Thursday, 9 July 2015

Mummy Time: Nadine Oxley

As well as being a super-mama to one year old Dolly, Nadine is the brains and beauty behind the insanely cool homewares company that she runs with her partner, Red Temple Prayer. Read how Nadine copes with the day-to-day, what have been her life-savers and how she juggles being self-employed with baby-raising. Oh and Dolly quite possibly has the best shoe collection ever! I hope you enjoy this week's post!

Who are you? 
Hello! I’m Nadine and I turned 31 a couple of days ago (sob). I live in Leeds in a very cosy little cottage with my partner Sam. I’ve known Sam for 8 years, we both used to manage a skate shop called Exit in the city centre at different times in our lives (Sam is 7 years older than me so he got there first!). For one reason or another it took us a long time to actually get together but we didn’t waste time making a baby when we did! Dolores Martha Loki was born on the 22nd of May 2014, just over a year after our first date…. 

What do you do for a living?
I currently run the business I own with Sam ( 
Discussions on RTP began back in spring 2012 before Sam and I were a couple. We know a lot of creative/artistic people and we wanted to find a way to harness those talents to develop something new…something a little different. We played around with a lot of ideas, all surrounding print on different mediums. We finally decided to launch with ceramics. It felt like a great niche for us, something unique and also it made a beautiful canvas! 
We started printing the designs ourselves and the response was amazing! So by Autumn 2012 RTP was officially born.

How long did you take for maternity leave?
Well, before Dolly was born I had 2 jobs, my night job was RTP and my day job was International Manager for a clothing company called Joules. I worked for Joules for 5 years and managed to grow to a pretty senior position. I always thought “If I just get to the next level I will start enjoying it more”. It got to the point were I couldn’t go much higher. I was doing 60 hour weeks, waking at 4am to start my commute to the offices in Market Harborough when I was in the country which wasn’t often. I was miserable, so I knew that I needed to do something I enjoyed but taking that leap from what on paper was an amazing job, company car, security etc. to a little artsy business just wasn’t something I could risk. So I did both! I worked for Joules up until I was 38 weeks pregnant. I remember flying to work in NYC at 36 weeks; no idea how I did it looking back!
Sam was self employed when we found out I was pregnant, so we weren’t sure what would happen after Dolly was born. The thought of having to go back to work and him stay at home with Dolly was extremely depressing for me! So of course I nagged him to find a ‘real’ job where we knew x amount was coming in every month. Which he did, because he is the best. The role he was offered was an international role as well…we have no family at all close so we both couldn’t work out of he country, which meant that I had to quit Joules. I happily handed my notice in at the end of my maternity leave in Febuary. People always ask how I had the energy to work so much at night during the early days after Dol was born, knowing I had to hand my notice in by Feb gave me a deadline, I needed to know RTP could be successful before ending my career with Joules. That is what dragged me off the sofa and got me through the exhaustion. 

How did you feel when you returned to work?
So I didn’t go back to Joules, and I only took 3 weeks off with RTP after Dolly was born. That was mainly because we moved house over Dollys birth so it took me 3 weeks to unpack all the stock and make an office in one of the bedrooms.
I didn’t use daycare until Dolly was 9 months. My working day started at 6pm after bath and bed and went on until I got the work done. 
Now she’s in nursery for 5 hours a week, which means I can actually have a solid stretch of time to think about the business and take the orders to the post office without a 2 stone lump strapped to me.

How do you manage the work/life balance?
I don’t manage it very well. When I think about the passed year-the first year of Dollys life, I feel a bit sad that I haven’t really enjoyed a lot of it. Work’s definitely taken over life. Sam is away in the week a lot, so the weekends should have been about Dolly but a lot were sacrificed for RTP. 
Sam does a lot of the design work for the business and because I want the company to work I usually push for any spare time he has to be spent doing that. The lay in on a Sunday that I dream about all week every week usually goes to him because he has to sit up until 4am ticking things off the relentless lists I make for him! Poor Sam ha ha. 
It's getting better though, things seem calmer and we do get out together as a family at least once at the weekend. But I think that’s because I’m actually feeling more confident with being a mum. All the other stuff seems less stressful now that I feel more in control of the most important thing. 

How do you get things done?!
I am SO strict with my time. Pre baby I was pretty easy going. Now my life is about routines…as most mums are! 
I never nap with Dolly, ever. I learnt my lesson on that in the beginning. If I went back to sleep in the morning with her then I don’t get a shower and I’m constantly behind so I keep it pretty tight with what I do. 
I go out twice a day with her, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Her naps are always at home if it's possible. Which means I can do work, make her food for the day, clean etc…and we play in between. It took a long time to get the right routine. But it feels like I’ve got it down now. I’m probably a bit too mental with it…if someone pops around uninvited for a cuppa whilst she’s sleeping I start feeling like I want to punch them because they have ruined my flow hah!

How are you?
Errrrm. OK I think…
Its been such a crazy year. New house, new dog, new baby, newish relationship, newish business. Hormones have been all over the place and I have definitely had some serious lows (as well as some serious highs of course!). 
It’s really hard not to look at other mums on social media and compare my life to theirs, seeing them all dolled up and happy, just having lots of lovely mummy time with their babies and friends whilst I’m sat surrounded by boxes in my sweat pants. 
But I remind myself daily that all the stuff I’ve missed out on this year has meant I don’t have to go back to a 9-5 and I can spend more time with my baby in the long run. I know I’m SUPER lucky in that respect. 
Positive thinking and tiredness are not very compatible though! 

How does a typical day go?  
Typical day…
Dolly has always been an early riser. She wakes between 5am and 6am. Depending on how much noise she makes I try and leave her in her bed until 6.30am. 
We get up and play until around 8am, then she goes down for an hour which is when I shower/clean the house and cook her food for the day. 
When she wakes we usually have a baby date with someone or we go for a walk with Buddy (the dog). Depending on the day I would usually take all the orders to the post office around 10am as well. 
She goes back down at 12pm which is when I do work. This is my most productive time with RTP as I actually feel awake! 
She’s back up at around 1.30pm, we will play for a bit and then either go on another baby date or to the shops. Back home at around 4 for more play time. 
Then I give her dinner at 5pm. If Sam has a work from home day he will start bath time at 6 which gives me a chance to clean the kitchen after her dinner madness, clear all the toys away and start cooking our dinner. Then I always give her her bottle at around 6.30pm. She sings herself to sleep usually at around 7pm. 
Then I eat dinner with Sam, pour a nice glass of wine and start work! We’ve got an office upstairs but due to the noise of the mug press I have to move all the stuff I need down to the living room. As well as RTP and the day job sam co-owns two different skate companies. So thankfully he works at night as well so at least we are doing it together! 

How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy was fine. I did LOADS of work out of the country which obviously tired me out a lot. But I was distracted by buying a house I think. Extreme nesting kicked in and I didn’t really have a chance to think about the aches and pains….

Did you have any cravings?
Lucky Charms! Just cereal in general actually. Couldn’t get enough of the stuff…

Did you find out what you were having?
Yes, we paid to get an early scan. I admire people that can wait that long to find out. No way I could not know! 

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
We had a massive list that we added to right up until she was born. I wanted to call her Alabama but Sam said no. We both love Dolly Parton, Dolly (Dolores) was the only unusual name that we both could agree on in the end. 
Her middle name ‘Martha’ was Sams sisters name, she passed away a while ago and we wanted her to be involved somehow. As Sam got to chose a middle name I obviously wanted one too…again he wouldn’t allow Alabama so I went for Loki as Ive always been drawn to Viking Mythology. I thought it would bring her a little bit of magic. 

How did your prepare for Dolly’s arrival?
We went to NCT. Which was a little bit of a waste of time in terms of information. I learnt more from Google! But great for a support network. It was amazing to have people to talk to that were going through the same things at the same time. But the free parent classes would offer the same so I'll do that next time!

How was your labour?
The labour was OK. It lasted 3 days…so its all a bit of a haze! They overdosed me on pethidine on the first day by accident. So I felt like I was on acid. AWFUL. It made me really sick. I think that ruined the experience. After I came around I just had gas and air…

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
I was really confident with breastfeeding at first. Then the midwives came round a couple of days after dolly was born to weigh her and she had lost a lot of weight. They were pretty harsh to be honest…basically said I wasn’t doing it right and that if she lost any more weight then she would have to go in to hospital. Of course that freaked me out big time! They told me to give her expressed milk after every feed to make sure she was getting enough. So I basically just had to feed/pump/feed/pump for days. Then I went to a midwifes appointment at my local doctor and they were amazing. They told me I was doing everything fine but I had a ‘slow flow’ and Dolly was a hungry baby. 
My confidence was knocked a lot by the initial comments and treatment from the home visit. I constantly felt Dolly wasn’t getting enough from me and all the pumping on top of feeding left me exhausted. If I wasn’t working I think I would have chilled with it a lot more but after a mini breakdown Sam and I decided to move her to formula after 3 months. Dolly is SO big now I cant believe I worried so much!

What does Dolly eat?
Dolly loves food. Weaning was so easy for us. I think we started with toast/fruit/cooked veg and she loved everything. I did a mix of baby led and purees at first. 
She now eats 3 proper meals a day and she has as many snacks as she wants in between. Her favourite thing by far is tangerines. She squeals when she sees them. Then she’s pretty even with her love for everything else. 

Does Dolly have a nap/ sleep routine?
So I'll probably get boo’d for this. But desperate times called for desperate measures! I knew dolly needed a routine but I had no idea where to start. I didn’t really get one in place until I started formula feeding because then at least I knew she had had enough milk and if she woke up and cried I would feel confident she wasn’t doing it because she was hungry! 
RTP was getting really busy as we had just launched our first line of kitchen china. I needed sleep desperately so I saw a Gina Ford book in the charity shop and bought it. I didn’t read the book but there was a section on routines and gave a really basic timeline for what babies should be doing when each month. So I used that and after a week she was sleeping through. It worked for about a month and Dolly started teething so everything got a little harder but we stuck to what we were doing and generally if she’s well she sleeps from 6/7 until 5/6. Which is great!

How do you keep Dolly entertained?
I just make sure she's not doing the same thing for too long, I try and make every day a little bit different for her, which does become expensive! Sometimes I think it would be cheaper to have her in nursery than for me to entertain her all day. But I just cant let go quite yet!

What calms Dolly down when she's having a freak out? 
I usually pick her up and chase Buddy the dog around the house. Honestly he is the only thing that calms her down. It’s so weird! 
I guess distraction is the thing that works for us. I also give her another Dummy if she’s screaming in her bed, she lays there and switches the dummies around and that calms her quite quickly. 

What have you found to be the most challenging age?
I think the first month was the hardest mentally and right now (the 12th month) is the hardest physically. It’s so difficult to gather the energy to make it through to day at the moment but Id take physical exhaustion over mental exhaustion any day!

Does Dolly suffer with anything?
She had silent reflux from birth. It was so hard to work out what was wrong with her but when we did we moved her on to the ‘comfort’ milk and she was fine. She’s had nothing else really! Teething is obviously a nightmare but we just give her loads of calpol and cuddles. 

At what age did Dolly become mobile?
She was crawling at 6 months, we bought a pen for the living room but she soon broke out of that. I just made sure anything obviously not baby friendly was not within reach and got some baby gates. Im with her all of the time so nothing major would happen anyway. I did find her with a mouth full of dog biscuits yesterday though…pretty gross. 

What are your go-to resources for information when you're worried?
I think my bestie (Sophie Dowd) is always my first port of call as she’s been through most things with Ted, then google, then the doctors. 

Have you taken Dolly on holiday?
We have travelled quite a bit with Dolly! She was fine at the beginning. Now she’s at the stage where so doesn’t want to be restrained. We fly to Greece on Saturday with 2 other couples and their babies who are a similar age to Dolly and I'm dreading the flight! I'm hoping food/Peppa pig and toys will get us through it. 
Most of our holidays have involved other babies so its actually really easy when we are there and sorted as the babies play with each other and we get a break! The stress before was bottles and sterilising but they are all on cows milk now and fully weaned so it should be better this time.

What were your baby holiday essentials?
Apart from the obvious suncreams, sun hats baby monitors etc. I found the UV cover for the pram really handy as it created a shady day spot for Dolly to sleep in. The umbrella didn’t really cover her much so I was glad Id brought that. 

Was Dolly's routine affected?
Dols routine was never really affected as the times haven’t been that different to the UK. It was all really straightforward. For any mummies stressing about going away they adapt very easily…
We brought the formula and microwave sterilising bags with us as she was on special milk.

Was Dolly affected by the change of environment, weather or temperature?
She was definitely a little grumpy on any super hot days but that’s the only thing we noticed. I was grumpy too so I think its normal….

Does your baby have a favourite toy?
Buddy our dog is her favourite thing to play with, they play the ‘sock game’ which is basically her taking her socks off and waving them around then buddy takes them off her, it makes her laugh more than anything in the world. 

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase and why did you buy it?
I bought a Maclaren globetrotter for our holiday! I looked at all the lightweight prams and was tempted by the cheaper ones with nicer colours but I wanted it to last more than a year and I know that a Maclaren has a good 4 years in it. 
I also bought a Sakura Bloom ring sling. Dolly weighs about 26lbs now and I struggle carrying her on my back with the Baby Bjorn. I had heard great things about big babies and ring slings so thought I would give it a go. I can see potential in it but I don’t think I am positioning her right. Need some practice. 

What has been the most useful thing you've bought? 
Well the Jumperoo was a lifesaver for about 4 months. So far that’s been the best toy I’ve bought for Dolly. I cant think of anything else that has been particularly amazing!

What are Dolly's modes of transport?
As well as the ring sling, Globetrotter and Baby Bjorn we also use an Uppababy Vista in black. It was between that and a Bugaboo. I just think the Uppa looks a little more classy than the rest…but its personal preference isn’t it. Sam is really tall and the Uppa is nice and high so that sold it for us. 
For the car we have the Maxi Cosi Pearl. 
I love all of them but she seems to hate them. I think that’s because she doesn’t like being restrained at the moment. I always end up getting her out of whatever she’s in and carrying her. I'm hoping this phase will end soon!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Baby wipes, food, books and toys. They are always in the bag ready to go.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I have got a few cute things from online stores but Dolly grows so fast I end up getting most from high street shops. Next is actually my favourite! 

Body and Mind:
Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
I’m a lot more relaxed about how I look these days. Im actually eating more now then I ever have because I am at home all the time but I weigh less than before I had Dolly. 
I think that you really focus on your baby eating and being healthy, you make sure you always have fresh fruit in the house for snacks, that there’s fresh veg for meals and that you get out for walks and fresh air. The focus is on the baby but in turn you’re getting all that good stuff too. No way I would have gone for a walk every day before I had dolly! 

How do you relax?
Whenever Sam is home, after we finish all our work he gives me a foot rub. Its my favourite thing in the whole world. 

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Any ‘me’ time is spent drawing for RTP. I used to love painting before Dolly was born, now it has to be a little more work focused but I still enjoy doing it!  

When things are tough, what gets you through?
Honestly Sam probably gets me through (when it isn’t him that has stressed me out!). He is super calm and helps me take a step back and break down the thing that’s troubling me. 
But Sam is away 50% of the time so my other coping strategies are lavender baths, rum and ginger and a good box set!

What do you wish you'd known before you had a baby?
I wish I had known that it always turns out OK! They eventually eat what and when they need to eat, they eventually sleep, they do everything in their own time and as long as you are attentive to their needs as much as you can be everything will be OK…in time!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Just do it your own way, obviously google/ask/educate yourself the best you can but don’t be afraid to do what you think is right. People love to throw opinions on you on what is best for the baby as soon as they find out your pregnant. But if we all did it the same way we wouldn’t have such different and amazing little humans.

Also, this I wasn't sure about sharing this but it's been playing on my mind... I had a smear earlier in the year, which I felt relaxed about as I'd had a baby recently and figured they would have seen anything bad (which in hindsight is extremely stupid as of course they don't look for things like that when they are busy getting a baby out. They aren't even trained to look for anything like that!)
My results were positive which completely shocked me. I went in for my operation in April and I still haven't healed which I guess shows the extent of what they had to take out up there!
The first reaction from my NCT group was "I thought they check for things like that when you're pregnant!". Which made me feel like slightly less of a moron..but also completely freaked my out that a lot of people think like this.

I just wanted to make sure that new mums know they need to get to the doctors and have that smear. Mothers are just as much at risk as anyone else!
Thank you so much for sharing, Nadine, and thank you for highlighting the importance of smear tests; I don't think it was stupid at all to assume they check for stuff like that, especially when you're being so closely monitored in pregnancy in general. I hope you're feeling better now and I can't wait to see what's around the corner for RTP, and of course seeing Dolly grow up!

Follow Nadine on IG: @nadineanddolly
Red Temple Prayer: @redtempleprayer,

No comments

Post a Comment

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