The most bizarre thing happened to me today & although I have other blog posts planned for this week I really just wanted to write about this mainly to get it out of my system!
Today was the first day in nearly 3 weeks that I haven't had Henry with me, so I was feeling a little soppy when he left with his Daddy this morning for a day with his Nanna, but as soon as he was gone I was actually relieved that I would be able to sit down and get some admin work done without a little 'helper' demanding I hand over the laptop so he can play Cbeebies games! The day went on as planned, and I certainly wasn't feeling overly sad or emotional. I was teaching a private tuition student in Clifton this afternoon which went really well and I was in a good mood as I walked to the bus stop on my way home. However just as I boarded the bus a song came on my iPod that really reminded me of Henry's first few months. I sat down and was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was about to cry, I'm not normally an overly emotional person and I absolutely hate crying! I will avoid it at all costs if I can as it really makes me uneasy, but thinking of Henry as a baby and how fast the time has passed since he arrived had me choking back tears. Then the thought that everything is about to change for all of us had me actually sobbingand the more I tried to stop the worse it became.
I could not shake the feeling that having a second baby is going to affect the special relationship that I have with Henry. We are so incredibly close, and he really is a Mama's boy. I'm there whenever he needs me and he knows this. The only nights that I have been away from him were when I was hospitalised at the beginning of this pregnancy. He really is my little shadow and my little buddy. Sitting on that bus today I suddenly realised that our lives are about to change so much! I felt so guilty and worried that the arrival of a new baby would break Henry's heart and make him feel less loved somehow, and scared that I would struggle to give him everything that he needs from me with the demands of a new baby as well. I know that I have enough love for both of them, but that doesn't mean that Henry will know that does it? He's growing up so quickly and It looks like he will be starting a local Pre-school soon, what if having a baby around means that I don't get to savour these last precious moments of his toddlerhood?
My reasons for having a second child were never because I didn't feel that Henry was enough. He is, and if I had only been able to have one child I would have been so happy and thankful that I got to be his Mama. My reasons for having a second child were because I wanted Henry to have the same close relationship with a sibling that I have with my sister. My parents are divorced and during so many occasions in our lives my sister & I have been each others support system. Very often in times of crisis we are each other's first port of call, and when nobody else seems to understand what we are going through we seem to be able to have that understanding for each other. Don't get me wrong there have been many times where we could have happily throttled each other, and many, MANY arguments over the years, but all is forgiven quickly and no grudge is held. Even when we are mad at each other if something were to happen we would always be there for each other in a flash. I think it's rare to find that closeness & level of forgiveness in friends. I want Henry to have the chance to have that close relationship with a sibling and I know that he will be a fantastic big brother.........but right now all I feel is guilt for the fact that I am about to turn my precious little boy's world upside down!
So I sat on the completely packed bus in rush hour traffic and cried the whole way home! I was the crazy pregnant lady sat at the back of the Number 90 bus sobbing silently.....the women in front of me turned around to offer me a tissue and ask if I was ok! I don't think I have ever been more embarrassed! Rather than explain to her that my hormones had turned me into a emotional mess over my ability to be a good Mama, I lied and said that I had had a hard day at work and was feeling overly emotional thanks to pregnancy hormones. I cannot believe that I had such a meltdown on a packed bus in rush hour traffic, I couldn't have managed it in the privacy of my own home?!
I guess I wanted to write this down so that in a few months I can write another post telling myself that everything was OK and Henry is fine with the arrival of his little sister.
Because I am being silly aren't I?
There are now just under 10 weeks left until baby girl is due to make her big entrance in to the world. It's odd as by this stage in my pregnancy with Henry we were so organised and prepared for his arrival that it really felt like the world revolved around my pregnancy and our impending parenthood. We had shopping trips most weekends to look at baby stuff, we were going to NCT classes and I went to a pregnancy yoga class every week. This time things have been very different! We are busy looking after Henry, we now own a house that constantly needs things doing to it and we both have been very busy with work.......this doesn't leave us with much free time to daydream about our new baby.
We haven't really bought anything new for her yet (apart from 2 sleepsuits that i bought straight after finding out that she was a girl) and I don't think that we will be buying much for her to be honest. It's not because I don't want to, but because we just don't need as much this time around. Not only do we have most of the essentials left over from when Henry was a baby, but we are also a lot smarter in terms of the difference between what you actually need when you have a baby and what the shops, books & magazines tell you that you're really going to need. We bought so many things when Henry was tiny that we hardly used because we thought it was essential, we could have saved a small fortune if we had known just how unessential these items were! The only things that we really need are:
- Clothes for the baby (obviously)......but instead of the cute & every expensive Baby Gap outfits that we had in newborn sizes when Henry was born, this time we will just be stocking up on plain sleep suits, vests & cardigans. Cute looking clothes were all well and good & they make your hormonal heart melt when you're shopping at 8 months pregnant, but they are a pain to put on the baby! Clothes need to be easy to put on & get off because they get covered in baby poo & sick several times a day!! We have been so lucky this time as work colleagues & friends have recently had babies and we have been given lots of clothes for her to puke & poop over to her hearts content! :)
- Somewhere for her to sleep. We have a cotbed & Moses Basket that she will inherit from her big brother, so the only thing we need to get is a new mattress (although this does pain me slightly as Henry always preferred to sleep in with us so the mattress that we have is practically unused). We will probably co-sleep a lot again, just because it is so much easier when you are breastfeeding, but I think we will be turning the cot in to a co-sleeper this time as i really don't think there is enough room in our double bed for 2 adults, a baby and a toddler who somehow manages to take up 90% of the bed by himself!
- Muslins!!! You can literally never have enough! Henry was a very sicky baby& he seemed to take enjoyment in returning half of his feed back over us on a daily basis so we needed lots of muslins to protect us from the post feed explosions for quite some time. However they came in handy for so much more too! Until Henry was about a year old we never went anywhere without a good stash of muslins on us. They were used as breastfeeding covers, changing mats, sun shades, blankets, bibs & floor mats when we started weening, and general cleaning up. I LOVE these large muslin blankets from Aden & Anais! I bought about 10 of them when Henry was tiny & although they aren't cheap they are one of the few things that I can honestly say have been worth their weight in gold! If you are expecting or know somebody who is these would make a great present!
- Sling/Baby carrier. Last time we went through quite a selection of slings and carriers before we found ones that we liked, were easy to use and comfortable for all of us. When I was pregnant I bought a Baba Sling convinced it was perfect for me.....it wasn't! I hated it & Henry hated it so it was only used once & then promptly sold on eBay. I also bought a more traditional carrier from Mama's & Papa's that was very similar to the BabyBjorn style that you see a lot. However once again this just wasn't right for me, I didn't like all of the straps & buckles and Henry never felt secure against me & I needed him to be secure as I was often bending over to pick up the dogs ball or his mess too! In the end we found the Moby Wrap & it was perfect! Henry loved it & I finally had my hands back. I could carry him around so comfortably that we used it a lot....when i was cooking dinner, hoovering or out walking! It was invaluable during those first 6 months & I intend to use it again this time, especially as I'll be needing my hands free to entertain a toddler too this time! We also have a Ergo Carrier that we used once Henry became a bit too heavy for the Moby Wrap. We have only just stopped using this now, and that's only because our independent toddler wants to be free to roam rather than in a carrier now.
- A Breast pump & a few bottles: I used my breast pump a lot in the early days with Henry as i had some supply issues, but I must admit that I got a little lazy with it once we had an established routine. I wish i hadn't done this because a 3 months old Henry decided that he hated bottles of any kind and refused to feed any way except straight from me! This meant that I had very little time away from him until he had weaned enough to give me a few hours off without him screaming the place down in hunger. This time I will be returning to work much sooner so will need to keep up the pumping and hope that little lady is much happier with the bottle than her Brother was! I bought 2 pumps last time, an electric one and a cheap manual one. The electric one was rubbish! I never got a good amount of milk out using it & it was always very slow. My cheap manual one was excellent though and I could get a bottle of milk expressed very quickly with it. Lesson learnt that expensive & fancy is NOT always better! The pump i used was the Phillips Advent manual pump. I also bought their storage cups that were great for freezing milk, and also for storing baby sized portions of food once we weened Henry.
- Carseat & Pushchair. We bought our beloved Quinny Buzz pushchair & Maxi Cosi Carseat second hand (In excellent condition!) and I'm so glad that we didn't waste the extra £500 buying new, even though some people were a bit snobby about it! It lasted us for years and we recently sold it to put some extra pennies towards a new double pushchair. We have opted for the Britax B-Dual pushchair & matching carseat as it can be used as a single or a double, and it's really easy to use (A must when you've got two children in tow!). Once again though we bought the travel system second hand. We were very lucky as it literally has never been used so is in perfect condition!
So as you can see most of the essentials we either still have from last time or we have been lucky enough to have been given second hand by friends or family. The only new things that we needed were the pushchair which we have now bought and we need a new mattress for the Moses basket. Obviously we will be buying nappies etc, but they have become part of our day to day life as we still need them for Henry so I don't really think of them as a big purchase. However I don't claim to know it all just because I've had one baby already, and I'd love to hear from some other 2nd or 3rd time Mama's to find out what they couldn't have survived without whilst trying to raise 2 or more little ones!
The great thing about not having to shop much for little lady is that I have been able to focus my energy on making things for her. I have been knitting and crocheting up a storm lately making little things for my winter baby to keep her warm! I know that being a second child can be tough as you get so many hand me downs so I hope that making all of these one off handmade items for her makes her feel special. I also love the idea of keeping all of the things that I made for my children to pass on to them if they have children. There is something so special about something that has been made with love especially for your family isn't there?
I must admit that my knitting & crochet got off to a very slow start thanks to a mixture of my sickness and the extreme heat that we have had this summer! Knitting in 30 degree heat just feels a bit strange even for me! However now that the weather has cooled down i'm on a roll. She has a selection of hand knitted hats, like the one below:
I've also been knitting cardigans to go over her sleep suits as she'll be so tiny this winter & need some extra warmth. My favourite one so far is the garter stitch wrap cardigan. I'm not normally a huge fan of garter stitch, but i just love the simplicity of it, and the colours are beautiful. I used some ribbon that I got free with Mollie Makes Magazine ages ago, so it's a stash buster too!
I've also been knitting up lots of booties for her, mainly because they are so quick to make. When I'm tired & knitting something before i go to bed I need something quick, easy but satisfying to make & these fit the bill. You can find the pattern here on my blog
from last year.
Also after FINALLY learning to crochet last year after over a decade of attempts it has been lovely to be finally able to make a granny square blanket for the baby. I love the look of crochet blankets and the main reason I wanted to learn to crochet was so that I could make them for myself. I have to admit that making a winter blanket in the heat that we have been experiencing was a bit of an experience (especially when I'm already boiling hot because it feels like I have a hot water bottle strapped to my stomach!) but it was worth every minute I spent crocheting! I'm rather in love with it & I hope that it gets many years of use in her bedroom!
I have also made her some granny square bunting to hang over her cot, and a selection of other hats, cardigans, mittens etc, but I haven't had time to photograph them to show you all. I think I'll have to do another post to show off all of her handmade gifts from her Mama.
Not one to be left out either I'm also making myself a new pair of slippers & a lace shawl to use whilst Breast feeding in the colder months. Mama needs some presents too!! :)
If any of you are interested in knitting something similar to the baby clothes pictured here there are still some places left on August's & September's Baby Knitting Classes.
(sorry for the shameless plug, but I'm really excited about these classes for obvious reasons!).
I hope you all have a lovely weekend & I'll be back with more baby and craft updates soon!
I've never really been very vocal about my breastfeeding experience with Henry, because although I know that it's a very 'hot topic' for many mothers for me it was just a very personal experience that just developed over time between my son and I. However lately I have been reflecting a lot on the experience, partly due to the fact that I will shortly be starting the experience all over again with a newborn, and partly due to the fact that it wasn't that long ago that Henry and I stopped breastfeeding all together, and I wanted to note down some of the experiences I had on that journey with him before they get clouded and blurred with that of my next baby. Today marks the beginning of National Breastfeeding Awareness week so it seems like a pretty good time to write some of my memories and experiences of breastfeeding down.
When Henry was born in February 2011 i knew that I wanted to try breastfeeding and that giving it a really good attempt was important to me. My mum breastfed both me and my sister for the first 6 months of our lives so it only seemed natural that I would do the same. It wasn't the easiest of starts as due to a retained placenta my milk didn't come in for nearly a week & Henry was losing a lot of weight & crying in hunger 24/7! I didn't know that I had retained placenta at the time and I was so upset that I didn't seem to be providing my baby with what he needed most.....the temptation was there to give up. I remember sitting in the bath crying listening to Ken trying to sooth a distraught Henry and feeling like a total failure. Luckily later that day my midwife came to visit & spent over 2 hours with me showing me different ways I could stimulate milk production and calming me down. Later that night Henry was still crying and I was at the end of my tether, so I tearfully begged Ken to go out in search of some formula to feed him. Ken was gone for over an hour as it was a Sunday night and most places were closed, and I am so grateful for this because during this time all of the attempts at feeding & stimulating my milk production paid off and I was able to feed Henry successfully for the first time since he was born. Ken returned home to me holding a sleepy milk drunk baby, and the box of formula that he had searched high & low for sat unused until I gave it away a few months later.
I had to work hard for the first 6 weeks to keep my milk production up, feeding on demand & pumping when Henry slept. However once my retained placenta was diagnosed & removed my boobs really changed! I hadn't suffered with any engorgement initially and thought I had escaped that experience, however I woke up in the middle of the night after the operation to find that I had boobs like pamela Anderson all of a sudden! They were HUGE and rock solid! I lifted my top to examine these new arrivals only to squirt myself in the face with milk. It's funny looking back on it, but at the time I was a bit weirded out by it all. After weeks of worrying I didn't have any or enough milk in there I was now so full of the stuff it was making a bit for freedom in my face! I attempted to feed Henry to relieve some of the engorgement but my milk was coming out so fast that the poor little chap couldn't keep up. In the end with the assistance of gravity we managed to feed properly with my lying flat on my back & Henry lying across my chest.
After that night I never really looked back. I was very lucky that sore nipples were never an issue for me, and feeding was never a painful experience. In fact I loved it! I adored the closeness i felt with Henry, I loved how convenient it was, especially at nighttime, and I loved that I didn't have to carry lots of stuff with me when I went out in order to feed him. In fact it was such an easy, pleasant experience that when Henry was approaching 6 months and the questions from Friends and family started regarding when I was going to stop I suddenly didn't know how to answer them! I had not intended to extend breastfeeding beyond 6 months, but I knew that neither Henry or I were ready to stop, so I carried on. In fact we carried on for much longer than I had ever anticipated, and I am so glad that I did. Breastfeeding really worked for us, and there were times when Henry was quite poorly last year and refusing all food and drink that I would have found impossible to deal with if i hadn't had the option of offering breast milk.
Despite some criticism from some friends and family members I breastfed Henry until just past his second birthday in February this year when he finally self-weened. It was a good thing that he did at that time because I was just starting to suffer with Hyperemesis and became so dehydrated that I doubt I would have been able to continue feeding him anyway. I think that being pregnant this time may have affected the taste of my milk because Henry seemed to want less and less milk from me almost immediately after i conceived, and had completely stopped 2 weeks later when I found out I was pregnant. However it had been coming for the previous 6 months and he had slowly reduced his feeds to just being at bedtime anyway. We were both ready and happy to stop.
Despite the negative comments that my extended breastfeeding would make Henry clingy, wimpy or unable to make friends, the opposite has been true! He is a happy outgoing little boy who doesn't feel the need to cling to me, because he knows he doesn't have to . Years of feeding on demand have meant that he is confident that whenever he needs comfort from me he only needs to ask. This means that he rarely cries or acts out to get my attention and is generally a really calm little guy. He is also fiercely independent and I think that trusting your baby/toddler to lead the way with breastfeeding helps you as a parent to trust both your child's and your own instincts in other areas of development as they get older and try new things. I'm not saying that the same could not be true of a bottle fed baby and I don't think that comforting your child is solely linked to the act of breastfeeding, but i do know that it really did shape our relationship into the one of mutual trust and respect that it is today.
I hope that I enjoy breastfeeding my daughter as much as I did my son and I am excited to start the process again, but this time I hope to be more relaxed about the whole thing. I'm not going to give myself targets of stopping by a certain date or even reaching a certain age and still breastfeeding. I'm going to hopefully relax and just take each day as it comes and concentrate on whether it's right for me & her as we go along. I strongly believe that it doesn't matter how a baby is fed as long as they are fed by a mother who is happy. The only negative thing i have to say about breastfeeding is that I hate how the topic can often turn women against each other when really regardless of what decisions you make on feeding your child what we need to do is support each other.
I appreciate this is a rather long post so if you've made it this far thank you for reading *
Those of you who know me or have followed me on twitter for a long time will know that pregnancy doesn't really come easily to me. I am lucky enough that falling pregnant has never been an issue however staying pregnant is. I had 3 miscarriages before I had Henry, and I had a really tough pregnancy with that included Hyperemesis Gravidarum (you can read about my personal experience of HG here
or find out more about Hyperemesis at www.hyperemesis.org
) , 3 unexplained bleeds, then being told that Henry may have had a heart defect that wasn't compatible with life at his 20 week scan followed by catching swine flu at 8 months pregnant! I mean seriously it really felt like I couldn't catch a break, but then Henry was born after a quick & relatively easy labour and all of a sudden the trials and tribulations of pregnancy paled into insignificance. I was finally a mama to the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen and he was totally worth it! However I wasn't in a hurry to repeat the experience. But over time the memories faded and my mama hormones kicked in! I really wanted a sibling for Henry and I convinced myself that I might be lucky with my second pregnancy and only have normal symptoms.
It was never going to be that simple though was it?! However here I am after 3 more miscarriages (yes that's 6 in total now....I must be mad right?!) and I am now nearly 16 weeks pregnancy with what will hopefully be baby number 2 due in October, and we are so relieved & happy to have made it to the second trimester. However it seems my body really doesn't like being pregnant AT ALL because I have Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) again, and it's actually been worse this time! I have 24/7 nausea and haven't been able to keep any food or drink down even with a cocktail of anti-sickness drugs in my system. Because of this I have so far been hospitalised twice due to severe dehydration and my body going into ketosis (where your liver produces ketones as a result of your body having to burn it's fat stores because it's not receiving any nutrients due to starvation). I have no energy, I'm often disorientated due to dehydration, I don't really like to leave the house because i'm so sick all of the time and weak, I am unable to drive or travel any distance in the car because it makes the sickness worse and I am unable to work (which isn't great at all when you are self-employed with a new business). In short it feels like my body is struggling to keep going and life has stopped since this pregnancy began. I know that all sounds very melodramatic but after 12 weeks of this I am left feeling exhausted and depressed by it all. That really doesn't feel right after wanting the pregnancy so much, I feel like i should be walking on air and smiling constantly not crying and vomiting constantly.
I feel so awful because I am constantly letting people down, my students have been left without a teacher suddenly, people who I work with who I have had to cancel events, friends and family have been neglected, and my partner Ken who has suddenly had to become the sole bread winner & main caregiver to Henry as I have been unable to work or help out much at home! However nothing compares to the guilt i feel because I am letting Henry down. As his mama can no I can no longer play all of those energetic games he is used to, I cannot carry him for long, or cook his favourite meals. But worst of all I keep running away from him to be sick. I think my lowest point so far in this pregnancy was when Henry started to cry as i was being sick and came up to me, put his hands around my waist and said "I'm sorry mummy, please stop!" because his toddler logic tells him that saying sorry fixes everything and maybe I was being sick because of him. It's heartbreaking.
Sorry for the long rant, I know pregnancy posts are normally full of beaming smiles and women lovingly rubbing their bellies, but that will all happen soon.
I'm hoping things will improve over the coming weeks and life can get back to normal for a while (at least until the baby arrives) and I can get back to work with all of my lovely students who I haven't been able to see since late February/early March and to start being a good Mama to Henry again. Hopefully then I can also enjoy being pregnant for a little while too, because I'm sure as hell not planning on doing this again!
You'll have to excuse the medical tone of this post. I am writing it purely because I'm not in the mood to talk to people face to face about this so instead I am writing it down to get it off my chest & try to get it all clear in my head.
So if you've read any of my previous posts or you follow my @Kimbled
twitter account (It's my account that is less about knitting & more inappropriate at times) you are probably aware that i have been struggling with the symptoms of PCOS. For the last 2 months I have been following a low GI diet and have cut out most dairy from my diet in a bid to tackle the problem without the need for medication.
However things have changed....You see last week i thought I was pregnant! I had the following symptoms:
* Late period,
* Totally exhausted,
* A constant nauseous feeling,
It all felt very familiar & I allowed myself to consider that I might be pregnant. I was scared & nervous but also very, very excited at the prospect that we might have another baby on the way. However 3 negative pregnancy tests & then my period arriving put paid to that theory! I was upset that i wasn't pregnant, but also confused as to why I was still experiencing these symptoms. I actually thought I might be losing the plot a bit & having a phantom pregnancy! The good news is that my doctor assures me that I am not going crazy, however the bad news is that the symptoms are being caused by my Liver kicking up a fuss.
It seems like a cruel trick of nature to trick you into thinking you're pregnant when in fact that couldn't be further from the truth! I'm angry with my body again, I feel like its put me through enough over the last 6 years.....4 miscarriages, epilepsy & depression as well a healthy dose of acne & facial hair! I don't take any drugs or drink anymore really (a few drinks every 6 months or so!), i don't smoke, i don't have caffeine, and I eat a healthy vegetarian diet & I'm even trying to cut out dairy & my beloved sugar!! What more does my body want from me?!?! There's nothing left to give up! Because of all of this, yesterday I was feeling sorry for myself in a BIG way. It's not productive & i know it doesn't help, but I was indulging myself in a pity party. However now it's time to pick myself up & try and tackle this problem as quickly as I can (mainly as I am fed up of feeling sick & tired constantly......it does nothing for my mood!) so I'm adopting my 'science geek & health psychologist head' to try and find a way of sorting this myself, because starting medication means staying on medication for life & i'm not really that keen to do that just yet!
My doctor was great yesterday and talked me through what was going on with my PCOS & why my liver might not be happy about it all. We established a long time ago that I suffer from insulin resistance & also high levels of LH hormones thus have way too many androgens for a female. What i didn't know was that these issues can be linked to liver function as they both can have a negative effect on the liver's metabolic capacity. The liver acts as our body's filter & plays a part in digestion, but it also helps to synthesise our hormones. When you suffer from PCOS the liver has to work really hard to try and maintain a normal balance & if you overload it with other toxins as well as hormonal imbalance & insulin resistance you have a very unhappy liver and it's time for a detox!
picture from: http://fertilityplus.org.uk
So eating my feelings
is not allowed anymore, no more treats including white bread, cake or white rice & pasta! Only organic whole foods & lots of water! I also started taking a number of herbal remedies yesterday that are known to help with PCOS & regaining hormonal so hopefully that will help. I am also going to start acupuncture. I have heard & read some fantastic things about the benefits that women experience when using it to balance hormones. I am excited to see if it helps (although I'm not to excited to see how much lighter my purse is after the experience!) If i'm honest I'm quite disheartened that all of the measure that I have been taking haven't helped, but i'm not ready to give up yet. I guess I have to admit that i could be stricter on the diet & that too many sugary treats slip their way in occasionally. Time to up the will power!
I don't really know anybody else in a similar position to me and it can be hard not really having anybody to talk to about it as i don't have a clue if any of this is going to work, but it's worth a try. At the very least a detox isn't going to do me any harm.
So wish me luck & hopefully I'll be able to tell you all about the fantastic health benefits i'm experiencing sooner rather than later!
This weekend sees Southville come alive as 250 urban artists take to the street to create bright, colourful & inspiring pieces of art which will be auctioned off this Monday.
I have gone along to every Upfest since it was started in 2008. However since 2010 the event now holds special meaning to me as I remember walking around the streets of Southville in the beautiful sunshine with a big smile on my face after finding out the day before that i was pregnant with my son Henry. I felt waves of nausea as I strolled around smelling the fumes of the spray paint, but each wave of sickness made me smile as it was the first time in all of my pregnancies that i had felt sick. I took that as a sign that this baby might be a fighter & things might turn out well. I went back last year with my baby strapped tightly to my chest & it was really emotional for me as i remembered the previous year knowing that day filled with hope, sunshine & laughs was in fact the beginning of my motherhood journey. I know that it's really soppy, but as i walk around looking at all of the beautiful colours, seeing everybody of all ages having fun I always feel really happy & the memory of my joy in 2010 is never far from my mind.
I went down on Saturday afternoon with my Sister. It was one of those rare occasions where I was without Henry as he was off partying with his daddy. This meant I was free to indulge in a few pints as i explored North Street. This was lovely as i never really drink anymore as i have been either pregnant or breastfeeding for the last 2 years! I had a warm fuzzy glow thanks to my low tolerance to cider nowadays, but it added to my enjoyment of the day. Among the crowds were people out to have a good time in a street party mood, as well as Families walk around with their children & much loved pets. It was typical of any community event held in Bristol because everybody is welcome & everybody seems to have a good time despite the diversity of the crowds. It really is why i love this city so much, because I know that my Son will grow up seeing that he gets to join in and enjoy all that the city has to offer without being resigned to a children's corner away from all of the action! There is so much for children to do there, but it's all part of the main action too making them feel like part of the event!
The artwork created at Upfest seems to get bigger & better every year with more and more artists coming to showcase their talent. The main attraction this year however seemed to be The Upfest Tube located on Greville Road, which pays homage to Graffiti's roots in hip hop culture & the early New York Subway graffiti. It's a massive project & really does have an amazing retro feel to it, but with a cheeky jubilee twist at the end of the carriage with a portrait of the Queen holding a spray can.
There was a real Jubilee theme to this year's offerings (one of the artists even had a red, white & blue coloured beard!) & the bunting and general festivities gave this year's Upfest a 'Alternative street party' feel. I'm not sure it's what the Queen had in mind, but people were out in force celebrating our local culture so I think it's even better than eating M&S Jubilee cakes under naff Union Jack bunting! 😉 I really enjoyed wandering around without having to worry about a toddler, but it somehow didn't feel right going without Henry. So i decided to return today with the whole family (George the dog came too!) to see how all of the artwork had progressed. It was a lovely afternoon as we had lunch at The Spotted Cow, visited the Tobacco Factory Market (where I found the most delicious salted caramel macaroons!) and walked along the quieter streets admiring all they had to offer.
2012's Upfest offered me another of it's perfect moments this afternoon as we were walking around North Street Green. Not long after we arrived there the rain came pouring down in a heavy shower sending all of us running into the refreshments tent. We all huddled together in the small tent under the bunting watching as children decorated tea cups. The rain then disappeared as suddenly as it arrived & for the first time that day the sun came out in full force. Everybody filtered back outside smiling & laughing at our crazy weather and the DJ played Blind Melon's classic tune 'No Rain'. It was perfect & i was so happy that we had gone back down as a family. I can't imagine going there & no sharing it with Henry anymore! I think that the majority of my favourite pieces were based here so I got to take them all in with the sun shining & the perfect song playing. Thank you Upfest for giving me more perfect memories!!
So there you have it, my take on what is becoming a great Bristolian tradition! I love going for my own personal reasons, but i also love how it reminds me what a great place Bristol is to raise children! If you haven't managed to pop down to Southville to see everything yet, it will all be on display tomorrow too.
Yes i am still here and I have lots to tell you all about some exciting new projects and the developments with our house, but before i do i thought i had better explain why i have been absent from here for quite some time. I haven't abandoned this blog and my Homemade Mama ventures, In fact i have sat down to write things so many times, but i just didn't know what to say at the time.
Things have been quite tough over the last few months for me health wise, much of which i think is a direct result of not taking care of myself properly while renovating the house. After we moved in early March i began to feel very low and started to suffer with anxiety attacks and violent mood swings (which although were worse on those close to me!). I didn't really want to see anybody and felt that nobody would really want to see me either. I was depressed one moment, agitated the next. My skin was terrible due to a nasty outbreak of acne, I had developed a beautiful collection of hairs on my chin and i was exhausted to the point that walking up the stairs was an effort some days. I cried everyday, which just isn't like me! Despite the fact that I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) after my third miscarriage in 2010 i had never really thought much about it to be honest. I have always had fairly normal periods, if a longer than a normal cycle and i'm not overweight so i didn't really think that i had any symptoms. However after a lot of research after a chat to my doctor it would seem that depression, anxiety, mood swings and fatigue, along with my delightful acne & facial hairs are all symptoms! Isn't PCOS a dream?!?!
The reason i went to see a doctor was that i had the misfortune to have my 4th Miscarriage in March. This is not an easy subject to write about, especially so soon after the event so i will keep it brief, but i will say that it seems pretty certain that my PCOS has played a part in my miscarriage as my hormone levels are seriously out of whack (a medical term obviously!). Now although this was a horrible thing to go through AGAIN, it has had some positive effect in that it has made me make some steps to control my PCOS symptoms & they appear to really be working! I don't want to make this an essay on PCOS as i'm sure it will bore you silly, but if you want to know more about it please do get in touch! I have been reading every book and article i can find on the matter & as a result of this information have made some dramatic changes to my diet that involve cutting out most refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and milk. I am also exercising again (which is amazing!) and taking a rather large selection of vitamins known to help.
For the first time in months i am feeling much more like myself, i'm no longer crying all the time like a crazed hormonal beast which can only be a good thing! I'm still not 100% as my anxiety levels and fatigue still need to normalise, but they are nowhere near as bad as they have been! I'm starting to get better and it feels fantastic! I have really found taking charge and being proactive about my own health really empowering & have seen some really positive effects. Plus we have really revamped what we eat as a family. We have always been pretty healthy in that we are vegetarians who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables along with low fat sources of protein, but we got a bit stuck in a food rut after Henry was born due to lack of time. However i have really been enjoying cooking new things for us all, especially as i know that this new diet reduces my Mister's cholesterol levels as well as my insulin resistance! This weeks favourites have had a mexican theme & have been yummy! We've needed a bit of chilli in our lives as we're certainly not getting any heat in the weather here. ;)
My biggest challenge now as a total sugar junkie is to seriously cut down on my chocolate/cake/cookie consumption.......wish me luck! I don't have many vices, but by god i love cake!!
Also although i know it may seem a little morbid or depressing, but i thought i would let you all know about another book while i was on the subject of my current reading. I first read this book on the recommendation of my OB-GYN at Southmead after my third miscarriage, and i truly believe that if it wasn't for the practical advice and facts in this book i wouldn't have been able to carry Henry to term! It is a must for all women who want to know what they can do to help themselves after a miscarriage & want answers as to what may have been the cause. It can give you a feeling of control and ward off the utter helplessness you can feel after such a horrible event. Anyway it's called 'Miscarriage: What every woman needs to know' (2001) by Professor Lesley Regan. I really wish that somebody had put this book in my hands years ago after my first miscarriage, so i am letting you all know in case you know somebody who might benefit from reading it.
So there you have it: i have been away being a bit of a hormonal mess (Thank you endocrine system & Insulin......you've been just swell to me) but i'm getting back to normal and trying really hard to show my body that it's just not acceptable to be so disobedient & act so strangely without my express conscious permission! ;) I now have my much needed energy and creative mojo back and i have been putting it to good use! I will post again tomorrow to ask you all for your opinions on a new creative project