If you follow this blog, as a lot of you will know I have spent quite a few years working as a professional chef. While I love working as a chef and love working with food, love working with my colleagues and so forth, starting a family has made me have serious thoughts about my future.
Working as a chef can be great but it involves long hours, up to 70 hours a week, in a really busy environment with few breaks. Last year I made the decision to go back to college to study Illustration, one of my other main loves apart from food, to see if I’m any good and to see if I can start working as a freelance illustrator.
Naturally creating works as an illustrator is completely different to anything I’ve done before. Creating works takes a lot longer than say, take a photograph or cook a meal, but I find it a really therapeutic process and this is what I want to do full time somewhere in the future. The illustration work I do is also one of the reasons I don’t update this blog as often as before. With having a six month old daughter who demands attention whenever she’s awake, my husband is out working nearly all the time now and with college I’ve been struggling to cook any new dishes. Most of the food we eat nowadays is much simpler than before, things like fried rice, chow mein, beef noodle soup, these are fairly normal dishes for us.
As and when time allows I’ll be updating this blog also and I have some time off from college soon so I’ll be cooking a lot more dishes. Also Amelia is much easier to manage nowadays. I’m sure I mentioned elsewhere she’s now going to nursery which has been an absolute god-send. This means for good periods of time both Chris and myself can focus on work (more so for him giving me free time in the evenings) and get everything done that we need to.
So to end this blog post, I’ve created an illustration website, Liv Wan Illustration showcasing my work. I got a little help with the coding from Chris but everything on the website was designed by myself from all the illustrations, the layout and the buttons. The link for the site is right below but I hope you like my work and really appreciate feedback about my work and website. If you’re also interested in commissioning me please get in touch.
The last time I updated this blog was on the 26th of February and since then my life has gone through a massive change. On the 10th March, at 21:12 I gave birth to Amelia Honey Radley.
When I was younger I never dreamt of getting married and even just six years ago I never even thought about children, but both lives and priorities change. Just like my birth plan, you plan everything for months and then as soon as you go into labour, everything goes out of the window.
I started feeling my first contractions on Wednesday and the same evening I lost my mucus plug. I had been experiencing braxton hicks contractions prior to this but Wednesday night was the first night I thought I might give birth on my due date, which I absolutely did. Giving birth took way longer than I expected. Granted I didn’t really know what to expect but I thought I would have contractions for maybe 24 hours and give birth shortly afterwards. Real birth is also nothing like the TV show “One Born Every Minute”. I absolutely love that show but of course they don’t follow women through their full labour.
By Friday my contractions were really frequent and increasingly painful and after I thought I had gone into labour we called the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh to see if I could be admitted. No! They were full! So what was planned to be a 10 minute trip to the hospital ended up with a 50 minute drive to St Johns Hospital in Livingston. Before I say anything about the labour, the staff and midwives at St Johns were really awesome. Everyone was really friendly and we really couldn’t have asked for any better service.
So on Friday night/Saturday morning, shortly before 1am, we arrived at St Johns Hospital and they performed some tests on me. The first thing they said were my waters were still intact, which was a surprise, and my cervix was only 2cm dilated. If I had gone to the Royal Infirmary I probably would have been sent out but with St Johns being some distance away they decided to keep me in. THANK GOD! This meant I could stay and use the absolutely wonderful gas and air which up until the point where I hit real labour was amazing.
At 6.30am on Saturday I was informed my cervix had dilated to 4cm at which point I was properly admitted. The gas and air was still wonderful but I really couldn’t imagine being sent home and trying to cope with the pain.
Early labour spent all of my energy so by this time my blood pressure had shot through the roof. I believe from what Chris said my average blood pressure was something like 160/110, really high. I was informed afterwards they tried nearly all of the medications they could think of to lower my blood pressure but the epidural I had was rendered almost useless because of the blood pressure medicine.
About the Epidural, effing painful! Maybe it was my anesthesiologist but on a scale of 1 being not painful and 10 being agony, it was a 12. I have a pretty high pain tolerance but it was really horrendous. As mentioned before the blood pressure medicine made the epidural useless so after the pain of having it done, it was pointless. Annoying!
Around 6pm the midwives checked my cervix again and I was still just 6cm dilated (sorry, should have mentioned I was induced in the morning before the epidural which I was given around lunchtime). They gave me some medicine to speed up the contractions which for them was a nightmare as they were trying to get me to give birth but also trying not to give me a stroke (during the pushing stage Chris saw the highest blood pressure rating of 217/115).
The last time my dilation was checked was at 8.30pm and when I was told I was at 10cm I really broke down. I had gone through so much discomfort but that was nothing compared to giving birth. I had a natural birth but remember the epidural didn’t work. I’m also a really small person so for 30 minutes I was in absolute pure agony.
At 9.12pm, after about 30 minutes pushing, Amelia Honey Radley was born. I surprisingly didn’t cry but both Chris and my step-mum broke down, they were balling their eyes out. They did some medical checks on her and she was perfectly fine. She weighed 7lbs and 4ounces at birth.
I had to stay in hospital for 2 days after giving birth because of the blood pressure. Once again the staff and midwives at St Johns were really excellent, can’t fault them at all, but St Johns is a bit dated and the rooms were ridiculously hot.
ADJUSTING TO MOTHERHOOD
I’ll admit, the first 24 hours at home were really hard. Amelia was constantly crying and I was absolutely exhausted. I realised after about 24 hours I wasn’t able to produce enough breast milk, which really upset me, it really made me feel like a failure as a mother. So after Nelly, one of the midwives visited our home, we bought some formula and since then Amelia has been the happiest baby ever. She occasionally cries when we change her clothes but otherwise nothing, she just makes loads of cute baby noises. She also drinks a LOT of milk.
Apparently babies lose roughly 10% of the body weight following giving birth. Amelia had lost around 12% so we were ordered to give her at least 55ml of milk every 3 hours. She’s now driving about 50mls every 2 hours. Her largest feed she had around 60ml’s, which was perfect.
BACK TO (A DIFFERENT) HOSPITAL
Nelly visited my home for the second time on Thursday to do another checkup and discovered my blood pressure had risen again. We went to triage at the Royal Infirmary where we waited for around 4 hours before I was admitted to the wards. I have no problem with waiting but I was really angry firstly because the staff were standing around chatting but secondly because we were given very little information. I was told around 9.30pm about the admission at which point Amelia needed a change of clothes, fresh nappies and more milk. I also hadn’t eaten that evening and only had my jeans and tops to wear. I was furious.
I gave Chris a list of things to bring to hospital, so he had to drive home and drive back. He brought more than expected though and was good enough to bring my glasses but also my laptop so I could at least entertain myself.
The wards at the Royal Infirmary are certainly more modern than St Johns and also cooler. The triage staff were fairly clinical but the midwives were lovely. Also today, Nelly was doing the rounds in the ward and we absolutely love her.
So that’s my story just recently. I’m now back at home, Amelia has been fed, bathed and she’s fast asleep at the time of publishing this post. Below are some photos from St Johns Hospital but also photos taken at home when she was just 5 days old.
Recently, since the weather turned dark and cold, I’ve become a bit dismayed with both blogging and cooking. Just as with my good fried Chef Dennis I work extremely long hours and have very limited time to cook any food let alone photograph it.
So, while the light and time still suck, to revitalize my interest in blogging I’ve been looking at changing my blog theme. Since I started blogging in English (I used to blog in Chinese) I’ve been using a theme we bought from Themeforest called Unite, made by a developer called Parallelus. While it looks professional it looks too professional, I wanted something more personal.
I’ve wanted a new theme for my blog for a very long time and a pink blog theme has always been my dream since I started blogging. Neither Chris or I are trained in web design and developing and although Chris knows some CSS/HTML he doesn’t have the time to sit down and really learn how to create a WordPress theme from scratch.
We spent quite a bit of time searching online and we found one WordPress Consultant in the US who makes stunning themes but charges in the region of $2000-3000 a theme, which is too much. Chris then found this amazing theme company called DIYThemes who created a theme called Thesis.
The thing that really stood out to us is the level of customisation possible with this theme. You can really change virtually anything you want in terms of layouts, colours, etc without needing any coding. It’s also optimised way beyond anything we’ve seen elsewhere for SEO. Because of this awesome theme I can now finally own what is for now the perfect blog theme for myself. It’s “pink”!!! My favourite colour!!!
(You can see the difference compare with these 2 photos so you can tell the thesis theme can actually allow you to do a lot of changes. )
People who follow my blog have also heard me talk about wanting to change my blog a bit. I have to admit I’m that kind of person who can’t always keep doing the same thing and live the same routine every day, it drives me nuts!
So it’s time for me and my blog to have new change and it’s start from this new theme. If you remember I cooked Souvlaki for my blog a month or so ago and you’ll also remember I work in one of the busiest and most famous restaurants in Edinburgh. From now on this blog will still be mainly about Eastern food but I’ll also start cooking Western food that I have learnt from my time working as a chef.
I know many people will probably think I’m so poor to celebrate my first ever visitor comment on my blog. But, I’m just so happy about it. I believe visitor’s comments are the best support for bloggers and help us keep our faith in creating more entries in the future.
I’m always very generous with my StumbleUpon favourites and reviews because I know each of my entries is precious if visitors give me a positive comment and thus this enthuses me to work harder on my blog. On the other hand, if people give me negative comments I will try to adjust my problem and make a improvement.
One of the things that upset me the most when I moved to the UK was leaving my beloved Mimi (my cat) back in Taipei. I love cats and just a few days after we moved to Edinburgh we found a little pet shop, which has now closed, that was selling kittens.
He was desperately young, maybe 4 weeks or so but he was completely ridden with fleas and quite ill for the first week or so after we took him home (At one point we were worried he might die but he eventually picked up and is still with us today).
Instantly both Chris and I fell in love with this little cat and we named him Popo. Popo can be desperately affectionate but he can also be a major pain in the ass. We affectionately call him “beast” and “monster” for some of the things he does (jumping up doors, shredding paper, attacking our feet while we sleep etc etc) but sometimes it’s hard to be angry with him when he’s as cute as he can be.
Take the picture below where he’s lying on his side. He literally jumped up towards the toilet roll holder in the bathroom and shredded a whole toilet roll then when we caught him he just lay there pretending it wasn’t him. So cute!
I think it’s a good time to introduce everyone about my partner’s photography website. All of the photos on my blog were took by my partner Chris Radley. As you can see he is an excellent photographer and always manages to produce wonderful photos all the time.