Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A Letter to my Birthday Princess

To My Princess Ruby,

Today is your Birthday and I just want you to know that you are my little sunshine who brings so many rays of light into my life, I love absolutely everything about you. I can't believe that you are turning 4, wow where has the time gone? Happy Birthday my amazing daughter.

You bring so much happiness into my life; each morning I love that when you wake up, you come into my bedroom with a beaming smile, you gentle poke me to wake me up, or sometimes decide that resorting to jumping on me is better!

You are growing up so fast, please slow down, you were once my baby and now your becoming a big girl.

I love how the smallest of things brings you so much happiness, you rarely ask for anything.

I love how every Saturday we go off to Waitrose and buy a special cake for us both, and how we eat it in our pyjamas for a pyjama party and midnight feast at 8pm! If only you knew that a midnight feast does not happen at 8pm, but maybe it's a good thing you don't know that, as I don't think I would be able to stay awake until then.

I love how close a bond we share together and how we laugh and play together and I really am going to miss the special times we have together when you go to school soon.

I love that when I feel down, you give the biggest and best hugs and always know a way of making me smile and laugh.

I really look forward to what the future holds for you and what you will do with your life, but one thing that really matters to me as your mummy is that you have lots of fun and know that I love you very very much.

Sending you lots and lots of love and hugs on your 4th birthday,

Your very very proud mummy xx

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Review: Ruby and Ginger Changing Bag

If you have been reading the blog for the last few days, you will no doubt be aware that we have spent a few days away in my mum's caravan, in which space is rather limited; I tried to pack as little as I possibly could, but with 2 children it was a near on impossible task, however it was made much easier by the fact that the very kind people at Ruby and Ginger gave me a Nappy Purse and changing bag to take with me to review.
"Ruby and GINGER was created by two mums to help make life a little easier for busy parents everywhere. In our inspired collection you will find a great range of baby accessories including our Original Nappy Purse which turns any bag into your changing bag"
The Nappy Purse is such a simple yet genius idea, a portable bag that can be carried in a normal handbag or under a pushchair, but holds enough for a whole day out.

The Bag comes with a lightweight fold up Changing Mat

The pack even includes a handy container to hold a few wipes in.

I was so excited about receiving this product, and as soon as it arrived I eagerly filled the changing bag with a couple of nappies and wipes, and have been using it ever since; I love it so much that I have not reverted back to my old changing bag since!

There is plenty of room in the bag for three nappies, some wipes and the changing mat which comes included; however I have taken to using the bag as a handbag too, by taking out a nappy I can fit my phone and car keys in!

My hubbie is a huge fan of the nappy bag, and he is hard to impress! He loves it because it easily fits into the swimming bag when we go swimming on Saturdays, and means he is not weighted down by carrying a separate changing bag. It is also great for day trips and when hubbie takes Lottie out for a walk in the pushchair.

As a family we highly recommend that every new parent or parent to be buys a Ruby and Ginger nappy bag; you will not be disappointed! It is certainly something we will look to buy our friends and family when they come to have children. The prices is also so reasonable and comes in at just £20, it is an absolute bargain!

For more on ruby and ginger you can visit their website.

Disclaimer:I was sent a Ruby and GINGER Nappy Purse for free to try out however all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Wedding Anniversary

Friday marked our five year wedding anniversary; yes it really is five years since I walked down the aisle and married my wonderful husband Phil! I can not believe it was five years ago, that is half a decade, wow, time has really flown by so quickly.

In five years Phil and I have achieved much much more than we ever thought we would, we have bought a house and been blessed with two absolutely amazing daughters who bring us both so much fun, joy and happiness; life did feel a bit empty without them, even though at times it would be nice to have a bit of peace and quiet.

Phil has been my rock through out our relationship, always standing by me through good and bad times. I look back at our wedding DVD and listen to the vows we made to each other:

I, take you,
to be my husband/wife,
to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part;
according to God's holy law.
In the presence of God I make this vow.

I think its safe to say that we have had our ups and our downs. Phil has looked after me and cared for me whilst pregnant with both the girls, and without him I would have been in a real pickle; he has never been afraid to hold my hair back and hold the sick bowl through the months of suffering from hyperemesis. He loves me for who I am and I know at times I can be stubborn and strong willed, but he knows how to handle me to bring me back down to earth.

We had this reading at our wedding and it still means a great deal to us five years later -

Two Friends
Author Unknown

Today's your special day-
the start of both your lives, together.
May it be special in every way
sparked by the love you've treasured
and may all the love you're feeling
still find a way to grow,
sharing joys which have a meaning
that only both of you could know.

May God bless your health
as you care for each other's needs,
may you both share in the wealth
of raising a family,
may your new dreams never end-
we hope they all come true,
and may you always be two friends
who have your love, each day, be new.

Again, today is your day,
with the bond between you strong.
God has shown both of you the way
and placed his love where it belongs
and as you hold on to each other
always keeping your love dear,
know you're blessed both by the Father
and each one of us who's here.

Today two friends start a journey
walking hand in hand, as one
they'll share everything, always
now that their journey has begun
and as they go on together,
blessed by me and you,
may these two friends always treasure
the day they said, "I do."

I can't wait to see what the future holds for us, and if the last 5 years are anything to go by, the years will be full lots of happiness and fun with the infrequent low to add a little bit of balance!

A wise person once told me that if you not experience the lows, you will not appreciate the highs of life. I can definitely relate to this.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

HOPE Update

"Helping Others & Promoting Education".

As many of you will know, I am running a campaign on my blog called H.O.P.E which stands for Helping Others and Promoting Education. The aim of HOPE is to provide a platform for people to spread much needed awareness on topics that are close to their hearts. So far we have had a wide range of fantastic posts that have helped to promote awareness of very important and often lesser known or misunderstood topics.

Here are some of the inspirational stories of HOPE that have been kindly shared:

I am always looking for more posts, so if you have something that you would like to share, then please get in touch. I am happy to post these anonymously on your behalf if required.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Family Holiday - Day 2

We ventured off the caravan park for day 2 of our holiday and headed to a local farm park. Scarwell farm and country centre is situated just a short car journey from the caravan site, in a place called Thornhaugh. When we arrived, Ruby was very excited and could not wait to go and meet all of the farm animals. I was shocked at the price of admission a family ticket costing £21.50 and then on top of that were extras, like food for the animals and tractor rides.

On arrival, we headed straight out to the animals and were greeted by various different breeds of goats and sheep, which Ruby had great fun feeding.

She then spotted a park and before we knew it, she was off to play. Ruby loves to play outside and would rather be outside in the cold and rain than inside in the warm. Our playroom doors are always open at home as she comes in and out as she pleases.

Lottie on the other hand was content just relaxing in her pushchair and watching all the animals.

After a short period of time, we headed over to where the tractor rides took place and Ruby enjoyed riding on the tractor with her daddy and cousins, even though it was a bit bumpy.

On the site of the farm, there is a lovely old fashioned water mill; we had a great time looking at it and seeing how it all worked. The mill house itself looked absolutely stunning and Phil and I both said how we would like to live there. We shared a lovely picnic in the gardens of the mill house.

After our lunch, we headed off to see some of the small petting animals and Ruby had a go at milking a pretend cow.

There was also a lovely barn in which there was a soft play area; both Ruby and Lottie enjoyed spending some time burning off some energy in there.

We were very lucky in that, for that day only, there was a steam rally taking place; Ruby loved looking at the mini trains! One very kind man even allowed Ruby to sit on his steam engine and Ruby even got to toot the horn which she loved doing and kept doing it quiet a lot!

After a lovely day enjoying the farm park, it was time to head back to the caravan site for our dinner and get ready for bed.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Family Holiday - Day 1

As a family we don't tend to go on holidays, to be honest we do not have any spare money; however my mum, along with other members of my family were going away for a few days in her caravan and the girls and I were invited along. So that explains why I have been a little bit quiter than ususual! did you miss me?

We went to a campsite just under an hour away from our home, the campsite was called Ferry Meadow and is run and managed by the caravan club, which my family are all part of. I was amazed at how little it cost us for 4 days, we only paid around £7 per adult per night and did not have to pay for the under 5's; it ended up costing me less than £30 for the 4 nights.

My mum travelled up on the Friday evening and set everything up, and we arrived on Saturday afternoon; this was maninly because Ruby has her ballet lesson and both girls have swimming lessons early in the afternoon and I did not want them to miss their lessons. It also worked really well that the caravan was all set up so there was no waiting around and having to keep the girls occupied.

When we arrived the sun was shinning and we had not planned to do a lot so we just enjoyed a bit of rest and relaxation. Situated behind the caravan was a woodland area and Ruby along with other younger members of the family decided to go into it and try and search for the gruffalo!

My sister, Ruby's auntie, Tegan helped to build a den in the wood and Ruby had a wonderful time playing in it and really did not want to leave the den when she was called for her dinner.

Ruby and her second cousins

It was then bath time and this campsite has amazing facilities for people with children and babies as they have a special child bath room that has a low toilet and small bath, which ended up with Ruby and 2 of her cousins in at the same time. The children had obviosuly had lots of fun searching for the griffalo and playing as the bath water was a lovely shade of brown when they eventually got out!

Then it was time for PJ's on and lights out. Ruby settled to sleep brillantly in her bed and to be honest I had no doubt she would be fine. Lottie on the other hand was a little miss. The layout of the caravan meant that I had to sleep next to Lottie so that she did not fall out of bed; Lottie is not used to co-sleeping and just kept wanting to play with me. When she looked to be going to sleep she would soon wake up and throw both of her legs up and down and this created a banging noisy that was getting really annoying at 11am; I ended up trying to pin her down with her blanket so she would not be able to move as much and it worked and she fell asleep.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Guest Post - Kerry on Babywearing

For today's blog post, I would like to introduce Kerry, mum to Edward who is 3 and half years. Kerry shares her passion for babywearing and tells us her journey on how she first started. As some of you might already know, I babywear Lottie; since she was diagnosed as reflux, I have found it invaluable to keep her upright, which also gives her the comfort she needs and allows me to crack on with jobs or things that need doing.

From the moment you see that little line appear on that little stick, your life changes. It ceases to be just you or you and your partner. There's another little life that you are very suddenly responsible for, are you prepared? Were you prepared? I certainly wasn't!

With so much to think about, and the world and his wife giving me every piece of advice you can think of you can forgive me for being so confused.

In the blink of an eye, 9 months had passed and I was returning home with my squishy little boy all fresh and pink. We muddled on day to day trusting our own instincts with our parenting methods – we knew we wanted to parent alternatively, we chose to breastfeed and to cloth nappy and eventually we'll home educate but we hadn't considered carrying or babywearing at all until our son was about 3 months old.

We are avid carboot fans and trundled off to one on a bright Sunday morning, complete with my monstrosity of a pram. As you can imagine, I struggled pushing it around, almost ran down a dozen browsers and in my exhaustion almost gave up and headed for the safety of the car. Then, I found my saviour.......a 3 way carrier for the princely sum of £3! I swiftly put it on and strapped Edward in, the pram was folded and taken back to the car and I got to bargain hunt. Amazing.

I thought it was the bees knees, I was thrilled to be able to transport Edward around without my huge pram – it was especially brilliant on the bus. I don't drive so I had suddenly found a new lease of life. I started to find other parents who also carried their babies and a this whole world of wraps, slings and carriers opened up to me. I fast found out that the bargain carrier I had been using wasn't that comfortable for me or my back, so I turned to my new friends for advice.

One friend let me try her carrier, a Mei Tai. I found it so much more comfortable as it distributed Edwards weight over both my shoulders and hips rather than just my shoulders. Edward looked much happier and actually slept in it! I started researching carriers, and the science behind them and discovered the reasons why he was happier.

With any carrier, positioning is optimum. Many carriers don't always give the best positioning for babies hips, which can make them uncomfortable and can lead to worse issues like hip dysplasia.

The best position for baby is what's known as the M position and to get this baby needs a good wide seat, with the fabric covering knee pit to knee pit and the knee's being higher than the bum.

I came across a cool acronym.......T.I.C.K.S

The T.I.C.K.S. Rule for Safe Babywearing

Tight – slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.

In view at all times – you should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards not be turned in towards your body.

Close enough to kiss – your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.

Keep the chin off the chest – a baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.

Supported straight back – in an upright carry a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. (This can be tested by placing a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently - they should not uncurl or move closer to you.) A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their chin to their chest.

So that's how I carry now, Edward is now 3 and a half and I still carry him and love it! It's wonderful to feel him so close to me and hear him telling me how much he loves the cuddles. I'll let you into a little secret. So do I.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

East Carlton Country Park

The weather has been so incredibly kind to us over the last week and as my brother and sister have just broken up from school, my mother suggested that we start the holidays by taking a picnic to East Carlton Country Park. The park is on the edge of the Welland valley, between Corby and Market Harborough. Further details can be found here.

I have childhood memories of visiting East Carlton Park, both with my family and also primary school. It is a lovely park with acres of land to explore, including walking through woodlands and crossing a stream; it also features a superb play area which is covered completely in sand, and a small shop which sells ice creams and snacks. Parking is also free which is a bonus.

We arrived at lunch time, so we started off our adventure by having a picnic under a big tree to get some form of shelter from the sun, as it was very very warm.

We decided to walk around the park and follow the trail through the countryside and woodland. I had decided to take Lottie in the pushchair as I wanted to be able to share the pushing, and as it was so hot, I did not want to be carrying her in her wrap; if it wasn't so warm, I would have wrapped her instead. I have a friend who has kindly written a guest post about baby wearing, which will feature on the blog tomorrow, so please check back to have a read.

The trail around the park is broken up regularly by various different wooden items to look at and walk and play on; we were particularly impressed with the dragon sculpture. Ruby decided she was the princesses and was flying on his back, she even got Auntie Tegan and Uncle Harry to join in too!I love the fact Ruby and Lottie have such a young auntie and uncle, as she gets to have some fun with them; although as they are now teenagers, I am sure they don't always want to play with her!

Ruby pretend to be the Gruffalo and spent some time stomping around; we all thought it was very funny when she was walking and putting her hands on her hips, she really has such a funny personality.

In the woodland area of the trail, Ruby enjoyed climbing on all the logs and making poses on the fallen tree stumps.

Towards the end of the walk you have to cross a stream; the more sensible of us, namely my mum and I decided to go across the bridge however Ruby, Harry and Tegan decided to walk through the stream. Ruby at first was very unsure at first, but once she mastered it, she kept going over and over the stream time and time again. Tegan and Harry played a prank on Ruby and splashed her with water, she was not impressed but she soon got her own back when she found a drinking trough and splashed Harry!

Ruby was still buzzing with energy even though we had been walking for about an hour and a half hour, so we decided to spend some time on the park, which is really well kept. As you can see from the photos Ruby had a really lovely time.

After all the fresh air and exercise we all had a really good nights sleep, I would recommend East Carlton Park to anyone with little ones as its a great place to visit or even just to go on your own to enjoy a nice walk through the countryside and woodland as it really is lovely.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Guest Post - Victoria on Adoption

First it would make sense to introduce myself and why I started blogging. I am Victoria – just a name but it feels like it covers so much that is me and I started blogging 3 years ago when I was really struggling with infertility assessments and treatments having been trying to start a family for nearly 2 years. It has been a very long, very tiring and, at times, devastating road but we have also had our moments of great joy – the best of these welcoming into our lives 2 beautiful children who we are waiting to formally adopt in the not too distant future. For those who are interested my blog is here.

The aim of my blog used to be for me to communicate with the world around me, mainly about subjects that were taboo – infertility and then miscarriage. Since our road turned towards adoption it has allowed me to share the process with all its highs and lows from our initial application to the children coming home with our family and friends as well as anyone else who is interested. Today I use my blog to build memories for the children, I want them to be able to read it in years to come and understand what life was like for me, how I felt and the things that we did as well as why.

So, in short, the time lines to get from our initial appointment with a social worker from the local authority adoption team started in June 2011 when I called them and booked. From there we were accepted on a Preparation Course in January 2012 and then went straight into our home study assessment. Our approval as adopters came through in September and by this point we had already been linked to our children. The process of learning about them from appointments with their social worker, the paediatrician and the foster carers pus shifting through the mountains of paperwork took until December when we were approved as their adoptive parents. Due to Christmas (children in the care system are not moved placements so close to Christmas) we waited until early January to meet them and after introductions lasting 9 days they moved – we haven’t looked back since and time has flown past!

We have been surrounded by advice – social workers, parents of children both birth and adopted, family and friends all of which we have tried to listen to as we have meandered the path of learning how to meet our children’s needs and help them settle into life with us. I have to confess that some of it has been very useful and some of it we have ignored completely. Our children are children but their circumstances are not and we have to accept that and tailor out parenting accordingly: I confess, we don’t always get it right. We have had good days, great days and some truly terrible days but the good and the great are in the majority now, for which we are very grateful.

Today our children are settled in – they attend pre-school and love every second plus they have made some lovely friends, we go to toddler groups, swimming and our local children’s centre and I am getting used to be a mummy, it has taken some time and even now, over 6 months later it still sometimes feels like I am living in a dream. They are amazing children, full of life, full of love and with a sense of fun that means we are living life to the maximum and enjoying every single second. The hardest thing for me is being with the other mums: the ‘normal’ mums with their birth children as I feel different. There are things about my children that I will never know. I wasn’t there when they entered this world and I didn’t share their earliest years. I wasn’t there when they learned to walk, to hear their first words, see their first meals (solid or otherwise) and whilst this can make me sad at times I try to remind myself to savour every experience we have and to remind those around me to treasure theirs whether they be experiences with my children or their own.

But, it is being with other parents that I am reminded in the differences between parenting birth children and the parenting that we practise. Other parents and childcare professionals always assure me that the challenging behaviour we see is normal however most then agree that it is extreme and as soon as we feel relief at it settling down it starts back up again. We remain focused around consistency as well as the reminder that they are finding their boundaries as ours is a completely different world to that in which they lived before and this process could take a long time. For them to be completely settled and happy that this is their forever home will take years!

For anyone interested in adoption or fostering I would strongly recommend visiting as well as your local authority’s adoption and fostering teams and I would wish you every success in your journey.

Friday, 19 July 2013

School's Out!

Most schools are breaking up for the summer holidays tomorrow, although here in Leicestershire the schools actually broke up last week and Ruby had her last session at playschool last Friday. To be honest, I don't think it has really sunk into her, that she will never have another day at playschool. Ruby knows that she will be going to big school soon. Ruby's former playschool, and the primary school she will be attending have done a lot of preparation with her so that the transition should go smoothly; I have previously written about this here.

As Ruby will be spending her summer holidays with me rather than in any form of child, I have decided to write a list of things that we would like to achieve; here are some that Ruby and I came up with:
  • Go to a Beach
  • Eat lots of Icecream
  • Fly a Kite
  • Have lots of Water Fun in the Garden
  • Visit a Farm Park
  • Go to the Park for a Picnic
  • Camp in a Tent
  • Go Swimming
  • Take part in lots of Messy Play, including Painting

We went to the supermarket today to stock up on a few bits; I noticed that there were tubs of chalk for just £1, "what a bargain" I thought and I was right.

Ruby spent time in and out of the paddling pool, and enjoyed making pictures and marks on the path, she has turned into a little graffiti artist and every slab was soon covered in a chalk picture.

Ruby loved chalk paintings and I think it's safe to say that these will be used on a daily basis to draw on slabs whilst the sun is shinning.

Looking back at the list, there is one the thing that is paramount; this summer holiday must and will consist of lots and lots of fun!

What do you have planned for the summer holidays and how are you keeping your children entertained?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A Very Important Post - Matilda Mae Sky Dive!

A very very special event is taking place this weekend; 9 women are taking part in a sky dive to raise funds for the lullaby trust. I have previously written about the lullaby trust and the amazing work they do; you can read my post here or visit their website.

You may be thinking, why I am telling you this? It's because a precious baby girl called Matilda Mae sadly passed away at just 9 months of age from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Matilda passed away shortly before I started this blog, and inspired by other bloggers, in particular Matilda's mum, I decided to write a blog as a way of recording my daughters achievements and general family life.

We need your help! If you can, then please please please consider donating some money to these incredible 9 women who are taking part in the sky dive; I know for certain it is not something I could do as I hate flying and planes!

There justgiving team page is here -

Or you could help to publicise the event, on July 19th to 21st why not tweet about the event, we will be using the hash tags #MatildaMae and #MMskydive.

There is also an on-line raffle that you can get involved in #MMraffle, and the Bliss Star Fund which is helping to support Bliss, a charity for premature babies that helps to look after affected families and to fund research to trying to save the lives of premature babies. will soon be on line, so when it is, please check it out and see what you can do to add to Matilda’s wonderful legacy.

I wish all the brave women who are taking part in the sky dive the best of luck, you are doing a wonderful thing for a wonderful cause.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Body Image - I Bare All!

Yesterday I read a BBC article entitled "Are Women's Bodies Still Beautiful After Pregnancy?";  I wanted to scream at the title, of course they are, a women has just gone through the process of nurturing and giving birth to a baby, they are incredibly beautiful.

Me and My Bump!

I must admit that prior to having children, I struggled to love my body, I would not say I hated it, there were just parts that I was not happy with. In my late teens I actually considered having plastic surgery, but fortunately I didn't have the money. Looking back, I think I would have been too scared to actually go under the surgeons knife!

I feel a lot better about myself now, although I would like to be taller as I am only 5ft 4" and feel that I am shrinking! I would like bigger breasts; they did not even grow during pregnancy, except for when my milk came in and I was like Jordan!

I was very fortunate with my pregnancy with Ruby, I did not get any stretch marks and bounced back very quickly to pre-pregnancy weight without trying at all; this could be because I have a very fast metabolism and was already slightly underweight before pregnancy. Not to mention that I couldn't really eat much when I was pregnant because of the hyperemesis, my bump was all baby!

After Lottie was born, my experience was much the same as first time round, although I do now have stretch marks on my bottom and on the tops of my legs, but am I bothered? No I am not; I am proud of them, they are part of my journey through pregnancy and they do not bother me in the slightest. I am proud of them as they show I am a mummy.

After the birth of Ruby, my confidence in my body soared; my body had done something amazing, it had carried, nurtured and birthed another human being. I was overwhelmed with my achievement of giving birth and decided that it would be a good idea to get some photos taken of my daughter when she was a newborn. Fortunately at the time, a photographer was offering a package where you had 4 photo shoots taken over the course of a year.

I went to the photo shoot feeling not too sure if I would be able to do a skin to skin shoot, and to this day I still don't really know how I managed to bare all; I must have been still living off the hormones of giving birth as I went topless and stripped my daughter off for a skin to skin photo shoot. I was a little scared and concerned about being on show, but the photographer was brilliant and helped me feel at ease; I also had my husband with me, who made sure I was decent too!

There was one embarrassing moment, just after the photographer had finished, when Ruby decided to poo on me! I don't think I need to say any more but it was not the most pleasant of experiences!

The results of the skin to skin to shoot are here, there is not really much I can say apart from every time I look at the picture (which has pride of place in my bedroom), I say WOW! I am so pleased I did it and there was no hesitation that when I had Lottie I would be bearing all again.

Ruby and I (Taken at a Professional Studio)

After Lottie's birth I seemed to lose the weight faster than I did before, and only days after giving birth I was in size 6 clothing. Everyone reading this probably thinks "wow, I would love to be that thin", but to be honest its horrible, I hate it; I would love to put on a stone or maybe 2! I am deemed as being underweight despite eating large quantities of things like meringue with strawberries and cream and my all time favourite drink hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows, but still I can not put weight on. I struggle to find clothes that fit me which I find so frustrating.

There could be a medical reason as to why I am struggling to gain weight; after 9 months of constant sickness, my body does not know what to do when I eat, so it very quickly works it's way through my body. I need to somehow slow down my metabolism, but this is probably going to be a matter of time rather than anything I can do now. I have recently been diagnosed as having an under-active thyroid; looking at me you would think I had an over-active thyroid as most people who are under active, are normally on the large side; it seems I do not fit the norm.

To anyone who is considering having a skin to skin photo shoot, I would highly recommend it; I love looking at the photos that I taken of me and the girls, it really does help to boost my confidence. If you do not have the confidence or the money to go to a professional studio, why not get your partner or a friend to take some with you at home; my hubbie took this one as part of a shoot we did at home:

Lottie and I (Taken at Home)

I asked some fellow mummy friends on Facebook what they thought of their body post pregnancy and to be honest I got a mixed response; but most would agree that they accept how their body has changed and if they could change it they would. Many are happy to accept the change as to them it comes hand in hand with having a child.

Ultimately it is down to each and every one of us as individuals to judge how comfortable we are with our bodies. We can either embrace the way our bodies have changed through the miracle of carrying a baby, or we can seek out ways to change them. Personally I am proud of the way I look now and would not change it for the world!

What do you think? Do you love your body? Are there parts you would change?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The After Effects of Hyperemesis

As many of you may be aware, a couple of weekends ago I attended a conference hosted by Pregnancy Sickness Support, a charity that supports women with sickness during pregnancy, from morning sickness right through the spectrum to severe cases of Hyperemesis Gravadrium.

I have decided to write another part to my hyperemesis journey; the after effects and after thoughts that I have experienced and felt. If you haven't read my journey through Hyperemesis you can found it here.

For nine months I was living with constantly feeling sick, being sick and worrying about how to keep rehydrated. This was the reality during my pregnancies with both Ruby and Lottie.

I feel there is a gap in my life, a hole that needs filling; I now feel that I want to achieve something for me, something to challenge and motivate me. This should start to happen soon as I begin to take the steps of applying to university, although I have a small sense of yearning that I would love another child. Don't get me wrong, I feel so privileged and blessed to have two amazing daughters, but there still seems a hole, one that needs filling. Some people tell me its because my family is not complete, but others tell me I need to get a dog!, I don't know yet, I just don't feel complete.

I feel sad, I feel cheated and I certainly feel robbed of my pregnancies, not being able to enjoy them or blossom; instead having my head in a sick bucket whilst feeling rubbish. Constantly feeling exhausted with headaches caused by dehydration; thanks HG, thank you for cheating me and stealing the joy I should have had during my pregnancies.

Part of me thinks oh let's try one last time, maybe I will have the perfect pregnancy. The odds are against me and to be honest, the thought of ever falling pregnant and having to relive nine months of taking medication that no Dr can give me 100% certainty that it is OK to take when pregnant, but then saying if I don't take them I will be in danger, as dehydration in pregnancy can be a killer. Charlotte Bronte actually died as a result of HG.

I was apart from my daughter for the first time, whilst I was carrying a collection of cells which were to be her sister. Lottie measured just 0.5cm when I was admitted to hospital to be rehydrated with lots and lots of fluid. I felt isolated and alone and was being fobbed off with "this is normal"; how can it be normal to not function, to be unable to do basic tasks, to have to buy a sick bowl that looks pretty so in some small way it brightens up the day.

Hyperemesis has lost me friends, friends who refused to believe that it was more than just had the normal morning sickness. I feel hurt that these people did not stand by me when I needed them. I told them how it was, how bad it was, but still they refuse to listen. I asked for prayers and they say they would but whether they did only god can judge.

So what have I learnt? I have come out a survivor! I got through the torture and am blessed to have two daughters. I know that I must push on and do all that I can to strive to find an answer, to raise awareness and get healthcare professionals asking why? We must find an answer to put an end to Hyperemesis suffering!

I have two daughters and would hate to think that they could go through the hell that Hyperemesis holds; they need me to raise the awareness, to speak up and say "this happened to me, don't let it happen to them", they need this research and help now, not tomorrow or not someday, but now!

I am currently proud to volunteer for Pregnancy Sickness Support. PSS runs on very little and is completely funded by donations; could you help by donating, or do a sponsored event to raise some funds? Without Pregnancy Sickness Support my pregnancy days would have been very lonely without the contact from people who have walked similar paths to me, the volunteer work that is being done is incredibe.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Ruby's Book Review

Since she was a little baby, Ruby has enjoyed looking at and reading books. My mum, Ruby's Nana, works at a playschool and has a particular interest in speech and language development; I think this one of the reasons that she is very very keen for Ruby and Lottie to have an interest in books. Nana went shopping last week and came home with a new book for Ruby to read; its a very special book called A Royal Fairytale - Kate and William.

As you can probably guess, the book follows the journey of how Kate and William met, how they went on to become husband and wife and are now expecting their first child very soon; albeit in a very basic form.

Ruby loves the book as it has a wedding in it; when asked what she liked about it, Ruby replied "they got married, Kate has a big pretty dress and a big cake; the queen has a big party but they wished for a baby".

As a parent I love this book as its a great way for Ruby to understand what is happening, as it is a true real life Fairytale story. The pictures are beautiful and the words used are perfect for Ruby's age; the book is not too long but perfect in length for a bedtime story. A Royal Fairytale retails at £6.99 however Amazon currently have it on offer for just £3.85 and I would highly recommend it.

As you would expect, the book does not give away the gender of baby or the day it is likely to be born, so when do we all think the royal baby will arrive and who wants to guess the babies gender and name?

I will start things off I think the baby will arrive on the 20th of July and be a girl and they will call her Charlotte. So am I right? Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

HOPE - Post & Antenatal Depression including Birth Trauma

My first pregnancy was hard. Wonderful, exciting, very much wanted, but hard. There were complications and it was a very stressful time. Our son was born by emergency c section 13 days after his due date, after 56 hours in labour. Looking back now I realise that the way I felt in the days following L’s birth was due to birth trauma, thinking back to his birth now often brings me to tears, I was treated rather badly by some of the hospital staff, although I must say there were also some fantastic health care providers but in the midst of the chaos they weren’t my initial memories, I was also in hospital for quite a few days and found myself getting more depressed each day.

By the time I came home baby blues were in full swing, I adored my son but couldn’t stop obsessing over his birth, how different it was to what I had hoped for, what I had planned.

We’d had a gender scan so knew we were having a boy from 16 weeks, we had named him, personalised his room and called him by his name through the rest of the pregnancy and I am so thankful for that. I truly feel I’d have struggled with the initial bonding had I not already ‘know’ him so well.

The months following the ‘birth’ I struggled a lot. I grieved the birth experience I had wanted so much. I missed my bump, cried over the fact I hadn’t ‘given birth’. It sounds crazy and I have never, and still don’t, think that people who have caesareans are any less a mother, never felt they haven’t given birth to their child, but for me I couldn’t get my head round it, I truly felt I hadn’t “given birth”, I had gone through hours and hours of contractions, my waters had gone, I laboured but I didn’t give birth, someone just handed him to me.

As time went on I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I didn’t feel like me, I longed to be pregnant again, I needed to have a ‘normal’ pregnancy and a ‘normal’ birth. I felt that if I could manage that it would cure me of the feelings I had, that I would at last feel I had earned my new title as mummy. By the time our son was 16 weeks I was pregnant again and was thrilled that I had done it, I was going to be able to put it all right and actually give birth.

The excitement and relief didn’t last long, I fretted about everything, was totally irrational and panicked at every cramp, terrified I was going to lose my baby. I had many early scans, my 12 week scan was actually the 5th I’d had in this pregnancy. I loved my new baby from the minute I got the positive test but as time went on, the obsession, fear and confusion (which was of course all due to post and pre natal depression – I was diagnosed with both) overwhelmed me and I started to worry about how I felt toward my baby. We had found out we were having a daughter, one of each – perfect, but my son was my baby, how could I have another baby? Why had I been so selfish? Why did I need to have another baby so soon, before my baby had even become a toddler?

My second pregnancy was hard. I was ill, depressed, scared.

My beautiful daughter was born 13 days late, by emergency c section after 24hrs of labouring. I didn’t get to ‘give birth’.

In the recovery room alone with my daughter I could see she was beautiful, the perfect little girl and I loved her so much. But I wasn’t the natural mum I was when my son was brought into the world. I was afraid of being alone with her, not because I would have done anything to hurt her – a million miles from that- I was scared she wouldn’t like me, or that despite adoring every millimetre of her, I wouldn’t click with her. I remember shutting my brain off for the first breast feed. Letting the midwives get on with forcing my nipple to her rooting mouth, hoping it would be done and dusted soon.

That night, alone with her again, I couldn’t take my eyes from her, she was so perfect. But was she mine? Again I hadn’t given birth? Could I take credit for her birth? I didn’t think so.

3:19am the ward was quiet. My curtain was drawn round my bed. I was watching my gorgeous girl. She was perfect but ‘my baby’ was at home, without his mum. I had gone through another hard pregnancy, another “failed’ birth and was now mum to 2 babies. I remember having a flitting thought, one I can’t put into words but it basically was that this little girl, MY little girl needed me as much as her brother did, and if I didn’t show her how much I loved her she may never truly believe that I did.

I sat for a moment longer, watching her in bed cot, then spoke to her, out loud but so only we could hear. I said:

“c’mon baby girl. Let’s do this”

Then I picked her up and for the first time in the 24hrs she had been outside of me, we relaxed into each other, cuddled and sealed the bond that should have been present a long time before.

My children and 3.5 & 2.5 now. I adore them both. Not one day of my life as a mum have I not loved every single thing about them but I am still working on healing myself, accepting that despite the knot it gives me to think about it, I did give birth to my babies, I still have to fight to remember details of their births and I still cry when I think about it. I have anger and sadness as well as happiness but at least it’s going the right way.

I still have depression of some description. I don’t like to refer to it as post natal depression but it doesn’t seem to fit. Whatever it is it’s something I truly wouldn’t wish on any other mum. Birth trauma related depression really needs addressing, it’s awful, but if you are going through it, I promise you’ll come out the other end eventually

If you have been affected by this story or would like further information then the following website may be helpful -

If you have a story you would like to share; that could help others please do get in touch. I welcome any subject and if required I am happy to post anonymous. Other HOPE stories can be found here.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Birthday on the Beach

Yesterday marked Lottie's 1st birthday and to celebrate we decided to head to the beach to have a lovely chilled celebration. Ruby's 1st birthday celebrations were completely different, it was a massive party for over 50 guests and included homemade sandwiches, cakes, scones etc. Whilst I look back at Ruby's party and think wow it was amazing and very special, I also remember being incredibly stressed and feeling that I missed out on the day because everyone wanted to cuddle Ruby; so this year to mark Lottie's birthday it was just Hubbie, the girls and I, and to be honest it could not have been better; I much preferred it, no stress and quality family time at the beach!

I was the 1st to wake in the house at 7am and much to my suprise neither Lottie or Ruby woke up until nearer 8am! This is a very rare occurrence as they normally get up at around 6.30am!

We have decided to start a new tradition in our family and have all the birthday presents on the dinning table so that when the girls come down, they get all excited and its an incentive for them to eat their breakfasts really quick, so that they can then open their presents!

As we were running a little bit late and wanted to head off to the beach quite early, we did not get a chance to open the pressies. We chose to go to Holkham Bay as we had heard from various people that is one of the best beaches in this country and we had never been there before. The journey from our home took just over 2 hours and we played numerous games whilst in the car including eye spy! When it was Ruby's turn she said eye spy with my little eye something which is purple. Phil and I tried to guess and after 5 minutes we decided to admit defeat and Ruby replied its a unicorn you silly mummy and daddy. How where we ever going to guess that?

We headed straight for the beach when we arrived in Holkham, and we were amazed at how beautiful the coastline was and how many different shapes and colours of shells there were. We decided to collect some so that we can use them in the sand at home.

We spent some time making sandcastles

Ruby enjoyed flying a kite

We went for a little paddle in the sea

But it would not be right if we had not had an ice-cream.

I think it was a contest between Ruby and Lottie as to who would get the most ice-cream over their face!

After spending over 2 hours on the beach it was lunch time and we headed to a lovely pub which did the most amazing cheese burger and chips.

Our final trip was to Holkham House where they have a new adventure playground which Ruby and Lottie loved and to be fair even Hubbie and I had a great time too; sometimes its so good to have children just so that we can take part in all this wonderful fun and relive our own childhood!

Both girls fell fast asleep in the car on the way home.

There was one final thing to do before it was bed time and that was to sing happy birthday to Lottie and sample a piece of birthday cake.

In all its been a really lovely chilled out day and I think we have all enjoyed spending time as a family celebrating Lottie's 1st birthday.