Friday, 31 October 2014

31.10.14

This afternoon Joseph and I went to Margate to spend a few hours with Emma and Matilda. After much indecision, I wore an old, but barely worn, white shirt with battered old black skinny jeans and boots. Joseph wore his skeleton onesie for the third time this week as it's Halloween (I have been washing it between wears!) The sun was out and it was hot, really hot for late October especially. At the last minute I decided I wanted to wear my sunglasses instead of my usual specs, so I quickly put in my contact lenses before I left.

Joseph snoozed in the car for our journey which took one hour thanks to the horrendous half-term Canterbury traffic. When we arrived, Joseph was a bit fragile, post-nap, and didn't take too kindly to Buckley the Schnauzer's barking. Joseph demonstrated his lazy sitting up and what I call his gorilla stance (he rests his hands on the ground in front of him like a gorilla.)


Emma and I tried to encourage some interaction between Matilda and Joseph (who are three months apart in age), and there were a couple of stares and gentle strokes, but Joseph cried both times when Matilda gently touched his face. He must really, really love his personal space! Either that or his face is feeling sensitive. Hmm.

Matilda is such a happy baby; she's always smiling and gets prettier and prettier every time I see her. She seemed baffled by Joseph's reaction, as was I. 

Despite being a bit tetchy, Joseph went into his pushchair without any fuss. I contemplated wearing him using our Tula carrier, as I'm usually desperate to use it, but as we were planning a long-ish walk, the longest I'd have been on since getting it a couple of weeks ago, I was worried in case it became really uncomfortable and there'd be nothing I could do to relieve the discomfort... i.e. no Ruari to wear it as back up. 


We walked through a park and along the seafront to the Turner Contemporary art gallery. As neither of us had eaten lunch despite it being 3pm, we headed straight for the cafe and sat outside. There weren't any sandwiches left so we had cakes and a hot drink each. I had a carrot cupcake and a pot of tea. Joseph, as per usual, was jealous that we were eating and he wasn't (silly me had forgotten to bring the mashed potato and green beans I'd saved for him from last night's dinner), so he had to make do with one of Matilda's rice cakes that Emma kindly shared with him. Luckily that seemed to keep him happy. I really need to get better at this weaning malarky. I then gave him his afternoon milk.


We wandered around the main exhibition after having a good look around the gift shop. I do love gallery and museum gift shops; often more than the main attraction themselves, which I should be ashamed to admit.


The beauty and tranquillity of the sea made me stop in my tracks a few times today. The Turner has huge great big windows and seeing the calm of the sea through those was one of those moments. I love how much space there is there.


Emma and I have very few photos of us together, I don't think we ever even took one of us when we were both pregnant at the same time because we were too embarrassed to ask the other, or someone else, for a photo. We are silly. But today, Emma asked one of the gallery staff to take a photo of us underneath a mural of a gigantic Hen Harrier clutching a Range Rover (named A Good Day for Cyclists by Jeremy Deller). 


When we left the gallery, we caught the sun setting over the horizon. It was really beautiful. It literally only took one minute to completely disappear. 


We walked back to Emma's house, along the seafront and through the park. We said our goodbyes as it was now 5pm and I wanted to get home for Joseph's bath. I'd intended to blow up the LED-light pumpkin balloon that I'd bought for him when we got home, but as it was so close to bath time, and the balloon only lasts for 15 hours, I thought I'd save it for tomorrow evening so Joseph could have a few hours to play with it between it getting dark and his actual bed time. I wish I'd brought it with me to Margate so he could've played with it on our dusky walk to Emma's and in the car.


The journey home took an hour too, damn the Canterbury rush-hour traffic! But I did appreciate the purples and blues in the sky. So pretty. 

We arrived home to an empty house as Ruari had gone to Folkestone after work to see some friends, and I prepared Joseph's milk and ran his bath. Joseph was very well behaved and didn't cry after his bath. Recently he's been getting over-tired and ratty at bath time, but I think having snoozed in the car for the journey home helped and he let me baby-oil him and clothe him without making any fuss. 

Joseph patiently waited for his milk to cool down, and didn't mind me having to stop mid-way through his feed to answer the door to some incredibly polity trick-or-treaters. He finished his milk, let me put him in his gro-bag and smiled as I laid him down in his cot. He always seems so happy when it comes to bed time. It's like he feels really ready for his 12 hours alone in the dark, as if he's got some business to attend to. I suppose he has; the business of growing. 

Sometimes I thank Joseph for the lovely day when I put him to bed, and today was one of those days. I feel so lucky that we get on so well, despite my forgetting his packed lunch. Now that I know when I'm going back to work, not for another 5 and a half months (I decided to take the full year off), I feel less like our time is 'almost up' and I am more able to enjoy and treasure the time we have together. I am really keen to make the most of it.

Thank you for reading; I know it must've been boring, but this is a new thing I want to do; document some of the times Joseph and I spend together. 

Happy Hallowe'en x
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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Mummy Time #15: Sarah Weston

I'm putting it out there; I am a total fan-girl of Sarah's Instagram account and I can't hide it! I found Sarah's beautifully composed photos of her heart-achingly cute son, Sammy, through the Sophie the Giraffe hashtag and I've never looked back! It's also thanks to Sarah that I found a friendly community of talented, design-loving, minimalist mamas on Instagram.... (and since then have been contemplating giving away 90% of my belongings painting every wall in my house white again!) I am just so pleased to feature Sarah on Mummy Time this week, I hope you enjoy! (Sammy was five and a half months old at the time of writing).


Mummy:

Who are you?

I’m Sarah, Sammy’s Mama. He was born on 26th April 2014. I’m approximately 30 years older than him (possibly more like 31) - although from looking at me, people are still suprised that I’m old enough to have a kid. I live in the west London ‘burbs with my Husband of two years, Jonny. We also have a cat Buddy, who’s had his nose put out of joint a bit this year. Poor Buddy. He doesn’t know what’s about to hit him (literally).

How long are you planning to take for maternity leave?

I’m a graphic designer, working mainly in packaging and illustration (most recently for M&S). I finished working 3.5 weeks before my due date - I was going to try and leave it later but the commute (a waddle, a bus and two tube rides) got a bit miserable towards the end and those ‘baby on board’ badges often seem to make you invisible. It’s amazing how many balding men in suits will suddenly fall asleep behind a paper when you haul yourself onto a packed carriage. Grrr.

As I am a freelancer, I don’t have a strict timescale or job to go back to. This is both liberating and terrifying! I’d like to be around for Sam as much as possible but financially, I will need to work (I’m very grateful for the government maternity allowance, as being self-employed I wasn’t eligible for statutory). In the new year, I will be sharing some childcare by having Sammy’s cousin once a week and visa versa. Louis is six weeks older than Sam, so it will be lovely for them to hang out. There’s going to be some mischief going down, that’s for sure. Eeek.

2015 will see the re-launch of our shop too, selling a brand new range of nursery prints as well as other children’s products. We’re excited about that.

How are you?

Smitten and exhausted.

Let’s get the hard days out the way first. The ones when the growth spurts make Sammy extra clingy and grumpy and you can’t get anything done. Those days feel like you’re swimming upstream - when you’re exhausted with a fractious baby who won’t be anywhere else but in your arms (no sitting down mind! No, no, no) and looks at you like you’re doing it all wrong. The house is filthy and you haven’t got any food in to eat one-handed apart from one lonely bendy Rivita at the back of the cupboard. The to-do list is getting longer by the millisecond, the spot of your chin is ripening nicely and all you can see is other mammas who look like they have it nailed… after all you only have one baby to look after and you feel like a bit of a failure.

Those days are hard, but soooooo worth it. Whilst I find that the occasional tears and meltdowns are an inevitable part of motherhood, for me it’s usually a sign that I need to give myself a break (easier said than done) and try my hardest to get an early night (also tricky). Tomorrow is another day and when you see those little tiny toes and eyelashes that you made, it’s all ok. Most days are great. I constantly stare at Sammy in disbelief that I am getting to hang out with him and make him giggle like nobody else can. He’s such a smiley little soul and I can’t kiss his cheeks enough. All mamas have their bad days, and the support they show for each other is brilliant. I absolutely love being a Mum, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.


What do you do to relax?

Sit down, watch tv, maybe some Pinterest (sarah_weston_) or go to bed! I aim to get early night most days (my husband does the dream feed) but in reality it never happens as there’s always stuff that needs doing. When I’m with Sammy, we go for a walk to blow away the cobwebs.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

Errr, I probably waste the snippets of me-time playing with my phone… If and when Sam does sleep in the day I tend to catch up with boring things that need doing and tidy the house. I get really grouchy when the house is a mess! I like to read when I can too.

How does a typical day go? 

No day seems to be the same. One day he’ll nap just fine and I think it might be the start of a routine. Then I’ll try and put him down the next day when he’s sleepy, to find the little monkey giggling and jiggling his arms about two minutes later. I’ll keep at it…

In the mornings, Jon usually takes Sammy down to make our breakfast. I take the opportunity to shower otherwise it’ll never happen once he’s at work and I have my hands full. We’ve done this from the day his paternity leave finished and it’s worked well for us. Usually by about 9am Sammy will need a sleep again, lasting up to about 40 mins. He might then nap again once or twice (I emphasise the word ‘might’) and be ready for bath and bed by about 6.30. He’ll usually have crashed out by the time Jon comes home at 7.15 despite my efforts to keep him awake.

During awake time, it’s definitely good to get out and about. We always try to do something, whether it’s shopping, seeing friends, going to a music class or just a walk to the river. I’m also learning to take it easy, making sure we have a duvet day maybe once a week. That’s important too. And so, so nice. This time won’t happen again.


Pregnancy:

How was your pregnancy?

I got off lightly. I had no morning sickness apart from some nausea. However, I did find it made my asthma play up, especially in the mornings on the busy commute which could be quite scary. Also, Sam wasn’t a very active baby in the womb, so I was often concerned that I hadn’t felt him. Luckily the hospital is only down the road and they encourage you to come in to be monitored if you have any worries. That’s even why I went in on the day he was born.
  
Did you have any cravings?

Food in general. Especially plain spaghetti.

Did you find out what you were having?

No; we debated for a long time. I always thought I’d want a surprise, but I was wavering by the time it came to the twenty-week scan. Jon didn’t want to find out, so as a compromise, we asked the sonographer to write it down and seal it in an envelope. We resisted looking until after he was born!

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

We had a few but nothing certain. It took us a couple of days to be sure once he’d arrived.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?

Books, apps, websites, blogs, NCT classes (made some lovely friends) - you name it, I loved it. I’m not sure what books I found useful then, but now I often refer to ‘My Baby Week by Week’ and ‘The Wonderweeks’.

How was your labour?

As I mentioned, the Friday I went into labour (two days after dd), I’d been concerned about the lack of movement. This happened a lot throughout my pregnancy and the hospital were great about monitoring me even if there was the slightest doubt. I had been worrying that afternoon but felt a bit too silly going in yet again (a stupid thing to think). Jon came home from work and persuaded me to put our minds at rest. I had been having some twinges for about an hour at that point but I was in denial and didn’t think ‘it’ could actually be happening.

The nurse noticed contractions on my trace but said I should go home and rest. Jon knew that I’d be too shy to make a fuss (I think he could feel me silently clenching his hand every few minutes), so he asked her just to check. She was surprised to find that I was seven centimetres; so off down the corridor to the natural birth centre I went. We didn’t have our bag with us and hadn’t had dinner (a foolish mistake as I could have really done with that energy later).

I’d hoped for a water birth, but found it too hot in the pool. In the end, I tried all manner of positions as Sam was back to back, my waters hadn’t broken and he hadn’t dropped. After being really calm, this panicked me a bit and I remember feeling so out of control as it seemed like there was no hope of him ever being ready. It all gets a bit hazy as it became intense quite quickly - I hadn’t eaten much that day and threw up any supplies that we brought with us. I was given meptid to try and have a rest but I’m not sure that happened… I hung on to the gas and air for dear life. Quiet Sarah shouted. A lot.

By 4.30am (about nine hours since getting to triage), Sammy popped his head out after two hours of pushing. Sam’s cord was wrapped round his neck so J wasn’t able to cut it but he did reveal that we had a beautiful little boy, weighing 7lb9oz.

Shortly after, I was taken to surgery for a third degree tear and despite being (almost) drug free through the labour, had to have an epidural. Not that it mattered though – Sammy had arrived safe and sound. We got to go home a day later in complete disbelief that he was ours to keep.


Baby:

How did you get on with breastfeeding?

I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to, perhaps to avoid disappointment if I couldn’t. I remember being on the trolley outside theatre when my midwife showed me how. He latched on ok and with Jon’s guidance (clever man had paid attention at the NCT class) we were away. He’s still feeding now but not as much as I would like as my milk supply dwindled when he went through the four month fussy period, we had lots going on, I was exhausted and he was given a bottle a bit too often. I was pretty gutted about it but I’m trying to get it back up, as it’s not something I am ready to stop just yet. I treasure the time I have when he’s snuggled up to me feeding and I know I’m incredibly lucky to have had it at all.

Does you baby have a feeding routine?

From early on he was breastfed on demand, apart from a bottle of formula at 11pm so I could get an early night. Now he has mostly bottles of formula and we’re just beginning to start solids which is really exciting but no hard and fast routine as yet.

What does your baby eat?

We’re only just venturing into solids – so far he’s had carrot, cucumber, parsnip and banana. It’s going quite well but early days. Some days are more successful than others…


What has been your approach to weaning your baby onto solids?

With weaning it seems like there is so much contradicting information, especially when it comes to people’s opinions on baby led. I got vaguely told by my health-worker that I should start ‘in about three weeks’, so we did. We’re going for a combination of purees and blw as I do think it’s nice for them to be able to get messy with the food. So far he’s mostly loving it and definitely prefers the finger food over purees. I do get a little nervous about choking but watching (like a hawk) the satisfaction he gets nibbling a cucumber baton is so lovely. He seems to know what to do.

Does your baby have a sleep routine?

Ha. Sammy’s always been good at going to bed in the evening – he’ll crash out at about half seven and we won’t hear from him till we get him for his dream feed. That’s been the case since he was about two months when we started with a massage/bath/feed/bed routine. He still wakes up usually once a night (4.30am) for a feed and then wants to start the day at about 6 (or 4.30 if we’re lucky - zzzzzz). A couple of nights a week, he’ll like to shout from his crib a lot more than that and end up in bed with us.

During the day, he’ll usually have a short morning nap at about 9am but we’re still getting there on the others… some days he refuses, some days he’ll sleep for hours. I’m not sure why we were able to crack the bedtime routine but not the rest.


How do you keep your baby entertained?

The Jumperoo. He loves Doggins, his Jellycat friend. Watching our cat is also a recent discovery. You can always tell when he’s been spotted as Sammy’s face lights up. It’s getting quite tricky to keep him entertained for long, he’s no longer satisfied with the baby gym. Going to the park to look at the leaves and people watch always goes down quite well.

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

He loves his dummy. Going for a walk in the pram often does the trick (once the initial screams from being strapped in have subsided). The white noise app sometimes calms him down.


Holiday:

Have you taken your baby on any holidays?

Our first trip was a five hour car journey to Wales when he was two months. It was ok, I sat in the back with him and he slept through most of it, which is good. A trip to Tesco never goes that smoothly.
When he was 18 weeks, we went to Greece. He cried quite a bit, although luckily there were no death stares from fellow passengers that we were aware of – he’d been sensible enough to charm them with his gummy grin in the check-in queue. He was going through a fussy period feeding, rejecting the breast in favour of the bottle at that point. Thankfully we took some Aptamil through security, which helped pacify him on take off and he subsequently drained another one and a half. We wouldn’t normally give him so much milk but in this case, it kept him happy so we went with it. Maybe it was his nerves.

What were your baby holiday essentials?

We asked the hotel to provide a cot and kettle for making up formula (you couldn’t buy ready made where we were and we booked last minute so couldn’t use the Boots airside ordering service). Our case was full of formula just to be safe. The best thing we brought was a Snooze Shade for the buggy so we could take him out in the evenings. A Milton Sterilising bucket was also brilliant – we packed it full of clothes in the case so that it wouldn’t take up much room.

Was your baby's routine affected by being on holiday?

It was ok – in fact I think he slept more because it was hot (about 29 degrees), we were more relaxed and had more time to make sure he had a nap rather than being on the go.


Paraphernalia:

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

Weaning stuff (ie plastic spoons, sippy cup, plastic bib and mat). We bought the Ikea highchair after knowing lots of people who like it. So far so good. We’re trying to be careful and not buy everything that you’re told you ‘need’ for a baby.

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

Possibly the Sleep Sounds App. It’s given us extra time to ourselves and Sammy the sleep he’s been fighting, so for that we are forever indebted.

What is your baby’s mode of transport?

We have a Bugaboo BeePlus which was great on holiday as it’s not too bulky. I wanted a travel system that would be lightweight, narrow for buses and hopefully last till he’s quite big. Obviously, I wanted it to look nice too! The only annoying thing is that it doesn’t fold in one piece easily.We use a Baby Bjorn occasionally, especially in the supermarket as he prefers it to the seat. When he was tiny, I used a wrap style sling which was great but he started to protest at being in it when he was a bit older. I think I should have used it more often when he was small so he was used to it.

What are your baby essentials when you go out?

Milton dummy ball steriliser!


Advice:

What do you wish you’d known before you had a baby?

I didn’t realise how physically exhausting it would be. You are aware of the aches and pains carrying around your bump, but picking up and carrying around a baby all day is super tiring on top of the no sleep. So maybe the classic put your feet up more? Spend quality time with your partner. Stock up on snacks and bottled drinks to have next to you in the first few weeks, when you need energy and can’t move. Breastfeeding makes you so, so thirsty!

Oh and make sure you have a proper meal before you go to the hospital. Duh.

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

A good friend told me not to stress about routines and they’ll come in their own time. I’m glad she said that as he certainly has his own ideas as much as I’ve tried. Trying to stay relaxed about things helps a lot and I think babies definitely pick up on it.

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

We’ve ditched the steam steriliser for a traditional bucket  - so much easier when you need something quickly. Relax, trust your instincts, you will be amazing! 


Thank you so much for sharing, Sarah! xx

Sarah has also writes a gorgeous blog about being Sammy's mama called Pocky & Bud, and has recently been featured on Rock My Style

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Pic of the week: #11

This week's picture is of my darling Joseph at 2 days old versus 6 months + 2 days old. I can't even believe the size difference! Time is going so fast, it's all just so bittersweet! 
I hope you're having a good weekend! x

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Baby-led weaning: Idea #2

I am always on the lookout for super simple baby-led weaning ideas, because I am culinarily inept, and this is an ever-so-slightly adapted recipe from the Baby-led Weaning Cookbook.

Now that Joseph is six months old, I've been introducing him to grains such rice, couscous, oats and wheat. I wanted to try him on a grain-based biscuit, however I was reluctant to go down the Farley's Rusk route and favoured the idea of something a little less processed.

So these 'bites' are super-simple, super-quick to prepare, and I've already made them a few times this week at breakfast time, offering them to Joseph with either a few baked apple slices or half a banana. I've also started offering him some cooled boiled water to keep things moving in his gut. He doesn't seem to drink very much at all, but he doesn't bothered that it's water in his bottle rather than milk. I've been putting the handles on his water bottles, which he seems to enjoy using, and I think it helps him to differentiate it from milk.

Super-quick cinnamon oat bites
  • 3 tbsp porridge oats
  • 3 tbsp full fat cow's milk
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon (not pictured, as I only thought to add this the second time I made them and didn't think to photograph them. I think I will update this post next time I make them).

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. I realised afterwards that I really didn't need to use such a big bowl, a cereal bowl would suffice!


Dollop and flatten the mixture onto a microwaveable plate (or dish) using a spoon - I tried to make 'finger' shapes. 


Microwave for 2- 2.5 minutes. I did 2.5 as although the original recipe says to heat on high for 2 minutes, I don't know where the 'high' button is on my microwave, only the standard 'heat-for-30-seconds-at-a-time' button, which I figured would be of average heat, thus I'd need an extra 30 seconds. 


I was pleasantly surprised that they actually stayed intact, when I scraped them from the plate using a knife, and didn't crumble in my fingers.


My judge approved!



The cookbook suggests pressing some sultanas or raisins into the mix but I didn't have any, although I will get some. 

I don't know how these keep if you wanted to make batches of them, but I just made three fingers, wrapped the other two in foil, and offered them to him throughout the same day whilst we were out and about. 

I've also experimented with shapes a little bit, mostly trying to make them as long and as thin as possible so that Joseph can grab them easily, but I've found that he isn't at all fussy about the shape or size as he seems to be able to grab them just fine, and will eat them as they come. I generally try to go for the Rich Tea Finger look, though.

Let me know if you give these a try!  Also, please let me know if you know of any super simple and nutritious BLW ideas! x
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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Mummy Time #14: Lauren K-P

Lovely Lauren has written a wonderful lifestyle blog called Belle du Brighton since 2011, and since the birth of her beautiful daughter, Athena, in 2013 it has evolved to include her experiences with breastfeeding, cloth nappies, and baby style. Since writing this, Lauren has discovered that she's pregnant with baby number two, due in Spring 2015! Congratulations, Lauren!


Mummy:

Who are you?

I’m Lauren, I turned 30 in January this year, and Athena arrived in June ‘13. I am married to Sam and we live on the south coast of England. He is a hotel manager and I was a hotel manager too, pre baby. I am now an area administrator based at the hotel where I was the manager... confusing. Athena is my first (but hopefully not last) baby and although she wasn’t planned she was very much welcomed! We were in the middle of wedding planning when I found out I was pregnant and walked down the aisle the day after our 12 week scan!

How are you?

At the moment I am pretty happy. I would be happier if I was pregnant again as the bigger Athena gets and the more she learns the more broody I get for a newborn. I went back to work in July ‘14, doing three days a week which means I get to be a mama more time than I am at work, which I am happy with.

What do you do to relax?

Take a long bath with a good book, or get stuck into a box set. When Athena first arrived I watched all of The Killing in a couple of weeks as we spent so long on the sofa!

What do you do when you have time to yourself?

Nap! or go to Tesco to do the weekly food shop. It is a huge store so I can spend a good couple of hours looking at the books/clothes etc. This normally happens on a Friday night too, rock and roll I tell you.


How does a typical day go?

Athena wakes up around 7.30am (which is earlier than she used to, so although to some mamas it sounds delightful to me it is early!) and if Sam hasn’t already gone to work he’ll get her up, change her nappy and bring her to me in bed for a feed then go and put the kettle on. She plays and I drink tea/browse the internet for a bit and at 9 we have breakfast, unless it’s a work day, in which case I take her to Nursery for the day and head to work on the train. If we’re not going out anywhere then I’ll try and do some kind of ‘organised’ activity, like shape sorting, or building blocks etc before nap time, which is generally around 3 hours after she wakes up, for about 2 hours. These two hours are when I try and load the dishwasher, put some clothes/nappies on to wash and maybe write a blog post if I have time, after getting myself dressed etc. When Athena wakes up we have lunch, normally with Cbeebies on in the background. If we’ve not been out in the morning (in which case Athena will hopefully have napped in the buggy) we go out to do something in the afternoon, even if it’s a half hour walk and then a quick play in the park. I feel stir crazy if we don’t go out at least once a day! Sometimes Athena will have an afternoon nap, but this is happening less and less now which is a shame as I liked to nap too! Dinner is at 6, followed by a bath (most days) a book and then bed!

Pregnancy:

How was your pregnancy?

I didn’t really have any physical problems during my pregnancy, although I was huge by the time I reached full term and people kept asking if I was having twins, I weighed 4 stone more at the end than at the start and Athena was only 7lb 14, I just had a huge amount of amniotic fluid and legs and arms like tree trunks, and lets not mention the swollen feet... The main issue I had in pregnancy was birth anxiety, resulting in an elective C-section. I don’t regret my birth choice at all and if I have another baby would like go down the same route. Some of my concern was based round my husband being a huge baby (11.7lbs) and being huge in general, and some family medical history. 


Did you have any cravings?

Only ice; I sucked it and crunched it whenever I could in the last couple of months! Apparently it can indicate low iron, which makes sense as I had to take an iron supplement in the last trimester.

Did you find out what you were having?

No! We wanted to but at the 20 week scan she just wouldn’t get into the right place, despite me jumping around! We figured it was a sign, and didn’t go for a private scan or make up a reason to get another scan like I've heard people do! I actually did have another growth scan at 36 weeks but as Sam wasn’t with me so I asked not be told!

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

Sam, my husband, had chosen Athena and had referred to the sprog as Athena a few times during the pregnancy. He likes Greek mythology and fancies himself as Zeus I think... who was Athena's father. She has two middle names, the first is Lorelei who is a character in The Mentalist (we had been watching it when I was pregnant) and it was also a nickname Sam used to call me sometimes when we first got together. Her second middle name is the first part of my double barrelled surname. She shares a surname with Sam, as I kept my surname when we got married. If she turned out to be a boy then I had chosen Reuben, although if we have a boy in the future we wouldn’t use that name!

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?

I was given ‘What to expect...’ which was very helpful, and I downloaded a couple of week by week apps too. I went to three NHS-run antenatal sessions, and I am glad I did as I did learn things that I used later, namely how to bath a baby, how to wipe crap with the front of the nappy and some breast feeding tips! I didn’t bother with NCT as I was moving house six weeks after the birth so wouldn’t be able to meet up as easily anyway.

How was your labour?

I had a C-section the day after my due date at the hospital in Brighton. It was scheduled for 2 days before but due to emergencies I got sent home! I had no signs of labour at all, and when I was examined before theatre she wasn’t even engaged, so I could’ve gone way over my due date and possibly needed medical intervention to speed things along anyway! Because it wasn’t an emergency C-section we had a lot of students in the operating theatre with us, 14 people in total I think! This was fine with us as people have to learn their trade somehow!


Baby:

How did you get on with breastfeeding?

We did well, I have no idea how or why it was fairly stress free for us. We breastfed until 15 months. My advice is don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about how (or where) you choose to feed your baby! Happy baby = happy mum, whatever milk is consumed!

What does your baby eat?

Right from birth I never followed a feeding routine, I breastfed her when she was hungry and hoped for the best! It worked out okay though and around 7 months we fell into a routine of sorts (well, to do with timings anyway!) We started solids at five and a half months with rusks/rice cakes/baby rice and took a mainly baby-led path, although these days she’s a bit lazy and likes to be spoon fed her dinner! She eats almost everything we offer her, and when we are out for a meal we tend to just feed her from our plates, and since she got teeth she can eat burgers/meat without having it cut up into tiny pieces that go down whole! There was a point around 11-12 months when I found dinner times really stressful as she’s hardly eat anything, or throw it all over the place. I have been reliably informed by many other mamas that this is normal though! As well as breast milk she drinks water, cow’s milk and very rarely squash as a treat!


Does your baby have a sleep routine?

Athena naps for two hours in the morning, and perhaps another two-ish hours in the afternoon on most days. Generally Athena sleeps from 7pm till around 7.30am without waking, which is glorious for me! She used to sleep at least six hours until she hit five months old, then for a few months used to wake up once in the night. If I could go back and do it again I would train myself not to leap into her room at the slightest cry (which I did!) as I’m sure she then got used to having a midnight feed and woke up especially for it! I think sometimes she was just moving around and woke herself up and would’ve gone back to sleep on her own. Oh well, I know for next time!


How do you keep your baby entertained?

Generally the things that keep Athena entertained the most are the things she shouldn’t be playing with, like phone chargers, the bin, the cupboard under the sink and the bookshelves. If I can prise her away from these things she currently loves putting things in other things, and ‘dancing’ to music (even if it’s the 6 o’clock news theme tune) Oh! and she loves the swings at the park too.

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

Standing up holding her and stroking her back normally helps!

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

Touch wood, no! When she was a lot smaller and solely breastfeeding she used to get awful wind when I had eaten onions, bizarrely!


Paraphernalia:

Does your baby have a favourite toy?

The Fisher Price ‘cookie jar’. I hear that song in my sleep I think...

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

Some wooden stacking discs that thread onto wooden dowels, from Sainsbury's. They help fine motor skills, but actually I just LOVE wooden toys!

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

Bought: the ‘snot sucker’ (or nasal aspirator) and I really don’t know where all the snot would go if we didn’t suck it out... ick.

Been given: A bath support. It’s a wire frame with a towelling cover and you just pop it in the bath (or sink when they’re really small) which was great for when I didn’t have her in the bath with me, until she was old enough to sit up.

Discovered: Baby massage, I was sceptical at first but she really loved it and it helped to calm her down lots!


What is your baby’s mode of transport?

We were given a Mamas and Papas Pliko pramette, which I would not recommend at all! Clunky and hard to steer with separate handles. At 7 weeks we bought an ObabyZezu travel system which was great and we used that until we won a CosattoGiggle travel system in Oaker, which we still use now, it’s bright yellow with a leaf pattern and I love it! Athena is higher up, can face us or the world and it’s a three wheeler and folds really easily and fairly compactly. I use a buckled carrier (a bit like an Ergobaby) and a mei-tai which is soft and has ties, both can be used for front or back carries, and should still work into toddlerhood!


What are your baby essentials when you go out?

Snacks! A book or two and anti-bacterial hand gel.

Advice:

What do you wish you knew before you had a baby?

That people often exaggerate the ‘bad’ things, like the lack of sleep you’ll get and all your hair falling out. They never tell you how amazing the endless cuddles and gorgeous smiles are. Just because it happened to someone else doesn’t mean it will happen to you!

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

Trust your own instincts!

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

Buy lots of biscuits, and pre-cook a lot of meals to stock your freezer up for the early days!


Lauren also blogged about her first pregnancy in The Realistic Mum's Club which she no longer writes, but expectant mamas may find useful. 

Thank you so much, Lauren!
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