Nobody told me…

That you will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. That your boobs will be forever pointing down. Down Boobs will be their new name. That you will never wee alone unless you have planned it, like some covert operation. That even though your yoga teacher or some other birth ‘guru’ told you that your ‘baby is the perfect size for your body,’ your vagina will still split all the way to your arse hole and look more like a cross stitch project, than your previous well groomed lady garden. That your nipples will be so red raw, that you will develop an irrational resentment towards your husband for not being able to lactate. That you will never drink a truly hot beverage again. That your hair will fall out (nightmare). That your period will come back (bigger nightmare). That the chub rub between your thighs will continue to be the ruiner of all Summer dresses and hot days for months (years) after you have given birth. That cycling shorts will save you. That you will now have to bath with 46 rubber ducks and a plastic boat. That you may never bath again. That your sofa will never be clean. That you will no longer think Mr Tumble is a weirdo and that you would actually quite like him to come and live in your house. That Happy Meals and Fruit Shoots are ok and that you needn’t have been such a judgey dick before you had even had kids. That you will forgive yourself for being a judgey dick. That you will never reach the bottom of the wash bin, NEVER, don’t even try. That you will smell like a milky armpit for at least twelve months and that you will probably be ok with this. That one night they will sleep through, but then you will wake them because you got scared. That you will trade your handbag for a nappy bag or a Bag for Life. That at some point you will get actual human shit on your face and someone else’s sick in your pants. That you will have your favourite shows on CBeebies, and you will be excited when they come on. That you will never be on time again. That you will know every word to their favourite book. That you will cry and scream because you are broken and you cannot get up one more time. That you will sit up all night stroking their head because they’re too sick or too tired or too emotional or just too toddler. That you will wish and dream for a moment alone but when they go you will long for their return. That your heart will be so full it could burst. That you will cry when you find the smallest sock that no longer fits. That your exhaustion, frustration and the absolute chaos can be forgotten with a smile, a word or a cuddle. That you will burst with pride at the smallest change and your heart will swell to see them grow. That you will miss those first few weeks. That you will lose some friends but gain the world. That you will change in ways that terrify you but you will like it. That you will achieve things that you never thought possible.

That it will all be worth it.

Want to know what I think?

At twelve weeks in the comments really start to begin.

‘Oh wow you really are looking so small,

has your baby even started to grow at all?’

‘I just do not think you are eating well,’ quickly followed by

‘Oh my god you are starting to swell!’

‘I wouldn’t do that, I would do this…

(Just in case my previous comment you missed)

Do you want to know why I would do it this way?

Why won’t they listen to what YOU want to say?

You are nearing the end, you are tired and feel past it,

but their obsessive prying and comments, I wish they could mask it.

‘They’ll probably come late, at least two weeks over,

I’d just forget your Birth-plan.’

I’m not sure how I kept my composure?!

Baby is here! My world is complete

but still they drone on, they will not be beat.

‘Oh baby looks small, are they not eating well? Wow, look at their belly it’s starting to swell!’

How are you feeding them, bottle or breast? You want my opinion… ‘cus you know, I KNOW BEST!’

The opinions and comments they go ON and ON!

About mother and baby and how things ‘should’ be done.

So next time you see a new mum and her child,

hold on to your judgement and offer your smile.

Lucy

It is not all shit

I feel that it is really important to talk about our mental health. When I write I try to make sure that my posts are real and honest, because it is fucking hard. I often think that anything worth having is hard, this is definitely true with raising a family.

I aim to raise awareness of the importance of our mental health. My own mental health is more important to me than anything else in my life. If it is not good my husband suffers, my children suffer, my friends suffer, the dog definitely suffers, but most importantly I suffer. As far as my mind is concerned I need to be at the top of my game. I neglected my mental health for so many years and it destroyed me. It has taken me thirty three years to realise this and after my recent diagnosis of Autism, I feel that everything is slowly falling into place.

For me it is important to talk and reach out and normalise difficulties when it comes to coping with my mental health. If I broke my leg I would not feel ashamed to go to A&E, if I had a chest infection I would not be ashamed to visit my GP and this is how I am learning to be for my mental health too. However, dealing with any form of mental illness and anxiety may make this incredibly difficult for many people, so I talk about how hard things are because I want others to see that it is ok for stuff to be really tough sometimes. It does not mean that it is hard all the time, a lot of the time it is absolutely Bobby Dazzler, but for me it is important to acknowledge that sometimes things are tough and look for healthy ways to deal with this.

I LOVE my life, my family, my home but I want to normalise the tough times as much as the wonderful times. I want my smiling family photos to be followed by stories of sleepless crap, toddler tantrums and days where the only thing that I have consumed has been eight cans of Diet Coke and a Mars Bar.

For me life is about owning those challenges and difficult times and focusing on ways to make it better for next time. Nothing is perfect, but not everything is shit.

Here we are today after 3 coffees, 2 diet cokes, 1 brew and 2 pieces of cake 🤣

It’s hard, right?

Yes it’s hard

when it’s 3am

and you have finally settled the baby to bed

but then the toddler wakes up

and you start over again.

Yes it’s hard

when the baby is crying

but you are chasing the the toddler

because he has taken his clothes off

and you are in the museum.

Yes it’s hard

when the toddler wants toast but

he has to butter it himself

or it’s not quite right

and the baby is still crying.

Yes it’s hard

when your clothes do not fit

and your hair needs a wash

but the baby needs milk

so you just stay inside watch cartoons and eat biscuits.

Yes it is hard

when your heart breaks

because now you are less

because the toddler needs you

as much as baby does too.

Yes it’s hard

when they are forced to grow fast

even though they did not ask

for this tiny new being

to take over their bed, their routine

and their things.

Yes it’s hard

but it will be ok

because together they will grow and learn and play

and the years will pass faster than the long drawn out nights

sat lonely, wondering… am I doing this right?

Birth Story

Baby Girl

Delilah is now four weeks old, I cannot quite believe it. She is still a tiny little dot, I feel like I am going to break her, it is so strange getting used to a newborn again.

Some of you will be aware that my pregnancy was not an easy ride, I struggled with Hyperemesis from day one and it lasted right through the pregnancy, tapering off finally at about 36 weeks. I still was not quite right up until the birth, it was a complete shock especially after the very easy going pregnancy that I had with Cass.

My waters broke very early on Saturday morning. Will had only just returned from work at 3am and around 3.30am I woke up convinced I had wet myself. I just put it down to a really low point for my bodily functions (there have been a few) and tried to go back to sleep. It was only then that I thought that rather than my bladder and pelvic floor finally throwing in the towel, it was probably my waters. After a quick google (to make sure) I contacted the midwife who told me to make my way to the hospital.

My wonderful sister jumped in her car and travelled nearly two hours to collect Cass, who was over the moon with his early morning adventure. Will and I travelled the short 15 minute trip to the hospital. It was 6am and at this point I was having a couple of niggles but nothing regular, I just thought I would be sent home after a quick check.

The midwife examined me at 6.30am and said I was around 1cm dilated which is normal for someone who has already had a child, but not to go home. She suggested going to Costa Coffee for a brew. Off we went.

We made it to the front entrance of the hospital and I could not move any further, the contractions came from no where and they were fast and strong. I am not really sure how we made it back up to the ward. Lots of people kept offering to help and I remember thinking all I wanted to do was take all my clothes off and lay on the floor.

By the time we made it back to the ward it was 7.15am. I immediately removed all my clothes and got on the floor, I could feel baby coming and the midwife rushed off to fill the pool. I think I jumped in the pool with about 2cm of water in it, this baby was definitely coming and fast. As I felt her move down and her head crown, she seemed to be taking longer than I would have liked. I told the midwife that I needed to push as well as let my body do the work.

At 8am and one and a half songs into my Florence and the Machine playlist, Delilah Paige was born. She was as quiet as a mouse and I could see that the midwife was concerned, so she cut the umbilical cord earlier than planned, thinking that Delilah may need some help. It was then that she let out few squeaks and a huge cry and we knew she was ok.

I was so overcome with emotion and could not stop crying and saying ‘she looks like Cass.’ I kept asking the nurse to check if she was ok, it all happened so quickly, it didn’t feel real. Will took Delilah and had skin to skin whilst I attempted to make my way out of the pool, the after pains were so strong this time I just felt like I could not hold on to her and I wanted to get out of the pool as fast as I wanted to get in it.

The hours following Delilah’s birth were absolutely perfect, we were in an exhausted, shell shocked, blissful bubble. After a twenty hour labour with Cass I just could not believe that Delilah had arrived in approximately two.

The staff at St Mary’s, Manchester were unbelievable and we were home that evening by 7pm. I was mentally prepared for a long, back to back labour with lots of drama, so what had happened was a wonderful surprise. I am grateful for the birth that I had and put it down to my body just giving me a bit of a break after the past nine months.

Hospital Birth Plan

This is my hospital birth plan, I handed it to the midwife on admission to the hospital. Had I been more prepared and gone into labour on time, I would have emailed it to my community midwife so that they had a copy before hand.

I hope it may be of use to someone else.

Birth Plan

ADDITIONAL NEEDS

I am Autistic and would request that the minimum amount of people are in the room as much as possible during labour. I would politely request that no students are to be in the room during labour for this reason.

I have sensory needs and difficulties and for this reason I ask for people to remain as quiet as possible and communicate through my birth partner please. I also request that artificial lights are dim or off during labour but that natural light is available at all times.

BIRTH PARTNER

My birth partner is my husband Will, he will be with me throughout the whole birth and we have written this birth plan together.

INTERVENTIONS

If their are any concerns regarding the progress of the birth or feel that intervention is needed at any point please can you speak with Will first rather than myself.

Please could you allow us some time alone to discuss any suggested interventions before they take place.

With regards to intervention in a NON EMERGENCY situation please can the following be discussed before anything is agreed to

Benefits – what are the benefits to going ahead with this decision?

Risks – What risks are associated with this decision or procedure?

Alternatives – What alternatives are available in this situation? What alternatives are there that might not be available here but might be available elsewhere?

Intuition – What does your gut tell you?

Next or Nothing – What comes next if we say yes? What if we say no and let things progress naturally?

If I require an assisted birth or an emergency procedure I would like Will to stay with me at all times.

POSITIONS

I would like to remain upright and as active as possible for as long as possible. I would like to be on all fours for the actual birth and not squatting. I would like to lie down as little as possible.

PAIN RELIEF

I would like to try to avoid all pain relief for as long as possible. I would like to try and avoid gas and air too but I may change my mind about this. I would like to use the pool during the final stages of labour and not before.

SPEEDING UP LABOUR

I do not want any interventions to speed up labour, I would like to wait and see what happens naturally.

MONITORING HEART RATE

I would like intermittent monitoring with a hand held device.

THIRD STAGE

I would like a natural third stage without drugs. I would also like delayed cord clamping and to be able to birth the placenta naturally.

SKIN TO SKIN/FEEDING

I would like baby to be placed directly on to my tummy straight after birth.

I will be breast feeding my baby and do not wish for them to have any formula at all.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our birth plan

Lucy and Will

I am Autistic

It is National Autism Awareness Week and last month I received my own diagnosis as a person with Autism. I have had Autism since I was born, however I only received my diagnosis at 32 years of age and as a woman I feel that it is important to share my story.

The rate of women and girls diagnosed with Autism compared to men is disproportionate. There are many theories to explain this but it is thought that Autism in women presents differently to Autism in men and the assessment system that is place is outdated and designed for men only. Many Autistic girls and women slip under the radar and never receive the diagnosis and help that they may need. However, there is currently a lot of research and changes taking place with the diagnostic procedure to allow for both men and women to be assessed and supported equally and to meet their needs.

After repeatedly being misdiagnosed with a range of different mental health difficulties I was becoming frustrated and annoyed that I did not have the answers to why I found some aspects of life so challenging. At times I felt like I was watching life from inside a goldfish bowl, I did not really quite understand how others managed to achieve what they did without the problems and disasters I often seemed to encounter.

Certain situations, heightened senses and social interactions were making me have frequent meltdowns, these manifested in many different ways, and were causing me to become more anxious, especially now I had children of my own to care for.

For years I had devised a complicated and stressful ability to camouflage and concealing my difficulties. This ranged from observing and mimicking the behaviour and language of my peers, to over working and overloading myself to breaking point, in order to complete tasks to a high enough standard that no one would ever notice my struggles. I would often camouflage for an entire day, resulting in a meltdown as soon as I had got home. I would then have to spend the whole evening in a state of anxiety and exhaustion, attempting to recharge myself for the next day.

My growing inability to change routine and my frustration at even the smallest, last minute alteration to something as insignificant as what we were having for tea, was beginning to take its toll on my husband and to be honest myself too. I felt like having Cass gave me the strength to say, ‘this is really fucking shit and I’m not willing to do this anymore.’ I needed answers in order to recognise and deal with my difficulties in a healthy way and with a bit more knowledge and understanding about myself.

Since getting my diagnosis I have been trying to unpick a web that is now 33 years old. I understand the main things that I find difficult and challenging, but I do not want to stop doing them, I just have to work out a way that works best for me and my brain. I am learning to be more forgiving of myself and not push myself to breaking point. If there is something that I feel like I cannot do today, then I will just do it the next day or find a way to do it that makes me comfortable, happy and does not result in a melt down.

I am giving myself more time to indulge in the things that I enjoy, my ‘hobbies,’ allowing myself to hyper-focus for large amounts of time on the things I love, without feeling guilty. Having more open conversations with my husband about even the smallest of things that may lead to a meltdown, instead of pushing it to the back of my mind and becoming anxious. The most important thing for me now though is having the confidence to say no to people if I know that I am going to find a situation difficult.

Autism for me is not a mental health condition, a common misunderstanding, it is a neurodevelopment condition that means my brain is wired differently and without the correct treatment and knowledge can cause poor mental health. I identify myself as having a communication, understanding and sensory disability. I believe that without my diagnosis my mental health would have suffered greatly, but this would be a product of me lacking self-knowledge and being Autistic.

This is Autism. I am still the same person I have always been, just better, because now I have more knowledge and understanding of who I am and what I can achieve.

Changes

When you have small children everything shifts, my social life is pretty limited and I just prefer a quiet ten minutes with a brew rather than going for a run or heading to the gym. I am not complaining, I think if I attempted to go on a night out I might actually die and running is definitely out of the question.

A number of years ago I gave up alcohol. Those of you who know me well know that I can put away a few drinks, those of you who know me really well know that that is not necessarily a good thing, I do like a good party.

As I got older I found that drinking made everything so complicated, one night out and a few drinks made me feel terrible for days. Anxiety attacks, mood swings, not to mention memory blanks and all of the embarrassing things I may have done or said. I could not deal with the hangovers or the fall out of a night out drinking.

Giving up alcohol was not an easy thing to do, I had worked, managed and hung out in bars and restaurants for years. I had to change a huge part of my life. What would my friends think? Who would want to hang out with someone who never drinks? I was worried that the boredom alone would kill me.

This was half of my problem, I was worrying about what everyone else would think, how I would be perceived as a sober person. Worrying that I would be judged for ordering a soft drink and driving home rather than drinking all the wine and getting absolutely smashed. I was worried that I would not know what to talk to people about, that I would not be able to dance without worrying what I looked like. Seems silly really, but at the time it felt important.

To be honest though, I was judged, people did make comment. I remember one person telling me that they ‘didn’t trust people who didn’t drink!’ – that said more about them than me though. I did and still do find it really hard, I had to learn about myself and actually become an interesting person rather than a drunk person chatting nonsense all night. I had to spark up witty and scintillating conversation whilst being sober. You learn very quickly who your friends are when you stop drinking and that is absolutely a good thing. You also learn that your drunk conversation would have never been ‘witty’ or ‘scintillating,’ and you were actually giving yourself far too much credit than you deserved.

I have been on nights out sober and danced more than anyone in the room, most of the time people are so drunk they just think you are as drunk as them and to be honest no one really cares. Once someone even tried to take my car keys off me after only drinking orange juice all night. I have learned more about my friends and who my real friends are, because when you are sober you remember everything. You remember stories and conversations and you remember organising when you are next getting together. You also NEVER lose your stuff (well, almost).

I also learned that I do not have to be the last man standing at a party. The worry about leaving early and missing out does not exist when you are sober, because you realise that very drunk people become very boring, very fast. They also become very sleepy and less fun than you remember. I take as much enjoyment as possible from going out and then when it’s over, I just leave with amazing memories.

Being sober is not for everyone and I am not trying to preach about the evils of alcohol. I worked with alcohol for many years and I have a lot of knowledge about the drinks industry and it has been something that has fascinated me for years. I met most of my best friends drinking and working in bars, I met my husband in a bar. However, personally it has been and still is, good to take a break.

There is nothing better than waking up hangover free, remembering all your conversations, not worrying about who you may have offended and how badly your shoes have been ruined and where your phone and keys are. Now I only feel anxious about things that are real not things that I think I may have done or said when I was drunk.

Having Cass has ensured that nights out have been well and truly off the cards for a long time, but I am happy about that. I would rather spend a weekend in the Summer taking him to a festival or be able to get up with him on a weekend without feeling like death. Drinking made everything feel too hectic and stressful. I do sometimes miss going out, but I would miss feeling this good more. There is plenty of time for being wild again when the kids move out!