Monday, 28 November 2011

Jamie's {edited and somewhat late} birth story 23.08.10

A birth story certainly doesn't make for easy, quick reading, so please, if this is not your cup of tea, do not feel obliged to read it. I have a separate blog about Jamie, but for now it's private, for family and close friends only. 15 months ago {yes, it really has been that long already}, I published my birth story on said blog, and have pondered about posting it here ever since. I'm not sure why I've suddenly decided to share it with you, but for anyone who might be interested, or for anyone that it might help, here it is! I've edited it down {the original version is seriously long}, and tried to keep the gory details to a minimum. If you're going to read it, grab yourself a biccie, a brew and get comfy...

"The birth of a baby creates a family"

4 days overdue, my long awaited contractions finally started at approx. 02:30 on the 22.08.10. I'd had a couple of false contractions for a couple of nights previously, so I waited in bed for a while before realising that actually, these were more painful, coming every 10 minutes and were probably the 'real deal'. Knowing they could go on for a while yet, and that I'd need my energy, I tried to get some more sleep and dozed in between contractions for about an hour. Very soon they were beginning to come more regularly, between 5-10 minutes apart, so I started using Contraction Master {highly recommend - this now comes as an iPhone app} to time the frequency and length of each contraction. I held off for as long as possible, but eventually woke Colin once the contractions were coming on a lot stronger and lasting for approx. 45-60 seconds each, at about 05:30. He called labour ward at 06:30, who instructed us to wait until the contractions were every 1-2 minutes before coming in. I had a warm bath to try and help with the pain - it didn't - and, like a woman possessed, decided I simply had to shave my legs(!) before faffing around for a while until {a very nervous} Colin practically marched me out of the door at 08:00.

The hospital is literally minutes away from our home, although that didn't make the journey any less uncomfortable for me {having contractions in a car, whilst sitting on a towel 'just in case' is not something I enjoyed, that's for sure!}. Once on the labour ward, I was shown to a room where I bounced on the birthing ball, concentrating on breathing through each contraction, whilst Colin tried to distract me with games on his iPhone. An internal examination revealed I was 4cm dilated, coping well, and we were told that I'd be examined again in 4 hours. My BP {blood pressure}, temperature and pulse were fine, as was Nugget's {as Jamie was then called}. For some reason, not that I was complaining, I got moved to a bigger room at approx. 10:30, which had a bath in it that I planned to utilise later. Upon arrival I'd filled out my menu choices {with trepidation}, and come 11:45 I was *treated* to a 'roast' dinner on the NHS.

The next internal examination at approx. 10:45 revealed I was still between 4-5cm dilated, and that Nugget's head was quite high up. The midwife explained they might need to break my waters, if, in 4 hours time, I had not progressed any further. She gave me a sweep {not as painful as I imagined it to be} at 12:30 which prompted the contractions to come on a lot stronger. The midwife needed to monitor both mine and Nugget's heartbeat, so I was confined to bed for a while, although it was quite interesting to see the peaks on the graph each time I had a contraction - Colin could tell which ones had been especially bad {if my squeezing of his hand hadn't been enough of a give away}. I eventually asked him to get the midwife because I was really struggling to breathe through the contractions, which were just so exhausting. I had a bath but it did nothing and I was just in so much pain - nothing I've ever experienced even comes close. She suggested I give gas and air a go, so I tried a few puffs, however all it succeeded in doing was making me feel woozy - it did nothing for the pain, so in the end I just resorted to breathing techniques again.

At approx. 18:45 the midwife broke my waters, which upped the anti on the contractions, making them even stronger and more frequent. Despite feeling exhausted myself, I was very aware of Colin at this point too, who felt so redundant not being able to do anything except provide his hand for me to grip like a wrench each time I contracted, and try to keep me sane. I'm thankful {as I'm sure he is too} that just him being there helped me so much, and that I didn't even feel tempted to call him any nasty names! I suppose I should have guessed, but after a relatively smooth and easy pregnancy, things definitely began going a bit off kilter during labour, and at this point my BP, temperature and pulse sky rocketed.

By 19:45 I really just could not take any more pain {I'd gone from 02:30 to now with no pain relief whatsoever}, so asked begged Colin to get the midwife again. She explained my choices were either Pethidine or an Epidural, and after talking us through each one, left us to think for a minute. After a chat with Colin, and a couple of awful contractions, I decided upon an Epidural. Looking back, I'm incredibly proud of myself for lasting with relatively no pain relief for so long, I didn't think I could be that focused or robust {anyone that knows me probably didn't have much faith in my threshold for pain either}. It was a busy day in the delivery suite but thankfully the anaesthetist was free to see me almost immediately, and set about getting me prepared. My veins are an absolute nightmare, but after numerous failed attempts to get a cannula into my arm, they could get to work on the Epidural. I was really nervous and had started shaking, but sat as still as I could, clinging onto Colin and breathing through the contractions {women really deserve awards for this, sitting still when you're in labour is not easy}. After a failed first attempt, I finally felt the cooling {if somewhat odd} sensation of drugs being pumped into my body. The relief wasn't as instantaneous as I'd hoped, but it certainly took the edge off. Yet another internal examination at 20:45 revealed I was still only 5cm dilated and Nugget's head was still too high - my heart literally sank. I had a top up of the Epidural at 21:30 which relieved the pain a great deal, and was hooked up to a syntocinon drip in a bid to re-regulate my contractions and bring on labour.

The midwives changed shifts around this time, so I was introduced to a new one, who was really lovely and helped me to stay calm and informed. At 22:45 I had the third Epidural top up, and was informed that they were struggling slightly to differentiate between mine and Nugget's heartbeats, and that they needed to fit an electrode to his head in order to properly monitor him. The midwife had concerns I may have had labour induced pre-eclampsia due to my raised BP, so bloods were taken and I was given medication to reduce it. Shortly after, a doctor came in to see me and the suggestion was made that if there was no change in my dilation by 01:45, I would need to consider a C-Section.

At 23:45 I had the fourth Epidural top up, and was a lot more comfortable, barely feeling contractions - complete bliss in comparison. Nothing much happened and I know I was very sleepy because I don't remember much, just constant clock watching and monitoring of my BP and pulse, and a fifth Epidural top up at 12:45. At 01:45 {now 23.08.10} yet another internal examination revealed that I was now 8cm dilated {hoo-bloody-ray}, but Nugget's head was still too high, and it was confirmed {as we suspected} that he was positioned back to back. Foetal movements had also reduced which the midwife seemed concerned about. By then I was genuinely physically and mentally exhausted, starving hungry and I just wanted our baby out. The midwife explained that the doctor thought we should wait another two hours and see how I progressed, but she knew that I was really considering a C-Section because I'd simply had enough, and we could tell she thought it was the best option too. I was beginning to feel the contractions again, so after speaking privately to Colin, expressing my concerns about waiting another two hours and potentially progressing no further, I thought a C-Section was best. I knew that I was just so exhausted, when push came to shove {literally}, I physically wouldn't be able to. After an incredibly long, hard and emotional day, we made the call for Nugget to be delivered by C-Section. 
I was immediately prepped for theatre, introduced to the operating and anaesthetist teams and signed the relevant consent forms {although I really had no idea what on earth I was signing given the state I was in}. Colin donned the sexy scrubs and I was taken into theatre and given the anaesthetic through the Epidural, and a series of drugs through the cannula in my hand. My memory {especially now} of the whole experience is very hazy, I had the serious shakes, and I kept dozing in and out of consciousness, but I clearly remember Colin stroking my head, reassuring me, and then feeling lots of pushing, pressure and tugging in my stomach area. At 02:54 on Monday 23rd August 2010 we heard those precious newborn cries for the first time, and I was overcome with relief and emotion. Our beautiful baby boy, Jamie Mark Paul Thatcher, was born {I'm crying now, reliving this}. He weighed in at 7lb 4oz (a lot smaller than everyone thought, given my huge bump!) and Colin dressed him with a little help from the midwife. He was brought over to me for a cuddle, and I just couldn't get over how perfect and real he was. I remember being surprised at how much hair he had, and how tiny his fingers were! 
No amount of 'One Born Every Minute' episodes can possibly prepare you for the overwhelming sensations at meeting your baby for the first time. It is without a doubt the best moment of my life.

As it turned out, Mummy really does know best, and I'd made a good call eventually opting for a C-Section. The umbilical cord was wrapped around Jamie's neck twice, and he was indeed positioned back to back, both of which could have caused problems had I tried for a vaginal birth. Throughout the whole 9+ months of pregnancy I'd {perhaps naively} not once seriously considered the need for a C-Section, but I honestly know that I made the best decision and don't regret it for one second.

In comparison to my post-birth experience, labour was a walk in the park. I don't want to go into too much detail, I'm feeling pretty euphoric after re-writing this, but I had to stay in hospital for 5 days, was very ill and anaemic from blood loss during the operation, and hated every second of it. I was eventually {after 3 days of awful headaches, dizziness and sickness} given a blood transfusion and felt better almost immediately. My saving graces during that time {aside from Jamie} were daily visits from Colin and my family, and another two new mummies on the post-natal ward, who have now become two of my very best friends - we laughed and cried together, keeping each other sane. Coming home from the hospital was, without a doubt, the most surreal experience of my life. I felt like I'd been away forever {I'd certainly been through one hell of an ordeal}, and hobbled around in pain, not knowing where {or how} to sit, or what to do with the perfect little baby sleeping soundly in his carseat. My recovery felt quite slow at the time - never underestimate just how hard on the body a C-Section is, it's major surgery - and I was on various medication and painkillers for approx. one month after the birth, to regulate my BP and iron levels.
Despite a 24 hour labour, a hellish 5 day ordeal, and weeks of very hazy memories, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. You know why? Because Jamie is SO worth it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Review: Lee Stafford Poker Straight 'Night Patrol'

Lee Stafford Poker Straight
Night Patrol

What Do I Think?
I've never really felt as strongly compelled to write a review about a product as I have for this one. I'm not here to sing it's praises, far from it in fact. I'm here to shout from the rooftops about how pointless this product is. I've not really much an impression about Lee Stafford, but of the few products I've used before, I like the fun, pink packaging, and I am also quite partial to the sickly sweet smell {not for everyone I'm sure}. A personal bugbear with this particular packaging is the use of abbreviations and 'text talk', with the word before being spelt as "b4"...urgh *shudders*. Apparently, this product, to be used on dry hair before you go to bed, contains Style Memory™ - "a long lasting control polymer that smooths the hair and helps it stay in place overnight". What utter nonsense. All this product does is spray a light mist of scent over the hair. That. Is. It. This product embodies all that I intensely dislike about the beauty industry - the ability to sell just about anything, regardless of whether it works or the ludicrousy behind it's concept. I honestly do not know what possessed me to purchase this initially, way back when, but I wish I'd not wasted those pennies! Has anyone else ever tried this, and laughed in the face of it's failings?!

Where It It Available?
I have since discovered that this Lee Stafford product is now discontinued {I wonder why?!}, so this is no longer widely available.

How Much Does It Cost?
As above.

Would I Recommend It?
No way - short and sweet! I'm not purposefully attempting to 'diss' Lee Stafford products in general, but this product really is embarrassingly pointless and pretty shambolic!

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: I initially purchased this product with my own money. I am not affiliated in any way with Lee Stafford, and as ever, all words and opinions are my own. Apologies for the standard Google image, my bottle of this is now going in the bin!

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Review: HD Brows

HD Brows High Definition Brows

What Do I Think?
I know, I know, you're probably all sick to death of seeing HD Brows, but here I am, adding my two cents worth. For anyone who might not know, HD Brows, in a nutshell, is pretty much what it says on the tin {plastic packaging}: a palette of shadows for defining your eyebrows. There are three different shade varieties, Bombshell for blondes (the palette I have - see below for swatches), Foxy for brunettes/redheads and Vamp for really dark hair. Each palette contains four matte shades, tailored to a specific hair colour, which you can also use to create a smokey eye shadow effect too, if that's what takes your fancy.  Although I will probably stick to using it for my brows, I like that versatility in a product. The compact also has a handy little mirror and brush (although mine came without!), which is good if you're the type to 'define on the go'. I'm quite fortunate that although sporadically wayward and sometimes slightly sparse, my brows are naturally quite defined and have a decent enough shape - aided only by begrudged plucking now and then! However, recently I have found myself wanting to know what they'd be like a little fuller. Although I am a blonde, the older I get, the more heavily I have to rely on the bottle (of dye, not wine, in this particular instance), and my eyebrows are actually pretty dark (even compared to my natural roots), but even I had to be a little careful with the shades in the Bombshell palette. The shades appear darker on the brows than in the pan, on me at least, and after some practising I've found the best colour combination for me is a mixture of the three lightest shadows, applied with an Inika slanted brush and a light touch.  From what I have experienced, these shadows are pretty resilient and smudge resistant - good job too, because no one wants to find that their eyebrows are halfway down their face by lunchtime!

 Sunlight, no flash

Natural daylight, no flash*

Where Is It Available?
These palettes are available online from HD Brows.

How Much Does It Cost?
The HD Brows palettes retail at £19.95.
Would I Recommend It?
I must be honest (as ever) and admit that I wouldn't purposefully go out to purchase a brow palette, however I have used this product for what it is intended, and will continue to do so. What I will say is that these shadows are almost a little too pigmented, although I know that is where the 'HD' concept comes in, and a light hand is most definitely needed if, like me, you want your brows to still look natural, just slightly more defined. If you're crazy about your brows, then I would say you will more than probably adore this product!

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: This product was provided by PR for review consideration purposes. I am not affiliated with HD Brows, nor am I being compensated in any other way. All words and opinions are, as ever, 100% my own.
*No, that's not a bad case of fake tan, just a combination of odd angle and an inappropriately placed shadow. How RUDE! 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

NOTD: Nails Inc 'Black Taxi'

Admittedly not the most exciting NOTD, after-all, a black nail polish is a black nail polish. This is a thick, good quality and opaque black polish, that dries to a high gloss finish. A word of warning with this though, if you do two relatively thick coats {which is my usual application process} it does take a v e r y long time to dry, so make sure you allow plenty of time.

I'm a big fan of black nails, I think they look very sleek and feminine, and obviously go very well with the vast majority of outfits. The perfect accompaniment to my Little Red Dress last night, this is definitely more of an autumn/winter shade, and looks great paired with an accent glitter nail if that so happens to tickle your fancy too.

What is your favourite brand of black nail polish?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Yummy Mummy Survival Guide #1

I've been in this {Mummy} business for long enough now (approx. 14.5 months) to be in a position to offer up my two cents worth on what I think it takes to be a Mummy. I'll be dishing out my rambled thoughts in a series of (hopefully) humorous and honest posts - this being the first, tentative, toe in the water dipping.

#1 To be a Mummy you need: a sense of humour

Being a Mummy (and a Daddy too, but I obviously can't write from that perspective), although being the best thing since sliced bread, can be a tough old job, and probably the most valuable piece of advice I can give you, is, when all else fails, laugh. 

You will most definitely spend a fantastic proportion of your life as a Mummy laughing, whether that is real, honest to goodness, tears rolling down your face, belly aching laughter, or sheer despairing at the ripping your hair out, stressful, painful fact of it all laughter.

Being able to laugh both at and with the situation, not only gives you plenty of ticks in the 'good Mummy' boxes, but it sure as hell makes you feel better. One of my favourite sounds in the entire world is children's laughter, there is honestly nothing I like more than hearing it, so what are you waiting for, lead by example. With all the good will in the world, sometimes our children are just here to test us, and whilst you might be feeling tired {on the brink of exhaustion}, grumpy {stretched to the limit} and fractious {close to breaking point}, shrug your shoulders, and just...l a u g h. What might initially start out as partly contrived, fake laughter, one day you'll realise you're actually physically laughing, and enjoying it.

When your precious baby looks up at you with elation and glee, clapping their chubby little hands together, after proudly knocking down your building block tower {masterpiece} that was, quite frankly, worthy of a place in an art gallery...laugh.

When your baby stumbles and falls, bumping their head on the side of the table, despite your many warnings and repeated uttering of the word "no", scoop them up, kiss the bump better, wrap your arms around them and...laugh.

When your baby spits out/throws yet another of your painstakingly prepared, delicious home cooked meals, shaking their head defiantly, refusing to open their mouth no matter how many attempts you make to try and entice them, take a deep breath and {internally}...laugh.

When you're about to step out of the door, after a mad rush to clamber together enough nappies, baby wipes and {mostly} healthy snacks to support an entire army, your baby suddenly adopts that red, scrunched up poo face and a smell so vicious and vile begins to emanate, and you just know you've got a horrendous poo explosion on your hands...laugh.

When you've spent hours {OK, a few hastily snatched minutes} primping and preening yourself for a rare night off from Mummyhood, possibly even sporting a new dress or top to ceremoniously mark the occasion, you stop to give your precious baby one last kiss and cuddle goodbye and are left with a trail of puke dribbling down your shoulder or sticky hand prints down your tights...laugh.

When that very important, but admittedly not very enticing, utility bill you've been searching high and low for, so that you might attempt to actually pay it on time is suddenly found, ripped into oblivion in the depths of the toy basket...laugh.

When that competitive, arrogant and busy body Mum that you just can't escape {lets face it, unfortunately we all know at least one} makes yet another snide "oh can't he/she do that yet" remark about something her delightful little so and so has been doing for simply aggggees, take a deep breath and {internally}...laugh.

When your house is a complete and utter mess {despite being perfectly orderly a mere 10 minutes before}, to the point guests stare in open mouthed horror and gasp "I think you've been burgled", you smile begrudgingly and weakly offer up "it's been a tough few days" by way of excuse as they visibly shudder...laugh.

When your partner comes home after a long, tiring day hard at work, surveys the house whilst pretending not to be noting down the tasks you've failed to accomplish, and 'innocently' questions if dinner might be ready, while your blood boils at the audacity of their not congratulating you for keeping the baby alive and the house in one piece...laugh.

When on the receiving end of yet another {hopefully well intentioned} question about "when will you be getting a job then?" from anyone who isn't a SAHM themselves, and your complete valid protestations that bringing up your child IS your job, and a bloody important one at that, fall on completely deaf ears...laugh.

If there is one thing I've learnt, it's that Mummyhood is tough enough, so lighten up a little, and give yourself a laughter break. Who gives a monkeys about the laughter lines...what's another wrinkle between friends?!

NOTD: Ciaté 'Wait Until Dark'

I've featured Ciaté Paint Pots on my blog a few times before, and find them, for the most part, good quality and easy to use nail polishes. I forget now which (UK) magazine this particular offering from Ciaté came free with, but I really loved the dark, intense purple shade, with it's almost undetectable iridescent shimmer.

It's not apparent in the photograph (why doesn't that surprise me, NOTD's are frustratingly hard without the use of a decent camera!), but the shimmer in this is more noticeable in the bottle than on the nails, it's a subtle sheen more than anything. I really love the name of this polish too - 'Wait Until Dark' - it really compliments the shade.

This polish dries to a smooth and glossy finish, and is opaque with two coats. I do find the brush a little small on the Ciaté Paint Pots, however the handle and bottle are both easy to grip, which somewhat makes up for the slightly poor brush design.

Oh, and chipped thumbnail? What chipped thumbnail?!

In other news, I'm featured over on Modesty Brown's excellent blog today - well and truly baring my (superficial beauty) soul in her Friday beauty confessional feature. Please do let me know what you think...! 

Also, I urge you to please go and check out my good friend's blog (Mum/Me), and her most recent post about an incredibly important issue - being breast cancer aware.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Recipe: Lamb & Sweet Potato Tagine

Lamb and sweet potato tagine with couscous

This meal is a perfect winter warmer, packed full of delicious but quite subtle flavours, and makes a nice variation on your more typical comfort foods. It's a slow cooker recipe, which makes it even better if you're hard pressed for time. If, like me, you have a fussy man* in your life who refuses to try couscous, and don't fancy it on it's own, you could serve this with rice, or perhaps even boiled potatoes. As I was only preparing the couscous for one, I didn't follow the recipe for that part, but I'm sure it would have tasted delicious.

You need:
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g dried apricots, halved
1 medium carrot , peeled and coarsely chopped
700g diced lamb
300g couscous
100g flaked almonds
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp turmeric
600ml chicken stock
2tsp fresh ginger, grated
1tsp paprika
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1tbsp olive oil
2tbsp fresh mint, coarsely chopped

Preheat the slow cooker. Heat the oil in a large pan, fry the lamb for 6-8 minutes, or until browned. Remove the lamb from the pan and set to one side. Add more oil, if necessary, and fry the onion, ginger and garlic for 4-5 minutes, or until soft. Add the sweet potato and carrot and fry for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the ginger, paprika, cumin and turmeric and fry for 1 minute. Transfer everything to the slow cooker. Now throw the chopped tomatoes, apricots, chickpeas and 300ml stock into the slow cooker and stir well. Cook on medium heat for 6-8 hours. {Couscous} Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and dry-fry the almonds for a minute or two, until lightly toasted. Prepare the couscous according to the packet instructions with 300ml stock in place of water. Stir half of the almonds and all of the mint into the couscous and season with salt and pepper. Serve the lamb tagine over the couscous, sprinkled with the remaining almonds.
I should say I can't take any credit for this recipe, I've adapted it from the source here - a fabulous recipe resource that I go to a lot when I'm lacking inspiration or need ideas for specific ingredients - which in this case was sweet potato.
*I'm talking about my big man here *sigh*, not my mini one...although I'll report back, because he's trying this for dinner tomorrow!

NOTD: Orly 'Rock It'

 Natural daylight, with flash

BEHOLD...quite possibly one of the most beautiful nail polishes I have ever seen, feast your eyes upon Orly 'Rock It', from the new Mineral FX collection. I won this via a Twitter competition (follow me, I'm @LovelyLollyB), and the minute it arrived I promptly fell head over heels in love with it. Hook, line and sinker.

Please do click on the photographs to enlarge them, you simply can't get a true representation from the smaller size. I'm so frustrated that no matter how much I tried, I just could not get a photograph of this that really allowed the colour to show's so darned beautiful, so much more than meets the eye here!

Natural sunlight, with flash

The Orly website describes the Mineral FX collection as "over-the-top opulence meets glam rock for an eccentric edge that is sure to rock your nails. Duo chrome reflection and high intensity pigments create an eye catching holographic effect with Mineral FX".

'Rock It' is one of those endearing nail polishes with multiple some lights it becomes the most gorgeous magenta, and in other lights its red hues shine through more predominantly. Throughout the majority of the day it's looked pink, and now I'm sat in my lounge this evening, with it's artificial lighting, it's very red indeed. It's shot through with a golden duo-chrome, and has a gorgeous smooth and glossy finish, that just leaves your nails looking i n c r e d i b l e.

Artificial light, with flash

Could there be a more perfect colour for autumn? Although, I will most definitely be rocking this nail polish year round, no matter the season. This was my first ever Orly nail polish, and I was seriously impressed with both the application and the finish. This was perfectly opaque after two coats, and there was no drag whatsoever from the brush.

It's love. Really and truly. *sigh*