World prematurity day 2015: My story.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 21.46.57

November the 17th is world prematurity day, anyone that knows me personally, knows why this is such an important day for me.

I haven’t shared my story publicly, I was unsure wether I ever really wanted to. Its completely out of my comfort zone to write up and share such a personal blog post. But as something that changed my life completely,  I feel maybe the time has come for me to tell it – in the shortest way possible.

Mischa Swain, was born in the city of Bielefeld (Germany) on March 11th 2011, 11:34pm, weighing 1lb 8oz. Mischa was born at 25 weeks gestation, fifteen whole weeks early.

She was my first child and I was only nineteen. The day of my labour, everything was as it should have been. We’d been re-located to the army housing in the beautiful small city of Gutersloh three weeks prior. Sam had started work at his new base, I was bumbling round the house trying to find things to clean amongst the empty rooms that were due to be filled with our belongings a fortnight later.

And then it happened. I won’t go into all the gory details but at just after 9pm I knew it was time to go to the hospital, this wasn’t something and nothing. We arrived, I met the  wonderful staff. I was 3cm dilated and there was a chance this could be stopped. Twenty minutes later, that dream was crushed, I was 5cm dilated, our daughter was coming and fast. We were told the possibility of her not surviving was there and even if she did survive the possibility of her being severely disabled was high.

I was rushed into theatre, crying, terrified doesn’t even begin to explain. My baby was too small, too underdeveloped to survive on her own. I begged, pleaded with them to save her, before I was knocked out to the whispers of a german anathesiest trying to comfort me.

I woke sometime before midnight. Sam’s face filled with relief (I didn’t find out until afterwards, but due to complications he was told the possibility of loosing both of us was there. Poor sod.) We were told we had welcomed a beautiful little baby into the world, she was very poorly, but she had survived the C-section.

265819_2283599452305_7232024_o

The days after were a blur. I lay in the hospital bed surrounded by heavily pregnant women, all going through the stages of their labour. My thoughts never straying  far from what had happened, desperately trying to remember the first time I met my baby.

The journey that followed was a hard road for us all, I wasn’t used to being a mother, wasn’t sure what that even meant at this point. There was so much I wanted to do for her, feed her, change her nappy, even hold her. But she wasn’t quite ready, she just lay, fighting to survive.

Two weeks after she was born I got to hold her, it wasn’t at all what I had expected. I didn’t feel the rush of love, I didn’t cry, I didn’t laugh, I didn’t feel relief. I felt nothing, unsteady. I just wanted to put her back in the incubator, let the nurses look after her, they were doing what I couldn’t by keeping her safe and I couldn’t shake the feeling of worthlessness.  Regardless of how I felt, I continued the kangaroo care, knowing one of these days I’d feel that rush I was waiting for. At this point the no pressure approach was the only way to function.

1

The weeks passed and the long days went on, we visited the hospital every day, 8am – 8pm. Every day she got stronger, taken off more machines. There were set backs of course, she received a lot of blood transfusions, she picked up a lot of infections. But she managed to avoid any major surgery and every day she grew that little bit more stronger.

One normal tuesday morning eight or so weeks after her birth, we arrived at the hospital, this day was special. I had been promised on this day I could bath her for the first time. No tubes, no machines. Just me cleaning my baby. We arrived, the nurse apologised, but she had been bathed not long before we had arrived. I burst into tears, for the first time I was furious at how absolutely unfair the whole situation was, I felt robbed. Something so simple, this was my moment with her. I was supposed to finally get a first. There were many moments like this, many were I selfishly hated the world, hated the women that got to do it properly, hated the people that got to go home with their baby. I hated my body for not keeping her safe, hated it more for not being able to produce the milk she needed. I hated Sam for telling me everything was going to be okay, hated the nurses for doing what I wasn’t able to. It was a funny ol’ place to be, one I have learnt to deal with as time has passed.

Eventually, twelve long weeks after her dramatic arrival in the world. Mischa, Sam and I went home. We went home with a healthy baby, we slept, we fed, we changed nappies. And two or so months after that, whilst feeding her, she smiled. My darling girl with wide eyes filled with love and curiosity, looked at her mummy and smiled. I laughed out loud, kissed her chubby cheeks and felt my heart burst with love for the strongest person I had ever known.

And thats my story. Now, nearly five years on we have a healthy, happy, clever little girl. One who lights up the room with her love for everything, one who’s caring and hilariously funny. A healthy child who’s smile makes me burst with pride every day. We are so incredibly lucky to have Mischa still with us, even more to have her here so healthy. I’ll never forget those early days and i’ll never, ever take my role as being her mother for granted.

1

2

mischa

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

*For more information on World prematurity day, head over to the BLISS website *

No sew tutu.

 

1

Mischa has been excited for halloween since… well since last halloween. My girl loves to dress up & this year, same as last year she’s requested to be a witch. Not only that, but she wants me to make her a big fluffy skirt. Well Mischa, i’m going to do just that.

I first tried this method back in march, again Mischa had asked if I could make her a my little pony outfit for her birthday party, – I am just her personal costume maker!- so I started with a lovely bright tutu.

10420081_454830121337749_8290303490457741999_n

 

It really is such an easy method and with Halloween just around the corner, I thought what better time to show you all. Made with a black tulle, you can pair it with anything to make a spooky, yet completely adorable costume – This method will also work for an adult costume too!

So lets get started.

First up, heres what you’ll need:

  • Black tulle. Either the stiff or soft netting will work, I’ve gone for stiff, I just find it gives a stiffer skirt, a mix & match of both will work great too. You’ll need at least four metres for a child. The fuller & longer  you want it, the more netting will be needed. You can also mix & match colours, use any colour you want.
  • Elastic. at least 1 inch wide. (colour doesn’t matter at all)
  • Sewing machine, needle & thread, or if you really don’t want to sew anything, a simple safety pin will work.
  • Tape measure.

1

 

Now lets get started.

First you’ll need measurements. With it having an elastic waistband, it doesn’t need to be exact, simple wrap the elastic round the waist of the person your making it for. You want a good grip, some stretch, not too much so the person can’t breath. Alternatively, take 3-4″ off the waist measurement. It sounds like a lot, but adding the Tulle stretches it out a bit.

Give the elastic a snip and put it aside.  The length you want the skirt is completely optional. I’ve gone for 17″ (Age 5-6 years) because she does want it quite long. Once you know your measurement,  write it down, just incase you forget when it comes to cutting your fabric.

Next, using either your machine, needle and thread if your hand sewing or safety pin if you aren’t doing either and secure the edges of your elastic together.

1

Now, grab your tulle. I’m making two of these tutu’s one for Mischa & one for Izzy. So i’ve bought 8 metres (four & a bit for Mischa’s, just under 3 for Izzys – Age 2-3 years). You now need to make strips of tulle, lots of strips. I wanted a 17″ length skirt, so I need pieces that are 34″ in total length. Rather than cutting strips of 34″ I find it much easier to just fold my fabric in half & cut to 17″. Once unfolded I have the length I need.

* If you’re using soft tulle, you can skip this whole section by buying 6″ rolls of it, instead of flat metres. You then need to just cut your required length, they’re already in strips for you.*

2

So now we’ve got our tulle strips, we can start adding it to your elastic.

Firstly, fold your netting strip in half, place your fingers through the fold to open the loop and place on the inside of  your elastic.

2

 

Now, pull the bottom two strands of your netting up, thread through the loop and pull tight. Thats it done, easy as that.

3

Now comes the *difficult* part, repeating this process over again. Make sure with each new knot, you slide your knotted fabric snugly against each other. Keep on going until you’ve filled your elastic all the way round. It shouldn’t take you any longer than two hours to make one of these, but its such a simple process you can just thread, knot & pull absent mindeldly whilst watching TV or something, it requires that little concentration.

 

12177909_10208064488192838_912248057_n

12181894_10208064488312841_365729786_n

 

And thats it, easy. Your No sew tutu is done!

 

 

Happy Halloween!

2

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

A very DIY halloween.

halloween2

 

Its officially the week of halloween! We love this holiday in our house. We aren’t one of those overtop types, the ones that decorate every centimetre of their house in fake spider webs & life-size ghouls. But we do like to put a little around the front of the house for when the trick-o-treaters start coming round.

Over the years we’ve developed our little tradition of carving pumpkins & watching The nightmare before christmas on halloween-eve.  Then last year, because the girls were a little older we decided to do some crafts & make some cakes.

This year I’m stepping it up a bit, its half term so we have a few days *months* worth of spooky crafts lined up, as well as some halloween baking before we dress the kids up & let them loose on our neighbours sweetie collections.

I’ve been scouring the web, for everything you need to have your own DIY halloween, from homemade decorations the kids can help with (half term holidays, you need to keep them busy… two birds one stone) to Cheap costume ideas & easy to prepare food for a crowd.

 

Crafty decorations:

  1. Dangly bats. – I actually made these last year with Mischa, really easy, even better if you pre- cut the bats for the little ones, cover the table and give em’ some glue and glitter & googly eyes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 14.22.37

 

2. Black bag spider webs. – As simple as Halloween decorating gets, only three things needed. Scissors, black bags & sticky tape.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 14.26.31

 

3. Jack Skellington hanging garland. – What is Halloween without The nightmare before christmas?! I love these garlands, I will be making them this week with Mischa & Izz. Little side note to the original post, If you can’t get hold of liquid starch, i’m pretty sure a mod podge/ PVA water mixture would work just as good.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 14.30.34

 

4. Puffy ghosts. –  I think these will work best for the littler ones, a glue stick, some cotton balls. and you can just let them get on with it.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 14.34.18

 

 

Costumes:

  1. Ewok. – There’s no tutorial for this one (it doesn’t need one really though does it?) Photograph from http://tumblr.tastefullyoffensive.com

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 14.34.31

 

2. Homemade Cupcake. Again no instructions, but theres a pretty good rundown of what was used over at www.tristinandcompany.com

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 14.37.41

 

3. Emoji’s! Isn’t this just the best idea?! You can find full instruction on how to make over at Buzz mills.

emojis

 

4.  Wind up doll. I’ve found the simplest tutorial for this wind up key, simply pop on a pretty frock, add your key belt, some rosy cheeks and you’re done.  You could add some blood, or have one of those amazing make up sessions done to make you up a creepy doll, if you prefer the spooky look. You can find the wind up key tutorial over on ehow.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.16.06

 

5. Mummy. And old classic & so simple, All you need is an old bed sheet, cut up into strips. Easy on time & money. Full tutorial is over on One good thing by Jillee – Along with a few other simple DIY costumes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.31.49

 

 

Food: 

 

  1. Poison apples. How amazing do these look?! Another one I’ll be trying this Halloween, You can find the (extremely simple) recipe over on Simply delicious food.  I’ll be trying the original recipe for toffee apples & also switching it up a bit by trying a chocolate version.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 09.10.33

 

2. Pumpkin krispie treat. Something to make with the kids, you can find the recipe over at Yummy healthy easy. It is an american recipe, but apparently asda sell tootsie rolls ( what is used for the pumpkin stem) alternatively you could use the fun size fudge bars.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 09.57.19

 

3. Jack- O – Lantern cheeseburgers.  Simple, cheap & so obviously halloween. Perfect  if you’re having people over and don’t have the time or money for anything super fussy.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 09.59.26

 

4. Severed finger hot dogs. Another easy one if you’re having a few people round. They’re actually quite revolting! But completely within keeping of a gruesome halloween celebration. Recipe can be found over at Party Tipz. 

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 21.04.30

 

5. Spider web cupcakes. You don’t need to be a master baker, these cupcakes are so easy. You could even buy pre-made cupcakes just to save on time. You can find the full instructions over at Seakettle along with another simple tombstone cupcake tutorial.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 10.10.07

 

I’ll have a couple of my own DIY halloween posts up this week. A no sew tutu tutorial (perfect for costumes) will be up on Wednesday and a lovely recipe for one of my family favourite soups later on in the week – Also something quick to bulk make if you do have people over.

Happy Halloween week.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

Another year older.

another year older

 

A few weeks ago it was my birthday (August 17th to be exact.) I’m now twenty four.

Like new years, I find birthdays very much an anti-climax. Its supposed to be this big ‘thing’ but really it just marks another year of your life gone… God i’m depressing. Ha. Ha.

I do enjoy my birthdays really, especially since I have grown up and started a family. Even more so because as the years go by I get a little wiser, a little more focused on what kind of woman I want to be and where I want my life to go. With this in mind I’ve decided to start setting myself yearly goals. Kind of like new years resolutions, but not… I stopped making new years resolutions after the ‘learn to drum’ fiasco of 09′ – Drums are really, REALLY loud!

So here are my Birthday resolutions for my 24th year.

– Pass my driving test.. I took my very first driving lesson a few weeks after my 17th birthday, I then took about 300 euros worth of lessons when I lived in cyprus. Sam even went so far as to buy me a car for my 22nd Birthday…which I then had to sell, because it sat unused for so long. And still, I can’t get past passing my theory test. The next go will be my fifth time. This year I’ll do it.

– Finish a novel. I started writing after I had Mischa, I had a lot of free time thanks to us being based in Germany, Mischa was sick for a very long time meaning we couldnt come home to England for a while & I needed an outlet for all the built up – new mother, prem baby, missing home’ emotion. Writing eased that. So much so I wrote a 60,000 word ‘story’ *I use that term very loosely*  in just under three months.. I still haven’t finished it, nor the other ten to twelve stories saved on my laptop. It doesn’t have to be publisher worthy, or even really any good. But I’ve started and left so many unfinished, this year I’d like to stick it out & complete the process.

– Take regular breaks from the internet. If you follow me over on any of my social media accounts you’ll know i’ve been taking a little time off. I love Instagram especially, but I found myself spending a lot of time during the day staring into my screen, completely oblivious to the world around me. I was finding it impossible to really get stuck into any projects, my thought process always revolving around what would look better on Instagram. This is no good, and so I decided to take a little break. It was just what was needed, last monday I wrote eighteen pages for my latest -never to be seen, by anyone- novel. The most I have ever done in one day.

Thats it really, I have the usual eat less junk, do more exercise. Turn down the invites for wine & takeaway with my sister more often – they always result in a mammoth hangover. But these are my main must do’s.

My birthday itself was lovely. I was treated to a shopping trip to the Trafford centre, where I was spoilt rotten & later in the evening I had our traditional birthday dinner out with my sisters at our favourite italian – there was A LOT of pasta & wine consumed. All in all a bloody perfect way to introduce my twenty forth year.

11896072_10207593536219333_4110820560732138332_n

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Mischa’s Birthday Party : Photo diary.

Our Darling girl turned four last week. Four! Where on earth did those years go? Little background on Mischa’s birth: I fell pregnant whilst we where based in Cyprus. Mid pregnancy  we were posted to Germany & two weeks after we arrived I went into pre-term labour. I lay aching on the sofa all day whilst Sam was at work, thinking I had the flu. I didn’t have the flu. I was having a baby -kind of a massive difference-  Mischa Alexandra Elizabeth was born on March 11th 2011 at 11.34pm in the Gilead hospital, Bielefeld, Germany. Weighing a tiny 1lb 8 oz. She battled daily & finally on June 2nd 2011, she was allowed home. That was a truly amazing day!

Now we have an actual child, she’s clever, kind, compassionate yet so brutally honest, she has a ridiculously good memory & can be terrifyingly bossy.

She’s been talking about her birthday since last november, and every day since.

I booked a local community centre hall, and kept the invites to a minimum, I thought about inviting every kid she knew (60+ invites) but I wanted it to be a bit more of a family occasion.  And the less people invited the more I could focus on giving her party more of a personal/handmade touch rather than have to buy everything.

I made her outfit.

10420081_454830121337749_8290303490457741999_n

 

 

Made sweetie cones instead of the usual plastic toy filled goodie bags.

11045382_454802778007150_7826496364282487227_n

Obligatory party jelly!

10985884_454746218012806_8835021712811150591_n

I had my best friends mum (who also happens to be an amazing cake maker) make up Mischa’s cake, plus 24 mini cupcakes – because there’s just no such thing as too much cake!

10428417_455615084592586_1979675428661631257_n

 

I spent the morning before her party making up fresh baked batches of Smartie cookies. (Recipe for that will be up this evening – guaranteed chewy, chocolate- chipped goodness every time!)

11008821_454760004678094_4416718708997254347_n

 

 

And finally I rounded up a few of my nearest & dearest to help set up – because by this point I had spent two full days prepping, I was tired and had about half an hour to get everything ready before her everyone came.

10371890_455655111255250_4490930248933056381_n

 

 

I even managed to persuade everyone to jump in for a group photograph before it was over!

DSCF5966

 

Everyone had an amazing day, I sent away lots of sugar filled children, weary adults and then set about the big clean up. It wasn’t so bad, I had limitless tea & complete silence.

But most importantly, Mischa had the best time ever, and even now nearly a week later she still tells me how much she enjoyed her special day.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.