Archive | February, 2012

How to choose a Doula (A guest post from Cathy Norton)

29 Feb

How to Choose a Doula

Working with a doula through your pregnancy, birth, and first weeks of parenting can be an amazing and rewarding experience. She will come to know you on a personal level and support you throughout the whole process with encouragement and care. But how should you go about finding the right doula? Here are the steps you should take.
1. Decide What You’re Looking For – There are many different reasons why a couple may want to give birth with a doula. You may be looking for emotional support and reassurance during your first birth. On the other hand, you may want someone with expertise in a certain area such as twin births. Since doula styles and philosophies can vary greatly, it’s important that you decide on the qualities you’re looking for in a doula before you start your search.
2. Make a List – The next step is to make a list of doulas you want to interview. Most couples start looking around the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, so that they have plenty of time to decide. The best way to start looking is through personal contacts, since they will give you recommendations you can trust. You can ask your friends with children, obstetrician or midwife, or even the instructor of your childbirth course if you took one. Another good place to look is through doula certification organization websites. Many of these websites will have referral lists and search options for local areas. You can also look on doula search engines or simply Googling doulas in your local area, but it’s important that you make sure they are certified.
3. Phone Interviews – Once you have a list of doulas you’d like to interview, call them up so that you can narrow down your list. When you make these calls, ask basic questions about availability around your due date, experience, price, and approach/philosophy. If one isn’t available, you might also ask if she has other recommendations. The other purpose of making these phone calls is for first impressions – you should look for those you feel comfortable with and can relate to.
4. Meetings – Plan to meet with three or four doulas from your phone calls. Even if you click with the first one you meet, it’s good to meet with a few others just to be sure. Prepare a list of questions in advance – you can find good doula questions online if you need help. While all your candidates may have good answers, it’s important that you listen to your instincts and choose the doula that feels right to you.
Cathy Norton has worked as a Registered Nurse in various hospitals for over 20 years. She also owns the site Becoming a CNA which offers resources for those looking to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.


Losing my brother

27 Feb

I have been wanting to write about a subject that I have personally found difficult to talk about, never mind write about, but I believe in facing your fears and hopefully my experience can help someone.

At the age of 10 I lost my younger brother, Steven, who had an accident at a swimming pool. He was running along the side of the pool, when he slipped and fell in the water, he was immediately rushed to hospital where he was put on a life support machine, after a few days of no response, the doctors told my parents there was nothing they could do and that the life support machine should be turned off.

Those days while he was in hospital I stayed with a friend and I prayed every minute that he would be ok and trusted that god would protect him, I kept strong and didn’t for one minute think anything other than positive thoughts. I remember visiting him in hospital and seeing him lay there with tubes hanging out of him and a mask over his face, I wanted to ask if he was pretending as this was a game we used to play but for some reason didn’t and instead I remember looking at him and feeling such peace, I knew god was going to look after him.

A few days later,the lady I was staying with said we had to go to the hospital, once there I waited in the car whilst she went to see my parents, a short while later, she returned and asked if I wanted to go in? I didn’t really want to but she insisted and reluctantly I followed her in, in the corridor, I saw my cousin crying and I said ‘don’t worry, he’ll be fine’, I was greeted by mum and dad who sat me down and told me that the machine had been turned off and he had passed away.
‘No no no no’ I was saying. how could this be? Immediately I looked for things that I could have done to save him, maybe if I was at the swimming pool I could have stopped it, these thoughts were followed by regrets like the time I told him I would play a game with him but didn’t or the time when I wanted to spend time with him but went to my friends instead, my world came crashing down, the thing I loved more than anything was taken away from me. My beautiful brother Steven Alexander Tindale, aged 7 was gone but truly not forgotten.

Top left: Me, My sister Joy and Steven. Top right: Steven he was such a fun happy boy
Bottom left: Me and My Mum. Bottom right: My Dad and My baby Eivissa

The weeks after his death was such a strange time, even though I was only 10 years old, I felt like a grown up, I understood everything and found my own way of grieving. I avoided his room for weeks, the thought of going in there and seeing all his toys and his things everywhere was too scary to deal with, even the toys around the house that belonged to him, I avoided. Everything that reminded me of that day I wanted to erase, the dolls that I was playing with on the day it happened were packed away and never played with again,

As the years went by, I kept a lot of things bottled up, I never wanted to bring up the subject of Steven in front of mum and dad as I didn’t want to upset them.
Despite what happened I had the best upbringing I could ask for, I have a loving mum and dad and little sister who I adore, I’m so thankful that they remained strong for us and we kept a strong family unit that will never be shaken.

I got to a point in my life where I felt I could deal with things and even though the tragedy will never be forgotten, I felt that I had got to a good place in my mind about the situation. Everything was brought back into light when I had my interview with the production crew of ‘one born every minute’, they asked a lot of questions and the subject of my brother was brought up, I remember the producer asking why I had such a positive outlook on life even though I had gone through such a horrible experience, I told her that I’ve always being a very positive person and I like to see the good in everyone and everything, bad things will always happen to good people but the only person it hurts by being negative is yourself. I could have easily taken my circumstance and got angry at god, angry at people and angry at the world, but why, why should my life suffer because of my past hurts, I live for now and cherish every breath I have and thank god for my wonderful husband, beautiful daughter and amazing family and friends, this life we live in is so short and I’m determined to make mine count.

When my daughter was born it made me see things through a parents eyes, I love her so much, love that I thought I would never feel, it’s weird how you are willing to die for something that has only been in the world a matter of seconds, I began to truly understand the pain that my parents must have gone through and I have cried a lot recently over my brother and the pain my mum and dad must have felt.

I owe a lot of the way I am to my mum and dad who have the most positive outlook on life, I never hear them say anything bad about anything, they truly are great role models and amazing people, what they dealt with should never happen to any parent but the way they remained even though the answers as to ‘why’ it happened may never be answered is inspirational and defiantly shaped the way I am.

The message I want to send in this blog is quite simple, bad things will always happen to good people, it’s natural to have emotions and scars that will always be there but we cannot let this define us as people, we have the ability to choose our thoughts and choose how we do life, and my attitude is to do it as well as I can and enjoy every second of it! I choose to not let my past hurts destroy me, rather use them to help others.

This month’s magazine features (February)

21 Feb

More Magazine




Chat Magazine



East side Magazine




Photos of Past ‘Daniel Francesca’ clients (Snoop Dogg, Rio Ferdinand and Craig Bellamy)

17 Feb

Top left: Me, Snoop Dogg and the T-shirt we made and gave him. Top right: Snoop and his uncle. Bottom left: Me and Lil Kim. Bottom right: Me and snoop Dogg's uncle

Here are some people we have met through our fashion business.

Looking back at these pictures makes us realise how far we have come and what amazing things we have done along our journey, sometimes its easy to forget what you have achieved as you keep striving for the next thing.

It’s good to stop and celebrate moments and highlights in your life.

Snoop Party

Going to the launch of Snoop Dogg’s Album in New York was probably one of the highlights for me and Daniel, being able to give him one of our T-shirts and meet him was an incredible moment in our fashion career.

Birthday party with Newcastle team

Top left: Kieron Dyer, Jermaine Jenas,Craig Bellamy,Claire Bellamy. Top left: Alan Shearer. Claire Bellamy and Freind. Bottom left: Kieron Dyer and Me. Bottom right: Patrick Kluivert and Claire Bellamy

When we are designing for clients we often visit their homes, sitting down and talking through their designs, we often get to know them quite well. One of the player’s (Craig Bellamy playing for Newcastle at the time) wife, Claire was having her birthday party and asked us to design and make her an outfit, (which you see her wearing on the right, made of black kid leather) At party we got to meet the legend Alan shearer! hehe
News Paper clippings
Some of our clients were snapped wearing some of our designs and we were also asked to style Craig Bellamy for an FHM photoshoot

Left: Rio Ferdinand, our very first client wearing one of our jackets. Top right: Craig bellamy styled and wearing 'Daniel Francesca' for an FHM Magazine photoshoot. Bottom right: Jonathan Woodgate wearing a Daniel Francesca T-shirt with a quote from Scarface the movie on the front.

To Read more about our story go to my post ‘Our Fashion story, career and babies’

Letter to the prime minister

14 Feb

Here’s a letter I wrote to the prime minister.

Dear Prime minister David Cameron/ Anne Milton MP

I hope you are both well and are having a great week.

I have been wanting to write you this letter for a long time but only now am I finding time to sit down and type it.

Firstly I would like to say a huge thank you for providing us with the NHS, we really are lucky to have such an excellent service, there are countries all over the world who will never have the treatment we have and we never want to take that for granted. The midwives and hospital staff we dealt with were incredible, the support and information at our disposal was so valuable and I feel it’s about time that this ‘great nation’ received some praise for the good things it is doing rather than focus on the negative.

I recently gave birth at the Leeds General Infirmary on 17th september 2011. My husband and I feel you have done a fabulous job in providing us with the best possible care from the medical profession.

When we found out I was pregnant we were over the moon, we were not entirely sure it would happen as I hadn’t had a menstrual cycle for 5 years, but we trusted in gods timing and in January 2011, I discovered I was expecting.

I was very sure on how I wanted to give birth, I wanted it to be as natural as possible and for it to be a wonderful time. I kept positive and hoped that when the time came, the midwives and hospital I chose would help me to have the experience I wanted. In my birth plan I had written I would like a water birth with little intervention, low lighting and a relaxed atmosphere. This is exactly what I got! My midwife (Jane Moor) read my plan as soon as we got there and did everything in her power to make it happen. Thank you so much for making all those options available, for giving power back to women in how they want to give birth.

Our birth was actually featured in this series of ‘One born every Minute’ on Channel 4(episode 2. 11th January), we feel proud that our special moment got captured on T.V and that we got to show the nation the amazing job the NHS does.
Since the show I have started a blog which has had an incredible amount of response, receiving over 20000 hits in the first month, I’m just glad that I get to talk about the amazing experience we had and the fantastic care we received, the only problem now is there may be a huge demand for birthing pools, hehehe!

We are eternally grateful for helping me have the experience we always dreamt of.

Thank you to my midwife, Alison McGowan, to the Leeds general infirmary and all it’s wonderful staff and to government that makes the NHS what it is.

Thank you

Heather Francesca
Twitter; heatherfrancesc


More magazine photoshoot

10 Feb

Since our appearance on ‘One born every minute’, we have been approached by several magazines asking for interviews and last week we were invited to London for a photo shoot with More Magazine, the article we are featured in focuses on life events that have happened on TV. I wasn’t sure who would be joining us on the shoot, all i knew was that someone had got married and the other had sex on tv, I pressumed it must be someone from Big Brother, either that or we were going to be meeting someone like Paris Hilton!

We got to the station early so we could have our important starbucks and chocolate bar (kit kat chunky orange, love em!) Once on the train, a lovely condutor ushered us to some seats near the baby changing facilities which later would prove to be a great source of entertainment. An hour into our journey, a gentleman stood up and walked towards the toilet that we were facing, once inside, the door automatically shut behind him, however, he forgot to lock the door, a minute or so later, another passenger pressed the button to open the door, completely unaware that there was a person inside, as the door swung open a slightly embarred man was revealed to the whole carriage with his pants around his ankles, needless to say, I was not going to be attempting any toilet trips on this journey.

We arrived in London, had a spot of lunch and went straight to the shoot in East London, once there we went into hair and make up which seemed to last forever, the make-up artist was so lovely, we talked about being mums and how it effects our jobs, she found it difficult to keep some clients as they automatically presumed now she was a mum she wouldn’t be able to juggle work and parenting efficiently, funny how people like to put you in box. Not only was she a very good makeup artist but she proved that being a working mum could be done and to a good standard.
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Daniel and Eivissa in make-up

We soon had a room full of ladies talking about mother hood, in the chair next to me was Kayleigh, who was on a brilliant episode of ‘don’t tell the bride’ where her husband had organised to get married in a theme park! I had seen this one and it was hilarious. We quickly got on to the subject of how the public perceive you, it has definitely opened my eyes to how it must feel for people to be judged purely based on what the media portray, kayleigh was a lovely girl and I was shocked when she told me that she received a lot of negative feed back from the show. As we swapped stories on the various feedback we had both received, in walked Michelle Bass, who had appeared on series 5 big brother, she went onto the show as a normal girl, yet a few of her actions made her a hate figure to the nation, in reality she was a very sweet girl, polite and friendly, I could tell that’s she had been hurt by the press and public which is such a shame, she told us about times when strangers would hurl abuse at her in the street and insult her for no reason, Wow, people can be so cruel. This has taught me NEVER judge a book by its cover, life can be tough enough as it is and we should celebrate rather than criticise.

Top: Getting styled for the shoot, bottom: me and the intern girl who helped to look after Eivissa. She was great!

After our deep chats the stylist brought us our outfits which was a role reversal as its usually us doing the styling to others, the stylist was lovely and we decided to let her do a job and just wear what she gave us, we know what its like when you get some difficult customers. I wore some floral pink jeans and a baby pink sleeveless tulip top, both from Top shop, my accessories were metallic silver shoes, bangles and a necklace. The top was a bit big but with a bit of clipping and pinning it actually looked quite nice. Danny emerged from the fitting room wearing a T-shirt with an American flag on it, a denim short sleeve shirt with rolled up sleeves and camel coloured trousers with a low crotch and tapered leg, he looked cute but did look about 15. The more magazine team weren’t convinced and trusted Danny to pick out an outfit that represented his style. I realise, as a stylist, your job is to look at the persons personality and bring it out more by the clothes you dress them in. Danny’s style is very tailored and slick and the ‘young boy look’ doesn’t represent his image, he picked out a checked shirt and braces and we were all ready for the shoot. The location of the shoot was so cool, an abandoned warehouse with exposed brick and timber throughout, the room was full of props and the most amazing furniture, mirrors and lights. Our set was shot against a backdrop of old televisions, which during the editing process were going to have our images super imposed onto.

Staying warm by the lights, Eivissa fast asleep!

The photographer was amazing, so friendly and full of enthusiasm, he was so good at bringing out our personality, he kept telling Danny to do big smiles which was quite amusing as Danny has the worlds smallest mouth, Danny’s biggest smile is smaller than Eivissas smallest smile, anyway, eventually the photographer got the shots he wanted(he joked that he was going to photoshop a new mouth into the final picture).

After a long day we found ourselves back on the train to Leeds, we got ourselves relaxed and seated then Eivissa decided to do a huge poo that leaked out of her nappy, every time she does this she seems to be sat on Danny’s lap which is always funny as he is left with poo stains, never a good look when you have to be up and down the train. The journey home gave us time to reflect on the past few weeks. We love the fact that we get to take Eivissa everywhere with us, we feel so lucky to have such amazing opportunities that she can be part of, since her arrival, we feel as though life has started, its hard to explain, but the outlook we have now has opened up the door to so many new things, children should never stop you from living your dreams, if anything they become part of the puzzle in life’s destiny, the happiness and satisfaction we get from being parents has motivated us to give her the the best possible upbringing and we are so blessed that not a day goes by where she isn’t by our side living out our lives!

Look out for the magazines we feature in this month;
Chat magazine(issue 7 out 10th feb)
More magazine
East side magazine
Image magazine
Mother and baby magazine

A wonderful birth even though it didn’t go to plan, Rebecca’s story

6 Feb

I thought it would be great for you to read a birth story from a friend of mine.

We don’t see each other that much as she lives in another city, but we catch up every so often. She had heard about my birth experience and wanted to talk to me as she too was expecting.

Rebecca was excited about giving birth but was feeling bogged down with the negativity from others, I told her the ‘ins and outs’ of my labour and explained about getting your mindset right and believing for the best, hopefully she was going to have the experience she was hoping for.

Here is her story….

Monday 2am, my contractions had started, they continued throughout the day and into the following night up until Tuesday at 1am when they were becoming quite intense and happening every 5 minutes, it was time to go to hospital. I was feeling very positive and on a high that soon we were going to meet our baby.

I arrived at the hospital and as I lay on the bed being examined my waters broke meaning they weren’t able to do any more internal checks due to risk of infection, at this point the midwife said I was 2cm dilated, ‘what, 2cm?’ I was convinced that I was much further than this, after all I had been in this state for 24 hours. Disheartened, scared and feeling in some discomfort I was offered some drugs which I was hoping to do without but I put my plans to one side and followed the doctor’s advice, took some pethadin and got some rest.
The midwife came in a few hours later to send me home as I wasn’t progressing, We all agreed it was the best thing to do and off we went. This labour was definitely taking longer than expected!

By the time we reached home the drugs had worn off, I pulled myself together, refocused my mind and took control of my situation. I wanted to have a normal day, so normal that I decided to bake some brownies (who was I kidding?) , after my ‘not so successful attempt at baking’, we decided to go for a walk and keep as active as possible in the hope that my labour might speed up.

Once home from our walk, I noticed that I was wet down below, I called the midwife who asked several questions, one being if my baby had been active, I advised her that there hadn’t been much movement for a while and this is when she ordered my back in.

Back in the hospital they put me on a monitor to measure our baby’s heart rate as every time I had a contraction the heart rate dropped, this meant I couldn’t move around or have the water birth I was hoping for. During this time they attempted another internal but the implement they were using wouldn’t go up, upon closer look, the doctor realised the babies head was in the way and I was in fact 10cm dilated, woohooo, I had gone 8 cm all by myself. The next process was to put me on a drip to get my contractions closer together, once this was in the doctors gave us some time alone, we began to pray and believe for calm and peace in the room, my husband’s hands were placed on my tummy and those last few hours were amazing. Even the midwife commented on the feeling she felt when she walked in the room.

A new doctor took over and informed me that my bladder was too full and it would be difficult to get the baby out without it being drained, several litres later (we actually had a laugh at how much was stored up) I was ready to go, one of the midwives mentioned using forceps to get the baby out as it had been such a lengthy process but thankfully none were needed and several pushes later on Wednesday morning at 8.22 am, little Alfie was born weighing 8lbs 3.5oz, a truly wonderful moment.

Baby Alfie

I came away from my experience so happy, I had stayed positive and this helped me enjoy every moment of giving birth. Even though it didn’t go according to plan I still felt it was everything I could hope for in that moment.

For me, staying positive out weighed any feeling of disappointment I could have had.

Rebecca’s story was great, she seemed to love her experience as much as I loved mine. Our experiences were different but our attitudes were similar and in the end we both got the same out come, an amazing happy birth.Well done Rebecca, you did amazing!!

When I tell my story, I sometimes worry my advice may give women FALSE HOPE. I decided to look this word up to see what the encyclopedia defines it as


The term “false hope” refers to a hope based entirely around a fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome.

So false hope is believing in something that is not going to happen or is unrealistic. My experience was real and did happen so the hope I am giving women is not false, its true!

I then looked at what ‘hope’ means


Hope is the emotional state, the opposite of which is despair, which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.[1] It is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”

Wow! hope and positivity are amazing things, these are the keys that open the door to the feeling of success and happiness no matter the situation.