Super Surprise Shower!

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As a lot of my recent posts will tell you, ‘A Bumpy Ride,’ is certainly an apt title for our pregnancy journey, and in recent weeks it was a very real possibility that our slightly underdeveloped little one was determined to have things their way and come into the world earlier than ideal. This was obviously of slight concern but the staff at the hospital were fabulous and at no point did we feel that things weren’t completely in hand. (As a side note I have to say that this is 90% down to the wonderful midwives who were constantly calm, cheerful and soothing as well as explaining things to us very clearly.)

Anyway, for my Mum, an additional concern was that she would miss the birth of her first Grandchild as she was due to fly out to Greece for a week between week 37 and 38. A holiday that I am duty bound to point out that was booked before we even knew our little one was on her way.

As it has been a rather hectic and emotional last few months, although at the much more energetic beginning of the pregnancy, ideas of brightly coloured baby showers and all of those things were at the forefront of my mind; to be totally honest, by the third trimester, I didn’t have the time, the energy or the inclination to do one. It seemed organising one when I was having to cancel coffee dates left, right and centre would an unnecessary and unreliable event to be planned.

Luckily for me, my Mum knows me better than I know myself some times and one of her strongest traits is thoughtfulness. With the irregularly kept timetable and wavering levels of energy etc, getting my family from Brighton, Manchester, London, Bristol and other places was not only not fair on them if she had to cancel but also not really worth it for what would only be a few hours one evening; she stuck to a few locally based family members. Inviting them to her house on a Thursday evening, within two or three days, she not only got together a few of the family, but also transformed her lounge into a baby shower wonderland! Balloons, pink cupcakes, decorations, games, a buffet which everyone brought a little something along to add to, when I walked in, it took everything I had not to burst into tears!

Mum had managed to organise a low key event that still made me feel fantastically special and relaxed and it was so nice to sit and chat with everyone about the baby without it being based around phrases like ‘bicornuate uterus,’ or discussing how the epilepsy medication would affect the c-section options etc etc. Instead we cooed and ahh-ed over teeny tiny baby gro’s and other thoughtful gifts that people had brought. Mum had even, in the time she had ordered a beautiful nappy cake, something I’d heard of before but didn’t really know what it entailed!

My lovely family collective!

My lovely family collective!

By 10pm I was really tired and we never got round to playing the games but it had been such a lovely evening taking some chilled time with family that I felt really relaxed and it did me the absolute world of good! I’m so grateful that Mum organised the evening and put so much work into making it just what I needed. Her first Granddaughter was so grateful, she even promises to stay put until Nana’s come back home from Greece!

Since the baby shower we’ve had another hospital stay (all fine) so this post is slightly belated than I meant it to be, and at the time of typing Mum is due home in two days and I’m really thrilled that that’s the case.

We really don’t have very long to go now, and are on almost daily monitoring and it’s exhausting but we are becoming more and more excited despite it being difficult.

It made me even more thankful to be so close to my family and friends at this time, sometimes, even for those of us used to being the ones doing the organising or doing the sorting of things – sometimes, we need to just let other people do what we don’t realise is for the best! If I’d have been asked about a baby shower, I would’ve have said “oh Christ no, I’ve got no time, I’ve got no energy and it’s frankly the last thing I need to be sorting out at the moment.” But luckily for me, Mother proves she knows best!

So thank you Mum, for a wonderful evening.

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Baby’s Boss Application Attempt…

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It’s been quite an eventful pregnancy and our little one is determined to keep that up right till the end. In fact this week, she attempted to close the gap till to the end…sneaky baby! Dramatic and precocious just like her Mother!

I can almost hear her saying, “THEY’LL give ME an arrival date..? I don’t bloody think so, I’ll come when I please!”

The quick version of the last couple of days is that all is fine, there was a brief escape attempt that was appeased, and as we’re so near the end, we’re having a really little stay in Gloucester to ensure all is ok, which it is. And frankly a mix of injections, epilepsy meds and codeine has made my part of events relatively non sensical and in a rare ‘down from the kite I’ve obviously been flying from’ moment, I jotted down the following words, my apologies for inevitable mistakes…

Much love to you all dear friends xx

“As we kissed her big strong Daddy goodbye,
I felt a new strength I had without try,
I saw in his eyes it hurt him to leave,
As he subtly wiped his eye on his sleeve.

The monitors around do their song and dance,
Any anomaly signalled with barely a glance,
Parenthood starts way beyond day of birth,
Instinctively new family becomes guarded turf.

I fall in love with my husband again and again,
My comfort, my love, my joy and my friend,
The comraderie at midnight as we packed up to go,
A mutual understanding we felt without show.

Our baby tries best to join us so soon,
We tell her ‘not now, hold on a few moons,’
So excited to meet her but only when right,
But we’ll do what we can if she arrives here this night.

It should still be a week before two becomes three,
For now it’s still safest she stays part of me,
White coats rush around, keeping on a tired smile,
They do their best to keep her safe all the while.

Mummy and baby, looked after so well,
But the greatest protector, is Daddy we tell.
Stays by our side as long as he’s allowed,
Keeps both of us smiling, both of us proud.

Injections don’t hurt as much with him by our side,
Scans not so frightening, needles don’t seem so wide!
So whilst this all goes on, we are proved as a three,
We’re going to be just fine, baby, Daddy and me.”

Dear diary, I surrender…

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Soon you’ll see just how much I’m not joking but first a bit of background! I’m one of the thousands of Brits who suffer from hayfever but sadly during pregnancy, antihistamines are out of bounds, there is one nose spray available but I’ve found it’s made little difference apart from making my nose bleed inside. I have between 1-3 weeks left of the pregnancy but due to a smaller than normal uterus, poor baby is trying to grow with not enough room and my tummy is quite painfully stretching which means sleep is very difficult, made even more so because of the current hot UK weather, which I’m sure many people are thrilled with so I’ll try my best not to whine about it! I’ve been back on epilepsy medication for a couple of weeks now so although it seems to be working well, I’ve been a bit dopey, drowsy with extra headaches and nausea. I won’t start also listing things like aching hips and swollen ankles because frankly, this post started very early on to sound incredibly whiny and it’s only going downhill!

Anyway, my point, because I’m sure I started with one in mind…! I’ve spoken a lot recently about how much I’ve been enjoying my third trimester, which is absolutely true. It’s been a blast, I’ve done quite a lot of my list including the below;

– day trip to Stratford
– learning French is in progress and both my husband and I are doing pretty well!
– stayed involved with a piece of theatre for a performance at Armed Forces day this Saturday
– afternoon tea out
– brunch out
– dinner out (there’s been quite a few occasions of eating out!)
– done a car boot sale (sounds like a bit of a strange entry but we’ve been meaning to do one for a while and it was surprisingly fun to indulge our inner Del Boys!)
– day trip to London
– weekend in Brighton (well Seaford..!)
– 2 rather big family party’s
– hosted a girls night in
– day out at a local food and drink festival
– afternoon out at the Cheltenham Lido
– a romantic day out to Oxford
– a group trip to Oxford to a board games cafe
– real quality time with family and friends
– helped my brother move house (again not a traditional bucket list item but fun despite being hectic all the same!)

As you can see, it’s been a busy couple of weeks! And from the outside, it looks like the end of the pregnancy has been an absolute breeze! And in general, the most important feelings have been positive and I will definitely look back on this time with a smile. However, it has definitely got to a point where it’s all getting a bit much and apart from a few trips to the pool, I will be very definitely slowing down and resting for the final stretch.

A few people have asked how I’ve had the energy and expressed in most cases just an admiring envy, but in some others, an expression that they feel in comparison, they’re not coping, which made me think of how we perceive even those we know well. On Facebook and social media, we all portray our best bits, it’s like an XFactor highlights reel. Nobody wants to just share how miserable they are, and quite rightly, why would you want to concentrate on the most miserable parts of your life?! I’m of course going to put up a picture of a group of us at a restaurant and not a picture of me slipping off to the toilet to vomit as subtly as I can…! In answer to the question, how have I had the energy? I haven’t really! I’ve repeatedly pushed myself a bit too far and suffered from it or been snappy and overtired! Do I regret it? No, I don’t have enough energy left to regret things!

But today, I have hit a wall, it’s all been a bit too much and a culmination of things have meant everything has got a bit too difficult and my body has taken over, rest is the order of at least the next few days! And although it’s very against my nature to dwell on the negative in life, I do think there’s also a necessary need to share when going through something like pregnancy. If we all pretend to be finding it easy, we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and each other to somehow grow a human whilst doing everything else in life with a unwavering smile! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had it slightly more difficult than I might have hoped in an ideal world but I don’t think I know anyone who lives in an ideal world and I’m fully aware that many women have had it far worse than I have! But it is all relative and today I have my white flag up. I’m a first time Mother and I am struggling. There I said it, it’s out there! I’m going to sit on the sofa with a cold flannel for my inflamed eyes, paracetamol for the pain (baby is breech-there’s not enough space for her to turn because of my uterus but she’s determined to try and is currently stuck sideways from the various protruding parts of my stomach!) rubbish TV on and the most I’m going to move is up to the bathroom perhaps for a bath!

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And as you can see…I wasn’t joking, this is what I look like today, this is the best I can look today…it’s not pretty but it is a part of the journey which is why you dear friends, get this insight (you lucky people…!)

So if anyone is struggling – with anything, and your Facebook news feed or Instagram homepage just make it seem like everyone else has a happier, more successful life than you; just remember you’re seeing their highlights and not their struggles. Life happens to all of us and often it’s wonderful, magical and full of opportunities, but it is also tough, draining and impossible to get on top of all of the time. White flag out, pyjamas on, today has definitely been one of this Mummy’s most difficult days.

Pops Day Poem…

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There will be quite a few years before our little one actually sorts out her own Fathers Day cards and gifts and we agreed that this year we wouldn’t do anything but I was doing some writing the other day and the below came from it. A very happy Fathers Day to all those out there! Especially to my own and my incredible husband who has proved to be a fantastic Daddy before we have even met our child.

“I know you haven’t met me yet,
But I love you just the same,
It’s not too long for you to wait,
I hope your excitement hasn’t waned.

You’re everything that Mummy dreamed,
You’re already my hero as well,
We have years ahead for adventures and fun,
Creating family stories to tell.

There’s wonder for us both for now,
I can’t wait to meet my Dad,
Whose colour hair will I inherit?
Which traits, whether good or bad?

Do you wonder what colour my eyes will be?
Your deep brown or Mummy’s blue,
One things for sure, they’ll be extra bright,
Everytime I look up at you.

Mummy hopes I’ll have your sense of joy,
And not her co-ordination,
And maybe a real mix of your brains,
A zest for life that could change a nation.

But I just hope to smile and laugh a lot,
Enjoy my days with you and Mum,
Join your co-conspirator team,
For endless years of fun.

It may have been a whirlwind year for sure,
But I for one am really glad,
I couldn’t be luckier for Mum to have picked,
You in the role as my Dad.”

Powerful Pansy…

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Just a quick one today. I had a whooping cough vaccine, there was a 30 minute wait in the GP surgery but I never really mind that – if I’m waiting, I’m obviously not urgent and that can only be good news.

ANYWAY, I am a wimp but the vaccine is for the good of the baby so of course I was going to be brave, I’m gong to be a Mother, an amazon of strength, a pillar of support…

…and yet, when the nurse called my name, I grabbed hold of my husband dragging him in behind me as casually as I could achieve. And then as the nurse provided friendly chat and carried the teeny tiny needle towards me, I held my husbands hand…because, well, you know, I’m affectionate like that. But for some reason I could feel my nails digging into his hand more and more as the teeny tiny needle got closer and closer to me. Strange. The injection itself took less than 3 seconds, although apparently 3 seconds is enough time for me to let out a little squeaky yelp. Cotton wool put on top with a little bit of tape and I was done…no offer of a drink, a lie down or any kind of a badge or certificate awarded, that was it, I was finished. It took probably about 2 minutes and 40 seconds in total, alongside 30 minutes of the anxious waiting room wait, and an entire morning of dread…for 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

So yes, strong Amazonian Mother of steel…it might still need a bit of practise…

Baby Bucket List Bliss…

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Today you’ll have to excuse the slightly dizzy tone, I am somewhat floating on air for the first time in many weeks! I’ve spoken before about a list of things that my husband and I have wanted to do before the baby arrives. We’ve been quite successfully making our way through the ‘baby bucket list,’ and now we have been given the news that a c-section will be safer in our situation, we know that we now only have a few weeks left to finish it! Today was an extremely well received item! We went swimming. After ‘uhmming and ahhhing’ for the last month or so, I recently headed to Primark and bought a larger bikini for maternity use. I know it seems a rather banal thing to have spent a month deciding on but maternity costumes are really expensive and as swimming isn’t the cheapest of activities I wondered how many times I would realistically go. However as the strain on my hips and joints increased and the number of people recommending swimming in the latter stages of pregnancy also increased, I headed to Primark, picked up a size 16 bikini instead of my normal size 14 to accommodate my growing parts; and we headed to Cascades in Tewkesbury.

When I emerged from the changing rooms, I was suddenly hugely aware of my naked protruding stomach; not since being just moderately pregnant had I been to the pool and at that point, my swimming costume had had enough stretch to go over my belly. I retreated back into the changing room wondering what the hell I was doing exposing my huge body to the public. And then I realised that I was being a moron. I was a heavily pregnant woman and swimming could ease my joints and therefore relax me and therefore could only be good for baby. For all my babbling on about self belief and teaching my baby about confidence and her Mother was hiding in a changing room!! No no, this was not to be, I walked back out, head up high and smiled at everyone I walked past – which as I was still a bit nervous and people in the UK don’t generally just go round smiling at everyone probably came across more creepy than confident but sod it I was going for it!

My 'get a grip of yourself' selfie!

My ‘get a grip of yourself’ selfie!

After checking it was ok with the lifeguard, we headed to the learner pool so I didn’t get in the way of the actual swimmers in the main pool lanes. After all I was only there to bob about and do a few exercises that had long been impossible out of water. As I stepped into the water…OH…MY…GOD! I went from feeling 100 stone to 1 stone in an instant. The water enveloped me and bump and I lay back with glorious relief. I could feel every part of me relax and as my husband quite happily just pulled me about the place seemingly quite entertained by the image, we both enjoyed the following 20 minutes.

After that, it got even better…an announcement that was extremely exciting aged 9 (probably the last time either myself or my husband had been there) proved equally exciting aged 29, “the fun sections are now activated…” this meant the water slide was open, the water fountain was on, the bubbles were on and the waterfall started! Fun times were definitely activated! Admittedly, being 8 months pregnant meant that the majority of them were out of bounds for me but the gentle bubbles in the learner pool were even nicer on the muscles and careful placement underneath the waterfall was amazing on my shoulders. We stayed long enough that we suddenly realised that we had to get out as we’d only paid for two hours in the car park!

It was sad times to get out of that pool, the pressure of the weight came hurtling straight back to my muscles and my mind, it had been a lovely reprieve but inevitably had had to end! It had however, done me the world of good. And whilst there, we had the chance to just chat and talk about the impending few weeks without being forced to think about work emails or invoices or writing deadlines, the benefit of taking ourselves out somewhere took away that normal pressures of freelance working so it was a relaxing adventure for both of us!

I stood under the warm shower for quite some time and whilst there, a little boy of about 3 or 4 came in with his Mother and I triggered a conversation that had obviously not been wanted quite yet. It did, however make me smile so I thought I’d share it;

Little Boy, “Mummy, what’s wrong with that lady’s tummy?”

Mum, “don’t be rude Flynn, you don’t say that about people do you.”

(At this point I gave her the understanding nod and smile that said ‘I’m not offended by your child’s interpretation of my ‘deformed’ body!’)

LB, “but why does it look like that?”

M, “she has a baby in there.”

LB, “(a look of abject horror mixed with fear crossed his face) WHY?!”

M, “that’s where babies grow before they are born Flynn, all babies start in their Mummy’s tummy.”

(Now to perhaps my favourite bit of this exchange) LB, “but how do they get there?”

(a pause which told everyone in the communal shower room that this was not a moment she really fancied addressing in public made worse by the added attention we all had, ‘yes mummy,’ we were all thinking, ‘how are you going to answer this one?!’) M, “I’ll let your Daddy explain it to you in the car sweetheart.”

Part of me expected applause from the other Mums present in the changing rooms, I half expected to find a crowd by their car to watch the unsuspecting Dad get the question followed by the knowledge that Mummy had informed him that a Daddy would fill him in. Glorious moments of childhood innocence that, as parents, we can all expect to come across and deal with in our own awkward way!

The rest of my changing room experience went by uneventfully and apart from not buying a nice lolly on the way out, it was a perfect afternoon trip. My only regret (apart from not picking up one of those really refreshing lemonade lollies) was that I’d dithered for so long about whether to get a suitable swimming outfit. It was in hindsight one of the best £6 I’d ever spent and if the weather stays as nice as it has been, tomorrow afternoon we’re hoping to treat ourselves to a trip to the Lido (where they also sell ice lollies…!)

The end of the pregnancy is near and we’re thrilled and excited to meet our new arrival but these last few weeks have been so much fun; if you discount the uncomfortable nights of sleep, sporadic nausea, ligament, joint and general pain as well as a host of other third trimester delights…! It’s time I’ll cherish in my memory and will most likely be the moments we look back on when we decide to ride this ridiculous roller coaster again. The bucket list is nearly complete, as is the pregnancy and then the fun will really start to begin; and the sleepless nights…and the screaming baby…and the inability to make any plans…

…and the tenseness returns…back to the pool of tranquility!!

Crazy Train Catch Up…

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A couple of months ago, I blogged about some of the crazy ideas that kept me awake at night, and a friend recently asked if ‘baby brain had calmed down…’ HA! No my friend, there has definitely not been a decline in the madness. I have however felt much calmer in the last few weeks now that I know our baby could somewhat safely be born even if she was born at an early stage, it’s one fear that has abated and it’s meant that despite other things, I think I have enjoyed the third trimester more than the other two.

But when it comes to crazy, well, let me keep you, dear reader, also in the loop…!

1) I spoke before about my worry that my previously ‘inny’ belly button would pop out into an ‘outy’…well, I have kept a keen eye on it since and it is what can only be described as ‘dangerously level.’ No more do I have the cavernous space I have grown up with, it is worrying close to becoming positively protruding. Let me reiterate, there is nothing at all wrong with naturally outy belly buttoned people (‘outers’…?! Is there a word for that particular sector of society?! A secret handshake perhaps to identify with? Is there an entire belly button underground world I am yet to stumble upon?!) HOWEVER, I am used to mine the way it is and just don’t want to change camps at this stage of life. There are 4/5 weeks left of my pregnancy and the observation continues…

2) I also spoke before about my crazy fear that my baby would suddenly burst out, a la the scene in the film ‘Alien,’ and perhaps when I was reading the last blog post on the matter aloud, my baby heard me and has a tricksy sense of humour because since then she has kept her head towards the top and when moving about, tends to just stick her head out as if she is trying for a mistake. I have a bicornuate uterus (my uterus is separated in the middle so there is effectively a double chamber) which in turn means my poor little one has less space than normal. As she has grown, the space has become tighter so according to the medical professionals, the protruding head is quite normal and easy to explain rationally. I, however am a first time Mother with the flair for the dramatic so I have of course settled on my original diagnosis…alien-esque escape attempt!

3) Due to the unusual uterus, the fact that baby is breech and the additional fact that I am back on medication after my old friend epilepsy made a rather unwelcome but not totally unexpected return during pregnancy; I am going to be having a c-section. At first, I was very upset by the news, I wanted to give birth to my baby, not have somebody else remove her from me. After thinking that way for a ridiculous and rather petulant 15 minutes, I realised that with my circumstances, I am incredibly lucky to have conceived in the first place. Likewise, the health and safety of my baby is absolutely my priority and therefore if that means a c-section, that us exactly what will happen. Fear of a safe birth is hardly irrational, but once I’d got a bit more information, that’s not why this passage is included in my compendium of crazy. No, this particular entry is much more crazy than that…

…after a c-section, you are left with a scar across your lower tummy. I’m not a shallow girl and the aesthetic aspect of that doesn’t bother me at all. However I have had a dream that the familiar smile shape of the c-section incision (that usually make most women feel better about it) will take on some sinister character and my tummy will somehow become it’s own entity. Is this my fears of the operation manifesting itself in strange ways? I certainly hope so or else it might be time for a psychiatric assessment!!

4) There is a common fear for some Mothers that they won’t feel close to their baby or bond as they feel they should, this fear especially common for Mothers who have a c-section. My particular brand of fear is slightly different. What if my baby doesn’t bond with me?! What if on some as yet un-understood level, I am a disappointment to my newborn?! It may seem daft but I can feel that our baby is an absolute Daddies girl already, when we go and watch him teach a class or his voice rings out above others in a room or he comes home after a couple of days or more away with work, she gets really excited! Kicks a plenty, wriggling about, the absolute love she has for her Father is measurable. He has an incredibly cool job and is an incredibly talented writer, director, stage combat teacher and fight director so growing up, he was always going to be her hero but already her favourite..? Give me a chance! Saying that, he’s the obvious choice as favourite; he’s also my hero, and I have provided so far – a uterus with so little wriggle room, at her 34 week scans she had a foot up next to her face, quite a lot of crying, and she must hear me moaning about being in pain and think, ‘for crying out loud Mother, I’m trying to grow into a mini human in these conditions?!’ She also has two sets of incredibly doting Grandparents and although I wouldn’t tell them to their face (little brothers aren’t supposed to be given too many compliments by older siblings!) I know she will have so much fun with both her Uncles. And as crazy as it may seem, part of me worries that I’ll be desperate to bond with her and she’ll have no need for a clearly slightly unhinged Mother! I am more than happy not to be the favourite, in fact one thing I am especially excited to see is that special light in her eyes everytime she sees her Daddy because it’ll be the same light I have when I look at my husband. But I am hoping to be at least up there and that on her day of birth she doesn’t look up at me with an expression that says…’really…this woman?! Do I have any choice in this?’

5) If all things allow, I would like to breastfeed. I’ve been warned that when hearing a baby cry, my breasts will leak somewhat of their own accord and to therefore to stock up on breast pads! I know that it can get painful and there can be problems with blockages and other associated issues, but none of that keeps me up at night. The thoughts that live in my dreams is that I will, once home, start to breastfeed and then for some reason, it won’t stop, like a tap with no means to turn it off. I have a horrendous image of my husband coming home to find his wife and daughter in a foot of breast milk, tears from both whilst our belongings start to float around in the uncontrollable torrent. I know what you’re thinking, ‘what the hell has she been smoking?!’ I only wish I could tell you there’s something chemical behind these thoughts – there’s not, this is in fact what goes on in this brain with no prior prompting or man made substance help.

And the breast milk tsunami is perhaps an appropriate place to leave it for now comrades! We all need a break and it only gets stranger! Sadly I have been assured by several Mum friends that baby brain not only doesn’t get any better, but simply takes a firmer hold. Which is a shame because I used to be considered quite smart, a reputation I can probably kiss goodbye to. My only hope now is that I can avoid getting to the stage where I get some sandbags in the garage just in case…!

The best piece of advice I’ve received during pregnancy is just to go with it, relax as much as possible and let it all happen. I’ve been relatively rubbish at following this advice and have managed to worry at every corner and internally convince myself of the worst even when it outwardly even seems like quite the accomplishment to have found the negative! My compromise has been to keep good humoured about it. I have been a nightmare for my poor husband who has admirably and patiently let me rant on about how the lack of uterus space will probably mean our baby hates me as she’ll remember that cramped feeling for life! But I am aware that I’m being unreasonable, which at least is something, so a decent amount of ribbing is definitely called for!

A couple of months ago I wrote about feeling slightly crazy with worries that seemed unnecessary compared to the big things, by the last stretch I assumed I’d be more concentrated on the more impending, practical issues. But it seems my brain is happy at this particular station and after much discussion with others, I am apparently not alone. So although I’d imagine your middle of the night irrational thoughts will be different (and probably a bit less dramatic!) than mine, we can all take comfort that even though as first time Mothers, we have no real idea what we’re doing or what we can expect – we WILL all find a way. Our brains are perhaps distracting us with thoughts of outy belly buttons whilst they start working on a deeper level to get us through things we couldn’t necessarily do on a more conscious level. Our new arrivals are the most important thing to any first time Mother and instinctively we will do whatever we can to succeed at our new role. So as we all get to the same crazy town station, we may as well let our brains do their thing and take in the sights! Climb aboard ladies and let’s continue to enjoy the ride!