Thursday, 17 July 2014

Mummy Time #2: Sarah Hovell

The lovely Sarah and my husband, Ruari, are pals from way back when and after following each other on Instagram, we realised we were both pregnant and due just one week apart! Sarah is one of the very few people I know who didn't find out what they were having and, almost three months on, I thought I'd pick her brains on her experience... or should that be pica?! 

The Hovell Family.

Who are you?

I'm Sarah, I'm 31 and live in Liverpool, although I'm actually from Kent. I'm a Speech and Language Therapist, specialising in working with adults who have eating, drinking and swallowing disorders (although I now have a year away from all that malarkey).

My husband, Mark, and I had our first baby, a girl we named Olive, on 26th April 2014. We are also dog-parents to a rescue Lurcher, Odin, who we adopted two years ago. We live in a lovely Victorian terraced house that we bought a year ago and are still mid-decorating (which is tough with a baby!). 

How are you? 

Right now I'm feeling pretty tired… extremely tired, actually. I think I've passed the point of exhaustion but, somehow, I can still keep going. It's like I've developed a strange kind of 'mum energy'. I have no idea where I'm getting it from! Apart from that, I'm beyond happy most of the time as Olive really is the love of my life and I can't be anything but happy with her around. 

How does a typical day go?

Our day starts when Olive wakes up, which is usually between 7 and 8am. Olive and I usually hang out in bed for a bit having breakfast (cereal for me; milk for her) whilst Mark takes Odin for a walk before work. Then Olive and I get up and get washed and dressed.

We have a few activities that we do regularly each week; on Monday morning we go to our local children's centre for the 'Bambi's' breastfeeding support group. Essentially it's just lots of mums sitting round drinking tea and chatting whilst the babies play on the floor. It's great as you can bring up any issues you’re having, get some good advice and tips, and I've met some lovely mums. 

On Wednesday mornings we have just started going to a story and rhyme session where I get to sing and dance like an idiot whilst Olive sits there looking confused! And on Friday mornings we usually go to the Walker Art Gallery in the city centre for their parent and baby session. Our afternoons are usually spent walking the dog, meeting friends, seeing Mark for lunch or trying to do the mountains of laundry and washing up that seem to pile up. 

I usually spend the time between 5 and 6.30pm trying to keep Olive awake and entertained on her play-gym before her bedtime routine, whilst I shamefully catch up on last night's episode of Hollyoaks. By that point I usually feel like a bit of a zombie. Mark doesn't get home from work until 7.30pm, by which point Olive is already in bed. That really sucks, and I know he misses seeing her a lot. I don't get a chance to cook before then so we usually make dinner together and catch up on our days before laying on the sofa and falling asleep. I'm usually asleep by 9.30pm. 

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

I love a good hot bath and will sometimes have one in the evening once Olive is in bed. I also love Yoga and did a lot of Ashtanga before I was pregnant. I had to stop because of the sickness and my hip problems but I’ve started doing it at home again. I've not managed to get back to class yet as Mark's not home in time in the evening (and I'm usually too tired anyway) but hopefully I'll be able to soon. 


How was your pregnancy?

To be honest, I did not enjoy being pregnant at all! I had awful sickness 24/7 until I was 19 weeks pregnant. Then from the beginning of my second trimester I had pretty bad Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) and terrible reflux. Luckily, Olive was happy in there (too happy in fact - she didn't want to come out). It's very strange now that I'm not pregnant anymore, and I actually really miss my bump! 
Olive was 8 days late.
How was your labour?

I ended up being induced as I went overdue, which I was disappointed about as I'd really wanted a water birth. My induction experience was pretty full on; I had to have two pessaries as the first did nothing after six hours, but I started contracting very quickly and strongly after the second. I was having one minute long contractions three minutes apart from the start until I delivered, and was in labour for about eight hours in total. After the first four hours of contractions I was only one centimetre dilated so my midwife broke my waters for me and put me on the hormone drip. I'm not sure whether it was because I was induced or if I was just a wimp but at that point I was finding the contractions incredibly hard to cope with and cried when she said I was still only one centimetre dilated, so I promptly asked for an epidural. I was told the anaesthetist was in surgery (how could there only be one?) so had to wait, and opted for Diamorphine to keep me going. At that point I remember singing along to Fleetwood Mac and talking about gin & tonic! By the time the anaesthetist arrived, two hours later, I was fully dilated so it was too late for an epidural and Olive was born two hours after that!

Did you have any cravings?

I had some very weird ones: ice, toothpaste, chewing gum and, most bizarre of all, sponges (just chewing, not eating)! Turns out I actually had PICA which was caused by being anaemic.

How did you decide on your baby’s name?

I have really loved the name Olive for years. Although we did consider some others too it was always at the top of my list, and luckily Mark liked it as well. We wanted to wait until the little one arrived before we decided for definite, and when she came out it just seemed to fit!
Oven fresh.


Does your baby have a feeding routine?

I breast feed Olive on demand and have just tried to go with the flow. That did mean having to stop and feed anywhere and everywhere in the early days when she wanted feeding hourly, but she's now gotten herself into a bit of a routine of feeding three-hourly during the day; five feeds in the day and two at night in total. Usually her first feed is about half an hour after she wakes up and her last day-time feed is at 7pm. 

I have tried, so far unsuccessfully, to get Olive to take a bottle of expressed milk. She usually cries and looks at me as if I'm crazy. I've been given some tips to try so I'm going to persist as I know how much Mark wants to feed her, and it would also be nice to have a break and do something crazy like leave her with granny and grandad so I can go to the hairdressers! 

Does your baby have a nap/ sleep routine?

I have to say, I feel we have been incredibly lucky when it comes to sleeping. When Olive was first born I had to wake her up at night to feed her. Now she usually sleeps from 7.30pm ‘til anywhere between midnight and 2am, when she wakes up for a quick feed. She then wakes again between 3-5am for another quick feed, then back to sleep again until between 7-8am. I also put it down to the fact we bought a Cocoonababy from John Lewis for her to sleep in. It's supposed to make your baby sleep for longer, so naturally I bought it without hesitation - sleep is VERY important to me! We've now transitioned her to a regular mattress as she was outgrowing her cocoon. We did have a few disturbed nights at first but, thankfully, things seem to have gone back how they were before. We also have a co-sleeping crib which sits alongside the bed. I love it because I can just reach over and get her in the night without having to get up, and I like the security of having her right next to me. 

A bedtime routine is the only routine I've actively put in place for Olive. Bath at 6.30pm, followed by massage and nursery rhymes then fed to sleep at 7pm. 

Olive's doesn't really have a day time sleeping routine. She usually has a nap anywhere between 1.5-3 hours after she's woken up in the morning for about an hour. After that I just take cues from her as to when she's tired. If we're at home I'll put her down in her crib and if we're out she either sleeps in the car, her pram or in my arms.

How do you entertain your baby?

Olive is very chatty and loves it when anyone talks to her. She makes so many funny faces it kills me. I do spend a ridiculous amount of time talking in silly voices and trying to make her laugh. She's also pretty nosey and loves sitting up (with help) and looking around. Unfortunately she seems to have found the TV, and stares at it hypnotically if it's on. She loves kicking her legs (especially with her nappy off) and is happy to kick away in her bouncy chair. 

Strike a pose, Olive!
Does your baby seem to suffer with anything and what do you do to help it?

When Olive was one week old we became concerned that she was sounding wheezy and on one occasion she seemed to be making more effort to breathe, so naturally we took her to A+E. She was fine, but it turns out she has a condition called 'Laryngomalacia' otherwise known as a floppy larynx. The doctor explained that the cartilage in her larynx was a little immature and 'floppy' so it makes her breathing sound more effortful. It's actually not a serious condition, and most babies grow out of it by the time they are a year old, only rarely does it require surgery. So she's being monitored by a paediatrician but hopefully all will be ok. It was still the scariest thing I have ever experienced, though, so I can't even imagine how awful it must be to have a child with a serious illness or disorder. 

Like me, Olive also has slightly shallow hip sockets. She had to wear double nappies at the moment and is being monitored for that as well. If it doesn't correct itself in the next month she'll have to wear a special harness for eight weeks, so fingers crossed that will be ok too.


What are your baby's favourite toys? 

Olive loves her play mat, especially the mirror on it and stares at herself in awe. She also loves her bouncy chair. Mark just bought her a ball that rolls around and plays songs and has flashing lights. I think she was a bit unsure at first but now she smiles at it and follows it around the room with her eyes. 

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?

This month I bought two lovely blankets from Lola & Stella on Etsy and a new mattress for her crib. Oh and also a swimming costume that looks like a watermelon…  I couldn't resist - it looks like a watermelon! 

What have been the most useful things you've bought or been given? 

My sister gave us loads, including her car seat and Moses basket, which was a great help because it saved a lot of money. The most useful thing I've bought, without doubt, is the Cocoonababy. I also bought a Puj bath from amazon. It's made of foam and sits in the sink and means I don't have to bend down when bathing Olive.  

What is your baby’s mode of transport?

We bought the Urbo 2 from Mamas & Papas. After narrowing it down, it was between that one and the Stokke Scoot. I was won over but the Donna Wilson print and tan leather trim! I also use a Solly baby wrap to carry Olive around in which I love. It came from the USA, though, so I ended up paying a lot in shipping and import tax but, I’ve decided it was worth it as it's so comfy and I think it’s pretty stylish too.

Nice wheels!


If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be? 

Sleep more in the first few weeks. I didn't nap during the day at first and by the end of the second week I was a total mess. In the end Mark physically took me up to bed, took my phone off me and closed the door so I had no choice but to sleep. I felt so much better after and after that made myself take a nap each day. That has kind of stopped now, but if I've had a busy day I try and make the effort to nap the day after. 

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?

Not to try and fit Olive into a structured routine and let one develop naturally. I saw my sister do that and it seemed very stressful (sorry Gemma). 

Thanks, Sarah! I love the sound of Olive's watermelon swimsuit... I want one for myself!

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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