Edie_Rainbow_Baby

PREGNANCY & ME // MY POSITIVE BIRTH STORY

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  • STM
  • Edith (Edie) Lavender Aurora Hill
  • 🌈 Bébé
  • 02/08/2019 at 00:18
  • 40 weeks + 6 days
  • 7 lb 1.5oz
  • Spontaneous labour
  • No pain relief
  • No intervention
  • Gave birth in Triage
  • Stepping Hill Hospital, Manchester, UK

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I feel so bloody chuffed to be finally writing a POSITIVE birth story. Despite beginning our Hypnobirthing journey at 25 weeks pregnant, I think its fair to say that I doubted how this labour would pan out. I had a traumatic birth with Eli that lasted 30+ hours due to induction at 42 weeks. I won’t go into the story of Eli’s birth, because I have made ‘peace’ with it now and its not healthy to continue to dwell on it (hiya Mum-Guilt, great to see you again).

So I’ll push the previous history to one side and start from the beginning with Edie’s birth now.


I had initially set out to avoid ALL intervention with this pregnancy, including any sweeps.  I’d had 4 failed sweeps with Eli and felt it was a pretty pointless procedure, in my opinion. I voiced this in my birth preferences and talked through interventions with my community midwife team. Instead, from around 35 weeks I started drinking in my all of the Raspberry Leaf Tea, I started eating 6 dates a day and then when we hit 37 weeks, I started taking a bath on an evening infused with Clary Sage essential oil, I started eating fresh pineapple (including the core, ‘cos Bromelain), I added Clary Sage to the oil diffuser with lavender, we added Clary Sage to Cowshed body oil and massaged it into my bump and ankles (!!), I used my Medela Swing for 5-10 minutes on each breast in an attempt to stimulate oxytocin and continued to go to bed and meditate using my Positive Birth Company MP3′s.

But at my 40 week appointment, I was HOT and beginning to feel a bit fed up. When asked if I still wanted to decline any intervention….I said “sod it” and agreed to a one-time sweep. Just to see…

I was advised if anything was to ‘happen’ it would do so within 48 hours. Obviously, all of the above are old wives tales – Hypnobirthing science aside, of course! Nothing is going to push your body into giving birth. Your baby will come, when your baby is ready.

At 1pm, 48 hours (practically!) to the minute, I started to have what I thought were Braxton Hicks. Eli and I hauled ourselves into my bedroom and I whacked Friends on whilst he played on Minecraft. We had lunch and I kept an eye on the frequency of the surges (contractions). They seemed regular. I opened up the Freya App on my phone and began timing the surges – they were lasting 30 seconds or so and were 6 minutes apart. I convinced myself this wasn’t labour and decided it would be a good idea to tidy the entire house, hoover, clean my bedroom window and then sew up a pair of James’ trousers that I’d been putting off.

Now it was about 4pm and the surges had continued to stay regular throughout all my weird nesting chores. I texted James and asked him to keep an eye on the trains (we’d had dreadful local flooding the day before) but assured him that I was fine and it ‘probably’ wasn’t even real surges. By 5:30, the surges were more frequent and lasting 40-60 seconds. I texted James and asked him to leave work because the surges were lasting longer and had become more powerful (painful). I was really feeling the effects of ‘Up Breathing’ at this point – I couldn’t get through a surge without it.

James got home just after 6:30pm and made me beans on french toast, incase I was in labour. Then he fannied about making tea for himself and Eli. Meanwhile, the Freya App told me I was in established labour…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 7pm, the surges were less than 3 minutes apart and I was reallllllly feeling it. I had two paracetamol (LOL) and made James get a rush on with eating his tea and sorting Eli out. Of course James was ridiculously laid back about all of this! By 7:30pm I got in the bath and I asked James to ring Maternity Triage to ask for advice. We both spoke to the Midwives on Triage – they were so lovely and advised I should go in to be assessed.

I said my goodbye’s to Eli – and he kissed the bump for the last time. He told me he was proud of me and that I MUST remember to keep breathing! (I did). He grabbed his suitcase, iPad and monkey and off he went on his own adventure next door!

 

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At 8pm, we were in the car making the 10 minute journey to Stepping Hill Hospital. I had the soothing tone of Siobhan Miller in my headphones and whacked on a eye-mask so I could concentrate – I’d also added Clary Sage and Lavender to one of Eli’s old muslin’s to breathe in. I’d convinced myself I must have been about 5-6cm, especially as the surges were so close together now.

We made it to Triage just after 8:15pm and were immediately seen. I really struggled with the examination due to the frequency and power of my surges. It took my Midwife, Deb, a little while to get me on the bed to be assessed. Eventually she managed and announced that I was JUST 1cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. If this was barely the beginning, I had absolutely NO IDEA how I could cope with the rest of labour. I had to knock that doubt straight out of my head and by 9pm, we were on our way back home.

James put candles around the bedroom, closed the curtains then on the oil diffuser went. I kept the Positive Affirmations MP3 going via my headphones, rocked back and forth on my birth ball and we continued to time the surges. By 10pm James noticed that my breathing had changed and kept putting me back on track. Sadly, I couldn’t deal with him massaging my back or doing the light touch we’d planned on – I was completely in the zone, kept my eyes closed, and was doing exactly what my body told me to do.

By 11pm, I couldn’t cope with the sheer power of the surges and there was little to no break between them now. I had to switch off the MP3 at this point because some of the affirmations weren’t totally relevant. Instead, I used my visualisations (of St. Ives beach! and also of the placement of my favourite positive affirmation cards around the house) and I kept repeating my favourite affirmations to  myself: ‘my surges cannot be more powerful than me, because they are me‘ and ‘every surge brings me closer to my baby‘. I got James to ring Triage again, they advised that being in our home environment for as long as possible would be better than going back to the hospital again – especially as it had only been 2 hours since we left (and my waters were still in tact).

Reluctantly, I continued to labour at home – we knew I was in real labour so I turned off my phone and the Freya App which had proven to be so invaluable during and up till this point. By 11:30 I  found I had too much discomfort in my coccyx and it felt like my bladder was overly full – but I couldn’t pass urine (I couldn’t get off the ball to get to the toilet to be truthful!). I’m not gonna lie here, I was in total agony. My breathing had changed once again and I was actively ‘Down Breathing’, James kept trying to bring it back to Up Breathing, but there was no chance. I was screaming out as I reached the peak of each surge now too. It was an animalistic release – which brought me a real relief too.

I was thinking I needed an immediate Epidural – or even better -to be knocked out for a C-Section. I felt like I couldn’t go any longer*. There was no way any other drug would help me now. I needed my baby to come out and we HAD to get to the hospital. Then POW my waters broke. It was a massive gush of warmth down my legs, which I ignored and continued to breathe and bounce. Thankfully, my waters were clear. PHEW.

*I now understand that what I was feeling here was TRANSITION.

Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labour, following early and active labour. At this point, a woman progresses from seven to 10 centimetres, often in less than an hour. The word transition means that her body is making the shift from opening the cervix to the beginning of the baby’s descent.

 

As I’d been induced with Eli and the midwives failed to break my waters on no less than 3 occasions, I had no experience of what it felt like to have your waters break naturally. It was absolutely crackers – it was a big pop towards my public bone and I knew then, that she was coming. James rang Triage and told them we were en route again and my waters had now gone.

It took me about 6 minutes to get from our bedroom to the car on the drive. How I managed to get down the stairs I will never know.

Outside was so eery. It was midnight and there was a low cloud – you could barely see in front of you – it was completely silent. James drove SO carefully to the hospital – I screamed at him “this is one time you’re allowed to rag the car about!”. It was quite honestly like a film.

But he kept his cool. He has since admitted he didn’t think I was much further along than the 1cm, so he was relatively laid back.I do have a reputation for over-dramatising situations – so this isn’t his fault.

We got to the hospital and he parked up. I couldn’t get out of the car. I was screaming through my surges and my body started pushing down. I had no control over the pushing. It’s what my body wanted to do. Once through the hospital entrance, James grabbed a wheelchair. I jumped onto it, on my knees and he dragged me to the lift. There was another woman behind us, who was apparently also pushing. She waited for the next lift.

James tried to get me through the double doors once at Triage, but he was struggling, so I jumped off the wheelchair and ran into a room, stripped all of my clothes off and got on the bed, on all fours. I announced I was Hypnobirthing and pushing.

Deb, my midwife, who I’d seen only 3 hours earlier, was attempting to calm me down so she could assess if I was indeed dilated enough to be pushing. She said she could see the baby’s head and that she was going to coach me through the pushing. Sarah, the second midwife on Triage came in and let us know that the lady behind us was also pushing and she had alerted the Delivery Suite about the two of us. But it was too late for me – I was going to give birth in Triage!

I pushed Edie’s head out in 3 pushes – 2 pushes later she was completely out – shocked, but blinking. She’d been born in the wrong department, 10 minutes after arriving. I scooped her up between my legs and rubbed at her little body. She wasn’t breathing – Deb cut the cord and grabbed a towel to try and rouse Edie. After a minute or so, Edie was taken away to Resuscitation.

 

As we’d not been able to have delayed cord clamping because Edie had rushed into the world, I used my B.R.A.I.N and agreed to having Active Management of the placenta. Deb administered the injection of Syntocinon and began massaging my tummy. A few minutes of surges and pushing later my placenta was delivered. While the placenta was in tact, Deb noticed that out came a gush of meconium with it. This indicated that Edie had passed her first bowel movement with the stress of coming out so quickly.

We were all shell-shocked.

Completely shell-shocked.

It felt like a lifetime before Edie was brought back to us.

 

When she was finally placed in my arms, I relaxed down. I felt the biggest rush of love, EVER. I’d done it. I’d given birth to our daughter, using Hypnobirthing tools and without any pain relief whatsoever. I’d gone from 1cm dilated to giving birth in the space of 3 hours.

I couldn’t believe it.

I still can’t believe it – almost a fortnight on. It still feels like a totally surreal, but serene, experience. Kind of out of body. I can remember every single detail. Which is something I am missing from Eli’s birth, due to the amount of drugs that were administered.

A run-down of my labour – total time is cited as 1 hour, 40 minutes!

Deb finished cleaning me up and then we were taken to the Delivery Suite (ironically). Once there, Edie was taken to the warming cot by my new Midwife Eileen, who took bloods and called a Paediatrician down. There had been issues with the PH gasses of the placenta, meaning Edie needed some extra monitoring. Eileen was an Irish midwife who was just the biggest and brightest soul. She was old school and simply magical.

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There was a struggle with getting the right amount of blood from Edie so more specialists were called. Remembering my Hypnobirthing kept me as calm as I could possibly be. James didn’t leave her side – he held onto her tiny hand while Eileen repeatedly checked my stat’s and then called for a Doctor to repair the 2nd degree tear I’d received. After a fairly shocking Episiotomy (that landed me with blood poisoning and a week back in hospital following Eli’s birth), a specialist was required for the repair job. I finally got my hands on Gas & Air. I did as I was asked and took 10 deep and quick breaths on the gas, I shouted that it didn’t work in that oh so familiar low-tone and then felt that floating feeling. My Doctor, Sarah, started stitching, I could feel it, so I got my breathing in order using Up Breathing and sailed high and free. Bliss.

I didn’t want to hand the gas back, but Eileen made me. She then brought that Tea and Toast… so all was forgiven!

 

 

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If you know, you know!

 

This experience was so far-removed from my previous labour and recovery. For one, James was addressed at every single opportunity. Which made such a difference.

Eileen ever so sweetly grabbed my toiletry bag from my case and started unpacking the shampoo and conditioner so I could have a shower with everything I needed. It’s such an intense relationship that you form with a Midwife, in such a short time. I felt so overwhelmed with love and support from Eileen – I could actually cry right now, remembering how she cared for me.

We weren’t rushed at all; given all the time we needed, but by 5am, it was time to head to the postnatal ward, MAT2. I went into a wheelchair, pulled by Eileen, holding tightly onto Edie who was now bundled in blankets and her very first baby grow. A red knitted hat was given – this was intentional – we later found out that different coloured hats meant different things. For us, the red hat was a signifier for staff that Edie had needed special care (as well as keeping her little head warm!). We said our goodbye’s to Eileen and settled into the cubicle on the ward. James was even allowed to stay – again, this meant the world to us as he’d been sent straight home following the birth of Eli.

6am and James was snoring in the corner, I watched the sunrise through the gap in the curtains and felt the most intense love for this little human in my arms.

At 6:30am I was introduced to Emma, the Midwife on duty – she took mine and Edie’s stat’s and I was given Paracetamol for the after-pains you experience post-birth. We were also shown to the family kitchen, which was stocked to the brim with breakfast foods and an array of tea’s and coffee – of which James was allowed to access too. I was soon given a menu to choose my main meals for the rest of the day. We were then left to chill for 3 hours until our stat’s were repeated again. I tried to sleep, but it was warm and loud as new patients were added to the ward – along with people having their own stat’s read. I couldn’t stop staring at my new sweet baby girl anyway, so nothing was going to interrupt or impact on that!

By 9am, James wanted  to grab Eli from our amazing neighbours next door and freshen up. At 11am he returned and our glorious children met for the very first time.

 

To say I was emotional at our little family all meeting for the first time, would be a total understatement. I cried the happiest tears I imagine I’ll ever cry. I am so proud and so happy and so full of love, I’m not sure how I haven’t burst yet!

As Edie had needed special care, she was closely monitored by specialists – they found that her temperature was going up and down (only very slightly), but enough to warrant an extra night in hospital.

This was completely fine by me. It was a welcome stay. I wasn’t rushed out – in fact, the nurses told me we could stay as long as we wanted to! This really helped with my anxiety and stress. I felt like we had real personal care here – by professionals who were passionate about our wellbeing. We weren’t just another ‘number’ – which is how we felt at the hospital where we had Eli. (I am trying not to dwell on that past experience!)

Unfortunately, our first night, just us two, was not so successful. Edie screamed the ward down from 11pm until around 6am. I think she was over-tired and nothing I could do would overcome that. Two midwives came to the rescue and she eventually calmed down. I tried my best not to get stressed over it, but when you’re on a ward, its difficult to not worry about everyone else! I ended up walking up and down the hospital corridors for a few hours. As soon as I fell asleep, James and Eli arrived for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a full day of monitoring to get through before we were allowed to go home. Edie’s temperature eventually stabilised and all my stat’s were good. We then had a the Newborn hearing test and as Edie had received special care, a Paediatrician had to sign her Newborn Check off before we were discharged.

Everything was signed off and we were given the A-OK to head home in the evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got home and all our neighbours came out to greet us. We had fish and chips and we all slept mega soundly. It was just the perfect start to our new family life.

In complete honesty, I would not have had the same pregnancy OR indeed  birth experience without The Positive Birth Company. I may not have had any of the TEN birth scenario’s that I wrote preferences for, or planned for (didn’t get to use the LED tea lights, playlist, oils or massage, birth pool or delayed cord clamping) but this was still such an incredibly positive birth.  An amazing labour and birth and so far, postpartum period.

From the Digital Course to reading the daily positive birth stories, I would not have been able to do it without the PBC and the Freya App. I felt so prepared and at ease this time around. I was genuinely excited for Edie’s birth and I’ve probably never felt more ‘zen’ in my entire life – which is quite the statement, coming from me. I feel a peace with both my birth experiences and the Hypnobirthing tools I learned will live with me forever!  I’ve even used several affirmations and the breathing techniques since having Edie.

I have never, felt so empowered and strong and brave in my entire life – and I doubt I ever will feel like this ever again.

So thank you Siobhan and the PBC for allowing me to have confidence in myself and my own decisions. I cannot recommend The Positive Birth Company enough. From our little family of four to you Siobhan, THANK YOU!

C
✖️✖️✖️

 

EDIE LAVENDER AURORA HILL
02/08/2019 at 00:18
7lb 1.5oz

 

 


For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad.

I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!

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LONDON FASHION WEEK // TOPSHOP SS18

Journalist Harriet Verney has her place in the fashion industry firmly fixed. This London Fashion Week,  TOPSHOP have enlisted her to bring you insider insight from the backstage area and beyond. Follow @TOPSHOP on Instagram to get your access-all-areas pass.

From the neon lights of Soho to the headlights beaming through the venue and the flashing cameras of on-site photographers – fashion week is always defined by all kinds of bright lights. This season, TOPSHOP are taking it one step further, so have your shades at the ready…

Ever since their very first  London Fashion Week show in 2005, TOPSHOP has casted the coolest girls in fashion. Back then it was Erin Wasson and Sasha Pivovarova, and other runway alumni throughout the years include Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, Taylor Hill, Bella Hadid and most recently Adwoa Aboah. Who will it be this year?

So you gotta get ready for the new TOPSHOP London Fashion Week collection. Tune in at 4.15pm on Sunday 17th September to watch the show live and shop selected pieces straight after the runway.

The brand new TOPSHOP London Fashion Week collection is their most accessible and wearable runway edit to date.  Can’t wait to see the new collection – and its brilliant that you can add a touch of the show to your everyday wardrobe, straight away! Prices start from just £39.

C
✖️✖️✖️

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BACK | TO | BLIGHTY.

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The first weekend back in England and we had a forage in our new back garden, where we found the most marvellous rhubarb! 

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…and just like that, we’re back in Blighty.

For me, our secondment to Berlin feels like such a whirlwind. A total blur. We were there 9 months, and for the most part, I loved it. Loved being at work, loved the people, the culture, the places to see and the things to do. Berlin was incredible for kids. Which I had never anticipated! Even restaurants will go out of their way for children. It’s a highly child-friendly City.

But the truth is, England is home. And in Essex, we’ve found a county that I’m not sure I could ever move away from again.

Also, just wanted to shout out to some new friends. I felt majorly disconnected and really quite lonely when we were living out in Berlin. Whilst this may, or may not, come as a surprise, I found the Insta-Community to be ERRRRRRRRYTHING. I can’t tell you how much the chatter and support helped me. Even if I wasn’t mustering the energies to join in – just keeping abreast of how everyone else was getting on, also helped. Never underestimate the power of a Digital-shoulder, and how it can impact on others! I look forward to meeting you all IRL soon.

It feels good to be back.

I have started writing a Things I Missed list, in true Mother Of All Lists (aka and/or Clemmie @Peckham_Mamma) style! Might be helpful for prospective/current Ex-Pat’s living in all different corners of this lovely globe of ours.

So here is to being back in Blighty. I’ve missed you, you gorgeous thing.

MM.

 

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Brand In Focus | Southwood Stores.

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Southwood Stores is an online concept store by Hayley Southwood, where you will find handpicked, quirky, Scandinavian influenced gifts and homewares. Hayley believes passionately about empowering women and has recently launched her own in-house label GRAY, celebrating strong women.

I first came across Hayley and her online shop back in 2013. (I can’t believe it was 3 years ago?! Time sure does fly with a toddler in tow!) At that time, Hayley was the only UK stockist of Hello Apparel; and I went straight ahead and ordered a HELLO Jumper from her, along with one of our most loved prints that sat in Eli’s bedroom, The Mountain Print by Clare Nicholson. I always loved parcels from Hayley, with the attention to detail of packaging and customer care; with some treats even winging their way over to Berlin!

Watching Hayley, via Instagram, over the past few years has been wonderful. Seeing how her little shop has grown and expanded with wicked new products and new brands, through to the launch of her very own clothing label: GRAY By Southwood Stores.  The ethos of Hayley and her shop is to be brave and follow your dreams. And she’s definitely succeeding there – having now opened her very own Southwood Stores showroom – where you can not only have a cuppa with the lady herself, but from here she also offers Social Media / Branding services with sessions operating on-site.

Details of showroom opening times are as follows:

Monday 10am-2.30pm
Wednesday 10am-2.30pm
Friday 10am-2.30pm
First Saturday of the month 11am-2pm

I could buy everything that Southwood Stores have in stock, but here are some of my current favourites hitting the top of my #MoMWishlist:

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WIRE MESH MEMO-BOARD (BLUE) – £55.00

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VINTAGE SCHOOL CHAIRS – £60.00

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PALM LEAVES – £55.00

Back to GRAY By Southwood Stores. Hayley worked really hard to find the right garments for her label – high quality and responsibly made. The slogan graphic prints are also locally screen-printed by a “woman owned business”. I think it’s fantastic that Hayley has stuck to her local roots here too – there’s nothing better than championing your local business community and spreading the love even further afield.

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The sweatshirts are super soft, wash well and have a really flattering fit. I went for the WARRIOR sweatshirt. Because, well, we’re all WARRIORS. “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about”. This is something that resonated deeply with me – and I do feel like a proper WARRIOR when I’m wearing my sweatshirt. It’s more than just words, isn’t it? It’s about how these things make you FEEL.

On top of alllllll this, Hayley is also hosting a series of Conversational Meet-Up’s, of like-minded Women. The recent one looked brilliant so look forward to the next Event’s being scheduled. You can find the latest details and tickets, here. 

Hayley is a true inspiration and I look forward to seeing how Southwood Stores continues to grow and evolve! (Oh, and I can’t wait to have a cuppa with her in person at the new showroom soon!). Keep doing what you’re doing Hayley, everything about your being is amazing. Just remember to BREATHE (and get the kettle on!).

 

MM.

*NB: This is in no way a sponsored post. I just wanted to big up a Mama who I think is frikkin amazing*. 

 

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Love. Want. NEED: Bella Freud | The 1970 Jumper.

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London jewellery designer, Sheherazade Goldsmith, wearing Bella Freud at home: Credit The Telegraph.


I first saw this jumper around 2 years ago. It was being adorned by the likes of Kate and Alexa; and like my favourite fashion-people I’d also lusted after the monochrome version of the now infamous 1970 slogan jumper. Much to my family and mates’ disgust confusion dislike, we’re big fans of the 1970’s. Fans of the fashion, music and most predominantly, the design and (Mid Century) interiors of the era. So this jumper struck more than *just* sartorial chord with me. But then I saw a Telegraph article on (aptly named) jewellery designer Sheherazade Goldsmith, and she was wearing a red version of my favourite woollen piece. Be still my beating heart…

So from then, I lusted for the red colourway. The super-soft Merino Wool. The cut and design. The design itself takes its signature motif from a book clipping that Freud used to wear pinned onto a plain jumper.

I do have splashes of colour in my mostly-black wardrobe and I would tend to go for red or green, unless its a vintage or leopard print (or red or green variations of leopard print!) of course.

So the red 1970 Jumper by the lovely Bella Freud is firmly on my NEED list. More or less at the top.

If you so desire, you can own this seemingly cult classic by clicking the link here: Bella Freud at Selfridges.com

Which colourway would you go for?

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#MoMWishList

MM.

 

About Bella Freud:

Freud was born in London, England. She is the daughter of Bernardine Coverley and artist Lucian Freud and great granddaughter of the inventor of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud.

She is renowned for her signature jumpers Je t’aime Jane, Ginsberg is God and 1970. Fans of Bella Freud include Alexa Chung, Laura Bailey, Kate Moss and Alison Mosshart.

Bella launched her eponymous label in 1990. Her first collection featured sexy knitted dresses in bookish colours, mini tailored suits and a small selection of shoes and bags. Bella went on to win Most Innovative Designer at the London Fashion Awards in 1991 and produced a Super 8 short film ‘Day at the Races’ as an alternative to a fashion show. Bella’s second film ‘More Clothes’ directed by Kate Garner was shot on 35mm film and showcased the SS 1992 collection.

Seasonal catwalk shows followed, then in 1999 Bella began her fashion film collaboration with John Malkovich, co writing and producing three short films: Strap Hanging, Lady Behave, and Hideous Man. In 2001 Bella also collaborated with rock icon Anita Pallenberg on Memo, a limited edition magazine featuring the AW2000 collection, inspired by the film Performance.

From March 2000 to 2003 Bella consulted for British heritage brand Jaeger, rejuvenating their image and bringing British dressing to a younger audience.

Bella’s love of film continued and in 2013 she art directed the short film Je T’Ecoute, produced by Laura Bailey starring Lara Stone, which screened at White Cube Bermondsey. Bella’s directorial debut ‘Girl Boils Egg’ is a two minute film featuring Punk, commissioned by Nick Knight for SHOWstudio.com.

2013 also saw the development of the RTW collections and expansion into the beauty market. The Bella Freud Eau de Parfum collection was launched in 2014 and has gained a cult following.

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Brand in Focus | Cult of Youth.

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I first came across CULT of YOUTH on Instagram last year…  And it wasn’t long before I could see how utterly incredible Kelly, (founder) really is. She is the ultimate #MumBoss. An amazing Mama, juggling her gorgeous-chops little boy between everything life throws at you and this wicked jewellery business. She’s a total mega babe who is 110% dedicated; with her passion and frank honesty pouring out through her day-to-day postings. (Kelly generally responds to emails and comments with her son on her lap or in the middle of the night – quite likely both scenario’s at the same time (having received just a few 2am emails from her myself!). I literally have no idea how she’s doing it… I’m pretty sure she’s made of magic?!).

Kelly makes all her jewels by hand – the majority made to order – back in England. When Eli was Elvis’ age, I could barely make it to to the shops… (see, told you she was made of magic!) Not only does this mean that each piece is made with her love and care, it also makes her jewels extra special. (Yours  probably has might have even been made with a little added midnight magic too).

I instantly fell in love with the ace of base MOTHER necklace…

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…and then one day this beautifully wrapped (and ever so slightly psychedelic) parcel arrived on my desk in Berlin. My necklace hasn’t left my neck since (well, I will point out – it does come off for showers and bedtime – she’d probably slap my wrists otherwise).

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CULT of YOUTH, may well be famous for the signature #MAMAChain (now available with added skulls, ‘cos you know, us Mum’s do enjoy Rocking and Rolling still), but do check out Kelly’s other products too as they’re proper good – from personalised slogan necklaces to dainty initial pendants in Gold, Silver and Rose Gold. Gift wrap is also available now, making your jewels fit for a magpie’s nest from the get go; whether it’s a surprise for your loved one, or a well earned treat for yourself.

Basically, I’m really very proud to be a Mama / Mother / Mummy / Mammy / Mum / Mam / Mummy Dinosaur. Being a parent is a daily struggle – and we’re all in it together, one way or another. Wearing a statement necklace, made by a Mama, who went through a struggle to present it to you, is so exceptional I can’t even get it into words. It’s admirable and inspiring and everything inbetween. As a real human being, Kelly is one of the most honest Mum’s I’ve come across. Her raw emotion hits every nerve within me. So truthful and so eloquent. From Mother to Mother, the Sisterhood is real.

All the loves Kelly – keep doing what you’re doing pet, you’re bloody amazing!

Shop all CULT of YOUTH products: Click Here

MM.

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CULT of YOUTH was created early Autumn 2011 by head designer, London trained silversmith Kelly Seymour. Forged out of chaos in a Hackney warehouse, the first collection of heavy cross chokers and silk bound animal bones launched at London Fashion Weekend that autumn. Two years at Portobello market followed which led to meeting head accessories buyer at Urban Outfitters with three subsequent seasons in stores including Oxford Circus, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Berlin.

 

*NB: This is in no way a sponsored post. I just wanted to big up a Mama who I think is frikkin amazing*. 

 

 

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BRAND IN FOCUS | Hello Apparel.

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I LOVE finding new Childrenswear brands. Hello Apparel has been on my radar for a little while – I just haven’t gotten round to writing up my Brand In Focus for them!

Hello Merch is an independent company started in 2008 by Sam Means as an outlet for artists to manufacture and sell merchandise online and on tour, without giving up their rights by signing major label-style merch contracts. Hello Apparel is available for Adults as well as kids; although, I think the kids range is much cooler! ;o

Unfortunately, Hello Merch is just available for import at the minute. But the ever so lucky Southwood Stores will be the ONLY UK stockist very, very soon! So keep your eyes peeled! I actually cannot wait!

Here are my favourite pieces, that I’d love to dress Mr Eli in!

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Hello (Kids) Navy Raglan Pullover, $35.00.

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Hello Individual Onesies,$18.00.

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Arrows (Kids) Black Tri-Blend T-Shirt,$22.00.

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Sunglasses (Kids) Raglan Tri-Blend Shirt,$24.00.

 

MM.

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REVIEW: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

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Location: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

Length of stay: Monday-Friday, May 2013.

Lodge: New Executive Lodge, 653 (Cedar).

Number of people: 6 Adults, 2 Children, 2 Infants.

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Back in May we went on our first family holiday to Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest. There was a total of 10 of us going so stayed in one of the New Executive Lodge’s, 653 in Cedar to be precise. We were overwhelmed by just how cool the lodge was when we pulled up outside it! My OH’s family have been visiting several Center Parc’s locations since OH was VERY young. But they all confirmed that this was “the very best lodge we’ve ever stayed in!” as soon as we were through the door.

Once inside the door there is space for coats and shoes; plus space for 2 (large) prams to fit in nicely. There was also a huge broom cupboard to house all our suitcases and umbrellas, plus additional bedding, hoover, dustpan and brush, iron, ironing board etc.  There was a dining table to seat 8 plus we had 2 high chairs brought to the lodge in advance. The highchairs were the same as the ones we found right across Center Parcs in the restaurants and places. This meant we didn’t have to figure out how to use a new highchair every time we went somewhere new, but it also meant that Eli knew it was dinner time as he recognised the highchair. This really helped with consistency. The highchairs are all easy clean, but the tray cannot be removed, or even moved closer to your little one. So there was quite a lot of space between Eli and his tray. He managed ok though. We had maid service who replenished bedding and towels and cleaned the lodge daily.

SO! A little look around Lodge 653…

There were 2 double bedrooms and 2 twin bedrooms. We were brought 2 good size cots for the baba’s too. Albeit, we had been told by friends to take our own cot bedding as this is not provided.

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Bedroom’s were very nice sizes, lots of space for a cot. Not a lot of hangers in the wardrobe though! But we made-do. Would have to mention here that the bedding was atrociously LOUD! Never ever tried sleeping in anything like it! The bed was really comfy but the duvet sounded like crisp packets, every time you BREATHED! Huge let down as it looked wonderful! After the first night we ended up taking taking the sheets off the duvet and slept in those instead. Would recommend taking your own sheets/blankets.

Each bedroom has it’s own en-suite, which is absolutely perfect when sharing with so many people! We had an amazing shower in ours. Upstairs, there were also two balconies off the bedrooms, complete with bistro set, overlooking the woodland. The living room was just lovely, huge ‘L’ shaped sofa, that I fell asleep on every night. It was just so comfy! We also had an open fire, which marked my first experience with a real indoor fire! OH led the log-burning ceremony every night. We weren’t blessed with good weather for the duration of our stay (in true British fashion!) so the wood burner was well-used! The kitchen was really spacious, with ton’s of cupboards and two fridges, an oven, hob, microwave and even a dishwasher! You are provided with a tiny amount of washing liquid, so best to take your own too. There was also a really nice breakfast bar, that the kids loved sitting at!

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We had a great patio with dining set and BBQ – we also had regular visits from the local wildlife too! We were lucky enough to have a Lodge with not only it’s own Games Room (PERFECT for the kids and Grandad!) that had a Pool table, huge TV with PS3 and a ton of board games; but we also had our own Sauna! Bliss!

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Eli is such a water baby it’s untrue – he LOVES his swimming. The Sub-Tropical Paradise was amazing. Loads of slides and play areas for children of all ages! We’ve never seen Eli happier than when he was splashing about in the baby pool. He absolutely loved it! OH and I also frequented the Rapids and new water slide. We had a particularly wonderful moment, when we were all in the outdoor pool and it began raining so so ferociously. The water in the outdoor pool was steaming hot and the rain droplets were ice cold. Very memorable and VERY refreshing! This may also have contributed to the Post-CP cold we all had! oops….

I’d also point out that you cannot take a pram or buggy into the swimming area. Eli will only sleep in his pram so this was a huge downside for us, plus our iCandy Strawberry was not cheap! We did however purchase a padlock and locked our pram in the outdoor buggy park. We purchased the padlock for £3 at the Bike Hire shed. I keep the padlock in Eli’s changing bag now, incase we’re ever faced with a similar situation anywhere else. There are ‘cots’ (more like play pens!) for your children but we struggled to get Eli to sleep in one. Could have been that it was so warm and noisy in the Dome too.

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The food was great at every restaurant we visited. The staff at all restaurants really went out of their way to accomodate us, it was an absolute pleasure to eat out! I can really recommend the French Onion soup from Cafe Rouge – I had it twice, it was so good! Equally, their English Breakfast went down a storm as we prepared for the big drive home on our last day. The ribs at Huck’s American Diner were melt in the mouth, just so tasty. I’d also recommend the Indian take away. BEST Indian take away I think we’ve ever had. Very low-cost too!

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Mid-week, OH and I indulged on our first night out since welllllll before Eli arrived. We had a few drinks at the Lodge and then went onto Strada. The manager even brought over a glass of Prosecco as it was almost my birthday! Such a lovely touch. Our table overlooked the Dome, which was just incredible by night with all the trees and tropical plants lit up in the dark. We then went onto Cafe Rouge for a glass of red outside, under a heater. It was so so lovely to catch up with OH and have a proper date night. It was long overdue. We then went for a few cocktails and to the ‘adult disco’. We thoroughly enjoyed dancing to the horrendously cheesy (mostly 90s) music, it was great fun!

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We all had an amazing time at Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest and would go back in a heartbeat. There is a TON of stuff to do, especially if you have a family. There’s also a spa, if you’re in the mood for some R & R. Center Parcs is great if you’re thinking about planning a family break, I seriously cannot recommend it enough!

I have just noted a few things that might come in handy if you’re going to visit a Center Parcs soon…

– Take your own food and drink. The Parc Market is a little bit more expensive than your usual supermarket. You can easily add £1-£2 on the price of what you would pay at home. But, of course, the Parc Market is great if you do forget something – it’s VERY well stocked.

– Take washing up liquid, especially if you’re still washing umpteen bottles like us!

– Take your own cot bedding.

– Likewise, take your own bedding if you don’t want to be disturbed by the crispy sheets provided!

– Be prepared to leave your pram/buggy outside in the Buggy Park. If you have an expensive pram, take a padlock with you so you’re not worrying the entire time about leaving it!

– Would really recommend the Dine In service. The Indian take away was just amazing. SO authentic, so tasty. Very affordable.

– Aside from the take away service, you must book all restaurants and any other activities you’d like to do on your trip. You also need to hand over a £5 deposit, per person, for every single restaurant reservation. This came out quite costly when we booked all our meals all at the same time. The deposit is deducted from your meal however, Bare this in mind if you want to dine out or partake in any activities. At Sherwood Forest, you make your reservations at the desk by the Bowling alley.

– At this particular location, we found that the Family changing cubicles were very few, so had to wait quite a while for one to become available. They were hit-and-miss on size too. We struggled at times with Eli; the changing ‘area’ for babies is made from quite a hard, evasive material, almost like concrete, so not particularly comfortable or easy on the eye. This definitely upset Eli, he didn’t like the cold concrete or the look of it, I don’t think! The entire changing experience wasn’t great, the lockers by the Family changing were miles away from the showers and were also quite far from the pool entrance. The changing area is a MAZE.

MM.

I was not endorsed for this review in any way. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wonderful news: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child.

Wonderful news has emerged this afternoon, that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child. A right Royal Baba! Very exciting. I’m an avid fan of the Royal Family and I think this news is just lovely. Kate and William do look like such a nice couple – massive congratulations to them both!

According to BBC News, Kate is currently is currently “being treated in hospital suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (morning sickness), which requires supplementary hydration and nutrients“.

The royal baby will be born third in line and in direct succession to the throne.

He or she will one day be head of the armed forces, supreme governor of the Church of England and subsequently head of state of 16 countries.

 

MM.

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Our changing bag: The Mulberry Clipper Holdall.

This has been the sight next to our front door, for the past NINE weeks. These are all our hospital bags, ready and waiting! Suitcase is mine, and is filled to the brim with every essential you need for your stay at hospital – you can read what those absolute essentials are, here>>I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed! The amazing Mulberry Clipper Holdall is our changing bag (more on that in a second), the Barbour bag to the bottom left is OH’s essentials (iPad, change of clothing, toiletries) and the Borough Market bag is all our food supplies!

So, Changing Bag… we spent such a long time searching for the “perfect” bag. We wanted something that didn’t look ‘Mummsy’. We didn’t want something that was feminine, OH will be carrying it around too! During our search we found that there was nothing that was completely unisex – apart from the generic black satchel style bags… which to be honest, just didn’t hit the spot for us! This is going to be a bag that we’ll use every day, so we wanted to be really happy with it! All of the ‘Mummsy’ style bags are pretty expensive anyway, £250+!

We looked for actual Leather satchels as we felt this would be most universal for us both. But with Leather, comes a pricetag. We soon found that even just nice Leather satchel bags, that weren’t necessarily for our purpose, were coming up at £400+. When we would look into the details of these bags, we found that there just wouldn’t be enough space for everything that a babba needs on a daily basis – as well as what we might need to cram in for ourselves too! We also decided we wanted something that would be kind of waterproof – Britain is not renowned for it’s dry weather is it!

We went to all the usual high street stores in search of just a standard, but small, holdall that would meet all our demands. We almost settled on this one from Barbour – Barbour Wax Cotton and Leather Trim Satchel, £119: Style available from JohnLewis.com

But, this bag is actually a little too big for what we need it for! It looked massive against me and I just couldn’t see ME using it. OH on the other hand, was chuffed with it.

So on with the search!

I’m a massive fan of Mulberry. It’s my favourite brand. So, I said I wanted a Mulberry Alexa…

Mulberry Oversized Alexa Messenger & Shoulder Bag, £925. Style available from JohnLewis.com

But then we realised that the £795 size wasn’t big enough… and £795 is a ridiculous price for a ‘changing’ bag! OH also concluded that an Alexa was too feminine for him. I did email Mulberry regarding changing bags, as they’re clearly missing a huge audience by not offering a selection! They replied to me with:

We have taken on board customer requests for changing bags and our soon to be available Autumn Winter 2012 collection will include the Rosie Baby bag in Black or Oak Tiger Print Nylon as part of the range.

Pretty exciting! But a bit too late…

Then I started looking at their holdalls. We’d always said we wanted a Clipper holdall. They’re classic Mulberry. They’re perfect for trips away. They’re a style that just will not date – but will get better with age.

We went along to Westfield: Stratford City to take a closer look. The Simple Mulberry Clipper Holdall (£350), was the perfect size! Inside and out 🙂

So we said “sod it” and bought it 😀 It’s beautiful. We’re over the moon with it – and more to the point, unlike ‘real’ changing bags, we’ll be using this holdall for years and years and years and years to come. It’s a style that is built to last! So we were happy to pay the £350 price-tag, because it’s going to get so much more use than a standard changing bag. It completely meets our very niche criteria and OH cannot wait to get outside with it 🙂

MM.