FREE Webinar on How to Ensure Your Children Reach Their Potential

So here it is, ta da <big drum roll in background>!  I’ve been hinting at an exciting announcement coming today and here it is.  It’s funny, this is the end result of 6 months of planning and hard-work, I really hope that you will enjoy it and encourage your friends to join in ..

I am going to be running a FREE 1hr webinar in 2 weeks time on Thursday 17th February from 8-9pm.

It’s on ‘Ensuring Your Children Reach Their Potential‘.

I know that all parents worry about how their children are doing and what will happen to them in the future.  Well, I have a big secret that I know will help you to make sure that your children end up with lives that they love.

<click here to sign up and see a little video of me talking about it>

“How do you know it’s a secret?” you might be saying?  Well, because after attending hundreds of workshops or reading tonnes of books on human behaviour, I’ve only been told this little secret once, and it made my hair stand on end.  Like most ‘secrets’ it’ll sound really sensible and simple when you know it, but it just doesn’t appear to be widely known.

“Whats a webinar?” you might be saying?  It’s really easy, you click on the link, follow the instructions and you’ll get an email with a button to press on the night of the webinar, which will take you to a web page.  You will hear me talking, see some stuff on your screen, and maybe even get the chance to ask me a question via your microphone or a chat utility.  (You will need a microphone on your computer i.e. can you hear things being played on your computer, otherwise you will need to phone in).

“Is it going to be freaky stuff about making child geniuses?” you might ask?  Nope, it’s all about your children being who they would love to be, and getting there before they are 30,40 or 50.  That might well be a child genius, but not necessarily.

“Whats the catch?” the cynics may ask?  There is no catch.  It’s FREE.  You will also get a link to a FREE online course that will help you to apply what I’ll be talking about.  Yes, at some point I will spend 5 mins explaining how I help people to do this directly as clients, as some might be interested to go into more depth, but there will be no hard sell.

“So what do you get out of it?” say those suspicious cynics (who are actually quite wise!)?  Of course I get something out of it, there is no way of giving something for free without getting something, even if it is just to feel good.  I do have an objective, and that is to get the ‘Mummy Whisperer’ message out there into the ether, because I totally believe that it will help Mums, and create a stronger generation of families and young people.

“I’m not available on thursday night?”  Don’t worry, sign up anyway, there may be a way around it (hint hint) for those who have registered for the call.  BUT you must have registered.

“Can I tell my friends?” Yes please, I’d really appreciate it, if you could pass the news around.

“Is it for me, I have a baby/toddler/teen?” Yes, it is for all types and level of Mum.

So Sign Up Now!  And Tell Your Friends, because it will help them too.

<click here to sign up and see a little video of me talking about it>

2010 what a year! Gifts and Challenges all round.

I normally write a letter about my year and send it out with Christmas cards, but this year I’m too late, so instead I thought I’d write a blog post.  Hopefully some of my friends will get to see it.  I like writing this sort of thing, its probably very selfish, but it gives me a great perspective on the year past, before I look to the year ahead.

I was thinking about gifts, as it’s that time of year.  This christmas the focus of the gifts has obviously been on the kiddies.  Curly Headed Boy is 5yrs old and his excitement knew no bounds!  Little Dimples (10 months), got the idea, but tended to cry each time a present was opened, as though each one was almost too good.  The big hits of the year were Kinectimals on the xbox kinect which Santa gave to the family (we’ve been a very good family this year), and the Little Mover pram for Little Dimples, which has had her up and walking instantaneously.  Whilst I was worrying whether Curly Headed Boy would understand that there was more to Christmas than just getting gifts, I decided to think about what I have been given this year instead.

This year has been a big gift and a big challenge, as all years are.  I know that for many it will appear to have been more of a challenge than a gift, but I encourage you to look for as many gifts as possible, as it will start your 2011 better than being desperately glad that 2010 is over (that might sound easy, but I promise it is possible, although tricky on your own sometimes).

The best gift of all was the arrival of Little Dimples to complete our family.  She had a very relaxed arrival in a pool in our lounge, while Big Hairy Northern Hubby and Curly Haired Boy played computer games downstairs.  She lights up the life of everyone who comes into contact with her, and has a bad habit of making people terribly broody.  She is almost irresistable because she is so cute.  I’m amazed that I can definitely love another baby AS MUCH as my first, but how different it is.  With her, she is my ‘sweetheart’, to cuddle close, and enjoy; it’s a very light hearted feeling.  Whereas with Curly Headed Boy he feels like a ‘soul mate’, sometimes so beautiful that he is erie; a bit ‘fey’ my irish friends would say.  How I and Big Hairy Northern Hubby could create such beautiful kids is beyond me.  I am truly lucky, and truly lucky that it happened after such a long wait at 36 and 40.  They are definitely a package, and it wouldn’t be complete without both of them.

Following soon after her birth was the obligatory blip in Big Hairy Northern Hubby’s job.  After Curly Headed Boy was born, hubby was made redundant and was off work for a year.  We almost thought it was going to happen again, but instead his paternity leave was cancelled, and he has been through 3 jobs (same company) and a change of several bosses.  At the moment they want him in the states every other week.  I won’t say what I think of them and their bright idea here, incase I ever have to meet the boss and be polite ;o)

To balance that out, Curly Headed Boy was very settled into his nursery (I moved him for the last year, which was risky), and got an acceptance into a school for reception just before Little Dimples was born (it’s very competitive around here, and a stressful experience choosing schools).  The Mums at his nursery there were amazing in the run up to and after the birth of Little Dimples, and I was inundated by offers of help, so although it’s tricky without any family of my own, I was lucky to have such support.

The next major challenge was me falling big time ill, having to ask for help LOTs, and worrying as they checked me for cancer over several months.  Thankfully it all worked out, which left me realising how lucky I was in comparison to many other Mums.  It’s probably because Little Dimple’s birth was so easy, and with the cancellation of Hairy Hubby’s paternity, I was up and running on school runs within 5 days.  No relaxed bubble with Little Dimples, like I had when Curly Headed Boy arrived.  Definitely a case of ‘don’t do as I did, be a lot more sensible’!

I realised that if I was going to continue to work (it’s tricky when your business is up and running, to take a long time out), then I would need some help with childcare.  After a few false starts and finding someone who turned out to be incredibly unreliable, I really hit the jackpot.  I’ve always said there should be a ‘rent a granny’ site; well that’s what I found, the most amazing irish 73yr old.  She’s be wonderful for Little Dimples, Curly Headed Boy and myself.  She must be the second best gift I got this year, after getting Little Dimples.

I also had help from someone taking care of my other business, as with Little Dimples there hasn’t been space to work that as well as my Mummy Coaching.  I always expected one child to change my priorities and values, but it’s amazing how much a second has done so as well.  I have been pruning, decluttering, and prioritising all year.  With work I have cut back and back, to just focus on what is most important to me, which has been difficult as I was the first person in the UK trained in the Demartini Method many years ago, and I have always felt a sense of responsibility for it.  You are never in-dispensible though, and there are plenty of people to step into the breach now a days.  At home I’ve been ebaying and freecycling like mad.  I’m very lucky to have had someone to help take some of the responsibility, and clients who’ve been patient with us as we tried to improve the communication and my role over-seeing/mentoring her.

All this decluttering, gave me the space to find an online coaching system, which has completely reshaped the way I’m working, and I’ve got a shiny new blog as well.

September was the time for a big change, my hair got a massive make-over, Curly Headed Boy started school, and Little Dimples turned 6 months, which makes things much easier.  Starting reception is such a major thing, maybe for Mums more than the kids; with parties every weekend, letters and words to learn, and new friends to meet.  It’s been more difficult to do play dates as the local soft play shut down, but my new years resolution is to try and fit in at least one per week from now on, as he is still not as settled as he was at his previous nursery.  It is really cute though when they go on their first school trip and do their christmas play, which does help to assuage the sense of loss as they go through this rite of passage to growing up.

I’m going to write a whole other blog about how David Tennant made my day; just to give you something to look forward to!

I have a feeling that 2011 is going to be very different, which we probably all need.  Maybe less intense?  It’s started with me having another declutter, I reckon it might be time for a light detox as well.

Pregnancy Second Time Around

Apologies for people who have read this post before.  I originally had it as a Page on my blog, but I have a big redesign of my blog coming up in the next month, and so I’m cutting down on the pages.  I wrote this over a year ago when I was pregnant with Little Dimples.

So I’m quite enjoying pregnancy 2nd time around, because it is reminding me of how things were with Curly Headed Boy, that I probably didn’t notice as I was so shocked to be pregnant.  It’s surprisingly different, with a few similarities, and so (just for me, to be honest!) I thought I’d keep a record of how it goes!

So far, the main difference is finding out about 3 weeks earlier than before.  Although, it was still a surprise as I was thinking that as I was miraculously lucky to fall pregnant last time, that I might be unlikely to manage it a 2nd time 4yrs later, and with the big FOUR ZERO approaching!  But I did think that I might try in the Autumn, once my business was more settled and I had had a BIG party and holiday.  Heh ho, this baby obviously also doesn’t think to inform me of it’s plans, like it’s big brother ;o)

This time the symptoms hit like a freight train, like all the energy in my body had been removed forever, and the all day nausea returned as a very unwelcome memory, with an added bonus of a constant upset tummy this time round.  Thankfully curly headed boy is very excited and pretty understanding, as he has been broody for a year (he’s 3.5) and told me 6 months ago to take the eggs out of the fridge, Daddy would cook them and then pop them in my tummy!

BabyNo2 prefers healthy food – how weird!  No chocolate thank you, but still partial to salt & vinegar crisps and tonic water.  Plus they must be small portions, which means I’m currently losing weight whilst pregnant, which is a novelty.  Also, whilst curly headed boy was like a lovely hot water bottle in my tummy, keeping my normally cold body warm day and night, BabyNo2 is cccccooooollllld, which means I’m freeeeeeezing!

The ‘baby brain’ appeared instantly, meaning that anything that was perfectly normal for me to remember before, like my keys, turning on the oven, or my diary, is now totally impossible for me.  Obviously my brain is focussed on growing toes and fingers and can’t manage more than that at the moment.

Hubby is walking round looking very mature and obviously feeling like a ‘real man’ as he has now created two offspring; a much greater feat than just one.  In fact his Dad announced that we would now have a ‘real family’, because obviously one child doesn’t count.

I know how the universe likes to maintain balance within a family, so I’ve spent long hours looking at the family thinking, OK, so if we are like this, what are we about to create?  If curly headed boy is read headed and fair skinned, with the performer gene ingrained into him from top to toe, are we going to get a serious little dark headed girl, who is serious and studious?  Last time I had all sorts of tragedy and stress during the pregnancy, which I can totally see created curly head.  So what will a relatively ‘normal’ (so far, touch wood) pregnancy create?  Will it mean that they are more independent from the start, not needing to be held permanently for 3 months?  Or will they miss that spark that he has?

Who knows – got over 6 months to go, so I’m sure there will be even more surprises along the route, which I’ll pop in here as I go.

Handing Your Child Over To Strangers

It’s against everything we’ve ever been told not to do, and everything that a Mother feels is right.  But there we all are, handing our children over to someone we’ve hardly met.

The only reason I have met Curly Headed Boy’s new primary school teacher is because her son was at his nursery in a younger class, but it’s only been a fleeting ‘hello’.  We have no idea what they do all day, apart from the fact that we have provided them with a packed lunch and snack (no hot dinners available, because the council won’t let them build a dining room, arrrgh!).  So far, there is no class list and no time table.  There was a letter inviting us to a 30min meeting next week, where I assume that some of this will be dealt with, and an evening get-together the week after (very difficult to go to when you have a young baby).  So we are meant to be patient parents and wait.  I suspect that if we ask beforehand, we will be considered ‘one of those parents’, and labelled as difficult.

But seriously, where is the respect?  For us as parents, handing over our kids, and for our kids?  Yesterday, in the distance I saw the last child literally being picked up screaming and kicking by a teacher and dragged into class.  I so felt for his Mum, it made me want to cry, god knows what she felt like.  Surely it doesn’t have to be like that with a little more forethought?  No one likes walking into a situation where they don’t know what the hell is going on.  I have no idea whether curly headed boy will end up academically bright, but I am a bit freaky in that I talk to him like a normal human being, so he is used to being told what’s going on and being treated like someone with some rights (not too many of course!!).

Now I see why I was so upset the other day, this school is not matching my values at the moment.  However, then realism sets in.  The whole process of finding a school last year was a nightmare, and in the end he might not have ended up at the one I would have picked that was less traditional, he is very happy to be walking in with so many friends.  Thank god for that, as curly headed boy has 3 mates in his class and I reckon another 10 in the other 2 classes.  Friends are extremely high on his priorities, so this is definitely better than one of the private options I looked at, and both potential state options (our state schools locally are bad, so as we had a choice, we chose not to go for them).

So, I’ll suck it up, wait patiently until next week, and then if by then I don’t have more information I’ll kick off.  But at some point, I think it is only fair to mention that if other schools managed to send out class lists in the summer holidays so that kids could meet, and they are already getting ‘parent mail’ by text/email, then clearly this school is not showing that it values keeping us in the loop or reducing the anxiety of the kids.  They need to be aware of the fact that they compete heavily with a local boys school that doesn’t take kids until next year.  I have NEVER considered it as an option before, but today I’m wondering whether it might not hurt to go and have a look.  In this time of recession it is wise for all of us to remember to consider how our clients/customers feel and reconsider a position of arrogance/strength that could easily disappear.  More updates next week, arggh!

Seriously, Why Am I Crying, He’s Just Starting School?!!!

  • I cried the last morning morning I dropped curly headed boy at nursery 8 weeks ago.
  • I cried when I picked him up.
  • I cried when I bought his school uniform 3 weeks ago.
  • I cried when I cuddled him last night.
  • And I cried when I dropped him off this morning at primary school.

Seriously, what a sap!  Luckily he didn’t notice apart from last night when he said ‘but mummy, there are actually tears in your eyes’, said in his best scientific experimenting voice.  Then he started wondering whether aliens had put them there and off he went on one of his little chats with me before bed time.  As you can see from his picture above, he was fine this morning, if a little serious at times.

You know how you walk out of the house and know you’ve forgotten something, but can’t remember what?  That’s how I feel.  Some of the Mums today were looking sad.  I didn’t see any other tears, but then we were going at different times.  Some Mums where old hats at it, as they already have several kids at school.  A few looked like they were skipping down the path on their way back from the class room!

So I drove home thinking, what on earth it was that makes my heart feel like it’s breaking.  The good news is how fast the last 5yrs has gone.  A very wise man once told me that the faster time feels, the more you must be doing what you love, and I really do love being a Mum.  But the problem is that means that the next 5yrs will go fast, and the next, and the next, and he’ll be off away, followed nearly 5yrs later by Little Dimples.  I can’t grab the time, I can’t hold it.  When I got sick a few months back I realised that one day I would have to leave my kiddies behind, and it was a horrible feeling.

But how lucky am I.  Despite not sleeping through the night for the past 5yrs (Little dimples took over where curly headed boy left off on the sleep stakes), a stone in weight I’d rather be without, lots of new grey hairs, struggling to juggle working and being a Mummy, I know I am just the luckiest ever.  This life works for me, it suits me.  It was blinking hard to come by and a bit of a surprise having been told so young that I’d never have kids.  All my troubles (people don’t go into my line of business without some ‘life experiences’ to encourage them) paid off with a great big pay off.  So, I’m lucky that I’ll be looking forward to picking him up from school.  Some Mums are not so lucky.  The pressures of what the world says they should be like get the better of them, and can create such a problem for their own identity that all the sparkle and love in the world literally gets sucked out.  So these are ‘lucky tears’ really.  OK, now I’m crying because I feel grateful that I was crying, seriously!

This afternoon, Curly Headed boy will be pleased to see me, and hug me just that little bit more tightly.  A bit of distance can bring you together sometimes.  I’ll remember that each time I drop him off and savour the chats in the car on the way to school, and the ability to listen to music on the way home all on my own for 15 minutes (little dimples still screams in the car, so she stays at home; post to come about that!).  Even when he’s big, there will still be a little bit of him that is the baby, toddler or pre-schooler that I’m so desperate to hold onto today.  I know this, because there are days that I would dearly love to have a parent to cuddle me.

Meanwhile, I reckon I’ve found a way to juggle work and mummydom much more easily;  Oooohhh I have so much to tell you from the summer holidays, I’ve got lots of exciting news!  So it’s time for me to wipe my eyes and catch up on emails and plans for the next two weeks.  (Can you imagine what I’m going to be like when Little Dimples starts primary school in 4yrs time, I’ll need a whole box of tissues, not just one!).

Why I Think Mummy Blogs Are Fabulous

There’s tonnes of reasons why I think Mummy Blogs are fab.  I think of a ‘mummy blog’ as one written by a Mum, rather than any other type of person.  They may not even be about mummy stuff, but they will still have a particular slant, which other blogs won’t have.  You can get blogs about babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, children, teenagers, single mums, divorced mums, married mums, stay at home mums (SAHM), work from home mums (WFH), and going out to work mums.

But the main reason I recommend Mums check them out is because they can give a REALITY CHECK, something we all could do with sometimes.  The more honest the blog, the better the reality check.  (How can you tell if it is honest?  If it has both happy and sad, coping and struggling, good and bad days discussed in it).  Reality checks help us to see that the grass is different, but not always greener on the other side, and to appreciate our particular lawn.

So if you are a Mum, and haven’t gotten into Mummy blogs yet, I really recommend you have a go.  They are easy to fit into a Mum’s life, for a quick 2-5min read, and will often give you a much needed giggle.

You can just keep all the URL’s but it’s tricky to keep up to date, so the best option is to either subscribe by email or an RSS reader.  You can do both of those by clicking on the little orange square thingy on the RHS of my blog.

(By the way, if you are subscribed to my blog, you might want to re-do it, as I have just updated my blog to use a different feedburner).  I use google reader, which means I can read the blogs on my macbook air, iphone or ipad (geeky apple household here we come): http://www.google.com/reader/

If you would like a list of places to start, then there have been a couple of lists of the top British Mummy Bloggers and awards recently (all measured in totally different ways!):

Tots 100: http://www.whosthemummy.co.uk/parent-blog-index/

Make sure you add Sally who hosts the Tots 100, as she is hysterical, but not listed in the list anymore: http://www.whosthemummy.co.uk/

Wikio’s Top 20: http://www.wikio.co.uk/blogs/top

The Gurgle Blog Awards: http://www.gurgle.com/articles/Lifestyle/36776/Top_20_mummy_blogs_on_the_web.aspx

Alpha Mummy Top 10: http://timesonline.typepad.com/alphamummy/2006/12/10_great_blogs_.html

Cision top 10 Mummy Blogs (also check out Daddy & Parenting): http://uk.cision.com/Resources/Social-Media-Index/Top-UK-Social-Media/Top-10-UK-Mummy-Blogs/

For people already really into blogs, what are your favourites, or do you have lists you can recommend to my readers?  Are there any other tips you would give people?

Oooh by the way, I’ve never been up for an award for any blog list, sob sob.  I once got listed as in the top 50 mummy bloggers on twitter, but that was ages ago.  So if you ever see any competitions going, feel free to recommend me, plug, plug!

Baby is Eating: To Puree or Baby Lead Weaning?

So ‘Little Dimples’ (I’m trying out new nicknames for my kids, as I’m getting a little superstitious about using their real names), turned 6 months last week and is now onto FOOD, yay!

The question is of course, ‘To Puree or not To Puree’.  My decision is to go the rather laxidazical route of the second child, which is to make it up as I go along and see how it goes.

With ‘Curly Headed Boy’, I didn’t know much about anything asI ‘d had so little warning about the ‘baby thing’, so I just assumed I’d go the puree route.  But after a couple of weeks of baby rice, he had a nasty stomach bug and then refused anything pureed.  I’m a pretty rubbish cook, so I was tearing my hair out making stuff that he then refused, especially as he wanted to be held all the time, so the whole cooking experience was a nightmare.  Then I went to a local Mum’s for coffee who passed him a strawberry when I mentioned my worries (I think that actually anyone with potential allergy issues is meant to avoid strawberries!), and heh presto he munched it down.  So I ended up sort of ‘Baby Led Weaning’, even though I don’t think it was even named at the time.  Which means, I cooked normal food (healthy, no salt etc), and let him help himself off my plate.

The downside is that obviously they can’t get lots of food into their tummies for quite a while (i.e months).  But as I was breastfeeding, it wasn’t too worrying.  The upside was several months later, when Curly headed Boy was munching on anything pretty much, and other Mums were having ‘lump refusal’.

So with Little Dimples, I’ve been letting her munch on cucumber for some time and suck my apples.  This week, I’ve given her baby porridge in the morning and evening, and let her munch on my crusts or some pitta bread.  At lunch time, I’m letting her munch on a slice of apple, or suck my banana into a big mush (she doesn’t like it squashed up); apparently fruit ferments, so it’s best during the middle of the day, which I didn’t know, but luckily was doing things the ‘right’ way around.

For a baby who has only had milk so far, it’s amazing to see her munching on bread, I really wouldn’t have imagined that it was possible.  But she can sit up really well, and has a couple of teeth; and one of my mummy blogger mates (muddling along mummy) said that is a good indication that a baby can manage baby lead weaning.

She is VERY keen on her food!  I’ll let you know which way things go and how she manages over the next couple of months.  My body is already a bit relieved, as I’m pretty sure her demand for milk has reduced just a little.

Hints and Tips Pregnancy

These hints and tips are just things that worked for me, so I thought I would share them just incase they work for someone else, please share them with anyone you know who is pregnant.  Now obviously it is always wise to check with your health professional about any of the supplements and vitamins that I talk about below, as I am not a specialist, just a Mum.

Because I had turned 40 while I was pregnant I was a great deal more focussed on my health.  I was much more vigilant on taking Pregnacare (vitamins specially formulated for pregnant or nursing mothers) extra, which includes Omega3 tablets as well.  I also took a liquid Iron supplement called Spatone for a while (liquid iron doesn’t tend to constipate you like the pills do).  Then when I got more tired I replaced Spatone with Floradix, which is a liquid iron and mineral supplement; much more effective, but also more expensive.  Ironically, I had to be much more healthy this time because unlike the chocolate & crisps I existed on in my first pregnancy (the only thing I fancied when feeling sick every day for 9 months), I only felt well when eating very small portions of healthy food.  The outcome was that within 2 weeks of ‘little pink’ being born, I had lost all my pregnancy weight; but don’t start getting jealous, because I do have the weight from pregnancy no1 still ;o)  ‘Little pink’ also came out nearly 3lbs heavier than ‘monster/angel boy’ and appeared a great deal stronger.  Of course, these outcomes could be nothing to do with my strategies, but hey, it’s possible and I do think that it’s worth remembering that diets are a no-no when pregnant, but you aren’t actually eating for two full sized people when pregnant either!

One thing I didn’t get to do as much of as in pregnancy No1 was exercise, because there just isn’t the time for it.  I was worried, but afterwards realised that just being a Mum of a 4yr old was enough, even with the onset of SPD (hip and pelvis pain due to the body releasing too much relaxin) which meant I wasn’t very active.  But that didn’t seem to cause problems with the birth.

I was really focussed on tieing up lose strings with my two businesses when I was pregnant, so I didn’t do a great deal of preparation.  Then I suddenly realised that if I had wanted to do ‘Hypnobirthing’ that I hadn’t left myself with enough time to do it.  When I looked into it more deeply, I realised it probably wasn’t for me anyway, as due to my training I have heard too many hypno/meditation audios with ping pong music and sickly sweet voices (no disrespect to them, just not my cup of tea).  But I did need something, and having found a scottish guy called ** Andrew Johnson who creates hypnotherapy iphone apps and downloadable audios.  One of my mummy blogger mates introduced me to him on Twitter and I was lucky enough to get to beta test his pregnancy app.  I can therefore definitely recommend his Relax, Sleep and Pregnancy Apps/Audios as I slept brilliantly in the last 2 months of pregnancy (normally very difficult) and was very relaxed in the build up towards the birth.  Of course he has an unfair advantage with the scottish accent, which is naturally relaxing, and I can’t really give an in depth analysis of his hypnosis techniques as I’m pretty much asleep nowadays on his first couple of words.  This is pretty amazing, as I’ve never been the best sleeper, had loads of pain from SPD in my pregancy, and used to find it really difficult to sleep when I’d been woken frequently by a baby.

I was also really lucky to find a Doula a couple of months before the end of my pregnancy, which was cutting it a bit fine if baby had come early!  She also had a pool, which was great as I found them difficult to find.  I thoroughly recommend a Doula if you can afford one, or look for a Doula in training if you are short on cash.  This would be a great use of the cash that you (currently) get from the government near the end of your pregnancy.  If you live near me, then check out Herts Doulas.

Apart from that I didn’t do much preparation, not just because it was my second, but also because you can order pretty much anything online nowadays.  Some big shops have slow delivery times, but ebay and amazon are really quick.  You don’t even have to panic about buying nursery furniture to be honest, because you might end up with kids like mine who never use it (p.s. Ikea nursery furniture tends to be the most reasonably priced, everything else seems to be at a premium).  It really doesn’t need to cost loads to have a baby, you don’t even need to buy an expensive pram as slings are often preferred by little ones.

Here is my Hospital Bag list, which was also for use after the birth if at home:

  • Birthplan, Antibacterial wipes, Energy drink and snack, iphone speakers
  • For baby: 2 vests, 2 allinones, cardigan, hat, gloves, blanket, newborn nappies, cotton wool & wipes
  • For me: Face cleaner wipes, moisturiser, tinted moisturiser, shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush & paste, maternity pads & throw away knickers, 2 nightshirts, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair of trousers, 1 pair flat shoes, 1 bra and knickers, cardigan.

Here is the list of what I was told I needed in addition for a home birth:

  • Waterproof covers (from DIY store), torch, small table, kitchen roll, pampers changing mat (put under seat in loo to deliver placenta into), lots of old towels, bucket.  My Doula provided the pool and homeopathy kit.

This was my list of what to do when things kicked off and I either had regular contractions or my waters broke (I didn’t have to find babysitters for Monster/Angel boy as I was going to have a Doula with me and hubby was looking after the dogs and my son:

  1. Phone Husband if he is at work, plus Mums available to pick up Max from nursery (not necessary thankfully!)
  2. Phone Doula
  3. Start Filling Pool and put on immersion heater just in case.
  4. Phone Delivery Suite
  5. Cancel cleaner
  6. Make sure room warm and baby towel & clothes are on radiator to warm up.
  7. Put on music/tv

The biggest tip I can give you is to take care of yourself.  I know that you will feel guilty if there are things that you are not able to do, but it’s only a while, and it’s worth knowing that you did everything possible to keep yourself and your baby healthy.  Here is a link to my other blog on the birth, incase you fancy knowing how it turned out in comparison to birth no1, which was incredibly different.  Hope these tips are useful, good luck with everything!

** I have just become an affiliate for Andrew Johnson, mainly because I’m likely to recommend him lots and it seems daft not to!  However, I don’t expect it to be massively lucrative, as most of you will be buying iphone apps, rather than downloading the audios, and I’m pretty sure there is no way of tracking those ;o)

The Ideal Mummy Age – 16, 26, or 36?

I was reading a blog by a fellow Mummy Blogger the other day about age and mummyhood; you know, the eternal question about which age is most ideal.  Suddenly it hit me about the weird synchronicities in my life and how there were 3 potential ages and outcomes for my life.

16 – So Nearly A Teenage Mum

It might surprise people to know that I was very nearly a teenage Mum, and therefore can totally understand why young girls make the choice to get pregnant.  Not because of council houses etc, etc, but because of an urge for someone who would love me, for me, and need me for me, not use me. It wasn’t a rational thought, it was a pretty lonely desperate thought.

I was a very bright, slightly serious, very responsible girl, who had been what is now termed a ‘young carer’ from an extremely young age (called an ambulance at 5 for my Mum) and I’d pretty much enjoyed the job, just like all young kids who are so resilient and adaptable to situations.  But when I hit my teens it got much harder to deal with.  During my ‘O’ level revision my Dad had a heart attack, was overdosed by the hospital and ended up in a diabetic coma. Although he recovered, he was pretty sick throughout my exams, plus the family company was being sold.  The day that school finished, my Mum fell over the dog and broke her pelvis.  So I spent the majority of my summer holidays nursing the two of them, as they refused proper help or to go somewhere more suitable.

It was that time of your life where you start to meet loads of new friends and your social life begins to take precedence.  I was lucky, my new friends were willing to come to the house to see me, when I got a break.  But after the stress of exams and a tough summer, I was becoming very resentful.  I remember distinctly the thought running through my head, that if I had a baby, they would want me for just me, not as a potential carer for the rest of their lives.  Now to all the shattered Mums out there, that might sound rather ironic!  But it is different.  I look in my daughter’s eyes tonight and in a way that young version of me was right and I do feel different about nursing her, than I did my parents.

So for the first time I rebelled when we went on holiday, which happened to co-incide with falling head over heels for a summer romance.  The only reason that I did not come back pregnant, was that I happened to fall for someone younger than me (which I didn’t realise), who therefore didn’t take advantage of the potential on offer.  Instead I came back a smoker; hell I needed something!

Wow, life would have been different if I’d tried harder to get pregnant.  I reckon I would have enjoyed being a Mum, despite my age, and as caring came naturally, I would have taken to the role easily.  But so many other things would have changed.  Would my parents have helped, so that I could continue to study my ‘A’ Levels?  I’m not sure, and even if they did, I suspect it would have been delayed.  I doubt the rather disastrous 5yr intense relationship would have happened, as I wouldn’t have been so attractive with a baby.  That would have saved some heartache, but also lost useful lessons.  I might still have met my husband, if I’d managed to continue and do a degree, even if I’d gone for a local one instead, but again I wonder how attractive I would have been with a 4yr old child.

So here I would be, 40yrs old, with a 24yr old child.  They would definitely have left college by now, so I would be free to enjoy my 40’s and make the most of them.  They would have known my Dad for 4yrs and might remember him, and would have had 20yrs with my Mum.  Plus, I would have had a Mum to talk to when I was tired, and upset, and a Mum to babysit or help out when I just felt like I couldn’t cope.  However, my escape from home was combined with going away to do my degree (that was kind of what I’d been working towards since very young), so I might never have got away and stayed as her carer until she died 4yrs ago.  But maybe as I learnt more about her from becoming a Mum myself, we might have found a more balanced way?  Nahhh, I was too young, and I’ve needed to learn a hell of a lot in order to understand human behaviour, especially when it gets all twisted and knarly.  But I reckon I would still have loved being a Mum.

26 – Why Not At The ‘Ideal Age’?

Ironically 3 yrs later I was told by a doctor that I was ‘barren’ and had to take pills for the rest of my life otherwise I would get ‘brittle bone disease or cancer and die’.  So at 26 when I was ‘meant to’ be having kids, (we’d been together 6 yrs, married for 1yr) I wasn’t.  My husband knew from the beginning that there were problems, but I did double check just before we got married.  The specialist said that IVF wouldn’t work, but I could try fertility treatments.  However, ironically if I did fall pregnant there was a high probability of multiple pregnancies, but he thought it unlikely I would be successful.

Now, by this stage I was a stress junkie.  I did not deal well with my Dad’s death, and had a huge discovery about my Mum which turned my life upside down and back again.  I was doing really well in a mega stressful job, and working long days and hours.  I organised my wedding in conjunction with my in-laws, which is just not ideal, however nice your in-laws are.  There was NO WAY I could have handled twins or worse, it just wasn’t worth the risk.  The problem was that everyone said it had to be in my 20’s, and that the slimmest of chances was slipping away.  But we weren’t ready, I was too stressed and it wasn’t a priority for my husband.  I insisted it would be ‘wrong’ to try for a baby just because of age (please do not think that I am criticising anyone who makes that choice – just wrong for us, that’s all).

I am SO glad that we didn’t try at that point, because one thing I am sure of is that I would not have handled it.  I would have been filled with brain noise, and been a prime candidate for Post-natal depression, with no idea on how to tackle it.  I wouldn’t have had time to heal the rift between myself and my Mum, which would have just added to the whole messy emotional state.  Plus, my husband and I went through a key, although uncomfortable, shift in our relationship 10yrs later, and without it, I don’t think we could have had the family that we have today, or the future possibilities.

36 – Miraculous (and again at 40!)

So then we come to the 36 year old, walking up and down a corridor saying ‘Oh shit’ and starring in disbelief at a pregnancy test that is definitely positive.  By now, I’d got so used to the idea of being ‘barren’ that I had totally accepted it, and was sure it was because I’d be a rubbish Mum anyway.  Our marriage had been through some tough times, but my husband had also got his head around the lack of children, and we were just planning our very hedonistic mid-life together when I discovered that I was 2 months pregnant!

I didn’t get much chance to think it through, because during the next 7 months my Mum died (she did see me pregnant) and we moved house.  So there suddenly in my arms, was this little boy.  There was no family to rely on, not many local friends, but most crucially no one to interfere. Everyone said I was lucky to have a boy, because they are so affectionate, and they were right.  I spent 3 months holding him, because he screamed if I put him down, and this little creature taught me how to just ‘Be’ in a moment.  It was certainly hard, but I immediately found out this amazing thing; I LOVED being a Mum, and I reckon I’m pretty good at it what a surprise!

So It’s Extremes That Win For Me

Ironically that means that at 26 I’m sure, I would have been miserable, and perpetuated all the problems I’d seen in my childhood.  Whereas the extremes of 16 or 36, were either before there was too much emotional baggage, or after it was ‘fixed’, giving me the chance to really enjoy being a Mum.  So they are the ages that work best for me.  Makes sense, as I’m not that traditional anyway!

If I’d been 16, I would have no worries about seeing my grandchildren grow up, and would have had more energy, which would be a big advantage.  I had older parents (Mum was 43 when she had me), and there were definitely hardships that I felt due to their lack of health.  But this is where I have some power over the situation at 36, because I have the gift of hindsight.  So, I’m hoping that in the next couple of years (giving me some time to recover from the arrival of another surprise baby 7 weeks ago at 40!) I can shift my pretty good health up several notches, thereby ensuring I still get relationships with my grandchildren.  It’s going to be hard work, but I’m sure it’s possible, wish me luck (ooh, and this time, I might be a bit more careful with that thing called contraception for a while!)

So, is there an ‘ideal’ age?  The obvious answer is no.  But it’s not that easy.  The ideal age for me, was when I was going to enjoy it the most, but I was lucky to get a second chance.  Now that I know what having kids is like, I would probably still go for 26 if it was my only chance, and hope that given time I would be able to fix the problems caused by my stress junkie status.  Maybe that is one of the reasons why I’m so driven to help other Mums who are stuck in that place of discomfort at whatever age; I suspect it has a lot to do with it.

Here’s the link to the blog that got all this going in my head: A Modern Mother ‘Becoming a Mum in Your 40s’)

Arrival Of Baby No2 – A Very Different Experience

Willow Phoebe Rose Pearson arrived on Saturday 13th February at 13.25, at a chubby 9lbs 3oz, at home in our lounge after a very relaxed 7hr labour, lots of chatting and a short dip in the birthing pool.  Hubby and 4yr old son were downstairs during the process, watching films or playing computer games, and popping up to see how I was doing every now and again with more tea for us.  So it all worked out to be a very calm and un-stressful experience.

Now, if you fancy more detailed info, here you go, but feel free to stop here; I know that some friends will be wanting the full monte, and others will be interested in the home birth side, but some of you won’t want to know ;o)

So Much More Relaxed

It was so different this time around, with her picking a daytime arrival (6.30am-1.25pm) versus Max’s evening one (6.30-10pm).  Max was really full on, with me going straight into ‘transition’ 24hrs after my waters broke, no pre-warning contractions, just straight into 1 min contractions every minute.  The rather scary (and noisy, because I’m not good with physical pain!) roller coaster 4hrs included a mad dash for hospital, finishing off in a birthing unit.

Instead, this was a relaxed affair, with the Doula (Nicola Wilson – like an old fashioned midwife who gives additional support during the birth and post-natally) arriving an hour in, and the community midwife (Sarah Loveday – very lovely and relaxed) an hour or two after that.  There was lots of chatting, which I found helped with the pain as it relaxes the jaw (which relaxes the pelvis), along with remembering to eat, drink water and breathe (which I forgot to do first time).  I can see now why those women on YouTube were singing during labour, which might not be my cup of tea, but I definitely recommend humming to music or chatting!

I mainly stood up and leaned on a leather chair, for 6.5hrs, by the french windows (curtains shut obviously!).  It was a beautiful day, and when I got a bit hot and flustered I could open the doors.  It wasn’t where I planned to be, as I thought I would use the big fit balls or a bean bag, but they were useful for the midwife and doula instead!

I also thought I’d go straight in the pool, but things were going so well, that we decided to keep it for when I really needed it, which was only the final 30 mins.  The pool was a blow up ECO small one, which was perfect.  I wouldn’t want bigger, it kept it’s heat all the way through from the beginning, was quick to fill, and very comfortable to be in (both leaning on the sides and kneeling).  Things really ramped up when I got in, which although painful, was NOTHING like the traumatic pain I remembered from before and totally bearable for that short time, especially as I had help from the Doula and Midwife.

Pain Levels

I suspect this is the difference in pain levels is down to some prior preparation about fear of pain, plus being in a much more relaxed environment, with no mad dash for Watford.  I didn’t do ‘hypnobirthing’, but did use some relaxation techniques in the 6 weeks prior (I’ll do another post with information about that), which meant I was well rested. I also did some practical looking at the value of the pain with some of my associates beforehand, which meant that I wasn’t worried about making noise or it hurting again.  Plus with a more gentle build up there was less shock, and I wasn’t lieing on a hospital bed or ‘sitting on her head’ as the midwife called it.  I couldn’t have done anything other than lie down first time round, but now I know a little more about these things, I could have been lieing on my side, rather than on my back.

First time round it felt like someone had a couple of hot pokers and were mixing my stomach with them (sorry for the gruesome details!), whereas this time the contractions were in my back (like period pains are).  It was fascinating as they moved down my back as she moved, which is quite an encouraging feeling.  Plus, we tried an old fashioned tip, which was to check my legs to see how dilated I was.  Apparently, your legs starting getting cold at the ankle, and the higher up towards your knees it goes, the more dilated you are.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not like that model recently who didn’t feel a thing.  That last 20 mins was very intense, but this time I managed to not scream (waste of energy) and keep the noises lower in the back of my throat (which is where you want them).  I didn’t even get heard by the neighbours, unlike last time when I couldn’t speak for a week and could have been heard miles away ;o)

I owe huge gratitude to the fact that I live in St Albans, where home births are pretty much matter of fact, and the midwives get plenty of leeway to make it the best possible experience for mums, that it can possibly be.  Plus in hertfordshire we have loads of Doula’s including really experienced ones like Nicola, which is definitely the answer to the problem of no local family, siblings that need taking care of, potential help after the birth, and additional support during the birth hence taking some pressure off hubby.

Her Arrival

I was leaning forwards at the end, so the funniest thing was as they popped her on my back, and I suddenly realised how come she had taken longer, because blimey she was heavy.  Max had been a little 6lb 10oz baby, and she is nearly 3lb’s heavier at 9lb’s 3oz!  She was also very cute looking as she was delivered in her waters bag, so her head was all cushioned throughout, with no funny squashed look.

As expected she has dark hair, dark eyes (slate grey at the moment, but likely to go brown), and dark skin.  In fact her skin is really dark at the moment, which is because of giving birth at home and having no rush to remove the cord, so she got a lot extra blood etc, than a baby whose cord is cut quickly in hospital.  Whereas Max was obviously red haired, pale skinned and blue eyed, right from the start.  He was whipped off quickly to be measured etc, given a quick feed, and then passed to Daddy while I had a couple of hours of stitching (don’t worry, gas and air is fabulous, it didn’t hurt a bit!).  This time, despite her being a ton bigger, there are no stitches, which is really good news.

The only similarity between the two was the lack of drugs.  Not my plan!  But first time round there wasn’t enough time for them to have taken effect, and this time, I didn’t really need anything until then end, and there wasn’t much point by then.  I was given some homeopathic remedies by the Doula in the pushing stage, which I did think helped me through the last bit.

It was weird to be so much more conscious and able to follow instructions at the end.  I’d seen women give birth on YouTube, and they had seemed so much more involved and able to understand the midwives, but I just couldn’t understand how that could be, as first time around, I was so incapable of understanding anything.  This time I could understand instructions, and move when told to (with a little bit of complaining!).

The Rest Of The Family

Max and David had fun playing computer games and watching films.  David did a fab job of keeping everyone fed and watered, meanwhile Max would pop up to check on us, announce something funny and then disappear back downstairs.  I did suggest that they go out near the end, but unbeknown to me the Doula counteracted that, which I am really grateful for.  I was worried I might make noise and scare Max, but in fact they hardly heard anything, and it meant that they arrived in the lounge, almost immediately after her entrance into the world.  Willow and I cuddled for a quite some time in the pool, with Max leaning over.  He was really chuffed, not bothered by the pool being a slightly bloody colour at all.  In fact it was only later on that he got slightly upset, but we discovered it was just because he insists that she should wear pink or cute stuff, and he didn’t like the outfit that we had picked!

The dogs got treated to a lovely long walk by our dog walker, so they were pretty exhausted that night.  However, the Labradoodle noticed her immediately, and is already watching over her with great concern if she issues the smallest of squeaks.  The Spaniel took 2 days to notice her, and is just a little annoyed that she tends to take up space on the sofa, but thinks that she smells nice.

Afterwards

Once the cord had stopped pulsing, we decided to get out, and were put in a lovely cocoon of towels, while I fed her.  An hour later, I popped off to the bathroom and the placenta arrived very quickly, so there was no need for an injection.  Then I had a lovely shower, and got all cleaned up.  Meanwhile the Doula and two midwives (the second midwife didn’t arrive until just after she was born, because once she decided it was time to push, she only took 20mins, so there wasn’t a lot of notice) had tidied everything, fed me, and the pool had already been emptied and disassembled by David and Max.

It’s a lovely feeling to be at home, in the peace and quiet and not have to go anywhere.  Despite it being pretty easy, I did feel a little shaky afterwards for a couple of days, so it’s lovely to be all snuggled on your own sofa, with your baby and family.

The Next Week

Willow ‘mewed’ her way through her first 24hrs, with lots of little squeaky noises whether she was asleep or awake.  She has a set of lungs on her, but her wail is gentle in comparison to Max’s, which would go from 0 to 100 decibels in a matter of 5 seconds.  She wasn’t impressed by bodily functions like puking (delicately of course!), or pooing, but has found that if she sucks my finger it is a much more lady like way of winding herself than burping.

Max is a little sensitive, but has been wonderful with her.  Having no younger siblings myself, I’m amazed at how genuinely he loved her immediately, and how gentle he is when he holds or touches her.  Although it is half-term, he has been attending drama camp this week (same days as nursery), which has given him some normalcy, plus he got invited out for a ‘play-date’ on his own, which he adored (thanks Clare!).  We are co-sleeping just as he planned, and at the moment he would prefer Willow and I to stay in the room, even if she is being a little fractious; we’ll see how that goes.

David has had a tough time, as the day after Willow was born, it was announced that his company were shutting down the division that he had moved to 14 days previously.  Despite him supposedly being on paternity leave, he has repeatedly had to work late into the night, and attend teleconferences during the day in order to help out the different factions.  It would definitely be kind of fun to get a chance to be locked in a room with his main boss at the moment, what with the hormonal soup that week1 after a baby is born can be.  But don’t worry about us, David was made redundant 6 weeks after Max was born, so if the worst possible scenario happens, it just means that he gets the same opportunity to spend time with Willow.  Meanwhile, the Mums at Max’s nursery have all kindly offered to help with the nursery runs next week, so I don’t have to handle the a total return to normalcy when David goes ‘back’ to work, or in his case, actually has to go into London to work.

David’s parents turned up excitedly the night that Willow was born, and the next day were joined briefly by his sister and her 2 teenage kids.  But since monday afternoon we have had a quieter time of it, and are gradually getting our heads around how a family works with an additional pink bundle (she is definitely a rather cute bundle, whereas Max was nick named ‘alien bug’ for the first few weeks of his life!).  Hopefully, one of my brothers will be able to make it to meet her next week.

With Max I remember the first two weeks being totally cocooned with him for the most blissful weeks of my life.  That’s not a possibility with paternity leaves being cancelled, and reappearing, and then cancelled again, along with the reality of already having a 4yr old.  But generally, just as with her birth, it’s a slower, more relaxed if less intense experience (so far, that is!).

Note: Every couple of months I’ll post another blog on our progress and the differences/similarities second time around (mainly as a diary for me, but it might be interesting for people thinking of having a second), so if you fancy keeping up to date with our journey you might want to subscribe.