Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day 2017

I have spent my life being told I am too much. Too chatty, too loud, too fat, too open, too over the top, just too much. But I will not shrink and I will not be silenced. It is my responsibility to be who I am not just for me but for my daughter and for all the other women in this world who do not have a voice. I consider myself lucky to have been born when and where I was and to tick the boxes that I do. I can live my life independently and I am in charge and control of my life. Yes, I have things to overcome and contend with; existing in a fat body in a fatphobic world, my mental health, my grief and simply being female are all things that present challenges but the very fact I am able to say those out loud is a privilege. I am aware of how fortunate and privileged I am when so many others are not. Equality may be a work in progress but I personally have freedoms and opportunities some women can only dream of. 

Credit: Veronica Dearly

99% of the most important people in my life identify as women. Each and every one of them are different; they have different opinions, different values, come from different walks of life, have different experiences and different things to offer. This day always makes me emotional and when I sat and thought about all the women in my life earlier I felt overwhelmed. I honestly could not list all the women who inspire me, who I am proud to know and who I love deeply. I am part of many communities of women, plus size women, bloggers, mums, loss mum, rainbow mums, but the thing they all have in common? They are all strong, supportive and bold. And each of them inspire me in their own way so thank you, women of my life, for being you. 

To women everywhere, whoever you are, however you present, you are important, you are valued and you have worth.

And to my daughter. My already fiesty, independent, funny girl. Thinking about you and what you are capable of lights a fire in me I didn't know what there. At six months old I know you inside and out and yet I am still learning who you are. I am almost certain that you've inherited the fire the women in our family hold and for that I am grateful. I cannot wait to teach you all I know, to lift you up and watch you flourish. I am so very lucky to be your mama and whatever choices you make, whatever and whoever you are and will be, I will be right beside you at every step. 

Mrs D x


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Our Must-Have Baby Books

I was such a bookworm as a child. Whilst most kids were being told off for watching cartoons before school I was being told off for still being in a towel from the shower when it was time to leave because I wanted to read one more chapter. My love for books is something I've always been excited to pass on to my children. 

Reading with children from an early age is important for both their development in terms of language and reading skills and their imagination. We perhaps took it a bit too far and started reading to both our babies before they were even born! I've mentioned before that Haydn reading to my Aneurin bump is one of my most treasured memories and we made sure we carried that on with Lily. And from just days old her daddy has read her a story every night. At nearly five months old it's a solid part of her bedtime routine and is becoming one of her favourite activities during the day too. Whereas the combination of the inflection in our voices and the bright pictures used to just catch her attention enough to listen and look intently, she's recently started squealing and reaching out to touch the pages. It's lovely to see and I can't wait to see what sort of relationship she has with reading as she gets older. 

Despite not being five months old yet, Lily already has quite the book collection. We tend to stick to the same ones at bed time, usually ones with repetition and rhyming because they seem to calm her. So much so in fact that Haydn has started to recite 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' word for word when she's grumbling and it almost always makes her stop! 

Here are our favourite baby (and children's) books to read with Lily. A lot of them are ones we loved as children with a few new classics thrown in for good measure.

Can't You Sleep Little Bear?

Spot's First Walk
(This is a special one because it was given to me on my first Christmas in 1987!)

I'd love to hear what your favourite books are to read with your children and if there are any you think we need to add to our collection! 

Mrs D x

*This post contains affiliate links.


Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016: The Year of Rebuilding

2016, a year that brought so much tragedy and difficulty to the world as a whole. A year in which my heart was already broken, broke even more but eventually filled with more love than I could have imagined. Whilst the world lost icons and celebrities, my family lost some of our very beloved own. I've continued to grieve for Aneurin in new and more complex ways and I fought my way through an impossibly anxious pregnancy. I've also sadly witnessed countless families join our community of baby loss and forced to learn how to walk this path.

But amongst the darkness, there has been light. Precious babies have arrived safely, friends have been made, souls have met and most importantly, people have survived. We've put one foot infront of the other and that deserves to be celebrated because life is bloody difficult at the best of times, let alone when things are falling apart on a global scale.  

Last year I desperately didn't want that clock to tick over to 00:00. I wanted Aneurin to be 'this year' not 'last year' and now again, I am struggling with the fact that he won't even be 'last year'. I feel like the more time that passes, the less I am allowed to grieve. I know though, that time means nothing. Aneurin is as present in our family as ever and a new year can't change that. 

It goes without saying (but I'm going to anyway) that Lilian is the greatest part of this year. I will never be able to say this year was awful because it gave me her. This bright eyed, inquisitive, cheeky little girl has swept us completely off our feet. Even when it's 3am, her eyes have pinged open for the 9th time and I'm so exhausted I can feel tears prick at my eyes before they're even open, when I see her in the dark grinning that open mouthed smile that makes her ears twitch and her nose crinkle, my heart feels like it might burst with love. I can't believe there was a time when she didn't exist, it feels like she's always been here somehow just waiting for us. Waiting to come and breathe life back into us. 

Once again I'm torn between not wanting time to pass and feeling hopeful for what it might bring. I'm still so apprehensive about the future, so afraid of looking forward in case more pain lies ahead but maybe that's okay. Maybe I don't need to wonder what 2017 is going to bring. Just sitting in this moment, focusing on what is infront of me is more than enough and right now, the world doesn't look so bad. 

Wishing you all hope, light and peace for the coming year. 

Mrs D x

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Plus Size Boobin' - ASOS Curve Ditsy Dress

If I thought finding plus size maternity clothes was hard, the lack of plus size breastfeeding friendly clothes is on a whole other level. As such, since having my little boob fiend my clothing options have become severely limited. (And don't even get me started on big cup nursing bras...) The dresses that made up the majority of my wardrobe have been packed away and the struggle to find clothes I can easily and quickly flop a boob out in is very real. Thankfully over the last couple of years I've become friends with jeans again (infact, I posted about my first foray into full length jeans in years in 2014!) meaning I mostly do the 'one up, one down' method of wearing a long vest top under regular tops. I simply lift the top up and pull my vest down along with my bra and voila, easy to feed in and my tummy doesn't get cold/turn everyone in a five mile radius to stone.

However, I miss dresses. I miss flouncing and swishing about and general feeling like myself. In order to be able to breastfeed in dresses they either need to be an unstitched wrap or button down style. Annoyingly these are far and few between (or at least, the ones I actually like are) but I do have a couple of dresses I've found that I really like.

My favourite is this Ditsy Button Through Dress from ASOS Curve. I saw it on George from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust's Instagram and after zooming in on her boobies (thanks for that feature, IG) I realised it had buttons and therefore needed to be mine. 

Despite looking a bit like Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, I LOVE it. I got my usual size 24 and although the material isn't stretchy, there's more than enough room with two buttons undone to get my huge boob out. The buttons have held up really well with being undone all the time which I'm pleased with because I was worried they'd get a bit loose and considering I forget to do my bra back up most of the time I'm at high risk of flashing. 

I'm struggling with my two-babies-in-two-years-mummy-tummy at the minute so the fact that it's loose around my hips and hangs so beautifully is very welcome. To give it a little more shape though, I added a thin belt. I normally couldn't give a hoot about cinching in my waist but I wasn't keen on the shape without it. I was also pleasantly surprised by the length as normally midi dresses are just dresses on me and my long legs but this is genuinely mid-calf. (As a side note, my two best friends were saying how much they wanted this dress and amusingly one is 6ft1 and the other is about 5ft2 so between the three of us we'd probably end up with one maxi dress, one midi and one regular length!) 

plus size breastfeeding friendly dress

I'm not very good at styling clothes if I'm honest so I stick to wearing it with thick woolly tights from the Big Tights Company, my favourite burgundy wide fit Chelsea boots from Simply Be and a soft knit cardigan from Yours. It feels very seasonally appropriate and it's definitely one of my newer outfits that makes me feel a bit more me. 

plus size breastfeeding friendly dress

Mrs D x

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Rainbow Baby Update - Lilian at 2 Months

rainbow baby update two months old

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?! Everyone tells you how quickly time passes when they're here but you have to live it to really believe it. It seems crazy how those last few weeks of pregnancy dragged, wrought with anxiety and fear that we would never get to this point, and now I feel like I've blinked and ten weeks have passed yet on the other hand I can barely remember life before!

I wish I had written a couple of these posts before now because Lily has changed so rapidly but it turns out having a newborn is really quite time consuming! And on the off chance that she naps for longer than half an hour during the day, I'm using that time to eat, go to the toilet or tidy up. It's only now we're getting into some semblance of a routine (ick, that word makes me shudder...) that I can sit down and find time to do a few more 'me' things.

Lilian arrived a little earlier than planned at 37+1, after five long days in hospital prior to her birth. I'm going to write her birth plan at some point in far more detail but the short version is there were a few concerns about her growth and my health so I was admitted and labour was induced. Despite labour taking four days to get started the end she arrived very quickly in less than four hours from my first contraction to her slippery body being placed on my chest! Every worry, fear and anxiety vanished the second I laid eyes on her. (It returned pretty soon after but they were different ones!) She completely stole my heart and those first few hours of her life will remain the greatest of mine forever.

It's been incredible to see her develop so much in such a short space of time. She started as this teeny, scrunchy, fragile little thing who only fed (a LOT), slept and pooed and within days she was alert and noticing things. I loved those first few days of alertness where she looked permanently suspicious with her furrowed little brow and narrowed eyes. Now she is wide awake, intrigued in everything and constantly discovering new things.

We had our first proper smile at four weeks old. She had woken up for a feed and as I reached over to her she beamed at me! At first I wasn't sure if I had just imagined it because it was dark but when she did it again at the next feed I knew that smile was all for me and my boobies! Since then she has been full of toothless, eye-crinkly grins that even on my worst days fill me with such joy.

Shortly after her first smile Lily began to interact with the toys on her play gym. She had been quite happily laying there for a couple of weeks gazing at the bright colours but one day she suddenly started whacking the toys with her hands. The first few times she did it we wrote it off as coincidence but soon she started grinning after she did it and the movements were happening repeatedly. It certainly didn't take her long to realise that waving her limbs around meant things danced around and now, a few weeks later she's started to grab!

Her favourite toy is her Lamaze Purring Percival. She can spend a good half an hour in her Fisher-Price Rainforest Rocker batting Percival, grinning, cooing and yelping at him. The Lamaze toys are a definite favourite in this house, their bright colours and interactivity are so appealing to little eyes. Although she loves Percival, she isn't as much of a fan of her rocker as I thought she'd be. She much prefers her play mat where she can kick her legs and roll around. The Baby Einstein Nautical Play Mat was one of the first things I bought for her whilst I was pregnant. I was incredibly apprehensive about buying things but Mothercare had £50 off it (RRP is £80!) and I couldn't let it pass. I'm so glad I did because Lily loves it! Especially if we turn the starfish on. It plays tunes and lights up in time to the music and she goes absolutely nuts for it! She kicks her legs like crazy and squawks and yelps, it's amazing to watch.

For the first eight days of Lily's life I survived (I'm using that term loosely...) on a maximum of two hours sleep every 24 hours and it was hell. I had spent five days in hospital where I didn't sleep due to having to wake to do my blood sugars every two hours for 48 hours and being monitored very regularly so I was already running low on reserves. Add into that a quickly developing pain-relief-free labour that took every ounce of my energy, the stress from the feeding issues we were having and the overwhelming emotions I was feeling at having my rainbow baby, I was quite the mess. For the first few days of Lily's life she wouldn't sleep unless it was someone (and quite rightly considering she'd just spent 37 weeks tucked up nice and snug in my tummy) but my awful anxiety meant I was terrified to let her sleep on Haydn in case he fell asleep and she fell off him. Even when she did sleep I was too scared to sleep in case something happened to her. Day eight was a turning point when I had a bit of a breakdown, mostly induced by a delightful dose of mastitis and the breastfeeding stress reaches its peak. After that things seemed to get a little easier. I don't know if it was just because I'd reached peak crazy and got it all out or whether Lily simply adjusted a bit more to life earth-side but the intensity lifted somewhat.

In terms of sleep we've been incredibly lucky. Lily slept through the night for the first time at six weeks and bar a few nights has gone from 10pm to 5.30am since. Up until around eight weeks Lily slept in her Sleepyhead inside her Snuzpod but despite the Sleepyhead being suitable for up to eight months, she seemed to grow out of it very quickly. It was invaluable in those first few weeks though and we're thinking now about investing in the larger size. Lily settles at night quite easily which I'm very grateful for! She'll stir a few times from around 4am but all I need to do is lay my hand on her chest or pop her dummy in and she goes straight back off again. I love the Snuzpod for being able to do that so easily I barely have to open an eye myself!

Lily latched on easily soon after she was born and I hoped that was the start of problem-free breastfeeding but after a couple of days at home I realised it was going to be a lot harder than I thought. I'm going to write our breastfeeding journey down in the next month or so so I won't go into too much detail but we had a very difficult start. I had a low supply combined with the fact that she was jaundice and very, very sleepy, a quick birth, a posterior tongue tie, high palate and a bought of mastitis meant she lost quite a bit of weight and thus the first few weeks of Lily's life were incredibly stressful. We introduced formula top ups after every breast feed in the second week of her life and I started to do everything I possibly could to build my supply. At seven weeks we started to reduce the formula top ups and we are now down to just one feed per day needing to be topped up which we do with breastmilk. For weeks I wasn't able to express much more than an oz at a time but for the last week or so something has changed and I'm able to get around 4oz which is perfect. It also means Haydn can give her a feed. Thankfully, the intense stress and guilt I felt around feeding at the beginning of her life has definitely eased now and I'm not opposed to keep a tub of formula around should we ever need it. She's been brilliant with taking both breast and a bottle (and a dummy!) with no confusion whatsoever so that's not a worry anymore either.

At her last weigh in Lily was 11lbs exactly. She was 7lb 5oz at birth and up until last week she was following the 50th centile line nicely. However, she didn't put any weight on last week so she dropped a little. We've been having her weighed every week whilst reducing the formula when really she should only be weighed every three so the health visitor wasn't too concerned because it may balance out again. I'm trying not to worry too much but it's hard! She's a very lean baby due to how incredibly long she is but has some seriously delicious thigh rolls and Lego wrists!

Lilian has completely changed our lives and ten weeks later I still cannot quite believe she is here and ours to keep. She is such a joy and seeing her little face look over at me first thing in the morning and break into a big grin makes my heart feel like it might explode. She has helped us heal in ways I could never have imagined. I feel impossibly lucky to be her mama.

Mrs D x
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