PMS be gone and a pep in my step in the bedroom...wink wink. My experience with Abeeco.

I'm a bit excited about  Abeeco but I have to admit that I'd only recently heard about this company but had never actually tried their products.  So when they approached Jay and I to give them a go I was really curious...and I have to say the effect it has had on me the last 3 months is amazing!

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Fractured skulls, broken noses and plenty of bloody knees. What we have in our go to first aid kit.

Two very adventurous boys have led to many mishaps in the health and safety department. Let’s see…a fractured skull, broken nose and gash to the forehead have been the worst. But it’s not always massive injuries like that that keep this mum busy and the pharmacy in business. The number of cuts, scratches, scrapes and bruises this little family has had in our 4 years is incredible.

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Meals For Mum - Amazing Online Support Network

Today I was added to a closed Facebook group, nothing new to that right? What I found was an incredible group of women who are helping other mums in times of need. It was set up two weeks ago and now there are over 6,000 members and its growing fast.  The premise of it? To help mums all over the country in times of need with meals or baking. I know there are companies that do this, but sometimes its hard to arrange it quickly, cater to dietary requirements and have restrictions as to who are eligible.  This group is set up to help anyone in a time of need and it doesn't have to be for financial reasons only. Women have been asking for help and people are instantly coming to their aid. It's so heart warming to see this community of people really taking the time to help others, warm fuzzy feelings all around. Sometimes some home baking or a great home cooked meal is all it takes to make someones day, week or month! So check it out, join here and see if there is anyone in your neighbourhood that could do with a helping hand.

The ladies who created it were even on Breakfast this morning, you can check it out here. 

 

 

Weaning two boob loving boys

Weaning was something I was worried about but looking forward too all at the same time. After a few initial bumps in the road I found the process of breast-feeding reasonably easy, but didn't really enjoy like a lot of mums do. The boys were two hourly feeders for a long time and I felt like I constantly had them attached to me, for them then to go and puke all that milk back up - thanks reflux! I basically felt like I was on a roundabout of feeding that I couldn't get off. So after 6 months I was done with it, I wanted to get to a year but it just wasn't something that made me happy anymore.  I was told the easiest way to wean was to drop a feed every week/few days or day, whatever time frame worked with you. I started with the night-time feeds as those I already liked to share with Jay by pumping and us feeding them with bottles, it also one of the feeds that is "most comforting" to the boys, so would be the hardest to get them to give up if I left that till last. Over the course of their sixth month I dropped a feed once a week till eventually I was just feeding them in the morning. The morning feeds lasted for a few weeks then one day they just weren't interested in the boob anymore and that's it, off they went on their happy way to their new relationship with the bottle...and OH MY is it a deep and loving relationship!

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I have to say it was a relief when it was done and it wasn't a battle, I had had enough battles with Collic and Reflux! So nice to have some personal space back and not two wriggly babies grappling for my boobs!

The boys are 2.5 now and for the last 2 years those Nuggets have LOVED their bottles. More than they loved my boobs, which was another huge love at that! Bot Bot's as they are commonly referred to in our household have been a life saver in so many situations.

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From 6 months till a year the boys drank Heinz Nuture formula, but as you know it's expensive so as soon as they hit 1 I moved them onto cows milk. We were lucky again the boys loved cows milk and were happy to ditch the formula right away. We started the boys on Silver Top Anchor milk as it is partially non-homogenised, which means it's closer to it's original form and full of fat, great for growing boys! Farmer backgrounds on Jay's side of the family were very happy with this decesion as it wasn't something that had occured to me utnill they mentioned it.

 

 

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At about a year and a half I toyed with the idea of dropping bottles all together, all the articles I read said it would be easiest to do it at this stage rather than waiting and that they didn't need them anymore. BUT I was far too scared to do it, the bottle was such a source of comfort for them. If they woke in the night and I couldn't settle them (which was very often) the bottle would calm them right down and off they would go back to sleep. Who wants to give that up? Not this twin mama, sleep and calming tools are so important to me! Looking back now we probably should have done it, as the boys are still obsessed with their bottles and there is no way we will be getting rid of them anytime soon.Which makes me feel guilty like I didn't make the right decesion and I should have gone through the hard yards then, as now it will be MUCH harder as they can talk and demand a Bot Bot.  The boys go through on average between 9-11 litres of milk a week! We have a second fridge in the garage that is devoted to holding all their milk. We moved to Anchor Blue when they hit 2 as they decided they liked to have their milk cold (fussy little men) if they had it during the day. The fatty cream in the Silver Top meant that it wouldn't flow through they bottles if it wasn't warm.

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Bottles is one of those crutches they have now that I flip-flop between feeling bad about or not caring. I mean it's a great way for them to get a big dose of calcium, when they are whiny and having an off day I can give them a bottle and get 10 minutes of peace (great for my sanity), it settles them in the night if they are having a bad sleep and well, we never had dummies so it's not like they have lots of other crutches we have to get rid of. But at the same time I stress about it thinking are they too old to be having bottles, is it bad for their teeth,  the added cost to our weekly shops, cleaning all the bloody bottles, is it just a habit and could it get worse? I just generally have the typical mum guilt thinking the main reasons I want to keep the bottles is because it makes MY life better. Funny the internal battles we have right?  Doesn't make it any easier when you get the "oh they are still having bottles!" comments!

So for now the bot bots stay, screw what people think as they do make my life easier and the boys love them. Can't be that bad right?  Have you had bottle loving kids and how did you get them off them? Weaning from bottles is going to be way harder than it was weaning from the boobs!

Boobs, Boobs, Boobs

I have had quite a few requests for a blog on my experiences breast feeding and since I like to please, here it is. One thing we need to cover off before I get into the nitty gritty of breast feeding, is I have implants. Not a secret, it's been written about in magazines before, talked about on TV in a really embarrassing reality tv show I did when I was in my early 20's, but I haven't talked about it recently. Since the Nuggets have arrived I have a new group of followers/readers and you probably weren't aware. For the people who knew I had them, that's usually their first questions when we talk about breast feeding. How did you breast feed when you have implants? It's one of the biggest misconceptions about implants out there, that it means you won't be able to breast feed. My doctor assured me then, as I always knew I would want to breast feed, that unless I wasn't naturally able to breast feed myself, then the placement of my implants would not affect that. It's funny how so many people instantly think it's a write off, even my OB was worried I wouldn't be able to feed.

Anyway I digress...when I first was pregnant I knew I would want to feed and was aiming for a year. When we found out we were having twins I still wanted to feed but knew it would be a tougher journey.

Fast forward 34 weeks and the nuggets made their early entry into the world. After my emergency  c-section I was told to squeeze my boobs to collect the colostrum.I barely remember it, but Jay said he would hover over my boob with a syringe sucking it up and after every squeeze I would fall fast asleep. Apparently it was rather hilarious! The amount of colostrum I collected really impressed the nurses and was a good sign that I would be a milk making machine, which it turns out I was luckily.

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I was still vomiting for about 2.5 weeks after birth and was paranoid my lack of nutrients would affect my supply, but I'm really lucky that it didn't effect it too badly. My milk came in big time and I had beach balls as boobs, they were so full, pert and looked pretty epic if I do say so myself. Poor Jay was allowed no where near them though!

Since the boys were born so small, the first few days they would practice feeding on my breast whilst still being feed by and NG tube. The NG tube delivered my pumped milk directly to their stomach via a tube that went up their nose and into their tummy.

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The nurses were great in Nicu, except one who made me feel like shit for being a little late to feed one of the boys, he was really hungry and it was then difficult to latch him. I was so ill myself I found it really unfair that she was making me feel so bad and guilty about being late (reason being I was being sick in the toilet). Last thing a twin mama wants to feel is pressure and anxiety about doing everything wrong! The rest were great and really helpful with showing me how to latch them and support their tiny little bodies next to me and my giant knockers. One of the things I had to do was pop a finger on my breast and pull it slightly away from their noses, they were so small my full boobs would squish against their face and since they were so small it would cover their nostrils, so the pulling away would give them a clear airway making it easier to feed.

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Once you graduate Nicu you are sent to PIN, a ward where the babies are still supervised 24/7 by nurses but where you are meant to do all of their "cares", basically look after them like you would at home. Most babies are in there to learn how to feed properly, stabilise, put on weight and just be generally better and in a good place to be able to thrive once sent home with their parents.

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I really realised once we were in PIN that I was struggling to bond with my babies and I thought nailing breastfeeding and feeling like I was doing "something" right would help. I really stuck in to figuring the whole breastfeeding out, as I figured that maybe that was the key to bonding, as so many mothers said it does.  Their mouths were so small they didn't always latch correctly, I  was having to pump to keep extra feeds available to be feed via NG tube.  I did get some cracked nipples which wasn't fun at all. I noticed it first when I saw there was blood in my pumped milk and quickly realised it was coming from the space where my areola and my nipple meet. We have a lactation consultant who works in the NICU and PIN ward, I personally found her very helpful. She was straight in there giving me these new Manuka honey breast pads to help heel them and they were a godsend. I couldn't recommend them enough. The healing properties of the Manuka in the pads worked a treat, and within a couple of days they healed and I never got any more cracks or grazes after this. The lactation consultant told me that I was lucky as darker coloured nipples are tougher and I seriously had some dark chocolate afghans going on. Considering how little pain I got in terms of the boys sucking on them, the old wives tales may be true! Thanks to my great grandmas Indian blood for giving me some tough nipps!

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Check the silly pumping video my friend Sophie took when she visited me in hospital, she couldn't believe the set up and how it really was like milking a cow. 

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My milk supply was great, once those first cracks disappeared my nipples were holding up, but my god those let down pains were tough! I felt like I had needles running down my milk ducts for the first 5 or so minutes of feeding. Everyone told me feeding hurt because it hurt your nipples, no one told me my boobs would feel like they were being shredded on the inside! I'm not sure if you just get used to that pain or it goes away after you have been feeding for a few weeks, but that eventually wore off. I would just grin and bear it for the first 5 minutes until it would subside for the rest of the feed!

Sadly the whole bonding experience whilst feeding for the first few weeks didn't happen for me. I was forever trying to keep them awake on the boob, timing how long it was taking them to record on the sheets in PIN and generally falling asleep myself late at night waiting for them to finish their sometimes hour long feeds (that's two hours sitting up in a cold hospital feeding them one by one!), it was exhausting. Thats another thing no one says, they say breast feeding is handwork, but I thought that meant it was hard figuring it all out, not that it was physically exhausting to begin with. The thirst, all the extra water and food you need, the forever having something attached to your nipple, the pain of being hooked up to IV's myself and bending the joints they were placed in to feed, dealing with the boys wires and tubes and the cramp you would get from holding a baby in one place for an hour. Gah! It's funny as I originally thought I had a pretty easy experience breast feeding, as once I got it down it was pretty straight forward, but I really forgot about all of this stuff that happened at the beginning. That is  until I started typing and it came pouring out of me.

After realising I couldn't handle sitting up for two hours at a time feeding the boys one after each other, I knew I had to get the tandem feeding down. Late one night the lactation consultant had more free time to help me learn how to do it and set me up. God it was hard getting their tiny bodes in the right position and up close enough to my giant orbs, there was so may rolled pillows, muslin cloths etc going on but we did it.

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I had to hold their heads up and in the right angle towards my nipples because their heads weren't big enough to lay flat and let their mouth reach me. So sitting and feeding like this for an hour (they were slow feeders to start with due to their size) wasn't exactly comfortable either. The pillow had to wrap around my sides so their legs could lay that way, as they got longer and longer it was tough as I would need to sit so far forward in the pillow for them to be able to lie down. I was forever having to shove pillows down the back of the pillow for back support and to stop it pushing forward if I sat back. I have since found a great looking twin feeding/general feeding pillow online from the states that looks like it solves that problem. Wish I had seen it when i was feeding!

Tandem feeding wasn't easy to start with, so if you have twins and are reading this don't expect it to be something you will master quickly, especially setting it up by yourself. (If you do I bow down to you). The boys were small so it would take Jay passing them to me and me holding them in place to get them to feed correctly, in fact to tandem feed it took Jay being their to help me a good few months before I felt confident enough to do it on my own, not the latching part, but actually getting them up onto the pillow and settled. Jay was amazing and would wake at every night feed to help pass the boys to me and get them on, and then take them one by one when they were done to help me burp them. I should mention here that the boys feed 2 hourly 24/7 for about 16 weeks. Those little buggers didn't get into a great 3 hourly schedule like most NICU babies and demanded to be feed every two hours without fail. There was no stretching them out as they would get so historical that they would end up being too upset to latch and feed properly. It was bloody awful! So props to Jay for being their by my side 100% for all of the night feeds, I seriously have an amazing man.

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It took a visit from Dorothy Waide for me to put on my big girl panties and decide to give tandem feeding when I was alone a good crack. The boys were about 2 moths at this stage and she said I didn't need to treat them as carefully as I had when they were in Nicu. She recommend I set myself up on the couch with each of them on either side of me, pop one on and then pick the other one up with one hand and scoop them up onto the pillow. To burp them mid feed she said I should roll them off the pillow, I know, sounds WTF?! But it worked. I would kind of gently roll them off the pillow gently as possibly onto the couch and lay them on their tummy. Then you could pat their back till they did a big burp and pick them up by the back of their clothes (I know this sounds horrifying but it worked!) and lift them back onto the pillow to re latch. Imagine it being like a cat picking their baby up by the scruff of their neck. So that's how I managed tandem feeding alone while they still needed me to keep an arm under their head, so their mouth could reach my nipples. As they got older I would sit them in a boppy pillow either side of me and latch them one by one. They were bigger and heavier at this stage so I could reach for one and put them on, they no longer needed my hand for support so I could use both hands to get the second. Then eventually I could hold them both in a side by side football hold where they lay on top of each other.

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I'm lucky that after those first few weeks with the pain, exhaustion of the 2 hour feeds it started to click into place for me. I'm not so lucky that the whole breast feeding experience didn't help me bond with my kids, that was a slow burn, but oh boy do I love them with everything now. I have said before that I almost, dare I say it, found it easy to breastfeed once we were established. I think the main reason behind this was that the boys latched well, I didn't continue to get pain, I made a FUCK load of milk, I could pump off 500-600ml in 20mins with no problems and they were good and quick feeders once they got bigger. BUT, and it's a big BUT, they had collic and reflux, which meant they puked everything up constantly! So while I made a tonne of milk it was hard to keep up with the demands for feeds as they were starving all the time after projectile vomiting everywhere.

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I felt like they were constantly on my boob. If you know me you know I love my own 'bubble' I like my own space and me time and it was slowly driving me mental having not one but two things attached to my boob, then people like my mum hanging over my boobs watching them feed. What is it with that? I know people think it's cute and she was worrying they weren't feeding right but I'm like, back up mum, give me some space and keep your beady eyes off my boobs! (love you mum!).

I also wasn't keen on the feeding when we were in public. Don't freak, I'm not one of those people who think its gross to show your boobs whilst feeding in public, I feed them plenty of times out and about and I never covered them up. I don't care and if someone does they wouldn't walk away without a massive telling off from me. It was just the whole process took so long with two, I would have to do them one at a time. As much as I don't care about feeding in public, you can see above that tandem feeding is pretty much rolling fully topless and not discreet with my huge nipples and boobs. If we were out, which was rare, I wanted to eat my meal or whatever we were out for and not spend it sitting and feeding the whole time. So we would bottle feed either pumped milk if I had enough backed up or formula. That's something I'm not ashamed to admit, I am pro 'fed is best' and my children did mix fed during the 6 months that I breastfeed. So never feel bad if you do the same or purely formula feed. The mums who exclusively breastfeed, you are awesome and I am not trying to take away that achievement for you, but those that fed their child whatever way should be just as proud. It's not a competition after all!

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Now a lot of lactation consultants or people in general stress about nipple confusion with bottle teats in the early stages. I kinda ignored that advice and feed them a bottle once a day from about 3 weeks old. I always feed them this bottle at night, the last feed before bed as that was when my milk was at its least fatty and I was tired and exhausted. I liked having the help to feed them or having Jay and another friend who was over doing it so I could have time out. Which is much needed and deserved, so don't feel guilty if this is something you want to do also. The nipple confusion thing never happened and it meant the boys were used to a bottle, so if they were away from me then someone else could feed them. I had so many friends say they gave their bottle to their baby once, they took it so thought all was fine, by the time they needed to give one to them again they weren't having it. I'm no expert but I think a bottle a day or every few days definitely helps with that issue, in my humble opinion.

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I wanted to reach a year BF the boys but we got to 6 months when we went to LA to visit family and the weaning started, mum took them for a night so we could go stay at a hotel and have a lone time and they stopped being interested in the boob. To be honest I was done too. I was still having mental health issues and finding the transition to twin mum rather difficult and I just wanted a bit of "me" back. I was proud of what I had done, but I was tired of feeding only to watch it all be puked back up 2 minutes to 2 hours later so I started weaning.

I guess the point of all this is we all walk a different journey, and like Rebecca said at Takes A Village, breastfeeding is natural, as in we are made to do it, but it doesn't come naturally. Just as like I experienced with the help of a lactation consultant, it's a learned behaviour. We and our babies need to learn how to do it and it can be fucking hard. So don't be too hard on yourself ladies.

Weaning next up on the blog and why the boys still have their beloved bot bots.

Go the Fuck to Sleep Part Two

What the actual fuck is going on right now with the Nuggets sleep? Well I do kinda know, they are playing with the idea that they don't want to nap during the day, but they/we aren't ready! They refused one the other day and 1.5 hours later were fast asleep on the couch!  The reason why I only kinda know, is they haven't slept through the night in months! This was when they were still happily napping during the day. So I feel like there is somehow two separate issues going on right now? IMG_8295

It all started about 5 months ago, we used to pop the boys into bed and they would grizzle for a little bit and then off to la la land they would go. Look they weren't GREAT sleepers, hello 5-6am wake up times. But they consistently went to sleep easily and slept through, or if they did wake they would grizzle for a minute and then self settle easy peasy. Then it happened, one night they got out of bed, lay on their backs and start kicking the fucking door! As I have said any times before, man they can be tiny assholes! Now before you think it, why don't I persist and tell those tiny a holes not to kick the door. May I add it sounds like the door is about to break in, it is so fucking loud. You wouldn't believe it! Anyway we have done the persistence of moving them back to bed, telling off, being nice about it, ignoring it, giving them the grumpy voice. We did it all, they did not stop kicking that door in  as soon as we left the room! Every night after anywhere between 5-15 minutes they would finally give in and off they would go to bed. That's till they woke up again and it started all over again. It literally has been a nightmare. What could get worse you wonder? Moving house!

We went away to Bali for my birthday and moved the day we got back. The boys couldn't get out of their old room, as the door handles were too high but they are nice and low in the new house. I expected the first few days to be tough, new surrounding etc, but we are in week three and its been pretty horrific. They have spent so many nights in our bed, and being in our bed doesn't make them sleep better. They toss, turn and wake up constantly. Our presence does nothing to make them sleep better. Way to make us feel even more useless.

When we try to settle them in their room they have a sixth sense about when we leave, they can be out to it after an hour of settling and sneak out. two minutes later they are hysterical, screaming, the KICKING! They wake up just screaming these days and its heart breaking but also incredibly frustrating. I'm not a very nice person after midnight, I like my sleep and my patience level goes waaaay down. I have to grit my teeth and take deep breaths to calm down as they can be so trying. Basically I have gone from feeling like we had done pretty well at the sleep thing to being down in the mud being trampled over overnight by the nuggets. So I ask again, what the hell is going on? Is this a 2-year-old molar thing (they don't seem to be in pain and don't say anything hurts), is it a recession, is it night terrors, separation anxiety? Please tell me this has happened to other people and is there anyone who can help or specialises in toddlers sleep?

 

Go The Fuck To Sleep

Have you heard about that "storybook" Go The Fuck To Sleep? That's how I have felt all weekend about my children. Pretty much muttered it under my breath yelled it at almost all sleep times for the past 4 days. The boys are usually OK sleepers. Ok in the fact they can self settle (but don't always choose to do it) and generally sleep through the night (just not recently). But they aren't long nappers, never have been, and are early risers. The latter of which I am sadly not. Jays been away in Sydney for four days so I have been flying solo, and sure enough the boys can smell the fear and decide to act up. They have a really nasty habit (just plan naughty behaviour) of getting out of their beds in protest of going to bed, laying on their backs and KICKING their feet against the door and screaming really loudly...and I ignore them. You may think I'm mean ignoring their cry and obvious upset, but I swear they aren't, they just want to protest in the loudest, most aurally confronting way possible! The last few nights they have ramped this up a notch and really gone for it. It seriously sounds like the door is about to fall of its hinges. Yes I can hear you now, go in and tell them off, persist and they will stop, lay in there till they fall asleep....tried all that! My kids bizarrely don't do well with me in their room, they fuss even more and have scary spider sense. I can lay there for an hour and would bet anything they were asleep. I move in the slightest to leave and one will sit straight up and say Mama?! WTF, how did you hear me/why aren't you bloody asleep after an hour? GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP! I know they fall into a deep slumber in way less time when I'm not in their room, so why not when I'm there? Anyway, I disgress. This banging is so so loud and is really intense if you aren't used to it/havent hard the little buggers go for it. On Friday I was talking to my friend Rebecca on the phone after I put the boys to bed and they banged, banged and banged for 25 minutes before they gave up! She couldn't believe it. I think it just spurned us both on to talk about how our children had been horrors the last few days. I love my kids, but gosh they can run rings around you!

So settling to sleep has been a nightmare, nap times have been super short (and we all know nap time is the best time of the day when you are tired and flying solo!) and they have been waking REALLY early like pre 5am early, and wanting come into "mummys bed". It's like they know I am more of a pushover when Jays away, and in my head letying them in is a good idea! They will sleep better and we will all get nore sleep right? wrong! I  then spend a night awake being kicked, pushed and susshing babies to sleep as its suddenly more fun to stay awake and climb over me. Fail. Anyway the point of this blog is to vent, venting is good, so that honour falls on you. Thank you! Sadly there is not some magic answer at the end of this blog to stop my kids kicking in the door and sleep in till 7am. If you think you have one please feel free to share below!

Jays home in 1 hour, and he is on the drive show on Hauraki this week, so no breakfast slot 4am starts for him. Which means...you guessed it. This mama is getting a sleep in! Boom!

Night!

IVF - The Ins & Outs that aren't in the pamphlet

I had a follower snap me the other day asking about the "real" ins and outs of IVF. You can read all about the steps in all the pamphlets the doctors give you. But they can't tell you how you will feel, will you need care for your kids if you already have them, will you turn into a crazed psychopath on the hormones? That kind of information is harder to find. So I shared my experiences with her to help and thought that could be relevant to anyone else planning on going through IVF too. I know I wrote about my feelings and the emptional side of doing IVF  but this delves a little deeper into the actual process, so if you want to know what to expect from someone without a medical degree the you have found the right place!Please note that everyone reacts differently to drugs and hormones, so this is entirely my experience with them and yours could be the polar opposite. The daily  injections, this is I think a major fear for anyone starting fertility treatment, especially if you are afraid of them. I'm ok with needles but the thought of injecting myself really freaked me out. Jay of course offered to do it for me, but they need to be done at a certain time each day and didn't want to have to rely on him if he got stuck at work or something. So I sucked it up and injected myself, I worked myself up the first time and cried and cried but it actually didn't hurt. You grab some skin on your tummy between two fingers and inject into that fold of skin, it's such a small prick you won't really notice it. You do this everyday so to avoid getting sore by sound the same spot you kind of go in the shape of a 'smile' from one side of your tummy down and around to the other side. I definitely got some bruises and the places of injections can be a bit sore. The only ones I found to kind of hurt were the ones I had to take in the evening to stop ovulating for the last week or so (I'm so sorry but being over 3 years ago I can't remember their name and the finer details) but you had to mix the powder and water yourself to make the injection, a part I actually found fun pretending to be a doctor! These injections made the inception site feel kind of itchy and they would swell a bit more, but nothing major. So please don't worry too much, the injections were one of the easiest aspect of the whole thing.

Will these drugs make you a crazy person or gain weight? for me personally the later was true, I was the heaviest I have ever been when we did the removal of the eggs. However, I actually was super chill and "full of love" when I was taking the hormones. Which was the opposite to how I was when on Clomiphene aka a crazy lady who my husband really didn't like! I had heard horror stories online and in magazine articles of people feeling awful, sick, emotional un stable on ivy drugs but every actual person I know who has done it said they felt totally normal if not better than normal. So I can't promise you anything but I hope you don't end up being one of those people who said they literally could never face doing another round because of how ill they felt, that would suck! Anyway, our doctors told us I may feel really happy as the hormones can give you that lovey dovey feeling, and it did. Jay was very happy with a very loving and touchy feely wife! So yes there are bad sides, hey weight gain, but I found my mood was great. Once again, this is what happened with me, so no promises.

Blood work, more needles! Great! Every second day about a week after I started injecting I needed to get blood work taken so (I think) they could check my hormone levels and figure out when I would ovulate so they could time the harvest (that is a horrible word isn't it when thinking of your lady bits) of the eggs. This was the biggest pain for me as you had to go to a clinic to have this done, trying to fit this all in before work, when EVERYONE else has the same idea means some early starts! I imagine if you already have kids this will be the hard part since you an wrangle kids with a needle in your arm!

Scanning! So many bloody scans. Safe to say you get very used to having a probe up your vagina to scan your insides! Trust me, when they first pull this thing out it is a bit horrifying, especially if you have never had an internal scan before. You probably have had one to get to the stage of needing IVF, but nonetheless its quite confronting as it looks like a skinny dildo with a round ball on the top! It gets better, the doctor then places a condom on it and lube, I know it's for hygiene and to make things easier, but seriously it made me giggle/go bright red/clench my pelvic floor like I have never clenched it before. Even worse was the offering of shall he insert it or I!? I was DYING at this point, from a hilarity standpoint and embarrassment. I leave what option I chose up to your imagination...ok don't actually think about that, but we will leave some part of my life a mystery. Anyway off course there a little bit; the reason why they need to scan "from the inside" is they need to get a really good look at your ovaries to see how many Follicles you have. If you are like me you would have never heard of having Follicles in there, definitely didn't cover that in health class! We are born with hundreds of thousands of follicles in our ovaries and they basically hold an immature egg that matures and then is released into our uterus for fertilisation. The aim of the game with IVF is to get these suckers working in overdrive, so instead of only one follicle working it's magic like a usual cycle, they want you to grow as many follicles as possible. So during the scans this is what they are counting, to see how you are reacting to our hormones and to see how the follicles are coming along size wise. Basically, the bigger the follicle the more mature the egg, meaning it is ready to be harvested. To give you an idea when they are ready,  the follicles reach 16-20mm then they are what they consider "mature" and your egg collection date will be set. So this is where I think my discomfort came towards the end of the cycle. I had 25 follicles so I had about 25 2cm large follicles hanging out in my ovaries, that's a lot more room big taken up than on your usual cycle! So I felt very bloated and my abdomen was tender to touch. If you have kids then this will be another thing that will be tough as I know how toddler love to crawl, kick, stand on their mamas!

 

Once those follicles are nice and big you take a trigger injection which makes your body prepare to release them, your extraction os scheduled exactly 12 hours after you take that shot. This is when they go in and remove all the eggs with (don't read the next paragraph if you are freaking out about this bit as I'm about to describe the thing they use to take them out)

It's another internal ultrasounds dildo but with a giant needle attached to it!

Ok safe now so you are given some sort of local and some happy drugs so you are a bit out of it but not knocked out. I have senile found out from a friend who had as many eggs as me they usually knock you out as its obvious more painful the more eggs you have to retrieve, no idea why I didn't get that option but hey I survived. I barely remember it but Jay said he was trying not to freak out watching it all go down. I'm glad they let your partner sit in with you, as it definitely helped calm my nerves. The whole process was over in 30 minutes and afterwards you have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit for another 30 minutes to check you are all fine.

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You are told to take the rest of the day off work and that you will have cramping but they said most people can go to work the next day with pain relief. I woke up the next day and was quite sore, but that was to be expected with the amount of eggs we had taken out. I spent an extra day at home curled up on the couch with a hotter bottle but felt ok the next morning. If you are ding this with kids then I would try to organise some help or if you have family around maybe send them for a sleepover for a night or two.

 

Once they take the eggs that's when the baby making magic happens, not quite as romantic as in the bedroom but still so amazing. Wonders of modern medicine! We had to do ICSI, the step up from IVF. In IVF they pop the sperm in a dish with an egg and its a whose strongest wins scenario were one sperm fertilises the egg. In our case Jays swimmers can't even mange that, useless, so they choose the best looking sperm and injected them into all of the eggs.

The worst bit after this is waiting by the phone to hear how your eggs are doing. Even if they get a lot out not all of them are going to thrive. We ended up loosing 6 of this embryos as they just didn't develop like they should.

This is the time all that emotional stress comes, as you worry about the eggs and their development, then that ramps up even further during the transfer and the dreaded two-week wait till that pregnancy test!

The transfer is essentially a breeze in comparison. The hardest thing is you must have a full bladder, so you are lying on a table with your legs in the air desperately holding on why they place the fertilised embryo *well men was a 5 day fertilised egg so it's actually called a blastocyst) back in you! My doctor took 3 attempts to get it in there, he would insert the a catheter through your cervix and you would see little bubbles on the ultrasounds screen and that was the liquid holding the embryo entering your uterus. They check the catheter under a microscope to make sure the embryo left it, and mine bloody didn't. Three times in a row! He said he hadn't had that happen to him in 10 years!!!!! It had me worried but I as just desperate to get to the bathroom before I let go on in the examine room! I went and had acupuncture after the transfer as that's meant to help it "stick" and continue to develop in you. But other than instructions to not get really hot, as embryos don't like heat, so no intense physical activity, baths or spas you are told to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If thats lay on a couch and rest that fine, but if you want to get back to work or do what you usually do in your day-to-day life then that is fine too. Walking around and doing normal daily activities won't make the egg not implant into your uterine wall. So don;t worry, you don't have to lay with your legs in the air and seeing on bed pans like they did with IVF in the 80s!

So that's that, this was the post on the in's and out's on IVF in our case. I wrote about my journey and all the feelings that came with it here, but after so many requests thought it would be good to share the stuff you can't read in a brochure. I hope it helps!

 

Shopping For My Nuggets

Online "shop-a-holic"- a phrase often used by my husband in regards to my spending habits. I hate to admit it (I never do to him, I’m not crazy!) but I have to tell you, my lovely readers, the truth, I’m very much guilty. Now not to lay the blame on anyone…but my dad is a pilot who regularly flies to LA, meaning he has been my online shopping mule for stores that don’t deliver to NZ, but can be sent direct to his hotel reception. So basically, the ease of having access to those items I didn’t otherwise have, has spurred on my addiction. Dad, it’s all your fault!

The amount of clothing, nappies, homewares and bits and bobs he has brought home for me over the years has been epic. Since the arrival of the Nuggets it has been even handier. We have had hundreds of nappies, wipes, my beloved Baby Brezza formula machine and oh so many cute outfits! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New Zealand labels and supporting NZ owned businesses. Take one look at mine or the boys’ Instagram and you will see we/they are often dressed in clothing from NZ brands and a lot of them are small businesses run by stay-at home mamas. So don’t come at me for not supporting what we have here in NZ!

I often get asked where I get the boys clothing from and when it’s from brands overseas that don’t ship here, I am often met with disappointment. Which is exactly what I am facing come November; you see once you turn 65, pilots are no long allowed to fly into UK and USA airspace as a Captain! Which means, shock horror, my dad will be changing his plane so he no longer flies to the UK and US. I have been dreading this for years! #firstworldproblems

Lucky for me I have a backup plan…I had heard about YouShop from NZ Post but hadn’t checked it out or taken much notice of it since I had my own personal international courier. A recent gap in dads roster meant there was a good 2-months break between his trips to LA and I had some items waiting in my Zara cart that I wanted to push go on. Since I needed to figure out how I could still keep shopping from my favourite online stores who shun us Kiwis by not delivering here, this was the perfect time to trial YouShop.

I thought it would all be a bit complicated, but it wasn’t. YouShop sign up was super easy! You input all your details and it gives you your own “US address”. Easy as that! You use this address for your shipping address when you input your details during checkout. I bought a leather jacket for myself and two parkas for the boys. I had been looking for some cool army green parkas for a while but hadn’t had any luck here. So when I spied these I had to have them! They have a little badge on the arm and the interior has removable lining. So they are nice and warm for winter but as it gets warmer I can remove the lining so it is just a shell. Perfect!

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I knew this package was going to be a bit bulky with three jackets, so I was a bit wary of what the YouShop shipping costs were going to be. I tracked my Zara package and it showed it delivered fine to my “US address”, I then got an email a day later saying it had arrived at the warehouse and had been re packed to make posting more economical along with a link to pay for shipping; all up mine was $30, which included the repackaging fee. I think $30 was a fair price, especially since Zara shipping was free inside the US. Previously when I have shopped from international stores that ship to NZ the price is often around the $40-$50 mark, so $30 was a much better deal. I did note you can work out your shipping fee before you purchase something too, so if you have any heavier or larger items I recommend doing that before you buy it so you know what you are up for. After I had paid I got alerts from all the following stages; item has left warehouse, left US, landed in NZ, cleared customs and finally, item has been delivered! Shipping took 7 days from when I first got the alert it had arrived at the warehouse. So, while it’s not the fastest it isn’t too long to wait for your goodies.

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The boys are always super excited when parcels arrive; they know to go get a knife from the drawer to open them. A sign far too many parcels arrive at this house…that and the fact our couriers know us very well by now! The package had tape on it saying it had been repacked; they had kept all necessary things from the original packaging such as receipts and even a few flyers Zara had sent. The clothing was still in its plastic packaging and had been wrapped again with tissue paper. It was nice to see they had taken good care of the items, as I would have been disappointed if it had been just chucked in a box before being sent off again.

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My verdict, this is definitely going to be my go to once my private courier stops visiting LA. I will have to be more particular in what I am buying, as now I have to pay shipping costs too, but it’s definitely still worth it for those items you just can’t get here! It’s nice to have access to items that are a little bit different to what you can buy here.

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Now where do I shop? There are heaps of stores, but the one I visit the most for the boys and myself, is Zara. They have great on trend pieces, that are good quality and not too harsh on the wallet. Especially when our Kiwi dollar is strong against the greenback! I buy all of the boys footed PJs from Carters, they are made from such nice cotton, have non slip soles and footed PJs up to a size 7! If you have kids like mine that like to wriggle out from under their blankets, having footed PJs is always reassuring knowing they won’t be getting cold. But have you tried finding footed PJs in over a size 2? Mission! Bonds do a size 3 but I have never found any bigger than that! So thanks, Carters! A few other places to check out: GAP (this is where we got our cute yellow rain jackets the boys have been sporting on Instagram), Old Navy have great clothes at GREAT prices! I buy a lot from here in the opposite season in the boys next size up (American stores are always in opposite season to us), Ralph Lauren have epic sales which make the clothes surprisingly affordable - sounds weird but the best socks I have bought for the boys are their ankle socks from here, they stay on, was well and have non slip bottoms their t-shirts are also greta staples,  Target, Walmart, Nordstrom, Forever21, J Crew, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Foot Locker. A few of these companies do ship to NZ; Carters, Gap and Old Navy for example, but YouShop's shipping is actually cheaper than their international shipping. So I would go with them to save yourself a few extra bucks.

Try out YouShop before July 31st and use my discount code ANNA10 to receive 10% off your shippings costs.

Happy shopping everyone!

Dinkus 3

SPONSORED BY NZ POST