Thursday, 30 April 2015

Mummy Time #38: Rachel Fletcher

Rachel is hilarious, super lovely and oozes super cool. And have you seen her badass lavender locks? I loved reading Rachel's post and I'm sure you will too. Also I'm totally writing her wise words on my fridge: 'Yesterday was a shower of shit? Move on! Today will be ace!' What I'd give for just an ounce of Rachel's sass!


Who are you?
Hi, I’m Rachel. I live just outside Cardiff in a little place by the sea with my ‘musician in a former life’ Adam. We used to live in quite possibly the coolest apartment ever, slap-bang in the centre of Cardiff. Totally not-child-friendly but perfect for our first home. July 12th 2013 Edith Arrietty Franklin was born. 14 months later, on September 12th 2014, Rudy Kite Franklin arrived. My brood and I moved to quiet suburbia to grow, play and live.

What do you do for a living?
I used to be front of house for a salon in Cardiff. I loved it there, and wouldn’t hesitate to go back. However the cost of childcare for two small children meant I had to make the decision of not returning after my maternity leave. It’ll only be until they are both in school, then it’ll back to the adult world where conversation doesn’t revolve around Frozen, dinosaurs and "I CAN’T GET MY SHOES ON (for the fiftieth time today)".

How do you get things done?
Early mornings, late nights! It’s the only way I can fit everything in. I’m one of those awfully annoying clean freaks, so struggle to go to bed without having made sure it’s all ‘right’ beforehand. We are also very lucky to have a home that’s fairly open-plan; we’ve made sure it’s as child-friendly as possible so I can let them loose without worrying they’re causing damage to the house (and themselves, obvs). They both sleep in with us, so we turned the second bedroom into a playroom. Quite often they’ll happily play in there by themselves, allowing me to clean up/pee/check Instagram.

How are you?
At times, struggling. Those times when they’re the best of friends and we’re all laughing and playing are brilliant but when shit hits the fan, it descends into chaos. Edie has her days when everything is fair game for a tantrum. Non-stop meltdowns. Add in to that a baby that is usually the most chilled and relaxed person I know, until he gets hungry. Or sleepy. Or bored. Then loop that for 10 hours until Adam comes home from work and I wail for help and/or wine. HOWEVER this is not every day. Yes, I am perpetually tired. Yes, emptying a can of dry shampoo into my hair is necessary. Yes, Adam and I haven’t had a night together alone since October 2013… but I expected this. I knew this is what we were taking on, so I’m ok with the tiredness and the noise and the constant ‘Row Row Row Your Boat…” - I give each new day a chance and get on with it. Yesterday was a shower of shit? Move on! Today will be ace.

What do you do to relax?
Bubble baths and booze. If it’s in the middle of the day, just the bath (sadly).

How does a typical day go? 
I’m woken up around 6/7am by either Rudy clawing at my face or Edie rolling around on top of me, shouting for food. Breakfast is a hands-on affair, with both babies given toast/brioche, yoghurts and fruit. 9 times out of 10 the fruit is tossed on the floor and the yoghurt smeared over naked bodies, but the toast/brioche is usually a hit. Got to love babies and their varied diets. Rudy naps, Edie runs around in her nappy until I can pin her down long enough to get clothes on her and then we’re out of the house. Sometimes we’ll only venture as far as the park at the end of our road. Sometimes we’ll head into Cardiff to meet with friends. The best days are when we have a boozy pub lunch. Adam gets home from work around 6/7pm. We always aim to eat together, and that usually means a very messy and hectic mealtime. Then it’s bath, pyjamas, milk for Rudy and bed… the last bit doesn’t always come straight away. We’re fairly relaxed with sleeping times and arrangements, and have never set a definite bed time for either baby. Rudy’s fairly consistent in that he’s down by 8.30pm at the latest. Edie, on the other hand, could stay up all night if she could. Once we’ve managed the impossible and both kids are asleep, Adam and I usually have a drink (bourbon and tonic for him, gin and tonic for me thanks) and either watch something on Netflix (Better Call Saul was our most recent series) or just catch up with each other. I finish the cleaning, answer a few emails and then by midnight we’re normally in bed. Rudy still wakes a couple of times in the night for a feed so neither of us will get a full night, then it’s back to it at 6am where we do it all again.


How were your pregnancies?
My first pregnancy was absolutely fine. Nothing really to complain about apart from having to be prescribed iron tablets. Not much fun, but nothing to worry about. My second pregnancy wasn’t as easy-going. I started off being told I was going to be under consultant-led care, as I had a very low BMI and I carry large babies. I had to be tested for gestational diabetes (which was negative). I was again prescribed iron tablets, but this time around my iron count plummeted to a dangerous level meaning that 3 weeks before I was due to give birth I was hooked up to a drip, being given iron intravenously to prevent a potential blood transfusion after labour. I also had AWFUL heartburn - there’s an old wives tale that heartburn when pregnant is caused by the baby’s hair. Rudy came out with a full-on Paul Weller-style mop. Believe what you will.

Did you have any cravings?
Brazil nuts, avocados, ice, mints. Anything crunchy, really. It was the same with both.

Did you find out what you were having?
YES! No way would we be able to last that long without knowing.

How did you decide on your names?
As soon as we found out I was pregnant, we’d decided on names within about a week (both times). No messing about, straight to the point.


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Not so well first time round. Edie struggled to feed. We carried on for six weeks until we started giving her formula, and I will never regret that decision. She changed from an angry little ball of fury to a funny, sociable, happy person.
Rudy took to it very well. I made the decision to switch to formula when he was 4 months old. I know, I know… if it was going so well, why stop? I struggled to care for Edie while cluster feeding Rudy. He was always so hungry, he was feeding either every hour or just constantly throughout the day. The change worked for us. He’s still always hungry, but now I’m not the only one who can feed him.

Do the babies have a feeding routine?
We have a loose routine of breakfast around 7/8am, lunch around midday and an evening meal around 6/7pm. I work off how the babies are - if they ask for food before then, I feed them.
Edie is an annoyingly fussy eater, and goes through phases. Currently we are in the ‘spaghetti hoops, brioche and yoghurt’ phase. Rudy will mash anything you place in front of him into his mouth.
We started weaning both babies at the very earliest point you could, 17 weeks. It wasn’t like they hadn’t tried food before then, anyway. Edie was known to suck the butter off a slice of toast when you weren’t looking, and Rudy had his fair share of chocolate to lick off people’s fingers.
We went down the puree route with Edie. We went through pouch upon pouch of Ella’s Kitchen food, some were successful but the majority weren’t. Slowly I started letting her feed herself, but still trying to spoon-feed her at least once a day so I knew she was eating something. When it came to weaning Rudy, I pureed some fruit myself to start him off but when it became clear that he LOVED food I started just giving him the same food as Edie & let him go for it. His current favourites are strawberries, bananas, salmon fillets and ham. Big thick chunks of ham that he can just gnaw on. Also, he bloody loves Quavers but shush.

How do you keep them entertained?.
iPad. Best invention ever. Works as entertainment and as an educational tool (Edie knows what a boxfish and a gila monster is, thank you. However I’m not entirely sure how useful those bits of information are…). Apple devices aside, Edie loves singing. Clearly gets that from Adam as the thought of singing in public brings me out in a rash. Rudy loves his walker - he’s been zooming around the house in it since he was 4 months old, and gets ratty if he has to sit still for any amount of time.

At what age did they become more mobile?
Rudy was ‘mobile’ from 4 months - not independently because it was in his walker, but suddenly we now had two babies who could run around the house. Edie reluctantly started crawling at around 10 months, but then very quickly progressed to walking two weeks after her 1st birthday. Rudy is 7 months old and is right on the edge of being able to crawl. Our house is pretty child-proof so no real worries there.

What are your go-to resources for information when you're worried?
Google. Every time.

How did Edie react when Rudy came along?
Edie was insanely jealous with Rudy’s arrival. Slapping his face when he was feeding and trying to pull me away from him. I can’t pinpoint when that changed, but she adores him now. First thing she wants to do after she’s woken up is to go and see him. She introduces him to people. We took them to a farm last weekend and she turned to him and said “Rudy, chicks!”, pointing inside a chicken house - that was nice.


Do Edie and Rudy each have a favourite toy?
Again, iPad. Seriously, I never leave home without it.
Due to Edie’s fickle nature, her favourite toy depends on her mood - in her current rotation are her dinosaurs, her Schleich animals, her castle and her Frozen figures.
Rudy loves anything that makes a noise. Musical instruments, mainly. Also he really likes the LuckyBoySunday Kiki doll, mainly chewing her face (I wince a little every time he does).

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?
We bought the Spherovelo EarlyRider recently because HAVE YOU SEEN IT? It just so cool. Also it’s good for their motor-skills and other reasons you should really be buying your kids toys for.

What has been the most useful thing you've bought/ been given/ discovered?
Edie uses an app called Touch,Look, Listen. It’s AMAZING. So easy and basic - teaches a variety of ‘first words’ that extends beyond the usual ball, coat, dog, mum (see ‘gila monster’ above).
Mr Tumble is bloody fantastic. The amount of Makaton (a simplified sign language) Edie knows is enormous. It helped especially when Edie's speech hadn’t caught up with the rest of her, and we all went through a period of frustration of not knowing what she wanted. She could mimic actions far better than she could mimic words, and suddenly words such as ‘food’ when she was hungry could be expressed.

What are your babies' modes of transport?
I use both a Stokke Scoot and a BabyBjorn carrier. I find the Scoot absolutely brilliant. When we lived in the city centre it was great for nipping about, the raised seat perfect as a highchair-on-the-go for when I was constantly having the type of coffee dates and long lunches you can have with one small baby (ooh that was the life). Since moving away, it’s been so handy for the daily trips I make on public transport. We bought the BabyBjorn carrier when I had Edie. She hated it (obviously, she hated everything then) so off it went into a cupboard until I needed something to carry Rudy in. We dabbled with a double buggy, but even the smallest version is too unwieldy. He LOVES being worn. I love it, too. Less so when Edie wants to be carried on my hip at the same time but, hey, just call it arm day.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
iPad, brioche, Quavers, nappies, milks, phone charger, hip flask. Some days I wish the last one was true.


What do you wish you'd known before you had a baby?
I wish that I was told that you should never feel guilty! Lose the guilt! Don’t feel guilty that you don’t like pregnancy, that the birth doesn’t go to plan, that you don’t instantly fall head over heels in love with your little one, that you crave your pre-baby life, that you aren’t ‘doing the right thing’…You ARE doing the right thing. You ARE doing amazingly well. No your ‘old’ life won’t return, but a new one will form and you will like it, at times love it (and believe me, you do still find time to drink wine!).

Thank you so much for sharing, Rachel!

Follow Rachel on Instagram: @oh_merde  
Read Rachel's birth story with Edie on the Crafted Sisterhood blog.

Monday, 27 April 2015

The things you do: #4

  • Everything is a cat. The pet rabbit is a cat, and so is every animal we saw at the zoo for your birthday. This morning we heard you calling all of the toys in your cot 'cat'.
  • You have so many facial expressions and the cheekiest smiles. 
  • You love 'round and round the garden' - your tummy is so ticklish. As are your tootsies.
  • When I'm lucky, I'll ask for a kiss and you'll lean in with confused looking eyes and kiss me with your mouth open. Most of the rest of the time you just bat me out of the way or knock my glasses off my face.  
  • You've just started puckering your lips up but are yet to stay puckered for a kiss.
  • You vigorously gesture with your hands whilst 'talking' - how I wish I knew what you were trying to say - it seems very important.
  • Cheerios are your favourite breakfast food. (The reduced sugar kind.) You sometimes squash them under your finger before eating them. In fact you like to do that to lots of foods.
  • You also love eating chopped grapes, raisins, blueberries, peas, sweetcorn, mixed veg from frozen packets - anything tiny and fiddly.
  • You've finally started clapping. And now pointing. I don't think you're pointing at anything in particular.
  • You sleep with your bum in the air.
  • We call you 'beaky' because of the beak shape you make with your mouth when food is coming towards it.
  • I really, really, love seeing you drink from your sippy cup.
  • You're still cruising and I'm not really sure how to encourage walking.
  • Your hair is long enough in places for me to twizzle it in my fingers. 
  • You love kiss chase. Ok, you love to be chased by either me or daddy, on our hands and knees. We kiss you when we catch you, whether you like it or not!
  • You love the slide at the park. You tentatively edge yourself closer bit by bit before laughing as you slide.
  • You're indifferent to the swings. 
  • You're always trying to eat the cat food. 
  • You hate being dressed or having your nappy changed. And you now hate tooth brushing.
  • You're mesmerised by bubbles - the joy on your face when I get the bubble wand out is so sweet.
  • You're confused by the hoover. You run (crawl) away, but then come back... then run away, then come back.
  • You love people watching. 
  • You hate it when I use my phone in your company. 
  • You love keys. You hear a set jangling and you immediately try to find them.
  • You hate it when I leave the room. Or when anyone leaves the room.
  • You love coming to me for a quick cuddle then going off about your business again.
  • You know the sound of the cat flap and the front door. You peer around the corner to greet whoever has come in with a big smile.
  • You are one year old.

Linking with #TheList:
You Baby Me Mummy

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Pic of the week: #36

This week was quite a biggie for Joseph and I as it was my last week of maternity leave and Joseph's settling-in week at nursery. The feelings, emotions and thoughts that have come with Joseph turning one and the end of 'our' era have been so overwhelming, and at times has been gut-wrenchingly painful for me - as dramatic as that sounds. It's been hard to describe how I've been feeling lately, really since our trip to India - or perhaps even before as I was so anxious about going - I've been in somewhat of a funk but I'm taking steps to lift it.
Going back to work tomorrow after over a year off feels surreal, and the thought of leaving Joseph in nursery after how his settling sessions went is, well, unsettling to say the least.  I really didn't expect Joseph to have an issue with going to nursery. I suppose I'd heard all these great things about mums whose babies go in and love it- they have so many toys, get to make all the mess they want to and they cry when it's time to leave- but I guess I'd not really heard about the settling pain for the child, only the tears from the mum leaving their baby with relative strangers for the first time.

His settle sessions went like this:
Monday - 1 hour with me in the room.
Tuesday - 1 hour without me.
Wednesday - 2 hours without me.
Thursday - 2.5 hours without me.
Monday and Tuesday were fine - I spied him from a distance on the Tuesday as the nursery had been visited by a fire engine and they took a photo of him sat inside it, which was so sweet! On the Wednesday I just left him and didn't think anything of it - I had a couple of errands to run and a meeting with my manager - so when I collected him and they told me he'd been upset, I was really surprised. The Thursday session was an extra session because Wednesday had gone badly, and it was just awful. I waited in the corridor and was eventually called in because he was so upset. I tried to leave the room a couple of times once he was distracted but he'd just wail again. At tea-time he was crying into his plate of food. It was heartbreaking. We almost had another session on the Friday but I thought it best to give him a break, especially as it's not helped that this week Joseph was given antibiotics for a chest infection (not contagious and was given the ok to go to nursery) and is cutting at least two teeth (one molar) from what I can see. Not a happy bunny, at all.
Despite the tears, from both of us this week, the highlights have been seeing Joseph whizz off with the Brio Toddler Wobbler he got for his birthday in his wee pair of Clark's and seeing him use a sippy cup on his own. I don't know if he's late doing that - probably, and probably my fault for not encouraging it more - but seeing him shovel food down (and all around) his mouth with one hand whilst holding onto and swigging from his cup from the other has brought me silly amounts of joy. Oh, and the naps he's taken on me; Three long ones this week. Normally I'd feel frustrated at not being able to do x, y or z, but this week I have enjoyed every minute of them, even whilst desperate for the loo, running late or burning food in the oven.

So next week I'll be reporting how my first week back at work went and how our first week of shared childcare went.

I hope you had a good week and wishing you the best for the week coming. xx

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Mummy Time #37: Amber Allen

Before I spent 99% of my social media life on Instagram, I used to be a chronic over-sharer on Twitter. I don't share as much as I used to over there, but when I'm feelin' it, it's like a home from home for my thoughts. I met Amber over there when I dabbled in connecting with other mum bloggers a little while back. I love Amber's candor and her straight-talking-ness so I hope you enjoy her post. She's also kindly shared some photography tips as the photos on her fantastic LGBT parenting blog ( are beautiful! Oh and did I mention she has twins? She has twins. Who were five months old at the time of writing.


Who are you?
Hi!  I'm Amber and I'm a photographer and blogger over at my website, Goblin Child.  I'm also one of two mums to the 'goblin twins', Balthazar and Lysander.  They were born on the 30th October 2014, narrowly escaping a Halloween birthday!  I live in a leafy suburb just outside of London with the twins, my partner Kirsty and our 'firstborn', our gorgeous little dog.

What do you do for a living?
I manage the logistics behind some brilliant minds at an oil and gas company.

How long did you take for maternity leave?
I took twelve weeks to enjoy the twins and my partner gave up work entirely to raise them.  We had always been in agreement that I would have the pregnancy and birth experience and our children would be genetically 'mine', so she would manage the 'nurture' aspect of developing our tiny people into kind and functional adults.

How did you feel when you returned to work and how did it change things?
I'll take my Bad Mummy Award now... it was fine!  I was fine.  Everybody was tremendously sympathetic of course and so I milked it for all that it was worth, visibly drooping whenever anybody mentioned the children and pointedly using pictures of them for my desktop background.  Actually though, it's been quite nice to return to work and have grown-up conversations about things unrelated to babies, to wear nice clothes without the fear that somebody will vomit on them, and to have time in the day where I can pee ALL BY MYSELF with nobody screaming at me.  Oh - and people very rarely pull my hair in the office!  It's blissful.
I'm sure that I would have found it much harder had I been leaving the twins with somebody other than their mum, however!  I love being able to relax in the knowledge that she's at home with them and all is well.  She is a tremendous mother.

How do you manage the work/life balance?
Honestly?  Work comes first.  It has to come first.  My salary is the driving force behind our lifestyle. My spectacular other half, Kirsty, is a marvellous stay-at-home mum who keeps everything ticking along on the home front.  It's only so easy to skip off to work in the morning because I know that all will be fine at home.

How do you get things done?!
We've cut all 'dead time' out of our days.  Everything is scheduled.  With twins, it's usually too much for Kirsty to do more than run the laundry and do a little housework during the day and so I do all of our shopping online and have it delivered, and I always cook enough food to last us several meals.  When I make my own packed lunch for work, I make another one for Kirsty so that she can just grab it and go.

Kirsty, the babies and the dog all walk me to the station in the morning and home from the station in the evenings, carving out a whole hour of 'us time' in the day to chat and connect.  The boys turn into little hellions if they're not asleep by eight and after they go down, we try to make sure to spend time together again.  Time before bedtime is mostly spent playing with the boys, although I'll admit to being naughty and checking in on social media far too often!
I spend approximately an hour/day on the train during the week and try to get my blog posts drafted up then.  I do a lot of scheduling of posts for later dates as I can't usually guarantee that I'll be online to post them at the optimum time.

How are you?
I'm okay!  And Kirsty is okay.  We're pretty tired but we're not struggling.  I think it helps that we had ten years of being 'us' before that, together and wildly in love.  We can cope with sacrificing a lot in terms of our relationship because we have those memories to fall back on.
Also: I'd be struggling a LOT more if I had to stay at home.  And Kirsty would be a wreck if she had to return to work and leave them.  We both got to do what is best for us!

What do you do to relax?
Ha.  Before children, I used to read widely, ride horses and enjoy embarking on crazy photography projects.  These days I have children.  My 'downtime' is the office!

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
I have a full-time job, a blog, a partner whom I adore, a dog who is used to being the recipient of most of our attention and baby twins.  I don't really HAVE time to myself any more!

How does a typical day go?
07.30: We're all up.  Actually we've probably been up for a while but this is the last possible minute in which I can roll out of bed, get ready and still get to work on time!
08.00: We leave the house.  It's a 30-minute walk to the station followed by 25-minutes on the train, meaning that I get to work at near enough exactly...
09.00: I fling myself into the office and check myself anxiously for signs of motherhood - leaking breasts (they STILL do that!), patches that may or may not be related to baby sick, etc.
12.30: Lunch time.  Kirsty has probably sent me a picture or two of the little ones.  We check in and discuss our days.  Then back to work.
17.00: I grab my bag and run like the wind for the train.  My train leaves every thirty minutes and so if I miss this one, that's a precious 30 mins before bedtime lost.
17.35: Everybody meets me at the station.  We walk home together through the park.  Usually I've made dinner in advance, so I'll throw a load of laundry in the machine and unload the dishwasher whilst I reheat dinner.  We usually eat on the floor whilst entertaining babies and dog.
19.00: We start winding down for bed-time.  Pyjamas, baths, bed and a final bottle for the little chaps.
20.00: OH GOD WHY ARE THE BABIES NOT ASLEEP.  Unless they are asleep.  Assuming the latter, it's showers and bed-time for grown-ups!  We snuggle under the duvet and make an effort to spend time together, even if it's just distracted chatting whilst clicking around on the laptop.
22.00: Our wild days are over - we're usually asleep!


How was your pregnancy?
LOVELY.  It was wonderful.  I loved almost every last minute of it.  I felt rather nauseous in the first trimester and actually lost quite a bit of weight but aside from that I felt better than I ever had before.  The boys grew beautifully and were healthy throughout, and I was able to work right up until I chose to take maternity leave at 37 weeks.
Unfortunately I developed obstetric cholestasis after going overdue (by twin standards - 37 weeks is 'term') and was induced at 38 weeks.

Any cravings?
Red wine and steak!  This vegetarian was NOT happy.

Did you find out what you were having?
We found out at seventeen weeks.  I had actually been away all by myself to a little Greek island called Aegina to stay with family for two weeks, so I flew back into Heathrow on the day, went straight in to work and then Kirsty met me for a private ultrasound at a Harley Street clinic that evening.
I had always 'known' that we were having two boys but everybody else thought that it would be a boy and a girl, so it took a few days to get our heads around the reality of it. 

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
The boys are Balthazar Octavian Percival and Lysander Edmund Odysseus.  We agonised over the names from the minute that the pregnancy test came up positive but were more or less decided by about seven months in that the boys would be Balthazar and Lysander.
Other names on the list were Rupert, Ptolemy, Merriwether (which Kirsty nixed - I was so sad!) and Jolyon. 

How did your prepare for the twins' arrival?
The internet!  I read a huge amount on the internet.  Pregnancy and birth have always fascinated me so I knew a lot already, and solidified my knowledge by exchanging information with other intelligent and well-read women and researching on medical pages.

How was your labour?
It was a disaster.
I was talked into an induction at 38 weeks which I really didn't want.  Whilst on the induction ward, I watched the woman in the bed next to me progress to eight centimetres screaming, crying, vomiting and begging for help that she never received because the midwives were too busy to check on her.  Eventually a passing consultant noticed how much blood she was losing, at which point she was more or less assaulted during a cervical check where she screamed for them to stop and they told her quite roughly to lie still, before pronouncing her at eight centimetres but haemmorhaging and whisking her off for an emergency caesarean.
I spent a miserable night awake because I was in too much pain to sleep and dehydrating because they were too busy to bring me water and we weren't allowed into the kitchens.  After I had to be rehydrated by IV, I threatened to sue them for medical negligence - in my defence I was quite emotional at the time! - and demanded a caesarean, which I received.
I really didn't want a caesarean and quite honestly am still furious that a fairly serious abdominal surgery felt like the ONLY way to get those babies out of me without anybody being harmed in the process.  I would have insisted on a home birth had I known how busy and understaffed the hospital would be and how neglected the labouring women were.
The caesarean itself was fine.  I hadn't eaten or drunk anything in almost two days at that point, nor slept, so it's all a bit of a blur.


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
The hospital mis-processed our paperwork so rather than recording as having been discharged, they recorded us as moving to the Special Care Unit.  Consequently we didn't have a community midwife come out to us until I called them on day four to ask where the hell they were.
Unfortunately we'd all missed Balthazar's awful tongue tie that meant that whilst he could latch on (just) he wasn't actually getting any milk.  Everybody talks about 'sleepy newborns' so we had mistaken his drifting in and out of consciousness for him being a typical sleepy newborn (and thought that the other one was just a particularly alert one).  The community midwife might have picked up that there was a problem sooner, had we seen one, but of course we didn't.
We ended up being rushed back to hospital on day four via A&E and spent another three days trying to rehydrate the baby.  My supply crashed - not helped by them lending me a breast pump with only one fecking suction cup - and it never quite recovered.
I spent almost three months pumping and feeding them by bottle and then gave up.

Do the twins have a feeding routine?
We've always fed on demand - I can't imagine that letting a baby scream with hunger is a pleasant experience for mother OR child.

What do the twins eat?
They're on formula now.  They have SMA Comfort which we chose because it is vegetarian-friendly.

What was your approach to weaning?
We haven't started weaning yet.  I did drop a bowl of trifle on Balthazar's head once though - does that count?!

Do the twins have a sleep routine?
We're pretty dreadful at routines, to be honest!  They drop off to sleep when they're tired.  The only one that we're militant about is bed-time, which begins at seven.  It's only come about because we noticed that they morph into tiny gremlins if they're not asleep by eight though!

How do you keep the twins entertained?
Play.  We play CONSTANTLY. Kirsty plays a lot more than I do, as I have my escape route of work.  They love singing and active play and we have literally hundreds of toys.  At the moment anything that can be held and chewed on is a hit, and they love toys that make noise.

What calms the twins down when they’re having a freak out?
Cuddles and singing, or else quiet time watching their mobile.  We have a lovely Amazon-themed mobile that revolves and plays songs, and the 'leaves' lift and fall in time with the music.  The boys are utterly obsessed with it! 
They've always loved to be worn in the wrap and five minutes of being tucked up close to Kirsty tends to lull them into sleep.

What are your go-to resources for information about the babies when you're worried?
Honestly?  I ask Twitter!  Or my internet 'mummy group'.  Somebody always has a useful link or anecdote to share.

How do your other children get along with the twins? Were there any difficulties with the adjustment to the new arrival and how have they adapted? 
My other 'child' is a dog.  And yes, I know that she's not REALLY a child and I didn't give birth to her but she's an irreplacable member of the family in the same way as the twins are. 
I was quite concerned as to how she would adjust to sharing her people with two new little ones.  Actually, it was fine.  We brought them home and allowed her to sniff at them as much as she wanted but taught her that touching them was not allowed - much like how she had been taught to interact with the cats.  She's very good these days and extremely respectful of their space - she won't take food off of their bodies (I drop food on them with disconcerting regularity!) and if they reach out to stroke her soft fur she looks at me as if to say "Well I'M not touching THEM, mummy!".
She's an older lady with a traumatic past and doesn't really know how to play, so we're delighted on the rare occasions that she shows a fleeting interest in the boys' toys.  The twins will be taught as they grow up that if the dog wants a toy, they're to hand it over!


Do the babies have a favourite toy?
They love EVERYTHING at the moment.  The most recent amusement was a green envelope, which we flapped in Balthazar's general direction for a full ten minutes to earth-splitting giggles.

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?
We're trying to be good at the moment, having just spent a horrifying 1.5k on a three-day hospital stay for the dog.  That said, Tootsa MacGinty just sent me a voucher for £15 off of a £50 spend and I think that I'm about to be tempted into buying some adorable jungle-themed clothing for the boys.

What has been the most useful thing you've bought/ been given/ discovered?
The Gro Egg.  Kirsty and I are notoriously bad at judging temperature - she runs too hot and I'm perpetually freezing!  Using the Gro Egg to tell us the room temperature AND whether it was optimum for the babies meant that they (and we) got a lot more sleep in those first few months.

What are the twins’ mode of transport?
We alternate between wearing them and using the pram. They ride in the pram more often these days but for the first four months of their lives, being worn was their favourite thing ever and the best way to keep them calm and happy when out and about.  Kirsty favours the Girasol wraps but we also have a Little Frog of which she's quite fond.
We use the Little NipperOut and About 360 pram, which we chose primarily because it is purple.  It's an excellent, lightweight choice for us but will persist in getting flat tyres which makes cross-country dog walks a little tricky.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Aside from the obvious?  The camera.  Kirsty grumbles sometimes because every outing is treated as a photo opportunity but I think it's lovely that so many memories are recorded for the boys to enjoy when they're older!

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Oh but I have so many favourites!
Tootsa MacGinty is a strong contender for their charming, playful designs.  The people behind the company are lovely too.  The Ava & Luc horse-themed bodysuits get a LOT of wear in my pony-obsessed house. Or if you don't have time to shop around, you can't go wrong with a massive John Lewis order! We also buy a lot of Scandinavian baby wear - we're definitely fans of bright colour!  I love Mini Rodini, Maxomorra, Polarn o.Pyret and Tutta.


If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be?
That 'newborn sleepiness' didn't mean 'practically impossible to wake the baby' would have been a good one.  If you can't wake your newborn up to feed, parents, something is seriously wrong.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
Fellow parents have always been generous with their knowledge and somebody always seems to say exactly what I need to hear at the time.  When I was pregnant and worried that our sons would resent us later in life because we had chosen to bring them into the world without a father, many people took the time to tell me that it's love that makes a family, not a penis and a vagina as a parenting unit. Love. It meant the world at the time and still does.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Every stage passes.  Yes, there are dreadful and exhausting phases but just as you begin to understand how a sleep-deprived parent might snap, it's over.  You just have to hang on in there and it does get better and you WILL sleep again, I promise.

Thank you for sharing, Amber!

If you'd like to read more about Amber, check out her blog. I really like these posts:

And here are Amber's photography tips:
  1. Invest in the best DSLR body that you can, particularly if you plan to use it indoors.  A full-frame camera will mean that you can use it in tighter spaces and the more expensive cameras are better at dealing with indoor (lack of) light.  Contrary to popular advice, you can skimp on lenses - the 50mm f1.8 is an excellent cheap lens, and the upgrade to the f1.4 is still only about £300.
  2. Use photography to tell your story.  Photograph things that matter to your family - favourite toys, favourite clothes.  Things that you associate with your family.  The looking-at-the-camera-and-smiling pictures are nice, but they only tell a fraction of your story.
  3. Utilise perspective.  Don't just hover over your children with a camera.  Get down on their level to show the world as they see it.  Photograph from lower than them to show how they're growing.  Capture their tiny hands and fingernails - the small details - as well as the overall picture.
  4. Make an effort to document your day-to-day lives but don't live behind the camera.  Put it down and play.  Spend time with your family for the sake of spending time with them, not just capturing memories for your blog or social media.
  5. Get in the picture with your children!  Don't let them forget that you were there too.
Thanks again, Amber!


Monday, 20 April 2015

Pic of the week: #35

Aside from today, Joseph's birthday, there's not much of this week that I'd like to remember, so I'm not going to write about it. Plus every inch of my body wants to sleep right now so that's what I'm going to do.
Happy Birthday, Joseph Ruari Batchelor.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Mummy Time #36: Amy Mataczynski

Sweet Amy filled in for me this week at the last minute yesterday and I'm so grateful that she did. Mummy Time posts are one of the disorganised chaos' I was referring to when I wrote this post on Instagram the other day. Sometimes I have a 'waiting list' for weeks and weeks, other times I literally have no one as I've either not asked anyone if they'd like to feature or no one has come forward (...or I've forgotten that someone said they wanted to feature - which I have just totally remembered at 11.30pm on a Wednesday night. If this is you, I'm so sorry, I'll be in touch.) So, this week I'd finally got to the last person on my waiting list before realising I'd not given them enough time to do x, y and z. Totally my fault. But soon I'll be featuring two mamas who are, together, raising IVF twin boys! I also need to sort out this waiting list thing. Perhaps I should be doing Mummy Time more often than once a week. Let me know what you think. Would you want to see it more often?

Ramble over... back to Amy! Amy is a wonderful brand new mama and contributor to the super-brand-new-but-totally-killin'-it, Crafted Sisterhood blog/community which was co-founded by Carrie who featured here last week. Phew! I hope you enjoy her post!

Who are you?
I'm Amy, 27 years young from Berkshire, currently living in Michigan USA for a few more months with my lovely husband & 10 week old daughter, Emilia Harper.

What do you do for a living?
I'm a stay at home mum, spending my days entertaining E with songs, terrible dancing and lots of snuggles. 

How long are you planning to take for maternity leave?
With my previous position, I hadn't been there long enough to qualify for maternity leave. In the states you have to be in a position for over a year and I was a month shy of that. I decided to leave a month before my due date to relax and rest and make the most of being a beached whale! We are moving back to the UK next year, and my Mum has offered to look after baby whilst we go to work which is amazing, but to be honest, I'm dreading not spending my days with her. It's going to be difficult!

How are you?
I'm feeling good! Really good! I'm falling asleep at 9pm and I'm constantly covered in dribble and baby sick but I've never been so happy. Some days are more tiring than most, especially if she wakes up at 5am and won't settle! Usually when my husband gets home he takes Emilia and I have a nice long shower and treat myself to a face mask & catch up on reading some blogs. A cuppa and some biccies usually help me wind down after a long day too! I've been know to destroy a whole pack of rich tea's in two hours-do not mess with my biscuit munching capabilities!


What does Emilia eat?
She has breast milk for the most part. We have started having to supplement with a bottle of formula a day to ensure she is getting enough & her weight is on track.

Does Emilia have a nap/ sleep routine?
Our nightly routine consists of a feeding around 11pm, white noise and a swaddle and she falls right to sleep until 7/8am the next day! She usually cat naps for no more than 30 minutes during the day now.

How do you keep Emilia entertained?
We spend a lot of time talking to her, having "conversations" with her when she starts to coo and gurgle. She has a Lamaze dolly which has lots of bright colours and sounds which she is besotted with and she loves when my husband starts to play bizarre songs on his phone (Eg; songs about spaghetti bolognese!) She loves when we make funny noises & faces too! 

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
I usually have a cup of tea or coffee, read or FaceTime my mum for a natter! 

How does a typical day go?
We usually wake up around 7-8am and I bring her in to bed with us to nurse. I  change her and we get ready for the day. Depending on what we get up to, we might be at home and I will get bottles sterilised, clean the house & keep her entertained until daddy comes home and joins the party. We may go and do some shopping or visit family and friends. I usually prefer the lazy days at home where we are all together, going out can sometimes be stressful if you forget things or have to breast feed in an uncomfortable place! 

Preganancy & Labour: 

How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy for the most part was lovely. I had morning sickness for a good few months which returned in the last few weeks. I had SPD (Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction, also known as Pelvic Girdle Pain, PGP) which I found subsided with the use of a maternity belt. I loved seeing her kick & watching my belly grow week by week! I was incredibly uncomfortable in the last month of pregnancy and I don't think I got my fat bum out of bed much!

Read Amy's inspiring birth story here

Have you taken Emilia on any holidays or away from home?
At 9 weeks we bought Emilia over to the UK on a 2 hour flight layover, then a straight through flight to London which took 6 hours. It went fantastic! She slept the majority of both flights (possibly due to the whitenoise-I feel like I owe white noise my sanity at this point!) the jetlag messed with her sleeping schedule which made her a bit miserable for the first 4 days, but she soon adapted to the new routine. (Plus we had nanna and grandpa to help out!) 

What were your baby holiday essentials?
Lots of spare clothes for flying-due to poo explosions! And nappy bags. LOTS OF NAPPY BAGS.

Was your baby's routine affected by being on holiday?
We bought a breast milk powder for supplementing when we got here which she has been taking really well. Thankfully my parents have been helping to settle her in the early hours when we were suffering with jet lag. They really helped establish a new routine whilst we are here for bath and bedtime. She was a little bit grumpy for the first 4 days which we put down to jet lag and change of environment. But she has been extremely happy being here and enjoys the long walks along the river! 


Does Emilia have a favourite toy?
She adores her Lamaze dolly and a Jellycat bunny that her Grandpa bought her for Easter. Right now she seems more interested in blowing raspberries or discovering her hands. 

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
A formula dispenser for on the go from Mothercare. It's great for storing the amount you need safely and securely when you're out and about! 

What has been the most useful thing you've discovered?
My friend Jo had told me about the Wonder Weeks app. So when Emilia is a bit cranky and "off" I check the app and sure enough she's going through a growth spurt. It's great for letting you know when they happen, what baby might need and how baby might be feeling. 

What is your Emilia’s mode of transport?
We have a Graco click connect travel system in Gotham which is great for going out and about. We also use a Sakura Bloom wrap that a beautiful friend gave to use which seems to help her get to sleep when on the move! 

Oh hi @nickylilley! <3

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Nappies, burp cloths, brightly coloured toys and wipes. And a spare blanket! 

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I absolutely love Zara mini, H&M and Carters. F&F have some beautiful pieces too, and Next are great for thick, soft onesies. 


What do you wish you’d known before you had a baby?
Your boobs will shoot milk out. And it will go all over babies face and quite possibly up their nose! And that drinking 3 litres of water and lying flat on your back for 2 days would get rid of an awful spinal headache! 

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
Don't go crazy buying lots of outfits. They may look cute but they will wear them once and be in babygrows the majority of the time. (Needless to say I hadn't listened and I have piles of tiny little outfits she hasn't ever worn!) 

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

White noise is a LIFESAVER. And don't be too hard on yourself. If you make a mistake you can always learn from it! 

Thank you for sharing, Amy!

You can find Amy on IG @_littlebones_ and keep an eye on the Crafted Sisterhood blog for her updates, or just in general because it's awesome and highly addictive and I have a feeling it'll be BIG.