How To Eat A Rainbow In A Week and Ways to Help your Children Eat Healthy too

So many people are looking for healthier choices in the wake of this awful pandemic. The fitter and healthier we are, hopefully the stronger we will all be if and when we need to be. So in this post I will be giving you all some ideas on how to eat a Rainbow worth of healthy foods in a week. I once read a study that said its about variety over quantity, so now I try and mix it up each week.

TOP TIP: An easy way to get veg into children is to add tiny cut up amounts into casseroles or anything which has a sauce or gravy to disguise any strong tastes. I like the bags of tiny frozen veg you can buy, just tip a mugs amount into every meal you make.

TOP TIP: If you are doing any baby led weaning, here are some ways that you can cut up fruit and vegetables to make it easier for children to pick up and eat.

Here are some inspirational colours of Fruit and Vegetables that you could use for your week enjoying an Edible Rainbow of Food.

RED

Strawberries
Raspberries
Tomatoes
Apple

Chilli
Pepper

Cherries
Cranberry
Grapefruit

Pomegranate
Red Currants
Red Onions
Water Melon

ORANGE

Oranges
Carrots

Apricot
Pepper
Peach
Squash
Nectarine

Pumpkin
Papaya

YELLOW

Mango
Lemon
Pepper
Sweetcorn
Pineapple

GREEN

Lettuce and Leaves
Avocado
Spinach
Kale
Kiwi
Apples
Lime
Leeks
Pears
Chilli
Pepper
Cucumber
Courgette
Spring Onions

Honeydew Melon

BLUE

Blueberries
Acai Berries

PURPLE

Blackberries
Black Currants
Red Cabbage
Aubergine
Carrot

Grapes
Plums


I love nothing more than to eat a big bowl of berries with some Vegan yoghurt on top for my pudding.

I started my son on fruit and vegetables when he was really young, a large variety at his weaning stage. Because it’s really important that children eat healthily to get the necessary vitamins and minerals they need for their growth and development. And if you start them young, the more likely it is that they continue to eat that variety as they grow up.

Here are some examples and TOP TIPS that I use to get my toddler to eat his fruit.

Toddler Size! Cut up into ideal sizes and shapes to minimise choking hazards and also to inspire them to pick them up themselves. My son prefers to eat some things independently.

Make It Fun! Whether you sing a song about a Rainbow, or the Birds Eye Vegetables Advert, make food fun! Kids think things are funny and that will bring a positive energy to the scenario. I remember giving my son a piece of Mango for the first time, he must have dropped it about ten times before getting it to his mouth. He thought the slipperiness of it was hilarious! Then realised how great it tasted and there was no stopping him.

My Son has some Fave Fruit Combos!

Bowl of Mixed Berries
Mango Chunks and Melon Chunks
Apple Slices and Shapes

My Son’s Bowl of Fruit Versus My Bowl of Fruit


Some children need encouragement when it comes to eating their fruit and vegetables, check out these awesome phrases in the diagram below to get you started. You should always stick to the facts, fun and inspiring things to tell your children and young adults. Do not use language that will confuse, stick to what actually happens when they eat their greens.

Eating A Rainbow In A Week

Monday

Strawberry Yoghurt with Apple Slices
Glass of Cranberry Juice
Fajitas with Red Pepper Slices and Tomato Salsa
Bowl of Strawberries and Raspberries

Tuesday

Peach and Passionfruit Yoghurt with Peach or Orange Slices
Glass of Orange Juice
Carrot and Coriander Soup
Stir Fry with Carrots and a (Orange) Pepper

Wednesday

Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Mash and Sweetcorn
Mango Chunks

Thursday

Kiwi Fruit cut up into some Plain Yoghurt
A Pear and an Apple
Salad with tasty leaves, crispy lettuce, spring onion and cucumber slices
Beef Stir Fry with Green Pepper, Green Chilli, Leeks and Spinach


Friday

Blueberries in Plain or Vanilla Yoghurt

Saturday

Blackberry Yoghurt with added Blackberries

Blackcurrant Cheesecake

Sunday

Mix it up! Choose some of your favourites from the week, try something new, make up your own recipe or go with other colours of food such as Pink, White or Black! Plenty of unusual fruit and veg out there!

Thank you for reading this post today, I hope you have gotten some fun ideas of things to try with your children and your weekly fruit and veg.

✩ Sabrina ✩

Ways I Manage My Chronic Illness, Endometriosis


I am an Endo Warrior.

I truly believe that conditions like Endometriosis need to talked about, by the people who are living with it every day. Like I am. I was diagnosed eleven years after first getting unexplained symptoms and reoccurring problems. The average time frame for diagnosis is seven years, it is just too long.

Today in this post I am going to be talking about the ways in which I manage my own Endo symptoms and how I help myself be at my most well.

I last had surgery in 2016 including a bowel resection and my organs cut away from extensive Stage 4 Endo, I had an Endometrium mass the size of a tennis ball attached to my bowel, bladder and left ovary, the majority this Endo which was removed by my specialist. I had IVF in 2017 and gave birth to my son, naturally in 2018. Since then I have been Breastfeeding my son which has helped with some of my symptoms. They began returning with pain nine months after I gave birth and have continued to worsen.

Every person with Endometriosis is different and can have different symptoms and varying degrees of problems and pains.


My Diet

Once I had given birth to my son and found out he had multiple food allergies, I made the decision to cut these items from my diet in order to keep breastfeeding him. This included going completely dairy free, no fresh eggs and no nuts. I was able to have a minimal amount of Soya Milk and Coconut based alternatives.

About nine months after I had given birth my menstrual cycle returned, as did my pains. They got progressively worse as the months went on. Despite breastfeeding still, and I also began noticing other symptoms returning too.

I was bloated such a lot which added to my discomfort, so I made the decision to also cut out white bread and have a 50/50 type instead, to also reduce my general Gluten intake by half, and to eat more high fibre foods. I eat less pasta now and more rice instead. As someone who eats cereal every morning and attempts to get a minimum of five fruit and vegetables a day, I felt I lived a fairly healthy diet and lifestyle.

I have noticed a vast improvement in my symptoms since doing all this, I generally have a lot less abdominal flare ups which are often like IBS symptoms. I tested this theory several times this summer with the reintroduction of both dairy and gluten over a twenty four hour time frame, and I paid for it the day after with both severe pain and other digestive issues. This proved all I needed to know, that I was better off not consuming these items. I find I can have things such as a small amount of dairy, like chocolate chips in a cookie, and this small amount makes very little difference. But if I were to eat a chocolate bar, eat pasta with a cream sauce or a cheese pizza for example, I would be poorly the next day.

I must stress that I do eat lots of fruit and vegetables, I drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day, and I do not drink any coffee, tea or alcohol. I only drink flat fizzy drinks and I consume very little else except for additional water based liquids or occasional fruit juice or smoothies.

Every person is different of course, but you should consider keeping a food diary and perhaps cutting out a few things, one by one over at least seven days to see if you have any improvement. I shall talk more about a diary later on.

Let us now take a look at the Cycle Symptoms of Endometriosis.


Symptoms Associated with Endometriosis.

There are many varied symptoms that Endo sufferers have to deal with (most are listed in the image above). And the pain levels that people can have will vary too. Because we are all different it is impossible to know the severity of ones pain against another. Pain levels should never be compared nor dismissed, and if you have a doctor do this to you and not take you seriously then you should get a different opinion.

I made my own Health Diary Planner where I put in what I have eaten and what symptoms I have, what cycle day I’m on and I can also note my pain levels. It’s important to do all this so that a specialist can look at the correlations between your lifestyle and diet and your symptoms. Check out the diagram above and match any symptoms that you have, check against your cycle day and your diet. Look at what changes you can make easily and see if they help. Something as simple as drinking more water and cutting out some gluten could help with bloating (usually associated with hormone changes) for example. See what you could do to help yourself feel better.

Please feel free to save my diary template to your phone and track your own symptoms, it may help when you see a specialist.


Food Versus Health Diary

A long time ago when I was first diagnosed, my specialist advised that I keep track of my ups and downs. I decided to do this but one better, by learning about my Cycle, my Pains, my Food and my Digestive patterns and also my other Endo symptoms.

Sometimes things can correlate and they become frequent enough for you to begin to understand why they are happening. For example, I get Ovulation Pain, and by keeping track of my cycle on an app, it gives me a rough estimate of when this might happen. I then make sure I have pain killers on hand if it is bad, and I ensure I eat more cleanly and avoid anything that would increase my pain such as consuming too much gluten.

I can advise anyone on an Endometriosis journey to keep track of their body to help them to understand what it is telling them. Please feel free to save my Grid above and use it to track your own symptoms.


Ways I Manage My Pain

Pain is something that I often choose to cope with until it starts to affect my day or affect the way I am caring for my son. Because I am breastfeeding I am limited to the amounts and types of medication that I can currently take. Usually two 500mg Paracetamol plus Caffeine every four hours like clockwork on my bad days. I can take Ibuprofen too, but I find if I have a bad stomach this actually makes me feel more unwell so avoid it at the current time.

So I do rely on a few alternatives too. Hot Water Bottles are favourable especially at night time. I also have elasticated waist pyjamas because any additional pressure on my abdomen makes me feel worse.

The most important thing when in pain is to be comfortable and to keep hydrated. Especially if your pain levels are at their worst during your period. I usually struggle to put on tight clothing during certain times in my cycle and have a lot of items in my wardrobe for practicality.

Check out the Endometriosis UK Website for more help and support


Thank you for reading this blog post today, I hope that you have found my thoughts beneficial and if you have any further questions you can search Endometriosis on my blog, or on a search engine, or just ask me directly, if I can help you then I will certainly try.

Other Endometriosis Pieces On My Blog HERE

✩ Sabrina ✩

Matalan Memory Foam Pumps Review – Are they as comfortable as they look?

At the start of Lockdown it dawned on me that I didn’t have any comfortable footwear for walking in, that wasn’t a heavy walking boot or an uncomfortable flat shoe. None of what I had was suitable for the hot weather that was forecast either, so one afternoon while my son took a nap, I scoured the internet looking for something to suit me. I have awkward feet, let’s say that!

Not only were there so many different pumps and trainers out there to choose from, but I also couldn’t afford to spend a lot either. So I looked for a shoe with a gripped base and comfortable inside, ideal enough for my wide foot but a shape that would also grip my tiny ankles (I told you I was awkward!).

Usually I wouldn’t even consider buying shoes online, I would normally wait and do it all in store, so little fits me properly, but it was the end of April and with no sign of the virus easing I decided to take the risk and order online for home delivery.

In the end I chose a Matalan pump, it had Memory Foam inside and a gripped sole on the base. It contours to your feet and allows a good grip too.

Product Name: Black Memory Foam Slip On Pumps
Product Price: £12.00
Product Information: Also available in Grey. Sink your feet into maximum comfort with these sumptuously soft slip-ons. Constructed with a plush memory foam insock, which contours to your feet, additional features include a black marl outer, alongside a contrasting white chunky cleated sole for added grip and sturdiness.
Product Link: Matalan

As you can see the pumps fitted me well, I chose a Size 4 despite having one foot slightly larger. My reason behind this was because I read the online reviews people had written on the Matalan website, and many people had said these particular style of pumps were a little on the large size and not true to size for some wearers.

So I tried walking in them on warm days, with and without wearing socks. I found that my feet sweated far more in the memory foam without the barrier of a sock between my skin and the memory foam. I decided that after that day I would always wear socks with them, and they were incredibly comfortable.

Easy to walk in and light and gentle on your feet. The shoes themselves are so lightweight it gives you no additional effort to walking.

Over all I am very happy with these pumps, the purchase price was very good for something so versatile and comfortable. It is annoying that my feet sweat so much and that I will have to wear socks with them when out walking for more than a few minutes, however for the price, I don’t mind that and have plenty of trainer socks to pair with them.

Are they as comfortable as they look? Yes! Even more so. The material is super soft, they are lightweight to lift your feet and they are well made and sturdy too. They are well sewn up together, very neatly over all and the soles have got plenty of grip for any outdoor wear. I wore these on grass and pavement and stone paths, and the grip was excellent throughout the various terrain.

I can definitely recommend these pump shoes, I would even be tempted to get another colour in the future when these begin to wear out. They currently do them in Black and Grey. I wonder if Matalan will release any other colours too? Perhaps a question to ask…

My Final Review Scores

Quality of Product 5/5
Product Price 5/5
Design of Product 5/5

Comfort During Use 4/5

I have walked around 5 miles in these pumps now over the last few weeks, and the soles have barely worn, so I hope they last me a long time.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review today, if you have any questions about the product then please leave me a comment below. Thank you for visiting Severn Wishes.

✩ Sabrina ✩

Sabrina’s Tips On How To Make Your Food Go Further

Chicken Stir Fry with Noodles and Peppers

If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you’ll know that food is a huge passion of mine. Coming up with new recipes and experimenting is a hobby of mine. But today, with all this talk about panic buying amidst this deadly virus, I couldn’t help but think, what can I do now to help others…

My epiphany was this! My Ideas On How To Make Your Food Go Further!

There are certain things that most of us keep in our kitchen during week to week shops or our larger monthly stock ups, so I wanted to focus on those to begin with. The issue right now is that due to bulk panic buying some of our staples are very hard to get a hold of. Take a look at the meals below to see if any of them would appeal to you or your family. Then see how you can make them go further with my recipe adjustments.

All of these recipes are my own, so if you wish to recreate one please credit me and notify me on where you have used it, thank you.

Keep those handy takeaway boxes ready to freeze any leftover freshly cooked meals, extra vegetables or leftover homemade sauces.

Author: Severn Sabrina
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 people
Allergens: Wheat Flour, Barley and Soya in the Gravy Granules

COTTAGE PIE
Serves 4 to 6 people (sometimes with leftovers if its children’s portions)
Ingredients

1 or 2 Large White Onion – Diced
3 or 4 Large Carrots – Diced
500g Mince Beef – Cooked & put through a processor to make smaller pieces
1kg Potatoes – Cooked and Mashed
Gravy Granules – I use the Bisto Onion Gravy Granules
Additional foods to add to make it go further…
Baked Beans x 1 Tin
Mixed Dice Vegetables x 1 Cup
~~~
Most people will have a bag of frozen veg or veg that needs to be used up. Dicing it up small and adding it to your cottage pie gravy is a great way to get extra veg into children as well as help an adult get their 5 or more a day! Same with the tin of beans! Pour off a little sauce if there is lots in the tin, but the tomato sauce actually helps you to get a lovely gravy. The beans bulk out the cottage pie filling while adding your veg in take. You can even add all of this into a large casserole dish, and cook it in the oven for an hour, even the veg if cut small enough will cook in the gravy, locking in all the vitamins…

My Cottage Pie is a family favourite! If you cannot get fresh meat then using a tin of Minced Beef and Onion would work just as well!

Author: Severn Sabrina
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 people
Allergens: Dairy will be present in Naan Bread if you choose it as a side

CHICKEN CURRY
(You can use one of my Recipes already on my blog for the method)
Serves 4 to 6 people (sometimes with leftovers if its children’s portions)
Ingredients

2 Large White Onion – Diced and Chopped into two sizes
50g Tomato Puree (this is for your homemade sauce)
2 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes (for your sauce)
500g of Chicken cut into bite size pieces
100g of Yoghurt, I use Dairy Free Coconut Yoghurt
Serve with Rice and / or Naan Bread
Sauce – I prefer to make my own to my taste but you can use a jar of sauce, but if you do use a jar you only need 1 Tin of the Chopped Tomatoes. You then add curry spices like Cumin, Paprika, Garam Masala and Chilli. As well as Garlic and Coriander usually! (See my Recipes for more on making sauce and a method for the curry too).
Additional foods to add to make it go further…
New Potatoes x 1 Tin (They’ll cook in the sauce on a low heat for 20 mins)
1 or 2 Peppers Sliced thinly (fry these a little with your onion then add)
Cauliflower Diced up x 1 Cup (Chopped small it will cook in the sauce)

Here is one of my recent Curry dishes, this one was with extra Peppers and Potatoes

Author: Severn Sabrina
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 people
Allergens: Check Jar if you purchase a sauce, otherwise none.

CHILLI CON CARNE
Serves 4 to 6 people (sometimes with leftovers if its children’s portions)
Ingredients

2 Large White Onion – Diced
4 Large Carrots – Diced
1 Tin of Plum Tomatoes (they are sweeter but you need to chop them)
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes (you could use 2 of these and no plum if easier)
500g Mince Beef or Pork or both – Cooked & then put through a processor to make the pieces of meat smaller – or use Quorn or Soya Mince
1 Tin of Red Kidney Beans
Serve with Rice
Sauce – I use a packet or a jar for convenience but you can make a sauce, you have done the basics with the tomatoes already. So add the tomatoes to a bowl, then add Cumin, Garlic and Chilli to your own taste.
Additional foods to add to make it go further…
Baked Beans x 1 Tin (some people don’t like Red Beans so you could use Baked Beans (Haricot Beans) instead.
Peppers – as many or as little as you like, if one needs using up do it!
Mixed Dice Vegetables x 1 Cup (You can add other basic veg if you don’t have enough or you want to do a vegetarian style chilli).

✩ ✩ ✩

Author: Severn Sabrina
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 people
Allergens: Check the Jar of Sauce if you buy one.

SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN
Serves 4 to 6 people
Ingredients
500g Chicken Breast (Diced) or a Vegetarian Alternative
Tin of Pineapple – Cut into Small Chunks – 1 Ring per person
Peppers – 1 Yellow and 1 Red Cut into Small Long Pieces
1 Large Onion – Diced into Small Long Pieces
2 Carrots – I Peel and Slice them with the Peeler into long thin shards!
Serve with Rice
Sauce – I always buy a cheap jar of sauce, the cheaper the better!
Alternatives
This dish is so easy to make and these flavours are quite specific, if you aren’t keen on that much pineapple then do one ring total or leave it out but then you should add more of the other ingredients.



Fresh meat, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables are hard to get hold of in my area right now. When I did a home delivery order most of what I asked for was either out of stock or I was given a substituted alternative closest to what I wanted. This was very inconvenient and I have ended up spending 4 hours in total, chopping, peeling and bulk freezing some of the fresh veg before it went bad. I created mixed veg bags including a stir fry mix!

TOP TIP: Only make a freezer portion size for what you or your family members would eat at a meal time! Then there is no waste when you defrost it to use!

Washed, Chopped and Sliced, Ready to Freeze. MY TOP TIP always squeeze the air out of the freezer bags before popping them into the freezer to save space!

You can make 6 portions of Vegetable Stir Fry using the following raw vegetables, washed, chopped and ready to cook or freeze:
3 Coloured Peppers – 1/2 a sliced pepper per portion
1 Broccoli Head – cut into thin stems
1kg Carrots – I use a peeler to slice mine into strips
1 White Onion for every 2 Portions – Diced into small chunks
~ Add any of the following to make it go further and become 8 portions~
Water Chestnuts – I use Tinned x 1
Bamboo Shoots – I use Tinned x 1

Adding Noodles OR Rice on the Day you make the Stir Fry for extra bulking out of your food. Either use 1 Packet of Stir Fry Noodles once your veg is cooked, or a packet of Microwave Noodles or a Microwave Rice (all down to your preference) and one of these makes this meal double in amount.

Using a bought Sauce or Making a Sauce?

Adding a bought sauce to this stir fry is great, but if you’re feeding more than 4 people then 1 jar is only just enough. TOP TIP: Make sure you add 2 cm of warm or hot water to the bottom of the jar, replace the lid and give it a good shake, add this to your stir fry, no sauce left in the jar and wasted!

Don’t be scared of not using all the sauce, you can you half, replace the lid and use the rest within 2 or 3 days usually (always check the label).

Alternatives for Sauce… Make your own!
You will need… Garlic fresh or paste, Ginger fresh or paste, Sweet Chilli Sauce or Chilli Sauce (if you like it hot!) Salt, Pepper and Chinese Five Spice! I prefer the pastes as it makes things so easy!

In a small bowl mix up a tablespoon of everything above! Less of the hot chilli though unless you like it spicy! Add more or less and experiment with the taste until it’s to your preference. Add this to your stir fry when you add the noodles. One of each paste does me around 7 or 8 stir fry’s or Chinese orientated meals. Chinese Five Spice goes a long way too!

A Pasta Bake is also a great way to use up Vegetables about to go stale and any leftover sandwich meats or leftover sausages for example. This is a firm fave of mine, bacon chunks, peppers and tomato!

I really hope I have given you some inspiration on some family favourites and ideas on how you can make them go a lot further during this difficult time. You can of course substitute the meats for vegetarian alternatives or swap out the vegetables you don’t like for others too.

Experiment with what you’ve got to use up and so long as you’re making healthy meals with vegetables in you’re already winning for the day! If you liked any of my meals after making them please leave me a comment, I would love to know how you got on.

Is there anything you would like to cook but need some help with? I’m an experienced cook and perhaps have experience of the dish, please comment and ask me 🙂 I’m happy to help!

Stay In and Stay Safe Friends. I might go do some baking now I’m done with my savoury cooking! If you’re after sweet treats check out those recipes that are on my blog already too!

✩ Sabrina ✩

Endo & Me ~ Endometriosis Awareness March 2020

In coordination with Endometriosis Awareness month this March 2020 I am going to be telling my diagnosis story. I know I have talked about my Endo in many of my posts, but this is the real true and honest story of mine. I will also be sharing statistics, symptoms and other information, as well as giving links to the websites you might find useful to find more out about Endometriosis if you wish to.

Not only is this going to be emotional post, it is raw, and it could also be disturbing for others. I am choosing to share some pictures post surgery too. I will therefore by putting a Trigger Warning on this post, because I am showing pictures but also talking about things that may upset others.

Please don’t let this put you off reading it, I think people need to see what effect this horrible condition can have upon the body. The female body already endures so much, so to have to deal with this condition too, it is exhausting. I should know.

There was light at the end of the tunnel for me, so this post does end on a positive, but I do believe more people need to realise the repercussions of having this debilitating and incurable condition.

Please continue reading now as I tell my story of pain, loss and eventual diagnosis.

Endo and Me

I have a love hate relationship with my body. Sometimes I love that I have a fast metabolism, it keeps me slim and I’m generally quite fit and strong despite my thin frame and small bones… however the Endo side of me causes unimaginable pain at times. It’s a chronic and incurable illness that doesn’t just affect your period like so many ignorant and uneducated people might believe. It is so much more than that because a number of things that happen to you can have a real negative affect on your life as well as your body. Let’s start at the beginning for me. I first had issues with my body when I was around fifteen years of age. I began getting unusual pain that I had to take medication for. All you could get at that age was paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets which were 200mg a piece and trust me; they barely touched the sides of my pain. As I got older I began having more symptoms, I didn’t know back then they were to do with Endometriosis. Except that whenever I sat in front of a doctor they tried to tell me it was anything and everything but that, it was never even mentioned. When I was seventeen I lost weight suddenly and quickly, I was tested for Thyroid issues and even Cancer! All tests came back negative and I tried to just deal with my awful periods and pains. Doctors were reluctant to explore further, so I let it go. At 19 I was fed up with the ridiculously heavy flow I had every month and the fact that I had no regular cycle, it was so exhausting and an anxious time. So after some persuasion on my part, I went on to a contraceptive pill. Regulating my cycle was a bonus of the tablets, and for the first time in my life I could be social with confidence. By knowing when things would be occurring allowed me to be at home with my hot water bottle and tablets when I needed to be.

When I was 25 I came off all medication in the hope of starting a family. Little did I know that all the pill had done for years was masking other symptoms of my Endo. When I had been off it for just six months I had such pain that it began affecting my everyday life. I cancelled social time with friends and family, I ended up avoiding things that I usually enjoyed because I was worried about being unwell in front of people. This caused me to suffer with anxiety, and that never went away, it just got worse as years went by… and so did my pain.

When I failed to conceive for years I went to my doctor and had various tests, blood tests for Thyroid, Hormones and Vitamin Deficiency amongst them. Then when everything came back with no issues and my pains were so bad that they affected me daily, I began seeking more answers. Endometriosis or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome was just two conditions that female members of my blood line suffer with. I must have told this to over a dozen doctors over the years. There are correlations between female genes that are often ignored. It wasn’t until I finally conceived after three years of trying, and then I tragically miscarried, that I ended up in Accident and Emergency every four weeks when I got my period, and I began getting sussed on this…

When I lost my baby I blamed myself and it made me depressed. I was so unwell physically I just didn’t know to what extent just yet.

So to help my state of mind I kept a diary, what I ate, what I did daily, what my pains were and where, I kept track of my cycle down to the hour and tried to make sense of it all. I looked for answers online and anything that told me what it could possibly be. Going in and out of hospital with no answers was exhausting, and it was wasting so much time too.

One afternoon I had written out all of my symptoms and matched them to the condition Endometriosis. All I wanted was someone to take me seriously and try and attempt to diagnose me. Instead I was in hospital nine times over the course of eighteen months. I had one MRI, seven ultrasounds, I went on a drip three times due to dehydration, I was given antibiotics twice, I had examinations with five internal swabs checking for infections… Nothing came back with anything concrete. On an ultrasound they told me that I had had a cyst that had burst. That time I ended up almost passing out in the bathroom at home from the pains, I was vomiting and couldn’t keep anything down. A&E was the only option when I had so much blood loss and was so sick from pain that I became dehydrated and needed a drip.

When I was admitted during the period that came after I lost my first child it was clear that I was incredibly ill and needed help. I had doctors who wanted to take me to surgery to check my appendix and my bowel, but I kept telling them it was Gynaecological. After I had a complete meltdown and shouting because I was kept nil by mouth for three whole days while two doctors argued over what to do with me, a lovely doctor who was a cancer specialist offered to do a basic laparoscopy on me that evening, to simply look inside me and take some pictures, so I could be passed on to whichever department I needed to be. This was the turning point for me; it was the start of my actual diagnosis. Over thirteen years since my first unexplained pains had begun…

It was severe. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis, with a mass the size of a Tennis Ball attaching my Left Ovary, Bladder, Bowel and Womb to each other. My organs were all pulled off to the left side of my body, which was contributing to other symptoms that I was having, including bloating, bowel pain and problems, pain when I had a full bladder and pain during intercourse. The pictures that were taken inside my body showed extensive Endometriosis, like a mesh of tissue, thick cobwebs and various sized pockets of blood. At this time I had been ill for a long time, and I had lost weight, I was a size 6 and I didn’t feel like me anymore. The pain was all I knew some days. Having a diagnosis was like a light bulb had been turned on in my darkened room…

I was lucky because there was an Endo Gynaecologist Specialist at my local hospital. After speaking with him he agreed to operate, to try and save my left ovary. I wanted to be a mother so badly and he understood this. We also agreed to check for reasons why I couldn’t carry a baby thus far, four years of trying and a miscarriage was an indication things weren’t right. And he wanted to find out if it was all down to this Endo and the position of my organs. He would also do the dye test on my Fallopian tubes while I was under to see if they were clear of Endo too.

So I was popped onto his waiting list for surgery twelve weeks later. Every day was hard during that time, it was a blur of medication and hot water bottles and I had to give up work and go off sick after trying and failing to do my shifts and ending up just collapsing. After dealing with the chronic pains during that time, having hardly any sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable and my constant anxiety and nausea… I finally went in for my surgery…

The day afterwards I felt like a new woman, this man and his team had literally given me my life back. It was bad, but they had fixed me for now… I had had the Endo mass and tissue removed, then my organs gently coaxed back into place, my tubes flushed, my bowel that was damaged had a resection, and my left ovary was carefully saved. I could feel that constant pressure was gone; there was no more dull pain in that area. In fact recovering from the surgical incisions wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the pain I had lived with every day for years. I stopped taking pain medications three days after I got home from my surgery, because I felt like I could deal with the pains I was getting, which were less than ten per cent than what I was used to. How mad is that?

The worst thing about the surgery for me was the gas, it fills every part of your body as it absorbs and fills the spaces between your organs, it can be very painful until it’s gone. I had to drink so much peppermint tea to help with the bloating! Below is my abdomen after surgery, you can see I’m swollen and bruised and you can see the three incision sites.

Days After Surgery…

The worse thing about having Endo is that it has stolen friendships away from me, and it put strains on other relationships too. People don’t understand how you can look so “well” on the outside but feel incredibly ill on the inside. Pain is something your body gets used to but it is the fatigue that most people struggle to deal with. Sometimes I would visit family and I would be talking one minute and falling asleep the next. Even after my surgery, although I didn’t have the same pain levels as before, I was still keeping up with the feelings of being tired, and my periods were exactly the same.

Did you know that Endometriosis also causes a whole range of other issues? I had over half of these when I eventually got diagnosed. Most women get told they have painful periods and IBS. Most of us only have these things because we have Endo. Here is a great diagram that was shared on the social media Endo pages earlier this month outlining most of what women like me have to deal with, sometimes these are daily symptoms, some are infrequent but they still occur, often brought on by hormone changes and cycles.

I experience a great deal of these symptoms. Some are daily and some are infrequent.

Endo Warrior is a term I use often to describe myself, because some days it feels like a battle just to get through the day. I am extremely lucky because I got the time to recover from my surgery, both body and soul searching too. Then when I was ready I had to do IVF in order to have my son. He is my entire world and I would be lost without him. I look back at all that I’ve been through and I am proud that I never gave up, despite everything.

If you want something in life and you have to work harder to get it then it makes it all the more worthwhile. I overcame a needle phobia and dealt with my Endo pain during my IVF treatment. But I would do all of it again if I had to. Being a mother is one of the most incredible and rewarding things I have ever done.

I realise some women have too bad a diagnosis and never get the chance to be mothers because of this condition, and that makes me sad. I class myself as one of the lucky ones.

To anyone out there who is suffering, make your voice heard. I once said to a friend that “Living a life in pain is like letting pain decide your life for you” and I got to a point where I just couldn’t live like that anymore. If your pain is ruling your life, then perhaps it is time to do something about it. Find a Doctor willing to listen and willing to take you seriously. Keep a diary, show that to a specialist if you’re lucky enough to get referred quickly.

Endometriosis has cost me so much in my life already, and because there is no cure I deal with those uncertainties for my future every single day. I still class myself as one of the lucky ones, I still have all my organs at the moment, and I was able to carry and have my son. I love being a mum. I try not to let my pain get in the way of that. As my son gets older I will be able to explain why mummy cannot bend and play today, and I will come up with other things for us to do together on those, my bad days. But I know it won’t stop me from being the mother he deserves. Of that I will make sure.

Website Links To Endometriosis Information

Endometriosis UK
Endometriosis NHS

Thank you for visiting Severn Wishes today. If you would like to leave a comment please do so, I hope that my words help even just one person to stand up for themselves, to explain to a doctor that you want answers, that you deserve to live a life without pain. Stay strong.

✩ Sabrina ✩

Breastfeeding Your Baby, the Issues, the Infections and the Isolation. But it’s the Most Rewarding Thing I Ever Did.

In my article I’m going to be talking about the different issues and infections I have had during my current journey, in order to raise awareness for other mothers who, like me, may have been unaware of the seriousness of them. And I will also be touching upon the isolation too, it’s such a stupid thing in modern times for it not to be accepted by everyone.
It is however the most rewarding thing that I have ever chosen to do.
At the end of the day breasts are part of a woman’s body in order to nurse children. I will discuss lots of things in these 4000+ words! So grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and brace yourself for honesty and facts…

Breastfeeding is Incredible but it is also Hard Work

Breastfeeding my son has been one of the most rewarding yet hardest things I have ever done in my life. It was a choice I made while I was pregnant and I wanted to persevere and give it my absolute best, with the aim of feeding him for at least six months if it was possible. But then when we hit that milestone and after that other milestones too, I just kept saying “I will now stop when baby no longer wants it”. Now we are at 15 months and still going, yay for us! The bond we have is amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, it certainly was not the easy way of feeding my baby and I think that women who do breastfeed give up a lot, and this should definitely be recognised a bit more. Let me start at the beginning and explain how and why I chose to carry on, in the face of pain, problems and less than four hours sleep for many a night. And why I’m still breastfeeding… right now in fact! While I type some of this story!

It had been an uphill battle to establish the breastfeeding and the routines to begin with. We were plagued with problems from the outset but because I was determined I continued on. Our son developed jaundice a day after birth which required a lengthy stay in hospital in an UV incubator and I breastfed or pumped every ninety minutes for the first two weeks of his life. Tough was an understatement, because my milk was still only just coming in when we realised our son had some problems. So I ended up with sore and cracked nipples from the constant feeding one way or another. The lack of sleep and the worry caused me to get rundown too. I remember filling myself with food and drinking litres of water at the beginning, it really did help get me through. And I have to thank the midwife team and breastfeeding coordinators at my local hospital too for their support and kindness.

When we eventually went home, to stay, our son was cluster feeding, we encouraged this to get him to gain some weight. It was incredibly hard, with sleep time being few and sitting down time a plenty, yet I wouldn’t change the bond it allowed for us to grow. So many hours were spent just gazing at one another; sleepy feeding at all hours and burping sessions too! We were doing so well, our little boy was slowly gaining weight and we had turned a corner. Family were also supportive and I carried my pregnancy pillow with me everywhere I went… Then one day as we started to feed I got pains, and these increased over the course of the day, and it turned out to be an infection that I knew nothing about. Let me tell you about Ductal Thrush.

Lots of doctors misdiagnose this ailment as Mastitis when in fact it’s Ductal Thrush. And if you get a misdiagnosis like I did with this, then you can actually make your infection so much worse! Let me explain a bit more about my run-ins with the dreaded Ductal Thrush and then I will show you a list of the symptoms and give you some facts!

Ductal Thrush

My son was only seven weeks old when I got some bizarre pains as he latched on to feed. Previously my breasts had been engorged and that was painful, my nipples had been sore and cracked and they had also been painful, but this was different. It felt as though my son was drawing my milk out through the nipple, and as usual you can feel that gentle pull, except this time it was as though my nipple was being shredded from the inside out by glass shards. Yes… glass shards. It’s the best way I have of describing it, and it’s incredibly painful. At times during my experience with Ductal Thrush I would even say it hurt me more than the contractions of labour.

Now I’m pretty good with pain, I had my son naturally on just a little gas and air, and even my midwife took that off me almost ninety minutes before he was born to get me to focus more… so when I was tearing up and gritting my teeth through baby latching I knew something was not right. My son and I had such a bond already, but he was feeding frequently, usually fourteen to fifteen times in every twenty four hours. The pain of Ductal Thrush lasts for around a minute or two into the feed, and then different pains occur after baby has fed and you have your milk let down. That pain is a dull ache felt right in the depths of the breast tissue, mine was so deep it radiated around my back under my armpit.

I managed to get in at my GP quickly, the next day in fact. But I had hardly any sleep because of the pain during and between feeds that I was exhausted when I got there. The doctor took a look and listened to my symptoms before telling me that it was Mastitis. Having read about this condition and also having been given leaflets on it in hospital because it’s quite common in new breastfeeding mum’s, I just didn’t think he was correct. I went home with a box of antibiotics, and despite my reservations I took them for four days. The GP said that after forty eight hours I should begin to feel better and that the pain would get better. In fact by the fourth day the pain had almost doubled and I was crying my way through every single feeds. I was biting down on one of the baby teething rings we had bought for him just to get through the initial latch, and if he let go and had to start all over again I would literally be sobbing it was terrible.

After this night of debilitating pain I decided to call the breastfeeding coordinator number that I had been given, and they gave me some advice. They also sent a member of the breastfeeding team to my house to check me over when I described what a time I was experiencing. They checked to make sure baby was latching properly, and once I had told them about the pain they instantly knew it was Ductal Thrush and not Mastitis. I remember exactly how the conversation went, and how exhausted I felt. She also looked inside my son’s mouth because you can often see the thrush in baby’s throats and on their tongue. I wasn’t aware of this until I was told, but it’s white and often sticks to babies tongue and gums, and it was evident towards the back of my little ones mouth.

“You need to go back to your GP with this new information, and you need to stop taking those antibiotics because that type is feeding the infection not helping to get rid of if”.

I was devastated, it was now worse because of the misdiagnosis and my son was suffering too, I had to phone the GP up and ask to see them again. When I told him what the breastfeeding team had said he needed to look it up on his computer and find out what he needed to prescribe me instead. Not only did we require tablets but we also needed a nipple cream for me and a gel for my son for his mouth. They weren’t an everyday antibiotic, and my local pharmacy required a minimum of twenty four hours in order to get them in. So I waited, my husband picked up the prescription for me the following afternoon, and it was three days for them to enter my system and begin working.

During all of this time I continued feeding through the excruciating pain, and my poor son kept looking up at me wondering why I was so upset, his mind must have been so confused at the time, since I had always enjoyed our feeds and bonding since getting over the initial first pains and soreness that comes with new mothers feeding. Now he saw it as something that was upsetting me so I tried to not show him how hurt I was feeling and tried to smile down at him for reassurance.

But I was now in pain for minutes at every single feed, and this continued for a further week before it finally began to improve. It was tedious, I had to apply this fungal cream after each feed but remove some of it if it hadn’t been absorbed into the skin when he next wanted to feed. I also had to rub the gel onto his gums after each feed was over. I also had Lanolin for my nipples which were so sore from all the contact. But the antibiotics were finally starting to work, and I had a two week dosage of tablets which I thought was fine. It wasn’t. Due to it being so bad and embedded so far into my breast tissues I had to return to the GP and get a further repeat prescription of it. In total I was medicated for a whole six weeks, and it was a concern with my son being so young and the medication passing on to him.

For me Ductal Thrush at times was more painful than giving birth, and any mother who has had a severe case of it like I did will no doubt back me up. I’m not exaggerating with the pulling your milk through shards of glass description, or the burning sensation that radiates through your entire chest and into your tissue and muscles well into your back. I look back now and it’s a bit of a blur, I wonder how I even got through those weeks, but I did. I remember having to bite down on that teether at our three o’clock feed to stop my crying waking up the neighbours.

The GP even sent me to the hospital during my second dose of antibiotics to have an ultrasound scan on my breast tissues, to make sure nothing else was going on, luckily there was not and I was able to return to feeding my son. Although this was not before I was asked if I wanted to stop feeding him. When the thrush reoccurred without the tablets, well it never really left thinking back on it now, it was just starting to improve when I ran out of medication that first time and therefore it flared up again. But I recall telling every member of the health department that I came across, “No, I have worked too hard to establish feeding I want to continue”. I knew that I could beat this and carry on, not just for my son but for my sake as well.

As a sufferer of Endometriosis, I’m currently at Stage Four, so it was more beneficial to me to continue breastfeeding as long as was possible. When I explained the benefits most people could see why I wanted to maintain the feeds. But it was important to me because of how much I had already been through to even get to this stage of breastfeeding. For those few weeks that were debilitating and exhausting it felt never ending, but then we turned a corner, I woke one morning and the pain was there but bearable. I didn’t see the Ductal Thrush again, and if I never do again it would be all too soon. It affected the supply in my right breast, so much so that the left side became dominant and grew to almost double the size. I live with the constant lopsided reminder of how infection can really change your body. But I am a stronger breastfeeding mother because of what I have been through.

So many mothers are misdiagnosed with Ductal Thrush and it can have implications as well as creating painful feeding. Please speak to your local breastfeeding team if you are at all concerned that your GP might not be fully understanding to your needs. Get them to check inside your baby’s mouth because this is also an indication of where thrush lies. As a mother who has chosen to breastfeed you should be made aware of what Ductal Thrush and Mastitis are, so that you can make an informed decision if you should contract either of them.

Let us now go through the differences between the two of them. Ductal Thrush occurs when an infection grows among the breast tissues and is usually spread and passed from mother to baby and back again. Thrush can be an infection that occurs on several different parts of the body. Evidence of it in the breast can sometimes be seen on and around the nipple, or within baby’s mouth. Baby needs to be treated at the same time as the mother and it usually affects both of the breasts, but usually one side more than the other. Mastitis occurs in the breast when the ducts of tissue become blocked, it is usually associated with engorgement or when your baby is not feeding effectively and draining every part of the breast. Mastitis is accompanied with red, swollen and hot skin, then pain and redness that expands. Both of these conditions are serious, Mastitis more so due to the nature of the infection.

As explained on the NHS website, here are some more facts about Mastitis as a condition.

Mastitis only usually affects one breast and women feel unwell.
Symptoms develop quickly and can include a red, swollen and painful area of the breast.
Usually there is a lump or hard area to the breast tissue that doesn’t go after feeding baby.
There can be burning pains associated with feeding your baby or occurring continuously.
Discharge from the nipple is common including white or blood streaked.
Flu-like symptoms are the normal experience for people with this infection, aches and pains, fatigue, going hot and cold, running a temperature and a having a fever.

Mastitis in breastfeeding women is known as Milk Stasis, it is caused by a build-up of milk that has not been drained properly. This occurs when the baby hasn’t got a good enough latch, there is an abundance of milk and baby isn’t feeding effectively or when the baby is feeding infrequently or misses a feed. It is an infection most common in the first twelve weeks of breastfeeding; however it can occur at any time for breastfeeding mothers who have a change in their usual routine for example. Mastitis occurs when the build-up of breast milk that has become blocked becomes infected with bacteria. If the bacteria are not treated quickly then the milk can turn into pus in the form of a breast abscess which may then need to be surgically drained.

Luckily Mastitis is easily treatable with antibiotics and rest. As with any infection you need to rest and hydrate, as well as eat healthily and take the tablets you are prescribed. Pain medicine such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen can be taken on the advice of your Doctor. Avoid tight fitting clothes and no bra if you think you may have Mastitis and while you are recovering. You must continue to breastfeed so as to remove any milk from the breast and avoid any further infections.

Is it important to remember that Mastitis can be a serious infection, and if you believe you may have it you need to see a Doctor as soon as possible. When infections spread it is more difficult to treat them and undiagnosed infections can lead to problems like Abscess’ or even Sepsis (Blood Poisoning). If in doubt see your GP and don’t be embarrassed about seeking help for something like this.


My Experience with Mastitis

I think I was in denial when I had Mastitis. I kept thinking, just one more painful feed and then it will be better, but this went on for weeks until I finally walked a mile and a half to the doctors on a really hot day because I could literally take it no more. I had a sore nipple after my son had accidentally bitten me with a fresh tooth he was cutting, and as he breast fed the sore kept reopening as a wound and became rather painful. This is what I attributed my pains to, and it wasn’t until I woke with an adjacent lump and red patch on my skin that I thought it was something more.

As I sat down to be examined with the doctor a chaperone was there too, and she was watching my son who was getting flustered at the sight of somebody other than him touching my breast, ha! Within seconds of looking at me he concluded it was Mastitis and told me I needed to start antibiotics immediately, I was told off for not coming in sooner. He told me to go to the pharmacy across the road and then go home and rest. He advised me to up my fluid intake, take paracetamol and stay warm. He even told me that if the redness spread any further across my chest to phone 111 and get admitted for IV antibiotics. It was quite scary…

My son was so flustered I had to breastfeed him in the Doctor’s surgery waiting room before I left the premises. That’s one thing people don’t realise about Mastitis, you actually have to keep on feeding despite the pain. Allowing the Breast to become engorged again would be dangerous and could further spread the infection.

So once my son was done I managed to get him back into his pushchair and I did what the Doctor said, I got my tablets, then I grabbed myself some Pepsi Max and Chilled Water from the convenience store next to the pharmacy too, it was so hot that day. Walking home afterwards I was getting more and more exhausted.

Once home I didn’t get the chance to rest, I took my medication then I fed my son both food and my milk. By the time I was sitting down to breastfeed I realised how hungry I was, but upon reading the antibiotic packet I saw it read no food for two hours after a tablet. So I then had to wait even longer to have my lunch.

By the time my husband got home from work in the evening I was sat on the sofa huddled in blankets watching my son play with his toys on his mat. I was so exhausted I just did dinner in the oven that night. One of the symptoms is fatigue because your body is fighting an infection. Another is the flu like symptoms that hit you like a train. For a moment you feel fine and then boom you’ve got shivering shakes and feel really cold. It was 28 degrees Celsius outside and 24 inside my house, yet I was sat with a heavy cardigan on and a blanket wrapped around me. I had these particular symptoms on and off for just over forty eight hours, and they were not pleasant.

I was on my antibiotics course for two weeks, one tablet four times a day. Luckily by the time I came to the end of the course I had noticed an improvement and my pain was now subsiding. I did however still had the open sore on my nipple which took another three weeks to heal completely. My son couldn’t help opening it every time he had an aggressive “I’m really hungry” feed.

The reason I got Mastitis was because I was away from my son for a few hours. Despite expressing some milk while away that day I still ended up engorged and in a lot of pain. Although I had encouraged him to feed more from my breast in the days that followed I could see my raised ducts weren’t going back down. If I ran my finger over my skin while he fed I could feel them, they were like tiny raised finger like shapes. A week or so later the pain and discomfort began getting a lot worse. One side of my breast was bright red and due to my encouraging more feeds to try and empty the breast, it had become sore and my skin was splitting where my nipple met my areolas. I gritted my teeth at the start of every feed.

My son prefers one side to the other… I hear most babies do! I recall the doctor asking me if he fed on the other side and I said he did do, but my right could never keep up with the supply and demand that the Left could. He commented that I was rather lopsided, and I asked him to tell me something I didn’t already know!

So the weeks past and luckily my Mastitis completely rectified itself and I didn’t need any further treatment. I’m one of the lucky ones, and I also have fairly small breasts as far as sizes go! I could imagine that someone with larger breasts where more infection could spread would be having a more difficult time of it! It didn’t reoccur at all although I have been careful not to have a spaced out feed since then, and my son has gone everywhere with me.

It took me a whole month to feel normal again, it was awful feeling so weak for a few days, but then the fatigue took a few days to recover from as well. I was grateful that I knew a bit about Mastitis due to my misdiagnosis when I had Ductal Thrush, so at least I was clued up on what to look out for. But some women are never told about these conditions and I think it’s important that they are discussed and recognised by the wider community.


Isolation

Finally, I want to talk about the Isolation that Breastfeeding brings.

Breast is best, and it sure is! You get to bond with your baby, get extra cuddles and even burn more calories and get your pre-baby body back more quickly! But breastfeeding can also be very isolating especially if you can’t express or find it difficult to get your baby to take milk from a breast and a bottle… this was us. We had always hoped to do combination feeding, but our son didn’t like multiple bottle types. That said, I have never had an issue with feeding him by my breast, wherever I was and whenever he needed me to, I did it. So far that has been sat on the floor in Primark and even whilst walking around Tesco supermarket doing the grocery shopping.

I knew of mother friends who went back to a date night routine when their child was twelve weeks old, they went back to work at nine months, they went on a family holiday around the little ones first birthday. Most of these friends bottle fed their children for whatever reason. But you could end up like me, putting your little ones needs ahead of your own, you could be breastfeeding them for a particular reason. Our main reason is allergies, specifically food ones. It was imperative that I kept feeding him when my son was diagnosed with a potential milk allergy, and now we know it is a serious one I was glad that I stuck with feeding and didn’t put him at risk by trying all sorts of random formula. We are now waiting to see a consultant about his allergies, so for now I am sticking with breastfeeding him and maintaining a free from diet for me. It makes things difficult but I am used to it now, and I know he is safe.

It’s been hard not to be the social butterfly that I once was, but I have enjoyed the time with my son, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Especially the teaching and learning for both of us, the bonding and the love. Teaching him has been an absolute joy so far and I hope that it continues.

Unless other mother friends have breastfed and know what it’s like to have a cluster feeding baby who feeds every two hours and for fourteen or fifteen times a day, then they don’t know what it’s like to painfully turn down social invitations because you’re so exhausted you can just about feed and clothe yourself and the baby. It does get better, and routines are the key. Now I can plan my day so that I can get in a short walk and maybe a grocery shop between breast feeds and even do things around the house without baby getting too grumpy by not being permanently attached to my chest! I know it’s been a good day if I have showered, have done my home chores and gotten a walk in all before four o’clock in the afternoon. At that time every day we cuddle up on the sofa so he can feed, with a packet of free from biscuits for me, and we watch our favourite quiz shows together until it’s time for me to cook dinner. It’s a great life to live, although it can sometimes be a little lonely in terms of adult interaction, though I have to say being at home with my son all day is one of the best decisions I ever made. I know it cannot be like this forever and I will make the most of the time I have with him before things change.

I am a proud mother bear to be still feeding my child now at fifteen months of age. I’m also quite glad looking back, all the hurdles we have beaten and all the issues we have overcome. And yes I have to maintain a dairy free diet for the entire time that I continue breastfeeding, but you know what, it’s what is best for my son, so I will do it.

I guess what you can say here is that breastfeeding is only isolating if you let it become such. During those first few months everyone is learning and discovering and it’s both wonderful and scary and also amazing. This little life looks to you for everything and that is a massive deal, but you also cannot lose sight of who you were before you were mother of the baby. I think for a few months that was what happened to me. I stopped being Sabrina and started being mum, mum for every occasion. When in reality what was really happening was that I was isolating myself even more. I got out of that rut by joining a baby class and having an afternoon out with other parents and their children every week. The isolation started to become less and less and I soon felt more like myself again.

Recently my son has been teething, in fact for the last month he has cut tooth after tooth and is ahead of the game in terms of a teething diagram! This is a good thing in some ways, but it has also meant that he has fed more. Partly out of comfort and partly out of the fact he is having an overall growth spurt. I am back to having between four and six hours sleep in every twenty four hours, I am up at least twice a night and it is quite exhausting some days. But the feelings I have when I am the one who can soothe his pain and calm him down, is very reassuring to me, that bond is irreplaceable. So for now I make do with the lack of sleep, because of all the positives our continued feeding provides us.

So, if you’re breastfeeding and feel a little bit alone here is my advice. Join a club or a group, get out for some fresh air, invite family or friends around and do something together even if it’s free! Just remember that you’re not just a boob on legs, although some days you think that that is all your little one sees! You are a person, a parent and a mother who is doing this amazing thing for their child, but you need to look after yourself too, body and soul.

Don’t let breastfeeding close you off, allow it to open doors to so much more, more friends and more life experiences.

Thanks for reading this lengthy article, if you got to the end in one sitting then I give you a pat on the back. I will be talking about more aspects of parenting very soon. until then, see you later.

Sabrina

Six Tips for New Parents – the things that everyone forgets to mention!

These are my Six Tips for New Parents – but they are the things that everyone forgets to mention!

So despite being post birth and genuinely exhausted, most mum’s will admit to that feeling of pride that comes with the arrival of a child. Be it your first or fifth baby, they are all special and all little miracles. Just look what you have achieved!

However there are things people forget to mention to you and I thought I would share some of my tips in this blog post for getting passed these… we will call them the six newborn phases!

When you become a mum you look at your bundle of joy and you feel incredible, that rush of emotions and pride… you just grew and birthed (in whichever way you did) a small human being. Go you! Own it!

But, while trapped in a chair under said small human, (in fear of waking them up if you were to even clear your throat!), you can’t help but wonder why your amazing body didn’t also develop the ability of telekinesis while it was doing this awe shattering feat! How amazing and useful would that be?! So here are my six phases… I guarantee you’ll laugh before the end of this article…

Phase 1. The “I Can’t Put The Baby Down Because We Are Bonding Or Cluster Feeding” Phase.

Always keep the essentials close by, as in within an arms stretch! This goes for the TV remote, your phone, at least one snack, your phone charger or a charging device, iPad or a book, and definitely a glass of water. If you have a little one who won’t sleep very much then life saving materials can be what get you through those afternoons, as you cradle your small bundle who is finally napping but you dare not put them down. Instead you settle in to an afternoon of Netflix binge watching and you have a whole packet of biscuits with your name on.

Personally I had a lunch bag size cool bag next to where I sat with my son. Inside it were snacks, a reusable bottle of water and piece of fruit. I kept a table to one side of me with the remotes and my phone on, and a box of tissues. On the other side within a stretch away was the cool bag, my iPad and a portable USB charger. Life savers for me on several afternoons!

Phase 2. The “Where’s The Flipping Muslin Cloth” Phase.

Buy Extra Cloths! So cloths for a newborn are a given, but have you considered you may need to wipe all sorts of things off your baby and multiple times in one day. I couldn’t believe how many cloths I went through a day at first. The tip for this is to keep a folded clean pile of muslin’s somewhere in every main room of your home. Also buy similar colours of cloth so that you can just throw them all in the wash together. Because Muslin cloths are thin they don’t take a lot to wash and also dry, but you won’t want to wait a few hours when you’re down to your last one and baby is due for a feed…

Phase 3. The “What Time Is It? Oh My Days, I Forgot To Stop For Lunch, Again” Phase.

Nobody tells you how fast the time goes. This isn’t a lie, time actually goes faster and you will forget what time of day it is and then realise you haven’t had a drink for hours! Make sure you always get nourished every time you journey into the kitchen, keep snacks and fruit handy, things you can eat one handed, and keep a reusable water bottle by your favourite seat. Keeping hydrated is most important especially if you’re breastfeeding and recovering from birth too. If baby is having something to drink then you should be too!

Phase 4. The “I’m Too Tired To Cook, Let’s Open Up The Fast Food App” Phase.

Every parent will admit to ordering fast food in those first few weeks with a newborn baby. But if you can organise yourselves in the weeks running up to their arrival, you’ll feel better for it, both stomach and bank balance!

The answer is this, Bulk Cook your favourite Foods! Keep some of those previous takeaway Tupperware tubs, check how many you can stack in a drawer in your freezer. Then bulk cook a few of your favourite dishes using fresh ingredients. Then you can freeze them in tubs and in portions. Throw in Veg too if you like, at least then you’re getting healthy food inside you. Chicken Curry with added Veg or Spaghetti Bolognese made with a few Veg to bulk it out are both easy to reheat.

Phase 5. “I Managed To Put The Baby Down, Shall I Pop On That New Series On Netflix Or Go To Sleep?”

It’s really tough when Social Media blows up with the latest Netflix series, and you’re surviving on maybe 4 hours of sleep and only scrolling on your phone in order to stay awake during the 5am feed… But there will come a day when things get easier, your baby won’t need feeding every two hours forever. And then you’ll sleep a little more… (does 6 hours or less sound good to you?). Plus you’ll get used to the lack of sleep and gradually be able to do more, like managing to watch half an episode of something… once a week… then forget what happened and watch it again… and so it goes on…

Phase 6. “We haven’t had any us time for a long time…”

This phase is a serious one and more to do with you as parents, it’s brand new, it’s exhilarating and exhausting but remember you have become two different people. You are still you, and what time you spend together is still important. You might not get a date night in weeks, if not months after baby is born. But if you have the support of family and you trust them, then there will come a time where you can leave your baby with that person and get back to being you “both” again.
People don’t tell you how hard it is, not being able to go out just the pair of you, you won’t get to watch television or a film without interruption or pausing it every now and then. This is the new normal and it’s okay to find it a difficult transition. Especially if you’re used to going out for a meal once a week or pop off to the cinema at an hours notice…
My tip to get through this phase is this, plan, plan and plan some more. Make timetables and plan ahead with a calendar and try your best to stick to it. Change the usual cinema outings to a Netflix movie and a meal at home, with a big bag of popcorn and sweets from the supermarket as a great and cheaper alternative to the cinema treats…



Thank you for visiting Severn Wishes today, I hope that I see you here again soon for more parenting posts.

✩ Sabrina ✩

Sabrina’s Dairy Free Vegetable Nuggets

How To Make Delicious Dairy Free Vegetable Nuggets For All The Family To Enjoy!

Today I will be showing you how to make tasty, nutritious and dairy free vegetable nuggets that contain four different vegetables.
They are great fun for your children to eat as finger food and your older children can dip them in the sauce if they choose.
This recipe is ideal for weaning and beyond.

Veggie Nugget (broken so you can see the soft inside)



Ingredients for Sabrina’s Veggie Nuggets

3 Tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup
1 Tablespoon of Reduced Salt Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Mixed Herbs
1 Large Egg (Beaten)
160 grams of Breadcrumbs (approx) roughly 4 slices of bread – I always use the 2 end bits if I have them!
6 Medium Carrots – Grated and Squeezed
2 Courgettes – Grated and Squeezed
100 grams of Swede Cooked First, then Diced Finely using a Chopper
1 Large White Onion Diced Finely
50 grams of Dairy Free Alternative to Italian Style Hard Cheese
Plain Flour (6 tablespoons approx) spread this onto a small plate ready for rolling…




Method

To make the sauce combine tomato ketchup and soy sauce together. Double the amount if you are preparing these nuggets for people to dip into the sauce straight after cooking them. Use half of the sauce for the vegetables mixture and leave half for the dip.

Once you have prepared all of the vegetable ingredients as directed above, you will need to ensure the mixture of vegetables isn’t too wet. Take a handful of the grated and chopped veg and place it between a few paper towels, a muslin cloth or a clean tea towel. Squeeze and press it in the cloth to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Do this with all of the grated veg.

Get a large mixing bowl and crack the egg into it. Add the herbs and stir until combined. Next add some of the tomato dip. Next add the squeezed vegetables, then lastly add the hard cheese (or alternative) and the breadcrumbs, stir it all thoroughly. You don’t want lots of the same type of veg in each ball, try and mix it so you get a variant of all the ingredients. (I do my breadcrumbs in a small food mixer).

Place the flour onto a small plate ready to roll your nuggets in.

To make a nugget take a small handful of the combined mixture and roll between your palms. Top Tip! Do this with wet hands so it doesn’t stick to you! Roll them out into oval shapes, and then once happy you can roll each one in flour to coat it.

Have a large frying pan ready on your cooker with some oil getting hot. You should place the nuggets down gently so as not to break them or splash the oil. Fry each one until lightly browned all over. Top Tip! Use a pair of tongs to adjust them while frying to make sure you do all of the sides. Keep topping up the oil after every few nuggets.


Once they are cooked set the nuggets to one side on a piece of kitchen roll so as to drain any excess oil from them and let them cool a little, and then serve them while they’re still warm in a large bowl with the remainder of the tomato dip. They are great for a children’s party or a finger food family night in.

Squeezing the Veg so as to remove as much moisture as possible.
Veggie Nugget Mixture Ready For Mixing and Rolling

Vegetable Nuggets are ideal for children who are weaning at around 10 months and older, when they are learning to hold and bite into foods.
They are great for getting your children to eat vegetables.
The tomato dip provides a fun element for older children.
The leftovers can be frozen, defrost over night and re-fry them to give them a crunchy outside again.

My Recipe made me approximately 24 Nuggets.

Once you have rolled your nuggets between your palms you can get ready to fry them… My Top Tip is to have some done so you can fry one set while you make the next set…

Frying Tips

When frying the Nuggets take care and turn them frequently so that they cook evenly on all sides. You also need to maintain the oil so that they sit in a few millimetres at all times to avoid sticking to the pan.

Finished Veggie Nuggets

These Nuggets are great, and rather tasty too, that is providing you like the Veg I have chosen. You can substitute the Courgette for Mushrooms if you prefer those! And you can also do these without being dairy free by using a regular cheese like Parmesan if you wish.

Thank you for visiting, I hope you have enjoyed reading about this recipe, if you decide to give it a go then please leave me a comment with how it went afterwards… Check out my other recipes on the category list!

✩ Sabrina ✩

August 2019 Treatbox Reveal

Hello readers! It’s time for the August 2019 Treatbox Reveal
with me, Sabrina of Severn Wishes Blog.

Happy Treatbox Day! I am ready to Reveal and Review the August Treatbox. It has a gorgeous Yellow tissue paper and the little sticker reads “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade”.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

I’m really looking forward to finding out what could be inside this box, the summertime boxes always seem more exciting somehow…

Unboxing…

Here are the contents of the August box, we can see 7 items, an A5 Print and of course the Calendar Print.

August Calendar Print – blue and yellow
A5 Print “The World is your Oyster”
Cotton Bag “Let’s Get Away” in beige and blue

Notepad for “Lists and Things”
Packet of Tissues
Queen Bee Key Ring from Sass & Belle

Anandas Homemade Gourmet Marshmallows – Caramel (V)
2 Hair Bands with Bows – Several Colours Available at Random

The August 2019 Treatbox

Here are some images of the contents of the August box…

My Opinion on the August 2019 Box

What I really liked most about this box were the new items, the hair bands and the Marshmallows. I think we all like to try new things or receive items we have not yet seen before, this made me happy.

The quality of the months items was great, a key ring from Sass & Belle and the bag are great additions, even if they are passed on to others as gifts. Personally I don’t think you can ever have enough notepads or cotton bags! Reuse the bag for whatever you like instead of buying more plastics!


My favourite things in the August box is, well, all of it! There wasn’t an item that I didn’t like, and although the print is a little bit plain this month I’m sure the quote spoke to a lot of you. It’s a bit like, go get um! or, do whatever you like, but saying it in a nicer way of course!

This month there seems to be a theme of getting away for a day, as the bag tells us, and the tissues to go inside it, marshmallows for a tasty treat to share or not, there is a band to put your hair up in the sea breeze and you could even make a list of what to do on your day out! All hypothetical of course! But what I like about Treatbox items, is that there are multiple uses for the contents. It’s totally up to you!

It’s another Vegan treat this month, this makes me very happy!
Bags are so useful and this one is a great size too!

Are you thinking of ordering a TreatBox for yourself or for a gift for someone?
Then you can find Treatbox subscriptions and build your own box at their 
website

Check out my previous Treatbox unboxing posts in this unique category of mine called ‘Treatbox’ it is specifically for these box reviews and reveals – Severn Wishes Treatbox.

Thank you for visiting Severn Wishes today, I hope you enjoyed the Review of this Treatbox and that I see you here again soon. 

✩ Sabrina ✩

Our Weaning Journey

Our Weaning journey began delicately due to our son having suspected allergies. He is exclusively breastfed and he cluster fed for the first 5 months of his life. He was born slightly premature at 37 + 5 and after having bad jaundice at birth, it took him many weeks to recover. We spent so much time in hospital at the start that our first month with him went by in a blur. Problems with allergies began at around 12 weeks, so it was a steep learning curve in the next 10 to 12 weeks that followed.

Then, when it came to Baby A reaching the 6 month milestone he was still in size 3-6 month clothing and breast feeding up to 14 times in 24 hours. We hoped that Weaning would satisfy him more so and because we could introduce cooled boiled water with his meals, it would take a bit of pressure off me. This did work, but he had such an appetite that he continued regular breastfeeding including a minimum of two feeds a night, plus day times and extra weaning snacks. We had ourselves one hungry baby!

I recall the health visitor questioning how much I was feeding him at our 6 month visit… she couldn’t believe how much I was saying he ate, I’m almost sure she thought I was lying. I had read in a parenting book that you cannot over feed a baby, because they will simply refuse to eat it. Our son wanted more and more food as the days went by, so I used motherly instincts and I watched my baby for cues. So I continued on with my busy breastfeeding schedule plus I began our weaning journey in a rather swift fashion.

We Tried A Range Of 4 Month Plus Puree, These Are A Few Of Them Little One Loved.

Baby A enjoyed many things that we tried first off, including individual vegetables such as Carrot, Potato, Parsnip, Sweet Potato, Apple and Strawberry. There were only 2 things he spat out which were Prune and Peas. And I don’t blame him for either! Ha!

After doing some reading and noticing how keen Baby A was with eating and being fed, we decided to do 6 weeks of Purées to start with. We maintained that he was to ingest nothing dairy of course, I checked packaging meticulously or I made my own. This worked well, starting with a few mouthfuls twice a day for the first week, followed by doubling the amount in subsequent weeks. By the time we got to week 6 Baby A was eating 70g of fruit purée for breakfast and 70g of vegetable purée in the early evening. He also tried Melty Puffs around this time too.

Prices of Purée vary, but they usually cost anything from 40p all the way up to £1.50. They also range in size so look out for that. We made the most of any offers that were on in supermarkets and also used any store credit points and vouchers we had picked up to get our initial 6 week stash of purée.
Boots vouchers can go a long way if you sign up to the Clubcard and baby club before hand. Keep a look out on social media for offers too.

Minced Beef and Onions with Mashed Potato (7M)

He was enjoying the food we were giving him and he was obviously hungry. We were approaching his 8 month mark when we began moving to thicker purées and food with more textures. I was bulk cooking mashed vegetables at this point and freezing them in small pots (roughly 80g each). Some combinations included Potato and Carrot, Carrot and Swede, Carrot and Parsnip and Parsnip and Sweet Potato.

At 8 months Baby A was eating between 70g and 100g for breakfast, between 100g and 130g for his lunch and between 130g and 150g of food in the evening. This was on top of 12 breast feeds still most days, and we had began to try him on some more snacks. The melty puff kind that melted on his tongue were a real hit! Luckily they came in many flavours.

We also gave him fruit such as Raspberries, Strawberries and Melon as an evening pudding if he was feeling particularly hungry.

Minced Pork and Onions with Carrot and Potato Mash (8M)

Baby A ate most things from Day Dot but turned his nose up at the taste of Cucumber and also highly disliked the taste of Peppers. Some foods took a couple of times before he decided that he liked them, usually very strong tasting food groups. He was unsure about things like Tomato, Scrambled Eggs and Pasta, but we persevered and he eats them now. The trick is to leave a food for 2-3 weeks then try it with them again.

One thing I loved about Weaning was the way he learned and every day you saw him remember. Within two weeks he understood that cutlery went into his mouth, he began to chew even when food was super soft, and he was also cutting several teeth while we were trying most new foods. He did so well with all these milestone changes and I’m very proud of him.

Mashed Carrot and Swede with a Small Chicken Steak and some Rice (9M)

One thing I would recommend to mum’s who want to cook healthy meals for their little ones is to invest in a good strong vegetable mash utensil and a mini food processor. Mine is called the Russel Hobbs Mini Food Processor 22220 Mini Chopper and I cannot rate it high enough! It was used every day for 3 months and I still use it to dice up chewy meat because it saves me so much time. I still use it for my now one year old boy.

Russel Hobbs Mini Chopper In Use

At nine months Baby A began eating some more of the food I prepared for us adults. This includes the meat and sauce of bolognese but we gave him mashed vegetables and not much pasta. He ate my cottage pie (all of it), we had chicken steaks that I had diced in a blender with soft vegetables and rice, sausages were diced and served with mash and veg, and he even ate flaky white fish with rice and veg too!

I also used a weaning book that my mother had bought for me that had some great ideas inside for weaning recipes and snacks. I altered most of them to suit the various allergies in my family of course. Homemade Veggie Nuggets were by far my favourite thing to make, I bulked cooked them which was time consuming but then they’re frozen for convenience.

Minced Beef and Onions, Carrot and Swede Mashed with a Homemade Veggie Nugget

By the time he reached 10 months of age Baby A had 8 teeth and was eating 80% of what we were. He still loves his baby related snacks too! These include Vegetable Puffs, Rice Cakes and Flavoured Shaped Corn Snacks. A lot of these are Organic too.

Some Of The Baby And Toddler Snacks We Buy Regularly.
A Few Of The Pouches We Tried And Tested From 7 Months Plus

These snacks are very affordable from places like Aldi who have their Mamia range. If you sign up to Ella’s Kitchen on their website they will send you a pack and a voucher to try bits from their range which are purchasable at most large supermarkets and Boots stores.

Our little one loves to feed himself firm snacks but has been more than happy for us to feed him things that require a spoon such as fruit purée, cottage pie, mashed vegetables and the like. It’s so important to get your little one to eat their fruit and veg, and it doesn’t matter if you have to create a mashed version in order for them to eat it. Try different combinations and see what your baby likes. Keep a food diary to keep track!

Some of the 7 month snacks are little one loves.

Sabrina’s Weaning Tips For Parents

My top 4 tips for any parents about to wean a baby would be these…

1. Take it slowly and calmly. Your Baby will be intrigued but it can also be a stressful experience for all of you. All healthy Baby’s generally have a good gag reflex and don’t confuse this for choking, stay calm if they cough or spit things out and take all foods – even the purées – at a slow pace!

2. Start with Veg! You don’t want your little one to have too many sweet flavours in those first weeks, this is because when it comes to the savory kind they are less likely to want it. Start with Veg Purée or Mash and go from there…

3. If you plan on doing Baby Lead Weaning, then you must let your little one use their hands. Be prepared for mess! Get a good highchair, get a mat for the floor and keep plenty of baby wipes at hand too!

4. Keep a Food Diary! This is a useful tip for all new parents. It’s a great way to keep track of what baby has eaten, if your little one was to have a rash or reaction to anything they had eaten you can go back and check the diary before trying the substance again. Those first couple of months are critical in preparing baby for stronger tastes and good food habits, so start them early on the main products that your household enjoys together and move forward from there.



All Parents Should Definitely Sign Up To…

1. Ella’s Kitchen via the Website
You get a free pack in the post with tips, a board with stickers, ideas for foods and even some vouchers for baby snacks.

2. Boots Parenting Club
Using your Boots Advantage Card on the Boots App or Website you can add the addition of the Parenting Club which gives you bonus deals, free products and vouchers every month. For example we got a free bottle, a free weaning book and some promotions on nappies and baby food. Check the app each month for new promotions and deals. You also get extra points on your card when purchasing certain products in store and online too.

Ella’s Kitchen Have A Great Website and Their Melty Puffs Are A Real Hit!

✩ Russel Hobbs Mini Chopper Review ✩

I would highly recommend this chopper to any parents who want to make a lot of their own food for their baby. Not only is it simple to use, easy to clean and maintain, but it allows you to make just enough food for a large portion that can be good for a day, or if you’re bulk cooking into baby sized pots it made 6 pots of food no problem. The best thing about this mini processor is it’s size, it takes up very little room in my cupboard and is portable enough to take away for a weekend to a relatives house without being a burden.

Design 5/5
Features 5/5
Value for Money 5/5

RRP £16.00

Joie High Chair Review

We highly recommend the Joie High Chair because it is affordable and also has some great features. These include the large sturdy tray, the beautiful animal design on the seat itself and the large fabric basket underneath which is great for storing extra bits and pieces close by for when you need them, such as bibs, wipes and toys.
We only have one suggestion, that the straps could either be entirely removable for cleaning purposes or that they be a different colour than white, because they really show up every bit of food dirt.

Design 5/5
Features 4/5
Value for Money 5/5

RRP £55.00

Munchkin Products Review

We have been really impressed by the Munchkin Apple Bowls and Plates, as well as their range of Spoons too.
We picked most of them up at various baby events in Supermarkets and on Amazon UK. They are affordable and well made.
They are designed for different stages of Weaning and further interactions with food, ranging from 4 months right up until Toddler ages.
Our son found the spoons easy to eat off and the divider apple plates are a great idea when trying different foods at meal times. Or for separating the meal and the dessert when you get to that stage.

Designs 5/5
Features 5/5
Value for Money 5/5

Thank you for reading this post today, I hope you have found it interesting. If you try any of the products that I have recommended then please let me know in the comments below if your little one liked it.

If you have any questions about any of the products I have mentioned then feel free to also comment and ask me anything, I will do my best to answer you honestly.

Sabrina