Who are you?
Hello! I'm Nicole (or Nic to everyone but my parents!). I am 23, engaged to my partner Alex, and we live in North West England. We have two children, Ella (who is unfortunately no longer here with us) and Samuel, who was born safely at 39+1 on 15th September 2014 so is almost four months old.
What do you do for a living?
I am a dental nurse. I love it, though like with any profession, you can get some mean patients. It is a fast, very busy, often stressful job even though it appears a lot of people think I am just the one (and I quote) 'who sits on the computer typing stuff'
How long do you plan to take for maternity leave?
I am currently on Maternity Leave, taking nine months, due to return at the beginning of May this year. I am looking forward to going back, for the routine but mostly for the dollar! (Let’s not kid ourselves right?). Although it feels really soon, it also feels far away, so childcare hasn't really been discussed properly yet. I think we will be doing a share between grandparents and nursery though.
How are you?
Honestly, I was well until three nights ago! Over the Christmas break, Samuel totally suprised us and started sleeping through the night (roughly 7pm – 5am). It was amazing to actually have some solid sleep and wake up feeling alright, but the last three nights it feels like we have gone back to the newborn days! I was up six times last night so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tired.
What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Eat a hot dinner, drink a hot brew, enjoy the silence... Just kidding. I love a nice, hot bath, and catching up on some TV but realistically, I try my best to tidy up and make sure everything is neat... I really don't like an untidy house, I'm dreading when toys start being hurled around, haha!
How does a typical day go?
We really do not have any sort of routine. The only thing we do consistently every day is take our Bullmastiff puppy, Max, out for a walk. Samuel eats, whines, plays and naps whenever he wants. But between 6-6.30pm we start our bedtime routine; bath, bottle and bed. Then Alex & I will have some dinner and watch TV before heading to bed about 10pm.
How was your pregnancy?
This pregnancy was... different. For anyone reading who doesn't know our story - I gave birth to our first baby, Ella, after a mostly uncomplicated pregnancy in November 2013. When she was born, she couldn't breathe properly. She was whisked away and put on machines that literally kept her alive. It was explained to us that her lungs basically had not developed and could not inflate - like a 'sponge' was the phrase. Eight hours after she was born, after it was pretty clear there was absolutely nothing anybody could do, we made the (hardest) decision to turn off the machines.
When we later found out that Ella’s condition had been genetic we were in total panic as I was already six weeks pregnant. We had our bloods tested and neither of us had the chromosome malfunction that happened with Ella. We were told that they knew only a handful of people with Microdeletion Syndrome (of this chromosome), and that Ella was the only one to die from it, which was just awful to hear... When I found out I was pregnant again, even though we were trying, it came as a shock and I was in floods of tears in panic; what if it happened again? I tried my best to just 'forget' I was pregnant, and wished it all away. I know that's pretty terrible but I just couldn't enjoy it. Everything was so bittersweet, lovely moments all tinged with sadness and worry. During, the only problems I had were awful heartburn, and very sore ribs. I was really well looked after hospital/midwife wise.
Did you have any cravings?
Ice. Ice ice ice. But it had to be crushed.
Did you find out what you were having?
Yes. We had a private scan at 16+4. I felt I needed to know as we had so much stuff for girls, I had to know if we could keep it or had to trade it all. We kept it a secret though from everyone, only us two knew which was quite cute thinking back.
How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
Had Ella been a boy, she was going to be Thomas. So we were set on that, until actually finding out he was a boy. Lots of people already knew Ella would have been Thomas so we decided to change it and both agreed on Samuel.
How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?
I did all my research for my first pregnancy, so a lot of Samuel's pregnancy was just googling 'C section stories'.
How was your labour?
I had an elective section. I was adamant from the start that this was how I wanted to give birth, as I mentally and emotionally could not go through labour again without having a sure answer as to whether my baby was okay - if I could, then I would have done it naturally. I only felt scared once, when Alex came in with his scrubs on, held my hand and I thought 'Shit, this is it'. And then of course I cried my heart out and sighed a sigh of relief when I heard Samuel cry.
How have your pregnancies compared?
With Ella, I was really sick, all day, had no cravings and little heartburn. With Samuel, I had awful heartburn, a single craving and thankfully almost no sickness.
Does Samuel have a feeding routine?
Sadly no. We attempted to form one but it just didn't happen.
Does Samuel have a sleep routine?
He rarely naps anymore, and if he does it's a maximum of ten minutes. We have a bedtime routine, bath about 6pm in the big tub, usually with me, then a bottle, and then put to bed between 6.30-7pm. We put this into place from eight weeks though he has had a few nights away from home since, and it's gone a little to pot over the Christmas period.
How do you keep Samuel entertained?
Using his play gym, talking to each other and playing, he also loves looking in the mirror. He doesn't have a great interest in toys yet.
What do you find calms Samuel down if he’s having a freak out?
If walking around, rocking etc doesn't work then, sad to say, a dummy. I never wanted to use one, it's our last resort.
Does Samuel suffer with anything?
He's been suffering with reflux since about six weeks so has been on Gaviscon but we haven't actually had to use it at all this last week so I think it is dying down.
What are your go-to resources for information about Samuel when you're worried?
Google, which isn't always the best, but is the easiest. Or our lovely mummy IG community.
Does your baby have a favourite toy?
He like the Elli the elephant musical toy I have tied to his play gym. Or the mirror.
What was your most recent baby-related purchase?
A new filter for our Perfect Prep, ours has just run out. Oh and a backpack as my changing bag zip has broken and I can't find another as big.
What has been the most useful thing you've bought, been given or discovered?
Like many other mums, the white noise app!
What is your baby’s mode of transport?
We use a Quinny Buzz, which is okay. Or a wrap sling (Victoria Slinglady stretch wrap) which I have fallen out of love with because Samuel is too heavy now and slowly falls down. We are looking for a proper carrier, but I am a bit clueless about what to actually look for!
What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Spare clothes as he seems to keep having poop explosions lately!
Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Honestly? Cheap places are fine for me! Tesco, George for essentials. But I like Next for the nicer things.
What do you wish you’d known before you had a baby?
I kind of just wish I knew actually how tired and stressed out I would be.
What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
That every baby is different and that what works for one baby will not work as well or at all for your baby.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Just do what you feel is best for your baby. Don't worry about what other people think. If you do all your research and that something is still the best option, you feel, go ahead. Enjoy those sleepy newborn cuddles too!
Thank you for sharing, Nicole, and thank you for being so supportive of my blog x