The ‘New Mum Land’ that time forgot

Being a new mum is daunting – but I knew the second time must be much easier – after all, this is not my first time at the rodeo. Two and a half years ago I had been a new new mum and there wasn’t anything that could surprise me about it now.

And as usual, I was wrong. It would seem some new mum agency in fancy black suits (or perhaps just massive pants and maternity pyjamas) had zapped me with a memory erasing device (presumably made up of a Gin based compound) and I had absolutely no recollection of some of the elements of being a new mum – that are all coming back to me now.

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1. How tiny they are

Yes – of course I know they are small. We all know they are small. But quite how small I had completely erased. How light they are to hold. They weigh the same as a pickled onion and the ickle-ness of their limbs is mesmerising.

The first time you see your toddler after spending a few hours with your new born he will look like a twenty eight year old competitor in the World’s Strongest Man competition – the one where they pull a Land Rover along by their neck muscles. You try and pick up your toddler and realise he weighs the same as a Grand piano – and when you go back to pick up the new born you misjudge the weight so much you hit yourself full in the face with the baby.

2. How difficult it is to get them dressed 

The first time my first midwife asked me to get the baby undressed so she could examine him will remain in my memory forever – the shame of it. My fumbling fingers and nervous twitches, the length of time it took to get his vest off and things over his tiny head – all the while your eyes wide with terror that you may accidentally snap off his arms or dislocate his joints. I thought if this was how long it took to get him dressed we were both better off naked!

And I’m here to tell you it doesn’t change the second time around – trying to get the tiny nappy around him and trying to put his legs down the holes of his massive baby grow – it’s like trying to put an unshelled soft boiled egg in a sleeping bag.

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3. The noises they make

You’re used to the hollers, shouts and Earth shaking screams of your toddler – you forget the sound of a new born. They sound like baby Raptors emerging from their shells. The sound comes from deep within them and is like a cute baby piglet screaming from three houses down. The sound of yours is quite sweet – but the harmony of six new borns on the labour ward, at 2am, for an hour – loses any novelty pretty sharpish.

Considering they’re so tiny and so sweet – the sound of their wind and pooping action is remarkable. One fart from a new born is enough to wake up the toddler and see him sprinting to the window to check out the cool motorbike that must be speeding past (true story) and one movement will make you think he’s been sneaking baked bean toasties into his diet. Their whole bodies shuddering with whiplash when they indulge in a bowel movement is heart breaking.

4. The smells they make

You have got used to your toddler’s full on adult shits that make your eyes water and put you off that tuna sarnie you were eying up for lunch – you misremember new borns being stinky too. But they don’t smell – at all. Their nappies are a delight (smell wise) and there it is – that beautiful new born baby smell that is indescribable but brings back exactly how you felt that first time.

5. How difficult it is to clean their bums:

using only tiny cotton wool balls and a bowl of water as you carefully hold up their minuscule frog legs and ‘gently’ wipe off what can only be described as black treacle quick drying cement from the depths of Hell.

6. What it feels like to “get no sleep”

This is something we must block out, as a human race, to ensure we have another baby. You mentally prepare yourself for your new born. You know you’re lucky that the toddler is a dream boat who has been vigorously trained for two years with the modes of CBeebies cut off time and triple layered black out blinds. You thought you were having a tough day if he awoke before six. Ha. Ha. You didn’t know you were born!

You now have not slept for around 36 hours. You studied an experiment like this once in GSCE Psychology and you’re pretty sure everyone died. The only sleep you have is tiny bouts of micro sleep where you momentarily doze off before your heavy head jerks you awake once more and your eyes dart to the new born to check all is well. And just one hour of sleep turns you into Julie Andrews!

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7. How fucking hard breast feeding is

You forgot this. You got a bit smug – you know what it looks like and feels for the baby to latch this time – and he’s done is straight away. Oh this will be easy. I’m so good at this shit.

Thirty six hours later, your body and mind utterly drained, your nipples sore and chapped, Lansinoh all over the shop, your arse numb – Holy Crap this is hard. It’s fucking hard.

8. How many pictures you will take

You knew there would be some snaps – but it’s day two and you need to upgrade your phone as it doesnt have enough storage capacity. And you’ve made a short film and award winning documentary.

9. What your body feels like

You have a long list of what you will do when you’re no longer weighed down by being pregnant. Most of your list involves carafes of wine, exotic spicy food and marathon running. You imagine shedding the baby like removing a cushion from up your jumper and leaping down the street singing ‘Everybody’s Free’. It doesn’t quite work like that.

Your body looks the same as it did at nine months pregnant – just with less tone. You won’t be running any marathons just yet. After a Cesarean agony is: breaking wind (purposefully), sneezing, coughing and God forbid – laughing. You walk around like Mr Burns and dread the day when you’ll need to defecate.

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10. How much love you will feel 

That one gets you every time.

 

In case you haven’t guessed – we had our baby boy. 7lbs, 15oz.

Boil in the bag baby – why being pregnant and a heat wave don’t mix

There are certain things that go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong- wine and cheese, shoes and socks, olives and wine, buckets and spades, most things with wine actually – being heavily pregnant and a heatwave… oh no, Wait. Not that one. Come to think of it.

While you are all posting your sodding selfies on Instagram of you soaking up the sun with various summer alcoholic treats – mojitos, cool beers, cider bubbling between ice cubes – I am sitting,  nay squatting, near an open window with an industrial sized fan next to me in an overly stretched maternity vest and marquee like pants, sipping milk in the delicate time zone between dairy delight and curdled turd water. I sweat all the time anyway – but now I just leak, like a rusty Buddha garden water feature.

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Am I summer ready? Ha. I put the ‘beach’ into beached whale. If I wore a bikini I would be arrested. They don’t make a suncream lotion bottle big enough to smother over the hideous gargantuan mass I have become. I can’t reach my toe nails to paint and I will need a team to help me shave my legs. I am only hot in the literal sense!

Could I just go in a paddling pool? Well, first that would require me pumping it up – that would surely make me pass out from exertion. If I managed to pump it up and sit in it I would never be able to get up again and more pressingly, the neighbours will wake up and wonder how they have been transported to the Serengeti.

“Barbara! Come quick, there is an actual Hippopotamus over t’fence in some sort of watering hole! Grab the polaroid.”

And what am I supposed to eat? I crave carbs but I can only just about manage ice cream, milk and prescribed antacid tablets. I may as well crush the tablets up and use them as a sort of hundreds and thousands alternative.

I also have a toddler to look after – but I don’t want your sympathy.

I remember when heat waves would be fun – but those days disappeared as soon as we had a baby and realised it’s basically our job to keep baby cool, out of the sun and in no way exposed to this death star! This continues into toddler-hood where we spend our days trying to force feed them juice, sorbets and squash (despite them having no interest), covering every cm of them with cream or protective clothing and wafting things at them in case they over heat. All the while making sure they aren’t vitamin D deficient for Christ’s sake!

(one year we put him in the fridge! We had no choice)

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Last time I was heavily pregnant in the peak of winter. There was heavy snow and ice on the ground and we were house bound – I thought that was bad! HA. If only I had known the alternative.

Being, as I am, full term pregnant in this heat is beyond worse. Especially as all I can do, as I sit by my fan, is imagine (and see if I go on social media) how much fun everyone else is having while I watch the sun from behind my shaded shield feeling sorry for myself – missing out on the three days a year mother nature gives us a sunny day in the UK.

I have to crawl up and down my stairs about 76 times a day to empty my squashed bladder – this sort of cardio at this stage makes me want to vomit. I also have to put up with constant fanny daggers from my soon to be born son.

The only pro I can see so far is that if you are constantly by an industrial sized fan and you pass any wind – it is immediately dispersed through the air and keeps your cover! #winning

Bring on the winter!

Bring on the birth!

I’ll do it right now, no drugs – get that paddling pool pumped up!

Not just for Kate Middleton : Seraphine – Leeds, Review

is it your first?

I was lucky enough to be invited to a new maternity store opening in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds. But to be entirely honest with you I had never heard of the name ‘Seraphine‘.

Now in Leeds!

None the less, I accepted the invite, stroked my huge 33 week pregnant stomach and decided we should go – if only to get out of the house for the first time in weeks. I had a look at their website and it became glaringly obvious that there was a reason I had not heard of this brand – it was a brand worn by goddesses such as Kate Winslet, Gwen Stefani, Benedict Cumberbatch’s lucky wife and The Duchess of Cambridge herself. They had clearly made a mistake inviting me.

My main concern was that this was not a brand for the ‘normal woman‘ (yes, I’m talking about me there). If these amazingly perfect pregnant celebrities and royalty wore these clothes –

1. Would they be able to dress me? A curvy woman.

2. Will they have even seen a bump this big before? I am quite unlike these celebrities who look like they’ve had a bit of bread when they’re pregnant; my bump is in a different league.

3. Will it be affordable? I’m not rich or famous – I’m just a normal mum.

4. Will this place be pretentious? The store is located in the Victoria Quarter, near Harvey Nichols – a shop I need to spend a week dressing up to visit. We all know that horrible feeling of wondering into a small boutique and being stared at with one look and one look only “You can’t afford anything in here, and you’re the wrong size, you don’t belong here…” The Pretty Woman effect, if you will (though I rarely wear my thigh high boots anymore).

I SO want that dress in the middle! (especially as my back is now my best asset).

A few days later I waddled off to the Victoria Quarter in my high street maternity dress, slightly nervous to see Seraphine for myself.

The shop is not at all as I expected. It is larger than most in that arcade and spacious – you are not nose to nose with any retail assistants. Upon walking in I felt immediately at ease – there was not the pretentious air or snootiness I was concerned about. The retails assistants were polite and friendly – more personable than most and chatty – without being invasive.

support tights

I was lucky enough to meet and chat to the founder of Seraphine: Cecile Reinaud – which you would think would be quite daunting, considering her success – but she was exceedingly warm and engaging and a joy to talk to.

I quickly asked about their sizes and prices (on behalf of the ‘normal woman‘). Their sizes range from a 6 to an 18 which I was impressed with and their prices are from as low as in their twenties to a higher end  –The Luxe range’ that boasts wedding dresses and occasion dresses in their collection.

tops designed for ease when nursing

Something I was really impressed with was that the vast majority of their clothes are designed for ease during nursing they had discreet poppers at the side, or straps with stretch. They had beautiful summer tops, a vast collection of jeans, support tights and an essential maternity set – The Bump Kit – that would keep you satisfied throughout your nine months if you adapted it with different accessories.

All of their staff are trained in bra fittings and they stock a range of underwear. They also have beautiful changing bags by StorkSak , specially designed shoes for pregnancy by shoe therapy and skincare by mama mio and Bloom and Blossom.  The changing rooms are very spacious too and not as daunting as changing rooms can be.

their range of jeans

Something I have found with many maternity clothes is that they seem to just over inflate their normal clothes (just today I am sending back several size 14 items from a shop that are absolutely enormous – marquee like pieces). 

designed with buttons for nursing – this top comes in an array of colours and designs and was my personal fave!

When I chose a top at Seraphine I had been eyeing up on their website they had my size (14) and I was thrilled that it fitted me just right. It wasn’t too big and I can honestly say I would wear it (and a lot of their clothes) after my pregnancy. It makes me feel very feminine and very pretty – and this is coming from a pregnant woman who has wallowed in her house for a few months weeping over how whale like she appears.

I was incredibly impressed with the store – and with the clothes – and it was a relief to see that Seraphine is not just for the likes of Kate Middleton – it is for the everyday pregnant woman too.

My only complaint is that I didn’t know about this brand sooner and my pregnancy is nearing its end (I will be going this weekend again as it just so happens to be my birthday!).

Seraphine is now open in Leeds Victoria Quarter* – go and have a look for yourself.

And afterwards I recommend going just around the corner to the Harvey Nichols cafe and having one of their non-alcoholic fruit cocktails. Or indulging in their afternoon tea – make a day of it. You deserve it; It’s what The Duchess would do!

*Victoria Foundry, Marshall Street, Leeds, LS11 9EH

Update 

After visiting the store again I purchased this dress. Absolutely love it.

  

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You won’t be like Binky … beware ‘reality’ TV mummy diaries

I am a big fan of Binky and I love to escape into the scripted reality world of ‘Made in Chelsea’, watching young, nubile, supermodel types supping champagne whilst I shove fistfuls of space invaders into my gob and neck merlot out of a tumbler. It’s pure escapism, so far removed from my life as a stay at home mum. And I was thrilled to see that Binky is with child. Congratulations to her.

However, something about it being on that show made me uneasy. The same uneasiness I get when I see adverts for Sam Faiers Mummy Diaries.

The uneasy feeling is one of wanting to shout at anyone watching the programs who hasn’t experienced pregnancy and motherhood first hand:

THIS IS NOT REAL! 

Maybe people aren’t as stupid as I take them for but I know a lot of young people aspire to be like these reality folks and it worries me that they are seeing a glossy perfect version of pregnancy and family life with a strong filter that will put ideas into their heads like “ooh, that looks lovely. I should do that. I can be just like Binky.”

Except you won’t. Not at all.

I fear the version of pregnancy and motherhood we are going to be projected on Made in Chelsea will be about as realistic as a Chicco advert. 

What we won’t see on Made in Chelsea, I can almost guarantee is:

  • Binky gaining four stone in pregnancy weight that she won’t be able to shift for four years after the birth of her child regardless of how many Zumba classes she does at the local leisure centre
  • Binky crying her eyes out on the toilet trying to have a movement whilst singing wind the bobbin up for the sixth time in a row to stop the child from crying
  • Binky struggling to cope on tax credits and frantically selling everything she owns on eBay just to be able to afford the wine she needs to get by
  • Binky calling JP a complete c#ntwaffle in the middle of the night for not hearing the baby and for ruining her life
  • Binky typing “should I LTB because he forgot my nipple pads?” onto mumsnet at 2am in the morning
  • Binky feeling overwhelmed and unwelcome at baby groups, struggling to make friends and only socialising with her cats for six months after the baby has been born
  • Binky arguing with a health visitor for implying the baby is behind in his development because he can’t pick up a raison with his pincer grip
  • Binky’s crusty bleeding nipples
  • Binky only being able to holiday at a child friendly caravan holiday (Hell hole) site 
  • Binky losing most of her friends and feeling utterly isolated
  • Binky shoving a dreadful sausage bap into her mouth at the soft play satanic cesspit (do they even do soft play in Chelsea?)
  • Binky buying peppa pig yogurts and only being able to get her child to eat potato smiles and fish fingers

What I think we will see is a beautiful, scrumptious, glossy, perfect version of motherhood and pregnancy – which I for one will be watching and enjoying as much as I usually do.

But I will take it with a pinch of salt, a bag of wotsits and a glass of red.

 

Do not feel any pressure to have an erotic labour

When I was twelve, at the puberty milestone (a stage of growing up, not the local pub) a lady came to our school to talk to us all about tampons.

I can’t remember the speech she gave and as a lady in her thirties now I’m wondering how she stretched it out into a speech but I do remember the boxes of free tampons she handed out.

I couldn’t hold mine as I had all my fingers in my ears, loudly humming the tune to Grange Hill. But I do remember seeing one and being absolutely petrified.

As the lady told us calmly about how to use them I gave her a suspicious stare and told myself there aint no way in Hell anything like that was being inserted anywhere near me. Was she crazy? I felt much the same way when we went on to learn about penises the year after.

So you can imagine how I felt when someone told me where babies come from.

Last week I sat down to watch a lady on ‘This Morning’ talk about how she had an orgasmic erotic labour.

I thought I would hate her. Not my type of woman, I thought. But I didn’t hate her. I listened with interest, munching on my popcorn as Philip Schofield carefully danced around the intimate details of a lady having an orgasm during an erotic labour as though he was casually asking about the new series of Home Fires.

She seemed nice – and it’s lovely that she had such a lovely experience. Good for her.

At the end of the interview Phil asked if every woman had the potential to orgasm during labour (I’m paraphrasing) and the lady remarked on how there was a culture of deep imbedded fear around giving birth – which was the problem.

I’ve heard similar things before – that it’s what our bodies are designed to do, that we should breathe the baby out, that it’s oh so natural – you just need to be calm and at one with yourself.

Why am I writing this? Do I have a point? Well, I just wanted to say to anyone out there who may give birth in the future –

please don’t beat yourself up if you’re not the type of person who can achieve orgasm through giving birth.

Please don’t feel any pressure to make your labour erotic. Some people just aren’t that type of person – and that’s really ok.

I was terrified when I was induced. I was not the type of person to do hypno-birthing (more like hippo birthing in my case). Still now I would rather watch the human centipede part two rather than watch a lady give birth. But I got through it – twice.

There wasn’t a single stage that could have become arousing. I was under fluorescent lights, projectile vomiting, swearing at my partner to get me a bastard epidural in between listening to ‘I’m every woman’ on my iPod. To be honest I find it hard to ‘get in the mood’ under normal conditions, even imagining Michael Buble’s new Christmas album sometimes leaves me cold. It wasn’t sexy – it never was going to be – for me.

I’m not that type of woman. And if you’re not it’s ok.

There’s enough pressure nowadays for us to have a natural birth, to enjoy it, to treasure it, to do it drug free …

I don’t want anyone to feel added pressure to take in an Ann Summers goodie bag and a Barry White CD.

If you can do your labour, as she did, at home, in the dark, with her partner, all mermaid like – I genuinely applaud you – if you just aren’t built that way – I applaud you too.