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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CAT’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

OMG!! We’ve only got Cat Bloody Sims IN THE MOTHER FREAKING HOOD!! If you’re a fan of the blog Not So Smug Now (no bullshit baby tales) you’ll know who Cat is and if you’re yet to become acquainted (what the hell are you waiting for?!), let me tell you about Cat… She’s got great hair, proper platinum blonde, unlike my past attempts to go blonde. She’s married to a real life ROCK STAR. Her daughter has a wicked name (but then what child with rockstar parents doesn’t?!). She’s funny and candid and clever and massively supportive of the sisterhood. She’s a brilliant writer and it’s a total honour to be able to feature her here. So read on people and find out what makes this Mama tick…

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Name: Cat Sims

Age: 34

Location: Harrow, London (just)

Number of Kids: 1 so far…

Names and ages of aforementioned: Billie Scout Sims (2yrs)

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

Definitely planned but not the easy ride we thought it would be. Between a distinct lack of ovulating and a husband on tour…we were lucky to get any time to bump uglies, let alone manage to do it at the right time!

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Elated, terrified, disbelieving. The usual…

How did you tell your partner?

I think I screamed it through the bathroom door while he was on the loo. Totes romantic.

His reaction?

Elated, terrified, disbelieving. The usual…

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

I spent the first twelve weeks writhing in nausea-induced agony and throwing up into McDonald’s cups as I drove up the M40 to work. After that I felt great but never benefitted from the ‘great hair, great nails, great skin’ thing. I did get some AMAZING varicose veins though, so that was nice.

Tell me about your birth experience…

It wasn’t ideal. I thought I was prepared but when the time came I was woefully unprepared, especially emotionally. I was frightened by the power of labour and definitely suffered from an overdose of adrenaline. Labour was laborious and progressed painfully slowly – because of my fear and panic, I felt I was fighting labour and birth rather than embracing it. Billie was back-to-back which made it longer, slower, more painful and my dream of a water birth in the birthing centre quickly evaporated when I lost my strength and will and decided to have an epidural. In the end, that was the best decision I could have made at the time but it meant that I felt powerless and out of control and scared. Next time, I’m hypnobirthing and home-birthing my way through it.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. And ‘love’…lashings of love.

Can you share any highlights?

The moment my daughter turned around to me while I was being super snarky to her dad in the car and said, “Mama, don’t be a dick.” It’s a mantra in our house (amongst the grown ups!) and I remember being shocked and then thinking, “Well, if that’s the philosophy she leaves our house with I’m ok with that.” We possibly could have phrased it better, but in the end, if you live your life thinking, “Just don’t be a dick” then there are worse guiding principles. Plus, she was right, I was being a dick.

Can you share any low points?

Not catching Billie as she plumetted face first on the concrete and broke a front tooth. Trapping her fingers in the front door. Epic fails.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Clean the house. I can’t do anything else until the house is clean so I spend the first 30-45 mins straightening everything out. After that, I’ll work, or read Grazia, or look at my phone. Who am I kidding…I pretty much look at my phone.

Tell me about your blog…

I started Not So Smug Now: No Bullshit Baby Tales when Billie was about nine months. At first it was just therapy, you know? I couldn’t find any blogs that were reflecting my experience which was positive but hard, really hard. I wanted to create a space where people felt safe to say “those first few months were the hardest of my life” without being called a bad parent, or a depressed parent. I wanted to create a place where there was no judgement – I didn’t care whether you breastfed or bottle fed your baby, whether you used Pampers or cloth nappies hand spun from the pubic hair of mythical elves hiding deep in the Himalayas…I felt that, regardless of our parenting choices, we were all women and all in this together. Parenting for me is like cage-fighting – there are no rules, we do what we need to do to survive.

I wanted to sidestep the competition, the way we had been pitted against each other seemed unnatural and unhelpful. Thankfully, through the blog I discovered a host of likeminded women who inspire me daily. There’s definitely a change in the air – the sisterhood is growing daily. It’s pretty cool to be a (pretty small) part of.

Tell me about your biz…

Last year I launched a consultancy company called Hustle + Fox with my business partner and all-round awesome lady, Gayle Haddock (owner of Carnaby Street baby boutique Carry Me Home). We had really complimentary skills – she was an expert when it came to the business side of launching products, developing brands and building businesses. All my experience was within pr and marketing, writing and social media. We both had great networks through the blog and the shop and when we came together we were able to really help and support new companies trying to create their own empires.

I’m really proud of the fact that many of the companies we work with are started by mums and dads – it’s awesome to see them create amazing companies in the spaces between their ‘real’ jobs, family, naps, nappy changes. You know? That takes real hutzpah and we get to be surrounded by their creativity and enthusiasm every day. That’s pretty inspiring.

How you juggle the logistics of raising children with work?

It’s never easy. Inevitably you end up feeling like you’re not giving 100% to being a mum or running a business. I’m lucky in some ways because my husband is a musician which means that when he’s home, he’s home 100% meaning we can parent 50/50. The downside is that when he’s on tour, I’m a single-working parent living a hundred miles away from my nearest family member. That’s tough, but we make it work. You just do what you have to do.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Having a buddy. Billie has a wicked sense of humour. I love seeing her personality develop and she makes me laugh everyday. It’s also opened up a whole new world to me of amazing mamas that have become friends. It’s also made me less selfish, more compassionate and way more chilled. I have perspective now.

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What are the worst bits?

The laundry. Hangovers. Sleep deprivation. A useless pelvic floor.

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Managing the guilt. Am I doing enough? Am I being enough? Am I giving enough? It’s an endless internal battle.

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

Ha! The million dollar question! That transition from ‘me’ to ‘mama’ was the hardest one I’ve ever made. I’m sure people tried to tell me but you can’t hear it, you just can’t comprehend what that will feel like until you hoof a baby out of your woo-woo and bring it home and look at it and think, “What the fuck now?” For me, it was overwhelming. I don’t know if that makes me different or just willing to be open about it, but I wish there was some way of preparing women fully for that.

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

I’d pack a bag for myself and my husband and go to a fabulous beach. I know it’s not very original, but I’d spend a week in a bikini, drinking cocktails from 11am, reading books, eating fresh seafood, taking long walks and sleeping. Oh and we’d have sex. Lots of it. I fantasise about that week daily.

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

Yes. Rest. Don’t feel like you have to entertain. Batten down the hatches for the first ten days and stay in bed, watch movies, snuggle with the family and bond. Don’t let anyone in that hasn’t brought food and don’t feel the need to get up for anyone. Just be…there’s so much time to race around and make meals and host guests and do it all on 3 hours sleep that those first few days are the only chance you get to be entirely selfish. Make the most of it.

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

Obviously, pack all those boring essentials that are on every list but make it something special too. Pack brand new, gorgeous jammies, a bag of special gorgeous products to wash with afterwards. That kind of stuff. You’ll need some pampering after labour and it’ll feel great to treat yourself. Oh and lip balm. My lips got so dry!

What’s been your best baby product? 

From the day she was born I used all the Naty products. Everything else either dried her out or was full of crap…but the Naty products were amazing everytime. Also, we bought the Stokke Trip-Trapp which at the time I was furious about – why didn’t we just get the IKEA one!? – but now that she’s still using it as an adjustable chair and will continue to use it I can’t recommend it enough. I’d buy another one for a second baby.

What was really useful in the early days?

My Connecta sling. Super easy to use, super comfortable, small enough to shove in a bag, not bulky. Best buy ever.

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

Not really but only because we were renovating a house at the time so there was literally no spare money to splurge. My husband would probably disagree.

What’s your ultimate mum product? 

Anything at all that makes my face look acceptable. The Garnier BB cream works wonders for me. And trainers. Since becoming a mum I’m all about the trainers.

Who inspires you?

Oh…so many to mention. I’ve been so fortunate to meet so many amazing women – mostly through Mothers Meeting (thanks Jenny Scott!). I never thought motherhood could be so damn awesome. I was pretty much resigned to a life of soggy custard creams and manky soft-play but along came women like Anna from Mother Pukka, Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers, Zoe from Dress Like a Mum, Clemmie T from Mother of All Lists, Clemmie H from Gas and Air, Hollie from London Hypnobirthing and of course yourself. These women are almost singlehandedly changing the face of motherhood with compassion and sisterhood but with a shit load of humour too. And booze obvs.

How many children do you dream of having?

I’m going to be done with two. I know my limits!

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?

Start a business. I wish I’d know how efficient I could be. It’s only since becoming a mother that I realise I can do what used to take me all week in a day. I’d literally be running the world by now if I’d known my own potential!

What do you miss about life before kids?

With a little bit of planning you can pretty much do everything you did before, it’s just harder to organise you know? I guess spontaneity. Just being able to do things because we feel like it.

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

Playing. I’m pretty terrible at maintaining interest in building blocks or having make-believe tea-parties. I wish I was better at it but it’s really not my strength. I’m much better at planing adventures, getting out of the house, that kind of thing. Thankfully my husband is amazing at the play thing so he has that covered.

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MAHOUSIVE THANKS to Cat for not only taking part but answering ALL the questions! I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading her answers as much as I did… Make sure you check out her blog Not So Smug Now (if you haven’t already) and of course if you’ve got a small biz that you’re trying to grow then get in touch with Cat via Hustle + Fox and I’ve no doubt she’ll be able to work her magic.

If you’d like to take part and feature here, In The Mother Hood, I’d love to hear from you! Just email thedoublemama@gmail.com 🙂

 

 

Top Blog Dogs

motherhood

I LOVE reading blogs. I have my own and obviously enjoy writing it but my all-time favourite thing to do is read all the amazing blogs out there. To sit down with a cup of tea and some time to myself and read… pure bliss. I used to love reading books, but to get through a full-on novel is too ambitious now; I’d have forgotten how it started by the time I got to the end. Blogs are bite-sized perfect though.

When I’m particularly busy the lists of posts that I desperately want to read grows and then I have to set aside designated blog-reading time to get through them (I keep a list in iPhone notes so I don’t forget!). So that’s what I did this morning and I was not disappointed. I thought I’d share these fab five so you can check them out too if you’re not already an avid follower/subscriber…

 

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This blog, written by the wonderful Cat Sims aka @notsosmugnow, promises ‘no bullshit baby tales’ and is truly brilliant. No attempt made by my tired brain to explain why would be adequately descriptive. You just need to read it, but make sure you schedule a good hour because every single post is an all-out winner.

The latest post tackles the subject of depression and is beautifully written, raw and honest, as is everything else on the blog. If you’re a Mum, unless you have somehow found this whole mothering / being-totally-responsible-for-another-human-being-24/7 thing a complete breeze (anyone??), then you’re going to relate and nod knowingly and enthusiastically as you read your way through the back catalogue of this blog.

Visit the blog here.

 

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This blog written by Clemmie Telford aka @peckham_mamma is equally brilliant but also completely different. The format of choice is always a list and so the posts are super quick to read, which is just perfect when you’re reading on your phone whilst simultaneously spooning weetabix into your baby’s mouth, throwing tea down your own throat and scanning the contents of your other son’s bag to make sure he has everything he needs for school, swimming and tag rugby (yes he does all 3 activities on the same day).

The latest post is a guest post and I warn you it’s so emotive that I had to stop reading half way through to take a break before I broke down. Disclaimer: I am 30 weeks pregnant so an over-emotional hormonal wreck of a human at present. Clemmie does a great job of mixing it up though and most of the posts will have you crying with laughter as opposed to heartbreak.

Visit the blog here.

 

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I cannot believe that I have only just started vlogs! I don’t know, am I behind the times???! Tell me I’m not. Please…!

Anyway I just have spent a great proportion of the morning watching these vlogs from the gorgeous Emma (and that’s not a throwaway adjective – take a look yourself). Emma aka @mamalinauk vlogs about all things motherhood but her YouTube channel is super organised and you can choose to watch anything from ‘How To’ videos to product reviews. She has posted a series of vlogs with each one offering 10 tips on a specific aspect of mothering. You can also watch vlogs that chart her pregnancy journey and her extensive travels (she’s off backpacking to Costa Rica this week with toddler and baby bump in tow! Yes, proper amazing mental). They are all just a few minutes long so suit my limited attention span / time-poor self down to the ground. I am now addicted. And also googling far-flung destinations…

Visit her YouTube channel here.

 

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Hollie aka @theyesmummum the powerhouse behind London Hypnobirthing and the woman responsible for introducing Hypnobirthing to the masses (myself included) AND the brains behind Yes Mum cards has started blogging again (must be because she has so much spare time on her hands). Anyway I for one am very happy that she has because she is an actual fountain of knowledge. She has tips for better sleep, info on independent midwives and a brilliant must-read post about birth by c-section.

Her latest post lists loads of great gift ideas for new mums and thanks to her heads-up, I have just treated myself to not just 1 but 3 Neom candles all to aid relaxation – and all half price in the sale! I’m saving money right there you see, it definitely doesn’t count as spending 😉

Visit her blog here.

 

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Anna Whitehouse aka @mother_pukka. Is this woman not everything?? She ‘jokes’ (least I hope she’s joking) that she doesn’t adult well (because if she’s not joking then I have totally and utterly failed as an adult) but in reality she is totally owning parenthood. Basically I JUST WANNA BE HER!!! And I’m pretty sure everyone else does too!

Her blog is hilarious and awesome (she’s a pro copywriter so think mag quality), her ‘The Great British Fake Off’ videos are pure comedy gold, she’s on an Avon ad, a Citroen ad (she’s a bona fide celeb these days), she’s just bought a house, started a new job (did I mention she works full time on top of the whole blogging / mothering thing?).  She has a cool accessible wardrobe (obvs her wardrobe isn’t open to the general public but you can buy most stuff in regular high street stores) and access to an even cooler wall (check out her IG feed to make sense of that one). Best of all Mr Mother Pukka is now onboard and he’s just as funny.

Too many posts to mention but check out her website here and YouTube channel here.

 

And that’s all my blog loving for now folks! Obviously there’s a bazillion other brilliant blogs that I’ve not mentioned but this is just what I’ve been reading this morning.

TIP: If you’re a new Mum and you find yourself up in the night a lot feeding, that’s a great time to read blogs. You can read on your phone so you don’t need to switch a light on as you would with a book, it keeps you awake (I used to always worry I’d fall asleep and suffocate my baby with my boob) and reading the experiences of others will help you feel less alone in this whole mothering malarky (which can happen when it’s 3am and it’s dark and you feel like you’re the only one awake in the world).  So check some of the above out tonight when you’re up feeding, you might even begin to less begrudge being awoken, maybe. No guarantees on that latter point.

How to dress like you made an effort (without making any)

motherhood

Everyone knows Mothers are time-poor. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Mum with a full-time office job or one that is with child 24/7; children are totally time/life-consuming and there is never enough minutes in the day.

Nowhere does this become more apparent that when trying to leave the house. Leaving the house with kids in tow becomes a mission of mammoth proportions, depicted perfectly here by the brilliant Michael McIntyre:

So faced with such chaos each morning what is a mother meant to do? So often I have left the house before 9am (mostly on the school run) hoping and praying I do not see anyone I know. I often have not had time for a shower or time to wash my hair, or even brush it. On really bad days I’ve not even brushed my teeth! I usually quickly pull on yesterday’s clothes (found on the floor) and go out with old mascara smudged unglamorously around my eyes. Not infrequently I have had weetabix thrown at me. Sometimes I’m still wearing my bed socks… (Just to clarify, I do normally wash and re-dress later in the day when one child has been off-loaded to school!). But recently I have consciously tried to up my early morning Mum game.

I have not acquired more minutes in my day or decided to set my alarm for 5am, like some kind of super organised individual, giving me a full hour before the kids wake because I’m not that kind of girl; I hate mornings. They suck. So do not worry, I’m not about to gloat about how efficient and clockwork-like mornings in my household have become. There will be no envy-inducement here. All I have are 5 simple tips to help you look like you made an effort before leaving the house (without having to actually make any effort).

  1. The Statement Coat. Honestly I cannot over-egg this one enough. I was bought my coat of dreams last Christmas and it is absolutely brilliant; it hides ALL sins. You could wear your PJs underneath and all anybody sees is the coat. It doesn’t matter if you’re covered in weetabix or baby sick or your boob has leaked or you’re having a fat day; the coat hides all. I got mine from Whistles and it’s pictured below but any statement coat would work. I honestly get a compliment every time I wear it, and there’s nothing like a compliment from a stranger to give you a little boost!

Whistles statement coat

2. Shellac nails. Doesn’t chip, lasts for weeks, looks mega glossy and drys super fast  – tick, tick, tick, TICK. If all else has literally gone to ruin, if your nails are painted, it looks like you a) still make an effort and b) your life isn’t falling apart. Plus you don’t have to look at your tired puffy face throughout the day or count your grey hairs but you can admire your shiny manicured nails. I go for a bright colour like ‘lobster roll’ because I bite my nails (shame on me) and for some reason think bright colours make them look better…and helps get them noticed (therefore detracting from the less finished elements of your ensemble).

LOBSTER ROLL SHELLAC NAIL VARNISH

3. Lipstick. The matter and longer lasting the better. I’m a big fan of Mac Ruby Woo because it stays on for hours and hours (sometimes overnight!). If you’ve no time to apply a full face of make up pre-school run (and let’s face it, WHO DOES?) simply swipe a bit of lippy on (a BOLD LIP as the wonderful Mother Pukka calls it) and you’re armed to face the day. Also, here’s a fact*,  if you wear a bright lipstick, people are more likely to look at your lips than the dark bags residing under your eyes. Not only that but a red lipstick helps make your teeth look really white.

mac ruby woo* might not actually be a fact

4. Number four is seasonal so we have a sunshine option and a more cold weather option. Where there’s sunshine, wear sunglasses! Also known as a tired mother’s best friend. The bigger, the better. People will never know you have crows feet, puffy bloodshot eyes, no mascara on and massive bags. If the glasses are big enough they might even partially hide the eyebrows which no doubt are in need of a deep thread. In colder grey weather, where sunglasses will make you like a wannabe rockstar (not a look most mums aspire to), wear a hat! A knitted one with a big pom pom works really well but I can imagine a large fedora would work equally well. Not only will the hat hide greasy /unwashed/ unbrushed hair but it will also detract from the face. Win win.

rayban clubmaster

5. Finally shoes! Do not leave the house in slippers. I did this once. I went to the supermarket in my slippers. It was embarrassing and is best avoided where possible. Invest in a good pair of comfortable shoes that still look good. Both elements of that sentence are important here: You are going to be pounding pavements for a long time; comfort is key. Equally you are nowhere near old enough to consider embracing middle-age so don’t buy solely for comfort. A colourful pair of flat loafers, a pair of Nike hi-tops, a pair of boots with a small block heel, whatever takes your fancy – all are good options.

leopard print boots

So there we have it! You can overhaul your hot (cold) mess look in minutes and look like a mega mum from head to toe with just a statement coat, decent shoes, a bold lip, shellac nails and a pair of sunnies or a woolly hat!

Keep the coat and shoes by the door, ready to pull on and hide whatever it is you find yourself wearing at 8.40am. Try and get the nails done once every few weeks if you can. Running a bit of lippy across your lips as you leave the house whilst sticking a pair of sunnies on (or woolly hat) takes no time at all and I can almost guarantee you will feel 100x more fabulous for it! And as you swish your way confidently to the school gate you’ll know that at best, you look absolutely amazing but at the very least, you’re not of those women, doing absolutely nothing in their active wear:

Disclaimer: all of the above is written slightly tongue in cheek. Most days I do not manage to nail it but when I do the above, it does make a difference to my day!! Give it a go this week: Coat, Shoes, Lippy, Sunnies, Nails. BOOM!

Also check out DRESS LIKE A MUM for TONS of style inspo and good advice for breastfeeding-friendly outfits! Zoe, the Mama behind it all, is single-handedly inspiring a whole generation of millennial mothers to preserve their identities post-procreation, whilst changing the world’s negative opinion, Instagram post by Instagram post, of what it is like to dress like a mum.

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…!

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

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