Thursday, 5 February 2015

Mummy Time #26: Nicola Thorpe

Between them I think Nicola and baby Tabby have possibly the most enviable collection of eye wear, clothing and nick-nacks going! Tabby has the cheekiest little face and I'm pretty sure she has to be the best-dressed almost-one-year-old in all of Nottingham! Nicola's feature touches on breastfeeding whilst being back at work, birth plans going out of the window and, sadly, miscarriage. Thank you so much for sharing with the blog, you incredibly mama.


Who are you?
Hi, I'm Nicola, I'm 35 (gulp, saying that out loud sounds too real, I still feel 25!) I live in Nottingham, in a house we've spent the last three years renovating. I live with my husband Nick (yes we have the same name) of nearly four years who I met six years ago when I rented him a bachelor pad, our two dogs & our daughter Tabitha who will be a year old on the 12th of February.

What do you do for a living?
I'm an estate agent, a nice honest one- they do exist, I promise! Before Tabby I was in sales & ran my own area, however since returning last month I work on lettings side of things. I work two and a half days a week and unfortunately I couldn't do my original role part time so my current role is less responsibility, but with Tabby around I am more than happy with that. The dream is to run my own business- something baby fashion related so I'm hoping to pull my finger out & make it happen in 2015!

How long did you take for maternity leave
I took ten months off for maternity leave. I really wish I'd taken the whole year as I didn't feel ready to go back. To be honest I don't think I would have ever felt ready, however needs must & I am super lucky that my mum is a childminder so has Tabby whilst I am at work so I would have been stupid not to go back really. Tabby has such a fantastic time at my mum's. 

It has been tough as Tabby is still breast fed so I've had to express like a mad woman to allow me to continue to do this. I also express at work in the toilets, not much fun when you work with a bunch of young lads, I think it's definitely more embarrassing for them than me. Work have been great about it & my supply has not been affected yet so I manage to feed as normal on my days off. 

How do you manage the work/life balance?
On the 3 days I work there isn't much balance really, by the time I have put T to bed, packed our bags for the following day it's nearly bed time. However, I know that it's only a few days & then I have 4 days to spend with my family. 

How do you get things done?
I cheat!! I have a cleaner, naughty I know but Tabby has never been one for napping in her cot & usually takes her naps on me so I gave in when she was a few months old. I'm lucky that Nick works from home & runs his own business so is always around if I need a hand with anything. 

How are you?
Honestly I'm shattered, totally & completely happy but shattered. Tabby has only just these past few weeks started to go longer than three hours straight at night, and the last few nights she has only woken once so fingers crossed that continues. Being a mum is just the best thing- she makes my heart burst with pride every day so I forget about the tiredness within a few minutes of waking up... with the help of a cup of tea!

What do you do to relax?
A cup of earl grey & Hollyoaks, I know, I know I am far too old to watch Hollyoaks but I can't seem to give it up. 

How does a typical day go.
When I'm not at work a typical day goes like this: Tabby wakes between 5am & 6am & comes into bed with us for a feed & maybe another snooze till 7ish. We then hang in bed cuddling & watching a little Peppa Pig (it's the only time of the day when she will actually sit still) then it's downstairs for breakfast about 8am.
We then get dressed & head out to run errands while Tabby naps in the pushchair, she usually wakes at 10:30am then it's snack & playtime. 
Lunch is around 12pm- a lot if the time we head out for lunch, to a local play centre or to meet up with friends.
Tabby's second nap is between 1:30pm & 3pm & is usually taken on me, or in the car on the way home. After her nap it's sensory playtime (we have a box of household bits she loves to play with). 
Dinner is usually around 4:30pm, we then watch In The Night Garden then it's upstairs for a long play in the bath, some quiet time, a bedtime story, milk, then bed by 6-6:30pm. 
Nick & I then usually have tea together, catch up on the day then crash in front of the tv for an hour before we head up to bed.


Tabby wasn't my first pregnancy, there had been three before her. Unfortunately I had three miscarriages, one of which was a Molar pregnancy which was even more upsetting as it meant we couldn't get pregnant for at least six months afterwards. I tell you what though, she was definitely worth waiting for!

How was your pregnancy?
I suffered with bad morning sickness until 16 weeks, this was obviously unpleasant, however I loved the fact that I was sick, it's gave me reassurance that everything was still ok in there. Apart from that & a little hip pain in the last month or so I had a fantastic pregnancy, I loved being pregnant & miss my bump.

Did you have any cravings?
No cravings as such, however I couldn't stomach tea or even cold water for the first 12 weeks- it had to be warm with a dash of lemon cordial.

Did you find out what you were having?
We certainly did! After what we'd been through it felt more real that way.

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
Tabby was Tabby from about six months, Nick took some convincing- he liked Tabby but wasn't as keen on Tabitha but by the time she arrived he loved it.

How did your prepare for your Tabby’s arrival?
We did NCT. The classes weren't particularly beneficial, however I made some lovely friends who I spent most of my maternity leave with. 

How was your labour?
I look at my birth plan now and I laugh! Everything I didn't want, I had. My plan said 'no intervention', 'birthing pool', 'only gas & air' & nothing went to plan.
I was induced at 41 weeks & 5 days pregnant, Tabby was comfy in there & had shown no signs of coming without a little persuasion. My contractions started with some help on Tuesday morning at 1am & continued 5 mins apart until 10pm the following evening when they popped me on the drip... 16 hours, a shot of diamorphine, an epidural & a ventouse delivery later Tabitha Annabelle was born. 8 pounds 3 ounces of wrinkly purple skin & masses of jet black hair! 
It's funny really, all the things I was scared of, I ended up having. Yes it was tough, of course, it was childbirth but I'd have done it all over again that night & every night since. 


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Tabby breastfed like a pro & still does. She latched on within minutes of being popped on my chest- it was incredible to watch. I've had no issues with supply or latch, however anyone who says it doesn't hurt is lying. I heard so many people say if it hurts they aren't latched on properly- that's rubbish- it hurts anyway! Your poor nipples get so sore but it passes & Lansinoh cream is a lifesaver.

What was your approach to weaning Tabby onto solids and what was her first food?
Tabby is an amazing eater. We started at 5 1/2 months with baby rice and continued with a mixture of baby led & purée & I am still am yet to find something she won't eat. Avocado, cheese & bananas are her very favourite. She has three meals a day, snacks, as well as milk feeds in the morning, mid afternoon & bedtime as well as when she wakes up at night.

Does Tabby have a nap/ sleep routine and how did you put it in place, or did it fall into place?
We started a bed time routine fairly early on. This consists of the four B's, Bath, Book, Braveheart & Boob. (Nick started playing the Braveheart theme tune to her before bed one night when she was tiny & she coo'd the whole way through so it quickly became part of the routine) It worked straight away and although she has never been the greatest sleeper waking a few times a night she usually goes down easily & settles back down after wake ups quickly.

Naps are another story, however, she currently sleeps mid morning & mid afternoon for just over an hour. These naps are either taken in the car, pushchair or on me. This has never been a problem really, I love our naps together. 

How do you keep Tabby entertained?
Tabby loves to crawl around & play with anything non toy related, keys, phones, tv remotes & toothbrushes are her favourite. She loves looking out the window & being outside watching the world go by.

When Tabby's having a freak-out, what do you find helps them to calm down?
I'm really lucky as Tabby is such a content little soul but if she is unsettled breast feeding always works & seems to calm her instantly.

What are your go-to resources for information about your baby when you're worried?
I loved & still love the week by week & month by month baby books by Dr Caroline Fertleman. Really matter of fact & extremely helpful. 


Does Tabby have a favourite toy?
I noticed when Tabby was little she liked to play with the labels on all her soft toys so I bought her a tag blanket which she adores & can't sleep without 'Taggy'. In fact I watch her wake up on our video monitor & reach out for her blanket to settle herself back to sleep. 

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
We've recently bought an Ikea Antilop high chair. We have had a Bloom Fresco chair since before Tabby was born, however we wanted to have one to take to peoples houses. The Ikea one is light, easily collapsible & at £13, a complete bargain! 

What has been the most useful thing you've bought, been given or discovered?
Ewan The Dream Sheep. It's a soft toy that plays womb sounds. This really helped sooth Tabby in the first few months & we still use it now. 

What is Tabby’s mode of transport?
Pushchairs was the one thing I allowed myself to research before I was 20 weeks pregnant  & I decided to go with the Uppababy Vista & I've not been disappointed. I can't fault it, it's great on all terrains, easily collapsible & it's all black, which I love. We also use a Baby Bjorn carrier which Tabby still goes in at 11 months old. I find it really comfortable to wear & washes well. Tabby didn't used to be a fan of her pushchair so we have heavily relied on it.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I buy most of Tabby's clothes online. We are lucky enough to be a brand rep for Tobias & The Bear, so we get their fantastic leggings to wear. I love Mini Rodini & Beau Loves, and the Aussie brand Sapling Child is one of my favourites. I also love Monkey & Mole moccs- these have been a staple item of Tabby's wardrobe. On the high street my faves are Zara Mini & Baby Gap.

What have you got planned for Tabby's first birthday?
We're having a pastel rainbow themed party with all her little friends at my mum's house. We are going to take her to the sea life centre in Birmingham on her actual birthday and we've also booked a cake smash which I'm really looking forward too.

What have you bought her? 
She had so much stuff for Christmas that we've tried not to go mad but it's so hard. We've bought her a beautiful doll bed by Small Stuff & a doll to go in it. A Little White Company haul of pjs (I've refused to swap baby grows for pyjamas until now as they are just too grown up) dressing gown & slippers & a dombo cup as well as some new clothes which include a Mini Rodini Expedition snow suit for next winter. A little premature I know but it was in the sale so how could I resist.


What do you wish you'd known before you had a baby?
I wish I had known just how quick it goes. The first few weeks were such a blur, with sleep deprivation & hordes of visitors, I felt that I didn't get to appreciate her being so tiny. You are also so excited about the next stage you almost wish away the current one. I wish you could bottle up each one. I wish the 3 of us had hibernated for the first few weeks. I suppose what I'm saying is just to cherish every moment, they really don't stay newborn for long.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Do whatever is right for you & your baby at that time, not just what people tell you.
There has been so many times that I have worried we were doing things wrong, like feeding to sleep for instance. So many people have said that I'm creating a rod for my own back, but it suits us & Tabby is happy. Follow your instincts & your babies lead. You know your baby better than anyone! 

Thank you again much for sharing, Nicola, and I can't wait to see pictures of Tabby's first birthday party! 

You can find Nicola and Tabby on Instagram: @tabbytales x

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