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Does baby brain exist?

What is baby brain? Is it a debilitating condition that turns your brain to mush or is it an excuse for when you’re not on par?

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I can’t deny I’ve had my share of baby brain moments. Such as when I put a whole toilet roll in with the washing the week after baby was born and when I dented my brand new car by literally driving into a parked van. There has definitely been a post-baby change to my brain where at times I wonder what has happened to my mental state of mind. I actually hope baby brain is real because it’s nice to have something to blame – I’m not actually going mad, allegedly.

The good news is that as my baby has got a bit older, my moments of baby brain-ness have reduced. This increase in mental strength has got me thinking and I’ve developed a theory on baby brain…

I don’t believe that mums’ brains are being turned to mush. I think that mums’ brains are being filled with so much more information and are being used so much more, we’re actually displacing our old knowledge. A theory I’m calling BBD – baby brain displacement.

Learning how to look after a baby takes a lot of time, concentration and (without realising it) brain capacity. Your senses are heightened and you not only need to look after yourself but need to become automatically atuned to looking after another human being. We’ve all heard of a mother’s instinct. I think that this is something that your brain actually builds and develops. In the same way that your body is tired while you’re pregnant because it’s supporting another life, your brain is bound to become fatigued when it’s learning to do the exact same thing once baby is born.

Think about how much more you do when you’re a mum:

– Even when you’re asleep your mind is on alert for baby. In the early days, even the semi-silent sound of baby wriggling and opening their mouth can be enough to stir you from slumber. If that’s not instinct, what is?

– Your day takes meticulous planning. You have a 10am music class followed by a play date. You’re up at 7am (if you’re lucky) so surely you can get out in three hours? Routine: Up, nappy, bottle, breakfast, wash, dress, nappy, desperately try to help baby fall asleep so they’ve napped and are not therefore grumpy making any outing pointless, get yourself washed, dressed, sterilise bottles, pack changing bag with nappies, spare clothes, bottles, milk, muslins, wipes, clean dummies (once hunted for), toys and books to entertain, lunch (once you’ve figured where you’ll be and will they heat it). Then another bottle, set up the pram, leave the house, return immediately for a dirty nappy requiring a full change of clothes. Leave again – this time needing to run because you’re so late…already thinking about the next feed and nap.
Think we just rolled out of bed and leisurely rocked up drinking tea and eating cake? No, this was a military operation.

– When you’re doing something seemingly simple such as walking down the street, you’re not only concentrating on the task in hand but are on high alert for any hazard and foreseeing any potential danger or accident; there’s a pot hole at five paces, dog poo at eight paces, pebbles to be picked up at 16 paces, steps to mount at 20 paces, is that the sound of a car? Will that patch of gravel trip baby over? Is baby about to make a run for it? Will not crossing the road to pet a doggie make them roll on the floor in a tantrum rage? Do I bash the car that’s parked on the pavement with the wheels of the buggy? Wait, it’s tea time in 10 minutes and we’re 15 minutes away from home! And all this while singing wheels on the bus on a continuous loop.

– Then there are the endless to-do lists which circulate in your head and the panic of when you’ll get stuff done. If baby naps for only 40 minutes, can I wash and sterilise the bottles, clean up after breakfast, boil the kettle for tea, shower, change, make the bed, do the washing, pack the car ready to go out…oh and catch up on precious sleep? Not really. No wonder the tea never gets drunk hot!

– And don’t forget you’re doing all of this while being physically tortured by sleep deprivation. Fuelled by (cold) caffeine and as much cake as you can lay your hands on, you have to perform like a super hero when you’re so tired you could sleep standing up.

So the next time you try to put yourself down by worrying about having baby brain, think about the amazing feats you perform every single day in caring for, nuturing, feeding and entertaining your baby. All this with no experience, training, guidance or sleep. If you do have a “baby brain” moment, it’s not that you’re losing your mind. That piece of information has just been justifiably displaced.

What do you think of this theory? Leave a comment below or say hello on Facebook or Twitter.

Like this blog post? Read these:
Post baby: why I changed
Things parents do they’re not proud of

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Happy Mother’s Day: How much our mums really did for us

Happy Mother's Day

When I was a child, I looked forward to Mother’s Day. Each year I would enthusiastically make my mum a card, shout at her to stay in bed while I made her (burnt) toast and wrap the garish addition to the fireplace I’d insisted I wanted to bestow on her; for some reason I had an obsession with brass and thought a pair of brass bunnies and a brass teapot would look particularly stylish in our lounge.

One year, I remember asking why there wasn’t a “Children’s Day” – after all mummies and daddies had their day. My mum’s friend laughed and replied that every day was Children’s Day. I wasn’t impressed with this answer and I didn’t understand it either. I thought it would be nice for us as children to be spoiled for the day and waited on hand and foot. I’d forgotten about comment until today and it’s made me laugh at how naive I was.

As I grew up, I appreciated what my mum did for me but it hasn’t been until becoming a mummy myself that I truly appreciate just how hard this job was. And how in fact she deserved far more than one day of celebration a year. Now I understand more than ever how much my mum went through for me, how much she loved me and how much she did for me. And it’s amazing. So thank you mum and happy Mother’s Day.

Here’s just a snapshot into what our mums – and us as mums – willingly and happily go through:

1. Pregnancy: a glowing and wonderful experience but also plagued with being kicked in the stomach, trying to get to a toilet before you vomit next, carrying up to two stones in weight all day and being so tired you cry at having to walk 20 paces and having giant feet.

2. Labour: An unpredictable and un-quantifiable period of sustained pain, knowing it can only end with one thing….

3. Childbirth: Say no more.

4. Breastfeeding: Getting the hang of having an infant chomping on your body is no mean feat.

5. Baby blues: A cocktail of hormones and emotion after birth leaves you weepy for no apparent reason when you know you should be happier than ever. Thanks nature.

6. Goodbye independence: From now on you are no longer an individual – you come with a baby. Of course you love it but you can’t help but miss a little bit of freedom – for instance, when you need to eat, visit the loo, shower…. it’s not as if you want to spoil yourself.

7. Sleep deprivation: A recognised insidious form of torture. You do cope remarkably well but at times you do feel that you’re bordering on actual insanity.

8. 24-hour service: Tending to the immediate needs of a newborn literally around the clock. And there’s no day off. You’re filled with genuine confusion for what on earth you used to do with all that free time before you had a baby. Seriously, what did I do?

9. Irrational fear: Baby has a cold / rash / ear infection / dry skin / *insert any other problem here* – WHAT DO I DO!? You have no idea what’s really wrong or how to make it better. Best visit the doctor…again! I also developed a paranoia / fear that I would drop baby on the hard kitchen floor so would cling on to her for dear life just in case!

10. Career freeze: You work hard during your twenties to build a career…then have no choice but to walk away from it for an extended period of time to have a baby. Of course it’s illegal to discriminate mums in the workplace but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen under the legal radar. Did you know that a quarter of mums report feeling discriminated against and a third say they find it “impossible” to climb the career ladder?

11. Overwhelming love: Your life changes beyond all recognition when you have a baby but with it comes a fierce, all-encompassing and fierce love that you never could have imagined. It makes you vulnerable but also gives you super-human powers as you could – and would – do literally anything for that tiny little being without them ever needing to ask.

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When to call a mum

Sometimes I look at my phone and I wonder when the last time I spoke to some of my friends. We text each other and bemoan how long it’s been since we’ve had a good old chat. Then they ask me when’s a good time to call me. The trouble is, I’m not sure I actually know the answer. When is the best time to call mums?

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Before 8am: Do not call because the day you do will be the day baby sleeps in and it will have been ruined. For everyone!

Before 10am: We can’t answer because we are trying so hard to leave the house. See that door that you can just walk through with your handbag after a quick shower and a leisurely breakfast? For us it’s like a magical portal that we are fighting to reach alive each day. We’re lucky if we make it clean, fed, without being dragged down by bags of everything we may or may not need (just in case). And we’re probably running as that extra nappy change or tantrum has waylaid us yet again.

Between 10am-12pm: You could call but we will literally have our hands full of babies, prams, food and other paraphernalia as well as running after our toddlers who want to poke, jab, grab, suck, kick at something new every three seconds. This is the perfect time to actually come and meet us. However if you expect us to be able to hold a conversation or even offer you eye contact, think again. Just bring tea and cake. But keep both out of reach so it isn’t thrown and smashed across the room. We won’t forget about it – we know it’s there watching and taunting us with its heat and deliciousness. We will down it when it’s lukewarm and practically inhale the cake as soon as physically possible.

12pm-1pm: It’s feeding time at the zoo. If you call, expect the phone to be grasped by the baby who will otherwise scream for it. Not only will you not get any sense but the phone will probably get covered in yogurt and smashed on the floor.

1pm-3pm: It’s nap time. For everyone if we’re lucky. That’s after we’ve scrubbed porridge ingrained on the kitchen floor tiles, picked up a thousand toys, washed up for the umpteenth time, run around with a vacuum. And if we’re really really lucky, maybe eating a sandwich.

3pm-4pm: Prime meeting up time. Phone calls? Not so much. We’re at the park or on the top of a rope bridge at the play centre surrounded by screaming kids. Are you sure don’t want to meet us?

4pm-5pm: Feeding time again. See above.

5pm-7pm: Time for baths, torture time (hair washing), wet babies, dressing, milk, more torture (teeth brushing) stories and bedtime. Military operation required.

7pm-9pm: We’re usually still trying to get the baby to sleep. Of course if we have plans like eating a nice dinner, catching up with friends or leaving the house, baby will have their own plans for us.

9pm: We’ve just sat down for the first time today. Tired and starving.

10pm: We’re in bed. At the latest.

11pm-5am: If we are awake at this time, it’s not out of choice. For the times when sleepless nights are a frequent occurrence, this may be the time we need you the most. Unfortunately, we may only be capable of a rant, a cry or maybe even a scream of frustration at being up all night. There’s nothing like these early hours of darkness where you feel you and your baby are the only people on the planet awake and every fibre of your being longs to be asleep.

Hmmm, I wonder why no one calls anymore!? But please don’t stop calling. All of this doesn’t mean that we don’t want to speak to you – just the opposite. And seeing that you call makes us feel that you care. Just please understand when we can’t answer….

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The mummy dating game

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I’ve been with my husband for more than a decade. I thought my dating days were behind me – and I hadn’t missed them at all. However, when I emerged from the safe cocoon of my house for the first time with my baby, I realised that I was embarking on a whole new era of dating. The mummy dating game.

I was never that great at dating. If I wasn’t slightly interested, the date would be ready to whisk me off my feet. But, if I actually remotely liked them, they’d run a mile. My problem is that I didn’t like games. If I was keen, I showed it. Seems like there’s something in that treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen mantra.

I wasn’t ready to start ‘dating’ again, but I did need some baby friends. Or at least needed to be sociable at the various mum and baby groups held in the area. So…baby as my wingman, I entered the bar playgroup. It was full of mummies all chattering away and laughing as I, the intruder, quietly assessed where was best to take my seat. But who to sit next to?

The leader: she welcomes you with open arms and a huge smile. You feel immediate relief and are smug at how speedy you’ve attracted a friend. But within two minutes, they’ve dashed off to greet the next mum. Warning, they are liable to usher you to the nearest spare seat, potentially miles away from the mummy bounty you had your eye on. And, as I quickly learned, you have to sit strategically otherwise you’ll be trapped next to your polar opposite and there’s no escape.

The know it all: want to actually speak today? You won’t with her. She’s too busy telling you about her brood of perfect children. You may be tempted to be in awe of her apparent awesomeness in raising multiple babies. But it’s just a front. She was a mess in the early days just like you are but she won’t admit it.

The cliche: akin to the popular gang at school, these guys act like they’ve known each other for years. They’ve done they hair AND makeup (bitches, when did they have time for that!?) and you can’t help but long to be their friends. Don’t bother, they may feign interest for a moment but this is their charitable act of the day. Once playgroup is over, they’ll be off for coffee and you won’t be invited.

The advice giver: From the moment you have a baby, actually, from the moment you announced your pregnancy, the advice giver has been everywhere. Sat across from you in the office, in the queue for your groceries, on the bus…EVERYwhere. Mummyhood is hard work and everyone wants to help with a bit of advice. What they don’t remember is how grit-your-teeth-and-smile-and-nod annoying it is as what worked for their baby will not work for any other baby in the world. Fact. Listening to the advice giver will just leave you feeling you’re doing everything wrong and must be a bad mum if you don’t do things their ‘right’ way. Keep your distance.

The mum who’s on a break: You’re a new mum so no doubt you’ve still got baby clutched in your arms or, at the most, laying a millimetre away from you. This mum, however, is a seasoned playgroup goer. She sits and chats, enjoying her free coffee and seems to let their tot run wild. Spotting your vulnerability, this tot will hone in on you, steal the one toy your baby has actually held in their hand for the first time ever (genius baby) and then kick a block flying to hit baby on the head.

What do you do? Can you tell them off? Can you touch their arm to move them off your baby without looking like you’re manhandling them? Can you reclaim the toy which will send them into despair and leaving you as the evil toy thief who makes children cry? This will be the moment that the mum looks over furiously.

This is unchartered ground. There are no rules here. At first, I tried to ignore it, avoiding confrontation and just tend to my baby. But the more times this has happened, I’ve grown a bit tougher. Nobody messes with my baby. So…take a quick look around, make sure the mum isn’t watching and make eye contact with another sympathetic mum (immediately implicating them as a witness) and get that toy back! Tell them firmly but fairly that kicking bricks at baby is NOT nice!Victory can be yours!

So, now you know the main characters at playgroup but where do you fit in? Keep an eye out for mums who look equally uncomfortable and quiet as you are. Dish out the stash of new baby questions – age, name, weight, any siblings, how they sleep, how they eat, probably your birth story, can either of you reach the cake tray etc. Now pay attention. You have approximately 10 minutes before one of your babies will cry. In that time, you have to make a snap decision of whether you want to see that mum again. You’ve both made it out of the house by 10am today. The chance of this happening again next week are limited. Do you like them enough to see them again? If so, it’s time for the dreaded question about a second date – maybe even on your own somewhere. Then it’s the awkward suggestion of swapping numbers. Panic over rejection sets in….But relax, most likely they’ll say yes and be relieved. It took me a while but I discovered that most other new mums were actually keen to meet up with other mums.

I mean, it is the opportunity to talk to another adult who’s going through the same experiences as you. And yes, I won’t deny that it does feel pretty awesome walking out of that bar playgroup with a phone number and a date lined up for tomorrow.

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Childbirth – secret or over share?

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In my PB (pre-baby) life, I heard my fair share of birth stories. Some from friends and family who had recently become mums but most of the tales were from near perfect strangers who were eager to share some of the most personal details of their body and birth to my naive and unsuspecting ears.

I’m particularly squeamish and listening to the beautiful natural process (aka horror) of childbirth made me very uncomfortable. My friends knew this and would give me a PG-rated version of their experience. But it was those who I didn’t know well that spared no detail. And it’s not exactly easy to tell strangers to shut the hell up.

I recall being at a work event where a female member of the group talked to us all about her blood loss over a glass of Champagne – painting a vivid picture of what the delivery room looked like. There had seemed to be no stimulus to start this story; nobody had asked to hear it, nobody was pregnant and it wasn’t even something she had just gone through – her daughter was two years old. I nervously smiled and nodded, being too British to be rude enough to walk away from the conversation. On another occasion, this time I was at least pregnant, another acquaintance spent an entire lunch graphically describing their birth – no holds barred. By the end, I was nauseous and visibly shaking. I’d tried to laugh it off, explain that I was squeamish and that maybe it was best to leave me in ignorant bliss. But they just laughed at what a big shock I was in for…and continued.

Now I’m a mum too, my eyes have been opened. Birth is such a life changing, often long and traumatic experience – physically, emotionally and mentally – that you are compelled to talk about it. You are never prepared for it. You will never be able to predict what happens. It’s like watching the most intense, 24-hour movie that you can’t switch off with no precursor as to whether it’s a rom-com, drama or horror. Oh and you’re not actually watching it, you’ve got the lead role. Afterwards, you have to purge yourself. There is a need to expel the trauma from you body and sharing the story is the only way you can make sense of it. You’re also pretty amazed that you’ve achieved something so incredible. I certainly didn’t think I was capable.

However, while there is this need to purge, I do think that it should be accompanied with an element of restraint. One thing I learned from being the recipient of birth stories in my PB life, is the danger of over sharing and respecting your audience. When family and friends visited, I only spoke about the birth if I was asked. I didn’t volunteer anything. Or at least I hope I didn’t. Just because we go through such a physically life-changing experience, doesn’t mean that the social boundaries of communication are gone; do strangers want to hear about tears, stitches, blood loss and how long we had to push?

The best purging opportunity comes when you meet other new mums. This is where the rules change; anything goes. You’ve all given birth, you’ve all had a baby thrust in your arms and been sent home expecting to know how to look after it. And you’ve all suddenly been deprived of what should be one of your basic human rights; sleep. My NCT friends know more intimate things about me than nearly everyone I know. And this was within about eight weeks of meeting them. There were even times when I went to new mums meet ups which quickly descended into a run down of everyone’s birth – something that would have sounded dreadful pre baby. But this time I didn’t feel queasy because I’d already achieved the thing I was so terrified about going through and I needed to purge too.

While you’re pregnant, you’re told that birth will be a positive, natural experience and it’s easy in the early days to feel that you’ve let your baby down if it wasn’t because you needed intervention or drugs. However, almost every one of us around the room had some form of complication and had come out the other side with happy and thriving babies. It’s reassuring to share these tales, realise that your experience was totally normally and even to find humour in the midst of a delivery room horror movie. But spare a thought for those that don’t have a baby as a common denominator with you; do they want to hear the gory details?  Maybe save it for someone who does…

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This is my baby – butt out!

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After I had my baby, I had to stay in hospital for four days.
Now I look back and think how long it was that I was stuck in a baking hot ward full of other mums and crying babies and being woken all night – not just by my own baby but the ‘helpful’ staff who had to take my blood pressure every four hours.
At the time, I was desperate to be there. I didn’t know how to take care of a baby or what I was supposed to be doing. I looked up to every midwife and nurse like an oracle – “please tell me what to do, I want to be good at this”.

The same naive yearning for advice stuck with me for the next few weeks as I struggled with breastfeeding. My midwife and a breastfeeding consultant visited me at home but I was so desperate for help that also took on a half hour trek, a train and then a bus journey just to get to a feeding drop-in session. Did I mention this was with a one week old baby and a walking ability best described as hobbling?

But I never felt fully reassured. What I couldn’t understand is that everyone was telling me different things. Different methods, different ‘facts’, different ways of doing everything from holding my baby to responding to her cries and interpreting what she wanted. What I now know is that nobody knew my baby and nobody knew the right way of doing anything for her. It was something that only I – and her daddy – could understand and would learn instinctively each hour and day that we were with her.

But that doesn’t stop people trying to impart their often conflicting advice. The ‘experts’ portray everything they say as FACT. Many were brilliant and just wanted to help me but so many others treat new mums as idiots over the simplest of things. One scoffed at me for the way I was winding my baby (the way which actually worked). Another acted shocked that I was changing a dirty nappy mid-feed (because the previous midwife told me I had to). On day three of our feeding struggles, another sighed at me when I winced in pain, shaking her head saying “it doesn’t hurt” (it DID!)

But it’s not just the ‘experts’ you need to watch out for. When you become a mum, you suddenly find that everyone is a baby expert. Relatives, friends and – worst of all – strangers on the street. All want to give you their opinion.

I remember on several occasions being told that my baby couldn’t possibly still be hungry after cluster feeding for over an hour. So, being inexperienced and lacking confidence, I listened to them and watched as my baby became more and more distressed as I desperately tried to comfort her. I ended up leaving to feed her again secretly – which is what she wanted. Being tired, hormonal and worn out in every way, I felt paranoid that I was being judged and that others thought I was doing it all wrong. And worse, that their opinion mattered more than my own.

Surprisingly, strangers – mainly grannies – would stop me on the street to coo over my tiny baby. I’m not sure how holding a baby gives strangers the right to ask personal, intrusive and quite frankly inappropriate questions on topics from if I’m breastfeeding and how I’m raising her to childbirth and my recovery. And, most helpfully, little gems like how their baby never cried and fed beautifully every four hours.

I understand that having a baby can be a bewildering experience and there’s so much that I wish I knew. I’m hoping that all the people who gave me advice did so with the best of intentions – aiming to guide me and give me tips to make my life easier. But as I’ve mentioned, every baby is different and what works for one baby won’t work for another. I also think that the older generation look back on their parenthood experiences with rose-tinted glasses and don’t remember all of the hard times or when their babies cried for hours. I don’t believe that there was a generation of babies that didn’t cry unconsolably for their parents and that breastfeeding problems are just a 21st century issue.

To be blunt, I wish I’d told all of those people to butt out. It would have given me the opportunity to learn my baby’s cues and how to respond to her much sooner and I could have put all of the energy I wasted worrying that I was doing a bad job into much more constructive things. When I speak to expectant and new mums now, I do my very best to not give any advice. To just reassure them and empathise with how hard the early days are. And that way hopefully they won’t feel that they are being judged, won’t feel paranoid and will find their confidence much quicker than I did.

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Things parents do that we’re not proud of

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As new parents, there are things that we have to do – whether out of necessity or under duress – which we’re not proud of. Things which we promise not to tell anyone because we’re worried we’ll be judged and others will think we’re a bad parent. Luckily, when you eventually have a mums’ night out with a couple of glasses (bottles) of wine, the confessions start pouring out and you realise you’re not alone.

Here are some of these confessions…

  • 1. We don’t shower. After four hours’ sleep, a shower would be lovely and refreshing. But babies don’t realise that. Sometimes they’ll sit in a chair in the bathroom while we sing and make faces. Of course this also involves a martial arts-style balancing act by standing one-legged on a soapy shower floor while the other foot is stretched out bouncing the chair constantly. This can sometimes buy us two whole minutes to wash – not that we can remember if we’ve already put shampoo in or we’re supposed to be washing it out.
    But as for changing,blow drying and make up, forget about it. And if they’re not feeling particularly patient, they’ll probably be insisting on being held as we’re trying to dress too. So if we look a wreck, just pretend we look good and buy us supplies of perfume, concealer and dry shampoo.
  • 2. We’ve picked crumbs out of our babies’ ears: Did you ever imagine that babies would want to eat ALL day!? Trapped on the sofa breastfeeding, there’s only so many consecutive hours long we can stare adoringly at our newborn without giving in to the hunger pains. Plus breastfeeding makes you ravenous. So when someone pities us enough to make us a sandwich, we eat it. At first we’re proud of our ability to multi-task, until we look down and see crumbs all over our beautiful little baby’s delicate skin. Quick, pick them off before anyone notices how gross we are.
  • 3. We catch poo. Maybe in the bath, maybe on the changing mat, maybe we’ve thrown our cupped hands under a little bare bottom as they’ve suddenly squat down on the cream carpet. The same applies for sick and snotty sneezes. We don’t enjoy it. In fact we don’t even consciously decide to do it. It’s a reflex. I’m so proud.
  • 4. We put on dirty clothes –  and pretend THAT stain literally just happened. There’s only so much washing we can do. And changing takes a lot of energy.
  • 5. We’ve had wee – or poo – on our face. We can’t explain. But it’s happened. Parenthood is a magical time.
  • 6. We eat 10 packets of hob nobs a week: Look, we’re tired, we’ve been up all night, it’s hard to make anything sensible while holding a wriggling baby and we’re drinking tea by the gallon to stay awake so it would be rude not to dunk a biscuit in it…and they taste like heaven so you can’t judge us. They are chocolate hob nobs of course, we’re not animals.
  • 7. We’ll do anything for sleep: We’ll spend a fortune on sleep books, blackout blinds, a variety of musical/projector mobiles, night lights, dummies, dummy buddies and we’ll do anything. Sing Twinkle Twinkle 2,000 times a night? Yes. Stealth crawl across the nursery floor on our belly so they can’t see us leave? Yes. Bring them into bed when they’re ill but then be too scared to sleep for fear of squashing them? Yes. Rub ourselves with our nighties from head to toe so it smells like mummy and put it in the cot? Yes. Fall asleep upright with our arms slumped in the cot? Yes.
  • 8.We clean clothes with wet wipes. And anything else for that matter.
  • 9. We suck snot. Seriously, this is a thing! We are disgusted at the prospect of this. But when baby can’t breathe (and therefore sleep) with a blocked nose, suddenly a snot sucker actually seems quite appealing.
  • 10. We’ve breastfed on the loo. Our pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be so we can’t hold it in for long anymore. We have to choose to either stop feeding our baby who has been going for hours and let them scream hysterically, or learn to feed and walk. Maybe it’s why women are able to multi-task…
  • 11. We don’t apologise for being late anymore. Because otherwise all we’d say is sorry. Even if we’re three hours late arriving for a play date, this is acceptable. It’s not as if we haven’t been trying to get out the house all day (see next point).
  • 12. It takes a minimum of two hours to leave the house. And this is if we rush. Babies are scientifically programmed to make it as difficult as possible to walk out of the front door. And it’s not easy to get out the back door either. Time to leave? Cue three consecutive dirty nappies, two changes of clothes, a rejected feed, an ‘actually I’ve changed my mind, I am hungry’ feed, a refusal to nap meaning I’m going to be really grumpy all day, an ‘actually I do want to nap but since you’re on a schedule, I’ll nap for twice as long as usual’, an aversion to getting in the buggy, having to stop every two minutes to console random crying, and all this on top of preparing feeds, preparing emergency feeds which we only need if we don’t have, packing changing bags, sterilising bottles and dummies and lugging the buggy in/out of the car. Tired yet?
  • 13. We intensely dislike THOSE mums: You know, the ones who saunter around in their skinny jeans a month after giving birth, who look refreshed and alive instead of barely functioning and disheveled, who keep talking about how their babies are already in a routine and sleeping through, whose angel babies rarely cry and look aghast (while drinking HOT tea) when yours screams in the John Lewis cafe. They make us sick. Although really we’re just jealous.
  • 14. We’ve hated our lives. This pains me more than anything to write. But every mum will have a moment where they are totally beaten by emotion, even if it’s just for half a second. Of course we are totally in love with our wonderful babies and wouldn’t change it for the world. But we’ve just been through hours – or days – of labour and that’s before actually giving birth. Then we’re sent home with a new person to look after and, even though every fibre in your body is desperate for sleep, we are screamed at every time we start to close our eyes. We worry we’re never going to sleep again. And all of this is on top of any complications we might have had during delivery, our physical and emotional state afterwards, learning to breastfeed (which is hard), or any illness or struggles the baby may have on top of a crazed concoction of hormones racing around our bodies. Did I also mention the lack of sleep? So there may be just that second where we are overcome by how difficult everything is and we just want our baby to stop crying, to sleep or to eat. Then if we do think it, we thrust immeasurable guilt and shame upon ourselves for even allowing that thought to cross our minds because we know how blessed we really are. But it’s okay, it’s only natural. Every mum has done it and the guilt just proves how much we don’t mean it. It’s only hard because we’re trying so hard to do a great job – and we are.