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:

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Premature and Tiny: Abbey Rose

Abbey Rose was born on October 7, 2014 at 18.27 - five weeks early.
She weighed 4lbs 9oz, with a tiny head, tiny body, tiny everything with some red hair on top to add colour to her pale, fragile body.

She cried seconds after she was born, dispelling any worry about her lungs.

Abbey was taken to the Special Care Baby Unit to be checked out and was tube fed that night while I recovered from the Emergency Section. 

In the middle of the night, she held her breath and set off the alarm on the incubator. She did not have to be resuscitated, but it happened a few times afterwards so the doctors started to treat her for an infection, as they waited for her blood results to be analysed.

They first thought she might have an infection, which was why she was born five weeks early, but that was soon ruled out - she was born so early because she did not have enough room to grow.
Her bloods came back with no infection, so they decided she a form of infant sleep apnea- which is very common in premature babies.

Abbey spent two weeks in SCBU. Suffice to say it was tough - read more about surviving the SCBU here. It was heartbreaking being discharged from hospital, but leaving my baby behind. I thought it would get easier every day I visited, but the more I saw her and held her, the harder it got.

In those two weeks she lost weight and regained it, she was put on caffeine to stimulate her brain, and it worked, the apnea seizures, which only ever happened at night started to become less frequent and then stopped altogether.

My breastfeeding journey will need a separate post, if not a few, but short story is she was too small and weak to feed from the breast initially, so I pumped milk and she was partly tube fed, partly bottle fed for the first two weeks in hospital.

She was in an incubator for the first 10 days, she had a drip for the first week and was attached to an apnea monitor which meant she had a few wires on her. She was a week old, before she had her first babygrow on - size premature.

She also had issues with her hips, the first few days her heels were up at her head, so it was obvious that they were 'dislocatable.' She was later found to have a dislocated right hip and a shallow/clicking left hip which needed correction.

But at two weeks old, she was breastfeeding from the boob, had gained weight and had got over her apnea, we got to bring her home and that was one of the best feelings in the world, as well as overwhelmingly terrifying!

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. Abbey Rose.
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*

Also Check out:
Premature and Tiny: Abbey Rose
Surviving the Special Care Unit
The last leg: The Third Trimester

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.