BREAKING NEWS: WOMAN HAS A FLAT STOMACH NOW THERE IS NO BABY INSIDE IT (HOW TO LOSE YOUR BABY WEIGHT WITHOUT TRYING OR CARING ABOUT LOSING YOUR BABY WEIGHT).

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ANOTHER week, another celebrity is pictured ‘stepping out’ looking fabulous just three months/weeks/days/hours after giving birth…

I am never surprised by this ‘news’.

I am usually more surprised that, with a newborn baby to look after, they actually have the energy to ‘step out’ anywhere, let alone to make themselves look like anything other than crap.

Unless they all have nannies.

If I was a celebrity with a newborn I would definitely have a nanny … and servants … and, possibly, a wet nurse (if this is still a thing).

But in view of the fact that I am not a celebrity, I would like to request to the national media that they do NOT bombard us with countless guides to Getting a Post Baby Body like A Pop star/Princess/Anyone Thin Who Was Once On X Factor, as part of their ongoing campaign to turn us into an image-obsessed, size zero society.  Because, and I think I speak for a lot of new mums when I say, we don’t actually give a toss.

We are far too busy worrying about everything else.

Like, how do I take a shower when the baby won’t let me put her down?

Or, will I actually die if I go another night without sleep?

And, is my baby feeding enough, too much, too often, not often enough?

Not to mention wondering whether every rash, spot, cough or sneeze is meningitis.

As it happens, I did fit into my skinny jeans again, but quite by accident and without the aid of a tabloid diet guide.

HOW TO GET YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY BODY BACK WITHOUT EVEN TRYING

 1)      GIVE BIRTH TO A BABY. An actual human being has just left your body – that is most of the weight shifted right there.

2)    EXERCISE.  Forget the gym. Once you have had your baby any excess fat will soon drop off because you will NEVER sit down again. Also, from the moment you get out of that hospital bed you will always be carrying something or someone or both. Twenty-four hours a day.

3)   DIET. Most days you will not have time to eat.  You will put toast in the toaster, pour cereal into a bowl or half make a sandwich. But rarely will you have time to consume it.

Dinner will become a luxury. Babies hate you eating dinner. They are perfectly happy in their bouncer. Then, the moment you pick up your fork, your smiling bundle of joy becomes a screaming monster, demanding you put your food down and pick them up.

Finally, breastfeed to get the calories literally sucked out of you, or formula feed to burn calories while making countless trips to sterilise and make up bottles, using only one hand.

When I had just given birth, the very last thing on my mind was ‘how will I ever squeeze into my skinny jeans again?’ It was more like; ‘will I ever have time to get dressed again’?

Before I had my first child I was determined not to become one of those cliché tired, new mums wearing vomit-stained clothes and ‘comfortable’ shoes.

And I didn’t.

I was worse, far worse.  If I managed to get into any clothes, vomit stained or otherwise, it was really quite an achievement.  But the worst thing was I didn’t even care.

Now more than two years and a whole second baby later, things have got a bit better.  I get dressed most days but I care even less about what I wear.  The first question I ask myself when I look in the wardrobe (ok, rifle through my washing basket) in the morning is not, ‘will it go with my shoes?’ or ‘does my bum look big in this?’ but ‘can I get away with wearing this outfit again today?’

It is normally a toss up between the snot-covered leggings or jeans with a chocolate fingerprint and possible wee stain.  As a general rule of thumb, ‘if it’s not poo, it’ll do’.

These days I am still far from ‘stepping out looking fabulous’ but it doesn’t bother me at all.  I may have rubbish hair and bags under my eyes, but with a toddler and baby to take care of 24 hours a day,  I am just grateful to be happy, healthy and still in one piece.

If you like nominating people for awards then feel free to click here and vote for http://www.emilyjaneclark.wordpress.com.  Can you wear pyjamas to award ceremonies?

NOMINATE ME BiB 2013 WRITER

WHY WE SHOULD ALL MAKE A TIT OF OURSELVES IN PUBLIC

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I HAVE done it in a restaurant. I have done it on the beach. I have done it on an aeroplane. In fact, I have got my boobs out in most public places.

Not for attention or for money; but, simply, because sometimes I need to use a breast for its actual purpose. To shut up … I mean feed, a baby.

So, I am banging on about boobs this time.  I have been writing over at http://www.babysleep.org.uk about why we should all make a tit of ourselves in public!  Please click this link MAKE A TIT OF YOURSELF and  join my campaign to eliminate the Anti-Breastfeeding in Public Mob?!!

What are your experiences of breastfeeding in public?  Positive or not ?  Feel free to share your stories (good and bad) in the comment box below or join us on Facebook or @stolen sleep.

A LETTER TO MY PRE-PREGNANT SELF

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To my pre-pregnant self,

If you are reading this letter then time travel has been invented. This is good because it means I can travel back in time and punch you in the face.

So, you are probably wondering why?

You know how sometimes you stay up late and spend the following day moaning about how tired you are?  “Oh I only got six hours sleep,” you whine. “I really need an early night,” you sigh.

Well, I have got news for you. YOU ARE NOT TIRED.

When you are wondering whether it would be acceptable to feed your children cold baked beans straight from the tin because you do not have the energy to wash a bowl or a pan, THEN you are tired.

When you use baby wipes, then kitchen roll, then cotton wool balls, rather than go to the shop for toilet roll, THEN you need more sleep.

When you find yourself wearing the same pair of socks for three days running so you don’t have to wash any more (while I am here I may as well give you the heads up. Once you have children you will literally spend half of your life washing. So can you please stop spending money on going out for dinner/wine and save up for a good washer/dryer or live-in cleaner)… then, and only then, my fresh-faced little friend, do know the meaning of the word tired.

So make the most of lying in while you can; and early nights. In fact, spend whole weekends just sleeping; because once you have babies you will never sleep again.

Enjoy the small things like nipping out for milk. A few years from now there will be no ‘nipping out.’ There will be no ‘popping to the shop’.  Once you have children every trip out is a massive annoying operation that must be strategically planned with care.

And another thing: you know when your first newspaper editor told you that to assume makes an ass out of you and me?  He was right.

Soon you will start trying for your first baby (oh, and make the most of this because once you have had the baby, even when you so much as think about trying-for-a-baby-related activities, your baby WILL put a stop to it. Or you will be too tired). You will read all the books, check all of the websites, sign up for all the ‘Why The Hell Isn’t My Baby Doing This Yet’ emails and you will assume you know EVERYTHING there is to know about babies.

You will assume that babies go to bed early because, well, they are babies and they will do what you say.

And you will assume that babies only wake up at night when they need feeding or changing or have wind.

Well, it turns out you are a major ass.  You knew nothing.

Like when you got pregnant and bought all those things you thought you definitely needed. Just so you know….

Things not to bother buying when you have a baby:  

  • Moses basket. (We keep the towels in it).
  • Sleeping bags. (You will hear many stories about babies who ‘slept like a dream’ from the moment they went to bed in one of these. Yours is not one of them).
  • Hundreds of different expensive baby bottles (if they won’t take a bottle it is very likely that they will not take any bottle. Unless it is made of boob).
  • Any books about babies. You are better off buying ‘I Wrote To The Zoo’ instead (and lots of Sellotape).
  • Anything nice. It will get destroyed.
  • A posh black settee (ideally get one the colour of baby sick).
  • A million muslin cloths. (People will tell you these are invaluable when you have babies. They are invaluable if you like washing. Buy shit loads of baby wipes instead).
  •  Newborn baby toys. They don’t really give a toss about toys for quite a while. Even overpriced rubber giraffes.

Instead of buying any of the above, spend your money (which you will have very little of once you have children) on biscuits, wine, Sky Plus, coffee and a giant bed.

One last thing before I go – childbirth isn’t that bad. But DO NOT tell anyone this EVER. As far as everyone is concerned you experienced the worst pain known to man and survived because you are well hard.

But it is definitely not as painful as getting hit by a bus.

In fact, do not leave the house on May 7, 2008, and you may avoid the whole bus thing altogether.  Actually scrap that; I am pretty sure you are not supposed to change past events (according to Doc from Back to the Future).

Anyway, I hope I haven’t put you off having babies.  I guess if I had you wouldn’t be reading this letter.  Or I wouldn’t have written it? I think.  I am too tired to get into paradoxes of time travel.

So, parenthood won’t be anything like you are expecting. You assume you will love your babies – but you do not expect to fall in love with them. There will be a lot of tears (mainly yours) but there will also be a lot of laughter. Babies are funny, mostly (just not at 4am when you have been up with them all night).   And every day is like watching an episode of You’ve Been Framed.

So, good bye and good luck. You are going to need it.

Best wishes,

Your future self x

What advice would you give your pre-pregnant self?  Feel free to add a comment or join us on my Facebook page thingy.. or here @stolensleep

HOW TO GET THINGS DONE WHEN YOUR BABY WON’T GO TO SLEEP OR STAY ASLEEP (OR LEAVE YOU THE HELL ALONE FOR FIVE MINUTES).

thing to doSOMETIMES I get to the end of the day and I know I have been busy. I am tired, I have forgotten to eat lunch, my back aches and I definitely haven’t sat down for more than a few minutes. Yet, I look around me. The washing up bowl is full of dirty dishes, there is a grubby baby sock on the kitchen sideboard, there are toys everywhere, and the baby is covered in this morning’s Weetabix.   What have I actually been doing? 

To get to the bottom of this, I decided to look at the Things To Do list I wrote at the beginning of the year to see what progress I have made.

Turns out.  Not. A. Lot.   

THING TO (DEFINITELY) DO IN 2014

1) Move the dirty baby sock from kitchen sideboard.

The reason such a simple task made it to number one of my list is because it has been on my sideboard for A MONTH.  I am not quite sure how it got there.  Every time I see it I think, I must move that sock, but then whenever I am on my way to the sock something else ALWAYS COMES UP.  I got close once. I actually picked up the sock.  I turned to walk towards the washing basket with the sock.  Look at me, I thought. I am looking after a baby and a toddler, I have only had two hours sleep, but here I am moving the sock. GETTING STUFF DONE.  Go me. I can do this.

OR NOT.

Just as I was about to leave the kitchen The Toddler informed me of her urgent need to WEE NOW MUMMY and I then spotted The Baby trying to eat a battery. I returned the sock to the sideboard, and before I knew it, all thoughts of baby sock cleaning were gone from my mind. *

2) Do ALL the washing (to include dirty baby sock). Ensure washing bin is EMPTY and ALL clean washing is put away and not just left in the baskets. (2014 WILL be the year we keep our clothes in wardrobes and drawers).

God, I was a dick in January.

3) Clean settee to remove the stench of vomity/stale milk/wee/wine. (Buy settee cleaning equipment). 

Or?  Buy Febreze, a giant throw and avoid having any guests who like sitting down.

4) Call Orange and tell them my phone is broken. My phone has been broken for three months. It is still broken. I have got around this by simply not making any phone calls. This is not ideal.  I tried to call them just now in the hope I could sneakily tick this off the list…but as I was about to ‘talk to an advisor’ the baby started choking. (Yes, it was on a flipping battery).

5) Tape up the broken remote control so the baby can’t try to eat the batteries.

If this had been item one then I might have had more luck with other items on this list.

6) STOP feeding the children Smiley Faces.   

Whenever I open the freezer with every intention of making a healthy home-cooked dinner (that the kids will definitely NOT eat but I can feel good about myself for cooking).  And THERE THEY ARE. Beaming up at me. I would like to wipe the smile of their stupid, delicious faces. Eat me, they shout.  We are only potatoes. What is so bad about potatoes? Do us with some frozen veg and fish fingers and you have a nutritious meal fit for a…baby.

They had me at potatoes.  Grinning little gits.

7) Take the baby to a baby group (to ensure she will not turn out to be a sociopath/socially inept/unable to perform all the moves to Wheels on the Bus). 

Every Tuesday the exciting Drink Tea and Talk About Babies While Stopping Your Baby Steal Toys Of Other Babies takes place in the village. My village has a pub and a post box. This is literally the only thing to do with children.  So I really should go along. Integrate with other mums in the community, talk baby food and breastfeeding… while mostly spending the entire time thinking stuff like:  Why is my baby is not sorting shapes yet?  That eleven month old just got the triangle in the correct hole TWICE.   My twelve-month-old is just licking the square. Must start doing more shape sorting. We are going to sort the hell out of some shapes when we get home, then we’ll come back and show that shape-sorting little swot a thing or two.   

I have been once. Not because it is boring (it is but I can handle a bit of boredom to ensure my baby doesn’t turn into non-shape sorting recluse) but because it is at 9.15am in the morning.  This is ridiculous.

Every week I attempt to get myself, The Baby and The Toddler all ready and out of the house by 9am.  Every week I fail.

8) Stop bribing the children with biscuits.

What was I thinking? Take away the biscuits, take away the power.

9) Wean the baby off the night feeds.  (Or rather, wean myself off using my boobs to get her to sleep/shut her up during the night). 

Well, I am still breastfeeding at night when required. I am too tired to give up my pacifying tools just yet.  Plus it means I can keep my C cups for a bit longer…

 10) GET ORGANISED.  Write a Things To Do List once a month so you stay on top of all the Things That Need Doing.  

As I said. I was a dick in January.    

So progress? NIL.   

Before I had children I had it all worked out.  I would look after the babies at home and continue with freelance jobs while James the Husband worked full time at his heavenly haven of hot coffee and adult conversation… sorry, I mean office.  It seemed like the ideal set up. I would work from home, get things done, maybe even finish my Great Novel, get more stuff done, all in the afternoons while the babies were having their naps.

Because babies took naps, right?  Long naps. All afternoon?  And parents use this time to catch up on sleep, have a cup of tea or to Get Things Done?

Turns out not all babies want to nap in the afternoon, or in the morning, or ever.

So, things didn’t quite go to plan… 

Instead, my life is a constant battle to get things done, get some sleep or get babies to sleep so I can get things done.  And when I am not trying to get things done, I am worrying about not getting things done.  I wish the Things would just piss off and leave me alone. I am tired.  I am totally sleep deprived. Some days I barely have the energy to eat or wash my hair let alone to write a Great Novel or do a load of frigging THINGS.

So how do you Get Things Done when your babies won’t go to sleep or stay asleep or leave you the hell alone for five minutes? 

You don’t.

Although, I am starting to think that in the time it took me to write this list and then write about the list I could probably have done some of the things on the list.

* Since finishing this article the sock has finally been moved. I told James the Husband about my sideboard sock plight one night (yes our conversations are that riveting) and he simply picked up the sock and put it in the washing machine, like some kind of sock-moving expert.  (By the way, James the Husband is not a big sexist who believes sock moving is a woman’s job. He had either a) not even noticed the sock, b) had noticed the sock but assumed it was where the socks are kept now, or c) seen the sock but didn’t think it was a problem).      

However, there are now three other socks in its place so I am back to square one.

Does anyone else with sleep-hating babies manage to get stuff done?  Is it just me? Please share any tips in the comment box below or on  Facebook page or follow me at @stolensleep on Twitter.

HOW TO GET YOUR BABY TO GO TO SLEEP AND STAY ASLEEP WHEN THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE ASLEEP.

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 AFTER wasting the best part of two and a half years trying sleep techniques, following advice and reading all the Get Your Baby To Sleep If You Can Stay Awake Long Enough To Read Another Boring Book on Getting Babies To Sleep books, I HAVE HAD ENOUGH.

I have thrown away all the books, unsubscribed from mumswhoknoweverythingaboutbabies.com and I have come to accept that my baby, like her sister before her, will continue to wake me up A LOT during the night until, well, she just doesn’t.

The thing is, my babies don’t just wake up a few times for a feed or a nappy change.  My babies are highly adept in the art of wakefulness.  They laugh in the face of sleep training, spit in the eye of Gina Ford and would drive Supernanny to throw herself off the naughty step.

So these days I use a little technique I came up with myself called Get Your Baby To Go The F*** to Sleep By Whatever Means Necessary.

This is basically how it works:

IT is 4am and I am in bed. Awake. Again.

The Baby has woken up at regular intervals since I put her to bed at 7.30pm.

So by 4am I am seriously pissed off.

For God’s sake, what is her problem now? I whisper angrily as I head to the sleep thief’s cot once again.

I pick her up and (of course) she immediately stops crying.  I sway her from side to side a bit but no lullaby.  Not at 4am. She is not getting a frigging lullaby at 4am.

I can feel her eyes looking up at me. Do not make eye contact, I tell myself. Do NOT speak to her. Do NOT engage with her in any way. Any interaction will only encourage her to stay awake ALL night.

She blows raspberries, I don’t even blink.  She grabs my hair. I do not move. She gurgles something and quite deliberately makes it sound a bit like Mummy, but I SHOW NO WEAKNESS.

Finally, her eyes close, her breathing becomes slow and heavy and her ‘limbs are limp’, so (according to Dr Sears), IT IS TIME.

I creep over to the cot and prepare for the nerve-wracking transfer. I hold my breath and slowly, slowly lower her over the bars.

So far, so good. I lie her down. Still asleep.  I put her blankets on.  Still asleep. I tip toe back to my bed, slide under the covers and close my eyes.  The pearly gates of dreamland are just within my reach…

And then…

A TORTUROUS SCREAM pierces the comfortable silence of the night and snatches me from slumber once again.

Right, that is it. I have had enough of this EVERY night. I am NOT getting up again. NO more Mrs Nice Mummy. I am going to stay right here and close my eyes.

 WAHHH.

Bring it on baby. I am done.  I put the pillow over my head in an attempt to block out the screams. I am going to sleep.

 WAAAHHHHH. 

The screams are louder now but I don’t care. I am staying in bed.

WAHHHHHH.  WAHHHH.

Her screaming has now woken Husband James and the Toddler but I am still NOT getting out of bed.

WAHHHHHHHHH. WAHHHHHH.  WAHHHH.

Ok I am getting out of bed.

And I am back at Square One.  Holding a baby in the darkness.  Rocking, shushing, and praying for the strength to make it through tomorrow after another sleepless night.

She is still awake.

I play the white noise app on my phone. Music box? Ocean waves?

Still awake.

I ask her really nicely to go to sleep. I bribe her. I beg her.

Still awake.

I lie her down in the cot and activate the lullaby machine in the vague hope that tonight WILL be the night she will be ‘soothed gently into a deep sleep’. She immediately screams. I leave her for a minute – waiting for the (five star rated at Amazon) dream machine to do its work.  It doesn’t. She screams some more so I get her out.

Still awake and now in a very bad mood.

I lie her down in bed next to me and feed her. (I have been trying to wean her off the night feeds using a method I call If She Screams Really Loudly I Will Just Feed Her).   This also gives me the chance to do useful things like pick up my phone and Google Stuff That You Really Shouldn’t Google When You Are Sleep-deprived at 4am In The Morning.  Can you die/get some horrible disease from continuous sleep-deprivation? Or is my baby evil?

She has finished feeding but still awake. 

Right, time for co-sleeping…or as it is known in our house Co-sleeping With The Enemy or Pretend To Be Asleep No Matter What  (not for the fainthearted).  She pulls my hair, she bites my nose, she stands on daddy’s head, she tries to climb up the headboard, but finally, finally, finally…

 …she sleeps.

She looks cute, and at 9pm, 10pm or even 11pm I might have gazed lovingly at her for a few minutes. BUT NOT AT STUPID PAST 4AM. I am so over it by now. Desperately seeking sleep, I lie precariously on the edge of the bed.  Despite her size she seems to be taking up a hell of a lot of room. But I dare not move. One cough, sneeze or bed creak and I will be right back at Square One.

I look at the clock.  IF I go to sleep RIGHT this second I could still get a few hours sleep before the actual morning.

SO GO TO SLEEP.

My body is tired but mind is wide awake…and being rather annoying. Why does my baby not sleep? I am definitely not going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow/today. Everyone else’s baby sleeps. I am rubbish at babies.  

OH SHUT UP AND SLEEP.

Eventually my aching muscles sink into the mattress and I doze off…for about an hour and a half. At which point, I am rudely awoken by the Toddler shouting something about Thomas the Tank Engine and Weetabix.

So I get up, get dressed (eventually) and get on with it (with the help of a big cup of coffee).   And as I play, sing, read and laugh with my lively girls, I think to myself that actually I am not that rubbish at babies. My house is a mess, I can’t get my head around anything more complicated than Play Doh, but the girls are happy and healthy, so (for today at least) I am kicking sleep-deprivation’s arse….

It is amazing how much better things look after a good….ninety minutes sleep…

So, how do you get your baby to go to sleep and stay asleep when they do not want to be asleep?

Wait until they are like, really, really, really, tired (about two years) then they will finally sleep like, well, a baby….

Failing that, read this post and do the complete opposite.

Still awake?  Then invest in a good survival kit – coffee, wine, a spare bed and Sky plus- and wait for it to pass. Good luck!!!

Do you have a survival kit? Feel free to share any of your tips on surviving with a sleep thief in the comment box below or on my  Facebook page thingy and meet other sleep-deprived parents.

 

 

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND IRRITATE PEOPLE (when you have babies)

lose 2WHEN you first have a baby your friends are great. They come to see you with bucket loads of cuddly toys and coo over your bundle of joy. They will offer to babysit ‘whenever you need a break’ and refer to themselves as Aunty/Uncle….

Enjoy this for about three weeks.

Then the honeymoon is well and truly over.

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND IRRITATE PEOPLE (when you have babies)

1) Do not go out in the evening.

2) Do not go out before 10am.

3) Never arrive anywhere on time.

4) Blame everything on teething. Tantrums, crying, lateness, missing appointments, unruly behaviour, tiredness, vomiting, weeing on the floor.  I am pretty sure if World War Three started tomorrow somehow it would be due to teething.

5) Don’t go anywhere later than 5pm.  If you do go out always make sure you are back by 5pm.

6) Post the following pictures on Facebook: (then keep checking to see how many likes they get)

a) Your baby smiling.

b) Your baby with food all over her/his face.

c) Your baby in adult’s sunglasses.

d) Your baby asleep with the caption.  ‘She is so cute – when she is asleep!’

7) Make sure your Facebook status updates are about how your babies are ‘still not asleep’!

8) Always fail to notice that the traffic lights have changed to green because the baby screams every time you stop the car and it is a little distracting. (According to Mr BMW, this makes me a w**ker).

9) Ensure your toddler screams loudly at all of your male friends.

10) THE THREE Ps.  Puke, pee and poo. Ensure your baby deposits one, or ideally all of the above on your friends whenever they visit.

11) When meeting up with your non-parent friends make your children call them aunty/uncle so that they feel pressure to babysit/buy them presents/be nice to them etc.

12) Don’t answer the phone.

13) If you do manage to answer the phone, talk for just a few seconds before a) your toddler grabs the phone and hangs up or b) you have to go and tend to a baby.

14) Take at least three days to reply to a text message.

15) Forget to lock your mobile so that your toddler can accidentally call your friends at 5am in the morning.

16) If you do EVER manage to meet up with friends make sure you interrupt the conversation every two minutes to retrieve the toddler from the table/behind the counter/other people’s chairs, sniff the baby’s nappy, change the baby or take the toddler to the toilet.

17) Then get your friend to hold the baby ‘for a minute’ while you nip to the toilet then DO NOT retrieve the baby for at least half an hour.

18) Just when you start to become a little less irritating – have a second baby.

So there you have it. Parents can be a bit annoying. But don’t be too hard on us.  We really do try to answer the phone, make it to your birthday party and reply to your messages but it isn’t always that easy. Because babies take up literally ALL of our time.  They don’t care if we have been up all night and would quite like to sit down for FIVE minutes.  They don’t give a toss whether we are supposed to be meeting a friend for coffee or going out for lunch.  All they know is that right NOW they really want a drink of milk, a wee, a cuddle or just to run around the kitchen naked.

But we can’t blame it all on the children.  We are just as likely to turn up late because the baby has just said her first word and we spent an hour trying to get her to repeat it.  Or we are making the eight-month-old giggle and forgot to check the time. Or because the toddler has fallen asleep on us for the first time since she was a baby and we are enjoying the moment. But we can’t tell you that can we?  The thing is; it is these moments that make the sleepless nights, the dirty nappies, the tantrums and the tears,  all so worth it.

(But it is usually because of teething….)

Have you been irritated by a parent recently?  Or are you a parent who has been irritating?   Feel free to share your experiences with me!