Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Escape to the 'Spathroom' this Winter

My snapchat to my hubby
I admit it, I love Winter. 
I love the long dark nights, the howling wind and the bitter cold because it means layers of clothes, socks, cosy fires and baths.

Baths really come into their own during the Winter (forget about Autumn in Ireland we have two seasons Winter and Spring!), slipping into a hot bath of bubbles and scents, surrounded by flickering candles and a basket of pampering goodies is hard to justify in the bright Summer evenings.

But after battling, wind, rain, hail, sleet and snow to get home, a hot bath is not only justified, it is deserved. You deserve a little pampering.

Turn your drab bathroom into a 'Spathroom', escape and experience beauty rituals from around the globe.

A bath can be a lot of effort and many I know just don't feel it is worth the time and preparation. But take my advice it is, you need this time, the effort the relaxation.

Fill the bath with lots of bubbles!

Tips for the perfect Spa home experience:
1. Hand over the baby monitor and any other responsibilities to your other half. You need to lock that bathroom door for at least 40 mins UNINTERRUPTED.
2. Set the scene - Have your robe and towel warming on the radiator, light some scented candles, get some relaxing music on your phone/ music player.
3. Have a basket/ box armful of goodies to use for your bath - bubble bath, salts, essential oils, facial mask, hail oils etc find those Christmas gift sets from last year!
4. If you don't like a hot bath use a water temperature - those with babies should have one to hand - so useful. Don't forget a glass of water (or wine) - a warm bath can make you thirsty!
5. Submerge, breathe, clear your mind, relax. (I like to add some classical music too)

My Favourite Bath products:

Body Shop Japanese Camellia Cream
The Body Shop - no longer the cheap and cheerful option, their new  Spa of the World range really is exquisite. The Dead Sea Salt Scrub (€34) gently exfoliates my skin without being too coarse or harsh, this big tub should last you a lifetime of baths. Likewise the large Japanese Camellia Cream (€39) smells divine and feels velvet smooth on my skin. It is pure luxury - just buy it.

Yankee Candles - I know there are a million different candle products, but for me the price, quality and scent of Yankee Candles are hard bet. My current love is for: A Child's Wish
Spa Sanctuary 5 minute Thermal Detox Mask - it warms and then cools on the skin (thanks how I know it is working) before you rinse it off.

Kerastase Age Recharge Mask (€36)
Kerastase Age Recharge Hair Mask - smells good, easy to use and leaves my hair smooth and silky. For a red head with course hair this is no easy feat - so this comes highly recommended.

Johnsons Bedtime Baby Bath - yes the lavender smelling bath lotion to help babies (and adults) go sleepy sleepy. You are probably not going to rave or tackle any chores after your bath so why not slip under the duvet and into a deep slumber.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Not due yet, but one month old!

Abbey spent half of her first month in hospital, the other half at home - but she really should have spent it in the womb as she wasn’t due out yet!
One month old, Abbey has her brace on under her padded dress

She had a hectic first month and although looking back it seems to have gone in a flash, I know that to be untrue, the nights were long, very long.

Smiles already or polite wind?!
At three weeks old, she shed her still small  premature clothes and became a much larger baby with a whole body harness for her dislocated hips. Just when we thought we knew how to change her nappy, the game changed, she now had to wear two nappies, interwoven around a large square brace. Despite the chore, she seemed comfy and content in the brace.
Now not only was she tiny, but she was also awkward. We couldn't hold her like a newborn cuddled into the crook of our arms, she was either flat down or up on our shoulder. She seemed to like the height, so she spent most of her time perched on our shoulders.

We tried to not hold her all the time, but she developed a hatred for her cosy and warm Moses basket. A calm sleepy baby became erratic one we laid her down in it. After trying tilting the basket, moving it into a dark room, a bright room , swaddling, not swaddling we found the solution.

Our solution is not recommended - by anyone, especially health officials. But the only way we could get her to sleep was to put her lying on her tummy. We have learned since that babies are spoiled in SCBU as they are allowed to sleep on their tummies as nurses are constantly checking them. A SCBU nurse did tell me while we were there that lying a baby on his/her tummy aids digestion.

Sleeping on mummy ... on her tummy
I was scared when we first tried it, but also relieved. After nervously telling our family, both my mother and my husband’s mum revealed we had slept on our tummies as babies (I still do) and that it was the recommended advice in the 80s.
So we checked on her more often than a sane person should, but she slept soundly, maybe it was the brace, maybe it was genetics - or maybe it was Abbey’s way.

There was no routine at one month, she fed from my breast about 2.5 hours during the day and every 90mins or so at night. Some days were better than others, but it was a sea of exhaustion and newborn cries.

Thankfully we did limit visitors as she had not had any of her vaccinations, so despite the difficulties it did give us a chance to get to know our new family member and she seemed to warm to us!
She is opening her eyes for longer and longer each day, loves being talked to and loves sleeping on her daddy!

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.