Question…(Destiny’s Child)

Last week I got asked by another woman, a mum no less, “why are you still doing THAT?” A perfectly innocuous question I hear you cry. But the THAT in question was breastfeeding. And THAT was said with such disgust that what she could have been asking was “why are you still mutilating small dogs and locking them in disused refrigerators?” Well everyone knows I am a cat person. Why indeed.

This question really got under my skin. As a first time mum you are always on the cusp of a guilt trip. You are convinced that you aren’t doing it right MOST of the time, so you don’t need any help feeling bad about your choices. But of course I said nothing. Of course. So, warning up front, this may get a bit ranty. How you feed your baby is such a personal decision and there is no one right way to do it. I am still breastfeeding Bella at eight months, and I have got to say I have not felt wholeheartedly supported in that decision. I did not expect to feel bad for breastfeeding. A few weeks ago the Royal College of Midwives announced they were putting new emphasis on supporting mums who bottle feed as much as those who breastfeed, which is great because I think that support is THE most important thing. Whichever way you choose to go, whichever way you can go, as you can’t always choose, will ultimately work for you and your baby and should be supported.

So when I was asked why I was still breastfeeding, despite myself I felt guilty. Maybe she IS too old; maybe if I don’t stop now she will still be supping on my boobs into adolescence. I will have to turn up at her university Fresher’s Ball to make her a White Russian (only classy cocktails for my gal). I will have to live under her dorm bed. I will be a 50 year-old husk of a woman, dedicated only to feeding my daughter, with two spaniel’s ears for breasts. I will be like one of those really sad dairy cows you see on the news, tied to a fence with pumps on their udders for 23 hours a day. The spectre of “Bitty” looms menacingly on the horizon. I need to constantly remind myself that she is eight months not eighteen. I also feel guilty that I am depriving Phil of father-daughter feeding bonding time (although nowadays there is more meaningful time spent over a piece of avocado than milk). And I feel guilty for not getting away from her more often as breastfeeding does tie you to four hour increments of freedom at most. Listen to that, I feel GUILTY that I can’t take time to myself more often…I am actually ridiculous.

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One thing I will not miss about breastfeeding….the classic Friday night spent in with the breast pump, a Magnum and Love Island (well the last two can stay)

So why am I still doing THAT eight months in? Well it’s not because I just love how my veiny, baggy, puppies-in-a-sack boobs look (FYI, so sexy). Firstly it was so ridiculously hard in the beginning that I resent giving it up when it is now easy. My nipples bled for almost four weeks. Bella was constantly sicking up a hideous pink mixture of old milk and my blood. I had to sleep with nipple balm under my pillow so it was warmed up and therefore soft enough to apply at any given moment, before, during and after every feed. And Bella fed a LOT. A LOT. At the beginning she was a classic cluster feeder. At one dark point she chowed down every 45 minutes between the hours of 5pm and whatever time we all crawled into bed. At the end of every night (I say end, ha) I wanted to scream into a pillow whilst simultaneously hitting myself in the face. So because breastfeeding was so hard won, part of me doesn’t want to give up on it now it’s simple.

And breastfeeding is great now, both practically and emotionally. In pure practical terms Bella is a lean, mean, breast-emptying machine. She is done in five minutes flat. And it’s convenient; I don’t have to carry bottles with me, I can just flop out said saggy boobs whenever, wherever (a lesser known Shakira song). It’s also cheaper, nay free. Phil made this very pertinent point, as he and his excel sheet are masterfully keeping us afloat during these perilous statutory pay times. And lastly, someone told me that breastfeeding burns between 200-500 calories a day. With my continued addiction to Nutella and my ball-bag stomach I need all the help I can get. As well as practical plus points, emotionally there is also no doubt I feel close to Bella when breastfeeding, especially when she stops, looks up and beams at me halfway through. Heart. Melts.

Saying all this my breastfeeding days may soon be coming to an end. Why? Because Bella has just developed both two teeth and a penchant for clamping down on my nip like a rabid terrier with a bone. Those teeth might be small but they are like two tiny razor sharp knives when applied to what was once an erogenous zone. This is NOT a fun game. THE PAIN. THE PAIN. So the finish line is in sight, but until then, yes, I am still doing THAT.

Slow down baby, slow down baby (Snoop Dogg)

As a fully-grown adult, knocking on the door of the big 4-0 no less, sometimes it can feel like I have seen it all before. And even if something new does come along, I am far too BUSY and IMPORTANT to stop and care about it. I have EMAILS to send. EMAILS.  So what is amazing about raising Bella is that it has forced me to cast aside my frenetic, commute-hardened fuck-off attitude and slow down to experience those first times with her.  Because babies have seen nothing before and everything is brand new.

Bella’s young life is a series of firsts, from first sip of water (deeply underwhelmed), to first taste of avocado (deeply overwhelmed, in fact she can’t get enough, that’s my nice middle class baby; I didn’t have avocado til my mid-30s. Growing up in Blackpool in the nineties I didn’t even have pasta til I got to university, unless you count Alphabetti Spaghetti), to first roll over (incandescent because she couldn’t get back the other way), to first adult poo (easy to clean up but by god the straining, the straining).   And now we have another first. We took Bella to the playground and she had her first go on the swings.   After trying to gum the chain (natch), the look of amazement and sheer joy on her face as she took that virgin swing was just lovely to behold. Babies really do remind you to stop and relish those fleeting moments that make up life. They are simultaneously feverishly exhausting and an exercise in mindfulness. For someone who used to sprint across London from meeting to meeting whilst bashing emails out on my iPhone and somehow also doing Skype calls, this is a much-needed different perspective on life.

 

So seeing all these freshly minted moments with Bella got me thinking about MY most memorable firsts. And warning, not all of these are baby related.

 

First Memory Ever: My first memory is of my little brother. He must have been under one year old as he was in the pram bassinet, and I must have been about three. We were in the park and I was putting grass in his mouth. Grass. From the ground. My mum also remembers this, less fondly than I do. My second memory is of building a castle out of old cigarettes that I found in the garden. I was clearly a rank and offensive child.

 

First Kiss: Sorry if this is a bit Mizz magazine, but this HAD to go in the list. My first snog was fuelled by a gallon of Diamond White, that infamous destroyer of 90s livers. It was at a young farmers ball (that’s how we rolled in Blackpool). This sounds faintly glam but was actually just a big room with sticky carpet, sodden with the secrets of events past, more sick, alco-pop detritus and fag butts than shag-pile. I vaguely remember kissing some boy with slicked forward hair who smelt of Cool Waters and had a Kappa shirt on, before I proceeded to vomit in EVERY corner of the ballroom. I think my friends just moved me round to avoid detection but I left a trail of vom behind me like a cider-powered slug. Classy. Very classy.

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Oh yes, I was just FLY….

First time away from home: We had an 18-30 (does that even still exist anymore?) holiday to Magaluf in the late 1990s. We were three teen girls released from the parental shackles, free to down Archers and Malibu til we could no longer see. This sunny jaunt was EVERY stereotype you could imagine and more. Lineker’s bars, miming sex positions to win shots of rancid liquor, fry up breakfasts where the hash browns were 90% oil, and Union Jack towels on beach loungers at 8am. On day two I fell off a banana boat, got kicked by a fat man and ended up in hospital with a broken arm. So a raging success then.

 

First Moment with Bella: I will never forget the moment the midwife put her on my chest for the first time, as I lay there covered in ALL of the bodily fluids, so tired I was seeing double. As mentioned in my birth story I did not expect her to come out with full 1980s, eastern-bloc mullet, and the sight of a mini Bjorn Borg (let’s keep going with the old school tennis player references) nestling into me is one that will be imprinted on my memory forever.

 

First Nappy Change: This was in the maternity ward in the middle of the night and I had NO idea what I was doing, convinced that nappy changing was THE most fiendish task in existence. Bella screamed as I took her freshly christened bodysuit off, screamed as I took her nappy off, screamed as I cleaned her, screamed as I put a new nappy on (which obviously took ten minutes) and screamed as I re-dressed her. I was traumatised. Then all the other babies in the ward started wailing and I could hear their mums tutting in disgust at the squalling banshee who started it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work, work work, work, work, work (Rihanna)

So I might be having a mid-maternity leave crisis. I just tried to get my nose re-pierced. I traipsed all the way to this tattoo shop in Earlsfield only to be told by a very responsible man who was more piercing than face that I couldn’t have it done whilst breastfeeding. I was strangely gutted. The last time I had my beak pierced I was nineteen years old and rampaging around the wilds of South America, wearing head-to-toe “local” clothing (the kind that marks you out as anything but local), downing tequila from the bottle and passing out on the street. The “gap” in gap year actually stands for memory gaps. I fear I am trying to recapture a sliver of that heady, heady freedom as I slide irrevocably into domesticity. And I am sliding. Last night after I put Bella to bed I found myself cleaning the kitchen. Rather than sitting down on the sofa with a jumbo bag of Hula Hoops, a well-deserved glass of Gavi and another episode of Say Yes to the Dress, I was marigolded and vigorously scrubbing the top of the washing machine. The top of the washing machine. Then the draining board. The draining board. And then I looked at our bargain washing up liquid and thought “well, it really comes out too fast, so actually although that was cheaper it’s a false economy.”

 

That was how I knew I had changed. Ask Phil, ask my mum, ask my old flatmates, I have never been a particularly conscientious person when it comes to cleaning. Not cleaning myself, there I am on point, but house cleanliness. I mean I am not unhygienic and don’t live in my own swill, but let’s just say I used to have a laissez-faire attitude to it all. One particular highlight from my younger flatshare days was when I let a cup of hot chocolate grow mould under my bed (the kind of mould that is so fluffy it almost looks like a pet you want to keep). It was my flatmate’s Newcastle United FC cup, a treasured piece of Toon Army paraphernalia, but rather than wash it I threw it straight in the bin. At university the cleaner for our halls went on strike after we wore her down with our mould growing antics and our insistence on using the carpets as wardrobes. See, laissez-faire.

 

Since having Bella and being at home more I can feel myself turning more and more domestic. Day by day I feel myself slipping into the stereotype of the stay at home mum as I run around the flat trying to tidy things whilst Bella is either asleep or distracted. Both of these things could end at any given moment so it adds an air of jeopardy to proceedings, like the Supermarket Sweep of cleaning. But this means that you learn to grab every minute you can to DO STUFF, because you might not get a single second, you might get ten minutes or on exceptionally lucky days when a butterfly in outer Bolivia has flapped its wings at the right time, you might get a WHOLE HOUR.

 

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The baby washing is constant and she has a better wardrobe than me!

 

It is also changing my relationship with Phil, as I slide irrevocably into domesticity. Before Bella I saw us as best friends with no real roles. In fact Phil is far better at cooking and far more attentive to cleaning than I am, but now I am evolving into lady-about-house. It is my responsibility to look after Bella, corral the never-ending stream of laundry, mop up the vomit, soak the poo stains, empty the nappy bin, tidy the toys away, sanitise the bejesus out of everything she touches and wash the dishes on a daily basis. And this isn’t because Phil asks me to or expects me to, it’s just a natural evolution because I am at home a lot of the day and I don’t want to spend time in a flat that smells pervasively of baby poo.

 

As well as the daily chores that come as a side dish to looking after a baby, there are also a PLETHORA of daily decisions that have become my responsibility. These are on a spectrum, from tiny choices such as what to pack in her nappy bag (beyond the obvious nappies) to more momentous ones like when we start weaning. Sometimes I talk to myself about these, boring my way to a resolution. Sometimes Phil gets this treat. Last night was a classic example. In what world does which clothes we put her in at night when it’s 22 degrees outside require a 30-minute monologue? “Shall we put her in the sleep suit and the vest? Or just the vest? But then maybe her arms will get cold? And the sleeping bag or just a blanket? And should we open the window, but what about the foxes that make very loud sweet fox love outside her window every night at 5am?” AND SO ON.

 

I never expected us to change into the traditional stereotype of mum and dad, yet it happened within weeks of her being born. This has not only made me question myself but has also really dented my confidence. Firstly I never saw myself in this role, I was WORKING WOMAN, at the office for twelve hour days on conference calls with China with a headset that made me feel like a cross between Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl and a 90s Madonna.  Secondly, I am also fundamentally just not very good at running a household. I am the opposite of a domestic goddess. If there was such a celestial being I think she would be called Hooverite, and she would send me to domestic goddess purgatory to clean public bathrooms with only a toothbrush and my own spit until I got good at it. I am not one of those people who has Tuppawear in different sizes (I don’t in fact have any Tuppawear at all), I always put colours in with the whites and am constantly surprised when nice crisp shirts turn a mottled pink, I seem to iron creases into clothes, and I can’t really wash up properly, my plates always have bits of stubborn cheese stuck to them. I no longer grow mould in receptacles under my bed, but I just don’t have the type of brain that lends itself to efficient domesticity.

 

So I am learning as I go, and some days this stresses me out more than it should and has given me a mid-maternity leave crisis. I am a work in progress. A slow work in progress. Yesterday when washing I turned a white cushion; you guessed it, mottled pink. It will be interesting to see what happens when I go back to work and am not spending twenty hours a day in the house. But for the moment this is the new normal. I am one crinoline skirt shy of being a 1950s housewife. And for the first time I get why 1950s housewives had a well-known addiction to speed.

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Who the f*** is this? Pagin’ me at 5.46 in the morning. Crack a dawn now I am yawning (Notorious BIG)

Nothing can prepare you for those early months with a newborn baby. They are nothing short of a siege, a siege where you are fighting blind. After 24 hours in hospital I was parachuted into an uncharted battle zone with only Ewan the Dream Sheep and my ravaged boobs in the armoury. The time passed in an exhausted fug, the kind of exhaustion I have never known before. It felt like I was constantly at the wrong end of a 48-hour bender (without the bender). I sleepwalked through the days (and nights) in a haze of milk encrusted sweat pants, Hob Nob biscuit crumbs and adult nappies. One morning I even brushed my teeth with Sudocrem.

They call this tumultuous period the fourth trimester (or “100 days of hell”) because the baby should really still be inside you. That’s why swaddling, skin to skin and white noise work so well; we are tricking them into thinking they are still in vitro. Human babies are the least prepared to exist in the real world when they pop out. Just think about those iguanas on Planet Earth 2. The minute they hatch they have to run through a gauntlet of hungry snakes and escape to the beach where the parent iguanas are hanging out, chilling with their piña coladas. RUN. THROUGH A GAUNTLET OF HUNGRY SNAKES. Human babies can’t even hold their heads up. We should be more like elephants – pregnant for 22 months. Actually scratch that, I could not have been pregnant for another second more, I was practically beached at 9 months never mind 22.

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Morning smiles.  If not for these you would just leave them in a puddle

The good news is that this doesn’t last (let’s not forget that everything is JUST A PHASE) but to get through it you have to live just one day at a time. You also learn to look forward to the little things, the small wins that make sleeping in two-hour chunks bearable.

So here are my top five small rewards:

Nutella with a spoon: I have history with Nutella; we go way, way back. At one dark point our relationship descended into addiction. I would eat a whole jar every week with just a spoon (OK fine, sometimes just my fingers). My flatmates would find me huddled in the kitchen pretending to do the washing up whilst shoving dessertspoon upon dessertspoon into my gob. I would constantly find telltale chocolate residue lingering round the corners of my mouth and smeared in my hair. I had to go cold turkey circa 2012. Let me tell you, the Nutella DT’s are not pretty. Despite warnings from my friends Nutella is now back with a vengeance. It is my breakfast food of choice, my reward for getting through the night before.

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Yes, it’s under my pillow….easy access

Clean (ish) hair: Labour left me feeling like I had been run over and then backed over by an aggressive freight train.  Added to that my hair was so filthy it looked like a large, flea-riddled rodent with a fringe had died on my head. So that first shower at home was a beauteous moment. It is also a daily joy, five whole minutes to myself (and by myself I obviously mean that Bella is sat outside the shower cubicle, my own tiny voyeur.)

Walking, walking, walking: I was never a fan of walking, being a destination-not-journey kind of gal. But from our second day home we started going on long walks with Bella in the pram. Even though it was mid-November and the weather highlight was ‘mizzle’ it got my battered, saggy body moving again, albeit at a glacial pace. Five months on, as the weather highlight is still mizzle and a trot round Tooting Common comes with risk of trench foot, I am still walking every day. I must confess it has somewhat lost its charm as the British winter persists into May and I feel like I intimately know every paving crack in SW17. I wish I had invested in galoshes.    Here is a soundtrack for an hour long walk:

Having your food cut into tiny bite-sized pieces: Bella had an unerring ability to want feeding the moment my breakfast/lunch/dinner/any snack was ready. Not able to use both a knife and fork and breastfeed, I relied on Phil to cut and dice my food into small chunks so that it could be eaten with one hand. The alternative was writhing away at my meals like some kind of rabid woodland creature.

ALL of the box sets: in the first three months babies sleep a lot. After you are done with the just STARING at them phase, box sets are essential to maintain your sanity. Incapable of any real thought, I enjoyed proper mind-mush series on Netflix, from Pretty Little Liars (definitely aimed at teenaged girls), to Gossip Girl (aimed at teenaged girls in 2007) and all the series of Friends from start to finish. I also spent a disproportionate amount of time selecting my favourite Friends episode. All I will say is “pivot….pivot…pivot.”

I’m expressing with my full capabilities (NWA)

So, let’s talk about boobs. Yesterday whilst Bella napped I decided I would clean out my underwear drawer (it was that or watch The Bachelor, which I know for a fact actively kills brain cells). After I had consigned to the bin an array of off-white, off-pink, off-cream granny pants I put on a normal bra for the first time in five months. Not for the whole day, not for keeps, but just for fun, because I was nostalgic for the simple pleasure of a Primarché, two-for-£8, fabric so synthetic you need to keep away from open flames, balcony bra.

Post birth, it’s not enough that your stomach turns into a ball sack, your boobs also turn on you. Three things happen. Firstly your size A’s (OK fine, AA’s) turn into veiny, lumpy barrage balloons, at times so bloated that actual sailors stranded at sea could use them to float home on.

Secondly they start doing their own leaky thing, sometimes at the most inopportune moments. Like a faulty faucet they constantly drip, forcing you to invest in breast pads (think Tampax for your bra), which I swear gave me the boob equivalent of nappy rash. I also did not realise that milk would squirt out of the breast like a jet powered shower head with no Off switch, leading to the constant risk of splashback.

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A young Bella (aka Winston Churchill) in a milk coma post breastfeed

Lastly, your boobs are no longer your own, as you effectively lease them out for as long as you breastfeed.  And the start of that rental agreement can be a war of attrition, as your besieged nipples adjust.  Mine were bleeding with every feed at one dark point, and nothing makes you feel worse than seeing your baby vomming up your own blood.  So your boobs are there only to provide the all you can eat breast-buffet (customers of Chez Linds may complain about the lack of variety).  If you aren’t actually breastfeeding, you are expressing breast milk, a process so damn farmyard it will put you off dairy for life. And when your boyfriend has seen your nipples stretched to over an inch long strapped to a pump, there is no longer any romance left in the world. Whatever sexual desire wasn’t killed by seeing a baby rudely ejected from your vagina will swiftly by extinguished by seeing the breast pump in action. Phil can’t watch as I express, for fear if he looks the pump in the eye it will turn him to stone.

Alongside changes to my boobs, I have also made changes to my wardrobe, changes that facilitate the seamless unveiling of a nip at any given moment.  Gone is the plunge, the balconette, the push up, the strapless, the nipple tassels (no? me neither) and here to stay is the nursing bra. This tarp-like contraption is designed to give maximum coverage and is feed ready, with a handy flap that unstraps to reveal boob. It is the mum equivalent of the flasher mac. You could also use it to cover SW17 when it rains.

I also invested in a range of absolutely rank nursing tops; vests with straps that clip undone and T-shirts with flaps of loose fabric that I can stick Bella’s head under. All of these are just plain nasty and despite the breast pads, are constantly milk stained. I now smell like the underside of an udder. You could bottle my odour and sell it as ‘’eau de lait’. I have become one of those people that you avoid standing next to on buses.

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Yep, an udder…

So it was with great joy that for ten glorious minutes yesterday morning I was not a MILK-BOT, I was just a girl in a reasonably priced bra dancing round the bedroom to Trevor Nelson’s rhythm nation grooves. I will take that.

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Happy with the a la carte menu?

 

 

 

 

A diva is a female version of a hustler (Beyonce)

Yes, celebrity requests for only the blue M&Ms, bespoke toilet seats and ironed carpets (Kanye West does not like bumps beneath his feet) are nothing compared to the diva-like behaviour of babies. Only Mariah Carey, who reputedly has an assistant walk backwards in front of her at all times in case she falls over, beats the babies.

So below we have the top ten baby diva demands…

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The baby wears Prada
  1. My room temperature must never fall below 16 degrees and must always be between 16-18 degrees. Leading to the fun games of ‘thermostat roulette’ and ‘blanket off, blanket on’.
  2. My milk should be fresh from the breast. With Bella we had a month long ‘battle of the bottle’, where missy acted like I was shoving an actual turd in her mouth, not a nice bottle filled with lovingly (ha) expressed breast milk.
  3. And if not from the breast, my milk should be from a receptacle that is trying with every fibre of its being to replicate a breast. Bottle teats shaped like nipples, milk heated to ‘straight-from the body’ temperature, and teat rubbed all over the chest so it smells like a boob.
  4. I need distraction 24/7, I must NEVER be allowed to become bored. Why can’t babies just sit in front of the TV and watch Friends like normal people? No, waking hours are about constant distraction. So we move from playmat, to Bumbo chair, to swingy chair, to swingy swing, to jumpy thing, to sofa, and then we start the rotation again. Our lounge looks like the Fun House threw up on it and I half expect Pat Sharp and the twins to burst in at any given moment brandishing gunge and good times.
  5. Wind me. Oh no, babies cannot wind themselves, this is part of the on-demand service, a service which takes HOURS, with more positions than a tantric sex-athon.
  6. Clean my fat folds. Baby fat folds need daily attention or else you run the risk of the cottage cheese phenomenon (clutches pearls in horror). So like you would with the ten tonne women, you strap a sponge onto a stick and get busy up in those creases.
  7. Never sneeze in my presence. Babies go cray cray when you sneeze. Just don’t do it, it’s not worth it.
  8. My bath water must be precisely 37 degrees, or I will LOSE MY MIND (and possibly piss myself).
  9. Hug me, how DARE you hug me, sit me up, how DARE you sit me up, put me on the play mat, how DARE you put me on the play mat, sway with me, how DARE you sway with me. You get the idea.
  10. I will NOT sit in my own filth – OK, this one’s fair enough, neither would I.

Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin (House of Pain)

It has been over five months since Bella was born. I am not going to be a birth-bore and go on and on about the labour, but it is the beginning of our story. It was all in all a very positive experience and compared to some other stories I have heard I consider myself lucky. But the memories of THAT pain still linger, a fading residue round the edges of my consciousness. They say at some point you forget it all; nature’s way of ensuring we continue to procreate. I haven’t yet.

Nothing you read or get told can prepare you for the birth. The only way to describe it is feral. Bella was a surprise breech and we only found out she was the wrong way round when I was 8cm dilated and swearing like a ship-wrecked sailor. The more dilated I got was in direct relationship to the number of c-bombs dropped. I was not composed or graceful in labour, I basically turned into Ray Winstone.

My waters broke at home and it was less movie scene gush, more long leak. For the first five minutes I thought I might just be peeing myself, this being an all too common pregnancy occurrence. But ten minutes later it was clear something was amiss. So we went into hospital, only to be sent home after being told it might take a day or so to kick in. No. One episode of Made in Chelsea later (guilty) I was rollicking round the flat biting on the furniture and dropping class-A swear words like they were HOT. So back to the hospital we went, contracting in the back of an Uber whilst shocking the driver with my unladylike language.

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Bella in frog mode

I didn’t know whether or not I would want drugs before I went into labour, but by the time we got back to hospital I was clear – yes please, all of them, now please. Gas and air, although I am sure fun for a night out, did not touch the sides. I was planning to stay in the birthing suite, which sounded like somewhere you might go for a nice week away, with a double bed, spa music and a pool. But the need for immediate relief and the fact that there was an arse where a head should be meant I waddled like a writhing John Wayne downstairs to the labour ward. There we waited for the man with the drugs. His aggressively long epidural needle gave Phil what my mum would call a “turn”. He went green. The midwives then hastily constructed “Phil’s corner” next to my bed, with a crash mat in case he fainted, a blanket, glass of icy water and a cold compress to mop his brow. I said nothing.

Because she was bum-down, we had to decide whether to go for a C-section or vaginal delivery. I started to get fearful. Labour is such an all-encompassing experience and I was so IN it that I wasn’t really feeling any emotions beyond “get it out” and this was the first time I felt properly scared. If we opted for a C-section Phil would not be allowed in because there was no room in the theatre for him to faint. At this point we both started to cry.

Luckily I then hit 10cm and the decision was made for us. Breech vaginal deliveries are apparently a bit unusual, so as I got ready to push, a gaggle of junior doctors filed into my room to have a butchers at the specimen in action. Despite being barely clothed and on all fours, being British I of course attempted polite conversation whilst ten complete strangers stared at my vagina. “This is Lindsey”…”Hi guys, how are you? Going anywhere nice on your holidays?” Phil stayed at the top of the bed at all times, for which I am grateful. Some things cannot be unseen. My friend’s husband described being at the business end as akin to watching his favourite pub burn down.

The pushing bit only took about twenty minutes and then Bella arrived into this world, bum first whilst simultaneously pooing and pissing (that’s my gal.) We deliberately didn’t know what flavour we were having so the first order of business was “it’s a girl!” Then she was deposited in my arms and immediately mewled her way towards my breast, fully confident in what she was doing even if I wasn’t. She was born with a full on mullet, looking every inch the late 1980s tennis player. I didn’t expect to look down and see a (very) young Andre Agassi sucking at my nip.

That first skin to skin was the most amazing moment of my life so far…beyond knackered, covered in every bodily fluid imaginable, high on ALL of the drugs and just staring, staring at this tiny creature that we had made. And so at 10.15am on the 7th of November, our story began….

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Phil does skin to skin

Allow me to reintroduce myself…(Jay Z)

My name is Lindsey.  And I am a MUM (Caps Lock required.)

When I was pregnant everyone told me that having a baby is the biggest change you will ever experience. As they imparted these words of wisdom I would nod blithely, hearing “blah blah blah”, convinced that I knew what I was getting myself into, then immediately go back to scrolling the Cos website for maternity clothes (Cos are not afraid of a smock), whilst sipping my decaf flat white (I hate myself a little bit). But they were right. It is a seismic change. And I had NO idea what I was getting myself into.

I work in advertising and used to spend 14 hour days trying to sell you things you don’t want or need from sweets to drinks to vagina cream (I feel it’s important to get the word vagina in there early doors). Now I spend 14 hour days in a very different way, as a MUM (Caps Lock still required).

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Just chillin’

What else do you need to know about me? I used to be a breakdancer in a crew called Mean Feet (see what we did there), what my mum used to call my “troupe” despite repeated reminders that troupes were for clowns. And I love all things hip hop and R&B, although I am not ashamed to admit that my music taste stopped evolving in 2001.

I am engaged to Phil. We met on Guardian Soulmates.com five years ago. Before I met him I put a call out to the gods of dating for a 6 foot plus guy with curly bouffant hair (a younger, stretched out version of Jeff Goldblum if you will), and Phil came to order. Sometimes you do get what you wish for, although I had to go on a vast number of painful blind dates with a lot of sub 5 foot 8 guys to get there. (FYI a Cuban heel does not count towards your height for the purposes of internet dating profiles.)

In November I gave birth to Bella (full name Gabriela). Luckily she was a girl, as Phil is half Brazilian and the boys names on his list were a welcome mat to bullying (Ronaldinho and Romario to name but two). Bella is in equal measures a little legend and a little dictator. The moment she popped out, bum first (more about that later) I technically became a mum, but what I have learnt is that becoming a mum isn’t instantaneous, it’s something that evolves, and something that takes two to tango. So this blog is the story of me and Bella, as I become MUM.

 

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