Thursday, 7 April 2011

Our first separation

If you follow my blog regularly you'll know that I freelance as a marketing professional, yep, that's right, I'm a pro (in the non red light sense of course) working mainly from home.

I agreed on a job back in November that would whisk me away to Barcelona for 6 days in April, glamorous? Not really, I'll be inside a convention centre for the most part.

At the time, I pondered the impact leaving Belle would have and concluded it would be minimal, we needed the money. Besides, April was ages away, Belle would be nearly 10 months old and by then, I could probably do with the break.

Well, April has arrived, I fly on Sunday.

To say I'm apprehensive about the separation is an understatement. My stomach does actual flips, like a dolphin at Sea World, when I think about leaving her.

I had imagined that she'd be able to say mummy by now. She said it for the first time on Sunday but we think it was a fluke. I had imagined seeing her on Skype and her waving 'mummy mummy' in a missing me kind of way, but knowing what I know now, she'll probably have no interest and just try and chew the laptop.

I'm scared. For many reasons and it's making me very confused.

I'm scared that she won't miss me. That the moment we are reunited she won't be phased by it.

I'm worried that her routine will get messed up and I'm fretting that'll I'll miss something. She is so close to crawling right now.

James has the whole week off with her so I'm sure all of the above will be in order and if I do miss something there will be photographic evidence.

On the flip side I'm also concerned that I'll enjoy it. The moment on the plane when I sit there, uninterrupted, listening to music and reading Heat magazine really appeals to me. Will I feel guilty if I do enjoy it? What if it makes me want to go back to full time work?

Mainly, I'm worried that they will do fine without me.

Choosing to work, stay at home or work from home once you've had a child is the most heart wrenching decision, whatever your situation.

I'm trying so hard to find a balance by freelancing and think this will be my ultimate test.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Gallery: Mothers Love

One of my biggest regrets is the lack of photographic evidence we have of my pregnancy and our first moments as mother and daughter.

I hated what I looked like at the end of my pregnancy and post birth, I was stupidly adamant that no photos be taken of me.

I was quietly suffering with the trauma that had been Belle's birth, and was struggling to breastfeed, I hated myself, why would I want photos of that?

I'd like to get a hold of myself then and shake her a little. You never get those moments back. I kick myself now that we don't have more of these images of us to treasure.

This is one of the very few I have of Belle and I in our first weeks together, embracing in a very special moment, which is why it is my entry for this weeks (and my first) Gallery at Sticky Fingers. I think it is a true capture of a 'mothers love'.

Monday, 4 April 2011

My Breastfeeding Battle

It's strange isn't it, when you become a mum and meet others, there are two stories you need to hear.

One, the birth, and two, their breastfeeding story. I find both so interesting, as not one is the same.

I've already shared with you my birth story, so how about the breast bit? Here goes...

I was convinced I would be a six monther. That's what the books told me to do, it was the best thing for Belle, so that was that!

I've got a picture of the first time Belle fed from me. I don't remember it as I had just come round from a general anaesthetic, which makes me sad, but she took well to it.

After a successful day and night of breastfeeding I was about to be discharged from hospital when they noticed Belle was slightly drowsy, and wasn't opening one eye completely. After a horrid foot prick test they told me I couldn't have been feeding her correctly as her blood sugars were low.

I was devastated. All through the night I had been asking them to check that we were doing it right, and they had said yes. I was so confused.

It was decided Belle would be cup fed to 'top up' the breast in order to increase her sugars. I was expressing on an industrial electric pump, if anything is going to make you feel like a cow it's one of those bad boys! She also had to have some formula.

Cutting a long story short, after 2 days and 2 nights of no improvement they tested her using an IV rather than the foot prick test. Her poor little feet, they had been battered and bruised, I'll never forget all those tiny little plasters covering her soles.

The test results came back from the lab, she was fine. Blood sugars were normal. Although we never got an official apology or explanation, they said that the machine being used for the prick tests may have been faulty and had been sent off the ward to be recalibrated. At that point I didn't really care, my baby was healthy, we could finally go home, albeit still slightly confused, did this mean I had been feeding her correctly the whole time?

She slept on the way home, and didn't seem to want feeding for a while. Once she did, she didn't want to stop. 10mins on 15mins off, for the rest of the day and evening. It got to midnight and she was screaming, so much so I rang the ward.

I explained the feeding pattern (as I had written down length, time and side of every feed) and she said it sounded as though she hadn't been taking anything. I went into panic mode, thinking I had starved my child and I was the worst mum in the world. She said try again and if that doesn't settle her bring her back. I had failed within 12 hours.

Thankfully one more go seemed to do the trick and she fell asleep for a few hours. I rang the ward back and they said a midwife would be sent round first thing.

I did nothing other than stare at her and pump for those few hours she was asleep. Praying that she had taken some milk. Praying that the midwife would get here soon. When she woke I bottle fed her my expressed milk, at least that way I could see she had fed something. Then the 10 minutes on 15 minutes off started again.

The midwife came at 9am and was greeted by myself, balling my eyes out at the front door. She watched me feed her, with a massive smile she said, 'you're doing fine honey'. Again I burst into tears, I was doing it fine. The angel sent from heaven midwife had set my mind at ease, I was doing fine.

3 weeks went by and Belle was feeding every hour, day and night. I was sore, sleep deprived, not enjoying my beautiful baby. We tried everything else before feeding when she cried, nappy, cuddles, too hot, too cold, the car, but every time, all she wanted was milk.

Within those 3 weeks I'd sent James to the kitchen to sterilise the bottles and get the formula several times, but with each, I'd run in crying 'no, I can't give up, I'll keep going.'

I went to the breastfeeding councillor and she showed me different positions to feed her. This didn't work, still she was screaming for food every hour.

We couldn't go out, I felt like a prisoner, we were stuck between the sofa and the moses basket. Feeding every hour.

It was suggested she was using me as a dummy, so against my will, we tried her with one. She just spat it out.

I was sad, I felt lonely. James was amazing but at the end of the day he had to go to work, and needed his sleep. So Belle and I stayed downstairs at night grabbing an hour between multiple, painful, tearful feeds.

By week five I gave in. I couldn't do it any more. I hadn't had more than 2 hours sleep at a time and was struggling with not only feeding but getting over the emotional trauma I had suffered from a difficult birth.

I beat myself up about it for months, I felt like a complete failure, a bad mother and a useless woman. I had tried so hard.

But now I stand firmly by my decision to stop breastfeeding. It was the right thing to do for my family.

I was a different woman, I was happy, enjoying my newborn like I should have been.

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers but I can't stand it when women preach about breastfeeding. If it works for you, congratulations, that's great, but just because you found it easy does not mean it's that way for everyone. Please do share, encourage and support breastfeeding, but do not judge.

I plead any breastfeeding preachers, just spare a thought for the women who tried, with all their heart's, but couldn't do it, for whatever reason. Please don't make them feel like failures, they are great mums too.

This really made me laugh

Having a bad Monday? Then check out this gorgeous little bubba. Guaranteed to make you laugh!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Learning (by default)

They say you learn something new everyday.

This phrase has never been more true since having Belle.

Not only am I learning how to be a mummy but I'm still learning how to be a grown up.

Yes, I am 25 years old, I should have that down by now, however I have always been slightly domestically challenged, unless you count doing the Tesco shopping online, I'm ruddy good at that.

So every once and a while I thought I'd share with you...

What I've learnt (by default) this week...

1. Do not wash the kitchen tiles with a dripping cloth when there are power points on the wall. It makes the points spark, then bang, then Daddy Bean get's angry concerned.

2. Make sure wipes are at the top of the changing bag. If you are discretely trying to mop up sick from your child whilst out in public it doesn't help if it takes five minutes of frantic digging to find the wipes. After which point everyone has noticed the crazy lady rather than the sicky baby.

3. Text back straight away. Just because you have answered a friends text in your mind doesn't mean that they will receive that reply telepathically, having a baby does not install this function, however useful it may have been. Friends will assume you have ignored them and will therefore make other plans.

4. Check pockets before putting trousers into the wash, and then the dryer. Must order James a new card, and wallet, oh, and driving licence... oops.

5. If you are going to sneakily check out the hotel you are staying at on-line whilst on a very important conference call make sure you turn the laptop volume off. It's a sure fire sign that you are not paying attention to the call when a promotional video with 'jazzy' music starts blaring down the line.

And that's just this week!

I've always been told that this side of me is endearing, hmmm, do you think they were just being nice?

What have you learnt (by default) this week?

Friday, 25 March 2011

How did you introduce 'charity'?

When I was little I wanted to change the world, a little Lisa Simpson in the flesh.
It was all so simple to me back then, why can’t everyone just share what they have? Then no one would be poor, no children would go hungry and everyone would have a house. Or, even easier, why don’t the banks just print more money? Simple, right? A humble solution in my infant mind.

My thoughts then turned into actions.

I stopped eating meat when I was 10, although mum made me eat chicken… ‘You need protein, you’re a growing girl’ she used to say. This was a radical decision after my brother insisted on singing ‘lamb chops, mmm mint sauce’ every time we drove passed a field of sheep, to my horror and annoyance.

I sent my football shirts to Africa (yes, I was a tom boy for a while, who’d of thought it?) and sent shoe boxes of presents to others at Christmas time.

But then you grow up, and realise that life isn’t so simple.

You get caught in your own world and ego and before you know it you’ve cancelled that £2 a month you’ve been giving to Oxfam since you started your first job, as you need it for beer money. You start eating meat again as it’s the easy (and cheaper) option when you move out of home. And Christmas becomes all about the presents (received, not given). This was me.

Then, in my early twenties I went travelling, (in a non-posh ‘gap year’ sort of way, I was 23).
I had been working full time for 5 years and decided that I had missed out and needed an adventure.

I wanted to go to Thailand, and whilst looking through the options of beaches, sunbathing and drinking tours I found a volunteering trip, the supressed Lisa Simpson from my youth was overjoyed.

So I went, on my own, and joined a group of other likeminded (mainly younger) volunteers.

We lived in an Echo house together in a province north of Bangkok called Sing Buri. There, we went on weekly assignments to help the local community. Including teaching at a primary school and building at an orphanage.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the beach bit too, went to the full moon party and had some selfish fun, but it is the 5 weeks I spent in Sing Buri that I will always treasure the most. Seeing the smiles, the politeness and the kindness of children who had no parents, no home and little else, will always stay with me.

Two years later and I’m now the proud owner of a beautiful baby girl, and since her arrival, I have pondered on how to impart morals, empathy and kindness as she grows.

With the recent earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan, and the Comic Relief campaign in full swing, it really brings home the need and importance of charity.

I do believe that charity starts at home, but it doesn’t have to end there.

I’m the first to admit that, other than my half selfish trip to Thailand, I haven’t done much for others since my Lisa Simpson days of past. Like everyone else, these are hard times. We’re saving for a wedding, days out and maybe even a holiday in the next few years.

I don’t think we should all give up on our day to day dreams and treats for our family. I will feel no shame in, one day, taking Belle to Disney World, but moving forward, I am going to start supporting a charity again, even if it is a few pounds a month.

I hope that Belle will grow up to appreciate what she has, be grateful, humble and charitable where she can. But how do we encourage this in our children?

At Christmas Belle was only 6 months old, but I ‘forfeited’ the cost of one of her presents and instead bought an Oxfam ‘unwrapped’ gift for the value of feeding a family on her behalf. I plan to do this every year, a small gesture, but I hope it’s benefits will be two fold. Helping a charity and teaching my lovely daughter to be grateful and giving.

I’d love to know what you do to encourage gratitude with your children and how you introduced the much needed action of ‘charity’.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Yes... real tears!

I promise I won't do this a lot, I'm normally a very positive person but... I need a moan!

As you know, the sun has been shining gloriously this week, so yesterday I grabbed some bread, a friend, two babies and headed for the riverside. A perfect sunny day combo.

After a brief encounter with one very large, hungry, swan (there's always one) we ran for our lives we headed over to the park.

The little ones in question are only 7 and 9 months old so the height of parklife for them is the swings, held tightly by both mummy's.

They were loving it, Belle so much so that she was making very strange, loud, noises as the swing went back and forth, not embarrassingly so, but attention grabbing from other mums none the less. I could feel the stares.

As it was such a stunning day the park was busy, so, not wanting to hog the swings, we went to move on. Belle had other ideas, and as we moved away she throw the biggest tantrum.

She's a baby, it was her nap time, I don't really think it was about the swings, nether the less, she had a melt down.

As we gathered our things (me quite frantically) and started to leave the park I heard one mum say to another... 'oh dear, real tears and everything!'

Real tears? Yes, she's crying, what does your child cry? Fairy drops? Sunbeams? Rainbows? Well... mine cries tears! Real ones!

I was so upset. As mums we should be able to relate and support each other right? Not judge, stare and whisper in a park. I'm probably being over sensitive but this lady really got to me. I know Belle is quite a noisy baby but she's happy, beautiful and loved.

I've discussed Belles crying in older posts (we made in to the parachute) and talked about how she's getting better. But yesterday really took me back to those early weeks where I didn't leave the house as I was scared of people judging this clueless new mummy with the crying baby.

Right... Sod you judgey lady... I'm getting a grip now. Rant over! :)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Liebster Blog Award and Sharing the Love

I was kindly graced with the Liebster Blog Award this afternoon by the lovely Mummy and Beastie (go check her out, she's lovely).

It’s for people with ‘little’ blogs (less than 300 subscribers) to share blog love and spread the word.

The rules are:

1. Post displaying the award (tick), linking back to the person who awarded you (tick)
2. Choose your own blog picks (tick) and let them know they’re awarded (to Twitter I go)
3. Hope everyone discovers some new favourites
4. Revel in the blog love!

These lovely ladies all have amazing blogs that are well worth a follow... Not sure how to tell they have less than 300 subscribers though, so don't be offended ladies, I just think you're FAB!

Curly & Candid
The Wonderful World of Tillie
No More Disco
The Wicked Mumma (keep going, you rock!)
Amy on the Prairie


Thursday, 17 March 2011

We made it to the parachute - Yay!

Love them or hate them we've all attended a 'baby group'.

My local one is called, Babygrowz. Lots of nursery rhymes and bubble blowing rounded off with the grand finale that is, the parachute.

I've been lucky enough to meet some amazing mums, that are now firm friends, since Belle's arrival. We all attended Babygrowz together after having a 'taster session' in our first time mums group. (they know how to get you don't they, sign up here sleep deprived, vulnerable mummy's) 

Belle was the crier of the class. Yep, you know, there's always one and she was mine

I was that flustered new mum, dropping things, scrambling through changing bags, getting myself in a state, trying everything to calm her down. Stressful.

So, after 3 months of tears and tantrums, we never made it to the parachute at the end of the class. By that point I'd either be standing in the corner rocking her, sitting at the side feeding her or had just given up all together and had made a sharp exist out of there.

I was never embarrassed by her crying, just frustrated that she didn't want to be the happy, smiley little baby she was at home.

I really envied the other girls with their calm, quiet babies and feared that they judged my ability as a mummy.

I decided to stop going to Babygrowz just before Christmas. It seemed silly to be paying for the 10 minutes we were enjoying.

This week, one of the girls got in touch and asked me along for another go. Assuring me that, as the rest of the group had now started teething, babies were crying left, right and centre. So we went along, fingers crossed. (not for crying babies though, honest)

The first hurdle was the 'sit and listen' session.  They put on classical music and the babies are supposed to sit nicely and listen, for TWO WHOLE minutes, ha ha. Belle had always moaned within, erm, 10 seconds beforehand, but... she did it, two complete minutes of silence.

Time flew and before we knew it the class was nearly over. My friend shot me a smile from across the room, we had made it to the parachute!  I was so proud of my little girl, and Belle had loved it.

If at first you don't know the rest ;) 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

An ode to mummy blogging

A month ago today I started to blog,
to share, to review, to go the whole hog.

I became a mum, of which you can understand,
this is what we have in common, supporting hand in hand.

I was lost, confused, in need of a boost,
my personality, my humour was missing, aloof.

Then the words came and I wrote them to share,
revealing my story, true feelings I bare.

So thank you mummy bloggers, I’ve found myself again,
a mummy, a woman, now also a friend. 

Right, must get a grip and stop being so soppy,
I’ll go back to being me, all witty and boppy.

An upbeat mummy with tales to tell,
of the bogies, pooh and tantrums we all know so well.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Pink or Blue?

I was delighted this week when a close friend of mine announced she was pregnant after years of trying.  She was soon round for a cuppa, completely glowing, to show me her scan pictures... me? broody? never! *cheeky smiles*

She asked me what my advice would be about knowing the sex of the baby, a decision she needed to make before her next scan.

I felt proud, I could finally impart wisdom and experience on a friend who, older than myself, I had always looked up to as a big sister.  She had always guided, advised (and mainly teased) me growing up, but now, I could help her.

I hadn't wanted to find out if we were having a pink or blue bundle at first, or a burger or sausage as I've heard some refer to it as (yuck). I had always imagined the moment would be a surprise. James, on the other hand, couldn't wait to find out, to give our little bean an identity before even meeting them.

So, one of the happiest moments of my life happened at my 18 week scan, still in Australia, we found out, we were having a daughter. I was over the moon.  Don't get me wrong, I would have been happy either way, as long as baby was healthy, but wow, a little girl, I was so excited.

I told my friend how we found that discovering the sex allowed us to bond with Belle even more. We named her, bought girls clothes for her, decorated her nursery (pink rosebuds, very girlie). It also helped James feel more connected with her, he could see her as a little girl not just a 'bean'. I've always thought that women become mothers from the moment they know they are pregnant, it's nature, where as it must be so much harder for men to feel that bond, we found that knowing her sex really helped.

So that was my advice (the first bit of 'grown up' advice I had ever imparted) but what would you have said? Did you find out you were having a boy or a girl? Are you glad you found out or did you regret it? I'd love to know...


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tuesday left a bad taste in my mouth, literally...

I spent Tuesday at the Agenda for Later Life Conference in London. Why? Well, one of my clients sells disposable medical instruments so I was there to help them out with their PR, oh the glamour of being a freelancer. I was picked up at 5am, yes that's right, 5am, and returned at 7pm. As I normally work from home this was a shock to the system, made greater by Belle waking up at 1.30am with sore teeth. Stupid evil teeth, hurting my baby, it was as though they knew I wasn't going to get enough sleep that night, grrrr!

Anyway, it was a busy day and I missed Belle like crazy, I'm sure she didn't feel the same, she was having a wonderful time with Nanny K.  I returned home just in time for bed, so I got a cuddle in, and off she went.  Being the prepared sort of person that I am (ha) I had made a shepherds pie the day before so I wouldn't have to cook.  I wasn't too hungry, due to the massive amount of conference biscuits consumed that day, so James heated it up, polished it off and put the dish next to the sink.

I went into the kitchen later in the evening and spotted the dish.  The edges were glistening with that crunchy cheese crust that gets stuck to the sides, plus a few little bits of meat, yum, I grabbed the wooden spoon inside the dish, scooped round the edge and promptly shoved the load into my mouth.  Hang on a second, that tastes like.... ahhhh WASHING UP LIQUID!!!  Yuck Yuck Yuck... as I was retching James came in pointing and laughing like a five year old.  After declaring my hatred for him I rushed upstairs to clean my teeth several times.  Seriously, if you put washing up liquid in a dish, you then fill it with water, surely!  Who just shoves washing up liquid in a dish and leaves it! Who?  A man, that's who! ;)

As they say, you should always learn from your mistakes, and my learnings are three fold. 1. Don't ever work a 14 hour day after 4 hours of broken sleep. 2. Stop being such a fatty boom boom, scraping off leftovers is not a good look and 3. Always assume that men, even the wonderful ones, generally only do half a job!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The 'baby birthing warrior' that wasn't

DIY daddy
30 weeks and nesting
30 weeks pregnant... nursery decorated, baby shower attended, pram purchased... next on the list, antenatal classes.

We attended NCT classes. I went in with no preconceptions or preparations, birth plan, what was that? I left feeling like a baby birthing warrior, sent on this earth just to give birth, a baby delivering super hero if you will. Hospitals? Doctors? Pain relief? Who needed that stuff? My body is built for this, I'm young, I should be doing this naturally.

My mind was made up, NO pain relief, NO doctors, I would have Belle at the midwife led unit in our local hospital.  

I was woken on the morning of the 26th June with major pains. I'd experienced small pains the day before, but this was it, she was coming.

After 8 hours of ball bouncing, deep breathing and bath soaking at home we decided, contractions 2 minutes apart, we were close.

After observation I was told I'd have an examination but they felt I was about 8cms from the strength and times of my contractions.  The birthing warrior inside me was overjoyed. I was so proud. I had done this, got this far, all by myself, as nature had intended.

The examination commenced...1/2cm...1/2cm dilated! I can not even begin to describe the heart aching disappointment I felt that second. But my inner birthing warrior was still present, so I continued, unaided, for 8 more long hours.

My waters still hadn't broken so they decided to break them for me after several uneventful examinations, I was still only around 4cms. I will never, ever forget the look on James' face when she did.  Shock, horror and disbelief all rolled into a reassuring smile, I knew him, I knew something was wrong.

I was rushed into the delivery suite quicker than I could say 'baby delivering super hero', from that second the birthing warrior was no more, it was taken out of my control.

Belle had been in distress, so we were hooked up to a heart monitor as the pain started to become unbearable. She was back to back in position.  More agonising hours passed and gas and air became my friend. More hours went by. Faces looked worried. More doctors appeared. A needle was used in several places. The heart monitor was making noises. The inner birthing warrior had turned into the frighted, 25 year old girl I truly was. In the mirror I could see the numbers on the heart monitor... dropping, dropping, getting higher, dropping again. The faces got more worried and panic filled the air. James was amazing and did his best to reassure me, but all I could see were those worried faces.

It was decided, I needed a c-section. I was heartbroken. I had watched so many births after my classes in preparation for this magical moment, birthing my first child. I got a grip, it needed to happen. At least I could still see her, still have skin to skin with her straight away, feel her against me the moment she is was out. James was sent to get scrubbed up.

I was alone, without my rock. Suddenly the faces changed from worry and concern to complete fear as the monitor made different noises. A piece of paper was shoved under my nose, I was asked to sign it. The comforting soundtrack that had been my daughters heartbeat was removed and within seconds I was being wheeled away, silence. James hadn't even come back into the room, we passed him in the corridor.

It was the silence, I couldn't hear her any more. It was worrying hearing the ups and downs but the silence, hearing nothing at all, I thought they had run out of time. I remember thinking 'wheel me quicker, hurry up!'

Face to the ceiling I could see people entering the room, lots of people. I closed my eyes. I sensed a doctor over me, I don't know what he said, but within moments I was gone.

4 hours later I woke up, and there she was in her daddy's arms, wrapped in a pink blanket. She was Isobelle Rose that day, later changed to Belle Rose. My daughter, my perfect, beautiful daughter.

We were one of only 6% of mothers and babies that suffer from a short umbilical cord. We were told that she had gone as far as she could have and was therefore in such distress as I tried to push her further.
But all was well, apart from a slight misshapen head, she was perfect.

In hospital still with Daddy
And so we were home, a new family, but why was I feeling guilt? Why was I feeling as though I had missed out?  I beat myself up about not delivering her 'properly' and was angery with myself that I had missed out on those first 4 hours, they had been taken away from me.

With time, the guilt surpassed, and I enjoyed being a first time mummy. The anger turned into joy, pride and thankfulness.  I was so lucky and honoured to have a healthy, beautiful baby, however she was delivered, it didn't matter.

I do wish I hadn't put so much pressure on myself to have 'a normal' birth. I shouldn't have been so insistent  on something that is so unpredictable. External pressures on first time mums are immense, every birth, baby, and pregnancy are different, there shouldn't be so much pressure to do any of it a certain way. I get angry when I hear people in the media talk about c-sections as -'the easy option' and the notion of  'too posh to push', some of us just didn't get the choice.    


Sunday, 27 February 2011

Mummy's day off - in search of Vera Wang

These shoes were made for shopping!
I had a mummy's day off last Sunday, grabbed my two best friends, flat shoes (which I had to purchase the day before, I'm not a flat shoe kinda gal!) and headed for the hysteria that was inevitable at... The National Wedding Show.

I was expecting it to be like a scene in friends, you know the one, Monica handing out whistles (my friend Sophie) Rachel hiding under a rack of dresses (my friend Gemma) and me, Phoebe, sitting on girls just to get THAT DRESS!  But it was a lot more 
placid than I expected, not a bitch fight in sight (slightly disappointing).

After an hour of browsing the standard booths of photographers, florists and venues, there it stood, like a beacon of light, I was a moth to it's flame, the VERA WANG sample sale! Now this is what I came for...  excitedly, I grabbed both their hands and raced over.

Browsing the racks, surrounded by women who looked like they could 
Kate Hudson in THE DRESS
actually afford the dresses I was drooling over, I found it.  The one from Bride Wars (well, it looked kinda like it, and the girl said it was similar.) To the changing room we headed... I was handed a pair of Jimmy Choos to try it on with, heaven.

As I looked at my reflection, and the two teary eyed best friends it the background, I felt like a princess.  Then my eyes were drawn to the little tag dangling from the side.  I won't disclose the figure, I wouldn't want to cause harm to anyone with a nervous disposition, let's just say it could feed a family for a year - and this was supposed to be a sample sale!? Suddenly I fell down to earth with a massive bang.  I made my excuses and promptly left, I obviously had to give my other half a call to confirm it was okay to purchase it and would be straight back (yeah right!).

I needed cheering up, so we went on the hunt for as many free cake and champagne samples as we could find.  After 3, ok maybe 6, champagne samples and a large glass of Pinot blush at lunch, I was back on it! Sod ruddy Vera Wang, let's find a venue.

I fancy a winter wedding, think boutique hotel, large fireplaces and a jazz band singing 'Let it Snow'. Simple yet sophisticated.  We had our brief, let the searching commence. Weddings in Dubai, nope, weddings in Cyprus, nope, stately homes, no no no!  Then we found it... The Olde Bell, tick, tick, tick! Minimum spend... £14,000! I must have looked shell shocked as she instantly started saying, 'well, we might be able to do something about the price if you had it mid week blah blah blah', I zoned out... £14,000!

I think James realised it hadn't gone well from the look on my face as I walked (well, sort of stomped) through the door.  'How'd it go?' he asked sheepishly.  I told him about the prices and we agreed to discuss it later.  After lots of cuddles with Belle, I was grounded, we did her bath and off she went to bed.  So we sat down to the review the day.

If James had his way we'd elope, just the two of us, then have a party on our return, so the prices I was throwing at him were (understandably) dismissed.  His opinion is that the money we'd spend on a 'party' (grrr, wedding!) we could spend on a bigger house, contributing to a better future for our family.  Damn it, why is he always right?  We'd love to have another baby in the next few years too so spending thousands on a wedding day (not party) does seem like, dare I say it, a waste.

The most important thing is that I become his wife, and I can't wait to be his wife.  Not only had he looked after Belle that day he had done the whole house and made her dinners for the next week, I'm one lucky lady.  But why can't I shake the little girl fantasy of a 'dream' wedding?   Not even a dream wedding... a small, 60 people, no sit down meal, no flowers, no bridesmaid, small elegant wedding. A 'semi dream' wedding if you will.  But even with the cut backs this option is still the difference between us having a 2 or 3 bedroom house.  I know I need to concede, but something inside is stopping me.

So, for now, no more Four Weddings, Wedding House or Don't tell the Bride on TV!  Thank you Vera Wang, for making me realise the truly important things in life, my baby girl and hubby to be - being a family, however and wherever we decide to get married.

My first Silent Sunday post...

Silent Sunday

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Time for exercise as a working mum - your joking right?

I did warn you about the pretty girls
Before Belle my idea of exercise was the calories I burnt in my skyscraper heels, dancing on a Saturday night, glass of wine in hand.  I had joined, not attended, and promptly cancelled, many a gym membership in my time as dinner and TV always seemed the better option, well... Eastenders was on!

Now, I need to exercise!  After having Belle by emergency c-section my tummy said bye bye flatness hello lumpy bumpy!  Not to mention the damage my love of chocolate Hob Nobs during pregnancy did to my thighs.

The thought of going to a gym, surrounded by fit, young, pre baby bodies scared me to death.  So once I got over my c-section I pulled out an old exercise DVD.  It's called 'Pump it up, hi-energy'.  Now, don't let the high energy bit fool you, I only do one section of this DVD a morning.  It takes 15 mins to do the section called 'tone it up' and let me tell you, tone it up it does!  Mr Mummy Bean is very happy.

I do the DVD after Belle has had her breakfast and she sits in her Bumbo and loves watching mummy make a fool of herself.  Then, after 15 mins, job done and I can get on with the rest of the day without thinking about exercise.  I also find by doing it in the morning it makes me not want to eat the naughty things (did I say my love of chocolate Hob Nob's was just a pregnancy thing...? woops)

I figure that I burn enough calories carrying 19lbs of baby up and down the stairs everyday to bother with the whole DVD, and living in a three storey town house, that's a lot of stairs.  Let alone all the aeroplane, swinging and lifting games.  Being a mummy is exercise enough, which is my excuse for skipping straight to the tone it up section, it's just a pain when a certain little bean has hidden the remote control.

I have in no way been asked or paid to promote this DVD, it's like 100 years old, but I would recommend it.  There are some very pretty girls doing the exercises half naked but I just pretend it's a mirror :)

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Becoming a mumpreneur, the story so far...

Thanks to everyone for your follows and comments so far.  Before I delve into posts about my opinions, reviews and general snippets of my life, I thought I would share with you my story so far...

As you know, i'm a new first time mummy and business starter, but how did I get to this point?

The adventure had just begun 
Flash back to September 2009, James and I touched down in Sydney after a booze fuelled jolly around Mexico, Vegas and LA.  With all our hopes, dreams and savings intact we had arrived down under, ready to start our new lives together in the sunshine. (ahhhh)

After some nightmare temp jobs (we even considered 'superhero' roles at a theme park, oh yes!) we both secured respectable jobs in the city, myself in Marketing and James in Training.  With hints from both employers of permanent sponsorship, weekends at the beach and moving from a flat share to our own pad just off the harbour bridge we thought... we've made it!

Then after ten days of being late, two days of feeling like death on the train to work and seven pregnancy tests later (six for me, one for James - just to make sure they were working) we found out we were pregnant!  Suddenly our whole world changed.

We decided to stay on in Sydney until I was 24 weeks, after which I wouldn't have been able to fly.  We enjoyed the sunshine, said farewell to new friends and headed back to the sub zero temperatures that awaited us at home that February.

We stayed with James' mum and dad whilst we served notice to the tenants renting our house (thank goodness we didn't sell up, now that's fate).  For the first time in my adult life I was jobless, and unemployable, with an ever growing bump no one was going to give me a job.  So once we got back in our house, I nested, but living on one income was becoming a problem.

Summer came and with it bought the World Cup, damn ruddy football!  I had no interest in being rolled from BBQ to BBQ in the blazing heat to watch what was inevitably going to be a national let down,  so I sulked at home, sweating.

I applied for maternity pay from the Government, I have worked all my adult life, paid my NI so I didn't think there would be a problem. How wrong was I! Two weeks before my due date I received a letter to say that I wasn't eligible.  As I had been out of the country I hadn't worked the required amount of weeks in my 'test period' in England, and Australia didn't count! I was 6 weeks off.  Gutted... how were we going to get by on one wage with a new baby?  

Exchanging Bondi for Skegness - two become three
Then came June 26th 2010, the birth of my beautiful baby daughter, Belle Rose.  It was a horrendous birth, of which I will go into more detail another time, but after an emergency c-section under general anaesthetic she was here!  Isn't it just the most amazing feeling, being a mummy!  We were both over joyed and any feeling of regret about giving up the Sydney dream subsided immediately when we looked into her eyes.

Amongst the joy of having this beautiful new born I couldn't shake the stress of money worries and the guilt I had from not providing towards the household income.  I have always been very independent and worked for my own things.  Suddenly we had to live to a tight budget, of which I wasn't contributing.  I didn't like it one bit!  I knew I had to take ownership of my own destiny, so, when Belle was 10 weeks old I decided to go freelance, and baby number 2 was born...

And the rest, as they say, is history.  I have been working freelance ever since whilst looking after Belle full time, and I'm loving it!

I hope you'll stay with me as I share with you my continued journey of working motherhood, James adoring and Vera Wang wedding dress hunting!


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The wonders of being a freelance working mummy

5 months pregnant in Sydney
I spent this morning being interviewed on film about becoming an entrepreneur and a working mummy, apparently I'm a great case study for both :)

You see I set my marketing freelance service up when Belle was 10 weeks old.  After that short time I knew I didn't want to go back to work full time but knew I needed to work. We fell pregnant whilst living in Australia so I had to leave my job there as a Marketing and Sponsorship Executive and wasn't entitled to maternity pay from the Government when we got home as we had been out of the country too long (don't get me started, I'll tell you about that another time)  So... was born and I have been taking on freelance work from home ever since.

But how do you juggle work and baby...?  Be organised!  Be upfront! and ask for help when you need it!

Whilst being interviewed today I realised what a great position I am in.  I'm upfront with my clients, they know I have Belle full time and that she comes first.  Therefore I get the best of both worlds, the ability to organise my week around Sure Start classes and play dates whilst still actively using my business skills and contributing to the household, UK economy and wedding dress fund (Vera Wang in my dreams!)

I am lucky and if I have meetings to go to, or days I need to be at events both Belle's nannies can help out, or James will schedule time off when he can. But, for the majority, I work around Belle so I can enjoy her and we can spend time together.

Setting up your own business may sound scary and doing so with a 10 week old baby may sound pure crazy but I am so glad that I did and would encourage any new mum to do the same.  Being your own boss is a great way to ensure you spend as much time as you want with your little one.  It works for me, and maybe it can work for you too!

I don't think working mums get enough good press.  People shouldn't make us feel guilty that we are not with our children 24/7.  Children acquire great social skills whilst attending nurseries and day cares and flourish by having a happy and contented working mummy.  So here's to us!

I would love to hear your working mum stories.  Do you work full time?  Do you feel guilty about being a working mum?

Watch this space for a sneak peak of the film I was featured in today.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Introducing Mummy Bean...


I thought I would start with a quick intro...  Mummy Bean is one of my many hats as well as Marketing Bean,(my other blog about, you guessed it, marketing).  This hat is just a bit fluffier, warmer and fits perfectly!

I am mummy to the beautiful Belle Rose, who is now fast approaching 8 months old.  I work from home as a marketing freelancer and have Belle full time... busy bean!  I'm due to get married to the love of my life sometime soon, there's a ring on it, just need to save those pennies!

Join me as I embark on the new adventures of being a first time mummy and first time business woman, laugh with me, share with me, and occasionally just tell me I'm doing ok!

Here to support, inform and share all things mummy, we have to stick together!