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ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAINS

Mama and Baby Relaxing the Mountains

With the long summer heat really wearing us all down, James and I thought we should escape to the mountains for chilly mornings, clear starry night skies and silence. The summers in Cannes are very hot and crowded. They can take their toll on us and by September we feel a bit done with it all. So instead of staying home and continuing to moan about it, we booked two nights in a little Eco House or Maisonnette Écologique en français, close to the tiny village of Le Mas. 

I really love nature, but not to the point where I want to set up a tent and not shower for three days with two babes. So this Eco House was the perfect balance of being in nature, with the comforts of home for me. Or as they call it, glamping. It had no electricity except for solar powered lights, which meant this was a true 'disconnected' trip. No phones and no computers, just family and adventure!

French landscape view from road

Cute Baby in a Cosy Bonnet

Cute Toddler in Nature

Cute toddler feeding a little chicken

Gorgeous view of the French Alps

Father and son enjoying a gorgeous mountain view

After less than a two hour drive through winding roads surrounded by towering mountains, we arrived at our quaint house rental early evening. We were greeted by our friendly hosts, three chickens, two kittens, one dog, and a toddler aka Oslo's new bff. This little girl Lily grew up in the mountains and did not have a ton of contact with other kids, so our hosts/her parents were thrilled to see we had brought her a new friend. We were thrilled as well because they offered to look after them while they played, so James and I could enjoy a peaceful glass of wine while I cooked us dinner in our open air summer kitchen. 

Oslo returned in time for dinner and afterwards we all lay on loungers under the biggest sky full of stars. Lately Oslo has had a real fascination with space, the moon and stars, so he was mesmerised by it all. He kept screaming out ''Wow!'' every time he looked up at the big bright moon. We let him stay up later than normal and he fell asleep on James while looking up at the night sky. 

James and I stayed up for a couple more hours, finishing our bottle of wine and seeing two shooting stars. I have only seen one other shooting star in my life, so I was very excited and wished upon those stars for something special to happen. I am still waiting for my wish to come true and I will let you know when it does...

Mama lying in a hammock reading a book

Two babies together at sunrise

Sunset in nature

Father and son cuddling and laughing

Chapel on top of a mountain

My favourite kind of holidays are ones where we sleep in and have no real plans for the day. Since Saturday was our only full day here we decided to just see how the day went, and make absolutely no plans. I have found with having babies that days are very unpredictable, so it is best to just go with the flow. 

It is a good thing we didn't make plans because Mister Oslo decided this was the day of tantrums and saying ''No!'' Whatever kind of relaxing day we were trying to have was tossed out the window. James and I were getting more and more frustrated especially after Oslo refused to nap, so we decided to hop in the car and drive to a picturesque village one hour away for lunch. If there is one thing we know it's that Oslo will no matter what, sleep in the car. Just like that, as soon as James pushed on the gas he was out. So we had a peaceful and gorgeous drive all the way to Castellane. There we had a lovely lunch and Oslo was in somewhat of a better mood. Admittedly we may have been one of those parents we do not wish to be and put on some videos for Oslo to watch during lunch. Shame on us, but he was in such a better spirits after. Sometimes you just have to do whatever it takes to make your kid quiet and happy. I'm sure I am not alone in that!

After lunch we drove back and enjoyed our stunning surroundings at our little house. We fed the chickens, Oslo played with the two adorable kittens, and Louie, well all he does it seems is sleep.

Baby bundled up cosy in a basket

Stunning French mountain landscape

Man holding a red chicken

Father and son playing with a kitchen

Cute kitten laying down on floor

Woman holding coffee looking out at mountain view

For a while now I have felt a bit consumed by all of the technology around. I find even Oslo can be so tempted by it, always asking to watch his show. So not being able to check my messages or Instagram was actually such a nice feeling. As much as I try not to go on my phone when we are on holiday, knowing I can is always tempting. With this trip because I knew there was no way I would have access to my phone it helped me not miss technology at all. 

It was the first time I felt truly present in the moment in a long time. It made me realise I need to disconnect more often and that it's really important to not check social media all the time, especially when I am with my sweet boys. 

I already want to return to this little bit of paradise, to disconnect again and really escape from the everyday. James and I are talking about going back just the two of us next year. We will leave the boys with my in-laws and truly enjoy everything this place has to offer.


Cat standing on bed

Mother and baby cuddling

Funny toddler relaxing in a hammock

Pretty French cottage

Beautiful family together looking at the mountains

Adorable baby cosy in a basket

Beautiful open summer kitchen

Cute toddler playing with a kitten

Woman relaxing in a hammock in nature

Cute toddler kissing a chicken

Cute baby with a gorgeous mountain view

I may have disconnected from technology, but I did still manage to capture many moments from our little getaway. I made a little video of our time in this special place and would love for you to take a look.


Have you ever taken a 'disconnected' holiday? If so where did you go and did you find it hard to not check your phone?

THE BIRTH OF LOUIE


When I wrote Oslo's birth story last year it was therapeutic for me, yet also very emotional. It brought back a lot of the trauma I was burying deep down and not expressing out loud. After I wrote it and shared my story, I heard from so many other mothers who had traumatic birth experiences as well. These incredible women who reached out to me helped me so much to heal, and after some time I felt ready to have another baby. So bing bang boom James and I decide to try for another baby and just like that we get pregnant. What's with getting drunk that one time and then making a baby? I swear there is something magical in champagne. With the initial shock of, what the hell are we doing? We are seriously going to attempt two under two? We were overjoyed and excited to enjoy this pregnancy like we did the last.

Now flash forward my whole pregnancy to the Sunday before I give birth and the day before my birthday. We are at my in-law's home with friends, enjoying the pool and bbq as we do pretty much every Sunday in the summer. It is a relaxing day and just what I need at 39 weeks pregnant. At this point I am so beyond ready to meet my second baby and am getting a little impatient. I say out loud that ''this will be the last weekend I am pregnant!'' I am done and ready to go. I go to bed that night feeling incredible and very bronzed (which is important when you are about to give birth), and of course excited for my birthday the next morning. I was nervous my whole pregnancy that I would share my birthday with this little guy. His due date was three days after my special day and not to sound selfish but I really wanted to keep that day for me. Mums don't get a lot of time to themselves and sharing my birthday was not an idea that thrilled me.

As life goes, I wake up at 5 am alert and with tons of energy, and yes of course contractions. They are super light so I'm not sure what is going on, but they are regular and I am in total denial. I sleep for a bit longer and at 7 am I tell James that I have been having light contractions and to be on alert. I go to have a shower and get ready for the day of me. At around 8 am I have some breakfast and commence birthday present opening with Oslo as my little helper. In between opening my presents I have consistent contractions that were increasing in pain. At 8:30 am I tell James to call his parents and that there is no rush, but they should come get Oslo soon. I am still super relaxed about the whole thing and go around the house just making sure our hospital bag was fully packed, just in case this was the real deal. My in-laws arrive at 9:30 am, and by this time things are definitely real. They come into the living room and sit down and play with Oslo, and it took everything within my body not to tell them to get out of here already. Having intense contractions in front of anyone other than your husband and midwife/doctor, for me is a bit of a nightmare. It made me laugh because every time another one came on, my mother-in-law started doing that 1990's sharp breathing in and out that they do in the movies. You know the kind ''Hee hee, hoo. Hee hee, hoo.'' So she did that while I try to envision waves flowing over me and breathing deeply as I had practised my whole pregnancy. After yet another painful and powerful contraction, I tell James quite urgently to call our midwife to check how many centimetres I am dilated. Soon after that my parents-in-law leave with Oslo, and I begin to get emotional knowing this would be the last time I would see Oslo before he becomes a big brother.


My midwife Nadège arrives at 10:30 am and asks me if I want her to check my cervix. At this point there was no more denial, I know I am in active labour and was eager for her to check me. I lie down on my sofa and she confirms I was in fact in labour, and am already at 7 centimetres. Um, say what? James and I burst into happy tears and I am so thrilled to know it is almost done. Knowing I am at 7 and still have to drive about 30 minutes to the hospital where we planned to give birth put the pressure on. So James runs ahead to get the car and pull up at the end of the street. Nadège and I walk out of my house and onto the street together, and just as I step out I was hit with the most incredibly powerful contraction. Now I should say I live on a very small and quiet street and on a typical day I can leave my home without seeing a soul. But of course today was a special day for me, and as I step out of my house I can see the street was alive with people. Dozens of them! There is a man cleaning the street with a power hose, a garbage man, and some of my neighbours. That did not stop me from having contractions every minute the whole way down and screaming out in pain with each one. We make it to the end of the street and I attempt to get into the back of the car, but deep down I know there was no way I can make it 30 minutes. Nadège says she can check my cervix again in the back seat of our car, I look up at her and in true Hollywood form I say ''the baby is coming!'' Nadège then runs to her car in the parking lot to grab her birthing kit and try to wrap her head around this surprise delivery. James calls for an ambulance to come just in case, because of the eclampsia I had with Oslo we have to be on alert.


So we haul ass up the street again to get back to my house as quick as we can. I enter my home and announce that I need to poop and Nadège informs that it's probably Louie's head coming down, but I know otherwise. I fly up the stairs to sit on the toilet and do my business as I yell that I don't want to give birth on the toilet. Nadège (my superwoman) kneels down beside the toilet, looks in between my legs and tells me his head is right there. Alrighty, I guess we are having a home birth then! She asks me where I want to give birth? James suggests in Oslo's room because it is right beside the bathroom, but I just got Oslo a brand new beige rug and we all know birth is messy, so it definitely can't happen in there. I decide I want to go upstairs and give birth in bed, but that can't happen either because I can't walk upstairs with a baby's head just there. Then I want to go downstairs to be on the sofa, totally neglecting the stair issue. Again I was told that can't happen, so I say fine then and plonk myself down in the middle of the stairwell. James grabs some towels and pillows and makes a cosy little nest for me. It was such a random spot to choose but it felt safe and comfortable, and it was perfect for me. 

As soon as I lie down on my back I calm down and know everything would be fine. Leading up to this moment everything seemed a bit of control for me, so laying back onto James' legs really made me feel secure and confident I could do this. Nadège positions herself in between my legs and tells me I can push whenever I feel ready to. Just like that I get that uncontrollable urge to push and take the biggest breath in and push with all my might, then again, and another time all within one contraction. It is exhausting and energising all at the same time. As I am about to get ready to push again we hear a big knock at the door and unexpectedly it is the emergency team James called only 10 minutes earlier. They charge in with their loud voices and boots and completely disrupt our little safe haven. I have no idea James called them so I am in shock to see that a doctor, a nurse and three firefighters (one being very handsome, so I named him McSteamy) are here. All I can think is, what the heck are you guys doing here? Nadège told me later, she watched Louie's head go back in like a little turtle because I was shocked and taken out of the zone. She assures the team that there was no emergency, everything was fine, and the baby would be here soon. They huddle around us and watch intently which made me feel like I was on show for everyone, but I move past that thought and take another deep breath in and begin pushing again. Nadège looks me right me in the eyes and says ''You need to get this baby out now or they will take you away!'' Okay then, I guess I am getting him out now as quick as I can. 


Her direction was just what I need and she tells me to put my legs on her shoulders for leverage, I hold onto James' arms as tight as I can and I push the hardest I have ever pushed in my life. Then three massive pushes later and only an hour after Nadège had arrived at our home, my glorious little Louie Basil Theis is born! With him came the most incredible moment and feeling I have ever experienced in my life, the high of all highs. This is the feeling I wanted with Oslo more than anything and was robbed of that, so with Louie these first moments were incredible. 




As I was pushing Louie out one of the firefighters was capturing it all for us on her phone. which was a lovely unexpected surprise. Shortly after she is done capturing the moments, she's worried we needed to give Louie oxygen and to take him away. Nadège told them that he is healthy and just fine, and he could stay in my arms. These first minutes with Louie were short lived as the emergency team want to take me to the hospital right away. I will never forget McSteamy asking me if I can walk down the stairs? ''I'm sorry handsome but I just had a baby come out of me, no I don't think I can walk down the stairs!'' So they put me on a little chair and carry me down, while James holds onto Louie. They put me on a stretcher outside my house, James put Louie back in my arms and I am wheeled down the street to the ambulance. 

Remember how I said I live in a small and quiet street? Well the ambulance couldn't fit down it, so they have to park on the main street which blocked about 20 cars trying to drive down. As I am being wheeled to the ambulance everyone starts honking their horns and yelling ''Felicitations'' which means congratulations in French. What a spectacle we are! I am a little mortified at the thought of all these people seeing me five minutes after I give birth, but I also feel a bit like royalty being pushed down the street in my carriage, smiling and waving at people with the new baby Prince in arms. In my dreams. After all that, I get into the ambulance and we make our way to the Cannes hospital where I recover for the next three days in true baby bliss.


It seems I should never plan my births because they never go quite like they should. I am so grateful Louie's birth was healthy and happy. This is my redemption birth and it is everything I imagined a natural homebirth to be and more. It was such an unexpected yet beautiful surprise, and I'm just grateful I never got into that car. I am so proud of myself and my body, that I stayed focused and strong, and that I had another natural birth. I really could not have done it without my James who stayed focused and coached me the whole way through, and my midwife Nadège who wasn't even meant to be at the birth at all, but was just at the right place/right time. I have no idea what we would have done without her and I almost don't even want to think about it. Hello crazy car on the highway delivery! 

We have come a long way since the birth of Oslo and all of the trauma that we endured through that. I am so grateful for all of the support we have received along the way from the beginning of Oslo's pregnancy all the way to now after Louie's birth. Thank you to all of the brave women who shared their stories with me, you all helped build me up and made the birth of Louie that much more possible for me.

Thank you for reading our birth story.

Jules
xxx

MIDWEEK MUSIC MIX 29


Summer has officially hit us in Cannes and nothing gets me more in the mood for the hottest months of the year than an upbeat playlist. So I have put together a feel good mix to help everyone get in the Summer spirit. Whether you are off on a road trip, drinking cocktails on your patio or poolside, this music mix is perfect to play while enjoying all the perks of this lush season. Enjoy yourselves!

THE SECOND TIME AROUND


Ah! Yesterday I hit my 39th week and I'm sitting here with my big belly popping out in front of me wondering, where does all this time go? Like my last pregnancy I had the best intention of blogging and sharing about my journey with each passing month, but then life unexpectedly gets in the way of that and now here I am at the end of my second journey and this is like the third or fourth time I've actually written anything about it. Between getting all ready for baby, spending as much time as I can with Oslo, finding him a nanny to take him two days a week, and just the everyday tasks, I have found it hard to have time to just sit down and write or even relax. So here we are at the very end, Oslo is happily at his nanny's for the day and I am taking this time to finally share what an incredible, but in many ways more difficult pregnancy I have had. 

I thought I would also get around to sharing some photos from my first maternity shoot I did in the Spring on a little beach in Cannes with my first love Oslo. I always feel a bit like a fraud whenever I am in front of a camera, but I am so happy Caroline Liabot of Elles & Eux Photographie captured these special moments between us. This little guy is in for the surprise of his life any day now, so I'm happy we have these photos before he is not the only little love in the family.




I went into this pregnancy expecting it to be very similar to my first, meaning hardly any symptoms and overall feeling like sunshine and roses. No one really told me that second pregnancies, and third and fourth for that matter, can actually be a lot harder. Of course once I started mentioning to friends and my mum that I have physically been feeling much more strain and pain this time, then they all piped up and said that it's totally normal. Would have been nice to know! Really I can't complain because my first and third trimesters were fairly easy and it seems my body has sort of gotten used to the exhaustion and added strain of carrying around a clingy 12kg toddler. But geez that second trimester was a killer for me.

This baby has been a very big boy from the beginning, even my doctor was a little taken back by his growth each month. With bigger babies comes quick expanding hips and a big belly, so my body took a hard hit especially throughout the second trimester. The positive of that is because our bodies have already expanded and shifted before it usually does this earlier on, but unfortunately I had a ton of hip and lower back pain for months. Luckily once this guy flipped round and was head down most of the pain went away. The past couple of months have been much easier on me, except for the odd leg cramp that stops me in my tracks, a bit of volcanic acid reflux, and going pee 5 times a night. Something else that was a bit of a new experience for me this time was false or practice contractions. Since about 25 weeks I have experienced constant contractions, not consistent ones but they definitely came everyday. As much as they weren't the most fun thing to have, I was happy to take them as a challenge to practice my hypnobirthing breathing exercises and get ready for the real ones in labour. 

It definitely feels like my body is much more in tune this time around, which I guess it to be expected because this is not our first rodeo. I'm just hoping that when I go into labour my body is like ''Hey, I've got this, I am a seasoned pro! You just sit back and relax and I will take it from here.'' Don't worry my expectations are not high at all! Seriously though, I am prepared to go through another natural birth and accept all the things (pain!) that can come with it. I'm feeling so prepared with all of the words of wisdom my midwife, doula, doctor and hypnobirthing classes have taught me throughout as well. Let's just cross our fingers this labour isn't 25 hours and I stay in great health during the whole labour and delivery.




Now that I am 39 weeks that inevitable feeling of impatience is creeping in. I began labour with Oslo when I was 39 weeks and 2 days, so I of course expect this baby to follow suit. It also doesn't help that when I got checked by my doctor at 36 weeks, he told me I was 1cm dilated and baby should be here within a week or two. Well a week or two has passed and I am preparing myself to have a July baby that might want to wait a little longer then Oslo did. I'm just so eager and excited to finally meet this little bébé and go through all the incredible and intense highs and lows of being the mother to a newborn again. I get so giddy thinking about it, I really can't wait! Until then I will continue nesting like a mad women, trying my best to just sit and relax, and cherish these last moments with my little Oslo and James. Oh and I'm going to swim a lot, because I won't be able to do that for a little while after and summer in the South of France is only fun when you can swim. So if you need me I will be sipping my mocktail by my in-law's pool and waiting for baby boy number 2 to make his debut.


Thank you so much to Caroline Liabot for these gorgeous photos. You can see more of her beautiful photos here.

BABYMOON IN THE FRENCH WINE COUNTRY


It seems time has been slipping through my fingers this pregnancy, and as I write this I am currently 37 weeks pregnant and nearing the end of this incredible journey. But let me take you back to 14 weeks ago when I was only 23 weeks pregnant when James and I escaped to the gorgeous French wine country for a little babymoon. Time for just the two of us is very rare and I know it will be even harder to come by when our second bébé arrives at the beginning of July, so when we do get a chance to spend a night away together it means so much to us.

On a beautiful warm Spring day in March we drove an hour away through miles of vineyards and hillsides to Château de Berne, a hotel, spa and Michelin star restaurant in the heart of the wine region of Provence. As soon as you enter through the front gates you really feel like you have stepped into a French countryside paradise. We both felt instantly relaxed and at peace, and just so excited to spoil ourselves for the next two days.








We checked into our room after we ate a delicious lunch outside under the sun, and we soon discovered we were only one of three guests that were booked for the night. This is always music to our ears because we love to be alone and it meant we got the room with the best view! Our room was so beautiful I didn't want to leave and could have stayed in either the bed or the bath my whole stay. It felt so nice to have a lovely clean adult room with no baby items in sight. Just a special place for us to relax in and enjoy with zero interruptions. 

My favourite part of the whole room was the bathroom which had an entire wall of privacy glass. So we could see out, but no one could see in. It did take a bit of getting used to, I must say it was so strange seeing a gardener tending to the plants outside while I was in the glass shower all naked! 











After a nice long bath in the deepest tub in the world, we headed to the spa for a session of spoiling. This spa was so pretty and peaceful, and like the rest of the hotel, we were the only ones in sight. I'm not one to go and treat myself to a massage, but with being pregnant and all I thought it was a great opportunity to have a prenatal massage and really give my body a break. James booked a massage for himself as well and the funniest thing always seems to happen whenever we go for massages together. The two masseuses show up and one is always tall and sturdy and the other is tiny. Every single time I get the tall and stronger looking one and James is stuck with this teensy little girl, who we just end up feeling bad for because James is a very large man at 6'4''. This little lady had her work cut out for her! I thoroughly enjoyed my hour long massage, but poor James on the other hand really did not get that deep tissue massage he was after. Her fingers must have been broken by the end! After our massages we went swimming in the pool with a beautiful view of the vineyards.





Feeling like we are on cloud nine, we went back to our room to get ready for our special dinner at the Michelin star restaurant, Le Jardin de Benjamin. This was my first time ever experiencing a Michelin star restaurant so I was very excited and obviously had very high expectations. The dining room, food and service really was all it's cracked up to be and was even beyond what I could have imagined. We had so much fun waiting for each little course to arrive and then being blown away each time. I almost felt guilty devouring the beautiful creations the chef made for us. Eating at a restaurant like this definitely makes it harder to go back to regular ones, I must say.

After a beautiful night we woke up to breakfast on the terrace which again was the stuff dreams are made of. One of the major perks of staying here during the off season is that we didn't have to leave the property right after check out. So after a long breakfast and getting ready we checked out but decided to stay a while and explore some of the other activities the hotel offers. We were told we had to try their electric bikes and go on a big ride around the property. If you know me then you will be well aware that I am the least coordinated kind of person there is and bikes are a dangerous thing for me to go on. I'm not being dramatic here, the last time I rode a bike was in Lucca with James and my sister and I lost control of my bike and almost fell into a canal. Me and bikes or anything with wheels are not friends, so I thought adding a motor onto the bike would makes things even worse. But the hotel staff assured me it would be fine and I would love it. So I went ahead with this crazy idea and oh man am I glad I did!






I can't even begin to tell you how fun electric bikes are! Everyone has to do it. It is like a safer version of a scooter and they go so fast. James and I felt like kids the whole time we were riding, I didn't want it to end. It was also the perfect way to take in the view of this massive vineyard property. I would go back to the hotel just for the bikes, it was the best part.






After that incredible bike ride we decided to take one last walk around the hotel before we headed home. This little getaway was quick, but we so needed it. I am always amazed how connected we feel after a day or two away just us. These moments with James mean so much to me, I really wish we could do it more often.

Until next time, we had such an amazing stay at Château de Berne and I couldn't recommend it enough. Even if you don't have the time to stay a night at the hotel, I would definitely book yourself in for a lunch and wine tour. It's rosé season and this place knows how to make the perfect Summer drink!