Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Tadhg's Birth Story

Canavan family of 5!
As I learned quite quickly after Fionn, most people don't want to hear a positive birth story. It's almost as if you're shamed for having an 'easy' time of it, and you're 'bragging' and giving people 'false hope'.

DaithÍ and I,
12 hours before Tadhg was born
As I learned after Daithí, most people love to hear the horror stories, everyone has an awful story to share, each one more traumatic than the last, as if it's a competition. Growing up in Ireland, with a maternity health care system like something from the dark ages, believe me, I've heard my share of horror stories.
It's not wonder women are terrified of giving birth.

So indulge me if you will, I want to share a story of how my perfect birth went. This is in no way to brag, or to shame, and it was definitely not without work. But a positive birth story has an importance that reaches further than the family involved. I know had I been able to find a positive story to read before my first, or if I had known of a friend or family member who shared a great story, I wouldn't have been so fearful and blinded by the misconceptions that birth is this awful ordeal, that we're constantly fed. (Think OBEM!)

At the start of the pregnancy I  made no secret of the fact I wasn't happy. I was suffering PND from Daithí, and was finding it hard to accept a unplanned pregnancy. I knew I had to do something seriously about my mental health. (Again another thing that isn't helped by the Irish attitude to shush up and hide MH issues)

I was referred to the gym and Slimming World by my health Visitor after Daithí, which really helped my overall mood, so decided to stick to this throughout the pregnancy.
I pushed my midwife to refer me to the perinatal team, and was assigned a councilor who worked wonders for me.
Shane and I also made the decision to take a Hypnobirthing course.
This three prong approach if you will; body, mind and relationship laid the foundations for everything I needed for a calm and relaxed birth.

On top of Mount Brandon,
14 weeks pregnant 
Physically, I was fitter and healthier through this pregnancy than I had the previous two. I was surfing at 10 weeks, did the Wolf Run at 12 weeks, and hiked 75km with dEBra at 14 weeks. I wasn't sick half as much, I didn't gain excess weight, and wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as I had been before.
But mentally there was still a lot going on. The biggie, being the house move, 8 weeks before due date.
The last week of pregnancy was busy to say the least. We're having building work done in the house, I was in a stand off with my moving company and Ikea waiting deliveries. And I was organising the end of year awards evening for my football club. My parents were over for the weekend to babysit so I could actually go to the event. Needless to say I was stressed.

At the Dinner Dance
36 Hours before Tadhg was born
I knew from my hypnobirthing, that I had too much adrenaline in my system to go into labour before the awards evening, and was joking all week that as soon as the night was over, and I allowed myself to relax, baby would arrive. I wasn't wrong.

I made it to the  event, I even managed to find a dress that fit me. Sure enough, the next day I started to feel things getting going. I actually said to my Dad before dropping him to the airport, that it was going to be today. At about 9pm I started getting a little excited. I wasn't 100% sure, but knew I needed to make sure there was someone in the house with the kids, should I need to be transfered to hospital. so I rang my cousin to come and stay. Niall and Sarah arrived at 10.45, already in PJs, ready for bed. They were happy to just go to bed with an alarm set for work. We even joked as I made them tea, how chilled out I was.

Shane did a guided meditation with me at 11pm and I went to sleep. At 3.30am I woke up unable to sleep through the contractions. I timed them in bed for half an hour, they were 3 minutes apart, and lasting a minute each. Knowing from Fionn and Daithí that my labours are quick, I thought it best to ring the hospital.
I rang the hospital at 4.10am, and they said they'd send the midwife straight out.
So I instructed Shane to clean up the last of Fionn's train tracks and move the car off the drive so the midwife had somewhere to park. (There was a skip there from the extension, so not much room!!)

I took this picture 8 hours before Tadhg was born!
I knew he was on his way, and this would be the last ever pregnant picture I took.

I then pottered around setting up the living room, covering the sofa (that has finally arrived from Ikea 3 days previous) and floor with shower curtains and towels, lighting candles and getting an area in the dining room ready for the midwives. We had set up the TV to play the HB tracks, and these played in the background for the whole thing.

Alex arrived at 4.45am, she did my obs and everything was good. I was 5cm dilated with budging membranes, and she was happy to let me and Shane get on with it. At this stage I was leaning on a high book case and rocking back and forth, with Shane holding my back and counting my breathing though each contraction.

I moved then to a kneeling position resting on the sofa, where Shane did another guided meditation with me. He's convinced I fell asleep during each contraction, I don't quite remember it like that, but I was definitely in a deep state of relaxation.
The urge to push came after about 30mins of this, but because of the cold I had been fighting for the last 8 weeks had my nose so blocked, I knew I had to blow it so I could breath properly. Alex handed me a tissue and as soon as I blew my nose that was it!
Membranes bulged out like a water balloon, I had a very uncomfortable feeling in my back that wasn't passing with the contractions, so I moved into a more upright position, kneeling on the sofa, leaning over the arm. On the next contraction I pushed and my waters went and with them came the head. On the next contraction and a gentle push Tadhg was born at 5.40am. I felt an incredibly empowering calm come over me. I paused to gather myself before Alex passed him through my legs and I scooped him up to me.

Tadhg Canavan, born 06/11/17, 5.40am 7lbs 15oz
I moved back onto the floor to deliver the placenta, which was quick, easy and painless. The NHS now practice optimal cord clamping, as standard, so I knew I didn't need to ask. Once the cord had stopped pulsating, Alex clamped it, and Shane cut it. I had Tadhg on my chest for the whole thing, and he fed straight away.

Everything was so calm and relaxed when the second midwife arrived. She even commented on how well I looked (I still had my hair up and tan on from the dinner dance). At this stage we realised everyone upstairs had slept through everything. Shane text Niall to tell him Tadhg had been born, to save him the shock walking into the living room full of midwifes and a baby!

I could hear the kids starting to stir at about 7am, so I left Shane to dress Tadhg and I went to get them. As soon as Fionn saw me, he put his hands on my stomach and said 'Your belly is so small Mammy'. My heart melted when I saw his little face light up as I told him his baby brother was downstairs.

My 3 Boys
2 Hours after giving birth
Shane & Tadhg
Tadhg & I

The rest of the day was spent feeding, dozing on the sofa, and calling family in Ireland. It was so perfectly calm and relaxed. 7 weeks out, I don't feel like I've come down from that high. The whole experience had left me feeling so strong and in awe of what I'm capable of. Shane was the most amazing support, and I feel we're in a better place than we've ever been together. Fionn and Daithí love their baby brother, and I really feel like our family is now complete.

I could not have done it without the amazing support of my WiseHippo Hypno-birthing Instructor Bernie. She came to the house for classes, and worked around timings with the kids. She even picked up on how much anguish I was holding onto after Daithí's birth.We worked through everything, and I feel completely alleviated of all the guilt, shame and trauma I had been carrying around the last 2 years. Here's her Website.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Hospital Bag Number 3

Even though I'm planing a home birth this time round, it is still advisable to have a 'hospital' bag packed.
One, on the off chance you actually have to go into the hospital.
And Two, so that everything you need is easily accessible and you're not having to direct your midwife/ partner/ friend to the second drawer on the left to find the baby a vest or you a pair of pants.

Two is especially important for me, as my husband can't seem to find anything, even when it's directly in-front of him.
I'll give you a laugh for an example; last night while I was doing bed time, Daithí escaped and walked into Shane in our bed room calling 'Dad, Dad, Dad'. I called in, 'Shane, can you grab Daithí there please', his response 'yeah, where is he?', (?!$%^*) Seriously? He's at the foot of the bed you're currently sitting on!

Anyway, you'd image packing my 3rd hospital bag, I'd be a dab hand, but I'm still learning.
This is what I've included this time.

Baby's Bag
I used my Yummy Mummy Changing Bag

15 newborn nappies (Aldi Mamia)
Cotton Pads (in a lunch box, ready for water to be added) I't's advised not to use anything other than cotton wool and water on a baby for the first 6 months of their lives, as their skin is too delicate and sensitive. Even products that say 'from birth' contain chemicals that are just not necessary, and can cause nappy rash. It's also cheaper!!)
1 Towel
1 Blanket
5 Burp Cloths (I found these in Dunnes on Daithí, I don't know what they're technically called, but I love them! Perfect for covering the top of your boob while feeding for a little bit of modesty, super soft for wiping milk off babies face, and just the right size to put on your shoulder while burping)
5 Small Muslin Squares
1 Large Muslin Square
3 outfits (vest, baby-grow, cardigan) wrapped in individual sandwich bags. This is something I read recently, and went to repack my bag to do. It keeps the vest, baby grow, cardigan and hat all together, so that whoever is with you, can take a bag, and everything is in it ready to go.
Especially important for us, see point two above.
A little side note about scratch mittens, I wouldn't bother. Most, if not all first size baby grows have built in scratch mittens that fold down over the hands, so no faffing about trying to keep them on.
Also remember, babies are NOT meant to wear puffy jackets/ snow suits in the car. Even if you're having your baby in the middle of winter, layers of clothes and blankets are better than big jump suit. Yes they look adorable, but they're not safe for the car.

My Bag
I used a small, carry-on size suitcase

1 Water Bottle (one with a sports cap, this was my only form of pain relief on Fionn, as the Gas&Air made me feel sick, the cold water was amazing!)
1 Bath Towel (Dark Brown)
1 Hand Towel (Dark Brown)
4 Face Clothes (two different colours, for your face, and for your foof!)
1 Pack of Big Pants (I just bought cheap ones that can be thrown out rather than the awful disposable ones)
Sanitary Pads (Always NightTime are the best I've found)
Breast Pads (Even if you're not planning on feeding, you'll need some for when your milk comes in)
2 String Tops (I wear a H&M Nursing Top, day and night, they offer a little support without a bra, so welcome when your milk comes in and you feel like a block of cheese!)
1 Night Dress
1 Wrap Around Cardigan (rather than a bulky dressing gown, maternity hospitals are HOTT)
1 Pair of comfy Pjs (Pennys/Primark, Navy and Disposable)
1 Pair Maternity Jeans, 1 Feeding Bra, 1 Nursing/Maternity Top, 1 Hoodie (You may not even want to get dressed going home, but don't for a second think you'll fit back into anything pre-pregnancy, I was horrified to learn you leave the hospital just as swollen and bloated as you went in! So pack a going home outfit for comfort)

A Wash Bag Containing
Cotton Pads, Cleanser, Eye Cream, Moisturizer, Cotton Buds
Tooth-brush & Toothpaste
Dry Shampoo, Hair Brush, Bobbins, Clips, Hair-Band

Other things I plan on bringing, but wont be packed, as I'm using them daily are;
Pregnancy Notes & 'Plan B' - My not a birth plan one sheet, outlining a few things I'd like to keep inmind.
Birth Ball (Most hospitals have their own, but I'm an abnormally tall person, so need my giant one)
Pregnancy Pillow (Hopefully I wont be in for long enough to need it to get comfortable, but decent pillows are a rare commodity on a labour/ post labour ward)
Hypno-birth music

Shane's Bag
(Is yet to be packed, although I've left instructions, so will probably be an Asda carrier bag, if it gets packed at all)
1 T-shirt
1 Boxers & Socks
Toothbrush & Deodorant
Phone Charger
Pj Bottoms (Our hospital has just introduced a Mum+1 policy, meaning Dads can stay over, so something more comfortable than his usual Jeans may be necessary)
Hypno-birth scripts & Music
Water and Snacks (Shane left while I was in labour on Daithí to get a pizza, that was when things started going wrong, bleeding, low blood pressure, etc. I lost control of my head. He's been warned he's not leaving me by myself this time)

Obviously, everyone will have their own priorities when it comes to what they want/ need to bring. This is just what I know I'll need from experience.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Hyperemesis and Me

This is the full piece I wrote for HerFamily.ie
They didn't edit much to be fair, but I think this sounds a bit more true to my voice. 

1. Tell me about your experience with HG
It was awful. I knew I was pregnant before even having to do a test, because the vomiting started. I thought I had a bug at first, but after 2 weeks of getting sick every day I knew I was pregnant. I had my booking in appointment with my midwife at 8 weeks. I fainted while having my bloods taken and was transferred to A&E by ambulance. After a course of IV fluids I was discharged home to rest. I was dehydrated and exhausted. This continued the whole way through the pregnancy. I was sick morning, noon and night. I would wake up getting sick. It got to the point that I was afraid to eat anything, or I'd eat things that I knew were easier to get back up. Because everything came back up. I tried to get on with it. I went about my day as best I could when I had the energy, you do what you have to do when your a Mam but it definitly took it's toll. 
2. Although it's different for everyone, can you describe what it was like to go through for you personally?
Physically it was draining. I had an energetic toddler, who didn't stop. There were days I physically didn't have the energy to stand up, let alone carry him down stairs, so I'd hear him calling from hisbed in the morning, and I'd crawl to his room and lay on his floor with him playing around me till my husband came home from work. 
I lost 11KG from my 8 week booking in appointment to my 6 week post partum check up. I was having scans every 3 weeks to make sure Daithí was ok. At one stage, I had lost 1KG between scans, but he had gained 1.5KG, so I was in negative weight. 
Emotioally it was even more challanging. 
There were people (and I'm talking family as well as strangers) who would scold me for feeling down and constantly remind me that I was lucky to be pregnant and that women would kill to be in my shoes. 
What ever about how physically draining it was, it was the emotional stress that I found worse Somethimes you just need to be acknowledged that things aren't going according to plan, and youre aloud struggle with that.I stopped talking about how I felt, and would play down my symptoms, because it was easier than having to listen to everyone. 
3. Did it continue for your entire pregnancy?
Yes, from day one, untill after Daithí was born. I had a cup of tea and some toast about an hour after he was born, and within minutes had puked it back up. I didn't eat then until the next morning, and was fine!!
The muscle damage from the constant retching and vomiting is still evident, and took a few months for the pain to die down.  
4. Were you hospitalised and if so, for how long?
Yes, in total I spent 6 weeks in hospital. I was taken by ambulance twice. I fully fainted 3 times, and had countless spells of such low blood pressure that I almost passed out. Daithí's heartrate would drop, every time my blood pressure did, and I rushed to labour ward twice fearing an early delivery would be necessary. A midwife explained, that there was nothing in my system to keep me going, so my body went into survival mode. Pulling resourses from the extremities and just focusing on the vitals. It was like turing a computer off and on again. I'd get blurred vision, get dizzy and have to sit down. Then when my body realised I was ok, I would slowly be able to start doing things again. 
5. What treatment were you given/offered? (Medical and natural)
I was given every pill under the sun, but I'd puke them up as soon as I swallowed them. It was only when I was in hospital, and was given anti-sickness medicated Cyclizine through an IV that it made any difference. I would still retch, but I was able to keep small amounts of food down. 
I was given IV fluids daily while in hospital, and every week or two throughout the pregnancy. 
Everyone who heard I was sick thought their home remedies would be the answer; ginger buscuits, crackers, flat 7up. When in reality I couldn't even hold down my own saliva!! If one more person suggested a dry cream cracker, and I'd have had the strength I'd have killed them. 
One of the more bizarre suggestions, was to crawl around the house like a cat, as mimicing what a pregnant cat does, should stop me getting sick. 
In my desperation I tried it. 
It did not work.
6. How many children do you have? Did it happen through all of your pregnancies?
This was my second pregnancy. I had a mild version of Hypermesis from 20-42 weeks on my first pregnancy, but on my second it started from day one. I am now 32 weeks into my third, and I haven't been sick. It's bizarre how different every pregnancy can me. This pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, I definitly never would have intentioally tried to get pregnant so soon, after how aawful the last one was. 
7. Did you have to take time off work? If so, how much did it interfere with your job?
Yes, I had to come out of work, I was signed off with long term sickness, and depression. This meant I had to start my maternity leave early. I ended up being made redundant the week Daithí was born. It was very sly on the part of my employer, but I didn't have the mental or emotional capacity at the time to fight it. My husband also had to come out of work for a month to mind Fionn while I was in hospital. 
8. What advice would you offer other women with HG?
Push for a diagnosis. Doctors, especially male are too quick to dismiss us, so you sometimes need to shout to have your voice heard. Report everything. Keep a sickness diary if you must, and show it to every health care professional you see. 
Also, seek out support. Prefrably from people who have experienced it. It is very hard for people to understand, unless they've lived it. From my experience, although often said with the best of intentions, some peoples 'support' and 'advice' can make you feel worse. 
9. Do you think there is enough support available in Ireland for women with HG? How do you think this can be improved even further? 
I am in the UK, but I know from FB support groups, there is no where near enough support for women in either country. I think awarness among health care professionals as well as the general public is the best way forward. HG is not just morning sickness. It's not just an inconvenienct part of pregnancy. It's debilitating and potentially dangerous. In extreem cases it can cause iriversable dammage, and needs to be taken seriously. Women's health, especially maternal health in Ireland is treated apawlingly, and I think that is the root of the issue.  
10. Had you heard about it before you experienced it personally
Only that Kate Middelton had it on Prince George a few months before I got pregnant on Fionn, I had never heard of it before. I don't think a lot of people had. I'm glad she's being open about it, and not pretending everything it ok. I don't know if it's the case of another taboo subject relating to pregnancy, like miscarriage or fertility issues, or depression, that we're not supposed to talk about. but the more people who do, the easier it will be for those coming after them. 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

It's been the Longest Week, and it's Only Wednesday

So I might have been a little too hard on myself this week, and beat myself up a bit for not being more organised with the kids going back to nursery, but after a very positive appointment with my mental health team ('finally', I hear some cry!) I'm going to focus on what I have achieved this week.

Monday I got Fionn, Daithí and I home safe, by myself on the boat.
It was a 8.45am sailing, so I packed the car up the night before, topped up the Oil, Diesel and checked the pressure in the tires, ready to hit the road at 6am to make sure I was there good and early enough to get a decent spot.

Typically it was the one morning both kids were still snoring, and I had to lift them straight into the car.
We had a nice breakfast in the terminal, and managed to get a table on the boat. Luckily beside a family with two kids the same age as mine, on their way to Thomas Land.

Much like blokes can instantly bond over a pint and a football match in the pub, 3.5year old boys will instantly bond over juice and Thomas the Tank Engine. Fionn shared all this trains, and told them everything about his favorite place in the world. I was so proud of his communication and sharing.

The drive from Holyhead home was actually grand, and I made good time. I was quite proud of myself, not something I frequently admit to.

Tuesday I chased the bank, solicitors and estate agents, and finally got an exchange on the house, movers booked and paid for, and kids nursery sorted for the year. I had to laugh when my cousin commented that after weeks of delays, I was back in the country a day and everything got sorted.
I should have come back sooner!!

I also managed more packing and sorting in the 48 back in England than Shane has in the 6 weeks I was away, so I'm marking that up to a win for me. I've been shit at talking to friends, but I have spoken to every single one of our service providers and sorted out the change of address with practically everyone. All that's left are the people who refuse to talk to me because accounts are in Shane's name, but I've written him a list. I do love a good list!!

A Long List and A Big Bump

I genuinely feel like the entire burden of the move, and pregnancy and everything that goes with it has been weighing on my shoulders but I could feel it physically lighten once I got confirmation of exchange. Now there'e the actual move to contend with. I'll be here by myself, so I can coordinate everything, so I'm hoping it goes much smoother than the last 6 months of hic-ups.

Maybe the 2 coffees yesterday were deserved

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Our Month in Ireland

As my month in Ireland is coming to an end, it's struck me how completely different a trip I actually had compared to what was planned.

30 Weeks
27 Weeks

The bump has appeared for sure! But we've been up to a lot more. 

We were supposed to be moving house back in July, so I planned to take the kids to Ireland for a few weeks, and let Shane deal with the move, get the building work done, and have the house pretty much ready for me and the kids to come back to. If the last move is anything to go by, I'm a terrible pregnant person who doesn't know how to not lift boxes/ carry things/ etc.

Of course, that's not how things have panned out. We're still waiting on a confirmed move date, we're hoping it will be early September, but with how completely rubbish our solicitors and estate agents have been, I'm not holding my breath.
I need to take the kids back next week so Fionn can start pre-school with all his friends. He's also been invited to his first birthday party from nursery. I really don't want him to miss that transition, especially with all the changes he has; new baby and new house, coming in quick succession. If I can make the nursery to pre-school transition, as easy as possible, I think it will do him good.

I really thought I'd get the chance to write more while I was here, I had been planning everything out in my head, but although I've had loads of people to lend a hand with the kids, not having them in nursery, or in child proof houses has meant it's a bit more full on with them. I've had the odd hour here or there, but the two of them together is a hand full, and a lot to ask of someone to mind. I've been prioritising baby sitting hours with sleeping, and chasing up solicitors/ estate agents/ etc. for the move.

We've made some great memories though! We've had the chance to go to family events we would have otherwise missed, and because we've been here for so long, we've had time to go actually go to new places, and spend quality time with friends without being rushed.

We've made friends with dogs and ducks (as well as some new human ones!), we've been to possibly every playground in Dublin. As well as every shopping center. We've been to funfairs and museums, and spent hours playing in the garden.

The kids absolutely love playing with my sisters and their partners, and my parents get so much joy from spending time with them.

I'm fairly sure my Da takes the kids for a walk in the hope he'll bump into someone he knows so he can show them off.

Daithí has come on so much in the last few weeks, I can hardly believe it.
His speech has definitely developed an Irish accent, and his interaction with other people, family, strangers (and dogs) alike is adorable. He says 'hello' to everyone we share a lift with, and tries to hug every dog he passes. I've managed to steer him away from all but one strange dog, who he managed to get both arms around in a full bear hug, while the little mite was being carried like a rag doll by his 7 year old owner.

While looking through pictures with him today, I asked Fionn today what his favorite part of the whole holiday was, he said 'Playing with trains'. Now there's a surprise!!

I'm still feeling so massively overwhelmed by the fact I am due in 10 weeks (so any time in the next 7-12 weeks), and we still don't have a move date. I'm taking the kids back to a house that has essentially been dismantled in preparation for a move. And the likelihood is I'll be doing the trip by myself.
Furniture, including sofas, that we weren't planning on taking with us to the new house has been dumped. Shelves have been taken down, wardrobes unscrewed from the wall, and the attic emptied. I'm anxious there will be a delay on the day, and we'll be left stranded.
I'm OK with making the journey back by myself with the two kids. I'm surprisingly OK with it. Other people seem to be freaking out at the prospect. It's funny, I feel like I can do anything by myself with the kids, because it's what I do every day, and I have some level of control over it. It's everything else outside of me and the kids that I panic and stress about.

Everything is still so up in the air, I feel like I've reached the stage where I can't adult anymore, so I just have to say 'fuck it'.
I'm meeting a good friend for dinner tomorrow, another on Saturday and I'm going to my first All Ireland final on Sunday, so in the absence of a rake of pints, I'll be having copious amounts of food and pretending everything is fine!

For now, I'll leave you with a selfie from 5.45am this morning.
I'd been up with Daithí since 4am. He saw me check my phone, pointed at it and said 'Cheese'.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The End of Another Breastfeeding Journey

It looks like I have come to end of my breastfeeding journey with Daithí.
Sooner than I would have liked, but still long enough to be proud of.
17 months and 29 weeks pregnant isn't bad, I don't think.

I fell short of my personal goal of 1 year with Fionn by 10 days, due to having to take anti-depressants.
I managed to avoid that this time, but had set myself another personal goal of 18 months with Daithí, and quite liked the idea of giving tandem feeding a go, but again I fell short of that by about 2 weeks.

I didn't intentionally wean him, I was back in the UK for a day for a midwife appointment, and with flights and everything it was 48 hours I didn't see him. I got back to Ireland, and he just didn't really look for it. Not that there's any milk left anyway at this stage.

The pregnancy has been draining me, and I have been getting low blood pressure spells where I feel like I'm going to pass out, so it's probably for the best, but it's still an emotional time. It's nice to have my boobs back to myself, well for the next 11 weeks at least!!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

22 Week Round Up

Bump Watch 22 Weeks
Pregnancy fashion is hard!
So I've been MIA from Social Media for the last few months, what have we been up to I hear you ask. I think it best I do a bit of a round up of the first half of this pregnancy.

I am trying to get excited.
Matching Dino Leggings
I've been reluctant to write down my genuine feelings, because I feel guilty. Guilty for not planning this pregnancy, guilty for not wanting it, guilty for not feeling anything towards bump. I don't want him to ever read this and think he wasn't loved and cared for, because I'm sure by the time he can read I'll have worked through everything, and I have no doubt he will be loved just as much as his brothers, but for right now I'm struggling. 
I also feel terrible even saying things like that because there are women who'd give anything to be carrying a baby. I in no way want to belittle their battle, I'll never be able to walk a mile in their shoes, in the same way, they'll never be able to walk a mile in mine.
I've been unable to find much reading on line, and although I asked for a referral to a maternal mental health team at 6 weeks I'm yet to actually speak to someone. 
I've never made any secret of the fact I struggle, and always have with my mental health, so much so I feel I talk about it too much, my friends and family must be bloody sick of me at this stage. Some of the helpfull comments made by people I have opened up to have made me feel even worse, further tabooing the subject of perinatal depression, and making me feel like how I'm feeling is wrong and that I shouldn't be saying what I am. 

For all of these reasons I think it's best I'm completely honest. I have no doubt other people must feel this way through pregnancy, and if I can find one person and make them feel they're not alone, it's worth it.

I'm currently 22 weeks pregnant on my 3rd son. I have continued to go to my Slimming World meeting, and feel that's the reason I haven't been sick. I'm 24lbs lighter now than I was at 22 weeks on Daithí, and I  am still lighter than I was 22 weeks ago. After battling to keep my bulimic tendencies at bay throughout my last two pregnancies, I am glad, at least, that is not something I am dealing with this time.  I am still over-weight (not obese any more!), but I think I was getting to a place where I didn't hate how I looked before I got pregnant, and know that by limiting the damage I do, I can get back to that place sooner after he is born. 
Perhaps the fact I was on a path to accepting my body (I don't ever think I'll like it), and falling pregnant is part of the reason I hold so much resentment towards it. 

A third baby, all under 4, means we needed a bigger house, a bigger car and a bigger buggy.  

I had wanted a double on Daithí, but Shane insisted we didn't need one. He was wrong. So this time I put my foot down. I did my research, and came to the conclusion there are fuck all options out there for decent, affordable doubles. I wanted a side by side, I wanted to be able to face the baby towards me in the pram, while Daithí faced out in a seat, and I needed Fionn to fit on a buggy board. I also needed to be able to throw a car seat on the buggy if needs be. The only option? A Bugaboo Donkey at £1200. Fucking ridiculous, but considering we'll be using it for the next 4 years, I'm justifying it to myself. She's beautiful though! All shiny and new and light and pretty and practical!! 

A bigger car, was an even bigger bone of contention with Shane and I. He wanted me to drive a stupidly big Van with seats put into it. Using silly words like 'cross over' and 'conversion' did not fool me.  Not a fucking hope am I driving a van again, not after 3 years of the Seat Inca. 'But a Van is cool', he says. Is it fuck. I want a car, an actual car. 
Again, the options for cars that safely fit 3 car seats are limited. There's like 5 on the market!! We've settled on a 9 year old Ford Galaxy. It's ugly as hell, but it safely fits the kids' seats, and has the option of 2 extra seats in the back so we can still do airport runs for when Aunties and Grandparents feel sorry for us and come help for a weekend. 

The house has probably been what's causing the most stress for me at the moment. It started when Shane made an appointment for the agent to come to take pictures and list our house without telling me. Que the frantic cleaning, tidying and hiding of all of the things. There wasn't enough time, the pictures looked shite. But still the house went on the market. What followed was 6 weeks of viewings at all times of the day. Impossible with 2 young kids. It sold eventually, for under asking, no thanks to the useless estate agents, but I'll be taking that to them once everything is finalised. 
I spent weeks chasing agents and going to viewings of new houses. Shane and I had very different priorities. Shane wanted a project house. Knowing full well it would fall on my to manage the entire thing, and we'd be living in a state of 'it will do' for the next 10 years, and because I quite like being married, I pushed for somewhere that doesn't need too much work. We must have viewed 50 houses, some twice. But the place we bought was actually one of the first. Every time we asked Fionn which house he liked, he said 'I choose the cat house'. He was terrified of the cat who lived there, but for some reason he kept saying he wanted that house. so after 3 viewings, we made an offer, it was accepted, game on. 

Then came the JOYS of chasing estate agents for Sale Memorandums, and responding to solicitor inquiries, and mortgage meetings with banks. Fuck me, it's a lot. It's even more when you're doing it yourself. Shane showed up (late) when he had to, but everything else was and is being done by me. All contracts, and phone calls, and emails and printing and signing and posting. There's a fucking lot of 'correspondence' that needs doing. I've done everything I can now, It's all just a waiting game at this stage, so I just need to hope nothing holds anything up, and with any luck we'll be in the new house by the end of the Summer. 

I'm hoping, that once everything has settled down, I can start enjoying this pregnancy, and I'll stop hating it. I'll start to feel something towards the bump, and I'll feel some level of excitement to meet him. But right now I'm tired, I'm stressed, I'm completely over whelmed by everything, and I'm, not able to see a light at the end of the hormonal tunnel. I feel so trapped by the entire situation and can't seem to shake the constant feeling of foreboding. 
I've accepted my entire 20s will be a write off of pregnancies, breastfeeding, and battling with my weight, but even then, where will that leave me 30 with 3 kids, and no career to speak of? I don't like feeling this like, I don't want to, but I know it's something I have to deal with. I need to stop whining, pull on my big girl pants and get on with it. 
I have no advice to offer, so this is probably no real help, but if you are feeling shite, it's not only you. Ask for help and keep asking till you get it. 
I'll have a meeting with a professional soon, and I can start working through some things. Until then, this might go as a bit of an explanation as to why I've been quiet, a bit out of sorts and a shit friend lately. 

S x
The Boys are all doing great.
Mario Galaxy is a firm favorite.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Top 5 Tips For Surviving Bridesmaid Dress Shopping.

All the beautiful pictures popping up on Facebook over the last few weeks can only mean one thing. Wedding season is well and truly under way. It almost makes me miss working. Almost.
Over my 10 years in retail, I've dressed brides, bridesmaids, mothers of both bride and groom, as well as countless wedding guests. It has given me a great insight to the workings of the wedding party, so I thought I'd share a few tips for shopping for bridesmaids dresses.

My sisters and Mam wore Coast dresses for my wedding.
(As did Shane's Mam, sister, and about 50% of our guests)
Mam accidentally found her dress while we were shopping
for the girls and they changed their minds and exchanged
their dresses 3 weeks before the wedding. 

I'd always suggest shopping high street for dresses. They're a fraction of the price, and in a lot of cases are actually better quality, more flattering and fashion forward than the bridal store option. I'm quite biased towards Coast! But there are tons of places, Monsoon, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Debenhams, Phase Eight, Ted Baker, even F&F at Tesco!! TwoBirds is also an excellent option, so many way to wear the dresses and so many colours to choose from. You'd be hard pushed to not please everyone.

But with so many options available it is very easy to get overwhelmed, so here are my Top 5 Tips For Surviving Bridesmaid Dress Shopping.

1. Book an appointment

Coast by Appointment
Like having your own private
personal shopper and dressing room
If you're shopping at a bridal boutique, you may not get in without an appointment, but equally if you're going high street. Most retailers who carry bridesmaids dresses will offer an appointment service. You'll have a dedicated member of staff who can give you their 100% attention for however long it takes to find your perfect outfit. The bigger stores will also have special fitting rooms and even provide some Perosecco to sip on.
Whatever you do though, don't swan into a busy shop at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon with your Mam, three bridesmaids and a flower girl, take over every available fitting room, insist you're 'just browsing', then get pissed when there isn't a staff member available to spend an hour pulling stock and cleaning up for you.

Similar colours in different dresses that
flatter everyones figure is a beautiful
option if you have a large bridal party

2. Do some research

I'm not saying walk into a shop with your heart set on an exact colour, material and style. Definitely don't do that, not unless you're willing to have dresses made specially and pay the premium to boot. But have some sort of a idea of what you like. And what your bridesmaids like too. Do you want them all matching/ similar/ completely different? Is there anything you hate and absolutely don't want? I've had may a bride say she's open to anything, only to then dismiss every dress I've pulled because it's strapless/ the straps are too detailed, or too high cut, the skirt is too full, the colour is not bright enough. Give your sales assistant some guidance and it will save time for everyone.

3. Decide who's paying for what

A smaller budget in no way means
sacrificing style.
If you know what you're working with
from the start, it's easier to find the
perfect dresses at the right price.
Before you shop. And have that conversation with your bridesmaids before you start shopping, but especially before you get to the till. I can't tell you how many times I've been stood across from all sorts of arguments over who is and isn't paying for the outfits. MOTBs fighting to get their credit card in first, or a bride shying away as soon as the dresses are bagged up, only for the mortified bridesmaids to try scramble together their cash.
I'm not saying there is any hard and fast rules for who pays, but from my experience, the cost of the dresses, at least, comes from the wedding budget, with a few brides asking (and in some cases BMs insisting) that shoes for example be paid for by each individual.
Remember as well, that being a bridesmaid is a big expense, and some people might feel uncomfortable shopping and not knowing if they can afford what you want them to wear.

While we're on the topic of money, have an idea of your budget before you shop. Dresses can range from £50-£500 a piece, so know what you're comfortable with before you fall in love with something WAY out of your price range. If you are asking your bridesmaids to pay for the dresses, respect their budget.
Sales assistants are also used to working with budgets, so will be able to help find everything you need, for close to what you want to spend.

With bridal parties getting bigger,
4-6 is now the average in UK and Ireland
it's no wounder brides are opting for
different styles and colours.
These dresses are all 'Allure Maxi'
from Coast, but look beautiful
in six different colours.
(I also love how the neck line
mimics the bridal gown)
4. Have an open mind

Chances are, when dressing more than one adult woman, you're going to be dealing with different body shapes, sizes, tastes etc. Rather than forcing everyone into the same dress, to start with I'd recommend each girl picking two/three dresses she likes in her size and everyone try on one dress each at a time. This way you can eliminate definite 'nos' straight away without having to pull every dress in every size from the shop floor, and stressing everyone out by trying on more dresses than is necessary.
When you've found your top 2/3, get them in everyone's' size then see them all together.
Listen to what your bridesmaids like/dislike about dresses, and respect them enough to accept if they're not comfortable in something. It can get particularly disheartening, if one girl is a completely different shape to everyone else, or is struggling with their confidence. Remember why you chose your bridesmaids, they are your nearest and dearest friends, treat them as such!

5.Be Decisive

Monsoon have some fabulous 'mini-me'
dresses for your junior bridesmaids.
I know it can feel like a huge decision to make, but dragging it out longer than is necessary will just add more stress to your planning. Be prepared to have the bulk of the outfit bought in one outing. Spend a few hours in the morning trying on, then go for a coffee or a bite to eat and mull it over. But make sure you go back and get your dresses. Leaving the shopping center empty handed is very disheartening, and the thought of having to get everyone together again is a nightmare, especially when 99% of the time, bridal parties came back and went with the dress they decided on in the first place.

I could go on forever, but think I'll stick to this for now. I'd love to hear how your bridesmaid shopping experience was, and feel free to ask me any questions!!