Then and now

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If you’re a parent I’m sure you often fantasise about the days when you were young (er) and carefree. The days before you developed those dark circles under your eyes. The days of spontaneous dinner dates, boozy weekend lunches that lingered into the evening and gig-going (our personal favourite). The days of..okay I’ll stop before I sound like a whingebag.

Your spontaneity isn’t the only thing that seems to change after 2 become 3, your conversations do too. Some days I do have to stop and think “Have you heard yourself?” when talking to Mr.S.

Couple conversation, then vs. now –

Then – “How was your day huni?”

Now – “Thank GOD you’re home. She’s been a bloody nightmare today. Did you get wine?”

Then –  “You smell nice”

Now – “What the hell is that smell?” (Cue sniffing of toddler’s bum)

Then – “That film you wanted to see is out on Thursday, shall we go?”

Now – “I think we’ve used up our babysitting credits for this month”

Then – “Have you seen my red heels with the bow?”

Now – “Have you seen Cinderella?”

Then – “Ooooooooh your sex is on fiiiiiire

Now – “Let it go, let it goooooooo

Then – “Oh look *insert name of band/singer* is playing, shall we get tickets?”

Now – “Oh look, Frozen on Ice. The tickets are HOW much?!”

You get the picture…

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2010

 

Any others you’d like to add?! Pass the wine.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

 

 

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I can’t believe I just said that

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I remember very clearly the things my Mum used to say to me as child, I like to call them ‘Mum-isms.’ You know, things such as ‘Get down from there or you’ll fall and break your neck’, ‘If the wind changes you’ll get stuck like that’ and ‘You’re NOT going out dressed like that’…you get the idea.

So I guess it was inevitable I’d start saying these Mum-isms sooner or later. Here are a few that have escaped from my mouth in the past few weeks –

“I’m going to count to three and you’d better be on this changing mat. One, TWO…TWO AND A HALF…”

“What did I JUST say?”

“Are you allowed to do that?” “No Mummy” “Then why are you doing it?”

Don’t like it” says Aria pushing her food away. “There are children starving in Africa who would LOVE this food”

“Get away from the TV or you’ll get square eyes”

“I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall”

“Am I talking to myself?”

“Sit down while you’re eating or you’ll get indigestion”

I’m sure there will be many more to come as Aria grows up and even when she’s an adult I’ll be uttering them, because as my Mum tells me, your children are always your babies whether they’re 3 or 33.

What have you found yourself saying to your children?

Em xx

 

Beware – Toddlers have no filter

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You know some people  who say exactly what’s on their mind? Positively described as honest, negatively described as blunt. Sometimes I love these people. “I wish I could be that honest” I think. Other times I think “Ooh that was harsh, don’t you have a filter?”

Well, let me tell you toddlers do not have this filter! And if you tend to have a bit of a potty mouth (don’t we all some days), control it, control it now! For your delightfully cute little one will repeat EVERYTHING YOU SAY! And I mean everything. Hence Mr. S and I training ourselves to replace our thoughtlessly uttered expletives with words such as ‘sugar’, ‘bother’ and my current favourite ‘fudge sticks’. Particularly hard when driving I’ve found!

“So”, I hear you say, “I get it, keep my language in check in front of my little one” (and out of sight because THEY HEAR EVERYTHING) – “check”. But it’s not just your language you need to consider. These adorable tiny humans have a way of saying exactly what they think, when they think it.

Take Good Friday for example. There we were, family Smith 3, enjoying a sunny afternoon at Bateman’s, a National Trust property in East Sussex. Taking a break from our Easter egg hunt to enjoy our picnic, people watching and enjoying the sunshine, when a shall we say larger lady comes into our vicinity. Aria, darling daughter, pipes up from behind her carrot sticks “Lady, big tummy.” Cue husband and I, beetroot red trying desperately to drown out her honesty, “ARIA ARE YOU ENJOYING YOUR LUNCH?” “Lady, BIG T..” “MMMM YUMMY CARROT STICKS”. “LADY, BI..” “LOOK AT THAT DOGGY.

Thankfully, I don’t think the lady heard her honest outburst. We however, are going to have to learn to deal with more of these types of situations. Because when you’re two, you really do say what you think.

Has your little one come out with any embarrassing things? I’d love to hear them!

Em xx

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Darling daughter, enjoying her chocolate bunny

 

 

 

 

Don’t tell a parent they look tired

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So this is a little bit of a ranty blog post. Sorry for being negative, but some things really do get my goat (where does that expression come from?!) and if you’re a parent, they probably get yours too. So instead of imploding from keeping in the mum rage, I thought why not blog about it!

Recently I’ve felt the best I’ve felt since having Aria, in fact since being pregnant…so we’re getting on for two years here. Since giving myself a kick up the bum to do some actual exercise, that doesn’t just involve wrestling Aria to the floor as she tries to crawl off after a massive dirty nappy, I’ve felt calmer, brighter and more energetic. More importantly, I’ve felt happier.

Just as you’re feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, feeling more confident with this parenting thing, thinking – “Yes! I am not completely useless. My child only had a tantrum once today,” some bloody “do-gooder” decides to utter the words “you do look tired.” Tired? TIRED?! Are you f**cking kidding me?! Now, is this just something people say for the sake of something to say to someone with a young child (Hubby thinks this is true), or are you doomed to look tired until your child turns 18. Actually, probably beyond that, as you spend your nights awake until they come home after a night out.

Either way, if you’re reading this and you’ve said this to a parent, STOP, stop now and think of something nice to say. Or keep your mouth shut.

What other things get on your nerves now you’e a parent? Leave me a comment below or tweet me at @Em_L_Smith

Thanks for reading!

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"Did you just tell my Mum she looks tired?"

“Did you just tell my Mum she looks tired?”

 

The weaning journey at 11 months and 16 days…

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As I write this, my husband is trying to get Aria to eat chicken and butternut squash tagine. Lovingly made last weekend, this delicious meal doesn’t seem to appeal to my darling daughter’s tastebuds. How do I know? She’s behaving as if he’s trying to feed her poison, by squealing and wriggling, her face bright red as she tries to escape from her highchair.

This isn’t a rare occurrence and there have been many tears of frustration over the last 6 months or so since we started the weaning journey, and that was just from me!

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From the beginning, we’ve made all of Aria’s meals from scratch, using the Annabel Karmel book and making up a few of our own along the way. I think this has made it even more upsetting when she’s refused to eat them, as we’ve put a lot of effort into making sure she has the best we can offer. I’ve felt, at times, like it’s a personal insult when she’s refused food. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

As I’m sure mums reading this can sympathise, trying to get your child to eat a variety of meals is a challenge. There have been several days where Aria will refuse to eat anything from a spoon, only wanting to eat finger food. Then for a few weeks she’s loved everything we’ve offered – from cottage pie to salmon and broccoli with pasta. Now, we’re going through a fussy stage and I’m trying to remain calm.

Although I’m certainly no expert, I wanted to write a post that other mums could relate to and offer a few tips I’ve found have helped over the last 6 months of our weaning journey.

1. Offer finger food at every meal (and an extra spoon!)
Aria is very independent and loves to feed herself, including finger food and eating with a spoon, although her aim isn’t usually that great! I try to offer finger food that’s easy to hold, including homemade fish goujons, slices of cheese, cucumber sticks, homemade salmon footballs and sweet potato wedges. I also find this is a good distraction, as is letting her hold her own spoon, whilst I slip some food into her mouth unnoticed!

2. Use distraction
Aria loves Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom so we tend to have this on at meal times as, quite often, she is engrossed she will let me feed her. I know not everyone will agree with this method, but it often works!

3. Make meal times fun
Nobody likes to eat alone so I try to time our meals together as much as possible. Aria’s more likely to eat if she sees us eating, although she often wants what we have rather than her own food, and it makes it more social.

I’ve also recently discovered that Aria will take food from her spoon if I let her pig puppet ‘feed’ her. Strange but true!

4. Stay calm
Easier than it sounds but take a deep breath…..or ten. I found, not only was me getting wound up when Aria wouldn’t eat making me feel exhausted, it wasn’t making meal times a pleasurable experience for either of us. The more frustrated I became, the more Aria refused to eat. Now I just think – she won’t starve, so maybe today she’s just not as hungry as the day before. Like us, she’s not a robot when it comes to how much we want to eat on any certain day.

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What stage are you at on the weaning journey and what are your tips for staying calm?

Let me know in the comments below or tweet me at @Em_L_Smith

Thanks for reading,
Em xx

Aria’s 6 month update

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So after my last post I’ve finally sat down to write Aria’s 6 month update…at 30 weeks! Time just goes so fast and in-between my makeup course and looking after Aria, it feels like I’ve barely had a minute!

When we had Aria so many people with children told us to appreciate the time when she was a tiny baby, as they grow so fast. At the time I remember wishing it would get easier..fast! And now as I look at her I can’t believe she was a tiny baby who fell asleep on me after every feed. Now, she’s an inquisitive, cheeky monkey who can sit up by herself and always wants to be off playing and exploring. In a way I do miss the early days. Not the night feeds or the overwhelming tiredness, but the times when we could sit together for hours and she would snuggle close. That rarely happens now, but in exchange I have a beautiful nearly seven month old daughter who is developing a cheeky personality by the day!

Aria - 1 day old

Aria – 1 day old

I guess in this update I just wanted to reflect how much Aria has changed, her milestones and what her routine is now, compared to the early days.

Milestones

There have been so many milestones in the last 6 months, and not just the big ones like when Aria first rolled over, and there are more every week! But I guess the biggest ones have been:

First tooth – 4 1/2 months

First smile – 6 weeks

First time Aria rolled over – 3 months

First giggle – 4 months

First taste of solids – 5 months

First word (okay…babble that sounds like a word!) – Dadda

First time Aria sat up – 6 months. This was a funny one as a few times I’d gone upstairs to find Aria sitting up in her cot, and no idea of how she’d done it! I was so eager to catch her doing it I had my camera handy when she was playing, just to see if I could catch it on film. And finally last week, I did!

The past 6 months have been a total whirlwind and having a baby has turned our world upside down. I’m not going to lie, at times, it hasn’t been easy and there have been tears, frustration and tantrums…and that’s just Aria!

When you’re pregnant it feels like you’re waiting forever for your baby to arrive, and after all the planning, excitement and anticipation I don’t think anything prepares you for the complete life change. But, 6 months later, we’re settled into a routine and things are more manageable in some ways, harder in others and there are still surprises. Just when you think you’ve got things cracked, another spanner is thrown into the works, but I guess that’s kind of part of the fun right?

You certainly change and grow as a person. You have to become less selfish and give all your attention to someone else, and while that’s incredibly hard to come to terms with at times, isn’t it amazing that you get to shape someone’s life and be called Mum? To witness a first tooth, a first smile, a first little giggle makes the hard times worth it. You just have to try to remember that when you’re awake at 2am!

Since Aria’s birth we’ve taken pictures pretty much every day. I love documenting her in photos and can’t wait to share them with her when she’s older. In the slideshow below are some of my favourites.

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This has been a really emotional post to write. Please share with me some of your baby’s milestones and favourite moments in the comments below, or via Twitter at @Em_L_Smith.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

First stage weaning

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It’s been so hard to find the time to blog lately, and while Aria is taking a nap I’m furiously typing before she wakes up!

Aria will be 6 months old on Sunday (6 month update post coming soon!) and we started the weaning journey three weeks ago. Although the official guidelines advise that you wait until your baby is 6 months old before you start weaning, I just trusted my instinct. Aria is such an inquisitive baby and she’d been trying to grab our food and had been watching us so intently when we were eating for a while, I just felt it was time.

We decided to follow the Annabel Karmel Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner book and, as I wanted to make everything for Aria from scratch (paranoid Mummy – I want to know exactly what’s in her food!), I also ordered the fantastic VonShef steamer and blender which I use to make all her purées. The great thing about this book is that it gives you a great insight into the first foods to try with your little one, as well as advising on the foods that your baby could potentially have an allergy to, and best of all you can follow a ready-made meal planner. I love this as I can plan all Aria’s food for the coming weeks, make them all on one day and freeze individual portions (these will last up to 8 weeks in the freezer) which I can get out the night before – anything that makes life easier!

To freeze, I use some individual portion pots which I purchased from JoJo Maman Bebe – they’re fantastic as they stack in trays in the freezer and just one pot is currently a great portion size for Aria.

Trying carrot for the first time

Trying carrot for the first time

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Lots of people start their baby on just baby rice, but I decided to start with mashed banana mixed with some of her milk to make it creamy. As with anything new, Aria was a little unsure at first – she looked as me as if to say “Mum, what the hell is this you’ve put in my mouth?!”, but after a few mouthfuls she couldn’t get enough! During the week we moved through the planner to carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash and pear. It was so exciting trying new flavours with her and watching her reactions! We’ve got to the stage now where she will try to take the spoon off you to feed herself – cue messy baby (and Mummy!).

We’re now giving Aria two meals a day, increasing this to three next week, and she’s taken to it so well. Sure, there are definitely things she isn’t so keen on (Sweet vegetable medley – parsnip, carrot and potato) but I’m amazed how well she’s adapted. I am a little nervous of giving her things like slices of toast later on, because of the choking risk, but I’m attending a baby first aid course on Saturday so maybe I’ll feel calmer after that!!

With regards to Aria’s milk, she is currently having four feeds a day – approximately 210ml per feed – most of which she finishes but often she’ll leave around 20-40ml at one to two feeds. I don’t know if this is a sign to cut down yet, but milk is still so important so I’m making up 210ml bottles.

Have you started weaning your baby yet? Did you decide to go down the purée route or try baby-led weaning?

Thanks for reading!

Em xx

Establishing a sleep routine

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Let’s face it, when you have a baby your former way of life goes out the window and you have to adjust pretty quickly. Establishing a routine may not be everyone’s cup of tea but personally, since having Aria, I find it a necessity! My husband may say I need to loosen up a bit and go with the flow, and he may be right, but in terms of establishing a good sleep routine I think you need to be pretty firm.

A few weeks ago I was tearing my hair out as Aria, who was sleeping between 6-8 hours at night, suddenly started waking again – and not just once! The tiredness was unbearable and it felt like a huge step backwards to her newborn days. Of course, nothing in this mummy life stays the same for long, and Aria had just reached the 4 month mark so I assumed that this was the dreaded sleep regression everyone had told me about!

In desperation I contact The Blissful Baby Expert, Lisa Clegg. I’d been following Lisa on Twitter and seen the many mums who had thanked her for helping them get their little ones into a good sleep routine, and thought there had to be light at the end of this seemingly long tunnel that was my exhaustion. I popped Lisa an email explaining my situation and she promptly replied with some advice on a new routine of set day naps and a timed comforting method. She explained the so called “sleep regression” was simply something that happened due to babies not being taught to settle themselves, and this was a huge gift you could give your little one.

My blissful baby

My blissful baby

I was apprehensive at first as timed comforting involved letting Aria cry at set intervals, before we could go in to reassure her, leaving longer intervals between each “comfort”. The first time we tried it I have to say was a nightmare. I felt so guilty letting her cry and wanted to cry myself! However, after talking to fellow mummy and blogger Liz, from Everything Is Rosy, I felt hopeful. Liz had tried this technique with her son and, like me, had felt the mummy guilt. BUT she had persevered and both my husband and I decided we would too.

Well, thank goodness we did! Aria has napped in the day (in her cot and not on her playmat, me, her bouncer etc.) and for the first time in four months I have a little time to myself, meaning I can actually write a blog post!

I understand this type of routine might not be for every parent but I have to say Aria seems so much happier AND she’s sleeping at night again (for now at least!). Watching for her sleepy signs – rubbing her eyes, becoming irritable – and placing her in her cot with Ewan the sheep and her bunny for company, has meant she is getting used to when it’s nap time. My husband and I actually get to have a little “us” time in the evenings now, and after watching Hannah Maggs’ latest vlog I am definitely going to suggest a “blackout” night once a week!

Happy Aria

Happy Aria

So, a huge thank you to Lisa – The Blissful Baby Expert for her time and advice. It’s greatly appreciated!

Have any of you also used this routine with successful results? Or have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

The parent guilt

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There are so many emotions you experience when you have a baby, but I think the biggest one is guilt.

There is so much pressure on new mums, with regards to how they choose to look after their babies, and everyone seems to want to share their so called advice and opinion.

This starts right after labour. It may sound silly, but I found when I was pregnant I was looking forward to Aria’s arrival so much, I didn’t really think about the reality of how much our lives would change once she was here.

A prime example of this is breast feeding. As Aria was a forceps delivery and had to be taken to special care when she was born, I didn’t get the chance to breast feed straight away. From the start Aria had trouble latching on (most likely due to her delivery and the fact she was uncomfortable) and the first three weeks were a real struggle. After one horrendous night of attempting to get her to feed for three hours, we finally decided to put her on the bottle. This was not an easy decision as I felt like I was failing her, and I would be judged – by family, health visitors and even strangers – for not sticking with it.

I now realise how ridiculous this was as, not only did it save my sanity as I knew how much Aria was having, she seemed much happier and more content.

For the first three weeks Aria had the best possible start and for us, putting her on the bottle made so much sense.

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Of course, breast feeding isn’t the only thing I’ve felt guilty about in the last three months. If Aria cries when we’re out, for some bizarre reason I feel guilty. This isn’t made any easier when complete strangers offer their opinion such as – “Is she hungry?” No, I am not starving my child!

If she’s asleep on me and I have to put her down to, god forbid, go to the loo, I feel guilty if she gets upset! If we’re out and we go ten minutes past her feed time, I feel guilty. If she cries in the night and I don’t wake, meaning my husband gets up to feed her, I feel guilty. The list is endless!

I now realise, this is probably going to continue for the next eighteen years (or more!) if I don’t give myself a break. And to be honest, as mums (and dads) that is what we all need to do to stay sane.

There isn’t a text book way to parent. You’re going to make mistakes. The important thing is to move on and not feel guilty, because even if you do put a nappy on backwards (in the early weeks!) your baby doesn’t care and won’t remember. As long as you give them your love, everything else will take care of itself.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

Birth story – welcome to the world Aria Lilley Smith

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Aria - one day old

Aria – one day old

Aria - 7 weeks old

Aria – 7 weeks old

It’s been seven weeks since I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Aria Lilley Smith, and I thought it was about time to share my birth story.

To be honest I don’t think I’ve felt ready to write about my birth experience in any great detail before now, and talking about it still makes me feel emotional.

When I was pregnant I loved reading other people’s birth stories and I had what I now realise was a naive idea in my head about what labour would be like. During our antenatal classes we’d heard the worst case scenarios regarding first time births, including assisted deliveries and babies in the ‘wrong’ position. I never thought that would be the way my labour would go – how wrong could I be!

We had planned to go to our closest birthing centre for a natural water birth, and I’d been practicing hypnobirthing in the weeks leading up to my due date. I hadn’t planned on having any pain relief except gas and air and imagined my daughter coming into the world without a problem.

I was due on the 3rd February and honestly thought I would go into labour early, but as the 3rd came and went the birthing centre where I’d planned to have my baby started to talk about induction dates. I was determined this wouldn’t happen as, firstly, it would mean going into hospital to have my baby rather than the birthing centre and, secondly, it was likely this would mean my labour would involve more intervention and pain.

My induction was booked for Saturday 15th February and up until then I was doing everything I could to encourage our little one – walks, curry, bouncing on my exercise ball…everything! Nothing seemed to be working but I was convinced she would come on her own, and so asked for my induction to be moved to the Monday 17th February – the last day I would be able to go up to within guidelines.

On Valentine’s Day at around 10pm I was laying on the sofa when my waters broke. I’d read this would most likely be a trickle and not a gush like you see in films, well mine was the latter! Not to be too graphic but it would not stop flowing. and my husband had to get towels to put underneath me as I stood in the living room unable to move!

We called the birthing centre who asked me a series of questions to confirm my waters had broken. They advised us to remain at home until my contractions started and this happened during the night. Gradually they became more and more intense as I bounced on my exercise ball, using my friend’s TENS machine, until I felt it was time to go to the birthing centre. We arrived there at about 10am and were eventually led to our own room with a birthing pool, as my contractions became more and more intense. At this point I was still only using the TENS machine but I could feel the contractions becoming more and more painful, particularly in my back. I just kept thinking over and over – “she’ll soon be here, it’ll soon be over.”

A few hours later I was examined and the midwife informed me I was only 3cm dilated. It felt like hours since my waters had broken and I couldn’t believe I was only 3cm dilated. The midwife also discovered Aria was back to back, which would explain why the contractions were so painful in my back and she advised that I move into the birthing pool to see if I could encourage her to turn.

It was such a relief to move into the warm water and at this point I gladly accepted gas and air. It did help but the pain was getting worse and was mostly in my lower back. I honestly never thought it would be so painful and I didn’t know how much longer I could go through it.

After what felt like hours, the midwife examined me again and confirmed Aria had not turned and I was no further dilated. Because of her position the contractions were not being effective. As it was now 6.30pm she advised I move to hospital, as they couldn’t keep me in the birthing centre for much longer.

By this point I felt almost delirious from the pain and couldn’t bear the thought of having to move to hospital, which was a 4o minute drive away. I kept asking if an ambulance could take me, as walking to the car felt like an impossibility! This wasn’t an option and so my poor husband had to help me into the back seat of the car and drive me to the hospital.

With me laying on the back seat moaning in pain, I can’t imagine what he must have been feeling as he drove us to the hospital. But he was amazing and managed to stay calm, letting me know how far away we were every so often to keep me going.

As soon as we arrived at the hospital all thoughts of a natural birth went out of my head and I wanted the drugs! Whatever the strongest drug was that they could offer me, I wanted it.

We were led into a room where I doubled over the bed whilst a midwife massaged my back. When people say you moo like a cow during labour, believe it!

I asked for an epidural and this was administered fairly quickly. I felt such a relief to be out of pain and just wanted the whole thing to be over as soon as possible.

I was then given oxytocin to make my contractions more effective and hours seemed to pass as various people came in to monitor me, and I was told by a doctor I would be examined every four hours. This felt like forever but seemed to go quite quickly. On the third occasion I was examined about 9 hours later, at about 3.30am Sunday morning, I was fully dilated. However Aria’s head still hadn’t moved down fully and I was told we would have to move into theatre as forceps would have to be used to deliver her. If this failed, my only option was a caesarean. The sudden rush was due to the fact my waters had broken hours ago. They also thought Aria was in distress as her heart rate had increased and her oxygen levels were dropping.

A caesarean was what I had been dreading and it felt so unfair after the hours of labour I’d been through, only to be told I may have to have one anyway. As the doctor brought in a form for me to sign I cried as I felt defeated, but knew it would have to happen if need be and all I wanted now was to have my baby here safely.

As my husband was led away to be changed into scrubs, I was taken into theatre. I can only imagine how he felt aswell, as this was not the experience we had expected at all.

Thankfully, after three pushes and the use of forceps Aria was delivered safely at 4.14am on Sunday 16th February. I was so thankful not to have had to have a caesarean, but as I waited for her to cry I was told they were worried she may have swallowed meconium and she was taken to special care.

Eight hours later she was brought to me on the ward and I was told she hadn’t swallowed meconium, thank goodness. As I looked at my girl I was just so thankful she was here and was healthy. Her birth wasn’t what I had expected at all and it just goes to show, no matter how much you want your labour to go a certain way, ultimately it’s out of your hands.

Although I had wanted to have Aria at the birthing centre, I’m so glad I went to hospital. It was closer to home and everyone there – from the midwives to the anesthetist – were absolutely amazing and so kind.

I think things like this also test your relationship to the limit, and I’m glad to say my husband was amazing. I couldn’t have got through it without him.

Welcome to the world Aria Lilley Smith.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx