Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Face time - serum and moisturiser

Almost nine months after giving birth, it is time to try and resume some normality. Going back to work has made me realise I may have been slacking in a number of areas like my skin/beauty/body/wardrobe/diet ....etc! 

So let's start with the most important - The Face. 

Sleep deprivation, night feeds and worry has added depth to the existing and growing lines. Now I know I can't get rid of them, or even stop them (I blame my father's DNA) without cosmetic work, but I certainly want to slow them down and if I can at all - fill them in!
Without a big budget to work with, I decided to use a brand that has been around the block and is popular. Enter Olay.

Olay Regenerist Serum

As soon as I sampled this at home, I feel in love with the luxurious feel. It feels silky and is like a lightweight gel, that slides across my face and instantly makes it feel smoother, filling in a few lines along the way. The "advanced amino peptide complex" claims to regenerate surface skin cells, making skin look smoother and softer. I don't know about the regeneration but the smoother and softer part is completely true.I could almost skip the moisturising step after this, as this serum makes my skin feel so good. It does not clog pores and absorbs instantly. There is a very light smell from it and one pump covers all of my face.

RRP €27.99 on offer in Boots at the moment for €18.66

Olay Regenerist Serum swatch on my freckled hand

Olay Regenerist SPF 30 Moisturiser

I need this, I have fair sensitive skin and I am not getting any younger. The high SPF does means that this is thick, it looks and smells like suncream - well because it essentially is. I don't really believe SFP15 is giving any kind of protection.
As soon as I spread this around my face, it absorbs quickly, making it feel more luxurious than its price tag would suggest. One pump produces too much product for me, about half a pump gets neck and face lathered to perfection. The product claims to have an anti ageing formula to restore firmness and give a more youthful appearance, while blocking damaging rays - here's hoping!

RRP €39.99 on offer in Boots at the moment for €26.66

Olay Regenerist SPF 30 Moisturiser swatch

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Five weeks early - My scary funny birth story

Everybody’s labour and birth story is special. Our baby’s birth can leave us scarred mentally and physically, some move on quickly others linger over the details. There are two words to describe the birth my baby Scary and Funny.
Those two don’t usually go together, but with some hindsight they apply to my story.

Our beautiful baby
At my 35 week hospital check up, I had been sent home on strict bed rest due to high blood pressure. I woke up the next morning looking forward to planning out the rest of my relaxed maternity, but there was no time for that, as my waters broke.
Saying goodbye to our dog Wally
Well, I wasn't sure if my waters broke because in the movie people are ALWAYS standing up when their waters break. I was lying in bed. I wasn't in any pain, but after a few minutes on the toilet, with no let up of said waters, we came to the conclusion my waters had broken. *Funny*

As I wasn't in any pain, and there had been no 'show', I was in no hurry to the hospital (I did call ahead) I showered, packed the last few bits and said goodbye to our dog Wally before heading off into the unknown. I had to stop my husband from making me laugh and weeing myself on the 35 minute journey to the hospital, but we did laugh the whole way there with excitement. *Funny*

At the hospital around lunchtime, they confirmed my waters had broken, but assured me that I was not in labour after monitoring the baby’s heart rate. They gave me a steroid injection for the baby’s lungs, another one would be administered in 24 hours. The doctor told me that they would try and keep me from going into labour for at least another week.
The fitted a cannula in my arm (OMG that was soooo painful) and sent me off to the ward.

I had been feeling light “cramps”, sort of like period cramps, but tried to ignore them since I was not in labour. A few hours later, these cramps got worse. I also had a huge urge to do a number two - but try as I might nothing was happening there! When dinner came around, I thought I might try a bite, and in between severe ‘cramps’ that were now taking my breath, I polished off quite a bit of stew. *Funny*

Checking baby's movement after my waters broke
 When a nurse did appear I said I would like to be checked again, she brought me down to the Labour Ward (in disbelief) and I was checked first by a young doctor and then by my consultant who announced I was 5cm dilated. When they asked what time I last ate and I told them "a few minutes ago” they almost collapsed. *Funny*

That was the end of the funnies, as baby was breached, I was quickly prepared for an emergency section. I signed my life away, got the plastic gown on and was wheeled away from my husband. In between what I now know to be labour pain, I was given the spinal and prepped for surgery. *Scary*

They started to cut me before my husband entered the room, and I felt every bit of it. Obviously I was not in pain, but I couldn't believe the feeling of them slicing me open layer by layer, I almost hopped off the table as they pulled and tugged inside me. It felt like they took out every piece of me before they found the baby. I was petrified. *Scary*

First picture with my baby
When they did pull out my baby, I held my breath for what seemed like minutes, but was really only seconds before she cried. And then I cried. A girl, our baby girl, our daughter.
I cried with happiness and relief, I cried with shock and amazement and I also cried for the unknown. At 35 weeks, would she be ok, had she grown enough, could she survive? They placed her on my chest for two minutes and she was perfect.

But then they were gone, my baby and my husband. She had to be fully checked and my hubby had to go with her. I wanted him to be with her, but I also wanted him to be with me. Because I was still scared. *Scary*

Our baby had to spend two weeks in hospital in the special care baby unit, to gain weight and to be monitored. *Scary*

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

All about 'Me' brows

You know a product is good when you make room for it in your daily routine.
MeMeMe Cosmetics Arch Angel is called a “hero product” and it really does provide a quick and quality fix to unruly eyebrows.

I have blonde eyebrows and eyelashes, so I get them professionally tinted every month or so and top up with home products in between. Usually for two weeks after getting my eyebrows tinted I don’t give them a second glance. It is the last two weeks that they need an upgrade of colour.

Pencils, powders and brown cream eye liner (its actually very good!) are the tools I use to define, darken and fill in my brows. That was until this little product arrived on the scene.

Filling in eyebrows, though not difficult if you know how to colour within the lines, does take a bit of time. As a working mum, time is essence.

The MeMeMe Cosmetics Arch Angel is a duo product which gives you colour, definition and a full look to your brows in one fine sweep. While the other end of the pretty stick has a lovely creamy highlighter that lifts the brow, while also helping to define those hairy arches!

This product is quicker than using pencils or powders and it also sets your brows - I had been using a little hairspray for that job!
The highlighter is very pretty and could be used to highlight your other facial features too.

I know packaging can be superficial, but I like the look of this, it isn't too girly, too young or old. It looks a little sophisticated.

For €10.50 this multi use product is a handbag essential and gets a coveted placed in my daily make up routine. It is available in light and dark brown shades.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Useful and Useless - Pregnancy Products

Babies are big business, and so are the pregnant mamas carrying them. Companies know this and tired, emotional and irrational pregnant women (like myself) are targeted with a whole host of products that are a “must.” But they are not.

Here are my list of Useful and Useless pregnancy products:

Body pillow
Boy oh boy, was this is really a must. Not just the body pillow, but loads of pillows! I didn't get a pregnancy curvy snake, I got my body pillow from Lidl, it was less than €20 and worth oh so much more! It will come in useful even after baby is born.

Prenatal vitamins
These were fantastic, I really think they helped me throughout my pregnancy. I had a really bad cold/ sinus infection in the first few weeks of my pregnancy, but had no other sickness throughout. We all know good nutrition is important during pregnancy for baby and mum, but on days when I craved sugar or was too lazy to cook a good meal I felt safe in the knowledge some good vitamins were rattling around me! I used Pregnacare Plus which had an omega 3 capsule included.

Olay Total Effects 7 in 1 and serum duo
You need to moisturise daily, also there is serum to think about it and a million other things to put on your face before you even think about slapping on foundation. This product claims to help with seven of these issues like fine lines, dull skin, blemishes etc. For the small price you know it won’t do miracles, but I did find it to be a quick and easy product that did help balance out my skin.

Maxfactor Dream Matte Mousse
This is a dream product for all busy women. I picked it up with no real expectations, but it really is a fantastic product. Towards the end of your pregnancy, you feel pretty big and crap and a 15 minute make up routine goes out the window. I'm not saying this will cover up all your skin flaws, but it is easy to apply with your fingers, glides on and gives pretty decent coverage, without the need for powders. Perfect for hospital photos after baby’s birth or for the weeks at home with a newborn, when people come to visit.

Comfortable clothes
Stock up on PJs, if I said it once, ill say it again. Look good in lounge wear. Comfy shoes, comfy maternity bra, comfy clothes. Comfort is the key. Sketcher shoes can really help tired and aching feet.

Bio Oil
Hated this. It is way too expensive and for me it was a no go. I have since realised I do not like oils - I don’t like the feel of it on my skin, or even my baby’s skin. Yes moisturise, as much as you can but I don’t think anything is going to work miracles on your stretch marks. Sadly it is genetic, if your mother had stretch marks, then you will too. I actually didn't get any on my tummy, but a few on my boobs! I did love Palmers Coco Butter firming lotion - yummy smell, quick absorption.

Clothes extenders
They just didn't work for me, I needed a big belly band to go over my bump. It also was fidgety and uncomfortable. So a big no.

Pregnancy announcements
I didn't do this, because I live in Ireland and would be laughed at as well as probably cursed! You know you are having a baby, tell your family and friends. Everyone else can find out when they actually see the little beauty! Also no one wants to see a picture of the stick you peed on...

Unborn baby music
You will be listening to nursery rhymes and lullabies for long enough when your baby is born right up to they go to school, play the music you like for as long as you can! Plenty of time for baby to grow accustomed to Mozart!

A book of names
Baby names - how the hell do you pick one? I was stuck on girl names, we just couldn't agree on one we liked. Did we sit through a book and go from A-Z … um no that is a crazy thought. We looked in newspapers, magazines, listened to the radio and finally agreed upon the name. Maybe borrow one from the library if you must!

Also check out:
Maternity Wear Essentials
The last leg: The Third Trimester
What a pain in the pelvis
12 things to do in the second trimester

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The last leg: The third trimester

I have for a long time battled with the idea of becoming a woman. Not an adult - a woman.
When do we transform from being girls to women - is it turning 18, 21 maybe, finishing college, working full time, making a home, getting married?
I have now decided that before you can become a mother, you must first become a woman.

My definition of a woman has changed as the years go by, but I now think it has nothing to do with being grown up or wise, it is about strength.
A woman is strong mentally and physically, she has experienced ups and downs and knows how to soldier through. A woman knows her priorities, she puts her family first and herself second. She looks at the bigger picture. A woman is determined.
I realised in my third trimester I was not a woman yet, but I had to become one.

Swollen ankles at 33 weeks pregnant
So you might have guessed I found this trimester tough! I was in a lot of pain, mainly with my pelvic girdle pain (or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction SPD), but also with swollen ankles, tummy upsets and general ‘heavily pregnant’ issues. The physical pain, also brought with it a lot of self pity parties.
From about 32 weeks, the pain did ease in my pelvis.

Big baby
So my bump was big, everyone commented on it.
On a trip to the doctor to see if I had a blood cloth in my leg (blame google) he felt my tummy and said that my baby felt very big. When I returned for another check up, he said the baby was so big I would need a c-section. I started reflexology to help ease the pain of my SPD, but quit after spending an evening in floods of tears when the reflexologist asked me if I was having twins and when I said no, told me if I went full term my baby would be 12lbs!! Who tells a first time mother that?! I was scared and so upset, I blamed myself for eating too much and had a complete melt down. 
(Spoiler alert: They were wrong!)

Baby shopping
I had started my baby list in the middle of the second trimester, after I was diagnosed with SPD. The threat of crutches and or bed rest played on my mind and the organised person I am wanted to get everything I needed before I was unable to do so. I did pick up the last few bits early in my third trimester. I will do a post on newborn essentials soon.

I really wanted to know if my baby was a boy or girl. I had no preference, but I wanted to know. From our very first scan up to the scan at 35 weeks I asked about gender, but did not get an answer. Our mysterious baby decided early on in the game to not only get into the breech position but also to face towards me, like hugging me, so we could not get a clear picture of the genitals. It was frustrating, but obviously not a big deal.

Her unique comfy position, as well as my bicornurate uterus resulted in very few baby kicks. I felt the baby every day, but no where near the recommended 10 kicks a day. For some reason (despite google!) I was not worried, I felt the baby every day and just knew everything was ok. But midwives and doctors did not feel the same way, so I had a lot of check ups in my last few weeks.

34 weeks pregnant on the non-stress test
High blood pressure
At my 34 week hospital appointment, they found my blood pressure very high. The high BP and the small amount of baby movement caused some concern so they kept me overnight to monitor. It was strange staying in hospital for the first time in my 29 years, especially when I felt perfectly fine. They put me on a non-stress test to monitor the baby’s heart rate and checked my blood pressure every three hours. I was discharged the next morning as my BP had come down, but I was sent home to rest and to finish up at work.
Four days later, I had another hospital check up, I was put on the non-stress test for 30 minutes and my blood pressure was monitored, this time my BP was a little low and they said I was a bit dehydrated!
At 35 weeks I was back again for a  hospital appointment, BP was high again but I pleaded to be sent home on bed rest. Hospitals are no fun! I was sent home under strict instructions to report any faintness, dizziness or lack of movement.

My third trimester finished at 35 weeks.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

What a pain in the pelvis!

We all know to expect some pain and aches during pregnancy, it comes part and parcel with growing and carrying a baby inside your body, but there are some unfortunate souls like myself who get to endure a little more pain than the norm.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) or Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) entered my life at 20 weeks pregnant and did not exit until after my baby’s birth.
I thankfully had a healthy pregnancy, but the pain and discomfort brought by this condition did leave me drained, tired, unmotivated and of course in pain.

The symptoms for me were back, hip and ass pain and severe stiffness. It is caused by a hormone called relaxin which softens your ligaments to help your baby pass through the pelvis - I obviously had too much of it and my pelvic relaxed and moved too far apart, causing inflammation.

When in pain, you should rest - right? Wrong!
Sitting or lying down in the one position for over 20 minutes, resulted in me looking like a 90 year old - a very stiff 90 year old. (My granny is almost 90 and would jump over you, she is so fit!) Trying to get in or out of bed, get off the seat, or out of the car was near impossible. The joints stiffened and any sudden movement brought intense pain.

Thankfully my doctor recognised the symptoms right away and recommended physiotherapy, I know some doctors can dismiss it, but if you are in pain, do persevere. My doctor had a lot of sympathy for me and told me to follow the physio's instructions to prevent me having to go on to crutches or be put on bed rest in the third trimester.

The physio found that my pelvis was off centre and my left hip had moved out of place. She did several therapies, which hurt at the time, but did ease the pain in general. She also gave some do's and don'ts. I have added to this list some of my own advice and tips. 

Most importantly she told me not to push through the pain, which I had been doing and to avoid sitting on couches and to sit on a hardback chair.
Housework left me in agony and driving over an hour a day for work didn’t help either. Pregnancy yoga helped me relax, but some of the stretches did put me in pain.
As I could not go for walks or do any exercise, I put on a stone in weight by the end of the second trimester.

What eases the pain:
- A mixture of rest and exercise. I was told not to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time and to try and walk for 15 minutes.
- Stretches. Some of the yoga stretches and others I saw on YouTube or my physio told me about did help to ease some pain in the evenings
- Physiotherapy. I attended a physio in the hospital about once a fortnight. Although the therapies did hurt during the session, the pain was lessened for a few days after
- Reflexology. I am scared of needles so didn't try acupuncture. I am not sure that reflexology helped to eradicate the pain, but it did help to calm and loosen me up. A calm mind helps everything!

The good news is that after baby was born, my pelvis returned to normal and the pain was gone. Bad news is that I can most likely expect it again if I do get pregnant in the future!

Did you suffer from SPD? And if so what helped you along the way?

Also check out:
Maternity Wear Essentials
Learning a life lesson with pregnancy yoga
The honeymoon of pregnancy: The second trimester

The Do's and Don'ts of Pelvic Girdle Pain

Pregnancy Related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) can make your pregnancy journey a complete pain in the ass (physically!) so here are some Do's and Don't s that I found helped me.

Avoid crossing your legs
- Stand for a long time
- Sit for a long time
- Carry a toddler on one hip
- Cross your legs while sitting
- Sit on the floor
- Sit in a twisted position
- Lift heavy weights (including shopping bags, wet washing, vaccum etc)
- Push heavy objects like a supermarket trolley
- Carry anything in one hand only (like a handbag or shopping)
- Get dressed standing up

- Get phyisotherpay regularly
- Be as active as possible within pain limits
- Ask for help with household chores
- Rest when you can
Get professional help to ease pain
- Sit down to get dresses or undressed
- Wear flat supportive shoes
- Sit down while ironing or other jobs
- Try to keep your knees together moving in and out of the car
- Sleep with a pillow between your legs
- Roll in and out of bed keeping your knees together
- Take the stairs one at a time
- Use a rucksack or an over the shoulder handbag to carry your daily items

You can buy these spikey massage balls online
to target stiff muscles in your back

A plastic carrier bag or sheet on the car seat will help you swivel in and out of the car.
Try to cut out drinking water at night, to lower the number of toilet breaks you need.
Get a shower mat, if you don't have one - you do not need to slip!
Massage your lower back with a spiky massage ball.
If in severe pain, ice the front of your pelvis to calm down inflammation, and put heat on your ass and back to help ease muscle tension.