baby · fashion · parenting · personal · plus size

Black Cat Birthday On A Budget!

Hi All!

When I got my c-section date to have Eleanor, I wasn’t very pleased. They had scheduled it for Tuesday 13th, which meant that growing up some of her birthdays would fall on Friday 13th and being of Irish heritage, I can be quite superstitious. In the end though, I didn’t really care what the date was as long as she came healthy.

As her second birthday approached, It was evident that this would fall on a Friday the 13th. Rather than dreading this day, I decided to embrace this by throwing Eleanor a black cat party!

When I sat down to plan the party I decided that because she had a christening/birthday the previous year that I would throw her a proper party this year and invite her friends along. I was lucky enough to have a great venue available and soon made plans on how I was going to make her day special.

Her party was going to be held in St Lukes Church, which is the church I attend and where I hold our baby music class Wriggle & Rhyme. I thought about how I could decorate the space and soon found out that “Black Cats” isn’t a massively popular theme and I struggled to find anything that would actually go.

Thankfully, I’m quite crafty and set about making my own decorations. I made cat face shaped bunting, cat face paper fans, decorated black plates and cups with cat faces and other bits I went for black/white/gold and polka dots.

I managed to buy polka dot straws, white/black/gold tassel bunting and polka dot table covers from eBay and found some gold Happy Birthday balloons from New Look. I even got black, white and gold balloons for the floor for the kids to play with from card factory but unfortunately these were the WORST balloons ever and most of them popped the night before as we were setting up the space!

My last little touch was some cat faced pumpkins I found in ALDI! These sat at each end of the table (and we got to re-use them for Halloween!)

For the food we catered ourselves and did most the night before and some fresh on the morning. We did four types of sandwiches, sausage/cheese rolls, chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken and some other party style food which we purchased from Iceland. We saved quite a lot of money doing this and we got quite a lot of compliments on the food.

For Eleanor’s cake I decided to make it myself. I’m quite a good cake baker and knew I wanted to keep it simple. I made her a devils food cake (ironic that we were in the church..) and then vanilla cupcakes.

I made this cake topper from glittered paper by cutting out two identical cat faces, then using a craft scalpel to cut out the letters and then glutted the two layers together and attached it to cocktail sticks.

I also made different shaped cat toppers for the cupcakes. I used a cookie cutter as my stencil and then cut them out by hand. I finished them with a cocktail stick so they would sit neatly into the cupcakes.

The cakes then sat around the main cake on a separate table which I sprinkled with handmade confetti. The confetti was made from the leftover scraps of glitter paper which I cut out with a heart hole punch. 

Eleanor loved her cake. Here she is blowing out the candles with daddy!

 

We went with a “cat dress optional” theme and some people did, some didn’t. We attempted to draw little whiskers on Eleanors face but they were mostly off by the end of the day. She wore a sparkly black velvet dress, tights and a fluffy cropped cardigan.

I of course dressed the part and decided to wear the cat whiskers that Eleanor refused to.

For my outfit I went with a lace top over a strappy vest tucked into a fluffy tulle skirt. I finished the look with some gold cat ears that I made from leftover glitter paper.

For the entertainment my mum kindly booked a bouncy castle which we set up in an adjoining room which was great as it meant we could contain the kids in one area whilst we set up and unwrapped the food. The bouncy castle also had a slide which the kids seemed to love. I set up a spotify playlist and linked it to a docking station I have and let the kids listen whilst they bounced. We then went back into the hall and we had set up lights and projected “Happy Birthday” onto the wall.

For games we had a few round of pass the parcel. I wrapped up some mini plushy toys and some sticker books with sweets in between each layer and made sure every kid won something. We then finished with a disco and cake!

Considering we did it on a budget we had a fantastic day and we got loads of compliments on the decor, the cakes and the food. We were even asked by some kids if they could come next year which was a huge compliment. The biggest reward was seeing Eleanor really enjoy herself – she loved it!

If you’re willing to do things yourself and put the work in you can achieve a lot on a small budget. If you’d rather buy things and hire people in, that’s also great but I didn’t want to throw money away at a party she probably won’t remember when she’s older!

Now I’ve got to start planning for next year, I wonder what weird and wonderful party that will be! Or maybe I’ll do a quiet family meal and give myself a little break.

Who knows.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah xx

 

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fashion · personal · plus size · wedding

Plus Size Wedding Prep. Spend VS Save

Hi all!

I’ve always been one who loves to try to do things herself, especially when there’s some money to be saved. However, I do feel that sometimes it’s nice to have somebody else do things and leave the stress to them.

In August I attended two weddings. One was my brother Shaun and his now wife Anna, and one was a work friend of Adams. I’ll admit I was shocked I was invited to the full event with me not actually meeting his friend or the bride, but I was grateful to be asked along and happily attended as Adams plus one.

Before the weddings I was having a conversation with my cousin about just how much weddings cost and you don’t realise how much you pay out just as a guest. This set something off in my mind and I thought I would challenge myself to do an old vs new. So, for one wedding I would get my hair/makeup/nails etc done and buy a whole new outfit and then for the other I would do my hair and makeup myself and shop my own wardrobe for a dress!

Now I know personally which look I preferred, and I know which got the most comments etc on the day, but please do let me know below which look you preferred first!

Wedding one – Spend!
Of course I chose my brothers wedding to be the one I splashed out on. I did this for a few reasons. My mum was also getting her hair/makeup done, I had Eleanor to consider so had less time to get ready and I wanted to look my best for my brother.

 

My dress was from Little Mistress via ASOS and originally £62, however I did get it on sale and then used ASOS vouchers I had saved up. I wore my fave flatforms (also ASOS) and carried a beautiful beaded bag with chandelier style beading hanging from it.

 

I loved this dress as it was modest, but not too covered. It was incredibly soft and comfortable and very much “my” style. The tulle straps and top of the dress were my favourite and I felt very girly and ethereal throughout the day.

My makeup was done by an old friend from college who decided to re-train as a MUA. I chose her because I found her makeup style to be very natural but still with an impact. I went for a smokey eye, strong brow and pinky/nude lip and quite honestly loved the look.

My hair on the other hand wasn’t what I asked for, and this is after asking for it to be changed. I had originally asked for a beehive style front, with braiding around the sides into the back and then the hair in a chignon. Instead she fish braided my hair using plastic hair ties and then tucked the bottom up in a weird bulky bun. I didn’t like this at all and asked for it to be changed, but didn’t have time to change the full thing as she was already running 40 minutes behind and I was late for the MUA. My mum actually had to leave me at the hairdressers and get her makeup done first as it was taking so long.
I asked for the plait to be changed more like a bun and the lady did this which I did like more but still wasn’t what I had in mind. Still, it looked pretty and went with the flowers I’d bought to pop in (again from ASOS). Untangling it and those plastic ties however – wasn’t very fun!

 

Some more snaps from the day! It was such a beautiful day and so special. I was so glad to spend it with the people I love and felt confident and happy in my outfit choice.

Wedding two – Save!

The second wedding we went to was a friend of Adams. I was actually quite surprised to be invited to the whole event as I’d not met the bride or groom, but thankful to be going along as Adams plus one all the same. I actually ended up getting to know some really wonderful people who were all so kind and complimentary and I had a really great time. So if you’re reading this Kieran & Aimee, thank you for having me – I had a blast!

For this wedding I decided to go for the save option and did my own hair and makeup and dug out a dress from the back of my wardrobe. I borrowed a handbag from my mum and popped on my nude flatforms (ASOS).

 

The dress is one I’ve had for quite a long time. It’s the Collectif Dolores Doll dress in White Hibiscus print. This one has long sold but you can find similar here. I love the way a the dolores dresses nip you in at the right places and flare out just enough. I actually swapped this dress with another blogger a few years back so didn’t actually “pay” for it. Clothes swaps are a great way to freshen up your wardrobe without spending money but whilst also having a good clear out! Win win win!

For my makeup I went for a more understated look. I went for full coverage matte foundation, light pink blush, a smokey eye with cat flick and a dark nude lip. Oh and as always – a strong brow.

Again with my hair I wanted to give a nod to the vintage vibe of the dress and so curled my already short bette bangs under and pinned the sides back away from my face. I did this both so I didn’t get too warm and also to add some volume. I let the rest of my hair hang down my back and finished it with some pretty cream clips.

      

As I said previously, I had such a good time at this wedding. It was a beautiful day with an intimate ceremony then on to a stunning venue for the rest of the day/night and I felt comfortable in both settings in my outfit choice. My dress wore well and I felt confident all day!

Both days were both wonderful and I felt great in both outfits and got a lot of compliments. I think for me it was good to see that I could shop my wardrobe as needed and give an old dress a new outing.

Either way, I don’t think it would of mattered what I wore (within reason). The day wasn’t about me – it was about those two couples dedicating their love to each other and standing up in front of their friends and family and saying that this is the person I want to spend every day with for the rest of my life. And really, even Collectif dresses aren’t quite as beautiful as that.

Thanks for reading, let me know below which outfit you preferred!
Hannah xx

baby · parenting · personal · plus size

Whats the t?

Hi all!

Once again, life has gotten in the way and has stopped me from blogging as much as I would like to.

The culprit this time? My laptop decided to stop working – but only the t key! This made typing incredibly awkward as I had to copy and paste every single time I wanted to use the t key. Very annoying.

Now I finally have a new laptop after there was an accident which ended up in the screen getting completely smashed – making it completely useless. Finally I can get back to blogging and hopefully keep up with it. I do love writing, but I think I second guess myself quite a lot and really it’s gone on the back burner since I’ve had a child. I think I get a sense of guilt if I’m just sitting behind a laptop and not really engaging with my child, but there’s ways I guess I can do both as she’s a very independent baby who is just happy to play!

Well, I keep saying baby but she’s almost 2 – how did that happen?!

I figured with this post I’d give you a little insight into where I am with my life at the moment. I’m in the weight loss management program and I’ve lost around a stone and a half so far, and 3 in total since last year. Currently going through all the steps to eventually have weight loss surgery which isn’t something I’ve decided on lightly. I hope that people understand I have no way been pressured into WLS by anybody and I don’t dislike the way that I look at all. I’m happy and confident as a plus sized woman and will genuinely sad to be smaller – however I am doing this for my health and so that in the future I can have another child. I certainly couldn’t do another pregnancy like the last one and I really want another child in a few years. I also want some quality of life. I have sleep apnea and honestly I’m just so sick of being tired – which is another reason I’ve stopped blogging as much.

This summer I’ve been super busy helping out at lunch club at church. Lunch club is a thing my church runs where we invite the local kids into the church for a hot meal over the holidays to take some of the extra financial burden off families in the area. It’s also a great way to see all the kids and to do things like crafts with them and we’ve even had great fun with mini discos.

I also arranged and ran a fundraising summer fayre within the church which raised £500 for our youth services. We were all so happy with this and we plan to raise another around Christmas.

Finally, I’ve been working with AWAYOUT to do crafts and outreach with the girls in the blossom project which I love. I finished my sponsored swim for them – all 1416 laps of the pool swam and really enjoyed my time doing it.

Another big difference in my life is that for the past few months I’ve made a really amazing group of friends and we have been hanging out and having play dates as well as baby free nights. It’s so nice to be around other people who “get” you and who are on your wavelength. I almost feel like they’ve saved me a little bit and their support is really just so wonderful. I was slipping into pretty bad depression again but honestly this group of women have helped me so much – I don’t know where I’d be without them. So a massive thank you and shout-out to Charlotte, Nikki, Sam, Steph & all our beautiful squad babies, I truly love you all.

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Now i’ve been able to upload all my pics to my new laptop I’ve got a few local reviews and pieces to post, and I’m on holiday at the end of this month so watch out for that! We’re off to (hopefully) sunny Ibiza with a toddler – wish us luck!

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to those who stick with me, comment on my posts, ask how I am on IG etc. It means a lot to know that people care. I know my posts are more and more sporadic but I really will make an effort to keep people update!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

 

fashion · music · plus size

Be Quiet – Dress Loud! Teesside music meets fat fashion.

Hi all!

When I was a lot younger I was a massive fan of the local teesside music scene and enjoyed going out to gigs and shows when possible. For me it died down a lot and I stopped going to as many local shows as bands I followed tended to settle down, move away or just fizzle out.

One band I’ve followed now since my late teen years is Teesside’s finest funky electro synth tribe – Be Quiet! Shout Loud. I’ve always enjoyed them for their incredibly catchy, disco influenced toe tappers and I’ve made a firm friendship with their bassist who is lovingly known as “Big Dave”.

BQSL have been on a break lately whilst they broke in new Guitarist Jamie Donnelly. This hasn’t been the only lineup change however as keyboardist Chris has now upgraded to the keytar, which I thought was pretty cool when I saw them live. After a 7 month hiatus, I heard that the newly structured band were coming back to support another local band at their final show! I figured it would not be a show to miss and made sure I was going to be free.

I asked my friend Claire to come along with me as she is massively into the local music scene and is even a fantastic artist herself! She actually sang at Eleanor’s Christening as she is a vintage style singer and she’s just amazing. Claire came to mine for a few pre-drinks (ended up drinking gin in the car whilst Adam dropped us off as we’re so classy) and I’m so glad I did as I needed a little bit of liquid confidence with my outfit!

As ever, I tried numerous outfits on and eventually decided to go for something a bit more “edgy” as I was going to a gig.

I ended up in a mesh top from Boohoo (which actually comes with a dress), a skirt from New Look which I bought at Christmas (but is still available here in straight sizes – sadly sold out in plus in the black but there’s a few in red here).

The bra is from a two pack I bought online at Simply Be and I really liked how the lace looked against the mesh. It gave it a little “something” rather than being just plain.

On my feet I wore these super comfy flatforms I found on ASOS. I thought I best boost my height so I could see better at the gig! I’m not that great at wearing heels, or most shoes in general for long periods of time but these are so comfy I actually managed to stand in them all night with only a few rests between bands in the bar.

We arrived at The Georgian Theatre which has recently been renovated and I was majorly impressed with the new glass frontage and the general decor in the bar. It has a really cool industrial look and has long tables with benches as well as some smaller intimate tables. The first band Serinette were already partway through their set when we arrived and I wish we’d of gotten there sooner as I really enjoyed them.

Next up was the band I’d gone to see, BQSL. I made sure I was right up front as frontman Jake Radio always puts on a show with his endless dance moves.

BQSL came onto the stage to a great reception from the audience and began their set which was a mix of some of their old classics, new songs and even a pretty amazing cover of “You Spin Me Right Round” which was unexpected but well welcomed.

Also keen to put on a good show was new guitarist Jamie who was full of energy and really looked like he was having a great time.

One thing I really enjoyed with the retro synth notes coming from Chris on the “Keytar”. I’ve never actually seen one in person and thought it was actually really interesting and it gave a different dynamic than a keyboard. I was enjoying seeing all the band dancing and actually enjoying making music, and to me BQSL have always been a band I’ve enjoyed visually.

He’s Dave, a man after my own heart on bass. In case you didn’t know I actually played bass for most of my teenage years and loved it. Sadly that fizzled out and I never really got the chance to play when I started working etc. I have been thinking lately how much I would love to be in a band making music again but I can’t see that happening anytime soon with the other things I have going on in my life!

  

The show seemed to be over in five minutes as every song flowed effortlessly with a bit of chat and banter from Jake in between. Me and Claire took it in turns to hit the bar and soon we were merry on cherry rum and tiki rum which we didn’t realise was 70% proof – oops!

We of course took some time out between bands to take some selfies!

We bobbed in and out for the last band The Purnells and also spent some time in the bar before calling it a night after all the acts. We both thoroughly enjoyed the evening but knowing I was on mum duty the next day I didn’t want to make it too late of a night – too sensible for my own good!

I really enjoyed getting out and hearing some live music. I really want to get out into the Teesside music scene more often as there’s some serious talent around here and shows seem to be picking up and there is an actual scene again which if I’m honest, seemed to lag for a few years. My friend Claire always has her ear to the ground about great shows and so I have no doubt that we will be heading out again soon…so I best get finding something to wear!

BQSL are continuing their comeback with a gig at Scarborough Tattoo Show  so make sure to check them out if you’re heading up there, although they’re also working on something secret so keep an eye out on their Facebook.

Hannah x

baby · Community · fashion · parenting · plus size

Why I Want To Lose Weight.

 Hi all.

This post has been a difficult one for me to write for a number of reasons. First and foremost I don’t want to upset/offend or trigger anybody with weight loss chat. Secondly, I am losing weight because I personally need to and believe that what everybody else does with their bodies is their business. Thirdly, I don’t want anybody to think that I’m now against fat bodies. I will never be against fat bodies. If I could be well and still the size I am – I would be happy with that. Unfortunately, I’m not healthy and this means I need to lose weight.

When I was pregnant with Eleanor, I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and it was tracked that I stop breathing around 100 times an hour when I’m asleep which is super scary. It means that I never ever feel well rested and I drop off asleep through the day for a few minutes which isn’t great. It’s quite embarrassing when I drop off and I hate it. The only way to tackle it is to use a c-pap machine which I just can’t get the hang of or lose weight…so I’m choosing the latter.

I’ve battled with my weight for quite a long time now. I’ve gone through every stage of hating my body to the point of hiding away and self harming, to parading my beautiful body along a stage at a plus size beauty pageant – whilst wearing a bikini! I’m at a happy place with my body and how I look, but not with how it functions and if I’m going to have a better quality of life then I really need to change.

For so long I’ve championed plus sized bodies and the amazing things they can do that defy the bullshit that doctors try to push on you. I’ve seen so many beautiful plus sized mothers bring their babies into the world when they were told they’d never be able to even conceive as a plus sized woman – I myself was one of these women. I was told at every step how high risk I was and truly bullied by the NHS. When Eleanor came there wasn’t a single thing about her that wasn’t perfect, and she’s growing to be an intelligent, bright and confident little girl; something they told me I wouldn’t be able to “cope with” and would have to have extra help with. I’ve had none and need none.

I’ve seen plus sized bodies climbing mountains and doing yoga, running marathons and being “healthier” than their slimmer counterparts.

Unfortunately for me – that not the case. My body is different from others because I have hypermobile joints which means they are unstable and move too much and even dislocate. This causes me extreme pain and so anything I can do to take pressure off them and improve my quality of life – I want to be able to go on long walks with my family and not worry if there’s somewhere to sit on the way around. I’m sick of staying in the house whilst Adam takes Eleanor out alone because I’m sore or because I need some rest as I feel isolated away from them and almost feel at times that they have a much better bond together.

The big thing I need to lose weight for is Sleep Apnea which is currently giving me no quality of life. I stop breathing in my sleep which means I never feel well rested and often fall asleep during the daytime – mostly when doing quiet tasks such as writing blog posts. I find it so hard to get the focus to write and finish a blog post, it takes me days/weeks to write just a snippet without nodding off which is why I’ve not been blogging as much.

With sleep apnea you get something called a CPAP (continuous positive airway machine) to wear at night which is a face mask which pumps out air into your nose and throat. Unfortunately, I find it hard to breathe through my nose and so I can’t use the machine without finding it very hard to breathe. It also triggered the PTSD which I was left with after my c-section that didn’t go to plan.. I’m hoping with weight loss that this gradually gets better.

It’s not just health why I want to lose weight. I’m sick of paying the “plus size tax” on clothes. I want to be able to go to shops like Primark and buy a pair of shorts for £3, not £30. I want to be able to see in my hand what I’m buying and not wonder what the sizing is going to be like on my online order. I want to have choices like everybody else and not have to stick to the same 2-3 shops I always do.

I’m going on holiday in September and in some ways I’m dreading it. I’m hoping that I fit in the seat okay and don’t need loads of extenders! I’m hoping I can fit down the water slides and have the energy to run around after Eleanor and dance with her at the kids disco.

Eleanor is my number one priority. I don’t want her to get bullied in school cause I’m the “fat mam” at the school gates out of breath and I don’t want her to be ashamed of me. I want Eleanor to grow up in a world that accepts people for who they are and doesn’t judge people for their appearance and I want her to grow up knowing that she is beautiful and perfect – but I also want her to be able to live her life without any complications like mine and I don’t want her to feel as unhappy I do at times. This world is a cruel place and people are really nasty (kids in particular who have been brought up to be fatphobic).

I really don’t want to cause any upset or offence to the plus size community because I fully intend to still be a member of the plus size community and body positivity for all – I just need to do this for my own health so that my life is actually worth living again and so that I can enjoy my family and be around to watch them grow.

Hannah x

baby · parenting · plus size

Scarred for life – My c-section story.

Hi all!

I’ve always been a fan of literature and reading, and one of my favourite all time quotes is from Dickens “A Tale Of Two Cities” which reads –

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way”

To me, this has always spoken of happiness and joy in one hand in comparison to sorrow and despair in the other – and that’s exactly how I feel about my c-section. I’ve not told this story online before and it might be triggering talking about medical talk and PTSD etc so please don’t read this if it may upset you.

If you read my last post, I was ready in hospital to have my section and had been kept in for days beforehand ready for the birth on Tuesday. Tuesday came around and Adam and our mums turned up bright and early as I was scheduled to be going into theatre at 8AM. The doctors had cleared their diaries and decided that I would be their priority for the morning to ensure a safe delivery for my baby.

8AM rolled around and the doctors still hadn’t came to get me and so I waited patiently in my room with my family getting more and more nervous and anxious about the upcoming procedure. Finally, just after 9 the doctors came and everybody took me down to the delivery suite where I would be going after surgery and we had a quick discussion about what would be happening. I was then quickly whisked into a tiny room to start the epidural process to numb me in preparation for surgery. We were all crammed in the smallest room and it was boiling hot – the sweat was rolling off me. I was asked to sit on the table bend forward whilst a doctor attempted to get a needle into my back. After almost an hour of him trying, I was crying in pain and asked for a break to which he snapped back at me “well I don’t get a break”. This was the start of his negative attitude, and sadly not the last. Eventually he got the needle where he thought he wanted it and he asked if i thought it felt central and I said no, but he left it anyway. They took so long with the needle because they wanted to leave it in my back for extra pain relief the next day (which never got used).

It was then time to go into theatre and have my baby. The doctor who had put my epidural in was spraying me with cold spray down my side and asking if I could feel it, to which I was saying yes I can. I could feel it up until my hips but not after that. I kept telling him I could feel it but he didn’t seem to believe me and said I could feel the pressure when I was telling him I could feel the cold.

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I was laid down on the bed and the sheet went up right in front of my face and I knew it was time. I was still being sprayed with cold spray and feeling it and so the doctor started pumping me full of drugs. From the first touch of the scalpel on my stomach, I felt everything. I felt like I was actually going to die. I was crying in pain as they burned me to cauterize the skin and made cuts to get to my womb. I was then told I would feel a little bit of pressure as they delivered Eleanor, but as I wasn’t numbed properly it felt like they were scooping my insides out. I was still crying and telling them it hurt but all the doctor would do was spray me and give me more painkillers. I was so thankful for Adam being there to hold me, reassure me and sing to me to try and calm me down. Finally, at 11:36 on 13/10/2015 she was born and I laid there whilst Adam held her and they stitched me up.

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Finally I got to hold my baby girl and I was so happy that she had arrived and was healthy. The doctors put her onto my chest for skin to skin contact as I’d requested and wheeled me into the post op room with her snoozing on me. From there we went back to the labour ward and our mums got to meet Eleanor and that’s as much as I really remember.

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After that the day is a huge blur till the evening when I was filled in on the days events. Due to the amount of painkillers in my system, I actually stopped breathing twice as opiates suppress the respiratory system. I don’t remember any of this obviously as I was out of it, but this was quite terrifying for my family – in particular my brother who walked into the room as a team of doctors were running in to make me breathe again.

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(Me when I was out of it)

When I came back around in the evening I was quite aware that I couldn’t feel my legs.I hadn’t expected this and so I was quite alarmed. Without having the use of my legs it was really hard to move myself on the bed – even more so as I had wires etc connected to me. The sheets were quite soggy with my sweat and so the nurses decided to change them with me still in the bed which was hard considering I couldn’t move. The nurses went to find a couple of people to help change the sheets with me still on the bed and at this point the doctor who had the bad attitude with me previously and who had given me too many drugs popped in to see I was okay and got roped into helping change my sheets. After the sheets were changed and I had been repositioned into a comfier position, the doctor then remarked that he wished he hadn’t bothered coming to see me and left again. Once again this upset me and left a negative feeling on what was supposed to be one of the best days of my life.

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Seeing as I was out of it all day, I missed quite a lot of time bonding with Eleanor and I was really upset about this. Adam was there through it all though and dressed her, changed her, held her and was so wonderful with her and so hands on from the first moment. He was so supportive with me even though he knew how distressed I was and somehow made it all better. I’ll never forget him sleeping on the uncomfortable blue sofa and refusing to leave my side till the morning when he went home, changed and brought me breakfast as I’d had nothing since the Monday night. I was feeling a lot better by the Wednesday morning after having some breakfast yet once again it was ruined by the staff who then piled into my room (around 8-10 of them) and proceeded to lecture me about my weight and tell me I would be dead within ten years if I didn’t lose weight after my pregnancy. Once again, what was supposed to be a lovely blessed time was tainted by lectures on my weight and talking about things not even related to my baby.

At the time I did know I needed to lose weight. I had been watching what I ate and working out before I got pregnant and barely gained during (I actually lost weight at first) and had every intention of getting back on track when Eleanor arrived – but they didn’t ask me about any of this and they just presumed I was going to go home and eat blocks of cheese dipped in butter.

I was also told I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed unless supervised because I have sleep apnea and they thought I would crush the baby with the weight of my breasts if I dropped off which meant I had to learn to pump and then bottle feed which was a chore and took twice as long to feed. I only lasted 5 weeks of not being able to pump enough, or pumping for hours through the night and then leaking when I didn’t need to pump. It was a nightmare and quite frankly put too much pressure on me. I had it drummed into me that breast was best and breastfed babies go further in life etc etc but in the end I was just happy to have a baby with a full tummy.

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By the middle of day two I had enough feeling left in my legs and decided to get up and sit in the chair as I was sick of the bed. It was then that I found out that my pressure dressing for my c-section scar wasn’t stuck on me properly and was sticking my thighs to my stomach rather than being stuck to my under stomach. This meant that every time I wanted to stand up or move, I had to unstick the bandage from myself before I could go anywhere and it got very tedious.

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I soon got into the swing of caring for Eleanor and kept trying to express colostrum and they wanted me to go home on the Thursday, however I had wanted some more help with breastfeeding and expressing and so I stayed another night. For some reason I was never moved to the post-labour ward and stayed in the actual labour ward and so never got to have the new baby photos and almost got forgotten about. One day I got trapped in a chair and pulled the buzzer but nobody came for over twenty minutes whilst my baby cried and I couldn’t get to her. I had been sitting in a reclining chair with my legs up (to stop blood clots) pumping milk and didn’t have the strength to actually push the leg part back in and push the chair back up to get out. I ended up using every ounce of strength I had and throwing myself off the chair almost sideways to get out of the chair and get to Eleanor who was so distressed by this point. I understand nurses are busy and there’s births going on, but I was so panicked and desperate after being left so long – it was awful.

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Finally the day came to leave and I was happy to be going home. There was some wonderful nurses on the labour ward, but most of the higher staff had been less than kind to me and I was ready to come home and get on with motherhood. Despite being told by staff that they thought I would need “extra help”(which I never have – I do the majority of the caring for our child and manage just fine), I was ready to get home and get into a proper routine with Eleanor. Adam came for me after work and I packed up my bits and got Eleanor ready in her car seat and we were ready to go. Later I would find out I wasn’t discharged properly and no paperwork or medical notes were sent to my doctors, no follow up diabetic appointments were made for me and I had to chase up getting medical stockings which I should of been discharged with. I really did feel forgotten about. It was quite annoying because I had to get prescriptions for medication from my doctors, but they hadn’t sent any paperwork over to my doctors so I had to call the doctors who then had to fax the information over before I could request my medication and make postnatal appointments.

I know that I have complained in this post, and really I shouldn’t complain about the NHS because it IS a free service and they do wonderful, incredible work every day but unfortunately I had a bad experience with them with things going wrong (which can’t be helped) which coupled with the fat-shaming and constant negativity about my weight – it all left a bad taste in my mouth.

A few weeks after I left the hospital I came back to have a meeting with a consultant as I complained about how the doctor treat me and how the procedure went in general and after I explained my story he admitted that they used the incorrect technique in my back and they should’ve used a shunt instead and he couldn’t understand why one wasn’t used. I said I understood I was a difficult patient and am aware how overweight I am yet he admitted that I’m not much bigger than the majority of the women coming through his doors and that his staff don’t have enough training on plus sized mothers. He assured me he was going to look into more training and research for plus sized pregnancies. I then brought up the way the doctor had treat me and how he refused to believe that I wasn’t numb which resulted in me feeling the whole operation. I explained that from the first moment he had a bad attitude and the consultant told me he was actually known to have a bad attitude and that was just how he is. Okay, there’s having an attitude but when a person is in the most vulnerable position they can be in – you really don’t need somebody having a negative attitude or making you feel upset. It’s really shitty and I felt like nothing and nobody would help me when I was going through the worst experience of my life.

This post has taken me a lot to write. Bringing it all up and re-living it all is so triggering to me and I’ve taken weeks to write this in tiny pieces as I’ve had to put it down and walk away and reassure myself. Since my section I have accessed counselling and have been diagnosed with having PTSD. I still have nightmares (thankfully not as frequently as they were) and I wake up crying, screaming, talking in my sleep, grabbing Adam or getting trapped in dreams. I dream about members of my family being trapped in medical situations, or I dream that I’m being chased by medical staff. I dream that Eleanor is getting taken away from me because I’m not good enough or that people are tearing at my flesh and worse things that I can’t even write about right now. I’m quite agoraphobic and I’m quite scared of being outside on my own and I’m working on building myself back up and building up my confidence. I still find it hard to watch medical scenes on TV and I can’t go to the doctors alone but that’s okay because I’m not perfect – I’m a work in progress and I will get there one day.

I really hope that one day I will be able to have another child. Right now I don’t think I could put myself through it again physically or emotionally because I’m still healing, but I really want Eleanor to have a sibling. Maybe I’ll never have another biological child and maybe I’ll go down the route of adopting which has always been a dream of mine – but not right now. Right now I want to enjoy my beautiful baby girl and grow with her. She inspires me every day and is the reason I get out of bed and go along with my day. Throughout my anxiety and PTSD, she is that one shining beacon of hope that gets me through and when I feel like I’m fighting against the current and drowning, she gives me the strength to pull my head above the water and keep on trying.

They say that time heals all wounds and love conquers all, and I hope that this is true. I hope that one day my c-section will be a white faded scar and a distant memory and memories of my beautiful family will slowly push the negative thoughts away and replace them with nothing but positives. I know I’m not there right now but I have so many hopes for the future. As Eleanor grows – as will I.

I hope this hasn’t been a too “woe is me” post and in no way am I looking for sympathy – I’m just a plus sized mum telling her story and trying to open up in the hopes of helping others and breaking down the stigma around PTSD.

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

baby · home · parenting · plus size · Uncategorized

Becoming “Mummy” – My plus size pregnancy story.

 `Hi all!

Two months ago my little girl Eleanor turned one years old. Those who have followed me for a long time will be just as shocked as I am how quickly the time seems to of flown by. It seems like just yesterday it was just me and Adam in our flat in Fairfield, and now its me Adam & Eleanor in our big family home in Stockton (with a quick detour along the way to an awful streethouse..)

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I don’t think I’ve ever really told the story of how Eleanor “came to be”, and I always get asked online by other plus sized women how I managed to get pregnant and really I had no secret. I only had unprotected sex once and fell pregnant. Me and Adam had had a pretty average Christmas but both felt like something was missing. After a long chat on Christmas Day we decided that when we came back from our little getaway to Edinburgh we were going to try for a baby. At the end of January we stopped using any contraceptives and it happened first time we tried (if the dates are correct!). I’m not sure how Eleanor managed to cling on for those first days because I had an MRI scan whilst not knowing I was pregnant and also went to an event in London where I wore a tightly bound corset all day and drank!

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I found out I was pregnant quite quickly. I thought I was having the period from hell and I remember being at the gym about to go swimming and my boobs were like rocks and so I had to wear a crop top in the water rather then a bikini top because they were so sore. I remember swimming along with my nipples like marbles and the freezing cold swimming pool just made them worse!

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The thing that really made me realise I was pregnant was my sense of smell went crazy. I’ve never liked coffee/the smell of coffee before and it was just getting worse and worse to the point of it making it unbearable. What really pushed me over the edge and prompted me to wonder if I was pregnant was somebody at work was cooking popcorn which is usually one of my favourite snacks but at this time I couldn’t stand the smell at all.

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My first test actually came back negative, but my second had a very faint positive line and my third was really dark and so I knew for sure I was pregnant. I rang my doctors straight away to book in for a blood test and had it confirmed that I was pregnant that same week. Next I had to have my “booking” appointment with the midwife which was my first proper appointment.

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With me being a student when I moved in with Adam in the flat, I never ever swapped doctors and so my appointments were always still at my doctors near my mums. My first appointment was a no show, then she turned up randomly 2 days later but I of course wasn’t there (and was working!). Finally we rearranged for the Friday and she finally showed up…nearly 2 hours late. As midwives over my pregnancy went. they were very hit and miss. Unfortunately she wasn’t one of the good ones and she banged on for over an hour about how breast is best and how breastfed children have higher IQ’s and achieve more.  She also went on to tell me that women should be the one to feed a baby so the baby associates feeding with her mum and how it certainly should not be  getting fed by the father. Needless to say – there was much eye rolling on my part.

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Apart from morning sickness, most of my pregnancy went swimmingly and sailed by. We found out we were having a girl, agonised over names but settled on Eleanor – which we chose after I read out the name and Adam started singing a Biffy Clyro song he loved – and started buying clothes second hand off eBay. We also moved house when I was around 4 months pregnant so that we were close to family and in a “proper” house. We soon regretted this decision as the house was just a damp mess which ended up full of various problems such as holes in the floorboards in the stairs, crooked tiled in the kitchen which we stubbed our toes on, a pipe in the bath was held together with a rag, the bath wasn’t draining properly which made our yard stink etc etc! We ended up moving out when Eleanor was 5-6 months old because the damp was consuming the house and making her ill and the house was going to have to get half ripped out to fix!

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I said my pregnancy mostly went swimmingly, but I did have a few hiccups along the way. When we went for our gender scan, Eleanor would not co-operate at all and kept wrapping her legs around the cord so we couldn’t see what gender she was! The poor nurse tried for over a half hour and had me in allsorts of positions. Finally, on her last attempt she managed to see as Eleanor moved that she was going to be a girl. I was so relieved that we got to find out – I cried. I also found myself in hospital on a few occasions, once to a bleed, once due to a fall, once due to fake contractions (where after a few test I found out I had group b strep which I was glad I found because it can be problematic if undiscovered) and once due to a fall.

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I ended up having a week long stay in hospital after going in with stomach pains which I feared might be pre-eclampsia. I went in and due to the sound of my breathing they were convinced I had blood clots in my lungs which could of put the babies and my life at risk. In one day, I had an ECG, x ray, nuclear x ray, a camera down my nose, an ultrasound, various blood tests, urine tests, half hourly blood pressure tests and more. I was exhausted and just wanted to go home. I moved wards 8 times during my stay, including being put on the labour ward which was terrifying and spending a night in intensive care which was even more terrifying and extremely uncomfortable. They have these beds which constantly move to stop bed sores as people spend so much time there. I HATED it there and couldn’t wait to leave. They wouldn’t even let me go to the toilet alone and begged me to use a bed pan. No.

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I was finally allowed back home after being diagnosed with sleep apnea and given the all clear about my lungs. I did get plenty of scaremongering  chats about my weight which ruined my pregnancy a little if I’m honest. Nobody would take the time to talk to me and ask what i’ve been doing or would check the records to see I’d actually been losing weight – I just got a lecture about dying young or harming my baby.

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My pregnancy went on and so did my cravings. Thankfully I didn’t crave anything “too” wild – apart from loving the smell of ice and crunching it and the smell of old dusty boxes. I craved normal things like bags of tangerines, grapes, vol-au-vents, jacket potatoes, tuna and sweetcorn pasta. I even started liking things I wasn’t a fan of originally such as pizza, orange fanta, trifle, cheesecake and chicken – strangely all the things that Adam absolutely loves.

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By the end of my pregnancy I was pretty much crippled with SPD and ended up using a wheelchair to get out of the house which was awful. So many places are so unsuitable (I got stuck in the middle of the road in Manchester) and people truly see you as a second class citizen it was disgusting the way people shoved in front of me or tutted at me or just gave me filthy looks. If poor Adam wasn’t so kind as to push me round places, I wouldn’t of gotten out at all. I was pretty miserable with it and climbing our stairs 5-6-7 times a night to pee was killing me. I also developed gestational diabetes triggered by steroids I was given in the hospital so I was injecting insulin my last few weeks. This concerned the doctors who thought my baby would grow to be huge and wanted to give me a c-section at 37 weeks.

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As you can imagine, I wasn’t best pleased by this as I wanted to go naturally. They told me I’d be too tired to push and would probably end up needing a c-section anyway so it was best just to choose to have one. They set up the surgery date for Tuesday 13th October (which I pleaded with them for as 13th is superstitious) but they wouldn’t change it.

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A few days before I was due to go in and have Eleanor, I had to go for my pre assessment where we’d chat about a few things and talk about the c-section. When I got there, I was super anxious and as a result of this – my blood pressure was sky high. After the high reading, they refused to let me go home and said I had to stay in until she was coming which sucked as it was my cousins 21st at the weekend and I still wanted to do some bits at home etc. I finally accepted that I had to stay after more scaremongering chats about me having a fit and after having to have the worst injection in my leg for Eleanors lungs to develop – I got settled in my side room. I’d been there since 11am and got settled by 9PM – yet between all this time I hadn’t even been offered a glass of water or anything to eat.  By Sunday I was bored, fed up and pissed off at the lack of food. Some how they kept missing me on the lunch runs or people would be in the room when orders were taken so I ended up with what was leftover or more often – nothing. GREAT way to treat a pregnant woman. However, nothing pissed me off more than a doctor popping in on sunday and asking why I was still there and that I had been allowed to go home for the weekend. I was livid!

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The only good part about hospital was Adam. He really looked after me and made sure I got out and about and brought me food to eat and fresh PJ’s and drinks etc. He tried his hardest to make it a positive experience for me and spent as much time as he could at the hospital with me. He even painted my pump for me in my little en-suite bathroom because it was on my “bump bucket list”.

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Soon it rolled round to tuesday and it was time to go down to theatre to have my little girl. I was so scared and nervous but also so excited to meet her and finally not be pregnant any longer!

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My “birth story” was quite traumatic so I’m going to write about this in another post so keep an eye out for it!

Hannah x