When You Know, You Know

We’re a few days past Valentine’s Day now, and there’s been a fair distribution of love on my social media timelines between couples, but there has also been some single friends out there posting about how they’re ‘#ForeverAlone’ or how online dating will never lead to anything etc.

So here I am, the happily married mother of one, to tell you that you’re wrong. I kid. But, seriously, you might just be.

I’m a strong believer in everything happening for a reason. I guess in a sense, I’ve had to be. There’s been some seriously low points in my life that at the time I couldn’t see a way out of, but now I look back on them and can’t see how I never saw the way out sooner. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, after all.

Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye

Is an auld Scots saying that I’ve come to live my life by. It simply means that what is meant to be will be, and you won’t miss anything that’s meant for you. Now, call it fate, call it hard work, call it dumb luck. Whatever you call it, what’s meant to happen will always happen.

I’ve been in my fair share of pretty tough relationships, I’ve been in relationships that were toxic and relationships that were simply convenient. At the time, I would think that this was what was meant for me, but again, looking back I can see that it wasn’t. Well, not in the “forever and ever” sense, but they were definitely there to teach me life lessons. To teach me that I can be bold and travel to different countries solo. To teach me about other people’s friendships. To teach me that rebounds never work. To teach me to never feel pressured into things that you’re not comfortable with – whether that’s pressure coming from your partner or from your social group. To teach me that, no matter what, no matter the mistake, I will always have people there who have my back. The main thing that these relationships taught me though, is to never give up on the hope of sheer blissful happiness.

After I broke up with a previous boyfriend, I joined Plenty of Fish (POF), a fairly popular dating site. After sieving through your typical amount of dick pics and “hey sexy” (yuck) messages, I happened to find my husband and father of my child.

Andrew and I started chatting, and quickly we were messaging constantly. It felt like I’d started reconnecting with an old friend who I hadn’t spoken to for years. There was nothing creepy or strange or unnatural about our messages, and most importantly our connection. We found out we had a tonne in common and just the right amount of differences to keep things interesting. We met a few days later for dinner, and the rest as they say, is history.

We went from dating to in a relationship pretty quickly, and we simply knew that we loved each other and wanted this to be a forever kinda thing. We joke proposed to each other regularly in those early days, talked about how we’d always want two kids, and how we’d build a Lego collection together as well as a family.

He was the first person, never mind boyfriend, to make me feel loved for every single aspect of me. I was always able to be open about my mental health with him, always able to turn to him and always able to count on him. And that’s when I realised that this was the first time I’d been in love. Not your roses and fancy dinners love, but your weekly shop and Saturday morning cartoons kinda love.

Now, I’m not naive. I know that this doesn’t happen for everyone, heck, it was the first time it had happened for me. I guess, what I’m saying is that dating apps and online dating can work. There are real success stories there, and I don’t think that’s completely down to algorithms and luck. It also takes courage and work, just like meeting any type of life partner does and should take.

So, if you’re wondering if the right person is out there for you, or you’re struggling to have online dating work for you, please feel free to read the below tips:

Five Tips for Online Dating

  1. Stay away from cliches – now, I say this even though my tag line on my POF profile was “hello, is it me you’re looking for?” ‘Cause I love a bad pun as much as the bad person, but what I mean by this is the bad online dating cliches. The creeper who wants photos sent to them constantly, the person who constantly hounds you to meet irl, the person who just constantly messages you with “hey x” etc. Stay away from cliches and be yourself. The people you’re trying to talk to are people. Ask them about themselves, be more bold than a simple greeting.
  2. Have a conversation starter in your profile – my username was a quote from my favourite Doctor Who episode, Vincent and The Doctor. I had put on my profile that if someone knew where the quote was from, then I was already planning our wedding. The first message Andrew sent me was simply “Vincent and The Doctor episode of Doctor Who”, and that got me chatting straight away. (I later found out he’d googled it, but let’s ignore that fact just now). The point is, have something on your profile that people can converse with you about, instead of just your love life.
  3. Have patience and read the other person – now, you may be super keen on someone and want to talk to them all the time, but the thing is some people have busy lives and aren’t able to be on their phone constantly. Just because someone doesn’t reply to you straight away doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like you. Be patient. Don’t rush from chatting to dating if one party isn’t completely ready. I had a guy who bought us tickets to a gig, despite us not having met in person yet, and is not having any real chemistry. He then got really pissed when I said I was in a relationship, saying how he was going to have to sell the tickets. The tickets that I did not ask him to buy. Reading the other person is super important. As much as it would be wonderful if everyone we liked, liked us back, the world isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always happen. When it does happen don’t be disheartened. Just remember that there’s no point poking a fire after the flame has gone out, and that whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye.
  4. Be yourself – it’s the most cliche piece of advice that anyone could ever give another live being, but it’s the truth. There is no point pretending to be something or someone (helloooo Catfish), that you’re not. At the end of the day the end goal of online dating is a relationship, how are you going to be in a relationship with someone if they don’t know the real you?
  5. Do not send unsolicited sexts – this should be seen as common sense. Don’t send dick pics or nudes that haven’t been asked for. Don’t send sexually explicit messages that haven’t been led to or asked for and for GODS sake don’t get pissed when someone calls you out for it.

Now, it’s up to you. You can take this entire blog entry with a pinch of salt, or you can give it a bash. Let me know if you do take any of this advice and definitely let me know if it works for you!

Please don’t be disheartened if your efforts aren’t bringing what you want, just take this time to focus on you and your well being. Your well being should come first. It’s the whole ‘positivity breeds positivity’ thing.

Be positive. Be patient. Be you.

X

Feeling Mushy – Mush: The Social Network for Mums

Becoming a mum is the most daunting thing that most women will ever face. You can adore being a mum, love the nighttime feeds and the conversations of babbles, but you’re still allowed to feel like you’ve suddenly been cut off from society.

One of the toughest adjustments that becoming a mum has brought for me is the isolation. As someone who has studied or worked in one of the UK’s biggest cities for the past four years, suddenly feeling confined to the sleepy little village that I live in has been a bit of a culture shock.

I mean, sure, I could bundle Hallie’s 1 million things up, get her in the buggy, make myself the human version of Buckaroo and four hours later, away we go to navigate public transport and deal with crowds of people being annoyed by my crying baby… but somedays, the thought of that makes me want to lock my door and never leave the house again.

My biggest issue is that I don’t drive, but I live MILES away from all of my friends and my family. Now, the simple thing to do would be to make more friends locally, but if you thought making friends as a teenager was bad, it’s even harder as an adult, that is until I discovered the wonderful Mush.

Mush, mush mums, feeling mushy, mush app for mums

Mush is the incredible brainchild of London mums Sarah Hesz and Katie Massie-Taylor – adding to their brood of actual children. 

Sarah and Katie met in a rainy playground three years ago when they were both getting to grips with having ‘two under two’. That chance meeting led to them becoming firm friends, and left them wondering why there wasn’t a better way to find mums in the same boat.

They launched Mush in May 2016 and there are now hundreds of thousands of users around the world using the app.

The primary purpose of Mush is for mums to make friends and see that there are plenty of us out there in the same boat, not only by being able to talk to nearby mums or further afield mums (coming in the next few months), but there is also entertaining content in the form of Mush guides. 

Mush guides let us see that we’re not the only ones who think our homes have suddenly been taken over by tiny dictators who rule every aspect of our lives from now on. (They totally do rule every aspect, but lets pretend otherwise) Mush guides are entertaining, honest, and great company for night feeds, or when you’ve just got said tiny dictator down for an afternoon nap and you daren’t risk moving in fear of waking them.

What I love most about Mush is the ability to see nearby mums, and thanks to an update in Q3 2017, nearby places that those mums have recommended. Recommendations include things like price range, parking, closeness to transport, if the place is breast feeding friendly and the all important buggy friendliness!

Being able to see nearby mums allows you to interact with people within your community that you may not have encountered otherwise. The app allows you to set a distance in which you would like to search for mums (Think Tinder, but without the dick pics).

On each persons profile is space for a photo, a blurb about themselves along with their name, how many children they have, the gender of their children and how old their children are.

Mush has two primary ways to connect with other users. There’s the Mush-ups section of the apps which is a great forum for any questions that you face in the journey of motherhood, or if you’re maybe looking to pass or sell-on any of your babies things that they have outgrown. The best thing about this section of the app however, is that this is where you are able to organise ‘Mush-ups’ in your area. It’s a nice, non-formal way of saying ‘Hi, can we be friends?’, it also shows you just how many other mums are in the same position as you are.

The other way to communicate is via your inbox – for messages between you and those you connect with via the app, which is great if you find a mum nearby who you really hit it off with!

I’ve so far made one really good friend via Mush who lives 5 minutes away, has a little girl who is two weeks younger than Hallie and has recently joined the same mother and baby group that we have attended since Hallie was 5 weeks old (more on that in another blog). Meeting my Mush Mum friend has shown me that this boat may feel lonely at times, but that there is definitely always someone else holding another oar in the same boat.

I think one of the things that people forget to tell you throughout pregnancy is just how important it is to have other mum friends who live nearby, I wish I’d had the heads up as to just how isolating motherhood is and had known about Mush sooner. So here’s your rally cry – download Mush here or in the app store/Google play and make motherhood that little bit more lovely.

X

NOTE: This is not a paid ad in any way, shape or form. Mush is an app that advocates for all of the things that I do, and it’s something that I feel other mums and mums to be need to know about. I’ve even praised it to my health visitor and she has also started recommending it to other mums. 

Have Courage and Be Kind

My darling girl,

This week you’re going to turn four months old, and I’m already dumbfounded by where the time has gone.

Gone are the days of 3oz bottles and our Teen Mom 2 marathons at 1AM during a night feed, and gone are the days of your newborn cry. Instead that baby who was once so dependant has been replaced by a fiery, funny independent little girl with the best personality.

A little girl who wants so desperately to be able to sit up, to show anyone and everyone her feet that she’s recently discovered, to spend her life under her play gym instead of in your arms and loves nothing more than a raspberry being blown on her tummy.

The newborn cry has been replaced with new sounds depending on how you’re feeling. You have different cries for different needs, you have an angry shout and a beautiful giggle to match your beautiful smile.

The past four months have been a whirlwind and I’m left thinking “did I enjoy them enough?”, “Should we have cuddled more?”, “Should you want to be so independent already?” and the ever-present “am I doing it* correctly?”. *it being motherhood

We’re four months in to your precious life and that has had me thinking about all the wonderful things that lay before us. Your first steps, your first words, your first birthday… all of your firsts. Will time ever slow down or will I be left feeling exactly the same as I do now when I sit in your empty bedroom when you move out? Will I remember those night feeds as I do up your wedding dress? Will I always see the little fiery girl who lays beside me now?

Parents have numerous hopes for their children. Hopes of great educations and successful jobs. Hopes of love and friendships. Hopes of travel and adventure.

For you, Hallie, I hope two things. I hope that throughout your life you will always have courage and always be kind. If you’re able to do these two things, then the rest will come.

I wish for you to have the courage to pursue your dreams – whatever they may be, and that you have the ability to ignore those who doubt them. I hope you have the courage to take your life in the direction you wish, to share it with those you love and admire, and to enjoy every single moment of it. Have the courage to stand up for yourself against bullies, whatever guise they enter your life under. Have the courage to tell people no – unless it’s when you’re a toddler and the thing asked of you is to put on your shoes. In that case please just put on your shoes

Have the courage to live life to the fullest, and know that you will forever be loved unconditionally.

Be kind to everyone you meet, for you never know what someone is going through. Be kind to those who are unkind, as those are the ones who need kindness most. Be kind to your parents – old age doesn’t come itself, and again, those night feeds brought some wrinkles along with those precious memories. Be kind to your friends, they will love you regardless of the decisions you make.

Most importantly though, my darling girl, be kind to yourself. Know that you are valued, loved and adored. Know that you have changed lives in these short four months. Know that you deserve happiness and adventure. Know that you will make mistakes, but that everyone has and continues to do so too. Know that everyone who looks like they have it all together, could just be really great actors.

Take time to have a bath, take time to read, to watch that trashy TV show. Take time for you, make time for you and always, always, remember that your dad and I will be cheering you on. Always.

We got this, Stinker.

Three is the magic number.

X

Baby Blues

Postnatal depression. 

Two words that strike the fear into every single pregnant woman and their families. The fear that you’re going to spend nine months being excited to bring this little bundle of joy into the world, just to not be able to bond with it and be the star of your very own soap opera storyline.

Because that’s what postnatal depression is, isn’t it? It’s being unable to bond with your baby, it’s resenting your baby for being the reason you’ve given up your old life and it’s your life turning into some huge melodrama.

Or, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it manifests itself as a type of depression that nobody warns you about. Maybe it takes you by surprise, somehow making it worse. Making it even harder to open up about.

Postnatal depression is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby. It’s a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth

NHS.

Postnatal depression seems to go hand in hand with prenatal chats with our health professionals, it’s mentioned between friends who have maybe suffered themselves, it’s talked about with our partners and it’s described by our national health service as a common problem, but yet it is still easily one of the most stigmatised and taboo mental health discussion topics.

I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, I’ve spoke with medical professionals about my mental health since I was 13 years of age. I’ve always been open about my own struggles with anxiety and depression. I’ll be the first to let someone know that they’re not suffering alone. I’ll be the first to share coping techniques with anyone. I’ll be the first to preach about just how important it is to talk about our mental health and raise awareness in order to reduce stigma.

But here I am. Skirting around saying the words, skirting around admitting it to my loved ones, skirting around mentioning it on a website that I have literally documented my mental health struggles on. Here I am, scared to say the following:

I have postnatal depression.

I have postnatal depression, but I don’t hate my baby. I don’t have a damaged bond with my baby. I don’t resent my baby for changing my life, as much as I sometimes miss that old life when I’m knee deep in laundry and dirty nappies.

In fact, I have a pretty great bond with my baby. We’ve attended a mother and baby group since she was 5 weeks old which has helped us bond by using techniques such as baby yoga and massage. We loved skin to skin when she was tiny. I sing to her at any given chance. I love nothing more than reading to her. I can be having the worst day and she’ll flash me a gummy grin and suddenly I’m Wonder Woman. Sometimes, even three months on, I’ll still just lie and stare at her and wonder how on earth we ever got so lucky.

What I didn’t expect was just how isolating motherhood could be, along with how how scary it would be. It’s the never ending feeling of being judged for not doing it ‘correctly’, whether that judgement is presented by someone else or by my own head.

Am I feeding her enough? Am I engaging her enough for her to develop at the ‘correct’ rate? Am I too quick to settle her when she’s upset – should I be practising controlled crying? Should I be cuddling her more? Or less? Should she be in a routine or should I let her decide when she’s ready for bed? Should I force bath time even when she’s not a fan of it, or should I persevere for her to get used to it? Is she too warm, is she too cold? Should we be out more or in more?

And the biggy: is she still breathing? Ever since those early hours in the delivery suite this has been the never ending fear. The fear of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Whether she’s lying on the sofa having a nap, down in her Moses basket for the night, in her car seat asleep in the car (just her travelling in a car gives me the fear, to be fair), quiet and settled in her pram or I can’t hear her babbling away from the other room while I try and battle the never ending mountain of housework – the one fear remains. The fear that one day I’m going to go check if she is breathing, and she won’t be.

I don’t know where the fear has came from, maybe it’s from being warned so much of the danger of SIDS and being told of all the preventative precautions that we should take. Maybe it’s because her heart dipped before she entered the world and I had the very real fear that we may lose her before we met her. Maybe it’s just my anxiety and I should just get over it. (Because mental health is that simple, isn’t it?)

Right now, my head is the messiest it’s been in a while, but the positive thing is that I’ve been aware of the change and since I started dipping have been taking as much care of it as possible and talking to the right people about it. I’ve reached out to friends, I’ve not hidden it from my husband, and I’ve spoken to medical professionals about the treatment routes that are available. Most importantly, though, I have admitted it to myself. I still struggle to let that wall down with a lot of people, but that’s something I’m working on. I guess the fear is that people have one view of PND, and that is the view that you may not be fit to provide the correct level of care for your baby, and as a new mother I can’t describe to you just how heartbreaking that thought is.

Along with my anxiety and depression rearing their heads, my once ‘a bit funny with raw meat and germs’ thing has become fully fledged OCD. My hands are red raw with cracked knuckles and dry hacks from washing them so much. Since Hallie has been born I’ve cooked around two meals that have involved touching raw meat, and both times have scolded myself washing my hands. I’ve noticed myself washing my hands around eight times in a row simply tidying the kitchen because I’ve put something in the bin.

If it’s not washing my hands, it’s constantly having them covered in anti-bacterial hand gel. I have a huge bottle that lives in my living room, a little bottle that lives in my handbag/jacket pocket, one that lives by the side of my bed, one that lives in the parent tray of my buggy and one that lives in the car. When Hallie discovered the ability to put her hands in her mouth I found myself freaking out when she touched my face or hands in fear of her taking germs from them into her mouth and so would wipe her hands clean with baby wipes. I’ve had two coldsores since Hallie was born and I think that’s where the majority of the damage on my hands has came from as I don’t think I went more than twenty minutes without dowsing my hands in hand gel after all of the horrific stories of babies catching coldsores on Facebook.

Right now, it’s as if Depression is a mountain that I’m climbing and I’m halfway up. No point in going back down, as there’s an equal distance to the top, but the top seems forever away and I simply can’t be bothered getting there, but Anxiety is at the top of the mountain dangling my baby over the edge and there’s OCD whispering in my ear that I better wash my hands in water as hot as lava before I can touch that baby because just think of all the germs on them from climbing this mountain.

I guess it just feels never ending, like I can never catch a break. I have a tribe of people begging to take Hallie for a few hours or overnight so that we can catch a break from her, but the truth is that I don’t need a break from her, I need a break from my head and if anything, my head is just worse when I’m not with her because I’m worried that she’s unsettled, or that she’s confused as to why her mummy has abandoned her, or whoever she’s with isn’t following the precaution guidelines put in place for SIDS and I’m going to get a call telling me that something’s wrong.

It’s like a never ending pressure. A pressure to be a good Mum, wife, daughter, sister, Auntie, friend, daughter in-law etc etc. It’s the self doubt, the fear of judgement and feeling like me taking time to get used to being a mum is unfair on other people, including Hallie and Andrew. The feeling that I’m being rushed into this adjustment and the pressure that I’m not adjusting correctly.

I don’t know what I hope to achieve with this post – maybe it’s an explanation to those people who aren’t sure where Chrisselle has gone since Hallie arrived, maybe it’s an explanation for those who think I’m trying to keep her all to myself, maybe it’s speaking about my own experience so that if there’s anyone else feeling the same as I do, they don’t feel so isolated, or maybe, it’s just a chance for me to get some quiet in my head, to make some room for the words of Three Little Pigs that have engrained themselves into my brain.

2017 brought with it a lot of fantastic moments in my life, but it also brought a whole lot of change, and maybe my head is just taking some time to catch up. I’m doing everything I can to make myself a better version of me. Not just for me though, for my loved ones, and mainly for Hallie and Andrew.

I might be halfway up the mountain, but one day I’ll be at the top and that’s the main thing.

Love x

#ThankYouMidwife

Recently, Pampers UK have been running an advertising campaign entitled #ThankYouMidwife, part of this campaign was the one Christmas advert that managed to set me off everytime it popped up on my TV this Christmas, and at first I wasn’t sure why – but now I think I’ve cracked it.

Before you have a child, you think that the midwife is just someone who will help you along the way and be there when you eventually bring your little pink bundle into this world, well, that’s at least what I thought.

The truth is, in my case at least, there will be more than one midwife during your pregnant journey. You’ll bond with some of them, and some of them you may not click with, thankfully however I seemed to gel well with every midwife who cared for me throughout my pregnancy.

From Lindsey who was there for me when I had a breakdown about the complete and utter fear of the chances of miscarriage and the pregnancy friendly honeymoon tips, to the countless midwives at Forth Valley Royal Hospital who reassured me that my pregnancy was progressing perfectly and took pity on me being very pregnant in the height of summer – they all made my pregnancy that bit more special.

There are however three people that I want to thank. The three people who were there during my labour (not including Andrew and my mum who were the best birthing partners I could’ve wished for and I will never be able to thank them enough). Those three people are Lindsey, Nadine and one more student member of staff who I can’t for the life of me remember her name. These three woman made my birthing experience as positive as possible.

Their professionalism and friendliness was second-to-none and I can’t explain how thankful I am to them for helping me bring my little girl into this world.

Thank you to Lindsey for firstly putting me at ease when I was six months pregnant and ended up in triage as I was showing signs of preeclampsia – thankfully, it was nothing to worry about and I was just dehydrated and being visited by the swollen ankle fairy. There are two funny stories about this visit to triage one of which was bumping into Andrew’s old friend whilst she was in labour and him thinking it was the perfect time to say hello and the second being that Lindsey confused me with another patient and said ‘Well, with two of them in there, it’s going to be a bit of a squeeze’, I don’t think Andrew and I have ever recovered from the fear that induced. The second thing I want to thank Lindsey for is being the calm force that greeted me when I entered triage three months later in labour, ten days overdue and in more pain than I can describe. Thank you for calming me down, for explaining what was happening, for making me feel safe and for admitting me and handing me over to your colleagues – and then checking on us the following morning when you came back on shift.

Thank you to the student member of staff who reassured me that everything would be fine and that I could get through it. Thank you for holding my hand and guiding my husband as he wheeled me to the delivery suite. Thank you for making me laugh through contractions, and helping me not to panic when my waters finally broke. Thank you for showing the care and professionalism of a fully fledged member of staff – I hope you have the best experiences throughout your education and take them with you into your career. You’re made for this job and everyone who encounters you will be lucky to.

And lastly, thank you to Nadine. Thank you for spending the majority of my labour in my room with me. Thank you for your quick thinking and acting when Hallie’s heart rate dropped during labour. Thank you for giving me the numerous kicks up the butt that I needed to get through. Thank you for the diamorphine, and for telling me that I would maybe get an epidural – even though we both knew it wasn’t going to happen. Thank you for looking after my mum and my husband as well as me. Thank you for the laughter and the radio. Thank you for not mentioning the you-know-what that happens to most people during labour. Mainly however, thank you for delivering my beautiful baby. Thank you for giving us the best gift we could ever ask for, thank you for her smiles, her laugh and her daily milestones that astound us. Thank you for coming in to see us before you went home after a long shift to make sure we were getting on okay. Thank you for everything – especially the tea and toast.

I am so eternally grateful to live in a country where the NHS is a thing. The staff of the NHS are incredible and I know that during the time I delivered Hallie, the maternity unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital was stretched to its limits – so much so that my induction two days prior had to be cancelled as it wouldve been dangerous to induce me due to staffing levels.

Thank you to all of you midwives for choosing midwifery. Thank you for the things you do for families every day up and down the country and around the world. Thank you for changing lives and bringing them into this world – your hard work does not go unnoticed.

Love x

Chrisselle Who?

Hello strangers, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

What a whirlwind these past four years have been. Moving to glasgow, completing my HND in photography and taking a ‘gap year’.

Or rather, that was the plan. What actually happened was the best year of my life. I got a promotion at the job I’d done for three summers, a promotion that will hopefully help lead me to my dream of being a teacher. I got married – MARRIED! An actual adult, you could say. And then something really surprised us – we became parents to a beautiful little girl named Hallie. She astounds me every day with something new that she does, or what she smiles at.

Right now, I’m having the first bath I’ve had in four years. I promise I’ve showered in between, but our boiler wasn’t great when we moved in and we couldn’t run a bath because of it – we got it fixed when I was pregnant, but I was too pregnant to trust my ability to get in or out of the bath and since Hallie’s came along, time to myself is something that rarely happens. Right now, for example I’m listening to her cry from the other room and I’m fighting every urge in me to go to her and just take this time for me. (She’s perfectly fine, her daddy is feeding her but she’s a greedy baby and doesn’t like having to stop for burps)

Out of all of these changes, I’d say that parenthood is definitely the hardest – for a good few reasons. Don’t get me wrong, that little face makes me happier than anyone on this planet could, but I kind of miss being ‘Chrisselle’, as much as I love being ‘Mummy’.

A funny thing happens the moment you become pregnant. People start treating you differently, they ask you questions that are far too personal – “will you breastfeed?” was a favourite for those around me – they treat you like you’re about to break at any moment, they stop inviting you to things because you’ll most likely be too tired to go to them (but hey, an invite is always nice), and they will comment on your body for nine whole months. “Oh you’ve not gained much weight!”, “You don’t even look pregnant” or “Jeez, your bump has grown!” All become things you hear daily. Suddenly you aren’t just you anymore. You’re you plus bump.

And don’t get me wrong, I loved being pregnant. Hallie gave me a fairly easy time of it with no morning sickness and no weird cravings, but it was during my pregnancy that I started losing myself. I’m positive I’m not the only Mum who feels that way, but it’s true and scary. You’ve spent your life becoming this person, and suddenly you’re no longer them.

Then baby comes along, and suddenly you’re responsible for this tiny little human who depends on you for everything – even though you’re in such a blur that you’re not sure if you even remembered to bring the correct baby home from the hospital.

Hallie is 12 weeks old now – almost three months and this is the first time I’m taking time for me, for my head. My head struggles with normal life – as most of you who have read this blog before will know, but it’s been struggling a bit more since all of these changes and I need to start taking time for myself to make sure I’m looking after it.

(A fantastic quote from the ever fabulous Rae Earl and her book It’s All in Your Head – which I will hopefully review soon!)

This quote is something I need to remember. I need to remember that to be the best mummy, wife, friend, sister or daughter then I need to be the best version of me. There’s a few things that I want to do to make time for my head. I want to learn to drive (finally!), I want to get back into exercise and I want to blog. I want to be able to write again, and have those quiet moments of just my music and my keyboard as I empty my head.

I guess this post is a quick update, and a public promise to myself to stick to these things. Even if I only stick to one of them, and even if that’s just blogging, I feel like it may just make my head that little bit clearer.

I hope that you guys will join me on these new blogs, and that the life of a mummy and wife doesn’t prove boring for you. I hope you’re all well, and that this shiny new year holds everything you could hope for.

For now though, my bath is getting cold and I think I’d much rather be wrapped in a blanket, cup of tea in one hand and baby in the other.

Love,

Chrisselle Douglas x

Heroes Never Die

Hello there, I know it’s been a long time since I blogged, but 2014 so far has been crazy. So far this year I have completed college with an A grade, been accepted to my dream college, celebrated one year together with Andrew and started house hunting in Glasgow. So, as you can imagine life has pretty much been going at 210mph and it’s been hard to catch a breath – never mind catch a moment to blog.

However, one month ago today I got the phone call that I have been dreading for some time now. On the 8th of July 2014 at 5.15pm, my father passed away. The past month has been an absolute roller-coaster. As much as I had prepared myself for that call, it did not make it any easier. It didn’t mean that I magically knew how to cope. It didn’t mean that I was fully ready to say goodbye to the man that I looked up to for 22yrs. It still, somehow, hit me like a train. My hero, my inspiration, my daddy was gone.

I’ve finally managed to wrap my head around this enough to be able to talk about it openly, and that’s what I plan to do in this blog. I plan to get all of these feelings that have been rushing through my mind for the past month down in black and white so that I can attempt to make sense of them, so that I can free up some space in my head for the very huge things in life that are coming my way over the next few months.

It’s hard to process that he’s gone, that I’m never going to see his eyes light up when he laughs, feel his arms hug me like nobody else can, hear his voice or simply be in his company again. It’s hard to believe that I have so much life ahead of me, yet I don’t get to share it with one of the people who gave me life.

People keep telling me that I have so much to look forward to, and I do, but the fact that my dad isn’t going to see me achieve these things and share the joy of them with me makes them seem that little bit less exciting. I mean, what girl doesn’t want her daddy to walk her down the aisle? Play the same practical jokes on her children as he did on her? Be there when she’s awarded the degree that she’s spent so long telling him she was going to get? It’s hard, and it’s never going to get easier. It’s just going to become part of life.

My father was the first person that encouraged me with computers and cameras, he was the person that taught me how to tie my shoes, taught me not to care what other people thought. He was the person that gave me the strength during the hardest times, and yet here I am facing the toughest thing I’ve ever faced and he’s not here. He’s not here to hold my hand and tell me it’ll be okay. He’s not here to hug me and tell me he loves me. He’s simply not here.

I like to believe that the loved ones we lose, never really go away, but this is such a huge loss that I’m having trouble holding on to that belief. I’m having trouble with everything really. It’s hard to deal with the pressures of normal life. Little things just don’t matter at the moment – I can’t find space in my head for them.

The hardest part of all of this was the funeral. It made it real. For the week between dad passing and his funeral I was somehow kidding myself that it was all just a misunderstanding and that my dad was lying in hospital wondering why everyone was so upset. Sadly that wasn’t the case, and this hit me like a ton of bricks as soon as I saw his coffin. He was gone, and this was goodbye. The final farewell, if you will.

I’m writing these words and it still doesn’t feel real. The day I got my exam results my first thought was ‘I need to call dad and tell him. He’ll be so happy’ and then it hit me, that I can’t just pick up the phone and speak to him. I can’t share these things with him, I just have to have faith that he is there and knows. And that’s really, really hard.

It’s been one whole month, and it’s always at the forefront of my mind. Every little thing reminds me of him – for example I started crying at an Irish scone one day, just because they were his favourite.

I guess, as well as trying to help me process this, I also wanted to share this with you guys in order to remind you that life isn’t permanent. It’s not something that’s always going to be there. Your parents will not be there forever, so use your time with them fully. Don’t let stupid things cause arguments. Don’t take them for granted. Call your parents and tell them you love them. Become friends with your parents, get to know them for the person they are instead of just as ‘mum’ or ‘dad’.

Embrace life – the good and the bad. Embrace the people you love whenever you see them, don’t worry about seeming needy or lame. Embrace them for the people they are – flaws and all. Embrace yourself for everything you are and everything you’re not.

Life is fragile. The people closest to you are the people that matter. I could not have got through the past month without some of my best friends, my wonderful partner and my close family. They have made every day worth waking up for. They’ve given me the drive to get up, dressed and off to work. They’ve made me see that the only way I can get through this is by making my dad proud and by focusing on the good – however hard it may be.

I guess, I’m still not ready to say goodbye to my daddy. I don’t think I ever will be. He wasn’t an angel, but he was the best he could be. He was the best dad I could have asked for and I wouldn’t change a day that I spent with him – because no matter the circumstance, I was with him.

But, like I’ve mentioned – there are lots of great things happening just now and I hope he sees them. I hope he’s proud of the decisions I’m making and the life I’m living. I hope he’s up there, with the glint in his eye and the smile ear to ear that I know him for.

This month marks the beginning of a new chapter of my life – upping sticks and moving my life to Glasgow. I’m terrified, but exciting. There’s this safety I feel in Glasgow. And that’s because of dad. Glasgow is home, and that’s because of dad and his stories. Now it’s time for Andrew and I to make our own home together, and I could not be happier at the prospect of waking up to Andrew’s face every day. He’s kept me sane the past month, and I’ll never be able to thank him enough. I can’t wait for our new life together, it’s going to be wonderful, terrifying and beautiful.

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.

It’s time for me to grow. It’s time for me to live. I just have to have faith in my daddy being by my side every step of the way.

Thank you for reading,
Chrisselle xo

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Hello strangers!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?! I’ve been so busy with life in the real world that I’ve been struggling to keep my poor little blog updated. But here I am two days before Christmas holed up in my boyfriend’s bedroom and making sure that I have some time to up date you all as we come to the end of another roller coaster of a year!

2013 has definitely been a roller coaster, but thankfully with more ups than downs. This is the first year where I have felt that I’ve definitely figured out who I am and where I want to go in life, and that is honestly the best feeling in the world. I know who I am and for once I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in life. I’ve never had that before, I’ve never felt so settled and comfortable in my own skin, and I guess you could say that is down to a few factors. Let’s see what those factors are, shall we?

1. Confidence – This year I made a resolution to myself that I was going to try and be more confident in my appearance and start wearing clothes that I would normally lust after but never actually purchase. I’ve always hidden behind the fact that I’m not really a girly girl in order to get away with not wearing pretty dresses or short skirts, but this year I promised myself that I was going to start wearing whatever the hell I liked, and if people had an issue with that then that was there problem. It’s been a year of bright colours, short skirts, dresses and no shame. It has been such a liberating feeling to go out wearing clothes that I like and not feel bad for wearing them. Sure, now and then I’ll get a comment or a stare, but I don’t care about those anymore. They would have destroyed me a while ago, but now I know that it’s their issue; not mine. I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m happy in my life and what I wear does not define me as a person.

2. People – Being surrounded by loving and supportive people has helped greatly in my journey to self acceptance. I’ve got great friends, a wonderful close family who support me no matter what, a fantastic college class full of a mixture of the most talented and odd people that I’ve ever met – they’ve definitely got me through the first term of college, but more on that later!- and of course, last but not least, I have the love of a good man to get me through even my darkest moments. He makes everything seem safe and that is a wonderful feeling. He’s been in my life for six months now, but it feels like he’s always been there. We’re just two matching pieces of a puzzle, and it feels absolutely lovely to share that bond with someone.

3. Belief – As you all know, I’m not the religious type. But that does not mean that I don’t have a belief system, it simply means that I believe in something a little different from the majority of today’s society. I believe in people, and I think that if more people did then the world would be a much nicer place. I believe that no matter how anxious I feel about something, it will no be the end of the world. I believe that every little thing that happens in our lives happens for a reason. I believe that what is for us will not pass us by, and I believe that it is our duty to grab those things with both hands and make the moments perfect instead of waiting for the perfect moments.

So there, the three things that have made this year my most self-confident year yet. I’m so content with life right now that there are only a few things that could knock me off of this cloud; but I’m not going to discuss them in this post. This post is a yearly roundup and I’m hoping to leave it on a positive note!

So, top ten things that happened this year?

  •  Deciding that life isn’t about what other people think
  • Interviewing one of my idols, Rae Earl
  • Being given my own column in the Konect Directory
  • Landing a job as a photography intern
  • Starting college and learning more and more about photography
  • Meeting Andrew and finding the wonderful love that we share
  • Coffee mornings for DLYG
  • Hitting 5,000 followers on the Don’t Lose Your Grip twitter account!
  • Reconnecting with my oldest niece, Chloe
  • Being proud of the person that I am today

It may not be the longest list in the world, but if I were to go through every great thing that happened this year then I would be here all day.

Over the years I’ve learned that life isn’t about physical things, but in the moments that surround you every day. This year has been full of wonderful moments that I will never forget, and the majority of those would not have happened had it not been for the people that are in my life. The people who are by my side no matter what.

As we come close to the end of the year, my head is full of ideas and hope for 2014. There are a lot of people out there who can’t wait for this year to be over, but to be honest I’m sitting here daring next year to try and be better than this year, and I’m sure it will be.

I want to wish all of you a magical Christmas and wonderful new year when it comes. Keep your eyes peeled for a more in depth update in the new year that will include a run-down of our hopes for Don’t Lose Your Grip and Chrisselle.com in 2014. Things are getting exciting, and I’m so glad that I get to share this journey with you all.

Much love,

Chrisselle xox

Family of The Twenty-First Century

Society changes every generation it seems, and it would look like not only our society, but also our needs and wants as humans are changing. Family used to be what the world revolved around, but with more and more families breaking up and us becoming more and more reliant on our friends – be them best friends from school, family friends or even friends we have met online, there is definitely substance to the saying.

“The family of the 21st century is made up of friends, and not relatives.”

In my case, this is extremely true. Although I may come from a large family, we aren’t the closest bunch in the world. This does not mean that I care for them any less than anyone else cares for their family, it simply means that to me, family simply means that you’re related and share some traits and genes. I, however, am a firm believer in nurture over nature.

I share very few personality traits with my family – and that isn’t a bad thing. It means that I’ve always been known for my individuality and for my ability to think independently, even from a young age. If it wasn’t for my ability to do this, then I wouldn’t have the courage to pursue the things that I do, and always have done. I’ve always thought differently from the rest of my family, and I’d say that this is a sign of nurture over nature.

I was brought up to believe in myself and supported to do what I wanted to do with my life. Whether it was my dreams of being a teacher up until I turned 11, my urge to move to America as soon as I turned 16 or my hopes and dreams of being a writer and a photographer – the dreams that I’m living just now – then I knew that I could always count on my immediate family to back me up.

But, as I grew up and started taking full control of my own life, and the people that I share it with, then that ‘immediate’ family has grown – and not because my parents had more children, but simply because I had this beautiful ability to choose the people that I got to share my life with. I think the best example of this is my relationship with my oldest best friend, Danielle.

Danielle and I have been best friends since we (ironically) met at a youth group for people who couldn’t make friends easily. We hit it off straight away with a day full of laughing and general loveliness and ten years down the line I’m extremely proud to be able to call her my best friend.

The thing is, she’s more than a best friend – she’s a sister. Now, I’m not one for clichés but there is genuinely no better way to describe our relationship. No matter how bad things have got in my life, she’s been one of the constant things there to pick me up and dust me off when I’ve needed it, and she’s not afraid to point out when I’m wrong or being simply ridiculous either, because she knows that I appreciate her honesty and more importantly, the fact that she cares enough to be honest with me, no matter how lovely or brutal that honesty may be.

She’s never once got fed up of my dreaming, and if anything she’s been the biggest support of it. If at any point I start to doubt myself, then she is right by my side to remind me why I’m doing this and the things I have already accomplished. She’s my right arm, and I would be lost without her. She isn’t just my family though, she’s part of my family. She’s been accepted as part of my family by my immediate family, and that makes it even better.

“Blood makes you related. Loyality makes you family.”

Sharing genes does not necessarily make you family; the ability to love and support each other is the thing that makes you family.

I’m lucky enough to be blessed with an immediate family who I love to pieces, but I know that it’s not just because we share the same DNA; it’s because as well as being related, we are friends and we choose to be loyal to each other. My mother and big sister will always be my two biggest inspirations, and that isn’t because I happen to have the same blood as them. No, that’s completely irrelevant. The reason they inspire me is because they are both strong women who have overcome hardship and came out on the brighter side. And, they’re my friends.

Life is too short to spend it waiting on people accepting you for whom you are, or for trying to get on with people that you simply don’t get on with. Spend your life with the people you love, and the people who love you for being who you are.

Nobody should ever feel the need to change any part of themselves for the happiness of other people, the only thing you can do is be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be, and the most important part about being that, is that you make sure you’re being the best version of yourself for you and not anyone else.

Thanks for reading,
C xo

The Power of Words

Want to know the one thing that I’ve noticed these past few weeks, other than the fabulous weather that the UK has been having? Just how angry it makes me that larger people feel the need to cover up an uncomfortable amount during the heatwave in fear of being taunted or offending someone for what they are wearing.

I recently seen a girl wearing jogging bottoms, two t-shirts and a hoody in 28C heat, she looked uncomfortably warm and exhausted from the heat. There is no logic in wearing so many layers in a heat like that other than being too scared to show your body – I’ve been there, and some days I’m still there.

I remember dreading summer because I knew that I was going to be hot and sweaty and want to be covered up to avoid stares and comments being made about how I ‘shouldn’t’ wear certain things just because they came in my size.

The question is who gives society the right to dictate what people should and shouldn’t wear? The answer is the individual themselves. If you don’t let people get to you with their stares and comments, then there is no power in their words. You are the only person who can decide if what someone says is going to affect you, and more importantly how it will affect you. For example, if someone said to me that I ‘look like that girl from My Mad Fat Diary’ then I would be flattered, because Sharon Rooney is gorgeous, but some people may see that as an insult purely because of the word ‘fat’. Now, let’s just take a look at the word fat.

Fat.

/fat/

Noun: a natural oily or greasy substance occurring in animal bodies, esp. when deposited as a layer under the skin or around certain organs.

Adjective: (of a person or animal) Having a large amount of excess flesh.

So, looking at the official definition of the word, there isn’t really anything insulting about it, is there? I mean yes, I do have excess flesh, but the majority of that is from losing weight – and I could get that removed, but the truth is I value my life more than my body and I would much rather live a life with some extra flesh than increase my chance of death my voluntarily putting myself through a dangerous procedure.

Now, if we looked at the Urban Dictionary definition of ’fat’ then that would be a different story, but the thing is; there is no power in words unless you put that power there. If you were to read through the dictionary, you would simply see words with no power other than the power to create sentences and stories with them, so why can’t we see words like that all of the time?

Just because a word can have venom behind it, does not make it important. Live life the way YOU want to, and don’t pay attention to those people who feel the need to pass their own insecurities onto you!

I wore a dress without tights this week. Guess what? The world did not end! I then wore shorts, and I didn’t cause the zombie apocalypse! And more importantly, I enjoyed the heat instead of suffering in it.

All I’m saying is that you should wear what you are comfortable in, and what you like. Not what society says is socially acceptable for you to wear. Love that new dress? Wear it! Don’t leave it stored away for the moths to enjoy.

I know from personal experience that this can be hard, and it can be hard to find clothes that you feel comfortable in and enjoy from a fashion point of view, but you are not alone in the big beautiful world and you can find inspiration and tips from some fabulous people out there.

Tess Munster (@TessMunster) is a beautiful lady who is encouraging people on (and off of) Instagram to #effyourbeautystandards and accept yourself for who you are. Following this lady has given me the confidence to say #effyourbeautystandards and enjoy the clothes that I would have previously hidden away from.

Honor Curves (@HonorCurves) is another of my body acceptance idols. You can find her and her #honormycurves movement on Instagram and on Twitter. She’s out there making sure that women of all shapes and sizes remember to honour their bodies instead of judging them. We only get one body, and there is no point in going through life hating the shell you are in. Honor is a great inspiration for those looking for tips on how to accept your body.

There is also a HUGE network of plus-size beauty bloggers out there for you to find inspiration from. Don’t give up, and remember to stay fatulous!

Thanks for reading,
Chrisselle xo