Tag Archives: parenting

Motherhood – when you’re only a buzz of a phone away from running from the local bounty hunter.

Becoming a mother changes your life in so many ways. You find your boobs become a 24 hour milkshake shop, your stomach resembles ripped crepe paper and you suddenly become an expert on eating the half eaten ends of a fish finger and a tescos value fromage frais whilst catching your toddlers poo that it’s decided to do on the kitchen floor, in your hand , whilst having better negotiation skills than a UN peacekeeper when the 4 year old bites the head of the 3 years olds Barbie and the 3 yr old threatens to wee on the 4 year olds face as pay back. All taking place as you buy your husbands mother a bunch of 50 quid flowers from him to her as he barely even remembers he has a mother.

However, this week, it REALLY hit me that my life has truly changed because of the responsibility of owning a real life kid. A real life kid at school that is. Mine is 7 and I lost the plot and not in a metaphorical way when he came out of the sunroof all those years ago. The overwhelming of him being here forever hit me in the face with a vomit ridden muslin and I ended up with postpartum psychosis and had a lovely stay in a psychiatric unit to help me over the pretty catastrophic bump in the road of life.

I recovered, decided I did love my baby and wanted him to stay forever and then looked ahead and realized it was okay to also want the glorious days of going back to work again eventually and drinking diet coke at my desk whilst laughing at Dave in accounts for wearing a Xmas jumper in November. And then thought , when my sweet child goes to school, life will calm down a tad. I won’t be changing 11 nappies of chicken korma poo a day, the school will cook him a lunch instead of me so I can just give him some dairylea and crackers for dinner and I can spend my 37 hours a week at work being me , Eve, and then come home and watch my boy delightfully play while I merrily spread said crackers with cheese and have him in bed for 7pm as the poor boy will be ever so tired from his long school day.



My daily life, like lots of mothers, is like a melting pile of angel delight left out too long. I adore my child – he is my reason for being and he is like my little shadow. Where I go , he goes. Even work sometimes if school is closed and childcare has a balls up. But I also love using the bit of my brain that worked before I had him and relish going into work. I just don’t think I realized how much life can feel like a food processor on the highest setting whizzing around. All the bits globbing together and there being bits stuck in a corner that need hammering down with a rolling pin.

My day looks like this usually. I do find time to drink a gin whilst doing a poo sometimes and did manage to do the washing up last week but it’s a bit whacko really…..

– After putting in a clothes wash at 1am, I find the child’s school jumper in bath wet. Wring water out and sniff it to see if it reeks of wee (child has been known to position his aim in the air to see if it hits ceiling and wee in his own face and all over jumper) and when find it doesn’t, goes to put on radiator ready for morning. Only to look and see that the front of it is covered in stamped in Spag Bol and rice pudding. After shouting fuck 87 times whilst staring at the washing machine going round and round, I perform home surgery with make up wipes and a toothbrush to get jumper to passable clean stage and hope that teacher doesn’t think my kid is being brought up by feral dogs instead of responsible parents.

– Wake up at 1.40 after feeling warm breath in face. Open eyes to find my child standing at side of bed staring at me like the exorcist and let out blood curdling scream – ” Why are you standing there ? How long have you been there ? ” .Child advises he has been there for 97 years and he needs a poo and can I scratch his bum for him. Said child has been out of nappies for 5 years and manages to shit in the day without ever telling me. I then spend 20 minutes asking child why he has woken me up repeatedly whilst searching for loo roll. Child then stops picking nose on loo to say tell me he used all the loo roll earlier to wrap his Tracy Island model up as it had been attacked by an evil marshmallow mans vomit so “it all gone mummy – my poo finished though”. It’s now 2:15 and there is a meter long poo in toilet that won’t flush and kid is poking it with his sword to break it into chunks whilst naked with poo hanging from his bum.

– I attempt to find emergency make up wipes to clean him but and remember I used them to clean school jumper and have a Blue Peter moment and think ,I will use a sock. Perfect. Explain to 7 year old that it would be good if I could wipe his bum with a sock as it’s likely to go everywhere and a meltdown of epic proportions begins as he bellows he is a big boy and hasn’t had me wipe his bum since he was 3 and why can’t he do it with his hand ? I inform him he used that said hand to spread butter on his bread at Harvester the day before in place of a knife and that shit down fingernails is looked down upon in society. Child bends over whilst I hold nose and use one of husbands expensive socks to wipe poo.

– Get back to bed and child promptly gets in my space and cuddles into daddy. I mention his bed to him and he stretches his legs out further in mine and says I miss cuddles . I get in. Or at least my foot does.

– Wake up at 6am to find husband star fished in bed and child star fished on top of me , making me unable to breathe. Turn shower on to find no hot water so wash self with what is essentially ice and stumble back to bedroom. Look in mirror to see greasy hair stuck to head like an oil slick whilst also remembering that I have the most important meeting of my entire career at 8.45. Shout fuck another 6 times whilst looking for the apocalyptic stash of dry shampoo I bought a few months ago only to find all canisters are empty.

– Get on tube at 6.45am and apply 4 false nails to cover the gaps whilst attempting to contour face. End up looking like a tiger with stripes across my cheeks and see the man opposite me looking at me like I am on day release as I search through my work bag for my lipstick – taking out the two lap tops, the work phone , my phone , the four different chargers , my heeled boots to change into outside the office, my kids football kit, a half eaten flapjack, a Batman figure, an incontinence pad,a sewing kit, 4 packets of nail glue, 2 umbrellas , a piece of tinsel, a tape measure and a partridge in a pear tree.

Get into work at 8am and check diary to see I had written “meet that person then”. How helpful is that to myself eh? I write a facewash status asking people if they has any clue who I was meeting and why. And no one has a clue . Spend majority of day opening and closing calendar and hitting refresh in attempt to work out who on earth I am meeting.

– My kid has been at school for nearly four years. What I have discovered in this time and particularly now it’s Christmas , is that , to the school, my husband is a figment of my imagination. I appear to be the point of all contact at all times and find myself sitting in work writing a 4 page submission for a very senior or person to read , whilst answering my 10,000 emails only for my phone to buzz 5 times in the space of one minute. And then it rings when I’m in a meeting about data security.
After mumbling apologies and thinking it must be the neighbors to say I left my hair straighteners plugged in and the house is on fire or the awful news that a family member has died, I leap out of meeting and call the number back. And then read the text messages …

” A jumper has been found on the ground of the infants playground. Please inform the office if it’s yours”
” Wednesday is dress up as a piece of nature day. Please consider making your child’s outfit to support creativity. Donation of £2 and grateful for as many parents as possible to attend at 2pm to help set up”.

What the ?? My kid is in juniors, I could give a flying jockstrap if a jumper is in the infants playground as does my boss whom I have just walked out on. Phone then proceeds to buzz another 8 times.

“Dear parents , your child’s dinner money owed up to end of this week is £46.85. Please contact the school office”
“Dear parents , you owe £7 for after school club. Please pay the office”
” Dear parents, all payments owed to school must be paid by Friday”
” Dear parents , it’s Christmas jumper day tomorrow . £1 donation”
” Dear parents , school Christmas fayre in main hall after school . Food and drinks to buy”
“Dear parents, a visa/debit card was found in the sports hall. Please let reception know if it’s yours”
” Dear parents , an oyster card was found in the hall. Please collect from the office if it is yours”
“Dear parents , if your child is ill on last day of school, you will need to supply medical evidence or you will be fined”.

– After digesting all them , I phone husband to moan that my phone is so hot with all this activity , I think it’s going to go on fire and ask if he has responded to any of them . Only for him to say ” I don’t get any texts from the school”. He doesn’t get any texts. He collected our kid from after school club and takes him to school every ,lining but I am the one told to pay all the money. DO I HAVE A CUSTOMER SERVICES SIGN SWINGING ABOVE MY HEAD ?????

– When I finish work, I zig zag across London to collect my kid from school, going to the late room first as that’s where my poor kid always is, drawing a pile of cash from the cash point on the way to pay my educational debts , only to get to the school office and be told I was sent another text to say all the money actually needed to be paid by this morning and they can’t take it now. I feel like collapsing in a heap whilst waving my 8767 texts in front of the receptionist in a somewhat manic fashion as I don’t seem to have this highly informative text. I attempt to make a point by charging out of the building only to accidently head butt the door and then having to re-enter the building as my kid now apparently needs a poo.

– I then have to take him to football whilst he eats his bacon sandwich on the bus and knocks 97 year old Mavis in her head with his football boot as the bus swings around the corner. I spend my 2 hours at football on my laptop while counting the goals my kid scores before getting back on the bus to go to the shopping centre to buy the bloody Xmas jumper for him to wear at school tomorrow. Poor child is trekking through a million Xmas shoppers in football studs while I seriously contemplate sewing baubles from the Xmas tree to his jumper and sellotaping tinsel around his head as it becomes apparent that even though it’s Christmas , no shops do Xmas jumpers except John Lewis . And I refuse to buy a jumper that is the same price as our mortgage. Eventually find one in H and M using detective skills and nabbed it from someone else when she put it down to remove her kids coat to try it in him. I snuck up and grabbed it and ran to the checkout like I was on the run from a bounty hunter.

– I then get home and cook dinner, at 8pm (while all the other kids in the land are in bed) in my coat with leg weights strapped on as I have no time to get thin. Potato waffles cook in the toaster on number 5, pushed down three times, ready cooked chicken tikka means I am almost serving restaurant food and baked beans count as vegetables with school dinners so I adhere to that principle at home. The dairylea and crackers scenario that had previously been in my head is now in the bin with any sense of self I had as child is human dustbin and eats approx every 20 seconds. I think the words “I’m humbrie” are etched in my ears forever.

– I stop to have a poo break at 9.15 and kid decides I can’t possibly do this in peace and he must come in and sit on floor to ask if my poo is hard or soft and if there is sweet corn in it. I then get rendition of “My daddy was a bank robber” whilst he asks about Russian politics , tells me about the blitz and presents me with a precious picture of someone with their lungs hanging outside of their body. Spend 2 minutes wondering if this is normal or this is the first sign of my child turning into a psychopath and ask my sister who has had 900 children. She says her son spent a year in an assassin stage and the attention to detail he has shown is quite remarkable. I decide he is normal and then beg and plead for him to go to bed.
Husband has loo break the length of an England match and was undisturbed for the entirety. I dream about throwing things at him.

– At 9.30 child goes to bed and I sit outside bedroom for 40 mins in the dark and do an online shop. Child asks me for bran flakes three times, needs a wee, requires water and then announces he needs to make a habitat for a snow leopard to bring to school tomorrow. I contemplate banging head into a plunger and check the helpful school texts and find I haven’t been told of said habitat homework but the piece of crumpled up paper in his book bag shows me it is indeed true.

– At 10.15, I tell husband to look up snow leopard habitats whilst wondering if an empty cereal packet can transform into one whilst swearing several hundred times. Husband cuts out a shape similar to a mountain and then realize I will need to wake my non sleeping child up at 5.45 to stick some fake snow on the top of the mountain.
Child wakes up at 5am announcing it to the entire neighborhood. I tell him he needs to find some cotton wool for snow and wander into living room to find 25 sanitary towels being ripped up by him and stuck on to the empty bran flakes packet. Have stand off with child advising that I don’t know if mummy’s period nappies are the ideal to be stuck on something that will be on display in school hall. Child outsmarts me and says , they aren’t used though are they mummy and I have to admit to defeat and let the gluing continue.

– Find myself in garden in bra and pajamas to find tiny stones to stick on the bloody habitat to make it realistic. Because I bet all snow leopards sleep in a sanitary towel covered in a bran flakes packet.

– Off I toddle to the shower and I look in the mirror and see my hair is two different colours – my roots are now halfway down my head and I resemble a Jeremy Kyle guest. I just need to lose a few more teeth and I would be perfect for it.

– Get on tube at 6.45 and begin re sticking the nails that fell yesterday an hour after putting them on ……….

I wouldn’t have it any other way I don’t think. Would I? Would you? It’s nuts and wild and I feel like I have been dragged through a blender most hours , minutes and seconds of the day but it’s ok as he will be 18 before I know it and hate me and refuse to acknowledge my existence. I guess it’s the fact that there isn’t an off switch. Ever – even when I am on my period , I have an audience when I am on the loo, explaining to him that the sperm didn’t break through the womb so I have my period again this month. He then spends an hour laughing hysterically whilst announcing he is hungry 27 times . And then he saves some of his dinner to give to the homeless man in the subway and my heart melts as throughout the wildness of it all, I am raising a beautiful child.

It’s constant this mothering lark innit?


My balls ache. And I didn’t even realise I had them.

You often hear the as old as a leather headbag line when someone says they haven’t been well … shhhhhh ‘mentally’. You get “ Oh but you look great, you would never know.” Or “Oh but I saw you liked Kim Kardashians latest instagram post. If you were that ill you couldn’t do that”. The last few months I have been well aware of the public face of all is well in my world of Eve. In reality it hasn’t – I’ve been off work since the end of april with stress. The reasons for my stress have been difficult and it’s something I will be keeping to myself. Because in the end, for me, it’s the effect of the stress that I’ve been working to deal with that is my priority now. So so much more has happened , but some things will remain mine to know about.

Having had psychosis and anxiety , I thought stress for me would be a lesser known cousin that I could destroy with my she-ra mental health powers. How wrong was I . Stress is a total and utter ballache that hurts so bad , I wanted to cut the balls off. Except I don’t have them. I had to find balls I didn’t own even though it felt like a million of them were flying at my face. And stress while having to carry on like all is well, means the balls hit you in the face and knock you over when you least expect it.

I found myself turning into a coping robot – my child was delivered and collected from school each day. My dear  friends Leena and Nellie acted as on call babysitters for my dear child when I needed to visit the doctors but I showered , dressed, wore my best fringed ankle cowboy boots and even re-applied my crystal finished acrylic nails. Nellie held my hand as i sobbed hysterically about life and was my shoulder to lean on throughout.  I collected Joe everyday with a bright smile and regales of ‘” Ooohhh look at your amazing picture of people falling out of an RAF plane and the swat officers running underneath them. What’s that ? An assassin you say ? Oh how cute and marvellous Joe. Here is an ice lolly”. I bought packets of spiralized butternut squash to continue on my quest for supermodel thighs and phoned the mothership every two nights and duly listened to her moan at me for not sending a birthday card to the lady who lives 8 houses down in another country and why can’t you just write all the birthdays down Evelyn ? I sent flowers on obligatory days and answered all the requests that came through to me. While I was doing the UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

And then I would close the bathroom door. I would turn on the shower and I would cry. I cried so hard one day I put my fingers through my hair and as they left it I realised I was holding a clump of it in my hand. My hair was falling out. Having been blessed with an already ample forehead akin to the side of a mountain,this was somewhat disastrous and does nothing for what I still assume is my lost modelling career. Ponytails were now a total non option on the school run. I lost some of my hair when I had Postpartum Psychosis and had to live with a fringe that grew upwards upon the hairs return and I looked like something you would want to pinch the cheeks off and give a lollipop to. I sat in the bath one day in my clothes with the shower falling down on me for over an hour and wondered if and when the feeling would wash away.

I then got my period. Thanks for the extra info Eve I hear you say. And you’re not special as we all get them. But then I got another period .And then 2 more. The doctor sent me to blood test after blood test and I weed on a fair few sticks but it seems my body just went totally haywire and had a technical fault . I felt like I did when I was 9 and got my first period. 9. Yes , 9.Life has been a complete barrel of drunk laughs for me from birth. When I hit puberty, it was as though my thighs had been spread with a mixture of butter and cottage cheese, got four boobs as what puberty hit girl knows about bra measurement and wrote swimming in PE and white trousers off until eternity. I also felt murderous to anything that wasn’t made out of sugar for the next 27 years.

Back in the stress diagnosis on 2017, I found myself staying up until 3am as going to sleep was hard knowing I would wake up wired, but a stressed wire where I had to function on a basic level. Hello Mr Checkout man in sainsburys. Yes Joe is still collecting the lego cards. Oh how kind , 35 packets because you like him, wonderful. Hello son, please can you not lay on the floor of the cornershop because they have run out of rump steak. I know mummy feeds you the food of a king but for once, lets accept the organic cows ares still in the field.

To have a stress filled situation in my life that I have no control over has honestly felt like I have been drowning at times. I went through 3 weeks of fainting which terrified Joe and John. After one such incident, John picked me up off the lego helicopter I had collapsed on and spoke to me gently when I came around. “ Are you okay baby” he asked. I opened my mouth to respond but realised I couldn’t . For around 15 minutes , I wasn’t able to form words. Joe was laughing and then became scared – “Daddy, what wrong with mama. Why mummy making funny sounds, make it stop daddy”. I can remember trying to say what’s wrong and feeling very confused why I couldn’t . I had tears going down my face but couldn’t express my upset verbally – John cuddled me until it passed but it was utterly terrifying.

And food. Food decided it didn’t like being digested.  My body was rejecting everything i was eating which resulted in a half a stone lighter me. Usually, this would be grounds for a fist pump but not at the moment. I have to sit for 30 minutes after each meal to allow for my dinner to stay put and not have a punch up with my stomach acid. That stomach acid made cuts at the side of my mouth – if you attempt to cover these with make up, you look like you’ve orally caressed your toothpaste and its dried out. Lovely.

The GP said my body was shutting down. The hair loss, the bleeding, the constant fainting, the no thank you to my lunches- it was saying I needed to rest, to burst all the balls. And so I did. I stopped everything . I got signed off. I stopped it all and that’s what I needed to do. I’ve spent 2 months recouping and focusing on the importance of recovery and self care. I’ve spent 2 months reclaiming Eve . To the naked eye , I always have been. If I hadn’t been off work, no one would know something hasn’t been right. I wasn’t covering it up – I still want to wear make up and false nails but the make up has helped with the terrible black eye bags.

And I am still Eve. I can still drink 87 glasses of wine and butterfly across the dance floor while shouting about how school attendance awards are a total ball ache whilst googling ‘how come I didn’t realise I dropped a stapler in my bra’. That doesn’t go. But that doesn’t mean someone isn’t ill. I have spent 2 months cancelling dinners with friends. My beautiful friend Sarah came over from Australia and I was due to meet up with her and all my uni girlfriends for dinner and I just couldn’t go. They would have all hugged me and been super supportive ( and have been) but my head wasn’t in the place to do it. I’ve ignored my phone , voicemails and social media until around 3 weeks ago when I felt like I was ready to step a little back into the world I lived in before.

I turned my laptop on for work last week. The first time in just over 2 months. I’m on a phased return and I have missed work enormously. I like going in and eating all the biscuits and toddling around in my pink high heels whilst doing very important work type things. I sit at my desk and yell out helppppp like a 3 yr old when my excel spreadsheet isn’t letting me type in capitals. Some nice poor soul comes over and presses caps lock for me. I could play skittles with the diet coke cans all over my desk and I have 7 pairs of shoes hiding in my drawer that I may have bought on the joint account. Thank you royal bank of husband. You haven’t seen the shoes but they are nice and will remain living at work. My best friend now works in the team and its all a jolly good hoot. And work have been so unbelievably supportive during this time , I will personally buy them all a luxury holiday upon my return. If I ever become a millionaire. They may have to settle for a bag of mini eggs and some bakewell tarts.

They have heard me cry, yell and act in despair and cuddled me both virtually and in person. A few little messages here and there but no pressure to respond and that’s what I needed. My brain was so consumed with the stress in front of me that I couldn’t and still occasionally at times cant respond. My lovely manager calls me each week and if I didn’t answer it was okay. Everything was okay.

I feel incredibly thankful to my team for picking up my work with I literally just walked out on and I haven’t been able to answer any questions about how or why to do things. And so with the tiny amount of work I am doing to reintroduce myself back into my normal world, I am enjoying it. I of course wanted to dive straight back in in a dazzling swimsuit and glitterball earrings but the doc has told me to calm my self down. Though it may feel like I can take great strides, small steps are the name of the game at the moment.

These last couple of months have reminded me both how fragile the mind can be but also how strong it is also and how things do get better and they do get back to the normal you know. With the help of the lovely Dr Stephanie, my own GP , my therapist Rosie , all the happy pills, John , Joe and my friends, things are slipping back into place. I have been to the pub. I like looking at johns nice big strong back.I’ve sworn at the train track clogging up the house. I went for a curry. I had some long island ice teas. Just not everyday.

I also found out I had been awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queens Birthday Honours for Services to Mental Health. I am so grateful to whoever nominated me – it’s such a kind thing to do and I truly love supporting people , particularly mums, with their mental health. I felt happy, nervous, a little panicked when I was then asked to do a press conference as one of the 6 people chosen to reflect this years recipients.

The week before, I had been exhausted and then week of the press conference , I was choosing a pretty dress with flute sleeves to wear . I then went to Kensington Palace and sat in a press conference and spoke about my work. I sat next to Doreen, a pearly queen who has done so much charity work, she could write a book longer than the phone directory. I want to be Doreen when I grow up because she is ace – she told of her colourful and selfless life, with all its ups and downs, while sat there looking amazing in her button covered outfit.

The picture attached to this blog shows the difference in my face from one situation to the next. While I was in my pretty flute dress, I was still unwell. I just didn’t ‘look’ like people think you should look. Whereas the other photo of me looking utterly horrific was when I had just had a meltdown over not being able to collapse a scooter while on hold to Boots the Chemist , while ordering Joe a lamb shish having had 3 hours of broken stress filled sleep. I then had to load the boy, the bloody scooter and the kebab into a cab to take Joe to football practice. When we got there , I kicked the scooter, threw it on the grass and collapsed on Leena and asked her to take over everything. She dutifully handed me a diet coke, sat with me for the hour and loaded me , Joe and the scooter in her car and delivered us home so my brain didn’t have to attempt to work out how to do all that myself.

Being so aware of my mental health means as soon as I saw the signs, I took a step back. I knew it was no time to be brave trekking into work everyday . For the first time maybe ever , I told people I couldn’t do certain things and its only when I stopped I realised how bloody bananas life can be at times.

Life now is racing towards marvelous again but it may be a little while before normal service resumes completely and that’s okay as it will happen. Sometimes, it may look like something is all glittery when actually it isn’t all gold. What you see on the outside might not be an entirely accurate portrayal of how things are underneath . But I guess what I have also realised is that in the face of stressville, I still exist. I can still be me. And emerging from this, I think I have learnt more about myself than all those other encounters . I’ve definitely learnt that scooters are the worst invention of all time and don’t respond to being kicked repeatedly.

Maybe that I need a vajazzle . Just to seal the stay away.

The chronicles of 19865788 Lego blocks while not wearing socks.

In three days, it’s my sons 7th birthday. My baby is no longer that and last night , as I looked at him in bed , with his superman pants sticking out of the bed covers, football socks pulled up to his knees, and handmade reward signs for “bad man wanted , dead or aliv” stuck all over the house, I cried. John came over to me and said he is lovely isnt he ? I said he is, and he wiped a tear from my face. Well , it was more than a tear- a monsoon was gushing out of my tear ducts and I was a blubbering mess. As I felt the salty drops , I said to John “ where has the time gone ?”. So much has happened baby , I never thought we would be here . I never ever thought I could feel such a burst of love for him” and my long suffering pretend hubby said , but here you are Eve , you and your boy , the dream team.

And here we are indeed. Joe’s birthday doesn’t just signify his birth. It signifies me becoming a mummy, John becoming a daddy and also makes me remember that seven years ago, after giving birth , my mind descended into a whirling deep pit of the hell that is Postpartum Psychosis . Seven years on, it reminds me that I am here , I recovered , I survived , I am alive and I am happy. Happy to be Joe’s mummy .

I wanted to write this blog to show my boy I always loved him , even during a time when I could barely remember my own name , I couldn’t remember how to wash myself and when I was lost in a rambling head of confused thoughts. I want him to be able to read it when he is older and know how much he means to me and our family but also to show other mums who may be unwell now , that they will get better and their relationship with their child will be okay . More than okay – it will flourish.

Joe watched when I received a Speaking Out Award from the charity Mind in November . I , alongside my dear friend Kathryn , had worked with the BBC and Mind on a storyline about Postpartum Psychosis on the soap Eastenders and were essentially the experts by experience. Mind and the BBC did a marvellous job of accurately portraying the illness and raising awareness and one of the overriding themes of the storyline was of how much the mum affected , Stacey, loved her baby. It was so important to show this and the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis stress that as serious as the symptoms of the illness are , they in no way mean the sufferer is evil or doesn’t love her child. In no way at all.

Kathryn and I were very lucky to be presented the award , which was a thank for us speaking out about our experiences which informed the storyline . I had told Joe that mummy and daddy were going to an award show ,that mummy would be getting an award and explained to the in laws how to use the modern invention that is the IPad so Joe could watch the live feed. When we got home at 1am, me shoeless but most definitely not wineless , eating a lamb shish with extra garlic chilli sauce and a naan bread hanging out of my mouth, my mother in-law emerged from the lounge and said that they didn’t know I was getting an award but said that Joe sat there for 2 and a half hours staring at the iPad waiting for mummy. As it got to the end , she had said to Joe that she didn’t think he would be seeing mummy and Joe shouted ‘I will. My mummy said she is getting an award and my mummy doesn’t lie to me” and he plonked himself on the floor again and stared at the screen once more. I then did indeed get it , and my mother in law says she looked at Joe, my beautiful little pocket rocket, who has mastered the art of swearing in a non – offensive way ” Mummy – Donald trump is a right ‘ucker isn’t he” and he had tears running down his face. When he woke up in the morning he said ‘Mummy, I so proud of you – you said my name in your speech!’.

He then asked where his award was , when is he going to look around the EastEnders set and why he can’t drink children’s wine to celebrate . Six hours later , after a trip to the trophy shop, I presented him with his own award and he did a thank you speech for us in the living room while dressed up as his self-invented super-hero pants man ( think 18 pairs of pants tucked into another pair of pants , socks on hands , pair of pants on head) .

He then said he needed to talk to me. He kissed my head , asked if I would play shops with him and then said , mummy, when you collected your award last night , why did you say when you gave birth to me , that you were scared of me ? He looked at me and said , I’m not scary mama and my heart stopped a beat. Joe has always known what happened to me and what happened to us when he was born. He knows mummy had a poorly head that made her think things that weren’t really happening , he knows that mummy was a bit muddled up when she thought about things and she needed the doctors to help make her better and he knows that me and him lived in a psychiatric mother and baby unit so I could recover in a safe warm place . We visit the mother and baby unit and go to the bedroom we lived in while we was there. Joe jumps up and down in the cot he was in and helps himself to the biscuits the nurses hand out he knows the mums who are there have poorly heads but that they are there to get better. But what he didn’t know is that I was scared of him.

I have never been one to shy away from telling Joe stuff. I am the parent who explained where babies came from when he was three – ‘What , daddy put his willy into your vangina ???? and the sperm fish raced to the wombs and broke through ? do I have sperm fish? “

We are the family that explained what body parts are which brought about the following encounter one hazy night at 11pm while I was on the sofa in johns tracksuit bottoms , drinking Buck’s Fizz from the bottle. I think it was a Tuesday- totally rock and roll…

‘Mummy , I can’t sleep.

Cue me throwing the bag of chocolate behind the sofa and sympathetically asking why darling ?

“ it’s just that I need to tell you the right word for the vangina . it’s not a vangina or a front bumper. It’s a vulva. Can you say vulva mummy ? you have it so you should be able to.

Vulva darling. I can say it. Thank you for telling me .

No worries mummy, I thought you should know. It’s not a front bumper. We don’t say that”

And off he toddled.

And then there was the epic time we explained how people can love who they want :

“Mummy, why is daddy’s friend kissing that other man on the lips in a movie star kiss like you and daddy ?

Because they love each other like mummy and daddy do. Anyone can love anyone. Boys can love girls, girls can love girls. Girls can love boys , boys can love boys. Anyone can love anyone. And if anyone says they can’t they are idiots okay ?

Are they dicks mummy , the people who think it’s wrong ? Shall we call them the dicks ?

Yes my love, they are the dicks” .

And after allowing him to self-parent and decorate the toilet seat in toothpaste while I spent half an hour attempting to prise my acrylic nails off, he came up to me and said , mummy see that man Bruce on the TV screen ? See him ? He is not Bruce anymore- he is Caitlin. He wanted to be a lady and is now one , so we don’t call her Bruce. She is a her.  She is happy now and isn’t that good mummy?

I was so proud of my boy , so open , so kind to others, so accepting in a world where a man with orange foundation and three mismatched hairpieces has become the leader of the free world. A man who can’t even run his own twitter account is running the most powerful country on earth. But I digress…..

I have always been open with Joe. I want him to know about everything so he grows up being accepting and being aware of himself, his body and be respectful to others who love their differently to us. We have told him what happened to us when he was born so he understands why mummy had to zoom up and down to Nottingham on a train for therapy , so he understands why mummy took 87 pills before bed, so he understands why mummy needs some space sometimes. But I hadn’t prepared myself for him hearing I was scared of him.

I was never scared of you Joe. You with the little sweaty feet, the lovely squishy arms, the cute punky hair. You were and are the most beaut child I had ever seen. I was scared of the thoughts in my head. No one knows quite why but when I gave birth, something happened to my head. It was like someone pulled out bits of my brain , put them in back in with a load of lego blocks and mixed them around like a bowl on Bake Off. I lost the instruction manual to my brain and couldn’t rebuild myself. My head got confused and starting thinking things it didn’t want to – it was like when we were building the Lego millennium falcon- we were putting the pieces together and it got so confusing – so many bags of stuff and we didn’t know where all the bits went and it took 12 hours to build it properly. My brain was a melting pot of mismatched Lego bricks that I kept standing on without socks and hurting myself. I struggled to build my brain back again but I eventually did – and with your help. Hopefull, it won’t break again .Sometimes , some blocks come off and mummy thinks oh ‘ucking hell, why can’t I glue this together forever, but I manage to get the pieces back to where they belong super quick because I know where they should be. Sometimes the doctor, daddy and you help me to put the blocks back in place as well.

So it’s wasn’t you I was scared of– I was scared of my thoughts. I felt like I wouldn’t be a good mummy and when I realised I was to be a mummy forever, this scared me . You know when mummy says she thinks she wants a new job as the one she is in is doing her head in ? Its like that – but I realised my job as a mummy was forever and I was so confused that I couldn’t change this job if I didn’t like it. But I knew I wanted to like to – I had wanted you for so long . I then realized it wasn’t a job, it was my purpose. I am here to be your mummy.

As you get older , you will see and read things about how unwell I was and you may thing , erm , mother , why did you climb out of the window adorned in blue eye shadow while muttering that the clouds were trapping you and why the dickens did you run past Mr Patel’s house with no clothes on and bite daddy’s ankles so he wouldn’t leave the house ? I am aware that your teenage self in a few years will be embarrassed by me and will ignore everything i say even more than you do now but I promise I will try to not run past Mr Patel without my pants again. I would have preferred to not have done this the first time but I can’t change the past. That’s why the woman across the road has her net curtain permanently hitched up day and night – I think she doesn’t want to miss it , should I ever do a repeat performance.

As mummy’s friend Beth says , motherhood has truly been the making of me , but in a way I never expected. I never thought I would give birth and start crawling around the floor convinced I was being buried alive . I never thought I would be asleep in a bed , filled to my gills with anti psychotics In a mother and baby unit . I never thought I would shake when I saw you .But I did , those things happened , but so did my recovery.

I wanted to recover for you. And we must always remember daddy says – even when I was unwell , so unwell, I loved you. I cared for you, I fed you, I begged for help so I could enjoy you , so I could cuddle you. At times I may not have known who or what I was , but I yearned for you. I remember on my discharge from the unit, holding you in my arms , I knew I was getting better. When we entered the unit , I couldn’t close the door and be in a room on my own with you but just a week later , I did just that. It was the biggest turning point in my illness and gave us the first glimmer of hope I then understood.

A few months later , I would travel to Nottingham twice a week with you in a sling on a train – me and you , together. I would go the therapy and I remember calling granddad builder and crying saying daddy, I am getting there , I am getting better and he said , you are hen , you are and its beautiful , me and your man love you . And we don’t just love you , we adore you.

A year later , I went back to work. I had two days off a week with you and spent those days taking you to clappy sing song baby groups. I never knew I would grow to love singing the wheels on the bus 87 times a week but I did . I would count down until my days off with you so we could hang out . Blobs of play dough with raw spaghetti made by your little hands were spaceships and they still and always will take pride of place on the shelves in the lounge.

Seven years on , I could literally inhale you. You have grown from a beautiful baby to the most wonderful independent , caring child. You won your class school council election with a manifesto saying ‘ I think I should be a school councillor because I am a very nice person’ and my love, you are .You give your sandwiches to the homeless man on the street , you waved a placard around at a breastfeeding in public rally and told a newspaper photographer he was rude , you throw lego at the TV when supernanny is on saying that woman is a bell end mummy , take her away and you stood in front of the TV after brexit and said , mummy, what the uck is going on ? .

I could not be prouder to be your mummy. You may be my first child and my last child but you are most definitely my everything . Being unwell after you were born has shown me how much I love you and how much I always have. I was never scared of you mate , I was scared of what the illness did to me.

Always remember this. On your birthday , when I find you in knee deep in squirty cream and a bowl of jelly on your head , I will remember your birthday as the best day of my life because of the family it has made us. Being your mum is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I quite like your father as well.

I was never scared of you mate – how could I be scared of someone who ,when mummies nail glue explodes in her handbag and solidifies over her house keys , doubling them in size meaning they can’t stick in the key hole and she attempts to chisel them out with and toothbrush and a sanitary towel, decides to do their much needed poo in the front garden and wipes their arse with a receipt. You’re just like your mother mate – resourceful, have no embarrassment levels and a quick thinker.

You will go far my friend and mummy will be with you. Remember what I said at the Mind awards? I said you are truly the best thing to ever happen to me. Even when you decorate the house in four unwound toilet rolls.

If I am ever not with you, I will watch this video. With daddy on the drums and you doing your best Rancid impression and I will think , I make a nice chocolate cake , but Joe is definitely the best homemade thing ever.

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.

“My feet don’t smell enough for me to go to sleep”

The joys of a child who has reached the age where he can spell the word sleep but doesn’t quite understand the context. Never has,never will,big hair , don’t care.

Sleep is overrated. I haven’t slept for five years and look at me, I’m fine. As long as I have my 27 quid concealer and inhale diet coke on a minute by minute basis, I’m just dandy. Sleep is to be avoided at all costs. Especially if you are four, it’s midnight and you are jumping up and down on your bed in mike the knight pants,farting and shouting ‘mummy is a bum daddy is a bum,I’m not a bum but everyone is a bum’. I meanwhile want to take myself off to a dark corner somewhere and cover myself in wotsits and have a bath filled with Baileys. No such luck. I’m standing next to the bed holding his hand,while he fires of his list of world changing questions. Forget Question Time. Dimbleby,resign your zany ties,Joe is here to put the world to rights.

I present the list of questions fired at me from the small child while I stood there for an hour,visualising the varicose veins forming in my legs.

I can’t go to sleep mummy because “……
My feet are hot
I’ve got a bogey
My toe near the other toe hurts
Hang on, I need to count the spikes on dinosaur teddy
Why don’t we poo out of our mouth?
I need the cushion from the living room.I can’t remember which one.
Why don’t we poo out our willy and wee out our bum?
What colour is England’s away kit?
Can I have a delicate massage please?
The pillow is too hot
Now it’s too cold
Where does mike the knight live?
At my party I’m having three slices of cake and the other children are only having one
Are we the Christmas religion?
Do I speak West hamish?
I think my bum has fallen off
Can you die after daddy please
I need cold skin
Why is our nose attached to our mouth?
In olden times did the servants buy the milk and say oh hello Mr shop keeper I need some milk please so I can have a bath in it
At my party remember I’m having three slices of cake
Can you be quiet please mummy cos I need to go to sleep

Just woken up.sits up. ‘Mummmmmyyyyyyy’……..

Can we talk about Hitler again
Is muckingham palace the Queens only palace?
When we die are we replaced by new people?
When I’m 99 can I still have my front teeth?
Why do front teeth fall out first?
Why does the security man in Brent Cross stand by the moving stairs?
Can you go now please

And there we have it, sound asleep. My little man. And his lovely little brain. Resting.

He will be awake in 10 mins.