Thursday, 4 December 2014

Mummy Time #20: Amber Francesca

This week's Mummy Time post is all about a very talented crocheter (is that a word?!), fellow lover of the colour mustard and mother of a super stylish little two year old girl! I'm so excited to share Amber's wonderful post... and I am suddenly feeling really quite Christmassy!


Who are you?

Hi! I'm Amber, I'm 24 and originally from Birmingham but now living in a small town in Warwickshire. I moved to Rugby, where my partner Toby is from when I was eight months pregnant with Phoebe who is now two years old (25 months).

What do you do for a living?

I work one or two days a week in a small independent shop in our town and also run my own small online business called Thread the Love selling the items I make. 

How long did you take for maternity leave?

I did originally plan on going back to my sales assistant job in Selfridges part time after a year but moving away from Birmingham made this very difficult and I found a year wasn't long enough so I handed my resignation in and didn't go back at all. 

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

I ended up getting a part time (six hours a week) job in Monsoon  just before Christmas last year which really helped financially, that bit of extra pocket money was nice to have in the lead up to Christmas. I found this far less daunting than going back to my old job as at the time we had moved out of rented house and into Toby's mums house while we waited for our mortgage to be finalised, so Phoebe was kept in her usual (non-existent) routine and I had Toby's mum there to help. 

How do you get things done?

Simple answer; I don't. I cannot understand how these mums can go back to work full time or part time and still manage to have a clean and tidy home, a happy child and also manage a shower in the morning! When I'm not making things for Thread the Love I'm keeping Phoebe entertained, when she sleeps, I make! It's as simple as that. House work comes last unfortunately.

How are you?

Honestly, not so great. I'm a very emotional person and I struggle with organisation and routine. My work is currently very time consuming and customers can be very demanding! I've actually had to hire someone to help with Thread the Love recently as the work has been too much. Exhausted would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong- I sleep - I sleep like a baby at night but I am finding day to day life a bit of a struggle right now. 

What do you do to relax?

I put down the crochet. I take a bath, do some yoga, watch something good on Netflix, read a book or get an early night. 

How does a typical day go?

8am wake up, wave Toby off to work. Phoebe has breakfast whilst I have a smoothie- I haven’t been able to stomach a proper breakfast since pregnancy. Phoebe then plays while I do a bit of crochet. By about 10am (shameful) we get dressed and start the day. A walk to the post office, a trip into town or a coffee with one of Phoebe's grannys or a play date usually occurs, but, like I said earlier, I really struggle with routine so each day is different, which is nice 


How was your pregnancy?

The first 12 weeks were horrific. When I found out I was pregnant Toby and I had just come back from a week in Amsterdam with lots of drinking and eating badly, amongst other things so when we got home and I got sick I presumed it was food poisoning or something. I had taken two negative tests so thought no more of it but when the sickness turned into physical pain all through my abdomen and chest I decided to consult a doctor and they told me I was more than likely experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. I was given an appointment at the women’s hospital straight away for an internal scan- it was very difficult as it was all such a shock, I had no idea I was pregnant, we weren't trying for a baby and I was on the pill! When I saw that little heartbeat on the screen and they told me everything was alright I knew then that I was going to be a Mum to a baby girl! After the first trimester I had a beautiful pregnancy, apart from the occasional mood swing, I felt better than I ever have done and looked it too!

Did you have any cravings?

Salt for the first few weeks... Crisp sandwiches mainly. In the third trimester I craved lemons. I once took a trip to all of the local supermarkets and bought a cloudy lemonade from each one to find the most bitter.

Did you find out what you were having?

Yes, I didn't want to but Toby did and I ended up caving because I knew she was going to be a girl anyway.

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

Toby liked Holly but I hated it. I liked Audrey and Mabel but Toby hated them. Phoebe was the only name that we could agree on and it suits her just perfectly. Her middle names are Elizabeth Rose. Elizabeth is my mum’s middle name and my granny's name is Beth (Betty), plus she was born in 2012 which was the year of the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Rose is a name I have always liked as a middle name and it worked out well as Toby's sister’s name is Edith Rose and his granny’s name was Rosamund. Phoebe took her daddy's surname which I hope to take in the future (hint hint) which is Barton-Harvey. People always comment on how grand her name is and my brother even said I may as well have named her Princess Consuela Banana Hammock!

How did your prepare for Phoebe’s arrival?

I loved being pregnant and doing all the antenatal classes. I did pre-natal yoga too which was an absolute god send for someone like me who has always struggled to control emotions. 

How was your labour?

Right, I'll start from the beginning. I was at my yoga class on the Monday evening and had a few twinges but I didn't think much of it until my waters broke at almost midnight that night. I called the hospital and they said to stay at home if I wasn't contracting and to come in for an examination in the morning. After my examination, mum and I walked the length and breadth of Birmingham followed by eating extra spicy tapas trying to bring on the labour naturally. I was booked in for an induction on the Wednesday. I spent most of Wednesday on the ward bouncing on a birthing ball, swinging my hips and doing strange yoga poses trying to move baby down. All this time I was contracting but not dilated. Toby didn't leave my side and was my rock through all of it. I refused all pain relief until Thursday morning when I agreed to Pethidine out of sheer desperation. The midwife examined me and said I was ready to go down to the birthing suite for the water birth I had always imagined. The water along with gas and air was just bliss and I spent the majority of Thursday day time in that pool, occasionally getting the urge to push and then it subsiding. By 5pm nothing had progressed and midwives were getting increasingly concerned about the amount of pain I was in so they had to intervene and I was moved to the delivery suite where everything was very clinical, and there were doctors wearing masks. I don't remember much of being in there but I do remember the epidural they’d practically forced on me didn't take effect. I ended up with a forcep delivery, but the moment they put that little girl on my chest nothing mattered. She was here and life was perfect. 


How did you get on with breastfeeding?

Phoebe took to it like a duck to water. I didn't need any help from midwives getting her to latch on. My only problems were when my milk came in and I had two hot burning solid rocks on my chest! That was agony but with the help of a hand expressing pump we got through it. I was very determined not to give in to formula at that point. We moved on to formula at about 8 months when Phoebe started getting fussy although I still breastfed through the night until she was about 11 months.

How does Phoebe get on with food?

Phoebe has never really been a big eater and didn't really start eating proper solid meals until she was about 9/10 months. I still struggle to get food in her! She's a total milk fiend and in the early days we did a mix of baby led and a bit of spoon-fed weaning

Does Phoebe nap during the day?

Yes, most afternoon for about an hour to an hour and a half.

What are Phoebe’s favourite things to do?

Going out and about. She's a real outdoorsy kind of girl and loves to explore. She's a good little walker too so we don't really take the pushchair out much any more.  

Does Phoebe have any conditions?

She has suffered with chronic constipation from about four weeks of age. It is absolutely heartbreaking seeing your baby in that much pain and the doctors have absolutely useless but with the help and support of Toby's mum and the internet we seem to have it under control at the moment. 

At what age did Phoebe become more mobile and how did you cope?

She crawled at about 8 months, but before long she was pulling herself up and toddling around. Everything in our house was above Phoebe level to make it childproof- it looked very weird for a long time and even the decorations Christmas tree last year started halfway up! 

What are your go-to resources for information when you're worried?

I talk to my mum or Toby's mum first built generally I just go by my own instinct, I know Phoebe better than anyone. 


Have you taken Phoebe on any holidays?

Yes, we have taken Phoebe to Centre Parks every year since she was born and hope to make it out family tradition to go each year. Every year gets more and more fun with her. We also took her to visit my sister in Germany when she was 8 months old. We coped perfectly, she fed and then slept on the aeroplane and although she wasn't in a sleep routine, then none of us suffered too much!


What’s Phoebe’s favourite toy?

My sister bought her a Steiff bunny when she was born, this was never meant to be a toy but it fast became her absolute favourite. We call him Hoppy Bunny (original) and she doesn't I sleep without him. She's not mad on toys really although she loves a bike! And books, totally obsessed with books!

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

A Butterbear bath bomb from Lush. Phoebe absolutely loves a bath and when I have a bath she sits and watches and calls it my "fizzy bath" so I got her a few very gentle and mild bombs from Lush. 

What has been your most useful piece of equipment?

My Moby wrap. I did a lot of baby wearing when Phoebe was small. I loved the closeness and so did she. I wish I'd done it for longer but definitely will explore more baby wearing methods with baby number 2!  

What is Phoebe’s mode of transport?

Mainly her feet. She loves to walk. I absolutely cannot stand the Mamas and Papas Sola that we bought about six months ago. It's so big and bulky, I can't wait to be rid of it. 

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?

Nappies, wipes, water, satsumas, raisins and I always have a book in my bag to keep her entertained on the bus as I don't drive.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?

Anywhere and everywhere really. I love Zara for baby clothes but it is a little pricey. Phoebe just had a whole load of things from Boots Miniclub, I'd never think to look in there but they've got some really lovely stuff. 


Did you start any Christmas traditions for Phoebe's first Christmas? 

My sister sent me an Elf on the shelf when Phoebe was born and she has been too young until this year to understand but we’ve got him out and he's been getting up to lots of mischief already! We buy Phoebe a new Christmas decoration for the tree each year that hopefully she will keep and use when she has her own tree one day. We also have a family tradition of buying each other pyjamas to open on Christmas Eve to wear that night.

How will you spend your Christmas day?

This year we're at home. Toby's one request was that he didn't want to drive anywhere this year. Our families are all over the country (and continent) so we've got my mum and brothers coming for Christmas Day and staying with us ‘til the 27th. One of my sisters and her family will be joining us on Boxing Day and we're all walking to a lovely hotel not far for a Boxing Day carvery. Very relaxed, lots of food and even more drink! We can't wait! 

What have you bought Phoebe for Christmas?

We asked Phoebe what she was going to ask Father Christmas for and she said George- she's totally obsessed with Peppa Pig on the whole but much prefers George! We've also bought her a wooden train set, lots of Miffy bits and bobs, books, books and more books. I’ve also just ordered some gorgeous little wooden houses from the lovely Jazmin @ Concept JAR who featured on Mummy Time a few weeks ago [read Jazmin's post here].


What would you tell your pregnant self?

I’d give myself a heads up on how little time we would have as a couple. I wish we had taken a break before baby arrived to enjoy each other. I don't get a look in with daddy these days, Phoebe is such a daddy's girl!

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

Just go with the flow, don't over think things too much forget routine, forget sleeping through the night and just enjoy them while they're little because it doesn't last long. 
Thank you for sharing Amber! x

P.S. Amber's shop, Thread the Love, is now closed for Christmas but keep your eyes peeled on her Instagram (@threadthelove) for updates and snap up some threads for the new year!


  1. This was really interesting! I'm Ambers big sister and there was lots here new to me. And all those adorable Phoebe photos just melt my heart!

    1. Hi Lisa! Sorry for the slow reply! Thank you for reading and how funny that some things were new to you! Phoebe is absolutely gorgeous and Amber is a wonderful mum - you're lucky to have her as a sister! xxx

  2. Ps. I forgot to say: Amber's awesome. I'm so proud of her!!


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