ANNA AND LESLEY ARE IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Today we have a super special double whammy ‘in the motherhood’ featuring not one, but TWO amazing Mamas! It doesn’t get much more exciting than that around here folks. Lesley and Anna are mamas first and foremost but also the founders of Lara & Ollie, a teething jewellery brand. Their colourful baby-friendly beads and bangles are great for teething babes to gnaw on and are fast becoming the accessory of choice for stylish mamas.

I have had the pleasure of meeting this lovely mum duo now in real offline life and more recently I had the honour of ‘modelling’ for them, evidence of which can be found on the Lara & Ollie website (don’t laugh)! Their candid interview which you can read below brought actual tears to my eyes; it is so refreshing and eye opening and made me want to squeeze each of my children tight and thank my lucky stars.

Here they share what is it like to struggle to conceive and how it feels to become a parent at long last to the child of your dreams…

**Readers of the blog are being treated to 20% off with the code THEDOUBLEMAMA**

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Name: Anna Wicks & Lesley Newsholme

Age: 37 & 41

Location: Lee, South East London

Number of Kids: 1 each (at the moment)

Names and ages of aforementioned: Lara & Ollie, both aged 2

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

Anna: Very much planned. 3 years, lots of tests (no identified problems), lots ‘not pregnant’ peeing on sticks so we chose to brave the IVF route. 3 rounds of IVF later we were blessed with pregnancy and an awesome little girl called Lara. And we’re braving it all again at the moment… big eek.

Lesley: Planned… 4 years in the making! 4 failed pregnancies, followed by a diagnosis of an early menopause, followed by a failed first round of IVF. Ollie was the result of our second round of IVF using an egg donor.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Anna: Massive massive relief after the hideous ‘2 week wait’. We’d also agreed we’d stop at 3 IVF rounds so it was kind of our last chance. But also petrified – we were only 3 weeks pregnant and has such a long journey ahead.

Lesley: Elation, relief, tears and huge anxiety that it would not result in an actual baby again.

How did you tell your partner?

Anna: I made him go and read the test so he knew before I did!

Lesley: He was there when I peed on the stick!

His reaction?

Anna: Speechless – and happy. He’s such a level headed person he didn’t get too excited and kept me calm

Lesley: Same as mine

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

Anna: Luckily I glowed – no sickness, no tiredness, no water retention, I didn’t become a hormonal bitch (although I’m sure some people might disagree!)

Lesley: Glow – All my back pain (which I’ve suffered from for years) just took a hike for 9 months it was bloody marvellous!

Tell me about your birth experience? 

Anna: Lara was born in the labour ward at Lewisham hospital. My labour was pretty good really. I laboured quickly so no time for drugs or faffing around as I was fully dilated when I got to hospital. But she got stuck so I had to have an epidural, forceps etc. But we didn’t care, we just wanted her out safely. It was just my husband and I, then as soon as we were in the ward our families all rocked up together liked an emotional bunch of excited teenagers – it was really special. All straightforward, home the next day. Then discovered they had left a swab inside me which was pretty gross so rushed back in for another night – that wasn’t so fun. Long and boring story but resulted a full maternity department investigation, interviews and the works. And processes have been changed at the hospital because of it. We didn’t take it any further. The care we got was amazing and we were all fine.

Lesley: Unfortunately for us there won’t be a next time for us and I kinda feel sad that I won’t get to experience an amazingly calm and relaxing birth… It was fairly awful. My waters broke a week before he was born, but was told they hadn’t when I went to the birthing centre so was sent home! That resulted in an infection and a bubba with a high heart rate so I got whisked out of the birthing pool after only an hour and taken to the labour ward. After pushing for what felt like a lifetime with baby not even fully engaged, exhaustion kicked in and I had an epidural and a forceps delivery. When he was plonked on top of me the relief and joy we felt was immeasurable, and the pain of not only the previous 48 hours, but the pain of the almost 5 year struggle just vanished. It also made us not really care that much that we were burgled while I was giving birth… The fact I had to spend the next five nights in prisoner cell block 5 (AKA the Maternity Ward) was more annoying than our stuff getting nicked!

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Anna: Awesome, miraculous, exhausting and a massive rollercoaster from one day, minute and second to the next.

Lesley: Hands down the best job in the world!

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Can you share any highlights?

Anna & Lesley: Literally every day is filled with funny little moments – but probably only funny to us! We see each other most days and some of the things Lara and Ollie say and do cracks us up!!

Can you share any low points?

Anna: In Sainos a few weeks ago; after negotiating over pulling the wheelie trolly, nearly taking out old people with said wheelie trolly, running off at speed down the booze isle and trying to take everything in the naughty aisles I let her mess around in the buggy while I had 20 secs of peace to pay. Obvs she fell out backwards and hit her head hard. Cue a lot of screaming and a huge egg on her head. Then about 2 hrs later she was helping me cook standing on her stool and burnt her arm on the hot saucepan. Wasn’t a great day and felt very guilty about being such a rubbish mum. Until my mum reassured me by relaying a few similar stories!

Lesley: Ollie is the kamikaze king! So there have been a few bumps and scrapes for which I feel totally awful about. The worst one being when he face planted into a blunt chunk of metal in a play area and two of his teeth went through his bottom lip- right through to the other side, even leaving marks on his chin… Blood everywhere, a trip to A&E and a referral to a Maxillofacial (the fancy word for facial reconstruction) Consultant. He’s still got a lump of scar tissue, and every time I look at it I think ‘yep, my fault’.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Anna: Work, work, work. Oh and eat, of course. And try to have a quick conversation with my husband before he works too. Because we have no daytime childcare during the week it’s quite difficult to get anything done in the day for our teething jewellery business so nights and nap times are our only chance. Masses of admin – emails, DMs, customer stuff, organising ourselves for events, trade fairs bla bla, not to mention making and packaging products in an attempt to keep up with demand.

Lesley: werk werk werk on our little biz – ditto to everything Anna says!

Tell me about your business…

Anna/Lesley: We set up a silicone teething jewellery business called Lara & Ollie when the kids were a year old. When we became mums we put all our costume jewellery away and when we found teething jewellery we thought it was a brilliant idea, but couldn’t find anything we liked. So we sourced some beads, made our own and the rest is history…! Our aim is to help mamas feel stylish again and dress up an every day outfit with something fun – that also happens to be safe for a baby to chew and fiddle with.

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How to juggle it all?

Anna/Lesley: It’s a tough one trying to build a business with toddlers as they never sit still. Ever. But as we live close to each other we throw the kids in the garden with all their toys and talk shop as we supervise/break up arguments. We get together almost every day so talk shop whilst we’re Sainsbury’s, en route to play groups and have a ridiculous amount of Whatsapp chat as we think of ideas, remember things we need to do etc. It’s a massive juggle because we also try not to let it take over our primary jobs as mamas. However we’re super ambitious and excited about what we’re creating so sometimes it’s hard to just put it to one side and concentrate on being mamas.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Anna: Unconditional love from someone who doesn’t judge. Then there’s the laughter and silliness and the incredible sponge that a 2 year old is. She remembers everything and is so inquisitive and interested in the world – it’s amazing. Seeing her unconditionally love her daddy and having so much fun with him too that’s pretty special. And being a family unit – love it when the 3 of us hang out.

Lesley: So many best bits I don’t know where to begin… The unconditional love, the kisses, the cuddles – Ollie gives the best cuddles ever. And after the journey we’ve been on just being a family – the 3 of us together – I’m grateful for that every day.

What are the worst bits?

Anna: At the moment the constant negotiation to do anything – from getting dressed, leaving the house, getting in the bath. Then there’s the eating. How can someone be that fussy about food that is so yummy. Oh and the terrible 2s tantrums – oh the drama!!

Lesley: yeah he still doesn’t sleep 2 years on! Small price to pay though.

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Anna: The worry – not all the time but worrying about their safety, injuries and the world she’s going to grow up into – the Internet in particular

Lesley: For me there is absolutely nothing harder than wanting to be a mum and not being able to fulfil that dream, so I find this really hard to answer. Yes there are tough moments, but they pass and are soon and easily forgotten.

What was the biggest surprise that you wish you’d be warned about/known before becoming a Mama?

Anna: that everything really is a phase and you worry like hell, then it passes and you’re onto the next phase/challenge and have forgotten all about the previous one.

Lesley: You can survive on very little sleep… for a very long time!

If someone agreed to mind your kid(s) for a week what would you do?

Anna: Go skiing with hubby – but in a 5 star luxury spa hotel so I could awesome food, amazing wine and a bit of pampering too.

Lesley: Worry about Ollie for a week!!

Is there anything you’d like to share with new mums / mums to be that you wish you’d known?

Anna: Breastfeeding is frikkin hard work and you’ve got to be dedicated, strong and determined – not easy when you’re sleep deprived and have no clue what to do with this small person! And everything is a stage. It passes, then there is another stage!

Lesley: Nothing is as straightforward as the books suggest… All babies are different and just because one does one thing at a certain age doesn’t mean yours will too. Take sleep for instance… Lara slept through from about 12 week, Ollie however only managed it at 14 months (and has since regressed!!!).

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

Anna: My bag was in the car until I was back in the ward so was chuff all use – I just drank a lot of water. Our NCT group had lengthy conversations about what we were going to wear to give birth in. Comedy!

Lesley: Ah those comedy conversations about what to wear in hospital!!.. You really don’t need to sweat it about maternity nightwear!

What’s been your best baby product?

Anna: Stokke Tripp Trapp (totally didn’t copy Cat on this one but massively agree with her). It’s amazing. A few family members said we were mad spending so much money but it’s worth every penny and more. And looks lovely!

Lesley: A sleepyhead baby pod – although it didn’t make him sleep through we certainly got more sleep after buying one. Then there’s the Kokoso coconut oil – it’s like a miracle cream for everything from nappy rash to cradle cap. Also a digital thermometer – boring but takes the ‘oooo did I do it right/for long enough etc etc’ out of temperature taking.

What was really useful in the early days?

Anna: Biscuits, cake, hubby and my mum – phoned her at least once a day to ask what the hell to do (still do ha ha!)

Lesley: Coffee and my other half (both still are!)

Did you make any baby-related /pregnancy hormone induced purchases that you regretted / were a total waste of money?

Lesley: That flipping sheep that claims it will help your baby sleep!

Anna: That frikkin sheep was ace – we loved it and Lara slept with it singing lullabies for months ha ha!!!!

What’s your ultimate mum product? 

Anna/Lesley: Our Lara & Ollie teething jewellery. Obvs!!!

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How many children do you dream of having?

Anna: Really hope we can have a sibling for Lara. And then that’s it. I don’t think I could cope with any more than 2 and frankly our bank balance couldn’t either!

Lesley: One was a dream come true

If you could go back to your pre-child life, where you weren’t so tired, for a short period of time, what would you do?

Anna: Travel

Lesley: Go travelling again

What do you miss about life before kids?

Anna: I genuinely don’t miss anything. Ok maybe not having our house overtaken by toys, but I even like that! I get really annoyed when people constantly moan about parenting and their kids. When you’ve been faced with the possible prospect of not being able to have a family you feel grateful every day. And I’m definitely not saying it’s easy, it’s bloody hard work – way harder than a high powered career but it’s also a lot more rewarding and you get so much more back. Parenting is a choice!

Lesley: Nada

What do you love most about being a Mum?

Anna: So much – I don’t know where to begin!

Lesley: Unconditional love and all the cuddles as a starter for 10. I could go on and on and on!

What do you wish you were better at when it comes to parenting?

Anna: I wish I had more patience. My fuse is so short and I wish I could be better at taking a deep breath and letting things go. Luckily my husband is very patient so he’s trying to coach me!

Lesley: Ha ha – more patience.

 

Thank you ladies for being so open, I’m sure your respective journeys to motherhood will resonate with a lot of women and give hope to those who are going through similar struggles. And for those of us out there who’ve not had this experience, thank you for reminding us how very lucky we are because on the hard days, I for one can sometimes forget.

Finally Anna and Lesley are kindly offering readers of the blog a cool 20% off any Lara & Ollie purchases using the code THEDOUBLEMAMA. Happy shopping peeps!

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When did I become a Maverick Mum?

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So when Not On The High Street contacted me asking me if I wanted to join their #MaverickMum campaign because they thought I represented the ‘anti-supermum revolution’ and was a perfect fit for their campaign and brand, I was simultaneously honoured to have been contacted, perplexed by the meaning of ‘Maverick Mum’ and confused as to whether this should be taken as a compliment or an insult to my mothering skills?! (Obviously I wasn’t really insulted…).

Honoured, because hey it’s NOTHS contacting me and wanting to work with me and because being a ‘Maverick Mum’ sounds pretty damn cool (don’t you agree that ‘maverick’ is such an awesome-sounding word?!), perplexed because what exactly is a Maverick Mum?! And confused because is being a ‘perfectly imperfect’ mother a good thing?! Why am I seen as an anti-Supermum? Can’t I just be a regular Supermum?! sob sob.

But of course I’m not the stereotypical Supermum they’re alluding to; I don’t bake, I barely clean, I don’t make playdough and only very occasionally do I make shit out of cardboard boxes (and even then my eldest expresses actual surprise that I have any craft skills whatsoever). I don’t iron. I juggle work with childcare; I work late into the night most nights so that I can ‘be around’ in the day but sometimes think my baby might be better off in a nursery with me working 9-5pm rather than spending the day playing with paperclips under my desk. I feed my baby fishfingers. I get by trying to give my kids good experiences, trying to have fun, trying maintain a relationship and most importantly trying not to fu*k the whole parenting thing up so badly that my kids end up in therapy. So yeah NOTHS got it right. I suppose I do inadvertently represent this so-called ‘anti-supermum revolution’. But actually I think I’m just representative of real-life, unfiltered, everyday mums. #NorMum as someone on Instagram cleverly put it.

I don’t get it all ‘right’, I’m certainly not perfect… but I don’t really try to be either. I’m happy to admit I’m just winging it. I have so little interest in what I or my baby should be doing that this time round I’ve not read a single ‘how to’ style parenting book (and that’s quite liberating!). I don’t even really know what milestones my baby should be reaching at what age. I just let him get on with it in his own time… (then wonder if perhaps I should look into it since he’s 14 months+ and doesn’t walk or talk!!)

 

I looked up the definition of ‘Maverick’ for some clarity and the wonderful world wide web told me this: an unorthodox or independent-minded person.

 

When I consider my motherhood journey (it’s been almost a decade now since I first fell pregnant!!) in terms of maverickness, I think that although I might now be independent-minded, I certainly haven’t always been…

With my first baby, I was the total opposite. I was the anti-maverick and totally dependent on what every other person had to say about how to raise my baby. I was what you might called a text book mother, doing it all by the Gina Ford book. That’s not to say I was perfect at all. In fact it’s probably more accurate to acknowledge that I was borderline mental; I was an anxious nervous wreck! I was convinced I was going to do something wrong with catastrophic consequence. The responsibility of having to keep a tiny, fragile, human being safe 24/7 was overwhelming. Being just 21 years old and many hours away from any family support did not help.

I persevered with breastfeeding even though one nipple was literally hanging off and my baby was vomiting up blood that he had drunk from my bleeding breast. Vile I know. All because everyone and all the books had told me ‘breast was best’. I don’t think any sane person would consider a half-severed nipple to be best for any party.  Then I was utterly convinced my baby would spontaneously stop breathing at night and so I used to set my alarm hourly to check on him, as well as use one of those sensor pads which sat under his mattress and would go off if it didn’t detect him breathing. None of this is Maverick. I read every book. I cooked all the vegetables and pureed the life out of them. I followed the guides on how to raise babies to the last letter. So maybe I was what you’d call a ‘good’ Mum, but did I enjoy being a Mama?! I don’t think I left any time for that.

Second time round and a good many years later, with not only the experience of raising a baby through the toddler years, the tantrums, the potty training and the primary school transition, but having done it all by myself as a young single parent, I felt totally differently going into Motherhood Round 2.

This time I’ve not read a single guide, I introduced a bottle (shoot me) and the devil’s milk (aka formula – lols) when I needed to, and I still haven’t started taking my 1 year old to a music class. It’s not just that I am so much more relaxed this time but I have enjoyed being a Mum so much more. In fact I have loved having a newborn and it hasn’t been stressful at all. I have cut myself all of the slack and just followed my instinct. And I guess that my now independent-minded approach to motherhood does make me a Maverick Mum by definition. And I’m happy and proud to be seen as a Maverick Mum because being a textbook mum was no fun at all.

And although I worry that sometimes my baby is somewhat neglected as I juggle everything and fed just a tad too much junk, I also know that he is way more chilled and contented than my firstborn who must have felt the anxiety that oozed from pores, even whilst I fed him his mushed-up organic risotto that I’d lovingly prepared. My second born, albeit with a fish finger in hand, is in contrast being raised by a confident and happy Mum, and I think that makes a profound and positive difference.

So to finish, I just want to say that of course not all first time mums are going to be like I was (many will be confident, capable and chilled out from the start), but I have a strong suspicion that many will feel like I did. And so I want these Mamas to know as they scroll through Instagram, which is saturated by heavily-filtered snapshots from the lives of seemingly confident and super-capable women, that it’s ok to not feel very Maverick. In fact it’s more than ok, it’s pretty normal. And I want all the new Mamas reading this, who are finding things hard, to know that it does get better and it does get easier.

It’s a frickin’ tough gig being a parent for the first time and finding yourself wholly responsible for the life of this precious fragile thing, that you care so deeply about. The weight of that responsibility is heavy. But know that it passes and you will find your own stride eventually. You might not start out on this mothering journey feeling very maverick, but sure enough a little down the line, when you’ve found your own rhythm and grown in confidence, well, then I think all Mums are #MaverickMums and bloody (anti-supermum) bona-fide Superwomen too!!

 

If you want to jump on board and join the #MaverickMum campaign AND be in with a chance of winning £500 of vouchers to spend at notonthehighstreet.com (whoop!) then just see below…

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Finally, if you’ve enjoyed reading this post it would be totally mega (and massively appreciated) if you could spare a couple seconds to vote for me here. I’ve been nominated by Closer Magazine for their Mum Blogger of the Year award 2016. It literally take just two clicks: one on the link to vote and one by the name of my blog (The Double Mama). Thank you!! x

New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

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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…

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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!

 

 

 

HAYLEY’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Meet Hayley. She’s the owner of Southwood Stores which, if you’re not already familiar, is the kind of online shop where you want to buy everything on offer. She’s also the woman behind cool clothing label Gray by Southwood Stores, which celebrates strong women. She’s an original, real-deal Mum Boss and even once owned an ice cream van! She’s Mum to two boys (one of whom is already an adult) AND she’s been married for 20 years (woweee). Oh, and I almost forgot to mention; she’s not yet 40.

Read what this amazing Mama has to say about her experience of Motherhood…

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Name: Hayley Southwood

Location: Whaddon, Bucks

Number of kids: 2 boys

Names and ages: Jake age 16, Callum age 18

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

All I ever wanted was my own family. As a teenager if I’m brutally honest this was my ambition… To have a proper family. That’s where it all started. I met my beautiful hubby when I was 15 and he was 17. My dream was to get married and start a family. I wouldn’t choose this path for my boys but Paul and I created a family that we are so proud of. We got married when I was 20 and I had Callum at 21.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

We were all over the moon, my Mum was bloody brilliant about it now I look back. She had told me you can make mistakes at 20, 30 or 40 and as long as I was happy she was happy. My Dad who wasn’t in my life very much had very different opinions. That I shouldn’t settle down and I should travel. At 20 there was no way I was brave enough to travel. My boys are brave and strong at 18 and 16 and been off around the country because they have a stable strong upbringing. It wasn’t like that for me.

What was it like having your children young?

Being married and having my boys young has given me confidence in my abilities. My husband studied whilst we had babies and got his masters degree. I opened my nursery school at age 25. Determined to give my boys a good, solid, secure life. I worked around my boys but was always there to drop them and pick them up from school.

What is it like now?

I still work so I’m home when they get in just so I can make a cup of tea with them and here them moan about their day. We like it this way.

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What was pregnancy and labour like for you?

Being pregnant was the best thing, I bloody loved it. Apart from the stretch marks, my size 8 child like body got stretched so bad. My tummy bled every day. My boys were pretty huge! 8lb 10oz, and 9lb 7oz.

Labour was beautiful with the first born, I’d say period pains. The second bloody awful, he was huge and facing the wrong way. I used gas and air for my second baby!!!!!

What’s the best bit of being a Mama?

Watching them grow into young men has been amazing, truly amazing and I feel very privileged to be their Mum.

We are a team, we work it out together and I’m sure we’ve all said things we didn’t mean but I’m so proud of my little family. They have given me the confidence and determination to start all of my businesses.

My eldest still calls me MAMA when he’s being nice!! The youngest won’t let me get out the car when I collect him from school. Life is just the way we like it!!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I own Southwood Stores and blog at Breathe Happiness.

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Massive thank you to Hayley for sharing her experiences! What an inspiration!! Be sure to check out her store, you won’t regret it (although your credit card might) and visit her blog, Breathe Happiness.

If you’d like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please get in touch by emailing thedoublemama@gmail.com.

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

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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!

IMG_9032

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…!

mama_chain_in_gold_gold-2

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

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 😉

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