Where the party at? Pre-baby vs post-baby party timeline.

Parties are very different when they involve taking your baby along with you. The old me would have scoffed when people said “you just can’t relax with your baby around” and probably spouted some bullshit about not letting babies change your life. The old me was wrong. Partying with a baby is more risk assessments and firefighting overstimulation than drinking and dancing til you fall over. I have helpfully outlined the difference in the evenings below.

Pre-baby 2pm – Arrive and get handed a beer/large glass of wine.

Post-baby 2/3/4pm (depending on how long it took you to leave the house and if any poonami was experienced while preparing to depart) – Arrive and unpack mobile home from the car. Set up travel cot. Change baby’s nappy and clothes which are covered in piss and/or saliva. Feed baby after long car journey.

Pre-baby 2:15pm – drink second beer/glass of wine while mingling and chatting to everyone. Introduce self to new faces.

Post-baby 2:30 (or when unpacking/changing/feeding has commenced) – enter loud room full of new faces with baby. Jiggle baby repeatedly to stop baby crying. Pass baby back and forth to friends and family, resettling baby in between each new handler. Eventually give up and retreat to corner with baby on lap to allow them to settle and adjust to new environment. Signal to partner for glass of water, as knee-high in dehy(dration) after long drive and baby duties. Avoid new faces as feeling a mess and can’t be arsed.

Pre-baby 3pm – partake in glass of bubbly and cheers everyone. Commence snacking on crisps/olives while regailing party-goers of hilarious recent antics on drunken nights out.

Post-baby 3pm – Gently attempt to place baby on rug to play with fun but educational toys brought along to entertain them. Pick baby up and resettle when they cry. Repeat 4/5 times until baby finally seems happy to sit on floor surrounded by interested new faces. Pick baby up when someone gets too close/screams too loudly near them. Repeat 4/5 times. Eventually baby is happy. Signal frantically to partner for water and beer. Answer others questions about baby.

Pre-baby 4pm – feeling merry, sit down to dinner and engage in happy banter and/or rampant political debate. Increase volume slightly as merry becomes drunk.

Post-baby 4pm – set up high chair and strap baby in. Retrieve baby finger foods and snacks and proceed to offer them to baby between shovelling forkfuls of chilli into own mouth. Break back by repeatedly bending down to pick up whatever baby has dropped onto clean floor of party host.

Pre-baby 5pm – more drinking and engage in louder drunken conversation which now involves gossiping with party host.

Post-baby 5pm – clean up baby and surrounding area. Hand baby to daddy in order to go for quick piss and finish the other half of a, by now very warm, beer. Have quick five minute gossip with party host on way back from toilet.

Pre-baby 6pm – raid fridge/cupboard for gin or suggest a trip to shops to buy gin. By now quite definitely drunk.

Post-baby 6pm – take baby up for bath and bedtime routine. Bathe, feed and rock baby to sleep. Set up video monitor and stealthily creep out of room and downstairs to crack open beer number two. Still 100% sober. Continually check monitor and pray that baby stays asleep.

Pre-baby 7pm – gin flowing, engage with organised entertainment for the night, usually in the form of some sort of music quiz. Loudly whisper answers and excitedly shout ‘ooh ooh ooh’ when you know a song but can’t quite remember what it’s called.

Post-baby 7pm – baby has woken up crying. Re-rock baby to sleep. Curse.

Pre-baby 8pm – drunkenly prance around victorious as winners of quiz/ sulk bitterly in corner and whinge that questions were aimed at wrong era of music for me. Slug gin.

Post-baby 8pm – Rock baby back to sleep for third time since they went to bed. Increase volume of white noise to drown out wailing from downstairs. More cursing.

Pre-baby 9pm – forcefully suggest songs to be played that will get party started/ snatch iPad and line up some tracks on Apple Music to dance to. Include Beyoncé and old school garage.

Post-baby 9pm – Baby has finally (hopefully) settled. Take time to have quiet hug with partner and cheers with beer number 3 of the day. Still sober but feeling a little more relaxed, cue up some music to be played for listening enjoyment, e.g. Rolling Stones. Take it in turns with partner to guard door to music room to ensure it stays closed at all times and minimise risk of baby waking.

Pre-baby 10pm – encourage others to go to shops to get more booze. Partake in slinging shots of rum down own throat in between wailing Beyoncé lyrics and swinging hips wildly in definitely very sexy drunk dance moves.

Post-baby 10pm – drink beer and dance for two minutes before checking baby monitor. Continue to guard door. Repeat for next hour.

Pre-baby 11pm – more shots, more dancing, and maybe fall over a bit. Possibly offend someone with drunken remarks.

Post-baby 11pm – partner has gone upstairs to rock baby back to sleep. Look around, evaluate the drunkenness of other party guests and decide to call it a night. Head upstairs to sleep. Partner goes back down to rejoin party.

Pre-baby 11:30pm – possible tactical chunder. Follow with more gin and tonics.

Post-baby 11:30pm – partner also gives up and comes to bed.

Pre-baby 2/3am – slump into bed and commence snoring.

Post-baby 2/3am – wake up to baby crying, pass to partner while going for quick wee, feed baby, rock baby for 5-55mins depending on how much of a pain in the arse they are being.

Pre-baby 9/10am the next day – emerge from fetid pit with stinking headache and down a pint of water. Possibly vomit. Gingerly tiptoe downstairs, nod for tea/coffee and sit with head in hands or directly on table waiting for oblivion to arrive.

Post-baby 6/7am finally give up trying to get baby to sleep any longer. Change, dress and feed baby. Dress self and use baby wipe to ‘freshen up’ armpits and remove last nights make-up. Nod head for tea and stare into distance waiting for oblivion to arrive. Remember you have baby so will never catch up on lost sleep. Make excuses and prepare for long journey home. 

Pre-baby Return home and decamp to sofa in pyjamas. Order pizza. Watch ‘I give it a year’ for seventh or eighth time. Crawl into bed around 10pm.

Post-baby Return home and unpack everything but the kitchen sink from car. Put a wash on. Entertain baby. Envy partygoers who remained in bed past 6am for rest of day. Look at baby sleeping in arms later that day and realise it was all worth it. Sneak in quick ten minute nap on sofa and feel refreshed. Weed garden, cook dinner, bathe, feed and put baby to bed. Slump on sofa with partner and stare at TV for half an hour. Crawl into bed at around 8:30pm praying that baby will sleep through for first time ever. Prepare to be disappointed.

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Kind notice to non-parents of my child

Some things that people find acceptable to do to babies are just weird, annoying, creepy or downright wrong. Here is my list of things not to do to my baby:

1. Touch them.

Complete strangers please refrain from touching my baby AT ALL. I do not know you. My baby does not know you. I do not touch you. Do not fucking touch my baby. You weirdo.

Everyone else please don’t put your fingers in my baby’s mouth. They are the dirtiest part of you. Even if you washed your hands half an hour ago, I don’t care. They are tiny and vulnerable. Or they have teeth and they will bite you. Actually do put your fingers in their mouth and then they will bite you and I will laugh. Just don’t go within ten feet of them if you’ve got the lurgy. I do not want to deal with the dramas of a very upset baby with a viral infection.

2. Kiss them.

Complete strangers do not go near my baby with your dirty mouth you hear me!

Everyone else don’t kiss my baby on the lips. It’s weird and you have germs or bad breath or you stink of booze/fags/cheese/coffee/ a combination of the above. Plus why would you kiss someone else’s baby on the lips anyway?

3. Be offended when they don’t smile at you.

Complete strangers why do you keep saying to my baby “oh don’t I get a smile then?” Again, I feel like I’m repeating myself on this one, my baby does not know you. Why would he smile for you? He’s probably checking you out to see if you are safe or not.

Everyone else my baby is not a performing monkey. He does not smile on demand for me or anyone else. He has mood swings just like the rest of us. Just because he’s not smiling 24/7 doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with him or that he is unhappy. He will let you know when he is unhappy with his screeching howls thank you very much. The rest of the time he mostly looks confused because he is still trying to work the world out.

4. Put your face right in their face.

Complete strangers it is true that babies like to look at new faces but not when they are a matter of centimetres from their own. Plus you’re probably old and smell weird because those are the kind of people who think it’s ok to do this to a random baby in the street or in Marks and Sparks or wherever.

Everyone else if my baby is happy and making eye contact with you, then that’s fine and means he wants to play. You can return his eye contact and make funny faces at him/sing him songs/show him toys etc. If my baby is grumpy and looking away from you it means he has had enough of that thank you very much. He is probably tired and/ or overstimulated. The last thing he needs is your ugly mug all up in his grill. If there are multiple people the effect will be amplified. You know why? Because babies are people too! Tiny little ones. And they also have a sense of personal space. Some babies don’t like being stared at/poked/prodded by random fingers constantly. Sometimes they just want chill time. Don’t get my wrong some babies love all the attention, little divas and flirts they are. But not my baby. He’ll play for a bit but then you need to back the fuck off. Respect him as a person and don’t force your presence on him.

5. Start talking loudly to me/him and/or touch him while he is very obviously asleep in the pram.

Complete strangers just fuck right off.

Everyone else also fuck off because you know how long it took me to get him to sleep in the first place.

6. Call him by unapproved nicknames.

Complete strangers I’m not sure why you would, but whatevs, I’m probably (hopefully) never going to see you again anyway so 🤷🏻‍♀️ MEH.

Everyone else you know what his name is, please call him by it. Please don’t call him by his initials, add a ‘y’ to the end of his name or use his name twice in a row, which is a big thing these days apparently. His father and I carefully considered a wide range of baby names before deciding on the one that we did. Many names were vetoed (mainly by me). Suggestions that did not make the cut included Wayne Rooney, Aristotle, Axel and Zlatan. Given the trouble taken to choose his name we would appreciate you sticking to it. Ta.

7. Try to give him sugar.

Complete strangers he is a baby and doesn’t want one of your weird, dodgy sweets. Piss off.

Everyone else please don’t feed my baby shit. I don’t want to have to live with it when he develops a sweet tooth and has a tantrum every time he can’t have a bloody biscuit. 

8. Sit so fucking close to me or follow me around a shop/park/anywhere I am walking.

Complete strangers I am talking to you. Would you have followed me along to chat with me if I wasn’t pushing a pram. Probably not. (Though I did find that pregnancy seemed to have a similar effect). Why do you think that I want to walk around Tesco with you standing at my side cooing and jiggling toys at my baby? Don’t you have anything better to do? I’m sorry if you feel lonely and I’m happy to stop for a quick chinwag but please don’t then follow me around. It’s creepy.

9. Cry/scream back at my baby.

Everyone please don’t ever do this. This has never actually happened to me but I have heard of it happening to friends of both babies and toddlers. What kind of dickhead thinks that screeching in the face of a baby or imitating their cry is going to cheer them up? Yes it may stun them into silence momentarily but then they will, in all likelihood, begin to scream/cry at a much enhanced volume. Don’t be a prick. 

While we’re at it, do not ever dare to tell my child off in front of me (unless you are a very close relative and even then I would still expect to discipline my child myself). I once saw a woman on a plane yell at a child that was not her own “shut up, that’s enough now!” as the flight descended and the poor young girl cried hysterically (probably because her ears were popping and she couldn’t work out what the hell was going on). The flight was from Turkey and the mum did not speak much English but gave the best response possible. “Welcome to England. Fuck you”. Bravo that lady.

10. Withold my upset baby/child from me.

Everyone I really do not know why anyone would do this but again I have heard stories of babes crying in the arms of someone that is not mummy/daddy, mummy/daddy coming to take them with open arms and the person holding baby turning or walking away and refusing to hand them over. I mean seriously, WTF?! Who does that?! Not someone that would be holding my baby ever again I can tell you. Bell ends.

Well that’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure there will be many more dickish things that people will do to piss me off as my little boy grows into a big boy, and I will add them to the list with gusto.

The weird and wonderful world of mum forums.

Online mum chat often keeps me entertained during nap-trapped times. There are gripping, soap opera style arguments between mums trolling each other about which sleep training technique they have decided to use on their beloved bundle, mums showing off about what their baby can do that makes them so ‘advanced’ for an 8 week old, mums in desperate need of help and turning to the forums as a last resort in the hope they won’t be judged for it and even mums wanting to swap lego cards to help their kids complete a set. (I shit you not I read a whole thread about Lego swap cards. Don’t ask me why. At least a dozen local women were on the thread started by a lady asking if anyone had the elusive 133 in order that she could swap it for 91/122 or one of the other ‘rare’ cards. It was all very polite. I just found it hilarious to think that while their little darlings were tucked up in bed, mums were secretly online looking for swaps for them on the Lego black market). In my own boredom I thought I would round up some of the typical characters you might find on these time-wasting internet spaces.

The “I know everything to do with X because I have done XYZ and my own kid is perfect” mum:

Usually a first time mum. The mums with 2/3 kids probably either can’t be arsed with these forums or realise that all babies are different and noone has any answers because everyone is winging it. But this know-it-all mum does not believe that. Not only has she mastered ‘sleeping through the night’ but she’s also an expert on ‘baby-led weaning’ and is clearly a medical professional for all the health advice she gives. No matter what time of day it is, or where she is in the world (these forums tend to be worldwide) she is always at the top of the comments section on the thread ready to criticise whatever the poor, foolish mum who has asked a genuine bloody question has already tried/not tried. 

Want to know if anyone else’s baby is still waking all night long? Be prepared for this bitch to come in with a “can they self-soothe?” NO (because they are a fucking baby of course they can’t bloody self-soothe, this is the stuff of mythical legend surely?) She responds with “Oh well sounds like you have a sleep association problem girl. You should try XYZ sleep training technique worked wonders for mine, she literally sleeps 24 hours a fucking day now, I never have to do anything with her ever again because I was so amazing at teaching her to sleep”. (Err babies don’t need teaching how to sleep – I’m calling BOLLOCKS on that one – they managed in utero just fine. They just might not want to sleep anywhere other than in your arms is all). And god forbid if she is pro Cry it Out (CIO) and you are anti or vice-versa. Because she will hit you up with research. Yes links to articles will be fired back and forth like there is no tomorrow. Don’t want to do CIO – “Well I’m curious what you think about how a lack of sleep can affect children’s development?” Mmmm hmm, finger clicking head tilted to side gif required here. Interested in trying CIO – “Well your baby will probably end up in prison as a result of you leaving him to cry for twenty minutes”. Or some equally ridiculous over-the-top remark. Because that is what this woman does. She scaremongers. If you choose to parent in a different way to her, she tells you how wrong it is all going to go for you and that your child will likely explode because you are doing mumming the wrong way. HER WAY is the RIGHT WAY and that is that. Truth of the matter is, she is probably so unbelievably insecure about her own parenting that she resorts to shitting on others to make herself feel better. She doesn’t actually know everything there is to know about any of this stuff. Because guess what, she’s just the same as the rest of us, making it up as she goes along, frantically googling questions and then crossing her fingers and hoping for the best. She just wouldn’t admit that.

The “my baby is so damn advanced I just want to show a whole forum full of strangers what they can do to make myself feel great and other mums feel shitty” mum:

This mum will likely post a picture of their baby (sometimes video) with some stupidly positive message like “Hey ladies I know everyone’s having a real crappy day so I just thought we should celebrate all the amazing things our babies are learning during this difficult developmental leap. Mine has been crawling since four months, is already potty trained and is reciting Shakespeare. What can y’alls (because they are invariably American) babies do?” Well gloating Gloria, mine can simultaneously eat and shit without breaking eye contact.  In your face. 

The “My baby is my priority and I don’t deserve to have my own life” mum:

These ones really fucking nark me. Mums on these forums are often struggling and in need of a break so may come across as angry, desperate or just really upset. They are vulnerable. This cunt (I’m sorry but it really is the only acceptable description) will make them feel a hundred times worse by making judgy passive aggressive remarks that may seem kind hearted on the surface but have an underlying theme of ‘you basically don’t love your child as much as I love mine’. Maybe a mum is looking for recommendations for somewhere to go for a bit of pampering with baby in tow – this nobhead may comment something like “a friend of mine went to this great place, a group of you can go and leave babies with the other girls while you get your nails/hair/eyebrows/vajazzle done, BUT (here it comes) I didn’t want to, because my baby is my priority so I just do my vajazzle myself” I get it. Some people are funny about leaving their baby with others. That is fine. Don’t make other people feel bad if they want to do it though. Once, at a baby massage group, a woman told me she wouldn’t even leave her baby with friends while she went into the next room in case there was a fire. And she said it proudly, like that made her a better mum than anyone else in the group. I mean seriously WTF? Like her friends would just leave the baby there to burn?! Everyone’s baby is their priority love. Get over yourself. We all love our children immeasurably. Just some of us understand the importance of ‘me time’ too. Even if that does just constitute taking a solo piss once a fortnight.

The “I’m desperate and I don’t know where else to turn” mum:

This mum could be any of us at some point. Her baby won’t eat/sleep/let her put them down for two fucking minutes while she wipes her arse. It has been like this for days/weeks/months/years. The simplest tasks take forever. Her partner is working away/does night shifts/is just a useless fucker/doesn’t exist. Her in-laws are mean/question her parenting choices/are just downright twats and refuse to acknowledge that she is their grandchild’s mother. She has no family nearby/mum friends/other friends that she can rely on/community support. She is rundown. She is burned out. She has nowhere to turn. She doesn’t know the answers. She is desperate. She posts to an online forum in the hope that some kind person out there will hear her plea and offer some words of comfort. And she is greeted by the know-it-all, the judgy mum or the mum whose kids are just so fucking fantastic that she ‘can’t relate’ because little Agatha has always put herself to sleep/drank all her milk/fed herself avocado sorbet/happily entertained herself painting masterpieces while mummy takes a dump. Seriously. This woman is a frustrated mess on the brink of banging her head against a brick wall (if she hasn’t already done so) and people don’t even care if they make her feel shittier because she is online. She’s not real to them. In all fairness, some mums do stop to post in mummy solidarity. They say she’s not alone and we’ve all been there and offer some sensible advice. But they should ALL do this. No one should be judging this mum because at some point or other everyone is likely to have a low point where they feel like they just don’t know what the fuck to do anymore. They may not post it to an online mum forum, sure, but they might do. And if they do they should be met with only understanding. If you see this mum online tell her she’s not alone. Ask if there is anyone in real life she can seek support from. Signpost to health visitors or baby groups if she’s a local mum or offer to meet up for a coffee and a chat. And if you see Bragging Bridget/ Up-herself Una/ Judgemental Judy then call them out on their bullshit. Give them a taste of their own trolling. Scumbags.

The other mums:

There are of course also a whole range of other mums in online groups. Mums who are just looking for a bit of additional reassurance that they’re not getting this parenting thing completely wrong. Mums who just want to read other people’s posts for a bit of entertainment. Mums who may have specific queries. Mums who just want to connect with other mums. On the whole these online forums are a great resource. But every so often you come across a complete bell end who just loves to make other mums feel shit. Well I reckon we start letting this mum know she’s chatting flannel. #bollocks to her stupid remarks I say. No other comeback necessary. Because bollocks is all that needs to be said. In the words of Paul McCartney, bollocks is all you need. Or something like that I think he said.


7 things not to ask a pregnant woman.

Because even after all these years of women being pregnant, some people still just don’t get it.

1. Was it planned?

Dafuck? I really don’t get what people think they are going to achieve by asking this question. If the pregnancy was planned you look like a dick for asking. If it wasn’t planned you look like a dick for asking. Lose lose. What if it had been planned for years and the woman you are asking had undergone extensive and costly fertility treatment to reach this point but did not feel comfortable opening up to you about it? What if it wasn’t planned at all and the woman you are asking is scared as hell about the whole thing and still trying to get her head around it herself? What if it was planned but the woman simply wants her privacy respected? Some people have the idea that if a woman or a couple are trying for a baby, either the old fashioned way or through IVF, surrogacy, sperm donation or whatever, that they have some god given right to know about it. You don’t. Sometimes people want to keep things to themselves. Newly married and cohabiting couples are constantly asked when the baby will arrive – because people assume that they are ‘trying’. What if they don’t want kids? What if they can’t have kids?  And if you have a group of friends that are all ‘trying’ then fuck a duck, you’ll literally never hear the end of it. And someone is always ‘last’ in that race to conceive unfortunately, creating additional stress and pressure on the whole situation. A time which should be fun and exciting becomes fraught and all about peeing on sticks at every opportunity. Not conducive to the baby making. So before you consider asking someone if it was planned, STOP. Think. What might they have gone through to get to this point? Do they really care if it was planned or not? Do you? If the answer is no then just keep your bleeding mouth shut. Curiosity killed the cat you know. If they want to tell you, they will.

2. Do you know what you’re having? And what do you want?

What an odd question. I’m having a BABY. Not a dog or a cat or a hamster or a budgie. I want a BABY. Ten fingers, ten toes. As long as the baby is healthy that is what I want. I couldn’t care less if it’s got a little winkle or not frankly. Whether you decide to find out the sex or not, this question will probably still be asked quite early on in the pregnancy. What if you say you want a boy but end up with a girl? Uh oh does that mean you’re not going to love the baby just as much? No it doesn’t. Stupid bloody question to ask. You’re getting a baby and you are just thankful for that. Does it make a difference what sex they are? Will you raise them any differently? (The real answer to this is that unfortunately you probably will because, well, gender stereotypes but that’s another matter entirely). Boy/ girl the baby will be loved. Next.

3. Are you having twins?

People usually think they’re being funny when asking this one. Variations include: Aren’t you nearly done/ready to pop? Are you about to go into labour? Are you sure you will last til next week/tomorrow/this afternoon? Etc etc. Yes I get it. I’m fucking massive. I look like I’m about to drop a litter right here in the middle of Costa. I feel even bigger than I look. I probably also feel like a hormonal mess and really shitty. So making comments on how gigantic I look can clearly only help with that. No. I once wore a new maternity shirt to work and some random guy in the lift asked me how long I had left until mat leave. I was only 6 months pregnant I said, so a while yet. “Bloodyhell are you sure you haven’t got two in there?” was his response. “That’s gonna be one big baby!” Actually I’m measuring small for dates you prick but I’m never gonna wear this shirt again now, thanks for that. Leave the baby size judgements to the doctors/midwives (who are still usually way off). Now do one before I prize that sandwich from your hands and shove it into my fat face in a fit of rage. Am I having twins? Eye roll. 

4. Have you got any names yet?

This might just be a personal bugbear but I used to hate this question. I would try to fob people off with either “na not yet” or “yeah got a couple of options” but some people weren’t satisfied with that. And heaven forbid if you do mention a name then every time you see that person they will ask “So are you still thinking of Cyril?” or whatever. I’m trying to name my unborn child that I haven’t even met yet. This is hard. The little person is going to be stuck with this name for their entire life (unless they pay to change it) so I want to make sure I get it right and the poor fucker doesn’t end up with a name that makes them sound like a chav/posh twat/hippy/whatever other connotations names have. Please leave me be and allow me to do this without your input. Because if I do mention a name you will almost certainly tell me “Oh I know someone with that name, she’s a right bitch” or “My mate’s got a dog called Boris” I literally couldn’t give a teeny tiny fuck who you know with that name. The reason I have chosen it is because I don’t know any wankers with that name and I like it. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. You are irrelevant. So mind your own mate or I’ll start calling you by a different name altogether; it begins with a C and ends in untface. 

5.  Can I touch it? (The bump)

Asked no one ever before reaching out their grubby mitt to get a handful of belly. Fuck. Off. That is still my stomach. It is not a baby yet and even if it was you should ask before touching my baby too (FYI many strangers, mainly old people, try to touch my baby when I am out with the pram. I don’t know where your hands have been love, leave him alone!) “What does it feel like?” I was asked while someone leaned forward and got a good rub of my bump. “It feels like this” I replied as I gently stroked their tummy back. Seriously. My body has not become yours to touch simply because I am harbouring another human in there. In fact, I think I would rather have had you rub my unpregnant tummy than my vulnerable foetus laden bump. Plus I don’t even know your sodding name so why you think it is OK to touch my body is beyond me. This is borderline harassment. Now kindly piss off. Ta.

6. Are you knackered?

Basically you’re saying I look like shit. You’re telling a very emotionally charged woman, whose body is experiencing extreme changes that are hard to come to terms with, that she’s looking run down and is not the ‘glowing’ vision of health that we all dream of during pregnancy. Thanks very much. I got asked this a lot when I was pregnant and I get asked it a lot now I have a baby. Maybe I just have that knackered look about me all the time. I am one knackered old cow. Way to make a woman feel good about herself though. Especially when she is probably already horrified every time she catches a reflection of herself and her ever multiplying chins and shiny forehead. Kick a woman while she’s down. Slow clap.

7. How are you feeling today? Any signs yet? (As you approach/exceed due date)

I will admit that before I gave birth I had been guilty of asking this one. But if you share your due date with others (my advice – don’t bother) then you can expect at least five text messages and numerous phone calls on a daily basis asking this as you near the 40th week (even starting a few weeks beforehand if you’re lucky). And it gets oh so tedious. Because you are also bored of waiting for baby to arrive. You wish they would hurry up now. You’re all ready for them (so you think, ha fucking ha) and there is just one final (really fricking big) hurdle to overcome. You’re huge and uncomfortable and emotional. You eat pineapple and curry, drink raspberry leaf tea, go for long walks, bounce on a yoga ball, side step up the stairs like a crab and if you get that desperate you might even attempt to have sex. But still no baby. So everyone asking you if there is ‘any sign yet’ is really the last bloody thing you want. Just wait until I text you the cute new baby pic thank you please. I won’t ask that one again in future! 
I’m sure there are hundreds more stupid questions that pregnant women get asked/ ridiculous things that people say. Please post any others in the comments…

“Are we going mad or do all parents do this?” The things I do to get my child to sleep.

On Saturday evening I sat in a Premier Inn family size room at 7pm. In the dark. No TV. White noise playing on the iPad. “Are we going mad or do all parents do this?” I asked my partner? He just shrugged and said “well how else are we supposed to get him to sleep?” Ah the eternal question. The question that has plagued us for the last seven months. Well, actually, the last four months as he seemed to be doing OK (for a baby) for the first few months, before hitting what I now understand was a “sleep regression”. Really? I mean he was already waking every 3-4 hours in the night for a feed, could it really regress much more than that? Oh yes it could people. Yes it could.

When you become a new parent there is one question that you will be asked more than any other. “How is baby sleeping?” Now this question comes in many forms, it could be that the enquirer says simply “you look knackered” and expects you to expand upon this. “Are you getting much rest?” and “Are they a sleeper?” are also up there. The most ridiculous (and more common in the older generations) way of asking this question has to be “are they a good baby?” By ‘good’ they mean ‘good at sleeping’. My answer is usually “yeah he’s really good” and when they ask if he sleeps I simply say “oh no he doesn’t sleep but he’s good as gold during the day”. Because he generally is. He’s happy and content and curious about the world. He’s not a whinge bag (unless he’s teething) and he usually copes with his lack of sleep remarkably well. Sometimes I respond with “no he’s a very bad baby, bad baby, naughty boy” just to see their reaction. He is not a ‘bad’ baby. I don’t think there is such a thing. He just won’t fucking sleep is the problem.

Anyway, our little man went from a text book waking every four hours at night to feed at 12 weeks (even had a couple of five hour stretches in there before that, which is considered ‘sleeping through’ at that age) to waking every couple of hours. What the fuck is going on now? Teething? At three months, probably a bit early. Ear infection? But he seems fine during the day. Separation anxiety? Again probably a bit early. Wind? He’s always had bloody wind and woken himself up trumping like a steam train, so that was nothing new. Hmmm. Probably a growth spurt we thought (everything is a bloody growth spurt for the first few months). Give it a week and see how we go.

A week goes by and no improvement. Cue frantic googling. It must be the four month sleep regression come early I proclaimed. Everything online says if it’s not over in a month you may need to ‘sleep train’. Oh FFS I can’t be arsed with that. What sort of hell is that? I already have no patience and now I’m supposed to listen to him cry for god knows how long until he falls asleep? Please god no. Let’s stick it out for the month and see how we go. Meanwhile I continue feeding him to sleep at bed time and naps. Even though that is the ‘wrong’ thing to do. Because now he is fighting naps like a demon, crying and screaming because he doesn’t want to sleep. But if he doesn’t sleep he will be overtired and won’t sleep at night. And boob is the only thing that works. So I don’t listen to the ‘experts’. Fuck them.

I find myself becoming less and less patient and more and more angry with this tiny human who clearly just doesn’t know what the fuck is going on but is so interested to find out that he would deprive himself (and me) of sleep for hours on end. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is a form of torture. It’s really fucking hard being woken up every 1-2 hours all night long. And then woken for the day at 5am. And then repeating this night after night after night with no reprieve. Yes, my partner did help out but I still could not sleep through the hellish crying and whinging. And also by this point I had now lost the ability to ‘sleep through the night’ myself and my body was trained into waking every couple of hours. Dammit! “But he’s so cute and peaceful when he’s asleep just look at him” we would say. And then he would move and we would freeze to the spot. Sssh, shut the hell up, do not move a muscle or it’s over, oh for fucks sake. Start again.

A month goes by and still no change. I read a couple of books on gentle sleep coaching. They make me feel better about myself. Sometimes babies just don’t sleep. It is normal for them to want to be with their mummies and feed through the night. Many families bed share with babies and it is Western culture that is driving us to want babies in their own room, sleeping in 12 hour shifts because it fits in with our lives. A lot of this makes sense to me. Babies don’t know any better, they only know they want to be with the comfort of mummy. So we bed shared and fed through the night for a bit. I did get more sleep this way, as I didn’t need to keep getting up. But my baby is now waking more and more. I had a dream that I was choking only to wake up to him kicking me in the throat (he had rotated in his sleep). I was sleeping right on the edge of the bed with my pillow rolled up to give baby ample space and with no duvet past my waist in case he went under it. I was waking up with incredible back and arm ache. Surely this is no way to sleep either? Where are we going wrong here??

Eventually I stopped breastfeeding (not just because of sleep, I had planned to stop at 6 months anyway), which did seem to make some difference. He started sleeping in 7/8 hour stretches. BUT then he would be wide awake and ready to party at 3am! He wasn’t crying, so he didn’t need us, but I was awake knowing that he was chatting to himself, rolling around and chewing on his feet etc. Cue google again. Oh he’s having ‘split nights’, his sleep drive and circadian rhythm have clearly separated and now he needs to wait a while before he is sleepy again. There is an answer for everything online. So we try later bedtime/fewer naps/shorter naps etc. This either has no effect or results in more wake ups because he is ‘overtired’. People say “oh he’ll sleep when he’s tired enough”. Errr no he fucking won’t actually. We’ve tried that. He just gets more and more hyper until you try and get him to sleep and then he has a complete sodding meltdown, which is traumatic for all of us.

So, what to do? Well I do all of the things that make me an apparently utterly bonkers parent. I hold him for naps (when I’m at home). This could be a good two hours of baby holding and playing crossword games on my phone (or writing about my lack of sleep as I am doing now). I used to drive him around in the car to get him to sleep for an hour or so (he would wake up if I stopped so I would keep going, avoiding anywhere with traffic lights at all costs). He has recently decided he no longer likes the car to sleep. On long journeys (with two of us) I have to stroke his head and/or hold a muslin over his eyes to get him to nod off. I go walking with the pram for hours on end. I sit in dark rooms on a rocking chair for what feels like an eternity. I go mad listening to white noise. I rock him until my arms feel as though they are going to give way. I play him classical music to relax before bed. I dim the lights an hour before bed. I give him a relaxing bath. I change my mind as that is too stimulating before bedtime so I stop the bath. I change my mind again because he is fucking filthy so he is having a bloody bath before bed. I massage him. I read him the same story every night before bed as a sleep cue. I do all of this for months on end and he still won’t sleep a 12 hour stint!

What am I doing wrong??? I have concluded that actually I am not doing anything wrong. He is just a terrible bloody sleeper. And yes I probably should ‘sleep train’ him somehow. But I just don’t have the energy. I can’t even handle him crying in my partner’s arms so I just don’t see how I would manage leaving him to cry himself to sleep. Plus he’s a stubborn little bugger like his mum, so we could be in for a long battle if we went down that route! Maybe he will be a terrible sleeper forever. And yes he does still end up in our bed every night. But sod it, he won’t be doing it when he’s a teenager so it’s not going to last forever (well I bloody hope not). For now I’m just going to have to get on with it and be a knackered, walking zombie with giant eye bags. Because I’m too tired to really think about it or make any sort of change. So there. He’ll get there eventually. (Won’t he? Or should I sleep train? This is my constant inner monologue every waking hour of the day. I yo yo all the time). Truth is, I have no answers and will probably change my mind multiple times every day about what I should do. Ultimately I just go with whatever is the easiest option to get him to sleep. I think each parent just has to do what feels right for them, go with your gut and whatever you decide is right for your baby and your family. And don’t let anyone make you feel bad for whatever you do decide to do or not do. Lack of sleep is bloody hard work and we all deal with it differently. If it’s working, keep doing it. If it’s not working try something else, if that doesn’t work, try something else again. Or just bury your head in the sand like me and cross your fingers. Whatever. Do whatever YOU want to do. Just don’t spend a fortune on gadgets to get the baby to sleep. Ewan the pissing dream sheep is a complete load of BOLLOCKS!

Got milk…? My baby feeding journey.

I’ve called it baby feeding because that is what I did, fed my baby, and that is what I advocate, feeding babies. Breast or bottle, it doesn’t matter, as long as they are fed that’s the main thing. I really wanted to breastfeed my son and I found out that actually it is a lot more difficult than it seems. So I thought I’d share our journey from bottle to breast and back again in case it is helpful for others and well, just to get it off my chest (sniggers).

After a long and traumatic labour (see previous sweary post) I was physically and emotionally drained. I didn’t sleep in the ward after giving birth at 11pm, so by the next day I just wanted to get the frick out of there and back to my bed/sofa and home comforts. However, midwives are supposed to watch a full feed before letting you go home, to check that babies are ok and mums know what the hell they are doing. Little man wasn’t really up for a meal, he’d start off and then immediately fall asleep. So come 6pm the next day I’d had enough and announced to the midwife that I was going home. That was my first mistake. Her words were “well I’m not going to keep you prisoner”. What she should have said to me is “look lady, you’re gonna be back here in 24 hours or less worrying about your baby who’s not feeding unless you bloody well stay one more night, let us look after you and let us see you feed”. Then I might have listened. Might have. I’m very stubborn.

As it was, bubba still hadn’t taken a decent feed by midday on his second day in the world, when we got our first midwife visit at home. Rather than offer to observe a breastfeed the midwife suggested we give him some formula. I was panicking by this point that he was going to die from dehydration, so obviously agreed. He still wasn’t that interested in the formula, even with the midwife forcing it down his throat he only took about 5ml. I now know that this is because he was tiny and his tummy was tinier and he had only just come into the world so he wasn’t very hungry. The midwife exclaimed that he must have a tongue tie and quickly called the hospital to ask them for an appointment with the lactation specialist ASAP. Cue tears from me and general panic and commotion. 

We ended up seeing the specialist that afternoon, who said it was really too soon to tell if he had a tongue tie because he hadn’t actually started feeding yet. (On a side note tongue tie should not be a major cause of panic, though it can cause some feeding issues and mastitis in mum, which is horribly painful, it is relatively simple to correct if found early enough). Anyhoo the lactation consultant offered to observe a breastfeed (bubs still wouldn’t latch), then told us to keep trying him on the boob and if he wouldn’t take it to top him up with formula. Apparently 30ml was the magic amount that he should be eating every three hours on the dot. Also I should be pumping every three hours and eating and drinking lots. So we started trying this. 

While visitors flocked in droves to come visit the baby, I was trying to breast feed, bottle feed and pump every three hours. Plus have warm baths, massage my boobs and eat lots. Well I’m sorry but for starters I just wasn’t fucking hungry. I couldn’t even look at food without feeling sick. I couldn’t bare the thought of chewing, so I was living on soup and chocolate milkshake (I actually got slightly addicted to chocolush, a brand sold in Tesco, during pregnancy and this obsession continued… so much so that my other half enquired into bulk buying the stuff). Secondly, I’m not gonna pump while visitors are round, just no. And while you try and hint that baby needs feeding or whatever sometimes they don’t get that actually you’re just not that comfortable doing it in front of other people right now and could they kindly make their excuses and bugger off please. Or you take the baby off upstairs to be fed, which is the only reason they have visited really, so then it seems a bit rude. Baby visiting politics is probably another blog in it’s own right to be fair. My advice… no non-essential visitors for at least the first two weeks. Ideally you need a few days on your own before anyone comes round because you just don’t know what the fuck is happening at that point, it is like a tornado has hit… but of course it is unlikely that grandparents will want to wait and I understand that. I’m hoping it will be easier with the second to put other people off for a while!

Anyway, where was I? Yes, so we followed the advice as best we could and he still wouldn’t feed. We took him into A and E because he wasn’t feeding and then as soon as we were in there he took 15ml from a bottle. “First time parents?” the doctor asked patronisingly. Yes of course we’re fucking first time parents, does it look like we know what the fuck we are doing? And also where do you think we are hiding our older child? Oh yeah we’ve left him in the car watching iPlayer and eating Frosties straight out the packet, sorry! I get it. New parents are anxious, over-the-top wrecks and doctors must see shit loads of them wasting time in A and E every day. However, if they kept women in for a bit longer and spent money getting midwives to educate them about caring for a newborn, they may not have so many crazed parents arriving on their doorstep because teeny weeny has green poo/reflux/doesn’t fancy his milk. Because parenting is not as intuitive as it may seem. My bloke and I could barely believe that they’d let us take our baby home without some kind of parenting for dummies crash course. We kept thinking we were going to get a knock at the door and some crony in a grey anorak would be standing there demanding we give our son back and issuing us with a fine for being so stupid as to assume he was ours now. But he was ours. Our responsibility. He just wasn’t bloody hungry.

After two more visits from a lactation consultant and countless phone calls, he finally took to it. A few days after he was born he just got the latch and went to town. What happened, I think, was that he got hungry. Shocker. He started to wake up a bit and was like “now I’m ready for food mummy, I don’t know why you were so busy trying to feed me before when I just wanted to sleep!”  The best advice I got was to just go for it if I wanted to breastfeed and ditch the formula top ups. Up until that point it was so confusing because everyone gave us different amounts that he ‘should be’ having. “Ten mins every two hours at least” we were told. “Definitely 40-60ml per feed” they said. “Probably 4oz every four hours” was the advice. Fuck all that. Feed on demand. 

So I fed him. And I fed him. And I fed him some more. Bloody hell this kid can eat. The next thing I knew I was stuck to the sofa for hours at a time during ‘cluster feeds’. I barely had time to go for a piss and my partner had to cut up and feed my dinner to me most nights. I watched so much shit TV. I told friends about it and they said “oh breastfeeding sounds easy, I’d be good at that”. Except it’s not. It is completely all consuming and you are 100% taken over as a vessel for milk. It is hard work. No wonder the majority of women don’t make it past three weeks. Fortunately my partner was very supportive and so he did everything else, other than feed the baby for at least the first month, which was amazing. We were lucky that he had annual leave saved to take (definitely recommend this, I was not ready to be left alone after 2 weeks).

Once we got the hang of it I actually quite enjoyed it. And it got easier. It became second nature. My son was so comforted by it that he often fell asleep on the boob, cute. But then it became a major sleep association for him, he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) go to sleep without it. As he became more alert during the day he stopped wanting to eat at fun and busy times and started eating more and more at night. By four months he was full on reverse-cycling, up every couple of hours at night to feed and refusing boob during the day for more than a few minutes at a time. Urgh! I tried getting him to eat more in the day but it was impossible if I ever wanted to leave the house, and staying in all day drove me batshit crazy. This also happened around the same time that he started refusing a bottle and I had to go for surgery… so now I couldn’t really leave him and sitting up at night was a bloody pain in the arse, quite literally. So we brought him into our bed and I would feed him laying down. Very sweet at first but a couple of months later he was waking even more frequently at night to feed! Urgh what am I meant to do?! I don’t want to not feed him at night because he hasn’t eaten all day but if he eats all night he’s not hungry the next day! Catch 22. At 6 months and after 3 months of the reverse-cycling fuckwittery I decided to stop breastfeeding. Six months had always been my goal and I had a friend’s wedding and hen coming up anyway, where I would be staying over night, so I needed him to take a bottle for that. I know some people might gaze open mouthed and mumble “shouldn’t the baby be her priority?” Yes he fucking is actually but mummies deserve a night out too. We just need a night off sometimes. Because we are real people as well as mothers. Right? At least I think we are…

Little man, however, had other plans. He would scream blue murder every time a bottle neared his lips for the first two weeks of trying. Then gradually, bit by bit, he came around. First he took my milk from a bottle, then a mix of mine and formula and eventually just formula. I had to trick him by making him sleepy with rocking then putting him in a position as if I was going to breastfeed and finally sneaking the bottle in. After a week or so of this he started to just accept the bottle and now, about a month later, he reaches for it himself and can’t get it in his face quick enough. For us it has also helped with sleep, not because formula is ‘filling him up’ more, my milk was just as good at filling him up thank you, but because he has stopped reverse-cycling. He now drinks more during the day because he can still look around with a bottle and therefore he doesn’t need to eat as much at night. We’ve also removed boob as a sleep association (though the night feeds were the last to go) and replaced it with rocking (I know, he still can’t bloody self settle like all the ‘good’ babies out there but fuck it, it’s the only way he will go the frick to sleep at the moment). So he’s off the boob. Woohoo.

I did enjoy breastfeeding while it lasted and there were some special moments that just the two of us shared. I will cherish the memories. Plus it was a hell of a lot more practical than all of this sterilising and powder malarkey. But it got to the point where I just wanted my body back. I wanted to diet without worrying that it would affect my milk. I wanted to wear tops that I didn’t have to worry about having quick access to my nipples without flashing too much flesh. I wanted the odd night (or even just an hour) off. The thing that pissed me right off was the lack of support in the online breastfeeding community for women like me, wanting to stop feeding. People gave me shit for it. I’ve done six fucking months ladies, credit where it’s due please. I only wanted a bit of advice about how to avoid mastitis. Jeez. At some point everyone will stop (unless…bitty…?!) Some choose to let baby lead on this and breastfeed until their children are toddlers or even older. That’s fine. Great for you if you decide to do this. That’s just not for me. Others want to stop but find it difficult because baby screams and screams and won’t take milk any other way. The advice “they’ll take it if they’re hungry enough” is just utter bollocks by the way, some babies are damn stubborn about this stuff, they want boob and only boob; so mum continues feeding until they do decide to stop. However you do it, or don’t do it, don’t judge others because they’ve decided to stop breastfeeding, or not to breastfeed at all for that matter. 

A fed baby is a happy baby. Feed your baby. Worry about how your own baby is fed. And leave everyone else’s baby the fuck out of it. They are not your concern. As a mum I’m sure you’ve got enough on your plate that you don’t need to troll other women for what they do or do not do. And if you don’t, then you need to get a fucking life. And your head out of your arse. Anyway, all this talk of feeding I’m absolutely famished. Slimfast anyone?

“Whose body is this?” Tribulations of living with a mum bod.

This is not one for the menfolk or the faint hearted. Probably not one for you if you’re about to give birth and easily squeamish either. Nor if you are trying to decide whether or not to have a baby and are terrified of the actual baby having. Read at your own risk. 

We all know that pregnancy alters your body physically. Everyone can see it and knows the drill. But it doesn’t stop there. For some unfathomable reason, I did not realise that the day after giving birth you still look massively pregnant. Like six months pregnant. So you go through the trauma of childbirth only to wake up thinking, wait, what the fuck, is there another one in there? Then you touch your tummy and OMFG I can reach my friggin spine through this jellied mess. This isn’t normal surely, something must be wrong. “Nurse, nurse my midriff is huge and flapping in the wind, I think maybe something is still in there? The placenta, surely, must have been left in by mistake?” Nop. That’s just your belly now I’m afraid. For the first few weeks at least. 

If you go out without your baby you may even get a stranger or two asking when the baby is due. Just a little bonus to make you feel extra shitty after your body has been pushed to the brink of what it is physically capable of. And you will look forwards to people who know you asking how your tummy is doing and checking to see if it is going down. Some of you lucky ladies may even have mothers like my own, who, with the best of intentions, commented at least three times every time I saw her for the first month or so that my belly was going down nicely. Thank you. Until one day she was like “let’s see your tummy, ah no not really gone down any more has it, probably need to do some exercise”. Bloody cheek. I’m breastfeeding a tiny human and living on biscuits and chocolates, my extra padding is the last thing on my mind. Love you mum 😉

The ‘mum pouch’ (kinda like a kangaroo but no handy pocket for sweets) is not the only thing either. Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you will have milk come in at some point usually. Then it looks like your tits have been colonised by some flesh burrowing aliens. Boob moles or something. Giant and lumpy in all the wrong places, with big blue veins spread across them like a map of the milk rivers. Not sexy. And the leaking. Want a nice relaxing bath? Sorry tits are gonna leak. Hear someone else’s baby crying while in a coffee shop/at a class/in the supermarket; boobies go off. Have a nice day out with friends while granny looks after your newborn and dare to so much as think about your baby; cue leakage. Women vary when it comes to this, some never leak at all and some could feed the third world with the amount of milk they produce. Some struggle to express, while others could leak you a feed into a breast milk storage bag before you’ve finished dunking your digestive. Either way, your mammaries are no longer your own if you do decide to go down this route. And if you don’t you have to endure a few painful days of lumpy, swollen boobs until the milk goes away again and leaves them looking like the empty sacks that they now are. Because apparently, whether you breastfeed or not, pregnancy gives you saggy girls. Another joy of the wonders of childbirth.

The legs are the next thing I noticed. A few days after having my baby I sat down in the bath and thought my legs looked like part cooked sausages that were about to burst the skins. Seriously, they were hugely swollen. Why?! The midwife told me it is because our bodies continue to make fluid for the baby even after it is born, so the excess fluid plumps our legs for a while until we eventually sweat it all out. Oh. So that is why I keep waking up feeling like I’ve been dunked in a lake overnight. Yep night sweats for the first two weeks to a month at least. So if you didn’t feel grim enough already, you can add stinky, clammy mess to the list of mum bod woes.

I have left the best for last of course. The Australia. Down below. Whether you had a vaginal birth or not, everyone can look forwards to some lovely piles! And if you were lucky enough to avoid the Emergency/ Planned C and resultant immobility and scarring then you can bet that the first shit you take after childbirth will be one you will never forget. It is almost as bad as having the baby again. Prepare for this wisely ladies… prune juice and plenty of water then stay very close to the loo is my advice. Of course if you did have a vaginal birth then over 95% of you will also have tearing to some degree, yay! War wounds. Some of you may also have had the delightful experience of an episiotomy (look it up, it is brutal) to allow for giant metal contraptions looking like something out of a Victorian farmers toolbox, to enter Australia and help the baby out. My deepest sympathies to you. You will not be able to sit or lay comfortably for weeks (although this probably applies however you may have given birth) and you may or may not be able to hobble around like John Wayne.

Do not be polite about this. Do not sit on uncomfortable chairs so that guests can have the sofa. Do not get up to greet people or make them tea/coffee. Do not walk further than necessary for at least the first couple of weeks. If you do, you could risk splitting your stitches and requiring further surgery at a later date. Surgery from which you wake up believing that you have just given birth all over again and asking where your baby is. Then crying when you realise that your baby is three months old at home with your partner and just rolled for the first time that day and you missed it because months after giving birth your nunny still wasn’t right. You may even then not heal properly but be told by a consultant that as long as it is functional you may as well leave it until you have finished ‘making your family’. Joys. I will not be so polite in future.

In fact post-natal surgery is much more common than you might expect. The shit thing is that you have to fight for it. A friend of mine went to the doctors four times after having her daughter to get herself checked. Four times she was told that she was healing fine. On the fifth time she asked to be referred to a specialist. Lo and behold after two minutes with a gyno she was told that she would require corrective surgery. The problem here is that even though one is born every minute, many medical professionals seem unable to tell an arse from, well, a vagina. They’re not trained enough in fannies. Why should we put up with substandard post-natal care in this respect. Also, NHS waiting lists for this type of ‘cosmetic’ surgery post-childbirth are ridiculous. Do I want to wait until my child is six months old to get my war wounds fixed (or ready to heal properly again?) No thank you. So those of us who can afford to, pay, or beg, steal and borrow in order to do so. Pay to go private so that we can get our body back to normal. So very wrong. It is not cosmetic if your body cannot perform the very function it was designed to. Add to that the increased distress of not healing properly, which creates an additional risk factor for post-natal depression and now you have two reasons to put new mums at the top of your lists for this kind of surgery. After the surgery I was told not to bathe for ten days because the stitches are soluble and to shower instead. Why the fuck did the midwife not mention this to me the first time round? I was having two or three baths a day because it seemed to be the only thing that eased the pain! Fucks sake.

Don’t get me wrong, many women experience far worse complications and may require readmittance to hospital, blood transfusions and life saving surgery. And I’m sure in most cases the NHS do an absolutely fantastic job. But they do need a bit of a kick up the proverbial when it comes to making sure women are healing correctly. Every woman should be checked by a midwife after 5 days if they want to be… but not all midwives even offer this ‘service’. That leaves us feeling bad for having to ask them to have a look and check if our fannies are ok. You wouldn’t think it was possible to be embarrassed about this after having about 12 different people shove their hand or other implements up there during labour but actually, it still is. Come on, that is basic midwifery. Cop on and do your job properly. You have to offer. And if you don’t feel like you can do that/are not used to it then you’re either in the wrong job or you should not be making those five day visits. Because not all of us have partners who are willing to check it out for us, nor would many women subject them to this if at all possible. It’s likely that these blokes are scarred enough from watching the event unfold (not literally unfolding like a flower as the hypnobirthers would have you believe, more like blowing the head off a dandelion) in the first place, let’s not make them any more afraid of vaginas than necessary. Also ladies, yes it is painful afterwards, but if you have an inkling that something is not right get a mirror, take a look, have a long hard cry, and then go and see your GP ASAP. And if you’re not happy with what they say then demand a gyno appointment. Fannies have rights too.

Six months into motherhood and the new baby fog is just about lifting. I’ve had my first night out (a hen do without the bride, because mumming makes us all lightweights again) and I’m starting to feel like my old self again. I’m even starting to think about that diet, mainly because I have no clothes that fit and no money to buy new ones due to stat mat pay. The reality is that my body will never be the same as it was. But that’s OK. Because I am a different person to the one I was before. I’m still me, just a different version of me. A more anxious, less drunk, more nagging, less organised, more tired version of myself. But hopefully I will get used to being a mum and become an even better version of myself than the old one. And hopefully I can accept my new, less toned and more flaccid form. And if not, then fuck it I’ll pop out a couple more sprogs and pay for some real cosmetic surgery when all the baby making s over!

To NCT or not to NCT…? (Sorry)

Post could be a single sentence: To NCT. Fin. But that would be no fun and I would have nothing to do, other than possibly play my crossword game or start watching Love Island (currently resisting) while my little man takes a nap sprawled across my lap. So I shall share my NCT journey with you.

My bloke and I signed up to NCT, mainly because we were moving to a new area and I wanted to make some mum friends, but also because we’d never had a baby and we didn’t have a scooby what to do/expect/buy/think etc. It was bleeding expensive, yes. We could have gone to the free one at the hospital, yes. But we signed up anyway. Just because, you know, parenting goals and shit; we wanted to be as prepared as possible.

Straight off the bat let me tell you I have some friends who have had some pretty hilarious and frankly bizarre NCT experiences. One guy went along with his Mrs and was asked in a round robin format to name his favourite mammal. The instructor then proceeded to say after each person had given their answer “Yes, they breastfeed their young”. Err… oh really? That is the fucking definition of a mammal, you utter moron. My friend shared that his favourite mammal was a duck billed platypus; they do not breastfeed but rather secrete milk through their skin (no nips, they are nipless) and apparently the look on old mother earth’s face was hilarious. In all seriousness though, some of the information given around breastfeeding can be rather militant (not just on NCT courses) and can make women who don’t want to, or end up being unable to breastfeed feeling guilty and downtrodden. However, for women who do want to breastfeed, support before birth and in the first few weeks is crucial. So I absolutely understand that it is difficult to know how to pitch this and where to draw the line. Either way, a fed baby is a happy baby and in the end they’ll all prefer MacDonalds by 13 anyway so I’m not sure why we bother!

Our first NCT session was around a month or so before babies due dates. I think one or two of the girls were approaching term and had packed up work. I was still a way off this and reality that a baby was going to evacuate my nether regions still hadn’t really hit. The first session was mainly focused on the practicalities of the birth itself and I think a bit about drugs. Lots of questions about what the pain feels like but we now all know that it is difficult to describe and also very different for each woman. Stand out moment from the first session had to be when we were asked as a group what we would need in order to ‘make love’ to our partners in the middle of the freezing cold, 80s decor community hall in which we were sat. This was all to do with how to boost our oxytocin levels, the love hormone, which apparently aids contractions during labour. The old classics music, wine, candles, dim lighting etc were all mentioned. Obviously everyone wanted the other fuckers in the room gone before they would get down to it (no voyeurs in our group… or at least if there were, they kept their views hidden at this stage). I so wanted to say something random like swimming goggles and a jar of marmite but thought better of exposing my warped sense of humour within the first hour of meeting potential mummy friends. Needless to say awkward conversation ensued and nervous half giggles rippled around the room.

The second session was an all girls affair that focused mainly on after care and a lot of chat about blood. I’ve never been the best with this sort of thing and even though it was November I remember it being a strangely warm afternoon. Cue a dizzy spell and near fainting episode, making myself look like a total wuss to potential new friends. Great. Final session involved more drug chat, listening to a tape of a screaming baby for ten minutes, practice nappy changing with dolls for the daddies and sitting on a yoga ball breathing while my fella awkwardly patted me on the back. To be fair the last one was good practice because he did do a fair bit of awkward back rubbing during the actual labour, while I angrily muttered that this was all his fucking fault and why the hell did we think this was a good idea et cetera. Overall we learnt a fair bit from the sessions and it gave us a chance to ask a load of questions, so we were pleased.

The best bit was yet to come though. Being the organised ex-teacher that I am, I set up a whatsapp group for us mums-to-be (I can’t really take credit for this as the course leader did mention it and I’m certain that if it wasn’t me, one of the other girls would have done it anyway). This turned out to be the best resource a new mum could ever wish for. No question was too ridiculous for this whatsapp group. Top convos include: Can baby boys get boners? Are my insides going to fall out? Why is my baby’s poo green/yellow/black/runny/hard/smells like popcorn? Why do I have a third hole? And the old classic, how is your Australia (referring to down under)? And we started meeting up in person. A lot. We met up a couple of times before babies arrived and then a lot more once they were here. We once spent five hours in a cafe and only had a a couple of hot chocolates and tap water – they must bloody hate us at that place with our vagina chat and our screaming babies. We still see each other a couple of times a week on average and the whatsapp group is pinging every day. If you miss a beat on that thing you literally have tens to hundreds of messages to catch up on. 

Of course we have characters in the group. We’ve got the self-proclaimed hippy mum. Her fifth round of IVF has finally given her a rainbow baby and my word does she deserve it. The woman is literally a saint. We’ve got a couple of neurotic mums (of which I am one)… constantly questioning everything and being uber attentive to the babies, reading books about what to do to help with sleep and then just saying ah fuck it they’ll get there eventually, while mentally pleading “tell me they will fucking get there eventually or surely I will not survive the sleep deprivation!” We’ve got the laid back mums who just roll with the punches and the super laid back mums who bugger off to Spain for two months with a four month old baby (not jealous much) or book a ten day holiday the day before they leave for it. How is that even possible? What about the many lists of things to be done that you need to write and meticulously tick off as you go along? No? Just me? 

The babies are all so different too. We’ve got babies who sleep through (one has done 12 hours a night since 6 weeks I mean WTF?! Again, not jealous much) and babies who are twats at night (mine). We’ve got mover shakers and communicators. We’ve got teethers, clingers, screechers and smilers. And they all do some of this at different times. We’ve all had a shitty day (or two or ten or a hundred) and we’ve all had good days and been able to support each other. Bottom line for me is I don’t think I could have done this first six months without the support of this group of women. This alone, for me, has been worth every penny spent. I can now say that I have mummy friends. And not just any old, wave and say hi at groups mummy friends. Genuine friends that have babies the same age as mine. Friends whose opinions I value. Friends whose children my son will grow up calling his own friends. They will have known each other and played together (alright scratched each other’s faces and poked each other in the eyes as that’s all they can do at this age) since they were born. And that is really lovely. So yes. To NCT. Fin. 

NB: for all I know these ladies could think I’m a complete dick and find my constant moaning irritating as hell. But hey ho if they do I am totally blissful in my ignorance!

“I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t know it was going to be that fucking hard.” Thoughts on giving birth.

I mean really this could all be summed up by the headline sentence. Labour. Giving birth. Pushing one out. I did know it was going to be hard. I knew it wasn’t going to be a little niggle. I just didn’t know how fucking hard it would be. And surely no one does, or you would never sign up for it? I mean sure, the present you get at the end of it is incredible (The child I mean. Though apparently men are meant to give women a ‘pushing present’. One friend of mine got a Tiffany ring. Another got an expensive leather jacket. I got jack shit. Actually I got told that the baby was my present, “but he was a present for both of us” I whined. Also I got a ‘tank driving experience’ as a Christmas present a week after giving birth. Apparently I had made a random comment while watching a TV programme with tanks on it – no I don’t remember which show – that it looked like fun. Cue boyfriend googling ‘tank driving uk’ et voila. While I sat on the sofa with the worst ring sting you can imagine I was presented with the gift of tank driving. He is a funny one. I bloody loved it though). 

Again I digress. What was I on about? (Question I ask myself at least ten times a day). Oh yes, giving birth. Two weeks after having my son I sat at a clinic waiting to have him weighed. A young mum-to-be sat opposite me, with who I’m assuming was her own mother. She was ready to pop and in for a sweep (so glad mine arrived a week early and I didn’t need to endure this grimness – a cervical sweep, if you don’t already know, is some midwife shoving a finger up your fanny and trying to dislodge the amniotic sac from the lining of the womb, to try and gee baby up into arriving. Grotty). After generally cooing over my teeny tiny newborn she asked “So, did it hurt then?” My face must have said it all, as I just stared cold hard daggers into her eyes. “Yep” I replied. “But did it hurt as much as they say it would?” She probed. Seriously. Without missing a beat I said “It was worse. Much worse.” No smile, no “you’ll be fine”. Nothing. I could tell that her mum was sitting there inwardly pleading with me not to scare the poor girl, but I just could not bring myself to lie. Bollocks to it. The world needs to know just how fucking painful childbirth is. Everyone should know what I HAVE ENDURED, I thought. And everyone did. Anyone that cared to listen got the full, tell-all, gory details of my birth story. 

I wasn’t trying to scare anyone and I wasn’t trying to one-up anyone else’s birth story. I just needed to share. Because what I hadn’t prepared for was reliving the most traumatic and yet amazing thing I had ever experienced night after night when I closed my eyes for the first three months of my son’s life. I didn’t realise that for the first few weeks I would be able to think of nothing but that 66 hour (I know) labour every time I had a moment to myself. These moments were few and far between you understand. The constant breastfeeding, nappy changing and generally worrying that the baby was going to break took up 95% of the day. The other 5% I spent reliving the birth. And I wasn’t alone in this. Speaking to friends who had similarly traumatic births I found out that they had done the same thing by and large. Even those who had medically straightforward births were still somewhat traumatised by the whole debacle. Some spoke to midwives about it. I chose not to at the time, though I think it probably would have been valuable to talk it through with a trained professional. Still hoping the trauma won’t come back to bite me on the arse second time around if I’m lucky enough to conceive again in the future!

Anyway point being the story got told. A lot. In detail. Again and again. As did the fact that I didn’t heal properly afterwards and required surgery (probably another post on this at some point). Again grim. But I don’t care. I like to share. And I like hearing other women’s birth stories. Some think it’s a bit competitive, well my birth was x hours long, well I had forceps/emergency C/ventuose/the full cast of Holly City/inspector fucking gadget to deliver my baby. Not me. I don’t think women are competing; they are simply sharing an experience that only a mother can understand. And I say this with the greatest respect to pregnant women and women hoping to have children in the future. You think you know. You’re prepared. You’ve done NCT/hypnobirthing/watched one born every minute/written a birth plan/got every fecking homeopathic pain relief going. You’re not an idiot. People do this every day. They wouldn’t have another one if it was that bad. You know what you’ve let yourself in for. Except you don’t mate. You haven’t got a fucking clue. Sorry. And good luck.

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have been that harsh to the young girl at the clinic. I should have smiled and said you’ll be fine. Because she was. I saw her in town a few weeks later with her baby and she smiled and said hello. And just gave me a look that said “I get it now. I know exactly what you fucking mean”. And that’s how it is really. Once you know, you know and you’re in the club. You feel super human. You think “shittinghell I can’t believe I just did that”. And then six months later you see someone else’s teeny tiny and think “Awww I can’t even remember when mine was that small!” And you want to do it all over again. Women are fucking nuts. 

P.S. If you haven’t had a baby yet, take the fucking drugs. Spoiler alert: Noone gives you a medal for not taking them. Next time I will be having everything going. I spanked the gas and air so hard when I was getting stitched up that I started wittering on about Saturday Kitchen and ‘umph umph umphing’ along like a fucking teenager at a drum and bass rave. The baby was out by then though, so I was just enjoying myself.  Next time I want something stronger… so maybe it is true what they say about drugs after all.

Bridie By The Sea
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“So… when’s the wedding?” Err… mind your own fucking business.

Before I go full throttle on this post please be under no illusions that I am in any way anti-marriage. My parents have been married (happily) for 35+ years and that is a wonderful thing. I am not belittling marriage or the massive commitment that it clearly is. That said, it is not the be all and end all that some archaic nob jockeys believe it to be.

“So… when’s the wedding?” is the one friggin question that kept plaguing me like a bad smell while I was pregnant. It would seemingly disappear only to then hit you in the schnoz again when you were least expecting it. In fact the stale as hell fart has continued lingering well into the first year of my son’s life. Perhaps not that surprising to hear remarks like this from older family members you would think. True. But many unmarried and happily cohabiting friends have also asked the question. And it’s not the idea of being asked about marriage that troubles me. It’s the fact that I am being asked BECAUSE I have a baby. Like it is some sort of parental initiation. You can’t possibly raise a child without a ring on it. 

The child will be a “bastard” (father-in-law literally said this to me “in jest” while drunk when I was 8 months pregnant… W.T.F.) “You’re having a baby together now, you need to make a commitment” was another comment from the same conversation over curry. The baby is the fucking commitment, along with the joint mortgage. I’d say that’s commitment enough for anyone but oh no I need a fecking piece of paper to tell me how much I love and need my fella as well do I? No. I don’t. It’s easier to get out of a marriage than a mortgage. And it’s definitely easier to get out of a marriage than out of being a parent. Still awaiting an apology for that little outburst. I’m sure he might read this but he’s big enough and ugly enough to accept that he was being a twat that night. I love him most of the time, so it’s fine.

“You won’t have the same legal rights if you’re not married”… err the man won’t anyway, even if you are married, until his name is on the birth certificate (this is because the authorities don’t trust that you haven’t been slagging around on your hubs and got up the duff by the milkman). As far as finances go, we’ve made a will together… (and yes this makes me feel old as hell at a tender 31 years). Next. 

An ex-colleague, when I told her I was pregnant, responded “I didn’t even know you were married… are you?” HA HA HA. No I’m bloody not. But you’ve shown your hand now so I’m going to make this as awkward as fuck for you, so that you never make such a thoughtless and frankly ridiculous comment to anyone ever again! Another friend when I shared the joyous news asked “how did that happen?” I mean come on love, we’re all adults here, you know exactly how this works, you’ve known since Year 5 Primary school when they show that cartoon of a naked man chasing a naked lady with a feather (WTF… that was meant to depict foreplay btw, I did not get that until I taught sex ed myself). What she meant was “how come you got pregnant before you got married?” I did not dignify this with an answer but simply responded with “well we had sex”. Conversation stopper.

Also the number of people that thought it was OK to ask if the baby was planned was absolutely baffling. The majority of people we told, that was their first question. Some even asked this before congratulating us. I mean… really?! Like “oh shit if it’s unplanned I can’t congratulate them, better just check…” Would you ever ask a married couple that? No. Because you assume the sole reason for two people to wed is in order to begin procreating. In future: if you wouldn’t ask a married person, don’t fucking ask me. Assume all social niceties that stand for husbands and wives, also stand for cohabiters, singletons, people in open relationships, people in love with their cars/dolls/stamp collection and so on and so forth. A personal and damn rude question is just that. It is no more acceptable because I am unmarried. So keep your curiosity in check.

Most people that ask the question “so, when’s the wedding?” do so in a well-meaning, just making conversation, kind of way. It just narks me that the assumption is that there will be one. I mean, we probably will get married at some point, even if only for tax purposes, but we don’t need to be married to jointly and effectively parent our child/children. Plenty of unmarried and indeed single parents raise amazing children every day. As for other unmarried, thus far childless couples, I usually just ask when their wedding is and they soon get the hint and shut the fuck up. Not so nice when the tables are turned and a magnifying glass is put on your level of “commitment” eh.

All told I suppose I probably would quite like to marry my fella. He’s a pretty good catch. But we’ll do so as and when we are ready (and assuming he wants to marry me, hell I’m a bit of a bitch at times as you can probably tell, so my chances could be getting slimmer by the day). Still I doubt it would change much, especially as I have no intention of changing my name DUN DUN DUN. I know. Feminazi cow right? But it would be a bloody good party.

Bridie By The Sea