Wednesday 10 August 2016

Mum Love

I have about four half written posts at the moment, that are just a bit hard to write, because they are personal and emotive for me. I keep writing a little bit more every so often, but I think when they are emotive, it is harder to get it right and that for me is important. So I thought I'd go with a positive post for today!

I don't post as often as I would like, this is for two reasons. I want to only post things that are truly valuable and meaningful. I am not looking to churn out 17 posts a week, ever. I write when I have a good idea and something I think (hope) people want to read about. I endeavour for it to be more than it currently is and as my little darlings get bigger, hopefully it will be! It is also because... children. I am absolutely in awe of other mummy bloggers who can sit down a blog, or vlog or edit most evenings once their kiddies are in bed. I can do that some evenings, but not most. This leads me nicely on to the topic of this article...

Mum Love.

As Mummies, we face a lot of criticism and judgement, whether it is real or just perceived, or just our own mummy guilt. Since I started blogging, I have found this wealth of other mummy bloggers... there are millions of us and they are just fab. I'm sure there are some seedy, dark corners of the mummy blogger world who are judgey and telly... and I really hope that isn't how I come across. But largely, they are fab. I read about mums with similar experiences. I read about mums with very different experiences, broadening my horizons and perspectives. I see how honest people can be in a world of insta perfect pictures, with comments under of 'then he threw all his lunch on the floor and pee'd his pants'. I love this. Yes to honesty. Yes to real life, real mums, real dads, real families. Most importantly, I read about mums who champion other mums! 


How wonderful is that. 

It is always important to remember when browsing instagram or Facebook, or social media generally, that a picture is but a snapshot of their day. Chances are they have picked the best moment of their day to showcase. Which is lovely! I love looking at nice pictures or gorgeous babies and families, who doesn't! But I remember that they too sometimes have to get weatabix out of their hair, or vomit out of their cleavage. In fact, I love those pictures more, because who doesn't love feeling that they are not alone when they are staring at a toddler who has hurled themselves on the floor because you got the green shoes out instead of the blue ones...

I'm currently a huge fan of Scummy mummies, if you don't follow them or listen to their podcasts, you should start. They are funny and so real. They chat to real and celeb mums and address real life with such a fabulous attitude. Dress like a mum and Muther Pukka are also just wonderful and make me feel great, dress like a mum has such a down to earth attitude and always looks fabulous in an effortless, cool way. I want dungarees because of her. She makes me not feel bad about wearing what makes me comfy as a mum, but at the same time makes me want to be a little more adventurous with my mum uniform. Mother Pukka is currently campaigning for better flexible working and started #parentfail which is fundraising for @righttoplayintl, a very worthwhile charity (check them out here) who among other things, use play as a mechanism for educating children in poverty. 

There are a ton of fabulous mums that I'm following in total awe and these are just three (well four as scummy mummies are a duo!) If you aren't someone who reads blog articles often just start by taking a look at these chicks because they are such a positive force of mummy hood you will love them and want to be them. 

Mum love to all.


Tuesday 5 July 2016

teething necklace

A review of Gumidrops necklace by Gumigem

Before I had Camille, I thought teething necklaces were such a 'non essential' item, made for the parents who have all the gear and no idea... so I'm guessing either I've joined that club and I should hang up my Mary Poppins handbag or they in fact do have a place in this world! Lets hope it's the latter. 

Camille, at just 4 months started teething terribly; the poor little mite puts everything in her mouth and chomps on anyone who puts an unsuspecting finger near her. I'm not sure my nipples are going to make it out of this breastfeeding journey in tact! Seb wore an amber anklet all the time, with the theory that Baltic Amber produces an analgesic effect on the gums...  I had the mantra that it wasn't doing him any harm and largely wasn't even seen as it was under a sock or a baby grow. He very rarely had any teething issues so naturally I'm an advocate of it! Camille is wearing one too but still puts everything in her mouth and periodically appears to be in pain - so the jury is out on that one.  With child number two, I am naturally out of the house far more often, on the school run, at soft play centres, on farms; Camille like most babies has a penchant for throwing things on the floor. I am absolutely not a germiphobe - I am a pick-it-up-and-blow-on-it kinda mum; but when a baby toy is dropped on the farm I have to draw the line! So I now totally see the logic behind a teething necklace. 

So here I am, completely converted, wearing a frankly very stylish teething necklace. I opted for the gumidrops necklace by Gumigems, in 'pearl berry' style.  It is knotted carefully between each bead so if it were to break they wouldn't all fall on the floor or more importantly in your babies mouth. It does up with easy breakaway clasp on the back, like a lanyard - this has proven really handy as my toddler has accidentally pulled it a few times! And I have got it caught on things once or twice (I'm not clumsy, I don't know what you're talking about...!) and it's just popped undone - no strangulation for me! 
Camille loves it - which is really what it's all about. The silicone is both soft but firm enough for her to squish her gums into, easy for her to hold on to and of two different shapes, one better for holding and one better for chewing. I love putting it on knowing it looks like I'm just 'finishing' my outfit, something I absolutely never remember to do normally... But you and I know I'm really just wearing a toy!  People are frequently surprised that it is for teething and not just a fashion item which is cool and testament to the product. It is just lovely to know that it isn't going to be dropped on the floor, it can be sterilised, hand washed and can even go in the dishwasher. 

Gumigems have a huge variety of necklaces, bangles and teething toys... I'm just choosing which one I'd like next...! 

Find yours here... 


(This is not a sponsored review) 

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Bonding - loving until your heart hurts

Before I had my son, I was worried about bonding with him or suffering from post natal depression. As a nanny I have loved and adored many children in my care and growing up as a carer for my younger sister with Down Syndrome, I loved her in a way that was more than just sisterly. Could I love my own child more than that? Would it feel different? Should it?

As it turns out, with Seb I needn't have worried. The moment he was born and placed on my chest I was utterly besotted and totally in love. I used to (and still regularly do) tell my husband that Seb made my heart hurt with love. When I fell pregnant the third time (following a miscarriage in the middle) I just assumed it would be the same. Why on earth wouldn't it be? 

After a much more difficult pregnancy (leaving me on bed rest for the last 4 weeks) I had the birth I wanted (read about that here) followed by a pretty grim post part haemorrhage. I had ten precious minutes of skin to skin with my baby girl in the birth pool before I was whipped onto the floor (I was at home - not just some shady backstreet hospital) and my midwife stemmed the bleed. I remember someone offering to put Camille on me, but I was weak, unable to really lift my arms and incredibly dozy; so I didn't think it was a good idea. With hindsight maybe I should have held her then. 

I next held my baby girl a good 2 hours later in hospital and this was the first time I could breastfeed her. It was magical and she nailed it like a superstar. Im very fortunate that in spite of the haemorrhage my milk still came in on day four as it should, some women aren't so lucky. I did my absolute best to bond with this gorgeous baby and it helped that because of the blood loss (and no transfusion) I had to be on bed rest for a week, however, I felt so dreadful and weak that it wasn't particularly 'special time' for us. On day 6 I had an ovarian cyst haemorrhage internally which led to another stay in hospital and some more feeling totally crap. 

So all in all, not the best start for us both. 

At three weeks I realised that I didn't feel for Camille, what I felt for Seb. Someone said to me when we were out introducing her to people 'Oh, I'll give her back in a minute, I remember that feeling of other people holding my newborn - it's lovely but secretly you can't wait to get them back.' I remember that feeling too - with Seb. It dawned on me then that I did not have those feelings for Camille. I was heartbroken. I tried to rationalise that I love Seb for the person he's become and that it isn't instant. But the reality was, I loved her because it is in my nature, because I would do anything for any child, but that was just it... she could have been any child. I would go through the motions with her, feeding, changing, winding... But I didn't have that love that makes your heart hurt and that in itself, hurt. 

How could I not be head over heels in love with this precious bundle?  

(credit Natasha Hanna photography)

I did some searching online and thank goodness for the online community of sharers (I genuinely don't know how people hacked parenting before the internet) I found I wasn't alone. It appears fairly common to have bonding issues both second time around and following post natal complications. 

I then made a very conscious effort to do these things -  

  1. Skin to skin. Whenever I could. It was a faff whilst also looking after a toddler and attending his classes, as it turns out, you can't get naked at trampolining class! So skin to skin largely happened in the evening once Seb was in bed and we had time for a good cuddle. 
  2. I made time for her. To stare lovingly into her eyes like you do with your precious first born. I made sure I used the time when Seb as at pre school to really focus on her. The washing could wait.
  3. I gave myself time.  Birth is a natural and wonderful thing. But it is also pretty traumatic for your body and it takes time to heal, particularly when there are complications or illness. I knew I would love her like Seb in time. I focused on a positive future. 
  4. Baby massage. The health visitor also suggested baby massage. It is definitely worth talking to your health visitor if you think you are struggling to bond with your baby. They won't think you are a bad mother and they will try to help. I was offered free baby massage sessions at a local children's centre, so cost doesn't even have to be an issue.  It was tricky for me to get to the classes offered with a toddler in tow so I instead started to include some baby massage in my bath routine and have signed up for a baby sensory class (while Seb is at pre school) as a nice one to one activity for us to share. 
Some weeks later, I looked one evening at her lying sound asleep in her cot and my heart ached for her. I cried with joy, as this was the feeling I had been waiting for. I just needed to get to know her a bit better.

The moment I felt my heart ache for her

We are now 4 and a half months in and I absolutely adore her. She is beautiful, expressive and very giggly. There were moments I feared this day wouldn't come, but they were absolutely worth waiting for. 


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Friday 29 April 2016



Sometimes, when people tell me my babies are 'good', I sort of want to shout... 'NO! I've worked on having a routine that works for us!!' But usually I smile coyly and instead spout something about being very lucky.  In recent years some parenting guidebooks have terrified new parents away from routine and leaving them to fend for themselves. All right, maybe a little dramatic, there are lots of guides that suggest different ways to establish a routine but generally the feedback I get from new parents is that it is a little overwhelming and over complicated.

It doesn't have to be. It is really simple. Decide how you want your day to work with feeds and sleeps and then label that your perfect day. You cannot have a perfect day everyday. This is fact. Babies are humans and some days they are hungrier, some days they are sleepier and some days they are just plain grumpier. If your routine goes to pot then shrug it off and start again tomorrow. It is never the end of the world and it certainly shouldn't be something to fret about.

Now... I have to be honest with you and admit that I LOVE routine. For myself. To my detriment sometimes. I am that person who always gets on the train in the same place (the perfect and most appropriate place on the train), my morning routine (pre children) was timed down to the minute (i.e. 6.27, brush teeth)... I hate myself a little for admitting this out loud. So I get that I am maybe a little extreme. But the reality is, babies also love and crave routine. From incredibly early on they learn a pattern, i.e. when I wake up, I get fed; or when I am given this snuggly toy, it is time to sleep. Giving your baby signals is comforting and means that the day isn't a constant surprise to them. This world is entirely new and baffling to the little cherub, so any familiarity is a source of comfort.

I like to aim for a four hour routine (it should never be more than four hours bar one long stint over night). My son got on board with this almost immediately, my daughter was on a three to four hour routine for much longer and still at 16 weeks flits between the two.

Ideally, my day would look something like this -

7am - Feed
8am - Sleep
11am - Feed
12pm - Sleep
3pm - Feed
4pm - Sleep
7pm - Feed
8pm - Sleep
11pm - Dreamfeed

But your timings may work better with a 6am or even an 8am start. As I mentioned, Camille couldn't hack 4 hours between feeds, she would sometimes feed at 7am and then 10am. And that's cool, because that is what worked for her and we made it work for us as a family. But knowing roughly when she was going to feed means I can do stuff with my big boy, I can travel at good times and I can plan feeds to work with the school run. 

At about 10/12 weeks, babies can manage a little longer awake. Camille now spends an hour and a half awake at each window. I tend to put her down in her pram for her sleeps in the day, this allows me to go out when I need to (particularly necessary with Seb and school runs for my niece and nephew) but also it makes rocking her back to sleep easy if she stirs. Babies commonly stir somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes into a sleep, this is totally normal and is to do with their sleep cycles. It doesn't mean that they want to wake up fully after this time as twenty minute cat naps are not great for anyone, especially a baby.

The third sleep in the day is always the first to shorten. This allows babies to have their awake window before the night time sleep. Camille is more of a grazer feeder than Seb and because of this she has settled to do a split feed at this time. So she will often wake somewhere between 4 and 5 and want a small feed, she will then feed again at about 6.30/45 before going to bed. This is a really good example of where knowing and being able to read your child is paramount to a good routine. There isn't a one size fits all routine for babies, or adults for that matter!

I have helped many families establish routines with their babies (both newborns and older) in the past. If you are interested in establishing a routine for your family and want a bit of guidance, do get in touch and we can work out what works best for you!


Thursday 28 April 2016

Baby Number 2

So I have have spent the last few months buried under a pile of never ending washing that newborns seem to bring with them. Which has resulted in very little blogging... prior to that I was in a pit of depression about my SPD/PGP (post on that to come...).

Most importantly, I now have a gorgeous baby girl, Camille. Seb is being a wonderful big brother and absolutely adores her... admittedly she isn't trying to nab his toys yet... so I'm sure we have all that fun to come!

Best big brother

I had an absolutely amazingly perfect home birth. It was everything I hoped for. When I woke in the night for the third time, I realised that the pain I was feeling wasn't just SPD pain but in fact was the start of contractions, I remained calm though inside was bouncing up and down with excitement... my little girl was on her way! I managed, to his delight, not to wake the husband until 4am and that was only to let him know that I was in labour. He went back to sleep for a while after that whilst I listened to my Natal Hypnotherapy in a bid to continue to rest and get myself in the right frame of mind. My midwife arrived in the early morning and Seb woke up. We packaged him off to next door and Mr NQP set the pool up in the living room. At this point the contractions were still all over the place and not particularly strong. I found, unlike my first labour, that I was most comfortable lying down. 

Team work, through the contractions
'Do what your body tells you!' my midwife reminded me. So off we went to bed... I think we watched some friends episodes while everyone left us to stay in the calm. It wasn't long before they ramped up a gear and Friends just wasn't cutting it anymore! My midwife came back and upon seeing a contraction suggested maybe I should get in the pool! 
The pool was absolute bliss, so incredibly relaxing and just so comforting to be in my own home with the people I had chosen around me. As it was a home birth I was able to have loads of people, so as well as my husband and midwife, by the time I was in the pool I also had my mother, mother in law and just in time to see the delivery, my sister in law. Established labour for just three hours and my beautiful vernix covered baby arrived safe and sound. 

Happy, healthy baby girl

I had opted for a physiological third stage, this means no immediate injection of oxytocin to encourage the uterus to contract. I also had wanted delayed cord clamping but as the cord was fairly short and we were in water, after 10 minutes I asked for it to be cut as I was finding it hard to not drop Camille back under the water! A few moments later I had the urge to push, the placenta was delivered and unfortunately it was all downhill from there. I suffered a post partum haemorrhage and lost an estimated litre and a half of blood. However, if anything, this shows how safe home births can be. My dream team were quick to action and I was got carefully out of the pool and laid on the floor. The lovely, doting Grannies took Camille to dry and dress her and I was given synthetic oxytocin to stem the bleeding. An ambulance was called to get me to hospital. By the time the fabulous paramedics arrived, I'm told the bleeding was under control and they calmly took me off to hospital for fluids. I was fairly dozey throughout this, I felt very safe with my dream team, but a little like I was watching from the outside. I think at one point I asked if there was anything I could do, but was told fairly firmly just to lie still!

Once in hospital, I was well looked after by some lovely doctors and midwives, given some fluids and more syntocinon via IV to ensure the bleeding had well and truly stopped and had some clots removed, this was by far the worst part of the whole process and the only thing I needed gas and air for! This whole process, though entirely necessary, was a little gutting as it meant I then had to spend the night in hospital which is what I was desperately trying to avoid! Camille was brought in by my mother in law and sister in law and I had a little cry as I saw her for the first time since the birth a few hours before. We shared lots of hugs and I fed her for the first time. 

First feed and skin to skin
When we were eventually discharged from hospital the next afternoon armed with iron tablets and a promise to take it easy. We took our little Camille home to meet her big brother. The next couple of weeks were pretty tough, she was an absolute trouper but I found my continuing bed boundness (not a word...) extremely frustrating. But with very low iron, I really needed to rest. I was so sick of bed already but this was the only way I was going to get better!

I am incredibly lucky to have an incredibly supportive family, especially my husband. He was an absolute rock during labour, always doing the right thing at the right time and remaining remarkably calm, even at a time that was more than a little scary for him. So a huge thank you to him and all the family for their marvellous love and support.

So here she is at 16 weeks (oh my goodness, where does the time go) and she is an absolute angel. The smiliest girl I know and absolutely perfect (I promise, I'm not biased...) I hope to carry on giving you some insights into parenting, how I see it, my top tips both as a nanny and as a mother and hopefully some giggles along the way.