Lifestyle and Parenthood · Uncategorized

Rough week, Better weekend.

This week has been rough. As in getting to Wednesday and bursting into tears of both physical and emotional exhaustion. As in I can’t wait to go into work because it’s more of a break for me than being at home right now!

Christian has been teething, and boy, have we all felt it. Seeing every hour or sometimes half hour during the night before getting up at 6.30am to go in and do a day’s work is not my idea of fun. My husband and I do not cope well when we are tired either. We turn into not-nice people with very little patience and understanding. In what is already a fairly stressful and difficult existence for us right now, that turns into needless, senseless conflict.

In the midst of it I feel like an awful wife and a horrible mum for not being able to cope with or vent my frustration in a healthy way. And sure, I’m lucky enough to have a support network who have lots of listening ears, but fewer who are able to be here and hands-on help, which is sometimes what I need more.

And just when I feel hopeless, like I won’t be able to get a break, there are moments like getting a phone call to get help through a charity- funded respite day care program.

And moments like the picture at the top of this post, when I need to get out of the house so I took Christian to the local shopping centre soft play. And he smiles at me like this. Despite all my frustration.

I am enough. I am a good mum. A good wife. And I am also my own person too. I forget, and a lot of mums forget this all too quickly and feel like they are failing a bit. Or a lot. So remind yourself too. Remind your wife/husband/ girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/son/daughter. They are awesome. They are enough. In a world where social media is anything but social, and only shows us the image that everyone else’s life is so much glossier, better than our own. We have a pretty nice weekend ahead too.

Social media is Just a highlights reel. Never forget that.

Love, Twinkle. Xo

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To Grow or Not to Grow?

That is indeed the question. I’ve had short hair now for the best part of the last ten years, with one or two blips (See below). I’m tired of it not looking fresh after 3-4 weeks after each cut and bleach, it’s getting a little damaged at the ends, is a lot of maintenance that I don’t have as much time for with my toddler, and I feel like a change.

The first two were when I decided to grow the pixie out for a year; and then caved and chopped it all off again. I sorta wish I had just perservered (I would be two years further on now!!) But I was heavier and felt I needed the boost of having quirkier hair at the time! The last is while I was pregnant and decided to give dread extensions a try; they were braided into my longer pixie at the top, and were fun but a bit heavy and annoying to wash! My hair grew loads while braided into them, though.

I’ve also been almost every colour on the rainbow, although normally on the platinum/ pastel blue/purple spectrum:

So I have yet again taken the notion to grow my hair out, although I have several VERY awkward phases to go through first with my disconnected undercut! This is what I’m eventually aiming towards (If only I could get my youthfulness in this photo back too!!!) Although with the benefit of some more know how in the last ten years, I think I could get a cooler toned colour going on, and maybe not as short bangs in the front (may have been growing out a fringe from memory..):

A very young (circa 17/18 year old) me!

Do you have any advice beyond coconut oil, healthy diet, vitamins and hiding my scissors (and of course resisting the temptation to bleach it….) ? Have you ever tried a grow out? Show me/ Let me know in the comments below. I’ll check in with updates at various points! Talk to me in the comments below!

Twinkle xo

For in-between updates, have a look at my social media below.

For my inspiration, go follow me on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ie/twinklefethers/

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Teething/ Sleepless nights/ Life

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth…I’ve just been going through a season where everything is slightly out of balance. Christian has been unsettled at night times and moany through the day, things have been going awry here there and everywhere (a bit of a mess that left us with the use of only one car for a few weeks, teething, getting halfway to work before realising I’d forgotten my laptop at home just this morning…). The posts that I want to do, the nice ones about how we are about done decorating the house for now, the crafty things I had been managing to make, my best laid intentions and plans have all fallen by the wayside…again.

I’ve gotten into the rut of being in the same routine day to day, week to week, and now I need to change it up and break the monotony. This week was better, even though I had Christian on my own for most of it. I got to go on a little overnight and see my sister, niece and nephew, my dad and some aunties/ cousins/ second cousins which was fabby. And in another month an old friend is coming to visit then we are getting away on a little break to my parents’ house in the middle of the forest in Dumfries and Galloway – bliss.

I haven’t been doing much Yoga though, and I can feel it – muscles being held too tense, a mind that keeps buzzing and needs a little peace. So. this week, I’m going to make a point of taking a little time here and there to centre myself again, to recharge (even as I laugh at myself for using that word when it’s unlikely I will get much more sleep!) But sleep and rest can be two different things. At the same time as I can’t seem to find the time to do the things I want, I think I need to make time for them. For writing, reading, blogging, for yoga and getting to church. Amongst other things (sometimes, just sometimes, WINE!!).

Time to adjust the mindset when where I’m at in my head at the moment isn’t serving me – this is a trick I use when I feel drained all the time and don’t see an immediate fix or improvement. Like I said in a previous post; Change what you can, Accept what you cannot change, and be wise enough to know which is which! I cannot change Christian teething (beyond Calpol and Anbesolling him where we can!) or not sleeping well. I can change how I respond to it and therefore improve my mindset day-to-day. It won’t last forever and being grumpy serves no-one, least of all me.

What do you do when you need to take a sec and just STOP? How do you find your balance again? I’m interested to know.

Twinkle xo

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Serenity/ Grace

So this morning I took this feeling that this Sunday, instead of sitting in the house trying to find the energy to do anything at all, that I needed to go to church.

Now and then this need grips me. Yes, I want to go other times too and go as often as I can manage (none of the services work really with Christian’s current nap/ bed times.) Normally I find this coincides with a week where I’ve been struggling or have lost my equilibrium a bit.

Every time I do, I find that God has something for me in that particular service or sermon. Or the choice of worship songs. Either way, I leave having found some peace and balance again, like I’ve topped up my reserves to get through another week or two.

Today the sermon was quite apt – a thirst for God, for more of his gifts, for whatever battles we have been fighting in our lives.

Last night was pretty trying and exhausting. Christian was totally done in yet fought his sleep until after 9pm then woke hourly all through the night. My reserves of everything are severely depleted. This week in general hasn’t been an easy one. (See previous blog here). And yet I get us up and ready and head to church, and feel infinitely better for having done so.

I’m currently sitting at Jordanstown Loughshore Park in the car while the sun burns away the clouds and the ferry passes and Christian naps, listening to a worship music playlist. And all is right with my world again. Despite still feeling very tired lol but isn’t that just part of being a mum! Maybe I’ll catch up one day. When he’s like 18 and doesn’t live at home anymore 😂.

We’ve got to give ourselves and eachother grace and room to “top up” our reserves. We’ve got to get out of our own heads and way and let God pour back into us what we need.

Have a lovely Sunday folks, and even if you’re not a churchgoer or have Faith yourself, I wish you enough this week and those that follow.

Lifestyle and Parenthood

Hypnobirthing

Many of you may have heard of this in passing, as a distant idea or even tried it yourselves. It’s down to individual judgement what you make of it, but I’d like to share my experience of it and a few resources I found useful!

***Disclaimer: I’m part of the Amazon Associates program, in that I get a small commission for any sales made through click-throughs from the links I share in my blogs. I’ll never share anything that I haven’t used or don’t like myself.***

So what is Hypnobirthing?
According to Katharine Graves in her book The Hypnobirthing Book, speaking more broadly of Hypnotherapy, it is “…merely the use of words: words used in a more focused and positive way to help people let go of some of the negative ideas they have acquired in life.” In her book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin discusses the connection between mind and body as it relates to childbirth at length, citing it as one of the most important and simultaneously one of the most disregarded factors (within the medical community) in the progression of labour. Google’s dictionary defines it as ” a method of managing pain and anxiety during childbirth, involving various therapeutic relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization. “

I read these two books while pregnant in preparation for the labour I was aiming for, along with doing the guided meditation in the Hypnobirthing section of my Prenatal Yoga DVD (also done by Katharine Graves). Now – if you’ve read my blog on my labour and birth with Christian, you’ll know that it didn’t go entirely to plan! Regardless of this, I still believe that my hypnobirthing practice was one of the main things that got me through an 18-hour pessary-induced, forceps assisted labour and birth with just local anesthetic and gas&air. My husband commented afterwards that the midwives had been surprised that I had managed to keep myself so tranquil throughout, even appearing to be asleep between contractions!

From the outset, I had a cynical approach, wondering if the whole thing was just airy-fairy hokum. The more research I did and the more I got into it, the more I realised it’s simply a form of mindfulness and meditation, which has been proven on many forums and circumstances to work, when done properly. Better yet, in Katharine Graves’ book, she discusses how it can even work when the birth doesn’t go the way you planned; which, let’s face it, it rarely does!

Thankfully even the NHS have cottoned on, and while I didn’t get on their course for it in my area (very popular and oversubscribed!) they do offer one which is great; it’s helpful for your midwives to be well-informed and therefore able to help and facilitate when a rational conversation is beyond you in the midst of labour!

How does it work?
By the same principle as hypnotherapy or hypnosis, basically if you want it to work it will; if you don’t, it won’t. You have to give it a bit of credence and effort for it to be useful to you. It also takes practice – you’re training your brain to think a certain way in the face of pretty stressful feelings and circumstances! For this reason, it’s recommended you start practicing before or around 30 weeks. As I said, I went into the whole thing a cynic, being one of those people that never gets picked for hypnosis and the crowd hypnosis exercises have never worked on me. I DID have an open mind and did my research, which then changed my opinion of it’s overall effectiveness.

I’m one of those people that need to understand how something works before I can get on board with it fully; so through reading both Ina May’s book and Katharine Graves’ book, as well as learning about the link and power between mind and body, I also was well-versed in what actually happens and what your body is doing during labour and childbirth. By truly understanding what your body is doing and accepting it, to work with it instead of fighting against it, you can then implement the hypnobirthing methods to help you work through it. A positive attitude is a must.

For example, I was so happy when I finally went into labour (13 days “overdue” at this point) which helped me embrace and accept what my body was doing, and had faith that it was doing exactly what it needed in order to get Christian here. This mindset, along with very supportive midwives, and some strategic breathing (sometimes of gas and air) for the worst of the contractions, helped me stay in my “happy place” all the way through. This was where my midwives and Craig wondered if I was sleeping or passed out; I was in fact awake and aware, although vaguely, the main part of my mind being focused on the task at hand and letting my body get on with it so that I could meet my baby soon!

But what if things don’t go to plan?
Now while this makes my labour sound idyllic and straightforward, let me give you some context:
– I do not like hospitals. I’m not comfortable there. I hadn’t been a patient in a hospital since the day and hour I was born until I had Christian.
– Intermittently I had a consultant peeking in the door to check Christian’s heart rate, which was dipping with every contraction I had.
– Due to this and my slightly high blood pressure (my midwife at my last check before I was induced wanted to send me to hospital, which I knew would not help get it down!), I couldn’t get into the Home from Home unit, which I’d had my heart set on. It then got to the point where I couldn’t even try for a water birth because they needed to monitor me and Christian so closely (they got me into the one suite in the hospital that had a water birth tub and had run it for me!)
– I was told not to push when my contractions seemed to be at their strongest. Then they started to get weaker, and I was getting tired and running out of steam to push. I could hear the unsaid that without help, I was going to end up with a C section which was my worst fear, so when the doctor suggested forceps to help get Christian here, I was relieved, and that’s what we went with. At that point I think there were about 8 staff members who were relative strangers to me, in the room with my legs akimbo up in stirrups!

Throughout all this, I was calm, empowered and felt an inner strength despite the tiredness and the way things hadn’t gone to plan at all. The meditation and breathing enabled me to maintain this throughout all the unexpected – potentially negative – turns. Ina May’s book had me well informed and aware that everything, despite the way it might be presented by the midwives and doctors, was ultimately my choice. I wasn’t a mere spectator with no control. For my first pregnancy and birth, I wanted the safety net of being in the hospital. After, and indeed, despite my experience, if there is a next time, I would be more inclined to labour as long as possible at home.

How did Hypnobirthing go for you? Or do you want to try it? Have you tried any of the resources I’ve mentioned? Let me know below!

Twinkle xoxox

Lifestyle and Parenthood

Yoga

Yoga is my happy place. It can serve so many purposes. Meditation, Mindfulness, Exercise, Relaxation and Pain Relief but to name a few. I started it when I was pregnant as a lower impact way to keep fit and flexible (versus going to the gym and lifting heavy sh*t like I would have preferred!).

**DISCLAIMER: As a newly signed up Amazon Associate I do earn a small commission for any qualifying purchases of items linked, however the items linked are those I have purchased, used myself and would recommend. I won’t link or recommend something I haven’t used or don’t like myself. If you’re currently pregnant or have relevant health issues to the subject, any exercise should only be undertaken after careful consideration and research, with the approval of your doctor or midwife. My pregnancy was low risk all the way through, and I was given the okay to go ahead by my midwife, with the help of well-informed instructors.**

Yoga as Exercise:
At the time, I felt my gym habits had not been consistent enough to follow the adage for exercising of “If you were doing it routinely before you were pregnant, keep going.” I was reasonably fit, if a bit overweight, and experiencing a healthy, low risk pregnancy. So I went to a few yoga classes – obviously advising them that I was pregnant so they were aware and that any adjustments to certain poses could be made for safety. I thought it would be lovely and relaxing – and it was, but boy was it a workout too! I came away in Zen but also a puddle of sweat and knew I had worked hard, with interesting DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) two days later!!

Yoga for Pain Relief:
My mum got me a pregnancy yoga DVD for my birthday so I could do it in my own time and follow a specialised routine also. This was actually great as it was subdivided into sections for each area of the body, had a ten minute general workout for if I was tired or tight for time, and a play all option, as well as a postnatal section.
It also had a hypnobirthing section which I loved, and was instrumental in helping me through my labour. I’ve written more about Hypnobirthing here.
Child’s Pose has to be one of my absolute favourite yoga poses, as pictured above. It’s great for back pain (which is par for the course in pregnancy!), very restful and relaxing, allowing a good stretch. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I did it with a wide knee stance which allowed my bump to be cradled in the middle, stretching my hips out as well as my poor back.

Yoga for Mindfulness, Meditation & Relaxation:
As well as for a stretch and pain relief, having your face to the floor and breathing deeply has a way of re-centering you. Yoga is as much about breathing and listening to your body as it is about correct form. Whilst it is good to challenge yourself and push yourself when using it as exercise, yoga is also about really paying attention to how you breathe and move. The result of this is that you tune in to your body and give it what it needs, and create a safe and quiet space for your mind. I always find my balance and coordination is far better after I have done my yoga than it was before – and anyone who has gone through pregnancy will know all too well the clumsiness and lack of coordination that can come with it and last long after your baby has arrived.
My routine while pregnant used to be work, home, open all the doors (I was pregnant through one of the hottest summers NI had seen in awhile!) change into the stretchiest clothes I possessed, do my Yoga and then sit down and do the Hypnobirthing section. I would normally doze off towards the end of it and come to after it had finished!
Optional: then eat two ice lollies (one of my cravings!)

Whatever form each of these things takes for you; Exercise; Meditation/ Mindfulness; Relaxation; or Pain Relief, I hope you get something from it. What’s the best thing about Yoga for you? Do you want to start and don’t know where or how? Or do you think you couldn’t even start? Talk to me in the comments.

For those of you who are more visual, I do Instagram too:

Sarah Fethers IG

Love, Twinkle xoxox

Lifestyle and Parenthood

Life Update: 8 Months Postpartum.

It’s been awhile since I updated the bigger picture of the Fethers Family! It’s been quite a whirlwind 8 months since the arrival of our son Christian. While I wouldn’t change a single bit of it, things haven’t always been easy, as you’ll know from my previous blogs;

That doesn’t detract from the overwhelming positives of being a mum, I still don’t overly mind night feeds, and returning to work has been mostly positive too.

Christian a handful of hours old!
Christian at 8 months (today)

Christian is now babbling away (Mama, Dada, Nana and blowing raspberries are his current repertoire), rolling over routinely on his own and amusing himself there for good half-hour periods of time, trying to sit up straight in his bouncer, and giving a range of solid foods a darn good go – Beef stew, omelet, pancakes, toast and chips to name a few. His favourite so far are Wotsits! (Don’t judge, he only gets a few now and again but they disappear very fast with very little debris left over!). He is generally a very happy, contented and chilled out wee dude!

What I’ve found and what is sometimes amazing to me is how many things I can juggle and manage to do, pretty much simultaneously. The measure of patience and calm I can experience most of the time is staggering (equally, there are times when my patience is very short – usually when I’ve had less sleep than I’m now used to – and I have to walk out of the room for 5 mins, whether it be from Husband, Baby or Dogs!).

Mums really are the masters of multitasking! For example:

  • I still manage to blog.
  • I’m working part time (2.5 days a week).
  • (Mostly) I keep the household going (cleaning, laundry, grocery runs, managing one VERY Attention Seeking Dog and one slightly incontinent one, etc.)
  • I’m secretary for my Parents-in-Law’s charity.
  • I managed to babysit my niece (7yo) and nephew (20mths) as well as my 7 month old; nobody died, everyone went to bed on time (apart from me) and my sister’s house was still intact when they got home.
  • My husband and I manage one date night a month usually; with my brother in law’s help on babysitting duties.

Balance is very important; as is asking for help when you need it. This is something I struggle with – I will wait for my husband to jump in and help rather than ask, and then get annoyed when he couldn’t see that I needed help or that something needed done. This reminds me; must do a blog post on the differences between how men and women think!! He doesn’t do it on purpose, and he isn’t a mindreader, and I am very stubborn (Lol).

We don’t always get that balance right, but we can only keep trying. Becoming a mum (or a dad) is without a doubt the hardest work you will ever do. By the same token, it is also the most rewarding and worthwhile work you will ever do, and we do love every second of it (even if sometimes we feel like we don’t!)

If you’re a parent, what has your experience of parenthood been? The highs and lows? Tell me about it!

Love, Twinkle xoxox

Lifestyle and Parenthood

Life can be sh*t, too.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how social media only tends to show us one side of things – it’s a snapshot of all the highlights. Some of it is intentional, to sell you something, by making you feel like your life should be like the images you see; which is very underhand, when you think about it.

Like my father keeps saying (a man who has no social media accounts, no desire for that to change, EVER, and can just about use a computer)

“But it’s not real life!”

I don’t think I ever really truly thought about that until recently. With the rise of bloggers, Youtubers and Social Media “Influencers”, have we lost sight of what “real” life is for the majority of the population?

Now – let me clarify, I love a good Youtuber, and a gloriously aesthetic Instagram feed. Pinterest is my favourite rabbit hole. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. When things are going well in my life, I love a good Instagram-able moment. But we’ve developed a tendency to not show the dark side. To not show the bad stuff, the days where nothing goes right and you’re not looking or feeling your best with your “no makeup makeup” or endless filters. And it’s probably not the best way to try and build a following or get the most likes.

But I do think there is a need and a place for it to be shown and visible. Just to remind people that real life happens too, we just don’t see it. The moments that you’re broken, life is sh*t and you don’t know when it may get better may be the last thing you want to share. But they are also perhaps the most valid and meaningful.

Those moments/days/weeks/months/years. They matter too. They are what gives us context to know what good days are. Real life is wonderful highs and sometimes very low lows. I find myself always looking to understand the culture, systems, people around me. I think it’s true that the way people interact with you is more a reflection of their own state rather than yours; I wonder how many people I know are dealing with struggles I know nothing about.

I worry that when I’m struggling, I don’t do a very good job of communicating and make the people closest to me feel like they’re doing something wrong. I am a great overthinker, like many women are.

One of my very close friends recently made a comment to me that it seemed like I was making motherhood look easy. I don’t think she meant it badly, but I do think that she was pretty spot on on some accounts.

But to any other parents reading my blogs and thinking it looks a little idyllic, let me say this: Life can be shit, too. I tend to write things from a pretty optimistic slant, even when things are bad. That’s my personality. I’m an optimist, I like to believe the best in people and situations, and an eternally hopeless romantic – there’s nothing wrong with that. But I don’t want to be guilty of making people feel like their life isn’t what it should be, or that they must be doing it wrong because I or anyone else makes it sound good all the time.

What I would like to do is to acknowledge the crappiness and the struggles; but never forget that life is full of beautiful moments too. There is always hope. And whether you’re in a peak or a trough; it’s all valid, and worth sharing.

If your lows seems to be vastly outnumbering your highs – don’t suffer alone. Get help. Whether that be someone in your church or counselling or help – there is always hope and always help to be had, when you know where to look and take the courage to ask for it.

Love, Twinkle xoxox

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Sex after Birth: Intimacy Postpartum

This ones a little controversial. But I don’t think it should be, and I think it should be talked about more supportively and openly! After all, how are babies made to begin with?!

I had a noticeably absent mojo postpartum and I didn’t think it would ever come back – I felt a bit broken to be honest. They say wait six weeks for healing physically, but don’t really discuss it beyond that, even when it’s made up of so much more; mentally, emotionally. It’s ingrained into our culture as a sort of taboo, a not seen and not heard issue, but like Ina May Gaskin says, sex has been taken out of the birthing experience, even though it’s how we got there in the first place and the oxytocin so central to it all plays a HUGE part in the birth experience and mothering too.

It’s okay to not want to, and to feel like your body isn’t yours anymore. I woke up one morning six months postpartum and just sorta had my mojo back but it took a lot of patience from my husband and a lot of reflection on my part. I wanted to want my husband!

You have to find a way to be yourself again as well as a mother. You have to have your own identity too. I struggled with this when I got married as well as becoming a mum but what I found was that the key is to find a way to fit all the pieces of who you are into the whole.

Take time just for you to nurture yourself. It’s hard but possible and worth doing. An uninterrupted bath, a couple hours sleep while someone else watches baby – use whatever help is offered, because if you can’t feel like you’re looked after/ able to look after yourself, then how are you supposed to feel good enough about yourself to let someone else make you feel good?

I spent most of the first six months postpartum feeling just like a mother rather than “mother” now just being one part (if a rather large part!) of the wider whole of who I am. Thanks to people like our friends, my brother in law and my sister, I had support and help to just be “me” too.

They’re right when folk say “it takes a village” and even if you don’t think you have one, I really hope you have at least one or two people you can depend on when you really need them.

Your body. It takes time to settle in to your “new” body. I can guarantee that even if you do “bounce back” quickly or not, it will still be a little different in some ways. There are days I still feel a little broken; most days I’m in major Bridget Jones pants, and we have to do things a little differently to before. But it still works. And I’m getting back to some familiar feeling that resembles what “normal” was before. So will you.

Husbands/ Guys: be patient. It’s okay to show you still love your other half and find them attractive, but don’t whine or be pushy. Respect her boundaries. TALK TO HER ABOUT IT. And actually LISTEN TO WHAT SHE SAYS. Another human being has exited your wife/better half. She deserves time to heal mentally as well as physically, and to find her identity again, after the maelstrom of becoming a mother has subsided somewhat. Support her to get there. Be truly selfless about it. Help by doing things round the house if they need done – housework kinda suffers with a new baby in the house. Take baby and change them, give her something to eat or let her go get a shower/bath/nap. And eventually your patience and support will pay off.

Oh. And boobs. I don’t recommend touching them too much unless you want to be punched in the face or squirted with milk. They’re not yours. They’re serving the function they were made for, and if they’re full they’re probably a little tender/ sore. So yeah – be gentle with them.

If you haven’t got your mojo yet: don’t panic. It may take less or more time than it did for me. Everyone is different and that is totally fine. Relax, enjoy these early days with baby when they are oh-so-small, it really doesn’t last forever. Be a mum first and foremost for a bit. You’ll figure out how it fits in with the rest of you in time.

I want to hear about your experiences and struggles. Has reading this helped? What would have helped you more postpartum in hindsight?

Love, Twinkle

Xoxox

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Random Fact about Me – Getting back to Writing.

This last few weeks has seen me make progress on some fronts, from returning to work and not completely hating it, to getting back into blogging, and now getting back into creative writing.

I’ve loved writing little stories for as long as I’ve had a good enough grasp of the written and read English language to do so, and I have always avidly loved reading. I was one of those kids that eagerly awaited the Harry Potter books coming out and spent my entire Saturday/ weekend depending on the length of book devouring it. I would fold my duvet up and prop my pillow up in the corner of my bed to make and armchair for myself, and only come out of my room to go to the loo and eat. Cheesy as they can be, I love a good Mills & Boon, Fifty Shades and the Twilight Saga. The movies never do justice to the books!

I love reading, writing, music and drawing although I do the latter far more seldom now than ever (Sorry, Mr Johnstone!). My imagination was such that I used to get annoyed that my drawing skill couldn’t properly show the image I had in my head! I hope imagination in life and in play is something I can pass on to my son. A creative imagination is such a gift and pure escapism can never be underestimated both as a child and adult.

I believe that keeping a journal has helped me keep on top of my mental health and process big life changes and emotions over the years. I do sometimes cringe when I look back on entries I made, or the fact that entire diaries would center around the at-the-time boyfriend mainly! I was and still am a hopeless romantic – I’ve read far too many books!

Now that I am a bit older and a little more confident in my own ability, I’ve decided to start a project with a view to getting it to the stage where I could potentially self-publish and see how that went.

Inspired by a few weirdly vivid and detailed dreams (some a little smutty, some not!), I’m fleshing out an idea for a romance (but of course!). As I go along, I may post some snippets here – so if that’s what you like, stay tuned. And you may as well prepare for some more frustrated writer’s block, diary style posts along with my motherhood/ baby ones too!

Maybe when I actually start putting makeup on to play again, I’ll get back to that kind of content too, but for now this is my creative outlet!

What are your hobbies/ outlets? Do any of you enjoy reading/ writing too? Have you become a parent as well and still trying to figure out where everything fits/ if things will ever go back to some semblance of normal where you have time for your own things too? Let me know.

Love,

Twinkle xoxox

Makeup, Youtube, Videos

Returning to Work After Baby

It seems like only a short time ago that we were bringing Christian home from the hospital, and not too long before that waddling around with my bump, wondering if I would stay pregnant forever! (I went 1wk 6days past my due date before being induced). I’ve had 6 glorious months off, but we now find ourselves in a place with many others, it’s no longer financially feasible for me to stay off.

And yet, here I am after my first week back at work – albeit part time. I dreaded coming back, agonized over whether I would be able to pump enough at work to keep my milk supply up for baby the 2.5 days I would be away from him, whether I would cope with not being with him the majority of the 24hours in a day. Well, after the first week back at work, I can happily say: It’s not that bad.

Being at work on a Monday, Wednesday and for half the day Friday gives me the headspace I need from baby being totally dependent on me, to allow me to enjoy the time I get with him more. And by the time I’ve had enough during my working days, I get to go home and know that the next day I’ll be home with Christian.

I DO miss him, and it’s been a big adjustment, for both me and my husband who looks after him on Mondays and Wednesdays. Learning how much expressed milk to leave out for him, teaching him how to have it ready to go before Christian kicks off but not waste any, and much earlier mornings than my husband has been accustomed to. Breastfeeding has been an amazing journey so far, but not without it’s downs as well as amazing ups. I’ve learned that I am on call 24h a day, whether I’m at work or not. With me on nightshift, Hubby gets the advantage of sleeping through unless something is very wrong, which thankfully is seldom.

Now I’m back to work, because I start earlier to finish earlier, he has to get up from his peaceful slumber in the spare room at 6.30am and crawl back into bed beside our child, who doesn’t always stay asleep until his usual waketime between 8.30-9.30am. Neither of us are morning people and we aren’t terribly nice when we haven’t got enough sleep, either. We have to learn to try and be kind to each other even when we’re frustrated, because we know the other is not the problem, tiredness is.

I hope that my husband is learning how tiring it can be, staying at home with the baby, and appreciating that most days I don’t tend to hand him the baby for “his turn” as soon as he comes in the door from his own work, but that a little help in that case goes a long way. But it makes my heart so full and proud to see his confidence growing with his son, and now him knowing (as I always knew) that he can indeed do it, and is a very good daddy.

I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to return to work part time, and that things have worked out so that we don’t have to pay a fortune for daycare for Christian, which we just wouldn’t have been able to do. I’m not yet ready to be away from him for that long that often, and have been saved the ordeal of trying to find someone we don’t know or trust to leave our most precious possession with all day.

How did you find returning to work after having a baby? Let me know your experiences below!

Love, Twinkle

xoxox

Lifestyle and Parenthood

5 reasons to love night feeds – Why I don’t mind my baby not sleeping through all night.

If there was one thing I heard more than anything else, when I was pregnant, it was “Get as much sleep as you can now, you’ll not get any when baby comes!”. I heard it so much I think I even put it on my list of “What not to say to pregnant women”!

I’m writing this post just after the first feed of the night around midnight. The truth is; it hasn’t been that bad! For me, anyway. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey of motherhood, it’s that every pregnancy, labour, birth and baby is different. Christian does sleep good 3-4 hour stretches through the night which is amazing for a breastfed baby (breastmilk is easier and therefore quicker for a baby to digest, so they become hungry again faster than formula fed babies.) But here’s why I don’t mind…

1. Being in tune.

My body has tuned in to Christian at night. I naturally wake as he does, before he cries, I can hear him rustling and grunting as his hunger stirs him. I get him before he fully wakes, so I can pretty much feed him and put him back down in his cot again – fast asleep. Because of this, I’m not jarred out of sleep and my body has adjusted to this new pattern, so I normally don’t feel too bad and get altogether 8-10hours sleep a night. It’s amazing how rough a day you can take on with a decent amount of sleep.

2. Prolactin.

This hormone is vital to milk production and it does its work at night. Feeding through the night keeps my body making enough for my son. No waiting for bottles in the middle of the night, and it’s free food for baby. Winning!

3. Reducing the risk of SIDS and breast cancer.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is still not totally understood, but there is proof that breastfeeding helps reduce the risk, along with a whole host of other benefits for mum! It also makes co-sleeping safer as you’re more aware and in tune with baby. I bring Christian into bed with me from the 5/6am feed onwards, as he is more restless and in a lighter sleep, and it’s easier for me to settle him without having to get out of bed. I do put him in a nest, so I won’t lean on him and he won’t fall out of bed! **always follow safe co-sleeping advice if you’re going to do it, but studies have shown that mums who co-sleep actually get more sleep!**

4. Brain Food

Tryptophan, Melatonin and Serotonin. Those are the three biggest words you’ll see in this blog but don’t worry, I’ll explain.

Tryptophan is an amino acid we get from our diet that our bodies make into serotonin. It’s very important for brain development in babies as our bodies can’t make tryptophan and babies can’t make serotonin either. Serotonin helps control moods and sleep (happy hormone basically).

Melatonin helps with our circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) and is what helps us sleep through the night.

This amino acid and the two hormones are highest in our bodies at night, So feeding baby at night is also feeding their brain and helping teach their bodies how to sleep properly at night too eventually!

5. Bonding

Not going to lie. With all the scientific benefits in the world – this reason is hands-down the best for me. There’s something blissful and peaceful in those quiet moments in the dead of night where it’s just me and Christian. Where, in the dim light, I can just see those sleepy milk drunk smiles with his warm body snuggled into mine. And the unique baby smell of his little fuzzy head. And watch his “surrender to sleep” pose as I pop him back down in his cot (cover picture lol).

I really underestimated how much I get from feeding him myself until I introduced the bottle now and then of expressed milk – mainly so that if I had to be away from him he could still be fed easily. I cried when I gave him the bottle because of that loss of physical contact!! (He was totally fine and pretty content).

Almost makes 4am seem appealing. Almost. Lol.

Breastfeeding isn’t always beautiful and easy. It can be hard but I promise, it is so worthwhile. If you can – perservere. If you can’t, for whatever reason, I also salute you – for making the best and hardest decision for both you and baby – as long as baby gets fed, and baby and mum are both happy and sane, I’m all on board. Sanity is underrated, and postpartum is bloody hard.

I’d love to hear about your experiences or thoughts too – as they say, it takes a village!! Let me know in the comments.

Love, Twinkle xoxox

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Blogging – Goal setting for Winter

It’s not always the easiest now getting time to sit down and put together blogs with a four month old to look after now (as well as one Attention Addicted Dog and one Sometimes Incontinent Dog – I sympathise with him but he’s a bit of a nightmare when he’s having a bad day, bless him). It often takes me a week or more to put together one blog and finalise it to the point where I’m happy to publish it! But it’s very important in anything to set goals, especially so for me whilst off with baby otherwise one day melts into the next…

However I do want to put out a blog at least once a week, and have a head full of upcoming topics – and I’m using the strategy that if I pop this post up, I’ll be more accountable for actually putting out the content!

So, a sneak peak of what’s coming….

  • Winter Lookbook – this will be a mix of comfy clothes for lounging as well as for being out and about. My outfits these days need to be comfy and practical but I do still like to look put together (even if I feel anything but!!)
  • Changing Haircolours – what bleach/ dyes I use and tips for how to get the best results!
  • Home Decor – overhauling the house while on Maternity Leave
  • What a GOOD day looks like while on Maternity Leave for me
  • Winter/ Mummy Skincare and Makeup Routine.
  • Self Care/ Pampering.

Who knows, I may even manage to get one or two videos ! (let’s not get too excited on that front though.)

Are there any topics you’d like to see me cover or hear about? Let me know in comments!

Love, Twinkle 

xoxox

Lifestyle and Parenthood

This is Postpartum – 7 things they don’t tell you about post-birth.

SO – you may have noticed that I sorta went into radio silence a bit over halfway through the pregnancy! All is fine – more on that in my other blog about the last few weeks of pregnancy, labour and birth here.

But in this post, I want to talk about something that not many people do in as frank a manner as I think they should to prepare other unsuspecting first time mums-to-be! What happens after the glorious moment that baby (i.e. your new universe) is placed on your chest for the first time and your heart just about explodes as you ignore the other dozen people in the room while your legs are still akimbo while you get checked/stitched up etc etc.

NB: I can only speak with any level of expertise on my own particular labour and birth which was a pessary induced labour at 41+6 weeks of roughly 16-18hours continuously monitored with just gas+air, diamorphine resulting in Barnes-Neville forcep assisted delivery (local anaesthetic for that) with a couple inch long cut made to help get our wee man out, and about 850ml blood loss resulting in a 4.5 day hospital stay, severe anaemia and a blood transfusion.

  1. Whether you’re unlucky enough to be stuck in the hospital for a couple days or you head straight home once you get the all clear, the first thing you’ll notice once the drugs/ anaesthetic wears off is this: Your bits don’t feel like YOUR bits anymore. Completely unfamiliar. This continues for awhile. I started feeling familiar to myself again about 6 weeks pp, but I’m still marginally incontinent if I try and hold it too long which was NOT the case prior to birth. Do your kegels, ladies. But don’t expect miracles overnight either (I had and have been doing my own exercises!!)
  2. The first time you go to pee after birth will be weird (see above). And a bit of a relief, if, like me, you were catheterised briefly just after birth. There is nothing worse than feeling like you should be getting up at regular intervals to go pee normally but neither the urge or ability are there because of the catheter!
  3. The first time you go to poop after labour will induce a fear close to mild panic. Because you will likely feel like everything is about to fall out. And I was on heavy duty iron supplements so my digestive system did not like me – but I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not that bad. It’s better if you utilise your hypnobirthing techniques to be as calm and relaxed as possible to get through it. This too will pass (pardon the pun)!
  4. Breastfeeding – contrary to lines you may be fed pre-natally, is not easy. (Disclaimer: if you aren’t intending to or aren’t able to breastfeed then no judgement whatsoever; this was just part of my journey)                                                                  It’s pretty hard to start with. Getting the right latch, knowing what it feels like so you know when baby isn’t latched properly, how to fix it. The horrible interminable wait while babe cluster feeds and you don’t sleep until your milk properly comes in. The rock hard boobs, possible clogged ducts leading to mastitis from said rock hard MASSIVE boobs. Dealing with slow flow, fast flow, leaking, agonising over whether they’re getting enough. BUT. Once you get through all that – and you will get through it with some help and perseverance, it’s a beautiful quiet bonding experience with baby. The first time I properly gave Christian a bottle to get him used to feeding with both so he could be babysat if needed without me panicking over whether he would get hungry – I cried because I missed the closeness I feel feeding him myself. You will look murderously at your partner, slumbering peacefully, with his useless nipples in the middle of the night sometimes, though. And that’s totally normal and okay.
  5. The postpartum body. The belly. What once felt like it is going to burst may now resemble an apron pocket filled with mushed up jelly. I also didn’t get stretch marks until 39 weeks. They just appeared one morning (I was livid!) so my tummy is now tiger-striped too. I also have NO ab strength to speak of, and my back is weakened from carrying Christian, it has gone in to spasm twice from me not paying attention to how I’m moving and lifting things. Slowly building my strength back up and attempting to love the skin I’m in now! Takes some effort and work! These photos are 10 weeks pp.
  6. You’ll feel both lonely all the time and mourn the fact that you’ll rarely truly do much alone ever again (including bathing or going to the toilet, FYI). It’s a strange oxymoron.
  7. You may struggle to reconcile your new self and identity with the self you were before baby arrived – or even before you were pregnant. Also totally normal. It’s not easy to take this new “mummy” part of you, that is first to get up and comfort baby when they cry or meet their need in some form, and try and fit that in with being a wife/partner, being in your own right with your own needs. You will often ignore your own needs – and that’s not always a good thing. Your other half may wonder when you’ll actually want them near you or touching you again! Your body and mind has gone through some massive changes. I’m still working on it. Jiggly bits, stretch marks, things not being quite how they were before. I’ll get there – so will you. My advice – Talk about it – either with yourself through a journal, with your partner or with another mummy who will totally get it.

No matter what kind of birth you had, I salute you. Its one of the most difficult things to do but it is so worthwhile and I would do it over again – and probably will!

What was your experience? I’d love to hear about it.

Love,

Twinkle

xoxox

Makeup, Youtube, Videos

Why I’ve been noticeably absent (A bit of a hermit!) on all media…

After a great and reasonably consistent year of starting blogging/ vlogging and using social media to promote my makeup/ beauty passion with some great results, some of you may have noticed that I sorta dropped off the face of the earth for the last 4 months.

Some of you may even know why! if you’ve been paying close attention.

Back in November, after a loss of energy, inspiration and motivation, we (my husband and I) found out that we will be welcoming a new member to our family in July 2018!! Which is really really exciting, but as many mums know, the first 12 weeks and sometimes even longer, can  be a bit rough to say the least!

Now I’ve had it better than many, so I don’t want to insult, but my GOODNESS I can’t remember ever feeling so TIRED in my life before! Especially when I wasn’t doing anything unusual or out of the ordinary compared to my usual! But there it is. I was dragging my butt out of bed, going to work, coming home, dozing off for an hour or two, then heading to bed around 9.30pm/ 10pm. Total rockstar-party-animal.

THEN – let’s address the morning sickness thing. Which I believe goes hand in hand with a ridiculously heightened sense of smell. So when I say nearly EVERYTHING made me retch, I’m not exaggerating by much. Strong coffee, exhaust fumes from walking along the street, picking up after the dogs, if the airfreshener in my car was too new, the flavour of oil that my husband has been vaping with no issue for months, the smell of dirty dishes or damp dishtowel. My normally iron constitution has been failing me majestically, and despite being past the 12 week mark now, strong smells and getting up super early still kick my butt a bit in this respect. The only two foods that made me actually throw up were Rice Krispies and Porridge. Yes, weird, no, not eaten together (some people did actually ask that!)

NEXT – clothes. Now before anyone rolls their eyes, yes I know it’s early days and for a first-timer, you don’t normally show much until 4/5/6 months. But I definitely have more of a pooch than I did before in my lower tummy, and cannot bear anything too tight on me whereas before I would confine myself into slightly tight jeans in denial. Now leggings with thick waistbands and joggers are my best friend. Whilst maternity clothing can still be big and loose, I’ve inherited a couple pairs of trousers I’m swearing by right now. My husband is a sweetie and reads me pretty well, and advised my brother in law to get me some NEXT vouchers for Christmas so I could get some maternity/ comfy clothes for myself.

Next – WHY don’t you do maternity departments in store? It’s like the one time in a woman’s life (apart from jeans shopping – which I also detest) that you really do need to try stuff on!!

Anyhoo…I’m now on 13.5 weeks roughly, with slightly more energy and motivation thankfully, so bear with my lovelies, I’ll be churning out more content more regularly again very soon.

Go and follow/ subscribe to my media so you don’t miss the new stuff coming up:

Instagram

Youtube

Love,

Twinkle

xoxox

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Harley Quinn Makeup

So, I wanted to post up and remind myself as well as everyone else that my blog isn’t just all about seriousness and mindfulness!!!

It’s also about having fun!!! and Makeup.

So, without further ado, I’ve popped my latest video below of my take on the Harley Quinn makeup from Suicide Squad!

Enjoy, and please like and subscribe on Youtube please! 🙂

Love,

Twinkle xo

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My Reading List

***Disclaimer: I’m part of the Amazon associate program, which means that if you click through the links in my blogs to Amazon and make a purchase, I get a small amount back. I will only link you to things that I have tried or love!***

Lately, and to be honest I have no idea how I’ve been managing it, but I’ve managed to go back and re-read a few of my favourite books. I’m a creature of habit, and a sucker for a happy ending, so to avoid disappointment I tend to get a collection of books I love and re-read them again and again.

Regardless, I wanted to share one of my favourite series with you all today; The Cynster Series by Stephanie Laurens. I’ve always loved stuff set in Victorian-style era’s. Always loved the gowns, the luxury and glamour of it all. When men were manly men turned out impeccably who swept women off their feet. 

The Bar Cynster are a group of London rakes of the first order, all related either as brothers or cousins of a similar age. They’ve grown bored of the lights and ballrooms of the Season in London and the sharp eyes of matchmaking mamas, and have no desire to be tied down, even to a sweet compliant wife. But of course, fate has other ideas.

However there’s nothing I love more than a strong female protagonist too, so in that respect, the Cynster series ticks all my boxes. Romance, mystery, strong characters, a little hanky panky (but of course!) and a happy ending. I also love a good Mills & Boon although I tend to go through those in a day or so if I”m left to my own devices, and one of my favourites was so old I’ve never been able to find it again! But those are for another post.

But for the Cynster books – start at the start – Devil’s Bride. I have all of mine downloaded in my Kindle app, which is great for reading on the go without carrying a handbag full of heavy tomes.

What are your favourite books to read? Which ones do you keep going back to? (If you’re a weirdo like me that re-reads books lol) Talk to me below 🙂 

Twinkle xoxox

Makeup, Youtube, Videos

Tidy House, Tidy Mind

Lately I’ve been finding that this old adage holds true. We are going through a season where it’s important to pay close attention to our mental health. The challenges we face make it more crucial than ever to do so.

While I don’t think that everyone should have their home Spic and span at every minute of every day – lets be honest, what mum has the time or energy after running after their little one?? Aside from the fact that chaos follows little ones wherever their grubby little paws go…

But I’ve definitely found at the end of the day, whatever kind of day it’s been, once I put Christian to bed, I tidy up the chaos downstairs before I get dinner and sit down for a couple hours. Friday night I did the kitchen too and lit some candles, and found my peace again.

I wonder if it is a control thing; there is so much we have no control over or power to change right now, that if I can bring order to this one aspect it helps me. And the usual satisfaction of a job well and properly done.

What helps you bring order to chaos whether it be in your mind or life? I’d love to hear about it.

Twinkle xo