Two

Two. We were supposed to be done at two. I was supposed to be done at two.

Just moments after E was born, I scooped her up into my arms and looked across to my husband.

“I’m never doing that again. I’m done.” (To be fair, my fanny was still stinging.)

Hubby nodded. “Two is a good number.”

14 months on and I have that oh-so-familiar ache. I’m longing for another baby. I don’t feel done.

It’s impossible to ignore, believe me I have tried.

And I often think that this feeling will pass, eventually. When the girls are both older and life gets easier. When nappy changes and night feeds are but distant memories. Maybe I’ll just look back and think “those days were hard” and never want to put myself through it again.

But right now I cannot ignore my feelings.

Stephen and I both like the idea of having a big family but (being far more sensible than I am) he worries about the practicalities of having a third child. Space, money, effort. I do think about those things too but my ovaries chime in with “WE’D MAKE IT WORK, SOMEHOW!”

Is being broody enough of a reason to have a third baby?

Although, this feels like more than just broodiness. I’m not getting ‘clucky’ at the sight of a newborn. I’m thinking about growing our family every waking second of the day. This is all-consuming.

Even on the hardest days.

When the kids have spent the the entire day squabbling.

Or E’s kept me awake all night.

When I’m so tired that my head pounds.

I. still. want. another.

We were supposed to be done at two. I was supposed to be done at two.

Jenna xx

10 things nobody told me about breastfeeding

1. Nobody told me that… my periods could return whilst I was still breastfeeding.

I know that breastfeeding has lots of benefits for my baby but one of the perks for mama is that your period stops. AMAZING! I’d heard of ladies going years without a visit from ‘Aunt Flo’ due to breastfeeding their babies/toddlers. Naively, I just assumed I’d be free from periods for as long as I was feeding E. Nope, at 8.5 months post-partum my monthly cycles returned! Gutted.

2. Nobody told me that… breastfeeding can be a little isolating.

0.5% of mums are still breastfeeding their babies at 12 months (in the UK) and whilst I truly am proud to be one of them, it sometimes feels quite isolating to be the only breastfeeding mum in the room. Don’t get me wrong, nobody has ever said anything negative (see point 5) but it would be nice to be able to discuss the trials and tribulations of feeding a toddler with somebody else who is also going through it.

3. Nobody told me that… some babies will only drink their milk from the source!

I thought the odd night out with my friends would still be possible whilst breastfeeding. I’d just express some milk and my husband could feed her using a bottle. Simple, no?

Except E won’t drink milk from a bottle, or a beaker, or a cup with straw, or from a silver chalice encrusted with rare diamonds. Nope. She’ll only drink her milk from the source.

I’ll be honest, and no pun intended, that kinda sucks.

I’d love to go on a night out with my friends once in a while. Or spend more one-on-one time with my eldest girl. But having a baby who requires boob on demand has made those things difficult.

4. Nobody told me that… I’d sometimes feel envious of formula feeding mamas.

Due to the combination of points 2 and 3, I do sometimes look at formula feeding mums and feel a tad envious.

14 months of…

…being the only person who is able to do night feeds (and fyi they’re still happening 3-4 times a night).

…not having a date night with my husband.

…or a evening out with friends.

…or having more than a few freakin’ hours to myself.

So yeah, for purely selfish reasons, I sometimes wish I didn’t breastfeed.

5. Nobody told me that…I don’t *need* an array of expensive breastfeeding clothes.

Breastfeeding clothes are expensive and (generally) pretty darn ugly. However, I thought without a wardrobe full of nursing clothes I’d struggle to feed my bambino in public without flashing my breasticles to all and sundry.

Not the case. Admittedly, I am a ‘t-shirt and jeans’ kinda girl so my outfit choices are relatively simple. But I’ve never had any trouble feeding my daughter whilst wearing my normal clothes. My advice? Invest your money in some good (non-wired) nursing bras as these do make feeding easier and help you to avoid getting blocked milk ducts.

6. Nobody told me that…. generally, other people are very supportive.

In the real early days I was nervous about breastfeeding in public. I’d heard so many stories about women being asked to leave shops and restaurants because they were breastfeeding (even though that’s totally bloody illegal). I’d heard tale of people, tutting and making rude remarks towards women who were simply trying to feed their baby. And I’m not saying that stuff doesn’t happen, because clearly it does, but in the 14 months I’ve been breastfeeding I’ve never experienced any negativity.

Instead I’ve found that, on the whole, people are very supportive of breastfeeding mums. I’ve had people bring me over hot drinks and glasses of water. Or help entertain my toddler whilst I wrestled with my hungry baby. I’ve had other mums (breastfeeding and formula feeding alike) cheer me on and tell me how well I’ve done.

There will always be those who disapprove of breastfeeding in public, but they are few and far between. Just remember, everybody else has got your back. :)

7. Nobody told me… not to bother with a cot!

Co-sleeping is, of course, a personal choice. But in my experience, when you’re exclusively breastfeeding, having bub in the same bed as you makes night feeds SO. MUCH. EASIER.

I mean, you don’t have to get up and go make a bottle… so why get out of bed at all?!

After several months of E’s cot gathering dust in our room, I sold it and used the money to buy a bed guard instead.

8. Nobody told me… I’d regularly ‘touch up’ my own breasts in public.

Let me tell you an easy way of spotting a breastfeeding mum in a room. She’s usually feeling up her own boobs.

Keeping track of which breast you last fed your baby from is tricky – especially if you’re feeling hazy from night feeds or busy looking after your older children. So, the easiest method to know which breast to feed from next is to give them a good ol’ squeeze. One will be soft and squidgy, the other will have rock-like characteristics. Feed from the rock-like boob.

9. Nobody told me that… I’d become a human punchbag

Breastfeeding is often portrayed as this calm and relaxing bonding time between mum and baby. And sometimes it is.

The rest of the time I’m having my hair pulled, or being slapped, punched, kicked and pinched and on the odd occasion, bitten.

All I’m saying is, it’s a good job I love you, kiddo.

10. Nobody has ever told me… how to stop.

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve reached our 14 month breastfeeding milestone. I honestly never thought we’d get this far, or even planned to breastfeed for this long.

The main reason I’m still going? I don’t know how to stop.

This was never covered in my breastfeeding classes and at the time it wasn’t something I thought to ask about.

I’ve Googled it, of course, many times. But I’ve yet to find any useful information on the best way of stopping breastfeeding. Most websites make you feel guilty for wanting to stop (useful, thanks) and others give very vague ‘advice’. “Just drop a feed each week…” If only it were that simple.

Is there anything you wish you’d been told about breastfeeding?

Jenna xx

Until recently I never knew that altruistic egg donation was a ‘thing’. The act of donating some of your eggs to somebody/a couple, in order for them to have the fertility treatment they need to conceive a much-longed-for child.

Donating to give them hope.

Donating to give them a chance.

Not for any financial gain.

Or in return for something else.

Donating because it’s a kind, selfless thing to do.

I’ve been following the story of Jules and Amber over on Channel Mum (Amber has donated her eggs to Jules, who is currently in her Two Week Wait after her embryo transfer!) And ever since I heard about Amber’s donation, I keep thinking about whether or not I, too, could donate my eggs.

Why?

I feel so lucky to have two beautiful daughters. My own journey to motherhood had it’s fair share of heartache and frustration (due to an early miscarriage and months and months of trying to conceive). And because of that, I often think of those who have been treading that path to parenthood for far longer than I had to. Years of hoping to see two lines on a test but instead facing fresh heartbreak each and every month. My story ends happily, with two healthy babies and for that I will be forever grateful. But without egg donation, there will be many who will never get to experience parenthood and that makes me so very sad. Surely then, donating my eggs is a no brainer?

Or is it?

I’ve been doing my homework, reading up on all things egg donation, and I do feel it’s something I want to do. But I’ll be honest, there are a few things holding me back. I love using my blog as a sounding board – a way of writing down all of my thoughts and feelings that go into making (what could potentially be) quite a big decision.

Here’s a few reasons why I’m not ready to go ahead with egg donation right now…

Time and travel involved: 

This is an aspect of egg donation I will have to look into more but from what I’ve read, there’s a fair bit of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ involved. There’s the initial screening process (which can involve several interviews, counselling and some medical tests), scans, egg retrieval – all involve travelling to a clinic. I don’t currently drive so depending on what clinic I use, it could take hours for me to travel to and from these appointments. As a stay-at-home-mum I’d have to consider how these appointments would fit around looking after my littles – who’d look after them? Who’d pick them up from nursery/school?

I’m sure other arrangements could be made to ensure the girls are looked after, so this isn’t a huge issue but definitely one that will require plenty of planning if I do go ahead with a egg donation cycle.

Oh and I should mention, that whilst there is no payment for egg donation in the UK (payment is illegal, in fact) there is compensation available of up to £750 per donation ‘cycle’ to cover costs (childcare, travel etc.)

I’m needle phobic:

This seems like such a silly issue when you remember that the end goal of all of this is to help somebody grow and carry a baby. But egg donation does require daily hormone injections (and then there’s the egg retrieval procedure too) so silly or not, I am scared of needles and it’s something I need to consider. I’m not as phobic about needles as I used to be. Regular blood tests, flu jabs and whooping cough vaccines through two pregnancies has meant I’ve had to get used to needles. That said, I’ve never had to self-administer drugs so I’m not sure how I’d fair with having to inject myself. Of course, the obvious solution is to make sure there’s somebody (i.e my hubby) on hand to do it for me. I’m sure he’d take great delight in jabbing me with needles daily! ;)

Egg donation is not as anonymous as I first thought:

The person/couple receiving your egg donation would only recieve non-identifying information about me. A little about why I wanted to donate my eggs perhaps and other background information such as my interests and education. Which, I’m sure, is really helpful to know when looking for a potential donor. I’d have no issues supplying this information.

But in the UK, at aged 18, donor-conceived people have the legal right to know who their donor is. (Source)

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this and for reasons I can’t fully explain, it’s probably the main reason I still have my reservations about going ahead with egg donation.

I guess, the thought of the my donated-egg-conceived child turning up at my door 18 years from now, seems a little scary. Although, I doubt that rarely happens to people – if ever?!

I’m definitely going to do more research and from that make an informed decision.

In the meantime I’d love to hear if you have ever donated your eggs? Or received them? What was your experience like?

Or, would you consider egg donation yourself?

Jenna xx

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Life Lately: Elowen turns one, putting down roots and school applications…

Oh my goodness, it seems like such a long time since I did a ‘catch up’ kind of post on this here blog of mine. Even though I’ve massively stepped back from blogging (due to lack of time, mainly), this evening I’ve had the writing itch. In years to come, when I sit down and look through my blog, I’ll wonder what the heck I was up to during the massive gap between my posts. It’s also quite nice to have a bit of ‘brain dump’ every now and again, isn’t it?

So in no particular order, here’s what been happening in my life lately…

Elowen turned one:

My littlest lady celebrated her first birthday last month and it’s felt like the fastest year of my life. I did a cake smash photoshoot in our back garden which was a bit of a disaster, to be honest. The wind kept blowing my decorations down, it started to rain and Elowen was more interested in throwing her cake on the floor for the dog to eat. Now I know why people pay a lot of money for cake smash photo shoot sessions with a professional photographer! ;)

Shortly after her first birthday, E began taking her first wobbly independent steps. And now, just a few weeks later, she’s a bonafide toddler, stomping around all over the place.

E’s determination to grow up at a million miles an hour has left me feeling ridiculously broody. I keep thinking I want another baby (or 10?) but I’m sure the feeling will pass!

Settling into our new home/town:

We’ve been in our new house for over six months and I feel like we’re relatively settled here now and we’ve adapted to the changes – Stephen working from home, Jasmine going to a new preschool, etc. etc.

Stephen working from home is tricky at times – especially as he often spends a lot of the time on conference calls with clients – as you can imagine, a one year old and 3.5 year old make a LOT of noise. In the summer I would just take the kids out to the park when Stephen was on calls which made life easier. I still try to get us out of the house as much as possible but it’s much harder in the winter when the weather is bad.

I’ve found people here, other mums particularly, a lot friendlier. People weren’t unfriendly in Suffolk but those who lived in our old town had usually been born and bred there and were less fussed about making friends outside of their family/social circle. People didn’t really talk to each other. It’s different here. Whether I go to the park, playgroup or soft play, there’s always someone willing to have a chat – it’s made my life a lot less lonely.

We have a massive list of things that need doing to the house, a lot of which require a fair amount of time and money. It feels a bit overwhelming sometimes but I try to remember that we’re planning to live here for 10 years or so (at least whilst the girls are at primary school) so there’s plenty of time for us to get things done.

Our most recent project was the living room. The decor that we inherited when we moved in was not our style at all but because it was only cosmetic, it got put on the backburner. Until we got so fed up with the ugly wallpaper, we started tearing it off one evening! We repainted the walls, added photos and art to the walls, we (ahem, I) went a bit mad with fairy lights (I’m obsessed with fairy lights) and got a new dining table and chairs. It’s now one of my favourite rooms in the house. It still needs a few finishing touches but I’m really chuffed with how it’s turned out.

School application made:

Our primary school application for Jasmine has been made and I can hardly believe my big kid is starting school next September. *sob* We’re very lucky in that we’ve several ‘good’ primary schools in our catchment area so it was a case of visiting them and deciding which one we felt would be best suited for Jasmine. There were things we liked about all of the schools we visited and I’ve no worries about any of them but we do have our heart set on one in particular. Fingers crossed J gets a place there. :)

Back to education: 

In my last ‘life lately’ post, I talked about wanting to change careers and become a Doula. Well, I’m pleased to say that I start my NCT access course in January which is my first step on the ladder. It’s a 6 month course which will help me not only get back into education but also let me dip my toe in the water and decide if I want to continue on this career journey before making the big commitment of doing another degree.

Last month I met my tutors and fellow course mates at an ‘expression of interest day’ and I am SO excited to get started in the New Year. I am eager to learn and get stuck into something that’s just for me.

Looking forward to Christmas:

We are in full Christmas mode here and we’re loving the build up towards the holidays. I’ve already watched The Grinch (my fave festive movie) and cracked open the Baileys! ;) We’re having Christmas at home this year, with Stephen’s mum coming to visit, so it should be a relatively chilled one. That said, I’ve still got lots to do over the next week and a bit.

Jasmine wrote to Santa and asked for sparkly blue shoes like Elsa’s. They’re sorted (thank goodness for eBay). And I’ve ordered her main gift – a beautiful pink retro-style bike. I cannot wait to see her little face on Christmas day!

As for E, she’s a little trickier when it comes to gifts – she’s just had a birthday and doesn’t want/need anything if I’m honest. Let’s face it, she’s one, she’ll be happy enough playing with wrapping paper and cardboard boxes so I’m not going to sweat it on that one.

And on that note…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2018!

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Is it too soon to come off the drugs?

Around the midway point of my pregnancy with Elowen, I walked into my doctors office and announced I was depressed. I’d been here before, depression wasn’t new to me. And there was no doubt in my mind that I was suffering with depression again. I also knew that the cause of my depression was largely situational. I was a pregnant, stay-at-home to a mum to a toddler, who for 8 hours a day, most days of the week didn’t speak to another adult. I was living 100+ miles away from my friends and family and I was incredibly lonely.

When the doctor asked me what I wanted to do about my situation I knew I wanted drugs. I believe my exact words were “I know why I’m depressed, I know what I’ve got to do to fix it (relocate back to Bristol) but right now, I need something to get me through the day.” I left that appointment with a prescription for Sertraline. An anti-depressant which I would take every day “for a year or so”.

Sure enough, after the side effects of dizziness and sweating died down, Sertraline got me through the day. I stopped crying all the time. I enjoyed being a mum again. I looked forward to having two children instead of dreading it. I felt like I could cope. But also, aside from the meds, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We were going to be moving back to my hometown.

We put our house on the market over Christmas and by April this year we were in our new home, located a short drive away from my closest friends. I’ve had more of a social life in the last 3 months than I have the 3 years that preceded our move back home. I feel better connected and supported. Not just as a mother, but as a person.

Which beggars the question, is it time to come off the drugs?

I don’t think anybody plans to take medication for mental health long term. And in my mind, it was only ever meant to be a temporary measure until our situation changed. I want to be able to feel happy without my little box of pills.

And yet, I still feel reluctant to stop taking them.

Whilst it’s now been well over 6 months since I truly felt like I was in the depths of depression. Those thoughts and feelings are still fresh in my memory. How sad I felt. How useless I deemed myself to be. How sore my face felt was from all of the crying I did. I don’t want to go back to that. Ever.

For me, it’s just easier for my prescription to keep dropping through my letterbox every couple of weeks and to keep taking the pills daily. Safe in the knowledge that they will keep those awful thoughts and feelings at bay. The drugs have become a psychological crutch, which is precisely what didn’t want to happen.

I’ve yet to register with a doctor here but I know my medication is something I will need to talk about when I do, which is probably why I’ve been putting it off.

I don’t want to stay on anti-depressants forever. But is it too soon to stop?

 

Jenna xx

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