Boob juice

I’ll be honest with you (and no doubt many will be appalled) but before I fell pregnant, actually even through pregnancy, I wasn’t sure I wanted to breastfeed, truth be told the whole idea of it freaked me out. But my mantra in life is that you should always give something a go, so off I totted to the hospitals breastfeeding workshop. I spared my hubby from this one as I honestly thought there’d be no other men on it, how wrong I was. Ten minutes in and we’ve been asked to draw a baby on a piece of paper (mine showed a strong resemblance to a melon, how ironic…) then show the teacher with the piece of paper how we’d feed. I’m still none the wiser as to how that’s meant to help people.

Luckily I have a lot of friends who bf so I’ve seen a lot of baby on boob action so I got off to a reasonably good start with the teacher. Saying that by the end of it I was less than impressed. Their main selling point (which I do now realise is true) was about how it helps you quickly loose the ‘baby weight’. Personally, I felt this was a bit wrong – there’s already so much pressure on young girls to be slim and new mums to ping back into shape (thanks celeb magazines for that one, I swear if I see one more picture of Coleen Rooney in her bikini this week after recently giving birth I’ll scream, and then eat some more chocolate of course), I just didn’t feel that it should be used as a selling tool. It’s personal choice how you want to feed your baby, bf isn’t for everyone, and not everyone finds it that easy to do, even if they want to. What’s important is that whether it’s by boob or bottle your baby is fed, full stop.

I’ve been doing it exclusively for 14 weeks now and I honestly never thought I’d get this far with it. It’s TOUGH, and I mean that sincerely.

What’s kept me going has definitely been seeing how the little man is piling on the pounds and developing into such a little character. I’m not one of these super pro breastfeeding earth mothery sorts who ram it down every other mums throats but it is a lovely feeling knowing that’s all down to me.

There are some funny sides to it though. We can look back and laugh now at my pathetic attempts to express colostrum in hospital, Mr B dutifully stood over me with a teeny 1ml syringe in hand waiting to collect a drop of the stuff. Or the day my milk finally came in, I’ll try and paint the scene…a few days of constantly attaching the little man to my boobs I couldn’t even muster the energy to put them away, Mr B bought Joshua through to me on the sofa where I was drugged up on pain relief in a world of my own and all I hear is ‘oh babe I think your milks come in’ yup, it was dripping everywhere….who said romance is dead.

I followed all the health visitor advice and waited for 6 weeks before trying to introduce a bottle (*inserts some profanities aimed at that piece of advice*) and 8 weeks later we’re still bloody battling without making much progress. Everyone goes on about this magic window for introducing it, but no one told me that point blank refusal could happen. Don’t get me wrong I’m really proud of myself for bf but if I knew he would at least take one it would make my life a little easier as it would mean we could share the odd night time feed when I’m beyond exhausted. Though things are now starting to get easier and he has started to do longer stretches at night between feeds.

So, if anyone’s interested I thought I’d share some things I’ve learnt and I’d pass on to people…
1. Follow your instincts with when is the best time to introduce a bottle if you want to be able to express and have some help.

2. Buy lansinoh lanolin nipple cream and use it after every feed in the first couple of weeks. It’s expensive but I found it was worth every penny and touch wood, I’ve not had any problems.

3. Never quit on a bad day – still the best piece of advice I’ve been given.

4. Invest in decent bras and buy some pretty ones (completely pointless but they’ll make you feel better).

5. Keep your a sense of humour (it’s not glamourous and I’ve lost count of how many people have seen my huge boobs).

6. Enjoy it, it’s hard but it’s so rewarding. Before we know it they’ll be ready for weaning and I already know I’ll miss the lovecuddles we have when its feed time.

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Sleep deprived blogging

Well as I have nothing else to blog about at the moment (and I’m definitely not going to be able to even think about using my sewing machine any time soon) I thought I’d might as well give a little update/ramblings on my new role as a mummy now that we’re 11 weeks in.

I’m still winging it day by day and I’ve no idea whether I’m getting things right or wrong, the only markers being the little man is healthily gaining weight (13lb 14oz last Thursday) and is a happy smiley chappy through the day. We won’t talk about the nights, and I don’t want to hear about people who have babies who sleep through from 6 weeks old (for my own sanity I refuse to believe them in any case).

Looking after Joshua and being totally responsible for him truly is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. As my best pal keeps telling me (and she’s always bloody right!) those first 6 weeks (oh and once you get past those first 6 weeks the goalposts change and it also includes the next 6 weeks!) are like crawling through a long dark tunnel. It’s one hell of a journey and a steep learning curve. I’m lucky in that my mum doesn’t work so has been around to help me out (which has been an absolute god send).  The days at work dealing with what those of us in the comms world deem a sh*t sandwich seem like a doddle in comparison now. A ferocious journalist with a corker of a media enquiry at 3.30pm on a Friday pales in comparison to dealing with a small person at 3.30 am when you’ve already been up twice that night feeding, your eyes are stinging and you feel so tired you feel sick. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for the world and when you see him smile first thing in the morning, melting your heart it makes it all totally worth it.

I’ve found myself questioning everything I do and doing things I swore I’d never do as a parent (much to the amusement of my besties I’m sure). Take last week for example, I found myself sat in a circle with other sleep deprived mums, frantically bouncing our babies on our laps in a bid to not be the one with the grumpy baby, a large gold sequinned sheet of material in front of us with a lady fully immersing herself into a sing songy world of baby tunes and encouraging us to join in, judge me. I said I’d never go along to these things, but he loved it, (well up until the point he had to wear bunny ears, que a meltdown so I had to wear them) so much so I’m going back next week. I’ll leave my dignity at the door. (Those of you locally it’s called Hartbeeps and rather fittingly the session was called Baby Bells, it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for a sensory based activity).

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The M word

It’s been a fair while since I last blogged, but this time I promise there’s been a genuine reason. On the 13th January we welcomed to the world our beautiful (big!) baby boy, Joshua Peter Bell.

Life’s completely changed.

A lot of people were unaware that we were expecting as we kept the pregnancy off of social media. The main reason for this being we had a bit of a rocky road to get to where we are today. We went through two, fairly close together, miscarriages before the little man arrived. I can’t even begin to describe how difficult that period in time was. I’ve been through some crappy times in my life but this was by far the hardest, most heartbreaking and challenging I’ve ever faced. We’d almost reached 9 weeks the first time, it was so out of the blue and I really didn’t know much about miscarriages so it was a complete shock. I’d felt unwell a few days before and then leading up to it I just felt something wasn’t right. Then one morning I woke up really early, feeling I needed to dash to the loo, I’ll spare you the details but it was pretty horrific and I was loosing a lot of blood, resulting in me ending up in the back of an ambulance and a trip to a&e. I knew straight away we’d lost our baby, and the future we’d already started to become excited about. Even just writing about this now, while I’m cradling my newborn with one hand leaves me in tears. People just don’t talk about miscarriages and I was completely unprepared for what followed.
We fell pregnant again quickly but lost that baby at 6.5 weeks. I was completely devastated. It was a very different chain of events to the first one, the hospital called it a ‘chemical pregnancy’, (although never really even explained what that meant), they said it most likely never got started. But for us it was still going to be our baby and just as cruel and heart breaking as the first.

 

You may be reading this wondering why I’m sharing all this now, if I have learnt one thing from it all it’s that I probably should of spoken about it more at the time. Only close family and a handful of our best friends knew when we lost the first baby (and I’ll always be thankful for their amazing support) and we told even fewer people about the second one at the time, it meant we could deal with it all in private but at the same time it was hard to keep up pretences of my normal happy self. Even harder when it seemed like everyone around me was announcing their own pregnancies. That’s such a hard thing to deal with, it’s of course a happy moment for people and you want to share in their joy as you are pleased for them but at the same time it reminds you of everything you’ve been robbed of and long for.

Comments such as ‘well at least you fell pregnant’ or ‘there was obviously something not right with the baby’ and ‘it just wasn’t meant to be’ really don’t make you feel any better at the time but looking back now perhaps they were right. I think it’s extremely difficult for people who haven’t been through something like this to understand what it’s like, and in some cases people prefer to avoid the subject all together – what I say to that is there is nothing that you can really say that will make it worse so just ask the person how they are feeling and listen if they need to talk, avoiding it can make them feel very lonely.

Once I did tell people what we had been through (once we had our first scan date) I was amazed at how many people came forward with a similar experience. It doesn’t make it any easier but knowing you aren’t the only one in the world that it has happened to can make you feel less isolated. I also hope that by sharing it can perhaps offer some hope to others in our situation. I know we have been very fortunate and been third time lucky and not everyone who goes through similar has a happy ending but for many, miscarriages are unfortunately very common but you can go on to have a healthy pregnancy. I was told by a friend of a friend about taking a low dose of aspirin once finding out I was expecting, we’ll never know if it is what made a difference but if it was then I’m eternally grateful for finding out about it.

Looking back now I do wish I’d known about places to go for help – such as The Miscarriage Association, Tommy’s and Petals which is a service the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge run, (ironically I only found out about all of these during my third pregnancy) as I spent the first half of my pregnancy with Joshua in a state of worry. When we took the pregnancy test I couldn’t even look at the results, my hubby had to do it, then I could barely talk about it for the first 12 weeks as I didn’t dare to tempt fate. When we had our 12 week scan I burst into tears as soon as they picked up the heartbeat, at that point you would think that I would of relaxed! It wasn’t until I really reached 24 weeks that I could really start to believe that it was going to be ok and was actually going to happen. I do feel that I missed out a little on being able to be excited in those early weeks (and I refused to buy anything for our baby until I got to the third trimester) then at the same time I felt so guilty for feeling like it when I knew there were others who longed to just be pregnant.

 

Looking at Joshua’s little face now though makes me feel truly blessed, and if that’s the journey we had to go on to be with him then in some strange way it all seems worth it. I’d obviously rather not have had to go through it all but as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger x

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Cornwall – clotted cream and coastal delights

We’re just home from a wonderful week down in Cornwall. We stayed just outside Rock – which is across the estuary from well known Padstow. We were so lucky with the weather – four or five afternoons spent lazily on various beaches on the North Cornish Coast. We did a couple of great coastal walks too and visited the Eden Project, which I’d really recommend. The Eden Project is really good value too – especially if you pre book tickets online. Whilst there we were also really impressed by the selection of cafe / restaurants to have lunch in – great food and really reasonably priced even though they have a captive audience.

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It really is a stunning part of the country but one of our main excitements about this holiday was the food – we had high hopes for lots of fresh fish and cream teas and it didn’t disappoint. We were self catering so we ate in a couple of evenings (well once really, the other times we ventured to the local fish & chip shop in Rock, which was amazing.

If you’re planning a trip, I’ve reviewed a few of the places we ate for dinner and afternoon tea on Trip Advisor. From my favourite place in Padstow which served the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy to a local tea room just down the road from our cottage tucked away in someones garden.

Padstow – Rojano’s

Port Isaac – The Mote

Rock – Outlaws

Chapel Amble – The Maltsters

Trebetherick – The Mowhay Cafe

St Minver – Viv’s Tearoom

Long overdue

Well apologies for the silence over the last few months, it’s been rather hectic and every time I’ve thought I must sit down and write a blog I’ve got distracted.

I’ve been working on a number of projects, a roman blind for my brother, plenty of crochet and coming up with a plan for my studio, which is now beyond messy to the point where I can’t even get through the door. Because of all this I’ve sort of put sales on my Etsy site on hold until I can do a decent stock take. I’ve got lots of ideas for some new cushion designs but I need to organise myself before I can make them. We’ve also still had / got a number of DIY projects on the go for the house – next big job is to build a summer house/ shed to replace the one in the orchard. Once this is built we can stop dumping garden furniture in the studio!

It was my birthday recently and I got the most amazing present from my hubby, something that I have swooned over for years – a KitchenAid. In pistachio. I’m totally in love with it and for anyone out there considering buying one I can highly recommend it. It makes baking so much quicker and easier and the results with the cakes are really impressive. That said I bought Mary Berry’s new cookery book, Absolute Favourites, which I think can also be attributed to the improvements – her recipes are fool proof, I adore her. I’ll post a proper review of that book soon I promise.

Merry Christmas

Phew, that’s the madness over for another year then. I hosted Christmas Day this year as my mum is recovering from a knee replacement still so the pressure was on to be up to her usual festive standards. Luckily this year we kept it small and there were just the six of us (us, my parents, my brother and his lovely girlfriend). I’d planned my menu a good few weeks in advance and I made sure I was off on Christmas Eve so that I could get as much of the prep done as possible to ensure I could enjoy the day as much as I could. This also gave me enough time to try and make the table look pretty, and have a go at creating a centre piece. Now I’ve never tried to make a flower arrangement before but I didn’t think that this was too bad an effort?!20141229-140609.jpg

I’ve discovered a great flower stall on Cambridge market, not sure how I’ve missed it all these years but I’ve promised myself I’ll take advantage of it now I’ve found it. My theme was white, grey and silver so I kept the flowers to these colours, the gypsophila I bought had a bit of added sparkle, which I wouldn’t usually be a fan of but it was very subtle and gave it a festive edge. A couple of crafty hours were spent making crackers (anyone else find them a lot harder to make than you thought they would?!) and a festive swag for our fireplace using ivy, holly and rosemary from the garden.

All in all I think Christmas Day was a success, we managed a festive walk before we had a late dinner and true to form everyone was stuffed (and groaning) and I’ve still got a whole shelf in the fridge full of cheese after I got carried away in the Cambridge cheese shop (well worth a visit if you love cheese as much as I do).

Merry Christmas everyone x

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Gearing up for a winter fair

Phew, where have the last few weeks gone? Things have been rather busy of late whilst I’ve been preparing for the Mill Road Winter Fair in Cambridge. If you’re local to the area chances are you’ll know all about this fabulous event – if you don’t then it really is worth a visit, there promises to be something for everyone.

I’ll be launching a new range at the fair – tea towels made with vintage and new fabrics, and show casing some new cushions which aren’t yet listed on my Etsy or Folksy shops. There’ll also be some festive bunting – see, it does work all year round…

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Aside from this, I’ve been thinking about how best to set up my stall, Pinterest has been really helpful in giving me some new ideas and I’ll be giving my plans a test run next weekend. From a customer perspective I think it’s really important that a stall not only looks inviting but encourages people to take a closer look, and hopefully then appreciate a unique handmade item.

If you’re in the area on the 6 December, pop along and say hello to myself and my merry little helpers x