Hypnobirthing || What’s it all about?

I filmed a little video for my Youtube channel chatting about my experience with Hypnobirthing and why I am completely in love with it. After filming a few people asked a couple more questions so rather than chatting and waffling for too long in another video I thought I’d jot down some extra thoughts here. Hope its helpful if you’re expecting a bubba!

Also, just quickly before we start, a disclaimer that I am by no means a Hypnobirthing expert. I read and LOVED Katharine Graves Hypnobirthing book and based my birth around what I learnt in that book. So just see this as one mum’s findings to another x

Was the hospital receptive to our hypnobirthing plans?

Yes, they were amazing. We live in Brighton: Yoga studios round every corner, vegan cafes more common than Starbucks and a hub for The Green Party. So I suppose its unsurprising that the local hospital has a very holistic attitude too (with 3 birthing pool rooms compared to the country’s average of 1). But I would hope that wherever you live midwives would always respect the decisions of you, the mother, whether or not its an idea that they are used to.

Near the end of your pregnancy you have an appointment with a midwife when you chat through your hopes for the birth. Would you like a water birth? Home birth? Do you know the different pain relief options on offer to you? It was at this point that we wrote down in our notes that we would be using the Hypnobirthing method for the birth.

A large part of hypnobirthing is about protecting you during labour. Enabling you to keep your mind calm and focused and not having to think about any unnecessary details. This gives your birth partner a very important role: Henry (my lovely husband) was the point of contact for anyone we came in to contact with whilst in labour. If they had any concerns or any questions whilst I was in labour we wrote down in our notes that they needed to speak to Henry quietly before coming to me. I didn’t want to feel like I needed to be chatting with and making small talk with a midwife whilst also trying to focus on the biggest challenge I had ever faced. I also didn’t want to hear any concerns they had unless I really needed to, so as not to get me unnecessarily worried or stressed. So Henry was my protection, a buffer to the outside world!

We also wrote in our notes that I hoped for a water birth. Which meant when we got in to hospital in labour they were able to glance at my notes and get a pool room prepared quickly. Speed was everything at this point, every moment out of the pool felt like a lifetime!

I had also decided for myself (it is a very personal decision though, definitely no right or wrong) that I didn’t want to be examined. For me it felt intrusive and I felt like it would pull me out of my calm, safe state. Basically, I wanted to be left to my own devices as much as physically possible. To let my body do what it needed to do and to not put timings on to it.

The midwives were respectful of our wishes. I did though end up having one examination when I first arrived, and although I had said beforehand that I wouldnt want it, when it came to it I actually felt fine and was quite intrigued to know how far long I was. But after that one examination I got in the pool and wasn’t examined again. That’s another thing with all your birth hopes. They are helpful to think through carefully and to have in your mind but it is also important to go in to hospital (or home, if you’re having your baby there!) with an open mind that things might change and plans might shift) Hypnobirthing educates you in all these different scenarios so that if you are asked to agree to something you know exactly what you are agreeing to, rather than just blindly following the hospital’s advice.

One example being: You are offered an injection to help expel the placenta after birth. Katherine Graves explains in her book what this injection actually does and any affects it may have on your body. Having read about it I decided that I was open to either scenario. If I was able to have a natural, intervention free birth then my preference was to avoid the injection and let the placenta come naturally but I also didn’t want to spend my first few minutes as a new mum worrying about a placenta so I was also happy to have the injection if needed. It was less about the actual injection and more about feeling knowledgable and knowing that it was my body and my decision.

What daily Hypnobirthing exercises did I do?

I read the book through twice before starting any of the exercises and then slowly read through it a third time in the last few weeks of pregnancy. From 30 weeks onwards every evening when we got in to bed I would practise the different breathing techniques- Up breathing for the contractions and Down breathing for the birth. You can practise them anywhere at any time but I liked doing them in the evening as so much of Hypnobirthing is about creating a calm atmosphere. I would light a few candles (my fave vanilla ones) and relax in our cosy bed, feeling completely calm and safe. A feeling that you want to be able to remember, almost tangibly, when in labour. I would close my eyes and practise the breathing while Henry read one of the relaxation/visualisation stories. It normally didn’t take much longer than 10 minutes or so but I found it such a lovely way to re centre my mind each day and to have time to think about the birth in a really calm, safe setting.

At first we found the visualisations a bit cringey. Henry couldn’t usually get through one with a straight face, he’d crease up at some point whilst conjuring up images of far off desert islands. But even in amongst the jokes I found it incredibly relaxing and actually really powerful and helpful to be able to laugh together and just generally feel really casual about our impending task.

Did you find some exercises more helpful than others?

For me, the most helpful thing was practising the breathing techniques, along with the up and down visualisations (all this will make more sense once you’ve read the book). I practised the breathing every day, I wanted it to feel like second nature by the time the labour came around, so that I could use it to its full potential rather than it feeling forced and un natural. I also found the visualisations that go along with the breathing really helpful (e.g. bubbles floating upwards. Again, read the book and all will make sense!)

For me the relaxation stories were less helpful. We still read through them in the run up to the birth but I didn’t actually use them at all in labour.

The book also talks about choosing a few positive affirmations to have ready to say to yourself during labour. Henry knew them as well and I found it incredibly encouraging to have him saying them, along with saying them in my own head, when moments felt overwhelming. Because we had chosen them and spoken before hand they felt familiar and therefore comforting. It also meant Henry had some nice, simple things he knew to say that would help me rather than him floundering and not really knowing what to say/how to help.

When should you start practising Hypnobirthing?

It’s never too late, even if you’re due date is tomorrow I would still thoroughly recommend you get your hands on Katharine’s book asap! But the general idea is that you start putting it into action from 30 weeks. I think any earlier and you’re not quite ready mentally to start thinking about labour. With still so many weeks to go its better to focus on the pregnancy and looking after yourself. But from 30 weeks onwards is the perfect time to start your training! I found the book got me really excited for birth. Rather than the fear of this impending, un known battle I found myself feeling positive and calm and excited to take on the challenge.

If you are drawing closer to your due date and any fears are setting in my last thoughts, before I stop waffling on, would be to remember that your body was designed to do this. Birth feels like an impossibility but it is incredible the way your body adapts to the challenge. Picture the baby that you are going to meet at the end, remind yourself that you were made for this challenge, practise those long, calm deep breaths and know that you have got this!

Lots of love, Ruth x

 

 

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The power of kindness

So, I don’t want this post to turn in to a pity party. But lets just start with the facts:

Henry (my husband) is away in South Africa for 8 days. I am pregnant and Jet, our 18 month old has a stinking cold (thanks November). He woke up this morning really irritable and just not really much fun to be around. I’m shattered and not feeling super well myself. But I’d been getting through the morning okay, pouring all my energy in to being positive around Jet and trying to distract him from his poorly, snotty, sore throat, bad mood.

I thought it was best to escape the house for an hour so we popped over to a new café that we’ve discovered in our area. Its amazing if you’ve got little ones. It has loads of toys and space for them to run around but it also serves actual, good coffee. Shock horror. A café can suit kids and adults.

I am also quite behind on some work, not lots, just a few emails that had deadlines that I needed to get out today. I settled down at a table and Jet ran off to play. I was quickly trying to ping out at least one of my emails when I noticed a mum pull Jet off her little girl.

I missed the actual moment, but the little girl had a toy phone so I’m pretty sure Jet set his eyes on it and wanted to get hold of it, giving no thought to the poor girl.

I got down to Jet’s level and removed his grasp from the girls phone. At this point the mum hissed at me:

‘He just pushed and hit my daughter’

It’s funny isn’t it, how in just a moment we can totally change someone’s day. I had been coasting along trying to keep it together and in that one sentence that mum completely knocked the wind out of my sails and made me feel like such an atrocious parent.

She said it with such venom and judgment.

The reality is, Jet is 18 months. I am absolutely not condoning what he did. Trust me, there’s nothing I want more than to raise a kind, considerate, patient child. But, let’s be real for a moment, he’s learning boundaries, he’s learning about possession: what is mine what is yours, how can I make it mine(!)

Disciplining an 18 month old is tough. It takes a heck of a lot of repetition. Sometimes I hear myself say the same sentence SO many times I think it would be so much easier just to turn a blind eye. To pretend I haven’t seen him stand up in his high chair for the millionth time that meal and to just drink my tea and hope he sits back down. But I’m trying, I’m trying to be patient and persistent.

And you’d hope, of all the other people out there, mums would get it the most.

It also got me thinking about the fact that we never know someone else’s story, how their day’s been, what has got them to this point where you’ve just crossed paths.

She didn’t know that I’m flying solo with a poorly toddler. And she didn’t really care. She just wanted justice for her little girl (who 5 minutes later was doing the same thing to a different child, oh the irony)

This really isn’t a rant, or a request for sympathy. More just an observation and something that I’ve learnt this morning.

Kindness really is so powerful, we never know where someone has come from and to give everyone the benefit of the doubt is surely always the best route to take?

That’s definitely want I want to teach Jet. To assume the best in people. For them to always leave his company feeling better and uplifted rather than judged or criticised.

Whilst still with the mum and her little girl I explained to Jet that we don’t hit our friends, that it’s nice to wave hello or to give a cuddle. But she wasn’t interested in reconciling, she pulled her daughter away back to where she was enjoying a coffee with another mum and they both rolled their eyes at each other.

We didn’t last much longer, I got our stuff together and we headed back home. It’s a big café but suddenly I felt very on show.

I hate to think that I have ever made another parent feel so small or inadequate. The next time a child hits Jet I’m going to approach the parent with the biggest smile I can. In a non creepy way hopefully 😉

Anyway, enough nap time ramblings. I need to go and have a nap and start again this afternoon.

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And so it begins

I am writing this on a Friday morning, I’ve just dropped Jet off at nursery and I’m back home trying to distract myself from the little tear stained face I’ve left behind.

Its been 17 months of just me and Jet. I can’t imagine how many hours we’ve spent together if you add them up over the last year and a half. With just a handful of days away from him and two nights away its fair to say he’s had a LOT of mama time. And of course, its been perfect. Perfect in a stressful and tiring and draining and lonely and precious and brilliant kinda way. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend this amount of time with him while he’s still so little. But this mama is ready for a break (ha! never before would I have called work a break, the things motherhood does)

Being self-employed is odd, there’s no boss waiting for your return and no set monthly income ready to begin again. Because of this I’ve put off returning to work, knowing that I’ll have fallen a few steps back, having to regain my place in the industry I work in. But over the past few months I had found that my patience with Jet was shortening, his bed time was getting earlier and the amount of time I was checking my emails while with him was increasing. These are not things I’m proud of, every night when I put him to bed the horrible mum guilt would wash over me, knowing I hadn’t been the best I could’ve been for him that day. Did I make him laugh enough? Did we have enough adventures? Had I given time to nurture his little, eager mind.

The conclusion that I have come to through all this, is that I need to work. For some it’s different, for others they come to this conclusion earlier on in their little ones life. For me, I need to be pursuing something outside of motherhood, something that is for me, me as Ruth, not me as Jet’s mum. Even typing that though, I start feeling guilty, maybe I’m being selfish? Can we really have everything? The work/home life balance. Who knows, but I know I need to try.

And so, enter nursery. And the trauma ensues.

We are in to week 2 now of Jet going to nursery for one morning and one afternoon a week. He also had an initial two weeks of ‘settling sessions’, shorter periods of time at nursery when I would stay for the first part and then leave him for half an hour, an hour, gradually building up.

He is finding the whole experience very overwhelming. He now starts tearing up as we turn down the road that nursery is on, recognizing where I am taking him. It is the loveliest nursery, we looked around a handful in our area and this one was by far my favourite: such friendly staff, a warm homely feel, great outdoor space and it’s own giant soft play zone! Fun!

But, I guess, for him, it’s not home. It’s all new and the staff are still not far off being strangers. Every single parent I’ve spoken to (and I’ve spoken to a lot!) insist that their little one went through the same thing and now loves nursery, some even running in without a second thought of their poor mum or dad stood at the door. I’m sure we’ll get there, we have to get there.

So, for now, I am trying to close off my heart a little bit, to choose to see the bigger picture at a time when Jet can’t. To know that this will become a really positive part of his life as he makes new friends and gets to do lots of fun, messy activities that I would never do at home. He will enjoy it and I’ll enjoy having a tiny bit of my old self back. But for now I think we both feel like we’re one whole that has been ripped in half and we’re both counting down the hours till we’re whole again.

 

Magic in the air? No, it’s just glitter.

I love hotels. Love’em. Some of mine and my little sister’s fondest memories are of family hotel stays. Running down the carpeted corridors in our socks (we thought it was the best feeling, not totally sure why, it’s not like we didn’t have carpet at home) and stealing all the watermelon balls from the melon section at the breakfast buffet. Still to this day when I hear Marriott I think of perfectly spherical melon pieces.

Fast forward a few years and the love is still there (for hotels, not melon. Actually scrap that, melons are still great) I don’t run down the corridors as often but you will definitely still always find me hovering at the breakfast buffet.

With the rise of home away from home holidays (airbnb and what not) I feel like it’s becoming more popular for people to enjoy a holiday with their home comforts but in someone else’s home. For me though, nothing beats a hotel. Magical fairies that come and make your bed and fold the end of your toilet roll, fresh slippers in a packet and a tiny fridge filled with tiny drinks. What’s not to love.

It was my birthday in August and as a surprise my husband booked a little mini break to London to stay at the Artist Residence. I’d wanted to stay there for ages, I’d heard such great things about it and it completely lived up to my expectations.

We then got an email from their mailing list a few weeks ago saying that the Brighton hotel had an autumn offer of a reduced room and free breakfast, we figured it would be rude not to. So we booked for a little one night staycation. It’s good fun holidaying in your own city. No faff of travelling, you don’t bother packing as much and you enjoy what your own city has to offer at a nice slow, leisurely pace.

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We arrived and checked in at about 4pm and went to our room to dump our stuff and have a lie down. When do you ever get to lie down at 4pm with a toddler around?!

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sweet little bedside desk with hot drinks and snacks

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We then got ourselves together and headed down to the hotel’s cocktail bar, The Cocktail Shack, to cash in on happy hour.

Hanging plants, Hawaiian print chairs. All just too perfect.

The cocktail bar was my heaven. Let’s be honest, any cocktail bar is generally my kinda heaven but throw in hanging plants, fluffy stools and neon lights and I really was like a kid in a candy shop (or a twenty something girl in a cocktail bar)

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This kinda mirror deserves a selfie

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neon light washing line. Just so great.

First off we opted for a Peaches Goldof: Prosecco, elderflower, peach liquor and gold. Everything that I love in a champagne flute.

Peaches Goldof: Peach liquor, Elderflower, Prosecco & Gold

I’d noticed while sitting waiting for our drinks that the air looked quite sparkly.

“Henry, I think there’s gold in the air” I wondered.

The bar tender bought over our looks-too-good-to-drink gold drinks and I said,

‘is it me or is the air glittery’

At that he whipped out a little spray he had in his pocket and spritzed the air with gold glitter. The air was ACTUALLY glittery. I think I died right there.

Next up we tried the Leblon James, a much stronger straight up cocktail of Leblon cachaca, plantation pineapple, Campari, ginger and Angostura. I didn’t know what half the names were but I liked the sound of pineapple! They were really nice but very strong so Henry took one for the team and enjoyed both while I went back to water.

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the Leblon James in all it’s glory

We then took a look at the menu for the hotel restaurant The Set. The starters from the restaurant were available in the cocktail bar so we tried the incredibly delicious cod croquettes.

Cod Croquettes with Squid ink taramasalata

The main menu looked experimental and amazing but a bit out of our price range for such an impromptu night away so we opted to stroll along the sea front and ended up in a BBQ meat place, much to Henry’s delight! I definitely want to go for dinner at The Set one evening, maybe for a more special occasion. The price is around £40 a head for a set menu (hence the restaurant name) you can also add on a set drinks menu to complete each course for an additional £29 (if I remember correctly, don’t quote me on that!)

We were back in our cosy room by about 9.30pm, looking out over the moonlit sea, ready for a typical parents night away early night. Ideal.

Next morning, after sleeping in till 8.30am and getting dressed without having to entertain a small child, we headed down for breakfast.

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I love all the art work choices.

As I mentioned before, I’m a sucker for a buffet. I’m also a sucker for a complimentary breakfast. Not wanting to waste any time I got stuck straight into the fresh apple juice and cereal selection. Just to start me off.

Then the next round was a flat white and a full stack of pancakes with berries and yogurt and some extra bacon thrown on top, for good measure. bright mama

We then stopped off in one of the basement meeting rooms for a quick game of ping pong before grabbing our stuff and checking out. We had to tear ourselves away. Such a beautiful little sanctuary in amongst the hustle and bustle of Brighton. The hotel is perfectly situated, looking out over the old Pier and the new i360 and a stones throw from the south lanes.

Before picking up our little boy Jet from his Auntie’s we made the most of our last few baby free hours, settling in to a coffee shop to hide from the rain with our books.

Bond Street Coffee

24 hours was over far too quickly and we’re already planning when we next might be able to escape for another baby free, pancake, ping pong, glittery, sea view mini break!

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*awkward front door pose*

Check out The Artist Residence site here to find out more and discover their other locations.

There will also be a little vlog up on my Youtube channel soon with more of our stay if you want to check that out too! x

 

 

 

 

Escaping from Jet for the night

Before I had a baby I would talk about the kind of mum I was going to be. Not wanted to be, going to be. I would talk about how my dummy free, organic eating, baby signing child was going to be perfect and fit in to my life perfectly.

I also was excited about time away from the baby before it had even arrived! I would day dream about girls weekends away, spa nights with Henry and trips away with work. I didn’t want to be too attached to the baby. I wanted it to be happy without me and able to be passed from sister to friend without a care in the world.

What I didn’t expect and didn’t see coming was that when I gave birth a part of my heart would leave my body and take residence in my new little bundle of perfection, Jet.

I underestimated the bond that was formed while he hid away inside me growing and fattening up ready for the outside world. That that bond wasn’t just a physical connection as I fed him from myself but a deep routed, heart twisting, gut wrenching love and connection.

From the moment he arrived I have only wanted his happiness. Thoughts of time away from him not only drifted away but actually filled me with total dread and angst.

When Jet was around 4 months old some friends persuaded me to go out for the evening to the cinema to see the new Bridget Jones movie. I was leaving my baby to watch a film about another baby. Obsessed much.

We didn’t leave the house until long after Jet was happily away in the land of nod. I kept checking and re checking he was okay, convinced that he knew I was abandoning him for the evening. Tearing myself away to get in the car felt as difficult as if I was trying to take half of my body out of the house whilst leaving an arm and leg in the hallway.

The film was totally fab and it was lovely to get out with my friends but I couldn’t wait to get back and sniff and squeeze Jet. I was also still breast feeding at that point so night’s out were like a strange ticking time bomb before the next feed.

Fast forward and Jet is coming up to 14 months, Henry and I have just celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary and we’re looking into booking a spa night away to celebrate (the long awaited spa night I’ve wanted since before I even met Jet!)

I used to roll my eyes at parents that had passed the one year mark without still having had a night away from their little ones. Who was I to judge?! It’s not really that I have vehemently avoided that scenario but more that an occasion hasn’t arisen. But, truthfully, I have been completely fine with that fact. I love that in his 429 days on this earth (yes I just googled it) I have kissed him goodnight all 429 times. I have been there to comfort him if he’s cried out and I’ve been there in the morning when he’s ready to start playing again. I know that he needs a little independence (which is why we’re also looking in to nurseries, but that’s for a whole other blog) and that he will very quickly learn and adjust to friends and family having him over night but I think, really, this connection has been for me. He’s my baby, what will I do when he doesn’t need me anymore? Being there for him in the night feels like a way of clinging on to those newborn days, a time when he needed me completely.

But, the time has come. I am SO up for 24 hours of uninterrupted chill time, with good food and wine and spa treatments and a LIE IN. Heaven. I’ve just got to work out how to tear myself away from my little cub for those few hours. Something that feels completely terrifying at the moment. I think as a mum there a lot of feelings that you think you’re supposed to have.  I am supposed to want to escape for a night away at any opportunity. But in reality it doesn’t feel like escaping, it feels like leaving my safe place. But I know that I will also come back refreshed and a better mum for it.

I completely trust our family that we would leave him with, but I just can’t bear to think of his little face in the night or the next morning when he realises that it isn’t me going in to scoop him up and kiss him good morning. Or maybe I’m more scared that he won’t mind? Oh, don’t get me started, I might just cry right now.

I can’t avoid it forever, I need to go away at some point in the next 18 years so we might as well start now! We’re booking our weekend away for some time in August, so I’ll let you know how it goes! I’ll be the mum lying on a sun lounger by the spa pool sobbing behind her G and T.

 

36 hours in Copenhagen

My husband, Henry, is a musician and in May was on a month long European tour. It just so happened that one of his 3 days off fell right in the middle of the trip in Copenhagen. So Jet and I booked a last minute flight (thank you BA airmiles) and we went out to see him for 36 hours.

Travelling with a baby is always an interesting experience. You never know quite how it’s going to go. Our flight was at 7am so we had to leave home at 3.30am. I packed up the car and then transferred Jet into his car seat, still in his pjs and sleeping bag and off we went. It’s an hour drive from our home in Brighton to Heathrow.

Jet did himself proud, he woke up as we parked up at Heathrow and was awake whilst we got the shuttle across to our terminal, we sat and had a little Starbucks breakfast together and he was in a great mood- I think he knew it was a little adventure!

The flight was great, only an hour twenty. We somehow found ourselves in the business section of the plane, not too sure how that happened! I didn’t complain but instead dutifully took on my fair share of free drinks. We were sat next to a business man who was very friendly but didn’t disguise his disappointment well when we plonked ourselves down on the seat next to him that he was using as a table for all his many newspapers.

Cutie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jet was awake for the first half hour of the flight, eagerly looking out of the window, grabbing Mr business man’s phone, headhones, newspaper etc etc. I had a little bucks fizz (when in Rome) and the airhostess warmed Jet’s milk up for me. He had that and then drifted off to sleep in my arms. Flipping heck, what happens to a babies head when they’re asleep?! It triples in weight. I didn’t dare move, *never* wake a sleeping baby. So I sat still looking out of the window as I slowly lost the feeling in my right arm.

We landed in Copenhagen around 9.30am. The airport was hot and Jet and I were dressed for dark, cold 3am England. I struggled my way through the airport: hot and tired and trying to juggle a baby, a cot, a changing bag, a suitcase, a buggy and airport signs in a foreign language.

We somehow found our way to the right train platform and onto the train to the centre of town, with our Copenhagen oyster card in hand. I definitely have a new appreciation for tourists in London. I think next time rather than huffing and pushing past a tourist walking painfully slow with their big hefty camera and confused expression  I might actually stop and ask if they need help. Or maybe not. It’s the thought that counts.

We arrived in to the town centre and were met by a very excited Henry. We headed straight to the hotel to dump all our stuff and for me to quickly get changed. I needed to sort out my clammy clothes and sweaty upper lip.

We then set out in search of some good coffee, it was about midday and me and Jet had already been up for about 9 hours!  We were no more than 5 paces out of hotel and I quickly realized Copenhagen was my new favourite city: the homeware shops are to. die. for.

The first shop we fell into was Bolia.com. Perfection in a shop. We’ve been doing up our house and have genuinely been talking about hiring a van and going back. I could have had one of everything.

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Those plants. Those pots.

We then strolled around, with no real direction, just oohing and ahhing at all the beautiful houses and bike lined streets. We stopped somewhere for a coffee but the buggy wasn’t allowed inside, Jet had fallen asleep anyway and so we figured it was best just to keep moving. He tends to wake as soon as the buggy stops. So we grabbed a coffee and pastry and kept strolling. We came across a huge vintage street market, literally as far as the eye could see!

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Our first coffee stop

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So many beautiful buildings. So many ‘Go stand there Henry’ moments. Poor guy.

Henry had a gig that evening so the rest of the afternoon he needed to soundcheck and do other musician-y things, Jet and I went and hung out at the venue and strolled the streets. We also found a beautiful park which took up a good hour. It was a lovely, sunny day.

I loved the street lights! They’re giant pendant lights, just like the one’s I’ve been looking for in our kitchen. I love that the streets are lined with them.

Once they were finished we set out to find some dinner. Again, we didn’t really have any real direction to our search. The trip had been very last minute and so I hadn’t done my usual holiday research, but it felt like Copenhagen is a city where you can’t really go wrong. We came across the West Market, an indoor market full of food and drinks stools. Lots of seating and highchairs, perfect for Jet who was getting very hungry so we stopped there. I downed a few Hendricks G&T’s and we feasted on pulled duck burgers and chips from Duck it!

Henry’s gig was at 10pm so after dinner I put Jet in his pjs, gave him his milk and put him to sleep in his buggy and we strolled back to the venue. He stayed asleep until just before the band were about to play. Something woke him and he was really sad so I put him in the Ergo and we stood at the back and watched daddy play.

Awful quality photo; but here we are, in the jazzy venue toilets ready to watch Jet’s daddy play.

 

Monday was Henry’s day off. We had breakfast at the hotel then set out for Coffee Collective, a friend had recommended it as Copenhagen’s best coffee so we couldn’t leave without paying a visit!

It didn’t disappoint. There are a few Coffee Collectives in Copenhagen, we went to the one  in Torvehallerne. It’s a stool inside a food market (accidently every meal we had ended up being in food markets. All of which were equally fab!)

We had a few places that I wanted to go to, recommended by my friend Teri at The Lovely Drawer. After our coffee we strolled into the town centre and went to Hay. A stunning home concept store.

I didn’t put my camera down, it was just all so blinking instagrammable! I was mainly filming though for our holiday vlog so I didn’t get many photos.

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We then walked to Nyahvn, the beautiful harbour. When you think of Copenhagen this, for me, is the image that comes to mind. A boat filled harbour lined with colourful buildings. Beaut. 

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We then walked down the harbour to Paper island, to the street food market (another Teri recommendation). It is an indoor market filled with stalls all decked out differently giving the whole space a really eclectic feel and such a buzz. Even the toilets were cool! Each cubicle was made out of reclaimed doors and bits of wood.

We struggled to find somewhere to heat up Jet’s milk. A lot of stalls had microwaves but seemed to think there was a legal issue with us using it. Hmph. Eventually we found a crepe stall, the guy had his nutella sat in a bowl of hot water, we pointed and gesticulated and did our best English/Dutch explantation and he let us plonk the bottle in for a couple of minutes. Baby nap disaster avoided.

The stalls were all around the edges and then in the middle were long tables and benches and a big wood burning open fire. We sat and enjoyed various Thai dishes.

Then we strolled back through town and bedded down in Joe and the Juice for a bit, to rinse their wifi and check in to mine and Jet’s flight home.

Then Jet and I jumped back on the same train to the airport and flew home. It was set to work perfectly and so, of course, it didn’t! The trip had all been too easy, I suppose I was due a bit of stress! Our flight was at 8pm so I got to the gate at 7pm with Jet all ready in his pjs and with his freshly heated milk. I was planning on giving him his bottle as the plane took off, hoping he’d then sleep the whole way home. When we got to our gate we discovered our flight was half an hour delayed, which became an hour, then two hours. Eventually after a two and half hour wait we were boarding the plane. By this point Jet had demolished his milk and befriended every single passenger, he also took his first steps as he toddled over to say hi to a family.

He fell asleep in my arms as we were boarding the plane, once we were seated an air hostess came over with the child’s seatbelt that you have to attach to your own one.  She hooked it through my seat belt and then before I could do anything she was fumbling about trying to wrap it round Jet, seemingly totally unaware that she was about to wake up my baby that I had spent the best part of three hours trying to get to sleep. I honestly could’ve punched her, I’m surprised I didn’t. He, of course, woke up and proceeded to cry for the rest of the flight. As we landed he fell asleep again in my arms. As we were leaving the plane we walked past the Captain who we’d passed when we boarded (when Jet had been happily asleep in my arms) ‘oh wonderful, he slept the whole time’ he exclaimed. I didn’t have the energy to reply, just gave a half hearted nod and smile.

We picked up our car and eventually made it home. Completely exhausted but SO glad that we had taken the opportunity to have our little 36 hour adventure.

It was such a lovely trip, I didn’t feel the pressure of a large holiday to-do list, desperately trying to tick off all the sights. Usually when we book a break away I research every last square foot of the city: the best eateries, coffee, shopping (you know, all the essentials) but because this trip was predominantly about seeing Henry it really took the pressure off. We had a couple of places that we wanted to see but really it was about catching up and having long coffee stops. Perfection. We were really lucky with the weather, I would definitely recommend trying to go in the warmer months, it is a very outdoorsy city, lots of street side tables with families enjoying an evening drink while the baby sleeps in the pram. (Copenhagen prams are crazy, they are all so giant! They look super comfy though)

bright mama copenhagen

Reunited!

It feels like a really healthy city, everyone seems to cycle everywhere and there are lots of gorgeous raw and vegan eateries. Basically, to put it simply, I’m in love and am planning when we can next visit. Preferably with a van so I can bring *everything* home with me.

Check out our Copenhagen vlog here! x

 

365 days of Jet

I made a little video for Jet’s first birthday. Here is the written poem that goes along with it.

For 40 weeks I carried you as a part of me
I didn’t know you, but felt you when you were small as could be
You came in to the world weighing 7lb 13
A bundle of beauty, I was living my dream

Weeks 1 and 2 were a hazy affair
of nappies and kisses and sick everywhere
We stayed in our bubble not venturing out
Sleepless but happy and managing that new parent doubt
Doubt that we understood all your needs
Juggling the crying and struggling with feeds

Those weeks rolled on and we hit the 6 week mark
When they checked you and weighed you, it felt like the end of the start
Now you weren’t a newborn you were getting chubbier by the day
You were smiling and rolling and starting to play
Well not quite play but you loved to stare at all your toys
And you started to perfect your dino screeching noise

6 weeks became 16 and we took you on a plane
our very first holiday we flew off to spain
So holidays definitely aren’t what they used to be
Much less tanning and very little time to read
Lots of splashing about in the pool
And staying in the shade to keep you cool
If you ever doubt my love for you my little man
Just remember that for you I sacrificed a tan.

At 7 months you had your first Christmas day
You were sitting by then and loved to play
With all the packaging from everyone’s toys
You’d perfected your giggle, my all time favourite noise

Then just one week later another plane ride
12 hours of flying you took it all in your stride
Sleeping the whole way, I was one proud mama
Then we landed in Zimbabwe for some winter summer
Safaris and waterfalls, treks and the heat
With lots of new sights and new things to eat
You were the perfect little traveler, loving every day
Meeting new family that live too far away

Back to England and we reached the 40 week milestone
Funny to think the world had now been your home
For longer than you lived in side me
A big chubby baby from just a small pea

Twelve weeks have passed and we’ve hit the big 52
How did that happen? I haven’t a clue
I beg time to slow down but she doesn’t listen to me
She just keeps rolling forwards, as fast as can be

365 days, that’s how long we’ve had you so far
And every day has been magical, well maybe bar
A few teething shockers and those sleepless nights
But it’s funny how, with time, those slip from your mind
You’ve learnt to stand and you’re so nearly walking
But for now you do some very special crab crawling

I know it’s my job to prepare you for the world,
To encourage you to not need me too much when you’re old
But my heart hurts a little when I think of the ways
That you’re needing me less with these passing days
You were a part of me, living in my very core
You fed from my body, but not anymore

There was a time when you’d sleep in your cot beside me
And I’d lie in the dark and listen to you breathe
Because every parent has a deep routed fear
That something will happen to you if we’re not near
But now you sleep in a room of your own
And I wish I hadn’t blinked because in that time you’ve grown.

I’m doing my best, I hope it’s enough
Teaching you right from wrong, all that important stuff
But really, all I want you to know
Is that whatever you do and wherever you go
You are so very loved and so deeply known.

You are my son. What a crazy thought
I remember, like yesterday that May the 4th
and yes by the way
I know that date is Star Wars day,
We named you Jet, I love what it means
A rebel, but not of the Star Wars theme

I hope that the kind of rebel we’ll raise
Is one that will be kind and one that will be brave
A rebel that breaks societies rules
And speaks up for the quiet ones no matter how small

Jet Jozsi Francis you are a popular boy
All that meet you say you bring such joy
You have 2 parents that love you with their whole hearts
But they know that that love is only the start
You are One sweet boy already one whole year grown
One big life ahead of you, oh the places you’ll go.

 

 

And here’s our first vlog (we’re giving it a try!) x

 

 

 

Jet turns one

For Jet’s birthday we were planning on having a Pimms and cake party in our local park but of course on the morning of the party we woke up to grey skies, we had a little gazebo but we didn’t think it would be a very fun party if everyone had to squish together to hide from the rain in the cold for two hours. So an hour before everyone was arriving we had a quick change of plan and set up in our living room. Enter: about 25 adults and 15 kiddies in our little living room. There was a whole lot of jam on the walls and chocolate muffin squished in to the sofas but it was the BEST afternoon.

I didn’t realise quite how special I would find it to have so many people we love all in one place to celebrate our sweet boy.

I am not a baker, at all. Every recipe attempt I touch turns to mush, so I was beyond proud that I managed to pull off a 5 layered semi naked cake. I figured this year is probably the only year I can get away with Jet’s party not being too boyish. From next year I’m sure there’ll be Star Wars or Lego or what not theme requests. So this year I picked the kinda cake I know I’d like for my birthday (I’m sure one year old boys have similar style to 27 year old women anyway)

I got a little stressed mid morning whilst trying to work out how the heckity heck you ice a cake without the crumbs getting all up in your grill. I had to send Henry and Jet out of the house for a bit. It sure is hard to ice a cake with a baby hanging off your leg.

Shops I mostly used were Claraivy (cake topper) Etsy (One balloon and confetti balloons, Happy birthday bunting) The Graystore (Jet’s one top) and Asda for the plates and table bits (hashtag classy)

Another photo of the cake, you know, because I made it 😉

Jet’s first cake experience went down a treat. He went to TOWN. At one point I looked round and found him tucked away in the corner of the room shovelling cake from the floor into his mouth, looking round to check he wasn’t going to get caught!

He just kept going and going.

Checking the plate was definitely empty.

Singing happy birthday to the completely unfussed birthday boy.

Jet and his gorgeous friend Elbie fighting over the walker. Like a little old married couple.

We didn’t get many photos, we were too busy chatting away to so many lovely friends and drinking a hell’a lot of Pimms. Jet was showered with gifts and we ended the day completely exhausted and feeling very loved.

The morning after the day before, opening some presents. Totally more interested in the wrapping paper though, obvs.

Happiest of happy birthdays Jet Jozsi Francis x

 

Haircuts and other social dilemmas

So I feel like going to the hairdressers is supposed to be a really relaxing, me time treat. A relaxing, rejuvenating experience. I try really hard to enjoy it, I really do put in the work, but I just don’t. I’ve got a few issues, here goes:

The lighting. Oh my goodness there is nothing that robs your last grain of self esteem like the lighting in a hair salon. Spots I didn’t know I had stand like beacons on my face, I suddenly realise I haven’t plucked my eyebrows quite as carefully as I thought and the bags under my eyes burst through from their concealer/foundation/powder hide away.

I’m a hair wash every 3 days kinda girl. Time is money people. And so I always time a hair cut with the third day, no point washing it unnecessarily. Time. Money. This is the approach I take every time and EVERY time I regret it. My hair at this point is so full of dry shampoo that when they pull the hair tie out it doesn’t actually move, just sits there in its faux ponytail stance. You can see the hairdresser combing through it, an eyebrow raised, trying to make as little contact as possible and I sink into the chair in shame.

They stand there, pulling their hands through your matted mane and ask what cut you’d like, you quietly explain you just like a small trim, an inch tops- ‘you know, just to get rid of the dead ends’ to which I have had the reply many times ‘we’ll need to take off MUCH more than an inch if you want to tackle your split ends’.

Then it’s time for the sink hair wash. Oh the sinks, the strange contraptions that can only be described as some sort of neck torture. Are you comfortable? ‘yes’ you whisper, whilst putting in 80% of the work to hold your head up, leaving the other 20% to the lazy, ill positioned sink. You lie there, slightly levitating and supporting your own head. Then the water starts, ‘how’s the temperature?’, ‘fine thanks’.  Fine thanks? Every time, my answer is the same.  Today the water was so hot I honestly thought I was losing a layer of my scalp and still the British in me couldn’t bring myself to be so forward as to say ‘excuse me you’re actually burning my head off’- its not like I’m paying for the luxury or anything.

My local hairdresser has recently got a bit fancier and have invested in some massage chairs for whilst your having your scalp scolding wash. It was partly lovely and partly reminded me of when Jet lies horizontally in our bed and knees me in the back, or pokes my shoulders- right in under my shoulder blade.

Then they do the clever towel turban trick which I can never pull off at home and escort you back to your seat. Do you let them lead the way? Do you walk ahead? Somany social questions.  They’ve usually got pretty emphatic with the lathering of the shampoo and so my makeup now starts an inch in to my face. There’s a nice clear line down my cheek where my bronzer suddenly begins. And the unforgiving light won’t let me forget it.

Then the main event, the actual haircut, the reason you’re there, despite all the faff around it. Do you chat, do you not? I find it’s all or nothing, you can never just chat a little. I’ve tried both approaches and find both equally uncomfortable. You look pretty stoney faced if you whip out a book and don’t utter a word, especially when they need to cut your fringe and they spin your chair round and kind of straddle your knees and breathe in to your face. That feels like the kind of time you put your book down. Or you chat and find out all about their family and their holiday and their dog, which is all lovely but youleave feeling like you need a lie down and a strepsil.

The hair cut itself tends to be fine. Unless of course you want them to cut your hair in to the style you asked for. That apparently is something hairdressers don’t like to do?

Some of my favourite comments I’ve had from hairdressers whilst cutting my hair:

‘your hair is naturally very… *searches for the right word* frizzy’

‘have you ever been in a fire? Or had a serious medical illness?’ –in reference to my excessive amount of baby hair

Then the blowdry. Okay the blowdry I can deal with. It’s always lovely and always so much better than my feeble attempts at home. Although if I ask for straight it ends up super-poker-slick-straight straight and if I ask for wavy I end up looking like I’m channelling my best 50’s movie star attempt.

I often forget how glam you feel after a blowdry. Today it was raining so I threw on my mumsy-anorak, which fitted well with my matted, dry shampooed ponytail, but felt slightly odd once I was preened and coiffed. I felt like those toys you rotate around to make different outfits. A movie star hairstyle on a farmer’s body.

Finally it’s all done, the tea they brought you has gone cold because you couldn’t quite stretch your arm out far enough to reach it whilst they held your head in place. They get the special look behind mirror thing and show you the back. Yes that is the back of my head. Thanks so much for confirming.

Then to pay, it’s always more than you thought but you’re very British and so you painfully pass over your card and try not to think about your bank balance.

Shall we book your next appointment now? No thanks, I think I’ll wait another half a year, until the memory is distant enough that I think ‘ah I fancy some nice, pampering me time, I think I’ll book a hair appointment’

Raising a feminist

I am raising a feminist. He currently looks like a 10 month old boy. But what should a feminist look like anyway? I used to think you had to own an I hate men t-shirt, preferably wear sensible shoes, attend Green Party related marches and sign the agreement to never marry one of them.

Turns out I got it slightly wrong. Feminism is not about men bashing, it’s about equality. It isn’t about focusing on gender, it’s about aiming to not focus on gender, to be offered a job not because of your sex or despite your sex but because of your abilities. Feminism is not just for women, it’s for all of us. It’s about fighting for us all to see each other as equals whatever your gender, age, nationality, movie preference, etc. (I’m in the You’ve Got Mail camp on that one)

I want Jet to have ambition, I want him to see no limitations around himself, I don’t want society to define him and I definitely don’t want him to define himself. If I were to have a girl I would have all the same hopes for her too.

For me being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to shy away from being a girl. Don’t get me wrong I love Topshop and succulents and am always on the hunt for the best mascara (let me know if you’ve found a good one that doesn’t end up under your eyes by the end of the day) To me, being a feminist is embracing all the traits of being a girl: We are passionate and strong and fierce and so are our sons and daughters. We need to nurture their characters regardless of their sex. Don’t tell a girl she’s bossy- tell her she’s strong, don’t tell a boy he’s too sensitive- praise his ability to sympathise.

I have noticed such a shocking amount of gender stereotyping since becoming a mum. I hate the separation of the boys and girls sections in clothes shops. Why do all Jet’s clothes HAVE to be blue, and what if he doesn’t like trucks? It seems he’ll have to have them emblazoned across his clothes regardless of his interests. (Thank God for beautiful small businesses like Tobias and the Bear, The Gray Store, The Little Natural Clothing company helping me battle my aversion to truck t shirts) And recently when shopping for a walker for him why was the girl option a pram and the boy option a race car?

I would hate for him to ever feel like he’s wrong for not liking certain things or for following passions that take him away from the crowd. I want him to grow into a man that loves and respects everyone around him. I want him to treat everyone as an equal whether they’re the Queen or his teacher or a cleaner or a friend.

I don’t feel at all qualified to write about feminism, I have no qualifications or particular reading to stand on. But all I know is that I am raising a child and I know the world I want him to grow up in and I know the small part I can play in creating that world for him. I want him to know that crying is not weak, the under dog makes for the best story, Les Mis is the best musical ever written, Liverpool are the greatest football team, ballet isn’t just for girls, always be kind, fight injustice, befriend the friendless and never use an at home blonde hair dye kit, it never works. (Trust me, listen to your mother- and also bizarrely, your father.)

Happy National Women’s Day folks. Here’s to strong mothers and daughters and sisters and to loving fathers and sons and brothers.