JO’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Having recently relocated to Devon from the big smoke it seems rather fitting that today we have a Devon-based Mum boss on the blog. Jo is a mum to two boys, sewing extraordinaire, charity worker and founder of Fox & Tootsie . Like many of us Jo is busy setting up a small business in those precious moments that exist between working the day job, keeping the kids alive and the house semi-clean. All in the hope of achieving that sometimes seemingly elusive thing; a work-life balance. For parents, that often means being able to work around the kids; being able to do the daily school run and be present for those special moments. Since most workplaces unfortunately don’t offer that level of flexibility, more and more talented women are leaving the workplace and setting up shop for themselves. For Jo right now that means late nights spent at the sewing machine but the dream is being able to focus on creating awesome kids clothes full time.

My boys have been wearing her harem-style leggings for a while now and they definitely get a big thumbs up from me! They’re made from the softest organic cotton, have a big stretchy waistband that’s gentle on the tummy and are comfy and unrestrictive, making them perfect for active kids. They are available in a variety of cool prints, are hard-wearing, wash well and tick pretty much every box you need when buying clothes for the smalls. And right now you can get 10% off with code ‘THEDOUBLEMAMA’ but only until 21.09.16. So do check out Fox and Tootsie and show Jo some mum love by following her on Instagram.

For now though, here’s what Jo has to say about her experience of motherhood from taking 15 pregnancy tests to having a peaceful, relaxed and beautiful planned cesarean section…

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Name: Jo

Age: 31

Location: Newton Abbot, Devon

Number of Kids: 2

Names and ages: Henry, 4 and George, 2

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

Planned and very much wanted. I was desperate to become a mum, it was everything I ever wanted. I was one of those girls who dreamed of marriage and babies age 5, and couldn’t wait!!

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Excitement, shock, didn’t believe it (15 tests later it started to sink in!!)

How did you tell your partner?

Showed him the test stick with Henry. With George I just knew, but we did a test just to confirm!

His reaction?

Shock, pleased but apprehensive. All of a sudden we both felt really really responsible and I was only 5 weeks pregnant!!! If only we knew what was to come 😉

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

Loved it, but moaned a lot (woman’s prerogative?!?!). My Henry bump was neat and compact, my George bump was MASSIVE. He was 9lb10, say no more!!

Tell me about your birth experience…

Henry was breech, so I had a planned c-section. I was so nervous but contrary to all the horror stories, it was peaceful, relaxed and beautiful, with my husband Matt. He was wrapped in a towel and passed straight to me and I fell head over heels in love instantly. That feeling is indescribable.

George was a different story! I found out I had group b strep (something every pregnant woman should read up about as we don’t test for it as standard in the UK and the outcomes can be catastrophic). So, as soon as my waters broke (on my due date!!) I had to be admitted to hospital to receive IV antibiotics. He was born 24 hours later, forceps and emergency so he was rushed straight to ICU. I had blood transfusions and he had tests for everything. We were reunited 3 days later, and I totally fell in love with him. We went home after a week and he was given the all clear – those moments make you realise how fragile and beautiful life is.

Describe motherhood in a few words…

Gorgeous, intense, magical, brutal. Motherhood enables you to experience the highest highs and the lowest lows all in one day!!!

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Can you share any parenting highlights?

The time Henry told the supermarket checkout man ‘mummy is wearing a nappy’ is up there!!

The boys started randomly doing a song and dance together at forest school recently, it was hilarious and everyone started laughing and clapping! Little entertainers they are.

Can you share any low points?

Henry went flying into the corner of a skirting board when learning to crawl, he was like a frog and lept so far forward!! That was a trip to A&E and a glued head!!

George went flying off the slide at the local play ground recently – and I was too far away to catch him!! He was quite proud of his HUGE bump – oops!

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Mainly sew!! I love it, my hobby has now turned into my career and I couldn’t be happier! I’m also partial to watching films and gardening.

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Tell me about your fox & tootsie…

Fox&tootsie is my business. I hand make children’s clothing age 0-5. I source organic cotton and make gorgeous, fun and unique items for little ones.

My mission is to make everyday, bright and funky clothing and accessories for your little one so they can adventure in original, vibrant and fun clothes.

As a parent I have always found it hard to find funky prints and clothes that fit my chunky boys. So I am making loose stretchy clothing with the most adorable prints to suit any child with loads of room to get messy, have fun and explore!

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

I do, I work for a charity part time and I am in the throws of setting up fox&tootsie. My dream is to do fox&tootsie work full time, so I can do the school run and enjoy my babies littleness rather than hear about their experiences from the childminder.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The adventures – seeing the world through their eyes – if you stop and explore in the way that they do, you see magic and adventure in everything. Practicing mindfulness when having kids is easy, they are doing it constantly – we could learn a thing or two from these little ones if we let ourselves.

What are the worst bits?

Haha, at the moment it’s getting dressed, seriously! You have no idea how angry my kiddies get about having to get dressed. Even when I have made them new clothes!!!

The tantrums are also tough, especially when you have to be somewhere!

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Juggling and that bloody annoying guilt fairy!! Who invented that horrid feeling anyway!!

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

The biggest surprise was how intense that feeling of love and protection is! I would literally do anything for my bubbas, and love them beyond where I thought was possible.

And the sleep, people tell you before you have them ‘get your rest in now’ and you’re like yeah yeah I can handle anything me. Then they arrive. Then 2 weeks later you’re in a state of sleep deprived shock!!

If someone agreed to mind your kids for a week what would you do?

Ooooooo….sleep, then go out with the girls, then sleep!! I would love to go away on a mindfulness break, but I couldn’t hack a week away from my little glorious grot bags!! A few days would do 🙂

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

Just to be kind to yourself and accept the help. You don’t have to prove you are a hero, you already are because you have birthed this amazing being. So accept the help on offer. Oh and sniff your baby lots, what is it with that glorious newborn smell?!?!

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

Nice moisturiser – it’s hot in the hospital and my skin dries out quickly. It’s also nice to make yourself feel a bit better. Also lots of babygros for baby, I tried the whole outfit for a newborn thing and dressing him was harder than getting a degree!! Babygros all the way 🙂

What’s been your best baby product? 

Grobags!! Couldn’t have lasted without them at night! Also my littlest loved the grohush, white noise helped us a lot with settling and calming.

I also had a beko sling which was just brill – and still use it sometimes now for my 2 year old on long walks when he gets tired.

What was really useful in the early days?

My mum!!! No seriously, she was a lifesaver I wouldn’t have got through it without her. Also my friends, so I could share my joy and also my woes, I needed lots of hugs after having George and they supplied them in the bucket load.

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

Oh god loads – I had to have the latest gadget! I would say the bumbo seat was pretty hopeless because my boys legs were too chunky!! They always got stuck!! I also brought loads of nursing bras before the baby arrived – but I needed them 10x bigger so I would advise waiting!! Haha.

What’s your ultimate mum product?

Medela nipple shields in the early days, water bottle purifier as I was always thirsty, a good changing bag – especially with 2 as you had to take so much stuff for such little beings!!

Who inspires you?

My mum who is the most caring and generous person I know. My dad, who believes in my everything and my gorgeous husband who always has my back! Oh and my kidlets, who make me chuckle and smile every day.

I am always inspired by people who take risk and chances…

How many children do you dream of having?

I would love one more, but don’t want to compromise the love and attention I give to my boys. So I think we are more than happy with two – I just feel so so lucky that we have 2 gorgeous boys.

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?

More!! I would travel more because I could at a whim.

What do you miss about life before kids?

Nothing really – my kids have made me who I am now…they have brought so much to my life, and it’s everything I imagined and more (cliche I know, but it’s true).

What do you love most about being a Mum?

The cuddles and the laugh out load funny moments. Laughing as a family is a big thing in our house. Also the adventures, being able to go on a snail hunt, dress up for it and make a home for the snails, all on a Friday evening, just because!!

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

Getting less stressed when we are in a rush (which is pretty often when you have kids who aren’t keen on the concept of wearing clothes that aren’t superman/batman outfits!!)

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BIG THANKS to Jo for taking the time to answer the million and one questions above! Do take a minute to check out Fox&Tootsie – she makes some pretty cool baby dribble bibs as well as unisex leggings for babies and toddlers. Plus Jo’s offering readers of the blog 10% off until 21.09.16 using code ‘THEDOUBLEMAMA’ so if you want to make a purchase now is the time!  You can also find Fox&Tootsie on Instagram here.

If you’d like to take part in the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series just drop me an email: thedoublemama@gmail.com

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Dear Jamie…

motherhood

breastfeeding baby

Let’s talk about my breasts, because I know you want to. You recently announced that breastfeeding was “the next big thing” when asked by LBC what was next after your successful and admirable campaigns with school dinners and sugar tax etc. The only problem is breastfeeding, and the inevitable breast vs bottle debate that follows, is not the ‘next big thing’ but the ‘are we seriously still discussing this thing’. It’s been done. Overdone even. After 10 years of having babies and parenting, I’m bored of hearing about it and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

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Now before you start thinking I’m anti-breasts or ‘oversensitive’ as The Independent claims, I want you to know that I think breasts are awesome. I breastfed both my boys and plan on breastfeeding the third, who is due imminently. I have no issue with getting them out in public either and totally agree that women who choose to breastfeed should be supported and allowed to breastfeed wherever the hell they want to. I guess you could say I’m pro-breastfeeding, and that would be half true. You see I’m also pro-bottle feeding, because above all, I’m pro-choice.

My breastfeeding journey with my first was rocky to start with, which I think is pretty typical. When I say rocky, I mean pretty fucking painful. My left nipple, just so you know, actually split so bad I could lift the top of it up and off. I continued to feed my baby through gritted teeth because I had been told ‘breast is best’ so many times that I was left believing there was no good alternative option. But anyway that was a long time ago, my nipples healed, breastfeeding got easier and I moved on to the other parenting hurdles.

Many years later I had my second son and this time it was easy to feed him from the start. What I had not anticipated however was that when I got pregnant with my third, whilst still breastfeeding, that my milk supply would dry up. I had exclusively breastfed for 6 months without any trouble and I had fed my first son for a full 12 months, I had not considered that my breasts would ‘fail’ me now. I assumed I had breastfeeding nailed. But little by little my breasts stopped filling with milk and I lost that let down sensation. Hours would pass between feeds and whereas before my breasts would feel full, they stopped ever feeling full and worst of all, my baby’s nappies got drier and drier. Politics aside, breastfeeding is above all else intended to provide hydration and nutrition, right? So what happens when your baby is becoming dehydrated and malnourished because the milk just isn’t there? Clearly breast is most definitely NOT best in a situation like this.

In the end it was a Doctor who told me to stop and give my baby a bottle. She told me that my body couldn’t grow another baby and produce enough milk at the same time. Now some Mums can do this; they can breastfeed all the way through their pregnancy and then tandem feed afterwards, but like everything in life, we are not all the same. My body was struggling to do both so I gave my baby a bottle and immediately his nappies started feeling really heavy with wee again. I felt terribly guilty. Not because I had stopped breastfeeding but because I hadn’t noticed how dry his nappies had become. They had got slowly less heavy over time and it was only after giving him a few big bottles of milk and feeling the weight of the nappy afterwards that I realised how dehydrated he must have been. I felt guilty that I had not noticed and had needed a Doctor to tell me.

Of course I was disappointed that our breastfeeding journey was cut short and that he got less time at the breast than his brother. Whenever a decision is taken out of your hands, it’s frustrating. I like to be in control and had expected to be able to choose when I wanted to stop feeding, so that was a little upsetting but in the scheme of things really insignificant.

Now I’m sorry if I’ve bored you with these nostalgic tales but my point is that breast is not always best, even if, as you say, it halves the chances of you getting breast cancer! My experience is just one reason why it’s not but there are millions of reasons and situations where breastfeeding is more damaging than it is beneficial. Sometimes it’s not best for the baby and sometimes it’s not best for the mother. It’s not just physical reasons either but psychological ones too. A mother’s psychological wellbeing is paramount to her being able to mother well and if breastfeeding threatens that, then it’s simply not worth it. Especially when we have a perfectly good alternative in formula (and thank goodness that we do).

Now the final thing I wanted to say is also probably the most important so please stick with me. I want you to understand that promoting the ‘breast is best’ message (with all good intentions I don’t doubt) is not only inaccurate because breast is not always best (as explained above) or ‘easy’ as you claim, but this message can also be really dangerous. I don’t mean dangerous because a load of angry oversensitive formula-feeding women will want you hung, drawn and quartered (although this is probably true) but dangerous because I’m not sure you fully understand the risks of promoting breastfeeding. In publicly promoting the ‘breast is best’ message you are reinforcing the dynamic whereby bottle feeding is pitched against breastfeeding and seen as, at best, inferior and, at worst, an inadequate way of nourishing and caring for one’s baby. This makes any mother who has wanted to breastfeed but has found they cannot, for whatever reason, feel like they have failed to do the best for their baby before they have even had a chance to get started.

The results of a large scale study published in 2014 looking at the relationship between breastfeeding and post-natal depression, found the group most at risk of developing depression were those that planned to breastfeed but then were not able to. The good news was that those who planned to breastfeed and were able to, were least likely to experience post-natal depression. The group who did not breastfeed but did not plan to, were in the middle. Now why do you think this might be?

It can’t simply be that bottle feeding increases the risk of depression because the results showed it was more complex than that. The group that planned to breastfeed but could not were over twice as likely to experience depression than the group that bottle fed but had planned to. It seems plausible and highly likely that those who planned to breastfeed but could not struggled because they had bought into the ‘breast is best’ message, they had committed to it physically and emotionally, probably bought their overpriced feeding bras in preparation etc etc. But then they found it wasn’t as straightforward as all the breastfeeding advocates had made out. That’s got to come as a bit of a shock, right? And when you whole-heartedly believe that breast is best and breastmilk has all these great benefits, what the hell do you do when it doesn’t work out? Nobody has spoken to you about the benefits of formula so you can only assume that it offers none of the benefits of breastfeeding and by feeding your child with a bottle, they are going to be obese, stupid and sickly, all of the things breastmilk supposedly protects against. So now how do you feel when you have no option but to bottle feed them? Pretty shitty.

Now I know depression is far more complicated in every way than just feeling shitty but this feeling of not being able to deliver has got to be a major contributing factor. Which means it’s so important that women understand they have options. And good ones at that! Breast may be best in many situations; where mother wants to breastfeed and baby can be breastfed and they are supported in this decision and her milk comes in and its not causing any physical or emotional harm or pain. But equally it’s important than women understand breast is not always best. Sometimes bottle feeding is best. And when bottle feeding is best, be that for whatever reason, then isn’t it brilliant that we have the option to provide hydration and nourishment to our babies in this way. And no woman should ever feel guilty about this or worry they are not doing a good job.

The bottom line is, if you’re feeding your baby (whether with your breast or a bottle), you are doing a mighty fine job and nobody should ever dispute this.

I’m all for empowering and supporting women in their choices and strongly believe women should be informed, but let’s not focus solely on singing the benefits of breastfeeding. They have been sung many times before. We can debate the benefits of breast (of course nobody should be silenced) but let’s not forget also the benefits of bottle feeding. We need to support all women and be sensitive to those who wished to feed but could not, because not everybody is as lucky as you and Jools have obviously been; not everybody will find breastfeeding easy.

Best wishes,

Siobhan

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

SOPHIE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

She’s young, hot (mega legs), creative, talented and Mama to little Luna. She’s the owner, maker, admin doer and everything else in between, behind the creative homegrown brand Sophie & Co. This week we’re privileged to have the gorgeous Sophie Cummings in the (mother) hood, telling us what mama life is like for her…

Name: Sophie Cummings

Age: 26

Location: Highbury, London…for now. Soon to be Hemel Hempstead…

Number of Kids: 1

Names & ages of aforementioned: Luna Mary Jean, 15 months

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

Somewhere in the middle of a lovely and a not so lovely surprise.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Oh, shit. Then, f***.

How did you tell your partner?

We were walking back from a romantic trip to our local Sainsbury’s when he pointed to a banged up people carrier for sale and jestingly suggested ‘we’ll be buying one of those next…’. Naturally, I made it all super awkward and let him know it may be sooner than he thinks.

His reaction?

Radio silence.

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

I spent the first few months unaware I was pregnant and drinking all the alcohol and eating all the seafood, soft cheeses & rare meat I could get my hands on, some of which was spent in Australia & Tasmania, so my body didn’t seem to react too badly to growing another human! I bloody loved being pregnant, I was very lucky it felt pretty natural.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I didn’t plan much for birth, the pregnancy seem to fly by and I really didn’t want to read too much in to it. Whatever happened, I had to squeeze another human out of my vagina and I didn’t really care where or how that was going to happen as long as I didn’t die. My two (loose) wishes were to have a water birth in the birthing centre and to be the first person to touch her, I wanted to pull her out. And that all happened after a 39.5 hours of contractions and half an hour of pushing, can’t complain…My only wishes for next time are to do all of that at home!

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Oh god where do I start; exhausting, hilarious and unpredictable. They’ll do!

Can you share any highlights?

This probably counts as a parent fail but I laugh every time I think of it; Monday afternoon having a smear test (go, me!), Luna’s safely strapped into her pram while I decide a packet of raisins would be the best snack to keep her distracted…except she can never get the sodding things out the packet so I spent the entire duration hanging over the bed drip feeding raisins to a toddler who perfectly timed working out how to get the lid off her sippy cup perfectly with a nurse inserting a plastic tube up my vagina. Water, raisins, everywhere. Dignity = zero. Once upon a time that may have been mortifying, I’m expecting worse.

Can you share any low points?

Oh probably the time I forgot I’d undone Luna’s straps to her pushchair, she fell face first onto a cold concrete floor. Never felt so guilty in all my life.

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What do you do when baby sleeps?

Complete orders & drink lots of caffeine.

Have you got a business?

Yes! Sophie & Co; I started it when Luna was around 6 months old, the thought of leaving Luna and returning to an incredibly underpaid job with a total lack of creativity made my heart hurt so I put my skills to use and started making infant and toddler clothing. Lots of exciting things to come and I can’t wait for the year ahead!

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What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Aside from watching Luna learn new things, which seems to be daily at the moment, my absolute favourite part of being a Mother is watching her eat so well. Is that weird? I get so much joy out of her not being a picky eater. She wouldn’t survive in an Italian family if she was but I’m also very aware that she will have her moments so let’s not all burst my bubble just yet, OK?

What are the worst bits?

The game changing. Why oh why do they change the rules all the time? One minute she self soothes and has 2 regular naps in her cot, the next she refuses to nap anywhere but strapped to my chest. And…tantrums.

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

That bonding with your child can take a few weeks, sometimes it’s not instant and that’s ok. So many people want to warn you about Post Natal Depression but no one seemed to shed a light on those first few weeks…

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

Stand your ground, say no, and tell family members when they’re stepping over the line or downright rude. Looking back, I see now how important it is to have space and time to bond in those first few days…don’t let anyone jeopardise that. Also, go with the flow because it will all change next week.

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

People get SO into this don’t they? I had some clothes for Luna, a pair of leggings, fresh pair of knickers and my camera. Snacks went untouched, a nightie? For god’s sake why did I buy a nightie I was naked bar my bra which came off the moment she was born. Bare essentials ladies, bare essentials.

What’s been you best baby product?

Ergobaby 360 Sling, sleepy dust I tell you!

What was really useful in the early days?

My mum!

Who inspires you?

Again, my Mum. She’s a hardworker. If there’s anything I want to pass on to Luna it’s to not be idle, do something, anything! Be innovative!

How many children do you dream of having?

Always wanted 4, now I have 1 I think I’ll be happy with….1. No I joke, 3? 2? Ask me in a few years!

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

EVERYTHING. It’s amazing how much you manage to squeeze in to nap time, just get shit done. Stop procrastinating and do it. I’d also be really spontaneous. Childless people don’t realise how lucky they are to just…go out. Even the thought of taking Luna to a coffee shop these days sends me into a cold sweat.

What do you miss about life before kids?
Friday nights and sleep. Nothing new there, hey?

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

Patience. I can be quite hot headed and struggle to keep calm when Luna’s being frustrating, I’m really crap at just ‘being’ with her and not constantly thinking of the other thousand things I need to do. I also don’t take her to enough groups and feel forever guilty about that. Basically, lots! Parenting is tough?!

TOO RIGHT IT IS!! Big thanks to Sophie for sharing her experiences of Motherhood, from taking time to bond with her new baby to going for a smear test with her toddler in tow! Hope you all enjoyed reading what she had to say as much as I did.

Make sure you check out her shop Sophie & Co where you will find some absolutely gorgeous pieces of clothing for babas and toddlers, all available in a variety of fabrics, and all handmade by the lovely lady herself.

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And if you’d like to take part in this ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature, please drop me an email – thedoublemama@gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you!

 

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.

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…

Hayley

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.

Gray by Southwood Stores

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.

Southwood Stores

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.

The miraculous near-immaculate conception

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

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

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

* I knew it! I knew I was pregnant!

* Can’t believe I’m pregnant.

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

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

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* Oh my God shall we talk about our options?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Urgh I feel like a fat bloated cow!

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

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

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

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

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

* I’m sure dye won’t hurt…

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* No I better not risk it.

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

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

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* Will have to postpone 30th. 29 again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* And all my old underwear. Sob.

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

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

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

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* Maybe it will be a GIRL!!

* Obvs going to be a boy.

* Oooh I get to give birth again!!!

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

* I feel so ill. I hate being pregnant.

* It’s going to go so fast.

* HOW AM I STILL ONLY 7 WEEKS???

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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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

mere soeur mug

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


Mere Soeur Tote

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

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

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

mothers meetings book

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

mothers meetings

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

yes mum cards

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

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

the bright company

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

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

tiba + marl elwood

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

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

tiba and marl raf

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

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

don't buy her flowers

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

dont buy her flowers

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

mum ring

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

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