Baby, Baby, Baby

Mum, Mum of 4, pregnancy

Written by Sabrina Reid

You may have noticed that I took a bit of a break. Given that the break came only three posts into my blogging life you may be forgiven if you concluded that I had laid my pen to rest and allowed this phase to pass. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

My last post was a goodbye to pregnancy and a tribute to my third and final baby. But as most of you know by now I am pregnant! 

Pregnant for the fourth time, pregnant and totally unprepared, a pregnancy unplanned that catapulted me into the depths of despair and so please excuse the unexpected interlude as to put it frankly I just needed time to get my shit together. 

I’ve had the experience of an unplanned pregnancy before. My first 18 years ago was totally unplanned and yet failed to rock my world in the way that this one has. Maybe walking into the unknown that first time round mixed with the naivety of my youthful self made it a little less daunting. Maybe knowing the true realities of parenthood especially with four children is the culprit of the fear that has gripped me for the past several months. It’s probably also the lack of control. 

😂

Since having my eldest I’ve been careful to take tight hold of those metaphorical reigns of life and have tried to guide my journey and life outcomes with care. So what happened? I let my guard down. Longed to feel like myself again following a difficult and testing pregnancy, wanted to feel close to my husband after months of illness and carrying what felt like the biggest baby ever, not to mention those early sleepless nights that new parents endure. And with that I convinced myself that exclusively breastfeeding would offer me guaranteed protection and had a night of unforgettable passion! (Well let’s just describe it like that ) I mean the ridiculousness of that last sentence is enough to make me want to slap myself around the head. I got caught up in the moment and got caught out! 

Feeling normal again after a gruelling 10 months of pregnancy is not to be underestimated. So as time went on and the next few months passed I was in heaven feeling like myself, adapting to new motherhood all over, enjoying life with our new baby,  until a dirty craving for Mc Donald’s came over me in a Sainsbury’s car park and a faintness that I knew could only possibly mean one thing!

And like that at 4 months post-partum my worst nightmare came to life. I was pregnant. Again! 

Each of my pregnancies even my first as unprepared for it as I was filled me with an inner joy and peacefulness that only comes when a lifelong hope is actually fulfilled. I always wanted to be a mother and each pregnancy touched my heart. Not this one! How terrible does that sound? I mean even writing it down fills me with guilt. But it’s the truth! The understanding that this is a blessing, a life and my beautiful child did not kick in until recently. No the initial feeling was one of panic! I’ve never had to deal with more than one baby at a time thanks to my almost decade size gaps between each of my children and whilst leaving it so long to have another offspring has its own downsides it’s what I am used to. 

My lacklustre feelings towards this pregnancy were also driven by the fear that my time with my newborn was going to be ripped from my grasp. I’ve documented before my difficulties with pregnancy. Suffering from Hyperemisis Gravaderium and having spells in and out of hospital with uncontrollable sickness. How was I meant to nurture my baby whilst being so physically sick? How would we cope with two babies at once? Where would we put them? (I mean the logistics of housing 6 people in a 3 bedroom house are not to be taken lightly) what would happen to my own mental health? 

Selfish you may say as mostly that list is all about me. But lets face it. It’s me who had to be pregnant for two years in a row, me who will nurture, childcare, clean, cook and maintain our lives in the practical sense. Whilst my wonderful husband is the biggest means of support in every way and even though this pregnancy filled him instantly with happiness, I know that his words of comfort are only that. Again I’ll need to be physically and mentally strong, to get through pregnancy whilst nurturing a baby and running a family and so I don’t lose my mind. 

I’m just tired. Tired of being strong, unbreakable and looking like superwoman (well at least on my good days) I’m worried about falling apart and the consequences for all if and when that happens. But as my husband pointed out that the fact I’m aware of these things means we can be proactive and put things in place that will make things easier. Making my breakdown less likely to happen. Even sharing my honest feelings about this after months of anxiety and fear is helping me to feel more in control. 

We have arranged childcare for the baby on a part time basis for the early days when the new addition arrives. Just to give me time to adapt, sleep when the baby sleeps and to help with bonding. Our family yet again have been marvellous offering to help with the baby and around the house, checking I’m not feeling too unwell etc and just being a general means of support. 

Whilst the shock for me was next level it was equally interesting to gage the reactions of others once the pregnancy as close as it was to the previous one was announced! I mean I could write a comedy book with the one liners we’ve been on the receiving end of. Going back to work pregnant despite the fact that others have done the same before me also filled me with a mixture of dread and relief. However, now it has all sunk in for us and everyone else the idea of my large family seems more and more like the blessing I know I will forever cherish. I have beautiful children who are thoughtful and kind, vulnerable, inquisitive and who keep me on my toes. Life with them and raising them has been far from a walk in the park but it’s our journey. We are all looking forward to welcoming another precious life into the fold and I’m grateful to be a mother of four. Let’s see where the journey takes us next!

What Being A Mum Means To Me: Joanne Townsend

Mum, What Being A Mum Means To Us

Written by Joanne Townsend

We all have expectations of what motherhood will be like before we have our kids. We have thoughts on everything we would do when it comes to sleep, feeding and even telling the small humans off and we plan to put it all into practice when the baby arrives. However, when your little person arrives in your life, it’s a shock to the system as reality kicks in. Motherhood is a wonderful, amazing, yet exhausting time of your life and it’s not something you can plan or really prepare for. All those rules you might have had before go out the window and all little people are so different with their own needs and opinions. Therefore, you can’t really plan how to parent your child until you get to know them and find out who exactly this amazing bundle of joy is. You also can’t anticipate the love you will feel for this little one when they arrive in the world. It’s crazy how protective you feel over this small human and how you will do anything for them. Even though you have just met them, it feels like they have been around all along. While you obviously change a bit when you have kids, it’s so important to remember you are still you and to use your own experiences and feelings to mother your child. After all, those parts of your personality make you the unique mum that your child will love.

Of course, the role of a mum is hard to get to grips with. Even with my daughter now coming up to 2 years old, I’m still learning my role as a ‘mum’. After all, every day your little one changes so much and there are new challenges to face as a mum.  Therefore, the role of a mum constantly changes and I expect this will continue throughout the whole of her life. For now, I ensure I’m the person my child goes to when they feel sad or happy. I love the fact she will smile over to me if she does something amazing or astonishing and the same goes when something upsets or worries her. I want to be the person who makes her feel safe and reassured. I also feel my role is to encourage her if she does something good and tell her no when she is doing something she shouldn’t. I also try to teach her new things and help her to develop and learn. That way, I hope she will grow to be ambitious and willing to try new things. I also show her how to be nice to others around us. Hopefully she will then will grow to be kind and respectful to everyone.

I love my role as a ‘mum’ and look forward to building that tighter bond as my daughter grows up.

Back to Work

Mum, Working Mum

Written by Carly W

So the anxiety kicked in when it hit January 1st 2019. Not because I was going to work that month but because I knew that I was going to work ‘this year’ and that seemed too close for comfort. I had to book plenty of holidays as ‘milestones’ was whilst on maternity, to throw me off the thought of work. We booked a holiday to Lanzarote in February, trip to Windermere in March and then work in April followed by a trip to Newquay in May. Ever since January 2019, I had a go of the lottery almost every week as I had it in my head that I would win and not have to go back. It all seems a joke now, but literally, hand on my heart, I honestly, thought, I would have done so. I even had a go at a competition to ‘win a house’ (no lie). As you may have guessed, I didn’t win. I was enjoying maternity leave that much I was doing anything I could not to actually think about work. So, our holidays happened and it became closer and closer to ‘D Day’. In my friend group, I was the last mummy to go back to work, so I watched all my friends go back and gave them the advice I couldn’t take myself ‘it will all be fine’.

The night before ‘D Day’..

We had a terrible weekend as my daughter was poorly from her trial day at nursery. She seemed to have caught a bug which left us housebound for the whole weekend. I had lots of plans of making the weekend memorable but nothing comes between a poorly baba and cuddles. The night before ‘D Day’, it was touch and go as to whether my daughter was going to nursery, adding to my worries..

Wondering what will happen? 

Who will look after her when I go to work? 

Will they look after her the way I do? 

What happens if she goes and is sick? 

What happens if she goes to nursery and doesn’t drink milk? 

What happens if they swap her milk accidentally to cows milk (she has a cows milk protein allergy)?

I prepped our bags reluctantly, made sure she had a change of clothes, plenty of milk, nappies, wipes etc. And crossed it all off my list. 

I even had to get a new water bottle and mug for my own work to make me feel better about going. 

Surprisingly, I slept quite well that night. 

‘D DAY’..

The day finally came, Tuesday 23rd May 2019. My first day of work. My daughter was still poorly so my husband decided to delay his work and take her to the doctors first thing. I think that made me feel better, knowing she would be looked after on my first day back. Knowing that I wouldn’t have to wave goodbye walking out of nursery for the first proper time. I think that was generally my biggest fear. I got to work, my colleagues had put up banners for me ‘welcoming me back’ and all my worries disappeared when I sat back on my old desk chair. Within minutes, it seemed like I never left and got back into the swing of things dealing with my 1600 emails in my inbox. Everyone asking questions about my daughter; how old she is, is she good, does she sleep etc.. made me think of her and eagerly awaiting home time to have lots of mummy snuggles. 

Nursery 

Daddy took her to the doctors and they said her illness was practically due to teething. So, around 11.30am, we made a decision to let her go to Nursery for her first day. My husband took her to Nursery and made sure to write them a note explaining of her illness and lack of feeding. He said that was really hard and had to hold back the tears as he walked away. Anyway, our Nursery was amazing and they have an app that updates us after nappy changes, feeds and sends us little pictures throughout the day. I think I spent my whole first day at work checking the app for updates. I was so excited to finish work to pick her up. I raced to the Nursery to find out that she had a great day and settled in really well, despite being unwell. That was the most memorable part of my day and we had lots of snuggles when we got home.  

Reflection..

If I could go back and tell myself a few things about my first day at work, I would tell myself this. 

It’s all going to be absolutely fine. Work is great when you get there, it’s good to have adult conversations and there is no better feeling in the world than picking your daughter up from nursery. Also, work is the only time you get a hot cup of tea!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would tell myself that Nursery is going to be amazing; seeing all the different types of food she’s ate, developing her tastebuds, letting her play with other children and different toys. Yes, she is going to catch bugs but that is just human nature. It is developing her immune system. I am sure that lots of people have told me all of this before, but I realised that you don’t take it on board until the time actually comes. I am now so excited to see her grow and develop at nursery and looking forward to getting back into a new routine. I can now officially say, I am a working mum. And I love my weekends even more. 

Dad Interview: Amy and Kieran

Dad Interviews, Mum

This blog post is all about Kieran, my amazing husband and Theo’s wonderful daddy. It’s nice now and then to think about what your partner thought/thinks during the pregnancy, birth and beyond. Hopefully they aren’t all one word answers ! As a pre-warning there may be some expletives in this as Kieran doesn’t have the best language. Read on and I hope you enjoy!

PREGNANCY

A: How did it feel when you found out you were going to be a dad?

K: It was a mixture of the unknown (which made it scary at first) and the joy of knowing that I would soon have a son/daughter.

A: How did you feel at the first scan?

K: Gobsmacked, it wasn’t the conventional first scan as we experienced a bleed and it was in A&E. It was only a little bean on the screen but I had so love for it. Then at the 12 week scan seeing him/her as a developed baby gave me a wave of excitement for the future as a family.

A: How did you deal with me being pregnant as a whole?

K: I didn’t!! We both struggled, you physically and me mentally watching you struggle. But I kept a brave front on seeing as you were going through it not me.

A: Was it weird watching my body change knowing that was your son in there?

K: Not really until he started kicking and then realisation hit that my child was inside you. I didn’t find it weird with your body changing, I knew it was gonna happen it’s just one of them things in life init (great wording Kieran). I was proud knowing that with your body changing so much you were still happy.

A: How did you feel when we had the gender scan… were you expecting a boy, a girl?

😂

K: I was expecting a girl, but whatever the outcome was I would’ve been over the moon! It was now that I could plan what the future was going to be – playing football mainly 

BIRTH AND BEYOND

Okay let’s get the important bit – the birth.

A: What were you expecting?

K: I was expecting to be in and out in one day not a stay in hospital – in out shake it all about, do the hokey pokey and Theo’s head pops out (yes he actually said that!!!)

A: How did you feel during the birth?

K: a mixture of scared for both you and baby, constantly excited and bored. I was so bored. But we cured it watching Netflix.

A: How did you feel holding him for the first time?

K: Words just cannot describe it.

A: What would be your tip for a first time parent surviving the first few weeks?

K: Don’t assume you’re an expert as the little one will prove you wrong everytime. They’re more resilient than you think so try and take in as much advice as you can from other parents and family. Oh and don’t drop the baby.

A: How do you think we have changed since Theo was born?

K: We have matured alot, we were mature before but we are now mature in a different way. Everything you thought you knew before, you didn’t and its hard realising that. No matter how much planning you put in the baby will shit on your plans – or all over you.

A: What is the biggest sacrifice you have had to make?

K: SLEEP!!!!!!!!

A: What is the biggest sacrifice you have watched me make?

K: Again, SLEEP!!! With a slight handful of ruined vagina (oh my god)

A: What are your hopes for Theo’s future? What do you want for him?

K: I want him to have a happy childhood, a good school life, to be smart but have fun at the same time and become a millionaire and give me some. Footballer, F1 driver or golfer I’m not fussed. (this is a joke he can be what he wants to be)

A: What is your FAVOURITE thing about being a dad?

K: Seeing his face light up every time I get back from work and the way it feels every time he says “dada”

A: What is your LEAST favourite thing about being a dad?

K: did I mention that sleep thing? My social life has dwindled but he makes up for it.

A: Finally, what is your favourite thing about Theo?

K: How well he’s progressing into a clever little boy. He’s walking before 1, he’s talking alot and he LOVES kicking balls above which is great for my future plans *wink wink*.

❤️

Hope this opens some eyes and makes you laugh!
Amy & Kieran 

Mat Leave Reflection

Maternity Leave, Mum

This week I went back to work. Full time. Away from my lovely boy 5 days a week.

My mat leave was nothing like I expected. I think I had this sort of dream image of being a lady of leisure and going out for lunch everyday, having this spotless house and keeping on top of the washing pile, reading so many books with all this free time I had, having this fab group of wonder women mum friends, and looking fab while doing it.

That’s not mat leave at all. Mat leave is sleepless nights and early mornings. It’s bleeding nipples, stretch marks, and still wearing your maternity leggings. It’s days where you don’t eat and days when you don’t stop eating. It’s laughter and beautiful memories, but it’s sadness and isolation too. It’s getting to know this little human who is an odd mix of you and the person you love, and finding out what they need and what they like and that there is no guidebook to this whole ‘parenting’ thing.

My labour was pretty straight forward, but it was my recovery I struggled with. No one warns you about recovery or talks about how difficult it is. Through the pain of healing stitches, the learning how to feed and the general coping with the sudden change of lifestyle, you forget about everything else beyond the bubble of you, partner, and baby. My whole ‘first phase’ of maternity leave was littered with anxiety and doubt as you do become so absorbed in yourself and your little one. I was constantly concerned that I wasn’t good enough for the bundle of perfection in my arms and that my every decision would impact him in some way. However, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who told me they were proud of me, and my stage of self-doubt didn’t last long.

For me the next ‘phase’ was loneliness. I loved spending every moment with my son, but sometimes I craved the attention of other adults and a conversation about something other than babies. I’ve got hobbies, I’ve got interests, and I just wanted anyone to talk about them too. I was lost. I got pretty fed up of people only acknowledging Ted and not me, whether it be in the street in passing or a group setting. We come as a package. Without me, there is no Ted, and when you go some days with no adult interaction other than with your partner, things like that hurt. Then there are those moments when you decide to grow some courage and attend a baby class or meet with other mums, and you’re left feeling deflated by judgmental, unnecessary comments. And then it’s just you and your baby and the rest of the world.

I like to think I then entered my ‘phase 3.’ This phase is a great phase for me. It’s where I learned what to care about and what just is not worth it. It’s when I realised what matters and what I deserve, and of course, what Ted deserves. I just had fun, and I grew up a lot. I realised other mums weren’t as scary as they seemed and that I’d only met an unfortunate minority. I realised it didn’t matter if I left the house in leggings and trainers with no intention of doing any sort of exercise. I realised that a happy mummy equals a happy baby. And that’s when I was brave enough to start my new venture with this blog and start sharing my experiences with others and encouraging others to do so.

Honestly, being back at work is great. For about half a day it felt like I was the new girl again, but it wasn’t long until it felt like I’d never left. Questions were flying my way and I could answer them and answer them confidently. The baby brain I thought I was going to return with wasn’t actually there and I’ve since remembered my strengths. I think I forgot how much brain I actually have.

But most importantly, I feel like I’ve got a bit of me back. Yes, I’m Ted’s mum, but I’m also Alice. I’m still the Alice who is super clumsy. I’m still the Alice who could eat her body weight in cheese. I’m still the Alice who can recite every Spice Girls song to you off by heart. I’m also a partner, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague. I’m more than just a mum, but I love that that is now a huge part of my identity. I’m calling this my phase 4, and this is the phase where I’m going to have to learn how to juggle everything.

The worst bit about it all is how much I miss Ted. I miss singing ‘row row row the boat’ and ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ 20 times a day. I miss cleaning up the ridiculous amount of mess after every meal. I miss our cuddles and I miss napping together. But I know those things haven’t been taken away from me and that we still get to do them, just less often.

He is truly the happiest, most charismatic, cheeky boy I have ever met, and I’m so grateful and thankful to him that I get to do this for me and for us. The last 10 months have been an absolute privilege, and I can’t wait to see him grow and mature into the clever, kind and funny little man I know he will be. I’ll treasure this time forever, every ‘first’ and every perfect day had along with the bad days too. I love you, Ted. Thank you for being the best, and sorry that I won’t always be there when you bump your head or maybe when you walk for the first time, but I promise you that doesn’t mean I love you any less. To a happy future, and a wonderful ten months of getting to know each other.

Working Moms Review

F, Film & TV, Lifestyle, Reviews, Style, TV

Written by Joanne Townsend

It’s hard to find a show which portrays a realistic view of being a mum. The soaps never seem to show the mums with their young kids; they are either upstairs or have disappeared while they get on with their life and they only reappear once they are old enough to have their own storylines. Other shows completely bypass the baby and toddler stage with the parents having older kids or teenagers. And they don’t have any depth or outside life apart from being a mother. When I heard about Working Moms through my friend, I thought I would give it a go. It sounds like a breath of fresh air to have a show about a bunch of women going through that tough first year of motherhood. Working Moms on Netflix is a Canadian show which is created and stars the wonderful Catherine Reitman. I have to admit it took me an episode or two to get hooked. But after that, I loved it and had to watch the whole series.

What I really loved about the series was the characters. They are all full of depth and are interesting in their own right. Of course, Kate is the main character in the show. But the other mums who go to the baby group are all just as prominent and have their own storylines going on. I like that they are experiencing different feelings and thoughts about motherhood, good and bad. The main character Kate is struggling with going back to work while juggling motherhood. She has a good position which she loves but also feels uncomfortable leaving her son. I thought this was very relatable in current times. There is a lot of guilt and judgement about mums wanting to return to work. When she was pumping in the toilets at work, I think a lot of mums would relate to this. I also liked her relationship with her husband which felt very real. Dani Kind’s character Anne was also an interesting addition to the clang. Finding out she was pregnant and trying to accept this was a poignant route to go down. After all, it’s not always a straightforward experience when you have further children. Frankie is one of the most complex characters in the show. Struggling from post-natal depression, we see her struggling to bond and fit into the role of motherhood. I thought it was very relevant to show her point of view and how she worked through it with her partner. Jenny was also another complex character who struggled to find her role as her husband was the stay at home dad while she returned to work. As she contemplates an affair, it shows how you can sometimes lose yourself when you become a mum.

I really enjoyed the different characters and the storylines as the show progressed. It was a very real account of motherhood and how it’s so different for everyone. It’s definitely worth a watch and you will laugh, cry and relate to a lot of experiences the mums go through on the show. Looking forward to Netflix uploading the second series!

Teddy’s Weaning Journey

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Weaning, Weaning

Written by Julie Suffield

It’s now been a solid three months since Teddy last had breastmilk. 27 months after that first latch on the floor of our front room and he just quietly, gradually stopped. No tears. No tantrums. Just no more requests for Mamma milk.

It was a much smoother ride second time round. No tongue tie, no mastitis and only the odd milk bleb. He put on weight quickly, only losing 3% of his birthweight. He was a dream to feed, the type of baby you see on maternity ward posters. Quite the surprise after all our difficulties with Bea.

He doesn’t seem to miss it. I was worried we wouldn’t be as close physically but he’s just as cuddly and loving. He still loves to sleep curled up to me the same as before. He did do the same as Bea and fell ill to every bug in the first few weeks after stopping feeding and no longer receiving my immunity. But overall he’s coped amazingly. He did request to latch on a few weeks ago, but couldn’t remember how.

Breastfeeding has been a huge part of my life for four years. Teddy is at a tricky age for tantrums, and there have been a few times that I’ve wished he still fed just to calm him down. But I’m pleased that it was on his terms and has happened at a time that suits us both. For a while it felt like a huge part of my identity had been lost. But it’s something I’ll always be passionate about and advocate for. I am sad that this chapter of motherhood is over with Teddy but also excited for the next stage.

Ted’s Weaning Journey

baby, Weaning, Weaning

Weaning Ted was honestly such an enjoyable process, and although I’m no expert, in celebration of our weaning essentials giveaway I thought I’d share my journey with our readers.

We started weaning just before Ted turned 6 months. Ted definitely had the odd taste of flavours here and there before then, but early weaning isn’t recommended for a number of reasons, so be sure to do your research if that’s something your considering. Roughly 24 weeks is when a baby’s gut is ready for solids, but if you’re breastfeeding and your little one isn’t showing signs of interest in food then wait until they are ready.

Below are the individual steps we took:

1) We started with baby rice mixed with expressed milk, and purely did this to see how Ted got on with chewing and swallowing. Baby rice has no nutritional value but it was a good way to see if Ted was ready.

2) After a few weeks we started to mix pureed vegetables and expressed milk. We fed Ted this at dinner time and it was fun seeing him trying the new flavours. We are lucky that he’s not been fussy with food at all. I’d recommend starting with vegetables before you progress to fruit, otherwise you baby may prefer sweet food over other tastes and this doesn’t bode well for the further stages!

3) Once Ted was enjoying pureed fruit and veg every evening we decided to introduce another meal each day. He was almost 7 months by this point.

4) As Ted started to enjoy 2 meals a day at 7 months, we introduced finger foods and also bread, pasta and rice. I really wanted to mix traditional weaning and baby led weaning, as I wanted Ted to get used to swallowing before introducing the chewing element! I gave him steamed vegetables and would mix with cous cous or over done pasta. Boots do a great range of their own branded gluten free products that we started with before progressing onto normal pasta.

5) If there is one thing that terrified me, it was giving Ted meat! By 7 and half months he was eating well, and now with the introduction of his third meal I knew it was time. We started with fish as it breaks apart really nicely and we eat salmon or white fish every week. Then we introduced chicken, then mince at 8 and half months and Ted will eat beek in small chunks also.

6) One really important thing I would say, is don’t be scared to introduce spice and flavourings. Ted loves eating chilli and curries and has a diverse palette as I give him a nice variety of foods.

7) We can now give him pretty much anything that we eat, which is so easy and simple. There’s just zero point in making multiple meals everyday. Breastfeeding wise, he will only feed twice a day, morning and evening. From 9 months he has also been having 2 snacks a day in between meals.

8) In terms of a sippy cup, we started using one from 6 months with expressed milk in and have now moved onto water. Ted loves the ones with the plastic straw! Our next stage is whole milk in a cup for breakfast to wean off of his morning breastfeed, but we will wait a month or so for that.

My biggest tip would be introducing one new thing a weeks, not everything all at once or too soon.

We make everything from scratch but ocasionally if we stick a pizza in the oven Ted will have some. Weaning him has really made me think about what I eat and how I can eat better, which is great too! There are things we won’t allow him to eat, simply because he is so young. Anything artifical, crisps, fast food, saturated fat or high salt content are a no go. He’s tried bits of chocolate here but it’ll be a long time before we let him have a Maccies!

Whether you opt for baby led or traditional or a mix of both, just do what you are comfortable with. Trust your instincts and do what suits your child and when they are ready. Good luck!

Going Back to Work

Maternity Leave, Mum, Working Mum

I’m about a month away before I have to go back to work. The closer it gets, the more nervous I am. I have always worked since I was 17. I’ve been away from it for 10 months. Things have carried on without me and people have left with new ones arriving in that time.

I worked at my current place for years before I went on maternity leave. I was familiar with everything and everyone. It could be worse and I could be going somewhere new. But it does feel like I’m starting over again, just I already know most of the people I’m working with.

I’ve gotten used to being at home with my daughter, going out with her, using time to meet up with people more often than I ever did when working full time, and adapting to parenthood.

Going back to work is going to change everything again for us. I was one of those people that struggled to get myself ready and out the house to be at work. Now I need to think of sorting an extra person too and the idea of that makes me anxious. I work a drive away where in peak traffic can take a long time. I’m thinking of how I’m going to juggle getting us both up, ready, out the door, drive to grandparents to drop off, tackle the school rush, find somewhere to parallel park in my bigger car (I struggled with my small 3 door), and get through the door ready to start work.

I’m thankful I do only have to go back part time so we still have the beginning of the week to do things together, as well as the weekend with Daddy too when he isn’t working. I’ve been given hours and days I wanted. I know not everyone is able to do that.

Going back to work is something I have to do. I’m glad I saved before I went on maternity because a new baby plus mortgage, bills, food and everyday life takes that pay away. With nothing coming in from my end we wouldn’t be able to do it.

My daughter is going to go to her grandparents while I’m at work. I’m lucky that both my mum and mother in law are around and willing to have her a day each as well as take it in turns for a half day. What would we do if we didn’t have them? I considered nursery but the fees for even a morning once a week add up, and when you take that off of your monthly income you aren’t left with much. I’m wondering how others can do it.

People ask me if I’m worried because I have to leave me daughter, but I respond saying I know she will be fine because she’s with people I trust. It will be good for her to have some time away doing other things. Of course I will want to check up on her during my breaks.

It’s going to feel strange at first. But like when a chapter ends and another one begins, you go with it. It’ll be getting those first few weeks out of the way and then it will probably feel like we never did anything different. Holidays will definitely be something to appreciate and look forward to.

Hypnobirthing: What it is and How it Changed my Birth

birth, Hypnobirthing, Mum

When I had my first child I had never heard of hypnobirthing, I didn’t hear about it until I was pregnant with my second child.

In my first birth I laboured at 3cm dilated for 6 days before the doctors deemed I had ‘failed’ to progress and needed to be induced. I was induced at 12pm (38 weeks’ gestation) my waters broke at 10pm, at 3.24am I was fully dilated and ready to push. My daughter was back to back. I had an epidural because I was exhausted from the days of labouring, and I had had diamorphine, Oramorph, co-codamol and gas and air throughout the week. I was told I could push for an hour before I would need intervention. 57 minutes later I heard my baby’s first cry and it was beautiful. I had two second degree tears that required minor dissolvable stitches. I threw up every colour one can thanks to the medication. She was 7lbs4.5oz and perfect. All in all, it wasn’t too bad, I felt, I expected birth to be horrible, everyone had always told me it would be and that’s just life.

In spite of thinking this was all ok, I found as my next pregnancy progressed, I became scared of giving birth, I didn’t want to labour for a week, I didn’t want to be in and out of hospital for so long. All the pain killers made me fuzzy, I hardly remember the birth of my daughter, I was tired, scared and heavily medicated, I didn’t want to forget it again either.

Towards the middle of my pregnancy Giovanna Fletcher gave birth to her third child, both she and her husband posted on social media about the event and credited hypnobirthing – the word itself put me off, it sounded like a load of hippy nonsense, but I was terrified of repeating my first birth and I was ready to try anything. I began researching it and reading, I learnt there was science behind the information, it was not just oils and hope, it was fact and reason.

I found the positive birthing company, and read the background from Siobhan the woman who runs it, her first birth was like mine, she hypnobirthed for her second and loved it so much she learnt how to teach it and began her company. Her first birth and her higher education drew me to this company, I liked knowing she was an educated woman of reason and still supported this.

So, I booked the weekend face to face course with the positive birthing company.

On this course my husband and I learnt how my body worked, what hormones were needed for labour, what my uterus would do throughout and the rest of my body. My husband learnt the role of the birthing partner and how he could help me through.

On this course we were asked to consider how animals give birth – in the dark, somewhere warm and comfortable, where they feel safe, many of them sanding up. This was to provoke thought about the manner in which humans now birth, it suddenly seemed so obviously unnatural to be in a room full of bright lights and strangers with no comfort.

Hypnobirthing is there to empower women to know how their birth works, to choose their birth and be in control of what happens to them. I learnt that no matter what, unless it is life or death, I had the right to ask questions of my health care providers and say no if I felt something wasn’t right for me or my baby. I learnt that fear and stress are the biggest enemies to birth. Well, hospitals make me stressed.

So, I began to plan my home birth, we bought candles to have dim relaxed lighting, I listened to affirmations and guided relaxation tapes and practiced breathing up and out. We read about the importance of gravity in birth and discussed positive birthing positions such as all fours, standing, squatting, leaning over something etc.

I had essential oils, lavender to calm me and clary sage to help my contractions. We bought warm packs, cold packs, plastic sheeting, birth snacks. By 36 weeks we were ready to go and so excited.

I had been having uncomfortable contractions on and off from 35 weeks, the midwives called it irritable uterus, I worried this was building to a labour like before but I listened to my relaxation, I focused on my goal birth and I prepared myself.

As it was my second baby my local midwife offered a sweep at 38 weeks, I thought about this and as my baby was measuring big, and I was very uncomfortable from the Braxton hicks I decided it was best to have the sweep.

At 38+1 I went for a sweep at 3pm, it was shocking and unpleasant but not painful. I knew I had to keep moving so I went to the supermarket and did the shop. My husband worked in London during the week but as it was almost Christmas (20th December) and I was having my sweep I asked him to come home early that week, he arrived home at 5pm. I was having mild contractions but nothing new and we didn’t trust it was real after our week-long disappointment the first time round.

We ordered an Indian takeaway and put our daughter to bed at 7pm with my mum on standby to pick her up if anything happened. We ate our curry and watched RuPaul’s drag race, I was having period cramps and mild contractions, I decided to sit on my birthing ball and start timing my contractions, they were quite long and close together though I can’t remember precisely the times and lengths now. We decided it might be real but waited a bit.

Eventually I was unable to talk through my contractions anymore and knew I needed to call the midwife, at 11pm we called her. My husband began setting up the candles, oils, plastic sheets, towels and snacks and I lay on my side on the sofa, so I didn’t slow the progress but could have a rest, in this rest my waters broke, a big gush all over our sofa, this was at 11.20pm and was followed by a very strong contraction. I stood in our kitchen, so I didn’t ruin the carpet, took off my trousers and called my mum to let her know we might need her.

My husband cleaned the sofa and I wandered around breathing through my contractions. At this point I was ready for some gas and air.

The midwife arrived at 1130, I was kneeling on the floor leaning against the sofa, I was thrilled for the gas and air and it helped me keep my breathing calm. I could feel what my body was doing, and I was excited. The midwife did an internal exam and I was 5cm already, we couldn’t believe I had progressed so quickly from mild contractions at 7pm.

She sat back and set up her things whilst letting me get on with it, I was focussed and coping well, every so often she used the doppler to listen to my baby’s heart, but she did this around me, so I was not disturbed.

At 12am I struggled with keeping my breathing, I shouted through my contractions quite audibly and woke my daughter. My husband called my mum and she arrived at 12.30am to collect her.

At this point I demanded to be taken to hospital and have an epidural, I was reassured I could do it ‘I know I can do it, but I don’t want to’ I told everyone. I realised after, that this period of panic was actually the transition between dilating and pushing.

I felt my body begin to bare down at around 12.45, it was not something I could’ve stopped if I tried, my body took over and it was all consuming. During contractions I was quiet, focused and didn’t need the gas and air at this point. I could feel my baby moving down, it was an incredible feeling.

Finally, at 1.31am I birthed my son, at home, having progressed on my own, with minimal pain relief. He got stuck on the way out, his shoulder got stuck on my pelvis so right at the end I had to be lying on my back so the midwives could help get him out, he was startled and didn’t breath straight away but they rubbed him down and he started, it was laboured so it was decided it would be best to check him in hospital. I delivered my placenta naturally, was checked over and with not a single tear or scratch I got to go and join my son at the hospital. I was immediately able to get up, dress myself and walk the three flights of stairs down and out of my building.

Hypnobirthing taught me about my body, gave me confidence, and helped me to have the calm, and happy birth I wanted. I could never have done it without the tools my hypnobirthing course gave me, because it also prepared me to deal with the unexpected turn at the end.

Hypnobirthing is not for one kind of birth, it can help you remain calm when your birth doesn’t go to plan and make informed choices when faced with induction or C-section. Even an unplanned C-section can be calm, you can have your music and dimmed lighting and if baby is well, he or she can be brought straight to you for a moment of skin to skin.

My husband and I have two children now and we do not want any more, but if we did, I would be so excited to give birth again, I loved my second birth and I recommend hypnobirthing to every pregnant woman I know now.

I birthed a 9lb baby with less pain relief, more joy and less tearing than a 7lb4.5oz baby thanks to hypnobirthing.