The one where I got ‘lashed’……

Hah!  That got your attention!  I sincerely hope that I never post photographs of what I look like when I am alcoholically ‘lashed’ – that may put people right off!  What I mean, is that I had eyelash extensions – what I would call quick fix eyelash extensions, ones that last for a week or so – you have them put on, you do your thang, you go back and it takes 5 mins to get them soaked off.  Easy Peasy.  This is a really fab solution for holidays, weddings, parties ya de ya,

Helen, from SmoothAs Chipping Norton asked me to review the eyelash extensions.  I was a welcome candidate and a willing one as well.  I seem to have lost my eyeballs from lack of sleep and my eyelids have developed droopy hoods, I’m blaming it on The Baby, but in the back of my mind, the slippery slope of my 40′s has started already.  Anyway, I digress.  Eyelashes.  To be specific – Lash Express lashes which cost £35 at Helen’s treatment room on New Street.  This includes the soak off.  The lashes are mink and soft and flexible, so you don’t feel like you have spikes attached to you.  There are a variety of lengths and they can be applied to look natural or a more ‘va voom’

Honestly, WHY do I do this to myself!  No makeup, can’t be arsed to retouch coz I’d be here ALLLLL day.  This is it folks.  This is what I looked like when I rocked up for my treatment.  My diet of 4-5 hrs sleep a night for 11 weeks is knocking 5 bells out of me!

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The total bonus for this treatment is that you get to lie down for 30 mins.  Felt like a refreshing lifetime!

This is the lovely (and god, she has AMAZING SKIN) Helen who did my treatment. (check out her special deal at bottom of blog post)

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And this is what went on whilst I kept my eyes shut!

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Christ, I’m booking in for botox or a course of CACI Facials FAST having seen these!

These are the shots of my lashes being applied. One by one.  Its painstaking and is quite a skill.

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And here we are once my lashes had been done.

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And finally, with some makeup on in my perfect world, where I have a perfect baby and everything is just amazing and awesome and brilliant…….Life with a lovely instagram filter……

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My verdict.  I LOVED them.  I was very sad when they had to come off.  And now I keep thinking about having the semi permanent ones…..I didn’t have a party or wedding or holiday to go on, but they just made morning routines so much faster and I felt that I had eyes again!  Lash Express are available all across the UK – check out their Facebook page for other therapists

 

Helen is doing a special offer on semi permanent lashes (the more permanent ones) £60 instead of £75.  If you book in for Lash Express (the ones I had) you get a free brow tidy as well.  Offer is valid until and including 1st December 2014.  Call her on 07748 241439.  

 

A simple but impressive roast butternut squash salad.

Whilst I am doing well keeping my hand out of the biscuit tin – well, to be completely honest, the house is without any sugary treats at the moment – such is my determination to lose this blinking baby weight. Don’t you find boredom and thinking “oh great, another boring salad with cucumber, lettuce blah de blah” just seems to make you hungrier…..with this in mind and with an emptyish fridge, I googled the combination of food I had available and came out with this salad.  Easy to do and really tasty to eat.  Try it!

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Ingredients

2 cups butternut squash

1 cup of pomegranate kernels (is that what they are called?!)

2/3 cup of walnuts (I didn’t have any, so used pecans)

1/2 cup of feta (or goats cheese)

Rocket or baby leaf salad

For the vinagrette

Zest and juice of an orange

Zest and juice of a lemon

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp of pomegranate juice

1-2 tsp of fresh rosemary

 

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Method:

Cube and roast the butternut squash.  I cook mine in a little coconut oil as it makes it taste amazing.  Most ovens will do this in 25-30 mins at 200 degrees.

Allow a little time for it to cool.

Put butternut in a large bowl with the feta, walnuts and pomegranate.  Make sure that it is well mixed.

Drizzle over the salad dressing

Put on a plate and add the rocket/salad leaves

There you have it!  A lovely salad.

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Are these not the cutest tops?

Isn’t it lovely to receive a parcel thats beautifully wrapped?  It makes the whole day seem just that little bit lovelier.  I know that sounds mad, but thats how I felt when I received my parcel from Katie at Tommy and Lottie which specialises in “good quality and well made ethical & sustainable unisex babies t-shirts that have fabulous graphic images which all generations can relate to”.   And labels (made with love!) that scream ‘this is going to be good quality’ – so much nicer than most of the offerings out there!

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The cotton is lovely and thick and feels like top quality.  Katie prides herself in using sustainable and ethically produced products and the printing is done using no harmful chemicals or dyes.

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I chose a hedgehog long sleeve top for Eloise to try and when it turned up (we have 0-3 months) it seemed absolutely enormous – Katie had warned me – but I am happy to say that with a couple of weeks growth spurt, Eloise, now 10 weeks old looks great in it!  And the bonus is, I think she will get to about 6 months happily in it as there is still plenty of room!  There are lots of designs from foxes, helterskelters, bumper cars.  All a lovely and unisex – a refreshing change from all the gender specific clothes out there.

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The tops retail at £20 for a long sleeved t-shirt and at £17 for a short sleeved t-shirt.  I admit, it isn’t the sort of thing that you would have several of in your wardrobe, but as a gift for a newborn or from a godparent/grandparent and SO SO refreshing to get away from cartoon characters and general tat – I would definitely give these as pressies.  And knowing that the gift was going to be packaged up and sent with such care is another reason to indulge.

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The tops start at o-3 months and go up to to 24 months.  SO cute, I wish she did them bigger as I would love to dress The Toddler in them.

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* I was sent a t-shirt in return for an honest review*

Family Fever

 

 

Gone to the dogs!

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Now, its hardly any surprise to you that I’m still loafing around in my maternity trousers.  So, whilst I am on a fashion go slow whilst I regain my body – and my composure…..there has been absolutely NOTHING stopping me for buying things for the kids and the dogs!  New collars all around (let me clarify – collars just for dogs, not kids…although….) and god did I trawl some websites looking at the guff you can buy!  As much as my inner girlie says ‘buy the diamante collar’ I pull myself up at the last minute and remind myself, I live ‘in’t countryside’, not suburbia.  I have big dogs, not pocket sized ones.

Look, I may have 3 Labradors, and I may be able to regale the story of how they are 14th generation started by my Grandmother – beautiful working dogs blah de blah – but to me, they are my mates – the 3 amigos, mud and hair, wags and lots of licks wherever we go.  They wear collars – which ‘in’t country’ can be slightly frowned upon.  But you know what? I love a collar.  I can identify my dog, grab it and hopefully if I loose it, I may stand half a chance of getting it back!

Finally (yes really this was ongoing for several weeks) I came across a website called Dogs and Horses.  And oh WOW!  A perfect blend of sophistication and practicality.  HOORAY!

The 3 amigos like a swim.  They swim most days, if they aren’t swimming, there is usually something to roll in.  Leather collars stink, if this is repeated daily and I was getting bored of my husband constantly moaning about the ‘dog smell’ (I have to admit there was one, but don’t tell him!).

As I browsed the Dogs and Horses website I came across the webbing and leather ones – I ordered one for Wilfie as a trial and 3 months later took delivery of my next two for Lettie and Rhubarb.  Smelly dog collar problem solved.  I can wash this on a cool wash with my normal detergent and the doggy smell is GONE!  The leather is easy to treat as well, a little saddle soap or beeswax keeps it looking great.  I’m telling you all this simply because its worked so far.  As you’ll see from Wilfies collar – it still looks as good as new after a summer of swimming and the occasional roll in a badger poo!

Take a look at the pictures and remember………never work with animals and children.  I had both with me.  BAD IDEA!

So. Child attached, camera over shoulder….these are the shots we got.

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The beautiful Rhubarb, sporting her feminine, but strong pink mix.

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Wilfie posing in his manly and patriotic mix..

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And Lettie……the funniest, most bonkers dog in a jaunty orange stripe.

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And there is ALWAYS one who will look in the wrong direction! By the way, do you like my house?  *dreams*

IMG_4275Rhubarb posing by a lovely dry stone wall

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The finish is really good quality as you can see.  Nice and robust and doesn’t new leather always smell so sumptuous?  This is part of the cotton collection that they do – it retails at £25 and makes the perfect essential or even a rather lovely Christmas pressie for your beloved pooch!

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I’ve nailed it! – Quick fix express manicure!

I’m 8 weeks in to the baby thing again.  Having a 2 year old and an 8 week old is quite something!  Things in the ‘personal admin’ department have had to slip, one being my nails!  Those who know me well, know that my nails are ALWAYS painted.  Well, not now…..if I manage to do my own gels, its quite a major feat.

Last week whilst doing the graveyard shift feed at 2 am I was flicking through Instagram and came across one of my style crushes, Does My Bum Look 40, with some SPECTACULAR nails….with a little digging (aka scrolling through her instagram comments) I found out what they were….I had to try them.  They sounded like the perfect solution for anyone who is just stretched for time.  And now I am going to share them with you.

STICK ON NAILS!  Now, before you recoil with disgust……hear me out.  Times are desperate.  I had a Wedding Anniversary Date with The Husband (of course!) and I needed to pull the proverbial rabbit from the hat in terms of pulling my ‘personal admin’ back from the brink of no return!

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These things are the take-away/fast fix option in the nail world and they have come a long way in the last 10 years.

So……i’m ashamed to admit it….here are my nails…not really worthy of a date night!

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The stick ons come in loads of sizes so you can be sure that they’ll fit most nails.  It really is as simple as lining up the sizes you want and sticking them on……then a quick file if you want to shape them and you are done!

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Voila! Sexy date night nails.  They cost £7.99 and are available in Boots and online at loads of places and come in heaps of colours.

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Coconuts about this oil!

A quick post today because I have a grumpy baby!

I wanted to share with you my new addiction!  I wasn’t asked to review this – a mate of mine told me that I *had* to have it.  How right he was!

Its natural, organic and monoi which is made from Tahitian Gardenia smells like heaven to me!

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Dr Organic Coconut Oil and Monoi  Moisture Melt Body Oil.  OH MY GAWWWD.  This stuff is just the business.  I slathered it over my pregnant bump, now I’m not pregnant I smear it all over the place in the hopes that it magic’s all the wobbly bits away (sadly there is no promise of this!).  I use it on my cuticles, as a hair masque as well.  Its quite the loveliest thing I have come across in …… well, blooming AGES!

In the glass bottle, the coconut oil is solid and white, so when you are showering in the morning, I suggest having it in the shower (by the drain seems to work for me!) or sitting in a warm basin of water.  The result…..a delicious warm oil to slather all over yourself.  It soaks in perfectly so theres no residue and my skin feels baby soft and smells amazing as well.

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Thats all I can write as shouty baby is well – shouty!

Get it from Holland and Barrett – its £9.49 and you can get it online (click the link) so won’t break the bank either.  GO GET IT!

What happens when breast is just NOT best?? – The Munchkin Latch Bottle

I’m all for a spot of breast feeding.  Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the health implications and the benefits all too well.  I have always loved the idea that both of my children would be exclusively breast fed for at least the first 6 months of their lives.  So what happens when life, sickness and a whole load of other stuff gets in the way and things don’t go to plan?

Whilst I was at the BritMums Live blogging conference in June, I got talking to the team at Munchkin.  They had recently launched their new Latch range of bottles.  Having combination fed with my son as well I was really interested to hear about the teat that by all accounts was mimicking a breast.  A couple of weeks later, I was asked to be on the Bloggers Review Panel for them and I accepted – hoping that I wouldn’t really need them…..How wrong I was!

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I have my beautiful daughter Eloise.  She is 8 weeks old.  We haven’t had the easiest of starts.  A tongue tie (took 2 weeks to sort out – meanwhile my nipples were shot to pieces – literally SHOT to pieces), a womb infection and sepsis from me which required hospitalisation for 4 days and lots of antibiotics.  Then we had a few weeks of Eloise screaming pretty much non stop – this climaxed in an emergency bolt to A & E with a ferocious temperature and a rash.  Cue another week in hospital with her on intravenous antibiotics for a urine infection and an extra new problem….the dreaded silent reflux.  I think its fair to say, I gave it as good as I could but I waved a white flag about 3 weeks ago and ditched “Breast is Best” having valiantly done a couple of weeks of combination breast and bottle feeding, I immersed myself in the world of formula bottle feeding, trying to keep a very refluxy baby happy as well.

Whilst I was in hospital, I was even presented with one of these!  I thought it was a cappuccino maker, but NO, it was the NHS breast pump machine!

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There are lots and lots of bottles on the market that claim to be leaders in anti colic, anti burp, no bubbles blah de blah.  The choices go on and on and more often than not, parents will choose a brand of bottle based on other parents recommendations – this to me seems to be the best way, after all, no one is going to recommend a product that they don’t think works!  So, with this in mind and also because I don’t want to pull wool over anyones eyes (my son had colic and it was pretty wearing….) – I have to say, hand on heart, we haven’t had  a colic or trapped wind problem at all!  No need for potions or drops or funny formulas – Eloise sits on my knee after a feed and a couple of shouts later a burp pops out and life resumes as normal!  If that isn’t a reason to buy these, then I don’t know what is! With my son, we spent ages massaging his back, patting, shushing whilst he contorted himself and yelled his head off in pain after every feed.

Its really hard for me to describe exactly what they do, so I’ve cheated and attached the promotional video which describes it perfectly.  Whilst I was doing a combination of breast feeding and bottle feeding I had absolutely no problems with Eloise adjusting to either myself or the bottle teat.  I also did combination feeding with my son which resulted in him favouring the easiness of the bottle that i was using at the time and rejecting me after a couple of weeks.  With the number 1 teat being a slow flow, Eloise had to work for her milk so she didn’t get to favour the faster bottle over me.

Here is my lovely parcel that turned up back in July.

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Because they were launched earlier on this year, they are not as widely available as other brands are, but these bottles are definitely worth hunting down. You can get them on Boots websites, in Asda & JoJo Maman Bebe.  These get a huge thumbs up from me!  I will recommend them to other parents.  I even showed them to the nurses on the children’s ward at the John Radcliffe hospital and they loved them!  If you can’t exclusively breast feed then these are definitely the next best thing.

*I was not compensated to review these bottles and all views are my own*

 

A month in photos.

I haven’t posted for nearly a month.  LONG and boring story, but you will get the idea from the photos below and the short descriptions. Hopefully things are better now, so I can start to focus a bit more.  Thank you so much for the well wishes and messages people have sent, they were SO much appreciated!

So, I got back from hospital feeling pretty lousy (understatement!) and pumped full of antibiotics and an AMAZING maternity nurse called Beryl came to stay.  She was here for 10 days and it was awesome!  If you get the chance to have a maternity nurse…..take it! If you want to hire Beryl – message me, I can pass you on her details.  She was SO lovely.  Got me back into juicing and was loved by us all (including the dogs!).

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After Beryl left………I discovered that my baby cried and cried and cried and oh well, you get it….she cried.  Nothing is more crushing than not being able to make your baby stop crying and also not understanding why she is crying.  I don’t think its and exaggeration to say that she cried for 18 hours on some days unless she was in the crook of your arm (not great for blogging or anything for that matter!).  Numerous Dr’s appointments later – and misdiagnosis (grrrr) and suggestions of PND (I cried once at the Dr out of sheer frustration and exhaustion) I spent quite a lot of time feeling like this..

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We ended up in hospital for a week as Eloise had a UTI and a horrible rash.  Lumbar punctures and another load of antibiotics….

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Whilst we were there, they also told us that our child had silent reflux.  We were prescribed ranitidine and told that that was all that could be done unless we saw a specialist. We took a train to London to see a private children’s gastro expert. (NHS waiting times 6-8 weeks and we couldn’t handle the wait!)

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And we were told that our baby had developed an intolerance to dairy because of the antibiotics that were pumped into me when I had Sepsis.  (I asked several nurses who assured me it was ok to breast feed) Annnnnnyway,  we came away with this

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Which has turned our screamy baby into this..

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The rest of the month has been peppered with a fair amount of this

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And this..

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I found myself walking around the house like this having received two deliveries……Oh the shame.

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Sent a fair amount of random messages – one that makes me chuckle is this…..

photoI’m still trying to fit into these…

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But most importantly…..I have this. And this makes me HAPPY!

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Every pregnant woman or new mother should read this.

I’m writing this, not to scare monger but simply because until it happened to me I was totally unaware of it existing in this way.

Eloise was born on the 1st August 2014.  A great birth (compared to the last one!).  She was induced and with me heavily ‘epiduraled up’ I got through all the stages fine and managed to push my own baby out into this world.  And within 12 hours, we were home (where I wanted to be) and life was good and everything felt just as it should after giving birth….

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A couple of days later and I was at my local Midwife Led Maternity Unit.  Breast feeding wasn’t going to plan, it was hideously painful, my nipples were raw and I was feeling really low. I had flu like symptoms – a temperature swinging between 36.1 and 38,  I had a headache – a seriously evil headache that paracetamol couldn’t make go away.  And the sweat, ALL that sweat.  I was sweating so much at night that I was sleeping on towels.  I relayed all this information to the Midwives and each time they asked me questions and examined me.

“Do you have pain in your abdomen?” was the question they kept asking me.  “No” was my reply each time – because frankly my boobs and my head hurt the most.

I was told it was most likely to be milk fever as I wasn’t presenting any signs of mastitis.  Another 2 days passed and I was frankly feeling like death warmed up.  I went back to the Midwife Unit.  I explained again that things hadn’t improved at all.  They took a look at my stitches and decided that maybe I had an infection and sent me to see my GP.

I went to my GP.  I was examined.  “Do you have any pain in your abdomen?” I was asked again.  “No” was my answer.  And I explained about the headaches and the sweats and the temperature.  Again, I was told a mild milk fever was what it probably was causing the sweating and aches.  I was prescribed antibiotics for my stitches.

So.  Six days had passed by now.  I was feeling really, really ill.  I was embarrassed to tell anyone else just how bad I felt – I mean I was clearly being oversensitive about everything….right???

On day seven, I woke at 5.30am.  I had a terrifying sensation that I had lost control of my bladder.  I could just feel warm liquid pouring out of my body.  I had in fact haemorrhaged (the ambulance medics said it was 400-500mls).  My husband called an ambulance and by the time they got there, I was not in the best shape.  I was wheeled out to the ambulance and taken back to The John Radcliffe Hospital where I had had Eloise.  From then on, things are quite hazy but I remember things moved quite quickly. I had suspected Sepsis – blood poisoning. Eloise was being looked after by a nurse who stood beside my bed as various people came in and out and took my temperature, measured my oxygen levels, and looked at my blood pressure – turns out I was actually suffering from  Septic Shock when I arrived at the hospital.  That was what I had.  I had never heard of it.  I certainly didn’t realise the severity of it and thank god I didn’t – it would have freaked me out if I had.

I sent this to my best friend as I was sure my eye was closing shut on its own because of the pain in my head (I think I was going a bit crazy by this point!) – but it shows what a state I was in.  I even told the nurses that I thought I had a brain tumour – I have never felt pain like it.

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The next thing I know I am in a ward, curtain open (and told that it would have to stay open so that nurses could observe me).  Needles went in, both hands, blood was taken, swabs were taken, cultures were grown, oxygen was monitored hourly, blood pressure was monitored hourly and I was told that Eloise would be looked after by a nurse whilst I ‘rested’.  All this happened whilst The Husband was at home trying to find childcare (on a weekend) so that he could come in and be with Eloise and I.  I never asked any questions, I didn’t have the energy. The nurses were amazing.  I lay on the bed, with my eyes shut because of the pain in my head.  Hours passed, The Husband visited and sat with me and then had to return home to The Toddler. 24hrs passed I think.  People came and went.  BLUR BLUR BLUR. I signed consent forms, answered questions and to this day, I couldn’t tell you what they were. Eloise spent the majority of her time with the nurses.  My temperature raged up and down and at my lowest moment it was 39.5 and I cried. Alot. They rigged me up to more fluids, more antibiotics – I was having fresh bags of antibiotics every couple of hour pumped into my body.  At one point there were 4 needles pumping things round my body. The nurses hugged me.  They bought me Eloise when I asked for her.  I cried more.  My head felt like it was about to explode.  I still had NO pain in my abdomen.

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The next morning, I was lucky that one of the most respected consultants whose care I had been under whilst pregnant was on duty.  He scanned my abdomen (which STILL wasn’t sore) and within hours, I was on the operating table having an ERPC an Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception.  I had 400mls of infected tissue removed from my womb and lost a further 350 mls of blood.

I came round from the operation feeling a million dollars to how I had been feeling for the previous 9 days and a couple of days later I was able to go home.  I’m extremely lucky – This story has a habit of not ending so well.  Someone sent me this article written by Ben Palmer who has set up Jessicas Trust in memory of his wife who died 5 days after giving birth of a frighteningly similar illness. I’m afraid it makes me cry each time I read it, but you NEED to read it.

My recuperation has been slow – especially for someone who is active and normally can’t sit still. I am writing this 2 weeks post sepsis drama and feeling better, but still not myself. I can’t seem to describe how not feeling myself feels – like I am being slightly weighed down and under par. I am being patient and keeping positive.   Having Eloise with me in the hospital gave me so many reasons to be positive.  HOW could you not be when this is your welcome!

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If you have a fever post baby.  PLEASE PLEASE go straight to your local hospital to the Maternity Assessment Unit to be checked over – bypass your Midwife, GP etc and get yourself back to a hospital.  Its better to be safe than sorry and you will NOT be wasting anyones time.  My story could have had a very different ending.  I was extremely lucky.