We’ve been with British chef Jamie Oliver all week cooking up a storm. But now it’s time to meet his better half, Jools Oliver. She’s was invited on “Today” to talk about her new book, “The Diary of an Honest Mum,” which opens with her attempts to get pregnant and continues on through her first year of motherhood. Read an excerpt:
IntroductionThe Diary of an Honest Mum is about a life-changing experience, and one that all women who are pregnant for the first time will go through. Not everyone’s experience is the same and this book is my own take on things, but I hope that I might be of some help to you when you’re going through the same worries that I had as a new mum. And even if you’re not pregnant at the moment, I hope you might just enjoy reading it anyway.
I have to admit that it has always been a secret passion of mine to write a book. When I became pregnant for the first time and started out on the incredible journey to becoming a mum, the experiences that I was going through — the worries, the never-ending excitement, the miracles, the laughter and the mind-blowing hard work — really stretched and challenged me in ways that I never expected. And we’ve only been parents for three years! So I thought that it would be fun to write about the journey I found myself on.This certainly hasn’t been written as a guidebook for pregnant women, or as a medical reference book for that matter, although I have included a glossary of medical terms at the back of the book. When I first discovered I was pregnant, I found it very hard to and one book that encompassed everything that I was interested in knowing about. I wanted to have a bit of medical stuff, set out simply with all the obvious questions and answers, and I also wanted a bit about the aftercare of your newborn (although I found it hard to even think past the labor!). And I wanted all this to be bound up with a lot of humor, because with everything being thrown at you, you will definitely need a laugh! So this book is my honest look at what happened to me and all the experiences I went through, from trying to get pregnant to having my second daughter a year after my first. Whether you’re trying for a baby, pregnant for the first time or bringing up two children under two (like I was last year) then I hope this book might help to show you how I coped in those circumstances.
The way I have set out the book will show you everything that happened to me from “minus nine” (when I became pregnant) to “one” (when Poppy had her first birthday) and is really my personal journal. Towards the end of the book there is a section called “The Food Bit” which, being married to Jamie, I couldn’t really leave out, as food is such an important issue in our family! It’s a handful of recipes that I make to feed the girls now they are both on solids and hopefully it will help to give you some ideas in the kitchen if you are stuck.
This is simply my story. I hope that you can relate to it in some way, that you enjoy it and maybe, if you have time, even relax with it in the bath!
PrologueSo here I am on my knees surrounded by antibacterial wipes, disinfectant spray and POO! A very familiar scene to mums of young children all over the world, I’m sure. When I first became pregnant I would daydream about how wonderful it would be to be a mum – I wasn’t really thinking of how baby wipes would become my best friend in moments like this. . . .
Once again my youngest daughter, Daisy (who will no doubt kill me for telling you this story in 10 years’ time!), has decided to cover herself in her poo. This has been happening on a regular basis for the last few weeks. She decides to wait until she is inside her freshly laundered Grobag, in her pristine white cot, surrounded with toys and books, during her lunchtime nap. And then she poos. And then she gets it EVERYWHERE, usually decorating her cot with it. I generally never make it in time to catch her. I walk into her room and see her cheeky smile as she shows off her artistic abilities and invites me to join in!
Today it doesn’t seem at all funny though. I am a bit ticked off as I see that she has done it yet again. I’m tired. We’ve just moved to a new house and the place is full of builders, plumbers and engineers. All I can hear are drills and the pounding of the radio, and I’ve got a headache. We’re now going to be very late for Poppy’s ballet class and on top of all this the plumbers have turned off the water and electricity . . . arghhhhhhh!
So as I said, I am now on my knees wondering what or who to scrub first. I’ve got Daisy running naked around the bathroom, still covered in poo, and Poppy now awake and dragging her dolls, books and blankets into the bath. I decide to tackle the one object which is stationary, and also the worst affected . . . in this case it happens to be Buzz Lightyear! How on earth Daisy managed to get poo stuck between his head and his helmet I will never know. Putting on a pair of surgical gloves, I attempt to give Buzz back some of his dignity, but at the crucial moment (I accidentally pressed a button) he announced, “THIS IS AN INTERGALACTIC EMERGENCY!” You said it, Buzz. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. . . . Welcome to motherhood!
Chapter 1: Getting to minus nine
I have always wanted children since before I can remember. Like most little girls, I knew all the names of my children and of course their sexes! Ironically, I really wanted to have four boys . . . I am not sure why. Perhaps it was because I was a complete tomboy up until the age of 15, most of my friends were boys, I supported Arsenal football team (because my dad did and I was a daddy’s girl!) and wore Doc Martens boots with everything. I knew that family was also very important to Jamie, and we started talking about children very early on in our relationship. Once we were married we would start trying for children straightaway.
So with this in mind, we decided to get married when we did (I was 26 and Jamie was 25). I started to take folic acid to prepare my body and read up about pregnancy. I couldn’t wait . . . Trying for a baby is brilliant fun, of course, until you realize that maybe it’s taking slightly longer to get pregnant than you first imagined. I naively thought that I would definitely have a honeymoon baby and it would all be very simple and romantic. How wrong was I
I had always known about my possible problems with fertility because I’d had irregular periods from about the age of 16, and had been to see the doctor. He had confirmed that
I had polycystic ovaries and that there was a chance they may cause me problems later in life. But we had purposely pushed it out of our minds, hoping that doing all the textbook things would be enough to conceive. I even bought a batch of pregnancy test kits when I returned home from our honeymoon (thinking that we had definitely made a baby). If you have ever found yourself in this position you’ll understand when I say that trying just one test is never enough. They all tested negative.
The weeks went by and there was no sign of my period (although this was not unusual for me) so I took this to mean that I WAS pregnant and the negative testing was wrong. I then decided to try out different brands of pregnancy tests, as I was convinced that just being 99% accurate was not enough. Of course I hid them all from Jamie and took them secretly, fantasizing that I would emerge from the bathroom and come downstairs to him with those two wonderful words, “I’m pregnant!”
One night I remember really craving strawberry cheesecake. I just had to have some and, as I didn’t have any at home, it became an obsession. Jamie was at work, it was 8:30 pm and I couldn’t think of anything else, so I hopped into the car and drove to our local Sainsbury’s for an individual cheesecake. Naturally I took this to be the start of my pregnancy cravings! However, I wasn’t pregnant. This process went on for a number of months, and in between the trying to conceive and the tests it seemed to consume my life.
Excerpted from “The Diary of an Honest Mum,” by Jools Oliver. Copyright (2006) Jools Oliver. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion.