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In 2013 ago, I moved back to Wolverhampton from London with my husband, where we had been living for the last 10 years. I was 34 weeks pregnant with our first child, about to start an exciting new chapter in life. It was great to live closer to family, as well as some good school friends, with whom I had kept in close touch. It was also lovely to renew friendships with other people from school that I hadn't seen for years. I went to a 'bump social' one evening, where Carly Birchell (nee Richards), a fellow WGHS old girl, happened to be demonstrating different types of slings for carrying your baby and explaining the many benefits for mother and child of 'babywearing.' Little did I know at the time that this was to be the start of many babywearing adventures in the year ahead, but more of that later!

Our beautiful baby daughter arrived, named Maya. The first few weeks are now a bit of a sleep-deprived blur of feeding, winding and changing nappies, experiencing all the highs and the worries of being new parents. It was a big change from my job working in the Government's Department of Energy and Climate Change, where my roles had included representing the UK in the UN climate change negotiations. I found I was missing adult company in the daytime and was ready to get out the house, keen to meet with other parents. There are loads of classes and groups in the area, and I signed up to a few different ones. I found the activities provided by the Wolverhampton branch of NCT were particularly good, as they were free and open to everyone (you don't need to be an NCT member) www.nct.org.uk/branches/wolverhampton. I ended up becoming a volunteer myself and coordinator for the weekly 'Toddle Waddle Walk' in West Park. There are lots of other WGHS old girls who volunteer with NCT (Helen Franklin, Katie and Laura Swann, Tara Dey-Coates, Fleur Sifford (nee Tooby)) and one of our dedicated volunteers, Summer Rowley, was an existing WGHS student until recently who was gaining relevant experience before starting university to study midwifery.

The current coordinator of the NCT Wolverhampton branch is Carly, who I mentioned earlier, As well as this role - and being a mum and part-time teacher - Carly has set up a very succesful business called Sling Swing (www.slingswing.co.uk) which now has franchises across the UK and global interest, and was winner of a nationwide BizMum award! I joined a Sling Swing class, which involves dancing with your babies in a sling, when Maya was 8 weeks old, and took part in a Christmas 'flashmob' in Queens Square. Since then we have performed in many different locations and even taken part in Britain's Got Talent (getting a yes from all the judges, including Simon Cowell!)

Becoming a parent has been a life changing and wonderful experience, not without its challenges. Having a network of friends to offer support, inspiration and reassurance has been invaluable, whether meeting up in person or keeping in touch online. And so many of these friendships started thanks to WGHS!

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