Thursday, 30 July 2015

Mummy Time: Siobhan Miller

Siobhan is a fellow mummy blogger and all-round sweetheart; I had the pleasure of meeting her and her beautiful boys yesterday at a meet up in London along with many of the other mums that have featured on Mummy Time in the past! I can confirm they are all real people and are all beautiful in real life, as are their babies. I loved Siobhan's feature this week and I hope you will too.


Who are you?
I’m Siobhan, aka The Double Mama, a 29-year-old Mother of two (hence the double mama name). I live in London with my three boys – James (32), Oisin (8) and Arlo Bear (7m).

What do you do for a living?
I’m on maternity leave at the moment but will not be going back in September purely because full time childcare is prohibitively expensive and we don’t have any family within a 4 hour drive to help us out. Instead I’m launching a breakfast club for children and providing early morning childcare for local working parents. I’m also happy to be doing some work for The Calm Birth School using my digital marketing experience from my previous life.

How are you?
I am loving being a Mama second time around – I don’t know if it’s being older or just more experienced but I’m loving every minute. At a guess I’d say I spent 80% of motherhood first time around worrying and I read everything there was to read on raising a baby. This time I’ve not read a single book or looked up milestones or anything else. I’ve spent my time enjoying my beautiful baby.
That’s not to say life in general is all flowers and happiness. Keeping a relationship on track with kids is fu*king difficult and I struggle with that.

How does a typical day go? 
I get up about 5.45am and feed the baby Bear, he then generally goes back to sleep for another hour or so, so I do too! James then gets up next and gives the Bear his breakfast. Oisin by this point is already up and has helped himself to food. By 8.30am it’s pretty hectic with James leaving for work and Oisin off to school. At 9am – ish, Arlo Bear goes down for a power nap and I take a shower. I then try to get everything I need to get done (my work, life admin, housework, washing, dissertation(!!)) completed between the hours of 10am and 3pm, including feeding the bear a couple times (boob and food) and hosing him down a few more times (blame baby led weaning). Sometimes I might meet up with another adult, which is always blissful. At 3 o’clock I leave to collect Oisin from school and a couple of his friends who I look after normally come back too. Until 6pm it’s a madhouse with 4 kids, keeping them entertained, stopping wars breaking out, refereeing football matches, ensuring the baby doesn’t choke on lego blocks, making dinner and getting them all fed. After 6pm, James gets back from work and we work like a military team to get the house back to a half-way respectable state, the kids bathed, the homework done, and them into bed by 8pm. We then try and eat something vaguely healthy and filling ourselves and catch up on the day. I’m a real night owl so I will then stay up late most nights, reading blogs, scrolling social media, writing my own blog, window-shopping for clothes online and working on my dissertation. I normally go to bed around midnight but often later.


How was your pregnancy?
The first half of pregnancy with my second baby was pretty goddamn awful. I was so sick I ended up being admitted to hospital and put on a drip. I had that ‘morning sickness’ which is actually all day sickness and is given a fancy name hyperemesis gravidarum – it’s what Kate Middleton had. Any time I now get even the slightest wave of nausea I get the fear that it’s happening again. It was like a 24-hour bug that lasted 5 months. But then I remind myself that I would need to have had sex to be prego again ;) Plus I don’t think it would be possible because I’ve still not even had a period since February 2014!

Did you have any cravings?
Croissants and orange juice were the only things I could stomach for the first 5 months. After that I moved on to noodle dishes and milkshakes. Afterward giving birth I really weirdly started drinking sugar in my tea which I normally could not stand. Also cokes! I never drank fizzy drinks until after Arlo was born and now I have a least one coke a day – I’m an addict. What’s that about??!

Did you find out what you were having?
I did with my first but not with my second. And I have mixed feelings about that. It was kind of a cool surprise but you know what, you’re already pretty elated/shocked/awash with emotion when you push a HUMAN BEING out of your vagina that whether it’s a boy or girl doesn’t add that much more excitement. I do feel like I wasn’t able to bond as well with my baby in utero because I didn’t know if it was a he or a she and I couldn’t imagine what they would be like. So if I’m lucky enough to have a third, I’m probably going to find out…

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
We chose Phoenix for a girl (which I still LOVE) and Arlo for a boy. We did have the names ready but only because we liked them and then didn’t bother extensively searching for anymore. Bit lazy. No great story behind the names either – Phoenix came to me one evening and it just stuck. Arlo came to me one summer afternoon. I also liked Jet because I had a great-Uncle called Jet and he was pretty cool, but then people went on about the Gladiator and Katie Price’s child so that put me off.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?
Hynobirthing classes!! I did mine with London Hypnobirthing and I would definitely recommend. We didn’t do NCT because a) I had already had a child b) we didn’t want to pay for another set of classes. I would say that because we didn’t do NCT I never met a group of local mums-to-be who were due at the same time as me and therefore I don’t now have a group of Mum buddies with babies the same age as mine who live near me. So I think I lost out there a bit. So if you can afford it, maybe do both. If you can only afford one, definitely do hypnobirthing – you can meet Mums in other ways.

How was your labour?
My labour was the best day of my life. I don’t say this to make people feel bad if they had a pretty traumatic time. I say this to bring hope! With my first I was well overdue and ended up being induced. My labour last the best part of two days and it was totally traumatic. I was hooked up to a drip for days, wasn’t allowed to eat, couldn’t sleep so was absolutely shattered and weak. I had an epidural on the second night so by the time my baby was born in theatre (mere moments from an emergency c-section) I was totally out of it and couldn’t feel a thing. The first photo of me holding my newborn shows me half asleep with my eyes rolled back in my head! Oh and I was hyperventilating in theatre with the panic because of his dropping heart rate and then being sick for some unknown reason afterwards. It was a horror show.

So please don’t think I’m being smug when I now talk about what a dream my second labour was. I have been there when everything goes wrong and they have to break your waters and take blood from baby’s head whilst he/she is still in the womb to check their oxygen levels and then monitor baby with a clip attached to their head. I’ve been there with the forceps delivery and the internal tears, the impersonal brightly lit theatre, all the people watching. I’ve been there.

However for my second labour we put in a lot of work. We went to our hynobirthing classes and we did the homework. I was genuinely looking forward to the start of my labour. I was totally zen. My waters broke one morning – day before ‘due day’ (not that that means anything). My contractions started at 3pm that afternoon and Arlo Bear was born at 5.19pm on the sofa at home, in front of the Christmas tree with James and my midwife Natalie by my side. I had a planned homebirth and it was just the best thing ever. I knew my midwife because she did all my ante-natal visits (and post-natal visits) which is not the same when you have a hospital birth. Being part of the homebirth team felt a bit like having private healthcare. It was a million times better than the normal standard of care. I felt safer, more confident and more cared for. I needed no pain relief in my labour (not even gas and air), it was incredibly fast and really intense but just the most amazing experience. When Arlo was born, I was so with it and awake. I wasn’t tired at all. The photo of us together, taken just seconds after he was born, shows just how alert and happy I was. Completely different to my first birth experience.

I literally loved every minute of giving birth to Arlo Bear. It was most definitely the best moment of my life. I was filled with joy and pride and it totally empowering. I felt amazing.


How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding Oisin was really difficult at first. At one point he was bringing up blood because my nipples were in such a state (one was hanging off). A health visitor came to see us and told me I categorically couldn’t continue feeding on them so I expressed for a while to let them heal. I remember being so scared that he wouldn’t go back to boob after bottle but it was totally fine. After they had healed it was lots better. I ended up breastfeeding him for a year until he moved on to cow’s milk in a beaker. The painful bit probably only lasted a number of weeks but I remember it being pure hell. 

Second time round I’ve not had a single problem (are you seeing a pattern here? Have a second baby, folks J). He latched on, fed well, no pain, no bleeding etc. etc. It’s just been enjoyable. I hope to feed him for at least a year too.

Does Arlo have a feeding routine?
He has a breakfast, lunch and dinner and then approximately 4 breastfeeds a day but that is a bit more variable.

What does Arlo like to eat?
He absolutely loves mangos and strawberries. He eats strawberries like they are apples – just holds one in his tiny fist and munches away. With the mangos, I slice them so they are like crescent shaped pieces and leave the skin on so they don’t just slip through his hands. He then shreds the mango flesh out so there’s just a floppy bit of skin left. He does this with just his gums. It’s incredible. He literally leaves no waste. He also loves broccoli – again he holds the stalk in his hand and shreds the top off. He also eats sweet potato mash and carrots. He loves those Heinz baby biscotti biscuits and those Organix carrot-flavoured wotsits (they aren’t really wotsits, but they look like them). He also steals muffins and gobbles them up.

What was your approach to weaning?
He’s only 7 months old and already I can’t remember what his first food was??! How bad is that. I just let him eat what he wants to eat, which is basically everything.

Does Arlo have a sleep routine?
He will sleep from about 7.45pm sometimes a bit before through to 5.45/6am. He also has a morning and afternoon nap if we are at home. If we’re out and about then he just tends to nap in the car or the buggy sometimes.
Before 6 months I was breastfeeding him throughout the night – sometimes every hour or two. It did start to really exhaust me – that proper fog you only get with long-term sleep deprivation – I had that. It can make you feel ill. I didn’t know if he fed at night for comfort or if he was hungry so I decided to pump and see how much he was taking. I discovered he was drinking 3x full bottles of milk a night! So he was obviously hungry. So then for the next week or so I pumped every feed and made sure he had all the milk he was meant to be having (and some more) in the daytime hours. It worked a treat. He started sleeping way better almost immediately – because he was full. So after 6 months of pretty terrible sleep, we kind of fixed it overnight and quite easily. We kicked ourselves for not doing it sooner.
I also was told that sleep breeds sleep so getting him to nap in the day also helped with the night sleeping because before 6 months we had no routine whatsoever and sometimes he didn’t nap at all.
So as much as it pains me to say – routine does work – EURGH.

How do you keep Arlo entertained?
Arlo bear loves BINKS – that’s a bath in a sink. It’s probably his favourite thing to do – to get naked and sit in the sink – with the water running. He also loves me singing to him – and he is the only person in the world who enjoys that – so I appreciate that about him.

What do you do when Arlo has a freak out?
Hand on heart I can honestly say that the Bear has never done this. In 7+ months I’ve not had a single freak out. He winges if he’s hungry or if he’s sat in a massive poo and I’ve not noticed. He cries a bit when he’s tired but I’ve never had an episode where he’s crying and I don’t know what’s the matter or where I’ve struggled to calm him. I feel really lucky.

Ironically because before he was born I was really freaking out that he was going to be a nightmare and really difficult and I’d not cope etc. etc. I wasn’t scared about labour at all – I was scared about actually having a baby on a day-to-day basis. But he’s been a total dream. There’s not been a single night where we have had to push him up and down the street in his pram or drive him around town to get him to go to sleep. In fact, even when he was a ‘bad’ sleeper, he always fell asleep in his cot just fine. The problem was he’d wake frequently for milk but as soon as I fed him, he’d go straight back to sleep again – no rocking or singing or whatever. He is an amazing baby.

How does Oisin get on with Arlo?
My eldest is 8 so I’ve had no problems – I think having a large age gap has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that they understand when you have to focus on the new baby and they don’t get so jealous. Oisin has been a huge help to me and still is. He is a brilliant big brother and absolutely loves his new role. I am consumed with guilt however all the time about how much I’m neglecting him now – but he tells me ‘it’s ok because I like to do my own thing now anyway’ – bittersweet words given that it was just me and him for so many years.


Have you taken Arlo on any holidays?
We went skiing with the baby when he was 4 months old. Wasn’t prepared to miss a season J. We flew to Grenoble and then took a bus to the resort (alpe d’huez).  The journey was uneventful and Arlo was fine on the plane. I breastfed him on take off and landing as I heard that helps with the pressure because they are swallowing. We stayed in a small self-catering apartment that I found on AirBNB. We had to tag team with the skiing – I would go out in the morning with Osh, James and Arlo would hang out and then we’d swap in the afternoon – or vice versa. It was a different kind of ski holiday but at least we still got some time on the snow and the chance to breathe the fresh mountain air.

What were your baby holiday essentials?
Again boobs are pretty valuable here. Also we bought a super lightweight travel cot on eBay (I basically buy all baby paraphernalia second-hand). It’s made by Phil & Teds and it’s been great. We have been away now a number of times now with it and it’s so much easier than lugging a massive heavy one plus it takes up much less space!


Does Arlo have a favourite toy?
The choking hazard – this wooden toy with lots of sticks with little balls on the ends that is held together with elastic. Looks like something a physicist would have. It is actually a baby toy. Also looks like it’s a choking hazard – hence the name.

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?
The door bouncer – absolutely fantastic. He’s been hung in the kitchen doorway since he was quite small and he’s so content bouncing up and down and letting me get on with making breakfast/lunch/dinner. It’s brilliant – fun for baby, hands-free for Mum.

What is Arlo’s mode of transport?
I have a Bugaboo Cameleon which I bought off eBay before Arlo was born. I knew exactly what I wanted since I’d been through so many with Oisin and I’d found the Bugaboo to be the best. It’s been brilliant and I have no complaints. It’s a bit more money yes (although not necessarily if you buy second-hand like me) but it’s so worth it. The bassinet was perfect in the early days. He’d fall asleep in it when I was on the morning school run and then I’d get back into the house and I was able to leave him sleeping peacefully in it.
I had a Baby Bjorn carrier but hated it – killed my back. Switched to an Ergo baby carrier which is super comfortable. Sometimes I just use it to carry him around the house so I’ve got my hands-free to get on with other things - like hoovering!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
I don’t have a change bag (!!) because I’m holding out for one by Tiba and Marl – check them out if you don’t know about them. The brand has been set up by two super (cool) Mamas.
I do have a small change mat that folds up and holds a couple nappies and a pack of wipes. It was about £12 in JoJo Maman Bebe and it’s so easy. I would definitely recommend. It’s the only thing I really need to take when I go out  - that and my boobs!

Body and Mind:

Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
Ha! Well I have mixed feelings when it comes to my post-second-baby-body. I don’t have any stretch marks, which I’m grateful for because that was something I became super paranoid about in pregnancy. I avoided getting any first time around but because I’m now 8 years older I became really worried that I’d get them this time. Silly really I know because they aren’t that bad and it’s true that your body has done an amazing thing but all the same, I worried. Weight –wise I’m still a stone more than my pre-pregnancy weight and my baby is 7 months old. I don’t fit in my skinny jeans and that’s annoying. But as much as I’m happy to moan about being too fat for my clothes I’m not unhappy enough to do anything about it – I’ve not started exercising or trying to eat healthily. I think that’s something I will do when I stop breastfeeding. At the minute I feel like I look ok and yeah I have just grown a baby, and I’m going to eat my bloody cake.

How do you relax?
What’s that? J

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Time to myself? Come again?
I joke. I read blogs online, spend too long on instagram stalking other Mamas and filling my asos/whistles/topshop basket (but rarely check out).

When things are tough  what gets you through?
My baby – he is a bundle of joy and always cheers me up. Sometimes I wake him up at night just because I want to cuddle him – bad aren’t I?!
I also like a Diptyque candle and listening to one of my hypnobirthing relaxation tracks if I can’t sleep. Oh and a tidy bedroom – I’m not a tidy person but I appreciate a tidy, calm space.
Oh and of course talking to friends – free therapy. I’d never survive without my friends.


If you could give your pregnant a heads up what would it be?
I’d tell myself it’s not anywhere near as bad as you imagined!!! I was petrified I was not going to love being a Mum to a newborn again and that my baby was going to be a mini-devil and ruin my life and I’d never sleep again. It’s actually been the best thing – I am loving motherhood second time around. I want loads more!! At least two… then maybe I will adopt a couple!

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

You are enough. Try to put down the books, step away from Google and just live in the moment – and enjoy it! Trust your instincts. You’ve totally got this. And babies really don’t stay small for long. Soak it up. Even if there are bad days – it won’t last. The newborn days are precious and too few. 

Thank you for sharing and good luck with your studies, you are a super mama!
Find Siobhan
Instagram @the_double_mama
Twitter @thedoublemama

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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