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7 weeks – Things we love…

We have almost made it through the first two months of life with a baby and a toddler, there have been a few things have been instrumental in maintaining my sanity levels during these past few weeks…

Nipple Shields and bottles – these have been the main reason I’m still able to feed. There is so much advice around that tries to dissuade us from using shields (without them I know I wouldn’t have been able to continue as I would have been upset at my inability to occupy and entertain Ted while I struggled) and from introducing bottles too early but in my experience doing both these things has enabled me to continue feeding Cora. They have meant that from week 2 I have had the chance to get some rest while Daddy takes over a feeding shift or two, leaving me with energy to look after the two little ones all day…all credit to you sole feeders out there, it is such hard work.

Lanolin – the nipple saviour, I need say no more!

Aldi Nappies and Wipes – bargains and never a leak, I can’t recommend them enough and just think about what you can treat yourself to with the savings! I recommend…

Origins Vitazing tinted moisturiser – it’s like a magic wand for my face! That and Laura Mercier Eyebrow Definer eyebrow gel mean I look vaguely human in a couple of minutes and we all know time is of the essence!

Cbeebies – one of my ‘I will never…’ claims I hold my hands up to breaking, Mr Bloom and Bing bunny are my toddler sitters during Cora’s morning feed and I’m not even sorry, sometimes they mean I even get to drink a hot cup of coffee too!

A cosy baby Blanket – once feeding is complete if Cbeebies is still working it’s magic I get Cora all cosy in her lovely soft mokee blanket and sit back for a sofa snuggle with my boy. I love the colours, the peach makes it feminine without it being pink and sickly, something that is often difficult to find for baby girls, it is also lightweight but cosy and is perfect to keep her warm in the car seat too – thank you to Mokee for sending it for Cora.

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Close Caboo – I’m far from a religious sling wearer but I do love the flexibility of choice and some situations are made a lot harder by a buggy, for these times the Close Caboo is perfect, Daddy can join in too!

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Ted hated being in a buggy as soon as he could walk so a double was never going to be a justifiable investment for us however the compact single/scooter/buggy board/sling mix and match seems to be working for us so far!

A biiiig baby bag – I only want to be taking one bag with me so I need it to be big enough to store all the essentials that a mum of two will need…

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I love my Tiba and Marl bag – so much space and a variety of cool designs.

Wellies – regardless of the weather, fresh air and the release of some toddler energy makes everything easier so wellies have been an essential for us both. One day last week we only made it as far as the quiet puddle covered gravel car park at the end of our road but we both got soaked and had lots of fun while Cora slept next to us!

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Coffee/Babychino – if the rain is torrential we have the fall back option of a Babychino date, although an almost two year old that chants Babychino with glee is embarrassingly precocious (and a little bit funny)!

Friends/Playdates – the ultimate sanity saver, friends. It’s great meeting up with those that have their own children so they can all play but equally it’s lovely seeing those without who love to lavish attention on mine and give me the chance to have 1:1 time with either of them or like last week spoil me with the chance to slip away for an indulgent, undisturbed shower and hair wash – now that’s a friend!

Photos – in this sleep deprived haze I have little chance of remembering these times very clearly so I’m loving photos and keepsakes (even more than normal) to jog my memory and to show the children when they’re older. We had a professional at home shoot with Nicola Streader and were so pleased with the natural pictures she captured.

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We have also used Memory Makers to create 3d prints of Cora’s hand and foot, we will be able to collect these in the new year and can’t wait to have them on the wall next to Ted’s.

As Cora’s early days have also coincided with the festive season we visited our local craft centre Poppies and had fun decorating a plate – we will definitely return each year now and build a collection.

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And today we did the obligatory Santa visit complete with real reindeer,  pretty grotto and family shot with the big guy himself. We would highly recommend Stewarts Garden Centre.

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We have a second date with Father Christmas on Christmas Eve, Breakfast with the man himself at Fair Oak Garden Centre.
The garden centres definitely seem to be the places to go for reasonably priced festive fun but booking what seems crazily early is essential, the Christmas Eve sessions sold out within hours of sales opening in September!

Sleep (Inc naptime) – who remembers that? We have been spoilt with a couple of 5 hour stints over the past week and it feels amazing to wake without a headache and stinging eyes, here’s hoping for more! Ted still naps at the moment so most days I get an hour and a half to two hours with just Cora unfortunately for her (and me) this is the time I have to use to run around like a crazy person trying to maintain some sort of order in the house, talking to her and/or bouncing her about as I go!

An awesome husband – credit where it’s due, it wouldn’t be fair to not give my partner in crime, OK less crime or trouble these days and more poo, sleep deprivation and toddler management but my partner none the less and I couldn’t do it without him!

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I’m not sure if things will get easier or just different, either way I think we’re adapting OK and it feels now like our little lady has always been here and we’re enjoying every second.

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Reality check…Breastfeeding is really tough!

Babies are cute and cuddly, they’re adorable and amazing, they’re precious and gorgeous…all of these things are true and I loved my baby boy as soon as I saw his big blue eyes and his long slim fingers wrapped themselves around mine. 

However, babies are also helpless and tiny, sleep stealing and time consuming, confusing and complicated…I thought I knew this and to an extent I did but all the years of working with babies has really done very little to prepare me for being a Mummy myself, I don’t want to use all the cliches but they exist for a reason and it really is ‘different when they’re yours’.

i had my heart set on breastfeeding and I was determined I would feed Ted and I did but in all honesty at the expense of my sanity in the early days, Ted lost too much weight in the first few days, as he was only small anyway the midwives weren’t happy with this and after midnight dashes to the birthing centre for support, lots and lots of tears from both Ted and I (his out of hunger, mine out of tiredness, frustration and an enormous sense of failure) we were advised to supplement him with formula, but not to use a bottle as this may deter him from feeding from me so every time he ate, I would feed him myself for approx 30 -60 minutes and then we’d top him up with 30mls of formula using a cup or syringe, this would normally take another 30 to 40 minutes and then we started the process again, never allowing him to go more than three hours. The frequency of the feeds was tough but I was prepared for that, I knew he’d want to feed lots but the syringe and cup use was sole destroying and made me feel like I was failing every time. When we went to have him weighed on day 5, I felt as though I was entering an exam hall, had I done ‘well enough’? Was he gaining weight? Would he be taken into hospital? 

Things got a little bit easier and with the use of nipple shields I managed to get him feeding solely from me by day ten (I stopped supplementing against advice in the end as the formula was filling him up too much to be ready to eat again after three hours), I had two amazing friends who successfully breastfeed their babies who came and sat with me, advised me and made me feel like just trying as hard as I was, was succeeding in itself and I’m so thankful for them. 

The shields that were the solution at the beginning became the problem at the end, Ted wouldn’t feed without them and that was fine when he was a tiny still baby but my wriggly bigger baby would knock them off, get frustrated at them taking a few extra sucks to start and before long feed times were hours spent with one or other of us crying, I then got mastitis first on one side, then the other so at 10 weeks I decided that our breastfeeding journey was over. I also decided I would feel proud of myself for getting as far as I could but also proud of myself for stopping when was right for me and Ted.

I am now happier, more relaxed and enjoying being a Mummy much more. Ted is a settled, smiley, healthy baby and  I am determined to be grateful for that not berate myself for not achieving the longer breastfeeding journey I hoped for.Image