30 September 2017

October Horoscopes with Russell Grant


29 September 2017

Time for School...By A First Time Mum!

This whole summer I have been so excited for my baby boy to start school (some days more than others!), helping him choose his lunch box, telling him how grown up and handsome he looks in his new uniform and talking to him about all the new adventures he is going to have at big boy school! William cannot wait.....My feelings however, seem to have changed. I've gone from the mum I've always tried to be, you know the one you read about who is happy go lucky, can handle everything thrown at them and still manages to look hot with shiny, snail trails of snot wiped on them, to the anxious, hormonal, emotional wreck of a mum and that feeling in the pit of my stomach is not going away.


27 September 2017

How to parent like its the summer of 1986

Ahh the 80's, my childhood, I don't remember endless day trips, we just hung out in the park, did DIY bonfire nights and renditions of various musicals, so here are my top tips on how to parent like the 80's.



I was distantly aware of the kid-like Mecca that is soft play before I had children.  In fact, I even ventured into one once pre-motherhood.  It was awful - there was screaming, sticky chairs, suspicious looking wet patches on the floor, it was hot and humid and there was a plethora of exhausted parents head down, nose shoved into i phone.  Never again I thought to myself.

When my first child was around 6 or 7 months old a Mummy friend suggested soft play would be 'fun'.  My mind flashed back to those visions of seemingly half feral children charging around with wild abandon and parents working desperately hard to avoid direct eye contact with any children they may have borne.  But since becoming a mother I had changed.  Having been covered in every bodily fluid imaginable and been put on a sleep deprivation regime the North Korean's would be proud of, I was different.  I had a child now so soft play will be totally different hey, perhaps it would even be 'fun' after all.  I.  WAS.  WRONG! 


21 September 2017

Feature: Made For Parents

Baby essentials

When browsing through the aisles of Boots or Mothercare, it can be difficult to know what is absolutely necessary for your new little bundle. So, I thought I would compile a list of what I believe to be essential. These are the products you’ll probably use on an everyday basis.

Nappies/Nappy rash cream


19 September 2017

Feature: Word From the U.S

“It’s Just a Hurricane”

Before I moved to the US the closest I had come to experiencing a natural disaster was severe windstorms in France and England, and an earthquake in Israel in 2004. The only reason I felt the latter was because my chair rolled from one end of the room to the other and back again while I was sitting on it - otherwise I probably wouldn’t have known! Right after the 2004 South East Asian Tsunami I worked over the weekend helping to provide rush translations to the Red Cross (I cannot thank the people at the BBC World Service enough for their help getting the documents translated into Sinhalese), watching the scenes on the news with disbelief at the sheer power of nature. I moved to New York in June 2005, and a few months later found myself watching the news with baited breath as Hurricane Katrina created a path of destruction across the Gulf of Mexico, slamming into Louisiana and literally destroying the state. I remember feeling so hopeless, wishing I could fly down there and DO something. It was at that point that I started taking some interest in hurricanes, and how unpredictable they are. I saw some mega blizzards in NYC, the biggest one in December 2010 just after Christmas, where so much snow fell from the sky that buses and cars were stuck in the streets and I was snowed in to my apartment building. When someone finally dug us out I waded through snow up to my thighs. Earlier that year I saw my first (and last) real-life tornado, from the 40th floor window of a Manhattan high-rise, travelling over the lower end of the island straight towards Brooklyn. The abandoned building on my street corner was destroyed in it; its front façade ripped off, exposing dusty rooms and boarded up bathrooms. That office window was always wonderful for sunrises and sunsets, fireworks displays, watching pilots do emergency landings on the Hudson River, and lightning strikes.

But I honestly never thought I would actually live through an earthquake or a hurricane in the city. NYC… One of the biggest cities in the world! 2011 was the last year that I worked in the high rise, but also the year of THE earthquake and my first real hurricane. I was sitting at my desk, working during my lunch hour, when suddenly the building started swaying and my chair rolled over to another desk and back, my stomach rose and fell, rollercoaster style. Then it was over. We all looked around, wondering if we had all felt the same thing. A 5.8 earthquake in Virginia, not far from Washington DC, which was felt all the way up the coast. On paper 5.8 seems like small fry compared to the 8.1 that Mexico just experienced, or even the earthquakes that California expects (generally hovering between 5.1 and 8). A few weeks later Hurricane Irene brewed far away in the Antilles, gaining momentum until it looked like she was heading straight for NYC. We stocked up on food, made a huge pot of pasta “just in case”, filled the bathtub with water, and made sure we had enough batteries, candles, and flashlights for a few days. It was exciting, exhilarating. The winds whipped up and howled around us, and the tropical storm rain pounded on our windows. It was so warm, and humid, and grey. Irene actually DID make landfall in Brooklyn, but the city was spared.

We strolled through Manhattan after Irene, laughing, taking pictures of a fallen branch and exclaiming “that was it?!”. We were so full of ourselves, not even considering that just outside of the city borders houses were floating down streets and people were without power for days. Lucky us, Irene bypassed NYC and instead ravaged parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, and of course places like South Carolina (not even mentioning the other countries she hit). We didn’t realize how lucky we had been that year. We didn’t even think to look a little further outside and see what damage she had caused. We had survived a hurricane! In retrospect I wish I had listened to my friends who HAD actually survived hurricanes (like Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that devastated Florida). And thought more about those who were sitting in their homes with no electricity, waiting for the flood waters to recede. Irene was a monster.

We learnt what it was like to get through a hurricane the following year.

On Sunday October 28th 2012 I was working a double, bartending in a restaurant in Manhattan when we were told that all public transport would be shut down that evening, and that we should all go home and prepare for the storm. Of course I shut the restaurant up with my coworkers and went to my other place of work next door, an Irish pub, and proceeded to get drunk. What else were we going to do on this sudden evening off?! The streets were dead, it wasn’t cold out, and there didn’t really seem like any imminent threat, apart from a bit of wind blowing through the grid. I went home, slept, and prepped for the storm in the same way as we had prepped for Irene, by buying a ton of snacks, filling the bathtub with water and making sure my windows were sealed (Irene actually cause some leak damage to all of the windows in our apartment building). My roommate, her boyfriend, me, and our good friend hunkered down to weather the storm, and for some reason I decided to stay sober, “just in case”. Still, I was the one who decided that it would be a good idea to go up on the roof when the winds picked up, holding onto the barrier for dear life, until I realized that maybe it was a little dangerous… This wasn’t Irene passing us by. This was Sandy and she was hitting us with all she had left, and it was a LOT. We all huddled down in our living room, watching the news when we saw sparks flying in the distance from our window, and suddenly, from what we could see from Brooklyn, the power went out in Manhattan. I had been texting friends there and all of a sudden we stopped, not sure when the power would be restored. Other friends updated Facebook with statuses of water flooding the streets and terrible winds battering their homes, and we all calmed down a little, wishing for the howling to stop and the world to feel safe again. 


Feed with confidence awards 2017


15 September 2017

Three simple tips to make motherhood easier

Who says that there are no heroes in real life? Of course there are. To be more accurate there are heroines all over the world and those are our mothers. I didn’t really understand it before, but now when I am a mom myself, I know that being a good mother is a full-time job. No matter whether you are staying at home, you work in a office or you are a freelance worker, your duties are endless. As if all the troubles are not enough, there is the constant housekeeping chores awaiting do be done.

I know that there is hardly any time for cleaning and you can’t waste a whole day taking care of your entire house. This is why I am recommending you to try these three simple tips which can make your role as a mom easier and less stressful.

Change your cleaning schedule

It is only natural to struggle with the house cleaning if you leave everything for a single day. The best solution for this problem is to sacrifice about half to one hour from every day of the week. By doing more simple chores every day, you are making your job much more easier. This may seem too tiring but believe me that this habit will actually cut your housekeeping time in half, if not even more.

I like to use about an hour of every day to either wipe the dust, vacuum the floors or do a simple wipe of the hard surfaces in every room. Decluttering also helps tremendously to make the mess in your house much more bearable.


Overnight Skinny – The Do's and Don'ts


12 September 2017

Eradicating guilt and making time for ‘me’

I was desperate to go out and see my friends, so I excitedly peeled myself out of my snot and banana encrusted clothing and pulled on a fresh pair of jeans before quickly glancing at myself in the mirror. It was that exact moment that I knew I needed to grasp back some of my former self. Yes, I was about to sneak out for a few cheeky drinks (hugely medicinal with three little ones) but I’d realised that this occasional wine or gin charged escape was the only time I had for myself.

Advert: Busy Lizzie’s Balancing Act


8 September 2017

My Story


My Story

A pregnant friend of mine asked me today if she needs to be worried about giving birth. Isn't that a loaded question?! Every mum who has gone through labour has a labour story, and I am no different. Whenever I've been asked about labour by a pregnant woman I've tried to be honest without being cruel; no-one benefits from expecting a quick, rosy labour and the advice I found most helpful was from people who told me the honest truth (it hurts. A LOT) but also it isn't nice to put terror into a pregnant woman's heart.. It has got me thinking about my own story though, so allow me a little time to self-indulge. While I'm not entirely OK with sharing my labour story, I am OK with sharing that I found it a traumatic experience and I struggled with the aftermath of it all.

7 September 2017

My Story

When I had my eldest son (16) the Iran/Iraq war was starting to rumble and although he was about 11 months when Blair agreed the UK would join I was still breast feeding him and would say I had had a permanent feeling of 'blue'.  He had been ill, suffering an unusual reaction to the DTP vaccinations and I had decided to leave my job and become a full-time Mum (enjoying it but always feeling wobbly).  Anyway, when the news announced that UK would join the war I turned to the Current Husband and said "you go to Tesco and stock up on water and tins and I will continue feeding the baby to keep him alive".  I was serious.  His face was a picture.  I put my dark mood down to the fact that I was overwhelmed at bringing this baby in to the World and I had to protect him.  It wasn't until that moment that I realised it was a mental issue.

I decided to have acupuncture and very quickly felt much better. Falling pregnant with my daughter in early 2003.  The depression started whilst I was pregnant and I knew I was having a girl - I felt so different.  The depression once again manifested itself in me feeling so overwhelmed at protecting us - our family.  Because I could see how unreasonable my thoughts were, but could not stop them I continued with acupuncture and counselling.  She was born in November, a very cold and wet Winter followed which added to the gloom.  I made myself go out.  I made myself walk. I made myself breath.

As you know a family member suggested that our family was complete because we had a boy and a girl but due to my crippling thoughts I felt I had to experience pregnancy again to "get it right' - I can't explain how I felt being pregnant again would make me better, to this day I'm not sure what my thought process was.

Number 3 arrived in early 2006 and all was well mentally.  However in 2005 we attended a wedding in Central London and there were armed guards everywhere following the London Terrorist attacks. I had a hair appointment off of Oxford Street and having walked past guards on the way I sat in the hairdressers for an hour before I was able to go back to the hotel.  Physically the pregnancy had been tough but I felt I have battled my demons and was an absolute dab hand at getting 3 children out of the door by 0815 every morning.  Filling the pre-school day with soft play and baby gym and backing up the eldest reception school education!

Pregnant again in 2007 and the doom descended,  I felt physically and mentally drained.  I subsequently found out that I had a prolapsed bowel and Chinese medicine links the brain and the gut and I genuinely feel this impacted me physically more than mentally but the dark thoughts were still there.  So much so that once number 4 was born I wouldn't go any further than our immediate vicinity and school.  I would insist that the Current Husband drove us all to Bluewater so that if anything happened we would all die together.  (I'd heard the Bluewater Shopping Centre could be a potential terrorist target).

I guess I take from this that I have a subliminal fear of war/terrorism (it has never impacted my life) but something about it, combined with the children makes me want to protect and save us.  I have a need to make us - especially them - survive.  I feel permanent anxious, which the Current Husband describes as living at ‘defcon4’.

I still have acupuncture, which is a superb treatment for depression, particularly PND as it regulates female cycles/hormones and I also had CBT in 2009 – again great.

Anyway, the youngest is nine and what I would like new Mum's to know is you can live with it, sometimes it isn't full blown depression and you need to over think IT to get to the bottom of IT.  Mine is obviously a need to ensure survival.  So much so that here is a photo of our shed "the Armageddon Shed" as it is know.  I took this yesterday and I have been obsessed with survival since 2002!


PND Awareness week - My Story

Hi, I'm Hayleigh, I'm 24 and live in the city of Glasgow. I am a mama to one wonderful yet sassy little girl. I'm a Disney princess (seriously) I love things like game of thrones, Harry potter and star wars. I love baking, singing, acting and gin. Oh and I am currently recovering from an eating disorder as well as depression.


6 September 2017

My Story

I never envisaged pregnancy or childbirth to ever be a walk in the park. I knew our lives and love would change in irreversible ways when we fell pregnant. I don't think I was ever naive about any of it and how risky the whole process can be for both mother and baby. But like many women and couples that are thrown hurdles during pregnancy and birth, I was completely unprepared for my experience.

I had a couple of bleeds in the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy, which scared the shit out of me. Along with some horrendous morning sickness, at times I didn't know if I was coming or going. Once the 12 weeks scan was out of the way, we could relax. I loved the second trimester. I got my appetite back, my hair was glossy, skin was radiant and my bump was growing. One of my work colleagues said I optimised the pregnancy glow.

As I entered the third trimester, I could feel the heaviness and tiredness starting to kick in. My hands and feet had started to swell, but generally I still felt good. 

Two days before I hit week 31 in my pregnancy, my baby's movements changed. A trip to the maternity assessment (MAU) unit showed baby was fine, but my blood pressure wasn't. Early signs were that it could be pregnancy hypertension. I was sent home with my medication and a home blood pressure monitor. 

Within a week I started to show protein in my urine and my blood pressure kept creeping up, despite increasing the medication. I didn't have pregnancy hypertension, I had preeclampsia. I had no idea what this was nor how dangerous it was.

Eight days after that first visit to MAU my blood pressure just wouldn't go down. My urine still had protein and it had started to increase. I was admitted into hospital at 32 weeks. A few days into my hospital stay, my specialist midwife said, "Bina, you won't be going home until you have this baby."

I still had 8 weeks to go!

I twiddled my thumbs, I was bored out of my brains - but I knew I was in the best place possible. Preeclampsia is at times a silently but deadly condition caused by issues with the placenta. The only way to really try and over come it, is by delivery of the baby and placenta. I was told they'd try and get me to 35 weeks, so 35 weeks it was. No matter what, my baby would be here 5 weeks early. I wasn't allowed to go home as I could have had a stroke or seizure at any point, putting both me and baby at risk. Or go into spontaneous labour.


5 September 2017

Post Natal Depression doesn't care.....

Its unforgiving, its sneaky, and at its worst, it can be life threatening.

It makes you think things you never thought you could. Things that are hard to say out loud because they are so off the wall, you wonder if you even thought them, or just imagined it.

PND is not as easy to identify as you might think. What is 'normal' behaviour for someone who has given birth (traumatic) has a surge of hormones racing around their body, and hasn't slept for longer than 2 hours at a time?? It is highly likely you are going to be feeling slightly over emotional.

Everyone is different. A lot of the media attention around PND focuses on extreme cases, where people have harmed themselves, and/or their babies. This isn't always the case. I thought that because I hadn't had these dark thoughts, then I couldn't have PND. I was wrong. 

When my second baby was about 3 months old, things started to go a bit wrong. I found myself being unable to sleep. Literally lying awake for hours when the whole house was asleep.

Insomnia is frustrating, upsetting, and isolating.

During those hours spent awake in the small hours of the morning, I have never felt more alone. It was a vicious circle. Nights spent awake led to tiredness, which led to anxieties about being tired, which led to not being able to sleep because I was so worried about not sleeping. 


4 September 2017

My Story

Yesterday whilst browsing Instagram I saw that it was #mentalhealthawarenessweek. I felt compelled to write and illustrate something to draw attention to this as I struggled following the birth of my eldest son.
I suppose it started when I was pregnant. Howard was a happy accident, in the very early stages of a relationship. I felt judgement at every turn (I realise this was my anxiety now.) I felt shame that I wasn’t married, that it was early into a relationship, that I had left a good job to travel before realising I was pregnant. People kept gasping and sharing sorrow with me. Telling me how life tough would be. I know people meant well but I am quite stight laced and my anxiety started to have a field day!! It told me how useless I was, how hard life would be and how I’d fail!
When Howard was born, I felt the amazing sense of love that I think all new mum’s do. However, I should have noticed warning signs when I didn’t want people to hold him without my permission. I remember nipping upstairs one day with my partners aubty holding him, when I came back down his cousin was. It took every ounce of strength to not not grab him back crying and screaming!! 
My eldest had colic and I used this as an excuse to hold him all the time. I learnt to do everything one handed, lay to sleep with him at naps and at night. This led to a baby who didn’t sleep and made me even more exhausted! I felt that if I didn’t do everything though I’d be a bad mum (oh  anxiety again!) 
I went out, even away for weekends, but felt guilt like never before! I cried and found solace in the bottom of a bottle! I felt stuck on a treadmill, living the same day on repeat, flat and unfeeling! Don’t get me wrong, I did love Howard, but it became overshadowed with guilt and resentment.

I found it so hard to speak up. I’d go to the doctors thinking he was ill as he couldn’t sleep, hoping one GP would have a magic wand! I remember one telling me it was bad parenting (FYI not the best thing to say!)
I was the first out of my group of friends to have babies. I found it hard to talk about these feelings as I believed they wouldn’t understand. As they had babies they seemed to love every minute, another pointer for anxiety that I was a bad mum.
I found it hard to make new mum friends as well. The feeling of judgement stopped me being comfortable making antenatal ones and once he was here by competitive nature told me that other mum’s were just trying to be better than me. 
It took me 3 years to speak up and seek some help. It was another child and 4 more years until I found some counselling and started on a proper path to recovery. Please don’t leave it that long. Speak up! If you’re friends with someone and think they might be having a struggle, put an arm round them, make them a cuppa and give them some time. It really might make all the difference 

Written by Helen from @nib_ink_paper

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