Tuesday, 11 April 2017

37 weeks pregnant: Life lately

I've lost my marbles! I've lost track of which week I'm writing about - so I'm just going to bang on about what's been going on and what we've been up to lately - nothing to do with pregnancy really as I don't have much to report aside from having been signed off by the consultant - hurrah! I turn 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow, I've got my midwife in the morning, and feel hyper aware that I am entering the drop zone!!! And the house isn't ready!

Swimming, lunch & park fun in Tenderden

I joined the boys for a swim and we had a hoot. We then went to Prezzo for lunch but Joseph seemed to be a bit tired and silly after swimming so he didn't eat much, but found energy at the park afterwards. It was such a nice day - all three of us + bump - and the sun was shining.


A week after our fun in the park, we went to Legoland. I didn't realise at the time of booking that it was half-bloody-term, and the dates weren't changeable, so I was pretty annoyed with myself as, obviously, we're not restricted by term times due to Joseph's age. I'd have been more upset if I'd paid full price - as Joseph isn't three, he didn't need a ticket and I had collected coupons from The Times newspapers to get two adult tickets for £10 + £1.50 booking fee. I booked a local guest house for the night before for £60 and bought us sandwiches and snacks from Tesco in the morning so we didn't spend much in the park itself aside from essentials like ice creams and coffees.... oh and a pirate hat, sword and shield for Joseph! So all in all it wasn't too expensive, and I think it'll be a day that Joseph will remember. He told me that he'd told his nursery pals about Legoland, and he's freakily aware of the Lego logo on things now. As am I. Who knew they did so many collabs.

The day itself was lovely - the sun was shining again - and it felt really special to be spending time as a family of three. Despite the carpark being rammed by 10am, the park itself must be huge because once we got past the entrance area it wasn't crowded at all. Joseph was keen to go to the Star Wars exhibit though he got scared almost immediately and wanted to get out.... then go back in again. He then had a little play in a play park with Ruari before going on our first ride. I actually found the ride a bit fast - I usually love rides - and was slightly concerned it could induce labour! After gathering ourselves (Joseph seemed a bit stunned too), we wandered around a bit more and Joseph went sifting for gold whilst I had a sit down and ate my sandwich. (Writing this has made me realise just how much Joseph played with Ruari whilst I sat down in various areas!) We actually only made it onto three rides (the submarine being the best), but the day went so quickly and it was 5pm (closing time) before we knew it. We had dinner at Cobham services as there was traffic on the M25, plus it was tea time. We got Joseph ready for bed there, expecting him to go to sleep, but he stayed awake the whole way home and I think it was gone 9pm by the time he crashed out.

Easter egg hunt

Joseph was supposed to go to nursery on the Friday, but two of his pals were visiting Kent for a couple of days on their Easter breaks so we went to see them in the afternoon after a slow morning together and a 'magic bath' (I chopped an Intergalactic Lush bath bomb in half and shared it with him.... that is true love!) Ruari's mum did an Easter Egg hunt for them all, and Joseph ate his body weight in sweets, cake and chocolate as I didn't realise the kids had ALL THE SNACKS in a little den they had made! I'll add some photos from the day as I took a few on my DSLR but haven't got round to editing them. On the 'magic bath' note; I'm planning to point Lush out to Joseph when we're in town next time so that he can start asking Ruari to go in there when they go to town together (= bath bombs for me) mwahaha!

Preparing myself, resting and nesting

The past couple of weeks have gone so quickly. Last week I spent the majority of my 'me time' getting my hair sorted out whilst I still had the chance, however it threw me way off my blogging course. I was happy to keep my roots and get the blonde bits mega whitened and toned to grey, but the stylist wanted the transition from root to grey to be a little more subtle so she hand-brushed some bleach on the dark part of my hair. After four hours in the salon, the colour hadn't lifted enough and the stylist wasn't happy (nor was I to be honest) so she asked me to come back in the next day for a re-do. Luckily Ruari's mum was able to keep Joseph overnight and I returned in the morning thinking it'd be a couple of hours, max, but I ended up spending six more hours there! The dark part lifted further, but none of my hair took the bleach enough to lift to a white enough base to take they grey toner - and now after subsequent washes - it's just blonde. I'm glad to have had it done though as I now know for sure that grey just ain't ever going to happen for me until nature takes its course so I can put that dream to bed!

I also bought a new pair of specs as I suspected my brown specs would clash with my hair colour and it turned out to be good timing as a couple of days after I'd ordered them, Joseph trod on and broke my current pair... it was my fault for leaving them on the bathroom floor whilst I had a shower though.

I spent the hottest day of the year so far (Sunday) cleaning and doing laundry. Yesterday I bought some more bits and bobs for Joseph and the baby (a Buzz Lightyear onesie is essential to match Joseph's jammies), muslins and a couple of Little Bird body suits that were in the sale. Today, Joseph's been with his Granny whilst I have been sorting through the spare room downstairs. I've cleared it all out and cleaned it - all ready for baby to either sleep in there with me or just nap there during the day time (please be a napper!!)

Oh! Joseph now sleeps in a proper single bed; we had to take his book shelves down to fit it in the space where his cot bed used to be, but I'll take some pics and add them on here once we've got it all nice again. His old cot bed is now in our room - and I ended up buying a Sleepyhead pod after hearing so much good stuff about it. We have a travel cot as well which I'm going to set up in the room downstairs so if he does end up sleeping in there I'll put him in the Sleepyhead in the travel cot. The trouble with living in a converted bungalow is that we have two upstairs bedrooms and one downstairs one (and still only one bathroom/loo which is downstairs) so it's a bit of a logistical nightmare. Where we'll end up actually sleeping, I don't know.

So that's about it really. I'm not sure when I'll get to blog again seeing as it's bank holiday, thus no nursery, plus Ruari doesn't have his usual day off this week as they're a man down at his work but I will do my best to keep this regular as I seem to get really frustrated when I don't get around to posting.

Hope you're all well; anyone else entering the drop zone this week?!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Review: Green Toys Ferry Boat

Joseph loves bath toys. The more toys the better. He also loves having a bath with me - in fact sometimes the only way I can get him to have a bath, if it's been a couple of days and he's a bit stinky - is to tell him that I'll get in with him. Not gonna lie; with a 36 week old baby bump in tow, it's getting pretty crowded in the tub and I'm always at the tap end. I suppose the tap end has its pros as I can keep my end of the bath a bit hotter than Joseph end, using my body as a dam! Ha!

Our latest bath time addition is the ferry boat by Green Toys which we were kindly sent to review by Bigjigs toys. Joseph's been playing with it every bath time for the last week now and it has become a staple, sometimes coming up to bed afterwards too, which means it's pretty special in Joseph's books. 

The boat itself feels sturdy and well made - it comes with two cars and a ramp that can be pulled down. It feels lighter than other plastic toys; perhaps because it's obviously a boat that's designed to float, but perhaps because all Green Toys are made from recycled milk bottles rather than whatever else it is that other plastic toys are made from. It does make me wonder why all plastic toys can't be made from recycled plastics if it's possible. (Same with flushable wet wipes; why aren't they all flushable, and presumable biodegradable, if they can be made to be?)

The Ferry Boat is suitable for children aged 3+ but, even though Joseph isn't quite three, I'm more than comfortable for him to be playing with it and would have been happy for him to have it at the younger end of two as well.

Joseph loves that it floats and can carry not only the two cars it came with, but lots of his other toys too. He enjoys making it sink, too!

The packaging is cardboard and recyclable, with a couple of factoids on the side.... Every pound of plastic used to make Green Toys saves the same amount of energy as it takes to run a laptop for a month, or a TV for 3 weeks.

Overall, Joseph really enjoys playing with the ferry boat - he loves the novelty of the fact it floats and he also likes the two cars it came with. I also think he'll enjoy it for a while to come. 

It is available to buy from the Bigjigs website for £21.99 which, honestly, I think is a bit expensive, but I have come to expect to pay a little more for anything eco, frustratingly.

Do you own any toys by Green Toys? Would you consider buying the Ferry Boat for your little one?

This was not a sponsored post, but we were kindly sent the Green Toys Ferry Boat to review as part of the Big Jigs Toys Play Patrol. Thank you to Big Jigs and Green Toys!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

36 weeks pregnant: Preparing for a hypnobirth

This week I finished listening to the Hypnobirthing home study audiobook I'd downloaded from Audible; which, despite the incredibly grating voice of the narrator, was really informative.

As with any Audible audiobook, it's a bit annoying that you can't see chapter details, literally just the chapter numbers, so it's hard to know what to expect to listen to next, or skip to bits that you particularly want to listen to - but I downloaded a free sample and mp3 from the respective website (Hypnobirthing Hub) and found the chapter outline. With some Audible books it says that any accompanying resources - e.g. worksheets - for the books you buy can be found somewhere or other, but I've yet to locate them!

The units are broken out into:

Body - Talking about how other mammals birth, how birth became something to fear, and how hypnobirthing came around and how to prepare your body for birth.

Mind - Explaining how Hypnobirthing works and how the mind (and body) works together, including info about  the law of attraction and motivation, the power of self talk, and speaking and thinking positively.

Tools - Explaining breathing techniques for during and in between surges and relaxation techniques and visualisations. Again, found this bit quite hard without visuals.

Knowledge - Going through the physiology of birth, the stages of birth, hormones (hypnobirthing seems to be all about the Oxytocin and avoiding Adrenaline as much as poss), info about pain relief and interventions.

Practice - Tracks for visualisation / guided meditation during the different stages of labour. It's quite funny because the narrator's voice is semi-soothing for the meditations themselves, but they're then bookmarked by her saying the title of the next one in her more harsh voice - so it kind of gets you abruptly out of the zone (if you've managed to actually stay awake).

I've found the Hypnobirthing Hub to have quite a few useful resources, including an editable birth plan, which I started editing but found it was a little bit too much. I am not a brilliant planner, of anything, and I'm a little bit reluctant to start planning in so much detail something that I'm going to have such little control over. All I can do is have control over my state of mind and try to compose myself if things go off chart. I think I did pretty well last time round to stay calm, despite not having done any formal preparation, as I didn't have the water birth I wanted and ended up being induced with the pessary and a drip and having narcotics which, after a bit of a cry, was ok. In hindsight  - I know I mentioned this last week - wasn't at all ideal, but I really hadn't informed myself on pain medication or inductions (all I knew is that I definitely didn't want an epidural and I wanted as little pain relief as possible.) I didn't know about Pethidine until the morning when I was handed a leaflet on pain relief and even still just dismissed it as something I wouldn't want. But when the midwife said that things weren't progressing after all day of various inductions and that I'd be in for the long haul, she said that Pethidine would allow me to relax and get some sleep. But it just sped things up. I don't want to feel drunk for this birth, or hungover the next day, so I really hope I'll just be able to avoid pain relief. And I'll always wonder why breastfeeding didn't work out, and part of me thinks that the Pethidine and anti-biotics combo could have been a factor. And due to me being whacked out, I don't know how long it was until I was given Joseph to hold. I think it was within the hour but I don't think it was immediate.

Anyway, due to the lack of visuals on the audiobook, I also looked at The Calm Birth School website and found the free videos quite helpful, and the information wasn't contradictory to what I'd learnt via the audiobook - so a nice little accompaniment.

So the main thing I want to do for the next four or so weeks is practice the breathing techniques and listen to the visualisations / meditations. And perhaps re-listen to the audiobook in its entirety. It's 11 hours long, but I spend so much time in my car that I can get through that in around two weeks.

Oh, I had my scan, as requested by the consultant, and baby seems fine, measuring at 5lb 10 which is 4oz less than Joseph's birth weight, so we're expecting a bigger baby this time... possibly 8lb 2 according to my chart. The sonographer was slightly concerned by a large cyst I have on my ovary but it's fluid filled, rather than looking sinister, so they weren't too worried and it's just something to mention to the consultant in my follow up next week - in which I'm hoping I'll be discharged from her care as I don't think consultant-led births can take place in the midwife led birthing unit.
I stated a few birth preferences in my appointment with the community midwife; water birth, avoiding intervention and pain relief unless it's unsafe, immediate skin to skin, delaying cord clamping and natural delivery of the placenta. I said about not cutting the cord until the pulsing had stopped, which she was ok with, but she said that the midwife on the day may not be ok with it and that there's some research to suggest that delaying it gives the baby too much stuff. I think I will ask for a midwife that's most comfortable with Hypnobirthing practices, but I'm not sure how lucky I'll be on the day.

Just a short one today as Joseph is currently flipping out over the fact I am using my computer and it's not being used for him to watch a Pixar film. [See my last blog post!!]

P.S. In the name of TMI and lolz... the main bane of my life this week has been the combination of hayfever (loads of coughing rather than sneezing actually) and a weak bladder. You can imagine the outcome. Not cool!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Five things I love about being alone

Open. (Bear with me)...

1. I can watch whatever I like on TV. On Monday it was this TED talk play list 'for when you're expecting a child'. Joseph would never let me watch that without throwing a fit.

2. I can use my computer. Joseph seems pretty convinced that my computer belongs to him, and if it's out it means he gets to dictate what's on the screen. Usually Paw Patrol. It's no accident that my blog's resuscitation has coincided with my having more time alone and having not spent a full day at work in front of a computer. Hopefully I'll manage to keep it up when baby arrives, and beyond, and it's felt good to get some thoughts written down.

3. I can eat whatever I like. This can be bad. Like yesterday, I ate the last slice of brownie I'd made along with 3 helpings of ice cream. Umm. But, I mean, I don't have to sneakily eat biscuits and pretend that they're carrot sticks, giving myself heartburn in the process. Or, worse, ration myself to one.

4. I can go out whenever I want, wherever I want. Ok so yesterday I only went to Mothercare, the Post Office and the doctors surgery (to pick up my saviour, Gaviscon) but I didn't have to worry about anyone falling asleep in the car and being stuck in a car park anywhere. The world was my oyster for a day.... and I chose to potter about within a five mile radius of home. Wild.

5. I notice little things. Like did you know that Dandelions and Daisies close up at night? Neither did I. (I actually need to thank Joseph for pointing that out to me as he asked where his yellow flowers had gone, when we'd seen them open the day before). Lo and behold, after some Googling, I learnt that they do indeed close up at night or when it's a bit of a shite day. Also, did you know that the Morrison's carpark in Canterbury is filled with blossom trees? Well, trust me, it is.


6. I miss Joseph. I've mentioned this a few times recently, but his tantrums really affect me. They leave me me feeling totally depleted and all I want to do is sleep. So when he's away for the day, at nursery or with Granny, it gives me time to recharge and face the bed time battle. 

This probably makes me sound like an awful mother. But I've always been someone who likes time alone, even before Joseph came along. With my thoughts (though they can sometimes be unhelpful) and in my own little world. I am grateful to already be on maternity leave, to have some time to just 'be' and prepare for the time that's to come. I know this won't last forever seeing as I'm four weeks away from popping, but I hope I'll still be able to find some me-time, or learn to find some inner peace and outer calm despite having my hands full.

How do you spend your alone time? Do you even get any? Are those that never get respite hating on me right now?! x

See? Closed.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Things I need to buy for my second baby

Up until Friday night, all I'd bought for the new baby was two types of cloud blanket (because, clouds) and a novelty seasonal (but not of this season) onesie. My work friends all clubbed together to get loads of lotions and potions, but the one I'm most looking forward to trying is the Kokoso coconut oil as I've heard so much about it. A couple of other friends bought cute watermelon bits too because, well, watermelons. (And don't anybody tell me that watermelon print is for girls and skeleton print is for Halloween-time only!) I've since been on a small spending spree but still have a few more bits to buy.

I don't need a great deal for the second baby but, as I was making a list anyway, I thought I'd share on here too.

For baby:

  • A small present for Joseph. Is giving older siblings a gift from the new baby a thing? Ruari's mum said that Ruari brought his older brother a small gift upon arrival, and it seems like a sweet idea. So I'm thinking a cuddly dinosaur, perhaps like this Jellycat one.
  • A changing mat. Is it me or are nice (yet cheap) ones quite hard to find. I refuse to pay more than a tenner. It's probably going to be a dull one from Mothercare.
  • Wet wipes. I'm trying Water Wipes this time and the best price per wipe I found was on Asda (but they were sold out) but then I found an equally good offer on Amazon. I paid £16 for nine packs (540 wipes @ 0.29p). Weirdly, the larger pack wasn't quite as good value at 0.33p per wipe. You get a discount if you subscribe to regular purchases too, but I'm not sure how often I'll need them yet so I might do that next time.
    I didn't religiously use Water Wipes for Joseph as they're so much more expensive, but I think I will for baby number 2 whilst it's tiny as I just really don't like the thought of using harsh chemicals on babbit.
  • Nappies. I just bought 2 big boxes of  96 size 1 Pampers from Tesco for £18. Joseph's bum seemed to get rashy with anything but Pampers, so I'm just going with what I know again. Part of me hates the thought of all of that nappy waste going to landfill, but I know at least for the beginning I am not going to want to faff around with reusables. Bambino Mio were kind enough to send me a starter kit when Joseph was around nine months old, but I was in the midst of PND, and it was just too much for my brain to handle, let alone blog about, so after a few stressful, leaky and rashy attempts I gave them to a friend who has put them to brilliant use with her baby.
  • Bottles. Whilst I am going to give breastfeeding a darn good go, after last time, I'm not against bottle feeding. I found Tommee Tippee 'Closer to Nature' bottles worked well with Joseph so I'm going to go with those again. I'm tempted to go for this pack of novelty blue bee designed ones from Argos for a tiny bit of fun... and they're half price at £16 for six 260ml. Or I could just get plain bottles and save myself a fiver. How much do I want those cute bees? Hmm.
    To bee or not to bee?
  • A Sleepyhead baby nest. I'm still not sure whether to buy one or not. The plan is for the baby to sleep in Joseph's cot bed, after an initial period with me, if he's anything like Joseph was, but the nest would allow him to be a little more cosy rather than being in that big ol' bed from the off. Joseph actually slept in his pushchair's carry cot for the first few months, but I have a feeling it's going to be a bit old and yuck now so I want something fresh... but probably not a moses basket as I know they don't last for long... but neither do Sleepyheads. Ohhh, I don't knowww!!
  • A bath thermometer. Our last Phillips one died the death - not sure why - but was good whilst it lasted so I plan to re-buy.
  • A bouncy chair. I didn't really like our old one, plus I don't know where it is, so I think I want to get a new one. I don't know which yet though. Any recommendations?
  • A baby monitor. We didn't need one with Joseph as our house was a bungalow at the time and could hear everything anyway, but now we're in a house we're thinking of re-buying something similar to the one we bought for Ruari's parents' house which was the Motorola MBP36. It has now been discontinued but we've been really happy with so whatever the next best thing is will probably be what we end up with.
  • Black out blinds. We were really happy with the blind we used last time around from Easyblinds; they just stuck onto the window frame with velcro strips. As this baby will be going into a different room, we had to get a new blind. The window is quite a lot bigger so we weren't sure we'd find a blind as easily, but luckily Easyblinds had released some new sizes so we're going to trim the XXL down a bit. Hopefully it'll work just as well as before, though an issue we're having at the mo is that we think that for the beginning stage baby will sleep in with us and there ain't no blind big enough for the amount of light we have in our bedroom so we don't know if that means we'll struggle to get him to go to sleep. We've bought the blind for the downstairs bedroom (a.k.a. my nest, which isn't looking pretty or cosy at all at the mo), where it will probably take its naps and perhaps I'll sleep with him there at night... but then his cot will be upstairs and we've only got a single bed in there, so, gahh! I don't knowwww!! [As you may be able to tell, sleeping arrangements are my biggest headache currently.]

 For Joseph:

  • A new bed. As baby is going to have Joseph's cot bed, I've ordered the Darlington single bed from Mothercare, which was only £70. Along with a mattress, duvet and pillow (mattresses are so pricey). I now just need to find some inoffensive (and ideally inexpensive) bedding but as he's in a single bed now this should be much easier to find. I'd have loved to get this beautiful canopy bed for Joseph, but firstly, it's £230 pounds, secondly it has bad reviews, ok one, the main complaint being that it's just a bunch of timber beams and doesn't come with instructions, plus it doesn't have support slats (i.e. the mattress just goes on the floor) and, thirdly, I had horrible vision of finding him or his brother hanging from it somehow. But all that aside, it's so nice though!!! (And not too late for me to return the boring bed Darlington, so I may still get it!) 
  • A Buggyboard. I've ordered the Buggyboard Maxi as it's compatible with Joseph's old pushchair that we're digging out from the depths. Joseph's at the age now (three in April) where we go out a lot without the buggy as he walks more, but he does get lazy and wants to be carried sometimes. I think the Buggyboard will be fun for him, and if he gets super tired then he could always go in the buggy and I could carry the baby in one of my slings - either my Tula or one of my Solly Baby wraps.

For me:

  • Nipple cream. Give me all the nipple cream. Namely Lansinoh HPA... Amazon was the cheapest I found. I found breastfeeding so hard last time around but I'm still determined to give it another go.
  • Nipple shields. I'm not going to worry about nipple confusion and just buy the best ones out there. I don't know what the best ones out there are yet, but if I find out I'll let you know.
  • Maternity pads. I remember the weird period-like blood that lasted a few days after birth. And my friends who had cesarians said they experienced it too, so is a bit of a must-have.
  • Breast pads. Because, y'know, leaky boobs. 

Aside from all that, I think we're all set as baby will just wear hand-me-down clothes and play with Joseph's old newborn toys. If I find the bouncy chair then perhaps I'll re-use it, but I don't remember Joseph being a particular fan of it, and I'm pretty sure my rabbit gnawed a hole in it at one point!

Have I missed anything? x


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

35 weeks pregnant: Time for myself

I'm pleased (and relieved) to report that I've had a few perky days in the last week or so, and I'm putting that down mostly to the fact that I've had three days pretty much to myself where Joseph's been at nursery or at his Granny's. I've been struggling to cope with his tantrums recently, and they have a real affect on my mood. If they're in the evening before bed then I'm often too emotionally drained to do anything. They're nothing new - they've been going on for the last year or so - but I think pregnancy has heightened their affect on me and my ability to be patient. Having the luxury of being on maternity leave and Joseph in childcare for a few days a week has really allowed my brain to have a bit of space, and it really was feeling cluttered. 

Here's what I've been up to...

I've been taking more photos on my 'proper' camera; though I've not got the hang of how on earth to edit them on my Mac - so instead I just have a million massive photos (in terms of file size) that I intend to use for blog posts eventually that are just sitting on my memory card. I've downloaded the free trial of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, but I'm pretty overwhelmed by it all and need to dedicate my next slice of me-time to that. Managing photos is probably the biggest stress I have regarding being 'creative', aside from the part where I don't feel in any way creative at all but it seems to be what I want to be. Most days I go back to thinking 'why am I even bothering' - with writing and photographing. And I debate deleting my Instagram and Twitter accounts completely and going back to not writing at all as it feels like too much. But then there's that feeling of accomplishment that comes from finally having written a post, even if it is just a brain dump for me and not of interest to anyone else... Although I do eventually want to be able to write with confidence things that other people might want to actually read. And that's what has kept me going... albeit sporadically so far.

An iPhone photo; the ones I took on my DSLR are yet to be edited.

I went to see Beauty and the Beast with two of my friends from work on Sunday. I cried. Though I think my tears were because Joseph had been so well behaved all day so I was feeling particularly love-y, and then Chip strangely reminded me a bit of Joseph. So when him and his mum turned into a normal teapot and cup, before the spell had been lifted, it broke my heart a little bit. See what I mean about pregnancy hormones just being completely batshit?

I went to the dentist for the first time in over two years. I found a dentist who was actually taking on NHS patients and I got an appointment the next day. I had a check up and a scale + polish FOR FREE because of my maternity exemption card. It slightly made up for the fact I had to pay for a root canal privately during my last maternity leave. It was painful in more ways than one, and clearly I'm still bitter.

I've been listening to a hypnobirthing home study audiobook for the last few days. I don't know why, but I'd been putting off birth preparation. It's a bit like my brain couldn't handle it. Though now I'm feeling like I've left it too late. All I've wanted was a water birth with gas and air if need be. I've always imagined it being in a hospital too, rather than at home. I didn't go to NCT classes or anything similar whilst pregnant with Joseph so I didn't do anything this time round either, as I figured I've done it before. I did go to about number of 'breathe, stretch and relax' classes whilst pregnant with Joseph and, at the time, I wasn't sure if I was getting anything out of them - but having not done any sort of stretching or exercise this time around and feeling remarkably more achey than I remember being with Joseph, I now think that maybe they did do something and that now for having not done them I'll have an awful birth. 
One of the things that the hypnobirthing course has said to do is write down all your fears about birth, so I'm going to do that tonight. Right now I can't help but feel I've set myself for a bad experience, but I really don't want that to be a self fulfilling prophecy. Joseph's birth, whilst not ideal (induced, labour ward, whacked out on Pethidine- you can read the birth story here), was manageable pain-wise, so I have another fear of this one having to be extra horrific to make up for the 'ok' one last time. As I'm writing this, I'm realising I have quite a few birth fears, but most are related to me being unprepared and labelling myself an idiot for being unprepared. [Though I have just googled whether it's too late, and a hypnobirthing forum has said that it's not and that it's actually a good time as it's close enough to the birth that motivation to practise will be high.]

I've been drawing from a kids book. This probably deserves its own post in fact. Now, I can't draw for shit but this has been so much fun to copy from. It was only £5 from The Book People who came to my work on my last day before maternity leave and I've since bought the dinosaur one too. I've tried mindful colouring in the past but couldn't help but feel that nagging feeling of it being a waste of time, whereas with this I feel mindful, in that I'm focussed on what I'm doing, and I feel like I'm learning skills that will score me some mum points with Joseph... and his brother, eventually.

I've also been cleaning. A lot. Not even a deep clean, but it feels like I spend a lot of time cleaning just to keep the house at a base level of clean. Ruari has mentioned getting a cleaner, but maternity finances really aren't brilliant and I feel like they'd need to be in every day to keep on top of it all!
Speaking of maternity finances. I had some good news yesterday as my workplace announced a change to their maternity benefits. Rather than statutory maternity pay, mothers and adoptive mothers will now get 8 weeks at full pay followed by 18 weeks at half pay; then the remaining 13 weeks will be statutory allowance. I'm yet to find out what I'll actually receive and what I'll still have to still pay; tax, national insurance, pension contributions, student loan; and I'll still be paying for childcare vouchers etc, but I *think* it should work out a bit better. Certainly for the first 8 weeks at least, and it means I should be able to pay towards the mortgage and bills. I'm also happy about it as I usually miss out on things like that; at my last workplace I hadn't been there long enough to get enhanced maternity pay, and where Joseph has an April birthday he just misses out on the cut off for the funded childcare hours so we have to wait 'til September for those. So it feels like a win.

I boiled an egg. I'd written myself off as someone who can't even boil and egg last week after two failed attempts (one cracked and the other only half boiled where I'd not put in enough water), but third time was a success. I put my inability partly down to the fact I never usually eat eggs, but I guess I've been craving them a little bit lately. 

So that has basically been my week. I am having a scan on Friday, as ordered by my consultant, but all being well I'm hoping to go back to normal care and enjoying being low risk this time around. 

(This blog post was sponsored by Joseph actually having a nap in the house rather than in the car. I love it when that happens; it's seriously rare!)

Hope you're having a good week x

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Potty training: Part 1

When we found out we were expecting another baby, something we knew we wanted to do was ensure that Joseph was potty trained. We didn't want to be changing two sets of nappies, plus we knew Joseph would be three by the time the new arrival, er, arrived, which seemed like a good age to have him trained by.

I came across a 'potty training sounds book' when doing a supermarket shop one day and showed it to Joseph a few weeks before we started training as a bit of a primer for what was ahead. I can't find the exact book, but I've heard that the Pirate Pete Potty Training one is good too.

I'd done some Googling and forum-reading and got it in my head that it would be a good idea to spend three whole days at home with Joseph to break the back of potty training; so I booked a week off work in November with the main aim to have him out of nappies by the end of it. He was 2 years and 7 months old at that point. 

He did his usual Monday in nursery allowing me to have a day to potter around sans child mentally prepare myself for, potentially, a literal shit storm.

Ruari and I told him on Monday night and on Tuesday morning that he wouldn't be wearing a nappy anymore and that he was going to be a big boy and use the potty, which he seemed pretty on board with.

Day #1:

Armed only with a potty and a packet of dinosaur stickers that I'd bought him, not specifically for potty training, we began. After some initial reluctance from him to actually take his bottoms off, he eventually let me take them off after I'd made him some jam on toast, which he proceeded to eat whilst sitting on the potty and watching his beloved Paw Patrol. No wee though.

Jimbo giving it a go too. Who remembers Jimbo?!

I'd read that it was a good idea to let them be bottomless for all of the first day (and in some places I'd read to let them be bottomless for the whole three days). And so I let him be free. And so began the peeing on everything. By the end of the day my house stunk of pee as he'd only managed to pee in the potty twice out of about ten (maybe more) times throughout the day. The pees (and the poo) that were on the potty were born from luck as I was trying to watch his facial expressions for any signs of needing to go. His poo face was the most obvious, and straight after eating, so I encouraged him to sit on the potty. He wanted to get off but, with some gentle persuasion to concentrate, within a couple of minutes he had done a big poo and was really proud of himself. He took it to the loo himself to be flushed away.

Choosing his reward!

We put a nappy on him again after his evening bath and after he went to bed I was pretty certain I'd started too soon. In hindsight, he wasn't showing any of the 'signs of readiness' and some of my friends online had said they started once their kids were three years old, plus. I was ready to give up after one day, but Ruari told me to keep trying. In my desperation I ordered an e-book about potty training in three days from an American website. It was $40 but came with a refund guarantee if it didn't work out. I instantly regretted buying it as it didn't actually tell me anything I hadn't already read on forums and other sites so I got a refund shortly afterwards, hassle-free, thankfully.

Day #2:

On day two, Joseph wore 'big boy pants' rather than going bottomless. He was quite amused by the various emergency vehicles that were on each pair, which I'd bought for £6 from Sainsbury's for a pack of ten [similar here]. Though I didn't find any surprise wet-patches on my sofa on day two, he did wet almost every single pair and liked the idea of getting 'fresh' pair each time he wet them. He managed a few more pees in his potty compared with the day before and luckily I caught his poo face again - but overall I didn't feel hugely encouraged. After he went to bed I treated myself to a night out to Asda in order to buy more pairs of pants, but I was prepared to go back to nappies if the next day didn't go well.

We watched Despicable Me around 6,789 times in the space of three days.

Day #3:

Day three was much more successful, as I began using edible bribes rather than using the TV ("you can have another Paw Patrol if you sit on the potty"). Raisins for wees and a rich tea biscuit for a poo. I mean, yeah, he was as high as a kite, but so was I as it seemed like we'd made a break through. I'd read that eventually they'd forget about the bribes so not to worry about having to keep it up forever - and I can vouch that that is true, though he does occasionally ask for a reward, four months later. I try to keep my 'poo biscuit' stash topped up, but more for me than him. I think he only had a few accidents that day - the ratio had been flipped - and we even (nervously) left the house without an accident, albeit it wasn't for very long.

At the park, where he was a knight. Being at home for three days solid made us up our imaginative play game.


Joseph had nursery on the Friday and I wrote an essay for his key worker to say what we'd been doing and how he was getting on. She said she'd play it by ear and if he was having loads of accidents then she'd put him in a nappy. When it came time to collect him, I was expecting him to be in a nappy but he wasn't. His key worker was really impressed - he had a couple but not enough to warrant giving up - and she said he'd done better than some of the kids that had been training for longer.

We went about our weekend as normal - asking him if he needed to go periodically. I'd lined his car seat with a tea towel and plastic bag in case of any accidents, but miraculously he didn't have any.

I couldn't believe the turnaround in the space of such a short time. By the Monday he was asking the staff at nursery to go for a wee rather than waiting to be prompted and on Wednesday (my day off) we went to soft play without any accidents.

I'd been taking his potty around with us when we went out, and at soft play I saw a lady who had a My Carry Potty for her granddaughter with her which I thought was just awesome as it was novelty and more discreet so I ordered one that day (bee design), though in hindsight it was a waste of money (and not even cheap at £25). Joseph used it for a very short while instead of his other potty but would sometimes refuse to use it whilst we were out even though he needed to go... which led to an accident right outside the M&S toilets.

We went to Paris for my birthday less than a month after Joseph's initial training and, to my surprise, he didn't have a single accident for the three days we were there. We brought the My Carry Potty with us, but for the vast majority of the time we just sat him on the actual toilet when he'd tell us he needed to wee, mainly because all the of toilet cubicles we went to were tiny and barely had room for one person, so he actually only used it when we were at the hotel. That was the last time we used it so, for us, it just wasn't worth the investment.

When we got back from Paris, Joseph used a mixture of his old potty, the actual toilet, and a training seat a bit like this one, though his isn't as cool and wasn't in a set. Early into the new year, Joseph started being able to take himself to the toilet; i.e. he got into the habit of going to the bathroom when he needed to loo so would move the foot stool to the base of the loo and put the training seat on the toilet himself, rather than us getting the potty for him and bringing it to him.

He went through a phase in late January/ early February where it seemed that he'd have a wee accident around once a week, in various circumstances, but usually either where he'd fallen asleep and wet himself or was so busy playing (usually in his room) that he'd forget to say he needed a wee. This seems to have stopped now, and our main challenge is trying to get him trained for the night. Sometimes he refuses to wear a nappy at night, so on occasion we've let him go without - after encouraging him to wee before he goes to sleep and leaving a potty in his room (as we still don't have an upstairs bathroom) - but invariably he has been wet when we've gone to check on him. Some mornings his nappy is really heavy, and sometimes it's dry. So it's hard to know what to do. He has a waterproof mattress protector on his mattress when it's in the wash after he's wet it, and I've just bought some bed mats (a bit like dog training pads) to use as an alternative to the mattress protector (I guess we should have more than one) which we've not started using yet.

Overall, potty training was way less stressful than I imagined it would be - and was done much quicker than I thought it would - though we're not completely there yet. I always have one spare pair of trousers, pants and socks on me if we go out anywhere and also packed in his bag for nursery. I used to pack multiple spares but they're just not necessary anymore.

I think training for the nights is going to be much harder but we're going to try and get it done in the next month. To be honest, I think Joseph just gets a bit lazy. We put his nappy on just before he goes to bed - and sometimes he'll co-operate and sit on the loo first, but sometimes he won't. And in the mornings he can be quite reluctant to take his nappy off - and sometimes won't use the loo for a couple of hours after having taken it off - which suggests to me that he does many of his morning pees in his nappy rather than bothering himself with going to the loo.

Part 2 of the Potty training 'series' will be about how we got on with training for the night. Don't hold your breath; it could be a while!

My mum bought this for Joseph the week we were training without realising what it was. So very apt.

Potty training purchases and notes:

Potty - we just got a basic one from Mothercare. Ruari's mum also bought a potty for Joseph to use at her house which was from a supermarket, but she had to buy another one as it was tiny. So no matter where you buy the potty, just try to assess the size to see if it'll be suitable for your baby's tush.

Step stool - again, a Mothercare purchase. I originally bought it so he could step up to wash his hands himself but our sink was too high up so it didn't become useful until he was toward the end of his training. Tesco do some nice training seat/stool combos which I think Joseph would have really liked.

Training seat - my mum actually bought the seat for Joseph way before we even started potty training, and I wasn't expecting to use it as soon as we did but has turned out to be a worthwhile purchase.

Waterproof mattress protector - we should probably have at least two.

Pants - obvs. Sainsbury's ones are my favourite as they seem like decent quality and are a good size - if not slightly roomy. The Asda ones I bought were not true to size at all so I had to exchange them for age 4-5, which is crazy as Joseph's quite petite and generally wears 18-24 month old-size clothing on his bottom half.

Bed mats - not tried these yet but seem like a good idea.

Reward(s) of your choosing - sticker rewards just did not float Joseph's boat and were not incentive enough even though he understood what they meant. Raisins and Rich Teas on the other hand... different story.

Spares - I take one pair of pants, trousers and socks everywhere we go.

Poo emoji cushion - optional!

Good luck!

Good luck if you're embarking on the training journey! My main tip is to not give up after day one; I'm really glad we persevered and, believe me, I really thought I'd made a mistake training him when I did but by the end of day three he was like a changed boy.


Don't forget hand-washing. Joseph is a reluctant hand-washer and even still tries to get away with not washing them. He also hates public hand dryers, so much so that sometimes he'll refuse to pee even though he needs to if he can hear that someone is using a hand dryer nearby. Weirdo.