Saturday, 30 April 2016

Our family in April 2016

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

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

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

An outtake for good measure ;)

Friday, 29 April 2016

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

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

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

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


Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Early Days - Breastfeeding for the fourth time.

It's now 13 days since I gave birth to our fourth little baby, our darling little girl. 

I'm still yet to get round to finishing her birth story post, along with about a million others! So this post is dedicated to the beginning of our breastfeeding journey really. It's something i've felt so strongly and passionate about since learning I was pregnant with our first baby, I managed to breastfeed our three children to 13 months with Yve's, 15 months with Halle and to 17 months with Phoenix - this wasn't without any issues though and I can't honestly write it down here that it has shown me some very tough times physically and mentally. 

I've written here before about my previous breastfeeding experiences, and about how I even volunteered and completed a 'breastfeeding peer support worker' course just to gain any extra knowledge, and for me to be able to offer any advice to those who would ever be in the same situation with breastfeeding with the difficulties that can crop up. 

This specific post, I wanted to write about our fourth little bundle of joy. I will start by saying that she is a natural with feeding, suckling contentedly within minutes of being born, she just knew what she wanted, instincts kicked in and that was the start of where we are now.  Even though she is our fourth baby, I still had those hazy moments after giving birth of 'what if i've forgotten how to breastfeed?', 'What if she latches wrong and i don't realise until its too late and it's gone into an open wound' - been there, done that and it is not nice at all.
While she was latched, and feeding away, I was just taking it all in, and just in complete awe that I had been given this opportunity again. It wasn't the most comfortable of things but it never is when you first start. A problem for me is that prior to breastfeeding children, my boobs are on the smaller scale - so when they have to change so quickly I think it's my body that takes the longest to adapt where as she is fully equipped and ready to guzzle. I spent a night and an afternoon in hospital this time due to observations following a blood loss, and as much as I just wanted to be home with all of my babies I knew it was a good thing being there, so that I could get a little extra time to master feeding before coming home and getting back to reality of busy family life. 

Once home, my milk soon followed and with that brought a whole other level of discomfort. Like I said, I'm in no way used to having bigger boobs, not to mention ones that are ever so swollen and being awkward for baby to latch on with one taking longer, and another having milk that comes out at a ridiculous speed. In my first breastfeeding journey, I had 10 whole weeks of sheer pain, exhaustion of the pain, an open wound from bad latches, thrush for us both and rounds of the dreaded mastitis. I'm not sure why, and for me it wasn't pressured on me but I wanted to persevere and i'm thankful I did. I think in a way I put a bit on myself to carry on, but it's something I wanted to do for our baby, after all I had already dedicated 40 weeks to growing her so why not carry on this act of love for a few more weeks (even though the pain was absolutely razor sharp). My second and third babies were a lot more straight forward but also pain in the early weeks. 

I'm at the point now where its still very new this time. With hindsight on my side, I know that every baby is different regardless of all coming from the same Mama. Feeding has been very tender the past 12 days, i've shouted into thin air, i've winced in pain, looked at my slightly bleeding nipple from a rushed and bad latch by me, shed many tears of frustration, and literally wrapped myself in my dressing gown at any opportunity to make sure my boobs are warm and covered to ease the stinging. Completely dreading each feed as I know for that first part - it really sodding hurts. Whats also been tough is that the littles have seen me wincing in pain sometimes & are probably wondering why on earth I am doing what i'm doing, with Phoenix looking quite concerned and questioning me if baby is 'biting mummys boobie?'. Once baby is on though these past few days, they've all been fascinated how she gets her milk, and I find it quite sad that none of them remember each of our special journeys together. 
That being said, each day I feel like we're getting somewhere even if its at such a slow pace. Little E is feeding very well, I think it is just the case of my body adapting once again and doing this along with recovering from the birth itself which is harder this time around. Once she is latched on and drinking herself into Dozeyland I have been content in admiring her sweet fluffy head, her button nose, the way she snuggles one hand into my chest and the other wrapped around my side, the way she gazes up at me mid-feed with her big blue eyes as if she's telling me how thankful she is for her meal, and not to mention inhaling her delicious newborn scent.

In those moments where i'm petrified about putting her to my boob, I know that this won't last forever. I'm equally knowledgable that problems can arise as the weeks go on too as baby grows, or other elements come into play. For now, i'm going to stay brave, know that she is gaining weight well so we must be doing something right (She was born 8lb 5oz, went up to 8lb 8oz at 5 days old and at 10 days old she was 9lb 2oz!) All of them have gained so well despite me feeling like giving up in pain! So well done to us, well done boobs and here's to taking one feed at a time and doing it our way. I'm really sad that this is 95% the last time i'm going to be breastfeeding a newborn of ours, So I want to embrace it all, knowing that we are overcoming tough times with some feeds and relishing in the lovely moments mentioned above. This is a journey that some are unable to take off on and I will be forever grateful that I've managed to feed, nurture and offer this act of love to our four babies as time is whizzing by and I don't want to forget any of it. 

Here are some of the things that have helped me in the early weeks of breastfeeding (four times over!)

Comfortable nursing bras and non-restrictive clothing. 
I've been using my lovely nursing bras from Bravado, H&M and Mothercare 'Blooming Marvellous' sleeping crop tops. Wearing clothing that doesn't make it even more difficult to feed will help so much, I've mastered the whole layering thing now so that I can feed without having my tummy on show, or just making sure i have buttons or something easy to unfasten. Trying to remain just a little bit stylish along the way of course! (try being the predominant word!)

Learning as you go through reading: 
This topic can sometimes be a hinderance if you get the wrong book that dictates how & when you should feed your baby thatjust offers unsupportive and judgemental advice. I have made this mistake buying the gina ford books in the past as they were recommend, thank goodness I saw sense within a short time, and got hold of some wonderful books along the way. Here's my list of favourite breastfeeding books that I will definitely revert back to during this fourth time breastfeeding.

Soothe and try to comfort with cream:
Lanolin cream is an absolute must for sore, cracked and even cut nipples. This goes hand in hand with nice quality breast pads. For both of these, i'm currently using a mixture of Medela & Lasinoh. These are both my 'go-to' for this problem area. They aid comfort in the simplest form and helps wonders when you feel like your boobs are about to fall off! ;)

Listening to your baby and your own instinct - 
I can't stress this factor enough, don't listen to others who want to tell you how to feed, how often, tells you that your baby isn't getting enough, cover up etc - its your journey - do it your way which suits you and your baby.

Don't feel alone:
If you're feeling like its all getting a bit much, that it's not going to plan - please don't feel alone. Reach out to others with experiences on their side, take a trip to your local Baby cafe, talk to a supportive friend or family member and remember that there is plenty of support should you need it.

I'm thrilled to be working with Medela throughout this year and I'm looking forward to talking more about my fourth breastfeeding journey while sharing any tips I have or to just support others as well as sharing our experience. Here is a previous post talking about some of my hopes and fears that I had fourth time around. 


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Our siblings in April 2016

So this month i'm a little late on posting. This was because I completely refused to write until our fourth bundle had arrived after saying our March siblings post would be the last of the three of them! As it turns out, Our littlest lady fancied arriving on the day that I usually post my siblings post! So it seems only fitting that I give a little update on our little tribe, the four of them and how the three of them have been since she's joined us. 

It's been such a overwhelming week, but with lots of love filled moments in between. The girls are completely smitten with baby and so is Phoenix. we were in shock when we knew she was a girl as Halle was the only one who thought so! Phoenix is amazed at her, says "Mummy, I hold it please?' Or when watching me nurse her he will say "Mummy, baby boobie milk... bite it?'. very observant and interested in her being. At other times he just potters around like nothing has changed really! The girls love to hug her, talk to her, stroke her sweet face and ask her why she can't talk yet. They were all fascinated by her cord stump and giggle so much when she lets rip or does what sounds like a gigantic poop when she's on their lap!

So with anything when you have four little ones aged five & under, it can be hectic. Moments that feel like we've not had time to sit and enjoy, or process this change have been visible, but taking each day at a time we're coming to know that it's all change in a good way despite having tough moments where age barriers, development and just all of our emotions come into play.

I'm trying to not get choked up that this may be our last baby (more than likely).

The last time we will welcome home a new person.

What I will never forget is how welcoming our littles have been each time, affectionate, eyes full of wonder and endless amounts of love. 

I'm going to embrace each moment for the next few weeks of this newborn stage in all its glory, the good, the hard, and the in between. as I know when these little moments have gone, they wont be back but we'll only be moving on to the next chapter of their sibling relationships. and that is something I am extrememly lucky to have witness and will continue to watch as they grow. 
And I just wanted to add this one of my two biggest girls in their den. They really are such a strong unit :)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

24 hours

Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, adorable long lashes and one button nose. Watching in amazement at how we've been blessed with another little daughter is something I am incredibly proud and thankful for. As I sit here, she is just sprawled out fast asleep, so content in her surroundings. After a wonderful and first time water birth she is just absolutely chilled. The others were too but I think there was definitely something special about being born in the water. (more on this soon!) Sat in hospital feeling very sore, experiencing the worst afterpains by far, surviving on sheer adrenaline and about 2 hours sleep in 48 hours, trying to be sensible and catch 'cat naps' while she is in a milky snoozed state but keep waking up with my jaw and teeth grinding, cold sweats and hoping that the pain of breastfeeding once again gets better. 

Emotional and overwhelmed.
Its a funny thing when you've given birth, you're high on adrenaline and your feet kind of feel like they don't touch the floor for a while don't they? I've felt this each time, but this time its even more poignant as it potentially is the last time I will be experiencing all of this. I'm still finding it hard to come to terms that this is our last baby but all round its the best thing, and we are more than thankful for our four amazing babies we have in our lives. I guess its just because even though with anything in life there are hardships, but parenting has taught us so much about ourselves in the past 5 and a half years that we've had four babies. I still can't believe that we're here, our little tribe. 

I will be posting my birth story along with lots of other posts I have drafted or planned. Time is busy at the moment and i'm trying my very best to soak it all in and remember that time is of the essence when coming 'back down to earth' to the reality of all this, this crazy and wonderful whirlwind of a newborn. 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Our simple Easter break at home.

So the Easter half term was kind to us in many ways, we've shared lots of lovely time relaxing at home for the most part. Where I am in the late stages of my pregnancy (currently 5 days overdue!) its left me feeling extrememly tired, and just overall achy from the sheer weight of my bump now.

I've been looking at some social media feeds and feeling a little disappointed some days as we are normally the type of family who usually do the spontaneous trips to the seaside at last minute, day trips, time at the park running wild, exploring nature reserves and even having a holiday pre-booked. This break though, what with the random timing of the pregnancy, and the fact that Mr T is self employed with no paid leave, its left us with not many options other than to make do with what we have.

In actual fact, I think its been exactly what we all needed, able to spend lots of time together, with no school run, no time limits, all the time in the world to play with their toys without being rushed out the door, interact with one another and create some wonderful games in the garden. We did end up having Daddy home for the long weekend and a couple of additional mornings, but where the baby is so close now we decided it was safer to stay home most of the time. This also enabled the littles to enjoy time with him, and to help out in the garden, doing odd jobs around the house - which they love to do and to have someone with so much more energy than Mummy right now! We did venture out to a messy play party which they all loved, including face paints, party food, bouncy castle and crafts - luckily only a five minute journey from home!
They thoroughly enjoyed this moment, including getting absolutely soaked from head to toe! The giggles were infectious!
Plenty of crafting went on.
Also plenty of pancake scoffing too ;)

That weekend we spent a lot of time in the garden, doing bits of DIY, baking, painting the baby bump and even doing our very first (& last) pregnancy belly cast - the girls found this hilarious! I found it amazing to see the size of my tummy once it was done, huge!
The little things that I found lovely was being able to share a family breakfast at the table with Daddy there too, chattering, catching up with the girls and their never ending stories and Phoenix's new found vocabulary. The girls also helped Daddy wash the car - completely hilarious as they found the whole thing 'the best thing to do ever'! Yve's & I started a new tradition of creating our very own Easter tree, and we did the shortest egg hunt ever due to the hail stones that followed us into the garden within minutes!
Our new little tradition.
Muddy face, climbing on bikes too big, and such a fast & agile dude this one.
Part human gymnast, part monkey. This girl loves to climb.
Little Hal is getting braver each time. They love to un-hook the swing, set up a show.
The favourite thing by far was spending time in the garden as you can see from the photos, they love to be outside as I've wrote about before. Getting brave on the climbing frame, building dens, playing diggers in the mud & stones, making perfumes out of water & leaves and the scooter races down the hill. My favourite thing to watch is each of them having a go on the 'Go faster' toy which sends them speeding down the path with the funniest look on their faces.
Very angelic looking, admiring the daffodils - if only he hadn't loved on them so much that he pulled the lot of them off and the entire plant roots, cheeky monkey. Exploring in its finest hour ;)
Can't believe my little Hal is four at the end of next month.
We thought we were going to be spending the second week of the half term welcoming our new bundle of joy but things didn't exactly go to that plan! And really, as much as we would have loved to have gone on some trips, we have time for that once baby arrives. For the past two weeks though, especially the second, we've soaked up as much time together as possible, cherishing extra long morning snuggles in bed, getting the chance to really just be. Of course there have been moments of madness where theres been a scrap over who's going on what scooter, or who had the lego first but that is parenthood, this is all part of our memories of our lovely two week break at home.

 Yve's said to me yesterday "Mummy, it's only four more days until the weekend when we can spend time together again!" - we are going to miss her so much as she goes full time, Hal is back in on Thursday so it'll be just little chap & I.... unless baby wants to make his/ or her appearance!

Not to wish life away but only another six weeks until the next half term of fun ay? and by that time they'll be four little ones for definite!! ;)


Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Almost there! Week 39 and a little catch up.

So here we are half way through my 39th week of growing this wonderful baby in my tummy.

The past few weeks have really been tough health wise, it's been quite relentless with very worrying anaemia leaving me weak and breathless, a fever and chesty cold, and more recently a tooth abscess which I'm on antibiotics for. I'm never unwell usually (touch wood) and even though in my previous pregnancies I have suffered with anaemia, it's never been this bad for this long plus with the other factors bundled in. I feel like I've been such a moany sod at times, but it has been hard, especially when all I want is to be happy and healthy for the kids too. We've done well though, enjoying time at home for the most part as its where I feel most at ease at the moment. 
This photo was from 38 weeks and a few days. 

So with the anaemia not progressing quick enough, almost two weeks ago I had my very first iron infusion which went okay, I had a bit of a wobble five minutes before when the midwife told me what it involved (a plastic tube, needle in my hand and that my hand "might splatter a bit"!) which kind of threw me a bit, but with my hand being held by another midwife (wimp I know!) it was done shortly after. I was sat watching baby bump wriggle about like mad while having a cup of tea waiting for it to be over. Once I got home that evening, I felt completely wiped out and just had an early night, very weird experience and I just needed sleep. Walking around the maternity wards just brought it all back to me, being right next to the doors that I entered when in labour the last three times, I felt very sentimental but equally thinking 'wow, I'm going to be here again soon, and going home with our newest baby reading to join the family'. 

I found out at my midwife appointment yesterday if my iron levels had increased after being a human pin cushion on Thursday having had yet another lot of bloods taken but the poor nurse must've been new as she was shaking like a leaf when doing it and left me bruised like a peach! Thankfully my levels have gone higher even if only slightly, but this means i can't be refused for the midwifery-led unit, yay! So all being well, I will deliver there, maybe even get the chance to use the pool!

Baby's movements have changed slightly, slower but are extremely strong which sets it into very strong tightenings frequently. With three experiences of this though I've learned that this is just the way my body prepares and as much as its uncomfortable when trying to move (hello rock solid bump stuck on my front) it also makes me feel at ease that my body is doing its job. It's probably why I deliver within an hour or so start to finish. Again this has been a blessing but also a shock to the system when it is such a fast process. 

So with regards to labour, I'm feeling okay about it really (aside from just wanting to feel healthy prior to it). I just keep having days when I think 'but what if it comes now?' Kids at home, mr is working an hour away, or if I am out at the shop? It's a bizarre feeling as it literally could happen anytime, any place. My three babies were all born spontaneously on a Wednesday night, which were all very convenient for us so I'm hoping for the same but we all know labour can be very unpredictable!

 I'm just hoping, keeping a realistic mind, and just thinking that 'what will be, will be'. 

I cant help but think how my recovery will be this time all being well of course. After Phoenix's birth, even though it was probably the easiest I did feel it took me longer to recuperate, more so physically. Obviously time is short when you already have children but with the physicality's I felt like it took me forever for my tummy to feel okay, after-pains third time around are definitely a complete shitter, my diastasis recti will need surgery within a year or so, hoping breastfeeding will go well, and getting back into the school-run in full force will be some of the things that we'll face, but we'll have each other!

We did some family bonding in a different kind of scenario recently, by doing a pregnancy bump cast - what a laugh that was! the girls were amazed at how big Mummy's tummy was, and when looking at the cast, then the amount of room in it - its crazy!

So there we have it, on Thursday I am officially 40 weeks, baby is back to back still at the moment but i'm trying to be relaxed about this as Halle was unknown back to back and only a 57minute labour from start to finish, Phoenix was back to back but turned in labour and was an hour ish so i'm keeping hopeful! We're itching to meet our little bundle now and as much as this is a bittersweet ending to this chapter or baby growing, I am feeling ever so sentimental and grateful for all that my body has enabled me to do, and the fact we're so lucky to get to raise our amazing children. 

Here's a round up of my baby bump photos.

Whats your guess, boy or girl? (The way i'm carrying has no answers as I've carried all four the same!)
I've been making a little time lapse throughout this pregnancy so it will be lovely to watch back in the future.

I wonder if i'll go overdue again like the other three.... This baby seems to be trying to crawl its way out this week so who knows! ah, wish me luck ;) 

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