Birth Story | Alex

This is a tough post for me to write. Alex's delivery wasn't easy and my first 48 hours as a mum were equally as difficult.

Before I fell pregnant I was always saying that I was going to have a smooth and plain sailing birth with minimal pain killers and that I was going to breast feed and basically be Mary Poppins. Lately I've seen posts on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media stating that cesarean births are 'taking the easy way out' and breast feeding mums are slating bottle feeding mums. Everyone seems to have something to say on the subject - so I guess you could say I've decided to put my two cents in. So here goes...

I delivered Alex via Cesarean section and I bottle fed him. This is the part where those who have had a natural delivery and breastfed, judge me and make me feel like a failure - even if it is unintentional. But before you do, at least know why. Why he was delivered via c-section and why I bottle fed. Let's start from the beginning.

I was due on the 9th April 2015. After many months of morning sickness and waddling round like a beached whale. I felt horrendous by the time my due date came around. But on that day I was so happy, I knew that in the following 2 weeks I was going to be holding my baby boy. The 9th came and went. As did the 10th and the 11th. When the 12th April came, I went into labour. Finally! Little did I know I would spend 3 days in labour. 3 days!!! I was so tired by the morning of the 14th and in so much pain that the hospital finally admitted me, despite not being more than 1cm dilated or anywhere near ready to actually deliver. So instead I had not one but 2 doses of pethadin over a 9 hour period. I hadn't realised it until my partner told me but I had actually managed to get 9 hours sleep! Then the midwife came round to check me out and whaddaya know??? I was 7cm! Ready to make the move up to the delivery suite! Yay! This meant I could get myself onto the gas and air. I honestly didn't like the stuff. It was great at first but after a while it just made me feel sick, and wasn't killing the pain at all. Que the epidural. This was my godsend. Until shortly after being given this, and having my waters burst, I was told that my little boys blood oxygen levels were dropping. They checked again an hour later and it had dropped significantly lower and the midwife got the surgeon involved. He decided a cesarean was the way to go. I could say no but I would be endangering his life. To put it into perspective as to how much of an emergency my c-section was, I was into the theatre and he was out within the space of 10 minutes. The cord has wrapped around his neck and was preventing him from breathing. It now made sense as to why I hadn't felt him moving. It's because he couldn't. I could have lost him. If it wasn't for my surgeon and midwife, my little boy might not be here today and I cannot thank them enough for that.

Then came the difficult bit! Breast feeding. He simply would not latch. I tried, tried and tried again. Nothing. 3 days came and went and he only drank around 10ml in that time. I tried so hard I exhausted myself. I broke down at 2am on the recovery ward with 2 other women who seemed to be doing perfectly fine with their babies. The midwife took him away so I could rest and tried some pumped breast milk. He refused it. They asked if I wanted to try formula. I said if that was what was best for him then yes, anything is worth a try to make him happy. He took the formula. No complaints. No fuss. No bringing it back up. He took a whole ounce of milk. He was happy. And that's they way we kept it. Do I wish I had tried again or tried harder? Of course I do. But do I regret it? Not a single bit. My little boy is the happiest child on this planet and I wouldn't have him any other way.

Of course, that doesn't stop people judging, criticising or throwing it in my face that I didn't deliver naturally nor was I able to breast feed. And I shouldn't feel bad about this, but I do. I feel like I've failed. Failed myself, my partner, and worst of all, my little boy. All because of remarks that people have made, not even necessarily to me. They could have said something on social media to someone else, not even aimed at me, and it hurts. I feel like someone is rubbing salt into an ope wound.

Just one more thing before I end this post.And that is to simply be aware of how you are making someone feel. Even if you're not directly saying an insult, parading your 'perfect' family and doing things 'the right way' can affect someone in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. So think, please, think, about what you are saying. And how it can affect someone.

For all you expectant mums out there, I cannot urge you enough to take some time out of your day and head to the Kicks Count website. If it weren't for them, I never would have known how important my little ones movements were, even during labour.

Five Favourite Friday | School Subjects

Time for another Five Favourite Friday!

Firstly, I'd like to apologise for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks, I have no excuse but I'm going to try and plan some posts and get a bit more active over the next couple of weeks.

Now on to our top 5! It's Tim's topic this week and he's gone for school subjects! This is tough for me because school was so shit  not great and so I don't have many good memories. But I'll give it a go!

5. French. I love learning new languages and I really wish I had taken this as a GCSE but there were other subjects I wanted to do more.

4. Chemistry. I loved science. And chemistry was very much a favourite. Learning about all the chemical elements and what happens when you combine 2 or more of them. Fascinating.

3. IT. Information Technology wasn't easy but I really enjoyed working with all the various computer programmes.

2.  Drama. For 2 reasons. One, I simply enjoyed the subject and all the work that came with it. And two, my drama teacher - Mr Pashley. He was the world's best teacher. Ever. And no I'm not exaggerating. Sadly, Mr Pashley passed away 7 years ago. It was an extremely sad time for everyone as he had such in impact on so many students.

1. Child Development. My favourite class in school and most definitely the class I tried hardest in. I always wanted to work with children and this subject only enhanced that feeling.

And there you go! My top 5 school subjects. Don't forget to check out Tim's post here. What were your favourite subjects in school?

Next week it's my topic and I'm going with something a little more grown up - Alcohol!!! Favourite alcoholic drinks! This could be a particular brand or beer or cider, or a particular cocktail. I'm rather looking forward to this one!

Five Favourite Friday | Children's Apps

I thought I'd opt for a topic surrounding children and being a parent this week. And I've chosen Apps. We use several apps to help occupy our son while out and about and also to help with his development.

Whilst I agree that children shouldn't spend too much time on technology (tablets, phones, consoles, TV etc.) I also agree that these bits of technology are life savers sanity savers. And here I've listed my favourite apps that I allow my son to spend time using/watching/playing.

5. Talking Carl (iOS, £0.79) - My little boy loves talking to Carl and hearing him talk back. He finds it so funny and can spend ages talking to Carl. I feel like this is really helping his speech as he's talking more and piecing together sentences to hear Carl talk back to him. Although Carl isn't available on Android, there is an alternative in Talking Tom Cat.

4. BBC iPlayer Kids (iOS & Android, Free) - He loves watching CBeebies, he has his favourite shows from Bing to In the Night Garden. This is a life saver while out and about as you can download your favourite shows meaning you don't need data to watch them while travelling in the car for instance.

3. Disney Life & Disney Magic Phone ( iOS & Android, Free/£2.29) - Disney Life is along the same lines as iPlayer but with Disney Junior & Disney Channel shows as well as Disney Movies. Also allows downloads so data is not needed while out and about. Although it's free to download it does require a monthly subscription at £4.99 per month. Disney Magic Phone is a bit pricey but my son loves video calling Mickey Mouse for a chat!

2. CBeebies Storytime (iOS & Android, Free) - my dude loves a book. He really loves storytime and will very often sit himself down at home with a book on his lap and completely ignore everything that's going on around him! This app allows us to sit down together and read the story while interacting with the characters.

1. Star Walk Kids (iOS & Android, £2.29/£0.59) - my little man is obsessed with the moon and the stars at the minute so this app is just what I need when he wants to see stars in the middle of the day! It's easy to use, easy on the eye and educational. I love using the app too when there is a star I'm unsure of or want to know the name of a constellation!

I'd like to make an honourable mention. And this one is for Busy Shapes. This was Apple's Free App of the Week last week and my little man loves it! It's so good as it actually accounts for extra hands and fingers on the screen and it doesn't interfere with how the game works.

And there you have it! My top 5 kids apps! Don't forget to pop on over to Broken Thoughts to read Tim's top 5 and to see what our topic is for next week!

Five Favourite Friday | Participation Sports

My goodness does time fly! It's Friday again and that means another Five Favourite Friday! Are you getting sick of these yet?

Tim's turn to pick the topic this week, and he's opted for participation sports. He said that these are sports that we've played. I've not played anywhere near 5 sports so I'll be adding to my top 5, sports I'd like to participate in or have a go at as well as sports I have played in the past!

5. Fencing. I'd love to have a go at fencing. It's always looked so cool don't you think?

4. Ballroom Dancing. Apparently this is classified as a sport. I did have a go at ballroom dancing when I was very little and at the time I did not enjoy it, I thought it was too slow and a bit dull. But as I've gotten older I've started to see the beauty in ballroom dancing and would love to try it again now!

3. Swimming. I love swimming! I don't go nearly as much as I'd like to! I would like to try to take Alex a bit more this year too.

2. Yoga. I love Yoga. It's very calming and when followed up with some quiet meditation it's one of the best things in the world.

1. Rounders. I used to play in school. It's one of the best sports around! For my wonderful American buddies out there, rounders in basically baseball - hit a ball with a bat, run around some posts and score 'rounders' by getting all the way around without being caught 'out'.

My honourable mentions this week include Netball, Judo, Boxing, Golf, and Running.

I hope you enjoyed this week. Next week it'll be my topic and I'm going to go with Children's Apps, apps that me and my partner have tried and tested!

Let me know in the comments your favourite participation sports and also if there are any apps you think we should try out before next Friday!

Mental Health | January

I'm full of goals and resolutions at the moment - things I want to achieve.

Top of my list for 2017 is my mental health. I've not exactly kept my anxiety and PPD a secret. But there's a lot that I've not told anyone - that I've not said out loud nor written down. And I'm not sure I want to.

I've said CBT is working for me, and I think slowly but surely it is. But I have moments where everything I have learned goes out of the window and I have a breakdown. I haven't had a CBT session since before Christmas and it definitely is showing in how I'm feeling.

When I started CBT, it was the anxiety rather than the depression that I couldn't control. Since my last session, it's the depression that is taking over, and I'm struggling to control it. Everything becomes overwhelming and it's like a weight on top of me that I can't move. And that when it gets too much, I don't want to be here - in that place, in this country... on this Earth. Only now I'm stuck. I don't want to be here... but I don't want to leave my little boy. He literally is the only thing keeping me here.

It's something that I have never told anyone, not a single person, before now. Why would I? The stigma surrounding mental health isn't exactly great. People either thing you are faking, making it up, that it 'can't be that bad'. Or, the opposite end of the spectrum. They think you belong in a mental institution, locked in a padded room out of harms way.

I really want to push the change in stigma surrounding Mental Health this year. I believe that when you have problems with your mental health, it's arguably more dangerous than that of a visible illness because it's easier to hide. Easier to disguise. And far too many of us do that. Me included. I guarantee that tomorrow when I walk into my CBT appointment I will have everything that I've felt these last couple of weeks in my head ready to tell her. And what will come out of my mouth? "Yeah, it's been good thanks. Not as bad as I thought". I won't say a single word about that drowning feeling. The exhaustion. The sheer panic. The feeling of sitting in a pit unable to climb out.

I fear I am rambling now, Getting away from the main point of this post! My goal for the year - kick my anxiety. Kick the depression. Or at least be well on my way to doing so. My goal for Januray? Survive it. Simple as that!

Sorry if I've rambled or bored you but I felt like I needed to get this one out there.

Hope your January is going well!

Monthly Goals | January

If you read my last post, you'll know I plan on doing monthly goals throughout the year. So I'm kicking things off with my goals for January.
  • Drink more water. I don't drink nearly enough water, and I really should. This would really help me on my way to my resolutions of losing weight and taking better care of myself.
  • Meditate. I used to meditate many years ago to try and help ease some stress at that time. I stopped (no idea why) and never started again - but I'd like to now!
  • Begin Sign Language. It's one of my resolutions to learn a new language. I've always wanted to learn sign language, so I'd like to start this month.
A nice short list there. I don't want to make my monthly lists too long because then I won't have time to fit them all in! 

I'll be posting at the end of the month with an update on how I got on! 

2017 | Resolutions

Our Five Favourite Friday this week was on resolutions (if you haven't read it yet, read it here). So I thought I would follow that post up with my list of resolutions for the year.
  • Lose weight. I make this one year after year. And each year I genuinely have good intentions to actually lose the weight I so desperately need to. There's a big difference this year compared to previous years in that I've already lost half a stone going into 2017 so I'm hoping this gives me the boost I need to continue. Not only that but one of our Christmas presents from my in-laws was a holiday - our first family holiday abroad. I'm super excited for this but I definitely want to lose weight before going anywhere!
  • Budget better. Is anyone actually good at this? I'm certainly not! I get paid and within a week I've run out! Time to sort out my finances and budget for the month a bit better I think.
  • Learn a new language. I'm thinking sign language, but only time will tell!
  • Take better care of myself. Eating more healthily, learning how to do my make up properly, bath time soaks with candles, meditation, exercise and caring for my nails and hands. To name a few.
  • Stop biting my nails. Sort of following on from the previous one, part of caring for my nails and hands will be to stop biting my nails. This has been a lifelong habit of mine and it's time to kick it right out the door!
  • Kick the anxiety & PPD. Talking of kicking things out the door, I really want to be free from my anxiety and PPD. I've talked about it before and I finally plucked up the courage to go the doctors and ask for help. They referred me and I finally got an appointment to see a therapist for CBT. I've been doing this for a few months now and I'm learning how to control my thoughts. I also find that just going to talk really helps, so I might see if that can continue even when CBT is over. What I will be most proud of is that I will have managed to do it all without the need for tablets as the thought of depending on medication terrifies me.
  • Complete my NVQ. So this should be really easy to do. I'm over half way through now and although I still have a lot to complete and work through I am confident I should be able to complete this by the middle of the year.
  • Improve my relationships. Whether this is my friendships, my relationship with my partner or even with my son, I think that there is a lot of room for improvement. I'm not the easiest person to live with or deal with, I think that's mainly down to my PPD & anxiety. But I don't want to use that as an excuse. I want to improve who I am as a person and repair broken friendships, improve run down relationships and overall make more of an effort where I can.
  • Last but not least, make a big commitment. So, me and my partner have been together 9 years, 10 years in November. We have a house, and a son. The next thing for me would be getting married. So, I would love it if we could get engaged this year. It would really make my year - only time will tell!
So, there are my main resolutions for 2017. I have these ones for the year but I have ones that I want to make as monthly resolutions - ones that are less daunting when completed month by month. 

I'd really like to try and do regular updates on how I'm getting on with my resolutions, although I've already scheduled in my diary to do a 6 month resolution review.

What are your resolutions for the year?

Five Favourite Friday | New Year, New Me

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year, but it's now time to get back to it.

We're back for the first Five Favourite Friday of 2017 with our top things to consider as part of your New Years resolutions, just in case you were struggling for ideas.

5. Lose Weight. This is usually one on my list every year. And every year I fail. I'll be posting a resolutions post over the weekend, but this one is definitely on my list once more. Only this time, I've already started losing weight before 2016 had even ended. So the plan is to continue more than it is to start.

4. Learn something new. A new language. A new skill. A new sport. You get the idea.

3. Go somewhere new. Take a trip abroad. Go on holiday. Explore your home nation. Go on a day trip to somewhere you've never been before.

2. Increase physical activity. I think this is something most of us can do with doing. I know for certain I don't exercise anywhere near enough as I should!

1. Give something up. Smoking. Drinking. Even biting nails! Basically any bad habit can be kicked with a bit of will-power and when better to start than a New Year!

I'm sure those of you who are making resolutions this year have already made them. But in case you were struggling for ideas, or wanted to choose just one rather than making a whole list - I hope I have been of assistance!

As always, pop across to Tim's blog - Broken Thoughts - to read his post and head on back over the weekend to read what my resolutions are for this year!

A Warm Welcome to 2017

Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to wish you all a fab and prosperous 2017! I hope you all had a great night whatever you did to ring in the new year!

Thank you for all your support throughout 2016 and I'm really looking forward to the next 12 months!