This is the hardest blog post I've ever written. So many of my emotions on the subject are still raw and it's only now I can vocalise in some way the sadness, disappointment, regret and shame that I have felt over the last few months.

When Josephine was 10 days old, after some of the most difficult days of my life, my breast milk stopped and our breastfeeding journey was suddenly taken from us.
We always knew that we wanted to breastfeed our baby. It was something we didn't even need to discuss, so sure were we that it was the best thing for our child; the most natural and most convenient. Of course it wasn't necessarily going to be easy, and it could take a couple of months to really settle into the flow of things, but it would be amazing and beautiful and totally worth it. 
When we saw the breastfeeding nurse just after Josephine was born, and Phiney latched on for the first time, the nurse couldn't believe it was the first time I'd done it. We both seemed to have grasped this feeding malarkey instantly and within 5 minutes Josephine was snuggled up on my chest, enjoying her first taste of milk. I felt as much pride in myself at that moment as I did in the seconds after I birthed her, and I could see in Ben's eyes the joy at his wife nursing our baby. For two days, it was feeding bliss. She was feeding a lot, a lot, but I knew that was quite normal and I was loving every second of it, even confidently nursing in front of visiting friends and family.
Then on the third day, I started to get sore. Again, something I had expected to happen, but no less painful all the same. Our midwives watched Josephine latch on a few times, approved of my technique and advised buying some Lanolin to help with the soreness. The next day, the greasiness of the Lanolin had taken effect, soothed my cracking skin, and feeding was once again pain free. For now.
I could easily give a day by day blow of the following week or two. The good feeds and bad. The tears, the pain, the confusion as to whether or not the constant feeding and agony was normal. But to be honest, it all blurred into one long battle. Every day we discussed what was happening with the midwives and every day they assured us this was normal. But it was pain unlike anything I had ever felt and far worse than I had ever anticipated. Plus there was no let up, with Josephine often taking only minutes between hour long feeds; a pattern that continued through the day and night.
Soon I was advised by our midwife to stop feeding on my left side, so deep was the crack in my nipple. Feeding on that breast felt like someone stabbing me over and over again. So we bought a hand-held breast pump and I pumped the left side after Josephine had fed on the right side. The first day of our new routine worked great. The relief of not feeding Josephine from the left side was enormous and I could see some light at the end of the tunnel. But the next day I awoke to a practically empty left breast. And despite an hour or so of pumping, I managed to express barely an ounce. We talked to our midwife and were told to keep pumping it, just in case the milk started once more, but they warned us that if one side stops, it's likely the other side would too. After a few days of pumping, breastfeeding and formula, I awoke to find the right breast just as deflated. And that was that. It went as quickly as it came, and apart from the odd drip here and there, nothing would bring it back. 

So that's the facts. That's what happened on the outside. But it was what was happening on the inside that turned our world upside down for those weeks, and why I wanted to write our story for this blog. 

The emotional turmoil of not being able to successfully feed your child is something I can't explain. I think of myself as a happy-go-lucky and positive person, but these were the darkest of my life. As the days went by I even began to doubt the bond between Josephine and I. I started to dread being handed my tiny daughter; my own child. This fragile, beautiful creature that was relying on me. I'd find excuses to delay feeding her for just a minute more and I'd have to psyche myself up to her latching on. I would stand in the shower crying. I would sit in the dark, crying. When I spilt 6 ounces and an hour's pumping worth of milk all over our bed, I felt as though I had tipped away the most sacred of liquids and I cried. I barely managed to hold myself together when we had visitors, but when it was just Ben and I, I would break down. Going back and forth as to whether I could continue this journey. Hating myself for my lack of determination and for feeling anything but love towards Josephine.
We knew that the worst days hit as the very common Baby Blues arrived, but on day 8 I asked Ben if he thought it was just Baby Blues or if I was experiencing something worse. I couldn't bring myself to say the words, but I found myself reading the chapter on post-natal depression in the pregnancy book our doctor had given us. Ben knows me better than anyone in the world and during those weeks displayed strength unlike that I've ever seen from him. He took charge; cared for his girls, soothed me, comforted me and supported me. He told me that he believed I wasn't yet on that path, but that maybe I was at the gate; unsure whether or not to take it. We knew then we had to do something to change the situation because, honestly, it had started to take away the joy of those first days of parenthood; our first glorious days with Phiney.
Looking back, the advice given to us by our midwives during those weeks was often contradictory and confusing. We were told on more than one occasion that our positioning was perfect, before a new midwife realised I was moving my boob into Josephine rather than putting her in line with where it naturally sat, probably causing the friction and ultimately the pain. I was told not to use nipple shields as these would stop milk production and yet my friend Ash was told to give them a go by a midwife based at the same doctor's surgery as us, and is, 4 months later, still feeding her daughter using them as she won't latch on otherwise. And we remember fleeting comments regarding my milk production, or lack of. Something that we didn't really pick up on at the time, given our seriously tired states. Today we wonder if I was ever producing enough milk; if that was why Josephine was feeding so much for so long, which led to me getting so sore, being in so much pain and ultimately my milk stopping deso easily. But who really knows. On some level Ben and I think my body just decided to shut it down, stop the pain - both physical and emotional. That it knew my stubborn nature would never give in and that, maybe, real psychological damage could be done. But who really knows. 
What I do know is this; Josephine didn't care where her milk came from. Bottle, boob; formula or breast milk, as long as she was getting fed. For that we are truly thankful. It was me who was left scarred and broken. I find myself explaining the whole situation whenever we are asked if we bottle or breast feed, and I still want to stand up in cafes whenever I get out a bottle and shout to everyone that it wasn't my choice to feed her this way. Peering through my fringe, expecting to see glances of judgement from other women. Because, honestly, I was probably someone who would have done that before. And I've held back from writing certain posts here that make some remark to bottle feeding, as I wanted to explain the situation to you all first.
Over the last few months I've been astounded by the recollection of similar stories and situations from other new mothers I've met. Some have battled through and some, like me, had that decision taken away from them. I think that the method with which you choose to feed your child is entirely your decision. It's about what makes you happy, and your baby happy, and that's a great thing. But I can't help but feel I was robbed of that choice. That my body let me down by failing at the job it was built to do; to feed my child. I still, to a certain extent, feel envy when I see my friends breastfeeding and shame when I pull a bottle from my bag. It's something I'm working on to get over, dealing with in my own way. Because in my heart I know that I did all I could to keep breastfeeding, and went beyond what many people would to give Josephine the best start in life. Our daughter is sweet and lovely, divine and bright, alert and growing perfectly: that's all that matters. 

I decided to write this post because I honestly felt that the difficult side of breastfeeding, and I mean the really difficult side, is often kept quiet and hidden away as if something to be ashamed of. I felt at times like I was the only one who felt like giving into the pain and wished I could have read more than fleeting sentences exclaiming the odd bit of discomfort. Yet when I spoke of our situation to those other new mothers, I felt comforted and reassured. I don't want to scare anyone or put anyone off, after all so many women seem to have a comparatively easy time. And the days when it was good were the most beautiful; I would go through it all again 100 times to experience those moments once more. I just wanted to share my story. To let anyone else experiencing the same thing know that you're not alone. And that whatever happens, you're doing an awesome job.

I feel only adoration and love for my daughter and utter joy when I'm with her, and I in no way believe that bottle-feeding her has affected our bond. It hasn't; pure and simple. In fact going through that experience with her, and Ben, has only strengthened our bond as a family, I'm sure.

Someday, when baby number two arrives, we'll try breastfeeding again. Only this time we'll be more prepared for wherever that journey takes us.

Ben took this picture when Josephine was 5 days old. I will always cherish it. 



I started this post writing about how my absence round here was down to it being a tough old week thanks to Phiney's 3 month jabs making her pretty poorly. The lack of sleep has been a killer, and I've spent a few nights stood next to her cot with tears rolling down my cheeks at 3.30am pleading with her to go back to sleep. 

But I decided that was a bit self-indulgent. After all, if I was feeling ill and Ben got all pissy about how it was affecting his sleep, that would be pretty mean. And so it is for Josephine. It's not her fault that the blocked nose, gunky eye and throaty cough she's sporting right now are waking her up five times a night.

So instead I thought I'd just post these beautiful pictures Ben took a few weeks ago. And remember to sleep when Josephine's sleeping, breathe and stay calm and treat myself to chocolate biscuits in the middle of the night if that's what will get me through.



Josephine's Monthly Portrait. Taken in her nursery on the 18th of every month.

On Wednesday, Josephine turned 3 months old. No longer a newborn. How quickly the time passes when you're having fun.

While we're still going to do a Monthly Portrait, we thought we'd revisit the below questions every three months to keep track of what Josephine's doing and liking and entertaining us with over the coming years. We have one of those baby journal things but I've got to be honest we're completely rubbish at remembering to fill it in and when we do, we've forgotten some of the little, but still just as special, details.

So here goes. And we got Papa full on involved in this post too. He says 'hello' by the way...

Likes: People smiling at her, food, having a bath with Papa, not wearing a nappy, being in our bed, funny noises, music, eating her hands, playing with her baby gym, lying on the floor where there's lots of room to kick her legs and flap her arms.
Dislikes: Not getting fed quickly enough, sitting down, falling asleep when there's lots going on, being still, Papa taking ages when getting her dressed.
What makes her smile more than anything: Any occasion when Mama and Papa are both entertaining her at the same time, whether it's when she's having a nappy change, when she's snuggled in our bed or when we both go to get her up in her morning. She flashes the biggest grin when our faces appear over the bars of her cot.
Favourite toys: Kurt the tiny knitted teddy, Bob the mouse with a rattle in his belly and Horace the giraffe.
Mama's favourite thing: Lying next to Phiney in our bed, snuggled under the duvet and chatting away with her. I can imagine us doing this forever more. And a group hug with all three of us is hard to beat.
Papa's favourite thing: Every weekday morning, when Nell brings Phiney back into the bedroom (because we're usually up way earlier than lucky old Papa!) to wake me up and have a few cuddles. The best way to start the day. Also my chats with her and seeing her smile. Oh, and her hair.
Career prediction: Musician. Seriously, the girl loves her music.



Dear Papa...

Monday: In the supermarket, down your favourite aisle...
Tuesday: Trippy
(Wednesday: Ben was working from home so no need to send him a picture!)
Thursday: A day of snuggling on the sofa, sleeping off yesterday's jabs and waiting for you to get home Papa
Friday: No strangers mistaking her for a boy today, Pink Lady

ps. Thank you so much for all your beautiful comments on Josephine's birth story. Each one meant so much and I'm so happy I got to share it with you all xx



The Birth Story of Josephine Grace Mallia...

In the months leading up to us becoming pregnant, as my mind and body began to crave becoming a Mama, I followed many pregnancies and read plenty of the birth stories from the blogging community. My desire to experience the same only increased with every account of positive, natural labour I read. When our time came, and a baby grew in my belly, I can honestly say I looked forward to the final stage of my pregnancy; giving birth. I felt at harmony with my body, trusted it entirely to do what it had to and knew that ultimately I would let go, surrender and embrace bringing our child into the world.

Before Josephine was born, I wrote this post. Whilst a home birth had initially appealed to us, our intentions were to birth at home for as long as possible before heading to our nearest birthing centre 25 minutes away. However 4 weeks before our due date, at our ante-natal class, we changed our plans. I count us very lucky to live in an area that positively promotes labouring at home or in a birthing centre. From our first appointment at 8 weeks pregnant we were given details of talks and classes we could attend if we were interested in taking this route and given plenty of information to help us make a decision we felt was right for us. At our ante-natal group, when asked about their forthcoming labours, more than half of the couples spoke of their home birth plans. Such support gave us the confidence to home birth too, so we quickly arranged a midwife appointment to discuss the details and we ordered our pool.
As expected our due date (Monday Jan, 9) came and went with no signs of Baby deciding to make an entrance. We were both pretty calm about that as we'd anticipated it being at least a week late, so I spent the days relaxing, reading over my favourite birth stories for inspiration and my favourite extracts from this book while Ben was at work. I continued knitting away at the baby blanket I had started weeks before and added the finishing touches to the nursery.
My Braxton Hicks had been coming more regularly over the week and on Sunday morning I got out of bed hopeful that something might happen soon so we wouldn't have to consider a Stretch and Sweep at our 41 week midwife appointment the following day. I remembered reading this awesome birthing story and agreed that the best thing to do was focus on the here and now rather than worry about the prospect of procedures. I then went for a wee and was greeted with my bloody show. I gently woke Ben to tell him the good news. Reading that this signified the beginning or very early stages of labour we remained laid back, knowing it could still be days before we met our little one. Still, Ben was definitely hoping he wouldn't be heading to work the following day.
The rest of Sunday came and went without much development, just the occasional BH. On Monday lunchtime we headed to our midwife appointment, were told that as everything seemed to be kicking off, a Stretch and Sweep was unnecessary at this point (phew!) and were sent away with a "good luck" for all that was to come. As the afternoon progressed my BH got stronger with every hour that passed and we soon started to wonder if they had gently become contractions. Then at 9pm they stopped dead. Completely disappeared. We went off for a walk in the dark to try and get them re-started but to no avail. Ben thought an early night would be a good idea in case it all started up again, so by 10pm we were tucked up wondering what the night would bring.
At bang on midnight I was awoken by a contraction that was so strong I had to use the breathing techniques I'd read about so many times to work through it. Aware that, once again, they could suddenly stop I decided against waking Ben and getting his hopes up. Instead I breathed deeply in the dark, rubbing my belly, whispering to Baby that it would be awesome to meet it soon. I felt calm and relaxed and excited by every contraction. Never scared of the pain. Never fighting what my body was built to do.
After what seemed like 20 minutes, I checked the time before waking up Ben. To my amazement it was 1.30am. I'd been so focused on surrendering to each contraction that time had melted away. I woke Ben and explained what had been happening and before long he was witnessing it for himself. Still aware that Baby could be a long way off, Ben dozed while I continued to relax and let go. But by 3am I was out of bed and leaning over the gym ball, needing it's support to feel comfortable. Between each rush I would curl up on the floor at the foot of the bed to rest. Soon I knew this was really it and I needed Ben. He encouraged me through the contractions and by 4am we decided to call the midwife as they were coming thick and fast. She told Ben that until the length of the contractions were so exact you could set your watch by them, we had a while to go, but to keep her informed and to call if we had any questions.
The next few hours came and went with Ben timing every rush. They were sporadic to say the least. Lasting for anything between 30 seconds and 3 minutes, and arriving between 2 and 7 minutes apart. As night turned to day, I knew that I had to get moving so I spent hours walking around the living room, leaning over a dining chair to breath through each rush. At around 2pm, one of the lovely midwives dropped in to see how we were doing and promised to come back when her afternoon appointments were over. By 5pm, we had moved to the kitchen for a change of scenery and I spent hours bouncing away on the gym ball. Nicky returned, checked me over and revealed I was 4cm dilated. It was good to know things were heading in the right direction, but I have to admit, after around 18 hours of contractions, I was a little disheartened to hear it wasn't more.
By this point, the rushes were really strong and before she left Nicky recommended Ben fill up the pool to give me some relief. While I felt a little tired, the excitement of getting closer to meeting our baby kept me going and I was urging every contraction to increase in strength and open me up more. I bopped in the pool while Ben sat next to it; encouraging me, taking care of me.
At 11pm our midwife Laura rang to see how we were doing and to let us know she was on her way. Soon after she arrived she checked me over again and we were more than a little disappointed to find out I was only 5cms dilated. 9 hours and only 1cm. I knew I had to stay focused and positive though, so I carried on bouncing on the gym ball and soaking in the pool. Ben there, every step of the way. Making me laugh, stroking my hair and fetching me drinks. The night went on with contractions a-plenty but I kept breathing steadily and deeply, visualising our baby moving down and remembering that soon we would meet our son or daughter.
As the early hours of Wednesday morning came and went I started to feel tired. Really tired. The contractions were strong and sometimes there seemed only seconds between the end of one and the beginning of the next. Laura force fed me banana (I had refused it from Ben, but felt I couldn't get away with that with Laura!) and drank too quickly a few swigs of Lucozade. Which I then promptly threw up in the bath. Meanwhile Ben and Laura continued to be amazing. Encouraging me all the way and lightening the mood with laughs and general conversation that was a welcome distraction from the still ever-increasing contractions.
At around 5.30am Laura checked me once more. 'I must be nearly there, nearly dilated' I thought as I clambered onto the bed once more. But we were in for a shock. Another 5 hours and no progress. Nothing. Before we could really talk about what was happening I had to get up. Lying on my back seriously increased the strength of my contractions and for the first time I started to loose a bit of control. Over the next couple of hours having a wee and lying down were avoided at all costs because of the pain and Ben was now having to guide me through the first 10 seconds of each contraction, reminding me to breath long and deep through soft lips.
Until this point I had been the breathing queen. Never faltering, no matter how strong the rush. I had also not seen the contractions as painful until now. They hurt, sure, but I could control it and I knew that I had to surrender to my body as it pushed my baby down and opened up. But now I could only yelp during those first seconds of every rush, feeling for the first time that maybe I couldn't do this. The joy of being in the pool (the freedom to move so effortlessly onto all fours as I worked through each rush was bliss) had began to fade and I started to feel like I was loosing touch with my body. That I was somehow becoming detached from what was happening.
7am. I remember being slumped in the kitchen, over the gym ball. I was so tired. Exhaustion that I had never known, and I didn't know how I was going to continue. Ben sat next to me, as he had for all those hours, with his eyes closed. He had so immersed himself in being with me, he was just as drained. Sure, I had been the one going through the physical side of labour, but he had been through the mental side with me. Keeping me going when I started to falter. Remaining positive when I started to panic. I could see the 'get up and go' look that had been steady on his face, slowly fade away and I started to wonder how we were going to continue. I looked at Ben and told him how I could see now why people took the drugs and gave into the healing relief of an epidural. As we talked, revealing to each other how tired we really were, Laura listened from the hallway. The whole night she was there when we had questions and needed reassurance but slipped away and gave us time alone too, allowing us to focus on the techniques we had read about and discussed before this point and to share intimate moments, just us. For this we were so grateful. As she came back into the kitchen she told us that she thought it was time to check me again. She knew that we needed to get things moving and soon, before my body gave into a lack of sleep and energy.
At about 8.15am Laura's face told me everything. I was around 6cms. Nearly three hours and only 1 more cm. If I had the energy I could have cried. Laura knelt on the floor beside our bed and explained that it appeared my cervix had stopped dilating on one side. That she thought I needed Oxytoxin to get it open and that I'd have to go to the hospital to have it administered. It was our choice though. She would stick with our decision to birth at home if we wanted to keep going, but that she could see I was tired and she wanted us to know all the options. Once again she left Ben and I to chat about what we wanted to do. But we didn't know. Ben said that he thought I could keep going if I believed it, but that he could understand how the exhaustion was taking over. I didn't know what to do. I felt more detached from what was happening than ever and, honestly, just wanted it all to stop. To close my eyes and sleep for weeks. We went back and forth, unable to make a decision. Which is when Laura stepped in. She said that she was going to call the ambulance, and we didn't fight her actions. We needed her to use her experience and make the call for us. Over the last 9 hours she had got to know us, had read and re-read our birth plan and knew what we hoped from our labour. We knew she was making the decision she thought was best for all three of us. Still, as I looked at Ben and he looked at me, our faces were a picture of disappointment. Between them, Ben and Laura dressed me, gathered any last minute bits for the hospital bag and before we knew it the ambulance was outside. As we walked into the crisp early morning, the cold air hit me and I told Ben how disappointed I was. As I laid down on the ambulance bed my contractions, which had strangely stopped for the last 10 minutes, came back with avengence and the journey was a blur of sirens and pain. I was wheeled into the hospital and our private room. It was about 8.45am and as we met our new midwife Saskia (Laura's shift had ended at 8 but she wanted to see us into the hospital and make sure we were with a great midwife before she left us) I told her that I wanted to be home that day, no matter what. Despite having barely enough energy to walk I was still determined that our first night as a family would be spent in our own bed and I confidently told Saskia that I still wanted no pain relief at all.
Soon I was hooked up to an IV, through which they administered the Oxytoxin, had an uncomfortable strap round my belly that was monitoring Baby's heart rate and was trying to maneuver round a narrow and uncomfortable hospital bed. This is everything we wanted to avoid, I thought. As the Oxytoxin made it's way into my body my contractions seemed harder than ever to work through, but the change of scenery and hit of fresh air had restored some of my determination and I managed my breathing once again. Deep, long, slow breaths, through which I remember hearing the midwives comment on how controlled I was given that I had now been in labour for so long. Quickly it seemed like I was experiencing one long contraction. Any rest bite between rushes had disappeared and soon I was sick again. Afterwards Ben told me that I should have had 3 contractions in 10 minutes and I'd had 6 so they turned down the dosage of Oxytoxin. Those 10 minutes drained the last bit of energy I had remaining and it was during the next, excruciating contraction that Ben told me that I was going to have gas and air for the next one. Until now I had refused it, believing that it would rid me of my natural birth, but as I came out of the haze that contraction had surrounded me in I knew I had to trust in Ben and do what he thought was best.
I was told afterwards that gas and air had in no way taken away my natural birth. All I know is that I couldn't have survived the rest of the labour without that hour of gas and air. While the contractions remained as strong as ever, it took me to a level where I could mentally recover from the last hours of labour; it gave me back my attitude. I got my breathing back on track, I talked to Ben during each rush (apparently it was a lot of rubbish, but that's the joy of gas and air) and with every minute that passed, I knew I was becoming myself once more. I was back in tune with my body and I was going to be able to do this.
Soon, I started to feel the urge to push during the last seconds of each contraction. Saskia and Ben kept me breathing, rather than pushing, while Saskia checked to see if I was fully dilated. She told me that I had one last bit to go before I could fully push, so when the next contraction arrived not to fight the urge, but not to help it along either. That was enough, and I was fully dilated. Ben hung up the pipe feeding me gas and air (you're not allowed it when it comes to pushing time) and we got ready to push.
I was back and ready to go. Centered and determined; excited to finally meet our little one.
The pushing part was my favourite. Baby moved down quickly and steadily and soon, with every round of pushing, Ben was seeing more and more of its head. Soon he could see the top of a head full of hair and, reaching down, I felt Baby too. I put all my energy into pushing into my bottom as hard and for as long as I could. No noise escaped my lips. I wasn't go to waste an ounce of my newly returned umph on unnecessary screaming. Looking back, I think I rocked the pushing part. I was focused and determined and soon it was time to get that Baby's head out, but despite all my efforts it was just too big. Saskia explained that an episiotomy would probably be the best option but gave me one more attempt to get the head out on my own. I pushed with all my might, Ben cheering me on, but to no avail. So I had a local anaesthetic and a small cut was made. Ben said that was the worst bit of the whole thing. Apparently the noise was horrendous - I was distracted with other things so was barely aware of what was happening. With the next push Baby's head was out. Ben and the midwives all tried to get a peek of it's face and Ben reported back to me that the dark brown hair I'd hoped for was there a-plenty. Saskia and Mary, a more experienced midwife who had popped in and out during our time at the hospital and who asked if she could stay and see this baby born, guessed from it's squished up face that it was a girl, while Ben was still sure it was a boy. Ha! Those midwives know their stuff.
After another round of pushing, Mary told me to keep my eyes open next time I felt the urge to push so I could see our baby be born. I pushed harder than ever, knowing we would be meeting our baby in a matter of moments. And then there she was. Saskia pulled her straight onto my naked tummy and chest and I asked Ben if it was a boy or girl.
"It's a girl!! Oh my God, it's girl!!" We beamed surprised smiles at each other, laughing at how wrong we, and everyone else, had been with their predictions. The three of us kissed and squeezed each other, knowing that our lives had changed forever in those seconds. It was 1.08pm on Wednesday January 18, nearly 40 hours after my first contraction. Ben sweetly told me how amazing I had been and we both whispered to our baby girl that she'd done an amazing job too. As I was telling Ben how awesome he had been Saskia looked up and agreed, offering him a job as a midwife if he ever fancied a career change, so impressed had they been at his attitude, encouragement and all round brilliance as a birth partner. Something I never doubted would be true.
As we snuggled together Saskia delivered my placenta and stitched up my small cut and a little natural tear that had occurred and when we were ready she quickly took our little one, wiped her down and weighed her. Saskia had guessed at 7 1/2 lbs, so was surprised to see she was 8lbs 1 and 54cms long. She wrapped her in a soft clean towel and popped on a hat before handing her back and leaving us alone. And there we sat. A new family. We named her Josephine Grace. The only girl's name we had truly considered.
Later the breastfeeding midwife came to visit us (we weren't allowed to leave hospital until they had seen Baby latch on and feed a couple of times) and then Ben rang our parents. I heard their shrieks of delight on Baby's safe arrival, and the fact she was a girl!
A few hours later, I was helped into a warm bath to clean off, while Ben stripped off his t-shirt and held his tiny daughter inside his hoody. When I emerged I found my two favourite people snoozing together in the chair. Their bond was so strong already, it was clear to see, and my heart swelled with happiness. We left the hospital at 4.30pm, just over 3 hours after Josephine came into the world, and were tucked in bed together that night as we'd always hoped and planned.

So that was our story. It didn't go how we thought, and while we were initially disappointed to be heading to the hospital, it still turned out to be a beautiful experience. We were blessed with midwives who understood and respected our hopes for labour during the whole process, and who ensured we got the calm and natural labour we wanted, despite a change of location.
During those 37 hours there were times I wondered if I would be able to do it but deep inside I knew that my body was capable of doing what it was built to do. And Ben was there to remind me of that whenever I needed it. As I always knew, it took 3 people to deliver our baby safely into the world; Ben, Baby and I. Ben has never been more amazing than he was during those hours. He showed strength and confidence in me when I doubted my capablility, and his kindness and soft words during these moments urged me to keep going. Sharing that experience with him has made me love him more than I thought I could and I'll never forget those quiet moments when the squeeze of his hand around mine and the stroke of his fingers on my face reminded me of his love and pride when I needed it most.
And our little girl, Josephine. From the first examination all those days before, her heart rate stayed steady and strong despite the long hours, the Oxytoxin and my heightened stress levels on the journey to hospital. Just as she had been during my entire pregancy she was as laid back as ever and when she was born she barely let out a cry. Just laid on my chest staring at her Mama and Papa with wide, beautiful eyes. Taking it all in.

I have written and re-written our story time and again, hence why it's taken so long to post it here. I was so inspired and encouraged by positive birthing stories throughout my pregnancy that I hoped to give something back to the blogging community in submitting my own; an account of a positive labour yet one that didn't go according to plan. And because of this I wanted to get it just right. I hope that someone out there will read this and be given comfort in the knowlegde that even if things vere off the course you hope and plan for, labour is still the most beautiful and enlightening of experiences.



Dear Papa...

Monday: Peace out Papa!
Tuesday: Hurry home Papa, these cheeks want kisses
Wednesday 4th April: Wat up, Daddio!
Wednesday 11th April: ...and the little one said
Thursday: Best buds
Friday: Learning to fly

With Ben off work on the days around Easter, this week's edition includes photos from last week and this week. Turns out that red cardigan is a favourite on Wednesdays...



Today Ben went back to work after his 6 days off. It was absolute bliss having him here, and Josephine and I were as sad as he was when he left early this morning.

The last few days have been largely spent like the above. Chilling on the sofa, eating chocolate, getting plenty of hugs and getting plenty of kisses. What more could you want?

We hope you all had as beautiful an Easter as we did.

Over the last week, we took some very pretty pictures of Phiney - not just the ones above. So be prepared for a baby photo bombardment....



Right now, I have a hankering for neon.

Dress from
Satchel from
Trainers from
Print from



There have been certain times during the last (nearly) three months when the changes our lives have undergone since having a baby really become apparent; none more so than weekends. Since Josephine arrived, those two and a half days (because I always think of Friday after 5.30pm as half a day!) have become even more precious. Time just the three of us is the best in the world and with all the sunshine we've been having, it's even better. But that's not to say I don't miss one of the greatest gifts a weekend can offer...the lie-in.

Sunday morning, previously reserved for the longest of sleeps, was this weekend spent out walking. At 8am. Because a certain little lady decided that, actually, she'd rather not go back to sleep as she does every other day. I cleaned my teeth, pulled on some trainers, stuck on some sunglasses (to hide those tired eyes) and pulled Phiney's coat over her PJs. We walked through the village and all the way along the main road and back, taking a few detours on the way and eventually she fell asleep. You know it's too early when one of the busiest roads in the south west is empty of traffic in both directions.

(Taken with my iPhone. That's our house up there.)

Luckily some midday naps and cuddles in bed with this little monkey helped get us through the rest of the day.

The afternoon was spent browsing a vintage fair in town where I scored these two beautiful vintage dresses. Not sure of the ages exactly, but they're big and I've been warned that it gets harder to find such things for older kids so I snapped them up. Could have happily taken a few things for myself, but this post-pregnancy body isn't quite ready for new clothing purchases.

A good weekend all in all, and only 2 more days until Ben starts his six day holiday from work. SIX days baby! Just lazy times at home and in the garden planned, with the obligatory Easter egg. Or 6. Bring it on.



Dear Papa....

Ever since Ben went back to work after Josephine was born, I've been meaning to send him a picture a day of what we're up to, so he doesn't feel like he's missing out too much; leaving for work each morning is tough for that boy, as I'm sure it is for most of the Papa's out there. So far we've only managed the odd picture, but this week we got organised and Phiney and I have been sending him a sweet picture and caption every day that remind him we're always thinking of him.

Monday: Chillin' in the rocker.
Tuesday: Rocking the stripes.
Wednesday: Sofa snoozes at Nana's house.
Thursday: Colour co-ordinated Mama and Phiney.
Friday: Serious Mohawk.

It's been fun doing this, and it's something we want to keep up with. Ben loves receiving each and every one, forwarding them to his team with pride. He's seriously smitten with his baby girl.

Photos taken on my i-Phone. I'm hoping to post these each Friday evening; just wasn't quite on the ball this week.