Guest Blogs, highlighton other fab ladies, Life of a Mum, Other fabulous ladies

Colourful Soles- Guest Blog

I’m a mum of 2 wonderful and spirited children, from the minute my daughter was born my perspective on life changed completely. This changein me inspired the opening of our Independent Children’s shoe shop in Lutterworth, Colourful Soles.

Our mission is to support the development of children, support our local economy and communityand for me personally I want to be able to read a story to my children, Ella and Thomas every night. 

Colourful Soles is a Children’s shoe shop, inside we are a team who are trained to measure feet and fit shoes correctly. We want shoe shopping for children (and those with them) to be an enjoyable experience and for them to go away with a pair of shoes that fits their individual and unique feet and personality.

Up until November 2012 I had spent all my working life dedicated to a large ‘Blue Chip’ business and became accustomed, if not somewhat addicted to, the long hours, travelling the world, discovering new experiences, the people (not all of them particularly nice) the salary and the rush of landing new contracts. On the 22nd of November my daughter, Ella was born and from that moment on I knew I had changed. 

I went through the motions for 5 years, going back part time after maternity leave, working long hours, answering e-mails @ 1am, being away from home for numerous nights, knowing deep down though that my heart was not in it. Being a mum was my priority and the compromise was getting too much for me. 

When my son Thomas was born, I decided there and then that I no longer wanted to be number in a big business, I wanted my family to come first.  I started training and learning about the development of the foot inspired by the fact that I couldn’t find the right shoe for my daughters’ narrow ankle and foot. Re-enforced by my sons’ wide foot and high step and inclination to pronate I decided I wanted to offer shoes for children that I couldn’t find.

Finally 2 years later the perfect unit turned up and we made an offer, I handed my notice in and started contacting companies that I trusted and believed in. 6 months later the icing on the cake I found the perfect partner, Sarah, to work alongside me who has experienced a very similar journey. Now I love coming to work and I love what I do, I like meeting new wonderful customers and having time for family and friends without secretly checking my phone for an e-mail or message. It’s fun! Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t come without worry but it is absolutely worth it. My family and friends have been more supportive that I could’ve hoped for and without making you want to reach for the sick bucket, couldn’t imagine better.

Couple of facts you might not be aware of…

By the time a child is 8 years old they’ve already walked, on average, 11,500km which is the distance from London to New York and back! The right shoes for all that walking is so important, allowing room to grow and supporting those soles!

The bones in the foot don’t stop forming until 18 years old, the right shoes will help those bones form properly.

Loving life…loving work and of course loving shoes! X

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Guest Blogs, highlighton other fab ladies, Life of a Mum, Other fabulous ladies

Mums in Business- The Frailty Nurse

The Frailty Nurse.

Frailty Nurse- Instagram

I’m a Mum of 2 girls aged 3 & 5, a wife and a dog owner!!

Prior to children I worked full time as a Community Matron for the NHS preventing ageing patients being admitted into hospital. 

When my second little one arrived I decided to try and get a better work life balance so launched my own business to allow me the flexibility to fit in around them while still keeping my independence and registration……….Frailty Nurse Consultants was launched.

It’s main aim to to support families with their ageing parents by offering advice, support and guidance to keep our ageing relatives safe at home.

I am passionate about the care of our older generation. Our population is ageing, we are living longer with more complex needs and long term conditions at home.

Navigating through all the options out there is complex, time consuming and confusing. This is where my business is here to help.

We offer support to you and your ageing parents, to help plan and navigate the health and social care system taking pressure off you all and put steps in place to keep them ticking along nicely. 

 We do this by completing an assessment at your parents home where all their needs and issues can discussed in a friendly and professional manor.
We can also help to save money by exploring options and benefits available.

We also offer a Frailty visiting service if you do not live near your ageing parents and would like peace of mind they are still managing ok, we report back any concerns and work as a team to keep them safe.

Finding someone to trust and who can help is the key, we are caring and compassionate and champion the needs of our elderly clients.

Find out more; Website

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Baby/Toddler stuff, Life of a Mum

New Boots- review of Colourful Soles in Lutterworthaa

On Tuesday this week we had our first visit to Colourful Soles in Lutterworth,  wonderful new independent shoe shop for children. We were kindly invited to have Dorothea fitted and gifted a new pair of boots in return for an honest review.

First impression of the shop were fab- the outdoor signage and window display and neat, tidy and cute! (as any kids shop should be). The lovely Tracy welcomed us and gave Dorothea time to look around and settle down playing before we discussed shoes and boots. Tracy was great with Dorothea, obviously has a natural affinity with kids and made measuring a 2 year olds feet look easy (which I’m sure isn’t the case).

The shop is beautifully decorated and themed; colourful, without the need for sunglasses. Nicely displayed footwear; so you can see clearly what’s available without being overwhelmed by the amount. The range of brands, colours and designs is fab; with something to suit all tastes- there’s sparkles and bows if you want them but also the tan, navy and black for a more classic look. The shop stocks shoes, boots wellies and school shoes too!

 

The service was brilliant, Tracy spent an hour with us; measuring Dorothea and patiently trying on 7 different pairs of boots and ensuring their fit. Dorothea was shy at first, but luckily the store has a great supply of toddler friendly toys, so we could coax her around the floor with toys. Dorothea especially loved showing us her sprints to the front of the store, to ‘ping’ the bouncy animals in the window and run back again.

 

We finally settled on some rosy bronze metallic ankle boots from Ecco (gifted) and also the lovely mustard ones again Ecco brand. I’m very tempted to return and get the beautiful navy boots with sparkly shooting star.

 

Pricewise, Colourful Soles is as expected for great quality recognised brands- the boots we tried on ranged from £48-52. The shop also has a loyalty card, so you can gain a discount the more you purchase. All of us (Nanna came too), enjoyed the Colourful Soles experience and will certainly be returning.

Colourful Soles on Insta

Family time, Life of a Mum, Playtime

Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park

Dorothea is a massive Peppa Pig fan- she loves to snort and jump in muddy puddles; so Peppa Pig world was always on our wish list of family days out.

Paultons park kindly gifted us a day out in return for an honest review.

We visited on Monday the 9th of September, and although the weather man gave us very bad news our first impressions of the park were great! The park was very well signposted from the main roads so finding it was stress-free, and parking was free and easy too. Being in term time we had very small queues to get in and we were given an easy to use map to get around the park.

On entering the park there is multiuse lockers for £4, which saves you carrying around your picnic and change of clothes all day; there’s also kids buggy/wagons to hire if you have a full to brim car and no room for your own buggy. If you take your own pram/buggy, then there are plenty of ‘buggy parks’ around the ride entrances. Signs around the park help you to easily find your way around, there’s also a really useful app that’s free to download with an interactive map to plan your day. We were impressed by the pretty gardens, forest feel and fabulous topiary; it is really a more picturesque parks than most.

With an excitable two year old we headed straight to Peppa Pig world; the park has lots more to offer; certainly for families with different aged children, and I can imagine to make the most out of the whole park a two day visit would probably be required.  The entrance to Peppa pig world did not disappoint! Colourful signs, Grandpa/mas house,  Miss Rabbits helicopter ride and giant bright coloured flowers gave us a warm welcome, and Dorothea started to skip about enthusiastically.

We walked along the path, trying to help Dorothea gain confidence for the day (to go on rides, shes quite shy), we were impressed with the cleanliness of the park and loves all the sound effects and music- it really added to the feel of the experience. Dorothea stopped to have a look at the ducks (not real ones; although there are plenty of those too) and had a beaming smile. We then turned around to see Madame Gazelles school house and to meet Peppa and George. It was really very sweet to see D meet giant versions of her favourite characters, and they spent time saying hello to the kids and giving them big hugs.Between the rain showers we experienced most of the rides; Dorotheas favourite was Daddy pigs car ride, which we went on 3 times. We had very few queues over 5 minutes the joy of a rainy day I think; there’s also a handy feature on the app which shows queue times to help you get around with least fuss. All of the rides had room for parents/guardians and siblings/friends, so even the shyest of toddlers can be supported to enjoy the day.

Mummy loved Georges dinosaur adventure ride, and Daddys favourite was Grampy Rabbits sailing club. We enjoyed‘Mr potatos playground’ with slides, swings, roundabouts etc. and a lovely rainbow path.

There’s a ‘Muddy Puddle’ play area which I imagine is great fun on a warm day; with its water fountains, puddles and interactive buttons to press to start the water features. Either way depending on the weather you’ll want to pack a swimsuit, or welly boots and waterproofs.

The area we ran to during a down pour was ‘Georges Spaceship play zone’ – a fab soft play area for all ages (there’s an under 2s, under 5s and open play areas) with slides, climbing frames and tunnels. This area also has a cafe and seating area for the grown ups.

The park is beautifully themed, with giant characters, flowers, trees and cute colourful buildings all around; perfect for photo opportunities and there’s also park photographers which can capture family pictures and also ride photos (look on the app for photo offers).

A variety of food is on offer; the usual theme park fodder of pizza, hotdogs, chips, donuts and ice cream- we took a picnic but the pizza smelled delicious!

There’s lots of sheltered undercover picnic benches, both in Peppa Pig world and just outside  (just beware of the ducks).  And on a nice day lots of grassy areas (how do they keep the grass there so trim and green???).

Peppa Pig world has a HUGE shop selling a massive array of all things piggy; with some lovely exclusive products. D went home with Miss Rabbits plane, a back pack, ball and mug; which she’s rather pleased with. There’s also another shop at the exit (which you sneakily have to walk through to leave) with a larger range of items, but less Peppa Pig.

Toilets and baby changing facilities were easy to find around the park, I liked the fact that the loos had built in toddler seats to help when toilet training, and also seats with harnesses to secure little ones so mummy can wee in peace.

We were surprised that the many charter ride ons around the park (like you see outside supermarkets and in service stations) were free to ride on- D loves these so was a nice bonus between big rides. Like at fairgrounds there were games for a few quid to win large teddies and peppa soft toys; Daddy spent all his pocket money here, yet failed to win- we did not see anyone carrying their wins around, so maybe these games a near on impossible- who knows?

Overall we loved the park. We are already planning when to go again; and quite fancy a trip for either their Halloween or Christmas specials. Day tickets are £35 per adult and toddlers under 1 metre are free. I can imagine we will visit at least yearly for most of Dorotheas childhood; it’s quite a drive for us but there’s a number of low cost premier inns for a low cost over night stay locally. Peppa Pig World we cant wait to visit again.

Peppa Pig World Website

Dorotheas outfit

Leggings from Little Stitches Online

Peppas Bestie Tee from Primrose and Bear

Life of a Mum

Twinlakes Visit

Today we visited Twinlakes theme, farm and water park in Leicestershire. We were kindly gifted our tickets by the park. The park is located near Melton Mowbray, which is about 20 miles from home for us.

Unfortunately we managed to pick a very windy and rainy day; so a few of the rides/areas of the park were closed.

Luckily at Twinlakes there’s a good variety of indoor and outdoor activities for the kids; from fairground type rides, adventure playgrounds and soft play areas.

On a Sunny day we would have been able to experience the water park, beach and many outdoor grassy picnic areas. So don’t forget a picnic, swimmers and bucket and spade.

During the year the park has lots of different extra entertainment options- for us today it was the circus! Dorothea loved being in the big top with the music and lights and she was happily mesmerised for 40 minutes. There was aerial acrobatics, a clown, singers and dancers and even a bearded lady! Dorothea loved clapping the acts and happily munching on her fresh popcorn.

Dorothea is 2.5 years, and quite shy- we found that there really wasn’t enough (on a wet day) to keep her entertained for the whole day. I think for older children and/or a Sunny day you could happily be entertained from 10-5, but for us today the park entertained for about 3 hours. There was lots of rides suitable for a brave and adventurous toddler- but Dorothea didn’t manage to pluck up the courage to go on much.

I can imagine that on a sunny day Dorothea would have loved building sandcastles at the large beach, enjoyed a picnic on one of the many grassy picnic areas and played for ages on the playgrounds.

Best point: Variety; for large families with different aged kids this park would be great on a good weather day.

Worst point: Some parts of the park look old/weathered and could do with a fresh lick of paint.

Life of a Mum

Familido Air Stroller Review

We were so excited to win the Familido Air Stroller (black panda) From Baby Lurve- Shop- market Harborough and online in their ‘test and treat competition’

This stroller is super compact and lightweight- we’ve been looking for a smaller option so this is perfect. It sets up and collapses with just one hand (clever little squeeze and slide on the handle), so can be done whilst holding your toddlers hand or shopping.

It’s full reclining with a nice big hood so perfect for naps. It’s also lovely for summer as has two netted ventilation holes.

The stroller comes with a rain cover and also a handy storage/carry bag. To give you an idea of collapsed size; it easily fits in the foot well by Dorothea’s car seat. It’s also just over 5kg.

I’d definitely recommend this stroller for when you’re ready to move on from your large pram/buggy (although it is suitable from birth). I’m so pleased we’ve won this, I wish we’d discovered it about a year ago; as would have saved us loads of boot space and hassle.

The stroller is £149- a great price, that I would invest in if I hadn’t won it.

‘Get 20% off your own Familido Stroller from Baby Lurve, in store and online using code “20IVFNINJA”-offer is valid until 1st September 2019’ Buy now with discount code!

Life of a Mum

Windmill farm park- Kibworth, Leicestershire.

Well the new farm park in our village has now been open 4 days and we’ve decided to give it a go. It’s still school holidays, and we got here at 11.30; so was expectedly packed.

Entrance is currently £5 each (with no time limit) and under 2s are free. This is an introductory offer; and I really hope it doesn’t rise dramatically. I’m guessing they’ll be an option of a yearly pass too; which with living only 5 minutes away, and it having both indoor and outdoor play options would be fantastic for us.

Top tip: remember your socks for the indoor play; we didn’t, but luckily they keep a stock at £1.50 a pair.

Dorothea headed straight for the indoor play area, themed; wait for it…… on a farm with a windmill; it’s really rather stunning. With a large softer play area for the under twos (but Dorothea loved it), with a slide, climbing areas and lovely houses for hiding in; all carpeted in squashy faux grass and foam mats. There’s also a larger play area for the bigger kids- with lots of climbing and hiding options. Seems lots of the parents were loving it too. The main attraction in here is the beautiful big windmill which the kids can turn a wheel to get moving. The walls are painted with stunning farm murals; so you really don’t feel like you’re sitting in a barn!

The indoor play area has seating and a small cafe surrounding the faux grass area. There’s more seating upstairs overlooking the play area.

The cafe seemed reasonable with cakes at £1.95-2.95 and coffee around £3. There’s kids meal boxes for £5.50 too. You can’t bring your own picnic inside, but there’s a picnic area out in the main farm area (and an ice cream shed too). It’s great to see healthy snack options including dried fruit and popcorn, and very little plastic too. Lucy told me the cakes are sourced from a local baker which is a nice touch too.

Behind the main play barn with animals to see and feed. At certain times during the day there’s staffed sessions to pet the animals; we got to hold a baby chick which Dorothea loves. Next time we visit I’ll make sure we stroke the rabbits and guinea pigs. Although a very new park- the animals seems very friendly and tame. Dorothea loved feeding ‘my friend Henry’.

Lucy tells me that there’s also some small class rooms that they are hoping to do activities/crafts in.

The outside play area is large and surrounded by animals to see and feed. There’s a large climbing frame/slide- in a sandpit with a cool water feature. Dorothea loved using the water pump to watch the water move down to each movable dam which eventually finishes in a small pool. There’s also a large swing and an enclosed area with small tractors to ride on.

There’s a big picnic area by the ice cream shed which you can bring your own picnics too. Some of the ground is a bit rough and ready with some puddles- so wellies or sturdy shoes are probably best. The outside play area isn’t sheltered or shady, so can get breezy/sunny depending on the day.

What I love is that there’s no shop! Meaning you can really stick to a budget for your day out.

I will certainly be visiting again, with a few friends for company I’m sure we could spend the whole day her. I think this park will evolve and grow with more animals and activities- I certainly think they’ve made a pretty awesome start.

https://windmillfarmpark.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/WindmillFarmPark/

Guest Blogs, Life of a Mum, Other fabulous ladies

Cross Your Legs When You Sneeze? There is a Solution (guest blog)

Hello, my name is Julie, and I am the founder and campaigner behind the Multi Award Nominated and Commendation Awarded Secret Whispers Brand. I am mummy to two gorgeous sons and wife to a very patient husband. 

Approaching the big 40 and after 2 pregnancies I was starting to think more seriously about my pelvic floor muscles. I knew that with falling oestrogen levels, my pelvic floor strengthcould start to become an issue. I was not going to let that happen. Kegel exercises are not a new concept to me. I have been doing my exercises for years. But it did shock me just how few products were on the market for women to help them improve their pelvic floors and how there is such a big taboo about the subject. Many of the mums I spoke with told me that they wore pads, no longer took part in sports and that leakage was normal after childbirth. I decided there and then that I had to do something. Most women saw Kegel exercise’s as a ‘rescue’ option when things go wrong, rather than a preventative measure. 

I was astounded that most women had no idea they could do something about this before it became an issue. 

I then decided to design my own Kegel Weight Kit. It is a 6 Step progressive weight programme to safely and gradually strengthen your pelvic floor. They are made with medically graded 100% body safe silicone. It’s like a weighted tampon for your pelvic floor.

Too many women around the world are suffering in silence, crossing their legs when they laugh or sneeze. It’s time to give women back control. I am now on a mission to stop women having to prematurely resort to pads to stop leakage – let’s takedown Tena Lady!

Now ladies, all you need to do is just be committed and take ACTION! Just get started!!

Weight Lifting (…for your vagina)

Let’s talk about something embarrassing shall we? Does a little wee escape when you laugh, sneeze, cough, jump, or run? Is this now your new ‘normal’? 

Did You Know That 50% of women suffer with pelvic floor issues?

Unfortunately this figure could be much higher because women are too embarrassed to even speak to their doctor about it, let alone family or friends. Due to the associated taboo many women are suffering in silence.  The physical, psychological and social wellbeing impact for women and their families who suffer with weak pelvic floor conditions is heart-breaking and could be avoided. This is an issue that spans generations. This has to change.

Did You Know That It Is NOT Normal To Leak After Childbirth?

I was horrified to learn that women are led to believe it is ‘normal’ to cross their legs when they laugh or sneeze. That urine incontinence after childbirth is almost expected, thanks to the large advertising budgets of companies selling these pads. Secret Whispers exists to present a very different reality and give a very different message.

What Are Kegel Exercises?

Kegel exercises consist of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor. They are essential because your pelvic floor is a muscle like any other and it needs to be exercised. Think of your pelvic floor as your Lady Hammock. It has a very important job to do. It consists of muscles and ligaments holding up your bowel, uterus and bladder. The muscles that surround these organs can no longer fully support these organs when weakened, resulting in the lack of control you have over passing urine, wind or faeces. In severe cases, called a prolapse, there is a dropping down of the internal organs into the vagina. Don’t use it and you may well lose it! So prevention is better than cure ladies!


“I have tried doing pelvic floor exercises and they didn’t work” 

Most women do not know where their pelvic floor muscles are and how to engage them correctly. When you use Secret Whispers ™ Kegel weights your pelvic muscles are contracted, which in turn lifts the internal organs and the muscles also tighten the openings of your vagina, anus and urethra. Thus, improving your pelvic muscle tone and reducing the need for future corrective surgery! They correctly engage the correct pelvic floor muscles to contract, taking away the guess work.

When Can I Fit Kegel Exercises Into My Already Busy Life?
There really are so many ways for your Kegels to fit easily into your lifestyle that there are NO excuses. Incorporate your Kegel exercises with an activity you do most days. 

 Showering, gym work out, exercise class, walking, school run, yoga, housework, swimming, walking the dog, 

 or even cleaning the oven (honestly:-).

 You just need to be active for them to be effective

 

“I’ve given birth and the damage is already done”

Doing Kegel exercises before childbirth helps in the recovery of the pelvic floor and reduces the likelihood of bladder incontinence after birth. However, if you start suffering from a loss of bladder control after childbirth, you can still improve the strength of your pelvic floor by doing Kegel exercises. If in doubt please always speak to a pelvic floor physiotherapist.

Will Kegel exercises improve my sex life? 

If you have noticed that it is more difficult to reach orgasm or that your other half has noticed it is more difficult to climax; your pelvic floor may have weakened. An orgasm happens when the muscles in your vagina, anus, and uterus involuntarily contract and then relax. This is the amazing feeling of “release.” Orgasms are bigger and stronger with a strong pelvic floor.

Special Discount Code for 30% Off

https://www.secretwhispers.co.uk/discount/ivfninja

Contact Information:

Website address: https://www.secretwhispers.co.uk/products/pelvic-floor-toner

Facebook: @SecretWhispersUK

Instagram: @secretwhispersuk

Twitter: @secretwhisperss

Email: support@secretwhispers.co.uk

Life of a Mum

Bad days…..

Where to begin…… and that’s the thing I think; it’s so very hard to explain to someone that hasn’t experienced it.

Constant uncontrollable worry, mind working overdrive, daydreaming, overthinking, panic, doubt, anger, annoyance………. just wanting to hide away.

Sometimes there’s a clear reason why it happens; an argument, a bad day at work, a particular stroppy toddler, or just me judging or critiquing myself too harshly.

My anxiety feels as if everyone in the world is waiting for me to trip up, so that they can laugh at me; it makes me second guess my every move or decision. I therefore overthink everything; I critique myself so heavily- and also I take others comments to heart, a simple statement from them I manage to turn into a criticism.

Imagine…….

You are walking down the stairs carrying a pile of washing, your foot slips- the feeling of being about to fall! That’s the feeling……. the breath grabbing, heart pounding, ‘oh shit’ feeling…..the feeling over and over, and over. For no real reason; I can be having a good day and then it comes.

Throat tightening….

Heart pounding…..

Hot and sweaty…..

Can’t breathe……

It’s bloody awful.

And then there’s the fears and horrid thoughts….

This began when Dorothea was tiny; I used to worry that something horrible would happen in the night. Often I woke- convinced she was tangled in the bedcovers, or that she’d fallen off the bed, I’d rolled on her etc. Etc.

So many nights I‘d wake hot and panicked; stretch out to told her and be convinced; even if just for a moment, that she was cold- the poor child would generally grumble under Mummies prods- but I would sign relief and try and settle to sleep once again.

This has been happening more and more recently……

That same feeling of dread; suddenly waking and thinking something horrid has happened to her. Or other feelings of dread; being woken to a message or call of bad news, having irrational fear of weird things (cranes, driving under train bridges, overtaking lorries…)

And I’m so flipping tired!!!!

No not tired; it’s fatigue- it’s a tiredness that sleep won’t resolve. Not that I can sleep- although I’d love to (I’d take a week straight)- when I do sleep I have the funkiest dreams ever! And when I don’t sleep I visit the kitchen and eat custard and drink lemonade.

I feel exhausted; tired of thinking, tired of feeling nervous, tired or being ‘on alert’ and tired of that feeling of impending doom. Being able to rest would be a real treat.

All this seems to be driven by my thoughts, anxieties and self critique; but then there’s the very real physical symptoms!

– regular headaches; always behind one eye, they make me take myself off to bed.

– racing heart/palpitations/chest tightness

– throat tightness and difficulty breathing or talking

– flushing/overheating/sweating

– hormonal imbalance; disappearing and then heavy periods, mood swings, loss of libido

– bladder issues; peeing more with increased urgency

( I’m a nurse so I get that although these are actually very real physical symptoms- they are very stronger linked to my mental health).

I feel lost; unappreciated, silly, foolish- I take comments and criticism too harshly. Somedays I feel I’m useless at everything; others I can see my talents and strengths and have confidence.

But it’s how to take control?????

– I know I’m not everything I sometimes judge myself to be

– I know I have skills, knowledge, gifts and areas of expertise

– I know I’m appreciated, loved, cared for, trusted and wanted

– I know I’m kind, honest, genuine, social and loving

But how can I be all that…….. how can I be everything I know I can be, at my best…… when right now I feel at my worst?

For now I need time…..

time to rest

– time to be selfish and prioritise me

– time to think AND time not to think

– time for family and friends

– time to make decisions

– time for fresh air and exercise

– time for talking, for listening, and for being quiet

– time to make the right decisions for me

Got milk?, Milk, weaning and more

Boob- who knew?!?!?

When I was pregnant I was determined to breast feed; I tried to read a few book, go on the Facebook support pages and subscribed to mother and baby magazine.

I thought I knew enough to get me by. But I felt anxious about it all; it’s one of those things you don’t really ‘get’ until you’re doing it. And even then everyday is a school day.

Here’s some interesting (or weird things I never really knew).

1. Breastfeeding doesn’t mean the delay to your periods returning.

Yes this one really sucked; I was led to believe that one of the lovely benefits from breastfeeding was that your got a nice break from periods, this was supported my comments from friends when they were gutted their monthly friend returned after a year!

Well I had a two week post-partum bleed and then lo and behold- 28 bleeding days later Aunt Flo returned! What the actual fuck- I mean how unfair is that?!?!?!?

Not only that but whilst I was breast feeding my monthly visitor only arrived every ruddy month perfectly on time! couldn’t do that when we were trying to get pregnant and go through fertility treatment could it???

Ready for some even more shit news; (and this is a bit gross) when you are actually feeding your uterus contracts meaning that you sit their feeling the blood flood out. I mean lovely- totally wonderful. Mother BLOODY nature!

( slightly pissed off infertile woman here)

2. Let down

Well where to begin with this one; I’ll just go for it, imagine 37,500 ants crawling all over you tits. Well this is what ‘let down’ feels like. What???? You ask…..

Well did you know you milk just does sit ready to come out (otherwise we’d all just sit in puddles of milk); your babies first few sucks stimulates you boobs enough to ‘open the gates’ of your ducts- this is called ‘let down’, and let me warn you- that is a bloody weird feeling!

3. Porn star boobs

Ever contemplated getting a boob job, or wished you were curvier to help you feel sexier?

Well about 3 days after birth you’ll get a ‘free trial’ of those huge, rounded, stuck on looking bazookas- and you’ll feel sooo sexy!!! Er nope, they’re huge, they hurt, they feel like they’re going to explode, they’re hot, they’re leaking; and now you have to try and attach a baby onto them. Trying to attach a soft mouthed tiny new born onto a huge, hard, rounded football is flipping hard. And you’ll also decide you don’t want a boob job.

4. It’s good for your mental health.

I definitely struggled with my mental health more after weaning Dorothea off the boob. So I did some research and found your brain releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin during breastfeeding, which help you to bond with baby and ease those normal feelings of stress and anxiety.

5. Breastfeeding burns loads of calories

Breastfeeding burns between 500-600 calories a day. That means some mums might end up losing weight without any additional exercise! But in reality it also makes you really hungry- I remember stuffing my face with flapjacks in the middle of the night. Also breastfeeding mums will generally spend more time sitting down- for me this signals ‘snack time’ – so don’t count on losing that weight; but in reality who cares, breastfeeding is great and so are flapjacks.

6. Rainbow milk. Milk is white right? Wrong!

When expressing I found that the bottles of milk in my fridge could be different colours- sometimes with a blue tinge! Apparently this change can be due to what you’ve eaten or your babies needs (milk constituents can change daily- clever eh?)

7. You produce milk long after feeding stops.

I figured that soon after I stopped feeding that I would ‘dry up’. Not the case- I found in the months following I would leak milk when emotional, and now (over a year later) milk is still there if pressure is put on my boobs.

8. Breastmilk jewellery

You can get gorgeous jewellery made from your milk! This one is always controversial, with many thinking it’s weird, but I love my milk pendant.

Check out:

https://www.forevernurtured.co.uk

https://milkdiamonds.co.uk/

9. Flapjacks!

Oats are supposed to be good for milk production and flapjacks are yummy! This was a recipe I created; these are great for devouring during night feeds (lots of good ingredients too)

⁃ 1 cup coconut oil

⁃ 3/4 cup agave syrup

⁃ 10 dried dates finely chopped

⁃ 1 apple finely chopped/grated

⁃ ( melt down the above in a pan until a gooey syrup- then add)

⁃ 1 cup chopped off nuts( I used cashews)

⁃ 4 cups oats

⁃ 1 cup milled flax seed

⁃ 4 tablespoons brewers yeast

Mix well, bake in flat pan for 15 mins at 180 (or until firm and browning)

10. Breastfeeding is amazing

It’s also hard work, often awkward, sometimes painful and welcomes some negative opinions. Next time you see a breastfeeding Mum be positive; a smile, compliment, cup of tea or biscuit.
IVF

IVF- the beginning…..

Well it’s May- the month that always reminds me of IVF! It was the May 2016 was month Dorothea was created. But our journey started long before that.

As an ‘older’ couple we didn’t want to hang around waiting for the ‘right time’ to try for a baby. So we decided early on in our relationship to come off contraception and let ‘nature’ run its course. And we waited……

Nothing happened- so we decided to be a little more planned; using a Fertility app and peeing on ovulation sticks (oh and obviously having sex) – but still nothing. A year had passed.

So we visited the GP and had some basic fertility checks; blood tests and a semen analysis. We were referred for fertility treatment April 2015 after tests revealed malefactor infertility; analysis showed a near normal count but low ‘normal forms’- meaning that although natural conception was possible, it was unlikely.

Following some more tests; more bloods and tests ruling out STDs and other infectious diseases, specialist fertility blood tests and ovarian scans- we were played to go ahead with a funded IVF cycle.

We were referred to a local fertility clinic to commence the process. I was told my AMH levels were high (indicating a good reserve of eggs)- but that this possibly indicates PCOS. Further sperm analysis revealed a range of figures- which confused us an didn’t seem related to any health or lifestyle changes. Due to sperm quality we were told we needed to have ICSI- this is when the sperm and egg are not simply put in a dish to do their thing- but that the selected speed is actually injected into the egg.

Our cycle started in October 2018- a few days after a lovely holiday and my birthday. I felt stressed- I wasn’t feeling optimistic or positive, I felt badly prepared and was having increased responsibility at work increasing my stress load further. I hadn’t done that much research and was just trying to ‘go with the flow’. Every appointment was met with nervousness and anxiety from me- my partner tried to help relax me- but there was a lot of tears.

IVF treatment can involve a range of drugs/treatments- from self administered injections, to tablets, nasal sprays and vaginal pessaries or rectal suppositories. The box of drug supplies for a cycle is overwhelming- a huge amount of unfamiliar drugs with a scary amount of needles and syringes! I was fine with the needles and drugs; I’m a nurse, so this part of the process didn’t bother me at all.

It was the mental side of it; after wanting to be a mum for so many years I was so nervous it wouldn’t work. Anxious at every stage and felt it was hard to relax and get rest.

So the injections were ongoing (to grow the follicles and mature the eggs) at each appointment they were counting 30-40 follicles! This was a high number; and they said I was at risk of OHSS ( ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome)- and wanted to monitor me closely- they reduced my dose injected stimulation drugs to help reduce the risk. (Normal amount of follicles is expected to be approx 10-20). I can not describe the feeling of huge fluid filled ovaries; it was certainly weird and uncomfortable!

The nurse told me ovaries are around the size of walnuts- but after 7 days of stims mine were now the size of large oranges. When I walked quickly I could feel them ‘bouncing’ inside me; and I was told no running or activity due to a risk of torsion.

So I had a scan and blood tests in a Friday; and was due to return on the Monday, on the Monday my scan revealed a shock- massive follicles! The nurse was shocked and said she was unsure how they’d grown so much on a reduced dose- I was surprised, I’d had no dose adjustment. It turns out they left a voicemail that I never received- to half my stim dose!!! I was told to stop stims and await blood results; a call came later that my hormone levels were dangerously high- they were 21,000 and should be less than 17,000. I gad to return to the clinic- I was given a drug called cabergoline to counteract the effect and hopefully stop the likelihood of hyper stimulation syndrome. I took the drug- but was scared; and I had to return to work.

I quickly felt very unwell; I collapsed vomiting at work in the corridor, Nick had to come fetch me. I had such severe vertigo and sickness that I could only lie flat or crawl; I’d never felt so ill. The clinic said it was a severe allergic reaction to the drug; and that I needed to try and drink 3-4litres of water a day.

After 2days of being poorly; with severe sickness and inability to drink- I had egg collection. We retrieved 20 eggs from 31 follicles. To retrieve the eggs they insert a dildo like implement into your vagina- poke a needle through your vaginal wall and into each ovary; sucking out the contents of each plump follicle. In my clinic I was sedated, so don’t recall a thing; afterwards just a little period type pain and spotting of blood.

After the great news of 20 eggs- 17 were mature and yet only 7 fertilised. This was gutting!!!! We had hoped to get at least 50%. Then came the wait; we had to wait for a call, hoping that day by day our cells would divide normally. The aim is to get them to a 5 day embryo; called a blastocyst.

On day 3 we had a call- we only had 3 embryos left in the running- and they were not brilliant quality; we were advised to come in for transfer. The risk was if was waiting til day 5 there would be no embryo to transfer. We were gutted.

I remember crying en-route to the hospital. Nick played my ‘relaxing IVF app’ but it didn’t help- I was in pieces. So two embryos were transferred; a ‘good’ 8 cell embryo and a fragmented 10 cell (you can tell from the pic that the top embryo looks more equal and the cells are similar sizes).

I remember Nick asking the Dr what we could do to improve our chances; should I rest etc.- she replied ‘either you get pregnant or you don’t’.

Then came the dreaded two week wait- the most awful time; questioning every potential symptom- do I have sore boobs, any pain, is my period coming. 11 days later we got our answer.

We returned to the clinic to have our thoughts confirmed- it hadn’t worked! A urine and blood test confirmed this cycle had not worked. We went home to cry.

Not only had this cycle not worked- but it was our only funded cycle- our only chance of getting pregnant on the NHS. What millions of couples take for granted- having a family- we were going to have to find thousands of £££ for.

Yes- infertility sucks!

It affects you mentally, physically and financially. It challenges your relationship, can make you seriously ill and makes you feel like a total failure! Why can’t I do the main thing we were put on this Earth to do. I just wanted a baby- a family!

Our Ivf fund

Life of a Mum

Post natal lows!

This is me.….Married, Mum to a fab little lady, sarcastic, tired, matron to an awesome team of nurses.

I look happy right???

I am; I have an awesome life- my dream family, an amazing job and some fab friends. I’m also on anti depressants, I know my head isn’t entirely organised, often paranoid and over emotional.

If I’m totally honest I’ve probably experienced post natal depression; but it certainly took me more than the ‘post natal’ period to recognise that I was struggling.

I remember the midwife and health visitor doing the required mental health checklist; and telling me I was high risk. Apparently ‘older’ mums that are previously successful and career driven struggle with the transformation to ‘mum on maternity leave’.

I totally get it! You go from being a functioning and productive adult; to a tired Mum who finds it difficult to leave the house by midday.

Also the mental effect of IVF seems greatly underestimated. It has changed me forever! As a woman I feel my main role on this earth is to Mother; and I felt that was stolen from me. After going through years of fertility treatment, pregnancy then feels like a great pressure, and parenting an IVF miracle even more so.

Comments that I’m really lucky to be a Mum, that I should be grateful to have one child, and not be greedy in wanting more! No one says these things to the fertiles!! (more on this in a separate blog).

I remember feeling emotional, unable to cope, frustrated- I felt like a ‘beginner’! I felt I was crap at motherhood- from leaving work as a confident and skilled nursing sister- I felt that I was failing.

But …. I didn’t want to admit it.

Dorothea had some early weight loss- it took weeks and weeks of a tiresome breastfeeding, plus expressing and top up feed routine to get her weight up. I blamed myself – felt my milk wasn’t enough; luckily I had a great health visitor who supported me well.

Dorothea also suffered from reflux; if you’re a Mum of a reflux baby you’ll know the emotional effects of this. Reflux means everything takes more; more time, more patience, more washing, more packing, more understanding. Constant small feeds, followed by extended periods of sitting upright and winding, followed by a mess! Followed by numerous Muslins, outfit changes for both of us and daily loads of washing. Not to mention cleaning of carpets, furniture, the dog! Where spillages had also occurred- it felt endless.

Of course I blamed myself– also second guessed my choices and actions. Should she be going to the Drs, should she be on meds, were the meds making it worse, should I go dairy free, gluten free, spice free, should I stop breast feeding….. the list went on!

With both things I convinced myself they’d get better with time; and they both did. But in the meantime I judged myself- lots

I also had the return of my rheumatoid arthritis to deal with. Throughout pregnancy my condition went into expected remission- and I experience 9 wonderful months pain free. I actually felt more healthy when pregnant than I had for a few years prior to this. I struggled to deal with the pain and stiffness, on top of being a tired new mum.

I returned to work when Dorothea was 9 months- initially part time (using my holiday allowance to wean myself back on). I enjoyed this- felt it was a great balance! I loved being at work 2 days a week- I felt it gave me great purpose and helped me feel like a contributing adult again(being on Matty leave and heavily reliant on your partners wage makes you feel pretty shitty too). But it also made me realise and appreciate how much I loved being a mum! I missed my little lady when at work and always couldn’t wait to see her at the end of the day!

Three weeks after my return to work a tragedy struck; my friend and boss died suddenly! A major shock; a 31 week pregnant healthy mum to be, amazingly her angel daughter survived this. Obviously this was a emotional time; personally and also career wise. This meant increased pressure on me at work; both emotionally and workload wise, and I’d lost a friend and my biggest career cheerleader. Emma had great belief in me; and always supported me- she was a fabulous boss and made going to work much easier! This also made me look at life differently, as these things always do, wanting to live life to the fullest as you never know when that life can be taken.

When Dorothea was 15 months old I made the difficult decision to stop breastfeeding. Difficult; as I truly believe breast is best, and after my body failing me with infertility I actually felt feeding was something my body had succeeded with. But my body was failing me in other ways- my rheumatoid has returned with vengeance, and I felt my ability to be a ‘good mum’ was being affected. I therefore had to start on some new medications- medications that were not safe to breastfeed in. Again- this made me feel pretty shitty!

Let’s be honest at times I was bloody exhausted; Dorothea has never been a good sleeper, and pretty much woke 2 hourly until she was about 1. Even now ‘sleeping through’ is rare- and when it happens my body doesn’t adjust and I wake up anyway!

So to sum that all up! I struggled; I’m still struggling. I felt an enormous amount of pressure, that in reality I really only created myself. I judged myself, I felt inferior, I didn’t feel myself, I felt lost, I felt isolated, and I felt anxious.

It all came to a head last summer when myself and my partner (now husband) we’re having relationship difficulties. We were both having difficulties- and instead of opening up with each other and helping each other we fought. During one of the many arguments I admitted I was struggling.

I felt sad, not a bit down, but inherently sad and anxious everyday. And my biggest feeling was GUILT! I felt guilty, that although I finally had the family (and an awesome career) I’d always wanted, that I still felt sad. I knew I wasn’t right. So off I trotted to the GP (although in practise it felt a major accomplishment to admit I needed help- so not a ‘trot’ at all).

I’ve now been on antidepressants since August- upped doses and a drug change. I’m feeling better, I’m feeling okay, but still not feeling back to being ‘me’. And that’s okay- I’m still on a journey.

So the point of this blog? Quite selfish, a little therapeutic for me, helpful for me to get it on my head and on paper. But hopefully a message for you too- it’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to admit you’re struggling, it’s good to ask for help, and it’s necessary to be honest with yourself and your support network.

TALK, ask for help don’t see it as a weakness but a strength.

Family time

National Trust

Yes I admit it we are national trust geeks. I don’t know anything else you can pay £100 a year for and have so many fab days out.

Here are some of our favourites- with pics of course.

Trelissick is probably our number one. It has a little bit of everything. It’s always on our ‘must go to’ list when we head to Cornwall; which is at least twice a year- and even though we’ve been about 6 times now we still want to revisit.

Trelissick Gardens- Cornwall

Stunning gardens, gorgeous house (especially at Christmas), beautiful views, massive trees, fragrant flowers and bugs to search for!

One side of the estate you have a glorious view out to Falmouth; if you’re really lucky you may have the little wooden folly all to yourself to admire the view. The wide open grassy areas mean there’s enough space to create your own picnic area and sun spot, but still be close enough to other families to make new friends.

A very close second place- bonus points for us as it’s within an hour of home. This estate is huge with a massive variety of things to see and do.

This one is perfect for families with little ones; as they have an awesome farm and play area. But grandparents won’t feel left out with the stunning country house and impeccably kept gardens.

Plenty of picnic areas- and a shady garden with deck chairs to sip a cold wine while the kids make new friends and run around in the trees.

There’s loads of areas suitable for cute photo opportunities; wagons, beautifully painted benches, expertly symmetrical topiary and shady woodlands full of places to explore.

Another one down in Cornwall. A beautiful castle on an island. The novelty is that it’s a tidal island; get there at the right time and you can wander across (but hurry otherwise you may be paddling), it was also fun for Dorothea to experience the short boat ride home.

This tea room is quaint with beamed ceilings and unbeatable views, the two shops are also a great browse.

The trek up to the castle is not for the faint hearted (they provide hip carriers to help with the little ones)- and probably wouldn’t suit anyone with any degree of mobility issues. But if you can get up there the castle is certainly worth a look!

If you can’t the gardens and small hamlet are pretty special to wander round. The little town of Marazion is also worth hanging around for; some pleasant independent shops and a nice play area and beach too.

Do be aware; this is one where you have to pay extra for parking.

Who can resist a national trust property with an epic maze!!!!

This one is perfect for sunny photo opportunities; and would also keep the kids busy.

This one made me feel like we’d been magically transported to a tropical country- the whole place was like a sun laden playground for the most awesome plants and flowers.

Again this one is in Cornwall; but surely all these spectacular recommendations must make you want to visit the best southern county!

Almost didn’t want to tell you about this one!

We just want to keep it to ourselves; the most glorious, picturesque and isolated beach. We’ve been lucky enough to have it all to ourselves.

Again this one is like being transported to a different country. Here we were making sand castles, splashing and stripping down to T-shirt’s in December!

The waves and rocks are amazing for the little ones to see. Rock-pools are to be explored, sandcastles to be built and pebbles to be skimmed.

Just above this beach hidden in the rocks is the infamous Minnack theatre- so Porthcurnoe is a cool place for a pre theatre picnic! (Or swim in the Summer)

Also called ‘church cove’- this ones quite a drive out in the sticks but certainly worth it. Another gloriously isolated beach and church.

This area seems to be bustling with wildlife; and there were plenty of birds for Dorothea to admire.

A lovely little stream runs down to the water. We loved donning our wellies, having a good splash and practising our pebble skimming.

There’s no facilities; so pack a picnic (or cream cake and flask of tea) and sit for a little while.

Back near home now. We were lucky enough to find this one by accident at Halloween!

The great thing about national trusts, is that the soon familiar leaf symbol pops up on all the road signs, and gives you a great few hours that you were not expecting!

Calke Abbey tends to have quite a lot of food fairs, which adds a little bit to your day out. The drive through the estate to the house is impressive- and must be at least a mile long!

The gardens here are awesome; we were so impressed by the Halloween pumpkin display- and again there’s lots of spacious picnic areas, and great big trees to play hide and seek.

Stowe is one of the most impressive of the national trusts! The architecture is outstanding and the grounds are huge.

The massive archways as you approach set the scene well, for what is about to follow.

This is certainly one you could spend the whole day at. Wandering around eager to see the next impressive monument or statue would impress anyone. Again great for picnics, picking daisies and off course making wishes by throwing pennies in the water.

We’ve only been here once- but it’s stayed in our memories. A beautiful but very long and wising walk down to a stunning country house and pretty gardens.

Yes another in Cornwall! I know, we are slightly obsessed!

Now there’s very little at Lizard point! But the trip is worth it for the epic views and the isolated chance of seeing seals in the wild!

Just look at the colour of the water!- yes it’s in England!

There’s a cool little shop that sells, earrings, socks and glassworks too!

Well I hope these ten have given you something to think about. What else can you get for a tenner a month???

We are long-standing national trust geeks and proud! So I will be showing you more- as there’s loads of our favourites to explore more and photograph.

NT web

There’s a fab app too!

Eco Mum, Guest Blogs, Other fabulous ladies

5 eco-swaps for parents- Guest blog

Whether you are a first time Mummy or Daddy or are experiencing parenthood for the second or third time, looking after a baby is all consuming and whilst it is a magical time, caring for a newborn can also be exhausting! However, you can still be your best eco self whilst caring for small children, it just takes a little thought and planning. Anything you can do to cut back on plastic usage and overall waste is better than before and models the way for the next generation!

Not sure where to begin?

Here are my top 5 eco swaps for new parents.

1 .Toys, Clothes and Baby Equipment 

I would personally find it impossible to cut out all plastic toys from my children’s lives! On the other hand, cheap plastic tat is simply a waste of money as it ends up breaking and being thrown away, where it then ends up in landfill. I dread to think how much plastic landfill waste is made up of discarded toys. To reduce your plastic toy footprint, there are a few things you can do:

-Make a list for family and friends when it’s birthday time. On it include wooden toys, gift vouchers, experiences and money for the children’s piggy banks. One of my 5-year old daughter’s most prized possessions is a fabric sparkly sequin bag she asked for last Christmas. It has had so much more use than some of the plastic toys she was gifted.

Shop preloved– my 3-year old son absolutely loves our local charity shop! (And so do I!)

Opt for wooden toys. We have lots of wooden toys from push alongs, building blocks and drums to our much loved wooden play kitchen. We also have a handmade mud kitchen in the garden which my Dad and husband put together one weekend out of old pallets. Check out Pinterest for ideas! (Note: they are not builders and it looks fantastic!) Once you use your imagination, the sky is the limit!

For clothes and equipment, check out Ebay, local Facebook selling sites, charity shops, and nearly new sales. All offer excellent quality second hand items. If friends and family members offer you hand me downs, take them and say thank you! Babies grow at an extraordinary rate, so are in their clothes for approx 3 months before they outgrow them. This means that second hand items are almost always nearly new and will have plenty of life left in them. You can buy baby bundles for a few pounds on Ebay. When you are finished with them, sell them on or donate to charity. 

Equipment-wise, you can pick up buggies, Moses baskets and play mats all second hand, which will do just as good a job as brand new items. (Note: If buying second hand cots or Moses baskets, it’s worth buying your own new mattresses.) If you are having a baby shower, why not ask for handmade gifts, bunting for the nursery, money or vouchers for a pre-baby spa day!

2. Bathroom productsBathrooms can be absolutely full of unnecessary plastic bottles. Mine used to be, but with a few tweaks, we have cut back on loads of plastic waste. Instead of bottles of children’s bubble bath, we swapped to bubble wands from http://www.lush.com.

They last ages and smell fantastic! To my children’s delight, we also swapped out liquid soap in a plastic bottle to a chocolate flavour shampoo bar by Lamazuna. We also got rid of our plastic sponges and swapped to linen and cotton versions. Shampoo bars and sponges are available at: http://www.plasticconsciousmama.co.uk/shop.                                

3. Drink bottles and Cups

 

We never leave the house without Mummy’s reusable coffee cup or the children’s metal water bottles from http://www.kleankanteen.co.uk. As they are metal, they are more sustainable than plastic and do not contain any of the nasty BPAs found in plastic alternatives. We also try to sit down rather than take out at cafes so we can have drinks in reusable cups. Don’t get me wrong, my children love a plastic bottle of juice as much as the next child, but it’s all about reducing consumption wherever possible. The amount of disposable coffee cups I have saved from landfill since starting my plastic conscious journey is amazing!

4. Nappies and wipes

This is perhaps the most obvious one, and the one people seem to struggle with the most. I didn’t switch to reusable nappies until the birth of my third baby, but I really wish I had swapped sooner! 8 million disposable nappies are sent to UK landfill EVERY DAY. 8 million! With each nappy taking an eye watering 400-500 years to break down, it’s never been a better time to make the switch to cloth nappies.

People always ask me whether or not washing reusable nappies is eco-friendly because of all the water, the short answer is yes! The process of making disposables uses an astronomical amount of water – according to Baba and Boo, washing three loads of nappies a week uses about 200 litres of water whereas manufacturing enough single-use nappies for a week uses 1,550 litres.

Cloth nappies really aren’t that scary to switch to. Once you have your stash of nappies (around 15-20), washing them just becomes a part of your normal routine. My advice is to start small, why not trial cloth nappies before making a permanent commitment, or agree to use them during the day until they become more familiar? Many councils offer money off or free nappy schemes. Why? Because it is in their interest to reduce waste, particularly the smelly nappy kind! There are lots of nappy libraries and preloved groups on Facebook. I would definitely recommend giving them a try before you dismiss the idea of trialling cloth nappies. Like me, you may surprise yourself!

One of my most favourite swaps was to ditch disposable wipes for washable cloth wipes. I cannot emphasise enough how much I love this swap, mainly because I was SO sceptical about it to begin with. After a few of my friends telling me how much nicer cloth wipes were I dubiously decided to make the leap myself and have never looked back. I had to try them to believe them!

To get set up. I spent just under £40 on an all in one kit from http://www.cheekywipes.com. The kits have everything you need to get started – 25 wipes, 2 containers (for clean and mucky wipes), essential oil and 2 out and about wet bags for wipe storage (clean and mucky.) The system makes it so easy and you will soon discover that you use far less cloth wipes than disposables – yes even for messy poos! Each day, I pop used wipes in the wash with my usual load of washing. If there are poo wipes, you can either give them a rinse under the tap first or save them up in a mesh bag and do a special nappy and wipe wash. I like to wash my soiled cloth wipes at 60 degrees, but 40 also does the trick if they have just been used for sticky hands and faces.

If this swap seems unrealistic, why not do it in stages, first transition with one pack of back-up disposables alongside your cloth wipes until you are ready for a complete switch. If you need any further convincing, why not calculate how much you spend on disposable wipes in one year? £3 per week adds up to £156 a year – a lot more than £40!

5. Host Eco-Friendly Birthday Parties

Children’s birthday parties can create a ridiculous amount of unnecessary plastic waste. Plastic cups, plates and cutlery can all be easily swapped for paper and wooden versions. Cheap paper bags can also be bought online to replace plastic loot party bags. Sustainable wooden party bag fillers can also be found online. Even better, than party bags, why not buy a pack of books to divvy up?

When choosing sweets, think about those that come in cardboard tubes or boxes rather than plastic bags. All these swaps are eco-friendly, easily recyclable as well as being cost effective.

It’s also worth investigating whether or not there are companies who offer eco-friendly parties in your area. In Hertfordshire, you can hire reusable plastic cups and plates from The Little Green Party Company (check them out on Instagram.) They deliver to your door and take away all the dirty plates afterwards. Zero waste and super easy!

 

 

Eco-parenting needn’t be much different from any other kind of parenting. With just a few mindful swaps, you could save yourself money whilst helping the planet at the same time. One of my favourite quotes goes something along the lines of:

“The world needs lots of people making a few swaps, rather than a few people making lots of swaps.”

It’s far better to work your way up to something that will last and become a habit rather than setting yourself unrealistic expectations. My advice is to start small, make swaps where you can, one at a time and be kind to yourself. Aim to be better than before and just keep going! We can all make a difference if we try.

For more eco advice, tips and ideas check out my blog and plastic-free online shop

www.plasticconsciousmama.co.uk.

You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Eco Mum, Guest Blogs, Other fabulous ladies

Plastic no so fantastic- guest blog.

Why should we care about reducing our plastic waste?


If, like me, you’re a parent with children under 10 – by the time your kids are in their 30’s the oceans will contain more plastic by weight than fish.  Shocking eh?  

I like whales and turtles, and I want to make sure that my kids, and theirs too, get to appreciate beautiful sea-life but more than that – I’m pretty scared about the mess that my generation will be leaving behind.  We’re using up, and throwing away valuable resources like crude oil, with total disregard for the fact that they are finite.  We’re buying one million single use plastic bottles every minute of every day and they’re not all being recycled. Less than 10% will be recycled and that’s a fact!

We’re also consuming plastic – they’ve found traces of it in our poo 💩 and that can’t be good can it?! 


So, what can we do to reduce the amount of plastic we’re using (and throwing away)?  We all carry our own shopping bags now – right?!  Here are a few more easy swaps: some wonderful things that I honestly wouldn’t be without. 


Washable wipes: We’ve used them for almost six years now for faces, little bottoms, hands and countless other emergency wiping situations.  There are loads of great options out there for different budgets. Cheeky Wipes and Alva are both great. Not only are the disposable wipes wrapped in plastic, but I’m yet to come across a brand which is truly biodegradable. Once you’ve used cloth wipes you won’t look back!


Reusable water bottle: Forget spending your hard-earned money on single use plastic water bottles.  Instead, spend around £15 on a reusable. I love One Green Bottle or Kleen Kanteen and there are great options for kids too.  Stainless steel keeps your water tasting fresh and, if you’re partial to a cold drink then there are options for you too. 


Snack pouches:  My eldest rates her day based on the quality of the after school snack I bring her – I daren’t disappoint!  I use her Fluf snack bag every day to carry snacks to school.  Sometimes it’s a peeled and segmented orange which she can easily gobble as we walk home, a handful of nuts and raisins, popcorn or a cold sausage – whatever I manage to throw in as I leave the house.  These bags save me from using plastic bags. They wipe clean easily and take up no space at all when snack time is over. ( these pouches are even made locally)


Finally, try to choose wooden toys, buy pre-loved and avoid plastic tat.  Hard plastics used to make toys are among the most difficult to recycle. Many local councils don’t actually recycle them at all so they go to landfill or for incineration.  If you must buy new, try going for (sustainable) wooden toys – like Tender Leaf, Bigjigs or Lanka Kade.  Many of the toys we use are pre-loved and we actually buy very little for the kids on birthdays and Christmas. 


If you’re a Harbs local and want to learn more about how to reduce waste, pop along to see me for a chat.  Refill Revolution is in the Indoor Market on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. 

Beth 
Copyright © 2018 Refill Revolution 
Eco Mum, Weaning

Veggies – eat more, waste less

In the U.K. we waste so much food- most of it fruit and veg which has ‘gone out of date’- but really??? Has it???

Think before you throw- droopy celery can be perked up by trimming and putting in water (carrots too), cut squashy bits of of bruised fruit and veg, freeze things before they ruin.

Veggies in fruit can be thrown into so many recipes- pancakes, cakes, frittatas, savoury muffins, casseroles, curries and more……

You loved my last weaning recipes. So here’s some more that I made up when D was small; we’re veggie, but they can be adapted to your own diet.

Batch cooking should be quick, simple and cheap.

Give these a try.

Beetroot and goats cheese muffins

1 cup sr flour

2 eggs

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup milk

1 large coated beet

1/3 wheel of goats cheese

Mix flour, eggs, butter, milk into smooth mixture. Grate in beetroot, add chopped goats cheese- mix and put into mini muffin tin

Bake 180 for 15-20 mins

Butternut and chickpea ‘burgers’

1/2 large butternut

1 tin of chick peas

3/4 cup of milled flaxseed

3 teaspoons herbs

1 teaspoon turmeric

For coating

1/2 cup milled flaxseed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Mash together the chickpeas with the cooked butternut( boiled or roasted is fine) mix in herbs, flaxseed and tumeric. Shape into small burgers then coat in the ‘crumb’

Bakes at 180 for 25 mins turning once ( can freeze)

Asparagus and butternut frittata fingers

50g chopped asparagus

125g butternut squash ( I used spiralised as was what I had in the fridge- but you don’t have too)

5 eggs

25g cheese

2 teaspoons mixed herbs

Pre cook the veggies- microwave is fine- then lay out in a silicone baking square.

( any veg could be used- whatever you have in- frozen peas and sweet corn work well)

Pour over the eggs/herbs mix. Top with grated cheese. Bake at 180 for 20 mins or until cheese is browning

These were some of Dorothea’s favourites and she still enjoys them now. They’re a great way of getting veggies and other healthy ingredients into picky babies and toddlers.

Life of a Mum

Just like Daddy!

Seeing Dorothea with her Daddy is awesome; they have the best time. It’s all tickles, farts, hide and seek and raspberry blowing!

They are very alike; Dorothea seems to reflect her Daddy’s looks more than mine- the piercing blue eyes, the delicate nose and the cute butt!

She’s also very similar in personality. Loving and sensitive, but also impatient and stubborn!

If she wants something she wants it- she won’t accept no for an answer; much like Daddy- I’m sure this will become even more obvious as her vocabulary improves.

She’s creative and bright like Daddy, she also doesn’t talk much 😂😂😂 Daddy is the silent strong type and D seems to be the same.

She grumpy when hungry and tired- something that both Daddy and Mummy are guilt of too!

Like, I’m guessing most families; Daddy is the fun one and I’m the strict one! Daddy does all the silly stuff, the mess making. Mummy is the one that tries to insist she tidys it up!

Dorothea is cheeky (I think Daddy is too) always has a sneaky way of getting their way, mostly without you even realising you’ve let them get away with it!

Like Daddy, D seems very sensitive to others feelings- already shows sympathy and kindness when others are sad. She’s a sensitive little lady, and likes to give attention to others as well as receive it when she’s sad.

How is she like me????

Well she eats anything and everything!!!

She likes to laugh and be silly.

She has ‘those looks’ that say a million words- I’m sure she’s soon develop Mummies infamous eye roll, she already has an epic side eye!!!

She’s a good sharer; will happily share her toys and is kind to others.

I’m excited to see how’s these traits and her fun personality develops further.

Life of a Mum

10 year challenge- my version

f6f725b3-1ddb-4c26-98f4-192a824804efThis was me in 2009. 27, married, great job, homeowner – but happy????? ( weirdly the two fringes in my life are ten years apart too!)

Well I certainly look it in all my pictures from that time; but I was a very good actress I think.

I don’t know whether it was immaturity, or thinking I couldn’t do any better or that was just what married life was like. I married quick and young– engaged after 12 weeks and married at 23 after 18 months today. It feel ridiculous to write this down and admit it; but on my wedding day I knew I was doing the wrong thing. Weirdly en route to the church my Dad questioned whether it was what I really wanted and offered to fly me away! Looking back, I’m not sure what made me go ahead.

It’s difficult to put into words what was wrong; but the simple fact it I knew something was very wrong for the majority of that relationship. Being with someone that puts you down frequently is soul destroying, and makes you lose self confidence day by day. Being told I was fat- I wasn’t, insinuations that I wasn’t a ‘good wife’ if I didn’t do exactly as he wanted or agree with his opinions- but I always tried to be kind and honest.

Madness looking back! I always wanted a family- and he told me he did too; but ‘just not yet’ was used for years. Until he wanted something- a bigger car; ‘oh we can get this car and then start a family’ , a ‘lads holiday’ always because- well it could be the last before we had a family!!! Well there were lots of lads holidays, and lots of cars, but I can’t really remember fulfilling many of my wants during those years.

I’m not sure why I put up with that sort of ‘relationship’ for so many years (nearly 7) – why I put up with the flirty behaviour, the lies, the verbal abuse, the criticism and the isolation.

What I do know is when the relationship ended- the feeling I had was surprising! It was a feeling of relief, I instantly felt like me again, happier and more free. I struggled in the months following the break up; felt like a failure, after all the way I was brought up you were married for life. I questioned my decision, I often felt alone, I felt depressed. I developed a (possibly unhealthy) gym habit, strangely mixed with drinking a little too much – and I needed antidepressants for a while. I really felt they helped- and would never regret taking them, or feel ashamed to admit that.

I learnt a lot about myself in those two ‘single years’ – I became confident and ambitious, I stuck up for myself more, and decided I wouldn’t stand for any crap!

I started internet dating; decided on a ridiculously rigid set of credentials that I was looking for in a man. My friends found it amusing that I set these silly standards, and thought I should be more relaxed. But it worked- one dull nightshift was brightened by a message from my, now husband!!!

So for the 10 year challenge! A lot has changed in 10 years for me– I’ve certainly grown up, been through a load of ups and downs. A marriage breakup- moved house and jobs several times, dealt with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, been through the struggle of infertility.

On the positive side I’ve met my husband, had a baby girl and found a completely different, new and happy life for me, for us, our family.

Don’t get me wrong; life is not a fairytale, we have our ups and downs, parenting is challenging, Work is stressful and every successful relationship takes a lot of hard work. If you follow me on insta, you’ll know I have a no bullshit approach to life, and how I share it on social media.

I’m far from perfect; I’m still often screwy from my previous experiences, sometimes build my walls up, get defensive and cold to protect myself. Often I need to give myself a bloody good talking too….. often my other half gives me a bloody good talking to also!

So my ten year challenge; this is me.

Certainly more wrinkles, I’ve also recently found my first grey hairs, my body isn’t as tight and toned as it was, I look my age- but frankly I don’t really care about any of that. Looks are not what really matters…..

I am a Mum- what I count as one of my greatest achievements; especially after going through fertility treatment. I am truly happy, content and honest in my relationship.

My lovely husband can be a total pain in the ass; is impatient, unsociable and gets terribly ‘hangry’ – but the good bits make the bad bits worth it. I still get ‘that look’, get told I’m sexy when my undies aren’t matching and I haven’t shaved my legs for weeks (and I believe him), get told I’m a fab mum and I truly feel loved.

I’m especially grateful that like me, his wish was to have a family, and a simple family life- something that was dangled in front of me like a metaphorical carrot for so many years.

So not much of a ‘challenge’ for me……. much happier with the 2019 me; bring on the next ten years!

Life of a Mum

Head sniffing weirdo!

Mums are weird, fact! I often find myself sniffing Dorotheas head at 2am- enjoying her unique stinky baby smell. I’m sure it’s a mix of delicious things; sherbet smelling Boep shampoo (a German brand which you really must try https://dasboep.de/?lang=en )a mix of fragrances from her cuddlers that day, yogurt/ porridge/ fruit she’s decided to use as a hair mask and her own brand of yumminess.

I’m sure most mums are secret ‘sniffers’ – or have other guilty pleasures related to the overwhelming love that motherhood causes.

I will also admit I love the ‘wee hours’ cuddles- as much as I’m a sleep deprived zombie, with a brain functioning at 22% and a blood stream mainly consisting of coffee! There’s something special about those dopey snuggles- especially from a toddler who is become increasingly independent and won’t sit on Mummy’s knee anymore. Although I’m craving the feeling a full nights sleep would bring- I’m sure I’d also miss those moments.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get bored of washing, folding and putting away tiny clothes. As much as washing sucks ( and no I don’t iron, a skill which my husband cannot believe I don’t possess) and seems a never ending story of sorting, washing, drying, folding, putting away etc. – there’s something different about it when it comes to baby clothes.

I remember very clearly being about 34 weeks pregnant; feeling the intense joy of seeing a clothes drier full or tiny pink and white items. After waiting years to becoming a mum, thinking it would never happen due to infertility and a failed IVF cycle- this washing load felt like a truly special milestone. One of the moments I felt I really became a mother.

The intense love being a mum is immeasurable; looking at your child and thinking they’re literally the best thing in the whole world. There’s something quite narcissistic about it; looking a creation from both yourself and the one you love most and thinking it’s the most glorious thing ever! Being a Mum is truly knackering, totally overwhelming but also the best job in the world.

Dads are weirdos too- they generate pleasure from farts, toe fluff and nose picking! …… but that’s a whole different story

Life of a Mum

Sleep… what’s that???

Most people talk about lack of sleep in parenthood related to having a new born. Believe me that was nothing!

At least when Dorothea woke as a new born she wanted milk and would go back to sleep. Plus when she was tiny my hormones seemed to support my needs, and I was off work so could wear pjs and not brush my hair all day.

Although at 22 months she has slept through the night; it is not a regular occurrence. I want routine, stability and most of all sleep!

So many things seem to affect her sleep routine; we blame holidays, illness, late nights, jabs, too much sugar, growth spurts and being overstimulated. It seems so hard to maintain the right routine to help her sleep, but to be honest I think there’s no simple answer!

To be fair this blog is very ranty as I have not slept for two week! Two weeks! It’s ridiculous- and I have to hold down a job as a responsible human. Most days I’m staring into space, trying not to dribble, making horrendously long to do lists that I don’t have the energy (or mental capacity) to complete.

Last week Dorothea was Ill, the copious amount of snot she was producing was regularly waking her from sleep, and her rattling cough was keeping us awake too. This meant frequent wake ups which she needed settling after- and this meant she spent 5 nights in bed with me after midnight.

Cue Friday- she slept through! But I didn’t as was so used to being awake at regular intervals.

Then on Sunday she mastered the art of climbing out of her cot; rumbling the whole house (and making Mummy and Daddy shit themselves). So Sunday night was the first night of ‘big girl bed’. It’s fair to say it has not gone well since!!! (My eye bags support this)

So after nights punctuated with cries of ‘mama’, random 2am requests to stroke the dog, a bizarre amount of 4am yogurt eating- I am now beyond tired! I never thought I could fit on a cot bed with a toddler, a doll and 15 teddies but I can (and it bloody hurts!- my neck and back are in bits).

Yesterday brought a new idea 💡a bed guard- we thought this may help- it didn’t!

Please send coffee- I’ll post our future sleep deprived adventures. Zzzzz

Life of a Mum

Birth Story

This is my very honest account of Dorothea’s birth story.

My induction of labour was planned for the Friday of my due date; this was due to being classed a ‘high risk’ pregnancy due to many issues ( IVF pregnancy, family history of maternal hypertension, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis). Although realistically I was a ‘fit and healthy’ but slightly older Mum to be.

The first Induction pessary was given at 11.30 on the Friday and at this point I was 1cm dilated with a soft cervix!

There wasn’t much movement during the day; lots of walking the corridors, visiting the coffee shop and colouring in books. I must say I didn’t realise how bloody boring induction could be! I really expected things to happen more quickly. There were several other women in the hospital bay with me and in the same boat; which helped.

Some mild practise contractions started in the evening; like mild tummy cramps that gripped the whole of my lower abdomen. Luckily I made a friend, ‘Katie’, in the next bed – who was on her fourth baby – being induced due to lower water levels; it was nice to share a chat and bounce on gym balls together. Katie was a great help reassuring me when my contractions started shortly afterwards.( Katie still hadn’t given birth when I left hospital 4 days later! Poor thing)

A lady in a nearby room was having a very very noisy labour (think stereotypical screaming!)so sleep was a stranger; and anxiety was increasing.

At midnight contractions started coming thick and fast (well I thought so at the time!), every two minutes lasting for a minute each, meaning very little break. The ‘kind’ midwife suggested some pain relief- I had some paracetamol and codeine for this which helped slightly (it was still fecking painful).

I never managed to relax, or be pain free enough to sleep at all; at 4am the contraction pain was really ramping up. The midwife offered more pain relief and suggested a warm bath. Yes a warm bath!!! (For fucks sake)

So I followed her advise and reclined in the hospital bath with a nice smelly bath bomb – THIS DID NOT HELP – I remember lying in the bath moaning and groaning, saying “oh my god, oh my god” and “ouch this hurts” over and over- yes I was that woman! I felt like I’d lost the bloody plot- felt like an animal wailing and groaning with every gripping pain. Fair dos do the ladies who do it sans analgesia- I really have no clue how that’s even survivable.

At 5am the contractions were very painful – I mean VERY painful – I couldn’t control my loud moans and the pain relief was doing nothing! The midwife examined me and broke my waters (at 3cm dilated)- honestly it was the weirdest feeling in the world- but the contractions felt less ‘pressured’ afterwards. She then moved me to a delivery room where I started using gas and air. Worringly the waters were slightly bloodied.

My partner was called in when I was settled in the delivery room – I think he was shocked that I went from calm, cheerful and happy at 23.30 to a deranged crazy shouty woman by 06.30! (Although this was maybe exacerbated by him saying she was ‘just’ going to get a shower, and grab a coffee first!)

At 8am contractions were very intense; they examined me again and found I was only 3-4cm- I felt like I’d gone through so much pain to get nowhere! It was at this point I requested an epidural (something I was quite determined not to have during pregnancy – for no other reason than fear!) this was the best decision I’d made!

I then had a nice relaxed morning/ afternoon and managed some naps- my partner and mum were present- mainly watching rugby and feeding me mints (I wasn’t allowed to eat- but was very hungry).

I was still regularly getting strong contractions two mins apart still (only felt as mild tightenings due to epidural). My cervix was showing little progression so I was started in a syntocin drip to speed up labour.

Unfortunately, Little Miss had decelerations of heart rate (to 80-100bpm) when I was sitting/ lying on bottom/back – so whole of labour I had to be on my sides – this was very uncomfortable and gave me hip pain (something I suffer with anyway due to rheumatoid arthritis).

In the evening I started to show signs of sepsis – a high temperature, heart rate and breathing rate, although I felt okay; I was started on antibiotics and told I would have to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours. I was really disappointed by this as wanted to get home with my baby ASAP.

I reached fully dilated at about 10pm and by this point Dorothea was having increased heart rate decelerations so was told to be prepared for a c-section! They decided to give an hour for the head to descend and at 11pm request I started pushing in the hope of delivering vaginally.

The joy of the epidural I had was that it was a ‘mobile epidural’ so was actually able to move onto all fours etc to push which really helped – it was due to this I was able to have the birth I wanted.

I was told I was doing really well pushing, but Little Miss dropped her heart rate to 85, so the drs were called in to assist (by called in I mean an emergency bell was sounded and my room suddenly filled with a whole team of people) I was told we had 3-4 contractions to move her or would have to have a c-section – I was super determined not to go to theatre!

We managed to get her out with the Drs assistance with a kiwi (suction cup device) and an episiotomy (also tore a little). I must say the pushing and actual birth was nowhere near as bad as I’d imagined – although the epidural must have helped loads! The pushing part went so quickly and afterwards I couldn’t believe it was 65 minutes.

During the end stage of labour I was told that I would be unlikely to be able to hold the baby as due to decelerations she was going to be tired and would be whisked away! Fortunately this didn’t happen- she came out screaming and was put on me immediately.

It took about 35 minutes to stitch me up, but to be honest, at this point I was breast feeding my daughter so really didn’t care.

My partner got to cut the cord (we had delayed cord clamping) and we both had skin to skin for the first hour. She fed within a couple of minutes; I was shocked at how simply she latched on.

My estimated blood loss was 600mls, but my partner said it looked like a horrifically gory horror movie – I guess we women don’t see the worst of it.

I was told afterwards that her cord gas showed her oxygen levels were really dropping and that we’d got her out just in time. Also my placenta was quite ‘gritty’ according to the midwife. I was so relieved that I didn’t go too far overdue as this is a first sign of deterioration.

Top tip from me? Don’t be brave – take the epidural!

I would never have been able to push her out if it wasn’t for the rest the epidural allowed me to have in the afternoon.

Also, try not to worry; your body does so much naturally and you don’t remember the bad bits afterwards! ( I know everyone says that- but honestly; it was the most excruciatingly painful experience of my life- but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again).

Our IVF fund

Milk, weaning and more

Got milk???

Breastfeeding, I could write all day about this….. (and will share my personal experiences and controversial opinions soon) but for now I will make just a few points…..

The UK has the actual lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, 81% of babies are breastfed immediately after birth, which drops to 24% of babies that are exclusively breastfed (this means no formula) at 6 weeks and then a scary 1% that are still exclusively breastfed at 6 months.

In Scandinavia, 98% of women breastfeed immediately after birth and 80% are still exclusively feeding at 6 months.

In a current UK survey, a greater percentage of people said it was more acceptable to breastfeed a baby in a public toilet rather than at a restaurant table!!!!

You’re also not allowed to breastfeed in many areas of the Houses of Parliament, WTF? Yes, I can blame the government for this too, they cut the support and keep it something that mothers shouldn’t do while they’re working for whatever unacceptable reasons they have.

It is a perfectly natural and normal thing; and it should be encouraged and supported! My journey wasn’t easy- 3 weeks of pain, baby losing weight, reflux, pumping routine, returning to work; and then eventually have to wean off as I had to start disease modifying drugs that are not safe for breastfeeding.

It takes more than the mother, it takes the baby, the partner and the surrounding family and friends that make it possible. I’ve been lucky to have such support around me, most of the population of UK aren’t as fortunate. Hopefully this will change soon.

So next time you see a breastfeeding Mum encourage her, praise her, grab her a coffee or cake ☕️ 🍰 anything that makes her feel more comfortable 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻