Monday, 31 August 2015

August Favs and Foes

August is over and unless there is a miracle any hope of Summer sun is gone with it. I won't pretend to be too sad, I love Autumn, leaves falling, crisp weather and cosy clothes.
So here are what I was loving and heating this month - Abbey has included her fav too!

Lancome was my fav mascara in August
Lancome Hypnose Volune-á-Porter mascara
I love volume, I love length but most of all I like full coverage right to the roots.
As a redhead, my eyelashes are naturally blond so despite getting my lashes professionally tinted
every month, my roots tend to show through between tints. So coverage from root to tip is important to me. This mascara uses a hybrid formula of 20% latex and less wax with 306 bristles, resistant smudge-proof while long lasting and sleek one to two sweeps are enough for day time wear. And did I mention a subtle fragrance of fresh roses? The only thing I don't like is the flakes during and after removal - but I am usually in pyjamas at this stage, so who cares!

These are yummy for baby and mummy!
Organix snacks (Abbey approved)
All of them! Abbey loves these and they are great at filling a little gap or keeping her quiet when we are out and about. I like the rice cakes best as they last a little longer than a second! It is great to be able to hand her something which she can eat herself. They use good ingredients, so I am happy to let her have one or two of the snacks a day, I keep them in an airtight container in her changing bag, so a packet will last us just over a week.

Blend, blend, blend

Real Technique Miracle Complexion Sponge
My under eye wrinkles were soaking up my concealer and looking caked recently so I went hunting online for a product or solution. I came across some advice to use a moist beauty blender to blend in concealer and to quickly follow with a setting powder. I found this Real Technique sponge to be dupe
for the beauty blender and the good news is - this advice works! Run the sponger underwater, squeeze it and use to flawlessly blend and set concealer (I use Rimmel Stay Matte powder). I use this sponge everyday, it is great for blending.

My snapchat

Snap Chat phone app
Yes it is addictive, yes it is fun - but it keeps freezing my phone! It is constantly stopping and stalling, and this is the second phone it has terrorised. I do like the app and think it can be fun and I did hear there are new updates to help reduce the amount of space it uses, so that would be very helpful.

No sudden changes!

Sudden Change Eye Serum
This product promises "to look younger in just 3 minutes." And I didn't.
Surprised? Not really, but I was expecting it to be a bit more useful. As an under eye serum it is ok,
but after waiting 3 minutes and not smiling or frowning as per instructions, I felt a little silly when
my under eye wrinkles were still visible.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

She needed my love more than my milk

When I was pregnant, I read a lot about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
I quite like my boobs, so I wasn't too fond of the idea of having them battered and bruised, but the more I read about the benefits, and the more they swelled, I decided I wanted to give it a go - no pressure.
Abbey was in an incubator for a week and spent two weeks in SCBU
Pressure: The day after Abbey’s birth (5 weeks early) I was told quite bluntly that staring into her incubator was not going to help her, I needed to give her my milk.
My body was still in shock, I had not had any leaking beforehand so my boobs were not ready to deliver the precious milk. The lactation consultant showed me what to do, how to use my hand to manually express milk.

She makes me look huge and I make her look tiny!
Abbey in the hospital
Oh the pain, the searing pain, the hot tears on my face as I willed the milk to come. I used warm cloths to help bring the milk down and I squeezed and massaged and squeezed - there was no other option, I had to get my milk, my baby needed it.
My premature, underweight, tiny baby who had a cannula in her delicate little arm, who had wires on her monitoring her heart and her breathing. There was no time to catch up, to focus on healing post-surgery, on my weakness, on my upset or confusion, there was no time to think, I had to squeeze.

I don’t do pain, I don’t push through pain, sweat or tears, that just isn't me, but this wasn't about me.
My baby needed me and I needed to produce. After several hours, it came, the pain was severe but at last the sticky yellow substance (colostrum) appeared.

We bought a Medela Harmony breast pump for expressing

Once through, they reassured me more would come, I just needed to keep working at it. So I did, and slowly but surely I started to bring my baby 1ml, 3ml and 5ml of the yellow sticky substance that she needed. The nurses encouraged me, pushed me for more.
I felt so proud for getting it, for pushing past my limits to give her what she needed - but she needed more and I was exhausted.
Eventually they gave me the automatic pump. Oh that industrial hospital breast pump. Yes it took ages to get those tiny drips into the bottle, but it did come and the pain started to subside slowly - and as the pain eased, the substance started to change a milky colour.

We tried to breastfeed from the boob, but she was too small, it was too much work for her tiny mouth. The nurses pushed me, but I said no, my baby is hungry she needs my milk, but she doesn't have the energy, still with a cannula in her arm, still with beeps attached, I wanted to make her life as easy as I could, despite her difficult time.
“Put a tit on it, put it in the feeding tube - just get it into her,” I demanded.

On her fourth day, we started to breastfeed using a nipple shield - as it was easier for her to latch on to. But there were days when it was too distressing for both of us. She had very little patience so if she didn't get any milk after two of three tries she would get upset, which made me upset. At one week old, we were alternating between tube and expressed breast milk, to keep her energy up. At two weeks old I moved back into the hospital for three nights and we started breastfeeding again, because the nurses said full time expressing would be too much work.
She latched on using a nipple shield and fed every 3 hours  - perfect. Her weight returned to her birth (just 4.9lbs) and we got to bring her home.

At home during the day she could go two hours between feeds, but at night, she was still feeding almost every 90 mins. I was exhausted and emotional. I had to bring her into bed with me to get even 15 mins rest. I never took to breastfeeding, I certainly didn't enjoy it, I endured it - but it wore me down. I would cry at night when she cried. She was so much calmer when her father held her - and this made me upset. Despite all the help from my husband and family, I felt so alone, the weight of the responsibility bared down on me - she needs me, me alone to provide for her.

In the middle of all this Abbey had been born with a dislocated hip and needed to go to Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin (2 hour drive away) every week for a check up, she was also put into a brace which made feeding much more awkward.

Abbey in Temple Street Hospital
I wasn't in pain, there were no latching problems and my baby was growing properly.
But I decided to quit breastfeeding after six weeks so I could love my baby.
I knew if I had stuck with it I would slip into some sort of depression. I was not enjoying my baby and I resented how calm she was with everyone else but me.
My little newborn who fought so hard to get out early and survive. My precious, beautiful tiny baby needed a happy mum, not a stressed one who was annoyed every time she cried.
I decided she needed my love more than my milk.

Having a cuddle after a night time bottle feed
As soon as I made the decision, I felt better. It took over 2 weeks to wean her onto formula. She loved it, she started to sleep better and became a little bit more content in herself. And I got to love her, to cuddle her, to watch her daddy feed her, to take a little step back and enjoy being a mother.

This is not a post against breastfeeding, I am pro breastfeeding, but it didn't work out for us. 
Quitting was the best adult decision I have ever made.
Would I breastfeed again? Absolutely.
Would I recommend you to breastfeed? I would advise you to try it, and to make the best decision for you, your baby and your family.

What was your experience of breastfeeding?

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Bog hopping on Causey Farm

As a farmer’s daughter the idea of going to a farm for a party, holiday or day out is slightly strange to me. I understand how the idea could be fun for city folk - but for me, it's a bit like returning home!

But never one to say no to a trip, I packed my wellies and headed off for a friend’s hen party to Causey Farm in Co Meath, Ireland.

This is no ordinary farm, it is a fun filled, educational and entertaining experience that really do cater for everyone’s tastes, young and old. I was surprised to see we didn’t have the farm to ourselves, there were school tours, youth groups, international students and other hens running around the place enjoying the facility.

The farm is family owned by the Murtaghs who find time to run a fully functional  300 acre farm in between all the bog hopping.

Bog hopping at Causey Farm, Co Meath
Bog what? Bog hopping! The bog has many nicknames such as 'child slave labour camp' amongst those who had to help “win the turf” as children - so to see the fun side of the bog was really amusing. Bascially wet bog is a little like quick sand, if you get stuck in it it is impossible to get out - but you can also fling bits of bog and push your dear friends face down in it! Bog is also good for your skin. It was so much fun to get out and experience the bog in this new way.

My beautiful brown soda bread ready for the oven
We also got to roll up our sleeves and make brown soda bread - which was delicious with some jam. We par took in some ceili dancing, cow milking and to top it off our own clucking hen jumped on top of a large pig - which had never been achieve before!

Usually a hen party is all about the glamour, so it was great fun to let our hair down and forget about our looks - and some of us finally got to see the fun side of the farm away from the stress of daily activites at home.
The 'hen' milking a Causey Cow
After having a look around the websites, Causey farm hoosts Pooka Spooka for Halloween and The Causey Christmas Experience which even Santa Claus takes the time to visit!

Would I return?

Yes. I really want to go back to try A Victwardian Escapade at Clonard House. I love Downton Abbey and this experience allows you to dress up as the downstair servants and the lords and ladies upstairs! Get me there now!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Bringing Home Baby

I was excited, scared, anxious, relieved and overwhelmed when we were allowed to bring our baby home. Our tiny little premature hero had spent two long weeks in the Special Care Baby Unit, she had been pumped with caffeine with antibiotics and had wires covering her body and had been watched every day for 24 hours be professionals.
I wanted her home, I wanted to be alone with her, I wanted to be her mother without supervision, but I was also daunted by the task. I had no experience with any babies, let alone a tiny 4.9lb premature newborn and neither did my husband.

Abbey in the incubator in SCBU
The drive home was slowest, bumpiest journey ever. How had I not noticed all the bumps, all the dangerous obstacles on the road, before now? My hubby felt a little overwhelmed having to safely deliver us home and  keep an eye on baby in the mirror. I probably should have sat in the back with her, as I was almost permanently looking behind me. But this was our first journey home and I wanted to share it with my husband up front.

When we arrived home and had safely brought Abbey inside to the sitting room, where a cosy fire was burning, she woke up for a good look around. It was all a little surreal - what do we do now?
Cup of tea, change her nappy, does she need more sleep, maybe I should try and feed her or should we just sit here and enjoy the moment? The lack of routine, the quiet chaos buzzed in my head.

Of course everyone wanted to meet the new addition to our family, but we had kindly asked that only grandparents visit on the first day, just to get her and ourselves settled in. The afternoon passed in a blur, a happy fog. She was feeding every 2.5 hours during the day but I quickly discovered the first night at home that she wanted to feed every hour.

But who needed sleep - I had my baby and we were home, we were a family and it was the most amazing feeling.
Here are my tips for bringing home baby, I will do a post on newborn essentials soon.

Bringing home baby

Abbey's first car ride home
The Must Haves
Yes babies need lots of stuff, but lets simplify the first few days at home - you will NEED a car seat, baby blankets, baby clothes, burp cloths, nappies, milk (boobs or bottles & steriliser) and a crib. Thats it for now.

Get some family or friends to cook or leave in some food for you, you do not have the energy to even think about cooking for at least the first week. If you are a very organised person, freeze some meals in advance of your due date.

Everyone wants to meet your new baby and they also want to congratulate the new parents and hear the war stories. This is exciting and fun, but my advise would be to limit visitors for the first few days. You need to get to know your baby, s/he needs to get to know you in this strange outside world. There is plenty of time to meet everyone - keep it limited to immediate family and friends for the first week.

Room Temperature
Winter or Summer, you baby needs to be in a neutral room temperature. S/he does not need the heating to be revved up, neither does baby need air conditioning. I do not like much heat at all, so to try and gauge the real temperature I wore just a vest and light trousers around the house, if I felt cold I put the heating up, if I felt very warm I turned it down.You baby needs to get used to their own environment.

Cards from well wishers

Some people start their newborn into a routine as soon as they get home, I don’t recommend that just yet, but do try to decide on a few things to help the transition. Turn down lights at night and speak softly, decide where the baby will take naps during the day and try to keep it constant. Change nappies in the same place, feed your baby in the same place - these are simple but effective in helping your baby to settle into your new home.

Putting my feet up, while Abbey sleeps on
her father!
Be Organised
You probably got a lot of information leaving the hospital, sort it out into what is important or what is just reading material. Have important phone numbers on hand, as well as your thermometer, put the info on check ups and vaccinations into a safe and accessible place - put reminders in your phone.

Get Comfy
You are home, in your own surroundings, make sure you are comfy. Get into your pyjamas! Try and sleep when the baby sleeps, if you cant sleep at least rest. If your partner or family can tidy up or clean the house, it will go a long way to helping you relax. Snuggle up with your baby, take in every little movement, smell and moment, enjoy this time.

Spread the love
The birth of your baby, bringing your tiny one home, getting settled in can all be very emotional, hectic and sometimes panicked. Your focus is on your baby and making sure they have everything they need, if things don't go as planned, you will get upset, angry and even irrational - This is normal! 
If you have a partner or even a loved one helping you out, try to remember to use the words please and thank you and when you have a quiet moment tell them 'I love you.' They are anxious too, they want everything to be perfect also embrace those around you, don't push them away.

Also check out:
Surviving the Special Car Unit
Premature and Tiny: Abbey Rose

Thursday, 30 July 2015

July Beauty Favs and Foes

I love to watch and read people's beauty favourites each month. Sometimes it gives me inspiration to buy stuff, but more often than not I feel it keeps me informed on new products!
But what about those products that did not work for me? I want to let you all know about them too - to warn you, advise you before you purchase.
So here goes, let me know what you think - if you have a similar post leave a link in the comments below please.

Olay Regenerist

I have already written a post about Olay Regenerist serum and moisturiser here. But I wanted to include them in my favs of the month, because I have seen actual results. Now this would be a wonderful opportunity to show before and after pictures .... but I don't have any non make up old and
and wrinkly photos of myself (for a very good reason!). So you will just have to believe me, when I wake up in the morning or take off my make up in the evening, I can see an improvement. My face looks and feels smother, the areas which were really red have been reduced and either my vision has got more blurry or those lines around my eyes have actually reduced.

Matrix Oil Wonders
As a red head, my hair rarely lets a product dominate it. My hair is thick, it is wavy and a lot of the time does what it wants - a free spirit! So when I came across this product I was not expecting much. On first Spritz I noticed my hair instantly brighten, despite still being very damp after a towel dry. When I took to the hair dryer, I was shocked to realise how little hot hair was needed. It had reduced my blow drying time by minutes and my hair felt smooth, shiny and manageable! This has made it onto my list of Favs, because I no longer dry my hair before using this bottle of magic. If you are looking to reduce your 'getting ready' routine by a few minutes - try this!

Vichy Purteté Thermal Range
I was very excited when I was sent Vichy Cleansing Milk Balm and Toner from the new Pureté
Thermale range.
I really wanted to love this, it looked good, there was no smell, it seemed gentle and it had a lot to boast about. But after a few uses, I had to admit defeat.
The Cleansing Milk Balm is very gentle and nourishing, it does not leave any residue and did not cause any irritation, but it is not a good make up remover. The toner is also nice and bubbly, but both failed to impress me in anyway for taking off the day. I have been using both in the morning sometimes and they are hydrating - but then again so is water ...!

So Su polish 24 hours after application

So Su nail polish
I love So Sue (Suzanne Jackson) - fashion blogger, model, fitness inspiration and business lady - what is not to love?
The answer is her nail polish.
I had watched her announcement, read the reviews, stared at the nail polish stands and was only too excited to receive some samples. The colours are beautiful and they look so shiny and gel like on - but none of the colours lasted more than 24 hours without chipping on my finger nails. Maybe it is because my hands are over worked, as the colour did last on my toe nails for almost two weeks, but I get better use out of cheap as chips polish than So Su, which promises at least one week of no chips.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Surviving the Special Care Unit

When your baby is admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit or Neonatal Unit it is difficult, it is confusing and it is upsetting, but you have to figure your way around this new and unexpected world.

I say surviving the Special Care Baby Unit, because that is all you can do. You can’t plan for tomorrow or next week, you must survive the day. You must push through the set backs, the continuous tests, the temporary diagnosis, the daily weigh ins and all the foreign bodies poking into your baby. 
Because this is the best place for your baby.

Abbey in the incubator

Your baby
I am sure for any first time mother, it is difficult to comprehend that this perfect being in your arms is your baby. But if you are forced to look in at your tiny bundle, to stand by when they are crying or upset when all you want to do is cuddle, to hold, to care for your baby, but you can’t, then you really do feel detached.
She is my baby, despite the wires and monitors, the drip and the feeding tube, she is mine.
Ask - ask what you can do, ask if you can help. The nurses in Cavan General Hospital SCBU were angels, they had so much patience and kindness for my questions, for my requests for skin to skin and for my distress. Take control of what ever you can - for me it was to provide breast milk, that was my "job." More on breastfeeding soon.

Get Support
Like with any new born baby, you need the support of everyone around you, family, friends and neighbours. For me it was getting lifts to and from the hospital, getting nappies, clothes, having meals cooked at home etc. Delegate some one to answer all the well meaning questions, and to inform well wishers to keep their distance.You do not need to hear the question “When is she getting home” 
twenty times a day when you just don’t know.

Visiting times
The visiting rule in Cavan SCBU allowed only for parents and I have to say I was happy with that. I got to spend so little time in contact with my baby, I really didn't need to be sharing that time with anyone other than my husband. If your hospital doesn't have this rule, work out short visiting times for immediate family.

Your Partner
I can’t imagine what the experience of SCBU was like for my husband. I didn't have time to think about him, but looking back now I realise it must have been hell. At least I could provide breast milk - I could do something. The majority of the time she was handed to me for skin to skin, as he was left looking on. I know when I was discharged from hospital, he was delighted to have me home, and all I could do was cry. It is only now I see how soul destroying that was for him. The only thing I can advise is talk, save all your thoughts and news for him. Talk about the news, pictures on Facebook, about the hospital car park - just talk!

Our little glow bug - the wires were monitoring her breathing

Get Out
After the first week in SCBU, I took an hour and a half every day to have lunch and walk around the hospital. Sometimes I called my friends during that walk or I just enjoyed walking - without being in pain (I had suffered pelvic pain). Fresh air does help to clear your mind.

Go Home
The hardest and best decision I made was to leave the hospital after I was discharged. If I had pushed hard enough and kicked up a fuss, I could have got special accommodation beside the SCBU, but at that time we didn't know when she would get home, we had been warned it could be a month and the nurses advised that a month in hospital would drive me nuts. I went home each night and actually got some rest in my own bed, in my Pyjamas with my husband. I needed it so I could be 100% when I was with our baby. Before she came home I spent a weekend with abbey in the hospital accommodation.

It was amazing to finally put clothes on our little baby
I remember taking pain killers every day, but that is my only recollection of my post-partum body. I was too busy pumping milk, calling the ward, driving to and from the hospital and pacing the ward. I did make sure to walk outside every day, to eat lunch and to sleep at night. To be honest I could have rested more, it might have helped with bringing her home. But all new mothers are victims of not resting enough.

Items of distraction
I would have called them entertainment, but when your baby is in an incubator wired up, you will not be entertained. Music, a book, magazine, internet and portable games can keep you distracted though.

Focus on your baby
This is obvious right? Well as you search for a distraction from your own situation, sometimes parents can get talking to other parents in SCBU. You ask about other babies and this can have a negative effect. If other babies are doing better than yours, it can put added weight to your situation, visa versa a positive step for your little one can be overshadowed by a set back for another baby you have gotten to know. The advice is cruel, but stick to your own baby’s welfare. Be nice and talk to other parents, but keep it general.

Free from wires and tubes and heading home
Stay informed
A week into our SCBU experience after numerous tests and diagnosis we learned that Abbey had sleep apnea, which was caused by her premature birth. She just needed time to catch up, she needed to grow bigger and stronger, her mind needed to focus on the art of breathing. We were assured that once the caffeine started to work and she got a few incident free nights under her belt, it would not be a reoccurring issue.  We knew what to focus on - she had to store as much energy as possible to grow stronger and put on weight. She needed the feeding tube as bottle and breastfeeding was taking too much energy from her frail little body. Putting clothes on her would also take up energy, over cleaning took up energy. We understood this and so it was easier to see her with the tube, the wires which monitored her breathing, the drip for the caffeine and just a nappy on. Make sure the medical team explain simply the procedures and diagnosis for your baby.

As I have said before, we were very lucky that Abbey only had to spend two weeks in SCBU, before she was discharged. She has been thriving since.

Also check out: