Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I heart Hannah Maggs

This post is really long. Sorry. If you make it to the end; thank you for reading!

I started this blog in June. I didn't tell anyone about it for a while as I wanted some time to 'myself' to reflect on, and write about, the pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and the giant lump I had on my face before starting on the 'fun' stuff.

The first person I did eventually tell was Sammi (not even Ruari), who was super supportive and encouraging and made me feel a million times better about going 'public' and just doing what I want to without caring about peoples' judgements. I had some reservations about putting myself out there as I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social networks, despite being a fairly heavy user (I obviously err mostly toward love) and have been known to delete various accounts and start all over again in the past.

Hannah 'Maggs' Michalak

Anyway, Sammi also told me about a young lady called Hannah Maggs and about how she read her blog and watched her videos on YouTube throughout her own pregnancy and, even since having Casey, she still reads and watches her stuff from time to time. I'd not heard of Hannah as I've never spent any time on YouTube except to watch the odd band here 'n' there and I'd taken an eighteen month hiatus from the blogging world so had lost all touch with what was going on. To be honest, for a long time I was too scared to look at the 'competition', preferring to just do my own thing and not look sideways for fear of what I might see (and the feeling of inadequacy I'd inevitably feel)- but my way of thinking has changed in recent weeks (and even days) and I eventually plucked up the courage very recently to open my eyes to what was going on out there, particularly in the parenting blogger world. And it's a wonderful, albeit intimidatingly talented place.

Hannah & Grayson

So, basically, Hannah 'Maggs' Michalak is kind of a big deal. She is stunningly yet naturally beautiful, instantly-likeable and super-honest. She and her husband, Stef, publish a video blog or 'vlog' (you can tell my age by the use of my inverted commas there - not that I'm really that old but in the digital world normal years seem to be like dog years) every Sunday evening about their lives as new parents to baby Grayson who is eight months old. Longest sentence ever, sorry. Each multi-camera vlog is incredibly well produced and edited (increasingly so as weeks go by, and better than most TV shows, in my opinion) and clearly a lot of time and effort goes into every single one. I get the impression from Hannah's Twitter that it takes Stef all of Sunday to edit them in time for the evening's release, and I also read online somewhere that Stef used to take two days off from work a week to edit them, but I'm not sure if he still does that. Having only relatively recently discovered Hannah, I've not watched all of her vlogs but I do enjoy watching them if and when I have a mo. In fact they have recently become part of my Sunday night routine; pause X-Factor, watch Hannah's latest vlog then fastforward past X-Factor's commercials.


Their vlogs aim to show what it's really like to be new parents and, although I've not watched them yet, Hannah did a weekly pregnancy update all throughout her, well, pregnancy. If her latest vlogs are anything to go by then I'm sure they were really honest about everything that she experienced (in her latest blog she tells of her period pain and in her last one she went bra shopping). She's also vlogged about things like hypnobirthing, what's in her changing bag, baby's first bath, baby spa dates, baby boy shopping hauls and breastfeeding troubles.

Hannah is 25 years old and used to be a make-up artist but she is now a full time mum and vlogger, which I imagine comes with great responsibility in itself and is even signed to a management company (Gleam Futures) which looks after the hottest social talent out there (yeah, that's a thing now and proves my point about digital dog years). Since starting her vlog Hannah has founded her label Maggs of London where she sells a range of handmade make-up bags made from fabrics she has personally sourced, and they seem to be selling like the hottest of hot cakes judging by the bin bags full of bags she takes to the post office in her vlogs and the 'sold out' stamps on the website.

Zoella & Grayson

Hannah, who started out by writing a beauty blog, credits Stef for encouraging her to start making beauty video tutorials, and when she fell pregnant it seemed only natural to document the pregnancy by video too, if only for their own memoirs. But when YouTube's first lady, Zoella (hello, SIX MILLION subscribers!), linked to Hannah's vlog earlier this year it changed everything for them, and since then Hannah's vlogs have grown in popularity week on week and she currently has 137,772 subscribers to her channel!

Stef features in every 'episode' that I've watched and seems to have quite a few fans in his own right. He is clearly very talented (his editing has set the YouTube bar very high) and charismatic too, and is the founder of a social bookmarking site called Wantfeed. He and Hannah make a lovely couple and their joint pursuit of Hot Yoga has also been mentioned in all of the recent episodes that I've watched which I think is awesome that they do together. I also really love that they do 'blackout nights' where they do not watch TV or go online from 7pm til 7am and instead just watch box sets and spend quality time together doing things like scrap-booking and playing boardgames which I think is a great idea and is something that Ruari and I are thinking of doing.

Stef & Grayson

Grayson also features heavily in the vlogs, obviously, as the point of their videos is to be able to show them to him when he's older. He is an absolute cutie pie and is a baby fashion trendsetter, Baby Sensory frequenter (yeahhh!) and has been known to store massive pieces of broccoli in his mouth for a really, really, long time! He also has his meals in just his nappy to save the amount of stain removal Hannah has to do, which is totally something I am going to do with Joseph when he starts eating properly. I think he is mostly Baby-Led-Weaned but I'm not sure.

Grayson & Sophie!

I've gathered that Hannah's life hasn't been straight-forward judging from comments I've seen saying she has been through a lot for her years so deserves every success, but I'm yet to find out what those things are and I hope that they aren't as bad as I'm imagining.

Anywho, her vlogs are a pleasure to watch and I totally recommend you watch them too, especially if you're expecting or are a new parent. Or even if you're neither of those things. I wish I'd discovered her sooner or whilst I was pregnant, mostly because it'd mean I'd have less videos to try and catch up on now!

I think Grayson is mostly baby-led weaned

Back to the 'competition' I mentioned. I've never been competitive and I think with parenting blogging, it's about making or documenting memories you can look back on in years to come. I am happy for anyone who has managed to make money from blogging about parenting, particularly those who can now afford to work from home and not have to leave their babies. I also encourage anyone who is trying to do that, or those who are happy documenting their lives and celebrating the lives of their children. Personally I really enjoy writing, even though my grammar sucks. I kept diaries as a nipper and all throughout my teens and early twenties which turned into a blog and I regret not writing for the last 18 months. I am happy to be doing my own thing and do not expect anything to come from blogging, especially financially although of course that would be handy but I know that it only happens to a few. As a 'parenting blogger', I am rubbish at being consistent and writing things like monthly updates, even though I think they are a fantastic idea and will be amazing to look back on in the future. I wish I'd done them from the start, in fact, but due to having only started this blog when Joseph was almost three months old and not realising that was a 'thing' until recently, I was a bit too late! I do hope that my posts may be of some use to someone out there who perhaps experienced the things that I did throughout pregnancy, or just in life. Something else that makes me happy which has come from blogging, or rather from me sharing and hash-tagging endless pictures of Joseph online, is being part of a community of mums on Instagram who have made my maternity leave so much fun aside from the joy that Joseph brings me every day, although I am also sorry to my friends who are bombarded with my #babyspam every day, but I thank you for sticking with me!

Sorry for rambling (my old blog was called Ramble, Ramble, Ramble which you won't find, if for some crazy reason you might want to, because I've deleted it). The moral of the post: Go check out Hannah!

Hannah's blog posts and vlogs of note:
Why I make YouTube videos
Birthing video
Pregnancy summary
Why it's ok not to breastfeed

And sooooo, so many more!

Hannah's Vlog
Hannah's Blog
Hannah's Twitter: @hannahmaggs22
Hannah's Instagram: @magsy24
Maggs of London Makeup bags

P.S. I had considered contacting Hannah to take part in Mummy Time but I think all of my questions are most likely answered in her vlogs!

P.P.S. I hope Hannah doesn't mind that I've used her photos without permission! If you happen to see this Hannah and you do mind, I'll remove them if you'd prefer.

P.P.P.S. If anyone does check out Hannah because of this blog, I'd be intrigued to hear from you!

I'll shut up now. x

Ok, last thing....


Monday, 29 September 2014

Baby-led weaning: Day #1

After another morning of being made to feel uncomfortable whilst I eat my breakfast due to Joseph's beady eyes staring at my every mouthful, licking and chewing his lips and mimicking my chewing motions, not to mention the vast amounts of drool, I decided to call his bluff and offer him some food. Spoiler alert: He folded.

I'd worked myself up into a bit of a panic about weaning last week, but after asking my Insta-pals this question and taking some time to really read the Baby Led Weaning website and the first bit of Annabel Karmel's Quick and Easy Weaning, which I'd borrowed from the library, I felt much better about things. 

I decided that banana and avocado would be Joseph's first foods, but then when I saw a nice packet of organic carrots yesterday I thought they'd be good to try too if they're steamed a bit to soften them. I really hope Joseph eats them because I really hate carrots and I bought a big ol' bag of them... They don't do organic singles in Morrisons, annoyingly. I don't normally buy organic stuff as it's quite a bit more expensive, but I'd like to keep the number of pesticides and chemicals Joseph eats to a minimum if I can.

Whilst generally satisfied on milk (no night waking and not eating huge amount), Joseph has definitely been showing signs of being ready for food; The aforementioned interest in whatever I'm eating or drinking and mimicking of my expressions, plus he has been sitting up unaided 'part-time' (i.e. when he can be bothered) since around 19 weeks old (a pre-requisite of Baby Led Weaning or 'BLW'). However, at five and a quarter months (23 weeks) Joseph is slightly under the age recommended that babies should eat solids by the government and World Health Organisation, which is six months old.

I've been in two minds as to whether to wean him yet - part of me can't wait to see his face, but the other wants to wait 'til six months. However, I have figured that I am going to let him explore foods for himself whilst he is still 'under age' and Annabel Karmel's book (which isn't about BLW) recommends giving babies their first tastes at 24 weeks. I've decided to go down the Baby Led Weaning route for now - offering pieces of food which aren't mushed or pureed - and letting him feed himself if he wants to. I am going to try not to worry too much about how much he is eating for now due to his age - he still has iron reserves (babies' iron levels start to deplete at around six months) and he's going to get the majority of his calories from milk until he is well established on solids. I am not going to be super-super strict about BLW and I might give him some purees if it doesn't seem to be working out for us, but for now I'm going to give this a shot.

So this morning, about twenty minutes after his milk, I offered him some banana. At first I floated a plate in front of his face with a couple of slices of it on whilst he was sat on the sofa (expecting him to just reach for a piece and nom it like a Ferrero Rocher) but he just wanted to eat the plate. Then I sat him in his Bumbo and put the banana on his play tray and he pushed it around for a bit. I then remembered that he's meant to have a bib on, so I grabbed a weaning bib that had been bought for him but then he just wanted to eat that. I offered him a few 'types' of banana; sliced into two sizes, a mushed piece, and a big bit of 'end' still in its skin. He had a go at picking up the mushed bit, but it didn't make it into his mouth, and he enjoyed playing with the skin before chucking it on the floor. I tried the big end bit of the banana on its side and 'standing up' but, again, he just pushed it around a bit. After about fifteen minutes of him mostly eating his bib and no banana actually making it into his gob, he started to get bored; he sighed and started sucking his thumb- so I ate his banana for him and let him play on his play gym. He is now napping. 

Tomorrow, we will try again. Please eat the carrots, Joseph!

P.S. Here's a little video clip with the banana skin! I'm not a videographer, clearly!

(Click here to be taken to YouTube if it's not working)


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Pic of the week: #7

This was the best.hug.everrrrrrr (for me anyway... Joseph was clearly unimpressed!) It felt like one of my teddies had come to life to give me a cuddle. Ruari had to tell me to stop grinning so hard so he could get a good picture without my horrible teeth in it! Hahaaa! 


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Diary of an expressing mum: #6


I am feeling 10000% better than I was in my last diary post. Thank you so, so, much to those who got in touch - it really meant a lot.

I had another sleepless-due-to-anxiety night that night but after looking up some positive affirmations for the new 'mom' (they are really American but some might help if you're having parenting anxieties) and going to Baby Sensory, I spent the afternoon with my mum in the shop that she volunteers in, and then went to the library. I borrowed a few books on weaning and one 'wildcard' called Challenging Depression and Despair by Angela Patmore. I've only read the first five chapters so far (they are short) and it's clear that Angela takes a hard-arse approach to depression; in fact she has been labelled a 'heartless bitch' by the New Statesman, however her book on stress was shortlisted for the MIND Book Of The Year in 2007, so take from that what you will.

I have a history with depression - most of my immediate family have suffered with it / are suffering and my own depression caused me to drop out of university in my final year. I was so consumed by self-doubt, criticism and loathing that I couldn't read or write a sentence, yet I was so desperate to be the 'perfect' student and nothing but a 'First' in everything I did would do. After some expensive counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and a load of Prozac I went on to work in the field that I'd studied for (albeit not the most exciting industry, heh) and I finally moved in with Ruari after six years together; and that's sort of where I feel like life really began for me. That was four years ago and, whilst I think I'm in a better place overall, it's not been plain sailing in my mind and I only stopped taking Prozac when I found out I was pregnant.

Anyway, this book just takes another view on depression which I've not really encountered before, not that I've read a lot into depression itself, and I am keen to read more as, to be honest, I wasn't a million miles away from asking my GP whether I could be reunited with my old friend, Prozac.

I was drawn to the book because I don't want to be negative or tearful in front of Joseph, especially when he's older and more aware of things. This book has reminded that being a bit sad is ok, and normal, and doesn't mean that there's something wrong with me. However, I think I need to address my 'everything I've ever done/ am doing is rubbish, wrong, stupid, oh and I'm a shit and boring person' attitude as, even though I'm feeling better, there's a part of me that thinks this is only temporary and that it's only a matter of time before I 'slip' again. But I think it's a good thing that I can even recognise that because before I dropped out of uni, I couldn't.

What has this post got to do with expressing breast milk? Well, nothing so far as I went off on a tangent, but I've come to the decision to stop pumping in the afternoons. I started (or stopped, rather) yesterday as we were out all day for a family wedding and there wasn't an opportunity, nor did I particularly want to as my current pump is uncomfortable (my right nipple is suffering particularly which, interestingly, is the same boob that hurt more when Joseph was feeding from me). Plus I had planned to stop pumping completely at six months anyway and I think dropping one session at a time is probably the best way to do it. My boobs were solid, sore and engorged when I did eventually pump in the evening but I think that will ease in time.

Joseph is really snuffly and sleepy today (he's having his third nap right now which is very unlike him) and he spent most of yesterday sneezing so I'm a bit worried he has another cold on the way. We're currently in bed and I'm about to make some lunch.

Love to you all xxx

P.S. Here's a shameless bathroom selfie- I liked my outfit yesterday. And, yeah, I'm holding a muslin.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Mummy Time #10: Megan Smith

This week Mummy Time is all about Megan, aka @masmith, whose gorgeous baby boy (with his enviable nursery) was just over ten weeks at the time she wrote this. I hope you enjoy.... (I just had to look up whether to use 'whose' or 'who's'... I'm still not sure I got it right. Feel free to enlighten me! Also, I got to choose photos for this post from Megan's Instagram and there were just too many good ones to choose from!)


Who are you?

I'm Megan, a 26 year old first time mum! I live in Sheffield although my hometown is Grimsby. I've been with my boyfriend, Marc for just under five years. We bought our first house which we moved into in May which has been stressful  as it was four weeks before my due date! We had plenty to do before baby arrived after ripping out the kitchen and stripping our bedroom bare and it's an ongoing project. I have a baby boy, Albert, who was born on 17th June 2014 and two cats, Pippa and Kima.

What do you do for a living?

I'm a Children's Social Worker in Chesterfield where I have been for five years. It can be an upsetting and difficult job but the majority of the time I enjoy working with some awesome kids, trying to make their life a little easier and more enjoyable!

How long do you plan to take for maternity leave?

I plan on having a year off work and go back in April. I'm already worrying about Albie going to nursery as we don't live near either of our families for help with childcare.

How are you?

Generally I feel great and being a mummy to Albie makes me so happy! I usually feel tired even though Albie sleeps amazingly well for a ten week old baby, but I've always loved my sleep. There have been times when I've cried and struggled but usually this is when he's having a growth spurt or I'm having an off day.

What do you do to relax?

I love an uninterrupted bath or pottering about in the garden. I also like having the odd day just snuggling Albie, watching a TV series and not leaving the house.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

Worry about Albie and think about how much I miss him... Even if he is just asleep in bed. So ridiculous and hoping I won't be this neurotic forever! I have only left him once or twice but imagine when I do it will be to see my friends in the evenings. 

How does a typical day go?

Albie usually wants to get up when Marc's alarm goes off around 7am and we snuggle in bed whilst Marc gets ready for work. Or if I've had a rough night Marc will take Albie downstairs whilst I get an extra hour before he goes to work. Albie is all smiles as soon as he wakes up- it's my favourite time of the day with him. We usually spend the next few hours playing and feeding until he naps allowing me to get ready for the day. We usually go for a walk, run errands or see friends during the day! We are due to start Sing and Sign and Water Babies swimming lessons, as well as baby groups now the summer holidays are over, which I'm excited about. I've also started a postnatal exercise class twice a week which Albie comes along to! When Marc gets home from work around 5.30pm we usually have time playing with Albie in between his evening cluster feeding or go for a walk. Then bedtime routine starts at 7.30pm. 


How was your pregnancy?

I had a really good pregnancy, I had sickness in my first trimester but it was manageable. I loved my bump although by 40 weeks I was definitely ready for him to arrive.

Did you have any cravings?

Aldi ice pops… still crave them now! I had crumpets for breakfast pretty much my whole pregnancy too although I always denied they were a craving.

Did you find out what you were having?

Yes, far too impatient to wait and felt I could bond even more with him knowing his gender! I loved buying clothes for him too.

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

Albert is named after Marc's grandfather, who is an amazing man and is very significant to Marc. I loved the name Albie and we were 99% sure we would call him that before he arrived. His middle name is Luca, this was a name we both really liked and was a contender for first name but it was agreed Luca Layfield sounded ridiculous.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?

I read up on natal hypnotherapy and listened to the music regularly as I was keen to use hypnobirthing after a close friend found it really helpful for labour. I also attended a Lazy Daisy course which also included a couple session in preparation for the birth. I really enjoyed the weekly session after work where I could relax and meet other mums to be. It taught a lot of the breathing exercises which I used in labour as well as positions to get into to help dilate and get baby in the "optimal position" which unfortunately didn't help me!

How was your labour?

I had prepared myself for worse case scenarios but still felt slightly traumatised initially by Albie's birth. I went into labour on Saturday afternoon and continued in early labour until Monday. My hind waters broke on the Sunday night but I was only 2cm. I was having regular contractions the whole time so sleep was impossible but the pain was manageable. My contractions stopped on the Monday morning after only getting to 3cm so by 3pm they started planning for an induction due to risk of infection with my waters breaking. At 5pm they broke my main waters which kicked everything off and I quickly got to 5cm with breathing, birth music and then gas & air (total fan of the stuff). I then went in the birth pool which was amazing and by midnight I was 7cm but the pain in my back was getting unbearable. At this point my body began pushing and they realised he was back to back. I had to get out the water for them to check and then I lost control of the pain turning into a mad woman. After pleading for an epidural the midwife gave me Pethidine which made me feel sick and completely out of it. Once I had reached 10cm I was pushing for an hour and a half, thankfully the doctor came along with her forceps and a few minutes later he arrived at 3.38am on the Tuesday with a mental shaped head! Both me and Albie we're drowsy and tired, Marc was exhausted too. I couldn't lift him or keep my eyes open to hold him until later in the day which really upset me and I think was the traumatising part.


How did you get on with breastfeeding?

Albie wouldn't wake to feed on his first day so we stayed overnight to establish feeding. He latched on one side but we struggled with the other.. After two days of feeding off one side and expressing off the other to get milk supply up (and prevent one Pamela Anderson boob) I decided to try nipple shields. He feed really well with them and was gaining loads of weight but I struggled to wean him off as he still wouldn't latch on one side. We've made it to 11 weeks with them but the last few days I've felt he hasn't been as settled after a feed and just doesn't seem full. I got him weighed and his growth has also slowed down so I've made the decision to introduce formula feeds and hope to carry one with one or two breast feeds a day if he is happy and healthy enough! I need to stop putting pressure on myself and feel happy I've got to eleven weeks but currently finding it hard as I wanted breastfeeding to work so bad.

Does you baby have a feeding routine?

During the day he tends to feed on demand with no particular pattern which is another reason I think bottle feeding will be better as I struggle with the lack of routine. He currently had 7oz formula feed just before bed.

Does your baby have a nap/ sleep routine?

His bedtime routine is bath, massage, bottle, story and bed by 8.30pm with Ewan the Dream Sheep! Daytime naps are in no routine really but usually he's ready about 9.30am and has a big nap around 3pm but this is a work in progress!

How do you keep your baby entertained?

He loves his Baby Einstein "Rhythm of the Reef" play gym so he spends time on their either entertaining himself or with us playing too. He cries when the turtles music stops. We sing a lot and I pull ridiculous faces trying to get him to smile and babble which he likes.

When you're baby's freaking out what do you find helps to calm them down?

A cuddle and his dummy!

Have you taken your baby on any holidays?

We've stayed at both our parents for a few days at a time from him being two weeks old. He usually sleeps in the car once it's going but we stop for a break when visiting Durham as it's a long time for him in his car seat. One of us sits in the back with him too for peace of mind. He sleeps really well in his travel cot and we used his pram carry cot when he was smaller so never had a problem with his sleep times. 


Does your baby have a favourite toy?

Definitely his play gym! 

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?

More clothes for him, which he doesn't need! Also got him a thicker Grobag now the weather is cooler and a Splash About Happy Nappy for his swimming class. I'm currently looking at bigger play mats for him for once he's more mobile too.

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

There's lots, but most useful are the Isofix base for the car seat, play gym and plastic bath seat.

What is your baby’s mode of transport?

Quinny buzz pram with carry cot, which I'm really happy with. I also have a Solly Baby Wrap which I really like but Albie has to be in the right mood for it. He is too nosey when he is awake so gets frustrated being restrained in a sling, but he sleeps really well in it when we're out and about. I'm thinking of getting an Ergobaby Sling for Christmas for when he's six months.

What are your baby essentials when you go out?

Nappies, wipes, dummies, nipple shields, change of clothes for Albie, muslins and one or two toys.


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

Have some time as a family for a few days when you get home from hospital before having the visitors start. And try not to be so hard in myself if things don't work out as I envisaged.

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

Get a bedtime routine introduced early on!

Thank you for sharing, Megan!

P.S. Here's the nursery! Well, part of it...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Diary of an expressing mum: #5

Firstly, I'm really sorry for the word heaviness (and emotional weight) of this post and, also, the lack of recent/relevant imagery - I left my iphone cable at my mum's house today and my phone is dead. I feel like I've lost a hand- sad, eh?

Last night I barely got any sleep, not because Joseph kept me up, but because I have been feeling an overwhelming sense of inadequacy for the past few days and last night it was at its peak. I haven't felt that/this bad since I decided to stop breastfeeding 'from source'. I couldn't bring myself to leave the house all weekend and I numbed myself by watching endless episodes of Friends and binging on ice cream and Nutella/ anything bad I could get my hands on. Joseph was still under my care, aside from a 30 minute walk that Ruari took him on when he got home from band practise on Sunday, and I now feel guilty for not taking him somewhere. I sung to him a lot over the weekend and gave him loads of cuddles and play time but I suppose my darkest thoughts were along the lines of feeling sorry that Joseph loves me/ has me for a mother as I feel like I've failed him for not being better at, well, everything. The 'I should have done x, y, z instead of a,b,c' thoughts come back and I regret every decision I've ever made, like, ever and feel like if I'd have gone down another path I'd be happier/ more successful/ better off. Then it comes full circle and you feel bad for feeling like that because what I do have isn't at all bad, and my heart breaks for Joseph that I'm not this super-happy-crazy-enthusiastic-high-on-life kind of person. I just hope that he can't sense my low days. I had to make a quick exit from a baby group this morning and cried all the way to my car. I've felt tearful all day but have been trying to focus my energies on things that I think will make me better in the ways that I think I should be.
The ice cream I ate wasn't home made, but I liked this sign I saw in my village a while back.

Enough with the misery which I hope will subside soon; In other news, my breast pump has given up on me... Yeah, the power cable started sparking and then smoking whilst I was using it the other night (I had noticed the plug 'head' was always really warm to touch but I didn't think too much of it) and even after trying a new power cable on it, it still doesn't work. I am going to buy some batteries tomorrow to check that the motor hasn't gone, but Ruari suspects it has especially if it was still on when I unplugged the smoking cable- which I think it was. When I saw the smoke I just panicked and, in hindsight, touching the plug probably wasn't the best idea. In the meantime I've been using my single electric pump meaning that pumping is taking twice as long and there is a lot more boob-milk mess due to the other boob leaking whilst one is being pumped and, I never realised before but, this pump is really quite uncomfortable to use even on the lowest setting. With heavy heart I had planned to stop pumping at six months anyway but if my double pump really has had it then I might consider stopping sooner because spending twice the amount of time I was on pumping just isn't really feasible.

This photo of Joseh & Ruari on holiday melts my heart.

Weaning (introducing solid food) has been weighing heavily on my mind since Joseph is steaming towards six months old already. I'm confused over whether to go down the Baby Led Weaning route (giving baby exactly what you eat but cut up into sticks/ shapes that they can hold in their hands to explore and feed themselves with) vs 'traditional' purees and I had, in fact, thought that I'd do a bit of both as that's what some of my friends have done but, really, what I need to do is spend more time weighing up the pros and cons of both because, to be honest, a lot of what I know about weaning is just from what I've heard rather than from doing my own research; The two baby recipe books I've bought both assume you're pureeing and don't give suggestions or information on alternative ways to wean. It seems like whether you 'BLW' or not, avocado and banana are a good start. The extra 'hurdle', I guess, is that I am vegetarian and Ruari's a part time vegetarian - therefore most of what Joseph will eat will be vegetarian but, as I am what I call a junk-food veggie (think Quorn and Linda McCartney) as opposed to a wholesome home-made beans & lentils kind of veggie, I need to be super careful because a lot of what I eat isn't suitable for baby bellies (mostly due to the salt content, I believe) so I really need to change my ways... and soon because time is ticking incredibly quickly. I have found a few useful resources for vegan BLW just from looking today, so I feel relieved that there is some information out there. I will share my findings on here ASAP.
Pyjama day with Grandma a few weeks ago.

Going back to work is another thing that scares the b'jesus out of me; Who is going to look after Joseph? How will it work out logistically? Am I still cut out for my job; Have I lost all of my skills? When should I go back? On what terms should I go back? How will it work? How will I cope? How will Joseph cope? What will life be like?
Whilst my mum is more than willing to take Joseph when I go back to work, she has been really ill for a number of years and is still on extremely strong medication which makes her very drowsy and confused so, even with the best will in the world, I would worry that if something were to happen, well, what would happen. Ruari's mum would probably have him too, but she is 30 minutes in the opposite direction for us, and childcare is crazy-expensive so, again, I really need to sit down and do the maths and figure out what will work best. I think I need to start some Keeping In Touch days with work to ease some of my anxiety but I can't do those until I've stopped pumping. I am tempted to arrange a date as soon as Joseph is six months old, but what if stopping pumping doesn't go as planned and I find myself pumping longer?

Joseph's mathematical pyjamas.
If you've made it to the end of this post; thank you so, so, much and I'd really love to hear from you;
email: onthechangingmat@gmail.com
instagram: @onthechangingmat
twitter: @nickohlaa
Or comment below.

So much love,
Nicki xxx

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Friday, 19 September 2014

Joseph's current routine

At five months old, this is what Joseph's routine's been like lately:
  • 7.30am - We're usually woken up by the sound of Joseph blowing raspberries in his cot! Ruari gets him out of bed and changes his nappy. They have a bit of play time together before Joseph has his milk.
  • 8am - breakfast; 3-6oz of breast milk. Joseph has more play time on his play gym whilst Ruari gets ready for work. I usually get up at around 8.30am and begin expressing. 
  • 9am-ish - This is the only time that Joseph always has a little nap. It usually lasts for about half an hour and he naps on his play gym.
  • 11.30am - second breakfast; 4-6oz of breast milk. Sometimes Joseph naps after this feed (certainly if we're driving somewhere).
  • 3pm - lunch; 4-6oz formula. Sometimes Joseph will have another little nap, again, certainly if he's been driven home from somewhere in the car.
  • 6pm - tea; 7oz breast milk & 5oz formula (Joseph has a ginormous feed at this time!)
  • 7.15pm - Joseph is usually in bed and asleep by this time.
  • 11.30pm-ish - dreamfeed; 5oz breastmilk
Joseph has stopped his recent stint of night waking which we thought may have been four month sleep regression - phew. Only in the last week or so have we been giving him the dreamfeed later (11.30pm rather than 11pm) meaning that all of these times are currently 30 minutes later than they used to be. I actually think that a 7am start worked better for us so we might move that feed back to 11pm meaning that I can get to bed a bit earlier too. As Joseph has seemed less interested in his morning feed lately, I wonder whether it might be time to drop the dream feed altogether, but I'm a bit reluctant as, for now, he's so wonderfully predictable and I'm scared of losing sleep! On a side-note, I've been craving exercise lately (very unlike me) but I'm thinking that I could get some in at 6am when Joseph's still asleep.... Pah! Who am I kidding?! Actually, I'm going to save up all the sleep I can as it could all change soon; one of my friends with a six month old is waking up half-hourly at the moment. Gahh!!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mummy Time #9: Lyndsay Buchanan

Series two of Mummy Time will mostly feature mums that I only know of through Instagram. There's a great community of mamas on there who share some of the most wonderful snapshots of their lives, but, nosey as I am, I want to know more! First up is the lovely @Lyndsay_Buchanan with the sweet Hamish who has turned one since Lyndsay filled this in, and should totally be featured in an ad campaign for Heinz (you'll see what I mean)!


Who are you?

My name is Lyndsay, I'm 24 and originally from Scotland. I now live in Warwickshire, England, with my partner, Nick, and our little boy, Hamish. Hamish was born on 3rd September 2013, five weeks before his due date.

What do you do for a living?

I used to manage the shop & admissions at a well-known art gallery, it was quite a stressful job so left when I was 12 weeks pregnant. I now run an online clothing business with my Dad! We sell vintage-style dresses on eBay (Milk Moon Vintage) and Amazon and do local vintage fairs where we also throw in a whole heap of genuine vintage items too.

How long did you take for maternity leave?

I had about seven months off overall; I stopped working about a month before Hamish was born as my feet were too swollen to really move!

How did you feel when you returned to work and how did it change things?

I used to just work from home, but now I work from my parents’ house three days a week. Our business has grown quite significantly since Hamish arrived, so there is more space for stock and more hands to look after him if I'm at my parents. It's difficult getting work done with him around, but I'm not quite ready for nursery yet.

How are you?

TIRED! I know everyone jokes about how little sleep you'll get with a baby, but I don't think you can really understand how exhausting it is until you're living it. But apart from that, very happy!

What do you do to relax?

I've just started learning calligraphy, it's surprisingly therapeutic. I love getting hooked on a good TV series, I've just finished Orange is the New Black - it was amazing! A nice bath is always relaxing, but Hamish is a light sleeper, and with the bathroom next door to his room, I can't risk it when he's asleep!

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

Usually clean, or try and get some work done. It's amazing how satisfying cleaning is when you don't have a small person crawling round your ankles causing havoc.

How does a typical day go?

Our day usually starts between 5-6am, I sit and cuddle Hamish for a while or give him a bottle if he's not had one during the night. I change his nappy and we go downstairs for breakfast. If it's a day I'm working, we get ready to go out and try to leave the house by 9am as he is ready for a nap by then. If I'm not working, we play and take it easy until nap time, which is when I get myself ready for the day.

If I'm working it's a battle of trying to get stuff done and play with Hamish all at once. My Mum finishes work early afternoon so is usually around to look after him for a couple of hours. We go home about 4:30pm for a quick play with Dad, dinner, bath and sleep.

If we're having a day off we take it quite easy, I try to get some housework done, there's usually food shopping thrown in there, I try to do something fun for Hamish - even if it's just a quick walk down to the park, he's very nosy and enjoys being out and about.

Hamish & his dad, Nick


How was your pregnancy?

Pregnancy was tough for me. In 2012 I had a stillbirth, so I was extra paranoid about something going wrong. I had scans and appointments with my consultant every two weeks to make sure everything was okay. In my early pregnancy I was rushed to A&E because I could not stop vomiting. I also had severe water retention which meant I could barely walk by the end of the pregnancy. At 34 weeks we found out I had pre-eclampsia and I was admitted in to hospital.

Any cravings?

Ice! I was heavily pregnant during the summer and found the heat unbearable, I just used to fill glasses full of ice and chow down on that.

Did you find out what you were having?

Yes - when you have scans every two weeks I think it would be hard to resist. If we have another baby I'd like to keep it a surprise, although I think I'm too impatient to actually go through with it.

How did you decide on your baby’s name?

We had the name picked out already. I wanted a Scottish name since Hamish wasn't taking my surname (Buchanan). His full name is Hamish Dylan Hicks, I love the name Hamish and I enjoy the alliteration. Dylan was his big brothers name.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?

I didn't! My first antenatal class was supposed to be the day Hamish was born. I flicked through a few pregnancy books, but I was too busy focusing on him being okay in my belly, I didn't really think about getting him out.

How was your labour?

After being admitted in to hospital at 34 weeks with pre-eclampsia, my consultant had planned to keep me in until I was 37 weeks and induce me. Hamish was born by emergency c-section at 35 weeks due to his heartbeat being incredibly fast. I held him for about 30 seconds before he started having breathing difficulties, I then didn't see him again for three days. He had a few health complications, so was taken to another hospital that had an Intensive Care Neonatal Unit and had the facilities to give him the care he needed. Nick went with him, but I had to wait until there was a bed free for me to be transferred to. It was bizarre seeing him in intensive care, he was a big baby - 7lbs 4oz, most of the other babies around him were less than half his size. Hamish spent one week in hospital, he's been fine ever since.

In the NICU the day after Hamish was born


How did you get on with breastfeeding?

Getting my milk to come through was really difficult since Hamish wasn't with me, but I ended up breastfeeding Hamish for about five months. Unfortunately he had really bad reflux so I gave in and tried him on the special reflux formula at four months and he completely changed - he was so much happier! I tried to carry on breastfeeding during the night, but he'd projectile vomit everywhere every single time, so I stopped in favour of the reflux formula.

What does your baby eat?

We started baby led weaning with Hamish at six months. We gave him cooked vegetable sticks to start with; carrots, broccoli etc. so he could get the hang of holding them. It wasn't until he was about eight months that he really started consuming the food. I find if you give him something savoury on its own, he won't eat it, so he ends up eating weird combinations like pasta or an omelette with a banana or grapes - he'll have a mouthful of pasta then mush some banana in there. He's also a huge watermelon fan, but I'm yet to find something that gets it out of his clothes!

Hamish started off on just one meal a day when we introduced solids, after a month that went up to two, then the next month three. But now that he can crawl (seriously, he won't stay still), he has three meals a day, two snacks and about 30oz of milk too.

Hamish is a big spaghetti fan!

Does your baby have a nap/ sleep routine?

Hamish is usually ready for a nap 2-3 hours after waking up for the day - this happens in the car if I'm working that day. Then he'll have an afternoon nap any time between 1pm and 4pm, and he's usually in bed by 7:30pm.

Hamish's first day at home

How do you keep your baby entertained?

Hamish loves reading books, although is very picky about which ones, and also loves knocking over his stacking cups like King Kong. His current favourite game is pulling things out of drawers, it makes a huge mess but he's so happy I can't say no!

When you're baby's freaking out, what do you find helps to calm them down?

Usually just a Mama cuddle, or if he's really screaming, singing helps calm him down. We spend quite a lot of time in the car, unless I sing to him he will cry until he falls asleep.

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

No issues other than teething, his first top tooth is coming through at the moment, so there's not much sleeping going on. A few people recommended Anbesol to put on his gums, it seems to help but it's very difficult getting it on as he hates it and clamps his mouth tightly shut.


Does your baby have a favourite toy?

Unfortunately, Hamish loves anything technology related - if he catches a glimpse of an iPhone or a TV remote, he won't stop until it is his (or he throws a huge tantrum). I gave him my first ever mobile phone to play with, he also has a toy TV remote and toy laptop, but he knows the difference and wants the real thing. I'm hoping he gets over this soon!

Ready for bed!

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?

It's Hamish's first birthday in a couple of days, I just bought some little toy animals to decorate his cake with!

What has been the most useful thing you've discovered?

The Wonder Weeks app has been excellent!

What is your baby’s mode of transport?

We had a Stokke Scoot travel system and I hated it - it was so unfriendly to use, it was as though no one had ever tested it. We now have a much cheaper Red Kite jogger, I'm sad Hamish faces away from me, but it's much more comfortable for him and much easier to handle. We also have an Ergo carrier which I love, but Hamish kicks and pushes me to try and escape from it now that he's mobile.

What are your baby essentials when you go out?

Nothing out of the ordinary. If Hamish starts fussing we have a sit down and he has a snack, raisins usually as they don't tend to stain everything; this generally cheers him up.


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

Sleep, go to the cinema, go out for meals, sit down and do nothing - you will miss all these things!

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

Nod and smile when people give you advice, but do your own thing. Just because someone is older, or has had more children than you, doesn't mean they know what's right for your baby.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?

Relax and enjoy it. There are times that I get frustrated if Hamish is being grumpy, or won't go to sleep, but then I look at him and give him a big squeeze because he won't let me do it forever!

Thanks Lyndsay!

Update: Lyndsay has since shared the birth stories of both Dylan and Hamish on Gas&Air blog. Read her inspiring piece here.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lamaze toys

I don't know if Lamaze toys are really something that parenting bloggers blog about, but they feature so heavily in my life right now that I feel like I could never be taken seriously as a parenting blogger without dedicating a post to Lamaze toys! So, Lamaze; I love you!

My understanding is that Lamaze is brand under the Tomy corporate umbrella which specialises in toys for children between the ages of 0-24 months. All of the Lamaze toys seem to be made of the same materials (I imagine their factory as being this uber-efficient grotto where elves and oompa lumpas lovingly hand-make each toy and the waste bits of fabric from one toy is used on another) some of which look kinda retro while others look like your granny could've knitted them.

All are high contrast and some of the combinations make you wonder if the designers were on some sort of trip... But, like the substance I imagine the creator to be on, they are addictive. I love Lamaze toys for all their garish fugly-beautifulness.

Whenever I see a Lamaze section in a shop (which isn't often enough, I might add), I'm totally magnetised and I stand there for far too long umming and ahhing over which, if any, I should by Joseph. The rational side of my brain which says 'he has enough toys' always wins, but I totally have an inexplicable soft spot for Captain Calamari but because Joseph already has an Octopus dangly toy which shares quite a few of the same characteristics I feel that the Cap'ns presence would be too much! (I also love the look of Sir Prance-a-lot, which is a horse with a little knight on its back, and the musical inchworm, but I've never seen him in real life.) (I realise that I sound as nutty as some of the Lamaze colour combinations.)

Anywho, Joseph is lucky enough to own six Lamaze toys, which have been gifts from family members aside from the Rainbow Rings which I found in TKMaxx for just £7.99;

Rainbow rings
Gardenbug wrist rattle and footfinder set
Bella the Bunny (because Joseph was born on Easter weekend)
Freddie the Firefly
Jacques the Peacock
Snail travel play mat

My auntie very kindly gave Joseph the play mat, rattle set and Bella the Bunny when he was first born and my mum bought him Jacques and Freddie at the weekend because we were in John Lewis and they were only £6.50 each (as opposed to the £12-ish I usually see them for) so we just couldn't choose/ resist... Jacques was an immediate hit!

I take the play mat pretty much everywhere with me as it's so lightweight that it fits in my changing bag. Bella has replaced one of the original dangly toys on Joseph's play gym which he plays with every morning (so now has Freddie), and Joseph seems to love the rainbow rings... He seems to enjoy them all, in fact, and I love watching him explore all the different textures, sounds and flappy bits. Poor Bella is well on the way to having a foot chewed off. The least popular of the toys are the rattle bits - but that might explain why Joseph still hasn't found his feet. He kicks off the socks within seconds of having them put on, and his wrist are fast becoming too fat to wrap!

All Lamaze toys have been designed to stimulate baby's senses (I love anything sensory) and the majority incorporate a monochrome print or two as that is what babies can see most clearly from newborn, as well as a baby-safe mirror and a crinkly bit... and sometimes a squeaker and a teether (or both in Freddie the Firefly's case).

There are different types of toys available for different ages but so far I've only really experienced their 0-24 months 'dangly' toys, i.e. you can dangle them from your pram/cot/play gym, aside from the rainbow rings which are for 6+ months and not dangly.

All of the toys are marked on the package as well as on the toy themselves with the age group they're developmentally most appropriate for; and they've all been designed in conjunction with child development experts, according to Tomy's official website.

So there you have it! I love Lamaze!

P.S. I feel I should add that this post has not been sponsored; I'm just a Lamaze fan-girl... possibly more of a fan than Joseph!

P.P.S. I really wanted to call this blog post something silly 'Lamazing' or 'Lamazeballs'!