Stacey Duguid

A writer with a penchant for Preen

Photos by Andrew Woffinden

I love all the pictures you see of my kids and me on this site, but they don’t portray the total mania that occurred moments before they were taken. Take, for example, the lovely shot of my daughter and me. We’re cuddling, she’s wearing a cute Elsa-from-Frozen dress, I’m in my favourite Preen sweatshirt, my God we’re the image of mother daughter perfection. Except moments before Martha had a tantrum over a toy and as she buried her head in my shoulder screaming ‘go away’ to her brother and Nico. And I began to sweat profusely like a piglet off to the slaughter house. I’m aware harassed, sweaty and in need of a large drink is not how I appear in that picture, but believe me when I tell you that’s exactly how I felt.

SD1

And that’s the conundrum I face. As somebody who loves fashion and great photography, how can I have a blog with terrible imagery (sweaty mum, screaming child, piles of steaming washing, a loo covered in toddler poo). And anyway, who wants to see that stuff, life is full of it!  But I don’t want to alienate women or make them feel bad about themselves by projecting a perfect image of motherhood either. I won’t lie, it’s done my head in thinking about it.

I talk openly below about my less-than-perfect first few months of motherhood. Truthfully speaking: they were awful. I gained seventy pounds during my first pregnancy and not that far off with the second, mostly because the nausea only stopped when I was eating – true story. I lost my identity due to the fact so much of it was wrapped up in what I ‘do’ as opposed to who I ‘am’ and found the transition from ‘person who goes to work’ to ‘person who stays at home with a baby’ very, very difficult. Bearing all that in mind, and given how truthful our first interviewees have been about their parenting / life experience I reckon we’ll go with some pretty pictures to look at and keep our words as bullshit free as possible.

SD2

I’ll be blogging weekly the From Tom Ford To Gina Ford button and I promise never to say ‘my kids complete me’. Completely annoy me, completely wear me out, drive me completely bonkers….

Enjoy some pretty pictures! What’s the worst that can happen? Actually, don’t answer that, I’ve been on a flight with a six month old baby and a two year old.

The day I knew I wanted to work in fashion...

Was in my Saturday job lunch break.  My mum's friend owned a few shops in rough parts of Edinburgh. A cross between Boots-without-the-chemist and a pound shop, I loved being a shop girl. At the end of each shift I'd blow half my wages on hair gel and body spray then go next door to buy a magazine.

I was thirteen, living in a suburban small town eight miles south of Edinburgh and was the only kid at school who wanted to be Linda Evangelista. I remember sitting at the back of the shop one Saturday lunchtime flicking through i-D or The Face, totally mesmerised by something I couldn't quite describe, but knew I wanted in on.

Everything in my career happened by chance…

I wish I'd met a career advisor at school who'd heard of Central St Martins. At the state school I went to, creative pupils were pushed towards art school or hairdressing, so I chose art school, which was a disaster. I ended up dropping out and moving to London with no money. I worked on the shop floor of Harvey Nichols and in a pub at night until somebody offered me a work placement at a PR agency. Everything that happened after that, including becoming a writer, was pure luck. I sometimes wish I'd had a plan.

My father was absent from my childhood...

My parents divorced when I was three and my mother and I went to live with my maternal grandparents, leaving my father in the house with all our stuff. I remember mum and I fleeing; even at three years old I remember the raised voices and nasty arguments. Things were financially tough for my mum, she looked after me during the day and worked on a till in a supermarket at night. That's where she met her second husband, the father of my younger brother, Lee. Money was tight, but honestly speaking the years spent at my grandparents' bungalow in Manchester were the happiest days of my life.

I'm from nowhere…

I was born in Manchester, raised in Edinburgh and live in London. To be honest I feel like a Londoner. London is in my soul.

We moved from Manchester to Edinburgh when my mum remarried. I was six years old and arrived in a small Scottish suburb with a broad Manchester accent stronger than Deirdre Barlow. I couldn't understand a word people said, but I soon picked up the lingo. I probably sounded like someone doing a bad impersonation of Billy Connelly.

My lasting memory of Scotland, apart from the humour and all the amazing people, is the fact my father didn't come to visit. I remember feeling like I'd done something wrong. My childhood anxiety has never really gone away, I've just learned how to deal with it.

The one thing I've learned since becoming a mum is women don't complain nearly as much as they should…

Who the hell endures nine months of raging pregnancy hormones, vagina-Armageddon and months of sleep deprivation and 'just gets on with it'?

After I had my first child I wanted to hug women in coffee shops and beg for forgiveness for all the snarky comments I’d muttered beneath my breath as you blocked the pavement with your effing mum-tanks. I had NO IDEA how tough being a new mum could be. And I wouldn't have believed you if you'd tried to tell me.

During the early days of having a newborn I'd shower, wash my hair, apply make-up, leave the house, drink coffee, ring a friend, walk around the park, and pretend a nine pound baby hadn't just been pulled out of my lower abdomen…

But the truth is I was hideously depressed and only felt better when my son was around fourteen months old.

I remember the day my post-natal depression lifted. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon at V Festival and as music blared and beer swished round a bottle in my hand, the melancholic soundtrack to my post-baby life suddenly flicked off like a switch on a stereo. The whole world felt like watching a TV set being retuned. Life was brighter, clearer and suddenly audible; it's weird how depression dulls the senses.

Having postnatal depression was frightening and I was too scared to talk to a professional, as I assumed they'd take my baby away from me. A few days after having my second child the mid-wife came round to do her usual check up. I was so nervous she'd think I was incapable of looking after my baby, so planned to put on a breezy front. But my boyfriend told her all about my previous postnatal depression and I remember thinking, 'well this is it, they're going to be take away my babies'.

During the early months I wished I hadn't been so concerned with trying to be 'normal'…

I wish I could've relaxed, but instead I fought new motherhood every second of the day. I had to stay in control and couldn't comprehend what other women meant when they said "forget everything and concentrate on the baby". Every single day was a battle. It's only now I realise I wasn't being a bad mother, I was just doing my best to cope.

The things that got me through the very early days were...

Wine. Coffee. Chocolate. Toast. Chanel Mascara. Strictly Come Dancing. My boyfriend. More wine. Looking at catwalk shows online. Ordering shit loads of clothes from Matches and Net-a-Porter then sending the whole lot back.

My advice to a new mum would be…

If you can't breastfeed it's not the end of the world. Ignore the breastfeeding mafia and anyone who tell you 'breast is best'. Breast is only best when you and your baby are having a good time, your child is getting enough to drink and you aren't slipping over the edge. I'll never forget sobbing to the tune of my breast-pump, looking back I felt like I'd been brainwashed.

Despite the rocky start, I am my true self when I'm with my children…

Without wishing to sound like a cliché, I am happiest when I'm with them and I hate being away from them for more than eight hours. They make me laugh as much as they drive me mad, but we are a team, a solid crew. I tell them how much I love them and how much they are loved every single day. I think that's important.

I let my children eat what they want within reason…

I've never made a fuss about food, there is no bribery "if you eat one more carrot you can have…" Although thinly sliced sweet potato baked on a roasting tray for twenty minutes make excellent 'chips'.

My pregnancy style tips are…

Do the opposite of what I did and don't panic buy everything from Selfridges because you've gained five stone and can't see your feet. All you need is a pair of flat biker boots in the winter and NIKES or Birkenstocks in summer. Leggings that end above your bump are your best friend (I liked ASOS), layer t-shirts and long-sleeved stretch-tops beneath short sleeve tunics and blouses and don't worry about your coat not closing - go to Zara and buy a huge scarf. If all else fails wear a distracting lipstick and remember you're the only one freaking out about the size of your ass.

I love the high street...

Especially shops like &Otherstories, Finery and Zara. I mix high street with Preen, APC, MIH and ACNE.  For girls stuff, although the sizes are tiny, I shop at Zara, but I tend to buy leggings from H&M and go to Monsoon for hippy holiday things.

The high street is so good for kids. I go to Debenhams for fun summer bits and M&S for their underwear. GAP is great for boy's and girl's jeans, but I've recently discovered elasticated waist band jeans from H&M – genius for those "MUMMY I NEED A POOOOOOO!" moments. Uniqlo is amazing for boys sweatshirts, logo t-shirts and check shirts and I love Polarn O Pyret for rainwear. I buy Clarks for shoes for both kids and only buy 'designer' kids stuff such as 'Wild & Gorgeous' in the sale in a whole year too big.

My fantasy dream wardrobe for my daughter would be Preen Mini. Only because my fantasy dream wardrobe for myself is Preen grownup.

When things get too much I for a run…

I hated exercise until a year ago. Then one day I woke up sick of moaning about feeling tired and fat and went running. (Err, a small twenty minute jog). Within a year I've managed to run two half marathons and the London Marathon. The endorphins and happy high from running are indescribable unless you were a "clubber" in the nineties, then you'd understand….

When I travel abroad with kids I find alcohol helps…

I once heard about a family on a flight who taped black bin bags all around their seats to create a sort of bin-bag cave. Holy shit. I don't recommend getting on a flight with bin bags and a roll of gaffer tape, not when a large scarf to hide behind when your kid does something terrible (spits a brown sludge Ella thingy at your neighbour). Failing that, order a very large G&T. My best travel advice is to stay at home, and to steal my friend's gag, "a holiday is an expensive relocation, but shit…"

My life mantra is…

Get over yourself. I'm trying.

Tell us a joke…

Knock knock
Who's there?
A transformer
A transformer who?
A transformer knocking on the door.

It was made up by a four year old hence why it's not funny. Apologies.

My Favourite Things

My Kids Favourite Things

Instagram

@nicoandnate