Well I cut Tiago’s hair on 28th June, even though hairdressers reopened on 4th July. We were being careful about going to places and I think Tiago was a bit wary of going somewhere to get his hair cut.
I felt inspired after mentioning in an Instagram story that he needed his hair cut, and receiving a few replies along the lines of ‘do it yourself’.
There is an hour between the before and after photos.
Tiago says why couldn’t I have taken an after photo without hair all over him, but it was nearly 11pm when I took them. I’m surprised we got through it without B waking up and I think I just wanted to tidy up and go to bed.
He asked me to crop the first after photo so his nipples wouldn’t be on show, so I cropped the before too to make them as similar in size as I could for a side by side comparison.
His hair and beard were both getting too long though… I thought it would be really weird adjusting to his new look, but it felt pretty normal straight away.
Usually when he has his hair cut I don’t like it as it has that just cut look about it – you know too neat. I think because I didn’t know how to give it that proper just cut though I liked it straight away. I’m definitely not great at cutting hair, but it wasn’t bad for my first attempt!
I’m always nervous before doing things for the first time. I feel like this applies to all areas of my life, but more recently with having a baby. Everything I did in hospital I’m very comfortable with, but things I hadn’t done – breastfeeding lying down, washing her, bathing her etc – I’m either still building my confidence with or haven’t mastered yet. Everyday I’m getting more confident with mothering though.
The feeling about the bad energy has passed. I also remembered that I have had a cyst on my head for over a year. It doesn’t look like it is going anywhere and my hair hides it a bit at the moment, so I don’t think I’ll be cutting my hair off anytime soon. A tidy up would be good though.
I’ve been going to the same hairdressers on and off since I was a kid. I’d love to get a haircut and show them B, but I think if I go I will have to go alone because of restrictions. Plus the chances of her sleeping through the appointment would be small I think – she’s capable of it but with timings and random factors it’s never guaranteed.
I feel inspired to book an appointment though (thanks blogging) and maybe they can just see B outside from a 2m distance?
This is a short post with a couple of photos from our first family portrait session. I feel a bit bad that it took us 2 weeks after she was born to do it, but I’ve been meaning to do another one since and it’s already been 6 weeks.
I tried putting different things over B’s face. A blue box seemed a bit too boring, so I tried drawing on them. Originally I drew a lot of flowers, but it looked a bit too much. I still want to keep experimenting with what to put over her face though, so these might not be the final photos.
But here is the first photo of us as a family – not long after she was born – with a boring white box over her face:
We are still going to bed too late… Tiago will often say ‘okay let’s go to bed soon’. I’ll try to settle B, T will fall asleep waiting and I’m up until 1. Last night I think we managed to go to bed at 11pm though. We need to work on making the room a lot darker a lot earlier as think this might help. Sometimes if we’re not ready to sleep we don’t push things though. I’d rather feed her a little more in hope that she’ll then let me sleep longer.
I still need to learn to rest more. With the blog I need to learn to be more efficient, especially if I want to catch up and post my project in real-ish time. Sometimes I feel like I need to explain/share a lot though – like with yesterday’s post about feeding.
Some days I plan to do a lot of work, but I end up faffing and I don’t completely relax either. So, I’m trying to get better with planning my time – working well when B is asleep or T is looking after her, and then having better quality time with B when she’s awake. I’ve already failed with the planning as I haven’t allocated time for relaxing/resting when B is asleep too.
I was guilty of not having a good life balance before having a baby, so now it is more important than ever. She has already grown so much and time is flying by…
In my previous post there is a photo of my crying whilst pumping/expressing. I think I already had this post’s picture in mind before taking that one, but they are quite different looking pictures so I don’t think it matters that they are next to each other chronologically. This one is almost like a mugshot and has little emotion, though I feel more exposed in it.
Well I guess I am showing more of my body so it makes sense. I’ve just seen an Instagram message from a guy asking if he can send me a picture of his semen, so posting pictures like this does worry me. Yes, I’m showing parts of my boobs and talking about them a lot, but it’s not in a sexual way. I know that people don’t need an excuse to send gross messages, but seriously the most recent posts in my feed are me crying, me feeling shit, me singing to my baby, my husband with my baby, me dancing with my baby and my post-partum belly. Which part of that screams ‘please ask me if I want to see photos of your semen’?
(He’s since deleted the messages, but I screenshotted them. For anyone who might be unsure – before you press send, would you send it to your Grandma? If not then don’t send it to me. Thanks.)
Anyways, everyday we seem to have a different feeding journey. At the time of this photo B was 2 weeks old, and now writing this she is 8 weeks. I really need to write shorter posts so I can catch up and actually post things in real time…
This is a post about our feeding journey so far – starting with the hospital and then how it’s been at home. I hope that it will be helpful for someone who plans to breastfeed or is interested in comparing experiences. I’m sure I’ve missed out loads of things too, but feel free to get in touch with me about anything.
Also feel like I should state that I’m not an expert and I just wanted to share my/our feeding story. A list of helplines and websites for breastfeeding support is available on the NHS website.
This post unintentionally coincided with National Breastfeeding Week – Happy NBW!
(It feels weird saying Happy NBW as you’ll soon see that my journey hasn’t been happy at times…)
I was only planning on breastfeeding, but B had problems latching after she was born and we were originally kept in the hospital longer because of that. Due to Covid apparently they are slower to discharge people who are having problems breastfeeding as there is less face to face support available. This makes sense as I had so many different women touching my boobs (one at a time, don’t get too excited). A video call isn’t the same as someone physically trying to help.
I was in hospital for four nights and after my milk came in on day three I started to express using the hospital pump. No one told me you could pump colostrum (first milk) with them, which I later flagged up as that could have saved me some stress. I didn’t think you could as I’d read that as you produce so little colostrum, a lot of it just gets stuck in the parts rather than making it into the bottle. I guess this is only with certain pumps and now I know that this isn’t the case with hospital grade pumps (or so I believe).
With colostrum you can get syringes (I think I called the hospital or Liverpool BAMBIS – babies and mums breastfeeding information and support – for them) to start trying to collect it from 37 weeks. Some people have more success than others. I tried, but didn’t feel very confident, and then I ended up having a baby when I was 37 weeks and 5 days… I did try again to collect some when I was sat in the first maternity ward waiting for my surges to get stronger as a friend said she did that, but my mind was elsewhere.
(After birth) In hospital I found the syringes fiddly, but someone would help me collect the colostrum. I say someone as I’m not sure what people’s job titles were, though I guess most were midwives and there were a lot of student midwives. I was also visited by women who work/volunteer for BAMBIS. Everyone was so helpful that I thought about training as a breastfeeding specialist to help other women.
I found that one boob was more productive than the other, though she favoured the one that was less so. The productive one would collect a syringe full (1ml) in no time at all, whereas the other one would get 0.3ml with some struggle. You then empty the syringe close to the inside (obviously) of the cheek if I remember correctly.
After a day (at least) I remembered that a friend mentioned expressing into cups (special cups, not kitchen cups) so I asked for one of those. This was so much easier and again I flagged this up, and they said it should have been mentioned at the first check-in. Only the midwife was allowed to give B the colostrum with the cup (I would have been too scared to do it anyways). At first I didn’t realise that she could be fed with the cup, so I was sucking up the colostrum with the syringes.
Then once my milk came in I used ‘The Beast’.
I was still trying to breastfeed, but it was difficult as B’s latch wasn’t great, so I found it easier just to express and bottle feed her. I think by this point my confidence had also gone, but I knew other new mums had been having issues with breast feeding and it wasn’t just me.
I guess I just expected for it to be easy as it’s such a natural thing.
I was a bit scared to bottle feed and wind her in the beginning, so I made them show me a few times before I did. They seemed so rough with the bottle teat as I thought it was solid, but actually it was quite soft and flexible. Soon I got confident though and I had a good routine going on.
I was told to feed her every 3 hours, so I’d get a bottle of my milk out of the fridge half an hour-ish before to let it warm up to room temperature, wake her up (if she hadn’t woke up by herself), feed her and then pump and put the new milk in the fridge. At first I thought I wasn’t allowed in the room with the fridge, but once I knew I was then it was nice that my world was extended beyond the ward I was in. I took great delight (loser) in going there to get all my supplies – new bottles, teats – and to wash the pump parts, and to fill up my water bottle.
(I wasn’t allowed visitors due to Covid restrictions so being able to walk into a room opposite the one I was in seemed quite exciting. Later on I learned I was allowed to go outside to see people, but I wouldn’t have been able to take B so it would have been stressful. Ward visitors would have been useful for holding B and letting me sleep a little…)
Like I said earlier I had only planned to breastfeed. A friend had given us an electric pump (thanks Rebecca) and we’d bought some bottles and a teat just in case, but I didn’t think I would use it all anytime soon. However as I’d pumped and bottle fed in the hospital I felt confident doing that (and the pump was super easy to figure out).
I did keep trying to breastfeed (and now I’m not trying, I’m succeeding), but I’d lost my confidence and when I did try I got sore nipples quickly because of her latch, so I was mainly expressing and we were bottle feeding.
The teats at the hospital were just ‘normal’, but the one we bought (and similar ones by other brands) is meant for babies that are being breastfed too.
Milk will easily come out of the ‘normal one’ milk, but with the breastfeeding mimicking ones the baby has to make a vacuum with their mouth in order to get some.
It took us a couple of days to get confident with the new teat, but once we figured it out we were fine.
In the hospital they’d mentioned the ‘paced feeding’ approach with the regular teats to mimic breast-feeding. I’m not an expert on all of this, but to me the paced feeding way can be likened to eating with chopsticks – eating slower so you give your stomach time to realise that you’re getting full. You’re basically letting them drink for a bit (with the bottle held flat rather than tilted up), then stopping the flow of milk by taking the bottle away completely or tilting the bottle down to with the teat still in their mouth.
(B hadn’t really been sick from feeding until one day last week, when I had been breastfeeding her a lot as I was a bit anxious about going out and her maybe getting hungry.)
Anyways, like in the picture I usually express by pumping on one side then using a manual suction pump on the other side. I read a breastfeeding support group comment the other day that said you shouldn’t use the suction element of the manual pump until 6 weeks, but I’ve been doing it from the beginning? And then I swap and pump on the other side. A double pump is probably easier/quicker (and I read that it can produce more milk), but the way I do it also works.
When you pump or feed with one boob the other one will leak (like in the picture below), so the manual suction pump will collect the excess. It’s also a good way to transition from breastfeeding on one feed to bottle feeding with the next, or a future feed if you don’t collect enough from one feed and collect some from multiple feeds.
I would say that I got kind of stuck with expressing rather than breastfeeding. Since she doesn’t do much at this age, feeding her is a good way to spend time with her and bond. Tiago’s been very supportive and I think perhaps his keenness to feed her also made me want to pump more (I’m not blaming him). When he feeds her it means I know I have a little time to do something, like on the 5th when we got home from dinner, and she needed feeding so T fed her whilst I did a photo shoot and then pumped after.
I was giving myself so much extra work by having to sterilise everything each time though, and in the night Tiago would be feeding her while I was pumping. In hindsight all being awake at 3am isn’t great, especially when Tiago has work in the morning. I’d also then have to sterilise stuff and often I’d wait for the machine to be done. I’d take the lid off, then wait until it had cooled down enough for me to take things out (I burn myself easily), so I wouldn’t get back to sleep for a long time.
I thought I should try to breastfeed everyday at least once, though sometimes it just didn’t happen and I would go 2 days without trying. It has gotten easier now that she is older and her mouth is a bit bigger. I don’t always have to guide her to the nipple and help her get a good latch; she can do it herself now.
So eventually I started to breastfeed during the night. Sometimes my nipples would be sore, especially as I wasn’t use to breastfeeding so much so I’ve started to use my nipple shields lately when it feels necessary.
I’ve now moved to mainly breastfeeding during the day/early night as well, but T will often offer to feed her after work/in the early evenings, especially if he feels like he hasn’t seen her much.
A friend also told us (and the NHS backs it up) that breast milk fed babies need to take a vitamin D supplement. There are many different brands out there and we have one that seems easier to put in a bottle of milk, though you can put it on your nipple. So this is another reason why we usually give her at least one bottle of expressed milk a day. Maybe when it runs out I’ll try a different one…
Everyday is a different feeding day though. Today (7th) it’s so hot that we’ve just bottle fed her. I breastfed her at midnight and 4am, then she woke up at 7 and since Tiago was awake I asked him to feed her with milk that was in the fridge. I didn’t sleep much as I was aware that I needed to pump, which I eventually did at 9am. Then because it was such a hot day it seemed better to just keep bottle feeding her. I stop and start so much with these posts that now it’s 9pm and I’m pumping and I feel really sweaty.
It’s now 10pm and it’s super hot, but I think I’ll try to breastfeed her in the night just to make my life easier by not having to sterilise a lot. She also hasn’t slept much today, so I’m hoping she’ll sleep for a long time tonight but we’ll see. (8am update- She went to sleep after midnight in the end, but slept until 6am when I breastfed her. I changed her nappy, fed her a little more and she’s asleep again.)
I used to pump every 3 hours during the day, but now I know that my milk production is good and there is quite a bit in the fridge I have been doing it every 4. After she slept for 7 hours in a row last week I also know that I can not pump or feed for that long and it’s also fine. Around 3 hours though I will start to feel a little pain for about 30 seconds if I’m awake which is quite odd.
After coming home from hospital I’d get calls from the breastfeeding support service and they told me that I should try to breastfeed first before expressing. I know on the calls that they were trying to help, but I felt like I had to justify myself to them a lot. Generally the advice you get can be quite different depending on who you talk to, and sometimes you learn things after you’ve already done them – someone said that babies shouldn’t have dummies before 6 weeks until breastfeeding is established but a midwife gave B a dummy in the hospital (with my permission) when she was having photo therapy as she just wouldn’t settle in the machine. By the time I heard about the 6 week thing I’d already been giving her a dummy for at least 2 weeks I think.
In the early days I was warned a lot about over producing – pumping can make this happen apparently. My boobs would get quite engorged and I’d feel lumps, but massaging them in the shower would really help. Just be careful when you get out as you might find that you’re leaking… (If you can’t shower then dunking them in water is meant to be good.)
I’ve said before that if we feel guilty about things (that are legal and reasonable), it’s only because people are judgemental about something that has nothing to do with them. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, breast milk feed or a mix of feed, people will have things to say about it. As long as your baby is getting fed in some form and is putting on weight then that’s great.
You just do what’s best for you and your family.
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This post is about two images as I took them a day apart and they are about the same thing.
Note: I am not looking for sympathy or comments being like ‘you’re not a shit mother’. These are from over a month ago, and though I’ve made a similar image/text in the last week I know I only feel that way when I’m tired.
(Knowing you’re tired is one thing, being able to sleep is another.)
Why share though? I want to be as honest as possible with my mothering experiences, even if it is embarrassing/awkward at times in hope that it helps at least one person.
I feel like it’s a little late to be explaining this now after so many personal posts, but this feels like a different level of personal.
I took these photos on my phone. Perhaps I should be more bothered about the colour balance, but one is in the bathroom with no natural light and the other has all the natural light but film we put on the windows a few months ago makes pictures blue. I like presenting them as my phone took them (well with a little brightness/contrast editing).
This project is supposed to be just quick and easy at times with honest portrayals and whatever camera suits. When you’re crying/upset and need sleep you don’t want to set up your ‘studio’, but I guess most people wouldn’t photograph themselves either… It’s just so easy to take a couple of snaps with your phone.
Why do I photograph myself like this? Good question. My work is very therapeutic for me and in both cases I just thought ‘I should photograph myself’ as I’ve been photographing myself for years. My photos generally come with text now so I’m aware I have to write something – (well I don’t have to but I choose to).
The text that accompany the photos are freewritten – just like my hashtags usually are. I wrote them in emails addressed to myself on my phone and I quickly gave them subjects, which I then decided to use as titles for the photos. Writing the text was more therapeutic than taking the images as it allowed me to vent.
I was writing quite long diary entries in my phone during my pregnancy, but stopped not long after giving birth as it was too much work. I now have a line a day diary (more like 5 lines), where I write more about motherhood than I did about being pregnant in my diary before (I mainly wrote about it in my pregnancy project). It’s a 5 year diary, so it will be interesting comparing the years as there are 5 years to a page.
With these pictures though I wanted to keep the text as I wrote it which is why it is ‘normal text’ instead of hashtags. I could have easily changed it into hashtags, but I’m keen to try different writing styles with this project too (though I think so far these two texts are the odd ones out).
Moving on to other things.
Paternity leave is mentioned in both texts. It’s true that paternity in the UK is rubbish, though I guess some companies might be more generous (and whether or not they take it all is another thing – Why Dads Don’t Take Paternity Leave from the New York Times which is a follow-up to a 2019 article. Yes it’s about the US, but I think the situation is similar to the UK).
Tiago got one week of full pay and then he would have got one week of statutory, so he used a week of annual leave instead since we hadn’t been anywhere due to the pandemic (and so he wouldn’t lose money). His leave started whilst I was in hospital so he spent a few days of it alone, which was a shame as he missed out on a few days with B. (It was nice to come home to a clean flat with plenty of food in the fridge though.)
Birth is so unpredictable and it’s good that we weren’t in for longer. I know people who spent most of their paternity alone as they weren’t allowed to go back to work once they knew their partner and baby would be staying in hospital…
Luckily Tiago was still working from home once his leave was over as I don’t think I would have been confident enough to be home alone with B. (Massive respect to those raising a child by themselves.) It was reassuring knowing he was in the flat – though in another room. He only left home to go somewhere for work for the first time since before lockdown a couple of weeks ago, but still works from home a lot like he did before everyone’s world get turned upside down.
I now try to make sure I’m going for a walk everyday. It makes such a difference getting out, though it can sometimes be a faff as I like for B to have just been fed and changed. Lately she stays awake for the whole of the walks, but is quite happy just daydreaming. She barely slept yesterday during the day, and typically fell asleep at the end of the walk but woke up after a minute of being back in the flat.
I mention feeding a lot in the text, but it is something I’ll be talking about a lot in my next post.
‘Though what mother stands in the bathroom typing this instead of hurrying to spend time with her kid / I need to fix my priorities‘
This is something I have talked about in a more recent teary picture/hashtag set, as well as finding it difficult when she hadn’t started to smile on purpose yet. Now that she smiles it feels a little more rewarding as before she only showed emotion when she was upset. I guess they smile on accident with wind and pooping early on as otherwise it would make things a lot harder. I love making people laugh and I think babies laughing is one of the best sounds in the world, so I can’t wait to hear her giggle for the first time.
So after reviewing these pictures and text, and thinking about similar examples from recently – and even how I felt in the evening yesterday – I need to look after myself better.
Only 2 days ago I read a BBC article by Mark Savage about Melanie C (yes, from the Spice Girls) that had a great quote about her and motherhood:
‘”Being a mum was so liberating because for the first time in my adult life, it wasn’t all about me,” she says. “It made me not only realise I had a huge responsibility to her but I have a huge responsibility to myself. In being her teacher, I had to treat myself better.”‘
I’m working on my life balance, but it’s still early days. I guess step one is being aware of the need for change, but now I just need to get on with it.
This week I’m trying to do a 7 day yoga challenge. Last week I did 3 short yoga videos and then none for a few days, so I just need to give myself at least 10 minutes a day to stretch and look after my body. The videos are only 15 minutes so its a good way to get back into it, and I like the idea of challenges as it helps motivate me.
(We all slept for 6+ hours straight last night, so we fed B, then I did the day two video at 6am whilst I knew I had the chance as she slept on Tiago.)
If I look after myself better, then I can look after B better and then I’m sure we’ll all feel better.
What do you do to look after yourself?
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I think it makes sense for Tiago (Pai – which means Dad and rhymes with pie) to have his own category/project, though I guess it will grow a lot slower.
I just told him that I’ve done it and asked him to guess the name. He said Oh Me, Oh Mãe. I said ‘No, Oh Me, Oh…’ and pointed at him.
Tiago: Dad…. T…..
T: I was nearly there…
(Oh Me, Oh T would have also worked to be fair – maybe that’s a future project or a name for the pictures I’ve taken of us together in the past. Thanks for the inspiration Tiago.)
So this is ‘Tiago’s First British Father’s Day’. It could have just been called ‘Tiago’s First Father’s Day’, but like the hashtags say Portugal has Father’s Day on 19th March every year and I guess I’ll document that day too.
I like how they have it on the same day every year (though I find it odd seeing that it will be on a Friday next year) as I never know when Mother’s and Father’s Day in the UK is. Mother’s Day in Portugal looks like it is the first Sunday in May, so it doesn’t have a fixed date? Interesting.
(Just went to put Portuguese Father’s Day in my calendar and noticed it’s the same date that we got engaged. Well, we were just sitting in bed the morning after going to a party where someone said they thought we’d get married next, and we said shall we get married? I think that’s pretty much all there is to the story…)
I haven’t included any outtakes as the other pictures from the shoot look pretty similar. From now on I’ll probably only share outtakes that I REALLY like. I feel like I’ve been sharing some that aren’t worthy and it takes time sorting through them.
I chose the photo where B’s face is really in focus, but I don’t want to put her face on the internet. I’ve probably talked about it before (I know I have in the hashtags of a pregnancy photo), but so much about me and my life is on the internet that I don’t want her face or name has to be on it. She deserves some privacy as she can not consent, though I guess me talking about her and her being in my dance videos is a bit debatable. (In the videos she is in a carrier facing me.)
I’ve put a blue dot over her face for now, though I’d like to experiment with other ways to hide her face. I was thinking about reworking this photo at some point, but perhaps the dot will stay. I quite like it as she is so small in the photo anyways and I took the blue from the bean bag. That bean bag has come in quite useful for feeding her on, but it’s just difficult to get up from afterwards…
I feel like there’s not much more to comment on with the hashtags as they’re mainly by Tiago. I am hoping at some point he will write a post about fatherhood. Him crying because I broke his confidence was a low moment in the early days. I still feel bad about it. I’d been in hospital for 4 nights and I was nervous about changing nappies, but I came home fairly confident about it. I showed him a couple of times and then just kept correcting him… We were both quite tired.
I talked to him about the hashtags the night before I wrote them and he was being very poetic. I wish I had wrote them down. Something about a tsunami of something (to do with emotions).
He is a really good Pai though. I saw a guy with a kid on his shoulders yesterday who were having a great time. I can’t wait to see Tiago and B interacting like that.
I asked Tiago if he wants to add anything else. He just said that it’s a good picture. I’m not so sure about the right side of the photo, but that’s what I got for not using flash as I wanted to protect B’s eyes, which is way more important.
As you can’t see, I thought I should say she is asleep in the picture. Just like she is now on Tiago’s legs (or now on my lap as I am checking it over one last time before posting).
Happy belated Father’s Day to T and all the other Dads and father figures out there!
There are two images for this post, but I decided to not put them side by side, so scroll down to see the second, as well as an outtake and comments.
I realise that my hashtags don’t talk about my linea nigra (the dark line running down my abdomen), which was one of the main reasons I took the close up photo. The pictures don’t really show how dark it is around my belly button. I quite like the line though (apparently it’s always there, but darkens with pregnancy) and how the two parts don’t line up.
The linea nigra is definitely darker in the ‘I Have A Lot Of Respect…’ image.
This week I posted a couple of diptychs to Instagram, which represent my blog posts about B’s birth, and our hospital stay.:
In hospital I took quite a lot of these bathroom mirror selfies. I was interested in how my bump would look after giving birth as I think about articles I’ve seen over the years shaming or praising women after they give birth. Kate Middleton comes to mind with her standing outside that hospital letting the world see her new baby for the first time whilst her post-natal body is reviewed, three times. I’m not about to turn this blog into a commentary on the royal family, but I can see why Meghan skipped the immediate photo call.
Like I said in the hashtags your body doesn’t ping back to how it looked pre-pregnancy, but from what I read years ago you’d have thought that it did based on the comments that are said about post-partum bodies. I think people are a lot more honest about these things now (or I’ve just been more aware of these talks over the last few years), and I hope my ’24 Hours After Giving Birth’ picture helps add positively to the conversation.
With the ‘I Have A Lot Of Respect….’ photos, they move away from the hospital pictures a bit as these are taken from the front rather than the side. I guess seeing my ‘bump’ from the front it doesn’t look like much, and actually by the time I took the pictures it had gone down a lot.
Reading the hashtags 5 weeks on it feels like so long ago.
I stopped bleeding a couple of weeks ago (I think) but I still have some aspects of lochia, which I learned about for a recent photo/set of hashtags.
I feel awkward that I wrote about seeing my pubes again, but I was feeling very open after not long having 6 people staring at a baby coming out of me and numerous women touching my boobs to help me breastfeed. It is strange not being able to see your whole body though. In my birth story I talked about having to give a urine sample, but you just put the cup ‘down there’ and move it about hoping to get some in there. Whenever a midwife came to visit I had to pee on a stick so they could check for protein and maybe something else? This was also an exercise in peeing, moving the stick and hoping.
Some pubes are present in these photos and again I felt awkward, but then Pretty Gardens by Róisín Murphy came on. I’d never heard it before. I really like her music, but decided to explore more of her discography and it felt reassuring that it’s okay to talk (or sing) about these things, if that’s what her song is about anyways. ‘Look at me all naked, I let my pretty garden grow wild’.
‘#MyBiggestRegretIsNotBuyingAPortableBidetSoonerAsItLetsMeCleanTheStitchesWithoutNeedingToHaveAShower’ – A portable bidet was definitely something I should have bought sooner – it’s basically a fancier version of a squirty plastic bottle.
‘#IBoughtSomeReusableBambooPadsSoIAlsoCleanOffTheBloodBeforePuttingOnANewOne’ – The reusable bamboo pads seemed like a good investment (I also have reusable bamboo breast pads), as I was getting through a lot of maternity pads and I thought if I could be bleeding for 6 weeks then it was worth trying them. Plus I can use them when my period comes back, which I hope isn’t for a while but knowing my luck it could be imminent.
‘#IWasGoingToSayItIsNiceToNotWakeUpInTheMiddleOfTheNightToBeAbleToTurnOverAndToGoToTheLoo’ – I thought I was going to say well I have to wake up to look after B, but I said ‘#ButIHaveNotBeenSleepingMuchWhichAccordingToMumFriendsIsNotUncommon’. That does kind of sound like it’s because I need to look after B, but the not sleeping was due to just feeling high on life I think.
I talk about breastfeeding and bottle feeding in the hashtags, but I won’t say much on it as I have an image of me expressing so I will write about it more then. I’ve breastfed a lot the last couple of days, but I’ve mainly been expressing and bottle feeding. Her latch is definitely better now though, which I think is due to her mouth being bigger. Sometimes I don’t guide the boob to her and just let her latch on by herself now.
‘#TheyToldMeToDo10SetsOf10KegelsADay’ – I have an app now to remind me to do them. It’s just called Kegel Exercises. Everyday it builds up the amount you do. It’s great! (Again, I’m doing some extra ones whilst I think about them.)
‘#IHaveChangedSoMuchSinceGivingBirthThough’ – I have definitely changed a lot.
‘#IDoFeelMoreConfidentButIThinkItIsCausedByNumerousFactors’ – The confidence comes and goes though, just like before. A few days ago we took B out in her pushchair for the first time. As I’d done it once I’ve now done it everyday since and yesterday I took her out in it by myself. I also managed to do the lying down breastfeeding position last week for the first time. I’d only tried it once before and hadn’t attempted it for a few weeks. If I’d done it in the hospital I probably would have done it loads since. I’m also still not confident about sharing these posts on social media beyond Instagram.
I think hormones have a massive impact on confidence. I used to do improv comedy when I lived in London and some weeks I’d feel super confident and other weeks I’d be a nervous wreck. This week I’ve felt pretty confident with looking after B. Tiago left the house for work a couple of times last week, which he hadn’t done since before lockdown. Yesterday I was alone with her for the longest time so far (about 7 hours) and it was fine. It would have been a lot sooner if it wasn’t for the pandemic, so though I wish there wasn’t one, having T around more has been positive.
Still can’t believe I became a mother during a pandemic, but I don’t know any different and my past life seems like decades ago now.
I do love the word awkward I know, but that is how I feel about sharing the underwear pictures. I like the chosen one, but I initially went for the outtake as though the outtake is a bit too zoomed in for my liking I felt like the chosen one is a bit more ‘showoffy’. It’s more confident with the placing of my hands, though I like the oddness of them, whereas the outtake is a bit more shy.
I asked Tiago which one he preferred though as I was doubting my decision and he said the more confident one, so it confirmed which one I preferred. He said he liked it more though as it is more symmetrical. The top is more wonky in the outtake…
I am proud of my body. Our inbuilt knowledge and instincts are pretty incredible – with giving birth and I think this when I see B’s mouth doing its different ‘breastfeeding techniques’.
I still want to exercise more than I am though, as I did more when I was 37 weeks pregnant. A daily walk is great for my mental health and my confidence, but I also need to make more time for stretching. I try to do a bit whilst waiting for things – like the sterilising machine. Yesterday we did a baby yoga class and got all the way through, so that was great. Normally B starts to get upset around the bit that is more for the parents, but we do get recordings since they are online. I doubt that we would have ‘been to’ a baby class yet if they weren’t online, and I don’t think there were many online classes pre-Covid, but I could be wrong.
I still haven’t breastfeed in public, so that’s the next thing for my post-natal body and confidence checklist but I think it might happen fairly soon… Watch this space.
Usually I show outtakes, but the Waiting… one is pretty much an outtake from my series Ulterior Monologue, so instead here is the chosen picture for that project and the accompanying hashtags.
So as I explained in my Animal Hats & Cramps post, there was a bit of an overlap between Waiting… and my previous project (Ulterior Monologue). Reading the hashtags for the top image too I realise that I talk about it a bit there too.
I announced my pregnancy on social media when I was 20 weeks and it was starting to become obvious in my dance videos/I got bored of hiding my bump under big jumpers. I definitely bought some time, but was relieved when my archive posts were over.
Anyways, I did a photoshoot around a dragon fruit and cutting my finger, and in the UM hashtags I talk about 3 bad/unlucky things that happened that day. This includes getting a bit of plate stuck in my finger which is why I have tissue wrapped around my finger, though I didn’t talk about my recent (increased) clumsiness.
I talk about how I think it was due to my mind being elsewhere, though it speaks about accidental knife cuts rather than the injury being from the plate splinter. (When I first started to write this post I also thought the need for a tissue was from a knife cut). I wrote the hashtags when I was preparing to post the project on Instagram and decided to add the photo in – I wanted to post them in chronological order so it made sense to decide early on if I wanted to include an image from this shoot.
I vaguely remember writing them as I wasn’t sure whether or not to use the term ‘baby brain’. I really don’t like it, though I think me being distracted by daydreaming about being pregnant and becoming a mother is what probably led to me getting the injury. I like to think that I was pretty ‘with it’ after this incident, so when on a few occasions people accused me of being baby brained when I wasn’t I was annoyed…
(Okay, yesterday I walked into the living room to get the dummy that Tiago asked for and walked back into the bedroom with a tube of nipple cream. In my defence I walked there – the whole 5m – wondering if I should put some nipple cream on… I think this says a lot about not getting enough sleep/being sleepy. If a guy does something forgetful after becoming a father is he accused of having baby brain? Probably not.)
I prefer the UM image more though it wasn’t a favourite and it wouldn’t have fit in Waiting… I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the shoot, but I like playing around with hands and arms so it makes sense that I did something a little odd – the hand that isn’t holding the dragon fruit is definitely a bit weird. I think I took the Waiting one for myself as it has that pregnancy feel to it; a classic light touch to the belly, but nicely concealed. I definitely wouldn’t have put it in UM.
I could have perhaps been more inventive with the title of the Waiting image – (Dragon Fruit &) Cut To Finger (7 and a half weeks), whereas the UM one is Dragon Fruit & Cut To Finger. However I like that the similar titles tie the two images together as if you saw them side by side you wouldn’t necessarily think that they were from the same shoot – you’d probably just think ‘wow she’s clumsy’ if you knew that they were both pictures of me.
I think that’s about it.
I feel like talking about the whole project is a bit of an undertaking, but I’m determined to do it! 5 down, 79 to go!
My fear is that no one is reading these and I’m spending a lot of time/energy doing this blog, but I guess an audience doesn’t grow overnight.
I’m also awkward about promoting my posts across all my social media sites. The other week I wrote about how I would be better at promoting my work, but I still feel like I am bothering people. A lot of people use social media to promote their stuff and I’m sure there’s a good amount of people who don’t feel weird about it, and I don’t feel awkward for them so why do I for myself? That’s something that I can possibly post about more in the future…
I had planned for this blog to be more than ‘just’ a place for posting my photography and video, so in this post I thought I’d share exercise videos that I did whilst I was pregnant.
(Scroll down if you just want to see my favourite YouTube pre-natal exercise videos and not read my preramble).
We moved to Liverpool at the end of 2018 and we signed up for the gym not long after. I didn’t like going, but watching Pointless (a TV quiz show) whilst using some equipment made it somewhat tolerable. Fact: I cancelled my membership after they stopped showing it on their TVs.
I enjoyed the classes, but I didn’t like that the ones I wanted to go to were quite late in the evenings and I felt like planning my time around an exercise class wasn’t that productive. I then got pregnant after I stopped going to the gym. I had been looking forward to answering yes in a class whenever they asked if anyone was pregnant, but never mind. Covid would have cut short that experience anyways with the closure of gyms…
When we lived in London I mainly did YouTube exercise videos, as the gyms close to me were expensive/I just felt like I didn’t have time to go to one. At one point I did go to a bootcamp in a park by me, but it would take up most of my day and after meeting Tiago (and making him go with me for a bit) I realised that that wasn’t how I wanted to spend a big chunk of my weekend.
I had planned to get into pre-natal exercise earlier than I eventually did. The intention was there, but the motivation was lacking. In the end it was hip/pelvis pain that made me start, as getting a maternity pillow wasn’t enough. I wanted to just workout at home due to the ease of it.
Other pregnant people I knew wanted to wait until the pains got bad enough that they got referred for physio, but I didn’t want things to get worse. Surely with physio they would just give you stretches anyways, not some magic pill that would make the pains and aches magically go away? Covid probably put a stop to most face-to-face physio appointments anyways…
Warning: I’m just a regular person sharing what exercise videos I liked whilst I was pregnant. Talk to your doctor/listen to your body about what you can and can’t do. It’s meant to make you feel better, so don’t push yourself too much. If you can’t do the complete video without stopping that’s fine – I also used to get through a lot of water during them too.
In addition, I tried to go for a walk everyday (particularly once lockdown started). The earlier you start exercising in your pregnancy, the easier you’ll (hopefully) find it. As I got more pregnant I wasn’t able to do what I could earlier on, but it wasn’t such a shock to my body as I had been doing these videos for a while. It was funny doing them the first time and thinking ‘I can’t believe I’ll be that pregnant’, but before I knew it I was more pregnant than the teachers in the videos.
One of the hardest parts of working out at home is just getting yourself onto your mat/into your space where you exercise with the intention to exercise. Having a baby adds another hurdle to getting there, so enjoy one less block whilst you can!
Anyways, here are the YouTube videos that I did the most whilst I was pregnant.
A good one to start with
10 minutes a day is a good start if you really don’t feel up to exercising. I think my morning sickness also made exercising unappealing. I moved to longer videos after feeling like I was just getting into the video, but it was over already.
In the beginning I’d exercise just once a day – usually just in the morning. Before long though I realised it wasn’t enough and I’d exercise in the evening too.
After doing the one in the previous section for a couple of weeks at least, I moved onto doing this one pretty much every morning (after letting my muscles recover from the first time).
After a while I got bored of doing it everyday, so I started to do it every other day (alternating the next two videos on the second day).
After a while I started to do the 3 videos on a 3 day cycle.
Then after no longer finding it comfortable to sit on a chair and sitting on an exercise ball instead, a friend recommended the video below, and it became a 4 day cycle.
In the evenings I started off doing the below video (there is a morning yoga routine, which seems the same so I preferred doing different ones).
And then I wanted to try other ones, so I did this one below occasionally instead.
Then I began to alternate them each night, but after a while I knew the routines off by heart so I started to watch TV and do a mix of the two videos from memory. I found myself doing a lot more than if I was doing one of the videos.
I feel like with the videos there should be two versions – 1 for people who have never done the video before/are doing it for the 2nd or 3rd time, and then there should be one for people who don’t need the explanations. Particularly with the pilates one as once I knew it by heart I would carry on and do the routine, occasionally skipping the video forward to where it was useful to be in time.
Also I would just add my favourite stretches that were missing from the video I just did to the end of my practice – and did extra kegels when I thought about it, particularly with squats.
One last video that deserves a mention as I enjoyed it, but then managed to forget about it…
This shoot is another classic example of knowing I wanted to photograph myself, but not having an idea in mind. First I took the first outtake (where I am stood to the side) and other pictures where I am stood to the front, then I did the chosen pictures.
I felt awkward about taking them then as I knew it was too early in the project for pictures like this, but my body was already feeling quite different to me and I wanted to document it. Looking at them now (and many other pictures where I thought I was starting to look pregnant) there really is nothing to see. So with the hashtags I wanted to shut down any comments about it by basically saying ‘yeah I know’.
The shoot then moved on and got a bit more posey.
In the chosen pictures it is a ‘breathe in, breathe out’ duo, though they pretty much look the same.
I used this ‘strategy’ before in my project Sofa Studies (see below), but that was more about social media and ‘perfection’, and how people breathe in a lot in their photos.
My boobs went up two cup sizes pretty quickly in the pregnancy, which was a bit weird though they had grown a lot since high school anyways. They’ve possibly grown again and I don’t hate them as that seems counterproductive, but it’s just odd seeing myself with bigger ones.
Can you tell I’m trying to avoid saying boobs 100 more times again? It’s weird having a project that talks about them a lot, but I guess I probably speak about them more in my motherhood project as with breastfeeding/bottle feeding expressed milk, a lot of the day is focused around my boobs and what they’re doing/producing…
Like I’ve said before I’m not going to be 100% awkward about it (talking about them) as my boobs are finally fulfilling the purpose that I have them for. The pictures that involve them aren’t meant to be sexual and instead are just documenting my changing body, but people will interpret them how they want. I’ve already been called a MILF on YouTube (I have a channel where I’ve been dancing – in an unsexy way – since 2013) and that makes me feel really gross. I am guessing it’s a joke I still feel bleh about it. That’s probably a post for another time…
The hashtags about boobs looking weird as hell on me still stand. I wear dresses and skirts, but I don’t consider myself to be very feminine or at least in the commercial sense/way that used to be pushed on us via the media. I bought some makeup a few weeks ago, as I haven’t worn it in a long time and that’s because I worry that by doing self-portraits people think I am super vain. So my thinking was that if I didn’t look after my appearance then people would think this less. With having a baby and because of the current global situation I’m not sure when I’ll be dressing up next though…
I also like to be invisible when I’m out and about, so by looking ‘bad’ I hope that people won’t look at me twice. Writing this it makes me feel vain as if I’m saying that if I made an effort with my appearance then I’d look amazing and people would look at me/throw comments my way. My thoughts and actions surrounding my appearance is something I need to think about more/explore within a project… But yeah I don’t think I’ll be wearing push up bras and putting ‘the twins’ on display anytime soon. Well I probably am displaying them more for baby feeding reasons, but that’s only been indoors so far.
The breasts vs boobs hashtag also still stands. I probably should use breasts as it’s more mature, but apparently I do prefer just saying boobs. It just seems more casual?
And finally the hashtags that talk about how I’ll feel post-birth about my body… I made a comment to Tiago this morning about the skin on my belly being a bit looser, but it’s not ‘as bad’ as I thought it would be and I’ve done 2 minutes of core exercise since giving birth. I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been when I was pregnant as I was doing exercise videos in the morning and evening, and then having a daily walk. At the moment I’m focused on making sure I go for a walk every day, but I need to make time for more stretching. The more you stretch, the more you realise you need to.
Final thoughts about the chosen images: They show nothing, but also a lot when you look at the series as a whole. It seems awkward to show them, but it’s nice to see my bump growing and without pictures like these there would be a noticeable gap in the project. That’s my interpretation anyways.
I feel like the running theme of this blog series is ‘maybe I chose the wrong photo?’ When is it too late to change the selected image? Is it ever too late? I guess it depends on where the photo has been. For me it doesn’t feel too late yet as most of my images have only appeared on my Instagram account and who said ‘what is posted on Instagram is set in stone’? No one as far as I’m aware.
I want to produce a book of this project so I guess it is good that I am revisiting each image and outtakes to have a think about if I did make the right decisions or not.
I chose the photographs based on how I felt at the time, but with the passing of time comes different responses to the images. Maybe I need to value what I thought when I was choosing, though at this point in the project I was not editing the pictures on the same day or same week as they were taken. I kept shooting and hashtagging, and I didn’t really look at them properly for a few months – there is a picture in the project that talks about finally getting round to editing the project. I realised what a mammoth task I was leaving for myself, so I spent some time editing it down (which is what I’m doing now with my new project and is why this post is a day later than I planned). After that I tried to edit the pictures down quite quickly, so I had space on my computer and so I wasn’t left feeling overwhelmed at a later stage with a baby in my arms.
Anyways, in these images I am ‘wearing’ a scarf instead of clothes. I can’t remember making that decision – I really need to start keeping a shoot diary – but I am guessing that it was because I worry about wearing the same clothes in all my photographs. I say this and some of my clothes have been in quite a few projects.
I had started to wear the scarf out around that time as it gets very windy in Liverpool, so it was probably lying around the flat when I was thinking about what to wear. I did do a project where I wore towels, so it’s not that odd really.
I guess with the chosen image I wanted something that wasn’t that flattering, due to the topic. In the outtakes I look a bit more ‘put together’, whereas in the chosen one with the way I am touching my chin and with my general expression you can tell things are a little off. At this point I wasn’t actually being sick, but the feelings were sufficiently unpleasant.
The meat/fish cravings were odd and I never had them again. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 15 (I’m 31 now), so it was quite bizarre though the fake fish burger seemed to do the trick. I haven’t eaten another one, but the burger place has only just reopened after being closed due to Covid. (A fun fact for you there – you’re welcome!) Maybe my body just needed a bit of protein and after this episode I did make an effort to eat more protein.
I’d forgotten that I mentioned an ex-boyfriend in the hashtags. The same moment came into my head last night when I started to put this post together and I thought about writing about it, but I already had. However I do now remember feeling awkward when I posted it to Instagram.
Why the need to write about it? I’m not entirely sure, but my work is therapeutic for me and has helped me work on various things like my confidence. It started to decrease when my family moved when I was 7 (to about half an hour away which isn’t much at all) and then it got destroyed in high school. In college I let my barriers down and cried a lot so my art teacher recommended that I go to counselling. I cried through all my BA assessments, so dating someone who did nothing for my confidence probably wasn’t the best idea but I also felt like that was what I deserved and I would never find someone else. Writing this whilst being married to a great guy, and with our month+ old baby lying beside me I’m starting to feel a bit emotional.
Breaking up with someone/being broken up with is always weird as you don’t know what will happen in your future. It’s nice when you can look back and be glad it happened as it led you to being with someone else (who hopefully really suits you) or maybe you’re just really enjoying being single.
I haven’t spoken to this ex in over 10 years and I doubt he will read it. If he does then I’m sure he will admit that he wasn’t the kindest person. I think he had underlying issues that he needed to sort out, and I genuinely hope he has.
Another moment that I am sharing because I just find it so bad that it is funny is that when we were out at clubs (can not remember the last time I was in a club), girls would come up to him and tell him that I was so ugly and that he should be with them and not me. He would tell me with a massive grin on his face and not say anything to comfort me/make me feel better about the situation.
A couple of other things: He was embarrassed about me meeting his family because I was vegan. I stopped being vegan (for myself after 4+ years as I didn’t want to be vegan anymore) and broke up with him a week later. I never met his family. Also, he told me if I cut my hair short he would break up with me.
When I finally broke up with him (and cut my hair shorter) people around me would tell me how much they didn’t like him, but they were worried it would push me towards him more if they told me how they felt. True, I am stubborn but in this case I was just unable to realise how badly he was treating me. I felt like I deserved it/I would rather be with him feeling bad about myself than single.
If you recognise your partner in what you read above, then know you deserve to be with someone better. You deserve more.
As always my blog post turned out differently to what I thought it would be, but I’m enjoying the journey and hopefully this may help someone who needs to hear it right now/when they read this post.
After all this sidetracking and distraction though I think I did choose the right image. The other possibility would have been the last outtake, but even with whole projects based around nudity you may be surprised to know how awkward I feel about nudity in my work. It’s something that I feel deserves its own post rather than a paragraph at the end of a long post that has already taken an unexpected turn, so I’ll put that on my list for a later date!
It’s on the list under ‘nudity/censorship/awkwardness’.
One last note: Though my work is usually about me, I have always hoped that other people would find something helpful in what I do. I guess with this blog I can go into more detail and write about things that have led me to making the work that I make. I have always worried that people find me narcissistic and vain, though my reasons for making my work are from feeling the complete opposite. Sharing this blog now feels really awkward, but I really hope it might help someone, either with a situation they are going through now or to help process something in their past. Some parts I have rewritten over and over again during the day, but I need to just let it go and live with it.
Something that I have been saying a lot lately is that when someone is mean to you, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. And this goes for how I have acted towards people as well. I am happy to admit that I am not ‘perfect’ – whatever that is – but I want to work on becoming a better person for myself and my family. Asking yourself why you do things and react the way you do – and really listening to yourself and the answers – is a good place to start.
Who would have thought a blog post about morning sickness could get so deep?