Finding time to talk

I was talking to a friend last week about how we don’t find time to process difficult or even joyful emotions. How life just seems to sweep you by, things happen one moment and the next you have to just pick yourself up and keep moving. People around you probably think that you are strong and resilient for doing so, but how does this behaviour affect our mental health? Should our experiences and emotions not be confronted head on and processed over time? 

When I was pregnant I felt like I was in a little glowing bubble of joy. I was untouchable, nothing fazed me, I did not feel stressed or pressured. I just felt so happy knowing that I had this tiny human being growing inside of me. All of my anxieties and worries were gone, nothing could bring me down because all that mattered was our future as a family. 

I did not believe for a second that it was all going to be sweetness and light, of course it was going to be hard work. I had seen my sister bring up two children and she is a pro, I knew what was involved. It was that feeling of knowing that my baby was growing inside me, it blew my mind. It was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life.

After Cass was born my emotions were obviously all over the place, like any new parent. We were tired, a bit out of sorts, unsure of what was actually going on but I was still so happy. We had a beautiful baby boy.

When you are pregnant, especially for the first time there is a lot of focus on you as the mother, how you are feeling, how you are coping. Constantly being checked at the doctors, fighting for what kind of birth you want, making decisions. It is a lot to take on, stressful and overwhelming at times. A lot of focus is put on the pregnancy, no one really tells you what is coming. No one really prepares you for what happens after labour, all the focus is on what drugs you want when you are in labour, where you want to give birth and if your baby does not arrive in a specific time scale, what medical procedure will be thrown at you to make sure it does.

When Cass was around three months old I remember feeling very overwhelmed by everything. Due to Will’s work and not having any family close by, I was spending a lot of evenings alone and bedtimes were an absolute killer. Feeding all day and all night and trying to survive on a couple of hours sleep, it was too much. I felt totally isolated. I called the health visitor who came round and just talked, her support was amazing. She reassured me and it gave me the strength I needed to keep going. 

A few months ago I was returning to work, still getting zero sleep, really struggling with night feeds and the rest. I felt like a shell, but I just kept going. One day everything just crashed down around me, I couldn’t cope anymore. I had totally lost myself and shut down. Luckily for me I had some fantastic women around me, the support of my family to help me get back on track and an amazing doctor. 

Talking about what was happening and how I was feeling was not something that came easily, I had to swallow an absolute fuck-tonne of pride and face some mammoth demons. I realised at this moment I had to start taking better care of myself and making positive decisions about how I was going to look after my mental health.

Different people react in different ways to situations and mental health is very unique to each individual. For me, I do not take time, I rush through things and become engrossed in the next project or exciting life event and forget about how I am feeling at that exact moment. I am forever looking to the future and not taking time to enjoy ‘now.’ Sometimes I don’t want to enjoy ‘now,’ I want to forget about it, it is hardwork, crap, upsetting or stressful. 

In the past 14 months I have learned so much about my own mental health and emotions, I am working through, and confronting things that existed before Cass was born, which is a bit shit to be honest. I wish I would have just dealt with them at the time, but this is helping me learn and grow NOW so I do not make the same mistakes in the future. I am learning to deal with things and not bury them. I am taking time, albeit very small amounts of time to talk about how I feel, with friends and my husband. I am taking time to talk about both positive and negative emotions, learning from the good and the bad. I am being honest with myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. 

I cannot emphasise how much talking helps, find someone who will listen, anyone! A friend, family, the samaritans, your doctor no one should ever feel alone. Take strength from small achievements and always remember that you are enough. Fill your cup and take time, even if it’s just a minute to text a friend or hanging out at soft play with some other parents. Everyone has shit but we should never be alone.

Baby’s First Holiday 

I was going to write a really helpful post about taking your baby on a plane and it was going to be full of top tips on what to do and how to keep them entertained. 
However, I do not feel that my most recent experience has given me the authority to offer any such advice so here is 

‘Baby on a Plane – Winging it’ (see what I did)

✈️Number 1. 
Try and keep your little one awake on your journey through the airport so that they are tired and will sleep during the flight.

Reality- Ha! After a 4am wake up call he was some what wired by the time we boarded the plane. I can only compare the first 30 minutes to what it must be like to wrestle with a pissed off seal.

✈️Number 2
Create your baby, ‘activity sacks’ for the plane journey. Keep them engaged by showing them something new every 30 mins.
Reality – Empty the contents of your handbag on to your sleeping husband’s knee and let the fun commence. 
Include –

Two tampons

One broken selfie stick 

A small toothbrush

Car keys

A spoon

One cheese poof

✈️Number 3

Fill your iPhone with your little one’s top YouTube videos and cartoons

Totally forget to do this. So, pay £5 for some crappy aeroplane head phones. Prevent them from smashing the shit out of the small screen in the back of the chair in front, with the aforementioned broken selfie stick.

✈️Number 4

Pack lots of interesting and well thought out snacks for them to enjoy when they become hungry and restless.

Buy fruit pouches from the 24hour garage on the way to the airport at 5am.

✈️Number 5 

Make small bags of useful and jovial gifts for your surrounding fellow passengers to ease their pain should your little one become upset. The fact that this is so adorable should win them over regardless.  

Pray to God that you are surrounded by absolute nutters who will be making so much noise, that they do not even notice the barbaric screams coming from your teething, wired, wildling spawn.

✈️Number 6

Go on holiday with your family

Thanks family ❤️
Enjoy your Summer adventures everyone! ☀️

The Breast-Laid Plans

I absolutely love a plan. It does not necessarily have to be my plan, I am happy to go along with anyone’s plan really, I’m not a control freak I just like to know what’s going on. 

Cass is not into my plans and he makes this known. The uncertainty of parenthood is something that I’m still trying to get my head around, I just don’t know what’s coming next and I found this so hard in the beginning.

My birth plan had some, let’s say, last minute adjustments, as did our sleeping arrangements and my plans for introducing food didn’t go too well either. One thing I thought I was sure of though was breast feeding. 

I found breast feeding tough. Initially, it was the pain. I was in so much pain I ended up exclusively pumping at three weeks. At five weeks though the pain eased and we got into the swing of things. It has been an absolute roller coaster of emotions and at times so tough. I thought I knew what I was doing but again, it was in no way like I imagined. I was very lucky I received a lot of support from the midwives at the Salford Birth Centre and at a local feeding group. Not many women have this, no matter how they choose to feed their child.

I had planned to feed Cass until he was two. I thought that this was a done deal, babies love milk and I thought it would be me who may eventually crack and have to change the plan. A couple of weeks before Cass turned one he started to lose interest when being fed, he was easily distracted and began to push me away. I initially thought it may have been his teeth coming through or the heat, but as the days went on I noticed he wasn’t really taking any milk apart from first thing in the morning, when he was really hungry.

Shortly after Cass’s 1st birthday I made the decision to stop feeding him breast milk. At the time I thought ‘Cass is ready, I am ready.’ I had given it 100% for a year. I thought I’d be celebrating. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be, it was really tough. My hormones were all over the place, my supply went into over drive I ended up getting mastitis pretty badly. It was so painful and the only advice I could find was to feed or pump through it. 
I couldn’t feed Cass, I didn’t want to confuse him by making him take the milk just to ease my discomfort. Every time I pumped I could feel my milk come in and it was making it worse. I ended up on a course of antibiotics and tried to hand pump a small amount every couple of hours and eventually it died down. 

Cass on the other hand was totally ready. I had prepared myself for screaming and crying at bedtime and tantrums through out the day. I thought he would struggle and we would just go back to feeding. But no, he’s not even asked. I thought co-sleeping would definitely cause us problems too, but if anything he’s actually sleeping (a bit) better. At last. 

I do feel that stopping breast feeding so abruptly has a huge affect on your mental heath. My hormones were all over the place and I genuinely struggled. I think more women should be made aware if this. Mothers who choose not to breast feed at any point after labour must be going through these emotions, this on top of everything else is really tough and no one makes new mothers aware of it. 

I try to not worry about the planning anymore. I’m just getting through one day at a time and enjoying every moment. I’ll waste my life away planning for things that may never come, it feels so liberating to just let go.

I can tell that we are gonna be friends 

The people we know and meet make us who we are. I have many close friends from my past who know me better than I know myself, but new adventures and life events bring along new friendships. 

The beginning of motherhood can often be seen as quite a lonely time. Even when I went to baby groups and sessions I sometimes found that all I was doing was sitting in a corner staring at Cass and hoping that I’d meet someone who enjoyed my taste in music, fashion or sense of humour. Sometimes though it’s tough to break free of the ‘mum’ label and identify with those around us, especially in the early days. 

As life brings new experiences it also changes you. That doesn’t mean that I have had to forget who I was, I just like to think it adds to who I am. Part of me is happy that I am a little bit ‘Old Lucy’ and a little bit ‘Mum Lucy’. After 12 months I am happy to be wearing some of my pre-pregnancy clothes (really fucking happy) but I am also ok with the fact that I still wear my size 18 maternity knickers. They’re bloody comfy. 

My friends from before I had Cass are amazing and I love them, they form an important part of me, but life is ever changing and it’s important to make time for new people and friends too. I feel that as a woman and as a human I am constantly learning and evolving, I have learned so much from the fantastic people that I have had around me over the past 12 months.

Baby wearing not only gave me a wonderful way to bond and care for Cass, it also gave me an amazing, strong, fierce group of ‘mum’ friends. These wise women have helped and supported me more than they could ever know. 

This afternoon Jess from SUPU invited Cass and I to take part in a photo shoot with a group of our pals! It was an amazing experience and an absolute honour to be part of. Thanks so much Jess, we love you, can’t wait to see the photos. 

Here are a few sneaky snaps of my own ❤️

Now you are one

When I used to hear people say that their baby’s first birthday was coming up and they felt emotional, I’d think that they must be bonkers, but as Cass’s first birthday grows closer I feel like an emotional wreck, and yes, slightly bonkers.

What a year, I never thought such a tiny little thing could teach me so much. My heart could burst with love for this small human that has entered our lives. We are so lucky to be parents to a gorgeous, funny, healthy little boy. There have been times when I have felt that I have been pushed to the absolutely edge and there have been days and nights where I’ve thought that there is no way I’m going to get through this. Having a new baby has been exhausting, both mentally and physically but we have over come things that I never thought possible and I have learned so much about myself and other people.

My relationship with my husband has never been so strong, yes we probably talk a bit less and scroll a bit more, but looking after Cass has been the ultimate team building exercise. Not only have we shown the naysayers that you CAN make a fiat 500, a small baby and massive Doberman work. We have also become experts in surviving on 30 minutes sleep and have learned every single word to The Jungle Book sound track. 

As I look back over the past year, I remember exactly what was happened on this day twelve months ago and yes it is very emotional, I mourn for the excitement and uncertainty of what kind of parents we thought we would be and what our tiny little baby would show us, but as he grows his little personality is coming through and it has been amazing to see him change. 

This year has been full of emotions and terrifyingly amazing things and although I feel like we have reached a mile stone and the end of something, there is still so much more to go. Here’s to surviving the first year as three. 
Happy Birthday my amazing little Cass. 

The Best Laid (birth) Plans

I was determined to not be afraid of giving birth, as a woman I felt that I’d spent my whole life being informed of the horrors of pushing a small human being out of my vagina. That the agonising pain, like nothing on earth, would destroy me and I would never feel anything like it again, jokingly adding that it all would be worth it. Did it have to be this way? Why so much pain and fear?

My only experience of birth was from TV and movies. Often shown as rapid events consisting of lots of drama, pain, pushing, screaming, panic, more pain and blood. Yes, some of these elements are present during child birth but it’s not always like it is on the television or in the movies. 

I suppose I stuck my head in the sand. I didn’t want to know about the horror and the potential risks. It wasn’t that I was ignorant to it, I obviously knew that things may go wrong and medical intervention may be needed, but what good would worrying or preparing for the worst do? I felt it was more important to look for a positive birth experience and educate myself in the process. At the end of the day I trusted my body and the medical professionals, if something went wrong we’d deal with it head on rather than prepare for the worst possible outcome.

I read a lot about ‘Active Birth’ and the importance of keeping the body moving during pregnancy and labour, the role that oxytocin plays during child birth and the different stages of labour. Some basic science really helped me get my head around what a baby goes through to be born and how I could help make that journey a bit easier.

Again I found a lot of the birth preparation classes heavily focussed on the negatives. Pain relief, induction and what to do when things go wrong were the hot topics. After spending some time searching for alternatives, a friend recommended Hypnobirthing and we attended classes with The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme. 

I think Will wondered what I’d signed him up for, but we genuinely learned a lot about what other choices are out there for people. Hypnobirthing taught me a lot about managing situations, rationalising and making my own calm, informed decisions when it came to birth. We didn’t want to be another statistic with a ‘best fit’ birth plan, we wanted to do this in the way that worked best for us and our baby.

I was fit, healthy and low risk so I suggested a home birth. It just felt right, I like my house and I liked the idea of being close to my fridge and bed. I didn’t need any planned interventions or medication so it seemed silly to take up a bed in hospital when everything I needed was in my home.

Will was less easy to convince, it wasn’t an immediate no but just a wall of silence. For him, it was a lot to take it. I suppose deep down it was something I wanted to do as soon as I became pregnant but understandably he wanted to know that me and Cass were both going to be safe.

We had a pool in our kitchen and a plan in place. Will had stocked up on snacks and drinks and we were ready to go. I waited with excitement for the contractions to begin. They did begin but something didn’t feel quite right, the pain was constant, there were no breaks in between each contraction just horrific pain. After 17 hours of labour, 5 hours in the pool, enough gas and air to sedate a donkey and 2 paracetamol, I was 4cm dilated. My spirit had been broken.

A new midwife arrived and she took one look at me and said that the baby was ‘back to back’ which explained the constant pain. At this point Cass still needed to turn to get into the correct position and this could take 2 hours or 10 hours. I was so tired and felt deranged from the pain. I was being sick and felt like I needed to get out of my house. I told the midwife I wanted to go to the hospital, I wanted all the drugs, I wanted him to be sucked out or I wanted a cesarean. She told me to stop over reacting, everything was fine, he was just taking a bit longer to get here.

In my head though I knew that I needed a change of scenery, my lovely home suddenly felt small and claustrophobic, it smelled strange and there were too many people. The wonderful midwife made a few phone calls and pulled a few strings and it was decided that I could go to the midwifery led birthing unit in Salford. There were no drugs available and I definitely wouldn’t be getting my recent elective cesarean but it was a change of scenery. 

We arrived at the Midwifery Unit at Salford Royal at 2pm and after a few more demands for ‘all the drugs’ and a small amount of ‘I told you a wanted a cesarean’ Cassius Edwin came into the world at 3pm. There was no drama, no fierce pushing and no panic. 

During those final 15 minutes after my waters had broken I listened to my body, I breathed though the final contractions and rested when they dulled. I remembered everything I had learned through the Active Birth and Hypnobirthing classes, about breathing my baby out and putting my body in an optimum position for birth. 

After we were both checked over we were allowed to go home. My husband and the staff at Salford Royal Midwifery Unit were unbelievable. I didn’t get the birth that I had ‘planned’ for but I did get the birth that was right for me and my baby. I had learned enough before hand to understand my body and realise what I needed to do. Luckily I had a fantastic midwife who helped me when I lost sight of what I wanted but during those final 15 minutes I felt calm and in control. 

Not everything goes to plan during child birth and not everyone has a choice. But I don’t think many women are encouraged to look for other opinions and move away from a traditional ‘best fit’ birth plan. I encourage all parents to ask questions about what is available to them. 

Women should be made to feel confident about child birth, not scared. 

For My Husband 

Three years ago we had just bought our first home, both returned to University to follow our dreams and you had proposed to me in the middle of our rubble filled kitchen. Everything was exciting and a little scary but we had each other and it was amazing. At the start of Winter I found out I was pregnant, it was fantastic news that added to the chaos and excitement of everything else that was going on in our lives. You quietened my anxieties with your calm, positive outlook on everything. Telling me, all we needed was each other, together we are strong. You knew that we could do this. 

Just before Christmas you collected me from a placement that I had at a school in Manchester. It was cold and it had been raining, at the time we had a second hand electric blue Peugeot 206, I loved that car. I was so tired but Christmas was nearly here and everyone was coming to us for Christmas dinner. I don’t remember much about the car crash, I remember being hysterical, I remember a lady taking me into the back of her car out of the rain, I remember sitting in a waiting room full of pregnant women waiting for a scan only to be told that our baby was no longer there. But you held me, you told me everything was going to be ok, we have each other and together we are strong.

The following months were hell. I was broken, nothing prepared me for the emotional hell that follows a miscarriage. I couldn’t function, but you were strong despite your pain. You were strong for me, you looked after me for months. A depression took over me, but you were there, you were my rock.

Now we are married, we have a beautiful baby boy, life is wonderful, hard and tiring but wonderful still. You have been there through everything, all the weirdness of pregnancy, the beauty of birth and the drama of breast feeding. You have supported my every decision and every idea and allowed me to be the mother I wanted to be to our little boy. 

You have supported, listened and cared for me even though at times you have been broken and in pain. Together we are strong and we’ll always have each other. 

Hubertine Joséphine B. En Jean

A very good friend of mine sent me to The Wrap Show with some words of advice, pick up a Hubertine. I had heard of the brand before but I had never tried any Hubertine wraps, so I was unsure. Stupidly I didn’t follow the advice of my good friend and came away Hubertine-less.

Luckily a wonderful lady contacted me online to let me know that she had managed to get herself Josèphine B. En Jean and would I like to borrow it for a few weeks. Obviously I couldn’t say no.

Hubertine is a French company, it was originally established by two mothers with a love and passion for babywearing and textiles. Atelier 
Hubertine wraps are created by French craftspeople at every step of production. The wraps are woven in a family run workshop using traditional jacquard weaving techniques. Hubertine maintains the highest standards, demanding the best and most beautiful products. 

Joséphine B. en Jean does not disappoint, it is the most beautiful wrap that I have ever used. The blend 84% cotton and 16% merino is perfect, the wrap weighs 300gsm, feels thin in hand but is supportive and has a strength like nothing I’ve seen before. 

The colours shine and glow, and the intricate and detailed trade mark design looks exquisite in this colour way. The wrap glides into place and holds like a bandage. The blend combined with the relief from the design, ensures that the wrap stays in place. 

The weather has been so beautiful but very hot over the past week. I found En Jean cool and breathable, which for me is an important factor when considering which wraps I will use over the Summer. Cass gets hot very quickly and easily becomes agitated and upset when even slightly warm. He remained cool on my back in a double Hammock, and dozed off immediately. 

I am so glad that I got to try Hubertine, especially En Jean. If I get chance, one of these fantastic wraps will definitely be coming to live with us. I have been blown away by the quality and beauty of Hubertine, I understand why this beautiful French company is so popular. Thank you Hubertine, we love you! 

Hygge Linen

This wrap has had me curious for quite sometime and I honestly thought that it would pass me by. However, this weekend was full of wonderful surprises and a little patience was rewarded. Hygge Mono Linen is an 82% cotton, 18% Linen, double weave and weighs 242 g/sm. 
Initially I thought that Linen was visually identical to Cotton Mono but I was wrong. Linen is raw. The white side has an air of imperfection, with black flecks glinting through the white weave, creating perfect grey tones and giving the wrap a scrunched linen look. In direct contrast the black side is neat and tight, with the trade mark Hygge design looking much bolder and punchy than Mono cotton. The mono tones in Linen feel cool and icey, where as Cotton seemed to have a warmer look and feel to it. Linen feels like a true mono, I find it much easier to wear but this may be down to my skin tone.

As usual we were running late to meet some friends at the park and the first time I wrapped with Linen it was a rushed job. It didn’t matter, Linen wraps with ease, the passes glided into place and it held tight. For a wrap that feels so thin in hand and a less than perfect Double Hammock, Cass was weightless. This grippy wrap held with no digging at all and what amazed me the most was how cool and breathable it is. Even in the heat, Cass napped on my back for over two hours. 

Another absolute triumph for Ali Dover, this beautiful wrap does not disappoint. I wonder what the future will bring for lovers of this fantastic designer. 

Real Nappy Week

It’s Real Nappy Week and we are loving our cloth bums!

Initially the thought of using cloth nappies filled me with genuine horror. Giving birth and breast feeding just seemed like enough for me and why on earth would I want to add more washing to my already mountainous pile of tiny dirty clothes?

After the dust had settled I became very aware of the huge amount of waste this tiny little person was creating. At his peak Cass was getting through 15 nappies a day as well as all the baby wipes. It just felt wrong filling the bin every day with items that are designed to never decompose. On top of all the guilt, the council then decided to collect the bins every three weeks. I did not want to to experience a three week old nappy at the height of Summer.

So we decided to make the switch to cloth nappies. There are lots of styles and brands out there and what works for one family might not necessarily work for another. I was initially very confused and intimidated by the whole idea, I didn’t want to throw money away buying the wrong product. After asking a few questions at our baby group, I found lots of parents who were willing to offer advice and lend us a few nappies to see what we thought before taking the plunge. There are also lots of groups on social media that can help you and answer any questions that you may have. 

We chose to order Tots-bots nappies through Babi-Pur. Babi-Pur do a starter pack which included 3 different styles of nappy so we could see what worked best for us. Their service is quick and they send a discount code with every order.

When I found Tots-Bots I loved them because of the Velcro fastening at the front, I found the poppers on other brands fiddly and hard work. The Velcro made the nappies quick and could be adjusted with ease. 

We tried three different nappy styles from Tots-bots, Peenut, Bamboozle and Easy-Fit. The Peenuts are my favourite, they consist of two pads and a wrap. The wrap is water proof and the pads just pop inside, the whole thing comes apart and dries very quickly. I also put in a fleece  reusable liner to protect and draw away moisture from the skin. We did try disposable liners but they just stuck to Cass’s bum and stressed me out.

The Easy-Fit are just one whole piece that folds up. You can put in inserts to add extra absorbency, they are fantastic as they never leak but I find that they do take some time to dry so we only have a couple.

We use Bamboozles at night time, they are a complete towel nappy with inserts for extra absorbency, to ensure that they dont leak a water proof wrap goes over the top. 

I can honestly say that the switch was a lot easier than I expected. The nappies are washed on a 40° cycle with antibacterial washing detergent and are line dried. Although the initial spend was around £14 per nappy, we were spending an absolute fortune on disposables every week. The reusable nappies never leak and they keep Cass’s bum nice and dry. We invested in a pack of reusable fleece liners, which not only protect the nappy, but also draw moisture away from the skin. 

When we are out and about I just fold the reusable nappy up and store in a water proof wet bag. I sort it out with the others when I get home. 

I’m amazed at how fantastic cloth nappies are and I feel so much better about reducing the amount of waste we produce as a family. There is a lot of support out there to get you started through Cloth Nappy Libraries or local baby groups. Some local councils even offer incentives for switching to reusable nappies to reduce waste. 

What we use

▪️7 cloth nappies, (Tots-Bots easy fit and Peenuts)
▪️Tots-Bots reusable fleece nappy liners
▪️A wet bag for travelling