Reflections on Britmums Live

13:27 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

There are hundreds of Britmums Live posts around at the moment and I always enjoy the opportunity to read the attendees' reflections upon their experiences at the event. This was my second year there and was a rather different experience than last year, for a variety of reasons.

I wanted to share my thoughts about our time in London and, as none of you really care what I ate for my dinner on Friday night, I think I'll do this by telling you what I learned this weekend.

A brand new baby is a great ice breaker...

When I realised that I'd have a teeny, tiny baby by the time Britmums Live rolled around this year I announced that I was going to have to sell my Super Early Bird ticket. All of my friends said 'why? Just bring baby along.' So I didn't sell my ticket but I did worry about how I would find it and, when Little E was overdue, I was keeping a close eye on the calendar to work out exactly how old our new arrival would be by the time we travelled to London. In the end Little E was 24 days old at Britmums Live, the youngest baby there, and a definite ice breaker as some people ran towards me to meet him! I had the opportunity to meet up with bloggers who I didn't know much beyond a passing chat on Twitter and to chat with those I knew better - like some of the fantastic #BlogBumpClub (many of whom had their gorgeous babies with them too) - and I really don't think I would have chatted to so many people without him there.

A photo posted by The Brick Castle (@thebrickcastle) on

Britmums Live is easy with a baby...

Perhaps easy isn't the correct word here but I genuinely wouldn't be put off attending Britmums Live with a small baby. Not that I will ever be in that position again! Beyond his aforementioned ice breaking abilities, Little E spent most of the weekend just as he would at home. He was pushed in his pram, and carried around by me or others. I found it easy to find places to find a quiet spot to feed him in and I was so pleased that I was never on my own when I did so. One of my favourite places to sit and feed was the outside area as the sofa cushions were the perfect support for breastfeeding and there was usually someone I recognised out there to sit and chat with while E fed. This was rather nice as I got the chance to have a proper chat with a few people who I wouldn't have spoken to properly otherwise. Little E and I even tried babywearing for the first time... we'll ignore the fact that he was sick all over me five minutes after this photo was taken!

Babywearing with Little E at Britmums Live

If you're going to have a small baby next year I'd definitely take them along with you, at Little E's age they only care about milk, cuddles, a clean nappy and sleep and he hardly cried at all.I think it is harder with more mobile babies as they do require a little more entertaining than tiny infants but there are many, many worse places to take a baby to than a conference filled with 700 other mums and dads.

Sleep deprivation means that you constantly check the badges of people you meet, even if you've chatted to them every day for the past few years...

I'm usually great with names and faces, I'm quite proud to be 'the one that recognises people' but this year I had to rely on squinting at badges rather more than I was comfortable with. I was so tired on the Friday that I managed not to recognise a couple of people who I've met a few times before! Complete fail. I think I was better on the Saturday, after a decent night's sleep.

It doesn't really matter what you do when you are there...

I attended the same number of breakout sessions this year as I did last year. Three in total. It's not very many if you look at the packed schedule but it was right for me this year, and last year. The difference is that I was completely comfortable in my choices this year and I didn't feel like I was being a bit naughty in skipping sessions. I always go to all of the keynotes, they are an important aspect of the conference for me and I usually find them inspiring and emotional. That was no different this year, except for the penultimate speaker on the Saturday. I really struggled to understand the message Caprice was attempting to deliver and I think it was my most disappointing experience of a keynote at any conference I've attended.

I'm stronger than I think I am...

On Thursday night on Facebook I was in tears and talking to some of my best blogger friends on Facebook and the idea of attending Britmums Live felt completely impossible. I wasn't packed. I had work to do and I'd barely slept for two nights. I was exhausted and planning a trip to London with a brand new baby. To their credit none of them complained and said I had to go but I knew I did have to go. For me, and for Jenny. A few weeks ago Jenny was asked to read her post, Dear Elspeth, as one of the Bloggers Keynotes on Saturday evening. I nominated Jenny to read the post and it remains one of the most powerful and moving pieces of writing I've ever read. Jenny asked me to stand alongside her as she read in support, and to take over if she couldn't continue. I was so honoured to be asked and there wasn't really anything that would have prevented me from being there for her. I felt like I would burst with pride as Jenny read her words to our community and I watched as they wept for her and Elspeth and all rose to applaud her and salute her courage.

A photo posted by Jen Dixon (@mymummyspennies) on

Prior to Jenny's reading I couldn't allow myself to be moved by any of the blogger keynotes, and had to listen impassively but afterwards I could relax and allow myself to be taken along on the emotions of each post, whether happy or sad. I must mention the beautiful writing in 23 Week Socks' Twinkle Twinkle which absolutely broke me and I sobbed along with everyone else. It was very hard to listen to with my infant son sleeping in his pram beside me and was an amazing tribute to NICU families and the teams who work so hard for them.

Bloggers are the best friends I could wish for...

If you're taking a tiny baby to London for the weekend, you really need to be accompanied by people you trust to help if you need it and I couldn't have chosen a better group to travel with. Colette and Jen were the most amazing travelling companions for Jenny (who was two weeks post-op from major abdominal surgery), Little E and I. We didn't have to worry about bags as they dragged ours as well as their own, and I appreciated being sent to bed by Mary on Friday night when she realised that the hotel reception wall was actually holding me up.

Whenever I needed a minute I always had someone around who I could trust to look after Little E and I loved the opportunity for so many friends to meet him properly.

That I'll definitely be back next year...

Early last week I was thinking that this would be my final Britmums Live. I was expecting to find it hard with the baby and to have a similar experience to last year. It was so much better though and I'll definitely be returning next year. The opportunity to spend two nights away from home every year, with some of my very best friends is too good to miss out on and I enjoyed it more than I thought possible this year. It was relaxing from beginning to end as we set our own pace, thanks to Little E and Jenny's recovery, and I can genuinely say it was the most stress-free trip to London I've ever had. When you live in the North like us, Britmums Live is the only opportunity we get to meet up with many good friends, without it I simply wouldn't see many bloggers I know well and like very much. Events which we both get invited to are seriously thin on the ground! Britmums Live is one of the rare opportunities I get to be me now, and although I was still firmly in mum mode this weekend with Little E, I still had the chance to enjoy everyone's company.

L-R: Fiona, Mary, Jen, Jenny, Helen, Eileen, Anna, Kel, Colette and me

This gorgeous group of women is the reason I'll probably keep returning to Britmums Live, while they do anyway! I really couldn't have done it without them.

Little E and I were sponsored to attend Britmums Live by tommee tippee who I'm so excited to be working with as one of their Mumbassadors this year. I'lll be sharing lots more from them over the coming months, including a very exciting product launch next month.