‘I’m stuck on a boy who fills me with joy.. This picture so pretty, But he is so pretty to me’

I don’t think anyone can quite prepare you for how having a baby can affect your relationship.

Over seven and a half years of just the two of us. Of living carefree and not really thinking about anything other than ourselves and each other.

Our first dance was ‘love is easy’ by McFly, and they summed up the first seven years or so of our relationship perfectly.

‘If this is love, then love is easy. It’s the easiest thing to do’

Life was easy for us. We hadn’t really faced any challenges, we’d just sailed through laughing and smiling. So having a baby was the obvious next step and our next big adventure.

Three months before we fell pregnant, my husband was given some horrible news that his Mum only had three months left to live. Those three months were a blur of emotions, travelling and silence. I’ve always been that person to try and cheer people up, but my husband said to me once that he didn’t want me to try and cheer him up, and that’s all I knew how to do and without that, I felt a bit useless.

One week after she died, we got that faint blue line that we had been desperate for for ten months. I did the pregnancy test by myself and I was terrified of how my husband would react. Having a baby was all that he had ever wanted but the timing of it, I just wasn’t sure. However he was over the moon. I kept telling people that it gave him something positive to focus on, and someone said to me that did I think it was distracting how he was really feeling about his Mum and that maybe his grief would all come out some day. I ignored this.

Nine months went by, and my husband was amazing. When I was sick, when I felt ugly, when I was ill – he was right there looking after me, cleaning up after me and making me feel like the most important person in the world. He had always been good at that, making me feel special. But we didn’t talk about his Mum, or how he was feeling about it all, I thought it was best to just focus on the happiness around our baby.

Less than twenty four hours after our baby was born, we realised our baby was unwell, but we didn’t know how unwell. My husband immediately assumed the worst. I’ll never forget having to hold him, while he crumpled in the hospital unable to hold himself together. He said that he had been holding onto the hope of our baby, and that he didn’t know what he would do if our baby died too.

While our baby was in hospital, before and after his operation – once we knew it wasn’t life threatening – we both supported each other, and the same with those first couple of days at home. But I can remember the exact day it all started to change and he started to change.

On the Monday after we had got home, I went back into hospital to get checked over, and I had basically cried all day, I was so tired and was desperate for some proper sleep. My husband said he would stay downstairs with our baby and let me sleep as long as I needed to. The next day I felt amazing and refreshed. The lack of sleep for my husband seemed to continue the downward spiral that had started in the hospital. He became very negative, reluctant to help out, impatient, always tired and almost like he wasn’t there. On the weekends he didn’t want to do anything but stay in bed, and I started to dread him coming home from work.

Stupidly, I thought it was best to struggle on my own and not talk to anyone, and my husband and I still didn’t talk about how he was feeling or how I was now feeling. I didn’t want to shatter the illusion to others that I had the perfect life. I also didn’t want to admit that I felt like it was my fault. It didn’t connect for me that it might be linked with his Mum, I just saw this negative person who found that having a baby wasn’t actually as fun as he thought it was going to be. It wasn’t until World Mental Health Day, and he posted on Instagram that I realised. I felt like I had failed him, I felt like I hadn’t been there for him and I felt so guilty that I hadn’t realised what he had been going through. I’d been so wrapped up in the newborn world of me and my baby. Some people would say that it was natural to be wrapped up in that world, but we’d always been a team, and that shouldn’t change now that we had a baby.

That post on Instagram led to a very honest discussion that evening and we both started taking steps to support each other. I don’t think my husband would mind me sharing that he was put on anti-depressants and started seeing a counsellor.

Four months later and he is now off the medication and has stopped seeing a counsellor. I won’t lie and say that the past four months have been easy, some days have been really hard, but they have definitely been easier than the first two months of our baby’s life.

We are once again a team, we talk a lot, and we are having the best adventures together again. I feel like I’ve got my husband back, and he’s become the dad I always thought he would be. He’s funny, he’s caring, and our baby is the centre of his world. I’ve also realised that I need to stop being so hard on him, on me and on us. We aren’t perfect and that’s okay.

My advice to others out there. Don’t give up. Talk to each other, and to those around you. Love isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

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‘And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine, By being my friend’

‘Friends are the family you choose for yourself’ Jess C Scott

Friendship is a big deal to me. I don’t throw the word friend round flippantly. For me, friendship involves a lot of trust and love, and I don’t make friends easily. I guess it’s an insecurity thing, but I find it hard to trust people as it involves trusting that person not to hurt me, and my friends have the ability to hurt me just as much as my husband and my family.

Friendships can change when you have a baby. Something I’ve sometimes struggled to accept. I’d even suggest that some friendships started changing while I was pregnant. Some friendships I’ve found have grown stronger through pregnancy and since having my baby. But some people don’t get it, some people don’t want to get it and some people just don’t seem to care.

One of the five things I like most about myself is that I’m a good friend, and so – rightly or wrongly – I expect it in return. I care about my friends, so I care about the things in their lives that are important to them, relationships, work, family, children. My baby has become the most important part of my life, and so I expect my friends to care about him as they care about me.

I have friends I talk to every day, I have friends I see several times a week, I have friends I don’t see for weeks and we don’t talk much in between, but when we are together it’s like we’ve never been apart. My friendships all look completely different but I know they care about my baby and I know they care about me.

I sometimes worry that it can be perceived as a sign of weakness that I care so much so I pretend that I don’t. That, twinned with not being a confrontational person, makes me come across like I don’t care at all. When in reality I overthink and over analyse everything, and feeling like I’m drifting from my friends or feeling like they don’t care takes up a lot of time in my head – including at night!

‘People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.‘ Anonymous

I feel like I need to learn to treasure the friendships for however long they were meant to be a part of my life, look back fondly and accept it for what it was.

‘the time of my life, and I owe it all to you’

Live your life today, don’t live your life tomorrow. A wise person once said this. That wise person was me.

Before having a baby, I was guilty of wishing the time away. Wishing for the evening, or the weekend, or a holiday. I’ve always had a countdown app telling me how many days until the next event. In pregnancy, I wished the days away until labour. In labour, I wished the minutes away so that I could finally meet my little boy. In Bristol hospital, I wished the hours away until we were home. For the first few weeks, I wished he would sleep more.

But for the first time in my life, I’m not wishing the time away. I am living life for today and trying to enjoy and savour every single second. Every single precious moment with my little family. I want to remember everything, every tiny detail. The way he smiles at me when I go into him after he wakes up. How he loves touching my face. How he giggles at the most random things like Daddy saying biscuit or me doing some housework. His frustrated face when he is trying to sit up from lying down. His face as we bounce down the stairs, with pure delight, but his hand holding me a little tighter. The way he snuggles into my neck if he’s up in the night. When he’s sat on my lap and looks up at me. The noises he makes when I talk to him. The way he wriggles on the floor like a sea lion. His eyes when we play under a blanket. I want to remember every face, every expression, every sound, every moment. I don’t want to wish for him to be crawling, or walking, or riding a bike, or driving a car. I want to enjoy him as he is, right now. Growing up is inevitable, but I want to enjoy everything along the way.

I know this feeling won’t last forever, and once I’m back at work I will be counting down the seconds until I’m with my boy and my family again. But I know those moments I’m back with him, I will be hoping the time lasts forever.

So thank you sweet boy, for making me realise that every single second matters, and making me measure life not by the next thing I have planned but by the moment I’m currently in, experiencing and enjoying with you.

‘Cause who I am is enough’

What does it mean to be beautiful? What is beautiful? For me, someone is only beautiful on the outside if they are beautiful on the inside. But I think more often than not people associate beauty with appearance and with size.

So does that mean I’m beautiful because I’m small? So why don’t I feel beautiful? Why can I only look in the mirror fully clothed? Why did I so desperately hope my body would change with birth and that I would finally be perceived as normal?

..and if being naturally thin is perceived in society as ‘beautiful’ why have I been made to feel like it’s a negative? From teachers at school, to people that don’t know me, to friends.

Not only has it affected how I feel about myself, but it’s also affected how I feel about eating in front of other people. Even people that I’m close to. Are they watching me, are the judging me, do they think I don’t eat, and as soon as I start that mental rollercoaster I lose my appetite.

The only time in my life where I’ve ever felt confident in my body is in the later stages of pregnancy. I loved the way I looked naked. I loved the way I looked in a bikini. I would stand in front of the mirror in the morning and I felt truly comfortable in my own skin.

However, since giving birth I would say I’ve become even more body conscious. It might sound ridiculous, but I really hoped I still had a bit of a belly afterwards and that I got stretch marks so I could finally be viewed as ‘normal’. No such luck! I fit back into my jeans within days and not a stretch mark in sight. I even asked during the later stages of labour whether there was still a chance of getting stretch marks. Since giving birth most people I have come across have made comments on my body. I know most of the time people mean well, but comments like ‘are you sure that baby’s yours, you don’t look like you’ve had a baby’ actually are not okay.

I don’t think it’s okay to comment on anyone’s body. No matter the size or shape.

My friend Beth, over at The Bump To Baby Chapter, started tackling this subject in pregnancy with #backoffthebump, and has posted the most beautiful photo of her post birth with her newborn, she is challenging people out there and I admire her for it.

Glowie, an Icelandic Singer, recently did an interview with Radio 1 about this exact subject and that is what has finally given me the push to publish after having in my drafts for weeks.

The comments I receive, I doubt will ever stop. I can’t control what other people say, but I can control how I view myself and how I feel about myself. So maybe that will be my new year’s resolution (is it still okay to make these?!), to start loving myself more.

‘Where is the love?’

‘There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family.’ – Elder M. Russell Ballard

Mum shaming. I’ve experienced a little of this throughout my first five months of being a Mumma. From strangers in the street, to other new mums I’ve met, to family to healthcare professionals. Quite often I don’t think people mean to do it, but when judgement is passed or you’re questioned then this is exactly how Mumma’s are made to feel. So far though I’ve been able to shrug it off – until yesterday.

It’s become the greatest compliment I can receive, being told I’m a good Mum or that I’m doing a good job or that my baby is a happy baby and that’s down to me. At the same time, being made to feel that I’m a terrible Mum is the worst feeling in the world.

I’ve heard lots of stories from different Mumma’s. One whose baby had a dairy allergy, which eventually got picked up, but while fighting for that, the Mumma got made to feel like she was the one with the problem and did she actually just want free formula on the NHS. Another one told by a MCA that she was ‘artificially’ feeding her baby. One Mumma was shamed during pregnancy for saying she wanted to breastfeed. When discussing weaning her baby earlier, a new Mumma telling another Mumma that she definitely wouldn’t be weaning her baby before six months and that she didn’t agree with it. While another Mumma was told by a family member that she wasn’t being fair to her child and he was missing out on vitamins and minerals because she hadn’t started weaning her baby. A Mumma who breastfed her baby until 18 months being told that she was ‘bitty’ and ‘disgusting’. One Mumma being told to put her five week old baby in the crib at 7pm and leave them to cry and they would soon get into a routine. One Mumma was even shamed for saying that she was finding motherhood amazing.

My baby has eczema on his back. I’ve been to the doctors about it before but as it wasn’t getting better and had recently got worse, I thought I’d go back. The doctor said that I’d left it too long to go back, that I’d made it worse by taking him swimming, by bathing him, by bathing him in baby bath and using baby shampoo, by not putting cream on before going in the bath. Now while all of that may be true, and unfortunately I didn’t know enough about eczema to know I was doing that (and the first time I took him to the doctor, none of this information was shared with me), he also told me that my baby will be in a lot of pain and this I know not to be true (Though I did question myself initially). My baby is the happiest baby, and one of his favourite things is being on his back playing. He also sleeps thirteen hours a night, which I’m sure he wouldn’t be doing if he was in pain.

I’ve cried a lot since then, and I’ve doubted myself as a mother. Why are people so ready to tear each other down rather than build each other up? There is so much advice and guidance out there, which should be shared in the right way rather than ramming it down people’s throats or making them feel bad or presuming that we actually know it all already. Co-sleeping. Sleeping on their tummy. Swaddling. Breast fed. Bottle fed. Only children. Multiple children. Going back to work. Staying at home. Nursery’s. Eczema.

We should all be telling each other what amazing jobs we are doing. I’m very lucky and I have the best group of friends who are very quick to reassure me and make me feel better. I even had a ‘no 1 Mum’ balloon arrive on my doorstep today.

To every Mumma I know, and every Mumma out there. You are wonderful, you know your baby better than anyone else and the choices you are making are the right choices for you and your baby. Trust yourself.

We are all doing the best we can and that is enough.

‘I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour’

Your mum squad. Your sisterhood in motherhood. Your tribe. Your village. Your 3am crew.

Being lonely was the one thing I worried about in pregnancy. One of my friends had told me it was the loneliest thing she had ever done. I’ve always had a good group of friends but we are all at different stages of our lives or too far away from each other that I wanted to meet new people that I could share my new journey with. Which is why I signed up to The Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal classes.

Four weeks after giving birth I went to my first buggy walk, and that’s how my mum Squad started forming. I arrived on my own, not really knowing anyone. I was terrified. I got talking to another new Mum and we realised that our babies were born on the same day. Birthday twins. We also realised that we lived round the corner from each other – it was definitely meant to be. We agreed to go to our local baby group together the following week. On our walks to and from the baby group we started getting to know each other and realised we had a lot in common, same age, same university, similar degrees, been with our other halves for the same amount of time. I felt so lucky to meet someone that I felt so comfortable with so quickly.

We were both keen to talk to and make friends with other people. Enter the next two people to join our Mum squad. One of the Mum’s walked into the babygroup on her own, and I immediately spotted her and asked if she wanted to be my friend (I wish I was exaggerating). We were sat next to another Mum who seemed a bit quiet so I asked her the same thing. I then did this again with two new Mum’s who came together with their tiny babies. It was then that the Mum squad fully formed and we created a WhatsApp group. We decided we would try and make friends with a new Mum every week and there are now thirteen of us. Thirteen truly amazing Mumma’s. (They reassure me that they love how bold I was and that they enjoyed being taken under our wing).

We buggy walk together, we go to babygroup together, we support each other, we reassure each other, we big each other up, we cry with each other and we laugh with each other. These girls are one of the best things about being a Mumma. I’ve made friends for life.

Quoting one of my Mum squad friends ‘at risk of sounding cheesier than a four cheese pizza, I’m so glad and grateful we met.’

One of the things I love is that all our stories are different. From our age and our background, to our pregnancies and our births. But none of that matters, what matters in that we are all on this crazy rollercoaster together.

Get out there. Go to baby groups, go to the buggy walk. Talk to new people. Find your tribe.

‘Five things I like about you’

Fearne Cotton recently posted the five things she liked about herself, and I also read somewhere that we should talk to ourselves how we talk to our friends. I can easily say what I like about my nearest and dearest. My husband, I like that he can make me laugh until my whole body hurts. My mum, I like that she knows how to say all the right things. My friends, thoughtful, kind, and always there for me. But me, what I like about me, now that is harder.. but here goes.

I like my hair.

I like that I’m a good friend. I like to be there for my friends and build them up.

I like that I’m honest.

I like my laid back attitude.

I know I’m on maternity leave, but I’ve always liked my work/life balance. I’m good at my job but I don’t let it encroach on my life.

It’s taken you maybe a minute to read that, but honestly it’s taken me hours to write. Why is it so easy to write about others but not about myself. If you know me, I’m probably going to get you to think about what you like about yourself too.

The photo is because I like the way I look, and Seb just has the best face 💕