How? How has this year gone so quickly? I still remember the day I gave birth and how I planned to have a vaginal birth but ended up with an emergency c-section.
I remember wondering how I was going to accept my body after seeing the scar and how bad it was. The wire in my tummy. The pain and uncertainty of not knowing if I’d be able to have another.
I also remember the feelings of joy and pride when I held my daughter for the first time. A little bit of me and my best friend. How perfect!
Cailyn is now 11 months old and to be honest I’m all emotional at the moment; seeing her stand, take steps, dance and copy things that we are doing. Her laugh is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. Her smile melts my heart and on a bad day she just needs to look at me with those big blue eyes and all the stress goes away!
Having a c-section doesn’t make you any less of a mother. I really hate it when I see people writing things like 'it’s the easy way out'. You put your own life on the line for your child. I’d say that’s far from easy, for you or your family. I struggle so much accepting the appearance of my scar, having no feeling other than the stabbing pain from nerve damage that comes out of nowhere. The most BEAUTIFUL girl came out of that scar but yet, I hate it. Funny that.
I watch her every day, doing yoga poses, the funny laughable things she copies off the TV, the dancing and squeals. The sense of pride, love and happiness that comes over us both. How can she possibly be one month away from being a one year old? All I ask is that she stays young and has the best childhood - let them be little!
This week we meet Kate, mum of three, founder of Petit Dunnocks and creator of THE most magical, glitter pouches and purses.
Tell us about your business?
Petit Dunnocks started in 2015 and makes sparkly glittery bags and accessories.
What inspired you to set up Petit Dunnocks?
I wanted to do something that I enjoyed but also something that I could do whilst still being at home for the girls - to still do the school run, be there for the homework and cuddles when they aren’t well!
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
The freedom it gives me to do other day to day jobs and the excitement of having control and making my own decisions!
Where can we find out more about your brand and beautiful bags/purses?
I have just started my own website - www.petitdunnocks.com
Do you have any other exciting news or upcoming events?
We are featuring at the Mamahood pop up shop this December in Brixton and have various Christmas markets coming up.
Thanks so much Kate! Wishing you lots of luck with your business in the years ahead! You can follow the Petit Dunnocks Instagram and Facebook pages for more info on where they'll be this Christmas, and for all of their news and updates.
Now if you haven’t already read the first part to this post, you probably should, or it will be like when you miss a week of Eastenders where you tune back in to a whole new bunch of cast members, the old vic has burnt down and pat butcher is dead.
So we can now gather that my experience of a c section wasn’t great, the recovery was horrific and I left you all wondering if I ever did start loving my kids. I can confirm I did! It was actually the day they BOTH decided to give me their first smile within an hour of each other. Something just clicked, everything fell into place, my eyes streamed hot salty tears and my heart just swelled for them. That day they obviously knew I had been struggling and those smiles were just what I needed and I will never ever forget those moments.
Going through that whole experience broke me, mentally and physically, but it was made a little easier by admitting how hard it all was; especially talking about how long it took me to feel that love for the girls. If anyone is in a similar position, just talk to someone. It’s normal, you’re normal, we are just all different and I promise you it will come in time.
This time around, when I found out it was twins again, I felt that dread that I’d have to have another section. I had resigned myself to it and accepted it but by the time my first consultant appointment came around at 20 weeks, she only went and said I could go with a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) as long as the presenting twin was head down. Halle-fookin-lujah!
Low and behold, after four, yes FOUR false starts I finally went into labour naturally at 37 weeks exactly (term for twins). With the added bonus, twin numero one, now known as Roux, was presenting head down. At 2am we got to the hospital and my contractions decided to stop, so the midwives told me to have a nap and at 5am my waters broke. Now thats an experience all in itself, they just don’t stop, I went and sat on the toilet and they were still leaking with every move I made. So bizarre. Why do they not tell you these things? Anyway, boom contractions were back and I had some pain relief in the form of paracetamol (insert unimpressed emoji face here).
By 8am my contractions were coming in stronger and lasting longer, and by this point the paracetamol was just not cutting it, so I was offered gas and air. Wooooo that stuff is good. After having a giggle about me thinking I sounded like Cher it all got serious because that pain just got worse, and worse, and worse. Finally just before midday I was 10cm dilated and was told I could start to push.
Now. I have a bone to pick. The producers of One Born Every Minute make this stage seem a very short period of time. Maybe ten minutes maximum. And also every video I have watched on childbirth has stated that the baby makes its way down the birth canal before crowning and then exiting, yes? As in it makes its OWN way down the birth canal, I didn’t sign up for doing that bit myself. I was pushing for an hour and a half, an hour and a half to move what? 20cms? How long is a birth canal? It cant be that long. But JEEZ it felt like it! Shattered doesn't cut it, I know I'm dramatic at times but I was on the brink of death by pain at this point and it was too late for a fricking epidural.
Next came the crown and exit, god did it burnnnn! With a few more pushes ( as if I hadn't pushed enough) my little bowling ball head Roux entered the world, he was looking slightly grey due to having the cord wrapped round his neck but he soon got some colour and was passed straight to Daddy for cuddles. The doctor then pinned twin 2 (now known as Etti) into place while she was still in my uterus to make sure she didn’t flip around as she was head down too. My contractions stopped, so they broke her waters as they were still in tact. Within what felt like seconds she shot out of my vagina like a little cherub on a surf board with a huge gush of waters. Wow. Just wow.
Firstly, I was exhausted, and I was for at least a fortnight, my body was so physically weak I couldn’t walk for more than 5 minutes without wanting to collapse or break down and cry.
Down below felt RUINED. Completely and utterly ruined, like a punched lasagne. I had had a couple of stitches, but they felt so weird and every time I sat down I felt this horrible tugging sensation which was so so uncomfortable it made me cry. Weeing and pooing has been an experience I don’t even want to delve into so I’ll save you that reading because it was just YUCK.
I feel like I’ve only just started to feel more like myself in the last 3 weeks, and the babies are 9 weeks old today. Once again I thought I would have been strutting about with my gorgeous babies in their pretty bugaboo donkey but alas it was not happening. I’ve desperately been doing a million pelvic floor exercises every day in an attempt to resume some sort of normality down there, but I also feel emotionally scarred as well as the physical difference. I can’t even watch anything birth related anymore because it just reminds me of that pain, and all that pushing. So much pushing.
Now I just want to make an end note, by saying that please don’t think I’m ungrateful for my experience which medically was trouble free. I know I’m very lucky that it all went so well, and a lot of people unfortunately have very traumatic births, things can go wrong, and some ladies don’t even have that choice and desperately want a natural birth but can’t due to various reasons. But we all have a right to have a moan and our experiences are our experiences, we have to own it and not be afraid to talk about them. And please do tell me your birth stories! We love to hear from you.
So with that, I will conclude that neither method is for me. I’ve done them both, I have four beautiful children and I love each one unconditionally. But I shudder when people suggest I try again for “just one more”. No, just no. My husbands bits are going into early retirement (snip snip!) because I will not be birthing another child until the technology is in place to beam that bubba directly from my womb, into my arms. End of.
Oh, October! You beautiful, autumnal month, you! Full of promise you came along, after a busy September, with the joys of pumpkins, Halloween parties, cute fancy dress outfits, log fires, scented candles and – for us, at least – childcare! A couple of days into October, however, it was apparent that these things were to be blighted by a cruel mistress: the unescapable winter virus.
For us, October was the month that our toddler was settling into nursery for two afternoons a week. We tried to settle her in during July but she was so distressed by the whole experience (repeatedly making herself sick and screaming for the duration – it was just horribly upsetting for all of us) that we postponed it until she was a bit older. This time round we’ve had great success and I am so relieved. It is just for two afternoons a week but I think it’s really good for her; the nursery that we have chosen are fantastic, really supportive and engage her in a whole heap load of activities that she loves. These afternoons promised me the chance to get on with some blogging, some freelance work and, as I’m now in my third trimester of pregnancy number two, some much-needed feet up time.
However, during these settling in periods, she caught every bug going. The sort of viruses that nobody really knows what they are or how to treat them, which you just have to ride out like a horrendous, never-ending car journey of morning sickness. She woke one morning – the morning that my husband left the house at 4am to fly away for work – with a burning fever and was really clingy. Not like her usual self at all. Obviously, I did all the usual: engaged in some paracetamol, whacked on Baby Jake and provided lots of Mummy cuddles. Little did I know, sadly, that this was only the beginning for my poor poppet. The virus quickly descended to her chest and her breathing became quite wheezy. I took her to the surgery, where we saw the practice nurse, and we were sent home being told it was “just a virus”. By the afternoon, I was timing her breathing and it was increasingly more rapid. I couldn’t get through to the surgery on the phone so I bundled her into the car and just drove straight back; totally the right decision. We were seen straight away and sent to Bristol Children’s Hospital where she was brilliantly looked after and treated with an asthma inhaler. They won’t diagnose asthma in toddlers, as I imagine most of you are aware, but I have it and I know how horrible it feels when you’re wheezy and can’t quite catch your breath. I could see the physical relief in her face as the medicine started to kick in. The old adage of trusting your maternal instincts never felt so fitting, that day.
She recovered well and, after missing one nursery session, was back the next week, fighting fit. This was when she caught the delightful D&V! So, then we had a week of wiping, cleaning, washing and disinfecting…and then I caught it! Oh, the joys of being seven months pregnant with the winter vomiting bug and a toddler to look after. It was bleak. We all know what those days are like, and I think the word ‘bleak’ pretty much covers it. She wasn’t well enough to go to nursery, obviously, and I wasn’t well enough to meet friends for playdates so we holed up at home and pretty much Just Got Through. I had to cancel the toddlers’ Hallowe’en party that we had organised, a family weekend with my sisters and lots of playdates. I, basically, felt like I was sending the apologetic text every day for 5 weeks! It started to make me really fed up and I felt like I was constantly just letting people down. We even had to cancel our Mums coming down to help, because we didn’t want them to catch it or pass it on to the others that they care for. Bad times!
Anyway, now we are in November and things – touch wood – are on the up. She’s back at nursery and hasn’t caught anything else, yet! Everyone keeps telling me that this is what happens when they start nursery – they bring home every bug under the sun. Even though the advice is well meaning, at the time it just made it feel harder, but at least her immune system will be bolstered and, to be honest, I’d rather she had all these things now rather than when she starts school. I guess it’s just been unfortunate timing with being so pregnant, but these things are sent to try us and all that!
I hope that your autumn has been far less beleaguered with the dreaded viruses that seem to come alive when the central heating goes on and the nights draw in. Here’s to a healthy winter for all.
I'm sure we have all had moments where we've caught sight of ourselves and thought "how did I let myself go out like this?!" I think it happens to most busy mums out there, certainly all of the ones I've come across! We are so busy trying to juggle kids, home, work and husbands that we barely have time for ourselves. Many mums will drop the idea of looking beautiful completely, whilst others will blame it on their busy lives. I've always been bothered how I look, I don't think that makes me shallow, for me it's about having pride in my appearance and feeling good about myself. So, here are my 5 beauty tips for busy mums:
who prefer to use ordinary nail polish I suggest something quick drying as this will help you get them painted and dry in 5 minutes.
2. Face and Eye Cream
Sleep is something we could all use more of, lack of sleep takes it's toll on your skin and eyes, the dark circles in the morning aren't something you can hide from! Find a face cream that works for you to keep your skin hydrated, but also an eye cream, for years I didn't bother with one, but arming yourself with a super-charged eye cream will help you wake up with fresh and bright eyes.
up on makes me feel put together and ready for the day, where I used to spend ages faffing over what make up I'd use etc. I can now be finished and ready to go in 5 minutes.
For me, if my hair is having a bad day it doesn't matter what else is going on with my face/outfit I just feel horrible. Try and get your hair trimmed regularly and make a little bit of effort with it, this doesn't mean you need to spend hours styling it. If you have long hair a simple pony tail is fine or for shorter hair clips or a hair band can make all the difference.
5. Prepare The Night Before
If you're working mum or you've got a busy day ahead prep as much as you can the night before or change your daily routine slightly. Once the kids are in bed hop in the shower or run a bath, use this time to wash your hair and shave your legs, using a moisturing body wash will help save a lot of time in the morning. If you're feeling extra organised you could even prepare your outfit for the next day. There are somedays I frantically try and find something to wear and end up grabbing anything. Getting everything ready the night before helps me to feel organised and put together.
Bonus Tip. Overcoming a bad haircut
We've all been there, that long overdue trip to the hair dresser that you've been excited about ever since you booked the appointment, that then turns into the appointment from hell. You walk out feeling horrendous, like the hairdresser has just massacred your hair. Unfortunately there is no way to get your hair to grow quicker but try to be creative. Think of some ways you could style your hair differently, use hair bands or clips to disguise bits you don't like, or if you're hairs long enough, a loose bun can hide most things and has definitely been my go to on a couple of occasions!
Me & You Raising Two
When I was expecting the girls I so desperately wanted a natural vaginal birth, and the less pain killers the better, because that would make me a good, strong person. Wouldn’t it?
I fell into the bubble of pregnancy forums during this time, and if you haven’t come across these places, you really do need to dip a toe in just for the experience. Don’t get me wrong, I have actually met some lovely people and their children in real life, which stemmed from our online friendships built in these forums. I've also had some good advice thrown my way from time to time. However, these forums much like any virtual vicinity these days can also be bitchy, nasty playgrounds in which vulnerable mums-to-be feel they need to fit into to meet an ideal which doesn't actually exist.
Debates between mums were a daily occurrence. One that used to come up every week or so, was the natural or c-section delivery. There were arguments about people wanting c sections for no reason other than vainly preserving their lady garden; some labelled them too posh to push. I remember one woman wanted a c-section so badly that she was genuinely going to pay in the region of £8000 because the NHS and everyone she spoke to within it refused to give her a section with no medical reasoning behind it. At the time I thought she was bat-poop crazy. Now, meh, I still do, but I also have some sympathy too.
Others would insist that epidurals used in vaginal deliveries were a cop out and that you should feel the pain in order to really experience child birth. If you didn’t try hypnobirthing you were a terrible mother and if you did you were a hippy. You just couldn’t win no matter what you did and these ridiculous notions about childbirth went on and on. I spent hours flicking through threads and getting involved in debates that I actually knew sod all about.
Naively, I thought my birth plan was going to happen. I would push out the twins with minimal pain relief and effort, and then I’d be up and about, strutting round town and showing off my babies in my new shiny bugaboo donkey in a matter of hours. What. A. Twat.
In fact I went into a silent labour at 34 weeks; silent as in I couldn’t feel my contractions. What a bonus I hear you say. Well, actually, both babies weren’t feeling a natural delivery and were breech so all of my fluffy perfect birth dreams came crashing down around me.
The medical staff told me I’d lost a lot of blood and then for some bizarre reason I was sick in recovery (cue massive panic attack thinking my new wound would burst open and I’d turn inside out with the pressure of the vomiting!) so they proceeded to pump me full of fluids. This eventually lead to me being stuck in a room unable to see the babies for a further 24 hours because my body was too full of fluid. Doctors surrounded me and told me I had to pee within the next 6 hours or they would have to put a central line into my heart to relieve the pressure from the fluid THEY pumped into me.
The days that followed were absolute agony. I walked like the hunchback of Notre-Dame for a good week- it's impossible to stand upright after a section without feeling as though your womb, intestines and any other abdominal organ will burst out of your wound at any given moment.
After a few days the hospital staff stop caring as much and stop wheeling you around in a wheelchair. One morning I had to walk to NICU to see the girls, and then on my return I couldn’t get back into the post natal ward because all of the staff were too busy to buzz me in. Genuinely, I thought I was going to die at that door. Slumped in a pool of blood, intestines splattered all around me. Ok thats a tad dramatic and obviously I didn’t die but JEEZ was it bloody painful.
The recovery was a long slow slog, I would wake during the night feeling like my wound was on fire which I later found out was the sensation of my nerves stitching themselves back together. I couldn’t exercise, couldn’t drive, and had this awful kangeroo pouch as part of my new mummy bod which I was struggling to accept. My beautiful shiny new bugaboo donkey sat unused for more than 3 whole weeks, and amongst all of this crap-ness I was still waiting for that tidal wave of love to wash over me. My babies didn't feel as though they were mine, I was in pain, feeling low and it was all the c-sections fault.
To be continued...
Sweet Tooth Super Mum
I recently went for a massage with the wonderful Emma from EK Holistic Therapy in Edinburgh and as I lay there enjoying, relaxing and letting thoughts come and go, one thought in particular stayed with me afterwards. When do we make time for our inner self? As I lay there, my imperfections and worries slowly began not to matter anymore. I really took the time for me, to rebalance, fully relax and be at peace with myself. I've never felt so calm and content, truly in a deep sense of relaxation.
'you can't pour from an empty glass - put yourself first'
I always take care of my skin, hair and nails but never my weight or my inner self. I shovel chocolate and toast down my throat with copious amount of tea and coffee. I know we all do it, it's quick and simple. As a mother it's always so easy to forget that we need to function properly too. I never tend to my inner self as much as I should. Mentally, physically or emotionally. I shut things down and push them aside, But you see my body, just like yours, holds onto all that stress & pain.
When you get that chance, go and book something that's for you, take that long walk, read a nice book with the candles on and completely shut off, relax, put some music on and focus on you and your breathing, nothing else! Take up that class you've always thought about, or even make small changes to your diet that will improve how you're feeling. Don't feel guilty and definitely don't make excuses - just do it and see how you feel afterwards.
Remember YOU'RE worth it, YOU'RE amazing and YOU'RE going to do it for YOU!
There's something so uniquely exciting about decorating a nursery. Creating a little world for your baby to love and grow in can feel like a daunting task, but it really doesn't have to be. I often gets lots of positive comments about the nursery I created for my little girls, so thought I would share some handy tips for anyone embarking on this rite of passage for the first time.
As tempting as it was to pick up the brightest pot of pink paint and go crazy on the walls, or paper the entire room with care bear wallpaper as soon as possible, I held back and painted everything a calming grey and chose cream curtains and carpets etc. This means you can change the room according to your child's likes and dislikes really easily and as often as required without too much effort. A care bear fan today may absolutely loathe them tomorrow. With neutral walls you can turn a dinosaur themed room in to a mermaid lagoon super quick with just a change of bedding and accessories. Go neural for your inevitably fickle future child.
You accumulate so much stuff when you have a child that you sometimes feel like you're drowning in it all. Save money and space. Choose decorative items that are also fun to play with, that way you won't be buying unnecessary clutter with only one purpose. Some examples are wooden building blocks, quirky dolls and interesting figurines.
They grow so fast. It's cliche but true. Things we bought or were gifted that were baby specific (e.g. Big wooden letters spelling BABY) were cute but were ultimately thrown out/given away, so I try avoid them when buying for others. I now go for things my girls may well continue to love all their lives like unique wall hangings or dreamcatchers.
If you are able, shelves and cupboards that your little ones can't get to are a really good idea. They have a habit of pulling every single item out of every drawer they can reach, so keeping most items high up will save you a lot of tidying up.
Or a blackout blind. When baby arrives your entire world will revolve around the new holy grail which is sleep. Keeping baby's room consistently dark when it's their bedtime is a small but significant step to achieving that holy grail.
With all this being said, having a baby and decorating a nursery for the first time is so exciting that, really, if you want to paint the entire room bright red and leave everything all over the floor so baby can have a free for all you should just do it your way! Create a room that you love and want to spend time in, and baby will pick up on that and love it too. As parents we can't help but put our stamp on our baby's room and clothes and toys- after all, we only have our taste to go off until our babies grow a little and start developing their own. And if a little bit of you goes in to that room, the baby will love it all the more.
If you've recently decorated a nursery we would love to see it, tag me @april.and.ariel or @mamamebox on Instagram to share your little one's new sanctuary.
Ever After With Kids