12 things I learned at Cybher

1. If you don’t pump for a day, even at eleven months into your breastfeeding journey, you WILL live to regret it

I knew this. So my single electric pump was sitting there in my handbag saying “Hey, lactating lady, remember me?” but like a n00b I ignored it because I was having too much fun at Cybher, my first blogging conference. Also, despite working out where to pump with Mummy Limited who’d been organised enough to check it all out days before, I plain copped out. I’d worn a dress with no boob access as I wouldn’t have to breastfeed. Pumping would’ve seen me topless in the Cybher office. Lovely.

2. My daughter is a stubborn boob enthusiast and she will wait

As in, she’ll wait the 14 hours it takes mummy to get back home. I was so stressed out before going about the milk situation because every time we or anyone else offered her a bottle of ANY kind of milk, she wouldn’t have it. Water – fine. Milk? That only comes out of boobs. This from the baby who was combination fed for months. Anyway, people assured me that she wouldn’t starve herself and she didn’t. She ate lots of food, especially yoghurt, and drank lots of water. Then boy did she make up for it, feeding every two hours the whole night. And yet, I’m still pumping the excess for my aforementioned stupidity.

3. If you’re planning to meet someone so you can go in to a conference together, make sure you mean the same place

I ended up standing outside Charing Cross waiting for Mum2Babyinsomniac having totally missed that she’d said Embankment. So no morning coffee before the games began. At the moment I don’t function without caffeine at the start of the day. I soon found myself cutting short a conversation with Mother’s Always Right like a serious junkie in search of a fix.

4. Plan your journey ahead of time

In fact, I hadn’t got coffee at the station because we’d booked train tickets last minute late the night before and written down the booking code wrong. Then I couldn’t get through to Laurence or Talitha’s godfather Kevin (we were down in Brighton this weekend so they were both looking after her – walking along the beach and looking like a modern family as strangers knowingly smiled at them). So in the end I bought a second ticket, making it the single most expensive Brighton to London journey I’ve ever made. Tell me I will outgrow this? That I’ll one day turn into this thrifty, organised, perfect homemaker? No? Well, OK.

5. Always go into sessions with an open mind

When we got there, I spent time looking through the timetable and thinking: “What on earth is that about?” I vaguely picked what stood out but nothing seemed like it was going to be particularly relevant to me or something I didn’t know about or something I couldn’t search for later. How wrong I was. Virtually every talk was stimulating. I was reinvigorated to keep blogging and trying to create something meaningful. I was challenged to think about what would make it meaningful to me.

6. Within my blogging niche I have a lot of room for experimentation

I joked about being such an erotic blogger hence going to Ruby Kiddell and Lori Smith‘s session on sex blogging. Actually, what I left realising is that as a feminist, a mother and even as a foreigner, I have a wide scope to talk about sex from a distinct point of view. And I don’t mean detailing what goes on in our house though Laurence did look a bit pale when I told him this.

This aha moment repeated itself when I went to the thrift blogging session run by AThriftyMrs. Again, I won’t become a thrift blogger but her session made me realise that I have gained specialist knowledge just by living off one income and there is scope for that direction in this blog if I wanted to pursue it.

Though I mainly went because Transatlantic Blonde said I should, the feminist session reminded me why I want to write more about gender and equality issues. My conscious feminist journey began when I was a first year uni student acting in The Vagina Monologues.

Hopefully my feminist views have matured over the years. Now as mother to a daughter it seems more vital then ever to work at challenging the patriarchy in the world she grows up in even if only in small steps. Also a question came up that made me realise I want to talk about my faith more on the blog. It’s a huge part of me and my feminism DOES fit with it.

Even the self-publishing session run by PJPublisher was useful and I’m not even sure I would self-publish though it could happen. What it did for me was get me to think a bit more about what I want to get out of blogging. That and “I need to get off my arse and write more fiction.”

7. I think too much and don’t do enough

I was seriously flagging by the time I went to Cathy Presland‘s session but hers was probably the most useful considering where I am in my life right now. Talitha is almost a year. The call to return to work is strong, the instinctive need to stay with her is stronger. I know that I need to strike some sort of compromise but haven’t been able to settle on a plan. So I skip around the problem in circles until I collapse, mentally exhausted. I realised in Cathy’s session that I need to take another look at the way I set goals and, more importantly, start acting on them.

8. Small talk is not my thing

I loved meeting other bloggers and had good chats with many but part of the reason I was so shattered on the way back was that I find situations like this emotionally strenuous. It wasn’t always this way.

9. A little prioritising goes a long way

Like a total keen bean I filled every time slot with a session. I wish I’d skipped a couple and just looked for people to have longer and quieter chats with. I also wish I’d made more plans with people ahead of time.

Jax from Liveotherwise and the best accessory ever - and I don't mean the wrap

10. I am rubbish at recognising anyone

Thank you, Tea and Biscotti and Circus mum for coming to say hi but you show me that I’m hopeless. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t recognise David Beckham if he’d been at Cybher.

11. I am broody!

Apparently bloggers like babywearing. There were so many gorgeous wraps there being sported by Liveotherwise, Patch of Puddles and Mixed Up Mummy among others. And all those little babies! Anyway I was happy to get back to mine. In all the excitement, I really missed her. Part of me is beginning to feel ready for another…

12. Fabulous stuff can happen at the eleventh hour

Wellies and Worms, an ecommerce site that sells outdoor clothing for children stepped in at the last minute to sponsor me for Cybher. When I say last minute, I mean on the train up. How cool is that? I’ll tell you all about them later this week. Massive thanks to them.