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

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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 😉

Perks of a having a Pre-pre-teen

motherhood

 

  pre-teen girl     IMG_6163

You survive the early years; the no sleep; the fear; the colic; the reflux; the tears; the weaning; the tantrums; the potty training; the sick in the hair; the wee on the carpet; the food being thrown all over the damn place; the korma poo from tip to toe; the frustration; the crawling; the toddling; the accidents; the trips to A&E and then you emerge wiping yourself down with a pre-pre-teen. And by God, it’s GOOD.

I know that the teenage years will come around too soon and then he’s likely to turn into an angsty horror with doors being slammed, swear words being thrown, sneaking out at night, me driving around trying to track him down, fearing for his safety, and of course the whole not loving/liking me– that’s going to hurt. But right now, this transitional period, where he’s more of a help than a hindrance, is pretty sweet.

Here’s why…

This list has been a collaborative effort by myself and midwife/mama extraordinaire Clemmie of Gas&Air fame – both of us Mothers to 8-year-old pre-pre-teens.

1. He’s an early riser so he makes me a cup of tea, almost every day.

2. Sometimes he makes me breakfast too!

3. She makes breakfast for her little sister

4. He can make a sandwich for himself (and me)– a good one.

5. He looks after his little brother so I can cook dinner, take a shower, have a rest

6. She takes her little sister downstairs leaving M&D to have a lie-in

7. He fetches me things

8. He fetches his own things

9. She does jobs for me

10. She can use the sky remote without my help

11. He remembers stuff that I forget – like what day it is or where my keys are

12. He tells me interesting things he’s learnt at school that I don’t know

13. He doesn’t need me to wipe his bum or dress him

14. She ties her little sister’s shoelaces

15. She does her little sister’s seatbelt up

16. He doesn’t need me to keep a constant eye on him

17. He reads to himself (phonics can be pretty frustrating)

18. She reads bedtime stories to her little sister

19. He writes me sweet messages and leaves little notes for me

20. He promises me he will never leave home or get a girlfriend or want to go travelling without me

21. He makes me promise I will always live with him

22. He gives proper hugs

23. He gives compliments, fashion advice, life advice.

24. He tells me I look like a teenager (!!)

25. I can read his writing and make sense of his school work

26. We can hang out and it not totally exhausting

27. We can go watch feature-length films together and we don’t have to leave the cinema half-way through

28. We can go out for dinner and it’s actually enjoyable

29. He can read and order from the menu, making his own decisions without coaxing or force

30. He’s funny, like real funny with an actual sense of humour

31. We have shared interests – such as listening to Hozier and singing along (he knows all the words) etc.

32. He can make his bed and tidy his room

33. He puts the washing away

34. He hoovers

35. He can ride his bike for miles

36. He can ski as fast as me

Keep cool and don’t lose your shit

motherhood

Top Tips to Survive the Heatwave with Kids…

                     baby in sink   heatwave gro egg
                     breastfeeding baby   BABY BATH

 

    1. Binks binks binks – that’s ‘baths in sinks’… For the baby, obviously. After breakfast, after lunch, after dinner. All day long.
    2. Frozen frubes – homemade fro yo on the quick and easy.
    3. Fan – went and bought one (John Lewis click and collect = AMAZING). Dreamt of stylish silent Dyson – reality is a noisy white plastic monstrosity but, you know, it works… and it was like 30 quid, not 300.
    4. Water melons – kids love them, adults love them, healthy and hydrating – everyone’s a winner!
    5. On the topic of melons; Boobies! Having been neglected since I started weaning the Bear a few weeks ago, they’re suddenly back in demand. Feed on little one!
    6. Water guns – they’ve been given the green light. Cue lots of noisy, naked children having a whale of a time.
    7. Baby in a Bin (new entry) – yep, filled a bin with cool water and squished one hot sweaty baby in. He loved it. Also, couldn’t drown because he couldn’t move.***
    8. Finally, unexpected entry: Bikinis! That’s right Mamas! Strip off and EMBRACE your hot, amazing, postpartum bod! Any residual Mum chubb is going to look a million times better tanned. You know it’s true. So go get #MUMBATHING

*** HE WAS NOT LEFT ALONE. NEVER LEAVE A BABY UNATTENDED IN/NEAR/ON WATER. THEY COULD FIND A WAY TO DROWN EVEN IF YOU THINK IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!