Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Last weekend at Britmums Live 2015.....

Last weekend, 14 days after major abdominal surgery and with a lot of help from some brilliant friends, I went to London and I stood in front of a room full of my peers. I read something I'd written and I got a standing ovation and I made them all cry (for which I am sorry). It was the proudest and most bitter-sweet moment of my life.

Last weekend at Britmums Live 2015...

It was quite a big ask to travel down to Britmums Live in London from Manchester 2 weeks after  surgery, and I make no apologies for the fact that the end of this post will be linktacular. I genuinely could not have gone to Britmums Live 2015 without a heck of a lot of help from a lot of people.


I bought my ticket way back in July, and apparently I forgot about about that, because I bought another one in November. I only discovered this a month ago, but luckily was able to sell one on in time, and therefore had cash for my expenses without dipping into the houshold pot. It was a great start.


Britmums Live started with an ice breaker and sadly it was far too active for me, so I had to sit it out with the most gorgeous man in the room - 3 week old Red Rose Baby

3 week old Red Rose baby

And everyone else got to completely wrap up someone they barely knew with toilet roll! It was actually hilarious....

Britmums live Mummy World Record Attempt

Going On An Adventure's Colette shows us how it's done - hokey kokey style. Flamenco, and then pretend you're an aeroplane.... and why didn't we all run away while they stood and waited to be judged!? Missed opportunities....if a little obvious.

Britmums live Mummy World Record Attempt

Out into the brand den and I genuinely loved the Sew And Sew room, yet I didn't lift a needle. I was happy enough walking through and taking in the atmosphere. I tried to break a record, I spotted Parragon's typo (did anyone else spot that?), and I ate ice cream made from cashew nuts and frozen berries.

Britmums Live 2015 Vitamix Guinness Lindemans Parragon

I think with this being my second time here, and I've been blogging a bit longer, I'm braver and prepared to talk to the brands more confidently. Last year I would stand around and not catch anyone's attention and then wander off. This year I chatted to everybody! Or maybe it's just my painkillers....

Britmums Carol Smillie Diary Doll Pants

I did definitely talk pants with Carol Smillie, and it was brilliant. Genuinely a fascinating chat and she was smily, and she was down-to-Earth and lovely. And she's 53. I wish I'd looked that good at 33. Her Diary Doll pants are pretty excellent. A bit pricey, but I definitely think it's worth getting a couple of pairs. Trust me - you can barely feel it any difference to your regular knickers....I was really hoping for a pair in the goodie bag!

I took a great photo of Emily A Mummy Too. She says I shouldn't show anyone, but no-one can be embarrassed by this photo...and if she asks, no-one's looking....right?

Emily Leary A Mummy Too

I did go to sessions, and I did learn stuff. I met some amazing people who really I was in awe of, and was asked "are you any good?" by the fabulous Post 40 Bloggers founder HerMelness (I declined to answer - in case you were wondering). We had a celebrity keynote from Caprice, and then the Bloggers Keynote. I tried hard not to cry at the posts that came before mine. I'd read them all, twice, just to get to know them.

I knew I was 7th. I'd learnt the order.

I worried for Helen, who was reading before me. She went into the loo on her own and I knew how scared I was, so I had to go and check if she okay, and I cursed that bloody squeaky door. She was about as okay as I was...

And then it was my turn. Pippa came with me to the stage and I did not look up. I stared at the lecturn and I realised I had to speak. I've spoken to big audiences before, but not when the subject was my own. I thought I couldn't do it. My mouth didn't move, and everything was in slow motion and when it finally came the first line felt like I spat it out, and then my voice just didn't work properly. I croaked my way through so much of it before I reached a part that was harder for me, and my voice cracked, and I paused and I knew I'd done that hard bit, so I carried on, and I did it. And I did look up at the end, and I saw everybody stand up, and I knew I did okay. I did her proud.

I wrote Dear Elspeth because I didn't want anyone to blame Elspeth for what happened, I didn't want them to gossip about her and be negative about her. I wanted to protect her from that because it wouldn't have been fair. I never for one minute thought it would elicit the response it did. I've had far too many people contact me and tell me they have sought help, and their family members have sought help, after reading it. Every single one made writing it worthwhile.

And then I felt awful because Leta had to go on stage already upset, and she was on her own up there. I knew her post was going to be hard for her, and I'm sorry.

The post that stands out most for me was Twinkle Twinkle from 23 Week Socks. I cried so much reading it, I was delighted I did not have to go on stage after Louise.

In the photo below I'm the purple faced one in the middle. I didn't realise it at the time, but the paracetamol I'd been prescribed was to keep my temperature down, so I hadn't worried about not taking it - obvious with kids, not so obvious with adults - doh! The people with me are the people who made Britmums Live possible for me. They were the ones sitting at my table as I waited to go on stage. They organised for the gorgeous sunflowers from the Lindemans Wines stand to be on my table when I came off stage. . .Those people looked after me. They made sure I always had a drink, I ate my dinner, I didn't pick anything up or carry anything, and they never left me on my own.

Best bloggers in the world


Thank you to Sim, who couldn't be at Britmums Live, but she sat in my kitchen and listened to me practice reading my post aloud until I could get all the way through without crying, or going to make another brew, or nipping to check if someone was at the door.

Thank you to Mary, and Pippa, who made my wish of  "please can a magic fairy just organise everything  and tell me what time I should leave my house and who I should pay?" into a reality (I even got picked up from my house).

Thank you to Jen, and everyone else who at any point dragged my case or carried my bags for me, picked up everything I ever dropped, saved me a seat, and ignored me when I fell asleep at inappropriate times (I actually really wanted to see that session).

Thank you to Colette for sharing a hotel room with me and calmly pausing the conversation whenever I was sick, then carrying on as if nothing exciting happened, and for going out at midnight with Kel while I was sleeping, to buy me some plain crisps and clear pop so that I could get enough lining into my tummy to take my tablets when I woke.

Thank you again to Pippa, who despite having a 3 1/2 week old baby came up on stage and held me in a solid bear hug the entire time, and didn't complain when I squeezed her hand in a vice grip, and also had the somewhat important job of reading for me if I couldn't finish.

Thank you to everyone who was there, everyone who wasn't. Everyone who watched and everyone who read. Everyone who nominated. Britmums Live 2015 was an amazing experience, but I'm sure you will all understand when I say that I wish it had all been a dream.

See you next year.

48 comments:

  1. So many times since Saturday have I written you a message to say how blown away I was by you but deleted it because the words just didn't seem right - and they still don't. I read your post the day you posted it and my heart broke that day and hearing you read it out loud it did again. Here is where the words fail me but I just wanted to try to convey how beautiful your words and post for Elspeth were and are. I remember Twitter filled with beautiful yellow sunflowers. Sending love. Hope you had a nice weekend xx

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    1. Thank you so much Beth, I really had an amazing weekend, I am constantly in awe of how lovely everyone is, and how much support you all give us. Thank you for your comment xx

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  2. What amazing people you are surrounded by, I was welling up just reading this!
    I'm so glad you managed to come - and to get up on stage and read such an emotional post! x

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    1. Thank you, and I really was surrounded by not only those fabulous people, but all the rest of you who aren't in that photo xx

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  3. You did amazingly well this weekend! I remember attempting to go to an event 2 weeks post csection on my own with 3 kids. I slept for the next week once I was home! Hope you are getting some rest now. You were so brave on stage and I was willing you along the whole time hoping you would get to the end as I knew how nervous you were. Elspeth would be proud. You really do have the best friend group a girl could ask for sounds like they were amazing all weekend. Was lovely to see you and hope to see you again soon x

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    1. Thankfully I did not have 3 kids with me!! It was really lovely to see you again too - you always look so bloody smart and stylish though - you put us all to shame!!

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  4. You did so amazingly well up there Jenny and I so agree with wanting a pair of those pants in the goodie bag! ;) It was so lovely to meet you in person too. x

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    1. It was great to meet you too! I have to say you are one of the few people who is instantly recogniseable from your photos :)

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  5. You are so brave and amazing. I attended BritMums on Saturday with my sweet Baby Son but left early and it was not the inspirational day I was expecting. But your story has made me cry for your sweet Elspeth but also for those amazing friends that showed you so much love this past weekend. I wish I could give you a big hug and say "thank you". You brave and amazing lady!

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    1. Thank YOU, that's a lovely comment. I'm sorry you didn't find it inspirational this time, please don't give up. Join groups and go to local stuff - you'll get to know some great people xx

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  6. You were amazing, and we all admire you so much. You did her proud and I know I feel lucky to have you as a blogging buddy. You have always been so generous with your advice and have answered so many of my silly questions over the last couple of years. I wish you happier days ahead and get that wedding booked!! xx

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    1. Mary - there's an edit in this post and it was only you who spotted my glaring error! It goes two ways. Thank you - and we will!! :) xx

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  7. You, my friend, were bloody marvellous. I am in awe of your courage and your grace; you stood on that stage and you broke us and you just. kept. reading. and you were amazing. Well bloody done. I don't think we've ever spoken even but listening to you speak, I felt very, very proud of you. x

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    1. I don't know what to say, tha'ts such a lovely comment. Thank you. I hope we do meet one day so that I can thank you in person xx

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    2. We did meet in person, I'm such a div, you were at my table but I can't remember exactly when. You have THE most beautiful hair, I'm so jealous, mine doesn't grow long xx

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  8. You have such a wonderful community around you, supporting you Jenny. I tried to listen to you reading through Periscope but it kept crashing. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must have been to get up there and read but I hear you were amazing.

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    1. Laura, your name isn't up there, but it's only because of geography. You've been there for me for a long time now. Thank you xx

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  9. You are amazing and the ladies which helped and supported you are....
    I watched and listened to you reading your post on the Periscope thingy....You did so well! So brave! Sending massive hugs and lots of love x

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    1. Oh thank you so much Kim, that's so lovely of you. I will always gladly accept a hug xx

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  10. I guess it all still seems very surreal to you, and we have no idea where you found the strength to stand on that stage - but I'm sure you don't know where it came from either. You are the best Mum to Elspeth and you have done her proud. I hope all the cirtual support does help, even if only in some tiny way. Hugs to you all xx

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    1. I can't believe I didn't talk to you, and only saw you when you were across the room - I even got you in one of the photo's up there! You are going on my list for next time! x

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  11. It's great to hear you were well looked after. I only managed to watch you online after you had read Dear Elspeth, but I thought you did yourself proud x

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    1. Oh thanks Angela, that's so lovely of you. I wish you could have been there, but I know you were with us really xx

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  12. Oh sweetheart, there is no need to thank me! You know I will listen anytime and I am glad I was there for you to be able to practice! I am so proud of you for getting up there! So glad Pippa was with you - I barely recognised her, her hair is so much longer! Glad you had a fab time, but you are knackered chick, you need rest now and to soak it all in. So jealous - hope to be there next year! :) xxxx

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    1. I know you will listen any time - hence the thank you ;) xx

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  13. Well done Jenny, what a emotional challenge that must have been, so proud that you did it though xx

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    1. Thank you Jean xx It really was utterly exhausting, I can't lie x

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  14. Your keynote speech was amazing and I am absolutely in awe of how brave and strong you were to stand up there in front of everyone and tell them about the most heartbreaking time in your life.

    Our hearts broke for you and I'm not ashamed to say that I sobbed most of the way through while you kept on reading. I am amazed at the way that you kept yourself together up there; I didn't manage to hold it together during my speech and I wasn't even talking about my own child.

    You are a hugely inspiring lady, a wonderful mum to all of your children and I am honored to have been mentioned in this post and to have been included as ne of the keynote speakers along with you.

    Much Love

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    1. Thank you. Thank you for commenting, and for what you have said. Your post was amazing, and we all cried for the child and the Mum that we'll never meet. It is a beautiful piece of writing that tells so many stories, and I would never have been able to utter a single word on that stage if I had to listen to you read before me. Thank you for your lovely words, and I assure you that you deserved to be mentioned in the post and was very proud to be on the same stage as you x

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  15. Well done hun, that must have been tough to get through but I guess that being surrounded by friends and knowing the family are all behind you.

    But I do have 1 question. Which way do they lean ???

    xxxx

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    1. You are the ONLY person to see it! Well spotted. I don't think Parragon intended them to lean at all, but hopefully it's over to the left ;) xx

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  16. I didn't get a chance to meet you this weekend and for that I'm sorry but im glad that you were able to come. You sound as though you have a fabulous group of friends around you. Your keynote blew me away. I cried and sobbed as you read. You read with such poise and composure. You did Elspeth proud I'm sure.
    Much love xxx

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    1. I'm sorry I made you cry, and please, if and when you ever see me, say hiya! Thank you for your lovely words x

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  17. You were amazing Jenny, Elspeth would have been so proud of you. You are an incredible woman mother and friend and I am so pleased I was able to help you even in the smallest of ways over the weekend, love and hugs xx

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    1. It wasn't the smallest of ways Jen - by 9.30am Friday you were dragging bags across Manchester Piccadilly so that I didn't have to hold anything! xx

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  18. I am going to keep this short otherwise I could waffle for ages, but the summary is - you are awesome, you are inspirational and you read so well on the stage, you did yourself and you family proud. I enjoyed spending time with you this weekend and I am happy to have found such a awesome group of friends through the blogging community! xxx

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    1. Oh bless you Kel. It was really special to spend so much time with you! I've always wanted to get to know you better face-to-face and in all this time we've only ever bumped into each other or had 10 minute chats. Hopefully I've not put you off! :) xx

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  19. You did so well, and bless you for thinking of me when you already had so much on your plate. I held it together for the sake of my own speech, but totally lost it when you got up there and did it so bravely. Lovely to see you, and I really hope your recovery is speedy xx

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    1. Thank you Helen. I've known you a long while now, I couldn't have ignored you, not when I knew you were on your own. You did an amazing job, your post was very long and to hold it together for so much of that time was amazing. And I'm really getting there now, thank you, getting better and less swollen each day - another 3 weeks and I can take my corset off! :) xx

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  20. I knew you'd smash it lady! Xxx

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    1. You spoon! Thank you for your 'good luck' text - it was perfect timing x

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  21. You are an amazing lady! So glad it went well and great to meet you again! ;)

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    1. It was lovely to see you again too Eileen, although I missed the tiara this year :)

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  22. It sounds like an amazing weekend and I'm so glad you had so many fabulous people around you, I just wish I could have been there. You did us all, and Elspeth proud Jenny xxx

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    1. Thanks Tami - like Laura and Angela, it's only because you couldn't get there this year that you don't have a place in that photo. Next year xx

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  23. What you did was incredible. Not just writing the post, not just all the travel and battling on even though you've just had major surgery. It's the fact that, despite it all, you made the journey down to see us - the blogging community. Your presence there made a MASSIVE difference. I'll never forget your keynote - thank you. xx

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    1. Oh bless you Nell. I'm sorry I made everyone cry, I really am. I really wanted to go because the community has done so much for us, it's the least I could do xx

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  24. You did amazingly to even get to Britmums, let alone play a bit a part in the weekend as you did. Elspeth would have been so proud of you Jenny. Lots of love x

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