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August 2015

23 things I never did before I had a baby

1. Sway.

2. Sway while holding my baby.

3. Sway while not holding my baby.

4. Sway while holding distinctly un-baby items, like my phone.

5. Be able to identify other parents in public, even when no babies are present, from how they’re swaying when they should be standing still.

6. Unwittingly match their swaying rhythm until we’re just two idiot strangers swaying at each other in the queue in Tesco Express.

7. Leggings as trousers – and not maternity ones. Lordy, what a revelation. JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED.

8. Really appreciate the word “enough”.  As in, “clean enough not to poison my child” (Sophie la Giraffe, floor of Starbucks, 20 seconds), “slept enough not to be a danger to myself or others” (three plus hours), or “enough wine to take the edge off without giving my son a hangover via my breastmilk” (one large glass of Pinot).

9. Do so many things one-handed while calming a baby – like online banking, or eating a three-course meal.

10. Miss so many friend conversations. I live about an hour and a half away from most of my friends, so I really should be more diligent. But someone will text me a question while I’m changing a nappy, then I’ll have to feed the baby, then I might need to clean, then we might need to go out, then I might need to do some work, and then several days later I’ll emerge from babywrangling and realise I haven’t replied – not because I don’t care – but because I’m mired deep in early motherhood. Sorry, friends. I will do better.

11. Realise that I somehow know all the words to the Home & Away theme tune, and sing my son to sleep with it.

12. Reappropriate theme tunes in general for my son. For example, New Girl (“Who’s that Herbie / Who’s that Herbie / It’s Herbie”), and The Affair (“I have only one thing to do and that’s / be a tiny baby and / do a poo in my nappy.”)

13. Hum in public.

14. Ambiently say things like “right then” or “let’s go” when leaving a shop.

15. Walk two miles uphill with an 18lb monster strapped to my front like it’s no thing (and by “no thing” I mean “constantly go on about it, and what a hero I am, and how under all this chub I now have abs of steel, of steel, and then pass out”).

16. Shout “SNAP!” at some poor woman in the street just because we have the same pram, and genuinely make her fear for her life for a second.

17. Really, really, really appreciate an afternoon nap like never, ever, ever before.

18. Walk around topless in the evenings. The more tired Herbie gets, the less able he is to navigate through the T-shirt/vest system I have going on when he feeds, so I just take my top off most evenings. After dinner my house is basically like a strip club, but a really shit one with a creche, where the strippers have really let themselves go and are just walking around in their pants, eating spaghetti bolognese.

19. Felt the way about Mrs Crimble’s chocolate macaroons the way some people feel about crack.

20. Become more intolerant. Not in a horrible UKIP way, but now there is an inbuilt sense that my baby comes first, in all sorts of ways. If you look a bit iffy and you approach us in an underpass at night, I will shout at you to stay away and not worry about your feelings. Similarly, I met a woman who said that she didn’t like babies my son’s age because they “just sit there like a lump with no personality, I mean look at him”. This woman is dead now*.

21. Gazed at parents of twins in the street with undisguised awe.

22. Broken down my life into 15-minute bursts while the baby is occupied. Still working on this one.

23. Realise how beautiful all other babies are. For most of my life I didn’t think I wanted children, and was pretty clueless when it came to babies, but now I’m a mother all I see are gorgeous children and brave parents all around me. Well done, humans of Earth.

*To me**.

**And everyone else***.

***Just kidding.

Five ways I trick my boobs into producing more milk

Now, this is blatant blog filler because I’m away on my holidays** and need to get back to slightly-more-hungover-than-usual babywrangling in a slightly-nicer-than-usual location.

That said, I am rubbish at expressing milk into any receptacle other than my son. I have a hand pump. I have an electric pump. I have, er, hands. During a good hour’s boobery (even after massaging them and doing other things that make me feel a bit like my own molester) I can squeeze out a teenth of a millilitre of milk using these methods; it’s pathetic. And yet my son, exclusively breastfed, is fat and bouncing.

Occasionally, though, I can trick my breasts into squirting out the requisite amount to allow me to go to the cinema or dentist now and again. This is how I do it, but if you have any tips, my boobs, and maybe other people’s boobs, would really appreciate it if you shared them in the comments…


1. I browse photos of my son until I cry

Admittedly I do this all the time, and that’s why my phone keeps going STOP THIS THERE IS NO MORE ROOM STOP IT NOW at me. The thing is, if I do it until I cry, eventually my boobs cry, too, and I can capture their tears in a Tommy Tippee cup so I can go and watch Jurassic World and have a cheeky Nando’s once every couple of months. Isn’t nature majestic.

2. I watch this clip of Miracle on 34th Street 

The strangely soft-focus 1990s remake is my unashamed favourite Christmas movie. Here, a deaf little girl goes to see Father Christmas and her mum’s all “oh, you don’t need to talk to her, it’s just enough that she can see you”  and then Kris Kringle asks her what she wants for Christmas in perfect sign language, and oh god. I and my boobs are in floods.

3. I hug my husband

I hug him good and hard until the oxytocin starts flowing, and then I abandon him for the breast pump, like the heartless cow I am.


A video posted by Robyn Wilder Heritage (@orbyn) on

4. I watch this video of my husband and son having a raspberry conversation

I watch it over and over while massaging my boobs which, now I think about it, is super creepy.

5. I listen to this song Dumbo’s mum sings to him when she’s taken away, because apparently I bloody hate myself.

*Inconsolable sobbing, forever*

** Literally an Airbnb in the same county, only closer to the beach.

Guardian commenters and the myth of the perfect parent

Yesterday, in his Guardian Family column, Stuart wrote about a day when he had to take over primary parenting duties because I was laid up with a migraine, and how it wasn’t a barrel of laughs.

I thought it was a particularly sweet piece, but somehow it attracted 400-odd dementedly outraged comments that often dripped with condescension and outright insult.

Generally, my reaction to comments like this is to read them out gleefully to Stuart over breakfast, because I am a delightful and supportive wife. However, today I feel I should actually address them.

These are approximations of the main offenders (or offending comment trends).

“If you find your baby boring you are a terrible parent and should literally give your baby to someone else.”
Look, I find my baby as charming and curious as Paul Rudd with a magnifying glass, but spending an afternoon watching him hit himself on the head with a plastic toy while waiting for a laundry cycle to finish is not my idea of thrilling, either.

Of course I play with him, and sing to him, and gaze at him for hours, marvelling at every single hair on his head, and the fact that he’s here and he’s ours – we both do – but we all have our limits.

You may have a neverending well of fascination for your children, and good on you if so, but being so histrionically judgmental about other parents reeks of arseholery. We’re doing our best just as you are.

“You need to spend more time with your baby.
Well, it’s lucky Stuart gave these commenters our schedule, because how else could they fairly decide whether he spends enough him with our son? For the record, when he’s not working the first thing Stuart does is offer to take Herbie. Good thing, too, or I would be perennially unshowered.

“How could you have been bored? Why didn’t you take your baby to the park or to a baby group? Your wife would have.”
Firstly, I am Herbie’s food source, even with a migraine, so short of dragging me along, all pukey and photophobic, Stuart was a bit tied to the house. Secondly, woe betide Stuart for not preternaturally knowing where the nearest mother-and-baby group was and what time it ran, and thirdly, just fuck off. We’ve all had days where we’re stuck inside with a baby, whether it’s down to weather or illness or sheer dive-into-Netflix knackeredness. I might not have gone out with the baby, in fact. I suppose that makes me an awful parent, too.

“Your wife could deal with it because she HAD NO CHOICE. Society expects it of her, you chauvinist, not like you in your IVORY TOWER OF AN OFFICE.”
Er, I didn’t accidentally poo out a child then discover that I’d been manacled to the stove for a year. I had plenty of choice. I chose to have a baby. I chose to take a long maternity leave and do the largesse of the parenting while Stuart did most of the breadwinning. Thanks for all the empowerment, though.

“Boring? You don’t know what boring is, at least you don’t have to cope with your partner having post-natal depression.”
Actually, despite your assumptions I do have PND, and Stuart does have to cope with it. At least now your own partner knows that you don’t find her mental health very stimulating.

“Your wife sometimes feeling insecure about her parenting skills will result in your child growing up skittish and emotionally damaged.”
THIS IS MY FAVOURITE TYPE OF COMMENT. On behalf of new mothers everywhere who sometimes need reassurance that they’re doing an okay job, thank you for your kind words.

“Your praising your wife for taking naturally to parenting is sexist.”
Yes, and my making Stuart a cup of tea is racist, and if I ever tell anyone they look nice it’s basically terrorism.

“Only boring people are bored.”
Au contraire.

Tl;dr Stuart wrote a column, the comments went nuts, Herbie’s face sums up my feelings on the matter:

Snoob reviewb: a decent breastfeeding scarf

Full disclosure: I was sent this Snoob for free.

With apologies to Full Metal Jacket, this is my Snoob. There are many like it but this one is mine. My Snoob is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. Without me it is useless. Without it I am useless.

Before I got my Snoob, breastfeeding in public was an exercise in humiliation. While I’m all for municipal nursing in theory, in practice I am extraordinarily awkward and really only recently managed to be okay with taking a poo in the same postcode as other people, so whipping out my norks willy-nilly in Starbucks has been a steep learning curve.

And Herbie doesn’t help. He is the most active baby I’ve ever met (admittedly I only know, like, two other babies), and unlike those docile creatures who quietly fold up under your arm and suckle peacefully in your arms, Herb’s preferred breastfeeding MO is to nurse intermittently while roaring into the sky and flailing his limbs about as though he’s playing an invisible one-man-band kit.

Which is lovely.

And the more discreet I try to be, the more Animal-from-The-Muppets he gets. He kicks at my shoulder. He yanks on my T-shirt and tries to punch my hair clean out of my head. He lurches wildly back and forth as though he’s finally getting out of the welding business and into a modern dance audition.

Enter the Snoob.

The Snoob is basically a roomy snood made of lightweight cotton jersey. You can wear it draped prettily round your neck, and when you want to breastfeed you can pull it out to its deceptively deep full width – there’s enough material to cover you, your shoulders and most of your baby once they’re latched on.

There’s a bit of shuffling involved as you need to basically manoeuvre a hungry baby into a giant fabric hoop, which doesn’t always go tranquilly, but once they’re on the boob the acres of material actually create a tenting effect, which Herb seems to find less offensive than a bunched-up T-shirt in his face.

Also, you can do all sorts under the private canopy of your Snoob: swap boobs, wind your baby, gossip with your baby about the man sitting opposite you, eat a Snickers bar; all sorts.

Basically I never leave the house without my Snoob now, because it also functions as a baby blanket, sun shade, thingy for Herbie for yank at/twist/gnaw on when we’re on the train, and a shawl/attractive ethnic rain hat for me. It folds up neatly into my changing bag and goes with most of my outfits (although a linen one for summer would be very welcome).

Recently I went into London with Herbie in the carrier and totally underestimated how cold it was. The Snoob was exactly big enough to wear looped around the carrier as a second layer, and when Herbie inevitably kicked off his sock in the middle of Soho I was able to magic up a makeshift foot covering using just a hairband and a corner of the Snoob. Tuddah!

So, the Snoob, £25.00. I am a fan. Yes, you could just get a regular snood, but it wouldn’t cover your baby as well, or be as soft on your baby’s skin.

They come in lots of different colours (mine’s “petrol blue”, but “cloud grey” is my favourite) and once I win the lottery I shall buy them all. BUY THEM ALL, YOU HEAR ME? And then there will be none for you, which sort of renders this review pointless. But anyway, there we go. Snoob!