Thursday, 22 March 2012

Dust bunnies ate my homework

I have a confession to make - when it comes to housework, I am a slacker. My ability to ignore dirty plates, piles of magazines and discarded clothes never fails to amaze and infuriate my husband! However, with a new baby and a new house, I'm determined to get on top of my slatternly ways.

Here are the small changes I'm making to ensure visitors don't run screaming from my home:

1) Investing in decent equipment

A rubbish vacuum that hurts your back and doesn't pick up any dirt isn't going to get dragged out from under the stairs very often - and before you know it, those dust bunnies will be bigger than your baby!

2) Using a rota

I love having plans and schedules to follow so deciding that Monday is dusting day, Tuesday is time to vacuum and Wednesday is washing day really helps focus my mind and gets me organised.

3) Roping in the rest of the family

Ok the 5 month old is a little too young but my husband gets given a list of chores at the beginning of each day so he knows what he has to do to help keep our home in decent shape...and my son will be roped into it as soon as he's big enough.

4) Adding finishing touches

Once you've got a sparkling home, add some flowers, get those family photos on the wall and throw open the doors to guests. Enjoying your hard work makes you keen to keep at it and reap the benefits.

What are your top tips for tackling housework?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Pregnant or fat?!

My baby is four months old and I am not one of those lucky women who bounced back into shape after giving birth. So far I have been asked FOUR times when my next baby is due. Ouch. In my defence, my bump was gigantic - here's the proof.

The first person to speak without thinking was my 21-year-old cousin. Now I'll let him off as he genuinely had no idea that women's stomachs don't ping back to washboard proportions after giving birth, and I was just two months postpartum.

Then a pharmacist asked the dreaded question - the most irritating thing about this is that I'd just asked her for the strongest painkillers for period pain! Come on daft woman! And the baby was in the trolley in front of me.

But the most upsetting time came when I was asked by two different people on the same night...I actually thought I was looking good at that point. I managed to laugh it off every time I was asked when my baby was due, but that night I burst into tears on the street after leaving the event. My poor husband got some hard stares from passerbys who clearly thought he was in the middle of dumping me!

I know my stomach is big but because my bump was so large, I think I've been in denial. Here is my 'bump' now

This photo was taken 1 week after I was last asked when I was the diet had started!

No.1 Son is being christened at the end of July and I want to be comfortable having my photo taken on the day so it's time to get off the sofa and stop raiding the fridge. I'll keep you posted on my progress - wish me luck!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

We Bought A Zoo

Last night, I was lucky enough to watch a preview of new film 'We Bought A Zoo', thanks to Mumsnet, who picked me and four other bloggers to have a sneak peek.

Here's how the film is described by the distributor: "WE BOUGHT A ZOO is a funny, inspiring and true story about the magical power of family to persevere in the face of extraordinary challenges. This is acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s (Jerry Maguire) first motion picture for all audiences, and stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church. Damon portrays a single dad who, looking to give his family a much needed fresh start, moves to a home situated in the middle of a zoo, which he and his two children will attempt to bring back to its once glorious state. The film weaves together warmth, laughter and a spirit of optimism and is perfect to get together for."

So what did I think? The film dealt with the loss of a wife and mother in a very moving way. There was plenty of sniffling and wiping of eyes going on in the screening room. A-lister Matt Damon was excellent as the grieving widower. After his Bourne films, this was a real change for him. He's out of shape, rundown and just trying to make things better for his kids. The film really captured the difficulty of moving on after bereavement and how little reminders of the person are everywhere you turn.

In order to try and get a fresh start for the family, Damon as Benjamin Mee, decides to move. He finds their dream house, only to discover it comes with a zoo full of endangered animals and a coterie of odd staff members. The staff and animals add great humour to the film - McCready, the drunk and angry zookeeper, is a standout character.
Screen vamp Scarlett Johannson is in charge of the zoo and is also playing against her usual type. She spends the film wearing a string of ugly jumpers and jumpsuits! She helps provide some pragmatism to Mee's adventure-chasing and dreaming.

The film really made me think what crazy dream would I love to go after? The whole movie is shot in a hazy, summery light - which really captures the essence of going after your desires and making them real. That, along with excellent footage of the animals, makes this a beautiful film to watch. There's a strong message about being scared to go for something, but doing it anyway, which I really enjoyed.
However, my husband was not convinced. It was too saccahrine for him and he didn't get swept away with it at all - in fact, he did occasionally groan at some of the more emotional dialogue!

I enjoyed it - it made me cry, laugh and dream. For me, the scene stealer was the young girl playing Mee's daughter, Maggie Elizabeth Jones. She is so cute and beautiful, I expect to see her on the big screen for years to come.

An added bonus to the night was my goody bag!

The film is on general release in the UK from Friday 16th March. Check out the trailer below:

There are competitions, clips and interviews about the film on its Facebook page

I am a member of the Mumsnet Blogging Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

More support please

During pregnancy, everyone is attentive to your every need - offering tea, cake and sympathy for those swollen ankles.
Then you start your NCT classes, which are all about getting through labour.
But what happens once you give birth? You're sent home from the hospital as soon as possible, a health visitor might pop round occasionally during those first few weeks and everyone comes for a cuddle and a cuppa...but so quickly you're left alone to get on with it.

The balance is completely wrong - we shouldn't focus so much on pregnancy and birth, only to ignore new mothers. How many partners can afford to take the two weeks paternity leave? Even if your partner is there for the full two weeks, that races by far too quickly. We currently live in a flat on the third floor and the lift was broken for a month shortly after I gave birth. I was completely trapped and it really effected me. Not having adult contact meant I was fixated on no.1 son's every tiny movement so every cry echoed around the small flat and in my brain. I started to feel like I couldn't cope, couldn't bear anymore crying and was doing a rubbish job at being a mother.

Fortunately for me, I have a fantastic mother-in-law. In those first terrifying weeks of becoming a new mum, she would come round to do dishes, make my lunch and get lots of cuddles with her gorgeous grandson. She would send me off to nap while she took care of everything - utter bliss. But what if you don't have that support? I can honestly say that I would have seriously struggled without it. I still had some bleak days but I believe I would have developed full-blown depression if I didny have that help and support. Just having an experienced mother around to reassure me made all the difference. So many people don't live near their families anymore and the sense of community that used to exist is gone for most of us.

If you know a first time mum, reach out. Be there to support her - chances are, she needs it and will be hugely grateful.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

No.1 Son's birth story

Our beautiful son was born at 0350 on Thursday 27th October 2011. He weighed 10lbs and was 56cm long. He had a very chubby face, blue eyes and a head of fine dark hair. His arrival was something my husband and I had been dreaming of for more than two years - but it was also the most traumatic thing I've ever experienced.

I was told at 36 weeks that I would be induced on my due date as the baby's head was measuring very large so they didn't want him to cook for too long and get even bigger. So at 40+1 I checked into the antenatal ward and had my pessary put in place. My first concern came when I was told I'd be checked in 24 hours - I thought that doesn't sound very speedy! The pessary didn't have much effect so once the 24 hours or so were up, gel was put in place to try and get things going. Well I thought it definitely worked. I was starting to feel real pain...only to be told these were just 'tightenings', I'd later learn what a contraction really felt like but at this point I was rather proud of coping so well - ignorance really is bliss!

It turned out the gel was working as it got me to 3cms dilated - so the next step was to have my waters broken and that's when the fun started. The hospital was so swamped with labouring women that there was no space for me on the ward so I'd just have to wait until I went into labour or a room became available. So for THREE days I was stuck in the ante natal ward, watching women screaming in pain, almost giving birth there and then, as the poor midwives desperately tried to find space for us all. I kept slipping down the waiting list as women in established labour or those with more serious issues kept coming in.

Then during a routine check, we found the baby's heart rate had jumped from 130 to 180bpm and it stayed that high for around 40 minutes. Suddenly doctors were coming in and out, checking things, muttering to each other. Obviously I was in tears and panicking by this point. The staff made sure a space was now found for me on the labour ward and I was whisked away.

Once on the labour ward the baby's heart rate did settle back down - I think he was being sneaky to make sure his arrival was speeded up, we'd probably still be on the ante natal ward otherwise! But when my waters were broken, it was discovered that there was very little fluid in there. Another scan was done and the consultant said as I was expecting a large baby, along with the lack of fluid and the fast heart rate, that I would be given just four hours on the drip to induce me and if that didn't work, then it would be a c section.

My lovely midwife told me she wouldn't put me on the drip until I could have the epidural as the pain would start up quickly. Unfortunately for me the anaesthesiologist was busy dealing with a c section so I had to wait...and that's when the contractions finally started properly. OH MY GOD. I never knew I could experience such pain without dying! Yes I am rubbish with pain but it actually blows my mind that some women choose to go through that with nothing but gas and air - how on earth cam you put up with hours of that?! In a weird way I'm glad I know what it feels like but I'll be very happy to never do it again!

The lovely man with all the drugs eventually arrived and put me out of my misery - ah bliss! I stopped cursing my husband and actually felt human again. So the drip was then started - four hours later and I was excited to find out how much I'd progressed...and there was precisely bugger all movement down there, I was still just 3 to 4 cm dilated. I was so disappointed and fed up...five days in hospital, a pessary, gel and the drip plus four hours of contractions all for nothing. It was time for the c section.

Off we went to surgery. My first clue that it wasn't all going well was when I had a second cannula put in so I could be on two drips at once. I also remembering hearing the anaesthesiologist rebuffing attempts at banter with another member of staff by saying "let me deal with the systolic drop of 50". This still doesn't mean much to me but it didn't sound good! Then I could hear the doctors talking about the baby's head being stuck. It turns out that all those attempts at induction meant no.1 son's giant head was getting more and more wedged in my pelvis. They needed industrial size forceps to pull him out. Again I had to listen to the doctor getting very stressed that she didn't have the strength to pull him out and more people eventually came in to help. I was worrying about a lack of oxygen for the baby was he'd been stuck for so long and there were no cries at first, making me even more scared. Our son needed to be resuscitated and we had to wait several long minutes before hearing the lovely sound of him crying.

During all of this I felt very removed and distant from what was happening. I barely got to see my son's face before he and my husband left while I was stitched up - and at the time, I didn't even care. What I didn't know then was that I'd lost more than a litre of blood and my vitals had been dropping so badly during the surgery that they actually turned off the beeps as my poor husband was freaking out at the sound of everything plummeting.

Back on the labour ward I was in and out of it for a while so still didn't actually hold the baby before being moved to the postnatal ward. Then, thanks to visiting hours that mean new mums are alone from 8.30pm until 10am, I was left with this crying baby that I could barely pick up thanks to my swollen hands and recently sliced open stomach. I ended that night crying along with my son until a midwife came and rescued us. She tucked him under her arm and he stopped immediately!

Two days later I was finally home. It was such a relief to be back in my environment with the constant support of my husband and other family members. For the first week, every time I thought about the labour, I cried. I never blamed my son obviously but I couldn't help but associate him with the trauma I'd been through. I felt I didn't bond with him properly until week 3.

To sum it up, all the staff I met were lovely and supportive, k have nothing but praise for these overworked people. But I feel that perhaps I should have been given a section earlier due to the fact that they knew the baby was measuring felt like once the induction was started, that we had to carry on to the bitter end, rather than admit defeat. My local hospital also has a severe shortage of midwives which I think is a national problem that needs to be addressed.

As for me, the consultant told my husband that any future pregnancies must end in a section to prevent future 'trauma'. I'm pleased they recognised this wasn't an ideal experience and knowing that I won't have to go through the whole process again means I can face having a second baby. My son meanwhile makes me laugh every day and I'm so in love with him. It may have taken awhile but the bond between us is so strong now. He is worth every second of pain...but I'm not rushing into pregnancy number 2 just yet!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Beauty to my Beast!

If you've been reading my blog regularly, then you may remember the photos of me as a child - they aint pretty! Check them out here for a reminder. I mentioned in that post that I was keeping everything crossed that my unborn son would be lucky enough to look like his dad, rather than me, at least in those first few years.

And here's why:

Look how adorable he is!

And he was even cute when he started to enter the awkward stage of adolescence

So as someone who resembled Les Dawson in a bonnet, I'm really hoping my son takes after his dad and is a cutie!

Monday, 19 September 2011

WaterBaby review

If you're anything like me during pregnancy, you spend the first few months feeling sick and unable to stomach anything, and then the last few months fighting with constant heartburn when the thought of trying to add anything to your poor overworked digestive system is enough to make you go back to bed!

So how are you supposed to get all those vitamins and minerals we know are needed for a healthy pregnancy and baby?

WaterBaby thinks it has the answer. It's a new pregnancy care drink, which contains all the good things you would find in a supplement, like zinc and calcium, as well as the recommended daily allowance of folic acid.

It has a slight citrus flavour but is still, not fizzy, which is nice for upset stomachs. I would personally prefer a slightly stronger flavour to the drink and perhaps other flavours to choose from, but it's light and refreshing and makes it very easy to get thse vitamins you need. My sample arrived this morning and I've already drained the first bottle!

I love this drink as it means no more forcing down big tablets, which get stuck in your throat, instead it's just a nice, refreshing drink to guzzle - perfect!

Find out more at

*disclaimer - I was sent this product to review but received no payment for this post, all views are my own*