With hindsight, the £160 could have been better spent. On a 9 month supply of nappies, perhaps. But when I saw those fabulous designer maternity jeans, all notions of financial planning left my head. The soft-as-butter denim and the waistband that moulded under my bump, giving me a normal-looking backside – they were irresistible.
On the train home, however, I started to feel anxious. I was no stranger to smuggling carrier bags past my disapproving husband, or knocking a further £20 off the price of a ‘bargain’ purchase. But how would I explain such a large sum, spent on an item of clothing I’d only wear for 5 months?
The feelings of guilt grew with my tummy. During the latter months of pregnancy it dawned on me that my liberal attitude to money would have to change. For starters, there would be 6 months of surviving on statutory maternity benefit. Not to mention a small person to feed and clothe, plus a buggy, a cot, childcare and education to pay for. The Daily Mail blithely told me it cost £52,605 to raise a child until the age of 5. Marvellous.
It came to a head one morning, when my husband opened the wardrobe to reveal a rail of Topshop maternity clothes. “I think you should start saving for the baby,” he declared. The funky dresses and wrap-tops eyed me accusingly. I knew he was right.
Even so, it took a while for my spending to abate. I still felt that the latest pushchairs were the epitome of cool, and convinced my husband that having one with grey denim-effect upholstery with matching ‘cosy-toes’ was essential. I bought a Mothership of an electric steriliser that exploded the first time I used it.
Then, when Annabella arrived, it became important that she was dressed in style. After all, I was a mess, slopping around in tracksuit bottoms with vomit patches on my shoulder and hair that resembled a gorse bush. My baby became my fashion representative, and ordering cute babygrows online was a great source of entertainment in those dark, early-January days. I stuttered for excuses when my husband crossly banged his bank statements on the table in front of me.
But slowly, as Annabella grew and started bringing joy that was – gasp!- even better than shopping, my attitude to spending finally changed. During my 10 years of working life, even after 2 years of marriage, the money I had earned had been pretty much mine to spend as I pleased. Now our daughter had arrived, however, there was a bigger picture. I was part of a family – the money was meant for us as a team. My purchases were selfish. Plus, I had reasoned that the more money I spent on up-to-the-minute gear, the easier the transition to motherhood would become. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
And so I discovered hidden gems at Mothercare, and the rewards of making my own baby food (much cheaper!). I even enjoyed choosing a Child Trust Fund for the baby (cue stunned approval from my husband). And now that Annabella and her little brother Jack have left babyhood, the cot is on eBay and I’ll snap your hand off for those hand-me-downs. Although I have just spotted a rather gorgeous little sundress on the Mini Boden website…