Confessions of a First-Time Mum by Poppy Dolan
Published by: Canelo
Publication date: June 25, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction
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Stevie’s life has changed beyond recognition since having her first baby.
Stevie loves being a mum, but between the isolation and being vomited on five times a day, she really wishes she had someone to talk to.
With husband Ted working hard to keep the family afloat, Stevie really doesn’t want to burden him with her feelings. Turning to the internet, Stevie starts the anonymous First-Time Mum blog and blasts the rose-tinted glasses of parenthood right off her readers.
In the real world, Stevie meets the formidable Nelle and gorgeous Will, along with their own little treasures, and starts to realise that being a ‘perfect mum’ isn’t everything. But when the secret blog goes viral, Stevie must make some tough choices about who she wants to be, and whether she’s ready for the world to know the truth…
A perfect laugh-out-loud read for fans of The Unmumsy Mum, Gill Sims and Emma Robinson.The Jolly Good does, in fact, do a decent coffee and a big plate of toast. Nelle seems to know the barman, too. He plonks the buttery pile down in front of us at the bench we’ve decamped to in the beer garden with a wink.
‘Lifesaver.’ She beams at him.
But even the excitement of caffeine, toast and new mates cannot dull the nervous twitch that I shouldn’t be in a pub on a weekday mid-morning. With a baby. With a bunch of babies, for that matter. What if someone sees? What if it’s one of the health visitors and I go on a Bad Mums Watchlist?
Will clears his throat. ‘This is all on me, by the way. To say sorry for my outburst. I… my girls are…’ He looks over to where they are dancing madly in front of the pram for Cherry’s amusement, hopping from foot to foot and singing what sounds like a version of a Lady Gaga tune. She’s cooing like no tomorrow, so I’m considering asking him whether they have an hourly karaoke rate. ‘Well, they’re full of energy. And a right handful, if I’m honest. It’s bad enough that when you’re the dad in the toddler group everyone expects you to do a half-arsed job, but when you have a pair of turbo-charged two year olds to wrangle, the very best you can do is half-arsed. And I hate reinforcing that stereotype. I feel everyone’s watching me, waiting for me to give them a can of Coke each while I read the paper.’ He rubs his hands down over his face and growls in exasperation. ‘But none of that is your fault. So I’m very sorry. And thank you for coming to talk to me. You’ve no idea how you’ve rescued my day.’
‘Or mine,’ I brave.
‘Pleasure!’ Nelle raises her coffee cup in a toast. ‘I know I’m no wallflower. Sometimes you’ll have to remind me to put a lid on it. But all my original mum mates are well out of the baby stage now. In fact, some of them are in the GCSE prep stage.’
‘It can be… well, I’ve found it’s pretty… tricky to make mum mates. Sometimes.’ My voice cracks just a smidge.
Will nods in agreement. ‘For me, it’s hard not to come across as some sort of creep. I worry the mums I meet might think I’m chatting them up.’
Nelle laughs. ‘I think you’ll find most of the mums round here would love that!’
I try not to blush and out myself as one of those mums. ‘I always have to abandon potential social things when Cherry kicks off. Hard to get to know new people when your baby has just vomited on their pristine pram hood and is now screeching like it’s a yodelling competition. She has reflux. Silent reflux. It’s a pain in the arse, if I’m honest.’
Just as Will gives an ‘Oh’ of sympathetic understanding, Nelle replies with an ‘Eh?’
I rush to explain myself, so I don’t sound totally ungrateful for the gorgeous baby currently smiling madly in her pram. ‘I mean, all babies can be sick sometimes. But Cherry is particularly partial to bringing up her milk and food. And then, most of the time, reswallowing it.’ Nelle can barely hide the grimace she makes. ‘So the stomach acid irritates her throat on the way up, and then on the way down again. Hence being in a foul mood so often. I give her this really mild antacid each morning, but I’m not always convinced it’s helping.’ I fiddle with my watch strap.
‘The girls had it, too,’ Will says. ‘Up until about three months. Very common in twins, because they’re often born early, before their throat muscle have time to fully develop and so keep everything nicely held in. It is such a—’ His voice drops and he mouths the next word, ‘bastard and you never know when they’ll grow out of it. But they do,’ he finishes, encouragingly.
‘God, I hope so. I hate to think of her having horrible heartburn all the time. In the grand scheme of things we’re lucky; some babies have it so badly they can’t keep anything down, and they lose weight, they develop food aversion later in ife…’ A shudder moves through my shoulders as I remember all the late-night Dr Google sessions that have shown me these terrifying scenarios. ‘I shouldn’t begrudge her a cry of annoyance but when she does get the serious grumps with it, people look at her like she’s this demon baby, and me like I’m not even trying to help her.’
Nelle gives a snort of derision. ‘It’s plain to anyone with half a brain that you take excellent care of that girl – she’s plump and happy. And if she cries sometimes, then she cries. They can stuff it. We were all babies once. We all irritated someone’s ears without meaning to. Hey, don’t suppose you guys fancy trying Tinkle Tots tomorrow? Stupid name, I know, but it’s a new music class and they’re doing a free taster session. If Cherry gets upset we can form a protective human shield around you from any mardy mums, Stevie. It’s got to be better than staring at the laundry pile, right?’
About The Author:
Poppy Dolan is in her mid thirties and lives in Berkshire with her husband. She’s a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list.
She has written three novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There’s More to Life than Cupcakes and most recently The Bluebell Bunting Society. The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp made it into the Amazon top 100 bestseller chart, so clearly someone other than her mum must have read it. She’s currently working on her fourth novel – it’s about friends, siblings and crafty things – and drinking far too much tea.
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