A Type of Mum Culture We Need to Say Goodbye to

motherhood, Uncategorized

On my mat leave, I was never the mum who went to baby clubs. I was terrified of them, in fact. Baby changing and feeding rooms were panic inducing for me and soft play completely off limits unless Rob or good friends were by my side. But, why?

The above statement seems dramatic, but it’s totally necessary. You see, there is a mum culture that I have had enough of and want no part in. It’s the school gate gossip, cliquey, judgemental groups. The people who cast their opinions upon you after just a glance. The ones who want to fit you into a pigeon hole, a niche, and want you to stay there.

My first year of motherhood was an unexpected one. It bought with it so much joy, but it was a massive learning curve for me when it came to other mothers and the attitudes of other people. Taken aback from my experiences, I am also so grateful at what it taught me.

I went to a baby group at my local library when Ted was a few months old. Previous to that, I’d never really socialised with mums I didn’t already know. It was daunting and I spent the night before awake and worrying about the finer details- when I’d need to leave the house, how long it’d take for me to get there, how early I’d need to be, whether I needed to set an alarm, what I should wear.

Waking up the next morning, I put on my absolute go-to outfit. A checked mini skirt and a roll neck. I sat and did my make-up on the sofa while Ted was feeding, drank my coffee, and felt excited at who I might meet or who I might connect with. I always remember my mum saying to me beforehand that even though baby classes weren’t my thing and didn’t appeal to me (I’m a massive introvert and find it hard to trust people) that there would be someone there that felt the exact same way as me. That was all the reassurance I needed.

I arrived. Mums gathered in familiar groups. I said hello to each group as I walked in. A few reluctantly said hello back. I smiled. A few smiled back half smiles, the others ignored me. I tried hard to mingle, complimenting other mums. For example, one mum was tandem feeding on a soft play bench and I told her how amazing she was doing. She smiled and I felt safe. I sat next to her and fed Ted too.

Five minutes later, another mum came over, followed by two more. They were friends with this lady, and she introduced me to them.

No hello. No ‘nice to meet you.’ Just, simply:

“You’re a little overdressed for a baby class.’

Silence. I said nothing. I felt weak. I carried on feeding Ted and looked to the floor.

Ten minutes later:

‘How did you have that much time to get ready?’

I replied explaining that I’d been awake very early and that I did my make up while feeding my son.

‘I don’t think this is really your sort of place is it?’

There was an expectation that now that I’m a mum, I should have a messy mum bun and be wearing a hoody, jeans and trainers with sick down the front, minimal make-up, if any at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally okay to be that mum too. I am that mum on some days. But today is made an effort because I was nervous and because that’s how I felt most comfortable meeting new people. The point is it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

I distinctly remember at that moment, looking around the room at the variety of faces staring back at me, and not understanding why anyone would be someone who was ‘different’ or didn’t belong there. It was a room full of diverse, beautiful women, all feeding their babies in different ways, all dressed differently too, and I’d never felt so secluded and singled out.

Not long after I was sat at the park where I was told by another mother that I was disgusting for breastfeeding.

And again, not long after that I was sat in the feeding room in Mothercare and a woman told me that I needed to leave because breastfeeding was wrong. Yep. In an actual FEEDING room.

I was then unfortunately put in another situation with a group of women where I overheard them on numerous occasions talking about me. One of their children even said to them in front of me once ‘look who is here mum! It’s her! Shush!’ I apparently believed I was ‘better than them’ and one of them even made comments about Ted’s behaviour (he was just over 1 at the time) when in reality they’d never spoken to me properly, knew nothing about me and were judging me based on perception. Luckily I don’t have to see those people anymore, and I’m also really lucky to have had a good friend who was also involved with this group of women and her and her partner helped me massively with this situation. Never having to see that group again is an absolute blessing.

Firstly, let’s remember that we are all completely different people, with totally different priorities, interests, agendas, opinions, thoughts, the lot! Being different is what makes the world what it is.

Secondly, when was it okay to make other people feel like this anyway?

My perspective on the world changed for a while after all of this. I focused on doing the exact opposite of what others made me feel. No matter how bad someone made me feel, or makes me feel, I won’t stop treating them with kindness. More often than not, people are behaving in that way because they are feeling bad. More often than not, this is a defence mechanism and your kindness with shock them. Be the bigger person and pretend you’re not bothered, even if like me at the time, you really are. The world is much bigger than the pettiness we are forced into. Cry about what has happened. Complain to your friends. And then move on.

There’s a competitive nature to all of this that I am just not a fan of, and it’s something I’ll talk about in a future blog. When mums work together, wonderful things happen. Woman power is like a super power, and oh my god can we change the world when that force is combined rather than a rivalry. Please please please, when you see that awkward new mum forcing a smile and holding her newborn at your next baby class, clearly looking for friendship and a good chat, ask her how she is. Ask her if she wants to sit with you and find out all about her. Ask her if she wants to get coffee afterwards. Be kind and love each other, because being a mumma is tough enough as it is and tearing each other down is not okay on any level.

February’s Beauty Bay Haul

Beauty

I popped a little picture up on my Instagram story earlier this month of my Beauty Bay haul, and was inundated with messages about where and when and how! Well I thought I’d give you a little peak into what was inside the box. Like a lot of other mums, I’m living on a budget, so any bargain I can get my hands on or hear about is a must-have. Here I am sharing a little bit of bargain-hunting wisdom with you! In total this haul came to £28 in the sale.

MUA Bronzed Matte Bronzing Powder (Shade Solar)

All my current bronzers I’ve found are too sparkly at the moment. I find these are great for the summer, but in the winter I prefer to up the highlight and go for a subtle, matte effect bronzer. This is just what I needed! Honestly, I’ve not bought MUA products since I was at High School, and considering how cheap they are I thought they’d just do the job- but oh my god, I’m impressed!

Wet n Wild Photofocus Natural Finish Setting Spray

Now I’m not a fan of this one. It doesn’t really seem to do its job and didn’t make any difference. I might as well not even use it if I’m completely honest. Disappointed as usually love Wet n Wild and find they are well worth the money, but give this one a miss.

L.A. Girl Pro.Conceal High-Definition Concealer (Green corrector)

I’ve seen beauty Tik Tokkers using this concealer a lot, and really wanted to get my hands on it! I’ve used the L.A. Girl contour palettes before and love them, so knew this was worth a try. I use a green concealer as I struggle with rosacea across my nose and cheeks and need help with reducing redness. I really like this product and the brush applicator and tube it comes in. Get your hands on the shade for you!

MUA Blushed Matte Blush Powder (Atomic Tangerine)

Sold on this name alone, I found all my blushers are too pale. They’re fine for when I’m pale and untanned, but with fake tan on, which is most of the time now, I need a dark shade. I’m loving popping this on in an OTT, 80’s style placement with a dab on the bridge of my nose.

The Ordinary Coverage Foundation (Medium Dark)

I’ll never buy another foundation again! At only £6, this high coverage foundation is perfect for my oily skin. It stays looking natural, not at all cakey, and places on the skin effortlessly. Every woman needs this product as heir everyday foundation.

MUA Amplify Statement Lash Mascara

Give this one a miss. It does the job but it’s nothing special! I really wanted to try the Maybelline Sky High Mascara but it was sold out everywhere, but find this mascara messy (the brush isn’t a good shape for me) and not particularly great at adding any length to my lashes. It takes a long time to dry which isn’t ideal for mum life!

Revolution Brow Dye Gel

This has walked into my life and changed my brow game forever! Those of you who are used to getting your brows done regularly need to purchase this during lockdown. I love that it peels off and requires little technique to actually put on. It’s made me feel much more confident about more sparse eyebrows and feel like I can go out without doing them. I’m late to the trend, but I’m obsessing over fluffy brows and this helps with making them look full.

MUA Intense Colour Eyeliner (Snow Queen)

My eyes are teeny, tiny, squinty, almond shapes, so I love a white water line to open them up and create the illusion that they are bigger.

Head over to my Instagram @aliceandthemumsmag to watch the reel I uploaded of the products!

Why I’m Bringing Back My Blog

Uncategorized

It’s been a long time coming, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, but finally my blog is back! Welcome to those of you who are new here! Expect lots of motherhood stories, tips and tricks, fashion posts, beauty reviews, and blogs about nerdy things I enjoy!

But, why now?

I love blogging. It’s like an informal way of just splurging my words (and thoughts) onto a page. It gives me peace, knowing the words have left my brain and are floating somewhere else. Writing has always been my escape, and I guess, way of coping. When I think about periods where I’ve been at my lowest, writing was what saved me each time. Whether journalling, creative writing or writing academic pieces, I find I’m transported when I write to my very own little happy place.

It’s taken me a while to get there, but I see blogging as my totally selfish and relaxing thing to do, so it’s an added bonus when someone else enjoys the blog.

I stopped in the first place because I was worried that I wasn’t ‘enough’ of anything to write a blog and used to worry people would speculate, judge and create a false reality about me in their heads. I’m not funny or interesting enough to be a mummy blogger, not cool or trendy enough to be a fashion blogger, not glamorous enough to be a beauty blogger, not knowledgable enough to be a film blogger. It’s not really until the last 6 months that I’ve thought to myself, actually, I am enough for all of these things. Why shouldn’t I talk about all the things I like and enjoy writing about them? When I realised I blogged for me rather than other people, when I stopped caring what other people think or speculate about, I realised how happy blogging makes me.

Now I’ve got a lot more followers, subscribers to my very own magazines and a feel more confident, self assured and thirsty to write more- here I am! Stay tuned for more motherhood, beauty, fashion and nerdy stuff!

How I’ve Built Confidence in Ted

baby, Mum, Uncategorized

I’m no parenting expert- I’m far from it- but I’m always happy to share my experiences, tips and tricks. Somehow me, an insecure, anxious mess, is raising a confident, wild spirit of an individual and it makes me proud everyday watching his personality blossom. I am really pleased with the confidence Ted has around other people, in his abilities and with learning new things, and although I fully believe some of that is down to the natural characteristics he has likely been born with, I know that some of that too is down to the attitudes of both Rob and I and our parenting style. What we do might not be to everyone’s taste or standard, but it’s what works for us and what has helped in making Ted who he is.

I think it’s pretty safe to say we are quite laid back in our parenting style. Don’t get me wrong, if Ted does anything he shouldn’t he is definitely told off, but in terms of his routine we are fairly flexible and have always made his naps, bedtime, feeds, meals, etc. work around us rather than us around him. It doesn’t matter if Ted needs a nap at 11 and a friend wants to meet at half past- Ted will wait and nap later. If family want to see Ted one evening then he will stay up later and entertain so they can see him. He doesn’t need to eat a certain time and always eats what we eat. Our flexability in our schedule I think has really helped build Ted’s confidence, as living life on a strict schedule is not realistic and reflective of a normal life, and therefore our laid-backness has led to him being one chilled little man who takes it as it comes.

Being surrounded by a big family and lots of friends has really helped Ted grow as a little person and become sociable. From the day he was born he has been passed from grandparent to uncle to aunt for cuddles and he has loved every second of it. Spending a lot of time at nursery too, amongst other children and adults, has definitely encouraged him to come out of his shell. It helped that when on my mat leave, I refused to ever spend a day at home. We went out every single day even if just for a walk to the park and back. It’s not healthy for anyone to spend all their time with just one other person, and by surrounding myself with company, he always was as well. Even now every weekend we still have to fill with activity and venturing out. Although it can be tiring, the enjoyment far outweighs that. It helps that we have not been over protective of him either, and always given him the opportunity to spend the day with grandparents- and I’m sure they love that too!

I completely agree that children can sense emotion and any sort of panic, and it’s difficult to hide that when your little human is doing risky things (like climbing- eek!) for the first time. We have let him explore and learn from his mistakes, making sure that he tries again. Even if it is something physical, and I’m not sure he can do it, I let him try anyway- and 9 times out of 10 he proves me wrong!

I want this boy to know that he can take over the world- and I’m pretty sure he already thinks he can! The tantrums have started and boundaries are being pushed, but all of the stubborn in him is so worth it for all the fun-loving enthusism in him. I believe the best way to build confidence in Ted is plenty of praise, lots of opportunity, and learning from a wealth of wonderful people.

How I Parent

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Routine, Uncategorized

I’ve been getting messages on Instagram recently from mums who want to know how I do things. How I manage, how I cope, how I parent.

First of all, I love that we all parent in different ways and I love that the choices we make form each of our little individuals and their unique personalities. Coming up in the next few weeks will be a blog I have written about choice and how many choices mother’s are expected to make, and I guess this one is a post about the choices that I have made in parenthood.

Secondly, I find it laughable that people perceive me as someone who copes and manages well. I’m a constant collective of organised and calm, and a complete anxious mess. I guess it depends what day/week you catch me on and which of my many moods I may be in. Despite that, I’m always happy to share what has worked for me.

Like a complete hippy, I wanted everything with Ted to be as natural as possible and nothing to be forced. I guess I’ve suceeded in some areas of that and failed in others. I wish I’d done things like breastfeed for longer, weaned more slowly and used cloth nappies. But that’s what round 2 will be for, right?!

I chose not to use dummies. As a newborn Ted used his nursing for comfort largely and although there were times (normally whilst I was awake at 4am wondering why I’d spent more time awake that night than asleep) that I didn’t know how I’d cope, Rob and I realised that there weren’t any points when we actually needed it. Ted eventually in his own time has learned to self soothe. Teething has never been a massive problem for us other than his sleep stealing, and whenever he is upset I go through the mental checklist in my head of what may be upsetting him until we find an answer.

Working in education, I’m driven to making sure I teach and educate Ted the best I can. We read to him often and limit his TV time as much as possible. Part of educating him for me too has always been by surrounding him with positive people and experiences. Taking him to the farm, drawing, letting him help me with mundane tasks, visiting family often, attempting to play sport together, visits to parks, letting him run around and be a free spirit. He is turning into such a sweet little soul, and I put so much of that down to making sure we leave the house every single day, come rain and shine

I chose to breastfeed until Ted was 13 months. The choice to stop then was more his choice than mine. He’d had enough and would push away and I knew it was time to stop. I’m so proud of our journey with feeding and that my choice made him the super strong little lad he is now.

Our sleep journey with Ted has been a challenging one and we have slowly and gently weaned him off of being fed to sleep, rocked to sleep and now left to fall asleep himself. I’m glad we have let him find his own way with sleep and that we have finally got to a good place with it. Maybe our decision to feed and rock him to sleep made the sleep situation worse, but for us it was the best choice based on what our boy needed at the time.

I chose to go back to work full time, and consequently chose to put Ted into a nursery full time. I needed work to stay sane as spending that amount of time at home wasn’t good for me, and luckily nursery has been a breeze for Ted. It’s made him a confident, independent child and bought out nothing but the best in him. I think we were lucky that we just found the right place and that he slipped into his new routine with minimal problems.

Being the ultra-feminist I am, everything is evenly split between me and Rob and I am so grateful for that. Particularly since being back at work, I’m so grateful for all that he does to keep me sane, keep us fed and help keep the household running smoothly. I honestly don’t know how some women do it, so massive shout out to them!

I’m the mum who likes to cuddle often, but I’m firm when Ted pushes the boundaries. I want to raise Ted understanding that he must work hard in order to get what he wants. I guess my values in life are reflected in my parenting style- kindness, persistence and education.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that how I parent is how my parent’s parent, and I’m lucky to have those role models in place. How they grandparent is funnily enough also how my grandparent’s grandparent- constantly trying to feed me, showering me with affection and adoration and allowing cheekiness that parent’s don’t!

It’s important that we share what works for us, as it may help others make decisions about how they do things. How do you parent?

Mummy’s First Sick Day

Mum, Uncategorized, Working Mum

Last week I had two days off work with sickness, and for something I thought would be pretty straight forward and uncomplicated, it’s bought with it a range of unexpected emotion.

I saw a quote online the other day about a woman who as a child could never understand why her mum was never ill, and as she grew up and became a mother herself she realised that actually mums do get ill, they just have no choice but to carry on like they are perfectly well.

It’s so hard to stay upbeat, keep calm and stay smiling when all you want to do is curl up into the foetal position like the big baby you are and just sleep it off. You have to put a full shift in of mumming before you can even begin to think about yourself. But what took me back was the amount of guilt I was feeling…

Seeing Ted off to nursery with daddy, whilst I lay on the sofa snuggled up in the biggest, cosiest jumper I own and a blanket up to my chin made me feel terrible. I wanted to see Ted off at nursery and see his happy little face when picking him up. I wanted to walk him in and answer him every single time he points and says ‘what’s that?’ at every bird, dog and plane. Sitting at home without him was lonely and despite being ill, I felt bad that he was in the care of someone else when I was there. When Ted started nursery, one of the things we talked about was how when we were unwell we wouldn’t need to look after him and we would have time to properly recover. In reality, I missed him and wanted him there with me more than anything else.

I’ve always hated being off sick. To be honest, I’m the sort of person who would rather be in work and I don’t like sitting and doing nothing. Especially since Ted has been born, I’ve felt that every moment is so precious and shouldn’t be wasted and feeling ill always feels like a waste of time to me. I try and fill my time up as much as possible and that sometimes leaves me drained and exhausted. I’m determined to leave behind something to be proud of, so I work hard at work, I work hard at home and I put my absolute all into everything.

Actually, what I should be doing is making the most of those rare days I get to myself to relax and look after myself. I forget that for Ted to be okay, I have to be okay too.

Mummy Mental Health

Mental Health, Mum, Uncategorized

My mental health is something I’ve never really been fully open about, and especially not on this scary platform for all to read. I have always really battled with my mental health, and have felt most of my adult life has been dominated by some particular demons.

When I was 20, I was diagnosed with moderate depression and severe anxiety, and although I wouldn’t say I suffer from either now, I remain an anxious person and find myself constantly struggling with my brain to ensure I don’t find myself in a position of not coping again. I didn’t want to live with labels above my head or use them as barriers. I worked bloody hard to feel all the good in me again.

I went through a summer of CBT sessions and I think these helped to the extent that it was the first time I really laid down the facts about how I was feeling and addressed things that went back as far as the age of 5. On the other hand, I found some of the techniques used in CBT weren’t for me and just filled my brain with more to think about. I constantly found myself looking for answers and the reasons why, rather than just dealing with the issue. This is still one of my hang ups now. In fact, sometimes I find myself questioning other’s behaviour more than anything else.

I worked out that if I wanted to feel better, it was going to have to come from me and I was going to have to do it myself. I read so many books about mental health and coping strategies. I kept journals of my thoughts and feelings and even had a notebook I created myself full of inspirational and motivational quotes and pictures of all the things I loved. I volunteered in the library and desktop publishing department of my now workplace. I threw myself into my degree, completing it long distance so I could do it at home and achieved 80+% in the 3 modules I was covering over that period of time. I came such a long way in such a short period of time and I could really focus on me.

I’ve always had issues with my self image and don’t think very highly of myself. I have a constant fear of not achieving or not being good enough. I come across to most, especially since Ted has been born, as a confident, happy individual. And to be completely honest, I am a happy and confident person too most the time, but I often need reminding of that.

My biggest fear as a parent is that Ted might one day struggle like I have. I know I can’t stop that from happening, but I hope I’m showing him the most appropriate way of dealing with things and that this will impact on him as he gets older. I guess at this moment in time, my new hurdle to overcome is being back at work full time and rejiggling the juggle of mum and work. Learning how to be there for my boy, but also be a professional.

Being a mum is the best thing I’ve ever experienced, and it has been the best way for me to deal with things that would typically and previously bother me greatly. My head now works in such a way that I prioritise how I feel about certain things and what deserves the most time and attention. Also having a little bundle of energy (I realise I’ve started calling him that a lot in these blogs now) running away from you and showing you all the new things he can do everyday is an amazing, wonderful distraction.

Despite my struggles, I am a strong woman. I hold my shit together when I feel like everything else is falling apart, and I just deal with it (after a meltdown or two…) Anything you can do, I can do on 2 hours sleep or vomiting every 15 minutes (pregnancy wasn’t the best for me) or with a 1 year old in my other arm. When my mental health begins to deteriorate, I bounce back. I’m working twice as hard to prove my worth, working full time, writing a book, keeping my blog updated regularly, planning a podcast, planning a masters, as well as attempting to keep my flat tidy and trying my best to be a dream mum for Ted.

I guess my point is, being a mum makes you rethink and reprioritise. Your every worry is now focused on the impact that will have on your child rather than you. Your usual self care becomes more of a team care and there’s no room for selfishness. Since becoming a mum, I’ve been less concerned with my own feelings, and sometimes they aren’t important enough for me to deal with, but the key thing is that no matter how many times people tell you and you don’t listen, you are so important. You need to think about you sometimes and that could be anything from having a nice bath with candles, or going for a walk or run, or a girl’s weekend away to clear your head and have fun. It breaks my heart seeing so many mothers struggle and battle each day because they’ve been taught that looking after themselves should come last, when really we need to look after ourselves so we are fully refreshed to look after our little ones.

Mum’s were people before we were mums and we need to remember that! Look after yourselves ❤

Breastfeeding Myths Debunked

Breastfeeding, Mum

I am so so passionate about breastfeeding. I honestly believe it is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and how incredible is it that our bodies produce a substance so perfect for our babies? There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding breastfeeding and I love talking to people about it and ‘debunking’ myths that some have about breastfeeding. I’ve picked out some common things I’ve heard over the last year to try and raise a better understanding. I’m no medical expert, but I am a mum who has done her research, is enthusiastic and would love to support other women in their breastfeeding journeys!

“Expressing milk will show how much you have.”

This varies so much depending on the individual. I was really lucky and from the moment Ted was born I could pump about 5 ounces in 5 minutes. Other women aren’t as lucky though, and can only get 1 in 10 minutes at times! This is no reflection of how much milk you are actually producing. Remember that pumping milk is not a natural process. It stimulates the nipple, but it is the saliva in a babies mouth that encourages the production of milk.

“My baby feeds too much- I’m not producing enough milk.”

All I really need to say here is CLUSTER FEEDING. Oh my god… No one warned me about CF before my son was born and if I hadn’t have researched it I would have thought the exact same thing. I had a very very hungry baby. He’d want milk 10 minutes after his last feed and every night would feed for hours and hours before bed.

“My boobs are soft and not full anymore so I think my milk has dried up.”

You probably don’t like the look of them now they’ve gone soft, but honestly, this is a good thing. It means your supply has settled and your producing just the right amount. That full feeling might come back from time to time and they won’t stay like that after feeding. I finished feeding 3 weeks ago and my ‘fullness’ in terms of fat (rather than milk) has returned!

“He didn’t feed for very long.”

This one is polar opposite to what most people are probably used to. I had a woman in a feeding room make this comment to me. She was also feeding her baby and I thought it was a very strange thing to comment on. Sometimes babies want a meal and sometimes they just want a little sip to drink. Sometimes they want 3 entire courses plus drinks! Once feeding is established the length of feeds can vary, especially dependant on weather and times of day.

“Breastfed babies are clingy and don’t get to bond with their dads.”

Oh man, I hate this one! A big thing i hate about it is it implies the only way you can bond with your baby is by feeding them! Dads can cuddle too. They can change nappies and get baby’s first giggle out. My son and partner have the strongest of bonds and breastfeeding doesn’t take that away from a father.

“Many mothers aren’t capable of breastfeeding.”

This is partly correct in that it is right, some mothers just aren’t physically capable of breastfeeding. Some mothers are also on medication that is crucial to their physical or mental wellbeing and it means that they cannot breastfeed either. But this really isn’t as many as are made out, and unfortunately most the time it is down to a lack of support received.

“You can’t drink alcohol while you breastfeed.”

I’ve had to explain this one more that any of the others! I love the odd glass of wine or cocktail here and there, and it bothers me that I can sometimes be judged for drinking and then feeding. The truth is that alcohol has such a minimal effect on your milk supply.

“Breastfed babies don’t sleep.”

Okay, so my baby is not a great example of this… but there’s this toxic rumour that breastfed babies don’t sleep and it’s not true! Formula fed babies often sleep better as formula is harder to digest and therefore they stay fuller for longer. Even so, it is completely down to luck and depends on what age your baby learns to self soothe.

“I don’t think I would have been able to breastfeed because my milk didn’t come in until over a week.”

The more baby is on the breast, the quicker the milk comes! My milk took 5 or 6 days to come in. Before milk, babies feed on colostrum which is also known as liquid gold. This is all baby will need in that duration as their tummies are only the size of a 50 pence coin!

“Breastfeeding hurts.”

To begin with breastfeeding can hurt if the latch is all wrong. Also, your nipples can sometimes hurt to start off with as they adapt to their new purpose. It’s nothing a bit of nipple cream won’t fix!

“You’ll have to get him on a bottle before he has teeth.”

What’s so scary about teeth and breastfeeding? Ted bites me once every time a new tooth comes through. But it isn’t a hard bite, it’s just he is learning to get comfortable and get a new latch now his mouth is different! If baby bites, firmly tell them no and try not to react.

“Formula and breastmilk are exactly the same.”

Whichever way you choose to feed, science is amazing. We are lucky that formula is there to replicate some of the goodness of breastmilk, but unfortunately formula only contains a fifth of the goodness of breastmilk. Breastmilk serves as medicine as well as nutrition, and contains hormones that cannot be replicated that boost brain development, fight infections and viruses and protect against long term disease into adulthood. And that is amongst many other things!

“Premature babies can’t be breastfed.”

This one makes me especially sad because of course they can!!! Colostrum and milk can be expressed for tube fed babies and although that latch may be a bit harder to establish, with the support of midwives and perseverance you and baby can get there. Breastmilk will adapt to a premature birth and become extra fatty for weight gain and produce extra proteins specifically for brain development.

Surviving Sleep Deprivation

Mum, Sleep

Now that my days of waking every hour of the night are a distant memory, I can talk about them fondly (okay, maybe not) and openly without feeling like I’m ranting or having a moan. Ted now sleeps through the night (HURRAH!) and although that feels like an absolute privilege now, I can remember all too vividly the dark depths of sleep deprivation.

I feel like I need to give you a bit of background to Ted’s sleeping habits to justify writing this blog. I know people have had it much worse than me, I really do… but at points I’ve had it pretty bad, and I hope that qualifies me as a person who can lecture about how you will survive it, because guess what? You really will!

So from birth to 4 months old, Ted was a dream. He’d sleep from 9 until 7 just waking up once between 1 and 2, going straight back down after a quick feed. There was never any need for co-sleeping or any additional aids, because for a newborn he was a perfect sleeper. Apparently our baby that was boast-worthy decided to shatter our dreams and went through his first sleep regression.

The following 5 months were a blur. I mean, I was awake most of the time, so you’d think I’d hold more memories than ever, but the truth is, most nights I was surviving off of 2 or 3 hours sleep. I don’t know what happened and why my angel child suddenly decided to become a devil sleep stealer, but it was incredibly difficult to even summon the energy to eat and drink some days, let alone do anything else. Ted went from waking up once, to waking up every 20 minutes some nights.

When Ted reached 6 months, we moved him into his own room and this helped a little. I refused to do it any sooner, as I’d never want to put Ted at a higher risk of SIDs, and I refused to co-sleep, purely because I was so determined (or stubborn) to get him to sleep in his cot. When I say helped a little, I mean he went from waking up every 20 minutes to every hour. Some nights I’d even get a 2 hour slot before he woke up again! Lucky, lucky me!

When Ted reached 9 months, he just decided to start waking up once again, and then by 10 months when my return to work was looming, he slept through the night, and has done ever since. But how did I survive those sleepless nights?

There’s three things I would recommend more than anything, and three things that kept me going through that time. Firstly, I slept whenever I had the opportunity to. My sleeping patterns must’ve been so messed up and I think I slept more on the sofa than I did my own bed, but if baby is sleeping then try and do the same. Forget about your washing pile, the washing up and tidying. Your own sanity is far more important. Those things can wait. Secondly, make sure you always accept any help. If someone says they will take baby for a few hours so you can kip, then do it. If someone offers to do the hoovering, don’t be scared to say yes. Thirdly, make sure you get out of the house every single day, even if it’s for 10 minutes. I always made sure that I went to the park, went to the local shop, went shopping in town, visited a variety of coffee shops, popped to the farm or to the supermarket to make sure that even on days where I didn’t have any plans that I was still getting out and seeing other adults and getting some fresh air. I think this helps us keep some sort of grasp of reality and prevent us living in a baby bubble.

It’s mad to me now when I think about those ridiculously difficult times as they often feel like a distant memory, but really I was only in the midst of them 5 months ago. I’m very much someone whose entire mood is dependent on how much sleep I’ve had, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am to come out the other side. I don’t panic every night now, worrying I won’t get more than 2 hours sleep over an entire night. I hope those of you dealing with a sleep regression at the moment, or those of you that just have a bad sleeper get some much needed sleep soon!

Working Mum Isolation

Mum, Uncategorized, Working Mum

I thought being a mum was hard work, but being a working mum is bloody hard work!

Let me explain my situation a bit, for those who don’t know me personally. I work in education in a teaching role and term time only, so I get all the holidays off. Ted attends nursery every weekday from 8-8:30 and finishes around 4:30-5:45 depending on when I finish. Daddy plays football on saturdays and that takes up most the day, so that’s mine and Ted’s day.

The word ‘isolation’ is often associated with being a mum- especially a mother on maternity leave. I did have times when I felt isolated when on mat leave, but I fixed that by doing small things, such as making sure I left the house, even if just for a walk, everyday. Finding a routine was my way around that. Isolation is expected when you are a new mum. You are learning to cope and deal with the new stresses that mum life can bring. You are on your own a lot of the time with a little human who can’t converse or entertain. It’s something everyone is told to prepare for by attending classes, meeting other mums and touring coffee shops.

However, I’ve never heard anyone talk about the sort of isolation I’ve felt over the last 6 weeks. I’ve not met one single person whose situation is even similar to mine, and as a mum that is hard and not something I’ve experienced yet. There’s always another mum somewhere who knows how you feel, but not for me this time. It’s almost unheard of for a mum of an under 1 year old to be at work full time with nursery childcare and non-flexible hours. I don’t think anyone really relates to it, even when they try. I know I’m flying solo on this type of working mum journey, and that’s proving to be difficult.

Seeing Ted after a working day is completely wonderful. He really enjoys nursery and his happiness at seeing us each evening is the warm, fuzzy, butterfly-feel you dream of, and I get to experience it every single work day. I don’t get to sit down when I get home. Luckily, Daddy makes dinner while me and Ted play, then we eat dinner and shortly afterwards Ted has a milk feed, bath and then it’s bedtime. As soon as he is dreaming away, I’m putting the washing on, tidying up, putting things away for at least another hour before I get to sit down again. As my working day ends, my mummy chores begin.

Fortunately, I do get the holidays off, and I’m really enjoying my summer with Ted and Rob, as he also works in education and gets time off too. It’s come with its difficulties however. The mums you are friends with have their own routines now to prevent their own new-mummy-isolation, meaning they see this person on this day, and have that class on that day, and they’ve filled up their busy schedules leaving you unintentionally left out when your chance does arise to catch up. They’ve got new friends and you aren’t always ‘needed’ anymore. You get so swamped in all the things you haven’t had time to do at the weekends of a working week that you realise your to-do list is longer than you care to share. You’d also be surprised at the assumption others have that you’ve now got buckets full of money, forgetting the pricey childcare bill you’ve still got to pay for next term.

Being a working mum does not make you any less of a mum. When I’m at work, I’m still a mum. My brain is always on Ted and my drive everyday is him. I still give him my time and attention. I think there’s this sort of assumption that when you’re a working mum you are escaping your child. I’m a working mum because I cannot bare the thought of not having a career. My life doesn’t revolve around my child, it is far greater than that, and something I’m very passionate about is not losing my identity and just being ‘Ted’s mum.’ My wages pay for childcare and then I have a little bit left over, and I’m constantly told that it isn’t worth it to do that, but it’s still more than I would have if I wasn’t at work. It hurts when other mums talk about how they couldn’t possibly leave their babies, because I am constantly full of self-doubt as to whether my decision is the right one. It makes me feel like I’m abandoning my son for my own selfish reasons and everyone else is doing right by spending everyday with their child.

But you know what? It really is the right decision for me. Instead, let’s celebrate that some of us have the choice. It’s been the best thing for my family of three. I’m happier, I’m focused, and although the isolation of being a working mum has hit hard, I amaze myself constantly at how brave I’m being. Gone are the days of playing it safe and staying in my comfort zone, and I’m quite proud of myself for doing this and taking what others see as a risk. Go me!