All in Motherhood

Mumfession: My Life as a Mum with Sickle Cell Disease

I’ve wanted to start this column for the longest time, and I’m so glad we have our first feature. Mumfessions is simply a space for mums to talk about their real life as mums, giving us the unfiltered real truth in a way we may not ordinarily hear about or even think of.

Basically mums + confessions. 

And today, we’re starting off with Elozona, a public health specialist in the UK, wife and mum to two lovely boys who is fascinated with motor bikes and wants to own one! She has Sickle Cell Anaemia (SS) or Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), an inherited blood disease - and shares with us some of her experiences, challenges and advice.

The Return to Work after Maternity Leave: 8 Tips to Make it Easier & Make You Excel

Speaking from personal experience and that of those around me, it’s safe to say that many career-focused or career-inclined women often have a lingering doubt about how having kids would affect their career; and it is not an insensitive concern to be treated lightly. Having children does take a huge toll on you - physically and mentally. Ridiculously enough, many organizations have failed to create an atmosphere where mothers feel like they can thrive.

Women are often seen to be less competent once matters relating to a child come up. As a simple example: if a man requests to work remotely because he is having improvements done in his home, he is not judged in any negative way but if a woman requests to work from home due to a child care emergency, she could be slightly perceived, albeit unconsciously as not being very organized.

There are lots of improvements that organizations have to do to be truly inclusive, and ensure that women and mothers feel more included and valued. But that’s a whole different kettle of fish for another day. Today, let us focus on how best woman can return to work strong after maternity leave.

Post Baby Body? Post Baby Sex? 7 New Mums Share Their True Feelings

Don’t quote me on these percentages, but could we possibly estimate that 8 out of 10 women aren’t huge fans of their post baby body? And although it’s termed “post-baby”, those issues perhaps begin to manifest during pregnancy: weight gain, stretch marks, skin colorations, swellings and so much more. It’s not all gloom though. Some people are excited about the weight, and of course many love the pregnancy glow!

As a first time mum the not-so-pretty aspects and body changes can be a bit upsetting, but many times it’s pushed to back because of the anticipation of the baby! So when the baby arrives and many months later the body hasn’t “snapped back” to its previous form - the emotions begin to come to the fore and a new mum’s perception of her body could possibly affect intimate relationships with her partner.

In this post, seven first time mums share how they felt about their post baby body, how this affected intimacy and their choice of post-baby contraceptives!

Our Baby Weaning Experience and 7 Important Things I Learnt

Oh weaning! [insert very mild barely audible sigh]

Even before I had a baby, I totally looked forward to the weaning and introduction of solids to my kids. I remembered some of the fun things we had done when my little sister started eating solids and how in particular we’d mash up potatoes for her.

With new generation Instagram mums and social media it also seemed uber cool. Lots of ideas, recipes, tools and information surrounding weaning. Cookbooks too - with modified Nigerian recipes (our kids got to love Nigerian food yes!).

So yes, I was determined to be that “extra” and diligent mum who made colourful purees and fed her child nicely in the cutest baby high chair.

8 "Must Have" Baby Products We Didn't Buy or Use Much

In addition to all the many others, one thing new mums or parents hope for is that the baby products they buy absolutely do what it says on the tin! It’s one thing figuring out what exact products to buy out of the myriad, it’s another to see it actually work for your baby and give you peace of mind. Because if it doesn’t that’s just sad: the time wasted, the money down the drain and worst of all – the space it just takes up in your home. I don’t think there are any new parents whose houses remain the same after having a baby - no matter how you try.

I recall once after we had popped into a baby store to pick up some large ticket items – the boot of the car was stuffed, and some products at the back seat slightly obstructed the windshield. It was a good thing the house was just under five minutes because we couldn’t have driven that way for much longer. When we got home, I said to the husband “well I hope this kid really likes these gadgets and takes to them”. His response “Of course he had better, what choice does he have. He should be thankful he got all this. You know how many kids don’t have this choice”?

A Time-Stamped Diary on My Last Day of Maternity Leave

I had such great plans for maternity leave. Although I wasn’t certain how long I wanted to be off for, I had assumed somewhere around the 6-month mark. Actually, to be honest, I had considered going back to work at about 3-4 months post baby. And that’s because the up-to-one year maternity leave that new mothers in the UK are entitled to, seemed a bit strange to me. An entire year at home! 

It was definitely a culture shock because coming from Nigeria most people clearly returned to work within three months. And that was the mindset I had. But hey, things change... So after actually having the baby and knowing that I was in the UK where no one would really frown and at a one-year maternity leave the top of my CV, I decided to be open to it.

Seven Tips to Help Children Enjoy Reading

Would you like to help your children enjoy reading? Is raising readers important to you? It should be!

There’s not enough space to list the benefits of reading with/to children even while in-utero, but there’s a lot of research to back up the talk. Reading to children is important for their neurological development. It builds empathy, strengthens their ability to listen and improves their vocabulary.

Most importantly though, it creates a strong bond between parents and children and as children grow, books can be a great launch point for having otherwise uncomfortable conversations.

So, what can you do if you’d like to help your children enjoy reading? Number one below is the most important step - and the other six are incredibly helpful too.

The Kind of Diaper Bag Every Mum Needs (+ essentials to have in it)

For some reason, a diaper bag was one of the last things I bought and eventually struck out from my baby list. But then I realised I wasn’t alone; my friend and I were pretty torn on which to go for. I had so many requirements I wanted it to tick. 

First it had to be quite spacious. I’d made up my mind that contrary to the understandable actions of many first time mums, I wasn’t going to lug the whole kitchen sink into a diaper bag and risk hurting my arms and shoulders (which meant the diaper bag on its own had to be pretty light weight).  But at the same time, we know that with a baby –  the little necessities add up. Asides being spacious, it also had to help keep me organised. I won’t lay claim to being the most organised person (and anything to help as a new mum was a plus). So it would have been utterly useless to have a really spacious deep holed bag with no compartments which help keep things in place. Separate storage was important - baby food had no business being in the same space with soiled diapers.

10 (+1) Diverse Children's Books With Characters of Colour

As a parent and as a teacher, it’s been my aim for the young people in my life to absolutely love reading and books. Being a British born Nigerian and having taught in Nigeria for a number of years, diverse books have become very important to me. This is because I believe that books aren’t just about “others”, But when we see people like ourselves in the media, including in fiction, we get a glimpse of who we might become, we feel validated and we feel relevant. 

I totally recommend these diverse reads in no particular order and I hope you enjoy this list too.

The New Baby Essentials We Absolutely Loved

My friend thinks that like the wedding industry with all its charm, the baby product industry is such a danger zone - particularly for first-time mums.  I have to agree. Everything is so bright and shiny and perfect. And the gorgeous photos of the products. Lets not even talk about the little baby clothes too: everything is cuter in baby size. But then you fall for it, buy everything and realIse two things (i) you know longer have space in your home and (ii) you actually didn't use or need half. 

But I was aware of this trap and tried to avoid falling in. So first, I didn’t start shopping too early. Because once you start, it’s hard to stop. Second I was armed with an excel spreadsheet and detailed list. Finally, I read reviews and relied on first-hand information - a lot of which was so helpful.

I’ve often shared my thoughts on products via Instagram. People have agreed with me saying “we’re product twins!”, some have gone off to purchase the items and some have asked for more info!

As much as I tried, not all items were perfect or worked for us.