6th April 2017

10 things that make us feel unexpectedly emotional as parents…

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 22.21.471. Packing tiny clothes away. We are obsessed with our children growing from the moment they are born. Regular weight checks, plotting them on a growth chart, cheering when they reach milestones. Growing is obviously a good thing. It’s obviously what we want to happen. But when the moment comes to pack away tiny outfits into a storage box, we hold each one up and feel like blubbing.

2. Watching performances at nursery and school. Standing on a stage singing (or possibly not singing – it doesn’t really matter) in front of parents shouldn’t be a tear-jerker – but from the moment they walk into the room with their classmates, you seem to have something in your eye…

3. When they tell us they love us. We’re not entirely sure they understand the meaning of the word ‘love’ at their age, but that doesn’t stop us soaking up every second (and shedding a tear or two as we recount the story).

4. When they tell us they hate us. We know they don’t really mean it. We know they don’t understand the meaning of their words. But still – the first time your child tells you they don’t actually like you very much, it stings.

5. First smiles. Rewind to those first delicious moments when your little baby meets your eyes and breaks into a giant smile. It’s the best feeling ever! So why are you wiping away tears?

6. Getting ready to have another baby. We are giving our kiddies the ultimate gift in a new sibling, but as the bump grows and excitement builds, we can’t help dwelling on the fact that our time together as a tight little unit is coming to an end.

7. Their first day at the childminder, nursery or school. You always thought you’d jump for joy and relish the freedom – but when it comes to saying goodbye and walking out the door, you are a crumpled mess on the floor.

8. When siblings begin to bond. It happens slowly – but over time, you notice your children fall in love with the new little person in their life. And then one day, out of the corner of your eye, you catch a moment between the two (or three or more) of them. A tender kiss on the head, a giggle together, a moment playing together. And that is enough to make you sob with happiness.

9. When you are handed your first masterpiece. The moment your little one toddles out of nursery or runs out of school grasping a painting or picture just for you is a momentous one. And who ever thought painted macaroni could give you the feels?

10. Birthdays. Hooray! Another year old older! The day I gave birth! Let’s celebrate! Let’s party! Order the cake! Send the invites! (Where has my baby gone? Blub).



17th March 2017

Dear Mabel, you are six months old today…

17327911_10158426069295607_1072781804_nDear Mabel,

You are six months old today.

Half a year.

This morning, our day started at 5am. Your biggest brother woke up – and minutes later, the entire house was awake too. As I lay there, with heavy eyelids and feeling groggy with sleep, I decided to flick through the photos on my phone. I went right back to the beginning of my pregnancy with you – and as I flicked through those photos with sleepy eyes, so many happy memories came flooding back.

A silhouette of a tiny bump in a hotel mirror. The scan pictures with you sticking out your tongue. The note scribbled by my obstetrician that read simply ‘Girl’. The final pregnancy photos, where I cradled my bump protectively in the knowledge it would be the last time I’d feel a baby under my ribs. The first photos of you, staring peacefully into the watery eyes of your Daddy. Meeting your brothers for the first time – you curled and sleepy, they with just-washed hair in their printed pyjamas.

And then the photos since those precious first days in hospital – photos taken almost daily, with eyes that get bluer, thighs that get chubbier, and a dimpled smile that gets sweeter by the day.

You grew so quickly, Mabel. But I’ve done this mothering thing twice before and I was prepared for that. I soaked up every second of the early days. I didn’t allow the pace of life to sweep me away. I sat still for hours, nursing you, holding you, letting you sleep in my arms. I drank in every second of your newborn days – and when you grew, I was ready for it. I was ready to get to know the person you were becoming.

I embraced every little milestone, I enjoyed pulling new clothes out of your drawers when poppers got too tight, and I looked forward to taking your photo as another month ticked over, documenting your change into a little girl.

And what a wonderful little person you have become!

You are still so quiet, so thoughtful, and so serene. You spend most of your time watching your brothers, playing quietly with your toys, or seeking me – your Mummy –  in a busy room. You adore being held, being tickled, being kissed, and listening to me singing songs. You are wary of strangers, burrowing your head into my chest for reassurance. You are happiest at home with your family, rolling around on the floor, practicing sitting in your ring, and jumping happily in your jumperoo.

Soon you will be weaned. Soon you will crawl. Soon you will walk. Soon your hair will be long enough to be scraped into pigtails. Soon you will wave me goodbye on your first day of school. I know it’s coming – I’ve been there before, which is exactly why I’m enjoying every second of these baby days.

I enjoy leaving you in a spot and knowing you’ll be there when I return. I enjoy the fact you still sleep beside me in your bedside cot, so I can hear your breathing as I drift off to sleep. I enjoy your gurgles, your giggles, your chubby rolls, your delicious slobbery cuddles.

I enjoy everything about you.

6 months, Mabel.

Half a year.

It’s not a long time really – but already, I can barely remember life without you. When I look at pictures of the four of us before you were born, the photos seem incomplete. When I think back to holidays, or day trips, or celebrations, I wonder where you were, before realising suddenly you were yet to exist.

We never knew it back then, but you were our missing puzzle piece, the last pea in the pod, the little girl that we’d all fall in love with from the second she was placed into our arms. Everything seems right now, with you alongside us. Neat and tidy. Exactly how it should be. Just so right.

And you know the best bit?

This is just the beginning.

Your beginning.

And I can’t wait for the rest.

Love from Mummy x



8th March 2017

Dear Mabel, I want nothing to hold you back…

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 14.28.09Dear Mabel,

Today is your first International Women’s Day.

And the truth is that I feel differently this year, because this is the first time I have been mother to a girl.

So I thought I would write you a letter to tell you about my hopes and dreams for your future. And how I say this as not just a mother of a little girl, but as a mother of two beautiful boys too.

I hope – like me – you grow up truly understanding your worth. I don’t want you to ever feel inferior to any man. I want you to feel just as strong, just as capable, and just as ambitious. If you decide you want to fly planes or fight fires or join the army or save lives on an operating table, I want nothing to hold you back.

But here’s the thing; it doesn’t have to be like that if you don’t want it to be.

For me, being a feminist means you can be whoever you want to be.

It means you have a choice.

So if you grow up and decide that you want to be a hippy, or an artist, or to be a barista, or to stay at home with your babies, I want nothing to hold you back either.

With the world of your side (and mothers raising a generation of little boys that see their sisters, and female colleagues, and girlfriends as their equals), you can be whoever you choose to be.

And believe me my darling, I hope the world is always on your side.

And if it isn’t?

You show it exactly where it should be.

Love Mummy x



26th February 2017

I’m more of a “Netflix and Diet Coke” than a “Boot Camp and Kale” kind of girl…

16997324_10158329875845607_502937731_nIt’s taken 36 years to work out that I’m just not that into exercise.

I’d love the hot beach body – but I’m just not prepared to head out to boot camps at 6am to get it.

And I like food.

I mean, I really, really like it.

And I know that healthy food can still be tasty – but I’m sorry, it can never be as tasty as a bowl of rich Italian pasta, a large glass of red wine, and a large slab of chilled chocolate for dessert. It just can’t. Not possible. Definitely not. No way.

I’ve tried, though. I really have. I’ve bought the snazzy trainers. In fact, for one 6-month period when I lived in London, I convinced myself I was a jogger.

I lived in Blackheath in London back then – a part of London located on a vast expanse of grass – and I used to run around it coughing and spluttering, with LMFAO on repeat… “Girl look at that body, Girl look at that body, Girl look at that body, I work outttt!”

I even applied for the London Marathon once. I mean, seriously. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

With dodgy knees and hips from way too much gymnastics when I was younger (see, I was sporty once), I soon realised that jogging was doing more harm than good. Trainers went back in the wardrobe, cool running iPad bum-bag-contraption went back in the drawer, and exercise was forgotten for a little while. When the rejection arrived from the London Marathon, I collapsed in hysterical (relieved) giggles on the floor.

Then I discovered Pilates – and that was far more successful. With flexibility part of my make up (all that gymnastics worked in my favour, after all), I actually enjoyed the classes. But still, when I had those evenings when the UK got dark way too early and I fancied a takeaway and a glass of wine on the sofa instead, even that hit the bumpers.

And now, fast forward 8 years – and here I am. Now a mother of three – and a size or two heavier than I was when I was jogging around that expanse of grass, coughing and spluttering.

And whilst I know I need to up the fitness levels, I’m kind of cool about my body shape.

For the first time in my life.

I’ve started Pilates again and occasionally swim a few laps in the evening in our community pool. I want to be fit and healthy for my children – and of course, I want to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably without them hugging my post-pregnancy tummy.

But supermodel-esque hot beach body? It’s never going to happen.

And it’s taken me to the age of 36 to accept that.

It’s OK.

Because as a child, I don’t remember hearing a single woman tell me they were happy with their body. I don’t remember seeing celebrities say that. Or political figures. Or family members. Or family friends. Nobody said: “I wasn’t made to be a size 8, rocking a bikini in Ibiza with the supermodel set – and I AM OK WITH THAT.” Nobody said that.

Nobody.

And I want Mabel – and her brothers – to hear otherwise.

I will never be a keen jogger. Or a marathon runner. Or a supermodel.

But I am a very proud mum of three, who’s body has done incredible things.

And yes, I enjoy Pilates. And yes, I enjoy swimming the odd lap in a pool. And yes, it’s important to be healthy bla bla bla.

But I only want to do it a few times a week.

The rest of the time, I’ll be on the sofa downstairs with the Netflix control in my hand and a can of Diet Coke next to me, while my babies sleep peacefully upstairs.

Because that’s who I am.

And I want them to know I’m proud of that too.



15th February 2017

Dear Mabel. Time is passing so quickly…

16780004_10158275668270607_337425883_nDear Mabel,

Time is passing so quickly.

I was lying in a hospital bed one moment, running on pure adrenaline with the most delicious newborn curled on my chest. And the next? I am listening to you shriek with laughter, watching you roll over, and communicating with kisses, songs, tickles, and smiles.

You have changed – but caught up in a fog of sleeplessness, endless nappy changes, and everyday life, I just didn’t notice.

Until that is, I was queuing at the supermarket check-out this morning and somebody sneezed in front of me – and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a newborn baby jump out of his skin in his pram.  The kind of jolt where the baby’s entire body moves, before their fingers twitch in shock. “Ah look”, I thought, “Another newborn!”

I made eye contact with the mother and smiled, glancing down at you in your pram as if to say ‘Look! Me too!’ But as my eyes met you – now 4 months old and dribbling as you chewed your own foot – the truth hit me like a ton of bricks. Because you aren’t a newborn anymore.

You no longer jump out of your skin at loud noises. You no longer curl on my chest and sleep peacefully between feeds. You no longer gaze at me with cross eyes as you try to focus. And devastatingly, I can’t even remember the last time I breathed in the scent of your skin and smelt that familiar, milky newborn scent.

Time has passed – and you are a baby now.

A wonderful little baby.

A baby that has started to burrow into me with the sweetest shyness when you don’t know the person you are meeting. A baby that adores her brothers, giggling at the funny dances and songs they perform just for you. A baby that rewards us with long chunks of sleep through the night, but enjoys sqwarking loudly at the crack of dawn to wake everyone up in the house. A baby is that is becoming a little girl.

You are wonderful – but you are not a newborn any more.

And today, I realised that.

I am not sad about you growing up –  how could I be? But this morning’s supermarket sneeze was a stark reminder that time is set to fast-forward. Because as a Mummy of three, I know that I will blink and you will suddenly be a little girl, ready to go to school, asking 300 questions a minute, and getting to grips with the joy of phonics (oh lord, I have just realised I am going to have to deal with phonics three times over…) And when that happens, I know I will look at pictures of you as a 4-month old and wish I could go back for just one cuddle.

So Mabel, you may not jump at loud noises anymore – but you are still so very little.

And I fully intend to slow down and soak up every second.

Mummy x



30th January 2017

How my boy pregnancies differed to my girl pregnancy…

GIRL BOY PREGNANCIESI want to start this blog post by saying that there is absolutely no scientific reasoning in what I am about to say… It’s just a comparison of how my personal pregnancies differed – and it might be fun to read if you are trying to guess the sex of your baby or have had different girl/boy bumps too. But if your pregnancy is completely different to mine and it turns out to be the other sex, please don’t blame me… So here goes. This is how my pregnancies differed when I was expecting two little boys and a little girl…

The Early Days

Stanley and Wilfred - With Stanley, I had no sickness at all. Not a jot. I don’t know how I managed to escape it, but I felt amazing from the day I found out I was pregnant. With Wilfred a few years later, I did experience some mild nausea (enough to prompt me to buy some ginger teabags for first thing in the morning) – but by about 10 weeks, it had completely disappeared. I think the nausea I did feel was down to tiredness more than anything (with an active toddler on my hands) and it never lasted for more than 10/20 minutes a day.

Mabel - Bleurrrghhhhhh! I was never physically sick with her, but I pretty much felt sick from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. And when 12 weeks arrived, I really thought I’d get some relief – but no, it continued until nearly 20 weeks. By that point, I had so many food aversions – and most of those things I still can’t think about without feeling very queasy (I can’t even look at raw ginger, for example, which I chucked into a smoothie one morning thinking it would pick me up – and then felt the most sick of my entire pregnancy).

Cravings

Stanley and Wilfred - The saltier, the better! Marmite toast was my breakfast of choice. I also seriously craved burgers, chips and pretty much any fried food. I felt so unhealthy sat there chomping on packs of chips in food courts when every other pregnant woman around me seems to be treating their bodies as temples – but I needed it. I had no interest in sweet food at all. Savoury all the way.

Mabel - Sweet, sweet, sweet! Crunchy nut cornflakes for breakfast, platters of fresh fruit (especially mango and juicy apple) as snacks, chocolate, pick n mix sweets, stodgy sweet desserts like sticky toffee pudding and custard… I lived for the sweet stuff… In fact, I’m still craving sweet stuff 4 months after her birth (I’m blaming the breastfeeding…)

Feeling the babies

Stanley and Wilfred - Both very, very active – always wiggling around, jabbing at my ribs, and performing somersaults that made my tummy completely contort. And in the early days when I used to find their heartbeats on a home Doppler, they were always on the lower right hand side – always in exactly the same spot – in fact, that spot became so familiar that I can find it in a second with my finger even now.

Mabel - Much quieter, right from the beginning. I felt her later and she just wasn’t as active throughout pregnancy – I still had lots of movement, which occurred regularly throughout the day, but she definitely felt calmer from the beginning. And the home Doppler? She was always on the other side to the boys, meaning it took me ages to find her at the beginning. She was on the left lower side, exactly opposite where the boys had been. I don’t know if this is a total coincidence, but it was my first clue that she may be a girl.

The Bumps

Stanley and Wilfred - Both pretty neat and at the front – people would always comment that it was very definitely ‘a boy bump’.

Mabel - Actually pretty similar in shape – but much bigger, right from the beginning. However, I think this is down to it being a third pregnancy and the fact she was much bigger (born at 9Ib 8oz).

The third trimester

Stanley and Wilfred - I didn’t really struggle with either of the boys in the later stages, apart from the obvious aches and pains that you get towards the end. I had no Braxton hicks with Stanley – and only very mild ones with Wilfred. However, I think both of these factors are down to them being a first and second pregnancy, with the gender playing no part.

Mabel - I had so many Braxton hicks that I felt like I was in labour for a good month before she was finally evicted. People said to me ‘It’s girls! They do this!’ but I’m sure it’s down to her being a third baby too. And I really, really struggled – I felt sick again, I ached everywhere, and I felt like she was going to fall out at any second. Because she was a girl? I doubt it, but it was very different to my first two pregnancies.



26th January 2017

Is it time for us to get a dog?

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 16.21.13We have a dog in the UK – and the boys love her. In fact, since our holiday home at Christmas, Stanley has mentioned his dog Lily about 30 times a day. He’s even woken up crying her name and has taken to bringing a fluffy dog that closely resembles Lily to bed every night. We miss her too – so this is all a bit heartbreaking.

And next week, we move to a house with a garden – and whenever I mention to the boys that they are getting their very own garden at last, Stanley replies “So now we can get a dog?” I’d love to say yes – especially as there are so many dogs here in Dubai in shelters needing homes, but there are so many other things for us to consider. So when is the right time? And what questions do we need to ask first?

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How much will the dog cost?

It isn’t going to be cheap to add a fluffy family member to our brood – and with mouths to feed, and school fees to pay, and rent to conjur up, we probably don’t need the extra financial commitment. In fact, a recent study conducted by Voucherbox revealed that a dog can cost over £15,000 over a lifetime (that’s nearly 70,000 AED if you are reading this in Dubai). Wowsers. And that doesn’t even count the cost of getting the dog in the first place either (which is nothing if you rehome, of course), but just the day to day cost of food, snacks, bedding, toys, collars, tags, insurance and vet treatments… The list goes on.

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Who will walk the dog?

I keep telling Stanley that somebody has to walk the dog – and whilst he enthusiastically volunteers, obviously we aren’t going to allow a 4-year-old to head off on his own, which means one of us will be waking that dog at least twice a day too. As if we didn’t have enough to do already. And when the weather heats up in Dubai during the summer, I can see us falling out over this. In fact, I recently read that in a study by the insurance company esure, the average family dog causes 2,000 family arguments during their lifetime – and yep, I can believe that.

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How much does it cost to fly the dog back to the UK?

I don’t know how long we are going to be in Dubai – so factoring in the fact that we would have to fly that dog back to the UK if we repatriated is also really important (after all, we definitely wouldn’t be leaving a furry friend behind). And how much would it cost? In a recent feature by The Guardian, Nick Foden-Ellis, Airpets managing director, says it is “rarely less than a business-class ticket for the same route”. And a business class ticket from Dubai to London? Not cheap. And if we did fork out that kind of money, it’d be me riding up the front of the plane…

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Is it the right time?

And of course, the biggie – is it actually the right time to add another demanding small thing to our family? And with a 4-month old baby in the house, I am pretty certain the answer is no. But when is the right time? I don’t know – but I think when she’s out of the toddler tantrum stage, possibly even at school, I may begin to consider it. I’ve had a puppy before – and they don’t wear nappies, they bite, and they can move (fast) – so yep, not yet. Definitely not yet.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 16.48.48

I jest – but the thing is, I am keen for them grow up around animals. I think having pets teaches so much to a child – about responsibility, about love, and ultimately, about loss. We aren’t cat people, so I want my children to have a dog to love, to walk, and to cuddle. But it’s pretty obvious that it’s not happening yet – so Stanley is going to have to enjoy his cuddly dog for a bit longer, at least.

 

 



19th January 2017

“What’s the best thing about being a blogger?” and other questions I am frequently asked about Mummy Blogging…

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 21.32.451. “Should I start a blog?” If you are thinking about it, my advice would be to go ahead and just do it. It isn’t for everyone, but the fact that the idea is in your mind shows that you have probably already have something to say or share. And what have you got to lose? If you choose to do it on a small scale as a hobby, you have a way to share what has been happening recently with family and friends (and if you live far away from most of them like I do, that’s quite lovely). On the other hand, if you want to start a blog with the aim to it becoming professional one day, why not give it a go? It isn’t going to happen if you sit on the idea for years.

2. “What do I write about?” Remember that your family and friends will probably be the first people to read your words – so how about a post introducing your new blog and explaining why you have decided to write it? Talk directly to them and the words should come naturally. With so many parenting blogs around these days, however, I do think that finding a niche is a good idea – an angle that will set you apart from every other blog out there. It worked well for me to start a blog for mums of boys in the early days, for example, as it hasn’t really been done before. Find your own niche – and make it something you will find easy and enjoyable to blog about it. If you like cooking, for example, you could perhaps start a recipe blog for busy mums. If you have a unique hobby, you could blog about that. If you travel a lot, you could start a blog with tips for other parents. Or (and I really like this idea), why not start a blog about being a parent in your local town or village?

3. “How about the technical stuff?” I am asked this a lot – and the truth is that I am not remotely technical when it comes to things like this and have luckily always had friends to help me with the set-up bit (paying “mates rates”)! If you know someone, ask them! Bear in mind that these things are time-consuming, so offering to pay “mates rates” is a better tactic than asking for a favour – especially if you want them to help with any hiccups / updates in the future too. If you are more technically minded, I recommend setting up your blog through WordPress.  But if it’s all Greek to you  and you don’t have mates to help you out, why not just start blogging via Instagram and Facebook? It’s a great way to build an audience and following – and the blog itself can always come later.

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4. “Do you ever regret starting a blog?” I wouldn’t say that I ever regret it, but I definitely have moments of doubt and spend time wondering whether I should continue. This is mainly because I worry whether I should be putting my kids in the spotlight when they didn’t choose it. It makes me feel uncomfortable when I think about it, as my kids are my number one priority (just like any mummy). However, I do take steps to protect my children with what I choose to post (or not to post, as the case may be) – I won’t divulge those details, but each blogger has their own rules.  I also strongly believe that the benefits my children are getting from this blog means that the positives currently far outweigh the negatives. And let’s face it; this is the first generation that has grown up online / on social media – and there are no rules or manuals on how we should do it.  And anyone that takes time to read my posts will realise pretty quickly that I do it all out of love for them. I hope this will be obvious to them too, as they grow up – and if they still hate it, I’ll stop blogging about them immediately.

5. “How long will you keep blogging?” This is a really hard question and pretty impossible to answer – but I can’t see myself stopping any time soon. I can definitely see my blog evolving as time goes on, though – perhaps if we ended up moving back to the UK at any point (no imminent plans, but you never know) or if the kids didn’t want to be involved in the blog as they grew up. The beauty of a blog for me is that it grows with you – so I guess when I no longer have babies anymore, my blog will change with it. But I hope you lot will stay with me, as I guess your babies will be growing up too. We’ll all be in it together (and I am personally DREADING the teenage years!)

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6. “Is blogging competitive?” Yes, at times I think it is – but that’s just like any industry so I don’t think there’s anything too unusual or dramatic about that. However, I do have moments of self-doubt  at times when I bother to compare my blog and social media posts to others. The problem I think is there’s a fine line where the ‘me’ finishes and the ‘blog’ starts – we seem to be one and the same – so it can feel very personal if someone criticises it or if a brand chooses to work with someone else. But I have learnt along the line that there is very little point in worrying about all this – my blog is my voice – and just like people read more than one magazine and shop from more than one store, there is plenty of space for blogs to co-exist with the same gang of readers. That’s why it pays to support each other, promote blogging in general, and try not to get too caught up in the competitiveness of it all. It’s nothing compared to the world of fashion journalism anyway (been there, done that, worn the over-priced T-Shirt).

7. “Can you make lots of money from a blog?” Well yes – you definitely can. Not that I’d even begin to count myself in that gang yet, although things are definitely moving in the right direction. But if you take one blog that makes serious money, there will be hundreds more that make very little. It definitely isn’t a quick fix to riches – it took me a good year of solid blogging to get offered my first sponsored campaign. You have to really love blogging foremost – and if you start making money, that’s a bonus. And even with over 80,000 social media followers and 2.5 years of blogging under my belt, I don’t make enough for it to be my main revenue source and I need to keep up my freelance journalism. One day I hope the balance will shift to my blog – that would definitely be the dream for me, as it’s the bit of ‘work’ I enjoy most.

8. “What’s the best bit about blogging?” For me, this is definitely the support network I have created with my followers and readers. I love nothing more than posting something on social media and getting streams of comments underneath. It keeps me sane on the hardest days of motherhood – and I genuinely hope it helps all you too! Of course there are other big highlights – like getting invited to do cool stuff (getting an email inviting me to a 5-day review of a hotel in the Maldives, for example, was a real highlight – sadly we couldn’t afford the airfare at the time, but just imagine if we’d taken the plunge!), placing a big advertising campaign, and being sent lovely gifts to my door on a daily basis. I also love it when people recognise me, which is happening more and more (both in the UAE and UK). I don’t love this in a ‘wow, I’m totally famous!” way (as I’m actually quite shy and can easily clam up in these situations) – but I love it because it means my words are clearly being heard, my blog is growing, and all that hard work is paying off.



13th January 2017

Yesterday, I decided to sell my maternity clothes…

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 20.04.41With another house move in the next few weeks (finally a family home that we can settle in for the next few years), we need to declutter – and I decided the maternity clothes had to go. So I photographed each item, carefully wrote down the brand and size details, decided on a price for each item, and listed it all on community Facebook pages.

And then I waited.

But nothing.

Not a single message.

Nobody wanted my beautiful maternity dresses.

I felt a bit deflated, but joked with a few friends that maybe the universe had other plans. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be selling them at all. Maybe I would need them again. Funnily enough, the husband didn’t find it quite as funny when he got home from work and I relayed the story.

Still, as I went to bed that night, I must admit I felt quite relieved those dresses were still in my wardrobe. I knew I would never wear them again, but maybe I wasn’t ready to part with them either.

But the next morning, I woke up to a message. A mum-to-be who lived nearby had seen my advert and wanted to come and look at the dresses. This is it, I thought. This is it. She’ll come to my apartment, try them on, and take them all off my hands. That will be it. Done and dusted. Finished.

She was on her way, so I made my way into the spare room and hung each dress on the front of the wardrobe so she could see them all clearly. Most of these dresses had seen me through three pregnancies – and after the first two babies I’d stashed them away, hoping that I would get a chance to wear them again. After Mabel was born, I moved them to the spare bedroom knowing that I’d probably never move them back again. I wasn’t sad about it – how could I be, when the bump they’d dressed was now sleeping peacefully next door – but it did make me stop in my tracks and think. And now I was about to say goodbye to them.

I stood back and looked at them. So many memories right there on the wardrobe. I always loved having a bump. I loved the way I felt and I loved the way I looked – but most importantly, I loved the anticipation and pure excitement I felt when I looked in the mirror and stroked my bump. These dresses were part of those memories and I felt strangely attached to them. Just like the feelings I had when I stashed tiny newborn sleepsuits away in boxes, I felt stabs of emotion when I realised I’d never set eyes on them again.

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. And within a few minutes, a stranger was trying on my maternity dresses in the spare bedroom.

She came out of the room 10 minutes later, clutching just one of the dresses. “I’ll take this one,” she said, “I just love it!” She handed me a few notes and we said our goodbyes – and I laughed to myself that the dress she’d taken was the only one I’d rarely worn during my pregnancies. It just hadn’t suited me when I’d got it home from the shop – and it was sod’s law that it was the only one she wanted.

Before I went to pick up the boys from school and nursery, I hung the remaining dresses back in the wardrobe. All still mine – for now, at least.

But just as I started to wonder whether the universe really was sending me a message, my kids stepped in. It is no exaggeration to say that I had one of the most difficult afternoons I have ever had as a mother. Nothing dramatic happened, but the boys fought, I screamed at them, Mabel cried, dinner had to be taken off the hob three times while she demanded more milk, dinner was ruined, boys refused to eat what I knocked up instead, I screamed again, they cried – and to top it all off, the 4-year-old told me he only loved me “some of the time”.  Nice crescendo Stanley, nice crescendo.

So that evening, with a glass of wine in my hands to recover, I decided I needed to give myself a pep talk. I might be sad that those dresses won’t ever wrap around a bump again – but my goodness, three children was quite enough. I admire those mothers that keep having babies, but I had definitely reached the point of coping. The point of staying sane.

So I heaved myself off the sofa, walked to my desk, scrolled ‘WE ARE DONE!” on a post-it note in thick black letters, and marched to the spare bedroom to stick it on the label of my favourite maternity maxi dress as a reminder of that afternoon.

Because we are done. I am sure of it.

WE ARE DONE!

I think we are, at least.



2nd January 2017

10 Things To Consider Before You Have Number Three

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-16-21-431. If you thought your pregnancy flew by the second time, you will be shocked by how quickly it goes with your third. After all, you are far too busy refereeing sibling scraps to focus too much on the baby growing inside your tummy. You are unlikely to bother downloading pregnancy apps either – you’ve already maxed out the memory on your phone downloading apps for the kids, after all.

2. You may not notice the weeks ticking past – but by god, you will notice the bump. You will pop earlier, fit into maternity clothes quicker, and master the perfect fake smile for when passers-by ask if it’s twins. And by the end? You probably won’t be able to walk more than a few steps without feeling like the baby is going to fall out, which is ironic considering you have two small people under your feet who expect far more entertainment than just a few steps.

3. You don’t fear birth. Oh no. In fact, you daydream about that bit in the hospital after the baby is born from the moment you see that positive pregnancy test. You may have a demanding newborn to tend to, but they won’t be able to move – and what a luxury that will be!

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-22-21-344. You will have an argument with your other half about to fit all your children into a car. It’s unavoidable. And it will go on for months.

5. You always knew it would be a challenge to leave the house in the early days, but you will still be  shocked by how long it takes to move three small people through a front door. If it isn’t explosive newborn nappies, it’s toddler tantrums and last minute dashes to the loo. And you may as well accept now that you will forget something crucially important every time you leave the house. In fact, if you remember all three children, you should count that as a win.

6. Once in a while, however, you will get to leave the house with just two of your brood and the feeling of freedom will surprise you. One hand for each child? What luxury! You’ll have to stop yourself hop, skipping, and jumping through the streets in celebration. And rare occasions with just one child? That is classed as a holiday.

7. If two children scrambled your mind, wait until your third baby arrives home. From the moment you walk through the door clutching a car seat with a sleepy newborn, your mind will start doing funny things. Lunch boxes will get muddled up, weekly timetables forgotten, birthday parties missed – and, most disturbingly, you will have to run through every name in the house (including the one belonging to the cat) before you strike lucky and match the right name to a child.

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8. If you thought the comments about your ginormous bump from complete strangers were annoying, wait until you venture out with all three children in tow. Despite a good chunk of the adult population coming from families with three or more kids, it will quickly become apparent that 99% of those you pass in the street are shocked at the sight of your brood.. ‘You’ve got your hands full!” they will quip, as you glance up, force a smile, and promptly manage to trip over a child.

9. They do have a point though, as there will be moments in the early days when you stand back, see your other half with three little people, and feel genuinely shocked by how many children are now in your care. And when travelling with those children, you will watch young, single ladies in high heels and perfect lipstick glancing in horror and the general noise and chaos coming from your direction – and you will want to scream ‘I WAS LIKE YOU  A FEW YEARS AGO! JUST WAIT! IT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU TOO!”

10. But despite it all, you will not regret having that third child for a second. Not one single second. You never doubted that you would love this child – after all, you have done it twice before and know that your heart swells with every child you grow – but you did find it hard to imagine how this tiny human would fit into your family. But right from the moment you cradle that warm newborn on your chest, you will see that you had nothing to worry about. And when their older brothers and sisters get the chance to gaze into their baby sibling’s eyes for the first time, your heart will skip a beat. And that is the very moment you will realise it was the best decision you ever made.

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