Always look back on how far you’ve come

Sometimes you have to look back and realise how far you have come.

4 years ago I walked out of my job, newly married with no way to pay the bills. It was a job I hated & I dreaded going to work everyday. I had never taken risks before and honestly I still feel like it was the most ballsy thing I’ve ever done but I was petrified and felt like a failure. I got a part time job to make ends meet and 4 years later I now manage that organisation and adore my job, as well as the people I work with.

3 years ago we were facing the harsh realities of IVF and the fear we would never have children. I was petrified I would never get to hold my own baby or get to experience motherhood. Now I’m writing this cuddling my two beautiful girls.

2 years ago we got hit with the stark reality thay we couldn’t get a mortgage to build our family home due to the restrictions on our land. I had always wanted to build on our family land and have my children experience the incredible childhood I was lucky to experience. We thought, screw it we’ll just start and work it out as we go. 2 years later and we are over half we there and should be in by the end of 2020!

Now we’ve been hit with Isa’s diagnosis. This post could be depressing and a “feel sorry for me” post but it isn’t. You see, although Isa’s Homocystinuria diagnosis was the scariest experience to date, I know we can face it head on. We’ve tackled some mental things over the past 4 years but none of them have beaten us yet and none of them will.

No matter what you are going through you can deal with it. You are stronger than it and this curve ball won’t last long. I firmly believe every experience makes you stronger and we are proof that if you don’t give up, you will beat it.

I can look around me tonight and I know that despite the challenges I am hugely, hugely blessed and so are you.

Our New Normal

Our New Normal… Monday 30th September. The day things changed for us forever. It’s funny really. You wake up thinking the day is just like any other and in a split second everything you knew is whipped from beneath you.

Isa was 2 days of turning three weeks old when they told us. You know to panic when you get a call and an appointment with a consultant on the same day. Maybe that is why I don’t remember much, the panic.
Homocystinuria. Such a long name for something such a tiny person has. Something so complicated for someone whose life is so simple. I bet you haven’t heard of it. Either had we. That’s because it is so rare. There’s only a handful of people with it in N.I.

The first few days after Isa was diagnosed whizzed by. Truth be told we cried, googled and cried some more. Trying to process what this meant for our family and how we would move forward. The fear of what could happen to her swamped us.

Five days later and this has become our new normal. We know now life will consist of weekly blood tests and hospital appointments but that’s ok. Now the elephant in the room is actually a mouse and we are ready to tackle this head on. We have some huge challenges ahead of us but we know how lucky we are and how different this could have been if it hadn’t of been picked up early. We know there are many others worse off than us with worse diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plans. We have so much to be grateful for and we sure as hell are going to say thank you every day for the rest of our lives that we know how to keep our little girl safe.

Photography by Angel NI

Introducing Isabella Eve Hill

She’s here 🤩

Finally, after what seemed like the longest pregnancy ever, she is here. Baby Isabella (Isa) Eve Hill was born on 11th September and she has already transformed our little family.

Thankfully everything went well and Isa was born safe and sound via planned c-section in Craigavon Area Hospital (who I can’t thank enough!) – the staff are angels!

This time around we had a planned c-section (Annie was an emergency c-section) so I knew I was going in on Wednesday morning although I have to admit I was incredibly nervous. I had a fantastic experience having a c-section with Annie so throughout my pregnancy I wasn’t worried about the thought of another c-secton, but the night before I couldn’t help but be sick with worry. In fact, I barely spoke to Carl during the trip to the hospital at 6am on Wednesday 11th morning.

When we arrived on the morning of the c-section, everything went smoothly which helped to calm my nerves. We arrived at Craigavon around 6.30am, to give me some time to drink my pre-op drink. We headed into the maternity assessment unit around 7am where the midwives took me straight in to get changed into my gown. A short time later and I met with the midwives/anaethetists to discuss the surgery and sign paperwork. After a little waiting around, plenty of magazine flicking and not much chat, I was called first to surgery at 8.45am. Less than an hour later Isa was born with a little yelp at 9.35am happy and healthy.

Both Annie and Isa were born in Craigavon with the same doctor completing my operation but my goodness the c-section felt different the second time around! People did warn me that my recovery would be longer second time around but I felt the pulling and tugging in Isa’s c-section was definitely more pronounced than Annie’s – lets just say, after those feelings, I’ll not be rushing for a 3rd c-section any time soon!

Apart from being a little anaemic this time my recovery has been great, in fact we got to go home after only one night (two is recommended but I couldn’t wait to get home to Annie). I definitely forgot how much I was knocked off my feet the first time and I think I underestimated how tired I would feel this time around having a two year old and a newborn to look after but it is no more than expected – I couldn’t have a better reason to be tired.

Photography by Angel NI.

Managing Mum Guilt

After an incredible day at the Digi Talk conference with work, I am home with a cup of tea curled up on the sofa. This week has been a crazy one, in fact this Summer has been a crazy one. Home life is busy and work is even busier (in a great way) but sometimes that means me working when I get home or staying late at the office….. leaving me with a serious case of #mumguilt

I’m not the only one that gets mum guilt, right? That feeling at the end of the day when you put them to bed and think about all the ways that you could have been a better mum. You could have read them a bed time story, cooked more veggies or played more sensory activities like the mums on Instagram… but you didn’t.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to juggle it all. The professional job, Mrs Hinch clean house, Joules dressed children and Instagram worthy days out but in reality some days are just a struggle to make it to the end of the day.

Over the past few months I have started to change the people I follow on social media because of all this. I was continually clicking onto Instagram and feeling guilty for being a bad parent; not taking Annie to the park after work or gabbing a Chinese on the way home from work on a Friday afternoon. Now I spend my time following other mums who, yes have fabulous looking grids but also keep it real and tell you when they are having the crazy busy, snot covered, sleepless nights.

These are the badass women to me, the ones who keep it real and cut the nonsense because lets be honest, we all get mum guilt but we are all just trying to work our way through this crazy maze of parenthood.

Travelling with an under one

I am writing this from sunny Spain (yay!). Our holiday finally came around and we jetted off on Saturday morning to our home from home in a little town called Dona Pepa in the south of Spain. I have to be honest I was so nervous about the whole thing; the plane, the heat, the food – everything with a baby! With that in mind, 24 hours into our trip here are my top tips for travelling with an under one.

1. Get rid of your expectations

Whether they be good or bad, push your expectations or anxieties aside. I really thought the plan journey would have been much worse than it was. Yes, it definitely wasn’t straight forward but we all made it alive – that has to be a win win!

2. Toys galore!

I can’t remember who told me to do this but it was the best trick! Keep a little bag aside and fill it with new toys for babies first holiday. Then wrap them up so that they have to spend time unwrapping their new toys AND playing with them! Double the quiet time!

3. Make the most of your surroundings

I stressed a lot about how I would keep Annie in the same spot for the journey but really she was grand crawling up and down the aisle. She was happy getting to roam around and we were able to stay stress free for a little longer.

4. Babies have people skills

Never worry about other passengers, you will find that they love interacting with little ones. Annie spent a large part of our plane journey chatting gobbly gook to other passengers and eating their food! They thought she was a cutie, it put more time in and kept the tempertantrums at bay.

5. Pick your times wisely

The cheapest flights weren’t a priority for us, the best times were. Travelling day time rather than night time meant Annie was her normal happy baby self and not overtired on the flight – definitely worth a little extra money!

We are 24 hours into our first holiday and honestly the joy we have seen in her little face whilst here has been worth the stress of getting ready to jet off. Pack your suitcase and get your flights booked, travelling with an under one is much easier than you think!

Choosing my career and my family

2018 is the year for women!

If you haven’t heard that statement already, you must have been living under a rock.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations and 100 years after we gained the right to vote, women have chosen this year in particular to grab hold of their voices, take a stand and acknowledge their pride for being a woman. For me, this year is about returning to work after my maternity leave and choosing my career and my family together – not one over the other.


During my school years, one of my teachers often said this to us and it never really meant much to me. Create a life you love. Huh? Mrs, I’m just trying to grasp my way through A Level English Literature! When I started university however it all made sense. My years in university taught me how to become an individual, to have freedom to make my own choices and to create a life for myself that I would love.

I spent those first few years post university really finding my feet. After a brief stint pretending that becoming an Accountant was the dream (sorry to any Accountants out there but that definitely wasn’t the dream for me!) I fell into working for my current employer and it was there that I remembered what I went to university for in the first place – to help people. Three years on and I have went from the bottom of the ladder to the top of it and I am damn proud of that! Why shouldn’t I be?

You see, I love my job. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy. In managing a domiciliary agency we witness death, journey through a clients illness with them and their families, trek on through the bad weather and work the hours that no one wants to. You take the good with the bad. I have cried with staff and clients but thankfully laughed with them more, it is all part and parcel of the job, but I love it and sure as heck don’t want to give that part of my life up.

So for me, 2018 is the year for women and it is the year for me! It is the year that I become a working mama. My maternity ends in less than four weeks and while I cry every time (seriously, EVERY time!) I think of leaving my beautiful baby girl I can’t wait to get back into the world of work and to pick up where I left off. I have created a life I love and it includes babies and business!

Stuck for what to buy your Mum for Mother’s Day?

How do you show your mum just how much she really means to you? Becoming a mum, I have learnt how much mothers really do sacrifice for their little ones. It is a 24/7 job with the worlds craziest dictator for a boss, so how do you even begin to thank a mum for all her hard work. Personally, I love activity gifts rather than material ones. Experiences have always meant more to me than material possessions, so this Mothers Day I’ll be spending it doing an activity with my family rather than looking at my new gift.

With that in mind, here are my Top Five Gifts for your Mum this Mother’s Day.

  1. Cookery Classes

This weekend, mum and I are heading to the Forestside Cookery School. We will be spending four hours under the guidance of their passionate tutors baking chocolate brownies, doughnuts and lemon meringue muffins. Heavenly! Forestside Cookery School is one of many cookery schools in the Belfast area but it came highly recommended so we can’t wait to try it. If you aren’t sure what classes your mum would like best they also do vouchers!

2. Floral Class

I’m not really sure if I have ever heard of a mum that doesn’t like flowers, so why not treat her to a flower arranging class. The creators of my wedding flowers, House of Elliott Lisburn are hosting a flower arranging class this weekend specifically for Mother’s Day.

“we start off with lots of demonstrations and ideas and then you get to arrange a gorgeous arrangement and take it home to enjoy , morning class includes a light lunch and afternoon class includes afternoon tea , price also includes tuition all flowers and containers .”

3. Luxury Pedicure & Prosecco

Before Christmas, mum and I knew we needed some “us” time. It is always easy to get caught up in the chaos of Christmas so we booked in to Beauty Boulevard for their Luxury Pedicure and Prosecco treatment. They have launched the same offer for Mother’s Day and I can’t recommend it enough! It is the perfect pamper package to take some time out just the two of you!

The Luxury Pedicure includes:

Foot soak
Foot exfoilation
Foot mask
Heated booties
Nail tidy, file & shape
Gel polish

4. Relaxation & Pamper Heaven

I am forever raving about Skin Medi Spa and how I feel rejuvenated every time I leave Judith and her team. Why not treat your mum to The Perfect Glow Voucher and head down together for some relaxation. “Get get full body glow with Elemis lemon & ginger salt scrub and vita spray tan.” My idea of heaven!

5. Afternoon Tea

This Mother’s Day mum and I will be heading to The Merchant Hotel Belfast for their Afternoon Tea. The Merchant are well known for their amazing afternoon tea, so why not join your mum and take an hour out of the craziness of the city to enjoy some delicious food.

Whatever you do, make sure your mum feels the love this mothers day. Spend a little extra time making your card or spend the day together. Mums only get one day a year!

My Top Newborn Gift Ideas

Before I had Annie, I found buying presents for a newborn was so difficult! I didn’t have a clue where to start and often just picked a new outfit for the baby – what else do you buy?! Since having Annie, I have found so many quirky mumpreneurs. Mum what?! Creative mums designing beautiful, unique products for little ones based in Northern Ireland & Ireland. In honour of these mumpreneur’s here are my top gift ideas for newborns.

  1. Grace James Handmade

Mum of two Lucy Evangelista created Grace James Handmade after having her daughter & son. She creates beautiful dribble bibs, blankets, bloomers and headbands, perfect for a gift. The pretty designs are nothing short of adorable and I love her behind the scenes images on her Insta Story. 2. Shnuggle

The only way you could have missed Shnuggle is if you have been living under a rock! Created by parents for parents, the company creates clever baby products from baby baths to towels and sleep systems. We have been using Annie’s bath since she was around 4 weeks old now and love it. I was petrified of bathing her at first but the Snuggle bath makes it so easy. Their towels & face cloths are incredible soft and gentle on Annie’s skin compared to other brands also. 3. Jack and Jillaroo

Jack and Jillaroo aim to incorporate prettiness, personality and practicality in their products. From double sided dribble bibs to burp cloths you can be sure mums and dads will be grateful of their practical but beautiful products. 4. Alice Olivia

Alice Olivia create handmade, pretty clothing for little ones. The dreamy pieces are the perfect, special gift and remind me so much of being young and dressing up in pretty outfits and costumes. The epitome of pretty. 5. Bramble Green

Bramble Green is a Donegal based creator of handmade Irish knitwear and lets be honest, with our weather little ones need some knitwear. This year our weather has been woeful and I haven’t had a hat off Annie’s head since October! I love that Bramble Green produce unique pieces to help blast the cold but also help mummies get out of the house with their little ones. 6. Ditsy Little

Mum of two, Ditsy Little, creates nursing and teething necklaces and teethers for wee ones. I never would have thought of a teething gift for a newborn but since Annie started at 11 weeks, I now know the time flies in and this is a brilliant gift for a mum at her wits end with those niggling pains. 7. Gingerbread and Buttercup

Gingerbread and Buttercup create handmade babies and childrens clothing for 0-4 years. When you see how soft and comfy these look you’ll be begging for adult versions! The patterns and shapes are super cute as well as practical for those knee sliding, bum falling moments. 8. Cranberry Lime

Cherith from Cranberry Lime designs and creates embroidered hoops, name banners and stars for little ones. The pretty patterns combined with handmade creativity are the perfect addition for any little one’s nursery. All images are the companies/creators own excluding Shnuggle which is a picture of my baby Annie in our Shnuggle bath.

How do I find childcare for my baby?

It’s crazy to think that I am half way through my maternity leave. It has been the craziest and busiest 5 months of my life but knowing know that I am in the last half has made me realise that starting back to work is creeping around even quicker than I thought it would.

When I started looking into childcare options in N.Ireland I was swamped! Day care, childminders, nannies etc left me that I didn’t know where to start. My mum was a childminder for 20 years so I thought finding someone would be easy but when I began looking I feared that I wouldn’t find anyone as good as her. The children that she looked after really became a massive part of our family, some were even a part of my wedding day, and I feared someone wouldn’t treat my beautiful baby girl as well as mum had looked after those little members of our extended family.

I began by writing down what I needed and wanted from childcare. What I needed was a lot easier and the Employers for Childcare website gave me great guidance on the financial side of things e.g. childcare vouchers. I knew I need childcare two days per week but what I wanted was tougher. I wanted open space for her to play outside, for other children her age to be there so she would have that social stimulation but also for qualified staff to mind Annie that I had reassurance she would be ok.

I started looking for childcare last month and quickly realised how different day nurseries and childminders are. I quickly realised that I wanted a day nursery rather than a childminder – my fear as a new mum just didn’t allow me to place my trust solely in one person. I booked two appointments to visit two day nurseries in my local area on the same day. After both, I cried hysterically to my husband Carl and proclaimed I wouldn’t be going back to work. They were just not what I wanted and I feared every day nursery would be the same.

I left it a week or so before visiting anymore. It was during this time I got speaking to friends and family who recommended two other nurseries. I popped along to them one afternoon on my own with Annie and I loved them both! Both had a structure to their day, an open outdoor space, topics to teach Annie while she was there, they doubled signed any medication given, doors were auto locked, they provided an end of day report and employed staff that seemed kind and compassionate when working with the children.

Thankfully choosing childcare for my under one ended much happier than it began and we were able to choose one of the day nurseries for Annie . I won’t lie, it began a stressful experience, but I learnt that each day nursery offers something different and it was about finding the childcare that suited the needs of my family and I.

My top tips for finding childcare in N.Ireland

1. Work out what you need e.g. days, hours and budget before you work out what you want

2. Research all your options e.g. day care, childminder etc. Everyone is different in what they would like from their childcare so do not feel wrong for having your own ideas.

3. Show up unannounced – that way you can see what the childcare is like on a normal day.

4. Ask to see their inspection reports. That way you can see what social services feel about their care provided.

5. Try not to view too many, just like finding your perfect wedding dress if you look at too many options it can become over whelming.

6. Go with a list of questions you want to ask so you won’t forget anything and can make an informed decision.

7. Speak with Employers for Childcare. Their freephone number is 0800 028 3008 and they provide brilliant guidance on childcare related issues e.g. changes to childcare vouchers, tax free childcare etc.

What can you buy a pregnant woman for Christmas?

This time last year I was pregnant at Christmas and to be honest, I felt VERY sorry for my poor husband as nothing would please me! What could please a pregnant woman dying for a strawberry daiquiri how was throwing up 5+ times a day? Exactly! In honour of all the pregnant women out there I have compiled a list of all the things I would have liked as a Christmas present while pregnant. Men, take note!


I lived in my pyjamas when I came home from work. Especially the further on I got as by bump got bigger. Sitting in a office all day in tight clothes was never enjoyable but comfy pjs were and they don’t need to be boring. Here are some pregnancy PJ’s out at the minute:

You can find these at

Spa Day

I loved my spa weekend in for New Years when I was pregnant with Annie. Although I wasn’t able to go into everything, it was massively relaxing just to get away and lounge about in the pool. Galgorm have a number of pregnancy treatments as well as non-alcoholic cocktails – win win!

You can find details on their pregnancy massage here.

You can find details on their mum-to-be spa day package here.

You can find details on their baby moon package for mum & dad here.

Baby Class Vouchers

Baby classes have been my saviour whilst on maternity leave! Some day’s you just need to get out of the house and talk to another human (preferably one that can talk). I have loved our Baby Sensory classes and Waterbabies classes for this reason as well as to see the developmental changes it has helped bring on with Annie. Water babies definitely do vouchers.

Pregnancy Journal

I have been writing in my mums journal since Annie was born but I wish I had of started a pregnancy journal. Keeping memories of your pregnancy is amazing to look back on so starting one of these would be a lovely gift.

You can find a version of a pregnancy journal here.

Pamper Kit

Lets be honest. Pregnancy isn’t a walk in the park for many of us so if a spa day isn’t in the budget, a pamper kit definitely can fit in it. Create a hamper with lovely treats e.g. hot chocolate, bubble bath, bath bombs, face mask, eye mask (you get the hint?!)


When I was pregnant, there was nothing more I loved than coming home, sticking on my pjs and lighting my candles. I find a candle very relaxing especially the Bourke St. Sass and Boho are a local N. Ireland company which you can buy online on their website or in one of their maannyyy stockists which you can see here.

While your shopping, if you’d like to pick me up any of the below please feel free… minus the pregnancy pyjamas which might give Carl the fright of his life!

Dear Annie, you are 18 weeks old

My dearest Annie,

I cannot believe you are now eighteen weeks old. They have been the quickest, busiest and most fun eighteen weeks of mine and your daddy’s life. We have watched you grow, not only in length and weight but into your big personality.

Each month you have changed that little bit more from the introduction of your little smile to your cheeky little giggle. Your attempts to role and tummy time parties brighten up my little day as I see how well we have done at helping you grow into a little person. You are truly my biggest accomplishment in life.

You love:

  • Smiling and giggling at your daddy
  • Sucking on your toys
  • Gulping down your bottle and spoon feeds
  • Getting your banana and porridge up your nose
  • Anything with Peppa Pig on it
  • Watching other babies and reaching out to touch them
  • Cuddling into mummy and daddy
  • But most of all, bath time is your favourite time of the day.

Mummy and Daddy love:

  • Watching you try to role over
  • Seeing you reach out to grab your teddies and toys
  • Making you laugh and smile
  • Watching you get better in your classes every week
  • Playing in the bath with you
  • Hearing you chat

Here’s to the next eighteen weeks with your pretty little smile and noisy chatter.

What to do this Halloween with a baby under one

Annie will only be four and a half months this Halloween so being realistic she won’t really know what is going on. Beyond smiling and giggling at Peppa Pig and her daddy, or getting excited at Baby Sensory and Waterbabies, Annie doesn’t show much emotion but then she really doesn’t understand what is going on yet so what on earth can we get up to in N.Ireland this Halloween?

Luckily for me, and much to Carl’s disappointment (he says it is a stupid holiday), there is loads on this Hallowe’en for little ones of all ages.

Twilight Night by Fairy Light

This event, ran by Lisburn and Castlereigh City Council, in Wallace Park on Friday 27th October 7-9pm, is unfortunately ticket only but is set to be a fantastic night out! With dress up a must and a firework display it is set to be a great night out for little ones. You can find more details here.

Halloween Pumpkin Patch at Victoria Square

Victoria Square are hosting their annual Halloween Pumpkin Patch from 28th October – 31st October  in association with ASDA. Kids can pick their perfect ASDA pumpkin and decorate it to take home! There is no set cost but a suggested donation of £5 per pumpkin in aid of NSPCC & Children in Need. Find more details here.

Baby Sensory Halloween Class

Our local Baby Sensory class is hosting a Halloween themed party on Sunday 29th October which we can’t wait to attend. The event is ticketed but you can book at We love our weekly Baby Sensory class so I can’t wait for Carl to be able to see Annie in action and for her to dress up!

Malone Lodge Hotel Halloween Fun Day Charity Event

The The Malone Lodge Hotel are hosting a Halloween Fun Day Charity Event on Saturday 28th October from 1-4pm which proceeds going to Cancer Focus NI. You can find more details here. There is set to be lots of family fun for everyone with a bouncy castle, soft play area, Nerf shootout, face painting, DJ and more as well as  Q Radio broadcasting live on the day. There will also be a prize for the best fancy dress!

Witches Walk

The Dark Hedges Estate are hosting a Witches Walk for children 12 and under to join the Good Witches of Gracehill as they make their way along a trail around the enchanted Fairy Forest. Pick up clues along the way to claim your gift at the end of your stay. You can find more details here.

Freaky Friday

Dundonald International Ice Bowl are hosting a host of frightful family fun with their usual ice skating, tenpin bowling and the Indiana Land playworld as some fun characters popping in along the way.
In additional there is:

  • Free face painting from 5.30-7.30pm
  • Halloween Music
  • Everyone welcome in costume
  • Games & prizes

You can find more details here.