A Magical Woodland

When I heard about this magical woodland event I was excited to attend with my family, including my 4-year-old niece and baby nephew too.  I hoped it would live up to expectations and we weren’t disappointed.

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Some of the girls in my family

The lighting was breathtaking with different themes in various areas of the woodland. Special LED effects, changing colours, laser lights and hanging orbs made the park a sensory experience.  The musical choice made it feel as though you were entering a Harry Potter-esque world so felt truly magical as we entered the wood.

Several paths wound their way through different sensory experiences to a central campfire area where you could purchase marshmallows on sticks to toast around the fire and there were a few food stalls there too selling hotdogs, mulled wine and sweets.  The gooey toasted marshmallows certainly went down well with my niece Evelyn.

One of the highlights in the woodland was the Aqua Rhythm water fountain.   Jets of water danced to along to music and a laser light show accompanied it.  Evelyn and other children stood transfixed in front of it for quite some time.  My baby nephew, 8 months old, watched it from his pram wide eyed so this proved a sensory hit for babies too.

Just beyond the “Heart of the Woodland” there was an owl marquee so children can find out about and see owls up close, including a Little Owl that proved a hit with Evelyn who wanted to take it home.

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It was also a fun educational experience as there were some great interactive puzzles and games for children and adults alike interspersed around the woodland.   The favourite for Evelyn was a game that distorted your voice and she spent quite some time making various bodily sounds through it finding it hilarious when it returned the noise with added depth!

There was a flamboyant chap in a flashing top hat that my niece described as “clearly a magician”, who introduced himself as a physicist so she was close!  He demonstrated to us the concept of a sonic boom using a giant sized Newton’s Cradle style pendulum, that was lit up so as the balls swung they lit up the sky around them.  The sonic boom you could hear rumble throughout the woodland.  It was an amazingly fun way to introduce children to scientific concepts, it made me think they need to invest in one of these giant Newton’s cradles at the Concorde visitors centre to explain more clearly this concept to children.

The rainforest area had dry ice that emulated mist and bird/insect sound effects to accompany the lighting that transitioned into different colours.  I found this area to be the most relaxing in the woodland, whereas my niece said she found it spooky and when there was a load rumble from the sonic boom she jumped out of her skin, proving this is also a great experience to bring your kids to for Halloween!

We were fortunate to have really beautiful autumn weather, it was pretty mild and dry which was good as we had two prams with us that if it had been wet we would have struggled to push round the site, so if you go when it is wet or after heavy rain I’d suggest taking a baby carrier instead as there are a few hills to maneuver too.

We had planned to spend an hour there but ended up spending just over two hours, as there really was so much to experience we lost all track of time.  It proved a great way to tire out little and big ones, as it was excellent exercise walking them up and down hills. Evelyn also ran off to climb on tree trunks and play with the interactive games too.

We had a wonderful time in the woodland it really was magical and my niece didn’t want to leave. We would highly recommend visiting before the experience finishes.

For more information and tickets which start from £12.50 click here

 

 

 

 

 

More of a mother? 

For years I have heard close friends and family talk about how they feel like fraudulent mummies because they had caesarean sections instead of natural births.

Other friends have spoken about the pressure to have done natural child birth, without pain relief, as though the more natural, painful and traumatic your experience the bigger your entitlement to a “super mummy” badge.

Super mother

I felt I needed to write this blog post about the pure bullshit (yes that’s the language I’m choosing to use) of this whole belief system.  I’m someone who has now become a mother as a result of the most painful natural birth, I’ve delivered a sleeping baby early naturally and I’ve also had an elective Caesarean section too.  I can say from experience that all of these make me equally a mother and each of these experiences posed their own challenges, unique type of pain and suffering (both during and afterwards, both emotional and physical pain).

My “natural” birth was undiagnosed breach during which I had no pain relief and both myself and my daughter nearly died. Now this experience, to some women I’ve spoken to at various baby groups, is lauded as making me a “super woman” and 3 years ago in the baby class tales of who had had the worst birth experience meant I usually “won” that one hands down.

I remember one woman at a baby group proudly stating she also had a breach birth naturally and when offered a C-section instead opted for a no pain relief natural experience and said she was proud she’d done it. What utter nonsense? As someone who has experienced it and without pain relief, I can hand on heart say I really wish I hadn’t have been through it at all.

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Baby Aurora a few hours old last week

Yes it is important for women to be able to have a choice in the birth process and for them to be able to have a say in their experience but at the end of the day the priority must always be the health of mother and her baby or babies so whatever is best for the patients should be what happens. For women to then wear their “experience” as a badge of honour, that they can use to bash other mums with (as if new mums don’t already have enough to feel guilty about!) is I think total and complete bollocks.

I’ve had people say to me, that they wish they’d have had the birth experience I had, instead of the C-section they actually did have, and as someone whose physical wounds and emotional ones still haven’t healed from my original birth trauma, I’ve had to say “ermmm no you really don’t want to have experienced what I did”.

So why is a C-section seen as the easy option or the cheats way? As someone who has now also experienced a Caesarean section with my latest pregnancy (actually last week!) I can say it’s certainly not the super easy and pain free alternative that it is lauded as.   Those women I was in hospital with who had natural births are already out and about with their babies in slings, pushing them in prams and lifting car seats into their cars to take baby for a drive.  I can’t do any of that yet because of the wound that still needs to heal across my tummy and I’m limited to what I can lift, stretch to reach and physically do.  I’m also on strong painkillers for the pain following the major operation, as that is what a Caesarean section is, a major operation!  Natural childbirth might be more painful at the time of birth but post birth C-section pain and discomfort wins hands down unless you of course have complications such as tears, prolapse, piles, etc.

Women at baby groups talk about their natural birth experiences in the same way we probably chatted about hunting trips and warfare as cave people. The stories seem to become more elaborate and embellished as they are repeated with some women seeming to get pleasure from reliving all the horrendous little details wanting to out shock or out gore the person before.  There seems to be an element of competition about the whole thing trying to see who has had the worst experience.

If women talk about their experiences with such great delight then why aren’t the genuine battle scars, including C-section scars, stretch marks & saggy boobs also celebrated by society and why are women made to feel bad about them? Should they not be championed as battle scars and showcased alongside the tales of woe?

Why are some women also made to feel bad for having C-sections by men too? Some men when I was pregnant and they heard I was having a planned c section actually joked “too posh to push hey?” With even women giving each other a hard time over childbirth what hope do we have for men to then react appropriately?

Do you feel bad about your childbirth experience?  Have others made you feel guilty about it?  Have you decided to change things with any future children?

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Tiny hands

I feel we have a long way to go when discussing childbirth but it is about time we simply celebrate motherhood no matter how our babies arrived into the world and we should celebrate all types of motherhood too, including those whose babies don’t quite go or arrive as planned.   It’s important to talk about child loss too and alternative experiences.

Love

Sarah x

The Small Things

I used to be a self-confessed shopaholic before I had Violet I loved nothing more than a shopping spree round town getting a new dress, looking at the sales, maybe some new shoes, new toiletries etc. Now I hardly ever shop.

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Violet wearing a new pretty dress in May 2016 & it always cheered her up

Instead losing my children has taught me to appreciate the experiences life has to offer, rather than simply buying stuff. So now we’d rather spend our money on dinner out or save for a holiday somewhere or spend time in the outdoors.

It has also made us more grateful for our friends and family who have been so supportive, throughout these last few years. Yes we have had good friends fall by the way side but many more that have stepped right up to the plate to hold our hands during our lowest ebbs. We are so appreciative of these people, as it makes us realise that as cruel and evil as the world sometimes seems there are good, kind people out there.

There have also been near strangers and distant friends who have been so kind and gone out of their way to help us in small ways that mean much more because of the thought that goes with it.

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From the last party Violet ever went to and she loved a good party!

Some people have gone out of their way to remember our daughter by doing Iron Man contests, swimming Windermere, organising events and other challenges to raise money for her fund helping us to create that lasting legacy for Violet we so crave.

There have been lots of moments of kindness from people that have reduced us both to tears and we love you all so thank you!

Love, Sarah x

p.s. if anyone wants to donate to her fund click here  and tickets for the Violet ball on 29th September 2018 can be reserved here