell everyone and shout it from the roof tops because I believe everybody can and should have a wonderful birth experience (whether that’s a homebirth, a hospital birth or an elective c-section). No doubt every woman deserves it. (You can read my birth story here). However I also don’t want to come across as an insensitive, smug dick because I know so many women have had less than ideal labours.

Therefore I always like to explain how I had a traumatic first birth and then went on to have a wonderful one. Basically I know what both ends of the birth experience spectrum look like. Now I just want every woman who is scared of giving birth to know that in actual fact it can be the best day of your life! For those women who did not have the birth of dreams first time round (I was one!), know that all hope is not lost and if you go on to have another bubba then a brilliant and healing birth experience is most definitely possible.

hynobirthing affirmation

Anyhow, that all said, there are still a few things I’d definitely do differently, so here they are:

1. I wouldn’t spend the entire afternoon after my waters had gone writing Christmas cards whilst having/ignoring ‘twinges’, then sending my partner out to post them just a few hours before I gave birth.

Next time I will use that time to deeply relax. Maybe have a bath with the lovely Lush bath bomb I’d been saving in my birth bag, have a rest, have a cuddle, have my partner do a relaxation reading like we’d rehearsed, listen to some positive affirmations, have a massage with the lovely Neil’s Yard ‘Mother’ oil I’d been given as a gift, inhale some lavender spritz that I’d prepared etc. etc. Because all those lovely things I had planned… Guess what??? Never did them. Why?! Because in the end there wasn’t time! I wasted the lovely early stages of labour doing life admin.

hypnobirthing affirmation

2. First sign of labour I’d get my partner to start inflating and filling the birth pool. Oh the pool of dreams! What happened in my labour was we thought of inflating the pool too late. My partner spent most of my 2 hour labour attending to the pool which I then didn’t use because by the time it was ready for me to get in, it was time to push! So yeah, I’d get him on that case a lot quicker.

birth pool in a box

3. I forgot to drink in my labour. And my partner, like I mentioned, was busy attending to the birth pool, not me. When the midwife gave me a cup of cold black sugary tea, just before I delivered, I swear it was the best thing I’d ever tasted.

So yeah next time I’m going to have some cool fresh lemonade prepared or something similarly refreshing to sip. Oh and champers in the fridge! We forgot that too (I’d only just finished work – I wasn’t expecting to go into labour ‘on time’).

homemade lemonade

4. I’m going to remember that just like everyone says – when the baby is coming out it genuinely feels like a poo. I went to the toilet naked like a mad woman, insistent that I needed a number 2. I had my midwife outside the door telling me not to push too hard as I didn’t want to deliver on the toilet. She was right. Of course. It was baby’s head.

Luckily I made it to the sofa.

hypnobirthing affirmation

5. Finally and most importantly, the thing I would definitely do differently (if there’s a next time) is get a birth photographer!! You are so in the zone when in labour that it’s a bit of a blur. I wasn’t aware of what was going on around me and that was a good thing. But I wish I had a load of photos that I could look back on to remember that miraculous day.

For me giving birth is more life changing than getting married and if I wouldn’t think twice about hiring a wedding photographer to capture the day, why not splash the cash and book a birth photographer ! There are so many gorgeous birth photos out there and beautiful videos to watch. I really regret not having someone to record my special day.

Sure I have the shaky, slightly-blurry, happy after-birth pic that my partner took (see up top) and the I’m-dead-to-the-world first birth photo (below) but I want more! I’m not talking blood and guts, I’m talking beautiful sensual photos that truly capture the magic.

newborn

Oh, and 6. I’d remember to blow the candle out before going to hospital.

I transferred to hospital after giving birth as I needed some stitches and had lost a bit of blood. We left without remembering the lovely Diptyque candle we had burning throughout my labour, which then remained going all night…

Diptyque candle

House did smell nice though when I got home 😉

Things I loved about my Hypnobirth

Birth Stories, motherhood

HYPNOBIRTH

In light of The Guardian’s article today on the rise in popularity of hypnobirthing, I thought I’d share exactly why I loved having a hypnobirth…

1.The calm, serene, dimly-lit, lavender-scented environment we created for birth. In the weeks leading up to our birth, visitors always commented on the chill vibe we had going on.

2.The practice we did beforehand – light touch massage, relaxation readings etc. – basically taking time out each evening to relax together and prepare mentally for the arrival of our baby.

3.Going to sleep each night listening to a relaxation MP3 – worked every time and became such a lovely routine in the months leading up to the birth. To be honest I sometimes still listen to it now when going to sleep and it instantly transports me back to that calm place I was in.

4.Giving birth without any pain relief meant I was totally present in the moment and it was totally empowering. I felt like a wonder woman. In my previous labour the gas and air made me feel really out of control and by the time baby arrived, after hours and hours of being pumped full of drugs, I was out of it. This time I was euphoric when baby arrived and was instantly able to bond.

5.Being so relaxed meant my labour was able to progress naturally and quickly which resulted in my labour lasting just 2 hours from start to finish!

6.In the lead up to giving birth I had no anxiety whatsoever, only excitement. Which is a truly lovely thing.

7.I got to give birth at home in front of the Christmas tree as I dreamed of. A hundred million times better than a harsh clinical environment.

8.I felt I had a whole array of tools at my disposal that I could use so I didn’t feel I needed a drug option. It wasn’t that I felt I had to be strong and cope without anything, I felt I had a great number of alternative methods to help me cope.

9.How close the whole journey brought my partner and I – because we were working together each evening in the lead up by doing our hypno homework, and also when it came to birth he was so involved.

10.The opportunity it gave me to have an incredible birth experience – something every woman deserves. It was genuinely the best day of my life and one I’d do a million times over without hesitation. I felt my birth was genuinely amazing.

11.It gave my partner a real role in my labour – to protect the space, to aid my relaxation, and to supply the tools to help me remain calm. So he didn’t feel like a spare part but an absolute necessary part. We felt we birthed our baby together.

12.A hypno baby is a calm baby! I honestly believe a traumatic birth is traumatic for baby as well as Mum. My hypno baby was the most chilled out baby and we totally attribute that to the calm journey he had into this world.

I went on a hypnobirthing course 2 months before I was due but you can do it earlier. I did my course with Hollie from London Hypnobirthing who I would definitely recommend. If you can’t attend a course in person then there’s always The Calm Birth School, an online video course, which I’d also recommend. 

SUSIE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

I am super pleased to introduce the second mama to feature in my ‘In the (mother) hood’ series… she is a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, seriously hot, first-time Mama and the partner of all round nice guy and Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford… it’s * Susie Verrill *

Mummy and son

Name: Susie Verrill

Age: 27 years old

Location: Woburn (Milton Keynes)

Number of kids: 1

Names and ages: Milo Rutherford – 9 months.

Was motherhood planned?

A bit in the middle. We discussed trying, then after 1 ‘try’ we found we were done and dusted.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Excited for an amazing new journey, desperate to drive to Mamas and Papas there and there and suddenly struck by the enormity of it all.

How did you tell your partner?

I wandered towards him looking dazed while waving the wee-stick. He was shouting for me to feed the dogs at the time so I had to bellow at him to shush and pay attention to me.

His reaction?

Utter amazement. I think we hugged and laughed at each other for the next few hours ‘til he annoyingly had to go out for the evening while I laid in bed alone (doing more laughing).

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

In all honesty I didn’t enjoy pregnancy and found it odd when people asked. I liked my body, I liked feeling fit, I liked being healthy and competent and I was suddenly struck down by sickness, sweating, being told I couldn’t do things, needing to rush off for a wee every few minutes only for a thimble-full to trickle out, finding nothing fitted me and packing that every ache and pain was a bad sign. Other than knowing I was solely in charge of my growing baby and feeling the kicks, I couldn’t wait for it to be over and merely saw it as a means to an end.

Tell me about your birth experience...

I’d love to say I have a positive birth story as I went in to it very positively, however sadly I dread the thought of having to do it again and still haven’t quite recovered, physically or emotionally. I prepared with some hypnobirthing (which was so wonderful, I highly recommend it), but otherwise had very few expectations and was actually really excited. My waters leaked for two days (and I should have been admitted to be monitored but sadly wasn’t), then they finally burst (just after I’d fake tanned) at home while I was watching a programme about a tsunami. Turns out I’d been in labour for a while (I thought I just had wind) and so when my waters properly whooshed, the contractions went to two minutes apart within half an hour. When I got to the hospital the pools weren’t working thus meaning my relaxing water birth went out the window. I had an epidural but sadly it wasn’t administered incorrectly by a sleepy consultant & just resulted in me having a wang leg. Then, after 3 hours of pushing while it became apparent Milo & I were back to back and he wasn’t budging; I was given forceps and an episiotomy. Turns out this was also done incorrectly, and 12 weeks down after birth I was treated to 7 injections and some silver nitrate matches burning away scar tissue on my gooch. Reconstructive surgery is next up. Future births: c-section!

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Life-affirming, heartwarming, exhausting. A real adventure.

Can you share any highlights?

Recent highlights involve Milo finally giving in and agreeing to eat (even if I did have to cover broccoli in strawberry yogurt). He also took his very first wobbly step and it was suddenly confirmed how quick the first year goes. But in all honesty, there are highlights every single day, and that’s no exaggeration. Even when I think things can’t get any more tiring or annoying, he’ll smile or cuddle up to me and my heart makes my head forget all the crap stuff. Beer also helps.

Can you share any low points?

I repeatedly find Milo eating dead spiders/flies/daddy long legs. We live in the countryside and if we have the windows open, all God’s creatures comes on in and carp it; our bathroom’s like a creepy crawlies graveyard.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

During Milo’s morning nap I get dressed and do my make up (if I do this while Milo’s awake he tries to suck my make-up brushes). I also get a few chores done, watch one episode of whatever box set I’m in to & then finally; get some work done/answer emails. In the evening, Milo’s bedtime sadly is SO late, I often just go to bed with him. Sleep’s not his most favourite thing.

Have you got a blog?

My blog’s called My Milo And Me and is an attempt to make light of all the rubbish parts of mummy hood, with some fun parts thrown in. It’s about keeping your identify (for the most part), ploughing on through the hard times and then some reviews about all the baby boy leggings I’ve got my hands on (because putting a baby in jeans is like bathing a pissy cat). As a family we also travel a lot so I try to write tips/advice on how to handle flying and hotel rooms with a teeny tiny.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Watching someone who you care for more than anyone else in the world, grow and explore things. All the hugs, all the kisses, all the smiles and all the funny moments. If you could bottle up how happy your child can make you, you’d make a fortune.

What are the worst bits?

Cold tea. Occasionally the realisation that a mini human is watching you attempt to have sex. Pooing while wrestling dangerous objects out of your child’s grasp. Stains on every item of clothing you put on; within seconds. Never sitting for longer than half a minute.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Probably look at photos of him and cry (seriously). Teamed with lots of hot tea and lie-ins.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

I wish I’d known not to read up too much, listen to too much advice and panic. Do whatever works for you and absolutely ignore what everyone else suggests because it’ll all be contradictory anyway. Then you’ll worry you’re doing something wrong and essentially, you know what’s making your child happy. Relax, enjoy and know that you’re doing brilliantly.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share….

If you’re breastfeeding and panicking about doing so in public, please know that either a) no-one will notice, b) if they do, they won’t care.

baby boy

Big thanks to Susie for taking part and sharing so much about her experiences of Motherhood so far. Be sure to check out her blog for lots more –>>> My Milo And Me

If you’d like to feature please get in touch: thedoublemama@gmail.com

CHARLOTTE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Massively excited to kick start this weekly ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature with the super-gorgeous, hilarious, straight-talking, take-no-shit, fellow double-mama (one in the oven, one fully cooked) – CHARLOTTE from Only Saying What You’re Thinking

I’ve been following this Mama’s journey both pre and post her blog hiatus and absolutely love hearing what she’s got to say about pregnancy, motherhood and life unfiltered. Hopefully you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have…

Charlotte

Name: Charlotte

Age: 29

Location: Kent

Number of Kids: 1 + 1 due in October

Names and ages: Lilian age 4

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

It was planned although we didn’t think it would happen so fast!

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Shocked. I’d only just stopped taking the pill and didn’t think I’d get pregnant so soon, we thought we’d at least have a few months of being married and enjoying lazy weekends as newlyweds! Once it sunk in I was happy. I’d never really been a fan of kids but I was excited, it’s different when it’s your own.

How did you tell your partner?

He was with me when I took the test. We were on our honeymoon and I’d felt horrendously bloated for a few days, when I checked the calendar I realized I was late so we went out and bought some tests et voila!

His reaction?

He was shocked too. Happy but shocked.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Pregnancy was a massive bitch and it’s a massive bitch second time round too. With my first I was hospitalized with HG and it didn’t pass until around week 17. Then SPD kicked in towards the end of that pregnancy and I spent the last few weeks confined to the sofa in agony. I don’t think my skin turned back from green until Lilian was about 8 weeks old! This time I had morning sickness until 16 weeks and the SPD has kicked in already! I don’t do pregnancy well, I’m the worst patient. Wah wah wah.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was induced at 40+9 but nothing started up until two days later and then it went wild! They had to slow my contractions down using a drip because they were really close together and I was only 2cm dilated. They broke my waters with what looked like a crochet hook and not long after that I had an epidural. Now that part of the experience was the best. I can only imagine it’s what taking a shit load of drugs in a club feels like, except I couldn’t walk, obviously. I only managed to get to 6cm before my baby turned sideways and thought she’d stick her chin up and get stuck. So that ended in an emergency section after they kept losing her on the monitor. Not the natural birth many mothers envision and I was pumped full of drugs over my 6 day hospital stay which meant I was pretty out of it for days after. I found it hard to bond with my baby but we got there in the end. This time I’d like it to be calmer, not so many drugs (although I’d take an epidural RIGHT NOW for this SPD pain) and I’ll definitely be packing better shit into my hospital bag (mini bottles of booze and a ton of chocolate).

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Exhausting, glorious, exhilarating, infuriating, powerful.

Can you share any highlights?

The other day Lil was having a poo and wanted a chat, she’s an oversharer like her mother, and asked me how the baby got into my tummy. I explained, loosely, about the egg and the seed but I left out how it all came about. She recapped “so daddy put his seed in your belly button and then you were pregnant?” something like that, kid. She cracks me up every single day. Daddy will not be putting his seed in my bellybutton again.

Can you share any low points?

Dropping my phone on her face when trying to take a picture of us together. Luckily it did no lasting damage. I know, major parent fail.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

I just stared at her, marvelling at what we’d made. I took a shit ton of photos, ate a load of cake and didn’t do any housework. All these people told me to cherish every second, I took that literally. Now, when she sleeps, I veg out in front of the tv or read. I’m using this time wisely before the next one turns up.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The love your kids show you. She told me I was the best, nicest mummy in the world the other day and I know she wasn’t taking the piss. She looked at me with all this love in her eyes and I just wanted to cry at how perfect she was (at that moment anyway, an hour later she told me I was horrible because I wouldn’t let her have chocolate for dinner). Watching them grow into who they’ll be forever, knowing that all the sleepless nights, the screaming rows with your partner, the leaky boobs and the exhaustion that eats you up… all that shit is worth it because they are growing to be kind and strong little things.

What are the worst bits?

The exhaustion, it’s relentless. The tantrums that you don’t know how to deal with, the questions you don’t want to answer for fear of upsetting them, when they get sick and you can’t take the pain away. They’re heart wrenching, the worst bits. But the good bits erase the bad ones a hundred times over. Being a mama is the best feeling in the world, even if you do wet yourself when you sneeze.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

I can only dream of this! BLISS. Sleep in a fancy hotel. I’d order room service, stay in my pj’s, take long SILENT baths… no “mummy why do you have hair there? Why are your boobies so big? I’d wander around London for hours, visit galleries, have spa treatments. I’m talking out of my arse really, I’d miss her after a day and come home.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Go with your gut, every time. Don’t read parenting books, don’t do anything you don’t want to, say no to the people who want to come round when you’ve just had your baby… I didn’t and I think that was one of the reasons it took a while to bond with my baby. The evening after she was born I had 8 visitors standing around my bed poking and prodding her, I should have just told them to fuck off. Those first few days are so precious, take your time… they can come visit on day 6. Your baby won’t look much different than they did on day 1! The bad times? They pass. Is there anything you wish you had known? How tired I would be, nothing can prepare you for that. To cut myself some slack, mums are doing the hardest job in the world (the Queen said so herself).

Have you got a blog?

I have. I started it in my third trimester, not writing to anyone in particular but I needed a place to rant about how shit I was finding being pregnant and then it turned into a bit of an online diary about motherhood. I wanted it to be raw and brutally honest because I was fed so much bullshit throughout my pregnancy about how wonderful it is and how you feel great. For me, it was all lies. I felt someone needed to say how it really was. Don’t get me wrong, there are many more great times but the bad times were pretty low.

What’s the link?

www.onlysayingwhatyourethinking.blogspot.co.uk

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share… I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

CHARLOTTE

Huge thanks to Charlotte for being the first Mama out there to take part in my ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature (and for the blog love)!!  Please go and check out her blog and find out if she really is only saying what you’re thinking 🙂

If you’d like to take part and feature on my blog then please drop me a line: thedoublemama@gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you xx