A few months ago before Effie arrived I was given a voucher by my in-laws for a pregnancy pamper treat. I love a treatment as much as the next girl but never quite feel as happy as I think I should. So I plodded into Monera in Thame, Oxfordshire at 38 weeks pregnant feeling huge and uncomfortable. I left after a full body exfoliation and massage feeling like I was walking on air. I was given options of how I could position myself most comfortably (and really nothing is comfortable when your tummy is bulging and kicking), it was perfect. And so I vowed to return not pregnant to check it out properly.
Carrying around my little 15lb free weight has made my back muscles ache, so when I had an offer from my mother in-law to have Effie for a couple of hours I immediately thought of Monera.
Set in the picturesque market town of Thame in Oxfordshire, Monera provides a pretty relaxed setting with low ceilings, exposed stonework and beautiful beams. It is popular with local ladies and always has a steady stream of loyal clients. They stock brands including clarins, guinot and bare minerals, plus they also have the amazing range of lashes from Millie Mackintosh (worth a purchase!!)
I booked in for a Swedish massage and asked for it to be firm. This is my main bugbear with most spas and salons, a massage is more of a namby pamby stroke and that just doesn't work for me!
So, how was it?
Firm enough that my muscles knew they were receiving attention, rhythmic enough to make me feel like I could fall asleep, it was blissful. I only wish it went on for a couple of hours!!
You should definitely try it, you definitely deserve it
Monera, 62-63 North Street, Thame, Oxon, OX9 3BH
Tel: 01844 260454
A cunning christmas present from the Mr was tickets to see Tom Odell at Brixton Academy on Saturday night. A gig I had been dreamily looking forward to and dreading at the same time. I don't think I would've left Effie overnight had he not bought tickets in advance. It took preparation and had I still been exclusively breastfeeding wouldn't have been possible.
One of our first dates was to see Kings of Leon before they went all commercial and a bit boring! We had a road trip to Cardiff back then and it remains in my memory as one of my favourite dates so it seemed fitting that we did something similar.
We set off after saying a very emotional goodbye to Effie, parking a Westfield shopping centre we kicked off our day with lunch at Pho Vietnamese and jumped on the tube. We had a quick pit stop at Oxford Circus for my obligatory wander around Anthropologie and then to Brixton we went.
I'd never been to Brixton Academy before, but it's definitely a place I'd like to go again. The main area gives you a feeling of being outside, it's spacious and airy with the stage looking like a country house. There were two support acts one not so good (in my opinion) the other was James Bay with his rich voice and guitar entertains the entering crowds perfectly.
And then there was Tom.
Tom Odell was perfection. Most people sound better live but he really was something else. Totally flawless, entertaining and energetic he played the piano beautifully and sang with the best voice I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. I would urge anyone and everyone to go and see him if possible. He played songs from Long Way Down and he played new material written in the last few weeks in New York.
It was worth leaving my little tinker for and I'm glad he didn't disappoint. I would've been gutted to leave her for something mediocre.
Over the last few posts I have been having problems with my blog. The weebly site hasn't been displaying my posts if you go to them normally without clicking in bloglovin. And if you use bloglovin they don't appear as they should! Which is annoying because I spent time changing the format and style- typical!
So you will now find me at
And I have lots of new things going on, I've been planning, I've been organising and now I'm on blogger I should be able to increase my productivity..... Effie allowing
This week has made me reassess what I need to do with my time in order to stay sane.
I've been thinking it for a while but really it took four consecutive days of doing the exact same thing for me to realise that in order to be happy and stimulated I need to plan more in advance. I guess if I plan it will also help me budget how much money I'm going to need and when!
So after four days getting up, getting dressed and getting Effie ready then going to sit at my mums house and watch tv/read magazines/chat. I'd had enough. Don't get me wrong, my mum has been my life saver so far since becoming a mum but I think that we've been spending far too much time together and that time doesn't feel like quality anymore, just quantity.
So Friday I got ready as usual and instead of driving to my mums I drive to the local town and went shopping. Normal right? But not so easy with a little one, I used to love my own company before having a baby but I think I've been afraid of it since I had her. The what ifs are endless, what if she starts crying somewhere awkward, what if she needs a nappy change and I can't find a changing room, blah blah blah.
It was the best day! Effie sat smiling at me from her buggy, we wandered around just enjoying being outside together. I changed her and breast fed her in pleasant surroundings (thank you m&s), I had lunch in costa whilst Effie played with my extra long spoon and then had her bottle. I spent my entire budget on stuff for the kids, typical!!
It made me feel happier about getting out and doing things. I am certain there will be the nightmare day where everything goes wrong but living in fear of that day isn't mentally stimulating me or Effie. So on Saturday instead of the normal everyday boring chores we went to the park, as a family. The sun was shining for the first time in ages and it was blissful.
Spurred on by my successful days I enrolled for sing and sign to help Effie communicate with us and to meet more people. Doesn't start until April but it's something to look forward to. I looked at water babies classes but it's quite expensive so I'm vowing to take Effie swimming once a week, she only manages half an hour but she loves it and is usually so tired afterwards I get a peaceful afternoon whilst she sleeps! And we start lazy daisy wrigglers on Monday, following the tinies course we did last term.
More planning needed but it's a good start and the mental realisation that I need to get out and be independent again is a turning point.
First time on the swings was a success!
I started breastfeeding and it all went swimmingly, I read many differing views online and decided that feeding on demand was the way to go. Babies aren't able to communicate and if they're hungry then they must need milk because they're growing so fast and that can only be a good thing, right?
What I am now dealing with and have been for the last three weeks is a baby who snacks. Constantly. And as much as I want her to be happy and thrive I also want to keep my sanity. It started with a shopping trip to ikea, Effie was crying for a feed, I went to the breastfeeding area and started feeding her, there was another lady in there already with her son happily feeding away, very still, very relaxed, my little bobblehead was on, off, on, off, on again then off. We were there for approximately 7 minutes, she probably fed for 4 of those minutes. All the time the little boy next to us stayed very still contently sucking away.
She was still moaning, not because she was too hot or too cold I checked both, she wasn't under stimulated or over stimulated because I tried the usual tricks for both, she wasn't tired because he had been asleep for quite a while not long before her crying started, I went to check her nappy in the baby change and she cried hysterically. I tried to soothe her and she started sucking on my shoulder, So I tried feeding her again and she was happy to feed. For five minutes. Then done again.
You see the problem with demand feeding is that the baby learns that they can feed whenever they want as much as they want, they may not actually fill up. And when they then have a growth spurt and need to feed more they might feed for a couple of minutes more but chances are they'll add a feed or two throughout the day. It is not practical to be feeding a baby 10 or 12 times a day for three months solid. But through the demand feeding method that is exactly what I got.
I have spent the last week attempting to regulate her feeding with a proper routine (thanks to the baby whisperer) we are gradually stretching her out to three hourly feeds and she sleeps for longer and better at night. We still have a long way to go but it's a start. There is already damage that can't be undone and that is to me mentally, I made the momentous decision to add in some bottle feeding using formula instead of expressed milk. It doesn't sound like the most controversial decision in the world but actually these days it is.
The pressure placed upon women these days to exclusively breast feed for at least six months is huge. My friend attended NCT classes recently and the teacher wasn't supposed to cover bottle feeding at all, luckily she covered it at the request of the class as it turns out my friend couldn't breast feed. After staying in hospital for a few days it became apparent that breastfeeding just wasn't an option for her and happily her and her new baby began bottle feeding. Are we supposed to just keep women in hospital if they can't breast feed just to increase statistics? Surely the best thing for mother and baby is that they are both happy? Breast might be best for baby but if it isn't mentally a good decision for the mother she shouldn't be made to feel guilty.
Because that's exactly what I feel, guilty that I'm giving Effie formula, I feel a failure because I have introduced bottle feeding into our routine.
But she is happier. She is more content. She is cooing and gurgling more. Making chatty little noises more frequently. Attempting to roll over. Finding her hands and grabbing things. We are also sure she's started to teeth.
A happy baby is happy regardless of how it's fed, a happy baby is happy because it has a happy mother who isn't pressured and stressed. And in my opinion feeding on demand compounds that stress and difficulty.
We have managed to get Effie to take up to 120ml of formula to date, that's the recommended amount for a baby half her age. So if you have a 13 week old who is still demand feeding 10 to 12 times a day, bear in mind that actually with a routine they could be feeding 5 to 6 times a day. Imagine what you and your baby could be doing in that time, learning, developing, sleeping! Lovely!!
And was disappointed by what I could see. I suppose as all women do I've never really rated myself highly in the looks department but I've always tried to take pride in my appearance. But since having Effie I have completely forgotten myself.
My roots are inches long, the last time I painted my toe nails was before I gave birth (and I am still wearing the remnants of that polish), not to mention my previous body hair removal routine that has completely gone out of the window in the last 11 weeks.
I found myself in the queue at the post office with my (clean) hair scraped back into a unfashionable messy mid bun with no make up on, my outfit not really matching and realising that I'm wearing uggs everyday.
What happened to me?
I am prioritising my little bundle of gorgeousness, the one who looks cute even when she's just thrown up everywhere. I guess that's part of what being a mum is all about, being selfless and putting someone else's needs before your own. In one way I am proud that I have managed to end up outside the house without make up and without my hair hiding my face. Truthfully I was never brave enough before Effie came along, too worried what other people might think, afraid of judgement.
That disappeared the moment I had my baby, I found that most people were just impressed that I had merely managed to leave the house at all (do lots of women just hibernate?).
So for now I will embrace my new found skill of being unselfconscious. But I will also remember that its time to let Dean help me when he offers, I don't have to just insist I'm fine and carry on as I am. He wants to have her more, he misses her when he's at work during the day, misses out on all the new little things she keeps doing. Maybe that's where my selfishness has manifested, I keep Effie all to myself too much, I want her all to myself because I love her so. But I didn't make her alone.
So time to hand her over, go upstairs and run a bath. I might even sort out those toenails.
Given that 2013 was focused on having a baby by counting down the weeks, days and hours left until maternity leave, buying little outfits and decorating the entire house ready for the little arrival I think its time to find some focus for 2014.
1. Make a budget and stick to it.
Maternity pay does not cover all of my bills, so my entire savings will be making up the deficit. Worth every penny. But I also need to make sure that I can get as much time out of my savings as possible. So it's time to make a budget and stick to it. Time to find things to do for free. Time to plan out our food shopping without spending a fortune and being left with lots of things that go past their sell by date before I think about cooking them!
2. Learn some professional skills.
I have spent most of my working life in retail, I have progressed, I earn a very nice amount of money but I work hideously long hours in a busy shop and find myself physically and mentally tired every day. So, in order to help me find a job in another industry I am going to be learning some professional skills. Microsoft office is another language to me and its a language I will be learning in 2014.
3. Get my creative mojo back.
Before I fell into my job I studied art and design, I loved it. I loved making things. I loved the processes of creating, technical and theoretical. I will be making things. I will stop spending money on things and will make them instead.
4. Not be so lazy.
I will write more often. I will plan my days more successfully. I will stay on top of my household chores. I will be on time more often.
5. Set some goals.
Upon reading one of my favourite blogs recently the concept of a bucket list hit me. I have never had one. Sure I've had things in my head that I've always thought about but I've never really been definitive about what those things are. Time to write a bucket list of my own.
I hope I can fulfill these goals this year. I've tried to be more realistic, none of the get fit, lose weight, win the lottery type goals! Fingers crossed, determined head on.
At this time of year we always look back at the year just passed and reflect. For me the year was clearly divided personally and professionally.
Professionally it was my most challenging year ever, changes in my work place affected me more than I could imagine. Faced with a living hell whilst pregnant I could only count down the days to maternity leave, my emotions were all over the place not only because of the hormones but because I felt bullied in a place where I had once felt so happy. Things change and thankfully bosses move on and I hope that when the time comes for me to return to working I can either find something new and exciting that fits in better with my family life or that many of the problems have disappeared with the person that caused them.
Personally it was my best year ever, my relationship with my husband became stronger, my step daughter flourished and I became a mother to my own baby. When everything was going badly elsewhere I could rely on those people to keep me going, even if it was as simple as Ella telling me jokes from her Harry Hill book, I am glad I have them.
I am looking forward to a happier, more productive year ahead.