STEPH’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Today I am so excited to introduce a girl whose haircut I’ve been coveting since I first saw THAT fringe on Instagram. She rocks leather skirts and leopard print (what’s not to love), has an awesome blog, runs an ingenious business, has kids with amazing names (Hello Buster!) and is really bloody nice. Here’s what Steph has to say about Motherhood…

Steph Douglas

Name: Steph Douglas

Age: 34

Location: St Margarets, London

Number of Kids: 2

Names and ages of aforementioned: Buster (4) and Mabel (2)

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

We’d been married almost 2 years and it seemed like the next ‘sensible’ step. Ahem.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Excited, and like we had the best secret. I also felt relieved – like lots of women I had a fear that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant.

How did you tell your partner?

I came running down the stairs holding the stick

His reaction?

Lots of squealing and hugging and ‘woah, are we really doing this’. Oh that sweet naïve couple – we had no idea!

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

I had no health issues for either pregnancy aside from the usual (feeling a bit swollen and constipated) and I quite enjoyed having a big round belly until the last bit when you have to heave and grunt to turn yourself over in bed. I found the mental/emotional side of it more of a challenge. We once went out for dinner on a Friday night after work when I was pregnant with Buster – Doug had booked it as a romantic gesture – and it was this amazing Italian where they just bring out courses and it’s the longest most relaxed meal ever. Except I was hungry and tired and couldn’t neck all the wine so I sat opposite him weeping while he begged me to stop as it looked like he’d taken a heavily pregnant woman to a public place to dump her. We were better at carrying emergency snacks and having early nights during my second pregnancy.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I had no expectation about birth, which sounds a bit odd but my mum was a midwife and gave birth four times herself, and she always kind of underplayed it when I asked how painful it was, and said it hurt but you’re so focused and you hold this baby at the end of it so you just get on with it. So I was kind of relaxed, ready for the drugs if I needed them but aiming to see what happened. When it came to it, my body took over, I stayed home as long as possible (on my Mum’s advice) so with both I got to the hospital and was pretty much ready to go! Finding out you’re almost ready to push as you arrive at the hospital is a massive mental boost so I felt really focused and I did the rest with gas & air, which I LOVED. They had to prise it out of my hands.

Doug gets this funny look of awe on his face when we talk about it, like he still can’t believe what I did. He also remarks on the strength as I pushed down on him during contractions; apparently it smarted a bit…yeah, it did for me too! Sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to say I had a ‘good’ birth as you hear about a lot of bad ones. But actually, it was really positive, the midwives were awesome and I feel pretty proud of myself. If I do it again, I’d hope for the same. I liked being in hospital and that is part of the feeling relaxed for me – I was on the natural birth ward but had the reassurance of staff and equipment close by if I needed it. It’s a really personal thing for everyone and at the end of it, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

A rollercoaster – with deep ‘what the hell is happening’ lows and utterly awesome ‘I AM WOMAN’ highs.

Can you share any highlights?

Just seeing these two babies that we made become funny, quirky little people and the four of us becoming a proper little unit, with our own traditions like toast in bed on a Saturday and fishfingers after swimming. Hearing them chat together first thing in the morning now they’re a bit bigger makes me feel weepy. It’s lovely.

Can you share any low points?

Those moments when you’re out and everyone is crying, no one is listening, you’re dropping stuff along your way and sweating profusely and feel like everyone is watching and judging you. Also, Mabel recently crapped on the floor in a pub and we only realised when Buster stood in it. That one is a mixture of a high and low point as it was grim, but very funny on reflection.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Alas, we’re down to a couple of naps a week as Mabel is almost 3 and not keen most of the time. When Buster was a baby I flapped about doing stuff from The List or divving about on social media. I know people roll their eyes at ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ but with Mabel I was much better at napping. If you unpack the dishwasher and do a few jobs first, you’ll never do it as the baby will wake up and you’ve missed your window. The trick is to lie down as soon as you put the baby down. Even if you get 20 minutes, it will change your whole day and the world will be a brighter place. The washing can wait.

Have you got a blog?

I write Sisterhood (and all that) – it’s an honest account of motherhood and relationships with the idea that if we’re honest with each other about how things really are and the ridiculousness that life throws at us, it’s often funny and also less lonely. It was kind of a stepping stone to starting the business and I wanted to see if people felt like me. It turned out they did and it went really well, so gave me the courage to quit my job and start the business.

Have you got a business?

I run Don’t Buy Her Flowers selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums. 96% of women receive flowers after giving birth. When I had my first baby I was given eight bunches of flowers and it just seemed such a waste – people were really kind to send something, but flowers are actually another thing to care for. At a time when you’re feeling pretty spent, I thought there could be better gifts that let mum know she’s doing a good job and is loved. The Care Package is our best-selling package, and the idea is it encourages mum to stop and take ten minutes to herself – truffles, tea, flapjack, a magazine and a scarf. I’ve also teamed up with COOK food so their vouchers can be added to any package, so you can give new parents prepared meals delivered to their door. Those are always well received!

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Aside from the obvious i.e. two beautiful babies? Women are awesome. Resilient, determined, compassionate, often hilarious and for a lot of women I know, becoming a mother intensifies those strengths. You don’t realise it when they’re small, but you are now a lioness. On a good day, anyway.

What are the worst bits?

The tiredness combined with the feeling I should always be doing something. It can be pretty exhausting and I think that’s the same for most mums everywhere. We’re rubbish at stopping, let alone relaxing with our partner or doing something nice for ourselves.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Oh SLEEP. And eat at a leisurely pace. We’re actually hoping to take a little holiday in January just the two of us. I know some people couldn’t bear to be apart from their babies, but we’ve been pretty good at having the odd night away and I think it’s essential to our sanity and marriage! We realise we really like each other when I’m not moaning at him for forgetting to put the bins out.

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

I recently wrote a list for Clemmie Telford’s blog which just about covers everything!

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

Snacks! I was very disappointed by the post-birth food on offer at hospital!

What’s been your best baby product?

The IKEA high chair. Forget your fancy ones, for about a tenner this thing wipes clean and has NO primary colours.

What’s your ultimate mum product?

OBVIOUSLY a thoughtful gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers… but also a changing bag from Tiba + Marl. Practical AND good-looking. And a buggy hook because you always have too much stuff to carry.

Steph Douglas and kids

Huge thanks to Steph for taking part – be sure to check out her blog, it is well worth a read! And of course if you know somebody who needs a little TLC – Don’t Buy Her Flowers!

I’d love to hear from any other Mamas out there who’d like to feature as part of my ‘In the (mother) hood’ series – just drop me a line: thedoublemama@gmail.com

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CHARLOTTE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Massively excited to kick start this weekly ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature with the super-gorgeous, hilarious, straight-talking, take-no-shit, fellow double-mama (one in the oven, one fully cooked) – CHARLOTTE from Only Saying What You’re Thinking

I’ve been following this Mama’s journey both pre and post her blog hiatus and absolutely love hearing what she’s got to say about pregnancy, motherhood and life unfiltered. Hopefully you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have…

Charlotte

Name: Charlotte

Age: 29

Location: Kent

Number of Kids: 1 + 1 due in October

Names and ages: Lilian age 4

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

It was planned although we didn’t think it would happen so fast!

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Shocked. I’d only just stopped taking the pill and didn’t think I’d get pregnant so soon, we thought we’d at least have a few months of being married and enjoying lazy weekends as newlyweds! Once it sunk in I was happy. I’d never really been a fan of kids but I was excited, it’s different when it’s your own.

How did you tell your partner?

He was with me when I took the test. We were on our honeymoon and I’d felt horrendously bloated for a few days, when I checked the calendar I realized I was late so we went out and bought some tests et voila!

His reaction?

He was shocked too. Happy but shocked.

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

Pregnancy was a massive bitch and it’s a massive bitch second time round too. With my first I was hospitalized with HG and it didn’t pass until around week 17. Then SPD kicked in towards the end of that pregnancy and I spent the last few weeks confined to the sofa in agony. I don’t think my skin turned back from green until Lilian was about 8 weeks old! This time I had morning sickness until 16 weeks and the SPD has kicked in already! I don’t do pregnancy well, I’m the worst patient. Wah wah wah.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was induced at 40+9 but nothing started up until two days later and then it went wild! They had to slow my contractions down using a drip because they were really close together and I was only 2cm dilated. They broke my waters with what looked like a crochet hook and not long after that I had an epidural. Now that part of the experience was the best. I can only imagine it’s what taking a shit load of drugs in a club feels like, except I couldn’t walk, obviously. I only managed to get to 6cm before my baby turned sideways and thought she’d stick her chin up and get stuck. So that ended in an emergency section after they kept losing her on the monitor. Not the natural birth many mothers envision and I was pumped full of drugs over my 6 day hospital stay which meant I was pretty out of it for days after. I found it hard to bond with my baby but we got there in the end. This time I’d like it to be calmer, not so many drugs (although I’d take an epidural RIGHT NOW for this SPD pain) and I’ll definitely be packing better shit into my hospital bag (mini bottles of booze and a ton of chocolate).

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Exhausting, glorious, exhilarating, infuriating, powerful.

Can you share any highlights?

The other day Lil was having a poo and wanted a chat, she’s an oversharer like her mother, and asked me how the baby got into my tummy. I explained, loosely, about the egg and the seed but I left out how it all came about. She recapped “so daddy put his seed in your belly button and then you were pregnant?” something like that, kid. She cracks me up every single day. Daddy will not be putting his seed in my bellybutton again.

Can you share any low points?

Dropping my phone on her face when trying to take a picture of us together. Luckily it did no lasting damage. I know, major parent fail.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

I just stared at her, marvelling at what we’d made. I took a shit ton of photos, ate a load of cake and didn’t do any housework. All these people told me to cherish every second, I took that literally. Now, when she sleeps, I veg out in front of the tv or read. I’m using this time wisely before the next one turns up.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The love your kids show you. She told me I was the best, nicest mummy in the world the other day and I know she wasn’t taking the piss. She looked at me with all this love in her eyes and I just wanted to cry at how perfect she was (at that moment anyway, an hour later she told me I was horrible because I wouldn’t let her have chocolate for dinner). Watching them grow into who they’ll be forever, knowing that all the sleepless nights, the screaming rows with your partner, the leaky boobs and the exhaustion that eats you up… all that shit is worth it because they are growing to be kind and strong little things.

What are the worst bits?

The exhaustion, it’s relentless. The tantrums that you don’t know how to deal with, the questions you don’t want to answer for fear of upsetting them, when they get sick and you can’t take the pain away. They’re heart wrenching, the worst bits. But the good bits erase the bad ones a hundred times over. Being a mama is the best feeling in the world, even if you do wet yourself when you sneeze.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

I can only dream of this! BLISS. Sleep in a fancy hotel. I’d order room service, stay in my pj’s, take long SILENT baths… no “mummy why do you have hair there? Why are your boobies so big? I’d wander around London for hours, visit galleries, have spa treatments. I’m talking out of my arse really, I’d miss her after a day and come home.

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

Go with your gut, every time. Don’t read parenting books, don’t do anything you don’t want to, say no to the people who want to come round when you’ve just had your baby… I didn’t and I think that was one of the reasons it took a while to bond with my baby. The evening after she was born I had 8 visitors standing around my bed poking and prodding her, I should have just told them to fuck off. Those first few days are so precious, take your time… they can come visit on day 6. Your baby won’t look much different than they did on day 1! The bad times? They pass. Is there anything you wish you had known? How tired I would be, nothing can prepare you for that. To cut myself some slack, mums are doing the hardest job in the world (the Queen said so herself).

Have you got a blog?

I have. I started it in my third trimester, not writing to anyone in particular but I needed a place to rant about how shit I was finding being pregnant and then it turned into a bit of an online diary about motherhood. I wanted it to be raw and brutally honest because I was fed so much bullshit throughout my pregnancy about how wonderful it is and how you feel great. For me, it was all lies. I felt someone needed to say how it really was. Don’t get me wrong, there are many more great times but the bad times were pretty low.

What’s the link?

www.onlysayingwhatyourethinking.blogspot.co.uk

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share… I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

CHARLOTTE

Huge thanks to Charlotte for being the first Mama out there to take part in my ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature (and for the blog love)!!  Please go and check out her blog and find out if she really is only saying what you’re thinking 🙂

If you’d like to take part and feature on my blog then please drop me a line: thedoublemama@gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you xx

Perks of a having a Pre-pre-teen

motherhood

 

  pre-teen girl     IMG_6163

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

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

Here’s why…

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

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

2. Sometimes he makes me breakfast too!

3. She makes breakfast for her little sister

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

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

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

7. He fetches me things

8. He fetches his own things

9. She does jobs for me

10. She can use the sky remote without my help

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

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

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

14. She ties her little sister’s shoelaces

15. She does her little sister’s seatbelt up

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

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

18. She reads bedtime stories to her little sister

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

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

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

22. He gives proper hugs

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

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

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

26. We can hang out and it not totally exhausting

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

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

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

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

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

32. He can make his bed and tidy his room

33. He puts the washing away

34. He hoovers

35. He can ride his bike for miles

36. He can ski as fast as me