No Sleep for Mummy!

Parenting

Since her first birthday, Little V has decided that sleeping at night is totally overrated.

She’s never been an amazing sleeper, but I’ve never complained about having to get up two or three times a night to resettle her for another 4-6 hour stint. It’s always been a case of a cheeky little feed and snuggle and down she goes, no fuss.

But it would appear that now she’s hit the grand old age of one, she’s turned into a little nighttime diva. She goes down ok at bedtime, after her bath, story and milk, but that’s the only good part of this story!

My little lady will then wake every 1.5-2 hours throughout the night and get herself in a total state, requiring a lot of calming, cuddles and milk to get her back to sleep. Once she’s back asleep she simply won’t be put down. Last night I spend 2.5 hours in the nursing chair with her snuggled in my lap and she spent 2 hours in my bed (from 4am, when I despaired and really needed to sleep too).

My night owl then wakes up for the day at 5/5.30 am. She doesn’t seem to understand that this wouldn’t be ok, even if she slept for ten hours straight beforehand. Let alone that on 5 hours of very broken sleep this mummy is not equipped to start the day at that time!

It’s as if the little pickle knows that I’ve upped my work commitments and am studying towards an exam and that Daddy can’t help because he’s so busy at work, so she just wants to see how little sleep a mummy really needs.

Love her to absolute pieces, but I seriously wish she’d go back to her old ways of 2/3 little stirs a night!

Is there anything I can do?!

What have you tried when your little one has a sleep regression?

I’m open to all suggestions!

One tired Mummy x

My Birth Story

Parenting

The Story of the Birth of Little V.

To begin with let me give you a little bit of context. I had a very unusual pregnancy. Due to a catalogue of pre-existing autoimmune conditions, I was placed under the high risk team at St Thomas’s Hospital in London.  Early on in the pregnancy I became very poorly and was in and out of hospital for appointments and check ups 3-5 times a week, with no clear answer as to what it was that was making me so ill.

At 21 weeks it was discovered that I had a condition called hyperparathyroidism which put mine and my baby’s lives at risk. I was immediately admitted to hospital for round the clock care and had a lifesaving operation at 25 weeks. (If you’d like to read more about this, you can find it by clicking this link.)

Following the operation I had continuous check ups a couple of times a week and was in ADU (the ante-natal daycare unit) for suspected pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and anaemia. I also had a number of infections which had to be monitored.

So that’s the background, and nowI’m trying to decide where to begin. It’s a little bit confusing as I was in hospital 3-5 times a week for my whole pregnancy and was always going to be induced if the baby hadn’t made an appearance by my due date.

The week before I was due, I was up at hospital on Wednesday morning having my usual tests, when some of the bloods came back as showing signs of infection. It was decided (at 2am on the Thursday morning) that I would be admitted to the ante-natal ward later that day to be induced. Hubby and I headed home to get some sleep and were told to be back at the hospital at 10am on Thursday.

We arrived at the ante-natal ward, a home from home for me having spent a lot of my pregnancy there. I was familiar with all the staff and felt like I was in very safe hands with people who knew me well. At this point in time my overriding feeling was one of excitement. I was finally going to meet the little person who, against all the odds, had thrived throughout the pregnancy and was going to be joining our family imminently. Naïvely, I thought that being induced meant the baby would be there the next day at the very latest.

How wrong was I!

The first step of an induction is a pessary. This is a small, flat device that looks like a little label on a tampon string. It has to be inserted into the cervix and the idea is that it kick-starts contractions. I had been 1cm dilated for about a week and baby’s head was quite low so, ever the optimist, I thought this would be it and we’d be off.

Hubby and I had agreed that he would be staying with me throughout, as we had no idea how quickly things would happen, home was a good 40 minute drive away in normal traffic, at rush hour we had no idea how long the journey would take. He was set up in my little area with a reclining chair, a pillow and a blanket. Sillily we didn’t pack him any PJs or really consider how uncomfortable his time in hospital with me would be. We will definitely do that differently next time round.

Anyway, late that night the first pessary was inserted and we sat back and waited. When you start an induction you are hooked up to a machine that measures your contractions as well as the baby’s heartbeat. The next morning the machine was showing signs that I was having contractions every few minutes, but I couldn’t feel them and when examined I hadn’t dilated at all.
The next stage is a gel, which is in a plastic syringe and is also put into the cervix. This was when things started to happen. Within an hour of the gel being inserted, the contractions began in earnest. I was having two 4 minute contractions in ten minutes and was realising that they hurt! On examination on Friday evening I had dilated to 4cm and was told we’d give it overnight to see how far I went, whilst being checked on regularly. At this point I was in quite a lot of pain and was offered gas and air. I gave it a go, but I’ve never been one for feeling out of control or woozy and quickly rejected it in favour of paracetamol.

The pain was intensifying and I started to feel a little vulnerable. We weren’t sure whether my waters had broken (they can break just a little bit, before the full on release) and I wasn’t in control of my body – a situation I’m not too good at handling! I had a chat to the lovely midwife on duty and we agreed I’d be moved through to the delivery room. This differed from the ward as it was a room with an en-suite and a 1:1 midwife, as opposed to the ward of 4 sharing a bathroom (which someone’s other half thought it was ok to use frequently – not ideal and not really allowed!).

Throughout my pregnancy I had been looked after by the high risk midwifery team and I had got to know them really well, but none of them were available that night. As I was wheeled through to the delivery ward, I heard the ante-natal midwife say that there was an ‘over-anxious patient’ and asking who would be allocated to me. On reflection, this was more than likely to ensure I had an understanding midwife who would put me at ease. At the time, however, it felt like I was being judged and criticised and that the team were being warned about me. I was heartbroken and felt very scared, as I wasn’t sure what to do with the fear that was building up. Having had a long stay in hospital and being operated on, I had a huge fear of the unknown and any medical intervention.

The first thing that the midwife said was that it was time to put a canular in. To say I have a phobia of these would be a massive understatement, but I knew it was a necessity. What I didn’t count on was the fact that I would need a very big one inserted ‘incase I ended up in theatre’. That, for me, was the most frightening prospect and one that I hadn’t worked through properly. My fear of this was, in fact, so great that when a role play of the c-section theatre was acted out at our NCT classes, I had to leave the room and was very shaken and upset at the prospect of having to consider this an option.  All I could do was hope that it didn’t come to that. At this point it was also decided that the contractions weren’t progressing and that it was time to use the hormone drip.

The next 12 hours are quite a blur. I know that my room was changed as they couldn’t run a warm bath in the first room I was allocated. I know that I did start having some gas and air at some point. I know that I had really wanted to move around to encourage the labour, but that for some reason I didn’t.
The next morning a new shift came on and I was encouraged to have a bath. That didn’t take much pursuading – I love a bath. It was absolute heaven and total relief from the pain of the contractions (I’m sure the gas and air was also helping, although it was making me feel totally out of it). I had originally wanted a water birth and I guess this was a nod to what that would be like and has definitely made me want one next time.

Eventually, after a lot of reheating, I had to get out the bath. The rest of the story is quite a blur for me, so I’ll do my best to share the bits I know. At some point I was put on a drip as there was a concern that I was becoming dehydrated. I was drinking as much as I could, but was being sick constantly. I had 2 anti-sickness injections, neither of which worked. I was put on anti-biotics for 24 hours, I still don’t actually know why. At one point a very lovely midwife came to cover a break and had access to aromatherapy oils. That helped massively as it was a little bit of normality and comfort in what was proving to be quite a crazy journey. My waters were broken after the bath.

For the next shift, my midwife was joined by a student midwife in her final year. She was my little guardian angel. She held my hand, spoke to me when I wasn’t in the middle of a contraction and generally offered a huge amount of support. She enabled my husband to go for a lunch break without worrying about me and was so positive and kind throughout, at no time making me feel like I wasn’t justified in the way I felt (pretty helpless, out of control and in a huge amount of pain).

This was all on Saturday. By 6pm I still hadn’t fully dilated so the hormone drip was increased. At this point I could no longer cope with the pain and went from being vehemently against an Epidural (with a phobia of cannulas the thought of having one in my spine was something I couldn’t even consider), to begging the midwife to let me have one. The anaesthetist who I had met earlier in the pregnancy came along, reassured me and inserted the line.

The next midwife came on duty shortly after this and after reading as many of my notes as she could (my maternity book was like a novel by the end of the pregnancy) she was the most compassionate and understanding midwife. I started her shift with an apology for the state of me and how emotional I was, she reassured me, told me I was incredibly strong and doing such an amazing job, and generally made me feel more confident and have a little bit of belief in myself, for the first time since the ‘anxious patient’ comment the night before.

At this point, I hadn’t eaten since Thursday and was unable to keep any fluids down, I was being violently sick every hour or so and hadn’t been able to move from the bed for a long time, especially since having had the epidural (and a catheter fitted, I forgot that bit!). Finally, at about 11pm, my midwife said that I was fully dilated. We had to stop the hormone drip, wait for an hour and then it would be time to push.

I was told to rest, sleep a bit if I could, the midwife went back to reading through my notes and hubby sat in the chair and got a little shut eye too.

Fifteen minutes later I was woken up by the midwife who was asking me to roll onto my side. I couldn’t do this due to the epidural, so she had to help me. The reason for this was that my baby’s heartbeat was no longer being picked up by the monitor. After what felt like a long time but in reality can only of been a matter of seconds, the emergency alarm was pressed and the medical team rushed in. This included doctors, nurses, midwives and a postnatal crash team. To say I was frightened doesn’t touch on how I was feeling. It felt like my worst nightmares were being realised. I had heard this alarm during my stay on the ante-natal ward and hadn’t been able to get it out my mind – now it was being pressed for me.

The team were phenomenal – my legs were put in stirrups, my notes had been read (I’d requested forceps not ventouse and the Doctor in charge knew that already) and an episiotomy was performed. I was told to push, the forceps were used and my baby girl was pulled into the world. Blue and puffy with a black eye from her brutal delivery.  And then she breathed. And then she screamed. It was the biggest relief I have ever felt in my life.

I had previously opted to have the injection immediately after the baby was born to speed up the delivery of the placenta. This was done, but I don’t remember it. I remember the Doctor doing my stitches and my husband taking our baby to put her nappy on and dress her. I remember begging for my canular to be removed. I remember feeling like I was going to die and the midwife saying she shouldn’t have taken my canular out yet. I remember being given a hot chocolate (and nothing to eat because there were no gluten free biscuits or toast) and thinking it tasted so good, then throwing it straight up again, and I remember needing to sleep.

My birth story breaks my heart. It wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want perfect, but I didn’t think it would be so scary, overwhelming, long and out of my control. I thought I’d be cuddling my baby afterwards and not handing her straight to my husband and then not remembering the next four hours. I knew it would hurt, I knew it would be a feat of endurance and pain tolerance, I just didn’t know how much.

Here’s hoping the next one is everything this one wasn’t!

I’m sharing this because I felt so wildly under-prepared for what a birth could entail. I would prefer to go into a situation like this knowing the possibilities (and not just the standard ones that we learn about at ante-natal class) so that if they happened to me, I wouldn’t be taken by surprise. I still believe that until you go through certain experiences in your life, no amount of reading or talking can prepare you for what you will face, but I also know that with an arsenal of knowledge and possibilities in your mind, the fear is less when the situation arises.

If you have any questions about any part of my birth story, want to know more about anything I’ve mentioned or just want a chat about your birth (one you’ve had or one you will have) feel free to get in touch.

Here’s the happy ending to the craziest year of my life:

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Prepping Ahead

Food and Drink

It is really important to me that Little V gets lots of fruit and vegetables in her diet.

Every couple of weeks, on a Sunday, I make up some ‘soffritto’ bags and freeze them, ready to use as a base for lots of her dinners.

They couldn’t be easier (and you can mix and match whichever vegetables you fancy!). I don’t always use peppers, but I had one in the fridge, so added that to my normal base this week.

Wash, peel and chop (according to what is required of each chosen vegetable!).

I used to chop them all a lot smaller than this, but the size of the chunks has grown with V : )

I’ll be uploading some recipe ideas for you soon – but just get these bagged up and in your freezer ready to use when you need a quick and easy base for dinner!

What is the deal with Peppa Pig?

Parenting

This morning I was super tired when Little V woke up, and decided we’d have a little snuggle in bed and watch a show. The first children’s programme I got to was Channel 5’s Milkshake and the show currently playing was Peppa Pig.

We’ve never watched it before but I’ve been aware of all the hype and even went to Peppa Pig world with friends and their littles a few years ago.

I cannot be on my own in absolutely hating what I saw!

Peppa was the rudest, naughtiest, least disciplined ‘child’ I have ever seen and her horrendous attitude was being copied by her brother George and then not corrected by their Mum.

Not only this, but the whole premise of the story was wrong, to me.

Peppa and George had been jumping in muddy puddles with their teddy and dinosaur respectively. When Mummy Pig saw how dirty the toys were, she declared that they were ‘under the weather’ and needed to go to the animal hospital. When there, Mrs Rabbit confirmed that they were indeed ‘poorly’. They weren’t. They were dirty. They needed a bath (or a spin in the washing machine) not a hospital!

I then couldn’t believe how rude Peppa was to Mrs Rabbit and that Mummy Pig allowed it!

We won’t be watching Peppa Pig again, I’m absolutely shocked at how naughty and rude they are and that the ‘adults’ don’t take an adult role and not only that, they encourage the idea that getting muddy and messy means you are poorly.

I cannot be the only person who thinks this is fundamentally wrong?

I’d love to hear some recommendations of children’s tv shows that are sweet and appropriate for a one year old, where the characters are well behaved and encouraged to be kind!

One disgruntled Mummy!

Let them be Little

Child's Play, Parenting

There’s been a huge hype in the news and online this week about the letter that has been sent home from a London school, requesting that the children do not dress up as footballers, pop starts or famous you tubers for their ‘My World of Work Day’ as these are ‘great ambitions, but so hard to achieve’. Instead they would like the children to ‘think of their Plan B options for future jobs’.

This has really set me thinking.

When I was at primary school, we didn’t have a My World of Work Day, but whenever we did projects / creative writing about what we’d like to be when we grow up, I would always say teacher. This evolved and grew as I went through secondary school and realised that my passion and skillset was in the arts and that I would like to teach dance and one day own my own school. Throughout primary school my train of thought was encouraged: role play of classrooms and pretending to be ‘Miss Jordan’ were recurrent themes in the playground and at home. Admittedly I never understood what you had to do to become teacher, but I was always helping my friends and loved nothing more than being around younger children and showing them how to do things (some call it bossiness, I call it leadership!).

When I was in secondary school, we were taken to the Careers Department, where the “Careers Advisor” would listen to what you wanted to do and tell you which university to apply to. The problem I had, is that you don’t need to go to university to become a qualified, respected and brilliant dance teacher. That doesn’t sound like a problem, does it? But trust me it is a huge problem when your school only takes notice of future careers that mean you attend the best Uni that you can get into. I found this narrow-mindendness as frustrating at the time as I am finding thinking about the school who has asked the children to come as their ‘Plan B’. I didn’t have a Plan B. Nor was the job I was aspiring to unattainable or in anyway not respectable. I had worked hard throughout my teens to qualify when I was only 18 as a dance teacher. I had started reading up on business models and their implantation and making business plans. None of this affected how hard I studied at school – but it was my dream and I was most certainly going to make it happen, with or without their support.

Talking of this Plan B, do children really see ‘Footballer’ as their Plan A and then devise a back up plan for if it doesn’t work? No. Not in my experience. Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up and they will give you one solid and confident answer. Often a highly bemusing one that you will remind them of repeatedly when they are older. In a world where schools are no longer making sports days competitive so as not to alienate the less sporty children, why is it OK to make children think of a Plan B career and then action it in their role play, as, implicitly, their Plan A will fail or be unattainable.

So why has this news lit a fire inside me that has made me want to share my opinion on it so much?

Who are we to stop children dreaming!

Soon enough they will go to secondary school and learn that they must match their job to their skill set. They will be encouraged to study subjects that are within their achievable academic reach, to apply for college places/apprenticeships/university places that are for every day jobs that we all have to do. There is a time and a place for this, granted, but I do not believe that it needs to start in primary school.

I love the idea that our children are learning about so many different job roles. I understand from my friends with school aged children that parents from all different fields of work go into schools and talk to the children about what they do. This is how we open our children’s eyes to the many roles that are out there and help them understand the paths that must be taken to reach the dizzying heights of grown-up employment. None of this was done when I was at school, and I naively entered year seven thinking everyone was a doctor, nurse, dentist, teacher, policeman, fireman, banker…. you get the gist.  Educating our children by introducing them to real-life people in a whole variety of roles is vitally important and will enable them to make a much more informed decision as they grow up, based on a more in depth understanding of the world around them.

However, does this mean that they shouldn’t be allowed to dress up as a footballer, pop-star or youtuber?

In my opinion, it does not.

Children are only young once and they say that youth is wasted on the young – so why are we trying to take this away? We should embrace their wonderful imaginations, allow them to dress up as whoever they aspire to be (a friend of mine told me today that her little boy dressed up as King Elizabeth for his equivalent day at school- the sky’s the limit when you’re 5!). We all know, from experience, that this doesn’t mean that they will all go on to be the next big football star, sign the biggest record deal of the century or make their millions from a youtube channel. But in the same vein, how many of the children who dress up as doctors, firemen and vets will go on to do those jobs. As adults we know that every career choice requires such a specialised skill set and uniquely achieved qualifications that only people who want to go into these areas of work will make it and I’m not just talking about the careers I’ve mentioned. Amongst my friends I can name a pathologist, risk manager, shipping lawyer, auditor, accountant, life coach, paediatrician, personal trainer and hedge fund manager. Did any of us even know these roles existed in primary school and would we really have dressed up as them when our imaginations were so free that we truly believed we could train to be the tooth fairy if that’s what our heart desired?

I say let them be little.

There’s plenty of time to grow up and take informed choices later.

 

 

 

One Pan Sticky Cod (for all the family)

Food and Drink

Shopping / Store Cupboard List

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2x Cod Fillets (skinned and boned, 1 per person)
  • 3x Carrots
  • Handful of Spring Onions
  • Pack of Tender Stem Broccoli
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp Runny Honey
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil

 

Preparation

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChop the cod into 1 inch squares
  • Peel and chop the carrots
  • Chop the Tender Stem Brocolli
  • Finely Chop the Spring Onions

 

 

 

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan on a high heat.
  2. Cook the cod and carrot on a high heat until the carrots begin to soften and the cod starts to colour. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Add a splash (tiny splash!) of water to the pan to ‘deglaze’ (stop everything sticking).
  4. Add the broccoli and cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the soy sauce, honey, spring onion and pepper.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the pan is sticky and the vegetables are caramelised a little.
  7. Serve with your choice of carb (or not, I find this quite filling on its own): rice, potato, sweet potato, whatever takes your fancy!

Notes

My daughter is just too young for this at the moment, as she can’t have honey until she is one, but I know she’ll love it when she can eat it as she’s a big vegetable fan!

This dish would also work with chicken, pork or salmon.

Don’t stir too much while you’re cooking, as the fish will flake and disappear!

 

Conquering the Nerves

entrepreneur, Lifestyle

One tiny step at a time.

It’s a funny juxtaposition, but even though I’m a dance teacher by training and have been running my own company for the last 8 years, I have always suffered from anxiety, mostly brought on by new social situations.

I realised when I had my little girl last year that I was going to have to do some serious work on this so that I didn’t let her know I felt this way and to make her as confident as possible (although never too forward or precocious!).

So I have been consciously ‘putting myself out there’. I have made an effort to go to mummy and baby groups, and actually talk to the mummies not just hide behind V as I would have been more comfortable doing. I have got out there for the first time in two years and pitched for new business and today I am off to a seminar in Islington!

That’s a pretty big deal for me; no daughter to give attention to if I feel uncomfortable, no hiding behind needing to leave for nap time and none of my friends will be there to buddy up with. Just me and a room full of people I’ve never met.

Must admit I’m pretty proud of myself, albeit utterly terrified at the same time!

So off I go! Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes later.

Victoria x

Sausage Risotto (for everyone)

Food and Drink

Shopping / Store Cupboard List

  • 2 x shallots
  • 1 cup arborio risotto rice
  • Large knob butter
  • 1 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 litre stock (I use Italian Brodo, but any stock works)
  • 5 sausages (either chopped up or whole, depending on how long you have!)
  • Dried chilli flakes (I use 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 courgette
  • 1 bag spinach
  • Parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper

Preparation

  • Chop the shallots
  • Rinse the rice
  • Make the stock
  • Prep the sausages (if you aren’t chopping them up, pierce holes in the skin)
  • Chop the courgette

Method

  1. If you have a risotto pan, use that, otherwise a large non-stick frying pan is ideal.
  2. Heat the pan on a medium heat and melt the butter.
  3. Add the shallots, chilli and rice and stir until softened.
  4. Add the sausage and gently heat until browned.
  5. Pour in the red wine (if using) and allow to bubble to cook off the alcohol.
  6. Add the courgette.
  7. Add the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it has been absorbed, then add another.
  8. Repeat until nearly all the stock is in.
  9. Season to taste.
  10. Put the spinach on top of the rice, pour over the last bit of stock and stir.
  11. Keep stirring until the spinach has wilted and the risotto is your preferred consistency.
  12. Put a couple of knobs of butter on top and grate over the parmesan.
  13. Serve quickly!

Notes

Prep Time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking Time: around 30 minutes

 

Sausage Risotto (for baby)

baby, Food and Drink

Shopping / Store Cupboard List

  • Handful of baby spinach leavesfullsizeoutput_9c1c
  • 1/4 cup arborio risotto rice
  • Small piece parmesan
  • Small knob butter
  • 1/4 courgette
  • 1 x sausage
  • 1/2 baby stock cube

 

Preparation

  • Wash and chop the spinachfullsizeoutput_9c1e
  • Rinse the rice
  • Grate some parmesan
  • Chop the courgette
  • Remove the sausage meat from the sausage
  • Make 300ml stock

 

Method

 

  1. Heat the butter over a medium heat until melted.
  2. Put the sausage meat and rice into the pan and allow the meat to brown.
  3. Add in the courgette and spinach.
  4. Gradually add in the stock, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it has been absorbed by the rice.
  5. Don’t take your eyes off the risotto (if you can help it!): every time the stock is nearly gone, add more and repeat.
  6. Allow the risotto to bubble away as it cooks.
  7. When you add the last bit of stock, add the parmesan and stir it through.

Notes

I find these quantities are perfect for two baby sized meals (my little one is 11 months).

The spoon we are using is a proper risotto spoon! It has a hole in it to further enable the ‘agitating’ of the starch in the rice. But mostly it’s a pretty heart spoon so what’s not to love!

Verdict: Success!

 

Maternity Leave is Over

Parenting

To the Daddy of my children,

The main man in my life,

The one who’s always there for me,

From the girly who’s your wife.

 

We’ve been on quite a journey

And the last year’s been a blast.

But now I’m heading back to work,

I knew maternity leave couldn’t last.

 

From growing our tiny human,

To bringing her into the world,

Nurturing her and feeding her

And keeping her warm in the cold.

 

I’ve been there for every little step,

Each smile and laugh and cry,

I’ve watched her play and learn so much,

I don’t want to say goodbye.

 

I’m the one who’s always fed her,

The one who’s always changed her bum,

I’ve got to know her little ways,

I am her one and only Mum.

 

I guess it’s a funny feeling

To think someone else will do it all,

Even though I know deep in my heart

They’ll all have such a ball.

 

I know it’s only for the day,

That she’ll be in amazing hands,

But she’s my tiny baby girl

And I wish I could change my plans.

 

I guess I’m ready to go back to my job,

At which I’m rather good.

To drink hot coffee, wear clean clothes

And take time over my food!

 

But, listen up, cos here’s my say,

(I know you care so much);

Walking away from our daughter

Will be seriously tough.

 

So instead of telling me

It’s for the best you know!

Just let me shed a little tear,

Before I have to go.

 

Then give me a hug and a little shake

And send me on my way.

Tell me that she’ll miss me,

But that she can’t wait to play.

 

 

Written by Victoria Sbraga 2018