19 February 2017

Finding out you're pregnant is full of many different emotions. Pregnancy after a miscarriage is another kettle of fish. One year ago, today, I sent Brad to the little corner shop to grab the cheapest pregnancy test as I paced up and down the lounge holding in that first morning wee. We'd tested three days prior and had a negative result, so even though I was now five days late, I was assuming it was going to be a negative result. 

It was 6am, the shop was just opening and Brad ran out to grab a test. Once he returned i'd never been so happy to see the toilet. I watched the cheap, pink dye test show the one line boldly and prayed that the second one would appear. It felt like forever. That second line appeared. It was faint, but it was there.

This is when the mixed emotions set in, we were excited, but also terribly scared. I felt sick, partly from the shock, but partly from the pregnancy symptoms. I'd been feeling sick for a couple of days already anyway. I was worried that the faintness meant it was another miscarriage, I was scared it was wrong. On the other hand though, I was excited and hopeful.

For three more weeks on, I tracked with a clearblue digital test. I saw the 1-2 weeks, the 2-3 weeks and then the 3+ weeks. I was excited but still nervous. We miscarried four months prior to conceiving Iris and miscarried around 5/6 weeks. So I was hopeful as we had got further than before, but still hesitant to get too excited.
The first twelve weeks were scary, So scary, but we made it.

I cannot believe that one year ago today, I first discovered we were expecting our beautiful rainbow baby, and now she's 17 weeks old. She's trying to crawl, she can sit unaided for short periods of time, she's giggling, chewing things and playing with her feet. She beams us the biggest smiles and makes me feel proud. She's a wonderful little girl, with an already, wonderful character. She keeps me up at night, but those sort of things can be forgiven.

One year ago I was terrified. I was anxious, excited, optimistic and pessimistic but today, i'm proud, happy, in love and feeling lucky.

Iris was born on October 22nd 2016, exactly one year on from the positive pregnancy test we saw with the baby we miscarried. It's surely a coincidence, but a special one and one of those strange, but sweet coincidences.
Iris was officially registered as a human at 9 days old, on October 31st 2016, exactly one year on from that day that we lost the pregnancy.

I cannot believe how lucky I am to be typing this next to my snoring, gorgeous little girl. One year on from the day we knew she was here.
One year on from being the size of a poppy seed. I can't wait to see what will happen in a years time, when we can once again look back, "one year on"

*Linking up with Katie of mummydaddyme and Donna of What the redhead said for the ordinary moments*


17 February 2017

Having two poorly kids is hard work. Double the tissue, double the snot, double the tears and a pounding headache for me. Trying to make sure that both kids are the right temperature and trying to get back those smiles of theres is really important. I usually find bedtimes are when it gets the worst. 
The coughs get worse, they get all feverish and I just feel so bad for them.

We have found a few tips and tricks that work for us to make bedtimes a little easier when they're ill.

  1. A WARM BATH - A lavender bath bomb and a steamy bathroom. If it's just Lucas bathing I like to use a menthol bubble bath too. 
  2. VICKS ON THEIR CHEST & FEET - Iris is too little currently for this currently, but with Lucas we put some vicks on his feet and put socks on and rub some on his chest and back too. Then get him snuggly in pyjamas.
  3. PLUG INS - For Iris we use a plug in to help her on bad nights.
  4. MEDICINE - A little bit of liquid paracetamol to help them with their temperature if they need it and if they're sounding a little groggy and in pain.
  5. A GOOD BOOK - We're currently trialling "The rabbit who wants to fall asleep" and it does seem to be working. I am rather impressed. I need a way to keep Lucas asleep, but it does help him drift off and he has fallen asleep before the book has ended too!
  6. SNUGGLES - Most importantly, poorly littles need snuggles!

We've been watching the vicks magic tricks on youtube too recently too. Lucas' uncle Oliver, is learning magic, so we've been showing Lucas and he's finding it really interesting at the moment. This is a nice way to settle him down before his book while I'm getting Iris ready for bed too.

Then once both children are settled in bed I head for the Vicks first defence to help stop myself picking up the kids germs.

*This is an entry for #vickstricks with britmums*


12 February 2017

Valentine's day is one of those days I love and hate. I love that it means we get to do cheesy things but also hate that we feel like we have to do cheesy things.
One of my favourite things to do is a cheesy photoshoot with the littles. I love smothering Lucas in kisses and, this year, dressing Iris is heart covered clothes.

Brad and I are "celebrating" Valentine's day today. We've done cute little gifts and cards and we're off out for dinner and the cinema this evening. For Christmas we were gifted Frankie and Benny's vouchers and an Odeon gift card - purely for a date night. We decided to hold off until tonight to use them and to use them for Valentine's day.

Brad's working on Tuesday and every where gets extra busy and more expensive on actual Valentine's day too, so we're making today our Valentines.
I bought Brad a mug that had a sloth on it and said "Lets hang out" and he got me some little Valentine's candles. It's a sentiment and token gift. We're not about extravagant, not even on birthdays, we're about thought. That's just us.

Brad and I met just over 5 years ago now and it's truly been amazing. There has been three homes, three pregnancies, two children, an engagement, a trip to Disneyland, wedding plans and so much more. This year I take a huge step, I'm officially becoming Mrs Nicole Walters. I've not wrote it down before, not until I wrote it in Brad's Valentine's day card this morning. It's strange. I thought i'd find it weirder than I do written down. I still can't believe i'm getting married this year.

Taking a step away from Valentines, can we just stare at how adorable my children are.
Happy Valentine's day!

*Linking up with the ordinary moments*


8 February 2017

From the moment I discovered I was pregnant, there were negatives, so many negatives. "What if's" I guess but they were negative "what if's." I guess that's the way the hospital does things. The realism is mostly negative, that way they haven't got to apologise if they're too optimistic and things go wrong.
Either way with a unicornuate uterus, they didn't hold back in telling me the "what if's" and all the things that could potentially go wrong. I was anxious and terrified. 

Anxiety in itself is something I've been dealing with for a long time. At Sixteen years of age I lost the use of the right side of my body. I couldn't write, cut my dinner, drink, I limped and went through 6 weeks of lumber punctures, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and other tests before they came to the conclusion that it was down to stress, depression and anxiety that had been the cause. I spent my Sixteenth birthday in the hospital.
That was scary. 

I then suffered an extremely dangerous kidney infection which then added to my anxiety surrounding illness.

Fast forward 5 years and I became a mother. Still suffering with anxiety. I don't believe that anxiety is ever something that really goes away. I can't let go, it's a part of me.
Anxiety is me, I am anxiety. Not everyone understands it, sadly no matter how hard I try to leave it behind, I can't. It's something that I struggle with everyday.
I bite my nails, I bite the skin around my nails till they bleed, that's an anxious thing.
I chew the inside of my mouth, my gums, until they have little dents in them, that's an anxious thing.
I stumble my words and get hot flushes as my heart palpitates, thats an anxious thing.
I cannot speak in public, I struggle with photography jobs, I find that I can find the courage to do things, but I have to constantly focus on my breathing and focus on the love I have for photography, why I'm there and the job in hand.

Anxiety is something that isn't just being nervous, or worrying. Thats a slight misconception. There are lots of different types of anxiety but with me it's paranoia, everyone hates me, everyone is judging me, everyone is against me. I feel low, I feel like my photography isn't good enough, I'm not good enough. It's really hard.

Being a parent with anxiety means that some nights I lay in bed and worry about my children. I worry they're poorly, something may happen to them. I watch the news and they mention terrorist attacks and I am terrified about going shopping in a big shopping mall, incase of an attack. I worry for my children's future, for the world we live in, their safety; like most parents, but to an over-the-top worry.

I worry that I'm not good enough, that I'm failing them. That people don't think I'm a good enough parent, that my children don't think I'm enough. It's so hard when I can't even explain to them, as they're too little to truly understand how much they mean to me, how much I love them and how I'll do everything I can for them and how everything I do is to ensure they grow up and say "We had the best childhood." Thats the only thing I could ever want.

I love taking my children to my happy place. Sitting by the shore, looking for shells, listening the sound of the waves crashing, the smell of the salty air, throwing stones into the water and finding little critters. It relaxes me. One day Brad and I will live near the shore.

I worry that my anxiousness will rub off on my littles, I worry that they'll end up as anxious as I am and they'll be sat here in 20+ years time feeling the way I do.
Anxiety is affecting me as a parent, it brings me mum guilt, fear, tears, panic attacks and one day I'll stop letting it affect me. I know that anxiety will always be with me, but I wont let it affect me as a parent.


3 February 2017

Having a baby isn't just about stocking up on baby products. It's so easy to get sucked into buying so many different packs of wipes, coconut oil, nappies and the best sleep tools, ALL HAIL EWAN, but it's so easy to forget about ourselves. Us mamas.
You spend your pregnancy buying maternity wear, maternity cushions, stretch mark oil and countdowns to when baby is born. You spend hours researching hypnobirthing, breastfeeding, weaning, best prams and napping as much as you can. You spend your pregnancy looking after yourself but as soon as you hit post partum you seem to forget that you're just as important. You're exhausted, you forget make up, your hair goes into a stereotypical "mum bun" and you stare at the stretch marks that your stretchmark oil didn't quite save you from completely. You're still worthy of a pamper and a treat. This is my list of my top post partum products.

1. Headphones - Wireless ones. These are great for the middle of the night feeds when you need to stay awake. I put on youtube and watch some of my favourites. My current favourites are The Michalaks, Sarah-Jayne Ljungstrom, Mrs Meldrum, Katie Ellison and Kate Murnane. They keep me sane at night, I watch them through blurry eyes as I feed Iris. The headphones are great as I don't keep Brad up with the sound of the videos. These are so much more comfortable to put on then regular apple headphones. They're pretty too.

2. Mama Mio nipple balm - This has to be the best nipple cream I have ever used. I have lansinoh but it's just not as great as this one. Theres about £1-£2 price difference but it's amazing. This is a nearly empty tube of it. I now use it as lip balm as the winter has ruined my lips, but when I had really chapped and bleeding nipples at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey this was a lifesaver. There was so many times I dreaded latching Iris on because my nipples were so sore and looked so red and angry and bled, but except for the initial latch the pain wasn't as bad as I was expecting. It's truly amazing. It's ingredients are medical grade lanolin, organic coconut and olive oils, organic shea butter and calendula. This means you don't need to remove prior to a feed, just like lansinoh. 

3. Mama Mio pregnancy boob tube - This has been amazing. Whenever I suffered with engorgement and had really sore and swollen breasts, I massaged this on to my breasts and it was so soothing. The ingredients are coQ10, Milk thistle extract, organic evening primrose, organic rosehip fruit oil, red cabbage extract, green cabbage extract and hibiscus. This is great for stretch marks, soothing and cooling your sore boobs. Really great to massage any potential blocked milk ducts to stop mastitis. touch wood, i've never had it.

You can also buy these in a duo pack. 

4. Colief mum to be moisturising cream - This is such a divine stretch mark cream. It's so lovely a soothing. It relieves dryness and rehydrates the skin and has been helping my stretch marks fade. It smells lovely and doesn't make me feel sticky and I get into bed and I feel really lovely and smooth. I'm feeling really low about my body, my stretch marks and i'm trying really hard to lose weight and to smooth out my stretch marks from both pregnancies. The kids are worth the stretch marks but I hope that they'll fade more and more. This cream is so much nicer than oil. 

5. Medela swing pump - With Iris losing more weight than they'd liked when she was first born, I was on the hunt for a good pump and found the medela electric swing pump had some of the best reviews. I love it. It's great. It's lovely to have different settings and it was so handy to express for top ups, it's handy for when I have photography jobs, or for a date night in the future. An electric pump is so much more handy than an electric. Especially when they take batteries. When I went to photograph a wedding for the day in December, I put batteries in the pump and then sat in a pub to pump and then an empty hotel room too. I didn't have to worry about pumping near a plug socket and I just poured the milk into a freezer bag and handed it over to be put in a fridge at the hotel.

6. Hakka Pump - Due to all of the extra pumping for expressing, I have a slight over supply. So when i'm feeding Iris, I have a painful let down and I leak, so I attach the hakka pump and I still have both my hands free. It's great, it's a silicon pump that you suction onto your breast and it collects the drips from the breast you're not feeding from. It's so handy and it's worth the money. You don't get loads of milk, I get about 2 ounces MAX, but it's still enough liquid gold for me to freeze.

7. Hand sanitiser - Any kind, this one I think is a pound land foam one. I'm constantly touching handles on doors, rails on buses, I sometimes change bums when theres no taps around and as a temporary thing I'll quickly squirt some sanitiser. 

8. Tissues - I have been suffering with blocked sinuses since having Iris so i've been having a pack of tissues near at all times.

9. Black peel mask - This has amazing for me. I have been cleansing, toning and moisturising my face since before having Iris, but pregnancy has ruined me with hormones and has made my face so spotty, it's been horrible. so i've been using the painful peeling mask and helping with my black head. I have seen some great results.

10. Simple / Kind to eyes revitalising eye roll on - I have been wearing less make up and going for the fresh faced, just mascara look, it's so much easier and less time is consumed in the morning, so I've been using this to help with my bags. Lucas is still getting up in the night and Iris gets up for at least one feed a night, so i'm pretty exhausted. Thankfully this is helping.

So that's my top post partum products, what are yours?

* I was gifted the mama mio and colief products for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own.*


2 February 2017

Dear little Iris,

This is my first letter to you in 2017! You're doing so much now. I'm rubbish at monthly updates with you. I'm sorry for that. They call that second child syndrome and it's not because we love you any less, it's purely the fact that mummy and daddy have their hands full. Our hearts are fuller though, and thats the truth.

You've started giggling over the past two days, you also rolled from front to back this morning and you're just the cutest little girl. You have some of the most amazing clothes and i'm in awe of you. One thing you don't suffer with second child syndrome with is with your wardrobe. You have some of your brothers hand me downs but only seriously cool bits - like band tees and his leggings. You seem to rock the "punky" look. Black head tie, band tee and leggings or a cute dress and knee high socks. I mean this dress for example is gorgeous. It's from very miss berry and it has the most gorgeous print on it. I can't believe how when I was told you were a girl, I immediately forgot about my hate for gender stereotyping and imagined you in a pink and bows all the time, and now you rarely wear pink. You suit pink, but I prefer you in little quirky outfits and neutral colours. Red, mustard and Navy are my favourites on you.

You recently melted my heart and giggled, once when we tickled your tummy, and then yesterday I played peek-a-boo with you and you giggled. I couldn't believe it. I felt the need to cry with happiness and then I had this mum guilt, do you have neglected second child syndrome? I don't feel I take as many photos of you as I did your brother, but then I look through instagram and change my mind. It's really hard when were exhausted all the time; Which is more your brothers fault than yours.

You're starting to look more like mummy now, we're noticing you have slightly auburn hair in the light, and i'm hoping you stay auburn, you have blue eyes like your brother and you have a dimple too just like me. I'm seeing more similarities in you and your brother and we're just finding that our family is really slotting together more and more everyday.

You're using the door bouncer now, which you adore, you're also using a bumbo and you're just growing up so quickly. I'm filling in your milestones in your baby book quicker than your brothers at the moment i'm sure.
On the topic of your brother, he still absolutely adores you. You should feel really lucky for that. He kisses you, hugs you and plays peek-a-boo with you. He even tries to comfort you when you cry saying "it's okay darling" and "oh Iris, darling, I love you," You two are just so perfect for me.

Oh, last thing one thing I feel we really bond over is our love for the Gilmore girls. We sit and watch it every night and you just stare at it and settle. 
I promise to not let you have too much second child syndrome and I promise i'll try to stop the mum guilt over it too.

I love you so much beautiful girl,
*We are brand enthusiasts for very miss berry, but haven't been asked to include the dress in a blog post* 


31 January 2017

There is something I just love about a rainy and cold Sunday walk with my little family. Most people wrap up warm in front of the tv with the heating or fire on when it's raining. Not us though. We're those strange people. Being a mum to a very enthusiastic, energetic, easily bored toddler, getting out the house is important - whatever the weather.

Getting out of the house in all kinds of weather is great, but that does mean one thing, we need great wet weather gear.  Now i'm sure you've all seen mine and Lucas' matching yellow coats, and now although they're super cute, they're not very warm. They're great for spring/summer but you do need a pair of decent wellies and a thick and warm raincoat.
So when I had an email from lighthouse style regarding a new coat for Lucas and myself I jumped at the chance as I knew it was just what we needed to add to our coat rack.

I went out of my comfort zone and branched away from my love for navy or yellow coats and went with a purple coat and I am so glad I did. It's such a nice colour and the style of the coat is also really lovely too. I am really impressed with how warm it is. It has a wool lining in the hood and that kept my head so toasty.

Lucas's has a lovely fleecy inside too, which means he's not getting cold either. Even though Lucas is warm whilst he's running around as soon as we stop it hits him and he starts shivering. So keeping him warm in his coat is so important. His temperature seems to drop so quickly.
I also love the cute little shark print too. He chose that himself as he loves "FARKS".
The hood on the coat is great too. It sits so nicely around his head, which means in wind it wont blow down.

We headed out at 1pm, with fresh faces, no make up on for me, with my camera, Lucas and myself in our coats, Brad with Iris in the sling and an umbrella, and we headed to our favourite little woods. It was pooring with rain but even though it was raining we had a lovely afternoon stroll. I mean if your going to review a raincoat, then what better way to review it than in the rain.
Coats for Lucas and I are so important, Iris is usually wrapped up all warm in her pram, under a rain cover, whereas Lucas and I are walking without shelter and with just hoods for protection. Neither of us can hold an umbrella, I can't because I need both hands on the pram and Lucas is just too little. Lucas is usually on the buggy board too as we decided against a double buggy. So it's even more important to make sure Lucas is warm and stays as dry as possible.

For us not going out when it rains isn't possible. Neither myself of Brad drive so even if we just need to head to the shops we have to venture out in the rain. Lucas goes crazy if he has to stay in the house for too many days. One, maybe two we can do, but anymore than that, then both myself and Lucas suffer cabin fever and his behaviour gets bad from boredom and the fact he cannot burn off the energy he has built up.

With Brad working every other weekend, we crave our weekends off together for family time. Our little family, now theres 4 of us, its so special. I love a Sunday walk, getting chilly and then going home to the heating on, a hot chocolate and a babychino for Lucas, followed by a slow cooked meal or a roast dinner; with a nice dessert afterwards - of course.

We're really happy with our new raincoats, they're really warm, they kept us dry and we had such a lovely family walk on Sunday. We were lovely and dry underneath our coats and coming home to the smell of a beef stew and snuggling up in front of frozen was perfect.
Family walks make me so happy. I can't wait to wear the coats more and go on more walks as a family of four. We just need to get Brad a really good coat now too.

My coat is the REVA in Plum which you can check out HERE
Lucas' coat is the OLLIE in the shark print which you can check out HERE

*We were gifted with the coats in return for an honest review. All words and opinions are true and my own.*

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