The Happy Baby Project

A happy baby needs a happy mum


3 Comments

7 months old – and some time-saving tips*

So, I’ve just spent a blissful 2 days with Betty Soo**, one-time contributor to this blog, NCT teacher, home-birth legend and mother to 4 chickens, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a cat. And I watched in awe as she multi-tasked through the day, seeming calm and in control at all times, with 3 well-fed, well-played and happy children. I was amazed when she told me she’d redecorated the house and was studying for an A-level, while looking after aforementioned small people and holding down 2 part-time jobs. It’s amazing she managed to get herself dressed in the morning, but I can confirm she was not only dressed, she showered too, and I even think I saw a hint of mascara…

I have to say it was the kick up the bum I needed. Now Schmoo is 7 months old, sleeping through (mostly), and napping regularly during the day, it’s time I made a bit more of my day and managed to find time to do things for me – if only some admin, blogging, or sorting out the house, and maybe just maybe I can start writing that book…. I often find myself in PJs at midday, or wanting to take Mr S out for a walk but realising I’m neither dressed nor clean so I can’t, or spending his naptime showering or clearing up, thus having no time to do anything at all. Being in PJs til lunch used to be nice but now I just get frustrated and feel like I’m not making the most of my day.

Now I’m never going to be as domesticated as Betty (in one memorable 10 minute “break”, I found myself sitting reading Hello magazine while she got out the Pledge and dusted – dusted!), but there are 2 things I picked up from the visit that have helped ENORMOUSLY since:

1. Eat your meals together

Not only is this nicer, and probably teaches the wee man about socialising and mealtimes, but it means you don’t forget to eat and you don’t waste precious nap time hurriedly buttering toast, etc. I can’t quite manage it for tea-time as it’s too early for me, but I now make both our breakfasts and lunch together. For breakfast, I put on toast and make tea while I make him his porridge and fruit and and after I’ve fed him that, I leave him some finger food to play with while I eat mine. It means he has to wait slightly longer for his food, but it’s teaching him patience I reckon, and if he gets too grouchy I can also put him in his highchair with a banana in his Clevafeed (see below) while he waits. I also try to have lunch with him too. It does feel a bit odd, turning to my dining companion and asking how his day has been, to get only gurgles in response, but hey we have fun.

41JRh7Fl0pL

Clevamama Clevafeed – shove in ripe banana or pear, give to baby, voila 5 minutes of peace

2. Make tidying up a part of playtime

You really don’t want to spend nap time tidying up so, it sounds so obvious (like putting on a jumper to save heating…), but I now allow myself time to let him kick around while I tidy up his meal stuff, his bath stuff, or his toys. He’s perfectly happy and I make sure I keep an eye on him, and it means the minute he’s asleep my time is my own. I also think putting toys in the storage basket and taking them out is a good lesson for him in tidying up and can even be made into a game.

3. Tidy up as you go along

Tidying up in small bits means you don’t get overwhelmed and you don’t spend precious time tripping over things. Just throwing the toys back in the box before naptime saves a massive tidy up at the end of the day.

4. Shower and get dressed as early as you can

You could do it before baby is awake, but to me that’s like going to the gym before work in the morning – something I know would be very virtuous but I am now old and fat enough to accept ain’t ever gonna happen. I mean shower and change while he’s kicking around after breakfast if you can (’tis what the jumperoo was invented for, n’est ce pas?) or during the first nap. I’ve been guilty of using that time to eat breakfast or just sit and respond to emails etc, but I find if I get up and go, then I have more time later on in the day.

*This is a guide for babies who are over 6 months and you are getting a bit of sleep finally. Before then I could easily be in my PJs til 4pm, having barely achieved as much as making a sandwich in a day, and I reckon that’s perfectly acceptable.

**Not her real name, obvs

Advertisements


1 Comment

In praise of second hand clothes, eBay, and knitting grannies

So. Mr Schmoo is only 6 months old and I already have 2 giant storage bags filled with clothes that are too big for him.* And that’s not including clothes I’ve borrowed or am lending to friends. While he looks adorable in cute new outfits, I just don’t see the point spending money on new clothes, given everything gets covered in poo, dribble and pureed carrot, and then suddenly doesn’t fit anymore.

My solution? eBay**.

I buy these baby bundles where you get a whole heap of clothes of a particular age range – normally for about £5 – so you get a brand new wardrobe, all nicely washed, mostly great condition and nearly new, for a tiny price; and at the same time you are probably helping out some poor mum to clear some space in her house. Yes, a few things are tatty but if you pick ones with good brands and you haven’t paid much, then having a few dud items in the bundle doesn’t hurt too much. I’ve also got some AMAZING stuff which I’d have spent loads on brand new. Some examples of the bundles I’ve bought recently are:

400560360676_1

Lovely jacket, pram suit and dungarees set = 99p. Plus £4.50 packaging…

221274896112_1

Set of 6 vests = £3.30. Plus £3 packaging…

151111916663_1

1 t-shirt, 3 vests, 2 sleepsuits, 1 pair of socks = 50p!!!!! Plus £5 packaging…

I don’t know why more of the mums I know don’t do this as it seems like a no-brainer to me. Some of Schmoo’s nicest clothes have cost me about 20p!

My new thing, inspired by (ahem, don’t judge me ladies) Peaches Geldof on Instagram, is hand-knitted clothes on eBay. Gorgeous soft wool, really warm and old school and cosy, and I feel like I’m helping some very talented women out there. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve bought:

271264385816_1

GORGEOUS Arran cardigan = £4.50. Plus £3 packaging…

121166905159_1

Cute little beanie hat = 99p. Plus £1 packaging… (I actually got several of these in different colours, some for 50p)

181203408592_1

Lovely knitted mitten, hat and cardigan set = £3.99. Plus £3 packaging…

The best thing about the last set is that when Mr S first wore them, he lost one of the mittens (of course!). So I wrote to the ebay Seller – the wonderfully named alexgrannyknitting – to ask whether I could buy a new mitten from her, and she sent me 2 brand new matching mittens in the same wool free of charge!

In this age of recession and austerity, and tiny itty bitty London houses, I’m all for sharing our clothes and saving my money for what really counts***.

* I recommend any mum buying a ton of these (£5 each – from Amazon or Jojo Maman Bebe) to store old clothes and toys dust-free, and also to cart baby stuff around for holiday etc.

517RDDulqML__SY450_

** Nope they didn’t pay me for this. I’m sure other auction or second hand websites would do the trick too. Obvs.  

*** Including, but not limited to, wine and shoes.


3 Comments

To Parents Of Even Smaller Children

So, I’ve had a couple of miserable days recently. And then it all gets better again and I forget how bad it was. Only I write a blog so I wanted to write about the miserable stuff too, before I forget. To share, you see. To make you feel better perhaps. Hell, to make me feel better.

First, there was the day I was cooking a fish pie, with my son bouncing in his jumperoo, nursery rhymes playing; feeling warm and cosy and thinking what domestic bliss! I am a domestic goddess earth mother type person! My baby boy had even fallen asleep on the jumperoo he was so relaxed and I popped him easily in his cot for a snooze.

Only, an hour later, I woke him up by mistake trying to get some of his dirty laundry to wash, and he screamed the house down. Nothing I could do could get him back to sleep so by the time I’d bundled him into the pram, the fish pie was burnt, the Le Creuset pie dish was smashed in my rush to tidy the kitchen, and I had to leave my cosy warm house to walk out into the rain to calm a sleeping baby back to sleep before I even had the chance to grab any lunch. Suddenly I was tired, and hungry, and cold, pounding the streets endlessly until he fell asleep. And of course then the chaos had a knock-on effect on the rest of the day, making us miss a baby class and cancel a coffee with a friend.

A few days later and unplanned Armageddon hit again. Having had an amazing week with Mr Schmoo (for that is what he is now called), where he was happy and sweet and fell asleep easily for long naps, suddenly my baby boy was changed. He was whingy and whining and kicking and arching his back, and refusing to go down for naps even though I could tell he was exhausted. But why, I cried to the heavens?! It could have been many things – teething, constipation from eating solid food, a “Wonder Week” leap of development that had sent him bananas.

All I knew was my perfect routine was now shattered. But on this morning, I also woke up shattered. I had a cold, a sniffy, achey, knackered cold which meant all I wanted to do was curl up on the sofa, put the fire on, and watch Ray Donovan on repeat. Add to this it was cold and pouring outside and I envisaged a lazy day of playing and snoozing.

Sadly Schmoo had other ideas. He was up at 5am and didn’t fancy going back to sleep again. Then he ate a bit too much acidic fruit for breakfast and spent the entire day straining in a constipated fug that might almost have been funny if it hadn’t looked so painful. Add to this crazy teething that made him bite anything in sight (including my face). Any attempts to make him nap when he looked exhausted ended up with him SCREAMING blue bloody murder, arching his back and kicking around, so all I could do was rock him and walk and eventually reach for the Calpol. He didn’t nap AT ALL. And so, I ended up, of course, pounding the streets again with the wee man in the pram. With pouring rain soaking me, a passing car chucking a puddle onto me for good measure. Not one walk but THREE walks. All lasting exactly the length of time that he slept, round in circles sometimes, perhaps stopping for a coffee and maybe a sit down…..NO he’s woken up, up you get and keep walking…

Hungry, cold, tired, ill. But luckily The Chef did bedtime and got him to bed, only the wee man was so tired he didn’t drink enough milk, so we was up at 3am, and again at 4am….

————————————————————–

Several of my mummy friends on Facebook posted this article by Steve Wiens in the Huffington PostTo Parents Of Small Children – which talks about how exhausting and relentless caring for little ones can be, and how, although wonderful at times, kids can make you frustrated and so bone-tired, you almost can’t imagine making it til bedtime.

When I first read it, I’d had a lovely day with Schmoo and couldn’t really empathise. But now I think about it all the time.

When I’m walking in the rain pushing a crying baby I also think – how on earth will I make it to bedtime?

I think of the relentlessness of it all, the fact that I never really stop being responsible, never really get more than a few snatched hours as a break.

And that even if I could have longer I don’t actually want to or feel I should, and I need to go through the arduous process of finding a good childminder and then paying them money I should be saving.

I think of the “breaks” that I do have that are filled with pureeing, and sterilizing, and washing, and cleaning, and doing admin, and replying to emails. And never seem to be filled with nice things like doing my nails or having a bath or reading a book.

I think of my friend who didn’t even have time to change her Tampax when her baby was screaming, until she finally ended up screaming herself.

I think of my friend who is now up every two hours at night, after months of sleeping through.

I think of my friend who’s son pulls out great tufts of her hair every day.

(It’s not the same friend, by the way, that would be really shit).

————————————————————————-

But then the next day, today, Schmoo is back on great form. And one big, gummy smile, and I’m delirious again. And I’m tickling his tummy listening to him laugh, and in awe of him rolling not once but twice. I’m bouncing him on my knee singing Grand Old Duke Of York, and giving him huge cuddles and kisses. I’m pushing him in his pram, this time singing, and I’m laughing and smiling at him, thinking how wonderful and amazing he is and how much I love him.

And it’s OK now, it’s really OK.

———————————————————————–

So what have I learned from the shit days?

  • The Wonder Weeks app is a fairly good indicator of whether you will be living with a saint or a monster
  • A night out with friends can restore your sanity – and all it costs is the price of a bottle or wine, and a hangover
  • A few hours’ break courtesy of a partner or friend can make a huge difference. Go shopping! Have a bath! Sit in your pants and look at Facebook!
  • Babies have rubbish memories so they won’t remember the crying and the screaming, once they feel better they won’t recall any of the bad stuff
  • But WE do remember and it does affect us – it’s OK to walk away sometimes and let someone else take over
  • They only last a few days, weeks at most…

….Everyone goes through it and it will pass.

It does pass, really.


26 Comments

Breast is best?

IMG_3360

My happy baby boy doing Calvin & Hobbs – 12 weeks

This week is National Breastfeeding Awareness week and so I thought it time to share my thoughts on the whole thorny issue of feeding.

My baby boy is a healthy wee thing – he sleeps through the night and has done since he was about 8 weeks, he’s a big bouncing boy, holding his head up and smiling lots, and I have no worries at all about his health. I was lucky enough to breastfeed him from birth to now, without many problems, but since he was about 10 days old we have topped him up with formula, now almost daily, for reasons I will explain below.

When my baby boy was born, he couldn’t latch on for a day or two because he was so knackered from the birth and being yanked out after getting stuck. I expressed colostrum (or was expressed like a cow when I was too exhausted) and fed him with that and then on day 2, he latched on and it was wonderful. I’d feed him for as long as he wanted, when he wanted, and then we fed him every 3 or so hours when he came home.

I love feeding him – I do it quietly and calmly on a nursing chair in the nursery and its our time together. He smiles at me, I stroke his head, its a lovely bonding, happy time. I also feed him when he cries sometimes to calm him, and before he goes for a nap if he’s unsettled. I don’t care if certain people (looking at you Gina F) say this is a bad habit to get into as we both feel happier and calmer when we do.

But we had a problem quite early on. I am VERY annoyed that I got bad advice from the first community midwife who visited, who said I was feeding him too much (!) and that he should only be fed every 4 hours. This was terrible advice (everywhere I read newborns must be fed every 3 hours!) and in hindsight I was so sad to see we followed it to the letter, and in the app where we recorded breastfeeding, I saw we moved from every 3 hours to 4 on her advice.

Poor baby got quieter and quieter, never crying to be fed, and we mistook this for having a chilled out little baby, congratulating ourselves on how relaxed he was. Unbeknownst to us, he was actually weak and dehydrated, and at his first weigh in at the hospital he’d lost 14% of his body weight.

I was devastated, crying my eyes out, especially as he’d been feeding so well and we’d acted on bad advice. We had to go to the children’s wing of the hospital where we pleaded with them to let us take him home and feed him up (the alternative was him staying there on a drip). They said we just had to feed him up and asked us what we thought about formula. Initially we were very against it, but they needed us to feed him up and we would have done anything to make him better – I could hardly bear the guilt that I’d actively caused him to be dehydrated – so we agreed. For the hospital, they didn’t care HOW we fed him, just that he was fed enough.

There began Operation Military Feeding where I had to breastfeed him, then express and feed him that, then feed a top up of formula, every 3 hours. It was exhausting, but so worth it. The formula was a godsend – it gave him the strength he needed to breastfeed better. In 24 hours, our wee boy had gained 200 grams. In 3 days, he was crying to demand to be fed for the first time, hydrated and fighting fit, and discharged from hospital.

While it was a scary and sad experience, it was good in that:

1. It meant I expressed from 2 weeks in and realised the benefits of this – relieving painful engorged boobs, meaning I could feed him out and about by bottle if I didn’t fancy breastfeeding in public, and allowing The Chef to do feeds.

2. It made me get over my initial reluctance to give him formula and to understand the benefits of formula top-ups.

The fact is, the hardcore breastfeeding brigade would have encouraged me to keep breastfeeding him exclusively, and in fact the community midwives wanted me to wean him off formula as soon as I could. Their argument is that formula and bottle-feeding stops milk production, makes babies go off nipple feeding, and adds extra bacteria to babies’ stomachs.

But now, knowing I’d received bad advice before, I stuck to MY instinct as a mother and carried on with top-ups of formula as and when needed. The hospital too just wanted me to feed my baby, full stop, no matter how. In my case, top ups of formula made my baby breastfeed BETTER as it gave him the strength to feed, to cry and demand feeding for the first time, so he fed better than before.

Now, at almost 13 weeks, we top him up with formula almost every day. Either because he’s hungry and my milk is coming out too slow, or its in the evening and I just don’t have enough milk for him and he’s a hungry baby boy, or because I’m out and about and breastfeeding is impossible. I do still breastfeed him 5 times a day and The Chef gives him what I’ve managed to pump for his late night snack, but its never quite enough and he needs formula to satisfy his hunger.

And I’m really, really happy with this. It gives me the freedom to formula feed him now and then, to get The Chef to do a morning formula feed if I’ve had (a very rare) night out, and to make sure he’s getting enough food. As the Baby Whisperer Tracy Hogg says – in the 60s when formula was invented, the medical profession thought it was far BETTER than breastmilk and breastfeeding dropped right down to around 20% of mums as everyone was formula feeding, thinking it was the best thing ever. Nowadays, the medical profession thinks breastfeeding is best, but hey they change their mind about everything all the time (vaccinations, when a baby should be weaned, inductions, etc) so who knows if they will change their mind again, and formula is improving all the time so that one day it might be better for our babies than our own milk.

Breastfeeding is such a personal thing, and I KNOW my milk changes all the time – sometimes my boobs are huge and I am an impressive dairy cow, and other days my boobs are floppy and for no reason I can see I just don’t have enough milk and my baby isn’t satisfied with me alone. In the evening I know I have less milk (I know for a fact as I’ve pumped and seen I don’t have a full feed) – which makes sense as I’m probably tired and a bit dehydrated from feeding a hungry baby all day. Some days my milk is white, other days its translucent. Some days I’ve eaten something the baby doesn’t like or my milk is coming out too slow or fast as he cries and pulls away and he won’t eat unless I feed him from a bottle (expressed or formula).

For me, mixing and matching is great – I KNOW he’s getting nutrients both from me and whatever the formula is giving him, I KNOW he’s getting enough food, and as an added bonus for mummy, it allows me to pass over occasional feeds to The Chef or to have a leisurely pub lunch as I know I don’t have to breastfeed in a busy pub when I’m hot and its noisy, because I have a bottle of formula in my bag instead. I’m a responsible parent and I believe I’m acting as responsibly as I can, while giving myself some freedom and ensuring I’m not stressed or anxious (which is the worst thing for baby anyway).

And the fact is, while I know that he feeds better when it’s just the two of us in his nursery, quiet and calm, I also know my baby boy sleeps better in his cot rather than out and about in the pram, and loves nothing better than when it’s just the two of us alone at home, and if I acquiesced to his wishes all the time I would pretty much NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE and become a complete hermit. I’m not a robot, I’m not a dairy cow, I’m just HUMAN and I need my baby boy to fit in with me sometimes. And if he gets a bit of formula because I want to meet friends or need a lie in, and if he has to have a longer afternoon nap because we had a nice lunch out and he had to sleep in the pram, then he will be fine, and I’ll be happier for it, which in the long run is better for him.

So my problem with the hardcore breastfeeding brigade is their emphasis on EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding, and continuing with breastfeeding when it’s just not working, to the detriment of both mother and baby. I have a friend who had mastitis and was told to continue breastfeeding by a community midwife, until she ended up in hospital on a drip. I have another friend who thought she wasn’t producing enough milk in the evening, but who was told she should persevere to increase her milk supply, and whose baby cried all evening with hunger (for 3 months!) until a breastfeeding counsellor from the hospital confirmed she wasn’t producing enough milk and said to top up with formula. That little girl slept through the evening for the first time ever.

I do believe women should give breastfeeding a go (and it is such a lovely bonding experience for you and baby), but if it doesn’t work or isn’t enough, then you shouldn’t feel bad about using formula, which, after all, was once hailed as better than breast. One of the happiest, liveliest and biggest babies in my NCT class was formula-fed from birth as breastfeeding didn’t work at all.

The fact is, parenting and breastfeeding theorists are ALWAYS extreme it seems to me – never adopting a relaxed, try it and see approach, but advocating strictly one camp or the other. This just makes it confusing for mums who feel they can’t trust their own instincts, and puts undue pressure on women who are desperately trying to breastfeed and suffering because it’s not enough for their babies. At the end of the day, us mums know best – we do – we HAVE to trust our own instinct and go with what we think right, and not beat ourselves up for topping up with formula, or reverting to formula feeding when breastfeeding won’t do.

Surely as long as our babies are well fed, that will lead to a relaxed and happy baby and happy mum too?


3 Comments

The Material Mum – the stuff I ACTUALLY needed for my newborn (0-2 months)

I wrote about what I had bought for my baby when I was pregnant, but then I didn’t really know what he’d use. So this post is for the pregnant mummies who might be tempted to clear the aisles at Mothercare before baby is born, or drag poor partner round John Lewis on a weekly basis, buying each and every product they’ve read or heard about. Here’s the list of what I’ve actually used, and what was a waste of time. Remember he’s only 9 weeks so other things may be useful in due course, but this will keep you going in the first few weeks:

Clothes

I am amazed at how quickly he’s grown out of his clothes, some of which he’s only worn once before they were resigned to an ever-growing “too small” bag (for which, these oversize storage bags are really useful – also good for storing your preggie clothes when you want to start using your old wardrobe again).

To put this in context – by 3 weeks, he had grown out of all newborn and 1 month clothes and was wearing 0-3 month clothes. Now, at 9 weeks, he’s wearing 3-6 month clothes and almost growing out of those already.

Sooo I would say spend as little as you can on baby clothes for the first few months. Friends and family will buy you lots and apart from a few new essentials, I found the eBay baby bundles brilliant – you can buy a batch of clothes for under a tenner, containing tons of trousers, sleepsuits, bibs, vests, socks etc which have hardly been worn. Just look for good quality brands and check the photos that they are in good condition. For example, I got 6 Next sleepsuits for around £2.50.

What you need is:

  1. 1 or 2 cute little outfits to get them home from hospital & to show them off to visitors (any more is a waste of money as unlikely to be worn much)
  2. From September – April you’ll need 1 pramsuit when they are outside
  3. 1 or 2 pure cotton clothes sets containing matching hat, socks, vest, sleepsuit, bib, cardigan etc – try going for the “up to 1 month” range to fit them from newborn onwards as newborn clothes lasted about a week for us! – I found M&S starter sets great for this
  4. 1 or 2 cardigans – remember they get really cold to begin with and also great to shove on when you take them out in the pram
  5. 1 or 2 hats and mittens for going out
  6. 5 pairs socks
  7. 5-10 plain vests & sleepsuits to live in for the first few weeks (to be added to by pressies of clothes – honestly you will get loads)
  8. Some Vanish spray to tackle those lovely mustard yellow poo stains that inevitably end up on your brand new sleepsuit (and vest, and socks…)
  9. Tons of muslins – at least 10

Sleeping

We found blankets are actually great pressies to receive as you use them all the time – to wrap up shivery newborns, to transport in prams and car seats, and to wrap up tight in the moses basket. Our baby boy loved being swaddled, and I found the Swaddle Me bags the easiest way to do this as the Velcro means you can tie them up tight. We then put a blanket on top – I love the rainbow blanket from Jojo Maman bebe or try Kath Kidson, or get some cellular blankets as they let the air out and don’t let baby overheat (I think Mothercare does better ones than John Lewis).

Otherwise, I bought a few sleeping bags for when he grows out of the swaddle – Grobags are obviously great (again I managed to find a nearly new one on eBay for around £3!), and M&S and Jojo Maman bebe do some nice ones from birth.

So, once you have a swaddle bag & sleeping bag, you don’t need much else. Our baby boy managed to sleep well in his moses basket (although some mums swear by the NCT-rented bed nests) – which we put in the cot, so you just need a couple of fitted sheets and that’s it, and maybe a flat sheet in case it’s too warm for a blanket.

Bathing

Most mums said they didn’t think they were worth it, but I like our top & tail bowl as its easy to carry water to the nursery, and to hold cotton wool and body lotion, to top and tail him every morning. Otherwise, all you need is a baby bath and bath thermometers are helpful to check quickly the water is the right temperature, and we put in some Johnsons bedtime baby bath for bubbles and to wash him.

For towels, I find the Cuddle dry apron towels the best as you don’t get soaked when carrying squirmy wet baby out the bath for a cuddle.

I know newborn skin is delicate so you don’t need to use products, but I do love the Waitrose baby body lotion for him, and the baby bottom butter has been amazing for my post-baby skin. Yes, really.

Feeding

It was actually quite useful to have some formula / express feed stuff in place as poor baby boy got dehydrated in the second week and we had to express and formula feed to top him up from breastfeeding. We had all this stuff in the house (mostly borrowed) so it didn’t mean a late night pharmacy trips like some mums have to do.

A little note on breastfeed “covers”. I personally didn’t find them helpful. I bought the Mamascarf but it didn’t work that well and I ended up selling it on eBay. I also realized whenever I see someone wearing an apron / cover for breastfeeding it actually makes me look more as I reckon they stand out. So, I think all you need is a bit of confidence and a nice pashmina to cover up your boob. What  I used is:

  1. A box of Aptamil in case you can’t feed or need to do top ups.
  2. A steriliser (we have the Tommee Tippee one but many have better reviews)
  3. Some bottles (again we have Tommee Tippee ones but lots out there – and Dr Brown is good for colic apparently)
  4. A padded bottle bag so you can take formula or expressed milk out with you if you aren’t quite ready to breastfeed in public
  5. A pump – hand pumps are great for quietly expressing while watching telly at night (I got a Mam one free when I subscribed to Mother & Baby magazine), but I love the Medela mini-electric pump which works in about 10 minutes
  6. A bottle brush & small washing bowl for washing bottles and pumps (I’m not precious about hygiene, far from it, but nicer to keep them separate from last night’s curry pan)
  7. Breastmilk freezer storage bags for when you have rock hard boobs and want to save that milk for a night oot

Medical / pharmacy stuff

  1. Obviously nappies, lots of (we used Pampers newborn)
  2. We used wet wipes from the start as cotton wool & water was a faff – the H20 water wipes are really sensitive and baby boy only had nappy rash once in 9 weeks
  3. Johnsons bedtime baby bath & Waitrose baby body lotion
  4. Nasal aspirator to suck bogeys out his nose when he gets a bit snuffly (amazingly satisfying)
  5. Baby nail clippers (amazing how much his nails grow)
  6. Dummies (great for when they just want to suck, better than on you…)
  7. Infacol for wind / colic and sudacrem for nappy rash and mummy’s dry skin

Travel

My pram (second hand Bugaboo Bee) is now adorned with a million accessories, but some are really useful. The cup holder is great for always having bottled water as I’m continually thirsty. I use the rain cover in bad weather and the parasol to keep him out of the sun and as a shade when we’re in the park. The Snooze Shade is good for keeping him asleep although he doesn’t need it too much if we’re moving.

I also bought a lock for the pram as you often have to leave it in health / GP clinics and I’ve heard they can get nicked. The bag hooks I bought are also great for carrying shopping when I’m out.

Slings are great for strapping them to you when they won’t stop crying and just need some cuddles, but you’re also starving and need to make some lunch. Try before you buy is my advice as I didn’t like the Babasling and Close slings I bought as they were too complicated and he didn’t sit right in them. The Babybjorn is excellent (buy second hand if you can) but it isn’t great for my back and I’d like to find a sling where I can carry him on my back when he’s older so I’m going to shop around for another one once he’s bigger.

Toys and entertainment

Don’t bother buying much as even at 9 weeks, he is more interested in ceilings than toys. Plus you’ll get loads as pressies which I can’t wait for him to play with.

We are finding now that mobiles and anything dangly are coming into their own, and play matts are perfect for them having a kick around and for dropping NCT babies on when they come round for tea. When he was really little, the Mamas & Papas playmat and gym with raised sides (try to borrow one as its so expensive) was perfect from birth as it was nice and enclosed and non-scary (the baby gym we have was too open when he was newborn but he loves it now). Now, a play gym is great for letting him have a kick around while mummy can get breakfast, daddy can watch the cricket and he tires himself out. I also bought this By Carla changing matt with activity arc (£12.95 with Bounty offers) which he is obsessed with and can keep him occupied for hours.

Summer hols / swimming

We’re going on holiday in a month or so – hurrah – and I’d actually love some advice from mums on what I need. I’ve already bought some swim nappies on advice from a friend who put hers in normal nappies and watched them fill up with water and sink like a stone! I wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. We got gorgeous swimming trunks as pressies and I bought a wetsuit and hat to protect him from UV rays. I’ve also bought him a second hand Zoggs swim seat which looks very cute and I love the look of the Jojo Maman Bebe towelling ponchos.

I’m also thinking of getting him a sun tent as mummy & daddy plan to spend a lot of time reading books on the beach – are they worth it? And also a sun shade for the car window as we’ll be driving through France during the day.


4 Comments

On Time

IMG_2870

My baby boy – five weeks of fun

There is something ironic about writing about time when I am hurriedly typing before the baby wakes up. Yes, to summarise, time – I don’t have very much of it anymore. So, let’s cut to the chase:

Things I don’t have time for anymore:

  1. Taking off chipped nail polish
  2. Reading (all forms – books completely, Sunday papers, full articles in magazines)
  3. Lazy chats with friends (calls and texts are perfunctory – where are we meeting, when, Ok see you there)
  4. Wearing make up
  5. Watching a TV programme of more than 30  minutes
  6. Shopping / trying on clothes
  7. Showers or baths that last more than 7 minutes
  8. Chilling in a beer garden for a pint, maybe two, oh go on three
  9. Drying hair
  10. Putting away things I use often, leading to an increased (but quite homely) state of clutter throughout the house
  11. Shutting the door before using the bathroom
  12. Non-essential DIY and chores
  13. Extended kisses and cuddles with The Chef
  14. Pottering and general farting about
  15. Writing well thought-out blog posts

A typical day

7am – wake up to baby crying, go to nursery, marvel as ever at what a gorgeous little angel he is, marvel at how he can be crying that much already, pick up baby, smell baby’s bottom, panic at level that crying has risen to, stick boob in baby’s mouth. Relax.

7.02am – wish I’d actually had time to pee, get a glass of water and something to eat. Realise am starving.

7.04am – wish I could actually breastfeed hands free and therefore increase entertainment options. Sigh. Lift iPhone with available hand, craning neck painfully, scroll through Facebook and twitter and Mail Online. Pray Kim Kardashian will one day discover maternity leggings. Do online shopping – supermarket food, clothes that will actually fit me (maternity clothes looking ridiculous sans bump, pre-preggie clothes too tight), baby bundles on eBay for ever growing offspring.

7.45am – baby comatose. Chuffed. Have a cuddle and cover him in kisses. Wipe off milk sick from clothes / face. Put him on play matt to kick about.

8am – I’m freeee! I’m freeeeee! Ok I have like 15 minutes before he realizes I’m not there so:

– run to kitchen, make toast, and tea lots of tea, put on tray

– tidy living room from last night’s slump on sofa, wash baby clothes, marvel at how many clothes baby gets through, put on dishwasher, marvel at how many cups of tea and cake have been consumed since last time

– wash and sterilize breast pump and put on tray

– hear baby crying, bollocks, run back to nursery

8.15am – lovely playtime with cute baby boy

8.45am – not so lovely playtime with slightly grissly windy baby boy, trying desperately to wind him down. Give up and stick boob in again.

9am – swaddle baby boy, play sheep wave music, pray he drifts off, tiptoe out…

I’m freeeee! I’m freeee!!! Ok I have like 45 minutes before he realizes I’m not there so…

 

 

This routine repeats itself throughout the day. To be specific, and according to my new friend Gina Ford, it repeats itself 6 times a day at intervals of 3 – 4 hours. Every second, every minute of my day is accounted for. I constantly look at the clock. I am constantly rushing, constantly planning what I need to do, working back from the next feed. I often have to drop everything for a crying baby (and my son is incredibly chilled out, I’m really really lucky). I can’t sit still and relax, until I hit a wall around 8pm and then literally cannot move. My life revolves around feeds – if I’m not breastfeeding, I’m expressing so The Chef can feed him. I am jealous of people who can sit in beer gardens whiling away hours. I forget to have lunch, forget to call friends, forget birthday cards and replying to texts. It gets to 2pm and I’m still unshowered and in PJs. I understand why my mummy friends send such short succinct texts and feel bad for getting annoyed before. I only have 2 pairs of trousers which actually fit me (but that’s a different story).

And I have written this thing in approximately 17 minutes and my baby is waking up so I have to rush off now…

…But as I said, time – I don’t have very bloody much of it…


9 Comments

10 things you should never say to a pregnant woman

1. You’re HUGE!

This is normally accompanied by a laugh – ah wah ha ha ha! And sometimes pointing.

Yes, we all love to be laughed at, don’t we?!  Ha – yes – I’m the size of a bloody WHALE! I could blot out the SUN!

What people seem to forget is that we are still women, still filled with insecurities and vanities, even after getting knocked up. And we still quite like to look nice, especially when we’re out of the house and have taken off our “house clothes” especially to see you. We have no control over the size and shape of our bump, unless we’ve been eating dohnuts solidly since day 1.

Actually I love my huge bump, I have no stretch marks, and its a nice neat shape. I love compliments and comments on it, just not about its enormous SIZE thank you very much!

2. Your baby will be HUGE! You better hope you have a LARGE PELVIS!

This often accompanies 1. It was followed in one case by a GP who said “what you need is one of those large African pelvises.” Which was helpful.

I have recently been offered an induction on the basis that my baby looks like it might be big and there might be problems with delivery, including shoulder dystocia. That’s a lot of “ifs”, and in my mind not enough to justify an induction, with all the inherent risks and delivery complications. So I don’t believe I’ve been reckless in saying no.  

Let’s start with some basics. You don’t KNOW my baby is huge, no-one does until it comes out of me. I also can’t change the size or shape of my pelvis, although I know that it is actually DESIGNED to cleverly move and open to let my baby out. I know plenty of mums who were scared shitless by doctors telling them they’d have huge babies (some of them opting for inductions or caeserians on this basis) and actually ended up having 8-pounders. Scans can overestimate weight. And, if we trust our bodies and they created these babies, surely we can trust them to birth them too? If you read Ina May’s guide to childbirth there are plenty of HUGE babies born naturally, without pain relief and often with no tearing or episiotomies. In fact, practically speaking wouldn’t big babies be better at pushing themselves out quickly and easily?

And anyway what is the POINT of telling me my baby is big?! It only scares me and has no real benefit to me, other than making me google “shoulder dystocia” in a panic at 4am.

Anyway, now you’ve told me my baby is big, I am choosing to make it a positive. I have a big, healthy baby and that’s BRILLIANT.

3. Let’s just split the bill

Yeah sure! Much easier! I don’t mind paying £10 for each of the 3 sips of Rioja I had! It’s not like I have anything to buy right now, not like I need to budget for anything like maternity leave or essential baby clothes! Yeah, you go ahead and order your third round of digestifs, I didn’t need that cotbed anyway!

4. You’re giving birth next week? Oh my god, I / my friend / colleague had a NIGHTMARE birth… [INSERT NIGHTMARE BIRTH STORY HERE]

This isn’t a recent thing – my own granny told me on several occasions that giving birth was like having your leg amputated without anaesthetic. Thanks granny! WHY do other mums insist on doing this?! Don’t they remember what it was like to be about to give birth and be a bit scared? Do they think sharing battle stories will help?

I don’t need to know right now about the baby that got stuck, the organs that fused together with caeserian scar tissue, the pain and the agony and the panic. Yes, I’m realistic about what might happen, but you should couch all information right now in a positive way – that everything with baby and mum was OK. I want to be surrounded by positive birth stories please!

5. Get all the sleep you can now, you won’t be getting much later!

Good advice in theory, unhelpful in practice, given you need to get up 5 times a night to pee, are wedged uncomfortably on your side by a pregnancy support cushion which doesn’t allow for any movement, while being kicked constantly by a squirmy baby who decides to wake up between the hours of midnight and 5am. You might as well get used to insomnia now ladies.

6. Make sure you [go to the cinema / eat out / go for weekends away / insert other seemingly innocuous activity] now as you WON’T GET TO DO IT AGAIN FOR 18 YEARS!

No. I’d rather spend the entire day watching a Modern Family boxset on the sofa in pajamas while eating choc ices, thank you very much.

7. Wow, you’ve got some appetite!

Yes, at 38 weeks, my appetite is equivalent to that of an 18 year old rugby lad. I could literally stuff my entire body weight in carbs and chocolate in my gob right now, and I’d still want seconds. Now, pretend you didn’t notice, make yourself useful and go get me some cake.

An addendum to this is that pregnant women often cannot help but emit some rather embarrassing noises at this time, at no fault of our own. This includes farting, burping, hiccuping, and I once saw a pregnant friend involuntarily snort like a pig at the sight of chocolate. This is also best to ignore, and blame entirely on the baby.

8. You’re definitely having a girl / boy, I can tell by the [shape of your bump / colour of the moon / other completely unscientific method of detecting gender]

No you can’t. Shuddup.

9. Oh, so you’re OK to [drink that wine / have that coffee / eat that prawn sandwich] then? *frowns*

Well I was just enjoying my twice-weekly glass of vino, really loving the taste, savouring it – my little ray of sunshine in an otherwise shitty week. But now I’m worrying about harming the baby, thinking I’m a terrible mother, and suddenly it doesn’t taste as sweet and I might as well pour it back in the bottle. It would be nice to be trusted that I’ve read up all the advice and am making sensible, responsible choices for me and my baby, whatever you might personally believe.

Add to this the opposite which is “you aren’t going to be silly about eating this are you?” (while simultaneously placing an underdone piece of steak or similar on our plate). This makes you feel obliged to eat it even though you wouldn’t have chosen to do so otherwise, and are unlikely to enjoy it. Again, mums should be trusted to make their own choices about food and drink, whether or not everyone else agrees.

10. AND FINALLY…(on being told the intended name of the child in question)….Really? That’s the name you want?! I thought that was a joke name?!

Thanks mum 🙂 xxx