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The Great Battle of The Christmas Ads (2018).

The Great Battle of The Christmas Ads (2018).

You know we are headed on a speedy trajectory to Christmas when you spot the Coca Cola advert on TV. It is an institution in itself these days and the chant of consumerism “Holidays are Coming… Holidays are Coming!” are a cheerful barrage… the friendliest assault and foreshadowing of the mad rush to come. Readying the troops (us as consumers) to buy far too much, then end up closing the year in misery; cursing the extra food we gluttonously gobbled because we have an increased waistline and decreased wallet size! … But we still fall into the trap EVERY  year.

At the time you just can’t turn down the extra portion of cold meats on a sandwich despite eating a bird, stuffed in another bird, stuffed in yet ANOTHER bird just hours before! Would we eat this many feathered friends in one sitting ordinarily?… heck no… but as it is the holidays give me more! And a side of pig, cow or little donkey for all I care!!!

My brain says there will be regret come January but in the moment my heart (and belly) says yes, yes, yes!

At Christmas we so easily become “yes” people and marketing teams certainly capitalise on this seasonal pull and the big supermarkets and department stores (looking at you John Lewis!) yank at our heartstrings and pockets, and convince us that their wares are the way forward. I wonder if they have a big meeting where they place bets on who’s advert is going to become the Nations Sweetheart for the year. It really feels that year on year, we are waiting for the gloriously, cinematic and epic adverts.

 

So just yesterday I finally saw the John Lewis advert, where they have drafted in the Uber talented icon that is Sir Elton John. Savvy move Team John Lewis as he embarks on his retirement tour next year and the film biopic “Rocketman” is also set for release in 2019! So it is going to be a year to come of all things Sir Elton as he hangs up his “old man’s shoes” (that is a reference to one of his tunes in case you didn’t guess!) and there will be countless documentaries and TV movies documenting his life.

John Lewis has gotten there first!

The #EltonJohnLewis hashtag is exploding on social media channels, particularly Twitter and I have seen lots of talk about the advert on my Facebook newsfeed too! I love hashtags. I litter them in my own postings as if they are going out of fashion! This hashtag is just delicious to me. Though it begs the question… will the John Lewis Advert just be remembered as “That Elton John Advert”? Not that that is a terrible thing. But are they relying too heavily on him to create a buzz and will it alienate the general public by making the central figure a star?

The formula for a great Christmas advert is first and foremost a strong, emotional story. The adverts have to take us on a journey and the John Lewis Advert does that in a very obvious way (albeit chronologically backwards) but it take the literal form of a timeline! It is never the less very heartwarming and I couldn’t help but to be taken in as it whizzes back to young Elton receiving his first piano.

Nostalgia and warm, fuzzy memories play such a huge part in the retail/consumer patterns we repeat. It is rather sweet to see an artistic representation of what made a persons dream come true. I think the criticism it has faced about being more about the life of Elton John than the spirit of Christmas is a little harsh as surely what sets our passions alive can be equated to the Christmas Spirit? Perhaps; like Sir Elton, our lives have been shaped by a gift that we have received at Christmas?!

The accompanying piece of music is the enduring “Your Song” (which happens to be one of my favourite pieces of music!) It is timeless and also serves as a nice John Lewis loop with the Ellie Goulding cover of it being utilised in the 2010 Christmas Ad!) That to me screams cohesive marketing! It’s a nod to a nod! There is Your SongCeption going on here! I think we enjoy episodes being wrapped up nicely, so the repetition of the musical choice suits our nature to close a narrative.

It is a nice advert. But it is no “The Man On The Moon” (arguably one of the all time greatest Christmas ads!!) or “The Bear and The Hare”. Also, in my humble opinion it is not the best offering for Christmas 2018!

My favourite is Sainsbury’s “The Big Night”. Everything is just great about it and I am all about the affirmation of self belief and how far it can take you. I think as a Mummy, it made my darn ovaries tingle again! All things child-centric warm my heart and there is something charming about the setting of a school play. It reaches in to my inner thespian that I left behind as I “grew up”.

 

 

The whole mini show to the tune of The New Radicals “You Get What You Give” is executed flawlessly and can we just take a minute to appreciate the most hilarious and Meme-Worthy moment where the plug launches himself at a socket?! I laughed out loud at this! How is it that an every day item has been elevated to the status of Godly proportions?! #PlugLife slays me as a hashtag and I loved that M&S gave a huge nod to this spectacular, visual delight in their tweet:

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You know your advert is going to be crowned as the King of Crimbo ads when you enlist the creative direction of none other than Michael Gracey who directed “The Greatest Showman”!! It takes the ever familiar setting of the humble “school play” and elevates it to fantastical levels! There is nothing more commonplace in the school setting than a nativity (I always wanted to be the angel but strangely was never selected for this role!) at the end of the year! But this play represents a modern appreciation of the festive period. Queue sparkly bauble, Turkey drumstick and set of fairy lights!

I think it truly hits the mark in all walks of life and is a piece to be proud of because it encompasses the joy of Christmas. The message is full of heart and the children (a tremendous cast of 59 little stars) are just so adorable that I couldn’t help “awww” my way through the advert.

The most talked about (and never seen on TV screen) advert of 2018 is Iceland’s “banned” advert that is central to their ethical and ecological commitment to remove Palm Oil from all their own range products by the end of this year! So; a good year for the environment but not so much for their advert rankings as it is a departure from the Feel-Good festive ads.

It is a beautiful and tragic animation about the impact of Palm Oil production on our endangered species (in this emotive piece an orangutan faced with the consequences of deforestation.)

The advert is certainly more far reaching and “for LIFE (literally!) and not just Christmas!”

The Managing Director of Iceland said:

“Whilst our advert sadly never made it to TV screens, we are hopeful that consumers will take to social media to view the film, which raises awareness of an important global issue. Our commitment to help protect the home of orangutans remains extremely close to our hearts. We are proud to be encouraging consumers to make more sustainable choices, even without the support of TV advertising, ahead of the Christmas shopping season.”

Luckily there is easy social media access to the piece, which is for of heart and social conscious (so in every way goes against the consumer aspect of the holiday season!) I hope that this piece of art sets ripples into action to protect our world and make it a better place for our cosmic community, children and sentient beings. This ad truly is the winning campaign if we disregard traditional channels of Broadcasting.

It is harrowing, yet hopeful… but far too hard to digest over Christmas dinner!

Whilst John Lewis and Sainsbury’s are trying to create an emotional connection with the audience “hey look! We are good/nice people and want to make you feel good/joy/Christmas Spirit too!” Waitrose and M&S are very transparent about their agenda of pushing product, products, product! It is obvious that their quality is superior (heck you know you “have made it in life” when you can do your monthly shop in these two shops!) but do we need that being rubbed in our faces at a time where we feel that we have to provide more and more for our families? Will our Crimbo Dinners be snubbed by the ones we love just because we didn’t invest in M&S Brussels sprouts?!!

Here are my Top 10 Christmas Adverts of 2018. (I am sure many of you will disagree with me! I have strange tastes!)

1) “The Big Night”– Sainsbury’s.

2) “Say Hello To Rang-Tang”– Iceland.

3) “Gifts That Get Them”– Boots.

4) “Kevin The Carrot Cliffhanger”– Aldi.

5) “The Boy & The Piano”– John Lewis.

6) “Elsie’s Gift”– Very.

7) “Secret Santa”– Cadbury’s.

8) “The Never Ending Stocking”– Tk Maxx

9) “Must Haves”– M&S

10) “Mistletoe”–  Waitrose.

Whats your Christmas List of Top adverts? Do you agree that having a more political campaign like Iceland is a great step forward? If you were in the Sainsbury’s advert what would you be dressed up as?

#StaySweet.

-Bea’s Mummy x

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Bea’s Joyful Gathering! (Jenny South Photography, Plymouth.)

Bea’s Joyful Gathering! (Jenny South Photography, Plymouth.)

This time of year is always somewhat of a whirlwind and never is this truer than with a sassy six month old. I feel that I have neglected my duty to this blog, but Bea and I have just been having too much fun for me to be tied down at a keyboard!

Last Monday it was a girly day with my Mini, Mother and Little Sister; all very civilised. A morning beverage down at the beautiful and historic Royal William Yard in Plymouth which is certainly one of our #HotSpots (great food, culture, events and businesses by the sea) then a photography shoot with Jenny South Photography to experience her #JoyfulGatherings sessions she is offering throughout October and November… perfect to get those Glad Tidings underway. Yes… I am “one of those people” that start celebrating *Christmas* (ah there I said it in October!!!!) as early as possible, and unapologetically in fashion, so what better way to involve our little Bea?!

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The studio is tucked away in a beautiful courtyard on the Royal William Yard site in the old Cooperage Building. You ascend an old stone staircase and a quaint studio awaits, set up for the session ahead. There was so much gold I imagine for us it was like when Howard Carter discovered the Tutankhamun Tomb! We love glitter and we love gold so Bea was ready to dazzle in her mini sequined romper (quite the miniature Kylie Minogue we thought!)

Jenny is so creative (you can literally see the ideas flying around her head!) and she works with her client to create memorable photographs. She is a storyteller and clearly loves everything she does. She certainly had a special way with Bea who was more than happy to pose happily in front of the lens. The relationship that Jenny takes the time to set up with you as her client is priceless and the pre photography work that she conducts ensures maximum client satisfaction. You have a pre-session consultation to discuss your requirements, and that time certainly assists you to narrow down your theme as Jenny can facilitate whimsical through to elegant and more. It really is a case of your imagination is your only limit as Jenny will work meticulously to deliver results that you can be proud of and share for years to come.

I think one of the words I use frequently to describe Bea is a little Diva so the shoot outfit was spot on to shine alongside her cheeky character. Jenny allowed Bea to get comfortable on the set and made sure she was at ease. It was honestly a laugh a minute and I was really relaxed as a parent on the sidelines watching my little girl pose and have a great time. I think it helps that Jenny has such great credentials and is part of BANPAS (which is the association for newborn and baby photographers) so peace of mind for the parents!

The communication is so easy with Jenny who makes herself available to answer any questions and does a wonderful job of keeping you in the loop. I was impressed that despite it coming up to the busiest period the editing of the images was done and full set of photos available within a week! I am a sucker for punctuality so this was a big plus of the entire experience.

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Click to book your very own #JoyfulGathering and quote BGBR01 for your discount!

The photos are just delightful! There is certainly an air of celebration and jubilation. I would say the images are classic, clean and just adorable! I feel that Bea connected with Jenny’s direction, care and photography style. I also appreciate the fact that Jenny is working with other local businesses in partnership to offer additional Seasonal goodies including personalised tree decorations and cards of the photos from her sessions with Faithful Designs. I love that you can keep your Christmas offerings so local and I will certainly be ordering in our cards this year!

I am thrilled to have experienced the full Joyful Package but there are so many options and Jenny works on such a bespoke basis you are sure to have your expectations met and exceeded.

Please feel free to use Bea’s Joyful Code: BGBR01 for your own experience.

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Here are the pictures. They just melted my heart and gosh darn if I wasn’t all a flutter for Crimbo and good tidings already I well and truly am now! Thanks for your time and kindness Jenny. May your sessions be full of joy! Get yours booked as they will be booked up very soon and I can assure you, you do not want to miss out on the fun.

To see the photo’s in their full glory please visit: Bea & Me: The Bea-Utiful Life Blog page.

Beas Mummy.

Jenny offered Bea and I a shoot free of charge in exchange for our honest review and Bea being a Brand Representative for Jenny South Photography, All view are my own. All rights to photography belong to Jenny South Photography.

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The Baby Box Debate.

The Baby Box Debate.

In my humble opinion, any initiative that raises awareness of SIDS is not to be ignored. In the UK, sadly 300 babies a year pass away due to unexplained death and these numbers could potentially be avoided by putting simple (but effective) guidelines in place to protect your baby.

The Baby Boxes (popularised in Finland that have been given to the new member of a family since the 1930’s) had been rolled out in Scotland for all babies born after August this year, but now (as with many topics surrounding babies and parenting) there seems to be a new voice of doubt from researchers; particularly Professor Peter Blair from Bristol University, who have penned a letter to the British Medical Journal to suggest baby boxes should only be used as a temporary measure and are not necessarily any safer than cots (as there is no evidence as yet to suggest that they minimise the numbers of babies that die from SIDS.)

I believe any sensible parent will realise that these boxes are not suitable long term and are certainly not a “substitute”- more an additional item in the Baby arsenal! Babies grow so fast even for regular sleep environments (bassinets/Moses baskets.) Prof Blair says the boxes are too small for babies over 3 months old but I highly suspect parents will not be attempting to jam their quarter of a year olds into what is essentially a cardboard box!!! Clearly they are not fit for purpose at this point, just like other traditional products so this seems like a rather pointless argument!

I believe the Royal College of Midwives understand the real value to these baby boxes. These pieces of kit could be invaluable to parents (particularly in more economically deprived areas) who may not be able to provide their child a cot straight away. There is no surprise there is a causal link between SIDS and poverty. Baby boxes give the opportunity for “an equal start in life” – as they have done in Finland for decades. This duty of care to new patents is a refreshing notion and I think it is important for new mothers to feel supported and that they have been provided tools to be responsible and loving caregivers.

My post today is in response to this mornings piece covered by BBC News here.

(Other BBC articles about Finnish Baby Boxes- 2nd August 2018 and August 15th 2018.)

I fully understand that any healthcare scheme requires rigorous testing and on one hand support that it is useful to get a better understanding of how families are using these boxes and any safety implications, but I more strongly believe (that as a Mother) you can’t really gain insight or perspective from science alone.

If just one at-risk Baby is saved by this initiative then I would describe Baby Boxes as an overall success. As a parent of loss, I can categorically confirm that nothing has ever (or I suspect shall ever) be as painful as losing a child. Our Nordic/Scandi European cousins are certainly socially more advanced and this impacts on excellent overall wellbeing. Finland has very low numbers of SIDS death, although this can’t be solely attributed to the boxes I think the levels of compassion and care available for families is undoubtedly contributing to a healthier and happier society and thriving children.

The bizarre arguments against baby boxes include: low airflow because of the high sides, parents having to look directly over the box to view child, flammable lids, risk from pets and siblings when boxes are left on the floor and questionable durability in wet and cold.

Now correct me if I am wrong but a) the box containing sleeping child will not be exposed to the elements/left outside to get wet and cold. b) if there is a risk of fire a cot will be just as susceptible to flame damage as a cardboard box. c) a responsible parent will not leave a child sleeping unattended for long periods of time and would be checking on their child regardless of what they were sleeping in and how the visible the material surrounding their child may be.

I was blown away by the Baby Box offerings whilst looking into essential baby products: in particular the My First Baby Box as it seemed the best value for money compared to other brands (although I did fall in love the Moomin design Finnish Baby Box as it is so whimsical and reminded me of my own childhood love of the Moomins!!) There is a link to it in case you have been inspired to go #ProBabyBox and enhance your babies first few, formative weeks as part of their new family unit.

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My First Baby Box – Essential Collection

 

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It is quite obvious that there has not yet been enough time utilising this initiative to have any quantitative data available, but until such time as there is a fatality that is a direct consequence of a box, I see no harm in enjoying the potential benefits of a Baby Box and I hope that this post will also get parents talking about the very real and tragic consequences of SIDS. It is good practice to have any scheme in place (whether it is successful in itself or not) that gets people talking about how best they can protect their baby.

Here are some potentially lifesaving tips to minimise the risk of SIDS-

1) Sleep baby on their back (not side or tummy.) If they roll over and you are able to do so return them to the back sleeping position.

2) Ensure the head and face are uncovered. (Be mindful of a Safe Sleep environment- no loose fitting sheets blankets, avoid using cot bumpers and make sure sleep space is not cluttered with teddies or cushions.)

3) If possible keep your home a smoke free area.

4) Put baby to bed in their own, safe environment and ideally in the same room as caregiver for the first 6-12 months.

5) If possible it is great to breastfeed baby in early weeks. (Obviously this may be a contentious point. I am not suggesting that formula fed babies are at more risk of SIDS but there is research that suggests breastfeeding may prevent SIDS for the immune benefits that can not be replaced by formula.)

The Lullaby Trust
Description: This poster provides an ABC approach to safer sleeping for babies, as a way of preventing SIDS. Resource details Publisher: The Lullaby Trust Date: 2017 Subject: Accident Prevention Language: English Format: Text/Images A4 poster

I think a debate about the benefits of a Baby Box is not required at this point in time. They have been championed by health professionals and at this moment in time are considered safe and have benefits that outweigh any negatives so far. I will be keeping an eye out for any information that suggests there has been no benefit to them but any awareness that improves the care of our children can only be seen as a good thing and I think Prof Blair forgets the human element; that these boxes are creating confident caregivers and providing the best possible sleep environment if homes are not equipped for a newborn.

Would you use a Baby Box as a sleep environment for your little one? Have you personally used a Baby Box? (I would love to see pictures of them in use and any testimonials are greatly appreciated).

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

 

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Dear Bea…

Dear Bea…

Dear Bea,

Our bundle of energy, joy, distraction from all the shit in this world…

Today is your half birthday.

What an adventure it has been so far! I never could have imagined that you would fill up all my little cracks and help me feel alive again.684E7048-8183-479C-9754-71819C4BE675

You came along when I needed you.

Like a gift. To me. To your Father. To our family. And dare I say it; to the world.

You are destined for great things. Until then I will hold you, and love you and teach you how to make the most of this world. I wanted to teach you about the world but so far you have really taught the world about you!

You tumbled into our lives- chaotically. In true Bea fashion… you did it “Your Way!” I wasn’t ready, as you made me double over with what I thought was “just back pain!” at first… but you were announcing that you were ready to BE! I was always so connected to you from the start. Your cord was not just a biological structure, it has joined us together and bound us for the rest of my life.

I always wondered why you punished my body throughout my pregnancy. My body had never been tested to the limits as much as the seven months I carried you. Some days it was almost impossible to get out of bed. I think only other Mothers will understand this. It is exhausting incubating and cultivating a tiny life force inside you on the daily!

I was scared every…day…. 99DD2D41-AAAE-4E6C-9E93-AF82F2BBDE1BScared that I wouldn’t get to meet you. Scared that my body would fail you. I was terrified every scan appointment that I wouldn’t see that flicker of a heartbeat on screen or hear your response to my call. “Are you there little one” “Yes I am!” you would triumphantly announce. And I could breathe again… and tick off another calendar day. Counting down to “V Day” (or your viability day at 24 weeks!)

I was sick more than I care to remember. Morning….elevens’s…afternoon…evening sick! The sickness was indiscriminate and it came whenever it felt like it!

The first trimester was the hardest. The fatigue gripped my whole body. Your vessel. At your whim. Everything was controlled by you. But I lived for those times you would pummel me. I felt you roll and respond to hot drinks, changing my body position to (try and) get comfy or when I slowed down enough to make sure you were still okay if I had encountered a stressful day at work. You were there.

I loved getting in the bath and watching you wriggle. I loved calling myself a Human Submarine. It made me chuckle every time. I am sure it wore thin with Mr G. It was almost like an alien creature was inside… ready to burst out! You whirled and flipped. You were a night owl. I felt you most between The Witching  Hours… you woke me up every morning between 2&4am!

I hated the times I had to rush into the triage unit because you were having a “lazy moment”. We practically lived in the hospital for the last few weeks that you were in my tummy!! I knew that you would come early. You were ready to meet me. You were ready to explore the world. I don’t think I was ready for you though.

I have never known such a strong yet tiny person. You refused to stay put for your second set of steroid injections! But your body was more developed than we could have imagined. You were a medical marvel and the junior doctors would visit you on their rounds every morning. You were quite the star on the ward! They even wrote a medical case study on you!

The moment you were placed on my chest  I fell in the deepest love I have ever known. You were tiny but fierce. You were a perfectly formed human in a more condensed space. 4lbs 8.5oz! You let out your battle cry to prove that you were a little warrior and you would take on this world. I was lucky that we were able to do delayed cord clamping (which would have been on the birth plan I never got the chance to write for you) so we were connected just that little bit longer…

It was hard to let you go… metaphorically and physically.IMG_2879

You were whisked away to the NICU after twenty minutes. I was greedy and wanted MORE time with you. I was so worried that you wouldn’t love me if you couldn’t be with me straight away. It was the hardest thing to be wheeled off to the Transitional Care Ward without you.

I was a Mother with no baby in my arms. Instead you were being held by the nurses  in NICU. And you were connected to machines with wires to help your underdeveloped lA833B9D8-50B4-49AA-B686-B9C45EAFC846ungs.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

I hated seeing you in your tiny incubator. Your see through box. Like a tiny doll kept in a toy box. You were under phototherapy lights to treat your jaundice so you wore a tiny blindfold to protect your eyes. You were connected to an IV drip. They wedged a cannula in your fragile arm. It looked so painful. I winced for you. Our poorly little Bubba. And all we could do was watch you from the outside.

You surprised us all by how fast you sped out of NICU and Special Care. There was nothing wrong with the inside of your body. Luckily the X-ray didn’t come back with anything unnerving after there was a grey spot found on a scan. It was a tense time. All I thought about were all the horrible eventualities of a preterm body that was just too little to survive. But you did. You thrived!

18 days trapped in the hospital was tough… but you were tougher and you pulled me through my biggest trials and tribulations. It made me realise that I was cut out to be a Mummy and a bloody good one at that!

These 6 months have been the hardest but the best times (so far!) and I have learnt so much about myself. I had just no idea how overwhelming it would all be especially as I had never factored in such a premature birth. As well as learning to “Mum” I also had to learn how to be a NICU Mum. I had to learn how to feed you through your tube which was very daunting. So many things could have gone wrong (especially in my sleep deprived state)… but they didn’t. And we worked together to get each other home!

Your early days were not easy. No version of Motherhood is easy. It is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure! But our sense of “nornal” was particularly peculiar. We muddled through. On one hand I couldn’t enjoy the guilty pleasures of newborn time where Mummies may ordinarily have time to catch up on terrible day time TV because I was on crazy pump/feed/care schedule for YOU. Everything I did was for you. I learnt true altruism during our hospital stay. I no longer mattered.9C32A726-162C-4146-BD5E-F880C37B3E1C.jpeg

The start our my journey as a Mother didn’t go quite to plan. It was hard. I cried, and cried and cried. For nearly 3 weeks there were times I didn’t know what day it was. Was it 1,3 or 5am? It didn’t really matter because for three torturous days I was without you. I couldn’t hold you and rock you. Go cheek to cheek with you. Blow raspberries on your soft belly skin. All I could do was watch you and pump milk for you. I hoped that you knew I was sat there, up all night just looking at you and loving you into full health.

I didn’t want to put clothes on you for those early days because I was scared that I would break you. Your limbs could have easily snapped- or at least it looked that way!

You grew and you continued to develop your hilarious personality. It has not been easy but it has been worth it. You have been difficult. Those developmental leaps have knocked me flying on several occasions. On those cluster feeds I literally thought my body could give you no more. But we started to get comfortable in a routine of no-routine. I wanted to spend as much time with you in the way you chose to do so because there are years to enforce an adult regime. I am not disciplined enough to stick to a routine nor would I expect you to be a little robot. You are my sassy, switched-on, funny and loving little girl. I respect you as your own person, and what a person you are becoming.

6 months in and I am exhausted yet overjoyed. Overwhelmed but not just in a negative way…. overwhelmed with feelings of bliss and love. Some days are good, some days are great, some days are bad and some are normal, but ordinary days are little blessings and times to take stock of all I now have as a Mummy.

You make me proud every day. You keep me on my toes. You drive me crazy. I want to spend every minute of the day with you but sometimes I want to run away, but then I feel so guilty because you flash me your gummy smile and it turns me to mush. Your laughs fill up my soul and I realise that I was meant for this life and we will navigate this journey together. You are mine and I am yours!

You are certainly my daughter. You are stubborn, you are wild and you love life. It wasn’t the easiest start kid but I wouldn’t have changed anything (well maybe I would kept you in a bit longer to cook if my body would allow it!) it would have meant you wouldn’t have had to experience the discomfort of a NICU start. I hope you don’t remember the beginning and the trauma hasn’t lasted. It doesn’t seem like this is the case.

I feel so lucky because your default setting is “smiles”!

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Other Mums have said their little ones do not smile like you. You were a smiler from the start. (I knew it wasn’t just gas!!!)

I can’t wait to see what the next six months bring. More love. More laughter. More milestones. I will support you and make each day a happy one as best I can. You are the centre of my universe. I revolve around you. I hope you know. I hope one day you will look back and appreciate what I have done for you or at least just know I loved you with my whole being.

You made me a Mummy again, and you made me a better person. Thank you for the memories so far.

Happy half birthday Darling. My pocket rocket! My reason to get up and attack every day with gusto and love in my heart.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your Momma Bear x

#SayTheirNames: Voices of Loss- The Collective. (Part 1)

#SayTheirNames: Voices of Loss- The Collective. (Part 1)

Bea is lightly humming in her sleep, as we meander back from our shopping trip to retrieve the imperative red pepper for tonight’s dinner! I feel blessed (if a little sweaty from my March of the Pram). The sun beats down on my face and I can feel my freckles triumphantly dancing their way to the surface of my skin. I join in Bea’s content sigh. I love the “Ber” Months for their stunning visuals in nature & the crazy descent into holiday preparations! I will not say the C-Word yet, but just know I am “one of those” & my tree will be erected (oooh’errr!) as soon as I have finished my Samhain (Halloween) Celebrations!

But this day of the calendar also marks a period that on one hand is rather somber. You wouldn’t necessarily be aware of it had you had a blissful birth experience, and all you have known is bringing home a baby in your arms. This time of year is for the parents that form part of an exclusive club that you would never in a million years wish to join. There is no word for us. When you lose a parent/parents you become an orphan. When you lose your partner you become a widow. But because it is so unnatural to even postulate, there is no word for becoming childless that is classified. We have given ourselves the title of “Angel Parents”; a badge we wear with pride yet tremendous amounts of sadness.

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A double blow for myself and my partner as we have to pass each 12th of October (Mylo’s due date) with no milestones actualised. The worst part of loss is that there will never be the “firsts” and you forever wonder who your little person would be. Mylo would have been a one year old in just shy of two weeks time. I wonder if he would be the spitting image of his father. Would he be pulling himself around our livingroom now? Would he be boisterous like me or more reflective like Daddy? Sometimes I find myself slipping into an alternative universe of “What Could Have Been”…

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My Mylo Bump Weeks 20/21.

This piece however is not just my story. I have been granted permission by several other Angel Parents to share their babies with the world over Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. We all speak together from the heart. We all feel the same surges of emotions and we all wonder why we were the statistical 1 out of 4 pregnancies that ends in loss. I hate to use the medical terminology of “miscarriage” because it does not honour our babies as the people they were. For the purposes of this piece I will try to avoid this loaded medical lexicon unless the Parent themselves have used those words as I have been granted the incredible opportunity to become mouthpiece for individuals of loss and I will be honouring their children by posting word for word. It is no longer my voice if you will. It is now a symphony of voices, each as full of pain.

These stories come from individuals in a Facebook support group that I have the utmost privileged of being an admin person for. “Angel Parents, Mums & Dad’s, Rainbows & TTC” is an army of parents who have experienced the loss of a child, during, shortly after birth or further down the line. It is a safe part of the internet where parents do not have to feel like their child/children require “Trigger Warnings” like so many other support groups. They can openly share photos of their angels with no fear of judgement so I will be doing this on their behalf of this post and will not be using a “trigger warning!” Our photos of our children are just as precious as the photos of any child at birth.

The group was created by Stacie Goddard (nope we are not related! Just a coincidence!) and she has recruited an almost 3.5k collective; all who have their own stories, and who support one another implicitly. Welcoming any new parent of loss into the fold so that we can all navigate our own feelings of grief. It is certainly not a linear process and as I have said before; some days are bad… some days are worse. We all need help sometimes and this group has been described as many wonderful things that relate to images of support, but my personal favourite continues to be likening it to a “safe port in the storm” because waves of grief can really drag you down. Nothing articulates the chaos of the tumbling feelings that combine and crash over you. They can be a riptide. You become helpless. But this group is very often a lifeline for struggling angel parents.

Please find listed below the first sets of stories of the members of the group. Firstly is Stacie’s as the owner of the group and how and why parents of loss have been brought together. Let’s #SayTheirNames!

Peter Ryan Tiberius Goddard.

I was trying for a baby for 4 years with my partner as I was told I couldn’t have kids. I finally fell pregnant I couldn’t believe it. At 6 weeks I started to bleed so I went to the hospital and had a scan and they said it was a threatened miscarriage. I thought at that point that was it ; I was losing my baby. But we proved them wrong again!

I went to the 12 week scan expecting to see nothing but there my baby was! Kicking his arms and waving at us! I had that image in my head for weeks every time I closed my eyes that’s all I could see. I was so ready to be a mum more then anything even though I was only 21. We bought everything you can imagine, planned how we were going to do the room, made a wish list for what I wanted to buy him for Christmas. Even planned matching outfits with my sister as she was also pregnant only 2 weeks ahead of me!

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I had a good 8 weeks after that 12 week scan, nothing to worry about I was past that miscarriage stage nothing can go wrong; or so I thought. The night before my 20 week scan I had a horrible gut feeling that something wasn’t right but I ignored it and just held my baby in my arms as I could feel exactly where he was I felt every kick and nudge.

It was the 20 week scan I was so excited to find out the sex I really wanted a girl but I didn’t mind either way. But the babies legs were crossed so couldn’t find out. The nurse became worried and asked if I had been leaking fluid. I replied no, to which she went and got a consultant and 3 other midwifes. I knew at that point something was wrong with my baby I couldn’t stop crying.

When the consultant came in he started scanning my baby and checking everything and he said he couldn’t find the kidneys and that I had no amniotic fluid. I didn’t know what this meant so I tried to stay positive. After the scan I had a long 2 hours wait before they explained to me what was going on.

I will never forget those words I’m sorry but your baby isn’t viable. They told me my baby that I had so longed for wouldn’t survive as he had no kidneys and was unable to produce amniotic fluid and because of this his lungs also wouldn’t  develop. I couldn’t stop crying I just held my baby and cried. I asked for a second opinion just to make sure but I had to wait a week as it was in a different hospital.

In that week I made a lot of arrangements and did a lot of research. I planned my babies outfit and every little detail of what was going to happen when he was born. I planned a photographer, a priest even a little tiny Moses basket. I went to my sisters midwife appointment as I thought it would help but I was dead inside. It happened to be my midwife. I told my midwife everything and she gave me a big hug and explained what was going to happen and how I would give birth to my baby. She then listened to my sisters babies heart beat and I just cried because I’d never hear my babies again.

She did the kindest thing and got me to record my babies heartbeat which I’ll have forever; so strong and so perfect. I had such high hopes that they were wrong, that a mistake had been made. I was now 22 weeks I made the most of my time with my baby still inside me. I spoke to it every day and sung to him. I used to play chase and tickle his feet when he stuck them up.

I went to that last scan with such hope nothing could be wrong with my baby- hes so strong and healthy. I was having my scan and they still couldn’t see anything. The consultant said the baby was suffering and that he was being crushed as there was no fluid to protect him. I knew at that point I had to do what a good mother should do and let my baby be at peace.

I will never forget the consultants words so cold and meaningless. “At least you fell pregnant, at least you can try again“. When I signed my babies life away and took that horrible tablet to get everything ready my baby was kicking me I felt like he was asking me no to do it. The next 2 days were horrible as I was constantly worried if he had all ready passed away but I was glad he didn’t when I felt him kick away.

It was Thursday the 30th June: the day I was to be induced. It was a very long process but I was having contractions all day. It came to half 2am on the Friday morning and the contractions were getting bad. The midwifes told me to start pushing and so I did. However 45 minutes later my body just gave up. I didn’t want to let my baby go I couldn’t do it. I remember holding my belly crying out “I’m so sorry baby I’m so so sorry, Mummy loves you so much” and the song I won’t give up on us was playing. I knew he was suffering. I knew it was time to let him go. So I pushed as much as I could.

There he was, my little boy was born! The first thing I asked was does he have hair to they said yes he does,its tiny but its blonde. I got them to put him straight onto my chest. I’ve never felt love like this before I also saw that he was a boy and cried my heart out my little man he was so perfect on the outside.

He was born and lived a few minutes on the 1/07/16 at 3:35am weighing a tiny 420g. We named him Peter Ryan Tiberius Goddard, named after Peter Pan: the boy who never grew up. I spent that day holding him kissing him and taking as many pictures as I could. I looked at every tiny detail and held his beautiful hands. However it was time to leave him.

The Labour Ward was getting busy and loads of women were in labour- it was breaking my heart knowing that their babies were going to be fine and I’ll never take my baby home. I walk behind the midwife’s as they took him up the ward. I looked at all the mothers holding their perfect babies and just cried. Why couldn’t that be me?

I said my final goodbye and left him in their care. When me and my partner got home I was so empty. My womb ached for my little boy. I felt like he needed me.

We had a beautiful funeral for him and my story was published in our local newspaper and it went viral – even making it to America! I have since been in the magazine Real People sharing my story raising awareness for pregnancy and infant loss and also Peter’s condition BRA.I have also had my story on BBC news. What I do is my son’s legacy through my work I am keeping his memory alive. I have helped 1000s of women to cope with the loss of their babies and even helped most to go on and have their rainbows.

I myself have gone on to have 2 very healthy, special babies after losing my Peter. I am currently up for nomination at The Butterfly Awards, which is my biggest achievement yet for my son’s memory! I will carrying on raising awareness for my son’s condition and for pregnancy and infant loss until it is no longer a taboo subject. I am 1 in 4 I have a son who is in Neverland.” – Stacie Goddard.


Iris Goddard & Bow Goddard.

“My story of missed miscarriage,  miscarriage and a Rainbow. I can’t write everything that had happened but I’ll do my very best.

So my story starts with a healthy baby boy. About a year after he was born I got broody again as most do! Had been trying to convince my partner to have another for months… He finally said yes!

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We started TTC, first month wasn’t the one, second month didn’t happen… The end of month 3 we conceived!! On the 15th November 2017 I found out we were expecting our 2nd baby!

We were over the moon! I was roughly 3 weeks when I found out. Weeks passed by and the sickness started to kick in, I had suffered with Hypertensives Gravidarum previously so expected it again. At 8 weeks I was leaking a lot of milk, I thought this was normal for some women…

More weeks passed, we brought a cot for baby, I didn’t think anything of it. Yes it was before the 12 week scan but I had never lost a baby, so I would be fine right?

The sickness started to go at around 10 weeks and I started to feel normal! I was so happy that I had skipped HG and was having a healthy pregnancy…

12 Weeks came, on the day… I had a very small spotting like brown blood, I asked my sister and friends, everyone rightly said it was nothing to worry about it was old blood! Probably meant i had a bleed weeks ago that my body didn’t let out.

But me being paranoid asked my sister to take me to A&E for a check over.
We got the the hospital, all happy, giddy and not expecting anything bad. Hours were spent attempting getting bloods, I’m a terrible bleeder… the doctor finally got my bloods after over 30 attempts, scanner attempt and finally got bloods from my groin.

He got a bed side scanner after bloods were sent off, so he could have a rough look at baby… I didn’t really see the screen, I went by my sister’s reaction and expressions…

The doctor said he couldn’t see much… Stacie tried to shed some hope my way and said “it’s probably because you’ve just gone for a wee! Your bladder is empty and these scanners are rubbish”… I agreed! Everything would be OK!

He sent us off for an hour or so while we waited for bloods. Stacie took me to the hospitals chapel, I didn’t think anything of it, I wrote a note for my baby assuring things would be ok, lit a candle and sat for a while. We headed back to the doctor. This is where I would learn the truth…

“Your bloods show that you are a lot earlier than you thought” immediately I said no! Impossible! I tried for this baby I knew all the dates! When we conceived, exactly how many weeks I should be… I asked him how early, he said around 8 weeks! He also said my uterus showed the gestation size of 8 weeks but no baby was seen. I roughly took it in. I said thank you and walked away.

As soon as we left that room I broke down screaming and crying into my sister’s arms, we both held one and other, I kept saying no and she kept saying I’m so sorry

Move forward a little, I told my family and friends etc, a scan was booked for a weeks time to see what was happening. They called this a missed miscarriage, where the body doesn’t recognise it’s miscarrying and carries on telling your body you are pregnant.

Almost a week passed and I had to travel to Devon which is a 7 hour drive there and back. I hadn’t miscarried at this point, only lost some blood here and there.

On the way back from the trip when we was about half hour from my home, I had a trickle of water and urges to push… surely not? At 12 weeks? Unfortunately yes. Stacie told me this was the start of miscarrying.

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I never expected what would happen next.In the back of the car I started to hemorrhage!! Losing hand size clots and gushing blood. My friend rushed me to hospital, I got out and stumbled to the reception, clenching my tummy, holding bloody leggings trying to cover all the blood over my legs. It was obvious- they sent me straight through, cannulated me and got me a bed in the A&E department.

As it was late at night there was no one to scan me or help! So they put me on fluids, moved me to a ward and helped me onto a bed pan every time I needed to wee. Every time I moved or stood up, more blood would gush. So the nurses told me to not get out of bed. My heart rate was rocket high at 160! One point I thought I was dying, I couldn’t talk, move, everything went blury and fuzzy, I heard my mum shouting at me telling me to talk… I thought this was it. I  would leave my son motherless.

The doctors stabilised me and I was able to sleep. I was in and out of sleep due to pain. The morning came and I had a scan first thing, the scanner was so shocked at the amount of blood just pooling inside my uterus and inside the cannal. She quickly turned to the nurse and said “get this woman in for an emergency D&C now!!” She put her hand on my shoulder and said how sorry she was.

I was wheeled out of the room in my bed, taken back to the ward where the anesthetist waited to go through risks of a D&C, I signed a contract and asked all the questions I needed. Waited almost an hour and was taken through. The surgery went well I was under so didn’t feel a thing. Woke up in recovery and had a blood transfusion and strong pain meds. I was allowed to go home about 5 hours after.

I got home and started the healing process, but contacted a uterus infection also which needed meds.  It was all about healing and letting time help emotionally too. It was tough, draining,  I never thought I would ever go through anything like that.

A few months passed and we tried again, I fell pregnant again on the 26th March 2018! Was over joyed and so scared but felt something was so wrong from the start…

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I was right, a few weeks later when I was 6 weeks, they tested bloods and it wasn’t  progressing- my hcg wasn’t rising. I had a scan and all that was seen was a sac. Why was this happening again! What was I doing wrong. I was a failure in every sense.

I was booked for another D&C for a weeks time and sent home.  2 days before my d&c I miscarried at home. I was shattered. Yet again I felt my body failed me. Why did this happen again? I had a healthy baby boy, why couldn’t I do it again? I hated myself.

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I got so suicidal, self harmed a lot and had crisis team out every other day.

Just May the 23rd I found out I was expecting again?! This wasn’t planned as we swore to wait almost a year! When I found out no tears of happiness were shed. I was sure this would have another tragic ending.

Weeks passed and I got HG! a sign that hcg was progressing strong enough! 6 weeks came and I had a big bleed. I was in hospital for HG a lot and thought I was losing again.

But I wasn’t! I had scans and showed a healthy yolk sac. Weeks passed and I had another scan which showed a healthy baby and healthy heart beat! I am now 22 weeks with my rainbow, still very anxious but more positive now.

Of course I will never be able to put into words the trauma that was left, the raw emotions, nights spent crying, all the hospital stays, all the hate, all the bullying that came from social media after Iris *I chose a name for my first loss as I felt she was a girl*… The world taught me about the stigma around miscarriage and how it should be kept secret and private.

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I disagree, I believe miscarriages have just as much right to he spoken about and grieved over, in which ever way… Your baby is your baby no matter what gestation or age. – Sheila Goddard.

Logen-Lei Carter.

“I found out I was expecting my first baby July 2017 after my ex best friend persuaded me to take the test as I was 2 weeks late. I always said and still do now my Nan sent me this baby to give me some comfort as I lost my Nan in January 2017 to a heart attack, but it did also hurt a lot as one of the last things my Nan said to me is “always wanted to meet my great grandchildren but now I never will.”

I told my now ex partner I was pregnant but sadly his reaction wasn’t the same as mine and told me unless I had a termination then he was going to leave. So I quickly made the decision that I would be a single mum, that I would find a way to manage on my own. 

Everything seemed to be going well with the pregnancy, I had all the normal symptoms and my morning sickness was bad. I was booked in for my first midwife appointment around 8 weeks. At the appointment she took all my information and told me I was was a low risk pregnancy. She said I would receive a letter in the post about my dating scan. 

2 weeks later I received a letter with with a date for my dating scan so I started to count down the days as I was so excited to see my baby on the screen. The day finally arrived for the 12 week scan. I entered the scan room and the scan begun and I could see my baby wriggling on the screen.

In the side room the midwife explained that the baby had some defects- 2 club hands and possibly a club foot, fetal Hydrops and a cystic hygroma. She said it was likely she had a chromosome abnormality but they weren’t sure what one. I had no words to say, I just cried, the one person who would have supported me was gone (my nan). The midwife carried on and explained I would need to see the fetal medicine specialist, so she handed me an appointment and said to go home. 

So my baby all these complications and some of them I had never heard of, so I searched the Web for some answers and researching what different chromosome abnormalities there were. I also found a group on Facebook where  I read many survival stories on babies being born with Hydrops. 

So with my little bit of knowledge I went to my next appointment. This time the fetal medicine specialist was in the scan and was asking to see certain bits of the baby. After ten minutes the fetal specialist took me into a side room to explain the scan. He said the Hydrops was now severe and her hygroma was stopping blood getting around her head properly which meant her survival rate was extremely low. He explained to me I could a have a peaceful termination but I would have to decide in the next few days. I told him I was not giving up, so he booked me another appointment to come back at 15 + 4.  

I went home with  mixed emotions but still hoping for a miracle. I spent the next couple of weeks holding my belly and talking to baby. I hoped my baby was a fighter like my Nan. 

 So the day for the next appointment came and I entered the scan room again. This time on the screen baby was still and heartbeat was very slow. A couple of minutes passed and her heart stopped. I always say in those two minutes she was waiting for my Nan to open her arms. 

I broke down in tears and stumbled to the room  where I was given five minutes to myself before they came in and explained what was going to happen next. I was given a tablet tablet that would bring on labour and booked into labour ward for 9 am on 27th September but was told to come back sooner if needed. 

On the way home I stopped off at Asda and got baby a blanket and a comforter. Once home I layed for hours and cried, played songs to baby and talked to baby as much i could. Contractions begun the next day at 7 pm but wasn’t ready for baby to leave me yet so I stayed at home. I got the hospital the following morning at half nine where they gave another tablet and then another at half 12 and another at half three. By half 3 my contractions was was extremely close together and my waters broke at 4. My angel was born at 5 pm weighing 15 grams on 27th September 2017, with two club hands, one club foot and and her stomach outside her body.

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I didn’t get to meet her until 10 pm as I was rushed into theatre due to my placenta getting  stuck.   

My placenta was sent of for testing and it was was found Logen-Lei had Edwards.” – Sophie Carter.

John Regan-Smith

“I found out I was pregnant in February 2017 me & my fiancée were over the moon I couldn’t wait for my 1st scan, my 1st scan was on the 16th May.

I got there and they were scanning me for over an hour. The baby was wriggling around. I kept asking what’s going on is everything ok, yea I’m just struggling to find something “do u want to no the sex” I replied it’s a boy isn’t it yes it certainly is… then he told me they couldn’t see my baby’s heart attachments properly & to not worry.

I was panicking so much.. I went back on the 22nd May & it was still the same they told me I’d have to go London for a scan to check properly. I walked out the hospital crying my eyes out.. not knowing was the worst! Is my baby gonna be ok? I had this horrible feeling.

On the 3rd July 2017 I had my scan at Kings College Hospital- our world came crashing down when we heard the words no parents should ever hear…. “I’m sorry your baby has no heartbeat”. I really wasn’t expecting our baby to be gone.

On the 5th July I went into hospital to be induced to give birth to him. (21+4) I didn’t believe he had died but it was true. On the 6th July at 2.45am I gave birth to our beautiful sleeping angel John Reagan Smith weighing 240 grams. Our son had CHD – my heart aches every single day for him.” – Stacey Cahill.

Sophie Newman.

“We unfortunately lost our daughter at 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant. But I haven’t shared with you all as to why. So I though I would.

The weekend before was the snow weekend, we were all having an amazing time enjoying the snow, I was mainly watching from the sidelines. That weekend I was also frantically getting things ready going into my final week at work knowing I was working past the point when I had Alfie.

The Sunday night I went to bed Sophie was kicking like crazy. I begged her to stop so I could get asleep as I knew how busy work was going to be. Went to work came home as normal Monday the 5th March at lunch time. I realised I hadn’t felt my baby move so I called the midwives, they asked me to go in at 4pm.

I messaged Jack. He said he should probably come. I didn’t think much of it. I tried lying on me left and having a drink -but nothing.

Went in at 4pm, laid in the bed when one then another midwife tried to find the heartbeat but all they said was no parental over and over again. We then drove to Bath. On the way over I was getting braxton hicks I kinda felt reassured she was ok. We arrived at the RUH at about 4:30 ish when we arrived I could tell by their faces they knew our baby had died.

We went into a room where a consultant came in to scan me. She confirmed that her heart had indeed stopped something I never thought would happen, how, why? So many questions.

We went home to try and process what was happening but again I had braxton hicks I couldn’t do this I needed our baby out. So we went back at 9pm after handover so they could prepare the room for us.

A midwife called Robyn met us and took us to the Forget Me Not suite, we were given our options for induction. It took 12 hours to start the process all seemed like such a long time.

Anyhow I delivered Sophie the following evening on the Tuesday at 8:50pm she weighed 5lb 15oz. When I delivered her the midwife told me that she had what’s called a true knot in her cord and wrapped around her neck 4 times. There was no meconium so they said she didn’t suffer. The post-mortem results came back that she was perfect no brain damage. Nothing . She was perfect – it was described like a switch one min she was all ok and the next she was gone.

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Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her one way or another. I will not be silenced about my daughter. She might not have taken a breath but she lived and she will live on.” – Natalie Newman

Stars, Precious-Mae & Neavaeh

“Sept 18th 2008 Nevaeh-Jon (14 weeks) Ruptured ectopic pregnancy, surgery to remove him and tube.

1st Nov 2009 Star (5 weeks) Early M/C.

1st Dec 2009 Star (4 weeks) Early M/C.

1st Feb 2010 Star (6 weeks) Early M/C.

1st Mar 2010 Star (4 weeks) Early M/C.

29th May 2011 Precious-Mae (7 weeks 6 days) Missed M/C

11th Aug 2014 Star (6 weeks) Early M/C.

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Nevaeh’s story:

I remember finding out I was pregnant with my first baby very quickly after I got married, I was over the moon! However, my excitement was short lived as I had started to bleed slightly and had some pains, the Drs said try not to worry as bleeding in early pregnancy can be very common. I was told that they would book me in for an early scan at the EPU at the hospital, ward 6X (a number and letter I would never forget)!

I went for my scan, the words haunting me today, ‘I’m sorry but I can’t see anything’ what did she mean? Can’t see anything?? Where is my baby? I was sent to the phlebotomist for a blood test and went home waiting for the phone call!

The results came back showed a pregnancy but they needed to repeat the blood test 2 days later to see if the numbers had gone up enough to show a viable pregnancy! The wait was agony but the day arrived and the results came back, the numbers HAD increased, I started to have some hope but they said it wasn’t quite doubled which they were hoping to see, so I had to go back again 2 days later!

That was the day my heart broke, the numbers hadn’t gone up at all, they were the same, my baby wasn’t anywhere to be seen and they told me I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy! I had to go for a lethal injection called Methotrexate (a drug used in cancer treatment) I sat in that awful ward (6X) again, in the same room as young girls waiting for abortions, this needs to be changed!

The sudden realisation hit me, they were going to take my baby, I cried, I didn’t want them to take my baby! I had no choice, I had to have that injection! After that I went home to recover, to try and get back to any form of normality, it wasn’t easy and I slowly started to feel a bit more like myself! BUT that all changed again, a couple of weeks after the injection I woke up at 5am in agony, screaming in pain and rolling around the bed!

My husband called a taxi and we went to the casualty department where I had blood tests, observations and then went up for a scan! The sonographer ran out the room and came back with about 4 consultants looking at the screen, one nodded and then the walked away, on the way out of the room I heard one of them say ‘surgery now’.

Surgery??? What surgery??? My now ex husband asked what was going on and that’s when they explained the methotrexate failed, my baby was still alive, still growing, 14 weeks gestation and he had a heartbeat, my tube had been ruptured and blood was filling in my womb, they had to do surgery to remove my tube with my baby still alive, still there!

It took a long time to recover physically and emotionally, the emotions still affect me at times but I have learned to live with it! I have lost another 6 babies due to miscarriage too, the pain doesn’t go but it gets easier to do daily things and deal with things.

This is my story and my babies existed.” – Penny Lanning.

These are just six women’s stories. Each heartbreaking. Each have an element of hope. I feel honoured to share them and to speak into existed their children that existed.

My hope is to share 15 in total if possible, to represent the fifteen babies that pass away each day. I hope that one day the stigma of sharing our children.

“A life is a life no matter how small” in the philosophical words of Dr Seuss!

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

If you have experienced child loss and are looking for a support group with a difference please feel free to join “Angel Parents, Mums & Dad’s, Rainbows & TTC”.

 

How to Deal with Parents of Childloss. (From an Angel Parent.)

How to Deal with Parents of Childloss. (From an Angel Parent.)

Of course every situation differs but I write this from my perspective having lost our boy at 21 + 3.

This piece comes from the depths of a shattered heart. I think loss is a very taboo thing and very rarely airs itself in the public consciousness. I must admit the thought of burying our child never once entered my head through pregnancy. And why should it? Pregnancy should be as stress free time as possible. Dare I venture that the majority of people in one sense take a smooth pregnancy for granted?! It is almost as if the joyous outcome is predicted and expected.

Its one of those things that you seem to not think about until your world crashes down around you and those months of planning for this little persons life to come becomes obsolete. And you know that your child existed but it is difficult for those parents who held their children in life to comprehend the “what could have been- now ceases to exist” and in your opinion value your “parentage” in the same way as there’s. Life is so fragile and can cruelty be snatched away for no reason.

The worst thing in my personal experience was the blame you attach to yourself. As the person carrying this life inside you feel like you should have done better. You have failed them. Your body destroyed what it had made. I hated my body and questioned whether it would work properly again.

I questioned whether it was my diagnosis of PCOS which contributed to my inability to carry my child to full term. The GPs words echoed in my head and through my entire body like shock waves of an earthquake. “The chances of you having a baby are unlikely”. Yet there I was defying medical odds. Sadly three quarters of women who suffer with PCOS are unable to realise their dream of bringing a child into the world and despite there being fertility treatments available the success rate of pregnancy across 5 menstrual cycles is only 30%!!!

I had changed my lifestyle to kick PCOS’s butt and was living with health and wellness in mind. I was doing everything for this child within me and I couldn’t help but feel that my body had betrayed me as my child lay lifeless beside me.

It was just a horrible chance occurrence. I could never have changed the outcome. I found that when talking about my loss many people did not acknowledge that this was an actual baby I had given birth too. He wasn’t just a blood clot. This was a fully formed person, with limbs, otherwise perfect organs and most importantly a name!!!

I soon realised that talking of Mylo made many people feel awkward. I could see that look of horror etched on faces. When I made it back to work I had very little support (mainly I think because I worked in a very male dominated environment! How is a dude expected to understand that tie you have to child from carrying them for any amount of days. No uterus- no opinion on pregnancy!!!!) They often left me alone to cry. They would skilfully dodge the subject when I offered to show pictures of Mylo. I just wanted people to acknowledge him.

That is my first and probably most fundamental piece of advice in your first interactions with a parent following loss. Ask them their child’s name. Validate them as you would any other child. You don’t have to look at the pictures as that I realise is a very “triggered” topic. I am not sure myself that before my own loss I would have opted to view a friends dead child, but as I say going through the event personally it certainly changes your persiective on a lot of things.

I have always been fascinated by the Mexican respect for death. It is not feared which I think is something very engrained  into the Western psyche! We fear the unknown. I guess it comes from our cultural privelidge of not having to witness death on a more frequent basis. We don’t confront it. We hide away from it. We painfully acknowledge it,  maybe send a bunch of flowers then refuse to bring it up in conversation again.

I am more inclined to celebrate that I grew a person and he existed. There was life (don’t try and tell me there wasn’t when I felt him pummeling my stomach just hours before he fell asleep forever!) and there certainly was love.

In conversation with regular parents who haven’t experienced loss they don’t seem to ‘get’ why Angel Parents collect so many “things” for their lost children. I was extremely lucky that our hospital has a deep routed understanding of dealing with childloss and they did everything possible over our three day stay to make me aware that on a personal level they recognised my boy as a person. Sadly, babies under the 24 weeks gestation (or viability marker) are not medically/legally recognised as a baby. They are still technically a late miscarriage or worse still “spontaneous abortion” – medical terminology still haunts me. Because of this parents of loss do not get to legally register their child so in the wider world there is no evidence of them even existing.

I think for parents of loss there is the overhanging feeling that their child was never recognised and that hurts the soul. Parents of Loss tend to collate pieces in their child’s memory as many children never had the opportunity to be clothed for their dignity. There are wonderful people who create memorial packs for the loss of children at any gestation. Please see “Neverland Packs” (even better why not sponsor a pack for £5 to keep an angels name spoken loud and proud.)

Because there are no regular memories to be made, parents of loss will dedicate areas of their home to their sleeping child. It certainly helped me to have physical objects that were tangiable to remember our Son. Candles hold deep symbolic meaning. I, for example, brought Mylo’s funeral candle home with us of which I light on special occasions such as his birthday, due date, days for remembering our lost children, Christmas and New Year. Luckily my family and close friends were all really supportive and understood my affinity with candles so joined in their glowing lights to remember their family member too.

Be kind to parents of loss. I know it is hard to find the words but here are a few phrases not to say:

“Time will heal the wounds…”

– no it is a suffering for your whole life. Time may “ease” the pain and you learn to live in a different sort of way to put yourself back together as best as possible… Those around you will move on but a parent of loss is stuck in a perpetual cycle of grief. It is not linear and on any day the sadness hits you in waves that ebs and pulls you down into the depths of despair. Also don’t ever imply that the parent of grief should move on. We can only move forward but it will takes years to do so. But stick with us and maybe say something along the lines of “How can I help you carry your burden? What do you need today? Remember I am always a text/phonecall away.”

Dont even go there with the prefix “at least”… nothing that follows this will be useful because there is no at least in childloss.

One of my biggest bugbears personally was when faith/Religion/God was brought into the equation. Grief is not indicative of lack of faith and it almost makes it sound as if this bereaved parent in some way deserved this loss for a past indiscretion. No one deserves to lose a child. It is honestly the most aweful feeling in the entire world. Faith should not be mixed with something so emotive… great your faith comforts you but it is not part of my life. I happily accept people’s prayers because ultimately this is just people sending well wishes and good vibes out of a secular setting so I welcome them as such BUT playing the faith card in your discourse of religion that is not relevant to me really alienates me because faith does not negate the ultimate human suffering.

Some days are bad… some days are worse… please understand that we will never be the people we once were ever again. Only the happiest versions of a shadow of our former self. This is not to sound ungrateful because my life is beautiful and I find things to be grateful for everyday and my beautiful daughter has coloured my life happy. We learn to live again in other ways but do not expect this over night. I found that I made plans with people but crippling guilt and anxiety would kick in and it would feel like the world had caved in around me or I had finally fallen into the abyss. I often had to project happiness #FakeItUntilYouMakeIt! I would force myself out. It was a time however that I made some very true friends who tried to understand what I was going through even if they had not experienced loss personally, but in this period I found that so many stories were similar to ours. People came out of the woodwork to say “me too”!!! And it broke my heart more that life can be so bullshit!

A great tip would be to put together a Care Package for your family member/friend because in the days following my return from the hospital I could not move for the bouquets around our home. It was beautiful but flowers soon wilt. It is important to tackle straight away a persons mental health so find little things that would make that person you know smile like motivational quotes, their favourite choccie bar & things to make them feel human again like a lovely pair of cosy socks or a nice piece of jewellery.

I remember coming out of the hospital and I felt that I had gained this new body that should have yielded a little life, but I had nothing to show for the transformation.

I had a #MomBod but no Mom Purpose. I sobbed when I had lost my Bump. There was nothing left of my legacy of pregnancy- just stretched skin, extra weight to shift and a broken heart. I clutched at my stomach in the shower the day after I lost Mylo and let the water wash my tears away and watched pools of blood trickle into the plug hole.

The worst thing is that your body still acts post partum so you experience the yucky biological bits. My boobs were swollen and producing colostrum. My husband and I tried to make light of the changes as I leaked from all sorts of body parts but I was in so much physical pain it was difficult to find as amusing as milky titty-patches may have looked from the outside!

Parents of loss could do with being picked up because they have reached the lowest point of their lives. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their child: “Tell me about your Son/Daughter” / “What’s your favourite memory of your child?” “What makes you feel close to your child when you miss them?” – more often than not your family member/friend will delight in sharing their story because to us our little lost ones are just as much a part of our family as any previous children or children to come.

I know this is a very emotive topic. If reading this blog has effected you personally there are great charities you can talk to who will help you through your bereavment journey:

I hope you can take from this post that things do get better and loss is not the end. There are so many ways to remember your child so do whatever is right for you. As a person on the outside just know that we need you there (even if we are angry, rude or distant.) This is when we need you the most!

 

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

 

My Favourite Moments of Pregnancy.

My Favourite Moments of Pregnancy.

Aside from the extreme fatigue, sickness and on occasion; crippling pain there were many times in my pregnancy that I felt truly blissful. I was thankful every day that I woke up to jolly kicks and every day passed was a little bit more of a relief (though sadly I had learned from my last pregnancy that there really is no “safe point” as I may have previously, naively assumed- 12 week scan most probably & 20 week scan… that I took so much for granted!!!)

Obviously the happiest times were the scans. Being consultant lead I had 4 extra reassurance scans and each time it is confirmed there is a heartbeat yours can finally slow. I loved watching this developing little human grow stronger. One of the scans she was being her utterly Diva self and would not position herself for a clear scan. The sonographer has to bring out what looked like a comedy, over-sized wedge of cheese to put under my hips to prop me into a suitable scanning position. Dignity certainly goes out the window during pregnancy… and let’s not even go there about the utterly indecent exposure & some in labour!

At the 12 week scan I was taken aback by how similar this scan was to Mylo’s scan. Only; this baby was slighter and my suspicions about Team Pink were confirmed then and there in my mind. We have both our children’s scans on our mantle piece & what is lovely is that they are facing each other. It brings me so much pride to see them both together- my two biggest accomplishments in life.

I know people have their opinions about the reliability of Dopplers (blah blah blah) but I found great comfort in putting it to my swelling belly and hearing the sounds of a healthy, happy baby. We even took the Doppler on our travels to New York over Christmas and one of my most treasured video clips is the sound of Bea’s heartbeat as the camera pans over the streets below & snow is falling. By the December I had really started to feel less anxiety about the pregnancy.

Below are some of my top moments with accompanying pics. I wanted to do everything possible to capture the full spectrum of joy.


12th Jan 2018- The Gender Reveal of Dreams!

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We all looked at the screen on this third scan and marveled at the perfectly forming little person, flipping and posing as of practiced for this exact moment! I was just ecstatic that there was nothing untoward in the scan. My hubby and I left the scan room to collect pay for the scan pictures whilst my Mother remained in the room to giddily find out the gender of her second beloved grandchild. I think it was as important to her to be involved in the gender reveal process to keep looking forward positively. Like myself, she is a lady who’s mind is always buzzing so she enjoyed having my gender reveal to focus on. She would not like to admit it perhaps but she is one of the finest hosts in the land!

It was a really exciting part of the pregnancy journey because I involved family and friends leading up to the reveal by getting them to predict the gender of our second child. It was very interesting to see the split turning out practically 50/50. It begs the question as to what makes this little person who they are and what characteristics are used from a picture to predict the gender.

Have you ever had people successfully predict your babies gender? Do you believe in the old wives tales? I found that this pregnancy was completely different from the start to Mylo’s I KNEW I was growing my little girly sidekick.

For two days my Mum busied herself with setting up our childhood home with an intricate reveal. There were balloons… so…many balloons that were just perfect. For these two days she was the only person who was certain of our babies gender. I can only imagine what a difficult secret it was to keep. There were no hints dropped even when I probed. This usually open book of a woman was very closed as others’ gender predictions continued pouring in and noted on our makeshift tally chart!

I picked a dress that made me feel confident. It just so happened it incorporated both blue & pink (this was accidental on my part but certainly added to the decoration littered around the living room. The whole reveal was rather theatrical (certainly up my street though I think something that was not necessarily a comfort zone for my poor Husband who was dragged into the high jinx along with my little sister!!!) The reveal was not an event atended by guests as I knew that this time I wanted to throw a Baby Shower. One person can not host too many events! So I settled my nerves and went “Facebook Live” to document the evening. It seemed to be a massive hit. My Mum had managed to keep it engaging. The main event was triumphant. My Husband and I stood beneath a huge, blacked out balloon. Inside; contained glittery bits in the colour to represent the baby inside me. There were two boxes in front of my Husnand and I. One box contained a balloon with the words “It’s A…”, but we didn’t which box held our exciting news.

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On a countdown we both opened our respective box and my sister popped the balloon above us so there was a flurry of PINK as the “It’s A Girl” balloon flew out and our future was confirmed. I was an emotional wreck but (almost) kept it together enough to sign off from my live Facebook session, closely followed by an audience, larger than expected. The outpouring of love was incredible and I was so pleased that I had correctly predicted who was growing away inside me. That was two for two! It just solidifies the fact that Mother’s have a deep routed awareness of themselves and such a strong link to their child that serves as almost a metaphorical umbilical cord throughout their connected lives!

The gender reveal meant that we could really start planning our future as a family.  Following the shock, tears and elation I figured that I would start getting practical about the situation and start buying in clothes that were not just gender neutral and planning the nursery scheme!

I have included the video of the reveal. It is a rather lengthy video and was much more exciting when it was streaming live. I have been thinking about this post and my abridged pregnancy and the point of the reveal ended up being the halfway point through my pregnancy!


31st March 2018 – Baby Shower- Let them Eat Cake!

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I was starting to feel large and less in charge of my own body but I was past the point of  “V Day” (or “Viability Day” – post 24 days which is one point that an Angel Parent like myself can breathe a small sigh of relief as my little girl would be recognised as her own little person & in medical terms was now a full fledged baby!) So this was another excuse to celebrate.

Having thrown one I am certainly a proponent of Baby Showers- why not eh? I was going to celebrate as much as possible! (See post on “10 ReasonsBaby Shower’s are a Great Idea.”) Again my Mum opened up her home to a cascade of beautiful, amazing, Goddesses on Earth who came baring gifts in arms and so much love in their hearts. I was humbled & blown away by the turn out as childhood friends mixed with family members, new friends chatted to old family friends and work colleagues mixed with friends I had drifted apart from but had made the effort to be part of my new life as a Mummy.

My heart swelled with pride as all my favourite people opened themselves up to meeting new people and being a little bit silly for the day… my theme was Unicorns (we had set up a makeshift photo booth full of unicorn props!!) and we played two games; one that could have been very hit or miss called “Dirty Nappies” where we had to guess what fully edible food item had been smooshed into a nappy representing the full spectrum of baby Pops to come- including full Poo-Nado!! Some were indeed very realistic!

The day was more successful than I had ever imagined it would be, it was pretty much an open house event so people dropped in as they were able to which made it a really relaxed experience. I hadn’t really set an end point but said people could leave when they wanted… good job there was no end time as people stayed way past any time I would have imagined which was amazing.

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One of the highlights of the event was my gorgeous Unicorn Nappy Cake. I refused to deconstruct it for ages as it was truly a work of art, but it literally contained EVERYTHING I would every need for my baby girl. It was a hard day when we had been home from the hospital for a few days and it came to the time to unravel the glorious creation as we needed to retrieve baby items!

The event was a perfect fusion of remembrance and nods to Mylo where possible, celebration & silliness. I wore a unicorn horn with purple tupee for the majority of the day so it was never going to be a normal event!

If you ever wish to host a Unicorn Baby Shower here are a few ideas below in the form of photos from my day:


11th April – Maternity Photoshoot- Feel like a Goddess!

In my time of adversity I was blessed with the most lovely people coming into my life because they had been moved by Mylo’s story. It made me remember that mostly the world is a wonderful place and at the core people are good. I forgot how many people had me in their thoughts and cared about me.

This was made obvious by the nominations for a Facebook Competition to win a Maternity Photoshoot with the wonderful Rachel Harris of Ruby Lights Portraits  in Plymouth who is an expert at empowering her women subjects and making them feel ruddy glorious!! So thanks to my lovely friends who wanted me to feel beautiful and lift my spirits I won, as towards the end of the pregnancy I was feeling really deflated and as if I was losing myself!

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Rachel drapes you in finery, guides you through posing to show your best angles (I wasn’t sure I even had any & I knew I was rather awkward with my body and posing but Rachel was so patient with me!) then produces the most beautiful quality images I have ever seen. I had been stalking… I mean perusing the Facebook page whilst I grew fatter & fatter and wondered if I too could look Bumpy and beautiful.

I was elated to find out I would get to feel like Gaia or another Goddess for the afternoon and play “dress up” for a purpose. I am a fan of all things regal, Lacey, glittery & whimsical so all the dresses I got to wear ticked all the boxes. I was so worried that I wouldn’t fit in the dress section as I have always had trouble finding clothes to fit my bizarre body shape (plus sized but short as I have never broken the height of 5ft!!!) and the previous images I had seen were of beautiful, skinny and taller women who clearly didn’t need any help to look good!

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I needn’t have worried as all four of the dresses fitted me as if they were tailored for just me! This confirms to me that Rachel truly is some sort of magical being and the dresses are from a Far Away Fairy Tale Land. With my hair and makeup professionally applied and preened I was already feeling the most beautiful… neigh sexy that I had felt in a long, long time. I was truly glowing and Rachel made pregnancy look ethereal and effortless.

There was the opportunity to really have fun on the set and I didn’t stop laughing for the afternoon & I was able to be myself and forget about anything that came before and anything that was to come and just be in the moment living my best life! If only I had been able to feel like this version of Amber the whole way through pregnancy, I thought to myself as the gigantic fan blew my glorious lose curls and I flipped my hair, posed like a pro (under constant guidance because my hand would often look “claw-like” instead of soft! Soft is one word that can not be used to describe me in any sense so holding my body in an aesthetically pleasant way was quite challenging!!) and made memories with what I now could see was a beautiful Bump for years to come.

It was timed perfectly as just five days after the shoot, Beatrice came into the world and my Bump was no more! If you have the opportunity to do so I would highly recommend investing in a Maternity Shoot as it serves to remind you just how beautiful this moment in time is. Until I saw the pictures come back I had not realised quite how prominent my Bump was and was always saying that I wanted more from my Bump, for it to really protrude but from the images I think we can all agree that I was ruddy HUGE! No wonder Littme Miss Bea was ready to come into the world!

 

 

So these were a snapshot of my most precious moments of pregnancy. What I hope can be taken away from this post by other Mums-To-Be is to take every opportunity you can to celebrate this wonderful creation inside. You are doing an amazing job and you deserve to be

a) looked after

b) feel loved & maybe most importantly

c) feel beautiful!

 

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#StaySweet.

Live Bea’s Mummy x

Every Day is a bakerdays! (Review)

Every Day is a bakerdays! (Review)
(The featured image source is: https://www.bakerdays.com.)

I was (literally) chomping at the bit to get involved in one of my latest collaborations with bakerdays!! In my opinion every day is a cake day so I was intrigued to see how many designs could be made available in a short space of time…. *** SPOILERS!!! *** there are literally hundreds of designs that cater to Cake Lovers from all backgrounds, bound together in time and space by their love of the good stuff! By good stuff I mean tasty, moist cakey goodness! Layers of delicious happiness in circular form.

bakerdays was founded by Andrea Guzyova and greeting card entrepreneur Alan Hawkes so you can guarantee beautiful design as well as great taste.

Myself, the recipient and only the top cake connoisseur’s in her friends list got to indulge in the beautiful “Peach Butterflies” Letterbox Cake that I lovingly selected for my Mum (good old Nannie H!) for her half century celebrations… or her 25th times 2 Life Experience Anniversary!

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If you are not familiar with the concept, the Letterbox Cake is conveniently packaged in a box that slips through your door, so it is guaranteed to make an appearance on the required day of the occasion; be it Birthday, anniversary, a congratulations, new job or just reminding a person that they are important to you through the medium of cake!

The cake is a compact 12cm diameter by 2.5cm height, made to fit through a standard letter box so your Postie can just put it straight into the recipients home so it is perfect for that thoughtful surprise!

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My Mother had expressed her wish for a quiet affair for her *cough* 50th *cough* Birthday. With her being less than cheery about the prospect and adamant that she wouldn’t be celebrating she begrudgingly decided on a High Tea at her house, and I was giddy with excitement as this would be the perfect setting for the Letterbox cake I was planning!

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I must admit that I was quite nervous about the condition that the cake would arrive in, and what was it about it’s tin vessel that would protect it from serious damage?! I seriously dread the state of deliveries coming from a logistics background; I see first hand packages being poorly handled, bashed around etc and I was impressed yet a smidgen dubious with the claim on the website that the cake would be packaged

“in a way to ensure that it survives the drop from the letterbox to the floor, while remaining in perfect condition.”

Innovative and unique to bakerdays, the Letterbox Cake can be used to deliver any message to the door. It is only limited to the senders imagination as to how they can utilise this edible bulletin! I toyed with the idea of the photo cake options, but found it slightly creepy to devour my own face and the faces of those I love so eventually opted for a pre set design with personalisation in the message.

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The website is easy to navigate but the challenge comes in selecting your “Chosen One!”. I spent over 40 minutes pouring over page after page of designs that each have their place and purpose and I could imagine the audience for each one. There were designs that I never knew would be required but when I saw them their relevance just clicked and I would be like “If I were an eight year old boy I would really dig this Dino design” or “If I was a lonely older person I would really appreciate the vintage designs of cakes to remind me that people remembered my favourite flower” for example. Such a broad spectrum of themes are covered.

I am a sucker for all things personalised because I love to work out what makes people tick. Obviously I know my Mother very well so I was able to pick out a Top 5 Of cake designs that would be meaningful and represent her.

As if the design choice wasn’t enough, you then get to select your sponge flavour that’s includes: traditional sponge, rich chocolate chip, lemon drizzle (which was my top choice), fruit or gluten free and dairy free to allow as many people to enjoy the cake as possible (with dietary requirements considered.)LemonRecipe

I asked my Mum what she thought about her bakerdays birthday surprise:

What did you find surprising about  bakerdays?

“The quality and look even though it dropped through the letterbox!”

What did you like most about your cake?

“The vibrant colours, font and design.”

How would you rate the taste?

“10/10. Moist, tasty, not too sweet.”

Did the cake taste as good as it looks?

“Yes.”

Would you send your own letterbox cake in the future?

“Absolutely it’s now in my gift list!”

The Letterbox Cake is guaranteed to put a smile on your recipients face and at just £14.99 with next day delivery (when ordered before 2pm) it is great value for money and could really get you out of a “jam” (pardon the pun!) if you have forgotten a birthday or event. It is a fun and thoughtful alternative to a traditional card delivery.

But it’s not just delicious cakes… bakerdays also provide extras such as helium balloons to accompany your cake as well as gifts that include diffusers, necklaces, mugs and fabulous pop up cards.

I believe that bakerdays could be your one stop shop for all events and highly recommend the service based on quality, innovation, aesthetics and taste. Hurry and use discount festive25 for 25% off all orders.

A very Happy Customer!

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The Motherhood Lessons Series- Part I: The Most Overrated Baby Items. (& the items that you can’t live without!)

The Motherhood Lessons Series- Part I: The Most Overrated Baby Items. (& the items that you can’t live without!)

Negotiating the ocean of baby products that are available on the market can be quite suffocating! Add to that the tides of “advice” and “recommendations” from everyone and their Nan- “Buy this!” “Buy that!” “This helped my LO sleep!” “This contraption is all singing and dancing!” “Buying this product will make you a better parent…” … you get the picture.

I didn’t ask for advice but I was lumbered with it in every direction I turned. I was one of those Mother’s who never picked up a baby book throughout my entire pregnancy because I believe (and still do nearly 8 months down the line of Motherhood) that babies can not come with a manual… they come with a Mother… who learns best the systems that work for her and her child! Don’t try and force your square baby into a round hole (what a strange image! I hope if there is anything you take away after reading this piece is this silly analogy; you have a little smile to yourself at the lunacy of suggesting squishing babies into different shaped crevices, then remember how individual and wonderful your own child is and appreciate all their idiosyncrasies, their love for you and how YOU too are as individual as a Mother!) #DoYouBooBoo!

If my parenting was analysed by textbooks I think it could be labelled “attachment parenting” and I am sure a lot of people would tell me what I was doing was wrong. But so far; there have been no scares and Beatrice and I work together to get through babyhood and Motherhood respectively!

It has taken some time, and a cloak of bravado to finally have confidence in my decisions as a Mummy. And judging by the Little Person who accompanies me on this journey daily, I am now confident in my ability as a ruddy good Momma Bear. And you are too! Did you feed your child enough today? Did you change them when they needed? Did you give them cuddles that sent them into soft slumber?… you did? Then you my friend have done a good job today!

But I digress… this post is primarily targeted at Momma’s-To-Be to ensure that your purchases are streamline, smart and save you money! You may be tempted to go all in, and a lot of recommendations will have suited the child of that particular Mummy. My main message is to stock up on the essentials and take the time to find out what products can be adapted to your personal lifestyle.

It is hair raising how much you could potentially save yourself. I believe a lot of baby companies are capitalising on New-Mother fear or even the fear of being a Mother to another child in this time. Perhaps there has been a 5 year gap between this child and the older child who didn’t have the wealth of products available in 2013 and in that time laws and parenting rules seemed to have changed over, and over so it can be overwhelming and quite confusing! Bam! In sweeps a retail giant with false promises of a happier baby. If they use this version of a rattle their cognitive abilities will advance three fold… blah blah blah.

A lot of products take up space and burn a hole in your pocket, so I also learnt that shopping second hand is not to be sniffed at! The quality is often so high because babies grow so fast that many items are used just a handful of times. It turns out also that one of Bea’s favourite toys was a £5 animal carousel that can be stuck on the highchair or just popped on the floor, that she bashes to spin and it features some adorable, colourful animals (including a tiger, lion, monkey, zebra and bee.) #CheapAndCheerful.

This is my own personal experience and list, but I hope it may help you make decisions at to what you want to include as part of your baby arsenal. I have also taken the liberty of including the savings to be made from either not including these items on your shopping list, or opting for less expensive alternatives.

So first things first…

1) Moses Basket.

Admittedly we had a much longer shelf life with our purchase because our tiny, preemie baby came home with us just over 5 and a half pounds and grew at a slower rate! This meant that she was still comfortably fitting in the Moses basket at 4 months old, by which time we were in the position to replace this sleeping arrangement with a more IMG_8242permanent solution (which has been a very USEFUL transition piece before getting Bea into her own room! More about this shortly!)

Moses baskets are most aesthetically pleasing and will look adorable… for a few weeks! We had been very lucky that a friend was selling her Clair De Lune Noah Moses Pod (RRP £110 and often these are sold without the stands! Madness!) and we snapped it up for just £35 which was a complete steal!

Knowing the lunacy of the market for these we sold the pod on again for £70 so we never lost money on this purchase, but if I were to “do over” the initial baby shopping experience I would have never opted for a Moses Basket in the first place. Instead the best bet is to spend out on a crib or next to you solution as it can be used until such time as you move your baby out of your room. 7 months of co-sleeping (the definition I use here is baby in same room), so for us the Babystyle Oyster SnuggleCrib has been invaluable!

I was lucky enough to have won this bedside crib through my hobby (some may call it addiction) of entering Facebook and Instagram competitions! So again this saved me over £70. I would however suggest that if you want to invest in a great piece of sleep kit then go for a Next To You style crib like the Chicco Next 2 Me. This is for longevity and is also very useful when breastfeeding.

Saving- £75 on the Moses Basket.

Saving- £80 on the Snuggle Crib.

£35 profit on selling Moses Basket on.

Money in my pocket- £190!!!


2) Sleepyhead of Sweden Deluxe.

I would describe this piece of luxury baby kit as style over substance. Yes… it’s very pretty and makes for some very cute photo opportunities but it is an extortionate price to pay!

The three occasions that we actually used the SleepyHead!

If you have been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with the Sleepy Head is essentially a pod that can be used as a bed or mat for supervised play or Tummy Time, but it is touted by famous people and those with more money than sense!

I barely used ours and it ended up taking up space in the living room. Sure it is more aesthetically pleasing than your standard, gaudy kiddy pillows or mats but you pay through the nose for that privilege! It is oh so hip, Indie and Scandi and a lovely “prop” to have if you are lucky enough to have a spare £130 knocking around… but in reality that is a sum that most Mothers-To-Be do not have!

There is also hot debate as to whether this pod actually meets the standards of Safe Sleep as defined by the Lullaby Trust etc as it only definitely meets the standards of  a pillow which it is not being used as, it is being promoted as a sleeping environment replacement and I would NEVER recommend it as such! The only truly safe sleep environment is a basket/bassinet/cot crib with fitted sheet and NO loose blankets, pillows, cot bumpers or teddies.

Influencers all over social media praise the SleepyHead but I personally found that Bea would not sleep on it any way and an activity mat provided more comfort, play opportunity and she would even fall asleep better on an activity mat after a good twenty minute kick about.

Luckily the SleepyHead was a prize I won in my mad, comping spree before going into labour! This saved me £130 of my own money!

The claims the proponents make about it are slightly ludicrous, especially when they say use it as a changing mat… this boggles my mind! Why would you use a white surface if there is the imminent threat of a PooNami?! Sure the covers are machine washable but I wouldn’t want to get any kind of unwanted staining on this overpriced pillow.

You could quite happily have your child propped on a decent Boppy Pillow at the fraction of the price!

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In the first six months there is very little sleep observed by your LO and Bea maybe napped for her 20 minute stints two or three times in the SleepyHead as she much preferred to nap on me!

I would certainly suggest doing your own research on these types of products but I feel like they are marketed to provide a solution for all your worries as a parent and prey on those unwelcome insecurities. Believe that you are able to provide the best comfort for your child without having to part with your cash over it. Not having a SleepyHead will not compromise the care of your child.

I would even go as far as to say that if it does work for your child, it is an excuse for lazy parenting!

To have Bea sleep in the day I would mostly just move my Moses Basket into the living room or have her sleep on me as she never slept/nor sleeps now for longer than an hour and a half at one time. Tummy time was hosted on an activity mat (Bea hated being on her tummy way up until her fifth month!) and changing was and continues to be done here, there and everywhere!

I feel like the SleepyHead very much is a statement to be made about being a fashionable/luxe Momma (that I am not!) and is very nice but not a must have! It is not as functional as the company try to make you believe and it is a bit gimmicky that it only lasts up to 6/8 months before your have to upgrade your Duluxe to the Grand (throwing more money at SleepyHead!!)

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When your little one has grown out of their Deluxe…why not spend another hundred or so on essentially the same item again…but with a different name… *rolls eyes*

Here’s a Boppy Pillow that you could use in exactly the same ways stated in the SleepyHead blurb (“around the house”, “changing”, “playing”, “bonding”, “co sleeping”, “lounging” & “resting” which are clearly not exclusive to this product!) and save you over £95! Sure it’s not as beautiful but it means that you can spend out for other products to use alongside it for the play & tummy time aspect.


3) Burping Cloths.

Luckily our little Bea was not a sicky baby so had I had an experience where she was covering myself and our home in vomit then I may have a different opinion on the matter, but as it is I can not recall a time I have ever used a burp cloth.

Instead just ensure you have a good stock of muslins which are hands down the most useful items to have at your disposal and invest in (other than the essential nappies/wipes). We particularly love the large muslins as they can be used in so many more ways.

We particularly love our Aiden and Anais Disney Aristocat 3 pack. They look so stylish mopping up food spills or sick!

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4) Nappy Stacker.

As a busy parent, I don’t understand why you would allocate time to removing nappies from their perfectly adequate packaging to organise/stack them in an “organiser”. They are not conducive to bleary-eyed night changes, attempting to grab at a nappy for a prompt response time. In the dark and state of confusion it is likely that you will rifle through and cause disarray to your precisely stacked nappies that can remain in perfect formation in the day time!


4.5) Nappy Bin.

In a similar pooey fashion the idea of a nappy bin disturbs me! Surely it is not hygienic to have poopy sausages festering away for a week?! Why not just make a poo run to the regular bin once or twice a day?


5) An expensive steriliser.

Again I don’t know if this is because I was primarily breastfeeding and it may have been different had I been formula feeding  for the majority of the time, but a fancy steriliser took up valuable kitchen top space and was a bit of a bind to maintain. Who knew these sterilisers had to be descaled so often which takes another 20 valuable minutes up of your time when you are running around trying to do 800 other tasks?!

I had the Tommee Tippee “Closer To Nature” 5 bottle steriliser (RRP £58.99) and it was fab because it is literally a push-button-and-go system. Though, I found that its condition deteriorated pretty fast (I initially had no clue about the need to de scale your steriliser on a 3/4 weekly basis!) so think money could have been better spent using the Tommee Tippee Essentials 2-in-1 Steriliser for just £12.99! I would always highly recommend  the Tommee Tippee products as I found that their electric pump worked better for me than the Medela Swing!


One thing that many people will argue is an item to avoid purchasing is a changing table as you do become a pro at Ninja Changing on all and any surface. You often just have the baby whipped down to their nappy in seconds on your lap!

However, I have a massive soft spot for my changing station as it was lovingly re-purposed by Nannie H. I paid nothing for the changing station (which was not the most beautiful piece of furniture in its past state!) and my Mum took it on as a fixer-upper project as part of my Baby Shower Gift. She lovingly laboured away on that piece over a series of evenings after work. She sanded it down, painted it, sorted out the shelving and then decorated it with the nursery theme in mind, and it makes a stunning focal point in Bea’s nursery.

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I try to use it every few days as part of our Bath, Book, Bottle, Bed routine, but I must confess it is not something I used every day, but I would never say it is an overrated item. I love that changing table with all my heart. I would highly recommend taken on a cheap piece of furniture and doing a little DIY project as it will save you a whole chunk of Baby Budget.

Other things that could be a drain on the purse: designer dummies (you will still lose these like regular dummies!), a wipe warmer, bath thermometer (just use your own judgement! Surely you know the acceptable range of temperature for the water!), baby shoes and one for the Mummies- stretch mark creams (regular lotions works exactly the same!)

Obviously this list is not the definitive list of useless items (there are some really bizarre items that can be found on the internet!) and I am sure people will disagree with the list and had a much better experience with the products I have listed.

It all comes back to the point that I initially made that we will find what works for us, so I would hope that this tongue in cheek piece does not serve as an instructional piece. Do your own reading, find what makes you and your baby happy. Just make sure you have the basics and you will have a happy baby.

Remember: a baby doesn’t need THINGS! It just needs you. #FreeHugs

What do you feel like you wasted the most money on? What’s been your Best Buy? Do you buy baby items second hand too?

#StaySweet

-Bea’s Mummy x

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Bea’s Favourite Handmade & Small Business Goodies: The Christmas Edit.

Bea’s Favourite Handmade & Small Business Goodies: The Christmas Edit.

*Collaborative post*- I was gifted the items below in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

At Bea & Me HQ we are riding high on the festive feelings that only the speedy descent into holiday madness provides! I blasted “Fairy Tale of New York” in a pair of cosy Winter Socks and this weekend we erect our tree, because nothing is better than a semblance of fairy lights and adorable designs that capture Christmas Cheer and your unique passions!

Too early… Boo Neigh Sayers and Bah Humbugs alike!! This is a Pro Christmas Zone. This is where glorious small businesses are totally “Sleighing” their crafts to bring their customers goodies to stuff in stockings, Christmas Eve Boxes and wrapped to bring delight.

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I don’t know if I am on The “Nice List” this year. All I can say, Dear Reader, is that I tried! I hope supporting independent creatives & vendors goes some way to getting me there though. Also bonus fun fact: this will be the first Christmas in TWO years that I can indulge in pate, soft cheeses and alcoholic beverages to my hearts content as I am not pregnant this year!

So without further a-do lets launch into #AVerySmallBizzChristmas, handmade with love or stocked with uniqueness and personality in mind. Rest assured these businesses can provide personalisation and cheer Christmas and all year round!

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These businesses have Christmas wrapped up (I am not even sorry about the pun!) but a lot of the items for review are every day items. As much as I love all the beautiful, festive offerings the longevity to enjoy the items is just not there so I have avoided Christmas Centric items that are all jingle bells but may be put away after a few weeks.

This being said, I am featuring one exclusively Christmas item but this can be used year after year! Because it is the gift that keeps on giving and can become a nice tradition.

So gather close Dear Reader and enjoy Bea’s favourite small businesses to buy from all year round!


roots and beets

Roots and Beets:          @roots_beets

Megan is a whizz at fashioning bibs and baby blankets in the most soft and gentle (and truly adorable) material. I always struggled to find bibs that didn’t rub Bea’s delicate skin and were easy to put on as historically when bibs have approached pre dinner time, a wild battle ensues that includes but is not limited to flailing arms, Neo style moves in the form of leaning back and angry war cries!F1A7BB39-9CE1-4A74-908A-6FB6E196D41D

As a #MumMaker, Megan has really thought about the practicalities and has kept in mind the comfort aspect. The bibs came into existence because her own little boy suffered with sensitive skin. Like Bea, he never enjoyed the prospect of Bib-Wearing (who can blame them?!) but the introduction of this design made meal times that little bit easier!

I have experienced the same ease of situation. With the snap fastener the bibs are quick to put on for minimal fuss (perfect damage control!) This handy fastening can even be closed one handed after slipping bib around your LO’s neck.

The super softness comes from the 100% Cotton Double Gauze (Muslim) which is an Oeko-tex Certified Material.

I fell in love with The Sugar Plum Fairy 3 pack (evoking my warm nostalgia of The Nut Cracker which remains a firm family favourite). The sparkly bibs are also Megan’s favourite to make! The colour set contains a pastel  pink, salmon pink and burgundy with White Pearl Pom Pom trim and gold studding to add extra sparkle. Who doesn’t want additional bling for the festive period over Christmas dinner?!!

The 3-pack-sets are a steal at just £19.99 and this saves you £3.41 when buying a pack as oppose to an individual bib.

There are various colour and design combinations (including polka dots and stars) that you can find on the Etsy store here. There is also a brand, spanking, new teal sparkly version available now! (Currently 20% off all bibs for Black Friday so 3 pack is £15.99 as of 21.11.18.)


bumbles studio

Bumble’s Studio:       @bumbles.studio

Kimi set up her business in March of this year (2018) having created clothing and crafts for her friends babies, and launched herself into the small business world as her passions took her there.

You can see the skill in the items that are handmade with such attention to detail. The passion is not only engrained in Kimi’s soul but she also achieved academic excellence in the field with her BA Hons Fashion Design Degree so the heart is certainly backed up by the skilled hands!

The teething necklaces really caught my eye as it is a very real struggle currently, though Kimi particularly enjoys making the dungarees! The clothing items are very impressive and with her embroidery machine can be easily personalised. The Bumble’s Studio experience is bespoke and colourful. The fabrics demand attention.

The teething necklace I was gifted is made from natural beech wood and crochet beads. They are fashioned with baby development in mind as the crochet texture and various colours provide different stimulation. The beech wood is untested and beads are crocheted out of 100% wool.

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2mm Rattail Satin Cord (various colours) is used to make the necklace, and the knots that hold the breakaway clasps in place are glued with a non-toxic water based craft glue for extra security. The necklace is perfect to wear whilst baby carrying or nursing and the breakaway clasp fastening is safe and easy to use.

I loved the colour combinations of the beads. The pastel is very striking and I found the length (about 60cm end to end) made it ideal for both myself and Bea. It wasn’t intrusive but could be easily accessed.


babaofmineBaba Of Mine:            @babaofmine

The Instagram feed is just stunning. *Queue major amounts of stalking!* Baba Of Mine is a Family Concept Store that stocks luxurious yet affordable brands including clothings, decor, gifts & books.

The store has its physical presence in Castle Donington and Rebecca is the curator of the beautiful things! She had such a passion for the business which possibly stems from her background in interior design,

“ I love every brand we stock that’s why we stock them! Design and ethos of the brand or designer is very important to us, to be blunt I’m very picky about what and who we put on our shelves. I whole heartedly try to support smaller brands if I think they have that ‘je n’ais se quio’ for example Matilda & Grace who designs and creates beautiful handmade bows & hair accessories in liberty prints.”

The business celebrates its first year of trade this December! The store is pioneering as it is one of the first UK stockists of a beautiful brand called Saga Copenhagen and Rebecca describes the store and it’s loyal customer base as a:

“welcoming, unique, beautiful, creative, community.”

We were gifted the “Planet Childhood” Organic Zoo mustard jumper which has become a staple in Bea’s Autumn/Winter 2018 wardrobe. It provides a colour pop 2d8276e9-e2a8-4c43-8322-c44ce046ca18and comfort. The big, jumper-hug comes with the organic cotton material used as Organic Zoo commit to sustainability, being natural and supporting people and partnerships. So not only are the products quality physically superior, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing you are advocating a ethical brand.

I could spend hours scrolling through Baba Of Mine’s Instagram feed and the captions really give you an insight into who Rebecca is as not only a shop keeper but a person. Also she is The Queen of the Flatlay and there are so many beautiful Christmas items featured currently.


boop

Boop Design By Victoria:               @boopdesignbyvictoria

A beautifully packaged babygrow came to us from Mrs Boop! Herself. There really is something special about handfoiled babyclothes. It just makes everything that little more special with a golden shine!

“I am loving the chance to create little pieces to mark the miraculous, exhausting  time of life for new mums and their tiny humans.”

Victoria has managed to amalgamate her two passions and backgrounds in art and Midwifery to bring a little extra sparkle to expanding families!

The business came into existence at the start of the year and Victoria has been creating many beautiful designs. Her first piece was the “Tiny Human” design which has a huge place in Victoria’s heart and is also her customers most popular design.

The first Christmas designs are a little more complex compared to the regular designs which are just beautiful quotes, pretty typography and simple design. They say it all!

The vests are rompers are available in grey or white with gold foil. The material is really soft and the fit offers plenty of growing room (available in sizes 0-3 with feet, 3-6, 6-9 Months depending on the design.) Obviously the Tiny Human Designs are only available in newborn size or 0-3 months as they are great as part of a homecoming outfit for new LO’s!82DDA731-E293-4B49-A520-977D3932327C

(All available sizes for designs are listed on the Etsy shop and there is a Mix n Match multipack saver offer available for just £26.50 and free shipping!)

Bea remained comfortable and stylish and the designs are heartwarming and unique.


bear in the hood

Bear In The Hood:             @bear_in_the_hood

Is there anything more adorable than a LO in a knitted headpiece with animal ears? I shall answer this one, Dear Reader…. No! No there is not! I was thrilled to be sent a baby balaclava and I have taken to referring lovingly to this staple headwear as a Bear-a-clava. It has come just at the right time as the design comes in 8 different colours; perfect for your own little cub to express their personality. Obviously I selected the pretty in pink version .

I was thrilled that Bea didn’t detest the balaclava being put on (as we are currently going through a rather fussy stage when it comes to getting dressed!) I think it is because it is such a comfy piece (knitted is always for comfort as well as style), with her extra tiny head I would say the 3-6 months gives her very generous wear throughout Winter and into Spring to keep her ears warm.

Bear In The Hood don’t just offer knitted headpieces; there are also bibs, bunting, prints, cushion covers and even seeing patterns if you are at all crafty and a dab hand at sewing! (If anyone would like to make me the “Very Easy Teepee” do get in touch! Ha ha!)

The products certainly have an organic look and they scream bohemian. They are for little adventurers and families that love the outdoors. Bea’s balaclava kept her most toasty whilst exploring the woodlands on a Nannie H road trip.

Pricing is very reasonable and competitive/affordable for the personalised rollers/t shirts & sweaters.

Use code FREESHIPPING for orders over £20 on the website. Also check out the Etsy Store here.


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Figgy & Fern:                         @figgyandfern

A newly established Instagram business who will be specialising in printing personalised babygrows and other clothing. So far on the page there is a rather adorable range of Breastfeeding Milestone babygrows which I think is very special (I haven’t seen these previously.) It is a unique range to celebrate together as a breastfeeding Mother and child and almost serves as a “ticking off” of the months invested so would make for a lovely way to capture the journey.

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I was lucky enough to win their first Instagram Competition which was a lovely silicone teether (it has come at the perfect time for Bea’s emerging gnashers!) She has been enjoying the pain relief. The teether is a combination of the softer silicone beads that are free from BPA and lovely wooden rings perfect for chewing. They are CE tested and compliant with European safety standards.

There is certainly more to come from this lovely small business, so keep your eyes peeled now and you can say that you supported them before they became big!


otto and oliv

Otto & Oliv:               @ottoandoliv

I could not be more thrilled when I was approached by Rachel of the lovely Otto & Oliv to offer one of their stunning printed illustrations! My inner paleontologist was itching to get a beautiful dinosaur in Bea’s nursery so what better opportunity I thought. The very Rawr-some and unique selling point of these designs are that each dinosaur is  actually anatomically accurate too, so not only do you get a fun and quirky print for your space but there is educational value too!43CA686E-C4F3-4DB9-8924-7306041C52E5

These designs have certainly filled a massive dinosaur shaped hole in the market of prints; yes there are a few cutesy dinosaur designs (some very cliche) but sometimes you don’t just want twee do you?! You want a design that punches you in the face with awesomeness and announces its arrival into your life! These prints certainly do this and you are able to find your own favourite dino in the repertoire of illustrations. I love the different galleries: Under The Sea (that includes plesiosaurs to the milo mosasaurus), Land and Sky & Triceratops Triplets (which was the design I ended up being most drawn to!) They also did a fabulous collaboration with Tales of Boys and created three prints with awesome life advice to live by with a dinosaur that matched the sentiment. My inner geek had a little chuckle!

I was gifted the Viola version of The Triceratops Triplets (PUTTY) range. It is an A4 digital print on gloss 175gsm paper. These types are ideal for rooms where the artwork will be updated every few years and the perfect Christmas gift in my humble opinion. Rachel also offers the giclee print om matte 315gsm paper which is a way to create a more permanent piece of artwork that does not fade or discolour for up to 100 years!!! I found this incredible to comprehend.

I just love how the brand came to be. Amazingly Rachel admits it was started almost by accident!

“I was on a beach day with a group of my friends who were discussing how they’d found it difficult to find bedroom artwork for their dino loving children that also complimented their interior design visions. I started a sketch in my bullet journal and before I knew it I’d received my first order whilst still sitting on a beach towel!”

Rachel has been an illustrator/designer for 8 years before setting up Otto & Oliv in July of this year (2018). Like a proud mother she couldn’t choose her favourite design-

I feel like my dinosaurs are my children and you can’t have a favourite child!

The process when drawing up a new design is very in depth because Rachel uses actual fossils of that dino to ensure the character is anatomically accurate and adds the “flesh to the bones” by listening to her favourite documentary podcast “Your Dinosaurs are Wrong” to ensure the creatures she brings to life allow for the most up to date information about that type and the artistic license with the colours and animal prints are at random, which I think is such an adorable feature!

Viola is a stunning triceratops with a peacock print around her head crest and comes in such beautiful antique rose colours. I chose this as it was an almost perfect match for Bea’s nursery decor! The playful triceratops is peeking out of her egg. She has two other siblings Indie & Bohdi. The design is so classy it really looks like an expensive piece but it is so affordable. The whole set is from just £25 depending on the size and printing method.

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For a fun and nerdy twist for Christmas cards I hope you check out their offering of three prehistoric animals in Santa hats! – Wooly Rhino, Sabre Tooth Cat and Wooly Mammoth. (They are majestic! Find them here!)

Order your first Dino Friend with 10% off using code NEWFRIEND and if you order via Instagram message please mention that you found their beautiful work on the Bea & Me Blog!


41E89684-1579-4931-AAC6-CF2F2C5B7E05Truly Scrumptious:              @trulyscrumptioussweetsandgifts

I was saving my most festive offering until last! I was lucky enough to win a Facebook competition with Truly Scrumptious Gifts & Sweets.

These are personalised wooden Disney baubles in iconic Mickey and Minnie design. It was lovely that we could decorate our tree with both our babies (it is so important that we remember our little boy at special times of the year too!)

These baubles are only £4.50 and Truly Scrumptious offer various wooden tree decs (including the Manchester bee too which look very striking.)

Check out their full range of goodies that will be fabulous for stocking fillers!

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As you can see, there is so much heart and skill in handmade gifts; for not just Christmas but all year round too. These creations are crafted by people who love their art. The wealth of items you find when browsing small bizz is outstanding and the business owners keep offering their customers what they want. There is such an ingrained personalisation aspect in small business, a high attention to detail and duty of care to their customer.

Will you be shopping independent this Christmas and what items have you/will you be sourcing?

#StaySweet

-Bea’s Mummy x

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“When in doubt … put a bow on it!” Review: Zo’s Bows & Bee Beau Co.

“When in doubt … put a bow on it!” Review: Zo’s Bows & Bee Beau Co.

I feel that it is about time to just rename the site now to the “Bow-utiful Life”! what with the bundles of utter hairbow joy Bea and I have recently received through the post. Happy Posts truly equal Bow Posts in my humble opinion.

Bea has become quite tolerant to… dare I venture ‘expectant’ of bow wearing on the daily. Once we had managed to escape from the Transitional Ward I would throw on a Headbow here or there to compliment her “tiny baby” outfits, but being such a dot, most one-size-fits-all creations were too big; so I went Bespoke-Bow Crazy and haven’t looked back since!

Nothing brings me more joy than scrolling through a fabulously glittery feed of hair accessories. What with our lack of hair situation we must request that the main design is affixed to a nice, soft nylon headband as Bea is still growing her hair back in after quite the significant hair loss (she was born with a full head of thick, dark hair!)

On a Bow Hunt exploration on Instagram I happily stumble across both these glorious businesses featured in today’s review. What I love is that there is such diversity in the UK Handmade arena which perfectly captures the personality of the seller and designs are (on the whole) very unique to that individual/brand. Another aspect that I love about shopping Independent is the real opportunity to communicate with the creatives & makers of beautiful things. You can really gleam a sense of their passions that explode from within onto their medium of choice.

Both Zo’s Bows & the Bee Beau Company pleasantly surprised me with their gorgeous offerings for review. I was blown away by not only the stunning designs that landed at Bea & Me HQ, but the generosity and true love-what-you-do attitude that wrapped us in a great, big virtual hug. Attention to detail and service are what has truly set these two beautiful shops apart. I couldn’t wait to ready the cavalry (my little human whirlwind) and enjoy the theatre of bows!

Zo’s Bows:

In a suitably girly candy striped bag, a flurry of zesty Autumnal and frozen-inspired Wintery bows flurries out into my waiting hand. *Queue my terrible rendition of Let It Go!* The first thing I thought was that the wintry goodies were plucked straight out of a fairy tale! These bows were clearly fashioned by a maker who understands what little ladies want.

0B5E180F-CA67-4DA8-A673-DC6B624C0B81This was confirmed by the lovely Zoe who explained how the business came into fruition just this year:

“I started playing around with ribbon last year after coming across some poorly made ribbon hair bows in a party bag my girls received from a party they went to…. these bows had glue hanging out
everywhere…they were uneven and fell off their sharp alligator clip after a few moments of my girls wearing them….. so I thought…I could make these! So I started practising and after trialling my bows in my girls hair Zo’s Bows was properly
established January 2018.”

I love when a business is fueled on a Mother’s love and the quality of the bows is certainly noticeable.

I asked Zoe to describe her business and the passion that bubbles out of her is infectious.

“Bespoke, Quality made Ribbon Hair Bows for all occasions, made solely by me with heaps of love.”

The love and care is so apparent in the design and uniqueness.

The Instagram feed is pure delight. I am like a kid in a sweet shop looking through all the goodies. The process from ordering to arrival is smooth and the communication 175F5CA8-877E-44F6-9420-65DDDFFB1AB0throughout is top notch. I think Zoe would happily chat to all her customers to offer the very best customer service and a real understanding of her market. I believe it is this that enables her to keep creating the designs that Mummies and their daughters want to accessorise in!

The wealth of choice is phenomenal. Zo is a whizz with ribbon bows, though admitted that she has not been as successful as she would have liked with the fabric and glitter bows but I think that is because she is a perfectionist. You really get a sense of this with every purposeful tuck. The precision is five star and you can tell that these bows are durable and will stand the test of time!

“My main motivation was my own 3 daughter’s…. they love hair bows and pretty ribbon and in the local stores I often came across bows that were quite pricey but poorly made. I have a tad OCD to perfection and my ribbon bows have to be made to the highest of standards…if I make a mistake I literally start again and since gaining regular custom over the past months alongside my girls being my motivation it is now also the feeling of pride when I receive positive feedback from my customers. Plus bow making is very therapeutic I love it! Only the ribbon ones though as I tried and failed at fabrics and glitters.”

It gives me confidence in the longevity of these beautiful products because they have been put through their paces by a #MumMaker with the highest of standards and three product testers on site!

We were gifted the floral Fred Bow, the floral/mustard Eloise bow, the two tone Scarlett bow, the snowflake Christmas Fred bow, the satin Ava bow in a wintry grey, the white sparkle Hallie bow & the bonus Christmas themed Mrs Clause number (which I can not wait to get her in for the run up to the festivities at Bea & Me HQ!!!)

Zoe offers so many bespoke options so you can create a bow that works for your preferred colour scheme. I think the little bits of sparkle that can be added take the designs to the next level from “day bows” to pieces that can be worn through the evening. I find that a little extra sparkle goes a long way!

Each bow has its own quirk, be it the loop, additional detail or colour scheme and I loved styling Bea. My personal favourite is the Eloise bow, but that is until I put the Mrs Claus bow on Bea as I am rather partial to character creations and a strong theme- I am “one of those people” who adore’s all things Christmas! It makes my soul sing!

I loved that Zoe provided such a great selection of her work. One of the big draws of her work is the sizing of her bows. They are mostly what I would describe as medium bows BFD4D1C5-D099-4E9D-B632-BE21A8D57CA1(with the exception of the Ava & Hallie) so I think a medium bow tends to look best for every day wear as it is noticeable, you see all the beautiful detail but it is not invasive. They are also easier to wear than oversized bows.

The nylon bands were soft and easy to wear without leaving marks on Bea’s head.

I love everything about Zo’s Bows; from the communication to the passion of the maker, to the colour pallet to the delicate details like “buckles” or glitter.

Bea will be sporting her Crimbo bow with pride next month so look out for that photo, Dear Reader!

Be quick to place your orders as the shop closes for a well earned hibernation from 23rd November until the new year. You can use FIRSTORDER10 on the Etsy store to grab 10% discount.

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Please join Zo on her special Instagram Market Night on the 30th November for the very last chance to grab some bargain stocking fillers for your little ladies. I know I will be there!

Bee Beau Co.

Click here for the Bee Beau Company Website.

“Bow Mail”and smiles come hand in hand; it’s as if a bow makes a lot of bad things seems trivial because, after all, how can you be glum when you have hair pretties in your life?!

In three of the most beautiful boxes I have ever seen, three beautiful sets of bows were presented, each with their own distinctive theme. I was captivated by the beauty as sets and individually; what made them even more impressive as singular entities is that they are fashioned from the best quality wool felt and non shredding glitter material that not only looks super luxurious, but stays put on your LO whilst remaining comfortable (with the softest nylon bands and grosgrain lining to protect little heads.)AE3A9D3D-5881-4CF9-9FD2-6D0669ABDE79

What I most love about the brand is that Renee sources her quality materials from the UK so you can trust that these creations are the best of British manufacturing.

Bea and I were lucky enough to receive three of the Christmas Sets to test: The Sugarplum Fairy Collection, Traditional Tartan and The Northern Lights Collection. They were beautifully packaged in a gift box so they feel very special and like a treat! I placed each box alongside one another and could not decide which collection was my favourite, as each box evoked a different personality from super sweet, to sensible, to edgy.

Interestingly many of the collections are named after little ladies that Renee knows  and her personal favourite is the Ava Signature collection, named after her very own little princess.

29AF24C5-2C52-41B3-A3E6-301A5A4899B8Again, it would seem that Mum’s are turning Business Woman because they find gaping holes in the market and realise that items are missing that they would be happy to put their own children in. Bee Beau Co was established this April (2018) as an answer to offering tasteful hair accessories suitable for fine hair. You can see that there is an emphasis on comfort and a section of the website is dedicated to school bows in the universal primary school shades of red, green, 25DB48A5-76C6-4644-8FE3-3BC62F17BECBnavy and grey. That is the roots of the design; from the simple and traditional to these exciting signature collections which are a steal at just £10.95!

Renee is so easy to deal with and will ensure that your bow requirements are met. Through our conversations it came to light that we are mutual bee lovers! (Yay! #SaveTheBees!)

I have thoroughly enjoyed pairing these bows with outfits and I particularly had a day of compliments when Bea was sporting the Northern Lights glitter bow which changes in every variation of light. Very much like the aurora borealis you witness such beauty in the change from blue, to gold, to green; twinkling in its majestic splendour! I had lots of people asking me what colour it was and I told them it was any colour they preferred on the blue or green spectrum. Honestly my photos do not do it justice sadly! The sparkle is phenomenal.

The headbows are so dainty and are perfect for small heads because the details are not overpowering. I just love the craftsmanship of the felt flowers. They are in beautiful, handmade bloom for eternity.

“My products are made using the best quality materials mounted onto either lined crocodile clips or super soft and stretchy nylon headbands for ultimate ‘stayputability’ (I am claiming this word!)”

jokes Renee.

I can’t wait to pair my December/Christmas outfits with the traditional tartan, navy and fir green bows and the golden, glittered Sugarplum fairy bow will be perfect for festive events (I am a sucker for anything gold and sparkly so this was a double whammy!)

These truly are luxury bows made with attention to detail and love.

Check out the beautiful Instagram feed here & Renee can also be found on Facebook.

This is the first #UnboxingVideo I made, it is certainly a skill that I need to improve if I am going to kill the Blog Game! I am aware it’s got many flaws… I was doing this as best as possible with Bea sat on my lap and a less than impressed cat that wanted feeding at the time of the recording!

 

I am thrilled to have found these two fabulous companies who give above and beyond to their craft, the bow market and capture the dreams of little (and bigger) girls everywhere!

I will always say that everything looks better with a bow. There is just something so quintessentially whimsical that evokes beautiful childhood memories and I hope that Bea looks back at the beautiful photos of her in these bows in fondness. I will treasure these super sparkly and charming moments.

If you were designing a bow for your little lady what qualities would you capture in the design? Do you prefer ribbon, fabric or glitter bows?

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

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The bows featured in the review were gifted to Bea and I as part of our review agreement but all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

“There’s too many Mum Bloggers!”

“There’s too many Mum Bloggers!”

The internet is saturated with Mummy Bloggers. It was indeed daunting starting up my own, Dear Reader; as I sifted through post after post and thought to myself “all the good post titles have surely been taken now!” and pondered as to where I could even fit myself in the mix.

There are so many funny Mummies (who’s antics have my sides splitting at the parenting fails, reasons to drink wine/gin/other alcoholic beverage and refreshing accounts of how hard being a Mummy truly is!), Slummy Mummies, Unicorn Mummies (who are imperfect but bossing Motherhood in their own way), Luxe Mummies (looking perfectly preened, doing yoga, strutting their stuff about the City in only the most premium brands), “Winging it” Mummies (learning the ropes along the way! I guess most of us Mummies adopt this parenting stupid at some point along the way!), Eco Mummies (saving the planet with one reusable nappy at a time & buying in organic and fair trade items), Mum-Trepreneures (running their own businesses from home in between school runs and after bedtime) and Mummies to a Tribe of 4 maybe 5 Wildings!

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Is what I have to say worthy? Will my advice be useful considering I am no expert in the Mum Arena?

Regardless, I took the advice of many of the incredible women’s blogs I had poured over throughout my pregnancy and early moments of Motherhood; judging my ability to Mum against these anecdotes,and jumped in, trusting enough in myself that I could make my own little piece of cyber space work!

Yes there are A LOT of Mum Blogs… but not too many. I think it is only a positive thing because blogs are written by experts in the field and it is encouraging that so many of us “just Mums” feel that we can be so much more than that and have so much pride in the prefix adjectives that describe our style! After all Mum’s make this world go round. We do our best and there are still topics to add our voice to because each experience is unique.

I think it is encouraging that Mummy Bloggers exist to empower other new mums, or even “old hat” mums and doesn’t it mean that our children as a collective are in good hands if more and more mums are writing about their expertise?!!

I think so.

I welcome every new Mummy Blogger.

I am thankful that there is scope to help more and have our voices heard. Not just heard, in fact; but sought out and applied as a means of virtual assistance. Like a warm cyber hug that nurtures the next Mum and reminds her that she is enough and is doing a great job!

Now that’s the kind of positivity and love that we should be spreading. Am I right?!

In a world where there is so much “bad” news, fake news, hatred and attempts to polarise global citizens, I think it’s a welcome breath of fresh air that Mun’s are giving little pieces of themselves to the wider community and bringing a little love and light.

I say… Keep blogging Mamma.

Your experience is valid. Your experience brings comfort on the darker days. Your honesty is refreshing. The love you have to give is a beacon of light.

None of us, yet all of us are pro at this Mothering Thing; an oxymoron yes! But the truth none the less. Blogging starts out for ourselves. A means to vent. To unleash our wildest thoughts. Our passions. But it goes beyond that and you soon find cries of “me too!” It is so important not to feel alienated and to love parenting. Mummy Blogging allows you to do this! If you love it… do it! Simple as!

Yes I am “another Mum Blogger” but if my advice helps just one bleary eyed mum, struggling through a night feed, feeling like she just can’t and one of my friendly reminders empowers her then that is a good thing!

I for one welcome new voices. I love to read, I love to write and I love to Mum! There’s no competition in Motherhood and when we realise this the world will be a better place… so maybe we can start in the virtual world and stand by one another and support each of our messages. We are stronger together and a Mum Collective is what the world didn’t ask for… but certainly needs!

What Mummy Blogs have you been reading? Do you label yourself as a particular ‘type’ of Mum?

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#StaySweet

-Bea’s Mummy x

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Eco Mom! Warrior not Worrier & Review: Lil Cubs.

Eco Mom! Warrior not Worrier &  Review: Lil Cubs.

I think, like the majority of the general population, I was shocked and appalled at our careless, throw-away culture whilst watching Blue Planet II.

Quite rightly it sparked an outcry and awakened the Eco Warriors within, that were latent and waiting to burst forth in battle cries of “No More!”towards producers of this toxic waste.

Following these images of plastic waste, drifting through our oceans and the coverage of albatross chicks being unwittingly fed plastic (this made my stomach turn as a Mummy To Be!) there have been various campaigns to ban the use of plastic straws, bottles and levy a tax on plastic packaging (which could be introduced by law by 2021.)

Because of this increased awareness about use and dump products and their detrimental effects to the world around us “single-use” has become the buzz word of the year in the Collins Dictionary for 2018. This refers to products- often made of plastic – that are made to be used once then thrown away.

“Single-use” has seen a four-fold increase since 2013 which I think highlights our socio political concerns about the environment and I for one welcome this conversation!

Sometimes it is difficult to live in full eco-conscious mode when you have offspring to attend to on the daily and sometimes (unfortunately) convenience is king which means the environment will take a hit. As much as possible I try to live green in the most basic ways (recycling, reusing, upcycling and buying organic as much as possible. I did also consider the use of cloth nappies but I just wasn’t brave enough to take that lifestyle plunge.)

Of course any parent may worry about the state of the world that we hand over to our little people but we can contribute to a happier world by pledging to do one thing that is green. Alone we can not change the world but if we are concerned enough joining together as a green collective will be the way forward.

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Source: Lil Cub’s Website.

One easy and fun way to live more eco-consciously is to add organic products to your little ones wardrobe.

Lil’ Cubs is one such company that formed in 2015 to offer goodies (from muslins, sleepsuits to baby gift boxes) that are full of personality and crafted with the wider world in mind. Organic cotton and jersey materials are used and the fun, graphic prints are created from eco friendly dyes.

Since choosing to shop Organic there is no way I would go back now. I was introduced to the wonderful, wacky world of Lil’ Cubs through one of their stockists Rhubarb The Bird (whom Bea brand reps for.) The first product Bea and I put through its paces was the glorious Clouds & Bolts sleepsuit. The suit features a rather cute rainbow coloured design and as the name suggests clouds and lightning bolts and a nifty little zipper!

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It made me feel better about my environmental & socio economic impact. Last year 220,478 organic farmers produced organic cotton over 18 countries and there was a 10% year-on-year increase from 2016! Lil’ Cubs is a brand that has a sustainability strategy to do their part in reducing global warming, over fertilisation of the soil, water consumption compared to conventional farming.

One of my favourite unique selling points of the brand is that the designs are unisex so can be shared between little boys and girls. I have found that organic products last much longer. Because organic cotton is harvested by hand rather than machine it does not require the chemicals to clean and bleach it so it is more durable upon being turned into textile. I have also personally found that the bodysuit has coped better with washing & drying! So I will be passing these items on to Baby Goddard To Be…

Apparently organic clothes last five times longer than their conventional counterparts and the cotton will not break down until the hundredth wash… I will test this claim out but so far the vibrancy of the suit has not changed!

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Source: Lil Cub’s Website!

We were sent the beautiful “Oranges & Lemons” muslin swaddle. The print is really individual and I love that it is a design that is relevant every season. It is bright! It is “zingy!” As I opened our package it certainly packed a visual punch.

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It is super soft. The cotton is 100% breathable and perfect for Bea’s delicate skin. I couldn’t wait to wrap her up in a beautiful, cotton-soft bundle.

It is 120x120cm so it is large and multi functional. Throughout its test period I have utilised the muslin in a variety of ways. It is great for mopping up spills, napping under a light “blanket” and most recently it has been used as a fun backdrop for an Autumnal themed photo shoot. It looked super cute behind a wicker basket and pumpkins.

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Its a staple tool in my Mum Arsenal. I have always only ever heard positive feedback about the Lil Cubs’ muslins from other Mummy friends and now I join in these voices of praise.

61D8C5F8-063B-4452-8C23-85AF58D7B3E7The pricing is very affordable at just £17.

I have been known to use the muslin as a scarf. I can confirm that the softness is out of this world! I happily share the muslin with Bea who now associates it with “sleepy time”.

Lil Cub’s is a fresh baby product company that has come a long way from just muslins and bibs back in 2015 and I see them growing and becoming a widely recognised organic baby clothing brand.

If you too want to be more Eco Warrior than Worrier I highly recommend Lil Cubs’ as a provider of organic products. Obviously it takes time to change your buying habits and create a fully organic wardrobe, so my tip would be to add capsule pieces (they WILL last) so over time your core wardrobe will shift from regular clothing to organic and it will be #FeelGood both physically and metaphorically.

Check out the colourful Instagram page to see the products in action!

How are you doing your bit for the environment? Do you have plans to adopt greener lifestyle choices?

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

 

I was gifted the Oranges & Lemons swaddle muslin as part of my agreement with Tabitha of Lil Cubs. All views are my own.

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