Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Pregnancy Diaries - Out Now!

Pregnancy wasn't something I felt comfortable blogging about, but since I felt an urge to jot down my thoughts and feelings, I decided to keep an old-school diary instead. I wrote much of it in the early hours of the morning with a mug of hot milk. Perhaps I was channelling my future baby...

In my book, I share my thoughts on impending motherhood and how I prepared for a birth without fear. Being a largely positive account of pregnancy and childbirth, I think it's suitable as a gift for pregnant friends or relatives - or anyone curious about the journey! 




About the Book

Pregnancy was one experience journalist and author, Emily Benet, wasn’t ready to share on her blog. Instead she kept a diary, which she mostly wrote at 3.15am with a mug of hot milk.

What kind of mother will I be? Will I be able to breastfeed? Why is childbirth so painful when our bodies are perfectly designed for it? Will physical and mental preparation help towards a good birth? Do Japanese women eat sushi during pregnancy? How big is a rutabaga? What is a rutabaga? Why does my pregnancy app want me to organise an emergency escape route out of my flat? These questions, and more, occupied her thoughts as her belly grew.

By sharing her diary, Emily hopes to add a positive narrative in a landscape flooded with fear and grim stories. Her wish is for expectant mothers to feel empowered and encouraged, and to trust themselves, and their bodies, on the transformational journey to new life.




Thursday, 21 February 2019

When baby laughs at your cooking...



My gourmand baby blew a raspberry at my homemade oat biscuits and swiped them onto the floor with a derisive laugh. She had a point, really. They weren't biscuits so much as oat flakes squidged hopefully into mashed banana. 

It summed up the day, really. One of those long drawn out ones, where you catch yourself staring into space and then saying, "right!" a lot, as if the word might rev up your inner motor if you said it enough times. 

Right, baby. Right, baby. I love you, baby. Even if you laugh at my culinary efforts, I love you. At least you are partial to my homemade milk. Now, good night baby. 

It seemed as if the challenging day was to end wrist-deep in pee, with the ritualistic rinsing nappies in baby's bathwater. But then, there was a knock on the door. 

There stood my neighbour, with a plate of food in her hands, a halo glowing around her head. "Room service?" she said, grinning. And just like that, the day didn't seem so bad, after all.


Thursday, 31 January 2019

A relaxed approach to weaning your baby



"What are you having for lunch, Sol?"
"Same as you, mummy.
"Correct answer, baby girl!"

That's how we roll in our house. Okay, so I'll lace my Bolognese with chipotle chili, but other than that, it's the same fresh ingredients. I'm so glad I read Gill Rapley baby led weaning book (thanks Rachel for the tip!).

'Fun before one is the motto!' removing any pressure to get food into her in the first year.  As long as she's drinking her milk, she's going to be just fine. The few times I've googled baby weaning, I've narrowly missed suffocating under an avalanche of anxieties.

Do parents need to be having such a tough time? One woman reported that a nurse had told her that, rather than breastfeed her hungry and crying 8 months old first thing in the morning, she should hurriedly get up and prepare her cereal instead. Why? It doesn't sound logical. Just breastfeed the baby and have a solid breakfast later.

Did the nurse just feel she needed to give some advice for the sake of it? Or was it a bit like when a stranger asks for directions and you kind of know so decide to have a stab at it?

These weaning 'rules' are flexible. We should trust ourselves more and trust our babies. I started with sticks of steamed vegetables to suck and she soon started grabbing at everything that was put before her. She lunges for chicken, I give her chicken. She lunges for my biro, I say no biro. It's common sense.

So, your baby prefers purees, then give them purees. The point is you've got to do what's best for both of you. The point is you can't believe one set of ideas fits all.




Cada bebé es un mundo, they say here in Spain. Every baby is a whole world. I hate the thought of stressed parents desperately aeroplaning mash into their 4 or 6 or 8 month old babies, and worrying themselves silly when they don't swallow it, and thinking that they must be starving. They're not starving if they're drinking their milk, plus they've got a tiny stomach and know when they've had enough.

I'm not a pediatrician, and maybe I'm just adding another opinion that the world doesn't need; but if my positive experience helps one mother relax, I'm happy. I can't recommend Gill Rapley's book enough.

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It was inevitable that I was going to start writing about motherhood, wasn't it?! My latest non-fiction book, The Pregnancy Diaries, will be out this Spring. 

I also write fiction... if you haven't already, check out my latest novel The Hen Party! 







Thursday, 24 January 2019

Mamma mia! Are you letting yourself go?

I will not let myself go! I told myself, when I got pregnant. I'd see ragged mums in stained jumpers and think, Seriously, how long does it take to put on a bit of make-up?


It's not the putting on though, I've since discovered. It's the taking off. Who has time for that? Foundation I'm fine to leave on until the next rushed shower. But mascara?... eyeliner? There have been nights when I've heard my baby call, and have been unable to locate her, too blinded by the congealed mascara gluing my eyelids together.

I say 'call', not cry, because at 7 months baby Sol can already say MAMMMMMM-A. That's how she says it; like an exuberant Italian. 

Mammmmm-ma!  Why are you taking so bloody long-a?
Sorry bambina, it's my maledetto mascara!

As for stained jumpers? I remember in the first weeks I'd change my top at the slightest proximity of milky dribble. Now I'll rub it in and consider myself good to go. All the shoulders of my jumpers whiff and under a forensic's lights the sleeve of my dressing gown would doubtless glow like a Vegas hotel.

I've also been wearing the same clothes for 7 months, because I only wear breastfeeding-friendly outfits. Basically 98% of my wardrobe is on holiday, leaving four spaghetti straps with clever clips to do all the work. Spaghetti straps in winter? Oh, yes. Motherhood has made me square up to the cold, boobs exposed, eyes narrowed: Bring it, bitch! Is that all you got? 

Funny. I used to be such a shivering wuss.

Anyway, enough is enough, it's time to get myself on track. Look good, feel good, right? Which is why I'm going to get a haircut today... or tomorrow...well, at some point this year. Letting myself go? Never. 

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Hello lovely reader, you may as well succumb to buying The Hen Party, because it's my best novel so far, and novel number 5 has still a lot of cooking to do! Thank you!





Wednesday, 19 December 2018

What Christmas feels like to me...



Christmas smells of tangerines. For me, at least. For my Colombian husband, the smell of tangerines reminds him of the doormen in apartment blocks in Bogotá. Tangerines, mandarins, clementines - does anyone know the difference?

Christmas used to be the sound of sellotape. We didn't need Santa Claus; my mum was miraculous enough.  Hard at work running the lighting shop, or masterminding the impressive nativity at church, she wouldn't get around to packing our presents until Christmas Eve. My brother and I would listen to the crackle of tape late into the night, too excited to sleep.  

In the morning we'd feel a thrilling weight at the end of our beds. Our stockings were a pair of 40 denier black tights; a bulging boa constrictor full of surprises. We would unwrap our presents on our parents' cosy bed, which seemed gigantic back then.  At the bottom, there was always an orange.   

Christmas tastes of my Auntie Keri's perfect roast potatoes. Crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. Christmas tastes of caramelised parsnips and those little sausages wrapped in bacon. It tastes of turkey too, though that has always seemed the least important ingredient to me. Christmas tastes of Stilton and Port, because it's the only time I eat Stilton and drink Port.

This year Christmas will taste three times as good.  We'll be celebrating a Colombian-style Christmas with lechona on Christmas Eve, a British Christmas Day in Wales with turkey, and for The Three Kings on 6th January, we'll be eating a paella cooked outside by my Uncle and Aunt in Spain.

Christmas is the sight of some of my favourite people altogether; of friends we haven't seen in a long time, and family we wish didn't live so far away. It's familiar faces sitting around the table, lifting their glasses, and saying Cheers! Salud! Salut! - to what has been, and to what is to come; to all our absent friends and family; and to all those sharing today. In the end, it's never about the stuff as much as the feeling. I hope, wherever you are, whoever you're with, Christmas brings with it a good, good, feeling.


For more regular updates follow my Facebook Emily Benet Author Page. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Writing Trance of a Stay-at-Home-Writer-Mum




I consider myself to be quite an observant person. I've also got a great sense of smell. But the other day I failed to noticed a soldering iron slowly burning through a plastic box right beside my desk. I only clocked onto the plume of smoke rising up under my very nose, and the terrible odour of melted plastic, when my husband appeared, and broke the spell I'd been under. That's what writing does to me. I sink into it so deeply, it's as if I'm in another dimension.

Just now I resurfaced from editing a chapter, and discovered my feet were freezing, and my slippers were on the floor just next to them. I was so concentrated on getting some writing done, I hadn't noticed my discomfort, or the ridiculously simple solution.

I have my baby to thank for this new focus. I'm calling myself a stay-at-home-writer-mum. I love spending so much time with her, and am amazed by how rapidly she's growing and changing. I'm grateful I don't need to put her into childcare as it would break my heart, but I still need to write. As well as magazine work, I'm slowly rewriting my novel and editing The Pregnancy Diaries.

Now Six months old, Baby Sol has two siestas a day. When her also freelance father is working, those are my two sacred hours for writing. When I feel tired after an early morning feed, I find my hour of writing gives me energy. I love it as much as I have ever done. So, though my social media feed suggests I'm now baby rather than writing obsessed, I am still plugging away on my books, and look forward to being able to share news of their publication next year!   


For more regular updates, like my Facebook Author Page. Thank you!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Day-in-the-life of a writer with a 2 month old


I've been meaning to write this for a while, which means my baby girl is now closer to three months old. Life changes quickly when you're growing fast! Luckily I scribbled some notes down on post-its. Here's a glimpse of our day when she was two months old...


4.05am -  First feed of the day! Baby and I wake up in synch. She doesn't cry when she's hungry, but sucks her fingers desperately. I breastfeed her for fifteen minutes and then change her nappy. She pees as I remove nappy - FAIL - I knew I should have waited another moment! Pee floods across the changing mat towards her neck. I mop it up before it reaches her hair, give her a backpacker shower with wipes and then put her back to bed.

7.45am - Second feed of the day! She stretches luxuriously for ages and smiles when I say good morning. She's a morning person. I feel overwhelmed with love.

8am - 9am - I remember pee episode and bathe her in a bucket. She beams as she sinks into the warm water, and then kicks her legs frantically. There's nowhere to go, so I scoop her out. We have a sing-along. Well, I sing and wiggle her arms and legs, and she stares up at me, smiling off-and-on until she gets tired. Her favourite song: Yellow Submarine by The Beatles.

9am - 10am - Nap! She's exhausted after all the fun. I take advantage to finish a blog I started the day before.

10am - 11.45am - Third feed (or fourth, fifth... I'm breastfeeding on demand, so I've no idea!) I sit her in her bouncer and introduce her to some toys. She follows them with her eyes, but prefers to suck her fingers rather than touch them. Her favourite toy is the fan. It's 30 degrees and we can't go outside until late afternoon.



11.45am - 12.20pm Nap! I hand wash my milk-stained bra and do chores around the house. I consider getting a cleaner so any free time I have is dedicated to writing.

12.20pm - 1.05pm I hold her in my arms and dance around the kitchen to The Sound of Music. I never used to like musicals but I can't stop playing them! When she gets heavy, I lay her down again. I read online that babies like shiny objects, so I dangle a spoon above her head (no interest)... then a sieve (moderate interest)... then some aluminium foil. Her eyes light up at the foil.  She falls asleep on my chest after feeding.



1.05pm - 2pm - Nap. I make enough food for two meals. She wakes up as I'm serving up.

2pm - 3pm I leave her in the bouncer sucking her fingers and talk to her while I eat. Afterwards I show her the some toys again. She likes the dangling rabbit.  



3pm - 3.30pm Nap. I wash up and edit three paragraphs of the PregnancyDiaries.  

3.30pm - 4.45pm More singing, more waving toys at her, more dancing around the kitchen, more feeding, lots more feeding, I don't know how much feeding, about every hour and a half... I don't mind... sometimes I read a novel on my kindle when her eyes are closed... but when her eyes are open I look down at her and savour the moment, I know I'll miss this special time.

4.45pm - 5.00pm Nap! I edit another paragraph of the Pregnancy Diaries. 

5.00pm - 6.45pm Feed, play... I start glancing wishfully at the clock... I'm looking forward to talking to an adult!

7pm - 8.45pm I put her in the buggy and we head out for a stroll and a quick drink with a neighbour and her baby... then I push her back up the steepest hill ever, sweating profusely and feeling the burn in my legs! It feels good after all that sitting on the sofa feeding!

8.45pm - 9.00pm She whimpers as I wolf down leftovers from lunch while calling 'coming!' between each mouthful.

9.00 - 11.00 feed, feed, feed, feed, feed until she falls asleep. She won't wake up again until four in the morning. While I was pregnant I promised myself that when I was with her, I wouldn't wish myself doing anything or wanting to be anywhere else. I fall asleep, my promise kept.