Friday, 27 May 2016

Spring reading & Growing sunflowers

Something we love as a family is to be outdoors. Children thrive on it don't they? And to be honest so do adults, so when combining that and doing simple things together can be such a pleasure. When living at our old house, we had a great time growing things one year with that being fresh strawberries to pick each day,  an apple tree, herbs and two huge sunflowers. 

Kids love to see progression for something they have done themselves, so physically watching something grow from the moment you've planted the seed to each little step of the leaves popping out and then the height ever growing is something they love to see. We've put our sunflowers into the garden now for the next step, we're just hoping that snails don't get hold of them! We've planted four, one for each child and we're going to see how they get on, care for them and read more about growing our own. 
Our kids have always been ones who love to be outside. They love adventure, exploring and creating, they love collecting bugs to try learn about and are always on the look out for different butterflies and are hoping to see a dragonfly one day. Something they have found fascinating before was watching the evolution of frog spawn in Grampy's pond, they watched them grown into tiny frogs which they held and saw hop around the garden and admired some 'Mama frogs' too. This is an extra special thing for me to watch as it brings back my childhood memories, i used to do the exact same in my old back garden and loved it!
The best thing is that fresh air is something that relieves us, opens our minds and unleashes opportunities for learning, it's free, fun and available anytime. I know from experience that it helps me to also clear my head, even if for five minutes. Kids thrive on this too, anytime they seem to be out of sorts, or in need of a change of scenery - the outdoors is always almost the best remedy. Do you feel this with your kiddo's?
The early stages of this years sunflowers.
 We have some lovely books all about nature and growing in gardens so it's nice to go through them this time of year especially & I thought it'd share them with you. All of these except one were actually found in charity shops, fates, or given to us from the nursery. I absolutely love them as do the little ones. YM's favourite is the garden wildlife book that her Grampy got for 20p at a fate, Usbourne books are fab!
Spring and nature book seletion
Back in 2013, our tiny Yve's with one of our sunflowers.
Amazing plants aren't they?
And here's our apple tree (that got two apples! ha)

Do you love to grow you own and with your littles? Do you have any garden projects on the go?
 I'd love to know!


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Sharing is caring - Supporting breastfeeding Mamas.

So this week saw the 'Big breastfeeding cafe' campaign with Medela, an initiative to help breastfeeding Mamas out there feel supported, get tips from others or even share their own. Hundreds of mamas across the UK uniting in what is such a powerful movement to normalise each of our breastfeeding journeys, and get talking to one another, share problems and not only that - but to celebrate how magical it can be!

I've written recently about our journey so far feeding our fourth baby, its been a tough few weeks but I finally think we've overcome the worst part - hopefully. In these posts, along with others I've written on this topic, i've expressed how I've felt in each of my feeding journeys, that they've all been tough at some point, but equally amazing. This along with the wonderful support I received from friends, and my local baby cafe. So for me, I would highly recommend attending your local Baby Cafe, (I even did the peer support training back in 2013 as I felt so passionate about it) I would also say that even though times can get extremely hard, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but to try and not get yourself down when it seems a bit pear-shaped. How you choose to feed your baby is your choice, happy mama = happy baby and vice versa but I personally have the biggest amount of gratitude for being able to feed my four babies and its something I will cherish forever. 

So for the Breastfeeding cafe, I wasn't able to host this time or attend, but I did make a batch of super breastfeeding flapjack to have with a cup of tea, while asking my friends about this topic. I got some great information from them about their experiences which i've shared below and I will continue to support others and hopefully get the chance to host a cafe soon. I will also be sharing the Medela tester products i recieved to give some of my new Mama friends too.
"I would say that breastfeeding my second baby was the most amazing experience. It made our bond so much stronger. And I'm so proud that I managed it for 18/19 months. There will be hard times but pushing through makes it all worth it. Remember that a lot of health professionals aren't trained in breastfeeding support so going to baby cafes, or taking advice from friends who have experienced feeding is definitely the best way of getting it right."
- Charlotte, Mama to two. 

"I was very lucky, I had no problems feeding my four. At one point with Scarlett, I did have mastitis which was painful but preserved and got through it thankfully. Honestly at times with my first baby, breastfeeding got me down, I used to hide away at family events to feed her and even in restaurant toilets, then with my second my fears went and I happily fed her anywhere! I fed both of them until they were 6 months because I hate to say it now but I wanted to be me again found it lonely sometimes. We did express so Steve could do the odd bottle feed which helped. When feeding my other children, it was slightly different that I had made the decision to feed Lexi until she was one. I think this was mainly due to her being poorly so young and our breastfeeding journey nearly being over at a week old as she was tube fed for a few days. We didn't know whether she would latch on again so it was emotional when she did. Certain family members frowned upon the fact that I fed her and Frankie until they were both one but it's what I wanted so their comments didn't matter! When I was coming to the end of feeding our last baby, I felt quite emotional about it, the closeness you have and that bond is magical! My tips: Don't give up supportive partner helped me, don't be afraid just remember it's natural, don't worry about the negative opinions, & don't put too much pressure on yourself.
- Heidi, Mama to four.

"I always remember the first time I fed my boy, I thought 'wow this feels easy' and it didn't hurt when I expected it would. However over time it became so unbelievably painful and my nipples actually went like black. I used to feel really nervous every time he'd need a feed and I'd wince with pain every time he started sucking to draw the nipple out, that was the most painful. BUT I persevered and it did get better, it became so it didn't hurt at all and I did it for 7months, as well as some formula from a bottle to top him up as he was a big boy. My Mum always says how proud she is of me for carrying on with the breastfeeding when everyone could see how much pain I was in, they thought I would just give up but I didn't. I would say to anyone to give breastfeeding a go at least, as it is an amazing thing to be able to do. Even when the going gets tough and your in pain and want to give up just know that it WILL and DOES get easier. It is just your body adapting to something new, I mean your nipples must think 'Woah what's going on!' when you have a hungry baby sucking on them constantly! That being said, I also respect people who choose not to breastfeed as it isn't for everyone and that no one should feel 'pressured' into it."
- Nicola, Mama to one.

"I would of loved to of breastfed but Tillie was tongue tied so she really hurt me, then she wasn't gaining weight due to a urine infection, so the doctors put her on formula. To be honest, the medical staff were horrid to me, the doctor said that I was her mother and I should be breastfeeding her no matter how much it hurt, that I was letting her down. This didn't help at all being combined with the fact that I had post-natal depression at the time. So for me, lack of sympathetic support didn't help. With my second baby, I lost confidence, I probably should of got help but had too much of a bad experience with my first that it ruined it for me, they where close in age so the memories were pretty fresh from the first time. With this little man I would love to try feeding, but I'm not going to put pressure on myself. I  do find a lot of judgemental people out there about breastfeeding in public which makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I will give it a go. 
Caroline, Mama to two & expecting number 3.

I'm so proud to be working with Medela this year, not only to talk about, & share our breastfeeding journey but to hopefully inspire others to see that its such a normal journey to be on. despite having some extrememly tough stages in each of my feeding chapters, I'm so glad that I sought after the right support, found it and persevered and thanks to BumpPR for getting me involved.
Please do check out the Medela Facebook page where lots of other people have shared their cafe experience, or simply supporting the event. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Our breastfeeding journey - A little update.

So on Friday, it was four weeks since our littlest lady was born, and my haven't those weeks flown past in an instant? I thought I would keep a little journal of how our breastfeeding journey is going, just like I have done with my previous babies, the ups & downs, and also offering any advice to anyone who may have the same issues. I recently wrote about some difficulties in a post called 'The early days - breastfeeding for a fourth time', in this post it detailed just how much pain I have been in and how desperately I wanted to over come it like i've done before. 

So its been another week or so since I wrote that, and I feel like even though we're not 100% there, we are gradually getting there day by day. Some feeds are more awkward than others where i've been using Medela nipple shields to try and help fix my nipple that was cut open from a few poor latches, baby doesn't seem keep to latch onto it as it's obviously a lot different to my actual boob but we've been persevering.

The things i've found that help along with the nipple shields are things like:

Making sure that the breast isn't so engorged, as this makes getting a good latch harder.
 so when feeding on one side I've had to either express or hand express some milk off the other side ensuring that I don't end up with too much milk which could block the milk ducts. 

I've also reduced the feeds on my worst side, up until then I was alternating side with each feed.
Something i've always done but something had to give, and it was out of my comfort zone to change what I knew, but i needed to give my sore side a break, then ease back in with one feed from it, then two etc which is the stage i'm at now.

Making sure that I am relaxed enough to be able to focus on getting the best latch possible. 
So for me, this has meant spending a lot of time at home where I can really concentrate on this, without worrying that i'm flapping around in stress if it's not going to plan. Not only this, I wan't to be able to feel completely comfortable when feeding anywhere, especially in public. I have been feeding in public, but only on my 'better boob' as this has been the best option for us for now. for me, its a matter of making sure i'm healing as best I can before attempting to just be able to pop her on the bad side without any shields or sheer focus. Actually being able to look away from my boob to get some water or something is as an achievement as she would clench down if pooping or needed to come off for a burp, and I would be left stinging and fighting back tears.

As of the past couple of days, we've been feeling less & less pain with each feed which comes with much gratitude, I'm still only feeding off my sore side once or twice in comparison to lots on the other side just to be on the safe side taking it step by step, our littlest lady sure is a piggy when it comes to her feeding and is gaining tremendously just like her older siblings did.
A photo captured by my little Halle.
Here's some other previous breastfeeding related posts:

Comfort in pregnancy featuring Bravado nursing bras.
Some of my favourite breastfeeding books.
The look of love - Breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding peer support training - Day three 

I'm so pleased to be working with Medela over the next few months. If you fancy taking a read of previous posts you'll find them here:

'Breastfeeding - My hopes and fears fourth time around'.
'The early days - breastfeeding for the fourth time'.


Friday, 13 May 2016

The Whirlwind of a newborn and taking it all in.

Our little baby is four weeks old today and we still are in this funny 'newborn haze', but more so a 'whirlwind'. As with experience, the more children you have, the more hectic it seems when you introduce a new sibling into the family. Time is nearly always limited, your attention is wanted to be split four ways (in our case) with our littles  and especially at their small ages of 5, almost 4, 2 and now a newborn.) not to mention us being a couple having to put us on hold for a while as we're trying to get use to this new adjustment having another little life here. 

I had little worries before having our baby, just the usual niggles when you're feeling super emotional anyway, and then worry how your little ones will be effected, will it be that beautiful relaxed newborn phase what it is named to be, and that we had with our first. The answer is no, and has been since having our second! Each of our babies have been born at completely different life situations to another, and have each brought elements which have meant that time is limited when trying to make the most and soak it all up. 

Now this isn't me having a moan, I'm extremely thankful, I just wish that I can relax and enjoy this last newborn journey that little bit more, we had two weeks with Mr T at home but even then it was back to school runs, time schedules and just being out of the kids little routine which made them a little out of sorts some days even though they were enjoying having daddy home - and me! 
I've written before about wondering if starting the school chapter was a right move for us as a family and that I'm still questioning as a slower paced life is what suits us, and having a newborn in the home once more is such a blessing, I just wish we had a little more time to process it as a family, Undisturbed. 

The past few weeks have been a challenge for me in more ways than one, physically and emotionally as breastfeeding has been so painful once again just like with my first. I've also written about the journeys here before but the ten weeks of pain with her were not fun but then I had her to focus on, where as now it seems time to recover from it, and even from the fourth time labour seems hard and rushed despite having support from Mr T while off work. 

All of this being said, we've been doing what we can, soaking up when we can and trying to make sure everyone's needs are met in this crazy but wonderful phase, as we definitely all know how it goes by in an instant then we're wishing for it back or to just be able to freeze time a little bit more.

We were saying just the other day actually that the more little ones you have close in age, it does make you seem to be in a state of blur more so. With this I mean that it still doesn't seem like we've had time to process everything, especially as this is our last time doing this chapter of our lives with the birth, newborn stage the upcoming milestones and growth all round. So for me especially, I have moments when im holding our little baby, as she's all tucked up in frog legs position on my chest, content with a fully tummy of Mama milk, I feel her deep breathing over me, her hands holding onto me, and the sweet smell of her newness sending me right back to that moment when I first held her and pulled her out the water onto my chest for the first time, and my heart starts to race, a rush of pride and love come over me all at once and thats when I realise that it has gone already, but its up to me to keep that memory alive just as it is with our other three children. I remember that moment so clearly with all three, and the moments after up to now.

So alongside all the madness, fast pace of the school run, the emotional outbreaks from any of us at times, the sleep deprivation, difficulties feeding still being present, and the feeling of not having time as a couple. I want to embrace it all, the changes, process & understand them and remember that we are ever so fortunate to have all four of them here in our lives with us, the little family that we created.

To know that this is life, things have to change, chapters come to an end but more importantly, new ones also begin too. 

All four of my babies have known this dressing gown since birth. They love it just as much as I do, I live in it at home! 
Milk time captured by Halle.
*I will be sharing our littlest lady's birth story very soon along with lots more new posts.*

Monday, 9 May 2016

Colourful & comfortable clothing for a Spring baby.

When it comes to dressing a newborn baby, I love nothing more than to keep things simple.

Our four littles were born in October, May, January and now April. So basically one from each season. Something that will not alter is the way I love to dress them simply in those first few weeks & months. 

Sticking to complete comfort while adding little elements of colour or keeping things neutral is something I love to do. With all four of our children, we haven't known the gender until we met them, so having a gender neutral collection of clothing has always been our 'go-to', that was until people then offered us lovely gifts with lots more colours and designs when baby was born. 

The design of clothing is a much more important factor to me when putting it on either child, toddler, but especially newborn. I am quite old-fashioned in that I love to keep them in babygros for as long as possible, those simple and fresh baby vests with short or long sleeves, maybe teamed with some baby leggings. Anything more than that or over the top just makes me feel like the newness of being a tiny baby is being rushed. Not only this, but baby's comfort is the main focus here so having soft, breathable and non restrictive clothing is at the top of the list. 

Recently I was contacted by Mamas & Papas to see if we would like to team up on some Baby clothing from their Spring collection. This contact came to me before giving birth to our little girl so I was wondering what I could order that would suit the season, our baby's size and the campaign itself. I found myself happily searching through the beautiful collections, this including the amazing collaboration with Liberty. I was itching to order something from this specific line but I had not a clue if we were having a little boy or girl and I was left undecided. The outfits are stunning, but as mentioned before, I wanted to keep things simple in those first few weeks and months so I opted to choosing some lovely sleep suits from the M&P range that come in a set of three, I chose the geo print as I love the spring tones to them and the little cloud decal on them, the fabric is really soft and the sizing suits our little girl very well as she's just popping out of her newborn size already (at three weeks old!), the 0-3 month size fits like a dream and washing very well.
I was also lucky enough to choose a couple more products, except this time I opted for two items in slightly bigger sizes so that she can wear the full potential of them in a few months. I chose this adorable floral print blouse and short set, and this red & white striped woven romper with cute pockets on the front - sticking with the spacious and simple elements while not losing the stylish design.

* I was kindly gifted these products for the purpose of an honest review. All photography, honest opinions and words are my own.


Saturday, 30 April 2016

Our family in April 2016

The month of April 2016 is an extra special one for us, its been a month of waiting, excitement, frustration and just a bundle of trying to cherish all the little moments in between. We've had some wonderful family time over the half term and then a bit of rest time before our little baby made her appearance!

Looking at this months photos means the world to me, not only is this my little family, but its the beginning and end of this chapter. The beginning of meeting someone knew even though it feels like she's always been around, and the end of the 'bring a newborn home' stage as she is 99% our last baby (see how I am still 1% in denial ;) ) we would love more little ones but we are happy and content, feel extrememly lucky for these four people we have. Our family of six, our wonderful tribe. 

This year marks that Mr T & I have been together for TEN whole years. In that time we have shared such a journey together, and in the last five and a half years we have brought four amazing little people to share life with. We were talking the other day in complete amazement at how we've got here already. Life can be a funny thing in such a bittersweet way, I want to freeze frame all of it, slow it down and cherish everything.

An outtake for good measure ;)

Friday, 29 April 2016

Making Mama life that little bit easier with toTs by Smart trike.

When it comes to being a Mama, I feel that one of the important factors to help things go smoothly is to have a little element of organisation. Now i'm not talking in huge doses as i'm not the best at being organised some times though I do try. With four little ones aged 5,3,2 and a newborn I feel this is a key element even in the form of a change bag. So when I was kindly sent this change bag from toTs by Smarttrike I was really happy to see what it could offer.
Wearing a back pack just takes me back to school days really, but wearing this felt really comfortable especially considering I only gave birth two weeks ago and am continuously suffering with a bad back from my weak core muscles. The sheer size and shape of the bag makes for a nice balance when wearing out & about to the park or trip to the shops. It also frees up your hands if you have more than one little one with you. 
To happily go alongside the stylish exterior, this wonderful design also comes complete with straps to attach to pushchair, change mat and case, a toggle to keep your keys within reach, insulated attachments for food or milk, waterproof and lightweight fabric and very clever compartments to sort everything into to ensure that little bit of help for a busy parent to small children.
I'm really impressed with this change bag, as the space availability is generous enough for general baby bits and 'Mum crap' as my other half puts it. The clever compartments make life a hell of a lot easier, even for someone like me who can lack organisation skills!
Just one more snap of this lovely bag as it just oozes effortless style! The one thing I would change is the obvious logo right on the front, a bag with a simple yet clever design shouldn't need such a massive sign to over ride the elements. Just a slight tweak, but in all honesty this would be the case from any brand as its something I usually steer clear from, even from more well known high street brands. Simplicity wins!

You can pick this lovely design up in any of the four colours, and retails for £64.99.

*I was very kindly sent this wonderful change bag from toTs By Smarttrike, however all words and opinions are my own.

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