Luck, Guilt and Breast Feeding

I’m a very lucky girl. Not only are my family and friends happy and in good health, not only have I had the opportunity to visit places all over the world but I met my husband just as I returned to the UK, we bought the house we wanted and we could be married where we wanted and I’m now enjoying well paid maternity leave. We also fell pregnant immediately, there were no complications and apart from mild heartburn, occasional hives and sleeping discomfort in the latter stages the pregnancy was textbook and rather enjoyable. The birth was relatively quick for a first baby, I managed to get through the contractions at home until I was 4cm dilated when I got to the hospital, and only 4 hours later Spencer had arrived, too quickly to allow me to have an epidural but not too quickly that I couldn’t have an episiotomy rather than tear. He was in good health and we could eventually go home later that same day. I’m incredibly lucky that he latched on straightaway and we’ve had no issues with breastfeeding, something I wanted to do. Spencer is now careering towards 4 months old and now I come to the guilt part of this post, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to breastfeed anymore and I feel guilty. The press is full of brelfies, bottle-feeding mothers being publicly shamed and all the miraculous benefits of breast milk. There’s no doubt that breast milk is prefect for babies, it’s what mother nature intended after all, but that by giving your baby breast milk until their three year old will make them a genius with the immune system of a Greek God I just don’t buy. I was bottle-fed and I can fight a cold much more effectively than my breastfed husband, and I know plenty of bottle-fed people who are not riddled with eczema and asthma. It seems like everyone has an opinion, only yesterday Sharon Hodgson, shadow minister for children and families, said there was a ”growing cultural obstacle” preventing working class mothers from breastfeeding their children and mothers on the likes of TOWIE and depicted in soaps should be shown breastfeeding to encourage working class mothers to follow suit; great, more pressure for those who can’t breastfeed. I had planned to breastfeed until Spencer was 6 months old and enjoy the bond between us for as long as possible, and it is lovely to have that closeness but that can also come from bottle-feeding. It comes down to some practicalities, my boobs are enormous and I have very little to wear and I want my body back, breast-feeding him can take twice as long as with a bottle, I worry he isn’t getting enough from me as he seems fuller with formula than with breast milk. I have days when I’ve simply had enough and will start the next day at giving him formula at every feed not just the one before bed, but then other days it’s so easy when he suddenly gets cranky to drop down my nursing bra and make my baby happy and I don’t want to lose this convenience anytime soon. Most mothers I’ve spoken to have some story of feeling guilty about feeding their baby, it can be pressure from family members about either using bottle or boob and neither being approved of, or of trying to persevere with breast-feeding at the insistence of midwives and health visitors to then be told by medical professionals that the child needs formula to gain a healthy weight. I know I won’t be breast-feeding Spencer when he’s 6 months old but I still don’t know when I’ll finally finish because the guilt of stopping too soon is sometimes overwhelming. I know I should just do what’s best for us and that’s what every mother should do and I will listen to my son and my own needs in the end but there’s so much pressure out there it’s hard not to be affected and feel the guilt.

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My life now

I’m sat writing this with an 8-week-old baby on my lap, he will probably wake up if I move him and he looks so peaceful it’s too difficult to effect his slumber just for the sake of the feeling in my legs. This baby, this little blonde haired blue-eyed boy is the reason this blog has been quiet of late. He is the reason I felt compelled to paint the house on my maternity leave and fill the 3 weeks with shopping, cleaning, ironing, organising and not as much sleep as I wish I had had. He is the reason I haven’t had a full nights sleep for 8 weeks and 5 days, and that might not be because he’s necessarily woken up but that I was in an anticipatory or anxious light sleep. He is the reason my online life revolves around nursery decorations, romper suits and baby showers. He is the reason going for a bowel movement still isn’t a fun carefree activity it used to be. His face is the reason my Facebook posts gets 4 times as many likes as before. He is a red-faced straining farting and pooing machine. He is an ever hungry, frowning, long finger spreading, snoring beauty and now I’ve got to know him* he is my everything. I still want to talk parties and weddings and homes, budgets, planning and life but that life is now babies, nurseries and baby showers. I now I feel in a position to continue with this blog as my son starts to find his feet (although not physically) and I have the extra hour a day to update my Pinterest and write to whoever is reading out there.

*more on unconditional love in another post.

christmas time…

…it’s certainly upon us now, this year has gone so quickly yet it’s hard to believe this time next week we’ll all be sat around stuffing our faces, unwrapping presents and sharing time with our loved ones, usually involving a board game in our house. I thought I should update you with my festive endeavours, if you are a friend of mine don’t continue reading as it will spoil your Christmas surprise. When it comes to prezzies I keep a list in my phone through the year if I think of things for people so The Husband and family have been fairly easy to buy for and I must admit the majority of this has happened through online shopping. It’s warm, hassle free, often cheaper and I get to become best friends with the postman and post office workers as I’m popping in after work to collect the packages which were attempted to be delivered while I was at work. The Husband absolutely hates wrapping and has been thrilled by the gift wrap option from Amazon, all he had to do was write the gift tag, already attached to the beautiful grey and red ribbon wrapping under the tree ready for the 25th. We do need to go and physically buy a few things this weekend I’m just hoping we make it out alive.

I stripped back the Halloween Wreath I created a few months ago and used off cuts from our Christmas tree (it needs a slight trim so it didn’t completely block the television) and wove them round the base and added a few spare baubles I didn’t want on the tree this year and a ribbon to finish it off and I think it looks rather lovely against our new blue front door, which is not only less draughty, noisy and unreliable than the previous it looks so much better than the boring white door we had before.

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I visited Castle Howard with my mum a few weekends back and we got a little carried away with new bauble buying, a selection are below and I’ve also purchased a new table runner for the dining table, apart from the real Christmas tree everything else has come back out of the boxes stored in the loft. I do love chevrons and I saw a link to a gold glitter chevron table runner on the Rock My Style blog a month back, I decided to find one independently and bought mine for half the price directly from China, it arrived quicker than some things posted within the UK do too.

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We’re not hosting Christmas this year but I still like to make and bake some things to take with me or in case people come round, which leads me to the kitchen. This year I have made candles and hot chocolate mix for my friends presents, using old jam jars and soya wax and pine and coconut spice fragrance bought from eBay I’ve decorated them up with ribbon, tissue paper and tags made from air dry clay. Stamped with letter stamps and cut using cookie cutters, they could do with some glitter or paint so might be more extravagant next year but they do the job for this year, including a special one for my friend who recently had her first baby. I’ll be making caramel shortbread and rice krispie cakes for my father in law as part of his present, taking a Bailey’s induced cheesecake round to my friend on Monday, making some little chocolate treats I found the recipe for on Rock My Style blog and hopefully taking on Paul Hollywood’s marzipan and mincemeat couronne recipe from the other night this weekend. Oh and possibly getting the cookie cutters back out for some gingerbread action if I find the time, I think Christmas has hit me this week so it’s all guns blazing.

Any of you making or baking presents and treats over the weekend or are you giving your Christmas cake its last ‘feed’ before the big day? I hope the pictures and ideas get you into the Christmas spirit if you’re not already there.

all about the lob

I had a haircut on Saturday, not the most exciting of events but it was a decent trim and root touch up to my ombre lob. I may be late to the party but since watching Beyoncé perform at the Grammy’s at the start of the year with a natural wave and ombre lob I’ve been obsessed. The prefect length to be manageable and not too boring and perfect for my naturally curly hair and since the start of the summer I’ve had my brown roots enhanced with a warm blond at the tips and I’ve absolutely loved it and still do. I’m normally scared to do anything too trendy or will change back after one hairdresser visit but this just works and is still working for so many celebrities, even the power house that is Taylor Swift got rid of her long locks for the look. What do people think to it? Is it getting a bit tired now, what will be the haircut sensation of 2015? Is anyone planning anything dramatic, any strong colour changes? I’m always tempted to go back red at this time of year. Let me know if you’re getting married soon and you’re having hair issues, are people still thinking of growing their hair before the big day to give them more styling option, I’d love to hear what you think.

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beard ambition

We are now into Movember so it seems a good a time as any to discuss mens faces. Well more precisely their facial hair.

You may have noticed from some of the photos on here that The Boy, or should that be The Husband, had some stubble on our big day. He didn’t want to be completely clean-shaven and baby-faced to avoid looking like a 12-year-old. The in-laws offered him a special cut throat shave and spa experience for the big day but he wanted to keep things low maintenance, as is his style.

From a male point of view just as much as a woman’s the stylings you have for your big day needs to have an element of timelessness, I feel anything too trendy will not stand the test of time in your photographs and memories. I had red hair pre wedding and have since gone for an ombre style since but consciously thought about keeping my hair colour to a more natural look for the big day. In the same respect for his facial hair The Husband wanted to look like himself, the best version of. Post honeymoon though he took his low maintenance approach to grooming one step further, and started to grow a beard, it was shaved back for a friend’s wedding in the new year but since then has had almost 11 months of growing. It seems to have coincided with a very trendy time for beards, it looks as though The Husband belongs in a chunky cardigan in the Next catalogue. The longer it grew the more upkeep it has needed, his hairdressers have changed to one including trusted beard trims and shaping and his drawer in the bathroom now consists of a beard comb, oil and wax (much fun has been had shaping the moustache part of the beard into curly tentacles). This low maintenance accessory has gone the other way and there doesn’t appear to be any letting go anytime soon, not when it provides him with many conversations with strangers in bars (mostly men) who admire this statement of manliness. Does your other half have a beard or considering growing one for the winter months and have beards being the subject of debate when wedding days approach? I think if your man has had a beard for a significant time and is very much how he is perceived then wedding beards are a go but if it’s a brief trend or gimmick then he may regret his choice in years to come but is there anything more handsome than a beardy man in a suit?

 

the staff of life

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Everyone seems to be obsessed with sugar; how evil it is, how it could be worse than fat for your health and there’s a new term which keeps cropping up; clean eating. It sounds great, making sure the food you eat is in it’s purest form, no additives no pre-packaged nonsense, and ultimately taking the time to care for what you put in your body. I completely buy into it, so much so that I bought a juicer and a cook book to assist in this healthy venture. It’s lasted quite a while but I have to be honest and say that life gets in the way. As much as I love a good meal out and food does excite me, the latest Marks and Spencer food porn definitely got me going, you do just eat to live so after a long day at work I don’t always have the energy to make my own pasta out of a courgette.

The blender we bought does get used more than the cook book, the Breville Blend Active is convenient, easy to use, effective and can be put through the dishwasher. I found the all fruit smoothies I made, what I thought to be safe options with no chance of sending me to the canteen when I took it for lunch at work, were not as filling or tasty as the scary looking ones. By that I mean the green ones combining vegetables and fruit together, in my mind they should not work but the spinach, pear, grape, yoghurt and avocado is still my favourite go to smoothie. They are relevantly quick to make too; on a morning to keep it fresher and keeping the goodness there for a definite afternoon pick me up. Much more than a sandwich would. Which bring me to the title of this post, isn’t bread meant to be the staff of life? The main components of our daily meals, but it seems bread as much as sugar is getting a bad press at the moment, it is because bread nowadays isn’t what it used to be, more full of sugar and additives so it lasts for longer so it is no longer the right stable of food. Perhaps it’s the celebrity culture of going gluten-free or that everyone seems to be gluten intolerant all of a sudden, either way I do find if I remove it from my diet I am less bloated and feel better, but it can be hard to find lunches in particular that are as filling as those which are bread based. Who out there is trying to shape up for the Christmas party season or on a wedding countdown and is trying to find substantial but healthy afternoon food ideas? Any got any tips or smoothie recipes to share, I’d love to hear.

scent of a woman

 

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It’s said that women use scents and smells to trigger memories more than men, I know it certainly does for me, if I smell fern trees I’m in Hornsea aged 8 on a school holiday or just cooked rice and I’m at the home stay in Thailand. Initially having my doubts and being budget conscious I did not plan of having a new perfume for my wedding day but in the end I decided it would be lovely to evoke the memories of that most special of days and I wear it on equally special husband and wife days now. I chose Dahlia Noir for it’s soft and gentle tones, but without being too flowery and overwhelming. I wanted to wear it not the other way round.

I used to get new perfumes in January, save up my Boots Advantage points all year and then splurge in the sales, on sets with body lotions and me and a university friend could spend hours in Newcastle’s Boots store going up and down the perfume counters. I used to be a particularly big fan of a fun bottle and even now the bottle design needs to be as alluring as the scent itself. I’ve been through most of the Anna Sui range for this very reason but I used to be a big fan of Dior and especially J’adore in it’s sumptuous gold bottle.

For the last few years I’ve stuck to Beyoncé’s Heat which I started using after getting free with the start of a magazine subscription, it works in summer and winter but I’m ready for a change so cue a long time spent at perfume counters and coming home with millions of white paper sticks. Being a sucker for celebrities and a quirky bottle the Nicky Minaj perfumes certainly stand out but the sweet and soft tones of Miss Dior and Prada Florale are the front runners for my Christmas wish list. I want something that will look pretty on my dressing table, work whatever the season and not be overpowering, not too much to ask for? Does anyone have an suggestions or recommendations for me before I plan my next perfume counter trip and ask Santa for a new fragrance?

 

Books I am reading

books I am reading by Chris Baggley

The Girl Who Played with Fire – S Larsson

I finally got round to reading the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo early this year on a short and relaxing holiday to Ibiza where I did nothing but lay by the pool and read, I had been given it as a present years ago but I could never get beyond the first chapter. I am so glad I finally pressed on because now I’m flying through the sequels and I love being sucked into the world of our anti-heroes, dark Scandinavia and vivid story telling. If you haven’t read the trilogy yet (I know a lot will be shouting ‘who hasn’t’ right now) then give it a go because intrigue and journalism was never so cool.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – M Kaling

I am obsessed with The Mindy Project (season 2 currently on E4) with goofy-ness, not too trite situations and characters who are flawed so believable. I am the lead character, Mindy Lahiri, she says the things I think and she lives this very well dressed life in New York that I am envious of. I needed to know more about the writer and star Mindy Kaling, if this was her baby then I wanted to be friends with the person that gave me TV Mindy who tried to have shower sex with her boyfriend and it ended in the same hilarious way the husband and I’s attempt ended. So I got her book for my birthday, her random stream of consciousness from her blog, it talks much of her time working on the American version of The Office, which I never watched, but if you didn’t either don’t let it put you off the stories of a real woman heading to and working in LA. The real Mindy says what I think too, why it takes men so long to put shoes on, the film remarks she wants to make, why rom coms and college are so great and how friendships work. I have a major girl crush right now and I would highly recommend this easy and funny read.

How to Host A Dinner Party – C Mintz

Another birthday present was the Dinner Party Guide (hopefully my friend wasn’t trying to tell me my Chinese New Year party blew) but this is great even if you’re an old hand at throwing a dinner party. Don’t over complicate things, think about who you’re inviting and a sin I always commit which is don’t over invite and think about who you’re inviting. It’s so easy to want to get everyone round but it can lead to an over stretched host and awkward seating plans. If you’re thinking of getting people round this autumn for a more formal get together then give this a go for a little advice by a witty American.

Running Like A Girl – A Heminsley

I ran the Leeds 10k this July. I am not a runner. At all. I used to say unless someone was chasing me why would I run. But then I got into it and I liked what by body could do and how it altered, how my lung capacity and fitness improved and I would never say I was a ‘runner’ but I’m so much more of one than I was. This book is irreverent and informative and basically highlights that it’s not just your legs or lungs that stop you from going further it’s your head and she’s an inspirational author who isn’t afraid of telling you her lowest points. It makes you want to put your trainers on and get out there.