Thursday 27 December 2012

Ebony's First Christmas

This was Ebony's first Christmas, she's 11 months old. Too young to understand about Santa Claus, too young to know the nativity story, too young in fact to understand why we have brought the outside into our living room and adorned it with bells and lights.

She didn’t go to bed excited on Christmas Eve, and she didn’t wake up in a flurry of amazement at Santa's work tomorrow morning (how does he do it?!).

I thought she would be too young to open presents, but I was wrong. After spending weeks unsuccessfully clawing at and dragging around wrapped presents from under the tree, by the day itself she had got the hang of unwrapping. Good thing too, because there were plenty of presents to be opened.

She is too young to understand Christmas, but she did understand that it was an exciting day. She woke up in a good mood and stayed that way until she (finally) went to bed that night (after three hours of failed bedtimes). I think she could tell that we were in a particularly good mood and so she was happy too.

This year was a practice run. Our chance to iron out any kinks in, what will soon be, our family's Christmas traditions. I want to get Christmas right. I always loved Christmas as a child. The decorations, the celebrations and the build up; it was all just so magical. I'm not religious, Christmas isn't about Jesus for me. It's about the magic, the togetherness and the traditions.

My Mum always got us new pyjamas for Christmas Eve. They'd be waiting for us, neatly folded on the top stair, when we got out of our bath. I loved this tradition, especially the year we got matching glow in the dark Aladdin pyjamas, we looked so cool. I'm carrying this tradition on for Ebony, so she got some brand new pyjamas (which had to be folded at the knee and elbow because I bought them in the next size up due to my constant fear that she is about to have a growth spurt and become a full grown adult). And, because I need to add to the tradition in order to claim it as my own, I got her a book. I found a brand new copy of Dr Seuss's Oh the places you'll go for 25p in the local charity shop. The plan was to read it to her before bed on Christmas Eve, but poor Ebony was so exhausted she was fast asleep by the time I said “It’s opener there, in the wide open air”.

We invented our own tradition too; sushi on Christmas Eve. I’ll admit, it’s not a particularly festive tradition. But my husband makes really good sushi, and he very rarely makes it, so this way it’s an official tradition and he has to make it at least once a year. Plus it meant that Ebony got to have her first taste of sushi which she seemed to enjoy.

Ebony opened her presents throughout the day, and spent a lot of time exploring each new toy. We didn’t spend a lot this Christmas, I’ve been picking up presents for her from charity shops over the past couple of months so all of her presents were second hand. There didn’t seem much point buying things full price in shops when I could get like-new second hand toys for a fraction of the price. I managed to get a selection of wooden toys that look as though they’ve never been played with for £3 and brand new they would have cost over £40. I’m quite proud of my thrifty Christmas, and Ebony loves each and every toy. Especially the noisy ones.

Ebony was treated to lots of lovely presents from friends and family too. She received quite a few traditional wooden toys which I love, mostly because they are quiet, and lots of instruments which she loves, mostly because they are not quiet.

Her main present this year was a rocking horse her Papa made for her. She keeps crawling over to it and saying “Please can you put me on the rocking horse?” (which she communicates by way of grunts and pointing) and then insists on being rocked for ages. When I was little, my Dad made a rocking horse for me and my sister. We loved him (the horse, not our Dad. Although we loved him too, obviously. But that was nothing to do with the horse, Santa brought us the rocking horse) and I’m really glad Ebony has one of her very own. I love handmade presents, I think it’s really special to know that someone spent time lovingly creating something for you. Ebony’s horse, who is as yet unnamed, is made out of the offcuts of wood that my Dad used to make my wendy house when I was little too, just in case it wasn’t already special enough.

Ebony really enjoyed her Christmas dinner too, even eating some of the vegan haggis I made, which was a relief because she hasn’t been eating great recently. I didn’t manage to try out any nut roast or haggis recipes in the run up to Christmas, so we just used a haggis recipe from the internet. It was nice, but I don’t think it’s special enough to be our annual Christmas dinner so I think I’ll try something new for next year.

In the run up to Christmas, I read an article saying that the average family has their first Christmas argument by 10:13am, and I wondered how long it would take us. I’m pleased to report that not only did we not argue once, but it was a stress-free and very enjoyable day. Everything went really well and Ebony seemed to have a really good day.

I can’t wait till next year.
I hope you all had a good Christmas too.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

A Good Night's Sleep

Are you getting enough? Are you getting any? Do you miss it? Do you want more? Would you give almost anything for it to last just five minutes longer?
If reading that aroused you, congratulations, you are childless and have a one track mind. And I'm not talking to you.

Sunday 18 November 2012

My One Track Mind

I don’t know if this is true of all parents, but since having Ebony I have developed a one track mind. All information processed by my poor exhausted brain travels along the but what about the children track. It’s as though my pre-Ebony brain has withered and died.

Monday 12 November 2012

Homemade Christmas Stockings

I spent Saturday having some quality time with my* sewing machine. Laurie enjoyed some one to one bonding time with Ebony who is both teething and full of a cold. I think I picked the right weekend for my time off. Not that you get much time off when the teething, snotty baby requires frequent feeding and simply wants to check you're still alive. But, I got some time to myself for a change which was a real luxury.

I spent the day making a quilted Christmas stocking for Ebony, and, even though the stitching is far from straight and the corners don't match up, I'm really proud of it.
Ebony's is the stocking with the E on it (obviously) and the other one belongs to Laurie. I originally made that one for Ebony a few months ago but wanted to try a second attempt to see if I could improve it.
Ebony's stocking
Me and my sister have special homemade stockings that my Mum made for us, and I wanted Ebony to have her own stocking too. The significant difference is that the ones my Mum made are so good they look shop bought (in fact I only recently discovered they weren't) whereas poor Ebony's looks very... Homemade.
The stockings are far from perfect, but I really enjoyed doing them. And I'm sure I will enjoy darning them (to compensate for my shoddy stitching) every Christmas Eve until the end of time. It will be like a family tradition. But a shit one that involves lots of swearing at a sewing machine.
* The sewing machine actually belongs to my Mum, but until she demands it back, I shall, like any adoptive mother, treat it as my own.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

My Little Ebony

On Friday, my baby will be ten months old. I think I have spent most of that time exclaiming about how quickly time is passing, but it’s true. One minute you are holding your baby for the first time, and, what seems like just moments later, you are looking at them as they stand unaided for the first time. 

Thursday 1 November 2012

No More Pub Thursdays

As I type this, Ebony is asleep in her cot. It’s almost impossible for me to find the time to write these days. It seems that I am constantly busy these days. Even if I’m in the house, I’m looking after an adventurous mobile baby so I don’t have a minute to myself. 

Sunday 21 October 2012

Feeling Like Myself Again

Back in the days when Ebony was nothing more than a bump under my t-shirt, I read a Best Friend’s Guide to pregnancy. The author stated that no matter whether you breast-fed, bottle-fed, went to twenty zumba classes a week, or never left the sofa, it would take nine whole months for your body to shrink back down after the birth.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

For Fox Sake

Foxes carry out vital work, and yet are rather under appreciated in modern society. It seems foxes are too humble, or perhaps lack the opposable thumbs necessary, to blow their own horns, so I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank foxes.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Facilitating Ebony's Love of Danger

I haven’t had much time to write lately. Or to read, or to pluck my eyebrows, or to sit down and just think. Ebony has mastered crawling, so as soon as her chubby little fists hit the ground, she’s off. I spend most of my day picking her up and putting her back somewhere safe.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Is She A Good Baby?

Life as a parent can be very repetitive. There are always nappies to change, meals to prepare, and clothes to wash. It’s never ending. By the time Ebony is washed and dressed after a messy breakfast, it’s lunchtime and we have to do it all over again. As soon as she is dressed head to toe in a matching outfit, she will cover herself in mud/wee/strawberry/all of the above and I’ll have to quickly change her so as not to be late and she’ll end up in some awful mismatching outfit that she grew out of months ago. 

Tuesday 4 September 2012


All babies are different. No two babies are ever the same, even identical twins are not actually exactly the same. Babies, like adults, come in all shapes and sizes. Babies develop at their own rates. Some babies will weigh less than their peers; this isn’t necessarily anything to worry about. Some babies will outgrow their clothes quickly, this doesn’t mean they are going to grow into giants. Some babies will walk at seven months, others might not say their first word until they are two years old.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Why I Loved My Sleepy Wrap

When I was pregnant with Ebony, I spent a lot of time researching prams. I spent an afternoon in Mothercare making Laurie push prams round to see which one was best. I also spent a lot of time imagining myself pushing a pram. I didn’t even consider babywearing until the very end of my pregnancy.

Thursday 30 August 2012


Over the past month, Ebony has been on a whirlwind tour of developmental milestones. She has cut her first teeth (two so far, but I think another is on the way), she has learnt how to sit up and, more importantly, how to safely fall down. About a month ago, I sat her on a chair in a cafe and I turned away for a moment, when I looked back she had stood up using the arm of the chair. Since then standing up is her new favourite activity. She will crawl towards sofas, tables, bins, potties and human legs in a desperate attempt to pull herself up to standing.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Feminist Postcards

When I was growing up, my bedroom walls were adorned with crap. I stuck pretty much everything up there. My walls looked a bit like the office wall of a TV detective, except that instead of maps and murder suspects, mine were decorated with posters of Hanson (yes, Hanson. Zac specifically. Yes, the young one. I was young too. Shut up.), photos and postcards.

Monday 13 August 2012

Hands Off

I don’t know when the last time a stranger tried to touch me was. Maybe at Leeds Festival circa 2004, and it was one of those absolute gimps holding a sign offeringFree Hugs. I hate those people. If you ever did that, I hate you. Even if it was in the past and you’re now a totally different person, I still hate you. I can’t forgive that kind of space invasion and stranger touching, it’s not ok.

Monday 6 August 2012

Baby Led Cleaning

If I want to have a bath, I have to pick bits of tomato, strawberry and rice out of the tub first. The main reason we bought this house was because the bathroom was so nice (no, we didn’t ever get round to reading House Buying for Dummies, thanks for asking). I didn’t envisage ever picking soft fruit remnants out of the bath tub, hardly living the dream is it?

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Dolly Dearest

Sorry for the lack of blogs. I don’t have time to write posts at the moment. I don’t have time to have a bath, or tidy Ebony’s bedroom, or pluck my eyebrows.
It’s not that I don’t have time because I’m too busy, it’s simply that Ebony won’t let me fill my time with me things. My time is now filled for me.
One thing I’ve noticed since becoming a parent is that nothing ever stays the same. As soon as I get used to a new skill, or a new routine, things have moved on and I’m left behind confused and tired.

Staying At Home

Laurie took a week off work recently, so I was lucky enough to have my parenting workload reduced. It was nice having someone to share the nappy changes, and the washing, and the entertaining with. I even got to drink cups of hot tea (as opposed to cold tea), shower alone (instead of having my usual audience) and straighten my hair (rather than being actually terrified of looking in a mirror).

Monday 23 July 2012

Whose Breasts Are These?

I’m not going to name them, in case they’re believers in ‘all publicity is good publicity’, but there has been a bit of controversy on Twitter this week. As usual.
You see, there’s this new manufacturer of baby bottles, and they’ve kind of annoyed some Mums. Especially the feminist ones.
Now, I don’t actually know what the background to the story is, but I imagine it went a little something like this:

Monday 9 July 2012

It's a Pink Rabbit

Ebony is six months old today. 183 days ago I was a fat pregnant woman with a bad attitude. Now I am a fat woman with a baby with a bad attitude. That is if you consider intensely staring at strangers to be a bad attitude anyway (Ebony that is, not me when I was pregnant).

Friday 6 July 2012

Cutting The Cord

Ebony will be six months old in a few days. Six months, I really don’t know how it can possibly have been so long. Everything still feels so new and special.
When I first looked down at Ebony in my arms, she was so small and new. Her eyes were fixed on mine as she took everything in, it felt amazing. One day you’re pregnant and you can’t imagine the kicking bump looking like anything even resembling a baby, and the next day you’re holding your baby in your arms and she’s crying because she needs you. It’s a intense change, and everything happens so quickly you just adapt. Your life completely changes straight away.

Sunday 1 July 2012

The Kitchen Cupboard

Having Ebony has totally changed the way I see pretty much everything in life. Now I have to consider things not only from my point of view, but also from Ebony’s. What she sees, hears and experiences now will shape her future behaviours. Sitting in the sling she can see what I see, she can watch me interact with strangers, she can hear my conversations with friends and she can see how I live my life.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Why I'm Not Committing Child Abuse

So, Tom Parker Bowles has peed me off this morning. Who? Exactly. Apparently he’s Camilla’s son. Camilla is the wealthy Royal who was poked with a stick during the student protests in 2010.
I’ll pause for a moment so you can finish laughing at that memory.
You need another few seconds to quickly Google the paprazzi photo of her looking surprised while being jabbed with the stick? No problem, go for it.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Breastfeeding: Beyond Good

This is my final post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. I’ve enjoyed taking part in this campaign, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. This week we have to write about ‘breastfeeding beyond’.
I don’t really know what to say for this one. I would like to be knowledgeable and write about my experiences of weaning, or teething, or extended breastfeeding. But Ebony isn’t even six months old yet so unfortunately I don’t know anything about this.

Friday 22 June 2012

Vagina Vagina Vagina

Vaginas have been in the news a lot recently. The coverage hasn’t been about female genital mutilation, or about rape, or even about sexuality. No, the press has been talking about the word. Vagina. Apparently this is one news worthy word.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

The Breast Support A Girl Can Get

This post is part of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. The theme this week is support, so I thought I’d share my experiences.
Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s a tough cookie to crack. The baby doesn’t know how to latch on, you don’t know what you’re doing, and it can be a really stressful time. If you don’t ask for help, you’re probably going to struggle. 

Thursday 14 June 2012

Watch Out World

I thought I should send out a formal warning to prepare you all for what is about to happen. It’s been building up for a while. The tiny piece of womb debris I birthed is now mobile.
She’s been putting all her efforts into becoming mobile for the past few months. First she learned how to shuffle, and boy did she love to shuffle. But she could only really rotate 90 degrees so she soon realised it wasn’t a particularly useful skill, unless you count shuffling off the changing mat and pissing on the floor skilful? Incidentally I do, so I was most proud the first time she did this. But by the fifth time it was wearing thin.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Mum to Mum Over Sharing

This post is part of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness of breastfeeding and provide and online platform for people to share their experiences, in order to allow new mums to make an informed decision about how to feed their babies.
The theme this week is Mum-to-Mum sharing. I was going to write a list of tips for breastfeeding in public, but I figured there will be lots of those posts so instead I’m going to do a post of Mum-to-Mum over sharing. Here are my top 5 most embarrassing breastfeeding moments:
1. The sweaty flasher
When Ebony was about six weeks old, I started taking her for long walks in the hope of burning some calories. One day we walked along the canal to the next village. This was the first time I’d been on the canal, so I hadn’t realised how unsuitable it was for prams. It was a hot day and I was pushing with all my might to get the pram through mud, across tree roots and up steep hills. By the time I reached my destination I was sweating cobs. I took Ebony into co-op to change her nappy, cue the screaming. She was hungry, so I sat down in the cafe to feed her. She was hungry and hot and cranky, so she continued to scream. And, because I had a screaming baby, everybody was staring at me. I tried waiting for things to calm down but Ebony would not stop screaming, the elderly would not stop staring, my pits would not stop sweating and Ebony wouldn’t latch on because she was agitated. In the end I had to give up on feeding discretely and just whip my whole boob out to get her to latch on. One of the old ladies at the next table looked particularly surprised but at least it stopped people staring.
2. The cover up fail:
The first time I breastfed in public I used a scarf to cover myself so that I would feel less self conscious. I was in a cafe in a small Northern town, what did I learn from this experience? Scarves with holes in don’t actually cover anything. Especially if the holes are nipple sized.
3. The one I hope won’t put you off breastfeeding:
I was in my overtly breastfeeding-friendly doctor's surgery, discretely feeding my daughter, when a man said: "Can I have a drink too?" This is horrific, rather than embarrassing. But I wanted to share it anyway - although I must point out this is the only time anything so awful has happened so don’t let it put you off! Full story here.
4. The awkward moment:
This one isn’t strictly a breastfeeding moment, but it is relevant. One of the leaders at my local baby group seemed particularly supportive of breastfeeding mothers. One day, while she was commenting on how well my daughter was developing she said, in a baby voice: “Is it because you love your Mummy’s milk? Is it tasty, that lovely Mummy milk?” Unsurprisingly Ebony didn’t answer her, neither did I. An awkward silence ensued.
5. Upstaging the bride:
My good friend recently got married in Edinburgh. I had been looking forward to the wedding for ages, and was really excited about seeing her and her loved one exchange their vows. Unfortunately Ebony was less enthusiastic. She was hungry and fussy. I had a moral panic, is it ok to breastfeed in a church?? Surely Jesus was breastfed, was he? I don’t know. It’s natural though so surely if you believe in God, God created breastfeeding and therefore it’s ok... is it? In the end I decided I’d have to feed her. I was sat at the back so I don’t think anyone noticed, and all was going well until the music started. Everyone stood up, including me with babe on breast, and as the bride walked in Ebony pulled off and started to scream. So not only did she wail as the bride walked down the aisle, she also left me exposed about a metre away from the bride as she walked into the church. Thanks for that Ebony. I ended up listening to the service from some steps at the back of the church, secretly breastfeeding and hoping that, if there is a God, he didn’t think this totally inappropriate.
LogoIn summary, breastfeeding can lead to many an embarrassed moment, but it’s definitely worth it.
For advice on how to avoid embarrassing breastfeeding moments, check out Tea with FelicityPlus 2.4Ponderings of a DoulaLife happens so smile and Mummy is a gadget geek.
To be in with the chance of winning over £500 of breastfeeding goodies, all you need to do is comment on this blog! So please leave a comment below and you'll be entered into a raffle as part of the Scavenger Hunt's grand competition.

Monday 11 June 2012

Never Did Me Any Harm

You know how when people say “I’m not racist but...” and you immediately know they are a card carrying member of the BNP? Well, “Never did me any harm” is the parenting equivalent of that.
No-one ever says they’re not racist, unless they’re really bloody racist. And they never prefix a sentence with that phrase unless the rest of the sentence could have been taken straight out of Mein Kampf. If you’re not racist, you basically never need to say it. People can tell. If you are racist, saying you’re not doesn’t convince anyone, especially when you’re carrying a copy of the Daily Mail.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

The Benefit of Breastfeeding

This post is part of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness of breastfeeding and provide an online platform for people to share their experiences. For the first week of June, we have been asked to write about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Friday 1 June 2012

Raising A Vegan Baby

My husband and I have been vegan for almost five years. It’s not really something that requires much thought after that long; it’s just become part of everyday life. There are some foods we choose not to eat, some products we choose not to buy, and some activities we choose not to engage in (like dogfighting or hunting) and it’s as simple as that.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Avocados & Other Grumbles

I am often surprised by how little people in a position of authority actually know. It’s quite scary when you hear bad advice being given out. Health Visitors, I have found, are particularly fond of distributing bad advice.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Recipe: Vegan Cherry Cake Cupcakes

This will make about 12 muffin-sized cupcakes, or 24 smaller cupcakes. This recipe is based on Delia Smith's cherry cake recipe which can be found here. I've simply veganised it and used it for cupcakes instead. 

Tuesday 22 May 2012

An Overprotective Mother & Proud

I’m not ashamed to say that I am an overprotective Mum. In fact, no, you probably think I am an overprotective Mum. I think I’m just a Mum, and that being overprotective is listed under Essential in the job description.
I mean, isn’t that the whole point of being a Mum? To protect your offspring? So in that case, I’m just doing my job. She hasn’t been eaten by wolves yet, so I think I am doing ok by cavewoman standards. 

Thursday 17 May 2012

Baby Snot: Bang on Trend

When I was pregnant, I often tried to imagine life with a baby. Each time the same image would appear in my mind; I could see myself, lying on the sofa, with a baby sleeping peacefully on my chest. I have my hand on the baby’s back, and we are breathing in tune with each other. That was all I could ever imagine. I couldn’t imagine being out with the baby, or changing nappies, or playing with the baby. All I could imagine was a tiny baby asleep in my arms. Of course in this vision, my hair was sleek and shiny, I had make up on, and a calm knowing smile. I was back to my pre-pregnancy self, and life was good. 

Sunday 13 May 2012

A Wolf In The Wardrobe

For the past week or so, Ebony has been waking herself up by crying out. It lasts only a few seconds and then she falls straight back to sleep. It doesn’t happen every night, but when it does it can happen a few times, usually in the first couple of hours after going to bed. She sleeps in a moses basket (which she is very almost too long for now) right next to my bed, so all I have to do is peek over the side of the mattress and I can see whether she is ok.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Is My Marriage Pointless?

An altered relationship is one of the side effects of having a baby. TV Parents are not depicted as being forever entwined together with a physical lust and all-encompassing love. Parents are parents, pure and simple. And anything else is a side accompaniment to the main dish of parenthood. Whatever your interests, job or personality traits prior to being a parent these are no longer top of the bill. The first question everyone will ask is how the baby is, your own well being added as an afterthought, but there is no doubt that it is the baby who reigns in the relationship.

Saturday 5 May 2012

A Letter To Thank My Midwife

Today is International Day of the Midwife and there’s a very important petition I’d like you to sign at the bottom of this post. But first, I wanted to share this letter I sent to the Head of Midwifery at Stockport NHS shortly after the birth of my daughter.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Voting Day: BiNPoo

I’ve just been to vote. In all honestly, I really didn’t want to. The polling station is literally a two minute walk from my house, but even that seemed like too far to go for such a seemingly pointless task.
I’ve spent most of the day debating in my head whether I would make it to the polling station today. Would I forget? That would be good, then I wouldn’t have to get the sling on, get Ebony in it, find my bag, keys etc and go out into the elements. Plus it’s pointless anyway, right?

Saturday 28 April 2012

Wombs & Women: Marking 45 Years of Freedom

The women haters are out in force today. Out on the streets, holding crappy little placards, and campaigning for women to lose control of their own bodies. For today, the anti-women movement is out to show their disgust that women have had control over their wombs for 45 years.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Things I Wish I'd Known

Life changes drastically when you have your first baby. In those first few weeks there’s not really much time or energy for thought processes so all the changes are made quickly and accepted. I was thinking today about how much life has changed since Ebony arrived, and all the things I do and see differently now. 

Monday 23 April 2012

Make The Pain Stop Mummy

Words I would normally use to describe Ebony include smiley, happy, content, easy going and an absolute joy to be around.
Words I would use to describe Ebony with gum pain include the devil, screechy, pouty, angry, hateful and “I don’t know who she belongs to, I’ve never seen her before, Officer.”

Saturday 21 April 2012

Things I Do Not Know

I’m sat downstairs, it’s cold. I’m tired, but Ebony is asleep next to me and I don’t want to move her in case I wake her. She will do that pouty face that I love, but that quickly turns into redness and tears.

Monday 16 April 2012

How To Be a Woman

I’ve just finished reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a WomanIf you haven’t read it, please do. It is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.
N.B. I should explain that the only other books I’ve read in the past year have been pregnancy books, and finding out you are potentially going to poo in front of a room of strangers is not that funny. Oh, and also I read To Kill a Mockingbird, which is also definitely not a comedy.

Monday 9 April 2012

Time Flies

Ebony is three months old today. Three months.
Remember when three months seemed like forever? Three months could crawl by at a painfully slow pace. Like in Year 8, when I was waiting for the summer holidays to begin, it seemed like they would never come. Dull lesson after dull lesson stretched out like an eternity as I awaited my freedom. Or in Year 10, when me and my first boyfriend celebrated our ‘three month anniversary’, it felt like such an achievement, to be in such a long term relationship. The three month summer at university felt too long, especially the one I spent working at Gala Bingo. What a horrible place, and what horrible customers. Day after day of serving cheap pints to impoverished alcoholics, what a summer. I couldn’t wait for those three months to end so I could get back to student life. 

Friday 6 April 2012

Sleep, or lack thereof

I am tired today, so tired in fact that it is 5pm and I have only just got downstairs. In fairness, I have been awake for a while, it’s just that I have spent the time wisely. Under a duvet, cuddling Ebony. Now I am bathed, dressed (in pyjamas admittedly) and have just finished breakfast. Laurie is sat next to me, also in pyjamas. Yes, we are one of those families where the Dad wears pyjamas, I’m sorry, but it’s the lesser of two evils (the other evil is not nudity as the foul-minded amongst you will have assumed, it is his night gown. There I’ve said it, my husband owns - no not owns, loves - a night gown. Like Wee Willy Winky). Clear that thought from your mind because it’s not relevant to this post. We’re all sat here in pyjamas at 5:30pm and this has been planned for days, because we’re all exhausted.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Why I won’t take my daughter to the zoo

Zoo Awareness Weekend starts on Friday, so I thought I’d write a post about why I won’t take Ebony to the zoo. I’m sure this might seem rather extremist to some of you but please, hear me out.
As my good friend Jo will tell you, trying to find nursery items that promote a respectful attitude towards animals is near impossible. All of the animal themed designs feature captive animals. It’s all farms, circuses and zoos. Circuses I find particularly odd because most parents nowadays wouldn’t even consider taking their child to see wild animals perform demeaning tricks, so why would they still choose to adorn the nursery with images of tigers on podiums and elephants in cages?

Monday 2 April 2012

20 Reasons Why I Hate David Cameron

So, I was checking my blog analytics the other day and I discovered that five people (ok, that’s not loads, but still) have found my blog by searching for “reasons to hate David Cameron”. Obviously I felt very proud, because I do have quite a dislike for the man. And I am honoured to be high enough on the Google list that people actually click on my blog. But also, I felt sad that these people had been led to my blog only to discover one measly post on the subject. So I thought I should probably write another, after all, there are so many reasons.

Thursday 29 March 2012

If I Wanted Your Opinion...

Since becoming a mother, I’ve noticed that a lot of people have opinions about parenting. Not just how they parent, but how I parent. And how everyone else parents I suppose.
I’ll be honest, I have opinions too. I’m sure every parent does, because you need to believe you are doing the right thing for your child. But I keep my opinions to myself, I would never question the way someone else raises their child because it’s none of my business. What fits in with my life may not necessarily fit into someone else’s.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

The Curse of the Homemade Gondola

It was my first ever Mother’s Day on Sunday and I had a really special day. Because Ebony is a baby, I got a proper present (chosen by Laurie) as opposed to a homemade ‘calendar’, or a box covered in glittery pasta, or whatever other crap I used to present my poor mother with each year. I’m sure when Ebony does start bringing back homemade presents from nursery I will love them a lot, think they are amazing and display them proudly in my home for visitors to admire. But until then I can honestly say I have no need for a pencil topper made from a plastic cotton reel, even if it does have googly eyes.

Sunday 18 March 2012

The First Ten Weeks of Motherhood

I have now been a Mum for nine weeks and six days - an impressive amount of time I’m sure you’ll agree. In that time I think I have done a pretty good job. I’ve fed my baby on demand whenever she has been hungry; in cafes, restaurants, car parks, during her hearing test and on a park bench. I’ve stayed awake cuddling her when she hasn’t wanted to be put down, no matter how tired I’ve been. I’ve let countless (but at an estimate I’d say definitely over one hundred) cups of tea go cold next to me because I’ve been busy looking after her. I’ve changed nappies, I’ve bathed her, I’ve sung to her (she probably wouldn’t thank me for this if she could talk, I don’t have the greatest of voices), I’ve read her stories and I’ve told her all kind of things about all kinds of things.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Are You Part of The Pro-Choice Majority?

It seems there are a lot of bored people in London at the moment. High unemployment rates, low disposable incomes and an overwhelming desire to use religion to oppress women has led to a campaign called 40 Days for Life.
The basic premise of the campaign is to bully, intimidate and guilt vulnerable women in the hope of preventing them from having abortions. Or “pray for life” as the campaign tactic is more positively called by the group. 

Saturday 10 March 2012

Why Ingrid Newkirk is not an Inspiration to this Woman

Thursday was International Women’s Day; a day to raise awareness of issues facing women across the world. For over 100 years, 8 March has been used as a campaigning opportunity for women’s groups calling for equality, and this year was no difference. My twitter feed was filled with disturbing statistics of crimes against women including rape, domestic violence, trafficking and genital mutilation.

Monday 5 March 2012

Breastfeeding: Stop Staring at Me

This morning I took my daughter for her eight week check. The waiting room at my Doctor's is adorned with signs explaining it is a breastfeeding friendly space, and there are cartoon images of breastfeeding women on the walls. This is all simply to make women feel comfortable breastfeeding, because the waiting room has no choice whether women breastfeed or not, their right to is protected by law.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Recipe: Spicy Tomato & Lentil Soup

This is a rich hearty tomato soup with a bit of a kick. You can add more or less chili flakes as you wish, I like my food to be hot so I tend to go overboard with the spice. I made this soup for the first time yesterday and was pleased with the results so thought I'd share the recipe.
Critic's review:
"It's really tasty." - my husband.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Motherhood: The Hazard Perception Test of Life

Seven weeks ago, I gave birth to my first child (you can read my birth story here), a beautiful little girl called Ebony. Since then, life has changed completely. I haven’t been away from her for more than an hour since she was born. And during that hour, while getting my hair cut, it felt like I was missing a limb. 

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Ebony's Birth Story

I wanted to write down my birth story so that I won’t forget. It’s only been two weeks and I already feel like I’m starting to forget the details. When I was pregnant, I wanted to know all about my mum’s experiences but she is a forgetful lady and so the details would change upon each telling. I want to make sure that my experience is preserved so that if my daughter ever has a baby she can feel reassured by my positive experience.

In the weeks leading up to my due date, I was obsessively reading my friend Felicity's blog about her birth story to prepare myself. I thought I’d blog my experience in case other pregnant ladies want to do obsessive research too. I had a really positive experience so I’m keen to share it to dispel the idea that childbirth is something to be feared.

Lots of my friends have asked questions about the birth and I have been too exhausted (the joys of life with a newborn!) to answer fully, but I do want to share the details. So writing it down will save me time!
And finally, I feel that I had a really positive experience of water birth and giving birth at home and I’d like to share this in case it encourages other women to make similar choices.

I knew that I wanted to have a homebirth straight away. I’m not a huge fan of hospitals, doctors or medical implements and because childbirth is a natural thing it seems strange to me that most babies are born into such an unnatural setting. My mum had her second baby at home (albeit by accident) and she found this a much nicer experience than her long stay in hospital after having me, so I suppose I’ve grown up with the idea that home births are good.

Labouring women need to feel safe and calm and in control, and for me this meant staying at home. My husband was really supportive of my decision and didn’t have any concerns about the safety of a home birth. In fact, everyone I spoke to was supportive.

If you have a home birth you have the full attention of a midwife throughout your labour, unlike in a hospital where you might be sharing your midwife with a number of other women. A second midwife will arrive at your home in time for the birth. It sounds expensive but in fact a home birth costs the NHS on average £310 less than a hospital birth.

The Royal College of Midwives is supportive of home births. Only around 2% of women opt for home births in England. I live in Stockport where this percentage is slightly higher but the midwives are always trying to encourage more women to choose home births.

Anyway, onto my birth story...

My due date was 6 January, and even though I knew only 5% of women actually give birth on their due date I was still disappointed when the day came and went. Luckily it was the weekend and so my husband was home to entertain me, otherwise I would have been crawling the walls with frustration at still being pregnant. On the Friday night I managed to get about 9 hours of continuous deep sleep - any heavily pregnant woman will tell you this is an impressive feat! I’d heard that women sometimes have a deep sleep before going into labour, as their body is conserving energy for the task ahead so I hoped this was why I'd slept so well.

However, Saturday came and went (with much bouncing on my birthing ball). I went to bed at about 1:30am on Sunday morning and immediately started having mild period-like pains. The pains were coming and going every few minutes and seemed to be quite regular. I couldn’t sleep through it so got up and went downstairs. I was very tired but didn’t feel as though I was in labour because the contractions didn’t hurt, and everyone says when you’re in labour - you’ll know.

By about 10am the next morning I was still in the same position, and so I called the triage department at Stepping Hill Hospital and explained that I was having regular contractions but that they weren’t painful. They said they’d send a midwife out to check my progress. The midwife arrived about 11am and confirmed that I was in pre-labour. This was a shock to me as I hadn’t realised you were meant to be able to feel pre-labour! The midwife said to walk, sleep, eat and ring back when my waters broke.

This was really depressing because I was already tired and labour hadn’t even started! I tried taking paracetamol and sleeping but kept waking up with each contraction so it was very distorted sleep and was making me feel worse. Me and my husband went for a few walks around the block throughout the day, and I did lots more bouncing on my ball. I also did some secret belly dancing upstairs because this is a good way of getting the baby to fully engage for labour (according to my antenatal teacher anyway). Nothing was happening and I was getting moodier and moodier, my poor husband. The contractions had been starting and stopping all day, and were varying in strength and timing, this means it’s still pre-labour.

By Sunday night I was really exhausted after not having slept since 8:30am on Saturday morning. I tried going to bed to get some sleep, but again I struggled to sleep through the contractions. I downloaded a contraction timer for my phone and started recording the length and frequency of my contractions. They were starting to feel stronger so I took some more paracetamol. My contractions were about three minutes apart and lasting 40 - 60 seconds each time. Google told me that if this continued for an hour I should ring the midwife as I was probably in labour. I was reluctant to ring the midwife too soon because it was so disheartening the last time when I found out I wasn’t in labour.

I didn’t want to wake my husband up because he would need his sleep if I was about to go into labour. So would I, but that wasn’t really working out. I ran a bath and continued to time my contractions. After an hour and a half of frequent contractions they felt a lot stronger so I shouted my husband. He then called the triage department and told them what was going on and they offered to send an on call midwife round to see what was going on.

I stayed in the bath and the midwife arrived about an hour later, just before 4am on Monday 9 January. She confirmed that I was in actual labour which was very exciting. She also said that she’d be staying with us throughout which was a great relief as she was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met. She put me at ease straight away, and was speaking very passionately about homebirths. She was also very complimentary about our bathroom.

I think I’d been in the bath for about 2 hours at this point. My plan was that when the pain became too much for me in the bath I would use a TENS machine, and then when the pain became too much for me again I would get into the birthing pool I’d hired (from Baby Love who are a really fantastic company and I would strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a birthing pool - get the inflatable heated one!). My husband asked the midwife when I should get into the birth pool and she looked at us as though we were mental and asked why I was in the bath if we had a birthing pool! It was decided that I should move into the birthing pool soon and so they both went down to finish filling it and set the temperature. I stayed in the bath breathing through the contractions.

By this point the contractions felt like really bad period pains that came in waves. At the start of each contraction I would panic slightly and then calm myself down by breathing in for the count of two, and breathing out slowly to the count of four. I repeated this breathing technique throughout the contraction and it kept me calm and distracted me from the pain.

Eventually the birthing pool was ready and so I went downstairs to get into it. The pool we hired cost £250 for 5 weeks and was worth every penny. It was an inflatable pool with a temperature control, in fact it was a hot tub and had bubbles. When I first got into the pool I sat by the bubbles with them adding pressure to my lower back (as this was where I was feeling the contractions) and it was wonderful.

Being in the birthing pool was instant pain relief because of the heat and being supported by the water. But I became very very hot, and the midwife became a bit concerned. The birthing pool was set to 38 degrees, but a quick temperature check with our medical thermometer revealed that the water was actually much hotter than that. My body temperature was 41.6 degrees so the midwife poured lots of cold water into the pool and turned down the temperature of the pool. It seems the pool heater was broken and so wasn’t showing the correct temperature, but it was quickly solved by turning it down.

The midwife turned off the lights and lit candles to light the room. Being in this dull lighting was very calming and I felt very safe and private in the room.

Everything after this point is a kind of blur. The only way I can explain it is that I went into a kind of trance, as though nature took over. I have hazy memories of the next few hours, but in a way it feels like an out of body experience.

I can remember that my husband was putting a cold flannel on the back of my neck throughout contractions and that this was one of the best feelings ever. I also remember that the midwife kept saying how great I was doing with my breathing, and that this encouraged me to focus on my breathing and try not to use pain relief for as long as possible.

The contractions were getting stronger, and although I can’t remember exactly what they felt like or how frequent they were, I remember that the pain was in my back and that after a few hours I started to feel that I’d like some gas & air but wanted to go as long as possible without. Luckily my midwife could tell that I was starting to think about pain relief and so she called for some gas & air from the hospital. The gas & air arrived about 7am and I started using it shortly after.

At some point over the next hour, two more midwives arrived. I can remember seeing one of them but I have absolutely no recollection of the other one, it’s strange how much you switch off from external going ons when you’re in labour.

My next memory is of my waters breaking, they broke about ten minutes before I reached the second stage of labour. I remember the midwife telling me not to push yet, and I remember that there was literally nothing I could do to stop myself pushing. I just had no control, my body had taken over. I was trying really hard not to push at the start of each contraction but by the end I was pushing. This pushing broke my waters and I felt a huge relief when this happened. There had been extra pressure pushing down because of the added weight of the membranes and waters.

A few minutes later I was fully dilated and ready to push. At this point the gas & air became my best friend, and my poor husband who was occasionally slow to pass the mouthpiece was at risk of becoming my worst enemy! With the start of each contraction I started breathing in the gas & air and didn’t stop until the contraction ended. The only way to describe this part of labour is pressure. It just feels like a ridiculous amount of pressure pushing down and trying to force its way out of your body. With each contraction your body forces you to push harder and deeper. I pushed as hard as I possibly could, and made an awful racket while doing so (sorry neighbours).

At some point during this second stage I heard one of my midwives tell the other that they were expecting this baby to weigh about 9lbs. Up until this point I was unaware that I was about to birth a giant. This is really not what I wanted to hear at this point and I felt quite panicked by it. But also there was nothing I could do so I just tried to push extra hard & not think about the freakishly giant baby about to break out.
My second stage lasted 29 minutes, this is really short for a first labour and I think this is because I was kept calm by my amazing midwife.

The only way to describe the feeling of crowning is... burny. Sorry for the overshare. There is really no mistaking that feeling. It feels exactly how you would imagine it would. At this point, most women become irrational and want to stop labouring. This is the body’s way of stopping you pushing and allowing your skin to stretch. I told the midwife that I was sorry but I couldn’t push it out and could she just pull it? I was informed that no, it would be better if I pushed and that I could do it. I can’t really remember what happened next, but I’m sure one of the midwives was right in front of my face encouraging me to push hard. I remember pushing as hard as I possibly could and making an almighty screech, and then all of a sudden the pressure was gone. It was 9:14am on Monday 9 January 2012.

Moments later a baby was thrust onto my chest and it was literally the biggest shock of my life. It sounds stupid but I had forgotten that I was having a baby. I had been really focused on pushing, but I’d lost sight of why. The baby in my arms was a wake up call and was quite terrifying. The baby had huge dark eyes and was intensely staring into my eyes. I just started to cry. The midwives asked what it was, and I looked down but the umbilical cord was between the baby’s legs so I couldn’t see. The midwife moved the cord and we saw that she was a little girl. I couldn’t stop crying, it was the most overwhelming intense feeling imaginable.

After nine long months of pregnancy, I was finally meeting my baby. I just sat in the pool holding her for the next twenty minutes. I really cannot explain what it feels like to hold your baby for the first time. I am terrible with babies and always feel terrified holding them, but not with Ebony. It just felt completely natural and right.

After twenty minutes, Ebony was handed to her father for a cuddle and it was time for me to deliver the placenta. This is, to me, the worst part of labour because by this point you are exhausted. I felt really tender and like I had lost control of my pushing muscles and simply wouldn’t be able to push it out. I had really wanted to have a natural third stage, but in the end I had an injection to make it happen with less effort. Because this deviated from my birth plan I had to really beg my midwives to let me have the injection, I think it’s great that they tried to give me the birth I’d wanted even when I changed my mind. But also I was exhausted and relieved when they stabbed me with the needle. I had to do a huge push and then the placenta came out, this was not pleasant at all because I was so tired.

From start to finish my labour was only 6 hours and 40 minutes, the average first labour is 12 hours so I’m really pleased that I had such a short labour! I thought the whole labour was a really positive experience and I think this is partly because I was looking forward to labour (instead of dreading it as some women do) and partly because my midwife was so amazing. I would strongly recommend a home birth to anyone, it was the best decision I made. I felt so at ease in my own home, and it’s really special that Ebony was born here and didn’t have to go into a cold and unforgiving hospital.

I really enjoyed labour, I know that sounds odd but I found it to be an amazing experience and it was inspiring to see what the body is capable of and to let nature truly take over for once.

And it was amazing to be tucked up hours later in my own bed with my perfect new family.

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