News Flash!

Ahem! So, today is quite a big day and I’m going to let the picture do all the talking… 🙂

I can’t believe that the time has gone so quickly already and I’ve been waiting to have a bump to show you all! It’s lovely to be finally able to announce that Pete and I are expecting our first baby! I’m almost half way along now and so glad the bump has finally popped out so I can start talking babies, motherhood and get advice from so many of the mums who I know read Florence Finds.

As always, the blog is a reflection of my life, so I hope I don’t put off those of you who don’t have or want children, yet or ever, but I’m not expecting to have a personality transplant now there are three of us, so much of the blog will remain unchanged. Hopefully, this will be a welcome addition, it certainly is for us. 🙂

Anyway, I’m going to write a bit more next week, for now, I’m so glad you all know!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I’m wearing the ASOS dress I posted about last week in a size 12 for extra room!

Family Lifestyle: Family Fraud

Today Esme is broaching a subject that is very near to my heart as a blogger, the reality behind the on-screen facade. It’s extremely hard as a blogger to bridge the gap between those who want pretty escapism and those who find a perpetually positive approach at best saccharine and at worst perpetuating the media factory of idealism that makes the average reader feel inadequate. I personally prefer positivity as I feel I really have little in life to complain about, but thats not to say that like all of you I don’t have the same daily trials and tribulations. Being a new Mum is difficult enough without holding yourself up to ‘blogger mums’ so I’m glad Esme is keeping it real today…

I’m a fraud. I think you should know that I’m not what you think I am. Perhaps I should explain…

Nearly all of us bloggers are guilty of presenting an image that is not a complete representation of our lives, but, of course, most of the time that’s fine and kind of the point of blogging: it’s escapism and offering something to aspire to. Ever since Rebecca started Florence Finds that’s what this blog has been for me, an opportunity to look at some pretty clothes, dream about perfecting my beauty routine and a bit of a break from the daily grind imagining that one day I too could be as stylish and organised as her. When Rebecca asked me to write a family column here, I jumped at the chance. But when she titled it ‘family lifestyle’, I have to admit I was a bit scared – there was no way my real life could live up to what she would want.

The fear of coming across as Rebecca’s boring mum friend soon went away as I realised I had lots to write about, but when I started thinking about my next columns I realised that I had inadvertently already begun to portray a side of my family that is not completely honest. Don’t get me wrong, we really did go to Belgium, we do love the National Trust and Freddie really is that cute, but the smiley, happy, loved-up family days such as the Welcome to the World party are not our everyday and I would never want any new or expectant (or hoping one day to be) mums to think I’m something I’m not.

I adore my life right now, but it is not all baby giggles and trips away. We are by no means a perfect family and I am not a perfect mum: money is tight, my husband works more than I’d like, my baby does sleep through the night, but can be a complete nightmare during the day if he wants to. I get very stressed sometimes, am generally found to be wearing my least dirty terribly fitting jeans with a baggy t-shirt to hide my 9 months post-baby tummy and find myself doing that mum cliche of collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day with a glass of wine more often than I’d like to admit. I am not stylish, back in my pre-pregnancy jeans or able to juggle looking after a baby full-time with being a housewife (not mentioning an actual wife) and keeping in touch with friends as often as I’d like. I definitely don’t ‘have it all’.

I know that when Freddie was first born and I was struggling very, very hard with breast feeding, reading something like this ‘New Years Resolutions’ post on the stylist Emily Henderson’s blog would have made me feel completely inadequate and feel like I was failing even more than I already felt I was. Now I’ve got a few months under my belt (and a few more than Emily Henderson, I might add), I can step back from that post and knowingly declare to the mums who may have read it that they are not to worry. And because the last thing I would want to do is write something that would make someone like the new mum I was feel bad, I wanted to write this post so you all know the truth.

So what is the truth? Am I worthy of writing a column titled ‘family lifestyle’? Of course I am, as long as I give you all something you can believe in – a bit of the ‘sunnier’ side of life as a three, along with the starker reality.

Is that alright with you?

Love, Esme

Have you ever found yourself feeling inadequate after reading a blog, and do you have any favourite blogs that ‘keep it real’?

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

Mentioning the unmentionable…

… Miscarriage. It’s not something we talk about often is it? Or hear about, dispite the fact that 1 in 4 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. We have talked before about people admitting they are trying and why you may or may not keep that to yourselves. Miscarriage is the inevitable fear of early pregnancy. Tell people early on and you may have to break bad news later at a time when you feel most vulnerable. Keep it quiet and you have to shoulder the sorrow alone. It’s a catch 22 situation.

Before you all leap to conclusions, this post was sent into me by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous but wanted the support of the Florence Finds community in this time of isolation. It’s a huge compliment to you all that she felt she could find comfort here. Although I have never been in the same situation, it’s certainly something I have seen through family and work and I know how much heartache it causes. I know amongst many of you there will be women who can identify and offer support and I know our anonymous contributor will be grateful for your advice.


image credit: mindful mum

That little blue line.

The overwhelming excitement, fear and happiness floods my body all at once. This is something we’ve been wanting for some time. Working towards, never really knowing when or if it would happen, trying not to make a big deal of it each month when it didn’t happen. And now it was here, it was real. It’s so strange the emotions and thoughts you have… is it really happening? Can we be sure? Let’s do another test. Yep it’s really happening. Let’s see the doctor and get them to confirm. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!

The days that followed those tests went by in a blur of pure elation. The closeness we felt to each other was like nothing I’d experienced before, like we were now truly one, totally in sync and blissfully happy at what our future was to hold.

We reminded ourselves it was early, that the rules tell us not to get too excited, to wait to tell anyone until we’ve seen that little scan that tells us this is real, this IS really happening.

It felt nice to have this little secret to ourselves; at the same time it felt painful to not be able to share our good news, to shout it from the rooftops like we wanted to. We’ve had a lot of bad news recently, times of upset and despair for both our families. This is what I was looking forward to the most, delivering the most amazing news ever to our unsuspecting family. We grew more and more excited, chatting into the small hours about how life was going to drastically change, how we thought we’d cope, how we’d tell our families, how we’d tell his little girl and help her to understand what it meant, ensuring she felt loved and cared for, not left out and overlooked for something and someone new. We worked out dates, marked them up in code on our calendars, figured out how we’d get through the forthcoming social events in the diary without giving the game away, and we gave our growing child a nickname that only we would understand. We watched my belly begin to grow, filled the fridge with super-healthy foods and waited for the sickness to begin, knowing we were doing everything we could to ensure a healthy, happy pregnancy for both of us.

Blood.

It’s a scary sight at the best of times, but when it’s not supposed to be there it’s the most frightening sight of all. Just spotting at first, we chat it through, we google the hell out of it and convince ourselves, it’s normal, it’s implantation bleeding, it’s getting settled in.

Red blood.

It’s not normal. This should not be happening.


image credit: universal blueprint

I think I knew the second I saw it, it’s hard to explain really, call it instinct, call it intuition, call it what you want. I wish I didn’t have it, I wish I hadn’t known in that very second that my baby had died. That my baby who hadn’t even formed properly yet had already left this world. Of course, you hope you are wrong but deep down you know. We call the doctors, it’s a Saturday and we get little support, we’re told to ride it out and if it gets worse go to A&E. More googling, I find an early pregnancy unit nearby and call them. The advice is clear, sensible and compassionate without being patronising. Bleeding can be normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong but get some sanitary pads, monitor the blood for clots and if they start then call them back and we take it from there. A pensive few hours pass, thoughts swim around our heads like sharks waiting to eat us alive. We convince ourselves it could be okay, the voice inside me screams it’s not okay, its over.

Blood clots. This is really happening.

And then the tears flow, my body convulses as I fall into my partners arms and sob and sob. We call the unit, they tell us to go down there. Hours later and the feelings of loss are replaced by confusion, I’ve had my urine tested, twice, the results are negative. We’re told this is common and doesn’t really mean anything. They take blood to test my hormone levels, the results will take 24 hours. They do an internal examination, my cervix is closed. They tell me this means I haven’t miscarried and that I am pregnant. But they need to do a scan to know for sure what is happening. It’s all so terrifying and so confusing. Deep down I still know, I no longer feel pregnant, it’s hard to explain this feeling, I guess you do just know.

They can’t scan until the morning as the sonographer has gone home. We have a long and sleepless night, another round of convincing ourselves things could be okay, but inside I know it’s over. I feel calm, I know what’s coming, I know this is just clarification.

We arrive for the scan, we stare at the screen, we hear the sonographer say the words ‘early miscarriage, normal, nothing you have done, try again’. They float around the air like daggers waiting to sink deep into our hearts, remaining there forever. I don’t cry, I had already played this scene out in my head, I was expecting it, I already knew.

But as we begin to drive home, the tears start to flow once again, the uncontrollable sobs, the convulsing body. It’s all so alien to me, I am the together one, I am the strong one, I’m the one who reasons everything, supports everyone else through their troubles and traumas. What do I know!


image credit: saying goodbye

The feeling of emptiness is overwhelming.

Mourning the loss of something that never was is a strange concept to wrap your head around. It’s not like losing someone you know, someone who has lived a life. That’s a concept I understand and as painful as it is, it’s a natural process and one we feel equipped to deal with. This, it feels different. It’s mourning for the what could have been, grieving for the lives we thought we were going to have, for the life we had pictured, imagined and wanted so badly. It’s bewildering and the pain is physical, not the pain of the miscarriage, the pain of loss.

And what was our beautiful little secret that only the two of us shared has now become our never-ending nightmare that we cannot escape from. No-one knows, our family are unaware and we’ve decided not to share the grief with them as they’ve had enough to deal with recently. Work don’t know, I’ve managed to juggle some annual leave days around to take a week off with a little explanation provided that I have some women’s problems to deal with. Our friends don’t know, it’s just us and the medical team who know.

The thought of ploughing on, of getting back to normal, of pretending like nothing is wrong makes my heart ache. I feel ill-equipped and incapable right now of putting on that brave face and getting through it. So I’m hoping that time really does heal and this week will give me what I need to wrap my head around this situation. That it will be just enough time to find that strength I know I have somewhere deep inside to put on the smile and carry on, despite my silent tears.

Please remember readers, if you would like to leave a comment anonymously, your gravatar is associated with your email address, not your name, so please use a fake email and pseudonym or simply ‘anon’.

My heart goes out to our writer today and any of you who have been through similar pregnancy related traumas.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Baby Body

I don’t often talk about ‘social interest’ topics on Florence Finds as I’m never sure how you will all engage with a a given topic. Last week however it seemed everyone had something to say about the birth of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby, Prince George, but an even hotter topic was Kate’s post baby body. Her simple appearance with baby George infront of the Lindo wing sparked a flurry of comments, ranging from bravo to admiration to weight loss advice – particularly the now ubiquitous comments from OK magazine on her post-natal shape up routine.


Image via The Metro

If I’m honest, I’m not surprised at OK. They are a trashy magazine and their weekly choice of content and celebrity stories pretty clearly states their position on championing ethical female role models. That would be not at all then. Am I surprised at them trying to make a quick buck out of capturing the public interest in The DoC, her always immaculate presentation and enviable figure? No. It’s sad that they are also targeting every woman who has recently given birth and will sadly be comparing themselves to Kate and how she looked leaving hospital; women who are often questioning their every decision already and desperately trying to rescue a self of self and self-esteem after such a life changing event and physical transformation. But am I surprised at that even? Not at all.

My reaction was two-fold. My first thought, prior to seeing the media storm that followed was how daunting it must have been to go out there, only 26 hours after becoming a mother, and face that bank of photographers. What can have been going through Kate’s mind? I am not a mother but have seen and can only imagine the ferocious change that women undergo, the fierce protectors they become of this little life they are responsible for, the immediate worry that arrives with the baby. How terrifying to be tired and emotional and so very vulnerable in so public a situation. I wonder if she saw their lives flash before her with the ever present papperazzi encroaching on every moment of his life?

Which leads me to my second thought. How mortifying after showing everyone your first born son to have some people find the main event to be the size of your post-partum bump? Did Kate make a conscious decision to display it rather than try to hide? Who knows. I suspect whether she ‘displayed’ her bump was the last thing on her mind. No doubt she hadn’t given it a passing thought amongst her emotions of joy and fatigue.

Aside from my feelings for Kate however, it has been fascinating to see the public reaction. I’ll admit, before I had close friends and family who had babies, I didn’t really realise that bumps don’t just shrink away after the birth, and that’s after seeing many babies born – when mums are nursing their newborn or lying flat post delivery it’s not as obvious at all, but once stood up it’s clear that the uterus and abdominal muscles are going to take some time to shrink back to their pre-baby shape. So it’s not surprising I suppose that some women are taken aback by a new mum’s tummy. After all if you’re not party to those first few days and weeks when a woman is post delivery then all the experience you have is of celebrities ‘snapping back’ into shape, described by the media like a piece of elastic stationary with no thought to responsible journalism. It was amazing to see the outpouring (both publicly and amongst my friends) of pride amongst the virtual sisterhood that identified with her ‘mum tum’, women applauding her who spoke about it like a badge of honour and the palpable sense of affirmation that even someone as ‘perfect’ as Kate had looked like they did post-baby.

I don’t have a conclusion to my musings, other than that it seemed to me to represent the most intrusive and distasteful part of being in the public eye, and that Kate as always handled it all with aplomb. I would love however to hear what you guys thought about it all. Are you one of the mums who cheered her on? Had you never seen a woman so close to a delivery before and were you surprised? Were you delighted to see some normalcy when it comes to a post-baby body?

Do share your thoughts readers…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Apologies if this is very mother and baby centric when there is obviously a very present father involved!

First Time Mum: The Early Days

Today, Becky is back with another update on her journey as a new Mum. When Becky first sent me this post she told me she had left a few paragraphs out as she didn’t want to scare any mums-to-be with the changes inevitably ahead. I asked her to send me them and we eventually agreed to include them here. Thankfully, these days the challenges of motherhood are more openly discussed along with the inherent joys and so I dont think some of the feelings Becky experienced will come as a shock to many, but if you are expecting and feel like today is not the day for a dose of reality, then feel free to skip down to her tips for getting thorough the first few weeks – about halfway down the page.

During the first few hazy days of motherhood, most people tell you that the first 2 weeks are the hardest but to enjoy every minute of it. I found it difficult to understand at the time but now, on the other side of the first three months, I totally get it. I think Mother Nature’s memory loss trick has a lot to answer for, but as I fought back the tears whilst packing Connie’s newborn clothes away recently, I realised that they are tiny for the shortest snippet of time. Blink and you’ve missed it.

Being a new mum is amazing in so many ways, but it’s also a time when you feel an enormous pressure to feel completely over the moon with life. I know that not everyone feels like that as not only is it really tough physically and emotionally, I think many new mums, me included, can feel completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of getting it right. No matter how many times you tell yourself that your life is going to change forever while you’re pregnant, the actual reality of it in the early days is mind blowing. All of a sudden you realise you are never going to be the person you were ever again. There were moments when I felt as if I was mourning the loss of my previous self but also feeling guilty for thinking it at the same time as Connie was everything I’d asked for. This was a post that I read, on Renegade Mothering, that I really identified with.

Most importantly, you must trust your instinct. Even in the first few days of motherhood when you think you haven’t a clue about the best way to care for your baby, just believe in yourself. You will know your baby better than any midwife or health visitor. You will be given ‘helpful’ advice from everyone you speak to. Most of it will be conflicting and everyone will suddenly have an opinion. I’d suggest quietly taking on board what they say and then doing things the way that you feel suits you and your baby. I was given some terrible advice by a health visitor and breastfeeding counsellor when I sought support in the early days. I knew deep down that it wasn’t the right advice for Connie and I but I didn’t have the confidence to believe that I knew better. As a result, I followed their advice and fell to pieces for a week. Thankfully my Mum was able to come to my rescue and we got back on track doing things the way we’d been doing them from the start. It was a tough lesson in self belief.

For today’s post, I wanted to share some of the things that helped us through those tough early days and hopefully, they might make it all seem a little more manageable.

EATING
During the later stages of pregnancy, start cooking in batches to stock your freezer with home cooked meals that are easy to re-heat. This is the most useful thing I did on my maternity leave.

SLEEPING
Sleep when your baby sleeps – even if you have a house full of visitors. Newborns don’t know night from day and need to feed every couple of hours.

It’s common for babies to go on feeding frenzies at night time (called cluster feeding). Connie regularly fed until 4.30am. After the first few nights, I was starting to struggle as I’d been staying up with her watching TV, reading or online. On day 6, a midwife suggested I try to keep night as restful as possible even if I wasn’t sleeping and she showed me how to safely feed in bed. This was the best piece of advice I was given. It saved me from becoming nocturnal and eventually, your baby will start to recognise the difference between the bright, noisy day, and dark hushed night.

For settling your baby, I cannot recommend this advice enough. We also used a hot water bottle to warm the moses basket before placing Connie into it. White noise is also your best friend. There are white noise apps available which we used regularly, along with the hairdryer!

Make sure you’re clued up on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You’ll find everything you need to know on The Lullaby Trust website

The long nights can get very lonely and overwhelming. Remember that everything seems better in the daylight.

SUPPORT
If you’ve attended any ante natal groups and classes and have met new mums to be, try and suggest setting up a Facebook group so you can all keep in touch. It’s invaluable to have an instant support network of people who are going through almost exactly the same thing. I regularly posted questions in the middle of the night and got a response within minutes.

Ask your visitors to run errands, help with housework, bring meals etc. Play to their strengths and you should have all bases covered.

And finally, a few things I was grateful for…
Comfy loungewear – treat yourself to some nice pyjamas and a dressing gown for home rather than the hospital – something you don’t mind visitors seeing you in.

A baby swing/ bouncy chair to give you 5 minutes in the shower when your partner has returned to work.

A minimal make up bag and speedy way to style your hair.

A repertoire of songs you can sing to your baby – 10 green bottles is always a good starting point.

So readers, do you have any advice to share that got you through those newborn days?

Love,
Becky
x

PS Some of Becky’s previous posts:

The Last Taboo

Last month there was a flurry of baby announcements in my circles, (4 ladies bearing good news, including one set of twins!) after a bumper baby year in 2012. Although often when one hears of a friend expecting it’s wonderful news but not a surprise, amongst the growing number of professional women I know (and readers here,) and pressure to live life to the full these days, it seems more the fashion to be ‘not ready yet’ (as I have heard from so many of you here,) making baby announcements are all the more surprising and unexpected. As we all grow older it’s inevitable that many of us will start to change our feelings towards starting a family and it’s got me thinking, are the least heard words (around the dinner party table, in the blogosphere, between friends even,) ‘we’re trying‘?


Image Credit

Deciding to try for a baby is an intensely personal thing, there may be doubts, wobbles, high hopes, disappointments and surprises along the way, but it’s a stage we all go through, and one that more than likely we go through at the same time as our friends, so why do we keep it secret?

Is it the very real fear that there may not be an end in sight – after all, nobody really knows what will happen until they try… do we want to spare ourselves the gut-aching reminder of another month’s failure when a friend asks if there’s any news, or is it the fear of over sharing and that too-much-information factor of knowing the inevitable result of your friends contraceptive choices hitting the bin?! Perhaps we want to dodge enquiring glances from aunts, cousins, even the nice lady next door?

I can see the appeal of a secret, after all, what could be more special (apart from perhaps that elusive positive test,) than taking a giant leap into the unknown, hand tightly holding the one person who will experience it so acutely with you. And should the worst happen, by keeping the problem between the two of you, no-one has to fear idle gossip about who is the ‘responsible’ party.

I wonder though, is it not easier to have it out in the open? To have a reason to decline that second glass of wine, or not know what your plans are in 6 months time? To have someone to talk to if things are not happening as you expected, someone outside your marriage where tensions and expectations may be high? Perhaps it is my medical background coming to the fore. I see women at all stages of motherhood from contraception to pre-conception, through sub-fertility to conception and talk about it openly. Whatever the news, whether it be a got-it-in-one result or months of nothing happening, I’m never surprised and that naturally extends to my personal life. All of that said, if the time were to come, I doubt I could be so honest here as to share something that remains very much the unknown. Maybe people do share these things with their closest friends and I just haven’t yet been privvy to such an exciting development in my friends lives?

So today I thought I would turn it over to you guys. Would you, (or did you) tell a trusted friend that you were trying to get pregnant, or did you keep it secret? Would you do it differently in hindsight or do you have plans for what you will do when it’s your turn? Perhaps you have friends who handled it in an unexpected way?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS! As with all personal posts, please feel free to comment anonymously by using Anon or a made up name when filling in the comments box and a fake email address. If you have a Gravatar, remember, your Gravatar is attached to your email address not your name, so if you forget to use a fake email, your picture will still show, even if you use a fake name.

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