Older newborns | Baby Love Photography

Older newborns | Baby Love Photography

Anyone who has enquired or booked a newborn photoshoot with me or any another Hampshire newborn photographer will know that we like to try and get them done within the first 14 days ideally. The reasons behind this is that babies are (generally) still super sleepy and curled up, so getting them into the classic newborn poses is typically more achievable.

However, there can be lots of reasons why parents can’t make it to me in those first two weeks: perhaps mum or baby had to stay in hospital a little longer than planned; mum might not be feeling too good after giving birth – especially if she had a caesarean – so may need a few extra days to recover; or maybe as new parents, mum and dad are just not quite ready to venture out into the big wide world with their precious new addition just yet!

There’s also now another reason why babies may have not been able to get to me as quickly as their parents would have liked…..Coronavirus!

Before we went into lockdown, my diary was full of babies due between March and May. I was so excited to meet and photograph them all…..then Covid-19 hit! The country went into lockdown and I was unable to work. I was devastated, as were the parents who were so desperate for photos of their newborn.

However, all was not lost! There’s nothing to say newborn photoshoots can’t be done outside of the 14 day period!

In fact, I have had babies as old as eight weeks in my Fleet photography studio and have still managed to do a newborn-esque shoot! Obviously there are certain poses e.g. the froggy, that we can’t do with an older newborn. But there’s still plenty we can do – wrapped shots, awake natural shots, and even some posed pics if baby is in a decent sleep routine already!

So if you’ve given birth over the past few months and had given up all hope of getting some photos taken of your new addition, please don’t! Pop me a message or an email and I’m certain I will still be able to get you some treasured photos!

All of the images featured in this blog post are of older babies – from about four weeks up to nearly eight weeks old!!

And even if you’re worried you’ve missed the newborn stage, the 3/4 month milestone is also a super cute one to capture on camera – think tummy time and lots of smiles!

Everyone deserves beautiful photos of their babies and I, for one, refuse to let a little thing like a worldwide pandemic stand in our way of getting them! ūüėČ

E x


CORONAVIRUS - THE UPS AND THE DOWNS PART 2!

CORONAVIRUS – THE UPS AND THE DOWNS PART 2!

It turns out lots of you enjoyed reading my last post: Coronavirus – the ups and the downs!

So, with that in mind – and because I’ve since thought of some more positives to come from the pandemic lockdown – I’ve decided to write Part 2 of my Covid-19 experience!

Any of these relevant to my fellow parents (and non-parents) out there?

  1. I’ve been so much more organised with my food shopping! In an attempt to only visit the shop once a week, I’ve been really good with planning meals and making sure we have enough food to last all week! Whereas normally I would send my husband round to the local Sainsburys every few nights to top up the fridge or buy something I fancied, I’ve been buying a full seven days’ worth of food during my weekly visits. As well as saving money (as I haven’t felt the need to splurge on takeaways) it’s also forced me to plan ahead with our meals which is always a good thing!
  2. We’ve sorted out the garden! OK, not entirely as it would literally take us a month of Sundays, but we’ve done things to it that we’ve been saying we’d do for years! Putting the net around the trampoline; fixing the boys’ swing set; getting the paddling pool out when it’s been hot….our normal daily schedules don’t allow much time for extra curricular activities but with me out of work and my husband WFH, we’ve had lunchtimes and evenings to get out and get sh*t done! And it feels goooood!
  3. Talking of the garden, I have spent many hours in it sunbathing! Hasn’t this weather been incredible?! And as a result, my tan is looking pretty good if I may say so myself. I’m not a fan of fake tan – I’d much prefer to wait for the sun and get myself a natural glow! And the lockdown has been perfect for this, whether it be catching some rays whilst my youngest naps or donning a bikini whilst I supervise the kids in the pool!
  4. Money! Unbelievably, we’ve saved some! Obviously we’re down on our usual incomings due to my inability to work during lockdown, but with my husband WFH/not needing a train ticket and the closure of shops, childcare facilities, pubs, restaurants etc, we haven’t needed to spend anything apart from the weekly food shop. Oh, and the odd bit of internet shopping here and there – oops!

5. Roast dinners! OK, so who doesn’t love a roast – and we’ve been having loads of them! Again, thanks to my pre-planning with the food shop but also because we’ve actually had time to make them for once! We haven’t always been the best at timing them – we’ve ended up cooking one in the boiling heat at 5pm on a couple of days when a BBQ would have been far more suitable – but they’re always worth the effort! And you can’t beat a nice chicken and roast spud salad for lunch the next day!

6. I’ve learnt stuff! Yep, whilst homeschooling my eldest I’ve actually picked up on a few things too! Who knew the corners of shapes were called vertices? Or the various differences between evergreen and deciduous trees? It’s true that you learn something new every day….especially whilst homeschooling a five-year-old! haha

7. I’ve always loved reading books but haven’t had time to do so in forever. In fact, I think the last time I actually sat down and read a book in peace was during my maternity leave whilst waiting for my eldest to arrive – six years ago! So far this lockdown I think I’ve finished 4, maybe 5, books and it’s felt so nice to read again! They’ve ranged from thrillers to chick flicks but my fave has to be a beautiful book called Lily & The Octopus. Think Marley & Me but on paper….and yes, you will cry!

8. “True friends are always together in spirit.”

I think we can all agree we’ve missed our friends and family dearly during this time! What I would give to see them all, share hugs and glasses of prosecco and then head out for a carefree boogie on the dancefloor. However, lockdown has forced us to find new ways to communicate! There’s Zoom – seriously, I’ll be amazed if there’s anyone out there who’s survived lockdown this far without at least one zoom chat! And phone calls! OK, so admittedly this isn’t exactly a new thing, but in normal life I rarely pick up the phone for a proper chat! However, I’ve loved catching up with my nearest and dearest on the blower – either whilst sunbathing in the garden at lunch or once the kids have headed to bed in the evening!

Another way I’ve managed to keep in touch with one of my besties is by singing. My normal life includes performing with various local theatre companies but sadly, due to Covid-19, rehearsals and shows have all been halted until it’s safe to open theatres again. Not wanting to give up singing entirely during this break, my friend Dale and I found a way to stay in touch AND continue our love of performing! Our first video, a rendition of ‘Only Us’ from the incredible Dear Evan Hansen, received such lovely comments so we decided to do another one.

This is ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ from the equally amazing Wicked….we hope you enjoy it!

So there you have it! Several more positives to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic! Obviously, there have also been many negatives to the whole experience and my thoughts and best wishes go out to anyone who has lost a family member during this time!

Stay safe, stay positive, and stay in touch with your friends and family on Zoom until we’re given the go ahead to meet in person! Love, Emily x


Coronavirus - the ups and the downs!

Coronavirus – the ups and the downs!

So, here we are, nearly nine weeks into lockdown thanks to Covid-19! It’s certainly been an experience, that’s for sure! Stuck at home with two children and expected to homeschool, entertain, feed, water, exercise and nurture the pair of them whilst also taking care of the house and trying to keep my beloved little business afloat…. I’ve survived, but only just – and thanks, in most part, to wine….and gin…..and the odd vodka!

But do you know, whilst there have been obvious disadvantages to being stuck in lockdown this whole time – not being able to photograph being the saddest one for me – there have been some real positives to come out of the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ situation.

Nope, not convinced?

Allow me to elaborate….

  1. My boys have become closer than ever! They’ve always gotten on (mostly) but the bond they’ve created over the last few months is truly wonderful and has been lovely to witness. They’ve played far more together than previously – outside on the trampoline and inside with trains and cars – and it’s now clear quite how much my youngest looks up to my eldest. He idolises him and no-one can make him giggle quite as hard. Even when they’re sat on the Kindle they’re playing racing games together….I really hope they don’t miss each other too much when schools/childminders reopen ūüôĀ
  2. My husband has been home! OK, he’s been working mostly during the day, but he’s normally based in London which means leaving the house at about 6am and not getting back until almost 7pm. Currently he starts works at 9am (after having gotten up with my youngest so I can doze for longer) and then finishes at 5pm to help with dinner, bath and bedtime. It’s normally at this point that I crack open a bottle and escape for some peace and quiet in the bath. It’s been lovely to have some help but also for us to be able to eat earlier, cook healthier and just generally tackle things together which I would normally be left to handle on my own until he walks through the door at 6.50pm!
  3. I feel fitter than ever! OK, I know this sounds a bit crazy, but I have been absolutely smashing the virtual workouts. Not only can I exercise from the comfort of my home – I can do so wearing just pants and a sports bra if I like (and remember to turn off the video on Zoom haha). My classes are only half an hour long but that’s 30 minutes for me to focus on myself and work up a sweat before a day of dealing with the kids! I should add, I would probably be even fitter if I hadn’t discovered a love of baking during lockdown….thank God for my exercise classes to balance out all the white chocolate cookies I’ve been demolishing!
  4. I feel positively revitalised. No, not because of the exercising or all the calories in the cookies…..because of sleep!! I actually think I’ve slept more in the past few months than I’ve done for years and years! The reason….my eldest gets himself up, goes downstairs and puts the TV on so we don’t even know he’s awake. Pre-lockdown my youngest would normally wake up about 7ish, at which point I would have to get up anyway to start preparing for the school run. During lockdown, he’s been going to bed a bit later which has meant he’s been sleeping in longer. He generally wakes up about 8am, at which point my husband goes to get him, takes him downstairs, puts him in the high chair with some cheerios and comes back to bed. We then both doze until 8.45am when my alarm goes off ahead of my exercise class at 9am! It’s been absolutely bliss! No stress of school runs, no ‘put your bl**dy shoes on now’ arguments….the laidback lifestyle is certainly something I could get used to! It’s been quite nice not having to run around like a headless chicken in between drop offs, pick ups, after-school clubs, swimming etc. The highlight of our day is a late afternoon scoot down the road….and the lack of cars out means the kids feel safer than ever!
  5. I’ve realised I can go and extra day or two without washing my hair! Being in lockdown means no-one has to see me, so I started pushing the hassle of hair washing from two days to three days….OK, I admit, sometimes I even went to four! And do you know what – it wasn’t even that bad! So from now on, I will wait a minimum of three, meaning less water used and less money spent on shampoo and conditioner. Bonus!

As mentioned, with the positives do come negatives; our house is a tip since the cleaner hasn’t been here; our weekly food bill has sky rocketed with a husband and two growing boys here all day every day eating me out of house and home; our alcohol intake has doubled if not tripled (anyone else finding themselves drinking EVERY DAY?); and the car battery says low every Wednesday when I go food shopping as it’s been used so little over the past few months!

But, in a weird way, I’ve kind of enjoyed lockdown! I’ve missed photographing beautiful babies and fabulous families like you can’t imagine, but I’ve filled the days spending much-needed time with my own family. And that’s time I have cherished and will never forget!

I think a few changes will definitely be made to our lifestyle when we finally get back to normal life. Or should I say, the “new normal” post-Coronavirus pandemic!

* My thoughts, of course, go out to anyone who has been affected by / lost a loved one from Coronavirus. A huge thank you also to anyone who works for the NHS – you’re all amazing! *


It's official, I'm Award-winning!

It’s official, I’m Award-winning!

So, you may or may not know, but I received some pretty exciting news a few weeks ago: I was voted ‘Best Photographer in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’ at the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2019. Yippee!!

In case you’ve never heard of them, they bill themselves as ‘the UK’s most prestigious lifestyle awards, championing the very best local businesses across 21 counties.’

750,000 votes were cast across the UK by the public and it kind of blows my mind to think that a significant amount of those were for me…..and chose me to win!

I launched Baby Love Photography 4.5 years ago after being made redundant whilst on maternity leave. It was a massive step for me, but I knew from the get go that it was the right thing to do. I adored taking photos and meeting new families and I wanted a job I could fit around Flynn, then 1.

Since then, I’ve never actually entered any of my photos into competitions. There are lots out there, but they mostly make you pay to enter and I don’t really agree with that – I feel like a certain number of entries will always be graded so as to keep people happy and keep them paying to enter each month.

However, when I heard about the Muddy Stilettos Awards, they felt different. There was no cost to enter and the winners were decided purely on public vote. They’re also genuinely passionate about helping local businesses – and as any small independent business will know, we rely on word of mouth and the support of others to keep going in what is a very competitive business world.

When I found out I had won, I was honestly over the moon. The support I had received from my friends, family and clients had been amazing, but I was up against some amazing photographers so I knew it would be a close call. Even when I saw my name on the website I couldn’t quite believe it….luckily the editor called me shortly afterwards to reassure me that it was all true! haha

So what did I win?! As well as the official title of ‘Best Photographer in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’, I was also invited to an award’s ceremony at Pylewell Park in Lymington to receive my certificate and to meet the team behind Muddy Stilettos Hampshire. It was such a lovely afternoon – there were drinks and nibbles from several local suppliers, including one of the nicest Proseccos I’ve ever drunk by Cottonworth and super tasty (and on brand) biscuits by Gates Bakes (as you can see below, mine didn’t last long once Flynn had set his sights on it!)

As well as using this blog post to shout about my award, I just really wanted to use this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who took the time to vote for me – both to reach the final five and to be crowned the winner. It’s hard for me to put into words quite how grateful I am and I honestly hope my sincerity comes across – genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

I couldn’t have won this award without all your support, but more importantly, I couldn’t do what I do without it: To all new clients who put trust in me to take their family photos; To all my returning clients who come back to me time and time again; And to everyone who recommends me to their friends and family and allows me to meet new families on a weekly basis…… THANK YOU!

At Baby Love Photography, we are most definitely feeling the LOVE right now!


Top 10 things for kids in Hampshire & Surrey

OK, so I realise i’m posting this the wrong side of half term –¬†although to be fair I was in Dubai so I didn’t actually spend the week frantically finding things to entertain my hyperactive four-year-old (sorry not sorry). However, it dawned on me that Easter is only just around the corner and that’s a whole TWO WEEKS that the kids are off school so I figured I should start planning what I’m going to do with Flynn during that time. That then got me thinking about this blog post……so here it is, my favourite things to do with the¬†boys around Hampshire and Surrey!

1) Wellington Country Park РReading

We absolutely LOVE it here! I’ve had an annual pass for the last few years and it has been a God send! It’s fab for all ages! When Kit was a baby I used to go there for walks around the lake or for a coffee with friends, and ever since Flynn has been walking, I’ve been taking him to see the animals at the farm, to play in the splash park (when it’s warm enough), to hunt for balls in the mini golf¬†or¬†to burn off some energy¬†in the various parks! They even do themed events in the holidays e.g. Hallo’welly’ween in October and a Mega Egg Hunt at Easter. It’s only about a 20-25 minute drive from my home in Fleet and with the annual pass, it doesn’t matter if you only go for a few hours as you’ve already prepaid! However…..they have put their annual pass prices up rather drastically this year, to the point where I’m really torn whether to renew ours or not! Now that Flynn is in school I would only be able to take him during the holidays and it can get very busy during this time. My current thinking is that I will renew mine (Kit is free until he’s 3) and then just pay for Flynn when I want to take him on the odd occasion. But we will see. Regardless, it’s been fun while it lasted!

2) Soft Play

We LIVE in soft plays – especially during the winter! Flynn can run around like a lunatic, Kit can crawl safely in the baby sections¬†and mummy can sit and have a drink and some cake whilst keeping an eye on them both – and occasionally getting stuck in myself! Some also do a post-school meal deal where the older kids can play and eat for about ¬£7 (bonus – saves me cooking when I get home!).¬†I’m thinking I will do a whole separate blog post on the various soft plays around here as I have tried them all and each has their pros and cons but for now, here are a few of my faves for you to check out:

–¬†Run-About¬†(Farnborough)

–¬†Active Monkeys¬†(Fleet)

–¬†Active Tots¬†(Reading)

–¬†Farnborough Leisure Centre¬†(Farnborough)

–¬†360 Play¬†(Farnborough)

3) The Lookout Discovery Centre РBracknell

We’ve only been here once but Flynn loved it and I’ve been meaning to take him back but just haven’t had the time – it’s probably easier to do so without Kit now though¬†as he won’t stay in the pram for long and it isn’t really the best place for him to be crawling around! It’s basically a big indoor science exhibition with over 90 activities which kids can enjoy and learn from. Flynn was only just four when I took him and he had lots of fun but I think as he gets older he will start to enjoy – and understand – it even more! There’s also a big outdoor play area and it’s right next door to Go Ape and Coral Reef – neither of which I’ve been to but have heard good things about!

4) Hart Leisure Centre РFleet

Flynn loves swimming. He’s forever asking daddy to take him – how much actual swimming¬†he¬†does I don’t know – but even if he just runs through the water, he has a ball! We’ve taken Kit a few times too. He doesn’t seem to be quite as much of a water baby as his big brother but time will tell. Hart Leisure Centre is the closest pool to us so we tend to use this the most – Jonny has a swimming membership too as he goes himself in the evening! However, I personally find the pools quite cold (especially the big one) so I tend to sit on the side and just help with the drying/dressing part at the end. When Flynn was younger we also used to use the¬†swimming¬†pool in Aldershot¬†a fair bit.

5) Rosie & Bean

This is a little play cafe in Fleet that is super cute. They have a bouncy castle which is ideal for the slightly older kids and then lots of different toys – wooden shops and kitchens, train tracks, fancy dress station etc – which the younger kids enjoy. It’s quite small, so when it’s busy it can feel rather¬†chaotic (also when it’s busy parking is a nightmare), but catch it when it’s quiet and it’s a lovely little place to hang out. They also do the best jacket potatoes – I pretty much ate my body weight in them when I was expecting Kit!

6) Redfields

This is a lovely big garden centre in Church Crookham that sells everything from plants and home essentials¬†to clothes, kids toys and independent¬†food/drink labels. Upstairs they have a little play area which is perfect for younger babies – you can sit right next to it and eat cake while they play! For crawling babies it’s not as perfect as there’s no barrier to the play area so they can get out and crawl around (and the stairs downstairs are only a little crawl away) but that just means you have to ditch the cake and sit in there with them (not the end of the world, I know!). There’s also a TV in there and a little computer screen for the older kids – and they sell gingerbread men which always seem to be a firm favourite with the toddlers! Food is pretty pricey, so it’s not somewhere you’d want to eat out at every day, but for a treat now and then, it’s fine! Oh, and at Christmas they have these fabulous singing reindeer which are definitely worth visiting for!

7) Bowling

This is a fairly new one for us but ever since we introduced Flynn to it a few months’ back he’s been asking to go every weekend since. The first time we went Kit was young enough to sit and watch from the pram so I got to play…..and Flynn beat me!! No joke! IN BOTH GAMES! However, fortunately (for me) Kit now won’t stay for longer than two¬†minutes in his pram so I have to sit with him while Flynn and daddy play. Saves me the embarrassment of losing to a four-year-old I guess. We generally go to¬†Farnborough Bowl¬†as it’s the closest but the other day we tried out¬†Hollywood Bowl¬†in Basingstoke and that was pretty cool too – they have arcade games too which Flynn also loves!

8) The park – Fleet

Now that the weather has picked up a bit I just love popping to the park after school to catch the last of the sun (if we’re lucky) and to burn off that last remaining bit of Flynn’s energy before dinner and bedtime. Our go-to is Oakley Park on Albany Road as that’s on our way home. It’s a cute little park with a heater skelter slide, multiple swings and some floor games and it’s next to a big piece of greenland where you can play football/chase etc. We also like Azalea Park in Church Crookham as that’s a bit bigger and has all the usuals as well as an assault course and a scooter track and there are several parks around Elvetham Heath that we like to visit – the main one at The Key is good as it has a separate baby section as well as a skate ramp and zip wire for the older kids.

9) Farnham Park

As parks go, this is the creme de la creme. As well as 320 acres of rolling grassland, nestled in the middle of this deer park is a huge wooden play area for kids of all ages. There is a big slide, a zip wire, a castle, an assault course….honestly, there’s something for everyone. It’s lovely and clean and once you’re done playing you can either pop into Farnham for a wander round the shops and a bite to eat (it’s¬†my favourite local town – it’s so pretty)¬†or go for a walk around the rest of the park. There’s even Farnham Castle which you can look around – and a little cafe that sells ice creams (essential come the summer months)! One word of warning though….if you park in the main car park by the cricket pitch/ranger’s office (which is absolutely chocka at weekends when the weather is nice by the way) the park is fine to get to as it’s at the bottom of a massive hill but oh my gosh it’s a KILLER¬†to get back up to your car – especially when you’re either pushing a buggy or trying to drag a tired, hangry child along with you. Saying that, the promise of an ice cream from the cafe at the top usually works wonders as bribery ūüėČ

10) McDonalds – Fleet

Yep, there you go, I said it. WE LOVE MCDONALDS! haha Now, I promise you we don’t go there THAT often, but as a nice little Friday treat every so often it’s not the biggest crime, right?! Let’s be honest, it’s dirt cheap (¬£2.99 for a Happy Meal), I can guarantee it’s the one meal that Flynn will most definitely eat all of and he even gets a toy to play with #winning

Better still, the one in Fleet has a little soft play area in it so we can stay long after he’s finished eating and he’s fairly content! Oh, and¬†I can walk there from my house. And the other day I gave some guy a nappy because his little girl had done a poo and he’d been caught short and he bought me a McFlurry to say thank you #doublewinning


Little Darling Dress Up shoots

When you think about it, the concept of buying wedding dresses is a little crazy. You spend THE BIGGEST amount of money on a dress which you wear for ONE DAY only –¬†or if you’re anything like me, a few hours and then you get hot and decide to change into your pyjamas to dance the night away in! After that, you (perhaps) get it professionally cleaned and then pack it up in a box unlikely to ever see the light of day again. Isn’t that sad?! A dress which meant so much to you and signifies one of the happiest days in your life stuffed away, never able to bring such joy to you or¬†another person ever again.

WELL, THINK AGAIN PEOPLE!

As a photographer, I’m always trying to come up with new photoshoot ideas for babies, children and families. I like being able to mix in classic, portrait photoshoots with quirky mini sessions as I really do believe you can never have enough photos of your kids.

A few years back (over four to be exact) I had the idea of daughters dressing up in their mum’s wedding dress for a photoshoot. I took some practice shots with my friend’s daughter but never got round to advertising them – cue blaming life for ‘getting in the way’. However, armed with a new lease of energy (post-Christmas and with a one-year-old now sleeping a solid 12 hours at night), I decided to kick my butt into gear and finally got round to launching them

Welcome Little Darling Dress Up sessions…..

For 30-45 minutes, your darling daughter can experience what it felt like to be you on your wedding day. “A princess like mummy”. Veils, shoes, tiaras, accessories….all are welcome as we dress your little one up in your most prized possession. Imagine her little face as she gets to see your beloved dress for the first time. Imagining it?…..¬†Now picture her face as she gets to TRY IT ON!! I promise you, there’s nothing quite like it! Pure joy and elation….the same way you felt trying it on for the first time before you made it your own.

Feeling left out of all the fun? Well get this….as well as your daughter wearing your dress for the shoot, why don’t you borrow your mum’s dress and wear that¬†alongside your little girl for some photos?!¬†Can you think of anything more special for “grandma” than a photo of her daughter and granddaughter wearing their mummy’s dresses?…..No, didn’t think so! ūüėČ


Newborn images: your fave poses

As a specialist newborn photographer, I’m always learning new poses. I try to include as much of my posing repertoire in every shoot to give parents maximum¬†variety as possible, but there’s no denying I have my favourites. Saying that, when picking their top five images, all too often I find that parents choose shots/poses which I personally wouldn’t have picked, and it got me thinking…..I might love a photo because I know it’s one of the trickier poses to achieve and I believe I’ve nailed it and therefore feel like it’s my best work. However, parents might look past the complexity of the pose and might actually be drawn to a more natural image where baby is completely un-posed. I can spend¬†five minutes grabbing some quick awake shots of baby at the beginning of the session before we feed them and get them to sleep and then up to an hour trying to perfect the ‘froggy’ pose (see below if you’re unsure what this is)….what if I’m wasting time on poses that parents don’t want to see their baby in?

There’s only one way to find out…..

Below I’ve listed (and included photos) of practically¬†every newborn pose I know. It would be REALLY helpful if you (yes, you reading this post)¬†could go through all of these and then on my¬†FB page¬†(underneath the link for this blog post) name your top 3-5¬†poses. That way I can see which shots tend to be most appealing to potential clients/which ones I should be prioritising each shoot versus those which I could theoretically avoid and parents wouldn’t really miss.

As well as helping me, you’re also getting the opportunity to look at lots of photos of absolutely adorable little newborns! Win win, I say! ūüėČ

Froggy

Taco

Sidelay

Tushy Up

Chin on hands

Tucked in

Wrapped

Curled up

Swaddled

Floral Wreath

You raise me up

Parent's hands


Our holiday to Disney World

I’ve been desperate to return to Walt Disney World Resort for years now. I think I last visited when I was about 18 and I’ve been craving my Disney fix ever since. However, before having children we couldn’t really afford (or justify) it and since having children we definitely couldn’t really afford it but I kept trying to justify it.¬†We hadn’t previously been abroad as a family – we took Flynn camping in Devon last summer but I was 16 weeks pregnant, it rained (a lot), and we were in a tent which Flynn struggled to sleep in so I wouldn’t exactly call it a holiday. I wanted to take advantage of being able¬†to go away before Flynn starts school in September and also before Kit started weaning as I knew how much easier it would be if I could just plonk him on the boob whenever he was hungry. Jonny had already booked two weeks off work in June and we were umming¬†and ahhing about what to do and where to go but eventually we just thought “sod it, let’s go to Disney!”

Safe to say we had a blast! It was HOT (and VERY humid) and it was VERY busy (the Americans had already broken up for Summer) but we loved every second. Flynn was completely overwhelmed with everything Рthere was so much for his little three-year-old brain and senses to take in! He went on near enough every ride, bless him Рhis favourite was Space Mountain. And Kit was good as gold. He was dripping in sweat but was fairly content just chilling in the buggy or lapping up the attention in the carrier.

Oh, I should mention the flights! They were, by some miracle, absolutely fine. The flight out was during the day and although Flynn got a little bored and restless and refused to watch any one programme/film for more than 10 minutes, he did pretty well considering. And during the night flight home both boys slept pretty much for the entirety, meaning Jonny and I could finally relax and watch some films.

For anyone considering going to Disney or with tickets already booked, I thought it might help for me to share my top tips with you. We learnt A LOT from our first holiday abroad as a family so this is me passing on my newfound knowledge in the hope of making your trip even more amazing:

1) Take a double buggy. I hadn’t even really considered taking one as Flynn hasn’t used a buggy for years but the lady in the travel agents mentioned her six-year-old still uses one on holiday and it panicked me into purchasing one. BEST DECISION EVER!! Even if Flynn hadn’t used it, it would have been useful enough for our bags, water bottles, the carrier etc but when he got tired…or we got tired of telling him to walk faster/hurry up, stop dilly dallying…he would just jump in the buggy and off we would zoom. There’s buggy parking everywhere so you’ve always got somewhere to leave it if you decide you want to go by foot and whilst it was a little cumbersome during the transfers to and from the parks each day, I believe it was $30 a day to hire a double in the parks – so WELL WORTH taking one with you if you can pick one up at a reasonable price beforehand (I recommend¬†scouring Facebook marketplace for a second hand option).

2) Take LOTS of snacks. We had a hand luggage sized suitcase full and it was pretty much empty by the end of our trip. They kept Flynn satisfied and occupied on the flight and they were a lifesaver during long queues in the parks. It also meant that we could tide him over until we found somewhere we wanted to eat/less busy than other places and it saved us a fortune as food in Disney is not cheap!

3) Download the My Disney Experience app to your phone before you go. It covers everything Рqueue times, parade schedules, your Fast Passes, ride closures and maps of the parks as well as giving you access to photos taking by the professional Disney photographers.

4) If¬†you have a young baby, take a carrier/sling. Buggies aren’t allowed in the queues so for family rides we chucked Kit in the Baby Bjorn. It was also useful during the bus transfers as you have to fold your buggies so we would carry him in there, leaving spare hands for helping Flynn, carrying bags, holding on (if we didn’t get a seat) etc

5) We went in June because that was the only time my husband could get off work. Would I recommend it as a time of year to visit Disney? No, probably not. As mentioned, it was very hot and fairly busy! We went there knowing this so it certainly didn’t ruin our trip but if I had the option, I would opt for a quieter, slightly cooler time of year – especially with the kids. I’m told that November and February are good times to go (if your kids aren’t yet in school, of course).

6) Flynn is super tall for his age – he’s just¬†over 1.1 metres! Which was lucky because most of the decent rides required you to be 44 inches tall (or 1.11 metres). He’s probably one of the only three-year-olds to have ever been on rides like Tower of Terror and Fast Track – a) because most kids that age wouldn’t be tall enough and b) even if they are, they’d probably be too scared to go on them! Had he been too small to go on them, would the trip have been a bit of waste? Yes, personally I think so! Either Jonny and I would have had to parent swap for every ride, leaving Flynn out which would have been pretty unfair on him, or we would have felt guilty and not bothered doing them – which I think would have resulted in me feeling disappointed that I had gone all that way and not been able to go on any rides for myself.

7) We stayed in the Art of Animation hotel – a Disney partner resort. It was great. We had a Little Mermaid room which was small and cosy (2 doubles and a travel cot) but we knew we wouldn’t spend a lot of time in our room so opted to save money by sharing one space rather than getting a family suite. Flynn loved the cheesy decor and there were lots of big character statues for him to look at (and ask us about….every time we passed them….multiple times a day) on the short walk to our room from the bus drop off point (by the way, transfer buses to the parks are included in your hotel package.)

8) Fans! Normal ones and water spraying ones! Take them! They’re a godsend in the heat. I got mine in either Poundland or Tiger here in the UK¬†for a couple of quid – they were selling them in the parks for $20+! Also ponchos! We went during “the wettest month of the year” and we had pretty crazy thunderstorms most afternoons. Again, the cost to purchase proper Disney ponchos was extortionate whereas I got ours here for ¬£1 each.

I’m sure there’s more but I’m starving hungry and need to put my dinner on and my brain has gone dead – I mean, it’s been pretty mushy in general since having Flynn but it’s particularly bad at the moment as Kit decided to wake up at 2.30am and not go back to bed until 7am and Flynn refuses to sleep past 5am most mornings so it’s safe to say I’m¬†rather sleep deprived. If I think of anything else, I’ll update the post and likewise, if you have any questions, please ask – I would be happy to help in any way I can!

P.S. This photo of Flynn on Expedition Everest cracks me up! haha.


Postnatal depression

Postnatal Depression And Me

by Dominique Tahir

I never thought I would be hit by depression – it was just not on my radar. I had never really even heard of postnatal depression before. So when I suffered quite nastily with it, it was a complete shock. For me, it was a slow burner and then turned out to be completely debilitating. I have always been in control of my life, especially my career as a Fashion Buyer, so to feel out of control was totally alien to me. I always had a plan and aimed to achieve it.

When I had my first baby boy, Jacob, I was on cloud nine and had a brilliant experience, despite him having a horrible bout of reflux. We were so in love with him and seemed to overcome everything that came our way Рnothing was too much of a problem. When I discovered I was pregnant with our second baby only four months after having Jacob, things just felt different, like something was un-nerving me. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. I felt anxious about things which never really bothered me before. The small age gap was planned Рwe always wanted a big family and close together Рso I knew it wasn’t that. At first I just put it down to stress and that I was doing too much, but towards the end of my third trimester things seemed to be getting worse Рevery day was a struggle. I was diagnosed with Polyhydramnios (a condition where you have excess amniotic fluid). The consultant kept pushing to induce me, which is not what I wanted, but I had to give in, putting the baby ahead of my own wishes for the birth. From this moment on things started to spiral and I felt a big dark cloud over my head. It’s really hard to explain Рit’s almost like my world turned from glorious technicolor into grey-scale. To couple this, I had to resign from my job as they could not keep my position open any longer Рwith two small babies it would have been impossible to go back. It was a job I loved. I felt resentment about leaving my career, but also joy that I was able to be at home with my children, which is what I thought I wanted. I was really confused and felt guilty constantly. Coupled with this, my husband also lost his job, so we were both out of work leaving us extremely vulnerable. This was a really dark time for us as a family and put a huge amount of strain on our family.

When my son Teddy was born I loved him, but there was not the same instant connection that I felt when Jacob was born. Even though Teddy was an easier baby and latched on when feeding, I felt completely disconnected from him. The guilt that I felt was eating me up inside. I would look at him and think he was not mine, like my brain was just shutting off from any capability to love. I was struggling to get dressed in the morning and felt anxious leaving the house, for fear the worst would happen. I would not want to even be in the same room alone with both of the boys – I would feel the fear rise up in my chest. Even writing this now is bringing this all back to me. I hated how I felt and sometimes wished I was not here anymore. Not like I would do anything to hurt myself or my family – I just felt like they would all be better off if I was not here. I felt like I was just not good enough – as a wife, a mother or even a friend. I started to lose a lot of my old friends in the fashion industry, so also just felt completely out of myself. I had lost ‚Äėme‚Äô.

The crunch point was one day when I literally could not get out of bed. I’d had a silly disagreement in the early hours with my husband when feeding Teddy and suddenly I felt like I was loosing my mind РI even stuck a breast pad to my head in desperation!! Something had to give! This was clearly not normal behaviour! My Mum knew something was not quite right too and tried to help. They were both very supportive, but this was something I had to do for myself. Eventually I went to my GP, a male GP, who sadly did not really get it. He said I should put myself forward to iTalk, which is over the phone Cognitive Behaviour Therapy also known as CBT. I had a couple of sessions which seemed to help, but once I was discharged they were meant to call back in a month’s time and never did! No one ever followed up; it’s so easy to fall into the system. In my opinion, face-to-face counselling would have been much more effective, but this was never offered. I joined baby yoga and also Weight Watchers just to try and get some piece of my self back. My body felt disgusting after having two babies so close together РI could not look in the mirror. I had to do something about it. I went on a mindfulness course, which was a bit of a turning point; it made me see what was in front of me, to live in the now and not in the past or the future.

I was actually one of the lucky ones; I managed to lift the cloud over my head. It seemed forever, but the darkness did fade and I managed to overcome it and without medication. This is not for everyone – sometimes the postnatal depression is a chemical imbalance, which requires medication. The struggle is all the same, as long as you find your way out of it.

All you need is that one kind person to ask how your day is, to be a friend to someone in need, to realise you need help and to be there for you. No one knows how hard your struggle is until you talk. The pressure which society puts on women to ‚Äėhave it all‚Äô is setting us all up for a fall; we need to learn to be kind to ourselves.

Having a network of amazing mum friends has helped massively. Some understand, some don’t as they have not felt the sadness of depression, but the main thing is that they have your back Рthat’s what true friends are. The help of family and an awesome group of mum friends really can get you through.

I slowly bonded with my son and the love I have for him now is unbreakable, even though he is now a troublesome two year old. He is spirited they say, strong and spirited, and I am truly blessed he is here. It was a tough life lesson, but when you get to the other side you are all the stronger for it. I am now a mummy to three babies, only recently having had my baby girl four months ago, and I have not had one symptom of postnatal depression with her. It just shows that if you have it with one baby you will not necessarily have the same journey again. Personally I swear by having my placenta encapsulated. It’s not for everyone, but it sure worked for me!

Out of something dark¬†comes something light. It has made me a stronger person and has also driven me to do something for myself and make my children proud of me. I have recently set up my own children‚Äôs wear label¬†‚ÄėBluebell & Bear‚Äô which has totally given me my spark back and a purpose to my day. Doing something that I love makes me feel happy again. It‚Äôs all about finding your happy place and clutching onto it with both hands… life is too darn short!

Be strong mummies and take one day at a time Рit will all be ok in the end.

With love Dominique xxx


Life with a newborn

We did it! We survived two weeks with a new baby and as a family of four!

I’m not going to lie – there were times when I wasn’t sure what we had let ourselves in for. Most notably the first few nights when Kit literally DID NOT SLEEP! I mean, not at all. He was genuinely on my boobs for about eight hours straight – every time I tried to take him off as he appeared to be asleep he would cry within about two minutes of being put down. My nipples were hanging off (sorry if TMI) and we were honestly at our wits end. I just don’t remember Flynn ever being THAT bad! Either he wasn’t and we were blessed with a dreamy newborn or he was and¬†we’ve forgotten / managed to block it out. Either way, it was certainly a shock to the system!

In desperation, I bought a bedside crib to replace the moses basket and with a Sleepyhead inside, (touch wood) we appear to have found something that works. Kit tends to go down about 11pm, wakes four or so hours later for a feed, and then goes back down for another three or so hours – waking at around 7am. For a two week old that seems pretty good so we’re fairly happy with that – to be¬†honest, I’m probably getting more sleep now than I did in the few months leading up to his birth¬†due to needing a wee every twenty minutes and pregnancy insomnia.

The days are filled with feeding, changing and napping but I’m trying to savour every moment as I know how quickly this newborn bliss stage will pass. I love it when he’s awake (in the day) as I could spend hours looking into his knowing little eyes and sucking up every little facial expression. Whilst in the first few days I would put him down in his moses to sleep during the day so I could have a break, now I find myself picking him up to give him a cuddle because I miss him. Crazy I know, but I just don’t want to miss a second.

Kit now weighs 8lb 10oz – a giant leap from his 7lb 14oz birth weight. He only lost about 10% in the first week and is sufficiently piling on the pounds – unsurprising really¬†considering how much he eats! I had an absolute nightmare breastfeeding Flynn! I managed seven months but was plagued with multiple bouts of mastitis, thrush and plugged ducts! I’d be lying if I said wasn’t terrified about doing it again this time round but again touch wood, things appear to be going much better. The first week was pretty painful – the constant feeding during those first few nights before my milk was established definitely didn’t help – but once the milk started to flow and I felt confident in Kit’s latch, we turned a corner on the feeding front and fingers crossed it will¬†continue¬†that way.

Whilst breastfeeding has most definitely improved since last time, one thing which has been way worse and which I wasn’t prepared for was the pain of uterus contraction. The midwife in the hospital told me it gets worse the more children you have but as I don’t recall having any pain after Flynn’s birth, I wasn’t too concerned about it this time round! That was a monumental error on my part! Exactly a week postpartum I was hit with what I can only describe as crippling period pains. I was at a friend’s house and all of a sudden I was unable to move. It felt like being in labour again. I had to call my husband to come and drive us home – I could barely stand! My blood loss increased dramatically too which was a little scary but after calling the hospital and speaking to friends with multiple children, I was assured it’s all normal. The bleeding lasted a good few days and whilst the majority of the pain subsided over night, I had to take it easy for at least 48 hours and was dosing up on ibuprofen to keep the discomfort at bay.

Aside from the above, these past two weeks have been fairly drama-free. Flynn has taken to being a big brother so well – I couldn’t be prouder of him – and like last time, my husband Jonny has been incredibly hands on and sympathetic to my postpartum needs. Obviously now is when the real fun begins as he¬†is back at work and twice a week I will be on my own with the boys – wish me luck for those!

But I’m hoping with at least a few hours sleep behind me and soft play around the corner, we should be just fine. Oh, and cake. Lots of cake!