Mummy Birthdays That Fall During Late-May Half Term Deconstructed: Peppa Pig, Outings to Sainsbury’s, Shoplifting and all

30 May

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Today is my birthday, and in the spirit of my blog post from my birthday last year (2018), I am continuing the tradition of telling the warts-and-all truth about celebrating birthdays as a parent. I follow the general parenting philosophy of it’s *usually* better to see the funny side of things, so here’s how my day went:
07.30 Manhandled out of bed by 6yo
07.35 Wait patiently for any one of my three kiddies to say ‘Happy Birthday Mummy’ and hand me my presents. No one exhibits any interest in Birthday Mummy; Peppa Pig on Daddy (Pig)’s computer has more of a pull apparently.
07.45 Give up waiting patiently. Demand they hand over “surprise” presents I know they’ve bought with Daddy Pig yesterday. Open them with relish. Am given:
a) An ‘Egg House’ (if, like me, you do not know what an egg house is, see photo above)
b) A small cactus in a small mug picturing a small depressed cat (see second photo above)
You can’t fault my children for their originality.
c) Also given home-made cards with various birthday wishes and instructions written on them, e.g. “Mummy may not be bossy on her birthday”.
07.50-12.30 – Breakfast, more breakfast, playing, making Birthday Mummy contort herself working out how to erect a play tent, making a mess, tidying up the mess, let’s get dressed, come and get dressed, I’ll (even) get you dressed, just come here now, Mummy I’m thirsty, Mummy I’m hungry, I want to go out, it’s my birthday, come on let’s get dressed.
12.30 Mummy let’s have lunch before we go out. OK children, come eat this delicious nutritious soup I prepared yesterday. Mummy, I NEED croutons in my soup. OK let’s go to Sainsbury’s.
12.45 Birthday outing number #1: Up and down the aisles of local Sainsbury’s we go. Urgent need presents itself to locate Kinder Eggs. They are found in Aisle #8. What was it we came to Sainsbury’s for again? Oh yes, soup croutons!  Many other non-crouton items have found their way into shopping basket too. Total bill: £23.48.
13.00 Everyone finally eats soup. (Well, two out of three children eat soup, one pronounces the fatal judgement: YUCK.)
13.15-14.00 Black hole zone. Getting ready to go out again. Blur, lots of noise, shoes, lost, jackets, found.
14.00 Right we’re leaving NOW. I don’t care where, we need some fresh air NOWWWWWWWWWWWW.
14.05 Birthday outing #2: Step outside front door. Ominous grey clouds loom over London. IT STARTS TO RAIN at this EXACT PRECISE SPLIT SECOND. You couldn’t have planned it better.
14.15 Find ourselves sheltering in local tube station shivering, waiting for errant Grandmum (Birthday Mummy’s mummy), who’s driven up from out of town, to appear.
15.00 Jump on bus and meet errant Grandmum in rather characterless but somehow appealing shopping centre-cum-entertainment hub down road (at least we’re not getting wet). Grandmum finds us in stationery aisle of Sainsbury’s #2 fiercely negotiating over which packets of felt pens, notepads, pencil cases can be purchased for small people. Small people desire many more items of stationery than big people wish to buy for them.
15.30 Mummy warmly encourages Grandmum to take two older kiddies around shopping centre, so she can flee to café with sleeping toddler in buggy and have quiet hot chocolate. Convinced toddler will awaken just as she settles down with a sigh at table, she gingerly takes first sip of warm sugary drink.
Birthday miracle #1 : Toddler sleeps on.
16.00 6yo calls Mummy on Grandmum’s phone and talks loudly and persuasively (aka ‘shouts’) down phone about his need for a book which costs £20 in bookshop in which he, 4yo sister and Grandma are currently located. Mummy says no.
16.15 Toddler awakens in fiery mood. Swiftly placated with promise of a turn on Peppa Pig ride. Dash to Sainsbury’s to get £1 coins for said ride. 4yo clambers dangerously on top of ride where no child should venture, bashes herself and starts howling.
16.30 Everyone happy again as ride turns around and around, with “Peppa Pig! Peppa Pig! Peppa PIG!!!” crooning in background.
17.00 Everyone’s getting hungry again. Make to leave shopping centre but then 6yo announces he has put £20 disallowed book in basket under buggy. We now have shoplifting scenario. Grandmum firmly walks 6y0 and stolen reading material back to bookshop.
17.10 Finally all squeeze into Grandmum’s too small but very cute mint-green convertible Fiat 500. Mummy and three children sit squashed but relatively happy in back seat (Buggy, not Birthday Mummy, gets to sit in front passenger seat, as Naughty Buggy refuses to fit in tiny Fiat 500 boot) for quite a protracted period of time as Grandmum goes errant again in search of lost mobile phone in large shopping centre. After some time, she returns with new tale of woe: Parking ticket machine has swallowed up her parking ticket.
17.30 Nice lady in kiosk helps Grandmum exit car park with new parking ticket.
18.00 Finally arrive at restaurant for birthday supper.
19.15 Squeeze back into teeny cute iconic Italian vehicle. It’s still grey and gently raining, but this in no way dissuades three over-tired children from clamouring excitedly for Grandmum to open convertible roof. We cruise home with rain gently spitting down on us but enjoying every minute of the ride.
19.45 Daddy Pig (who’s breezily come home from work) comes up trumps and produces some small cute cupcakes which he readies with birthday candles in the kitchen with children. Birthday Mummy comes proudly in, and we all wait for Alexa to start singing Happy Birthday so we can join in. Alexa plays Rock Ballad #3472 by Grace Pollack version Hudson from 1986 and not Happy Birthday. We tell Alexa to shut up and sing Happy Birthday all by ourselves instead. Birthday Mummy enjoys blowing out her candles.
20.30 Children finally go to bed. 6yo says to Mummy, while cuddling her most tenderly: “Mummy I’ve had the best Mummy birthday ever today.”
21.00 Birthday Mummy and Grandmum crash out on couch. Find ourselves singing raucously along to Eighties pop videos on YouTube. Birthday ends with rousing rendition of “It’s the Final Countdown! Dada daa daa, da da da da da, dada daa da daa, dadadadadadadaaa da da da da da da da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

The pressure to bottle feed

22 Dec


Just continuing to update the blog with articles / blog posts I’ve been writing in other places in the last few months. This is another parenting piece, but a serious one this time!

General point: Any pressure on a new mum is WRONG – and this post is in no way a judgement on mums who bottle feed, rather it is an account of my own experience of not being adequately supported in breastfeeding and being repeatedly pushed to switch to formula instead of given the help I needed.

Mums who choose to formula feed routinely talk about how much peer pressure they experience with people around them constantly judging them for not breastfeeding.

But guess what, the opposite experience can also happen. I chose to breastfed but had tremendous difficulty establishing breastfeeding with my first child. Instead of receiving useful support and guidance when I needed it most, I felt attacked on all sides by medical professionals and family members / friends who were all pressurising me to give up breastfeeding and opt for formula instead.

So here’s a blog post I wrote on this subject a couple of months ago for The Motherload, a parenting blogzine I’ve already mentioned I sometimes write for. I was amazed at how many comments this post generated on The Motherload Facebook group, (a popular mum group with 75,000 members) with many other mums sharing similar experiences of feeling pressurised by friends / family members / midwives and other medical professionals to give up breastfeeding at the first hint of any problem and switch to formula instead.

Hope you find it an interesting read:


The Pressure To Bottle Feed

Earlier this month, I watched “Breastfeeding Uncovered”, a documentary that aired on Channel Four in which presenter and new mum Kate Quilton tries to pinpoint why Britain has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world and my memories of my own breastfeeding struggles after my first child was born were vividly reawakened…

Among other lamentable observations (such as how she’s made to feel like a leper for breastfeeding in public), Quilton identifies one key issue which rings very true for my own experience:

She reports how from the minute babies are born in this country, and from the very first sniff of any problem with establishing breastfeeding, many mums describe an immense pressure from medical staff, friends and family to give their baby formula. Instead of new mums being supported to learn how to breastfeed successfully, it seems that many of us are far too quickly pushed into either ‘topping up’ with formula, or else abandoning breastfeeding altogether and switching over to bottle feeding.

Before talking more about my own experience, I want to emphasise that this post is in no way a criticism of women who choose to bottle feed. My concern is about this entirely unhelpful pressure to switch over to formula that mums who wish to breastfeed repeatedly experience.

After my son was born in New York five years ago, I experienced a severe postpartum haemorrhage. This meant that instead of the magical first 24 hours I imagined I’d experience with my long-awaited new baby, I was rushed off to emergency surgery straight after delivery, and then spent the first night in the recovery room, receiving blood transfusions and under constant monitoring. I did not see my baby again until the next afternoon.

This also meant that I missed out on the crucial first 24 hours for establishing breastfeeding. And that contrary to my plans, my son was formula fed for the first 24 hours of his life.

I took it upon myself thereafter to try and make up for lost time and did everything I could to get the breastfeeding going. It was a pretty relentless battle but it was really important to me so I didn’t give up. But with my body weak from the traumatic birth and blood loss, I found that I could not establish a strong milk supply quickly, even with long hours spent cluster feeding.

Given this reality, and knowing that my son was already used to formula due to my absence after his birth, I realised quite quickly that I would have to – at least initially – combine breast / formula feeding.

What I did not expect, however, was the screaming chorus of people all around me trying to persuade me to stop breastfeeding altogether and just give him formula.

For a start, the temptingly easy ready-made formula bottles with their perfectly adaptable teats were constantly offered to me and baby for the couple of days I stayed in the hospital after the difficult birth. Formula was taken as a given by the medical staff at the New York hospital I was in – their question was only how often and how much did I want to give him, not if I wanted to give him formula at all.

No one told me that the more formula I give, the harder it would be to increase my milk supply. They just wanted the baby fed quickly and efficiently.

After coming home, with my ongoing milk supply issue, it felt like a near constant refrain from those around me to ‘just give formula’.  Everyone was at it – doctors and nurses (in the US, unlike in the UK, there were no community midwife visits after birth, instead you take your baby to the paediatrician’s office), family, friends…

What did I need to struggle for when there was this easy alternative staring me in the face? This was the overriding voice I recall from those first few hazy sleep-deprived months.

It would have just been so easy to give in to the pressure. Formula was everywhere, screaming out “DRINK ME”. Especially as for all the time I was struggling, I knew that my baby preferred the formula as he got his fix more quickly. I was constantly questioning my choices and wondering if I had got it all wrong, feeling guilty and anxious. Was I needlessly making my baby suffer?

In the end, it turns out I’m a pretty stubborn mule, and I kept going. With the help of an electric pump, I started expressing five times a day to increase my supply; I learnt everything there was to know about natural supplements to boost milk supply. And thanks to a La Leche League friend, I finally overcame issues with my baby’s latch.

And with all this superhuman effort, after about four or five months of combined feeding, I achieved what seemed like the impossible – an exclusively breastfed baby. It was a wonderful sense of satisfaction.

Since that first-time struggle, I have given birth twice more (in the UK), and have had a positive experience exclusively breastfeeding for over a year both times.

If there is one thing I can conclude based on watching “Breastfeeding Uncovered” and my own story, it is that the whole narrative of health professionals (and our own peers) needs to change in relation to breastfeeding mums – especially if the UK is to tackle its low breastfeeding rates. Let the narrative be about helping new mums who wish to breastfeed make a success of it – and feel confident in their choice – not undermining them or pressurising them to give up.



Meet the women who want to save your life

4 Dec


I have been busy in recent times, doing some freelance writing and editing for a business magazine – a bit out of my comfort zone, but it’s been fun 🙂

I just wanted to come back on the blog to update on a few things I’ve enjoyed writing in the last few months. Today I’ll post about a piece I’m particular proud of writing (and I’ll update with more links in the next few days):

So here’s my feature in the Jewish Chronicle about several inspiring young Jewish women I interviewed with breast cancer or who are carriers of the BRCA gene mutation. These women are doing amazing work raising awareness around the disease.

Here’s a taster of the first few paragraphs of the article. (For the full article, click here ):

Meet the women who want to save your life

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Danielle Stone
Danielle Stone

When Danielle Stone, 32, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she took an unusual step: “I told my friends: ‘I want you to feel my breast, so you know what cancer feels like.’” Her friends were shocked, but grateful. “Now they know what to look out for,” she says.

Stone was diagnosed just one month after giving birth to her first child, daughter Livvi-Rae, now four months old. “I was breastfeeding and felt this lump; I just assumed it was milk-related. Not in a million years did I think it would be cancer. My GP thought it was probably a milk-related cyst, but referred me just in case.”

She has HER2 positive cancer, “the same cancer Kylie Minogue had. My type of cancer is called ‘random’. It could happen to anyone,” says Stone. “That’s why I want to make people aware. If it wasn’t for breastfeeding, my situation would be very different now.”

Since her diagnosis three months ago, Stone has become a bit of a campaigner to get women to check themselves regularly: “Check your breasts to make sure you know what’s normal. There are no other obvious symptoms of breast cancer. If you don’t know how, look on YouTube. This is particularly important for young women who aren’t offered mammograms.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with the disease affecting one in eight British women, this includes many Jewish women too. Like Stone, other young Jewish women have become accidental activists too, seeing themselves with a responsibility to raise awareness.


(Another link to the full article here)



The playdate

19 Jul


blue-bright-colors-565999.jpgHere’s my latest blog post for The Motherload, all about how a beautifully anticipated playdate planned for a very hot July’s afternoon went rather pear-shaped! (click on link below):

The Playdate

It’s my son’s party and I’ll cry if I want to

3 Jul


To continue from my last blog post theme of me being loud and dramatic on birthdays , here’s my latest offering published on The Motherload, a fab, down-to-earth parenting blogzine, all about how an embarrassing crying incident at my son’s birthday party launched my *complicated* relationship with children’s birthday parties. Enjoy the read (click on the following link):

It’s my son’s birthday and I’ll cry if I want to



It’s my birthday and I’ll shout if I want to

29 May
How did my birthday degenerate in such spectacular style, I thought to myself at around 4.30 pm this afternoon.
Two of my three little ones were howling in unison – 1.5-year-old was following me around the flat, roaring and practically pulling my skirt off in her urgency to get me to pick her up which I couldn’t do because a) I didn’t want to and b) I was trying to gather up water bottles-nappies-wipes-shoes-socks-coats-more stuff so we could leave the house to go out for an early supper for my birthday (my birthday treat to myself).
3.5 year old was howling histrionically as I had apparently dropped a shoe on her tender little hoof and it hurt – A LOT.
This is not how birthdays are meant to be celebrated, I observed ruefully to myself.
I then did exactly what all the parenting bibles tell you not to do. I started shouting – quite loudly – at both of these two little people – to STOP SHOUTING.
Baby seemed quite startled at this show of noisy force coming at her from my direction, and this temporarily  stopped her howls.
I shouted SORRY VERY LOUDLY at 3.5 year old about the foot incident and shouted again NOW YOU HAVE TO STOP SHOUTING COS I SAID SORRY.
I then carried on grabbing random stuff, while shouting in a maternal guilt-tripping way that they are too young to understand that they were RUINING MY BIRTHDAY . I may even have stamped my foot (yes I am turning 5 today).
Finally ready to leave the flat. Trip trap trip trap down the stairs to the ground floor. Drag the buggy out of the hallway and outside.
And then finally, breathe in some fresh air and we were all in transit, either in buggy or on two feet, heading towards the restaurant with the tantalising image of chips with ketchup by the bucketful awaiting us.
And peace was restored.

Meet the mums doing it on their own

10 Apr

Time to update the blog! Here is a taster (first few paragraphs) of a recent feature I wrote for the Jewish Chronicle about the fabulous single women who are choosing to have children on their own. Enjoy the read! Click here for the full article in the JC. And here for a link to KayamaMoms’ website – the organisation that is helping Jewish single women to become mums. (And here is a link to KayamaMoms’ Facebook page too.)

Meet the mums doing it on their own

There’s a growing trend in Israel for women to choose to become single mothers. Now British Jewish women are being encouraged to do the same. Rebecca Schischa reports.

For Amanda Moss, it was the end of a relationship when she was 39. For Michelle, it was her 35th birthday. Both women decided they were unlikely to find a partner to start a family. So, each became single mothers by choice.

“It was a real emotional rollercoaster,” says Moss, now 44, from St Albans, of her fertility treatment, which included four rounds of IVF. She’d frozen her eggs at 37 and tried thawing them, but none fertilised. Finally she tried a ‘double donation’ using donated sperm and egg. “I had a gut feeling it would work, and I tested pregnant soon after.

“I was induced two weeks early, and Joshua was born two years ago. I lived with my parents for the first five months. It was great, they built up a real bond with him. They adore him and help me out lots with him.”

Michelle, now 60, from Manchester had an easier time getting pregnant, using donor sperm, and is mother to Alex, 23 and Theo, 21 (their names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy).

“I was fairly secure in my career. I moved round the corner to my parents (they’re not alive anymore), and they were very happy to help out when I went back to work. My dad used to take the boys to toddler groups. I had parents I didn’t know saying to me, ‘I know your dad’!”

She and Moss are part of a growing number of single Jewish women who choose to become mothers. Now an Israeli organisation, KayamaMoms, is helping women considering following their lead.

“So many babies are not being born because people still aren’t considering the option” in the UK, says Dina Pinner, KayamaMoms’ co-founding director. She held an inaugural meeting in London last month to provide information and support to Jewish women considering becoming single mothers by choice (SMCs).

Click here for the full article in the JC

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