Dear Jasmine……. all the things I want to tell you as I watch you grow.

Whilst I was pregnant, my partner and I decided to create an email account for our baby girl. We individually send her letters, photos and videos. When she is 18 or around that age, and is having a down day where she may doubt herself and lack in confidence or if she has had her heart broken for the first time (shortly after her Dad has been round to ‘have a word’ with him) I will give her the password to her email account and then she can read 18 years worth of love letters to her from her Daddy and me.

Here’s my most recent email.

Dear Jasmine,

Today you turned four month old, Daddy and I are convinced you are going to be a genius, you’re so clever and bright. So clever you now know you are in your car seat and instead of being the contented little baby you once were in the car you now hate it!! And from being the most sociable little girl you have turned in to a Velcro baby who can only be passed to me or your daddy without tears.

I’ve researched this and it’s known as the 4th leap, which is part of your development. So the tougher it is for me the brighter you will be right?! Today you went swimming for the first time, you kicked your legs so hard and concentrated so much it’s amazing how determined you are.

Today you not only swam for the first time you also did a poop and it went all over my brand new white Egyptian cotton bedsheets…. so this is not a love letter…. this is an invoice! I joke. I have never known anxiety like I have now, I worry about you so much. I’m not sure that will ever get easier. This age is such a beautiful age to watch you grow. But it’s so hard too, my back hurts from all the cuddles you need and I want to give you, I’m no longer allowed to eat dairy as you may have an intolerance, your cry shatters my heart a million times every time I hear it. But I wouldn’t change anything because I love you so much and I’m so grateful.

Your cry means your alive and expressing your emotions, I’m grateful.

Your cuddles mean you love me and I love you so much, I’m grateful we have that bond.

Your waking up through the night means we can spend those precious moments together, the nights may be long but the years are short. I’m grateful.

I’m so grateful for you, I know the difficulty others may go through to have children, I know there are those who have lost children and how lucky I am despite the challenges I face every day.

And now you’re all grown up sweetheart, so please, go to the fridge and pour mummy a glass of wine…..

love you always darling

Mummy xx

The Incredible Facemask….

I heard a rumour that summer was just around the corner so I thought it was time to start prepping my skin to get it looking effortlessly good, not easy when I spend most of my time carrying a four month old! I look for four things when buying skin care products

1. Has to leave my skin feeling soft and great

2. Has to be easy to apply and maintain

3. Has to be cruelty free – really important!

4. Has to make me look 19 again.

Ok, so number 4 is a little tough by anyone’s standards but when I heard about ‘the incredible face mask’ from ‘May Beauty’ I knew I had to give it a go.

They bags under my eyes have been less than forgiving and we’re not talking Prada or Gucci bags, no, we are talking 5p carriers that you panic buy every time your at the checkout….in short – I look pretty damn tired.

The mask itself is black in colour and promises to remove back heads, prevent acne, remove excessive oils and dead skin cells. It extracts blackheads and pollution from your pores. All May Beauty products are cruelty free – which is great!

I was worried my white bathroom may get covered in black mask but the consistency is really thick, it’s easy to apply and it comes with a really cute brush to apply it with which I really like.

Then is the waiting game, I’m quite impatient so kept looking to see if it was ready to peel. As a child I would cover my hands in PVA glue to get the enjoyment of peeling it off again, I was excited to peel off the mask. After about 30 minutes It was ready, the peel-ability (if that’s a word) was as satisfying as I hoped. And did it make a difference to my skin? Yes. It felt incredibly clean, like when I’ve had facials in the past, a really nice new feeling!

I put a little moisturiser on my skin and it felt really nice, I in fact went make up free for the day which is unlike me! I then continued this routine for another couple of nights in the week and I could definitely notice a difference in how my skin felt. Although I probably didn’t look 19 again, it really did give my skin a youthful feel – I couldn’t stop touching it. The other half even said my skin looked good which must mean it’s good!

I can definitely recommend this product! If you fancy a try I’d love to know your results – even better you can get 30% off using coupon blakemask30 at the checkout!

Does it really hurt?? When Jasmine entered the world.

When I had a hamster, whenever I mentioned to people that I had a hamster their instant reaction was to tell me horror stories of how their hamster died, much the same with labour, everyone has a dramatic story, no one wakes up one morning to find their baby had fallen out over night. When I was pregnant I had lots of questions, mainly, does it hurt? Everyone revels in telling you how painful it is but never elaborates….leaving you terrified. I know being shot in the leg would be so painful but if you told me in 9 months I’d be shot in the leg I would be terrified, the irony is fear itself makes labour 100 times worse, so I planned to give an honest post of how Jasmine came in to the world.

So here it is… Firstly, I planned a water birth, truth be told I had planned a spa day! I had private hypnobirthing sessions to focus on my breathing and visualisation to make it as painless as possible, I didn’t feel scared about giving birth, I was excited, I had a playlist, snacks and a new bikini. I had packed like I would do for a spa day. I knew how I wanted to look, how I wanted my hair and I was so excited to share with everyone my pain free birthing story.

Sunday December 17th (the day before Jasmine due date)

I was the size of a house, not a mansion but certainly not a studio apartment. In short, I was ready to get this baby out. But no signs of her making an entrance. I went to Sainsbury’s to get some snacks and once I got back I notice a small wet patch on my jogging bottoms (told you I was big). I told Dave and we sat and debated whether it was waters or if I had just peed myself. Both first time parents we debated this for ages and eventually called delivery suite who would monitor me at 9pm that night….I was still worried I’d just wet myself while at Sainsbury’s but once they tested me they confirmed it was in fact my back waters (you have front and back waters – who knew?)

They monitored me and said it looked like I was having braxton hicks or as Dave renamed them, Toni Braxton hicks – helpful. They let me go home to see if I naturally went in to labour other wise they said they would have to induce me due to risk of infection. ‘I can’t be induced, I’m having a water birth’ they smiled awkwardly at me and I trotted off home on the eve of my due date still envisaging myself in the birthing pool listening to Enya drinking an alcohol free mojito.

Monday 18th December – Jasmines due date.

I woke up in the morning and wasn’t in labour, I had aches coming and going every 10 minutes but that wasn’t it. The hospital called and asked when I was going to be induced ‘oh I’m not being induced’ I explained again ‘I’m having a water birth’ (you can’t go in the water if you’re induced.) We agreed that we would go in midday and I’d discuss induction….still thinking in the back of my mind I’d convince them to let me in the pool.

So I walked the dogs and was still a bit uncomfortable but off we went to the hospital leaving all our bags in the boot of the car.

I was taken on to a ward with women who were there for check ups and scans before they carried on with their Christmas shopping. The nurse told me they were running behind and would get to me as soon as possible, so I laid on the bed whilst Dave helpfully played ‘football manager’ on his phone. ‘These beds are so uncomfortable they’re giving me back spasms’ I complained, Dave agreed although wasn’t really listening, he was too busy selling and signing football players on his phone. These back spasms went on for an hour to the point I had to close my eyes and breathe through them….weird. All the time hearing chit chat…. the nurse finally came around to talk about induction and I suggested she examined me, I was 7cms dilated. She wanted to talk about pain relief, I once again told her I was having a water birth, after telling me it was unlikely, I gave Dave the death stare. ‘Get me in the pool’ he tried and failed. On the plus side he had put down his phone now and had taken to asking me if I was ok with every contraction. Yep, it’s a festival of fun!

I still made no noise and used my hypnobirthing to focus me to breathe and visualise something away from the pain, this helped. I was also falling asleep between contractions as the relief was so nice. She brought me an A4 Leaflet on the different pain relief available. ‘Sorry I took so long, the printers playing up’ she chuckled but now I couldn’t read the leaflet, I was too focused on my breathing which is why I got to 10cms without pain relief and then ended up pushing for four hours without any either. Let’s take a moment to think of poor Dave who hadn’t eaten yet, what a brave little solider, so off he went to get the snack bags. Phew, again… poor Dave. I tried some gas and air and instantly felt like I’d drunk a whole bottle of Pinot Grigio (bearing in mind I had been sober for nine months.)

Little miss Jasmine was doing the Macarena with her hands above her head! So I told them it was game over at this point. Let’s fast forward to 20 minutes later, I was being induced to make the contractions stronger, things got dramatic in theatre and a nurse accidentally ripped out my cannula, it was like a hose pipe spraying blood everywhere from my hand, my contractions were now on top of each other and painful (but let’s remember – we are designed to do this.) Yes, the pain was intense and then they gave me an epidural and instantly the pain vanished straight away. Then I was treated to an episiotomy, forceps delivery, a blood transfusion and a partridge in a pear tree! And she was here!!!

10.16pm and 7lb 11oz she looked like a little alien. She cried, Dave cried, I sucked an ice cube on a stick as I was so thirsty and not allowed liquids in theatre. But she was here…..what a babe!

Nine months of a tough pregnancy, dramatic labour, pain, worry, stress, body changing, anxiety, sickness, drugs, I had endured it all and she came out looking like……HER DAD!!! What’s that all about?!

She was safe. She had a great pair of lungs and I without doubt would have died without our fantastic NHS. The midwives and doctors at Norfolk and Norwich hospital were incredible, I was in awe of their kindness and compassion, that night and throughout my whole stay . From the student midwife who worked overtime to make sure Jasmine arrived safely to the night nurse who pushed Jasmine around the hospital so I could sleep (wish I had taken her number now as could do with her again!) There are not enough words to thank them. We are so lucky in this country and should never loose sight of that.

And here I was a mummy. With so much pain and so many challenges ahead but it’s no cliche when I say I could do it all again for her! Everyone has a labour story would love to hear yours…

‘The course of true love never did run smooth’ William Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 1 A midsummer nights dream

An octopuses garden in the shade…. can a 16 week old really enjoy a day out?

The answer to the question is yes. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to go to the sealife centre in Great Yarmouth , I’ve wanted to go for ages and Jasmine is the perfect decoy for me to go to all these fun places! She’s 16 weeks old and despite her inquisitive nature I was sure she wouldn’t care less about the fish.

I was wrong, she was mesmerised by the colours, the moving animals, the lights, the smells, the noises and concentrated in wonder at the giant sensory hub! She was too young to look at all the facts and games but other commented on how focused she was on all the creatures, she really loved it.

I would definitely recommend this, especially as the sunshine seems like an urban myth at the moment!

Thriving or surviving? Late night ramblings of a unkept mother….

I write this as the clock reads 5.15am, Jasmine hasn’t been in her crib since 11pm despite my efforts, the girl wants to sleep front down on my chest! Which got me thinking, am I really thriving or just surviving? Before I became a mum I would never think to tell a mum what a great job she was doing, consumed with thoughts about how lucky they were to have time off work and ‘how hard can it be?’ Or ‘it’s a life choice’. Before I became Jasmines mummy I never realised the power behind those simple words. You’re doing so well. Now I try and tell others all the time. I’ve thrown 100% of my life in to becoming Jasmines mummy that I’ve forgotten how to just be me.

I used to love trying new clothes but now when I’m in the city I look for clothes for her not me not to mention the fact I’ve hacked most of my tops in to something I can feed in! I shower because of convenience and eat because I need fuel for the night shift…..then the days shift and then the night shift again….. my skin feels like a pre loved shoe! I look at celebrities and wonder how they look so great? how do they have time to look so glamorous? To look like themselves again so soon? Instagram is literally crammed with pictures of mummy celebs looking amazing!! As I look at the reflection staring back at me in the mirror, I wonder am I really thriving or just surviving?

I want to feel nice again. But, then I look at Jasmine, does she care if I’m wearing cute jeans or comfy leggings? Or does she care if I have a full face of make up and perfect nails? Does she care if I follow a you tube tutorial on the perfect ‘messy bun’…. no. She doesn’t care. She cares that I’m here, that I love her, and that she is warm and fed. So when she looks back at pictures of us together I won’t be perfect in the picture but she will look happy and so will I.

“The course of true love never did run smooth” – William Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 1 – a midsummer nights dream.

A slice of humble pie… expectations vs baby reality.

Below I combined a hilariously naive list of actual things that I said during pregnancy and the honest reality that goes with them…..

‘I’m going to have a waterbirth without pain relief, I’m hypnobirthing you see’

Ha, I hadn’t considered the fact they wouldn’t let me in the pool due to risk of infection after my waters broke 24 hours before hand in Sainsbury’s (I’ll save that for another blog). In my head I had envisaged a spa day, in reality I felt like an extra on the set of Texas chainsaw massacre.

‘I’m not going to be one of those mums who post pictures of their babies on social media’

I’ve just counted 71 pictures of Jasmine on my Instagram, 71!! How self obsessed of me to think anyone wants pictures of her thrust upon them, at the same time – I can’t bloody help myself! Ahhhh!

‘I’m going to finish my novel on my year off, and maybe learn to bake’

Year off???? Year OFF??!!!! I’ve never worked so hard at a job in my life, it doesn’t stop at 5pm it doesn’t even stop at 5am, it’s 24 hours a day! I’m lucky if I can get dressed and brush my teeth let alone become the next JK Rowling or Mary Berry!

‘I don’t want anything second hand, only the best crib for my baby!’

I will level with you, if Jasmine had a good nights sleep in a cardboard box, I reckon I’d give it a go right now!

I think the night feed will be ok as I’m up quite a lot in the night anyway’

Ha, oh Marie, you fool! Nothing can prepare you for the nights (see my previous blog ‘will I ever sleep again’) imagine just drifting off and someone screaming in your ear WAKE UP NOW!!! Now!!! Now!!!! And continuing to do so until you’re up. This is every 40 minutes sometimes less…. the fun part is you never know, could be after two minutes of shutting your eyes, could be an hour! Russian sleep roulette! Nothing can prepare you for this. Maybe I need to invent some kind of night time boot camp that does this, or even better they give you a taster at anti natal classes rather than the ‘getting to know you’ icebreakers everyone hates.

‘I think having the dogs has prepared me to be a mum’

Let me tell you – leaving a baby home alone is frowned upon. I know, who knew? Can’t just pop to the shops or pop to New York. Dogs are allowed to sleep wherever they like really, you are not scared about sudden infant death syndrome or the only source dogs can eat from. Yes, they taught me huge responsibility and love as a mum but it’s a very different kind of responsibility.

I won’t ever cut my hair off in to a short “mumsy” style’

Cut it off, cut it all off! It resides in a messy bun on top of my head most days, my hair straighteners are in retirement and as for the colour, whole knows…. blonde grease anyone?

‘My baby won’t be watching TV, I don’t want her sat in front of a screen’

Honestly. She smiled twice during peppa pig so I’m taking that as a signal I can put her in a bouncer to watch an episode while I drink tea….or wine.

‘We will bring the babies crib down in to the lounge so she can sleep whilst we eat, watch box sets and unwind’

We will takes shifts holding the baby while the other eats and we are winning if we manage to rock enough while holding her standing up to watch a whole programme without interruption. Most of the time we pause the TV while she has a cry, Eastenders can take up to seven hours to watch.

I will probably put the in a bouncer in the bathroom when I’m in there so she can entertain herself’

Bathroom time is in general a no no. I can, if I’m feeling creative, have a wee. This consists of me angling the baby on the bed so she can see me, while I frantically entertain her like a CBeebies presenter on Prozac. Sometimes it works.

Her nursery is the theme of vintage Disney meets Nordic love’

Her nursery is the theme of Jumble sale meets Primark on a Saturday afternoon!

Share the message with all those pregnant mummies with the content smugness I once had!

“The course of true love never did run smooth” – William Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 1 – a midsummer nights dream.

Three dogs and a little lady….Introducing a newborn baby to family pets!

‘She doesn’t want to be licked Vader!’ I plead with my four year old shih tzu for the ninth time that morning. I didn’t bring a baby home to just Vader though, I brought a baby home to Vader, Leia and Obi, the ‘Star Wars shih tzus’ and our beloved babies a long time before Jasmine came along. Nothing makes me more sick than people who look to rehome their pets once a baby is on the way, as though the pets were just a stop gap or a support act until the main event turned up. A poor dog who has showered you with unconditional love. You are their whole world, then gone, put on gumtree once the baby arrives, advertised as ‘free to good home’ which in itself is a very dangerous advert to place as often people looking for bait dogs respond to these posts! Anyhow, I digress… it’s heartbreaking. A baby was always going to enhance my family and by no means replace any members of it!

The dogs trust have a great article on introducing a new baby to pets but I simply want to give you my experience. When people ask me how the dogs find the new baby I tell them that they LOVE her, which is true! They believe she is their baby they want to protect her, Jasmine only need to whimper a little and the dogs go in to full security guard mode, giving her little licks for reassurance. I am, of course always there when they are around her but I have no concern for the love they have for her. I asked visitors to always make a fuss of the dogs first and then Jasmine second, each night I pop a treat in her hand and they gently take it from her, I talk to the dogs as I do her throughout the day. Vader is desperate to play with her, he takes her his favourite toy – a little pink egg and drops it by her head with optimistic hope that she will throw it back! At three months old I think it’s a bit ambitious! Don’t get me wrong there are those moments when I’ve just put Jasmine down for a nap and they all start barking because a leaf blew near the window, unable to tell them off and make more noise, I have to give them my unhappy stare! Also, when someone comes to the door I have to do a one legged jiggle, holding the dogs back from escaping with one foot, balancing on the other as I hold the baby. Yes, it’s hard, but I can already tell she’s going to love them, almost as much as they love her! I can’t wait to see their faces when she starts crawling around after her. Let me be clear, my dogs are incredibly placid and I would trust them with my life, always use the best approach suited to your dogs personality, but please don’t give up on them because they would never give up on you!

“The course of true love never did run smooth” Act 1, Scene 1 a midsummer nights dream – William Shakespeare