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. 
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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. 
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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.
read more " Postnatal Depression...My Story Part Two: The Fear "

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! 
read more " Co-Sleeping...The Chaos & The Calm "

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! 
read more " Preparing for Baby Number Two with The Baby Box Company Giveaway... "

11 January 2017

Choosing Childcare...What Should We Do?

"I think nursery would be good for her...and you" 

It's something that's been said to me on more than one occasion over the past few months and it's something that's been on mind ever since I was pregnant with Elsie. But how do you decide what childcare is the best thing for your child and for you? 

We've been very fortunate in that we haven't had any pressure to send Elsie to nursery or to a childminder as my mum takes care of Elsie when I'm at work, but I've long pondered what the affects might be on being a stay-at-home-baby as opposed to being a nursery-baby? She's totally nurtured for in every kind of way being at home with us, with regular trips to various places from the park to the garden centre and our home is supplied with enough toys to keep a small toy shop afloat. But with a new baby on the way and it becoming harder to keep her overactive mind stimulated each and every day, I'm beginning to seriously worry that she might be missing out on something from being at home full-time? 

Do stay-at-home-babies miss out? 

There are the obvious aspects that I'm concerned she might be lacking, such as socialising with other children her age, having access to a range of simulating activities, being in a learning environment from an early age, being taught and disciplined from other adults outside of the family unit and most importantly, realising that she's not the only tiny human in the universe. But making the decision to send your child to nursery- where you don't know the childcare assistants or how well your child will be cared for in your absence is a really hard thing to shake off.

How would she cope without me there?

Now I know that kids are robust and adapt quickly, but what if Jacob the hard nut kid who has been ruling the nursery rooms from 6 months old keeps pushing her over and making her cry? What if Stacey the nursery key worker doesn't clock onto this fact because she's busy dealing with Sophie the winging kid who won't join in and just sits in the corner crying for her mummy? What if my child is the one who struggles to play with other kids or is the one sitting in the corner crying? What if she hurts herself and no one sees her? What if she chokes on something and no one is watching her? What if she thinks I've abandoned her? What if she hates it? What if she hates me for sending her there? My reservations are endless and these are just a snippet of the scenarios and excuses that run through my head as to why I shouldn't send her to nursery. 

I won't be there to protect her.
You can't protect them forever.
But that's my job. 

I'm fully aware that at some point she'll have to go to school. Crikey, I still can't manage to carry out simple household tasks without her toddling behind me causing enough havoc to make it look as if we're trying to stage a burglary in our home. I keep telling myself that 'creating mess' is just one of her many talents rather than her being on a mission to send me over the edge. Failing that thought, I think she might just be a little bored. But by the time she goes to school she'll be able to tell me if she's not happy, or if Jacob's being an annoying twit, or if the teacher is ignoring her or if she fell over and hurt herself? Am I just being a little too overprotective perhaps?

You might be holding her back.

Every parent worries about their child's development. We get huge kicks out of little milestones like following instructions, learning words, remembering simple tasks and showing signs that they are blossoming into little independent people that we created. These are the things that reward us and make us feel as if we're doing something right in the midst of all the shite and pure knackeredness. So I can't help but on occasion compare her to other friend's children who have been attending nursery for some time already. They generally do seem more confident in play, communication and independence and none of those parents regret sending them off to nursery, they all in fact rave about it. Not the fees of course, but that's another debate altogether. 

It will do you both good.
But it's not just about me is it? 

On my quest to gaining back just a little control over my life, nursery would be the perfect solution for me too. There's no denying that when I do have a little free time to crack on with housework or take some time for myself I'm then more relaxed and excited to give her my full attention, we both win. But there's still that looming sense of guilt that comes with 'palming' your child off, especially when you're not at work. 

You won't know unless you try. 

That 'overwhelming sense of love' that everyone talks about when you become a parent also comes hand in hand with an 'overwhelming sense of guilt'. We feel guilt and doubt in practically every decision we make where our babies are concerned and I'm pretty sure that guilt is the overall factor in my reservations about sending her to nursery. Guilt if I send her and guilt if I don't. But I can only keep her wrapped up in cotton wool for so long. There's a big wide world out there and like all parents I want her to get the most from it but in a safe and nurtured environment.

The only way I'll find out if nursery is right for us is to give it a try. 

Were you torn between keeping your baby at home or sending them to nursery? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below... 

read more " Choosing Childcare...What Should We Do? "

5 January 2017

Embracing A New Year...Looking Forward & Finding The Positives

Well 2016 you've been my toughest year yet and whilst I appreciate that you could have been a whole lot worse, you sure did test me. But with my mind on the mend and so much to look forward to this new year, it's time to reflect, learn and most importantly look forward.

This past year has been full of changes. I spent the first part of the year wrapped up in our bubble before I went back to work in May which stressfully coincided with us selling our first home and moving in with my parents whilst we renovate a house. A project that we hadn't quite anticipated would be so involved, so expensive and so blooming stressful. These are the bits that are somewhat overlooked when you're sitting comfortably on your sofa watching re-runs of Grand Designs. The bits where your head hits the ceiling when you realise how much a toilet costs and that every single part of it is sold separately. The bit where you actually weigh up what you could realistically live without for about a year- a bathroom or a kitchen. The bit where you're up until 11pm debating and discussing pipes. Who knew pipes could be talked about so much? And yep you're right, they were the most boring conversations I've had to date.

But things are progressing and whatever our builder says, I'm moving in before the new baby arrives. Bathroom or no bathroom. See I'm already being positive.

So whilst we practically took over my parents house, living more comfortably than any little family could ever hope to, we plodded on making the most of our limbo life. In the midst of juggling a new home life, work and house renovations, we focused one very exciting milestone- celebrating our little girl's first birthday. This will always be a time that I'll look back on with such pride and love, but also sadness. On the surface I was consumed with pretty pink themes and commemorating the day with as much attention and precision that goes into planning a Royal event. Behind the scenes I was struggling to breathe. 

My sadness was explained when I became the main focus of Elsie's twelve month check up when the health visitor picked up on something, opening up the flood gates and diagnosing me with post-natal depression. I felt as if someone had removed a heavy rock from my chest and I could finally breathe more steadily than I had done in almost a year.

My fog hasn't completely gone. I still feel it sometimes. It comes back in little washes, rather than huge waves, but I see things clearer now and I feel as if this new vision has a lot to do with a little surprise we received. All the while my fog was being acknowledged, I was cooking our happy accident. A little light that helped me to find my way out of the dark tunnel and yet another curve ball which has well and truly made us realise that whatever your plans, science and nature both have their very own plans in mind.

Looking Forward

For the first time in a few years I won't be setting myself any specific New Years resolutions. My usual ones ('lose weight' and 'save money') will be even less achievable now that I'm up the duff and have a house to finish building before baby arrives. So instead, this year I've made a different kind of promise to myself...

To take each day as it comes. To think of the positives before I let the negatives take over. To remind myself of all the great things I've achieved so far and what I'm yet to do. To notice the little things and appreciate them as big things. To remember to do things that used to make me happy and feel inspired.

To laugh everyday. To smile everyday. To say I Love You everyday. To be grateful and thankful. To say Thank You everyday. To ask for help when I need it. To ask for a hug when I've had one of those days. To tell someone when I'm finding it hard to breathe. To remember to breathe. To take some time for myself and with the man I love. To remember how we got here and where we're going to go.

To embrace the mess and chaos as it surely won't last forever. To enjoy the good moments and brush off the bad. To appreciate our time together and remember that it will be gone before too long.

To thank my lucky stars that I became a mother. To remember that I'm doing a good job even on the shite balls days. To realise that none of this was meant to be easy. To realise that everything can make you stronger, not weaker. To continue being honest and to help other parents out there who are struggling to find their voices.

And lastly, to remember who I was and introduce her to the new me. I hope that some day they will be good friends.

Happy New Year to you all. May it be filled with adventures, love and lots of positive stuff.
read more " Embracing A New Year...Looking Forward & Finding The Positives "