Who are you?
I'm Emma, 25 years old and recently married to Jason! We've been together just over 5 years and own a 4 bedroom Victorian house in Margate; it's very much a work in progress right now! Our daughter, Matilda Isabelle, was born on the 30th January 2014 and we also have a 2 year old, very cheeky, Miniature Schnauzer called Buckley. I started a new full-time job as an assistant market planner for a model and hobby company after three months of maternity leave.
How are you?
Today I am very tired!! I went away for work on Thursday morning and came back yesterday evening, worked a 12 hour day on Saturday and a 14 hour day on Sunday! Arriving home last night to see Matilda's chubby smiling face was the best! Lately I've been second guessing a career decision I recently made, but being close to home so I get to spend more time with Matilda is what's important to me right now, especially as I started back at work so soon after having her.
How does a typical day go?
A typical day involves waking up at 7am, boiling the kettle for Matilda's bottle, getting ready for work and having breakfast if there is time! I don't really have a 'typical' day routine. Jason is home during the day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so things are a little more relaxed on these days. When I get home from work we quickly have dinner before Jason goes to work for the evening (he has a recording studio and rehearsal rooms for bands to practice in). This means I get to have Matilda to myself for a couple of hours before I put her to bed. Recently she's been a bit grouchy in the evenings due to her teething, but it's not too bad at the moment!
What do to relax?
I'll have a cup of tea, put Modern Family on and have a cuddle with Buckley. If the weather is good I'll do some gardening or go for a walk with Matilda to the beach if it's not too late. I also like to run, it takes a lot of energy to drag myself out the front door but I find it a great way to clear my mind and I always feel like I can tackle anything afterwards.
What do you do in your free time?
Next year I am taking part in and co-curating an exhibition, so if I have any free time I try to spend it planning for that. I love analogue photography and I'm currently working on some polaroid transfers for my exhibition. I also love to read, currently I am between Caitlin Moran's 'How To Be a Woman' and Oliver Sacks 'The Mind's Eye'.
How was your pregnancy?
The first 12 weeks for me weren't so great, I had really bad morning sickness. At 21 weeks I was in hospital with what felt like the worst pain ever in my back, but the hospital staff couldn't figure out what was wrong and sent me on my way. After that I took it fairly easy for the rest of my pregnancy. I really miss having a baby bump, and I used to love feeling Matilda wriggling about.
I didn't have any cravings as such but really loved salty food for a few months!
How was your labour?
I feel like I was very lucky with my labour. I started getting very faint contractions throughout the day on Weds 29th Jan, then got stronger through the night. I was worried I'd get sent home if we went to the hospital too soon, especially as my contractions were between 5-10 minutes apart. We finally left for the hospital at 2.45am, I was examined at 3.30am and was told I was 6cm dilated!! I couldn't believe it!! I got in the birthing pool shortly after for a couple of hours, got out and got back in again at around 8am. At 9.27am Matilda was born in the birthing pool. It was a very surreal experience, I barely knew what was happening, I'd had so much gas and air it had to be taken away from me. I'd do it all again tomorrow. It was just lots of things afterwards that were really horrible!
How did you decide on your baby’s name?
I've always loved the name Matilda, before I knew if I was having a girl or a boy, I knew that if I was having a girl she would be named Matilda!
Does your baby have a feeding routine?
Matilda doesn't have a strict feeding routine as such. She has 5 bottles of 7oz a day at approx 3 hourly intervals. She'll get fed whenever she is hungry which just so happens to be every 3 hours. One of the most frustrating things I have found are the comments I get from people whenever Matilda cries. 'Ohhh, she must be starving!' I know my baby and I certainly would never let her starve! I've also been told on several occasions (when she was less than 4 months old) that she needed to begin having solids. No way was that happening! I've learnt to just do what feels right and you know your baby better than anyone else.
How have you approached weaning?
I started Matilda on baby rice at around 5 months, giving her a couple of spoonfuls every few days just so she would get used to a different texture. She is now having Organix baby rice daily and we are starting to give her some Hipp Organic baby food. I did, and still do intend to try baby led weaning but working full time, getting home sorting dinner out before Jason has to go out to work doesn't leave me much time when it comes to food prep. I'm going to try foods like avocado, mango, cooked carrot etc. I am going to also puree broccoli, sweet potato, butternut squash and put in ice cube trays to try and be more organised and to have portions ready for meal times.
Does your baby have a sleep routine?
Matilda usually goes to bed around 7.30pm, after her last bottle of the day, and sleeps through the night until 7.30 - 8 the following morning. We are very fortunate that she has slept through the night from 4 weeks old. I don't know what we have done for this to happen, and I still think it's too good to be true, so I don't like to talk about it too much as I feel I am tempting fate!!
During the day she will have two naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, usually for an hour or so each time.
How do you keep your baby entertained?
Every morning Matilda is taken out for a walk in her pushchair with Buckley and again in the evening, usually to the beach or by some fields a short walk away from our house. She seems to love anything green. Every time we walk past trees, through woodland, fields etc she is mesmerised! I love that she loves nature already! (That's what I'm telling myself, even though I'm sure it's just the bright colours!) For the rest of the day we alternate between, bouncy chair, bumbo, play mat, depending on the mood Matilda is in. One thing that everybody seems to comment on is how much she moves her legs, nobody what we are doing together she is ALWAYS kicking her legs, even when it's 'quiet' time reading in the evenings.
When your baby is freaking out, how do you calm them down?
A couple of days after Matilda was born I discovered the Rain, Rain app. It works miracles!! So many different types of rain. When Matilda is a little grouchy and tired I put this on and she calms down and goes to sleep within a matter of minutes. I can't recommend it enough!
Does your baby seem to suffer with anything and what do you do to help it?
We are very fortunate that Matilda doesn't cry a lot, in the early days she had a bit of colic and would cry for a couple of hours every afternoon/evening but after about 3 months that passed. Now when she gets upset it's usually a process of elimination to find out what the problem is! If nothing seems to work then a walk around the garden usually does the trick. Either that, or I stick a record on and dance crazily around her bouncy that usually seems to cheer her up!
Does your baby have a favourite toy?
Sophie the Giraffe! Matilda also loves her Manhattan Toy Company 'Colour Burst Winkel Rattle'! (which seems inappropriately named?!)
What was your most recent baby related purchase?
Some squidgy bath sea creatures. Matilda loves having a bath, she looks a bit anxious as she is lowered into her baby bath seat, but after that she has a great time splashing around! Another recent baby purchase I made was a Mamas & Papas Christmas tree baby grow, I couldn't resist! I can't wait to see her toddling around in it at Christmas time!
What are your essentials when you go out?
What I bring with me depends on where I am going but, obviously, all the essentials; bottles, formula, nappies, spare clothes, etc. I take Sophie the Giraffe with me everywhere, along with some teething gel. Soft colourful building blocks are a recent favourite and so these often come with us too.
What has been the most useful thing you’ve bought or been given?
It has to be my maternity leaving present from work, a Baby EinsteinOcean Adventure play gym. Lots of sea creatures, a dangly octopus, mirror, music, it has occupied Matilda for many hours! I'm a bit sad that soon she will be too big for it!
What is your baby’s mode of transport?
I'm currently using a fox print Cosatto Supa Stroller, which I love! I also have a Chicco stroller which is slightly more light weight and a 'heavy weight' Mothercare travel system that we used when Matilda was teeny tiny.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
'You instinctively know what's best for your baby'. It sounds so pathetic but it really is true! Shortly after Matilda was born I was quite poorly with a womb infection and having a really hard time breastfeeding. I felt a lot of pressure at the time to breastfeed. Each time Matilda would start crying from hunger I'd dread having to try and move (as I was in a lot of pain) and whip out a boob for her. I decided after 5 days (some people may think 5 days isn't really trying, but I really did) that it was best for both Matilda and I that she would have a bottle. I've always thought that a happy mum equals a happy baby, and in this situation it was true! No more getting up every two hours each night to feed for up to an hour each time, whilst feeling like crap. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm pleased I made the decision to switch to a bottle so early on. I really admire any mum that can breastfeed, but it just wasn't for me with Matilda.
If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be?
Thank you for being so honest, Em! x
You can find Emma on Instagram and read her blog, Oh Home Sweet Home.