How To Have A Baby And Not Lose Your Shit – A Sort of Review

HaveABabyMy good friend and excellent blogger over at Eeh Bah Mum has only gone and written a blooming fantastic book. Yes this is not really a review becauseĀ  a. know the writer and b. I get a mention on page 2 (plus elsewhere but why spoil the plot for you?). Although I am going to review it because today I finished the book on the train whilst simultaneously laughing and crying.

Kirsty has always been one of the mums I’ve held in high esteem for just making it all look so easy, natural and being a normal human being at the same time. When I would return her daughter from a particularly disastrous walk, covered head to toe in mud, she’d be there with a coffee on offer and a funny story from earlier in the week to counter it. I figured she’d just got the whole ‘being a mum thing’ instantly and calmly got on with it. Instead, the book tells a different side, a touching and honest side that every single mum and mum-to-be should read. If only to know that no one just ‘gets it’ however much it looks like they do from the outside.

I first met Kirsty at the wedding of mutual friends around 4 years ago. We found ourselves getting drunk over nice food while our respective children caused some manner of chaos around the room. Being from Yorkshire, it is vital that you announce such a fact when meeting new people at places like weddings and we therefore figured out that not only were we from the same place in Yorkshire, had kids but we also lived on the next street to each other in North London. A friendship was formed.

I don’t particularly need much in a friendship; the ability to see the funny side of things and a willingness to go to the pub will do. As one of the funniest women I know and her London leaving drinks being up there in the top nights out list, Kirsty has made a pretty solid friend over the years. She has given me sterling advice about second kids, relocating and doing the 30 Day Shred with a newborn. Had I listened to her at the time, I could have saved myself a lot of crying about why my 4 month old won’t sleep long enough to let me work out; why for the past year I have felt like I am losing the plot because the first 6 months of a second child is a false sense of security; and I wouldn’t have spent the past year desperately trying to win the lottery so I could return to North London.

But I didn’t. Instead I read the same wonderful, funny outlook on motherhood in her book while kicking myself for being an idiot. I knew she talked sense when she was telling me it, I was just too wrapped up in baby world and sleep deprivation to remember.

How To Have A Baby isn’t just a funny, honest account of parenting though, it is more than that. It lays bare how having kids challenges you and how you view yourself as a person. Kirsty manages to voice the thoughts that went through my head about kids before I had them, about careers once they do arrive and also nails the first post-child hangover with alarming accuracy.

This is not your usual, ‘how to raise your kids’ book. The advice is simple: chill out and make friends. Something you don’t find in the wall of other baby books telling you about routines, naps, development, and all the other stuff that won’t necessarily apply to your baby because someone forgot to tell your baby to read the book. So in the truest sense, this is a book about how to be a parent and not how to look after a baby or raise a child.

I do wish I had read this book when I was pregnant with my first child. It probably wouldn’t have saved me from new mum craziness but it would have helped me realise I wasn’t on my own. Heck, I needed this book a year ago when I was struggling with two kids in a new place and then I wouldn’t have felt the need to drunkenly apologise to half the mums at the playgroup night out for being an emotional wreck when I first met them. But it is here now, in our lives and will be the gift I give to all new mums.

You can buy the book here.

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Long term goal block.

I am working on a few long term projects at the moment. The ones that seem to drag on at times with never an end in sight. The same might be said for my body image goal. Illness combined with a busy life has meant my time for fitness has subsided to nothing. Writing seemed to be a drag as well. I needed some quick tasks that I could start, finish and feel a sense of accomplishment to kick start enthusiasm for some of the longer term goals.

So I made my son this hat.

Crochet is admittedly not my strongest crafty skill but it was immensely satisfying to not only complete something in a short space of time but to also correctly follow a crochet pattern and understand it.

One of the other long-term projects I am working on is a crochet throw for my sofa. That really is a test of my attention span and will power to see it through.

The other upside of the warm. wooly hat is that the day I finished it, we had that glorious sunny spell. This weekend my son got to wear the hat while we stood getting damp by the Tower of London waiting to get a quarter inch glimpse of the Queen’s flotilla. I’m the least royalist person I know but my husband convinced me it would be good to take our son to at least one event in London this Summer. It convinced me that taking him through the throngs of tourists again this year will be a silly idea.

On a slight side from this, the double bank holiday has resulted in my husband taking the whole week off so this afternoon I can go for a run to kick start my long term goal to fit back into my mini-skirt. There are even some sunny spells outside and my ipod is charging up with new music.

All Clear

We received the word from the hospital today that our son was in the clear. While we knew that him charging around the flat, pulling out two canulas and being the little ray of sunshine that he is were all big signs he was fine and dandy; it was still a huge relief to know that he was officially ok.

He did not have meningitis and despite my feeling somewhat like a mother who takes her child to A&E for a cold yet again, I am glad I did so. While this was not the big, scary virus he was treated for, it was also not just your ordinary cold and he did have tonsilitis to boot.

It was worth every worried moment, flash of doubt, scream from needles and lost sleep to be perfectly certain my son was a-ok.

As our weekend of marriage time was lost to a weekend of stress and as of yesterday we were still waiting the test results, my husband worked from home. As usual when he does, he gets an idea of how much I do in the day to keep the flat at status quo. When I put the boy down for his big afternoon nap, my husband turned and said:

“Right, off you go.”

“Huh?”

“Go. Out. Relax. Get a cuppa. Just do something for yourself, leave the flat and come back when he is due to wake up.”

“Er, but I’ve got washing to hang, pots to wash, the floor to vac and bedroom to tidy before he wakes up next. I’ve no time to go out.”

“Leave that, I’ll do it tonight. You’ve had a stressful week. Just go out. I’m here.”

“But what if he wakes? You’re at work.”

“I’ll deal with it. Go on.”

I then spent ten minutes faffing, trying to find shoes, go to the loo and for some daft reason brush my hair before I realised that I was running out of limited nap time and could actually leave the house, without a child on a sunny day and DO MY OWN THING. What the hell was I doing going for a pee in my own home when I could have one with the door shut in a coffee shop up the road.

Sod the hair, I grabbed my laptop and wallet, flew out of the house and up to the cafe opposite the tube station. I plugged my ipod into my ears for the first time in almost a year, turned up Lungfish and wrote. I wrote like my arms were about to fall off and be damed the carpal tunnel pain, I could sit and drink my tea, write my story without interruption or bother.

There was no one to smile at me and then a pram, ask questions or make polite chatter. For that one hour I was back to being one of the many ignored, anonymous people of North London. I loved it. I wrote 5 pages of work, downed a pot of floral tea, unwound and ignored all the children and parents in the cafe. I even resisted cake.

Then I sauntered home in ten times a better mood than I’ve been in for such a long time. I felt like an adult; an individual, human, grown-up, own interests adult. I could take on the world right there on Archway Road. Or at least take on the rest of the week with OFSTED visits, childminding, visitors, visiting and making a journey South of the river before my Mother-in-Law arrives to give me and my husband some quality marriage time that we desperately need.