Thursday, 10 July 2014

Mummy Time #1: Hannah Jane Miles

I know loads of amazing ladies who have made the transition to motherhood, either recently or not so recently, so I thought it'd be cool to get them all to share their experiences in a regular feature, which I think you'll agree is a clever play on 'tummy time'! I've not quite refined my question set yet so it does go on for quite a bit, but I couldn't decide which to edit out and, seeing as my first subject took the time to answer them all whilst her youngest baby napped on her, I thought it'd be rude not to just publish the whole shebang.

So first up is an incredible mother of four, who seriously deserves some sort of medal, Hannah Jane Miles.


Who are you?

I'm Hannah, I'm 31 years old! I am married to Alex, we have been together since I was 19 and we'll have been married for 9 years next month! We rent a 4 bedroom (very shabby) house in Margate at the moment. I have 4 children - Louis Jack (10), Zeke Lucas (7), Thurston Jonas (6) and Indigo Tempest (1). I'm a stay at home mum at the moment and carer for my disabled son.
Zeke, Thurston, Hannah, Indigo and Louis.
How are you?

I'm generally pretty tired as one of my kids has a sleeping disorder and so there is not much sleep around here! However, I try to make the most of it as his sleeping won't change any time soon so I just get on as best I can. The 3 boys are at school and my daughter is asleep so I am enjoying my day so far!

What is a typical day like?

Our days start ridiculously early, usually between 1-4am. I hang out with Thurston quietly reading, watching TV or looking through Instagram photos with him while trying to encourage him back to sleep (which rarely works). The other kids get up at 6am. Alex makes the school packed lunches and gives everyone toast and cereal while I try to snatch an hour's sleep if possible. Once everyone is at school and work, Indigo generally has a nice sleep on my lap unless we go food shopping.

Indigo and I play together during the day, potter around doing housework and have a walk to the beach. We fetch Thurston from school at 3.10pm and everyone else meets us back at home. We try to do something in the afternoon like bounce on the trampoline, go to the park, walk to the beach or go to soft play. The boys all have after school clubs once or twice a week as well.

We eat dinner all together at the table every evening at around 6ish and then we watch The Simpsons together before putting everyone to bed around 7.30-8. The older boys have bunk beds where they read their books until they fall asleep. The little ones fall asleep downstairs and we carry them up to their rooms asleep.

I love the calm of the evenings once the kids are asleep. We usually blog or watch Curb Your Enthusiasm or Portlandia while we catch up on all the gossip from each others' days.

What do you do to relax?

I have recently learned to crochet which I love because I can make something for myself which is so satisfying. I love to read healthy eating blogs and I have just started running because I really want to lose the excess weight I've gained from having 4 children!

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

I write my blog,, whenever I can. It takes me a lot of time to write a blog post so I don't get to keep up with it as much as I'd like but it's definitely something I want to work on more. I also love cooking when I can do it at a leisurely pace instead of making a huge dinner for the 6 of us!


How were your pregnancies?

I always have really horrible sickness in pregnancy. I have been sick every single day during pregnancy for the entire 9 months. With my 2nd baby I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is extreme pregnancy sickness. I didn't eat apart from nibbling on crackers for 4 months and ended up in hospital several times to have fluids through a drip. After that I had a pregnancy with no sickness at all, however, when I went for the 12 week scan, the baby had no heartbeat and it had already died. So when I had the sickness back in the last 2 pregnancies I was actually grateful and found it a comfort that it meant the baby was doing well!

Did you notice any differences between carrying a girl after having 3 boys?

I can honestly say there were absolutely no differences between carrying the boys and indigo! I had no clue that she would turn out to be a girl! 

How were your labours?

My 1st labour was by far the most horrible. It was 45 hours long and I had pre eclampsia and felt really poorly. I was just too tired by the end and Louis was born with a ventouse.

I was really scared about giving birth again as I found it quite traumatic but it couldn't have been more different. Zeke was 14 days overdue so I went in to be induced. They gave me a pessary and the contractions were immediately back to back and I needed to push, Zeke was born within 19 minutes!!!! I didn't even have paracetamol, nothing!

Thurston was a very straightforward labour, he was also 14 days overdue but I went into labour spontaneously on the morning I was booked for induction. The labour was about 5 hours and I had gas and air.

Indigo was born in the Midwife Led Birthing Unit. I laboured in the pool which was lovely but Indi was back to back and the midwife had a hard time finding her heartbeat in the water. I got out onto the bed and carried on with gas and air. At 10cm my waters still hadn't broken so the midwife broke them for me. It was a very straightforward birth, again about 5 hours but I found it much more strenuous and exhausting this time around!

Did you have any cravings?

I've always craved pickled beetroot, I got through at least 2 jars a week. I also loved any drinks made with ice! 

Did you find out what you were having?

I did find out what I was having in each pregnancy. It was just too exciting not to find out!!

How did you decide on your names and did you already have the names ready before they arrived?

Louis was the only name we ever had for him. It was the name of a hairdresser in a tv show we watched at the time called "The Salon"! His middle name Jack is after my grandad.

Throughout the entire pregnancy, Zeke was going to be called Seth but it just didn't suit him when he was born. He was much bigger than I expected (8lb5oz compared to Louis being 6lb9oz!) and so we chose Zeke at the last minute. I wish i'd given him the longer version Ezekiel because Zeke just isn't long enough when he is in trouble! Alex chose Lucas after George Lucas I assume!!

Alex chose the name Thurston after Thurston Moore and I liked the name Jonas after a Weezer song.

After all those boys it was hard to narrow down the girls names! Our short list was Autumn, Ottilie, Uma and Saoirse. We decided that Indigo was our favourite and that Thurston could call her Indi if he struggled with pronouncing it. I chose Tempest to remember what a stormy pregnancy I had with her! It suits her perfectly!!


Does your baby have a feeding routine?

I've always fed all of my babies on demand and have never had a routine. I think Indigo has 4-5 bottles of formula a day of 6oz each. She still has one bottle during the night. She drinks a lot of water from her little beaker during the day. Puree feeding never really worked for her and she is much happier eating whatever everyone else eats with her hands. Last night she had roast chicken, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cabbage! She also loves snacks and her favourites are these cookies from Ella's Kitchen  and these crisps from Organix.

Does your baby have a nap or sleep routine?

I never tried to get her into a routine but she seems to like a morning nap at 9am and a shorter afternoon nap at 2pm and goes to sleep around 7.30-8 in the evening. She does still wake at night, once for milk and maybe another time for comfort. We don't put her back in her cot after she wakes because we are sleep-deprived enough as it is without walking backwards and forwards trying to settle her back to sleep. I enjoy the warmth of co-sleeping anyway. We have always put our babies to sleep in their own beds but if they woke up they always came in with us. I like it that way!

When your baby is wakeful, what do you to entertain them?

Indigo currently likes to pretend to be on the phone! She holds phones to her ear and says "ooo"! She loves the beach and the park and anywhere where she can crawl freely. If the other children are at home, Louis and Zeke love entertaining her and she definitely prefers their company to mine!

When you're baby's freaking out and you've eliminated food, nappy and wind... what do you find helps them to calm down? 

When the babies were small, I always used to wrap them snugly in a big muslin, hold them close and walk around. That usually diffused the situation and calmed them down. If I'm honest, now that Indigo is 14 months, if she is in a state and nothing else works then it's usually Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom on Nick Jr that calms her down! I know that isn't perfect parenting but it gives me 20 minutes to sort out other kids/clean/cook/go for a wee etc!

Does your baby seem to suffer with anything and what do you do to help it?

Indigo has a dairy intolerance and she is on a hypoallergenic prescription formula. When she was a baby she had very bad eczema which used to become infected with yeast infections and so they switched her to the dairy free formula and it hasn't been back since. My middle son has Autism Spectrum Disorder, low muscle tone, hypermobile joints and allergies so we were worried about Indigo having problems too. The health visitor was concerned that Indigo had some developmental delays as she wasn't sitting up til 10 months and crawled late, she is very serious and rarely laughs. She is being monitored by a Paediatrician now.


What's your baby's favourite toy?

Indigo likes to play with things that aren't toys! Nothing makes her happier than getting her mitts on a remote control, some shoes or a set of keys!

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?

I bought a wooden rainbow yesterday from Sainsbury's!  The only toys Indigo actually enjoys playing with are toys that are wooden that she can stack and take apart. They are the only thing that keep her occupied without help!

What has been the most useful thing you've bought or been given? 

I never thought I'd say this but recently the best purchase I've made is an Ergo carrier. I have been a mum for over 10 years and I never found a baby carrier that didn't hurt my neck or stretch on my shoulders. I bought this a few months ago to took it to Disneyland and it was a Godsend. Indigo weighs 19lbs and I could carry her in it for hours and she would peacefully nap away! It also had a pocket so I could keep her dummy in there and my phone for important Instagram snaps! My husband has had several serious spinal surgeries and even he can wear Indigo in this no problem. I only wish I'd discovered it sooner. It's also really comfy for the babies and gentle on their joints which is something I really care about because of Thurston's problem. These are pretty pricey but I got mine brand new on eBay and it was worth every penny and more!

Indigo in an Ergobaby carrier

What travel systems/pushchairs/buggies do you use, or have had experience using?

When I had Louis there were barely any options for buggies compared to what there is now and people weren't really ordering online much so it's changed a lot! I've had a fair few buggies but there have been pros and cons with all of them. My absolute favourite by far is the one I have with indigo, it's a Mamas & Papas Sola and we got it in sale for £199. It's the 1st time I've had a parent facing pram and I love it so much. We had the car seat and adapters and used it as a travel system for the first few months. If I had the money or knew the money I would waste on crappy disappointing pushchairs I would go for a bugaboo bee. It seems like the most compact and easy to use of all the prams I've seen! 


What do you wish you’d known before you had kids?

I wish I had waited until I was older to start a family. I had Louis when I was 20 and dropped out of uni. I think it's really hard to do everything the other way around with several kids in tow. I just would have liked a few years to get qualifications, save some money and do some travelling just with Alex. The kids go everywhere with us now as I hate leaving them behind or having them miss out on experiences!

Lastly, what's the best advice that anyone's given you about parenting?

This isn't advice someone has given me but a realisation from having kids 10 years apart! As long as you are doing the best you can by your baby then they will turn out fine. I know a lot of people that stress about routines, stimulation, perfect nutrition etc but it really doesn't matter all that much in the long run. As long as kids laugh, play, get fed, washed and loved then they will turn out brilliantly. It won't matter if they sleep in your bed or are fussy eaters when they are little, they all go to school and play with their mates and no one knows which kids were "attachment parented" or in a "Gina Ford routine". Enjoy them while they are little and cuddly and sweet because pre-teens are a whole different ball game!

You can read more about Hannah and her beautiful family's life on her blog; or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you, Hannah! 

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Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It really means a lot! Nicki x