Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Mummy Time: Frankie Convine

Frankie is mum to a beautiful eight month old sleep-fighting Luna who started crawling at six months [insert stressed-faced emoji here]. You may recognise her from The Fourth Trimester's Instagram where she shared 'a day in the life' last month or perhaps you already follow along over at @frankie_leigh. Here, Frankie shares a bit about her difficulty with breastfeeding, her ventouse birth and how she copes with anxiety. I hope you'll join me in sending much love to Frankie and all the best with her studies. Thank you so much for sharing with the blog.

Tell us about yourself!
I'm Frankie, 27, first time mumma to Luna Bo who arrived on 15th February 2015. We live in lovely Suffolk with husband/Dada Todd and Indi the cat.

What do you do for a living?
I was previously a teaching assistant in a local high school, but I have just started my post 16 teacher training in Art and Photography. I will be a qualified teacher this time next year. Well, I hope so anyway!

How long did you take for maternity leave?
I started my course when Luna was 6 months. I felt it was too early to leave her, and I would of had another 7 weeks had I returned to my old job, but given the course I was doing I didn't have a choice around the start date. I cried every day for the two weeks leading up to me starting! I still hate leaving her. 
We have been lucky though as my husband works 12 hour shifts so he can stay at home with her on the 3 days I am in lectures and on placement. I then look after her the other 4 days while he works. Luna's routine hasn't changed that much as she is still at home, but I have found it tough switching between roles. I have to let Todd do things his way when he's at home and I instead have to try and focus on the work I need to do. I still text at least a couple of times a day just to check in though!

How do you manage the work/life balance?
I'm not sure that we do yet! It's really hard as I have so much coursework to do, that once Luna is asleep I start working again which doesn't leave much time to spend as a couple as Todd works the other 4 days. It also means we don't get much time as a family, but we try and make the mornings special by spending time just sitting in bed catching up while Luna crawls around. As she gets up so early, it gives us time before the morning routine starts!

How do you get things done?!
Now that Luna can crawl it makes in impossible to leave her alone! I spend a lot of time carrying her under one arm while doing tasks. The Jumperoo is also a handy place to contain her when I really need both hands! I can now do jobs very quickly which means I just about get on top of the housework. Sometimes when it gets too much, I take Luna over to my mums so I can crack on with making the house look vaguely presentable!

How are you?
I am completely knackered! Luna is a pretty poor sleeper and still hasn't slept through the night. Now juggling motherhood, work, being a good wife and a good friend is a lot to take on. Since having Luna I have struggled with a lot of anxiety. Some days are easier than others, but I do find some basic things really hard. On a good day I can coast through and cope despite the lack of sleep. Other days my emotions get on top of me and it can be quite hard to not feel anxious constantly. It's something I am working on. Whenever I have a hard day, I try and take a minute and just look at Luna and really try and appreciate her. Even if she is screaming the house down! I would take being with her all day over going to work in a heartbeat.

How does a typical day go?
We are up at 6am for a feed and on my work days, a nice cuddle in bed. I then head off around 8.30am for a morning of lectures and an afternoon of teaching. I get home around 5.30-6pm. Then it's dinner, bath, bottle and bed for Luna. I then make our dinner and get started on uni work around 8.30pm. Bedtime is hopefully by 10.30pm as I know we will be up several times in the night.
My days off go much the same except Todd leaves at 6.30am, so no morning family time. Luna is a super active baby so we fill our day seeing friends, going swimming or to a free play session at a local gym. Luna especially loves he trampoline!

How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy was pretty rough. I was signed off work at 4 months pregnant as I had incredibly low blood pressure and a fast heart rate. I had lots of dizzy spells and was out of breath just climbing the stairs. It meant I spent a lot of time just laying in bed watching West Wing and Australian Masterchef! I was also measuring small so I had several extra scans and I was under a consultant. Pregnancy was the loneliest I have ever felt. Spending so much time by yourself is really hard. I'm not very good with my own company!

Did you have any cravings?
I went off all food. My sickness lasted months and was then replaced by constant nausea. The only thing I really wanted was ice cold water! 

Did you find out what you were having?
We did, my husband was dying to know.

How did you decide on your names and you already have the names ready before they arrived?
Being at home for so long I spent ages looking at names. I loved Luna from the start but Todd was slightly unsure at first. We ended up with a short list of 3 when labour rolled by and it wasn't until she born that we decided. I asked Todd and he said she was definitely a Luna. Her middle name, Bo, was his choice.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?
We went to the local antenatal classes and decorated the nursery. I started to read a couple of books, but I didn't find them hugely helpful. I had a pregnancy app that explained how she was growing and I just stuck with that. I prepared in the more practical sense of having the house ready for her.

How was your labour?
Labour was quick once it finally got going! I was 3cm when I arrived and started on gas and air. Within 2 hours I knew something was happening. My midwife reluctantly examined me again and I was 10cm and ready to go! I ended up with an emergency ventouse delivery as Luna's heart rate was rapidly dropping. She had her knees on her chest so was a bit stuck. It was very scary as there were lots of people there by the time she came out and it took about 15 minutes for her first cry. Thankfully she was fine, just shocked.

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Nothing has come easy to us and breastfeeding was no exception. We had so much help to try and breastfeed. Luna was latching on but it just wasn't right. Within a week my nipples were bleeding when I tried to feed her. It was excruciating. I cried every time she needed a feed. Eventually a midwife told me to stop for a few days to heal and to just express in the mean time. But they just weren't healing. I expressed for 6 weeks, every 3 hours through the day and night. Then almost overnight my supply just dried up. It took another 3 weeks after I stopped expressing for my nipples to finally heal. Part of me was so relived I didn't have to express anymore and the other part felt horrible and guilty. It's taken this long to finally be able to talk about the experience without crying.

What does Luna eat?
We are on 3 meals a day, when Luna decides she actually fancies food. Breakfast is porridge, lunch is fruit and breadsticks and dinner is vegetables and beans or lentils. We are vegetarian so Luna has the same diet as us and is starting to eat versions of our meals. I had been doing mashed food rather than purées. Luna had bad reflux so we started weaning at 5 months. We now do a combination of mashed food fed to her and baby led weaning.

Does Luna have a sleep routine?
We have a bedtime routine of dinner, bath, story, bottle and sleep. But during the day we don't. Luna typically has a nap a couple of hours after getting up, lunchtime and late afternoon. The naps are normally around 15-20 minutes. As Luna isn't a great sleeper I tend to go with her and what she wants.
How do you keep Luna entertained and what are her favourite things to do?
Climbing is Luna's favourite activity, so she likes anything were she can move about. Taking her out for a meal is a nightmare! We do baby gymnastics, swimming and use a sensory room at a local children's centre. As she gets bigger and can walk, I imagine we will spend lots of time at the beach and playing outside.

What helps to calm Luna down when she's having a freak out? 
Rocking. I spend hours a week rocking in my living room. I'm going to wear the carpet out soon! When she was tiny and had colic we would rock for hours everyday.

Does Luna suffer with anything?
Luna is allergic to milk proteins so she has a specialist formula that is dairy free. She also suffers from reflux. Thankfully it is finally getting better. We saw a paediatrician who prescribed her medicine she takes twice a day. We have been in teething hell for weeks and have used a combination of Anbesol and Calpol to help. If anyone knows of anything else that works though, please let me know!

At what age did Luna become more mobile and how did you cope?
Commando crawling came first at 4 and half months, with proper crawling starting at 6 months. I didn't expect to have a bay that moved so quickly! We have stair gates on the stairs and at the kitchen. I have caught her trying to squeeze through into the conservatory because she was eyeing up the cats biscuits!

Does Luna have a favourite toy?
Luna has a Jellycat rabbit that she loves. She really enjoys books although she generally just chews on them. We got bought The Gruffalo with noises and she loves it.

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?
Gap have a sale on at the moment, so I got a few bits to put away for next year!

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?
The best thing I own is my Perfect Prep machine. It is incredible! If you bottle feed your baby, it is the way forward for sure. So quick and easy to use.

What is Luna’s mode of transport?
We have an iCandy Apple to pear pushchair. We got an amazing deal for the carrycot, seat and frame. I really like it. It feels sturdy and once you know the knack, it's easy to get up and down. We were given a Maxi-Cosi car seat and Isofix base by a friend of Todds, which has been fantastic.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Having something to entertain Luna; a couple of toys and something she can chew on help to keep her happy. Snacks, muslins, change of clothes for her and me are essential too.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
High street-wise I love Zara. They don't just make girls clothes in pink, yay! I especially love independent mumma-run companies that I have found on Instagram. If I could afford it, I would buy heaps from them! We really love Tobias and the Bear and Stitched Up Apparel.
Body and Mind:

Has your view on, or relationship, with your body changed since you've become a mother?
I have always had a difficult relationship with my body and pregnancy has heightened that. I am totally amazed what my body has done and how incredible it is I grew Luna in me. But I look in the mirror and don't like what I see. However I felt like this pre-Luna so I think pregnancy has just taken me further from my ideal. I do feel very fortunate to have not got stretch marks when pregnant though.

How do you relax?
I never feel I have the time to just relax and be anymore, but if I do get the time, laying in the bath with the music on is bliss!

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
I have forgotten what this is! I'm either at work or home with Luna. I have had one meal out with the girls which was lovely to catch up and hold a whole adult conversation. I need to make more time for me to do this.

When things are tough, what gets you through?
To talk to someone. I am lucky that a few friends have had babies at the same time, so we are a good support to each other. Sometimes I have a good cry too because generally that makes you feel much better! And chocolate. A treat just makes everything feel a bit more manageable.


What have you found to be the most challenging age?
The first 6 weeks were really hard and I was so anxious I barely left the house. Luna would cry for hours and I was expressing all the time. I still find days hard now because Luna wants to be doing so much but can't and recently has been very upset and I don't know exactly why. I think every age has its up and downs though!

If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be?
Friendships will change, but sometimes that's ok. Read those books you got last year because you won't have time soon! Pregnancy sucks but remind yourself that each day is a day closer to having Luna. And be prepared to love someone more than anything ever.

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
My mum said to me, Luna isn't an easy baby but that's just what she's like, it's not that you're doing it wrong. You are always doing your best.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
You are amazing. You are doing everything right for your baby. Don't listen to people who judge you. Motherhood is the hardest but also the most rewarding job in the world. We should all support each other in this mammoth task. Remember on the hard days what an awesome job you are doing.

(Also read My Milo & Me blog, it is so funny you may actually wet yourself a bit, but it's totally worth it!) 
If you'd like to feature on Mummy Time, give me a shout at
Nicki x

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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