My body has changed, my body is amazing

Creams, oils, lotions, you name it, I used it. I really enjoyed massaging by bump; it made me feel more connected to my baby and I’m sure it relaxed her, I didn’t feel her moving around so much when I got into bed at night, it sent her to sleep. I must add that this is not a sign that your baby will sleep well at night time, as she certainly does not! My belly was well and truly prepped no stretch marks for me!

So, my bump was growling nicely but my boobs were not… I thought that bigger boobs were going to be a perk of pregnancy.  I’ve always had small boobs and this was my chance to have a decent cup size, where were they? I’d heard that the boob growth spurt was one of the first signs of pregnancy, unfortunately not for me. Just the one bump it is then!

I didn’t gain that much weigh during pregnancy, I should of weighed myself towards the end but never got round to it, shame really, I would of liked to know how much extra weight I was carrying around. I was all bump, I didn’t think it could get much bigger! Friends and family were convinced I was having a boy because of the old wives tales about the way you carry and the shape of your body. I wasn’t convinced; I had a feeling that it was a girl in there.

My beautiful baby girl was born via emergency C-section, she was breech and unfortunately for us it went undetected until it was too late, 10 centimetres dilated at home too late! We were both absolutely fine; it was just one of thise things. I was gutted, I’d got so far and was so ready, I felt robbed as my body was responding so well to labour, but obviously we had to do the safest thing.

It feels very strange having an empty belly, you have your body back but you miss it just being the two of you, those special movements, hiccups and stretches that only a mother and their unborn child experience. She was here and other people could now hold her and cuddle her and walk around with her, as lovely as that was I wished that I gave my bump a few extra cuddles and cherished those moments a little more. My belly felt amazingly soft after being solid for that last few months, like a deflated balloon.

I could see my lady bits again and when I stood up I could see my toes!  They were freshly painted by my other half only a few days before. It was a good effort all things considered; I didn’t want to go into hospital to have my baby with horrible half painted toe nails. Is that normal?!

I found it really difficult to look at my healing stomach over the coming days. I’m not sure why. I don’t know if I was scared to see the aftermath or squeamish to see the stiches or if it was the disappointment of having a caesarean that I was reminded of every time I looked in the mirror. It took a while but I gradually realised that this scar was a reminder that my body created and grew a tiny human being, tiny fingers and toes, arms and legs, a brain, a healthy beating heart. She was lifted from my body and into my arms from this very place. It still makes me emotional thinking about it, sometimes I do take a minute when I get out of the shower just to appreciate what this body is capable of. Amazing!

I decided that I wanted to try and breastfeed for as long as I felt I could. I was lucky enough to be able to; I know that’s not the case for every new mum so I felt extremely thankful when my milk followed the early colostrum. Here they come, here are the boobs I had been expecting and blimey had they come! Following my C-section I struggled to get about for the first couple of weeks and I was in desperate need for some nursing bras. This was a job for Super Daddy! Off he went to Mother care after a quick brief and back he came with my nursing hammocks. I think he also picked up maternity pads, breast pads, and a breast pump! The shop assistants must have really felt for him having to buy all these things on his own! He didn’t care he just did it!

When I stopped breastfeeding my boobs obviously departed, I was sad to see them go, even if one was bigger than the other! I was left with what I now call ‘used teabags’. Not the most flattering term, I know, but it describes them well! Used they certainly were, but they produced milk that fed my tiny baby and helped nourish her to grow, how amazing is that. Not only did they feed my baby they responded when she was hungry and knew how much milk to produce. They often got a bit over excited and threatened to flood the house but overall these used tea bags are remarkable!

So, no one told me that when you use all these lotions and oils to prevent stretch marks that you’re supposed to use them all over your body, not just your bump! I just didn’t really think about it, I hope I’m not the only one that assumed they were just for bump :-/ My belly is stretch mark free; although I’m not sure how big a part the creams actually play in this. My boobs and thighs however had fallen victim to the dreaded stripes. After time and reflection, I believe that I have earned my stripes, every single one of them. Some people get medals or trophies in life, us mummies get stripes and they are another reminder that this body made and carried a tiny life. A-ma-zing!

15 months in and I now know that my body isn’t going completely back to what it was before, I mean, I was no Pamela Anderson but it looks different now. It’s a different shape and I have a mum tum and there is a little pouch left from my little miracle scar. My wardrobe has been tweaked and dresses that once flattered my figure now don’t. It’s a good excuse to go shopping!  I have my stripes and I have my beautiful daughter and I feel blessed every single day.

My body has changed, my body is amazing.

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Let’s talk boobies – wonderful, weird and wonky

One of the first symptoms they tell you to look out for when you think you might be pregnant is sore or swollen boobs. I was literally on boob watch from the off; squeezing those bad boys hourly to see if there was any sign of discomfort. There was of course, because if you keep squeezing your breasts that often they will start to hurt.

Being blessed with a modest pair of B’s I can’t lie, I was excited to see if I’d follow in my Mum’s footsteps and get a little bigger up top but there was nothing. My belly started to grow with our little miracle babe but those teeny tiny boobies were not having any of it and starting to get overshadowed.

I started to panic if I’m honest. I’d read that your boobs start to increase blood flow, grow milk ducts and generally get their shit together in preparation for feeding a new babe but mine hadn’t even woken up and realised I was pregnant.

I think I hit the second trimester and out of no where I started to feel a pulse in my chest. This wasn’t like a trapped nerve; it was like I could literally feel the extra blood being made and pumped between both my boobs. Overnight I’d grown what looked like blue arteries and as well as being rounder STUFF had started to come out of them!!

I knew right from the 2 pink lines that I wanted to try and breastfeed. I’d seen family members feed like an absolute boss and it inspired me to do my research, stock up on nipple cream (with no idea what it was actually for) and breast pads.

We had a rocky start or what they call a ‘traumatic birth’ and that apparently doesn’t do your new breastfeeding journey any favours. .

I was passed my very tiny bundle of joy, wrapped in a towel and somehow between his impossibly small mouth and the kind but very assertive hands of the midwife it happened! He was sucking away like he was a pro! I honestly couldn’t believe it – neither of us had done it before but I suppose when your nips have become the size of a xmas turkey platter they’ve got a good chance of hitting the target.

Fast forward to being wheeled round to the recovery ward and things started to get a little more tricky. My sleepy, silent and perfectly latching baby was now ever so slightly more aware of his surrounding, a bit more interested and much much louder!

My first instinct was to press his face against my boob but what were once a very modest pair of B’s were now, as my best friend described, ‘porn-star whammers!’. For those new to the world of breastfeeding this is fairly normal, they start to fill up and they can become huge but that means that they are far, far too big for the tiny little mouths of a brand new baby.

Pressing our little one’s face against my boob was now borderline suffocation and there was no way he could open his mouth wide enough to get on and eat. Enter the wonderful world of hands on lactation support – the most brilliant, intimate advice I was going to receive as a new, breastfeeding mama!

If you think that your baby arriving into the world signals the end of having strangers (medically qualified strangers) touching your lady bits then you are in for a surprise. After panicky sobs from me and my new babe I eventually had to press the button and ask the midwife for help. Cue this game changing, wonderful, unexpected motion of the midwife (who I’d never seen before and who’s name I didn’t catch) pressing on my enormous boob with both hands, squishing it into the shape of a slightly deflating bouncy castle and then pushing into the waiting mouth of my son who was transformed into a Dyson!

The last big change to happen to my poor, unrecognisable boobies was what I’d read in the leaflets and the big thing to look out for and that was my milk ‘coming in’. Don’t let those early days fool you when the colostrum is dripping out delicately and don’t worry about knowing when it’ll happen; it’s like labour and you’ll DEFINITELY know! I was hot, sweaty, thought I was coming down with the flu and then suddenly my engorged boobs poured out milk like a fire hydrant whilst our poor, tiny baby was trying to stem the flow whilst still managing to breathe!

There was milk literally EVERYWHERE and on EVERYONE. Those breastpads are not to help you really, they’re to avoid spraying those in your vicinity if you should hear, see, talk about or even think of a baby – which is incredible because boobs don’t have ears or eyes! Should your little one then miss a feed for goodness sake get yourself in the shower quickly because I can’t rule out that they won’t actually explode and if you’re a one side at a time feeder then prepare yourself to be wonky and uneven for the majority of the day. (which still makes me laugh now!).

It’s taken a good few weeks for my boobs to work out that they’re feeding one baby and not 7 and I’ve finally managed to calm the ‘let-down’ to just hearing my baby cry now which is much more convenient when you’re surrounded by other babies at a group every other day.

So there is a very quick rundown of how my teeny, tiny little B’s have changed in the very short space of about 8 months and manage to feed our small human, with the help of formula and medicine too, and come out the other side. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, the human body is incredible but I’ve got to say I really do have a new found respect for boobies!

We left her overnight, she survived – So did I

A spa afternoon and a night away sounds bliss right? What about if it means leaving your baby overnight for the first time…Eeek! Forget about her having separation anxiety, I’ve got it!

My little one was 5 months old at the time, she wasn’t an easy baby, she still isn’t and my anxiety was still there, clouding my head. Half of me desperately wanted a little bit of time, time to be with my partner, time to sleep and time to recharge my burnt out batteries and the other half of me wanted my baby at reaching distance at all times, to be there if she needed me.

My parents came to stay the night at our house and of course I knew she was in safe hands, they managed to raise me and brother and we turned out ok… although I’m sure others would beg to differ 😉 You just can’t help but feel like no one else, not even the ones closest to you, can care for your baby the way you do.

I packed an overnight bag and threw in a pre-pregnancy bikini (ain’t nobody got time to go cozzy shopping these days), my mum tum would be out there for all to see, but at the time the way I looked didn’t bother me one bit. There was a time I would of planned well in advance what bikini I’d take, what outfit id wear for dinner and my toenails would always be painted. As a new mum I was consumed with everything baby and dry shampoo was my new best friend.

When we get there we’ll have lunch and I’ll have a couple of vinos I thought, that will help me relax. All it did was make me emotional, it used to make me dance! My lunch arrived and so did my tears. ‘Don’t cry’ my OH said ‘She’s fine’. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a sobbing, blubbering wreck but there may have been some stray mascara. Like I said, I knew she was absolutely fine I just missed her and felt a little guilty that I was away from her.

On went my bikini and out came my belly, I was getting a grip now and looking forward to some pampering and chill time. It was so peaceful and relaxing, just how you’d imagine, beautiful music, dim lighting and the sound of water, bliss…. But, If my phone goes off it it’s on the loudest setting and I can’t remember what my ring tone is as it’s been on silent since the day she was born. Of course it’s in my dressing gown pocket,  she might need me, I was relaxed but now I’m a mother there will always be part of me that’s never fully relaxed.

We had a swim, a massage, a sauna, it really was wonderful and I only text my mum about 6 times that afternoon/evening, that’s not too bad is it? We had a meal, a whole meal that was hot! We stayed at the table and talked, we had wine, a bottle in fact, I hadn’t done this in over a year.

Ahhhh a whole night of undisturbed sleep, I was genuinely more excited about this than anything else! Oh how I took this for granted and scoffed at people who told me to get my sleep in before she arrived! ….The hotel fire alarm went off at 2am…..WTF!! I ran around the room in my naked, frantic state looking for my baby, then I realised where I was. Was this really happening! It turned out to be a false alarm, it had to happen that night didn’t it! We we’re awake in the middle of the night, like we had been every night for the last 5 months… you’ve gotta laugh!

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did I need it? Yes, more than I realised. It certainly wasn’t going to be a regular thing but taking time out on occasion is important, as well as being someone’s mummy, I was still me. Don’t lose yourself to motherhood and don’t feel guilty for needing a break, you deserve it. We did it, we left her overnight and she survived, I did too.

Garden centres – where the new mums hide out!

Before having a baby I actively avoided garden centres. I can’t keep a cactus alive so I was never going to be rushing there on a Bank Holiday to buy soil for my tomatoes. Garden centres, in my opinion, were for the elderly and for children to visit Santa’s Grotto.

When my Father-in-law invited me to brunch I was 35 weeks pregnant and grateful to be leaving the house let alone be chauffeured and have a meal made for me. As we pulled into the large driveway, past the signs for pansies and water features I spotted row after row of 4×4’s, people carriers and women gathering up children with beautiful prams and even more beautiful smiles as they headed to the garden at the back.

As we walked through the shop towards the walled garden area I made the discovery that no baby books or Mummy Facebook groups had told me – garden centre cafe’s are a new Mum’s Starbucks! Wide aisles, a menu full of cakes, treats, all day breakfast and afternoon tea. There was space for prams, walkers and wheel chairs, no awkward shuffling and bumping into hipsters working on their Macs here. Every table welcomed the prams and their small passengers with a smile and even my bump got a few compliments.

The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating; both my Grandma-in-law and I were given huge tea pots and a seat in the shade and with every sip I felt the stress melting away.

Having returned approximately 15 times since I realise just how great it is to visit somewhere that’s so accommodating to Mums, Nans, and everyone else! There’s nothing more stressful as a new Mum than feeling like you’re an inconvenience, causing trouble trying to navigate around a noisy, busy café or not knowing if you can change or feed your new baby let alone finish your cup of tea.

If you’re wondering where all the Mum’s are between 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday, they’re probably diving into a large piece of carrot cake and toasting the brilliance of this hidden gem! And we’re not worried about you taking up all our tables now that we’ve shared this, our tiny humans start the day at about 5am; I assure you’ll we’ll be there already!

The life of two Mamas and their bears