This blog piece may be uncomfortable for some to read. It is about cervical cancer and cervical screening. Before you run for the hills and look for something more fluffy to look at please just give me a few moments of your time. This is a really important issue we need to talk about…and not just us girls! Any males reading? Please don’t turn away either! If there are any females in your life that you love, like or even mildly tolerate, whoever they are, then you should keep reading too and help spread the awareness.

I also know this is not the usual tone for my blog but it’s something that I really feel the need to write about.

It is Cervical Cancer Awareness week and this is a largely preventable disease.

So, ladies, I am going to ask a really personal question…when did you last have your smear test done? Let me ask you another…do you know why we have cervical smear tests done? One more question…do you remember Jade Goody?

I recently joined an online forum/mummy group called The Motherload. I urge you to check them out, it’s a very non judgemental space to talk all things mummy and parenting related. Recently a fair few posts relating to smear tests have popped up and it really struck me how many women do not, have not or will not have it done. That is such a scary thought!

Did you know that every day 2 women loose their battle with cervical cancer, that 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day and yet 75% of these could have been prevented had smear tests been carried out [Source]. They are some scary figures.

So for those who do not remember Jade Goody she was a reality television personality who frequented the weekly glossy mags and daily tabloids. She was loved and loathed in equal measures but she was certainly a personality. In 2008 she appeared on an Indian reality television show and took ill. It was cervical cancer, she was a mother of two young boys and she was given a terminal diagnosis all because she missed her screening. Like so many women like Jade her story was sad, but hers was televised and it prompted an increase of woman attending their smear tests. It was dubbed the ‘Jade Goody Effect‘. She sadly lost her fight with the disease and died in 2009. She was 27. Her illness and subsequent death was very public but it helped raise awareness. But sadly, nine years later her star is fading and the pull her story had is fading also, in effect their is no more Jade Goody Effect [Source 1, Source 2].

Like so many women she put off having her smear test done. I’m sure she had her reasons and many of us are guilty of this. We get the letter, we either add it to our ever growing to do list or we ignore it. But did you know that by attending your smear test it can detect early changes in cells and this can be treated to prevent cervical cancer, that it can pick up any issues before they become big issues and you’re in and out within a few minutes?

I recently had mine after having the baby and it was painless. I answered a few questions, undressed my bottom half behind a curtain, jumped on the bed and it was over in minutes; two weeks later I received a letter stating my results were all clear…and that’s done for a couple of years. Piece of cake!

Let’s talk about cervical cancer

The trouble with cervical cancer is that there are very few symptoms you may notice in the beginning, which is why smear tests are so important. A high percentage of cases are caused by abnormal cells thought to be caused by the high risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is why the HPV Vaccine was created. Without getting two sciencey there a lot of different types of the HPV but it is groups 16 and 18 that cause the highest percentage of cervical cancer, it effects the basal cells in the cervix which leads to abnormal cells being detected. Abnormal cells left untreated can lead to a diagnosis of cervical cancer. This video explains better than I do! [Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Video].

Symptoms to be aware of:

  • Abnormal bleeding during/after sex or between periods
  • Post menopausal bleeding (when not on HRT)
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain/discomfort during intercourse
  • Pain in the lower back


Cervical Screening

If you have never been for a smear test then this is a great video to watch. The test, which is to detect abnormalities that may lead to the cancer rather than cancer itself, saves thousands of lives every year and over 90% come back normal. A small sample of your cells are collected and analysed in a lab to look for any abnormalities. You receive your results in the post. A sterile speculum is inserted into your vagina which allows access, the nurse will use a small but soft silicon type brush to collect a sample of your cells from your cervix and it’s done!

Your practice nurse does these all the time, she’s not embarrassed, she doesn’t care how well groomed you are and nothing you can tell her will make her blush. She does care about making sure you’re comfortable, that you attend your screening and that she manages to get your sample processed correctly. But it’s okay to feel anxious, speak to your nurse and she will do all she can to put you at ease. [Source 1, Source 2].

A really good source to read is Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, do some reading, get clued up and spread the word!



Monkey Music Review

A few weeks before Christmas I was blindly browsing through Facebook whilst stuck under a sleeping baby and I came across a Facebook page called Monkey Music for the Flitwick and Great Denham area (Bedfordshire). They were looking for mummy/parenting bloggers to review their class in return for a free taster session. I love free and the class sounded fun! So I messaged them with a link to the blog and we was invited along to see what it was all about.

It can be hard to fill your day with things that doesn’t leave babies bored and grumpy so I really wanted to check this group out.

So what is Monkey Music?

Monkey Music is a musical class aimed to develop skills, to engage and enrich babies and children with music, group activity and percussion instruments. The cater for babies from three months up to children of four years of age. Their classes are split into age appropriate to ensure targeted learning. The groups they run are:

  • Rock’n’roll: aimed a babies from three months old and aims to help with emotional and intellectual development
  • Heigh-ho: for toddlers up to twelve months and has an emphasis on learning about space and reacting
  • Jiggity-jig: for two to three year olds. Here they learn to sing, dance and compose music
  • Ding-dong: for three to four year olds. This final group helps them to learn about instruments, recognise music and musical patterns.

So as you can see the classes aim to stimulate children through music and rhythm, learn new experiences, interact with other children their own age and have fun with instruments.

The franchise has been going since 1993 and was created by Angie Coates, a first time mum who was also a musician/teacher looking for a Music group. When she couldn’t find one she created Monkey Music.

Our taster session

So, the day we had booked to go for our taster session was probably not the best day. Harrison was on the back of two allergic reactions so was not his usual perky self. The class itself was good fun. We was welcomed by a lovely lady named Kate and her fluffy friend Monkey. We was in a group of around eight other children and their grown ups. Kate was very warm and welcoming and urged us to come and join the show. She welcomed all the little people in song and it was lovely to see their smiling faces. She really engaged them and the babies clearly enjoyed their time in the group. It came across as a really fun and interactive group activity which clearly benefited the little ones who had attended.

Harrison had other ideas! He was feeling grotty, he was tired and grumpy and getting over two days worth of allergic reactions. He didn’t want to smile at the lady with the lovely singing. He didn’t want to shake the bells and he didn’t like the scarfs. He did however projectile vomit over the mats! I have never ran for a muzzy and wet wipes whilst quickly muttering apologies and turning a beautiful red colour! Argh!

I think had we gone on a day when Harrison was in a better mood I think he would really enjoyed it. He enjoys different types of music, specially Music I played when pregnant (like Bob Marley!) and he loves listening to nursery rhymes! So maybe in the future we will try again!

Although Harrison didn’t seem enthralled by the class I think it would be very beneficial for him and would like to try again on a better day for him! I would really recommend checking them out! They have lots of different locations and they offer free taster sessions!

Disclaimer: This is an independent review in return for a free session.


Facebook Group for Flitwick and Great Denham

Monkey Music web page

Find a class

The Amazing Gummee Glove

Time is flying by and Harrison is already 17 weeks old! I never know when the month comes into play…technically 16 weeks is four months but he was born on the 31st so wouldn’t the end of the month be four months?! I don’t know and I am digressing!

He is growing up very fast right before our eyes, he’s finding his voice, discovering things that make him laugh and starting to figure out how to move. Just the other night during a late night feed he decided he was finished and pushed himself out of my arms and did some kind of triple commando roll which left him in hysterics and me contemplating how much worse that could have ended! The little tinker!

Another new development is the dreaded teething! We are in the very early stages but already it is causing issues.

As many of you know, our boy is allergic to cows milk protein and is totally dairy free. He is on a specialised amino acid based milk and when we start weaning in January he will continue to be dairy free until he’s at least one year old.

So here’s a little nugget for you…calpol is not dairy free! It contains a substance that contains lactose!

Harrison had a succession of reactions and we couldn’t figure out what it could be! We started to worry we was passing on dairy through skin and mouth contact so we began washing our hands and mouth after eating or drinking anything with dairy in. We worried we was contaminating his bottles in the kitchen so we had a move around and no food is made remotely near where we prepare his feeds. But the reactions continued!

As a member of the very helpful CMPA support group on Facebook I remembered someone mentioning sorbitol causing an issue. A quick google search later and I discovered that sorbitol, AKA E420, which is an ingredient in calpol, contains lactose! An unknown fact to many! I didn’t even know this as a nurse!

So we thought back and every reaction had followed a dose of calpol; for his jabs, a fever when he had a cold and of course teething. A chat with a lovely local pharmacist lead us to an own brand paracetamol syrup without sorbitol in.

The next time his little gums were red raw and he was miserable we tried the new paracetamol and the same thing happened again! The GP is guiding us through this and has prescribed an alternative. All three contain another common ingredient so it could be that causing the reactions. It really is a waiting game.

At our wits end and just wanting to soothe our boy we tried a couple of soothers and he just wouldn’t chew them. He would chew his hands, whether these had mittens on or not, and clothes.

Enter the amazing Gummee glove!

I had heard of these through a friend and I think I recall seeing them at the Baby Show (I say think as teething was not on my radar at that point!) plus I was following them on their Facebook page.

It’s a very simple, yet genius, concept.

It is made up of a glove that fits snuggly over your baby’s hand with a Velcro strap. Here is pictured Harrison’s glove which is their 3-6 month old model.

On either side there are two silicon textured tabs fit to soothe the sorest of gums.

This wiggly patch has a little baby sensory element and gives a very satisfying crinkle (love that noise!)

The glove it self can be popped into the washing machine and this beautiful heart silicon teether can be removed. I particularly like this because it means Baby can still soothe their gums while the glove is being washed! Genius I tell you!

The product was designed by a fellow Mum Jodine Booth after she discovered the need for teething mitts during her own child’s teething periods (Gummee Glove Story).

Here is Harrison enjoying a good gnaw!

I can also vouch for their customer service. In my excitement in finally ordering one I somehow accidentally ordered two (don’t ask, I’ve also lost two bank cards since the boy has been born so I literally wouldn’t put anything past me these days!)

A quick call to their customer service had this sorted in no time. I ordered on the Thursday, my extra order was sorted the same day, our item was dispatched the following day and it was received and on Harrison’s hand/in his mouth by Monday!

I seriously can not recommend these enough! Your teething baby will love you for it!

Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by gummee uk or any of their associates. This is an independent review.

Elf on the Shelf

For the past few years you may have heard about the trend from America called Elf in the Shelf. Photographs pop up all over social media much to the amusement of many of us, or annoyance to the rest. It now has a rising popularity in the U.K with more and more households taking part in this for fun only tradition.

But what is Elf on the Shelf exactly?

It originates from a book of the same name that was published in 2005 based on the childhood memories of a mothers scout elf tradition carried on with her own children. The book was written by mother and daughter duo Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell and the idea was born during a chat whilst sat at the kitchen table (Source).

All across social media you can see all sorts of posts of what people’s scout elves get up to. Such as hiding out in Christmas trees, making snow angles or causing general havoc when their family are not looking when they return back from the North Pole every night after they have reported back on whether their family deserve to be on the nice list or not.

So, with myself being a self confessed Christmas obsessive and with this being Harrison’s first Christmas partaking in this was a no brainier…for me anyway!

So, please meet our very own scout elf Robin Wintersnap!

He has already been making himself at home, stealing mince pies and hanging out with his best pal Rudolph!

He’s been scoping out the house for all the best hide out places!

As well as making friends with Bunny!

I hear he will start making appearances very soon and reporting back to the big man in red on how well behaved the Lewis Household are being!

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat…!

So it’s nearly that time of year again! It’s nearly Christmas! Magic Xmas is back on the airwaves and Christmas 24 is back on the television! The shops are full of angry shoppers!

I love this time of year, I love December (for many reasons) and I love winter!

For me, Christmas starts on the first day of December. I like to think of the advent period as Christmas too as I just love the run up and preparations! This year me and Mr Lewis are looking forward to our first Christmas as parents. Harrison will be almost five months at Christmas so he really won’t know what it is going on; however I feel this year is about making memories for us as a couple, as new parents and to start our own traditions.

December is always special for us as it’s when we got married, and we are looking forward to our second anniversary on 5th December. I can’t believe it has been two years already! It seems like it was only a short while back we were counting down and getting excited about about our big day, stressing over the little details and looking forward to our wintry honeymoon in Cornwall! It was on our first wedding anniversary that I first suspected I could be pregnant, and low and behold two days later we tested positive! It is also a very busy birthday month for my side of the family.

I digress! Back to Christmas now!

So, as I was saying, this year we are starting some of our own family traditions. Most, if not all, of these will go over Harrison’s head this year. I’m pretty sure as long as he’s got some fairy lights to stare at he will be happy and won’t really care for Christmas. He may very well find the hustle and bustle a little over whelming. Specially with all the family around and the noise levels that comes with family gatherings. But it’s a nice thing to start young as although they may not remember it, you as parents will and you can tell them about their first Christmas and show them pictures when they get older.

The first tradition I wanted to start was a Christmas Eve box! I love these and love looking at what others put in them! I worried Harrison would be too young but actually you can put whatever you want in them! They’re becoming more popular in the UK now and a quick Pinterest search will give you plenty of ideas! Lots of people go simple with:

  • Christmas pyjamas
  • Something sweet to eat and drink (think sweets, popcorn, hot chocolate etc)
  • A Christmas movie and/or Christmas book
  • Reindeer food to leave out for Rudolph

These are so interchangeable and there are so many ideas on the internet as to what you can put in them. Other items you could include, depending on the age of your child/recipient and budget include a magic Santa’s key, slipper socks, slippers, a Christmas mug, a festive cuddly toy or even a plate to put Santas mince pie on. The list is endless! Many people buy personalised wooden boxes to use every year (like you would a stocking) and yet another quick search online will point you in the direction of some beautiful products made in the UK!

For Harrison’s Christmas Eve box we opted to keep it simple this year. I picked up a gift box from Matalan and picked up some age appropriate goodies:

  • ‘My first christmas’ baby grow
  • ‘My first christmas’ bib
  • A festive cuddly elf (perfect size for a baby to hold)
  • A pair of slipper socks
  • A festive book or two (That’s not my elf and That’s not my Snowman by Fiona Watt)

Again, there was lots I could have gone with here. Some ideas could include a new dummy, a pram toy, a rattle/teething toy or even items for weaning.

The second tradition I wanted to start was a stocking. As a child, we always had a stocking and we wasn’t allowed downstairs until we’d riffled through them and found our festive goodies! Once we had finished this we would all creep down the stairs behind my dad, who was building the mayhem/excitement every moment, making promises of chocolate for breakfast, and he’d crack the door open. We’d creep in and check to see if Santa and Rudolph ate their snacks and then we’d run for the living room to see all the presents he’d delivered. Every year, and the magic never wore off!

For this year we found a very cute ice blue ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ from The Range. As we will be starting weaning the following month I took the chance to grab some of his weaning items to fill his stocking with. Two birds/one stone and all that jazz! I also grabbed some more fun bits! Some bath time finger puppets, socks and a beautiful ‘baby’s first Christmas’ reindeer rattle.

The third tradition we are starting is one I was desperate to start and is Elf on the Shelf! I know what you’re thinking and yes you are right…Harrison will have no idea what’s going on! He’s far too young and is most likely a waste of time! Believe me, I fought the urge to start it this year, but I figured what the hell! It’s a bit of fun, I can take lots of pictures and when he’s old enough we can show him his letters from his elf and show him the photos. There are so many ideas for this on Pinterest etc; some fun, some silly, some naughty and some really simple! We are going away for Christmas and I’m even planning on taking him away with us there to keep the magic going! Keep your eyes posted on my Instagram for lots of pictures and I will be doing a couple of blogs about him too! For those who do not know, elf on the shelf is an American tradition based on a book by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda Bell about Santa’s scout elves who report back to the big man who should be on the nice list and who should be on the naughty list. They get up to all kinds of high-jinks and they are infiltrating the UK now. There are cheaper alternatives to the dolls now and there is even a film and an app! We opted for a cheaper version but may invest in the official doll and book once Harrison is older!

The final tradition (at the moment!) is putting the tree up as a family and this is another one from my childhood. Our mum would always want us to wait until after dads birthday but we eventually wore her down and it got put up earlier every year!We would put the tree up all together, argue what goes first – lights or decorations (of course it’s the lights), disagree on what goes where all to a sound track of festive music and a mug of hot chocolate! This year in our house we’ve agreed on 7th December. I’ve always been a 1st December kind of girl but this will be a year to the day we found out Harrison would be bursting into our lives and I thought that would be a nice day to put the tree up as a family.

So as you can see, it’s barely half way though November and it’s already Christmas in my head! Hope you all have lots of fun festivities planned!

First time parents…you got this!

The past eleven weeks have flown by and it’s safe to say we are getting the hang of this parenting thing.

Already in Harrison’s life span, he has battled, or is battling, colic, eczema, a suspected dairy allergy, sleepless nights, baby massage classes and a naming ceremony! Okay so the last two are more fun things for him, but you get my point!

It’s a crazy feeling isn’t it…one moment you are literally finding out you’ve created life, then you go through months of growing that life, then the day comes and that little life is now out in the big wide world looking cute and smelling amazing and you just can’t get your head around that fact…! (This could also be due to the drugs they give you in the delivery ward!)

Then you go home…and reality hits in! Your beautiful baby does not just lay there looking cute and giving off that new baby smell…they have needs and wants. But they can’t tell you…and that, I think, is the scariest part of being a new parent. No amount of reading or attending antenatal classes can truly prepare you.

I feel there is a very popular view that ‘it all comes naturally’ and to a point this may be true. There is a strong urge to want to give your baby everything they need and more. You want to cuddle them and smell them all day long! It’s an over whelming feeling…but it is also totally normal to feel terrified, anxious or even overwhelmed.

The first couple weeks after Harrison was born blurred into one time span of feeding, changing nappies and rocking him to sleep while staring at this beautiful boy we managed to create and grow. We would occasionally sleep in between. Caffeine has become my very best friend.

This is the period you will get offered lots of advice. I will be honest…it’s not always helpful! It is a case of taking on board what people offer you and deciding if that would work for you. Because what works for one family won’t work for the next.

For instance, when we first came home I was constantly told to ‘nap when the baby does’ and this is actually a solid piece of advice; however I am one of those weird people who can not nap during the day. If I nap during the day it usually means I’m unwell!

There have been times since our little man arrived that a midday siesta would have been amazing but my mind is never on the same page as my day time nap needs! It can’t switch off if it’s daylight outside. But this is an example of good advice if you can switch off long enough; specially when your baby wakes regularly through the night, or is maybe up for several hours inconsolable with colic or reflux.

Becoming a new parent, we have discovered, is just a huge learning curve. Because babies are fickle little things, what worked yesterday may not apply today!

But for all the times I’ve felt overwhelmed and anxious or all the times I’ve googled to see if something is ‘normal’, for all the sleepless nights, the poonami’s and the crying fits where I can’t figure out what is wrong…I would not change it for the world. Neither of us would.

If your baby is fed, warm, clean and loved with a roof over their head then you’re doing a great job!

Where to now?

I have really reflected recently on what to do with this blog…we reached the end of our fertility journey and that’s what it was supposed to be about. But I didn’t want to end it there.

Ive rambled all the way though our journey from the start to end. I waffled through our awkward appointments, my crazy dietary changes to ‘help’ us fall pregnant right through to our pregnancy announcement, my whole pregnancy and Harrison’s birth announcement/story.

So what now…?

Now I join the herds of other ‘mummy bloggers’ and instead of waffling about our infertility journey, I’ll waffle about the adventure of being a first time mum and where ever that takes us!