time flies when you're being a mum


Pregnancy week by week

Curveball Tuesday


The other part of the 2-parter

01 May, 2018

Back in March you may (or not) remember this article I wrote about facing your fears. It started out as a diary entry to document a really funny week and in it I referred to it as being a two-parter. There was a curveball Tuesday that I couldn’t share yet.

Here’s the second part… it has been THE longest wait to be able to share this and now I finally can.

I’m hoping that now this is out it allows me to get back into blogging properly because I completely stalled after getting this news!

I also need some advice so please keep going to the bottom and either comment on here or head to the Mums’ Days Facebook page and join the conversation there. Thanks in advance!

Tuesday – 13th March

On Tuesday night, Mike was at the top of Kilimanjaro about to reach the summit. I was in bed with my electric blanket on. Rock and bloody roll!

I was feeling a bit crampy, but it was only 3 weeks since I had my coil removed via laparoscopy, and my period hadn’t returned, so I wasn’t surprised. Then I thought I’d check how long it had been since my period should have started… a week and a half.

Is your mind going where mine went?

I had a bunch of pregnancy tests in the house from when I thought we were trying back in September (my coil had gone missing so it was assumed it had fallen out but instead it had passed through my womb and was on a holiday in my pelvis!) so I took a test. Just to rule it out.

I have some thoughts on taking a test just before bed:



22 May, 2014

I have been asked to compile my new baby checklist. Lorraine’s email went like this:

“I am around 9 weeks pregnant, it is my first time and my husband and I have read various lists of what you need before the little bundle of joy (currently nicknamed Minion) arrives.

“Would you be able to do something on the blog?

“If you could it would be brilliant to hear it from the voices of experience as opposed to people trying to flog you their products :0)”

I think it’s safe to say that Lorraine and I are quite different. When I was pregnant, I didn’t actually finish packing my hospital bag until my waters had broken and even then I definitely took a whole lot more than ‘the essentials’. The midwives asked me if I was moving in I had that many bags!*

Despite this, I DO know what I needed and what I didn’t, and despite my disorganisation for the hospital trip, everything was sorted in time and ready at home too. I have also asked the good people of the Mums’ Days Facebook page for their opinion on what was essential for their new baby checklist. You’ll see the answers on Facebook vary massively, so I’ve distilled this down to the bare basics and then gone on to say what’s nice to have and luxury essentials, which I wouldn’t buy until after baby is here.

New Baby Checklist compiled by a bunch of mums - the essentials, the nice to have and the luxuries! #newborn #baby #pregnancy #checklist http://www.mumsdays.com/new-baby-checklist/

Things that stand throughout:

  • If you are offered things for free, bite their hand off! You can always give back what you don’t need.
  • Go for quality rather than quantity – you’ll be doing a lot of washing and you want your stuff to last! (I like the organic range by Polarn O. Pyret for much of the bare essentials – you have time to look out for the sales they have on too)
  • Don’t get too many newborn sized clothes or nappies as they grow out of them fast. You’ll be wanting 0-3 months in no time!

New Baby Checklist – Bare Essentials

  • a pack of vests
  • a pack of sleep suits
  • 2 cardigans
  • 2 blankets
  • muslin squares (although check out the tea towel selection as they’ve been said to be more absorbent! Also, I had muslin envy for the people with the Faye and Lou rainbow muslins!)
  • somewhere for baby to sleep safely
  • changing station with changing mat, nappies, cotton wool and/or wipes – one station is enough
  • a little hat (no more than 2 for summer babies, you only really use it in the first few days in the hospital or if it’s particularly cold)

Nice to have

  • cute outfits – but you will be given loads so don’t go crazy!! And don’t get anything with buttons (they’re a pain), things that button up the back or need hand washing!
  • moses basket – Reuben slept in his until he was around 3 months. Other people don’t rate them at all. I think the consensus is accept a 2nd hand one (as we did) or don’t bother!
  • baby bath or top and tail – only if someone gives you this. The sink/bath/a bowl with warm water really is good enough!
  • baby sized towel – any towel will do really but a cute baby towel is, well, cute!
  • a rocker chair – you can get all sorts of fancy ones that buzz but we had a basic one in the bathroom, which was very helpful for putting baby in when you need the loo or want a shower!

Luxury essential 

  • the sleepyhead deluxe was suggested by one mama (who I trust) as being amazing for getting little ones to settle independently – maybe get someone to gift it to you though!
  • a swaddle wrap has been recommended by another mama. I think I would invest in one next time as it was the only way Reuben would sleep – I used a mesh blanket and it kept coming undone. Wait to see how your baby settles first though!
  • a tumble dryer!
  • an angel care baby monitor – loads of people recommend this. We just had a bog standard one but if you’re after peace of mind I can definitely see the benefit of getting one of these. They are expensive and you won’t need it immediately as you’ll probably always have baby by your side in the early days.

New Baby Checklist – Feeding


  • breast pads
  • nipple cream – Lansinoh is the best (not sponsored!)

Nice to have

  • steriliser – I started my breastfeeding life using nipple shields. I wouldn’t recommend it. I was so happy to have a steriliser though! You can get microwave ones very cheaply.
  • breastpump and bottles – so I could get some rest Mike would feed Reuben a bottle of expressed milk from a week old. I would express in the morning. Not for everyone though and you have time to decide after baby has come along and you have established breastfeeding.
  • nursing cover – I just used a muslin but you can buy proper ones!

Bottle feeding

  • bottles
  • steriliser – I would probably get a plug in one that stands on your bench as you’ll be using it a lot!
  • formular
  • formular dispenser for when you are out and about

New Baby Checklist – Going out

  • changing bag – doesn’t need to be fancy, mine wasn’t and we got on fine. Other people advise spending more as you use it so much, so really it’s up to you and your budget!
  • changing mat
  • car seat
  • pram – the advice is to invest in a good one! We were given a silver cross travel system, which was massive! In fact I used the car seat bit rather than the pram bit because it was so much smaller and easier to manoeuvre. So think about the size of your car and ease of assembly. Plus longevity; will it be convenient at 6 months as more of a buggy?

Nice to have

  • baby wrap or sling – this is totally subjective. Some people couldn’t live without them. I spent a fortune thinking it would solve all my problems and it didn’t! So wait until after baby is here then go to a sling library and try before you buy. If someone gives you one though, take it! Especially a moby wrap.

Luxury essential

  • star fleece baby wrap – we actually had one of these and didn’t use it very much. However, some of my friends absolutely loved them. I think it depends what pram you have!

Am I missing anything? What would you recommend in your new baby checklist (other than sleep!)?


*I actually have a video somewhere of me packing my hospital bag, I’ll try and dig it out so I can share it with you and we can all have a good laugh!

03 Jun, 2013

Last week marked a year since I met a group of people who would keep me sane during all the craziness of waiting for labour, childbirth, newborns and now babyhood. I don’t know what I would have done without them! That’s right, on 31st May 2012, sporting a 7 month bump, covered by a leopard print tube dress, and wedges (I’m surprised I managed to make any friends, but I stand by my choice of outfit!), Mike and I made our way to a fairly grotty church hall to start our NCT antenatal classes. I meant to write about how much I had enjoyed them once it was finished but never got round to it. So, a year on…

This is why I loved my NCT antenatal classes so much…

  1. I stopped being terrified of childbirth – I went into the class having just visited a birthing centre and having a panic attack once I saw the delivery room. I was literally terrified of giving birth. By the end of the first class I felt comfortable and at ease with the situation, confident that I could do it. Whether I actually felt like I could during labour is another matter…but I did do it and, you know what? I’d do it again!
  2. We were given the facts – Yes, no one in the group wanted to have a c-section, or drugs for that matter (!), but we understood that we shouldn’t feel bad about ourselves if we decide or need to have them. And the procedure for a c-section and different drug options were explained.
  3. It was a commitment – because it cost however much (£150 or something), we didn’t miss any of the classes. It was a commitment from Mike and I to each other to make sure we went to them all. I wonder if it might have been easier, if it were free, to give the odd class a miss?!
  4. It helped us prepare as a couple – pregnancy can be quite isolating. After all it is the woman who is going through the physical changes and while you might share some of what you’re going through (particularly when you’re uncomfortable or in a pissy mood!), ultimately I found myself doing a lot of thinking and preparing in my head, rather than sharing it. At least during the NCT classes it was a time of focus to concentrate on preparing for the imminent arrival and, even though Mike has a daughter (born by elective C-section), the birth.
  5. I loved the earth mother idea – and spent my last weeks on maternity leave either listening to my Natal Hypnotherapy or reading an Ina May guide to childbirth. I also wept like a baby when I watched the Orgasmic Birth DVD I had borrowed from the class!
  6. I bought 7 best friends! – They say when you do NCT antenatal classes you are just doing them to make mummy friends…how rude! But while I loved the classes and our teacher, Hayley, was brilliant, I did make some seriously wonderful friends who I see every week. Maybe not everyone every week but we’re always in touch via emails and we try to all get together as much as the cafes on the North East coast allows 8 women with 8 babies to!
There’s something about childbirth that makes you instantly forget the small talk and go straight for the perennial chatter – ‘have you been massaging your fanny yet?’ That was on day one. These guys kept me entertained when I was sick of being pregnant, including ‘yoga-gate’ where we all got the giggles and very nearly got thrown out of pregnancy yoga…I was emailing this bunch while I was in labour (I’m not sure they thanked me for the level of detail) and now they regularly take the piss out of my most recent blog posts. You know, to keep me grounded! After my best mate left to go to Milton Keynes, and in general I’m not very good a making new proper friends, I’m eternally grateful for them. They’re worth every penny!
Here’s a little montage of some our get togethers…turns out I don’t take enough photos when we’re all together! I’m so gutted we never got a group one with our bumps!!!
NCT antenatal classes

Beau and Reuben (4 weeks) – the start of a beautiful bromance (thankfully Reuben has nearly caught up with Beau on the hair front – what a baldy!)

NCT antenatal classes

Baby massage at my house (Reuben’s 5 months) – we’re only missing Rachel and baby Elsie so we would have totally all squeezed in!

NCT antenatal classes

Counting babies all around 6 months – Still not a shot of everyone, there’s 2 missing!! 

Counting Babies the video! Ooooh! Don’t get excited. In my mind this was going to be an ace Vine, like a stop motion loop where the babies are seamlessly added. In reality it is a shoddy piece of work with 6 babies teetering on the end of a sofa all about to start screaming!

NCT Antenatal Classes Beau-dilicious, Issy B and Ruby Ruby at 7 months 

More of Beau and Isabella (they’re our swimming buddies so we see them every week!) with Reuben when they were 8 months… On a roundabout, which is clearly the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I blame the sleep deprivation and Beau’s hat! The level of conversation is also nil.

So there, I loved my NCT Antenatal classes and I love my new buddies. Not so new anymore! And, I need lots more photos of the babes together  – perhaps at their 1st Birthday Party!




28 Apr, 2013

Pre-childbirth my experience of caesarean, never mind a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section), was limited to ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’, which I saw when I was about 30 weeks pregnant and it terrified me. One of the women had to be rushed off for an emergency c-section in which she was drugged up to the eye-balls, completely unconnected from the birth and then nearly dies. Following that and lots of hippy books, I knew I didn’t want one. I wanted to experience labour to the max, let my body take over, and all those primeval notions related to giving birth.

However, then I went into labour. On Super Saturday, as I was watching Mo win his second gold medal, I was thinking ‘good for f*cking you, Mo, you dick. I wish I could have a c-section’. Entirely unconnected statements but I hated Mo (sorry Mo, I actually think you’re lush, I just wasn’t myself!) and I wanted that baby OUT. Now I can’t remember the pain just how amazing it was to give birth to my son with Mike by my side (albeit asleep for what felt like most of it… basically until it got interesting!) but I wonder if I would have such fond memories if I had ended up having a c-section?

Of my group of 7 mums-to-be, 2 of them had to have emergency c-sections. They both recovered really well and the discussions I’ve heard since have been that they would both have an elective caesarean next time. I can understand this. They both had extremely traumatic experiences, and particularly the stages at home when it feels like it will never be over, can be close to unbearable…  So, what makes some women, even after traumatic first time experiences, choose to have a VBAC?

I’ve been speaking to Emma, who back in November when she was 32 weeks pregnant, left a lovely comment on my blog. I discovered that Emma had to have an emergency c-section with her first baby, Beth, 7 weeks early. Despite this she was still hoping to have a VBAC with her second. Here is her story:

Abigail born 27th January 2013 – a successful VBAC!

I can see why people chose to go elective. It’s all very predictable and you can make plans. I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve had difficult labours ending in a c-section and they decided to have an elective with their second. I guess for me, I was just the opposite. I found the emergency c-section experience horrible, and had a terrible recovery so I wanted to avoid it. I also found there were a lot of emotional issues tied up with not having had any labour first time round. I felt robbed and that my body had not been allowed to do what it is designed to do. I have spoken to plenty of women since who thought I was nuts for feeling that way! However, this time I wanted to experience it. Plus, with a 2½ year old already at home I knew that another c-section would mean 6 weeks of no driving, no lifting, etc!

I was due on the 19th, the following Wednesday I went for a sweep which did’t do much. Midday Thursday I started having contractions, mild as they were, which came and went throughout the night. I had another sweep on the Friday as well as Saturday and Saturday night. Sunday morning I had a good old blub about not wanting another c-section (I should’ve known something was afoot then!) and by midday I was suddenly having contractions every 3 mins. Suddenly things were moving quickly with my parents arriving – my mum was coming with me and my husband to hospital and my dad to look after my daughter. At 4pm we rang the hospital who said come in. At 5.30pm an exam revealed I was 4cm and not going home. I huffed and puffed my way on from there using the tens machine and some acupressure. At 10:30pm another exam showed I was 7cm, with my waters still intact, and the midwife said I had hours left to go so I asked for gas and air at that stage.

Pain relief wise, I knew I wanted to use as little as possible but having not laboured before, I had no idea what to expect. I’d had a few days of contractions (not that that’s what I thought they were as they didn’t feel how I expected!) so maybe I had built up a certain level of tolerance?! As it was, the main reason I asked for anything at all is because the midwife said I had about 4-5 hours, which I didn’t think I could do.

However, within half an hour of that examination my waters broke and my body started pushing. The midwife said not to push as I wasn’t dilated and would damage myself – so I tried my best, until the midwife lifted the blanket and in a very surprised tone admitted she could see baby’s head!

With some more huffing and puffing (I’m sure I was much more noisey than that!), me, my husband and my mum welcomed Abigail Elizabeth Ratcliffe into the world at 11:53pm on the 27th weighing 9lb 4ozs!

There you have it – a successful VBAC, avoiding the knife! Not quite a hypnobirthing experience as I certainly felt every ounce of that 9lbs but it was quick, relaxed and just what I hoped for. After my delivery, I had just a few stitches, which caused me no problems and I was back on my feet and in the bath within an hour of delivery – such a very different experience to post c-section!! And, recovering after a natural birth has been so easy in comparison.

Abigail born via successful VBAC

Baby Abigail born via successful VBAC with her big sister Beth!

I am so pleased that Emma was able to experience what she had hoped for! And, since reading about Emma’s successful VBAC, I also wanted to see what other people’s experiences were of VBAC. As with everything to do with pregnancy, childbirth and beyond, every story and situation is totally different. I had some amazing comments on the Mum’s Days facebook page. Thank you to everyone who has joined in so far, and please do have a read and join in the conversation.

A successful VBAC story

What I found really interesting about the comments was the number of people who had to have an emergency c-section with their second child, despite a successful vaginal birth with their first. It also seems that emotional issues connected with the suddenness of emergency c-sections and the lack of skin-to-skin can be connected with PND. So, to finish off, what I would like to say is, I’m no medic but I understand that sometimes it isn’t possible for a woman to have a VBAC. If this is the case for you and you are worried about the effects of having an elective caesarean, please read this article, Every bit as magical, that Catherine Adkin shared on the VBAC facebook thread. Maybe you too can have more of a say in your c-section!

Finally to quote my friend who had an emergency c-setion and when asked if she felt like a failure (I KNOW, I can’t believe someone actually asked her that either), she said: “I carried a baby for 9 months, and I now have a beautiful boy. No, I don’t feel like a failure.”

Please do share your thoughts either below in the comments or on the facebook thread.

12 Feb, 2013

Reuben is 6 months old today. I have had a baby for half a whole year. I can’t work out if it feels like ages or if it’s flown by. Probably a bit of both. He’s completely consumed everything I do so I no longer have any concept of time! I know I’ve got very well acquainted with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony Op 125 (thanks to baby einstein!)  but I’m sure we’ve done more…here’s a review of what’s been going on broken down into the Newborn Months – 0 to 3 months and the Baby Months – 3 to 6 months!

Newborn Reuben – 0 to 3 months old


  1. It’s funny to think I went from a neurotic but optimistic mum-to-be in my due date post when I turned 40 weeks pregnant to sleep-deprived zombie for the next 3 months.
  2. Reuben, my perfect little boy, arrived 3 days later after a rather long labour
  3. I was then quite taken aback by having a newborn – I was so busy being pregnant I’d forgotten to find out what it would be like to have a newborn! It became all about survival for the next few weeks when I realised the importance of sleep. This is most important piece of advice I would pass on to any new mums or mums to be…!
  4. I pondered my new body at 4 days and then 3 weeks and again at 12 weeks
  5. After my pre-baby breastfeeding course I had to get to grips with the reality of breastfeeding (and got very well acquainted with nipple shields and my steriliser)
  6. I soon discovered Reuben wasn’t a fan of sleeping unless he was on me, on my boob, so in a bid to not become part of the sofa, I had to decide whether to dummy or not to dummy (we went with yes to the dummy but Reuben decided later that he didn’t like them anyway)
  7. And, after a lack of sleep both at night and during the day, baby blues hit our house  but we hit it back with romance (and sex)
  8. When Reuben was 9 weeks old I worked full time for a week in Vienna which meant I had to get very friendly with a disabled toilet and my breast pump. These are my breastfeeding tips for the full time working mum following that week away!
  9. Happily Reuben turned 3 months marking his graduation from newborn to baby. This was a definite turning point for me – I’m such a fan of sleep that I found those first months very tough. When we turned that 3 month corner I just started to enjoy life so much more because he was sleeping better, interacting and generally lovely! (not that he wasn’t lovely before but I was just such a zombie I struggled to enjoy him as much)


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