The best pouches to take on the go in Stage 1, for young babes taste buds and parent’s last minute snacks too.

Those in my circle of close friends and family will often voice their disdain over my love for baby food.

Yes, that’s right – I like eating baby food.  

There was a time at University when it was all that I’d eat, and looking back it was probably because it felt easy on my yet to be diagnosed swollen Crohn’s tummy and easy to digest, until two best friends decided to call an intervention and put me through a strict weaning programme to get me off the stuff.  Ironic then, that I’m using my once beloved (not so)  secret snack of choice to wean my babe onto food. It has been the ultimate test for me and I’m happy to report that I’m still going strong. Not entirely sober, but at least I’m no where near stealing my child’s food. It has however, given me the helpful ability to taste test (legit taste testing I promise, no purposeful eating) for my extremely fussy daughter. Being parents of a young baby with a dairy allergy, we’ve had to feed our baby disgusting medicine and formulas, flavouring them with calorie rich sweetness such as Nesquik, Coconut water and Vanilla Essence. She won’t eat otherwise and this has lead to a problem in weight gain. We were afraid that she’d develop a dislike for food in general so finding sweet vegetables and fruits to entice her into the weaning stages has been essential. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic UK brands out there that cater for the first weaning steps and when we’re not making our own puree in the brilliant Tommee Tippee blender and steamer, the fresh pouches are perfect for being out and about. They last for 48 months once opened, are organic and are mess free. I love being able to have peace of mind using them, knowing that their contents are 100% fruit and veg, and absolutely nothing else.

With the help of Millie, here are our top 3:


A UK born and raised young brand featuring apple based flavours. Supporting NCT and giving 10% of profits back to the Food Education Foundation, they’re a loving company with a passion for bringing together food and friends. We LOVE them because they introduce babies to Mediterranean foods (although Millie is going to need a little convincing still..), and that is really important in our household. Sometimes the Apple can come across a little too strongly for baby but as it’s a key fruit that we want her to like in the future, we’re gradually easing into it. Thankfully, not all of Piccolo’s purees are Apple heavy on the taste, in particular their Banana, Blueberry and Apple – perfect for baby’s breakfast, pud and even on Mummy’s porridge as a healthy yet sweet alternative to sugar. 



London based with the saying “Food for babies, not baby food”. In a nutshell really.

The addition of Quinoa into the puree pouches has been a big hit for us, much to our surprise. Knowing that babe has a Gluten Free grain in her meals to increase her carb intake is key with any allergy present, particularly as Gluten could be a probelm area for us in the future. Top tip: quite adult flavours, so they’re better warmed up than straight from the pouch.

Also they do some really cute looking bibs to help tame the OCD crazed Mess Hating Monster in your head when that sweet potato starts flying everywhere *get it now*.


And finally, the ever brilliant Ella’s Kitchen!

Who doesn’t love Ella. This was our first weaning brand of choice for out and about (and also whilst our blender was being barricaded at the back of cupboard due to overflowing baby paraphernalia in front of it.)  We started with Sweet Potato Sweet Potato Sweet Potato and it was a hit. Then we graduated onto the green veggies (Peas Peas Peas) and then onto Bananas and Apples, which is hands down our favourite of all the banana baby food out there. It tastes exactly like Banana Bread and I’m not even afraid to say that it may make me relapse. IBD tip: If you’re in need of a quick sugar fix, have a few spoonfuls of this – avidly avoided fainting at the Zoo.


At 6 months pregnant with our daughter, I was diagnosed with Prenatal Depression. It’s a topic that’s hardly discussed and with great embarrassment, I feared my family wouldn’t believe me. My partner was in and out of the country and up until the 36th week of pregnancy when he came back, I had never felt lonelier in life. I was surrounded by friends and family with several of my girlfriends travelling halfway down the country to support me but still, I would cry in every spare second alone. I felt ashamed of the dosage of Sertraline I took daily and as I became increasingly bigger and drastically more tired, I’m sad to say that I doubted myself as a Mother and girlfriend, daughter, sister and friend.

It took me over a month to accept help from my GP. I was in denial for so long that looking back, I put myself and my unborn baby at risk. I assumed that the lows I was experiencing were natural and that my lack of appetite and feelings of body consciousness came with the job description of carrying a child. But as the recurring nightmares of losing my child became more harrowing and the lack of sleep amounted to forgetfulness during my working day, I came to the absurd conclusion that my partner didn’t love me anymore and that the sweet child inside me was punishment for the grief of miscarriage we had suffered the previous year. I would forget my house keys, my phone, my purse and any sense of direction and one snowy January evening on my way home from work, I snapped. Locked out of my house with 2% phone battery, I had a breakdown on the front door step. I’ve experienced a panic attack once in my life before and luckily because of this, I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack. Once I had stabled my breathing sheltering under the porch in the falling snow and failing to contact the closest member of my family, I used the remaining 1% of phone battery to call an Uber to my sister’s house, 40 minutes away. One of the biggest regrets of my life was not asking for the driver’s name – I hands down believe that he saved my life that night and I want to thank him, wherever he is today. He charged my phone for me and kept me talking, asking me questions about the baby names, my family, my favourite kind of cake and where I want to go most in the world one day; all the whilst handing me tissues from the front seat to dab at my tear stained face, he kept smiling, and made me smile too.

The next day, I called in sick at work and saw my GP. Without knowing where to start, I walked in smiling and asked him how his day was going. When he returned the smile and asked me how he could help, I choked on my words. Silently letting the tears stream down my face, i pursed my lips tightly shut. I knew that if I even attempted to speak, the loudest howl would escape mirroring the sound I had made upon hearing I’d lost a child. What followed from here on were weekly check-ins, until 3 weeks later when I accepted medicinal help. Counselling had felt like the biggest waste of my days and whilst I am in no way knocking CBT, it’s just not for everybody. I’d given it a go and I’d felt silly, mocked almost. I didn’t want to make a flower of my feelings or discuss the relationship I had with my parents. I was feeling deserted and unprepared and I could not sleep and no, I was not prepared to wake up my partner in the night and ask him to help me “ground myself” by handing me a teddy bear. Accepting antidepressants felt like an easy route out of the problem but I was desperate. By this point I wasn’t sleeping out of fear, none of my clothes fit me and I had become a social recluse. I was also in Obstetrics twice weekly and experiencing the worst IBD flares I’d ever had. At 38 weeks it was decided that being pregnant for any longer that i needed to be wouldn’t be the best idea and so on our due date, I was induced.

Despite the fears I had concocted for myself about motherhood, I’m proud to say that I’m actually doing an okay-ish job. I even have a T-shirt which says this, thanks to one great friend and another frequently reminds me that I’ve managed to keep myself, my new baby and even herself going, through the upside down times. It’s only recently dawned on me that women are remarkably strong creatures and no matter how guilty I felt about having depression at a time when I should have been at my strongest, I can look back and forgive myself. Shortly after our daughter was born I realised that I didn’t need antidepressants anymore to keep me going each day. I weaned myself off them probably a little too quickly for my GP’s liking, but when you’re on 17 other daily tablets for another condition, the thought of one extra was just a little too much. I also no longer needed something to help me sleep, because parenthood is medicine enough to make someone tired.

For more information on Pre and Postnatal Depression, head on over to PANDAS, a charity dedicated to helping parents with perinatal mental illness ❤ xoxo

​5 reasons why your skinny baby should be nothing to worry about

Everywhere I look, I see chubs. Mainly in the mirror, as that’s where I spend most of my time ogling over my 50 spare post pregnancy tyres but also on other 8 week olds, 3 month olds, 4 month olds (the list goes on..) and toddlers. In fact, it seems to be that every other baby I see is chubbing up…except my own. She’s a scrawny little squirrel and at first, it really worried me. At a GP check-up our family doctor commented on how she was “a skinny little thing” and so began the running around like a frantic headless chicken. I was a mother on a mission, desperate for her baby to put on weight. I was feeding and feeding, draining my poor boobs into submission and yet, she still stayed in her 0 month clothing. What was i doing wrong!?!! It turns out though, that our poor little possum has an intolerance and so requires a special formula and for me to go on a specific diet. Winning winning – she puts on weight and i start to lose it, right? Wrongo! Now she’s refusing bottle and holding out for booby. It’s like a western standoff between Bill “Booby” Winter and Frank “Flip Formula” Flippen and inevitably, Booby Winter ain’t the one with a naff shot. She’s slowly putting on weight though, even if it is a mere 30g a week. But nevertheless, we still have ourselves one scrawny skinny decaf venti lacto free babyccino and my 2 month old has the appetite of a two week old. I’ve slowly come to terms with this though and realised that actually, it’s ok. And here’s why it’s ok for you, too. 
1.Your baby is happy.
Sure, she cries, but who doesn’t! Some days I can’t help but curl up on the sofa around my newborn and silently sob (and sometimes also not so silently, much to my other half’s horror). I’m yet to relieve myself from this hormonal babymoon and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Your bundle of joy is full of exactly that and he’s laughing, smiling and chatting away more and more each day. Your baby is happy, and knows it…and will soon be clapping their hands too. You are the reason they’re enjoying life, so keep it up Mumma. 
2.She will not starve.
When she’s hungry, she’ll let you know. If i’ve learnt one thing about having a fussy baby, it’s that no matter how long this Booby vs Bottle stand off is going on, one of us will cave. Granted, it’s mostly me as I am the weaker of the two of us but there have been occasions when she’s grown tired of her wails and protests and eventually allows that bottle teat to fill her tummy. She hates me at first but after those initial 3 seconds of moaning, complete with bottle in mouth, expressing her disgust for me as a mother, she realises that actually life isn’t that bad and it’s a lot nicer when some warm milky is funneling down her throat. We went through the exact same protest but just reversed 3 weeks ago following her tongue tie snip and as tough as it is to see their little face scrunched and reddening, your baby will not go hungry and they’ll thank you for persevering. Good job Mummy.  

3.Everyone is different.
Or maybe the same. Because according to my parents, I was exactly like this. Not only fussy, but stubborn too. Apparently I refused to eat anything until the age of 2 ½ except for cheese ham and gherkins (kudos to that weaning menu). Maybe this is payback for the tribulations I put my parents through as a little one then, as they do not seem like worried Grandparents at all and even sent me over a Whatsapp with my Baby Book growth chart as reassurance for my own baby’s skinniness. Sure enough, our charts are looking pretty on par; up, down and all around and look at me now – majorly chubby. Granted, i’ve just had a baby. But I certainly don’t struggle with putting on weight now. Her Tata (he’s polish) does however and no matter what crap he puts into his body, he stays the same slim chap. I am hand down envious of his cellulite free bottom and in a way, I hope she inherits this as well as his girly eyelashes. 

4.This will not affect weaning.
Move over milky, the mush is in town! Imagine if all your fridge was stocked with, was orange juice. Amazing for a while, but then you need something the mop it up. Food is great. Yes, ok, so I only liked 3 foods at first but then I discovered smoked salmon and I became the most culinary cultured baby ever. His tastebuds will go wild and soon enough your milk will just be a refreshing chaser, so try not to let your baby’s skinny bod worry you about weaning too much. Chances are that your baby will remain thin even throughout weaning but that’s just their physique. Maybe your little one is going to be an athlete, or a gymnast or a ballerina. We just don’t know, but what we do know is that you’re feeding and they’re eating and if you’re still not convinced, go back to point number 2 🙂
5.You are not doing anything wrong. 
I’m going to pull out all the cliches here because mothers do know best and you’re the best mummy in the world. Look at what you’ve achieved and on those really tough days just take a step back and look at what you created. You grew a baby (what!!?); you actually formed a little human inside your tummy and nobody knows that little human better than you do. She loves you and relies on you and you are what is best for your baby. However you’re feeding, whatever you’re feeding, you’re doing great and she’s just going through a little rough patch. Try not to worry too much because you’re doing the best you can and everything will be ok in the end. You’re the most amazing parent. 

“Get your mitts, off my newborn” and other things I wish I could say outside my head. 

I blame my parents for this one.  

I’ve been brought up so well (Go Mama!) that I find it increasingly impossible to tell someone No. As if I’m petrified of insulting a complete stranger, who could be a serial killer for all I know, I’ll keep quiet and allow them to do whatever it is that they’re doing which is usually not in any circumstance close to OK. It’s ridiculous and I know I’m being an utter plonker by not taking the bull by the horns and shouting NO GO AWAY LALALA in the perpetrators faces but it’s like there’s a literal wall in front on me and my entire body freezes, including my mouth.  

Take the man who walked by THREE times (yes THREE) whilst I was having a cup of tea with a friend outside a cafe,  who loudly said “oh what a cute BABY”, (yes,  he shouted the word baby) “and you must be her MOTHER” – seriously dude, what’s with all the noun shouting – before patting my fragile tiny 11 week old on the head like a dog and TRYING TO PUT HER HANDS IN HIS MOUTH!???!  The inner lioness in me wanted to push the man back and run for the hills, or in this case the safety of the changing facilities,  but I just didn’t know how to move. I forgot how to talk, or walk or run and it made me realise that that when the Zombies attack I will be bloody useless. So it’s thanks to my parents that I’ll probably have my brains eaten. And then I may eat yours and I’m really sorry about that.  

It’s not just in times of much needed intervention with my child that this happens though. Frequent dear souls of a particular preaching religion descend upon our doorstep sometimes twice weekly, despite A’s protests of otherwise. Instead of a) answering the door and telling them no or b) not answering at all, I find myself rapidly throwing myself out of window view to the floor and crawling into the kitchen, where I then hide out of sight for 5 minutes or until I’m sure they’ve left our driveway. Sometimes I’ll do this mid feed with Millie and yes, I’m aware of how ridiculous that sounds. I’d rather avoid confrontation and hide in my own home than show someone that I’m actively ignoring them. So sue me.  

Another is with some rather pointless (albeit lovingly intended) advice about how I should be managing my symptoms and flaring with Crohn’s Disease. Drink this. No. Take these vitamins. No.  Oh, don’t bother asking your consultant, this cured my sister in law. THERE IS NO CURE.  Have you tried wearing these bracelets?…….Right. I genuinely give up. 

But the one that I really wish I had the balls to talk back about are the not-so behind my back comments about how I’ve changed since having a baby. Apparently I’m not a good friend anymore.  Apparently I don’t care about anyone unless they’re part of my new family. Apparently I’m not the same and not as fun.  Well guess what. Things changed and I am OK with them all. I’m OK with starting a family and focusing on us for a while.  I’m OK with being forgetful and not messaging for a while.  I’m OK with enjoying my newborn baby with her Father and my close family. I’m OK with all of this because I haven’t forgotten you and actually think of you all the time, except I’m too busy being a Mother that sometimes you’ll have to wait to have fun with me. There really aren’t enough hours in the day when you have a baby and the last time I checked it was totally fine to wait several months at a time to see someone who is busy all the time. I am busy forming a life and some things have to take priority over your jealousies. Pick up the phone if you’re really that worried and leave a message, I’ll get back to you when I have five minutes to myself.  It really shouldn’t be all up to me  👋👋👋.  

Dear Remission, are you out there!!

NB: Title to be read in a shouty voice. Not like Barry Scott tho.

I always feel grammatically guilty when I write a question as a statement but I suppose the inner Grammar schoolgirl in me needs to get over her punctuation pottiness and realise that this is my bog and I can do whatever the hell I like. Also technically I would say that grammar is the means in which aides a reader to recount an extract in the way intended, so in that respect I really do need to shut up now because if you’ve just read that title in a shouty voice then job well done to me. But this isn’t about that. Note how my question is a statement and how my statement is not a question such as, “Remission, where are you?”. That would imply that I’m expecting him to come waltzing round the corner, as if i’m due this award any moment now. And whilst God knows i’m certainly due a heavy dosage of the stuff – it’s been almost 6 months now – I’ve pretty much given up. Hence the shouting, anger, frustration, etc. etc. I’m dreadfully fearful that I won’t be seeing him again for quite some time and it’s only recently dawned on me, that having Crohn’s really really really really really, sucks.

I’m not one to feel sorry for myself but recently I’ve found myself feeling sorry for my family. They listen to me selfishly groan about taking 17 tablets daily; a blood test weekly; countless sample drops; the nausea; the headaches; the joint pain; the shaking; the night sweats; the dehydration.. the list goes on. Knowing that my daughter will have to watch me fall severely unwell every other month is enough to break me down and cry for 5 minutes daily because i know that one day she will have to help me lift a glass of water to my mouth as my hands won’t be able to find the strength to do so themselves. She’s 11 weeks old today and already I have lost 4 days of her life. Not being able to pick up my own baby when she’s crying because i’m too weak is heartbreaking and I’m so grateful to have a partner as supportive and caring as A is. I’m not quite sure how he’s doing it – juggling fatherhood with a full-time job with the added role of keeping me going and making me smile, all whilst finding time for himself and then having enough energy left to leave a mess in the bathroom. I’m so proud of him. We’re both as confused as each other as to why things have become progressively worse within the last 12 months. Maybe it’s to do with my pregnancy, maybe it isn’t. Maybe there’s another underlying factor. Maybe this will quieten down. Maybe I’ll be in Remission soon. Maybe I won’t need life-saving surgery. Maybe we can make a temporary glass bubble for me to live in when one of them has a cold. Maybe I should stop whining because it could be oh so much worse. Maybe, if I start lifting weights I can put these steroids to good use.



Also not being able to go in the sun anymore has given me an excellent excuse to buy some really big floppy hats.

But I’d really like you to come back just for a bit, so that I can be the best Mummy and Wifey I can be.


Emma on a bad day xoxo

Baby On The Go

The nurse whom Millie now despises thanks to the 8 week jabs (sorry babe, only 4 weeks ’til the next lot), commented yesterday on our changing bag. She couldn’t believe that it wasn’t a regular handbag and refused to see how we fit everything that’s needed for any outing into what seems to be the smallest space in the world for baby crap. We’re pretty in love with the staple from Jem and Bea and you can check it out here. What’s great about it is that they’ve managed to create the coolest changing bags and I’d be happy to seen in public with all of them. Out goes the frumpy mum stereotype and in comes the kid about town *hurrah hurrah*. Dresslikeamum would be proud.

Whilst we’re at it, here’s what’s in our bag of wonders/the survival kit:


Minus my purse, which seems to take up half the room as I needed one to fit in my passport (don’t ask – fleeing the country phobia), we manage to stuff in comfortably all of this lot, plus a few extra chocolate bar wrappers, hairbands and the odd lippy too.

Head over to my Instagram account @emmaahirving to click on the items for stock lists, or a run down is listed below ❤

The essentials – feeding & changing:

Muslin – Aden and Anais; Bottle – Tommee Tippee; Colief – Boots/Lloyds/Always ask your GP first; Bib – M&S; Nappies – Pampers; Nappy Sacks & Baby Wipes – Aldi. Breast Pads – Sainsbury’s; Nipple Cream – Lansinoh; Nappy Rash Ointment – Bepanthen.

Entertainment – for her:

Bunny – JellyCat/John Lewis; Rattle – The Little White Company; Shapes and Patterns Book – M&S; Keys – Our own. 

Entertainment – for me:

Not listed but very much needed – Phone & Charger, complete with all the favourite apps; Baked Fruit Snacks (Bear Claws are great for almost-fainting energy reboot; Credit Card – provider not relevant, neither is the current bank balance. Shopping is the best distraction and is next month’s problem.

Other Essentials:

Calpol & Berrocca – one is for you, the other for baby. Maybe don’t get them switched up like I did with Nipple Cream and Nappy Rash Ointment that one time.

£1 – NEVER FORGET. You’ll spend far too much time oggling the other parent’s trollies than over the contents of your basket of snacks. Achey arms – nah ah. 

Things for your face – Vaseline, Lippy, Hairbands & Clips; whatever makes you feel good, bung it in. 

Baby Record Book – Like the new Maternity Folder. Forget it for an appointment and you’re a horrific mother. Best carry it with you everywhere 😦

Spare clothes for little one – F&F at Tesco and BHS (quick! grab them before they go!) do the best little leggings in the tiniest of sizes and at the tiniest of prices. Perfect for last minute poonami explosions. 

Now you’re all set, venture into the bright scary world! ..Just remember that no matter how prepared you feel with all the gear as you set off, that little poop monster in the pram has other ideas. #ohthejoys 



#NBW (ie The One Where My Tits Are Out)

In honour of National Breastfeeding Week (i’m still waiting for National Waffles and Bacon Week, Mr Calendar Printer Man *evil eyes*) I’ve decided to write this week’s post on exactly that, in particular the troubles that can come with it. This is far from a Breast vs Bottle debate and if you’re breastfeeding then great! Good for you. If you’re bottle feeding then great! Good for you. If you’re like me and combination feeding, then guess what. Great! Good for you! All three can be tricky, in fact just keeping a small human alive in general is terrifying and doesn’t come without tribulations so as far as i’m concerned if you haven’t managed to drop the little quirt (but hey it happens- no judgement) and they’re still alive then you’re doing an okayish job and should be proud. If your baby is happy and healthy and loved more than Brit’s love tea then that’s all that matters and to be honest, I don’t really give a shit about how you’re feeding. All I care about is whether MY baby is getting what’s best for her so please let’s not drag this into WW3 and round two of the Battle of the Boobie Traps. Some people believe that tits are the key to happiness but whatever, this isn’t about that.

I feed predominantly Breast. I say predominantly because for my own bloody sanity in knowing I may sleep a little and also to keep up her weight gain, we give her one bottle of formula at night. Before the judgement descends, hear me out. Because mainly, I used to be one of these people who was dead set on only breastfeeding from birth til she was 18 years old if that’s what she really wanted, but then i actually gave birth and realised that other’s judgement and stigma wasn’t the most important thing in the world. It was that she was getting the best START in life. It’s not that I’m being lazy, or that I can’t be bothered to get up an extra few times in the night or even that I’m being a shit Mother. Unless you spend every single second of the day with us as Family then you won’t fully understand why I have chosen to feed my baby 80ml of formula a day but i’ll give you an insight because I know there will still be judgement upon reading this post.

Week 0-5 of life: Baby purely breastfed. Mummy’s boobies bleeding, weeping, pussing, whatever was going on. Ie, bloody hurt but we carried on because I LOVE breastfeeding and my daughter is soothed by nomming on my tits. WE ARE HAPPY.

Week 5-7: Baby falls ill at the same time as having her tongue tie cut. Lime green diarrhoea, huge amount of reflux, pale and bloody mucus in poop. Cue tears from all three parties, a prescribed diet of purely Dioralyte for the little one, non-stop expressing from my side to keep up milk production and a breastmilk ban for her due to my medication & her sore gut. Baby starving so GP suggests formula. Happy baby. Tongue tie cut = baby can no longer latch. In other words, she forgets how to drink milk and so after we’re given the all clear to feed her breast milk again, it’s a f*ck up. She becomes frustrated, angry, gives up after 2 minutes of rooting and starts to lose weight. Enter the Infant Feeding Team and the suggestion that I’m not trying hard enough. Ok, cool, thanks. Real supportive. By this point, despite expressing ALL THE TIME, my milk seems to go. Just vanish. Real thumbs up for Mummy. Baby starts to go hungry so feeling like a bad Mother, I begrudgingly revert to formula 3 times a day whilst I’m maintaining the constant pumping in order to give her the best from my breast. Just as we’ve got back a little nipple drinking action, I have an operation. Back on formula for two days and I’m pumping and dumping. Milk supply just vanishes again. Formula 4 times a day. Zero Mummy Milky. Now my milk’s slowly coming back in and I’m breastfeeding her what feels like every 30 minutes so that she doesn’t feel as hungry and then formula once a day. All the while, this towing and throwing of milk isn’t helping poor baby’s gut and she doesn’t seem to be getting any better. We’re now awaiting a paediatric referral for a possible lactose allergy but we can’t stop the formula because she’s not feeding enough and not getting much fat. It’s exhausting for everyone and I cry daily. But she’s feeding now, so good.

According to one Midwife who came to see us at 4 weeks postpartum, she was surprised that I was still breastfeeding. “Your baby is thriving!” she had said. And given me a hug – that was nice. Apparently most women stop after 3 weeks for ease and she was in awe that at 4 weeks I was still going, despite also having Crohn’s. Having the disease definitely makes breastfeeding harder and although I’ve tried not to let it affect me, it’s proving to be difficult recently. The energy that my body exerts in order to make the milk is draining and I’m struggling to function without needing 3 cat naps a day. Despite this though, I’m still determined to breastfeed; it’s hassle free, no sterilising, no expensive formula and no boiling and cooling kettles all day long. I think it’ll break my heart a little if she does have a lactose intolerance or if I find i’m struggling too much that I decide to stop feeding at 3 months. For now, I’ve given myself a deadline of her 12 week birthday to establish feeding as best I can. The fear I feel every time she cries in hunger and I know that my nipples can’t take much more of this struggled latch, makes me feel sick to the core. More so I feel that way because I don’t want to let her down but then if she’s ill already because of me, then surely that’s even worse?


The Birth Story of Emilia Olympia

I’m really not sure how to begin this one. Mainly because I can’t actually remember what happened between my waters breaking and pushing her little head out but also because i still think i’m yet to fully appreciate the magnitude of what my body did 6 weeks ago.

The thing with labour is, you can prepare as much as you like but as soon as it’s your time, you just have no clue what’s going on. Each birth is different, whether you’ve had 1 or 100 children. You can swear down that you’re an old hat and use experience from your previous labours but fundamentally, that little human inside you is not the same as the last and in no way wants to be upstaged by his/her sibling or by any of the fellow babies already born into the world. My advice for any new mummy about to give birth would be to just roll with the punches and for her birthing partner to do the same (except we’ll throw in the mandatory supporting role for them too, because they probably have the easier job). I’ve had to rely on the memory of my better half for this story and from the facial expressions he’s been pulling as he recounts various parts, I’m pretty sure it’s the most accurate recollection of events that we could come away with.

It all started at the beginning of April, 30 days before Milly was even born. I’d been feeling niggles and aptly, being April Fools Day, I couldn’t quite believe our luck when i was on my way to a routine antenatal appointment and started to have contractions. Venturing into Maternity Triage for the gazillionth time in 9 months, our favourite Obstetrician Helen (she gave the best hugs and I was always in awe of how great her hair was despite being in and out of Theatre under a scrub hat) checked me over.

“Well, something’s happening. You’ve started to dilate!” …Greeeaaat. This is usually a happy moment but pregnancy had been tricky and knowing there was a possibility that our baby could be born early before her lungs were fully developed put me in an uneasy train of thought. Although i’d been experiencing contractions though, I came back out later that evening with an extensive course of IV antibiotics which I had to attend back in Antenatal daily for a week for a water infection that was starting our labour too soon. “If baby comes now, I’m not too worried” she’d said, “but we’d rather she stays cooking a little longer because labour right now for you wouldn’t be ideal.” I was advised to stay in to receive the antibiotics but there was no way i was spending 7 days on a ward of screaming women whilst i waited impatiently like a sitting duck. So we went home, attended the hospital once daily to be hooked up for drugs and I started to feel better.

The following Thursday I was back in again. This time, for a flare. My daily dose of Mesalazine was no longer having the desired effect and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sit down due to the ulceration coating my colon. I was experiencing near constant PR bleeding and upon review from my Obstetrician, I was immediately admitted to Maternity and given a high dose of steroids, anti-clot injections and IV fluids. It was decided that I should stay for a few days to let the flare calm down under the supervision of my Doctors, however being almost 38 weeks pregnant at this time, I naughtily discharged myself for the comfort of our own home. This decision wasn’t approved of by any of the midwives on duty but I still believe that I made the right choice. I was able to spend the last fortnight of pregnancy with Adam and discharged with steroids in tablet form, I could still make myself comfortable and hope that remission would come round the corner in time for our little girl’s arrival. Upon discharge it was decided that i would be induced on the due date, 28th April. I would be on IV steroids to assist with delivery and my placenta would be delivered for me. Obstetricians would be on standby for a suspected difficult labour and even though my dreams of having the idyllic water birth had been firmly sunk now, there was still a chance that surgery wouldn’t be needed. We remained hopeful for this. And miraculously, hope won.

I was induced at 1.30pm on 28th April, 2016. The pessary was inserted and we were hooked onto a trace for an intended 30 minutes. Within 20 minutes my contractions were coming 6 within 10 and the baby’s heartbeat was too fast. Time to come off the hormone, the midwives said. It’s too risky. “We’ll let you progress naturally,” they continued, “but your waters will be broken later today when there’s a room for you.” And so the eager wait began.

Two days later i was still on the trace, 2 injections of Pethidine down to help me sleep from the pain of back labour and awaiting for my waters to be broken on Labour ward. Emergencies had demanded the services of the Midwives and Doctors around us and by this point, both Adam and I were exhausted, sleep deprived and smelly. He’d been roped into being my chief back labour masseuse and was on feeding duty, as well as my water jug filler donkey. I was getting through a litre jug every half an hour if not more, so you get the extent of his needed services. I had also been severely constipated for 3 days by this point and the thought of pooing myself during labour was heavily playing. Luckily though (i double checked after birth with the midwife), i didn’t!…Or that’s what she said, anyway.

12 noon, 30th April, 2016: Jenny, my glorious midwife, comes to find me. She pops her head round my bay curtain, finding me kneeling and legs spread apart, facing the top of the bed. I’m resting my bump on a pillow and hands clasped over my head with elbows on the mattress edge, I’m breathing deeply. Her timing, could not have been more perfect. I tell her I was just about to ask for pain relief, that each contraction has ramped up without any warning and that it is NOT OK.“I think,” she smiled, “that you may have already done my job for me. I’m taking you onto labour ward to get this baby out!”The relief of those words was more holy to my ears than Emmental. FINALLY! What a shame I’d only just sent Adam home for a shower, oops YOLO. He could live another day unwashed. Jenny broke my waters twenty minutes later, in between contractions. (I will never look at knitting needles the same again) Adam arrived pretty much as soon as this had happened, complete with the king of snack bags and for some reason i insisted on having a Solero despite feeling horrifically nauseous. I do remember it was the least enjoyable ice cream of my life however and apparently i had to keep passing it back to Adam and the midwife frequently as the baby moved further down with each pain. Jenny told us to go for a walk to get the labour moving but not to go “too far” just as a precaution. She told us that she’d be back to check in on me in 2 hours, so we went for a walk. I think we made it down the hallway – a whole 20 ft – before the next contraction halted all movement, this time seeming 100 times stronger and more paralysing. I barely had half a minute to catch my breath before the next one started and 5 minutes later we found ourselves back in the delivery room with Jenny, Gas & Air in mouth, bobbing up and down on my yoga ball and a further 2cm along. IT WAS ALL HAPPENING SO FAST AFTER 3 DAYS OF NOTHING.

Between this point and her birth, there was some pretty intense projectile vomiting over Adam on my part (hellooo, Solero my delicious friend), a lot of dithering with fluids being dripped into me due to collapsing veins and a large steroid bag, 3 midwives with their hands going in and out of my hoo-haa and several doctors standing in the doorway with their arms crossed and heads tilted, to gain the best view inside my extremely exposed birth canal. I was asked to change position several times as baby’s heartrate was dropping and she was becoming distressed due to my own dehydration from the vomiting spree and I remember the strength i distantly found between contractions to move from my side, onto my knees and then into a sitting position felt as if i had just lifted a mountain range. The spreading ache in my back was agony as i silently cried and gave up with the Gas & Air and let it drop out of my hand. As far as I was concerned the pain I was experiencing would never stop and I temporarily decided to give in to the exhaustion of labour. At this point, I felt Adam’s face touching mine and Jenny’s words of “Emma don’t give up, you can do this!” being repeated again and again. I remember silently saying to myself, “bitch please, I haven’t given up, my face just makes this expression when a baby comes out of me!”. And with a new found form of determination I found the energy to reach for the Gas & Air once more and hoisted myself upwards onto my bottom, before crying out that I needed to push.

I wasn’t allowed to push for another hour as my fluids were so low. The worry was that unless I become more hydrated I wouldn’t find the energy to give birth naturally and the baby could be in severe danger. More fluids were attached onto my IV drip but by this point the baby was already making her own way down and into the world. I hardly needed to push (in fact I pushed once slowly as an attempt to protect my perineum and once hard as her shoulders emerged) and in 6 minutes she was out and screaming. That burning sensation as her head crowned prompted me to breathlessly mutter something about never complaining about constipation again and she was born into a room of laughter, instead of tears. I will never forget the instant that she was lifted onto my chest and whilst I slightly question my first thought being, “wow, does the inside of my womb really smell like this?!” as I kissed her tiny head, the whole moment was perfection. Oh how I wish I could rewind the clock and experience it all again and share that first kiss with my daughter and Adam as a family.

Emilia Olympia was born at 19:40, 30th April 2016; 7lbs 12oz.

She latched instantly for 45 minutes and didn’t leave our sights once, even as I was stitched up for the next hour and a half. Apparently I tore pretty badly; this was something that I was pretty miffed about. I had brought 5 flannels with me in preparation to protect my perineum which I had ordered Adam to warm in hot water around 10cm dilation, but the midwives had quietly gestured that they wouldn’t be of any use as I had already started to tear a great deal. I had 12 stitches that evening and if you’ve ever been stitched for a minor cut or graze, imagine it a million times worse when it’s on your raw, bloody and freshly ruined fanny. Mmm. The local anesthetic was the worst part, prompting the need for more Gas & Air than Emilia’s head crowning but afterwards it was all pretty easy going and I’m pretty happy with my new vagina. I’m glad i stopped my best attempts of protest against the stitches (there were several questions of, “but do i really need them? Are you sure they won’t heal alone?”, followed by a regretful midwife face and one full of pity from the trainee paramedic in the room too) as during the procedure i distantly heard from down the bottom of the bed the senior midwife quietly murmur, “see, this bit should be up here..”. So ladies, if in doubt – stitch it up.

N is for Newborn

N is also for, No Sleep.

And also, No Matter How Many Times You Watch One Born Every Minute, You Will Never Be Prepared For Labour. But we’ll save that one for Milly’s birth story, which I’ll post up soon.

As I write this at 6am my 5 week old is comatosed next to me on the sofa following a mammoth early morning feed which started only a mere 3 hours beforehand. This was then proceeded by 40 minutes of HAND EXPRESSING (!!??? when will I learn to invest in an electric pump!) and despite only catching 2 1/2 hours of nap-time for myself in the past 24 hours, I’m feeling considerably okay. Every 20 or so seconds the baby gives a reassuringly happy full sigh, followed by some weird arm flailing and I can’t help but draw comparison to the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man from Family Guy. She’s also doing the creepiest exorcist-esque movement with her eyes mid sleep and I do have to wonder whether this child is ever so slightly possessed. Unwell or not Emilia, you are terrifying me with those zombie eyelid flutters.

Getting to know your newborn is a daunting yet thrilling experience and one which I never wish to stop doing. However, getting to know your poorly newborn does throw a slight spanner in the works, more specifically into my inner hormonal factory. Not being able to soothe my daughter when she’s uncomfortable is one of the most exerting emotions I’ve ever felt and not being able to attempt to do so with my own breast, which she has been firmly glued to for the past month and a bit, has been even harder. There’s no greater feeling of failure as a mother than when you’re told to stop breastfeeding for even a day to rule out an anomaly caused by medication you’re on for an underlying condition. Crohn’s and I haven’t been seeing eye to eye recently and my God, we’re heading up sh*t’s creak now. Throughout my pregnancy with Emilia I was constantly sick. My medication was increased, steroids were distributed like sweeties and the fear of affecting our baby was on high alert. I had two fantastic Obstetric Consultants, an IBD Nurse and a Gastroenterologist on standby, bloods were taken twice monthly, scans were frequent and the amount of trips to the DAU and Triage may as well have been in the record books but miraculously, this little dormouse popped out overdue and at an extremely healthy weight of 7lbs 12oz. Just like the disease had grown in severity during pregnancy, it seemed to calm almost immediately post-birth. Or so we thought. 5 weeks on and my longest flare to date is still active, forcing me onto an immune suppressant which has a high chance of causing us both discomfort and long term side effects. I shouldn’t feel such heartbreak at feeding my newborn a combination of Dioralyte and formula as I know it is currently for the best, but knowing my own magic milk being stored in the fridge may not be able to be used again is deflating and tear worthy. I made her, her lifeline for 9 months and a specific juice bank which she never ever has to share, ever – and it may have only been useful for 5 weeks. This is not a post on Breast vs Formula in any way and in my opinion if a baby is being fed the nourishment he needs then it really shouldn’t be debated. But for me, the way we’ve learnt to bond with each other has been taken away and I feel a slight emptiness at not being able to soothe my poorly baby in the one way I know how. I don’t have a big nose like her Daddy does which she uses to suckle when she wants comfort, or a soft beard to nuzzle into. Instead, I have two unused breasts that aren’t filling to capacity or even creating the best food for her. And it’s all thanks to Crohn’s. Cheers pal.