Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Mummy Time: Emma Ross

I've been following Emma's Instagram for a while so when she asked to feature on Mummy Time, I had absolutely no hesitations. Only when I read her responses did I realise that we're the same age, our babies are the same age, she's also a working mum who has Wednesday's off, has the most beautiful hair and is totally who I should've got in touch with when I was freaking out about taking Joseph on holiday. (How did I not realise all of these things?!) If you're not following on Instagram already, go and have a peek on IG @mamalinauk (also check out the vlogs Emma has linked to in this post for some of her 'home truths' and more proof that her hair is in.cred.i.ble.)
Who are you?
I’m Emma, 29 years old, a Londoner but a secret hippy wishing I could pack up and move to the countryside and live on a farm with Sam (my husband) and Jack (15 months) and a load of pigs and hens!

What do you do for a living?
I have recently returned to work four days a week at Google, where I work in the YouTube Sales team.

How long did you take for maternity leave?
I took nearly a year off for maternity – the best year of my life! (Though I would be lying if I said that there weren’t days at the beginning where I just wished I could jump on the tube and enjoy a peaceful commute with a newspaper and coffee.)

How did you feel when you returned to work?
Returning to work has been...challenging. It has definitely changed the dynamic as there is no longer any ‘norm’ anymore. Sam and I don’t have our set roles as we used to really. Jack goes to nursery twice a week and we are lucky to have support from our mothers who have him the other two days (I have him on Wednesdays – which is a great day to be off, I find.)

How do you manage the work/life balance?
With difficulty during the week! Sam and I have a new rule that we each have one night off per week - the rest of the time I need him for support (and g&t making!) We try to get organized and pack our bags and Jack’s bag the night before, but that never really happens. [Emma's video: 10 home truths on being a working mum.]

How do you get things done?!
I actually now do a lot of YouTube editing and blog writing on the tube commute (like I’m doing right now!) Weekends I find myself working and I do a lot less socializing.  Something’s gotta give, right?!

How are you?
I’m pretty exhausted with an aching sore throat! Being back at work has changed a lot!

How does a typical day go?
Up anything from 5.30-6.45am, one of us gets milk for Jack, the other jumps in the shower, brush Jack’s teeth, change Jack, find some pants, throw some jeans on, smear some make up on,  … you get the idea! Bundle out the house ideally by 7.30am and drive to nursery.  I take Jack in, Sam reverses, I jump back in the car, we drive to the station, park, pay for parking (so expensive!), tube it work… all before the day has even started. 
Then the same again the other side as I leave work at 5pm, collect Jack (the highlight of my day is seeing him at nursery before he sees me) give Jack dinner (usually a scrambled egg or peanut butter sandwich), bath (sometimes I jump in too out of pure exhaustion) and bed before I’ve even thought about food for me and Sam. Chill time for me? Forget it. It is getting easier – but we’re definitely still manoeuvring it.
How was your pregnancy?
I loved being pregnant! I felt feminine and wholesome and healthy (the lack of booze probably contributed to this!) One highlight was having my belly painted! I felt fairly nauseous at the start however, and by the very end I could hardly walk as I had severe back pain.

Did you have any cravings?
Just food in general!

Did you find out what you were having?
Nope – there are so few surprises left in life I wanted this to be one of them!

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
For a girl, we were pretty decided. But we were umming and ahhing for a while over a boy’s name and thought we had decided on one, but as soon as he came out, we knew it had to be the ‘other’ one (Jack!)

How did your prepare for Jack’s arrival?
We did NCT classes as a couple, and I did pregnancy yoga. I actually didn’t read any books but I read some blogs and watched some vlogs - my main source of baby info these days! I wasn’t actually too keen on reading loads beforehand as I wanted to go in to it open-minded.

How was your labour?
In short, it was... long! I went into hospital Thursday evening and Jack entered the world Sunday morning. He was back to back (I only found this out once in labour!) which meant that everything progressed very slowly and very painfully. I held out with no pain relief for nearly two days at which point the midwives advised me to get an epidural as I was obviously just beyond exhausted. There were various little mistakes along the way (I was mismeasured and my epidural fell out) but I was just relieved to get Jack out. He was also quite a big boy for me (7.9 lbs). You can see my birth story here.
How did you get on with breastfeeding?
I really loved breastfeeding. Of course it takes a bit of getting used to but soon enough it became second nature and I was getting my boob out wherever / whenever I could. One time I even had to feed on the tube - not ideal I know, but when need calls! When  I stopped breastfeeding I made a video about my opinions on the pros and cons of breastfeeding here.

What does Jack eat?
Jack now has three meals a day but I have to admit I was reluctant and a bit anxious about the transition from just milk to food. Breastfeeding was so lovely! I started Jack out on the normal things (squash potato, baby rice, mashed carrots) but soon he was eating more and more solid food quite quickly (I found all the mashing really tedious!) He now basically eats anything, and mostly with his hands.

Does Jack have a have a nap/ sleep routine?
We really had very little / no routine with Jack - I just followed his cues. When he’s with me and not at nursery, he now generally has two naps a day and it is really clear when he is tired  as he rubs his eyes and clings to me.

What are Jack’s  favourite things to do.
Jack is super independent and curious so he is pretty happy just pottering around. This does mean I have to keep an eye on him because before I know it, he is half way up the stairs or knee deep in black chalk paint (this actually happened.)

What helps to calm Jack down?
Fresh air! Either a walk outside or just a blast of cold air often snaps Jack out of whatever was up.

Does your Jack suffer with anything and what do you do to help it?
Jack had colic when he was much younger which was tough. My husband, mother in law (who we were living with at the time), and I used to just have to take it in turns in the evenings to hold him. He would scream for a few hours each night. The sound of constant crying is really hard to deal with. Now he can wake up really crying in the middle of the night and we usually need to pace up and down with him or sit in the rocking chair until he falls back to sleep on us and then transfer him back to the cot.

At what age did your baby become mobile and how did you cope?
Jack became mobile (rolling, crawling) pretty early, at about four and a half months. I tried to do some child proofing but Jack just kept pulling off the things I put in place. Now we don’t really have much, we just let him explore and keep an eye on him, and hope that if he has the odd tiny bump or trip up, he is actually learning in the process (I’m not a cruel mum I promise, I just want him to learn through experience!)

What are your go-to resources?
Blogs and vlogs all the way! Oh and the NCT newsletter was useful.
Have you taken Jack on any holidays?
Jack is so well travelled! We took him away to my best friend’s wedding in France when he was 12 weeks old, he attended his first festival at 15 weeks, he’s been to Cyprus, Italy, South Africa, Devon, Bournemouth and Israel! My husband and I love travelling so Jack just comes along on the ride too!

What were your baby holiday essentials?
I would say that our buggy sunshade is an essential for the blocking out light and noise at nighttime when we are out and about and Jack needs to sleep. We just put him in the buggy, place the sunshade over and he usually falls asleep really easily.  Oh and I always make sure we travel with lots of books to keep him entertained. I’ve made a video here going backpacking with a baby here.

Was  Jack’s routine affected by being on holiday?
The fact that Jack doesn’t have a routine means that travelling with him has always been pretty OK. South Africa was great though as we realized that there was no time difference! With regards to different formula or food, Jack has always been fine with different sorts of formula milk and I actually quite enjoy shopping in foreign supermarkets for new food for him to try. Otherwise you can’t go wrong with a cheese sandwich ! I always take porridge, pasta and peanut butter whenever we go away though as back ups.
Does Jack have a favourite toy?
Books! And anything that beeps.

What was your most recent baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
An all in one waterproof for the summer festivals

What has been the most useful thing you've discovered?
I love the website Bring Your Own Baby which tells you everything going on in and around London.

What is your baby’s mode of transport?
Jack seems to be ok in the buggy. I love wearing him in the sling but I find it super hard to put on – especially when I'm on my own!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Books and snacks for Jack, oyster card as we are always out and about, bottle of water and a dummy.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Scout & Co Kids, GAP and charity shops.
Body and Mind:
Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
I feel more comfortable in my own skin I think. My boobs have shrunk which I’ve loved and I seem to be better at yoga than I was, which is nice!

How do you relax?
Yoga! I do yoga at work once a week and I try to do some online. I try to go for a run or even just stretch out at the end of the day. To be honest, I don’t get that much time just to relax. I should take more baths!

When things are tough, what gets you through?
Yoga and talking things out with my mum or sister.
What have you found to be the most challenging age?
The return to work has shaken me up as a person and made me reassess what I want in life. It has not been easy.

If you could give your pregnant self a heads up, what would it be?
That you’ll never again get a lie in! I still can’t quite get over that! That it will be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster; but this is more often than not from a lack of sleep.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
Everything’s a phase – just when you think they’re doing one thing, it changes.

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

Get to sleep early! I don’t do this but wish I did!
Thank you for sharing Emma!

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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