Starting a fresh

Last week I had the stark realisation that I’ve been feeding my body poison for the last 2 years, whilst I’ve been pregnant and in early motherhood. Sounds dramatic but wheat is poison for my body and it’s been doing it no good. After a close family member was diagnosed with a serious disease, I’ve decided it’s time to take back the reigns and not only give my body what it needs but what it deserves.

I’ve made the decision to go fully dairy free, gluten free and organic. Join the fun train guys…come aboard! I can see all my friends faces grimacing now as they realise I’ve become ever harder to cook for / go out to dinner with – fear not, I won’t make you meet my high demands guys. Please still invite me over 😉 I am to eat organic as much as I can but realise this may be 80% of the time.

I was then surprised how easily I convinced Burger-Loving-Ben (yes that’s his Christened name) to reduce our meat down to 2-3 times a week and also come aboard the organic train.

After a quick google, 10 minutes of meal planning for the week ahead and a tactical Ocado shop (not as expensive as you’d think), 70% of the food in our house became organic. We won’t be eating the variety of meals that we used to and as I mentioned, we’ll be cutting back on meat but we’ll be healthier and strangely I think better off financially after making these changes.

What has surprised me the most is how the value I place on food has significantly changed in just 1 day. This food is more special to me, it has to go further, so I won’t waste a drop. I’m embarrassed to say that this isn’t how I felt about food before.

So why the change? Well, it started with a strange conspiracy like meeting with Danielle (my business partner), who happened to be staying at a B&B owned by a bio-chemist named Julie who practice kinesiology and nutrition. She very quickly (and at no cost) explained how my eating habits were harming my long term and short term health and how a few quick changes could really help prevent severe symptoms of my various diseases later in life (how much later is unknown and I’m lucky to have limited symptoms as it is – just for context).

Organic food is the only way to ensure dangerous chemicals aren’t going into your system, being absorbed and doing damage to your body. It’s literally been proven that many crop sprays cause cancer. It’s really quite simple and obvious if you think about it, of course there are harmful chemicals all over the food we eat, it makes the producers more money to work in this way, produce higher yields and make food that lasts for longer.

So with nothing in it for Julie but passing on valuable knowledge and wanting the best for my health, I’m taking her advice and kick starting the (boring) route to better health. Bye Bye colitis symptoms (and incredible Italian food). Hello more energy, better skin and more importantly, hopefully, sustained long term health.

Dads

What a bloody privilege it is to be a dad.

So often that person that you look up to, that teaches you so many things and provides you with so much in life.

What must it be like to be a dad? I’ve tried to imagine it a few times in the last year. Something like this…going through a drastic transformation from a previous life. Working everyday, away from your family on little or no sleep. A world full of new worries; about your child, finances, your partner. Watching your partner change and getting to know the new ‘mum’ version of them. Learning your new job; changing nappies, how babies work, getting them to sleep, keeping them happy, teaching them.

My dad is one of my heroes. I give him a bloody hard time, but I idolise him and I think he’s the best dad that ever lived. Being a parent, I can now see how much my dad has sacrificed in his life, how much he’s given to us all, how many good and bad attributes I’ve gained from him and how much he cares – even though he doesn’t say it..!

Seeing Ben become a dad has been one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. People talk about natural parents, I mean I think everyone is a natural parent to their own kid. From that day when he woke up as a dad, he’s been amazing.

Funnily, he’s not the dad he thought he’d be.

He’s more uptight about some things, like sleep. He’s been a real stickler for Ziggy routine. Early on we learnt that when Zigs sticks to his routine, he sleeps much better at night. Bingo.

He’s been more relaxed about pretty much everything else and that really works well for us all.

I asked Ben what’s the best thing about being a dad: ‘The love you feel, the awesomeness of watching someone learn, experience, change, ever single day.’

The worst thing? ‘Lack of sleep’. We laughed because Ben says this after 9 hours solid sleep last night. Neither of us can cope with less sleep than we used to get an it’s a bit of a running joke of how pathetic we are about it. Ben clarified that really it’s the interrupted sleep and the not being able to get back to sleep for hearing phantom cries.

So here’s to dads! A much more complex and tiring role than I ever thought possible but wow, you guys are smashing it and you’re simply awesome!

Their first day together.

We made it

Tomorrow will mark 1 month since we left for Italy. What a whirlwind it’s been. We’ve had numerous adventures in this time including a quick stay in France, a trip to Sardinia and many weddings. It’s been one of the craziest (and let’s be honest – stressful) times of my life, but also one of the most incredible, character building (!) and rewarding.

My maternity leave for weddings ended when Ziggy was one month old. Until Ziggy was about 7 months old, I found managing this job and being a mum extremely hard. It’s not something I chose to talk about with anyone other than very close friends or family at the time, as I was just trying to cope. I felt trapped and really on edge, like I would never get through it, like the weddings was taking over my life and stopping me even from resting.

I had major mum guilt. Every time I worked, I felt bad about it. I was torn between working towards my dream and being the mum I thought I needed to be.

Everyone I spoke to was desperate to help me and find a way to take away some of my work so that I could get a second of ‘me time’ or a nap in the day. The truth is that every second I had spare, I would work. I had no choice – I am my product, I had commitments to my couples and I had a future that I was aiming for. My business was growing super quick and I was ill prepared for what it meant juggling all of this with a newborn. Every time Zigs would sleep, I would work. At night, I would work.

If anyone considers working soon after having a baby I cannot stress enough when I say that if you have the choice, DON’T DO IT.

When I was struggling, sleep deprived, desperately trying to be ‘the perfect mum’ and have some sort of life as well as working…I would focus on the summer, when I knew that Ben, Zigs and I would hopefully be in Italy. I’d think about how this hard period wouldn’t last forever and I would soon be delivering these beautiful weddings I was creating, with these lovely couples. I would hopefully see Zigs and Ben having the time of their lives; in the pool every day, eating copious amounts of pizza and gelato. Even more importantly, I’d have a long term way of life that meant that I can work part time and see more of my Zigs.

And now we’re here.

When we arrived in Italy, I had a big glass of prosecco and a big cry. We’d made it. I’d gotten through a really tough time in my life and here I was on the other side. I was still reasonably healthy, still had a husband (!) and friends (who’d stuck by me even though I’d been quite absent from their lives), oh, and everything ready to go for my weddings. I cannot tell you how many times I thought I couldn’t ‘do it all’ and I didn’t have time to get everything done for the weddings.

Most importantly, I have a very healthy and happy Ziggy. I am so sad for myself that I doubted my ability as a mum back in those early days. I was a brilliant mum to Ziggy. I gave him everything he needed and more, but at the time I just couldn’t see it.

I guess my blog today is about a few things; You can achieve things that you think you can’t do, that you never think you’ll have the time for. It’s about desperately protecting that belief in yourself and your goals. Having goals really does work. It’s about the fact that being a mum is hard – no new news here – hormones and who knows what else really do play havoc on anxiety and self belief, or at least that’s what I experienced. And it’s about your team. Those people close to you that do everything they can to help you stay sane and work towards your dreams. I have so much love for my team. You know who you are.

Even though I feel happy and strong in achieving this goal, I’ve realised in this last week that I’m still quite weak. I’ve been through a really hard experience with one of my couples and it’s really knocked my confidence and self belief. It shouldn’t have.

So here’s to another glass of prosecco and working on myself a little more, building back up to full strength and moving forward to my next goal.

More on actually living in Italy next time…

Zigs’ first time in the sea, in Sardinia.

Prancing around the pool.

Life on 26.04.18

Zigs is growing fast, like every child! At 10 months old, he’s now in 24 month clothes and seems to be close to crawling/walking. The waving, high five-ing etc. is a lot of fun and has made him appear to be more cute to strangers when we’re out and about. He particularly loves waving to dogs and trees.

My huge baby.

I’m a couple of days away from stopping breastfeeding. Over the last month I’ve removed my feeds and we’re down to 3 bottles of ‘nanny care’ formula a day. With his cow’s milk intolerance, we struggled to get him to drink the prescribed formula for a long time. This new milk based on goats milk, has been a game changer and Zigs guzzles this like Ben guzzles a beer.

It’s a bitter sweet time for me as, after I was over the first month of painful breastfeeding, I’ve loved it! I can’t believe that my milk was his only source of food for the first 5 months of his life and that he’s had it right up to 10 months. Admittedly this wasn’t out of choice and if he had taken a bottle sooner, I would have stopped a couple of months back. I’m actually really glad it’s worked out this was as each feed really is a special moment, that eye contact and those cuddles. It’s been so special to me.

When I stop breastfeeding, technically I’ll be able to eat dairy again as this won’t affect Zigs anymore. Being off dairy has helped my colitis no end and I’ll have to try to remain really strict with myself. Italian cheese and wedding cake are my biggest downfalls so….we’ll see how that one goes!

Summer came and went! Zigs got to wear his Italy clothes a little earlier than planned.

Zigs currently sleeps through the night. This was another game changing moment when we took away the night feeding about 1 month ago. A couple of nights were rough going but he soon learnt he wouldn’t be fed if he woke up and now he roles over and goes back to sleep. Thank you sleep gods. Please don’t change anything because I’ve written this.

Last week I made the really hard decision not to go back to my role at Princess Alice Hospice. Julia, my lovely manager was really open to a flexible working request that I put in but after some serious deliberation, I decided not to commit to going back. This means I can focus on Zigs & Ben, my health and really push forward with Wiskow & White which seems to be at a massive turning point. It’s an exciting time but I am sad that I will not be rejoining my epic team and taking the Hospice marketing forward. The Hospice is such a special place and it will always be a really significant part of my life having worked there, and for personal reasons.

In just 3 weeks time, Zig, Ben & I leave for Italy! Another White Adventure and Zigs third time over there in his short little life. Poor boy, being dragged all over the place. This time we’re driving. My packing list is endless but space in our car isn’t. I’ll have to break it to Ben that we’ve got space for a really small bag of his clothes 😉

We’re really buzzing about this trip and the opportunity for Ben to take over as Zigs day care while I’m shipped off to work at some of our weddings. Truly eek-ing with excitement!

Zigs and his daddy. That look!

Overhanging all of this positivity and excitement is my silly heart which hasn’t been playing ball recently. I’ve had a few trips to hospital to get to grips with what’s happening in there and hopefully we’ll have everything under control by the time we leave for Italy. I’m sure that some sunshine and red wine will only help the situation!

This weekend sees the 8th anniversary of my brothers life saving heart transplant. 8 bloody years! He’s such a strong and positive man and someone I live completely in awe of.

I can’t help but feel that mum hood has really changed my perception of time and life’s possibilities. My life changes daily and I’m so happy with the fact that I have such little control over so many things. That’s something I never thought I’d be able to say!

Seeing Zigs grow and change by the day really gives a sense of how time moves on, how miraculous life really is and that life is short and precious. It’s made me want to jump at every opportunity and go for the life I really want us all to live. Life is a series of thousands of choices, how you deal with the things that are thrown at you, how you decide to live every single day. I choose to choose as best I can!

Becoming a mummy

I’ve been considering writing something like this for a while but not had the confidence to do so. You’ll know I’m pretty open, honest and put some of my rawest feelings on this blog in the past. But why is this so different? I’ve been so afraid of being judged – by you. So I am proud to say that I’m now in a place where I welcome your judgement as I am (finally) completely confident with what I’m doing and who I am: a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a wedding planner, gluten and dairy free, exercise addict…The lot! I am unapologetically me.

Becoming a mummy changed me and it’s taken me a while to find myself again. I think it’s taken a million little steps. Having Ziggy turned my life upside down. Being pregnant and giving birth had some trauma attached too.

I don’t think our culture prepares us well for birth or for motherhood. Birth can be absolutely terrible, mainly because we’re led to believe we can control it, make a plan. Newsflash – I don’t know 1 woman that has had the birth they planned. By the time I came to giving birth I was so out of control. I had lost any control I thought I had (but never really had) weeks, even months before thanks to my heart. This made my birth experience really enjoyable as I accepted the lack of control, I sat back and let it happen. However Ziggy came out was fine with me, as long as we were both safe and as healthy as possible. It didn’t go to any sort of plan and took lots of twists and turns but I was calm throughout. I genuinely had a very enjoyable day even though they poked long spikey things (needles and other things you won’t want to imagine) into me and cut me in half that day. I simply cannot believe some people shame others who birth in certain ways – but that’s a whole other story.

With motherhood, we’re all trying to portray that we’re coping perfectly well and it’s all a bloody dreamy time – the instagram life. That’s not real life for anyone! At times being a mum has felt absolutely incredible, I’d describe it as the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. But at times it’s been terribly frustrating, sometimes lonely and bloody hard. Oh and tiring. Tired tired tired always tired.

At my happiest I’ve cried; at soppy love songs that now make me think of Zigs – soz Ben, when Zigs laughs at me and we connect on an insane level, when I achieve things I didn’t think I could.

At the hardest times I’ve cried, feeling like I won’t ever go out for a run again, at the amount of work I have to do for weddings but no time to do it, when I’ve felt misunderstood by friends or when I’m just so so tired and ill and I felt I would never feel better.

I realised a few months back that I’m going through a huge phase of personal development, of growth, and this is one of the most significant points in my entire life. Obviously it already was on other levels and in other ways but until I saw this as an important stage of growth for me as a person, I just wasn’t connecting with the change I was feeling.

This is when I started treating myself better and prioritising my needs, mainly over things like a clean house, an empty dishwasher and an empty washing bin (it’s amazing how this can distract you and make you feel that it’s more important than YOU! Or that you distract yourself with to avoid tackling YOU!). I started to work through some of my feelings, really notice and acknowledge them like I would have before Ziggy.

Becoming a mother has given me

– an incredible amount of responsibility, that I really enjoy having and this responsibility has given me a heightened sense of self worth. Not arrogance or importance just worth and value, if only to Ziggy and Ben

– strength and courage, to fight harder for things I care about and stand up for myself when needed

– more interest in more things and I genuinely enjoy life even more

– empathy, not only for mothers, fathers, guardians, carers but for everyone, I hope

– time to slow down and see the real world. Little things like connecting with people in the street when Zigs smiles at them. I’m a weirdo that smiles at everyone anyway and often get nothing back, but smiley Zigs gives me an excuse to chat to people – stranger chats are really one of my favourite things. Then simply just seeing the world through his eyes is so wonderful. The first time he could see a plane in the sky – ridiculously banal but he could see that far and could see it moving and it wowed him. Wow.

– different relationships with my parents, my brothers and Ben’s family. We’re all closer and there’s even more love and affection there now

– clarity of who my friends really are through now they have been with me when I’ve been through this huge change, and how they love Ziggy

– new friends. Its been an amazing opportunity to meet new people, see new perspectives. I was adverse to this at first but I realise this was due to my fear of judgement

The thing is has taken away is time. This is even more precious to me than ever before. I see those memes like: trying to balance work, gym, seeing friends, planning a wedding blah blah. I’m like, balance all that plus a baby and many, many weddings…!

Time races and I feel it, not just because of Ziggy growing up at speed but to truly be juggling what often feels like a million things at a time. And wanting to do them all well. My time isn’t completely my own anymore. It belongs to my family and my couples. One of the hardest things has been to define and respect my work boundaries in such a time bound role in people’s lives (wedding planner) while learning how my new life even works. I think I’m there with that one, thank goodness.

Becoming a mum has been an incredible experience and I feel like I’m still on a journey of becoming a mum. The newer-mum-me is a strong, more resilient and confident woman. I am so thankful to motherhood for helping me become this woman!

If anything, I’ve learnt to be kind to yourself, let go (for goodness sake!), trust your instincts, be strong, be you (you can’t and don’t want to be anyone else) and you will be happy. Mother or not!

I’m tired.

It’s been a rough few weeks for us Whites. A bought of illness means Zigs has been sleeping badly. I know I’ve had it good so far with the little guys sleep. I seriously cannot handle a couple of bad nights in a row. It’s been about a month now.

Good luck if you continue reading. Who knows what slosh will come out…

Lack of sleep has a seriously detrimental affect on my colitis. Good sleep is also the one thing that has the most positive impact on my recovery. So you can imagine that almost a month of bad sleep is leaving me in a pretty bad state. Ben will tell you I have even been known to say, ‘I think I’m going to die’. Drama queen or what?! At the time I really meant it!!!

Lack of sleep is used as torture. There’s good reason for this, it effing sucks. It makes you do and think all sorts of weird things. I’ve found it brings on anxiety. The easiest thing would be to curl up in a ball and hibernate with your baby, but that’s never an option is it mums and dads?!

Woe is me. But seriously, I’m drained. My colitis is kicking my ass and a good sleep seems the only way out. I’ve also decided to start giving Ziggy some formula so I’m not exclusively breastfeeding (along with the food he’s having now he’s weaning), in the hope that my body can use some of its energy for itself!

Heart wise, I have an MRI scan lined up in March which will give us a proper picture of how my heart is. Until then, we’re going with the likelihood that it’s doing well. Bad colitis does not help my heart as I lose blood, lack nutrients my heart needs and my heart generally has to work much harder. Something we don’t really want it doing.

Today is Time to Talk day. An important reminder that it’s good to reach out to those you know for a proper chat. Maybe more than a quick text or a WhatsApp. Offer a chat and be there to listen. Something that, sadly I learnt the hard way, is so bloody important. Being a mum, pretty much always being sick and running a business has been really bloody hard at times and I’m so grateful to those that offer an ear. I may well have been in a different way right now, without talking. Something I wouldn’t joke about.

Happiest of birthdays to my most gorgeous friend Jack for tomorrow. We miss you xxx

A note for baby Ziggy.

(Written at 4.45am, Friday 24th November 2017)

I thought I knew what it would be like when you came along, atleast had some sort of an idea. How wrong I was.

These last 4.5 months have been a rollercoaster. They’ve been so tiring, sometimes painful, often challenging, almost always emotional but educating, highly rewarding, life affirming, very interesting and down right absolutely incredible. I can’t believe I see you discover everything for the first time. 

You already have your ways…

The way you look at me from across the room.

The way you raise your left eyebrow when you’re inquisitive. Or being cheeky.

The way you smile, whole mouth open, when you’re happiest.

The way you cackle when I tickle you.

The way you grab something you’ve not seen before, and instantly try and put it in your mouth.

The way you chat to daddy when he comes home from work. Are you telling him all about your day?

The way you smile, giggle and shake with excitement when we dance with you.  

The way you look at Dave the dog.

The way you are so happy when you’re naked on a changing mat.

The way you drink, and drink, and drink.

The way you look up and out at the world around you, with your big blue eyes, when you’re in your sling.

The way you smile and chat at everyone you meet.

The way you bury your face in my chest when you’re shy. 

The way you rub your rosy red eyes when you’re tired. 

The way you fall asleep on my chest, and snore like an old man.

The way we snuggle after your 4.30am feed.

The way you lie in some mornings, like today: hating to be stirred, like a teenager already.

Thank you for being all that you are.