Friday, 28 September 2012

Letter to my 16 year old self

Dear Emma,

First of all, cheer up - these aren't actually the best days of your life like many people will tell you but they are pretty damn close, especially if you stop over analysing everything and worrying about what you should be doing with your life. Yes,there is more to life than working on a checkout but don't worry about it, it will work itself out eventually for now just go with the flow.

So, you haven't got a boyfriend, get over it. You don't need one and seriously have you seen the guys you hang around with anyway? Someone will tell you that boyfriends are a bit pointless at this age, you will think this makes no sense but they are right!

Just so you know, a 'date' does not mean a relationship will follow, but don't worry about that either - just have fun ;)

Try and stay in a job for more than 6 months, they will all be fairly crap but keep changing them won't help you, the next one will be just as bad and it will just make writing your CV a pain in the bum. You won't be there forever and one day they won't seem anywhere near as bad as you thought they were, ad you might even miss those days (but only a little bit!)

Don't spend too much money, (and yes annoyingly I do sound like your Mum) and don't get a credit card, or when you do stop increasing the limit. This will be a disaster and when you are lucky enough to get back on your feet don't bloody do it again... twice!

Finally, and this is important....

You are not as fat as you think you are - yet!
Stop eating so much crap and learn to cook something other than cake but when you don't bother to do that and suddenly realise you cannot buy anything to fit you then don't sulk about it for years. Realise you are NOT big boned, and get off your backside and do something about it.  You CAN (and will) be a size 12 if you work at it.

But most of all have fun, everything is not as bad as you think it is and stop expecting the worst to happen 'so you are not disappointed'

Love your older, slightly wiser and certainly more boring self.

P.S.  When you pass your driving test.... DRIVE CAREFULLY!

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Thursday, 27 September 2012

And so it begins....

Last week I posted about my intention to start back on the Slimming World plan in October however I decided to bring it forward and start today, otherwise I know I'll end up eating even more rubbish than usual 'because I can' and with nearly bare cupboards I thought I'd fill them up in a SW friendly fashion!    It's also my birthday next month and I realised there is a danger I'd end up pushing my start date back until afterwards so I can eat lots of cake!

When I did the plan the first time round I measured myself at the start (Waist, Hips and thigh) it turned out to be a great motivator, especially on the weeks when it seemed I was not losing much - sometimes you lose inches even though the weight doesn't seem to be moving that much.

I don't have a definite target weight in mind, but I'm planning at the moment to go for 2 stone in total, this will get me back to my weight last year which I was pretty much happy with, but when I get there I'll see how I feel and maybe go for the extra 1/2 stone to take me back to my pre-pregnancy (with Leo) weight - in which case the huge collection of clothes in my storage box should fit me again!

So, today I have got out my old SW book and marked my starting weight in, next week I'll post my first update and let you know how much I have lost ( a gain in the 1st week would not be a good start would it!) I'm choosing Thursday as my weigh in day as that's the day I used to go to my group in England, if you would like to join me then pop by next week and leave me a comment with your progress - I might start a blog linky if a few people are interested.

All my Slimming World posts are nothing to do with the company itself - I just love the plan and everything I write is purely my own thoughts and opinions. I am happy to share my experience but am not a consultant or an expert!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

I want..... please?

I was having a debate with a friend recently over the difference between saying 'I want'  and 'I would like' She was trying to teach her daughter to say 'I would like' whereas I said I didn't mind if Leo said 'I want' as long as he followed it with 'Please'   I'm not sure now if he 'should' be saying 'I would like', I suppose it sounds more polite?

In Greek apparently they tend to say 'I want' and 'would like' is seem as over polite (so I read somewhere, I may be wrong!) so I wonder if it's an 'English' thing?

Anyway,I may be wrong as many bloggers are joining in with the 'I want' Meme - a sort of tantrum therapy started by Mammywoo as we always tell our children that don't always get what we want, but it doesn't stop them asking! So whether considered polite or not.....

I WANT....

Aaron to have some time off.
to be able to speak Greek already.
to have some money in the bank.
to have a very long sleep
Asda / Primark etc to deliver to Cyprus
a return flight to the UK.
a dining table (and space to put it) 
a 3rd bedroom - actually make that a 3rd and 4th bedroom so people can come and stay.
to grow my hair or have the money to keep getting it cut.
for my friends to be able to easily afford to come and visit.
to go out dancing and drinking (and have a very long lie the morning after!) 
to lose 2 stone whilst eating cake
to meet my best blogging friends
to chuck out most of my clothes and buy a whole new wardrobe full.
to have a 3 year who always listens and doesn't whinge / shout / throw things
to have more patience
to have my apartment magically cleaned and tided (and I don't mean by my Mum!) 
to throw a really big party and have all my Cyprus and UK friends there
to be paid for doing something I love.
to be happy and healthy(me, and my family and friends) ... and rich - I don't NEED to be rich but whilst I'm putting in requests I thought it worth a mention!

Thanks Jenny for tagging me and I invite the following bloggers to join us in our tantrum!

The Gallery - 8pm

Years ago, my 8pm was once a time for finishing work or getting ready to go out, in some ways the start of the day, or at least the best bit!

8pm  - just down the road in Agia Napa, you can still see people heading back to their hotels after a day at the beach, it's not even a time for many of the holiday makers there to even be going out for the evening,  well when lots of places don't even open until 1am you can't peak too early!

My 8pm for the last few years has been the time Aaron gets home from work, it's usually when I would have dinner ready for. Leo would have been in bed for an hour having gone to bed dead on 7pm almost every night for a long time now.  He's always been a very early riser and making his bedtime later usually means he gets up even earlier  (WHY, what is that all about?!) so I like to stick to it. Also he's a big stickler for routine so it's easier not to mess with it - anything for a quiet life!

Saying that, I've always been strict on putting him to bed, apart from maybe when ill or a tiny baby, he's never fallen asleep on the sofa or with us, bed means bed and 'You stay there until morning!'

Then little Loukas arrived,

This photo was taken about 2 weeks ago now...

My Mum had been coming up for several days to give me an extra pair of hands at Leo's bath and bedtime but Louka had slept through each one so I told her not to worry,  of course this meant that he woke up screaming while Leo did belly flops in the bath splashing water everywhere and then refused to clean his teeth while 'Louka was making a racket'

I lost my patience with him and attempted to send him to bed without a story, this caused a full blown tantrum and he refused to stay in bed. Trying to get him back in was proving impossible as I couldn't yet lift him as I was still recovering from the birth.

He wouldn't get off the sofa so I looked at the time, realised it was 30 mins until 8pm and the time that Aaron would be home and told him to sit there, do nothing - no books, no tv, no talking.  By this point Louka had fallen asleep, I poured myself a large whisky (and I don't actually drink whisky!)  and sat next to him.

By 8pm Leo had fallen asleep, Aaron came in and was very surprised to see me sitting there, surrounded by sleeping children.  My look said it all.... and the fact I had a whisky in my hand, his whisky in fact!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Learning the Greek Alphabet

Leo loves to learn and seems to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge!  We conquered numbers a long time ago, closely followed by the alphabet and one of his favourite things at the moment is spelling! I think this came about by playing  'I-Spy' in the car to keep him entertained, it took a while but he's finally got the idea that you have to be able to see the thing you are 'spying' - (no Leo we cannot see a snake....  well we'd better not be able to see one!)   From the back of this he now asks how everything is spelt  - and I mean EVERYTHING, I feel like I'm living in some kind of spelling competition, I'm not complaining obviously, its a good thing he is so interested but it can be tiring!

He always asks what things spell or what the letters are when he sees a sign or writing on anything, my usual response is 'I don't know, you tell me what letters you can see'   When he tells me the letters I then tell he what it spells.   This works well until we find a Greek sign!

Earlier in the year my parents were attending Greek lessons and to help them learn the alphabet my Mum made a puzzle / matching game.   It wasn't actually intended for Leo but once he spotted it he claimed it as his own!

He loves Nana's 'Greek Game' and because of this he almost knows the whole alphabet now.

It's the simplest thing ever - made from a cereal box, with the Upper case letters written on a grid and the lower case on individual cards.   You then place the cards on the matching letter on the grid.

Leo can now name a lot of the letters, only really getting confused with the ones which look like English letters (P,H.X  etc)      Recently he was spelling out a word on the side of an ice cream van,   Κύπρος  (Cyprus) He said  'K, U  (then saw the π) oh no, I start again... Kappa, ipsilon, pi....   hmm is that 'P' or R   next....   O and S'   What does that spell Mummy?  Is that in Greek?'

I think it won't be too long before he overtakes me in the Greek language!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Birth in Cyprus - Nicosia hospital

My latest birth story I have to share with you is from a lady who has twice given birth in the Makario General hospital in Nicosia.

Here are her answers to my questions.....

How much did it cost?
- € 80-100 but my husband is considered a government employee and has a card for the hospital. Cost also depends on the number of days and room you have.

What was the antenatal care like?
Good but read below about patience!
You also just need to ask ask ask questions!
Sometimes I missed the one on one with my first doctor at her clinic but it was still worth it.

What do you wish you had known about having a baby here beforehand?
-A lot of colleagues/friends passed on info which was great!
- I went to the breastfeeding seminars which was extremely useful and informative. I also got mastitis after my 2 baby and they still offered help and support!
-Mothercare gives good discounts until baby is 1 year old and most things are good quality! I live their all in ones!
-Daycares/nursery schools close in august so it is extremely hard for those working in the private sector like me! I don't have that much leave and have taken unpaid leave in the past to look after the babies!

Did you have a c-section or natural birth? Was that your choice?
- Natural both times, it was my choice but they strongly encourage natural births and are very helpful and supportive!

Did you have any pain relief?
-Pain relief was not discussed before the birth but I also didn't ask to be honest!

Did you have a birth partner?
- My husband was with me both times from start to end. I was over due and induced.

How long did you stay in hospital after birth?
- First baby 5 days
-Second baby ended up there for 5 days again. I was allowed to leave after 3 days but then baby had yellow jaundice so we stayed longer.

 What was it like?
- In general I can't complain, I had my own room and bathroom, facilities are nothing special, no TV, old furniture, etc but doctors and nurses where good and most important to us was that if there are any complications they are fully equipped to handle it. If you are in a private hospital and something goes wrong they always take baby to the Makario!

Were you spoken to in English or Greek?
-Both but in general the staff speak better Greek.

Did you have any intervention during the birth? (Forceps, episiotomy etc)

-Episiotomy for both! It seems standard procedure; I wasn't told or asked if I wanted it. I don't regret it though; I've heard nasty stories from woman who tore!

Anything else you’d like to add?
- You need a lot of patience when going for your check ups! Appointments are always running late and when you go to book, you can't choose a time. This was a bit difficult as I was also working!
Keep your file or you will spend forever waiting for it each time!
I wish there was a better system there, I'm always punctual and like to be organized so going there definitely tested me most times!


To see all the other stories so far.....visit my Pregnancy and Birth in Cyprus page

Sunday, 23 September 2012

4 weeks old...

I'm not sure why I brought a moses basket this time round, Leo was only in his for a few weeks and I was never going to be having a small baby this time either.  However I found one on a second hand site and it was such a bargain I thought it would be useful as this time we have to have him sleeping in our room and I figured it would take up less space. 

However, at the grand old age of 3 weeks this was Louka in his moses basket...

He wasn't sleeping brilliantly, which although is to be expected in such a young baby, I had a feeling the basket was't helping.  He's a fidget and kept hitting the sides and waking himself up, he was even making the thing move so much that I wasn't convinced it would stay on the stand!

This week we moved Louka into his cot -  he looks a little bit lost in there but like Leo at about the same age is sleeping so much better already than he was in the moses basket.

The last few nights he's slept a lot better, doesn't go down quite as quickly but once he's asleep he stays that way for a lot longer.  I've also changed the teats on his bottles like I did with Leo to the stage 2, 3 month size and he's taking a lot more in one go rather than snacking on them quite so much. 

Although waking frequently in the night still, he's started to take only a few ounces of milk over the whole night, but more than making up for it in the day!

First 'proper' outfit!

He looks cute, but I'm still a bigger fan of simple romper suits on little babies!    But we were going out and I thought I'd better get some use out of the outfits before they are all too small - Leo outgrew his 0-3 month clothes way before 3 months and didn't get to wear hardly any of the things we were given!

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Back on the plan!

Regular readers, and those who know me in real life will probably be aware that I'm a fan of Slimming World, in fact that's putting it mildly!  I first joined my local group in the UK back in 2006, I had no expectation of losing weight at all, to be honest in my mind I was waiting to say 'Look I've tried it, it doesn't work, I'm just big boned and there's nothing I can do about pass me the cake'

I'd always been overweight (you can read more about it here) and I genuinely thought I could never be a size 12 or even go back to being a 14. I had been a size 12 at the age of 12 and gradually got bigger until I was in size 20 clothes and weighing just over 15 stone.  Exercise had never been my strong point, a dislike came from school where I was always picked last for teams and generally hated every second. The biggest concession I made to a healthy diet was drinking diet coke, and buying low fat mayonaise, I didn't cook proper meals and I ate a lot of ready meals and pre-made sauces etc, as well as a very small amount of vegetables and virtually no fruit.... unless it was on a cheesecake or in a pie!

In my first week I lost 2.5lb,  I was over the moon with that considering I hadn't even really got to grips with the plan. The next week I read up more on it and just did what it said.... at weigh in I was stunned to see I'd lost 5lb and I gained my first ever award - my 1/2 stone sticker!

I never had any plan as to how much I wanted to lose in total, I think maybe I might have hoped to lose a couple of stone but I would never have said that out loud, it just seemed like too much to achieve.  But I just plodded along, following the plan, losing an about 2lb a week until eventually I had lost just over 4 stone!!!!

It changed my life, for the first time I could go clothes shopping and find things to fit, it actually confused me as I was used to finding maybe just one or two things that looked ok and so I would buy both.  I was genuinely confused when standing in a changing room one day after taking in a huge amount of clothes that they ALL fitted, I even rang Aaron to tell him as I felt I should buy them all, utill he pointed out I could no longer buy EVERYTHING that fitted and I would have to choose.

Before and after - 2004 and 2007

I pretty much stayed at my target weight until getting pregnant with Leo at which point I relaxed a little (well, quite a lot!) on the plan, however it had permanently changed many of my habits as I was now used to eating fruit and cooking proper meals.  On the day I went to be induced I stood on the scales and smiled to see I was still lighter than the day I joined SW!

I rejoined the group a few months later but after just a couple of months we moved to Cyprus, this threw me right off track for quite a while and I eventually got back to target (a slightly higher one than my original but one I was happy with) the week before Leo's 2nd birthday.  Everyone told me I knew the plan so well that I didn't need to go to a group but I did - it turns out I just need the support and the  knowledge that my weight loss will be recorded, it makes all the difference for me. 

Now it's almost time to do it again, I do have a group local to me here but can't really spare the money to go. Instead I will be making my own group here on my blog - if people want to join me that's great (you will be able to link your post or just join in with your weight loss in the comments) but I'm primarily doing it to keep myself motivated, knowing that I have to post my losses (and inevitable occasional gains) for the world to see! 

I've set myself the start date of October, as Louka will then be 6 weeks old, in the meantime I'll dig out all my old SW books and make sure I've filled my cupboards with my old SW favourites!

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Birth in Cyprus - Limassol General Hospital

This week's birth story comes from a Romanian lady who gave birth this year in the General hospital in Limassol. She was initially nervous about this decision as her friends were advising her to go Private.  I am pleased to say that yet again I'm sharing a story of someone who was happy overall with the care in the General hospital.

Here is her story....

Two months ago I had my first baby. I gave birth in Limassol, in the Municipal Hospital. I was so pleased with the antenatal care and also with the help I got during labor and after birth that I've decided to write my story.

So...since I found out I was pregnant I decided to go for my routine check-ups in the hospital. All the tests, ultrasounds, etc are free of charge and the help of midwives through the whole pregnancy is essential. Yes, is true that you are waiting many hours, but I was happy to find easily someone to trust, to ask anything it cross my mind and to feel that I am not charged a fortune for any piece of advice. 

I dreamed to have a natural delivery, with no pain relief, with no intervention, but I was not lucky enough. On 24th of February I went at the hospital for an induction of the labor as the placenta was getting older. The doctor applied the gel at 12 o'clock in the afternoon, but till 23:00 I had only 1 cm dilatation. That time they decided to put me in surgery. During the operation they saw that the placenta came of the uterus and I was bleeding internally. Fortunately I had the best surgeon taking care of me, Dr Haralambous. 
I am really grateful to all the nurses they took such a good care of us during the 5 days in the hospital, but especially to Ms. Sotiroula (resident  doctor), Evangelia and Stella (midwives) which were beside me through the long and painful labor. 

To answer objectively to some of your questions, I must say that hospital's policy allows birth partners (I had my husband all the time next to me) and they really have a nice plan for the new family

The hospital policy does not approve any pain relief. But, and this "but" is a very important one: I was never alone. When I was screaming and crawling on the wards corridors the doctor, the nurses and the midwives were rubbing my back, reassuring me that I am doing well and this helped me a lot. It really made me feel the importance of the miracle I was creating.

It costs nothing to give birth in the hospital, but you really feel like being grateful for the rest of your life to each one of the nurses, midwives and doctors in that ward.

I have to mention that giving birth in the hospital was a very hard decision to take, as every one of our friends were telling us that I'll not get epidural, they will let the baby in the same room with me and I'll not have the time to rest, etc. For me, pregnancy was just a very long journey till I met my baby. Of course I wanted her   beside me all the time and I wanted a very natural delivery with no drugs, without anesthesia.

To conclude my story I will write that I am Romanian and I was treated not different from any other Cypriot mother.


To see all the other stories so far.....visit my Pregnancy and Birth in Cyprus page

Monday, 17 September 2012

Off to 'Big school'

Regular readers, and especially those who follow me on Twitter will know that Leo started his new 'big school' last week. It was something I was very nervous about, right from the start when I enrolled him back in January not having a clue what I was doing.

We had put him in Nursery back in June as in addition to my nerves about sending him to an all Greek school, I was worried about sending him somewhere on his own for the first time  around the time I was due to give birth, I thought this might be a bit much for him to cope with at once/ Although in some respects we achieved our aim - get him used to the idea of school five days a week, it can't really be classed as a resounding success.

At first in his 'baby school' as we now call it, as expected there were tears but after just a couple of days he went in reasonably happy as long as I did everything in the same way each day (get him out the car, put his bag on his back, hold hands and then choose a coloured peg for his bag before delivering him to his teacher then making a run for it!) But each day as I collected him he charged at me with tears in his eyes and when asked what he had done he only ever replied 'waited for you Mummy'    He never played or did anything as far as we can tell.

First school photo

In August the school closed for a week over the big Cypriot bank holiday and afterwards he was even more reluctant to go, this then got worse when he was taken by my parents while I was in hospital having Loukas. In the end he was screaming and crying and had to be carried away by his teacher whilst shouting 'I hate my school, I want to stay at home'

We took him out because of this a week before he was starting 'big school' I was dreading the start and really hoped he would get on ok there. I expected more tears certainly at first but was optimistic about it as it is a proper school - the last one wasn't very structured and Leo was one of the oldest there. He used to say the babies cried a lot!

Tuesday was his first day, and Aaron and I took him together, there were lots of tears from him and in the end we had to leave him with a kiss and run - by the time we got outside though we could hear that he had stopped and Aaron heard his teacher say 'Bravo Leo'  I had to collect him at 11am and he came out happy as anything, telling me he had played with bricks and 'made all sorts of things'  and played outside on the toys, he showed me the playground and I smiled when I saw there was a train there!

Thursday was the only day where he went in with no tears but most importantly he was happy every day when I picked him up. He likes his teacher and each day has come home with some 'work' he has done during the morning.   I can't tell you how relived I am!

This school is a government school and is classed as a Pre-primary, children can attend from 3 years (on the 1st September of the year of enrolment) but it is compulsory to attend from 4 years 8 months until 5 years 8 months (on 1st September) when they will move up to Primary. We could have kept Leo back until next year but I really feel that will hold him back with his Greek considering all of his friends have been in nursery for over a year and have picked up the language well.

My next mission is to help him improve his Greek, his teacher has told me twice this week he needs to learn it so he can communicate with the other children, he does seem to be a fast learner so hopefully he will get there soon!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Thank you Mum & Dad!

For this week's Flashback Friday I'm sharing a poem I wrote many years ago (not sure when, maybe around 2001 when I lived on my own for the first time) for my Mum and Dad.

Since joining us here in Cyprus they have both helped Aaron and I out a huge amount in many ways, more than we could ever thank them for and especially recently when I was struggling with the pregnancy and now with both the boys. I don't know what I would have done without them over the last couple of months, especially with Aaron working 7 days a week.  

How can I thank you and show that I care,
 for all that you've done and the times you've been there.
I could never repay you, the debt is too deep, 
You gave me everything, precious memories to keep. 

Dad taught me honesty, how to learn from mistakes, 
Mum, you try to protect me from those I might make.

I never realised how lucky I am to have such support, 
You spoilt me rotten, gave me all that I sought.
I took you for granted when living at home, 
only now can I see this, now I'm out on my own.

You both gave me all that you could, 
and now you still do. 
I wish I could give back more than just love for you.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Loukas arrives...through the eyes of my Doula

It's hard to believe that Loukas is over 2 weeks old already! The time has passed so fast despite the lack of sleep and huge change of routine.  I've not been online as much as usual as I've been quite a bit busy so although it's quite high on my list of things to do, writing my birth story hasn't been something I've felt up to doing yet.

Fortunately,  I received an email from Claire, my Doula who very kindly wrote the story as she saw it, and sent me some lovely photos from the day. I'll still be writing my own story but I really enjoyed reading this so wanted to share it here too.

"Emmas and Loukas Birth Story, through the eyes of their doula…"
On Friday night I prepared my doula bag, took out the clothes I would wear for the next day and set my alarm. Usually a doula doesn’t have much notice when she is heading out to a birth but this one was different, you were scheduled for an induction on Saturday the 25th August 2012 at 9am.

I wanted to get to  your home early so that I could help you out finalizing last minute details before leaving for the hospital. I arrived at your home at 8am. I walked into a very busy kitchen, Leo was sitting on the couch with his new drawing book and your Dad was entertaining him.  Your Dad played guess the day of the week with him. Your bags lay packed and Aaron looked slightly nervous. I brought with me a bigger ball than the one I had given you, Leo loved this! He ran of to get his other pink ball and started playing with the both.

Your mum popped up too. We ate banana cake and you showed me where everything was in your bag. Before leaving I got the numbers of all the important people you wanted to be updated, Aaron, your Mum and Dad and Sam. I promised to keep them updated through out the day.

We made our way down to the car with all of our bags and the ball. You told Leo you were going out for the day. 

The drive to hospital was fast, despite the parking place being huge and completely empty I decided to park as far away as possible from the entrance and just cm's away from another car, this was quite a blonde moment when taking the birthing ball out to which we both laughed.
After re-parking the car so the ball could fit out we headed into the hospital it was exactly 9am.

Once we 'finally' found the labor ward you were admitted into the last room on the left. The room was blue and very well lit. Two midwifes and the doctor greeted you and did a cervical examination to check your dilation. You were 2.5cm dilated and the baby was very high up still. They inserted your drip and put the fetal heart rate monitoring device around your belly. An enema was given to you and we were left in the room till it did its job. As soon as this was done, the induction began and the synthetic oxytocin was injected into your IV line. It was 10am.

By 11am we were walking up and down the corridor waiting for the contractions to begin. When they first started they were mild but with in an hour they had become more frequent and started to develop a pattern lasting around 20 seconds. At this point I suggested that we start to use the ball and do some squats, this really helped increase the intensity of the contractions. You were told no food or water just a little drop around your lips, when ever we got the chance I smuggled you biscuits / snack a jacks / polo's and water.

By 2pm your contractions were in full swing, they were hard and fast. At the start of the day I asked you to choose a focus point and you randomly choose the fire alarm on the ceiling with its tiny blinking red light. This was when that fire alarm became useful. During the contractions I saw how tense they were making you, your eyes were so tightly closed and your jaw extremely tensed, I asked you to look at the fire alarm and open your mouth to breath. This seemed to help a lot. We developed a little system. Between contractions I would fan you and reassure you of how great you were doing and remind you to breath.

During contractions you would grab my hand and together we would look at the fire alarm and pant it out. Because you had an induction I knew that your contractions would be far more intense than a normal natural labor so I was so surprised and impressed at how well you were coping with the pain considering you had no pain medication at all. I encouraged you to get vocal and make noise, I'm sure the midwifes thought I was deranged mooing like a cow but you did such a fantastic job of just letting go and surrendering to your body. You sang the song of labor like a true warrior.

At around 3pm the midwifes came to examine you, you were saying you needed to push. As the examined you I prayed that you would have a good dilation report. You were finding it hard to continue and starting to ask (insist) on pain medication. I told you how fantastic you had done being that you never even had a panadol, you sarcastically said to me between contractions –it was not by choice… After all your hard work I was at least hoping for a 6, when she said 8cm dilated, I cried. I was so proud. I stroked your hair and kept telling you how you had done it, you were at the very end, and this was it!!! Your urge to push became a lot more intense and they said we would have to go to the delivery room.

Some how despite all your pain you managed to get up of the bed and into the wheel chair. I put the shoes and the dinner lady hat on and ran to your side. You were asked not to push when you felt the urge as you were not quite ready to deliver yet. The midwife told us to blow small candles rather than push. This became a part of our routine although I had forgotten the fan in the room so instead I used a laminated A4 piece of paper. When the time to push came, you really gave it your all. You held tight onto my hand and you pushed down deep. As soon as the urge left I noticed you had this euphoric look on your face. I remember saying to you "this is your body giving you a well deserved high.. enjoy it"

The clock read 3.48pm, I whispered to you, "Didn’t I say you would be done by 4pm" at 3.56pm with one great powerful push Loukas entered the world. He was so pink and with his angelic blonde hair he let out a huge scream. I was shocked he had blonde hair because you told me at the start of the day although Leo is blonde when he was born he had a full head of black hair. Little Loukas was quickly wrapped up in green sheets and given to you to hold, as soon as he went on your chest he stopped fussing and crying, he was so awake, so alert and you were so in love. 

He weighed over 4Kg, exact weight I don’t remember because at first she told me 4.25Kg then she told me 4.5Kg. I send a SMS to your mum and dad and Sam. I called Aaron and congratulated him on the phone. He seemed very shocked that it had happened already.

As I entered back into your room I noticed a magnificent glow around you. The previously brightly lit baby blue room was now so calm and relaxed. They closed the light so you could get some sleep just adding to that beautiful ecstasy which was surrounding us. I offered to go get a picture of the baby for you, just as I was walking out the room he was being pushed in. As you took him in your arms, I took the picture. That moment was so special, at that point I went over, kissed you one last time on the forehead, took my doula bag and left….

Thank you Emma for letting me be a part of your special day and Little Loukas first ever Birthday….

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Interview with a 3 year old - Video Update!

Just after Leo's birthday I decided to 'interview' him. I also passed the idea onto my blogging friends who then actually came up with the better idea of videoing the boys as they answered. After watching  Burton,  Charles and The Boy's videos, I couldn't resist doing it myself.  As I expected, some of the answers changed, and some were just quite random.... the best being 'What is your favourite thing to wear?'

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Birth in Cyprus - Rebecca's Story (Private clinic)

Most of the birth stories I have received so far have been at the General hospital,  although all have been positive the private clinics for those who wish to use them and can afford them are not all bad! This is Rebecca's story, she is due to have her second baby here in Cyprus and like her first birth is planning to use the private clinic again.....

I'm Rebecca, I'm 24 years old and married to a Cypriot man of whom I had a little boy with last June.

I started by going to the General hospital in Paphos but after 7 months being herded into a room with about 60 pregnant women all waiting to see the same doctor who couldn't speak or understand much English, waiting hours on end in stuffy claustrophobic circumstances I decided to go to a private clinic. It was then I started seeing Dr Kontos at the Iasis Clinic. What a breath of fresh air it was to have someone speak to you in fluent English and make time to hear exactly what you have to say.

Each appointment with the doctor cost 30euro and the natural birth with pain killers and a 3 night stay with you own room with twin beds and en suit was 1500euro. My husband works for AHK electricity board so his health insurance paid for a big part of it.

I am currently pregnant again and have this time started going straight to the Iasis for my care, it is by far a more expensive option with blood tests 150euro but with the little one I cannot afford to wait around in the general hospital.

The antenatal care out here is far superior from what I've heard from my friends than in England as we get a scan every 2 weeks to check all is well with the baby and measure its growth, as I am told you only get a couple of scans in England if your lucky.

I had a natural birth although I was induced as when the doctor scanned me in my 38th week he was concerned there was not enough fluid around the baby and wanted to induce me to be safe, I had pain killers for the contractions as being induced gave me terribly painful double contractions, when it was time to give birth I was given an injection to numb my vagina and was given a episiotomy to make the birth easier (I was not asked beforehand). I was very glad for the pain relief as they do not offer any in the general hospital, where as you have the option of an anesthetic and an epidural in the Iasis. The doctor gave me an anesthetic pain killer which helped a bit with the contractions then when it was time to give birth I had no pain at all.

I went in on Thursday morning, had Pantelis at
noon and stayed in the hospital until Saturday morning. All the staff were very polite and the pediatrician was very helpful. The only thing I found difficult was that the nurse that was meant to help me learn to breastfeed etc didn't speak English. I have learnt a lot of Greek since I moved here 3 years ago but it’s not the time that you really want to be concentrating on speaking another language.

What I found really lovely is that all the different baby companies came round and gave you gifts. I had a big pack of Nanny's nappies, 2 packs of Huggies, a pack from Johnson’s, dummy from Chicco and a few other bits from other companies.

To see all the other stories so far.....visit my Pregnancy and Birth in Cyprus page

Monday, 3 September 2012

Theraline Maternity Pillow (Review)

It's ironic isn't it that after the birth of a baby and you regain the ability to get comfortable for a good nights sleep without a big baby bump to accomodate, that the big baby bump becomes a big (certainly in my case with a 9lb 4oz baby!) alarm clock which wakes you instead!

I was really struggling during the last few weeks of my pregnancy to get comfortable at night, it was achieved with a combination of pillows and heavy use of the air conditioning - essential when temperatures were not dropping much below 30 degrees at night!

This week I received a Maternity and Nursing pillow from Theraline. I'd always liked the look of these pillows after seeing them whilst pregnant with Leo but had only used maternity pillows which are much smaller.

This is what they say about the 'Original Maternity and Nursing Pillow'

The most comfortable pillow for pregnancy
and breastfeeding

Stable support during your pregnancy
Relief for legs, belly and a stressed back
Easy to change sleeping positions
Real comfort for baby feeding
Safely molds to baby’s body
Amazing back support

Though it's too late to help with my pregnancy sleep, I've found it to be a godsend whilst feeding Loukas, the sheer size of it means you can use it in various ways, the best I've found is to wrap it around you, using it as back support for myself, and as a comfy rest and support during feeding to stop my arm going numb!

I can see this pillow being used for a long time to come, not only will it be very handy in a support for Loukas for sitting up, the fact that Leo has also taken a shine to it suggests that it has a much longer life in our family!

I was sent this pillow in exchange for a review but the opinions are all my own.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The week that was....

This is the week that saw the arrival of our second gorgeous baby boy. It's a week that compared to the previous few seems to have passed by in just a few seconds!

Saturday was the big day, after a short, painful but drug free labour  Loukas Alexander arrived in the world.  (DRUG FREE! am still shocked that I survived that, you should hear the fuss I make when I get a paper cut!)  Aaron was not at the birth, as was previously planned but my doula, Claire was at my side the whole time and did a fantastic job.

Full birth story coming up soon!

We were then visited by Aaron on his way home from work, and then my Mum and Dad came in afterwards once he had got back for Leo.

Sunday was the day that Leo got to meet his little brother, he was so happy to see me when they got there and jumped on the bed shouting 'Mama I've missed you so much'.   He was bemused and almost a little scared of Loukas and although he peeped into the cot he wouldn't touch him. In fact he preferred to run up and down outside up the slopes and go and look at the hospitals helipad!

On Monday, Leo went reluctantly to school being unhappy with the change of routine but was excited to come and visit us again in the afternoon. 

Tuesday was Aaron's first day off after working 105 days straight, and the only one he will get until the end of the season. I signed a discharge form at the hospital to enable me to leave so Aaron could bring Leo in and we could all go home together.  They wanted me to stay for four days in case any problems came up, but as I live so close to the hospital and my doctor lives downstairs they reluctantly let me go!

It was lovely to spend some time with Aaron and he got to have his first dip in the pool this year whilst spending some quality 'Daddy time' with Leo while Loukas and I had a rest.   Leo was happy to have us home and wasted no time in introducing Loukas  to his engines - in fact we hadn't even got him out of his car seat!

The rest of the week passed by in a blur of a few visitors, feeding and cuddles with both of my boys in a slightly dazed and confused tired but lovely state!

Silent Sunday

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Jingle Puzzles - Review and Giveaway

Like his Mum and his Grandad, Leo is a big fan of puzzles so he was very excited to receive an 'Old McDonald Jingle Puzzle', I was even more pleased as we had just reached the week his school was closed for the big Bank holiday week in Cyprus which coincided with me being 39 weeks pregnant and struggling to find things to occupy him which did not involve me moving much!

The puzzle is from Music for Kids and is a great way to introduce children to music as it comes with a CD and sing-a-long song sheet, as well as the music notes printed on the metre long puzzle. It also has a colouring sheet and 20 stickers.

Leo loved the puzzle and completed it 'almost' on his own - he is quite capable of doing them when he thinks about it but always prefers to do it together. The colouring sheet was also a winner and he very well to copy the picture on the puzzle to get the colours right!  Stickers always go down very well with him too and he loved the fact that he got to place them on the sheet after completing each task - singing the song, finishing the puzzle, colouring the picture, etc.

I think the Jingle Puzzle is a great idea, and they also do them in other songs,

The Wheels on the Bus
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Five Little Speckled Frogs.

The recommended age range is 3 to 6, Leo is 3 and it is perfect for him, I think he would be less impressed about it in another 3 years time so in my opinion age 6 may be a little bit old for this particular product but I'd be happy to buy it for the younger age group.

I have one 'Old McDonald Jingle Puzzle' to give away, if you would like to win you can enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Sorry - UK entrants only please!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We received this product for the purpose of review, but the opinions are all mine (and Leo's) own.

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