Monday, 2 November 2015

Joseph hearts: Pineapple

Just a silly one because I loved watching Joseph's face as he ate his pineapple chunks! 18 months old has been my favourite age so far. He's so much fun! Although he's not been sleeping that well in the night, he's been napping relatively well during the day compared to how he was on my maternity leave - seems to be making up for lost sleep. He's got so much character, so much determination, and jibber jabbers like a crazy man. I am absolutely loving being a mum at the moment. 

What has been your favourite age? x

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Mummy Time: Frankie Convine

Frankie is mum to a beautiful eight month old sleep-fighting Luna who started crawling at six months [insert stressed-faced emoji here]. You may recognise her from The Fourth Trimester's Instagram where she shared 'a day in the life' last month or perhaps you already follow along over at @frankie_leigh. Here, Frankie shares a bit about her difficulty with breastfeeding, her ventouse birth and how she copes with anxiety. I hope you'll join me in sending much love to Frankie and all the best with her studies. Thank you so much for sharing with the blog.
Mummy:

Tell us about yourself!
I'm Frankie, 27, first time mumma to Luna Bo who arrived on 15th February 2015. We live in lovely Suffolk with husband/Dada Todd and Indi the cat.

What do you do for a living?
I was previously a teaching assistant in a local high school, but I have just started my post 16 teacher training in Art and Photography. I will be a qualified teacher this time next year. Well, I hope so anyway!

How long did you take for maternity leave?
I started my course when Luna was 6 months. I felt it was too early to leave her, and I would of had another 7 weeks had I returned to my old job, but given the course I was doing I didn't have a choice around the start date. I cried every day for the two weeks leading up to me starting! I still hate leaving her. 
We have been lucky though as my husband works 12 hour shifts so he can stay at home with her on the 3 days I am in lectures and on placement. I then look after her the other 4 days while he works. Luna's routine hasn't changed that much as she is still at home, but I have found it tough switching between roles. I have to let Todd do things his way when he's at home and I instead have to try and focus on the work I need to do. I still text at least a couple of times a day just to check in though!

How do you manage the work/life balance?
I'm not sure that we do yet! It's really hard as I have so much coursework to do, that once Luna is asleep I start working again which doesn't leave much time to spend as a couple as Todd works the other 4 days. It also means we don't get much time as a family, but we try and make the mornings special by spending time just sitting in bed catching up while Luna crawls around. As she gets up so early, it gives us time before the morning routine starts!

How do you get things done?!
Now that Luna can crawl it makes in impossible to leave her alone! I spend a lot of time carrying her under one arm while doing tasks. The Jumperoo is also a handy place to contain her when I really need both hands! I can now do jobs very quickly which means I just about get on top of the housework. Sometimes when it gets too much, I take Luna over to my mums so I can crack on with making the house look vaguely presentable!

How are you?
I am completely knackered! Luna is a pretty poor sleeper and still hasn't slept through the night. Now juggling motherhood, work, being a good wife and a good friend is a lot to take on. Since having Luna I have struggled with a lot of anxiety. Some days are easier than others, but I do find some basic things really hard. On a good day I can coast through and cope despite the lack of sleep. Other days my emotions get on top of me and it can be quite hard to not feel anxious constantly. It's something I am working on. Whenever I have a hard day, I try and take a minute and just look at Luna and really try and appreciate her. Even if she is screaming the house down! I would take being with her all day over going to work in a heartbeat.

How does a typical day go?
We are up at 6am for a feed and on my work days, a nice cuddle in bed. I then head off around 8.30am for a morning of lectures and an afternoon of teaching. I get home around 5.30-6pm. Then it's dinner, bath, bottle and bed for Luna. I then make our dinner and get started on uni work around 8.30pm. Bedtime is hopefully by 10.30pm as I know we will be up several times in the night.
My days off go much the same except Todd leaves at 6.30am, so no morning family time. Luna is a super active baby so we fill our day seeing friends, going swimming or to a free play session at a local gym. Luna especially loves he trampoline!
Pregnancy:

How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy was pretty rough. I was signed off work at 4 months pregnant as I had incredibly low blood pressure and a fast heart rate. I had lots of dizzy spells and was out of breath just climbing the stairs. It meant I spent a lot of time just laying in bed watching West Wing and Australian Masterchef! I was also measuring small so I had several extra scans and I was under a consultant. Pregnancy was the loneliest I have ever felt. Spending so much time by yourself is really hard. I'm not very good with my own company!

Did you have any cravings?
I went off all food. My sickness lasted months and was then replaced by constant nausea. The only thing I really wanted was ice cold water! 

Did you find out what you were having?
We did, my husband was dying to know.

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
Being at home for so long I spent ages looking at names. I loved Luna from the start but Todd was slightly unsure at first. We ended up with a short list of 3 when labour rolled by and it wasn't until she born that we decided. I asked Todd and he said she was definitely a Luna. Her middle name, Bo, was his choice.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?
We went to the local antenatal classes and decorated the nursery. I started to read a couple of books, but I didn't find them hugely helpful. I had a pregnancy app that explained how she was growing and I just stuck with that. I prepared in the more practical sense of having the house ready for her.

How was your labour?
Labour was quick once it finally got going! I was 3cm when I arrived and started on gas and air. Within 2 hours I knew something was happening. My midwife reluctantly examined me again and I was 10cm and ready to go! I ended up with an emergency ventouse delivery as Luna's heart rate was rapidly dropping. She had her knees on her chest so was a bit stuck. It was very scary as there were lots of people there by the time she came out and it took about 15 minutes for her first cry. Thankfully she was fine, just shocked.
Baby:

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Nothing has come easy to us and breastfeeding was no exception. We had so much help to try and breastfeed. Luna was latching on but it just wasn't right. Within a week my nipples were bleeding when I tried to feed her. It was excruciating. I cried every time she needed a feed. Eventually a midwife told me to stop for a few days to heal and to just express in the mean time. But they just weren't healing. I expressed for 6 weeks, every 3 hours through the day and night. Then almost overnight my supply just dried up. It took another 3 weeks after I stopped expressing for my nipples to finally heal. Part of me was so relived I didn't have to express anymore and the other part felt horrible and guilty. It's taken this long to finally be able to talk about the experience without crying.

What does Luna eat?
We are on 3 meals a day, when Luna decides she actually fancies food. Breakfast is porridge, lunch is fruit and breadsticks and dinner is vegetables and beans or lentils. We are vegetarian so Luna has the same diet as us and is starting to eat versions of our meals. I had been doing mashed food rather than purées. Luna had bad reflux so we started weaning at 5 months. We now do a combination of mashed food fed to her and baby led weaning.

Does Luna have a sleep routine?
We have a bedtime routine of dinner, bath, story, bottle and sleep. But during the day we don't. Luna typically has a nap a couple of hours after getting up, lunchtime and late afternoon. The naps are normally around 15-20 minutes. As Luna isn't a great sleeper I tend to go with her and what she wants.
How do you keep Luna entertained and what are her favourite things to do?
Climbing is Luna's favourite activity, so she likes anything were she can move about. Taking her out for a meal is a nightmare! We do baby gymnastics, swimming and use a sensory room at a local children's centre. As she gets bigger and can walk, I imagine we will spend lots of time at the beach and playing outside.

What helps to calm Luna down when she's having a freak out? 
Rocking. I spend hours a week rocking in my living room. I'm going to wear the carpet out soon! When she was tiny and had colic we would rock for hours everyday.

Does Luna suffer with anything?
Luna is allergic to milk proteins so she has a specialist formula that is dairy free. She also suffers from reflux. Thankfully it is finally getting better. We saw a paediatrician who prescribed her medicine she takes twice a day. We have been in teething hell for weeks and have used a combination of Anbesol and Calpol to help. If anyone knows of anything else that works though, please let me know!

At what age did Luna become more mobile and how did you cope?
Commando crawling came first at 4 and half months, with proper crawling starting at 6 months. I didn't expect to have a bay that moved so quickly! We have stair gates on the stairs and at the kitchen. I have caught her trying to squeeze through into the conservatory because she was eyeing up the cats biscuits!
 Paraphernalia!:

Does Luna have a favourite toy?
Luna has a Jellycat rabbit that she loves. She really enjoys books although she generally just chews on them. We got bought The Gruffalo with noises and she loves it.

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?
Gap have a sale on at the moment, so I got a few bits to put away for next year!

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?
The best thing I own is my Perfect Prep machine. It is incredible! If you bottle feed your baby, it is the way forward for sure. So quick and easy to use.

What is Luna’s mode of transport?
We have an iCandy Apple to pear pushchair. We got an amazing deal for the carrycot, seat and frame. I really like it. It feels sturdy and once you know the knack, it's easy to get up and down. We were given a Maxi-Cosi car seat and Isofix base by a friend of Todds, which has been fantastic.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Having something to entertain Luna; a couple of toys and something she can chew on help to keep her happy. Snacks, muslins, change of clothes for her and me are essential too.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
High street-wise I love Zara. They don't just make girls clothes in pink, yay! I especially love independent mumma-run companies that I have found on Instagram. If I could afford it, I would buy heaps from them! We really love Tobias and the Bear and Stitched Up Apparel.
Body and Mind:

Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
I have always had a difficult relationship with my body and pregnancy has heightened that. I am totally amazed what my body has done and how incredible it is I grew Luna in me. But I look in the mirror and don't like what I see. However I felt like this pre-Luna so I think pregnancy has just taken me further from my ideal. I do feel very fortunate to have not got stretch marks when pregnant though.

How do you relax?
I never feel I have the time to just relax and be anymore, but if I do get the time, laying in the bath with the music on is bliss!

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
I have forgotten what this is! I'm either at work or home with Luna. I have had one meal out with the girls which was lovely to catch up and hold a whole adult conversation. I need to make more time for me to do this.

When things are tough, what gets you through?
To talk to someone. I am lucky that a few friends have had babies at the same time, so we are a good support to each other. Sometimes I have a good cry too because generally that makes you feel much better! And chocolate. A treat just makes everything feel a bit more manageable.

Advice:

What have you found to be the most challenging age?
The first 6 weeks were really hard and I was so anxious I barely left the house. Luna would cry for hours and I was expressing all the time. I still find days hard now because Luna wants to be doing so much but can't and recently has been very upset and I don't know exactly why. I think every age has its up and downs though!

If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be?
Friendships will change, but sometimes that's ok. Read those books you got last year because you won't have time soon! Pregnancy sucks but remind yourself that each day is a day closer to having Luna. And be prepared to love someone more than anything ever.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
My mum said to me, Luna isn't an easy baby but that's just what she's like, it's not that you're doing it wrong. You are always doing your best.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
You are amazing. You are doing everything right for your baby. Don't listen to people who judge you. Motherhood is the hardest but also the most rewarding job in the world. We should all support each other in this mammoth task. Remember on the hard days what an awesome job you are doing.

(Also read My Milo & Me blog, it is so funny you may actually wet yourself a bit, but it's totally worth it!) 
If you'd like to feature on Mummy Time, give me a shout at onthechangingmat@gmail.com
Nicki x

Monday, 26 October 2015

PYO Pumpkin, Ashford

After seeing countless photos of pumpkin patches on Instagram for the third or fourth year running, I decided that it was nigh time I visit a patch myself, now that I'm the proud owner of an inquisitive toddler.

I dragged Ruari, and a wellington-boot-clad Joseph, to the nearest patch I could find on Google which turned out to be Pick Your Own Pumpkin in Sevington near Ashford in Kent (just five minutes from his parents' house). 

It was unsurprisingly busy, as it was a Sunday, with cars parked for what seemed like a mile along the side of the patch. I loved that the staff, who were directing the cars where to park, were wearing bright orange gilets and scarves with a pumpkins printed on them!

Ruari said to me, as we stepped out of the car; 'don't think I don't know why we're here. This is an Instagram trip isn't it?'

'Yeah, and what?'

I definitely didn't go there to take photos for the sake of social sharing, as I'm still feeling a bit weird about Insta (and social media in general) but I definitely wanted to try and take some nice ones in the pursuit of trying to take better photos to have up around my house and trying to be good at something. But perhaps if it weren't for Instagram I'd be ignorant to the amazingness of pumpkin patches, and I'm glad that I took Joseph to see one. 

I found the whole thing really magical and was trying to stay focussed on enjoying the moment whilst constant thoughts of 'Return to Oz' and 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' were running through my head, as was the determination to take a half-decent photo. I don't quite have this whole mindfulness thing nailed yet.

I loved the pumpkin patch and I think Joseph will come to appreciate it more as he gets older and it becomes an annual tradition to visit. For now, he was just kind of bemused and thought they were all 'balls' on the ground for him to run around and touch. It was very sweet to see Joseph explore, but I think I had more fun than he did!

The pumpkins were priced from £1-£5 (I think) depending on size and we went for a modest, lone, green pumpkin for £2 in the end which is yet to be carved, or photographed for that matter.

Not that I've been to another patch to compare this one to, but I'd recommend the Pick Your Own pumpkin patch in Sevington if you're local and want to visit one this October. Check their Facebook page first for opening times and travel tips (it gets super busy) and ENJOY! 

Have you visited a pumpkin patch this year? x

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Mummy Time: Alice H

If you missed Mummy Time during my kind of impromptu leave of absence then Alice is who you should thank for forcing encouraging me to start it back up again! I got to know Alice though Instagram when Joseph was around the age that Delores is now; she is a ray of sunshine, an inspiration, and remains positive despite circumstances that would render me a mess on the floor. Alice has taken to motherhood like a duck to water and it is heart warming to see this dream team in action. Thank you for sharing, Alice!
Mummy:

Who are you?
Hi! I'm Alice. I'm 22 (though my tired eyes would suggest otherwise), I'm from Leeds in beautiful Yorkshire, and I have a 4 month old baby girl called Delores, born on the 5th June 2015. We are a team of two!

What do you do for a living?
Pre-baby I was amidst a quarter life crisis on the job and relationship front - I left my job as a sales assistant when I was around 4 months pregnant. I had moved 200 miles away from home, did not have a strong support network, and was caught in a tough relationship. I moved back to Leeds at short notice & so leaving my job was the most sensible option. It was hard and I questioned whether it was the best thing to do but, ultimately, my baby & I needed to be happy and safe. I haven't a single regret over that decision and I'm so proud of myself for taking that step away.

How do you get things done?
The moment Delores' eyes close for a nap, the Benny Hill theme cues, the kettle boils, and the washing machine goes into overdrive.

How are you?
I am beyond good and great, there's literally not even a word for it. I'm tired, but that's a given. Having Delores has made me feel like I'm going to live forever. She's wonderful, calm, and she's the most pleasant little soul. Her happiness feeds into me, and mine into her. I've doubted myself of course, any new Mum (and especially a lone Mum) does. But being sad and boiling over things fixes nothing, having a positive attitude and mindset has gotten me so far, and I'm 100% sure she senses that too.

How does a typical day go? 
We wake up around 8am, I dress Delores & feed her and she drops back off to sleep around 10am. I have a cup of coffee and some food, get showered & dressed. She wakes again around 12pm, I feed her, & if we have plans we will head out. If we don't have anything planned we will just potter around at home, maybe walk over to my Nannys or my sisters for a cuppa. Delores feeds on demand, and has a religious bath time of 6pm. By 7pm we are snuggling & feeding, and she falls asleep around 8:30pm.
Pregnancy:

How was your pregnancy?
It was lovely. I didn't feel pregnant until maybe the last 2/3 weeks when I was quite uncomfortable. I had morning sickness for about two months but it wasn't debilitating and once it had passed I was fine. My bump was teeny tiny so I had growth scans and was told she would be small, she was pretty average in size on arrival, which seemed to shock everyone!

Did you have any cravings?
So. Many! They haven't gone! Ready salted crisps, cheese sandwiches, fruit pastilles, rice pudding, peas, Sprite (in a can!), those R Whites lemonade ice lollies, and Fab ice lollies. I still eat all of these!

Did you find out what you were having?
I did! I was adamant she was a girl anyway.

How did you decide on your names and did you already have the names ready before they arrived?
I was pretty set on a really wild name, with Delores for a middle name. She is too dainty for a fierce name though and I went with Delores as her first name, it's my Nanny’s middle name! ("You've named that baby, after me!")

How did your prepare for Delores' arrival?
I didn't attend any classes or read too much into anything, and I was really calm about the impending ‘pushing a human out your hooha’ situation. I was careful about buying necessary items and things I needed for her & didn't want to fall victim to buying things I would probably never use. Managing to get everything for her by myself was hard to face of course - but my friends and family all helped me.

How was your labour?
I always asked "but just how will I know it's labour?" And people always replied "you just know" - lies. My due date came and no signs of her coming! I woke around 4am feeling crampy, so I took two paracetamol and went back to sleep! I woke up again around 8am, got dressed and had breakfast. I felt crampy still but nothing major, I called my sister who headed to my house around 9:30am, then it all happened very suddenly! I sat on the toilet and could not have got off it if you'd have paid me to. My waters broke and her head near enough came out too, we called an ambulance and they rushed me to the hospital at 10:40, she was born at 10:55am and weighed 7lbs 8oz with no pain relief but my two poxy paracetamols! It was euphoric in a way, I would do it again in a heartbeat, and it was so much more (not the right word to use but..) pleasant than I expected. I think people like to preach a birth horror story far too often, mine was fast and so I was probably very lucky that the intense pain was only for a short while. My body just instinctively did what it was meant to do and I didn't really think about it! Having a dinner with no heartburn afterwards was amazing.
Baby:

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
It was so very painful for me to begin with! I think my nips and boobs as a whole were collectively rescued by the wonderful mums of IG & their words of wisdom. I recall toe curling pain for about 3 weeks but it subsided as I became more comfortable.

Does Delores have a feeding routine?
She feeds around 8am, then again at lunchtime, around 3/4pm she has a purree, and then a feed again around 7pm, and 8/9pm. I started to give her baby rice when she hit four months as her weight gain slowed. After around a week of that I moved onto pureed fruit/veg/rice/porridge and she literally breathes it in. It might be too soon by the book, but I didn't want to give her formula milk, and she took to the pureed food like she'd been waiting for it!

Does Delores have a nap/ sleep routine and how did you put it in place, or did it fall into place?
Delores sleeps 8/9pm - 1am, a quick feed and is back off until around 8am. She naps around 10am-12pm roughly and is awake the rest of the day! It definitely just fell into place.

How do you keep Delores entertained and what are her favourite things to do?
She likes to sit up and look around, she has a playmat with a high side so she likes to sit up and nosy out from there. Usually a big walk keeps her entertained, or rolling around on my bed in the nuddy.

What are your go-to resources for information?
My sister has three children, with the youngest being just 4 weeks older than Delores so anything I'm usually beginning to face she has just gotten over/already knows how to help! There are a lot of babies in my family so I tend to just ask my family members. But I would be lying if I didn't credit all the wonderful IG mamas who have thrown amazing advice our way, or even my friends who have frantically googled or know odds and sods of advice that are of use!
Paraphernalia:

Does Delores have a favourite toy?
A Nuby teething ring from Boots! Immediately calms her if she's crying. She likes to fall asleep with a comforter by her cheeks too.

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?
I bought some weaning spoons today... and a green cardigan, because everybody needs a green cardigan.

What has been the most useful thing you've bought/ been given/ discovered (such as an app)?
A Bumbo! I rescued it as my sister was going to bin it. Also my best pal Jade bought me a bunch of 1oz storage tubs which are perfect for storing milk (and impossible to find anywhere!?)

What is Delores' mode of transport?
When Delores was teeny I wrapped her up in a cheap black cotton wrap I bought on Amazon, I didn't want to get anything fancy as I wasn't sure if she or I would like it, but when she was tiny and so new it was wonderful to hold her close! And it made so many trips out of the house bearable as she had total pram-phobia. Now she's a little bigger she doesn't mind the pram at all, it's a Mothercare Orb in grey, I am ever searching for a cup holder to attach to it though.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
I just stuff a couple nappies, wipes, a muslin & a spare set of clothes in my handbag. Milky boobs are seriously a prized possession.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
H&M, Zara, Next... And I like Gap, but only when there's a sale!

Body and Mind:

Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
I feel better now than I ever have done. I feel healthy, my body did the most amazing thing and I literally still can't believe it. I weigh less now than I did before I was pregnant, and I feel confident and strong too, which is just lovely.

How do you relax?
I feel like I'm relaxed 99% of the time anyway. Time ticks by but I just like to go at my own pace. I don't rush myself or get stressed because what's the point? I'm an all-round calm and patient person, so I don't tend to ever even get to the point where I need to step back and relax.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Have a nice bath or do some crochet/watch Sopranos/wish Tony Soprano was 20 years younger, alive, and my husband.

When things are tough (physically and emotionally exhausted/ stressed), what gets you through?
A nice cup of coffee, a chat with my girl friends, a snuggle from the cat and to just breathe.

Advice:

If you could give your pregnant self a heads up, what would it be?
I'd tell myself - you're going to be just fine, so much more fine than you think! Facing becoming a parent in a couple is hard and becoming a parent by yourself is double the pressure, but don't panic because you've got this. Your baby will bring you so much more joy, strength, and love than you could even begin to imagine. She will fill up every hole in your life with laughter and erase every single doubt with a poopy nappy. You'll love it, you'll absolutely nail it, and you will never doubt your ability to do anything challenging again.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
"Pushing a baby out is like heaving when you're sick, it just happens" @oneeyedraven said this to me after giving birth to her beautiful daughter Brontë just 3 days before Delores arrived. It is so spot on and after realising D was on her way I kept repeating it to myself!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Just be calm. I'm a firm believer that being good and calm means life won't throw you any hurdles. I might be jinxing myself here after a string of seriously bad luck over the past four years - but Delores' arrival instilled into me that having a positive mind is the best thing I can do for us both. Try not to stress about what happened to your friend's cousin's wife's friend during labour either, every person is different and horror story sharers are meanies.

Thank you for reading! If you'd like to take part in Mummy Time, or know someone that would - get in touch onthechangingmat@gmail.com!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - advice request

Something a little different to the usual, but a friend is feeling at a loss in terms of how to manage her PCOS symptoms whilst planning for a family, so and I wondered if you guys might be able to offer any advice or share your experience. If you need more info, I can put you directly in touch with my friend but as it is a sensitive subject I don't want to name names straight off the bat. Here's her situation...

Hello! I'm a just-turned 26 year old. To keep it brief, I came off the pill after almost 10 years in summer 2014.

I prepared myself with supplements, yoga and dietary changes because I was expecting to have no periods for a long time. However, I got my period a month later, which I fully put down to all the help I gave my body! Things were looking good until about 3/4 months later when I started breaking out in very typical and horrible "hormonal" acne (jawline, cheeks and chin). It gradually got worse and I started to notice other issues; my cycles were gradually lengthening from 35-45 days and I was having pains in my pelvic area.

I went to my GP and was referred for an internal ultrasound were both ovaries were found to be slightly enlarged and covered in multiple cysts. I suspected it was PCOS, but I wasn't a typical case as I've never struggled with my weight (although I did find I was a bit 'rounder' off the pill).

I had one blood test on my hormone levels (couldn't make sense of it) and went back to the not-so-helpful GP who told me things were consistent with PCOS. I was basically told that there was nothing they could do other than prescribe the pill to manage the symptoms until I wanted to try for a baby. This was in May/June.

I was so desperate to have clear skin in time for my wedding in September that I begrudgingly went back on the pill. It's a decision I'm really uncomfortable with, I went through so much to be rid of the pill and to find my natural rhythm and it just feels so alien now, BUT my skin is clear.

I'm now at a point where my husband and I are seriously thinking about trying for a baby in the new year and I just don't know what to do for the best.

Coming off the pill is going to send my skin haywire again and I just can't stand to feel that terrible again. So I'm reaching out via lovely Nicki to ask if any mamas/people with the same issues can suggest things I could try to make this transition from stopping the pill to trying to conceive smoother with regards to my skin (supplants/herbs?) and advice for conceiving/getting my periods back on track -I'm familiar with tracking my cycle and understand the fertile window, etc.


I'm really grateful for any helpful advice.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Mummy Time: Amber Lilley

Mummy Time is back after I'm-too-afraid-to-look many weeks! Amber has been incredibly patient throughout my blogging hiatus and I'm so glad to finally be sharing this snippet of her life with Milo which she kindly shared. Milo was 12 months old at the time Amber wrote this and references that long, lost season we're all pining after... Summer! I loved reading Amber's hilarious Mummy Time and I hope you'll also enjoy snooping her beautiful Instagram @amberivylilley!

Mummy

Who are you?
Hi, name is Amber I’m 27 years old and I live in Harrogate (recently voted the happiest place to live in the UK) with my husband Michael and our now 12 month old, Milo. We have only lived here for a year after moving out of the city in exchange for more grass and pram friendly pavements.

What do you do for a living?
Right now I feel like I am in limbo with my job. I hate the idea of working more than two days a week and also having to put Milo in a nursery, partly because of how expensive they are! So I work two days a week (which I am lucky enough to choose my hours and what days I work) as an administrator/do a bit of everything at my parents business. During these days my mum looks after Milo – it’s a pretty good set up really – but a lot of the time I feel myself craving more from my career. I know soon I will have to look for something more exciting!

How did you feel when you returned to work?
Initially the thought of returning to work scared me shitless. Firstly the thought of leaving Milo was unfathomable when you spend every waking hour as a nappy changing, zombie, I thought - how can you possibly juggle something else when you have to do all this! Secondly, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do? I still don’t – it’s a constant battle I face all the time.
Also you mums that work full time or more than my couple of days a week I take my hat off to you! The house gets super messy and neglected on the days I work and I hate it! On the other hand I feel that small amount of time off from being a mum makes me really treasure the time I have with my baby all over again.

How are you?
I am good – definitely in the best place I’ve ever been in my life. But of course I don’t feel like this everyday. Some days can be an uphill struggle and your lucky to get a clean pair of clothes on yourself and your baby by noon, if not all day!

How does a typical day go?
Milo usually wakes us up at about 6.30am. Michael and I slowly wake up and fight over whose going to change his nappy and bring him into our bed for a bit while he climbs all over us and we properly wake up. We have a race of whose going to shower first while Milo enjoys some cereal, scrambled egg or toast.
I usually try to get out of the house before his morning nap, we go to the park, meet my friend Katie who has a 16 month old to go for coffee or sometimes end up at soft play torture.
At around 11am Milo naps in his cot for around 1-1 ½ hours and then we have lunch. Milo loves food and is most content when there is food around. In the afternoon we either have a lazy day at home, visit friends or family. If the weathers nice we are lucky to live right on the edge of beautiful countryside and a walk with a friend is a lovely way to get out of the house. After tea we have a loose routine of bath, book and bed – Milo is usually always in bed by 7pm and despite loving being a mama I so eagerly look forward to this time! When Milo is in bed my ultimate treat is a bath and book in bed with tea and biscuits. I know -WILD.

Pregnancy

How was your pregnancy?
I had a pretty straightforward pregnancy until around 28 weeks when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Having higher levels of glucose in your bloodstream means your unborn baby’s tummy can swell. Therefore you have to control this through diet and exercise. I swear cutting down on carbs, completely cutting out sweets and evening strolls helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.
Milo also measured large throughout the whole pregnancy, this meant I had to have regular scans and ended up being induced at 38 weeks. Basically because I was literally ready to pop! Being so big I was really self-conscious of my bump towards the end – a woman in Mothercare could not believe that I wasn’t pregnant with twins or triplets. Not to mention it was uncomfortable as hell. Looking in the mirror naked honestly made me freak out.

Did you have any cravings?
Nope…I just wanted to eat all the chocolate in the world but this was swiftly put to bed when I found out I had gestational diabetes.

Did you find out what you were having?
Yes! I really really hoped that I was having a girl – when I found out it was a boy I think I said to the sonographer – can you double check please. It’s so silly as obviously you love your baby more than anything in the universe when they come along. I hope to have another boy in the future.

How did you decide on names and did you already have the names before Milo arrived?
I had about one hundred girls names lovingly saved to my iPhone notes and about two boys’ names in there somewhere. When Milo was born he was called Phoenix – it just didn’t suit him and within a week we settled on Milo.

How did you prepare for your Milo's arrival?
Milo was not planned. I found out I was pregnant after moving back in with my parents with the aim to save and buy our own house. When we found out we had under nine months to do this in we worked our arses off and moved into our house just 3 days before Milo was born. This meant the nursery etc. all came together at the last minute. I think I was really overstressed in the last few months of pregnancy. I wish I could go back and tell my pregnant self to chill the f**k out and that everything would be ok.
I avoided antenatal classes but I did buy a bunch of books on attachment parenting. To be honest I didn’t read much, but a book I would really recommend is the ‘Continuum concept’ by Jean Liedloff (if you are interested in attachment parenting it’s a very interesting read).

How was your labour?
Really awful! To cut a long story short Milo got stuck and after all that effort I had an emergency c-section. I had all the drugs under the sun, at one point I was having hallucinations about my dad having four nipples!
My birth plan could not have been more opposite to the reality of my labour. Leading up to my labour my Nan had dubbed me ‘Mother Earth’ as I really believed a candlelit water birth with no drugs was how I would welcome my baby into the world. I think I was shouting epidural before they even started my induction.

Baby

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
I breastfed exclusively for six weeks but that’s as far as I got. There were problems with Milo latching on and I think I spent most of them six weeks with the curtains closed crying. It was really hard when I had to stop breastfeeding as the guilt you feel is just terrible.  I will definitely give it another go next time round though.

Does your baby have a feeding routine?
As Milo is now one I have just reduced his milk feeds to two per day, but this happened naturally and I have never been strict about the number of feeds he had per day. I have been so lucky with weaning Milo onto solids, as through meeting other mums I know how hard it can sometimes be. Anyway, Milo was basically born to eat. I started weaning at about 5.5 months and did a mixture of purees and baby-led weaning.
Milo’s routine has now naturally fallen into having three meals a day with some snacking in between.
He eats whatever Michael and I are having and one of my favourite things in the world is cooking for my family. I have always loved to cook so the fact that I don’t have a fussy baby (yet!) makes this pretty easy.
He loves fish, eggs, stirfry, carrots, cheese – I could go on – he basically likes EVERYTHING.

Does Milo have a nap/ sleep routine, and how did you put it into place?
Now that Milo is a year old he has a pretty good nap and sleeping routine. He has a morning nap that lasts between 1-2 hours and a shorter afternoon nap. However, the afternoon nap is usually harder to tackle and sometimes it never happens.
He goes to bed at 7pm and wakes up around 6.30am.
But looking back it hasn’t always been like this and Mamas with younger babies reading this- hang in there - it will get easier!
Milo has a sheep teddy (Sheepy) that he uses as a comforter to get to sleep with. He rolls around the bed with it until he’s asleep – it kind of looks like a wrestling match and I find them asleep in some pretty hilarious positions.

What are Milo’s favourite things to do?
Crawl around in big open spaces, play with other babies at baby groups that I secretly hate, watch Peppa Pig and food, food, food. He has also recently learnt how to play things I’ve recorded on TV. These kids are clever – he’s now watching Peppa Pig without my permission!


When Milo's freaking out what do you do to calm them down?
Turn on Peppa Pig the theme tune alone creates instant smiles, a walk around the garden, or a healthy snack – Milo is obsessed with sultanas and they usually win him over.

Does Milo suffer with anything and what do you do to help it?
Milo suffers with eczema, which is just starting to calm down now that he has turned one. It really flares up with teething and it’s a constant battle keeping his skin soft. I don’t really like using steroid creams so I basically just moisturise, moisturise, moisturise at every nappy change and post bath. I like Aveeno and Hydromol ointment. (we go through a huge bottle a week).

At what age did your Milo become more mobile and what did you do to cope?
Milo was a late mover. He literally just sat still in one spot for almost 11 months. Plus, because he’s so big for his age I swear people at baby groups were like – “Er…why is that two year old not moving?” He liked being on his legs but I had to walk round everywhere holding his hands and my back used to ache like crazy.
In the last week of being a ten month old he began to crawl and I think he may be close to walking – but you can never tell with these babies!
I’m a real clean freak so dealing with the wake of destruction that goes hand in hand with a baby on the move does nothing for my anxiety levels.

What are your go to resources for information about your baby when you are worried?
Firstly my mum - she is very laid back and always talks sense when I am over worried about something silly. Also my friend Katie, she is a nurse and mother to a sixteen month old. Her little girl has usually already been through a particular phase that Milo is going through.

Holiday

Have you taken Milo on holiday?
We took Milo to Fuerteventura , one of the Canary Islands, when he was eight months old. The four and a half hour flight was tough as he cried a lot! But going abroad with your baby is an amazing experience. Its hard work constantly worrying whether their too hot, burning, eating sand, as well as keep them entertained while you try to get in some precious sunbathing time – but totally worth it for the amazing experiences you will have as a family.
We are also taking Milo to France on Sunday. I have the same mix of emotions as I did last time – will he scream on the aeroplane again? Yes, probably – but just go with the flow, you’re  going on holiday! (I plan to take a family size bag of Milky Bar buttons this time round also but shhhhhhhh!)

What were your holiday essentials?
An all in one swimming costume to prevent sun burn, sun hats and a light weight pram and carrier.

Was Milo’s routine affected?
Yes, but after worrying about that I went with the flow and took Milo out for a few meals after his bedtime. Everything returns to normal when you get back home.

Paraphernalia

Does Milo have a favourite toy?
Definitely Sheepy!
It’s funny pre-pregnancy I always questioned my body, I was never 100% confident on the beach – and looking back I think how STUPID you were! I am probably more confident now than I was pre-baby.  And yes the old cliché – your body really did do something absolutely phenomenal so love your jiggly tums mums.
How do you relax?
What do you do when you have time to yourself?
A lot of the above, drink red wine and eat chocolate and sometimes I may just manage to squeeze in a monthly shave.
Red wine, my husband and my mum. Probably in that order.
For me, probably the first six months, Milo cried ALL THE TIME. The doctors never found out really why apart from that he was just a miserable baby (with colic in the evenings). I found baby groups and social situations tough because my baby was always the one balling his eyes out. For me every month that goes by is a better one as I have seen my little boy grow into such a more content and happy little soul. 



What was your most recent baby-related purchase, and why did you buy it?
More summer clothes Milo grows so fast he has outgrown his summer wardrobe. He needed a few basics for France.

What has been the most useful thing you’ve bought/discovered?
The white noise app was a godsend for the first year! Milo has only just recently given up going to sleep every night in a tropical rainstorm. Ha!

What is your baby’s mode of transport?
I used the Baby Bjorn ‘active’ carrier in the early days. I now mainly use my pram an Oyster Max2 – its ok – but I’m now on the hunt for a more lightweight stroller.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Snacks (sultanas, carrot sticks and rice cakes), books for the pram, change of clothes for nappy explosions and an extra jumper/jacket, oh, and his beloved sheepy.

What are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Zara, H&M, ebay (mainly for vintage denim!) and some lovely individual labels on etsy.

Body and Mind

Has your view, with your body changed since you’ve become a mother?
I’m a granny at heart! I love an early night and reading, cooking, pottering around my little garden, going walking in the countryside, an evening run and cleaning – honestly I bloody love a good clean!

When things are tough, what gets you through?

Advice

What have you been to be the most challenging month?

What’s the best advice or most useful tip about parenting anyone has given you?
Every baby is different. Don’t compare your baby or expect them to do something just because your friend’s baby is doing it. Secondly, relax, I think the more relaxed you are around your baby the more they thrive.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Do what works for you. Sometimes the health visitors or just other peoples’ opinions can make you question yourself. But if it works for you and your baby - I say go with it.

Oh and if I could give my pregnant self some advice it would be – don’t buy newborn size baby grows – your baby is gonna be a massive giant and won’t fit into them!

Thank you so very much for sharing, Amber!

Next week it's Mummy Time with my darling friend Alice and four month old Delores <3