Miss to Mrs!

So….last week we got married! It was a beautiful ceremony (I got ever so emotional and cried my way through it!) in an amazing venue in Cornwall called Polhawn Fort. (It’s well worth a Google just to get even half an idea of how beautiful it is there!)

It was everything I’ve wanted for so long (hence the crying!) and we had the best day celebrating with our friends and family. I don’t really have a huge amount else to say about it actually, but since you’ve all followed my life in recent years through all the crappy stuff, I always feel like I need to share happy stuff with you all too! So enjoy some wedding snaps and thanks for being here. Again. For nice news as well as bad. 💗

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Birthday Boy! 

Hello lovely people! Firstly let me apologise for not posting in a VERY long time. I think between motherhood, and then going back to work and planning a wedding (oh yeah I’m getting married in November by the way!) life just sort of got in the way a bit! 

So, a quick update on what I’ve been up to aside from being a mummy! We moved house. Again. This time to a much bigger house with a garden, much more suitable for a growing boy to play in and cause mischief. Then I went back to work after taking a whole year off. I’ve been back in work, albeit part time, for the last couple of weeks and I have to say that I’m really enjoying it. I love Arthur, and I’m so glad and so lucky that I was able to take a whole year off work to spend with him, but it is lovely to have adult conversation again and be able to use my brain for something other than planning meals and wiping bums! At the moment I’m working three days a week, which will go up to 4 days a week in September and then full time in January. Three days a week is a lovely balance between work and home life, but we just can’t afford for me to permanently drop my hours. I guess we’ll just see how we go when January comes. Paul is at home with Arthur now being daddy day care while I’m at work. Poor sod works in the evenings once Arthur has gone to bed, so it isn’t an easy juggling act for him, but he is enjoying it and at the moment it’s working for us all. If at some point it stops working for us, then we’ll revisit the idea of a nursery. But that’s a “cross that bridge when we come to it” scenario! 

And yes, we booked our wedding. We haven’t given ourselves long – just four months from booking it to actually getting married but it’s all coming together nicely and we’re all really excited! 

And finally, my now big boy turned one on Saturday. We celebrated with a party at home, and I made not one, but two birthday cakes so that one could be used for a cake smash! I must admit, the cake smash didn’t exactly go according to plan….Arthur cried. A lot! But we have some funny pictures of it that he will just love me for when he’s 18! 

So that’s about it really, I’ve added some pictures of the birthday boy – just look at how much he’s changed! He’s such a sweet, funny little thing with a really funny little personality now. People keep asking us when we’re having another one….my answer (after a visible shudder at the thought of the hellish newborn months!) is that we couldn’t possibly improve on perfection, so why try! We’re very happy being a family of three for now. 

xxx 

Is this normal?! 

In my experience when it comes to parenting the answer to this is almost always yes. In the 10 and a half weeks since Arthur was born I’ve learned a lot very quickly, but the biggest thing I’ve learned wasn’t about Arthur at all; it was about myself. 

We’re led to believe that when we have a baby it’s all lovely and perfect. Maybe for some families it is, but for me it wasn’t that instant. Those first few days you’re so exhausted and hormonal that its all a bit of a blur really, and then you just go on a never ending roller coaster of emotions that challenge you in ways you never even knew possible. It’s only now, that I feel like we’re understanding each other. Now it’s starting to get a bit easier. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat crying and wondering if what I was feeling was normal. Is it normal to not like your baby very much some days? Is it normal to seriously contemplate leaving and never coming back? Is it normal to be so sick of being vomited on that you just want to scream? Is it normal to be so tired that you can’t think straight? Is it normal to 100% believe that you’re a terrible mother? 

In my case the answer to all of these questions was a resounding yes! Thankfully, I have some mum friends who verified that yes, that’s all normal, and yes they’ve felt the same thing (and that list isn’t exhaustive by any stretch by the way) and you know what? That made me feel better. Sleep deprivation is no joke and really can make you feel like you’re losing the plot. Couple that lack of sleep with a constantly screaming/puking/feeding baby and it’s little wonder you feel frazzled. 

I’m extremely lucky to have a very supportive fiancé and family and that has been a huge help, but it doesn’t stop you being hard on yourself or beating yourself up. 

The biggest thing I’ve learned so far in this motherhood lark is that it’s really bloody hard. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? You go in to it knowing it’s going to be hard, and yet somehow it still doesn’t prepare you. I think because “hard” is an abstract concept. Motherhood is 100% harder than you think it will be. It’s still totally worth it, but when it’s so much harder than you expected you do then find yourself thinking it must be you. You must be a crap mother, you must not be able to cope with the sleep deprivation. Let me tell you something; all of us feel the exact same way. 

There’s also a lot of pressure on mothers. Pressure to lose the baby weight, pressure to breastfeed, pressure to have a clean home and look nice all the time. Those pressures don’t necessarily come from outside sources though. Nobody puts more pressure on me to lose weight or keep a clean home than myself. People kindly say “go easy on yourself, you’ve JUST had a baby” and although that’s true, I do not like being this big and no amount of kind words from supportive friends and family will change that. Equally I don’t like having a messy home, so whether you as a visitor to my home expect it to be messy or not, I want it to be clean and tidy. 

The breastfeeding issue though I do feel comes from other people. I’m still breastfeeding Arthur, and it’s really hard. I can’t say I especially enjoy it, I do it because I think it’s what’s best for him; something that’s reinforced by every person who tells me how great it is that I’m breastfeeding. But when the sleep deprivation peaked at about 9 weeks during another growth spurt, and I started to come down with the lurgy a few days later I was all set to give up. I cried A LOT. Paul was, and always is, loving and supportive of whatever I decided but I felt torn that if I quit breastfeeding then I was a bad mother, and if I continued breastfeeding I’d be a bad mother because I was so frazzled and ratty. What nobody tells you about breastfed babies is that they don’t sleep through the night like formula fed babies do, and at 9 weeks Arthur was still waking every 2 hours or so for feeds. It was killing me. Eventually by 10 weeks we decided we had to try something different, so we started giving Arthur one bottle of formula at night. The 1am feed that Paul’s always done with expressed milk has now become a formula feed…the result is that Arthur now wakes every 4 hours for feeds. I feel like a new woman, and Arthur is still predominantly breastfed and still a happy little dude. I am however, terrified to admit this to my health visitor. Why? Because breastfeeding is pushed on pregnant women so much and the health visitor always tells me how great it is that I’m breastfeeding, and how well Arthur is coming along. 

At the end of the day though, a happy mother makes for a happy baby and this mother is so much happier with a little more sleep! 

So the thing I’ve learned is that I’m not a bad mother, I’m just human. It is sometimes really hard, it’s sometimes frustrating, but it’s also worth it all when you see your little one giggling and smiling back at you.  

The etiquette of visiting a newborn. 

A good friend of mine and his husband came to visit us a few weeks ago for the first time since we’d had Arthur. He surprised me by admitting that he’d googled the etiquette of visiting a newborn. At the time I laughed thinking “what an Owain thing to do!” But on reflection it was a bloody good idea! Owain had been itching to meet Arthur and see how we were all doing but wasn’t sure when is a suitable time to start nagging for a visit, and it occurs to me that lots of people probably wonder the same thing while others turn up unannounced on day two when the last thing you need or want is visitors! Here are my thoughts on what you should and shouldn’t do when visiting. 

1. Never turn up unannounced. No new parents want surprise visitors. I was very fortunate to have had a lovely, easy, straightforward birth. I was home the same day and feeling great but I still didn’t want people just turning up unannounced! Always call or text and ask if you can stop by. 

2. When you call or text make sure you give plenty of warning. “Can I come around in half an hour?” Is the most stressful text message I got as a frazzled new mum! I guess people forget how hard it is to be awake, dressed and not crying in a corner somewhere in those first few weeks! I tried to make sure all of our visitors planned their visits at least a week in advance. It meant I knew I had time in the lead up to said visit to make the house look less unloved, be showered and dressed and have my face on. Ideally I’d have Arthur fed and changed and ready for cuddles too if possible. These things may sound unimportant to you, but to be brutally honest, it isn’t about you. A new mum has been through a physically and emotionally traumatic time, and if being showered, dressed and having their make up on makes them feel better able to tackle the day then give them that. 

3. When you make a plan to visit, stick to it or let them know as much in advance as possible if you can no longer make it. As I mentioned in point number 2, it’s an epic mission to be ready for visitors. It isn’t just a case of throwing on some clothes and away we go. If I’ve spent a precious “free” hour cleaning the house for the sole purpose of your visit when I could’ve been sleeping or having a relaxing bath, and then you don’t turn up I will plot your death. 

4. Don’t leave it up to the new parents to invite you around. Mainly because that just won’t happen! Lots of people said to me “let us know when you’re up for visitors” and then backed off. While I appreciated the space, I never felt like I had a “good time” to invite people around and frankly, between the sleep deprivation and the steep learning curve of being a new mum I really didn’t have time to stop and think “right then, who do I need to text now and invite over”. Leave it a week or two and then drop a casual message to see how everyone is doing and if they’re free for a quick visit soon. It prompts us Mombies to remember we have friends who’d like to see us (always a nice feeling) without being pushy. 

5. When you do pop around, keep it brief. We’re Knackered and barely able to string a sentence together most of the time. We can manage an actual conversation for maybe half an hour but that’s your lot! There is nothing worse than having your routine (such as it is) disrupted when a visit you expected to last 30 minutes turns in to several hours of you painfully trying to drop hints while secretly plotting their deaths for not just buggering off already! 

6. Forgive us if we don’t offer you teas/coffees like we normally would. I try and remember to do this when people arrive, but honestly, sometimes it’s been a very sleepless night and I totally forget. It’s not that I’ve lost my manners, or can’t be bothered. Promise. Normal service will resume when we’re all getting a little more sleep. 


Arthur, 7 weeks and 4 days old. 

One year on. 

Yesterday marked one year since that horrible 12 week scan and what was to be the start of the worst week of my life. I try not to dwell on it, as dwelling does no good, so I spent the day doing normal everyday stuff. I went to the dentist, met some friends for coffee and had my hair done. And it was ok. 

I’d be lying if I said my mind didn’t wander, but I needed to be busy and wanted not to dwell on things that can’t be changed. I think I succeeded in that. 

So, a year on and a lot has changed. The miscarriage association are still plugging away doing a terrific job of helping and supporting those who suffer a loss, and I had the pleasure of an email from lovely Ruth (to use her full name) a couple of weeks ago updating me on the latest with the educational videos I talked about in a blog post months ago. The videos have been made and are being rolled out to GP’s, Ultrasound technicians and anyone else likely to come in to contact with a woman suffering a miscarriage, any time now. I’m really glad I was able to offer some insight for this project and so pleased that it’s come to fruition. I sincerely hope it has the effect we all hope it will. 

On a personal level, although my loss still at times feels very recent and very raw it was in actual fact a whole year ago now. In that year I’ve got a new house, new job, got engaged, and of course welcomed little Arthur in to the world safe and well. I’m thankful and very lucky to have all that I have, I know that, and I try very hard not to take any of it for granted. Do I still wonder what that baby would have looked like? Of course. Do I still long for him or her? Absolutely. But then I remind myself that I wouldn’t have had Arthur, and he is pretty awesome so I choose to focus on that on the tough days. 

Although this is a morbid anniversary, I felt I needed to mark it somehow. Just let the universe know that I haven’t forgotten. Will never forget. Here seems as good a place as any to do that since here is where my recovery began really. Here is where I found unending support and understanding, here I found friends accross the world. We dragged each other through those awful times, and celebrated together through the happy times. Let’s hope there are more happy times to come for all of us. 

My Birth Story

Don’t worry – I won’t give any graphic details about placentas and icky bits! However, if you are especially sensitive then maybe don’t read this post because as you probably all know by now, I really don’t sugar coat! 

That said, I don’t think my birth story really needs sugar coating…it really truly was amazing. Mostly people look at me like I’ve grown two heads when they ask me how my birth was with that concerned look, like they’re bracing themselves to hear the horrors…and then I respond with “it was absolutely fantastic and I genuinely enjoyed it!” 

The thing is, how many positive birth stories have you been told? If you’re anything like me it’ll be none. I had plenty of people tell me the horror stories while I was pregnant (yep, thanks for that. Because it’s really helpful to hear all about how you tore from your pee hole to your bum hole 🙄) but not one person recounted a positive experience to me. So I’m going to. Because not all births are traumatic and scary and horrendously painful. Mine is a case in point. 

Looking back, I think I was in very early labour for about a week. My midwife measured my bump as being small at my last appointment with her at 39 weeks and so I was referred to the hospital for yet another growth scan. The growth scan showed that little Arthur hadn’t grown in two weeks and although his heartbeat was still really strong and he was still very active the consultant decided it would be better if he came sooner rather than later. The plan was to induce me on the Friday morning (this was on the Wednesday) so they tried a stretch and sweep that afternoon on the off chance that would kick start things. As it turned out I was already 3cm dilated and the sweep caused contractions to ramp up and become more regular. They got gradually stronger throughout the day Thursday, and then on the Thursday evening my waters went. We took a quick trip back to hospital to check that my waters were clear because they looked bloody – as it turned out though that was just some bleeding as a result of the sweep and all was well so we went off back home. I jumped in the bath, had a good meal and tried to just go with it and stay home as long as possible. But by 10:30pm the contractions were much stronger and coming every 3-4 minutes so we opted to head back to the hospital. 

We were taken to the birthing suite as I had been insistent on wanting a water birth. We were taken to a private room which was really cosy and relaxed. We stayed there from about 11:30pm until 4am. The staff brought us food and cups of tea and monitored Arthur’s heartbeat regularly. 

My contractions were heading the right way and we thought we’d be in that pool in no time at all…until my contractions inexplicably dropped back to being every 6-7 minutes and much more mild. So at 4am the staff at the birthing suite decided to move me to labour ward since I was still only 3cm and so couldn’t get in the pool anyway. 

I moved over to labour ward and Paul went home to get some sleep. An hour later I was phoning him telling him to come back…my contractions suddenly picked back up in the hour that he was gone and by the time he arrived they were constant and very strong. I was pacing the ward unable to sit still with tears streaming down my face. I’d had no pain relief since I tried some co-codamol at around 11pm (which did bugger all to be honest) and these contractions were so strong and so constant that I was convinced I must’ve been close to birth…and then the midwife devastated me by telling me I was still only 3cm. 

They then started offering me pethidine assuming that I really wasn’t coping with the pain. I’d been fairly insistent in my birth plan that I didn’t want anything stronger than gas and air and despite the pain now making me want to go home and not have a baby after all, something in my gut told me to turn down the pethidine and keep going. So I did. I am so glad I did because despite being “only 3cm” by 7am I was pushing without even meaning to. It’s such a bizarre sensation! Your body just does it all for you. That whole “push, don’t waste the contraction” thing that you see on tv just didn’t happen to me. I couldn’t have stopped the pushing if I’d wanted to, it was very much involuntary. I started shouting that I needed to push and again the staff placated me, thinking I couldn’t possibly be ready to push at just 3cm. When they heard me grunting with the next push though they took me seriously and whipped me off in a wheelchair to the birthing suite! I was thrilled when we got to the room with the pool to find that my favourite midwife was there and would be the one to deliver my baby. She was equally pleased that I’d “waited” for her to be on shift! 

I got straight in the pool and was finally given the gas and air – oh wow the gas and air! That stuff is bloody fantastic! By this point I can’t say the contractions hurt anymore, it was more like a pressure than a pain and the pushing wasn’t painful at all. I relaxed completely and let my body work its magic. Two hours later my little man was curled up on my chest! 

I kept thanking my two midwives, Jo and Natalie, but they kept telling me that they hadn’t done anything! They told me I breathed my baby out beautifully…at the time I was so tired, emotional, exhilarated, and frankly, high on gas and air that I didn’t really think about it much, but later when we were settled in our room again just the three of us I thought about their words and actually yeah, I did do it all myself! Neither Jo nor Natalie had any cause to intervene at any point. They monitored Arthur’s heartbeat regularly but other than that they were just there for support. 

I was very lucky and didn’t need any stitches or further pain relief, and we were home later the same day as we were all doing so well. 

Recovery wise, by day 3 I wasn’t in any discomfort any more and I felt good. The worst thing about the post partum period was my milk coming in. Tender doesn’t even cover the feeling, but alongside that you also get the baby blues and constant crying. That was the absolute worst and a definite low point. Thankfully my parents were on hand to help us out, give us a break by looking after Arthur for us to nap and for me to have a soak in the bath. 

So now, one month on we’re all doing well. Arthur is gaining weight beautifully and his jaundice is clearing by itself. 

Breastfeeding is hard going, but worth it as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to give up so many times because it really is exhausting being the only one able to do feeds, but I’ve been very lucky in so much as I haven’t had any pain or complications so I persevere. By week 3 I started expressing one bottle a night so that Paul could take the 2am feed. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this has made. I’ve never been great without sleep and by week 3 I was frazzled and crying a lot – there’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique! 

So, if you’re pregnant, or even hoping to be one day then my advice to you is not to worry about birth. Don’t listen to the horror stories everyone tells you, because it doesn’t have to be that way. The worst pain I felt was when Paul had left and I was on my own. I let the fear take hold of me and that made those contractions so much more painful. As soon as Paul came back and reminded me about breathing and staying calm I coped with the pain again just fine. Fear is your enemy, don’t let it in! 

The other thing that everyone worries about is pooping during the birth…well yup. I pooped. Honestly, I wouldn’t have known though had I not been in the pool. The whole birth experience genuinely feels like you’re doing a massive poo so an actual poo passes unnoticed. Unless you’re in a birthing pool and you witness your midwife playing chase the poop that is! 😂 you’d think I’d have been mortified, but honestly you’re so focused on getting that baby out, and the gas and air just makes it funny anyway that you really don’t care! So, don’t worry about the poop. Nobody in that room cares about it, trust me. 

Arthur Thomas Gingell 

My gorgeous boy Arthur (after his great Grampy) arrived safe and well by natural water birth at 9:25am on Friday 15th July weighing 6lb 11.5oz. 

I will write about my birth experience soon, but for now all I’ll say is it was utterly amazing and everything I had hoped for. 

Arthur is a happy, healthy little boy and we’re all settling in to our new life as a family. I’ll be back soon with more updates and that wonderful birth story but for now, thank you to everyone who’s followed my journey and offered support, words of comfort, and a safe place to vent all my worries. Needless to say, I’m relieved that he’s here and he’s well but I couldn’t have got through this pregnancy without all of your support, so thank you. 💙