Let's talk body confidence

And let's start by saying, I have very little at the moment.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably around the 3 mark.

All through my pregnancy with Peyton I struggled with my body. At first it was getting used to having this little bump, then that little bump suddenly grew to an incredible size and I felt like a whale. I was forever the subject of comments about my size and it really, really got me down.

We went for a maternity photoshoot at the start of May, over 8 weeks before Peyton was even due, because I didn't want to be any bigger for the photos. I quite like the one above. I requested we try some silhouette ones and I was really happy with those.

We were very careful which ones we picked when it came to choosing them. Tom, bless him, just let me pick them as he know how much I hated my body when I was pregnant.

And it hasn't got much better now.

When Peyton was six weeks old I went back to Slimming World and the weight started dropping off me. I put on over five stone while I was pregnant and, within a few weeks of being back at Slimming World, only had around a stone to go to be back to the weight I was when I got pregnant. I carried on going, following it the best I could, until November. Then, it just got too difficult to go to group each week. I could never stay, and I didn't like paying £5 each week just to get weighed; when I could just do that at home. I told myself that that's what I would do, carry on at home and weigh myself each week.

Well, as you can probably guess, that didn't happen. Nope.

In fact, I only went and got a new battery for the bathroom scales two weeks ago.

Since we booked our holiday it has made me more determined to try and shift the rest of the "baby weight". I mentioned this in another post, but how long can you call it baby weight for and not just say it's cos you're a chubster who can't stop eating?

Peyton wasn't even two weeks old here. This shirt was my lifesaver in both pregnancy and the early days after she was born. I deffo still looked around six months pregnant for about three weeks, at least.
My problem when I'm at home is snacking. I am so hungry all the time and would rather snack on something naughty than fruit. I have a fruit bowl, and fridge, full of healthy snacks (which would probably fill me up more) but always opt for something more calorific.

I've made a conscious effort to stop snacking unnecessarily and, instead, have a glass of water. If I'm still hungry after that, I stand and stare at the snack cupboard, open and close the fridge a few times, look at what goodies are in the bread bin, then remind myself of our holiday and storm out of the kitchen (closing the door behind me so the snacks can't get me!)

I'm about a stone away from where I was when I got pregnant, and just under two stone away from my original Slimming World target weight (I'm going to start referring to it as my wedding weight, because I don't think it's a real, achievable target anymore!)

If I could get back to where I was when I got pregnant - which was after indulging hard on honeymoon - then I will be happy. If I can drop below that, then I'll be even happier.

However, it's not just about the weight. I need to learn to like myself again. I used to have so much confidence. After losing the weight for our wedding, and keeping it off for Soph's, I loved my body. I was a fan of high-waisted jeans and a crop top, and didn't hesitate about wearing a bikini on honeymoon.


Double sob.
Now, the thought of wearing a bikini fills me with absolute dread.

I have so many horrific, horrendous stretch marks all over my tummy and hips. I know a lot of women have stretch marks and they're a sign of my body growing Peyton and I should be proud of them, I know all of that, but I don't like them. I don't like how they make me feel when I look at them, I don't like how they feel when I touch them, and I don't like myself when I look in the mirror and see them.

Some are really deep, some are still really dark, and, even just writing this about them, it makes me want to cry.

I really wish this was one of those posts where I sit in front of the mirror in just my underwear and show off all my stretch marks and say "here I am, I am proud of every mark because they helped give me my gorgeous girl", but it's not. Maybe one day, but not today.

Yes, I am so proud of my body for growing my baby for nine months, for keeping her safe and for delivering her; but I am really not loving what I am left with. And that makes me really sad to admit.

So, even if I can shed a bit more weight, I still probably won't be comfortable or confident. And I highly, highly doubt you will see me in a bikini when we are back in Dubai.

Here's a pic from Dubai when we were on our honeymoon - do you think I could get away with recycling these from September? 
I had a tattoo done on my hip in 2014 - what a fucking stupid idea that was. I clearly wasn't thinking about what it would be like after having a baby because, bugger me, it looks nothing like it did before.

Before Peyton it was a cute little infinity sign intertwined in a love heart. Now? Well it's just like some black marks mixed in with, you guessed it, more stretch marks.

I lather on bio oil, creams, lotions and potions and nothing seems to work.

God, this is really depressing, I am so, so sorry. If you're still reading, you'll probably need a drink now.

This was my last bump picture and it was the day before my due date - eight days before she was born! 
And this was the first time I fit into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans - 8 weeks postpartum.
Part of me wants to ditch the scales and say I'll just watch the change in myself and stop obsessing over the numbers in front of me. However, I know I need that motivation in the numbers to keep me going. If I don't, I will have a bad week but convince myself that my jeans are looser (they're not, Nat, you've just not washed them in over a week!) or that my legs are looking slimmer.

We are going to two weddings this year and I really, really want to feel nice about myself at them. I don't want to feel conscious about having to breathe in all the time, or having a muffin top hanging over. I don't want to look at photos and hate them.

I want to feel as good as I did at my best friend's wedding.

It was the most beautiful, beautiful day for the most gorgeous couple.

Look how young we look!!!!!!
I've become so critical of myself. My favourite comparison at the moment is that I look like a potato. I say it now without even realising. I'm so, so harsh on myself.

And do you know what? I don't want Peyton growing up hearing that. I don't want her growing up hearing me saying negative things about my body and my appearance all the time. Because then she'll think it's normal and she'll start saying negative things about her body and her appearance.

I remember at primary school thinking I was fat and trying to put myself on a diet. I stopped eating cereal for breakfast and would just have a Nutri-Grain (even now I still can't eat them because they remind me of that time!) I used to throw away my packed lunch at school and not have any dinner because I wanted to lose weight. This was at primary school. I must've been 10? Maybe not even that.

I do not want that for my daughter.

So, I need to work on myself. When Tom says to Peyton "aw doesn't mummy look beautiful" I need to stop replying "no, mummy looks disgusting" and I really must stop talking about my "disgusting" tummy.

I have tried to boost my self esteem myself. Most days I was just wearing gym leggings, a t-shirt and baggy jumper. Whether I was staying home, going out - that was my go-to every single day.

I actually quite liked this photo because it made my legs look slim. It's all about the angles haha!

And this one made my arm look slim.

I've put a stop to that now and make myself get dressed properly. Even if we aren't going anywhere I will put on some jeans/jeggings, I will do my hair and I will put on some make-up. I have tried to take more selfies again, too. This sounds ridiculous, but stay with me.

I used to be partial to a selfie, but not anymore.

However, I've found if I take a photo I see myself differently. I almost see the old me again.

I bought this pair of 'mom' jeans with a voucher I got for Christmas and, sometimes they're not the most flattering, but they did the job ok here.

I don't see the frumpy mum with the saggy tum that I often see when I look in the mirror. I see pre-baby Nat who loved to fill her social media feeds with pictures of herself.

It's all about the angles.

I really am trying to get my confidence back. If you follow me on Instagram you've maybe noticed I've been partial to a few more selfies of late. I need to see myself through less harsh, critical eyes. If someone was speaking about my best friend the way that I talk about myself I would punch them. So why is it ok for me to be so horrible about myself?

Anyway, I will try and share my journey to self-love with you wherever possible. Maybe next time I'll be able to talk about my stretch marks without wanting to burst into tears!

And if a selfie a day helps me along the way, then so be it!


Gnashers, movement, holiday and new photos - just a little(ish) update

Hi everyone, sorry for the radio silence!

I've been quite quiet recently. Peyton's sleep has been terrible (I've just written a post about this here if you'd like to go find out more) and, in turn, that's made some days really hard. Tom's shifts seem to come in waves, too, so we'll have days where he'll be home a lot, then days where he seems to be at work all the time and we never see him.

A couple of weeks ago I felt really, really overwhelmed and everything was a struggle. Not everyday, though. I was fine when I was busy; particularly when I went out with Soph and Olivia, or saw my mum, or Tom was off. But I'm obviously aware that everyone can't spend all their time with me to keep me busy because they have lives of their own!

Anyway, now we're getting better nights of sleep I already feel better. I was so tired from being up so many times a night that I was cranky, moody and irritable - not great traits when you've got a baby to look after on your own all day. I was definitely not at my best and I wasn't being the best mum I can be to Peyton. Of course, she didn't know/care, as long as she could play with her toys she was happy.

I realised that I don't make enough time for myself, something I touched on in a post I wrote the other week (you can read that here if you like) or for me and Tom, so we've made a pact to do that more going forward. We had an impromptu date night last weekend, only the second time we've been out just the two of us since Peyton was born, and it was lovely. We're also going out for Valentine's Day, which will be beaut.
This week I've booked myself in for an afternoon of pampering to use up some vouchers I got for Christmas. I'm having a full body aromatherapy massage and my nails doing. Then, if that wasn't enough, on Saturday I'm going for a full day spa day with my mum. I realised, when spilling my heart out to Tom after a particularly bad day, that I've only ever left Peyton for longer than an hour or so when I've been doing my keeping in touch days at work. I've not been and done anything for me (apart from my 45 minute nail appointment once a month) since she's been born. Some of you will read that in complete shock and, yes, I know that's probably not healthy, but I just hate asking people to look after her. I know I shouldn't, but I don't like to feel like I'm putting people out. Or for people to think I am palming her off. So I've only ever left her when my mum and dad have offered.

This was when my mum looked after Peyton a few weeks ago - her face just makes me melt!
Going back to work I will naturally get more time to myself back, so that will be lovely. I'll be able to nip to Tesco on my dinner and stroll round at leisure, and pop into Lidl quickly without having to get her out of her car seat, into a trolley with a seat, quickly go in for the two things I need, then put her back in the car seat. It's a lot just for a few things.

Anyway, I'll just give you a little update on what's new with us since I last wrote a post.


Peyton now has two teeth! The first cut on Christmas Eve and the second just a couple of weeks later. She hasn't been as bad as I thought she would with them. The disturbed sleep started around the time of the first one cutting, but the second one didn't seem to cause too much trouble.

I'm not sure how long we'll have now until her next one(s) come through. We've got a teething anklet which she's worn from about three months. I would definitely recommend these to people, it's definitely helped her. We lost her first one (I say 'lost', she'd kicked it off and it fell down the side of the cot - so we only found it when we were lowering the cot down to its lowest setting!) just as her first tooth cut and she was definitely more unhappy. When her second one cut, and I'd bought some replacements, we didn't really notice too much.

She looks so funny now with her two little teeth on the bottom. It's weird how it's made her look so different. It makes me sad that the gummy smile is no more now, though.

A few people have asked if she's been biting me when feeding, and I can't really say she has. When her first one cut she bit me twice in consecutive feeds. I'd read tips on what to do in cases of biting so I was prepared. I simply just unlatched her, told her no and waggled my finger (in proper teacher style). She cried, which made me feel bad, but when I put her back on she didn't do it again. After the second time she hasn't done it since. Not even when her second tooth cut.

I expect that'll all change when her top ones come through, as now her tongue covers the bottom ones, but we shall see...


She's very much on the move now!! She'd been looking like she was going to set off crawling since Christmas. She kept getting on all fours and rocking back and forth, but never went anywhere. Then, literally overnight, the day before she was seven months, she got it. It was a Saturday morning, she'd got us up mega early, and we were downstairs playing and she just set off.

And just like that, she was off. She got really fast, really quick, too. The poor cats stand no chance now she's on the move! 

I also need eyes in the back of my head because she wants everything she's not supposed to have. In particular, the cat food, the scratching post and the cat bed.

She's also, this week, learnt to pull herself up at things. It started with her activity table but now it's the tv unit, the sofa, the stairs...

We've had a few tumbles but she's a tough cookie; she doesn't bat an eyelid anymore.

I swear I must say "what are you doing now?!" at least 50 times a day at the moment. Each time I do she just flashes me the cheekiest smile.

She's woken up from her nap while I've been writing this and is now standing at the coffee table smacking it continuously. When Tom's off on Tuesday we really, really need to baby proof the house.

I'm talking corner protectors, stair gates - the lot!


Weaning is going really, really well.

She has really taken so well to baby led weaning and absolutely loves exploring the different textures and tastes; probably more the textures! She loves making a mess.

She's eating so much more now, properly taking bites out of things and eating almost everything I give her. Of course, we still have meal times where she isn't fussed, but I don't let it bother me.

I'm still breastfeeding - although how much longer for I am not too sure - and that's her sole nutritional source until she's one. With regards to breastfeeding, I'll see what happens when I go back to work and she starts nursery. I had said I didn't still want to be feeding when I went back to work, as I can't be faffed having to express while at work everyday, but I'm just not sure what to do with regards to formula. She's still so temperamental with a bottle and her cups aren't big enough for the amount of formula she'd require. So I'm a bit up in the air, still. I'm just going to follow her lead. But, as soon as she's one, I'm going to try weaning her off the boob (if she hasn't started already) and giving her cups of cows milk in place of a boob feed.

For now, though, food is going really well.

We went out for Tom's birthday to Fazenda in Leeds and there were four people on the table next to us. They were probably in their 60s, maybe 70s, and they came over when we were leaving to say how well behaved she was and how good she was at eating. It was so nice to hear, especially when sometimes we go out she can be a bloody nightmare and I feel like she's annoying everyone around us!


We've booked our first family holiday!

We are going back to Dubai, but this time as a three.

I was originally looking at the Med/Canaries, but after getting the lovely lady in Hays Travel to look in those areas, Tom arrived and asked her to look at Dubai. I must give her credit, though, she found exactly what we wanted within our budget (which I didn't think would be possible!)

So we are heading off to Dubai for a week in September. I absolutely can't wait, and it's just the motivation I needed to stop eating crap and focus on shifting the rest of this baby weight. I wonder how long I can keep calling it "baby weight" before I have to just admit I'm chubby and can't stop eating?

This was in Dubai on our honeymoon; what I'd do for that body back now!
I've got about a stone to go until I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight, so I'm hoping that's more than do-able. In an ideal world I'd like to be back to my wedding weight, and the weight I was when we went the first time, but I'm not sure how achievable that will be.

Going back to work will definitely help me to eat better and stop snacking, so fingers crossed I am a bit more body confident by the time I board that plane!

New photos

After booking our holiday we realised we needed to get Peyton a passport. I could think of nothing more stress-inducing than trying to get her to sit still in a booth to get a photo for it, so went to a lady in Selby who has a studio in our Selby office.

She was absolutely amazing! I wish my passport picture was as cute as hers.

While we were there, Natalya did a little photoshoot with Peyton. I wish I'd been more prepared and put her in something more photoshoot worthy (or even just made sure her socks matched her outfit a bit better, but hey ho!) but they're still beaut.

Here are some of our faves...

We also went back to the people who did our wedding photos (and my maternity and Peyton's newborn) for her six month shoot. We are off to view those a week tomorrow, but here's the sneak peek we got from that...

And I think that's it...

I can't think of anything else major that's happened since I last wrote a post. 

It feels like loads has happened in a short space of time with Peyton. She's still such a happy, cheeky, funny little girl though, whose personality is really starting to come out now.

I am now on the four week countdown to returning to work and, while I'm excited, I'm quite apprehensive/nervous, too. It's going to be a big change for us all but it'll be nice to get some proper structure and routine into our lives; instead of being ruled by Peyton all day, every day!

I've been on a bit of a mission today and used Peyton's nap time to write some other posts. If you want to have a read now, here they are:

Mum Guilt - Click here to read

Sleep training - Click here to read

I'd better wrap it up now because Peyton's trying to batter down the kitchen door to go terrorise the poor cat some more!

Sleep training

Sleep training can be quite a controversial topic: everyone has their own opinion on what is the right and wrong thing to do. Everyone has methods they claim work and, like everything with motherhood, everyone has an opinion on what you are doing.

Since before Christmas Peyton's sleep has been atrocious. 

She's only ever "slept through" a handful of times (and by slept through I mean 8pm-6am, or there or thereabouts).

Some will say that sleeping through is anything over something like six or seven hours, but I need more than that to function so I don't count it unless it's a solid 10+ hours.

Anyway, I digress, we've never been blessed with a string of nights with no wake-ups. This came to a head around Christmas, when her first tooth came through, and she started waking up every hour. Then it was every 2-3 hours. It was horrific. She didn't even wake up that much when she was new.

I was absolutely exhausted. I didn't feel like myself, everything was a struggle and I definitely wasn't being the best mum I could be to P.

It gradually got better, but she was still waking so many times a night. We started bringing bedtime forward, as I wondered if she was maybe over tired. She only has two - sometimes three if she wakes up really early - naps a day, and these are one hour each, max. We were starting getting her ready for bed at 8, usually for her to be asleep by 8.30, but brought this forward by an hour.

She was going to sleep by 7.30/7.45, no problem (I say no problem, I'll come back to this!) but was then waking up, without fail, 45 minutes later every single night. I'd get her back to sleep and then she'd wake up an hour later. Each time she was completely inconsolable - sobbing so much. More often than not the only way I could settle her/get her back to sleep was to feed her.

We'd then maybe get a couple of hours before she was awake again, usually around 11/12. This was always the worst wake up because I'd not been asleep that long and it's awful when you've just got into a deep sleep to be woken up. I'd feed her again and put her back down and, if we were lucky, she'd sleep till 6/7.

If not, she'd wake again around 4. This is always a dodgy time because, if I don't get to her before she wakes herself up, she thinks it's time for the day and getting her back to sleep is the biggest challenge.

I am tired just reliving it all. And that's when it got better!

I started researching different sleep consultants but everyone had a really long waiting list; and I couldn't go on as we were any longer. Every night I was becoming more and more aware that I'm back at work soon; and there's no way I'd manage full days at work on the minimal sleep I've been getting.

After speaking to my best friend, she suggested I try gentle controlled crying.

I'd never really considered controlled crying before. It always brought connotations of just leaving a baby to cry it out until they go to sleep. In a sense, that is it, but you don't leave them totally. You go in and check at intervals, settle them back down/lie them down, and then leave again.

I've tried a similar method before - I'd leave her three minutes, go back after four, then after five each time after that. But this never worked. I think, after doing some research, this is because the intervals were too short.

I got to the stage where I would try anything.

We've got into such terrible habits with sleep. 

During the day she will only be rocked to sleep or sleep while we're out in her pram/the car. There was a time when she'd only sleep on me, but I have been able to put her down in her cot/on the sofa once she's been rocked to sleep.

It's all well and good rocking her to sleep, but she's 17lbs now and that's a lot to be rocking twice a day.

Night times, she'd only ever be fed to sleep. That's always been fine, but I realised that she was stirring, soon after going down, and no longer had that comfort there anymore and was getting upset. The same when I had to rock her back to sleep after she woke up. She fell asleep being rocked but woke up and that was no longer happening, so got upset.

I've had to put on my big girl pants to try this new method. I downloaded some research into The Ferber Method and got a handy guide on how many minutes to leave her each time. I set the timer on my phone, because I knew otherwise I'd go back in after 30 seconds, and we were off.

We started on Friday. When it came to afternoon nap time I decided that was the perfect time. I put her in her sleeping bag and took her up to her cot. We had a cuddle and I put her down and, sure enough, she started whining.

I went in at each interval stated and, eventually, after 40 minutes, she was asleep.

It was bloody hard. Each time she cried she was sitting herself up and I swear at one point she fell asleep sitting up. The last time I went in I said to myself that it would be the last 10 minutes we did and if she wasn't asleep the next time I checked then we'd give up. Anyway, I went in and laid her back down, rubbed her belly a few times and said "ssh" and she was off. 

We did the same at bedtime and it took the same time. We had the same thing, sitting up and crying, falling asleep sitting up, but when I went in and laid her down she eventually fell asleep.

Yesterday was day two. Her morning nap it took just 15 minutes for her to fall asleep. It didn't seem anywhere near as hard. Bedtime took 30 minutes but it was the first time she laid herself back down and went to sleep without me having to go in and do it.

I've never had to leave her to cry longer than 10 minutes, she's always fallen asleep by herself either in that time or before.

We're on day three now and she fell asleep about 20 minutes ago. It took just over 15 minutes and, again, she was sitting up crying. I went in after 10 minutes and laid her down but by the time I'd got back downstairs she was sat back up. Within two minutes, though, she'd laid down and was asleep (or so I thought!) After about two minutes she was back sitting up crying again, which didn't last long before she laid back down and fell asleep.

Not only has she been going to sleep better, but the two nights since we started this she has been sleeping better, too.

Gone are the wake-ups once she's gone down. The first night she didn't stir until gone 2am when she had a feed, then she stirred a little at 4am, then was up at 6.45am.

Last night, she woke up for a very brief five minutes just gone 3.15am, other than that she slept from 7.30pm-6am with no disturbances. She'd stir, but she soon rolled over and went straight back to sleep. Previously she'd have started crying as soon as she stirred and needed me to go in and re-settle her.

Controlled crying isn't for everyone. And a lot of people can be really negative about it.

I've seen a lot about it this week. I'm not sure whether that's because me and Soph discussed it, and I started trying it. They do say you notice things more when you suddenly start doing them. A lot of what I've seen has been negative, but I've also seen it recommended. 

A lot of research has been done into controlled crying and, while it's not nice to listen to, it has proven that it doesn't cause any harm to babies and can help them sleep better. The two nights that we have done it, I can certainly vouch for the latter. I've also found that if I've busied myself with something the minutes haven't gone by too slowly. Yesterday, for example, I did the dusting and cleaned the bathrooms.

But it isn't for everyone, and I get that.

I just really wanted her to be able to be put down awake, and get herself to sleep. I'm conscious of when she's at nursery the staff won't be able to sit cuddling her for 45 minutes while she has her naps and she'll need to learn to sleep on her own in a cot. They might not mind rocking her to sleep, but I'm sure they wouldn't want to be doing it two to three times a day. If I can get her to settle better, and sleep better, it'll be better for everyone.

I'm really hoping we've finally turned a corner now. Bedtime has been such a stressful experience since she started refusing a bottle. Since then, she's only wanted me and it's been really, really hard. But, after two nights of decent sleep, I already feel a million times better. I just hope it isn't one of those things where you finally click then something else goes wrong!