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!)

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

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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What a difference a year makes

Exactly a year ago today we found out we were pregnant (for the third time). I never let myself imagine that we would get to where we are today, I still can’t quite believe it sometimes. Things can change so much in such a short space of time. And life can be so different. Joshua’s now 15 weeks old and we’ve had a fun evening tonight of planning our first family holiday (a week away in May to the Lake District) and planning a Spanish getaway for later in the summer. We’ve booked a lovely cottage in the Lakes for our May break so we’ll be self catering, and taking advantage of their ‘miles with out stiles’ – which has made so many walking routes accessible to people. We’ll still be taking the baby bjorn though for some proper walking and showing him the sorts of holidays we love.

Boob juice

I’ll be honest with you (and no doubt many will be appalled) but before I fell pregnant, actually even through pregnancy, I wasn’t sure I wanted to breastfeed, truth be told the whole idea of it freaked me out. But my mantra in life is that you should always give something a go, so off I totted to the hospitals breastfeeding workshop. I spared my hubby from this one as I honestly thought there’d be no other men on it, how wrong I was. Ten minutes in and we’ve been asked to draw a baby on a piece of paper (mine showed a strong resemblance to a melon, how ironic…) then show the teacher with the piece of paper how we’d feed. I’m still none the wiser as to how that’s meant to help people.

Luckily I have a lot of friends who bf so I’ve seen a lot of baby on boob action so I got off to a reasonably good start with the teacher. Saying that by the end of it I was less than impressed. Their main selling point (which I do now realise is true) was about how it helps you quickly loose the ‘baby weight’. Personally, I felt this was a bit wrong – there’s already so much pressure on young girls to be slim and new mums to ping back into shape (thanks celeb magazines for that one, I swear if I see one more picture of Coleen Rooney in her bikini this week after recently giving birth I’ll scream, and then eat some more chocolate of course), I just didn’t feel that it should be used as a selling tool. It’s personal choice how you want to feed your baby, bf isn’t for everyone, and not everyone finds it that easy to do, even if they want to. What’s important is that whether it’s by boob or bottle your baby is fed, full stop.

I’ve been doing it exclusively for 14 weeks now and I honestly never thought I’d get this far with it. It’s TOUGH, and I mean that sincerely.

What’s kept me going has definitely been seeing how the little man is piling on the pounds and developing into such a little character. I’m not one of these super pro breastfeeding earth mothery sorts who ram it down every other mums throats but it is a lovely feeling knowing that’s all down to me.

There are some funny sides to it though. We can look back and laugh now at my pathetic attempts to express colostrum in hospital, Mr B dutifully stood over me with a teeny 1ml syringe in hand waiting to collect a drop of the stuff. Or the day my milk finally came in, I’ll try and paint the scene…a few days of constantly attaching the little man to my boobs I couldn’t even muster the energy to put them away, Mr B bought Joshua through to me on the sofa where I was drugged up on pain relief in a world of my own and all I hear is ‘oh babe I think your milks come in’ yup, it was dripping everywhere….who said romance is dead.

I followed all the health visitor advice and waited for 6 weeks before trying to introduce a bottle (*inserts some profanities aimed at that piece of advice*) and 8 weeks later we’re still bloody battling without making much progress. Everyone goes on about this magic window for introducing it, but no one told me that point blank refusal could happen. Don’t get me wrong I’m really proud of myself for bf but if I knew he would at least take one it would make my life a little easier as it would mean we could share the odd night time feed when I’m beyond exhausted. Though things are now starting to get easier and he has started to do longer stretches at night between feeds.

So, if anyone’s interested I thought I’d share some things I’ve learnt and I’d pass on to people…
1. Follow your instincts with when is the best time to introduce a bottle if you want to be able to express and have some help.

2. Buy lansinoh lanolin nipple cream and use it after every feed in the first couple of weeks. It’s expensive but I found it was worth every penny and touch wood, I’ve not had any problems.

3. Never quit on a bad day – still the best piece of advice I’ve been given.

4. Invest in decent bras and buy some pretty ones (completely pointless but they’ll make you feel better).

5. Keep your a sense of humour (it’s not glamourous and I’ve lost count of how many people have seen my huge boobs).

6. Enjoy it, it’s hard but it’s so rewarding. Before we know it they’ll be ready for weaning and I already know I’ll miss the lovecuddles we have when its feed time.

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