My ‘can’t live without’ list

So I have had a lot of people especially twin Mumma’s asking various questions on products I use and what I recommend for life with twins. So I have decided to do a ‘can’t live without list’, this is my list and totally personal to me some things you may love and some you may hate. But this list of things have helped made my life easier. I was going to do a top ten but I can’t think of ten so it’s going to be my top five (doesn’t quiet have the same ring to it, but you get the jist)

In at number ONE is

1 – Angel care bath support.

angel care seat

Now this thing is a total life saver for one baby but it really comes into its own with twins. We only have two hands (I couldn’t honestly do with more, most Mums could) but with twins you can only hold one baby in the bath at a time. This bad boy allows both babes to sit snuggly in the bath and Mumma has her hands free to clean them both! A-ma-zing. I have used it since birth and my girls were tiny prem babies so it fits even the tiniest of babies. My girls have always loved bath time and I swear it’s down to the comfort of this seat, and the fact that I have my hands free I have never been stressed bathing them struggling to do one baby at a time. I’m able to bathe both babies on my own which as a twin mum is a real life saver and time saver. Now I also use the bath seat totally not what it was intended for (so please take this advice with a pinch of salt) but I also used the bath to tandem feed both girls when I was alone with them. I placed both on the dining table (I can hear the gasps from all those health and safety conscious Mum’s) and placed the girls in them and voila, I can feed both girls at the same freaking time and more they are actually comfortable while eating (I have bottle fed by the way, not sure how you would logistically breastfeed two babies while sitting in these seats). Now the girls are able to hold their heads up I have placed them into high chairs for feeding, but while they were still teeny and not able to hold their heads up these seats saved my life! I cannot recommend this product enough and have talked all my expectant friends into buying them, they are super cheap and totally worth their weight in gold. They also now come in a few different colours rather than pink or blue (totally crushing on the grey) Now my girls are starting to sit up Im going to upgrade to the next chair stage from Angelcare and I expect them to be as brilliant as these have been.

 

A close second is

2- Kokoso baby.

kokoso

Now this stuff is literally liquid gold, I honestly think its made by magical coconut fairies, the world is a happier place with kokoso. While I was pregnant I did a tonne of research into bath and skin care products that I was going to use on the girls skin. I have suffered terribly with bad skin in my teens and early twenties and I wanted to ensure I was using the best gentle product on the girls skin I don’t want them growing up with bad skin habits. And I stumbled across kokoso baby, it’s a fresh pressed organic coconut oil, I read the hundreds of amazing reviews and knew I had to try it. I ordered a tub and also ordered a few other brands of premium baby skincare to try them all out (I wont mention the other brands as I don’t personally recommend) and Kokoso trumped them all, in serious coconutty fashion. It takes a while to get used to using as it is pure raw coconut it’s a solid so you have to take a small amount and melt it in your hands to use, and trust me a SMALL amount goes a long way with this stuff. I have used this on the girls skin from the day they came out of hospital every morning and every night I slather them up and they smell good enough to eat. I have seen a lot of babies with dry skin, rashes and cradle cap and had one friend who’s little boy had a terrible rash all over his face, I suggest she try Kokoso after trying all sorts of treatment and creams and within a week the rash had dramatically reduced. My girls have not once had dry skin or cradle cap and I swear that can only be down to this wonder product. It’s so economical aswell, we are only on our second pot at five months old. And kokoso isn’t just for babies (although it says Kokoso baby) it’s for anyone, I have used it on sunburn, I have used it as a facial moisturiser and I used it when I was pregnant and was lucky enough to get no stretch marks. Our bathroom smells constantly of some Jamaican coconut beach bar! And whats ever better is they have finally released a hair and bodywash, the coconut fairies strike again. The wash comes in fragranced and un-fragranced we have only tried the unfragranced, but it is brilliant. The girls feel super fresh and clean after using and have none of that tacky feeling you get from some bath products. I just put some under running water as you would with any normal bubble bath. I also use it to wash their hair and I have no worries if it goes in their eyes as it is so gentle (not that I recommend squirting it into your childs eye, please don’t)

 

Making it into the top three is

3- Mountain buggy duet

mountain buggy

So there is a real snobbery with pushchairs and brands of pushchairs, whats cool right now and whats not. But when you have twins that all goes out the window, that designer single pushchair you have been eyeing up is a long distant memory and you are thrust into the confusing world of twin pushchairs! Do you get a side by side?, do you get a tandem one on top of the other?, do you get a one in front of each other? I was totally bamboozled by pushchairs and which one was the best option for me. One thing is I knew I didn’t want one baby underneath the other with no view apart from the back of the other ones seat, sitting so low to the ground they are getting splashed with puddles. So I was onto side by side pushchairs, now which one? Well the bloggers fave is the Bugaboo donkey but the price tag was hefty, you could buy a small car for the price of that. I looked up a few alternative side by sides and found a few reviews on the mountain buggy duet. I went to John lewis as I knew they stocked the mountain buggy and the bugaboo so I could try them both out. I really recommend John lewis for trying out pushchairs they have a huge range and the staff are super helpful, they talked us through all the different twin pushchairs on the market and were not at all pushy. And once I tried the mountain buggy I was sold. This pushchair is heavy-duty, and made for all terrains, you can tell it is built to last and will withstand the toll of twins. What sold it to me is its size, it is no wider than a standard single pushchair meaning you can get through most doors. It’s so compact that you wouldn’t even know your pushing around twins. I have been out with other twin mums who have different branded side by side pushchairs and they have been wedged in the doorway and I have just glided on through and im yet to find a door I can’t fit through (even managed to get through the doors of a medieval castle). It’s a total dream to push aswell, the front wheels swivel making it super easy to manoeuvre in small spaces, your able to turn your pushchair around a corner like your on “fast and furious” I opted to buy the carrycot plus for both girls which meant they were in carrycots from birth and the girls have always looked super comfy and slept like a dream in the pushchair. The carrycot has four settings lie flat or slight incline perfect for babies with colic and reflux like my girls, that was a game changer and the girls have only just outgrown their carrycots at nearly six months, so there is plenty of room for them to grow. The carrycot then evolves as the baby grows and transforms into a front facing tub seat and a rear facing tub seat. So that is four different configurations in one seat! It’s the smoothest ride and goes up most bumps and low kerbs without you actually having to tip the front wheels back. It folds super quickly literally with the pull of one button and after a few goes of assembling you can whip that ride up in seconds. As double pushchairs go its one of the lightest on the market and it’s not overly heavy for lifting (I can lift it and im certainly no Arnie Schwarzenegger) There are amazing limited edition prints released every year with all funky designs and it comes in a range of colours. I bought the pushchair on the basis that it eventually after all the configurations of the carrycot plus evolves into a stroller so I know I wont have to buy another pushchair, this pushchair will do the girls from they are born till they no longer need a stroller. This is the Optimus Prime of pushchairs and I couldn’t live without my mountain buggy duet.

 

In at four

4 – Tommee tippee perfect prep

pre machine

 

The wonder machine, now why anyone would have a baby and not have this machine is beyond me. I honestly think it should be compulsory, like a car seat, you should be handed one when you leave hospital. This machine makes the bottles in minutes and prepares the milk at the exact temperature similar to breast milk temperature. Brilliant! This is a Godsend on those early morning feeds at 3am when you can barely see two feet in front of you because your that exhausted, many a morning I have been stood zombie-fied preparing two feeds for the girls and this little machine does all the hard work for me. Press the button and away you go it is literally that simple, no sitting waiting for the milk to cool or trying to heat it up with warm water. A few minutes and your ready to go. All the water is also filtered which puts your mind at ease you know your baby isn’t getting any nasties in their milk, the filter removes all the impurities. It now comes in a variety of colours so your can match it to your kitchen appliances pretty cool! I have had to make two feeds without a pre machine whilst at a family members house and honestly its like going back to a Nokia after an Iphone, times moved on, this machine is a must. Baby, car seat, prep machine all essential for a happy home life.

 

And my final can’t live without

5- MAM dummy’s

mam dummys

With our little girls been premature they were obviously little, they had colic, reflux and cows milk allergy. The screamed pretty much the entire first twelve weeks of their lives and we wanted them to be able to take dummy’s to calm them. Now I must have literally bought my own body weight in different dummys, we tried a zillion brands, we tried flat shape, cherry shape, ones that flick up at the end you name it we tried it. We even purchased some specialised premie dummys off a website designed for premature babies and absolutely none of them worked. The girls hated them, they would struggle to latch onto them or they would be too big for their mouth, they would gag on them or just plain refuse to even take the dummy. Then I found the MAM range and I haven’t looked back we got the 0-2 month range and instantly the girls loved them and just sat silently sucking away. Finally after eight weeks of screaming we had some relief. The shape allows the girls to breathe easily as it has these little air slots and they fit perfectly for their age. They come in a mammoth range of colours and funky designs even glow in the dark!, what an invention! The dummys also come in these amazingly handy steriliser pots so the dummys will be sterile on the go, how amazing. We have since progressed onto the 3-6 month range and they are as successful as the previous. These are the only dummys my daughters will actually take. We are just about growing out of this age range and will defo be purchasing the next size up.

So there you have it, my little top five ‘can’t live without’ items. There are a tonne of other things that are super useful but these are the things that I literally don’t think I could parent without. We are now moving onto the weaning stage and it’s a whole new ball game, do I buy a steamer and puree machine, do I feed jars or make from scratch and can someone tell me what bloody baby led weaning is! Anyway stay tuned for the next stage of our journey.

Give me a fucking break!

btyToday has just been one of those days, you know the days where the kids literally scream from dusk til dawn, everything goes wrong, the internet fucks up, you burn your dinner and end up eating Ryvita and nutella for tea? Yep one of ‘those’ days.

 Today was hard, motherhood is hard; really fucking hard some days your totally slaying motherhood, your skipping through the house wash basket in hand, the kids are napping perfectly, you have tea prepped; have done all your ‘to do’ list, you are practically Mary frigging Poppins. Then some days. like me today you find yourself telling your five month old twin to “give me a fucking break”, yes I did tell my twins today on numerous occasions to “give me a fucking break”.

 But I felt shame in struggling, I felt embarrassed to admit that some days it’s totally overwhelming been a mum especially a mum to twins while your hubby is working away until November, so your parenting solo! Why do we feel ashamed to be struggling? Why do we feel the need to be super bloody nanny, to be the perfect mum to have a crystal clean house, immaculate children and still look good ourselves. I don’t, most days I live in my pj’s and if a baby wipe touches my face its a victory.

Today I wanted to feel sorry for myself, I wanted to moan and rant without been judged. Yet me feeling like this is seen as a failure like im the worlds worst mum, somebody call Esther Rantzen! Me wanting a few hours away from the chaos and pressure of being responsible for two humans equates to been a terrible mother!

 Sometimes this shit gets hard, sometimes you need to swear, you need to walk outta the room and leave the kids screaming you need to, to stay sane. And as mothers we need to be able to feel these emotions without been judged or our parenting ability slated. If me wanting one night away from my five month twins makes me a bad mum then im ok with that! People can judge all they like, sometimes you need that break, you need that ‘me’ time to re group get your shit together so you can carry on slaying motherhood.

So I’m saying “fuck you” to the judgemental people, “fuck you” to motherhood, you bit me in the arse today. Today was a shit day and im sure more will come but having a bad day doesnt mean you’re a bad mum. It means you’re a real mum!

Travelling with twins

So your thinking of taking a trip away with your twins and you want some help and tips? Well here they are.

Don’t do it, seriously don’t it’s not worth it your crazy to even think it, do you really need to go to that family wedding in the summer or aunt Mabel’s 80th? Seriously don’t do it just become a social recluse and decline all invites until the twins are at least thirteen. I have endured two trips away with the twins and trust me its not pretty, im still receiving counselling (joking)

But if you are set on a trip away with twins (your crazy) here are my top tips on how to survive and tell the horrific tale.

1- Take wine, in fact bugger that alcohol in any form will do, vodka, beer, wine, that hand sanitizer in the glove box that will do. You will defo need it when you finally arrive at your destination.

2 – Pack the car like a pro at a Jenga world championship. Anything you need in seconds needs to be at an arms reach. You need a bib; you need be able to get that in a second so pack it close by. Any small orifice of the car can be used to stuff all the essential items. Pull down the sun shield, you can pack a few muslins in there no probs, the glovebox that’s huge you can have nappies in there ready for that poo explosion (that will most likely happen in that traffic jam on the M6)

3 – Train yourself and limber up! So your driving 70mph on the motor way and one of your twins is sick and starts choking on it, you need to have the agility of a collie at Cruffs and be able to contour your body across into the back seat while someone is driving, steady yourself and clear the sick from your baby’s throat without actually taking your seatbelt off and not actually removing the baby from their car seat. On a recent trip to Devon (a holiday I naively agreed to before the girls were born, thinking it would be easy peasy) I had to administer the girls their ranitadine on the motorway while the car was been driven at 70mph, trust me needs must.

4 – Take, wipes, wipes and more wipes, and tissues and more wipes. There will be dribble, sick, spilt drinks, melted ice cream all over the car, you need wipes at your disposal to wipe all the crap up!

5 – Take a lot of stops, gone are the days where you can bomb from Bristol to Birmingham in 2 hours with no motorway stops. Them service stations you used to drive on past happy in the knowledge you would be home in a few hours, well you need them now. The kids will need air and need out of their car seats, the dog will need a wee and to bark at half the population at Micheal wood services and you, well you will take the few minutes sitting on the toilet as a welcome break from the chaos of the car, oh and you can grab a coffee. We had to stop 3 times on a trip down to Norfolk recently, a journey which took us 7 hours! We stopped to change the girls, feed them, let the dog go for a little walk, eat some lunch and to up our caffeine intake.

6 – Prepare all bottles before you leave and take extra just incase you get stuck in traffic. I made up 4 bottles for each twin on our Norfolk trip, so if we got stuck in traffic, I had the girls food ready. And thank god I did since we were stuck in a constant traffic jam! I didn’t have to stress and worry about how I was gonna boil water and make the bottles I had them all ready.

7 – Be adaptable and ready for change. So you have finally got past the traffic jam and made it to the service station, you wrestle your twins inside the baby change to find what can only be described as a ‘dirty protest’ has taken place. So be adaptable. I wasn’t gonna change my girls in the filth of that baby change facility, so I changed them on the passenger seat of my car. Which also wasn’t a great idea, (thank god for leather seats) my daughter pissed all over our car seat. But it was better than changing her in filth. So be prepared for change and to think on your feet, which been a twin parent im sure is something your used to.

8 – Plan your route, have a sat nav, and a map as a back up. You do not want to be lost with screaming twins and a dog in the car, that will lead to screaming at each other, probably a divorce and perhaps the need for counselling. Get your sat nav revved up and set to your destination before you pile all the family in the car. And fill the fuel tank the day before you don’t need to be stuck in the queue for petrol paying sky-high prices on a motor way services because your running on fumes.

9 – Take provisions for the journey, sweets, drinks anything that will help keep your mind off the chaos ensuing around you. That diet you were on will be on hold for this journey, you’re gonna need that burger from McDonald’s at the service station just to keep your moral high so don’t feel guilty about it. I think a journey with twins would make the healthiest vegan run into the arms of a burger.

10 – Breath, meditate, chant, find your mantra do what you gotta do to stay calm. I could have lost it many times, but somehow managed to stay semi calm. Even when driving home from Norfolk with my mother as my co pilot, the dog woke up from the back of the car and barked the loudest most panicked bark, and kept barking frantically, waking the twins and literally scaring the crap outta them. He barked shocked the girls and BOTH twins had full on poo explosions, so now our car smells of shit, the dogs barking frantically and we have two screaming babies in the back. The dog at the previous pit stop had over indulged on a liter bottle of water and now was about to piss himself, I was stuck driving down the M6 in heavy traffic and the next lay by or pit stop wasn’t for about ten miles. I honestly felt like stopping the car holding up the m6 getting out the car and screaming at the sky like some crazed woman but I kept myself together and just carried on driving since I literally couldn’t do anything else. My mother by this time was arse in the air leaning into the back trying to calm two terrified babies with dummy’s and calm a dog who was about to burst. We made it to the nearest layby, left the car running and sprinted around the boot to lift the dog out (I have a boxer dog so it takes two to lift him) and the pressure of us lifting him out the boot caused him to piss all over us. By this point I really didn’t care whats a bit of dog piss! We then had to change the girls nappies, thank god they hadn’t leaked into their car seats, cause if they had I honestly think I would have just classed the car as a total write off and request the AA to collect us.

And final tip

11 – When you finally make it home, dignity lost, on the brink of divorce, car smelling of crap, two sweaty cranky babies and a wound up dog. Get your laptop and book a weekend away to recover and re cooperate, you deserve it Mumma!

Lets get me pregnant!

The main event, what we had been building up to, the final act, was all happening. We had finally made it, we were actually getting an embryo put back in. Holy shit! This was really happening.

Our egg transfer felt so surreal, and if your anything like me you get totally swept away in it all and just mentally move from one milestone to the next, never actually processing whats really going on. Looking back now I wish I had taken more time to sit and breath, take it all in and process it all, live in the moment a bit more, because it is at the end of the day an experience, it is a memory. That’s a regret I defo have is that I didn’t take it all in.

Day of egg transfer, you have done all you have needed to do and now it’s the big scary moment that you have been building up to. I woke up like normal, I had packed all my bag the night before, me and hubby were up and ready to go. One last thing, stick that huge bloody suppository up my arse! Not one of my finest hours I admit but it must be done and by this point with the IVF I don’t think I had any dignity left anyway. We arrived at the hospital and the nurses were all very positive “todays the day” nearly every single nurse said to me grinning like Cheshire cats as they escorted me to the treatment room. The usual process of confirming your name, date of birth etc had to be done and a nurse explained to hubby and I what would happen. The embryologist would hand the injection type thing which contained the embryo to the consultant who had already opened your cervix and inserted a catheter, he would push the injection wobbly tube through the catheter and push the liquid through containing the embryo as deep into your cervix as possible hopefully leaving the embryo in place. (please excuse the highly educated and correct description of equipment, as you can see I’m not a scientist)He would hand the embryologist the injection type thing back and she would check under the microscope that the embryo had been deposited correctly.  I was given a gown to put on and told to put on my dressing gown and slippers and they would collect us when they were ready.

The nurse collected us and we went on our way, I didn’t really talk much during the process I think I was in auto pilot just going through the motions. I lay on the couch while the consultant put on what can only be described as a miners hat! With a bloody torch, so that last bit of dignity, yep that had gone, I now had a consultant with his head up my fagde wearing a bloody head torch! Anyway the nurse was scanning me on my belly the whole time so the consultant could actually see where the injection was going and how far in it was to ensure it was in the right place. But that’s where it all kinda went wrong, (again) my ovaries and uterus where that swelled that the consultant couldn’t actually see anything, he couldn’t see how far the injection was in and said “im going to have to do this blind, but it will hurt you”. Great! So the consultant proceeded to push the injection in as far as he could physically push it, to ensure that it had gone all the way into the back of the cervix, I meanwhile was in tonnes of pain as per bloody usual and just wishing the whole process would hurry up and be over. Seriously every thing that could happen really does happen to me! The nurse kept scanning but the consultant had no way of knowing if the embryo had been placed into the correct place. He handed the injection to the embryologist who confirmed the embryo had been deposited. So the embryo was in there inside me somewhere and we just prayed the consultant knew his way around a cervix! That was it all over all the pain over, all the procedures over, everything was hanging on that one tiny embryo and hoping it had some super sticking power, if i could have squirted some super glue up there I would have.

Now the reason the embryologist wasn’t able to see what he was doing was because I had OHSS (over hyper stimulation syndrome) and by this point it had not been detected. Three days prior to egg transfer I had been feeling like total crap, feeling sick, sore, bloated and struggling to breath. “This isn’t right I need to phone the clinic” I told my hubby, and they told me to come in to get checked over. I was scanned and the scan showed loads of excess fluid or what they said was blood, internal bleeding from the egg collection. My blood pressure was taken and all my vitals were fine so it was deemed I was well, didn’t show signs of OHSS and just had some internal bleeding, I was sent home with some tinzaparin injections to inject daily into my legs to stop blood clots and told everything is fine, we are still going ahead with egg transfer. I personally knew I wasn’t well and that something was not right but I went with the advice from the clinic. Now honestly I felt so crappy I didn’t want to have the egg transfer so I visited the clinic again to tell them that I didn’t feel well enough. This time the consultant sat with me and hubby and said that I was perfectly well and they advised that we went with the fresh transfer and not to hold off and freeze all the embryos, they wanted to egg transfer this cycle as it would be our best chance of a pregnancy. So I went with their advice, “I must just be a total wimp” I kept telling myself. And this is a hard decision to debate because yes I had OHSS and ended up in hospital for thirteen days with fluid on my lungs and stomach, but I also ended with a positive pregnancy test. “So would I do the fresh transfer again even though I was feeling so ill or would I wait and freeze if I could go back in time?” Truthfully I would do it all again in a heartbeat, the illness and OHSS was totally worth the positive pregnancy test at the end. I wish though that someone had believed me when I said I felt really ill and not brushed me off, I can’t say I wish I had demanded I be checked over properly because had the OHSS been detected before the egg transfer then my beautiful girls wouldn’t be here today. So it was clearly meant to be.

Four days after egg collection I had had enough, I felt so ill and I wasnt improving, something defo wasn’t right. I phoned the clinic who advised to go straight to the gynaecology ward in the hospital to be checked over. I honestly thought I was wasting their time and felt really stupid for handling the IVF process so badly. The consultant came and scanned me then listened to my lungs, took some bloods and came back about half an hour later. He confirmed what I had suspected I had OHSS with fluid on both lungs, so I was ill, I wasn’t a wimp and yes I couldn’t bloody breath! He informed me that they were going to admit me and that if I didn’t improve they might have to drain my lungs (thankfully it never came to that)

I ended been in hospital for thirteen days on two drips most the time, been violently sick and so bloated I could hardly move. And breathing well I felt like I had smoked twenty a day my whole life, it’s a horrible feeling not been able to breath properly. I was given human protein through a drip to encourage my body to absorb the fluid off my lungs and was scanned and xrayed daily. I had never felt so ill and bed bound my whole life (that was untill I had a c section!)

 

Let the egg hunt commence

We made it! This time my body didn’t let me down, that glass of wine didn’t make a difference we were at egg collection. Everything had gone to plan my dosage had been reworked and I had a different plan in place, I reacted really well to it. Scans showed 17 eggs all waiting and ready and I had swelled up like a balloon.

 So let’s get them bad boys out! We arrived for egg collection not really knowing what that process or procedure was, it was something that was really loosely spoke to us about in a brief meeting. But I turned up totally shitting myself so if your worried, its fine your allowed to be worried. I just wasn’t really sure what would happen, would it hurt, would they get eggs, would I be asleep, would I be awake. Now our clinic had told us that most woman sleep through the egg collection wake up and go home. But nope that’s not me. I was given a gown to put on and the nurse put the needle in my hand for the sedation meds and I was good to go, hubby had already been taken down to a separate room where he had the hardest job of all! Performing into a cup on demand! (he always reminds me of how hard it actually was for him). I walked into the treatment room in to what seemed like a bloody audience, an embryologist, the doctor a couple of nurses, it was like a party in this tiny room. I was told to lie on the couch legs in the stirrups fadge out for the world to see as per usual (dignity totally out the window with IVF and pregnancy) and the nurse gave me the sedation meds through my hand. My hubby was bought into the room at this point with a nurse and sat next to me, and held my hand.

 And the rest is pretty much a blur. I remember the doctor explaining what he was going to do and showing us the equipment. He was going to insert a catheter, and using a long wobbly stick thingy (scientific lingo) draw the eggs out, hand them to the embryologist who was stood like a saloon bar tender in behind this little window with shutters, she would shout to say “egg found” or “egg present” something like that and she would shout how many he was able to retrieve. All the way leading up to the process I was told it wont hurt, it’s just uncomfortable, like a smear!

 Well everyone is different and has different pain thresholds and I am told repeatedly that I am in fact a fully fledged wimp. But did it bollocks feel like a smear! It hurt me I was actually in a lot of pain and awake and not one bit drowsy the whole way through the procedure. The nurse had to administer more pain meds through my hand as I was struggling to stay still it was that painful. I must have been a bit drowsy tho because I remember trying to talk and it taking ages to actually get my words out. But I remember a lot of pain. Now don’t panic, you are not meant to have that much pain it turns out I had OHSS and they didn’t realise at this point hence the pain, but that’s another blog. So for you it shouldn’t be that painful.

 I have no recollection of how long I was lay there for and my hubby the total rock that he is stayed by my side the whole time just holding my hand and telling me I was doing great, he really kept me calm. Anyway after god knows how long the embryologist said that he had got as many eggs as he could. He said he could see more eggs and follies that he wanted to drain but he was going to have to leave them because I was in so much pain. I wanted him to continue, the more eggs collected the better our chances but at the same time, pain wise I had hit about my limit. So it was totally the right decision to make. I was then wheeled off into recovery with my husband and left to come round from the sedation.

 After about thirty minutes of recovery the doctor came in and told us he was able to collect thirteen eggs for harvest, that there were more follies with eggs but he wasn’t able to drain them due to me been in so much pain. He informed us that them follies would just naturally drain themselves and be absorbed back into my body.

 Wished us good luck and said the embryologist would phone us daily with updates of our embryos and their progress. Told us that nothing was guaranteed and there was no certainty that they would fertilise to embryos. So all done and finished within about two hours. I was given a biscuit and a cuppa and we were free to go. And we walked out thirteen eggs lighter and a hell of a lot sorer!

 The next day the embryologist phoned to say three embryos had died over night but the rest had started to fertilise, she would phone us daily to update us on the process. We had decided earlier in the process that if our embryos were viable we would try to get to a day five blastocyst. Each day we got that terrifying phone call nervous to see if the had survived the night. But our embryos were all grade one and two meaning they were likely to successfully make it to blastocyst stage. On day three we were told that our embryos were viable and they were going to push them through to-day five blastocyst. This was the big gamble would they all make it through? Or would we lose them all? But we took the gamble.

 On day five we had the final results we had nine embryos survived to blastocyst. Nine from the thirteen collected only nine had survived to blastocyst. But that’s nine potential babies or nine chances at one baby, either way we were super chuffed with the result. It had all been worth it. Now onto the next stage. The transfer.

It takes time to make a masterpiece

Our first cycle was going really well to start off with. I had taken two weeks off work so I could concentrate fully on the whole process, so I had no stress. I had been injecting daily the same time, done everything to the book. I had cut out caffeine and was living like a bloody rabbit eating so healthy. It was the second week when it all went south. I went in for a routine internal scan, which by the end of the IVF process you will be sick to death of! And it seemed my follies were growing too big? The nurse seemed concerned but reassuring said it could be controlled, so I was instructed to reduce down to half the dosage I was currently taking. So that meant two ampoules instead of four.

I left the clinic concerned but not overly worried as the nurse didn’t seem too worried about it, so I carried on with the process and was due to be scanned in two days.

On the Thursday I got a phone call from the clinic to say I should bring someone with me to the appointment. Instantly I knew it was bad news, but I still didn’t accept it. I still told myself “it will be fine” I don’t think I wanted to admit it myself so just played it down. My hubby was stuck in work so my Mum came with me. And it was usual process go into scan room, get scanned, sit back in waiting room until the nurse calls you. I went back into the waiting room to my Mum who had been staring at the same page in a magazine the whole time, she must have known. But still I was my chirpy happy self, kept telling myself this will be fine!

The nurse called us and my heart hit the floor, this was it we would find out. We sat down and the nurse said “I’m glad you have your mum with you, we are going to abandon this cycle, your follies were growing too quickly so we reduced your dosage to slow them down but sadly we reduced it too much and they haven’t grown at all since” I didn’t process any of it, the nurse proceeded to tell me scientific lingo and explain the process, but I wasn’t hearing a word she was saying. I sat there smiling at her just agreeing. It was as if my mind had left my body and my body was sat there smiling keeping calm and not showing emotion, but inside I was distraught. My Mum was asking questions and I could hear the mumbles but it was like I was underwater and their conversation was muffled. The nurse said that I had 18 eggs but they would just let my body disperse of them naturally and that I needed to have two periods before we could start the whole process again. She apologised and said she knows it will be hard to digest, handed me some forms and we left. That was it all over.

I didn’t cry? I couldn’t My mum hugged me and she was crying but I couldn’t, “its fine, I’m ok” I said. We walked back to the car and decided to go for a coffee, “well its fucked up now anyway so I may aswell have fucking caffeine!” My husband still didn’t know any of this, how was I going to tell him, how can I tell him that my body had fucked up the whole process and it was my body’s fault? Me and Mum went into Costa ordered our drinks and sat down, I had the biggest creamiest hazelnut latte known to man and a big huge chocolate muffin! And everyone was there just sat enjoying their morning, going about their business and here I’m sitting in complete devastation and shock. Me and Mum hadn’t really spoke a word to each other on the journey to the coffee shop. And I sat down and just burst into tears, I couldn’t talk I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to cry. So I sat there like a crazy woman in costa along with my Mum both balling our eyes out like two weirdos, safe to say no one sat on the table next to us! I still don’t remember if we spoke its all a blur, I just remember crying both of us crying and hugging each other. I had to then phone my husband and tell him to come home asap, that it wasn’t good news but I needed to see him to tell him.

Mum and me drove home both in shock but trying to pretend that it wasn’t that bad. Hubby was there when I got in, and I couldn’t even tell him. I just cried, I couldn’t actually tell him the words, the words that I didn’t want to even speak, the words that I couldn’t admit to myself. My Mum had to tell him what had happened while I sat and sobbed. Now my husband is the most level-headed person around and never ever shows worry or stress, my total rock when I have my many meltdowns, and he just calmly said “that’s fine, we can just try again next time, don’t be too upset”. And that was it. Mum got a phone call from my Dad and he said a line that has stayed with me ever since “It takes time to make a masterpiece”. Nothing else needed to be said, my Dad had said it in one perfectly poetic line.

And that was it all done after a day everyone went back to normal, hubby was up and off to work, I had taken off two weeks to be fully committed so I had no reason to get up early. It was done, cycle abandoned 18 eggs lost, my hopes and dreams crushed with such ease. Everyone seemed to be fine, but me I was a total mess and looking back I think I should have had counselling. I just couldn’t function, I didn’t want to see people I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to eat. I was just confused and angry. I hated my body and felt like my mind was separate to my body, I hated my body like it was someone else. My body had let us down, my body had caused this, my body was useless and couldn’t have a baby, my body had let me down in the worst way possible. I wasn’t a real woman how could I be? A real woman can have a baby. I was angry with myself and angry I had even bothered to start the IVF process, angry I had got my hopes up. My hubby was trying his hardest to help me but I just was just consumed in this dark energy.

I vividly remember lying in bed and watching my husband sleep angry, angry that he could sleep, “did it really mean that little to him that he can sleep?”. I sat there in the darkness crying, just sat in bed with my husband next to me but completely alone in my thoughts, I didn’t want him to know how much I was struggling and I didn’t want my family to know either, so I just pretended like I was ok. I felt empty all the hopes I had all the scenarios I had played in my head, all gone. I sat in the darkness and deleted all my pictures on my phone of prams I wanted, nurseries I liked, baby names I had saved on Pintrest, I deleted the lot. For me it was over, I was never going to be a parent. And I wrote an Instagram post, one that when I read to this day upsets me and transports me back to them emotions and hurt.

Family and friends were positively onto the next cycle planning things and working out dates when the “baby” might be born, they had all got over it, but not me I couldn’t even think of starting this bullshit again, I hadn’t even got over the failed round. How could they just move on like that like it was nothing? “when baby’s born” jesus there probably wont even be a baby not with my body.

The one thing that killed me throughout the IVF is the uncertainty of it all, nothing is certain, nothing is 100 percent, nothing is guaranteed. Your building your hopes and dreams on something that actually might not ever happen. And to have a failed cycle of IVF you see how scary a prospect that is. I have always been so positive as a person always a glass half full, always a “dreamer” as I’ve been told on various occasions. If I want something I make it work, but this, this I couldn’t control, this I couldn’t make happen with hard work and determination and that for me was the hardest part. This was all out of my control. I might never have that pram, that nursery, that child to take to castles and to the seaside and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

Deciding to try again was a really hard decision for me to make, I didn’t want to. Why would I, I didn’t want to build my hopes up for them to be shattered again, no thanks I would rather not try. Emotionally I wasn’t ready to deal with it all again and I didn’t want to put my body through the hundreds of injections, the endless scans and blood tests for it all to fail again. My husband really wanted to try again and was adamant we should. But for me I needed control, so if I was going to do it again I needed to do it my way, “fuck you IVF I’m in charge!” So I agreed to start the whole crappy process again but I went in negatively, I went in with the attitude “it isn’t going to work anyway so I’m not going to follow the rules”. And I feel terrible to say I didn’t follow the rules, I drank the odd glass of wine, so what, I had caffeine, who cares? I went out with friends, I worked through the whole process. I didn’t care if work was stressful, IVF wasn’t important anyway so it was last priority. Sometimes I didn’t inject on exactly the same time each night silly things made me feel like I had control. It was my way of controlling it, at least this time if it didn’t work I could say “well I drank caffeine, I didn’t rest enough, I drank wine so that must be why it didn’t work”. I would have a reason, I could say “well Nicola you didn’t really put effort in and follow the rules so it’s no wonder it didn’t work” I could blame myself and move on. I found it easier having my actions to blame for it not working than to have no one and nothing to blame. If it was my fault and my actions at least that was a reason, better than unexplainable.

I know now how I treated the second cycle was totally wrong and I seriously don’t advise you drinking wine, caffeine and been a negative angry bitch as a way of getting a successful IVF cycle. But it was the only way I could actually get through the whole process again and keep my sanity, to distance myself from it and protect my emotions, not to build my hopes up.

Even now typing this its hard reliving those dark feelings and I will never forget that overwhelming fear at the prospect of not actually been a parent, that fear will live with me forever. But they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” I don’t know about stronger but I have definitely become more resilient.

The dreaded first injection

ivfinjectionsSo your sat with all your haul in front of you, packaged needles, liquid, powder, sharps box, silly little rubber things that are meant to snap off the top of the liquid. And if your like me you have forgotten all the advice and instructions that you have been given and are sat thinking “what the frig do I do with this”.

My first injection was a huge thing for me, we had been building up to this moment for months, taking down regulation drugs, stopping periods, having periods and it was all about to seriously start. We had been told to always inject at the exact same time daily and decided 7am in the morning and 8pm at night was good times for us. 7am meant that I would already be up getting ready for work and if it was a weekend and I was having a lie in I didn’t have to get up too early to inject (and then go back too sleep lol). 8pm meant it allowed us time to be back in the house after work incase there was traffic ;no injecting on the side of the road in a traffic jam, pretty sure that would look dodgy! It gave us time to get in and have a cuppa before injecting, and to prepare the injections which for a few days took bloody ages cause we didn’t have a frigging clue what we were doing.

Due to the nature of my endo and PCOS I needed four ampoules in the morning via two injections and four ampules in the evening again two injections. Everyone is different this is just the program I had been put on. So when I say ampules that’s the little powder vials so I needed four of them twice a day. You can mix three powders to one liquid meaning one injection, see told you this shit is bloody confusing! But because I needed four powders I had to mix two powders in one liquid for one injection and another two powders with another liquid for a second injection. Right if you have kept with me through that then I salute you!

So mixing, jesus the nurse in the clinic whizzed through what to do and mixed the powders and liquid, drew the injection like some cocktail mixologist in the bloody Ritz. “I’ve got this, she made that look easy, I will whizz through this” I thought, how wrong was I?. I opened all my vials I got my powders to one side and my liquids to the other, I had my two needles, mixing needle and actual injecting needle. And I sat and looked at them mind totally blank, looked at my husband and he just stared at me with a lost expression something reminiscent of Dougal off Father Ted! So he was going to be no help! Luckily during the nurses mixologist class I had taken notes, lecture style notes and if I have any advice it is to write every single bit of info they give you down, trust me you will need it later. So I got my notes and followed the notes I had taken, but still something didn’t seem right, I totally confused myself. “So what do I mix three powders and one liquid into one injection and then one water to one powder in the other injection” I asked my husband, he replied with a really helpful “I don’t have a bloody clue”. Queue us frantically reading my scrawl to see what we had to do.

We finally figured it out and opened all the needles we needed got them onto the injection now to open the liquid. Now seriously this could be something I was doing totally wrong which is most likely the case but them silly little rubber cap things that your apparently slip on the glass liquid vial and it miraculously snaps the top off well they are shit! I can’t remember the amount of times I tried to open a vial and shattered the glass into the vial or shattered the glass everywhere or, my favourite trick snap the glass and somehow cut your hand repeatedly with the glass! By the end of all the injections my hands looked like I had a pet tiger, I was covered in cuts! I still to this day don’t know why I couldn’t get them to work. Whats meant to happen is you put the rubber seal over the top of the glass vial and halfway down are two lines a red and blue line (if I remember correctly) you position the rubber cap thing in between these lines and just snap it off. I watched you tube vids, I watched the nurse all made it look crazy easy, sadly I couldn’t get it I always ended up using about double the liquid vials because I ruined that many!

So by this time the 8pm deadline of injecting had passed and we were now in overtime! So with the liquid vial opened and plasters applied to my hands I put the red needle head on, it’s the thicker needle, for Christs sakes don’t try and inject yourself with that drawing up needle its blunt as hell and will hurt, a lot! Anyway I had my needle head on I remembered what I had been taught and drew up the liquid then injected the needle into the powder vial, drew the dissolved liquid up; little tip if you put the liquid into the powder and it hasn’t fully dissolved, still little white bits floating in it don’t shake it this will give you bubbles which you don’t want, instead twirl the vial around in a circular motion this will dissolve the bits without getting bubbles. I then injected this solution into the second powder and drew that dissolved solution into the injection. So I had a full injection of one liquid with two dissolved powders. As I was injecting four powders I repeated the whole process again so finally had two full injections ready to go. I then swapped the needle heads to the yellow heads which are thinner and the head you use to inject with.

“All that’s left to do now is jab this in my belly and we are done”, well that was far easier said than done. Now I may just be a total wimp and you may be fine with injecting yourself but for me I couldn’t seem to actually do it. The thought of injecting myself seemed so alien, your natural instinct is to pull away. But before we even got to that I realised I hadn’t actually taken any notes on how to do the actual injection. The nurse had done a quick demo “you pinch the skin adjacent to your belly button not too high and jab it in” was her instruction. Well how much skin do I pinch? how long should it take? Do I plunge it slowly or quickly? What angle does the needle go in at? All questions I had no answers for. By now it was late and our clinic had closed so I couldn’t phone for advice, so I did what any 21st century woman does and asked “you tube” I searched and found a video of a lady doing her IVF injections and watched that. Total life saver, I now knew how to inject, incase you don’t know and this might be incorrect so always ask your clinic, please don’t take medical advice from a blogger, not wise! So you pinch about an inch of skin no higher than your belly button, the needle goes in straight and the whole needle needs to be in, inject slowly and when you have finished the injection wait a few seconds before you release the skin slowly and pull the needle slowly. What you’re aiming for is your skin to be fully released the same time the injection leaves the skin, this is to ensure your not squeezing any of the solution back out. And always alternate sides you inject so one day inject left, next day inject right.

I grabbed my one inch of skin, injection in hand and put the needle against my skin, could I take the step to actually push the needle in? could I heck! I built myself up so many times “ok Nicola your been so stupid just do it” I kept telling myself but I still couldn’t actually get over the natural reaction to not inject myself. So it came down to hubby, “you’ve gotta do this cause I bloody can’t” I handed him the injection I pinched my skin, sat of the sofa and held my breath (god knows why but that was another weird thing I did, held my breath every time the needle came near me). Now I don’t have a needle phobia, I have tattoos and piercings but I was been a total wimp. So hubby went to come near me with the injection “you wont do it till I tell you im ready will you?” “wait im not ready gimme a sec” hubby got his hair off and yelled at me to sit down get a grip and stop been a bloody wimp. “Ok im sorry yes, let’s do this, ok go”, he comes towards me “arghhhh stop stop stop stop, not ready” This went on for about ten bloody minutes. I got all hot and flustered hubby was ready to inject himself in the hope this would be over an done with and it was now 9pm! So I got a grip and gritted my teeth, seriously I have no idea what I was expecting, held my breath like the weirdo I am and let him inject me. That was it all over, oh no another one process was repeated and finally after over an hour we had done our first injections at 9:15pm!

Now guys your first injection is gonna seem really scary but truthfully it isn’t what you build it up to be and honestly by the end of the three weeks of injections I was injecting like a junky on a daily basis not a care in the world, I even injected in a restaurant bathroom as we were out for a family meal, thankfully no one walked in cause that would have been seriously hard to explain. And after a few weeks of injections im not gonna lie your belly does get tender and sore, and you start to bruise slightly, but it’s not horrendous. It’s totally doable

I experienced a few side affects and these might not be the same for everyone, but sometimes I got a burning sensation as the injection was going in, as the liquid was been plunged it burned slightly. Another weird side effect I got was itching in the injection sight but again I think that’s relativly normal. I had a few bruises but other than that I didnt have any other issues with the injections (apart from the hundreds of cuts on my hands from trying to open them bloody vials!).

So that was it, first injection done, officially doing IVF offically injecting and on the way to been parents.

Welcome to the world of IVF

It’s an exclusive members only club you never wanted to be a part of. Soon you will be so immersed in scientific lingo and terminology you will be able to convincingly fool people into believing you’re a brain surgeon. You will learn things and words you never knew and your conversation over the dinner table will be all follies, blastocysts and HCG trigger shots!

But its ok, it can seem crazily overwhelming at the start and I swear I have no idea how I mixed my injections correctly because I confused myself that much and harassed the clinic like some annoying dog begging for attention that god only knows what I injected myself with. And then somewhere it all seems to fall into place. You find your injecting without the ten times of “ok go!….no no no stop I’m not ready” your mixing the solutions and ampoules like a cocktail mixologist in a swanky bar, and the lingo you were totally bamboozled by is now your mother tongue.

So your about to start IVF your about to pump your body full of hormones and become a total crazy woman (trust me that happens) your about to have more things and apparatus shoved up your “lady garden” than….well you get the jist. All in the hope of a positive pregnancy test. You have had statistics, averages and percentages thrown at you like Carol bloody Vorderman and if your anything like me you probably havent listened to them and the small chance that it could go wrong because in there is that tiny glimmer of hope, a tiny chance of you know what “this might bloody work”. Your looking at prams and nurseries and planning everything before you have even taken your first injection, don’t worry I did the same. But sometimes IVF doesn’t work or your cycle is cancelled and it hits you up that face harder than Mike Tyson.

My IVF journey started when my husband and I had been “trying” for a baby for five years in that time I had been diagnosed with grade four endometriosis, had surgery and had also been diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I can’t remember when we decided that we needed real help. It’s all a bit of a blur, we just seemed to all of a sudden be in the queue, in the IVF line waiting our turn. My husband was 26 and I was 27 when we started the process and it was a long emotional road.

After tests it was decided we qualified for IVF my husband had “variable sperm quality” and I had issues with ovulation and have never from puberty been able to have a regular menstrual cycle. Our first cycle started really well, injections were fine, follicles were growing perfectly, I had taken two weeks off work to be totally stress free. But then it all went south! My follies were growing too big too quickly, to slow the process the amount I was injecting was reduced and as such they stopped growing all together. Our cycle was abandoned and I was heartbroken.

Our second cycle I was THE most negative person ever I was like Janet Street Porter, in my eyes it wasn’t going to work so why the frigging hell am I putting my body through this again. The cycle was successful we got to egg collection, egg transfer and had the dreaded two-week wait. But then it all went wrong again, I ended up with moderate over hyper stimulation syndrome, fluid on my lungs and was admitted to hospital. The cycled ended in a positive pregnancy test, but I was so ill I couldn’t process the whole thing. But eventually we ended with our most precious two miracle babies.

So join me this week to learn about my story the highs, the lows, the emotion toll, the physical toll, hear my advice and what I wish I had changed. I’m going to talk about injecting and how to overcome that first injection, im going to talk about egg collection, egg transfer, OHSS, lasting the two-week wait and how not to lose your sanity through this crazy journey. Now im most definitely not an expert or a doctor and I can’t give you a baby (sadly) these are just my experiences and my personal tips that worked for me. So take them with a pinch of salt…actually not salt cut that from your diet!

 

Enjoy reading

Love Nicola x

I’m sorry did you say twins?

“I’m sorry did you, did you say, errr twins?” Was the bewildered cry from my husband when the nurse announced the two heartbeats belongs to twins.

Five weeks earlier my husband and I had our early reassurance scan which you have when conceiving through IVF and were totally overjoyed to see a teeny heartbeat and a little “blob” that was our baby, the baby we had been trying five years for. Having been diagnosed with endometriosis aged 23 and polycystic ovarian syndrome we were unable to have a baby naturally and needed a little help, we were eligible for IVF. We went through two years of IVF and finally had made it to the egg transfer where only one embryo was placed back in. We had our first scan at seven weeks and came away completely in love with this one little “blob” and our scan picture was proudly shown to anyone that would look! We started to fantasize about our single baby, was it boy or girl, pink or blue? What pram would we buy? Excitedly looking on Pintrest every night, pinning a million nursery inspo ideas.

edf
single baby

Fast forward five weeks, I’m laying on the couch in the hospital all excited to see how much our little “blob” has grown, husband eagerly sat by my side. The nurse starts scanning and confirms the pregnancy, “everything looks perfect” she says reassuringly “I will start measuring once I have traced the heartbeats”. Sounds normal to me (obviously I have no idea this is our first pregnancy) so the nurse proceeded to trace the heartbeats. “The heartbeats sound perfect, good and strong”

dropbox pic
twin scan

Heartbeats? Heartbeats as in plural, meaning more than one heartbeat? I lay there while the nurse continued to scan for what felt like an eternity, she was chatting away and still to this day I have no idea what she was saying to me. Instead I was lying there having a conversation with myself in my head! “Did she say two heartbeats? Clearly that means my heartbeat and the baby’s heartbeat. There was only one baby five weeks ago so she must mean my heartbeat and the baby’s. No Nicola you’re been totally stupid don’t ask you will look a fool. Well I kinda need to know I should really ask what she means by two heartbeats”. Meanwhile my husband is sat watching the screen having all the same thoughts as me totally confused. So I plucked up the courage and asked “so you know when your say two heartbeats is that my heartbeat and the baby’s heartbeat?” This was met with a laugh, like a laugh of total disbelief that I had even asked that question (my Friends moment for the Friends fans out there) and then the nurse replied “no the twins heartbeats!”

Queue my husband stumbling over his words like a man with a stammer interrogating the nurse “twins sorry did you say twins?” Both of us sat there in complete shock. The nurse replied with a shocked response “what you didn’t know?” NO WE DID NOT KNOW! That’s when the scan descended into a blur; the nurse was completely bamboozled telling us she had never in her career had this happen to her. I started to tell her that there was definitely only one baby, one! At the seven week scan and that there was only one embryo put in so where the hell has this other baby come from? How could this happen? Hubby by this time had gone all hot and flush, had lost the ability to talk and actually needed water off one of the zillion nurses that had been rushed into the room. I on the other hand was in a fit of hysterical nervous laughter, laughing so hard my belly was wobbling and the nurse couldn’t continue scanning.

A consultant was brought in to double-check as the nurse pronounced “right lets all calm down read your notes from the seven week scan and I will get a consultant to scan you to check I’m not seeing things” The consultant scanned and confirmed, yes two heartbeats, yes two babies. Two freaking babies in my belly? Holy smokes. All our notes were checked and the previous scan confirmed only one baby so how had this happened? Well after a two-hour scan it became clear that the single embryo from seven weeks, had decided that it didn’t much like been alone and well kinda decided to split extremely late to form an identical sibling. So our babies were sitting there in my belly, sharing a placenta 100% identical. A rare type of twins called MCDA that would put us all at high risk throughout the pregnancy both the consultant and various nurses had never seen it happen before so we were like a walking freak show.

After hours of being scanned and checked my hubby and I left the scan room completely in shock. It didn’t feel real I honestly felt like Ant and Dec were going to come out and it had all been a hoax but the scan pictures in my hand were proof YES I was having twin babies. I just couldn’t wait to tell family and friends but no one believed us. After telling family we were pregnant and having one baby to now telling them “oh sorry they got it wrong we are now having twins” you can kinda understand why no one believed us. We couldn’t function for a few hours hubby needed a drink and I, well I took the shock out on the biggest bar of chocolate known to man, in absence of not being allowed wine! So all our plans had changed and after a few days of walking around in a bubble it actually hit me and hubby. And the usual twin parent questions hit us. How are we going to be able to afford it? How are we going to cope? The house isn’t big enough, car…we need a bigger car!

But amidst all the panic I was sitting on cloud nine, I had gone from a failed IVF cycle and thinking I would never have children to been totally blessed to have two little miracles growing inside me. And instantly I loved those two tiny little humans more than I ever knew possible and nothing much else mattered. I was having twins, double trouble, twice the fun and I was ready to take on this role of “twin mumma” with all my energy.

“Single parents alone together”

“Single parents alone together all for one and one for all!” For those of you that have watched About A Boy you will understand the scene I’m setting, for those of you that haven’t you really should its bloody hilarious! This is what I had pictured in my head for my first experience at “Mum group” a bunch of multi-coloured felt wearing, breastfeeding, eco nappy promoting Mum’s.

It’s a weird thing you become a Mum and suddenly are expected to go to these groups with other Mums to talk about babies and breast feeding. So I went nervously on my way to my first Mum class, quaintly named “Mum’s village club” I didn’t know anyone I just saw the poster on the board of our local village hall and like most new Mum’s felt obliged to go. I walked in pram in hand constantly singing in my head “single parents alone together” and was greeted by a sea of Cath Kidston wearing late thirty early forty-year olds. I expected them to be friendly but only one lady came over to introduce herself, so I stuck to her like a clampit.

There was tea on the side and a plate of biscuits and all the Mum’s seemed to be just standing in their own little groups chatting to each other. A few Mum’s started talking to me, well I say talking I mean interrogating me. I looked young, was I a single parent? Well no, I think the wedding ring on my left hand says otherwise however the fact my husband was away in the army was a subject of huge debate for them. I carried on chatting and trying to fit into their conversations realising I had totally nothing in common with these ladies. I looked around and realised I also wasn’t suitably dressed for the occasion wearing a summer dress and converse, tattoos and nose ring to boot! Each one of these Mums was wearing exactly the same bloody thing a uniform of Joules striped top, a floral scarf topped off with the compulsory Cath Kidston Satchel. I didn’t realise when you became a Mum there was a suitable dress code, I seemed to miss that memo I also didn’t age twenty years and forget all my fashion sense, but now I’m just ranting.

It was like some weird army and I was trying to pass the initiation test, to get into the inner circle. I was asked what job I did, how old I was, did I own my own home really intimate questions, but all asked in a creepily friendly way that made you openly answer these questions like I was on “An audience with”

The Mum’s talked about breastfeeding for what felt like an eternity seriously how much can you talk about mastitis? They discussed eco nappys, nearly all of them were vegan, clearly me sitting eating my way through a plate of chocolate hobnobs while bottle feeding my twins didn’t go down too well. When talking about their babies routines I was met with grasped horror like some canned audience on an episode of Friends when I revealed my twin girls are sleeping in their own bedroom in separate cots at the age of thirteen weeks. I sat totally bamboozled wondering how I was going to make my escape and get back into the real world.

Finally the “Mums” club started to come to an end by now I had learnt what attachment parenting is, why its important to breastfeed, what supplements I should be taking to produce more breast milk and had been handed the recipe for a vegan cheesecake. I made a hasty retreat back home sat down in my rented home and had a non vegan cup of tea.

But it made me think the way society sees Mum’s as if we should all fit in this perfect little Stepford wives box, we should all dress the same and have the same values just because your now responsible for a tiny human. Well I for one am not that stereotypical Mum, yes I have tattoos, no I can’t stand Cath Kidston (no offence Cath your just not my type) and my entire wardrobe isn’t based around Joules. Yes I don’t own my own home, I don’t have a dresser full of Emma Bridgewater, I don’t have the latest “Yummy Mummy” cupcake nappy bag and I don’t have a Ford Cmax parked on the drive but that doesnt make me any less of a Mum, It dosnt mean my girls are being dragged up. It makes me a real Mum, a Mum that is true to who she is, who dosnt follow convention and is happily not a bloody vegan!