To go back to work, or not to go back to work – that is the question.

It’s funny how life springs these huge, mind-boggling, life-changing decisions upon us throughout our time here on Planet Earth. Do I go to Uni or do I start working once I’ve left school? Should I rent first or stay at home and save for a deposit? A lot of the time people (myself included) factor elements into their decision making process that should never have been factored in. This is usually to do with how you will be perceived for not going to Uni or not buying your own home before you’re 25 but honestly and truly as we get older I think everyone realises – who really cares?!

Circa 2002, I did care if I had the best 3310 phone case in the class but that was part and parcel of being a 14 year old in Kent. As an almost 30 year old, deciding whether or not to be a working Mum or a stay at home Mum should be a decision that’s made with only my family in mind. And whilst it was, there’s always going to be that devil on your shoulder telling you that the opposite is what ‘society expects of you’ however hard you try to ignore him.

So that brings me to today. I did decide to go back to work. I went back when Ollie was ten months old. I work four days a week and one from home. I decided to take Wednesday’s off to break the working week up and so that I didn’t have to go long periods without spending the day just me and him. I should also mention that I’m well aware how fortunate I am to work for an organisation that recognises the need for flexible working. My boss couldn’t have been more accommodating if she’d tried with meeting my needs coming back. I have a few friends that have decided not to go back to work purely because of the offer their employer gave them. No flexibility on hours, no working from home etc. so had I been faced with the same antiquated attitude from my employer, my decision could have been very different.

I’m really happy with our arrangement as it’s, to us, a perfect mixture of everything and everyone. It goes a lot like this…

  • On a Monday Ollie is with his Nan (my MIL). They have a very excitable 2 year old Black Labrador Puppy who Ollie absolutely adores and they live deep in the countryside in this beautiful detached beamed cottage. He spends his Monday’s going on long walks in the woods with Nanny and Harvey and from the pictures and videos I receive on a weekly basis – you can see he’s living his best life on a Monday. I’m in the office.
  • Tuesday he goes to Nursery. Tuesday is the only day he’s there for what I deem a long time. On a Tuesday, neither Michael or I have quiet days at work so he’s usually dropped at 7:30 and not picked up until 5:30ish. FYI – he’s still never been the first child dropped off and never been the last child picked up, which was my biggest heartache, strangely.
  • Wednesday’s are the best days. We go to the park, we have picnics, we go to soft play, we meet all his little friends, we lunch in the sun (let see how long that lasts!!) and when he naps I get a few bits done around the house.
  • Thursday Ollie goes to nursery and I work from home. This day is a nice serene change from the chaos of the first three days of the week. Ollie is at nursery, it’s just me, the radio, my coffee and my laptop. The occasional conference call (still absolutely winning at a no make-up day!) and as a rule I drop him a little later and collect him a little earlier, because I can.
  • Friday I go into work and Ollie is at Nursery but guys… IT’S FRIDAY!!! No one is sad on a FRIDAY!! I have a glass of wine with lunch, which inevitably overruns, it’s a dress down day, people bring in doughnuts and if the nursery are going to do a feature day, i.e. Royal Wedding day or making Easter bonnets – they do it on a Friday. As a rule also, Michael, my partner, works from home on a Friday so he also drops Ollie a little later and collects him a little earlier. There have been occasions where they’ve had a lads Friday night in watching Toy Story and eating crisps when Mummy appears stumbling out of an Uber around midnight carrying her heels, but the less said about that, the better.

This routine is some families worst sodding nightmare. But for us, it just works. Everyone is getting their time as a family and time outside of the family and it’s what we all need.

This leads me on to the actual point of this post. A few weeks back a group of us Blogging Mum’s, got together to discuss our own personal decisions in whether or not to go back to work and if we had or hadn’t the reasons behind our decisions. We came up with a list of Q&A’s for each of us to answer as honestly as possible. My answers can be seen below. Right at the bottom of the post I’ve linked to the other Mum’s blogs so you can see what each of us has decided and the contrast in each of our answers. Whatever the answers though, I think we can all agree to say that we did so with our little ones best interests at heart.

Q&A #MummaMakesItWork

1. How soon after having your baby (or finding out you were pregnant) did you decide you would continue to work after maternity leave?

I think I’ve known for a good few years that I’d go back to work after having children, long before they were ever on our agenda. I was obviously always open to the idea of the fact that I could feel totally different once they arrived and I’d had my year off but I think deep down I always knew. I’m a busy person. I’m fortunate enough in that I love my job. I don’t go to work just to pay bills and if that were the case I’m sure that my decision would have been a different one. Some people hate the idea of a commute into London every day and that’s fine but I love working in the City. I’ve been doing so for 12 years and I’ve never once even glanced a job ad nearer home. I love the hustle and bustle lifestyle with summer lunches in the park and the Christmas lights on every building (even if they do start to go up now straight after Halloween!) To me, my job isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. It’s something that my partner, my son, my parents nor my friends from home have any involvement in and I quite like that. As well as being a job that I love it’s an escape for me of the everyday tasks that being a fiancé and a Mum bring. Don’t get me wrong, when I was on maternity leave on a cold December morning and I saw everyone in my street scrapping their windscreens whilst Ollie and I settled down for a breakfast date with Holly and Phil I was totally living my best life right there! But I needed something to make me feel like me again and going back to work has totally done that.

2. Who else had an influence over our decision? (Partner, parent, employer?)

I would say no one. Obviously it was discussed at length with Michael of what our plans would be once I’d gone back but that was more to do with the financials of childcare and the logistics of it all. The decision was solely mine and like I said above, I’d pretty much made my mind up years ago. Michael knew this too so he kinda left me to it.

3. To what extent did finance have an impact on your choice? Living costs, childcare costs.

A HUGE impact. Whilst I was on maternity leave I had an interview for a promotion that had become available whilst I was off. As I managed to secure this I knew I was coming back to a pay rise which was lovely but as I was planning on coming back only four days a week it took my pay back to almost what I was on in my old role on five days. So in theory I didn’t take a pay cut by dropping a day which was perfect! However, I had no idea how expensive childcare was!! I knew it was pricey but I didn’t realise it would rival our mortgage for highest direct debit! Once we’d viewed Ollie’s nursery, been given the fees info and done some maths we knew we had to sit down and work out how we were going to pay for everything. We basically made a spreadsheet of income and outgoings with me going back to work and the same with me staying at home. Bearing in mind it’s not just the nursery fees if I go back. It was also my monthly train fare/petrol for my commute and eating in Canary Wharf of a lunchtime is not the cheapest! After an evening of spreadsheets and Malbec it became apparent that we would be a lot better off me going back to work. Which for reasons displayed in answer one pleased me no end. Obviously if it wasn’t going to be worth me going back I’d have to have seriously considered not but as it turns out it made our decision easier. Furthermore, I’ve always had at the back of my mind that childcare costs are a short term problem, two years maximum as we would qualify for 30 hours of free childcare a week once Ollie is three. He’d actually need less than 30 hours as he’s only at nursery three days and my mother-in-law has him the other day. Therefore if I’d quit to save money for the first two years and gone back to work once he was at nursery at the age of three, there’s no way I’d have gone back on the same salary and would almost have had to start climbing the ladder a few rungs down so we’d actually have been worse off in the long run.

4. Do logistics/travel play a part in your decision (location of workplace, whether you drive).

A little. Purely because I didn’t want Ollie to be the first one dropped to nursery in the morning and the last one to be picked up. I wanted a work/life balance (which is why I decided to take Wednesdays off to break the week up a bit) and why I work from home on a Thursday so he can go in a little later and come home a little earlier. Where both myself and Michael don’t work 5 minutes from home we knew we’d have to be dropping him at nursery by 7:30-7:45. This hasn’t been an issue so far and there’s usually 5 or 6 kids already there when Michael drops him. I go into work early so I can leave at 4pm and be back to collect him just after 5pm and he’s usually one of the first to be collected. We were really conscious of hardly seeing him on those three days so we decided on the system where I would leave in the morning before either of them were awake and get to work for 8am. Michael would spend an hour or so with him in the morning before nursery and I would pick him up and have an hour or so with him before Michael arrived home. So far it’s worked perfectly. We have a good hour playing together all three of us downstairs then we go up for his bath around 7-7:30 and we’re all playing and splashing until he’s exhausted and ready for bed. Those days are great as we’re both so excited to get home and see him and there’s no ‘I’ve had him all day, you can do bath time/bedtime’ and we’re pretty much both fighting over who spends more time with him rather than who’s had the tougher day. So yes, I would say that did play a part in the decision but so far, everything logistical has worked out well.

5. What kind of judgement from others have you feared or experienced?

Fortunately, none. I say none, one of our elderly neighbours did say ‘Oh you’ve gone back to work already, that’s quick!’ even though he was 10 months old! But you know what, things were different back then (she’s 76) it’s more normal for women to have children and go back to work now so I really didn’t take offence to that particular comment. Everyone else has been nothing but supportive. All my close friends and family knew my thoughts from the start and also knew I was the sort of person that needed to go back to work. I would also say I’m the sort of person that isn’t too bothered what people’s opinions are of me and it would be such a shame if a more sensitive person would factor in to their decision what other people’s perception of them was. Who cares?! It’s your life, do what works for you and your family.

6. How has your sense of identity/independence/confidence been affected?

I remember when Ollie was about 4 months old, Michael and I went to a concert in Hyde Park (it was the first time we’d left him overnight) and Ollie was with my in-laws. I remember after a few ciders saying to Michael ‘I actually feel like me again for the first time in months’. I wasn’t covered in sick, I didn’t need to carry a mammoth bag of bottles and nappies around, it was just me, my tiny bag filled with my purse, phone and lip gloss and we danced and sang along to Greenday without a care in the world. It was that day that made me realise I’d lost my way in the world a little. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing, I was a Mum now and as epic as that was I was still a girlfriend/fiancé to Michael, I was still a daughter to my parents, I was still as sister to my brother and I was still a friend to everyone else. That would only change if I let it and I didn’t want it to. It took a little while to work out how to be ‘Steph the Mum that is still the girl she always was but with fewer hangovers and always carries wet wipes’ but once I’d worked her out, I’m really pleased I chose to be her.

7. Did you have any career goals prior to becoming pregnant? How do you feel about them now?

I wouldn’t say I’m hugely career minded in that I’m constantly chasing a promotion but I do like to do well. I was lucky enough to be able to secure my promotion whilst on maternity leave which made a huge difference in my pay coming back which in turn I guess made it an easier decision to make. Would I say I’m desperate to get promoted again within the next two years? Probably not as much as I would have been had I not had Ollie. It just takes a lot of time and effort to get noticed that you’re going the extra mile and at it this moment in time I’m comfortable where I am and with what I’m doing. I don’t spend my weekends stressing about Monday morning or sending emails after Ollie’s gone to bed and I think a role like that with a one year old would send me over the edge. That’s not to say that in a few years when he’s a little more independent and at school I wouldn’t consider it if the opportunity arose but for now I’m happy where I am.

8. In what form does ‘Mum guilt’ take on?

I don’t think you can call yourself a Mum if you don’t have Mum guilt! It’s everywhere and with everything, not just going back to work. Has he had enough fruit today? Did we spend enough time in the garden today? Has the tele been on too long? The same goes when going (or not going) back to work. I leave in the mornings, grab a costa, flick through insta on the tube and then BAM, my Mother-in-Law sends me a video of him laughing at their dog and I’m almost in tears thinking ‘why am I doing this, look at his little face!’ Having said that I’m sure there’s people out there who have chosen not to go back to work and are thinking ‘I wonder if nursery would be good for his social and mental development, am I depriving him/her of that for my own needs?’ You’re never going to get it right 100% of the time. We just do our best to make life easier and generally a happier place to be for our families.

9. Name your biggest doubt/insecurity over your situation?

At the time of deciding I would say my biggest doubt/worry would be what if he hated nursery and I hated leaving him every day? I’m not going to lie the first week was hard. I called the nursery constantly and every time I was told the same thing ‘he’s playing in the sandpit, he hasn’t stopped smiling, everything is fine’. As the weeks have passed dropping him there and heading off to work doesn’t even feel strange anymore, it’s just a new chapter in our lives. So the doubts were there, obviously, but they’ve slowly gone away over time. I’m not going to lie, it helped massively when one of the nursery staff came up to me one day when collecting him and whispered in my ear ‘we’re not allowed to say this, but he’s everyone’s favourite’. Oh, you guys – stop! 🙂 🙂 🙂

10. I am happy with my decision because…

… it was the right one for our family. I will never love or be obsessed about anything or anyone as much as I am my little boy. But what I now know, that I maybe didn’t before, is it’s ok to adore him and still go to work and be Steph. I love being Steph the employee, I love being Steph the friend, girlfriend, daughter and sister but my favourite job is Steph the Mum and I don’t even get paid for that one!

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See all other answers to #MummaMakesItWork below:

Skorchcake

Mums Revolution

Cold Tea and Toast

Adventures of Lyncoln and Sophia

Thrifty Mumma Thrifty Bubba

Georgie Plus Three

Michael in full scrubs is something I’ll never forget. It was hilarious. I’d just managed to scrape my hair into a messy bun and had my maternity nightie hitched up. And that was that. I was wheeled out of the room I’d spent the last 17 hours in and into this bright, clean, shiny looking theatre. The anaesthetist, Dr Medy then administered more anaesthetic into my already blocked spine to ensure I was completely numb rather than just the pins and needles feeling I’d had before. I was then lifted up onto the table and a  crowd of people surrounded me. Around 8 I think. They were all chatting amongst themselves like a real life water cooler moment, but I guess to them it was just another day at the office. Dr Psy then got everyone’s attention and the next few minutes really put me at ease. ‘Good afternoon everyone and good afternoon to Stephanie’. ‘Stephanie, Steph – which do you prefer?’ he asked. I said I didn’t mind, Steph is fine. He then got everyone in the room to introduce themselves to me and tell me what part they were going to play. There was Dr Psy, doing the actual operation, Dr Medy the anaesthetist who stood by my head the whole time, there were two midwifes, Anna and another, another Doctor (I assume in case the main doc croaked?) and three theatre staff. One of the theatre staff introduced himself and I had to do a double take. He looked about 11. I asked him if he was on work experience and he laughed and said he got that a lot. He was in fact a 25 year old junior doctor but Christ, what a baby face! Once the introductions were done Dr Psy’s exact words to me were ‘so happy with everything? Let’s get this baby out! Wooooo’ and everyone started clapping. It was like a rally. So weird but so comforting. It was 12:31 and I heard him say to one of the theatre staff ’12:31 – first incision’. Michael was there at my head gagging to have a look over the screen but he resisted, for now. He kept asking if I was ok, which I was and Dr Medy kept telling me to let him know if I start to feel anything. I was like, ‘mate, you’re colleague is hacking away at my womb with a scalpel. If I feel anything, you’ll be the first to know – trust me.’

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The next few minutes were quiet. Dr Psy was obviously concentrating and then I felt movement in my bump. Much more movement that I had felt with the kicking. It was more like my stomach was a shopping bag and someone was going through it. The next few minutes seemed to take longer than the documented 5 minutes they actually took so I decided to count the ceiling tiles. I got to 27 and then at I heard my boy cry. It was 12:36 on 1st May 2017 and time stood still. They lifted him over the screen to see me and then ushered him off for his 1 and 2 minute checks. I watched him the whole time and then Anna wrapped him up and brought him over to us. She placed him on my chest and told me he was 7lbs 4oz and that he was perfect. Michael then had a cuddle and then he passed him back to me. I couldn’t believe he was finally here. The whole affair was so overwhelming I couldn’t stop crying. Dr Psy then told me they have removed my placenta and other gubbins (his words, not mine) and they’d begin stitching imminently. Anna then took him off me to do his 5 minute check which again was fine so she placed him back on my chest.

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It took about 20 minutes to stitch me up completely. Michael finally got a glance at my insides and went on to tell me that my large intestine wasn’t how he’d imagined it would look.  After about 10 minutes I came over really sick. I told Dr Medy who said it’s a common side effect of the anaesthetic so I quickly gave the baby to Michael and vommed in one of those little cardboard hats they give you in hospital. I asked Michael to keep him for a minute as I wasn’t sure I was done and the last thing I wanted to do was to vom on my 12 minute old son. It was shortly after this that my stomach started to sting. I wouldn’t say it was painful as such but it was a feeling and I wasn’t sure I should be having a feeling. I told Dr Medy and his response of ‘I did see your toes move a second ago. It may be wearing off but there’s no point in administering more now, they’re almost done’ was obvs the least comforting sentence of all time. He was right though, they did finish pretty livo.

By 1pm I was signed, sealed and ready to go. I was moved back on to the trolley, modesty hidden and some of the tubes and needles were removed. I had to have the baby on my lap for the journey to the post-natal suite which was a bit like a little fairground ride. As I was being pushed around the corridors I was like ‘hey guys, this is my new son, what do we think?’ In my head obvs. I’m not a nutcase. What happened next was really strange. We got into the post-natal suite and my eyes just closed. It was like they were being glued together. The baby was still on my chest and I remember hearing people talking to me but I couldn’t physically open my eyes. This was tiredness like I’d never known. Michael then took the baby from me and said to for me to sleep. One of the midwives (not one of my lovely ones form earlier) said ‘you have to keep her awake, she has to start feeding and do skin-to-skin’ If I’d had the energy I’d have told her to eff off. It’s 1:15 on Monday afternoon. I’ve been awake and linked up to umpteen machines for 36 hours you opinionated twat. I thought new mums were meant to be supported and not made to feel inadequate within the first 45 minutes! But as I looked back and saw Michael with his top off and making up a bottle I knew he had this covered. I just needed half an hour to recharge my batteries, ready to be a Mum. I obviously went out like a light and Michael put a nappy on him, put him in a lovely clean outfit and was giving lots of cuddles and bottles. About an hour later I awoke. I saw what Michael had done in my absence (without any prompting or guidance) and I just burst into tears. What sort of mum sleeps through the first hour of their sons life?! He tried to calm me down by saying look what you’ve just been through, you deserve a quick hours shut eye but I didn’t care. What was wrong with me? Most people would be so ecstatic and so overwhelmed that sleeping would be the last thing they’d need but not me. I was so upset. I felt like a real life failure. I wasn’t a fan of the woman I was with at this point so when they said it was time for me to be moved to my private room I was pretty happy.

We were wheeled to my own private room in the post-natal ward at around 6pm and then the midwife handed me over to a newbie that would take me from here. She was so lovely and comforting. She gave me painkillers, checked the baby over, asked if we needed anything and said she’d be at the desk if we needed her. Then she left and it was just us three. Michael unpacked a few bits for us and got me a drink. I sat up and the baby slept in his crib. We had a few names in mind before he arrived but loads of people had said to wait till he was here to make a final decision to see if he looked like the name we chose. It didn’t even need to be discussed. He didn’t look like a Henry, or a Thomas or a William. He was little Oliver, through and through. And that was that, Oliver Michael Woodworth was born. Only nameless for about 5 hours – not bad. After half an hour or so the midwife came back to check we were ok. I asked if she’d take my catheter out as I really wanted to start moving. She explained that I’d only had my epidural removed 3-4 hours ago so may not be able to get to the toilet but I just wanted to try and walk. She obliged and had someone come in and remove it for me and by 8pm I stood up. Very wobbly I walked to the bathroom and had a shower. It felt amazing. I hadn’t showered in nearly 3 days. I was covered in dried blood and gunk and it felt so good to be clean again. I popped a new pad in my drawers, put on a clean nightie and blow dried my hair. Whilst I was in the shower they had changed all my bed sheets so getting back into bed I felt like a new woman. Oliver was still sleeping on Michael and at about 11pm we settled down for the night. The midwife came into to do blood pressure readings on me (because it was still obscenely high) every 2-3 hours so I didn’t get the best night’s sleep but Oliver slept surprisingly well. The morning came and I decided to get dressed. I put on some leggings and a t-shirt and did my hair and make-up. My Mum was coming to the hospital around lunchtime and one of the midwives came in shortly before and double took me standing at the mirror putting on mascara. ‘Stephanie, didn’t you have a C-section yesterday?’ Yeah I said, open-mouthed as everyone knows you can’t apply masc with a closed gob. ‘But you’re out of bed and wearing make up!’ I didn’t realise it was that strange. I just knew I looked tired and I had guests so needs must and all that!
Mum left around 3pm and that evening my Dad, step-Mum, brother and best friend, Fiona, all arrived. It was so lovely to see them all and for them to meet Oliver. He was the first grandchild for both of my parents, so he was extra special. That night I told Michael to go home and get some proper sleep. He’d slept on the floor of a hospital, on bean bags or in chairs for three nights. He needed to sleep to be on his A game to bring Oliver home the next day so I’d like it if at least one of us was well rested. Plus, I needed some bits from home. He left about 9pm and I got settled down for the night about 11pm. We both fell asleep and Oliver woke up about 2am. That was him done for the  night. He was awake until about 6am. I tried everything, feeding, changing, rocking, burping – nothing. He had very little time for me that night. He eventually fell asleep just after 6am and we woke up around 8am when my midwife came in to check on us. She took my blood pressure and for the first time in almost six days – it had gone down! Yay!!! Michael got back around 10am. He had Oliver for an hour or so whilst I showered and got myself sorted. We then packed up the bags and waited to be discharged. Oliver then had his last tests on his hearing and sight and once passed, my blood pressure was checked for the last time and it was normal. What a relief! We were given some leaflets and told the health visitor would be round in a day or two and we were sent on our merry way. I couldn’t have thanked each person in that hospital enough if I’d tried. I received a first class service 100% of the time and the doctors and nurses of the NHS really don’t get the recognition they deserve. Not once was anything too much trouble and they spent hours tirelessly ensuring Oliver arrived safely to the world. I will forever be grateful to them for that.

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My baby brother starting Uncle duties

As we walked back out to the hospital front so many people were peering in the car seat. Everyone asked his name and how I was, whether it was patients, staff, visitors, it was so nice. We secured Ollie in the car and off we went. I remember saying to Michael to go over speed bumps slower than slow because every bump in the road was felt in my scar. We got about 5 minutes from home and I thought, I wonder if I should have sat in the back?! It didn’t even dawn on me. I mean, he slept the whole way so it didn’t really matter but still. We arrived home and Michael brought Oliver and the bags into the lounge. I sat on the sofa and he passed Ollie to me accompanied with a prosecco. ‘Welcome to your home little dude’ I said to him. He fell asleep on my chest and I fell asleep soon after. As the classic song goes… what a difference 4 and half days makes.

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Annnnd… RELAX!

Nuggets of Knowledge:
• Read about inductions. I didn’t and I really should have. Over 25% of births are induced artificially in the UK and I really didn’t know enough about it. For example I didn’t know that with an induction you are likely to have a more complicated labour, you’re more likely to require assistance (i.e. forceps or ventouse), labour is A LOT more painful and therefore you’re more likely to require an epidural and in some cases you’re more likely to require a c-section. Education is key.

• If you want/need the drugs, take the god damn drugs! Some people have less painful births (and/or have higher pain thresholds) and can birth with just gas and air. If you need more, take more. It’s there to be used. They wouldn’t be offering it to you if it could harm you our your baby. Stop being a martyr and accept the help.

• Your cervix is a bad ass sassy bi’atch who does what she wants, when she wants. So if you’re thinking you dilate and that’s that, you’re wrong. She can close back up again quicker than a Venus fly trap. You’ve been warned.

• Don’t ever feel like you could have done better. You’ve already been an absolute machine! So what if you need a quick kip before parenting begins, so what if you handed your baby away 10 seconds after being given him to be sick in a bowl. This isn’t the stuff they’ll remember. They remember you turning up to every school play and standing on the edge of football fields on a freezing February morning. Do what you need to do to feel more ‘you’ again and the rest will be easier.

• ALWAYS REMEMBER – two people made this baby so two people look after it. You’ve just been through chaos, let your husband/partner/boyfriend take over for a bit. You’ve done a lot and you need to allow yourself time to recover.

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As we drove to the hospital I kept thinking about all the last times I’d do something alone. That was the last time I’d leave the house not being a Mum, this was the last time I would be in a car not being a Mum, it was all very surreal. We arrived at the hospital and I said to Michael to just come and get the bags later as we didn’t know where we were going and I’ve heard this part is a bit of a waiting game so he’d probably appreciate the journey back to the car. The amount of stuff in that car was a joke. It was honestly like we were going on a 2 week vacay. My case was a rather sizeable cabin bag full of several change of clothes, nighties, breast pads, loads of toiletries and hairdryer, straighteners and make up which I DID use. Then there was the changing bag full of the baby’s bits, clothes, bottles etc, Michael had his own rucksack with a change of clothes, pillow headphones etc. Then there was our mammoth bag of snacks! We walked in and told the receptionist I was here for my induction. I was ushered to a lovely private room overlooking the fields, comfy bed, TV, birthing ball and a huge bathroom! I got on the bed and soon after my blood pressure was taken and I was given a menu and to choose what I’d like for lunch. As it was a Sunday I went for the chicken roast. Michael wasn’t allowed any free food so he headed down to the canteen and had a jacket potato. My chicken was actually OK. Like, it was never gonna blow my socks off but some people will have you believe the NHS provide you with gruel and a glass of tap water but it honestly was pretty nice.

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That day was the Russian Grand Prix and Chelsea were also playing Everton around an hour later. Michael made me a nice little set up of the F1 on the tele and Chelsea on the iPad before he disappeared for lunch. My lunch arrived and life was close to perfect. I had food, I had a drink (albeit soft), the F1 was on and Chelsea soon went 1-0 up. All of this would have been much more pleasant had I not had to increase the volume to drown out the woman screaming in pain up the corridor. How dramatic was she being! It can’t hurt that much – can it?

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Michael returned, my plate was taken away and at around 2pm it was time for my induction. The midwife had a little rummage and popped a really cold gel on the inside of my vag. That was it. Game over. No issues here – so far, so good. She explained what the gel was doing and that my contractions could start as quickly as in 15 minutes time but anything up to 8 hours! The first hour went by – nothing. So did the second and so did the third. At around 6pm I felt what I could only describe as a mild period pain. Within 10 minutes it was a strong period pain and within 15 minutes I was on the floor, in the foetal position, requesting that Michael fetch a midwife as this pain was now obscene. FYI – it wasn’t obscene. Had I known what was to come I’d have happily had that pain from now until the end of time but like I say, naivety innit. The midwife came in, looked at me like ‘get up you absolute helmet, you ain’t seen nothing yet, I’ll get you some paracetamol’. I pride myself on not making a fuss about stuff but Christ, did this hurt. She popped on the blue/pink tummy band thingy’s that were monitoring the baby’s heartbeat and as that was as regular as ever she left me to dilate and contract some more at my leisure. After another 30 minutes or so I was in agony. I pressed the button for one of the midwifes to come back and a new midwife came in, she looked at the heartbeat monitoring screen and immediately pushed some emergency red button above my bed! The next 5 minutes are an actual blur. To Michael and I. All I recall is at least 8 (Michael thinks there may have been more but we lost count) doctors, nurses, midwifes, cleaners, chefs, I don’t know, rushed in and were all over me and my bump. All talking very loudly, very technically and worst of all they were rushing. I didn’t know what was happening, nor did I ask but then as quick as the chaos started, it ended. One of my straps had come loose and it was no longer on the baby’s heartbeat. Once they’d re-secured it was clear that the heartbeat was fine and I do believe the midwife that pressed the emergency button got quite the telling off. Nether the less, although she put me in the absolute depths of fear for 30 seconds, she actually done me a favour. Because of what had happened and the OTT noises coming from me along with the ‘emergency’ situation I was examined and told I was at 7cm. Err… yeah I am bitch. I haven’t even had any gas and air yet – I AM A LEGEND AMONGST THE BIRTHING COMMUNITY! They decided to take me through to the delivery suite because I’d gone from 0cm to 7cm in just over 2 hours so they assumed I was going to give birth pretty livo. I was fine with that but wait – where’s all my stuff! They wheeled me off to the delivery suite and Michael ran to the car. No lie, he was back in seconds it was quite impressive.

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Once I was in the delivery suite I actually though the world was going to end. I was handed the gas and air which I don’t think I released my grip on for hours and I do believe the mouth piece had to be replaced due to me biting through the first one. How pleasant. We arrived in the delivery suite at around 8:30pm and I was in pain like I never knew pain existed. My contractions (I was later told, I couldn’t count at this point, I could barely exist) were lasting 40 seconds and were every 2 minutes. They called it ‘5 in 10’. I assume 5 contractions in 10 minutes? Who knows, but these were fucking hard. I remember a conversation going on between the midwives at the foot of my bed. One of them said ‘5 in 10 is a lot for an induction’ and the other just nodded and looked at my clipboard. I didn’t even have the strength to comment as I knew I had about 90 seconds to be grateful of this semi-pain free time before the chaos would ensue again. It was the next contraction that I distinctly remember my body ‘pushing’. I wasn’t doing it. I had zero control and then Glenda, my midwife (the single greatest woman known to man – ever) said ‘do you feel like you need to push love?’ I nodded as I bit on my gas and air mouthpiece and it was at this point she called a doctor. The doctor came in and he went ‘in’. His arm came out redder than post box. Worst bit – he was the fit doctor I’d been chatting too earlier in reception. Fantastic. He confirmed I was only 8cm so couldn’t start pushing yet and the idea of an epidural to slow down my dilation and ease the contractions was suggested. If I could have jumped off that bed, found the anaesthetist and administered that drug myself, I would have done so there and then. I remember begging at this point to have the epidural right now. The midwife explained that there was no anaesthetist available but I was next in line. Michael then overheard a conversation near the door about getting me one as a matter of urgency so they really did have my best interest at heart. The next minute The Messiah/anaesthetist entered and he was carrying drugs. He explained how it would work and how it would hurt going into the spine and all I could think was ‘it can’t be any worse than what pain I’m in so you just pop that bad boy in and stop talking mate’. He then explained how I had to be 100% still for this to be administered correctly. Any slight movement from me could mean it would go in wrong and could cause further complications. By this point I was having 70 second gaps in-between contractions. He said it took about 45 seconds to administer fully so we had 25 seconds of time to play with. I sat on the side of the bed and hugged a pillow. Michael was holding me from the front and Glenda from the side. I had my gas and air still in my mouth and he waited for me to give him a thumbs up to say the contraction had past and I was ok for him to start. The contraction came. I think I chipped a tooth biting on the mouthpiece. Michael gripped me so hard I had finger marks on my arms. Then I gave the thumbs up. The needle went in and I felt this cold, sharp liquid just ooze down my spine. I had a couple more bad contraction’s and then the third was a little less severe, then the fourth was even better, the fifth was back to period pains and the sixth – was gone. I could not believe the pain had gone. I cried and cried and cried. I hadn’t cried once in this entire charade as I was trying to stay mind over matter and be strong but the relief of pain was so overwhelming I couldn’t stop. I properly introduced myself to Glenda and she got us a cup of tea. I apologised profusely to her and the anaesthetist for being such a drama queen and she said she’s had a lot worse people so all was OK. Thank god, how embarrassing! She examined me again and I was still 8cm. It was 10pm at night. I asked Michael to go and call my parents and friends as my phone was going mental but I didn’t have the energy to speak to anyone. By the time he returned to the room, I was asleep. I woke up about 1am Monday morning. Glenda was by my side and as soon as I woke she asked if I wanted a drink. She got my Lucozade from my bag and we shared my pack of fruit pastels whilst Michael slept in the chair the other side. We chatted about baby stuff and she examined me again. I was 7cm!! WHAT THE HELL!? I wasn’t even open for business yet and its closing up! What is up with my vag? She said it was common and not to worry. She said let’s give it another 2 hours and she’d check again. By this point Michael was shattered and kept waking trying to sleep in a tiny chair. I told him to go and get some kip in the car. Glenda took his number so if something happened and I was unable to call she could call him. I then went back to sleep. It was 3:30am when I next woke and she examined me again. I’d gone down to 6cm. I was furious with my cervix by this point. She kept telling me it’s a really common side effect of an epidural and that the baby’s heartbeat (and mine) were both fine. Michael came back about 5am. I was examined again. Still 6cm. This was a joke.

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At 7am Glenda’s shift finished and I was panicking big time. She’d been there with me since I was brought into the delivery suite and now she was going home. I seriously considered offering her money to stay but she informed me that everything would be fine and that all the midwives were lovely. Around 10 minutes later my new midwife arrived and she honestly seemed just as lovely. They did a handover of my notes and current status across my bed for about 20 minutes and said for me to intervene at any time. A couple of times I corrected them on times, amounts etc… but all in all they had it sorted. Glenda bid me farewell and wished us both well and at 7:30am she was gone. My new midwife Anna was an incredible woman. We chatted for ages about her time being a midwife in the amazon and all the strange places she’d delivered babies around the world. It really took my mind off the fact that I’d lost 2cm of dilation over the past 12 hours and how angry I was at my cervix at that point. At 9am she checked again, still 6cm. She called a doctor in, Doctor Psy (pronounced Si). Obvs I’m expecting the gang nam style guy to bounce in but alas this was not to be. He asked politely if he’d mind him examining me. Why the hell not! Everyone else on the bleeding payroll has been up there mate, what’s one more arm between friends?

He then said something that for some reason made me breathe the biggest ‘psy’ of relief. Ahh again with the puns. He turned to Anna and said ‘give it another 2 hours, if she’s not gone any further, we’ll have to go to caesarean section’. He looked at me and said ‘is that ok with you?’ I said something along the lines of ‘you can do it now if you like, don’t wait the additional 2 hours on my part’. He confirmed it was best to wait and also there was no space in theatre at that moment. He removed said arm and went on his merry way. Michael then made all the necessary phone calls again to keep everyone in the know and the next 2 hours really dragged. More so than all of the other hours in this hospital put together. From the waist down I was completely numb. I was exhausted, tired, uncomfortable and now just willing it all to be over. Although I wasn’t in any pain as such I was just fed up. I had a catheter in, a clip on the baby’s head monitoring his heartbeat, the epidural in my spine, a saline drip in one hand, a hormone drip in the other, a blood pressure sleeve on and a clip on my left forefinger. I’d had enough. I looked like I was being experimented on and I just wanted to feel more like Steph. Doctor Psy came back at 11:30, arm went back in and I’d actually gone down to 5.5cm. This actually pleased me no end as I knew now they’d have to intervene. He came out, took his glove off and said ‘Right Stephanie. We’re going to go to theatre. We have a few forms for you to sign and we need to get you changed first. Any questions?’ I asked if I could keep my nightie on as I really didn’t want to wear a rank hospital gown and he laughed and said he didn’t see that to be a problem. I signed the forms which basically said ‘if we kill anyone, your ish babes, not ours’ which I kinda expected and within minutes I had my surgical socks on and we were ready to go and meet our son.

Exactly one week before my last day at work, we exchanged contracts! Hurrah! The completion date we’d been given was the following Wednesday, the day before my last day at work. That was going to be one busy week. We spent the next few days frantically packing everything we owned into cardboard boxes and labelling everything up with where it should be left in the new house. We decided not to bother with removals as we lived in 2 bed flat. We were leaving our wardrobes and our mattress had seen better days so we ordered a new one to arrive in the evening of moving day at the new place. All our big appliances, washing machine, tumble dryer etc. were integrated so other than our fridge and sofa, everything else could either be dismantled, binned or would fit in boxes. We hired a huge Mercedes Sprinter for two days and called in help from my Dad and step-Mum, Sue for the day. The plan was Dad and Michael would move all the big items, Sue would clean (she’s more of a clean freak than me, which was perfect) and I would do things like make beds, make tea and lug around my 38 week old bump. What could possibly go wrong?!

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Moving day arrived and we were up at 7am ready to go! Dad and Sue arrived shortly after and began loading the van. Initially we thought our stuff would be rattling around in there but it soon became apparent that we owned more than we thought. We sort of, kinda, forgot we had a loft until the night before! Duh! So once all the Christmas stuff, camping gear and DIY gubbins were down things were getting very tight. The van was filled and the flat was not empty. We then started loading Dad’s truck. The truck was filled and the flat was still not empty. We then moved on to filling Michael’s car and then mine and with things balanced on my shoulder for the 4.6 mile journey the final door was closed. Michael and I went back in alone and sat on the floor of the lounge for a few minutes for the last time in our first home together. We’d been there for five years and it was so strange that we were about to leave and never come back. We bought this flat having only been together for nine months. People’s opinions of ‘wow that’s soon’ were obvs the least welcomed of opinions because when you know, you know. We both said we remembered sitting on this same floor during the time when we were buying the flat. We bought it new and it was finished a couple of weeks before we were able to get the keys however the lovely sales assistants at Taylor Wimpey said that anytime we wanted to measure up for furniture or just sit in our new home for an hour, we could pop along at pick up the keys – and we did exactly that. Our bedroom looked like square main had just been murdered with the amount of tape on the floor marking out where each item would go and here we were over five years later with most of that furniture either on the van or at the tip whilst we sat in our empty flat thinking of all the amazing memories we’d created here. It was in this flat that we’d held so many incredible parties. It was in this flat we’d had 12(!) for Christmas dinner one year. It was in this flat our beloved Colin (our house rabbit) had spent two years but sadly died a year earlier. It was in this flat that we opened all of our amazing baby shower presents. It was in this flat I told Michael he was going to be a Dad. It was sad to be leaving but so exciting to start our new adventure – this time with a garden!

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Just before we left our first home

We bid the flat farewell in convoy. Michael driving the van, Sue driving Dad’s truck, Dad driving Michael’s car and Me driving mine. Working out who was insured on what and under what capacity took longer to work out than loading the bloody van! We were good to go by 11am and as the transaction wouldn’t take place until at least midday we took Dad and Sue for brunch to thank them for their troubles. After a lovely breakfast, several cups of tea and many a phone call to the solicitors, we’d completed and could go and collect the keys! We jumped back in our convoy of vehicles and we were headed to the new pad! Dad hadn’t seen the house, only pictures so I was interested to see what they thought. They both loved it and loved the road and could see exactly why we’d gone for this one. As we pulled up with these four massive beast vehicles we brought our new quiet cul-de-sac to an abrupt halt as we jumped out and gathered on the front lawn. Soon after, the neighbours were all coming out to greet us and bring us drinks, they’d noticed I was pregnant and asked if I needed anything. They were all such a lovely bunch and it made us realise our move was a good one.

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Dad and Sue started unloading whilst we went in alone to have a look around our new family home. The previous owners had left us a lovely note with a few instructions about things and wishing us well on our next adventure. Such a nice touch. Then the chaos began. Kitchen boxes were in the dining room, spare room boxes were in the downstairs loo and I was seriously losing my shit. It was a mixture of tiredness, exhaustion, swollen ankles and an inability to do anything but carry pillows. I just wanted a perfect family home for our little one who could be here any minute now but all I could do was walk around and notice things I hadn’t noticed on our two previous viewings. Once their furniture was out more problems became apparent. The walls were not as smooth as they seemed. Some of the skirting boards were cracked, some of the doors didn’t shut and I was starting to think we’d bitten off more than we could chew. Michael, my Dad and Sue were absolute diamonds that day. I couldn’t do much but point and boil kettles but they worked like Trojans and slowly but surely our home was coming together.

That night when we went to bed I remember panicking that we hadn’t unpacked any boxes and I had nothing to wear to work the next day – my final day! I rummaged around for a good hour and found some skinny jeans, a grey maternity t-shirt and heels. Not the best outfit for my last day and maternity drinks but by this point I didn’t even care. My head hit the pillow and in what felt like seconds, my alarm went off. Michael was off that day as it was the day before Good Friday anyway so to get some bits done ahead of the long Easter weekend he stayed home to get started. He took delivery of our new washing machine, unpacked some boxes, stripped all of the wallpaper and got the carpet up in the nursery ready for the plasterer that was scheduled for two days’ time! I was determined to get that nursery finished if we worked every day until he was here, even if the rest of the house was a bit of a dump.

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This was the rightmove picture of the nursery. As we were having a boy we knew we had to act fast!

My last day at work was lovely. As usual my colleagues had gone the extra mile and bought me and bump so many lovely gifts. We went for a farewell lunch and for the afternoon I pretty much just chilled out and went round and said my goodbyes. By 4pm we were in the pub. I couldn’t believe my turnout! Either I had amassed quite an array of friends in my time there or they were just making sure I’d definitely go, probably the latter. Michael turned up later on in the evening which was a good job really as I’d have struggled to get all of my presents on the train alone. We left about 10pm and I remember leaving with such mixed emotions. On one hand I was like ‘WAHOOOO A YEAR OFF’ but on the other hand I was really sad. I love my job, I love coming up to Canary Wharf every day, I had the best colleagues and I didn’t know what the future held. Would I be that person that says they’ll be back and then can’t bear to leave their child so quits? Would I go back but be offered a different position (as I was on secondment to another division when I left) that I wouldn’t like? I honestly didn’t know if I was leaving that night for 12 months or for good.

We got in just before midnight and it did not look like the same house that I left that morning. I was so happy I actually cried. Michael had hung all our photos, the kitchen tops had all my appliances out, the bed was made, my toothbrush was in the bathroom and it was starting to take shape. He’d worked his socks off that day and didn’t tell me all night. He let me enjoy my last evening with my friends and instead of me coming home to cardboard chaos it was sort of looking like this could now be our home. He is the very best.

That Saturday was manic. We had the plasterer in the bedroom with my Mum’s boyfriend who was pretty much rewiring the entire room around him. Michael was toing and froing to the tip all day (it was at this point we decided to get a skip), my Mum and I were creosoting the fences in the garden and my brother was jet washing everything in sight. It was chaos but I look back on that day so fondly as everyone really pulled together for us as they knew how important it was to me to have that room finished and we were really on a tight deadline.

The following few days went a little like this:

Sunday – Michael’s Dad came round to put the coving up in the nursery.

Monday – Michael gave the ceiling a coat of paint in the morning and coat a night.

Tuesday – Michael gave the walls a coat of grey in the morning, went to work and did a coat when he got in that night.

Wednesday – My Dad came over and fit all new skirting boards and architrave in the nursery and I laid on the floor and glossed said skirting as he went.

Thursday – I did a second coat on the skirting and glossed the windowsill and architrave round the door.

Friday – Michael fitted all the new chrome sockets and switches.

Saturday – at 2:00 in the morning my waters broke.

Saturday – at 3:00 we were at the hospital being examined and I was told I was in early labour. He wasn’t due for another week!

Saturday – at 4:00 they told me I could go home and wait for contractions to begin but I had to stay at the hospital and wait for my blood pressure to go down as it was dangerously high. Of course it was bloody high I’m about to have a baby and the nursery doesn’t have a carpet yet!

Saturday – at 7:00 they let us go home.

Saturday – at 7:50 we arrived home.

Saturday – at 8:00 the carpet fitter turned up. I was adamant we were not rescheduling that fitter!

The carpet fitter said I looked tired and I can’t have long to go. I told him I’d been awake since 2am and that I was in fact in early labour. He nervously laughed, necked his tea, fit that carpet in record timing and was gone quick as a flash. I don’t know if he thought he was going to be roped in to help with the birth or something but he did not look comfortable.

Once he’d left we called our parents to let them know he was on his way but nothing was happening so we were going back to bed for a few hours. I assumed the contractions would wake me up!? We woke around 1pm and started building all the nursery furniture. Michael did the cot and wardrobe and I did the changing table. I was very conscious that we were on a very new, very expensive, very light fluffy carpet and I’d heard about this ‘you have two lots of water’ shenanigans but I figured it would be covered in sick and faeces soon so I just cracked on. We put up his blind, unpacked his clothes, hung them in the wardrobe, made up his bed and filled his toy box. It was so lovely to see it all finished, even if it we were cutting it a bit fine.

That night we ordered a take away and watched the Anthony Joshua fight. We went to bed around 11pm and with no contractions still I set my alarm for 7am. I was told when we left the hospital that if my contractions not started naturally, I’d be induced at 8am the next day. I’d read absolutely nothing about inductions and all about natural labour but as I was shattered and it was now less than 10 hours away I thought what you don’t know can’t hurt you so I finished packing my bag and got my nut down. The alarm went off at 7am, we got up, had a bit of breakfast, packed the last few bits and we left our still very new home to meet our even newer little boy.

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What a difference a week makes

 

Nuggets of Knowledge:

·         You own more than you think you do. We were lucky that we had a massive sprinter, my Dad’s pretty big truck and Michael had an estate. Had we just had the van and a smaller car I honestly don’t know what we’d have done. As much as my Dad and Sue were a god-send that day I’d defo hire removals next time. They do it every day and it just takes a little of the stress away from an already stressful day.

·         When you leave a house that you’ve lived in for a while just spend 5 minutes at the end sitting on the floor and think about all the funny, sad, memorable events that those walls have seen. I’m really glad we did that.

·         When viewing a house, really look at it. Look at the ceilings, look for cracks, shut the doors, shut the windows because what you think can be sorted with a lick of paint can end up costing thousands. We learnt the hard way.

·         Don’t say to a midwife who is taking your blood pressure ‘has it gone down yet only I’m having a carpet fitted in an hour and I really need to get back’. They have no time for your carpet.

·         If, like me, you’re being induced, really enjoy that last night at home as just the two of you. Most people don’t have the luxury of knowing when their last night as a two will be as it’s a waiting game one minute and then bam! Waters everywhere and contractions are in full flow. I counted us incredibly lucky that we didn’t have the mad dash to the hospital and actually enjoyed our last day together alone. From that morning on, it was never going to be just us again.

As January arrived the whole ‘I’m having a baby’ thing seemed even more real. I was having a baby THIS YEAR. In a little over 4 months (or less, who can tell) we would have another actual real life human living in our house. Although having said that, we didn’t actually have a house at this point. As with any house move there was umpteen problems with solicitors, outstanding paperwork, the land registry, you name it – there was an issue with it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say ‘I moved house, it was a breeze’. How in this day and age is moving house still the most time consuming and stressful activity known to man? We’d done everything we could, our buyer was ready to go, the people in our new home were moving to a new build that was finished so how this process took 6 months to complete, I’ll never know. We had no choice but to become a nuisance to our solicitors and estate agent but ultimately leave it to the powers that be and just hope we’d be in before the baby arrived.

In the February when I was 29 weeks gone we decided pretty last minute to go on one last holiday before the baby and the house move. We wanted sun but with my expanding waistline and inability to go more than 11 minutes between urinating we didn’t want to travel far. So we decided on Marrakech. I had my fit to fly letter from the midwife, which annoyingly I wasn’t asked for, packed up the cases and off we went. I was so looking forward to a few days of not getting on the tube, not wearing a massive scarf because my coat no longer did up, not talking to our estate agent but most importantly, snoozing in the sunshine. We touched down and the smell of sun just hit me. I was so happy. The hotel was lovely and there was palm trees everywhere. Before lunchtime I was already in my swimsuit eyeing up the mocktail and pizza menu and for the first time since finding out I was pregnant I felt so relaxed. I wasn’t reading pram reviews, I wasn’t checking future roadworks on the A228 that would scupper our hospital rush (I only did that like 347 times) and although I couldn’t drink, man did that barman make a good mocktail. That evening Michael had said he’d done some research on restaurants in the local area and sourced that evening’s eatery. I was stunned. He was not the planner or organiser in this relationship but I was tired from the early flight and growing human so I didn’t think too much of it. Then just as I was spritzing the perfume and having a last minute mirror check, I turned round and he was on the floor on one knee holding out the most beautiful engagement ring I’d ever seen. I was so shocked, I didn’t say anything, I just laughed. He then asked the inevitable, I said yes, he stopped shaking, it fit and all was good with the world. Most people won’t believe that I was shocked and that it was the most unexpected thing ever but it really was. We’d been together 6 years. We had friends that had met after us and were already married with children by this point but I honestly didn’t have a clue. I had an inkling that he may have proposed on other holidays or birthdays but not this one. We were about to become parents! I didn’t have time to plan a wedding too! We then headed to the restaurant (he knows I’d have died of embarrassment being proposed to in public which is why he did it just the two of us) and we had the most incredible meal. The table was full of lots of Moroccan delicacies, there were belly dancers and snake charmers and after the meal we rung our parents. They were so thrilled for us. A grandchild and a new Son/Daughter-in-law and it was only February, what a year this was turning out to be!

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That trip was epic and not just because of the proposal. It really was a holiday to remember. There was no crazy late nights, no hangovers, no early mornings pick-ups for tours just us two, chilling round a pool, eating everything in sight, exploring the beautiful city of Marrakech whilst doing so dragging around my huge belly and my huge diamond!

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Upon our return to the UK we were inundated with cards, gifts, surprises and well wishes on our engagement. It was so lovely. I’d just made the classic ‘we’re having a baby’ announcement on Facebook and now I had to make one for the impending nuptials! My Instagram had never seen so many likes! Our first card to arrive was from one of my besties in Australia, Jenny. She’d left us all high and dry to embark in life down under 3 months before and we all missed her terribly. So for her to get the first card in was pretty impressive. FYI, Jen couldn’t cope with life without me so came back to the UK for good in July. Was it her family? Her other friends? Her newborn Niece…? Nah. She came back for me. Anyway, on that Monday after Marrakech I’ve walked into the office to find my desk covered in heart shaped chocolates, a card from all my colleagues, confetti, joke guide books on how to be a good wife/husband and a huge ‘YOU’RE ENGAGED’ balloon attached to my chair. They knew exactly how to embarrass me. The next few weeks that followed were filled with all my lovely friends and family bringing wedding bits, magazines, framed photos of us and for a small moment I forgot I was even pregnant! We viewed a few venues when we got back to try and give us an idea of the kind of wedding we would want but I’m writing this 15 months later and we still have no idea.

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At about 34 weeks and after the chaos of babymoons, engagements and wedding planning it was time for the day every preggo bird longs for… it was… My Baby Shower! And what an incredible day it was. I had no idea where I was going. I was just told to be ready for 1:30 and Michael would drive me there. My friends really had gone the extra mile on this one. There was a huge balloon wall, confetti balloons, personalised biscuits, the most amazing cake, nappy cakes, incredible food but most importantly it was a room filled with all my favourite girls (and my 6 month old nephew, Oscar). After the shower we sat in the bar downstairs with all our friends and headed home early evening. I remember getting in and it taking a good 5 trips to the car to bring all of our gifts in. I felt incredibly lucky. We ordered a dominoes, sat on the floor and opened presents for near on 2 hours! It was like Christmas day all over again. I made Michael make a note of who bought what for thank you cards but truth be told I remember every gift and who bought what to this day.


I’ve always known that I have the best friends and family a girl could ask for but over those past 6 months they really all showed me how special I was to them and I’ll always be grateful to them for that. My engagement surprises were all so thoughtful and my baby shower was amazing. These girls have seen me rolling up my school skirt to the nth degree, seen me neck so many Bacardi breezers I vommed through my nose, picked me up when I was down and made me laugh more times than I could care to mention. So to be there with them celebrating my engagement and having them put on the most lovely baby shower for me was more than I could ever have hoped for.

 Nuggets of Knowledge:

·         If you get the chance and have the money, you must go on a babymoon. As I’ve explained it was perfect. We always look back on those pictures fondly as I cart my massive gut round Marrakech sipping on a smoothie. It really allowed us to just step away from the hustle and bustle of real life for a few days to reconnect and be just us two for the last time. The diamond was just a massive bonus.

·         Unless you have a photographic memory like moi, I would recommend the notebook when opening gifts. Otherwise you could be thanking your Auntie June for a babygrow when she actually turned up with a hooded towel.

·         If you’re 13 and reading this, don’t roll your school skirt up. You look a dick.

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