What a difference a decade makes

I had to renew my driving licence the other day. I got the letter in the post a few days after having Peyton, shoved it in my handbag and tried not to forget about it.

The letter stated my licence needed renewing as I had held it for 10 years (TEN YEARS?!) I couldn't believe. I remember it like it was yesterday applying for my provisional and getting it through the post a couple of months before my 17th birthday.

I'd just finished school and was about to start college.

Here's a selfie from 2008 - proper MySpace!

Note my Beanie Baby in the corner...cute!
As I stood in the Post Office renewing it (I know I could've done it online, before anyone jumps in, but I couldn't remember my login details.) I thought about how much had happened in those 10 years. College, university, graduation, starting my career as a journalist, buying a house, getting engaged, getting married, having a baby... I also thought about how much will have happened by the time I renew next time.

Peyton will be 10 -at this moment in time it seems absolutely ludicrous to imagine having a 10-year-old daughter - and will probably be relishing in all those pre-teen hormones that will either make us best friends or her hate me. She may also have a brother or sister - maybe more than one. But let's not count our chickens before they've hatched just yet, ey.

We'll probably have moved house, too, and definitely will have changed our cars again. Will we have more pets? Ask Tom, he'll say we'll never get a dog, but he may be persuaded.

I've glossed over the biggest shocker, though. I will be 36, almost 37, and Tom will be 37. Late thirties, holy hell.

It literally feels like five minutes since I was 16. I remember, like it was yesterday, finishing school, going to prom, getting my GCSE results, starting college, going on my first night out...

A photo from said night out. Facebook has just informed me it was September 26, 2008.
FYI, my first night out was in Goole and I wasn't quite 17. I remember thinking my hangover the next morning was the worst thing ever. LOL at little young, naive me. I remember sitting in my dad's car after he picked me up from my friend's the next morning drinking fizzy Lucozade and eating a Mars Bar while my head felt a bit fuzzy and I was tired from little sleep. Oh to have "hangovers" like that again!

10 years ago was also when Tom and I met at college.

This picture isn't quite 10 years old, but near enough!
It's amazing to reflect on all of the things that have happened in the last decade. Hell, at the moment it's crazy enough looking at everything that's happened in the last 12 months.

Part of me wishes I'd started this blog years before I did, so I could relive some of my thoughts and feelings from college and early uni days. Even now when I look bucket some of my earlier blog posts it makes me smile (and sometimes cringe) at what I used to write about. Reading them back, I can so clearly remember my mood and the place I was at in my life when I wrote each post. I love how the topics I write about have evolved as things in my life have changed.

My blog has always been like a diary for me - or just really cheap therapy - and often the big things happening in my life are the things I write about most. Right now, it's baby-related. Of course, when I was 21 and graduating university I had no reason to write a blog about breastfeeding! Other things I've covered in recent years have included Slimming World, wedding planning, pregnancy...

I've never had a specific genre for my blog. By that I mean it's not a place solely for fashion/beauty/make-up tips (I know sweet FA about any of those things so definitely wouldn't be able to string enough sentences together to create regular blog content!)

In 10 years time I can't wait to read back on all these posts I am writing at the moment and remember everything that's happening in my life now. The things that, at the time of writing, seemed to significant and important but, in reality, will be long forgotten in a decade's time.

The queue in the Post Office was really long, incase you didn't guess.

Also, on a side note, getting a new driving licence means my photo no longer looks like I have a floating head. Yes, 16-year-old me went to the Post Office to apply for my first licence and get my photos taken in a cream turtle neck top. This, against the creamy/white background in the booth and the black and white effect on the photo, made me look like a floating head on my licence. It was always a source of a joke from someone when I showed them my ID.


The trials and tribulations of breastfeeding in the first fortnight

By the time Peyton was 12-days-old, I was ready to throw the towel in with breastfeeding. I was exhausted both mentally and physically.

Since we brought her home from hospital, at one day old, she has been fed from the boob. And let me tell you, it's bloody hard work.

All the way through being pregnant I said I wanted to breastfeed her. I have always admired people who have breastfed their babies and loved seeing well-known public figures normalising it and not shying away from the fact they fed their babies on the boob. I also always loved seeing women feed in public. It's something I've always been apprehensive of, but I'll come to that later.

I also thought that breastfeeding was the easy option, compared to formula feeding. LOL. How wrong was I.

I thought it would be easier than feeding her formula because it meant no sterilising, no waiting for water to boil and then to cool, no re-heating bottles, no faffing about, no need to worry about going out for the day and forgetting a bottle...

As it turns out, breastfeeding is bloody hard work. And I commend all women who try it, persevere with it and manage to feed their little ones for long periods of time.

When Peyton was born, during our initial skin-to-skin contact I tried breastfeeding her straight away. She wasn't having any of it. She just cried and cried and cried, getting really, really distressed. She just wasn't latching properly and the more I tried, the more distressed she got. We tried through my first night in hospital, with four different people coming to try and help. Each of them told me something different, which made it even more confusing, harder and distressing for us both. In the end, she ended up having the pre-made bottles that we'd taken in with us as an emergency "just incase breastfeeding didn't work".
I felt so relieved when she was guzzling away on the bottle as I could tell she was really hungry. Each time she needed a feed, I tried offering her the boob. We did skin-to-skin beforehand and tried every different technique to get her to latch, but nothing worked.

When we got home the night after she was born I tried to feed her myself again and, to my amazement, she latched on straight away and guzzled away for 20 minutes on each side. I couldn't believe it!

We spent our first weekend at home practising breastfeeding. Basically every visitor to our house got a glimpse of boob/nipple over those first few days. I've learnt it's the quickest way to clear a room sometimes, to say she needs a feed and to start unfastening my top! Her latch still wasn't great, though, and I was starting to get quite sore. A trip to the midwife, armed with pictures and videos of how she was feeding, and I felt loads more confident.

That was, until day 12. Day 12 was horrible. It has been so, so, SO hot and, on the hottest of days, Peyton has been feeding every 45-60 minutes once we pass dinner time. Day 12 was the worst day so far. I was absolutely exhausted - both mentally and physically. In between feeds - that little break I got - she was so hot and over tired that she just couldn't settle. From 9am until 7pm she had two small 30 minute naps and that was it. It was about 4.30pm when I broke down and cried.

I didn't feel like I was producing enough milk for her, and that's why she was feeding so regularly. I couldn't go for a lie down to recharge my batteries, because no sooner had I put her down and got upstairs then she needed feeding again. I was getting so sore again and so, so tired. After she finally fell asleep at 7pm, I felt so much better. I needed the rest (and to keep my boobs to myself for a bit!) I also felt stupid for getting so upset - knowing full well it wouldn't help either of us.

I joined a group on Facebook that was for breastfeeding support and suddenly realised there was nothing wrong with me or Peyton. Everyone on there was saying the same thing - it was the heat. I felt such a weight lift off me and didn't want to let this shake my new-found confidence.

I was trying to build myself up to feeding in public, as I knew that would be a big hurdle to get over.

Last Sunday (11-days-old) we went to Howden Show and I fed her on a bench at a park in Howden. It was probably the quietest place in the whole town - we didn't see a single person. Two days before that we'd been to the seaside and I fed her in the pub we had lunch in. I wasn't overly confident at getting her latched on in public, and we were sat right in the middle of loads of people, so I took her into the baby change to get her latched on. Once she was happy, I threw a muslin over us and carried on feeding outside.

By day 13, I'd turned a corner and fed her in public in the tea room at Yorkshire Lavender. The following day, I fed her in Starbucks (completely on my own this time!)

As I was feeding her, another lady with a pram approached me and asked if she could sit with me and feed her baby, too. Everyone who passed us looked at us and I was worried they'd think we were some sort of breastfeeding mafia taking over the corner of the coffee shop. Instead, they all smiled our way. I felt so much more confident right after that, like I could really do this breastfeeding thing.

The first two weeks have been really hard, don't get me wrong. There have been times I've wanted to just give up and reclaim my boobs as my own, but I'm so glad I've persevered through it. It's still really hard. Today has been another tough one, with it being so hot again. I think I must be one of the only people in the country desperate for it to cool down and rain!!


My birth story

One week after her estimated due date, at 11 minutes past five in the afternoon, Peyton Rose Kershaw  entered the world at York Hospital. Weighing 7lb 12oz, with a full head of hair, she stole our hearts instantly.

I know birth stories aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I loved reading other people’s even before I got pregnant but especially so when I was expecting. I’m writing this more for us to always remember, and for Peyton to read one day.

It’s going to be long - my labour was about 20 hours in total - so make sure you’ve some refreshments if you’re going to carry on!!

So, I’ll start by setting the scene a bit of you.

My due date was calculated as being Wednesday, June 13. Throughout my pregnancy people kept telling me they didn’t think I’d get to my due date because I was so big. I had started to believe all this because by the time 13th June arrived, I was already fed up and felt overdue!

We’d opted to do hypnobirthing classes while pregnant. After reading lots about it, and hearing all the positive birth experiences, we really wanted to emulate this. I know every birth is different, and some things can’t be controlled, practiced or rehearsed, but we wanted to give it the best shot we could at being as calm, relaxed and natural as possible.

For those not aware, hypnobirthing is essentially training yourself to use breathing and relaxation techniques to keep you calm and relaxed during your labour and make your birth much more empowering and controlled.

We did our classes with Sandra Stones who has her own hypnobirthing company based in Cottingham, near Hull. She was absolutely fab and her classes had just six of us in, which made them feel really personal. The classes themselves were great, as was the support from Sandra and the materials we took away to practice until the big day.

Practice included: practicing relaxation techniques each evening; practicing breathing techniques for during contractions and during the “pushing” stage; reading scripts and positive affirmations; and listening to relaxation passages.

We both felt totally prepared going into the labour and just simply needed things to get going!

I had a sweep at my doctors on June 14th (one day overdue) which wasn’t all too successful. The midwife struggled to reach my cervix (due to its positioning and baby’s head being so low) so she didn’t managed to do the sweep.

I had a second sweep on the Monday (five days overdue) and things had already progressed from the previous attempt. The midwife was able to get in and do the sweep, but still said my cervix was a bit far back. She booked me in for another sweep that Thursday (21st June) and said at that appointment they would book me in to be induced the following week.

On the Tuesday morning I woke up with tightenings and “cramps” in my lower tummy. I lay in bed for a while, watching Desperate Housewives, and kept changing position to see if they continued. I’d been getting Braxton Hicks for some time now and each time they got a bit more intense and lasted a bit longer, and I thought things were starting.

As I went and met my mum things eased off slightly. And, by tea time, the twinges were still coming.

When we were going to bed, I said to Tom I was still having these twinges and cramps no matter what position I was sat/stood/laying in and whether I tried to walk them off. They were also getting a bit more intense. Every time I started to drop off to sleep I’d get a twinge, which straight away woke me up.

By 1.30am, they were getting quite uncomfortable and intense. They were also coming more regularly.

I didn’t want to wake Tom, as I wasn’t sure how long this early stage was going to last for and I wanted to make sure he was fully rested and ready for the long day that lay ahead. I came downstairs, bounced on my ball, paced around the room, watched Desperate Housewives, and, more importantly, practiced my relaxation and breathing techniques.

I had the breathing though each contraction down to a fine art, although they were getting quite intense and I had to be standing during each one.

At 5am, I decided to have a bath. Not just to keep me relaxed but to ease the intensity of the contractions. They were starting to get really regular by this time, every three to four minute and lasting anything from 45 to 80 seconds. I found it really help me focus to time them, I’m not sure why!

At 6am I got out the bath and decided Tom had had enough sleep and needed to help me out now. As I stood at the end of the bed, gripping my dressing table and breathing my way through the intensity I saw his eyes open. I took my opportunity:

“It’s time!!!”

These were the only words I could muster and I could see the look of confusion plastered across his face.

“Time for what? Work?” He asked.

I think the penny soon dropped because, before I could answer, he shot out of bed. He got my hospital notes and rang them, although had only been awake a matter of minutes so wasn’t too sure what was going on. As he passed the phone to me I was hanging out of our bedroom window (trying to cool down, it hadn’t got that bad!) and gripping the windowsill.

The lady on the phone asked various questions which I answerd in between breathing deeply and keeping focused on the matter at hand. She said I needed to get into hospital and advised we set off straight away.

As we rushed to the car, I really hoped things were as far along as they seemed. The last thing I’d want is to get there and them to send us home because it wasn’t far enough along yet.

We arrived just after 7am and were seen pretty much straight away, and I was 4cm dilated! They admitted us into the delivery ward and we were on - “your baby is being born today,” the lady said to us.

We couldn’t belive it!

Pretty much from the start of the pregnancy we’d said we’d like a water birth, and this was solidified after doing hypnobirthing. We told our midwife and she began prepping one of the two pools at York. We had been worried there wouldn’t be a pool free - it seems this was unnecessary as both rooms appeared to be used more as rooms to store spare beds in rather than give birth!

Once the pool was ready we headed over. We’d got some little battery operated tea light candles to try and help set the scene, as well as some nice smelling Temple Spa room spray. The hospital also has aromatherapy in the rooms which we opted to use. Once the “big lights”’ were off and the lowly lit coloured lights were on, I felt like I was in a spa. It smelt beaut, and the whole aura was just so relaxing. I'd downloaded a playlist on my iPad which we took with us. It had really nice, slow, acoustic songs like Ed Sheeran, James Morrison, Sam Smith etc. It was nice to have that in the background - sometimes I found myself even managing to sing along! I was breathing through my contractions and everything was going smoothly.

By midday I was 6cm dilated. The midwife said they typically say you dilated at 0.5cm an hour. I remember thinking I didn’t wanna wait 8 more hours to fully dilate - I had already done so much I wanted her here now!!

As I kept things going, Tom helping me focus on my breathing during each contraction and helping me stay in the zone, I could tell things were picking up pace. My contractions were coming even thicker, even faster and even more intense. I had some gas & air to get me through them because I felt like they were hitting me like a train. It was around this time that my waters broke. It was so strange, the sensation of them breaking in the pool. I'd had a bit of gas and air by this point so was feeling a bit delirious. I really made Tom, and the midwife, laugh when I described some of the things that came out with my waters as looking like sea monkeys and sea horses. The midwife was quick to grab her sieve (yes, a sieve like you'd have in your kitchen cupboard to drain rice) and fished them out.

By 3pm I was fully dilated and starting to get the urge like I needed to push.

By this point, I had to sack off the gas and air. It was too hard to control my breathing while still relying on the relief of the gas and air. I knew the breathing would help me better control things and get her out easier, so went it alone.

It wasn’t long before they could see her head each time I had a contraction and I was so excited we’d be meeting her soon. I got out of the pool because I was getting restless - I didn’t know what position I wanted to be in so kept trying everything. As I was on all fours on a sofa the midwife noticed something on one of the pads below. She took it away as she was concerned baby had done a poo while on her way out. Tom asked her: “are you sure it wasn’t, Nat?”

The midwife came back and said it was definitely meconium, from the baby, and they wanted me to go in another room over the corridor so that they could strap me onto the monitor. This would make sure that Peyton was ok and would check her during each contraction.

No sooner had I moved over onto the other room and been strapped onto the machine, the midwife said she thought they needed to intervene. Each time I was pushing they could see Peyton's head, but I couldn't muster the energy or the strength to breathe her out that final bit and she kept slipping back.

The midwife said they wanted to do a ventouse delivery, which is basically a little suction cup they put on baby's head when you have a contraction and help her come out while I pushed. The room quickly filled with another midwife, a lady with a big tray of very sharp looking tools, and a man with a resuscitation table.

My midwife assured me that the resuscitation machine was brought in for every assisted delivery just to be on the safe side, but nine times out of ten it wasn't needed.

As the lady with all the tools started inspecting, she told me I needed an episiotomy. By this point, I was past caring what they did to me - we both just wanted Peyton out safe.

As she injected me with local anaesthetic, she made a start on the episiotomy. Everything from here feels like a bit of a blur.

I was told that on my next contraction to push and breathe down as normal and the lady would feel where she needed to attach the cup. The one after that, she attached the cup. The third one, I had to push and breathe down as she sucked the head out.

Once the head was out, I had to get her shoulders out myself. That was a bit more tricky than I thought, but it didn't take long and she was out.

They quickly slapped her onto my chest and she did a little squeak. No sooner had she been placed there and she was rushed off to be checked over. By this point she was full on squealing, so I was positive everything was okay.

As I was stitched up, Tom and Peyton had some skin to skin bonding time.

I tell you now, being stitched up was worse than the labour itself. I hadn't had any gas and air since getting out of the pool but I was chugging it like it was going out of fashion while she was stitching me back up. It felt like it lasted ages, as well!

Before long, I had her on my chest - and it was amazing. All those months of growing her, feeling every wriggle and kick and movement, the sickness at the beginning, and the longish labour - it was all worth it.

She had so much hair - suddenly all the indigestion made sense - and her eyes were amazingly big. She was just amazing. Our beautiful baby girl was finally here and we were now the perfect little family.

I would honestly recommend hypnobirthing to anyone considering it, as I would a water birth.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a painless experience, but by controlling my breathing, staying relaxed and keeping calm I could control the pain myself and keep in control of what was happening. When it  was over, I felt so incredibly empowered. I felt amazing, I couldn't believe what my body had just achieved.

I honestly could not have done it without Tom. When I started to lose it, and my breathing went a bit awry, he straight away got me back on track and did all the things we practiced all those nights leading up to her birth.

The whole thing was just an amazing experience and we have the most incredibly beautiful little baby girl to show for it.