Tag Archives: baby sleep

‘You can’t be depressed dear, the forestry commission don’t have to be called to trim your bush’

You can’t be depressed dear, you’re wearing mascara ! Said the wizard to the fairy one summer morning when the sun was shining, the birds were singing , the grandparents were gazing at their new glorious grandchild and the new mother was crying in the corner albeit with a slick of heather shimmer across her lips and a slide of liquid liner across the peepers . Little did people know the made up face hadn’t been done because mummy as she was now forever known was having such a delightful restful time that she had three hours to put her face on .no, the perfectly applied make up was applied as a mask, a mask to cover up how she was really feeling. Give her face a stroke and the layers of foundation will crack and will reveal what’s really underneath – a desperate woman who isn’t revelling in motherhood, but who in fact is so sad she cries until her mascara runs down her face .

Over the last year since writing my blog and talking to women who have been through perinatal mental health illnesses , it has become really apparent to me that there appears to be some bizarre notion that some people dismiss mothers experiencing these illnesses as they ‘ don’t look depressed’.

” But you don’t look depressed”. Hmm, what does someone depressed or with a mental illness look like? Are they walking around with weights in their sleeves dragging them across the ground? Are they wandering around the park with a parrot on their shoulder talking to the trees? Are they a sad jabbering wreck? Have they not shaved their bikini line lately ? Well you, know , maybe. But they also may look like you do when you look in the mirror, leave the house and go to work. Shock horror, they may shower,wear clean pants , shave their tash and wear the entirety of a make up counter on their faces . I know I do. I have a vast knicker collection ( my friend Sophie and I used to buy each other the wildest pants we could find at Christmas. Even though I am ow three sizes bigger and all the ribbons and mini poms poms – I have a pair of Mrs Christmas pants that fall off when you undo the strings at the side that hold a rather beautiful metaphorical unwrapping a present theory behind them- catch in my spanx these days, I refuse to chuck them out) , I wax my tash ( I recommend reading the label clearly if you do this as I have it on good authority , ahem, that if you do this in haste, you may accidentally pick up the bikini line wax. This is somewhat painful on the face and though you may indeed remove all the hairs, you will also remove 7 layers of skin, look as though you have dipped your face in ketchup and come out in welts and ingrown hairs ) and I adorn my face in beige elastic lip gloss and lather myself in fake bake. I also had postpartum psychosis , postnatal anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder . Being able to look the dolled up part therefore doesn’t mean you are exempt from feeling sad.

I often talk about the day I was told that I couldn’t have a perinatal mental health illness because I had mascara on. It’s almost as though make up has some kind of medical attachment to it and people think if you wear it , it means you can’t be feeling low. To be wearing it means you must feel like the hills are alive with the sound of music and though obviously for some this is the case but for so so many others, this isn’t true. Make up has the great power of being able to conceal a pile load of flaws, and not just physical. Concealer might cover up spots , but it also covers up eye bags that are embedded into your face from the pained crying you have been doing. Sometimes mascara helps open up those eyes so people don’t notice they have been worn out with tears.

I know that the day I was caught putting mascara on while in the midst of my psychotic breakdown , I think I was actually trying to find the old me. Before having my child, I loved looking my best. Now, in the fresh hell that I was finding motherhood, I wanted to try and gain back that normality . I had a fear of the future to such an extent that I had started to consider that death was the only way out. I had a realisation that this child was now here forever and I was hit with the hammer of a feeling that I had made a terrible terrible mistake in having him. I would wander round chanting ‘I just want it to go back to me and john,I want things back to how they used to be’ but of course this wasn’t going to happen. A baby isn’t something you put into the recycling when you have finished with it , it’s here forever and my mind found that very concept beyond terrifying. I was too scared to be in the same room as him so when he wasn’t attached to my boob with john sitting next to me to ensure I didn’t drop the baby because of my shaking, I tended to just sit on my own on the end of the bed staring at the floor trembling. I did this a lot. I did this almost all of the time.my teeth would chatter with nerves at his presence and I just wanted the baby to go away and get my old life back.and I think painting my face not only took up time to ensure I could avoid my child, but it also gave me a glimpse of what I would do in my former child free life.

And this mask then can fool people into thinking you are fine. That you are embracing motherhood with gusto, that the baby has come along and you wouldn’t even know it as you are doing all the things you used to do . I found this. I have mentioned this in a few blog posts but I and john most certainly won’t forget get the day that I woke up , manic , and basically in the midst of a pretty bad psychotic episode. John had gone to work as I had insisted I was ok ( this was fairly early on) and on his return , he found me in the kitchen holding a packet of frozen stewing steak mumbling ‘must cook stew’ on repeat. Bar the fact that stew takes quite a long time to make and unless we were planning to eat at 10pm the next day, I don’t think the frozen lump of meat was going to be doing anything useful , I looked very bizarre. I have very muddled memories of that day and john has thankfully filled in the what I can only say I must now say are amusing blank spaces. If I don’t laugh at them , I may cry. Again. I was apparently in an apron ( because obviously I always wore one of them and didn’t just fry the bacon in my pants) , with a bun on the top of my head so solid with hairspray I may have been flammable , and more worryingly, with blue eyeshadow and coral orange lipstick adorning my face. John says I smelt of bleach and then attempted to climb out of the window. As you do when you are completely well obviously. He called the health visitor and said ‘ she is acting , erm , weird. She looks like , erm, Mary poppins’.

The health visitor arrived . And informed john that I was nesting and clearly just wanted the house to be stick and span for my new precious bundle of joy and wasn’t he lucky that I was making him a nice meal , Mmm, yummy stew a la psychosis with a sprinkling of blusher. At this point I will repeat – I had blue eyeshadow on and coral orange lipstick. I looked like a 1980s glamour shot .This was 2010,blue eyeshadow was not en vogue and my mother who is nearly forty years older than me last wore coral lipstick in 1989. This wild makeover should have been evidence enough that I was losing the plot but no, it just showed I liked scrubbing according to the professionals.

And it’s not just make up that covers your feel emotions up. That’s just the imagery I’m using. It’s the fake smiles, the well timed laughter, the omelette over your face to make people laugh when you’re actually feeling awful.

Mental illness can be like the invisible illness. Often , you can’t see it but because you can’t , it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just because someone appears to be going on with their life at what looks like to you , in the way they normally would, it doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering. And for me, I obviously relate this to mental illness after having a baby. I don’t care what people say, there is a massive stigma attached to this kind of mental illness. Having a baby is supposed to be the most joyous thing in life you can ever endure. It’s supposed to be all rose petals and gurgles, with deep joy at being able to stare at your baby for hours on end thinking , it’s all worth it. And when you say , look , I don’t think I like it,what the fuck have I done , people recoil in horror. Because having a baby is the biggest thing nature does. Women have babies, women make milk to nurse babies, women have the ability to survive on one hours sleep a fortnight , and some women have 13 children and are back cooking a pork shoulder for the other 12 two hours after giving birth .

But for a fairly large amount of women , the experience is not initially this magical fairy tale. I have heard postnatal depression described as the ‘fluffy mental illness’ and one that people think women make up . There are the ‘in my day we were too busy to be depressed’ brigade who shame women into not wanting to reveal they don’t feel like their antenatal class told them they would do. And if you are faced with this stigma , what do you do ? You cover it up in any way you can in the hope that if you paint over the cracks whether it’s with make up , fake smiles, forced laughter, forced love towards the baby you aren’t sure you want, that it will go away. In some cases , these feelings do go quickly, your thoughts sort themselves out and the sad feelings while away on their own. Hurrah. But for some women, this isn’t the case. I hear stories of women who have babies over six months old saying they have been wandering around in a glazed daze of anxiety and depression but have been keeping up appearances as they are too ashamed to tell anyone how they feel . Everyone thinks they are fine as they are going through the motions but they aren’t . It’s like a scab that looks like it is healing but with one tiny pick, all the blood comes pouring out and this needs to change.

Mental illness is not a look. It’s not something you see in the pages of a magazine because if it was visual, it wouldn’t look very nice. So if you see someone who has just had a baby, offer to help,ask how things are, be gentle with them. Please refrain from the ‘HOW ARE YOU’ in slow loud tones like your friend has suddenly regressed to pre-school age though – I don’t believe there is any research to show that people experiencing mental illness need to be spoken.to.like.they.are.stupid. Just make it aware that if they want to talk , you will listen. If they need someone to go to the doctor with them to explain that even though they are smiling and laughing , inside they feel crushed. Upon asking they may of course find they are genuinely loving motherhood and that is wonderful but they may not be . They may be desperate for someone to say, I know you have painted toenails but I just wondered how things are ?

I’ll throw in at this point that there is a wonderful charity in the UK called The Smile Group. They have this fabulous tool on their website which is a GP checklist which can help you if you are don’t know how to tell the doctor how you are feeling. I have spoken to two women recently who have been holding an invisible mask over their emotions and felt like they couldn’t reach out for help from their doctor as they didn’t know what to say. I showed them this checklist which is here http://www.thesmilegroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/GP-Checklist.pdf . You can fill it in and ask the receptionist to get the doctor to read it and call you or make an appointment and hand it to them. They will then see that even though you look ok, that looks can be deceiving . You have been putting on an oscar worthy performance of utter joy but you can’t stay in that role forever.

It’s had to tell people how you feel when you feel betrayed by your mind. That awful feeling that your mind has shifted form you controlling it to it controlling you and not in a good way is terrifying but let me tell you , it does get better. One day, you won’t look in the mirror and think , Christ alive, another day of gritted teeth with a fake smile in public , I promise. One day soon you will look in the mirror and think , I feel a bit better I feel like I can face the world without that metaphorical mask and I feel ok.

Let’s go Greek and take these masks off and smash them on the ground like plates , crash ,bang , wallop. And kick them out of your way as nothing will stand in your way of happiness now. If you actually do this in a restaurant you may have to pay for the damage though so maybe refrain from launching your carbonara at the wall and just be content in the knowledge that you are going to be ok. More than ok, you are going to be happy xx


I know that Gin is essential to motherhood. Is there anything else I need to know?

Hello hello. This is a different blog to normal but one I wanted to write having endured about 67,000 differing opinions on how I raise my child. Yes, I am mother to a five year old who breastfeeds. Yes he sleeps in the same bed as me and the hubby sometimes and when he told his teacher that the Tories won the general election and that this is a “fucking ballache” we didn’t send him to the corner to face the wall to consider his behaviour. We have raised him how we want to , with the piles of conflicting advice that is thrown at you when you have a child , being clipped away by me, desperate to avoid the friendly ‘this is how it should be done’ wallops.

When you are up the duff, have a bun in the oven, growing the life inside of you, you become best friends with google, spend £500 on learning how to huff and puff through labour and buy every single essential baby book going .Your friends tell you things ranging from “Oh my god, you must follow Gina. Gina will make your child a law abiding robots,it’s great” to ‘ you must carry your placenta around for thirty days after birth to signify the tree of life you have created’.

I am confident in how I wanted to raise joe but tis mightily confusing for a first time mum knowing what to do when you have miles of conflicting advice thrown at you from health visitors, midwives, your antenatal class, your mum, your mother in law (both who become mortally offended if you don’t do things exactly as they ‘suggest’) . When I announced that i will be feeding joe until he is married and then either his husband or wife can take over , many people scoffed at me. And that’s ok. Joe is fine , we are fine. I don’t care and neither does he. But I am thankful I’m not a first time mum to a newborn again as the advice thrown at you can send you to utter despair. After reading posts on parenting threads , it’s apparent that the advice that is wheeled out at times doesn’t make sense, contradicts what someone else has told you (confusingly, it’s normally advice from medical professionals, such as the midwife telling you something totally different to the health visitor) and then results in you feeling like shit as you don’t have a clue what to do. Here , I present the differing advice that presents itself to the new parent.

Labour. The art of bringing your precious child into the world.

Not the political party which is a shame , but that event where you meet your child after a long nine months and then 36 hours of an irritating husband telling you to stay calm while you bring your child into the brave new world. You hear things like, when you give birth, make sure you don’t have any pain relief. You want to yell like a lioness bringing her cub into the wilderness and tell your friends that even the half a paracetamol your husband waved in front of you didn’t appeal, especially when the head was crowing out of your stretched nether regions. But then you get people blabbering , what kind of idiot doesn’t have pain relief. We aren’t living in Victorian times now love,if you can get an injection to ensure an 8lb lump of chub can be slipped out of your fandango with no more feeling than a gust of wind gently breezing past you, why the dickens wouldn’t you inhale it in one go ?

Because it’s their choice innit?

I had a planned c section. People said , oh the easy way and raised their eyebrows. I wasn’t too posh to push- joe came out of the sunroof as I’m blessed with two wombs and two vaginal entrances. The septum in the middle means a child can’t slip down the birth cancel and I had a planned c section otherwise he would have been in their forever. I didn’t fancy that as I wanted to see my feet again. Though, I actually never have. The skin that hangs down has ensured that will never happen again.  And for the six weeks after birth, I not only had a psychotic meltdown ending up in a psychiatric mother and baby unit, but I walked around bent over, the pain of c section recovery having never been explained to me.

Routine Routine.

You must do everything to the tick tock of the clock. What’s that ‘ it’s 7.10am and I haven’t plumped the cushions yet and the baby appears to want to still be asleep. Right, this is a logistic catastrophe that the book warns me must not happen. Right, I must get the timer out and time how long the baby feeds. Then , baby must go down for nap at 9am. Then baby must be in cot at midday not its buggy, not on the carpet or in the dog kennel. Baby must sleep in cot otherwise the routine is thrown out in the rubbish with the disposables and your baby if not always in their cot for a nap will become so confused that he will wake up thinking he is a drunk in jail’.  But then if you don’t have them on a routine, you will lead your baby through a washy washy day of stops and starts. You  will be trapped under your small child for the majority of the day staring at the remote control on the floor half way across the room. No amount of staring at it will turn you into Sabrina the teenage witch and it won’t pick itself up and fly over to you . If you had a routine, you would be up and out of the house , wandering around Waitrose with your spinach smoothie having already gone to baby mandarin at 10am followed by the babies guide to using chopsticks session at 11am.

Me ? No routine. I would strap joe to me and leave the house with a nappy flung in my handbag and wander down to the children’s centre to see what class would happen to be on at that time. If there wasn’t one, I’d walk to the shopping centre and eat some cake. Joe doesn’t appear to be too fucked up from this lack of structure.worked for us but might not work for you.and that’s ok X

Poo, it’s whereabouts when it’s not in a nappy . And how to get it out.

Your 5 week old baby is constipated. She hasn’t done a poo since last night and she is farting so badly it sounds as though your husbands arsehole has been transplanted onto her. The health visitor this morning said to give her brown sugar and water which meant you were clambering onto the kitchen worktop in an attempt to reach the cooking cupboard. Moving the vanilla essence that went out of date in1999 out of the way, you stumble across the cooking sherry which you look at in wonder and ask yourself, I wonder if I can drink this now . Your vaginal stitches are being firmly tested as you use your 4 year olds toilet stool to balance on the hob, using the bbq tongs to pull the sugar from the back of the cupboard. It looks as though its matted together but no one said that was a problem so you duly hunt for a bottle and put some water in it with the sugar and shake away. The next day you wander into the children’s centre for baby weigh in and say oh yeah, she hadn’t done a shit for a day so gave her some sugar water. HV said if that didn’t work, to give her pure orange juice . You see a face of thunder come across the hv weighing your child – ” You gave a new born baby orange juice ? What ?”. Cue a long ramble about  the acidic nature of orange juice which would make your poor child’s bum hole red raw and produce orange poo which would be mistaken for a jet stream of wee, it’s become so loose and concentrated. Guilt much ? Google says one thing, the health visitor says another, the midwife says something else and your antenatal class friends mum says to do whatever they did 67 years ago as their child is still alive and it didn’t do them any harm.

We actually took our son to casualty when , after giving sugar water and orange juice to him on the advice of a midwife and a health visitor , he still hadn’t pood. We had been used to him going about 27 times a day and were using cloth and disposable nappies. Everything when washed and dried had a lovely orange tinge which would have been fashionable in 2002 but when this tinge has been created by your child’s shit, it doesn’t look as illustrious or newborn on a catwalk. When we saw the paediatric consultant, he looked at our red book, asked a few questions and nodded here and there. He asked how long it had been since our offspring had emptied his bowels. We said five days and his tummy is so hard and he is ,ahem, gassy to say the least. We had done bicycle legs on him, put him in a warm bath blah blah blah , and then we had tried the orange juice on the advice of the health visitor. He said ‘What? Your baby is breastfed yes? And under six months yes? Who in gods name told you to give him orange juice.’ Bear I mind. I hadn’t been out of the mother and baby unit long having suffered postpartum psychosis. I was questioning my ability to look after my child and the idea that I had done him some damage after listening to the advice of someone started to send me into a bit of a spin. The consultant flicked through my red book and put big crosses through several lines of advice that he read. He then found the HV details and said, I’m going to give this woman a call. And did. He tore into her and asked her if she was aware of what medically, for babies, constipation is defined as. Apparently it’s not not being able to do a shit. It’s actually if they do pulletesque little hard type things like rabbit poo. And as breastfed babies use up all the goodness in breastmilk, they can go for up to two weeks not pooing. And to give them orange juice, prune juice, peat juice,water or stick a thermometer up their bum to move it along is all dangerous and wrong. The advice here from the medical man in the know is to let the poo find it’s way to the hole off its own accord. I still wonder about the thermometer up the bum comment. Is this a thing ? I do not think this is a thing I want to ever do.

Feeding your baby. Giving them life. Boob or bottle. Let the hysteria begin.

Aw yes. The questioning of your ability to breastfeed. I grew up thinking if you had fried eggs instead of bangers , your milk flow would resemble that of a broken leaky tap. Three drips an hour which will eventually drive you into insanity and make you think, right , this tap can’t be fixed by a plumber, I’m off to to tesco to get me some formula. I had a fully developed rack by the time I was 10 and so assumed that if I was to breastfeed, my milk would make the cup runeth over. I heard a family member say the health visitor had told her that her milk looked thin which meant it clearly wasn’t nutritious and to get the powdered milk into a bottle . She spent two weeks with cabbage leaves down her bra to dry her apparent lacklustre supply up , armed with paracetamol and crying at the devastation she had felt as she had so desperately wanted to breastfeed. One more pregnancy later, she heeded the advice of another health visitor who said to keep the babies mouth firmly over nipple until the milk felt empty.

Jiggle the boobies round to swill the fore and hind milk up because depending on who you talk to , this is why your baby might have poo that suggests a marshan may have given birth to them. Green shit. Lots of it. You just get used to that lovely mustard seed smear in the nappy and then you see a veritable rainbow of activity coming out of your small child’s bum. Cue frantic google searching. Right, this means your child isn’t getting enough hind milk- must keep child on boob until cream fluid comes out. But wait, the other website says they aren’t getting enough fore milk so the green is saying they are dehydrated. Christ alive. Right.

Five different health visitors told me to give Joe extra water in the hot weather even though he was exclusively breastfed.the doctor says this is dangerous and that breastfed babies must not ever have extra water under six months. so whilst you attempt to wrestle the bottle of water your mother is creeping behind you with , you give your child short sharp boosts of your milk but no longer than ten minutes worth because that’s when it goes on the turn to the disallowed full fat. And then their is how often your baby should be feeding. Of course , one of the midwives in the hospital tell you your precious dot needs milk every three hours but then the apparent average is 8-12 feeds in a 24 hour period. And you’ll have your mother in law telling you that back in the golden olden days , hospital feeding times were at 10,2,6 and 10 and that by the time the baby is six weeks old, the 2am needs to be cut out. And then don’t forget that at six months babies apparently don’t need to feed anymore in the night. So stop it. And con them by giving them bottles of water instead. Which will obviously work because water and milk taste exactly the same. Erm, my five year old still gets thirsty in the night and occasionally sits up and demands a banana at 2am. Yes, it’s a ballache getting him one but I’m not going to leave the poor child hungry am I ? Hunger is a normal human function.

And if you are shock horror, breastfeeding beyond six months, to get them off le tit at night time, smear your nips in mustard . Works a treat apparently- a relative who has never had a child told me. ‘Darling , mummy has grated some fresh horseradish on her mammories in order to show you that you aren’t allowed near them between the hours of 7pm and 7am’. Might also put your husband off as well. Be careful, in the blur of the dark midnight hour while stumbling to the fridge to get said mustard as your child has woken up tugging at your bra, not to grab the Nutella by accident. A few smears of that over your boobs will result in them being more popular than ever.

Remember , you must not breastfeed your child longer than six months. A day longer and they will become so dependent on you you might as well Velcro them to your bra and your marriage will break up as your poor husband has lost his ownership to your fun bags. Poor husband. You better start saving up for the divorce lawyer now. Their teeth will become so decayed the dentist will think you have taken a drill to them and you will find yourself having to do a daily commute to college when they are 18 to slip them a boob before their chemistry lecture. My son is at school and nurses but I’m yet to have to run into his lesson to give him a squirt like all the protestors tell me is exactly what will happen if you feed beyond babyhood.

But also remember to start expressing at 3 weeks . But don’t introduce a bottle for the first four weeks as this will traumatise your baby and give them nipple confusion. But the website says to introduce a bottle by two weeks so baby gets used to it. But mummy, don’t you dare attempt to feed the baby with a bottle if you are expressing . Your mum, your husband, your wife or the tescos lady will need to take on this task. You must sprinkle a pile of your milk over an old bra or t shirt for said ‘other person’ to cover themselves with to con the baby that it’s you. But come to think of it , dont let your husband hold the baby either as his hairy nipples will send baby into a right old meltdown and will lead to them shouting at daddy “I don’t want you. I want the one with the boobs”.

And then if you are formula feeding , there is that small question of how you prepare formula. Joe didn’t have bottles or formula so this isn’t something I know about so can’t give my experience but it’s one that I see lights up passionate parenting group debates on facewash. Well ,apparently,you follow the instructions on the back of the tin surely don’t you? Yep, that handy guidance that says incorrect formula preparation can be harmful to your babies health and your babies health depends on carefully following these directions. You must wash your hands in soapy water. You must also wash the bottle in soapy water and then boil it but then the other tin says that boiling bottles isn’t needed for normal healthy infants. Erm. Before any of this, let the cold water run from the tap for two minutes to remove impurities and don’t whatever you do, make your child’s formula up with hot tapwater. You may as well shit in the bottle for all the germs there are in it. And remember you must boil the water to kill the bacteria in the powder. And you should boil all water for the first three months of your child’s life. Or is it six months? And can’t you make up 18 formula bottles in advance and put them in the fridge hot so you can use them whenever ? Seems not. And never heat up in the microwave.

And if you are using bottles, you must buy a fancy £300 machine which will always ensure babies milk is prepped to the right temperature. This is essential and to not own one you might as well not bother ever having a baby. But if you used your boobs, this monstrosity would become extinct. These babies are always warmed up and ready for action. And if you are bottlefeeding, you must always sterilise within the first year as bacteria in the bottles or is it the formula? can kill your baby but you can stop sterilising and just wash with warm soapy water when they are six months old. Or is it a year ? Or 11 months? but who cares about that, why not just give up on the safety evidence and guidelines and stop washing everything when the day comes where your child flings their dummy on the floor when they are 3 months old. One suck from grandma and back in the mouth of babe and never again will a germ affect them.I mean how confusing !

Weaning . The art of food chucking .

And then it’s weaning time. The idea for this whole post came from a conversation I was having with a mum with pnd at a children’s centre. She was so so anxious a about doing everything ‘right’ and she was waiting until her baby was six months before she introduced solids. I waited until six months and do not lie when I say I was laughed at by more than one health visitor because of my stance. I was asked why I wasn’t weaning at four months ,could we not afford food (erm?),that if we didn’t start at four months or earlier that we would have a nightmare to get him ever to eat etc etc. This girl was enduring the same. So , in my work in the perinatal mental field, I have met some amazing health visitors who I trust implicitly. I thought I would ask them what the latest official guidance was. One tiny simple little tweet. ….. Which resulted in , I kid you not, over 140 notifications. I has started quite the row with differing views. 140 tweets about when you should start a baby on solids. Is it any wonder mums are confused? Think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts. The tweets by all these health professionals became very passionate and they all disagreed with other. So how on earth is a mum supposed to know what the right info is ?

And then when you do wean them, what the dickens do you give them? Mashed potato? Birthday cake ? Whiskey in the bottle to introduce them to new tastes? No. You apparently give them baby rice, the international first food. No one is really sure what it is but it has quite the selection in Boots to baffle you and all the leaflets you saw in the gps office says it’s the ideal first food. Baby rice is of such a consistency and some people think it’s full of so much filler that once the baby has had its fill , the rest can be used to hang the wallpaper in Auntie Vera’s spare bedroom. Some say its full of arsenic, destroys your babies gut and research shows your 9lb child will be 57 stone by the time they are 7 should they be partial to the mashed up mess . But the much stops here. Baby rice can fuck off. Welcome to the world Baby Led Weaning.

Yes, get your child to develop a palate with finesse from six months as they gorge on avocado and butternut squash for their first meal sans milk. Will their own hands! Their own hands !!!Purées are so 1989 don’t you know. Throw out those sieves, bin those jars and give your baby a chicken leg to gnaw on. This will mean they will never be fussy with their food and will turn their nose up at chicken nuggets and demand orzo and pomegranate seeds with dried paw paw for their 5th birthday party meal. But then baby led weaning causes babies to choke don’t you know. Dare to give anything bigger than a pea to your child and off to casualty you will go. Blitz up lasagne and Do.not.let.the.baby.attempt.to.feed.self. When they are four and finally decide to eat something with more than two lumps, like a possessed zombie they will spot a happy meal 100 miles away and be magnetically drawn to it.

Sleep. What the hell is that.

Babies and sleep. It’s the thing they don’t do, the thing we really want them to do and the thing that the lack of makes lots of childless , blond haired magic fairies with painted on smiles , otherwise known as ‘baby experts’ very rich. there is Gina, Tizzy, Supernanny,Nanny 911,The Baby Whisper, the baby slipperier, the baby nipper. Even though your baby has been encased in your tummy for nine months , hearing your voice, smelling your smell, the moment they are pulled out, put them in their own room, door shut. Sales of black out blinds have sky rocketed due to one particular baby trainer making out they are key to your baby sleeping through the night as gin is to a new mother (very).

These wonderful wizards think that, even though your bundle of joy has no clue who ,what where or why it is here, it should be forcibly taught how to sleep. Of course this technique which promises you the precious gift of sleep in three nights comes packaged in quite the pretty little present of cutesy names. There seems to be a move away from the harshly termed cry it out and controlled crying. You now have spaced soothing , controlled times crying, the comfort them from afar method, , gradual retreat, the bang on the door so they know you are there method. Whatever they are called , they all involve leaving your child to cry. From what age and how long all depends on the baby guro you follow. Some say it must never be done before the age of six months as it’s cruel to do it before then, others say this theory belongs in the bin and that it can be done from six weeks, the health visitor at baby weigh in has told you that your 9 week old needs to find out who is boss (clue, it ain’t him according to her) and birth boards are filled with mums saying you should def only do from six months, but maybe from three months but never from nine weeks. Another says oh I went I put the milk bottles out and my three week old was yelling. I had a chat with the neighbour about coronation street and came in twenty mins later and he was asleep. So , yeah, do it from 3 weeks. Another says ‘when our kid was two weeks old, we put her in her room and shut the door and let her get in with it. Sounds harsh but she got the idea and we got a takeaway. Win all round’.

Once you have determined that , calculating from the 967 different expert opinions on when best to do it, you set up camp outside the room. And take need of the advice you have been reading. The most important thing you have read is that if your baby happens to cry so much they decorate their new expensive sheets and the wall with vomit, you must remember that apparently yo this is not because they have cried themselves into a terrified state so much that they are wrenching. Of course it isn’t , it’s because they are manipulating you. Yes, your little baby, who can just about move their eyes around and grasp your finger is manipulating you and vomiting on purpose. Shifty little so and so. See quote from a baby trainers book below:

“I often come across a baby who has learnt to vomit at bedtime during failed attempts at controlled crying. If you have one of these babies you will need to teach your child that vomiting will not get your attention or buy any extra time. This is hard, but it has to be done to stop the vomiting. The way you achieve this is to make the bed vomit-proof. Layer the towels in the bed and on the floor so it is easy for you to remove the vomit. When your baby vomits take the top towels away, leaving a second layer in case of a second vomit. If the vomit has gone on her clothing, undress her and put clean clothes on without taking her out of the cot by moving her to the other end. Do not make eye contact or talk to her while you do all this and be calm and confident through out, so you can fool your baby into thinking you don’t care about vomit.”

The little manipulator. Being sick all over mummies precious sheets. Bad baby needs to be taught a lesson. In no way dare look at them. Eyes are bad. Wear sunglasses. Put a sheet over your head. Enter the room hiding under a tent. Sellotape Apple slices over your eyes and put a slick of chocolate where your moustache was before you had it layered off as this will help with the vomit smell. Manipulative vomit must smell terrible. Ensure you punish the offender by leaving them in the cot while you perform the stealth like sheet change over. Thank goodness for the sleep trainer. How on earth did they cope with these manipulators in Victorian times? I’m surprised the human race survived before they came along. I can’t bear the idea of ever leaving joe to cry and was leaned on immensely by medical professionals to do it. But it’s not for me .

The cardinal sin of shock horror, feeding your child to sleep or letting them sleep in your bed. Even though it’s been done since before Ikea was invented and the bed was created, letting your child sleep in with you is the work of the devil and you will eventually have a 12 yr old star fishing over your pillow on one side ,with their football socks offending your nose on the other side. That is if you haven’t rolled on to them in the night in their early years. Me personally? We co-slept from when Joe turned one .He has always slept in the same room as us and now five still does in his own little bed , but he knows he is welcome in the family bed whenever and every night around 4am I wake up to mummmmmmyy, I want come family bed and in he gets, burrows his head into johns aromatic armpit, squidgy arm over me and the little snores begin. Ahhhh. But this works for us . It may not for you. You may not have been comfortable with your child being in the same bed as you and that’s ok. It doesn’t make anyone bigger or better to do things a certain way. It’s all gravy.Joes little mates have their own rooms and love them and I know one day he will have his own and will love it .

We started co-sleeping because of night feeds .Yes, we heard all the shenanigans from numerous different people about how a child shouldn’t be having feeds in the night but the advice ranged from , oh they should be sleeping through from three months, they should be sleeping through from six months, only offer them water in the night blah blah . I had a revolutionary idea one night when I woke up to swig a pint of lemon barley at 2am and trotted back to bed to hear the little man say bbooobbboooiee and I realised, oh yes, my child is a person with a mouth , a tongue and also the feelings of hunger and thirst. Maybe , like me , he is hungry or thirsty in the night . I’d be pretty pissed off if I wasn’t able to walk to the kitchen due to my bones not being developed enough to get there , thirsty and John saying to me “the manual says , that now you are 34, you shouldn’t need a digestive in the night and a glass of water so I’m going to roll over and ignore you while your mouth dries out”.

I often talk about the night john woke me up at 4am with the words of dread when you are encased in the worlds warmest cosiest duvet “I’m hungry”. Why is he telling me I thought ? Because he is a lazy sod and wanted me to get up to get him something. I told him to fuck off and to get his lazy arse out of bed himself if he wanted something. I heard so many pans being crashed about in the kitchen with the end result being the smoke alarm ringing at 4.30 that I took my self out of bed, guided a naked bleary eyed boyfriend back to his bed and proceeded to make him beans on toast for his sanity and mine. I frequently wake up now to find the bed full of crumbs . I have a very attractive husband – I most definitely wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating biscuits – he could eat the whole box of family circle for all I care but the crumbs do drive me to despair. The point I am making is that my child isn’t a statistic. The advice you get from some people about when your child should stop feeding in the night is as useful as a chocolate condom. They all tell you totally different things and only result in making you feel like you have royally mucked up the role that nature has given you . My kid fed in the night until he was nearly three I think. Him being in our bed at times meant I flipped my boobie out and he could use me as a snack shop. Some might think I’m a crackpot but I don’t care. My child, my boob,my head, my bed.

And naps . Give me strength. Don’t you know that when babies are born they should have two 45 mins plus one three hour nap a day ? And the first nap must be no later than 9am . And they must always wake up at the universal baby trainer wake up time of 7am. Well sorry but for me at 7am, I’m asleep. And so is my kid. And it’s staying that way. The cockerel the family at the end of the road own has a mucked up body clock and goes off at 11pm at night and 9am. If he can defy the laws of nature then I can defy you. My kid is asleep? He is staying there until his beautiful little eyes open when his body decides it wants to. You’re welcome. Naps were a most bizarre concept for us. Joe only ever slept once a day and dropped this at one. And never slept at night. I’d read naps in the day equal sleep at night. Erm, well our kid doesn’t sleep in the day or night . Help. I read all kinda of stuff like wake him up the hour before he normally wakes up at night and he will stop waking up when he usually does. Are you following ? And in the day, he must not fall asleep. Oh god. I give up.

I hold joes hand while he goes to sleep. Yes , he is five and doesn’t say at 6pm, goodnight mother and father,I’m off to read the fishing annual and then a chapter of the dictionary and will turn my light of at 7.30 on the dot. At about 9pm,sometimes 9.30 ,sometimes 11pm ,we enter the careful negotiations of bedtime. These involve in a random order-  a bowl of bran flakes,two mister men books, about 8 seconds of boobie, the nightly talk about yes you have to clean your teeth otherwise the dentist will think mummy is a bad mummy who let’s you eat cake for breakfast , a round of kerplunk,a refusal to go to the loo, a ten minute decision about whether he is going to sleep in mummy and daddy bed or his own bed, us remembering we haven’t done his homework, me then having a ten minute moan about the ludicrous school system giving five yr olds homework and that we should go and live in Sweden or pay 8k a year to send him to a Steiner school where he can learn through play or maybe we should just let him draw on the walls. Once he is in bed, he has a sudden poo alert and the whole shebang starts all over again. Once he is in bed again the words we both fear emerge ” can I have two stories from your head”. I’ve got to such a point where I am all storied out that my latest is a bout a boy called Phillip the poo who has accidental gender reassignment surgery after laying down in the wrong hospital bed and being wheeled into surgery to remove his willy. Joe loves it. He says it’s the best night time story ever . I do wonder if the day will ever come when he sleeps.some babies Sleep through from six weeks.this sounds amazing.oh god, that sounds better than an orgasm on the end of a lollipop.

There is a picture of my child at the top of this post. He looks pretty cool doesn’t he. For me, I like the latest guidelines on things, I like research.but that’s me and what I do isn’t what is right for you. My friend Kathryn has a wondrous quote “you just have to love the hell out of them” and she is right.we are the experts on this and we can roll with that . This post isn’t saying what’s right or wrong .just because Joe sleeps in our bed sometimes it doesn’t mean I think everyone should do this.just because he only baths about once a month , doesn’t mean every kid does. It’s saying bloody hell, the advice given to new parents is so confusing and it’s all so different that it’s enough to drive you wild. I’m off to stick my face in a bowl of melted chocolate and inhale some gin. And I suggest you do too. And that I know is good advice. Voila.