Depth of a dream

*trigger warning – suicide*

I had a dream the other night. It is a little difficult to follow, but hang in and see if it makes any sense. All of this is my own interpretation of things that I have gone through. None of it is scientific, medical or anything like that.

In the dream there is a building which is being refurbished. There was a route through from the top to the bottom via rooms and staircases. Due to the renovation work the route is not complete, so you can go almost all the way from the top and down, but the final two floors are only accessible from the bottom up. It was a bit like a giant hamster cage with different interlinking compartments.

In my mind it is dark and I feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Feeling like I am fading away, I go into the building from the bottom and hide myself away in a room with a window. I can see out and watch all of my family start to miss me, speaking to each other, pointing, looking for me. It feels like it goes on for a few days while I remain in this room and cannot seem to get up and get out. I can’t even bang on the window. They never stop searching, I can hear them talking in the floors above me in the building, I carry on watching them as they become more and more frantic. I don’t move from my spot, I don’t seem to have any energy to help myself to leave this room. The logical part of me thinks “get up”, “why did you come in here”, “what are you doing”, ‘what is wrong with you”. In the dream I feel flat. Moving would require more effort than I am able for.

Eventually my father-in-law bursts through the door and carries me out. He is speaking to me but I can’t hear anything. This part of the dream doesn’t last long because it is where I wake up. It is also the part I find the most difficult to talk about because I know NOW that I am so glad that he has found me and will take me somewhere safe and that everything will be ok. I can sense his relief, his happiness at finding me. At that moment it is not shared by me.

Since having this dream I have not been able to stop thinking about it. What did it mean, what is my brain trying to process while I am asleep. I have had a lot of different thoughts about it and some of them have been scary to think about. I believe that when we dream, it is our minds working away going through what we have been experiencing.

Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of talk on social media –  especially instagram – about issues like suicide. Awareness is being brought to this horrific thing. Last week was maternal mental health week.  All of these campaigns are SO important, it is ok not to be ok. It is ok to ask for help. You are not alone and you are not crazy. There is no shame in getting help, there is no shame in going to the doctor. Taking steps to get yourself back into a better place are important and there is help out there. That cannot be said enough – when you are in a really dark place and you hear it, it is hard to believe. So I think the more it is said and drummed out, the more likely people will be, slowly, to accept that it’s ok, that they can and will be OK again!

During my recovery last year I had very, very low points as, I have said before. At the time I never fully admitted to anyone how dark or low I felt. In a way I don’t think I admitted it to myself. This dream seems like my minds way of taking all of the things that are floating around and putting them together in this story.

In the dream the house is busy but there are places no one goes.  I slip away feeling as if no one will notice, and even when I see that they DO notice I am too weak to do anything about it. The system is not working right, the path is blocked. It takes people a while to figure out how to access me, to realise where I am, to realise that I am not coming back on my own strength. Watching this dream play out was scary, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to come, I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to.

This is all probably very much a big ramble, but writing it out is therapy for me, if no one ever reads this it makes no difference. If you are still with me I hope that you can take away something that can either help you help yourself , or help you help someone else.

Being on the other side of it, my logical mind KNOWS that disappearing would have been the worst thing. I know that. I believe that. I don’t want to disappear. The point where  I am rescued, in the dream there is no sigh of relief. There is no overwhelming sense of gratitude towards my rescuer. The mind is a complex place, and when it is not working optimally the whole of your life in impacted. As I said being on the other side I am SO grateful for every single person who helped me through. There aren’t enough words to fully explain how thankful I am. I think that is why I find remembering some of these feelings so horrible. Imagine not wanting to be found, maybe even being a bit annoyed at being helped. Writing it makes me squirm a bit, however I want to be honest with myself and be real about how things can feel.

Most importantly I want to remember that no matter how dark things feel, there are people who love you. There are people who are searching for you. Who would give anything to help you.

If you have made it to the end then thank you! I appreciate it was likely similar to wading through porridge.

Until next time

Hazel-Ann x

Tots Bots Easyfit Star

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Around 7  years ago when my first child was a baby, a friend I had made online asked if I wanted to try a reusable nappy she really loved.  I had been using old school terry  nappies, and I really loved those, but this was called an “all in one” nappy. When I got my hands on it I knew it was going to be a game changer. That nappy was a Tots Bots Easyfit. (Back then they were on “version 2” which was one of the best they made. Version 3 was a flop, version 4 was ok..) But then came the “star” which launched in March 2016 when my third child was in nappies. This is my review of the Easyfit Star nappy, after using them every day for the last 3 years.

So let’s have a look at an easyfit star. This one is called Rainbeau and features the popular Grims rainbow design. This is an all in one nappy – meaning that there is a waterproof outside and an attached absorbent inside. The waterproof part is made of PUL which is very durable, the absorbent inner is a super thirsty bamboo tongue which you tuck into the pocket at the back. The leg cuffs are elasticated and the front fastens using velcro tabs and a long landing strip. There are also poppers on the front for adjusting the rise of the nappy, so it can fit from a small baby to a ready to potty train toddler.

Bamboo is a natural fibre, it takes up to 10 washes to reach its peak absorbency. You are advised therefore to pre wash it a few times, I admit I never do this. I am always far too excited to get the nappy on the bum!

The nappy truly lives up to its name, it is so easy to fit onto the baby. If you are transitioning from disposables to cloth nappies, this nappy will already make sense with its velcro fastening. Judging when to change the rise poppers will become apparent when your baby has grown and the nappy starts to not be long enough, the poppers don’t tend to come undone in the wash either so you don’t have to fiddle around with them until you need to.

I found they fit well from around 10lbs, the leg elastics on a new one will contain nearly any poonami your baby throws at you! And bamboo is so absorbent that even a heavy wetting toddler will last a few hours without wet patches. Another great thing about the nappy being bamboo is that it dose not compress in the way that microfibre, for example, does. So long naps in the sling or pushchair won’t result in leaks. Getting started with cloth nappies can be intimidating, I really do think that this nappy is an excellent example of a well thought out, tried and tested design.

This is my little squidger Henrie modelling some easy fit nappies at around 4 months old.  He was on the smallest set of poppers and weighed around 15lbs.

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My daughter Agnes modelling an easy fit star when she was 15 months and weighed around 24lbs. This was a Joules print which I adored.

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My nappy shelf back in 2016 featured a mixture of easy fit v4 and stars along with a few other brands. I have now collected more stars and phased out the v4s.

Washing and drying your Easyfit nappies is also *easy*. Take the nappy off the baby and fold over the velcro laundry tabs. I store my dirty nappies in a dry bucket and then transfer the to the machine when I am ready to do a wash. The long tongue always agitates itself out in the wash so you don’t have to pull it out before. I use non bio detergent and a 60C wash. I then line dry and finish off on a cool tumble. You can tumble dry straight from the washing machine.

By boosting your easyfit star with something like a double bamboo booster, you might get it to work as a night nappy, if you don’t have a heart wetting baby.

So how have they faired over the years?

Absorbency has not depleted, the PUL has stayed in really good condition. My only negative I have is the leg elastics, which have relaxed a lot. If using for one child this is not really an issue as they are always growing and the need for the elastics to be super tight isn’t there. However if you plan to use them for subsequent babies or resell them after, it is a bit of a let down. I am not sure if Tots Bots have any plans to do anything about this. This was not something that was as big an issue with the previous versions for me.

So where do you buy these nappies from?  I have purchased from various places and I also have an affiliate link for

which gives you a 10% discount. The Nappy Lady  and Tots Bots direct are also websites I have used. There are lots of retailers offering different things.

I hope this review has been helpful. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments. Thank you for reading!

Hazel Ann x

I will leave you with this cute video of Henrie scrambling around on my bed in his nappy.

Miracle drug … called exercise

I talked last week about how I was feeling emotionally one year on from having Henrie.

I wanted to document my physical progress too, I have been really enjoying exercising again, and the physical results always spur you on to keep going. Feeling strong physically gives a great mental boost I find.

Ok, so here I was last March with my 4 week old Henrie bear, how tiny and squishy was he! Again when he was 8 weeks old at our nephews wedding.  And then me now, a year on and feeling stronger and fitter. Not worrying about how much I weigh or anything like that, for me the real “prize” is having my mental health back and feeling strong.

My Jazzercise teacher is so lovely, and she is so talented! I go to her class which is only a few minutes away from me, for an hour, twice a week. I always look forward to class as it is my “me” time, dancing away my blues and sweating out my frustrations is the best therapy! On a Monday I also go to a class which I helped set up with my friend Jenny (who is one of those humans who seems to spin so many plates at once and always smiles!) It is called Boogie Beenies, you bring your baby in a sling and then boogie away to a whole mixture of music for 45 minutes while following Jenny’s direction. I am always on hand for any sling safety or comfort info. It is SO much fun!

Baby boy has been an absolute diamond since he arrived. Looking at the photos from his birthday weekend I am just in awe of how much he has grown, that I am still breast feeding this little monkey and my body didn’t “fail”, it has worked hard and over come so much.
Mammas give yourselves a pat on the back today when you look at your little humans. Because you have done an incredible thing growing them, whether we are talking in your belly, after you fostered or adopted them, helping them become big little people.

I am going to sign off now because as usual I am getting emotional and I like to ramble when that happens!

See you next time, thank you so much for reading!

Hazel Ann Xx

One year on

A year ago today I was having a brilliant day with my yoga teacher and a photographer, on a beach in winter, taking photos of a pregnancy yoga sequence. Little Henrie hanging out inside my belly. IMG_4136That’s me, feeling like a real warrior with my bare feet in the sand and my big bump.

I chose this as the way I wanted to remember the end of my pregnancy. What followed in the next few days was not what I had imagined. Talking about it and being as honest as I can, I hope that other people can identify and maybe not feel so alone.

Tuesday last, I was at the nurse having a smear test (if yours is due – go book it NOW!). We couldn’t believe it had been nearly a year since I had spent all that time going back and fore to the health centre trying to get my c section wound to heal. She asked me if I was now fully recovered,  when I answered I really believed that “Yes! I am doing great”. In that moment I whole heartedly felt like I was “healed”. The negative thoughts that at times had threatened to swallow me at different points felt so far away. Physically I am feeling really well, enjoying exercising and my life is full of the things I enjoy.

Over the weekend some things happened which brought back the memories of those days, the black days, and I was sort of plunged back into the well. I had to go and lie down at one point because I could feel a panic attack starting to rise up.

So I guess the point here is that, no, I am not actually as “over it” as I thought. While I am excited about celebrating a whole year of Henrie, there is a shadow.  I feel like I am banging a drum and no one really cares a lot of the time. What happened to me is no where near what happens to some people. That kind of thoughts are not helpful either though, just because your experience isn’t “as bad” , doesn’t mean it can’t affect you. Doesn’t mean that you are not “allowed” to find it hard to deal with.

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My focus is that it is ok to not be ok about it. Even when I thought I was ok. Speaking to a friend the other week, we were saying how becoming a mother changes you, and that the experience you have in labour and delivery changes you. Talking about that, being open and honest is needed. Pretending it is always lovely and perfect doesn’t stop other people from having a difficult time, physically, mentally. Your health comprises of both of those things. Look after yourself, whoever you are. You are important.

Hazel Ann x

Meet the family

Welcome back!

I have been retrieving things I have written over the past years and starting to pen other things which have been floating around in my mind.

I thought it would probably be more sensible to introduce myself and our family.

So… I amHazel Ann, Christian, wife, mother to four. I have a lot of different interests, I often struggle to feel like I “fit in” with different groups. I run a sling library with my friend Louise , serve as chair person of a voluntary organisation promoting cloth nappies, enjoy jazzercise and getting outside. I love clothes and beauty and spend a lot (too much) time on Instagram.

My husband is an engineer, and crofter. The croft is something he was brought up with and he is so passionate about it. Self sufficiency is a long term goal of his.  He is a private person, has no social media outlets! He’s got a really good eye for photography. He is a very good egg. (Sorry for that vom fest of sop!)

Then there are our four children! Basically the reason I breathe. They are loud, loving, wild… free range. Living where we do, in the middle of no where, they have a lot of freedom to roam. They do also watch TV and beg me to go on YouTube. I won’t pretend to be some kind of amazing mother who can survive without a bit of TV babysitting while I get things done. Maybe those mothers exist somewhere but not in my house..

Add in all of our animals – a cat, a dog, some hens, a few cows and then the oooooodles of sheep.

I started this blog a long time ago and then neglected it. I find it very therapeutic to turn my brain soup into words and then save them away. Anyone reading this I hope some of my rambles make you smile, feel less alone and give you an insight into what our little life is like.

Down, up and down again

I have always been a “planner”. I like to know what is happening when, I like to be in control as much as possible. I can go with the flow so long as that is what I have planned. 

Throw in motherhood. Genuinely I had imagined being someone who was ruled by routine, however I turned out not to be quite what I foresaw and my version of routine was going to the same things every week rather than my actual baby being on a “schedule”.

I found something in motherhood that clicked and gave me confidence rather than take it away. Prior to being a Mam I guess I was not really confident in much, I am one of those people who doesn’t always naturally fit in anywhere. There was a moment while I was at university that I stopped caring about what people thought of me, didn’t overthink to as crazy a degree, I guess you could call it a turning point. I felt clearer and it was freeing not to constantly try to guess what other people were thinking of me all the time. Then a few years later, becoming a Mam I was happy just fitting in with my own family. My husband, baby and I were “us”, and belonging there was more important than belonging anywhere else.

When my first two children were baby and toddler, other mothers would make comments to me about how together I always seemed, which is really hilarious as I am not a “together” kind of person in my own eyes. I liked being out and about, meeting people, talking to other parents, getting involved in things. I would get nervous before I went somewhere new, but the draw of it was always enough to get me out of my house and then out of the car and into whatever it was. And that must have seemed “together”. It did not always feel like that, spending the whole drive talking myself in and out of it.

After our third child was born I was much more governed by nursery runs, and so my exploring of new things lessened. We were in a routine, with the same activities from week to week, this is what suits me and how I thrive best.

While pregnant with our fourth child I never really imagined life being hugely different. I was “experienced” now, wasn’t I? People would ask how many children I had and when I pointed at my belly and said this was number 4, I got lots of different reactions. In my head I knew what was coming. Turns out I was pretty wrong about a lot of it..

There is a debate that I have in my head often about what terms to use to describe how I have felt over the last 10 months. Have I had post natal depression? Have I just been dealing with harder circumstances?

I posted about Henrie’s birth before, about how we had an “elective c section” – that I didn’t want.  Looking back, it seems like it took me a long time to come to terms, in my mind, with what happened. My body basically refused to accept what had happened too and took months to heal. That was not a good start. For a person who loves to be out and about being confined to barracks was hard.

Being negative is not something I enjoy, so while I don’t want this to be really doom and gloom, the truth is that a lot of the last months have felt like that. It has felt like a big black storm cloud has just been following me around.

Last week I hosted our second fourth trimester group, we had a play therapist visiting and she was talking about mindfulness for parents. I really enjoyed her talk, so much of what she was saying resonated with me. I was able to talk about how I have felt since Henrie was born without becoming really emotional, seeing it as a period which I have moved out of rather than being stuck in.

I want to talk more about all of this because I feel like it is so helpful for processing. Birth trauma is something which I am learning more and more about all the time. I want to leave this link here for anyone who is feeling like they want to get help after having a baby and everything not feeling rosy.

A bumpy ride, that is how to describe how it’s been. At the moment things feel almost normal, but now I have learned that could change tomorrow. The good days well out number the bad ones which is great. Bad days are still a thing, and they are no fun for anyone. I love that I have friends who I can just say “I am having a rubbish day” and not worry that they are judging me or think they need to say something magic to make it better. It does get better, it might take a while, but there is always hope.

Hazel-Ann x

Nursing in style

img_4609Hello again,

This post is about breast feeding fashion, I have been either pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last 8 years, I am 29 so that is almost a third of my life  :O

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Breastfeeding is something that I hoped to do when I was pregnant with my first baby. I mentally set myself up that I would give it my best shot, if it didn’t work out it didn’t matter.

It did work out, and it is something that I really treasure. I have gone on to be able to feed, and enjoy feeding all our 4 babies.

After Henrie was born I logged onto my facebook and had a few tags from friends in a post by Chico Jack’s. They were looking for brand reps so I entered…. and they picked me, along with a few other lovely ladies. I had heard of them before but had not made any purchases, I now have several pieces from them – the twinning sets won a LovedByParents award this year too.

(How cute does Henrie look here!)

My usual “go to” clothes style in winter is a wrap dress, tights and boots. I wear a vest top underneath for warmth and because I am not a fan of lots of cleavage on show. Shirts and jeans, or two tops to do the “one up, one down method” which is literally just pulling up your tshirt and down your vest for feeding access.

Often I hear people saying how “annoying” it must be to have to wear “feeding clothes”, that is not how I view it myself. There are some items of clothing that just don’t work (high neck dresses, non stretch dresses are the main things I don’t even look at) otherwise I feel like most things you can work around. I have lots of thin vests which I wear tucked into my trousers, this allows you to pull up your t-shirt without exposing flesh (side note – I don’t feel comfortable showing a lot of flesh, this is not me saying you shouldn’t) .

The Chico Jacks tops have a zip across the front which means that you can zip across when you are feeding, and then zip back up again after, without pulling your top up.

These skater dresses have sneaky little zippers. (My legs… they are in winter mode now – if you know… you know 🙈 – so someone maybe pass me some fake tan..

I wore this maxi dress for a wedding we went to in the summer. I had lots of compliments on it which is a confidence boost when you are at a wedding with your baby. I always feel really exposed and sometimes some people feel like they need to make an assessment of how you look!? I’m sure they don’t mean it like that.

Another fab thing I have found is the website Silk Fred who have a section for breastfeeding dresses and a few jumpsuits. I wish more websites did this filter.

Some of my favourite places to shop are Boden (best for wrap dresses and tops), H&M (great for button tops and dresses), Zara and Joules. Because of where I live, there are next to no “real” shops, I have to shop online. When I go away to the “big smoke” and can go into actual shops I do go to Primark and have a few things from there, my sister sends me odd things I see online that I want from there too (she lives in civilisation!)

If you are over on instagram there are some really great people you can follow @dresslikeamum @feedinstyle and then there is the hashtag whatmamaworemonday which @heyitsromeca and @stylemotherbeat host weekly.

Nursing clothes DO NOT have to be frumpy or ugly. They don’t even have to look like nursing clothes, I haven’t even mentioned places like JojoMamanBebe and Mamas and Papas who do nursing clothes because I don’t really shop there, and I find that a lot of their items are maternity/nursing clothes which can be super unflattering when you don’t want to look pregnant anymore..! If you are on facebook there is a great group “can I breastfeed in it uk” which people post finds and inspiration on all the time.

Thanks for reading, please leave comments with your tips and favourite shops for breastfeeding friendly clothes below.

Hazel-Ann x