10 Aug


My baby daughter has perfect eyelashes and I can’t get over them. They’re long and curly and I’m jealous.

I’ve been adamant that I didn’t want to blog at length about my pregnancy and likewise about my baby. The phrase ‘baby bore’ springs to mind. But having written about how our journey started, it seems natural to post something about how this chapter ended. Especially as it makes a happy beginning for the next.

Eliana Emily entered the world at 14.57 on the 22nd July 2012, weighing 8lbs 7oz. She is a squishy bundle of dark hair, dark eyes, long toes, ginormous feet and of course, perfect eyelashes.

After the heartbreak of our losses, she is our answered prayer. Which is what her name means in Hebrew.

For most of my pregnancy I couldn’t quite let myself believe that there would be a baby at the end of it. I almost felt the need to add a disclaimer to end of most sentences. The word ‘hopefully’ became very overused in my vocabulary. But now Eliana is here, the time when she wasn’t is rapidly fading in my memory. I feel that I can finally lay the ghosts of the past to peacefully rest.

And for now, we enjoy our newborn! Every perfect little piece of her.


It’s definitely a baby in there…

15 Mar

And not a kitten. Which is nice. Because firstly that would be odd (I mean how would it have gotten there?), and secondly could you imagine the claws as you push one of those out?!

In all seriousness though, we had our anomaly scan today. It went really well. All limbs and organs present, functioning and in the correct place. Baby is still looking like a girl and her growth is spot on for the dates of our other scans too.

So tonight David and I are two pretty relieved and generally chuffed parents-to-be. Only four months to go!

Baby 22+4

Good things come in threes

25 Feb

The number three has quite recently become my very favourite number, and today is a perfect example of why! Today there are three special celebrations going on which I’m going to tell you about.

1. Happy birthday Dad!

DadI think all girls think that their dad is the best, or at least I do! He has always been there for me no matter what and I know that whatever I throw at him, he will always do everything he can for me and for our family as a whole. But it doesn’t stop there. He works tirelessly for his community and even for complete strangers. This year for the fourth year in a row, he is taking place in the Mac 4×4 run, a 4×4 rally which raises money for Macmillan Cancer Research. My dad never stops and is always on the go, so I hope that today he can pause and take a step back to see that there are so many people who appreciate him and all wish him a very happy birthday!

If you’ve got a few spare pennies, please have a look at dad’s Justgiving page where he is collecting sponsorship for this years Mac 4×4 Challenge: http://www.justgiving.com/Mac4x4team57

2. Happy birthday Benji!

BenjiThree years ago today, Benji was born! Although we didn’t meet for another 8 weeks. I make no secret of the fact that on and off for the last ten years or so I have suffered with depression. Sometimes it is manageable, other times it isn’t. It was the end of April 2009 and I was in the midst of one of the most debilitating episodes. I was signed off work and back at my parents, who were to be quite frank at a loss as to what to do with me. One lunch time, dad brought home his colleagues dog Lulu and the change was instant. One minute there was Rachel with a blank look on her face who wouldn’t move off the sofa, and suddenly there was Rachel smiling, laughing and interacting. They’d been thinking for a while about getting a dog and I think in that moment the idea was sealed. The next day we went to see a litter of Westie pups. I’ll be honest, they all looked the same. Eight little white balls of fur bounding about the room. I picked the one that didn’t nip as much and I called him Benji! I think people often think I’m  joking when I say that he is the dog that saved my life, but I’m really not. He gave me something to live for. He made me smile again. And that is why he is a very special dog.

3. Happy anniversary David!

wedding dayA year ago today I married the only man I ever met who I could hold in as high regard as my dad. We’d been together just over three years on the day we wed and it hadn’t been the easiest three years by far. But somehow we’d come out of the other side and I knew then, and now, that there is nothing we can’t get through together. Our first year of married life brought new challenges. Losing our first two pregnancies  just a few months apart was the hardest thing that either of us have had to go through. But David has always managed to support me in exactly the right way, and where some couples find the experience distances them, we both feel that it brought us even closer together. I am very proud to call him my husband and my best friend and I’m looking forward to what our second year of marriage has to bring. Including of course, the birth of our much longed for baby in July. David will be an amazing dad and I’m sure our child will be as in awe of their dad as I am with mine.

So that is why it is a special day! And I shall be raising a glass of pretend wine to the three most important men in my life. I hope that they each enjoy their celebrations today.

The second life of Harriet

22 Feb

About 8 years ago a couple took their cat to the vet. There was nothing wrong with the cat, but they were moving and didn’t want to take her with them. So they had decided to have the cat put down. The vet didn’t want to put a healthy cat to sleep so took her off their hands and entrusted her to the care of Thames Valley Animal Welfare.

And that is how Harriet came to have a second life.

I for one am very glad that Harriet got her second chance at life, because she has certainly brightened ours!

I don’t believe that she was with the rescue long before we took her and I remember my first encounter with her clearly. I was staying with my grandparents for the weekend and was talking to my mum over webcam. Suddenly she reached down and produced for the camera this huge ginger fluff ball. I remember thinking that that was one big cat! I met her for real a few days later when I returned home and she was just as big and cuddly as she looked on-screen.

If I had to pick one word to describe Harriet it would be lazy! She was never an outdoorsy cat and would stay inside unless absolutely forced to go out. She was a bit of a porker (probably because she never moved), so I sometimes used to take her right down to the bottom of the garden (it’s a very big garden) and encourage her walk back. She’d get halfway then stop and miaow until someone took her back in. She liked cuddles and would wriggle around letting you rub her tummy whilst she purred like crazy. Our vet once described her as being like a big cuddly teddy bear. Some would describe her as a parrot, as she had a weird habit of waiting until you were laid out on the sofa and settling herself on your shoulder.

Over the years we’ve had many nicknames for Harriet including Harry, Barry, Baz, Hazwarriet, Bazwarriet, Bazzer. I’m sure you get the gist. Unfortunately she lost her hearing completely about two years ago so stopped answering to any of them. We’ve never stopped talking to her though, especially when she’d stalk about the house yowling until she found one of us.

Unfortunately over the last few months I’ve watched Harriet deteriorate quite quickly. She stopped being big and cuddly and became skin hanging off of a skeleton. She stopped wanting cuddles and tickles, sometimes wincing at your hand. She stopped going to the toilet outside and although she used a litter tray to begin with, recently she has been unable to even make it to that. She’s been vomiting regularly and developed an insatiable appetite.

Our vet felt that in a younger cat perhaps we could have treated  her more obvious ailments. But with a strong likelihood that she wouldn’t have even taken her medication, ultimately we would have been attempting to prolong what looked to be a rather uncomfortable life. So sadly, today at the grand old age of 18, Harriet’s second life came to a peaceful end.

As I’ve already said, I’m so glad that Harriet got to have her second chance. And I do believe that she had a bloody good go of it. We’ve loved having her in our family and will miss her very dearly.

I do hope that she’s enjoying a good old tummy rub up in kitty heaven.


If you’re in the Thames Valley area and would like to help a cat have their second chance, do check out Thames Valley Animal Welfare. They are a charity and do wonderful work. http://www.tvaw.org.uk/

If you’re in the Maidenhead area and need a vet I can highly recommend Pines Veterinary Clinic on the Bath Road. All our family pets have been under their care and we’ve always found them to be kind, compassionate and with our animals best interests at heart. Tel: 01628 776699

Third time lucky

6 Jan

I’m not a believer in New Years Resolutions. If I want to change something about myself then I’ll do it there and then. No need to wait until the new year starts.

Last August (I think) I resolved to blog more. And for a few months I don’t think I did too badly. Then come the end of October it all went quiet again. But I promise you that in this instance radio silence was a good thing. I hadn’t forgotten my blog, and since then there have been so many things I’ve wanted to post but have been waiting for the right time. Which is now.

On the 9th November David and I found out I was pregnant for the third time in 2011.

On the 10th of December our baby looked like this:









And today, I’m thrilled to show that our baby looked like this:









The last 8 weeks have been the longest of my life. I’ve spent the last 5 weeks throwing up almost daily and I’ve lost a stone and half in weight. But it is all so worth it and I’ve never been happier than when I saw our baby today.

Measuring 64mm, dating me at 12 weeks and 5 days, baby Stockdale should be arriving sometime from mid-July 2012.

So David and I are definitely starting 2012 on a high.

This is our third time lucky.

Something scary for Halloween

31 Oct

Audrey scary catAudrey says “Boo”.

And while we’re on the subject of my beloved puss, I thought you’d all like to know she is well over her ear infection.

For funzies, here is a definitve list of all the names we call Audrey by (other than Audrey) listed in no particular order:

The Auds
Bum facade
Weirdo cat
Rakey Rakerson
Misery cat

All these said with love, of course.

Happy Halloween!

Love from me, David and of course, Audrey


What makes an identity?

26 Oct

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently. When I say recently, I mean for the last year.

It was probably about this time last year that I started thinking seriously about whether or not to change my name and magically morph into Mrs S. I’m sure that it’s a small personal crisis that all brides-to-be go through. I’d spent 25 years being Miss H. I liked being Miss H. Was I prepared to give that up?

Ultimately yes (though the DVLA might tell you otherwise – I MUST remember to update my driving license). It meant a lot to David that I take his name, and when I thought about it, marriage to me was about unity and a key part of that was and is sharing a name.

So in February this year after much agonising and deliberation I did in fact become Mrs S. I’ve spent the months since getting used to not being Miss H, updating my details with various services and companies. I’ve started a new job. The people there have never known me as Miss H, which feels a bit odd.

Then it occurred to me. My name, especially my surname is really a very small part of my identity. More of a label, or a reference point. It isn’t what makes me me. My identity – what defines me – is my personality. My traits. What I do. What I don’t do. The things I like and the things I don’t like. And that really hasn’t changed at all. Has it?

Well yes. It has. But I now realise that it’s been changing for years and I hadn’t even noticed! Sneaky identity. This revelation came to me when I was doing some internet window shopping and came across this cheeseboard…

Violin cheeseboard

Available from Music Room Direct at Not On The High Street.com

I love this cheeseboard! I want to buy this cheeseboard. Well actually, I want someone to buy it for me as I don’t have £54 to spend on a cheeseboard. Anyway, I digress.

I turned the laptop round to David and the conversation went roughly as follows:

Me: I want this cheeseboard. It’s the most amazing cheesboard ever!
David: What? Why on earth do you want that?
Me: Because I love cheese and it’s shaped like a violin and has a bow for the knife! It’s the perfect cheeseboard for me.
David: Seriously? I think it’s weird. Why would you want a cheeseboard shaped like a violin?
Me: Because I play violin idiot! *Turns laptop round so my dad can see* Dad, isn’t this the most perfect cheeseboard for me?
Dad: To be fair Rach, your violin has been sat in its case at the bottom of my stairs for the last four years. I didn’t even think you wanted it anymore.

Oh. Well I guess he has a point. I haven’t played my violin in a long time. It’s probably not even in tune and the bow needs re-hairing.

I’ve always considered music to be a very big part of my life. I blog about music and I’ve always felt justified in my musical tastes and opinions because I’m a musician myself. But in reality, am I? I used to play the violin, cello, piano and recorder (yes – it is possible to bloody excellent at playing the recorder past the age of 9!). I used to read music. I used to sing. And I’m not just talking about school choir or pub karaoke, this was proper singing with a bloke with a guitar and an audience. But I don’t do any of that anymore.  A whole piece of me has sort of faded and I hadn’t even noticed. So in the same way that my current colleagues never knew Miss H, David doesn’t know musical me.

On further thinking (dangerous ground) I reasoned that if parts of my personality disappear, then new aspects form to fill their place. So maybe a violin shaped cheeseboard isn’t perfect for me anymore. But a Westie shaped one might be? People might not associate me with music nowadays, but everyone knows that my dog is my life. Yet three years ago he wasn’t, because he hadn’t even been born yet.

What I’m getting at is that previously I’ve always thought of my identity as this static thing, but it isn’t. Not at all. It’s dynamic and constantly changing and growing. The core things remain the same, but as I go through life and have different experiences the things that define me will adapt and change. If only I’d come to this conclusion a year ago I would have seen that going from Miss H to Mrs S wasn’t losing a part of me.  I could pick up my violin tomorrow and although I might be a bit rusty at first, I could still play it. The past is all still there, I haven’t erased it. I just evolved.

And I got all that from a cheeseboard.