Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Thank you

I’ve had a lot of body issues throughout my life. I’ve lost weight, gained weight, lost a lot of weight, got pregnant, gained a lot of weight back. I always blame my body for things. I don’t have a good relationship with food. I don’t exercise like I should even though I used to love it because I hate not feeling as fit as I did when I used to exercise a lot. Now I’ve decided to take control, and although that’s easier said than done, I’ve decided to start by thanking my body. And treating her with the care I treat my daughter.

Thank you for my c section scar and the overhang I have because it means my daughter got here safely.

Thank you for my belly and the stretch marks because it means I grew from a child and then grew my child.

Thank you for my boobs that sag because they have fed my daughter for 10 months and counting.

Thank you for my big calves and thighs that hold me up and get me where I need to go.

Thank for for my dry hands that held my daughter when she took her first breath and washed countless people after they took their last.

Thank you for my brain that got me through my nursing degree and allowed me to keep learning ever since.

Thank you for my arms that are the perfect big spoon for my husband!!

Thank you for my heart which beats so healthily and allows me to love my family and friends.

Thank you for my eyes that can see the good in people (through glasses).

Thank you for my long boney feet that mean I always get shoes in my size on sale because no one else wants them.

Thank you for being my home.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

The fourth trimester.

Oh hey look, I’m back!!
And I had a baby. Almost 7 months ago...
I’m pretty sure everybody who follows my blog also follows me elsewhere so this may not be such a surprise. After posting on my experience of anxiety just after my little girl was born the other day I realised I have quite a lot of thoughts that I should be jotting down, mostly things I wish I had been told before she was born, particularly surrounding breastfeeding and the 4th trimester.
We did free antenatal classes and NCT isn't available in our area so I'm aware some people may have better experience of this but i found ours pretty useless. I remember a whole section where the teacher told us it was okay to leave the baby to scream if we really had to, but nothing on normal newborn behaviours and actually helpful things about breastfeeding.

Things I wish I'd known:

Your baby is not broken if they don't want to be put down and you can not spoil them.
This is us at about 5am the day after she was born, I remember the midwives asking me constantly if I'd maybe like to pop her in the crib, but every time I did her eyes pinged awake! What was wrong with her? Why wouldn't my baby sleep in this fish tank thing that was designed for newborn babies?! Answer: she just spent 9 months inside a temperature regulated actual hot tub where she was never hungry, alone and it was always dark and cosy. You are not going to spoil a baby by letting them sleep on you. I'm being realistic and after a 24 hour labour and c section i did at one point let the midwife take her off for a cuddle so i could snooze but there's nothing wrong with your baby if this is the case. 
The fix for this came from 2 of the best ladies I know who clubbed together and bought us a 'you had a baby' congrats gift in the form of the Boba wrap. I loved this so much and the majority of those first few weeks was spent wearing it! This is our first proper venture out for Sam's birthday when Eleanor was almost 4 weeks old and she snoozed the whole time. I even had her in it to get ready:

My biggest piece of advice now to all new parents is to find a way to make baby wearing work for you. It's a real lifesaver and there are sling libraries in most towns so you can try lots of different kinds and find what suits.

Cluster feeding is totally normal.
Cluster feeding is a totally normal aspect of any breastfeeding journey in the beginning. I remember a comment "oh is that baby eating again??" which really knocked my confidence until I did some of the dreaded googling and found out about cluster feeding. In the beginning pretty much every evening looked like this (with the pizza as its very easy to eat one handed!!) and we had some days where I didn't leave the sofa either. Its about so much more than the milk baby is getting. They're establishing your supply, seeking comfort etc as well. Skin to skin at this stage is amazing, those snuggles will be some of my best memories forever and all the time it was helping Eleanor regulate her temperature, helping us bond and she was getting liquid gold milk :) 

Safe bedsharing. 
Shock horror! You bedshare?! Do you want to kill your baby???? This is something I was so so adamant I wouldn't do because I had heard AAAALL those horror stories and while the above picture isn't a particularly safe example (I was staying awake at this point and watching a film so I could monitor everything) we have used safe bedsharing guidelines and done it exclusively since Eleanor was around 10 weeks old. It's the best thing we ever did for our sleep and our breastfeeding journey. I'm not going to list all the research and guidelines here as I don't feel comfortable offering bedsharing advice but the Safe Sleep 7 is a good place to start with your own research. 

You will cry, oh boy, you will cry. 
 This was after a particularly rough day when all I had left to do was put her in the sling and hope that some closeness helped. Her tears had gone on for so long that I ended up sobbing out of sheer frustration and the heartbreak you feel from your baby being upset.
I don't think I've ever cried as much in my life as the first few weeks of Eleanor being here, I was suffering badly with anxiety in the start but I think even if you're not its such an emotional and hormonal time that its totally normal! Of course seek help if you feel you need to or if it's more than a few weeks. I've detailed more about how I felt in this instagram post and this instagram post.

The smiles make it feel so much better.
I can honestly put those first smiles up there as the best times in my life. It can be so thankless before them even when you know you love this being with your whole heart.

Don't put pressure on yourself.
There will always be people who do *something* if not everything "better" than you. DON'T LISTEN. So some people need to go to a million groups to stay sane, it's totally okay if thats not your thing. I personally haven't enjoyed them, Eleanor hasn't missed out. I used to do baby massage when she was super tiny, it cost £8 an hour and she almost always fed for over half of it. Some people will be out doing their weekly supermarket shop a week post partum, I personally have still not done that alone! Some people's babies will sleep through from 10 minutes old, I got much happier when i accepted it is biologically normal and healthy for a baby to wake regularly and no amount of lavender and strict 'routine' was going to change the biological norm. We are baby led hippies and I am totally okay with that now. Comparison is the thief of joy, so as long as you feel happy (mostly) and your baby is doing well you are absolutely smashing it. Who cares if Geoffrey's mum from baby sensory can shower and style her hair everyday and has a house like Mrs Hinch. She's not you and she doesn't have your baby. 

Trust your instincts.

I'm not advocating going against medical advice, we never did that, but we had some issues with weight gain in the start. Eleanor was born on the 91st centile, lost a lot of weight in the first 5 days and only got back to her birthweight on week 5. Eventually she was hovering around the 25th centile. We had lots of 'if this continues' etc from health visitors and GPs who kept calling us back for weigh ins, however, Eleanor was happy and hitting all her milestones so I couldn't let myself get too worried! She eventually started gaining properly and is now all the way back up at the 91st centile! We may never know why, but I'm so glad we trusted both my body and our baby to carry on without too much fuss. I had some panics about it of course because I'm me but it worked out!

I think I've probably written enough now! I could talk about this for hours and hours, I love the psychology of the 4th trimester and find it fascinating how as a nation we seem to have deviated so much from biological norm. I feel like theres a real shift coming again now though and it makes me so happy. This unicef leaflet is a major win in my eyes, as well as the fact I've now been informed there are posters containing the same words in the hospital waiting room. We already have enough to worry about as new parents without also panicking that we're ruining our baby and wondering why they don't love the moses basket we've lovingly prepared for them! We're having stone age babies in a space age world.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Our Scottish and Cumbrian Minimoon.

This earned us a few honks on the drive up to Scotland! 
After the wedding (catch up on wedding posts here) we took off for our little Scottish 'mini moon' I feel like a bit of a dingbat saying that but we have a proper honeymoon booked in September so it feels a little greedy to say we're having 2!
We stayed in the unbelievable White Tower of Aberfeldy and it really felt like the height of luxury. It was totally secluded up it's own road and every room brought more luxurious surprises.
T H E    T O W E R 
Drunken Boohoo purchase in the weeks leading up to the wedding!
Most of our pictures from the honeymoon are phone pics and even then we didn't get a great deal, we stayed off our phones as much as possible and it was so nice to be off the grid (sort of, there was actually 4g at the tower!). We arrived to a lovely hamper of Scottish goodies, and much to Sam's delight, some whisky from the local distillery that I had booked for us to tour the next day! 
I'm afraid this post may be a bit mismatched as I can't really remember the order of things, but here is a picture of the outside of the tower, and me being v proud of being designated honeymoon fire starter ;)  The top of the tower was the piece de resistance for me. Just wait to see what awaits you up there. 
I had hinted to the view of loch Tay with my earlier picture of my morning coffee (coffee so good it prompted us to buy a Nespresso immediately on return) but the hot tub was just the cherry on top of the cake. It felt like such a luxury and it was amazingly relaxing. Of course we had to have an afternoon up there with champagne (and wedding cake!). 

T H E   G R O U N D S 
We felt so lucky to be so secluded in this area with our private wood lined road leading up to the Tower, it was so lovely to explore and make sure we weren't completely sedentary in the hot tub all the time ;) We were keeping our fingers crossed that we'd see some deer as so many in the guest book had but unfortunately as we later found out on our highland safari the wind was wrong for them to be our way on. Who'd have known?!

I'm not sure you can visit the Highlands without going to a whisky distillery? Sam is a big whisky fan so I knew we'd have to check out the local one on this trip away. Dewars was absolutely amazing, even for someone like me who can't stand whisky. They had a great visitors centre and cafe where we had a delicious afternoon tea. I had booked Sam the connoisseurs tour as a surprise so after we had toured the facilities he got a whole load of whisky to try while I watched and didn't believe him that any of them tasted of anything other than alcohol. The staff were so helpful and even gave him a taste of a completely different whisky that he was interested in getting (and did end up buying) for free. I got a little designated driver gift bag with all the ingredients and the instructions to make a whisky cocktail once we got home, such a nice touch! 
Sam's honeymoon whisky. The bottle had actually only been filled the day before our wedding from a cask that they had on display in the shop! We searched for the perfect one that had been bottled on the wedding day however this was close enough. 

H I G H L A N D   S A F A R I
On one of the days we booked a highland safari which was so much fun. We went off in a land rover with our guide and a bloody annoying couple from Berkshire who thought we were young idiots (lol). It did nothing to ruin our fun and although we didn't actually see any wildlife, like I mentioned earlier, the wind was wrong (unlucky!) it was great to hear of the history of the area from our guide. We stopped in a bothy to enjoy a hot drink (me), whisky (everyone else) and some shortbread. 

E A T 
Most of our minimoon was spent chilling out and spending some quality time and chilling the heck out in the Tower but we went out for a meal and a few drinks (single malt whisky for Sam again!) in the local town, Aberfeldy, which was lovely to put a bit of make up on and get properly dressed nicely for the first time since the wedding! 

A P P L E B Y   M A N O R 
Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head back to Carlisle! The night we were back we went for a lovely meal at a nice restaurant, David's in Carlisle and then on to an amazing Spa break the day after that at Appleby Manor. 
We had been to Appleby Manor for a spa day before (I booked it without telling Sam thinking he'd have refused) and we both absolutely loved it so knew we wanted to extend our post wedding celebrations with a stay overnight here. We were here one week after the wedding and started our separate massages at exactly the time we were getting married the week before. I had an amazing Elemis rose garden massage while Sam went for a full body one, we both agreed that an hour just flew by! After that we had some time in the private hot tub with prosecco, not sure how we're ever going to be able to stay somewhere without one now ;) 
Then it was time to relax in our room with this lovely view before yet another A la carte restaurant experience. The food throughout our whole minimoon was bloomin' delish, I've never eaten so fancy! We just had some time for more hot tubbing the next day before a quick game of ping pong and pool in the hotel's games room and then heading back to collect our bb Charlie! 

It was an amazing way to spend our first week as a married couple as we just wanted to feel the most chilled out we could. 

Now we just have our real honeymoon to Italy in September to look forward to! Really spread out the celebrations. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

A new tradition: Alphabet dating. A!

Alphabet dating is not something we have come up with ourselves. We booked a 'we've been married for 2 months and don't have kids yet and can do stuff without too much planning!' date night to a local italian we've wanted to try for ages called Amato's and soon after I heard about alphabet dating so figured it was something we could have a go at!
Basically each month (or week or however often you want a date night) you find some kind of activity to match the letter of the alphabet. Simple.

Outfit shot courtesy of my real life instagram husband.
Dress and shoes are from ASOS and I would like to applaud Sam for his iPhone photography. Save for our wedding photos the few pics he took as we were on our way out are some of the pictures I like the most of myself. What a bae :)
I have to apologise for these grainy pictures from inside Amato's, it's such a lovely place with twinkly lights all over the ceiling but it is in a lower level building. I've always walked past and admired it and how cosy the atmosphere looked, it didn't disappoint! I didn't get any pics of the food as after this we ordered and popped our phones away to actually talk to each other, ew I know.
Sam had the largest portion of calamari I've ever seen to start and I had amazing mozzarella filled risotto balls. Mmm cheese. Then we both had penne with different additions for main and canoli for pud! I wasn't so fussed about the canoli as it was a little too sweet but the entire meal otherwise was just cooked to perfection.
After our meal despite already being tipsy on a few glasses of prosecco (I am a lightweight) we decided to extend our night with a cocktail at The Lane Bar. Again, it's a basement bar so not great photos! (what is the point of this blog post again? soz) I  love the vibe in here, I've heard rumours that its owned by some millionaire who basically just does what he wants and doesn't open if he doesn't want to. Someone tell me if thats true. It's the kind of eclectic, decoration wise, that other places try and fail to be. The cocktails are seasonal and delicious and they played the whole first album of the 1975. All winning points for little old "we're not hipsters" us.
Team tipsy Barnes. 

Ideas for the next couple of letters!
B - bowling, barbecue and (if we had the spare dollars, it will only be a few weeks to honeymoon when this rolls around) a trip to Bath! We'll just do the first 2 though.
C - cinema. (I can not think of anything else to go here!)
D - drive(??) dance.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Our wedding, the partayyyy.

The final instalment of our wedding series! Catch up with one, two, and three here. 

T H E S E   A R M S   O F   M I N E 
I'm not going to lie, we originally had the idea to use Otis Reading's 'These Arms of Mine' as we googled 'short first dance songs'. Neither of us are great at being the centre of attention and particularly dancing in such a manner that didn't involve much booty shaking on my part was unheard of ;) The more we listened to the song the more we loved it though, and I went back to one of the first mix CDs that Sam used to make for my drive home from Derby while he was at uni, and there it was! On the CD! Fate.

S T A R T   T H E   P A R T Y 
Straight after our first dance we had the DJ play 'one step beyond' by Madness which kicked off the dancing big style, it soon dissipated as the staff started bringing out the evening buffet, sliders and tacos and pizza, oh my! 
I now know that my friend's husband, Dave, is famous for his dances with brides and we kicked off the second round of dancing to 'Baby got back' that old classic wedding song. It was a very special first dance that we shared. 


I bought sparklers from amazon on a bit of a whim just a few weeks before the wedding, with that and £10 worth of lighters from the pound shop we were onto the winner. People enjoyed being kids again and we got some cracking pictures. We have lots of pictures from Henry of our guests enjoying them too :)

C I G A R S 
Lads, lads, lads! Sam took this time with the dudes from his stag do to enjoy some cigars he'd bought, I was inside eating chips, pizza and just the sausages and onions out of the miniature toad in the holes so I don't know what went down here. ;)

F I N A L    D A N C E S 
We played a song for each of our parents and I love this picture of my in laws after their song, sometimes its worth embarrassing your family a little by giving them a shout out and making them dance. We joined in so it wasn't like ours where every one was watching!!
This is the signature (and he states only) move of Colin so of course we had to partake, I didn't even notice Henry taking these pictures as we were in a circle of Barnes dancing with our elbows. 
I don't know exactly what songs these were we were dancing to but if the hen party was anything to go by it was either Taylor Swift, The Killers or some other song to do with butts. We are very sophisticated like that. 
T H E   E N D 
Before we knew it the day had come to an end and we were heading off to our cottage as husband and wife! It really was the most amazing day, if you're currently in the throws of wedding planning and not enjoying it, don't worry. I didn't enjoy planning at all and it really was the best day of my life. 
Thank you so much for reading these posts, particularly if you've made it through all 4! I really didn't want to leave anything out as these posts are mostly for our memories to look back on. 
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