Birthing baby

I was recently blessed enough to welcome my beautiful baby into the world! Below is a fairly detailed description of my birth experience. Overall I’d describe it as intense. It was nothing like what I had imagined or planned but I feel very lucky to have been able to experience it. I recognise not everyone has a good birth experience, but although not every part of the birth was ideal it all worked out and so I consider it a good experience.

Here we go!

So around 7 pm on the Friday I started feeling contractions. At this time my parents were around having take-away with me (although I couldn’t really eat) whilst my husband/baby daddy was at the pub seeing a friend. I messaged him and said not to rush home as there would be plenty of time. He came home within the hour, at which stage the contractions started to ramp up and my parents left. We went upstairs and my husband had put on my (electric) tea light candles, a scented candle and my chilled birth playlist. I tried to focus on my hypnobirthing as the discomfort ramped up. It felt like heightened period pains, and was mostly in my back – I expected to feel it in my front/ bump but never really did, it was always in my lower back.

Around 11 pm we phoned the hospital and they told us to hold on if we could. We did but then phoned again at midnight to say we were coming in. I had thrown-up a few times and we thought my waters had broken. When we got to hospital they checked me out and said I was only 2-3 cm dialted, meaning they could do a sweep and give me pain meds but then I’d have to go home. I told them that as I’d been sick I was worried about taking painkillers as I didn’t want them to just come back up! They gave me an anti-sickness injection then some painkiller pills. I waited for them to kick in and then be discharged. As I was getting off the bed to leave my waters broke! Turns out at home it was my hindwaters (didn’t realise there was more than one) and it felt like a water ballon bursting inside me. They told me to get back on the bed and they’d check me again in a bit. They came back and checked me, still only 2-3 cm but as the baby was in a weird position and adding extra preassure (and thus discomfort) that I could have a stronger pain killer. I accepted the Pethidine injection – although they said that as it crossed over into the baby not to have it if you are about to give birth in the next 3-4 hours but that there was no way I’d be giving birth by then so it was safe (of course I did give birth within this time frame).

Over the next couple of hours I was in and out of conciousness, but when I was conciouss my body kept pushing, so I kept shouting ‘NO NO NO don’t push!!’ because I knew it was too soon to push but I couldn’t stop it! Around 6.30 am I told my husband I thought I could feel the head. He had a quick look but said it was all good, so at 7 am I told him I needed to go to the toilet because if it wasn’t a baby then something else was about to come out of me that I would rather leave in the toilet. My husband helped me to the toilet and I asked him to stay. Instinctively I felt inbetween my legs and then exclaimed, ‘I can feel the head!!!!’ My husband was rather suprised, but when he looked he confirmed, ‘Oh my god yess!!!’ He ran into the corridor and found the first person who looked authorative (luckily a midwife) and told her. They put a towel down in the doorway of the bathroom and got me on all fours. Other midwives came and put a screen around – this is still in the triage ward. They then asked if I could move and I said yes, so I waddled over to the bed I’d been on and climbed on it so I was still on all fours. They then decided they could try and move me. So I’m on all fours on a bed, pushing and I’m being rushed through the corridors with my husband running alongside me trying to reassure me and let me know he was still there.

We made it to a labour suite and they asked me to transfer beds, so I climbed over to the other bed. I was then pushing and the head wasn’t quite coming out so one of the midwives told me to turn over and lie on my back. I did and as soon as I did the head came out! Instant feeling of relief! But as the baby had decided to come out sideways (rather than facing up or facing down) his shoulders were getting stuck. They kept telling me to push and I was, but nothing was happening. Then one of the midwives hit the emergency button and a whole bunch of people came running in. I just remember four people suddenly grabbing my legs and pushing them up practically behind my ears and then another person put their hand inside to pull baby’s back arm out. I then pushed again and he came out. Now, I don’t remember this because I was just in the zone, but apparently he was blue when he came out. So they handed him to someone they called ‘the baby guy’ and he put the baby on some special equipment and made him a pink and crying baby! My husband held him first. Hubby had brought a shirt to the hospital to wear for the birth to make skin-on-skin easier, but as it had all happened so quickly all of our stuff was still on the triage ward, we had to just abandon it all, so he was still in his dirty t-shirt he’d been sleeping on the floor in. He just whipped it off to do skin-to-skin. They then told me to hold the baby as the placenta didn’t want to come out (even though I’d had an injection to help). Eventually it did come out and then I got showered and stitch up whilst we came up with the baby’s name. My husband just kept going ‘Hello mummy, my name is….’ and I’d respond ‘no, it isn’t’ until we landed on the right one.

So that’s the story. My first birth experience was nothing like I’d planned or anticipated. It was quick, I had painkillers and there was no water birth or delayed cord cutting (they obviously had to sort baby out quickly). Despite all of this I will cherish the experience forever. It gave me my little cub and I couldn’t love him more.

Advertisements

Sweet in shorts

It might be a bit cold to think wearing anything other than a nice jumpers, thick tights, or warm boots, but with the cooler weather heading in it is the perfect time to reflect on this past summer. In particular, shorts.

I don’t normally like to wear them as I’m very self-conscious about my legs. They are too short for my body (in my opinion) and I just don’t like to look at them. But thanks to climate change it’s getting hotter. This means that a refusal to wear them has been increasingly difficult to manage in the summer months, especially as when I wear skirts without tights it seems to attract breezes leading to many ‘Marilyn moments’.

Pair the increasing heat with my growing self confidence/decreasing amount of fucks given about what other people think and this summer I invested in many pairs of shorts. I mean proper shorts, that sit above the knee (not at or below it). To start with I just wore them around the house. Then when I was comfortable I started wearing them out of the house, initially just to pop to the shops, then going out for the day, and eventually I even wore them to work!

That’s right, I actually enjoyed wearing shorts this year!!

I am embracing the body that I have, after all it’s my body and it’s done me pretty well so far! Besides, it’s not like I can change the length of my legs and that’s my main issue with them. So I can either be uncomfortable (both in terms of heat and confidence) or I can just say hey, these are my legs and I love them!

Looks at me go!

shorts

The shorts are longer than that, they had just ridden up after I was lying down. I’m not quite THAT confident!!!

Perfect pout (vegan)

When I first became vegan four years ago, I wasn’t as heavily into makeup as I am now (currently thoroughly down that rabbit hole) but I still found the surrounding stuff much more challenging/confusing than the diet element of veganism. I was vegetarian before and had been reducing dairy due to self-diagnosed lactose intolerance so food wise it wasn’t a big change and there was a lot of guidance around to help the transition. I also found a lot of it was fairly self-explanatory, so food and drink never bothered me. I was much more concerned about cleaning products, toiletries, and cosmetics. There is a lot of support for this as well, I’d recommend blogs like Vegan Taff and Logical Harmony.

In this post, however, I want to focus on lipsticks, as it’s one of my biggest current cosmetic passions and I have a rapidly expanding collection from some fabulous brands.

For lipstick, I have one main criterion and that is that it must be kiss proof. My husband’s grumbling and groaning if I give him a kiss goodbye in the morning and he ends up wearing the same shade as me means that making sure I keep my lipstick to myself is a priority. For this reason, I mostly don’t wear lip glosses, as these tend to transfer, although I do still have some.

I’ve learnt that soemtimes it is worth paying a little more for quality and so these lipsticks aren’t always the cheapest, but to me it is so worth it.

Brands I love are:

  • Kat Von D
  • Lime Crime
  • Sugarpill
  • Revolution 

Kat Von D (KVD)

My first more expensive make-up brand that I got into and it is fabulous! Kat has two lipstick lines that I have tried, Everlasting Liquid Lipstick and Studded Kiss Lipstick, she also has a new line called Glimmer Veil which I am eager to try but need to save up for! 

The Everlasting Liquid is my favourite, it is not a traditional style of lipstick and applies now like a lipgloss (liquid lipstick) but the colours are great and it had amazing staying power (once it dries which is quite quickly). 

In the UK you can buy Kat Von D Beauty products from Debenhams (in selected stores or online) and you can also order from the Kat Von D Beauty website

Lime Crime

It’s a constant tossle between KVD and Lime Crime as to which is my favourite. Lime Crime in another great brand that is so easy and nice to wear. 

Again, there are many varieties and so far I’ve tried (and loved) the Matte Valentine’s, Metallic Valentines, Diamond Crushers, Unicorn Lipstick and Peerless.

The Valentine’s are both liquid lipsticks, which as you might have guessed are my favourites (just like with KVD). They apply and dry really easily and you don’t have to top up too much. They also come in a wonderful range of colours to suit so many different looks and moods. 

The Diamond Crushers are a glittery lip topper, so I mostly use them to add a bit more sparkle to my look for special occasions (be that a wedding or date night). 

You can order direct from their website or from Cult Beauty in the UK. 

Sugarpill

I love the packaging for Sugarpill and the lipstick is good as well. Not my favourite as I have found some of them hard to put on, but love their eyeshadow (will talk about this in another post) so will keep buying from this brand. 

You can buy them in the UK from Beauty Bay and Cute Cosmetics.

The links above are just some of my favourite places to buy from other places are available. I have also bought many great lipsticks from Love Makeup for example. 

This list is also by no means even approaching exhaustive, these are just my favourites that I’ve tried so far. But Barry M are now doing liquid lipsticks that are vegan, Revolution is a very cheap brand that have vegan lipsticks (although I’ve not tested the staying power very well), Elf is also very reasonably priced, and there is also Jeffrey Star cosmetics which is very good (personal dramas to one side). 

I hope this was useful/interesting. Now go and get your pout on. x

Lips are Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lovesick with Lime Crime Diamond Crusher in Lit.

Cashew

One in six pregnancies (where the woman knows she is pregnant) end is a miscarriage. Many more are estimated to happen without the woman even realising*. It’s just something that is very common. This doesn’t stop it from being heartbreaking, though. I also know 100% of lives will end in death, again that doesn’t mean it’s not a devastating thing to face.

As someone who has always wanted to have a child, I imagined that having a miscarriage would be too much for me to handle, I thought it would destroy me. I was both right and wrong. It did destroy me, for a while (and then for longer in secret because I just wanted to bury it). But I also got through it. It happened and I survived, I am making it out the other side.

This is not easy to write. I’ve promised myself I’ll try not to cry as I write this, so let’s see how that goes. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I had a miscarriage. This is a sort of cathartic exercise to finally settle the feelings left over from that experience. It is the story of what happened and how it made me feel. I have not told very many people about this, in fact, I’ve kept it to the bare minimum. Not because I haven’t wanted to talk about it, but because I don’t know how to bring it up and I don’t like to bring negativity to others. Up until now, this experience has just felt like a big, heavy ball of negative energy on me (that I’ve shoved in the back of the wardrobe…but I know it’ still there). I need to release that energy and so that’s the purpose of this post.

It all started in December 2014, when I found out the great news…I was pregnant! My husband and I were thrilled, we’d been ‘not preventing pregnancy’ for a few months, just seeing what happened. Naturally, we…well I…took a number of home tests, from different brands, to make sure. They all said the same thing, I was pregnant. We had found out very very early on, so we were planning on keeping it a secret for a while. Circumstances dictated otherwise and we ended up telling our parents.

It was only about a month later, the day before we were supposed to be heading home after visiting my parents for a belated Christmas when I noticed some blood as I went to the toilet. I was very alarmed but tried to calm myself down, it was probably nothing. It wasn’t that much blood and if it was anything really bad it would be worse. I immediately told my husband what I’d seen (when I came out of the toilet). I’d heard of ‘spotting’ as something that could happen during early pregnancy. A quick web search confirmed this. The internet is both a blessing and a curse. For every source that reassured us it was nothing to worry about, there was another that told us it was likely exactly what we were fearing.

We got home and a day later there were still spots of blood when I went to the toilet. I was still trying to quiet the dread in the back of my mind, but it was getting louder. We decided to phone the doctors and let them know what was happening. The next day and things weren’t any worse, but they also weren’t any better, so we phoned again and this time we made sure we got an appointment. It was at the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) and they were going to check me out.

At the first appointment, they did an internal ultrasound, which is not as uncomfortable as it sounds when it is done by a professional. Back to that whole internet being a blessing and a curse thing. One of the posts I’d read that suggested I was right to be scared said that lady had known she was having a miscarriage when she got the ultrasound and the nurse performing it had been silent the whole time, with a slightly concerned look on her face. Apparently, in this lady’s previous, successful pregnancy, the ultrasound nurse had been very chatty and friendly, so the silence told her something was wrong. As the nurse performed my ultrasound she was silent. All I could think about was that I was right but that I shouldn’t cry until the nurse confirmed it, medical diagnosis is always better from professionals than from internet forums. So I tried to hold back the tears as I felt them welling up behind my eyes, just queueing up, ready to be released as soon as the nurse spoke. She did speak. She told us that we would have to come back in a week for another ultrasound to be sure, but it looked like I was having a missed miscarriage. I didn’t really take in much else of what she said, I just tried to hold back the tears (a lot of them had queued up at this stage) as I tried to wrestle my underpants and tights back on (why did I wear tights!) The nurse handed me a leaflet and we went back to the car. My husband and I both cried in the car, then we drove home to wait a week.

During that week not a lot changed, I was still seeing spots of blood when I went to the toilet but nothing more or less than before I had the appointment. I had started to go numb emotionally. I guess it was my way of preparing myself. We kept telling ourselves that we still hadn’t had it completely confirmed, but I think we both knew the truth. That week I basically just sat on the sofa and watched The Mentalist. I would wake up, come downstairs, turn on the TV, occasionally eat and then go back to bed. I’d shower occasionally as well, but I was mostly numb, trying not to feel anything at all.

After a week we had our follow-up appointment at the EPU. Remember how I said the internal ultrasound wasn’t as uncomfortable as it sounds if it’s done by a professional? Well, this time I had the trainee, she had not got her technique down quite yet. It wasn’t as quiet this time because the ultrasound nurse was talking to the trainee, not that this made things any easier. They confirmed that it was what we had feared, I was having a missed miscarriage. I remembered that the leaflet had said something about there being different kinds of miscarriage, but that didn’t mean much to me at the time. The nurses told us they were sorry as the tears crashed down my face and blurred my vision. My husband and I were then sat down in a room where a counsellor came to talk to us. She handed us another leaflet then said something about it being very common and not my fault. I vaguely remember her comforting me with something along the lines of, ‘people have babies in war zones, so babies are actually much tougher than you would think and if they can survive that then it is certainly not something you’ve done, it just wasn’t supposed to be this time.’ I wasn’t really listening, not because I didn’t want to, I desperately wanted to hear her words, for them to comfort me and for this to be okay, but I just couldn’t – I was shutting down.

We went home and waited. We had to tell our parents and I had to explain to my boss why I hadn’t been at work for a week and why I wouldn’t be back for another week. I cried some more and then just sat blank faced watching The Mentalist.

This part will be a bit graphic, my apologies but I feel like I need to tell this story in its entirety. After a few days of waiting, the spotting turned to what was essentially a VERY heavy period.  Then the pain started to increase as I was going to bed. Miscarriages hurt. A lot. I managed to find a good routine of painkillers (Ibuprofen, paracetamol, and co-codamol) combined with heat cushions and deep breathing that meant the pain was manageable. A miscarriage is basically a mini-birth. You have contractions and they are not fun. When I had the pain under control (still hurt but in a manageable way) we just lay down in bed. My husband fell asleep as there wasn’t really anything else he could do and it was very late, probably actually quite early in the morning by now. I lay there awake, I wasn’t going to be able to sleep with the pain. I found (as I’m assuming is the case with birth contractions) that if I pushed when I felt the pain it didn’t hurt as much. So that is what I did. I helped my body push out what was the start of my baby. That sounds very traumatic, but in the quiet and the darkness, after all the crying and the sadness, it was actually kind of peaceful. It was the best I’d felt (in retrospect that might have also been due to the painkillers). It felt like a kind of closure. This did not end the way I wanted it to but at least I had gotten to be a part of it in a weird way.

Although I had some sort of closure, I still wasn’t over it. This was one of my biggest fears turned real, it was always unlikely I’d be able to just rub my hands and move on. Personally, one of the hang-ups I’ve had that stopped me moving on was that fact it was a missed miscarriage. That means that the baby stopped developing, but my body didn’t catch-on for almost 4 weeks. It means that I now know that when I told my parents I was pregnant I technically wasn’t. What I was is walking around with, essentially, a dead baby inside of me. Just that thought; that I was walking around beaming and happily thinking about my baby and what crib I would buy, but there was nothing other than a bunch of dead cells inside me. I know it’s not my fault, but I also kind of didn’t. It’s like how if friends and family tell you you’re pretty a part of you thinks ‘you have to say that’. I realise now that they were of course right, it was not my fault, but for a long time (as in up until about a month ago) part of me thought it was my fault. My body, my responsibility, my fault. I felt that I should have at least somehow known something was wrong sooner. How was my body able to just go about its business without realising what had happened. FOR WEEKS! What kind of dumb, useless body did I have? I get now that is not how it works, and that my body was just doing what it could, that it simply wasn’t meant to be for reasons outside of my control.

Another thing I’d like to address is the term baby. You’ll notice I’ve referred to ‘my baby’ and similar a lot in this post. I know some people would argue it wasn’t technically a baby yet, it wasn’t even really a proper foetus – more a collection of cells, an embryo. That’s the technical side, the medical interpretation. Sadly for me in this instance, I am not a robot. As soon as I saw that positive pregnancy test it was a baby. I was going to buy a crib for it, and clothes (although not too many because it would probably be spoilt by family). I was wondering what kind of pram to get, is it more economical to get a travel system? We were going to listen to music together and I would have fun seeing how it reacted to Fall Out Boy versus Slipknot, maybe it would be a metalhead baby. My husband and I had started to refer to the baby as ‘Cashew’ because it was a tiny little cashew size and that sounded cute, certainly preferable to ‘it’. So although Cashew was technically just an embryo, to me at least that was my little cashew, my baby.

I’ve come to terms with what happened now, and if it happens again then that would suck but I’ll deal with it and move on. It still makes me sad, but I’m getting strong. Good news is I kept my promise to myself by not crying, and this was a long post so that is pretty impressive if I do say so myself!

References

*NHS Choices website: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/pages/introduction.aspx

Dresses that impress

I’m not really sure how to write this blog post without sounding slightly egotistical, so instead, I will just embrace that.

Dresses are a really wonderful invention. They are so comfortable and stylish at the same time. Wearing a dress you instantly look smarter than if you were to wear jeans and a t-shirt and quite honestly if you have the right dress, it is more comfortable as well. I have been wearing mostly dresses for the past 3 years and I can’t imagine cutting them out of my wardrobe. When I go out, whether it is to work or for leisure, I often get compliments on my dresses and people asking me where I get them from. If you are one of those people then pay attention to this post, as I reveal my dress secrets.

Secret 1: Where to buy?

So no surprises here I’m sure, but I buy most of my dresses online from Amazon and eBay. I can sometimes get them from physical shops, but this would mean going somewhere funky like Brighton – which is easy for me now I work there, but wouldn;t have been very practical before. So online is the best option here, you’ll also be able to shop directly with some brands that way, and they more often have deals.

Other online retailers that I’ve used include:

Secret 2: Style

As for searching for anything online, the thing you need to know is keywords. The style of dress I wear can normally be classed as ‘rockabilly’, so that is a word I often use in searches. For example, I might search eBay for, ‘Red rockabilly dresses’ if I wanted red for a particular event. Other words I use are; 50s dresses, 40s dresses, 1050s dresses, 1940s dresses, retro dress, tea dress, or swing dress. That’s just me though, you might prefer a slightly different style, for example, wiggle/pencil dresses – I just can’t be bothered with all the undergarments I’d need to make those look good!

Secret 3: Brands

Personally, I have found a few brands I really like. I know these brands are good quality, suit my personal style and I know which size* will fit me. They have really fun funky patterns and designs as well. I will of course, also occasionally shop outside of these brands, and there are some other brands I’d like to buy more of but I can never find them cheap. Most of the below brands you’ll find on eBay for approx. £10 (sometimes second-hand, sometimes new but not worn.)

The brands I like to shop for are:

*The size might vary with fabrics, for example I know if it’s a chiffon or organza type fabric it will have no give and so I might get a bigger size. Some websites (such as Lindy Bop) have a size guide under each dress and this is always worth checking as they can vary a little from style to style.

So there you have it, my little secrets of what to search for and where to look have been revealed. I hope that you found this useful, and can go forth and look fabulous!

Sugar Lips

I’ve started using more lipsticks and lipglosses recently. I just think they really add an extra something and complete any makeup look. I might blog separately, perhaps on my vegan blog about my favourite glam lip products, but that is not the point of this post.

This post is to talk about the consequences of wearing a lot of lip products, and that’s dry/ flakey lips. I’ve learnt it is very important to keep your lips healthy so that you can continue to wear your favourite lipsticks, glosses, and stains. Part of that means regularly exfoliating your lips, to get rid of any dry skin, keeping them soft and clear.

When I started looking at buying a lip scrub they seemed expensive. I knew other people (blogger and vloggers) recommend making them at home, so I thought I’d give it a go. There are a lot of different recipes available online but I decided to go with the simplest one I could find, and I found a super simple one.

The recipe I settled on is just sugar and oil. Literally, that is all you need. So I grabbed my coconut oil, some brown sugar and a little travel pot from Superdrug to store it in. With my ingredients to hand, I started to mix them together, adding a little of each and mixing until I got a consistency I was happy with. That simple. Nothing fancy, no exact measurements.

The end result was a nice lip scrub, although it is a little messy so I might try a bit more oil next time. I tend to you it over the sink though so it doesn’t matter if a few little bits of sugar scrub fall off my finger and into the sink. After scrubbing my lips I then rinse them off with water (another good reason to do this in the bathroom) and voila! Soft lips perfect for painting!

So you want a tattoo

All about the artist

I’ve been asked before if I can recommend a good artist, and my response is always that it is a bit more complicated than just a good artist. As with any artwork, it is also about finding an artist that specialise in your chosen style to get great work. You don’t ask Kandinsky to draw the next issue of Spider-man….

Of course, a really good tattoo artist might be flexible and able to do different styles but people do tend to have specialisms. It is better to work with these when choosing an artist. As always, talk to your artist and let them know the style you are looking for if they don’t feel they can handle that they should let you know so you can make an informed choice.

Stylin’ it out

In terms of finding the right artist for the style you are into, Instagram is a good source of research. Hashtags can help you find artists and there are also whole accounts dedicated to reposting images of tattoos of certain styles (with tags to the artist so you know who did it).

Styles include:

  • Traditional
  • Neo-traditional
  • Realism
  • Tribal
  • New school (nu skool)
  • Japanese
  • Dot work
  • Geometric
  • Script

You can find full beginners guide to tattoo styles on Tattoo Do.

Other useful resources for initial research are tattoo magazines (and their corresponding social media accounts). Some of my favourite tattoo magazines are; Skin Deep, Total Tattoo, and Things & Ink. Just a note that tattoo magazines tend to feature both partial and full nudity – they are often found in the ‘Men’s interest’ section for magazines. Things & Ink is slightly different as it is run by women and aimed at women (although men are welcome to read it), it’s just a little less gratuitously sexy posing women on the cover and a bit artier. Still, can have nudity (of varying degrees) but more for the sake of showing off body art.

Location, location, location

 …..Well actually, your new tattoo is likely to exist longer than you*! So it’s worth saving up to spend the extra money on a good artist and if required, travel. A great artist might not be cheap (generally speaking, you might be looking at £80 – £90 per hour for a great artist in a good location, although this can vary and might be more or less). Although this might sound like a lot it is going to be worth it for something you can love for the rest of your life! Especially as it is something that is going to be even more painful and expensive to remove (with lasers), so it’s best to get it right the first time if you can. It is also worth considering should you need to travel, what extra costs this will entail. If you are going a long way and having a longer session you might want to consider a hotel, as getting tattooed is exhausting!

*provided you don’t die in a particularly violent way, such as a nuclear blast, your body (and therefore tattoos) will still exist after you have died. So they are actually something that exists beyond the rest of your life, worth considering and spending wisely on.