Mama loves food

After a lot of interest from my fan base (kirsty) here is another food blog. Basically just what I ate in a day:

Breakfast: five chunky stacked American pancakes (pretty much the only thing this cook makes from scratch), good chunk of salty butter, fait bit of maple syrup and three quarters of a pack of the fanciest looking streaky bacon sainsburys had on offer (pre covid panic).

Lunch: three jam donuts eaten silently in the car when Emily slept. Followed by random mouthfuls of these salty treats:

Post lunch: one quarter of a pack of leftover bacon eaten cold while hiding in the fridge door.

Snacks: occasional handfuls of cheese chunks, cucumber sticks, grapes and blueberries that Emily cast onto the floor.

Dinner: Paella ready meal. I know lockdown could provide a perfect opportunity to create fresh food but quite frankly I can’t be fucked with that. I also drank a really cold bottle of coke with lemon because sugar is my new coping strategy and lemon makes it fruit.

Post dinner stress eating: whatever the fuck I could cram in my mouth when Emily was distracted, this includes (but is not limited to) the following:

1 of these, vegan but moist AF

Somewhere between 2 and 4 of these:

And a selection of my dream box of mixed chocolates, which at least included: mini daims, mini snickers, quality street coconut bite, mini milky way

I definitely would have continued the eating further but Emily needed bath time and Emily’s bed time equals my bed time as I’m absolutely bloody exhausted from working full time at the same time as parenting full time as both things are separate jobs.

What a dickhead

No I’m not talking about a toddler (or ex) here.

But I’ve had this massive dickhead somehow get into my head and all he (I’m making it a man, obviously) says is:

‘you’re not good at anything’

‘you’re not good at anything’

I’m not sure how he gained access. I’m not hormonal, I’m no more tired than usual, no one has been mean to me and yet here my unwelcome lodger is.

Fuck you men

Obviously theory one is going to be thrown at men. But not in the men are shit way I normally like to joke about. In the I’m dating someone who is good at everything way. He is an actual, genuine, proper adult. Whereas I can’t even buy lightbulbs properly. Rather than thinking it is nice to be dating someone who is intelligent it just makes me aware of everything I don’t know (a lot), and all the things I’m shit at (pretty much everything). And then I jump on the negative thought train and things spiral and I start acting like a weirdo which is less than ideal.

Maybe I’m the fuck up

Theory two kind of suggests that this dickhead isn’t in fact a dickhead but a fact teller. I keep fucking up. Multiple times I have forgotten to put my handbreak on and rather than thinking, fuck I forgot my handbreak, I sat in a confused gaze wondering how the world is moving away from my car and what has happened to my eyesight. I smashed a glass last night, I spill drinks on a daily basis and my ability to remember a password is laughable. I have three debit / credit cards on rotation (plus cash reserves) as normally at least one is missing.

Whilst these things can be acceptable, or even endearing if you are Zooey Deschanel type with other skills. However I can’t counter act my deficiencies with… incredible cake baking skills (?) I’m not actually sure what makes up for the above. What I do know is that if someone asked me what I’m good at I would answer…uh…um…modesty?

Or it is that toddlers fuck you up

My back up scape goat after men, toddlers. Because what’s the point in becoming a parent if you can’t blame crap on your child.

I know that one of the things I would like to say I’m good at is parenting. But after the absolute fiasco that was shoe shopping in Clarks today (among many many other things) I’m backing away from that one. And although Emily isn’t asking questions yet I’m somewhat bracing myself for all the questions that she will ask that I know zero about. My science knowledge is zero, I know the name of only one dinosaur – I’ve no idea what children want the answers to but I’m guessing plenty of stuff I have no idea about. And if I did once know then I’ve probably forgotten due to sleep deprivation. Lose lose.

The antidote

Haha…obviously I don’t know the solution. That’s what the whole post is about, how useless I am.

I do however love a good moan so today I’ve whinged to my dad and one of my WhatsApp groups. Whilst my wonderful ego flattering school friends did a fabulous job, my inner dickhead could think of a counter argument to everything (cunt).

As my solution to everything is reading, I’m going to try to read my way out of this one. Even if it is unsuccessful at least it is a distraction that may get me out of this funk.

I’m thinking The Chimp Paradox may be relevant, but I also think it could be patronising corporate bullshit which will piss me off.

Potentially The Comparison Cure, however I think this may be less relevant and just something I want to read because Instagram told me to.

So I’d really appreciate any good recommendations for self help books / blogs / other to evict the dickhead. Thanks.

Shit mum awards

I wish I was writing a funny post about some amusing mum fail. I’m not. I’m just feeling shitty if I’m honest.

We had a good morning, soft play with some friends we haven’t seen in a while and their toddlers. We even managed a four toddler group photo with all little faces in the same direction.

But I always feel slightly on edge. The tantrums are intense at the moment. Last night there was a twenty minute stint of screaming and floor rolling on account of me opening a cupboard containing biscuits (which she isn’t allowed). I tried what I could: cuddles, soothing words, back strokes and everything just made her worse so I sat on the sofa and waited it out. I’m so anti cry it out but nothing was helping and I was at a loss. It was pretty shit.

Tonight we were breastfeeding to sleep but Emily likes to touch my skin, scratch and grip my collar bone. It’s even more annoying than it sounds and I don’t want it to become a habit…cue screaming. In the end she fell asleep in a exhausted grump clinging on to a plastic toy. Normally she falls asleep snuggled up to me, so although I should be happy that I could sneak away for some freedom I just feel a bit shit about the whole thing.

I’m trying not to fall into the self pitying hole of ‘poor me my child sleeps the worst / my child tantrums the most’ etc etc. But also…my child tantrums the most. I know this because strangers come up to me full of sympathy saying ‘oh dear, I remember the time my daughter did that’. I’m like oh yeah THE TIME your daughter did that? Yeah? This is THE TIME this morning and I’m pretty sure there is going to be another time again today. Maybe two.

But why do some toddlers tantrum more than others? Is she acting out because I don’t give her enough love and attention? Is she acting out because she is spoilt because she gets too much love and attention?

Oh my god there is so much potential for self criticism and guilt.

And then you can do the fun thing where you get to worry about the worry. Is she tantruming because I’m a stressy mum? Does my worry cause the thing that causes the worry in a stress – tantrum – stress cycle of hell?!

And I wonder, do we all feel like this? I’ve had a few mums tell me they ‘loved every minute of being a mother’. Congratulations to you women (dickheads). I certainly don’t love every minute of being a mother.

But then I remembered the Duchess of Cambridge interview with Giovana Fletcher (fucking loved it, it wasn’t even that exciting but…a princess!!). If you don’t know then Kate is doing research on early years development, she’s also raising three of the most privileged children ever AND she gets the mum guilt too.

If Cambridge Kate gets mum guilt, then maybe we all do. So maybe I should try and forget about it. Maybe acknowledging that some days are shit, we all have them and we all have shit feelings and we should accept them and stop worrying about it.

Any tips on ‘stop worrying about it’ are VERY welcome. Even more welcome are handy tantrum eradication techniques.

Or instead I’m eating an entire mini eggs Easter egg two months before Easter. I’m also watching a Netflix dating show where someone proposed after three conversations. YOLO.

The grass is green as fuck over here

Last Sunday I was having a fabulous time. That morning we had the farm shop to ourselves, I was a bacon sandwich, a jammy dodger blondie  and a flat white in, the tantrum count was zero and the sun was shining.

I had a rare moment of wow my life is so much easier than it could have been. If you know me than I’m sure you’ve heard me complain about how hard being a parent is. Normally in response to someone casually mentioned they are a bit tired (“think how I feel… I am TWO YEARS worth of tired my friend” etc). I’ll roll out my single parent sob story and when I get a hint of sympathy I nod, like the martyr / hero that I am.

But actually, I’m just being a bit of a dickhead. Whilst I’m not entirely lying, being a single parent is genuinely hard – and I genuinely have not had a decent night’s sleep in two years, it is kind of better than regular nuclear parent familying would have been.

And because I like a good list (and I suspect dwindling attention spans also appreciate a list format) I’m listing this one out:

1. Super chill spontaneity. When did I decide I was going out for brunch? Just before I left. I didn’t have to convince anyone, no one was annoyed at me for not doing the housework first, no one was nagging me to get the food shopping home quickly. I’m the boss of my own bacon sandwich schedule and it is a fine place to be.

2. Is it wrong to list not being a parent as the second best part of being a single parent? I’m doing it anyway. On Saturday I was not a parent between 9am and 5.30pm. I went to the cinema, I went shopping without anyone sweeping the shelves clean, I went bouldering. The best bit of my day was a hot bath, it was really full hot bath and the house was silent. I’m not sure many married mums get a day of peace a week. Come join me on the dark side ladies, leave your husbands and gain a bath time.

3. I’m the boss, and not just of bacon sandwiches, I’m the boss of parenting. Kind of. Obviously Emily is the boss of a lot of things – because she is a toddler and I’m too smart to waste my time negotiating with terrorists. So I don’t really mind letting her needs dictate things, I’ll hang out in the car for as long as she needs to nap, I’ll eat dinner on the floor with her if she’s not in a table kind of mood. We are flexi living, Gina Ford hating, routine resistant non-conformists. Everyone has their own ideas on parenting and I’m doing zero compromise to make mine align with another parent’s.

4. Bit reluctant to put this one, as it sounds like kids in nuclear families don’t love their mums (which is a stupid thing to put). But also, it’s my blog so whatever. When I was a newly single mother so many lovely women who grew up in single mum & only daughter families told me about what an amazing bond they have with their mother. Maybe I’m biased by having watched all 153 episodes of Gilmore Girls at least three times over, but growing up in a mum & daughter family seems like it could be lots of fun.

5. The single bit of single mum. Dating is FUN. You (obviously) don’t get to date when you’re married. Unless of course you’re non-monogamous married – which I suspect very few mothers of toddlers can be arsed with. So many women say they lose their identity a bit when they become a mother but when you start dating and chatting to people you don’t feel like a you’re just a mum anymore. I know we should all love ourselves / be our own soulmates blah blah blah BUT it is pretty fun knowing that someone new desires you.

6. I went off on a rather lengthy and misandristic rant on emotional labour on a blog post last year. I stand by that. Whilst I acknowledge that there are some marvellous men who have developed the capacity for initiative (lol JK). I do think that a lot of the mental load of household and child management goes to the woman in the house. I know that most men do pull their weight, but when there are a set number of tasks and two people to complete them there is inevitability an amount of planning behind it. Yes I have to do everything myself but I’m wasting zero energy telling someone else to do anything / checking it has been done / negotiating what should be done (resenting them when it hasn’t).

7. Masturbation. Why the hell not include this?! I have a single friend who eschewed men for a bit in favour of enjoying a solo glass of wine and a wank with her favourite sex toy each evening. Fine life choices being made right there. Whilst I get that married people can masturbate too…do they really just go off of their own for an evening to watch shit TV in peace and then wank at their own convenience? I didn’t. I was wanking on the sly when married. No more. Now anytime post 8pm can be wank o’clock if I so choose it to be.

So I’m not sure if I should have done more than seven reasons. But I’m actually pretty damn tired now (as I may have mentioned) and I feel like wank chat is always a good place to end a conversation so goodnight reader.

Post-psychopath aspirations

i hardened under the last loss. it took something human out of me. i used to be so deeply emotional i’d crumble on demand. but now the water has made it’s exit. of course I care about the ones around me. i’m just struggling to show it. a wall is getting in the way. i used to dream about being so strong nothing could shake me. now. i am so strong. that nothing shakes me. and all I dream is to soften.

– Numbness, Rupi Kaur

Scrolling through Instagram this really resonated with me. I felt like this was worth talking about, because people aren’t normally that honest about how they feel, which is a shame.

People can be hard on themselves for their own feelings. It’s quite easy to assume that you are crazy because most people keep their strangest thoughts hidden. No one wants to be the first to open up in case it puts everyone off, but the irony is that when you let yourself be truly vulnerable with honesty that is when you normally endear yourself most to other people.

To start with an unnecessary amount of context: my first boyfriend cheated on me after four years together. I spent the best part of a year on an emotional roller-coaster. I was up and down, drinking till I was falling down drunk, not eating enough, still having sex in an ‘I’m over him’ way (I was definitely not over him). I was a nightmare, as I’m sure my poor university housemates would confirm.

This time I felt like my new tiny housemate deserved better treatment, you should at least aim not to fuck up your children. Spending my days indulgently crying and drinking and fucking was not going to cut it.

It pisses me off when people hold parents to higher standards, but I do feel that as a non parent you get more free reign to fuck up your life. As a parent you are somewhat obliged to ensure you have good mental health, small people are massive copycats. So in the spirit of not being an emotionally unstable single mother raising an equally disastrous child I had already booked in for my first counselling session before my husband confirmed he would be leaving me (thank you Bupa – I do realise most people don’t have this and the NHS lists aren’t great. I am lucky.)

I very much entered counselling in the self assured state of knowing I probably wasn’t the most fucked up person this 60 something counsellor had dealt with. It’s nice to know you won’t be judged, you can be brutally honest. I had ten sessions and it really helped. I spent a lot of time being told I was normal, being shocked at the realisations of why things went wrong – and then being told it was OK, it happens.

But then I got on with my life, I could have had more counselling but with a job and a child to arrange care for it seemed like unnecessary effort. Only I didn’t have a sounding board to offload my strange thoughts onto every week.

By the September (which is a significant month, as it was only my third wedding anniversary) I was in a fairly strange place mentally. I wasn’t missing my husband or relationship – but I was worried about how I had changed as a person. I was definitely more resilient and strong, but I was a little bit concerned I was an unfeeling psychopath. In my grand quest to not fuck up my child being an unfeeling psychopath was one of the more concerning points. I wasn’t sat contemplating this all day long, obviously working and toddler management (as well as borderline phone addiction + tinder + bumble) kept me busy. But it was a nagging thought.

One afternoon someone checked in on me (knowing September could be a trigger) and we were chatting. She had been through a divorce with children, but was a lot further on the other side. Something she said about the emotionally numb feeling that she felt hit a nerve. I couldn’t help but cry. I’m not a massive crier – the act of crying itself felt like it went some way to confirming I wasn’t a psychopath. But on the whole it just felt so good to know that I wasn’t the only one that felt like that. But better – that it goes away.

I cried so much after the relationship breakdown. I managed to be pretty cheery a lot of the time (I’m sure breastfeeding hormones helped me out there). But I also spent many hours – most of them in the middle of the night – crying. Often so badly I could barely breathe. Borderline panic attack with chest pains crying.

But then I gradually just stopped giving a shit. Maybe I was too tired, maybe I was a psychopath, maybe being tired makes you a psychopath (probably). Whilst it was beneficial to my general functioning I just didn’t feel like me anymore.

I’m not the type of person to cry at anything and everything – but I did give a reasonable amount of caring thoughts to people I know, but also just the world in general. For context every Christmas when most people are enjoying themselves I would spend an unreasonable amount of time getting really sad thinking about all of the single parents spending the day alone because their children are with the other parent and how lonely that would be (the irony being that my first solo Christmas was bloody wonderful). So I’m not a completely self absorbed person under normal circumstances.

But the relationship breakdown left me detached. I could hear about something sad and acknowledge it was sad, then quickly move on. Things didn’t affect me in the same way. An emotional story wouldn’t leave me feeling like there was a heavy weight in my heart and leave me drifting back to it distractedly in the days that followed. I felt a bit like a robot.

Maybe some self defensive part of me will always be a little hardened – more than I was before. Maybe that is a normal part of growing up and having life experiences. My friend who reached out to me confirmed she isn’t the woman she used to be, these things change you. But it meant so much to know that I wasn’t alone. Safety in numbers is reassuring and honesty is a relief.

Maybe someone will be reading this and worrying they are an emotionally detached robot. I hope you aren’t worrying any more, we are all allowed to be a bit unstable every now and again, it won’t last – it will be ok.

As for me this is another funny month. February is when when my husband left me. So it has now been a year and I feel like a confirmed non-psychopath. Maybe I can say I am a post-psychopath. I wish I remembered what it was, I know it was something little, but recently something pulled at my heartstrings like it should do. I finally got the reassurance I was coming back to myself again.

I think back in the autumn I didn’t have the emotional capacity to deal with anything. I’d processed such huge amounts of emotion already my mind and body were on sabbatical – unnecessary feelings were being turned away. Now I feel like a normal person again, a really fucking tired one, but about as emotionally stable as anyone. I’m sure the year cut off isn’t a reliable formula for everyone but I’m glad I’m here.

Out of office on

Just a quick post for anyone who is visiting and wondered where the last 150 posts had disappeared to.

Yesterday I googled my name and it linked here, annoyingly straight to a blog titled poo-nado…not my finest piece of writing. It was quite literally shit.

I always thought my tiny blog would be really hard to find, when I started I would Google an exact title of a blog post I’d written with the words ‘Emily Bea and me’ and it was nowhere in the top few search pages. I felt like I could freely pour out details of my car crash emotional life / unnecessary vagina info / requests for things to be shoved up my bum during childbirth and it was all good fun because the only people reading it came from my ‘close friends’ list on Instagram.

16,000 hits later I have accidentally boosted my SEO so that my name or even ‘single mum yorkshire’ show the site on the first Google page. I feel a lot less anonymous now and am somewhat questioning my choices on the basis that anyone who knows my name can now find out a whole lot more. Way too much more.

I have the tendency to get a bit ranty. At best my blog may give an embarrassing impression of who I am. At worst I probably seem like a hypocritical, self entitled, whiney, greedy, man hating prick.

I started the blog as a way of pouring my heart out and getting me off mindless Netflix binges. I also thought that any other recently dumped mums may find it and sympathise and maybe feel a bit better like we’re all in this shit boat together (but ten months later I can honestly say I do actually like my boat).

So it was never an Instagram friendly piece of self marketing, but it may have gone a little too far the other way. The site where you go when you’ve had a bad day because it’s always fun to go… ah fuck at least I’m not her.

Anyway I couldn’t bear to delete the whole site so all the posts are now private. Perhaps a bit of a knee jerk reaction and maybe I will post some more or make some of the old posts public again.

But for now thanks for reading. Thanks to all my real life friends who used to check in daily and message me on the days where I was writing particularly crazy stuff.

Even bigger thank you to the darlings who would post cards / chocolate / wine / flowers.

Thank you to my Internet friends who sometimes check in on me even though we’ve never met and I am completely incompetent at basics like replying to messages.

2019 was in many ways a bit of a knob. But also it made me realise how lucky I am to be a woman being supported by other women. Women are fucking brilliant and I’m optimistic that 2020 will also be that.

What my cervix has been up to this week

As I have no social life after 7pm I tend to spend my evenings binge eating and reading. At the moment I’m really enjoying How the Pill Changes Everything by Dr Sarah Hill. It’s full of interesting facts and she’s quite funny too.

She is basically saying that the pill affects all kinds of things and I could try and summarise it but I’m actually quite tired so here is a a Guardian article which is much better.

Here is my one little nugget of information for any aspiring strippers in my subscribers list who can’t decide on contraception. The pill makes you less sexy. Strippers know it. At least the ones that compare tips do anyway.

  • Strippers on the pill earn an average of $37 per hour all month long
  • Non pill taking strippers earn $35 an hour when menstruating
  • Non pill taking strippers earn $50 an hour when not menstruating or ovulating
  • Non pill taking strippers earn a whopping $70 an hour when ovulating

Very interesting points! And I may not be a stripper but it’s still nice to feel a be a bit sexy.

(ps it’s not just sexiness it’s immune system, libido, personal grooming, appetite, energy, choice of partner and general joie de vivre among many many other things I don’t even know yet because I’m only 45% in)

So long introduction over and the point I was getting to is that I decided on the copper coil.

Scary, yes, scary.

Or so I thought but I now am I fully fledged COIL FAN.

So this may or may not be relevant to my own life experience of the coil but an interesting point is that it is a very effective emergency contraception. Whereas the morning after pill which we all think of as being the go to choice is in my (not at all expert) opinion actually fairly shit.

If 1000 women had a shag 55 would get pregnant

If 1000 women had a shag then took the morning after pill then 22 would still get pregnant

I don’t feel that those stats are all too reassuring.

So that’s 5.5% chance in general, 2.2% chance on the morning after pill or less than 1% chance with the coil. And BONUS that the coil lasts between five and ten years depending on how brave you are feeling at the fitting (apparently ten year coil is a little bigger).

I’ll run you through my copper coil journey

Where I live in North Yorkshire you need a preliminary appointment to discuss before you can book in for a fitting. And by discuss I mean horrify you. Perhaps the nurse would describe this as providing you with all the information but if I’m completely honest I wanted to be sick / have a little cry to myself.

In her defence she was lovely (as are 99% of the nurses I meet) and she was telling me relevant and important facts. She even had a miniature coil and womb/cervix model.

The two take home facts I got from the appointment were that around 4 in 1000 women will have perforation of the uterus. Basically as horrifying as it sounds – coil jabs into your uterus hard damaging it and requiring surgery. But this sounds less scary as a 0.4% risk factor.

But then if you times it by 6 to adjust for the fact you have a softer womb when breastfeeding it becomes scary again at 2.4%.

Bring it back to the 5.5% chance of pregnancy (and resulting childbirth and unlimited sleep deprivation) and a bit of minor surgery ain’t so bad.

I therefore booked myself in. And didn’t sleep that night because of the words ‘perforation of the uterus’. Horrifying.

Fast forward two days of me spamming my doctor friend with a thousand stupid questions and I was on my way to York Sexual Health Clinic.

A little nervous, big pack of sanitary pads in my bag. Already dosed up on paracetamol with a full tummy to avoid getting all fainty (as instructed).

As with any medical procedure I always announce my anxiety on arrival. I was optimistic there would be a little of my favourite pain relief, gas and air, somewhere on the premises that she would wheel out. No such luck.

I got up on the bed, legs in stirrups, vag ready. The doctor was doing the fitting with the help of a nurse. Lovely nurse was up for a chat to keep me company so obviously I dropped in the ‘my husband left me’ thing so we could spend the time slagging off men. Seemed appropriate to the venue. I didn’t see any men going through awkward discomfort for the sake of contraception. Standard.

Anyway first up is the speculum, standard smear test issue plastic spy hole thing. Then a funny little womb measuring device. Now it probably verged on pain but I would actually describe it more as discomfort.

I know that doctors describe everything as ‘a little uncomfortable’ and you think yeah yeah shut up this is going to fucking hurt.

I would describe it more as… very weird, do not like.

Once your womb is fully confirmed as being coil suitable then up she goes. And IT WASN’T THAT BAD.

Maybe 3 or 4 minutes from speculum in to speculum out. However as my nurse did say I was getting looked after by the dream team and I completely agree. Absolute five star service thanks ladies.

I wholly recommend going to a sexual health clinic where they are regular coil inserters. No chance of me having a GP who does it every now and again having a go on my cervix. I want the most efficient service going. But I will say a huge well done to those ladies that let student nurses / student doctors have a go, you are braver women than me.

Now at this point a lot of women may feel woozy and stay laid down for a while. Some may need to call someone to collect them. Not me (shockingly) I was absolutely buzzing on life, astounded by my pain threshold. Off I strolled into the York sunshine, not even a stomach cramp to complain of (which is common). Lovely big sanitary towel in my pants for any bleeding – which I didn’t even have.

And now my womb is an inhospitable environment for sperm to survive in, hurray that sperm hate copper. Theoretically it works straight away but it only works if it stays in place and you need to check the little threads are in the right place through your cervix so a lot of women go back after a few weeks to have it checked.

Other than that (and regular checks to ensure the little threads haven’t shifted) you’re good for between five and ten years with no artificial hormones. Wowser.

Anyway as I’m a big oversharer do send me a message if you have any questions. Always happy for some vag chat gals.

(ps some kind of generic disclaimer type thing here. I’m not a medical professional, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about I’m just a cervix owner with a bit of copper in her womb. Do talk to someone who is an actual medical professional if you want advice.)

My pregnancy overhshare part three: (the long read) the birth

NB: apologies if you subscribed and are somehow getting this twice, my tech skills are loooow and I’m publishing again for a friend.

I’m aware I’ve skipped the third trimester part of my pregnancy overshare. I’ll do it eventually but here is a synopsis until then:

Heartburn, heartburn, insomnia, piles, horny, fed up.

But with a couple of friends due to give birth soon I thought I’d write this before their babies come sliding out (because it is that easy).

My uterus is an incredibly hospitable environment. So warm, so comfy. Like a hot tub with a constant stream of snacks yet with no calendar to remind Emily it was eviction time.

So on the Friday morning at 42+1 (which means two weeks and one day after due date for anyone who hasn’t been pregnant) I felt a little bit contracty. For anyone that hasn’t felt a bit contracty it is like a period pain but worse but shorter. I already had an acupuncture induction treatment booked so I went. I was having contractions once every half hour or so from 6am, acupuncture was 9am and had the contractions going more frequent during the treatment. I think the acupuncture bit is a whole other post so I’m going to skip over it for now (but if you do have acupuncture questions of any kind do message me because I love a bit of acupuncture chat).

My dad drove me to and from acupuncture but I didn’t want to let on that labour had started so I just went quiet when I was contracting in the car. Now I can’t remember exactly but I think it happened a couple of times between acupuncture and home which is only about ten minutes so things were moving.

It’s no secret that I like my food, so I made my dad do a sandwich stop on the way home and bought all the snacks from Monk Fryston stores. I had a contraction in the shop and smiled my through it to avoid a shop assistant panic.

Back home I sent my dad on his way in a everything is fine manner and made my own little chill out zone. Curtains closed, snuggly blanket, surrounded on all sides by snacks with the BBC adaption of War and Peace on TV. Carb loading TV bliss. I was hoping this would get the oxytocin flowing and the contractions going.

At about 3pm I was contracting one minute out of every five and I thought it was time to get her dad home from work. When he got home they started to get a bit erratic and weren’t consistently every five minutes so I settled down with a spaghetti bolognese. I was a diligent food consumer.

By early evening they were getting a bit intense so I got the TENS machine out and cracked on with paracetamol. I must say the TENS machine wasn’t exactly my thing. You stick the pads to your lower back and it zaps you with an electric shock pulsatingly, then when a contraction hits it gives you a constant electric shock. I think the idea is something about blocking the pain transmission to your brain from the contraction. It’s kind of like you’re at school and a bee stings you so some twatty kid says I’ll help you forget about the bee sting and stamps on your foot and then you’re thinking about your foot instead of the sting.

It might work for some people but I was just thinking argh my back feels weird and my womb hurts all at once. And I kept forgetting to switch modes when the contraction ended.

By late evening I was getting fed up with the pain (and also pretty bored of being in labour to be honest). Not every contraction was five minutes apart but I was just READY to go to hospital. It was quite a nice drive to hospital. Half on hour but all dark, relaxing music on, warm in the car etc. I remember thinking if I’m not ready to give birth we will drive for a bit as this is nice.

There is a fair old walk between the car park and Pinderfields labour ward. I stopped a few times. Staying upright was hard. Onlookers looked at the complaining bent over hippo with much concern. I was offered a wheelchair and although standing straight was hard, so was proper sitting down, so I continued my bent over hobble all the way.

Arriving at the labour ward was a happy time. I was there, it was peaceful. The suite in the midwife led unit was a beaut. I was unsure whether they would let me into the midwife led unit as I was over 42 weeks so was concerned they would send me over to the clinical hospital ward for obstetrics led care. The letter from my consultant did the trick and got me in. Celebrations all round.

The lights were dimmed, Leon Bridges was playing through the Bluetooth surround sound speakers. The enticing birthing pool was right there. I had arrived in my birthing room of dreams. I just needed a nice ripened opening cervix to be allowed to stay.

Shame I had a twat of a cervix. The bitch was one cm dilated. About 18 hours of contractions and it had opened one cm.

Now I’ll go off on a tangent for those not overly knowledgeable on dilation. Your cervix is the opening to the womb at the top of the vagina. Those who haven’t given birth have a 0cm open cervix. Their cervix will feel like a nose, not that soft, not that ‘ripe’. In the lead up to labour it gets soft, changes the angle a little and can sometimes be 1cm dilated before you are properly in labour. The end goal is 10cm dilated.

Contractions are where your uterus tenses up to pull it all up to stretch the cervix open. Once you get it open 10cm you can start pushing.

So when I was informed that it took 18 hours to get to one cm I was pretty deflated. Dilation can go fast then slow then fast so it wasn’t as though I could assume 1cm in 18 hours means a 180 hour labour until I could push. But still I did not enjoy this news.

The midwife cheerily informed me I could be in labour ‘for days’ hurrah. Best news ever. Thank you. I then cried.

My midwife thought TENS machines were crap and advised a warm bath for pain relief. I was avoiding this as I had been told a warm bath would relax your muscles too much and slow down contractions but my midwife thought the risk of this was outweighed by the need for me to rest and try to nap.

My positive thoughts of having a nice little drive if we got sent away were over. I was in pain, I was tired, I was so fed up. The thought of having contractions every few minutes was too much to bear. They were all consuming and there was zero chance of sleeping through them.

Back at home sometime around midnight or early hours I was in a warm bath. All lights down low to keep relaxed, except I wasn’t relaxed as I was entering the torture zone.

The contractions were sporadic but intense. They last one minute which doesn’t sound long but trust me it really fucking is. I coped by having my husband measure them on his phone and shout when I got to 30 seconds. My logic was that they build in intensity, peak and then fall. So it’s all downhill from 30 seconds in. Kind of.

I could barely speak through the contractions but when I needed hope I would shout TIME and he would say the seconds. Often I thought he forgot the 30 second shout out and the minute must have been over but it would sometimes be 10 or 15 seconds by that point. Which sounds silly but it was the worst pain I’ve ever been in (stick with me here… I’m really not trying to scare monger).

I live half an hour from any hospital and Wakefield involves a motorway. My fear was that I would give birth on the motorway. Fear creates tension which creates pain. Every contraction was intensified by fear.

At some point the sun rose. I remember it gradually getting lighter and thinking thank god the worst night of my life is over. Which sounds pretty melodramatic but I had a pretty easy life until this point so it’s all relative.

My husband decided he was exhausted after being awake all night so we asked my mum to come over to drive us to hospital when I was ready.

If you have a fairly long labour (I was 24 hours in at this point) I think it’s good to have a second birth partner. I contravertially have a lot of sympathy for birth partners. It is boring but stressful and exhausting. Having a tag team system works well.

By this point I was phoning the midwives begging quietly for pain relief between contractions then shouting HEEELLLLP MEEEE during them. I was given the very unwelcome advice to take a paracetamol and maybe a hot water bottle. During negotiations they reminded me I could be in labour for days. I insisted no one would survive this pain for days. She suggested I take a nap. I insisted no human being sleeps through this level of pain. She suggested I get a hot water bottle.

The hot water bottle did actually take the edge off (you might as well forget the paracetamol though). I had a bottle on the lower tummy and one on the lower back. If one was taken to be refilled I lost my shit.

At some point during the morning the midwives changed shift. Best news ever. During one call my new best mate Dawn said they may be able to give me some form of injectable pain relief. However before we left I got a bloody show, the bloodiest bloody show you’ve ever seen (The Show is not a musical it’s a mucus plug that keeps the baby inside the womb all snug and clean). Except my ‘show’ was Chainsaw Massacre, when my mum was on the phone to Dawn reporting this I felt like I needed to push so they said come in an ambulance to be safe (noting I didn’t want to give birth in my golf on the hard shoulder).

I was truly terrified at this point. I think I was naked too, covered in blood and mucus to paint you an accurate picture. When the paramedics came into my bedroom I was just shouting I’M SO SCARED at them. I hobbled my way into the ambulance and was given gas and air.

If Dawn was my new best friend then gas and air was my soulmate. DAMN I was into that stuff.

I think the exhaustion and terror really heightened the effect.

I was recounting my last adventure with gas and air when I was a student and got a shard of glass stuck in my foot and I got offered it while they plucked it out. I gave the paramedic a full review of my Manchester Infirmary A&E experience from 2008 which I’m sure he didn’t want. I also tried to get him and my husband to share the gas and air with me so we could all have fun together but they declined.

It is ever such fun arriving at hospital in an ambulance. You get wheeled in on a stretcher and get VIP access but they also let me keep the gas and air all the way to the ward.

Normally you get the gas and air only during a contraction. No such rules from my mate the paramedic. I was thoroughly off my tits on arrival. My friend was still at Pinderfields recovering from a long birth. I was screaming her baby’s name and saying she had been born here to any passing nurse. I was also cheerily saying Dawn has the drugs, I’m going to see Dawn (on repeat).

At the midwife led unit I got Dawn but also a bonus student midwife Georgina. I heard the student bit of her title and thought she was here for a laugh. I spent a fair bit of time trying to make her do gas and air with me for a bit of fun. I also wanted her to know about a book I’d read to give men advice on pregnancy and labour. In my defence it was written by a male midwife so I felt it was highly on topic.

The book said that men need to get labour going by making the woman orgasm (something about oxytocin and maybe the muscles contracting) which is fine to go in a book. But this author wrote make her orgasm but don’t be expecting anything back (fair) and don’t go wanting to come all over her chest afterwards. I found it a bit explicit and unexpected for a childbirth book and also hilarious after a solid 30 minutes on gas and air. I thought that as a student she would find this similarly hilarious but she just found it VERY awkward as my husband found it VERY embarrassing.

Perhaps to shut me up I was quickly sent through to the birthing pool. The birthing pool is a whole other level of heavenly experience. This thing is no bath. Deep and like an actual pool you can swirl around and go totally underwater. The room lights were dimmed and there were underwater lights shifting from blues to pinks to purples. Oh it was lovely. With gas and air for the contractions. At one point a cheese sandwich was pushed at me. It was the best cheese sandwich I’d had. I was having a good old time.

The key point here was that I was no longer afraid. The midwife led unit was my dream birth situation, I was a happy gal and therefore the contractions were regular and bearable.

At one point they were concerned about how long since I had done a wee. They wanted me to wee in a cardboard bowler hat. The problem was that all the muscle tension from the contractions meant I couldn’t release enough to wee. The main problem was that a full bladder blocks the birth canal to stop the baby coming out.

I had to have a catheter, it wasn’t as bad as you would think. She was using the cardboard hats to collect the wee and couldn’t believe it when she had to get additional hats. So much wee. Apparently I’ve got a massive bladder.

I also did a poo in a cardboard hat (nothing is TMI now). Which was excellent forward planning on my part as it meant I didn’t poo in the pool/ on my baby.

As things got close I was drifting out of this world a bit. In the preceding two and half days I had a total of three hours sleep. I was so tired. I remember going completely underwater a lot and not hearing what they were saying.

For a while I was telling them the head was there and they didn’t think it would be yet but on closer inspection could see it.

I was pushing that baby out for three hours. For quite a long time they could see the head but when that contraction ended she was getting dragged back up. It was so hard.

I really didn’t want to tear (obviously) and I had read a lot about relaxation to avoid a tear. Loosening your jaw, breathing etc and tried this but at one point she had been there far too long and it was getting dangerous.

If anyone wants a description of how it feels to push a baby’s head out of your body the best way I can describe it is a Chinese burn to the vagina. But also I must point out that my birth was filmed and her head was a shockingly small fraction of the size it was after birth when it passed through my vagina. In case you didn’t know the skull is soft and made of segments which overlap to make it smaller. Emily’s became so small that my mum was watching and was absolutely terrified something was seriously wrong as it looked alarmingly small.

Back to the story… I managed to get the head out but the shoulders were stuck.

Quiet concern was passed between two midwives whilst staring at my vagina/baby’s head. Emily was being born en caul which means that my waters hadn’t broken. So basically the protective sac that she had grown in was coming out of my body intact with all the amniotic fluid, which should be clear ish. I now know they were trying to work out if she had dark hair and that explained the colour or if she had done a poo inside the sac which was making it brown.

Doing a poo in the womb isn’t just gross it is a sign the baby is stressed. If the baby is stressed it is a warning that something could have gone very wrong. The baby needs to be out as quickly as possible. In my case they thought I was close enough to get her out.

Alarm buttons were pressed and more midwives flooded in. Gas and air was confiscated. Calm breathing and an open jaw was disallowed. I was told don’t breathe, don’t pause, grit your teeth and push push push push.

It didn’t work. They said get out of the pool we are going to cut you. Sounds quite scary really. In a bid to reassure myself I said with the local anaesthetic yes? And they said no time and too risky. So I said you lift me out of the pool yes? Nope they said. You climb out and don’t smack the baby’s head on the side.

I climbed out but it wasn’t easy. I then crab walked to the birthing sofa (no hospital beds in this super chill part of hospital).

At some part during this graceful moment the waters broke. They were right there had been poo. Poo and amniotic fluid went all over the pool / room, with blood.

And then said give us the hardest push you have ever done or we cut you.

That kind of threat did the job. Out she sloshed.

I wish I could say there was this magical moment where I had a lightening bolt of love like I had never before experienced and would change my life forever.

Instead I thought wow so slippery, so dark (remember she was effectively covered in poo), so vulnerable. What the fuck am I doing. But then she didn’t scream.

My plan was delayed cord clamping but a rub down later she still wasn’t breathing and got taken away to be resuscitated in another room.

I later found out that she had the cord around her neck twice which was why she wasn’t breathing initially, and probably why she kept getting dragged back up when I was almost pushing her head out then disappeared back up again.

Now her being taken away sounds scary and of course it was. But I knew this wasn’t unusual and with everything going on I just thought surely nothing bad could happen, that would be too bad, I can’t even consider the possibility. Before they could get her to the machine she started breathing on her own and was brought back for a cuddle, all safe.

However I needed the placenta out. I wanted it to come out of its own accord with a little pushing from me (natural third stage). I was told this wasn’t safe, I think because I was maybe bleeding too badly so I had the injection and they gave it a little tug. I was terrified of the tug but it wasn’t too bad.

Then they said I needed stitches. I had a second degree tear with ripped muscles inside my vagina and ripped skin on my vulva. I was so terrified. I lay with legs in the stirrups and she almost started a few times and I shouted, no stop, I was too afraid. They do give local anaesthetic but who wants any kind of needle shoving into your battered and torn vagina.

She kept telling me to have gas and air and I kept saying no I feel too sick. I succumbed and was soon back on the happy train. I kept chatting about my favourite midwife of all time Ina May Gaskin and was fangirling all over the place. I got so enthusiastic I was literally shouting at her and kept waking the baby and getting told off by her father. That stuff makes me drunk and disorderly in an enthusiastic kind of way.

At the end they put a painkilling suppository in your bum. Dawn looked really concerned before she told me this (because I was pretty much losing my shit at anything that happened before that) so I got really worried when she warned me I wouldn’t like what was coming. She said very seriously a suppository needs to go in my bum. I said very seriously back, am I allowed lube? And when she said yes I drunkenly said Dawn as long as it is lubed up you can put anything in my bum. No problem.

Just a reminder that my mum was in the room, as was my husband when I very much made it sound like I was some kind of lube / anal connoisseur.

And although this is highly non relevant (and I issue no judgement to those that are) but I am 100% not a lube, and certainly not an anal, expert.

I was just happy as a clam at high tide that the needle in vagina segment of my day was over.

On that cheery note I feel I have said enough. If you got this far then thanks, I’m appreciative of your commitment to my lengthy birth story.

And as a side note to anyone that was bothered by my descriptive words such as torture to describe my cervix dilating at home I’ll tell you this. My friend got to a similar level of dilation walking around at home feeling ‘a bit weird’. No labour is the same, no experience of pain is the same, no body is the same. But most of all YOU GOT THIS and you will get through it and when you do you will be a fucking superhero no matter how you get there.

Less bullshit more books

If you know me then you’ll know I’ve had a crappy couple of weeks…wedding anniversary blaaahh.

So I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating and something I read during the shittest weeks at the start of the year was:

My happiness does not depend on other people’s decisions

And I’m trying to live by that. No point wallowing, you’re allowed a little cry but it’s best to stop there.

I’m trying to stay cheery and positive, but sometimes things get on top of me. I ended up having a heart to heart with someone at work last week and cried at my desk. And because it was 4.30 and a Friday I thought fuck it, I’m going to treat myself to a proper sob. I took myself off for a ten minute proper crying session in the shower room.

YOLO

If you have read pretty much anything I’ve done you’ll know I’m really into the self care (generally food based). But somehow stuffing my face with multiple McDonald’s per week isn’t completely safeguarding my wellbeing and mental stability. So odd.

So fresh from my crying fest I rang my acupuncturist. Because everyone loves Adam I couldn’t get in until next Tuesday. Damn I’m looking forward to that acupuncture session.

I’m not sure if I give off the impression that I am mentally stable but I feel almost crazy most of the time. My heart rate is ridiculous…always over 100BPM when I measure it. This must be boosting my metabolism as I’m eating ridiculous quantities of food but I’m borderline underweight. My poor body is running on adrenaline with barely any sleep to recover.

So I’m a quite optimistic that acupuncture will slow me down a bit and chill me out.

But also I’m slipping into bad habits. I’ve given up on Tinder and Bumble as I was matching with people, maybe sending one message and then wanting to keep chatting but generally being too much of a tired woman / lazy procrastinator to continue. So no point really. Goodbye dating apps.

I’ve got a couple of people on WhatsApp still…who I’ve met in real life. But I’m finding myself checking to see if if I have messages a lot. I think I have some sad trying to feel validated by male attention thing going on. It’s not feminist, it’s not living by my happiness not depending on other people’s decisions mantra. It’s not on.

My happiness will not depend on WhatsApp notifications.

I am more than my phone 💪🏻

So anyway…back to my earlier point.

BOOKS

I’m always reading but lately I’ve been reading a lot of sex psychology / anthropology type stuff. At first it started off super interesting (read Sex at Dawn right now…after this blog I mean). But then I was like ah damn I wish I had sex on tap. Damn all these married women I know with access to whenever they want it sex DAMN THEM. But also I got a bit annoyed at men. Many, many different statistics pointing out the fact that men just want young, attractive, big boobed, small waisted, big hipped women with beautiful clear skin and good muscle tone. For fucks sake.

One of the books I read said that when women say they like a man with a good sense of humour they mean he makes them laugh. Whereas men say the same but really mean they want a woman who laughs at their jokes. I feel the exemplifies what irritates me about men.

And back to my main point. I’m not feeling great. Not terrible but not as good as I could be feeling. Because I’m binge eating and checking messages too often.

Do I want to be fat and disappointed and needy?

Nope.

So I’m going to read novels. This will fix EVERYTHING I’m sure.

It also goes towards ticking off one of my 40 before 40 goals

I nearly went with the BBC book challenge that was going around a few years ago. But that had the bloody bible on it. There’s no chance I’m sitting down cover to cover reading the bible. Or the complete works of Shakespeare for that matter.

So I found this Penguin reader inspired list that I’m going for. First up is Great Gatsby which I’ve read (and you should too) but next is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez which I haven’t actually heard of but I am optimistic will tip me out of this mood and get me off being such a needy person.

Also if you see me in real life and I’m walking around clasping a McDonald’s coffee cup checking my phone do please tell me I’m a twat. I need to mend my ways big time. Thanks pals.

Stuff men say

So I found a tall, Welsh, bearded rugby player on Bumble 👍🏻

They have question prompts on Bumble profiles and everyone is so bloody predictable:

Mountains or Beach?

Why do I have to choose, I pick both!

Yawn.

Bearded dragon however:

How did your year five teacher describe you?

A great shag.

Funny. Creepy but funny.

However he then followed it up with:

How would your mum describe you?

Also a great shag.

Actual lol.

I obviously messaged him on his excellent taste in jokes and he said I was the first one to notice….how so?! I’m clearly the only creepy lady on Bumble.

So I shared this with a colleague and one of his friends used to use the ‘chat up line’ :

I want to drink your dirty bath water

What the actual fuck?! I like creepiness but I think this is other level. The worse thing is that it sometimes worked 😱

Then there are the direct guys…one man wrote

I’m into push the thong to the side and straight in sex

He wrote this on his profile!

It’s a bit explicit but personally I would rather read that than this which is disappointingly common:

☑️ 6 foot tall (apparently that’s important)

☑️ Own house

☑️ Own car

☑️ Own teeth

☑️ No crazy ex

Which I find INSULTING TO WOMEN. Like that’s all we want. No need to tell me about what you’re interested in, what your personality is like. We just want very basic things, but obviously the hilarious joke about teeth makes it ok.

And then there are the cunts:

Looking for a women who knows how to look after herself

I mean… I know how to look after myself. I’m good at me time. I read, I buy myself donuts, I take naps. But I suspect ‘look after herself’ means ‘is skinny and waxed’.

And then the downright twatty:

Don’t swipe right if you’re punching above your weight

😒

Anyway, baby is awake so rant over for today

Why Fifty Shades of Grey is bullshit bullshit bullshit

NB : This photo has almost no relevance to the article. But when I typed ‘sex’ into the search bar he was the only man and why not?

As babies offer very low quality chat I always do a lot of reading. At the moment I’m on Come As You Are : the surprising new science that will transform your sex life. Obviously this is HIGHLY relevant to my currently very active sex life. But I was a good Brownie, always be prepared etc. It is written by a sex therapist and it’s quite interesting.

Anyway apparently noncorcordance isn’t very well known outside of psychology / sex therapist land so I’ll share a fact with you.

Fifty Shades of Grey was bullshit. ‘Of course it was’ you’re thinking. No woman says ‘holy cow’ when turned on and yes this is correct, that is one it many reasons why it is bullshit.

But also in one of the early scenes Christian gets all spanky and whippy on Ana.

He asks how she feels and does she say ‘aroused’?

No she bloody does not. She says ‘demeaned, debased and abused’.

Does that sound fun? No it does not.

But Christian then says AH-HA but I note that your vagina is wet. Therefore I am the all knowing sexual master I presume myself to be despite you categorically telling me you are not enjoying this I can say I know better.

Because… MEN.

So the science is that if you show a woman anything sexually relevant her genitals will frequently respond, but if you ask her if she is aroused then there will only be a 10% overlap for what she says she likes and what she is physically responding to.

So if you show a woman who isn’t into watching bonobos have sex (and who is) a video of bonobos having sex she will probably have increased bloodflow to her genitals. But if you ask her if she is aroused she will probably say ‘nah, these are apes and I’m not into ape sex’. But women are very organised, very prepared people. The female body says ‘ah, I recognise that this is sex and I shall make preparations just in case’.

This physical reaction without a mental agreement is called noncorcordance.

Whereas men have a 50% overlap between having both a sexual reaction and a mental note that it is arousing. It’s not 100% but it’s a lot more than women have. So basically men are less responsive to things that are sexual, but are not their sexual cup of tea. They can’t be bothered getting hard unless they want it to end in sex. Some might say efficient, and they’d be right. But I say lazy because men are annoying and I have a pessimistic view of males.

Luckily for Christian Grey twat face, Emily (the author of Come As You Are) has re-written the dialogue:

Grey says to Ana, “Feel this. See how sexually relevant your body considers physical contact with your buttocks and genitals, Anastasia. That gives me no information about whether or not you liked it. Did you like it? No? Double crap, let me make it up to you by reading Emily Nagoski’s book about women’s sexual wellbeing, so that I have a clue next time.”

It’s also true that women can be really into it without showing any physical signs. Perhaps because it’s nowhere near ovulation so her body thinks – why waste resources? Perhaps she is dehydrated and her body thinks – why waste resources? Perhaps she has given birth and her hormones are still saying WHY THE FUCK WOULD I DO THAT AGAIN? Female bodies = very sensible.

So in case there are any men reading this (which I highly doubt there are). How do you know if she is into it?

Just talk to her, watch her body language. Good life advice in general really.

Cups of blood

I know I’ve been absent for a while, and the main thing my huge fan base has been wondering is how my next period went, was my search for the perfect menstrual cup fruitful?

I’ll say now this article may be way too TMI for some readers. It’s all vag and blood so skip on if that’s not your thing.

So! For for those of you that missed my terribly exciting last period post I was looking for advice on the perfect menstrual cup for me.

Got my cup stuck

I had a little dabble in menstrual cup usage pre baby. I bought a moon up in the smaller size (which is for under 30s who haven’t had a baby). But I found my vagina was terribly possessive of the little thing and I couldn’t get the bugger out. It’s a clear cup with a ribbed end to grip onto to pull out, only I get couldn’t get it out! So after much much googling, tugging, some squatting and finally a poo beforehand it was released in a big messy blood explosion all over the toilet. Never had I been more relieved to get something out of my vagina. It did get easier with more usage (and more ‘bearing down’) but it was always an effort.

As it was clear it eventually turned a little less clear (as obvs…blood). And you need to rinse it between each emptying and then sterilise in boiling water, or in the dishwasher (🤢) after each period. I kept a dedicated mini pan to sterilise in, but I didn’t really want to keep a period pan in my house.

So I wasn’t in love with my moon cup and reluctantly reverted back to tampons.

Oh Hello Aunt Flo

After a significant menstruation break of 18 months following a pregnancy and breastfeeding I got my menses back. I went old school and used pads, which I hadn’t done since I was a teenager. But pads are a bit gross in my opinion, I get paranoid you can see them, what if there is a rustle? A smell? So much paranoia. And then you have a bin full of discarded uterus blood. No thanks.

Luna Luna Luna Luna

So after much thought (my friend told me which to buy) I got the Me Luna. I like it because

– it’s black

– it has a little ring pull thingy

– it is the most popular with Scandinavian women (who we all know are superior human beings)

However there are other pull options and sizes:

So it was easy to insert (as was the moon cup tbh). You just fold the upper section, pinch with your finger tips and up she goes. However as I walked away I could feel the ring pull slipping out 😱. I had all kinds of horror about the state of my enormous vagina. So I took it out and tried again and it was fine, I think I hadn’t put it I far enough the first time.

Extraction was easy, maybe because of the ring pull…maybe because I pushed a nearly 9lb baby out of my vagina with sheer ‘bearing down’ force so a moon cup with a ring pull was ZERO challenge for my new found skills. (here I am pretending this is a wonderful skills to have, when in reality it’s probably that I don’t have a super tight twenty – something non mother’s vagina 😔).

As removal was easier there was no dramatic explosion as I could take it out in a rather civilised manner (after the first try anyway).

And I found this menstrual cup steriliser which just goes in the microwave with a bit of water when you’re done for the month. Easy peasy.

I think it was £27 for the cup and steriliser. But I never have to buy tampons again. Hurrah.

I also think it’s better for your vagina. It’s not drying, it hasn’t been bleached.

And you don’t have to flush tampons (ps don’t flush tampons, I know they say you can but I know a plumber who gets called out to sort tampon issues. You don’t want that.) and you don’t have to fill your bin with uterus blood soaked bits of fibre. Gross.

And it’s better for the environment.

So buy yourself a menstrual cup. Do it.

Pure, spiky vulnerability. Or…are you basically three today?

Bit of a lazy post, 90% copied from a book. I’m reading I’m absolutely fine: A Manual for imperfect women pretty much because Claudia Winkleman said it was brilliant and I like her. I’m not even through the free sample yet but I’m feeling generally a bit mental at the moment and it’s always fun to have someone tell you they are a bit mental too. So here’s an excerpt:

Someone has hurt my feelings and I am holding a massive grudge. I only refer to them by their full name and I do not wish them well. I need my hand held. Metaphorically. I do not know that I need my hand held but then someone –metaphorically –DARES to hold my hand and I feel a bit less at sea. I can’t do anything. I just can’t, I just can’t, I just can’t. I’m hungry and I can’t concentrate, I don’t know what I want to eat and I might not eat just to make it worse. Today, I am basically three. I have no emotional regulation, no ability to self-soothe, I am low-level vengeful and not to be trusted. I am not able to properly look after myself and I might cry, hit or slightly wet myself at any point. I am hot. I am cold. I like you. I hate you. I am JEALOUS. Everyone has better toys. My inner maniac has taken hold of the wheel and put her tiny foot down and God knows what is going to happen next. I am a liability but it really isn’t hormonal. For once. Or tiredness. For twice. It just is what it is. Pure, spiky vulnerability. Maybe we should add this to our support-arsenal? What about a simple, ‘So, are you basically three today?’YES YES YES. Thank God someone understands.

NB: I had to pause writing the tiny amount I actually wrote because I couldn’t spell excerpt without getting on Google. I hate baby brain / sleep deprivation brain.

My pregnancy overhshare part three: the second trimester

The middle bit. The easy bit. The no symptoms bit. The bit where you feel so fine you can forget you are pregnant!

Fucking liars.

Oh my word, every bit of pregnancy sucks. The nausea wears off but for me the headaches and back ache hit in full force around week 15.

I did have a bit of a bump (the picture at the top is week 20). But obviously not as ridiculous as I would get. My so helpful, so friendly, male (and yet somehow expert in pregnancy) colleague enjoyed telling me how I shouldn’t have backache yet as I’m just going to get bigger and how will I cope then??? Yeah but piss off mate.

Turns out that your body goes crazy firing off the hormone Relaxin which can screw up all your ligaments and things in order to let your body stretch out and grow a human. This meant my back temporarily forgot how to do it’s job right. Luckily my body got it’s act together and the back ache was just for a few weeks. Heat pads were my friends.

Oh the headaches. Oh lord. Normally I dose up on paracetamol and ibuprofen and sleep till it goes. I couldn’t take ibuprofen, I couldn’t properly sleep, we are paperless at work so I was staring at a computer screen all day. Hideous. Relentless headaches. I took paracetamol to ease it off and not go insane and have some ability to do my job.

One day I used some of the precious annual leave to have a break from computer headachedom and have at home headachedom. Grazia insta stories told me that when pregnant women take paracetamol they basically fuck up their baby daughters. I went on a bit of a breakdown at this news. The NHS website told me I could have it! I had a cry and a rant on my online friends Mum Facebook group and they talked me around. Basically the research was done on mice taking many times more the dosage (proportionately) a pregnant woman would. And ya know, they are mice and we are humans so not directly representative anyway. So then I calmed down, but took no more paracetamol after that which was HARD as the headaches were a killer for another few weeks.

A good bit was the 20 week scan. I really, really wanted a girl. The scan was two days before my birthday, it was an excellent present and we had a day out to celebrate and bought her her first teddy from Stonegate Teddy Bears and had breakfast at The Ivy. I love breakfast at The Ivy.

I can’t remember much else other than achey, achey tiredness. Working full time was still a real struggle. As was the caffeine restriction. As was the people I work with telling me I wasn’t allowed any caffeine when the NHS says I can have 200mg and other more widespread research says 400mg and that shitty little Nescafe Azera only had 100mg so shut up and let me drink my coffee you twat bags.

Not that it irritated me. I take unsolicited advice about my pregnancy REALLY WELL. Especially from people with a background in finance and not healthcare. Those guys know all the stuff.

So next time you see a pregnant woman with a coffee just ask her if she wants a biscuit. Don’t say anything else, just get her a biscuit.

Books for a divorcing single mum

Here are a few books that I’ve enjoyed since finding out that ’till death do us part’ actually meant 2.5 years and a baby. I’m not bitter, I’m not bitter at all.

(I’ve actually read way way more as I’m constantly reading but not constantly reading about divorce, do message me if you like a bit of book chat)

Split, a story of love betrayal and divorce. Suzanne Finnamore

I so enjoyed this book, it was both funny and heartbreaking but always honest. The woman is a gorgeous media type living in California, she is well off with a beautiful home and friends to casually drink champagne with over brunch. You wouldn’t think it would be relatable but the lines like this one you realise we all have the same struggles:

“I am drunk in front of the television, chain-smoking. I have not bathed in two days.”

(before the mum shamers see this – as a breastfeeding non smoking woman I substitute alcohol and cigarettes for donuts and cake. Not ideal but not worth calling social services for)

But it isn’t all stark truth bombs on falling apart, there are some inspirational parts and it really ends on a high:

“You learn that it can be a life-enhancing gift, and not just a wound taken in a heart-game called marriage. Finally, you understand that the game isn’t to get your husband back, or to get a new one. The game is to get free”

She is also very amusing, I would like to have her as my friend.

The Kick Ass Single Mom, Emma Johnson

I don’t think I would like Emma as my friend. I think she would judge me and my pessimism. She is one of those people Americans would call a Type A personality. The book is quite money focused which is fair enough, money makes the world go round and all that, but I think she is absolutely coming from a place of priveledge which we can’t all tap into.

Her general view is that children should spend their time 50/50 between their parents and as such there is no need for child maintenance to be paid. She also thinks that if you work hard enough you can absolutely make enough money to be very successful in life to support yourself and your children easily and well without any help. My view is that my little baby should have one primary carer and spend the majority of time with me so that she feels settled and attached. Also my soon to be ex husband planned this family with me and is the only father she has so he can bloody well pay child support.

“A Kickass Single Mom never plays victim. You are responsible for your life. You are not allowed to blame your ex… when times get tough. You are never, ever, ever entitled.”

I however do agree with her views on dating and sex. Pretty much go out and have sex and have fun. No reason to pretend to your children that you aren’t dating as they aren’t stupid and will see through it. Just don’t introduce a man to them until you know its serious. Don’t date twats; you are better off single. Don’t waste time being self conscious, there are probably less attractive women than you out there dating and having sex and a fabulous time – think like them. Fair enough.

“If a person does not add to your life and bring you joy when you are together, he or she must go.”

Playgroups and Prosecco

This is funny, I was enjoying it when I thought it was her own real life story and then I thought hang on there are too many funny goings on here and I googled it and it’s basically chick lit. But the author is a good blogger (Slummy Single Mummy) so at least she has experienced being a single mum.

She doesn’t know, but I once saw her crouched behind the sand table, eating loose Wotsits out her handbag, so I recognised a kindred spirit.”

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

Now this one isn’t specifically about divorce and she isn’t a single mother. BUT her life was at a very low point after a divorce but she picked herself up and did an insane cross country hike up the west coast mountain range in the US.

I think she is pretty inspirational. After reading this you will be like YEAH I CAN DO ANYTHING. And maybe want to buy some hiking boots and get walking.

I feel like this quote is pretty symbolic for life in general:

“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”

It was, however, written about a lost hiking boot (this book will ring a bell if you’ve seen the Gilmore Girls Netflix reboot when Lorelai almost did the hike but couldn’t pack her bag).

Confessions of a Single Mum, Amy Nickel

No divorce here, just a twatty boyfriend type person who dumped her when he found out she was pregnant. It is a funny personal account of her life:

I totally excuse them for not being mega turned on by swollen everything (and I mean EVERYTHING – thanks to my waxer for letting me know that little titbit)

The Unexpected Joy of Being Single

The woman who wrote this writes for cosmopolitan and uses that amusing glossy magazine style writing. However it is jam packed with psychological input, various studies and links to many other experts and books so you can absolutely go off on a tangent on whatever takes your fancy like I did here.

There are loads of interesting facts like this:

“experts at Rutgers University said that a break-up causes an incredibly similar reaction to drug withdrawal. Brain-imaging scans showed similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving

“Ingrained neural pathways are the route of least resistance” so basically your stupid brain just goes off towards your ex not because he was the love of your life but because its used to going off that way

But she also has some funny anecdotes of her dating past, such as this text she once received:

‘You’re undeniably lovely, but crazy. Goodbye. P.S. Please stop calling me.’

If you’re only going to read one book I say read this one because it’s brilliant.

The Cool Girl Monologue

I know this is SUPER famous but I’m reading a book that referenced it and I just remembered what absolute literary gold this passage is so I have to share it on the off chance that someone hasn’t read it before (because of course it is brilliant). And if you don’t like it then GO AHEAD SHIT ON ME.

It does however make me want to eat a chilli dog whilst hating men for the shallow and predictable creatures that they are. I know that sounds horrifically sexist but read this passage and tell me the average man doesn’t want Cool Girl.

It’s from Gone Girl, if you haven’t watched / read this then I recommend you do so in your preferred medium right now.

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)

What kind of ‘Attached’ are you?

NB : The photo has nothing to do with the article. I searched ‘Mental Health’ in the WordPress gallery and this inexplicably came up and I liked it.

One of my close friends is like a self help / psychology / counselling book expert now. She mentioned the theory of attachment styles to me and it really helped to contextualise what happened in my relationship and what I need to look for in future.

Also if you have dated an Anxiously Attached / Avoidant Attached person before this may help you to get your head around their behaviour and realise that old cliche might be true (it’s not you, it’s them).

So anyway here are the three attachment styles:

  • Secure attached. You’re normal. Well done. 50% of the population are secure attached. My very bad summary is that you don’t have any weird issues in relationships. You don’t push people away for no reason, you don’t cling to them desperately and need unnecessary reassurance. You’re not bad, you.
  • Anxious attached. You’re a bit annoying. You are 20% of people. Sorry but you are. You might be paranoid if your partner comes home late. You might need them to repeatedly tell you they love you or you freak out. I’ll bet you’re a proper diva come valentines day. You’re a bit tiring to be with.
  • Avoidant attached. Ooph you’re a frustrating one. You are 25% of people. Do you like to ghost people? I bet you freak out about the prospect of the words ’till death do us part’. Do your eyes drift to your phone if your partner says they need to talk to you about something? I think you could drive people crazy.
  • Avoidant and Attached. Jesus Christ. You are 5% of people. Please don’t date me.

I’ve read the (sample of the) book on this called Attached: Identity your attachment style and find your perfect match available here. But to be honest…it’s a bit long.

I find quizzes are a bit more fun so I suggest using this site which is by the woman who wrote The Unexpected Joys of Being Single (really good). And there is a real life example using 500 Days of Summer.

So I did the quiz and got a high score on Secure Attached, a really low score on Anxious Attached and nothing on Avoidant Attached. So as I’m a top class kind of girl to be attaching onto I’m not arsed to read the big long attachment book. But if you score high on Anxious or Avoidant you might want to have a look as it provides strategies to become more Secure Attached.

But anyway, click on the quiz link!! Quizzes are fun and she goes in way more detail on Attachement styles than I can be arsed with. Here’s that link again so go click on it why don’t ya.

My pregnancy overshare part one: the sex (et cetera)

I’m going to tell you aaalll about my pregnancy. The bits I remember anyway as baby brain is no joke!

Pre-conception

Anyone who went to school with me knows I am a swot. I read about ten books on conception / pregnancy / labour before I even started trying. I had nine months worth of data on my natural cycles app. I researched the best month to be born academically, school policies on deferring entry, I asked many people whether they liked their birth month.

I actually ate well, I hugely upped my calcium and iron intake and started consuming lots of fruit and veg. My colleagues saw me suddenly start eating mussels and thought I was already pregnant (I wasn’t, but alongside beef and liver they are one of the best sources of iron BUT DON’T EAT LIVER). I asked a dietician whether I should stop eating McDonald’s and other naughty treats (she said carry on as I was borderline underweight and it was more important to keep my weight up…yeeessss).

I took three months worth of pre-conception vitamins. Apparently having folic acid for a long time before conceiving can reduce the chance of hyperemesis gravidarum but you need it anyway to reduce the risk of spina bifida in the baby – don’t worry if you didn’t, just start today.

I joined a secret Facebook group for babies and parenting about a year in advance so I could soak up all the mum wisdom.

I had even been on the Which birth choices tool to decide where to give birth. If you haven’t used it do so now…it’s brilliant. Check the statistics on intervention / caesarian etc as well as they vary a lot.

We had a few baby bits purchased, when we were at the till in White Company we pretended my sister was pregnant when she enthusiasticly asked as I thought explaining a purchase for a baby due a full 12 months away was a bit mental.

I was PREPARED.

My mum fell pregnant straight away and I had super regular ovulation so I assumed we’d be pretty lucky. I originally wanted a September baby (for the school year) but then read its a bumper month for births and the midwives are rushed off their feet. I REALLY did not want to be sent away from the labour ward because they were full…or not be the centre of attention from my midwife because she was juggling multiple mums. I read you can defer entry for August borns so that they are the eldest in the year so we went for that. Then I got impatient and we decided to try the month before. Fate said no thanks mate August is the month for you and made me so ill I could barely have sex and also so pumped up on cold and flu and cough medicine I didn’t ovulate for the first time.

Doing ‘the sex’ 😉😉

Did you know mums on online chat forums call sex the Baby Dance, BD for short. Honestly, people are very weird. I’m glad my Facebook group were able to type the word sex like true grown ups.

I know the date we made the baby, we had our photo taken in Whitby. Ironically the wind was blowing out my scarf making me look pregnant and I had my hand over it like I was clutching the baby and a friend asked my husband if I was pregnant, they were just a few hours early. Anyway I won’t go into the details of the sex, it’s not that kind of blog, it would be weird and quite frankly I can’t remember anyway. I’ll let you assume it was THE BEST SEX EVER because I am amazing at sex every single time etc.

The advice is to have sex every other day when trying to conceive. Any less and you are missing opportunities and you need to keep that sperm production up, no one wants lazy old swimmers who can’t be arsed finding the egg. Your sperm producing male shouldn’t be masturbating in addition to this within a week of your ovulation otherwise he is wasting good resources.

For those that don’t know sperm last five days inside your body and eggs last two days. Although there is technically only a week a month to fall pregnant you need to make sure those semen deposits are getting made every other day all month long. Keep it fresh guys. That’s obviously for optimum sperm. You can of course fall pregnant following zero sperm advice.

Oh how jealous I am of Sophie of November 2017…it’s been a long time since I had every other night sex.

I’ll leave it there and resume with my first few weeks of pregnancy at some point when the baby next naps in the car.

Battle of the (Hot Cross) Buns

Twenty six hot cross buns were purchased in the name of this study, not one bun was wasted in the making of this. The research project was thorough.

I’m not a traditional hot cross bun eater so this is a guide to the alternative Easter buns, however it’s worth noting that Cooplands have hot cross buns that taste like Christmas (4 for £1) so if that’s your thing then go for it.

Aldi Rhubarb & Custard 89p for four

Surprisingly good, I had low hopes as it’s a bit weird. But there are some satisfyingly large chunks of rhubarb. I’m not sure what the ‘custard’ is made out of but I like it.

8 / 10 – could have bumped up to a nine with more rhubarb chunks

Marks and Spencer Blueberry £1.60 for four

*consumed before a photo opportunity was possible*

I was into these, they reminded me of a blueberry muffin. Some of the blueberries hadn’t quite exploded in the baking so popped in your mouth which was a lovely experience. The best hot cross bun breakfast choice.

9 / 10

Aldi Salted Caramel and Chocolate 89p for four

I had such high hopes, I love Aldi, chocolate and caramel. The chocolate has a nice strong flavour which I enjoyed but I wasn’t getting much salted caramel out of it so I’m going to have to mark it down on that basis.

7 / 10

Marks and Spencer Apple £1.60 for four

Not just any apple, but Marks and Spencer Kentish Bramley Apple. In fairness the apple bits are rather tasty. It is nice but doesn’t have the excitement of the others. If you are a traditionalist who wants something a bit different but not too crazy then this is a good option. I however like a more exotic hot cross bun.

7 / 10

Sainsburys Chocolate and Caramel (and I can’t remember how much)

Good but the caramel bits were a bit too pasty and not quite as melty as I’d like. As you can see they were irregularly sized which made toasting a pain, I had to slice one into three bits as it was too tall to go in half. Not ideal for a hot cross bun. But still, wouldn’t say no.

6 / 10

Marks and Spencer Salted Caramel and Chocolate £1.60 for four

*consumed before a photo opportunity was possible*

I remember them being the ultimate in hot cross buns. Plenty of chocolate, sufficiently salty caramel and just the right level of stickiness. But the thing is that I now can’t find the little buggers anywhere. The three stores nearest me never have them in stock so they should get full marks but I can only give them 9 / 10 due to difficulty of purchasing. However they are the clear winner.

For fucks sake men (a rant on emotional labour)

(slightly edited since publishing, with the intention of not being a dick)

The burden of organising many things is left to women, social commitments, holidays, childcare, appointments… most men even expect their partners to organise everything for their own family’s birthdays. They’ve literally spent every year of their lives celebrating their parent’s / sibling’s birthdays yet somehow expect their spouse to be the one to remember and find the perfect gift?! Seriously, come the fuck on.

I read a good article about this and the ridiculous story behind a woman’s request to have the house cleaned as her mother’s day gift. In summary he left it till last minute, phoned the first cleaner he found, decided it was too expensive and cleaned the bathroom himself whilst leaving the rest of his crap lying around the house. It’s totally stupid but exactly what many wives would expect from their husbands in the same circumstances and it’s fucking annoying. She ends the article saying “Our sons can still learn to carry their own weight. Our daughter can learn to not carry others” but REALLY, do we really have to wait a generation to fix this bullshit?!

And it’s not just the coordinating what happens, women are still doing most of everything! If you want to continue getting irritated then read this from the Guardian stating how in the UK in 2016 women did 60% more unpaid work and the progressive Sweden shockingly had 45 more minutes of housework done by women DAILY. Imagine getting an extra 45 minutes a day, the health benefits of using that to run / do yoga / have a long bath and meditate?! I mean I’d obviously not do that and just eat crisps and watch Netflix…but still it should be my choice and it would be fair to spend that time how I wish!

Yes single mothers end up doing 100% of everything in the house but at least I am doing it for me and my daughter so there is zero resentment. Also it is up to me what needs to be done, maybe we have a lovely hot homemade dinner then talk at the table or maybe it’s a floor picnic listening to Cyndi Lauper 🤷🏼‍♀️. Zero obligation for anything (above the obvious).

Yes my ultimate goal is to have another relationship, I like the companionship (not to mention someone to split the bills with and have sex with me). But the annoying thing is this seems to affect the majority of men and until you cohabit it’s hard to tell who is an expert in ‘outsourcing’ or simply assuming it will get done (and I think quite often having no awareness that it needs to be done). It’s a long time since I’ve done online dating but is there a checklist for ‘is able to book appointments, manage housework and remember dates independently’. It will probably be a while before I consider dating again but if this can be added in as a screening filter I would love that.