Easter Sunday

This was Leo’s second Easter.

Last year he was only 2 months old and didn’t have any idea what was going on.

He was even more confused when I sat him in a basket with a fake Easter Egg and lamb and had my parents jumping around trying to make him laugh for a photo I wanted to take.

Even though Leo is now one, he still has no idea what Easter is so we didn’t make a big deal about it.

But as always, I couldn’t resist doing an Easter themed, home photoshoot that I could share with family and friends.

Leo was adamant that he could eat the chocolate egg, (by that I mean the gold foil too).

I’ve been told that I’m mean, (in a joking way, I hope), for saying I don’t want Leo to have chocolate or junk food. But he doesn’t need it.

He has half a chocolate biscuit or a bite of a chocolate bar every once in a while, but it’s not something he has got to have.

If you put a piece of cake or an apple in front of him, he would choose the apple, (if I did it as a public experiment, he would definitely choose the cake to show me up. Ha!).

I also made cornflake buns when Leo had his morning nap, but he was more interested in the bun wrapper.

He loves his fruit and veg, so I don’t want to force junk food on him.

We didn’t do an Easter egg hunt this year, or let him have much of his chocolate since he’s still so young. But next year I can’t wait to hide treats and little gifts around the house for him to find!

And while he’s still little and loves having his picture taken, I’m going to have to keep bombarding people with a yearly easter photo!

Happy Easter everyone!

The Student Midwives

At the end of last year, Pampers launched a campaign called #ThankYouMidwife to show appreciation to midwives working hard over the year, as 1 in 3 midwives feel undervalued.

With everyone saying Thank You, Sheffield Hallam Midwife students Richard Bean and Kate Lansley spoke about their experiences in what it is like training to be a midwife.

26-year-old Australian, Kate, volunteered for a charity called Nightline, a service similar to the Samaritans but for students, whilst studying for a degree in Psychology at the University of Leeds.

“I joined midwifery a little late,” she says, “my degree and volunteering gave me a love and an appreciation for caring for people and after trying a few different jobs I felt something was missing. I started to develop a passion for feminism and women’s rights and I got the idea in my head that I’d love to be a midwife”

“The year I applied for midwifery was the last year they were offering a bursary – so it was now or never.”

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Kate Lansley, 26.

In 2016, she started the BSc Midwifery degree and is now in her Second year of studies, which started a lot different to other degrees.

She said: “We started our Second year in mid-September and break for summer at the end of August, which is different compared to a lot of other degrees. It can be quite a full-on workload, so organisation is important. This year I have five modules with two deadlines each.”

“We have to complete a certain number of hours at University and placement in order to meet the requirements. If you miss anything, if you’re ill or can’t make it – you have to make up for it. Depending on what placement you’re on, we do 30-38 hours a week. That’s the equivalent of working a full-time job, but with studying on top of that.”

One fact that took Kate by surprise while studying was that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

“You learn a lot of emotional things,” she says, “it wouldn’t put me off having kids as I’ve spoken to midwives who have given birth and they said it’s easier than you think to switch off.”

Final year midwife student Richard, (44), previously worked in management for the NHS but always enjoyed working with patients directly and also enjoyed caring for people.

He said: “I wanted a job where I could go home and say ‘today I did this for someone’ and know I’d make a difference. Midwifery is a role where you can provide tailored care for a woman and help her achieve what she wants, such as having a water birth or natural birth, rather than what we want to do for her.”

Richard lives in Portsmouth but is completing training for his degree in Sheffield and is the only male midwife on his course.

“I’ve been the only male on the course for a long time,” he says, “there are other male students around and I have worked with a man who is a senior midwife, but we are a rare breed.”

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Richard Bean lived in Sheffield for 20 years before moving to Portsmouth

“Some women choose not to have care with me, but I also have just as many request me. It’s about making a connection – showing care and compassion.”

He said: “a lot of dads find it easier to connect with me. I remember early on in my training I had been providing breastfeeding support to a new mother and as I was going home, her huge rugby player husband asked me for a word somewhere quiet.”

“Not knowing what to expect, he asked if I had been the one to help his wife breastfeed. I said yes nervously and he threw his arms around me, thanking me for helping his wife feed his newborn daughter.”

“If I was a lot younger,” he says, “I wouldn’t have personally felt ready to be a midwife. But what women go through to give birth is inspiring.”

Richard and Kate are both assessed by the midwives they work alongside while on placement at hospitals and have to record new things they have learnt from taking blood pressure to conducting membrane sweeps.

Student midwives often work the same hours as paid midwives.

The work of both midwives and those training to be midwives isn’t thanked as much as it should be.

So thank you to the students and midwives, for being dedicated, wonderful and hardworking – without you giving birth would be a whole lot harder.

Why Mothers Day is Important

You’ve heard it all before, mums do everything. The cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing (unless you’re me – I don’t iron), the early mornings and late nights.

Mums do it all.

We have to give credit to the dads, some of them actually do everything a mum does and more.

But why is Mother’s Day so important?

If you’re anything like me, I constantly doubt myself.

“Am I raising my child right?”

“Do other mums do what I do?”

“Am I doing enough?”

I put 110% into everything I do for Leo, but I worry I might not be doing a good job.

That’s what Mother’s Day does.

One whole day, where kids, partners and sometimes parents spoil mothers and reassure them that they are doing a good job.

For every cheesy card bought or made, a bunch of flowers or box of chocolates, the little gesture goes a long way.

That might sound ungrateful that everything they do for us mums the rest of the year doesn’t mean anything because it all does. But Mother’s Day is a day we can take advantage of breakfast in bed and just hear a ‘happy mothers day’.

It is important because not only do we have the whole day to feel appreciated and loved, but we get to see that we are too, which we might not always see beyond the pile of washing we have to do.

Everyone has bad days where they just want to take themselves off to bed and sleep, but as a mum, you can’t do that.

Mother’s Day reminds us of what’s important and what we are doing right.

This year is my second Mother’s Day and once again I’ve learnt a lot this year about being a mum and what my own mum has done for me.

I’ve always been grateful for my mum and everything she does, but being a mother now, I realise all those extra things she did and still does.

She still checks in on me when I’m sick, stays up worrying about me and Leo if we aren’t well or he’s bumped his head.

My mum is Wonder Woman.

She deserves the world and more for everything she does, and Mother’s Day is my chance to slow down and actually remember to say thank you. I wish I remembered to say it more.

So to all the mums out there – Happy Mother’s Day.

Cuddle your loved ones extra close and just know that you are doing an amazing job.

The University Dad

After leaving his job in corporate sales, Roagan Hall decided to pursue his dream career in the film industry. Two-years-ago he decided to study BA Film and Media at Sheffield Hallam University after becoming inspired by his first-born son to follow his dreams.

Roagan (27) worked full time in a well-paid job in Manchester to provide for his family, including son Bradaigh who is now two-years-old. But he said he was always working and wanted something more.

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Roagan and son Bradaigh, 2015

“When Bradaigh was born,” he says, “it sparked something inside of me that made me want to change my life and follow my dreams so I can inspire him to follow his dreams, too.”

In September 2016, he moved to Sheffield with his family and went back to university to study his passion for filmmaking. But in the run-up to the start of his first semester, he and his partner found out they were expecting their second child.

Roagan admits he was petrified deep down. He said: “I’d given up a good job to become a student and study, but I kept that feeling to myself. I questioned whether I was doing the right thing by going to university, but if I didn’t go now I never would.”

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Roagan, Bradaigh and Leo

In April 2017 the couple had welcomed their second son, Leo.

So what’s a typical day like for him? And how does he manage his time between childcare and university?

“I wake up early to get ready, then I wake my sons up to spend some time with them. I go in early and finish early so I can pick Bradaigh up from nursery and read to him before he goes to sleep.”

“I often miss freelance events because they start at five and that’s when I spend time with my sons getting them ready for bed”

“At the start of uni I was getting Firsts but towards the end of the semester I was getting 2:1s because I felt I needed to be home more. If I had writers’ block when I was writing scripts, I used to go for a walk to clear my mind. But when Leo was born, I’d think I should be spending that time with him.”

Roagan is studying full-time which involves 12 hours of lectures and seminars, not including group projects and other course-related work.

He said: “I’m a workaholic but my deadlines don’t move, so I have to spend a lot of time doing a bit of work each day.”

“I try to be someone that my eight-year-old self would be proud of,” he says, “so I put in the hard work. Some people don’t turn up for a lot of the lectures or seminars, but I make sure I’m there every day putting in the effort.”

Roagan is now in his Second year and makes short films such as one of his first-born sons’ life, going for walks and learning about the world.

He’s planning on creating more so he can one day show his sons and teach them about morals and that it is okay if they struggle at times:

“Life is like running a race, it is always hardest halfway through. I’m there now, but I wouldn’t change anything. Bradaigh and Leo are the best things that could have ever happened to me.”

A Year With Leo

I don’t think I have ever planned for something in my whole life as much as I had for Leo’s first birthday (I didn’t even plan this much for having a baby). 

Our baby turned ONE on Wednesday and we wanted to spend the day as a family and save the party for the weekend.

So, on Sunday 25th of February, we had our baby’s first ever birthday party.

A lot of people probably thought it was a bit extreme for a first birthday party, they’ll hardly remember it, right?

No, it probably wasn’t necessary, but I WANTED to do a huge jungle themed party. I love being creative and I’m always looking for party themes on Instagram and Pinterest.

So for Leo’s birthday, I had an idea of what I wanted and just went with it.

Obviously, planning parties can be a little bit expensive so I tried to do everything on a budget.

I ordered different coloured balloons online, and went for:

  • Animal Safari
  • Gold Metallic
  • Pearl White
  • Midnight Blue
  • Emerald Green
  • Gold Confetti

I thought the easiest bit would be picking balloons to match my colour scheme, but it’s surprising how many different shades of blue and green balloons there are.

I also wanted a jungle flower wall of Leo’s name, but they can cost a lot, so instead, I made my own with tissue paper of different shades of green.

We had the party at the Sitwell Golf Club, (which I would 100% recommend to anyone to hire out a room). It was such a lovely place, but I had to improvise how I wanted the room decorated.

I wanted the LEO on the wall, where people could have photos in front of and a balloon arch in the entrance (which I actually put around the wrong door).

My nana made a christening cake for Leo as we had him christened the same morning and I made his jungle birthday cake.

It didn’t turn out quite how I wanted it too but it tastes good so I guess that’s all that matters.

My nana said this was her last cake she’ll be making so I took full advantage of eating all the leftover pieces.

I’m a bit upset I didn’t get many pictures at the party with friends and family (especially parents and grandparents), but it was such a busy day that we hardly got to speak to anyone.

We got a few at the church but other than that there wasn’t a lot.

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to celebrate Leo’s day and spoilt him with so much love.

Thank you to my mum and Charlotte for dealing with my stress when it came to getting all the decorations prepped and setting up the room, I’m sorry I get so bossy!

Leo is also so lucky to have his special godparents in his life and we are lucky that he has such amazing role models to look up to, so thank you Kieran, Charlotte (Chucky), Carla, Charlotte and Ben.

Finally, a huge thank you to Dylan for just going with the vision I had and letting me go mad on decorations and the hundreds of cupcakes and cakes I’d baked all week to get it perfect.

I can’t thank you enough for always keeping me calm, supporting me and loving me unconditionally. Leo is one lucky boy to have you in his life – as am I.

We’ve still got a tonne of cake left over and a mountain of presents to get through, so thank you to everyone who bought/spoilt Leo. We’re incredibly grateful.

A whole year with Leo – it’s been a whirlwind of love, happiness and the occasional tears, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

As for 2 years with Leo… I’m thinking either Carnival themed or holding off on the parties until he’s at least 5! Ha!

One Year Old

Today, our baby turned one.

We tried to spend the day without being on our phones, and just cherishing Leo’s first birthday and talking about life a year ago today.

When you’re pregnant, you can’t imagine what it will be like to hold your baby for the first time.

You think about the kind of parent you want to be, and try to imagine what your baby will look like.

But nothing will ever come close to that feeling of holding and seeing your child for the first time.

It’s a different kind of love.

The first time I held Leo my heart could have burst. I cried and smiled, and held him close to me.

No matter how many birthdays pass and years go by, every birthday, and every day in between, I will always remember that moment.

Today we went to The Deep in Hull with a few of our family members, so that we could give Leo all our attention and not have to worry about anyone or anything else. (We have a party on Sunday for that).

We just wanted to be with the few people who were there, and saw him on the day he was born.

Leo loved watching all the fish swim around and he tried talking to them through the glass, (well, shouting at them). It was his first time at an aquarium, so we let him lead the way and followed him around wherever he pointed to go, or ran to.

Watching his little face light up at the fish and sharks, all the people he could smile at and show off too, it made me so proud.

We’ve spent this last year watching him learn and grow, and I’ve never been more proud in my whole life.

A whole year has passed since you were born Leo. I’ve watched you open your big blue eyes for the first time, sit up, roll over for the first time, crawl, and take your first steps.

I’ve watched you learn, and grow into a beautiful, chatty and cheeky one year old, and my heart is so full of love and pride.

You grow more and more every single day, and so does my heart.

A year ago today Leo…

You rocked our lives and taught us so much. I’ve slowed down more, learnt new things, and I’ve loved so much more than I ever thought was possible.

Happy birthday my little cub, I love you to the stars and back.

(Just to add quickly, we broke down on the motorway on our way home, and even though Dylan and I were terrified and wanted to get home, Leo loved watching all the cars and lorries pass us, and he loved his ride home in the breakdown truck! Just another memory to look back on and laugh).

Valentine’s Baby

To My Midwife

To my midwife, thank you.

Almost a year ago, I gave birth to my first child, and I have never been more in love.

A year ago today, I was 30 days away from my due date.

On Monday the 20th of February, 6:30p.m. I was finally admitted onto the labour ward, third time lucky.

At the time, I was frustrated that I wasn’t admitted when I first went to the labour unit at Hallamshire, (just before dinner time). I’d been having contractions since 6:00a.m. and I was just desperate to finally meet our baby boy.

Now, I’m thankful they sent me for a walk, then sent me home the second time.

If I hadn’t of been sent home, I wouldn’t have had you as my midwife.

You were the only one to properly read my notes, and find the letter to say I was a carrier of Group B Strep. You sat beside me and explained that I would need antibiotics injected so that my baby would arrive safely.

I was incredibly sick, and you laughed with myself, Dylan and my mum about the mop bucket I’d fetched with me to the hospital. It helped a lot to laugh.

You offered me an anti-sickness injection and helped me use the gas and air properly because I didn’t quite get how to breathe with it.

Every few hours (or as often as you could) you came back to check we were all okay, and to see how far along I was.

Every time I said I needed something stronger and that I couldn’t do it anymore, you said: “you can do it, you’re doing amazing. I don’t think you need anything else, but I can come back in a bit and see how you’re getting on.”

I probably said I’m sorry more times than I’ve ever said before, I felt like I was a little bit annoyed with how long the labour took, and I felt bad for you, my mum and Dylan because you were all wide awake supporting me, and I just wanted to give something back.

I remember every time you came with a needle, I asked you to wait and asked for Dylan to stand in the bathroom out of the way, because he hates needles.

My mum said that you’d kept saying how much of a pleasure it was to be my midwife because, for someone in pain, I was so polite and considerate.

I couldn’t have been if it wasn’t for you. Having my family there to hold my hand and support me was a huge help and I’m so grateful they stayed by my side.

But you kept me calm and made the experience a lot more enjoyable than I ever thought labour could be. You made me feel safe and in good hands.

You delivered our baby boy, the thing we all love most in this world. Our bundle of joy. We can never repay you for helping to bring him into this world safely.

I can’t remember if I ever said thank you, but I am, we all are, more than you could ever know.

He’s grown and learnt so much, and he makes us so proud every day.

If you hadn’t of been my midwife, it’s strange, and horrible to think that things could have been so different.

Thanks to you, I felt safe and calm, and I know that Dylan and my mum felt that way too.

I am thankful every day that you were my midwife.

1 in 3 midwives says they feel under appreciated.

Every day I think about our midwife and everything she did for us.

I wish I could turn back the clock and take the time to thank her as many times as I could before she left that room because every single day I appreciate her for what she did.

Without her, our baby boy might not have been who he is today; a cheeky, happy, giggly little soul.

So again, to my midwife [Lyndsey], thank you.

10 Things I Learned in 2017

Last year I decided to do 10 Things I Learned in 2016, and since it’s that cliché time of year (again) where everybody is making their New Years resolutions and summing up how their 2017 has been, I thought I would reflect on the year and what I have learnt…

  1. Being patient is important. I thought I was a patient person before having a baby, so learning to be more patient is quite a big thing. By being that little bit more patient, you can learn so much.
  2. Cleaning up can wait. For anyone who knows me, I hate mess. I love things being organised, tidy and clean so even the tiniest bit of dust can drive me mad. But after having Leo I’ve found that I don’t always have time to clean, mainly because the motivation isn’t there, but you can miss so much just by blinking that the cleaning up can wait until the baby is asleep.
  3. “Labour hurts” is an understatement. The giving birth part I can cope with, but the contractions are a whole different kind of pain. People say that labour hurts, and it does. But imagine the most painful thing in the world, and times it by a billion, (you do genuinely forget all that pain though at some point).
  4. Having your hair tied up is more effort than down sometimes. I used this one last year, but I feel that it’s still something I have learnt again this year. I can’t pull off the messy-bun look, and the high ponytail makes me look like a pineapple, so taking the time to even try and make it look okay is just something that requires way too much effort! I’ll stick to the hair down, yes I’ve just got out of bed look.
  5. You can’t prepare for being a parent. You can read all the books, take all the classes, but you can never be prepared for when you become a parent. Babies, (and children) are so unpredictable. They say you get one good baby, and one bad. One could follow the parenting “rule book” by the word, but the other… there’s not a book that exists for that. It’s good to have the knowledge, but you might not be able to apply it.
  6. Staying in can be better than going out. Letting your hair down isn’t a bad thing, but I’ve found just having a night in, with a takeaway and a few glasses of wine can be so much better than getting in at 1am and suffering from a hangover the next day.
  7. Eating a big bar of Dairy Milk in one sitting is surprisingly easy. And I’m not even sorry.
  8. Seeing your friends is so important. As we get older we often find ourselves seeing friends less and less. There’s always work, other commitments, family stuff. But just taking half an hour to see a friend or grabbing a coffee with them can turn a bad day into a good one.
  9. I didn’t appreciate my parents enough. I’ve always loved and adored my parents and I’ve always thought that I worshipped the ground they walk on. But since becoming a parent myself, I have a whole new level of respect, love and appreciation for them. They deserve the entire universe.
  10. New Years Resolutions are pointless. For anyone who’s ever followed through on a resolution, I take my hat off to you. Let’s not kid ourselves, we aren’t going to spend every day in the gym, we’ll last a week before McDonald’s starts calling our names again.

Rose Cooper “Breaking the Rules” Prize

On November 14th I attended an awards ceremony at my university (Sheffield Hallam), where I had been nominated by one of the lecturers, Clare Jenkins, to win the Rose Cooper “Breaking the Rules” prize.

The award was to go to a level 5 student who produced a piece of work that best demonstrates a thorough understanding of their practice and the ability to test or challenge it.

Clare said: “We were asked to nominate someone, and I immediately thought of you”.

I was truly honoured to receive the nomination, which I won and collected alongside Leo and mum Sherida.

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The reason I was nominated, Clare said, was for the way I had dealt with my pregnancy and motherhood – and the fact that I’ve produced such a useful and attractive website as a result.

Leo sat nicely and clapped along with others receiving awards, and collected mine with me. Afterwards, he walked around enjoying all the attention he got.

None of what I have achieved at university would have been possible without the support from Clare. She has made university life a lot easier and less stressful for me, by welcoming Leo into lectures or seminars and allowing me to do a graded presentation with him in my arms when I couldn’t find childcare.

I will carry on working hard to show that I can get my degree and show Leo that he can do anything he sets his mind too if he puts in the hard work.

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