Stories from a diary

When I was pregnant I was approached by an editor at the local paper to write a blog about being pregnant and combining that with work. I was fortunate enough to gain a number of followers to my blog and was asked to continue it once my baby was born and then on to the toddler days.

I look back and slightly cringe at some of the postings, but that I guess is the self-critical perfectionist in me. It can't have been all bad as I was the second most read feature on their website after the news.

The blog was called 'Baby Business' and I shall start from the first posting...

Let’s set the scene and put some context around this blog. I am 35 and (‘more-than-a-little’ out of the blue) excitedly expecting my first child. I also work for myself as a creative and strategic marketing consultant.

The challenge – that baby business balance!

Up until about 6 months ago my career was my baby – my sole focus and passion. So this wonderful growing bump I now have has already got an older sibling to compete with... or will it be ‘no competition’? One thing that you other mums and mums-to-be will appreciate, and other people may not quite get, is this great unknown we face... exactly how much will my baby change my life? And how much control will I have over my life?

Don’t get me wrong, I have read the books, spoken to girlfriends (and the men too) about how a baby changes your life “in ways you cannot image”, but however much I tell myself this and try to plan, how can I really prepare for things that I apparently cannot imagine?!

What I do know is that I already love my growing bump and she (yes, I found out the sex) is already an intrinsic part of me and my life and one that I love without question.
And this is where I begin my blog....... Baby Business.

Week 26; 14 (maybe) to go...

Government budget published. Tick
Recession – on the turn around. Tick
Businesses getting more confident in spending again. Tick
Buggie ordered. Tick

I lie here with my feet up on the sofa, my laptop precariously balanced on my expanding bump and a Snickers bar in my hand (what a great craving!) and I wonder – how difficult can it be, really?

I have had a busy week at work – new proposals delivered, meetings with new prospects and some great feedback on a couple of recent projects. My ankles haven’t swollen up, I have not melted in the heat and I haven’t once had the urge to dip a gherkin in ice cream. See – baby and business can mix.

The only thing is baby is still well and truly tucked away in her gorgeous sleepy warm world inside me, with no demands for food, cuddles, clean nappies and attention..... She just likes to say ‘hello’ from time to time: a sharp kick to let me know she is listening if I raise my voice; some squirming around to let me know she has woken up; and some great paddle kicking when she wants a chat.

It’s not quite the reality of when she actually arrives, but hey, got ages till then... Denial is great!

I am not really burying my head in the sand. I know I have to make sure things are in place so my work doesn’t stop while baby gets my undivided attention when she’s born. I have my plans in place ready to cover a number of scenarios (remember that ‘my life will change “in ways I cannot imagine”!).

The main issue I have not managed to overcome is how on earth I get through a day without eating at least two giant Snickers bars?

On the ‘to do’ list:
Get some clothes that actually fit... no longer will the unzipped trousers work!
Order carpet for nursery.
Buy more Snickers bars.
Start getting end of year accounts ready.

Baby Business: Week 27, Bump Abroad

VAT return complete. Tick
Client  website development started. Tick
Upgrades to computer software. Tick
Paint colours picked for nursery. Tick

It’s not that I am a complete workaholic (I hear you sniggering friends), but I tend to find that a holiday is something that my body tells me I need, rather than something I excitedly plan months in advance. I usually get to the point that my head shouts ‘have a break, it’s time to re-charge the batteries’. I expect there are others of you like this, but probably most of you are thinking I am a bit odd... who wouldn’t want a holiday?! But remember, my life up until now has revolved around my original baby, my career.

Anyway, after much deliberation (a full two hours!) I came to the conclusion that a break would be a good thing and that this would actually be the very last time I would get a holiday that would centre totally around my needs... after that it will be baby first all the way (so let me be self-indulgent one last time!).

Quick search on (fab for last minute deals) and I’d booked a real bargain – 5 star the lot – leaving a week later. So here I find myself, horizontal on a sun lounger by a pool straight out of a magazine and peering over my sun-lotioned baby bump at the aqua blue waters of the ocean just metres away... why did I not think of this before!

Doh, my Snickers has melted...

It may be the scene of tranquillity now, but only after a marginally stressful start... How is it that I can easily make huge decisions about advertising campaigns and business marketing strategies for clients, but the minute I pack my suitcase ‘baby brain’ kicks in? Three times I left the house and three times I returned: 1) two miles down the road, “passport”; 2) end of drive, “I didn’t lock the back door”; and 3) at the motorway junction, “suitcase” – I had actually left it in the hall by the front door!

Finally on route to good old Gatwick and I get a text from my friend wishing me a lovely holiday ‘and isn’t it lucky I got this in whilst I am still allowed to fly’...  Yikes! How many weeks am I? When can I fly till? Seriously, we mums-to-be should be given a proper manual for all things related to pregnancy. We can’t be expected to know everything – for some of us this is our first time you know!

‘6 months’ is vaguely ringing a bell in the back of my mind... did I read that somewhere or was it on EastEnders? Ummmmmmm...

“Congratulations”, the lovely check in girl says, “how many weeks are you”?

“24”! (Shhhhhhhhhh, just in case.)

PS to mums-to-be: everyone loves a ‘bump’ abroad. Endless fussing and cooing.... imagine what they will be like with a real baby! So far I have had free sweets with my drinks (“for the bambino”), free ice cream after meals (“a treat for baby”) and, the best one, a free ‘Walt Disney’ non-alcoholic cocktail (“so baby doesn’t miss out”). I of course have been enjoying all these treats on behalf of my bump!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Confirm next midwife appointment.
Book tour of maternity unit.
Wean ‘bump’ off Snickers bars.
Prepare for London client pitches for next week.

Baby Business: Week 28, warning from bump

Client award entries written. Tick
Three new websites launched. Tick
New mobile campaign kicked off. Tick
Nursery curtain samples ordered. Tick

It always makes me chuckle when little children get overwrought from tiredness ... screaming and stomping. They point blank refuse to admit they are tired despite almost toppling over with tiredness ... my beautiful niece Katie Sue is very good at this (just like her Aunty V was!). I think the famed expression is 'over tired'. Well, it's official - bumps get this too and so do the mums-to-be! 

This week’s mission was to get the nursery-to-be cleared out ready for the decorator coming next week. Shouldn’t have been a major issue except for the fact the room has been a ("ah-hem") storage room for the last two years. It is amazing what you find stored under the guise of 'that will be useful one day' ... half a wardrobe? Really?

I moved the treasures-slash-junk and of course delegated all the heavy lifting and opted for folding curtains and blankets. Unfortunately, I had already spent the previous two days dashing around between meetings and working in the evenings on proposals and somewhere along the line I forgot to take a few minutes out to put my feet up and rest (my now enlarged) ankles... not quite baby-business balance!

As a self-titled superwomen (ha ha) I have always thought I am invincible, taking on anything and permanently on the go. No more - bump fights back! My little girl has literally put me in my place in the guise of jelly-legs, dizziness and a good kicking from within (may I introduce the new David Beckhamess to be).

I now find myself horizontal on the sofa with strict instruction not to move and to 'take it easy'. Don't get me wrong, I am all for a bit of self indulgence and pampering, with food (snickers!) and drink being brought to me, but it is not what I am used to (not being in control!), so it takes something pretty darn special to actually make me admit defeat and accept I am not 'all powerful'. That something? The very special swelling around my midriff... my gorgeous bump.

I am learning - there is nothing wrong for mums-to-be to take some time out for themselves. More importantly, we need to make the most of having the luxury of putting our feet up, because when little one arrives I have been well and truly assured that this is not an option. So I need to remember to take 5 minutes out to put my feet up, and do you know what? Shockingly, the world does not stop revolving... well there you go!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Get expandable baby-bump seatbelt.
Check out the gadget reviews on baby video monitors.
Ask friends if I really need a baby nasal aspirator?!
Order materials for next month’s business exhibition.

Baby Business: Week 29, Sugar and spice and all things nice

Training booked. Tick
Copywriting for new client launch material. Tick
New Intranet site tested for client. Tick
Nursery curtains being made (thanks Mum x). Tick

I don’t know what your thought are on this, but I have always wanted to know the sex of my baby and not because (as most of my friends and family think) I am a total control freak that has to have the nursery decorated and colour-coordinated outfits lined up in the wardrobe with the relevant pink or blue bunny painted on the front...

I wanted to know for the pure and simple reason that I have a little person growing inside of me and this little person is already having a major and overwhelming impact on my life, my future and every fibre of my being (and I am not exaggerating). I want to talk to her as well as give her a name and some sort of identity - no more 'it' from people in reference to a currently genderless baby-to-be, but a 'she' in relation to my little girl.

Wow. My little girl. Takes my breath away already.

I know not everyone shares my views about finding out the gender before birth - boy do I know! People have not been shy in expressing their views and opinions on the subject. From people I know to strangers in the supermarket, this is a subject that everyone seems to have an opinion about... The nurse taking my bloods was flabbergasted, "but where will the surprise be at the birth?" Errrrr, maybe a baby popping out of me? Besides, it can only go one of two ways!

My opinion - and I will share this with everyone (and have each time I am yet again being near scolded for my decision) - you do what you want to do! It’s not rocket science, but apparently out there with the likes of 'cloning' and 'genetic engineering'! Never really thought I was that controversial....

When I did find out that my bump was a little princess in waiting (of course!) everything suddenly turned pink. It’s not that I have anything against pink – I love pink, but there are a host of other colours out there... Working in a creative profession I am usually very imaginative, so when I set off to buy that special first item for my little girl what did I get? Pink tie-backs for the nursery! I know – pink! And why oh why did I buy tie-backs? Another symptom of pregnancy that you have to stay humorous about - lack of logical thought or reason!  
On the ‘to do’ list:
Find mums-to-be swimming and yoga classes.
Apologise to my Mum for telling a waiter my chosen baby name and not her...
Buy even larger maternity jeans – have to cut out those Snickers!
Get up-to-date on the book keeping.

Baby Business: Week 31, Bump getting on my nerves

Holiday cover in place. My BlackBerry! Tick
Copies of client press coverage photocopied. Tick
Our own version of pop art created for a client. Tick
Nursery furniture built (love a good hint). Tick

Now far be it for me to be a drama queen (!) but what a week. Up until now I have been a fairly smug mum-to-be, having avoided morning sickness, major food aversions and swollen limbs (I promise I am not gloating). Plus, work has continued to thrive with little distraction from bump (apart from the slight forgetfulness in the early weeks and the sudden dashes to McDonalds for a double cheeseburger). However, this week took bump-induced ailments to a whole new level, ending up in A&E wired up to heart and breathing monitors and oxygen! Baby literally got on my nerves...

With the final trimester growth spurt, my body has been subjected to increasing internal pressures as baby starts her training for London2012 - back flips, kick boxing and long distance running (plus the odd attempt at the high jump). The result? Major pressure on my nervous system trapping several nerves and restricted my breathing... I never do things by halves!

I am on the mend now – assigned to the sofa for a few days, but still allowed on my laptop! Just part of the wonders of pregnancy.

This has been yet another eye opener. I am now only 9 weeks from d-day and I have had to admit that I need to temporarily stop my bid for business woman of the year. The baby business balance is about understanding what is best for my little girl as well as my work, and me in hospital is not good for either. I have also realised that my little girl is starting as she means to carry on – bossing me around and putting me in my place!

Hospital has been like a second home for me this week, as I was also there for a tour of the labour ward (it’s supposed to soften the shock on the day). The midwives were lovely, but I have never been in the presence of so many pregnant women in one go... wow, talk about ‘bump-upmanship’. Forget hair styles and fashion rivalries, this is real competitiveness: my bump’s neater than hers; mine’s higher than yours; I am carrying all out front...  

My lovely bump and I were happy to stay out of this. I was far more distracted by the moans and muffled screams from behind the closed delivery room doors. Not quite London Dungeons, but still more than a little distressing and real. And there’s always one isn’t there! That one person who likes to let you know they have ‘been there and done that’. Unfortunately this came in the guise of a pregnant mum of two who felt it her mission to loudly inform us all that pain is not enough to describe the agony of childbirth. Thanks for that! I have happily gone through the past 7 months with the belief that I will sneeze and baby will just pop out  - stop laughing, denial (as I often say) is great!

PS. I would like to thank the wonderful lady at the doctors (pre being admitted to hospital) who gave me her appointment as she could see I was distressed. There are still some wonderful thoughtful people in the world.
On the ‘to do’ list:
Butterfly stickers for nursery.
Hang ‘ickle’ baby clothes in newly built wardrobe.
Confirm buggy delivery.
Sort out recurring BT phone line fault in the office.

Baby Business: Week 32; Pack your bags bump

Project planning for new contracts. Tick
Launch party planning. Tick
New salon opening posters designed. Tick
Nursery curtains up (thank you mum x). Tick

There I was this week happily minding my own business when up pops an email on my BlackBerry - my weekly pregnancy update: ‘Are you ready? You need to pack your bag for hospital – just in case’.
Just in case? Hold on, I have 8 weeks to go. That can’t be right. A number of flustered phone calls later and those in the know (friends who are mums) have firmly reassured me that there is no mistake... baby could be coming any day now!

Don’t get me wrong, planning in advance in one of my favourite past times. I think you have all realised by now that I am a bit ‘organised-friendly’, but you will also know that I have been happy to jog along growing my bump and sticking my head in the sand about the reality of ‘D day’! So to find out that baby could be in hurry to get out in to the world has made me face up to a few things...

1.       I need to make sure I am fully prepared for an early birth
2.       I need to make sure that work is all set to cope without me
3.       I need to get a new bag!

Now point 3 is easy! Funnily enough I love shopping and I love bags. Hours of shopping went in to buying my nappy changing bag - it had to be just right, co-ordinating with the buggy and my wardrobe! Yes I know – it is meant to be a functional item, but does that mean it can’t look good too? After all it is all about accessorising!

On a more serious note, the baby business balance is about being prepared. Us mums-to-be all face our own sets of challenges with the arrival of our babies, but being prepared will help us all. We want things to run smoothly, so removing any forms of stress and worry is key. When baby comes out in to the big wide world we want to give them 100% of our attention and dedication - we will only get one chance to look down in to our child’s eyes for the first time...

Am I prepared? Of course!
Despite my ‘ostrich’ impressions, I have spent a lot of time over the past weeks implementing new processes to make sure that my clients continue to receive fabulous services... the aim is that they won’t even notice I have gone!  

On the ‘to do’ list:
Pack hospital bag!
Stop panicking!
Don’t think too much about ‘labour’...
Make sure I have BlackBerry chargers plugged in everywhere!

Baby Business: Week 33, Down to earth with a bump

 New recruitment company branding done. Tick
Masquerade ball branding, website and program complete. Tick
Project plan for new client finalised. Tick
Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter books ordered! Tick

I know that not all mums-to-be feel the same, and we are all different in regards to our pregnancy, but I have actually loved my expanding waistline (and the fact I have felt totally justified in eating everything and anything in sight). My bump and I have really bonded, becoming one-and-the-same, which is of course how it will be from now on. The 'content' of my bump is not only going to be a part of me for the rest of my life, but also the most important thing in my life, and I haven't even met her yet... hope she likes shopping!

However, I do have a confession to make. From time to time I do forget about bump...

Stop the 'gasps' as I am told this is totally normal and it has made for some very entertaining moments for those around... What do I mean? Well, imagine your body suddenly developing a large 'addition' that protrudes outwards beyond your normal periphery. Now imagine trying to get used to that and readjusting your movements accordingly... let me tell you, it is not that easy. I have now successfully opened several doors on to bump, sat down landing bump squarely on the desk, got wedged in one very uncomfortable and extremely embarrassing gap in Debenhams (thank you to the lovely lady with the perm who tried to discreetly 'unwedge' me!) and this week I finally lost my centre of gravity with a thud!

As you have probably become aware, when I settle in to work mode I am pretty fixated, so it really is no surprise that I forget my 'bump to bending ratio'. "What" you may be asking "is that"? Well, I may not have always been the most agile person, but bending over to pick something off the ground has always been a task I have felt was fairly straightforward. Not, it seems, with several additional pounds attached to your front! That's right, I bent over to pick something up off the office floor and quickly found it was me that needed picking up... I literally toppled over. Definitely lost the 'baby business' balance there!

Note - even with all these 'mishaps' bump is fine, it is just my ego that is a bit bruised!

It is interesting how much mums-to-be have to adapt to change before baby even arrives. I am sure it is all part of the ‘gentle’ preparation for the big event, but I wonder how many of you mums-to-be out there are really ready for the changes to come.

I have spent this week (after my hospital bag shock of last week) thinking about this. I am completely prepared on a practical front - clients covered (overly so!), baby essentials all purchased and nursery complete... but what about the 'mental' side (and I don't just mean going nuts through lack of sleep!). How do you prepare for your whole emotional state and structure changing? For once I am not going to try to be clever and in control, I am simply going to leave that question out there for mums (and psychologists!) to put forward some pearls of wisdom. They will be much appreciated by us first time mums-to-be who don't want to admit that we are more than a little overwhelmed...

On the ‘to do’ list:
Not bend over to pick things up!
Get the address for my first NCT class.
Wash baby clothes (ahhhh).
Store photocopy paper at waist height or above!

Baby Business: Week 34, Bump’s best friend?

Freelancers back off holiday. Tick
Google Adwords campaign kicked off. Tick
Tickets and advertising sales started for masquerade ball. Tick
Zebra swing constructed! Tick

It has been all hands on deck this weekend – mission baby paraphernalia. Fun and games have been had (along with tears and plasters) getting the cot bed put up, building baby swings, working out the Isofix child seat base, setting up the monitor system and then the child gates...

When you wonder around the baby shops and look at all these things it is definitely through baby-tinted spectacles, gleefully picturing how they will look in the nursery or how well they will co-ordinate with the car interior (that one’s probably just me!). I will openly admit that I didn’t stop and think about building, attaching or resizing these things – surely they will turn up exactly as they are in the shop...!

Flat packed packages mounted up and last to arrive were the child gates, at least these will be easy to put up... no chance! I don’t think I have mentioned much about my home before, and this will probably explain why the air went slightly blue around here this weekend! I live in a converted 15th century building, with nooks, crannies, lumps, bumps and general ‘skewiffiness’ that all add to the ‘charm’. However, this means that any straightforward jobs end up as mammoth headaches demanding krypton-factor style creativity to get things to work or fit. The child gates became one of these jobs.

I think I should point out here that the reason for the child gates is not because I think my little girl will come in to the world walking and climbing (though she will of course be majorly advanced!), but because I have a dog. A lot of people have asked me how I think the dog will be once baby arrives and I am not totally sure - after all, he has had the run of the house and been my ‘baby’ since he was a puppy, and very soon this is all going to change for him. He will be playing second fiddle to something way smaller and way noisier than him. So how is he going to react?

I have heard and read many stories in the past of jealous pets, over loving pets and dejected pets, which have all reacted very differently to the change in their routine and life. My dog is the most friendly, affectionate and loyal of Labradors who plays wonderfully with children of all ages and is amazingly obedient to commands – so surely he will be fine?

Whatever I think, I am fully aware that he is basically an animal. Hence the child gates. These now represent ‘dog free zones’ of the house where I know my little girl can be left without fear of an over loving dog slobbering all over her.

If any of you have any advice about family pets and new babies then please let me know. This is something that a lot of mums-to-be I have met have concerns about - the Baby Pet Balance!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Remember to open child gates.
Stop thinking every twinge is baby coming.
Stop playing with the zebra swing!
Book ad space for store opening launch.

Baby Business: Week 35, Bump’s first shower

Brainstorming for new hair dressing client. Tick
Brainstorming for school ad campaign. Tick
Source promotional gingerbread men. Tick
Stop walking in to closed child gates! Tick

Got up this morning and waded through a sea of balloons to grab some yummy cupcakes for breakfast. Wholesome food perhaps not, but they are so scrumptious...

Why the balloons and cakes? Well, returning home from coffee with a friend, I was greeted by a house full of food, balloons and fabulous friends – a surprise baby shower. Thank you to Tori for organising the party and making sure bump got spoilt with an afternoon of gifts, tummy rubs and laughter as mum-to-be was put to the test with her knowledge of nappy changing and baby facts (I think I passed!). My friends didn’t get off scot free; they had to join in by guessing the name I have chosen for my little girl... if anyone put Bertha I won’t be amused!

Funny how names are such a fun thing to choose, but such a hard thing to pick. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes and as a result the world is made up of an array of weird and wonderful names, all chosen for their own special reasons by parents who have yet to actually get to know their child. Strange concept really.

At work we hark on about how important first impressions are – they can make or break a perception of a business in a split second, so why should this be different for our children? With businesses a name can paint a thousand images, portraying the services being offered, the types of customer being targeted, the style of the organisation, etc. So how much does a person’s name reflect who they are? It is after all a huge part of their identity, but does a name define them or will they define who they are.

All a bit deep for a Sunday morning, so back to my cupcakes! For me the name was easy - I have always had a girl’s name I love and it feels absolutely right for her (even though I have not met her). A boy’s name would have been a whole different kettle of fish - there was a shortlist, but even this was hazy... anyone for Maximus?

I have kept the name a secret so I can ‘try it on’ bump. When she arrives in to the world I can look at my gorgeous bundle of joy and I will know if that is the name for her. Despite endless interrogations from friends and family, my lips are sealed until my little girl arrives... after all, I think she would like to be the first one to hear her name.

On the ‘to do’ list:
Return dog-bot baby monitor – technology is only great when it works!
Put away all my lovely baby shower gifts – thank you everyone x
Not eat all 36 Snickers bars I got this weekend...
Start the full rebranding for our client that we have just renamed

Baby Business: Week 36, Bump, business and Braxton Hicks

Work on first designs for large hotel chain. Tick
Start ecommerce development for new client. Tick
Concepts for the ecast campaign. Tick
Stop going soppy every time I look at the moses basket! Still trying!

So much has been going on over the last 8 months as bump has grown and flourished and the excitement of ‘what’s to be’ has blossomed, that I have been able to just skirt over the concerns I may have about the upcoming baby business balance. Those carefree days of merrily sticking my head in the sand and living in a blissful state of denial are now gone. I am now less than four weeks away from d-day and have my eyes wide open about the upcoming changes... and there sure are going to be a whole heap of them!

Can these two very different worlds work in harmony – is there a balance?

I love my business and the work I do. I look forward to starting work each morning, chatting to clients and coming up with new and exciting concepts and campaigns. No day is the same and each day brings fresh challenges.

I love my bump and the changes I am going through. I look forward to meeting her, seeing what she will look like, chatting to her and learning how to be a mum. No day will be the same and each day will bring fresh challenges.

Ummmmmm... this is going to be tricky!

On a practical side I am fully prepared on the workfront for the upcoming time off and at home I am fully prepared for the new arrival. I have balanced the preparation of both so surely the reality of balancing work and baby will work equally as well... Alan Sugar never had these worries!

Do you know what? I am actually sitting here (laptop balanced on bump) not really worrying or stressing – I am actually far too excited about the upcoming weeks and months. As I chomp my way through my second Snickers of the day I realise that I have been balancing baby and business for a number of months already and that my mind has more than coped with focussing on both (I am a woman. I can multi-task!).

To be honest, right now I need to find a balance for the twinges and fake contractions (Braxton Hicks – technical term) that I am now encountering on a more and more regular basis. That is always an interesting moment when I am on the phone to a client and a fake contraction sets in and baby pushes that little bit further down on my bladder... you can see where this is going! Not such a good ‘baby business balance’ moment!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Stop balancing the laptop on bump ... probably not that safe!
Stop freaking out over labour stages discussed at NCT
Get measured ... you mums know what for!
Find out how all our business awards entries have done... fingers crossed

Baby Business: Week 37, Bump, birth and head back in the sand

Three new websites under development. Tick
Client’s new name finalised – on with the branding. Tick
Web review complete. Tick
Birth plan re-written for the fourth time. Tick

Can any mums out there tell me where you can buy that ‘magic’ cream that takes away all pain... you know the one, the one you get out anytime your child bumps themselves, falls over or bangs their head. Well I want some please for labour.

NCT and antenatal classes may be great for getting us mums-to-be ready for the birth and the weeks following little baby taking over our lives, but it also manages to put the sheer fear of god in to you too. I have followed a simple philosophy throughout my pregnancy - baby has to come out, so there is no point getting stressed and worked up about it. There are going to be a host of highly trained midwives and doctors who deliver umpteen babies a day and there’s an array of different pain relief options available. It will be fine.

Of course there have been plenty of people not shy in coming forward with their ‘birth stories’ (or horror stories) and scarily most of these people have been near-strangers, who end up chatting to me after they spot ‘bump’. It is lovely that people show an interest and seem to want to know about bump, but I really do not feel the need to know all the gory details of their own birth experiences.

There is a common theme though that runs through all the birth stories I have heard... “it is hard to describe as it is like nothing you can ever imagine”. Ummmmmm, haven’t I heard that before somewhere...

My NCT session this week covered all the different pain relief options available and it turns out they all have some negative sides to them, and some carry risks to the baby (even if very small). Now that’s a whole different ball game. Previously I have been thinking about how I will deal with being in labour and not really focusing on my little girl – surely nature takes it course and she wiggles her way out in to the big wide world (non-medically or graphically speaking!). But now I am finding out that the things that can help me and reduce stress and trauma to my body could actually cause her distress, however mild. That is not an option to me as those instincts to ‘protect at all costs’ are there before our little ones are even born. So what do I do then?

Simple. Back to my original philosophy – baby has to come out, so there’s no point in getting worked up about it beforehand. Besides, it’s going to be “like nothing I can ever imagine” so why bother trying!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Re-write birth plan again
Slow down and put my feet up more
Stop changing the outfit for my little girl to travel home in!
Prepare for judging of the four awards I have got clients’ shortlisted for

Baby Business: Week 38; Bump musings... nearly there

Finalist for New Business of the Year. Tick
VAT paid. Ouch
Used the expression ‘hubba hubba’ in a campaign! Tick
Birth plan finalised – draft seven. Tick

“Ohhh, what’s that. Oh nothing. Wait, ow is that....? No, just a false alarm... or is it... nope, nothing happening yet.” Hands up friends and family that are a getting a little fed up with the ‘is this it’ phone calls!

This really is a strange time. Baby is ready to make her debut into this world, but (as with all good females) she is going to do it in style and when it suits her... she’s her mother’s daughter after all! Every day is now spent with me pretending not to be over analysing every movement, twinge, ache and odd feeling, assuming that this is the day. The reality is that it could be another 4 weeks yet.

Life kind of goes on hold at this point. The sheer volume and scale of my body hinders anything more than a trip to the local shop for Snickers before the forced retreat to the sofa. My days are spent contorting my body to find that one comfortable position... the one that does not exist.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was dashing down to Tescos to buy that fourth pregnancy test. Seven months on and bump and I have already been through so much together. We have bonded beyond what I thought was humanly possible and have shared ups and downs, scares and thrills and gone through an emotional rollercoaster of hormones together (those close to me have especially loved those special ‘hormone’ times!).

I have fretted about the baby business balance whilst she has quite contentedly slept in her cosy cocoon growing and growing and growing. Business has grown alongside my bump and I have now come to terms with sharing myself between the original business baby and my new gorgeous baby girl who will be here any day.

I am ready.

Yup, all ready for baby. Everything’s set. No need to hang about...

Are you listening in there?

On the ‘to do’ list:
Clean cupboards... oh, is that nesting?
Stop playing with the cool dog-bot baby video monitor
Seriously need to stop bashing in to the child gates!
Make last set of amendments to my new website

Baby Business: Week 39, Overcoming all the bump challenges

Ready to have a baby. Tick

Well, my little girl did not listen to her mum and she is still firmly ensconced in her warm secret world. I guess I should have known really, after all she is very like me... and there is absolutely no telling me what to do or when to do it!

This week’s blog is a little later than normal as I have (according to the midwives) gone in to the very early stages of labour. Hold on – don’t get too excited! This actually occurred on Sunday afternoon, and here I am on Tuesday with nothing much more happening and apparently this could go on for a good few days. Ho hum.

Pregnancy has been all about adapting to the daily demands of our bumps and each of us mums-to-be dealing with our individual challenges. We grow (literally and metaphorically) and develop a whole new world that is less about meals out, shopping for handbags and going out for drinks, and more about buggies, expandable waistbands, food cravings and blood tests. How things change so dramatically in such a short time.

The last 8 months have been challenging in so many ways. I have been changing - my body has sprouted outwards (lost sight of my feet a while ago now), I have not had an alcoholic drink since I found out and I have worried about my business whilst continuing the drive to grow it. The baby business challenge has been exactly that – a challenge, but not one that has been insurmountable. It has been one that I have taken on with great joy and devotion.

As everyone has been telling me all through the pregnancy, having a baby changes you and your life in ways “you cannot image”, but you know what? I have already been going through it and love how things have changed, and I cannot wait to experience and encounter what is to come. This Friday is meant to be ‘d-day’, so bring on my new life...

In the meantime, my mum and friends have got me on a great distraction – cooking! Ensuring I have plenty of food in the house for all the visitors. Priorities hey!

On the ‘to do’ list:

Have a baby!  

Baby Business: Week 40 and 3 days... Bump still here!

Still ready to have a baby! Tick

When I started this column it was all about the bewilderment of adjusting to a new life, balancing the changes pregnancy brings with the growth and obsession I have with my business. Several months on and the column has evolved to address all these concerns and excitement, but it has also taken on a growing focus on bump's arrival and the complete shift that has occurred in my life as a result.

With d-day's arrival and passing and my bump still growing, I now find myself mildly restless and (it takes a lot to type this bit) experiencing a lack of control!!! Ahhhhhhggg.... I am officially in foreign territory!

You don't get told too much about this part of pregnancy - there tends to be a focus on how we mums-to-be should relish this time away from work and get lots of rest and put our feet up... conserve our energies as we will need them. That's all very well, but what are we meant to do whilst we have our feet up? Jeremy Kyle seriously distresses me and there are only so many cookery and house hunting programs I can endure. I have read magazines, books and even the terms and conditions of my new indemnity policy... now what?

In my case? Focus on work! Whilst full term pregnant mums around me are twitching and counting the hours of the day, I am back in work mode - much to the bemusement of my clients! This is where the baby-business balance works a treat. I am doing as I am told and putting my feet up, but I have my laptop balanced on bump and am able to keep working on a few projects.

I am also still getting out and about (in small doses) and spent d-day in the supermarket, yesterday out for lunch and today walking the dog in the forest - all first class venues for birth! I have to tell you, people's faces are a picture when they ask "when are you due" and you respond "yesterday"! Cruel, but I love the fleeting look of panic on their faces as they work out how quickly they can get away from the lady-about-to-give-birth!

All that said, I am absolutely beside myself with excitement - when oh when will my little girl come out to meet me? 

On the ‘to do’ list:
Have a baby!  

Baby Business: Week 41 and 2 days... Written by Bump

Finished growing. Tick
Learnt to suck my thumb. Tick
Got in some great kicks – thinking gymnastics! Tick
Ready to be born...?

Hi – bump here.

This week I have taken over as poor mummy is feeling a little fed up and uncomfortable, muttering something about ‘beached whales’ and ‘losing the will’.... not entirely sure what she means, but thought I would help her out and have a go at this blog thing.

All in all I have to say that this ‘creation’ malarkey has been great. I have spent the last 9 months in this wonderful squidgy floating bubble-thing, all warm and snug with very little to worry about apart from growing things. And I think I have been pretty good at it! I have grown all sorts of things - ears, a nose, some arms, hands and fingers and some legs feet and toes. I have worked out that the fingers are for sucking, the feet are for this great thing called ‘kicking’, and the ears have let me listen to my mummy (no idea what she’s on about most of the time, but she sounds kind of cool). However, I have absolutely no idea what this nose thing is for - I have tried sticking my fingers up it but this doesn’t seem to do anything.... oh well, maybe I will find out soon.

I also get to have lots of weird and wonderful new experiences every day. Dreamy warmth from sunshine, snuggling when it’s cold, splashing around in water, jumping about when mummy laughs and bouncing around on walks with mummy and Tiddler?... Tinker?... Timber?... the dog! Have not really taken to the ‘singing’ thing though – sorry mummy - but one of the best bits has been all the yummy food and so far I have liked just about everything, though I did get a bit fed up of all the scrambled eggs. And ‘oh my goodness’, what is that scrummy sweet caramelly nutty chocolaty thing? Heaven!!

There are still lot of things that I am learning about, which I guess is fair enough as I am only little. One thing I don’t understand is what ‘bed time’ is? I have worked out that it is something to do with sleeping which is great as I am really good at this, taking little naps here and there when I feel like it. But I think I must be missing something as mummy seems to moan about not getting enough sleep at bed time... she goes on about kicking, big bellies and toilets. Really not sure what this is all about so I don’t think I’ll worry about bed times – I’ll just stick to my napping as and when I feel like it. I’m sure mummy won’t mind...

So you see, everything has been pretty good over the last 9 months, but I now get the feeling that something new and big is meant to happen. I really don’t know what this is as my lovely mummy has made me so comfortable and happy here that surely there is no rush to change anything... though I have to say that, well, as nice as it is in here, and it is very nice, I have spent 9 months with my mummy, but I haven’t seen what she looks like... and I really want to try one of those ‘cuddle’ things that she has told me so much about.

Maybe it is time to change things...

...“Mummy, is it time?”

On the ‘to do’ list:
Meet my mummy!      
Think mummy may be trying to tell me something!

Welcome to part two.

Baby Business: Week 1, Bump to Baby

Have a baby. Tick

This will probably be my shortest blog ever as I have only one thing to say...

.... I am a mummy!

Baby was born weighing 7lb 3oz.

After keeping everyone waiting for 13 days she arrived in just 1 hour 17 minutes!

We are all well, but I am far too busy staring at my gorgeous girl to write anything else this week! I’ll fill you in next week...

On the ‘to do’ list:
Stop staring at my baby.... maybe....soon....!

Baby Business: Week 2, Baby and me

Master nappy changing. Tick
Function on two hours sleep. Tick
Learn to be a good mummy. Showing great potential!

Is this really only the second week of being an actual mummy? Not even a fortnight since baby arrived in to the world? Only 10 days since my last Snickers bar and the last day of ‘bump’?

I am not going to gush on about how my heart is over-powered with unconditional love; how I have to pinch myself every time I look at my little bundle of gorgeousness; how I spend every waking second staring in awe at this beautiful baby that has come from me... nope, I am not going to go on about all that... not even a little bit... promise... but ... well... she really is gorgeous and I really cannot believe it and I really do waste away the days looking at every little part of her!

Her day of arrival was certainly one to remember. After coming in to the world in just 1 hour 17 minutes (why hang about!) baby and I got to celebrate further when later that evening my business won ‘New Business of the Year’ at the District Business Awards. Just a few days shy of the company’s first birthday this was a great gift and reassurance that maybe I was doing something right with the ‘baby business’ balance.

However, as I look in to those big blue-maybe-grey-slightly-flecked-brown eyes I get a sense of enormity that all new mothers will understand – the enormity that this is reality, not a bump that gives you a great reason to eat lots and put your feet up, but an actual new era of your life that is completely and utterly about your new baby and the acceptance that life will now revolve entirely around her. And you know what? That is absolutely fine with me.

By the way, it is absolutely true that following a night of sleep feed nappy change sleep feed nappy change sleep feed nappy change (you get the picture), it takes at least two hours to get up in the morning, another couple of hours until you can finish getting dressed and have breakfast (forget hot drinks!), a quick session of chores before spending two hours feeding, changing nappies and feeding again. Then it is time for a quick wash, online grocery shop and 4pm lunch... and so it goes on!

Would I change it? Absolutely not!

Baby’s firsts:
The big wide world!

Business first:

Baby Business: Week 3, this new Baby world

Help Little-One put on weight. Tick (almost a lb since birth!)
Eat food whilst it is still hot. 1 out of 3... not bad!
Remember which day of the week it is. No chance!

Week three and I have already clocked up almost 100 hours of sleep since Little-One’s birth – Duracell Bunny eat your heart out! All I can say is ‘thank you’ to those many many many many sleepless nights throughout my pregnancy, without them I would have had to learn how to deal with being awake in the darkness of night and watching the black sky turn to light grey ... almost sounds poetic until you add in the bit about milk down the top, a bit of sick, a few smelly nappies and a complete sense of a ‘new type of dawn breaking’...
...welcome to the world of being a mummy!

This is one steep learning curve I can tell you and Little-One and I are learning about this new world together... luckily with mutual admiration and respect for each others’ daily achievements: Little-One mildly approving of my ability to now feed in public without exposing myself and me in awe at the amazing contortionist facial expressions my little girl can make. See, we are both quite content!

I am also pleased to report complete mastery of the buggy, car seat, bathing, feeding, nappy changing and trips to Starbucks, however there is still much room for improvement with regards to supermarket shopping. I haven’t even attempted to hit the high street yet and forget the much needed trip to the hairdressers – it is all about ‘baby steps’ and working out what works for us both (though I am quickly realising that it is really all about what suits Little-One... which is fine by me!).

You have to wonder though with this ‘back to basics’ approach that is forced on us new mums – how do you get your brain to function on non-baby related matters? This I am sure is a question that many new mums have pondered whilst staring goo-goo-eyed at their darling little bundles of joy. Maybe there is no need to know just yet how to get the old grey matter kick-started again and regain the ‘baby business’ balance... it is suffice to say that I am getting there. All I need to do now is work out how to get that sick stain out of my suit jacket...

Baby’s firsts:
Discovering the delights of battery operated swinging chairs and lullabies... not a peep out of her!

Business first:
Feature in the paper on award

Baby Business: Week 4, the light of my life

Continue to help Little-One put on weight. Tick (now over 1lb 7.5oz since birth!)
Wash my hair twice in the same week. Tick.
Sleep! 4 to 5 hours a night is not to be sneered at...

Three weeks into being a mummy and just as I thought I was getting in to the swing of things, Little-One changed the rules. This (I am now finding out) is the start of the one regular pattern you can rely on with babies... their ability to change their habits and needs at the drop of a nappy. I was just adapting to the sporadic sleep patterns and on-call milk cafe requirements, but now I have two new additions to the steep learning curve... wind and lights.

No-one ever told me just how much it hurts to hear your little ones in distress. Little-One is suffering from trapped wind and it is absolutely heartbreaking hearing the cries of discomfort from my teeny-tiny little girl. I have quickly become skilled in the art of ’burping’ (the baby not me!), but sometimes no amount of jiggling, rubbing or patting can hit the mark and it is down to the good old fashioned hug and cuddle to calm her down... something I have plenty of. However, this does mean that sleep times are massively reduced, but as cuddle times are longer I think it is a fair trade.

Now lights on the other hand are a totally different issue. How do you compete for attention with a light? They are just so shiny and twinkly and are just everywhere – windows, bulbs, reflections, digital clocks, TVs, mobiles...

Little-One is transfixed, so much so that even the lure of milk can go unnoticed. The main problem is that the lights are far more interesting to her than sleep. Just as I get her all cosy and dozy ready for a nice long nap, her now-very-alert eyes notice a random beam of light and that’s it... hypnotic baby state! I am still working on this one as short of living in 24 hour darkness (rather tricky and painful) this is a tricky one to tackle. I feel I should be using it to my advantage more...

With regards to the ‘baby business’ balance, this week was another step forward... I managed to order toner cartridges and new light bulbs for the office. The irony!

Baby’s firsts:
First manicure! Not quite a French manicure, but a gentle trim and file to stop her scratching her face ... scratch mits in the bin!

Business first:
Creating Pop Art for a client’s new branding. 

Baby Business: Week 5, the milk monster

Test out the play-gym mat (Little-One not me!). Tick
Master the art of putting tights on a wriggly baby. Tick(ish)
Keep booties on baby feet. No chance!

Help. I have been invaded! It’s like something straight out of a 1950s hammy-horror film... but giant spiders and 50 foot women have nothing on Little-One! Tell me - how can someone so tiny, so beautiful and so delicate transform so suddenly in to an obsessed, targeted and demanding creature? 

Let me introduce you to my daughter’s alter-ego – the milk monster.

On her month anniversary (many happy returns Little-One!) my little girl is doing really well, weighing in at an impressive 9lb 10oz, she is growing rapidly and developing such a distinct personality, complete with her own individual little quirks... the latest of which is her insatiable thirst for milk. Nothing else will do – no amount of cuddles, playing aeroplanes, bouncing in her swing, raspberry blowing on the tummy or even a slobbery kiss from the dog will do. It’s all about milk. Milk milk milk!

So far in her tireless (and I mean tireless - no need for sleep!) search for milk she has latched on to most parts of my body. Visitors who have not been quick enough have been sucked on the nose, ear, arm and even the forehead – she doesn’t seem too fussy at the moment! The other day she literally went for my jugular, definitely something out of a horror movie. Hope this is not linked to the current vampire craze? Yikes!

As it looks like the milk monster is here to stay for a while I am learning to embrace the little (still scrumptious) demon, so am off tomorrow to buy some garlic.

Baby’s firsts:
Little-One’s first marketing meeting and brainstorming session. One lucky client now has a lovely bit of baby drool on their proposal!

Business first:
Having a baby in a brainstorming meeting – the creative ideas were on a whole new level!

Baby Business: Week 6, Dog-blog

Survive the snow. Tick
Test buggy traction in the slush. Tick
Wear suitable leg covering for buggy-slush-splashback. Sadly no!

In one of my pregnancy blogs I talked about my dog Timba - how would he take to a baby invading his life? Well I'll let him tell you...

It's a dog's life.

"Woof. Woof. Woof.
Hrmph. I only popped out for a widdle and I've been forgotten again. It's cold out here, can you please let me in!

How things have changed - seems only 5 minutes ago when I had my lovely mummy all to myself, with the run of the house and walks all the time. Happy days. Then came that office place.

Don't get me wrong, I got to be with my mummy all day, plus I had these great people who would pop in and give me cuddles and (when mum wasn't looking) treats... But even though I slept by mummy's desk, she was so focused on that laptop thing and phone calls that I didn't get quite as much attention as I used to.

And now? Well...
I noticed mum was putting on a bit of weight (talk about pot-belly!) and I was thinking this was a time to increase the walks not cut back (shift a few pounds if you know what I mean!). Then one day she came home with a little something that smelt human, in a sweet milky way, but let out squawks like the pheasants I chase in the garden. What was this?

I had pretty much decided it wasn't worth bothering with when I realised that the little human had become the sole focus of my mummy's attentions. Hmmmmmm, I could use this to my advantage.

So this is my new life, courtesy of my grand master plan to get attention and rewards!
1. When little human squawks, notify mummy with a very quiet 'wuff' and do 'pointer' motion towards little human
2. When entering the same room as little human, stick nose in little human's bed to say hello
3. When out with little human in her bed on wheels, stand guard at all times
4. When little human is having clothes changed, lick the little feet... little human giggles at this
5. When little human is asleep, quickly jump up on the sofa with mummy for a cuddle as she usually only gets about 15 minutes before we hear a squawk...

It may be a dog’s life, but you know what? I love my new extended family."

Baby’s firsts:
Snow and minus temperatures. Oblivious to the pandemonium that gripped the UK - too busy on the hunt for milk!

Business first:
Oooohhhhh gold leaf in print. Super swanky!

Baby Business: Week 7, Santa or Scrooge?

Christmas tree up. Tick
Survived Christmas shopping with baby. Tick
Christmas presents wrapped. No chance!

I love Christmas and all that goes with it, from the decorations plastered everywhere to the cheesy Christmas tunes playing in every shop. I get completely in to the spirit of things. So it is no surprise that this Christmas is going to be the most special one yet... my little girl’s first Christmas. The only problem is that she (at 8 weeks) will be completely oblivious to it, other than the sparkling lights on the tree of course!

This brings me to that age old dilemma I understand many very new parents have: do you bother with presents? I mean, she really isn’t going to know and what’s more she has just had a huge amount of gorgeous gifts following her birth. Having spoken to my family it seemed that the general consensus was much the same, with offers of ‘a little something’ to put under the tree. So do you think we are all ‘Bah Humbug’?

Well don’t... Grandpa has already called to say he has wrapped all of Little One’s presents (all!); Granny has just bought another ‘little something’ she couldn’t resist for her new granddaughter; and Nanny and Granddad have just got back from Harrods... something tells me Little One is going to do very well this Christmas!

And me? Well, one trip to Bluewater later and the car boot is packed with toys and several (couldn’t resist) outfits for my little girl. Oh, come on. It is Christmas.

As for that tradition of hanging out a stocking for Santa – will I be bothering for my 8 week old? Of course! And what’s more, Little One WILL be leaving Santa a mince pie, a very large glass of sherry and a Bonio for the Timba the red-nose labradeer.

PS. As we are getting in to the Christmas spirit, I have a confession to make... for those friends and family who asked me what Little One wants for Christmas, I have to admit that she didn’t really ask for the new Jamie Oliver book or the Take That CD or the latest series of Desperate Housewives on DVD...

Baby’s firsts:
Exposure to CBeebies courtesy of her new best friends, Maddie (3), Lily (2) and Evie (1)... oh shades of things to come! Igle Piggle and Ninky what???!!!

Business first:
First set of Christmas ecards for clients... more to come. Ho ho ho

Baby Business: Week 8, A walking cliché

  • Oooooo’d and aaaaaahhhh’d at the pretty snow scene in the garden. Tick
  • Watched the snow pile up on the car and driveway. Tick
  • Been out with little one in the snow. Forget it!

10 weeks ago...

Sporting my very large bump and munching carefree on a Snickers bar, I mused to myself how I was not going to be one of ‘those’ mums. You know the ones. The ones that spend all their time going on and on and on about their ‘super-babies’, so named as they are the first babies in the world to have ever done anything...
“My baby is so advanced”
“Did I tell what amazing thing my baby did last week?”
“Have I mentioned how my baby already has an IQ of...”
“Wait till you see what my baby can do”
“I don’t like to brag, but isn’t my baby the most beautiful child ever”

I also vowed that I would have more topics of conversation than the noises my baby makes, how cute her little outfits are and the contents of her nappy...

10 weeks on...


Worse still, I actually heard myself utter the immortal hated phrase of ‘mums-to-be’... “motherhood is like nothing you can ever imagine”!

I suppose it is not that surprising I get over zealous about this new chapter of my life. I have always been completely passionate about everything I do. When in work mode I am totally consumed by all things ‘marketing’ and everything I achieve. I quite merrily yack on about different aspects of marketing and business, and spend countless dinner parties sharing my views!

So it only goes to follow that I want to share (overly eagerly) the single greatest achievement of my life to date... my little girl.

By the way, did I mention that she is by far the most beautiful baby ever?!

Baby’s firsts:
Becoming a ‘lady what lunches’! Sat through a four course Christmas meal in a restaurant... not bad for a 7 week old!

Business first:

Dabbling my toes in to the publishing world...

Baby Business: Week 11, F is for Freddie Frog

Opened all Little One’s Christmas presents. Tick (just!)
Stayed awake to see in the new year. Tick (only because Little One wouldn’t sleep!)
Found space for all Little One’s new toys. Given up!

Happy new year to you all. 2011 is here and how different life is! This time last year I believe I was still recovering from the over indulgences of new year celebrations. And this year? More like bottles of milk than bottles of bubbly. And I love it.

Between opening the mountain of presents for Little One and the continual eating (me and the milk monster), I spent the Christmas week learning about the wonders of baby’s toys. The bright colours; the beeps, buzzes and doinks; and the bits to press, pull or squeeze. It is a true education in understanding your little ones... the toys we adults like are the very toys our little ones show no interest in. The more garish the colour, the weirder the noise and the more it clashes with the decor – then that is the one they love.

It’s at this point that I need a sanity check from all you mums and dads out there... Is it just me or do you also end up naming every animal toy? I now have Freddie Frog, Horace Horse, Carla Cow, Sid Squid... the menagerie goes on. I can’t help myself. Is it the creative marketeer in me or is it the unfulfilled dreams of becoming a zoo keeper? Either way I am getting raised eyebrows from my friends and the people working at Costa Coffee.

But you know what? Little One loves it and greets every single one of her newly named animals with a big chuckle, so the menagerie is here to stay.

Back to ‘normality’ now (what’s that then?!) and I have resisted the urge to share my new animal friends with my clients. However, I have managed to gain inspiration from Terry Toucan whilst naming a client’s new business... now that really is a baby business balance! Shhhhhh, don’t tell my client that his new business is named after a plastic squawking baby toy!

Baby’s firsts:

Business first:
Terry Toucan!

Baby Business: Week 12, Why Mummy why?

Downloaded software for ‘Scout the Dog’. Tick
Sussed out how to program ‘Scout the Dog’. Tick
Pondered how baby’s toys got so advanced. Tick!

Pain, blood, tears and poo - another week with my little girl. 

That day had arrived, the day all new mums dread... the day we allow our tiny little babies to be stabbed (and not once but twice). Inoculations round one. 

My giggly bubbly baby sat beautifully as the nurse checked she had the right patient (!?). Just as Little One was throwing the nurse one of her award-winning smiles, the nurse stuck a needle in to her leg – immediate transformation from harmonious beauty to wide-eyed screeching baby. A flurry of soothing noises and multiple jiggles on the knee and Little One began to calm down, just in time for jab number two in the other leg, this time drawing blood. Oh, that look of pure horror and confusion. You could just hear her thoughts, "Why? Why would you do that to me? Why Mummy why?” Oh the heart strings...

And it all happens again in 4 weeks. Maybe this is a job for Granny?!

For those of you (like me) in the dark about the potential side-effects of baby’s first jabs, then I would like to bring a very special one to your attention.
Yes they can be very dozy for a few days.
Yes they can end up sleeping quite a bit.
Yes their legs can be a bit tender.
But the best? Mass bottom explosions! 

Wow, how can such a delicate beautiful little girl produce so much from her bottom? Forget the nappy - nothing was stopping this torrent. Up the back, round the neck, over the head, down the legs... no surface untouched within a 2 metre radius.

After literally 45 minutes of wiping, washing, bathing, rewiping, rewashing and rebathing, I got my clean little baby back on her (now sterilised) changing mat. I felt a great sense of achievement. We had survived our first major nappy-catastrophe with relatively little carpet staining and only two sets of outfits (each). With a sigh of relief I look in to the eyes of my beautiful little girl, she looks straight back at me, the corners of her mouth start to turn up in to a heart-melting smile and then she promptly wees all over me, herself and the new clothes I had laid out. And that smile of hers? Now a full blown giggling fit!

What can you do? Laugh too... it was after all very funny (more for her than for me or the nursery carpet).

Baby’s firsts:
Poo in the hair!

Business first:
Poo on the draft accounts!

Baby Business: Week 13, the great baby get-away

Learnt the words to ‘row row row your boat’... the modern version! Tick
Mastered nappy changing in the dark. Tick
Smiled at how different my goals are in life. Tick

Our first trip away just the three of us... me, Little One and the dog.
Out came my trusty zebra-stripe holdall; in went my jeans (still in the maternity ones with the stretchy waist), a sweatshirt, a couple of tops and a wash bag. Simple.
Business came with me too in the form of a laptop, notepad and BlackBerry – love technology.
Then there’s the dog’s bag – a Tesco’s bag-for-life with dog food, pills, lead, favourite toy and blanket.
And then there’s Little One... Wowzers! One very small person and a truck load of essential (?) paraphernalia. There goes the fuel economy.

The journey down started smoothly, no hold ups or adverse weather conditions. Half way down I get a phone call to tell me that the road ahead was shut in both directions, so I needed to take a different route. No problem, built in sat nav to the rescue. I turn on the sat nav and... out blares Disney Lullabies. Doh, I’d swapped the CDs in aid of providing comfort for Little One, but sadly the sat nav cd remained at home on the kitchen table. It was a long diversion...

Thought I should mention that the whole idea of this trip away was to catch up on some sleep (family on hand to help out with Little One) and to catch up on some work... great theory! Night one in new surroundings proved too much for both Little One and the dog. I was literally up every hour and a half - woof woof then milk monster then woof woof then mummy mummy then woof woof then milk monster then... Not much of an improvement night two or night three.

Day of departure and an hour re-loading the car, balancing things precariously on the buggy in the boot with at least a spare few inches for the dog to squeeze in. Seem to have collected an additional bag, courtesy of Granny and Little One going on a shopping trip together, and a new baby bath, with room for Little One to practise for her upcoming swimming lessons. Off we set, Disney cranked up and Mummy singing along (surprised the dog howls didn’t get us stopped). 40 minutes down the road and the Milk Monster awoke. Volume up a little more, but even Mickey Mouse and Fantasia could not quench the thirst, so nothing else for it - breast feeding in a roadside parking bay it was. Can you get arrested for accidental indecent exposure?

Home. Baby to bed. Dog fed. Car unpacked. Bags unpacked. Kettle on. Asleep on sofa! Ahhhh, nothing like a break away to recharge the batteries!

Baby Business: Week 14, snuffles, snot and snuggles

Attended our first baby club. Tick
Met lots of lovely babies and mummies. Tick
Slept through almost the entire session. Tick (Little One not me)

You know the saying, ‘it never rains but it pours’? Welcome to my very soggy week...

At the grand old age of three months, Little One has started teething. I am all for having an advanced child - she’s been able to hold her head up since birth, she is already feeding herself and I am sure she said the dog’s name the other day - but when it comes to growing up, I don’t want that to happen too soon. Teeth? That’s the first step away from being a baby.

Alongside the early teething, she developed a skin irritation on her neck which became inflamed and very sore. Then the following day, a huge amount of snot arrived in the guise of a cold. Sore + snotty = soggy baby.

Nothing for it, Mummy’s TLC was not going to be enough this time, so off to the pharmacist we went. After expert advice and recommendations, we walked out with granules, gels, two types of cream and bear-shaped refrigerator teething rings (?) ... oh, and a lighter purse.

We also left with the following warning from the pharmacist: “One of the creams contains a trace of paraffin, so we recommend you do not light a cigarette next to your child or put a lit candle next to her.” Wow, thank goodness she pointed that out, as I was all set for a candlelit evening in Little One’s nursery with a fine old Cuban cigar...!

So it is with one very soggy little girl that I now have a whole new set of rituals a day: additional bathing, creams twice a day, gel four times a day, granules when cheeks are red, protective cream before each feed... just as well all Little One wants to do is sleep at the moment as I am exhausted!

The lotions and potions are all very well and are working well in their individual ways, but the one medicine that works every time is ‘snuggles with Mummy’, something I don’t need a pharmacist to prescribe. 

Baby Business: Week 15, food glorious food

Been forgiven by Little One after second set of jabs. Just about.
Survived the ongoing teething. Tick (thanks to Nelsons Granules)
Maintained a smooth sleep pattern following jabs and teething. No chance!

I am all for eating sensibly, but I have never been one to check everything re salts, fats, sugars, carbs, e-numbers... I don’t go crazy, but cakes and pork pies have never been taboo in my house. So I now find myself in yet more uncharted territories with the potential approach of solids in to Little One’s diet - can I puree the lasagne? With recent media coverage hinting that we should be getting our babies on to solids much earlier, I have started the debate, even though I’ve only just mastered the move to formula... was that three or four scoops?

The introduction of formula was one of much contemplation, mainly in the baby aisle at the supermarket reading every bit of text on all the different formula brands, and there are quite a few. Forty minutes later (the ice cream in my trolley had started to defrost) I trotted to the check out with ‘hungry baby’ formula – obvious answer for the milk monster! So how am I ever going to decide between all the baby foods out there, or will I be disciplined enough to make everything myself?

The thought of introducing solids is opening up a whole new debate amongst my friends and family: “I started mine at about 2 months and it was the best thing I ever did”; “you should wait till at least 6 months, why put extra pressure on yourself now”; “she seems happy enough – she’ll let you know when she wants more substance”; “Let’s see - shall I give her some of my gravy to try?”; “I don’t know, do what you think is best”...

Would love to know when you mums out there started your little ones on solids and what advice you’d give.

One thing that does go through my mind is the change to our nearly perfected evenings. Right now the dog’s tea is at 5.30pm (Bakers Complete); Little One’s tea is at 6pm (milk milk and milk); and then it’s time for me to cook (whatever I have the energy to rustle up). These three meals work just fine at the moment, so how will solids for Little One impact on this carefully timed routine? Just think, an extra hour needed to clean the high chair, the floor (well the dog will do that) and Little One, as I just know she’s going to think smearing food all over her head is far more fun than eating it...!

Baby Business: Week 16, the baby whisperer

Little One discovered twins. Tick
Little One studied this new phenomenon intently. Tick
Little One completely understood the concept. Ummm, not if the constant ‘double-takes’ were anything to go by!

In business the right ‘tone of voice’ is vital, not only when talking to clients, but in the communications we write and produce. Change the tone of a communication and you will completely change the message and the way it is perceived. The right communication will make a successful campaign; the wrong ‘tone’ will create completely the wrong impression.
And of course communication is all important for our babies too...
At three months, Little One merrily chats away to me, telling me just what is going through her head (apparently a lot of ‘goo’ ... goo goo goo!). I always listen carefully and try to respond in the right manner, but if I get too excited at the wrong moment she gets quite annoyed, actually frowning and grunting as if to say, “you’re not taking this seriously enough mummy”!
When I chat to Little One I have to admit that I have turned in to the cliché comedy sketch... cooing, gooing and clucking with the best of them: “Who’s a clever-wever girl then? And who’s the most boootiful girl in the world?”.
However, I am always careful to use the right tone of voice at the right time and it is with great pride and a melting heart that I got to see how this has rubbed off on my little girl. If she wakes in the night and needs her nappy changing, I do it under a dimmed light and only whisper a few soothing words so as to keep her in ‘sleep mode’. This week Little One has woken three times in the night for a nappy change and instead of her normal excitable chattering, each time I laid her on the changing mat she looked straight at me and actually whispered. A fluke? Maybe, but she did it on all three nights!
But the ultimate heart melting moment came last night. As my sleepy little girl was drifting off I whispered “I love you”, to which she smiled and said “yiy glub goo goo” [Translation: I love you too!].

Baby Business: Week 17, Waterbaby

Discovered how to wriggle in order to move. Tick
Wriggled out from under my blankets several times a night. Tick
Wriggled my way out of my bouncer. Almost, but Mummy caught me!

Eyes shut, breath held, silence falls, the big moment has arrived... Mummy has to watch Little One go underwater!
This week Little One and I decided it was time to hop in to our swimming-costumes (Mummy going for full Bridget Jones style cover-up, pregnancy belly still not fit for human viewing) and go for Little One’s first swimming lesson. What I may not have mentioned before is that Little One views baths as a form of torture and as such should be treated with fear and a lot of noise. But sometimes you just have to dive in head first and take the plunge... literally!
So for two weeks leading up to the ‘big swim’, I have tried every form of bath-time fun to turn the baby-screams in to baby-smiles: Ducks of all colours and sizes; little floating boats; funny shaped sponges; baths with Mummy; a bigger baby bath; and watery-nursery-rhymes (with the actions of course).
The result? Silence... but silence is golden (she was after all not screaming). I even think there was a flicker of a smile when Mummy spilt half the bath water down her front.
So it was with baited breath and waiting cameras that Little One and I got in to the swimming pool. Her reaction? Complete nonchalance. Swimming round and splashing, totally laid back, even swimming underwater got no more than a little squeak of surprise. So ‘chilled-out’ was Little One, that she almost nodded off during the group swim!
So, has my little girl been pulling a fast one with Mummy or did my two-week ‘happy bath’ campaign pay off? Who knows, but it doesn’t matter because I got to take my little girl swimming and what made it so special was when she went underwater, she came up, saw me and stretched her arms out to me... me, her mummy.

Baby Business: Week 18, First things first

Continued to widen my vocabulary with squeals to add to the ‘goos’, ‘gahs’ and ‘do-doos’. Tick
Continued to learn new moves, including the 180 degree wiggle. Tick
Continued to improve my sleeping at night. No chance!

This week has been a triumph for Little One, who has notched up a number of ‘firsts’. No more ‘baby steps’, it’s best foot forward now...

Little One’s Weekly Diary
Monday: My first tooth has come through. It hurt, but now I get to suck on my whole fist and drool loads down my pretty dresses... the washing is mounting up that little bit quicker than normal!
Tuesday: I waved at Mummy today when she went off for a meeting. Well, I know it was a wave and Mummy knew it was a wave, but I guess others may think I was just stretching my fingers.
Wednesday: I have always known that Timba the dog is around, but to be honest he is just not colourful enough to get my attention, or spotty enough like my giant black and white Dalmatian toy. Anyway, today I decided that maybe I should acknowledge him, after all he is always giving me kisses and helping me chew on my toys. That is why I tried to stroke him for the first time... he was very hairy!
Thursday: Mummy finally noticed that I have got too big for my pram – I think it was the foot resting out the end that did it! So we went out for the first time in my buggy, and the best bit? I got to see lots and lots of things that I couldn’t before (all I saw from my pram was the sky, tree tops and Mummy’s nutty grinning).
Friday: Zzzzzzzzz... sleepy day. Well, I have been busy so far this week!
Saturday: Mummy and I went away and I got to sleep in my brand new rainforest jungle travel cot for the first time (complete with flying parrot, monkey and frog... bet you didn’t know that frogs could fly). In fact, I enjoyed the flying creatures so much that I had to wake up every two hours to check they were still there and share my discovery (every time!) with Mummy.

A little note from Mummy: “I am really looking forward to one ‘first’ in particular from Little One... the first time my gorgeous little girl sleeps through the night!

Baby Business: Week 19, works like a dream?

Chewed my toys. Tick
Chewed my play mat. Tick
Chewed mummy's ear. Tick!

I can't believe it. Am I the last mum on the planet to have heard about this? My friends knew about it and did it; my baby club mums knew and did it; family members knew and did it; and millions of mums are doing it...

After weeks of waiting for my little girl to start sleeping through the night and not waking at midnight... 1am... 2.30am... 4am... play for an hour... 6am 'rise and shine'! I may have discovered amiracle solution – dream feeding.

For the few mums out there that have not heard of this, the theory is you give your little one a feed before you go to bed, but you don't wake them. You simply pick up your dreaming baby and feed them a bottle whilst they continue to sleep. So how did I get on?

Monday: 10pm dream feed. Pick up a sleeping Little One, settle down and put the bottle gently in to her mouth. Suck, suck, suck – 1oz down. Then... SCREAM (whilst remaining asleep). Spits out bottle. I try again. SCREAM. Spits out bottle and clamps mouth shut (still asleep by the way!). Wait 5 minutes and try again. Nope, nothing is getting past those clamped lips. Sigh. Back in to cot. Midnight... "Mummy, I'm awake". 2am... "Mummy, I'm hungry"...
[NOTE: A bit sceptical about this dream feeding...]

Tuesday: 10pm dream feed. Pick up a sleeping Little One, settle down and put the bottle gently in to her mouth. Suck, suck, suck – 1oz down. Then... spits out bottle. I try again. Spits out bottle and clamps mouth shut (still asleep by the way, but at least not screaming tonight!). Wait 5 minutes and try again. Nope, still nothing is getting past those clamped lips. Sigh. Back in to cot. Midnight... "Mummy, I'm awake". 2am... "Mummy, I'm hungry"...
[NOTE: Losing faith in this already...]

Wednesday: Little One wakes at 9pm. No dream feed. Surprise surprise - midnight... "Mummy, I'm awake". 2am... "Mummy, I'm hungry"...
[NOTE: Tomorrow is the last chance...]

Thursday: 10pm dream feed. Calm baby. Suck, suck, suck, hum, hum, sing, sing – 4oz down happy in her dreams. The result? 13 hours sleep!
[NOTE: I still woke every two hours wondering why Little Onehadn't... had to keep checking on her!]

Friday: 10pm dream feed. Sings through 4oz again. Sleeps for 12 hours!
[NOTE: Loving dream feeding now!]
Saturday: 10pm dream feed. Sings through feed. Only 1oz though and... yup, wakes at 2am!

So the jury is still out on dream feeding, but I have faith and am hopeful that tonight will see another 12 hour sleep. Fingers crossed...

Baby Business: Week 20, how funny are frilly knickers?!

Outgrown my carry cot. Tick
Outgrown play mat. Tick
Outgrown my car seat. Almost!
Outgrown Mummy's bank balance. Definitely!

This week has been full of chuckles, giggles and raspberry-blowing sniggers. But I do wonder what goes through our little ones' heads to make them find random things hysterically funny?

This week Little One has been shaking with laughter and loud chuckles over an array of randomness:
• Licks from Timba the dog
• Frilly knickers 
• Flowery summer shorts
• Flying through the air
• Raspberries from herself and others
• Jiggling panda toy

If you could bottle this innocent, joyous humour and understand how to make us (rather boring in comparison) adults see things through our babies' eyes, then you would be a millionaire.

Little One's laugh triggers so much within me: love, positivity, inspiration, pride and adoration, to mention a few. I actually found last week one of my most productive weeks on a work front in a long time  when I got stuck for inspiration it took just one wave of those frilly knickers and my little girl's chuckles filled the house and my thoughts... marketing magic. Maybe I should get her 'chuckle' insured!

I have to take my hat off to the creators of children's programs,how do they know what will make the little kiddies laugh. I mean, who'd have thought that Peppa Pig would be such a hit? And as for Makka Pakka...

Well, it doesn't matter what it is that makes things so funny to our babies, it just makes us happy that they are so happy. Simple.

PS. Dream Feeding is the best! 12 or 13 hours uninterruptedsleep every night since the last blog

Baby Business: Week 21, toilet humour

Perfected raspberry blowing. Tick
Perfected screeching full volume. Tick
Perfected the discreet burp. Definitely not!

I will apologise in advance for lowering the tone of my blog this week, it has all gone to base-level with a whole new look at ‘toilet humour’. The week started so innocently, with the usual cuddles and playtimes when things took a turn to the ‘dark side’...
Incident 1:
Bath time and there we were playing the raspberry blowing game on the changing mat whilst the bath was running, when I gathered Little One up for a big squeezy-hug and... What is that warm feeling on my leg? Doh! Never pick up an excited baby with no nappy on. Denim really soaks up wee. Little One’s reaction – giggles of course.
Incident 2:
Little One is now extremely ‘in to’ Timba the dog. Her eyes follow him everywhere and she keeps putting her hands out to stroke him. She actually got to lie on him the other day and was full of chuckles and squeals of delight as she grabbed great handfuls of his fur - not sure Timba was as impressed with the situation. At the beginning of the week Little One was watching with her usual intense fascination when my delightful dog farted... loudly! Well that was it, Little One burst out in to uncontrollable giggles.
Incident 3:
You change umpteen nappies a day and every so often there will be one that will catch you off guard. Little One treats her changing mat as one of her favourite play-zones: wriggling, waving arms and legs, chatting, squealing and generally having a good time. So it can often be a little challenging changing her nappy (Krypton Factor has nothing on this). I always have a quick ‘sneak-peek’ into her nappy to prep me for what is to come. I took a look – all clear, just a bit wet... easy. So in the spirit of playfulness, I flicked the nappy from under Little One only to be met with a perfectly round marble of poo between the eyes. Bullseye! Little One’s reaction? Yes, you guessed it – giggles.

So it is true - toilet humour makes people of all ages laugh. 

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