Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Welcome To The World, Willow Grace - A Birth Story

On Wednesday 20th July Allan and I walked into Ninewells Hospital in Dundee with a suitcase and an appointment to have our second baby. It felt so strange not to be in labour, but this birth would be a total contrast to Sorsha's entrance only 14½ months earlier.

willow grace baby birth

For a number of reasons and after much discussion between ourselves and the experts we had chosen to have an elective c-section. This was definitely the right decision for us but still came with a set of concerns. What would it be like to have a section without the distraction of natural labour this time? Would the spinal pain relief be agony? How would I feel this time around? Would there be problems? Would she be rushed away like Sorsha was? Like last time I blocked out my worries and focused on one step at a time.

So here we were, in the hospital at 7:30am, waiting to find out when we'd be taken to the operating theatre. I had blood taken by the midwife the day before and had taken the tablets I had been given, one the night before and one in the morning before we left home. I had fasted since midnight and my parents were looking after Sorsha. Another couple arrived after us and we were told that because we were a straightforward case we would go before them but after the emergency sections. After a few more tests and conversations with the midwife, anaesthetist and surgeon, I was told to change into a gown and, a few hours after we arrived, we walked down to theatre!

Sticking to my "one step at a time" process and deep-breathing my way through everything I had a drip and catheter inserted, was hooked up to various machines and the time for the spinal had come. I had no reason to be worried! I have an average pain threshold I think, and I can honestly say that it wasn't that sore. They sprayed my back with a cold spray, gave me a small injection in the back to numb the pain, and the spinal was more pressure than pain. They gave it a few moments to work and double-checked it had taken effect before moving me into position and beginning surgery.

Allan was by my side the whole time, talking to me and giving me updates at one side of the screen and watching the gory bit at the other! About an hour later Willow was born and they lifted her above the screen to show me! I remember seeing this tiny grey skinned baby covered in bright red blood and I started crying. Our baby was here and she was fine! The told me they'd clean her up, stitch me back together and we'd get skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible. What a relief!

True to their word Willow was passed to me as soon as I went to the recovery room and they even got me started with breastfeeding! I was wheeled to the ward with our baby in my arms lying next to me and I couldn't believe how different this birth was to Sorsha's.

willow grace birth mum

I had lost a lot of blood during the surgery but luckily they were able to encourage my body to produce more through a drip rather than have a transfusion.

Mum and Dad came to visit that afternoon and we introduced Sorsha to her little sister. Allan stayed with me until evening. Throughout the night I continued to try and feed Willow, stay hydrated and nap, but maternity wards are not an easy place to sleep! As always the midwives were on hand to help and by morning everything was looking good. Allan arrived mid-morning and I was asked if we wanted to leave that day, so by mid-afternoon we were home!

Maybe I have rose-tinted spectacles because of the contrast to Sorsha's birth or the relief that it was nowhere near as bad as I had thought it might be, but I'm so grateful to everyone at Ninewells. The whole way through everyone had been so helpful and reassuring, I felt in such safe hands. Considering they go through roughly the same thing day in, day out they never made it feel routine. The surgeon did such an amazing job, even removing some hard scar tissue from my previous scar. I have healed fantastically and feel so much better, so much quicker than last time. Afterwards Willow was jaundiced and lost a lot of birth weight which was hugely worrying, but she was monitored and with a few adjustments she's back to full health. I'm so glad to have two beautiful, healthy little girls who'll grow up together and hopefully be the best of friends!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Review: Jamie's Italian Restaurant, Aberdeen

Jamie's Italian isn't a new restaurant to Aberdeen, it's been open since 2013, but it's another one of those restaurants that I've wanted to try but never have. I was excited about going here for lunch for my birthday not long after it opened, but it was fully booked and I never quite made it back, until now!

Jamie's Italian Aberdeen chopping board

Jamie's recently launched a new super lunch menu, so I went along with Sorsha and my sister to try it out. The restaurant has a really nice atmosphere, we were made to feel very welcome and the team there couldn't have been nicer. We were seated by a nice big window and Sorsha was given a funky high chair. Surprisingly, in a lot of restaurants, the high chair doesn't actually meet the table properly, so it was nice to have her at our level! It also saves a lot of mess!

Jamie's Italian Restaurant Aberdeen interior

 Luckily we arrived at a quieter time so I didn't feel weird taking photos of everything!

Jamie's Italian Aberdeen interior

First up, we got some drinks in. I was still pregnant at the time and my sister was working so no booze for us *sad face* but the mocktail I had was delicious!

Jamie's Italian mocktail

My sister is a veggie too, so we ended up ordering exactly the same thing while Sorsha had her first kids meal all of her own in a restaurant!

Jamie's Italian Happy Chicken Lollipops

Here she is munching away at her Happy Chicken Lollipops! It comes with "hedgehog" potatoes and a nice little salad tub. It was really nicely presented and everything was in manageable sizes for her.

My sister and I opted for Jamie's Spring Ribollita which is a chunky soup with cannellini beans and spring greens that came with focaccia. It felt a bit odd eating soup in the summer but it was nice and light for a starter.

Jamie's Italian Spring Ribollita

Next up we both went for Spaghetti Primavera with garlic pesto, peas and green beans and it was really nice and summery and fresh. Again it was quite light but filling so was ideal for lunch, didn't want my sister falling asleep at her desk afterwards!

Jamie's Italian Spaghetti Primavera

Unfortunately my sister had to head back to work before dessert, but Sorsha and I shared the most delicious Baked White Chocolate Cheesecake covered in fresh raspberries and amaretti. I can't tell you how good this was! We were both very disappointed when the plate was empty!

Jamie's Italian Baked White Chocolate Cheesecake

We had a really nice time at Jamie's, it was great to catch up with my sister over good food in a nice atmosphere and the team did everything they could to make us feel at home and keep Sorsha entertained!

The Super Lunch menu is great value at £10.95 for two dishes or £12.95 for three courses and the fact that the food was so fresh and tasty for that price is amazing! Sorsha's meal was £6.50 including a drink but, to celebrate the launch of Jamie's new cookbook Super Food Family Classics, kids eat free for the whole of August! Take a look at Jamie's website for full details and conditions etc.

This post was written in collaboration with Jamie's Italian Restaurant, Aberdeen

Monday, 18 July 2016

Review: Jim Jams Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

I must admit that I struggle to come up with breakfast ideas for Sorsha. Most of the time I could live on toast or whatever cereal there is in the cupboard, but I feel I have to make a better effort to introduce new and varied choices for her. I try not to spoil her with sweet treats either, most days she has cereal, yogurt, fruit, that kind of thing, but at the weekends I try to make it a bit more exciting with waffles or pancakes. That's where Jim Jams hazelnut chocolate spread comes in!

jim jams hazelnut chocolate spread on toast

Jim Jams' range of jams and spreads came from the same place, a parent's desire to give their children a tasty treat without all the added sugar. Not only has it less sugar but also reduced fat cocoa, so it's better for kids, diabetics, low-calorie diets and it's gluten-free.

jim jams hazelnut chocolate spread and toast

But what about the taste? Well I can tell you it is delicious and very moreish! Allan and Sorsha both loved it too so it gets a definite thumbs up from this household!

This post was written in collaboration with Jim Jams

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Review: Lunch At The Adelphi Kitchen

I recently went along to a blogger's lunch at The Adelphi Kitchen in Aberdeen and jumped at the chance. I had tried a few times to eat there when it was La Stella and hadn't quite managed, usually because it was so busy, but I had dined at their sister restaurant The Courtyard and loved it.

The Adelphi Kitchen window

When it became The Adelphi Kitchen it was heavily advertised as a meat and seafood restaurant, so as a vegetarian it didn't appeal to me at all! Instagram and Facebook filled with posts from my friends about how great it was but I couldn't see anything for me.

I was assured that veggie options were available so I made my way there.  First impressions were that this place looked fantastic!

the adelphi kitchen exterior

All that reclaimed wood and shades of grey extended inside too, although the bathroom was my fave!

the adelphi kitchen interior decor

But all that fancy decor don't mean a thing unless the food is good, and I can tell you it is!

the adelphi kitchen food macaroni cocktail menu cheese pastry roll

We tried a variety of dishes but the main veggie ones are the Liberty Mac 'n' 3 Cheese and the delicious Cheese & Mustard Puff Pastry Roll which I preferred. Most of the desserts are veggie-friendly too, and it seems I was too busy eating them to take any photos, but the lemon meringue was my pick!

I'm so glad we were invited to The Adelphi Kitchen even just to prove me wrong, it is suitable for the vegetarians among us and with its relaxed atmosphere, attentive staff and great food I hope to be back soon.

This post was written in collaboration with The Adelphi Kitchen

Monday, 11 July 2016

Life: An Update

Just now it feels like so much is happening and I don't have time to do much, but really it's only a few big things happening and they're taking up my time!

Tiny Bird Heart - Life An Update, flowers, view, summer,

The main thing (if you didn't know already!) is that in less than two weeks I'm due to give birth to our second baby! That's a pretty big thing right?! In general I feel pretty good for this late stage, but as with last time (and probably a lot of mums) being comfortable can be difficult, especially when I'm trying to sleep, and I'm just a waddling lump that can't really move quickly or bend to pick things up or breathe easily!

I'm looking forward to the baby arriving of course, and I can't wait to see how Sorsha is with her little sister. I'm having a planned c-section for a number of reasons, so it should be quicker and easier unless the baby has other ideas and makes an early appearance! Allan is off for two weeks and my parents are staying with us for a week, my sister for another, so there'll be plenty of hands on deck til we get settled.

tiny bird heart life an update baby bump family

My only real concerns are that everything goes smoothly and that I'm prepared and can cope when everyone goes back home and I'm left with two kids on my own! But I will cope, I have to!

tiny bird heart life an update new black kitten shadow

Our other new addition is Shadow, a tiny black kitten which has joined the family a few days ago. Shadow is from the same family that Jack and Meg were from and is settling in well after the initial introductions to the other cats. Sorsha loves him and tries to to give him cuddles although he's not a fan!

The other thing that has kept me busy during my maternity leave is a little bit of studying. I decided to undertake a course in Make-Up Artistry and passed it last week with distinction, which I'm pretty chuffed about!

The plan is that once I have recovered from my c-section I can spend some time on myself and getting back to a me that I'm happy with. I feel like I've been pregnant constantly for ages (when it's really only 18 months out of the last 3 years!) and I'm looking forward to getting back into shape, getting my hair done, sorting out my wardrobe and generally feel good! So I've started with my make up, and completing the course is really just a way of improving my skills for myself, rather than a new career path or anything.

So that's what I've been up to lately! I have a few posts to write over the next week or so and hopefully you'll be reading all about our birth announcement and story, then about my road to self improvement afterwards!

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Mummy Tag

Happy Monday! Hope you're all well and raring to go! Bumpy was giving me back and groin pains so I'm up early blogging on the joys of being a mummy, as tagged by Michelle at Mummy Mimi!

1. Are you a stay at home or working Mum?
I’m a stay at home mum at the moment as I'm on maternity leave with baby number 2! I went back to work full-time after having Sorsha but I'm unsure if I'll be going back this time.

2. Best part of being a Mum?
Watching your child develop and learn and grow every day. It's amazing! The tiniest little things make you so proud as they go they go from this tiny helpless baby into a small person!

3. Would you have it any other way?
No. I'm not saying I wouldn't love to have more freedom and money to travel or buy things, but the life and family that Allan and I are building is pretty much perfect!

4. Do you co-sleep?
No, the only time we have is when Sorsha was breast-feeding during the night and I've nodded off!

5. My newborn must have? 
Definitely a bouncer! It took a lot of work and fuss out of nap-times and she learnt to hold her own bottles from a very early age whilst sitting in hers!

6. How many kids do you plan on having?
Just the two, I'm done after this one! I think two is a manageable number for us and, after spending the majority of the last 3 years being pregnant, I'm looking forward to getting back in shape and wearing "normal" clothes again!

7. Date Night? How often?
We don't really do "date night" as such at the moment, but if the opportunity arises and we have family available to babysit then we'll go out for a meal, just the two of us. We stay quite far from everyone so it's not that simple, we'll have family nights instead!

8. What’s your child’s favourite show?
Sorsha only really watches CBeebies or Tiny Pop sometimes, so it's probably Bing. She loves dancing to the shapes song in Mister Maker though!

9. What’s 1 thing you bought for your newborn and never used?
We didn't go wild when we bought things for Sorsha and we only bought the bare minimum. There are a lot of things available that you just don't need, and although most might make life easier, lots of them don't! For example, we were given a nappy bin but just put them in the actual bin, and we bought a bath seat, but it was easier to wash Sorsha in the sink!

10. Child’s favourite food?
Sorsha goes wild for any kind of fruit, and she loves cheese!

11. How many cars does your family have?
We have two cars and because we live in the country we need to be able to get out and about while Allan is away at work. I'd go a bit mad being stuck in the house all day!

12. Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now?
This is a difficult one as I wasn't back to my usual weight before I became pregnant this time! My pre-babies weight was about 9 stone, I got back to about 10 stone I think and now I'm about 12½ stone at 8 months pregnant.

13. What’s your dream family holiday?
I'd love to take the kids on more cultural, worldwide holidays when they're older but for now that'd be a waste of money so I'd settle for some fun activities and sunshine. Sorsha loves animals so somewhere with a zoo would be good!

14. Dream holiday without kids?
Somewhere tranquil where cocktails and food are free-flowing and I can just relax with a good book in the sun, go to the spa or swim in clear, cool water. Maybe the Maldives or somewhere similar.

15. How has life changed since having kids?
Pretty much everything changes when you have kids, from when you wake up, what you eat, how you plan your day, everything! But it's never boring and makes you appreciate the important things in life more.

16. Finish the sentence. It makes me melt when…
I see Sorsha's face first thing in the morning and she's so happy to see me and gives me the biggest cuddles!

17. Where do I shop for my kids?
Most of Sorsha's clothes are gifts at the moment, so we just buy essentials like vests from supermarkets or shop in the sales in Next, H&M, Tesco, Asda for clothes.

18. What’s your favourite makeup and skincare?
I'm currently working my way through my collection of half bottles and pots of everything! At the moment I'm using DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and The Body Shop Oils Of Life drops with a Nivea toner and Clinique moisturiser and that seems to be working well for my dry skin (which is usually oily/combintion in non-pregnancy!).

I'm going for a healthy glow with my make up and using Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation (again this has all changed because my skin type has shifted!) then mainly just doing brows and lip balm on lazy days. I've recently been buying more NYX and Inglot products as I work on my look more!

19. Huggies or Pampers?
Neither. If we're using disposables we've always used Tesco nappies and wipes, but we normally use reusable nappies from Bambooty and reusable wipes from Little Lamb.

20. Have you always wanted kids?
No, not really, but when I met Allan I knew that this was the man that I wanted to have a life and a family with and I hadn't really felt that before. It must be love!

I'm tagging in Katey from Katey Lewis, Sarah from Forget Me Knit and Leanne from A Slice Of My Life...Wales. I look forward to reading your answers!

Friday, 1 July 2016

A Little (Work)Space Of My Own

Ever since we moved into the cottage 7 months ago I've yearned for a space of my own, somewhere I could sit comfortably and blog or potter about online away from distraction. Unfortunately it's taken that long to organise myself but I've finally done it, created my own little workspace!

It's nothing fancy but it's all mine! It's a temporary measure until we figure out something more permanent, but that'll take time and this suits me fine for now. It's comfy with a good view of the garden and plenty of daylight.

And the best thing is that it was a bargain! Because of the shape of the window I needed a desk which was no more than a metre wide and I was struggling to find one online. I wanted a little bit of storage and even Gumtree wasn't coming up trumps, so I thought I'd try to find second-hand furniture shops in my area. Third time lucky, I visited the British Red Cross and found this one for £15!

Did you know the British Red Cross do a loyalty card? I didn't. I'm a sucker for these things so I signed up and was told I get 20% off my first purchase so my desk was only £12! What a bargain! The card builds up points when you make purchases and they can be converted into money-off vouchers or can be donated back, so it's all good.

The wicker chair was given to me by my Great Auntie and was looking a bit sad so I revamped it with some spray paint and new fabric and I'm pretty chuffed with myself!

So there you have it, a workspace on a budget! One day I'll have my Pinterest-worthy desk, but until then, this'll do just fine!

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Maira Gall