Shop Small This Christmas

Christmas is on it’s way, it’s all about outfits and presents, where to get them and what to buy them, Instagram has been flooded with posts promoting shopping small this Christmas, as many of you know we love to shop small in this house, supporting mamas with a dream who are trying to make a living to provide for their families. Go Mamas I say I wish I was talented enough to be able to do that, to set up my own business and support my family by what I make and sell, alas it is not to be. However I can shop small and I can support small, from little acorns mighty oaks grow and that’s what theses mamas are. I have the utmost respect for all of them. So I thought I’d do a roundup of my favourite small shops, it is missing 3, because they are on maternity leave, hoping that they are also enjoying their new editions and that they will be back sometimes next year.

So without further a do here’s my lineup of amazing small shops and to top it off there’s a few discount codes in there too.

 

Along came Ollie

The very talented Ellie from Along Came Ollie, Mummy to Ollie 2 years old set up her business earlier in the year, starting out with mountains cut by her other half, wooden blocks peg dolls and snoods made by her lovely Mum. She has gone from strength to strength adding her ever so popular cars, geo animals and a fabulous Christmas range which includes snowflakes Christmas trees and snowmen to name but a few.

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She lovingly hand paints each item in a range of colours and designs, splatter, ombré and brush strokes. The quality of all of her painting is second to none and she prides herself in providing top quality safe paint for children. She now stocks a vast range of wooden décor as well as some toys (please be aware that not all of her products are suitable as toys)

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We’ve had a wide variety of Ellie’s products probably most importantly instead of party bags at Coras 3rd birthday party we gave out peg dolls in a variety of colours and paint designs, and she also provided the wonderful cars that go with Williams travel play mat part of his 1st birthday present and a collaboration between Along Came Ollie and Poppy and Roo Shop.

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She is totally open to custom orders and will go out of her way to help if she can, she provided the splatter 1 for William’s 1st birthday party as a custom order for me.

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If you’d like to shop small with Along Came Ollie this Christmas the website address is www.alongcameollie.co.uk and if you use he code GINGE10 it will get you 10% off your order. Last order date guaranteed for Christmas delivery is 24th Nov.

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With Love Teddy

 

The lovely Chloe behind With Love Teddy, Mummy to Teddy, set up her business in order not to go back to work after having her gorgeous Teddy, she developed a love for nursery prints and decided that this was something she could do, and she can.

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Her prints are amazing they come in 2 sizes A4 and A5, in a variety of colours include foil print (my fav is the rose gold foil). She has a great variety of prints including a brand new Christmas range which by the way are all amazing. If you can’t find what you. Are looking for she also does custom designs. I have had the most fantastic one done but I can’t share as it’s a Christmas present. You can have your print on plain card or brand new marbled card, which I might add looks fabulous. With a super quick turnaround time why wouldn’t you order from her?

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To order go to www.withloveteddy.co.uk use code GINGE10 for a discount

 

 

Shoreditch Shorties

 

The wonderful Janey , Mummy to Tyler 14 months, set up Shoreditch shorties to bring her love of street art to a new platform in the form of children’s clothing, working with street artists to provide something completely unique in the children’s wear market.

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She works alongside artists in the production of each piece with all artists having the final say so in their pieces. She has some fabulous artists on board creating not just Tshirt but fabrics that are turned in pretty much anything you’d like, rompers, leggings, hareems, dresses, skirts you name it it can be done. Fabrics are sewn by the wonderful Sophy who owns You Are My Sunshine. So when you buy bespoke clothing from Janey you are supporting 3 people Janey, Sophy and the artists themselves.

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Every time you buy something from Janey you are allowing individual artists to keep following their dreams, plus we get to enjoy their artwork in another form as well as seeing it in its original form. Artists get 60% of the profit from the sale of each item.

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Shoreditch Shorties are also running the surprise box this Christmas, you can order one of varying values and you will receive items from various different shops involved in the box promotion. 16 shops involved, who will your package be from? To order DM Shoreditch Shorties directly on Instagram.

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To shop from the wonderful shoreditch shorties go to www.shoreditchshorties.co.uk use code SSFAM and tell them I sent you (put mygingersandme in the comments box) for a discount

 

Freddie Fox and co

Freddie Fox and Co is run by the wonderful Clare, Mummy to Freddie 14 months, and 2 older boys 15 and 11, she set up Freddie Fox and Co a year ago so she could stay at home with her youngest after having to go back to work when her two older boys were very little. She started with Bibs, teethers, blankets and bunting, over the past year that has developed into just about anything you can think of.

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Her fabrics are always chosen with a lot of thought put into them, so they are fabrics that you won’t find everywhere else. She’s a big believer in being a little bit different so what you buy from her is bold and as unique as possible. She loves a custom request if there’s a fabric or a style you might like that she doesn’t currently offer she will try her best to accommodate it. I challenged her with a skirt for Cora who has decided dresses and skirts are the way forward for her, and the skirt Clare came up with is amazing named the Cora bubble skirt it’s as unique as the ginger one.

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With this being the shops birthday month there are loads of fabulous offers to be had, keep your eyes peeled on Insta for what’s coming up. She’s closing to custom orders on the 15th Nov and closing to orders on 10th December, that may change depending on the volume of orders she gets. You can find her at www.etsy.me/2xKr7Wj Use code CORAANDWILLIAM10 for a discount.

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Princess and the Frock

I’ve written about Princess and The Frock before, she’s still one of my all time favourite shops and probably the 1st Instagram shop I found. (Read previous post to find out how I found her). Mummy to Belle. Claire makes the most wonderful dresses, she designs all her own patterns and can pretty much do any design you can think of. She has a fantastic range of dresses to suit every budget.

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She is absolutely brilliant at a custom design and brings to life the images you have in your head, she made Cora’s Elsa dress and an Anna dress for my friend’s little girl for our recent trip to Disneyland.

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She has a brand new range of princess dresses that I am in love with and are all on my want list. She also has a collaboration with Florrie and Max (coming up) of jersey leggings and dresses, as well as making custom designs for the Florrie and Max collection too. She also has a selection of exclusive fabrics designed by herself and Clare from Florrie and Max.

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She is an all round lovely person, who will make your little ones the most fabulous dresses for Christmas or you could just buy the Cora dress (no I don’t get commission it just a fabulous dress named after, well I like to think, my beautiful ginge) you can find her at www.princessandthefrock.com use code SHOPSMALL for a lovely little discount

 

Florrie and Max

Another fabulous Clare (there must be something about the name and owning small shops). Again, this Clare owns a lovely little shop another of the 1st insta shops I found. Mummy to Elsa 5 and Ted 2, has a lovely little shop selling a variety of gorgeousness.

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Her collaboration with Princess and the Frock is amazing, they have a fabulous range of materials including the ones designed by the Claire’s. Their leggings come with a cuff that folds up (with the print the right way up) so they last the entire age range. Genius. Clare always runs a preorder system so when she decided on the season fabrics before all the ready to send leggings etc are cut and sewn you can order any custom items in the fabrics ensuring you get what you want in the sizes you want. I have had skirts for Cora the last two times.

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Currently she is stocking Slugs and Snails tights and their limited-edition pyjamas and she also stocks frilly pants. Her Princess and the Frock collaboration is static so it’s always in her shop, however the rest of the shop is often season dependent.

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They have some exclusive winter/Christmas fabric, those being squirrels and robins designed by Clare in collaboration with Claire from Princess and the Frock. Both designs are available on the website as ready to send, all products come with free UK delivery.

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You can find her at www.florrieandmax.co.uk and if you use code GINGE10 that will get you a lovely little discount.

 

Darkside Inspire

Darkside Inspire is the latest range to be launched in the Inspire Collection ranges. It’s run by the fabulous Emma, who not only works full time but runs the two sewing businesses in the Inspire Collections, Rose and Baxter and Darkside. She is Mummy to Eli, Darkside’s chief model.

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Darkside is an alternative children’s clothing brand, specialising mostly but not solely in monochrome. All Darkside’s clothes are handmade by Emma, they are some of the best handmade clothes I have had the privilege to own, her talent cannot be faulted, and she is passionate about every piece of clothing she makes for your littles.

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Her Christmas range is amazing and the great thing about most of her fabric choices is that they are Christmassy but not too Christmassy so they can still be worn after Christmas too, oh and they are all monochrome what’s not to love.

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If you love monochrome and you love things to be unique and limited edition Darkside is the place for you, she’s only been open a few months and already some of her fabric has sold out, making her range that little bit more exclusive.

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A lovely lady and a lovely brand. To order go to www.darkside.site and use code William10 for a discount

 

Baker Bibs

Baker Bibs is run by the lovely Tina, mummy to Reuben 4 and Anwen 22 months. Tina set up Baker Bibs after being made redundant from her previous job and with a lack of childcare, her other half at college during the day and working nights it meant she could be her children’s constant, as well as indulging her passion for sewing. Opening just 10 months ago she has gone from strength to strength.

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Tina’s clothes are amazing, she can pretty much turn her hand to anything from Bibs and snoods to rompers and leggings. She has fabulous fabric choice and has started to design her own fabrics with her exclusive Game of Thrones design has been a fantastic success it’s currently sold out . She has also designed a Walking Dead fabric and a Christmas design “Oh deer”, which are currently on her website for preorder, alongside the currently sold out Game of Thrones Fabric. I don’t even watch GOT and I want a Romper for William in it.

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Everything we have had from Tina has been fabulously well made, again some of instas finest, William looks amazing in Tina’s clothes, definitely some of my favourites.

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Closing for orders for Christmas at the end of November if you’re after the exclusive fabrics make sure you go order before then. You can find her at www.bakerbibs.bigcartel.com/ and for a discount use code WILLIAM10

 

 

Primrose and Bear

The lovely Emily from Primrose and Bear is mummy to Primrose 18 months. She started her little business in July 2016 as a hobby, nearly a year and half later she’s doing amazingly well, selling mainly T-shirts but also bags and now cushion covers this Christmas. Her range includes storage bags as well as drawstring, backpacks and pouches

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Her T shirts are amazing using both vinyl and her fancy new printer that prints directly into the T shirt fibres, she can pretty much do any design you like but is probably most well known for her name splash design and the bear on the bum.

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If you’re looking for something a bit different this Christmas or some festive PJs look no further than Primrose and Bear. You can have one of her existing designs or you can design your own with a custom order. And what’s even better is you can pretty much have any colour you like and you can even have glitter if you so choose. Now you know me I love a bit of glitter.

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She’s also very good at providing twinning wear for either you and your little or both your littles and we all know twinning is winning. The first T-shirts I ever bought from Emily were twinning ones in the form of glittery big sister little brother ones.

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Last orders for Christmas is the 31st Nov although she is hoping to have a premade sale in December. You can find her and her shiny new lovely website at www.primroseandbear.co.uk/ We are also lucky enough to have a limited number of discount codes use code GINGE10, they are like gold dust and will be live when she reopens on Monday.

 

 

Minimack Clothing

The lovely Sammie, mummy to Freddie, set up Minimack clothing earlier in the year, exclusively monochrome and challenging stereotypes as she goes. She set up Minimack to have something just for her, somewhere for some me time and to be creative. Freddie is instafamous and reps for some other small shops and Sammie loved the hard work and uniqueness that went into them, and wanted to give something back to fellow mamas. She has most defiantly done that her clothes are fabulous.

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She sells both leggings and T shirts, she has a range of designs to choose from but if you’ve got an idea of something you’d like in your T-shirt she’s your girl. She designed William’s awesome 365 days of William T shirt for his first birthday. Some of my favs include ‘she’s a he #awkward’ and obviously I love her ginger life tee.

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She’s an all round lovely person who is up for any challenge when it comes to design and will go out of her way to help you if she can. Last orders for Christmas is Sunday 26th November. If you live in Manchester you can see her at Play Kidd’s Play Centre, Swindon, Manchester on Sunday 6th Dec, Saturday 9th Dec and Saturday 16th Dec, she will be having a ready to post market night and a few other bits and pieces going on on Insta in Dec all that will be with you by Christmas.

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You can find her at www.minimack.tictail.com and for a discount use code C&W10

 

House of Lloyd Designs

The lovely Sharon at House of Lloyd designs set up her business when she was a stay at home mum in 2014, she does everything for her little business as well as having a day job too. She makes some of the most incredible wooden décor, my favourite being her rainbow.

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I discovered her when I entered (and won) a loop giveaway although I’d already seen her rainbows pop up a few times on my feed (probably from a previous loop giveaway, you know where you like a shop because they are part of a loop then you quite like what they sell so you don’t unfollow but you never actually get around to ordering, well that was me with Sharon) after winning the loop and the excellent customer service I received from her for a freebie I knew I had to order it. I haven’t been disappointed with anything I’ve ordered from her and I’ve gifted a couple of bits too.

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To order you need to do it via DM on Instagram or she has a Facebook page too, her order books close Monday 27th November and if you use code houseoflloyd10 it will give you a lovely little discount.

 

 

 

Kidult and Co

 

Another of my favourites, set up in 2015 by three friends, with the aim of stamping out stereotypical clothing, and breaking the mould when it came to children’s clothing. They were taking a stand against what had become the norm pink for girls and blue for boys. They have an extensive range of clothing with statement T shirts in monochrome, which have been designed to be gender neutral, and to blur the boundaries between gender specific clothing.

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Their designs are a little bit edgy bringing a bit of fun loving attitude to to your littles, their range is completely unisex, it’s fresh, it’s fashionable and it’s aimed at all of us. The idea being that no one can dictate what you wear or who you are, but that whatever your age we should be able to tell the world who we are and express ourselves through our clothing.

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Their clothing is fun and well made will all the printing done in house. They have a fantastic range of Christmas designs so your little ones can be edgy and Christmassy at the same time. My favourite is the gingerbread man one (obviously) Cora has this one but I bought Wills, “William is on the nice list”, I think at 1 he should be.

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We have a varied selection of their clothing ranging from the fabulous hoodies which are lovely and warm to t-shirts from their Christmas collection. Since William was born I have found myself buying Cora much more unisex monochrome wear partly because she rocks it, but also partly so she can pass it on to Wills.

 

Currently Kidult and Co don’t quite know when their last date for ordering in time for Christmas is, they are keeping an eye on stock levels and order numbers and will keep us posted so check your Instagram feed to make sure you don’t miss out. We are very lucky that we have a code for you all to use. kidultxmas will get you a lovely Christmassy 15% off you can find them at www.kidultand.co

 

Lilly and Sid

Lilly and Sid are one of my all time favourite brands, run by husband and wife team Imran and Emma. Although they are probably not really a small business anymore, they do have a small business ethos, relying on word of mouth about their clothing to promote their brand. I have written about them before and along with Princess and The Frock they are responsible for my Instagram obsession with shopping small.

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Lilly and Sid are a bit like marmite, you either love them, or you hate them and me well I love them. Cora is regularly seen in one of their dresses, they are as unique as she is, and William although he has less of their range than Cora he rocks Lilly and Sid too. They pride themselves on making clothes that can be lived in and passed on. When I say they are designed to be lived in I mean go out and get dirty, clothes that are made to be worn.

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They have a wide range of clothes for both boys and girls as well as a unisex range of babywear. If you like something a bit different then Lilly And Sid is for you. As they are a slightly bigger brand than many of the others featured in this post their clothes are ready to send, so their cut off for Christmas is much later.

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You can find them at www.lillyandsid.com

So there you have my roundup, it is by no means exhaustive and I could have gone on, let’s support real people and real dreams this Christmas . Happy Shopping

 

 

 

All opinions in the post are entirely my own, I do revive a discount and occasionally free products from some but not all of the small shops featured in this post.

 

And then there were 2

When you get pregnant with baby number 2 you kind of think I’ve got this, I know what I’m doing I’ve had one surely I can cope with adding another little person to the mix, only you’ve forgotten or you’re remembering with rose tinted lenses that newborn haze and all the dramas it brings. Oh, and baby number 1 was a dream. You know you’re going have to divide your time so you try and take in as much Mummy and me time with your first born before baby number 2 arrives. The thing is the difference between having 1 and having 2 is HUGE. I definitely didn’t appreciate how big it would be. It’s only now with William a week away from being 1 and the opportunity of being sat by a pool with William asleep and Cora happily playing in the pool with Daddy that I can sit down and write this.

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MAMA GUILT IS STRONG!

Mama guilt is there from the moment you bring a baby into the world, am I doing it right, am I doing the best for my child, the first time they bang their head, the first time they get ill. Nothing can prepare you for the guilt you feel when the new baby comes. In fact for me this new found guilt started before William was even here. I had my beautiful rainbow and for that I was and still am eternally grateful but I was about to change her little world beyond comprehension. She was going to go from having my sole attention all of the time, to well basically having to share and not only that actually she was going to have to come second for a little while because the new baby was going to take up so much time. From his very arrival her world changed and although we had prepared her I don’t think she really understood. Because I had to be induced because of my age, that meant a 2 day stay in hospital before he was even here, and although she was with people who love her I felt so guilty that I’d chosen to put her through this. Then because he was a forceps delivery that meant coming to meet him then having to leave us both in hospital for another night.

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Once the baby’s here suddenly it all comes flooding back, night feeds, lack of sleep, getting to know their needs and their cries all of which takes time and all of which impacts on your older child. And then their behaviour changes as they find their new role as big sister/brother. From being so proud to be the older sibling to hating them all at the same time because mummy is suddenly preoccupied and you have to wait.

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Mama guilt because you know all your oldest wants is you and they are having to wait and then guilt towards the new baby because they have had to wait for something because you oldest needs a wee, something to eat, to get dressed whatever the reason you have put the new baby down you feel guily that you can’t split yourself in two. That you can’t give both of them your undivided attention all the time. And the thing is in your sensible head you know you just can’t do everything but that’s what you really want to do.

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The worst mama guilt though is when your new baby is screaming and you have no idea how to make it better. You’ve tried everything you can think of, cuddling them or not cuddling them. Picking them up putting them down you name it you’ve done it and they are still screaming. You then move on to bigger potential solutions like changing the milk, every possible colic solution and move into reflux medicine, and they are still screaming!! In the end you realise that you are just going to have to wait this one out until you can wean them because you know that’s the only thing that will help. And then you do wean them and the health visitor tells you off because you weaned them early, BUT your baby has stopped crying because the food in their stomach has helped keep the milk down and lessened the reflux.

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TIREDNESS OMG THE TIREDNESS

Sleep when the baby sleeps that’s what they tell you, when you have your 1st that might be possible maybe a little possible but when the baby sleeps you have jobs to do, put the washing on clean the house etc etc, so even with baby number 1 that’s a fairly ridiculous statement to give any new mum. It is literally impossible to do that when you have a toddler that’s given up day time naps. What you begin to realise is that actually you can function on fairly little sleep, but sometimes you want to be more than the mummy that just about functions. I am always tired about 4pm when the opportunity of sleep is non existent but by 10pm I am wide awake, a consequence of years of night shifts. I do know that I need less sleep than most people but this mummy would give anything for a proper lie in and a full night’s sleep.

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Cora lulled us into that false sense of security by sleeping through at 4 months. Will is fairly consistent that he will wake at some point during the night usually for a feed sometimes because he wants a cuddle and if he doesn’t wake during the night he wakes around 5 am and that’s it for the day. Cora already has an internal wake up system that gets her up at 6am, what is that about? I honestly feel like I have done a night shift most of the time! I am hoping when he turns 1 next week that will sort itself out although I am not holding out much hope!

 

 

ITS ACTUALLY QUITE LONELY

There I said it, it is actually quite lonely. For all you Mammas out there feeling the same adding a second one to the mix as lovely as it is, and it is lovely it’s also quite a lonely place to be, and you are not alone in feeling it.

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When you have your 1st it’s easy to sort of carry on as normal in the things that you do as when they are tiny as they are relatively portable. You can go to a coffee shop or go out to lunch with relative ease and be pretty sure the baby will sleep for the majority of your outing . As they get bigger that becomes less easy and people want to spend less and less time with a noisy toddler so you end up going to places that they can play or you end up missing half the conversation.

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It’s true what they say about losing friends when you have a baby, the people that you see all the time before children suddenly disappear from your everyday life only resurfacing when they have their own children. Don’t get me wrong I have a few friends who don’t have children for various different reasons who have been, and continue to be, amazing (you know who you are) and for that I am eternally grateful because they continue to come and include Cora in the conversation and in whatever we are doing. In fact they go out of their way to make sure they still see me and both the ginges. I also have 2 really good friends who have been on maternity leave with me, one local and one not so local (again you know who you are) who to be completely honest I don’t know how I would have got though this last year without. Who understand that coffee is cold and conversation is half finished and things get forgotten to be asked because you go to ask how was your holiday, how did this go or that go and then you get pulled away by your toddler or your baby starts crying and needs you. This, this is the reality of two, this is without a doubt the hardest job I have ever done and although I wouldn’t change it for the world I crave a hot cup of coffee and 5 minutes peace, I wish I could finish that conversation or remember to ask you those questions but my reality is not like that.

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My life for the last year has been my children I have been away from them for a total of 1 ½ days in that time and whilst I love them dearly I have been very lonely at times. I know how lucky I am to have two healthy, happy (most of the time) children and I would not change it for the world. That, however, does not stop me being lonely or tired or feeling guilty and like the worst mother in the world but do you know what all of that is normal. All of those feelings are what make you a good Mama, and do you know what all that being said and all those feelings aside, I GOT THIS.

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Photo Credits Bounty Photography, Richard Parker Photography, Belvu Photography

The Purple Fields

Last week the Ginges and I headed over to Hitchin Lavender, a farm where you can go and pick your own Lavender from their stunning field.  A setting where I think more people go to take photos than actually pick the Lavender, me included if I am totally honest the Lavender is just an added bonus for the stunning backdrop it provides.

 

It’s actually just outside Hitchin on a farm called Caldwell Farm in Ickleford, it’s open seasonally over the summer months until early September.  Once you put in the right postcode/address (it gets regularly confused with the Lavender Fields which is a completely separate place entirely. If you put Lavender Fields, Hitchin into Google maps it will take you to the wrong place, clearly a problem they have a lot as outside the Lavender fields the correct postcode is displayed on the fence, be warned) It’s pretty easy to find, has ample parking and when we went someone showed you exactly where to park.

 

We got there early enough that we parked in the main car park not the overflow, my only criticism about the way in is that it’s not that clear where you have to go. If you come in from the main car park you walk up past a small play area and the café, the café doors are wide open which is excellent however they hide the signage on the wall behind telling you where to go. We missed the sign completely and blindly followed the people in front of us hoping they knew where they were going (they did).  Once you enter the main field you can only pay in cash, it’s £5 per adult, thankfully I had some cash, which Gareth will tell you is unusual as I usually don’t have any money on me at all. You can actually pay by card in the café but if you miss the signs like we did you don’t know that.  There is a kiosk in the main field where you pay cash, my other criticism of the farm is that the person sitting in the booth clearly gave more information to the person in front of me and I don’t know whether it was because I had laryngitis or he just couldn’t be bothered. He literally told me the price and handed me a bag and that was it, nothing about how to pick or where to go or about the sunflower field either. I only know that sunflowers are 50p a head from a conversation I had with someone on Instagram. But my biggest criticism of this interaction or lack of it is that in the centre of the field as you walk in is a teepee which I assume usually children can play in. The day we went there was a load of music and dancing going on in there. I didn’t let Cora go in on the way in as although there was no obvious signage, and the guy in the kiosk had also not said anything I did wonder if there was some kind of private function going on in there, we also had a limited amount of time as we had to be back home for an appointment. However, after we had taken our photos, picked the Lavender and visited the sunflowers on the way back past the teepee people were coming in and out with their children so I let her go in. No one stopped us and the person running the music didn’t say a word either but probably after one song a gentlemen turned up and told me (and a few other people) that it was a paid activity and that it wasn’t fair on the other people who had paid so would I mind paying. Now had I been there from the start of course not but if you don’t make it clear that thus is a paid activity and no one is monitoring the door then you can’t expect people to pay.

 

So, your £5 gets you a brown bag to fill with as much Lavender as you can cut and fit in it and the chance to take some of the most stunning photos going. On top of this price as I indicated earlier if you want to buy sunflowers they are 50p a head. You can take you buggy into the main field but you can’t take it up the individual rows which as you can probably see from the pictures are quite tight.  I hadn’t really thought about this and because it was really muddy after all that rain meant that we couldn’t go far up the rows as I had to leave William in the buggy most of the time.  I did get him out so he could have a look, touch, feel and smell the Lavender and of course so I could take photos but to be honest, taking a supermobile 10 month old that wants to walk ALL THE TIME but isn’t quite independent yet on my own was not the best decision. To be fair to William he was very vey good. And I stupidly put him in white trousers so when I tried to get a shot of the pair of them and Cora let him go his trousers got particularly dirty.  

 

After we had finished in the field and I had removed my very distressed toddler from the dancing and singing we went for something to eat in the café.  While as lovely as it was it was very expensive and the choices of food were limited, sandwiches or cake, there was a quiche and salad too but nothing else, and considering the number of children that were there the choice of food for children was very very limited. What we did eat was delicious though.

 

The café also doubles up as the shop, which creates a bit of a bottle neck once you’ve had your lunch and you want to buy something from the shop, you have to queue up with everyone else buying food and drink.

 

We had a lovely time there, if you want sunflowers I would suggest going earlier in the season, and if you are taking more than one small child I would suggest a spare pair of hands particularly if they are like William and mobile but dependent on you for their mobility.  All in all we had a lovely day and despite the hiccup I would certainly go back and would highly recommend it to anyone else.  

 

If you want to go check them out the website is as follows www.hitchinlavender.com

Something Special for Tommy’s

Just before Easter Cora and William were asked to take part in something really special for a charity that is vey close to my heart, one that does such amazing work that one day will help change not only conversations but also the 1 in 4 statistic that haunts you once you become part of that club. A club that you would never choose to be part of and that you can never truly understand unless you have been through it. Cora and William were asked to take part in a video shoot for the wonderful Tommy’s.

Tommy’s for those of you that don’t know are the baby charity funding research into miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and neonatal death. The fundamental reason for the charities existent is to save babies lives, to try and find the resin behind baby loss however it happens to a family. For me as many of you will know that was a miscarriage. I am 1 in 4 and I think that statistic needs to change and I think we need to talk about baby loss in all its forms, because otherwise nothing will change.
Every two years Tommy’s work with Waterbabies to raise money for the charity in an event called The Splashathon, this will be Cora’s 2nd Splashathon and Williams 1st. As many of you know Waterbabies is also very close to my heart. In my current day job, previous roles, hospitals and countries I have looked after children who have drowned or near drowned so for me teaching my two to swim was one of the most important things I could teach them. So as you can imagine this event is one that I feel very strongly about, and in fact I wrote my 1st post almost two years ago about Cora’s first Splashathon.

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Cora and William were asked to be part of the filming for the PR video for the Splashathon, the video that will advertise the event to the world, and with it being such an important event to me I had to say yes.

Let me start by telling you how we got involved. Last year I shared my story of miscarriage with Tommy’s for their #miscourage Mother’s Day campaign. I forget now how I got in touch with them, it may have had something to do with a post I wrote about my experience of miscarriage, a post that to date is still the most read piece I have written, (if you haven’t read it and fancy a read it’s titled “I am a mummy of 2 – now 3 I am a mummy of 3”). I am quite happy to share my story I think it’s really important to talk about it, particularly since when it happens to you, you feel so alone, so knowing there are other people out there who have been through something similar can take away some of that loneliness. I was contacted by Tommy’s to ask if Cora and William would like to take part and obviously, I said yes.

So we headed down to the pool where the shoot was to do lots of splashing in the hope that they would get some excellent footage to advertise this brilliant campaign. Peppa Pig was going to be there, she is also a sponsor of the Splashathon and Cora was very excited to meet her. When it came to it though she was scared of her and wouldn’t say hello.

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Once we had seen Peppa we met all the lovely people from Tommy’s as well as the other mummies and babies being filmed. One of whom pointed out that I had put Cora in a rainbow t-shirt, I wish I could claim that I had done it on purpose but I totally hadn’t, but what an appropriate top for her to be wearing for the day.

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Changed into their happy nappies and William safely cuddled on the poolside with Grandma, Cora and I got into the pool. There was lots of jumping around with all the other babies whilst waiting for our turn to be filmed, I think Cora was the oldest one there and I think William was probably the youngest. Cora did lots of jumping in, independent swimming to the poolside and being swum by me. She did a lot of splashing about too. Cora absolutely loves being in the water and had a great time splashing about. She even got to meet one of the superhero teachers who happened to be helping out.

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William came in last and I think that they had plenty of footage by then, so he didn’t really do a lot to the camera, they got us to do a bit of splash splashing something that we do in class very early on after being submerged to ensure that they recover properly. He was also submerged by the superhero teacher for a digital swim, but both times he came up the wrong way up. Other than that he also did some swimming in line with the other parents.

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We had a fabulous time at the shoot but unfortunately the only bit of Cora that made the cut was her splashing a little boy in the face (the one with the ball) but nothing else, I am obviously sad about that but we had such a good time, and we think it’s such an important thing to do. William didn’t make the cut either.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Tommy’s for giving us the opportunity to be part of this, it was a real privilege. Thank you for all the work that you do to help people like me. Splashathon is just around the corner, it won’t be long until the fundraising pages go up. Please if you know anyone that has been through baby loss of any kind, support my two beautiful rainbows by sponsoring them to complete their Splashathon. I want to say thank you in advance for all your donations, as I said before, Tommy’s do an amazing job for people like me, for families like us.

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I am 1 in 4

Thank you to Tommy’s for the photos from the day.

Cora and William will be doing their splashathon on the 2nd July if you would like to sponsor them this is the link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=JoPayne3 thank you in advance

We are going to the Zoo

This week’s big adventure was a trip to ZSL London Zoo. Now we are no strangers to the zoo as we live 15 minutes away from ZSL Whipsnade and I have membership so we can pop there for a couple of hours if we feel like it. London zoo is not a place we have been to very often, in fact I have only taken Cora once before and that was with the lovely Janey and Mimi too.

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London Zoo although big is much more manageable in a day than Whipsnade, it doesn’t have that same sprawled out hillside venue going on. Split into 2 sides either side of the road it is actually pretty well laid out. Easy to get around in the most part, although there is some quite major refurb work going on so it’s actually not as fluid to navigate as normal, there were several points at which we had to double back in ourselves to move on to the next animals. However, that said, we pretty much covered the whole zoo in the time that we were there.

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We started our day with a coffee and an excellently timed carousel ride, allowing me to feed William whilst Janey, Mimi and Cora had a ride in it. In fact, the timing was so perfect he’d started and finished his bottle in the time they were on the carousel, (tbh I am not very good at being in or watching carousels anyhow, I get really bad motion sickness) from the carousel after pacifying the cries of again again particularly from Cora we went to see the penguins .

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The Penguins at London are amazing, they have their enclosure set up so you can see the Penguins under the water which for little people (and grown ups) is hugely exciting. The girls ran backwards and forwards after the penguins squealing with delight until they noticed the steps at the end of the tank. They ran up them to look at the penguins from the surface, there is a big piece of netting at the top of the steps to stop you falling in but also allowing little people the opportunity to see the penguins on the surface.

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Onto the butterfly house which is another firm favourite of Coras, and it is always amazing, full of bright colours and fluttering wings, Cora is always fascinated. The butterfly house at Whipsnade is newer and if I am totally honest is much better than the London version. That said, London’s is still great all the same, and occasionally we are really lucky and a butterfly lands on one of us. It is usually Cora because of the colour of her hair I think, she used to think it was fantastic but right now she hates it. I think it’s magical when it happens but am never quick enough with the camera to get a picture before she’s realised, shrieked, and run off.

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There are (I was going to say several but that is the biggest understatement ever) many statues of animals dotted around the zoo and Cora and Mimi decided that they had to stop, climb and have their photo taken. I think we spent as much time looking at the animal statues as we did looking at the real ones.

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All around the tiger house a bit of a refurb is going on, but amazingly we got to see both tigers. When we got there the female tiger was walking down the tree, there were too many people to get a good shot, but it was a spectacular sight. The male tiger was just chilling on the wall having a sleep, amazing to see.

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To see the giraffes and the zebras you need to go underneath the road through a tunnel a bit like the one that gets you from the car park to the zoo entrance at Whipsnade, it’s quite steep but still manageable with a buggy. It’s worth it though as the giraffes are amazing as always.

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There is a lovely playground within the zoo, not as big as Hullabazoo at Whipsnade but it’s lovely, it’s not very big and I suspect during school holidays it’s not big enough. However, during term time, it’s just the right size and a great place to run off some energy before lunch. Situated just behind the carousel it’s also not that far from the restaurant when you are trying to get them to leave.

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The restaurant in the zoo is lovely, it’s nice and big with a fabulous if not a little bit pricey range of food. It serves a really wide variety of food, from soup and a roll to full blown dinner. The only thing I would say about the choice of food is that there isn’t much for you if you are trying to be good. You pretty much have to bank on the soup not being a cream of something. Having said that the choice for littles is fabulous, with a good choice for lunch boxes and a great variety of hot meals. Irritatingly though they have that whole “water is not included in the children’s drink” choice going on. (Why are we conditioned to think that our children want to drink juice or flavoured milk?).

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We had a fabulous day there it definitely worth a visit.

Cadburys Egg Hunt Hughenden Manor

Last week we met up with our lovely friend Claire and her two beautiful girls for another Easter Egg Hunt, Cadburys are sponsoring the National Trusts Easter egg hunt. Unlike the one at RHS Wisley, this one has to be paid for on top of your entry fee. That is unless you join then and there and pay direct debit. The National Trust have a promotion going at the moment that allows you to go to any National Trust place that is running the Easter egg hunt and do it for free until the 17th April. Which if you did it on the 1st April when the egg hunt began and you went frequently you would have your Easter eggs sorted!

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10 eggs were dotted round the gardens of the manor and the children had to find them all, write down the letters on each of them and then make a word or phrase. Unlike the RHS one there were no clues, just a walk around the Gardens (or run if you are 2 and that’s pretty much how you travel anywhere!) in the most part it was pretty easy to find them all, although I think there was one that was missed by most people. I think it must have been on a path that ran parallel to the one we were on. Each egg had a letter or number on it spelling out a word or phrase, you had to collect all 10 and work out what it spelt before you got your prize.

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The Gardens at Hughenden are beautiful if not a little hilly they are manageable with a buggy and the girls had so much fun running around them, we ended up sitting on the lawn watching them run and roll down the hill, copying the bigger children. The National Trust have a book for children called 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾ we can definitely tick off rolling down a hill.

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Lunch at the National Trust is a reasonable price for a day out £20 got us 2 baked potatoes for the grown ups, 2 children’s lunch boxes, a slice of cake and a pot of tea for 2. The children’s lunch boxes were actually pretty good as lunch boxes go, a sandwich, 2 other items and a drink. The other items included sliced cheese, raisins, a piece of fruit or a bag of crisps. My only complaint about lunch boxes and actually children’s meals in general is when they include a drink, it’s always some kind of juice, and although the National Trust had fruit juice (as in apple or orange fresh juice, well I would say made from concentrate but you know what I mean) it’s still juice, why can’t they offer water or milk (and by milk I mean plain milk not flavoured) as an option. For me it’s because Cora will only drink water or milk (yes I know how lucky I am) which is great until you want a children’s box and you have to have a fight to get either. In fairness the lady at the Hughenden was lovely and gave me a bottle of water, but that’s pretty unusual (I have this argument a lot).

Easter egg Hunt done, hill rolling done, time for an ice cream (cup of tea for the mummies) and then  an assault course of sorts on the way out, looking at it to start with I thought it was a bit big for our 2 girls but they gave it a good go and loved it, the assault course ended just before the car park, perfectly timed for home, pretty much perfect end to a very lovely day.

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RHS Wisley Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt

This week we visited the fabulous RHS Wisley to find the Lindt Gold Bunny. The Gardens at Wisley are definitely worth a visit even without the gold bunnies to be found. It costs £12.60 for an adult and £6.30 for children over 5 (I think that’s pretty decent that children don’t need to pay until they are 5!) unless you have membership which is £59 a year unless you pay by direct debit when you get 25% of. Membership allows you and a guest into the Gardens, luckily for me my lovely friend Claire has membership as she lives quite near, so her membership allowed the two of us in plus our 4 under 5 were already free.

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The Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt (clearly sponsored by Lindt) was a lovely way to explore the Gardens as with little ones you could quite easily end up in the same places all the time, it was just the right number of bunnies too. 6 bunnies to find, with a clue sheet that could be picked up at the entrance, nice and bright and easy to follow with a map in the back for the grown ups (and bigger children) to find all the clues.

Each Bunny was placed somewhere in the garden for the children to find. By each Bunny was a numbers board so you knew you were in the general area of where the Bunny was. Each clue on the answer sheet was straight forward leading you to where the Bunny was, except the last one which was again straight forward only the Bunny was further away from the clue than it really needed to be. That being said it was still pretty easy to find.

With six bunnies to be found we set off around the grounds stopping at each one depending on where it was for a little play or a run around. The girls loved finding the bunnies and were particularly taken by the GIANT Gold Bunny outside of the glasshouse, although Cora knew it was made of the same stuff as a bouncy castle and took a bit of convincing that she couldn’t jump in it, (that one and bouncy castles it’s almost impossible to get her off once she is on one).

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There was also Easter bonnet making but we missed that, well when I say missed it, we were at the Bunny outside the bonnet making as they had stopped for lunch. Instead we decided to stop and feed the babies and let the girls have a bit of fun in soft play. Yes Wisley even have a small amount of soft play so you can have a cuppa in peace. In fact it is the perfect size for not having to worry as you can see them wherever they are on it from everywhere in the room, and even though it is particularly small this doesn’t faze the children they just get on with it.

Being gardens there are plenty of places to have a picnic, I have to be honest I am never really that organised, but there are plenty of places to eat in Wisley, although I would say it is on the expensive side for what it is. That being said, the children’s lunch bag is a pretty average price for that kind of thing, and has a brilliant variety of choice, better in the main café than the one by the glasshouse, but that’s where soft play is so it’s what you fancy doing really.

After completing our Bunny hunt and our day at the Gardens we headed out handing our answer sheets (well showing them really) to the lady on the desk and the girls collected their Lindt Gold Bunny much to their delight. Neither of them could wait until they got home so they sat on the Bunny bench outside and ate them. All in all a lovely day out and an excellent Easter hunt.

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Dear William

Dear William,

My gorgeous wonderful sleep thief, it’s hard to believe that you have only been in the world for 5 short months, they have flown by. I can’t imagine life without you anymore, yet I know that I have changed your sister’s world forever. For good I hope although I know you will come to blows throughout your childhood. I hope we make it a happy one for you. I hope you are as happy as your sister seems to be, I think you will be as you are full of smiles.

There are some things I want to tell you, I am sorry for the reflux and for the pain you were, and sometimes still are in. I am sorry it took me so long to realise that the pain was definitely reflux and not colic, it was so hard to tell, as you were a sickly baby but not a really sicky baby and although I knew you had a bit of reflux I didn’t think it was that bad. I was wrong. Thankfully a lovely friend sent me back to the GP to get you some more medicine. I didn’t want to be ‘that’ mum bothering the GP all the time, I wish I had a bit more.

I am sorry that you sometimes have to cry, or your sister would never be fed or clothed, and she would constantly be having accidents as her timing is impeccable, she has the ability to wait until I am doing something with you and then only Mummy will do, for this I am sorry. Nobody tells you about these small things that will make you feel guilty, and they are small things, but with baby number 2, that’s you, things are different. They have to be as there is already another small person here depending on me, mummy guilt is the worse kind.

I am sorry as baby number 2 your routine fits in around what your sister is doing, I promise this will change, probably not any time soon, but it will when she goes to school and then there will be Mummy and William time, and we will have such fun just you and me. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with both of you together I do, I love this time, but sometimes I feel like I am being split in two and that I don’t know which thing to do first. I treasure our time the 3 of us as I know it won’t last, soon Cora will be at school and we won’t have that. But I love our time together just the two of us, it is time to be treasured, and I will treasure it forever.

William you are such a lovely boy, such a precious boy, such a special boy. I love you with all of my heart, and I am thankful every day that you have come into our lives, you complete our family.

I will love you forever

Mummy xxx

Dear Cora

Dear Cora,

My beautiful beautiful Cora, I want to tell you how proud I am of you. I want to tell you how much I love you, and how much joy you bring to my world. I know it doesn’t always seem like that, and how unfair the world must feel to you sometimes. How you have gone from having my undivided attention, to having to share me with another person. I know I spend so much of my day telling you to leave your brother alone, and that he’s not a toy, I know that you love him and you want to play with him and share your world with him too, but you have to be patient he will share with you too.

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I want to tell you that you have been such a big girl, such a brave girl such a good girl. We moved you not once but twice in a short period of time, from what you have known since the day you were born to a new bed, a new room, a new house. But before you got your new bed you watched all your belongings get packed up in boxes and taken away in a great big truck, until we knew not when. You were so very good when we stayed with you Aunty and Uncle, but you broke my heart eve y time you asked me to go home, for we no longer had a home, one that was coming but no date to help you make sense of what was happening in your world.

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You are such a good big sister, so helpful and kind, not only did we move you but we added a new person to your world, one who you love but who has not always been the easiest to live with. I know when you act up it’s for my attention but believe me when I tell you my beautiful girl, you would get so much more if you just listened and did what you were asked. You are not a naughty girl, you are not a spiteful girl, but my darling your listening ears have a tendency to fail, this is a new thing, a recent thing since your brother came along.

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I wanted to tell you I am sorry I shout, sometimes I fear it may not totally be justified, the shouting I mean I am so tired all the time and tired Mummy is not always the most patient Mummy. I am sorry that I can’t always play with you as much as I would like, your brother needs so much more attention than you right now but I want you to know that these things will change, as your brother gets bigger and needs less attention, as he begins to understand the world more, as he begins to understand us more.

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I want you to know that I have found this difficult too, and I have felt oh so guilty that I have changed your little world, that although we did everything we could to prepare you for all the changes, that it was still hard for all of us, our little family of three has become four. This is not something I would ever change, I love you both to the ends of the earth, and slowly but surely we are finding our way, our new way, the only way.

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I need you to know that I love you with all of my heart, with all of my being, you are my beautiful rainbow and you will never know how much joy you bring to mine and Daddy’s lives. I hope I will teach you to be strong and courageous, to be kind and to help others. I hope I will teach you that you can be anything you want to be, I hope I bring you up to be a good person, but most of all I wish for you to have a lifetime of happiness, filled with love and laughter and friendship.

I will love you for always, Mummy xxxxx

To my Angel

To my beautiful Angel,

You would be 3 right now, I don’t even know if you were a boy or a girl, but you would be three. I wonder would you have ginger hair too? Would you be as cheeky as your younger brother and sister? I am sure you would have been as beautiful as they are.

I am sorry I didn’t protect you well enough, that I failed you, I am sorry that you are not here, although I know that losing you means that Cora is here, and I cannot imagine my world without her, I know my world would be different if you were here. I have a terrible guilt inside to both of you, to you for wanting Cora to be and to her for wishing that you had made it too. I know I could never have all three of you, but I will always wish I could.

I think of you always, I wonder what you would have been like? What your likes and dislikes would be, who you would be. What colour your eyes would be, would you be a dot like Cora or a giant like William, would you look like me or Daddy or neither of us?

Anniversaries come and go, you due date, the day I lost you, and I know only Daddy and I really remember those days, they will be forever etched in our memories, well mine anyway. talking about them and you is hard for other people because they don’t know what to say, so I find myself talking to a select few, I am sure you know who they are and I know they know, most of whom have also lost a baby, but there are a special few who have not suffered this trauma, this grief, who talk about you too. It shouldn’t be like this, we should be able to talk about you.

You are and always will be part of our family, your brother and sister will know about you, you are on our family tree for all to see, where you belong, I wish we could’ve given you a name, but you will always be Baby.

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I need you to know that I love you and I miss you even though we never met, I so desperately wanted to meet you, with all of my heart. I am so sorry that we didn’t.

I will love you for always,

Mummy xxxx