Mommy Self Care & Review: Willow Organic- Sorbet Glow Range.

Mommy Self Care & Review: Willow Organic- Sorbet Glow Range.

In another life before back to back pregnancy I would “treat” myself to a luxurious bath after stressful days at the office (these tended to increase whilst pregnant with Mylo) and if I felt a little bit extravagant I would light a few tea lights and chuck in a Bomb Cosmetics bath bomb because I couldn’t always afford LUSH ones and would keep them ‘for best’; whatever that means!  (As it is nearly Christmas… yes it is… there is no point in denying it now! Here is a rather jolly festive version of Bomb’s bath goodies. A lovely little gingerbread fellow!)

I think this perfectly illustrates the woman I was, Dear Reader. I have never been someone that has looked after myself as number one and I think this must have taken an emotional toll on me at the very least. Post childloss I have stopped (or are trying to daily) giving a heck about peripheral people and focus on being the best Mummy I can be to Bea. Afterall, how can you pour from a cup that is itself empty? It’s most pivotal that I am not an empty vessel, and these days I give sparingly to those people who come out of the woodwork when they want something!

But often as a Mum, and I am sure all the #MumArmy will attest to this: I forget about myself still. It’s all very well that works of Self Help or magazine ‘psychologists’ advise to act with intent and put yourself first, but like the most adept chess players in the world; a Mum has to attempt to plan at least 8 moves ahead of the child and account for a million scenarios that could play out, so with all the best will in the world it is not really an option to enforce structure. You just have to find those delicious pockets that pop up in the day where you’re can enjoy a hot cup of tea, read a chapter in the “new” book you started skimming 2 months ago or blow dry your hair. (I am sure it gets easier… I have seen light at the end of the tunnel when I see the updates of Mummies who are Parenting 3/4 year olds… but I do not want to wish away my NOW with Bea, so instead I will look a hot mess and take a hit on the consumption of anything hot and wear mushed carrots as a badge of honour!)

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Mums tend to operate in a world of Damned-if-we-do-Damned-if-we-don’t and I think we foster the wrong sort of connection to ourselves. That pesky “Mum Guilt” which is damaging and as much as comparison; a thief of our potential happiness. But where do we even start if we are absent from our own To-Do lists? We have 500 things to do a day, probably don’t get through half of it, promise ourselves we will try again tomorrow. But crucially, we neglect Self Care and I personally believe this is the key to a better balance of commitment to Motherhood and Selfhood.

I have found Motherhood has offered an opportunity for me to enjoy my writing again (hence this blog that I somehow manage to dedicate a few hours a week to!) so I have found joy in my hobby and being able to connect (if only through a phone or computer screen) with other women. I have certainly found myself evolving in taking up the mantel of Mumma Bear and my intentions have certainly taken  a change of direction. I feel lucky to be a person who was happy to throw myself into a career pre children but now it is Motherhood that sets my soul on fire. And that, is “enough” for me. If I could just sort this #MomBod I would feel a lot better in myself too. Our inner most passions keep us joyful and fully alive. I am not one of these mums that will ever say that “I lost my identity when I had a child” because for me personally, becoming a Mum made me! I wouldn’t even swap the Poonami’s, teething woes, sleep deprivation and feeling like a Mombie most days for a pair of sky high heels & nights out.

Hello Mombie! *waves*

One thing I have “gifted” myself though is the time for a skincare routine in the morning and evening. This is a ritual that marks the start and end of my pretty full on days. Its terrible to admit, but I wasn’t even moisturising this nearly 30 year old skin until a few months ago. So I was excited to try out Willow Organic’s new range of face goodies called Sorbet Glow. If you are just salivating at the name just wait until your senses are involved- the products are aesthetically pleasing, sound great when squirted from their reciprocals, smell incredible, feel sumptuous on the skin… but please don’t eat them!

The range harnesses the power of the natural world in the delicious and perfect combination of fruits, botanicals and other powerful ingredients such as Gatuline®Expression that sets the brand apart.

-This small plant, which blossoms all year long, has a broad geographical footprint, covering the whole tropical zone in South America, Africa and Asia.
Originating from Peru and Brazil, Acmella oleracea is a cultivated non-endangered species, known and used for a very long time in Madagascar and La Réunion.

The extract has scientifically proven myorelaxing properties. However, these myorelaxing properties are totally reversible in 24hours making it perfectly safe. 

In vitro & In vivo tests have medically proven that the use of Gatuline® Expression reduces the appearance of crows feet within 24hrs – 83% of participants agreed.

Source: Botanical Glossary.

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The collection consists of:

Daily Cleansing Wash, Radiance Day Cream, Cell Renewing Cleansing Mask, Vitamin Facial Oil, Super Firming eye Treatment, Nightly Rejuvenation Balm and a Vitamin Lip Oil.

All of which this exhausted Mummy got her paws on to see if these products could become my Go-To skincare saviour. The brand boasts certification of true Organic status by both Cosmos and The Soil Association. This means that the products are not just organic content (some brands represent themselves as organic and it is very misleading as their products may only contain 5% organic matter for example!) Terminology does not often reflect the true nature of the product. I don’t know about you but I would rather not be using a product that is labelled as “95% natural” when it contains methylisothiazolinone, a preservative which is also found in window and floor cleaners and air fresheners *cough* Nivea *cough*! That is just fooling the consumer so the advice that I have gleaned from this is to spend out a little more on the certified products if you want the fully organic experience.

Obviously if you just want an affordable product (I totally get it because that’s how I used to shop!) then you are sacrificing the quality of the goods. Willow Organic is certified having gone through its rigorous review by The Soil Association (one of the UK’s most reputable certified bodies) which has meant every ingredient contained is tested to confirm they are Non-GM and have never been subjected to chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or any other artificial processing. All farms from which the ingredients are produced must have been cleared of any chemical fertilizers and pesticides for a minimum of 3 years!

As if this wasn’t a stringent enough requirement, in addition to this factor each product must satisfy a minimum content of 70% organic and Willow Organic have delivered products that meet then exceed this expectation with each product being 75% organic at least!

Scientist I am not, but to me that sounds like a high level of care for the body to me and when you are slathering products in to your skin (the bodies largest organ) you may not be benefiting your body. Skincare products inevitably end up being filtered by our liver so it will pay to be mindful of what we are essentially putting INTO our bodies. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warned pregnant women from using unnecessary amounts of products with chemicals in on their skin, saying the effects on unborn babies is not yet know but there could be detrimental effects.

“The ingredients for our entire range have been carefully selected to provide effective, hard working skin care for you. We do not test on animals, we do not use parabens, microbeads, sodium laurel sulphates, palm oil or any mineral oils in our products.”

source: Willow Organic website.

Another plus is that all of the beautiful packaging is 100% recyclable (but with my slight Hoarder Mentality I am struggling to part with the beautiful boxes!) This Brand truly has thought about every aspect including their philosophy, sustainability, ethical compatibility and look. It is luxurious yet soulful. It is organic but hardworking. It is not the cheapest on the market for sure but I would be happy to splurge on my favourites of the range because the brand will not compromise its values and that has got to count for something in this world of business that is just chasing another fast transaction but not necessarily ensuring the future of their customer. Willow’s approach is refreshing and my skin has certainly felt the benefits of this glorious. Sorbet rainbow. I mean, just look how fabulous they look all lined up in their full glory!

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So let’s get into it!

These seem like bold statements that I have made above, but the superior quality speaks for itself. When my Mother came to visit me she mentioned my “healthy glow” and thought I had been on a cocktail of vitamins! Being a busy mum, I rarely have time to apply a full face of makeup any more but I have confidently ditched the foundation and concealer (opting just for a light swoop of bronzer) because my skin has been noticeably fuller & more a-glow-glow which has allowed me to shine through the day with very little upkeep and maintenance. I feel confident in my skin (literally) which is one battle won. As Mothers we are very aware of which battles to pick and you can feel like you have one aspect of your life under control so you can just throw your hair up into a Mum Bun and go!

Below I will directly pull from the website the description of the product then a few word review, verdict and star rating for each product used.


Daily Cleansing Wash-

(With Gatuline Expression® & Acai oil.) 72CE53A5-99A4-46E8-90CC-F74851249A7D

“From the new Sorbet Glow range, a gentle yet effective daily cleansing wash which will cleanse and gently exfoliate your skin.

It contains Acai oil and Chamomile oil which have calming and anti-bacterial properties. Finely ground bamboo makes a wonderful natural exfoliant, is rich in skin-protective anti-oxidants and anti-irritants to protect as it exfoliates. Bamboo also has astringent qualities which help to clear oily or blemished skin. Acai is rich in vitamins to leave skin glowing.”

I personally love this product and do see myself investing in this as part of my future skin care regime. It was easy to absorb into my skin and I could feel the difference instantly. About three days in I noticed a change in the properties of my skin. I can tend towards a pinker hue and get rather ‘attractive’ blotches at times (curse this sensitive/combination skin *shakes fist*!) but this was slightly remedied by the daily use.

I coupled this cleanser with my Simple toner and Olay moisturiser. It was easy to slot into the routine and I got used to adding the extra steps of the addition of the eye cream and facial oil. This was a new concept to me. Who knew the daily skincare regime had so many steps to complete?! Well I certainly didn’t but my skin has since thanked me!

I didn’t find the smell to be overpowering but it was certainly fresh. The consistency was full yet easy to absorb and I liked the feel of it on both my hands and face. (Sometimes I can be a bit funny about products being unnecessarily sticky which could be one of the reasons I have previously avoided a full skincare routine!)

As previously mentioned, Willow truly consider their customer and the cleanser comes with a beautiful organic Muslin cloth which just adds to the full experience. I am a sucker for “pretty things” and if there are little extras that company has my heart and loyalty! Freebies go a long way, so this was a nice additional touch.

Verdict– My skin feels great. The pores are well and truly unclogged. There was no residue left on my skin and it was quite happily rinsed with lukewarm water. As an aside: I also used this cleanser to give my makeup brushes a good clean as I had not taken the time to do so since Bea’s arrival (yes I know that is skanky but it’s just something that is not at the forefront of your mind whilst Daily Mumming!)

Rating– 9/10. Does what is claims! No fuss. Easy to adopt as part of daily routine.

 

 

 

Radiance Day Cream-

(B50F5D9D-392F-42F6-9F86-6784462107E7With Gatuline Expression® and Pomegranate.)

“Age-preventative hydrating day cream from the Sorbet Glow range, with soothing Shea Butter and collagen rich Pomegranate which helps smooth and firm your skin by promoting collagen and elastin production. Pomegranate has also been proven to help prevent hyperpigmentation through its natural compounds which protect against free radicals and environmental damage. Pomegrante helps oily skin combat breakouts, can reduce scarring and soothe minor irritations.

The Radiance Day Cream also contains Cranberry seed oil which helps improve the skin’s elasticity and encourages cell regeneration.”

This little beauty smells divine. It is thick and luxurious in texture. I didn’t use this every day but I loved how it made my skin feel afterwards.DE797962-C43A-4726-9940-E0443E5C620B

Verdict– I am unsure as to whether it was this product that stopped my skin getting oily particularly on my T-Zone as I was using all the products at one time, but I have noticed that my skin seems more normal by description and there have been zero breakouts over my 2 week intensive testing period.

Rating– 7/10 – smells dreamy but I wouldn’t necessarily use it every day personally so the value is not in it for me. I would use the daily cleanser over this.

 

 

Cell Renewing Cleansing Mask-

(with Gatuline Expression®  & Coconut extract.)
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“This dual action mask from the Sorbet Glow range is designed to cleanse the skin whilst providing deep nourishment, removing impurities and brightening your complexion.

Coconut oil extract is valued for its hydrating properties; it is highly absorbent and nourishing, enabling moisture to get into the layers of dermis fast. With anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities, it is effective in the fight against a number of bacterial infections, soothing inflammation, fighting acne and pilliates red dry skin which can cause acne.

Coconut extract also gently helps to remove the surface layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother and helps prevent premature aging.”

I think we are all aware by now of the amazing benefits of coconut oil… Bad Skin Day: Rub in coconut oil… Bad Hair Day: wash it in coconut oil… Bad Husband Day: Wipe coconut oil all over him…!! But in all seriousness coconut oil is the Don of all things body care.

Verdict– I have gone #CocoLoco for this mask and it was one of the products I would use on a more regular basis. Everything about it is great. It came out in a very satisfying blob.

I do think my skin has a more youthful glow after using these products and seems to have tightened under my double chin! I feel that incorporating these products into a daily skincare routine really will improve the appearance of your skin even to the level of not ever having to consider cosmetic surgery such as Botox.

Rating- 9/10 – just delicious in use and results!

 

Super Firming Eye Treatment-

(With Gatuline Expression® and Cacay Oil.)

6BF3F38F-83B4-44E6-A532-B25588AFC1EB“Sorbet Glow eye treatment gel, formulated with a combination of Evening Primrose oil and Cacay Oil to soothe the eye area whilst targeting fine lines and wrinkles.

Amma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is found in Evening Primrose oil is known to have a multitude of skin benefits including smoothing wrinkles, whilst Cacay oil (sustainably sourced) is one of the Amazon’s best-kept secrets with high percentages of naturally occurring Vitamin E and Retinol making it a perfect moisturiser and age-prevetative treatment. Reducing wrinkles and replenishing depleted skin cells.”

This is the winning product for me personally. Never do you feel more permanently exhausted than when you are full time Mumming. I NEVER used to get bags under my eyes and heck I feel like I have ages substantially especially around my eyes so I was super excited to use a product that contains miracle ingredients!

Verdict- Even the gel itself glows like gold. It is a very pleasant consistency and is easily applied to the eye area. I always worry about my sensitive skin but it was as though the gel was made for me personally. No nasty side effects like other treatments I have used on the past.

I did see results in just two days of application (I wish I had captured a before and after shot but I have wanted to hide from the camera rather than point out all my flaws!) but trust me when I say that these are the most obvious results, so if you buy just one item from the Sorbet Range go with this pocket pocket. Only downside: 30ml is not enough!!!

Rating- 10/10- Dream product for looking bright eyed and bushy tailed. My star buy of the bunch. Real results and fast!!!

 

 

 

Vitamin Facial Oil-

(With Gatuline Expression® and Rosehip.)

“From the new Sorbet Glow range, a potent Facial Oil loaded with vitamins A, E, C & F. Formulated to hydrate, protect and nourish.151F6A69-2AA7-4DC0-88E0-5DBF93F482C8

With healing Rosehip and super-hydrating Jojoba. Rosehip naturally contains Retinol, Omega 3, Omega 6 plus anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids which has be known to help to correct dark spot pigmentation and hydrate dry skin, leaving it soft and smooth to touch.

Vitamin C is an incredible multi-beneficial ingredient that works to build collagen and even skin tone.”

Verdict– This is not my favourites of the range and I could have quite happily left this out if my skincare routine. I don’t think I was particularly keen on the Rosehip/jojoba combo. Maybe it was too aggressive for me. But something did not click with this product. That’s not to say it didn’t boast results as with the other products but I did not personally enjoy using this. I think it did help even my skin tone, but not sure if this was due to the combination of products I was using.

Rating- 6/10 – to be used for results not the pleasure of using it. It just seemed an unnecessary step between cleansing and moisturising! In my personal opinion I would not spend the money on that- I would double up on the firming eye treatment!

 

Nightly Rejuvunation Balm-

(With Gatuline Expression® and Acai Berry oil.)

“An age-preventative rich and creamy rejuvenating night balm from the Sorbet Glow range, formulated with vitamin rich Acai oil to deeply hydrate, and Gatuline Expression to plump out fine lines while you sleep.C500CDF4-D159-4AD3-B94A-F30D9DF257FF

Açai oil, a powerful emollient which is easily absorbed and effectively relieves dry, cracked skin. Acai berry oil also contains concentrated, nutritious fatty acids, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and is full of anti-oxidants.

The Nighly Balm also contains Cranberry Seed oil which helps to improve skin’s elasticity and encourages regeneration, and Rhododendron Flower extract to soothe inflammation.”

As previously mentioned, I didn’t have any routine when it came to skincare, or even really “Me Time” (which was thrown out the window in full force when Bea decided to make her surprise appearance seven weeks early!) so it was quite the novelty having a specific product for night time! I really enjoyed my ritual face massage I gave myself each evening (the only kind of massage I have received  of late) – Top Tip: smooth circular motions to be employed when using these products rather than any scrubbing kind of motion. The trick is to be soft.

Verdict- I am going to be honest now #RealTalk: I used to think that night creams were just a way for cosmetic companies to squeeze more money out of our pockets. I thought it was just down to marketing but this night balm has been a godsend to my skin in this colder weather! This balm was a beautiful texture (much thicker than its day time counterparts!) and it left me waking up with a dewy glow every morning.

Rating- 9/10 – a must buy if you are hoping to boost your blood circulation and wake up looking and feeling fresh!

 

 

Vitamin Lip Oil-2D7C3AFB-F518-418E-A959-969F6906373C

(With Gatuline Expression and Mango Butter.)

“An amazingly soothing, vitamin rich lip oil with Vitamin E, extracts of Raspberry to provide natural UV filter, Mango Butter which is rich in anti-oxidants, Vitamin A to moisturise without being greasy, and Vitamin C to encourage collagen production for beautifully hydrated and gorgeous lips.

Blended with Orange, Chamomile and Jasmine oils.”

I think this was the nicest smelling products but I am biased towards the exotic breakfast fruit, which also makes a nice sorbet ingredient too. I guess this is why it is included as part of this beautifully, fruity range.

Verdict- I didn’t mind the oil consistency of this product as it was less greasy feeling than the vitamin  facial oil (maybe as it is spread on a smaller area.) It certainly made my lips feel kissable and well plumped. It was very hard not to lick my lips.

Rating- 7/10 – Fruity fun and soft lips followed. Perfect for smooching my baby girl!

 

 

Overall the range is of a high quality and I felt the difference in the organic content. There is something to be said for organic products (I hope it doesn’t turn me into an Organic Products Snob now but in all honesty I would now opt for these kinds of products and will keep Willow Organics daily cleansing wash and super firming eye treatment in my Self Care routine.)  The claims made are substantiated. I noticed results in just 2-3 applications of most of the products. As I mentioned previously, I can not confirm if each product did exactly what it said on the tin so to speak because I used them in combination and didn’t isolated each product for a period of time. Regardless, my skin has bounced back after some seriously tough months (4 month sleep regression was a killer) and I personally think I look much more alert again and not as though I have been exhausted since 2010- those bags were not designer…

I wouldn’t say the range is necessarily affordable, but for the results you get it is not expensive either; but I would certainly have to save up a little to buy the products that I would want to use in conjunction with one another. I would personally say that for my personal useage the vitamin facial oil wasn’t worth the possible expense of it. Obviously it was not out of my pocket because the lovely folks at Willow Organic gifted me the full set as part of an Instagram competition win.

The whole set is valued at £270 which is much less expensive than Botox injections at between £150-£300 a pop! These require top ups and the full effects may not be noticeable for 2 weeks whereas my results from the Sorbet Range were noticeable from Day 3! I still have a good amount of the products left so will continue my routine as best as possible. I had lots of fun using these products and learned a lot about skincare along the way so now I feel like I could justify why Organic products are best for us!

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Check out Willow Organics social media pages:

INSTAGRAM: @willoworganic
FACEBOOK: @willowbeautyproducts
TWITTER: @willoworganic

One of their tag lines is “Feel skin confident at any age with Willow” and I truly got the boost I needed! Before writing about these gorgeous products I never realised September was International Organic Month. Willow Organic write a comprehensive blog about all things organic! Here is a handy little guide to the fruity & botanical ingredients used in the Sorbet Range.

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Please excuse the poor quality pic that my phone took of the Willow Organic pamphlet!

 

Here are some more lovely Willow Organic beauty products you may also enjoy:

willow organics
Radiant Energy Body Balm – £32
willow organics 2
Radiant Energy Collection – £24

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is difficult to put yourself back at the centre if your world when your baby becomes the whole of it but I think it is a powerful message to illustrate to your child that self care is very important and should be practiced to ensure a happy and healthy balanced lifestyle. For example; you wouldn’t allow your child to miss a healthcare appointment so why should we let our health fall by the wayside. I personally want to be the best version of myself to be the best Mummy I can be so the bottom line is that we should schedule in those annual appointments, cervical screenings, flu shots, mammograms, sight tests and dental checkups.

As Parents (and particularly Momma Bears) we are always on the go, but we shouldn’t be burning ourselves out. Yes raising a tiny human being is exhausted but it shouldn’t be what defines us. We need to stay positive and invigorated. I love this piece at Motherly   that reminds us that small acts can keep us a little bit more sane. If the mood strikes you here are a few self care “presents” you could treat yourself to.

  1. Book of Minfulness.
  2. Facemask.
  3. Scented Candle.
  4. De-stress Tea.
  5. Snuggly thick knit blanket!
  6. Exercise Mat. (No I would never use that one either!!!)
  7. Adult Colouring Book.

How do you ensure that you also remain a priority in your life? What’s your self care tip? Do you have a skincare routine and do you buy Organic?

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

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I am part of the Amazon Affiliate UK scheme whereby I may earn commission on any of the above links you may use to buy a product, at no extra cost to you. This will allow me to keep my blog relevant and have access to the products you may want to see a review for.

I won the Willow Organic Sorbet Range as part of an Instagram competition when the range launched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter is Coming! But you don’t have to be S.A.D about it (Lumie Review & Giveaway.)

Winter is Coming! But you don’t have to be S.A.D about it (Lumie Review & Giveaway.)

It’s swiftly heading towards “that time of year” again… I must admit that despite my  ability to spring up and at em in the morning for the majority of the year, I find Winter Mornings more testing and there could be good reason for that!

I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that most of us (to some degree at least) suffer with typical Winter Depressive symptoms of fatigue, hypersomnia, lowered levels of motivation and sociability, and an increase in irritability (Winter= “I am not a morning person!”) and eating for a small army! I readily accept some causal link between my declining mood and the change in season. I am forever saying things like “The weather/cold is really affecting me!” or “I am struggling to do anything because of the Winter Days”.

Obviously, as with most syndromes or “illnesses” there is a continuum of severity which can range from a little lethargy (the most common side effect of SAD) to functional disability. Luckily if you are on the lesser end of the spectrum a few well placed Self Help Books may be all you need to negotiate the Winter Months more cheerfully and energetically!1DA76715-968D-4D6A-85D8-99E7F2F09A40

I recently started reading around the premise of HYGGE (there must be a reason our Scandi European cousins consistently stand out in studies as an overall happier nation!) The Danish people spend a lot of time in the Winter Season so really embrace an active solution to their potential Winter “blues” by fully embracing this ethos (which is not directly translatable into an English word but is more about capturing a feeling of ‘cosiness’ and embracing the colder months!) Just type Hygge into Pinterest and you will be bombarded with boards of glorious roaring fires, cosy toes in thick knitted socks, huge drinking receptacles filled with warming goodness from tea, to hot chocolate to a cheeky tipple and living rooms lit with candles! This is the most basic level and in my opinion a very inviting premise to explore further.

Really it’s great success comes in the positive mindset to find that warmth and intimacy in every day life when it becomes more difficult to remember in the Winter months. Worldwide there is clearly a need to embrace this pro activity  towards finding a passion for all things Winter because 4-6% of people experience clinical depression related to Winter and a further 10-20% may additionally experience mild symptoms of SAD over the Winter Months. So this is a very real problem.

In this post I have included a few ideas on how best to manage your potential symptoms of SAD from easy home hygge to the introduction of Light Therapy in the form of the Lumie Zest that I have been testing out over the last few weeks. As always the opinions in the review section are my own and I have not been compensated by Lumie.

(This post is not officially sponsored by Lumie but I will be including affiliate links whereby I will gain commission on any purchases made from my links on this post.

This post also includes a Giveaway hosted by Bea and Me [see full terms and conditions at end of post.] )

The charming thing is that Hygge can take any form and there is no set template so it is really about opening yourself up to an inner creative process. So launch yourself into a E274C10A-CFEE-49EE-8A7D-048F7589627Dnew way of being which will not only see you through the Winter Months but also benefit further aspects of your life. I took the following lessons from “The Little Book of Hygge” that one of my lovely Mummy friends passed on to me last year when my work had started getting me down in the dumps!

I have distilled my own version of Hygge into the below points but by no means is this an exhaustive list. There are so many options to Live Hygge so start living your best life.

 

1) Get Mindful!

A great starting point is to be in the present and put a little distance between yourself and the world of social media. Hygge doesn’t ban electronic devices but it certainly shows that it is worth putting your phone down to foster genuine connections with people and your true self again.

The calm acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations moment by moment is a way to improve your overall mental wellbeing & this can certainly be applied to Winter. We can accept that Winter has arrived and look at ways to enjoy it, rather than count down to Spring!

2) Get Soft!

Who isn’t partial to a good snuggle?! Personally I am a very tactile person and Hygge is very much not just about an aesthetic but how things FEEL. So in my home I have selected fabrics and interior furnishings that are cosy, homely and soft to the touch. It has been about almost creating a womb-like experience of warmth and comfort, so throws, blankets & rugs are a must. I guess it is about transforming your space into your own little nook of goodness!

3) Slow Down!

Alongside the mindfulness component a big part of Hygge is to eat cosy! Love your kitchen and find the joy in waiting for your food. The longer something takes to cook the more Hygge it is but it’s also about simplicity so no need to worry about julienating veggies & complex glazes… it could be as simple as a nice, warming soup. Slowing down to eat and drink and perform processes such as searing foods allows you to appreciate food not just because it sustains your energy, but because it makes you feel whole.

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4) Do Good!

There is undoubtedly a link between your levels of happiness and helping others. It’s worth getting out there and spending time on social initiatives that increase the feeling of “togetherness”. An isolationist mindset that Winter can bring is damaging to our mental health. So try to increase your human interaction (no matter how difficult it starts to get!) What better way to remember the true goodness of humanity than being part of groups of people that have a passion for people and changing someone’s day for the better?!

5) Put the Kettle On!

We Brit’s are no strangers to a good cup of tea solving (most of) life’s problems! 85% of Danes equate Hygge to enjoying a hot drink of some description (Meik Wiking found this is his research for his book “The Little Book of Hygge”.) It is such a simple way to evoke a happy and cosy feeling. I love adding seasonal flavours to my drinks as I associate certain flavours with winter.

6) Light Up The Room!

I am personally obsessed with Yankee Candles and love nothing more than treating myself to a new scent each season. I particularly love the winter varieties. Currently we are burning a rather delicious limited addition candle called “Frosty Gingerbread” and it fills up the room with such a beautiful aroma like Christmas baking!!

The Danes purchase more candles collectively than any other European Country and are a key component in any Hygge Nook! What’s great about Hygge is that the expensive scented varieties are not essential as all flames are equal! “Hygge is about enjoying the simple pleasures in life and can be achieved on a shoestring budget.” So buy bulk of cheap little tealights because a little candlelight enhances any space!

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7) Get Outside!

Its difficult to pry yourself out of your sofa fort in the winter, I get it! There is certainly an Amber Shaped crevice in my sofa around this time of year and it makes me feel bad because I know I am missing out on this he majesty of nature. It is rude not to get out and about living in stunning Devon as we are sandwiched between moorland & coast so opportunities aplenty to explore incredible scenery.

Even mustering one purposeful walk a day means you can practice your mindfulness daily so grab some comfy boots and go experience the outside world. You can really live the value of moment-by-moment then afterwards treat yourself to a fat, warming hot chocolate & slice of cake because, Dear Reader… What’s more Hygge than that?!

Happiness is about simplicity and in a world that is always on the go, with consumerism, technology, capitalism and the next fad we are often exhausting ourselves trying to keep up and live a life that is not our own; often just a set of tick boxes. Our achievements and dreams are not our own. We are told what to strive for… no wonder we are often miserable. We are moving too fast, not cocooning ourselves both physically and metaphorically in enough softness and barely giving ourselves enough time to connect to the world on a truly meaningful level!

I wanted to Think Myself Happy this Winter. I have found that it certainly helps being on maternity leave. I returned to work just last week to complete a Kit Day (Keeping In Touch) and I completed my decreased hours that I agreed before Maternity Leave and it left me frazzled. I tried to maintain my breathing techniques that I have implemented since being at home, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was drowning in other peoples problems… yes I guess that is what you should expect from working in customer care, but all I could think about was being with my Little Bea; crunching through leaves, getting read noses and then having big cuddles under our fluffy blanket!

I think getting up for work would have been EVEN harder had I not started training myself into a morning wake up routine with my Lumie Zest for the week before heading back to the grind.

Science has proven that just 30 minutes a day exposed to natural light (with at least 2000 lux – a measure of it’s brightness) can be enough to stimulate feel good hormone and keep your body cycle in check!

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The Lumie Zest is a dedicated “SAD Lamp” and is a certified medical device. Lumie have been pioneers in the light therapy arena and it’s not hard to see why as the Zest practically punches you in the face with light in the morning. Other reviews had warned of this so I was ready to face the glow… by having the Zest positioned on my bedroom floor rather than on my bedside table! Even from below; the 2000 Lux of light is a very effective wake up call (most other SAD lights output is only between 100 & 300 Lux) so the Zest truly is the Don of lamps! It pushes out 10 times as much light as most other SAD Lamps on the market so I found that I was feeling refreshed as I woke up to the lamp each morning!

I was skeptical before I set the Zest up to sort out my rather broken body clock. The  Zest is simple to set up and it doesn’t have some of the features other lamps now have such as radio or nature sounds, but as a purist that really doesn’t matter to me. I like simple designs with proven results so the Zest perfectly complimented my lifestyle and personality.

So what’s the scientific bit?

The Lumie Zest can be utilised as a 2-in-1 device: SAD Lamp & Waking Up Lamp.

The brightening light brings you more gently out of sleep, prompting your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin, while increasing the levels of hormones like cortisol that help you get up and go.

This provides a fantastic start to the day for sufferers of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the winter blues, and helps anyone who is not naturally a morning person to feel brighter and more energetic first thing.

It’s not just a nicer way to wake up. Waking to natural light every day resets your sleep/wake cycle and has been shown to boost your mood, productivity and energy levels throughout the day. Our physiological body clocks are aligned by sunrise and sunset.

As most of us experience a mix of early starts, late nights, weekend lie-ins and sometimes travel disruption, our internal sleep rhythms are thrown into disarray. We feel tired and stressed trying to wake up for work, school or sports training.

A dawn simulator device re-sets your body clock to run in time with your day, helping you feel more awake during the day and more ready for sleep at night.

Source: Lumie Website.

Would I recommend the Zest?

Compact, easy to use, no fuss and fast results. I found by Day 4 my body was back into a useful rhythm and my sleep was better. I did accompany the use of the Zest with other techniques that promote better sleep such as unplugging from the digital world an hour before my bedtime and I used Feather & Down Pillow Spray. Clearly the combination worked for me as I was consistently getting 7/8 hours of sleep (only being woken by Bea) but my mornings did in fact feel a lot easier to combat and my feelings of dread were noticeably low level (I wouldn’t say that the morning struggle has fully been rectified) but exposing myself to more light has had noticeable benefits. No SAD symptoms currently so I will continue using the Zest for a brighter future (literally!)B1F7F19B-2920-486F-B733-E69BA90BFC6B (1)

Due to the obvious positive changes to my sleeping/waking/wellness experience I have also purchased a Lumie Bug for Bea for when she makes it into her own room in the next few weeks. I can only assume that as she still shares the room with us she has also benefited from the use of my Zest as she has been sleeping better through the night again! I will be reviewing the rather adorable bug when Bea is in her nursery. (Wish us luck for that change!!!)

Now having experienced happier mornings I would love to spread love and light by running a competition to win a Lumie Vitamin L light (worth £90) It is slim & about the size of a tablet so it is easy to transport from room to room or between home and the office. It can be positioned both landscape or portrait. It is proven to treat symptoms of SAD.

Enter below to win (competition running until 20th November & winner will be contacted within 48 hours directly and posted on site thereafter.) Here are the full terms and conditions.

 

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CLICK HERE TO HEAD TO MY RAFFLECOPTER COMP PAGE!

 

How will you be fighting symptoms of SAD this winter? What’s your favourite Hygge tip?

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

 

 

 

I am part of the Amazon Affiliate UK programme and may gain small commission on any purchases made via my links at no extra cost to you.

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Combi Feeding For Sanity & Beyond!

Combi Feeding For Sanity & Beyond!

This post contains an affiliate link so at no extra cost to you, if you purchase the Tommee Tippee 6 pack of Closer to Nature bottles through this link I may earn comission. I am part of the Amazon Affiliate UK scheme. I only add links of products that I have personally used and would recommend.

It has been just over two months since Bea and I took to combination feeding with great trepidation and lots of misinformation and a huge dollop of “Mum Guilt” on my part!

Have a read of my first post about combination feeding here!

Luckily I haven’t had physiological issues that have prevented me from breastfeeding; though I know my supply is drying up as more time passes and my time feeding is split breast to bottle (most days it is more bottle now!) but I am attempting to ignore any pressure to “do more” to remedy my dwindling supply.

Naively, throughout pregnancy I had believed that it was some kind of inherent eventuality that I would be a Milky Goddess and sustain my child with my own elixir of life alone. Pumping took its toll on me. It is no life, or at least not the life for me. (I have so much respect for those Momma’s that are able to express breast milk feed their babies on the daily! It is such a beautiful thing and you should be so proud of yourself and your body for being able to do this!) I however started to lose my identity and feel more and more like a dairy cow, day by day… pump by pump…

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A beautiful black and white snap.

My decision to incorporate formula into our feeding routine was mostly a shove by  a rather stoney-faced and judgmental woman (who I actually found out recently was not a health visitor but a nurse) at my local Weigh In clinic. “So you’re still only breastfeeding?” “She hasn’t put on that much weight”… it all of a sudden made me distrust my ability to feed my child “naturally” and I realised that for their records and because Bea was moving forward at a slower pace than other babies (baring in mind she arrived seven weeks early so was going to be much smaller than an average baby), they were keen to push a formula agenda.

(Edit: when I mention that the lady is a nurse this is not to belittle her profession or rank health care professionals in any sort of order. It is to express my surprise that I have not had not had access to Health Visitors at weigh ins who may have different advice to offer and other experience that informs said advice. It felt like this woman was not going by my baby as an individual… more a set of new guidelines.)

I promised myself that I would maybe introduce a few bottles to “beef her up a bit” because I knew it would artificially lay down some weight at speed; then the “health professionals” would leave me alone if I got Bea performing in the growth department and charting those darn centiles! I knew that for my sins I wanted to continue breastfeeding. This week I made it to 6 months breastfeeding in some form! So I am part of the Sapphire Boobs Club #boobieawards!B35DCAD6-FA6D-40EB-9761-10EE028B67C4

I feel that combination feeding has actually ensured that I have continued breastfeeding for longer! We have recently been combating 4 Month Sleep Regression which has turned the house upside-down. In my desperate search for the answer to sleep, the exhaustion of which I had not experienced since newborn stage in the hospital I thought “is formula the magic bullet for my sleep solace and sanity?” So I started making up more formula bottles around her fussy times and the early evening.

I don’t know why I felt so guilty… I just wanted to make sure my baby was the healthiest she could be, but I couldn’t help but think of myself from the perspective of the crazy, militant Boobing Momma I had created as part of my Mum-Identity and I felt like a phoney for all those times on social media I had really pushed breastfeeding as the right decision for me and better for babies! For better or worse there is such an emphasis on doing more, trying harder, buying this, that and the other to enhance the breastfeeding experience. I trawled the online forums and found a chorus of “have you tried this?“have you tried that?” “Buy these supplements/lactation teas/ all singing all dancing electric pumps”. In all honesty sometimes the breastfeeding culture really does ask a little too much of us Mumma’s.

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(Edit: Looking back at the pictures of Bea breastfeeding I wish I had taken more photos along the way, but I felt very discouraged to do so after some negativity on Social Media.)

At my most exhausted and my breaking point I didn’t feel like I could physically DO MORE. And I finally gave in to making things less taxing on my body that is still trying to heal itself after a traumatic loss, followed closely by a daunting premature birth. I felt like I had literally given everything I had to my babies. And I would never begrudge that. They do after all deserve the very best, but I started to feel like I could not be at the top of my game if all I ever did was put so much pressure on my mind and body.

Breastfeeding will always put an extra burden on you as a Momma, no matter how supportive your Husband/partner may be. In the exclusive breastfeeding period as I prepped Bea and I for a feed in the early hours of the morning (I have been a member of the 2am Club since the start of this parenting journey!) I would look over at my peacefully snoozing Husband and curse him for his useless nipples! I was so jealous of his extra slumber. The saying is incorrect about sleeping like a baby… it should be revised to “Sleeping like a Daddy”… there have been countless occasions where my Hubby innocently looks over in the morning and mentions how well Bea slept through the night. He had no idea that I had been up every hour Boobing. My nights were super active and exhausting… especially the Cluster Feeds.

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Grab your “Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Clear Bottles, 260 ml, 6 Count ” for a bargain price of £12.99 today!

For over a month I was in constant fear of  my supply drying up. There is nothing more demoralising than completing a 40 minute pumping sesh then only have 3oz to show for this labour of love. I can’t even count the amount of time I had Mom Tantrums & threw my metaphorical toys out the pram or more accurately the pump down the stairs in a fit of rage. There were days I was literally crying over spilt milk. “That’s it I am giving up!” I would threaten… often three or four times a day at the most challenging points and my poor Husband would dutifully remind me how fantastically I had done to get this far. And I would carry on and detest the hard times but truly love the good times with all my heart. There is nothing quite like a Sleepy Boob Feed.

But I would become overcome with the utter fear of losing my supply and pushed through almost 2 whole challenging months with no support because you are made to feel like the breastfeeding experience is all or nothing and that sucks in my opinion. No middle ground is offered and I found that combi feeding has done wonders for my sanity and relationship with my daughter. It is nice to not just feel like a snack bar 24/7. We can spend beautiful moments just snuggling under the covers and me not just having to be her source of sustenance. She loves me for the comfort I can provide in spite of my own milk (or not!)

Initially it was so hard to take on “doing less” and I was terrified of judgement. There seemed to be a huge amount of kudos to be found when other Mums at the baby groups would say how well Bea was looking then instantly follow up with “are you breastfeeding?” For those exclusive breastfeeding months I would say yes and the response would always be so positive “you go Mamma!” … but what now of combi feeding? Would the response still be the same?! I think that’s what I was afraid of at first as I started experiencing a new kind of freedom… but could this be seen as lazy? Would it be detrimental to my child to give her formula?

Whatever you seem to do as a Momma you will feel judged, but I think it is about going confidently in your own direction and trusting your body, decisions and baby. I am slowly learning to do this. Bea is thriving day by day and it makes me trust my own inner voice much more. I think we should be doing more to empower each other as Mothers, Care Givers & Goddesses on Earth.

Combi Feeding has given me a new feeling of freedom. I am not locked away behind closed doors prepping lactation smoothies and power pumping every 20 minutes to up my supply between feeds. I am not judging this way of feeding and routine, but I am far too unorganised to maintain anything that resembles this kind of structure. If you can I truly commend you. Combi Feeding has meant that I can hand a bottle over to my Husband to take off some of the pressure on me after a twelve hour day of caring for our little whirlwind (she is intense!!!) or I have the utter freedom that so many of my Fully Boobing friends don’t have where their little one will not take a bottle so can not spend extended periods of time with other family members. I am always thankful that I can pack up her bits and bobs and quite happily send Bea off to her Nannies’ for the day; safe in the knowledge she will be well fed.

I guess my message is, if you choose to not exclusively breastfeed it is of no detriment to your baby. Combi Feeding has meant there has been (a bit) less pressure on my body so there is more enjoyment when we breastfeed. It means that out session is much more casual and I am not highly strung about whether I have been able to produce enough milk. I just “go with the flow”… or more precisely my milk flow. Having the option to bottle feed has meant that I am not worrying about creating a crazy “milk stash”! Sometimes with freezing your milk the high lipase levels turn the taste utterly disgusting for your baby! After hospital I never had the patience again to pump and freeze ounces and ounces of milk. I usually only found myself ahead two or three bottles of expressed milk at the most. I quickly regulated to this output and found that if I pumped in between it would suck me dry and make for a distressed Bea when it came to feeds as she gets easily upset when she has to work harder to get her milk. (In terms of Combi Feeding I have personally not found there to be any nipple/teat confusion; more a case of different preferences on different days! Obviously the bottle flow is faster. Bea never took kindly to the slow flow teats we put on her bottles!)

I have found that Combi Feeding offered me some much needed rest. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing so is not another reason to question your ability as a Mum! I continue to breastfeed Bea in harmony with bottle feeding.

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This little Sass Pot likes to feed herself now!

I don’t know how much longer I will be breastfeeding. Initially it seemed like an improbable future for Bea and I so every day longer that we breastfeed is an utter bonus! I feel like I gave Bea the best start in life. I sacrificed a lot to get is both to this point now. As it currently stands, Feeding is the least of my worries at the moment! There are other issues that we are working on but at least I know when all is said she done, Bea WILL have a full belly every day. It doesn’t matter how it is done provided I get to see her beautiful smiles each day!

Have you chosen to Combi Feed? Are you finding it beneficial to your relationship with your child and self? Have you felt pressure from The Breastfeeding Community?

#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

Ain’t no Shame in my Combi Feeding Game!

Ain’t no Shame in my Combi Feeding Game!

I was adamant that I would embark on the breastfeeding journey & nourish our little lady with my golden elixir of life. I thought it would be easy… I thought it would be idyllic and beautiful, and I thought I would enjoy it…

There is so much misinformation out there and more agendas than you can shake a stick at in a hospital environment (which is where I ended up being held hostage very much against my own will for eighteen long days) and mine and Bea’s start was very rocky with a punishing routine, very little support for breastfeeding (staff were pro breastfeeding in their discourse but not in action) and my extreme exhaustion.

The circumstances of Bea’s arrival into the world meant that my body was not yet ready to produce its own brand milk and in all honesty, in the whirlwind and shock of coming into hospital to deliver my child seven weeks early I had not even considered the possibility that I would not be ready to breastfeed!

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Amazingly my milk did come in the day following Bea’s birth. She was being looked after in the NICU and was being fed through an IV. This meant that there wasn’t the opportunity for the medical staff to attempt to enforce a formula policy on me because I was able to provide for my child as soon as she fought herself off the drip and blipping machines.

It was gruelling though and so soul destroying on Day 0 (Bea’s Birth day), as I hand expressed to no avail. I questioned why my body continues to let me down (I had now not gone to full term in two out of two pregnancies!) and because of the very early arrival I may have had to wait up to five days for my milk to come in!! After every unsuccessful hand expressing session I wondered if I was even cut out to be a Mum (crazy thoughts whizz through your mind when you have so much time to kill without your baby in your arms!)

I was advised on Day 1 (the day following Bea’s Birth) that I could use the industrial Madela pump to encourage my milk to come in. It certainly was an odd experience as it tugged roughly at my mamories, set to initiate status. The pump almost moo’ed in sympathy with me as I felt like a prize milker! It was so depressing and hilarious all at once as I sat eating my breakfast; toast in one hand and pump in the other.

Truly when you have a child any shred of dignity disappears, and eventually it came to pass that I would just sit there in my room (no shroud, not hiding away) with breasts fully exposed at various points of the day! One poor Midwife didn’t meet me fully clothed and without a breast out until the end of the first week of our stay & he joked upon that meeting “well it’s nice to meet you and not just your boobs!”

The expressing was a great success and by Day 1 I had collected colostrum (that precious liquid gold) to feed my child. It was only 2ml per session (I pumped every 2-4 hours in between the 4 hourly feeds) but I could not have been more proud of myself! I would run into the NICU and deliver my premium commodity to the nurse on duty! I would squeal in excitement “Special Delivery!” (I am sure this probably wore thin after a few days but each time the lovely lady on duty would humor me!)

By Day 2 Bea was being topped up with my milk and amazingly was out of NICU Care by the third day! This was when I was first allowed to feed her through her tube and felt on top of the world as the liquid disappeared inside our beautiful baby! I knew it was my milk that fortified her body and made her strong.

It was amazing to see the increase in milk supply over the first week and its change in consistency and colour to ensure it was delivering all my babies needs. To this day I find it incredible that our milk provides exactly what our babies solicit and changes to meet these requirements! There is a reason that “breast is best” scientifically- there is no use in denying that as “fed” is the minimum standard, but there is already such a body of work on this topic that for this post I do not aim to get into debate. The purpose of this post is to highlight the positives of combination feeding as there seems to be far less conversation about it!

For my almost 3 weeks in hospital I had to solely express as Bea was unable to latch due to a myriad of issues and circumstances from her own biology to the nurture (or lack there of) aspect. I have so much respect for those Mothers who express/pump to feed because I was shattered from this lifestyle by a month and a half in. I continued expressing until Bea finally took to the boob in June but still had my expressed breast milk as “back up” in the fridge and found time to express here and there, where possible.

Due to my utter exhaustion I had to battle through low supply not once, not twice but THREE times in hospital. Each time I pumped and could not seem to exceed 50ml it felt like a punch to my gut and I nearly gave up. The one thing that kept me going was Bea and her recovery. It was unlikely that I would be getting out of the hospital with her fully breastfeeding but I was going stir crazy after week 2 and just wanted to get our family home and back to some sort of normality.

The caviat for escaping was Bea to be drinking at least 50% of her bottle 50% of the daily feed schedule. An “easy way out” was to leave hospital with her feeding tube in which was NO option for me. She may not have been breastfeeding but I was determined she would be feeding well enough that she could sustain herself and would not need any further hospital care.

Essentially a bottle was the first experience Bea had of eating food in a normal capacity ie: not straight into her tummy. In one respect bottle feeding was so much easier in the hospital setting than ‘real life’ because all the equipment was ready to use- no sterilising bottles or waiting for formula to cool. I would just express into a sterile bottle but then I had the added dimension of tube feeding (which I had to get medically signed off on). It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. On minimal sleep I had to ensure our baby was fed safely.

Tube feeding also involves an element where you have to extract your own child’s stomach contents to test the ph levels and ensure it is safe to feed. Before every feed I would have to syringe Bea’s feeding tube and test it on litmus papers. It would have to present itself the correct colouration before I could proceed with her feed and sometimes where the milk was absorbed from the last feed it could take two to four attempts.

Bea’s condition was improving after a mystery viral infection (which was never actually solved as to what it was, having had the medical staff mention possible herpes or sepsis!) She had finally had a chest X-ray after badgering the medical staff to get it booked in. This took over five days to complete, and in that time I was beside myself, trying to convince myself that she didn’t have a clot on her lung after a preliminary X-Ray had shown a dark spot clinging on somewhere between her vital organs (heart and lungs).

Oddly my sense of “normality” became tied up with my Express/Feed routine which I had altered to a more on demand basis (keen to move toward some kind of routine that would be more breastfeeding compatible.) As previously mentioned Express Feeding is difficult. I barely had time in the day to look after myself, I had however been put off bathing after the clot that joined me in the tub the day after giving birth! (People tell you that you will bleed but not the full extent…) I was starting to feel like a dairy cow more and more as they days passed in a blur.

I had soon realised that the staff were not going to come to me when I wanted to attempt breastfeeding Bea so my mum came to look after us for a week, taking the time to help me get Bea latching. Bea was defying all odds and the usual conventions of a premmie baby (medical marvel. The trainee doctors even used her as a medical case study and would come and visit us every morning as part of the doctors rounds to note her progress!) I was thrilled when we both managed a five minute feed. It felt like such a breakthrough and made me feel like I was capable of feeding her how I wanted to! I would tell the Outreach Team that I would still be breastfeeding Bea and not having to rely on expressing.

With sheer determination Bea was feeding without her nose tube around the 27th April and I reckon I was getting on the last nerve of a few of the ladies on the Ward, who I think found me difficult with my constant questions and stubbornness about how I wanted to feed. I was almost militant that Bea would not be fed formula unless completely necessary to her survival. It crushed my the first time I had to top her up with SMA milk when my supply had dwindled.

When we were finally released on 5th May, the light at the end of our long hospital tunnel otherwise known as our Outreach Team fully supported my Boob Mission! On their weekly visits they would support my breastfeeding endeavours and helped me formulate Bea and I’s best practice for feeding! (We did not get on with the regular feeding positions.)

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I was exclusively breastfeeding by June, but found I had a very love/hate relationship with it. When it was going well I was on top of the world but then those leaps would change everything. Just when I thought we had cracked it we would experience a set back such as the sweltering Summer heat, cluster feeding, low supply (again) & extended fussy periods of time!

I threatened to stop breastfeeding almost every week… but didn’t because I honestly had found such a sense of pride in being able to exclusively provide everything my child needed to thrive.

My favourite feeds are the first and last of the day because they are in sync, quiet and stress free. I call them our “Sleepy Feeds” and we both pretty much doze through them and our bodies just do what they are meant to do. I started to find that my supply dipped around 3pm & 7pm feeds and we believed that Bea had “Intellectual Collic” (we had never heard of it either before wondering why she was being a Tinker every evening between 6pm-8pm). This is where I started introducing a formula bottle feed and that quickly improved our evening routine and seemed to “fix” the crying/fussy issue.

By no means was this an “easy way out” because I was wracked with guilt each time Bea had “fake milk” instead of mine. I battled with feelings of not being good enough but my husband reminded me that I had been breastfeeding three times longer than he had anticipated. I think in all honesty a lot of people either didn’t think I would end up breastfeeding at all or I would maybe do a few weeks then pack it in!

I had expressed for over a month, then exclusively breastfed for over two months. I will admit that I didn’t love breastfeeding most the time but any time I was close to quitting I would remind myself of the benefits to both Bea and I and how close it made me feel to Bea when she was feeding well.

Going into her fifth month we have a few more formula bottles in the day now. Some days I still feel such guilt that I couldn’t fully sustain her on my breastmilk… but I guess “Mum Guilt” is felt from all angles. Mums are pressured in all capacities. Everyone has their opinion on what is “the right way” but really you have to find your own best lives and live it and let other mums do the same!!! Never try to shame them for their choices when all we are all trying to do is bring up healthy and happy little people.

I am confident in the fact that Bea will never enjoy formula as much as my breast milk so it makes our feeds so much more special as I see her excitement in coming to me for comfort and her meal! There’s not that much information readily given about combination feeding so Bea and I have pretty much just worked it out for ourselves.

I believe that there isn’t such a side effect as “nipple confusion” because Bea KNOWS where the ‘Good Stuff’ comes from. She can just be somewhat lazy and prefer the convenience of a bottle at times. I feel that I continued with breastfeeding because I ended up relaxing on the “all-or-nothing” approach to it.

Instead of fighting with Bea to breastfeed her, I know that she can quite happily have a prepared bottle and I am no less of a breastfeeding Momma for it! I am sure the very militant breastfeeders would disagree with me. I feel that combi/mixed feeders are perhaps judged the most and judgement of any kind, of any Mother needs to stop now because sometimes we just need a little bit of support.

Breastfeeding is NOT easy, despite it being natural. Expressing is certainly NOT easy, exclusively bottle feeding is NOT easy. I feel that combi feeding offers Bea and I a sense of flexibility and a safety net for me knowing that in one way or another my child will be getting enough to eat over the course of the day and she is happy. As with most things now Bea dictates how she wants to be fed at the time. I just make sure I have a sterilised bottle ready to go then we make our decision there and then as the need to feed kicks in.

I enjoy the freedom to feed in the best possible way. I do feel bad to admit it but I don’t think I was fully cut out for exclusively breastfeeding (I am too impatient!) but that’s okay. Just feed your child and love your child. I know that Bea doesn’t just love me because I feed her… it’s all the other things too! Combi feeding affords you the opportunity to continue breastfeeding if you perhaps thought the intensity wasn’t for you.

I think there needs to be more infotnation about the mixed feeding method to give Mums another way. Feeding is not a “us and them” game and I traverse between the two worlds. I was a loud and proud breastfeeder for 4 months (as I count the expressing method too) and now I am a breastfeeder with some back up.

Have you ever felt singled out as a combi feeder? Is mixed feeding an option that your health visitor discussed with you? Did you have an issue with breastfeeding when you wanted to feed in this way? I look forward to your opinions on MIXED FEEDING only- no attack’s on breast of formula feeding please!

 

#StaySweet

Love Bea’s Mummy x

Bea & I: The Buzz.

Bea & I: The Buzz.

There is nothing better in life than seeing those big, blue eyes stare up at me full of wonder and love. You wonder how you could love this little person more each day, but somehow you can and it defies all laws of nature, space and the universe. With every ounce of my being I am in utter love with this little girl. She is a gift!

No really she is. I do not hyperbolise (yet!) The things my mind and body have had to endure (how can nature be both so amazing and cruel in one swift blow?) on this journey toward Motherhood. I will not beat about the bush. Like 1 in 4 pregnancies our first son came into the corporeal world as a sleeping child. It was traumatic and shattered my heart into a million shards. “But why me?” I questioned everything about myself as I had failed to carry our little boy safely into the world. I blamed my body, every little thing I had done, and did so until the pathology results came back with the conclusion of Placenta Abruption.

I went into spontaneous labour with our little Mylo on 3rd June 2017 and I honestly have never felt so much pain in my life, as I delivered our boy in our bathroom, the only reason I think I survived was because of the support of my husband who held my shaking body until the paramedics arrived.

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Mylo Patrick Raymond Goddard was 21 weeks gestation and he was beautiful. So fragile, so tiny. I cradled him like any other child but I would never hear his cries, watch him take his first breath (and all those first moments disappeared from my life which is quite a big thing to get your head around- especially on a cocktail of meds to keep you alive & heal the physical trauma!) and I would never see his beautiful eyes full of wonder at the world around him. I do always wonder what colour his eyes would have been and whether they would be as brilliant blue as Bea’s. (If you would like to read my guest blog about Mylo and childloss click here.)

Needless to say when we had our BFP (Big fat positive) in October of 2017 we were terrified to go through it all again but ever the optimist, I was determined to enjoy this pregnancy and celebrate each day as a day closer to welcoming Mylo’s sibling into the world. 24 weeks seemed so far away – this being the point at which a child is “viable” (urrrggghh such a clinical world) and their personage is medically recognised. After everything that had previously happened I had learnt the sobering lesson that there is no “safe point” in pregnancy.

Unlike my first pregnancy I was hit with terrible Morning (elevenses, afternoon, supper & nighttime) sickness!! Some days it was crippling. My body had not been my own for half a year and after the loss it had taken longer than I expected to heal. I was always exhausted and the fear stuck in my throat like microscopic but deadly daggers or a thousand Crunchy Nature Valley bars!!

I was consultant lead due to my previous circumstances so I was lucky to see our baby grow and move and live within me a few extra times. These moments were previous to me. We got to the 12 week scan and I couldn’t help but think how similar it looked to our precious little Mylo… then my next thought was “oh god this baby is going to be the spitting image of their Father again!!!”  (When Mylo was born all I saw in his features was Daddy. Only my pouty lips bore genetic resemblence to me, of which I was pretty pissed about having been the one to carry him and didn’t really feel like there was a 50/50 aesthetic split!!!)

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This pregnancy we decided that we would find out the gender of our Baby Rainbow 🌈- I think in part this was so that I could feel as much atratchment to this little person as possible because one of my most nagging worries was that following a loss I would struggle to love this tiny human being as much as I loved our son (it sounds very silly but parents of loss definitely think very differently – see my post on How to Deal with Parents of Childloss).

The way that my body felt that it had done the rounds with Mike Tyson on the daily and the all too often debilitating heart burn I was 100% certain that we had a little lady on the way.

Loss takes its toll on all those close family members that surround you (they lose a nephew & grandson too!) so my Mother in particular having lost her FIRST grandchild wanted to throw her whole being into the lead up of welcoming our little Rainbow. At 16 weeks we had gone in for a growth scan and the sonographer asked whether we wanted her to reveal the gender. It was decided that Daddy Bear and I would not be informed but Nannie H would be the first to learn the gender so she could throw us a Gender Reveal event (see post on My Favourite Moments of Pregnancy.)

Turns out a Mummy Bear is super in sync with their baby and body and I was right. A little girl!!! I knew she would lift up our lives and as the term Rainbow Baby suggests would add the colour back into our grey, stormy worlds. I vowed though that I would love this little lady not just as the sister to her Angel Brother but inspite of that as her own person; never in the shadow of Mylo.

Piece by piece & Bump Photo by Bump Photo she filled up my world and I planned (though not fast enough it would seem!) in between moments of serious panic. Remember when the whole of Britain came to a snowy standstill in March?! I had faux contractions and was sure that I was going into early labour again!! “Not now!” I willed my body as 1) I was only 26 weeks pregnant and b) I wasn’t sure we would have even been able to safely make the journey to the hospital. I wasn’t! I breathed a sigh of relief and congratulated my body for managing to keep this little lady in place.

The calm was short lived as just two weeks later I was back at the hospital Triage Ward having lost my plug!!! I was terrified and on countdown to D-Day (Delivery Day!!!) as I was all too aware that our child could be making her appearance in a matter of weeks.

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The nursery was not complete and we threw my Baby Shower at the end of March. I knew my body was coming closer to birth. I practiced my pelvic floor exercises and ate healthily to nourish myself and the baby until the end. I knew that I was unlikely to make it to Week 38 (where they had said I would need to be induced because of my gestational diabetes- oh yes all the fun!) but I don’t think anyone would have predicted the Birth Day commencing in week 33!!!

Just the previous day I had been hooked up to a machine because of reduced movements (ALWAYS GO TO THE HOSPITAL IF YOU NOTICE REDUCED MOVEMENTS. IT IS A MISNOMER THAT THE BABIES MOVEMENTS SLOW DOWN TOWARDS BIRTH – THEY SHOULD HOLD TO THE PATTERN THAT YOU HAVE NOTED ALL ALONG!) My hospital had been so patient with me. I had been in with reduced movements twice before. I practically lived at the hospital during my very short lived third trimester! But they always echoed “If you ever feel that something is different/wrong come up to the hospital. You can come up every day”.

So there I was starting to show signs of contractions on the 16th April… not that they told me that. All I knew was that the baby had a strong heartbeat so I just continued on as normal. I was back at work the next day and smashing our targets and providing the best customer service all whilst in labour! I never realised that I had such a high pain threshold. I thought I just had a bad back. But all of a sudden I felt the internal workings which echoed my delivery of Mylo. That’s when we hot footed to the hospital. I was 33 + 3 and foolishly had not even packed my hospital bag in preparation for an early labour. She was seven weeks early!!!

As far as my labour went, it was textbook. It was just the circumstances surrounding it that were unusual! The staff didn’t seem to think I was in labour as I was handling myself so well and tried to pass my labour signs off as a UTI!!! I was having none of it, but there was a ward of screaming ladies who were making it quite obvious they were in labour… (it turns out the loudest screamer actually delivered her baby hours after me!!!) After a slight pester because I now felt what I assumed were my contractions, the speculum confirmed that I was in fact in active labour, I was 5cm dilated & they could feel my babies grad behind my waters which incidentally broke naturally whilst I was on the bed. It really is one of the weirdest but best feelings in the world! I think it surprised my husband how far it shot off the end of the bed!!!

I am hopped up on Gas and Air and the staff are trying to slow my labour as I had only managed to have one of the steroid shots for the babies lungs. I remember worrying that because the second could not be administered that our baby would have terrible breathing problems.

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**** SPOILERS!**** She didn’t because after just seven pushes she entered the world and made her first war cry to the world! This fierce Warrior Girl was loud and perfect. Tiny. But perfect. She lay on my chest and I fell in love. We shared a moment of reassurance and bliss- everything was going to be okay! I needn’t  have worried that she wasn’t going to make it. She was promptly whisked off to be hooked up to machines to ensure that she made a prompt recovery from the trauma of being too early!!!

Our little Beatrice Carys Bow Goddard spent just two days in the NICU, being treated for jaundice under the phototherapy lights then moved on to Special Care for a further day before coming to me on the Transitional Ward where we stayed for a further 15 days of utter stir-crazy inducing time. It was much like a work camp with the intense routine of expressing milk, changing the babies nappy, feeding the baby, feeding myself then repeating Express/change/feed for a 4 hourly routine day and night! Through my sleep deprivation, tube feeding and tears (mainly mine!!) Bea thrived when I cared for her.

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Sadly the care on the ward was very hit or miss (mostly miss!) and there were so many contending staff agendas and very little cohesive help and frustratingly very little breastfeeding support. Oh yeah… I forgot to mention I had to feed my child mum expresses breast milk through a nose tube for 12 days which involves syringing samples from her stomach to test her ph levels to make sure her tube was able to be used for feeding. Any incorrect move, particularly in terms of feeding could have had disastrous consequences!! Couple this with caring for such a tiny baby (she was only 4lbs 8.5oz at birth then dropped after this!!!) the first few weeks of her life were quite miserable for me.

Despite the tough start she inspired me to fight on and be the best Mother I could be because she was kicking ass at Person-ing!!! It was the least I could do for her!!!

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Fast forward 5 months and our girl has thrived and brought us so much happiness! She now weighs in at 10lbs2oz at the last weight check (03.09.18) and is hitting all her milestones! It is often disconcerting for people out and about to see such a tiny baby doing all the things she is because she still only looks a few months old if that!! I am forever having people saying “oh she most be a new one?!” and then I launch into our Premmie story. There is no denying she is a bit of a special baby and of course even more special to those of us who know exactly why!

She certainly has done and continues to do things HER way! Which is fine, it keeps me on my toes and I count my blessings that she has made me the Mother I am today.

I suppose I should introduce myself a little?!! I am Bea’s Mummy as I am mostly known now. Or Amber. I have worked various jobs which have failed to rock my world quite as much as being a Mummy! This is my favourite job to date and it is something that I am now going to be doing for the rest of my life.

Other than Bea, I have a passion for writing, travelling & cooking. My love of creating saw me attain a degree in English Literature, Philosophy and Ethics and an elective in Education. Biggest waste of time and money in all honesty. People have been pestering me to take my writing further for years and years and years but I have previously been “too busy”. A terrible attitude I realise having now thrown myself into Motherhood. I am now Mum Busy… and that is the busiest I have ever been but because it is the most important part of my identity now I thought I would silence the nagging by charting mine & Bea’s Adventures together.

I refer to it as bumbling through the hoods together. By Hoods I mean Motherhood/Childhood. I hope it is something that we can both look back on and smile and for her to know that she saved my life and for that I will be eternally thankful. I loved her from the start and I will until the end.

I hope this blog will be a useful resource for other Momma Bears and plan to review relevant brands and products that will make #TheMomLife that little bit easier to navigate. We are in this together!!

If you have any ideas about what you would like to see please do contact me. As I love to put word into the world I also guest blog (see my interview with Rhubarb The Bird with whom Bea represents.)

Lets be a MumBrigade. Keep Calm! You’re a Mum and may the odds be forever in your favour!

#StaySweet

-Bea’s Mummy.