A letter to a new Mum...by Steph Douglas

This brilliant letter is written by Steph Douglas, founder of the GORGEOUS gift package company Don't Buy Her Flowers and Mama to Buster and Mabel (with baby #3 due in November).  

Steph started writing her Sisterhood & All That blog whilst on maternity leave because she found the honesty of other Mums reassuring and was 'astounded by how many people said it was all dandy only to reveal months later they’d been in a terrible state'. Steph sent this letter to her friend who has since told her it ‘pretty much saved my life and that she used to refer back to it when she was struggling. So if someone has just had a baby and is sitting in the dark at 3am having a cry and thinking that everyone else found it a breeze, this might help':

Hello gorgeous girl,

Firstly, DO NOT worry about replying to this. All the texts/emails/messages/FB posts are a bit overwhelming, especially if you feel you have to respond. It used to stress me out a lot, so just know I won’t be offended if you don’t respond, and nor will anyone else. I just wanted to say I am still thinking of you and hope the first couple of nights went ok. I don’t profess to be an expert by any stretch, but I have done this shit twice in quick succession, and for me there are a few things that I know myself and all my friends that have had kids have found tough/learnt pretty quickly, and the sisterhood has never been more important than when you’ve had babies. I remember getting a couple of texts when I was sitting in hospital in absolute shock (Buster was born at 36 weeks so think you pipped me!) and I had no idea what was going on/what I was supposed to do and Buster wouldn’t feed. I had to hand express for a week before he eventually latched on – who knew it was so hard? Those NCT videos show the kid frickin’ crawling up the mother’s belly FFS. LIARS. But it just takes a bit of time for you both to learn what to do and then you’ll be flopping them out all over the shop. I reckon it took me 6 weeks with Buster to be passed the sore phase and for my body to produce the right amount at the right times.

Anyways, I had a couple of texts from people saying ‘hang in there’ and ‘this is a bit shit but it’ll get better’ and it did make me feel better as until that point I’d for some reason not noticed the exhausted look in a new mum’s eyes as they say ‘being a mummy is wonderful’ (really? even the cracked nipples/leaking fanny/blancmange belly? Let’s not mention the childbirth bit – it does pretty much return to normal btw…) and clearly not heard them mention being a bit tired…And then you do it and you’ve never felt emotion like it – high or low. So anyway, this is what I wish I’d known, which really isn’t supposed to be patronising, but once I’d been through it, just seeing a new mum reduces me to tears as I can vividly remember being tired and confused and just wanting someone to tell me it’d all be ok. Which it was as I wouldn’t have done it again otherwise.

Pull the drawbridge up. This time is all about you and Pete*, especially whilst he is off work. If you have visitors, make sure they are ones that will bring food and leave after 30 minutes and try not to pack too many in to a day. I found I felt ok when people were there and I wanted to show off the baby, and then they’d leave and I’d sit on the stairs sobbing with exhaustion. It took us about 6 weeks to work that one out, so hopefully you’ll get there before your first couple of months are a blur of feeling you need to look presentable/hold it together and then screaming at Pete when they’ve left. Once we’d worked it out Doug became my ‘protector’, so he booted people out after 45 mins and kept visitors at bay generally in his own unique way (rudely – he wasn’t good at subtle). Protector and feeder. They were good times. I actually got fatter after having Buster as yammed so much food and needed cake for energy. NEEDED it. Which brings me to…

I wore maternity jeans or pyjamas for at least 6 weeks with Buster. I PROMISE your body will return. It’ll be a slightly different version, but seriously, you are young and fit and it’ll happen and for now it isn’t important. It is amazing how your tummy contracts and each day it goes down, so it will happen. And those people that mention they were in their pre-maternity jeans after 2 weeks? Dicks. 

EAT AND REST – if you are breastfeeding, or if you’re not actually, you are going to need energy. I’ve watched a lot of friends struggle with the feeding and then say ‘oh, i haven’t eaten today’ – basically it’s fuel and you’re producing food to FEED another being, so it makes sense that you need to eat. It is amazing how much food and rest impact your milk. Again, this took me weeks of charging about and feeling knackered and wondering why the baby was crying with hunger and needing feeding all the time. I know everyone says ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ blah blah blah, but I actually did that with Mabel and it is rather nice having daytime naps and not divving about cleaning/catching up on emails etc. She’s 9 months and I still have them when Buster is in nursery – I love waking up all sweaty and a bit drool-y.

Just be kind to yourself. You have your man and you have your baby and everyone else can and will wait. This is a brand new thing you’ve never done so of course you can’t always know what to do, but having some peace and quiet and your man beside you is all you need and you’ll work all the rest out. 

I PROMISE it all gets easier. And hey, it may be that you’re flying and not finding it hard at all and if so this email has nothing to do with underestimating you and everything to do with my own experience of finding this motherhood shit HARD. So sending so much love and sisterhood vibes your way darling girl. Anything I can help with, I’m only an email/phone call away.

Your Stephie xx

*Name has been changed to protect the sleep deprived. 

 

Mama Treats...by Victoria Genevieve

It’s Summer Festival time and it has never looked so good, this is mainly because we don't all have to be as rebellious as we once were, we can now take the kids! This means the grown ups have fun, the kids have fun and we can all get messy and let our hair down.

BUT the big question still prevails “What to wear?” This is even more of an important question when you have children to pack for. Less is more and layering is what's needed rather than individual outfits that don't mix and match. 

Dresses

One MAIN thing that I’d like to say above anything else, a jumpsuit is a total No No! However practical it may sound just think of the porta loos… who wants to get any clothing on the floor of a porta loo. Now if you’re thinking what I'm thinking, a dress is obviously the best option and there are some wonderful options of midi and just above the knee dresses around. These can then be layered with knitwear and a raincoat and even worn over jeans - it's a massive fashion trend, hoorah!!! (yes a dress over jeans… don't believe me? Put it into Pinterest)

Bum bags

Bum bags and rucksacks are so on trend right now and I know that if I said that to you two years ago you'd of had none of it, but honestly it’s now a thing. River Island has the most brilliant bum bag with mini mirrors and pom poms in all colours, this is good because you can go simple or monochrome with the outfit and then use accessories as your colouring. 

Utility Jackets

Utility jackets are a massive deal this season, in fact I was talking with a client about how this replaces the old fashioned cardigan for this season. You want a little something to take the chill off but you also want something lightweight and easy to pack. There are some fabulous options around, I’m so in love with my sequinned one from Zara, but most high street stores have them, River Island, Top Shop and ASOS. There are a few smaller brands on Instagram offering some fabulous alternatives too. I love one by Nomaz Boutique that simply reads, ‘I’m with the hippies’ 

Footwear

Footwear will forever be an issue but I really don't think you can go wrong with two essential items, HUNTER wellies and a pair of Haviaianas. However if like me you want a bit of bling then I highly recommend Holster, like Havaianas they are waterproof but they have the added bonus of bling. All three footwear options do mini me versions too so the kids can join in the fashion fun with mum. 

Sunglasses

There is one thing you can guarantee will be an instant outfit hit and it's a perfect pair of sunglasses. I always tell clients, if you can find a trendy pair that don't cost much and that you won’t be too sad about if you loose, this can be the making of your festival outfit. It covers your face when you don't want to wear make-up and shields your eyes from the sun. Try Topshop for some trend inspired disposable shades.

Raincoat

It’s as though retailers knew we were getting fed up of not having a waterproof option to choose from. Most brands have options online but my forever love will be one that's transparent. Mainly because you can see your outfit underneath and you don't have to compromise on colour options.

Victoria x

Dear Lola...by Hattie Harrison (That Mum Blog)

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Dear Lola,

When I first had you I had never had a baby before. I thought that I would be good at it because I had worked with children for a long time, teaching them and helping them to behave. Some of the children who I used to work with used to make the wrong choice and I would help them to make the right one. Some other adults didn’t understand why I wanted to work with children who always seemed to make the wrong choice but I knew it wasn’t because they were bad or naughty and that, eventually one day, they would consistently make right choices and people would see that.

So when I had you I expected to make the right choices for you. Other people expected me to as well. Now, I don’t want to put you off but having a baby is hard work. I know you already know that at the age of 5, because after I had Olive you told me not to have any more babies because we had no more hands to hold them.

When I had you I had the perfect amount of hands to hold you. And a lot of time. But we had just moved house and I felt lonely because I didn’t have any other grown up, boring people to talk to. I just had you. And it’s not like it is now because you couldn’t talk to me and we couldn’t drink hot chocolate and have girls’ nights watching films because you were too little.

I didn’t know you then and I think I was a bit scared because I didn’t know then that when you grew up I would love you so much no matter what.

When you were a baby you cried a lot. Because I had never had a baby before I thought that you cried a lot because of me which is really silly. You cried a lot because your tummy hurt. You were crying because you couldn’t talk and you were just trying to tell me that your tummy hurt. I cried quite a lot too. I cried because my tummy hurt too, the way yours does when you are worried. I was worried about being your mum. I didn’t cry in front of other people though, which is really silly, I should have done what you did and tried to tell someone else that my tummy hurt but I didn’t. That is the very first thing that you taught me Lola, even if I only realised it later. When you are hurting you should always tell someone.

That is why I always tell you now to tell me if you have hurt yourself (a big ouch, I don’t mean that teeny tiny ouch we had to use your bug magnifying glass to see). Or if you are worried about something. Because I learnt that if something is hurting a lot and you don’t tell someone, then the hurt doesn’t always go away. Sometimes it gets worse.

And you know how I always tell you that I don’t mind if you make the wrong choice? Or get told off at school? How it doesn’t really matter if we get things wrong because we are all human and everyone, even (especially) adults get things wrong? Well I didn’t know that then, and I thought that if I told anyone how I was feeling then all those people would think I’d done something wrong or that I wasn’t the best parent in the world. And I didn’t know then that I didn’t need to be the best and I was always the best for you.

And I am writing this letter to you just in case there is another lady who has had a baby who is feeling a little worried, or hurting. I just wanted them to know that there was a time when I felt very sad and now I don’t. There was a time when I was very worried about you and I, and now I’m not. And I wanted them to hear what you taught me – that if you are hurting you should tell an adult who can help you.

Thank you for being my first baby Lola,

All my love always

Mummy

xxx

#itsoknottobeok

If you need to seek help then please do so here. You are not alone. 

For more posts by Hattie take a read of 'That Mum Blog' here.