Thursday, 26 February 2015

Mummy Time #29: Emily Stokes

Emily has impeccable taste in kids fashion and Toby is the most perfect brand rep for Dudes n Dolls, Tobias and the Bear, Young One Apparel and Grey North Shop. I can't wait to see how Emily dresses baby number two, due in June! I hope you enjoy Emily's wonderful Mummy Time post this week!


Who are you?
Hi, I’m Emily and I’m 21. I live in the city of Hereford, with my partner, Nath and our son, Toby, who is now two and a half. We are also expecting our second child in June of this year.

What do you do for a living?
Pre-baby I trained to work in Marketing which I loved, however chose not to return to as I didn’t want to work full time with Toby being so young. I now work part time in retail and part time as a PA/support worker. Not my dream but suits us well at the moment.

How long did you take for maternity leave & how did you decide how long you'd take?
I took just under a year off with Toby before I started at my retail job. I knew I wasn’t going back into marketing right away so just started when the job came along rather than planning exactly when to go back to work. My PA job, I have only been doing for a few months now. I am still unsure how long I will take next time and whether to return to both or just one.

How did you feel when you returned to work and how did it change things?
I was quite happy to return to work as all the work I did then, and still do, now works around Nath’s job as an engineer, with a little help from my Mum here and there. So I knew Toby would be in good, familiar hands. I only started off doing a few hours at a time so I was never out of the house for a long time in one go.

How do you manage the work/life balance?
Sometimes I find it tough, and tiring. Working two jobs around normal working hours means I am out most evenings and a good chunk at the weekend. It just means our family time is precious and we try to make the most of it.

How do you get things done?
Toby is pretty easy. He is usually quite happy just playing while I get on with house jobs. However I can never get any ‘work work’ from home done so usually wait to do it in an evening off or during a rare nap time.

How are you?
Generally great! This pregnancy is making me really tired but my nausea has now worn off so I’m feeling more my normal self. I could do with a few more hours sleep today but I think that’s just part of parenthood.

How do you relax?
I love to watch films or a good TV series.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Get on with work from home or tidy and clean, unfortunately. That is usually the plan but sometimes a cup of tea and browsing Instagram takes over.

How does a typical day go? 
Toby will wake up anywhere between 6 and 8am. Nath will go to work and we will go down and have milk/coffee and some breakfast, put a bit of tele on for an hour then get dressed. We then usually meet friends for a play or get the shopping done, or we sometimes go to play groups or for a swim about 10/11 o’clock. Our afternoons we usually spend playing at home and occasionally Toby will nap. I then prepare tea and have a tidy up before Nath gets home and I’m straight out of the door to work. Nath will then have Toby for the evening and put him to bed before I return home about 10pm.


How was your pregnancy?
I have suffered with awful nausea for the first trimester of both pregnancies although no complications with Toby and none this time around, so far. I think I have been very lucky.

Did you have any cravings?
Again, both have been the same so far. I can’ t get enough of really cold milkshake and ice lollies. However at the moment I am really put off bread or anything ‘squashy’.

Did you find out what you were having?
Yes we did with Toby and we are this time as well. I don’t think it’s any less of a surprise not waiting until the end… you just have the surprise half way through instead.

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
Toby was never going to be Toby throughout my whole pregnancy but it was about the only name we could both agree on. When he was born, we both fell in love with it as is just suited him so much. All of the other suggestions that we were arguing about for months just didn’t seem right. We will probably have just as tough a time this time as well. Our suggestions are just so completely different.

How did your prepare for Toby's arrival?
I did antenatal classes which were good but that was about all. I didn’t want to read up on too much as I was scared of what I might find and thought ignorance was bliss. I wanted a water birth but then changed my mind when it came to it.

How was your labour?
It was a very slow process. I was labouring at home for a day then my waters broke and Toby was born 36 hours later. Although it was long, it was a good normal delivery with no interventions needed. I had Pethidine which I hated as it made me tired so seemed to make the pain worse but it had luckily worn off by the time he actually arrived. As he was born so long after my waters broke we were both at risk of infection so had to stay in hospital for days after to be assessed regularly.


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
I breastfed for the first three months. I didn’t find it easy and had mastitis three times (I thought I was close to death) but I persevered. Toby had started to wean himself off by that time and became very difficult to feed and always seemed uncomfortable doing so. He was then diagnosed with a dairy protein allergy and I was advised to try a special dairy free formula before he started to lose weight. Although it’s not what I would have planned I am totally happy with my decision to try the formula as it made a world of difference to us. He luckily grew out of his allergy by the time he was 18 months old.

Does Toby have a feeding routine?
Toby is very unpredictable with if and what he will eat. He has always been the same despite always being encouraged and being given a good variety of food to try. I try to keep him in a routine of breakfast lunch and dinner with just a few snacks though out the day, not too close to meal times. He will then have a beaker of milk before he goes to bed.

What does Toby eat?
His favourite meal is sausage or bacon and chips, which I will make for him about once a week. Apart from that he loves pasta or rice based meals. He is not too keen on other types of meat or vegetables, although I usually manage to get some in. He has recently discovered that he likes mash potato but bread and baked beans are still a definite no go! He loves to help me make smoothies which I have found has been a great way to top him up with his five a day.

What was your approach to weaning Toby onto solids and what was their first food?
His first taste of food was baby rice at about five months. Then I moved onto puréed fruit and vegetables and added lumps gradually until he was able to eat proper meals. I also gave him finger foods to get used to feeding himself as well which he liked. He seemed to take to it really well as he was never a milk lover.

Does Toby have a sleep routine?
We’ve never had a nap routine and it’s something I regret not putting in place when he was a baby. He would only ever fall asleep in his pram or in the car which has meant a lot of miles covered in the last two years. Now he rarely naps and I actually find our daily routine easier now that he doesn’t. He has a bedtime routine of bath, milk, clean teeth, stories, bed which has always worked pretty well.

What are Toby’s favourite things to do?
He loves to swim, go to soft play, go to music groups or have a play or park date with his little friends. At home he loves to paint and colour, bake with me and play with his play doh. He likes to watch the odd bit of tele and enjoys doing puzzles and playing with his trains.

Does Toby seem to suffer with anything and what do you do to help it?
Toby always teethed really well, I realise I have been so lucky when I hear other mums horror stories. He does get a bit of dry skin and eczema but I control it by using prescription bath oils and creams.

At what age did Toby become more mobile?
He crawled at about 8 months old and started to walk just after his first birthday. We got stair gates at the top and bottom of our stairs in our old house and a big extendable one around our old heater so he couldn’t go anywhere near it. Since moving here just before his second birthday, we didn’t really need to put the stair gates back on but will have to baby proof again for number two.


Does Toby have a favourite toy?
Yes. He has an Elmo teddy that comes absolutely everywhere with us. He was only cheap and is now old and tatty but Toby loves him. To play with, it has to be his ELC wooden train table.

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
I have just bought the new baby a pair of black leather moccasins to match Toby’s but in a tiny size. We have nothing else for him/her yet, but priorities, right?!

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?
The best thing we ever bought was a baby swing, I think it was a Fisher Price one. We didn’t have one originally but Toby was such a difficult baby we were willing to try everything and anything to settle him. He loved it, to sleep in or to play in. It’s one of the only things we saved in case of future children.

What is Toby’s mode of transport?
We bought an iCandy Cherry in blue before he was born which we used up until he was about 18 months. I loved it and couldn’t fault it. It was light weight, compact and could attach the maxi cosi car seat onto. I then bought a maxi cosi Tobi (coincidence) when he was about 9 months old so he could forward face in the car when his baby seat was too small. When he outgrew the iCandy I bought a Mamas and Papas Luna which we still use now. It has been really good as I found it’s in between a pushchair and a stroller size and folds in once piece. I never tried baby wearing but might find out more about it this time. I now have my heart set on a Bugaboo Cameleon for the new babe and hoping Toby will be able to ride on a buggy board by then but we’ll see. Has anyone had a Cameleon, specifically the Cameleon3? I’d love to know your thoughts on it before buying!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
A drink and a snack. And Elmo! I am lucky he is no longer in nappies so don’t need to take a changing bag out anymore.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Baby and toddler clothes are my weakness! H&M or Zara for basics but I mainly order from independent brands online.


If you could have given your pregnant self some advice, what would it have been?
Expect every aspect of your life to change dramatically. Don’t expect to get much or any sleep some nights, and go with your instincts!

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
To make the most of every moment. Time really does go too quickly.

Lastly, is there an IG mum that you'd like to see on Mummy Time?

I have met so many lovely mummy’s on Instagram, lots that I now consider friends. You should all do this if you haven’t already!

Thank you so much for sharing, Emily and I wish you all the best for the rest of your pregnancy and beyond!

Instagram: @emilyand_t


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Pic of the week: #27

Hello! We got Joseph's chest checked on Monday after last weekend's worry but the doctor said it was all clear, just a cold and no reason not to fly. In the afternoon my dad brought my sister up from Eastbourne and we had lunch with my mum. In the evening my brother came over and we all said our goodbyes. On Tuesday Ruari and I had a morning of frantic laundry and packing (we were still drying clothes on the way to the airport) and we set caught our flight to Goa via Mumbai at 9pm. Goa is 5.5 hours ahead so we arrived on Wednesday evening and had dinner at the hotel. On Thursday we went to a 'Roce'- a traditional get-together at the bride's family home where some rituals were performed then on Friday we had a lazy day mostly by the pool and keeping Joseph entertained.

Ruari's brother got married yesterday and it was the most perfect wedding ever, with every detail planned to military precision... Fireworks went off as they were cutting the cake which was briefed to the cake-decorator using a PowerPoint presentation and a colour chart from Homebase to get the shade of French Grey just right! These guys are just incredible and so amazingly well suited. We cannot wait for the day that Joseph has a cousin!!

We are having a relaxed time here with Joseph's grandparents and great-grandparents on Ruari's side, and the now officially extended family. I am grateful for every second I spend in the heat as I know the weather has been horrible back home. Joseph's been coping so well with the change in temperature and environment- luckily it's not unbearable heat and we paid extra for a nice hotel to be on the safe side. We did have to call a doctor out for him yesterday though as I didn't like the sound of his cough again- thankfully his lungs are still clear, but his bronchioles and ears are a little congested so he is not to get his ears wet and he is to be given 10 droplets of decongestant twice a day. We've not had the doc's bill yet but the medicine was less than 50p! Annoyingly I accidentally left his amber teething anklet in the church during the ceremony (I was changing a pooey nappy in a side chapel during the vows), so it will be interesting to see how he gets on without it- I'll be able to say whether they really work! I really hope he doesn't suffer without it.

I plan to write more about our experience of taking a baby on a holiday such as this once I get back, but bear with me for the next week or so whilst I am out here.

So my pic of the week was tied between three.... One of Joseph napping in the Solly wrap when everything just felt perfect (before his cough started again), him in his wedding outfit, and one of him in his inflatable (all on my Instagram @onthechangingmat). The inflatable is adorable as his legs go through like in a baby walker, except he walks along he bottom of the pool- a bit like the Flintstones in their car! Actually, yeah, this is my favourite photo. I look a bit gross but I don't care! Look how happy he is!

I hope you had a good weekend. Sending love and sunshine from us in Goa x

(P.S. Once again, I apologise for the formatting if this post if it's squiffy... The Blogger app for iphone is rubbish!)


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Mummy Time #28: Emily Ward

Sweet Emily lives in Australia with her beautiful daughter, Claire. She takes gorgeous photos of their life in Sydney and I've been envious of all their summer sun throughout our grey winter! (And you might now be envious of mine if you're following me on IG as we arrived in Goa last night!) I'm so glad that cockroaches aren't a problem in the UK - I don't think I could handle finding Joseph with one in his mouth! I hope you enjoy this week's post!


Who are you?
Hi, my name is Emily. I'm 22 years old and from Sydney, Australia. I am a single Mumma to my gorgeous Little One, Claire, who was born on 27/05/2013 and is currently 19 months old.

I work as an Admin/Payroll Officer and have worked there since I was 17. I returned to work after 10 months of maternity leave and my work were very supportive throughout everything. Returning to work was a big milestone for me, I hardly spent anytime away from my little one and was petrified about how she would react without me there and what would happen if she didn't feed, as I was still breast feeding at the time (first time mummy worries). Luckily enough for me my Mum was able to watch her for the three days a week I did return to work. At first the thought of returning to work made me full of anxiety but now I love it again, it's my time to socialise and be involved with society again.

How are you?
Right now I am in a really good place, it has taken me a little while to get here but it's only positive and good vibes from now on. I found it difficult at the start to accept that I was going this alone but spending everyday with my little one and watching her grow made me notice, I don't need someone to complete us, we are just perfect together as our own team. After I accepted this thought, I turned everything into a positive and started to look at only the good in all things.

How do you relax?
What do I do to relax? Hmmm, that’s a hard one. To relax I like to cuddle up with Claire and watch Disney movies, go for a little walk together or have our own little dance party. Something fun always relaxes me.

How does a typical day go? 
For when I'm not working, we both would usually wake up around 8-8:30 and soon grab some breakfast. Little Miss has a big appetite and loves to eat at least a whole banana, two pieces of toast and usually some of my breakfast. Then we would get dressed and ready to take on the day. We are big fans of visiting the park and walking up to the shops as it gets us both out in the fresh air and having a little exercise. After lunch and a bit of a play or watch tv (Peppa Pig is a favourite here). Claire will have a nap for about 2-3 hours. During this time is when the housework gets done or a bit of quiet time for me to focus on writing. Not long after Claire has awoken we have dinner, shower, have a bit of quiet time which is usually tv watching and a few books, then bed.


How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy was actually great, I had no physical problems and as everyone told me I looked the same but with a gigantic beach ball for my tummy!

Did you have any cravings?
As bad as this is I craved McDonalds cheeseburgers and pineapple.

Did you find out what you were having?
I did! I couldn't not know!

How was your labour?
My labour came in very quickly. At first I didn't know I was in labour as the pain wasn't unbearable. After dinner the pain became worse so I went into the hospital at 8:50 and was taken straight into the monitoring area. I wasn't making noises or complaining so the nurse wanted to send me home, then all of a sudden my waters broke and I started giving birth in the monitoring area. I was wheeled into the birthing suite and 40 minutes later my Little Claire arrived. As I was giving birth I remember going into a trance and not taking notice of everything around me, I put my whole focus into getting this little person out and that's all that mattered. There was no time for any drugs or pain relief whatsoever but I did have to be cut as Little Miss wanted to come out into the world with one fist in the air. I fell in love straight away.


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding I honestly loved. It created this special bond with my little one and I, and was also a time to sit down and relax a little. For the first two weeks we had a few latching problems but didn't take too long to fix up, soon we were feeding constantly (every two hours) and Little Miss was gaining weight like crazy. I breast fed Little Miss until she decided she no longer wanted to feed which was just after she turned one. I loved the feeling of always having food on hand and also made night time feeds so much easier, I only needed to place Little Miss next to me. I loved breast feeding and was so happy I was able to for that long

What does Claire eat?
Little Miss Claire's favourite foods are grapes, bananas, hot chips, rice, pineapple and sausages. She is also a big fan of putting sauce on everything! When I first started Little Miss on solids I gave her puréed fruits and vegetables but soon found out she much rathered testing and eating whole foods herself, so baby led weaning began. It was, and still is, messy but she loves it and eats so much more!

Does Claire have a sleep routine?
It took us a little while to get a good sleep routine going, roughly at about six months old, as she was always hungry and wished to be fed a lot. It slowly fell into place for us but a bit of learning how to self-settle was needed. Now she happily wakes up at around 8:30am, has a nap at 1 or 2pm for roughly 2-3 hours then off to bed around 9pm. Couldn’t be happier with her sleep pattern now

What are Claire’s favourite things to do?
She loves to dance to music, play at the park, paint or colour artwork and play outside with the dog.

At what age did Claire become more mobile?
Claire learnt to crawl at 6 months and was walking at 10 months, so everything was baby proofed from an early age. She's a little explorer and loves to get into all sorts of trouble, so not long after she learnt to crawl I invested into an extra large playpen (this thing was humongous!) so she was able to explore and play during the day without getting into any danger. Of course we had the usual incidents like half eating a cockroach and finding her standing on the tv cabinet hitting the big tv (trouble seems to be her middle name).


Does Claire have a favourite toy?
She doesn't have a favourite toy as she likes to go from one to another all the time, but she can't live without her Blankie as it helps to send her off to sleep.

What is your Claire's mode of transport?
The Pram is the most used baby transport, as we like to walk a lot and also check out the shops. If we don't have to walk far then Claire loves to walk by herself. I tried to use a baby carrier ever since Claire was little but she down right refused and hated it, always wanted to get into baby wearing.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Nappies, wipes and Antibacterial lotion... You never know what can happen.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I love Pumpkin Patch as their clothes are so sturdy and very pretty. I also love to buy Claire's clothes from small businesses, I find they are so different and too adorable, plus it's great to support the independent businesses around.


Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Believe in yourself, you're doing the best you can! Enjoy every moment, especially when they are little and take notice of the small things and be in the moment with them.

Thank you for sharing, Emily! x

Instagram: @thesimpledaisy

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Instagram: Is your home as tidy as it appears online?

I asked my Insta-pals, and this is what they said:
  • F*ck no. @frazzlemcdazzle
  • No! My house is a shitheap out of shot. Pardon my swearing but seriously... I despair! @me_and_orla
  • Nope. @mummyfashionblogger
  • I should probably elaborate... We keep things fairly tidy but it's impossible to keep on top of everything in between work, baby, eating, living... So there's usually one room filled to the brim with crap. @frazzlemcdazzle
  • Nope. I wish it was. I move junk around to take photos. @alex_bettertogether
  • Never. @wild_isthewind 

I also asked...

Do you hide mess for photos? Do you let it all hang out? Are your photos carefully created and curated?

The general consensus was that peoples'  homes are clean but not necessarily tidy due to the challenges that family life presents. Dirty socks and ugly toys will get moved out of shot for Instagram photos, but for some people the mess can be part of the shot.

Curated toy mess. But I forgot to flip the turtle back over.
  • My home isn't tidy even in photos. @mrsdougan
  • Either the upstairs or downstairs of my house is tidy at any one time. You can tell by where the photo is taken which one that is at that point. @linziandalice
  • The only mess I love is a messy bed. For the photos I mix, but mostly just try to keep them as clean as possible, so if I see a dirty sock peeking I will crop the pic. @pinchtoys
  • I've definitely been known to crop out / blur background mess! @call_me_home 
  • As long as there's no dirty socks or whatever laying about I snap away! @belledubrighton
  • Definitely curated. My home is messs-yyyyy. @dustingknuckles 
  • I'm as untidy as hell but get OCDlike in photos. If there is something in the backgroud, be it a toy or an out-of-position branch then it gets moved. @wellsini 
  • Toy mess is fine but if it's because I need to clean up then I edit the hell out of it. My house is rarely tidy. Clean yes but not tidy. @cemjay23
  • No! I'm pretty sure nobody's is :) (I'd like to think so anyway). @sarah_weston_
  • I definitely hide the mess in my Instagram photos and have to judge angles when filming vlogs... My house is clean, it just gets very messy with 2 lively boys in it. @amyfbm
  • Not tidy at all! I only take photos in one corner. @thetinyacorn (brand rep extraordinaire, by the way)
  • I defo only take pics of the neat areas. @ohsewminny
  • I might go so far as moving a dirty nappy out of shot! @hannahsunited 
  • I am going to throw my hands up and admit we have a cleaner as we both work full time and it would be an Fing mess at home if not! @jazminbalfour
  • I have to say I avoid getting the more hideous toys in shot @life_as_coral
  • Sometimes the mess is neccessary for a good shot, maybe that IS the shot. What can I say, I went to art school. @themilkcollective

As for myself, I try to show as little of my home as possible as it always looks like a tip no matter how hard I try to keep on top of things! I tend to move unsightly objects out of the way or crop the photo so the clutter doesn't show (too much). Whilst I try to give my photos some thought, they are not carefully curated, but I really admire the work of those whose are. Glad to know now that I'm not the only one!

Is your home as tidy as it appears online? 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Pic of the week: #26

This week's photo has to be of my two Valentines... Outside Ikea! We'd just pulled up when someone asked me #WIDN of Instagram. Poor ol' Ruari got laughed at by his friends for striking such a pose, but he just hates looking at the camera!

Joseph stole Valentine's Day's thunder by finally deciding to graduate from the commando crawl he's been doing for the last six-ish weeks to a proper crawl [IG vid clip here]. I'll never forget that he crawled on Valentine's Day and it'll probably be something I'll tell his future girlfriends or wife one day... Or even his children if he has any! Weird thought!

This week Joseph had two swimming lessons - bit of a long story but Water Babies had to make up some of the sessions they'd cancelled and as we're on holiday for the official make up sessions we had to join another class. We've been twice at the later time of 4.45pm on a Wednesday and both times Joseph has ended up in tears and it's a bit of a worry as we've just moved to that class officially so that I'll still be able to take him when I return to work. I hope he is ok next time we go.

We went to our local soft play centre with two of Joseph's baby friends, Matilda and Henry on Tuesday, and our local baby group on Friday. It was Joseph's second time going to soft play in less than a week but it was my first time watching him. He was in his element (IG pic here) after some initial 'WTF is going on' faces and he now seems to think everywhere is a soft play centre so he can climb up on everything and it won't hurt if he falls... which sadly isn't true. He has more bumps on the head this week (always the same place!) but luckily no cat scratches this time. Today he started cruising along the sofa and Ruari spotted him completely letting go before falling to a sitting position. Maybe it won't be long until he walks? Who knows, but I'm not holding my breath!

Oh, in nerve-racking news, Joseph has picked up another cough and he barely napped today, I think, from gum ache but possibly a sore throat, I just don't know. I am taking him to the doctor first thing in the morning to get him checked. Ruari and I both said that if Joseph was poorly then we wouldn't take him to India, especially if the doctor didn't recommend him going - and I don't want to risk something mild getting worse whilst we out there, so tomorrow I'll find out of it's just a tickle or another chest infection. Hopefully I'll be blogging from Candolim in Goa next week rather than Chartham in Kent, but it really does feel up in the air right now. Eek!

Did I say last week that he started saying mama? Well, he does and has been for a couple of weeks now. But only really when he's frustrated... Slightly frustratingly!

I hope you had a good week and I wish you all a good one coming up. N'night xx

The Ordinary Moments / My Sunday Photo /

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A great post week and exciting times

As the title of this post suggests, and if you follow me on Instagram you also may already know this, but it was a great week of post for me and Joseph... And Ruari! I swear our postman thinks I'm a complete slob. The amount of times I've answered in my PJs at 11am or with Joseph strapped to me is embarrassing (the latter, less so).

1. We found out that the plans we submitted to convert our bungalow into a two-storey house were approved. Building works might be happening as early as May this year subject to us being able to being able to remortgage... Eeek! I've written a little bit about our home in the past, here. After our holiday we'll be saving up and planning the details, and I'll be glued to Pinterest for inspiration. I already have some ideas of what I want it to be like, but they're not cheap!

2. Sarah, co-founder of Buddy & Bear, kindly sent me one of her personalised prints. I have a crazed mild obsession for clouds and the fact that they are 'in' for kids at the moment is killing me. (On a side note, ASOS have a cloud clutch bag for sale and it made it into by basket, but I had to remind myself how old I was before I checked out, so I didn't get it in the end.) Anyway, I have declared my love for Buddy & Bear on the blog before, but I really do. Although this was given as a gift, I have parted monies for B&B goods in the past and would've happily paid for this, in fact I insist on paying for my next purchase! Sarah and I are actually planning a little giveaway when I get back from my holiday (we're going to India for a family wedding), so keep your eyes peeled for updates in early March. Oh, and you can read the Mummy Time post Sarah did pre-Buddy & Bear but post-Sammy, here!

3. I bought this amazing watermelon necklace from a talented lady called Lucie Ellen on Etsy. I have a mild obsession for watermelons, too. I actually own a watermelon clutch bag, but I bought it when I was in my mid-twenties rather than late so I think it's acceptable to still use it... Age is but a number an' all that... Maybe I'll buy that cloud bag afterall! I digress, again, Lucie offers free delivery and it was speedy - I ordered on Wednesday and it was here by Friday and, most importantly, in time for India.

4. When the folk over at Bambino Mio asked whether we'd be interested in giving their all-in-one cloth nappies a go, in the end, I just couldn't say no as they're something I've always wanted to try (I've been tempted to blog about my crunchy aspirations in the past). We discussed my reservations - mainly that I'd feel like a hypocrite for using a tumble dryer (our home is prone to damp so can't use the radiators) when the point of them is being kind to the environment, but Joreen at BM reminded me that I'd still be helping reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, even if I only used them part-time. I'll be blogging about how we got on with them once we've given them a good test-run upon our return from India. One of the challenges I've been set is to see how they cope overnight and night time leaks were another one of my reservations. I'm also intrigued to see how Joseph's skin reacts as he's a bit prone to nappy rash.

5. When I came across the cloud clutch bag I was actually hunting for a dress to wear to the wedding we're going to (last minute, I know, but buying a summery dress in winter is a nightmare so was leaving it as late as possible). I found the dress which isn't actually summery at all, and it's currently being taken up at the tailors as I am short and it's a maxi-dress. I plan to wear Joseph in our Solly Baby Wrap for the wedding which is yellow so I wanted something to co-ordinate with it so it's navy blue. I'm hoping neither of us will get too hot but I've borrowed a stroller from my friend to sit him in instead if need be. Which reminds me, I need to get Joseph a little fan.

6. Lastly, I bought this card for Valentine's Day for Ruari from another former Mummy-Timer, Lyndsay who now has a shop called Hamish and the Hen which sells her calligraphy-d goods. I love it and Ruari loved it too. You can read Lyndsay's Mummy Time post here.

Have you got any interesting post lately?! And, do you have any travel tips for Joseph and I?! I'm looking for a good insect repellent and ways to keep him cool at the moment.

Hope you've had a good Valentine's day... we went to Ikea and shopped around for last-minute holiday bits n' bobs. This evening Ruari watched the rugby whilst I blogged... but we ate donuts together so that was our shred of romance!
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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mummy Time #27: Claire Rogers

Wow! It's been ages since I had a tiny baby on the blog, and this week I'm pleased to be share Claire's story thus far with baby Jacob who was just ten weeks old at the time of writing. I, for one, found myself nodding along to many parts of Claire's post and I loved the advice she was given to banish the word 'should' from her vocabulary as a mother. Oh and I wish there were Mothers Meetings near me too!

Who are you?
Hi, I’m Claire, I’m 33 years old and I have recently had my first baby…yey me!  I am currently living in South Liverpool with partner/Baby Daddy and dreaming of becoming a ‘proper’ family where we all share the same surname!   We welcomed Jacob Edward Sadler into the world on Sunday 2nd November, 9 days earlier than expected and with a fair bit of drama too!

What do you do for a living?
I am currently on maternity leave from my job as a full time Head of Drama in an all girls school; I will return for the last week or so of this academic year and then return ‘properly’ in September., so Jacob will be just 8 months when I leave him for the first time, though I will get the 6 week holiday to be with him again!  Returning in July is a financial decision as my entitlement to Occupational Maternity Pay will have run out and if I don’t go back I’ll only received statutory pay over the summer holidays which we can’t really afford to do! At the moment, I can’t imagine handing my little boy over to someone else to look after for 10 or so hours a day!  I know people say teachers have it easy with all the holidays and so on, but in fact an average working day is very difficult and very long, especially in subjects such as mine which often offer additional activities after school.  I am just in the process of researching and arranging childcare, a difficulty being I need care from 7.30am-5.30pm and many local nurseries and child-minders don’t take children until 8am. At the moment, I’m quite flexible as to whether we go with a child-minder or a nursery, but maybe further research will help to clarify the pros and cons of each option.

How are you?
At the moment I’m pretty good, as my partner was off over Christmas (he’s a teacher too) so I’ve had help and some adult company!  As a general rule though, I’m pretty tired and find it difficult to get through everything I think I should on any given day, but that might be more to do with my unrealistic expectations about keeping on top of the housework as well as being with Jacob. We also have a dog, a Greyhound called Cassie and I feel so guilty that I don’t give her enough time and attention, and that her walks have been compromised as it’s such a challenge to get out of the house with her and the baby, especially in Winter weather.

What do you do to relax?
I love nothing more than a nice long soak in a hot bath!  I grab a glass of wine and a good book and get out my ‘fancy’ bath products, light a few candles and soak away…bliss!

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
In my spare (?!) time I go to a craft and cocktails group called ‘Neighbourhood Sewcial’ held at a local bistro once a month.  I am definitely a craft and sewing novice, but it’s been a great way to meet people since moving to Liverpool and my crafty skills are improving, and there are also a few other mums with young children who attend so it has been a great way of getting advice and talking about Jacob. I find it particularly inspiring that many of the women who attend run their own businesses, and for some it has been something they began after having children and this is something I am considering for the future.

How does a typical day go?
A typical day sees Jacob’s Daddy leaving for work at about 7am, so we are usually awake from about 6ish.  Jacob has breakfast and a bit of a play on his mat while I eat my breakfast, then he has a nap while I have a shower.  He eats again around 11/11.30am and we try and go out around 12ish, either to meet a few other new mummies for coffee, or just to the shops. And he naps in his pram or sling, or he naps at home.  Depending on when we get back, Jacob will eat around 3.30/4ish.  He then normally has another bit of playtime, and if his Daddy is back from work early we might go out as a family and take the dog for a walk, and he might nap in his pram or sling.  We start getting ready for a bath from 6ish, so when his Daddy comes home around 6.30pm he can be involved in bath-time, and we’ve just this week started ‘bath, feed, story then bed’ and he goes down about 7.30pm though he doesn’t always go straight to sleep.   We normally get a couple of hours as a couple from around 8pm, where we try and eat together and catch up, but by about 9.30 I’m usually feeling pretty shattered.  We’ve just started the ‘dream feed’ idea, so Jacob normally eats anywhere between 10.30pm and 12.30am.  He then wakes between 3am and 4am for another feed.  Phew!


How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy was fairly straight forward; I found out I was Rhesus Negative so had the Anti-D injection, and also that my placenta was low lying, so we had a scan at 36 weeks but all was well and everything had moved out of the way so I could ahead and plan a natural water birth.

Did you find out what you were having?
I really wanted to find out what we were having, I guess the teacher in me likes to plan ahead and I wanted to decorate the nursery to reflect the gender without going for the typical gender stereotypes, but my partner wasn’t sure if he wanted to know. On the day we went for the 20week scan though he suddenly changed his mind.  He was convinced we were having a girl, and of course we would have been delighted either way.

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
As my partner is a Lay clerk at Liverpool Cathedral we wanted something quite traditional and biblical, but we couldn’t settle on a name.  We went to the hospital with two names, Jacob and Isaac and even when he arrived we couldn’t decide and he was ‘Baby’ for the first day!  Then my Dad came to visit and said he’d had a dream that we had called him Jacob; we hadn’t discussed it with anyone so we knew it was a sign and the name was chosen!

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?
We attended the Antenatal classes put on by the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and an additional Breastfeeding workshop.  I also attended pre-natal Yoga classes for breathing and relaxation, having previously taken Hot Yoga classes prior to being pregnant.  I read a couple of books, but actually found that when he first arrived I was obsessed with checking the books and trying to work out what to do, that I was ignoring my instincts and putting unnecessary stress and myself and on Jacob in those early days.

How was your labour?
Labour was a bit dramatic!  My waters broke in the early hours of Halloween but my contractions didn’t start.  I went in to hospital and they told me to go back that night for induction. When I arrived, I was told that I could be managing myself at home for a couple of days before induction was necessary, so I jumped at the chance to go home and wait for labour to start naturally. Obviously, this was because I wanted a natural birth, but it was also because my partner was in New York at the time!  I wasn’t due until the 11th November so he had gone on tour with his choir!  I rang him and explained the situation, and he began making plans to get a flight back! 

Natural labour started the following morning, and yes my partner made it, via Heathrow and a long car journey back to Liverpool.  I went in to hospital around 4pm and was 6cm.  I had wanted a water birth in the MLU, but as my waters had gone with no contractions  I was put straight onto the Main Delivery Suite.  I was determined to just use gas an air and all was going well, making it to 10cm around midnight.  The midwife was so encouraging, and I believed I’d be able to go the whole way without any other pain relief.  I also found labour a huge bonding experience; my partner was great, and we played lots of our favourite music to create a calm atmosphere, and thought it might sound strange, I love it that certain songs now remind me of that night, as I felt a real closeness between us as we worked together t bring new life into the world! But when it cam to pushing nothing was happening, and soon the midwife was telling me she would need to get a Doctor, as it had been too long since my waters broke and I was at risk of infection.  At around 2am a Doctor cam and told us that Jacob had his head twisted and that I wouldn’t be able to push him out.  They decided on an Assisted Delivery with Ventouse, but prepped me for theatre in case an emergency caesarean was needed.  I was so upset and disappointed.

All that matters though, is that he arrived safe and sound at 4.35am on Sunday 2nd November!


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Initially I thought breastfeeding was going well; he latched on quickly after delivery, and anyone who came to see me to check how it was going seemed pleased.  It quickly became difficult though when Jacob was admitted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for light therapy for Jaundice, only two days after we had brought him home. Further complications arose and I became very stressed in the hospital environment, which I think affected my milk supply, and when we returned home, only to be re-admitted the following day it became apparent that Jacob wasn’t eating enough to help his body clear out the Bilirubin causing the jaundice, and the Doctor recommended topping him up with formula. I was devastated, and felt like a failure.  These feelings continued for about two weeks, along with an overwhelming sense of guilt that I had ‘given up’ to easily.  Though I continued to combine feed for a month, the midwife doing our follow up care was concerned about my state of mind, and how tired I was as I was basically spending all my time feeding by offering the breast and then topping up.  After about 4 weeks, I knew my supply hadn’t really established and we moved over to formula only.  I knew I had to just let my feelings of guilt go and start enjoying my time with Jacob, so that’s what I did!

Does Jacob have a feeding routine?
Jacob tends to eat every 3 to 3 and a half hours- his routine is becoming more established now and if we are out and about he can go a bit longer. He is currently on six ounces of Aptamil at each feed.  We loosely follow a routine of eat, play, nap which has just sort of developed as we’ve spent time together.  We got him a ‘Ewan the Dream Sheep’ for Christmas which has been great at helping him settle, and indicates to him when it is time to go to sleep.

How do you keep Jacob entertained?
Jacob is really starting to focus and be entertained by our interaction now, which is brilliant.  He loves lights and mirrors, and a squeaky dinosaur hand puppet he got for Christmas!  He loves his play gym too, and is now reaching out to hit the little fishes that hang from it.   

When you're Jacob's having a freak-out, what do you find helps to calm him?
Jacob definitely likes to move, so I tend to walk around holding him or with him in his sling, and have a dance and a singsong to whatever is on the radio, though he does like a bit of Stevie Wonder! 


Have you taken Jacob on any holidays or away from home?
Having hosted Jacob’s first Christmas at our house, we decided to go away for New Year, just the three of us.  We booked a converted barn on a working farm a few miles outside of Cardigan Bay, South Wales for four nights.  Jacob was a bit poorly with bronchiolitis, so it’s difficult to say if it was the change in surroundings, or him feeling under the weather but he was definitely unsettled, particularly in the evenings.  We travelled by car, which took about four hours with a stop on the way.  Jacob was great and slept most of the time.  It was lovely just being a little family of three for a few days though; Jacob’s spell in hospital for the first week of his life meant we only had one proper week together before my partner returned to work.

What were Jacob's holiday essentials?
We seriously over packed!  We took far too many clothes for Jacob given that we spent most of our time snuggled in front of the TV. We took the electric steriliser for his bottles, as we are not used to sterilising them by any other means so this was definitely an essential.  We also took his Bednest, which we are renting for 6 months as this fold down really well, and we were worried he might not sleep in a large travel cot.  We also use a Sleepyhead pod, which has been a lifesaver for getting him to sleep as we co-shared at first and this meant we could do it safely.  I’m hoping it will also ease the transition into his cot in his own room when the time comes.  We also took a folding book (another Christmas present!), which stands up and can also be used inside a pram/crib to keep Jacob entertained.


Does Jacob have a favourite toy?
Jacob is only just starting to show an interest in toys, but he has loved his Mamas and Papas Octopus play gym since birth.  He loves to watch the fish, and has now realised he can see a reflection in the mirror, though I don’t think he knows it is him!

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
My most recent purchase was a large activity play mat, again from Mamas and Papas. I wanted somewhere a bit larger than the play gym for Jacob to play on, ready for when he starts wiggling around and rolling over.  It looks great in our spare bedroom, which we are trying to use as an office/play room, and it means we can leave it laid out, rather than using it down stairs where I’m sure our dog would take ownership of it!

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?
Without a doubt, our most useful purchase has been the Tommee Tipeee Perfect PrepMachine.  When we moved onto bottles full time, we found it difficult to keep Jacob calm while we waited for the bottle to cool down.  This way, we know that we can prepare a feed in a matter of minutes- it certainly makes the night feeds easier!

What Jacob’s mode of transport?
We’ve got a Mamas and Papas Urbo 2, and use a Maxi Cosi Pebble car seat, with adapters so it can fit our pram base, though we try not to take him out in the car seat for too long.  I’ve loved having the carrycot in the winter as it is keeping him warm and snuggly.  I’ve also started using the NCT Caboo wrap; we bought a more structured Mamas and Papas carrier during pregnancy, but when I used it the first time I wasn’t sure it was providing the right support for Jacobs hips, but I was nervous about using a traditional wrap, and the NCT Caboo has rings which feel so secure.  I’m definitely a baby-wearing fan!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Obviously I need to take formula if we are out for a few hours, and we tend to use ready mixed single serving bottles.  My friend recently gave me a Skip Hop travel changing mat, which can fit into a regular handbag, so I can see that becoming a staple item too!  I also keep a mirror/rattle toy in my bag it is portable, and seems to be keeping Jacob entertained for now!

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I love Gap Baby wear, and Next have some great quality baby clothes… but I do try to support independent business by purchasing from Etsy etc. I love browsing Instagram for cool, independent brands, and now Jacob is getting a bit older (and is growing out of the clothes he was given as gifts) I’m really looking forward to styling him up!


If you could give your pregnant self some advice what would it be?
I know people say the first few weeks are hard, but I don’t think you can comprehend just how hard they will be until you live through them!  I wish I had been less obsessed with what ‘the books’ said and trusted by instincts a bit more, and basically just relaxed and let things take their course without putting myself under too much pressure. I wish I’d read ‘How to be a Hip Mama Without Losing Your Cool’ by Jenny Scott whilst I was pregnant, as it really reinforces that its ok to make mistakes, that’s its ok to just keep doing the best you can, and that as new mums we are not alone.  I just wish there were ‘Mothers Meetings’ near me!

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
Banish the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary!  As in ‘I should be cleaning the house as well as looking after the baby’, ‘The baby should be sleeping through’, ‘I should be able to cope on my own’.  We need to stop ‘should-ing’ and just deal with things the way they are.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Make sure you find time to do something allows you to be you, and not ‘Mummy’. Of course, being a Mummy is a life changing experience, and another facet to our identities, but it isn’t all we are and it’s ok to have interests outside of Mummyhood. 

Thank you so much for sharing, Claire! x