Do your boobs hang low….

Sorry but this parody always springs to mind when the discussing the delightful swing of the ol’ boobs and boy do they swing these days.

Since having had the two boys, expressing for twelve months and breastfeeding for fifteen months, they certainly aren’t as perky and full bodied as they once were. In fact I think back to those pre baby days and I don’t know why I didn’t embrace their loveliness when I had the chance, instead I will have to mourn them and live life with the lifeless wind socks that seem to have taken their place.

Anyway in my days of mourning and way past the comforts of soft and stretchy feeding bras I am now well and truly back into the land of underwired bras – the highlight of my day is climbing into my pajamas and ridding myself of the tortures of bra induced welts across my side and back, I’ve been in desperate need of something that fitted me without torturing me and looked good…and pretty. So when I was asked if I would come and look over the selection of beautiful brassieres in our local lingerie shop, I couldn’t wait to find a hidden gem that would transform these spaniel ears back to their former glory.

Now I had already been to Foundations in Nantwich after I had my youngest son as I knew they did feeding bras, and having endured a year in ill fitting Mothercare’s own (that was entirely my own fault) with my eldest I wanted something better, something more comfortable. However since that one shopping trip I allowed myself nearly two years ago Foundations has been taken over by two fabulous fellow mums who have brought it back into the modern era stocking beautiful bras in an array of shapes, styles and colours. Now the challenge would be to find something for me as I am on the other side of the normal range of bra sizes. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like in the underwear department if I had been more on the DD side of life rather than the F-G. Although A LOT has changed over the years in the potential range available, I still find its not an easy task to endure.

Upon visiting the shop I was greeted by one half of the managing duo Karen, and what a wonder she was. I pretty much tried on every bra in the whole shop and with each one that I tried, she checked, assessed, disappeared off and returned with something new to replace it, nothing phased her and neither did she laugh hysterically at some of the not so sexy sights. Now I have to say I have a style that I like and I know that works for me, however I was willing to embrace all that Foundations has to offer in style and cut and man what a laugh some of them were.

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Now I know they look stunning on the beautiful women that model them but some of the bras I tried on were hilarious. I was looking for lift, a bit of structure….just some ooomph to breathe some life back into these sad boys but some of the styles looked like I had tennis balls dangling in a pair of socks….and sheer designs, sorry but that is a no no, like a face squashed against a glass pane, my nipples resembled a face squidged against pretty lace gurning as they stare at you in a very unsexy manner, not pleasant and not happening. I was all for trying something new, I don’t tend to deviate much from what I know so I wanted to be daring, push the boundaries, I was curious, lesson learnt just stick to what you know and follow the advice of the professionals. Fortunately for me Karen, knew her stuff and ruled out certain styles knowing fine well I would be entering a pit of self loathing if these bad boys continued to sway in the breeze all sullen and lifeless.

After literally trying on what felt like a million bras all because size doesn’t transcend across brands – seriously why can’t there be a standard size, how can I be a 34G in one and then a 32 F in another, I thought I would be making do with a sensible white one which would suffice. But Karen dragged me out (fully clothed of course) for one last look around to see if there was anything lurking that we hadn’t tried and we stumbled across this little number.  The Passionata by Chantelle – Brooklyn *disclaimer this is obviously not me in the image below so don’t all go thinking I’m some kind of underwear model ready to parade around my new find – never gonna happen!!

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As soon as I tried it on, I felt like I had been transformed from a tired frumpy mum to something a little more exciting, now the cut is something I ummed and arrred over, as I knew it had the potential for fall out of the boobage kind, a good jiggle and they did need readjusting but nothing too obscene, just no jumping on the trampoline or going for a marathon run (ha yeah right). As much as I was settling for simple plain and white in colour, I felt the pop of purple was just what I needed in my life, it’s not practical under white but who needs practical when you have something as pretty as this and we are approaching woolly jumper season so who cares what colour your bra is. Its lace is soft and neither itchy or scratchy, neither of these are appealing nor sexy attributes to have, and its fairly comfortable to be honest. Having worn it on a number of occasions now I know it’s not always the most practical, e.g. when I am constantly bending down to pick up small children and tidy up after the tornado of their mess as I do need to readjust now and again but I am not dying to rip it off at the end of the day and if I was just wearing it out for a nice leisurely child free day (yes please) or for a night out with the girls I’m sure there would be less boobage readjusting going on, that’s still not stopping me from wearing it though as it truly is quite comfy – yet pretty #winwin

I have to say I had such a great experience at Foundations that when I do need another new bra – I’m sure I will get round to it in the next few years, I will easily be going there rather than deliberating over when I would next enter a M&S where I was childfree and able to try on every single bra possible and walk out with just the one boring plain white one. The girls do stock an array of brands ranging from reasonable priced to something I would consider a little on the dear side for something that is hidden away the majority of the time – mind you if it performed illusionary wonders and was neither torturous nor boring, I guess I’d be shelling out the big bucks and stocking up.

I am certainly looking forward to raiding through their collection again in the new year and seeing what new stock they have in store for the ol’ wind sock boobie variety. If you’re ever in Nantwich be sure to check them out….or even their new store in Congleton ‘The Cheshire Lady’.

 

**NB I was asked to come and visit the store and try one of their bras in exchange for my review, all comments are of my own opinion.

One day we will be normal parents.

That joyous moment when your tiny baby is handed to you, all slimy and squidgy, fresh from the womb mewing its first cries, such a momentous occasion filled with overwhelming happiness and love, the start of parenthood, the start of many memories together as a family.

But then there are those who don’t get this fairytale start, those who’s babies are born, whipped away and hours tick by before you are given any news, hours before you can glance upon your child and feel a tsunami of emotions all rising from the pit of dread in your stomach, hours, days pass by before you can even hold your precious baby.

You see being a parent to a NICU baby is a completely different ball game, we don’t have the whimsical milestones of our first picture snuggled with our baby straight after birth, our first cutesy little outfit moments after being born in between kisses and cuddles. We have NICU! Now I’ll hand it to the doctors and nurses and all the specialist consultants, they are amazing, they live and breathe your babies and without them and their support it would be an even harder process to get through but it’s just no where near ‘normal’. In fact normal is far from what we go through…until we reach a point along the NICU journey that it all becomes your ‘normal’.

I remember  when our eldest was born and immediately being whisked away, a hurried shout back “oh you’ve had a boy” as he was wheeled away to the NICU ward. What was a room full of people, a hive of activity soon became an empty shell of just me and my husband, no baby, no cuddles, no first cries and kisses. Just us! It was a bizarre out of body experience, suddenly being plunged into the unknown as our 29 weeker was rushed away with a team of consultants surrounding him as he was intubated and hooked up to every machine possible.

I hobbled my way into the shower, dumbfounded with shock and numb to the world around me, my husband helped me wash as postpartum blood trickled away and yet we had no baby to hold, my belly was empty, the room had gone quiet, it was like we had entered the twilight zone. A cup of tea and a round of toast was brought to us before we were guided to a private room on the postnatal ward, it was 4 am, we were exhausted, we were desperate to hear any news, we just wanted our boy but nothing we had to wait. Fitful sleep came as we clung to each other on the bed, there were no tears left to cry, but a mindful of many questions left unanswered.

Finally at 7 am a gentle knock on the door, it had been five hours since our boy was born, “you can go and see him now”

We leapt out of the bed and hurried anxiously across the corridor and began the first of MANY entries into NICU. We put our bits and pieces in a locker, washed our hands, sanitised, pushed the buzzer and in we entered. We were led into the intensive care room, the quiet buzz of nurses going about their business with an elegant grace as they worked their way around each incubator tending to the alarms, beeps and buzzes. Five incubators lined around the room, machines on either side, a cacophony of unsynchronised buzzes and beeps, alarms sounding and constant checks being done, it felt like it was a normal day for the nurses – well it was, it was just alien to us.

Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would start our lives as parents in a room like this. We tentatively made our way to the incubator in the left hand corner, inside lay a tiny baby cradled in a comforting little snug attached to a multitude of wires and tubes. Our baby boy, there he was so fragile, so tiny, literally skin and bone, he hadn’t reached any stage of fattening up, he was coated in downy hair and helped to breathe.

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“He’s doing well, he’s definitely a good size”

Doing well??? He was hooked up to an intubation tube, he had wires coming out of his umbilical stump!! As for a good size, he was tiny, 2lb 15oz was not a good size – upon reflection, this was a pretty good size, but for the months leading up to this point there were jokes I was going to have a massive baby for the sheer size of my bump puzzled everyone when I said I still had three months to go, anyway I digress.

But the look on the nurses face to our shock and worry said it all, she wasn’t phased, she had seen it all before, many a time, she knew the drill.

“The next 48 hours are the most crucial”

Oh God, we had to endure 48 hours before we could even start breathing any sighs of relief.

And that’s how our life as parents began. Every moment waiting, watching, over analysing. We very soon became fluent in NICU as we looked over his notes at every visit. What were his oxygen levels? How often had he desaturated? What had his blood tests come back as? Before too long we were reading his notes before even greeting our baby, what did we need to prepare ourselves for? What news (good or bad) was coming our way. I remember physically telling myself to stop seeing my child as a set of notes and test results but to say hello first and question later – it was hard to make that shift but it needed to be done, it became obsessive – we needed to feel normal, we needed to greet our beautiful boy first and resist the urge to read up on everything as it was easy to panic over something that actually was pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

The urge as a parent to hold your child becomes increasingly stronger as hour after hour passes by and that cuddle is still far from grasp. The first time we could touch our son was a moment filled with joy and fear. At first we were not able to hold a hand or stroke his face as at this stage it could cause him pain, how could a loving touch cause him pain? It was heartbreaking to not be able to hold him, instead we could gently place our hands upon him in a containment hold letting him know we were there and that he was safe. Soon we could hold his hand or wait for him to hold ours, and when he did we didn’t want to ever pull away, we waited until he made the first move, I wasn’t letting go for a moment.

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In those first few days I longed for that first hold but also anything to make the urge to feel like a mother come to light, I was desperate to change a nappy, to give him a wash, anything that was not just standing and staring through a perspex box listening to the chorus of beeps and alarms.

It was the longest three days but we finally had our first cuddle, we held our baby for the first time and it’s a moment that will be forever engrained in my memory and my heart, I had wished for this moment so much, I cried so hard in the dark nights as I expressed hoping I would get to hold my boy and that nothing would happen that would take that moment away from me.

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You see life in NICU is a roller coaster it’s one step forwards two steps back, it’s exhausting and heart breaking but we find the strength to keep going.

I spent every day by my sons side, some days I was dropped off at 8am and picked up at 5pm, home for tea and then back again to say goodnight. I read by his side, wrote a diary, sat for hours watching him, stroking his hand, desperate for a moment when I could finally change a nappy, give a milk feed through his tube or do his cares.

It wasn’t long before I felt like a pro, I knew what temperature to defrost his milk, how much to draw up and when I needed to signal a nurse over to do a quick pH test. I spent hour after hour expressing by his side storing up as much milk as I could for the day he would gobble it all up and become big and fat.

The milestone moments of finding out he was no longer intubated but on CPAP and low oxygen, when he had been off CPAP for X amount of hours, when he was putting on weight and having 0.5ml of milk, then 1 ml, when we could finally put on a little vest and dress our baby, put a teddy in his incubator and have more frequent cuddles – these were our milestone moments, the ones we documented and photographed.

We watched as other babies came and went, watched as babies smaller than ours were whisked away to other hospitals, watched as other parents entered into our world, handing tissues as we pass on by not wanting to interrupt the private moment between them but then also let them know they weren’t alone. We counted down the hours and days until he could become a high dependency baby, no longer in an incubator but snuggled in a heated cot – finally that day came. A little more freedom and one step closer to going home, it was a joke between other parents and the nurses that we edging our way closer to the door.

We celebrated weigh ins exceeding 3 lbs, 3.5lbs, our tiny baby was chunking up, he had tried a few boobie cuddles as I attempted to breastfeed, every moment no matter how small was noted down in a list of achievements. We high fived as his medication doses were slowly dropping, all he needed to do was quit his desats and we could move onto the final room, we were so close…I could almost smell the sweet celebratory success of going home. But this was one of our one step forwards two steps back moments, he was ready to move into the nursery, a spot had opened up, he had been good for a while, he was ready to go. We eagerly skipped into NICU the next morning waiting to see his name proudly on the nursery board, laters high dependency we’re on our way out, but his name wasn’t there, ‘it mustn’t be updated yet’ we peered into high dependency, he was still there, our hearts sank, ‘he’s not quite ready yet, he’s still desatting too much, he just needs time’, she could see how crushed we were, ‘dont forget he’s only 4 weeks old, he’s doing really well to be where he is right now’ I know that was supposed to be comforting and thinking back we were obviously trying to rush through this moment so we could go home so we could finally become ‘normal’ parents, but it reminded us of where we were and what journey we were on.

I know it’s nothing catastrophic but we had been fortunate to ride the waves of success with (small yet massive) achievements one after the other, we had hoped that all the willing in the world had paid off and he would be a miracle baby, born at 29 weeks and out into the big wide world in 4 weeks, he didn’t need NICU he was a super baby! That disillusioned optimism was soon shot down in flames, we did have a NICU baby, he needed time, time to strengthen, time to grow – we were just going to have to wait, we just needed to accept reality. Sowe waited. Our life continued scheduled around the hospital, only going home to change, shower and sleep, other than that I was by our boys side, forever talking to him, holding him tight, recording every moment….this soon became my ‘normal’.

It was one morning as we went about our morning ritual of washing hands etc that we walked on in, into high dependency and suddenly he wasn’t there ‘shit!!’ What had happened was everything OK? Was he alright? The panicked look on our face must have been clear as day as one of the nurses hurried over with a big smile ‘oh don’t worry, you don’t need to be seeing us anymore – he was moved last night’ and she pointed to the nursery.

He had made it, finally he was at the last hurdle, gone were the machines and wires, gone was his feeding tube, all it was was a simple little machine monitoring his oxygen levels, he had never looked so normal, so free of stuff! Every moment I spent my days holding him right, clutching onto my baby tight, now no longer in fear and savoring every hold incase it was the last, but holding on tight in celebration that we would soon be home, we would soon be a family, we would soon be normal.

We celebrated his first bath, after much deliberation we decided to combi-feed so we celebrated his first successful bottle feed, we were ticking things off one by one. It was almost our time. Then the day came when we were asked if we were ready for a rooming in session? I didn’t need to go home, I could stay with him in a room and we could be together for a whole night! This was it, this was us making those final preparations for finally coming home, it was time to ditch the final monitor. No more machines, no more alarms, it was just me and my boy, and I was scared. I had become so used to the machines I subconsciously relied upon them, my nonchalant dismissal when it beeped now and again were false confidence – this was a leap of faith. That first night together I literally stayed awake ALL night listening to him breathe, was it too fast, too slow, was he too hot, too cold. I peered over the cot watching him anxiously as he took every breath. Was this what it was like being a ‘normal’ parent? After surviving our first night and all going well, we just had one more to go. This time I let my instinct take over and instead of peering over his cot, I held him close, felt each breathe, felt the calm wash over me, this was how I was going to feel normal.

The next day we had the all clear it was time to go, finally we had made it to the end, after checking everything off the list, handed a bag load of meds, we said our final good byes and walked out the doors carrying our boy to the car.

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We had dreamt of the moment where ‘one day we will be normal parents’ nearly six weeks after our son was born that day came. We had endured our time in NICU now it was time for the rest of the world to meet our son and begin life as ‘normal’. It wasn’t ‘normal’, it was never going to be normal, just because you have left NICU doesn’t mean it has left you completely, we still had milestones to reach, tests to take and medication to wean off from. Despite those first few weeks which felt torturous as if we were stuck in limbo were nothing compared to living life with a prem baby, it didn’t all disappear as soon as we walked out those doors, instead we had a whole other set of challenges to face, once again we muttered ‘one day we will be normal parents’.

Little did we know, 19months later we would back in NICU once again with our youngest son and starting yet another journey.

‘One day we will be ‘normal’parents’

 

In a bid to help other parents going through this heart wrenching journey, over at Pudding & Chops we have created something special and partnered with Bliss to help give every baby born premature or sick in the UK the best chance of survival and quality of life.

 

Being a parent is….

I can waffle on about how wonderful it is to be a parent, because essentially at the end of it all it can be wonderful, but for every amazing moment there must be a thousand shitty moments. For every instagrammed perfect picture is chaos tornadoing in the background.

So here is a little compilation of what life as a parent can entail.

Being a parent is:

(Warning a lot of it is sleep related)

Enduring months, years of sleep deprivation, being so insanely tired that you feel hungover and will hallucinate through blood shot eyes, yet you still have to function. Sometimes you will find cars pulled up on the side of the road or in car parks with parents and children fast asleep – well they say ‘sleep when they sleep’. Needs must my friend, needs must.

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Having the delightful duty of removing a floating turd from the bath or extracting said turd from a pair of pants, the carpet, the dog bowl, anywhere other than where its supposed to be, even to the point when in the throes of potty training you will rush a half crapping child across the house to avoid turdmania on your unclean carpets (who has time to clean), I mean that’s mess you can’t ignore really.

Living in a groundhog day of attempting to clean up after your delightful offspring who will undo every amount of effort you make, in fact they will double their efforts when they cotton on that you are actually trying to clean clean rather than scoop their crap to one side – you bring out the big guns of cleaning products and they go wild, they will dump toilet rolls down the toilet, paint the walls with the bog brush, tip whole boxes of cereal over the floor, eat some and smear it back onto any surface that it will glue itself to – the list goes on.

Discovering that the gentle rock to sleep may actually be a manic rock of insanity and that your child may not actually have gone to sleep in a soothing manner but actually they’ve had to close their eyes to avoid severe motion sickness – either way they are asleep so win win. Or if you are in the throes of the bum pat, back stroke kind of putting to bed then it’s knowing when to change the soothing bum pat into a gentle backstroke and then peel away finger by finger as you attempt to retract your limbs from a sleepy child.

Trying to leave the room of a sleeping child whilst avoiding all objects in the way – suddenly escaping the room is like a assault course which you must do in silence, even if you are out of the room it’s the actual getting down the stairs – which are all creaky so you are walking down the sides of each step, balancing on the skirting boards and half lifting yourself using the hand rail and wall – now this should be an Olympic sport!

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Learning that spanx AND jeggings/legging/skinnies or heaven forbid leatherette pants are not a good combo when you have to hold a child AND go to the toilet at the same time!! Lesson learnt – just don’t do it, such attire requires two hands. If you do make it to the toilet on your own then it’s hearing a thump/smash/scream/cry as you are mid shite, having to then decide on the level of cry whether you have to dump and go or whether you’ve thirty seconds to wipe and run – never will you get a moments peace AGAIN.

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Negotiating with the limp limbs of your child as they refused to be dressed but instead they just want to be an octopus just as you NEED to get out of the house or having to karate chop your child into a pushchair/ car seat, then it’s entering the delightful era when your child wishes to dress themselves and then you have to redress them as they are inside out and back to front.

Spending days negotiating, coercing and downright bribing your child just so you don’t have to resort to alcohol at 9 am, sometimes you’ve downed a bottle of (insert alcohol of choice) and then you’ve realised ‘shit it’s only Tuesday’, ah sod it, you feel hungover from sleep deprivation you may as well be actually hungover.

Surviving the never ending period of time with small children hankering around your ankles begging to be fed as you try to create some form of nutritional sustenance only for them to refuse it as soon as it is presented them.  After trying to encourage said sweet children to eat the food you have made, you are met with a rather stubborn and indignant ‘I’m not hungry!!’, so sod it, you eat it or bin it and strop off in your own little tantrum…. 5 minutes later ‘mummy can I have a snack?’ – Are you F*&@king kidding me?!?!

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Living your life surviving on the off cuts from sandwiches or eating half chewed pieces of food, the discarded meals that they just can’t stomach, you soon realise that a lot will go to waste unless you literally become a human dustbin – don’t bother making your own meal just eat their cold leftovers ‘Yummy!’. It’s a glamorous life of fine dining and a la carte menus.

Upon having a second/third/ (insert number of children) you lower your standards on what you deem acceptable ‘toys’ to play with – knives – no, spatulas, wooden spoons, rocks, bins, nappies – clean – yes, dirty – erm best not. Nothing entertains your child more than a pack of wet wipes or a toilet roll, and then you can clean your house afterwards with them – well when I say clean I mean just a cursory wipe over the worst bits, spray a bit of Febreeze and you could almost pass it off as a clean and tidy house.

Answering the incessant question ‘why’ it certainly tests your general knowledge and can make you contemplate why we do actually do things but sometimes we just have to resort to ‘because it just is, now accept it’…….’why’ – oh fml!!

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Constantly having a brew that’s too hot to handle and will melt you from the inside out or its tepid – like gross tepid. There’s never the in between.

Finally making into the shower ALONE and then you are constantly plagued by the imaginary sounds of children crying – so you are stood there, soaped up, shampoo dribbling into your eyes in the cold as you’ve switched the shower off to listen for the sounds of a distressed child – NOTHING, instead you’re butt naked, freezing with eyes full of soap.

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Yoyoing from the beaming boastful moment of ‘oh my goodnes look at _________(insert wonderful moment here), this is why we have children’ to ‘holy shit look at _______(insert goddamn awful moment that can never be eradicated from memory) why did we have children?!?! FFS’ Smearing human faeces on a wall is one of those moments – why would you do that???

Spending many an hour, night upon night, laying on the bedroom floor willing your child with every fibre of your being to go to sleep – not so bad when you have your phone to keep you company and you can trawl through every social media account you have – however God help you if your phone battery goes whilst you’re in mid way through, trying to escape is futile as you will just reset your child back to the beginning and hell starts all over again, so instead you lay there, in the dark, with your thoughts. Either you will start to think of the billions things you need to do but can’t, have an absolute brain wave of an idea, a proper Eureka moment however you can’t write down your idea and you know full well you will forget it as soon as you manage to escape OR you fall asleep yourself, only to be rudely awoken by aching limbs, a bad hip and a sore back.

When you do finally make it to bed yourself, suddenly a mindful of crap downloads into your brain and you realise you’ve got so many things to do, people to reply to, orders to place. Cue replying to messages and ordering nappies at 1am – you’re going to be up at 5am but at least you’ve ordered the nappies.

Having spent a great portion of the night when you should have been asleep catching up on all the things you should have done at some point when children weren’t destroying your house, ripping it apart and breaking you down bit by bit, you wake early – however the kids are not awake. Instead of going back to sleep and enjoying the rarity of a lie in, you start to panic – ‘why are they not awake?’ ‘is something wrong?’. At first these worries and doubts just play tricks on you every time you try to fall back to sleep but you remain stubborn in your bed, however the anxiety builds and you’ve convinced yourself they’ve slipped into a coma or something else just as drastic, so you go to check on them, double check that they are breathing – lo and behold they are in the dreamy land of nod – where you should be. You look on and smile and your beautiful sleeping children and then tip toe back to bed….and then stand on a creaking floorboard ‘mummy?’ BOLLOCKS!!! If you’d just stayed in bed and ignored that voice in your head every one would still  be asleep but no you had to ruin it all by being all worried and crap like that!

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Being a parent is many things – and there are many more that could easily be added to this list however you wouldn’t be a parent if you didn’t mutter in sheer exasperation, sing (yes I do mean sing, like sing as if you were performing an opera or even rap it, either way you’ll find yourself cursing your child through song) or shout manically at multiple points in the day;

‘what the fuck’

‘are you kidding me?’

‘what the ACTUAL fuck!!’

‘fuck my life’

‘oh Jesus Christ – seriously!!’

along with endless ‘no’ ‘yes’ ‘because I said so’

It’s great being a parent – Honest!

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Out of the darkness comes strength and courage.

Facebook has a wonderful way of stirring up memories from times past by reminding you of pictures and statuses you posted years ago, some make you cringe, some make you laugh and some remind you of a time you didn’t think you would escape from. My ‘memories’ from this time of year are always focused around my eldest son and his journey through NICU as a 29 weeker – the milestones he reached, the weight he put on and eventually the time he came home. I remember that part of my life like it was yesterday, the beeps and alarms of the machines, the desats, the countless tests, the one step forwards two steps back, the constant wave of emotions that were so incredibly draining. There were so many tears and hours of anguished waiting, I spent many an hour just sat holding my boy when I was finally able to and I was never ready to put him down just in case, just in case it was my last cuddle, just in case despite how well he was doing something happened. I never wanted to waste a moment, I wanted to absorb every smell, crease, and breath he took.

Seeing these ‘memories’ brings back that time in my life where I didn’t know whether I would have the strength to go on. Then another story came on my feed, a story that was not mine, but one that broke my heart.

A school friend from years ago had shared their story of the moment they discovered their son was to be born sleeping.

 “We went to the hospital as I had experienced reduced movement this is when we were told the devastating news that there was no heartbeat.

Click to visit their Just Giving Page

I was 32 weeks pregnant. Baby Noah was just perfect, we got to hold him, dress him and kiss him and we will cherish forever all of the memories we made that evening.”

Upon reading these first few words, I was overwhelmed by emotion, even writing this now brings me to tears, I cannot for a moment comprehend what they must have been going through. Even through our hardest times when Grayson was born I always counted my blessings that he was with us in our arms – I’d had nightmares of the worst and struggled to cope with the emotion of it all on some days but I could never fully imagine how devasting this would be if we were to ever lose him.

The awful and tragic thing about this story for Nicky and Jonathan (and for many others) was that it was nobody’s ‘fault’

“Sadly there was nothing that could be done for Noah, he had got himself in a tangle, the cord was wrapped around his neck and his arm which had cut off the oxygen supply”

Upon reading this I think back to when our youngest son Myles was born. Although technically premature at 36+4, I begged to have a water birth, in my stubbornness I pushed and pushed because I hadn’t had the birth that I had planned with Grayson. I was determined to have at least one of my babies how I wanted. I was fortunate that upon great deliberation I was allowed a water birth AS LONG as I was monitored every five minutes – ‘yeah yeah’ I thought. But I am so glad they did because in the moment’s of checking they quickly discovered that Myles was going into distress. I was immediately ordered out of the pool and a team came rushing in, gone were the moments of calm, instead there were shouts of instructions, alarm calls, doctors and midwives came rushing in. Once his head was out it was discovered that his cord was wrapped round his neck, tightening and causing him to go into distress. The moments after he was born was an anxious one, we nervously waited as the team with their backs to us tried to get that first breath. You could feel the tension and see the sense of panic until finally there was a squeak – everyones shoulders suddenly relaxed and after a few moments he was handed to me.

Again we were so close, as with Grayson, it could have gone either way, but we were fortunate. And that’s what it comes down to in the end, sometimes there’s nothing we can do, there’s nothing that we did it was just what happens, as unfortunate as it is.

I feel deeply saddened that this has happened to Nicky and Jonathan, no one should ever have to go through this, no one ever deserves such a thing. But out of these dark times they are showing strength, they are wanting to break the silence and the taboo and raise awareness.

” we want pregnant ladies not be afraid to go to the hospital if they are concerned, have the confidence to seek advice and ask questions. We need to break the silence on stillbirths, today it is still a taboo subject but everyday families are going through this heartache. “

I remember feeling like I was a nuisance but I’m glad I was, if I had not ‘bugged’ the midwives would I have carried on in naivety and then not had my boy?

I think their story resonates with me so much because of how close I could have come with both of my boys, although I know this is heartwrenching to read by anyone. From their story I see great strength, I see turning a heartbreaking moment into something positive for others and I hope with all of my heart that their future will be a brighter one with a little bundle in tow.

It’s not something I would normally do but this has touched me so much and I admire the courage that these two have to try and make a difference for others – nothing will ever replace the beautiful boy that they lost but hopefully in time the heartache will be easier to bear and the grief will be lighter to handle, so I am asking you if you could, please read their story and if possible support them in their hopes to bring some light to their dark times. I know that this will touch many hearts as does every story of loss, but keeping it quiet and hidden does nothing for those who are suffering and want/need help. These women need the confidence to speak up without feeling like they are ‘bugging’ anyone, parents need to be acknowledged in these difficult times and these angel babies need a voice.  Please help support Nicky and Jonathan and their son Noah and the many other families who have experienced this.

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STOP! Take a moment.

STOP! Take a moment, what do you hear? The sound of little footsteps running around manically, the sounds of destruction as every toy is pulled from its box, the sounds of little voices around your ankles “mummy come and play”, “daddy help me” or the whines of despair as your child desperately wants you to stop what you are doing to pick them up, hold them, play with them, sit with them.

It’s manic being a parent, there’s so much to juggle, there are not enough hours in the day and not enough sleep at night. Trying to complete anything with children around is a mission in itself, the house never stays clean, as if by magic all the hard work scrubbing and cleaning has disappeared instantaneously, the laundry pile is never done. You may get it washed, even dried and well done if it’s folded but how long before it makes it way into the wardrobe before it has been worn and needs washing AGAIN.

But those sounds won’t always be there, it won’t always be this mad and chaotic – “I can’t wait” I hear you cry through exhausted eyes, I get it, I really do, but when that moment comes, stop, take a moment and what do you hear? silence, silence because they are in their rooms playing by themselves or with friends and siblings, silence because they are old enough to venture out on their own, silence because they don’t ask for you any more.

I’m not trying to guilt you, you see I’m a mum myself with two small boys, I’m forever being pulled in different directions but what I do notice is that right now I am needed, right now I am wanted. “mummy put your phone in your pocket” I get from my eldest one, the youngest swings around my ankles and literally pushes me away from the kitchen side so he nestle in and beg to be picked up, “mummy play with me, just for one minute please mummy”.

How easy is it to say “just give me five minutes”, “let me finish this and I’ll be right there”, “just play with ____ whilst I do this”. It so easy to think I’ll just do this then I will play and hope that they will distract themselves long enough that they’ve forgotten about you, how many things do you try and get through before you really do go and play, how long do you “play” for before you think you’ve done your bit and now you ‘need’ to go and hoover, clean, fold laundry, answer a few emails etc.

There are moments of clarity in life when you see things for what they really are, the haze of the hustle and bustle of life is momentarily lifted and you see what you have in front of you. For me I see my boys, I see that I am a mum, I see that my time with them is quickly disappearing, they are growing too fast, time is whizzing by and I am wishing it to slow down, yes I clamour for a hot brew and moment alone to just reset myself before wading through the toddling tornadoes and their chaos once again but I have realised that no amount of putting them off makes my life any easier, in fact it’s harder. It is easier to go and play, to join in with the mess, to just be with them.

So Stop! Take a moment, take a moment to sit and play a little longer, take a moment to have an extra cuddle, to read another story, to just watch your babies, because before too long they wont be babies anymore. Life will always be there, there will always be washing to do, carpets to hoover and bathrooms to clean. But one day the chaos will become calm, the noise will become silent, and the need and want for you to play will no longer be as strong as it was.

Don’t lose those moments, don’t waste your time, make the most of it all because once it has gone, there is no turning back, the only time you can guarantee your children is the moment in which you are with them right now.

Stop! Take a moment, what do you hear?

Pudding & Chops: Where are we now?

Wow what a busy and exciting few couple of months it has been for Pudding and Chops. Having launched at the beginning of April, Laura and I have been on a mass learning experience as we have set up and promoted our lovely little business. We have spent hours negotiating, designing, setting up, wrapping, posting, cutting and photographing our cards, setting up shops and building websites. We have come such a long way since we pressed ‘post’ on our Facebook page just over three months ago.

So where are we now? Well after our initial orders came flying through our Facebook page, we soon realised we needed a ‘shop’. I mean not to brag but we had pretty much sold out of our first batch within days!! – we thought we had been a little over ambitious ordering so many for a first run, dreading the moment where we would have piles of stock lying around our houses and nothing to do with them, but how wrong were we? They went like hot cakes.

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So we set up our first shop.

Our Facebook page quickly ticked over with like after like as did our Instagram, we were soon being sent or tagged in photos from our wonderful customers using our cards. It was real, not only were our cards being sold, they were being used – and what fabulous pictures we have on our collection.

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We had a flurry of interest from some lovely bloggers who gave some lovely reviews on our cards.

The wonderful Georgie from Minis and more gave us our very first review

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Minis and more

The fabulous Lisa over at Love of a captain featured us on her baby wishlist – with the gorgeous Hudson soon to be on his way, we had to send her some of our cards.

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The lovely Faye from Glossytots wrote a lovely review of our cards, “The cards enrapture everything fun about being a run of the mill mum and not what I call ‘The perfect mum’

The gorgeous Lucy over at Hello Beautiful Bear “The alternative side of parenting, a far cry from the usual milestones and a more ‘honest’ and humorous take on the day-to-day life of babies/toddlers and motherhood.”

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Another fab product review from the wonderful Jess from threemenadacrazylady . We have to hand it to Jess she has certainly worked through our cards – such a great mama

The hilarious story of Poo gate from Fi over at Beauty, Baby and Me, seriously go and have a read,

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We were also shared by some fab pages on Facebook like Mums to Be and Babylists (if you need any form of baby list, these girls have it) and along the way we were spotted by some wonderful people who wanted stock our cards in their shops or online such as Pretty English in London and  Yes Bebe UK in Coventry or have us as part of their promoted product range such as the fab girls over at And So To Baby….

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Featuring the gorgeous boys Oakley and Huxley from Tori @myoakleydoakley

…and representing the Irish side of Pudding and Chops are the fabulous lot over at BabyBloggers.ie

We have been so blessed by the fabulous support by our customers and those who have liked, shared and promoted us along the way. Our empire hasn’t quite stopped at Ebay, but instead we also have an Etsy store and we sell through Amazon as well.

It has all been so surprisingly wonderful, lots to do, lots to learn, but a fantastic experience to be a part of. For me, its the opportunity to create something memorable with the greatest of friends, because we are both learning together and because we both have our own individual skill sets we compliment each other, we give each a different view and guide each other. It’s been great having someone to share this incredible journey with and whilst we build up our product range and continue to learn, I hope this takes our business and friendship to great heights.

Keep a look out for our new products coming soon…..

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To my knights in shining armour

To my boys, my little knights in shining armour, I write this to you as I want to thank you, I can thank you for so many things but ultimately and most importantly I want to thank you for rescuing me.

You see I have found these past couple of months hard, returning to work has been really tough, I have questioned what I am doing and why I am doing it on many occasion for I am exhausted. Exhausted from the long days, the working evenings, the ever growing piles of marking, exhausted from the feeling of despair after yet another paycheck comes in and it is almost instantaneously gone as I pay for your nursery fees. I feel like I am maxed out.

I have found it hard to leave you both having spent the last year or more together. We have waded through the tough times, the tears and the tantrums and I have wondered on many occasion as to whether life would ever become normal again yet over the months we have found our rhythm, we have found our happiness and now I am no longer there.

I have found the evenings when I don’t see you as you’re already tucked up in bed difficult, having always been there to make you your tea, tuck you in bed and kiss you good night, suddenly not being there as I work yet another evening as I attempt to bring in extra money to pay for the clothes we need and the food we eat and the occasional treat has been draining. This all weighs heavy on me, I feel like there is not much left of me to give.

Recently I have also found the world in which I exist in a difficult one, life is no longer a muffled shuffle through the crowds picking my way through the unheard conversations instead I am living each day experiencing wave after wave of distorted sound. I thought the solution would be clear cut and refined instead I am shoved into a cacophony of noise that now fills me anxiety and apprehension. Each day I feel of sense of overwhelming anxiety as I deal with the shouts, screams, noise. Nothing is clear, instead I feel like I am zooming through a tunnel at great speed with the windows down, everything is overlaid with a distorted whoosh. Crowds are no longer my friend, loud places feel overwhelming, I can feel myself shrinking away as I desperately try to zone out before I freak out.

I am not myself right now, I am not full of energy and life, I’m burning out but you, you are keeping me sane, you are giving me focus, you are saving me from losing touch. For every moment that I am stressed and down I see your smiling faces. Amongst the chaos you bring me happiness. You drive me crazy, but you make me laugh. You cause such madness and mayhem yet you bring me peace. You are the calm to my storm. You teach me patience, you teach me tolerance but ultimately you show me what its like to have something to love with all of my heart and to have something positive to focus on.

When my days are long and hard and I can feel the tension across my body rigid and all consuming, a cuddle and a whisper of ‘I love you mummy’ melts it all away. Instead of losing my cool when you’re frustrated and annoyed you have taught me to breathe through the moment, pull you close and hold you tight, feeling your anger ebb away makes my worries and stresses disappear.

So here is my thanks to you, my little knights in shining armour, thank you for making me smile each day, thank you for showing me the beauty in the smallest of things, thank you for shifting my focus from the negatives in my life to the positive. Thank you for being the crazy little babies of mine that keep me on my toes, for making me fun, for making me laugh.

My time with you is even more precious than it was before and I am cherishing our time together, our adventures mean so much more and bring me so much joy. Thank you for being the light in my life, for being my company and comfort, for being my love and giving me the right perspective in life.

I love you both with all that I can give, always and forever,

Mummy

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