Searching for "mummy blogger"

Am I a Mummy Blogger?

“Am I a Mummy blogger?”

It is a question I have often asked myself during the past few months.

Yes, I am a mummy.

That fact is not in doubt, not for a moment. I am a proud mummy to my beautiful son, Hugo. I am also a sad mummy because Hugo died in my arms in March this year, aged 35 days.

But a mummy blogger? Or, to be more inclusive because there are many dad bloggers, a parent blogger?

Parent bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, and with every family configuration you can think of. You have families with mummy, daddy and one or more (living) children. Single-parent families. Same-sex parents. Divorced parents. Blended (step) families. Families with children who have special needs.

There is one thing all of these bloggers have in common to write about: ongoing experiences with their children.

My arms are aching and empty.

I had 24 weeks and four days of pregnancy. I had 35 short but precious days with my super champion boy. Those 35 days were spent in a neonatal intensive care unit – an unusual environment to be a parent, and with its own set of challenges.

Hugo

Hugo

Other parent bloggers’ accounts of ‘normal’ parenting situations: the third trimester of pregnancy, breastfeeding, nappies, weaning, crawling, talking, playtime, activities – and most recently, starting school – break my heart. They underline my loss, everything that Hugo will not do, and everything that I will not do with Hugo.

Being a parenting blogger often feels to me like torture and self-flagellation.

Of course, parenting bloggers are not defined by being parents. They write about all kinds of things such as current affairs, relationships, jobs and careers, style, travel, and food. There are many talented bloggers whose posts I love reading. Posts where I learn something new, or that offer an interesting viewpoint. Those posts, for me, make parenting blogging worth sticking around for.

That said, as an empty-armed mother there are many parenting blogger posts I feel excluded from. That is for several reasons: not only because they underline my loss, but because I am unable to contribute. We do not have shared experiences.

That’s not to mention the times where I see a gripe or a moan from a parent about something that I would love to gripe or moan about. I shout at my computer words to the effect of: “Blimey, that’s the worst you have to moan about? Count yourself lucky!” I try to move on from these – every parent has a right to let off steam about the challenges of parenting (within reason!) – and I feel glad that these parents do not know my pain. I would not wish it on anyone.

I do my best to avoid reading these kinds of posts. It’s impossible to avoid seeing them completely, because of social media. I could remove myself, but that would only cause myself an even greater sense of isolation than I already feel as a bereaved mother.

Blogging has helped me feel a little less isolated. It has connected me with so many people I would not have had an opportunity to connect with otherwise, especially other bereaved mothers, and mothers who have also experienced preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and/or a traumatic birth. People who ‘get it’.

Me and Hugo

Me and Hugo

So many parent bloggers have offered me kind support, through post comments and on social media. Removing myself from that support would be counter-productive to my recovery.

I have moved on from the upset caused by a comment from a fellow blogger that the subject of my blog is a ‘conversation stopper.’ My blog is a conversation starter. I shout loudly about my beautiful Hugo, how much I miss him, how much it hurts, and other issues that are important to me. Through my blog, I give others an insight in to a world I hope they will never have to experience first-hand.

That does not prevent me being hurt on occasion – for example, there is a regular linky I take part in where bloggers are supposed to make a comment on the two blogs who have linked up before them. More often than not, no one on that linky (other than the host) bothers to comment on my blog. Possibly that is because the bloggers don’t read the rules properly, or possibly they just link and run. Possibly I am being over-sensitive, but I often wonder whether the two bloggers after me shrink from the challenging and heart-wrenching nature of most of the posts I write. That thought makes me feel excluded. Feeling excluded is never a pleasant feeling.

Baby loss, despite the wealth of support I have received, is still a huge taboo. There are some who think that by avoiding it, it does not happen. Those who still believe it is a ‘conversation stopper’.

My blog is my platform for Hugo, and a voice for every parent who has suffered loss. By using my voice to talk about difficult subjects, I want to help raise awareness and stamp out those taboos.

A bereaved parent is still a parent. I am offering a view of a different side of parenting. Like any parent, I love my son with all my heart. I am celebrating special memories, and nurturing his legacy.

I am a mummy blogger.

 

Skin-to-skin with Mummy

Skin-to-skin with Mummy

 

The Bloggers' Hierarchy of Needs

Lately there has been a lot of chatter amongst bloggers about different people’s motivations for blogging, and a lack of interaction on social media.

Whatever your motivation for blogging – whether it is a hobby, a profession, or whether you write to prove to yourself your brain still functions, to record family life, share recipes, craft ideas, host competitions and giveaways, review stuff, whether you class yourself as a funny, commentary or any other genre blogger (stick your hand up if I’ve forgotten anything while I pause for breath) – I thought I’d look at how, for all our differences we share many similarities with each other.

Confused? Fear not, all will become clear!

You might have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a theory by psychologist Abraham Maslow, in which he detailed humans’ motivations – and what we need to function, succeed, and fulfil our own potential.

I hope Mr Maslow does not turn in his grave on seeing my interpretation (below), but I thought it is a handy way of showing what motivates we bloggers:

TheBloggersHierarchyofNeeds.jpg

Typically, descriptions of the hierarchy of needs starts at the bottom, with the important stuff, the things we really cannot live without:

The basics (physiological needs)

We need food and water in order to exist. We bloggers like to talk about food – a lot! Whether it is yummy recipes, cake, going out for dinner or whatever, we like to talk about it and write about it. We need water (or fluid in general), and a nice cup of tea or glass of wine (or whatever your favourite tipple is) is even better!

Sleep is also a basic function for all of us, but something that most of us don’t get enough of, especially if we have small children. We wonder whether to spend time blogging, or talking to folk on social media, or catching up on sleep (many wisely choose the latter. Choosing otherwise too often is a likely course to madness).

Oh, and wifi. Yep, we need food, water, and (more) sleep. We need them to function, and we like writing about them. But without wifi? It’s now up there as a necessity for most people, and especially bloggers – no posts or social media chats are going to happen without it! (*shudders a the thought of returning to dial-up internet*).

Safety is next on the order of needs. We need to feel safe – personal security, job security and financial security are all vital. Blogging is professional bloggers’ source of financial and job security. Bloggers might write about domestic and sexual violence, conflict zones, and health issues – helping themselves by using writing as a therapy, as well as others through raising awareness. Bloggers have a crucial contribution to make where these issues are concerned!

Belonging and Support – my personal experience of the blogging community is that everyone is kind and supportive. Whether it’s through blog comments or social media interaction, we send virtual hugs when we are having a bad day, celebrate good times, or offer a bit of help when it is needed. It is a community that I love belonging to.

However, you only get that sense of belonging by joining in, and contributing as much as you take. I won’t parrot what other people have been writing recently about link dumping on Twitter and how folk don’t talk enough any more, but my tuppence worth is that it is called social media for a reason. We all have days where we’re too tired, too busy, or just can’t be bothered to chat on Twitter. That’s ok. But in general go on, get involved: read, talk, comment!

Self-esteem and self-respect. Ah, self-esteem – that concept that often proves elusive for too many of us. Our self-esteem can be buoyed up by blogging: gaining recognition and praise from fellow bloggers, and knowing our blog has value to others is important to most of us (and I think those who say these things aren’t important to them are fibbing a teeny bit).

On the other hand, our self-esteem can also be damaged through blogging. Feeling that you aren’t getting the recognition your writing deserves can be a real downer.

Worse, being trolled is devastating.

Linked to that, we will sometimes read something by another blogger that we don’t agree with. Constructive criticism is welcomed by most – a healthy discussion is good – but don’t be mean. Remember what we were told when we were little (and that you probably tell your children now): if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! Be kind. Always.

Achieving your potential – this has a different meaning for everyone. Blogging might mean achieving your potential as a creative person, improving your writing (and even writing professionally because of the opportunities that come from it); using your blog to express your desire to be the best *insert ambition here* you can be; inventing the best cake recipe, or creating the most beautiful craft.

It is whatever is relevant to YOU.

YOU are best at being YOU. Don’t try to be anyone else!

 

So, there you have it. Whatever your motivation for blogging, and whatever benefits you get from it, we can all find something to relate to in the hierarchy of needs.

Group hug!

Post Comment Love
The List

I am Hugo's mummy; I am a writer; I was at Blogfest

Yesterday I got up bright and early, armed myself with my Hugo stars scarf and headed off to London for Mumsnet’s Blogfest conference.

Waiting for the train

Waiting for the train

My travelling companion was the lovely Carla and fellow Bedford-dweller from Random Thoughts of a Twenty Something, which was a great start to the day.

Me and Carla

Me and Carla

The day got even better when on arriving at the venue a lady approached me to ask if I am Hugo’s mummy. It was such a kind thing to do, and it absolutely made my day. The lady’s name was Sarah; we didn’t get a chance to chat much but Sarah, I wanted to say how much I appreciated that – thank you so much.

One of the things I was most looking forward to during the day was meeting bloggers who have become friends. I was delighted to meet and have hugs with Kerrie from Wife Mum Student Bum; Kiran from Mummy Says; Heledd from Running in Lavender; Lucy from Mrs H’s Favourite Things; Stephanie from Life at 139a; Hayley from Down’s Side Up; Sian the Potty Mouthed Mummy; Kerri-Ann from Life as Our Little Family, Victoria from Verily Victoria Vocalises and Emma from Me the Man and Baby. I even surprised myself by cuddling Emma’s beautiful baby, Charlotte – only the second baby I have held since my Hugo. If I met you and haven’t mentioned you I did enjoy meeting you – my memory has failed me!

Me and Heledd

Me and Heledd

Me and Kiran

Me and Kiran

The panels were excellent. ‘How does technology shape the way we think’ generated some interesting thought, including how today’s children live their lives online and the impact that has on them; a way to deal with trolls is to correct their spelling; that we share intimate details with others on social media, which has huge potential to help others (so true, I’ve had such support this year through social media). I was relieved to hear that Tim Dowling also dislikes removing spaces after commas in tweets in order to fit everything he wants to say in to the required 140 characters!

The technology panel

The technology panel

Finding out how to make use of Google+ was so useful, and I made copious notes. Before the session, I didn’t really understand how it works. In addition, already being on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram made me wonder whether being on another network was really worth my time. The answer is a resounding ‘yes’! Google+ has the potential to massively increase your blog’s reach, and as my blog is about raising awareness I shall definitely be investing more time in figuring it all out.

The Think Bombs were incredible: Camila Batmanghelidjh is always inspiring. Suzanne Moore’s writing rules included “A little passion goes a long way”; “Get out of your comfort zone”; “You are worth it” – and that there are no rules, yay! Francesca Martinez was especially inspiring, with her tale of how there is no such thing as normal, and that “Celebrating yourself is an act of civil disobedience” – I loved that.

Blogging can change the world, as the excellent panel discussed. The main points I took from the session were that the internet in general and social media in particular has opened up campaigning to people who previously would not have got involved; that personal stories are vital; you need to ask people to do something, to engage; you need to consider how to influence the influencers to engender change; and reach, or something going viral is not necessarily an indicator of impact. Possibly the most important message is: if you are passionate about something, do something about it – and I have passion in bucket loads for Hugo’s legacy.

Changing the world: #clearaplate helping to reduce food poverty.

Changing the world: #clearaplate helping to reduce food poverty.

The ‘Blogging and Self-Esteem’ round table was a great idea, with interesting discussions about the impact blogging has had on our lives – both good and bad. I was pleased to have the opportunity to talk about how writing about Hugo has helped me this year. I think we all wished we could have had longer, but there are so many hours in the conference.

Panellists on ‘The Power of Writing’ session were amazing. That a writer of the calibre of Nick Hornby can still be full of self-doubt gives us all hope, and I loved Lisa Jarmin’s top tip: “I am a writer because I said I was a writer…and then I was!” A bit of a scribo ergo sum… (I hope that translates to ‘I write, therefore I am’!).

20141108_161444

Lucy Porter gave a hilarious account of being invited to speak on Radio 4 about the infamous penis cup but being taken to the wrong studio by a scary-sounding producer and nearly going live on the highbrow culture programme presented by Sir Melvyn Bragg. I don’t think I am alone in wondering what would have happened if Lucy had gone ahead on that programme…

The drinks reception with gin and tonics that went down far too easily was the perfect way to round off the day.

Oh, and a goody bag full of lots of lovely…goodies! They include Divine chocolate, Body Shop beauty serum, a Boden bag, a book, and a gorgeous snuggly scarf from Littlewoods that is so huge it is more like a blanket – I shall make good use of it this winter. Thank you to all the brands for the goodies.

Goody bag contents

Goody bag contents

An especially big thank you to Mumsnet for a fantastic day. I was inspired by amazing panellists; I met lovely people who have become friends in person; I ate yummy cake; drank delicious gin and have got lovely goodies.

Best of all though? Being identified as Hugo’s mummy. The number of kind people who approached me to say how much they like my blog. The subject of my blog is challenging and sad: I am genuinely touched that people do read it, and that it has had such an impact. I am overwhelmed to have helped change the way people see baby loss; it exemplifies the power of blogging.

As Lynn Barber said in ‘The Power of Writing’ session: “Just be yourself…but how do you do that if you don’t know who that is?”

Who am I? I am Hugo’s mummy. I am a writer.

I am Hugo's mummy

I am Hugo’s mummy…and a writer

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging and Self-Esteem at BlogFest

Blogging and self-esteem needn’t be a fairy tale…

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved books, reading, creativity. She loved to write, but would never ever dream of sharing it with anyone.

She was very quiet and shy, and her teachers worried about her being in the big bad world because she was reluctant to put her hand up in class, and didn’t seem to believe in herself or her abilities.

One day, her A-Level English Literature class began to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The girl was entranced: she had never read anything like it before. So began a appreciation and admiration of that author’s work that has endured for more than two decades.

During those intervening years, the girl grew into a woman and a mother. Slowly but surely she gained a greater belief in herself, because of an in spite of life events. Her self-esteem flourished (some of it from a ‘fuck it’ sensibility as a result of those life events).

She felt intoxicated by possibility, and that flourishing self-esteem led to the woman chairing a self-esteem round-table at a national blogging conference.

That meant her name was on the same speakers’ list, the same programme as Margaret Atwood (as well as some other very esteemed names). It was a special moment, and showed what can be achieved with self-belief, and a lot of hard work.

The woman didn’t live happily ever after – those life events have shown her that is not possible – but she understands that life is hers for the taking.

To follow her own path, be true to herself, to believe in herself.

The programme.

The programme.

Sorry, I fast-forwarded through the bit you, dear reader, probably want to know about most.

The event was Mumsnet’s Blogfest held last Saturday November 21 in London.

What happened at the blogging and self-esteem round table?

Doveroundtable

Picture taken by the Dove UK team, who kindly sponsored the round table (and gave us fab goodies!)

The lovely bloggers who attended gave varied responses to the question about what motivates them to blog:

“I have to!”

“It gives me time and space.”

“It gives me something for me.”

“It’s a flexible use of my spare time.”

“It gives me a sense of purpose, it makes me happier.”

Self-esteem is about how you value yourself, and the attitude you have towards yourself. While there are as many different motivations as there are stars in the sky, we share a common goal to have something for ourselves.

During our discussion, we talked about things like:

Perception

Define your own success by your own measurement. No one has it all sorted!

Validation – #NoLikesNeeded

Blogging (and social media) is sometimes used as a measure of validation and self-worth. Sometimes blogging and social media can show a curated view of life, and give the misleading impression that life is always perfect. This can make us feel a bit rubbish, especially if we’re a bit low.

We talked about how we can feel low and rubbish if our posts don’t get likes or comments. It’s not surprising that would have such an impact on our self-esteem because we put so much of ourselves in to our blogging work it can be difficult to not take that as a personal slight.

We chatted about the pressures young people have, especially with so much of their validation and self-worth seemingly measured by the engagement they receive on a selfie that took an average of 12 minutes (!!) to perfect.

Negative Comments and Trolling

As mentioned above, we bloggers – whatever we write about – put a lot of ourselves in to our work.

If not having any reaction or response stings, how does it feel when the response is mean, nasty, unkind?

Those who had received negative comments say it is horrid, and it hurts – of course it does. We wondered why people go to such an effort to be mean. A couple of bloggers said trolls really upset them at first, but now they just make them laugh because they are so ridiculous.

Mutual Support

The thread that tied the discussion together was mutual support. The group was lovely, and gelled really well together with respectful, kind dialogue.

Let’s have more of this across the community!

Sometimes the things we write about are very personal. We might feel sick when we press ‘publish’. But that post might raise awareness of a vital issue – it is a powerful thing to do. It might help someone else, it might help them feel less alone. That person might get in touch with you to say how much it helped them, and that is such a wonderful feeling!

Sometimes our friend might be the at the receiving end of negative comments. We can reach out to them, let them know they are valued and that the trolls are worthless. We can drown out the hate with love.

We can take a moment to make a comment on each others’ work to show them that their efforts are valued.

We can share each others’ work on social media, give each other a boost.

Thank you everyone who attended – you’re all lovely!

So, what can you do to give your self-esteem a boost?

These are a few tips gained from the session, and from life in general (yep, learnt the hard way….)

Do:

  • Value yourself! You are the only you. You are special, you have a unique contribution to make to the world.
  • Value what you do: if you want to write, find time, make time. Make compromises, sacrifices….
  • Believe in yourself! We are all doing the best we can.
  • Do what you want for you. Return to why you blog. Remember what you want to get out of it, and the time you realistically have to do it.
  • Cut loose those who drain us with negative energy.
  • Celebrate yourself! Blowing our own trumpet may be frowned upon but there is a difference between celebrating our achievements, being proud of ourselves, respecting ourselves, and having a big head – and we need to learn what that difference is. Build your self-esteem, believe your own hype!

Don’t:

  • Don’t compare (too much) – it can give us inspiration, something to aspire to. But don’t let it take over, distract from being you. Just because some bloggers have higher stats than you, are in the finals for awards and you’re not, or get opportunities you’d love to have – it does not immediately follow that you are rubbish. Remember that for some things there are only so many places; that sometimes it’s just luck (or favouritism or nepotism) – and that some work every hour God sends, and get themselves out there. There will be opportunities for you right around the corner, especially if you believe in yourself. If you allow the thought that others are better than you to fester it will affect your self-esteem, and how many opportunities are likely to come knocking then?
  • Don’t worry too much about having a ‘niche’. Or if you do have an identified niche, remember it’s not set in stone. I have previously pondered on whether I am a ‘mummy blogger’ because Hugo died means I have no living child to write about, and it limited the mummy blogging things I could get involved with. It damaged my confidence as a person. Then I decided to not label myself and write about what I wanted to write about when I wanted to write it. I sometimes see bloggers saying they’d love to write about a, b, and c, but they feel they can’t because they’re an x,y, or z niche blogger. So what? If it’s meaningful to you, write about it. Who knows where it might lead? Believe in yourself and go for it.

Is there anything you would add?

I may not have what I want, but I am fortunate to have wonderful friends to spend time with, who respect my work and support what I do. And I try to stay true to myself, respect myself.

It is not easy, but we can all be intoxicated by our own possibilities if we peel the layers off berating ourselves for what we are not, and instead focus on doing whatever is in our power to get ourselves to where we want to be, who we want to be, surrounding ourselves with people who make us feel good too.

And if that quiet girl whose tutors worried about can get on the agenda for a huge national conference, imagine what you can do, too?

MeandboardBlogfest

That’s me, that is.

 

And then the fun began...
Let's Talk Mommy
You Baby Me Mummy

Featured In

September 2016

Please Don’t Call Me Brave – Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network Blog of the Day

July 2016

My Missed Miscarriage – Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network Blog of the Day

June 2016

Daily Mail

Daily Mirror

The Sun

May 2016

How An Instagram Post Showed Me Its Good To Talk – Mumsnet Front Page

March 2016

Meet the Seraphine Mum’s Voice Award Winner

Tommy’s Award Win – Bedfordshire on Sunday

Live BBC Three Counties Radio interview, and BBC Look East TV interview about the Tommy’s Awards.

February 2016

The Facebook Motherhood Challenge The Independent, Wednesday February 3, 2016

The Facebook Motherhood Challenge – Mumsnet Front Page

January 2016

How Long Is Forever? in the BritMums Poetry and Prose RoundUp

December 2015

Blogs of the Day Roundup 2015 (under ‘a few that are just really, really good’).

Not Long Until The Force Awakens – Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network Front Page

Celebrating 100 Hours of #PNDChatTots100 GoodReads

Named on the longlist for the Tommy’s Mum’s Voice Award

November 2015

Live interview on BBC Radio 5 Live about psychological support for parents who lose a baby.

Intoxicated By Possibility – Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network Blog of the Day

October 2015

Standing on the Periphery – Blog of the Day on Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network

The Last LullabyTots100 GoodReads

BritMums, for baby loss awareness week.

September 20158-9-15 - front page of HuffPo parents &

Why We Can’t Call Birth ‘Normal’ – Front Page of Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network

Featured Change Agent – ‘Ask A Radical’ – NHS The Edge

One Boy Will Always Be Missing – BritMums’ Poetry and Prose Roundup

August 2015

Parenting by Creating a Legacy – Still Mothers

Half-Year EvaluationBritMums’ Poetry and Prose Roundup

Banner-invisibleMAD Blog Awards Meet the Finalists

July 2015

Named as one of 50 Patient Leaders by the HSJ in their first-ever list.

What I Want The National Maternity Review Team To Know – guest post on Sheena Byrom’s blog.

June 2015

Blog of the Day!

Blog of the Day!

What I Want The National Maternity Review Team To Know – Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network Blog of the Day

The Feigned Calmness of the Broken-Hearted MotherBritMums’ Poetry and Prose Round-Up

May 2015

Bereaved Parents Deserve Better Support in the Mumington Post

Hugo, Who Inspires So Many – BritMums’ Poetry and Prose Round-Up

April 2015

Language Matters – Health Communication and Baby Loss – featured on the front page of Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network

March 2015

BritMums SEND Roundup

Giving My 18 Year Old Self A Good Talking To – Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network front page.

Parentdish – You Don’t Need A Mummy Tummy To Be A ‘Real’ Mummy

February 2015

Guest Post on 23 Week Socks

The Adventures of a Potty Mouthed Mummy – Newbie Class

Tots100 Fresh Five: Five Blogs to Make You Think

January 2015

Sharing Hugo’s Legacy – NHS Change Day

border

2014

August 2014

Reading Residence Blog LowdownHugoslegacy.jpg

Milton Keynes Citizen about the Butterfly Award shortlisting.

Hugo’s Story for the Ronald McDonald House Charity’s 25 Moments Series

September 2014

Hugo’s Story on The Smallest Things website

Am I A Mummy Blogger? featured on the front page of Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network

October 2014

Guest post for Mumsnet for Baby Loss Awareness Week20141031_164837

A Hugo-Shaped Hole – and Hope featured on the front page of Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network

Hugo’s Story on the Bliss website

Hugo’s Story in Edspire

November 2014

Guest post about World Prematurity Day for the Royal College of Midwives

Wonderful Women interview on Honest Mum’s blog

December 2014

BritMums’ Poetry and Prose round up

______________________________________

Huffington Post

Read Leigh’s work for the Huffington Post.

20150422_095520

1 2 3 5