Uncategorized

Baby Buys on a Budget…

I’m no fashion queen. The best I can manage these days is a scruffy top knot (thank god these are in fashion!) a slick of blusher and a jumper that doesn’t (always) have baby vomit on. I’ve never been bothered about dressing my children in designer clothes either; it just doesn’t interest me. But I do like a lovely quality baby grow, and do think there are certain brands on the market that deliver super cute prints with a high quality cotton fit and feel.

I’ve recently become a serious dab hand at finding some pretty good baby clothes and items online at half the price. The secret? They are mostly second hand. Now I can imagine there are certain people out there reeling in horror at the thought of dressing their most precious ones in second hand clothes, and granted, it’s not everyones cup of tea. But when you are on a statutory maternity leave budget, it makes the thought of second hand slightly more appealing. And means you can get good quality clothing, which let’s face it they will out grow in no time just like someone else’s baby has, without breaking the bank.

I’ve got some really amazing buys (often at 3am in the morning during Baby J’s feed) and actually not all are second hand. Some items are brand new with the tags to prove it. My best buys have been a brand new Joules baby grow for 99p, and a bundle of Jojo Maman Bebe onesies for £3.00. As pictured above, I also got some lovely John Lewis onesies (one brand new) for just 99p each. Excuse the slightly none ironed look in the photo; my fault not the sellers! (I hate ironing with a passion) I stick to rigid rules about buying and rarely go wrong now.

My love of a second hand bargain isn’t just restricted to clothes. Baby J’s dove grey snuz pod was an absolute bargain at just £70 (they currently retail at over double that price) and even after buying a brand new mattress to go with it; I still saved a pretty penny or two.

Here are my fail safe tips to help you grab some serious online bargain and hopefully help dodge some second hand nightmares!

  1. Know Your Brands – I know the brands I like; I know the brands which are a better fit or quality (in my opinion) and I know what I like. So I stick to these brands to avoid any unknown nasties; after all, it’s not a bargain if you don’t like it and won’t use it! My fail safe baby clothing brands? John Lewis, Joules, Jojo Maman Bebe and Marks and Spencer. I also found that in the very early days of wearing premature baby sized clothing that John Lewis and M&S did some lovely 4lb sized suits.
  2. If You’re Not Sure, Don’t Buy! – Well this is fairly simple. Again, it comes back to the fact that it not a bargain if you’ll never use it.
  3. Know Your Market – There’s certain sites which are safer to buy on in terms of payment protection etc, and have a large range of items to browse through. EBay and Depop (if you have’t heard of Depop then I HIGHLY recommend you check it out) are my two go to places. You can also check out seller ratings if you’re unsure who you’re buying off. My Snuz Pod was bought from Facebook Market place – it happened to be a local seller so didn’t cost me on delivery or much in petrol, but I did take my lovely husband with me to pick it up. Safety first and all. It also gave me the opportunity to view it first – if it hadn’t have been what I wanted I would have simply said no thank you and walked away.
  4. Look for Quality – If the item looks like it’s of poor quality on the photo, then walk away. Or ask to see more photos. I’ve bought items before which are more bobbled than expected for example and I’ve only felt disappointed and not used the items. In hindsight, I could see the quality wasn’t great on the photos and should have not bothered.
  5. When You’re Done, Sell Them On – Unless you plan on saving them for the next generation, why not sell your unused baby items when you’re done. As long as you’ve looked after them well, most items should sell on again and it’s another way to save some pennies. Yes it can be a faffing around going to the post office etc, but if that doesn’t bother you then it’s another way to be quids in.
  6. Wash All Items First – Despite the fact that I looked for good quality items from decent sellers; I ALWAYS wash my items first before putting them on Baby J. No only do I like to use Non Bio washing gel; I can also get them smelling as I like too. For none baby clothing such as high chairs etc; I always clean and disinfect items first before dousing them in Dettol All In One Disinfecting Spray which is great on upholstery and hard to reach places too.
NICU Talk, Uncategorized

Our Red Room Story

My first sons birth had been a dream. After a four hour labour, I sat looking out of the hospital window, watching the sun go down, with my newborn baby in my arms. I remember thinking what a beautiful end to a beautiful day. So peaceful, calm and life changing. A perfect moment that I’ll honestly never forget.

Poor Baby J didn’t get his perfect moment. Born by emergency caesarean at 27+2 weeks, just before midnight, Baby J was resuscitated moments after birth.

I’d heard my baby let out a tiny cry (to my relief) and presumed this meant he was alive, but only weeks later did I understand he was born floppy, and needed resuscitation. I still, even as I retell his story, don’t quite understand what happened in those hours after his birth. A mixture of drugs, high emotions and general shock meant I couldn’t take it all in. But perhaps, in hindsight, that was a blessing.

As I’ve said before, my professional background is not in medicine, so forgive me if some of the terms or details in here are medically incorrect. I’m no NICU expert. Just another Mum who has seen her baby go to hell and back in what should have been such precious early days.

It was hours before I saw Baby J again. I’ll never forget the dimmed lights, beeping of machines and the way the doctors hurried around the Intensive Care Unit (Red Room) in such a silent, calm manner as I was wheeled down those corridors for the first time. Shit, this is serious.

Baby J was at the back of the room, crowded by Doctors and nurses who slowly moved aside as I approached. Seeing him took my breath away. There was my baby, covered in wires, with a tube in his mouth, just lying silently. Not moving. No newborn cries. My poor, poor baby. His skin was almost opaque, his eyes still fused shut, and he weighed just 950g. And yet he was perfect. A tiny, formed human being. He had eyes, ears, a nose, legs and arms. I could even see his heart beating under his skin. My baby.

Jack was placed on an oscillator soon after birth, which I had been told was a ‘last resort’ for breathing. His little chest buzzed from the vibrations of the machine. Over the next 3 days, Jacks fight for life stepped up. His infections markers where incredibly high and sepsis was suspected, so he was pumped with morphine amongst various other drugs to fight it out. Then his lungs collapsed. Followed was fluid on the lungs, then two chest drains in either side of his lungs. Then more blood transfusions. Then more wires. More serious. I struggled to take it all in. It honestly felt like I was in another body looking in on someone else’s life.

On day 3 my husband and I had finally fallen asleep in our room on the ward when we were woken by a knock at the door. It was 3am. The nurse poked her head in and told us Baby J was very poorly, and would we like to come see him. In fact, she said, our consultant insisted we come see him. We made our way to the red room within minutes and walked in to see half a dozen doctors and nursing staff around him. At 3am. That’s when our consultant spoke to us and gently suggested, should we be religious, now might be a good time to get a priest to him.

Typing those words is painful. To think we were so close to losing him takes my breath away nearly 5 months on. But at the time the haze of NICU meant those words didn’t really sink in. Only looking back weeks later did I really appreciate how very poorly my baby was. He wasn’t just poorly, he was on the verge of slipping away. In hindsight, I’m glad that we never knew the real depth of the situation back then. Sometimes ignorance really can be bliss.

In the days that followed we continued to see Jack fight infection; saw little improvement with his breathing; had chest drains removed; consequently had them put back in; placed under a jaundice light; plus his nasal cannulas had rubbed his nose so much that plastics were called to check his eroding septum. Then came the cranial ultrasound. A routine head scan to check for bleeds on the brain. Premature babies were high risk, we were told. And more so babies who were on oscillators, which Baby J was still dependant on. The scan showed a small grade 1 bleed, very common we were informed. We actually weren’t overly worried; it was the lowest grade and would be checked again in a week. It was just another issue in the long list of things that in truth, we didn’t really understand. So much information is hurled out you in all directions that it’s hard at times to breath it in. All we knew was our baby was very sick, but was in very good, safe hands.

Day 10 saw the repeated head scan. Alone, as my husband had gone back to work, the consultant asked if I had my husband with me. When I told him he was working, the consultant said he’d prefer to talk to us when we were both together with Baby J. A cold flush came over my body and I insisted he spoke to me immediately. ‘It’s not good news,’ he began. Words I’ll never forget. The bleed, he explained, had worsened. It was now a right sided Grade 4 IVH. Baby J, he said, would in the very least, have a weakening down the left side of his body. In the very least, he stressed. I now know he was referring to Cerebral Palsy. He also had cysts forming on the brain. At the time all I knew was that I was heart broken. My poor, precious, beautiful baby. Why him? Life was dealing him a cruel hand at just ten days old. I guess it’s a selfish was to think when other mothers didn’t have their babies; and we still had Baby J. But the fairy tail baby dream we had been hoping for just didn’t turn out how we expected. No mother expects that.

Despite the news of the brain bleed; Baby J’s remaining time in the Red Room was relatively straight forward. He suddenly and miraculously starting picking up. His breathing improved enough to come off the oscillator. His chest drains were gradually removed. His blood pressure stabilised. His infection markers improved. And we slowly saw the various fluid bags he was connected to lessen.

We spent 11 days in total in the Red Room. It felt like a life time. But seeing Baby J move to the Blue Room (High Dependency) felt like a small miracle. We didn’t expect to be leaving the Red Room so quickly. Even the Doctors didn’t. Part of me went into frantic panic as to whether the care he’d receive in the Blue Room would match that of the Red. But of course the sheer relief that we were out of Intensive Care over shadowed all other emotions.

Those 11 days of Red Room NICU we’re without doubt the most tense, frightening and stressful moments we were to experience. What followed was a relatively straight forward stay in the Blue Room (High Dependency) before we headed to SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) Of course we still went through various amounts of stresses for the rest of our time there as any parent does, but at least for us there seemed light at the end of the tunnel for our beautiful Baby J.

Mum time, Uncategorized

Post pregnancy skin care

Goodbye rosy glow…

Well it’s fair to say that pregnancy glow has well and truly left me now. Yet another stolen product of prematurity! I was one of those lucky ones who, according to my friends, had a rosy look to the face and an extra twinkle in the eye, something all the money and face creams in the world can’t buy. And whilst I think my friends were quite complimentary (perhaps a little too much at times) I did inwardly love what pregnancy did for my skin.

Fast forward a few months…well for a start, I’m no longer pregnant. This winter has been horrendously cold and grim, and on top of that I spent all hours of the day between November and January in NICU. The stuffy, dry air conditioned air in NICU certainly did my skin no favours, and let’s face it, skin care is the last thing on anyones minds when faced with that situation. My day to day survival relied heavily on drinking gallons of tea, grabbing (not so healthy) snacks on the go and classing exercise as the walk from the car to the unit. And just for good measure throw in a load of changing hormones stress and lack of sleep and the result?! Dull, dry and tired (oh so tired!) skin.

Now that home life has resumed, I have decided to try to get back on top of my skin. Being home means having a minute or two during the day to actually think about myself without being consumed with guilt for doing so. My skin care routine is, without a doubt, basic. And for any beauty addict out there whose cringing behind their 5 step beauty regime (which yes I’m very jealous of!) I’ll be the first to admit it’s probably all wrong! BUT it’s quick, simple and more importantly, it works for me. Back in my twenties, I would spend horrendous amounts of money on gorgeous products in the hope of making my skin flawless. Now I just want to have skin that looks healthy and gets me through the day! Oh how times change. Whilst I won’t bore anyone with my step by step beauty regime (did I mention it’s pretty basic?!) I wanted to share the 3 main products which I’m loving right now.

What’s on my face?

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension

I’ve been using this little gem for about a month now and it’s packed with vitamin C, perfect for revitalising dull, tired skin AND fantastic as an anti ageing product. I’ve always been a fan of vitamin C products and this doesn’t disappoint. I apply it before moisturiser in the morning, and it gives a real tingle to the skin. Not for everyone I may add. It has a grainy texture which again, wouldn’t be to everyones taste, but I for one am not offended by it. My skin has definitely regained some glow back since using this. And the best part of it…It’s as cheap as chips! Just £4.90. Perfect for maternity leave pockets. The Ordinary is a brand that has been on my radar for a while now, and their products are incredibly pocket friendly but pack a real punch. Don’t be fooled by the price tag! Have a gander at their website for more information (Be warned, you may end up with many products in your basket)

http://www.theordinary.com

Piz Buin Face Cream 50+ SPF

It’s no secret that sun cream is skin saviour staple, but recently I’ve ignored this skin product super hero. Before maternity leave, I was quite committed to slapping sun cream on my face (well during summer anyway) as I work outside in all elements. But this has been another missed step for me recently. So I headed to my local Boots to invest in a good high factor sun cream specifically for the face (I hate the greasy feeling that sun creams often leave) and found this little gem for only £6.00. I was amazed at the price difference in facial sun creams just by going between two separate aisles – head to the beauty aisles and you’ll pay at least twice as much for a sun cream as you will if you look in the sun cream aisle. Anyway, back to Puiz Buin…I’ve only been using this a few days and I’m really impressed with the none greasy texture, and how quickly it soaks into the skin. No streaky white marks or over powering sun cream smell. Now just to stay disciplined in incorporating it into my daily winter routine!

http://www.boots.com/piz-buin

Nivea Daily Essentials 24 Hour Moisturising Day Cream 

On a recent trip to another city with Baby J for an impromptu scan, I ended up staying over for a few days, and needed to buy a moisturiser to see me through (The joys of prematurity again!) A quick dash to the local Tesco landed me with this (literally the only face moisturiser they stocked) and I have to say, for £2.00, this isn’t half bad! It has a lovely soft texture that leaves the skin feeling well moisturised, but again, none greasy. I have naturally oily skin and avoided greasy textures like the plague so was well prepared to ditch my cheap buy once I got home. But still I find myself reaching for it every morning. The dryness which my skin has suffered over the past few months has already improved. I’ll be sticking with this for the time being at least.

http://www.nivea.co.uk

So there you are, three cheap and cheerful products that are helping me to find that lovely rosy glow again. And all under £10.00. Bonus!
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