My Hospital Bag (AKA the most fun thing to pack, ever)

While it took me a little while to get organised with my hospital bag, I did find it was really fun putting it all together in anticipation of our little babe's birth. I think they recommend you pack it anytime around 36 weeks, just in case of an early arrival - but I don't think I packed mine until a few days before my due date. As it is I went overdue anyway, and kept having to dive into it to use some of the toiletries etc. In the end I think I took about three separate bags which meant a fair bit for B to carry! I ended up with a small wheelie suitcase with mine and baby's main belongings, a small carrier bag with snacks and drinks and B had his backpack too. 

I love writing lists, so ahead of packing my bag I wrote endless lists, all the while scouring Pinterest for any and everything I might possibly need. It got a little overwhelming so in the end I broke it down further and then I put each collection of items into its own pouch. The theory being that B would know what was in each one and could quickly grab any of it as and when it was needed. (By the way, this is one of the best pieces of advice I was given - make sure your birthing partner knows where you stuff is stashed. You probably won't fancy rooting through your bag yourself as you may be a little preoccupied!)

It's fair to say I took a grand total of no photos of my hospital I'm sharing a few fun photos of a tiny Tallie instead...

Two days old. Look at that squishy face!

Two days old. Look at that squishy face!



  • Bendy straws - handy for sipping at water throughout labour, even when in funny positions! 

  • Massage oil - I'd heard how good and uplifting orange oil was so I was keen to give it a try and with each contraction in early labour B massaged this oil into my lower back. As it turns out, it really helped me relax and keep breathing through it all. I had tons left over afterwards and it's been lovely to use after showers to keep my skin soft.

  • Mints - I didn't really need these, but it was nice to have them on hand.

  • Lip balm - yes oh yes. My lips got super dry making this and water absolutely essential.

  • Nightdress - I had an old nightie that had skinny straps and was super soft and light, and this was just what I needed. Plus, it being old I didn't care that after labour it went straight in the bin! (There's one similar here.) As mine was pretty loose it also meant that straight after giving birth I could feed Tallie, even though it didn't have fancy pull down bits at the front.

  • Hair ties - I packed a ton of these as I couldn't risk B not being able to find them, there is nothing worse than feeling hot and bothered and not being able to find a bobble...

  • Sweets - as it turns out I was ravenous while waiting for the induction to kick in, but once things got going food was the last thing on my mind. The sweets were nice afterwards though. I also took a big tub of Haribo for the midwives to put on their station which I think was happily received! 

  • Face spray - I got a travel spray bottle and just filled it with cool water once I was in active labour. B then could spritz my face occasionally which brought some lovely cool relief.

  • Face cloth - much like the spray bottle, a cool flannel is handy to dab your brow with once things get going. (Certainly if you're anything like me and feel like you run a few degrees hotter than most!)


  • Shower gel

  • Shampoo

  • Deodorant

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Moisturiser - I had this cream and used it on my face and body and loved it. Quite sad to have run out now tbh.

  • Emery boards - I don't know about you, but if I snag my nail and I don't have an emery board to hand it is so hard to think about anything else!

  • Hand cream - lots of hand washing definitely takes its toll so this is a nice one to have handy on your bedside.

  • Hand sanitiser - not essential if you have a private room with a sink, but so handy to keep on standby for before/after nappy changes.

  • Pack of tissues - I don't go anywhere without these, and hospital was no different!


  • Nipple cream - if you're wanting to breastfeed this stuff is amazing while you get the hang of it. 

  • Breast pads - so handy for any leaky moments. I had (and still have) disposable ones, but in future I'd be tempted to get washable ones like these bamboo ones.

  • Maternity pads - I took two packs of these with me and that was plenty, though I did stock up again once I was home. 

  • Maternity mats - these were provided by the hospital, but I added them to this list as I made sure I had them handy for when I returned home. They were really handy for changing Tallie on those first few days, as the nappies were interesting to say the least!


  • Tinted moisturiser - I didn't want anything too fussy, just something to hydrate and even out my skin tone, ahead of welcoming visitors. I love this by La Roche Posay.

  • Mascara - my usual staple.

  • Tinted lip balm - I love these by Korres as they have a lovely pigment, but are light and non sticky.

  • Concealer - bags be gone!

  • Pressed powder - only for a light dusting, but I don't think I really used it as the ward was so warm and my skin was pretty dry.

I then also packed: 

  • Maternity notes - essential!
  • Flip flops - for showers while you're on the postnatal ward, our showers were clean, but still...
  • Towel - our hospital provided towels which actually weren't too bad, but I still preferred to have one from home.
  • Other PJs - while I wouldn't recommend taking your fancy pjs to hospital (save them for when you're home as you may still be a bit messy). In the end I stuck to wearing my big pants and a comfy vest top while I was in hospital, and I put on old loose pj bottoms for trips to the bathroom etc. 
  • Nursing bras - I had these for sleeping in, and these for day time wear. 
  • Comfy clothes - I was only in for one day and night following Tallie's birth, so I wore my pjs most of the day and had comfy clothes for going home in. My feet had swollen so much that I ended up needing to wear my flip flops to go home. I made sure I took the nursing vest tops I had as they made things so much easier while I was getting to grips with feeding. These from H&M are a staple in my wardrobe now. 
  • Big pants - cotton, comfy and essential after birth. I also got some of these disposable pants for right after birth, when things were still a bit messy.
  • Dressing gown - I did pack one of these (a thin light one) and began active labour wearing it, but it got so in the way with its tie straps that I ditched it in the end. I didn't feel I needed one on the ward afterwards either as it was so so hot!
  • Headphones - I listened to a lot of music in the early stages of labour, so headphones were essential. They would also have been handy on the postnatal ward (so noisy most of the time) but as it is I managed to snag a private room.
  • Wooly socks - I packed my favourite snuggly socks, but in the end I was so hot (maternity wards like to keep things toasty) that I didn't need them.


  • Nappies - these aren't provided at hospital so we took about half a pack (around 10-15) I think, which was plenty given our short stay. But we also didn't stress out as the hospital was not far from lots of shops, so B could have dashed out and got more had we needed them. 

  • Muslin cloths - x3 ideal for burping and cleaning up any and everything. 

  • Cotton wool - we didn't really use this, as when the nurse came to teach us how to wash Tallie, she brought her own cotton wool with her. 

  • Baby wipes - we used Water Wipes at first, instead of using cotton wool and water for nappy changes as it was so much quicker and easier.

  • Sleepsuits - we took 3 of these, size 'up to one month' as well as 2 newborn sizes. Not really sure why we took the newborn ones as she was so big they never got a look in!

  • Short sleeve vests - x3 to wear under the sleepsuits.

  • Hat - we didn't put Tallie in one in our room as it was so warm, but we had it on standby for the journey home.

  • Scratch mitts - I packed a pair of these but they weren't used as the sleepsuits had them integrated.

  • Coat - we didn't get a coat exactly, but we did have a warm hoodie type jacket for the journey home.

  • Blanket - I used this cellular blanket and it was perfect, plus it lasted a long while once we got home before she outgrew it.

  • Car seat - another essential!

One of the first photos of little Tallie. Only a few hours old and already a fan of grey!

One of the first photos of little Tallie. Only a few hours old and already a fan of grey!


  • Phone

  • Wallet - including change for the car park at hospital. Thankfully our hospital gave a good discount on a longer term parking pass to those having a baby!

  • iPad - handy for the quieter moments when they need to pass the time.

  • Chargers - I gave B mine too, to keep handy. 

Look at how teeny she was! This was taken when she was four days old, when we'd been readmitted as I had a post birth infection.

Look at how teeny she was! This was taken when she was four days old, when we'd been readmitted as I had a post birth infection.

And that's it. Looking at the list it does seem to be an awful lot of stuff, but as you can see some of it was a 'just in case' addition to the bags. 

What about you? Did you pack anything different in your bag? I love this article about what women have with them at birth, from around the world. So fascinating and it really makes me grateful for the amazing (free!) care we have access to in this country.


A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower

In celebration of our little Tallie turning six months all this week on the blog I'm sharing some stored up posts to bring us right up to date. You can hear all about Tallie and her arrival here, see her nursery nook here and read why I'm a huge advocate for maternity shoots here. Once this week's posts have run normal service will resume - with more interiors, DIY and book posts - not just parenting and family posts, promise! 

Today I wanted to share a little peek into my baby shower which was such a special afternoon. Contrary to popular opinion, I decided to co-host my baby shower with my bestie, Ruthie. (Our mums obviously have great choice in names!) I love planning events and had such set ideas about what I wanted to create that it felt right that we'd make it happen together, and my goodness I really couldn't have done it without her. The plan for the afternoon was simple, it was a baby shower for someone who didn't love the idea of having a baby shower! You may have guessed by now, but I really don't like the attention being on me. All I really wanted was a good excuse to gather together with some dear friends, to eat some tasty treats and to pray together as we celebrated the imminent arrival of my little one. 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

Here's a little more detail about what we got up to...


The shower was held on a grey afternoon in January, so adding flowers and candlelight was essential to lighten our home and to create a cosy atmosphere. The day before the event I stocked up on simple blooms and greenery - including ranunculus, eucalyptus, spray carnations and wax flower. By picking flowers which easily separate into little posies, we made up several little arrangements and dotted them around my home. They were everywhere from the dining table and fireplace hearths to the kitchen drinks station and even in our bathroom. We also used the same flowers to decorate our doughnut stack and cake. It's amazing how something as simple as adding flowers to some cheap and cheerful doughnuts makes them look so much more fun and pretty.

Next we added candles - both scented candles from Anthropologie and simple tealights. We emphasised the twinkly feeling with string lights too. I love the ones that just need batteries, they look great and don't need a power socked - winner! 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

I'm a sucker for banners and bunting, so of course we strung up lots of these! By sticking to the party colours (pink, grey, gold) it all tied in nicely, without being too fussy. We also hung the 'love' balloon as I couldn't resist it! It's now hanging in our bedroom as I can't bear to be parted from it.

Finally, I dotted a few little baby bits around the house. I had a sweet pair of crochet baby booties and a snuggle toy which were sweet and made the party feel more like a baby shower.

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog


We served a selection of sweet and savoury snacks including a delicious carrot cake, vanilla sugar cookies (which we'd stamped 'hello baby' on roll out icing), chocolate dipped strawberries and plenty of popcorn. To make the sweet treat table look pretty I gathered a selection of glasses and plates to display everything in. Even a simple treat like mini eggs look extra special when put out in martini glasses. 

For drinks, we set up a 'pimp your prosecco' station. I labelled carafes and filled with different juices, and put chopped fruit in bowls. Guests could then grab a jam jam (complete with gold foil straw), pour prosecco and add whatever juice or fruit they fancied. 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog | Mimosa bar
A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog
A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog
A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog


While I didn't relish the idea of traditional baby shower games, I did want to do a couple of things to mark the occasion. I'd seen 'wishes for baby' cards available to download on various blogs before and I wanted something similar. I'm such a stationery fan and this was one of the most special elements of the day so I came up with a loose design concept and then commissioned Quill London to print the cards. I was thrilled with them! The calligraphy element looked so beautiful and then when they were filled in I was left with a pile of sweet messages, hopes and dreams for Tallie. I'm so looking forward to sharing them with her when she's older. 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

The final part was a lovely time of prayer with my dear friends. Needless to say I was pretty apprehensive ahead of having Tallie, so gathering with friends to commit it all to God was so precious and the highlight of the afternoon. I felt so priviliged to be surrounded by such incredible women, knowing they'd each be an important part of Tallie's life. 

It was such a joyful afternoon and I'm so grateful to everyone who came and made it so special. And of course my biggest thank you goes to Ruthie, as she made it all happen! We wouldn't have had anything to eat if it weren't for her amazing baking skills - the biscuits, cakes and pastries were all made by her. Thank you, friend. You're the best! 

A Simple Floral Themed Baby Shower | Gathered Cheer blog

I'll be back with a couple more posts this week - including one on the things we've most used these past six months having Tallie. See you soon.


All photos shot and styled by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer

Five Reasons To Book A Maternity Shoot

Today's post has me a little nervous. Because, while I wholeheartedly believe what I'm about to say, it means me putting more images on this blog of yours truly. Not something I relish. I tend to prefer to beautiful interiors images, pretty views or more recently photos of my sweet little babe. But that's also kind of the point behind this post. That while you may be like me in your dislike for appearing in photographs, it's actually a really lovely and special thing to do from time to time. Getting pregnant wasn't quite as straight forward as I may have anticipated (you can read more about our journey here) and so it felt right to record this special moment. That while I felt even bigger than usual, it was a precious miracle that was cooking away in my belly and that deserved to be celebrated.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

I'd seen Siobhan Calder on Instagram (here and here) and loved her images so it felt like a natural fit to ask her to take my portraits. Siobhan has a magical way with light which is so different to my usual predilection for bright, white (often overexposed) shots. I knew that she'd capture this quiet moment for us beautifully and we'd be left with images to treasure forever. I wasn't wrong. Usually my first thought upon seeing myself in photos is to zone in straight away on my appearance. Don't we all do that? It can be the most amazing photo and all we see is our flaws. But these photos were different. Instead of seeing flaws and feeling uncomfortable, my initial thought was just how happy I looked and even now looking at them takes me back to that moment of excitement waiting for our little Tallie to arrive. It felt like the most effortless shoot, too. Siobhan and I chatted over cups of tea and she snapped away all the while. There were no cheesy forced grins or awkward poses. I didn't fancy doing any full on belly shots and that was fine because she captured me. The bump is there, just not taking centre stage. She knew where the light was and played to that (on one of the greyest days in January!) and it all felt so easy. A surprisingly fun morning for a camera shy person like me. And now that Tallie is here and B and I are already often found looking at pictures from when she first arrived, I also find myself going back to these photos too. From when she was still safely nestled in my belly. I was full of cold, but felt that strange mixture of calm and excited a month before my due date.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

So, if you're pregnant and sitting on the face debating whether to have some maternity photographs taken here are five good reasons to do it...


Pregnancy is one of those amazing moments in life that makes you go 'wow'. It's probably why perfect strangers see fit to reach out and touch your bump, or stop to chat asking all the usual 'when's it due?' questions. Bringing life into the world really is a miracle. And pregnancy doesn't happen everyday, or more often that a few times in a woman's lifetime, so it's precious. I don't know if I'll be pregnant again and so recording this treasured moment was something that felt really right for us. 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder


Ok so depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy you might be contending with morning sickness, swelling, nausea or feeling super achey. And this might make appearing in photos feel less that appealing. But you still look gorgeous. Trust me, you do. I loved my big bump as for the first time in ages I didn't feel self conscious about my tummy! Looking back at photos of yourself from pregnancy you'll see your lovely bump and remember your little one growing inside you - you honestly won't see your swollen ankles or anything else you might otherwise be hung up on. 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder


There's something magical about photographs that means that they capture more than just a moment in time. They capture so much more - the smells, the emotions, the sounds... As I said earlier, my own maternity photos remind me of the grey day in January, when I was full of cold and downing copious amounts of warmed honey and lemon. The house was as still as can be, with lights on and candles flickering. Anticipation filled each room as we waited and prepared and imagined what life might soon look like. If feels so special to be able to look at images and have all this conjured up time and again.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder


Pregnancy can feel a bit like a slog especially towards the end. So taking time out just for you to sit, rest and generally reflect on it all is really lovely. And if you decide to have photos taken with your partner and any other children it'll be a happy moment for you all to enjoy together as you anticipate your new arrival. I found the morning with Siobhan so calming and enjoyable - which totally surprised me as ordinarily I feel so tense having my photo taken. It was just her and me as B was at work and it just felt like hanging out with a lovely friend, I was barely aware of her snapping away.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder


Obviously Tallie is still to young right now but I imagine that as she grows she'll be keen to see photos of her as a baby and photos of her as a bump. I think it'll be such a special thing to enjoy looking at together as I tell her stories of how I felt, what labour was like, how we first felt to be parents. I love hearing stories from my own childhood and it makes me happy to think of passing similar memories onto Tallie. Of course, these portraits don't need to just capture you. They could be images of corners of your home, sweet gifts you've been given or particularly treasured items. For us, these other photos included ones of our sitting room, some sweet crochet booties and a precious print with a bible verse on. (You can see the print more here). So not only will Tallie be able to see my bump and me, but she'll get a little peek at what her first home looked like too. (I wonder if it'll seem as weird and outdated as when I look back at our first home and its furnishing way back in the 80s and 90s?!) 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

So, have you had maternity photos? Would you like to? Let me know in the comments below, or find me on Instagram! 

If you're looking for a photographer I'd so happily recommend Siobhan. Go see her amazing work here.


All photos shot by Siobhan Calder

Mum Wisdoms

Hello friends, it's been a while! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you'll have gathered that there's a new team member here at Gathered Cheer, in the shape of our brand new baby girl, Talitha Hope. She's amazing and has kept my hands full these past four weeks - hence the radio silence here. I'm planning on blogging a little more about our (long and winding) journey to parenthood, along with some fun interiors pieces for little ones just as soon as I get organised! 

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

But in the meantime, let's talk about the fact that here in the UK we're fast approaching Mothering Sunday (26th March). Having previously marked this day by celebrating my amazing mum and mum-in-law, it's also always been slightly tainted by the fact that I wasn't (and wanted desperately to be) a mum. So this year it feels extra special, with our little miracle here with us - despite her currently being too young to nip to the shops to buy me some flowers! 

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

If she could pop to the shops, I'd almost certainly send her along to The White Company. I so love the range of pieces they sell - from homewares to furniture to clothing, you honestly can't go far wrong with any of it. This year, they are celebrating mums and their many wise words with a competition on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. All they are asking you to do is share a photo of your mum, along with the best advice she's given you and the hashtag #MumWisdoms. The prize is pretty ace too, with the winner receiving the full edit of Chrissie's Mother's Day gifts.

There are so many lovely photos and wise words being shared and it gave me food for thought thinking about the advice my own mum (and more recently my mum-in-law) have given me. Here are some that came to mind.


On Life

'Don't go outside with wet hair. You might catch a cold'

'Make decisions out of love, not fear'

'Work hard and be nice'


On Love

'Bad boys are overrated - go for the nice ones'

'Guard your heart. It's precious'

'Have a weekly date night'


On Mothering

'Go with your instincts, don't worry about what everyone else is doing'

'Prioritise your marriage above your little one. It'll be good for them to see you caring for each other well'

'Keep going. You're doing great'


By way of saying thank you to my mum and mum-in-law for these wisdoms (of which there are so many more!) I scoured The White Company to find them gifts ideas that I thought would love. Here is what I picked...

For the mum who loves comfort and cosiness //

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog
Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

Tassel scarf |  Relax bath oil | Restore body scrub | Side plate


For the mum who loves a sweet smelling home //

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog
Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog
Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

Ceramic serving board | Spring botanical collection

What do you think of the pieces I picked? Do you have any Mum wisdoms to share? I've got my eye on the gorgeous cashmere socks and tassel scarf - perfect for cosy stay-at-home with the baby days. For more gift ideas have a peek here.


All photos styled and shot by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer.

This post was written in collaboration with The White Company, and for it I was given the lovely pieces featured. All opinions are of course my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Gathered Cheer going. 

A mother, with no baby to hold

It's a busy day on the blog today, as I really wanted to write this post too. It's altogether more personal in nature, and I hope that's ok with you. In a post topic that was suggested by Altitude Summit, bloggers have been asked to write about the day they were made a mother. It's a wonderful contest that is aiming to raise awareness of the charity, Every Mother Counts. A US charity, EMC exists to address the barriers to maternal health around the world. With projects in countries such as Haiti, Uganda and Malawi, their work is so important.

So, onto my response to the topic...

B and I have been married for nearly four years... hurrah for our nearly-anniversary! Our wedding day was one filled with smiles, nerves {doing the first dance terrified me} and joy at what was ahead of us. I was whisked off to the sunny Seychelles, where we listed our dreams, goals and vision for our family. I'm pretty sure B still has those lists on his phone.

For me, having children was a given. I'm not sure I was ever a typical girl who dreamt of walking up the aisle and dancing around in white dress {although it was very fun}, but I had always been so sure that I wanted to be a mum. So, needless to say - having a family was pretty high up on our list!

Fast forward, four years from that blissful {and a bit blustery} June day, and I've been pregnant three times. But I am yet to hold a baby in my arms.

All that said, I still feel like a mum. I know everyone has a different concept of when motherhood begins, when a baby is really a baby - but for me, as soon as I saw the 'pregnant' sign pop up on the testing kit, I was a mum. Everything changed from that moment onwards. Before, I'd been so happy to be just me and B. To live each day as we wanted. But the minute I found out I was pregnant, I was so excited at the prospect of what was to come and of our future family. Our dreams were being fulfilled, and I couldn't wait to meet our little person. But, as happens with way more pregnancies than I'd ever imagined, I was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy. Not long afterwards, I was rushed in for surgery, where my heart was broken as the doctors 'fixed' me. Nothing really can prepare you for these moments. My life was saved, but a life was lost too. It's times like these that I am exceptionally grateful for the NHS, and for brilliant doctors and surgeons - ectopics can be so dangerous, and if untreated can lead to death.This is a scary reality for many who don't have access to the treatment available here in the West.

Since then, I've had two more ectopic pregnancies, and each time it knocks away a little more at my dream of being a mother. But, in these wavering moments, I rest on my hope and faith, that I am a mother. I might not get the chance to tuck in my three littles, but they did exist, even for the briefest of moments. I recently read the most moving account of one family and the loss of their little boy, from a cancerous brain tumour. I honestly can't imagine the grief of losing a little person, and their faith and hope in it all brought me to tears. One quote from the mother's sister really touched me:

"We might have lost him; but he’s not lost. God has him. God has us. He’s just holding us on different ends of eternity."

And, while a different situation entirely, this spoke to me and brought me such comfort. I am a mum - my babies are just holding a different end of eternity.

#Alt Summit believes every mother counts