Mama Matters - Dealing with Mum Rage

This week I got the rage. The Mum Rage. Proper shouty, snappy, having to walk away kind of rage. I really didn’t want to boil over and have Fox see me like this, but there were more than a few occassions when I just couldn’t stop it.

toddler tantrums and mum rage www.awesomemamaillustration.com

Kids can really push our buttons, can’t they? How many times can you take them screaming for a biscuit, to ask them to put on their shoes, to stop the whiny demands?! I felt like a monster last week. I genuinely felt that I could feel my cortisol levels rise and rush through my veins. I absolutely hate feeling like that. A few weeks ago we had a ‘Sunshine’ week, called so after the days of Wonder Weeks, where we were always blaming this thing or that on the fact that he was probably in a leap. Yet it all felt like one giant leap to be honest!

I took to Insta to vent my rage and ask you about it. Some of the replies helped me calm down, see clearly, and more importantly, to know I wasn’t alone. I hope these comments help you too if you’re seeing red…

I’m very guilty of it [Mum rage]. I’m ultimately ‘bad cop’ Their Dad left us and gets to be Mr.Fun with no rules and I’m the one juggling chores, bills, discipline and homework. It’s hard not to be bitter and then be angry.

She has so much energy and needs to be entertained constantly or she gets bored easily. Which is hard when you’re trying to sort them both [kids] out and the house at the same time. I scream and shout daily which is never the kind of Mum I wanted to be. I also feel ridiculously anxious 95% of the time.

I just didn’t realise it would be THIS hard.

I know I was brought up having smacks as a kid and it being threatened as punishment and have always purposely not wanted to do it. But it’s hard because with an adult you’d use reason/arguement instead but a kid won’t listen so it’s hard to know where to go/what do it instead!

Remember their job is to keep pushing until they find the limit. Being sure on limits is comforting. Try and find a way of making them clear without feeling like you’ve failed.

That last one helped me so much. I hope it helps you too. Thank you to everyone who took the time to chat to me about Mum Rage and make me feel less alone.

When it got really bad I sat down and wrote about it. Reading it back the next day helped me see how it’s a fleeting moment. Some days will be tough, reaaly tough. But the next one may not be as bad.

I often take myself out of the situation. Fox knows I’m really cross if I just walk away and sit by myself. That usually happens after a big shout to be honest, but after that, he doesn’t seem to be as bad. I think sometimes it’s good for them to see us get upset. Especially if we can compose ourselves afterwards and be friends again. Last week after a particularly hard stand off between us, I said to him ‘Can we be friends now?’ and he pulled me into him and said ‘I love you so much’. So may the last comment of encouragement, from above, really does work?!

Do you get Mum Rage? Have any good coping strategies when they push you close to the edge? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

-SWM

Mama Matters - IVF and Body Image with Elinor Battersby

I’m almost looking forward to the day that they ask where babies come from and we can tell them “when two people love each other very, very much, they save up oodles of money and go to see a doctor
who gives them 20+ syringes…

As an IVF Mama myself, I was super excited about this interview. I think IVF is one of the most magnificent things that clever brains have created and I’m eternally grateful to them and science. I know that Emma feels exactly the same!

How long were you trying to conceive before having IVF?

My husband actually told me when we’d only been dating for a few weeks that he couldn’t have

children. That was 2013 and looking back it was all kind of a dramatic time. After just a few months we

went for a procedure to correct his infertility but it failed. The doctor came out to me where I was

waiting in my little private sitting room and told me very definitely that the procedure hadn’t been

successful and we had no chance whatsoever of getting pregnant. This was pretty devastating because

we’d been really confident that it would work!

We each spent some time after this getting used to the possibility of never having a baby and figuring

out what that meant for our relationship. We decided that even with no children, we wanted to be

together more than anything. I knew without a doubt that he was happily ever after for me but it was

still a massive decision to be making at the age of 23 when all I had ever wanted was children! Once

we’d made this choice we discussed what we wanted to do from there and we both agreed that

although we could be happy without one, we really wanted a baby. By the end of 2014 we had agreed to

start IVF as soon as we were married. We both really wanted to have children and we made the decision

to keep going until we made it happen.

So you didn’t have to take the dreaded Clomid or any other fertility drugs before IVF?

Due to ours being a case of male infertility I never had any meds or anything before IVF. In a lot of ways

this was a blessing, but at the same time its difficult to deal with such an abrupt, hardline ‘no chance at

all’.

Even though you were told you wouldn’t conceive naturally, did you still cling on to any secret hopes?

We had a 0% chance of ever conceiving naturally so you’d think that least there would have been no

crushing hope-and-disappointment phase but I guess it’s human nature. Every month I would get my

period and I would realise that some small part of me had been holding its breath and hoping for a

miracle. I would catch myself daydreaming about it and have to give myself a shake. Seeing people with

babies would cause a little stab of pain. I just kept telling myself that after the wedding we would be

starting IVF and to try not to think about it until then.

Did you have lots of people asking when are you going to have kids/why don’t you have any yet?

People started asking about kids right when we first got engaged and I mentally kicked myself for every

time I had ever asked another couple that question. I would mumble something awkward about hoping

to be lucky enough or not everyone being so lucky and then I would shuffle off. This was a big contrast to

once we actually started IVF, at which point I because VERY open about the whole thing. I think that

before we got started it felt like being in limbo and I didn’t want to jinx anything or think about it all too

deeply.

Did your husband have a particular kind of male infertility?

He’d had a vasectomy! 9 years before we met, when he was with his first wife- they didn’t want

children together and he didn’t know that they would break up. The moment they did split he realised

he wanted children if he could find the right person, and started researching reversals (the

procedure) and for us to start trying for a family. I was so excited!! We had just got back from our

honeymoon and we leapt

straight into the scans and injections! We did it all privately because we don’t qualify for any IVF on the

NHS, so where and when was up to us and we just got going as soon as we could.

What was your experience in taking the IVF meds? Are you a pro at needles now?!

My husband is a gem and did all my injections for me! I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I got bloating and cramping and I was absolutely exhausted! That was all manageable though- the worst

part came when we attempted a live transfer that first month. I was chock full of meds and hormones

and then had to take more meds and hormones and have an embryo transferred. It was a perfect

embryo and had a 50% chance of success. We were sure it had worked and then when I developed OHSS

it seemed like confirmation. Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome can occur when pregnancy hormones

are added to the artificial hormones. It felt like I was being struck by lightning everywhere, all the time.

It wasn’t fun. And I wasn’t pregnant. The doctor wasn’t really able to explain why I developed OHSS but

no baby. It’s possible I had a chemical pregnancy that was just very brief.

Either way, I was physically and emotionally drained so we took a month break before trying one of our

frozen embryos.

So only one embryo was transferred and it split into twins?!

We only had two embryos left after our failed first attempt and I was young and healthy and fertile, so

we only had one transferred. I think it split because my husband and I are rubbish at sharing. (ok, fine,

I’M rubbish at sharing!)

Perks of Live Lived In twin baby scan IVF. Interview with Awesome Mama Illustration www.awesomemamaillustration.com.jpg

What were your first thoughts when you found out you were having twins?

I had actually been very clear and vocal about not wanting twins… So it was a little awkward. We had a scan at 7 weeks and the second it came up on the screen I saw the yin yang symbol and I said “that’s more than one baby.” I then laughed with mild hysteria for an uncomfortably long time and I definitely cried. I don’t remember saying anything else until the end of the appointment when I asked the doctor if she was sure they were both ours.

When I got outside I called my mum and told her and she cried and panicked and asked how I was going

to cope, which was… unencouraging. But then I stood there looking at the scan picture, at those two

little humans, and to me they already looked like babies. My babies. And I loved them.

I sometimes still felt as though something had been taken from me. I had lost the opportunity to be just

me and my baby. There was an adorable little interloper in my womb who would be wanting to share in

everything. That’s probably difficult to understand, but that’s how it felt. Now though, I couldn’t imagine

it any other way. Just having one baby sounds lonely!

How was your pregnancy and birth?

Rubbish! Twin pregnancy goes straight from first trimester sickness to third trimester pain! I was huge, I

had rib flaring, back pain, ankle swelling (we’re talking beach ball!) and heartburn. Pregnancy was agony

and birth nearly killed me.

At 34 weeks and 5 days I started bleeding, my waters for one baby broke on the way to the hospital and

my contractions started soon after at less than a second apart. I had two failed epidurals and 20 hours of

agony with little to no progress. Henry was lying sideways at the top of my tummy and so the

contractions weren’t pushing Felix down the birth canal. Another 6 hours later when I was finally fully

dilated and taken through to the operating theatre to start pushing, Henry was still sideways and so we

had the same problem. Pushing just squished Henry a bit and had no overall effect.

Eventually they went for an episiotomy and forceps and with two more pushes Felix was on my chest.

He was small and quiet and grumpy with big dark eyes, looking up at me and I couldn’t believe it. He was

perfect!

They had told me I wouldn’t get much time with him because the priority would be getting Henry out

safely, but luckily I started hemorrhaging pretty severely and lost a third of my volume of blood. They

spent almost an hour stopping the bleeding and they let me hold Felix whenever I was conscious. Then it

was time to push again and Henry made his appearance screaming the place down. My perfect boys.

Do you feel proud to be an IVF Mama?

Immensely! I know everything that I’ve been through to get my babies and I am so proud of myself.

We’re very open about the fact that our boys are IVF babies. We’ll be open with the munchkins about it

too. I’m almost looking forward to the day that they ask where babies come from and we can tell them “

when two people love each other very, very much, they save up oodles of money and go to see a doctor

who gives them 20+ syringes…”


Body Image

Did you feel different about your body during pregnancy to before you were pregnant?

I loved my body during pregnancy. I loved the feeling of being so huge and full of life. It was a real

redeeming quality of pregnancy for me, which is just as well because pregnancy was horrid!

How did you feel about your postpartum body?

Good then bad. I was lucky and lost the weight quickly just by walking every day and eating normally,

but once I’d lost the weight I slowly started to realise the things that weren’t going to change. I have

stretch marks and I have wrinkled tummy skin and my tummy is lumpier and bumpier than it used to be

and I don’t think that’s going to get better. My boys are 20 months old now. And I look older. I look

tired. My joints ache and I have back problems. Pregnancy did such a number on me!!! Don’t be put off,

lots of people have kids and are fine!

Adjusting to my new state has been hard and it’s an ongoing journey, but there was a time when I

thought I might never get to have stretch marks. I could have stayed smooth and thin and unbroken, but

I wouldn’t have my kiddies. This is the path I’ve chosen and I love it despite the physical cost. However,

some days I still look in the mirror and feel totally rubbish.

What’s the main source of inspiration for your tees/sweatshirts?

Me! And @muthahood.

My first t-shirt was my ‘Lived In’ slogan. I was lying in bed one night thinking about how much my body

has changed and I suddenly sat up. I texted my husband who was downstairs watching something

rubbish on TV and I told him I had the perfect way to describe my postpartum body- “Lived In”. He said

“if that isn’t already on a t-shirt, it should be!”

From there it was just a few months of researching to find a manufacturer that had the product quality I

wanted without compromising on the ethics. All my t-shirts and sweatshirts are made in the UK in a

carbon neutral factory.

How do you want the Mama to feel when they wear your clothes?

Empowered! Gemma from @muthahood has created something amazing. The Strong Girls Club makes

women and girls everywhere feel powerful and capable and like we’re a part of something. It might

sound ambitious, but I want the Lived In slogan to make Mamas feel strong too. Our bodies may have

changed but only because they did something incredible. We created life! We are all Lived In and all in

this together. 10% of profits go to women’s charities because we’re a team and women supporting

women makes us all stronger.

Do you think theres a social pressure for women to bounce back into shape after having kids?

Definitely. It was one of the first things I thought about when I found out I was having twins. Isn’t that

just immensely sad? My grandma’s generation was told to stay in bed for the first two weeks after giving

birth. Our generation has a ‘Mummy Makeover’ plastic surgery package involving liposuction and a

tummy tuck.

What advice would you give to anyone who’s not feeling great about their appearance?

Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself more the way you would want your little one to be

treated in your position. And remind yourself that it’s worth it- that may not help everyone but it

definitely helped me. Don’t dismiss how you’re feeling but remind yourself that it’s a journey and you

won’t feel like this forever.

Is there anyone you admire for having great body confidence?

Gemma from @muthahood again… I’m a bit of a fangirl but I love watching her embracing colour and

loving clothes. And @inpolife who is just totally gorgeous and running round on instagram stories

brightening up my days. @mamaclog is amazing! She shares her beautiful mama-body on the gram and

looks fab!


You can say Hi to Elinor on Instagram here

Her Perks of Life Tees here

Discover Elinor’s prints and crafty makes here

What did you think of Elinor’s interview? Drop a comment below x

Easy Christmas Crafting

Father christmas letter and decoration

I always imagined myself as a super crafting Mum and being an artist I think others may have expected the same from me too. However, with a 2 year old with an extremely short attention span, intricate family craft projects just aren't happening yet.

I wanted to make something whilst we wrote Fox's Father Christmas letter, when all the supplies were out and these mini tree decorations were a perfectly easy team effort.

Fox painted his unique take on the Big Man himself and got handy with the glue, whilst I did the boring bits!

To make your easy Christmas tree decoration, head down to the Poundland for the mini wooden frames I used, or check out similar ones here on Amazon

Step 1

Hold your frame on the other side of the paper that has your little one’s creation on it. Then draw round the inside of the frame. Cut a few mm wider than the line so you can stick it inside the frame and no paper will show on the outside edge.

Step 1 easy christmas tree decoration for toddlers
Easy toddler christmas tree decoration DIY
Step 2 easy toddler christmas crafts

Step 2

Use your first piece of paper to trace round the second drawing and cut that out.

DIY easy christmas crafts for toddlers and parents

Step 3

Stick down a ribbon or lace loop inside one of the little pictures. I used a glue roller, a saviour for no mess!

Ribbon and glue for childrens christmas crafts

Step 4

Glue the insides of your frames and stick your pictures in, then glue on top round the edges and stick both frames back to back to finish your creation.

Christmas tree decoration homemade
Childrens christmas tree craft project

I added Fox’s name and his age. I’d love us to make something each year to add to the Christmas tree as little keepsakes to look back on over the years!

So hey presto, a very easy, toddler friendly, minimal mess, Christmas tree decoration!

Being brave and building a brand

I’m going to be open and honest with you right now, as that’s what Awesome Mama is all about. I’m here through the bad times with you as well as the good, so I hope you’ll do the same for me.

A few weeks ago I was begining to despair. I’d had next to no sales in a few months and was starting to fear the future of my lovely little business. All the ‘likes’ and comments in the world don’t bring money to the table and as amazing as it is to get such positive feedback for my work (and I’m so, so grateful for that), for some reason, it wasn’t translating into sales.

awesome mama illustration family picture on building a brand

I work from home along side my toddler as childcare is too expensive, so I try to fit working into naptimes and after Fox has gone to bed. It means I have very little time to relax for myself, but as Awesome Mama is something that I absolute adore doing, I really don’t mind.

The months in the lead up to this post though have been tough. Really tough. And reaching rock bottom made me see that I need to try new things and be braver in trying to get Awesome Mama out into the world. I’m naturally quite introverted (I’m fine rambling on on IG Stories though, as I’m ‘hiding’ behind my phone, right!) so shouting about what I’m doing always feels a bit awkward for me. I never want to annoy anyone or even worse, feel rejected, so sometimes I’ve just stayed quiet. For the sake of my family, my son’s future, any future kids and my own sanity, it’s time to stand up and start shouting. I’m learning to take up space. To not apologise for who I am or what I’m doing. I want Awesome Mama to empower parents, especially Mother’s, as it can be a really hard, scary and lonely place out there with kids. I for one felt so isolated when Fox was a new born.

I don’t want Awesome Mama to just be me selling a few cards and t-shirts and bumbling my way with average company. I want to feel empowered myself and to spread that feeling to you. I want to grow and offer you really cool products that you love and are proud to show off. I have so many ideas, but sometimes (sadly) it takes money to get them off the ground.

I want my brand to be a support system for others. I always aim to send you awesome emails, with lots of love and support in every one (shameless plug, click here if you want to sign up!) I want you to feel that Awesome Mama is your friend. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. My inbox is ALWAYS open to anyone. If you need encouragement or a shoulder to cry on, I’m right here guys. Some people have opened up to me through Insta and I’m so honoured that they’ve shared their stories with me.

In this new wave of bravery, I emailed a few IG influencers, to see if they’d get behind my new Beautiful Bodies prints. One wrote back and more than just sharing on Insta, she offered to meet me and do a little interview live on her Stories. I was totally blown away. That lady was Natalie from Style Me Sunday. Now Natalie really didn’t have to meet me. She didn’t need to offer me her time or her platform. But I guess she saw that I’m a Mum who’s trying to do good for her family, whilst spreading a positive message. I hope so anyway. I can’t tell you how touched I was for her to go out of her way like that. I made me believe that shouting a little louder can really pay off sometimes.

I know I need to continue doing things like this and fighting off that shy little girl who still lives within. Coz you know what, there’s a strong and braver girl in there too, who’s learning to push herself forward.

So with this in mind, I’m off to email a few more people and who knows what that may bring. I can be brave on my own, but sometimes it’s nice to hold a hand. So if you want to come along this journey with me, drop me a line to say Hi, it’s always good to know that someone else is cheerleading you on too. I’ll do the same for you, if you ever need it.

Lots of love,

Stace x

Hidden Curiosities Gin Competition

Gin! We all know I absolutely adore this glorious clear liquid, however this love affair did not start off so amorously. I first tried gin at a house party at 15 years old. We’d broken in to my friend’s parents drinks cabinet and I went straight for the gin bottle. My exact words were “It tastes like gardens”.

Tastes change and no longer breaking into locked cupboards, my adult gin tasting has been a little bit more civilised (although I do miss that rebellious young girl).

I’ve sampled many brands of gin in my time, but never have I had one that I could drink neat and truly enjoy. Hidden Curiosities Gin is so unbelieveably delicious, that you can drink it neat (with ice) and it doesn’t give you that burning sensation. It’s full of flavour and super smooth.

The mix of interesting botanicals is a joy to taste and different ingredients can be brought out when you mix it with different garnishes. Making it a really versatile and incredibly tasty gin.

Hidden Curiosities is founded by my friend Jenny Meguro. She was bored of all the gins on the market, which were unable to adapt to her different moods for flavour, so she decided to make her own. A year long journey of sampling and experimenting led her to the final concoction, which features pink peppercorns, green cardamon, Japanese yuzu, pink grapefruit, bergamot and lime.

Jenny’s awesome gin is featured on my gin wreath Christmas card this year, so if you fancy a boozy card alternative then you can grab one here, there aren’t many left!

Awesome Mama and Hidden Curiosities have teamed up to bring you a really cool competition.

You can have the chance to win a bottle of Jenny’s gin and one of my new Beautiful Bodies prints.

All you have to do it head over to my Insta and tag your friends who may also like the chance to win and follow both myself @awesomemamaillustration and @hiddencuriositiesgin. If you join my awesome email list you’ll get an extra entry! The winner will be pick at random on Sunday 2nd December.

In the meantime, here’s Jenny’s favourite winter cocktail recipe for you!


The Winter Negroni

Ingredients

  • 70ml infused gin (recipe below)

  • 50ml bitter liqueur (eg. Campari)

  • 50ml sweet vermouth

  • 2 slices of orange

Infused gin (makes about 250ml)

  • 50g golden caster sugar

  • 2 cloves

  • zest of 1 oranges

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 star anise

  • 250ml gin

Mixing instructions

For the infused gin:

Add all of the ingredients in a pot, except for the gin. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil then leave it on low heat for 8-10 minutes, until it gets syrupy. Leave to cool until cold before using it in the next stage.

Pour the syrup with all the spices into a glass bottle or jar, add the gin. Shake well to mix  – resist trying it – and store for at least a week to infuse, the longer the better! Strain before using.

For the cocktails:

Fill up two rocks glasses with ice cubes. Stir the infused gin, martini bitters, sweet vermouth in a cocktail shaker, divide the liquid between the glasses and add a slice of orange in each.


I’ll be having a few gins this week in celebration, so catch you over on Insta and tag me in your gin pics!

Cheers!

-SWM