Monday, 29 August 2011

A new look

To celebrate the fact that I now have a release date for Scandinavian Scandal and in an effort to jazz my blog up a bit, I enlisted the help of our resident IT guru and queen geek Cherie and this is the result. Thank you again Cherie :-D

You see, not only is a critique group invaluable in getting your writing polished, it's also most helpful in polishing your look.  Because I am told I need one, and being that my tag line is Writer of sensual, sassy, sexy romance I thought my blog better represent that too, rather than being a plain Jane as my ever honest husband nicknamed it. I am also setting this to an adult warning content, not necessarily because I will be posting nekkid pictures ;-) now there is an idea, lol, but because my upcoming excerpts may well be on the hot side.

Who am I kidding... may?

Okay, they will be. After all I am writing Erotic Romance and I am still shaking my head at myself at that turn up. Ho hum, I seem to be good at it, or so I am told, and after all it's not my fault. These darn heroes just can't stay out the heroine's knickers?

*whistles innocently*

Absolutely nothing to do with the dark recesses of my mind ... you understand.


Check out my website too and watch this space for updates and general ramblings about life with my brood. Cause you know, I have an opinion on all sorts of things, and I do like to rant, as regular readers will only be too aware of.

What's that I hear you groan? Far too opinionated? Yeah, probably and believe me, my rants on here are quite mild, compared to the ones in my head!

*cue husband nodding in the back ground and ducking the flying shoe*

You have been warned :-)

Scandinavian Scandal will be released through Noble Romance on November 21st


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Shame on you Bounty

You may or may not have heard of Bounty, but if you are a parent in the UK then you will be familiar with them. Every pregnant woman will be offered a Bounty pack by her midwife, containing money off vouchers off nappies etc,  baby offers and generally speaking enticing you into the whole consumer madness that seems to come with having a baby.

I vividly recall how exciting it was to be given that pack when I was expecting my first baby 21 years ago and there was some useful info in there and sample goodies that came in handy. Being a clueless first time mum I didn't see the irony in the samples of formula milk and weaning foods subsequent packs contained. I was grateful for the sample of baby rice, that I dutifully gave my baby at twelve weeks of age, because that's what you did back then, together with the hungry baby formula and then of course the follow on milk from six months. What else were you to do when breastfeeding didn't work?

Of course I can't blame this entirely on Bounty packs and a tightening of regulations now means that packs cannot contain these samples, but the gradual undermining of breastfeeding and pushing of products continues to this day.

Bounty has received rather a lot of bad press lately for the preying on vulnerable mothers on the postnatal ward.  You can read about it here.

Now in all fairness, I have never encountered a truly pushy Bounty lady. We did have pictures taken of baby number 1,3,4 and 9. The rest were either home births or we went home so fast that we missed the famous Bounty Lady. And the pictures are lovely, if over priced. We got two for Markus, as they were buy one get one free and we thought, hey he's our last and they have come out really well. The lady taking them was very professional and courteous, so again, no complaints there. I was also pleasantly surprised by the contents of the baby and mother pack. It was actually useful! Being an experienced mother I just ignored all the advertising that comes with it.

However, what I forgot was the inevitable barrage of e-mails I would receive following this. Again I mostly ignore them, or at the best skim read, which is what I did today to the one entitled My baby this week - your three week old.

Now putting aside the fact that Markus is only 15 days old today (get your facts straight, Bounty!) what completely and utterly left me speechless was the topic of the e-mail, entitled Sweet Dreams?

It starts like this....

Advice on helping your baby to sleep.
If you're struggling without sleep, read our guide tosleep and your baby .

The link takes you through to the Bounty Family Sleep Clinic which proceeds to give a detailed breakdown of the controlled crying method of sleep training and the gradual withdrawal method.

Still with me? Remember the age baby that e-mail is aimed at?


There are no warnings on that page that this should not be attempted with a newborn and clearly breastfeeding is not taken into account either. Dad can do night feeds. Make sure mum wears earplugs so she cannot hear baby cry. Putting aside the fact that crying is a late hunger cue and recommendations are that baby ought to sleep in the parent's room for the first six months to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - so how could any mum possibly sleep through this! - this is aimed at mothers of three week old babies.

Let's suppose a sleep deprived mother would actually try to implement this. After all if it is recommended on the Bounty website, then it has to be ok, right?

What could happen? Apart from traumatising mother and baby, disrupting their bond and causing harm to baby's brain by prolonged crying, there is a very real danger of malnourishment. Some babies will sleep through at this point. My eldest did from three weeks of age, but it is a rare baby that does. Most babies will need the nourishment of night feeds for many more months to come.

Take our very own Markus for instance. He has yet to regain his birth weight and he feeds lots at night and cluster nursing in the evenings is an absolute must for him. If, heaven forbid, I tried to sleep train him, he would end up in hospital and my milk supply would go up the creek without a paddle.

So I am outraged that Bounty could send such an e-mail aimed at mothers at such an early stage of their newborn's development. Especially as there is no mention of safe co-sleeping or any other method of managing those early, exhausting weeks.

Incidentally we co-sleep and whilst I am tired - after all I gave birth only two weeks ago - I am certainly not exhausted!

So shame on you Bounty!

I have sent them an e-mail to complain and time will tell whether they will respond and at the very least put a warning on that page.

Suffice to say, I will not be getting any further Bounty packs. Useless to me anyway, as we do not use disposables or mushy baby food, prams, cots, mobiles, sleeping bags, follow on milk, dummies or whatever else the latest must have craze for babies is seen to be.

As far as this mum of nine is concerned, babies need love, mummy's milk, a good sling and generous supply of cloth nappies and clothes and that is it!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A week of firsts for me - personally and professionally

It has been quite a week!

In case you have been living under a rock and missed me shouting it from the rooftops, our long awaited bump has landed.

Markus Claus arrived on Monday 8/8/11 at 16.25 hours after a ten and half hour labour, weighing in at an impressive 10lbs 13.5oz.

I had expected him to be bigger than that, actually. He looked quite small to me when he was plonked on my tummy, until I actually picked him up and boy he's heavy! He is also extremely long. 0-3 months baby grows only just fit his length and that is the more generous sizes... 

He was my first personal first this week. Not his weight, believe it or not, but one of his big sister's weighed in at 11lbs 12oz, nor the length of the labour - longest I had was 26 hours. No it was the sheer intensity of it all and my complete loss of control...

But let me start at the beginning.

As regular readers will be aware,  I had been niggling for weeks and everyone pretty much expected things to happen really quickly, when they did. Hmmm, yeah. You'd expect so, but my little budda had other ideas.

I had been having the odd painful contraction for the last few days, so I wasn't getting excited when I had a couple first thing Monday morning. The third one was strong enough to make me get up and glance at my phone. It was just turning six am and I could hear my husband getting ready to leave for work. I wasn't sure that this was it, but I wasn't happy for him to go in either.

So he stayed and kept me company as I ambled along, timing contractions. To my relief they didn't stop, but kept going, slowly increasing in strength and frequency. They weren't regular and anywhere between 3-5-10 minutes apart.

Hubbie and I used the time to plot my next story, as you do, lol. The idea had come to me the evening before and it will be an erotic romance - not sure how long yet involving these two handsome inspirations

and all kinds of ensuing naughtiness for one plucky heroine ;-)

Hmm, where was I.... Oh yes labour... lol

I was getting concerned that I was mainly feeling the contractions in my back. Having had previous back to back labours, I recognised the signs and spent my entire time at home leaning forward and swinging my hips to encourage him to turn.

By ten am we made our way into hospital, as I was in a lot of pain and found it difficult to walk by then. We were greeted by our midwife for the day, Lesley. She was supposed to be on admin duty, but due to staff shortages was asked to look after us. I relaxed immediately when I started talking to her. She exuded calmness and confidence and we established an instant rapport and connection. 

What's more, because she wasn't supposed to be there per se, we had her to ourselves the entire labour, not a mean feat, considering the state of today's maternity services.

She backed me in my decision to forego a precautionary cannula (standard hospital procedure in a multi para, due to the statistical increased risk of postpartum haemorrhage ). I know it's a small thing, but I had one with my last baby and it really interfered with my ability to hold him properly and it hurts, darn it. 

That small hurdle cleared she examined me and I was four cm stretching to five. A small hurray as it meant I was in labour and was not going home again. Markus had moved too and seemed to be in a good position with me contracting away and in control quite happily. We joked that we wanted to have a baby by two pm, which was when she went off shift. We certainly were expecting to have him long before that.

However Markus had other ideas. My blood pressure spiked and she suggested putting me on the monitor just to reassure herself that he was fine and if he was then she could leave us alone. I continued to stand up whilst on the trace, but my legs were getting tired and contractions were ebbing off. Lesley suggested some tea and chocolate to give me some much needed energy and produced a birth ball. 

I then continued to bounce on the ball quite happily, munching on chocolate and putting the world to rights with Lesley and hubbie. The trace showed contractions just ambling along and unfortunately once again all in my back. Little man had moved again, didn't he! Grumble, grumble.

I wasn't due another VE until 3.00 pm, but I agreed with Lesley that she would have a look see and if possible break my waters to get things going, before she handed me over. There was no way, I was going home again without my baby in my arms!

Throughout all this the trace showed Markus to be happy, apart from one dip and loss of contact, because he was constantly wriggling around in there.

Examination showed me to be still 4 stretching to 5cm with bulging membranes and a back to back baby.


That explained the lack of progress and dwindling contractions then. As agreed she broke my waters and to our shock and horror there was thick meconium, very thick meconium. None of us had been expecting that, as Markus was wriggling and his trace was strong, apart from that mysterious dip. It meant I had to stay on the bed to be continually monitored to keep an eye on him. Something I was only too happy to agree to. There is something very comforting about hearing your baby's heart beat galloping away in the back ground.

He stayed happy as larry through the remainder of the labour, so no idea what that dip and all that meconium was about.

She adjusted the bed, so I was sitting upright and supported and almost immediately contractions started up again, much to everyone's relief. Lesley had mentioned that there may be need for a drip, if things did not kick off, due to the meconium and that was the last thing any of us wanted. But contractions were strong and regular going from three in ten to five in ten very quickly. I was still in control and Lesley joked, she would not be surprised if I never needed the gas and air, that Tony kept trying to push into my hands, bless him.

Famous last words as it turned out. She made me lift my bottom slightly to put a new pad underneath, the slightest movement, but something shifted and the pain hit and I was on that blessed gas and air, huffing like a trooper and threatening hubbie with immediate castration, as you do ;-)

I was still in control though and in between contractions managed to joke with Lesley and  was quite excited and confident that we would meet Markus soon. The news that Lesley was staying with us, as they were still short of staff and she didn't want to leave me anyway, but was looking forward to delivering the baby was music to my ears.  I very quickly got the urge to push, but nothing happened, which was rather puzzling.

Lesley examined me again 'just to make sure, you're not doing what I think you may be doing, which is pushing on a 4 cm cervix with a back to back babe.'

Yip, you guessed it, that was exactly what I was doing. Premature urges to push are common at that stage with a back to back baby, so she had me lying on my side to take the pressure off my cervix.

Well, I shall spare you the gory details and I have no idea how long this stage lasted, but forced to lie on my side with Markus trying to get into position was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. I simply lost it as there was no break in contractions AT ALL and the gas and air did very little. I recall thrashing around on the bed with Lesley's voice an anchor of calmness that stopped me from completely losing it. I have never, ever, in any of my previous labours screamed and sworn as much as I did then. The continuous monitoring was abandoned with Lesley following me round the bed with the hand held monitor. It didn't help that she kept losing his heart beat...

In the end I settled for roaring like some demented lion. You must have been able to hear me in the carpark! Hubbie got really worried about me, because I do not act like that when in labour. I am usually calm and focused, but not this time. In the end I somehow managed to scramble on all fours, a move which must have finally shifted Markus into a better position, because the pain kicked up a gear yet again. Cue me screeching that I couldn't do this and I needed an epidural!?! (Yeah def not me!) In retrospect I must have hit transition at that point, because I was convinced I was going to split in two or something with the pain. It was all very intense and extremely painful. Lesley made me turn over again, cause she couldn't monitor him at all in that position and no sooner had my bum hit that bed again, I started pushing.

Somehow, do not ask me how, I have no idea I ended up back on my side with my leg up in the air at some sort of physically impossible angle and the hard work started in earnest. 

I'm sure it didn't take as long as it felt to me and somehow I managed to listen to Lesley and hubbie shouting at me to not push, as the head emerged. One flip of the bed later (Lesley had warned me she would lay the bed flat to help the shoulders to emerge if there was any question in her mind that they may get stuck - we had Shoulder distocia with the other huge baby) and one almighty push later and out he slithered.

The best feeling ever, I tell you. I couldn't really see him clearly as I was flat on my back when she plonked him on my tummy, before the after pains hit and I was back on the gas and air. Another first. Have never needed gas and air to birth the placenta before, but I did this time and boy did it hurt!

Then again the placenta was HUGE and his cord, well, look for yourself.

It was the longest and thickest cord any of the midwives had ever seen. Incidentally, this meant record collection of cord blood. Three times the usual amount, which just added to his little celebrity status in the hospital, lol.

I ended up with a second degree tear, requiring internal and external stitches and once again Lesley was a star. She took her time with the stitches and as a result they have not been as much of a bother, as they were with my last baby.

The three funny things that stick in my mind was me texting baby news with my legs in stirrups being stitched, my reaction to picking him up off my tummy, due to his length and weight and literally feeling as though I was floating, when I got off the bed for my shower.

Well, I did lose a stone, instantly!

We ended up staying in hospital until lunch time the next day, as Markus needed to be observed due to the Meconium and then blood sugar levels due to his size. Needless to say he was fine. Agpar scores of 9 and 10 and thanks to him taking to breastfeeding like a duck to water his blood sugar too was absolutely fine.

We may well have educated a few health professionals, who were amazed that exclusive breastfeeding could sustain him.


I do wonder how the human race ever survived before the invention of formula. Though in their defence I was pleasantly surprised by the care we received. I couldn't fault the L&D, so praise where praise is due. It was also heartening to see all the staff encouraging bed sharing and making the immediate assumption that babies were being breastfed, rather than asking how mum was feeding.

Sadly I was the only one in my bit of the ward who was breastfeeding, but small steps and all that and as much as it pains me feeding choices are up to the mothers, in the end.

Which brings me neatly to another first for me. As I mentioned Markus took to nursing like a duck to water and all was going well, until the dreaded jaundice hit. This coincided with my milk arriving with a vengeance. He was too sleepy to nurse properly and my ever increasing bust size made latching him even more difficult. Cue me literally begging Tj to have some mmm mms. He did oblige, bless him and came off with a defeated, "There's too much milk, Mummy. I can't drink all that!"

Thankfully a good friend lend me her breast pump, which meant Markus could at least latch on again and got some relief. I have never been very good at expressing but this time round volume and speed of it has been astonishing. I think my body thinks I gave birth to a small army or something...

This was the result of just softening the areola enough to enable Markus to latch.

Despite all this Markus got sleepier and sleepier and in the end I had to resort to syringe feeding him. Another first for me. Thankfully he took to it well, without even waking up and then started waking for feeds again. The next day found me having to repeat this, but today he has definitely turned the corner. I have hardly been able to get him off the boob. He was weighed today and he has lost 10oz which is not bad considering all the feeding issues and I dare say come day ten he will have regained that and more, if today's feeding marathon is anything to go by :-)

It is lovely nursing a newborn again, I have to say. I could spend hours just staring at him, he is just so cute!

and I had to giggle at what he thought about his bath...

So that's my personal firsts this week - onto the professional ones.

I am pleased to announce that my story Awakening has been snapped up by Breathless Press and will be published as part of their Anthology Hot Shots Volume 2 on November 25th :-)


So, this week found me with a three day old baby on my lap trying to make sense of my pre-edit check list. Not an easy task when this is the view.

Anyway, somehow I did manage it and am now eagerly awaiting my first 'proper' set of edits. 


Judging by the amount of time it has taken me to blog this, it could get interesting! One handed typing the whole way, with frequent nappy change stops, boob swaps and one complete change of outfits for little budda....

But, hey, don't tell everyone, but.....

I am LOVING it :-D

As you can probably tell by how picture heavy this turned out to be. Whoops!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I'm so excited...

this sums me up pretty well right now :-D

cue, one heavily pregnant woman dancing across the living room, kids wondering whether mummy has finally lost it completely...

No, Markus has not arrived, lol. He is still very much inside, no doubt wondering why mummy is flooding him with all that adrenaline.

No, this is all this fellow's fault.

Remember him? One sexy, very demanding alpha male, who sat on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, that I had to rewrite Scandinavian Scandal!

He clearly knew something I didn't, because yesterday evening found me scanning my e-mail and I opened the e-mail from publishers with a certain amount of trepidation and that familiar sinking feeling. What followed could have been a scene out of a carry on film, with me gasping for breath, screeching OMG! OMG! OMG! countless times and children and hubbie come flying towards me, convinced I'd gone into labour...

If you haven't guessed by now, the e-mail was a congratulations, great story, we are offering you a contract one! :-D :-D :-D

I have been literally floating on the ceiling ever since. Not a mean feat at thirty nine weeks pregnant, I tell you. It took me ages just to stop shaking with excitement!

What makes all this even more special is that S/S is my original baby. The first manuscript I ever wrote and re-wrote. Regular readers will recall me blogging about my re-writes here.

I poured sweat, tears and guts into that manuscript, so to know Sven and Sylvia's story will be published is the most amazing feeling ever! I laughed, I cried and I squirmed during the latter half of writing it. One scene in particular I was not at all sure I could bring myself to write, yet all the while I had Sven whispering in my ear,"You will write this, it's important to the plot," with me going,"No I can't.."

He won in the end of course and got his way, damn stubborn heroes, lol.

As for that scene, I am proud of it now, even if it wasn't easy to write and it is a major turning point of the book. As to what that scene contains, well, it's an Erotic Romance, so I leave that up to your imagination...

You will just have to buy the book to find out when it's published ;-)

I did put up a rather hot excerpt on the Nuthouse Blog last Friday so mosey on over if you're curious. Well, I say hot, but it's actually quite tame, considering...

And if you'd have told me a year ago that I would be writing Erotic Romance I would have laughed in your face. What a difference a year, a good crit group (UCW girls you rock!), lots of reading and of course furious writing makes :-)

I presume I will eventually float down from the ceiling. It would probably be a bit difficult to give birth up here!

I know of course, this is only the beginning and I have a lot of hard work ahead of me to bring S/S up to publishable standards. There are bound to be edits upon edits, deadlines etc with me pulling my hair out, juggling a newborn with laptop etc, but you know what. I say, bring it on! :-)

Will keep you posted on developments of course and at some point soon Markus will stop sulking and make an appearance. I can see him in there now, mumbling to himself, "If you think I'm going to share the limelight with book news, then think again. I shall make my entrance in style!"


Pssst did I say? I'm going to be published.... *squeal*

Ouch, just hit my head on the ceiling ;-)