Thursday, 28 May 2015

Mummy Time: Lucy Tanner

Lucy's honesty in this weeks post will leave you with your jaw on the floor; here she talks about the reality of getting things done, and making the tough decision on what had to give; how she coped when her four month old son started crawling and how free online hypnobirthing videos helped her to deliver her second son at home, just one hour after getting jiggy!

Lucy is an absolutely incredible mum and an inspiration, and I'm so pleased to be featuring her on the blog today. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did.


Who are you?
Hello! I am Lucy Tanner and I live in the beautiful city of Norwich with my baby daddy, Mike, and our two little boys; Miles who will be two and a half at the end of May and Otto who has just turned 3 months!

What do you do for a living?
At the moment I am a full time mummy. This is something I have struggled with quite a bit as I often feel like the odd one out. Almost every mummy I know is back at work in some way. I’ve always wanted to be a mummy and have never been career driven. I went to uni and have a degree in graphic design and illustration but when I left, I never felt compelled to get into the industry and find a dream job. I bumbled along for a bit and did lots of bar work. I really enjoyed it and it allowed me to set myself up as a self-employed illustrator in 2012. I had projects lined up and was feeling really quite positive and motivated when I fell pregnant with Miles! As every creative out there will know you have your ups and downs and, boy, did my inspiration and drive plummet! I can remember two months into the pregnancy I had an exhibition in the diary so I worked towards that and once it was over I just knew that was it. I did get my mojo back when Miles was teeny and would nap for hours on end and I started up an Etsy shop selling bits and bobs and even a makers market. But when Miles became super mobile and a non-napper I found that I would get really grumpy and stressy because it was impossible (for me) to be a mum alongside making things. I would get resentful at whatever was getting my attention and leaving the other out. So I made the decision, based on the fact that I’ve always wanted to be a mum foremost, to put down my pencil and needles and focus on being a mummy. When I do get the chance to make something, and even better sell it, then it is just a boost of feel good feelings. The release of pressure has been wonderful. Although I do get sad that I’m not doing so much and financially things are tight but I would much rather look back on these years and know I squeezed every last second out of being with my boys that I could. Having said that, if I had been in a better job before Miles came along then we would probably be in a totally different situation! The money that I would earn going back to my old job would just cover childcare so it would also be totally pointless. Once they are both at school/nursery I will most definitely be re-entering the workforce though!

How are you?
I’m good physically, but emotionally I’ve been better. We’ve had a rough few months as Mike sadly lost his job and we were asked to leave our old house very unexpectedly. The joys of renting! All this happened in the space of a few weeks last year when I was about 7 months pregnant. Not ideal but we faced it head on and our families and friends have been incredible. We’re all settled in a lovely new house though and hopefully this year brings lots more joy instead of gloom. In terms of tiredness there was a point that I thought “how do you survive this parent thing without a nap” but I seem to have adjusted to some new level of survival and can somehow function fairly well as long as you don’t expect a conversation with me. I thought, perhaps rather naively, that the baby bit would be the most difficult part about having a newborn again but dealing with Miles is definitely the trickiest bit. Otto is a total dream, he is so mellow and settles fairly easily but Miles never stays still and gets bored incredibly easy. He has never been happy sitting playing with something unless it presents him with a challenge. It is exhausting but wonderful all the same!

How do you relax?
Now that I have two all I can do is face plant a pillow until one of them wakes me up! If I’m really lucky I can squeeze in a quick soak in some suds.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
I usually clean because I really don’t like mess but I try to do it as quickly as possible otherwise you blink and someone is demanding your attention again! I usually end up drinking lots of tea and cooking something. I love to cook and Mike is a chef so we both use kitchen time as an excuse to listen to music and zone out from the chaos, and stuff our faces in the process. Although Miles has become obsessed with every appliance we own and demands to help. Incredibly frustrating dealing with an appliance induced tantrum but I’m tapping into it and hoping to train him up to cook for us nice and early!

How does a typical day go?
I usually wake up in some awkward position with Otto snuggled up next to me and one of Miles’ limbs on my head anywhere between 6 and 7am. I then try my hardest to keep Miles asleep or still (with the help of bbc iplayer) until I can summon the energy to get up. Ideally I get both boys changed and downstairs and grab some brekkie for miles and a cuppa for myself. Mike is horrendous at getting up so he usually stumbles down after a lot of shouting from me and Miles!  That’s pretty much where the routine ends! I usually skip a shower and have one before bed as it causes less stress. The morning is spent putting on laundry and playing and most recently putting Otto down for a nap. 

We try to get out and about everyday as Miles is a bit like a Jack Russell and needs lots of exercise and stimulation. We go to a playgroup most weeks and we like big old walks! Because of Mikes shifts it’s really hard to be consistent with a routine during the day. Tea time is always the same time though and if Mike's home then a bath usually happens (if I’m feeling particularly superhuman I’ll attempt it on my own!) After bath comes the dreaded bedtime. Which can be anywhere between 7 and 11pm and often has me falling asleep before Miles does. He resists sleep to the bitter end and I have no idea how to deal with it except to all bundle into bed and pass out together. I do try to put Otto in our room and Miles in his but he isn’t a fan of listening to stories at the moment and he just never stays still! When he remembers Otto is in our room that’s it he wants to be too. 

Tonight I have read a number book 3 times counted to 10 then 20 then 30 all the way to 100. Then again. Sung 10 little speckled frogs 4 times and then lay next to him ignoring him until eventually he nodded off whimpering. It took 3 hours. But he is in his own bed hurrah! I have never been one for the cry it out approach and when we did attempt it Miles just doesn’t give in and it is really heartbreaking. Now that Otto is a bit older I have been enjoying the three hour naps and the structure it gives our days. I can get really involved in an activity with Miles and I make sure I drop every thing else to have that one on one time. 

We either have really good days where we all get on and Miles is a dream, or days that revolve around whining and exhausting rounds of psychological warfare. I’m looking forward to long summery days and letting Miles run wild.


How were your pregnancies?
Both pregnancies where really good. I had PGP both times but it was worse second time round and resulted in a trapped nerve in my butt cheek. I was also a lot more tired because of chasing a two year old round and felt like I didn’t get the chance to connect with Otto as much whilst he was still in my tummy. In the last two months I made a lot of excuses to take myself upstairs for half an hour to do yoga and meditation. I was usually interrupted by Miles screaming my name though. He became very needy towards me and I did worry how the hell he would cope with having a brother.

Did you have any cravings?
Both times I craved pints and pints of squash and cold crunchy fruit and veg - carrots and celery galore!

Did you find out what you were having?
First time no and it was a wonderful surprise although I knew all along he would be a he. Second time, yes. although I just knew again! We wanted to be able to get Miles used to the idea of having a brother and it meant we could be prepared as would have had to get so much more stuff if he had been a girl.

How did you decide on your names?
Boys names are really hard! We had some we liked but we never agreed until one day Mike was listening to Miles Davis and said ‘what about Miles?’ When he was born instead of Mike saying “it’s a boy” he said “it’s Miles” and luckily it suited him. His middle names are Robert, which runs in Mike’s family and James after my daddy. Otto I just loved when I first heard it, and I grew up in Germany which is where it originates from, so I stuck to my guns. Mike liked Otis but when he was born and the paramedics asked have you got a name I said ‘Otto” and Mike was like ‘that’s fair enough!’ His middle name is Ray after my great Uncle on my Mums parents’ side. They are the boys’ only surviving great-grand parents and I knew it would make them very happy, plus we really liked it.

How did your prepare for the boys' arrivals?
With Miles we did NCT antenatal classes which I found quite overwhelming and not that helpful in the end! The friendships I made through it were the best thing I took away. Second time round I used my previous experience, the same yoga teacher and I did the free hypnobirthing video course offered by the Calm Birth School ladies...who are flipping amazing and I would recommend to every pregnant mumma. I basically just stayed as positive and relaxed as I could with breathing and meditation. I didn’t read any books because, to be honest, I had no idea where to start!

How were your labours?
With Miles it really took me by surprise how painful it was! Yeah I know. I really thought I had a good pain threshold. Turns out I don’t. I now know that labour very fast and very intense from the word go. I was 11 days over and had a sweep and within an hour I was having full blown contractions. I did not deal with it well at all (probably because there was no build up). The hospital told us not to come in because it would probably slow down. It didn’t. They also told me to eat. Mike made me some fish fingers and mash and I have such a vivid memory of being so damn angry that I couldn’t even eat one mouthful between contractions! When we did make it in I went into the midwife led unit. I got in the pool and it really slowed things down and ended up stressing me out quite a bit. When my waters finally broke there was lots of blood so I was rushed to delivery suite, whacked on my back, feet in stirrups and 3 new midwives screaming “let’s get this baby out” whilst I was partying on the ceiling with gas and air. They took it away from me to push and I went flipping mental! I can remember feeling such hatred towards this poor student midwife next to me. Once Miles was born I totally fell in love with her though she was brilliant! 11 hours from sweep to delivery and thankfully no complications despite the blood loss. We were then home within 4 hours.

With Otto I was quite anxious about going back into hospital but felt, due to lack of support and moving house and therefore doctors, that I couldn’t have a home birth. Mike doesn’t drive so we had his parents and friends on standby to take us and Miles was to go to my mums for a day or too. That didn’t happen! 11 days over, walk after walk up hill after hill and two sweeps down I was fed up and desperate not to be induced so we got a bit jiggy to see if some oxcytocin would help. Miles was tucked up in bed and we headed to bed about 11ish. Within 30 seconds I had a sharp pain down my tummy and then another. Then I had a proper contraction. I told Mike and asked him to turn the bath on as that’s all I could think of doing. As he stood up my waters exploded on the bed. Once again the contractions where intense from the word go. I ended up in about an inch of water and trying to talk to the hospital who said to get in ASAP. I tried explaining that I had a little boy asleep and we had to wait for our lift to get here but I couldn’t really talk. Anyway to cut a short story even shorter I ended up upstairs calling 999. Three paramedics turned up and thankfully got me some gas and air. Ten minutes after they arrived Otto was born on our bed. Just one hour after us thinking it was a good idea to test the oxyctocin theory! He arrived so quickly that I didn’t have to push although the hypnobirthing played an incredibly important part and I managed to take the gas and air away from myself and with my hands ease him into the world so gently I didn’t tear. I’m so proud amongst all the chaos that I managed that amount of control. I’m  also so glad that I ended up having him at home and we were all snuggled up in bed by 4am. Miles was in his bedroom next door the whole time and did wake up when the paramedics arrived but Mike sat him down with some cartoons in a chair in his room. I think that will be one of his first memories; meeting his brother and the paramedics flashing the lights just for him when they left.

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding Miles went well, although I stopped at 6 months on advice from the doctors because he was draining the life out of me. It’s going really well with Otto now after a few issues with latching on due to a tongue tie. I decided to have it snipped and it’s made such a huge difference.

Does Otto have a feeding routine?
I kind of feed Otto on demand although I am trying to feed him when he wakes up rather than getting him to go to sleep from it.

What does Miles like to eat?
Miles is quite fussy, although he does eat fruit and veg so I know we are lucky there. He just won’t eat pasta or rice or proper meals and says “i don’t like it” or “put in the bin” which is infuriating. I recently read a very good article though that has reassured me that what I am doing is ok. If he doesn’t eat everything I say ‘well you don’t have to’. I then offer him fruit or a yoghurt but no alternative to the main meal. He is definitely more of a grazer and quite a delicate eater. I just maintain the view that he will eat if he is hungry and toddlers can run on very little so I’ve tried to stop worrying about it so much and not get angry if he just doesn’t want to eat.

What was your approach to weaning Miles onto solids?
We started weaning him at four and a half months with purees because he was mobile (yup!!) but I now know that that was the wrong thing to do and am annoyed that the health visitor told me to. I think if I had started him on formula earlier that would have been better and I could have done combination feeding for a while instead of being forced to stop breastfeeding earlier than I had wanted to. With Otto I am definitely going down the baby led route I cannot be bothered with all of that puree making!

Do the boys have sleep routines?
Miles gave up his proper naps at 20 months when he moved into a big bed but he does still have them occasionally when he face plants the sofa or car. They ruin bedtime though whatever time of day he has one so I actually avoid going in the car after about 11am!

When the boys are freaking out, what do you find helps them to calm down?
I plonk Otto in the sling and he usually settles pretty sharpish. With Miles I suggest a new activity or a walk and whichever he doesn’t whine at we do! He usually just needs a poo though and like most men is much happier once he has relieved himself!

At what age did Miles become more mobile and how did you cope?
Miles started crawling at 4 months and was walking by 9. It was really, really hard work and very stressful. I had no idea babies could even do that. I just don’t think he wanted to be a baby! I’m really hoping Otto is a bit more chilled out on that front, but with a whirlwind as a big bro to show him the ropes I’m not holding out too much hope.

What are your go-to resources for information about the boys when you're worried?
Friends and, of course, Instagram! My friend Emily (@emilywemilyrose), who I went to uni with, and had lost contact with, fell pregnant at the same time as me. We bumped into each other one day and totally reconnected. Our boys were meant to be born a month apart but it ended up being five days. We are now neighbours and not only are our boys best buds but she has been an incredible support to me especially recently and we really bounce off each other with parental queries and wtfs.

How has Miles adapted to Otto’s arrival?
Miles has adapted so well and I can’t help thinking it was partly because he was here when Otto arrived. He wasn’t whisked away and brought back to find another little person in the house. He has been so sweet with Otto and hasn’t presented any jealousy but I think he is still a bit too young for that. We have had to tell him off for biting his fingers and toes as he didn’t understand that he was really hurting him. But he understands now I hope. The most infuriating thing is he just doesn’t want Otto to sleep and will jump next to him on the bed or sofa saying “wake baby wake”. Although it is incredible what baby number two will sleep through!


What was your most recent baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
Our most recent purchases have been a sling and buggy-board. We never wanted a double buggy as Miles is pretty good at walking and I want to wear Otto a lot more than I managed to with Miles. So the buggy-board gives Miles the option to rest his legs if Otto is in the pushchair (which is very rare!).

What are the boys' modes of transport?
We have a Mamas & Papas Urbo which we got new for Miles and just loved so much we didn’t want to get anything else. It is perfect for city living and has a leather handle...I have a phobia of foam and touching the foamy handle on pushchairs makes me gag really bad! For Otto we use a Wildbird ring sling and a Solly Baby Wrap. Both are brilliant although I will have to say that the ring sling is outstanding for day to day use.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Bribes. All of the bribes!


If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be?
To listen to yourself, first and foremost, and to listen to what others have to say but don’t feel you have any obligation to follow their advice. I spent the first year doing things the way I saw other mums around me doing them. I was stressed and worried like I have never been before. I wasn’t the mum I always thought I would be. This time round I am so different and I wish that someone had told me to just be me when I had Miles. Thankfully I am now that for the both of them.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
You know best when someone finally said it to me! Oh and the chocolate button trick to get antibiotics down a toddlers throat! Lifesaver!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
You were made to do this and you can do it however the hell you like. Don’t be afraid to do something you always thought you wouldn’t (like a dummy or formula etc) You will never make a bad decision and it could mean the difference between being a total worried mess and being a happier mummy because of a more settled baby.

Lastly, is there an IG mum that you'd like to see on Mummy Time
Oooh I don’t know there’s been so many I love so far and wanted to know more about. Maybe Nia @herhandswereleaves. Her motivation and dedication to both her family and her drawing have me rather envious. In a good way! I’d love to meet her for real but being Mummy Time nosey is probably the next best thing!

Thank you so much for sharing, Lucy! 

Find Lucy on Instagram: @misslucyblue

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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