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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE // THIS IS ME

THIS IS ME

Where do I even begin with this?

Right, DEEP BREATH. Here we go!

I have always been small, in height, the smallest at school… the smallest in every single friendship group since then. The smallest in the family. When I was working at Eli’s school last year, there were even children almost my height, and they were pushing age 8 (!!), if that. I was often mocked as a child because of my height, “short arse” and “little legs” are the nicer of the names I was referred to. It made me feel ‘picked on’, and singled out to be referred to because of my height. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I know I shouldn’t, but I actually really DO care what other people think – to my own detriment.

I had the familiar pang of sadness, that I’d had so many times as a child, when Eli came along. He’s on the shorter side of “the chart” for his age – he’s always followed the same line on the chart. He was born with several conditions too (Talipes, Torticollis, Hypermobility) which in turn could have some kind of effect on his growth. He’s actually only just below average height for his age. Most kids are ABOVE AVERAGE in height; making him look smaller. I became/become hyper-sensitive when we get adults proclaim  “Oh isn’t he small!” “Eli is so tiny for his age isn’t he!” “My son is 3 years younger than him and already his height!”. Why are you even referring to his height? Why is it such a BIG THING for you to point out? I’m totally digressing from my own issues here because I’m being defensive and protective of him; but just wanted to point out that your throwaway comments about something like height (and I’ll get onto this now, but also, weight) can actually hit someone in such a bad way, especially when they’re already mega conscious of what you’re pointing out. Instead of referring to my son’s height, how about you refer to how agile and strong and clever and cheeky and funny and how unbelievably caring and creative he is?

ANYWAY…

Back to it.

My height I cannot do anything about and I wholly accept that. So why oh why have I found body-acceptance so damn difficult?

I’m a complete little bit ginger (which again, I was cruelly bullied for as a child), I have a gazillion freckles, I have a rather large nose (which I do now accept and got pierced later in life because I was learning to embrace it… not embraced enough for me to tell my parents I’d had it pierced however!). I didn’t grow up with a good self image. At all. I’ve always struggled to look in the mirror.

I’m ‘petite’ – I’m quite literally 5 foot nothing. I have big old Mothering hips and a bust. I had a big arse well before it was in fash-un. I distinctly remember being told I had a ‘duck bum’ (that protruded as I walked), as a child. Putting on the odd pound here or there makes me look massive because of my height and stature.  My body shape is TOTALLY different to how it was when I was 8, when I was 15, when I was 21, heck, when I was pregnant with Eli at 26 and it’s even different to the months and years following the birth of Eli.

When I became a parent, I KNEW, I had to let go of the self-conscious me. I KNEW I had to let go of the cringing in the mirror. I KNEW I had to let go of the posing at my best angle and just live in the now and be the natural me in photographs.

I knew all this and still continued through life with the same mindset – just now being extra careful not to project any of my feelings onto Eli directly. I’m ALWAYS the one behind the camera. Never in front – unless my body is cropped – or unless I take a mirror selfie (the one I post is usually out of around 2000 that I take and cry over before eventually posting). It makes me so bloody sad going through our photos from our recent holiday to Florida; I’m barely in any of them. There’s probably 3 that I let James take of me and I would never ever post them. (He would be the first to admit that he is just awful at taking candid photos – so theres no point wasting phone memory on taking any of me at all). The confidence issue doesn’t stop with the photo-taking though.  I also walked around in 40c heat in Florida with my arms covered every single day. I was sweating like I never even imagined I could sweat, but still, I refused to take of the kimono or the jacket or the long sleeved dress. WHY? Because all of these strangers would see my bare arms?! GOD FORBID LASS. It’s nuts isn’t it? It’s actually nuts. I am my own worst enemy.

Since having Eli 6 years ago, my body has changed drastically. I put on 4 stone whilst pregnant with him. It came off quite slowly. I did every diet possible – but in the end I stuck to slim fast and the 5:2. Within a few months, I had gone down to a size 8-10. And I was still miserable. I was still unhappy with my body. The scars, the stretch marks, the wobbly bits. My dumpy little legs and my zero torso cos Petite. I still didn’t want to have my photograph taken. I still didn’t want to look in the mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m now 32 and I’m only truly learning what it means to have ‘self-love’. I had a tough time following my miscarriage last year – not just because of the obvious. But because I was blaming this sack of a body I had to get around in. I blamed by body for failing to protect that baby that was so wanted. But my body wasn’t to blame at all. My body did what it needed to. When I realised that, I realised and understood how strong my body really is. How amazing my body actually is. But still, I couldn’t get that emotional response to project onto the outside and transfer into true body confidence.

For years I have watched and admired the confidence of so many amazing women across the media. (REAL women, like you and I). People like @StyleMeSunday and her Body Confidence campaigns – instantly jump to mind. For years I have wished I had just an ounce of that confidence. To be able to dress to my size, to not hide behind the floaty dresses (I will still love my floaty dresses, but not for playing hide & seek in!) , at jaunty angles and to actually feel comfortable within my own skin. To allow photographs to be taken of me… photos of me and my boy.  After all, when we’re gone, the only thing that will remain are these photographs of precious times and now all I can think about is the lack of any photographic evidence of us all together. It’s really just so sad, isn’t it? It’s terrible.

So? What’s your point? Well, stranger on the internet, I have began to finally feel better about my body.  More recently, folk like @mollyjforbes, @Inpolife, @life_with_Ivycoco, and of course, @CharliHoward@Erica_Davies & @HannahfGale – have all posted such amazing content with such honesty, how can I not take just a little bit of it on board? How can I not think better of my own body and bones?

About a month ago I went to a gathering organised by @MidsizeCollective – I almost didn’t go. I felt massive. I was beyond nervous. I was going on my own (I did meet up with long-time IG pal @i0wen in the end!). It all felt too much. I didn’t want anxiety to get the better of me.

I’m so bloody glad I went. It was exceptionally inspiring to be in a room with other women who understood me and my body shape. To be able to chat and share in our shopping woes of being ‘middle sized’ women. Because, you know what, we are the forgotten women. Not skinny… but not plus size. We’re NORMAL sized women. But why does it feel like we’re invisible? Why is it so difficult to find clothing that fits us? Why, oh, why, do we find body confidence so damn hard to work with?! Why are we not represented within the Fashion industry… within shops and their marketing? WHY OH WHY OH WHY?

I just want to feel comfortable in the skin that I have. To be comfortable with the skin that I’m in; whatever my size. To have appreciation for my body; and confidence in where my body takes me. We ALL have a body, whatever shape or size or height or colour(s) it may well be. So that’s our NORMAL. No more, definitely, no less. We’re all NORMAL.

And you know what? I heard that THICK THIGHS, SAVE LIVES. So it must be ok!

I also just wanted to give  a shout out to @annacarsarina, who has also set up her new account all about Mid-Size and Mid-Age style – she has carefully curated such a beautiful feed full of body happiness and inspiration. So thank you Anna – and thank you to all the other women mentioned above (and to those beyond this blog post) who have shown true and honest versions of themselves in a bid to normalise body confidence. THANK YOU. You are wonderful women and it’s also kind of ridiculous that we’re even having to write about this in 2018, isn’t it? Anyway, again, thank you for being YOU. I wouldn’t be sat here typing this out, without you.

So from this day forward, I swear I’m going to be happier in my own skin – I’m going to ALLOW photographs to be taken of me, candid or otherwise. I’m not about to jump into a bikini and show off all my bits… but I promise that I’m going to beat these bloody body confidence blues and get on with my life. Because you know what? Life is too hard and too tiring and it’s just too damn short to be fussing over what you look like in a pair of skinny jeans or with your arms out… or ON THE DAMN BEACH. Yes I could do with loosing a few more pounds (I cycle every day for almost 2 hours, but I also love crisps and chips and gravy), but importantly, I’m giving up on feeling body-shame and I’m going to embrace what I have, in the now and at the minute. And I would urge you to do the very same.

I cannot imagine what life must be like for those who are bringing up daughters. The pressure must just be so immense surrounding body positivity. I find it difficult enough bringing up a son in this world and talk endlessly to Eli about how we’re all different shapes and sizes and colours and that’s what makes us all so cool! The fact we’re all different and truly unique and diverse. The more we educate and understand and share the honesty, then the more NORMAL this whole movement will become. Hopefully, it won’t even BE a movement any longer – because, we’re all just out there living our best lives.

Additionally, I’m going to be using my social media platforms as a place to shout about Petite styles and fashion and inspiration because no, there isn’t enough of it out there. I’ve always tried to be inclusive of my styling tips/recommendations, but the industry definitely isn’t inclusive of people like me and my size. So sod the industry, and PETITE WOMEN, LET’S UNITE! #PetiteWomenUnite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there we have it.  My body confidence post, DONE.

Peace & Love

C
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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.

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I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed!

After weeks and weeks of , “Oh, I’ll definitely pack it this weekend!“, I did actually get round to packing my hospital bag(s) this week! But only after I thought I was going into labour with my coccyx pain! Perhaps Baby Boy Bump was tired of my excuses for not packing the bags too!

So, with this all in mind. I thought I’d share my list of ESSENTIALS. I’ve been through absolutely dozens of “What to pack…” lists, along with forums and speaking with friends. And I think I’ve pretty much formed the definitive list. You DO need to take lots to the hospital. I’ve chosen to take everything in a suitcase simply because it’s easier than cramming everything into lots of bags… it will also fit in the boot of our car neater 🙂 I do know it looks like I’m going on holiday, but I swear, it’s all completely necessary!

Here we go then…

FOR ME.
To have ready to hand.
Birth plan/preferences
Maternity notes
Cash for carpark
Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!

For labour/ward.
Maternity pads – two packs of 10
Breast pads – 15 pairs
Cheap nightie(s)
Large cotton knickers – 7-10 pairs
Bedsocks with grips to the bottom – your feet get cold during labour.
Massage oil
Lipbalm
Bobbles
Headband
Hair grips
Brush
Pillows – my usual pillow and maternity pillow
x2 Dark towels
Phone chargers
Change of clothing for leaving the hospital – baggy, to fit at least a 4-5 month pregnant bump.
Slippers/Flip flops
Fan
Stopwatch – to time contractions
Swimwear – for the birthing pool!
Hot water bottle
Plastic jug – useful for afterwards, going to the loo is likely to be quite painful. Pouring a jug of warm water over the affected area whilst going to the loo can allegedly help sooth the pain.
List of phone numbers on paper
Face cloth
Camera
Toilet roll – we like our quilted Andrex!
Plastic bag for dirty clothes/towels
Book/Magazines
Pen and paper – useful for writing down notes that may be passed on from doctors/midwives; or in the instance that I can’t talk whilst mid-contraction! Also good to have if we get bored and fancy hangman!
Clean clothing for James (Other half)
Ear plugs – it might be quite noisy… 
Nice nightie for afterwards
Dark dressing gown
Birthing ball – just incase there isn’t one spare. This can be left in the boot if not needed.
Birthing ball pump

Toiletries
Shampoo
Conditioner
Makeup bag
Mirror
Deoderant
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Mouthwash
Facewipes
Antibacterial hand gel
Gaviscon
Anusol
Deoderant
Dettol wipes for ward
Lavender Oil
James’ wash bag with toothbrush/deoderant/bryl creme

Something extra…
Chocolates for the Midwives for afterwards
Card for the Midwives for afterwards

Food/Snacks/Drinks
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Mini cheddars
Bananas
Cereal bars
Frozen drinks – it’s apparently quite hot on the wards. A frozen drink will melt slowly, so will be much nicer than warm bottled water!
Juice – cordial
Bottles of water
Glucose tablets
Bendy straws – useful for drinking at any angle!
Crisps
Two plastic cups – so we can celebrate afterwards?!
Peppermint teabags – useful for trapped wind and cramps afterwards.
Dried fruit
Chocolate
Soreen

BABY CHANGING BAG.
Going home outfit
x5 vests
x5 baby grow’s
Pair of scratch mittens
Hat
Booties
Blanket
x6 muslin squares
x6 bibs
Soft toy
Swaddle
Towel
Cardigan – just incase, I know it’s July, but I do live in England.

Toiletries
Cotton wool balls/Cotton wool pleats
Grooming kit – for his little nails!
x27 nappies – a whole pack of Pampers New Born.
Sudacrem
Vaseline – useful for smothering over Baby Boy’s bum, it makes it easier to clean the first newborn poo’s away.
Bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.
Ready made formula bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.

Is there anything I’m missing from your own list?! Something that might have proven absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards?

MM.

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Woe is me… I have SPD.

As I’ve documented over my recent Weekly Updates, I’ve been suffering with what I thought was just ligament pain. Albeit, with ‘just’ ligament pain I should have probably kicked up more of a fuss (I hate causing fuss and I hate fuss!). But since Saturday last week I’ve been in absolute agony with my coccyx. To the point of screaming to just roll over in bed. And I like to think I’ve got a high pain threshold! Needless to say, I’ve not slept since Friday night (and that was a rubbish night’s sleep anyway!). On top of this, I’ve had a cold… a proper cold. Every single time I’ve sneezed it’s felt like my undercarriage was going to rip out of me. Horrendous.

I’d reluctantly started taking paracetamol on Sunday as the hot baths and heat compresses had failed to ease the pain; and had the long Jubilee weekend to rest. But forced myseld into work yesterday. I cried on the train journey in, just limbering on the edge of the seat. I got to work and was completely drained. I felt emotional and tired out. I couldn’t sit in my chair at my desk. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the first pregnancy in my department, EVER. So have found it difficult when having even just standard Midwife appointments – people continuously asking why I’m at the Midwife so much. (As if I need to explain my medical situation anyway! I would NEVER ask a colleague why they’d visited the Doctors, would you?!). So when I’d been suffering with the aforementioned ligament pain, I found that people were more or less confused or found my blatant explanation “distasteful”. Goodness knows why! So of course, when I got to work yesterday in obvious pain, explaining that my coccyx were killing me didn’t go down all too well. I don’t think people understand just how sodding painful it is!

So I thought SOD IT. And got myself to the doctors at 5pm. The Doctor examined me and diagnosed me with SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction). I’ve been referred to a Physio (not sure how long it will be before I get my appointment mind!) and has given me a cream to rub onto my coccyx and upped my paracetamol intake. He did offer to give me Codeine aswell, but refused this as it can affect the baby. He also gave me a sick note. My first sick note. So close to the end of work, before my Maternity Leave begins on 22nd June… so I’m quite disappointed with myself. I’ve never ever had a sick note. I didn’t even know what to do with the damn thing.

So that’s that. I’ve had my first day off work today and literally slept the entire day through. The paracetamol and sitting on a hot water bottle has helped.

I just need to keep on top of resting and relaxing. This is definitely my body’s way of telling me to SLOW DOWN.

Has anyone else suffered with SPD? What are your coping techniques? Did you get better post-partum?

MM.