Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Confessions of a First Time Mum by Poppy Dolan!! I'm excited to share an exclusive extract with you today!
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…
Exclusive Extract from Confessions of a First Time Mum!
The promise of matey bonding time has me springing out of bed this morning. The 2am feed, the 6am feed: I almost whistled through them both. Breakfast is doled out with the merry patience of Mary Poppins on pay day. Cherry smacks the plastic top of her high chair, sending a few lumps of wet baby cereal arcing through the air like she’s manning a catapult. Well, it’s probably been three minutes since I wiped the floor. It could do with a clean. Spit spot, and off we go.
‘Now, Cherry Pie, what on earth are we going to wear to this new baby class, hmm?’
If this was an Eighties movie, there’d be an upbeat synth pop tune blaring out as I dig through my wardrobe and hold up various outfits to the mirror. This long checked shirt or this long checked shirt? The Dorothy Perkins jeggings or the New Look jeggings? Perhaps the music would change to something more ominous now: a lone cello and some kettle drums as I flick through hanger after hanger of brilliant clothes I can no longer fit into. A weird fact about pregnancy that no one really tells you till it’s too late is that your hips and rib cage spread out to fit the baby in as it grows. And they take their sweet time moving back in again. Combine that with a paunch of fat around my tum from all those 4am digestives, and a saggy double chin, and I’m not exactly runway-ready. Not that I aspire to be stick thin or any madness of that kind; I’d just really like to get back into my favourite slate grey, fancy jeans and the sky-blue silk shirt that was my lucky charm in pitches and dates alike, back in the day. But neither of them can take in my post-baby body, and I’ve not exactly helped by shunning all exercise in favour of cheese on toast on the hour.
Cherry is watching me from her position on my bed: lying on top of two giant muslins (to absorb any sick) and encircled by a range of cushions, should she decide to commando-roll while my back is turned and thump onto the floor. You never know. Now and then she lets out a grizzle that confirms this process isn’t much fun for either of us, so I break into a gaudy song and dance routine of Incy Wincy. With mad leaps and jazz hands – the lot. That buys me three minutes at a go. How do those glam mums on Insta do it? How do they perfectly coordinate a crisp white peasant blouse with jangling yet tasteful bracelets and a big, bouncy blow-dry while children crawl around their feet? I don’t even know where my hairdryer is. I don’t think I’ve used it since I was six months’ pregnant and I lost the ability to bend over.
‘Sod it,’ I whisper to myself as I reach for my trusty striped Breton top. The mum staple. But it’s from Joules so it feels classy and the three quarter-length sleeves are super-flattering. I spin around to Cherry. ‘What do you think, missus?’
A mouthful of white throw-up leaves her lips.
‘Everyone’s a critic. Watch it, or I’ll put you in the pink tutu nightmare Auntie Phyllis sent.’
My lovely Aunt Phyllis really does try, bless her. I think she feels that with my mum living in the States again, she should step up and be a surrogate mother figure. This shows itself when she sends a range of outfits for Cherry that I can only describe as pageant-worthy: scratchy tulle, sequinned ra-ra skirts, ‘Daddy’s Little Princess’ stamped over nylon onesies. It comes from a good place, but it’s so very, very bad.
I wipe up the sick with a corner of a muslin and heft Cherry up, walking her to her room. She’s got a ridiculous mini-wardrobe which I couldn’t resist buying when I was three months’ pregnant and totally clueless about the reality of babies. They don’t need hanging space – you need stuffing space! I crouch down and rummage one hand around in the pile of clothes in the bottom. Cherry also has a Breton-striped all-in-one but I worry that would ring mum-mum alarm bells with Nelle. I think I’ll play it safe: a grey marl vest with tiny robots printed on it, and purple dotty leggings. There’s some sort of balance there.
Twenty minutes later, after cleaning up a thunderous poo from Cherry that made her sound like a backfiring van, we are ready to hit the streets. I’m washed, I’m dressed, I’m coherent: this is going to be a good day! I might rehearse some conversational topics on the way there, but nothing too controversial for starters. Something flickers in the back of my mind – ask questions. That’s what I did when I was meeting new people as a PR and I’d forgotten their names and backgrounds but I wanted them to feel included. I’ll ask questions. People love talking about themselves.
My trainers are bouncing along the pavement as I happily head to the community hall. Cherry likes a running commentary to keep her amused so I prattle on: ‘There’s Mr Tilbury’s cat. Hello, cat! And people have put their bins out today. But not the recycling, oh, no, no, no – that’s on a Tuesday. Recycle, recycle, recycle!’ I start singing a little ear worm from a Peppa Pig episode.
And then my pram wheels collide with something. Speeding out of the public footpath that starts at the bottom of our street and takes a back route to the park is a luminous green scooter.
‘Move!’ shouts its owner to me, dark eyes glowering up from a curtain of sandy, straight hair. He can’t be more than four, but he’s got the weary aggression of someone who’s been stuck in rush-hour traffic all his life.
Annoyingly, on impulse, I do move back and he scoots off down the pavement, just as I am thinking of mature but cutting things to say to him. My mouth twitches and my lips curl, but I’ve missed my moment.
Where are the flipping parents?!
A flick of shiny, golden-blonde tresses precedes a woman dressed all in expensive grey tones. She must have seen our mini-collision and heard his tart little shout. I wonder if her apology will be just as smooth as her hair.
But nothing comes. Her glossy lips stay closed but her eyes flick up and down, over my slightly stained jeans and maybe just a hint of muffin top. I inch further behind the handles of the pram.
I now totally get what Nelle means by a mum-mum.
Title: Confessions of a First-Time Mum
Author Name: Poppy Dolan
Previous Books: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There’s More to Life than Cupcakes, The Bluebell Bunting Society, The Woolly Hat Knitting Club
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: 25th June 2018
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.
You can get in touch with Poppy on Twitter @poppydwriter and on Facebook at PoppyDolanBooks. She doesn't bite. Unless you are a dark chocolate digestive.