WHY WE WON’T BE HAVING ANY MORE BABIES

Why We Won’t Be Having Any More Babies

Our beautiful daughter Eden turned 2 last Thursday.  I can’t believe it, 2 years old.  The time has flown and dragged all at the same time.  She was the most peaceful and teeny baby for so long, she would always look at me with so much expression, I used to think there were times she was mocking me, but would dismiss it as she was tiny.  She still pulls those faces now but she can also back them up with her words.  She really does mock me sometimes, she has such an amazing sense of humour.  So much personality in one so tiny.

Eden turned 2 last Thursday and I still weigh a crazy amount more than before I got pregnant with her.  I still struggle to walk and have a very weak body.  My emotional state has NEVER been what it was before we conceived her.  It has been 2 years and I am so over feeling broken.

This baby has brought so much joy into my life.  They all do, but the effect going from 3 to 4 had in my life was absolutely crazy.  Maybe, it was having 2 toddlers, maybe it was because I had to be Mum to 2 older girls as well as having 2 toddlers that I was learning how to Mother full-time.  Who knows, but I have felt like a failure most of the time since we had Eden.  When we had Judah and the girls I felt like Super Mum.  We constantly had people round at our home, our home was always tidy (massively so compared to how it is now), I would cook meals fresh every evening, I would go to the gym at 6 o’clock in the morning, I would attend Zumba class, I would take 3 non-swimmers swimming each week, and taught 2 of them to swim (Judah was still tiny).  I would manage a 40 minute each way school run in all weathers to collect the girls on the school days that we had them (Thursdays and Fridays), I learned to drive a car.  I taught singing lessons from my home.  The girls attended ballet, tap and modern every week, partook in shows and exams.

The person that I am now, is a very different one.  I feel like a failure constantly, like everything I do, I can’t do it well.  I’m so thinly spread.  I want to be the best Mum in the world, I want to do arts and crafts, I want to cook them healthy meals, I want to be able to exercise and go out for long walks, I want to be able to provide extra curricular activities.  I want to be able to earn money.  I just seem to fail at EVERYTHING.  I can’t be a good Mum because it all feels too much.  We had an aupair for 5 months and I still couldn’t get on top of things.

Gosh, I sound like such a whinge bag, but I’m just putting this out there for others that may feel the same.  As soon as I became pregnant with Eden I experienced a chemical imbalance.  I was immediately suicidal.  I went straight to the GP as I knew that this was completely irrational, I had never been happier.  They put me on some tablets, and a week later I found out I was pregnant.  Judah was 7 months old.  Of course I came straight off the tablets, and my emotional state was monitored throughout my pregnancy.

I am a terrible pregnant person, I stopped blogging at this point because all I had to say was never anything positive, every single week was a struggle.  I have horrendous hyperemesis gravidarum when I’m pregnant, I couldn’t keep water down at one point and would be constantly at the GP and hospital.  I also, as well as SPD, have hypermobility which displays itself as my not being able to walk when I’m pregnant without my extra lax muscles making my hips come out of joint.  I was on crutches from 9 weeks pregnant with Eden and bed bound before I hit the second trimester.

As the pregnancy drew to an end and my due date came closer I would be worse.  I was at the stage where I couldn’t take myself to the bathroom, James had to do EVERYTHING for me.  I would beg to be induced at every appointment once she was at a safe gestational age.  Something in my sound mind I would strongly object to, but I just wanted her out of me, I wanted to feel normal again and to enjoy this beautiful baby girl that I knew I was carrying, but felt as though would never arrive after spending months in my bed.  I have to say I am a rubbish patient too, the amount of times I would be scrubbing tiles in the shower as I was nesting and refusing to give in to my lack of movement.  I’d sit on my pilates ball and try and move myself around the house to clean, which would result in my tummy muscles tearing even more than usual and my just becoming more and more useless all the time.

After all this, I have to say that I would go through it all again in a heartbeat for another child.  Every single one of our children is the biggest blessing and Eden especially brings so much joy to us.  Maybe it’s because she’s so dinky, maybe it’s because she’s the baby, maybe it’s because she’s so cheeky and always happy.  We don’t have favourites, but she just is, as her name means, a ‘delight’.

Due to the fact that I am horrendous pregnant, we planned a vasectomy for my husband before my pregnancy was over, we knew that if Eden arrived and was happy and healthy in the New Year this was the first thing that James was going to do.  He wanted it too, after experiencing how traumatic my being pregnant was for the whole family.

I see so many friends and especially bloggers at the moment that are pregnant.  It makes me ridiculously broody.  I always wanted 3, James always wanted to have 3 with me.  We wanted 5, I’m one of 5 (2 adopted siblings) so I guess that’s where I’d determined my family size from.  James, well, he would just have as many babies as he could, he LOVES little babies.  He is a very broody Daddy and amazing with newborns.

I look at my life and I see that it would be absolutely ridiculous for us to have another child, and feel grateful that we already made it so that couldn’t happen, as James and I in our impulsive natures would probably have thought, ah, forget it, and conceived another anyway.  Eden is 2 and I still can’t walk properly.  Another pregnancy would probably finish me off (and maybe my marriage haha, just kidding James I know you would amazingly put up with me and survive somehow).

We’ve talked about adopting.  In the future, when Eden is older, about 10 we’d like to adopt a 7 or 8 year old.  A child that they say is past the point of achieving a Forever Home, and we long to give them a forever home.  This hole in our hearts will be filled one day, and I’d love the child to be able to look back here and know that they were extremely planned and wanted by us.

So, anyway, I just wanted to put it out there as we are both extremely broody at the moment, why we won’t be having any more babies.

Please comment if you are in a similar situation, or if like me you are horrendous pregnant.  I always feel like all my friends are like the glowing lady in ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ who can still wear 7 inch heels and strut around looking like a supermodel whilst pregnant with twins.no more babies, hyperemesis gravidarum, baby portrait, 3 week old baby, black and white mother and baby, imeverymum, mummy blogger

World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day

I have a beautiful friend who has been guest posting a couple of times on my blog, she doesn’t have her own blogging platform, but I believe her voice is powerful and she inspires me everytime she encourages me through a private message on facebook, or on email.  She has been writing my ‘Diary of a Working Mum’ series and if you’ve read any you’ll agree, she’s a gifted writer, she also has a beautiful little girl who was born at 29 weeks gestation (31 weeks and 3 days pregnant).  I asked her if she wanted to share anything for ‘World Prematurity Day’ and she has written me an amazing guest post.  Thank you Heather, you are truly one in a million and I know all reading will be blessed, moved, encouraged and inspired after reading this.

I’ve wanted to write this blog piece for so long now but have always chickened out at the last minute, partly because I would not know where to start, but mainly because I am absolutely petrified of re-visiting the memories associated with that time. As I write this, it is exactly 5 years to the day that my premature baby story started.  Nick and I are huge football fans. We both used to be season ticket holders at Bolton Wanderers (Nick still is) but now we have Martha, I don’t get to go as much as I’d like. The season of my pregnancy, we decided to try and go to as many away games as we could so I could soak up the football and have something to occupy my time during the weekends where we’d usually be down at the pub having a boozy afternoon followed by a greasy take-away, neither of which is befitting for a pregnant woman!

On Saturday November 13th we headed off to Wolverhampton to watch Bolton beat Wolves 2-3. It was a brilliant day. I can remember taking a picture of us both in the Concourse at half time, laughing together whilst eating the staple half time Footy Pie. That picture is still on my phone. The next picture I took was of a tiny baby, in an incubator, with a cannula in her hand with wires and tubes attached to her.  On the giddy journey home from Wolverhampton, we both discussed upcoming fixtures, and deliberated how many of them I would be able to realistically go to before the baby arrived. Little did I know that that would be the last game I attended for quite some time. That night, as I slept, my waters broke. I was 30 weeks and 3 days pregnant.

Waking up to a wet bed is not something you would expect a 36 year old to do, but I was pregnant and my pregnancy hadn’t been a smooth one. I had bled on and off throughout and had been in and out of hospital with various different problems. To make matters worse my baby wasn’t very active.  She barely kicked at all, but always had hiccups, something which I found quite reassuring. Upon waking that morning my first thought was ‘I’ve wet the bed. It must be something pregnant women do’ and shared my conclusion with Nick who presumed the same. A couple of hours later Nick and I built a wardrobe (I know, how stupid of me) but I think I was just trying to take my mind off these little trickles that kept seeping out of me. It wasn’t until later on that afternoon as we were walking round Tesco that I finally said ‘Nick, this isn’t right. I’m leaking. I’m going to go to the hospital’. Not wanting to worry him too much nor have us both spend hours in a waiting room at the hospital only to be told everything was fine as had happened many times before, I decided to go on my own, and call Nick as soon as I knew what was going on.

Speaking to the receptionist at the hospital in a blasé manner, I explained what had happened and that I was sure it was nothing to worry about. She had other ideas.  I was ushered straight out of the waiting area and sent into a private room. A doctor was with me within seconds. I had an internal examination and was told I wasn’t going home because my waters had broken. I was immediately given a steroid injection in my bottom to mature the baby’s lungs if its arrival was imminent. I was so very scared. That’s when I phoned Nick. I told him to bring me essentials like pyjamas, toothbrush etc., and to phone my Mum to tell her what had happened. I think I was in shock. I had no idea what any of this meant. I knew that some babies were born prematurely but I didn’t know any of them personally. What was happening? Was my baby going to die?

I was diagnosed with PPROM (Pre-term Premature Rupture of the Membranes). This in laymen’s terms meant that I had a tear in the sac that carried the baby and was leaking amniotic fluid. There was no cause for it; it was just something that happened. I had no other signs of labour, no pain, no gushing of waters, just a slow trickle which only seemed to happen when I stood up. That night I was sent for a scan which revealed that the tear was at the top of the sac – good news as amniotic fluid is reproduced as it is lost and the sac that carried the baby would therefore keep topping itself up as fluid leaked out. I had substantial measureable fluid which was a good thing for the baby, but because of the tear, the baby would be prone to infection, and once infection set in, the baby would have to come out. Fast.

Nick arrived shortly afterwards with the following items; A Terry’s chocolate orange, a football shirt, 2 pairs of highly inappropriate knickers considering my circumstances, and a toothbrush. Bless him; I can just imagine him running around the flat in a blind panic, grabbing anything he could. And so began my bed rest. The best thing I could do for my baby was to stay in hospital and stay horizontal.  No baths, no standing up unless necessary, daily scans, and to just wait. I was on a ward with 7 other women all in risky situations, and I met some amazing women that week. In the bed opposite me was a lady called Carren who had not been feeling her baby kick often. She already knew that the baby had a heart condition. We chatted a lot and are still friends to this day. Her little girl Lagan was born full term and underwent numerous operations on her heart but sadly passed away the Easter of her first year. Carren has since set up Lagan’s Foundation in her honour which gives invaluable support to woman and families of children with heart conditions.

I witnessed some amazing things happen on that ward. One of the girls who had also Pprom-ed re-sealed (something very rare) and was allowed to go home, and another girl announced she felt like she ‘needed a big pooh’ – etiquette flies out the window on a ward full of pregnant women – and came back from the toilet with a screaming baby. There was never a dull moment, or maybe you just observe so much more when you are laid on your back all day and night. I mostly kept myself to myself for the week and kept my curtains closed. I think I just went into survival mode. I ate so much that week, determined that if this baby was coming, I was going to give it the best chance of being healthy and a good weight. And I read loads. I restricted myself to an hour a day of the internet because it was so tempting to try and predict my baby’s chances. My sister brought me one of my favourite books to read as I was growing up – ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’ and I cannot express how much comfort reading it gave me. It transported me back to a place in time where none of this heartache was happening and the escapism was just so lovely. I would get to the end of the book and start again, something which I’ve always done with books (and films) I love.

One of the pieces of advice the nurses gave me was to drink lots of water, which I did in abundance, but one of the down sides to this was how many times I would have to go to the toilet. I had been told that if my situation took a turn for the worse, the first signs would be bleeding, so I became absolutely petrified of going to the toilet in case I found blood on the pad I had to wear for the leaking. I would regularly call the nurses in the middle of the night crying hysterically and asking her to check my pad as I would be convinced there was blood on it. The pad once had tiny strands of lanugo on it (the fine hair that covers a baby’s body and sheds as they develop) and the sight of this upset me so much. I still get freaked out when I visit a public facility with the same toilet paper dispenser in it as the hospital. It’s the little things that can set me off. A few years after Martha was born I got into a lift in a department store and it smelled of the Neo-natal unit and I stood there quietly sobbing at the memory.

Bed rest in the hospital continued with no change until the following Thursday evening. I had only told my close friends what had been happening and had removed myself from Social Media to avoid having to tell anyone. My only visitors were family and my best friend Helen. I didn’t want anyone else there, I just wanted to hide until I’d come out the other side. My Dad used to come and visit me on his lunch hour, but often I would be dozing, so he would quietly stand at the ward door watching me as I slept. That Thursday night, Helen, my Mum and my sister came to visit. I casually mentioned to my Mum that I was getting what felt like period pains and they were happening every 7 minutes.  Just a tightening and nothing too painful. I really don’t know why their existence didn’t alarm me under the circumstances; perhaps I was sub-consciously in denial, as I thought the longer I kept the baby in, the safer the outcome would be. My mum told the nurse and I was monitored over night to see if, what I now knew were contractions, were getting any closer together. Nick came the following morning and we had an emergency scan. Sitting in that scan waiting room with other healthy pregnant mums having their sex scan and coming back into the room cheering and crying tears of happiness was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I literally buried my head in Nick’s chest and cried, hard desperate tears.

The scan revealed that we had little or no measureable fluid left but the doctors wanted to see if they could stop the labour. That night I was put in an isolation unit with a nurse monitoring me through a glass screen like something out of a sci-fi film and given a cocktail of drugs to stop labour.  Nick stayed with me all night as I was too petrified to be on my own. He slept in the chair next to me and I didn’t sleep all night. It was an awful, awful night and I was that tired, I thought I might go mad.  I can remember having this wild look in my eyes through the trauma of it all.  The next morning I sent Nick home. I wanted him to get some proper rest and I wanted him to go to the football that day. I know people will be aghast at that but I was really adamant that he went and had a break. I had the stadium on speed dial and there was nothing any of us could do other than wait to see if the labour stopped. My sister came to take over sitting with me and whilst she was there, it was decided that stopping the labour hadn’t been successful and I needed blue lighting up to Preston because the baby was coming and there were no available incubators at Bolton. Nick arrived back at the hospital with my brother-in-law Simon and followed the ambulance up to Preston. I can’t remember much of that journey except to say that a really weird peace came over me. I felt like I was on a cloud. As the ambulance doors shut in Bolton, Simon mouthed through the doors ‘it’s going to be ok sis’ and suddenly I felt calm.

At Preston I was left sat in my pyjamas and coat on the end of a bed for 2 hours. Another patient made me a cup of tea, and I waited for the doctor to assess me again. I settled into my new bed and the contractions started coming faster. I can remember watching Match of the Day that night (we had beaten Newcastle United 5 -1) and throughout the night I was strapped to the heartbeat monitor. I hadn’t slept a wink in 48 hours. In the morning a doctor and 2 nurses came to see me. I was again given an internal and the doctor decided that they urgently needed to get the baby out as infection had set in. I was induced at 2pm that day. I was exhausted, frightened and now I had to give birth.

I’d heard that labour was painful, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience.  Being induced apparently makes the contractions more intense and mine were off the chart, literally off the chart that hung above my bed that mapped the pain and the time apart of the contractions. I can remember screaming for an epidural and asking my mum to kill me (neither of which happened).  It wasn’t helped by the midwife who was seeing to me and kept telling me I wasn’t in labour and that I must have a very low pain threshold. She left the room an awful lot during labour and thank God my mum and Nick noticed that my frantic screams had turned into pushing because Mum ran out of the room to retrieve the midwife, who was eating a sausage butty, and told her to get back into the room with the necessary equipment because the baby was about to be born. The next few moments were a blur. All of a sudden the room went dark, the midwife looked shell-shocked that everything was happening so fast, and a man came into the room with an incubator and breathing equipment. I vaguely remember him standing at the bottom of my bed holding one blue hat and one pink hat. 3 pushes later at 8.12pm, the room erupted with the crying of a baby. A girl. A tiny 3lb 12oz baby girl born at exactly 31 weeks and 3 days.  She was quickly cut away from me and everything went quiet as they put her in the incubator. I can remember asking over and over ‘is she ok? Is she ok?’ and the man with the 2 hats shook his head, and I panicked. He then quickly clarified his head shaking by saying ‘She doesn’t need it, she doesn’t need oxygen, she’s fine’. Oh the relief that engulfed me. I was then passed my precious daughter to hold for a minute until she was taken from me to nicu. The next couple of hours were what I would describe as post traumatic shock. I was so very relieved that she was ok, but I was so angry with that midwife for not listening to me, for not believing I was in advanced labour, for not giving me any pain relief that I so desperately needed, for not having the equipment there if things had gone wrong.  After I had birthed the placenta, I was encouraged to have a bath, then wheeled back to a mother and baby ward filled with new mums and their new-borns, whilst mine was somewhere in that hospital being assessed and stabilised. I was in so much pain physically from the labour and emotionally I was in absolute shock.

Later that night, Nick and I went to see our girl who we had named Martha Iris. She was so small, all curled up in her plastic box with a huge cannula in her hand. But she was the most beautiful, most precious thing on earth to us and she was just perfect. This was the start of learning a new language for us that becomes second nature for all nicu mums and dads. We were invited to do something called ‘Kangaroo Care’ which is skin to skin contact with baby and encourages the bonding process.  Both Nick and I loved this. Having that warm little bug curled up in the nape of your neck is absolute bliss. We were shown how to do ‘Cares’ which is changing and washing your baby through the doors of the incubator without disturbing the many wires attached to them. And of course how to feed them via the tube inserted into their little nose.
I was given sleeping tablets that night and with the help of earplugs and a sleeping mask, I slept for around 9 hours. The most I had had in a week. At around 9am I was awoken by a nurse asking where my baby was! I’m not proud of what I said next…’Are you f*%king kidding me? Have you even read my notes?’ After a profuse apology, she then asked me to begin expressing as it would be beneficial for Martha to get the antibodies associated with breast milk. This began a long process of endless
pumping as I became obsessed with giving Martha every chance of getting stronger and getting out of hospital, back home where she belonged.
The next couple of days I stayed in Preston hospital because I needed to be near to Martha until she was transferred back to Bolton when space became available. 2 days after she was born, she made the journey via ambulance in her incubator with Nick and me anxiously following behind to Bolton’s fabulous NICU facility. I had briefly visited the unit in the week leading up to Martha’s birth and had met mums with babies born at the same gestation in order to prepare me. It was an emotional visit but one which made me feel so much better and not as alone. Everyone was so encouraging and hopeful in there. The nicu mums were some of the strongest I have ever had the privilege of meeting.
 world prematurity day, 7 months pregnant, imeverymum, mummy blogger, premature baby, NICU

Going back home to our flat without the baby was exceptionally difficult. It’s something you never imagine possible, and for some less fortunate than us, it’s permanent. Walking through our door having left a week earlier full of worry and uncertainty, I broke down. I ached for my little girl. She was 5 miles away all on her own, without me looking after her, but I knew she was safe. And so began a new routine of thrice daily visits to the unit to be with her. Nick had been granted 2 weeks paternity leave, but of course he had used up one of those with all the drama of the week previous, and he wanted to save the other week for when Martha came home so we could be together as a new family. We made the difficult decision for him to go back to work, and for him to join me for the evening visit each day.

Nicu is an amazing place. The nurses or ‘Aunties’ as they prefer to be called are wonderful, gifted, caring people. I would wake in the middle of the night, desperate to know how Martha was, and we could call any hour of the day or night to speak, cry, be reassured and comforted by someone who was looking at Martha as we communicated. It was so bittersweet, but Martha’s progress was exceptional. She started bottle feeding my expressed milk and moved from the high dependency unit to an open cot within a week. Exactly 3 weeks after she was born, and a week before Christmas, we got to take her home. We were invited to have a ‘sleep in’ at hospital with her so we could have on hand support if we were anxious, then she was discharged to us along with 70 bottles of my frozen breast milk – I told you I was obsessed!. We couldn’t quite believe that we had been entrusted with this precious jewel to look after at last. We were deliriously happy.  Martha progressed well, and we eventually settled into a new routine with her feeds. I had been struggling so much time-wise to express, then feed her, then express again in time for the next feed. I literally wasn’t leaving the house. Martha couldn’t feed straight from the breast as her suck was too weak and her feeds from the bottle could take up to 2 hours followed by an hour of winding as her back was too weak to get the trapped air up. We eventually gave up on breast-milk after about 2 months which gave me so much more time to enjoy Martha. One of the things you’ll find, not just as a mum of a premature baby but any mum is that the pressure from others can be immense. I actively rally against some of this pressure because I get so angry that as Mum’s we often turn against each other in our bid to be perfect. Breast or bottle? Co-sleeping or not? Baby led weaning? Pain-free labour? It makes me feel like screaming ‘It’s none of your damn business, because you don’t know my circumstances’. What I have learned from my experience is that no 2 stories are the same and the choices we make must suit our families best, not every other smug mum out there.

I’ll always remember those dark days when we feared the worst and to that end I continue to be an active part of a Pprom support group, offering advice and encouragement to ladies on bed rest all around the world. I have also taken part in races raising money for BLISS – (a registered charity for premature babies) who gave me invaluable support and advice when I needed it most.  As we remember all the babies born before their time this week, my heart breaks for all those who grew their wings too soon. Martha was one of the lucky ones and we are incredibly fortunate to have her here with us today, a feisty, independent nearly five year old who makes my heart burst with pride every day. Since Martha’s birth, I have come to realise that being a Mum of a prem is actually all around us. So many people I have spoken to in passing have said they are Mum’s of prems who are now healthy strapping adults. I love hearing those stories; they fill me with such hope and joy.

Prematurity does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone regardless of race, colour, age, religious beliefs etc. I don’t believe that we are ‘blessed’ with our girl who is safe and well, we are just extremely fortunate to have come through the other side happy, healthy and relatively unscathed.  Going back to my first football game a few months after Martha was born was brilliant. The ladies who sit behind us in the stadium had been kept up to date by Nick and I was welcomed back into the football family with open arms, warm hugs and requests to see pictures of our awesome little fighter.  We lost the game that day, but I felt like I’d won the best trophy of all, a beautiful miniature girl who had changed my world for the better.  My advice to Mums out there or to pregnant ladies for whom prematurity is a concern, real or imagined is this: take a deep breath, always trust your instincts, always ask for help, love your baby like only you can and know above anything else that, as the advert says, you’re all doing a great job.

The poem I wrote for Martha’s christening :

For my baby – 1 year old tomorrow

We fell in love with a heartbeat on a screen,

Right there, a life, all new, to the world unseen.

We shared our news with tears of joy,

Was that heartbeat our daughter or a mischievous little boy?

We watched you grow, we nurtured you,

The weeks went by and my bump grew.

One night we laid, and watched the moon,

Then morning came, you were coming too soon.

Frightened I lay in a hospital bed,

Fear and anxiety rushing through my tired head.

In the dead of night, snow fell and rested on trees,

I cried out to God, and my troubled soul eased.

The very next day, our girl was born,

So tiny and sweet and perfect in form.

Our hearts broke again when we couldn’t take you home,

But you were so small, you hadn’t fully grown.

As Christmas approached you were still so small,

Came the news that we dreamed, our best present of all.

We climbed the stairs and switched on the tree lights,

The beginning of tired days and some very long nights.

Precious nights spent together, getting to know each other,

My tiny little angel, teaching me how to be her mother.

As springtime came, you got so much stronger,

A smile then a giggle and legs so much longer.

Now summer’s here, our worlds revolve around you,

You bring so much joy, if only you knew.

I love seeing you, laughing with you Dad,

He’ll always be there for you with a cuddle when you’re sad.

We’ll both do our best to equip you well,

To live your life fully, to make all hearts swell.

I’ll try my best to set you free,

To show you the wonder of love that you’ve taught me.

Every day we thank God for our little treasure,

Who’s improved ours lives and surpassed beyond measure.

So this is your day, your family and friends are all here,

To give thanks for our fighter, Martha Iris, so dear.

SIBLINGS IN DECEMBER

Siblings in December

I can’t believe that it’s the end of another year.  So much has happened this year.  My Siblings posts aren’t yet on this blog… I’m really pleased that I started this new blog this year.  It’s nowhere near where I want it to be, it needs so much doing to it, organising and posts moving across but for now I am enjoying remembering why I love blogging, vlogging and my passion for photography.  I’ve posted a lot of these pictures already on our our Ordinary Moments post but they are the best ones of my Siblings this month and they completely sum up December for me.

I LOVE this project and I am so excited for next year.  I love watching how their little relationships improve.  How their dynamic changes.  The fact that Eden had to be held in the siblings shoots at the beginning of the year and now she potters around in her own little way and we have to hope against hope that we can capture a lovely shot of her that isn’t blurry from her superfast movements.  It is so difficult to capture them all together, and I know that the girls must get bored posing but they are so good at it.  They patiently put up with all the posing waiting for the toddlers to be at least a bit involved so that I can say we’re done.

I’m also excited to see how my photography improves with my university input.  I feel that I’m learning so much and I have such a long way to go.  It’s great to see the differences as I learn my way around my camera more.

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I am so grateful to Lucy for starting these beautiful photography projects that remind us to take stock each month and capture the moments that disappear so quickly before our eyes.  The Siblings project is definitely one of my favourite.

We look forward to continuing in 2016.

THE DIARY OF A WORKING MUM {PART TWO}

Wrestling my thoughts.

Attending interviews half way through my maternity leave is not something I ever envisaged myself doing. I had been out of the ‘work loop’ for nearly 5 months and my employers were under an obligation to ‘redeploy’ me in a role they saw fit unless I agreed to take redundancy. Each week I was sent a list of vacant posts that were deemed suitable to my skill-set, and it was up to me which I applied for. I would automatically be granted an interview which took a lot of the stress out of my predicament, but it turns out that the stress surrounding this new job search would come from other sources, ones which were much closer to home.
Having a baby is life-changing. I don’t need to tell mothers out there that. But having a premature baby is heart-wrenching also and I promised myself I would always put Martha first, come what may.  When she was born I made a vow to never cry in front of her. I wanted her to think that the world was perfect, to never experience heart-ache, to never think that her mum was weak, and to always be happy. It’s like an over compensation that I needed to create this perfect world for her because I felt I had let her down; that my body had failed to sustain her during pregnancy and I owed it to her to make things right. Absolutely unrealistic promises to fulfil, and ones which I now know were ridiculous to have ever made.
It’s right that she sees my struggles, she sees my tears, she sees my frustrations, my joys my laughter all in Martha sized doses obviously, because that is what life is. It’s happy and it’s hard. We struggle so much with our conflicting emotions as mums, always trying to do our best and walking that fine line between being fabulously successful and a complete and utter failure. All or nothing. As a new mum, I needed constant affirmation from my peers and loved ones that I was doing a good job, that I
was a good mum, and that the difficult choices I was making, were the right ones. When you become a mum, you get a newfound respect for your own mum. They are the ‘go to’ person who can give you the best advice in your new parenting role, yet they can also cuddle you as their child when you are struggling. What I didn’t expect was that they are also the ones who can deliver the hardest blows; the curveballs that knock you sideways, and their differing opinions are the ones that hurt the most because they matter to you. They really matter.
I need to say that I love my mum so much. Those who know me know this. She was there at Martha’s birth and she is a brilliant parent, friend and Narny (the word for Grandma in our family). But she is one of those women who feels compelled to share her thoughts and opinions on pretty much everything anyone is doing, regardless of the impact that might have on them. She comes from the generation of ‘stay at home mums’ when, once you had a baby, there was no question of going back to work, certainly not within the first 5 years of the child’s life, if indeed ever again. She made cakes, she cooked tea, she cleaned, she ironed, she walked us in our prams, she always wore a skirt, tights and a nice blouse, and she created a fantastic childhood for all her three children. But she cried a lot, and she suffered from crippling postnatal depression after my brother Mark was born. Her tears used to distress me so much when I was little and the endless months she spent in her bedroom after Mark was born frightened me.
Now I’m not saying that the fact she was a stay at home mum caused her to be depressed, nor am I using it as the reason I went back to work- to avoid being depressed –
I’m just stating that what we witness as children influences how we try to be as parents ourselves (for example me trying never to cry in front of Martha stemmed from seeing my mums tears and how that made me feel). My Mum did absolutely the best she could with the hand she was dealt and ​now I had to find my best. Make the decisions best for my family, which may be completely different for your family and the next and the next. Because every situation is different. My mum’s situation
was different to mine, and mine is different to yours. We need to feel really strong in our personal decision making because the tiniest objection can knock us off our already fragile feet if we aren’t steadfast. As a new parent, I grew increasingly reliant on my mum’s approval to the point where if she objected to anything I was doing, I was sent into a tailspin. That’s not her fault, it’s because I wasn’t strong enough to stand up and own my decision.  Sharing my thought’s with my Mum on my work situation whilst on Mat Leave made me question so many times whether or not I was doing the right thing by going back. What I saw as loaded questions kept creeping in such as ‘Do you have to?’ ‘Won’t you miss her?’ ‘I’d take the redundancy’ ‘you don’t get this time back you know? and such like, all of which made me feel terrible. I know new mums are particularly hard on themselves and if it was anyone else, I’d have answered calmly and certainly and thought no more of it. But this was my mum. She must know best. And her questions were translated in my mind to the following; What was she trying to say? That I was a crap mum for going back to work? Especially because Martha was prem? How could I even think about abandoning her? Why had I had a child just for someone else to take care of her? My confidence was waning with every distorted question.
This was going to be a lot tougher than I thought. And if I was going to do what I knew my heart and head were telling me to do, I was going to have to toughen up; be defiant in the decisions Nick and I had made for our family and stop listening so much to other people. More importantly to stop measuring myself against other people’s expectations. I owed it to Martha to be the best Mum I could be, and that meant finding a way for me to be at peace with the choices I made regardless of what people thought. Realising this was a turning point for me and one which put a new spring in my step, a confident spring.
By June, I had secured a new post with The Council as a Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer. I had enrolled Martha in a lovely nursery part time in the village of Blackrod; an old grammar school which was Forest School accredited meaning that the children were encouraged to learn outdoors, something important to us as at the time we were living in a flat with no garden.  October was looming and as the seasons changed, our routine was about to change with it. I have always loved Autumn. There’s something magical about the leaves crisp under your feet, the bite in the air, the early evening street lights and the home fires burning. It reminds me of going back to school after the summer break, wearing new shoes, with a new coat and a pencil case, a new teacher, new text books… A new beginning. A new mum with a new job.
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Let's Talk Mommy

THE DAY I FAILED MY FAMILY

The Day I Failed My Family

Ok, so I may be being slightly melodramatic but yesterday I arrived home from university and sobbed so hard it was like someone had died.  I really did feel as though I had failed my family.  Being a busy working Mum and student Mum is not an easy task.  I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that life throws my way but I am tired a lot of the time and I don’t always get to do the things with the children that I was able to do when I wasn’t working, and also before university began this September.

The girls Mum mentioned last week to me that Isis had complained she was bored at our house and that they always had to leave me alone.  Now I know that this isn’t actually true mostly and it was said to hurt me, Isis would’ve text her Mum as a flyaway comment on the one off day that this was true (in the summer when I had worked three nights in a row, I remember the weekend).  Isis was horrified that this was said to me, she didn’t deny it all, she just explained that it had been taken completely out of context.  She told me that she understands that I work nights to pay for their extra curricula’s and she loves being at our home.

Now I know that this is definitely more true of a scenario because I can tell when they are unhappy, I know the days when they are going stir crazy and we need to get them out of the house.  They have been very tolerant with my lack-lustre energy now that I work four nights a week, but they also understand why it’s the case.  Now the babies don’t have this understanding yet.  Judah’s behaviour has changed recently.  My little boy that was always (ok more like 95%, he is a toddler) so good, well mannered, sweet, has begun shouting, screaming, dragging his baby sister around with no regard for how it may affect her and I can see that he is desperate for our attention.

He has had our attention completely ever since he was born.  I was self-employed teaching at home, he would have James to watch him and play with him when I was in lessons.  If I was ever really unwell, he would go to my Mum who would give him her undivided attention.  We then had an au pair when I was struggling to keep on top of things so that he could have her undivided attention if I needed to get on with anything else.  He has been spoilt for attention and now he is at pre-school.  He loves it, don’t get me wrong he absolutely loves it, and it was EXACTLY what he needed.  He loves playing with all the toys, he comes home constantly singing the songs that he learns.  He’s usually wet through as he’s been allowed to just play with the water tray and trash his clothes, something I don’t really do much at home, unless it’s the summer months and even then it’s about space, there isn’t much room to sit outside and watch him play in our little garden at the moment.

Eden has been going to a friends whilst I’ve been at uni, she’s probably had the biggest change to be honest, but she is with a dear friend who I would trust with my life, who has two little children and Eden has not been missing out.  She’s been having a lovely time and playing with the older children when they’re not at pre-school and school.  It’s like she has another little family that she hangs out with.  I know that she misses me, but she’s also going through that independent stage, so really as far as Eden’s concerned the timing couldn’t have been better.  Had I been putting her into a nursery yet, it may have been different, but as it stands she loves going to my friends, and Tanya does a lot with her.  She’s always had a lovely day and is happy to see me when I (or James) collect her.

Ok, now I’ve lengthily set the scene, let me tell you about yesterday.  Yesterday I was at university in the morning for two lectures.  I then have a HUGE gap of 5 hours before I have a meeting as I am the Online Editor of the university newspaper (‘Pluto’ – furthest from The Sun).  When I’m exhausted from working nights I will sometimes go home and have a nap in that gap, but if I have the energy I try and stay at university and use that time to get some work done that needs doing.  Work for my blog, work for uni, work for the newspaper, there is ALWAYS something to do.  Yesterday with it being half-term and Judah’s pre-school being closed James had booked in some working from home days to be with the babies until I finished lectures.  He told me to stay at uni and get whatever done that I needed to.

Then everything changed, Eden was unwell so I booked her a GP appointment for in the afternoon.  She’d had a rotten cough and cold, but now her little voice had changed and I was worried it had become an infection.  James text me saying that he had to call in work and tell them he couldn’t work as he was sick.  I knew that he must feel really unwell to not even be able to answer the phone at home.  I told him I would come straight home after lectures and forget my meeting.  He told me that he was ok, he could cope, he was snuggled up on the sofa and the babies were happy playing in their play area (we have like an open plan play room that is part of the lounge downstairs) and watching TV.

So, I had my uneventful day, with technical issues and technology failures I really didn’t get much done.  In FIVE HOURS I really didn’t get much done.  Then I attended the meeting I needed to, and we didn’t really discuss anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I learned something, we were learning how to use the software that we print the newspaper in, but this is something I could’ve figured out at home.  James came to collect me, and then I saw how bad things were:

I got in the driver’s seat to drive home as I could see he’d literally brought a sick bucket with him.

We got home and Eden was so unwell, she’d been diagnosed with a viral wheeze? whatever that means.  She’d been given a teeny inhaler and spacer and James was too unwell to have thought to give her some already.  She was crying (and it sounded awful as she could barely make a sound), wheezing, all snotty, pushing me away because it’s like she doesn’t want to be comforted by me anymore, as I’m now the care giver that sees her the least.  I just held my crying baby in my arms as she fought me comforting her, and I sobbed.  I broke down and sobbed.  James had gone off to be sick in the upstairs bathroom.  I felt absolutely HORRENDOUS.  What had I been doing all day?  My family desperately needed me and I’d been faffing around with computers all day.

I opened Eden’s new inhaler and spacer and gave it to her.  I undressed her (with a lot of resistance) and put her in some comfy pyjamas and just cuddled her.  I cradled her in my arms, put some olbas oil on her clothes and watched as when James carried her out of my arms to bed, she instantly calmed.  I knew she felt better after we gave her some medicine, but she really settled once she was in her Dad’s arms.

My Mum text me asking how my day was, I wanted to tell her but I knew that what I’d get back wouldn’t comfort me, but be more like an ‘I told you so’ as she thinks that I should be at home with the babies until they go to school.  ‘They’re only little for a short time’.  And she’s right but James and I have made some decisions for our family that we felt were best.  Days like yesterday make it hard to believe that they are for the best.  I wanted to just throw everything in, I felt like an absolute failure as a wife and mother but the reality is, this was a one off.  This was James trying to “support” me in my studies and refusing my help as I offered many times throughout the day to come home.  I should’ve known to ignore his dismissive nature and go home anyway, but I didn’t.  I let them all down.  It may have just been one day, but has definitely made me rethink things.

I had some brilliant advice from a friend when I was mid melt down and I’m putting it out here for anyone else who feels like me :

‘Seriously Alex, that is absolutely normal. It’s natural that you want to protect them from life’s bumps in the road but real life isn’t plain sailing. We have been through some monumental struggles where you question everything, every decision, every disagreement and the things you do to make your family better can often disrupt their behaviour. Don’t forget that Eden and Judah have had your attention for most of their lives so far so of course they are playing up a bit when that changes. James too needs to find his new place in it all. But I honestly believe that the uncomfortable moments are a time for growth and without them, nothing would grow. Nobody likes change but when we push through change it makes us a bit more rounded. If you are really worried, I’d urge you to revisit what you are feeling right now in exactly one month. If it’s the same, then maybe change again. Adjustments are never easy and you are all going through adjustment at the moment. Let it settle before you change it if that’s what is needed. There is no shame in changing your mind about decisions you have made, but there is also nothing wrong with carrying on and finding a new normal that, although painful at first, helps your children to be independent of you. That’s what a mums job is….to equip them.’

These were such wise words and exactly what I needed to hear.  I hope this transparent, bare all post helps someone else to feel better about decisions they have made in their lives.

+Rehab London Male Skincare Routine {Review}

 

rehab-thumbnail-1024x593The wonderful people at +Rehab London (click here to check them out) heard of my husbands extremely sensitive skin and decided to rise to the challenge and send some products for us to review.  My husband suffers with Rosacea on his cheeks and nose area and also Psoriasis at the base of his hairline due to his scalp.  Usually the only products that he is able to use are medicated and prescribed from the GP.  Being able to use anything other than those was a distant dream really.  Definitely, he would never think to find anything more specific than a medicated wash and some soothing gel that are on repeat prescription.

I don’t want to write this review for my husband really as the real review has been captured in his words and by the video camera.  I will summarise though as I myself was so impressed.

James very rarely shaves, it’s extra irritation that he just can’t be bothered with.  When he does he dry shaves with a clipper so never really achieves a close shave which would be better for his work life on those days he needs to attend court.  When he does try and shave closely he usually is full of red patches and cuts as his skin is just so sensitive.  Enter the ‘Argan Oil Shaving Gel‘ that +Rehab London sent to us, it really did work wonders.  You can see James’ shocked reaction as he runs the razor through smoothly first time.

rehab london, male skincare, skincare routine, sensitive skin, psoriasis, rosacea, beauty, imeverymum, beauty bloggers

 

James would definitely never dare try an exfoliator unless it was prescribed, well, saying that, he once did because I suggested it may help, before he had a diagnosis from a facialist and GP, it didn’t have great results – oops!  The ‘Scrub Up Daily Detox‘ was brilliant, he said his skin felt smooth afterwards and refreshed, there was absolutely NO redness.  I’m not being dramatic here, this feels like nothing short of a miracle after seeing how sensitive his skin is and how it flares up to everything.

With the ‘Calm Balm‘, ‘Shine Free‘ and ‘Revive Survive‘ I wasn’t expecting such negative reactions, but even still I was pleasantly surprised.  James was really impressed and he’s kept up the regime for the past two days post review, which is extremely unlike his dyspraxic self so he must’ve decided it works well and like the results or he just simply would not bother.

As his wife I am just so pleased that he felt pampered, that these luxury products are compelling him to keep up with a skin regime that makes him feel nice and more confident about himself, although he probably wouldn’t admit that, as to him they’re just ‘beauty products’ but I think the guys and gals at Rehab London may have made a convert out of him.  I also have to point out that they smell delicious, his skin feels so smooth, and it makes kisses and cuddles even more special if that’s possible *winks*.

Don’t take my word for it though, please watch James’ Review on our YouTube channel or by pressing play below.

These products are certainly not cheap, but they are also extremely affordable for what they are, ranging from just under £10 to around £20 per item.  We’re yet to see how long they will last, but with the easy pump on the moisturisers it’s likely to not get spilled or overused so we’ll be expecting at least 4 months from those and maybe need to replenish the scrub before then.

Children in Bikinis : Yay or Nay?

children in bikini, little girl, bikini, beach, imeverymum, parent blogger, style, fashion, Monsoon, turquoise, beach, sea, waves

Since becoming a Mum I have always been quite anti children in bikinis, I didn’t really give it too much thought, I just didn’t like the idea of them looking old before their time.  Obviously no parent likes the idea of their child being looked at inappropriately but I wondered recently if it was as black and white as the fact that I don’t want them wearing them.

Isis at aged 9 is growing up so quickly, the idea of her wearing a bikini is a bit too scary for her Dad’s head to comprehend.  I bought her the most beautiful swimdress from Next today and she is really happy with it.  It is gorgeously 1950’s cute, in a nautical print and she feels really pretty in it.  This is a huge win for Daddy and for Isis as they both love it for different reasons.  Whilst in Monsoon the other day though, we saw this adorable frilly turquoise bikini that was only £4 in the SALE.  Shayla fell in love with it, they only had aged 3-4 left so I told her she could try it on, thinking it would be too small, but it fit her perfectly (she’s only a tiny thing after all).  She just looks adorable in it, so it made me reponder my position on bikinis for little ones.

children in bikini, little girl, bikini, beach, imeverymum, parent blogger, style, fashion, Monsoon, turquoise, beach, sea, waves

At age 5 Shayla-Rae, I believe, looks like a little girl, a beautiful, sweet, innocent little girl, having fun.  I love that she isn’t self-conscious, that she can stick out her little tummy and still feel gorgeous.  She looks pretty, she feels pretty, it’s one of her favourite colours and it really brings out her eyes.  Now I’m not saying that I have no principles and break them at the first sign of something cheap and cute, but I genuinely feel that as far as Shayla-Rae and this bikini are concerned, I don’t feel as though I’m crossing the lines of my own principles.  I also find that it’s an interesting thought and concept though, and am incredibly interested in what other people believe.  Do you think I’m a sell out?  Do you think there’s a fine line?  Do you think she looks cute?

children in bikini, little girl, bikini, beach, imeverymum, parent blogger, style, fashion, Monsoon, turquoise, beach, sea, waves

The A-line Skirt

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Fewer cuts, if any, are considered to be more flattering than the trusted A-line skirt.  Even as a plus-sized Mum the shape manages to make my chunky legs look less so.  It is definitely one of my favourite cuts, in a dress and a skirt.  It has not however previously been a style I have chosen often for our girls, as I have never been particularly struck by one as we were this beautiful item from Monsoon.  I’m not usually one to chase fashion for the children, I love them looking cute and girly, and getting away with the big frilly, fluffy things that we as adults don’t really get away with anymore, unless we’re amazingly cool and quirky.  Some people can definitely get away with some outfits I would not.  Now that Isis is getting older, at aged 9, she is becoming far more interested in fashion, and looking classicly chic instead of girly.

a-line skirt, monsoon, beautiful print, floral, pastel, gold, stitching, detailing, seaside, beautiful girl, style, fashion, imeverymum

We spend a lot of time looking at current trends online through websites such as Zara or AlexandAlexa.com and she is a lot more aware of her own tastes and what is ‘in’ this season.  Whilst perusing in Monsoon the other day, we found this amazing skirt on the SALE rack.  There were so many of them.  I decided they must have placed them on there whilst finding somewhere for them to live more permanently.  I’ve worked in retail in the past and visual merchandising can be a nightmare whilst there is a sale on, as there’s never as much room on the shop floor.  The beautiful gold detailing, thick material and lining led me to believe that it was new Autumn/Winter stock.  I asked the sales advisor if these were meant to be on the sale rail as I flipped over the tag.  She informed me that they had been at the warehouse for a long time and only just rolled out to stores, they were indeed last season.  These stunning skirts were reduced from £35 to £9.60.  Of course I bought one for Shayla-Rae and one for Isis.

a-line skirt, monsoon, beautiful print, floral, pastel, gold, stitching, detailing, seaside, beautiful girl, style, fashion, imeverymum

I guess the pastel colours make it summery, but I am so happy with this find.  I think the pattern is beautiful, the material is perfect for Autumn/Winter, the gold would make it work even for Christmas time and parties.  The cut is elegant and Isis looked amazing in it. She wore it to a friends the following day with a pale pink, frilly, almost peplum cut tee and some silver sequinned ballet pumps.  It looked beautiful.  I thought it would be the sort of skirt you could only wear with a plain top as it’s so heavily patterned, but it really worked, she looked seriously stunning, even with a pale pink and green watermelon print headband on too.  I really wish I’d captured a photo as it doesn’t sound like it would go together but she looked really beautiful.

a-line skirt, monsoon, beautiful print, floral, pastel, gold, stitching, detailing, seaside, beautiful girl, style, fashion, imeverymum

 

Overall, I personally think that you cannot beat a beautiful A-line skirt, and I hope to stumble across many more gorgeous fashion finds like this piece.  It has definitely made me think twice about trying to get into the stores more often as opposed to always shopping online.  You never know what bargains may come across your path.

{Me & Mine} 2015 – July

Me & Mine July, family portrait, family photo project, photography

Daddy is loving : 

* The extra bed space on the nights Mummy is at work

* Packet noodles (fast becoming a work staple – oops)

* His new iPhone 6 now that Mummy has upgraded

* Having the car to himself now Mummy has a new car

Mummy is loving :

* Her new job and meeting new people

* Wearing make-up again (taking some time for herself)

* Having quality time with the children now school is out

* Practicing singing with Isis who is sharing her first gig with Mummy

* Doing lots of editing, planning for the future of the blog (rebrand)

Isis is loving :

* experimenting with little bits of make-up that Mummy and Daddy allow her to

* her new iPhone 4S now that Daddy has Mummy’s old phone

* herself!!! It’s amazing seeing her confidence explode after months of zero confidence at the end of last year

* singing, YouTubing, modelling, finding her creativity in many ways

Shayla-Rae is loving : 

playing with Judah all the time, they are the cutest of friends

* watching our YouTube challenges, sitting and laughing so much

* going to the park now school is out

* accessories, accessories, accessories

Judah is loving : 

* Team Umizoomi

* when Mummy gets back from work in the mornings

* our new ‘Super Car’

* having all his ‘girls’ to hang out with in the holidays

Eden is loving : 

* terrorising everybody

* pretending she’s using the potty

* going down the biggest slides she can find (this child knows no fear)

* anything girlie, trying to steal Mummy’s make-up, her sisters handbags, headbands, bracelets etc.

Me & Mine July, family portrait, family photo project, photography,

Life has been extremely fast paced recently.  With the loss of our au pair, and my working night shifts, it’s certainly never dull.  We have a second car, a blue Zafira that fits us all in.  The children have nicknamed her ‘Blue Betty’ and we are loving all being able to go places even if Daddy is at work and all together as a family on a Saturday.  It feels so freeing.  We were able to all go to the park the other day.  It would take us an hour to walk, but it’s a few minutes in the car.  We have so much fun all at the park.  We’ve been able to go and visit friends, attend family events without having to organise a convoy of cars.  It’s just amazing and we are so grateful to James’ grandad for giving us money towards buying ‘Blue Betty’ and also his parents for loaning us the rest.

We’re still in an adjusting stage but we’re loving every minute of it.  All the children are so happy and playing together amazingly, Eden is now at that perfect age.  I love that they’re all able to play together without our involvement.  James and I often just sit watching how sweetly they interact.  I can’t wait for our holidays together in a couple of weeks and all the holidays we have planned for the next year.  It makes such a difference having a second wage.

From all of us loving life and enjoying our little family so much we hope you and yours are great too.