“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!

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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

 

Why the fuck not?

I am currently sitting on my sofa, nap trapped by my six month old while it shits it down with rain outside. I’ve been playing my crossword app for an hour and my brain is numb beyond belief, so I thought maybe I should start a blog… why the fuck not? Every other mother has one so why not me? Bollocks to it. I’m going to do it.

Bollocks to it, is in fact something I have said a fair few times in the last six months, probably more than I care to count. I thought I swore a lot before, but my other half has in fact informed me that I’ve turned into Gordon Ramsay (including the forehead that looks like a testicle from the many deep wrinkles I have developed since becoming a mum). Still. Swearing has a psychological function I tell him. It’s all about self regulation I tell him. You go silent and bottle things up pretending nothing is wrong, until one day you come home from work to find an overflowing bin, full dishwasher and me playing on my phone while the baby sleeps in my arms for the millionth time, at which point you grab the nearest tool or heavy book and pummel me to oblivion with it. I on the other hand, swear. That’s how it is. Deal with it. If our son’s first word is bollocks or fuck I would be extremely surprised and in fact impressed that he should be so clever as to form these complex sounds before the more likely culprits of dada, baba and mama, which are all much easier for his teeny vocal capabilities to manage. “Genius!” I would exclaim, while marching him along to MENSA to get tested and simultaneously attempting to get him to repeat the profanity while I take a hilarious video for You’ve Been Framed on my phone.

I digress. I have read many a mum blog since beginning this intense, exhausting and quite frankly terrifying journey of parenthood. I’ve found them thoroughly entertaining during the night feeds that occurred every 1.5 hours until a few weeks ago (yes my son is a terrible sleeper, more on that some other time, I’m too knackered now). Many are hilarious, real and personal accounts of motherhood and without them I definitely would have felt not only more alone but like a shitty, terrible mother, thinking I’m the only one calling her beloved offspring a dick when they won’t just fucking drop off to sleep at 3am. So cheers to all the mum bloggers. Mind if I join you for the journey? “Why the fuck not?” is the response I hope I’d get if anyone other than me ever reads this ranting drivel. Disclaimer: most of what I write is highly likely to be utter bollocks that may or may not be offensive to others.