My year

I truly cannot believe that we’re at the end of 2016. What a year it has been. It’s been an amazing year, even if I feel I have lost half of it in a sleep deprived blur.

I’ve always found myself getting a touch emotional on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know why, except this year I do. It’s been mad, unbelievably rewarding, challenging but full of absolutely wonderful memories and moments watching our little man grow from a 10lb screwed up wrinkly bundle to the happy, smiley and non stop little human that he now is.

Without realising it he has completely changed me. I worry a lot less about trivial things, though I worry about him all the time still. I’ve developed a patience I never thought I would have. I’ve tried to be the best mum that I can, but I still question myself every day and feel guilty on the bad days where I feel I’ve got it completely wrong. Other days, (which is in fairness most of the time, we just still don’t talk about nights!) when he is just an absolute delight to be around and I see how much happiness he brings to other people I am completely floored by how much I love him (and truly can’t believe we made him). He has taken all of my energy, time and focus. I could of been a better friend to many of my pals, and a better wife this year and I feel bad about that, but it’s tough to do everything. That’s something I’m still trying to get my head round and find the right balance. 

I fell in love with our village as soon as we drove up to it to view our house but this year has made me really realise how lucky we are. There’s an amazing network of friendly people in our village, our own fab (small but perfectly formed) toddler group and access to beautiful countryside, which I’ve seen more of, more than once a day usually when I have been manically walking to entertain the little man. I would hate to leave this village, and it’s made us more determined to make the big alterations to our home to make it work better for us for the next few years. Watch this space for more blogs on that subject.

Part of me misses the old me, the social butterfly, always organised, always well presented (ok that last bit is a fib, I’ve never been polished but what I mean is washed hair and a bit of make up and no snot down my front), but what I have in exchange is irreplaceable. The old me is in there somewhere and it’s my New Years resolution to make a little bit of time for her (really not sure how I’ll do that yet) and the other people that I love. 
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(These pictures were taken exactly a year apart today, and yes it is ok now to laugh at how fat my face and hands were, I can now find it funny!)

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The end of the (boob) line

The little man turned 9 months last week. I’m not sure why, but this felt like such a big milestone to me. I think it’s something to do with him being out as long (well almost, if he had of arrived on time) as he was inside cooking.

Over the last month or so he’s really lost interest in milk and basically dropped all of his day time breast feeds. Night time of course was a different matter. I was down to one bf every 24 hours after we got home from holiday and we made the decision that it was the right time for all of us to stop. I’d told myself that the last night feed before he turned 9 months would be the last to make me stick to it. I gave him an extra long cuddle before I put him back down into his cot and silly as it seems had a bit of a cry about it. He’s growing up so fast.

It’s been a roller coaster of a journey. I can just about laugh at those crazy first few (well 6) months now. I’m still not sure how I managed to keep going with it. A friend recently asked me if I would do it again? I didn’t hesitate to say 100% yes. It’s not been easy, especially as he refused the bottle so it meant for the first 6 months feeding was entirely my responsibility. But, as tough as it has been, on the whole, I’ve loved it and I’ll miss it.

So now we’re in a brave new world. One where Mr B can help with the feeding overnight (to be fair he always got up with me when I was bf, although as I keep saying to him it’s not quite the same!) and one where I can have a little bit of freedom (what’s that?!) to go out without having to stress about getting back for a feed. I’m pretty sure my friends will be glad to not have to see my boobs any more and be able to have a conversation with me without a little person hanging off them.

I’m still waiting for my milk to fully dry up, but thankfully it seems to have been pretty easy to stop. My friends are really enjoying the pictures I’m sending them of me with cabbage leaves stuffed down my bra. That really made for a romantic Saturday night in last week. “Seriously, what’s that smell?” Mr B asked, “It’s me darling, you’re going to have to just deal with it”. But they seem to be helping. Stopping has made me a tad emotional, something to do with the change in hormones I guess and it’s made me reflect on a few things as well as wonder where the hell all that time has gone. I swear some days I can’t even remember what happened in the first 4 months of his life. It’ll be two years this weekend since we had our first miscarriage, sitting in A&E that day I never imagined we’d be where we are today. I’m very thankful for what we’ve got, even if he is a little monster at night and hasn’t wanted me to leave his side for the last 9 months. I can’t imagine life without him and I wouldn’t change a thing, well if I’m honest a little more sleep perhaps…. but he’s worth every bag under my eye and stretch mark on my boobs.img_8752

First family holiday

Well, we survived our first family holiday abroad. There were a lot of raised eyebrows and aghast looks when we mentioned to some people that we were planning on taking the little man abroad. Holidays were ‘our thing’ before little B came along, we’ve been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places and wanted to continue to share these experiences as a family.

We knew it would be a very different sort of holiday, and travelling with an 8 month old probably wasn’t going to be a lot of fun. But in the end we were pleasantly surprised. I think having got in the mindset that it would be tough, and not very relaxing meant that we’d set our expectations low!

So off we trotted  blurry eyed on two hours sleep to the airport for an early morning flight to sunny Spain. Two suitcases, a cheap stroller (in case it got mangled on the plane), a car seat (rather than trusting those out there) and hand luggage filled with enough toys and nappies to cater for an entire baby group in tow. We’d booked an early morning (6am) flight thinking (hoping, praying) that he may go back to sleep. Not a chance. The bright lights of the airport and crowds unsurprisingly really woke him up, so we ended up with an overtired baby going out. But it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I expected it to be. I breastfed him on take off and landing and he didn’t have any trouble with his ears, one of the best tips someone told me. He got a bit fed up of our company half way through but a very kind lady helped keep him amused. Our return flight was much better, 11am so about when he was due a nap.

As soon as we landed and picked up our hire car he fell asleep for the next leg of the journey. We’d hired a villa with our own pool in the hills outside of a little town called Competa – one of the best decisions we made. It was so well equipped and set up perfectly for us. I was able to make and freeze him up dinners just like at home. We soon got into a routine and although (no surprise) his sleep at night continued to be challenging (it had been terrible again in the weeks leading up to going away) he did at least nap well during the day. On a few days he napped for two hours straight. Amazing. We had time to relax, drink a beer and read a book. My friend had lent me one of those sun shades / black out covers for the stroller, they are brilliant, a definite must for taking abroad. We spent most days around the pool, our friends joined us for a couple of days which was lovely and we did attempt the beach one day. We ate out a few times, mostly around his dinner times so he could eat with us, which he loved, the Spanish are so family friendly it made it such an enjoyable experience. We also visited the caves in Nerja, which he absolutely loved. It got us out of the heat too, the whole time we were away it was in the 30’s. The villa had an outdoor kitchen with a BBQ and pizza oven, so as soon as he was in bed we got to relax a bit together outside in the evening sun.

I’m so glad we did it, I think the first time you travel abroad is always going to challenging but at least we’ve done it now, we know what to do differently next time and what worked well. Anyone considering whether to do it or not, don’t think about it, just do it. Life’s too short to not give things a go.

Here’s a few things I found really helpful.

  • Microwave steriliser bags, a brilliant invention and save a lot of luggage space.
  • Feed on take off and landing on the plane.
  • Don’t bother taking lots of clothes for baby. We luckily had a washing machine so could wash things through but if he wasn’t in his sun suit he was in the shade in just his nappy. Or naked. He loves to be naked this boy.
  • Don’t take an expensive pushchair. We bought a Chicco stroller for about £60 (which he appears to love) that reclines so he could nap in it, we weren’t worried about it going in the hold then.
  • If you have a sling, take it. They are really useful for when you’ve landed and are waiting for your luggage. We put ours in our hand luggage.dsc_1397
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A wedding with a baby, are we mad?

A week or so back we had our first experience of taking a baby to a wedding. Relaxing it was not, but it was so lovely to have him there with us and for him to be a part of the day. 

It was the son of our close family friends who live in Northumberland so we all travelled up there for the weekend, grumps, grandma and his uncle and auntie. We shared a cottage in the grounds of the venue which was great, it made life so much easier as we could just nip back to change him if needs be.

Dare I say it but the little man’s sleep has finally started to improve and he’s dropped a night feed. This just started to happen before we went up north so we were a bit worried about what it would do to his routine. He decided he needed a 10pm feed again while away but to be honest I think this just because he was in a different environment and hearing different noises that woke him up. Something we’ve found to be a brilliant buy was a travel cot bed mattress topper from kiddicare. It was £20 and makes the travel cot so much softer and it’s light to travel with so doesn’t take up much room. Another tip we discovered was using the sling at the church so when he got a little grizzly we could stand and bounce him around at the back quite easily. Which we had to do, for pretty much the whole service. But we kept him from having a complete meltdown, I’m sure no one else would of noticed but I would of hated to think we’d been a distraction or caused any noise during something so important. The bride and groom were so sweet, leaving a little bag of goodies for him at his place at the table, a hand puppet, puzzle and bubbles which kept him amused for most of the way through the speeches. It was a lovely day, and another weekend spent making memories. 

Weaning fun

Life got a whole lot messier a month or so back when we made the decision to start weaning. I held off for as long as I felt I could (another case of feeling anxious about bloody recommended guidelines). We started off slowly at about five months with a small portion of baby rice around tea time, yes in the hope that it may of helped him sleep- it didn’t (of course) but he quickly showed signs of being ready to move on. We spent a couple of weeks trying different purees of single veg, constantly amusing ourselves with the over exaggerated faces he’d pull when trying a new flavour. We then started to move onto combinations, quite quickly he showed he preferred purees thicker and a little lumpier and by the time we got to six months he was having breakfast, lunch and tea. He’s been having a bit of finger food to play around with too.

He absolutely loves food, which has been a relief after months of bottle refusal and terrible sleeping patterns and this has been such a fun stage. 

I love cooking anyway but being able to cook for him and come up with combinations I think he may like has been a lot of fun. Every time I give him something new to try he pulls a hilarious face as if to say what the hell is this now mummy…

I’ve got a good baby recipe book (Ella’s kitchen first foods) and my friend gave me some Annabel Karmel books which have been useful but I’ve been making things up too. One recipe I came up with is a favourite – butternut squash, rice, cottage cheese and pear, so a baby take on squash risotto with a bit of sweetness. Salmon, broccoli and new potatoes which I mixed with some crème fraîche was also a big hit this week.

I’ve found you really don’t need any fancy equipment for this stage, I’ve just used a colander over a saucepan to steam things and my hand held blender. We moved on to just using a fork to mash things up fairly quickly. Some kit that I have bought which I have found useful though are these weaning trays by OXO. They use the ice cube size portions some of the Ella’s Kitchen recipes recommend and I’ve found them great for batch cooking. Once they are frozen you just pop them out, bag them up and stick them back in. Then you just take out your required portion when needed. Perfect.

Date night

We finally plucked up the courage to leave the little man for a few hours last Friday night. Well I say we – I decided to take Mr B out to celebrate his birthday as a surprise, and I say a few hours but it was actually only 2.5!

It’s amazing how life changes and how used to being three we are. We both said on the drive into Cambridge that it was strange him not being with us. He’s only 19 weeks but we’re now so used to him being part of our family it felt very odd leaving him behind. We used to go out for dinner all the time, we’re big foodies so I thought it would do us good to get out for a bit of a treat. The last time we went out for dinner I was overdue so couldn’t get near the table or fit a lot in!

Mr B declared after two hours and three courses at our favourite Turkish restaurant he was missing his little man so we best get home for cuddles. He’d been as good as gold and hadn’t made a peep for Grandma and Grumps (much to their disappointment I’m sure!). It felt good to get out if only for a short while and have a chance to spend some time together, although I imagine we spent the entire evening talking about Joshua but it did give us a chance to enjoy each other’s company.

Jabs

As I write this it’s 3.45am and I’ve not yet gone to bed so apologies for any mistakes. The little man had his third lot of jabs today, well yesterday. I was already dreading it as after the first lot he had a raging fever bought on from the Meningitis B vaccine and we sat up all night with him whilst he cried in discomfort and feeling like a hot water bottle. After the first one his temperature started to rise 6-7 hours afterwards, but after three doses of calpol it started to come down. Tonight’s been a different story, he had the jabs at 9.30am (this time I took my calpol with me to give to him as soon as the nurse had finished) but he was absolutely fine until about 5pm, it just climbed and climbed after that.

Four doses of calpol later it was still up, spiking at 39.4. A call to 111 and a mad 1am dash to Tesco later we’ve now got some baby nurofen down him (I wish I had known I may need that before hand!) and touch wood it seems to be coming down. We managed to get him into his cot at about 2am, but I’m far too worried to leave his side at the moment.

I’m desperately trying not to be an overly anxious first time mum but it’s so hard. Everything is such a steep learning curve and you feel such an indescribable sense of responsibility for this tiny little person that when something like this happens it’s hard not to panic. I’m so thankful though that he’s received the immunisation, especially with all the media attention around it at the moment, luckily we were better prepared for his reaction this time round. Although I think he seems to suffer with it more than some have it seems? No more jabs until he is a year old though. I sense a lot of caffeine will be required tomorrow.

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