Hands up if you’ve got a trillion and one pics of your kids, but hardly any with you actually in them?? Ooh that’ll be Me with a big fat capital M! So when my mate Anna (Anna Hardy, awesome family photographer) was on the lookout for a baby and mama to photograph for a workshop she was running, I couldn’t shout “HELL YEAH” quick enough.

Ettie absolutely loves any attention, so having a camera thrust in her face and an adoring audience would be her idea of the perfect afternoon. I, on the other hand, am not usually one to put myself at the centre of attention, but I knew Anna would make it feel like it was just us and her. And so, on one snowy Thursday in February, Ettie and I put on our best smiles while Anna simultaneously snapped us and shared her wisdom with a lovely bunch of fellow photographers. And these are just a handful of the aceness that came out of it. My Ettie girl and me. Thank you Anna – you absolute legend, you.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANNA HARDY PHOTOGRAPHY

There was a time, not that many months ago, when I didn’t have a clue what my boy was saying. We stumbled through our days like two alien beings, speaking entirely different languages. He communicated as best he could, pointing and gesturing like a Brit abroad, but we managed. Now he’s picking up the language at breakneck speed. I’m amazed daily at how he can suddenly string a sentence together. And boy have there been some hilarious sentences; “Ettie, don’t kick my besticles” being my current fave. And beautiful ones; “Oooh, nice dress Mummy”. What a heartbreaker, hey? And I just kinda want to remember some of his most used phrases, while I’m still excited and surprised that he can actually speak!

So here’s a snippet of Woody’s limited, but growing vocab so far. The good, the bad (where did he get that from??) and the damn right annoying!

LET ME DO IT

Oh he’s an independent little fella alright. But this phrase isn’t just used when he wants to pull up his trousers or put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. No, he totally believes he can drive our car. I kid you not. He has had many a meltdown when I’ve refused to give him the keys and get in the passenger seat. To be fair to him he’d have a good blimmin’ go if he wasn’t two foot nothing. He also thinks he could cook our dinner (with knives and 200 degree ovens and shit!), go to the shops (alone and preferably in the car) and take care of his baby sister. He even said “let me do it” when I was feeding her one day, while simultaneously lifting up his top to reveal his naked nipple.

WHATCHA DOING?

At first this phrase was inquisitive. “Whatcha doing Mummy?”, “Cutting an avocado.” “Whatcha doing Mummy?”, “Washing my face.” But now this phrase is used when he knows blatantly well what I’m doing. It’s like he’s just filling the void of silence. All. The. Time. And it’s no good ignoring him. Oh no. I did that when I was sitting on the toilet, him just a few feet away, staring intently. “Whatcha doing?”, I remained silent. “Whatcha doing?”, I changed the conversation. So he moved closer and looked for himself. Pride gone.

MUMMY DO IT 

When he’s not in full on Mr Independent mode, demanding to drive the car or mow the lawn, he reverts back to a complete and utter Mummy’s boy (or a lazy little sod!). He must say this phrase at least fifty times a day. Which can be utterly exhausting. But then it is kinda lovely knowing that he still needs me so much. So Woody, Mummy will do it, again and again and again and again.

DON’T LIKE IT

This must have been one of the first three word sentences he ever used. And he doesn’t even mean it, which is infuriating. He says it religiously before every meal. Before he even knows what food is on the table. He sounds like a teenager. He’s two. He says it whenever I dare to put a new item of clothing on him. Alongside a full on meltdown that I could be so foolish as to buy him a new jacket or hat. It’s also the phrase he uses when he’s bored of his little sister. I’m hoping he’s just mistaking it for those other three words.

SEE THAT THERE

This is said at the beginning of most sentences. And by the time we’ve figured out what ‘that there’ is (squirrel running up a tree / fire engine whizzing past), the moment has usually passed and he’s moved on to something else.

PWEASE, MUMMY

This is one of my absolute favourites. As well as the English language, my boy is also learning the art of persuasion. It’s not always what you say but how you say it. And he’s got this one down to a fine art. Complete with tilted head and fluttering eyelashes. I would literally give you the world if you said “pwease” my boy.

And lastly, not exactly a phrase, or something I want him to say in a room full of strangers again. But for laughs…

WHERE’S YOUR WILLY, MUMMY?

We were in the changing rooms at swimming. A very busy family changing room, I should add. I was hurriedly getting changed. Woody looked seriously concerned. He circled me, twice, then said it, in a slightly raised, slightly worried tone. “Where’s your willy, Mummy?”. I couldn’t reply. I laughed. Like a proper belly laugh. Tears and everything. He laughed too. He didn’t have a clue why. But at least it broke the seriousness. He still doesn’t know where my willy is. That’s one for Daddy, right?

PHOTOGRAPHS PROPERTY OF THEMAMALAND.COM

Last weekend I decided to put down my trusty iphone 5 (I realise how old this is) and pick up my camera. I’ve started to rely on my phone to take pictures way too much. And I just kinda missed my big old Canon.

Now don’t get me wrong, my phone does me just fine for capturing moments and pinging them straight to Instagram (with a good filter). But there’s something a bit special about looking down the lens of a camera, composing a shot and telling a story. Know what I mean?

I feel different when I’m behind a camera. I don’t think “oooh that’ll make a good Instagram shot”, I just get snap happy. I try different things. I mess around with the aperture and shutter speed. And I get in some right awkward positions – usually lying on the floor! Or sitting on a pumpkin!

And the results are always way more pleasing – to me anyway. There’s never just one square to share on Instagram. There’s a whole album’s worth.

Anyway, that’s enough words. This post is about the pics. Here’s just a few. There’s many, many more.

Oh and if you fancy going pumpkin picking and you’re in the Manchester area, head to Red House Farm in Altrincham. We got in there early and got ourselves a biggie. Now we’ve just got to carve the bugger!

Photographs property of themamaland.com

The age-old second child syndrome is alive and well in our household. Sorry Ettie. It’s not that I don’t love you as much as your older brother. (My heart has doubled since you came along.) It’s just that I haven’t got the time to capture every smirk / gurgle / fart that you make. Which got me thinking, what else am I (and you) missing out on? Here’s my favourite failures so far.

  1. You might be a girl, but blue is so you. And dinosaurs. And spaceships. And anything else that your brother used to wear. Including the ‘born in 2015’ babygrows that scream “I’m a hand-me down”.
  2. Not only are these hand-me downs for the opposite sex, they’re also out of season. Thankfully we live in the UK and ski suits are an all year round necessity.
  3. All babies are mistaken for being the opposite sex. It’s a standard mum and baby issue. But when it’s your second child, you stop being offended and just go with it. Ain’t that right Eddie (as someone thought you were called)?
  4. The oh-so-important announcement cards. Apparently not so important the second time round. Why get beautiful personalised cards printed and posted to your loved ones, when you can send a text to your entire list of contacts while you’re sitting on the loo?? Yep, that’s pretty much what my other did.
  5. Speaking of bowel movements. Is that poo on your vest? I must change you so you’re clean and comfortable. Oh wait, it’s hidden just beneath your leggings. Sod it, I’ll leave it for the hubby to change next time.
  6. We were all Pampers nappies and organic nappy lotion the first time round. But for you, our darling second, it’s Aldi’s finest and Sudacrem all the way.
  7. We had a ‘no TV’ rule with the first child, which lasted well into his second year. Meanwhile, Tom Hardy has been reading a bedtime story to you, on repeat, since you were born.
  8. Tummy time is an essential part of a baby’s early development. With our first child I took this seriously. I wanted him to be Chief Head Holder Upper at the local baby group. With you, I’m a little bit more relaxed. As are your neck muscles. I can only apologise.
  9. Our first born had no less than five godparents and a christening fit for a king (or baby Jesus). You on the other hand don’t believe in God. (Or spending hundreds of pounds on a dodgy gown and an even dodgier buffet.)
  10. “Seeing your smile during the fifth feed of the night makes it all worthwhile”, SAID NO SECOND TIME MUM EVER.
  11. Milestone cards are just great for recording those momentous first moments. We never missed one with our first. But I’m not sure “I smiled for the first time when no one was looking” or “I was 2 weeks old 8 weeks ago” really have the same sentimental value.
  12. And finally, nothing quite says second child syndrome like ‘there is not enough storage to take a photo’. To put it bluntly, my phone is full of pictures of your brother. Again, I’m sorry darling. I have a lot of making up to do (when I’ve got the time!).

 

 

 

She’s finally here. No longer an ‘it’, but a her. Our Ettie. All 8lb 6oz of gorgeous squidgy girliness.

One of the things that I really wanted to do before the baby brain fully sets in is write Ettie’s birth story. The good, the bad and the stitches in between. So here goes.

I should start off by saying it’s not a particularly exciting story. Sorry to disappoint. It’s not at all dramatic either. Well unless you count the fainting. But it was everything that I wanted it to be – calm, relaxed and pretty damn quick!

It started in the middle of the night. 3.15am to be exact. I was nine days overdue and as I hauled my yoga ball sized bump out of bed to go for yet another pee, the contractions began. Halle-flippin-luiah. I remember feeling a huge sense of relief that they had started on their own, before anyone could mention the dreaded ‘induction’ word. I’d practiced hypnobirthing throughout this and my last pregnancy, and really wanted it to be as natural as possible.

Without going into the ins and outs of hypnobirthing – this deserves a whole blog post of its own – the very basic premise is to chill-the-hell-out, so I got back into bed and breathed through each contraction for about an hour before I told my other half. By the time I woke him they were starting to feel pretty intense, so he rang my folks to let them know and they began the one hour dash up the M6 to help out with Woody. With them on their way, we switched on one of my hypnobirthing tracks and I got into ‘the zone’. Which, by the way, is not me dressed in a tie die sarong, surrounded by candles and meditating monks!

‘The zone’ for me, was silently pacing between the bedroom and the bathroom in my pjs, as the contractions came quicker and stronger. I’ll be honest when I say that the two paracetamol that I took at this point to ease the pain did absolutely diddly-squat. This wasn’t period pains as some women describe it, this was L.A.B.O.U.R.

We were recording each contraction on an app – how very modern of us – and it was soon screaming Go To Hospital. So with my Mum and Dad now here and the car packed to the brim with all kinds of unnecessary baby shit, we set off. But not before I had two contractions on the drive as the early morning traffic passed us by. Sorry if I put anyone off their breakfast!

We arrived at triage at just before 7am, which was shift change time. Blimmin’ typical. So I was ushered into a cubicle where I waited to be checked over. We’d been warned on the phone that I would be sent home if I wasn’t in established labour, but when my midwife – Michelle – came in to meet us, she took one look at me and took us straight to the birth centre, no questions asked. I may have been calm, but clearly I looked like I was about to drop an 8lb 6oz human into the world!

When we walked into our room, number 3, I felt instantly calmed by the sound of water pouring into the birthing pool. I knew that my dream of giving birth in the pool could be reality. That calmness waivered slightly when 15 minutes later Michelle said that she’d forgotten to put the plug in. You just can’t get the staff. But I quickly forgave her when she told me I was 7cm dilated. No going home for me. In fact, I soon felt an enormous urge to push and Michelle suggested I get in the pool, and fast. And boy am I glad I did. The contractions were intense, but in between was a great calmness, I almost forgot where I was! Well, not quite. With every contraction came a huge wave of discomfort and that dreaded ring of fire. I heard myself shout “I can’t do this anymore” and I really thought that I couldn’t. It didn’t feel like this baby could possibly move any further down. I was trying not to push too much and take things gently as I’d been taught, but when Michelle said the baby’s heart rate was starting to slow, I just went for it.

U G G H H H H H H. Up until this point I’d been relatively silent. But this cross between a growl and a grunt helped to get this baby out in just a couple of pushes. A A G G G H H H H.

And there SHE was. Our girl. We didn’t actually look what ‘it’ was for a few minutes. I was too lost in the moment to even care. It’s amazing to think back now but I literally just scooped her up out of the water and on to my chest. It felt like the most natural thing in the world and as cliché as it sounds, it’s a moment I’ll remember forever.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay in the water for much longer as the pool had turned a murky red and Michelle wanted to check me over. So the cord was cut and clamped and I was given an injection to help expel the placenta. This little bugger took a while to come out and ended with a gushing of blood and me fainting on top of Michelle.

But the drama was soon over, and with my girl back in my arms I was examined. That excessive pushing had caused a couple of tears that would need stitching. Ouch. But before then we spent a very lovely hour together, skin-to-skin, just bonding. Ettie had her first breastfeed and we enjoyed some much needed tea and toast. Job done.

All in all it took five hours from the first contraction to having Ettie in the pool. Apparently I was in active labour for one hour and twenty three minutes. It’s crazy to think that it takes me longer to get ready in the morning than it did to birth my second child. But I’m so thankful and proud to say that I did it all on my own. And my way. Heck, I might try a home birth next time. Cue my husband running for the hills at the thought of us having a third child!