I am Motherless Mother

Tuesday, 10 April 2018
... who will I learn from?

I hope this post doesn’t sound too whoa is me but it’s been something I wanted to write down for a while. Something that often pops into my mind, out of nowhere and floors me for a day or two and yet it is something, which in other ways, is with me all the time. This is about me as a motherless mother.


Being a motherless mother can present it's self in many different ways, for me it's being a new mum who lost her mum before she was pregnant. 

I lost my mum almost 9 years ago to breast cancer. I was 24 she was 52. My mum fought cancer for 5 years and although we were somewhat prepared for her passing there was something inside me that still thought she would beat it, even up to three days before she left us. I guess that something was denial or even niaevity...

My mum didn’t know a lot of things about me. She didn’t know the career I’d choose, she didn’t know where I’d set up home or if I’d get married and she didn’t know if I’d become a mum. I guess at 24 I would’ve made comments about maybe never wanting children and I know that would’ve made her sad because she would’ve loved to of been a nanny and my goodness what an amazing one she would’ve been.

 

So fast forward 9 years to where I am now. A mum of a four month old, without my mum around. I appreciate that a lot of people don’t have their mums on their doorstep but even having them at the end of the phone to let off pregnancy steam and new mum worries must be such huge support.

I no longer have the person who I know was my biggest fan, to cheer me up on those harder days. Those days that can be filled with self doubt about my mummy decision making. 

How am I supposed to know if I'm doing this motherhood thing right when she isn't around to learn from? 

She’s not there for the advice giving, the encouragement and the patting on the back that only mums do in their mum way. She’s not here to cuddle Theo for 5 minutes and make me go and get some rest when I'm sleep deprived. She's not here to tell me that I'm doing the new parent job well.

Life is so different from when she was here, beyond recognition in some parts. She’s missing but from something she was never apart of, so how can she be so missed? 

What are the hardest parts? Perhaps seeing other nans/grandmas doing the job I know my mum would’ve been an absolute pro at. Those moments are hard. Family gatherings where I see other children being surrounded by grandparents and a feeling of jealously almost, hits me on behalf of my own child who doesn't have that. Those are are hard. Thinking back on the impact my own grandmother's made on my life and worrying that Theo will resent not having that. Those are moments are hard too.

Due to unfortunate circumstances Theo only has one grandparent who also isn't on the doorstep, so perhaps the whole motherless mother situation feels heightened at times for me, I don't know.

I wake up everyday so grateful for the little family we're creating and so happy with the amount of love me and my husband are surrounding Theo with. I'm happy with the love that we have for each other but loosing my mum left a huge hole in my life. that hole took on a new form when I became pregnant.

I miss her and I think about how wonderful it would've been to see her with Theo and play the Nanny Pat role that she no doubt longed for. An almost childish sentiment of "it's not fair" comes over me at times. Not fair for me, not fair for Theo.

But as I go further into this new motherhood role, I'll hopefully handle it in a way that would've made her proud and begin to trust my own instinct more as I see that I'm actually doing an ok job.

Although I am now motherless I will be forever grateful that I was mothered and more importantly, by her.



Amy x

A Gender Neutral Nursery - Theo's Room

Wednesday, 4 April 2018
... the main concept for the room was calm with muted tones.











From the moment I found out we were expecting, my attention shifted to the nursery. 

We always thought the small room in the house would be the nursery but after a little thought we decided to sacrifice the guest room to make room for the baba. We decided this for a few reasons;

- It was at the back of the house so would be quieter
- It's one of the few rooms in the house that has double glazing (we've kept the original windows in most rooms) so would be much warmer
- It was a big room so could become more than just a place to sleep but also a place to play

I started planning the room in the place I normally start... PINTEREST! We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl at this point and didn't want this to determine the look of the room, so one search of "gender neutral nursery" on the beloved app and there were reams of inpsiration to get us started.

There were a few must have's to get me started...

- the cot
- a changing station
- a nursing chair
- book nook

I also stated to think of a theme but didn't want it to be overthemed so in the end just chose things that I liked. A bit of woodland/bohemian/adventure! But all in muted neutral colours. A calm space for a place to feed, sleep and play. So here are some of my favourite elements of the room.

The Cot


I think the cot was the first thing we bought. We had a lot of furniture that we had in this room already which was perfect for the nursery. All white, lots of storage. We chose the cot from MoKee. It had the simple look I was after and with the addition of the beech wood, add a little interest to the simple white furniture. I changed the door handles of the furniture to match the beech wood on the cot and although simple, made a big difference of bring everything together. The wardrobe was from Ikea 

The Nursing Chair and
Book Nook
With us being so lucky with the size of the nursery I really wanted to treat us to a nursing chair. I wished for a dream Baby Grey chair for a while and when I was shown one of the new designs I was sold.
 

We went for the Nelli Rocker in the pale grey chenille with wooden legs, in fact it was the very first Nelli Rocker! It was an investment but I'm so glad we bought it because it has been invaluable for feeding in comfort and it's fast becoming not only the nursing chair but also the story telling chair. It's just beautiful!

The Changing Station


I really liked the idea of making the changing station a feature of the room but didn't spend a fortune on a changing unit that wouldn't be used for long. Instead we used an Ikea chest of drawers with Ikea shelves above to display useful baby bits and some favourite toys. AND Theo's famous hat collection!!! I loved the changing mat baskets that I had seen on Pinterest but couldn't stretch to one so I customised a charity shop Moses basket by just cutting it down to size. I bought a new mattress for it and it became the perfect place to change Theo in those early days. The basket has now become a 'Treasure Basket' and is filled with lots of natural finds ready for him to explore in the future.


The Details
As I said earlier, when playing the room I didn't want to go with an obvious theme but preferred to just chose items which I loved. 





A sort of woodland/mountain 
theme has started in the nursery which came with these beautiful mountain display shelves made MJM Bespoke.

 
 


I also loved these prints from The Crown Prints which I found on Etsy and just printed them at home. 











I'm so thrilled with how the nursery looks. It took me a while to get it to exactly how I wanted it but I think it's perfect now. It's also already been adapted to make room for Theo as he grows and his interests develop. 








It's not just a place to sleep but a place to play, feed and cuddle and we use it all the time. It's one of my favourite rooms in the house and we love spending time together in here. 

I've tried to link as many of the products as I can without it becoming a shopping list but if there is anything that catches your eye and I haven't said where it is from, feel free to ask.

Amy x

Breastfeeding Must Haves

Monday, 19 March 2018
Today I'm going to be recommending a few products that helped me through breast-feeding. From the very early days to present day...

If you have read my previous blog post about breastfeeding you'll know that it wasn't plain sailing. There were a few products that I really wanted to recommend if you intend to breastfeed. Some of these items helped saved breastfeeding for me, it might sound dramatic but they really did. I hope you find something in here useful. 

Click on the headings to find where to buy from.


Nursing Pillow
Such an important piece of kit for both
breast and bottle feeding. I love ours (exact one pictured)especially for the early days. Theo would drop off after a feed and the little pillow attachment made him look so comfy. I still use it now. Feeding in positions that are not comfortable for you will give you terrible back ache so do make sure you get one of these.

Medela Swing Breast Pump
I expressed from around day 10-14. I really wanted Theo to be able to take a bottle, so that we had more flexibility if required. I haven't used any other electric pumps but I really rate the Medela. If you could stretch to the double pump I would say go for it. Pumping is BORING and anything to get that job done quicker is a bonus.

Haakaa Breast Pump
What is this wizardry?! A non electric hands free breast pump?? It'll never work.. well it does! And if you can't afford the double pump get one of these. If you can afford the double pump also get one of these. It's my new best friend. I use it to speed up expressing in the evening and I also use it in the morning if Theo has slept through a feed at night. It just takes the edge off when feeling a little engorged and I can collect perhaps 2-3oz with zero effort! It's actually designed to collect the let down from one breast when you're feeding on the other one but I personally find that a bit fiddly. 

Nursing Bras and Sleep Bras
They're not the prettiest of things but they are an essential. The best looking one that I've found is the one pictured from JoJo Maman Bebe. Marks and Spencer are probably the best quality and do get measured when you're about 37 weeks pregnant. You size will change so much. Also, maybe it was just me but I completely didn't think about the fact I'd have to be sleeping in a bra (to hold the breast pads in place) unless you don't mind waking up in a puddle of milk! So I went for the JoJo Maman Bebe sleep bras. 

Breast Vest
I haven't bothered too much with specific nursing clothes but more with nursing vests underneath regular clothes. The breast vest is a genius piece of clothing! No fiddly bits of material to fold down or tuck away. Really great idea.

Nipple Cream
It's pricey but you NEED it. I would never of continued to breast feed without this product. There's no need to wash it off to feed so it also works like a barrier cream. Once your boobies aren't so sore it's a great lip balm!!!


Breast Pads
I got through a fair amount of these whilst waiting for my supply to settle down. I still wear them now to stop any unfortunate moments. If it wasn't for these I wouldn't be able to wear grey clothes! Ha!


I think this list is fairly extensive to get you going. I asked my husband if he could think of anything else that was required to breastfeed and he said "a strong will and ounces of resolve" but I couldn't find a shopping link for that!!!

Anyway, I hope that has helped you out somewhat and I wish you lots of luck. 

Amy x

Breastfeeding and tongue tie - Our story.

Saturday, 17 March 2018
When I first fell pregnant I felt pretty relaxed about whether I would breastfeed or not... 

... then once I saw Theo's natural instinct kick in and watched him search for a feed from my breast, a switch flicked and I so desperately wanted it to work.


I think my relaxed attitude came from not being breastfed myself and not many people in my family had been or were breastfeeding. I went to the classes and made notes (very studious) and thought we'll just see how we go.

Theo's first feed seemed to go well. It was the second and third feed where the trouble started. If you have read our birth story, you'll know that we spent a few days on a high dependency ward after delivery and as wonderful as the care I received was, the breastfeeding support was non existent. 

Theo wouldn't latch AT ALL and every time I asked for support someone would turn up in the room, congratulate me for hand expressing 1ml, we'd syringe it into Theo's mouth and we'd be left again. 1ml!!!! Theo was a hungry baby, 1ml wasn't keeping him satisfied for anymore than 20 minutes. 

After two days, lots of tears and not a lot of milk, my husband called for some support from a family member, a nurse who works on a Neo Natal ward and helps the new mums breast feed the prem babies. She came to our rescue, Theo finally latched on and had a huge feed! We've got this, I thought... we didn't have it. 

Another couple of days in hospital and his feeding deteriorated again. This time a midwife diagnosed him with tongue tie but said we could still feed, we just had to keep persevering and feed through the pain. A day or two later and it was time for us to leave the hospital. I'm convinced we left with a starving baby, he showed all the signs, but my notes read "breastfeeding well" so we were sent on our way without any concern.

Four days with Theo and both nipples were already severely cracked, it was time to break into the emergency bottle of formula. This is how it continued for the next three days, trying to get Theo to latch at every feed and topping him up with formula if he didn't seem satisfied. It was so difficult! I even spent one evening crying down the phone to a stranger from Le Leche League after it all just seemed a bit too overwhelming for me.

My milk finally came it on day six but it still didn't get any easier, not for another six weeks.

I was now exclusively feeding him (apart from one bottle of expressed milk that his dad would feed him in the evening). I was producing enough milk, but the pain, oh the pain! I've never felt anything like it and sometimes Theo would want to feed for an hour and a half at a time. Six weeks of me crying almost every time I fed Theo. Wincing every time he showed that he needed feeding and knowing how uncomfortable I was about to feel. It was time to get some more support... this can't be how it's supposed to be but yet I still really really wanted it to work.

I took myself to our local feeding group when Theo was six weeks old. Bee, who runs the group took one look at Theo, after I showed her my very sore boobies and she diagnosed tongue tie again and insisted we got it dealt with ASAP! 

After lots of emails and phone calls we finally got an appointment for Theo to have the tongue tie cut when he was nine weeks old. When I bought him home after the procedure he couldn't latch... again. I cried ... again. I thought we'd lost breastfeeding, but he just needed to retrain. 

I think it took around three-four weeks for me to notice any difference but finally feeding was pain free. Three months of being in the most discomfort and I was only just starting to understand the joy of breastfeeding.

Our breastfeeding story isn't a great one but I don't think it is that uncommon, often because of the lack of support women get, particularly in hospital. Thankfully there are groups out there that can support you, we still go to ours every fortnight, I love it there!

Establishing breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I have ever done and I'm not really sure anyone ever prepared me for that. Maybe if I'd of looked for the stories when I was pregnant I would've realised but as I said earlier it wasn't ever something I thought I was that bothered about, until it seemed it was something I couldn't do. But that probably just says a lot about my personality! Ha!

I'm so glad I stuck with it, but when I think about how pain free it is now, I do wonder if I was a bit stupid to keep putting myself through that amount of pain. Serious pain!

I'm going to leave you with a few tips that might help you if you're struggling. Also know that my discomfort does seem like a bit of an extreme case (I think) and it does get easier, in time. Probably quicker than the three months it took us!
                                                     



Tips to work through breastfeeding

- Breastfeeding IS painful, they say if it is then you're doing it wrong but not in those first few weeks. If it's still uncomfortable after 2-3 weeks, go and find support but yes, those first feeds are not (usually) all that pleasant. 

- Take each feed at a time and give yourself credit when you get through a feed. It really is a great feeling when you think about what your body is doing.

- Get your partner to support you. If it wasn't for my husband I'm not sure I would still be breastfeeding now. 

- Go to a support group, seriously get to one! Their knowledge and time is invaluable.

- Nipple cream will be your best friend and you'll panic if you can't find it!

- Stay hydrated because constipation when feeding is just awful!

- Formula is not the devil's milk and if you want to do a combination of breast and formula in those early days, do! Theo was just too hungry to wait for 6 days for my milk to come in.

- Introduce a bottle of EBM once breastfeeding is established so that your baby doesn't become averse to a bottle.

- Lastly, I used to look at women in coffee shops feeding their babies and think "it looks easy enough" but it's taken me a good few months to get to that point. It is one of the most natural things to do but it's definitely something you both need to learn and work at. Now we're (almost) pros and I can honestly say I absolutely love breastfeeding my baby!

I might follow this post up with some products that also helped me along the way, let me know if this is something you would be interested in. 

I hope this has helped you and if you have anything you think I might be able to help further with, please ask.

Outtake!!!! 
Amy x

A positive - not perfect, birth story.

Sunday, 11 March 2018
I had a “practically perfect pregnancy” (Cristina the midwife, 2017) so really I should’ve guessed the birth wouldn’t be so spot on.

In the build up to having my first, I researched the fudge out of labour. Honestly, I studied it harder than I did my GCSE’s. I can’t tell you the amount of positive birth stories I watched on YouTube, all these women having the most beautiful births. I’m going to have one of those of my own... enter a not so well positioned baby and those thoughts kind of have to go by the wayside.

Now before I carry on I think it’s important to point out that although my birth story isn’t a story of the most beautiful birth, it is a story of an intervention full BUT positive birth. If, like me when preparing for bringing a baby into the world, you want to fill your mind with the most beautiful of ideals, that’s fine! BUT I’m writing my story because I only wish I would’ve done a little more research into what happens when the plan has to change. So if you think that might help you read on, if not then don’t. I TOTALLY get that. I probably wouldn’t of wanted to read this either back then.




So I guess I’ll start at 40 + 4. The pool was in the nursery already to go, we were going for a home birth, and a midwife was coming along to see me for possibly the last time. She checked me over and told me despite what the charts said all along (an average baby) she thought he’d be more along the lines of 6lb 10... great! This is going to be so beautiful!!! FYI the charts can be wrong, he came out at 9lb 4!!!!

The following evening my waters broke, around midnight and then it started. The surges were fine, nothing I couldn’t handle. Not close together but felt fairly strong, strong enough to not allow me to have any sleep, sleep which was strongly advised by the midwife at the end of the phone at 2am.

Now basically that was that for this part but unfortunately this part lasted 24 hours. Surges strong, but with no rhyme or rhythm, 3 in 15 minutes - 1 in 20 minutes. Hopping in and out the pool to get things going, walking around and around the street, up and down the stairs, in and out the shower! I hadn’t been so active in weeks.

Eventually things started to crank up a notch, apparently I was making “transitional sounds” and our gorgeous midwife kept disappearing behind me to see if he was here yet, nope, still no baby. She checked his heartbeat and at this point, as I relaxed in the pool between the surges 24 hours in, there was a dip in his heart rate. We changed positions, this time out of the pool and onto our bed, heart beat checked again... another dip.

And this is the point the beautiful ideal changed. It was standard procedure to have to transfer to the hospital at this point, two heart rate dips and constant monitoring is required. As we waited for the ambulance I had my first examination.. 7.5cm wow!! All that way with nothing but a bit of gas and air... a new calm came over me. I remember the midwife saying “he might still arrive before the ambulance” ha! Nope!!!

When we arrived at hospital it was back to where we were at home, surges sporadic and no more dips in the heart rate... typical! So I carried on doing what I was doing for another 6 hours.


So here we are 30 hours in... I can’t keep doing this. I’ve been awake for almost two days. So what are the options? My birth plan said I can do this at home with gas and air.... I think it’s time that plan got adapted. I remember Lynn (ah Lynn) another gorgeous midwife asking me if I could do this for another 30 hours, I think the look on my face suggested otherwise! An epidural was ordered so I could try and get some rest... 3 hours later a second examination, guess what, you’re 7.5cm. Whoopie di do, I was that 9 hours ago!

This birth needed to happen, so out came more drugs, the induction drug, cranked up to the most they could give me. Another 3 hours later, still no baby...enter Ian.


Ah Ian, Super Consultant Ian, who had informed me for all the attempts I was making this baby “is a toad, and has decided to come out with his head on the side. Basically you can carry on trying but it’s looking highly unlikely you’ll be able to do this without any help." I remember at this point begging for a c section! Me, the only natural/water birth/hypnobirthing mum to be, begging for a c section. Must’ve been serious!!!

I didn’t get the c section I (apparently) wanted, instead Super Ian got him out with a fair bit of force and some forceps. Which in the end, resulted in a fair amount of blood loss and a stay on the high dependency ward for myself... but that’s another not perfect but positive story.

Anyway, the main reason I want to share my birth story is because even though it was at times stressful and pretty scary, it may seem strange that I can say it was nothing but positive.

We took a class in Hypnobirthing at 20 weeks pregnant and I honestly think if it wasn’t for that course my mind would’ve been in a very different place. It helped me to stay calm and focused when things weren’t going to plan.

The care we received during labour also helped things stay positive. The midwives and consultants are honestly super humans. I never once doubted them and put all of my trust into them helping us make informed decisions about our birth. They ensured as much of our 'Birth Plan' would be honoured and respected although it looked very different to the initial ideas. So positive in fact that 4 weeks after Theo’s arrival someone asked me if I could do it all again... hell yer!!! Look at what is here for all the effort! Now I'm not saying I felt this positive the about the experience the following day but once the sleep deprivation and hormones had settled down, I could see Theo's birth for what it was. Not perfect - but positive. 

We will try for a second, I’m not scared or put off and we think we will try to complete it all at home, in a pool, like we wanted, our incredible aftercare has told us it is possible that could happen. 



But if it turns out that that baby wants to, in the words of Super Consultant Ian, be a toad and have a little help getting here, that’s fine too.



Any which way these little ones want to arrive is fine by me but if you could do it a little quicker than 36 hours that would make me a little happier and much less sleepy.

The Tessuti 'Lisa' Dress...

Monday, 3 August 2015
... Summer Sewing.

All I seem to be doing, at the moment, is stitching up pieces for my summer holiday wardrobe. Expect the next few blog posts to be all about sewing summer dresses. I've had my eye on the Tessuti Lisa dress for a while and finally found some fabric which I thought would suit this beautifully.

My usual fabric shop, Barry's Fabrics in Digbeth, Birmingham, came up trumps again with this heavy cotton (almost denim) blue with white polka dot fabric. This is a little out of my comfort zone but I felt like being brave and I think it paid off, I love this fabric!

Now, just before I talk about the Lisa dress pattern, I just want to warn you that this blog post maybe a little boring! Why?? Well because Tessuti patterns are just so darn tooting good!!!!

I have used Tessuti patterns before, I made the Lily dress when I first started sewing and I was so greatful for such clear instructions. It's the same again with this one. An easy peasy, print at home pattern, means I had a beautiful new dress in about 4 hours!





So, what is so great about this dress? Well everything really. The shape, the super clear instructions... but what I really love are the pockets.

I'm not sure how or why anything would be designed without pockets. These ones are nothing to be scared of, even if you are a beginner.











The button placket was a part of the pattern that I thought would get me into a bit of a confused muddle but again, with the clarity of the instructions, it was done without me even thinking about it. First time, no unpicking and perfect button placement. It could've been a fluke but I really don't think so. As long as you just follow what is in front of you, Tessuti have got your back!  







 
I also love the gathered waist of this dress. I do really like gathered waists on most dresses or skirts. What's great about this one is that it has a contoured high waist line. I feel it just adds a bit of interested to a simple design. Also the high waist line is going to be perfect for concealing the holiday tum that I'll no doubt gain, from eating ice creams everyday and fish and chips by the sea, when we go to Whitby next week.


I am really happy with the first of my holiday makes and think I will be making this dress again before too long. I want to make a plain blue denim or black one so that I can layer it during autumn time, but let's not think about cooler days just yet!


























Thanks Tessuti for another great pattern. I'll be sure to try out another one soon.

Amy x

Lavender and Orange Cupcakes...

Monday, 20 July 2015

...a recipe for grown up cupcakes. 

Hi folks, I'm really excited to share this recipe with you today. I haven't made cupcakes in such a long time, so I've dusted off the Kitchenaid and made these ones, which I think are just perfect for the summer months. 




These cakes are so simple, I know I say that all the time but these really are. I am not a professional baker in the slightest so if it's on this blog it's easy... trust me! 

On with the recipe.

You will need:



6 lavender flowers (plus extra for decoration)
125g lightly salted butter
125g caster sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 an orange
2 eggs
150g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

And for the icing...

150g icing sugar
6-7 teaspoons of orange juice
Purple food colouring (I used gel colouring)


How to make them:

First, line your cake tray with 12 cup cake cases and pre heat your oven to 180 degrees c. Next, cream the butter and the sugar together, until you make a smooth and creamy mixture which is very light in colour. 

Now you need to add all of the ingredients but leave the eggs to one side, just for the moment.



Just to let you know, if your lavender is still in flower when you add them, pull the flowers out of the bud first (not sure that is exactly what I mean!?) and then pull the bud away from the steam and put both the flowers and the buds in the bowl. The picture above should show you what I mean. Before you add the buds to the mixture, give them a little squeeze to release more lavender loveliness and combine all of the mixture.




Next, beat the two eggs in a small bowl and then add the egg slowly whilst mixing the cake mixture. 




Once all of the ingredients are well mixed together you will have a classic looking cake mix. Evenly distribute the cake mix between the cake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until risen and just firm to touch. 




Transfer the cooked cupcakes on to a wire rack and leave them to cool completely before decorating. 

Decoration:

I can not, never been able to, never will be able to, decorate cakes beautifully with all the swirly whirly icing. It's just too hard! But runny icing I can do, so these cakes were perfect.





Make the icing the same way you would with water but use orange juice instead. Add the orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, until the icing is the consistency of thin glacĂ© icing. You want the icing to trickle over the edges of the cakes. Add the purple food colouring a tiny bit at a time so that you make a soft lilac colour. 

Before the icing sets completely you need to decorate them with beautiful, edible, flowers. I decided to use lavender and viola, both picked from my own garden. 


Look how beautiful they are! So simple, yet so pretty. The colours just say summer to me and the taste... mmmmmhmmmm! 

I'd like to make these again and host a little garden tea party. I wonder what other cakes I could make with more flowers from my garden... rose water cupcakes decorated with roses? Ideas!!!


Enjoy x