Things you thought stupid before becoming a parent

baby on board image

‘Baby on Board’ car stickers

Before having a baby I used to get irrational irritated by these. I perceived them as a self-righteous indulgence by parents who want to tell the world that they made a baby (all by themselves) and are currently on their way to the park to make daisy chains, whilst the rest of us are running late for another shit day at the office. I thought they gave overly cautious parent drivers an unnecessary excuse to be even more cautious,  and shame on you if you get too close – don’t you know there’s a BABY in the car?? 

Yet since becoming mum, I now totally ‘get’ these.

On my first outing out with Taylor, I had this overwhelming sense of responsibility. Overnight my most precious possession went from being my engagement ring to a little human being. What if I lost her, or forgot I had her, or took my hand off the pram and she rolled in to oncoming traffic? What if someone stole her, or she stopped breathing and I didn’t notice??? The thoughts were endless. So being in the car was no different. I went from being a relatively impatient driver to being one of those in the inside lane dutifully sticking to the speed limit. “How dare you get up my ass – I have a bloody baby in the car and I don’t give a shit if you’re running late for work…arsehole.”

Saturday pushchair shoppers

I admit it. I used to judge parents who went shopping on Saturdays, charging their pushchairs through crowds of people whilst looking harassed and pissed off. Why bother? I thought. Doesn’t she have the whole week to get out? OUCH – that’s my bloody ankle! Bitch. 

Now, let me enlighten those without child. That mum did intend to get this shopping trip done and dusted before Saturday, but things just didn’t go to plan this week. So that’s why she’s here. She’s had to time the trip perfectly so that she’s back home or sat having a coffee in Costa in two hours as her baby will need feeding. So she’s in a bit of a rush. She had three hours’ sleep last night and the British public haven’t done much to help her mood so far, watching from the sidelines as she struggles to get the pushchair through various doors and up flights of steps. As she gets to the till to pay for her purchases she remembers that the basket in her pram is minuscule so she’s having to carry all of her bags on one hand, which is cutting off the circulation in her fingers. She now only has 30 minutes until the feed is due. Sod the coffee, she wants to get home. She’s ramming into you because you’re dawdling and you didn’t hear her say ‘excuse me’ because you’re having too much fun. Move out the way! Bitch. 

boring facebook updatesStatus updates 

You groan every time you see another baby picture that your friend’s uploaded onto Facebook. You really don’t need to know that she was up again all night, that she’s managed to change the bed today, or that her baby was sick all over the sofa. You don’t care. You have better things to do with your day.

So spare a thought for her. Whilst you’re instagramming your gourmet brunch, sharing your night on the town or tweeting your thoughts about that commentary you read in The Times today, your friend is changing nappies, watching CBeebies and speaking gaga language to a six week old. Any spare time she has is spent sterilizing bottles and folding laundry. She’s bloody proud of those clean sheets. Indulge her, it won’t be forever.

Parent/child parking bays

I was pretty ignorant before Taylor. I didn’t really see what the big deal was about parking with a child and why this gave parents the special privilege of having a space close to the entrance. They have buggies to transport the children after all. There always seemed to be too many of these spaces and not enough for everyone else.parent child parking

I found out the hard way why these bays are absolutely necessary when I embarked on my first trip to our local shopping centre. I felt pretty smug at first, privately gloating about the fact that I would finally be able to park in one of these spaces for the privileged people with children. The smugness was short-lived however when I entered the multi-storey car park and found that throughout the first six floors, not a single one of these bays was free. After 20 minutes of driving around, I accepted that I would just have to use one of the non-privileged spaces so drove into one only to find a concrete post within inches of my door. Before Taylor I would’ve simply climbed over to the passenger side and got out of the car that way. But ah, there’s not enough room to get the bloody car seat out anyway. It’s not like I could tell her to hop out whilst I straightened up. I drove into and reversed out of another five spaces before finally taking up two spaces on the TWELFTH FLOOR.

So much for privileged treatment.

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“So, how was the labour?”

labour experience

The notion that women release a hormone post-birth that helps them to forget about the pain of labour must be a real one; my first thought after labour (obviously following the joy of meeting Taylor for the first time) was ‘I am NEVER doing that again!’ Yet now, I look back and think it wasn’t so bad at all…

In the grand scheme of things though, I think I was one of the lucky ones. My labour was considered ‘low risk’ from the off – baby had been engaged for weeks and she was in the right position for a natural, uncomplicated birth.

I requested a sweep at my 40+1 morning appointment with the midwife which she told me was apparently a ‘good sweep’ – my cervix was thin and baby was at the marks ready to get set. She told me that I might experience slight cramping so when I woke in the middle of the night with exactly that I didn’t panic too much. The cramps were a little too painful to sleep, but nothing too unfamilar, so after consulting Google about ‘how to tell when you’re in labour’ I decided that I wasn’t. I did feel though that labour was imminent – a feeling that was further confirmed when I had a show the next morning.

Throughout that day, the cramps had pretty much disappeared until 5.30pm when they started up again. I’d planned to cook tacos that night – as the pains increased it changed to Mr M cooking tacos, and then tacos being replaced with filled pasta which takes 4 minutes. I had visions of taking a long relaxing bath at this stage and maybe watching a film to sit it out until the contractions became more intense. The reality was quite different – I had a quick dip in the bath, wolfed down as much of the pasta as I could (my appetite was non-existent) and then frantically ran around the house throwing my tolietries, nightie, spare pair of clothes etc into a bag since although I’d packed for baby’s needs, I’d left my own packing thinking that I’d have more than enough warning to get sorted.

The cramps (I refused to fully believe they were contractions at this stage) were increasing in intensity, but they were all over the place in terms of timing. My midwife had advised me not to call the hospital until they were 4-5 minutes apart. They were varying from 7 minutes to 4 minutes, back up to 10 minutes, and then down to 5 minutes again. By around 8.30pm they were pretty intense (too intense to talk) and after having a handful at 3-4 minutes apart we called the delivery suite to tell them we would be coming in. They told us that we shouldn’t really go in until they were 2-3 minutes apart or ‘until I needed something more than paracetamol for the pain’. I sat it out for another half an hour before deciding that I was definitely in labour and I was going in.

We arrived at the hospital at 9.30pm when they put us in a delivery room and told us that a midwife would be with us soon to examine me and see if I needed to stay in. I made quick work of changing into my nightie and slippers much to Mr Ms amusement. Admittedly, the contractions has slowed down since leaving home (apparently this always happens) but I definitely was not going home. I was examined at 9.50 and told I was 4cm dilated but would not be sent home as my cervix had thinned out which meant that everything could happen quite quickly. We were told to take a walk around the hospital to try and increase the frequency of the contractions.

In the run up to labour I often wondered what contractions felt like. I definitely would compare them to an intense period cramp that lasts over a minute and is combined with the feeling you get in your lower back and pelvis when you have a real urge to go to the loo (I’m not talking about for a wee). They come in waves and the more intense they get the quicker the peak of the pain comes on (within seconds) and the longer it lasts (well over a minute). I sat on a birthing ball and took long deep breaths throughout mine which I found really helped. So, although they definitely are painful, I would describe the pain as manageable – because a) it’s not totally unfamiliar and b) it’s not continuous.childbirthbig

When the contractions increased to between 1-2minutes the midwife asked if I’d like to try gas and air which I readily accepted. I’ve never had it before and after my first breath I felt as though I’d stood up too fast after 10 tequilas. I couldn’t figure out if I liked it or not since it seemed to space me out but never quite kicked in in time for the peak of the contraction pain. It did provide me with some sense of control though and a bit of a distraction so I kept going with it. By this point I was also scared of how bad the pain might be if it stopped but I do wonder in hindsight if I could’ve done without it. It did make me quite sick and a little paranoid at times because I couldn’t make sense of what was really going on around me. Mr M however told me that I was super loving on it so he was all for it!

At midnight the midwife informed me that they examine every four hours, so the next time would be at 1.50am. I said that was fine. At 12.30am I was demanding that Mr M get her back in the room “I want an epidural!” As soon as the midwife came back in the room my waters broke. She examined me soon after and said ‘”you’re going to have your baby very soon”. I was 10cm dilated and an epidural was out of the question.

From that point on it was all a bit of a blur and everything happened quite quickly. I remember thinking that I needed to go for it and pushing as hard as I could to try and get baby out as quickly as possible. This was met by a stern word from the midwife telling me to slow down otherwise I would tear. I know at one stage after a particularly energetic and excruciating push, Mr M said to me encouragingly, “you can see baby’s head!” To which I replied, “I thought the head was out already!?” And then all of a sudden the most perfect little baby was placed on top of me and nothing else mattered in the world.

I think I’d previously thought that once baby was born that would be the end to labour in the true sense of the word, but I remember thinking at the time that I was most definitely still in labour up until the placenta was delivered – however, I was so overwhelmed by those first moments of looking at our beautiful baby girl that the pain no longer mattered. She was born at 2am on the dot, weighing 7lb 9 and is perfect in every single way.

So, labour in my experience was definitely painful, tiring, completely undignified (bare in mind that you will likely poo yourself, be sick and need stitches amongst other things) and at times very scary, but I would go through it all again 100 times over for the little miracle that awaits at the end.

My advice to any Mum to be:

  • Try and sit out early labour for as long you can at home – I found a good indication was to wait until the contractions are too painful to talk. You will know in yourself when the time is right.
  • Don’t get too hung up on creating the perfect birth plan – in the end your body will decide how the baby gets delivered
  • Take a dark coloured dressing gown and change of clothes for yourself and be prepared for them to get messy
  • Prepare meals for your freezer in advance for after the birth – I didn’t do this which was a huge faux pas. You will definitely not want to be cooking in the days after you get home from hospital.
  • I took raspberry leaf tea from week 36 which is supposed to help speed up the second (most painful) stage of labour. I obviously don’t know for sure if that’s what made mine so speedy, but I will definitely be taking it again if there’s a second time.
  • Take some of your favourite snacks and drinks along to the hospital. I took some Irn Bru which helped with the sickness

Is there really a baby in there?

Getting ready for labour

Throughout my pregnancy I’ve been known to repeatedly say things like ‘it just doesn’t feel real’, ‘I can’t really imagine it’ and ‘it’s going so quickly’ when asked about how I’m feeling. I think I presumed that the closer my due date got, the more I would feel like I was actually going to have a baby, rather than pregnancy just being a state of mind and a change in my body that I’ve had to get used to (Mr M has taken to calling me a ‘good vessel’).

But as I write this five days prior to my due date, I confess that it still ‘just doesn’t feel real’. Despite baby’s constant jabs in my ribs reminding me that she now has a mind of her own (thank you very much), despite the fact that we have a room in the house we’ve named and decorated as ‘the nursery’, and that I have something the midwives call a ‘hospital bag’ all packed and waiting for what will definitely be the most monumental day in my life, I just cannot imagine leaving the house as two people and coming back as three. All I know is that my life is going to change forever and for the next 18 years and beyond, I’ll be completely responsible for a life other than my own. I’m not sure anything or anyone can prepare you for that.

Of course I do this everyday...

Of course I do this everyday…

Friends keep asking me how I feel about labour but the truth is I don’t feel much – again I thought I would feel anxious, scared etc. so close to D-Day, but I’ve had none of that. I’ve found that everyone has their own little piece of advice to give, but the best I’ve been given is to just keep an open mind since things often don’t go to plan. I’m not very good at handling disappointment so my birth plan is that there is no plan. Other than very basic preferences (i.e. if I’m in immense pain give me whatever drugs I need to make it better) I haven’t been very prescriptive at all. As long as our little bambino is delivered safe and sound I really don’t mind how we do it – I feel like it’s very much out of my hands and she will come out as and when she wants to. I’m sure if I have a second baby I will likely want to be much more prepared, but that comes with knowing what to expect and, like everything, you need to experience it for yourself first.

I think the thought of labour doesn’t bother me as it will mean that I get to finally meet our little one. It’s strange, I keep thinking about her tiny little hands and feet but she is completely absent of any other identity in my mind – perhaps because the thought of mine and Mr M’s faces morphed into one is rather disturbing…We’re both hoping that she won’t be too overdue so that we can get her settled and enjoy her first Christmas together so I’m currently putting to the test all of the tricks in the book from drinking raspberry leaf tea, to taking lots of walks, having hot baths and bouncing on my birthing ball…Sorry? No, not that one.

Watch this space! x

10 side effects of pregnancy you need to milk

pregnancy hormones

So you feel like a beached whale, your brain’s gone to mush and you can’t get comfortable no matter what. BUT look on the bright side – there are some perks to being pregnant…

1. You can have child-like tantrums on a daily basis and people will just put it down to ‘hormones’

pregnancy side effects

What do you mean you don’t want dinner?

2. You only have three outfits to choose between each day. And one of them is your PJs

3. For once, people give your trolley right of way in the supermarket – and enough space to get a tanker through

positive pregnancy side effects

move it!

4. You no longer have to make up elaborate excuses to get out of  attending that event. You’re just too tired, too sick, not quite feeling up to it…

pregnancy side effects

5. Nobody will judge you for stuffing your face at every opportunity. Can’t choose between desserts? Order both!positive pregnancy side effects

6. The usually grumpy cashier at your local store decides to not only smile at you for the first time in five years, but engage in cheerful conversation about your due date, her children, her children’s children…

7. You don’t have to hold in your tummy after that three course meal – people just assume the food baby is real baby

good pregnancy

8. People tell you that you’re ‘looking really well’ on a daily basis – even though you feel like crap

9. You will never have to be designated driver ever again. Ever

10. And you can take delight from the green faces the morning after – for once, it’s not you with the hangover!

I'm feeling pretty darn smug today

I’m feeling pretty darn good today actually!

Have I missed any??

You Baby Me Mummy

Baby showers, how un-British of us!

Baby shower cupcake

A long-standing trend in the US, baby showers have seen a huge rise is popularity over the last few years here in the UK. Yet despite the Daily Mail (who else?) reporting this week that  mums to be are totting up to £10,000 on the celebration with professional planners, lavish venues and expensive gift lists, there’s something about the baby shower which seems rather un-British. For a start, we are utterly useless at self-celebration and I for one start to noticeably squirm whenever I’m the centre of attention in a large group.IMG_1853

So the idea of all eyes being on me whilst gracefully accepting gifts from all of my guests wasn’t instantly appealing to me. But my lovely friend Jo offered to arrange mine for me – and I’m so glad that she did! Having a baby is the biggest event to ever happen in your life, and after having now had my baby shower, I can’t actually think of a more fitting way to celebrate. Spending £10,000 to turn it into a self-indulgent reflection of the mother-to-be is not necessary, however a low-key affair with close family and friends to enjoy together is what every British mum-to-be needs in her life.

So thank you Jo, for arranging my baby shower and thanks to my lovely mum who relished the opportunity to bake ample cakes, scones and make the sandwiches.

The food

Fit for a Queen

Fit for a Queen

With the celebrations commencing at 12.30 on a Sunday afternoon, we decided on an afternoon tea theme for the food. After each enjoying a glass of pink cava (myself excluded – bah!) we tucked into mum’s feast of mini sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cake, cake and more cake.

Mum even insisted on bringing her own tea cups and saucers (I did tell her I have some more than adequate mugs but apparently they need to match for such an occasion). She also brought some posh miniature butter knives and forks – the type that only your mum has and that you only ever see on Christmas day (or at baby showers apparently).

As I’m expecting a girl, the theme for the food was of course generally pink! Mum baked the most amazing chocolate fudge cake encircled with Cadbury chocolate fingers and topped with strawberries and white chocolate buttons. Jo added to the spread with these adorable teddy cupcakes made at a local bakery – almost too cute to eat!

The decorations

Whilst mum set about turning my kitchen into the Ritz, Jo busied herself adding some sparkle to our living room with balloons, confetti, banners, and – to everyone’s glee – horrendous baby photos of us all which she hung on the walls.

I hope my baby looks cuter than I did...

I hope my baby looks cuter than I did…

As not many people knew each other this was a great way to break the ice, and also formed the basis for a couple of games we played later on. If you fancy going all out on your decorations there are loads of companies now specialising in baby shower themes and decor from bunting to table centre pieces. You might want to start with the following links for some initial inspiration:

Alternatively, you can pick up various items on Ebay and Amazon and the supermarkets also sell a great range.

The games

Knowing that I’m expecting a baby girl meant that all of the ‘guess the gender’ type games were out of the window, but there are still loads of fun games you can play. Here are some of ours:

Baby shower game ideas

Fun quizzes –   Jo had arranged some fun quizzes (celebrity babies and nursery rhymes). Needless to say the mums in the room were much more clued up on the nursery rhymes than the rest of us – I had better swot up on those!

Match the baby photo – Everybody had brought along a baby photo of themselves and we had to guess which photo belonged to which guest. This definitely created the most laughs and brought out the competitive side in us all.

Guess the size of Nat’s bump – Cut the ribbon to guess the size of the bump. Apparently I look humongous as everyone’s guess was pretty much twice my size! Fails all-round.

Jo had also brought along a chart for everyone to fill in their guesses of baby’s size and name. The chart was made out of sturdy card and guests used a cute stamp for their chosen date, so it will also serve as a lovely keepsake – I might even frame it for baby’s nursery.

Did anyone get it right?

Did anyone get it right?

Afterwards came the opening of the gifts (everybody was far too generous!) with even more tea and cake.

The day left me feeling warm and gooey inside and even more excited for baby’s arrival. It also made me realise what a fantastic support network of great friends and family I have around me and admittedly, I actually enjoyed being the centre of attention for the day!

So, thanks America for introducing this great celebration to the UK. And Brits – loosen up and indulge in some self-celebration!

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Review: The Club & Spa at The Cube, Birmingham

Birmingham Club & Spa, the Cube

To celebrate turning the big 30 this year, two of my close friends from school and I decided to treat each other to a spa day, rather than buying presents. With my due date looming ever closer, Sal and Paula were lovely enough to make the trips from Manchester and Nottingham to come see me in brilliant Brum.

The Cube, Birmingham

The Cube, Birmingham

We decided on the Club & Spa at The Cube. I haven’t had a pamper since being pregnant (and never had too many before that!), so I was really looking forward to it and spending some rare quality time with the girls.

I chose the Mother to Be Day Spa Package for £115 which included:

  • Full access to the spa facilities
  • Light lunch
  • Mother to Be Full Body Massage
  • Robe, towels and slippers for the day

The spa is really easy to get to, just off the A38 with convenient parking (I parked at the Mailbox which is just next to the Cube) so makes a great place to meet.

We arrived at 10am and were given a tour of the facilities which include a fully equipped gym, a champagne nail bar, canal side lounge (for lunch), a vitality pool (with saunas and steam room) treatment rooms and a relaxation area.

On arrival you’re provided with the lunch menu options to choose from which has something for every appetite – from fish finger sandwiches, baked potatoes and pepperoni pizza, to chicken caesar salad and deli sandwiches. The deserts are even more tempting with options including New York vanilla cheesecake, maple syrup pancakes and hot chocolate pudding. As I’m on a health kick I of course opted for the healthier choices of pepperoni pizza and maple syrup pancakes…

After choosing our lunch options and touring the facilities it was time for my Mother to Be Full Body Massage. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, since every other massage I’ve ever had has involved me lying on my front! If I’m honest I was also yet to have a great massage in the UK so I didn’t have high expectations for this one (not that I didn’t think they existed, but like I say I don’t get pampered that often and whenever I have, it’s been a little underwhelming).

IMG_1760

If only every day was this easy…

Well, I have to say that this massage definitely exceeded my expectations and was worth every penny! My therapist, Charlotte, went through everything in detail beforehand and really helped me to relax and understand how it would be beneficial. Instead of lying on my front, I lay on one side first when she massaged my back, shoulders, and legs and then turned over for the other side before shifting onto my back so that she could focus on my feet, arms, hands, neck, scalp and face. I had ample blankets and cushions all around me to keep me warm and relieve any pressure so felt super comfortable and cosy throughout. The entire 1hour and 15mins was pure bliss. I’ve been having trouble relaxing in the third trimester of my pregnancy being eternally restless and (I admit) rather irritable, so this was exactly what I needed!

After the massage, we relaxed around the vitality pool and I took the opportunity to swim some lengths whilst the girls enjoyed the saunas and steam room.

Relaxation area - avoid sitting down in these when pregnant, you won't get back up!

Relaxation area – avoid sitting down in these when pregnant, you won’t get back up!

Our lunch was booked for 12.30pm, when we made our way up to the lounge area which overlooks the canal. The lounge has a relaxed and contemporary feel to it, perfect for eating lunch in your robe. As the chefs already had our order, we didn’t have to wait long at all for our food to come out. My pepperoni pizza was just what I fancied – big and filling with ample topping! I put it down to too much talking, rather than food defeat, but I actually couldn’t finish it all. Paula chose the fish finger sandwich, whilst Sal opted for the Penne pasta – both of which looked yummy and were polished off.

Lunch at The Club and Spa Birmingham the Cube

No caption necessary…

My appetite miraculously returned once the maple syrup pancakes were placed in front of me – served with fresh fruit and toffee sauce they were absolutely divine!! The girls selfishly enjoyed some Prosecco with their desserts whilst I stuck to my beloved English Breakfast tea (only four more weeks...)

After lunch we relaxed some more in the pool area before making full use of the changing facilities. The changing rooms are equipped with ample mirrors, hairdryers and hair straighteners so (if not pregnant) you could get yourself ready to hit the town straight afterwards if on a weekend break, hen do etc.

All in all, we had a fantastic day and left feeling totally relaxed and pampered 🙂 Now let’s plan the next visit!

Club-and-Spa-Entrance

Mamas & Papas nursery furniture range at Argos – what’s the catch?

IMG_1729

I think I may be turning into my mother…

Mum gets into a bit of an excited frenzy when she spots a good bargain. Perhaps it’s all part of becoming a mum, but I also got very excited this month when I discovered that Argos sell their own range of Mamas & Papas nursery furniture – at almost half the price of those in the Mamas & Papas stores.

I’d mooched around the sets in Mamas & Papas for some time, which range from £449 – £1957. I had my eye on a white one so was made up when I found a similar set online at Argos for £329.99, with a further discount at the time which made it £249.99. The set was the Teo 3-piece range including cot, dresser/changer and wardrobe.

IMG_1731

Teo wardrobe

dresser/changer and wardrobe

Teo dresser/changer

I was skeptical about the quality given the difference in price, but once it arrived (and 4 hours of flat pack hell later) we were more than satisfied with our choice and I felt pretty smug with my bargain. Granted, these sets aren’t identical to those in Mamas & Papas, but aside from a few small finishing touches, I can’t see a huge difference in the quality.

One of the main differences is that the Mamas & Papas dressers have draws which are probably more practical than the shelf/door combination on this one, but for the price I think this is a brilliant buy.