Thursday, 26 February 2015

Five Month Update..

If I had a pound for every time i've uttered the phrase 'Where does the time go?' I'd be reading the time off my platinum rolex, dining on caviar and Cristal, in the comfort of  my New York penthouse apartment. But really, where does the time go? It really does only seem like yesterday that we were driving home from hospital, ten miles per hour, with our new little love bundled up in the back seat. It is as though we blinked and suddenly she was a fully functioning little human, holding her own spoon, giggling at our silly faces and grabbing hold of everything in sight.

As much as I have enjoyed the journey so far, i've found it more challenging than I ever imagined it would be. I'll openly admit that I really struggled during the first few months, particularly when Stuart and my mum went back to work. It was when the visitors stopped calling daily, the congratulations cards had been taken down, the pink flowers withered, that everything seemed a little overwhelming. Of course I loved my daughter unconditionally, but I wasn't sure that I really loved my new lifestyle.
Over time it has got remarkably easier and I can honestly say that I wouldn't change it for anything. Of course there are times I still feel a little overwhelmed, for example: trying to get us washed, dressed, fed and out the door for the doctor's appointment at 9am. Pre baby, I struggled to look after myself!

 On the subject of sleep, we are going through a bit of a sleep regression. A regression, being a polite way of saying we are getting zero sleep. We are learning to cope on a just a few hours and have to constantly remind ourselves that this will not last forever (it wouldn't need to...) Just refrain from telling us how your baby is napping several hours during the day and sleeping the night through, if you're not looking a swift slap to the face. Sleep is a touchy subject in our house at the minute. The only saving grace is that she awakes with a great big smile on her face, and it's impossible to stay annoyed. She is the only person  past or present, that can make me smile at 4am.
However, sleep. I will never take you for granted again.

Eva has started to take an interest in her toys the last couple of months. Anything bright, colourful with various different textures she gravitates towards. I personally favour the toys with rings/clips which can be attached to her pram/car seat and keep her occupied when we're out and about. Eva loves anything with crinkly sounds, lights, or with rattly bits attached. Lamaze, Bright Starts and Blossom Farm from the Early Learning Centre are all brands which we particularly like. They're good quality, wash well and most importantly keep Eva entertained and stimulate her senses. She is all about exploring everything with her hands (and mouth!) these days. I'd highly recommend buying toys for a baby present and will definitely do in the future. Although it's been a while before Eva has had much use out them, they have been great to have and have saved us the expense of having to buy them when money is a little tighter now with the expense of nappies, milk, wipes, food etc..

Lamaze 'My Friend Emily' 

 Beatrix Potter 'Flopsy Bunny'
Mothercare Safari Spiral toy.
Bright Starts Flutter and link.
Vtech Peek A Boo Book 

As much as we trust and generally follow all advice offered by the health visitor, we are also firm believers of following our own instinct when it comes to our baby. We decided to wean Eva a little early than recommended due to a number of personal reasons. Eva has taken to food extremely well, and is enjoying porridge, and mashed down fruits and vegetables. She particularly enjoys a blend of mango,banana and apple and protests if we even as much as take away the spoon to give her more. We didn't really know how to go about weaning her at the beginning, and so we relied on Ella's Kitchen's pouches (which are great) but now we have gained more confidence we have made up our own concoctions, today Eva is dining on a mixture of sweet potato, broccoli and carrot. Our washing machine is working overtime trying to get stains out of her bib, and i've never been more thankful for our wooden floor and easily wiped leather sofa. Feeding time at the zoo is an understatement!

After a slow start we have mastered tummy time, and Eva now loves it! She is showing no interest in wanting to sit up by herself  at the minute, preferring to lay on her front or on her back kicking her legs. She moves herself very quickly!  and nappy changing is becoming almost impossible without inflicting some kind of injury to us, fists in the face, a kick in the ribs. This little human is extremely strong but we are really enjoying watching her move about, and celebrated her rolling over for the first time last week. While she hasn't been able to do it since, she really is trying and we reckon it'll probably be within the next week or so. All the candles along the fireplace will have to go into hiding! 

Eva has been teething for months. No one could have prepared me enough for teething. It is horrendous. The minute it begins,her little fair cheeks go scarlet and she's absolutely miserable. We tried calpol on occasion and Dentinox teething gel which seemed to slide off her gums so we gave Teetha teething granules a go which seem to have worked the best for her. Sophie La Giraffe has also been Eva's best friend through this teething hell. I'm really hoping for her sake that a little tooth/teeth pop up soon, we hate seeing her in so much pain and not being able to do anything about it.

I don't know if it's just me, but everyone seems to be pregnant at the minute. While I am no where near ready for another baby- Give me five years. I have serious pregnancy envy! Although I complained a great deal through my pregnancy about pains, weight gain, zero energy (the list goes on) On reflection I  had such a  good experience and get so excited to see a pregnancy announcement. Where is the old Sarah, and what have you done with her?


Sunday, 22 February 2015

My Must Have Baby Products

We, like most new parents, went a bit over the top when it came to baby shopping, Eva had a wardrobe bigger than ours before she was even thirty weeks cooked. We couldn't leave Babies 'R' us without buying at least something, it's all part of the fun though, isn't it? Tell first time parents they need a particular product, and you can bet they'll buy it.
It was only months after she was born we discovered outfits that had never been worn, now too small. (babies grow at an alarming rate- it often seemed like the baby gro she wore the night before, in the morning was clinging to her) All these accessories we were led to believe that we needed, were left untouched. To this day our gro egg, a room thermometer  has been used twice, (the first time was to check whether or not it worked). We have never used a bath thermometer, or a rear seat mirror, the only thing used out of our £12 Tommee Tippee grooming kit were the nail scissors.

That is not to say if you've bought them to be rushing back for a refund, if i've learnt anything from being a mum, it's what works for one baby, might not for another, it's all trial and error. It only takes one click on to a Netmums forum to see the conflicting opinions on what you do or don't need.
I've compiled a list of items that we personally found to be extremely useful particularly in the first few months, just to give any new mum-to-be some ideas, or even inspiration if you have a baby present to buy. Please note these are just our personal opinions, not gospel!

Plain white vests/baby gros: I was a self confessed snob when it came to shopping for baby clothes. If it didn't have a cute pattern/design, I wasn't for buying it. Plain white or a Cath Kidston print? oh please, there is no competition..
My mum was the voice of reason telling me to stock up on plain white baby gros, and i'm so glad I reluctantly listened to her and did -they're the ones I find myself reaching for the most especially in the first few weeks when I could use up to three in a day.They come in multipacks, won't break the bank and as they're white they sit well underneath any outfit. I've found my M&S and George at Asda ones are fantastic, they're extremely soft and wash really well, our favourites are the sleep suits with feet and built in scratch mittens, they are fuss free and save so much time while changing.

On the topic of clothes, it is often so tempting to choose an item of clothing based on it's design or pattern. A piece of advice I was given, and find hilariously true is, ask yourself this,
"Would I be able to dress a cat in it?"
and if the answer is no, put it back where you found it!. I often wonder have these clothing designers ever had to change babies of their own? awkward buttons at the back, a million poppers to undo during a change? 
ain't nobody got time for thatI want to be able to change my baby so effortlessly and quick that she doesn't even know it's happened, not have her in positions reminiscent of a trapeze artist.

Pram/buggy: Obviously goes without saying as an essential, a must have. Once again it is so tempting to go for the nicest looking one, particularly if it's your first baby, (understandably you want the best, we're all guilty of it), but practicality is really the route to go down.
If you don't drive, it's best to look into one that is lightweight and easy to manoevure, especially if you'll be getting on and off public transport. If you do drive you need to make sure that it will fit into your boot! We had a bit of a scare a few weeks before our due-date when, out of curiosity we built up the pram to discover that it wouldn't fit in our boot. Fortunately it was a simple case of having to turn to the wheels inward, which we only discovered after we'd been browsing around Charles Hurst for a new car, but it was something that had never even entered our heads to check before we bought. Remember, if you're doing a supermarket shop, the groceries will need to fit somewhere in there too!

Bouncer/swing seat/chair: Invest in one of these if you intend on showering or eating dinner ever again. It doesn't have to break the bank. I've seen modern ones online for almost £300 which bounce up and down, sway from side to side with  plug in mp3. I'll admit, it does sound amazing and if I won the Euromillions i'd maybe consider purchasing one. But, I don't buy a ticket, and to be honest, I don't think I'd get the use out of it. We bought a light weight bouncer chair (similar to the one above.) which I could carry up and down the stairs with me depending on where i'd be in the house. It was a life saver the first few months. Ours had a vibration option which we used to ease her to sleep, but i'm not even sure it made much of a difference, we didn't get around to changing the batteries (what with the one hundred and one other things to do) and it never seemed to bother her! it's a nice option to have but if it's not in your budget then I wouldn't worry! Another little tip is that if you're perhaps planning on having more babies in the future, opt for a neutral colour so you can use it again in the future whether you're having a boy or girl.

Perfect prep machine: This is in no way an essential, but a piece of equipment that is extremely useful if it's in your budget. We  were lucky enough to be  bought our prep machine from a relative as a baby present and it was (and still is) a lifesaver. Basically the machine prepares your bottles for you in the space of two minutes to the accurate temperature. A hot shot of water kills any bacteria in the milk and the machine measures out accurately the amount of water needed. All thats required of you is to scoop the formula in and you can get back to tending to your little one. Fool proof!
 Older relatives have laughed when we've talked about it
"What a waste of money, sure we didn't have them and we did fine without!"
Fair point, but it makes the job a whole lot easier, no bleary eyed bottle making in the dead of night, trying to perfect the temperature while your baby is screaming the house down. If it makes our lives a little easier, i'm all for it. The only drawback is it has completely spoiled us, now we're up to 7oz bottles, two minutes seems like a lifetime now we've got used to it, cue the
"Kids these days, eh? don't know how lucky they've got it, back in my day......."

Learn how to use your gadgets: If I could turn back time I would have spent less time watching Real Housewives Of New Jersey on my maternity leave, and more time learning how to use our baby equipment. I was so naive to think I could learn on the job,

practise really does make perfect .
There was the perfect prep machine, the steriliser, dismantling/putting up the pram, putting in the car seat. I cried several times about not being able to do what were really simple tasks.
(I wept in Tescos car park when I couldn't put down the pram by myself) The first few weeks you're on a hormonal rollercoaster, you're sleep deprived, and trying to get everything so right, and feeling like a failure when you don't. The last thing you need is to be juggling a baby in one arm and a half dismantled pram in the other. Again, something I hadn't thought too much about pre-baby.

Blankets: You can never have too many, especially since you always need backups as they're constantly being thrown in the wash! Eva was given a beautiful fleecy blanket as a present which came from Laura Ashley Kids and has used it every day since she got it. It's ridiculously soft and is used so much, her Nana bought her one to keep at her house. It's been used in her pram, on the floor as a mat, in her cot.. it's so versatile. Tkmaxx is also a fantastic place to find beautiful baby blankets.

Storage boxes: Have made our lives so much easier. A tip a friend told me while I was pregnant, was to keep nappy changing supplies in several rooms in the house so it saves you carrying everything from one room to another. Again, anything to make life a little easier! I have nappy supplies in our living room, in our bedroom and in Eva's. We bought these very affordable storage boxes in Ikea and have done the job at keeping all her bits and pieces tidy and organised, we also have a few in the bathroom for toys and bath products.

Other baby items/products we've found helpful are:

Infant Calpol- I know you can't use calpol until baby is 2+ months old, but worth having on standby for teething/after injections/temperatures. It'll save you a late night Tescos run and you'll be glad you bought it while you had a bit of extra cash, once baby is here, any expense saved is welcome.
Dummies/soothers- I was one of those smug pregnant women who claimed their baby would never use a dummy. The first night in hospital Eva squealed and squealed. Stuart made a dash to the local Asda and came back with a dummy and it really soothed her. Your baby may be perfectly fine without one, but good to have in case!
Baby Monitor- We have a standard Tommee Tippee one and it does exactly what we need it to do. I can see the attraction of the video/sensor ones for peace of mind, but we check up on Eva  very regularly while she's sleeping and when she cries, it doesn't matter where she is in the house, we can hear her!
Moses Basket/Bassinet: If you can borrow one/get it second hand even better. Babies grow out of them so quickly it seems a shame to spend the extortionate prices they can charge for them. Just make sure you buy a brand new mattress for it.

Changing bag
Muslin squares/bibs
Nappy Bags
Cotton wool pads/balls (cleaning babies eyes/face, and body in the early days)
Changing mat
A baby bath (optional)
Bath seat/foam support - if you decide against a baby bath.
Activity mat-
Nursing/feeding pillow- Not essential but handy to have and prevents you from straining your neck.
Nappies/wipes- Just a few packets to begin with, just in case your baby's skin is sensitive to a particular brand.
Bottle warmer- Not needed if you have a Perfect Prep machine.
Scratch mittens

...... and that's just for the first few months,( surprise new parents, get saving!) I intend to do another buying guide for 3+ months soon, but I reckon this one is enough for the moment, it was even overwhelming compiling the list!

Isn't it just as well they are worth every bit of the expense?!


Monday, 16 February 2015

The Moment I realised I was A Mum

The minute our midwife, Andrea left the room. It was well after 4am, i'd laboured for the best part of 24 hours, I hadn't slept the last three months of my pregnancy. I'd just pushed a baby out and thrown up my recovery tea and toast all over myself and suddenly, I was someone's mum. I only just learnt how to use a tin opener, I'm scared of the dark.. and now i'm somebody's mum?! isn't there some kind of  practical exam I should have taken? A written test? what's happening here?  Andrea........... come back?!

I was out for drinks with a friend and went to the bathroom to touch up my makeup. Instead of pulling out my Bare mineral's lipstick, I pulled out some Dentinox teething gel, and a bib (and not a clean one). My handbag has gradually turned into a second changing bag leaving just enough space for a tangle teezer/small makeup bag for my own purposes.

Having an audience 24/7- In the shower, getting dressed, sitting on the toilet. There is something so cringe worthy about Eva giving me a big gummy smile as she watches me shower. Sometimes she'll give me a  look, almost like she's judging me . Major paranoia.

Injections- "It's worse for the mummy!"  they tell you.
It sure as hell is. The first injection I swanned in quite confident I could hold it together. I had this.
To be quite honest I have a big needle phobia and was more concerned that little E would attempt to wriggle free leaving me with a puncture wound in the thigh.
There was no time for worrying about myself, the minute she felt the injection pierce her skin her bottom lip quivered, she wailed.
I got choked up, trying so hard to hold back tears. I've seen her cry plenty of times before, but this was different, she gave me a look that screamed out why did you let this happen to me, mummy??.
 In that moment there is absolutely nothing I wouldn't have done to take the pain away. Of course within an hour she'd forgot all about it, whereas I was still getting teary recalling the story to her Daddy later than night.

Someone throwing up on you perfectly sober:  I've tackled sick in my hair, my hands sticky with  the delightful combination of regurgitated carrot and salivia... and I don't even flinch.  It's so true, anything goes when it's your own child. Nothing a baby wipe can't fix. No use crying over spilt milk and all that.

A night out is a rarity, so a big deal is made. Fake tanning the night before, nails painted, eyelashes. I think I actually like the whole process of getting ready more than I like going out. It's so much better in theory.
In reality your feet aren't used to walking in heels anymore, one pre drink and you're hobbling about like Bambi, alcohol now puts to sleep and you look around you at the sea of singletons out to impress when all you secretly want to do is get home into your pjammas and get involved in a family size bag of Sweet Chilli Sensations. We went out for Valentines and as it was a Saturday night we walked into a bar and couldn't get a seat, a few years ago I would have happily stood. Now i'm all about comfort, why would I want to go to a bar to stand? stand?! I'm paying nearly £7 for this cocktail, I at least expect a seat with it.

My daughter: Even five months on I still find it extremely surreal calling the doctor to book an appointment for my daughter.

My daughter
sometimes I can barely believe the words are leaving my mouth.

This Morning: I once considered it 'off sick tv'. I would never willingly watch it,  it was simply just background noise as I curled up on the sofa clutching a hot water bottle awaiting a plate of sandwiches from my mum. (Those were the days) . Now, it's a routine, 10.30am and you bet it'll be on . The majority of my evening conversations with my partner begin with "There was this woman on this morning who....."  The poor man. It's a load of tripe, interviews of  a woman selling tickets to the birth of their child, people who claim they're too fat to work, a woman with a fear of snowmen. All excellent viewing.

Becoming a Philosopher: Since becoming a mum it has made me think about everything under the sun from my health, career, savings, the world in general. I hear stories on the news and it literally terrifies me that one day she will want to fly the nest and go it alone in the big, bad world.  If it were socially acceptable to get her chipped, I probably would. (I'm joking..... I think..)
I never thought i'd be thinking these things at twenty three, but I want nothing more than for Eva to have a comfortable, happy, life. I want her to always feel safe and never feel that she's alone . If I can do anything to make her life a little bit easier, I want to do it.

 I don't want to write myself off as being completely mumsy these days. Although my life has changed drastically in the last year I still like doing the same things I always have done. I still like going to gigs, going for cocktails, finding new restaurants, watching absolute trash (I'm talking about you Real Housewives Of Cheshire)  I'm still only twenty three. I may spend my afternoons with Mr Maker and prancing about the living room singing about the Jingly Jangly jungle... but in the evenings and little one is in bed, I have a little bit of freedom to do what I want, even if it just being sprawled out on the sofa scrolling through Instagram admiring everyone else's dinner.

I'm so happy to have the opportunity to experience being a mum, it's an absolute blessing, one that not everybody gets the chance to experience.
Had I thought about it beforehand, I might not have ever got around to it, I don't think I would have ever felt I was ready, financially, emotionally or even physically! but

 “Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.”

and i'm so excited to be on this journey. 


Saturday, 7 February 2015

30 Things I want my Daughter to know

1 Wash your face morning and night. Foundation is a real bitch to get off pillows.
2 Read, I don't care if you've got your head stuck in Jane Eyre or Cosmopolitan, just read!
The grass isn't always greener on the other side, even if it looks that way on instagram. People choose what they want others to see.
4 Tattoos are permanent-  just look at your dads.
5 Get your Maths. Please, please, please.You probably won't ever have to know how many angles a rhombus has or how many fractions of pizza Jimmy ate, but employers want you to have it.
6 Guys have meaningless fun with easy girls, they don't marry these kinds.
7 If you are going through tough times in your life, chances are I have been there too, talk to me.
8 You will kiss a good few frogs before you meet your prince.
9 And when you think you've met him,let me suss him out before your dad does. I'll help prepare him, mentally and physically.
10 Visit your grandparents, not just at Christmas. (although I don't think they'll give you much choice in the matter.)
11 Phone me up to collect you no matter how drunk you are, no matter what time it is, as long as you're home safe. (That doesn't mean I won't kick your ass 'round the living room in the morning though.)
12. Double denim is a no go. Ever, Even if Vogue is all over it, Steer clear.
13 Most bad days can be turned around with a long bath, candles and chocolate.
14 What you think of yourself is far more important than what people think of you.
15 Stay away from cheap wine, for £3.99 you may think you're getting a good deal, but you will have the mother of all hangovers the next day, not even Lucozade will be able to help you.
16 Enjoy every minute of your youth, don't be in a rush to grow up. One day you'll wake up with two kids, a mortgage and bills to pay. Enjoy every second of having no real responsibilities.
17 There are much worse things in life than carbs, stop pushing salad around your plate and eat the pizza.
18.An ugly truth is always better than a pretty lie.
19. Take an interest in whats happening in the world, not only will it widen your knowledge, but it helps if you're ever stuck for conversation.
20. Invest in good pair of tweezers.
21. If you ever feel you've hit rock bottom, think of it this way, you can only go up from here.
22. But know that you will have bad days and they will always pass, having a few bad days here and there doesn't mean you have a bad life.
23. Keep smiling. You have the most beautiful of smiles (..not that i'm ridiculously biased or anything..)
24. Material goods do not equal happiness but if you're having a bad day, treat yourself to something nice, it doesn't have to break the bank, even a slice of red velvet cake can do the trick.
25.If you help it, try not to buy now, pay later on anything.
26. Quality is better than quantity. Three close friends are far better than fifteen fake ones, christmas will be cheaper too.
27. Travel. And I mean further than Magaluf.
28. And if you do choose to go to Magaluf, know that the only person you'll be sharing an apartment with is your father.
29. Never let people make you feel inferior. We all wake up with morning breath and bedhead hair.
30. When you think i'm the worst/annoying/frustrating/unfair person to ever grace the planet, remember that I love you more than you'll ever know.


Monday, 2 February 2015

A man's Guide to Pregnancy & Birth

It was about time I introduced' my other half' to my blog.I recruited Stuart to answer some pretty basic questions about his experience of pregnancy and birth. The man talks a mile a minute and was utterly disgusted that I have condensed his answers down, but in all honestly it would have taken me the best part of a week to type up. I've edited and cleaned it up a bit (asking a man about the ins and outs of pregnancy, you're guaranteed crude replies.) So here it is, Stuarts own experience..

How did you feel when I told you I was pregnant?
I  had the biggest smile on my face. I wanted to start telling everyone, but knew I couldn't as it was early, early days.

What do you feel was the biggest change?
We liked to go out a lot before,we were both working conflicting shifts so when we were off together we would go for dinner and drinks and think nothing of coming home and splitting a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Later on in the pregnancy it was the lack of sleep. Although, on reflection I was getting far better sleep back then.
You got so uncomfortable so easily, took up half the bed and wouldn't come near me as you said I 'radiated too much heat' sometimes using your pregnancy pillow as a barrier from me. (Money well spent)
You also peed a lot, and woke me up every time you got up. Literally by the time you had got back into bed, you'd be up again.

Did you have any fears?
I became a bit of paranoid wreck. I always worried about you falling, you're the clumsiest person I know. (Don't hold back there, Stu....)
I hated you running up and down the stairs and kept thinking this idiots going to have an accident soon. (and rightly so, I did.) From early on I was constantly worried about the two of you and just wanted everything to be ok.

How did you find my hormones?
I felt I had to tread on egg shells as you could be extremely sensitive at times. I was on my best behaviour!

What did you think of my body changing?
It really didn't bother me, apart from the fact you took up most of the bed. I gained more weight than you though! You gained two stone with a baby and I gained two and a half without!

What were your highlights?
The cravings. I just rolled with the punches. I never complained about you wanting a takeaway, it was always what do you want and where do you want it from?
The naps, oh the naps. You were always so tired and I took advantage of it too. There was times we'd just go to bed after dinner and that would be us until the next day.
Obviously the scans were a highlight, especially the 20 week scan. It filled me with both love and fear.

How did you feel when we were told we were going to have a daughter?
I was delighted, though it made me instantly think of eighteen years down the line and my protective nature immediately kicked in.

[In reality,Stuart's answer was too explicit to repeat. Let's just say our poor daughter will be eternally single, and lucky if she gets to venture out of the house alone]

How did you feel when you got the call telling you that I was in labour?
I was at work at the time, you were a week overdue and so I was on standby anyway. The minute my phone rang I kind of just knew. The guy who I worked with told me to go on home. The journey down the motorway was over in a flash - I made it home from Belfast quicker than you made it home from Lisburn health centre!

How did you find the labour/birth experience?
It was very surreal. One day we were Stuart and Sarah, then the next day we had an addition.
Before I could have spent four hours in the bathroom if I wanted (errrrr, lovely, Stu.) but now there was a little baby who depended on me and needed my time.
I was surprised that it all just came naturally, like it was second nature. It was only looking back I think 'how did I know how to do that?!'
The love I felt when I seen Eva for the first time is indescribable, it was a different kind of love than I'd ever felt before. I've never known love like it. She's a little legend.

Any advice to other future dads?
Whatever she wants, no matter how mental she is, grin and bear it.
Make her laugh and keep her calm.
Let petty issues go, just let them go, let her win. At the end of the day there will only be one loser. you as you'll have to listen to a hormonal woman giving off.

If we were to go through it all again would you change anything?
I'd pack a hospital bag of snacks and a portable dvd player.
Slippers too.

© A New Mum Without A Manual

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