Moments In Michael Hill

I was very lucky to be able to pick out some Michael Hill jewellery and what better place to show it off than Bali? I was having a real head band/head scarf moment and since I usually wear my hair down around my face, this was the perfect opportunity to showcase some ear bling! I have very sensitive skin when it comes to metals in my ears, I'm talking infections, pain and all sorts of nasty things; which means I stick to quality over quantity when it comes to earrings.  I, like many, have grown up with the Michael Hill brand. I remember some of the first pieces of "real" jewellery gifted to me were from Michael Hill, the gold/diamond heart pendant my friend all pitched in and gave me for my 16th and more recently the diamond studs Jay bought me for Christmas a few years ago, when he caught me admiring them at a store one day. So when Michael Hill (not THE actual MH, that would be pretty amazing though!) got in touch I was excited as it's a brand I genuinely like and have purchased over the years.

Having a hoop moment at La Laguna during "the golden hour"; lucky I had my BFF with me to take photos as Jay isn't very good at being an "insta husband". I haven't worn hoops in years, but have always loved them. Probably highly influenced by the amount of RnB and Hip Hop I listened to as teenager, all the babes would be wearing hoops in the music videos, I'm looking at you Ashanti, D-Child, Aaliyah and J-Lo. In Bali I was going for a little bit more of a gypsy look than RnB video hoe babe but I can't help it, wearing hoops makes me feel like singing Jenny from the Block!

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Jay likes to call me a magpie as I love all things shiny. You know what is really shiny? Diamonds! When I originally chose these earrings they were on sale for 50% off which meant more bang for buck!  I couldn't go past these dainty diamond cluster earrings, that I just knew would be something I kept in my jewellery box forever. It really hard to capture all the detail in them but you can see a close up of them here.

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Floating in a pool amongst the treetops, shooting beautiful earrings and wearing a turban felt very glamorous. I'm so lucky to be able to travel, have opportunities to own beautiful things, have amazing people in my life, be healthy, have a loving husband and two healthy children and I don't take any of the aspects of my life for granted. Sometimes I'm doing things like this, other times I'm sitting on the floor surrounded in mess and crying alongside the nuggets after a hard day, but even in moments like that I have to remember All the small beautiful and not so beautiful moments, stack up to one big memorable life!

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Bali Beauty Bag

We are taking a long overdue, baby free relaxing holiday to Bali for my 30th birthday, I am counting down the hours till I touch down in one of my favourite places in the world.  I leave today and like all things in my life recently, I have had little time to write this post/ any blogs so this is a little rushed job  from the airport lounge of what some of the key items in my Bali beauty bag  are.   P1000708

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Ultraceuticals travel pack - For the majority I use Dr Murad, Ultraceuticals and Environ on my skin. But who has space to take all your full-sized products when traveling abroad? Enter the Ultraceuticals x The Lust List travel sized collab. All the skin care basics I need and in handy travel sizes. Perfect!

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Estes Lauder Glow cream stick blush - anything i can put on with my fingers and is long wearing is perfect for holiday mode. This blush is a beautiful colour to give the right amount of pink to my hopefully soon to be sun tanned cheeks.

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Collection Highlighter - I have written about this highlighter before, it's currently my favourite product to use! Gives you perfect bronzed glow, which is the type of look you wan tot go for on a tropical holiday.

Ciaté London Double Lines - a two ended liner, one end a felt tip and the second your pencil. I wear liquid liners on my top lid and pencil on my bottom waterline. I love a product that I can chuck in my bag and know I have everything I need to create or touch up my eyeliner for the day.

Marc Jacobs eyeliner - I wear eyeliner everyday to give me the illusion of lashes and I don't want it running in the pool. This gives the right amount of black to my upper lids and is waterproof too!

MAC face and body - hands down my favourite foundation to wear in warmer weather and around water. Its water proof, very light, has a dewy finish and doesn't ever make you look like you have caked on the foundation - which we all know is a bad look at the beach or pool.

P1000702Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF 50 - This a first of its kind sunscreen that not only protects you from harmful UV rays, but blocks pollutants from entering your skin with an invisible anti-pollution skin shield. Since 80% of ageing concerns originate from the environment, this is a great step to take to help prevent the ageing process whilst protecting your skin from the sun.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Oil - the same famous 8 hour cream formula but in a multi use oil. You can use this on your skin, hair and face. Once again, products with multi uses are always in my travel bag and this is one of my favourites. My skin is always so hydrated after a mist of this.

Kai - The most beautiful frangipani body oil. I know it's a slight double up but I like to wear this instead of perfume as it has a heavenly scent and leaves my skin nourished after a day in the sun.

Murad C Toner - I use this toner morning and night and swell as balancing out the oil on y face it's also hydrating, so it's perfect to have in my carry on to combat the dry cabin air.

Coola Setting Spray - This product launched over summer and it has been a great addition to my summer beauty bag. It sets your makeup so its doesn't slide off your face int he heat but also has a SPF 30. No one wants to put creams unblock over their face if they have makeup on, so a SPF spray designed to go on your face is what I had been waiting for! Once again, one product with two uses is always appreciated!

Pure Fiji Dilo Rescue Gel - Rescue and help repair skin with this gel that is filled with skin replenishing Dilo and Aloe Vera. Great for sunburnt skin and for soothing insect bits and a list of other skin aliments. Fingers crossed I don;t need it but this travel sized bottle is always with me when away.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair - Miracles in a bottle, this bad boy is Estee Lauders number 1 selling serum to fight the signs of ageing and it's something I will be using more of now that i'm 5 days shy of the big 3-0. Always nice to feel like I'm helping combat any damage I am doing to my skin during the day whilst in the sun on holiday too!

Redken Diamond Oil - Since I wear wigs my scalp doesn't naturally nourish my hair with oils so I try to hydrate "my" hair where possible. I have been using Diamond Oil for a few years now and I love it. The full-sized product is really big and heavy as it's a glass bottle so this little travel sized bottle is awesome for the Bali beauty bag.

Charcoal Tablets - We have travelled to Bali quite a lot and the first two times I came I got the dreaded Bali Belly. Yuck! Someone told me to take charcoal tablets as apparently it acts like a filter and removes toxins from your body AND it helps reduce hangovers! Winning! Ever since taking the Charcoal we have never had another case of Bali Belly so we are sticking with it.

Tan Babe - My favourite organic tan! It drys super fast, is not sticky and smells like coconut. Before I get my real tan in Bali I applied this all over and it give you such a natural olive tan. No orange in sight!

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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!

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SPONSORED BY NZ POST

Twins...Lucky you!

"Double trouble" "You must be busy" "You have your hands full" are just some of the things strangers like to say when you are out and about with twins. It REALLY irks a lot of twin mums as they rightly feel they are blessed to have them. The thing is lots of mums of multiples see these comments as a really negative and insensitive thing to say to someone.  I'm ok with it, mostly because I usually think the person is well-meaning or making a bit of a joke, so I don't let it bother me. But over the past two years it is something I have heard almost daily while out and about. For the first time since they were born someone said something that made my heart sing.  I was at St Lukes with the boys doing a bit of shopping and realised I needed to grab a few things from the supermarket. I usually try to avoid the supermarket with the boy as they get bored sitting in the trolley and have a thing about wanting to throw everything I choose into the back of the trolley. But needs must so I headed to Countdown.  I was in the checkout line and the boys definitely weren't being angels. Hunter was tired and grumpy and Oscar was whining (I hate whinging) and was trying to touch everything within arms reach at the checkout. Seriously whats with all the lollies and brightly wrapped packages at trolley seat hight!? I just wanted to get them in the car and home before they went into meltdown mode.

It was my turn for checkout and the lady behind the counter looked at me, clocked my boys who were currently fighting ver who got to hold my wallet and gave me the biggest smile ever and said  "Oh wow, twins?" In my head I though oh here comes the "double trouble" but she just continued "aren't you so lucky". I was floored, I think I am lucky to have my precious boys but not in their two years has a stranger ever told me that or said something really positive about twins. I was blown away, it instantly made me smile and made my day.  It was such a nice reminder of how a small gesture or a few kind words can have such a great effect on someone and totally change their day or mood. I can't believe it took two whole years to experience a moment like this! She then continued to talk to the boys and told me multiple times "You're doing a great job mama". It seriously brings tears to my eyes now typing this. It was such a lovely thing to hear at the end of a long day. Because, and I think ALL parents can relate to this, you can't help but let that doubt occasionally creep in that maybe you aren't doing a great job, you could play more with them, read more, forget about the housework and focus on them! It's nice to be reminded that you are doing a great job, because sometimes us mums don't give ourselves enough credit. I wish I got her name so I could write to Countdown and tell them what an awesome employee they have, but it totally skipped my mind to get it. I will be on the lookout for her next time we visit!

So please, next time you see a mum of twins resist that urge to make the "double trouble" joke, not all of us are offended by it, but you could literally make someones day if you tell them how lucky they are! Because we are, twins are very special and we were lucky to be chosen to be their mamas #blessed ;)

All About That Park Life

When I was pregnant someone told me that I would need to "run my two boys like dogs" as they have so much energy. I thought it was a funny way to describe tiring your children out but now, two years on, I TOTALLY get it! If I could have my two on a leash and ride a bike while they ran next to me I would! The boys have so much energy so we spend a lot of time at parks, trying to do just what that person told me, run them out like dogs. However one problem, I try to choose parks in the middle of fields or far from roads as my two kids like to run in different directions.

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The Tough Reality of my Birth - Part Two

Last post we left off with me falling asleep while squeezing colostrum out of my boob, while Jay hovered over me sucking it up drop by drop into a syringe. Still one of my funniest memories of being in hospital, not that there were that many fun or funny moments to be honest. After that first night which went by as a huge haze, shout out to the morphine! I started to feeling a little better physically. I think the getting up to walk down to NICU actually helped with my healing from the C-Section. I didn't fell like I had to bend over like some other friends described post section. The only annoying thing was that I was still being sick and had to stay hooked up to a IV and have four different types of anti naus though an IV line to stay on top of the vomiting. The doctors all still said it would be me reacting to the pain medication but I wasn't buying it.

Apart from the vomiting I was getting stuck in to this mothering business. I didn't want anyone to realise that I wasn't feeling the love for my kids and think that I was a "bad mum" (crazy to think this I know) so I was going to be that mum who did the best job possible of looking after her kids in NICU.

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On the second day in the afternoon Hunter was finally starting to hold his temperature a little better and wasn't needing any more help with his breathing. Which meant I got to hold him for the first time since he was born over 24 hours ago! Exciting stuff for both Jay and I! I must admit that even though I didn't feel major love for these little guys yet I was amazed at them, that they were a little bit of Jay and I, I couldn't believe that I really grew them in my tummy all the while being so sick. All the doctors said their 2.2kg weights were amazing weights for their gestation and for how sick I had been and how much weight I personally had lost. They obviously were being super selfish and taking everything slightly nutritious in their diet from me, not that I'm complaining! Best it went to them, they needed it more than me. I really tried to put all those emotions of not feeling attached and being scared about not loving them to the back of my head and pretended everything was fine to everyone. Which meant that sometimes now looking back on it, I'm confused. I look at pictures and I'm smiling and look serene in some of them. I think I was going through motions of everything I was meant to do? Maybe I was feeling it, but just didn't realise it yet due to the hormones coursing through my body? I will never know.

First cuddles with Hunter was great, we got to do skin to skin. He was so small and fragile it was a bit scary, but I've been around a lot of newborns so wasn't that hesitant when it came to handling these tiny little babies. It's strange but when you are feeling doubtful about the connection you have with your babies, any praise on my "mothering" made me feel like I was doing this whole thing right. So it was really nice to hear the NICU nurses comment on how confident I was with handling them for a first time mother. They said mums of NICU babies are often very timid when moving them about due to their size and all the wires and monitoring equipment.

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A lot of NICU is still a blur due to painkillers but I do have one memory of coming down to feed them in the evening that ended with me in tears. They were so small but I was determined to breast feed them so even though they would be topped up by their NG tube (A tube that went up their nose and down into their stomach) or sometimes feed that way whilst breast-feeding at the same time too. I was a few minutes late to the set feeding time, god knows why, probably vomiting in the bathroom. Oscar was really fussing while I was latching him. The nurse was probably tired but she made me feel like absolute shit. She gave me a stern telling off about not being late to feeding as the babies would be too hungry that they wouldn't latch probably. I felt so guilty and was in tears about it, I don't think they realise the pressure you are already under being a new mum, to multiples, who are in NICU and you are still vomiting. Telling me off really didn't help the scenario! If he was that starving they should have called me down earlier rather than waiting till they were so upset. Other than that my experience with the nurses there was amazing, they were very supportive, and I knew the boys were in great hands. I will be forever grateful too them.

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We spent 4 days in NICU which was a blur of feeds, changing nappies, being sick and waiting for the boys to put some weight on and be able to hold their own body temperatures so they could move to an open cot and "graduate" NICU to PIN (Parent Infant Nursery).

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PIN is a nursery where you babies stay with around the clock nurses but you are to do all of their "cares" unlike NICU where the babies are mostly primarily looked after by the nurses and doctors. PIN is about teaching you how to care for your baby and any specific needs they have, like if they need to have oxygen etc. It's also about them putting on weight and learning to feed properly and to make sure there are no set backs in their progress. The boys entered PIN and I was really excited, I was really adamant from the get go that I wanted these boys home as soon as possible! So I got stuck into the parenting and wanted to prove to the nurses and doctors that we had this on lock down so they would let us take our babies home. I thought home would be the best place for me to grow all those lovely feelings I was desperate to feel. I knew that I loved them and wanted the best for them, but I still lacked that emotional connection where all I needed to do was look at them to fill my heart with joy. I wanted that! I felt it was unfair after all we had gone through and how much these babies were wanted that I didn't feel like that.

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PIN ended up being much tougher for me than NICU. The casual vomiting I had been doing while in NICU got so much worse. I would be changing a nappy and have to rush to the sink to be sick, I would wake up in the night and be sick all over myself as I couldn't get to a bucket/bathroom in time, it was awful. My poor room mates must have been grossed out! I was so upset that this awful sickness that had plagued my entire pregnancy was now still rearing its ugly head 5 days post birth! I struggled to keep it under control and the doctors were absolutely perplexed. They said they had never seen someone still continue to be this ill after birth. It was misery, I was already having a tough time bonding and now I was feeling just as ill as when I was pregnant. I had been so looking forward to the relief of this after birth as that is what everyone promised me. No such luck.

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Apart from constantly vomiting in basins and any sort of receptacle in the nursery, I was nailing mum life in PIN. Maybe nailing it a  bit too much. As I have mentioned, I'm a battler and when I put my mind to something I push myself even if I am feeling useless and that's what I did. I managed to find breast-feeding reasonably, dare I say it, easy. I'm lucky it came naturally to me. But I think I had a false confidence because even though the boys were putting on weight, I don't think they were having great feeds. I probably overlooked that and would always tick the "great feed" box you would fill out on the charts which we kept that noted everything we did with the babies, the nurses and doctors would refer to them to gauge the babies progress. I knew getting them out meant they had to be fed without the NG tube so either by breast or bottle, putting on weight, feeding well and generally thriving. The boys did all that, but I really think they were putting on weight as they were demanding feeds so so so often! The doctors didn't worry about that, they said it's normal for small babies with small tummies. Most kids come out of NICU and PIN on really good three hourly schedules because it's so structured. But I can tell you now the boys did not.

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We were tracking to get out pretty soon and I was very vocal about it saying we were ready/wanted to be out and the doctors/nurses believed me. Why wouldn't they? I was still an inpatient as I was still loosing weight myself and being so ill. Most mums are checked out of hospital between day 5-7 after a C-Section as they medically don't need to be looked after anymore. I can't imagine how hard it must be for those mums to be essentially told to go home without their babies. They would have to come into hospital "like a job" during the day and then leave them at night to be looked after by nurses. Because I was still in hospital I did all the boys night feeds rather than the nurses doing them via NG tube. That meant the boys learnt to feed quicker than other babies because I essentially gave them 12 hours of extra practice over the babies whose parents couldn't be there, to feed them over night. As great as it was not having to leave them at night it meant that they didn't get on that 3 hour schedule like the other babies.

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Over night the nurse does a rotation going clockwise around the babies, feeding them in order which roughly equated to 1 feed every 3 hours. There would only be one nurse on over night, so if one baby was fussing they couldn't get to them (unless something was seriously wrong obviously), but as soon as my two would fuss they would call straight away and I would be down there to feed them, as that's what I thought you were meant to do. They very quickly were on a two hourly feeding schedule 24/7 which was exhausting. Especially as while I was still feeding them one by one the whole thing would take 1.5 hours, so sometime I was only getting 30 minutes sleep before I was up again.  Thank god the lactation consultant taught me to tandem feed towards the end of our stay. The doctors all told me this much feeding was normal, as it is, but fuck it was hard. Gruelling. The lack of sleep, lack of personal space (two babies connected to my boob constantly!) really didn't help with me feeling great about my relationship with the boys. The boys also started to show signs of their reflux and were really hard to get wind from and settle. I remember being so zonked one night that I feed the boys and burped them as well as I could, put them in their cot in PIN, with them propped up so they slept at an angle (to help with the wind). I left Jay to settle them while I went to bed. The next time I woke up 2 hours had passed and he was coming to get me to feed them again. He had been trying to settle them for two hours and they had screamed and screamed. They topped them up with my pumped milk in the NG tube as they thought they were still hungry, but no, they were just crying for any myriad of reasons a baby does. There were quite a few times like that in hospital and they were big hints of what were to come over the next 6 months.

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We got to day 9 in hospital and the doctors thought the boys were doing well enough to go home, so we got to spend the night together for the first time as parents in a room with our babies. The Parents  Room is where all babies that are in NICU/PIN eventually stay in. Because by the time they are ready to be discharged the parents have usually been at home having full nights sleep etc etc and haven't had to look after their children on their own for 24 hours straight. They place you in this room which is next to PIN but has a tv in it, double bed, shower etc and you are essentially to play house for 48 hours. The nurses are there if you need them but you have to prove to them you can handle it and your baby can handle it. Your baby is weighed each morning and if they lose weight then they "fail" you and you have to stay until they start putting weight back on. They are trying to stop any babies being sent home too early and then not thriving, they don't want to see you come back to hospital. It's a good method and I'm sure really helpful for parents who are a bit scared of actually having their baby with them 24/7 without all the monitoring equipment.  Some children are in NICU/PIN for months and months so you can imagine how daunting that is when that ends. You would be so excited to finally have them with you but I bet it is scary not having the nurses to fall back on if need be.

Since I was still an inpatient the nurses kinda trusted me with this already as I had been doing 24/7 care the whole time. So they let me stay in the parents room for 24 hours instead of 48. If the boys woke up heavier than the day before we were free. I was still being sick but the doctors couldn't put it down to anything. The anti-naus was slowly helping so they said if we graduated PIN then I could go home too. I was determined to graduate PIN and pass The Parents Room stay with flying colours. I wanted out, I was sick of hospital and I wanted to be home with my kids where I knew  all the bonding would happen. There would be no more wires connected to the boys getting in my way, no more drips attached to my arm and we wouldn't be in a sterile environment anymore. Heaven!

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We passed and were sent home together on day 10, I was so happy to be out of there! I missed sleeping next to my husband and wanted to be in our home as a family. Plus it's much nicer being sick in your own toilet than a hospital one!

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Overall all my birth and the hospital stay after it was a bit of a nightmare. I was so overwhelmed with not feeling what I thought I was meant to feel. I think that I was grieving giving up that "normal" birth experience. I also think I was grieving not being able to give my all to one child, I had to spread myself and everything I had between them. When I first was pregnant before we knew they were twins I had daydreamed of lying on the couch with one baby on my chest, snuggling them and carrying them around with me all day. But with two it wasn't really going to be possible to do that.  The realities of twin life had started to hit in PIN and I was scared. They were reasonably unsettled babies and it scared me having to deal with two screaming babies.

I loved my children because they were min, they were half Jay and half me but I wasn't in love with them yet. That fact really scared me and was the start of a bout of post natal depression and anxiety. I think if I knew this was normal and I had spoken to people about it at the time, then I would have gotten help sooner and not started to fall down a black hole of feeling alone. That's the common theme I hear when I hear stories like mine, they wished they had spoken up. You can't get help or feel better without speaking up and asking for it. It took 2 months for me to finally crack and tell people how I was feeling and it was the best thing I did and helped me on my journey to being a happy confident mum who was full of LOVE for her children. That's what I will write about next, that first tough year with twins and dealing with, sorting through all the emotions I was dealing with. If you're reading this and you are in that place, please ask for help, talk to someone and know that it does happen. That bond grows, you will get there! It doesn't happen overnight but it does happen. Millimeter by millimeter you baby will fill up your heart till it's filled with the most amazing love for your baby.

What to read next?

Read setting into twin life here. 

Read Jays view of settling into twin life here

Dads View - Getting Anna up the duff

They say ‘There is always two sides to every story’, probably three, the third being the truth. This is my side. Us fellas are the simplest of creatures when boiled down to the simplest things. We are all the same. In order for us to survive and be happy ‘Feed us and fuck have sex with us’ in return we will do our best to provide you with everything, a roof over your head, a comfortable life, food in your belly and next to that food a baby. That is a pretty standard egocentric view of how things roll. In our relationship I did all those things……except the baby thing. For what ever reason, my swimmers (sperm) are terrible. Not ‘a little irregular’ or ‘a touch inactive’ I'm talking TERRIBLE! Like I said in the beginning, we are simple creatures with one role in ensuring the human race continues and when you are incapable of doing this it’s hard not to feel like you aren’t contributing to humanity,  you're a useless male, luggage.

Luckily for me Anna didn’t share those views, she is a lot more pragmatic with her life approach. She set about putting herself through the only option available to ensure we could have children, pushing needles through which various concoctions of hormones would send her body into overdrive and allow her eggs to be harvested like ripe grapes plucked from a vine. All of which made her sad, happy, sick and crazy…..real crazy. And all for me, us. For this I will forever be enamoured and in her debt. Which is why that is one of the millions of examples of why I coul sail past the ‘I don’t know if I like you anymore' crazy moments fertility drugs brought on because it wasn't her, it's not her fault, we are here because of me.

Needless to say after all that she put herself through when the first embryo was placed back inside her, we cried with excitement. Only to cry again shortly after we found out the embryo didn’t take and we were back to square one. It’s a roller coaster, one that once aboard you are unable to see the end, duration, path it takes or how scary it is. We saw this as the final roll of the dice, with everything bet on it. I know that this isn’t the case, people will say that there are countless options, surrogates, adoptions, ‘a friend of mine tried this’, ‘just relax and it will happen’, ‘when the time is right it will happen’ the list goes on, and I say this with love, SHUT THE FUCK UP. People are amazing and innately offer positivity and solutions, all road maps to similar trips that have been taken but completely different journeys, similar, but not ours.

After we mentally built ourselves back up enough to attempt the transplant for the second time we had talked ourselves into setting low expectations for success, you can’t be disappointed if you don’t have high hopes. How is that for a defeatist mentality?! Deep down both of us had everything thing we could possibly cross, crossed, hoping that this would work. And it did. I can remember the home and garden magazine I thumbed through in the reception, I remeber the doctors suite in the corner of the building looking out over Ellerslie racecourse, I remember Anna’s face and how she seemed to hold her breath while the scan was taking place, I rember the flicking light on the screen indicating a viable heart beat and I remember how time stood still when the doctor said ‘Oh……we need to have a conversation about their being two of them….you are having twins.’ I also remember jumping up and down, clapping my hands and making a weird squealing noise whilst Anna grabbed the wall to stop her from falling, even though she was horizontal on a bed. I always for what ever reason had wanted twins and as always the universe was delivering.

We had done it!!! We were finally going to be parents, job done. That’s what I thought anyway.

Through out the pregnancy Anna was incredibly sick, even with the blood volume in her body doubling and two humans growing inside of her, she was losing weight. She battled hard in the beginning, going to work and trying to work. It is amazing how much the human body can endure, Anna would try her best to eat and drink but no matter what we tried, nothing would stay inside. I was worried that not only she wasn’t getting what her body needed to sustain itself but that the boys were also going without. Trips to hospital to plunge knitting sized needles into evasive veins so that IV lines could top up the fluid levels that Anna couldn’t maintain on her own were a regular, the intercostal muscles between her ribs stretched and contorted to make space for the every growing little humans she was nurturing, but causing her immense pain at the same tme. Massages, heat packs, cold packs, osteo, chiro, acupuncture, you name it, we tried it, nothing worked. Every morning I would wake up wishing I could, but knowing I couldn’t do a single thing to help, no chance of pain minimization, to stop her being sick.. just a hope that it won’t be as bad as the day before. It took every ounce of Anna’s strength to get through each day, no food, no water, the only thing that kept her full was the love growing inside of her. Love was the only thing that kept all three of them going.

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I have to admit that I wasn’t the most supportive partner, I thought for whatever reason all the fun things I did, we did, were coming to a close and I did what every egocentric vapid individual does. I partied, a lot. I convinced myself that going out and drinking as much as I could, would capture some of the partying I would soon be missing. I don’t think I achieved that. What I did do was leave Anna by herself when she needed me most, as we were heading into the biggest moment in our lives, Anna was alone and I was drunk.

I'm not sure at what point things changed, if something was said, if I did something that pushed her past the point of putting up with it, but it did. Things changed. You quickly realize that if you are going to become great parents, you first need to be a great team, a great couple. We had open honest discussions about what we needed, expected and wanted to be the best we could be for each other.

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As we got closer to the due date, anticipation built. A couple of ‘episodes’ had us pretty nervous, at around the 30 week mark we rushed into hospital thinking that the boys were about to arrive, less than ideal. When it comes to twins, everything in the pregnancy is stacked against you, things can go wrong and often do, we were glad we had an amazing OB by our side at times like this. Steroid injections were administered to build the boys lungs up in the event they did turn up early and we were told to be ready. I was travelling away for work to the 7’s in Wellington the next day, my boss ‘Bosto’ at ZM was super cool and gave me the option of staying home but Anna insisted I go.

It was going to take a village to raise these boys and luckily for us we had what felt like a whole country behind us, family, friends, collegues, strangers, everyone was offering assistance. It was incredibly heartening to know we had that kind of support, we didn’t take it for granted and we made sure we took people up on their offers. I don’t know how we would’ve done it without them.

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It was early march and I had managed to surf quite a lot over summer, sneaking in waves whenever I could, everything was looking good for the following day at Piha so the plan was to be at the beach at 6am before the seabreeze ruffled the water. That night however I enjoyed a few cold yeasts with the lads to watch the rugby and hit the snooze button when my alarm went off at 5am opting for a sleep in. At 6:30 Anna woke me up thinking she had wet the bed, this was a sign of things to come, the boys were up and wanting to meet us six weeks early...

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Pregnant With The Nuggets

I have been putting off writing this blog. To be completely honest my pregnancy wasn't much fun at all, in fact I kind of hated it. I was really sick so writing this feels like re living it and it's something I try to forget. But here goes, as I know you would like to read about it. So I will put your needs before mine. Don't say I'm not good to you. Here goes it....

Read More

Get it right, get it tight. The experts advice on closing that "gap" after babies.

You fall pregnant, GREAT, you deliver a healthy little baby (or babies), even BETTER! But once you start to "get back to normal" something isn't quite right...you have that dreaded muscle separation in your abdomen, NOT great! I had a 3 finger "gap", as I like to call it, after the birth of the Nuggets and over a 6 month period managed to pretty much close it entirely. I worked with an amazing Physio and PT to do this as I wasn't quite game to tackle it myself. I know not everyone has the luxury to be able to do the same thing; so I spoke with both of them and they have put together some exercises you can do at home or in the gym to start closing that gap.  Part one: Everything you want to know and more on muscle separation and some home friendly exercises.

Stacy from re:ab is my amazing physio and pilates instructor, she specialises in women's health. So this is her jam, she is an absolute expert and incredibly passionate about this topic. So I thought it best she explain all this stuff as I would have no idea what I was talking about.

I asked her to put together a few exercises that you can do at home to start conditioning your abdominal muscles in a very gentle way. Stacy is all about slow and steady. Some of these moves aren't exactly targeting your abdomen, but they are all important in the wider approach to healing.

So from the expert herself; Stacy Law 

DRA – The what, why, how – and the solution.

Diastasis Recti (DRA) often occurs during pregnancy, particularly in the 3rd trimester – but it can also occur through inappropriate abdominal activation over time.

DRA is a separation of the two sides of your Rectus Abdominus muscle or your “6 pack” muscle. The two sides are joined together by a length of connective tissue called the Linea Alba. Due to the force put on the abdominals by a growing baby and pregnancy hormones that work to soften connective tissue, the Linea Alba can weaken and stretch apart or widen. If the Linea Alba has had too much stress placed on it, it will struggle to generate tension – and that’s where we run in to problems.

For a lot of women this gap will close naturally in the first few weeks post birth, as the uterus shrinks back to normal size and swelling subsides. But for some it is more problematic, and they will require a targeted programme to heal their DRA. It’s important that you address your DRA, as it can be linked to a number of other problems - back and hip pain, pelvic floor problems, hernia and that unwanted abdominal pouch!

We assess DRA by looking at the length, depth and width of the separation, but also, and most importantly, your ability to generate tension across that gap. Women often get really focused on the width – and while that is important to know, and keep an eye on, it’s also good to remember that it may not close completely. The way you are activating your core is the key and you can be fully functional with a small and well controlled DRA.

A little disclaimer before we go through some exercises . . .

Correct Activation

 The most important thing with DRA, is making sure you can activate the core correctly and that you aren’t bulging out or doming up the two side of your abdominals.

This starts with the knowledge that by “core” we don’t just mean your abdominals. You have 4 main core stability muscles – and all are significantly effected by pregnancy. It can help to think of the core like a cylinder inside your abdominal cavity, with your Diaphragm (your main breathing muscle) at the top, abdominals at the front, pelvic floor on the bottom and your deep spinal extensors (Multifidus) at the back. A balanced and coordinated action of all the muscles that support your centre is required for good control. One of the hardest things to get back post pregnancy is that connection between them, so make sure that you spend some time focusing on it.

What we do know is that many women don’t activate their core correctly – they often end up bracing their abs and bearing down on the pelvic floor. This increases your intraabdominal pressure and the weakened structures will struggle to work against that.   I hate saying it, as we are all about getting women back in to exercise - but doing your core exercises incorrectly can in some cases end up being worse than doing nothing at all!

The Exercises

 These are some entry level exercises. They are designed to help you reconnect with your core and start you out on the road back to full strength and function.

ACTIVATION (Pelvic Floor and Lower Abs)

  • Lie on your back or side with your knees bent, hands on hips, fingertips just inside your hipbones. You should be in a neutral spine*
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, feel the breath expand in to your ribcage and belly
  • As you breathe out, gently draw up your pelvic floor muscles and engage lower abdominals – there are a few ways to think about this, find the one that works best for you.

Imagine:

  • Your pelvic floor is a silk hankie that you are drawing up gently inside you,
  • Feel that you are trying to lift a tampon up inside to stop it from falling out
  • Feel that you’re zipping up a tight pair of jeans and then doing up the button

 Hold for 2 - 3 seconds and then let it relax. It’s just as important to be able to feel the relax as it is the contraction. Rest between contractions for 5 – 10 seconds.

  • Goal is to be able to hold that gentle contraction for 10 x 10 second holds – build up to that slowly.

TECHNIQUE TIP – if you press quite hard inside your hips bones, then as your lift your pelvic floor you should be able to feel some tension being created under your fingertips. This is your lower abdominals activating. When activating your Pelvic Floor muscles, it’s important to think of a lift, rather than a squeeze to ensure that you aren’t bearing down.

Also – keep your bum muscles and your upper body nice and relaxed as you activate.

*Neutral Spine (Neutral Zone) is the point where load is transferred evenly through all of your vertebrae. One of the easiest ways to think about it when you’re lying on your back is that your pubic bone and your hip bones should be level. Basically your lower back should not be too arched, nor should it be flattened in to the ground – find the sweet spot in the middle!

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BENT KNEE FALL OUT:

Start in your neutral spine* position with your hands just inside your hip bones. Inhale to start. As you exhale, draw up your pelvic floor, engage lower abdominals and gently drop one knee out to the side. Only go as far as you can whilst keeping control of the position of your hips (see photo below of how not to do it). Inhale as you return the knee to centre and repeat with other leg.

Repeat 3 x 10 each side

 

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SINGLE LEG SLIDE:

 Lie on your back in your neutral spine* position, foot on a small ball if you have one. Inhale to start, as you exhale gently draw up your pelvic floor, engage your abs and slide one leg out straight. Make sure that your back stays still as your leg slides away – and that you keep the distance between your ribs and hips the same. Inhale as you draw your leg back in.

Repeat 3 x 10 each side

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PELVIC CURL/BRIDGE:

 

Lie on your back with your knees bent. As you exhale, draw up through pelvic floor and abdominals, engage your glutes and peel your spine up off the ground. Inhale at the top and as you exhale, roll back down to the floor – softening through your ribcage and imagine lengthening your spine as you put it back on the ground.

Repeat 3 x 8 – 10 (maintaining form)

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TECHNIQUE TIP – when you are up in the bridge you should imagine a straight diagonal line between your ribs and your hips, rather than arcing up like a rainbow. When you’re in the correct position it should be easy to lift the pelvic floor and engage abs, as gravity gives you a bit of a helping hand! If you feel this exercise more in your back than in your abs and glutes, you know that you aren’t quite nailing the technique, stop and try again later or ask for help if necessary!

 

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Book Openings:

Lie on your side with your knees bent, both hands behind your head. Exhale as you open your elbow up towards the ceiling and then out to the opposite wall. Make sure that your hips stay facing forward and that you keep supporting your head with your hands. Repeat 3 – 4 on each side

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Hip Flexor Stretch:

Kneel with your L foot forward – make sure that your hips are square. Concentrate on gently tucking your tailbone under and squeezing your R butt cheek to really feel the stretch in the front of the R hip. Take your R hand up towards the ceiling to further increase the stretch. Hold at least 30 seconds and repeat other side.

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Wall Stretch:

Lie with your legs up the wall (bum as close to the wall as you can get it). Let the legs and back relax as you hold this for at least 30 seconds. Cross your R heel over your L knee to get a stretch in your R butt cheek. To increase the stretch, slide your L heel down towards your butt (aiming to keep your back and bum on the floor). Hold at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.

NB: This a great place to practice some good breathing technique, multitasking mums will get this!

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 Main points to remember:

First Do No Harm:

If you have a DRA you really want to try and avoid making it any worse than it already is. Take care when getting up out of bed (roll to the side and push yourself up as you did during pregnancy). Think about activating your core when lifting, settling, feeding or bathing your baby. Take care with heavier lifting – shopping bags, capsule, buggy etc and with coughing/sneezing (activate your PFM and abs first!). Also be careful with traditional abdominal strengthening exercises – crunches, planks, double leg lifts and press ups. You may be able to work your way back to these things eventually but they are certainly not the place to start.

 Posture and Alignment are incredibly important in helping heal your DRA. Imagine your body like a hose, kinks in the hose cause pressure build ups, and eventually that has to go somewhere – we don’t want that to be out the front of your abdominal wall! Try and focus on your posture through out the day, especially if you are carrying kids!

Breathing technique is vital for your general health – but also has a direct link to spine and pelvic stability. Stop and take some time to practice some good deep breaths.

Deep core muscles - connecting with your pelvic floor and lower abdominals properly is the most important step. Once you have really mastered the technique you can move forward with appropriate strengthening. In fact, you can really do anything as long as you know you can maintain correct core activation throughout the activity. But you must make sure that you have it right – get it checked if you are concerned!

Know your limits – you aren’t doing yourself any favours by thrashing your body if the foundations aren’t there to support you. In the long run you will be doing more harm than good. Take it slow and steady – be patient and persevere. Trust that if you put the work in, you’ll be ready for Anna’s epic next level exercises before you know it.

 Summing it up . . .

 Our best advice is that if you are concerned about having a DRA, or how you are activating your core, book an assessment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist or personal trainer who is qualified and experienced in pre and postnatal conditions. They can check your DRA properly and then work with you to ensure that you are on the right track.

Find a women’s health physio here.

Or if you have any questions you can get in touch here or email info@leto.co.nz

Part Two: Exercises for you to do in the gym for you gym bunnies out there

Aaron is my PT from The Exercise Room and he has been amazing with helping me regain strength in my core. When I first came to him he worked really closely with Stacy over what I was allowed to do and not allowed. Some of the below are exercises we did all the time when I still had a large gap and some are more advanced that I "graduated" too  once I was stronger and my core was "reconnecting" like Stacy talked about above.

Swiss Ball Cable Rotation

Face cable tower. Position ball in front of stomach. Use outside hand to grab the rope cable attachment. Turn into start position with inside hand grabbing the cable. Plant feet shoulder width apart and focus on maintaining posture and core activation. Keep weight even in both legs, maintain posture, and suck stomach button in towards spine. Twist away from the cable tower and return. Keep movement slow and controlled. Repeat movement on both sides.

Repeat 3x 10-15 on each side

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Standing Cable Hold

Stand with inside shoulder next to cable tower. Use inside hand to grab the handle cable attachment. Bring both hands together and hold in front of your sternum. Plant feet shoulder width apart and focus on maintaining posture and core activation. Keep weight even (side to side, and forward and back), maintain posture and suck stomach button in. Push hands away from your sternum and aim for a point approx 40-50cm in front of you then return to sternum. Ensure that your hands travel straight and do not move side to side during this movement. Repeat movement on both sides.

Repeat 3x 10-15 on each side

 TECHNIQUE TIP – Add an isometric hold to end of the movement by holding your hands out and away from your body for 3 seconds.

Swiss Ball Half Crunch

Sit on Swiss ball. Roll down the ball by walking feet out and lying backwards. Make sure that glutes are resting on the edge of the ball and that lower back is supported. Cross hands over chest and lie back. Keep feet shoulder width apart for balance. Ensure that lower back and glutes are in contact with the ball. Initiate the movement by squeezing core tight. Use chest to lead movement and make sure neck is neutral. Roll up until your thoracic spine (middle portion) starts to leave the ball. Roll down.

Repeat 3x 10-12

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Swiss Ball Half Roll Out

Sit on your knees with Swiss ball in front. Lean forward and place elbows on ball – it is important that we create a box under our body between our legs and the ball. Suck stomach button in towards spine and make sure chest does not cave in. Keep weight even between legs and arms. Keep body still and engage core. Move arms forward and return back. Maintain control with body and try to avoid moving too side to side too much. If you can't control the movement then this is too advanced for your core.

Repeat 3x 10-12

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TECHNIQUE TIP – To ensure core activation, focus on building internal tightness through activation our deep core muscles (mentioned above) throughout the entire movement.

 

Bosu Ball

The use of the BOSU ball will create a need to maintain balance. When used effectively, balance training will allow you to lock in your core while activating key muscle groups.

Use a variety of movements, lasting approx. 20-30s each; Repeat in circuit form 3-4x.

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TRX

The TRX allows you to alter the demands placed on muscles during movement. It is a great tool to grow and develop strength, as you can add or remove loads depending on your level of strength. You can also alter your placement of hands or feet to add a balance component to movements – as shown in the photos.

Use a variety of movements, lasting approx. 20-40s each; Repeat in circuit form 3-4x.

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Outfit details:

Black Kmart singlet & Lululemon tights

New Balance singlet, Lululemon tights and New Balance Fresh Foam Zante sneakers

Sick Sick Sick

So I have spent the last two days in bed with a vomiting bug (NO I'm not pregnant)! Its's been pretty awful and I am just coming right today. So apologies for the lack of blog updates. I'm just trying to catch up on emails, posts and general work as well as a bit of DIY as we are prepping our house for sale. Eek! So promise me you will stay tuned as I haven't disapeared.

Yesterday I lost a Nugget!

SOOOOO yesterday I lost Hunter at the park. I'm a terrible parent right?! We went to our favourite park on the shore, Onepoto Domain, if you follow me on Snap Chat then you will see it often, it's a bike park and playground all rolled into one and is epic...except for when you lose one of your sons and a stranger finds him standing on the ROAD!

We met up with one of my fellow twin mum friends, Heather, and her two amazing twin girls who the Nuggets adore!

We go to this park all the time so I feel very comfortable there, the road that leads into it is only accessed by those going to the domain, so it's not super busy. The park is set back from the road and the car parks back onto it, so kids have to go past a row of cars to get onto the road. This is something all mums, but in particular mums of multiples think of, how far is the road if my twins split and run in different directions? We often look for gated playgrounds to take this risk out. As I said though, I felt pretty comfortable here and surely I could catch a Nugget sneaking to the road before he got there right?! Wrong!

I have written about this park before here. We were playing at that same slide but this time I was standing at the top. Usually I sit at the bottom so they come out, see me and then run up again. The whole playground goes back behind that slide, so If I'm at the bottom I can see most of the playground and I know they can only run back into bush area behind it. My friend and I were keeping an eye on our four toddlers who were wanting to play with different things on the playground, of course they do! Hunter was playing on the slide to my right and Oscar was walking across a wobbly bridge to my left when he fell off. He was crying so I picked him up and brought him back to the slide, I probably spoke a few words to my friend before thinking Hunter hadn't run back up to the top of the slide. Now I am not a helicopter parent, but even if I wanted to be you couldn't be with twins in a park unless you duct tape the little buggers together! I started to worry so went around the side of the playground as we often play around there, but he wasn't there. For some reason I didn't think he would have walked down the path to the road so I actually wasn't THAT worried. I seriously thought he would've snuck back up past me into playground so I checked again. He wasn't there and again I wasn't THAT worried as there is the bike track that he could have been on, so that's where I was checking next. This is why I felt terrible afterwards, why didn't I think about the road? WHY wasn't I THAT worried? I mean my 2-year-old child has been missing for a minute to two, we are in a busy park during school holidays, someone could have taken him or he could be on the road (duh Anna why didn't you think of that!).

As I was walking out to the bike path I see a nice young women walking towards the playground with Hunter in her arms. When I think about it now I am so relived, but at the time I was like "oh there you are!" She informed me she found him standing on the speed bump in the middle of the road! I mean seriously, what the hell! I felt like I needed to explain I have twins and I wasn't just a slack mum not keeping an eye on her one toddler at the park, as I felt a little bit judged that he had gotten out there.

Now I think, why didn't I think to go there first? Why wasn't I panicking and running around to check the places faster than walking? I need to get my head checked! I know this won't be the first time this has happened to a parent, but it's the lack of panicking thing that got my thinking and freaked me out a bit, maybe I am too relaxed as a parent?!

We can't win as mothers can we, there are always two sides to every emotion, thought, plan, routine, parenting style....it's endless. I was feeling bad for not panicking when I am usually quite proud of being a relaxed parent and going with the flow. I'm a mum of twin boys who are rough and tumble, I let them explore the world at a pace they feel confident with and yes sometimes they get hurt! I also don't have eyes in the back of my head, so I can't physically watch out for them 24/7 and I don't think I need too. Kids learn from mistakes.  Not having eyes in the back of my head has led to Oscar receiving a massive cut to his head when he pulled a chair onto his face (his scar is how some people tell them apart) and Hunter breaking his nose riding his trike off the steps of our deck! Bad stuff happens, you have to take it all in your stride..otherwise I think I would be a wreck with the endless 'what if' possibilities. I know this isn't one of those if they fall down let them get back up scenarios, he could have been hit by a car, it is horrifying to think about. But should a hopefully once off, really make me call into question my whole parenting style?

Have any of you had any moments that lead to a crisis of confidence in your parenting?

 

 

 

Reeve Nuggets X Little Flock Of Horrors

One of our favourite merino companies is Little Flock of Horrors, they make great quality and super cool merino for little and not so little kids. The nuggets wore so much of it last winter that we both decided that we needed to make a collab happen and this was our creation. If you have followed me on Instagram for a while then you would have heard about this before; we took pre orders for people to get their Nugg collection before it hit stores this winter. Well if you missed out then today is your lucky day, it's now available again at Little Flock Of Horrors as well as in kids stores around the country. I'm a massive fan of monotone colours so of course the whole collection is black and grey! They may also have been our colours of choice since the nuggets love to get messy whenever and wherever possible!

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Foundation Crayon -Say What?!

Foundation, contour and highlighter in a Crayon. Intrigued?  I was. I've heard about Clinique Chubby range over the last few years but I hadn't tried it yet.  It started with tinted lip balms, then blushes and eyeshadow and now a foundation and sculpt range. To say I was excited to try the latter two was an understatement!

I'm all about foundations that smooth your skin tone, are moisturising and look like no makeup, makeup. This Chubby Stick in the Nude Foundation Stick ticks all those boxes.

It's so easy to use, you basically draw the foundation across your face and blend it in with your fingers, sponge or brush. Use it all over or just for spot coverage. I like that it looks like you aren't wearing makeup, perfect for day time but you can build it up to a moderate coverage if needed. It definitely has staying power too, I have worn it the past week and it's still there after a day of chasing children around But if you like to touch up during the day then this is so portable, throw it in your handbag and you are good to go. And no, you don't need a giant sharper as it's a twist up!

Clients|Clinique

I think the free reign of where to apply it may scare people a little bit so here is how I apply it.

  1. Draw an upside down triangle from the top of your nose to a third of the way up your forehead. You can go further if you need more coverage but I usually wear a fringe so don't need a lot of foundation on my forehead.
  2. Draw 2-3 stripes across your cheeks
  3. Draw a line down the ridge of your nose
  4. Mirror the triangle on your forehead on your chin, the right way up this time around.
  5. Blend all the stripes with your fingers or brush in circular motions towards the outer area of your face. You can now add any more to areas that need a bit of help, like redness around the nose etc.

I tried to take a photo of the foundation laid out across my skin for you but the colour is such a good match that the camera wasn't picking it up!

If you are looking to add a little bit more to your look then the Chubby Sculpting Highlighter or Contour stick is just as easy to use. Draw the lines where you want to add depth or highlights and blend. The contour colour looks really dark and scary. When I first saw it I thought I was going to look like I had drawn mud across my face! But trust me, it blends so well, so don't be scared. You really have to build it to get a really dark contour, so it is pretty hard to get it wrong.

The whole Chubby family is all about natural subtle makeup, so you won't get that caked on contour look with these. I apply it under my check bones to get a little bit of depth and occasionally along my jaw line, you can also use it to shape your nose by applying it either side to the bridge of your nose. I like to use the  highlighter on the top of my cheek bones and on my brow bone. It picks up just the right amount of light so your skin looks like it is glowing.

Natural pretty makeup that enhances your beauty versus "covering it". Portable and very simple to use, that's what the Chubby Sticks are all about and they get a big thumbs up from me!

Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick comes in ten shades RRP:$49

Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour (Curvy Contour) RRP: $57

Chubby Stick Sculpting Highlight (Hefty Highlight) RRP: $57