Welcome to Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum column. Each month, the illustrator shares her adventures in motherhood.
Well, baby is here! We welcomed our son Marley Levi Jones to the world on May 1st, and what a journey he’s had already.
In the weeks leading up to Marley’s arrival I was very concerned that my husband would not be able to be present at the birth as there were conflicting reports around how the lockdown protocols were affecting maternity units. Closer to the date however, we were thankfully informed that Kelly would be able to be at the birth – but would have to leave shortly after, before I moved with baby to the maternity ward.
Due to the way Marley was lying, I had a planned Caesarean booked, (as I also did with Riley). Having been through a Caesarean birth before I was comfortable with what was ahead as I had a really good experience last time and recovered quickly and well.
The day before Marley’s scheduled birth however I began to experience sensations I’d never encountered before. I was unsure if they were ‘Braxton hicks’ or in fact early labour contractions, so I stayed in touch with my doctor that day and thankfully the pains subsided that afternoon. I went to bed early that night praying for a good night’s sleep ahead of the big day. However I was woken at 00.30 with pains which I can now denote as ‘Contractions’, and they were arriving every 5 minutes. Marley wanted out sooner than planned!
We immediately rushed to the hospital. As I had not prepared for natural labour at all, I was totally freaking out and finding the pain pretty unbearable! The midwife and my hubby were telling me to breathe through the pain, but I found myself resisting and almost holding my breath. Thank goodness my new best friend, the Anaesthetist, helped me out soon after and Marley entered the world at 4.20am by emergency Caesarean weighing 5.7lbs.
I will never forget when they handed him to me and I saw these two big balls coming towards my face; I was in total shock as I’d been convinced I was having a girl! It was a wonderful surprise and holding Marley on me in those first moments was incredible. Ultimately I was just so relieved he was safely here; our little lockdown baby.
Kelly was only able to stay for a couple of hours until we left the recovery room and didn’t see us until we were discharged thre days later. I felt really sad saying goodbye – it was a bittersweet moment bringing our beautiful son into this world and then having to be separated from each other.
I found comfort knowing Riley would have her daddy and they would look after each other. My job was now to focus all my energy and efforts into my new little man and spend the weekend getting to know him. In some ways I was relieved this wasn’t my first birth experience as I felt more confident and calm in those early days, but in other ways I found myself also comparing birth experiences and considering what was missing from the usual experience of hospital birth.
This time round the ward felt eerily quiet; I was isolated in a private room with staff only coming into see me if I needed them, or to do my observations. The midwives were incredible though; dressed in full PPE it felt really strange not to be able to properly see their faces but I tried to find comfort in connecting with their twinkly kind eyes. The hospital staff as usual were working tirelessly around the clock in very unusual and challenging circumstances, and I appreciate everything they did for me that weekend. I will never forget it.
As well as Kelly, I really missed seeing my family and friends coming to visit in hospital, and the celebratory feeling on the ward. As I was unable to leave my room I didn’t get to meet other mums or babies on the ward and I missed the buzz, the laughter, even the cries. Zoom became another new best friend that weekend and I introduced Marley to my family on a group video call, such a weird experience!
We have been home a few weeks now and have found our flow. There have been unexpected benefits to the unusual circumstances, like being able to spend more time together. Despite everything we are in our little family bubble now, with no pressure to tidy the house for visitors or get ready and we will be able to tell Marley he was part of a unique period in history; our very own lockdown baby.
Jakki Jones’ Top Picks
Star Pick: The Bugaboo Bee5
I adore this model from Bugaboo, it’s such a perfect size for city life, and the carry cot is just perfect for those early snuggly days.
Connock London Hand Sanitiser
Sleepyhead Bananas For Your Pod
Fred and Noah Midnight Gang Print Sleepsuit
Aden and Anais Jungle Swaddles
Babyopathy Essential Oil
Diary of a Mum: Life in Lockdown
As lockdown continues, Jakki Jones reflects on the last few weeks of her pregnancy and prepares for a new arrival with a four-year-old in tow.
As if being thrown into isolation during the middle of a global pandemic wasn’t weird enough, at 37 weeks pregnant I was made redundant from my job. It was a bit of a surprise and there was quite a bit of repetition in the reactions from my nearest and dearest…”No way! Aren’t you protected? You should sue them! They can’t do that!” Well – let me tell you; they can and they do.
I had devoted nearly a decade of my working life to the business and I was shocked and upset that they’d decided to shut the doors on me at my most vulnerable. It wasn’t personal however; this situation had meant they had to clos the whole department (hence the loophole around making a pregnant person redundant) so my pregnancy was ‘circumstantial’ in the eyes of employment law. There just wasn’t another role suitable for me and the whole department was shut down, letting go of three people. “Tough times” was the reply I got when appealing for my mat leave package.
Yes, these are tough times. I know I’m privileged in many ways, without needing to go into too much detail here. But I love my work, I’ve got my own mortgage and bills to pay and despite being married to a successful musician, I still want (and have) to pay them!
The recent global situation has thrown thousands of people into unemployment and there is an uncertain road ahead for many; the thought of finding a brand-new job with one child about to start school and another child imminently arriving is terrifying to be honest. My heart goes out to anyone in a similar position; it is challenging with the ground beneath your feet shifts and it’s happening to us all.
While, sadly, the last few weeks of my pregnancy were upsetting and stressful, and put a bit of a dark cloud over my head, it’s been a few weeks since redundancy happened and I have been trying to put things more into perspective and see things from a different angle. I am hoping this push maybe the start of something great to come. Maybe it’s the push that I needed…any ideas please do send my way. I am also open to job offers!
Before I get on with my next job hunt, this spring will see a big change in my life…baby incoming! Our next little love is due in May. At the time of writing I am expecting he or she in the next few days and I’ve got those happy-but-nervous butterflies in my tummy.
We are ‘ready’, so to speak, but can you ever be totally ready for a brand-new person in your life?! I know when I had Riley my life was turned upside down immediately – in a good way of course! It is a wonderful time and another big adjustment for us all.
It will be different this time with no house full of visitors in the weeks after the birth; obviously the restrictions in place will be with us for the first few weeks of baby’s life at least, and although it will be a quieter time, I am excited for us to have a calm few weeks – as calm as a 4 year old will let us be anyway.
Jakki Jones’ Top Picks
Artipoppe Zietgeist Baby Leopard Classic, £302
For those that know me – know I am obsessed with Leopard Print! I am absolutely in love with this design and I cannot wait for baby to be here so I can wear it with him or her in tow, for our daily ‘one hour exercise out of the house!
Medela Freestyle Flex Pump, £349
Hunter Slides, £35
Binibamba X Tiba + Noir snuggler, £98
Burts Bees All Aglow Lip & Cheek Stick, £12.99
As isolation hits, home schooling reigns and maternity leave begins, Jakki Jones tries to keep calm and carry on in her latest column.
If you’d told me two weeks ago that I’d be quarantined in my house for the foreseeable future I never would have believed you. After pretty much hibernating through winter, I was looking forward to London springtime. And that’s for many reasons: the sun, the pink blossoms appear on the trees, birthday celebrations, Easter egg hunts, serotonin levels on the rise…
We live in a bustling neighbourhood with everything on our doorstep; your pick of coffee shops, gyms, restaurants, parks, pubs, bars. Now a textbook-beautiful spring week arrives, but everything’s suspended in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. It’s a ghost town filled with closed shutters, until further notice.
I was taken by surprise when nurseries and schools were almost instantly closed. The government advised that pregnant women were now in the same high-risk category as the elderly and vulnerable, and therefore have to self-isolate. This sent me in a complete panic. I’m not good at staying in at the best of times and always like to have somewhere to be. My anxiety levels began to creep up. How am I going to stay indoors for the foreseeable future and keep four-year-old Riley entertained?
We happened to be in Wales that week when the news hit. This made the first few days somewhat easier as where we live is a very remote village. Self-isolating is exactly what we do when we go there – soak up the beautiful mountain views, breathe in the fresh air, and relax. However, it’s only usually for a couple of days – a week tops. We travelled back to London on day five – as we had to get back to see my elder stepchildren – and I felt scared and daunted.
My husband Kelly has been great keeping me calm and reassuring me to take it day by day. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. But home schooling? Now that wasn’t something I had planned for the beginning of my maternity leave.
When Monday arrived – our official first day at ‘home school’ – the clock struck 10.30am and it hit me… how the hell am I doing to get through the 12 weeks, minimum? Don’t get me wrong I love being with my daughter, but keeping her entertained in a learning environment is a challenge. I mirrored a timetable from her nursery to give me a guide to stick to. As well as the hourly ‘learning blocks’, there were also scheduled breaks, outdoor times and even mindful-moment slots. But I’ve been trying to stick to it, albeit loosely. After school finishes, we chill and watch a movie or play with toys.
Online classes have been a useful tool; our local dance academy has transferred all classes to a Zoom meeting place – with the kids dancing live from their living room. It’s been amazing how quickly Riley has adapted.
That being said, she’s definitely aware of the virus and says she can’t wait for it to be over. I overheard her singing Tomorrow from Annie the other day – changing the lyrics to ‘tomorrow, tomorrow – the virus goes away tomorrow – it’s only a day away’, which broke my heart a bit. But Daddy Kelly is a brilliant music supply teacher, and we’re having daily singing and guitar lessons!
As I’m in the final few weeks of pregnancy I’ve been trying to be kind to myself where possible and taking a little time each day for this, and I can’t recommend it enough. In order to keep a bit of balance, run yourself a nice bath, pop on a face mask, have a glass of something nice (mine’s an Earl Grey), read a chapter of a book, try a bit of meditation or perhaps learn something new.
We’re in this for the long haul now and will need to adapt, stay positive and have something to look forward to. Hang in there mothers and mums-to-be, I hope you’re all doing OK and being kind to yourselves…
Jakki Jones reveals her top finds for this month…
Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk, £14.95, Weleda
Goldfaden MD Doctor’s Scrub, £65, Space NK
Indulgence Face Mask Pack, £30, Skimono
Cannabis Supercandle, £159, Malin + Goetz
Riley’s Star Product: Skillmatics Places Around Us, £19.99
This brand offers great activities that help kids build their vocabulary while discovering new places. It was recommended to me by my sister Linda, who’s a teacher. During these next few months I’m going to need all the help I can get!
In her latest instalment, Jakki Jones and her growing bump take on a few sessions with a personal trainer.
Pregnancy second time around has definitely been a slightly different experience to my first. The main thing is, I guess, that I’ve had no rest and recoup time.
While pregnancy-number-one weekends were all about me slobbing around the house in my jim-jams and watching box sets, those so-called days off are now completely jam-packed with a mixture of ballet, hip hop, drama, playdates, birthday parties and so on. Saturday is easily the busiest day of any mum (and especially this one’s) week.
And for that reason my energy levels seem lower and I feel constantly knackered. As soon as Riley’s in bed at 7pm I’m desperate to hit the sack myself.
I guess I have to also consider the fact that I’m now four years older and the added daily journey to nursery each morning and afternoon, followed by the commute to work is naturally going to take its toll more. Come 9am I feel like I’ve done half a day’s work already!
On top of all that, my husband has been on a rigorous European tour so I’ve been solo parenting. Lots of people ask me if I find this challenging. The answer is yes and no.
Of course, I really miss having him around, and two pairs of hands are certainly better than one. However as we’ve been together for more than a decade, I’ve kind of gotten used to being by myself for a few weeks around touring schedules.
Obviously, when Riley was born the idea of being on my own for a few weeks without him was daunting, but in reality I’ve got Riley into a routine that really works. Coupled with the fact that she’s really well behaved during one-on-one time – presumably because she has my full attention – I cope very well on my own. Although I do wonder if this is all set to change once Baby Jones 2.0 arrives.
I signed up to a personal trainer two weeks before I found out I was pregnant. I must be one of the rare people with a PT who is actually putting on weight and body fat each week! But the training routine has been brilliant for my body and I’m absolutely loving it.
Two one-hour sessions per week of dedicated me-time. This money would usually be my gin-and- going-out fund, but it’s now instead going towards doing something good for body and I’m really enjoying the benefits.
It’s also been nice to share this experience with my friends and on social media, as I think some people are a bit daunted about doing the gym, especially weight-training when they’re pregnant.
David my PT has been great encouraging and supporting me and I really feel it’s done wonders for my strength, my mind and the baby itself. Happy mummy, happy baby and all that.
Saying that, I returned from the gym last week feeling great, and saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks who told me I was carrying differently compared to when pregnant with Riley.
She told me I was bigger on my ‘tush’ and hip area – and that I must be expecting a boy! So much for my intentions of being a little trimmer. I was a little stunned by the honesty, but while those home truths have sent my lean maternity dreams out of the window, I’m sure a few more squats won’t hurt in the meantime…
Jakki Jones reveals her top finds for this month…
Seeing as I’m resigned to a sober nine months, tea has become my new best friend. And on a psychological level, it’s even better when served up in a very beautiful ceramic cup and saucer. I absolutely adore Burleigh designs, and this pretty pairing is just perfection! Who wouldn’t want to sip their Earl Grey from this?
Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra
Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum: A Family Weekend to Remember
In her latest instalment, Jakki Jones, husband Kelly and daughter Riley – plus the growing bump – take a trip to Paris for a French family weekend to remember
Being married to a professional musician – as you can imagine – means he’s on the road a lot. Most recently he has been away on the Stereophonics’ European tour.
We thought it’d be a great opportunity for a family mini-break. Riley – our three year old – has never been to Paris, so we decided it would be a timely opportunity to take her! And with my baby bump growing fast, I figured it’s now or never… or at least for 2020 anyway.
Eurostar makes travel a whole lot easier with a little lady in tow. We set off early Sunday morning, feeling smug about our impressive packing. We pre-planned outfits for each day, made an immense packed lunch for the journey, and remembered all the usual tech devices, headwear and activity bag. Paris adventure– here we come!
As suspected, the Eurostar journey was gorgeous, pain free and comfortable. And with our M&S picnic, this was fine dining at its best! We arrived at the wonderful Hyatt Paris Madeleine later that day and Riley was delighted to be welcomed by a pick ’n’ mix stall in reception.
Kelly arrived a few hours later and we ran out to meet him as his car pulled up! Despite this being work for him, he was able to have a relaxing family evening, with a rare day off the following day.
Being tourists for only a couple of days it would be rude not to pay a visit to the Eiffel Tower. When we reached the top, who did we bump into, but Kelly’s bandmate, Adam!
Despite the drizzle, the view never disappoints, and Riley loved the excitement of it all. After taking in the Parisian panorama, we took a carousel ride and scoffed a delicious Nutella-filled crepe.
The highlight of the trip was most definitely our evening at daddy’s concert – where Riley was guest of honour. Every door was opened for her and a goodie bag was waiting for her in the dressing room, bursting with treats.
This being-on-the-road malarkey is brilliant! But there’s no doubt about it, attending a gig with a toddler is eventful; we moved from stage side to sound desk, up to the balcony and back to the dressing room for snacks, not easy at six months pregnant.
At the end of the gig, I suggested to Riley that we go to the side of the stage to see ‘daddy’s last song’. She ran to him as we bumped into him in the corridor ahead of the last track. A big good-luck hug certainly perked Kelly up before he took to the stage one last time.
As they started to play Dakota, Riley ran out on stage before I could pull her back. Luckily, she stopped, and just sat down crossed legged and began to clap at the side of the stage.
She watched her dad in amazement until the end where she jumped to her feet for a standing ovation. By this point the audience were now looking at Riley, rather than the band.
Elation peaked when Kelly summoned her over at the end of the song and lifted her up high to rapturous applause from the audience. Although she wasn’t fazed in the slightest it was a night for us all to remember. Now, perhaps a more chilled-out babymoon is on the cards next…
Jakki Jones reveals her top finds for this month…
I had a Silver Elwood gifted to me four years ago when I had Riley and it was literally a godsend. Not only does it look cool as hell, it’s so practical and even an insulated compartment for a bottle of milk (or mini bottle of prosecco!). This pastel pink number is a definite must for me… LOVE!
Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum: New Beginnings
In this instalment, Jakki Jones opens up about becoming a mum (and stepmum) for the first time, and how she’s learning to juggle it all…
I was brought up in West London – a Londoner through and through – and am fortunate to have had a gorgeous childhood. With Irish parents, I was the youngest of three girls and still to this day love being the baby!
Music has always been my passion, so it wasn’t a surprise that I went on to study classical music – and have since fallen into a career in music and entertainment. I head up the talent and influencer relations department at an American PR firm called PMK*BNC. I deal with a lot of musicians, actors and celebs in my daily work and – like most – balance a crazy family life on the side.
I started working at PMK*BNC in 2011, prior to which I was at Warner Bros Records and MTV, where I booked talent for various shows. I also have a little side-hustle called Jakki Doodles, something that transpired out of mid-meeting doodling.
Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to have cards published and sold in various shops such as Selfridges and Paperchase. But it was at MTV where I met my husband, Kelly (lead singer of British band Stereophonics) – and I may add – he has been my best booking to date. I have two wonderful step kids, Colby and Misty and I entered the parenting world relatively young, at the age of 25. My first experience of being a mother was through them.
Becoming a stepmum overnight – and at such a young age – was sometimes quite challenging, but a great learning experience for me. This absolutely meant that when I did decide to become a mother, I was absolutely ready for it.
I became pregnant at 33. It was a good time for me personally – and my career – I felt confident. I took to motherhood ‘third-time round’ like a duck to water – everything felt familiar and dare I say it, easy? Riley, now three, is my world. I think being a stepmother definitely taught me to be selfless – if you can help bring up other people’s children, you can most certainly bring up your own.
I willingly took the full year’s maternity and enjoyed each and every day. And transitioning back to work wasn’t too daunting as I’d kept my foot in the door. I just desperately missed Riley in those early few months.
The juggle became even more apparent – and still to this day I feel like I’m spinning a million plates. Is this just what it’s going to be like? Luckily for me, the hours I work are flexible – the negative side being that I never switch off and am always on call. Entertainment certainly isn’t a 9-5 job.
Having Riley definitely helped me be a better step-parent and wife – as I saw things from a different perspective and finally saw everything I didn’t ‘get’ before. I was no longer a mum in training! Just when everything seemed to calm in the Jones household with a now 15 year old, 12 year old and three-and-a-half year old – we thought we’d crank it up a gear!
2020 is going to bring us a whole new set of challenges with an exciting new chapter in May, as we’re expecting another baby! Naturally, I penned this little doodle to tell our friends and family the good news. Let the crazy commence…
Jakki Jones’ top finds…
- Your Pregnancy Week by Week
- Neev Spencer’s All Things Motherhood
- Maternal Mental Health: Who’s Looking After Mum?