Changing Relationships

So maybe you’re pregnant. Or already have children. Perhaps you are thinking about children. This post is for you.

A baby changes everything. After a lengthy period on a boat, it takes your legs a little while to recoup and remember how to walk on dry land again. This is what having a baby is like. Jelly legs.

On the surface, nothing much has changed. A 7lb (ish) ball of human newness has entered your life (admittedly with an awful lot of stuff ) but nothing else has changed.

Except it has. Everything has.

Your relationships change.

My experience of this is as follows:

My relationship with my husband:

I have been with Karl long enough that I thought I knew all the ways I could love him. I was wrong. Having a baby has tested us in a way we hadn’t yet been tested. It has brought us closer together but also tested our limits and patience with one another. My love for him changed the moment I saw him hold Matilda for the first time and tenderly held her and stroke her face. Watching him get stuck in changing nappies and cutting toenails (seriously; that’s still a two-man job in our household) has given me an appreciation and respect for him that I didn’t have before. But, before I get too mushy, I still cannot bear the sound of him snoring.

My relationship with my parents:

I have always been close to my parents, but becoming a parent myself has made me appreciate them both so much more. I find myself sometimes thinking back to arguments we may have had when Sarah and I were teenagers. Thinking about the ways our words could have hurt our parents and how I dread that with Matilda.

I had a happy childhood. I speak of happiness in childish innocence. We rode our bikes around the green and played in the paddling pool. Mum was the disciplinarian (sorry Dad, I know you tried) but also our confidant and friend. As far as mum’s go, I always knew mine was special. Since having Matilda, it has made me much more reflective. I can only hope that I grow to become half the mother my mum is. She sat with us doing homework even when I can imagine she would rather be doing anything else.

My dad is a giver. He has worked hard our entire lives to provide for us. He has always spoilt us and put our needs before his own. If he doesn’t already know, then Dad, I am so grateful for you. He is kind, generous. Not funny though, I draw the line at complimenting you on your awful jokes.

Mum, Dad, if you are reading this, then I hope you know how much I love and respect you.

My relationship with friends:

I am fortunate to have maintained the majority of my relationships (so far) but having children can be isolating. Your friends that you used to get ‘silly drunk’ with stop inviting you out. Maybe people stop texting. See my post on the importance of building up a network of other parents here The Importance of the Mum Squad

My relationship with myself:

It took me a very long term to refer to myself as ‘mum’. I think I may have whispered it to Matilda when she was about 12 weeks old. Obviously not in front of anyone. I’m starting to get more comfortable with the term. But the shift in my focus came before she was born. Those two pink lines. From the moment I got pregnant my world shifted like tectonic plates rubbing against each other. Sometimes it was nothing more than a gentle rumble (sitting differently with an arm in front of my stomach). At other times, it was a full on earthquake. I  would lie awake wondering what she would look like. Or what she would grow up to be. Whether I would be ‘any good’ at being a parent. I would (still do) cry at the news. I would feel selfish to bring a child into this cruel world, which at times, seems so full of hate.

Just as your centre of balance shifts to accommodate your huge pregnancy  bump; your entire being shifts when you become a parent. At times, this makes you feel like you are about to lose your balance (or your sh*t). It can be overwhelming. It can be terrifying. It can be wonderful. It can be awful But it is always intense.

Clichรฉ right? But so true. Matilda has changed me. Altered my world view. Helped me appreciate everyone around me. I hope, even on the darkest days (the ‘why won’t you nap’ days) I can read this and still feel my heart bursting with pride when she attempts something new. I hope I can remember the feeling when she cut her first tooth. Like being punched in the stomach with a nervous kind of excitement. I hope when she’s cranky and frustrating that I can remember that before her, I did not get to feel that excitement and pride over anyone’s tooth.

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A-Z of life with a newborn

Following on from all of the lovely feedback I received from my a-z of pregnancy, I was asked to write an honest review of life with a newborn. It’s impossible to cover in a single blog post what that experience is like but here goes:- 

A is for…. acne 

Baby acne. Linked to hormones (see H), your gorgeous little newborn is suddenly covered in tiny little spots. This is completely normal and will pass. However you will cry about it. Especially on day 3. Please see a health care professional if you are concerned about allergies.

B is for…. boob. Or bottle.

Fed is best. There will be lots of interest in how you choose to feed your baby. Even if the choice ends up being made for you. There will be guilt.  There will be tears. Either way. You will spend the majority of that babies first few days (weeks/months/years) feeding. Constantly. Whilst desperately trying to decipher any type of pattern. It will come. There is light at the end of that blurry milk infused haze.

C is for…. Crying

You. the baby. Either way, one of you will be crying. Sometimes both at once for a particularly fun day. Crying is what babies do. They have no other means of communication. But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel emotionally wrung out at 3am when baby has been fed, changed, cuddled, wrapped up and then unwrapped. To the piercing tone of cries. We have all heard of “mother’s instinct” and you will probably cry at some point because you don’t know what your baby wants and that means you aren’t fit to mother. We’ve all been there. But you really do start to have tear free days and you really do get to know each other and know what the noises mean.

D is for…. Dry skin

Matilda looked like she had shed her skin like some reptile. Dry skin everywhere. Cue the recurring theme of guilt. Maybe I washed her too much? Not enough? And then the inevitable Google. Coconut oil / olive oil really does help. Please check you aren’t using the olive oil with garlic that’s in your kitchen. Unless you are planning to vampire-proof your baby. 

E is for…. Eating? Housework? When?

Having a newborn is really bloody hard work. Although you won’t be able to recall exactly what you have done, you know you feel exhausted. The following are nearly impossible when left alone with a newborn:

  • Eating
  • Going to the toilet
  • Brushing your hair AND getting dressed (it’s one or the other I’m afraid)
  • Housework 

There comes a day when you can be eating your lunch whilst holding the baby and vacuuming. I know that day feels far away but it really is coming. 

F is for…. Fear

Everything about having a baby is terrifying. The responsibility is overwhelming. I used to dread the evenings when it got dark. I was so afraid that she would scream all night. Or that I would be unable to cope. I was afraid when my husband went back to work. I was afraid to leave the house with her on my own. That fear can be all-consuming. Whilst fear is normal, it should pass and get easier. If it doesn’t, please speak to someone.

G is for…. Guilt

Probably the most unexpected part of having a baby for me. I felt guilty. Guilty for letting Karl change a nappy. Guilty for wanting Karl to change it. Guilty for dreading the evenings. I don’t deserve to be a mum. There are people out there desperate to be a parent and here I am feeling sad, mad and bad. This is the last remaining remnant of newborn life for us (except the poop. That’s just getting worse). I feel guilty for looking forward to nap time. I feel guilty for planning a night out without her. I feel guilty for not noticing before she doinked herself in the head with the TV remote. I feel guilty if I don’t talk to her for five minutes. It’s so very exhausting all this guilt. I’d like to think I’m a good mum…. but this guilt won’t let me.

H is for…. Hormones

So your baby comes out all pristine new and wrinkly. The cord is cut and they exist. Separately from you. However your hormones (and let’s be honest pregnancy hormones are something else!) continue to course through your babies body for a while. Baby boys born with enormous testicles. I mean really. They’re huge. Baby girls ‘menstruating’. Both genders with enlarged breasts. Some babies even leak milk. From their nipples. The horror! The baby acne mentioned above is also caused by the hormones. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hormones have a lot to answer for.

I is for…. Information overload

Although well-meaning, the constant stream of advice from people you know can wear you down. “You’re making a rod for your own back by holding her all the time” or “well in my day…” is overwhelming. Coupled with easy access to the Internet, allowing complete strangers to pass judgement and offer advice. You really will find what works for you and your baby. They are all different and just because a piece of advice works for one does not mean it works for another. Saying that however, you will see some of my Google search history (see Q). I needed to ask for advice ( hi Feb 16 ladies! ) and sift through it myself. Carve my own path. You will too.

J is for…. Jaundice

Whilst completely normal, especially in breastfed babies, the last thing you need as a new mother is Jaundice. Especially in the first few days. Maybe you notice your babies eyes look a little yellow. Or maybe you don’t notice and someone else points it out. You cry over it. You feel you have somehow failed. You haven’t. Some sunshine will do you both good. In the absence of sunshine ( hello British summer!) your midwife or health visitor will advise further.

K is for…. Kit.

Seriously how does such a tiny person come with so much stuff? I will do a post soon on unnecessary baby items vs must haves. This also links in to O (online shopping). Your baby doesn’t settle in the moses basket/crib so you will online shop for the bouncer that promises you a lengthy nap whilst cleaning your house and paying your bills. 3am is a dangerous time to shop. I have written before about the sheer amount of stuff it takes to leave the house with a newborn HERE

L is for…. latching / lactating 

Breast pads. Go. Go stock up. Maybe not as fun as a new pair of pram shoes, but really, really necessary. There are recipes out there for lactation cookies. Hints and tips to increase your supply. But before all that comes latching. You may think it seems easy. For some women it is. For others, it goes horribly wrong. Cracked nipples. Tears (both of you). Get yourself a lactation consultant or visit a breastfeeding cafe. 

M is for…. Mental health

All of us go through the emotional mill from the moment you see those two pink lines on that pregnancy test. 

“Baby blues”. I hate that term. I feel it really trivialises the emotional impact of having a newborn. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows; a newborn invokes a tsunami of emotions. Partly hormonal and partly just the complete shift of your focus.

For some women, it is deeper than that. 

PND – post natal depression. This is so much more than “baby blues”

Post natal psychosis. This one is far more of a taboo. But it’s real and it’s more common than you think. 

Please visit MIND for more information on how your mental health may be affected and how to access support. 

PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder. Normally as the result of a traumatic experience. Please visit Birth Trauma Association for more information on symptoms and support.

N is for…. Nappies

Hundreds and hundreds. How does something so small poop so much? It is pretty much hardwired into a newborns DNA to poop in a fresh nappy within 30 seconds. Sometimes they may even go mid change. That’s always fun. How about sizing? Too loose and you’ll get explosions but too tight and you turn your baby into a sumo wrestler. The ‘baby thong’. It’s even harder now. Matilda has fat thighs and a skinny waist. So we pretty much always have some… leakage. 

O is for…. online shopping. 

This should be written somewhere and handed to women on discharge from hospital. 3am is not the time to be online shopping. For white noise machines. Or books on sleep training. Or new clothes/shoes/household appliances. Hide the debit card. Unlink your PayPal. Cut up the credit card. Save yourselves.

P is for…. Poop

I am proud to admit I’ve always been a fan of a chat about poo with my nearest and dearest. So it may not be a shock to them to hear me talk about poo now. But even the most poo-adverse will find a fascination in baby poo. The colour. The consistency. The frequency. You will obsess over every little detail. And you will get some on your hands. Sorry, but you will. If you’re really unlucky, you may not notice straight away.

Q is for…. Questions

I mean as a rational human being you know that what you’re Googling borders on…insane. But it doesn’t stop you. Your Google search history may look like this

Or this..

Or this

We have all been there. I’d love to hear some of your wacky Google searches. I definitely Google less now. A bit. Probably.

R is for…. Rashes

Every blemish on your babies skin will be analysed. You will try and take photos of the rash to compare to Google images. You will take temperature and attempt to see if it branches. If in any doubt please contact midwife/health visitor/ GP/111. 

S is for…. SIDS

Whilst relatively rare, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a huge fear amongst new mothers (and fathers). I recall sitting up in bed and peering into Matilda’s crib in a half-light. Unable to hear her breathing. Panic. Kick Karl awake and reach in to feel her chest. Which was rising and falling. But that was it. I stayed up for hours just to make sure. Be aware of SIDS. Visit Lullaby Trust for some handy hints on reducing risk. 

T is for…. Tongue Tie

Because getting a baby to feed (see B) isn’t challenging enough. Throw in some tongue tie for good measure. If the tongue tie is severe enough it will need to be separated. Cue more tears (more yours than theirs).

U is for…. Upchuck

OK so that’s a cheeky way of saying vomit when you have used up your V! Some babies are sick a lot and others hardly at all. However the smell of sour milk on your clothes/furniture/pets will become the norm. Some babies have reflux. The passive spit up of milk. Making it hard for them to lie flat on their back. Occasionally causing pain and definitely causing tears. Winding helps and keeping upright but frustratingly you will hear “they’ll just grow out of it” which is, of course, very unhelpful. Reach out to other mums in your shoes such as Living With Reflux  

V is for…. visitors etiquette

Or lack thereof. It’s so tiring having a newborn. The last thing you need is visitors wanting to hold a baby that you have just bounced for 20 minutes to get to sleep. But they are not as bad as those who ‘just popped by’ with no forewarning. You may have a boob out. Or be crying. Visits ought to be prearranged. The flip side of that of course is that you feel such intense pride in everything your baby does “looooook at her making a little fist” that you desperately want to show her off to your family and friends.

W is for…. weight gain

Failure to thrive. What a horrid term. Babies lose a little weight after birth but are usually back to birth weight by 2 weeks. If they’re not, or if they lose more than 10% of their birth weight, that is the term they get given. Although no judgements are passed, as a new mum, that term is heartbreaking. Please see G for some extra added guilt. You will obsess over every ounce. Gaining too fast? Not gaining quick enough? As long as your baby is following his/her ‘line’ with a roughly consistent gain then it’s normal. Promise.

X is for….. X rated.

Nope.no way. Keep it away. 

Y is for…. “You time” 

Everyone tells you to take some. Maybe you manage a 5 minute shower before you’re convinced you can hear the baby crying. Or maybe you have an hour alone and feel like you’ve lost something. Life just isn’t the same post baby. Enjoy some baby free time  when you can but be prepared that you will never truly switch off. Also, if you are not ready to leave your baby with anyone, that’s ok too. You do you.

Z is for…. Zzz 

Sleep becomes another thing to obsess over. Maybe your baby wakes every 2 hours and you find yourself awake in bed listening to them snore, desperately willing yourself to fall asleep knowing that you only have 45 minutes before your baby wakes again. Or maybe your baby sleeps soundly but you can’t as you are checking their breathing or googling. Or online shopping. Maybe like me, you will panic that your newborn sleeps too much. Yes. I know. Silly Nicola.
Other notable mentions include:-

  • Thrush (you and baby)
  • Wind. Getting those burps up before the crying starts should be an Olympic sport
  • Outfits – here’s to the cute ones you bought pre-baby. The completely impractical ones. That baby never wears. They will live in sleepsuits. Actually you will realise you prefer it that way anyway.
  • Immunisations. I have already done a blog post  HERE about the emotions of this. 
  • Other people’s germs. Other people kissing your baby. Just no. Don’t do it.
  • Dairy allergies. Great. Boob or bottle this is a challenging start to feeding your baby.

No one ever said having a baby was easy. Despite all of the above, I promise you will look back with nostalgia at the newborn stage. Enjoy that smell. The sleepy cuddles. How tiny they are. It’s life changing. It’s horrific at times. But it’s also the most rewarding experience. Around 5/6 weeks, when you first start seeing the social smiles, your heart will melt. On dark days when you aren’t sure whether you’re coming or going and feel desperate, they will fart and smile. All is forgiven. And you explode with love for this tiny pooping machine.

Check out my little on the following link to my Instagram…

Matilda’s little squeaks

The A-Z of pregnancy (warning..NSFW)

Pregnancy is a truly incredible process. That a human baby can be formed by having sex literally boggles my mind. I thought I knew what pregnancy would be like. I was so wrong. From speaking to lots of women since starting my blog, I have compiled a list of their most embarrassing or annoying pregnancy symptom.

 Please don’t panic if you are reading this whilst newly pregnant. The joy of feeling that baby move for the first time or hearing that heartbeat overshadows all of the horrors below.  I just did not expect pregnancy to be so undignified. 

I was not one of those ladies who “bloom” in pregnancy. Unless by bloom of course you mean water retention with a side order of a sweaty sheen. In which case, I smashed it.

NB. A massive thank you to the gorgeous ladies who have sent me their bumpies to add to this post. They obviously bloomed during pregnancy. And breezed through on a cloud of fairy dust. The photos are not linked to the stories. All done at random and shared with their permission. Thanks! Can I just say how beautiful and unique all these bumps are? ๐Ÿ˜

Here it is in all its glory and horror…

A is for…. acne 

I am talking full on pubescent pustules. Whilst I got oilier skin and blacker blackheads, I know women who had spots all over their face, chest, neck and backs. I suppose it makes sense with the out of control hormones raging through you. But when emotional the last thing you need to wake up to is a face full of pimples.

B is for…. backache

Carrying around a watermelon strapped to your front is bound to alter your centre of gravity. Which in turn leads to backache. If your baby turns back to back there will be no let up in this backache. Even the deepest back rub doesn’t quite ‘scratch the itch’ as it were. Sciatica is common in pregnancy


C is for…. cramp

Full football player rolling on the floor levels of cramp. Maybe you are 30 odd weeks pregnant. Uncomfortable in any position. Your bed may as well be a pile of rubble. You’ve been for a wee a few times. Your partner is snoring. You quietly plot ways to silence that snore. And finally, finally  you drift off…. only to be woken by a bout of fire springing from your calves. It’s hard to move a woman in her third trimester. Rolling over in bed is at least a 20 point turn. Complete with huffs, puffs and groans. Cramp however? That turns you into Usain Bolt.

D is for…. diabetes

Because the one time no one can say anything if you have that second slice of cake would be ruined by diabetes. Several ladies I know had gestational diabetes. A form of diabetes that goes away once the baby is born. Meaning they had to  really watch what they were eating. And pray they didn’t have a craving for cookie dough. Click here for high risk groupings for GDM and also more information on treatment for it.

E is for…. emotion

Every single damn one. Sometimes all at once. Fits of unconsolable sobs because I dropped a fork on the floor. That will be its new home. I cannot retrieve the fork. It will stay there. With the Domino’s takeaway menu that got posted last week. I can’t see the floor over my ginormous planet sized middle anyway. I remember watching birth videos on YouTube (the one in the river?) Horrified. Begging Karl to watch with me. Crying because I didn’t think I could physically give birth. Then the next minute crying because I was just ‘so DONE’ with being pregnant and wanted to go into labour now!!!!

F is for…. flatulence (uncontrollable)

Not one often portrayed in the media or even in your day to day dealings with pregnancy. But I promise you, you will trump uncontrollably. Every time you bend down. Or stand up. Or breathe. These may or may not be smelly enough to effectively be considered biological warfare.

G is for…. Group B Strep

Group B strep is a common and harmless bacteria in over a quarter of the population. It colonised the vagina of just over 1 in 5 women. In pregnancy and labour it can cause complications including in utero infections or stillbirth. It is treated with a course of antibiotics during labour (source)

The test for this is relatively straightforward but unavailable on the NHS. So I ordered the test online here. I opted to test at home. My test came and out came two gigantic q-tips. The oral one was easy enough. But not sure if you can mentally picture a 36 week pregnant woman swabbing her own rectum? One leg up on a stool. Whilst watching Loose Women. It’s every bit as gruesome as you imagine but so worth it. Knowledge is power girls!

H is for…. hair

Pregnancy does wonderful things for your hair. It’s thick and luscious. However, it’s also… rampant. From hairy bellies (I have heard it termed affectionately the ‘hairy crab ladder’.) Tip – do not shave this. It will regrow. Stubbly. My stomach was hairy all over. I whipped it out to show everyone. I was fascinated by it.  In fact a friend of mine recently announced their pregnancy to me by telling me they had hairy nipples. I knew straight away what they were telling me. Yes guys, hairy nips. 

Not quite pregnancy related but whilst on the subject of hair – I had an emergency section so got  free trim down there. Because it was very much a case of “out of sight, out of mind” for me in the latter weeks of pregnancy. I had an infection in my scar which led to me having gauze on it. Now when it came to removing the gauze and covering plaster I was devastated to learn that pubes and plaster really don’t go well together. To cut a long story short, Karl had to cut me free with a pair of scissors. That’s love. 

I is for…. itching

Insatiable itching. Sometimes due to obstetric cholestasis which should never be ignored. Mild itching as the skin stretches is fairly normal but please get a midwife to check any incessant itching. Signs and symptoms of obstetric cholestasis cam be found here

J is for…. jugs

Yes. It’s true your boobs are likely to get bigger. Your boobs are one of the most obvious signs of pregnancy (bar the whole belly thing). I had boobs which were too sensitive to even have a towel touch them at the beginning. And by the end cold air would cause a sharp pain in them cause by pregnancy Raynauds.

I was also shocked when my nipples changed size and colour. As big as bloody dinner plates. They were surrounded in pigmentation too. I never expected that. Especially so early on in the pregnancy. I kept telling (and showing) my friends. Look the nipple colour is leaking into my boobs!

Nor did I even consider that my breasts would leak during pregnancy (started around 20 weeks). It scared me. It sounds stupid. That’s what breasts are for. It just made the whole pregnancy tangible at that point.

For some engorgement starts in pregnancy ( the ‘porn star boobs’). Never happened to me. Mine remained firmly in my armpits when laid on my back.

K is for…. kegels

Somewhere around halfway through your pregnancy the midwives start to ask you about your pelvic floor. I was probably as honest with my answers as I am when I tell myself “just one square of dairy milk”. Have you been practising your kegels? Truth is, I maybe tried once to stop my wee. I had all the time in the world to practice and never did. I’ve been pretty lucky pelvic floor wise but know some ladies that have to be more than a little careful when laughing. Or coughing. God forbid they sneeze. 

L is for…. lightning crotch

This is a difficult one to describe but here goes..it’s a sudden sharp pain in the foof. Like someone has just kicked you in the vagina. Yeah. Not a nice one that.

M is for…. mask of pregnancy

Essentially this is blotchy areas of pigmentation. It’s the same process as your nipples getting darker (easier for a baby to root around and find) but just in overdrive. Folic acid has been linked to reducing chances of this but I’m not sold on that haha.

N is for …. nausea

Morning sickness. I feel like every bloody way I turned, I was faced with lies about pregnancy nausea. For one, it began in the morning but was by no means exclusive to it. I was sick daily around 10x a day until 26 weeks. Would wake up and dry retch some bile. Dry cracker and ginger biscuit for breakfast. Which would come back up. I wasn’t able to keep my pregnancy secret for 12 weeks as I would have liked as I ran around vomiting into zip lock bags (easy disposal). I couldn’t open the fridge or go into the kitchen for weeks. I could smell…. something. Karl disagreed but was very patient with me. Most nausea and vomiting disappears between 12-16 weeks but I do know many people that it didn’t disappear until after giving birth. Vomiting regularly can lead to dehydration and hospital stays.

O is for…. oral health

I cracked my front tooth whilst pregnant. I looked like Jim Carrey in ‘dumb and dumber’. 

Thank you pregnancy for that one. Another common problem is bleeding gums. That’s if you can even get to brush your teeth without gagging of course. Again. All caused by hormones. They really have a lot to answer for!

P is for…. poo & piles

Well. I don’t even know where to begin. Pregnancy hormones play havoc with your digestive system. Some people had diarrhoea. Others constipation. Probably my favourite pregnancy poo story is this…

A friend of mine was constipated. Frustrated. Hormonal. So very, very pregnant. Remedies failing, she resorted to what I like to refer to as a manual evacuation. Donning some rubber gloves and generously lubing, she manually mined that tunnel. It’s just a fabulous example of how undignified pregnancy is. Also, kudos to her for the ingenuity. I’m genuinely impressed.

The other major butt issue from pregnancy is piles. Godawful bum grapes. Whether from pregnancy (the weight of the baby bearing down) or from pushing during vaginal births these little spicy balls of hell are so very common. And post baby pooping is made a whole lot worse when you have piles. It’s all about gently easing – like coaxing a skittish horse out of the stables.

Oh and don’t sweat it if you poop in labour. Seems to preoccupy a lot of worry time for pregnant women. You literally will not care if it happens. I can promise you that.

Q is for…. quickening

Those first little flutters of movements are known as quickening. To begin with they are very subtle. Often mistook for gas it is a truly magical experience. However it’s also one that increases any pregnancy anxiety. My placenta was anterior (in front) and subsequently meant I would feel far less movement. I felt this enormous sense of responsibility to monitor her movements. I had 3 episodes of reduced movements leading to visits to triage. No explanation as to the cause. Please visit HERE to see why it is so important to monitor foetal movements.

R is for…. reflux

The Gaviscon Guzzlers. There is nothing like the fire of heartburn. Downing bottles of Gaviscon like they were Cherry Lambrinis. For what it’s worth – Matilda was not hairy. I was expecting a werewolf with the amount of acid reflux I had. 

S is for…. swelling

Sure. You’ve heard of this one you say. Cute little cankles folded into a pair of sandals, spilling out the sides. Yeah that’s horrific. But no one prepares you for the possibility of a swollen vagina. A vagina that looks and feels like the eye socket of a boxer who lost his fight. And the inevitable thought. Nope. It’s swollen closed forever. I will never be able to give birth. 

T is for…. touching (unsolicited)

Strangers particularly. I know that unsolicited touching of bump and the inevitable advice that comes with it doesn’t bother some people. I found it grating. People seem to think pregnant women are fair game “are you sure it’s not twins?” No. No Sandra. But I’m sure you’re a div. “It’s definitely a girl/boy.” YEAH? Thanks for your 50/50 guesswork. “You really ought to…..” oh really? Thanks Sally. I’ll bear that in mind. Of course you just smile sweetly and agree. But for me, this was rage inducing.

U is for…. urinating

This is another one which attempts to prepare you for parenthood. Frequently waking in the night to pee. But that’s not the only way it prepares you. At every midwife or doctor’s appointment your sample is requested. Now for a lady to pee in those little pots is tricky to say the least. Now do that with a bowling ball on your lap and I can promise you, you  will pee on your hands. It’s a given. If like me, you would lose the tiny tube to pee in, you would resort to bringing your pee into the midwife in a variety of receptacles. Mainly small tupperware boxes. Sorry Karl – they are the ones you use for lunch! 

V is for…. varicose veins

This one shocked me. Did you know you can get varicose veins on your vagina!? A friend told me this happened to her during pregnancy. 

W is for…. wide nose

I have never had a small petite nose. This is true. But my word it doubled in size during pregnancy and has yet to return to its original size (much like me in general to be fair…) 

X is for…. x rated

There are many pregnant women who find their changing bodies sexy. Many partners who reap the benefits of that. However, equally as normal is for either (or both) parties to just really not want it. Tiredness, aches, whatever the reason. For the partner perhaps the incessant flatulence? The awkwardness and lack of easy positioning? For some women the thought of getting intimate when pregnant is horrendous. It leads to much anxiety about the state of your relationship post-baby if you can’t be intimate now. But rest assured all is perfectly normal, although feelings can be hurt so discuss libido sensitively! Ps guys…. it’s laughable that you would think you are somehow poking the baby. Just saying.

Y is for…. yoga

I bought a pregnancy yoga DVD. Why didn’t you go to a class you ask? Please reference F in this post for all the reason you could need. I had a zen week in my second trimester where I did the DVD. But by the 3rd trimester, I would put it on and sit on the floor eating. So yeah. Do it if you can. It’s meant to make labour easier. At the very least the music is calming to eat to.

Z is for…. zzzz

One thing is for sure. Pregnancy affects your sleep. Whether it’s first trimester fatigue akin to narcolepsy (seriously never known tiredness like that) or third trimester insomnia. It’s your body’s way of readying you for life with a newborn. Yeah thanks for that. 

Some other lovely pregnancy issues include but are not limited to:-

  • Sweating
  • Cold/flu like symptoms
  • Nosebleeds
  • Getting marooned in the bath tub (SOS)
  • Linea negra
  • Pigmentation
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Stretchmarks

On loss…

I know the post has been light hearted but I feel it’s only fair to discuss loss. 

1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. It’s hard not to obsess over this statistic. Instead try to think of the fact that 3 in 4 pregnancies do not.

Those that have lost, regardless of gestation. Your pregnancies matter. Your babies matter. Though perhaps that is a topic for another day.

So…. would I do it again?

Absolutely.



On travelling with a baby…

So this was the start of our journey. Our first with a baby. I was so excited to finally leave the hospital. The first of many journeys.

 I have decided to write about travelling with a baby – highs, lows and poo. 

That first car journey home I sat in the back seat with a pillow against my stomach. Every bump and corner had me wincing. Post c-section the stomach muscles are just not there. I felt like a water balloon sloshing around the back seat. 

ON FOOT

The first time we tried to leave the house as a family was a walk around B&Q. Close enough to home that we could run back if needed. I wore slippers. Actually I think I wore PJ’S. Despite the meticulous planning, it still took an hour to get ready. I cannot fathom how it takes so long. I mean really you don’t need that much. But whatever the cause, getting out of the house is a herculean task. Until your baby is in some vague pattern of sleep / eat where you can time the trip for minimal poonami/meltdown potential, leaving the house is a complete gamble. How many nappies? If I feed her now will we be safe for a 10 minute walk? To be fair, with a newborn, all bets are off.

My first few trips out of the house were terrifying. I was afraid that Matilda would cry and people would judge me – ruling me a terrible mother. I was afraid that the pushchair would not fit through doors or that someone would take their eyes off the road, mount the kerb and hurt my tiny, fragile baby. I have pre-existing anxiety but I’m fairly certain all new parents feel this to some extent.

TRAINS

My first experience of public transport (barring a trial run on the bus with my mum) was taking Matilda into London to meet some of my “mum squad”. She was 6 weeks old. My heart was pounding. Don’t fall on my baby. That man is sneezing. She hasn’t been vaccinated yet. Oh gosh it’s busy. Please don’t judge me. I’m in everyone’s way. What if I can’t find a lift? Will someone help me?

Matilda slept all through her first underground experience. I aged about 10 years. I have taken her on the underground on 2 more occasions since and the only tip I have is to pre-plan a route here checking for step free access. Some lines are more baby- friendly than others. Jubilee line you wonderful thing you! Bakerloo line not so much. Avoid rush hour. 

When it comes to fear of being stuck with a flight of stairs, I have to say I have never had to look around for help. People are generally far kinder than I would give credit for. Surprisingly, it’s often men. I would have thought women, having potentially been in this situation (huge pushchair, several huge bags containing enough food drink nappies and clothes for a 2 week holiday) would be the first to help. But, in my experience this has not been the case!

PLANES

We have been fortunate (or foolish) enough to have taken Matilda away on holiday twice already. We travelled to Crete in May 2016 at 14 weeks. And again to Rhodes at 19 weeks. 

The pros of taking a baby this small away on a plane is that they tend to sleep for most if not all of the flight. Matilda has been extremely well behaved on planes. So far. Matilda wasn’t weaning so it was just milk. Obviously mamas still boobing your taps come with you. However any formula feeding mums have to think about so much when travelling. Which is a blog for another day if anyone is interested in a checklist for what to take away for a baby in my experience?

The cons. Economy class with a human on your lap. Other people’s germs ( I have a real bug bear about this!) Tutting. I was fuming to walk past a middle aged couple who rolled their eyes at each other when I sat in the aisle opposite them and made a snide comment to their friends in the seats in front. Of course I said nothing. But I paid just as much for the flight as they did and have just as much right as them. Now don’t get me wrong. I was that person crossing my fingers and toes that I wouldn’t be sat next to a baby. So I do get it. Now I hope that any mum/dad could sit next to me and have a cheery hello! Or at the very least the empathetic nod/smile. You know the one. 

 I have to say Thomson were absolutely fantastic with us. What a lovely touch! Definitely going in the memory box.

SHITUATIONS

Nope that’s not a typo. But whatever you want to call it. Poop explosions are par for the course when it comes to parenting. Matilda has a great knack for hazard level pooping in public. Nothing is safe. I can look back and laugh now but my first solo public changing room poonami occurred on that trip into London when  Matilda was 6 weeks old. By this point I was a dab hand at nappies. At home at least. I’m not even sure how the poo got as far as it did. It was a complete outfit change. But it was like a crime scene that changing mat (I bring my own for her to lie on. Those pesky germs again!) I had poop on the packet of wipes, on my shoes, on her changing bag. I panicked. It was one of those double changing rooms. So a succession of far better mothers than I came in and took one look at my shituation and gave me sympathy smiles. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. 

However, the ultimate poonami came on a plane. Just as the seatbelt sign came on for landing. At 2am. Matilda had dealt so well with the heat. No poop explosions on holiday at all. So this came so out of left field. Karl was holding Matilda who was quite happily asleep. He looked at me and just said “Nicola” with panic in his eyes. As soon as we realised the gravity of the situation (Karl’s hand on her bum.. his hand… covered in poop) I began damage limitation. Blankets, muslins, small sleeping children nearby (ok not that one but you get the point) were wrapped round the offender to try and soak it up. Of course we were also sat in the middle of the plane meaning peak smell exposure and also we would be last to leave the plane. I used an entire pack of wipes. Karl had poop on both the front and back of his shorts. I found some later in Matilda’s armpits. It was my worst nightmare as both a mother and a passenger. To the lovely young girl who endured that with us, thank you for not moaning. It meant the world to us. We did it. We got through it. It’s far funnier in hindsight I must say. And so will you. And it’s so worth travelling.

Even now Matilda finds new ways to challenge me in public. Today for example, I prepared an extra oz of milk as it was warm. Which she promptly regurgitated all over my chest and then rubbed her face in it. What can you do? 

This. Is . Parenthood.

From someone who was afraid to leave the house with my baby to someone who has experienced all of this…. the fear does lessen and the benefits outweigh the negatives. Memories.

Gender disappointment and equality

I was messaged and asked to discuss gender disappointment and today feels the right day to do that.

Before I got pregnant, I had always said how much I would love to have sons. As soon as I got that positive result I just knew that meant I’d have a girl. I wasn’t disappointed. My wanting boys had more to do with loving robots, dinosaurs and Star Wars. But I’m female and I like those things so there is no reason Matilda can’t.

I worried for ages that Karl was harbouring disappointment at not having a son but he has never told me if he did. But gender disappointment is very common and very taboo. You are not meant to be anything less than grateful. I say screw that. It’s an emotional response you have no control over and certainly doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby or will be a bad parent. The way I see it it’s like a nervous fart. I have always farted when I was nervous. It might make other people uncomfortable and me a little embarrassed but I can’t help it! And it’s all over with fairly quickly!

When I think about having a little girl at the minute it’s (quite literally) rainbows, butterflies and unicorns. And some seriously cute clothes. However, Matilda will one day become a woman. This scares the heck out of me.

In a world where comment sections on a rape article can include “well what did she think would happen going dressed like that?” I have to sadly prepare her for how explicitly she has to say ‘no’.

She will grow up in a Britain that has been ranked 11th out of 18 countries in terms of pay equality between men and women. Where only just over a quarter of board members are women. (source).

She will grow up in a world where it’s OK to be topless on a beach in France but please don’t dare wear a ‘burkhini’. Where boobs out is fine as long as you aren’t breastfeeding (because that of course would make people feel uncomfortable). A world where a person being tried for rape will openly state that they thought she wanted it because of how she was dressed. 

She lives in a world where childhood stereotyping is rife. Where cute baby boys will “break some hearts”. Where boys are big and strong and girls are pretty. A world where revenge porn is freely uploaded online. Actually porn itself has become far more readily available and extreme. Generally (but not exclusively) degrading toward women. A study showing that of the 50 most popular pornographic videos -88% of scenes included physical aggression. 94% of those physically aggressive acts (including gagging and choking) were aimed at women. (source)

Mainstream media peddle idyllic lifestyles and blemish free (read: photoshopped) women thus feeding into any self perceived flaws. Where women can be “slut-shamed” and men tipped as “legends”.

When I think of these things I feel desperately sad. But. We have an opportunity to raise young women to be who they want. To achieve anything. To be as good as any man. Some of the strongest people I know are women. I’ve recently heard some female friends stories of overcoming adversity and become strong, fabulous women. The strength of character of these women is inspiring.

In light of the Olympics, I hope Matilda grows up to consider women like Laura Trott a role model. Team GB’S greatest ever female Olympian at only 24. My kind of hero. Or how about Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui who spoke about her period and competing (source)  and facing a barrage of abuse online for being ‘unhygienic’. Give no shits Fu Yuanhui. You absolute legend.

I think the Spice Girls had it right after all.

Girl Power

#FaceHerFuture

Those first few weeks

What do you see when you look at this photo? Or this one?

Some photos of a newborn with its mama? Well yes, that’s what the photo is of. But it’s not what I see. I see fear. Worry. Anxiety. There is nothing quite as wobble inducing as having a baby. 

As rose tinted as my glasses may become, I don’t know that I will ever forget that fear. 

There is no other job on Earth that you could be so woefully underprepared for. Whether you read 100 books (hi, Gina Ford) or none, there is nothing quite like the actual emotion of holding this tiny vulnerable newborn and thinking 

“Right…so what now?”

There is no manual (though Amazon will disagree) but there is well-meaning advice from family, friends and strangers. However this advice is like treacle. Sifting through it with baby brain and post-partum hormones is easier said than done.

I felt guilt at not automatically discerning one squawk from another initially. I felt fear at every turn and my Google search history could probably get me committed. In fact I will be doing a blog post on insane googling tomorrow. She would cry and I would Google. 

I had heard a lot about mother’s instinct and felt under pressure to decipher everything or be labelled a failure. I was worried I’d be outed as a fraud. Quick. This woman is not fit to MOTHER.

There was a period at the beginning where I dreaded it getting dark (Matilda was born in February so sundown was horrifically early) as night time waking filled me with dread.

But

Oh but. I get a pang of nostalgia when I look at the the above photos. I am brutally aware of how critical I was of myself. But I can’t help feeling sad at how quickly the newborn stage passed.

My friend Chloe (and the muse for this blog) came over today with her new baby boy Gus. He’s 18 days old. So cuddly and curly and sleepy. My ovaries ached. 

The only advice I could offer is “it’s normal to cry” and “it’s normal to google” and “how weird is it to own a human”. I remember how scary it was. I can share that I was scared too. And hope she doesn’t feel alone or abnormal.

It’s the steepest learning curve I’ve ever encountered.

This brute looked enormous next to Gus. It’s such a clichรฉ to say “where has the time gone?” But really, wow. 

Mum Squad

Firstly I would just like to thank everyone on Facebook for the amazing feedback I received following my labour disappointment post yesterday. It was truly overwhelming and leads nicely onto the blog post for tonight.

The importance of the “mum squad”.

This is no way belittles or diminishes the power and friendship of my childless friends but more so than ever I need the Mom Army for support.

Childless friends may patiently coo over photos of my baby or allow me to talk about her but they probably draw the line at me sending photos of Matilda’s poop filled nappy. The Mum Squad however? Absolutely fine with it. And will happily disect the rogue poop in question.

This kind of friendship as a new mum is invaluable.

Every new mum needs someone to message at 3am. Like minded souls who can discuss nipples leaking during orgasms. Which apparently can happen. And definitely means no faking it!

The whole earth shattering topsy-turvy nature of becoming a mother is soothed by having the mum squad. Easing your fears over rashes, feeds, latching, sterilising, crying, sleeping. 

I’m lucky to be surrounded by fabulous, fierce females. I downloaded an app and put myself forward to became part of a group online of women all around the UK due around the same time. These ladies have become my friends. I have watched their bellies swell, babies born and grow. We have cried together and laughed together. There’s 100 women. So you may not all get Christmas cards! Sorry!

Case in point for how fabulous they are…after my post about comparing Matilda to others a conversation was struck up and #meltdownmonday was invented. Taking photos of the babies having a meltdown over something trivial – showing the other side of the ‘happy fb post’ coin. I have never laughed so much in my life. What glorious women I know.

I also paid for NCT antenatal classes. Mainly because I had forgotten to book the NHS ones but also because it is a small group of people meeting weekly to cover these topics. Again we were all due around the same time and became friends. We take the babies to baby classes together and also discuss the wine choice of the day. We have a karaoke evening booked in October and I cannot wait! Like minded and fantastic women who again are available at any time of the day or night.

The people I have connected or reconnected with because of Matilda have given me fantastic advice and support. I used to think, pre-pregnancy, why do these people speak to each other? What can they have in common other than children? Turns out that’s enough. It’s a starting point. People that understand.

If you are reading this and feeling alone all I can say is find some way to connect. Local baby groups are great ice breakers but if you are too anxious look online. There’s lots of us! We don’t bite!

In addiction, mutual aid (such as AA) doubles your chances of long term recovery. I feel like motherhood is similar. The more peer support you have and accumulate, the better your odds of a smooth ride.

The Mum army. Recruitment drive done.

Labour Disappointment

**warning** birth story in post

I apologise in advance if this post comes across in any way as whiny. I realise how very lucky I am to have a happy healthy baby at the end of the whole process but labour itself was somewhat of a disappointment.

I spent a considerable period of time after giving birth very upset at the way it panned out. I cried a lot. I was offered a debriefing at the hospital I gave birth in. Time has given me some clarity and perspective but my mind took a dark turn for a while. I didn’t get postnatal depression. But a traumatic birth could so easily lead you there. 

For those who are pregnant and googling every type of labour horror story going this post isn’t meant to scare. Childbirth is a truly magical process (one that hurts like hell!). Every labour is different and I am proud of my story. I write this post now not to scare but for me to let it go.

I am truly amazed at what a woman’s body goes through in pregnancy and labour and I would like to high-5 us all for it. I got my baby here safely and that is ALL that matters. But my blog is my confessional and that includes confessing to things that maybe are slightly taboo. Such as labour disappointment.

I felt shame at my body for not doing what it was supposed to do. I felt anger at people who with good intentions told me “oh well it’s over she’s here now”. I felt hurt that there were photos taken of my daughter before I even got to hold her. I felt jealous when people told me their wonderful straightforward labour stories. I felt frustration when people jokingly commented “too posh to push”.

Now 6 months on I am able to tell my birth story without crying! Phew! Labour is such an individual experience and mine was no better or worse than the next woman. But it IS mine and here it is, warts and all.
My birth story:

I love organisation and if there is a list to be written I am in my element. But I knew that you have to roll with the punches when it comes to childbirth. So my birth plan was as follows:

1) labour at home for as long as possible. 

2) delayed cord clamping and cord blood donation

3) skin to skin straight away.

I wasn’t concerned about the lighting, the temperature or midwife shift changes. “What will be will be” I thought. I got none of those things. 

Instead I had reduced foetal movements at 41 weeks coupled with an “unusual” heart trace. I knew that inductions statistically lead to higher chance of cascading interventions (forceps, ventouse etc). So I asked for a few more days with regular monitoring in the hope that baby would get a wriggle on herself. I tried EVERYTHING. I could not have gyrated any harder on that birthing ball. I rubbed my stomach clockwise with my right hand whilst jumping facing a full moon (no really….). Nothing. Matilda eventually arrived at 41+4.

I was induced. 

Day 1 – my stomach was doing somersaults as I checked and rechecked my hospital bag. Karl and I had spent our last baby free day eating takeaway pizza in bed watching documentaries on Netflix. It was perfect. I was going into hospital to be induced at 8am. Potentially today is the day that I get to meet my baby. What will she look like? Nerves and excitement pulsed through me. Unlike spontaneous labour I knew that I was about to do this! Thinking through all the breathing exercises I had practiced and how I was gonna just ace this. They started with a 24 hour pessary called Propess coupled with a sweep. I wasn’t allowed  home to kick start labour so Karl and I traipsed the corridors of the pre and post natal wards. Walking past new mums with babies and thinking “give it a few hours and I will be where you are”. I had cramps and backache that at times took my breath away and then…they went. 

Day 2 – I had the most aggressive sweep by a doctor who told me he never fails to kick-start labour with his sweeps. He said if I wasnt in labour by the end of the day he would eat his hat. If you’ve never had a sweep, allow me to describe it (apologies this is crude….). It is like being frantically fingered by someone who has no idea what they are doing! Today they tried another method of induction. Prostin gel. The gel was inserted into my cervix in order to shorten it and bring it forward again hoping to kick start labour. This time I didn’t even get cramps. I was due to have a 2nd lot of Prostin gel inserted that evening but there was a doctors strike and no one was available. So some hospital food and Netflix with a side order of tantrums and tears. 

Day 3- I cried to Karl. I was frustrated. I just wanted to wait at home. I couldn’t bear watching people come in after me only to be leaving with their babies and I hadn’t even started. I was exhausted emotionally. They inserted the 2nd lot of Prostin gel early in the morning. I was still only 2cm dilated. I walked up and down some stairs that I found. Huffing and puffing and dragging my pregnant ass around. I was examined internally and I had bulging membranes meaning my waters could easily be broken.

*NB This is the cascading interventions I mentioned earlier. Artificially forcing each stage of labour. 

I was told to “wait my turn” to go upstairs to the delivery suite. About 7pm contractions started. By 10pm I needed the TENS machine. I enjoyed them. I breathed through them. Start. Middle. End. This is happening. Oh my gosh. What if I am not ready? I don’t think I am ready.

 At 11pm I was taken to delivery suite. My contractions were really ramping up now but cervical dilation was slow. The midwife was confident that she could break my waters as my contractions were good and I was coping well she thought I would be fine without the syntocin drip (a hormonal drip that essentially takes contractions from 0-100 to speed it all up). I had gas and air when they broke my waters. This was more to relax me as it was fairly pain free. I laughed a lot at the gushing water. There was a lot of meconium (read – baby poop) in my waters. Cue much more maniacal laughing (gas and air) when they referred to it as pea soup. Cervix 4cm.

Day 4- At this point they were concerned with her foetal heart trace and I did end up with the syntocin drip and later an epidural (boy that drip really does ramp things up!). My CTG (they were monitoring my contractions and babies heart rate) was abnormal and I spiked a temperature. The call was made for an emergency C section. I vaguely remember the talks of “if it goes wrong we can remove your uterus blah blah blah”. They put the pen in my hand and I signed my life away. 

I kept apologising to Karl. I felt like such a failure that my body let me down. It had one job and it sucked at it. All I had wanted was him to be proud of me. And I was failing.

The caesarean was scary but not painful. When someone described it as feeling as though someone is washing up inside you that is fairly accurate. A planned c section could truly be a lovely experience however and I would happily have one again.

 She came out grumpy and covered head to toe in meconium. I vomited straight away (from the spinal). I began to shake and I could not hold her. I tried to get a peek as Karl held her out to me but I couldn’t really see her. 

Then the pain started. I could feel every tug and pull a lot more and I could hear them saying “bleep the consultant. I can’t stop the bleeding”. I asked what was wrong and they said “nothing – we are just stitching you up”.

I remember nothing else for about 24 hours. I am told my uterus was taken out of my body as I was haemoraghing. I lost 3 litres of blood. They stopped the bleed, popped the uterus back in, started to sew me back up and I bled again. Lots of talk of putting me under a general anaesthetic and I apparently begged them not to. The surgeon said “better put it in her notes that she’s refusing this”. Eventually she gave me no option. She put me under. Karl was ushered out, Matilda in his arms and he didn’t even get to say goodbye. Whilst this post is selfishly about how shitty I felt, this must have truly been terrifying for Karl and marred his experience of labour and childbirth also.

Afterwards I was taken to recovery for several hours as I was struggling to maintain my oxygen levels. All I kept saying is “I want my baby”. I was on oxygen for 24 hours total.

Transferred to high dependency unit where I was on continuous observations with a midwife sat at the end of my bed. I was finally able to have some skin to skin. Matilda lay on my chest for 4 hours. I don’t remember this and I struggled to look at the photos. In fact I feel jealous that there are photos of my daughter before I even got to meet her. It just doesn’t feel fair.

It transpired I had sepsis and was picked up and treated by an amazing team of doctors and nurses. Although having blood drawn from my groin as all my other veins had collapsed is not something I wish to ever repeat.

What follows is a standard c section recovery.

I feel like I missed out on so much of her first day but I would do it all again to meet her. I can’t get back that missing first day but I am so grateful to Karl for taking these photos as hideous as they are. It’s proof that it’s not all bad.

I did what I had to do to get my baby safely into this world. And I am so proud of myself for that. I no longer feel disappointed that it didn’t go my way. Yet again, distance, clarity and perspective helped.

Radio silence

Apologies for the huge gap between posts. I have been extremely busy fumbling my way through parenthood. Matilda turned 6 months old on Thursday and I have been thinking about returning to blogging from a place of being slightly more sane.

The topic for tonight is COMPARISON

Women in particular are guilty of this. Our media and trashy mags parade ‘who wore it best’ in our faces on a daily basis. Incredible transformations and clickbait articles make self-criticism a kind of self-deprecating crack for the 21st century.

Celebrities post baby bodies and gorgeously coiffeured hair and fabulous “the baby just fit into MY routine” attitudes certainly made me feel less than great. As a new mum with stretch marks resplendent across my stomach and hair that at best was brushed weekly, I felt like a failure. Post-partum hormones hey?

However the inner critic was harshest when it came to comparing Matilda. The constant stream of “my baby does this…” and “oh doesn’t she do x y or z?” was relentless both in my real life and online.

I worried that she didn’t sleep enough, cried too much and wasn’t doing what she SHOULD be doing. I feel guilty thinking back on this. Matilda was perfect and, as babies are wont to do, developed at her own pace. I feel sad that I spent so much of her first few weeks hurrying her along.

So my advice? Unwarranted perhaps but given with the best intentions.

Place expectations to one side. I think as adults in a  fast-paced modern world used to living by deadlines this is much easier said than done. Whilst in the womb, we allow our babies the time to grow. Once born we expect so much of them. Their universe grows exponentially and every experience is new and overwhelming. When she cried during the night, it wasn’t to annoy me or because she was in some way ‘faulty’; she just needed reassurance that her constants (Karl and I) were there. When she woke every time we sat down to eat (seriously… plating up was basically an alarm clock) it wasn’t done as an initiation of fire into parenthood. She had a need or a want.

She had no other way to communicate her needs. Once I let go of my expectations, it became easier. She found her own routines and she led the way. 

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Mainstream media and social media are such a falsehood. The happy bonny babies posted all over your Facebook (and yes, I am just as guilty of this as the best of them) had a meltdown 30 minutes prior. We cherry pick the moments to share. But, all babies cry. All babies wake in the night (some more often than others) and all babies want love and affection. They have moods just like we do and most importantly are not robots.
So breathe. Take five minutes. And don’t expect too much.

To sum it up, here is a photo of Matilda. Crying. Because I wouldn’t let her grab her soiled nappy. And I love her for her feisty weirdness.

The newborn days of random waking and crying has passed but I still learn every day from her. I wouldn’t change her for the world.

My gunt

So to start with let me explain (for those who don’t know) what a gunt is.

Not exclusive to new mums, a gunt is an amalgamation of gut and … lady garden. It’s the saggy pooch of skin that hangs down below your belly button.

Anyone who snapped back into their pre-pregnancy jeans without a hint of sag or stretchmarks – you can stop reading now.

Matilda turned back to back when I was 36 weeks pregnant. I was all swollen ankles and a tube map of stretchmarks. And so, so, so hairy.

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This is when my round bump suddenly deflated below my belly button. It left a squishy dough like patch of skin. 8 weeks pp it’s still there – inconveniently just hanging over my caesarean scar.

This means that everyone who wants to look at my caesarean scar has to get me to lie down and lift my stomach up. And I thought the indignity ended with childbirth? Yeah. Right. I reopened a small patch of my scar and was told I had to stop it from getting sweaty. Mortifying. Two problems. 1) I’m not sure who finds the time to lie down holding their stomach up for an hour twice a day – even without a newborn. 2) my anxiety and nerves coupled with hormones had me in pools of sweat for weeks! So here I am on antibiotics again. Ugh.

Now you know about my gunt- onto the topic for today. Summer holidays. We have a few trips to look forward to this summer – Crete in May is the first. I have nothing that fits. Not without highlighting the gunt. Matilda on the other hand has a wardrobe to DIE for. Including these gorgeous pram shoes purchased from a fab online shop Lily Loves Bows. They have some gorgeous pieces and I look forward to getting some more for Tilda.

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I imagine I’ll be packing a wardrobe of oversized sacks to hide away under. I’ve been walking miles and miles every day (to escape the claustrophobic I’d previously blogged about here) but whilst I’m losing weight, the gunt remains.

I would like to write a body confident post. I hope one day I can. But this is not that day. I will be scouring WordPress for postpartum weightloss blogs and will be looking for a guest blogger at some point.

I decided to overhaul my diet. It’s going fairly well. In the post-partum blur of the last 8 weeks our diet has been carb laden and mostly ready meals. I’m convinced it’s added to my feeling sluggish. But now we’re finding our feet with this parenting malarkey and it’s time to start eating right.

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Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and garlic. With a dash of white wine (it would be rude not to).

To update on Matilda post vaccinations – she’s slept most of today but is now feeling much better.

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I think we’re doing just fine.