Big Girl Bed: The Aftermath. 

The prelude to this post is that I have recently ruined my life by introducing my nearly 2 year old to a “big girl bed”. In non public forums I am referring to it by a slightly longer, less family-friendly name involving all the swear words. 

After 3 days, 4 beds, gallons of tears and a fair amount of post-bedtime alcohol, the big girl bed is in pieces in the loft (not a pile of ashes in the back garden as I would like), the cot is standing empty in her bedroom, the new baby is in a co sleeper (with the co sleepy bit resolutely zipped up, as it shall stay) and The Queen is finally sleeping (of sorts) in a big girl bed (of sorts) – the enormous double bed in her room.
In theory I know that being nearly 2 is a confusing, scary, frustrating time and it’s my job to guide her smoothly through this transition year from baby to child with empathy, compassion and understanding. This afternoon I was feeling especially resolute (helped by the blissful silence of both kids being asleep in the back of the car as I drifted home through pretty Christmassy villages in the dark). I decided that tonight I would take some advice from an article I’d read the previous night at 4am whilst I winded the baby. It’s main message was that when you’re stressed, you should think “only love today”. That, and the old favourite, the phrase thrown out there like an agitation grenade by smug parents of older kids “it goes so fast, you won’t get this time again”. A phrase that frankly, when you’re watching peas get thrown across the kitchen by the handful and a screaming toddler running naked away from you when you were meant to be at a swimming lesson 5 minutes ago only warrants the answer “GOOD!”.
Anyway, in my resolute state, feeling loving and Christmassy, I decide yes, I will try it out this very night! I get both kids into the house and decide to treat myself to a trip to the loo whilst they were both calm. As soon as the baby was put down he began crying and the toddler tries to pry me off the loo to look inside it whilst repeatedly informing me that the baby is crying. As soon as the baby is fed, he switches from crying to screaming and the toddler starts asking for a snack (to those unfamiliar with it, a toddler asking for a snack goes like this: “snack mummy snack, snack, mummy get snack, mummy, mummy? MUMMY? Snack mummy! Mummy I need snack please! PLEASE! Snack mummy, SNACK please, I want snack, make snack now mummy, mummy make it snack, make it snack mummy!…”). It was to this soundtrack that I picked up a message from my husband informing me that his client wanted to stay for another drink so he’d miss the bedtime train. Bitterly sarcastic reply and soundclip of the little darlings losing their sh*t sent in reply to hubby, I make the damn snack and set toddler down in front of the safest show on earth, In The Night Garden. This buys me the respite I need to wind the baby, prepare 2 bedtime milks, pyjamas, bath and put the baby to bed. Just as the baby is off to sleep, the toddler is running upstairs in floods of terrified tears. Apparently in the night garden was “too scary”.
Toddler bath accomplished, story read, and still resolute in my “only love today” bedtime, I sit with the toddler in her enormous double bed as she turns straight over and falls peacefully asleep.
The End.
Of course that is NOT what f*cking happened.
We talked for 25 minutes about the “scary man” on “Iggle Piggle”. “Scary man go way!” “Scary man! Ooh too scary!” “Mummy say scary man, not real!” “Scary man” “I not watch Iggle Piggle any mo’!” “Go ‘way scary man!” “Ooh scary!” “Go ‘way!” “Not real scary man”. For F*CKS sake I am going to write to those BASTARDS at the BBC first thing in the morning.
Reassurances that mummy would rid the world of the scary man finally accepted, she laid down and closed her eyes. Brilliant.
What was NOT brilliant was that she then found a toy fire engine under her pillow. After repeated attempts to get comfortable whilst hugging a jagged fire engine, who is repeatedly assuring her that “a good fireman is never off duty” she hands it over. It is then that she remembers the scary man on ITNG. “Only love today” I remind myself and I decide to get into the bed with her to offer the ultimate scary man protection.
She then of course needed to decide the most comfortable position in which we should lie together. Would it be for her to hold my hand? No actually, hug, no, my hand on her back, actually no, spoons. No, hugging front to front, me sitting up? No, her sitting up? No, spoons again. No her hair draped entirely across my face. Actually no, her on her back with her doll on top of her with the covers EXACTLY positioned. No, still not right, hard headed doll thrown directly into my face, no covers. Actually covers. No covers. Covers. One leg out. Actually no, both legs out. During this ridiculous episode during which the only definite decision that had been made was that I should lying with no covers, I am silently repeating in my head “only love today”. Although the voice in my head is now crying. She finally decides on a position and goes silent for a good three minutes. It is at that moment that my husband decides to make his entrance by “creeping” up the stairs.
“DADDY! Daddy there! Daddy there mummy, daddy. Daddy on stairs, Daddy there. Mummy! Daddy there. Mummy? Daddy…”
“Time for sleep” is all that I trust myself to say at this point. Maybe it’s the ominous waver in my voice, but unbelievably she yields. And she has chosen a new position. Lying ON my head as though it were a pillow. Aaah, “you never get these f*cking moments again” I think to myself as she tries to exactly position our cheeks to her liking. She’s comfortable except for one small issue, which is my ear. Apparently it’s not the most comfortable to lie on. So let’s just move it, oh it won’t brush away. Let’s try again, no. Ok how about doll on mummy’s head, then me. Yes that’s better.
At this point I am thinking many things. Shall we play a game?
Which do you think I was thinking? Tick all that apply:
a) This experiment has worked well, maybe I will do this again tomorrow!
b) I will never get this time again
c) Only love today ❤️
d) F*ck this f*cking SHIT
She eventually went to sleep. I moved. She got me in a head lock. After 5 minutes I moved again “NO MUMMY!”. I jumped out and sat next to the bed going “shhhhhhh”. 5 more minutes and I moved again half way to standing. She was still asleep. My ankle cracked, her eyes opened. I sat down again.
The call of the alcohol downstairs and the image of my husband reclining comfortably in front of the TV eating crisps spurred me on. Yes reader, in desperation I slithered to the floor and commando crawled out of the room.
So, no, I will not be trying this method again.
And if anyone in the near future decides to tell me that I will “never get this time again”, I will simply smile and package it up in my box. “The box”. The box marked repressed rage. That’s the British way. It’s totally safe. Totally. Just a word of advice. If you ever see a sensible looking family car with 2 child seats in the back, for the love of God, don’t ever cut them up. And if you do, just drive away.
Drive away and don’t look back.
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The last 2 weeks of pregnancy number 2, in stages. 

Sheer physical enormity…

Breasts rest on belly, belly rests on thighs, thighs spread to fill any flat surface unfortunate enough to be bearing my considerable heft.

I now walk with the gait of The Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.

Weirdly mobile joints make standing up more of an exercise in trying not to look like a weeble.

Due to the unfamiliarly large volume I now take up, my belly bumps into everything and everyone, gets spilled on, wet from standing too close to sinks, grazed regularly by things like toilet cubicle doors (manoeuvring into those has now become a fifteen-time-a-day chore) and gesticulated into by colleagues.

Rage glorious rage…
My all pregnancy-long even temperament this time around has been lovely, I’ve floated around, donut in hand feeling accepting of others and unusually tolerant. I’ve let things wash over me at work, showed understanding and empathy when people have muscled in front of me on the tube and generally had a long fuse.
Over the past week my hormones have undergone the “two weeks to go” change and the main symptom is that I now take extreme pleasure from fantasising about kicking people down escalators. All I want to do is go through my daily commute screaming in people’s faces and hurting anyone who comes within 12 inches of me, which, because I get the Northern Line, feels like EVERYONE IN LONDON.
The heavily pregnant rage has set in, I have NO fuse and I am scared. I am scared for my poor husband who put a plate in the wrong area of the dishwasher the other night and I am scared for my fellow commuters who don’t realise the danger they are in on a daily basis.
Veering between desperation to go into labour and sheer terror of going into labour…
I know what it involves, I know it hurts like nothing I have ever felt before. It is a kind of inhuman pain that turns normal women into demons. I remember clawing rampantly at the window in the admissions ward the first time around growling in a terrifying, possessed voice “if this window opened I would be jumping out of it, get me drugs, please just give me some drugs!“.
I sit at my desk thinking about this and the fact that I will have two children soon – two. Two children under two.
I shudder inwardly and try to block the images of a toddler tantrum, newborn screaming tag team, supermarket trips from hell and general double death worry that will occupy the next what, 4 years of my life…
The next minute I am googling “how to give yourself a sweep” and scoffing pineapple until my mouth bleeds.

For sale: One Mummy, surplus to requirements (Used, Without tags)

For about 2 years or so now it seems that every waking moment was about my daughter.  “I must eat more grains so the baby develops properly”; “I must eat the right food so my milk is nutritious”; “I must make sure she eats her 5 a day” and so on and so forth, not counting all the other things like cuddling and clothes washing and bathing and putting to sleep.  My life, probably quite rightly, is centred around her.  So I feel entirely justified in being pleased that her world is all about me. When she tripped, she wanted me, when she wanted to play, she wanted me, when she wanted to sleep, she wanted me.  As exhausting and sometimes irritating that was, I was secretly pleased.  But note the use of the past tense here, for things have changed.

A few weeks ago my parents came to look after Hannah while I went to work, and my mum stayed on so that we could go to an exhibition together the next day.  While we were at the exhibition Hannah and her daddy went to see her other grandparents.  Since then, it’s been all about other people- Grandad, Grandma, Daddy, Nanny, the nursery assistant, the bloked over the road- anyone but Mummy.  She stepped up this anti-mummy sentiment a week ago when she had a minor trip to hospital because I was the evil satanist who kept her awake and let the men in the white coats prod at her.

This has, unfortunately, coincided with a renewed passion for the word “no”, which she uses with such feeling and convincing that you know she wants you to feel how totally she means it. This has mostly been directed at me.  I ask her if she wants a cuddle “No!”. And then promptly wanders over to her Daddy for one. I ask her for a kiss. “No”. I ask her if she wants to play “No”. What really took the biscuit for me was when my parents were baby sitting again; I had a really tough day at work and was so looking forward to my cuddle with her, and when she saw me she turned her head away and buried herself in Grandma.  I felt rubbish, and irrationally upset that my daughter “hated” me. I had no idea what I had done wrong and felt really, really hurt. Where was my little girl whose face lights up every time she sees her Mumma????

So there I was, for two weeks, feeling miserable, unloved and wondering what I had done wrong, when she did a little stumble and bumped her head. I was back in the room. The cuddles, the kisses, they were back! Mummy was number one again! “No” became a random word again (sort of )! Hurrah! And then I made the cruel mistake of clipping her nails. I mean what kind of horrible person would want to stop their child from scratching their arms to pieces?  I guess I’ll just have to wait until she trips over again to see how long this phase lasts…..

Lady Luck is real b*tch

Last night, Saturday night, I was walking round my newly installed and decorated  kitchen, getting ready to make our dinner. Thanks to my (genius) subscription to one of those companies for lazy, uninspired people who still want a nice non ready meal of an evening, it came ready measured with a handy recipe card. Basically I was feeling pretty smug. Nice new (tidy for once) house, husband I fancy, cute kid. Life was good. I told my husband and he said “watch it, you know our luck, it can’t last long”. Pessimist. 

Well, today I went shopping for maternity underwear. Needless to say, my bubble burst pretty quickly. It’s certainly a first world problem, but sifting through racks of pants, right to the back, for the pairs which might as well be labelled “sew up the legs and these can also be used as childrens’ sleeping bags!” is pretty soul crushing. And the bras which, at the size I now need, only come in flesh tones…I wanted to cry. When I finally found a huge enough boob-restraining device that didn’t come in “insipid”, I saw with joy a little tag that said “comes with matching bottoms”. Which turned out to be Brazilian briefs. Basically the ones that let your butt cheeks just dangle out the bottom. I threw them down in horror. I mean seriously, if you’ve got a rack that uncontrollable, you’re going to be pretty out of proportion if you’ve got a butt that can hold up to those pants. And if you’re in proportion, surely you need a butt restraining device just as sturdy as needed for the top half?
I headed home with my bag of flesh-tones, thankful that my husband was mature and understanding enough to accept that I would now be undressing and showering in the dark for the foreseeable future. 
The first thing he did when I showed him my new breast hammocks was to shout “whheeeeyyyyyyyyyy” and approach me, hands outstretched, to try some sort of jiggling manoeuvre. 
Then he asked if he could put a dart board in the newly decorated “grown-up” spare bedroom room. “Right there” he pointed “Above the feature fireplace”. 
I suggested an anatomical location for the dartboard and went to console myself in the kitchen, with some food to aid the rapid expansion of my booty, suppressing a vengeful cackle that I knew that tonight’s dinner-in-a-box involved quinoa, lentils and just a teeny spoonful of meat. 
Then I bit into a chewy sweet and my root canal fell out. 
Damn you lady luck. Damn you all the way to the damn dentist and back. 

On synthetic babies

This morning, I got up at 4.30am.  Not because my baby was crying, but because I had to go abroad for work (when I say abroad I mean Brussels, but “abroad” sounds more glamorous).  I felt like I did going to work on a Monday when I was 25 – way too tired, not rested, and looking like a zombie.  Meanwhile, my girl was fast asleep dreaming of Iggle Piggle and Peppa Pig, having spent the evening before tearing around the living room as if it was some kind of baby/toddler/army training course.  A real baby, doing real things, just as she is supposed to. “Mumma”, meanwhile, like many other working mothers, just had to get on with it!

I digress. About a month ago I read the furore about synthetic babies and Dolce and Gabanna and how Dolce (not that there is anything “dolce” about him) thought that babies born through IVF were synthetic and how homosexual couples shouldn’t have children. I was on holiday and had had a wonderful day with my family, but it made me cry.  Now I know that’s a bit of a paraphrasing frenzy and that I am “prone to emotion” but if he doesn’t feel the need to be careful about his choice of words then neither do I.  So I say, the man is an *rsehole. I know that his main point was about same-sex couples but, though I think that point was in itself ridiculous, he also belittled the love and purity that all IVF families share. The broader point I want to make is that babies who are born through IVF or whatever means are still babies, and that parents are still parents, in whatever form they take – 2 Dads, 1 Mum, an older brother, an Auntie, a step mum and a Dad, a Grandma (obviously not all IVF – it would be a bit odd if your IVF Mum was actually your sister)…. who cares what the formulation is as long as the child is loved and cared for?

That has, so far, been the only ever time that someone in society has ever tried to make Hannah different because of the way that she came into the world.  The only time.  When I was pregnant I was worried what the Church would think.  All the Church cared about was how wonderful it was that a baby was about to be welcomed into the world.  I was worried about what my friends would think.  All my friends thought was how wonderful it was that I was finally carrying a baby to term. I was worried about what my family would think.  All they cared about was that it would actually work.  Noone cares now about how Hannah came in to the world because it isn’t relevant.  So Dolce and Gabbana will never be relevant to me.

Let me be clear.  IVF is hard.  It’s hard and it’s hard for anyone doing it.  You don’t choose IVF to be fashionable – you generally choose it because you are desperate and because you have a primal urge to be a parent and to love a child that is your own. For the lucky ones, you get a baby at the end of it.  And that baby will puke.  It will wee, it will poo, it will eat, it will sometimes sleep. It will make you feel like a crushed snail one moment and like you are on top of the world the next.  It is a real baby and it will have real parents who will sort all of that stuff out because they love it.

Hannah might be our only child.  I hope we have more but for us and thousands of other people “natural conception” isn’t an option. That doesn’t mean we and they shouldn’t be parents and it certainly doesn’t mean that IVF babies are lesser people in some way. Thank Goodness – thank God (and I don’t say that lightly) – for IVF.  Thank God that there are parents in the world who will bring children up with love and care irrespective of their gender preferences.  I will never be able to afford Dolce and Gabbana and though it sounds cliche to say it I don’t care because I have all the riches in the world already. And, for the record, I know that I have probably spelled Dolce and Gabbana incorrectly, but since they don’t care about me, out of spite I didn’t check the spelling of Gabbana.  We’re blessed.  My perfect little little girl, fast asleep in her bed. She’ll be awake at 6.30am, smiling and wanting some banana and a cuddle. Nothing synthetic about that.  Nothing synthetic at all.

The right side of 30?

I was in my new office last week, where I sit on a bank of desks with 3 other women. I thought, maybe (ambitiously) we were all around the same age…until I got to know them a little better and realised I was simply the wrong side of 30 to join in with their banter. 

The “fittest guy in the office” discussion left me cold when I realised the person they were referring to was a teenage looking boy I had actual maternal feelings towards.

I’m simply no longer attracted to slightly scruffy, slender hipped, chest hairless man-boys with directional hair. Bring me that roughty-toughty bloke nudging 40 that’s digging up the road out there and I’d be putty in his big ol’ man-hands. 
The flat, leather hush-puppy style shoes all of them were wearing, and discussing breaking in techniques for are apparently now must-have fashion items. My dad used to wear them in brown, and whilst I coveted Kickers for school, I was forced instead, into these, heinous calf thickening clodhoppers. I detested them with every fibre of my being and, like navy cardigans, duffel coats and other school uniform items from the 80s, I wouldn’t be seen dead in them now.
Leather satchels complete with name tag holder on the front: see above. Had one, coveted a Nike backpack and will never let a satchel darken my doorstep again. 
Friday rolled around and the 3pm Spotify playlist was put on. A “Requests please” chat window popped up on my screen. “Great!” I thought but I decided to hold back to sense the tone before diving in with some Friday afternoon classics of my own. I’d been burnt whilst working at TimeOut London where the music was all by bands I’d never even heard of and my music choices were reserved for times when everyone needed a good belly laugh. Luckily here the music was recognisable and my request went down well, however it sparked a discussion about what it reminded everyone of. For me it was my first year in London as a working girl of 22. For the majority of the office it was the first years of junior school and for one it was “when I was 8”. To quote my TimeOut colleagues “*facepalm*”. 
They all went to get ready for the night ahead in outfits stashed under their desks and came out in a bronzed haze of perfume and eyelashes in metallic shorts-over-tights, culottes and all manner of outfits that I clearly missed the fashion update on. I squeezed my pudgy, pregnant feet into my commuting flats and headed home to my family where my outfit for the evening was pyjama bottoms and comfy slippers and my company was my roughty-toughty husband whose man-hands were deftly managing a BBQ. 
Surely right side of 30 is the side where I wake up on Saturday morning, complete many productive tasks before breakfast time and am ready and out of the door by 9am? But any smugness is ruined for, due to the wonder that is pregnancy, I bet I feel more bloated, nauseated and have a far worse headache than the ones still in bed at noon. *facepalm*

Clothing a pregnant Inbetweener 

Yes you’re past the 12 week mark and you can tell people you’re expecting – but there’s this awkward period around 14-18 weeks when you have what, to you, is a “mini bump” but if you’re like me, you also have a layer of “storage” everywhere else, thus making the “bump” less obvious. Now, this is annoying for 2 reasons. Firstly, you have probably grown out of all your pre pregnancy clothes (if not, get the hell outta here!) but you are not yet big enough for your uber preggers gear. You’re definitely not yet at the stage of “Im so enormous I don’t give a Buxton what I wear as long as it covers me” and you’re possibly still at the grasping at straws “I can probably still wear these bigger jeans in the back of my wardrobe…I’m pulling…I’m pulling…I’m…doing…up…the…button. I’m in! I’M IN! Er…they’re ripping…aaaaand I’m crying. Again.” stage. 

So here’s the dilemma, what do you use to cover your ass for the next month or so until your belly looks like a bonafide baby bump and less “is it bloat? Is it a bad outfit? Do I give up my seat to her or am I risking a punch in the throat?”. 
Well today I went shopping for that very outfit. In my case it also needs to say “thank you for giving me a job for six months you glorious people, I promise I haven’t forgotten everything  I ever knew about how to do it and I definitely promise I haven’t got that sexist “baby brain” thing which makes you act like an uber moron. Oh and sorry I was late, I forgot my laptop and had to go back for it and then I got the wrong train…ha ha”. 
So, with the toddler at a 2 hour settling in session with her babysitter, and my incredibly specific outfit in mind, I ran (really) to the only shop on my high street which stocks maternity clothes and started searching (through the 2 solitary rails hidden in the corner on an entirely different floor to the women’s clothes). 
My choices were “Fashionable Cool Pregnant Woman”: khaki skinny biker jeans with knee ridges, tight belly hugging jumpers with see-through lace panels, patterned parachute pants, shorts (SHORTS!!) and bodycon dresses. 
After a quick flick through that rail, becoming more and more horrified as as I progressed (SHORTS?!) I swiftly headed towards my rail which I entitled “Fine! I’ve Completely Given Up”: black leggings that go up to your chin, huge jumpers, huge t shirts, huge dresses, huge bras, huge tights and huge knickers. 
I put them all in my basket and huffed to the till. The young, fashionable man at the till painstakingly folded each item, getting to the huge bras and huge pants and taking extra care to shake out their full volume and fold them out as one would a duvet cover. 
The whole sorry episode left me so disheartened that I did the only thing left to do. I went home, put on one of the massive outfits (oh the comfort!), ate an entire jar of pickled onions and nursed my indigestion through two episodes of one born every minute. 

Performance Review 2014/15

Last Thursday I had my performance review, and earlier in the week I did those for the people I manage. It occurred to me that I also manage my baby, and that she should not be excluded from the process, so here’s her review.

Hannah has had a successful year at being a baby, having met or exceeded the majority of her objectives. These have included being cute, walking, eating solids and growing teeth. She has also met the objective concerning sleep however there is room for improvement in this area. She has also given added value to her job by being a highly competent entertainer.  Feedback from stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive; Nanny and Grandad have been impressed by her cuteness and trampoline bouncing, Grandma and Grandad agree that she is cute and funny (although Grandma did note a number of smelly nappies), and the nursery staff have all noted the strength of her eating capabilities. The nurse, however, did note that she is under confident when it comes to injections and Daddy has recommended sleep at weekends as an area for improvement. Mummy also noted her disappointment at a recent milk vomiting incident although it must be underlined that this arose because of Hannah’s attempt to make Mummy laugh instead of going to sleep.

Specific deliverables have included walking early – a significant achievement- growing 8 teeth on time and managing the complex milk to solids project. She has also successfully negotiated the stairs and has knocked down a number of towers made with stacking cups. At the mid year review stage I noted a lack of confidence with her toy frog however she has overcome this and I am pleased to say that she now tries to feed him milk in the mornings.

Hannah should be proud of her achievements this year and I believe she will attain a high position in the performance/achievement ladder of her peers.

Here comes number 2…

I vowed that the next time I was pregnant I wasn’t going to stuff my face like I did the first time. I guess I lied. 

See I’d forgotten why I did it the first time – I’m a sick eater. Car sickness, hangovers, seeing something really gross, my body interprets this as a need for huge quantities of food. Since I feel sick from the moment I open my eyes until the moment I go to bed all I do is eat the hell through it. It’s a hunger unlike any other, a bottomless pit, a gnawing ravenous feeling that takes over my mind and causes me to fantasise about foods until I quite literally have to source them, purchase them and devour them. For a day in my 7th week this food was tangerines. I ate 2 bags. I though “jackpot! I’m going to be one of those freak bitches who craves fruit and vegetables”. No. 

The next day it was kitkats and the day after it was cheesy puffs. It’s like they just pop into my head and my brain gets hold of them and plays a little loop of “eat me, eat me, eat me” until I get trance like into the car. I know I should tell my brain who’s boss but frankly, I can’t be bothered feeling sick all day by eating things I don’t really want. 
Today it’s baked potatoes. And that’s what the hungerometer finally settled on in my first pregnancy. I ate hundreds of them. They saw me through til the very end. “Baked potatoes are ok!” I hear you say. Not when you have one for an afternoon snack and 2 for dinner. Today’s were the size of my head. I also used half a tub of anchor spreadable on them. And I have a confession to make. Whilst I was waiting for them to bake I had a hot cross bun (sodden with butter) and I have another confession to make, whilst I was waiting for that to toast, I had a Kitkat and a packet of crisps. Ok I had 2 packs. 
OK, 3. 
I’m a healthy weight when I’m not pregnant and I know (think/hope) I’ll go back to normal afterwards, so for now, I’m just going with it. Tomorrow I am going to the supermarket to buy a sack of potatoes and a vat of butter. Here comes the fatness. 
And a note to any preggers thinking of posting pregnancy “healthy meal updates” with pictures of your slender arms clutching a bowl of kale and fruit: I will cyber bully you. 

New mums and pregnant women are annoying

I won’t be joining NCT again because new mums and pregnant women are annoying. 
Ok hear me out, hear me out. You know how annoying I sound to you, mum of two? Or you, mum of a 5, 10 and 13 year old? Yeah, well I know that now because I now know my place in the mum hierarchy (and there is definitely a hierarchy). Most higher-up mums nod kindly when you’re bleating on about teething or sleeping or whatever insignificant crap you’re on about. They kindly listen, and offer advice only when explicitly asked, they make the right faces and sympathise at the right times but what they’re really thinking is what the other higher-up mums actually SAY which is “just you wait!” or “that is nothing compared to XYZ” or “try having three under three” or “awww, I remember that stage” or “YOU ARE SO EFFING CLUELESS, GO AWAY!”. 
Most higher-up mums don’t ram it down your throat in a “know your place!” kinda way. But some do. And now I completely understand why.
My 14 month old didn’t sleep a wink, A WINK, last night. She had a raging temperature, couldn’t drink anything without throwing up and made a constant “uuuuuuuggggghhhhhh, uuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhhh” noise ALL NIGHT and has been doing it ALL DAY today so far. Now, there will be mums at a similar mum grade to me reading this who will be nodding sagely and thinking “it’s hard isn’t it?” and higher mums reading this who are yelling “I HAVE THREE UNDER THREE WITH CHICKEN POX, BITCH!”. They probably won’t read my whiffling navel gazing mum of one trifles any more, which is good because anger is an unhelpful emotion and leads mums of three under three to start secretly daytime drinking in the under-stairs cupboard. 
In the same vein, I won’t be joining NCT again for my second baby as I thought I would. I moved towns and thought that when I got pregnant again I’d try to recreate my long lost NCT group in my new town – but I just can’t. I can’t sit there and listen to all the first time preggers talking about birth pools and natural labour and hypnobirthing and saying things like “I heard Pethidine is like giving your baby heroine” and “Epidurals are the work of Satan” and “I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t breast feed, it’s just so selfish” and “tee hee is it true that I might pooh during labour? Eek! I really don’t want to!”
I’d just have to sit in silence the entire time for fear of blurting out things like “I guarantee that NONE of you bitches will give birth in a pool!” And “you will probably ALL crap the delivery table but you won’t care!” and “Most of you will end up having the baby heroine AND Satan’s needle because newsflash wazzocks – IT REALLY REALLY HURTS”. And “don’t come crying to me because you’ve decided you ONLY want to breast feed and your baby is awake crying every two hours because I will be combination feeding for that VERY reason” 
I’ll still tow the line when I encounter a new mum, I’ll still edit my birth story for first time preggers and nod encouragingly when they say they’re going for a natural birth. I’ll be like the kind higher-up mums were to me and I promise NEVER to belittle what they’re going through for the first time by one-upping them. 
But one thing I will tell them is something a friend warned me about: your first post-baby period. Because I don’t care where you are in the hierarchy, no one needs to get caught out by that. In fact I won’t tell them anything, I’ll just show them the same picture that my friend showed me.