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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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.