Sofia Abasolo’s Guest List: Mothering Without My Own

Sofia Abasolo’s Guest List: Mothering Without My Own

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One woman and her boy.
Sophia sent this list to me out of the blue. Which I love. It’s content really made me think. Above all  I felt full of admiration for Sophia:  what an achievement to have carved a path as a Mother without someone to show you how. Here she shed light on her experience.

You may remember Helen of ‘Without my Mum Blog’s Guest List last year: ‘Questions I Wish I Could Ask My Mum.’  I recommend taking a moment to read both these brilliant pieces.

  • The trauma of losing my mother when I was eleven means that when I love someone, I become terrified of losing them. This is a huge challenge with my son, but the silver lining is that I don’t doubt my love for him. I knew straight away.

  • I don’t worry about the every day stuff. The occasional bouts of sudden and intense fear of losing my baby mean I have no energy left to stress over little things.  If I had to summarise my parenting style, I would say it’s akin to how most mums raise their second born, except without the valid excuse of a toddler.

  • Call it a fascist commitment to winging it – but I didn’t read any baby books, and I don’t compare notes. If he’s smiling on a regular basis and his poo isn’t purple, we’re doing great.

  • I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. Okay, I’m not a saint – I don’t wake up to a crying baby and thank God I’ve lived to see another glorious morning of poo, milk and vomit (or ‘changing, feeding and burping’ as it’s euphemistically called). But every day I have a moment where I feel grateful for our routine, because for a long time after my mum died we didn’t do routines in our house. The flip side of boredom is stability, so deep down if I feel bored, I’m grateful.

  • As a mum, your instinct is to be there for your child at every cost. To cover all contingencies, to meet every need, to do whatever it takes. Cue the feeling of guilt when we realise we can’t actually do it all, and there’s a limit to what we’re capable of – even for the most controlling, most A-type, most self-sacrificing, most determined among us (and what mother isn’t all of these things when it comes to her kids?).

  • But having lost my mum when I was still a child, I learnt first-hand how resilient kids are. My son only has one mum, but if – God forbid – the unthinkable were to happen, I know he would be able to continue without me. He will, like countless other children of less than perfect parents, thrive regardless of the choices I make and the mother I turn out to be. Phew!

  • I couldn’t tell my mum when my periods started, nor when I got pregnant, nor when I had the baby, nor when I had a million and one questions and doubts and fears – I couldn’t share anything to do with womanhood with my mum, because I lost her before I embarked on the journey of going from girl to woman.

  • And yet I got through it all.

  • the cramps

  • the UTIs

  • the first times

  • the bad times

  • the laughs

  • the breakups

  • the gossip

  • the tears

  • the hormones

  • the smear tests

  • the nights out

  • the mornings after

  • the poor outfit choices

  • the great outfit choices

  • the proposal

  • the wedding planning

  • the wedding

  • the pregnancy

  • the labour

  • the mothering– I still managed to navigate womanhood without the one woman in my life who was best equipped to guide me through it. That’s something that even in my darkest hour I will always be massively, unapologetically proud about.

  • Of course, I would give anything to swap the engraved bulk of stone I had to ‘introduce’ my son for a real, flesh-and-bones, laughing, smiling, cuddly grandma.

  • I wept uncontrollably at said ‘introduction’, turning to my brother and saying ‘she couldn’t meet him,’ simultaneously feeling glad that my son was too little to understand that I was upset– remembering the two times I’d seen my own mum cry, how helpless I had felt, how upside down it felt to see my strong, rock solid mum be weak and vulnerable.

  • But as Stephen Colbert said when talking about losing his father and two brothers: ‘the thing I love the most is the thing I most wish had not happened.’

  • I think he was paraphrasing Tolkien… I dunno

  • Point is, that’s exactly how it feels to become a parent after losing a parent. It gives you strength and enormous comfort to know you survived that grief. And that strength and comfort becomes your cheerleader in times of need, your superheroic alter ego, and it really is the thing that you love the most…

  • …and the thing you most wish had not happened.

  • But it did happen. And the birth happened too. And you’re here. And so is your baby. And the husband/father. And a few other important people too. You’re all here. You’re all here. Be thankful, you’re all here.


Sage and Nellie’s Guest List: Tiny but Mighty. My 1lb Baby.

Sage and Nellie’s Guest List: Tiny but Mighty. My 1lb Baby.

Nellie at 2 weeks old. 

I was born at 32 weeks premature. Recently I asked my Mum to tell me about my birth story. I wept when I read it. Until now I hadn’t realised how terrifying those early weeks must have been.

By chance I stumbled upon @sageandnellie’s profile on Instagram and instantly loved gorgeous Nellie. Here her mama Georgia shares their story.

I couldn’t be more open to share mine and Nellies story, I could write about her all day but where an earth do I start?

With her birth because i don’t remember much of that. Perhaps all our medical complications, I know endless information on those! Or just the shear love and joy she brings me? I think this may just be a mess of feelings and thoughts on what its like to have a micro-preemie, my baby born 12 weeks early, weighing just 1lb6oz with many complications and a whole load of love, my Nellie…here goes our list.  

  • To start I will cut to the factual stuff, how it all came about and see where that takes me.
  • 14 I’m diagnosed with PKD, a lifelong kidney disease. 
  • 18 I’m diagnose with lymphoma, cancer of the blood.
  • 19 I travel the world with my partner, learn to live after cancer. 
  • 20 Im in Australia and holy shit I’m pregnant. Time to come back to England and attempt to be an adult, this baby is obviously meant to be. 
  • Pregnancy after intensive chemo was a bit of a surprise. Infertility was always something i thought id struggle with but all i could think was Im going to be a mumma, things are going to be good.
  • I’ve had my share of bad luck, what could go wrong huh? 
  • My blood pressure began to creep up, my kidneys couldn’t cope and my placenta was being affected. At 27 weeks a scan showed my baby had stopped growing, starving of oxygen and extremely malnourished. 
  • But she was still moving, heart was still beating, I was told if she did survive she may have severe brain damage. 
  • She had to live.
  • I was rushed that day to a bigger hospital four hours away, where we could have the best care before and after the birth.
  • Two days later at exactly 28 weeks Nellie was born via emergency c-section screaming and kicking. Hands the size of my nails and legs no bigger than my baby finger but SHE CRIED she wanted to be here. 
  • There is nothing worse than watching your child sick, having Nellie gave me a whole new perspective on what my own mum must have gone through with me. 
  • After three weeks I was discharged without my baby and Nellie was moved in a specialised ambulance back to a hospital closer to home. 
  • There were no parent rooms so me and my partner had a 45 minute drive to get her from home each day. Premature babies can take a turn fast, a thought that terrified me, what if we couldn’t get there in time.
  • Just to number a few things Nellie dealt with and like a champ may I add-
  • Hours old and tubes in her legs, arms, hands, through her umbilical cord, nose and mouth. A lot of tubes for a 625 gram baby. 
  • Skin so thin to hold her it could would tear
  • Numerous blood transfusion 
  • Infections
  • Apnea 
  • Two brains bleeds 
  • Ventilated 
  • Daily, sometimes hourly bloods.
  • 8 months attached to an oxygen tank 
  • Her first cuddle was at two weeks old and then just one a day for ten minutes or so until she was stronger.
  • She looked so frail and alone in her incubator. I should still have been carrying her for another 12 weeks but in my heart I knew she was strong, I knew id be taking her home.
  • My heart ached, I yearned, my milk was so ready for her, i expressed 10 times a day, 4 bouts of mastitis, it was the only thing i could really do for her.
  • We took our girl home at 3 months old, she was still on oxygen and weighed just 4lb3 but boy was she feisty. Id started to fully breastfeed around 10 weeks. 
  • We continued to have our struggles, daily nurses visits, severe reflux and still underweight but she was HOME. In my arms whenever I wanted, that I cant even explain. 
  • In short that is what Nellie went through, we came through with help from the NHS and a lot of fight. I now have a beautiful, defiant, toddler who thinks she’s 13. 
  • However one thing I still find hard to get my head round is the many emotions I felt as a mother. 

    Two wonder women.
  • I think on some level I struggle with post traumatic stress. At the time you have to be so strong, hold it all together but when the storm calms you’ve got to find normality again, come to terms with all thats happened and a lot has happened in the last few years. 
  • And then sadly I fell into a trap of jealousy and resentment. I couldn’t look at pregnant mums, at first I avoided baby groups, I guess it reminded me of what i couldn’t do, safely carry and deliver my baby. 
  • People moaning about how hard the last trimester is, telling me how lucky I am to have never experienced it. 
  • Or that women that told me i was LUCKY to have had a small baby, poor thing gave birth to a healthy 8lb boy. 
  • Oh and the one that said at least you got a good nights sleep in those first three months. Yes because getting up every hour to phone and check your baby is still alive is a good night sleep. 
  • Well yes, as you can see that bitterness is still lingering but I’m getting over it. In a way i wish i could still be that naive mum, not everyone can understand, perhaps they need a wake up call, to open their eyes. 
  • Ok, like i said I’m working on that side of it… really.
  •  I think there just needs to be more awareness, more information. A premature baby isn’t just a small baby. 
  • I am so blessed, we all are as mothers, there is always someone with a bigger struggle, we watched countless babies not make it, others with life long problems from their prematurity.
  •  Everyones struggle is real to them, who’s to judge who’s is harder. 
  • I wouldn’t be me without my story, my fight, Nellie wouldn’t be who she is today. Im grateful everyday, maybe I wouldn’t be if i hadn’t felt some pain. 
  • I may not be lucky but i am definitely blessed. 
  • Yep, that was a mess of thoughts and facts but how else can i describe our journey, it was one long, wonderful jumble. Just wish me luck for next time because I’m about to do it all over again with baby number two!  

    Look at her! No longer tiny but just as mighty.
A Tale of Two Birth Stories

A Tale of Two Birth Stories

Colossal and clueless about what was coming

Recently I was asked to write about my boys births and how they differed. Obviously my response was to write a list. What a brilliant opportunity; a chance to really reflect on two most formative experiences of my life.

**This list is a longer than usual, but I loved writing it so indulge me… **

  • I thought I prepped for my first birth. NCT classes, every episode of One Born Every Minute. What more could I need?

  • Then I went overdue. Really really overdue.

  • I wasn’t prepared for that. As someone who does things at 100 mph AND was born 7 weeks premature,  I had naively assumed that this guaranteed me a prompt labour. I was wrong.

  • At 41+6 I was booked in for an induction.

  • I had zero clues about what that involved, but didn’t care, I just REALLY wanted my baby out.

  • The morning of my induction. I went into labour (probably thanks a sweep).

  • Rung the delivery ward feeling excited. Not for long:  I must still attend my induction slot as planned.

  • What an error. Once in ‘the system’ I was stuck in no-man’s land.

  • They wouldn’t induce me because I was in labour.

  • They wouldn’t send me home (even though I was only 3 cm) because I was on an induction list.

  • I didn’t progress.

  • I walked the corridors of St Georges to the point of exhaustion.

  • I didn’t progress.

  • I cried.

  • I didn’t progress.

  • I cried some more.

  • They sent my husband home.

  • I begged to be allowed to go with him.

  • I cried.

  • I didn’t progress.

  • 24 hrs later, someone decided to give me a pessary. 

  • Things went nuts. Within 10 minutes I was having 7 contractions in 10 – grim.

  • Into the delivery room. Active, mobilised labour,  just gas and air, not fun, but I was ok (just).

  • I wasn’t very kind to my husband, but that’s by-the-by.

  • Then the decision was made that it was time to a) push b) get on my back.

  • It felt wrong, but I did what I was told.

  • The fateful hour passed. The inevitable episiotomy.

  • Then Albert Maverick Telford was here!! 

  • But I was bleeding. A lot. Cue lots of medical people doing stuff, oxygen mask. Me thinking ‘is this it?’. Terrifying.

  • Thankfully the bleeding was controlled quickly. But, in my memory what followed was one nightmare after the next:

  • Left alone in the delivery room while I had a panic attack.

  • No hug. No reassurance. No quiet word saying ‘it’s ok to feel a bit wobbly after pushing a human out of you fanny’.

  • Just a threat of being refered to the psychiatric midwife the next day.

  • Firm instruction to breastfeed NOW, even though I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open.

  • Tuts of disapproval for not managing to walk to post-delivery ward (after an epsisiotomy!).

  • My husband being kicked-out just 45 minutes after we got on the ward.

  • Having to ask someone to change my catheter and could I possible have some paracetamol for my pain?

  • Feeling alone, shocked and frankly quite abused.

  • Then finally some sleep!

  • On waking my heart exploded with love for the tiny human lying next to me. I was a Mummy! Time to step up and be the Mummy he deserved.

    In shock, but also in love.
  • A year passes.

  • A confusing life-altering 12 months of sleepless nights and rediscovering myself.

  • Then low-and-behold I am up the duff again!

  • More freaking-out.  Then a plan: THIS TIME WAS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT. 

  • I found Hollie (@theyesmummum) and her increds hypnobirthing course.

  • Got a place with the community midwives who would give me continuity of care.

  • Decided on a home-birth. 

  • Practised my relaxation techniques.

  • Talked about my fears and rationalised them.

  • Invested heavily in snacks and posh candles to burn during labour.

  • I was prepared and even a bit excited about getting this bubba out.

  • Then it happened again. 40 weeks came and went. 

  • The insanity set in. Hormones, nerves and fear =  some pretty irrational thought processes.

  • 41 weeks. I sent Hollie a mental email. Think proper breakdown. How do I get it out? What if my body doesn’t know how to go into labour naturally? Help!

  • ‘Let go of the anxiety’ she said. ‘trust your body’, she said.’ It will happen’, she said.

  • She was right. The next day I had a sweep. (Only in pregnancy are you mega pleased to have someone stick their hand up you).

  • Already 3cm dilated – woo hoo!

  • That night went to bed with a suspicion it was ‘game on’. But knew I should get some kip.

  • 3am woken by a surge. It was definitely happening. No panic, no fuss. Just a real sense of knowing what needed to be done.

  • Dispatched Bertie my sisters in Camberwell at 5.45am (Thanks Sus!).

  • Then got into the groove of labour; being naked (obvs) and eating Jaffa Cakes,  oh, and the midwife arrived.

  • A palaver with the birth pool. The fitting couldn’t connect to our tap. Funny in retrospect, fucking annoying at the time.

  • Eventually into the water (bliss). Totally focused on getting to the peak of the surge then down the other side . . . ‘breathe in calm, breathe out tension.’

  • It was hardcore. Exhausting. At the time I desperately wanted it to stop. But at no point did I feel worried or out of control.

  • The second midwife arrived. Yes!! The end couldn’t be that far off.

  • Candles, chilled music, yet more Jaffa cakes. All very lovely. Until transition…

  • Suddenly the darkness felt oppressive rather than safe.

  • Time for a change of scene; suggested the midwife. Great move.

  • The brightness and coolness of the bathroom felt like an epic new chapter.

  • No sooner had I taken a seat on the loo than an almighty surge hit. 

  • My body well and truly took control.

  • Leapt up, grabbed my husband in a strangle hold for support, and out came baby’s head.

  • Then with the next surge Woodrow Victor Telford made his entrance into the world.

  • He was born calmly and quietly with his waters intact or ‘en caul’. Swiftly followed by my placenta, which conveniently went into the toilet.

  • The relief was immense.

  • I hadn’t been induced.

  • I hadn’t used a scrap of pain relief.

  • I hadn’t bled. Just a tiny tear that healed naturally.

  • And I wasn’t pregnant anymore!! I felt like the luckiest person alive.

  • Me and my new dude headed to bed. And that’s where we stayed for the rest of the day (with Pizza Express pizza).

  • When people ask me about my labour, I say it was everything I wanted it to be.

  • A wonderful empowering experience rather than a terrifying one.

    Woooo Hooo!!
  • From there things got better and better:

  • Goodbye demon’s from Bertie’s birth.

  • Hello quick recovery.

  • Hello immediate bond.

  • Hello oxytocin that kept me high for weeks.

  • And, best of all, an ongoing belief that if I can breathe a baby out; I CAN DO ANYTHING.

  • If only I could nip back in time and give the ‘old me’, the one having a panic attack after Bertie, a hug and some words of advice:

  • “Everything is going to be ok, in fact everything is going to be better than ok. You have just started the best journey of your entire life”.

    As you can probably tell I couldn’t recommend hypnobirthing more and in particular Hollies course. Here’s her website with all the info





Mush’s Guest List: The Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Epic Mum Friend.

Mush’s Guest List: The Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Epic Mum Friend.

Great picture ,even with two small people clinging to their legs!

Katie Massie-Taylor and Sarah Hesz are the founders of ‘Mush’.  A super clever app that’s basically Tinder for Mum’s. It enables you to connect other parents in the area who have kids of the same age as you. Smart huh? No more trying to pick up a Mum pal is the playground! (phew).

Here the pair share advice on ‘The Do’s & Don’ts of Being an Epic Mum Friend.’

Mum friends are arguably the most important thing in your life when you have small children and are spending a lot of time at home. And you will come to recognize loads of mums with whom you comment on the weather/ outfits/ new toys as you pass on the street/at playgroup/ at nursery drop off/ at supermarket, but the mum friends that count are the nitty-gritty, you make my world go round type. So here’s some tips to taking your mum friendships to next level.

  • Do ask them about them, not the kids. Whilst we all care what time little Tommy got up this morning, try and squeeze in a question that gets you closer to the pre-mummy in them. Where did they travel? What was their degree? Who was their first boyfriend? The salacious stuff we all really care about (or is that just us?)

  • Don’t judge when they do something that’s text-book questionable. I genuinely can’t think of anything non-violent that would make me think less of a mum. Because we all do what we need to do (and I’m too busy handing the iPhone and sweets to my three year old to notice).

  • Do put tv on when their kid is acting up on a play date. Even if you don’t normally because your kid gets sucked in like a zombie and only returns from the TV coma after a night’s sleep and three jigsaw puzzles- recognize they need the break.

  • Do make them local. The bestie that has kids the same age but who you don’t see for months at a time aren’t actually mum friends at all; they are pre-mum friends (or just friends). Mum friends are women you spend all afternoon with regularly when with kids, and they need to be a walk away. They also need to like the same stuff as you and be on the same work/home wavelength. Sounds difficult to find but it’s not – luckily there’s an app for that.

  • Don’t expect a long reply from the message you sent them (for a few hours). And if you do get one back quickly, expect a shed load of typos.

  • Do arrive with cupcakes when she’s hungover. Doing small children on a hangover is quite simply torture, and she is going to need sugar and reassurance to overcome the exhaustion/ self hatred that she is feeling. Arrive pumped to save her day and make her feel normal.

  • Don’t mention the big bump on their kids’ forehead. Or the sick on her top, or the mismatched socks/ earrings, or the fact that she has arrived with dirty knickers stuck to the Velcro of the scooter handle (true story). She doesn’t need reminding that her life is a series of small fails (with the odd big win)

  • Do hold their needy baby when they are going to the loo. It takes friendship to another level when you take charge of their children, no matter how short a time. There are only a few mates I would ask, so fast forward that friendship and offer to have the baby to give her a break (whether for a loo trip or dinner with her bubby)

  • Do give them water & cake if they are breastfeeding and can’t move. If they could have that message plastered to their head at this stage without looking like a numpty, they would.

  • Do reassure them that just because their mum says the dummy will lead to an ASBO, it definitely won’t. Times have changed. Sucking no longer sucks.

  • Do admit that the cupcakes you made came from a box. Be honest generally. Let’s none of us pretend we have sex every night, are on top of our life admin, know our current affairs.  We are all patching together vague relationships/ knowledge in this period of our lives.

  • Don’t raise your eyebrows at her maternity bra two years after she had the baby. They are seriously comfortable, and you understand that comfort trumps sex appeal, especially on a weekday, especially when you are tackling small children. Perhaps give her a little nudge if she tries to wear it on your mums’ night out.

  •  Do let them rant about their partner.Let them take it out on you so they can try and at least be polite when he gets home, or greet them without sneering.

  • Do listen to them lengthily debate the difference between having Friday vs Wednesday as their day off. Or other mundane, would bore their non-mum friends to tears conversations, even though you’re pretty sure [whatever it is that is worrying them] makes no difference and it’ll change again soon.

  • Do take snacks to the playground and bring them out when their kid has a tantrum.My most dependable mum mate goes nowhere without a drawer of confectionary in the top of her buggy.  And I have since taken her lead (though I tend to eat them instead which is counter-productive on many levels). Can you imagine the superhero moment as you approach that half-mum-friend with her grazed knee toddler proffering a jelly snake?

  • Friends for life I recks. Oh go on then, the toddler can have one too.

Lara & Ollie’s Guest List: Infertility and IVF.

Lara & Ollie’s Guest List: Infertility and IVF.

Lesley + Anna = makers of gorgeous jewels and great writers too

Lesley and Anna are the founders of Lara & Ollie, makers of the most gorgeous teeth jewellery going (have a look here). Prior to this venture they both under went several rounds of  IVF on their journey to becoming parents.

When they offered to share a Guest List on their experience of infertility and IVF I was humbled but also overjoyed. Thats sounds awful doesn’t it?  IVF is such a hidden subject,  one that leaves couples struggling on their own and friends struggling to know what to say.  Pieces like this can really help change that. Thank you ladies for your time and honesty x

You spend your 20s trying not to get pregnant. The thought can be utterly terrifying, whether you’re in a relationship or single. You have a ‘right age’ in your head of when you’ll have your family and assume that’s when it’ll happen. So when it doesn’t go to plan – in fact the complete opposite – you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus and your ‘right’ to have a baby has been whipped from under your feet. The prospect of not having your own biological children, or in fact not having kids at all, is something you never ever considered.

So how do you cope? What the bloody hell do you do? Having both faced infertility (Anna – unexplained / Lesley – 4 failed pregnancies, followed by diagnosis of early menopause) and having both been through IVF (Anna – 3 rounds for Lara, 1 round for imminent bump / Lesley – 2 rounds and egg donation for Ollie) here’s our ‘list’ with a few things we’ve learnt and hopefully some support we want to pass on to anyone facing what we’ve faced:

Some practical thoughts:

  • Don’t panic. However old you are or whatever your situation

  • Don’t go at it alone – talk. Your partner will be feeling as disheartened as you but might just show it differently – and don’t be angry at him/her for that. Whilst it’s not their body that’s yearning, they want it just as much. And don’t forget you’re a partnership, you’re in this together and you’re gonna need each other’s strength and support on this journey – particularly when you become parents!

  • Take the bull by the horns. You feel so helpless and heartbroken every time you get your period or the stick says negative. Go to your doctor. If they don’t listen/aren’t empathetic or don’t do anything, find another

  • Chase, call, email and hound for appointments, results and answers – makes you feel like you’re doing something

  • It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by it all. There are lots of tests, lots of acronyms, lots of things that don’t make sense and are well beyond your biology GCSE. But ask questions, write a list before you go and see doctors, nurses, consultants, whomever they may be. And take notes in there – there’s often too much to take in during one appointment

  • If there is a diagnosed problem, again don’t panic. Push for appointments to talk to a specialist – are there more tests, what are your options…

  • If your results are clear it’s hard not to be disheartened – whilst you don’t want there to be anything wrong, you feel like you need a reason for not getting pregnant

  • Find out what’s offered for free on the NHS, what isn’t and how much things might cost. The minute you walk through the door of a fertility clinic you’re paying, so factor that into the decision making

  • Your gut is normally right so make sure you feel comfortable and happy with the consultants around you. If you’re not happy with the care you’re being given or the route they’re recommending ask to change. This is your health and your dream!

  • Be careful with Google – use sites that offer factual information. Whilst it’s difficult not to, we’d really advise not reading forums. However great they might be for certain things it can all be a bit too much and every person going through infertility experiences something different and you can find yourself clutching at straws from people’s stories

  • Instead, if you feel comfortable doing so, talk to a friend, or friend of a friend or a complete stranger who’s been through similar, and ideally has had a positive result and experience. You never know they may offer to help e.g. egg donation, surrogacy etc?!

  • Don’t dismiss natural routes and remedies. They’re not for everyone but if nothing else things like acupuncture, reflexology and mediation can be great for just relaxing your body and mind. You’ll find this journey so all-consuming that you’ll forget to actually look after yourself

  • If treatment fails allow yourself to fall apart – you need to grieve. But don’t give up, talk to your consultants about what happened, your options and go from there. Don’t rush into a decision and allow some healing time. You need to be both physically, mentally and emotionally strong to go into something again, both of you

  • But don’t listen. You’ll hear lots of… ‘I know someone who… tried for 2 years and then went on holiday/ relaxed/got pissed/IVF was easy/got pregnant immediately the second time’. It’s lovely that people are being supportive and trying to be positive but sometimes at a low moment that’s like a punch in the face. It’s not you. And it doesn’t help. But if you’ve not been through it you don’t know, so don’t be angry, just take a deep breath, be strong and try to move on!

  • Be mentally and emotionally prepared for the ‘so when are you going to have a baby?’ question, or ‘ooohh not drinking eh… (when you’re not even frikkin pregnant). Take a deep breath and either be bold and tell the truth or bullshit!!

  • Don’t feel guilty for being a green eyed monster every time you see a pregnant person, you’re normal. And you’ll feel immense rage when you see a young girl pregnant puffing a fag, drinking a can of cider with 3 coke swilling toddlers in tow!

  • And you’ll most certainly have the pain of hearing pregnancy/baby news from friends and family. Whilst you’ll feel like you don’t want to see or speak to them try and be happy for them. Then allow yourself to feel devastated. But don’t let the situation drive you apart and have the courage to say you love them dearly but need a bit of space. And when the day comes for you, you’ll want/ need all the help, support and love from these people so don’t drive them away

  • Don’t always assume that being away or not busy helps, work could act as a brilliant distraction

  • And when it does happen and you’re pregnant it’s bloody hard not to panic. And it’s bloody hard to ‘just relax’! Take time to celebrate but try as hard as possible to just take every day as it comes, don’t do anything silly, but don’t do anything different either!

  • Don’t give up on your dream of having a family – and that is ultimately what this is about. It will happen one way or another. It may not be as conventional or natural or romantic as some. But like childbirth, once you’re holding that precious little person in your arms, whether they’re natural, IVF, egg donor, sperm donor, adopted or whatever, your journey will be worth it. You’ll never forget it but the pain and heartache will be softened.



Things My Kids Have Taught Me

Things My Kids Have Taught Me




The greatest teachers ever.

Kids fashion website asked me to write about Things My Kids have Taught me. What a great topic. It really got me thinking….


  • I had my first kid at 30. I thought I was a grown-up and that I knew quite a lot about quite a lot of things. I was wrong. Here’s what my two have taught me:

  • To be less of a control freak. When you want kids to zig they zag and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with it.

  • Apart from trying to get them to put their coats and shoes on. For some reason that really really tests my patience.

  • That I can survive on less sleep than I thought. My eldest didn’t sleep through until he was 18 months and I stayed sane (just). My banter was shit. But I didn’t actually keel over.

  • That there’s very little in life that can’t be fixed with a baby wipe.

  • Boys love their willies from a very young age.

  • To be more efficient. Surely working Mums are the most diligent employees of all time? There’s nothing like a childcare pick up to keep your mind focused.

  • That the washing basket always wins. Try as I might I can never get the bottom of it. 

  • And if I do get to the bottom I am greeted by a myriad of odd socks, lurking there to taunt me.

  • That you’ll never grow out of fish-fingers. A culinary delight whether you are 4 or 34.

  • That going on a kids swing or roundabout can make you feel sick. I use to think I was rock n roll. Motion sickness in the playground is so lame.

  • To see the humour in everything. There are so many disastrous moments in parenting. Often they involve poo or your kids saying something mortifying in public – you’ve got to learn to laugh, otherwise you’d spend your whole time weeping! 

  • That kids are smart. Bertie’s only 3.5 but he has already made me really stop and think. We could learn a lot from a mind that hasn’t been corrupted by expectation or society.

  • That once dried Weetabix is one of the most powerful glueing agents ever invented.

  • That my pre-baby body, which I criticised because it wasn’t tight and toned enough, was actually pretty great. Janet Jackson was spot-on when she said ‘you don’t know what you got till its gone.’

  • And that the female body is amazing. IT CAN GROW A HUMAN. Still blows me away.
  • To appreciate the small things. Whether that be a rare chance to pee on your own. Or your kid telling you ‘you look beautiful Mummy.’ Both utterly precious.

  • To trust my convictions. Everyone (parents, the internet, random old people on the bus) have advice on how to parent your kid. But only you truly know what that small person needs.

  • That no two kids are the same. My boys were utterly different beings from the outset.

  • But that parents genuinely don’t have favourites.

  • That I didn’t know how easy my life was pre-kids.

  • That I didn’t know how much of the good stuff I was missing.

  • Most of all my kid taught me what unconditional love feels like. Amazing and scary. Life-affirming and the best gift you could ever hope for.

    ** A reduced version of this list originally appeared here on Alex and Alexa’s Blog. **



Let’s Ask Livvy’s Guest List: Parenting Problems Everybody Faces but Nobody Talks About

Let’s Ask Livvy’s Guest List: Parenting Problems Everybody Faces but Nobody Talks About

Ahh The Tantrum so familiar, so tricky to manage….

Polly and I met at uni where we mainly shouted excitedly at each other in grotty student clubs. These days our chats are less ‘Chambulls’ fuelled (that’s Champagne + Vodka + Redbull) but just as manic, as we discuss the madness of little people.

When Polly told me that she had set up Let’s Ask Livvy with her behavioural expert sister Livvy it sounded like a dream.

Their vision is to use Livvy’s knowledge from working with challenging children (and having kids of her own) to help all parents navigate everyday parenting issues. Tantrums, fussy eating, sibling rivilary – the sort of stuff we all face but don’t have either the energy or first clue how to solve.  Having Livvy onboard is like whole extra parent on your team. But one who know what they are doing, rather than blagging (hooray!).
Here  Let’s Ask Livvy’s list of ‘Everyday Problems Everybody Faces But Nobody Talks About’:

  • Meal-time melt downs.  Why is it the more expensive/organic the ingredients the less they are likely to eat it.  We strive to give our kids a healthy, balanced diet (when we have the energy), but they reject it, chuck it, or worst refuse to even try it and we end up eating most of it ourselves at around 5:05pm

  • Empty Threats.  “Right that’s it we’re leaving”, “There’ll be no presents from Father Christmas”, “Stop that or there’s no TV for a week”.  We pretty much know we’re never going to go through with any of it – and the kids do too….so they keep doing exactly what we were doing anyway.  It can be hard to come up with something realistic when you’re scrambling the wrong way up a plastic slide in borrowed socks trying to extract a kid wired on fruit shoots out of soft play.

  • Being Ignored.  Trying to get out of the house, into the bath, into/out of clothes should be simple but can sometimes be the most trying tasks of the day with kids.  Basic co-operation and listening doesn’t feel like an unreasonable request right?  We ask nicely, ask nicely again, we try not to shout.  Inside we’re screaming.

  • Mediating madness.  The other day I found myself calling from the kitchen “No punches to the face please boys”.   Maybe one for the mothers with sons out there but we’ve probably all tried to impose some kind of fighting rules/etiquette which they largely ignore and instead continue bundling/wrestling and generally trashing the house.  I see flashes of the Brownlee brotherly love in our house but not as much as I’d like!  Sibling rivalry and competition is a tricky one for all parents to contend with especially when siblings are close in age.

  • Separation Anxiety.  This can work both ways!  Some kids skip off into nursery or school without even a glance backwards and others find this really tricky…including the mums.  You get really good at practising your happy face as you wave goodbye but the watery eyes and last night’s mascara creeping down your face is a dead giveaway.  Leaving our kids upset can feel like it goes against all of our instincts and the learning curves can be as steep for us as they are for them.

  • Bedtime Bedlam.  It’s the end of the day…we’ve made it.  Everyone is knackered and patience is low.  We just want to get the kids calmly into bed – and for them to stay there- so we can get downstairs for a tea/gin/wine or just to start the tidy up process ahead of the whole thing starting again tomorrow.  The other night my sister Polly called me for advice after 3yr old had got out of bed 36 times in a row at bedtime….thankfully we knocked that one on the head the next night!

  • Kiddy Rage.  Yes, sometimes kids can get angry, they lash out…sometimes we’re in the firing line, sometimes it’s a sibling or peer.  They find it impossible to control/hide/handle their emotions and they react to situations and scenarios in ways we feel totally unprepared for.  We receive no training as parents yet it’s the most important job we’ll ever do.

  • And finally, the Tantrum Turmoil.  Pre-kids we’ve probably all seen these in action, maybe we judged, maybe we didn’t but nobody warns you about how you’ll feel when it’s your kid throwing the tantrum…it’s so disarming when we don’t know the best way to control the situation.

  • Now of course, just as every child is different, every family is different and we all have our own style of parenting.  But I do believe there are certain principals, strategies and techniques which will help turn around any behaviour and help us get the best out of everyday with our kids….

    1.  Praising the positives.  This is rule number 1 in behavioural terms.  We praise the things we like, and want to see more of.

    2.  Rewards.  All kids will respond to rewards – it’s just about finding the thing that motivates them and making sure it’s appropriate to their age and stage of development

    3.  Be Consistent.  We probably hear this a lot but it really is a golden rule.  No use you saying one thing and your partner saying another…guaranteed the little monkeys will find any chinks in armour and catch you out!

    4.  Teach them alternatives.  If we don’t like the way a child is reacting to something try and teach or show them a different way to behave or respond.

    5.  Set your boundaries.  Kids need to know what is and isn’t ok and that will be different for all of us.  Whatever your boundaries are, they’ll be right for you so have the courage to stick to them.

  • As a mum of 3 and with her professioanl background Livvy can help with any parenting issue you may face, helping you to understand the reasons behind a behaviour and possible triggers, and most importantly how to react. 

  • She will work with your parenting style to develop clear, practical and effective strategies to help.  Livvy is here to help and never to judge, and will support you along the way.

    ** Honestly I need all of the above SO badly. Which is why I am hosting a workshop with Let’s Ask Livvy next Friday October 7th focussing on Encouraging Sibling Bonds (finger-crossed no more endless scrapping) at a special discounted rate of £65 for Mother of all Lists Readers. Just leave your email address below and the girls will be in touch.**