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Who runs the world? Girls. Well, mothers to be precise.

There is one thing I will say about social media, in fact I will sing it from the roof tops, it saved me. No amount of counselling and medication in the world did what joining Instagram and starting a blog on a whim, when Elijah was at nursery has done for me. Click here to read how blogging helpedme cope with PTSD.  Now, to put this into perspective, I didn’t even have a Facebook account until 5 months ago. When I finally got to grips with Instagram (I say that I still have no idea what I am doing) someone followed me, and as I scrolled through her feed I noticed something. Her little girl had an incision mark like Elijah, it turns out she also had open heart surgery. I was nervous, but I messaged her and we began to chat about our experiences.

I felt as though a weight had been lifted, I didn’t feel alone anymore. From there on in, I looked to connect with other NICU, CHD (congenital heart disease) Mums and the odd Dad. I felt I was finally clawing my sanity back. This is when this little ol’ Alice stumbled upon the magical world of Mum and Dad blogs. The real view of parenting. The good, the bad and the ugly. When I was finally brave enough I contacted (whist shutting my eyes after pressing send) @toomuchmotheringinformation @mummyandnina @themumcoach @themommysomniac who tuned out to be some of the nicest people I had ever spoken to! They advised me, they supported me but most of all they took a chance on me. I cannot thank them enough, they were the ones that steered me in the direction and got me where I am today, over 10,000 views later!
Through these lovely ladies, I then found Jenny @mamazou85 and Donna from @the.mama.squad and found out how inspiring their message to parents was. That no matter what your story is, what you choose for your child, your experience, we are in this together. To build each other up and not to tear one another down because of what we have chosen to do for our children. I don’t think these ladies actually know how much they help someone like me. I have in the past had a lot of self-esteem issues, suffered from anxiety, excessive worrying and have very little confidence. However, just one little pic on their feed each day and seeing it connect all these amazing people and all of them supporting one another makes me feel like I am BeyoncĂ© and can totally rock this mother malarkey (to the theme tune of Who runs the world).  Then I saw the post for The Mama Squad Assemble, and imagined Donna as a Mama Nick Fury with her eye patch calling all of us as her Mama Avengers to battle. I did decide not to go heads to toe black widow outfit in fear of being a tad sweaty on the train.

Never, in a million years before I became a mother would I willing travel down to London on my own and meet a group of people I have never met off the internet. (Maybe a safety advert in that there?!) I would have always bottled it, and made an excuse not to go but I did have a little experience from meeting the lovely Nina and Ally @lifewithmylittleduck last month. I will say I did have a slight wobble the night before and messaged Ally in a panic as I was slightly worried that these genuinely talented ladies would think I am a weird Norfolk emo whose claim to fame is her child’s heart surgery. What if they were expecting Mother Theresa and I come in with quite a partial liking to gin and swearing like a sailor. But I could totally do this right?! So that’s what I did. I just hoped I wouldn’t be kidnapped, locked in a room never to be seen again by a man in a trench coat with a beard. (This did not happen but there were some pleas from Donna to COME BACK after we went to the bathroom!) My butt was seated on the 10am train from Norwich to Liverpool Street hoping I had gotten on the right train! No backing out now!

Ally dutifully met me at the gate ready to escort me like my mum, as like a child I do not understand the tube. Actually, I am sure a child has more common sense than I do. We then met @mummybakesdairyfree and @rachelkellett whilst rescuing the lovely Jenny and made our way there! Until we realised between 5 of us we didn’t actually know where we were going. But, safety in numbers right? Then a problem became quite apparent we did not know who the hell each other were when we used our first names, only Insta handles! As we all cautiously went up the stairs, the nerves were slightly setting in and at this point only one gin had been consumed! However, after meeting Donna I felt instantly at ease, as even she was nervous! We soon learnt we all felt the same. So, after a few more drinks and might I add a lot of boob staring at name and insta handles tags, lots of gasps of ‘Oh yes, of course it’s you!’ the nerves slowly ebbed away. It was slightly like being back at school and hoping everyone liked you! I can also confirm there were no men in trench coats with beards and everyone actually seemed to be who they appeared to be on their feeds! No Malcolm’s in sight!

I have however now come back with a huge girl crush on @grace_timothy, where forget the #mumface, I want her face that’s not weird right?! I am so insanely jealous of the beautiful Priya @pabarilife who is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and the @uhohmum you had won the title of best plaits that day, I will admit defeat! I now have a little band of NICU MUM bracelet wearers, @lifewithmylittleduck, @pabarilife. And the one and only Polly Pocket herself Jenny  @mamazou. Get yours by clicking here and remember 10% ofeach one goes to Bliss.

Donna was even kind enough to not only take a group photo but to get everyone involved to do a huge #bigkidsforgosh photo, this was her event and she really didn’t have to do this but it really helped get the message out there, and for that I am super grateful. @pandaandping also did an epic wheel barrow! It actually makes me feel like I am making a difference and going in the right direction (she says hoping).  We have also raised over £282, with 2 weeks to go!

Nick Fury, I mean Donna even had two missions for us, see she is the leader of the Mama Avengers! One was to make us think of our #mamahood power, mine of course was my epic mum voice that can stop and silence both boys (yes even Papa NICU) in their tracks. The other was the @superchargedclub’s #badassmamas campaign. I wouldn’t have dreamed of having my photo taken before all of this, never mind speaking on camera about what I have conquered as a mother. I was a bit nervous as I wanted to talk about PTSD and really get it out there so with a few gins and the lovely Mary’s support I did this. Yes, its sounds ridiculous and I probably sounded a complete twonk but I am proud of myself it is something I would never have done before Elijah. It really shows how far you can go with someone saying actually, yes, you can do it.

When 6pm rolled around and people began to depart it was quite sad, I think if we all could it would have continued well into the night! Bar crawl next time? As strange as it sounds to finally see the people you follow, speak to and stalk (ahem) on a daily basis, as well as some you didn't know it created such a nice atmosphere. Some would think that in a room with 30 odd women it would be bitchy as hell. It was in fact the opposite. I did fear that poor lone bar man was slightly scared for a while though!
With motherhood comes more judgement, resentment, bitchiness, and competitiveness than I ever experienced in my life. However, I am glad to be part of the revolution that is breaking this. The amazing thing about events like The Mama Squad Assemble is that it is turning this on its head and instead inspiring mums, building their confidence and showing us we can do what we want, and support each other doing it. I cannot wait for the next meet up, and I feel really lucky to have ladies like this in my life. I feel like this is now becoming super cheesy, ahem. Truthfully, there is no need for the negatives, and yes, we do have our hang ups and strong opinions but sometimes it’s easier just to say f*** it who cares.

So who runs the world?

Mothers do. Duh.
pp.’s I will just say getting the 20.00 train back to Norwich was an adventure too, there was family crisis going on in the carriage worthy of Jeremy Kyle, an older lady on a mobility scooter whizzing down Price of Wales Road saying how drunk she was, and no I am not making this up she had her badger out. I got back at 23.15pm thoroughly traumatised and ate my weight in cheese watching The Bourne Supremacy. Dear God, it’s still burnt on my retinas.
Now, go get your butts over and follow these amazing ladies!


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