A friend recently asked me how I lost my baby weight. It got me thinking that I should do a blog on it, as maybe someone else was also curious. I don’t want to seem like I have all the answers, I certainly don’t. This is just my story.

Most people assume that the baby weight just falls off me. That isn’t really true though, so I’d like to share how I really lost my baby weight each time, which has been an average of 3 stone per baby. I want to write it down so that I don’t forget what it was really like, and maybe it will help or encourage someone else who’s battling the post baby belly.

When I am pregnant I gain weight really easily. Eating eases my morning sickness and gives me a bit of the energy I lack and I am always really hungry. I do choose healthy foods, but my body just holds onto every calorie I give it. It seems to thank me for the food and then store it on my thighs! I am so glad that we don’t weigh women in this country at their antenatal appointments, as I would find it a monthly humiliation process. I never keep within the boundaries recommended for weight gain, despite eating healthily. By the end of pregnancy I have normally gained about 3 to 3 1/2 stone.

On the day I give birth I lose 10lbs. It is the only depressing part of that wonderful day. Seriously, how can I only lose 10lbs! I then realise that I have 2 and 1/2 stone to go. With each baby that weight has taken longer to come off. With baby one and two it came off by 7 months with almost no effort and I actually ended up losing more than I gained. Then baby three plus was where I discovered that my weight no longer just fell off and I started looking into what was delaying my weight loss and I started to see a correlation between my hormones and weight. It seemed that I could eat exactly what I did with my first two babies but I was getting different results. I was not just older this time, but I also weaned the babies later onto solids and took a more laid back, baby led weaning style approach. I have seen that as long as my babies are on just milk my body will not shed the last stone of weight. This does make sense from the perspective of protecting your baby’s milk supply by having a reserve of fat.

The other challenge with losing the pounds has been age. Once I hit 40 losing weight seemed to get even harder. It took me over a year to shed the weight after having Katie. I don’t know how much of my weight loss is down to my effort and how much would be natural. All I can share is what I did.

For the last 6 years I have largely given up sugar and white carbs. I started this out of a desire to get rid of persistent yeast infections, which plagued me after I had a lot of antibiotics for quinsy. Every time I indulge in these treats I get another yeast attack and so I have learnt that sugar free is the best way for me. I am not super strict about it, but I was stricter once Katie started weaning, to help me to get back into my old clothes and to help completely eradicate the pregnancy exacerbated yeast problem. I don’t ever aim to be super slim, I just want to be the shape I am designed to be when I am eating healthily.

If it is of any interest for to you to know what I actually eat, then here is an average day. I generally have sugar free granola with coconut and homemade natural yoghurt for breakfast, vegetable soup for lunch with a couple of slices of this bread https://www.food.com/recipe/yeast-free-wholemeal-bread-56999. For dinner I eat quinoa instead of pasta or rice and sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. We normally then have protein and veg. I always eat until I’m full, or let’s be realistic, until a little one needs me and I get distracted! Phil and I eat in peace, as a date night, a couple of times a week, and then I always eat more because I am not busy. I also eat a square of 70% dark chocolate each day as a treat and one or two pieces of fruit.

I used to be a real sugar addict and coming off it was hard, but after a few days the cravings went and I now don’t particularly like sweet foods, they just don’t give me that deep sigh of relief that they used to.

My focus is not really on weight but health, which also includes exercise. I did do a Pilates class for several months after Katie to help with my core muscles. Now I just race around trying to keep up with the children, house, garden and animals! I very rarely weigh myself now that I am back to my old size.

Over the years I have learnt to respect my body and feed it what it needs to work best. I also want to work with its rhythms and seasons, fighting it is rather pointless and in my experience leads to disappointment. If the weight won’t go, then maybe it shouldn’t go and so in that season I love my ‘love handles’, knowing they are helping to feed my baby!

I think that for me, getting back into my old clothes is part of keeping my sense of Vicki as a woman, not just a mother. That part of me that still exists as an individual. I LOVE being a mum, but let’s face it, children take everything, your teenagers take your clothes, your little ones eat your food, they all take lots of time and energy, but one thing that’s mine is my body. I want to look after it as it’s the only one I get and it works hard. So I try to put the best fuel in and take care of it, knowing that my body is a gift from God to be cared for and offered in service to him.

Our beautiful Katie Joy turns 2 this week and I wanted to take this opportunity to remember her amazing birth and write it down so I never forget. We often tell the children their birth stories, particularly on their birthdays. It helps us to remember that every birth is a miracle, a gift from God and every child’s arrival has its own unique story.

After nine babies I am very aware that birth is always unpredictable and many births don’t go as planned. Katie’s story certainly didn’t go as we had expected, but it was more beautiful than we could ever have hoped. Our account tells the story of her unintentionally unassisted, relaxed home birth.

I tend to have about a month of pre labour. That means that for a month I look and feel like I could pop at any minute. During this pre labour month I will have contractions in the evenings. After the children are in bed my body relaxes and contractions will often start and can continue for a couple of hours before I go to bed, when they all stop. If I climb the stairs I can keep them going, but really they are just my body’s way of limbering up for the main event.

So after my month of on off contractions I was all ready to give birth. We had planned to try and have another home birth. We have had 7 of our babies at home. Our first and fifth were born safely in hospital and were only born there as a precaution. I had discussed our options with a consultant and our midwife and we had concluded that a home birth would be best for me. We decided this because our eighth baby was born within 30 minutes of contractions starting and therefore we were unlikely to make it to hospital with number nine!

Friday night I started my normal round of contractions, but these ones ramped up and we called out the midwife who found me puffing and panting on the bathroom floor. After hearing my hollering she quickly put together the gas and air and handed me the good stuff. Once the gas arrived my contractions seriously picked up and we were ready for a baby. After emptying one canister of gas my contractions slowed down and then stopped. After 4 hours of painful contractions I was ONE cm dilated and rather embarrassed! Surely after so many babies I would know the difference between false labour and real labour? Unfortunately my body does a good job of tricking me. My midwife kindly said that my body was ready but my baby wasn’t quite there yet. So I reluctantly gave up on giving birth at that point, the midwife went home and I went to sleep.

Saturday, all was quiet. Sunday, all was quiet. I thought that maybe the baby had decided they just didn’t like the idea of birth and had got comfy again.

Sunday evening Phil and I decided to have a date night, knowing that they wouldn’t happen again for a while. He made me a Thai curry and at 9pm I sat on my birthing ball and enjoyed a really relaxing meal. The lights were dimmed, classical music was playing and we were both feeling, how can I say this? Feeling amorous! Those hormones that had been created by the intimate evening were about to become very helpful.

Around 9.40 I popped to the loo and then I had a big contraction at the bottom of the stairs. Phil was meanwhile trying to put ‘Call the Midwife’ on the TV. Elizabeth then came down and complained of a tummy ache, so we quickly packed her off to bed with an emergency sick bowl and some paracetamol. Praise God, all the other children were quiet, which is so unusual in our house before 10 in the evening. By the time Phil came back from attending to Elizabeth I had had another huge contraction, so I asked him to actually call the real midwife instead of watching it! By now it was 9.50. I knelt down by the sofa with my head on Phil’s lap, hoping to slow things down while we waited for the midwife. I should know by now that that was unlikely to work, as I had gone past the point of no return. One more contraction and my waters went. Phil exchanged his lap for a cushion and went round to the end where the action was kicking off. During each of these contractions I had not made any noise, which was very unusual for me. I knew the children would come downstairs if they heard any noise and the older boys room was next door to us downstairs. I focused on just riding the waves, breathing and praying. I was still really relaxed because the evening had been so peaceful and no one was disturbing the flow of my labour. I was doing everything my body instinctively told me to do and without inhibition I was following the path my body was taking me on.

Phil quickly exchanged my wet skirt and leggings for the mats and towels which had been sitting in the lounge, waiting for this moment. With the next contraction the baby started to move down the birth canal and that inner roar (which would normally be shouted out) was used to power our new arrival into the world. Phil all the while was being a great support reminding me I was doing so well. He was the picture of calm and both of us were just focused on our tasks. Phil’s task was to catch and attempt to keep the carpet clean and mine was to push!

Excuse me if I pause during this next contraction to describe something extraordinary that I always feel right around this moment. During this most intense moment of birth I always describe it as a ‘thin place’. ‘Thin places’ is a word often used about places where God has been worshipped for centuries, but my thin place always comes right around the moment of birth. I describe it that way because for a moment it feels like God is right there, a palpable sense of his presence. In my weakest moment I lean on nothing but him and he in turn carries me through every wave. My eyes close and my focus turns to God as through the shedding of blood and water I bring new life into the world.

Birth is the most beautiful picture of God’s redemptive plan for us as sinners. Through his Son’s death, where Christ shed blood and water poured from his side, we receive new life. So too, in birth, do we shed blood and water and experience a glimpse of the pain of surrendering our own lives for another. In that pain though I turn my eyes to God and he replaces the pain with an intense peace and calm. The more I focus on him, the more the world seems to disappear and for a few moments I feel I am almost touching Heaven.

Back to the birth….2 more contractions and at 10pm, our new baby arrived into Phil’s arms. He passed her to me between my legs and we checked to see whether God had blessed us with a boy or a girl. Another daughter lay before us, but she was very floppy and I began to worry and pray. We called 999 as she was hardly breathing. Had I thought about it, I would have worried less if I’d remembered that she was still attached to the cord and therefore getting oxygen through that. The person on the 999 call got us to flick her feet and rub her with a towel and she did take little breaths, but she was still not really responsive and normally my babies have all breathed immediately. I remember wondering for a moment if we would lose her and asking God if he would help her breathe. We continued to rub her though and keep her skin to skin and she gradually started breathing, praise God! The midwife arrived 8 minutes after she was born. She took one look at Katie and by then she was doing better and she took the phone and said, ‘Mum and baby are fine, you don’t need to send anyone here in big clod hoppin’ boots, we’ll be fine!’ After that she got me comfy on the sofa and we got Katie feeding.

Katie Joy’s birth was truly amazing. I believe I had not needed pain relief because a) my body had done most of the labour on the Friday night, b) I was in a state of deep relaxation as the children were quiet and a Phil and I were feeling closer than ever and c) God carried me through every wave. God helped me not to be afraid once during her birth and I’m sure fear causes a lot of birth pain because it makes us tense up. After she was born was quite nerve wracking for a few minutes, but I learnt that sometimes when babies are born so quickly they just need a few minutes to get going. I suppose I really knew this but I normally leave that bit in the midwife’s hands. This time it was down to us to decide if she was ok and so we reached out for a bit of support and we were very grateful to have some encouragement down the end of the phone.

Our lovely midwife stayed with us for a couple of hours and then we were able to go to bed by about midnight. What a date night that was! One we’ll never forget.

The next morning the children trickled down the stairs one by one and met their tiny baby sister. They’d all miraculously slept through the whole birth and were completely amazed that our home now suddenly had a newborn sister in it. They each held her and fell in love with her instantly.

We are so grateful to God that she arrived safely. We called her Katie Joy, which means pure joy. She certainly lives up to her name and continues to bring huge amounts of joy to our home every day.


Winter’s always hard work. I love cosy evenings by the log burner, apple pies and hot chocolate, but I don’t love spending half an hour getting us all ready to go outside! Getting small children ready to face the winter cold is an uphill challenge. Somehow when it’s time to go out, at least one child has always lost either a boot, glove or hat. Since we now have a bigger house we have more places that these missing items might be. Every year I refine our systems for storing winter wear, but small children thwart every system with their busy minds which live in the moment, and they frequently forget to put things where they belong 🙂.

With the lockdowns we have been so grateful to be here. Winter in Epsom, in our old house, would have driven us all crazy. It’s noisy enough here, but at least the children have plenty of space to play, even indoors.

This week though, we have really started to feel that we have left the winter season behind. The days are longer and warmer and often coats have been unnecessary.

With Spring now here (maybe not officially, but the flowers operate by a more natural calendar) we have been busy planting seeds and preparing the vegetable beds. This week we also had some fencing redone, with the hope of helping Sherlock to stay out of the vegetable garden! This weekend Mary and Martha our cows, will go out into the fields for the first time since Autumn. I’ll try and share a video very soon of their response to freedom! Our evenings have been easier too. We have even been able to go outside after tea and enjoy watching the sunset.


The Garden Awakes

Cherry blossom, Daffodils,
snow drops, spring bulbs,
Springing up, bringing colour,
Cheering up the winter pallor.

Growing grass, buds forming
Trees reaching, branches yawning,
Seedlings popping up their heads,
Waking from their winter beds.

Sunshine pushing through the clouds,
As winter lifts its frozen shroud,
Warmer days and longer evenings,
Winter’s bite is quickly leaving.

Coats forgotten, gloves are stored,
Hats and scarves can be ignored,
Just open doors and run outside,
Embrace the seasons God provides.

You’d have thought, after my last post, https://www.lifeinallitsfullness.blog/uncategorized/what-mothers-day-means-to-me/ today might have been quite emotionally draining. I think in a way though, writing down my memories yesterday released the emotions that would otherwise have leaked out today. Instead, God has given me a renewed sense of joy.

God spoke to my heart so clearly today, during our family worship time. Firstly we read some of Proverbs 31, when it says, ‘She is clothed with strength and dignity and can laugh at the days to come.’ Do we laugh at the days to come? It almost feels disrespectful to laugh at the moment, but I think God is calling his children to live with joy, not fear. and the physical outlet of joy is laughter. I think many of us may fear the days to come, but this is not how it needs to be.

Dignity is the other character quality mentioned here. According to Strong’s concordance, it means honour and glory. We are clothed with this glory when we look up at Christ and we don’t focus our thoughts too much on the things of the world. This is something I am learning every day. The news pushed out by the media is ever shocking and quick to change, almost addictive in nature, it can consume my thoughts and steal my joy.

Clothing is often used, in the Bible, to help us to understand a Biblical concept, for example, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and we are clothed in his armour. The clothing that this verse speaks of Proverbs 31, is strength, the inner strength of a heart yielded to God’s plans. We are not strong when we lean on our own understanding and our own plans, or when we see only what the world sees. Our strength comes instead when we look to Christ and live in the strength he gives us, by his Holy Spirit.

Thankfully, God knows my weaknesses though and today spoke to my heart, he reminded me that the days ahead may be turbulent, but as God’s children, clothed in his strength and glory, we can not just let go of fear for the future, as we turn to him, we can laugh at the days to come.

As our family service went on, God continued to help me to understand how he wants me to live in these days. One of the songs we sang today was ‘My Lighthouse’. Again God ministered deeply to my soul through this song. The words, ‘I won’t fear what tomorrow brings,’ stood out clearly as words for me to take seriously. Will we fear for the future, or will we trust that, as the song goes on to say, ‘my God’s love will lead me through, you are the peace in my troubled sea’? We are living in such troubled times and yet God is still holding us, guiding us and reminding us not to fear.

Don’t you love it when you know God has spoken to your heart? He is so kind and will continue, if we seek him, to lead us through these days without fear and with the peace of trusting in him and his good plans for us.

Joy and heartbreak in equal measure. A reminder of what I have a gained and what I have lost. A day with with much laughter, but a day clothed in an underlayer of grief and loss.

I am a mother, but I lost my mother. So many of us have lost so much this year. So much time with family, so many opportunities to relive past grief. Mother’s Day is for me, another of those days.

I have so much to thank God for as a mother. He made me a mother and blessed me 9 times, 9 lives entrusted to our care, 9 lives to pray for, 9 children to hold and nourish, 9 pregnancies and births in which to learn to lean on the Lord and to trust him completely.

I am who I am because I am a mother. I am who I am because I lost my mother as a child. Childhood grief has shaped me. After losing Mum I put a wall up to protect myself from hurt, then Phil came along and brick by brick it came down and then with each child God has opened my heart up to love, receiving his love and his gifts.

Grief never ends, but God brings comfort in the grief. We can get lost in grief, but when we turn to the Light, he guides our path through the darkness of grief. Losing my mother has left a hole, one that God has filled many times over the years with mothers. Older women have often mentored me and filled that role that was missing in my life.

The last year has for all of us been hard, in different ways. For me I have realised that that hole still exists and that with the lack of family and church contact it has remained empty. Each day I wake knowing that there is an empty part of me. Some days I am so busy I can forget, but when I need that comfort, that comfort I needed as a teenager without a mum, the comfort of being cared for, I long for her arms.

I know in many ways I long for that which may not even have existed if she was here today. As adults we relate differently to our parents, but I never knew what that relationship with Mum would look like; and so in times of loss, I tend, temporarily, to revert back to the lost child that I was, looking for someone to hold me.

God in his great mercy gave me Phil, my safe place. His arms have held me when I’ve sobbed. As a young girl, after Mum’s death I couldn’t cry, as I didn’t feel safe to let go, as Dad was grieving too. Now I do feel safe and I can let go and I know that Phil will support me completely.

More merciful still was God’s gift of himself to me. His love for me carries me each day. I pour out love, as a mother and wife each day, as God pours his love into me.

God chose this path for me and he knew it would hurt. I’m ok with that. This path has led me to him, to Phil and to being a mother, I could never want for more. I know my mum would delight to see the life I have and the grandchildren she has. One day they will all play together in Heaven, until then I will tell them stories of Nana Chris and how she hugged me and loved me. I will tell them I miss her but that God understands what it means to grieve. For when Lazarus died, ‘ Jesus wept.’

My Mum was an English teacher and could write poetry. I remember her helping me with writing an ‘Animal Farm’ poem for English a year before she died, I say help, but I think it was largely her skill on display! Anyway I remember it was good and the teacher asked me to read it out to the class. She also always wanted to write a book. So I know when I write, a little of my Mum lives on in me.

So for Mum on Mothers’ Day….

I watched you slowly slip away,
Your lips were turning blue,
You had no strength to carry on,
Your time on earth was through.

For years you’d fought the battle,
In your body and your mind,
As cancer took its grip on you,
And peace you couldn’t find.

The fear was all-consuming,
The pain filled every hour,
Your fear was for the future,
Over it you had no power.

I cuddled you in bed at night,
We talked about your fear,
You asked me if I thought you’d die,
Something no child wants to hear.

You told me that you loved me,
The last words I heard you say,
They’re imprinted on my memory,
I can hear them to this day.

Childhood abruptly ended,
As I stoically marched on,
The cuddles in your bed at night,
Would be forever gone.

School exams, they came and went,
I faced them without you,
My driving test, first day at work,
I needed you then too.

You never met my husband,
Never saw my wedding day,
Never met my children,
Never watched them play.

I wonder what it’s like,
To have a mum who you can phone,
To tell her all your problems,
Even after you’ve left home.

But there never was a moment,
That Jesus didn’t see,
As I tried to hold the pain inside,
He was holding me.

He knows I lost my mother,
He too wept for my loss,
I began my healing journey,
When I understood the cross.

As home educators, reading has always been top of our priority list. From babyhood all the children have loved flicking through board books, as they grew I would read to them, every evening and often multiple times during the day. I would find that when all was going crazy, a quiet story would change the mood of the house, and give me 5 minutes to sit still 😉.

As they’ve grown, they’ve continued to love reading to themselves. We’ve kept the children interested in reading in a couple of specific ways. One has been acquiring interest based books. For example, Jonathan and Christopher always loved action, adventure and spy books. Thankfully Matthew has followed suit and so we have been able to pass their books onto him. Madeleine loves horses and so we’ve gone through just about every horse book we could get our hands on. Likewise with Elizabeth and gymnastic books. Hannah adores animals and thankfully animal books are easy to find and we already had a lot, so she’s sorted. The younger children are not very fussy and will settle down to listen to whatever I suggest. Another way we have encouraged reading is that we have give the children limited screen time, which I think is more appealing than books for most children. Without screens they reach out for books to occupy their minds.

How did we get so many books without breaking the bank? I am a very keen bargain hunter and during our years in Surrey I went to the Scout and Guide Jumble sale 4 times a year, as well as the huge local annual book fair. I have picked up most of our books for about 30p each. Of course we have bought some new, but we try where possible to get them second hand off the web. We have also inherited a lot of books from friends and family who have passed them on.

Before moving, we used to make full use our local library. We would order them on line and then go down and collect a pile every week. Since we moved and are thus not so near to the library, and then since the lockdowns as well, we have decided to continue to build up our home library.

As well as specific interest books, we have a large number of information books, Christian biographies, Christian fiction, Children’s Bibles and Bible stories and an assortment of other varied reading matter.

My personal favourite books to read aloud have been the ‘Little House Books’, ‘Little Pilgrim’s Progress’, almost any Patricia St John books, ‘Ten Peas in a Pod’ by Arnold Pent and the Little Lights series of Christian biographies.

What do you like to read with your children, or what memories do you have of favourite childhood books?

Do come back here soon, as I will do a post in the next few days about will how we teach our children to read.

Sometimes when I look around at all I have to do, I get so overwhelmed. Everyday there are needs to be met and often they come at me simultaneously. Meals to be cooked, animals to be cared for, rooms to be cleaned, children to be read with and taught, washing to be done, squabbles to be sorted and on and on. Some days I just want to hide! When you add onto that the state of the world we are living in, it really can get on top of me. Recently I’ve been feeling like that, and I sought God for an answer. As I turned in my Bible, He led me to this verse, ‘Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.’ Psalm 81:6. Wow! That’s exactly what I need, but how would God do that? The tasks still need doing. I continued to seek after him and I began to understand what he was calling me to do. I wrote the following poem during my time of calling on him, as a way to work through the questions and seek the answers.


I just need more time,
I have so many tasks,
With just 24 hours,
It’s too much to ask.

This job overwhelms me,
As I look at it all,
Can I please have more time,
To juggle these balls?

I see all around me,
So much I must do,
I can’t find the time,
To see each job through.

I believe it is time,
To stop and reflect,
To pause all my rushing,
To ask what God expects.

He asks me to listen,
And sit at his feet,
He’ll then give me time,
For my tasks to complete.

The hours that we’re given,
Are enough for each day,
To fulfil what God asks,
If we remember to pray.

These words ministered to my soul and gave me cause for pause. I really do feel lighter today, like the worries of the world and for our children’s future do not rest on my shoulders (I knew they didn’t, but I needed reminding). The tasks here, on our smallholding and with our family, are just as big as ever, but appear smaller once I look to our great God. I have remembered that each hour is also better spent when I have begun it with a prayer. I am gradually learning, but God knows how easily I am distracted and how quickly I forget. Thankfully he NEVER gives up on us and continues to call us back to rest in him.

The story of Mary and Martha is a good example of this Biblical principle in practice. I pray I will learn to be a Mary and not a Martha.

‘As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10 38-42