New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

motherhood

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New year’s resolutions seems to be like Marmite; people either love them or vehemently hate them. I fall into the first camp. I live by making lists, I love setting myself goals and making plans and enjoy a challenge so for me, setting some resolutions in January is a chance to do just that for the year ahead.

For those that hate such lists I can promise you there’s none of the usual ‘eat less, work out more’ – I’m having a baby in 2016 so have accepted weight gain is inevitable and exercise highly unlikely. I very much plan to have my cake and eat it all.

So here’s my list of goals/hopes/aims for 2016…

First up, the BIG FIVE:

  1. Build a business that I believe in, doing something that I love and find rewarding – this one is already in progress so watch this space!!
  2. Birth a healthy and happy baby boy – hopefully at home again – massively looking forward to this!
  3. Blog more bloody often!! Could be tricky with the irish twins 😉
  4. Buy a house (but obvs not in London) – maybe…
  5. Get back behind the wheel and buy a new Campervan for all the adventures we had planned prior to accident.

 

Next, is what I plan to do to be a better mother and partner…

6. Take Arlo Bear to a playgroup or similar at least twice a week because he’s a whole 1 year’s old and I’ve taken him to zero groups/classes so far (bad mother). Mainly because I’ve been busy juggling a number of jobs with completing my masters degree since the day he was born.

7. Spend 1:1 time with my biggest boy once a week and do something nice together like go to the cinema or to an exhibition in town or even just to a local cafe for brunch because he’s awesome company and more than deserves it. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve totally neglected him this past year since the arrival of his baby bro.

8. Commit to having a date night once a week (not just talk about it but actually ensure it happens). Whether it’s a gig or just a drink at the pub at the end of the road, we really need to spend more time together sans kids.

9. Schedule 1 night a week to do something for myself and make sure James does the same, whether it’s going out to see friends or just soaking uninterrupted like a pregnant whale in the bath. For him, it will probably be playing or watching footie with mates and beers. But whatever it is, we just need to make sure we do it.

10. TRY and go to bed at 10pm but aim to be sleeping by 11pm week nights. Going to bed in the early hours every night and getting up at 6.30am for work is not sustainable and does not make for happy parents or a happy household.

11. In relation to my relationship, try and live more by this quote and do things differently this year because it’s so easy to fall into a cycle of arguing and being grumpy with each other and putting your relationship last when you have a baby and are permanently exhausted/busy…

quote-Albert-Einstein-insanity-is-doing-the-same-thing-over

 

Businesses, babies, blogging and house buying aside, I’m really hoping earlier nights, more sleep, weekly date nights and taking time for ourselves (individually) once a week will help keep our relationship on track with the arrival of no 3. It’s so, so important to remember who you are (besides being a Mama/Dada) and why you love each other so you can work together as a team, yet it’s all too easy to neglect the relationship you have with your partner when all the little people in your lives are so demanding and time-consuming (plus there’s always work and boring life admin to factor in). So in 2016 I’m going to try and do things differently so we avoid the negative parent trap. I’m determined to remember who I am (besides being a triple mama!!!) and put my relationship nearer the top of the to-do list. Also I’m hoping by better managing/allocating my time and being more organised in general, and taking Bear to playgroups and spending 1:1 time with Osh each week, that I can be a better, happier and less guilt-ridden mother this year. Fingers crossed!

BRING IT ON 2016… whatever happens it’s going to be a HUGE YEAR!

 

 

 

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The miraculous near-immaculate conception

motherhood

surprise_delight

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.

The Year of the MOTHER

motherhood

mother sign

I don’t know whether it’s my age, but recently I’ve been aware that Motherhood is becoming cool and being a Mama is a badge of honour, to be worn with pride. Now let me put that statement in context. I first become a Mama at the tender age of 21, whilst still at University. That wasn’t cool at all. Going out, getting pissed, dancing naked in the city fountains – that was all cool. Dealing with nipples that were falling off because of a bad latch, was less so.

Now I’m fast approaching 30 (yikes) and suddenly being a Mama feels different. Is it my age?? Or is 2015 really the year of the Mother?!

Whatever the reason, there’s a load of Mama merch available from a host of inspiring Mum Bosses. I’ve rounded up the best of the bunch, the stuff I own or want to own, made by the most inspiring of Mothers. These items would make amazing presents for new Mamas – total babyshower inspo right here! And not forgetting MOTHER’S DAY! A whole dedicated day. Send this list to your other half in advance and you might, just might, get something other than a bunch of flowers 🙂

  1. The Selfish Mother #MotherTee 

selfish mother mother tee

I have one in black and coral to see me through the seasons. I’ve also bought a couple for friends. These t-shirts are super-soft, well-made and allow you to wear your Mother identity with pride. They can accommodate a bump and allow easy access to boobs (important if breastfeeding – just to clarify!). But the greatest bit of all is that the proceeds go to the charity Women for Women, meaning by buying and wearing one, you’re helping other Mothers in less well-developed countries access opportunities we take for granted. It’s an ace concept and the mastermind behind it, is Mum Boss Molly Gunn. Molly is also the woman behind the blogging platform Selfish Mother. If you haven’t heard of it before, check it out!

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2. The beautifully packaged Mere Soeur Goodies which include a Mere Soeur branded tank top and tote bag and best of all (IMO) a boob appreciation mug, which I have and use as much as possible. My son calls it “Mummy’s powerful boobs mug”. Still deciding whether to feel embarrassed or proud.

mere soeur mug

These goodies are sold by the super-sweet Mum Boss Carrie Anne, who is also co-founder of Crafted Sisterhood, which is a blog but also so much more. A supportive, inclusive network and platform for Mamas is probably a better description, and they organise Mama Meets too!


Mere Soeur Tote

3. The hugely popular (and almost always sold out) Cult of Youth Mama chain. Available in Gold, Silver or Rose Gold. These Mama chains have serious rock chick appeal are made by (brand new) Mum Boss Kelly Seymour. She’s one super mama juggling a new baby and a new business!  I can’t wait to get my hands on one…!

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4. Alternatively you might want to wear your Mummy title in a more Carrie-Bradshaw inspired style. If so, check out these Mummy chains from Anna Lou of London. You can also get a personalised one, so you could always go for Mother or Mama, if you prefer. Also available in Gold, Silver and Rose Gold.

Mummy necklace5. Every Mama needs a guidebook to help navigate her way through the exhausting, emotional, tumultuous, exhilarating, love-filled journey that is Motherhood. I’m not talking about a Gina Ford military-style how-to-parent handbook, I’m talking about this: How to be a Hip Mama without Losing your Cool.

mothers meetings book

This book, written by Jenny Scott, the original Mum Boss and founder of Mothers Meetings is a total must-have. It covers everything you actually need to know. It’s not about how to parent, it’s about how to keep being you! For any Mama who has ever felt a little lost or overwhelmed, this book is for YOU. Just like Mothers Meetings are, it’s fun, inspiring and motivational.

mothers meetings

6. YES MUM cards. The best £10.50 you’ll ever spend. Fact.

yes mum cards

Recommended by none other than Fearne Cotton, these cards are created by another mega Mum Boss, Hollie De Cruz. Hollie is single-handedly empowering women across the world in birth and motherhood. She runs London Hypnobirthing and is an incredible teacher (I can vouch for her amazingness!). She has recently launched these Yes Mum cards which are like a daily pat on the back and set you up for a better day. They work on the same principle as hypnobirthing affirmations, enabling you to utilise the power of positive programming. Plus they look real pretty. Every Mama needs a pack.

7.  Mama Jyms! Not only are these PJs from The Bright Company super comfy (an important requirement for PJs) but they come in a variety of awesome prints, and are designed by Mum Boss Alienor Falconer. However the best thing of all about these Mama Jyms is that you can get a matching pair for your little one! Thus creating the ultimate #twinningiswinning situation.

the bright company

I have already got a matching pair for myself and my eldest son (which we love) and a matching pair for the two brothers (which is beyond cute). Next up is a three-way coordination attempt. Something for the Christmas list 🙂

8. This one diverges slightly from the theme in that it’s not emblazoned with the words ‘Mother’ or ‘Mama’, but it is made FOR Mums and BY two Mums, so I figure it can still make the list! So without further ado, let me introduce the Mother of all changing bags (see what I did there?!) – the Tiba + Marl Elwood Backpack

tiba + marl elwood

Pictured above is the floral version but there is also a leopard print version and black faux leather option. Plus lots of other styles like the Raf holdall (available in floral, leopard or a black quilted version), the James satchel and the Mabel tote. All come with a change mat and a cross body bag for all your bits and pieces.

I can’t rave about these bags too much. If you’ve ever looked at the sad selection of changing bags available then you’ll know these bags have no competition. Tiba + Marl give changing bags a much-needed face lift but also boost your general wellbeing, because there’s nothing more depressing, for the style-conscious Mother, than having to forfeit your usual handbag to cart around an ugly-assed, wipe-clean, nappy bag.

tiba and marl raf

Also the brand has been launched by two awesome friends and Mum Bosses, Lydia and Anna, one of whom is an ex-Topshop buyer and the other an ex-Kurt Geiger designer. These ladies have serious design credentials and are super nice to boot. TIP: Get one on order now, before they sell out!

9. Don’t Buy Her Flowers – as above, these gifts may not be explicitly Mother branded, but they are designed for Mums, by a Mum. The Mum Boss behind this ingenious business is the lovely Steph Douglas, who featured on my blog a few weeks ago as part of my ‘In the Mother(hood)’ series.

don't buy her flowers

She was inspired to create thoughtful care packages for new Mums after having children herself and being given too many flowers. Also flowers can sometimes be pretty unoriginal, right? I mean they’re nice, of course, but when you’ve just pushed a baby out your vajayjay or undergone serious surgery to birth your child, there are other things you could do with more. Plus keeping a new baby alive is kind of a totally time and thought-consuming thing, so keeping anything else alive is just too much. That’s why the care packages are so brilliant. They are little boxes packed full of lovely things, stuff you really need and will appreciate, like dry shampoo, teabags and much-needed snacks. Buy one for you friend, or yourself. Spread the word.

dont buy her flowers

10. Lastly (and mostly because I like to end things on a nice even number), the original Mama merch, circa 1992, the ultimate Mama bling: the Argos Mum ring!!! Initially decided to include this as a bit of a joke, but now I’m thinking… I could rock one of those.

mum ring

Remember it?? I wonder how many Mothers were given one?! Had to be bestseller in the early 90s.

So there you have it, my round up of the best Mum Stuff (and celebration of Mum Bosses)!! Now it’s time to create a lust list and share with those who may be inclined to treat you… or just treat yourself. You deserve it, Mama 😉 x

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 😉

What I wish I’d known before I became a parent

motherhood

Mother

 

The lovely Clemmie Telford aka @peckham_mamma is the official Queen of Lists and writes one of my favourite blogs on the worldwide web – Mother of All Lists.

Today she has kindly allowed me to feature by way of a GUEST LIST!

So here’s 12 things I wish I’d known before I became a parent… -> MY LIST

Pregnancy Diary – Week 38

pregnancy diary

photo-41

Preparing to meet our water baby

Monday – Iron worries

I mentioned in my previous post how I was totally committed to my planned homebirth, however there is one potential problem that stands between me and my birth pool dream and that is my iron level. It was 10.5 at 28 weeks and I was told to take Spatone twice a day, which I did. However by 36 weeks it had fallen to 9.9. (I have been told that a minimum of 10 is required for homebirth or birthing centre and 11 is preferable). I have now been taking Ferrous Sulphate twice a day and folic acid with orange juice. We have gone from eating kale with every meal (which my partner hated) to steak on a regular basis (which he’s much more happy about). This is after reading the post about nutrition on this blog and learning that we absorb iron much more efficiently from red meat rather than vegetables. My bloods are being checked again this week, at 38 weeks. Fingers crossed it’s risen and all the black poo has been worth it! (YUK).

Tuesday – Baby, be ready soon… please!

‘Babies are born when babies are ready’ is a rather tricky affirmation for me to embrace wholeheartedly as I was induced at almost 42 weeks with my son and I really want to avoid that happening again.  What if baby isn’t ready until after 42 weeks?! I don’t want to battle consultants who want me induced and to start worrying about whether I should follow their advice or not. Of course I want baby to be come when baby is ready…it’s just I really want baby to be ready by 41 weeks!

To help avoid this situation I have started having acupuncture twice a week. I don’t believe acupuncture is going to induce my labour and I don’t believe it will make my body do something my body is not ready to do. But I do believe that acupuncture can remove the obstacles (like stress, tension and worry) that prevent labour from starting. Last week the points used were to improve my blood and for relaxation. I slept really well that night for the first time in ages. My second session was this week and the points used were for ripening the cervix. Since then I have felt a stretching and tenderness down there. Could all be psychosomatic of course (says the skeptic in me).

Wednesday – Wet runs and hot tub fun

Tonight we had our ‘wet run’ – which is like a dry run with the birth pool, only there’s lots of water involved.  My partner inflated and filled the pool (and timed it), and then, because I couldn’t bear to waste all the warm water, we decided to get in and enjoy it! I started off LOVING the pool – it felt like we were sat in our own private hot tub… in the living room!!! But then I started feeling some waves of panic…caused by the dawning realization that in the next few weeks I’m going to be giving birth in this pool!! A human being, is going to come out of my vagina, in this pool, in the next few weeks. It’s mind-blowing and over-whelming. I felt a bit sick so went to bed with my relaxation track.

Thursday – to be present or not to be present?

My son has gone from describing a textbook TV birth – Mum-to-be in bed, on her back, sweaty, red and screaming to imagining a happy, calm, water birth. He asks all kinds of intelligent questions, like how come it won’t drown when it comes out in the water? After I explained how it won’t take its first breath until it’s lifted out into the air, he said he wanted to be there for ‘when it takes its first breath in this life, in our family’. How cute is that?!

We still don’t have a plan in place for what we will do in terms of childcare when I’m in labour. The first issue is timing. If only we could know WHEN in the next 4 weeks the baby is going to come! If it’s the daytime then he could be at school, if it’s the nighttime he could be sleeping. If it’s the school holidays then we could be screwed! Both sets of grandparents live approximately 4 hours drive away, which isn’t ideal/an option. And the second issue is whether or not Oisin should be part of the birth?! He says he wants to be there for when the baby comes out but will I be relaxed if he is and what if things don’t go to plan? What if he finds it distressing and I can’t comfort him or reassure him because I’m in the throes of labour? I really don’t know what is best but I know some sort of decision needs to be made imminently…

The best news today was my iron results came back and homebirth is a GO! It’s gone from 9.9 to 11.3 after just 13 days of iron tablets. perhaps it was the acupuncture!! My midwife seemed a little surprised and I have been having points for improving blood done during my needle sessions! Ooooh, maybe it is possible to poke this baby out 😉

Friday – packing the birth bag

photo-43

Now I’m 38 weeks I’ve decided I really should pack my birth bag – we’ve decided to call it birth bag as I’m hoping to avoid going to hospital. I’ve been gathering bits for weeks but finally got around to packing it all and it’s like the best bag of goodies EVER. I’m genuinely looking forward to when the first surge hits just so I open it. I have a lush new Diptique candle packed, a mini bottle of champers (of course), a new super fluffy towel and dressing gown, new bed socks, jelly babies, galaxy bars, laminated affirmations, a head massager, my luxe silk PJs and a set of L’Occitane toiletries which I’ve saved for months. It’s going to be like Christmas has come early… unless I’m waaay overdue and then it will be like Christmas has come late… and I will probably be massively pissed off.

I’ve also packed the obvious essentials like loads of industrial-sized sanitary pads and a few packs of size 14 pants from Sainsburys, to accommodate the aforementioned nappy-like pads, which I will be more than happy to dispose of ASAP. And of course some men’s t-shirts in size XXL from Primark to wear when in labour. I just don’t like to focus on this darker side of my birthing bag.

Finally, I’ve also got to work on creating a playlist for birthing a baby on Spotify. So far I’ve got a bit of Alt-J, The XX, Hozier, George Ezra and Bastille. Unless it’s a very quick labour (unlikely) I’m going to need to add a few more…

Pregnancy Diary – Week 37

pregnancy diary

10301514_10152524118797472_8889592348655767233_nI remember attending a series of ante-natal classes before my son was born and one being called ‘complications in labour’. The midwife assured us that we were unlikely to experience any of these complications and if we were unlucky enough to, then it would just be the one. Nobody would experience all of the complications discussed. Well, my birth ran like a checklist of everything covered that day, bar the c-section, which I narrowly avoided (my son was delivered vaginally on the operating table in theatre, after I’d consented to an emergency section).

Fast-forward 8 years and I’m feeling a little older, not so much wiser, but certainly less nervous and more confident in my (now surely looser?) cervix’s ability to dilate spontaneously. Also having educated myself through attending some amazing hypnobirthing classes (more on that later), I now believe a lot of what happened with my son’s birth was due to a domino effect of fear, tension, pain, fetal distress and intervention, a pattern which then just continued throughout my 2-day Syntocinon- induced labour.

So determined to make this birth experience memorable for all the right reasons, my partner and I signed up for hypnobirthing classes with Hollie of London Hypnobirthing, which we attended last month, and booked in with the homebirth team at West Middlesex hospital. Clemmie, of Gas and Air blog fame, deserves a big shout out here as she encouraged me to sign up for a homebirth and I’ve not looked back since. The quality of care is superior times a million (!!) and most importantly it just feels right for me.

I used to journey to the hospital, wait 40+ minutes in the waiting room, often with my impatient child, finally see an unknown-to-me midwife for a quick 5-minute check-up and then leave fraught, having forgotten to ask most of the things I’d wanted to know (sound familiar?). I now have a lovely midwife called Natalie who comes round to my house, we have a cuppa, she spends at least an hour with me, responds to text messages with a kiss and generally feels like someone who is my friend and who genuinely cares about me and my birth. I cannot rate the service highly enough.

I will admit when I initially signed up for a homebirth I was thinking I’ve got nothing to lose as I can always change my mind closer to the time. However I am now so committed to my beautiful, romantic, waterbirth at home that I can no longer remember a single reason why I thought hospital might have been a better idea. How things have changed!

But however calm and tranquil I’m imagining the birth will be, the reality right now is quite different! Almost 37 weeks pregnant, still working full time, juggling hypnobirthing homework with birth pool research and with outstanding ‘to do’ lists everywhere, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. But as we prepare to meet our water baby, Clemmie has invited me to share with you what’s going through my head and my heart and what we’re doing to make our birth a positive one.