9 June 2017

New Mum Essentials

The first time I became a Mummy I thought I'd thought of everything. Baby's bedroom was bursting with beautiful new baby grows and accessories galore. I'd stocked up on enough nappies, wipes and cotton wool to see our little human through to pre-school and I'd purchased enough Jelly Cat toys to start my own travelling puppet show. But there was one thing I'd forgotten in all the new baby hype and excitement...me.

Having spent the best part of a year taking such good care of myself whilst cooking our sproglett, the moment she arrived all my energy was thrown into taking care of her and I didn't have any time to look after myself. When your first baby arrives, your life as you once knew it really is flipped upside down and it took me a while before I realised that I just needed a few simple things to make this whole process a bit easier. Having spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what I wanted to do differently this time around, particularly knowing that I have a cheeky little toddler and a previous run in with PND to contend with, I wanted to make sure that this time around I was a little more prepared to take care of me. So here's my list of New Mum Essentials that I hope some new Mummas find useful.

Cushions, Cushions & More Cushions

Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you're going to be spending a lot of time snuggling, cuddling, recovering and of course feeding your new little bean so it's important to feel as comfortable as possible, particularly during the early days and for those long, long, long nights.

As I write this post, baby Billie is propped up whilst on my boob on my Widgey Donut Nursing Pillow. It's a little more in the pricier range of nursing pillows, but I absolutely love it. The fabric is super soft and I've washed and tumble dried the cover loads and it's still really soft and comfortable for both baby and mummy. I took my cushion with me into hospital, so used it as a bump pillow before labour, a support cushion during labour and then to feed baby from that point onwards.

I also have the Widgey Pregnancy Pillow which was a life saver during both my pregnancies when sleeping and I'm currently using it as a support cushion during our night feeds. Both cushions can also be used for baby at a later stage when propping them up to play or supporting them whilst they nap.

A Life Saving Sling

There comes a point when you just want your arms back. Even if it's to sort some washing out or put a bit of mascara on, you'll know when it get's to that point where you'll try anything to free up your hands and a sling could just be your thing.

Some babies don't particularly like being slung in a sling so it's definately worth borrowing a friends for a hour or two or visiting your nearest sling workshop before investing in one. I tried out a friend's sling for just an hour and instantly knew it would be one of the most invaluable purchases I'll make throughout this baby stage. I purchased the Boba Wrap in navy and I pretty much used it every single day until Elsie got too heavy for my back and then I switched to a Baby Bjorn carrier once she was about six months old. Billie has already been in it just so that I can get Elsie's meals prepared and so far it's working a charm this time around.

A Beauty Box...

This might sound a odd, but one of the first things that was neglected pretty quickly when we brought our first baby home was my skin and nails. I was lucky if I had time to shower and brush my teeth each day in the early days, let alone cleanse, tone and moisturise even once a day. It took a few months to realise that I needed to have a little collection of quick and easy products that would not only help me freshen up my knackered state, but remind me of who I was once was too.

This time around I was prepared from the start. I put together a little basket of essentials such as hand cream, hair bands, a nail file, nipple cream, lip balm and a couple of easy-to-use beauty products. A few weeks before Billie arrived, the lovely people at La Roche Posay to see if I wanted to try out their Toleriane range of which I'd heard amazing things about, particularly for sensitive-prone skin, already so course I scrambled over the keys to accept.

The Dermo-Cleanser is light and milky and it easily glides across my skin cleaning up any make up or grim from the day with ease leaving it feeling so fresh and smooth. I follow the cleanse in the morning with the Ultra Moisturiser which again is so light and refreshing, it literally does soothe my skin and it absorbs really quickly. At night I've been using the Ultra Overnight Moisturiser to hydrate my skin, which is very much needed after pulling all nighters with two under twos.

It's been a while since I've been treated to any new products and I think it's safe to say that I've found my new favourite brand. My skin has been absolutely blooming amazing since I started using this stuff. I've been waiting for the post-birth hormonal outbreaks to hit me full force and even though I'm eating chocolate hob-knobs as if they are going out of production, so far my skin is continuing to be the clearest, healthiest I can ever remember it being. This range is perfectly made for postpartum skincare and as a bonus, this skin care range is super affordable so during a time when all your pennies are needed for nappies and wipes, you won't feel guilty about looking after your skin post-pregnancy.

Amazon Prime 

A friend suggested this to me and she was blooming right, best investment ever. Not only is this amazing for the whole family- with movies, box sets and music on tap and free speedy delivery on a whole range of essential stuff you'll need forever, but the main perk of this membership is for those 'oh crap I need nappies asap' moments. Life will be so much easier having those huge heavy boxes of nappies and wipes delivered straight to your door and you can even Subscribe and Save on these baby essentials where they arrive on selected dates so you don't even have to worry about running out. Best subscription ever. Not to mention Peppa Pig on demand at stupid o' clock and The Walking Dead to watch if your baby ever goes the heck to sleep. 

A Notebook & Pen

Perhaps the most simplest and handiest thing on the list, but it's good idea to have a notebook and pen to hand, particularly if you're old fashioned like me and can't get into the habit of using your notes application on your phone. I use mine for jotting down things like gifts so that I can thank family and friends in more detail at a later date, as well as thing like feeding times and lengths in the early days as the days and times can be a real blur whilst you try to adjust to keeping your new tiny human alive post-labour on pretty much sod all sleep.

It's also handy to jot down any questions or concerns you have to ask your visiting midwife or health visitor as they usually arrive as the most random of times and you forget everything you wanted to ask in your I'm sorry I'm still in my PJ's knackered state, (FYI, they honestly don't care if you're still in your PJ's so don't stress yourself out unnecessarily!)

A Support Network

They say it takes a village to raise a child and in my experience it takes a whole flipping community of family and friends, both online and of course in real life. It took a few weeks after Elsie was born to realise that I wasn't being realistic when I thought I could manage the life we had before and our new baby. Asking for help just wasn't me and when it was offered I was a little embarrassed.

It was if I looked like a failure when Mum arrived to change our bed, tidy up the flat and leave with bags of washing. I felt as if I looked lazy with my Mother in Law arrived to cook us dinner with piles of ironed clothes leaving with bags more to do. But this is normal and if it wasn't for the oodles of help that we got back then and continue to receive every single day I honestly don't think we'd be doing half as well as we are today. If someone offers to help, take it gracefully and enjoy it. Adjusting to this new life is hard and the less overwhelmed you are with the everyday stuff, the more you can focus on your recovery and taking care of that all important new bundle of pure squidgy love.

If you're about to embark on this crazy wonderful new parent lark for the first, second, third, whatever time, wishing you all the love and luck in the world. Remember to look after yourself and know that even though it doesn't feel like it most of the time, you're doing blooming amazing. 

Thank you so much to La Roche Posay for your kind gift. As always, all opinions are my own and I only share things I honestly love and believe others will too.
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30 May 2017

From Bump to Baby Number Two...

After a very long two day induction, (again without any pain relief until my waters had to be broken, a procedure that will forever leave me wincing every time I set eyes on a small hook. I'll share all the details at some point. Lucky you!) on Sunday 7th May at 4.09am, the Hubster and I welcomed our second daughter, Billie Rose Albury into the world weighing a perfect 7lbs 1oz and we couldn't be more in love.

The last three weeks have been a complete blur, trying to adjust to life with two babies under two, which of course means working on a constant carousel of changing nappies, feeding, cuddles and comforting each one in turn. How the bloody hell do people do this with twins? Or triplets. Or numerous small people all of whom aren't sleep-potty-or unable to communicate what the actual heck it is that they want-trained. How do those people manage? Because for me, it most definitely is a whole new mine field just getting everyone down the stairs in once piece in the morning, let alone navigating through an entire bloody day.

Even though the weeks are flying past, I'm yet to be on my own with both of them for longer than a morning. I've been making mental notes on how I can muster up some sort of routine with the two of them and I've been planning, with military precision, as to exactly how I'll ever leave the house by myself with the both of them. Ideally with all of us fed, watered and wearing something that doesn't resemble pyjamas. A task I'm clearly putting off for as long as possible. But with most things, I'm hoping that the thought of it is actually worse than the reality. She really really hopes

But in all honesty, life with a newborn is already very different the second time around. Everyone said it would be, but having only ever known the baby who never slept from the moment she burst into this world with her extremely healthy set of lungs, it was hard to envision life being anything but painfully exhausting again. However in true second child style, Billie has subtly nestled into our lives with ease, giving us all the opportunity to adjust and adapt to our new way of life quite nicely, something that we all really needed, particularly Elsie.

Sadly, she didn't take the arrival of her little sister too well at first, something that I'll talk more about another time. Elsie's reaction to Billie's homecoming was heartbreaking and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think back to how upset and disrupted she was that first night we brought her little sister home. But Billie has allowed us to give Elsie the attention she needs to feel supported and safe during this unsettling time. Something that we are certain would be a very different scenario if Elsie had been the second baby to arrive.

With her big blue eyes and beautiful dainty features, Billie is an absolute breath of fresh air. Her hair is immaculately shaped around her perfect little face. She has the longest fingers and her nails were neatly rounded as if she'd had a little manicure before her arrival. Her feet are really long too and we already call them her flippers. She's so chilled and calm and is easily comforted as long as she's been fed and winded.  She doesn't like being moved if she's in a comfortable sleep and will cry out as if to say, "leave me alone, I'm quite happy here thanks!"  She is a delicate rose who has immediately restored harmony and balance within our little family and we are so in love and content.

Each day feels a little easier and surprisingly life is so much more normal than it was the first time around, even though the time and the days seem to run away without me even more than before. My arms are constantly full with one of the girls, which is altogether wonderful, but also really hard. I'm learning how to manage our new life, particularly how to give each one enough of my time and attention that means neither misses out. Something that I'm sure no parent ever feel that they achieve successfully. Have I played with Elsie enough today? Have I stared at every detail of my new daughter's face enough, just like I did with Elsie? Have I taught Elsie anything new today? Have I cuddled Billie enough today and made the most of her newborn size. Snuggled her up on my chest and breathed in her beautiful new scent enough? The thoughts are endless, but deep down I know I'm doing my best and I know that we're going to be more than alright.  
read more " From Bump to Baby Number Two... "

26 April 2017

Gestational Diabetes...A Survival Guide

Having had Gestational Diabetes during both my pregnancies, I've scoured the internet a fair bit for as much information as possible, but I've never had much luck when it comes to finding advice that comes from woman who have actually experienced it themselves.

I appreciate that it isn't all that interesting, but during pregnancy everything is heightened and when you're worried about pretty much everything anyway, it's reassuring to know that you aren't the only one having to test your blood four times a day, inject yourself with insulin and accept that you can't eat or drink anything fun whatsoever for nine months, otherwise you'll have to squeeze a giant baby out of your foof. Excellent. So I've put together my own Gestational Diabetes Guide to help any fellow Mumma-to-be's who too are currently enjoying this ever so tedious and annoying aspect of pregnancy. 

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

It's a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women, usually in the later stages of pregnancy, but sometimes earlier if diagnosed with it during previous pregnancies, like moi. Our bodies naturally produce insulin to break down the levels of glucose in our blood. During pregnancy our bodies are producing such high levels of crazy hormones that these can sometimes effect the way your body uses and produces insulin, so therefore your body is overloaded with sugars if it isn't given the right amount of insulin to break it down.

Too much sugar isn't good for you and it definitely ins't good for a growing baby which is why your diet needs to be controlled and in some cases medication, (additional insulin), is required to help keep your glucose levels in order.

The Downsides

By having GD, particularly when not managed properly, your baby is at risk of a whole host of scary things such as growing too large, developing diabetes later in life, obesity, problems during birth, prematurity, low blood sugar levels after birth and few other things which can be found here.

Your pregnancy will from now on be monitored by a specialist team which will also potentially result in early induction or a c-section, dependant on invidual circumstances. Say goodbye to those lovely birth plans and visions of a water birth as you'll be having a consultant-led birth from now on. Yep. I cried too when I was first told this...well sobbed if I'm honest. 

You are also now at higher risk of having Type 2 Diabetes in later life. Brilliant.

You'll have to monitor your blood sugar levels at least four times a day. Talk about boring and bloody annoying. My fingers look as if I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a piece of hay in a stack of needles.

You could potentially have to inject yourself with insulin more than once every day. It will take time to practice doing this with confidence as well as finding a part of your body that is comfortable and manageable to inject so that the insulin flows easier into your blood stream. My legs at one point looked as if a boxer had used them as a punching bag, it was gross. It took a while to realise that the insulin wasn't leaving my legs properly so was forming bruises and lumpy pockets of un-dispersed insulin in my legs. Attractive. 

I couldn't bring myself to inject my tummy so have now moved on to my butt cheeks which seems to be working fine and to be honest, no one wants to look back there currently anyway so I'm not too worried as to how it's looking. As long as my bloods are balanced, that's all that matters.

Another downside to injecting insulin is the risk of having a 'hypo' if you don't eat regularly. Hypoglycaemia- when your blood sugar levels drop too low and you feel all light headed and faint. I've come over all funny on a few occasions and had to scurry around for something high in sugar  to bring your sugar levels back up to normal, which is moronic in itself seeing as you've been keeping away from anything remotely high in sugar!

Having gestational diabetes feels exactly like you're attending fat club during that one actual time in your life when you were looking forward to shedding the food guilt for a while. OK so we are all (mostly) wise enough these days to know that being pregnant doesn't give you a free pass to eat a dozen doughnuts in one sitting or hit the drive through every single day. Calories, fat and sugar don't sail through your system without skimming the sides just because you're cooking a tiny human. Oh no, what you eat during pregnancy is really important for the growth and development of your unborn sprog, not to mention that aftermath of having a baby (if you've been there before, you'll know the squidgy-everything-kind-of-goes-saggy-sage post-pregnancy I'm talking about!) and having GD literally means no cheeky syns or cheat days allowed. Aren't we lucky.

Well in a couple of ways, yes we are and I don't say that lightly trust me.

The Benefits 

You're protecting your baby. It's better to know early on that your pregnancy and baby require a lot of additional care and consideration rather than not knowing at all, or it being too late to do anything about it.

You will both receive additional care and support throughout your pregnancy which means additional growth scans to monitor baby and you'll be seen by a specialist team of midwives, nurses and consultants who are dedicated to ensuring you have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible, providing you follow the level of care advised.

It's an education. Everything you learn in terms of managing a well balanced, low sugar diet is a life long benefit for both you and your new family who sadly are now at higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future, so it's sensible to embrace these changes and adapt them post-pregnancy too.

Managing Gestational Diabetes Through Diet

There's absolutely no hiding from the fact that having Gestational Diabetes means you have to manage/cut down/avoid all Sugar (Simple Carbohydrates) and Starchy (Complex Carbohydrates) foods.

This is the hardest aspect of having GD, particularly if you only crave sweets stuff or carbs, so you might as well suck it up now.

As with all diets and metabolisms, foods work and react differently for everyone. I've sat in my diabetic antenatal waiting room for hours listening to some pregnant woman fret over high blood levels from just having plain oat cakes and cottage cheese for breakfast, whilst others have sat their sipping fizzy drinks seemingly without a care in the world. It's a constant frustrating battle, particularly when you're feeling so blooming hungry.

This is the probably the biggest headache when it comes to gestational diabetes, what works for you one day won't necessarily work the next day. Your hormone levels are working overtime in fits and waves through your pregnancy and there are various points when these peak (around the 28 week mark I was advised) throughout baby's growth spurts and developmental milestones so what you ate one day might not keep your bloods low the next day. Totes annoying. 

What foods work for me might not work for you and visa versa, plus I have Coeliac Disease so I stick to a gluten free diet anyway (double shite balls hey) so am already restricted in certain areas, but I thought it might be useful to have a few food suggestions that I've been enjoying (she says through gritted teeth) and experimenting with during my pregnancy...

Snack Suggestions
  • Humous, humous, humous...I live on the stuff. 
  • Avocados 
  • Cheese & Gherkins (typical pregnant chick) 
  • Oat Cakes 
  • Mini Breadsticks 
  • Crispbreads with humous or cottage cheese 
  • Corn cakes (a tastier alternative to Rice Cakes) 
  • Obvious healthy choices such as cucumber, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli etc. All usually dipped in humous. 

Meal Suggestions 
  • Bolognese- homemade- no pre-made sauces- swap the pasta for Kale or Salad 
  • Salmon- I've tried all of these recipes and served with minimal portion or rice or new potatoes. 
  • Sausages- my favourite recipe is Jamie Oliver's Cherry Tomato Sausage Bake. just go easy on the mash potato when serving yours up. 
  • Eggs on toast with bacon and avocado
  • Omelette and salad
  • For more meal ideas check out Tommys.org

Medicated Gestational Diabetes 

Unlike my first pregnancy where I managed my GD solely through a healthy diet up until the final few weeks where I had to take Metformin tablets with my evening meal, I've had a completely different experience this time around. Despite attempting to manage it through diet this time around, my bloods weren't having any of it from early on so I've been on Insulin with my evening meal and before bed to stabilise my fasting sugar levels over night since the very beginning of this pregnancy. 

This has been a real eye-opener in terms of what having GD for the rest of my life would be like and it's not pretty and it certainly isn't fun. It's definitely changed my outlook on the foods I eat and the lifestyle I lead. For the moment I can see a light at the end of the tunnel as once baby arrives, it should go away, but there is a good chance it might rear it's ugly head again in the future and will stick around forever, which I'll be gutted about it. 

There's no denying that Gestational Diabetes is a frustrating and worrying chore, but there really isn't much one can do about it except play by the rules, listen to the specialists and just hope that baby is born healthy and safely, which is of course your main priority throughout this entire experience. 

Despite having watched every episode of ER and Gray's Anatomy, I'm not medically trained and all the information I've included in the post is what I've learned from my midwife, diabetic consultant and personal experience. Please refer to your specialist for any specific medical reference or head over to the Gestational Diabetes section on Tommys.org for more information. 
read more " Gestational Diabetes...A Survival Guide "

14 April 2017

Review: The New Monsters Range From Fisher-Price

If there's one thing every parent has in common, aside from keeping you child alive of course, is the daily task of keeping those little energetic sprogs entertained each and every day. We're constantly torn between visiting yet another play park or gearing up the energy to do something as adventurous as swimming or soft play, and if you're feeling particularly brave, baking cakes or finger painting- Eek! It's an endless but inevitable part of parenting and when you're dealing with tiny humans with short attention spans it can all get a little bit exhausting, especially when, some days all you want to do is stay at home and hang out with your little pickles.

Which is why I'm always up for trying out new toys and gadgets in the hope that we can enjoy more mornings or afternoons at home. More so now than ever as my pregnant trotters are starting to swell and all I really want to do is have five minutes peace to drink a hot cup of tea and put my feet up. So when Fisher-Price asked us to review their brand new Monsters range, this waddling Mumma of course said yes and ran to put the kettle on. 

In A Nut-Shell 

Full of colour, quirkiness and fun these little monsters are designed to introduce your baby to a range of emotions, expressions and feelings as well as developing baby's senses. 

The Fun Feelings Monster (£9.99) with it's bright rolling face which changes emotions from happy, to sad, to surprised. It plays a funny sound to represent each emotion when baby rolls it around. 

The Hungry Monster Maze (£19.99) includes six colourful discs for baby to slot into the monster's head and then watch them roll into his belly and down his tail as it makes funny chomping sounds and his eyes light up. 

Lastly the Press n' Go Monster Vehicle (£14.99) will get babies moving as they press down the monster's funny head and watch it whizz across the floor.

What Baby Thought 

Like most baby's, anything new and colourful is always bound to catch their attention. Our little people want to explore new things, particularly ones that they are allowed to touch so Elsie was thrilled to be handed over three new brightly coloured new contraptions to figure out and enjoy.

Her particular favourite is the Hungry Monster Maze. She's always had pretty good fine motor skills so she loved slotting the discs into the monster's head with ease, scooping them up from his tail and starting all over again. 

What surprised me the most about her interaction with the toys was how quickly she figured out how each one worked. I didn't really have to demonstrate how each Monster worked, which to me was a clear sign that perhaps she was a little too old for this range. She mastered each Monster so quickly that it suddenly dawned on me that our little girl isn't so little anymore.

What Mummy Thought 

This isn't in any way a criticism on the toys themselves as perhaps six months ago Elsie would have been less mobile and would therefore get more enjoyment from each product.  I can definitely see how much fun these toys would be to a younger baby, and the guidelines suggest from six months old, so it all depends on each individual baby's interactive stage. 

These Monsters would make a great first birthday gift for babies who are needing entertaining at the sitting and crawling stage so I'm definitely looking forward to enjoying these toys again at a later stage with baby number two. 

They come with batteries. I know I've mentioned this before but there really is nothing more frustrating than having to hunt down batteries to make a toy work after you've spent a good ten minutes of your life hacking away at the packaging, so this is always a bonus in my book. 

My initial thoughts were perhaps that they were priced a little high for what they did, but on reflection I was looking at them from the wrong angle. Elsie has moved on so quickly to the next stage of learning and interaction that I hadn't even realised that we needed to change the way we entertain her. It was fun seeing her explore something new and talking her through all the different types of expressions and emotions which we both enjoyed. What is lovely is that I could really see her enjoying these particular toys again in a few months time with her brand new sibling showing them how each monster worked and encouraging them to play with her. 

Disclosure: We were kindly sent the featured products for the purpose of this review. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible and keep the sprog entertained whilst I enjoy a hot cup of tea. 
read more " Review: The New Monsters Range From Fisher-Price "

13 April 2017

Elsie Belle at 18 Months Old...Entering The Toddler Territory

So you made it through the first year in a sleepless blur of winding, milk dilemmas and weaning woes thinking that you've finally got this baby lark down when boom! a cocktail sausage comes flying across the room and hits you straight on the boob! The source of flying cocktail sausage has come from your fully fledged toddler who wanted a BabyBel, and not said cocktail sausage, which she'd been given and then lobbed across the room in a raging temper. Goodbye baby days, hello emotionally inept mentally irrational toddler territory! 

As if life wasn't stressful enough already being one big hazard perception test, where you are constantly on edge trying to foresee any potential life endangering threats that your child is seemingly on the hunt for, (seriously when did doors, drawers, steps and windows become such dangerous heart stopping standard household features?) you now have to contend with the fact that you will be playing the longest game of charades and there is no sodding prize for realising that she wants her water in the pink cup, not the purple one before all hell breaks loose. Except of course that your ears might get a 45 second break from the whingeing if you figure this out in time. If not, take cover. 

Aside from the mini tantrums, and I''m fully aware that these are due to increase, peak, surprise and test us big time over the course of the next few years, life has altogether just got more amazing. She's evolving into this wonderful person who keeps us all entertained and laughing every day and I'm constantly having to try and stop and really appreciate the character she is becoming. 

She's now showing us all the love and adoration that we had so long been yearning for throughout those baby days, where all you wanted was a hug back or kiss from her to be reassured that everything you were doing was right on track; That alone is priceless for a new parent. There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when your baby finally chooses to wrap it's arms around your neck and hold you so tight like you're the most important thing in the world to them. It sure does make up for the lack of sleep and ducking from flying objects that have offended her in some way or another.

So here you are little Miss Elsie Belle. Eighteen months old.

You love telling everyone and anyone who your Mumma and Dadda are which is altogether very lovely and also very much like having a walking, talking name badge. 

Your speech is slowly coming on, not helped by the fact that you are growing more attached to your 'num num' (dummy) which I'm reluctant to take away just as your sibling is about to arrive. You are also quite fond of watching us frantically guess what it is that you're actually trying to say or want us to get for you. You have this hilarious range of tones for each word you say and your current favourite words are no (or na), door, iPad, burp, pop, more, bowl, Ed (Sheeran, yep you now say his name) boobies, (which you learnt in the swimming pool and enjoyed repeating very loudly!) oh, and purple. 

Purple is your favourite colour. We think it is anyway. Either that or it's just the only colour you actually like saying despite us constantly correcting you that everything in the world sadly isn't the colour purple.

To say that you're obsessed with Peppa Pig is quite an understatement. If your snack isn't in your Peppa bowl or we try and talk you out of reading the longest blooming 'Goodnight Peppa' book before bed you kick off. It's the only thing you want to watch on TV (which is great in some ways because Mr Tumble is a tad annoying and don't even get us started on that wet blanket of a rabbit Bing!) But whether we like it or not, it looks as if Peppa will be a permanent feature in our family for quite some time. 

You are a whizz on the iPad which is altogether impressive and worrying. You swipe between apps quicker than your Nana can unlock her phone and read one text message. You're a pro when it comes to putting on your current favourite Ed Sheeran tune (Castle On The Hill) and then flick between puzzles which you've aced with ease before searching YouTube and watching endless Peppa Pig episodes. We then have the dilemma of tearing you away from it so that your eyes can have a break which is always fun. There have been a few concerning encounters when you've been watching grown men pretend to be Peppa Pig characters and there was a close call when you almost ordered a seductive cowgirl costume on Amazon. Apart from that you're pretty much destined to be a technical genius before the age of two.

You're brilliant at hiding. Honestly, when you don't want to do something, like have your nappy changed, you run to the other side of the room whispering 'hide' with your hands over your face, eyes peeping through your fingers, and it's as if you've disappeared. You clever thing! 

The head butt is an occasional reaction of yours when life just isn't going your way. As in your welly boot just isn't playing ball and slipping onto your foot as you would like or you've been given the wrong snack because we aren't mind readers and we failed to guess the right snack you were after in time. Silly us.

You hate the swings. While every other sprog is laughing with glee at being pushed backwards and forwards through the air, you sit there with an expression that resembles that of being put on the naughty step. 

You are a little fiery and in some ways we love this about you. You know what you want and what you don't, but you also listen when we explain to why you can't do certain things and you usually swiftly move on.

You embrace the world around you and we love watching you take everything in with your wise eyes. Life is a game and you get so much joy out of learning, playing, entertaining and just being with others. You don't like being alone and that's OK because we all adore having you with us. 

You give the best hugs and the worst kisses- which mainly involves biting our noses. We've started to teach you how to give 'bunny kisses' with our noses to encourage you not to take keep trying to take a chunk out of our faces and so far that seems to be working. 

You are an absolute joy to be around and even though your sleeping is still as unpredictable as ever, you inject so much fun and light into each and every single day. Your Dadda and I always end each day re-telling stories from things you've done or said or learnt from that day. We sit and scroll through photographs and videos that the other might have missed, beaming with so much pride and love for you darling girl that I wonder if it's possible for hearts to actually burst. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being ours and thank you for continuing to teach us how to love unconditionally and wholeheartedly. You will always be by far our greatest achievement. Now if you would just try and sleep through the night that would make life even better...! 
read more " Elsie Belle at 18 Months Old...Entering The Toddler Territory "

6 April 2017

Peppa Pig...My First Cinema Experience

Mumma? Mumma? 
Yes Elsie? 
Elsie, it's 6am. 
Really? Can Mumma have just five more minutes? 
Yes Elsie? 

(Silence. Eye's still closed. Hoping she'll get the message...) 

Peppa, Peppa, Peppa, PEPPPPAAAAA!!! 

So that's a no to five more minutes sleep then? 

It started around Christmas day last year when her obsession really began. I wasn't entirely aware of it, but it turns out the rest of my family were as she was gifted an array of Peppa Pig merchandise and excitedly exclaimed "Peppa! Peppa! Peppa!" as she opened each and every one of them. I didn't even know she could say Peppa up until this point. But then I had spent most of the previous month with my head down the toilet or staring into space just trying to get through the first trimester with baby number two, so I think I can be forgiven for missing out on this particular milestone.

From that point on Peppa has well and truly made her cute little trotters feel right at home within our family, and it doesn't look as if she'll be oinking off to market any time soon. Luckily for Peppa and her posse of cleverly animated buddies, we are all becoming rather fond of that oh-so-catchy theme tune and piggy giggles. As much as I didn't see it coming, we've embraced this global phenomenon wholeheartedly and I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a pair of PJ's with Mummy Pig on. Whatever makes the sprog happy, makes Mumma happy. Aside from being screamed "Peppa!" in my face before the crack of dawn of course. Swings and roundabouts and all that.

So when we were asked along to an exclusive screening of Peppa Pig, My First Cinema Experience, I knew that our little girl would be the perfect candidate to review the brand new episodes on the big screen.

Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience

It's tailored for the whole family. 

Peppa Pig's creators, Neville Astley and Mark Baker, really have hit the jackpot when it comes to creating a children's franchise that not only kids love, but parents can more than tolerate - they can actually enjoy it too. From the simplicity in animation to the little quirks that make everyone chuckle. From Daddy Pig's "can do" (and usually fails) attitude to the way everyone falls over chuckling at the end of each episode. There's something ever so heart warming and reassuring about the Peppa Pig sensation which is what makes a cinema experience so appealing to the whole family.

It's relatable storylines and adult humour is what makes it so likeable and parents are literally screaming out for new episodes. We've pretty much seen them all on repeat and know each episode better than we know what's happening in the latest box set we're watching when the sprogs are asleep. We all have our favourites, (the one where they all try to get Baby Alexander to sleep is a particular fave of mine; One that I can relate to immensely and take comfort in the fact that even baby piglets can be nightmare sleepers) and grown up's will be pleased to know that the brand new episodes won't disappoint.

When Elsie met the very lovely Daisy, Peppa's new friend 

It's entertaining and it really is very funny.

It would seem that the writers have particularly upped their game when it comes to not only entertaining the sprogs, but their grown ups too. Taking us on adventures from London to Australia and meeting a whole host of new characters and familiar voices that have really injected a refreshing burst of fun into an already much loved family favourite. The Hubster and I loved the experience just as much as Elsie and we came home still smiling from the event and retelling all the new episode plots to our family!

It's completely tailored for little people.

My only concern prior to attending the event was how on earth my little miss fidget pants would cope with staying a) seated b) contained c) controlled d) entertained e) quiet...you get the idea, for a whole hour. But again those very very clever Peppa Pig geniuses have thought of this and of course have created this cinema experience perfectly for those under two foot escape artists who find it hard to focus on anything for longer than a nano second.

The brand new episodes are broken into 2-3 segments and pieced together with a delightful sing-a-long interactive intervals that will get your little ones up on their feet and shaking it all about before settling down for the next batch of brilliant episodes. Pure genius.

My little family absolutely loved the Peppa Pig, My First Cinema Experience. It will leave both you and your tiny humans feeling all warm and fuzzy. It made a lovely change from watching re-runs from the sofa. If you're still in doubt, well there's always the promise of popcorn!

Peppa Pig My First Cinema Experience opens this Friday 7th April- absolutely perfect timing for a half term treat for all the family! 

Disclosure: We were kindly invited along to the official FDA Multimedia of Peppa Pig, My First Cinema Experience. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible, particularly those who keep my eighteen month old happy. 
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22 March 2017

Postnatal Depression...My Story Part Two: The Fear

I felt it.
I felt that overwhelming rush of love.
Not straight away, but I remember exactly when I felt it.

Our new little pink pickle and I had both been cleaned up, wrapped up and left alone in our dimly lit delivery slash recovery suite to sleep off what had been a very long day and a very quick birth. I remember waking up and my right hand was really stiff. Looking over at it I realised that for a solid five and a half hours my hand hadn't stopped clutching the side of Elsie's cot beside my hospital bed from the moment Daddy had been sent home for a shower and some rest. That's when I felt it. Like a wave or a magic spell, it hit me hard, boom, and I felt it.

With my aching hand still not wanting to leave her cot and the tears flowing, I just knew in that moment that life had changed forever. I had changed forever. That I had been given a job, a gift, and I would do my hardest to fulfil that role with absolutely everything I had until forever.

That love for her grew and continues to grow each and every day. Just when you think you can't love any more than you do, and that your heart surely can't get any bigger, it does.

Everything was perfect. Or so I thought. 

As time went on we tried to adjust to our new life and even though our hearts were full, there was a dark cloud looming over us, mostly me, that would have a huge impact on our experience as new parents. This dark cloud is what I refer to as The Fog. This heavy, miserable puff of negativity that oozes it's way in and out of your mind, pulling you downwards and clouding every possible positive angle it can worm it's ugly form into. Postnatal Depression is one heck of an ugly sod.

It took me a long time to realise that it was PND and that I wasn't entirely losing my marbles of my own accord.  Over the past six months, since a bit of light broke through the fog, I've wondered why on earth it took me so long to acknowledge that something wasn't quite right.

You see I've always had a clean record. All through school, not a scratch on my name, (aside from being a notorious chatterbox which landed me the odd detention here and there!) Then all through adulthood I'd continued to be the good girl. Always wanting praise and always wanting to please. I realised that there was this fear that comes with knowing something isn't quite right in your mind.  The fear of being 'branded'. The fear of having a 'mark' against your name. The fear that you will be noted down as 'not coping' and having this fear meant that I didn't want 'Post-Natal Depression' on my record.

I feared that saying it aloud would mean that all of a sudden I wasn't this perfect person anymore. But most importantly, more than anything else, I feared that by admitting there was something wrong with me it could result in Elsie being taken away from me.

That we would be 'put on a list'. That people would think that I couldn't look after my own baby. That we'd have to tick a 'special' box from now on and that there would forever be a mark by my name that said something was wrong with me. That I wasn't fit to be a mother. 

When I told my midwife therapist about these fears, they all came flooding out. All of my fears and the horrid reasons as to why I had waited so long before seeking help. She looked me in the eyes and said "none of that is true, none of that would happen and none of this is your fault". She reassured me that everything I was feeling was normal and in no way anything to be ashamed of. That it was all fixable and she was right. Talking to someone about my fears helped to lift my fog and once the fog had cleared a little I could see things properly again.

PND is common. It's not a bad thing. It's not permanent. You're not a bad mum. Your child won't be taken away. You are not broken. You are a person who just needs a little help finding the light switch again. PND is fixable.

Sadly fear will always be a permanent fixture in everyone's life. Even more so when you become a parent and as we get even closer to welcoming our second baby into the world I fear that fog could rear it's ugly head again. But at least now I know the signs to watch out for and I won't be afraid to ask for help again. Asking for help was never a sign of weakness, it was a sign of strength. Strength to make a change and to help me find the happy me again.
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27 February 2017

Co-Sleeping...The Chaos & The Calm

I always swore we'd never do it.
I'd always look at others and think that they were absolutely bonkers for doing it.
I'd wonder where on earth they had gone wrong, shake my head and think that we would be different. 
I said we'd be different.

Who was I kidding?

We are all exactly the same.

Parenting is not only about keeping your little human alive, it's about survival as a unit. Who needs some random expedition to the outback beyond no-frigging-where with Bear Grills? Climbing pointless death traps, eating poisonous bugs and drinking filtered wee for fun hey? when the real knack to survival is tested right in your very own home. You do what you need to do to keep everyone alive on a daily basis and a lot of this involves doing everything you swore you would never do.

In our household, since day one of Elsie's arrival, sleep has been our demon and our endless expedition towards survival.

I've been harping on about Elsie's sleep issues for what feels like a lifetime. I'll tell anyone with ears that my daughter is a terrible sleeper. People ask me how I am and within seconds I've got on to a one woman (shoot me now) monologue on the woes and dramas about the fact that my daughter is a terrible sleeper. I bore myself stupid with the same old tripe and I can hear the old me whispering somewhere in the long lost background saying, 'oh please shut up you boring old cow.' It's surprising I've got any friends left to be honest. 

Her issues with sleep have consumed me in ways that will take me and my husband years to recover from. The stress and strain of having a frigging nightmare sleeper is soul destroying.

I blame it on my inability to see the good in everything and everyday because I am just so bloody exhausted.

So having tried everything except shipping her off to sleep camp, (if this exists please send details asap) we've become fully fledged co-sleepers without ever meaning to. By co-sleeping it means that I don't have to get out of bed countless times to soothe her back to sleep. It means that with a sleepy hand she taps my arm to check I'm still there and this reassures her enough to send herself back to sleep. It means that for now I get endless cuddles from my girl, who will one day be too busy to give her mum a proper hug as she flies out the front door. It means that as she wakes in the morning, the first thing she does is put her arms around my neck and nuzzles her face into mine so soft and full of love. It means we get to see her first smile of the day as she opens her eyes, so happy that we're there, her Mummy and Daddy - her bookends. It means that I get to treasure all her lovely baby-ness for so much longer. The soft fluffy head all nestled under my chin. Her chubby limbs that reach out to check that we're there. Those quiet, still, precious moments that won't last forever just knowing that we are everything she needs in the world.

But what if you're tired of co-sleeping?

It's not all lovely. She still wakes at least five times a night on average. Fifteen times on a really bad night. She is super tall for her age and so most mornings you wake up feeling as if you've just done ten rounds with a really cheesed off octopus. Sometimes she uses your head as a pillow and you only wake up just as your air circulation is about to be cut off. She calls out for 'Mumma' in her sleep, just to keep you on your toes and usually just as you're drifting off to sleep for the umpteenth time. She can be awake for a solid two hours usually around 3am asking for 'Peppa' on the television or she simply lays there practicing all the words she knows on repeat. Co-sleeping for us is exhausting and it's something the old me swore I'd never ever do. 

But the old me wasn't a parent yet and it was all so very easy to observe from my well rested inexperienced soap box having had thirty-odd years of uninterrupted sleep behind me. The old me was a deluded knob. As a family, being co-sleepers is something we are still struggling to accept and I've been pondering the reasons as to why this might be, and why there is such a bad vibe around the idea of co-sleeping. 

As bedtime rolls around I torture myself every night thinking that we've failed miserably in some crucial area of parenting, and that by co-sleeping we are destined to bring up a recluse of an adult who will be socially inept. But is this really the case? Perhaps only time will tell. 

I've spoken to many friends about their children's sleep habits, (of course, as it's the only thing I bloody talk about) and I've been surprised to find out that we're not alone in our bedtime dilemmas, co-sleeping concerns and the way we feel forced to justify our reason as to why we've ended up co-sleeping. It's as if co-sleeping can't be a choice and something that we feel ashamed to admit. So why do some of us feel as if co-sleeping is a sign of failure?  

It's as if society has made us feel that by co-sleeping you're too soft a parent. An idea which isn't helped by the 'Nanny SOS' craze and text book parenting know-it-alls - mostly written and preached by non-parents I might add. Hold on a moment whilst I go and tell a rocket scientist how to do his job when I failed my science and maths GCSE. It's not going to happen is it? Let alone land me a book deal harping on about that trip to space that I've never actually been on! 

It's not about being the hardest or the toughest parent. We all make our choices depending on our situation and more importantly the baby itself. They are all individual, bizarre little creatures who are  also finding their way in the world, just like their parents.  I'll still worry how the next few months, years even, will pan out and how on earth we will ever get her to sleep in her own bed, especially with a newborn on the way. But whether we've done the right thing or not, we've tried to survive as new parents and co-sleeping has become our raft.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with co-sleeping, so let me know in the comments below! 
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20 February 2017

Preparing for Baby Number Two with The Baby Box Company Giveaway...

I imagined that things would be different the second time around, but not quite as different perhaps as  this. By the time I reached the third trimester in my first pregnancy, baby already had it's own bedroom fully kitted out with a wardrobe filled with every single item of new baby paraphernalia that one might need. I'd spend any spare moment I had just mooching through the immaculately organised drawers and the shelves, lightly touching and admiring my Mummy-to-be handiwork, full of anticipation for our new arrival. I'd rearrange each little soft toy and re-fold all the blankets so they were just right and I would meticulously go through endless to-do and to-buy lists to ensure that we were ready.

Little did I know then that no amount of folding or organising would make us any more ready or prepared for how life would be once our little thunder bolt of joy entered our lives. So you'd think I'd be taking comfort in this knowledge and not give two hoots as to how prepared we are this time around. Na-ah. My pregnancy hormones are telling me what I should be doing by now, but the reality is that living with my parents whilst our house is still being renovated, things will have to be very different this time around whether my hormones like it or not.

Whilst I'm currently torn between my urge to nest and the panic that I'm no where near as prepared as I was last time around, I need to face facts that as long as baby has clean clothes, milk and an abundance of love- he or she will be more than OK. Mummy needs to suck it up and stop torturing herself with perfect nursery interiors on Instagram pronto.

So when the lovely people over at the The Baby Box Company got in touch and asked if I'd like to review one of their beautiful baby hampers I was so chuffed to finally stop moping and take a moment to focus on something lovely for our poor neglected baby number two. 

The Baby Box Company 

If there's one gift people love buying, it's bits for a new baby. Even if your sprogs have flown the nest or you're still waiting for your turn with the stork, there's nothing quite like that warm fuzzy feeling you get when mooching through those teeny weeny cotton baby grows and incy wincy accessories. But what goes with what? What do new parents actually need? The whole expedition can become a bit of a minefield.

Well the Baby Box Company aims to take away all that stress with it's beautiful range of high quality baby gifts, ready-made hampers and gifts for Mums, (yes, don't forget us!) Everything one might need to celebrate a new arrival can be found all in one handy category- for boys, girls or neutral. If time is of the essence there are an array of gorgeous pre-made thoughtful hampers are available to suit just about any gift requirements or budget. 

I received one of their 'really useful' hampers filled with a selection of newborn essentials including an Aden and Anais muslin, (which are my favourite brand of muslins- they wash beautifully!) a pair of Sock Ons which I've always wanted to try out, a super soft cotton bodysuit and matching hatch in my fave neutral pattern- grey stars and of course a very handy dribble bib. All items from my previous experience will most definitely come in useful. 

The quality of the products are fabulous and it was super exciting opening up the box, mooching and cooing at all the items. It was a real treat and has kickstarted my flutterbies of excitement to start sorting things out for baby number two. 

You can check out the full range of beautiful new baby gifts that The Baby Box Company has to offer over on their website, but in the mean time why not enter our giveaway to win yourself or a friend one of their medium sized gift hampers? It couldn't be simpler, just enter using the Rafflecopter application below...

UK entries only. Giveaway closes Monday 27th February at midnight. Full terms and conditions can be found within the Rafflecopter. Good Luck peeps!

Collaborative Post- Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! 
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