0

My second baby girl is here! {Part 2 – Learning to be a family of four}

Well helloooooo!!!!  I’m back!!!  As you can probably tell by the frequency of my blogs lately – life has been B-U-S-Y!  The last time I blogged I was sharing my birth story…and here we are 6 months later.  Olive is turning 7 months soon and Grace turned 2 not too long ago – times waits for nobody!

So much has happened in the last few months, I don’t even know where to begin!

The babies on the bus go “wah wah wah” all day long…

Looking back I have to tell you that the first 3 months were pure survival for me!  It was a relentless time of juggling two very dependant little ones and not really having any time to recuperate and rest.  Those of you that are without children at the moment may find it hard to relate.  Want a taster?  No?  Oh well, here’s one anyway…this could be your life if you ever decide to have two under two’s!


Although the days have no beginning or end, let’s just start at 5am…

5am : Olive has just unlatched for the 100th time and is already snoring away in blissful harmony with her dad making it very hard for me to fall asleep!  This child is seriously noisy, if she’s not snoring, she’s making sounds come out her rear-end, inviting with it a smell so deadly and poisonous, it’s a wonder I’m still alive to tell the tale!

Between 6-6:30am : “Mummayyyy….mummayyyyyy….MUMMAYYY!!!!!”  Grace is awake.  She has ever so kindly decided that she would now like to be up earlier than normal so that we can spend more time together.  So thoughtful.  So precious.  I am beyond thrilled and run into her room as fast as I can, so that her melodic yelling doesn’t wake my sleeping chainsaw-mimicking baby!  Grace greets me with a huge smile….all is forgiven.

7am : While I am in mid-nappy change, Olive wakes up for her next feed…screaming!  Of course, this is a signal for Grace to drag out her time with mummy.  Cue nappies being thrown, legs kicking and a tantrum because I failed to sing Twinkle Twinkle during the nappy change.  I am a flustered mess, while I manically heat up some milk for Grace to drink, so I can feed and change Olive.

7:15am : Grace, ever the helpful one, has downed her milk in 20-seconds and is now trying to climb onto my lap while I feed Olive!  I encourage her to grab her  “fun-things-while-mummy-is-nursing-Olive” backpack.  I have just bought myself an extra 2 minutes without any further physical onslaught #winning

8am : Time to sort out breakfast.  Grace is very good at feeding herself and cracks on with her breakfast while I attempt to put Olive down for a nap in her moses basket.  It looks promising, Olive has her eyes closed…”MUMMAYYYYY moorreee!!!” Olive’s eyes fly open quicker than the speed of light…thanks for that Grace!  Plan B it is – cuddle a grumpy, tired baby, while Grace finishes breakfast.  Cleaning Grace’s teeth turns into a gymnastic debacle, with only one hand to spare, and a very unhelpful toddler!  Grace gives Olive a big cuddle….all is well with my soul.

8:30am : Olive finally drifts off to sleep.  It’s now or NEVER!  Grace knows the drill…no time is wasted, if we don’t get into the shower this very second we will NEVER shower again!! A tad dramatic perhaps but that’s how it feels…the pressure is immense!  Just as I step into the shower with Grace, I remember I left the baby monitor in the lounge! Out I get, drenched and freezing, grabbing the monitor.  Back in the shower, I still check a million times that the monitor is turned on as I can’t hear anything, and just for good measure turn off the shower every couple of minutes too in case the baby monitor has suddenly decided to give up.  I blame my post-baby hormonal imbalance for this irrational behaviour.  Before I even have time to worry about my mental wellbeing, Olive wakes up just as we get out of the shower – we get dressed in 3 seconds.

The rest of the morning is a blur and involves lots of wishing there was two of me as both girls want my 100% attention!  Anytime Grace and I leave the room, Olive cries as she wants to be involved in everything…and every time I cuddle Olive, who unlike a normal newborn seems to dislike naps and just wants to be held instead, Grace needs me to help her get down from the window frame (judge not!), or pull her out of Olive’s swing, or prevent her from climbing into the moses basket.  Again.

At some point around lunchtime, I am reminded that I haven’t had breakfast yet when my hands are too shaky to pour more coffee into my mug. Who knew crackers were so filling?

It’s a wonder my brain hasn’t blocked out my memories of taking two little ones down 5 flights of stairs!  It required me to be able to bend back far enough so that Olive could rest against me and wouldn’t be able to flop her head back, while also leaning sideways so that I could hold Grace’s hand, all with a hefty nappy bag under one arm.  Let’s just say, we spent A LOT of time at home until Olive was easier to hold in one arm!

5:45pm : Dinner time is usually the toughest, especially as my husband isn’t around due to work.  Guaranteed, Olive will be screaming after a day of not enough naps, and Grace will be hanging off my legs while I try to cook.  Any time I grate carrots, Grace dances along to the rhythm.  I decide we are eating carrot salad for dinner, just to be entertained by Grace’s swaying!

6:30pm : After dinner I try and bath Olive, while Grace watches TV.  It always ends up with Grace desperately trying to take her clothes off so she could join Olive, and Olive looking horrified as she just wanted a few minutes of peace!  Haha!  I explain to Olive, yet again, she is a second child, she will never know peace…🤪

7pm : My husband and I wanted to get Olive used to a 7pm bedtime as soon as possible, so both girls go down at the same-ish time.  While I put one child down, the other one is waiting for me, crying.  There really is always one child crying!  I wonder how our neighbours cope!


For a good few weeks, Olive would fuss from 7pm until 10pm, and would not be put down.  She wouldn’t even be happy with a cuddle on the sofa – you HAD to walk around the room with her otherwise there would be complaining!  She knew the minute you tried to sit down or lean on the arm of the sofa…yes, aren’t these sensitive babies the best?!  Both girls were pretty sensitive babies…I always say, they will be very compassionate one day as they feel so much!  Thankfully Olive was nowhere near Grace’s level of crying, and once things settled down a bit a few weeks later, from 7pm, Olive woke every 2 hours for the first 8 weeks.  The gap gradually got longer and now I only feed her at 11pm and then around 5/6am before she wakes up at 7am.   I can live with that.

Those evenings of crying, and interrupted nights were TOUGH!  But they don’t last forever! Sometimes I miss those special times, just me and Olive awake in the middle of the night – her, so completely vulnerable and dependant on me, and me, so moved by her absolute confidence that I will be there for her whenever she needs me, no matter what time. She stole my heart in those early hours of the morning, while the rest of the world slept. 

…couldn’t put Humpty together again

Recovering from pregnancy and birth the second time round was so much harder in my experience.  The hardest, most challenging part was my energy levels, or lack of, and my joints!  I definitely got a glimpse into my future as an 80-year old!  I was so utterly shattered ALL THE TIME.  Where I would get times to rest up when it was just Grace, this time around, there really was no rest for the first 3 months.  It was non-stop.  My joints were so achey when I woke up in the mornings I had to literally uncurl my fingers very slowly, one at a time, as they were so painful.  My back was constantly hurting, and I had to be extremely careful picking things up (including Grace and Olive) as it felt like something would come out of alignment otherwise!  It got worse, and peaked at around 6 months post partum, before it got better. Now, other than my back, I am feeling stronger, hooray! Apparently it’s a thing…I had never heard of it before!  Anyone else experience this?

If you’re happy and you know it….

Now for some positives – and there are SOOOOOOOO many!!!  Unlike with Grace, this time was completely different – I truly enjoyed Olive from the start and didn’t have that feeling of dread and hopelessness.  (I had PND with Grace – I might tackle this issues in one of my blogs some time) I felt so overjoyed and happy, and just seeing Grace and Olive together, it made me feel like the luckiest woman alive!  I felt like I finally managed to embrace my role as a mother, and stopped feeling like I should be doing more.  Being a mother was all I needed to be, and it made me relax so much more.  And yes, we lived in pj’s more than in normal clothes, and Grace watched more TV than I would have liked, and we didn’t get as much fresh air as we probably should have, and the house was a complete mess, and sometimes dinner was weatabix…but so what?!  Nobody got hurt and I enjoyed those precious times, learning to become a family of four.  I truly savoured those times when we had nowhere to be, and we could just be together.  It was exhaustingly beautiful!  And it goes by so, so fast…

Twinkle, twinkle little star how I wonder who you are…

Some of you may remember, Olive didn’t actually have a name for the first 2 weeks!  We were undecided between two names, one my choice, one my husband’s choice – and neither of us really wanted to compromise!  Two weeks later, when we were sure Grace thought baby’s name was “sweetheart” we finally managed to decide.  My husband’s choice won!  Actually, we both really, really loved the name, but I just couldn’t get this other name out of my head.  We shall save it….juuuuuust in case, haha…but Olive is definitely the perfect name for our second princess.  It makes for so many nick names!  I am sure she will be just thrilled about that when she’s older…

You are my sunshine, my one-out-of-two sunshines

If anyone else is thinking about having another child, or you’re expecting your second, I can confidently reassure you that you will have abundantly enough love for both your children!  There is never, ever even a worry in my mind that I don’t love one child as much as the other.  Yes, sometimes I worry that my girls don’t know just how much  I love them just because I can’t give them 100% of my attention, but I hope they know through my actions and numerous cuddle-attacks!  I did have to stop calling Grace my favourite girl, and now she’s my favourite big girl, while Olive is my favourite little girl!

Having one child has been the most incredible journey, and having two has made the journey even more fun and adventurous!  Watching your children love each other and care for each other makes you want to sob with happiness!!!  Even if you are not the sobbing type!

What are the girls up to these days?

Olive is busy learning to crawl….she is getting so close, but now instead of going forwards, she is trying to go upwards and she goes into a downard dog position!  It’s hilarious!

She is a slow weaner and still refuses to swallow food!  Whether it be yoghurt, or a banana…she has even started spitting out water!  She just likes to do things her way…!

After the first 3 months, she really settled down, and now she is the most easy-going, happy baby.  She smiles at everyone and loves cuddles – she’s our very own koala!

Grace is learning so much every day.  The most fascinating thing to watch is when she tries to put together sentences.  You can almost “see” her work it out.

Her favourite thing at the moment is shouting, “I did it” after doing something on her own, which is followed by a crazy dance around the room and a loud “hooray!!” in true Dora the Explorer fashion (her absolute favourite show).

Grace has definitely embraced her 1/4 German side…she likes to tell me when things need tidying, “messy mummy” and she likes routine and knowing what the plan is for the day!

Whereas Olive is taking after her laid back daddy, Grace takes after me especially in taking her time to open up to people.  She likes to observe first, and you have to work a little bit to win her over! 😉

This blog is getting long! I should probably let you go now but not before sharing this shocker, I can’t believe I never realised this before…did you know that “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and “ABC (The alphabet song)” share the same tune? #boom #mindblown

See you soon!

4

My second baby girl is here! {Part 1 – The birth story}

Hey everyone!

It’s been 6-ish weeks and I am slowly coming out of the fog…boy has it been hectic, and amazing, and emotional, and amazing, and hormonal and AMAZING!  We are so in love with our latest addition and would like to officially introduce you to Olive! (Not her actual name)

For all you hard-core readers, as promised and without further a-do, here’s my birth story!

[WARNING: If you haven’t already realised, I like to be very honest and open in my blogs.  I will spare no details in this story, so if you are easily grossed out, or you don’t like the words dilation, poo, vomit…you should skip this entry and wait for my next blog!]

Right from the get go, I was dreading labour, much more than I was the first time round.  The thought of it would almost give me panic attacks!  I couldn’t talk about it, and I forced myself not to think about it.  I guess it was the fact that this time I knew what was coming, and I wasn’t naive and unaware anymore.  As far as labours go, my first was pretty good, but it was still such a traumatic experience that I was petrified of doing it again.  As the days were drawing nearer and nearer, I was getting more and more anxious.  I feared my due date, and was actually relived when I didn’t go into labour then.  My only hope was that, when it did all start, adrenaline would take over and I would be able to stay strong and manage.  And so it was.  And it turned out to be so much better than anticipated…like a hundred times better!

I was three days over-due.  It was the only snowy day of the year (so far, apparently it’s going to snow again at some point soon!), and my husband and Grace were playing outside whilst I took a massively long nap.  All I did in those last few days was sleep whenever possible.  That afternoon, at 3pm, I was sitting with Grace on the couch, and she was flicking through this booklet I got given all about labour and pain relief, Grace’s reading taste is very advanced for her age!  Haha!  I was telling her all about how there’s a baby in mummy’s tummy and she will meet her soon, and she was pointing to a photo of a pregnant lady when all of a sudden I heard two “pops”.  I shifted slightly, and realised that it was as I’d guessed – my water had broken!  I ran to the bathroom, leaving a very shocked looking toddler in the lounge, pounding on the door and shouting for my husband to evacuate the bathroom! His face matched Grace’s face and both of them stared at me with their mouths wide open!

Once your water breaks, it can still take hours and hours for anything to happen.  However, with Grace things progressed fairly quickly, so I was expecting contractions to happen fairly soon this time around too.  Within an hour, they were coming regularly, around 10 minutes apart.  My husband dropped Grace round to his parent’s so that I could get into the zone and wouldn’t have to worry about Grace seeing me in pain.  After my last labour, I realised that the key to staying in control and staying strong was to “get into the zone” and focus on my breathing, making every effort to relax.  I dimmed the lights in our lounge, put on some music and candles, and started walking round and round.  I didn’t want the contractions to stop, and knew that by staying as active as possible things would move along more swiftly.  All my fear had gone, and I felt such calm and peace.

With each contraction I visualised the contraction peaking and then easing off again, and it helped tremendously.  I was feeling so great, I even called my sister to tell her that I was enjoying it!  It just felt great to really feel in control this time.  We decided to call the hospital at 5pm and they told us to go in at 6pm if the contractions continued.  We wanted to wait as long as possible before going in, but they advised us not to wait longer than 6pm as it was my second labour, and they are usually much quicker.  My husband went to pick up Grace, and his mum who was going to be staying with Grace until we were back.  My contractions were now every 3/4 minutes and getting quite strong.  My husband had run me a bath, so I got in and it really eased the tension in my back.  Then, I got one big contraction, and there was so much pressure down below I was scared this baby would be born in the bath!  I jumped out of the bath hoping it would somehow slow things down.  My husband got back not long after, and I told him we had to leave for the hospital as soon as possible.  For those of you that know him, he is very laid back, and “as soon as possible” to him meant enough time to have some dinner first!!!!  I was too focused to say anything to him, and carried on pacing around as he was savouring his dinner, and his mum was feeding Grace hers!  (To be fair, he scoffed his dinner down pretty fast! I guess you have to be prepared for labour to take a long time, and he wasn’t going to face it hungry! 😅 Thankfully the meal didn’t have garlic in it this time!)  [Read my last birth story here if you missed it – My baby girl is here! {Part 1 – The birth story}]

We finally got to the hospital at 6.30pm.  Unlike with the first birth, they took us seriously, and we were given a bed in the maternity unit straight away.  I really wanted a water birth and was super thrilled when they said that it was available and they were just cleaning it.  While we waited, we put on some music, and I carried on breathing through the ever increasing-in-pain-and-length contractions.  By the time they examined me, I was only 3cm dilated.  With my first labour, however, I progressed very fast and so I wasn’t as disappointed as last time!  About half an hour after the examination my contractions started to get very painful and strong, to the point where I needed pain killers.  Last time, I threw up as soon as I took some codeine, so this time I was prepared and rammed down two snack-size snickers before taking it!  Another half an hour later, I was asking for gas and air as the pain was almost unbearable.  The midwife told me the birthing pool was just filling up, and wanted me to wait until I got in before starting on the gas and air.  I complied, but five minutes later, I knew I couldn’t wait much longer.  I started on the gas and air and although it hadn’t taken effect, just chewing on the mouth piece during contractions seemed to help a bit!  Just as the midwife came back into the room to tell me the pool was ready, I had a massive contraction and (yes, I told you I wouldn’t hold back on the details) I am mortified to admit that I had a bit of a bowl evacuation (cringe, cringe, cringe!!!!).  The midwife was incredible.  She didn’t even bat an eyelid, and just matter-of-factly said that it was a great sign as it meant the baby was coming.  As she took off my knickers and cleaned my bum (eeeekkk!!!!), she said that she at least hoped I would have enough time to give birth in the pool!  I hadn’t realised that I was so far along already, it all happened so quickly!

We headed to the room with the birthing pool, and I almost walked out naked!  I could not have cared less!  All I wanted was to get into that pool!  Luckily, I heeded the midwives advice and was half covered in a sheet, as a huge group of people walked past me.  They were all trying to be polite and not stare, oh but stare at me they did! 😳 I must have looked a state as I marched past them with such sheer determination and desperation!  As soon as I got into the pool I felt so much more relaxed.  My back was in excruciating pain with each contraction, but the warm water really helped.  Suddenly I started feeling a lot of pressure down below and the midwife told me to start pushing if I felt ready.  As I started pushing, I am horrified to admit that the bowl evacuation resumed (*hangs head in shame*) and there’s more…I started violently vomiting!  So not only was the poor student midwife fishing out poop with a sieve, she’s also trying to scoop out bits of snickers!!!!!!!!  The midwife made a joke about it at least smelling of chocolate (she was a saint!).  My husband kept telling me to keep my head above water, he was looking pretty disgusted, bless him, but I could not have cared less and told him so a few times!  The gas and air finally kicked in, just as the head was crowning, and within two pushes, baby was born.  During the whole process, the midwife never laid a hand on me and when Olive was born, she simply pushed her forward between my legs (I was kneeling against the side of the pool), and I got to scoop her up out of the water.  The first thing I did was yell at my husband to “take photos!!” Not even 30 seconds gone by since birthing Olive, but ever the photographer, I needed some photographic memories!

That moment, when it’s over and you get to hold your baby, is one you never forget.  The immense relief is indescribable.  I couldn’t stop telling my husband how relived I was that it was over, and I also told him that I wasn’t going to do it again!  Haha!  Olive was born within 20 minutes of getting into the pool, and active labour was only an hour!!  It was 6 hours last time!  

At 8:54pm, we became a family of four and I got to hold my precious baby girl in my arms.  As she locked eyes with me, I knew, that all my fears about not being able to love this little one as much as I love Grace were gone, and my love had simply multiplied.  

I got to stay in the pool for an hour holding Olive and waiting for the placenta to come out.  My husband got to cut the chord once the blood had stopped pumping.  When the placenta didn’t seem to make an appearance I got out of the pool and shortly after it was expelled.  Thankfully I didn’t tear this time, I was overjoyed!  Recovery from a tear is no fun!  I also didn’t bleed much this time which was great.  The whole experience was so much better than last time.  Olive’s first breastfeeding session lasted 40 minutes!  She just went on and on, everyone found it hilarious!  That girl is still a big feeder now, bless her!

By 12.30am, 6 hours after arriving at the hospital, we were discharged and left with our brand new spanking baby!  We made a vital stop at a McDonald’s drive through (the only place open for food at that time of night)!  It was so surreal, eating our meal in the car, with this tiny new baby in the back.  We got to bed around 2am, ready for Grace to meet her baby sister a few hours later!  I couldn’t have wished for better timing.  I was so hoping to be home, so Grace wouldn’t wake up without us there.  Their first meeting was incredibly sweet.  Grace pointed to Olive, shouting “baby” and then gave her a big kiss.  Olive (with a little bit of help) had brought Grace a few presents and had written her a card, and Grace loved opening them.  It was such a beautiful moment- the four of us cuddled up together in bed, savouring the newness and excitement together.  It’s a moment I will treasure forever.

In the next blog, I’ll write a little about what it’s been like since then – adapting to the changes, having two under 2’s, and all the craziness that comes with it!  But for now, I will head off to feed Olive who has just woken up…and I will count my blessings. Hopefully those warm thoughts will ease the night feeds tonight!!

Until next time!

2

Counting down

Hey guys!

I thought I should write one more very quick blog before our second princess arrives!

I am now 39+1 weeks, and really desperate and ready to pop already!  This bit always drags!  I just wish someone would tell me when it’s going to happen…I hate having to shave my legs everyday to be “labour ready” haha!  I can only blame myself…I said at the beginning that I hope she arrives as late as possible so that her birthday is as far away from Christmas as possible!  In reality, I’ve been wishing since 37 weeks she would already make an appearance.  Thankfully last week my bump finally dropped a little bit meaning that I’ve been able to breathe again and my ribs aren’t in constant pain from being kicked non-stop.  It has made such a HUGE difference.  I couldn’t even bend forward enough to get up off the sofa because there was NO SPACE, but now I am a little more mobile!  I also had three days of feeling majorly energetic!  I finally felt normal, and was able to get on with normal life, and even chase Grace around…but that’s disappeared again and I am back to being glued to the sofa, shoving matchsticks under my eyelids because I just feel so exhausted!  Grace has been amazing, and she even lets me have little naps here and there on the couch while she quietly does some reading or piles all her cuddly toys and blankets on top of me!

My hospital bag is finally packed, and everything is ready and in place for baby.  So, let the countdown begin…and if any of you send me a “any twinges?” or “still pregnant?” texts, be warned!  Hehe

Until the next blog – “My birth story – Round 2”!

0

Poetic words

Hello!  See?  I kept my promise, and I’m back!  I thought instead of rambling on and on today, I thought I would share some poetic words with you!

So without any further ado, here’s a humorous and hopefully relatable (for other parents) poem….


When your day starts before the crack of dawn,

Even before the birds have started their “melodious” song,

You know you’re a mother

When breakfast is a bowl of soggy, stale cereal

And your boobs are falling out of your hastily wrapped dresssing gown, still un-caged and free

You know you’re a mother


When getting ready is so rushed you save time by throwing on yesterday’s clothes

Glaring longingly at the shower, while your toddler’s screams haul you back into reality

You know you’re a mother

When the “mum bun” is your favourite hairstyle,

And your idea of fashion is a pair of leggings and a crumpled beige cardigan

You know you’re a mother


When your local soft play is THE place to hang out,

And you don’t know any of the mum’s names, they’re just “so and so’s mum”

You know you’re a mother

When a crazy night out, is going round a fellow mum’s house armed with chocolate and Shloer (for the breast-feeders amongst us!),

And involves talking about your kids until the late hour of 10.17pm

You know you’re a mother


When you finally get some “me time” and you choose to have a nap over a shopping trip,

And when you finally get round to doing your nails and you gladly realise that you don’t have to take off your previous nail polish as it has already grown out,

You know you’re a mother

When date nights with your partner are as rare as a fun nappy change

And your idea of a romantic evening is watching TV with a few candles on,

You know you’re a mother


When the word “sleep” makes you weep and grieve beyond measure,

A distant memory, yet still so tangible, it tortures your very soul

You know you’re a mother

When all you can think of is what it must feel like not to be tired,

And you want to gently shake every teenager that complains to you about being “exhausted”

You know you’re a mother


When you look at your toddler, peacefully asleep in her cot

And you realise you are so blessed, and your heart couldn’t be more full of love and joy

You know you’re a mother

When you think nothing of all the sacrifices and all the hard times because you have gained the biggest treasure by having your little one

You know you’re a mother


Each toothy grin, and sweaty hug,

Every sweet tug at your hand

Each giggle and laugh, and sloppy kiss

Every single, “I love you mummy”

These are the things that make being a mother the most rewarding experience of all


When the day’s over, and you are the last person to sink into bed,

And you know you will probably be up again in a few hours

You know you’re a mother

And you wouldn’t change it for the world


Thanks for reading! See you soon!

6

No two pregnancies are alike…

Hey guys!

You thought I had disappeared didn’t you?!  Did you have a little weep?  Aw, that’s so sweet…but you shouldn’t have ’cause I ain’t goin’ nowhere!  Every now and again life just gets a little bit too hectic…but F-I-N-A-L-L-Y, I managed to carve out some precious time to sit undisturbed and write!!  By undisturbed, I mean the washing machine is running as I’m also trying to finish a mountain of laundry, and I’m organising a family birthday in between breaks – but Grace is asleep and my husband isn’t around and those two are my MAIN distraction!

So, what have I been up to since the last time I blogged?  Well, we celebrated our gorgeous girl’s 1st birthday!  It was such a beautiful, sunny day and we had a picnic with family and a few of Grace’s baby friends and lots of toys and cakes!  I’ll admit that I did have a little cry on the day too…it’s just so bittersweet isn’t it?  We try to hold on to all those sweet memories of when they were so little, but we’re also excited to watch them grow and wonder where life will take them?  That feeling is strong and you can’t help but shed a tear or two.  Or in my case, a few hundred tears 🥴  Time never stops, it’s so fast-paced and you just want to hold onto every memory!

Grace is now over 13 months old – shock horror!  She took her first independent steps a few days after her 1st birthday, but it has taken a while for her to grow in confidence and realise walking is fun!  She has mastered it now, and walks around all over the place, usually carrying her giant, cuddly dog over her head!  She is turning into a very cheeky little monkey and loves to make us laugh.  Her latest stunt is sticking her finger up her nose, and giggling like crazy at our disgusted reaction!

What else happened?  Ah, yes, we were away on holiday to Spain for a week.  Although we did have some really fun times – Grace loved eating the sand, drinking fruit cocktails, and splashing about in the pool – my husband and I quickly learnt, there is no such thing as a holiday with an almost one year old, and I was almost relieved to be home again!  We are definitely going to wait until she is able to entertain herself a bit more before we go abroad again….that, or take “babysitters” with us in the form of family and friends 😉

Our last little update before we are all caught up again is – eeekkkkk, I am SOOOOOO excited to share this – we are expecting again and due in January!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That’s how dedicated I am to making sure I have enough material for this blog 😆 My husband and I are over the moon!

Before you start thinking we’re nuts, and what are we thinking having kids so close in age – we have always planned that when we start having kids, we want a small age gap between them.  Things such as our children being able to play together nicely, hopefully becoming close friends, and also the fact that I am still fairly in the swing of things and won’t need a refresher course, are all some of the many pros we listed when coming to this decision.  Alright alright, I don’t blame you for still thinking we’re nuts…because I do every now and again!  It will all be worth the hard work in the end, I hope!

I’m already coming up to 21 weeks – where has the time gone? – and we recently had our 20-week scan and found out we were having another little princess!  We are so thrilled Grace is getting a baby sister!!!  I am soooooo happy I don’t have to part with any of Grace’s cute little clothes just yet, and they will get used again! My husband is already signing up to boxing classes so that he will able to play the part of  “scary dad” when they bring their boyfriends round, haha!  Although Grace kisses my tummy, and points to it every time I ask her where the baby is, I don’t think she really gets it.  She has started lifting her daddy’s tshirts looking for “the baby” 😂 I hope his sudden dieting result from this!

So, what has it been like being pregnant again?  Completely different!!  Allow me to enlighten you…and to those of you that have been pregnant more than once, add your own experiences at the end if you want, I always welcome reader participation and learning from you guys!

Pregnancy No. 1Pregnancy No. 2
Morning Sickness + NauseaAbsolutely horrendous! I remember spending days in bed not even being able to keep water down! I threw up daily, a few times a day, from about 6 weeks until about 20 weeks.Much more manageable! I hardly threw up, but felt constantly nauseous from around 6 weeks until about 20 weeks.
Food AversionsDuring my sickness stage, I was averse to ALL food! I couldn’t stomach anything, but managed to force down very bland food and cereal when absolutely necessary.I had a major intolerance to the smell and taste of garlic all throughout my pregnancy – I even had to ask my husband to stop eating it, or spend the night on the couch if he had eaten some that day. It was bad!The key to managing the nausea this time was to eat constantly! If I let myself get hungry, I would pay for it for the rest of the day.   Now that the nausea has gone, I still have to eat throughout the day (or it comes back to haunt me!), and I literally have two breakfasts, about two hours apart!!!!
Although I can still sniff out the smell of garlic like a bloodhound, I can thankfully manage to eat it in very small doses.  The couch has not been in use yet!
Tiredness + ExhaustionI was pretty tired at the start and end of the pregnancy, but it didn’t interfere with my lifestyle too much.It was a bizarre concept for me to have to cancel the odd social engagement so I could get an early night. It turned out to be a good preparation for motherhood – no more social life for a while!The exhaustion and tiredness this time round was indescribable!!!!! One of the reasons I actually suspected that I might either be pregnant or anaemic again is because I literally could not keep my eyes open – even after 13 hours of sleep!  If I thought I was being sensible cutting back on my social life last time, pah!  This time I was cutting out meal times and showering just to get some rest in!! It was serious!!!! Will this be good preparation for having two?  God help us!Thankfully I have recently found that the extreme tiredness is easing now, so showering is back on you’ll be pleased to know!
Bump SizeI started showing properly around 20 weeks, although I was convinced my 18 week bloat was a bump!
I thought I was showing around 14 weeks but it was just bloated for ages! My actual bump came through at around the same time as last time.The only weird thing is how different my bump feels this time!  Last time it was really hard, this time, it’s a lot more squishy and when I sit down it almost collapses into rolls!! Very bizarre! The bigger it gets, the firmer it’s getting though…phew!
Feeling KicksI didn’t feel any movement until about 17 weeks and I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t get to feel Grace kick until the mid-twenty weeks.This little princess is so much more active than Grace was, oh help! She kicks me all day long! I think she just wants to join in all our fun already! 
CravingsI was so disappointed not to have any cravings!  It’s the one thing people genuinely want to find out, and when you tell them you haven’t got any, you feel like you have let the whole world down!Sob sob, still no cravings!  I am very, very easily influenced by what food I see around me though!  If I see someone eating something I like, I have to have it! My husband showed me this comedy sketch during which the comedian talks about ordering an Indian takeaway, and all I could think of was how much I wanted poppadoms!  This went on for days, until I finally bought some!  Another time, I was getting into my car and saw a McDonald fries packaging on the ground, and where did I drive to first?  Yup, to get myself some McDonald fries with curry sauce!
Time spent on research + baby apps!I engaged in hours and hours of research and checking my five baby apps daily to find out what new developments Grace was going through.
I would spend each morning and evening, lovingly stroking my bump (and applying stretch-mark cream), singing and talking to Grace!
I keep forgetting I’m pregnant – as much as that’s possible and makes sense! I am just too busy to focus on this little nugget with Grace keeping me distracted!
I do feel so guilty sometimes!  I know that my baby girl still knows I love her so much though! The circumstances are just VERY different this time round – and I often envy those first time mums!
I am also desperately trying to find time to write a song for this baby too like I did for Grace, but at this rate it may end up just being a line or two….
Is it going quickly?I remember thinking I was going to be pregnant forever, especially once I hit 30 weeks.I CANNOT BELIEVE how quickly the pregnancy has flown by this time!  It’s insane!  What doesn’t help is that the countdown to Christmas has now started with X-Factor being back on TV, and we are due not long after that!  I definitely prefer it going fast, but it’s also a little nerve-wracking!
Fitness + Activity LevelsI was pretty active, working out until around seven months. On our “Babymoon” my husband and I went on a hike along the hilly, cliff tops of Dorset and I managed it fairly well at eight months pregnant.What fitness levels???!!!! I was working out just before I got pregnant for the sole purpose of getting back in shape before being pregnant again, but I still feel that my body is worn out from last time!
I still go on walks a lot, and have to manage our endless flights of stairs, but I am definitely struggling already!
I have to be super careful when lifting Grace and other things, and just generally when moving because I feel like, if I carry out one wrong move, my body will go out of alignment!  (Preparation for old age?)

So, there you have it!  Are you still there?  Or have I bored you with information overload!!??  I will try my very best not to keep you waiting so long until the next entry!  Thanks for reading!  You’re the best!

2

12 ways to being a happier, less-stressed parent

I’ve been doing some thinking (which can be quite dangerous!) and I’ve realised that we can be happier, less-stressed and enjoy life more by making a few changes to the way we think and act, and becoming intentional about it!

Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt so far…

1) Don’t compare yourself
Hand’s up if you’ve compared yourself to someone else since this morning? I bet, that would be the majority of us! We do it all the time! And it’s a big part of why we are unhappy! There’s a quote I love,

“Comparison is the greatest thief of joy” {Roosevelt}

and isn’t it true!?

The more we keep comparing ourselves, the more we become unhappy and get the “grass is greener” syndrome. There’s only one way to tackle this. STOP! Each time you want to start comparing…STOP! You got that? STOP!

2) Money can’t buy you happiness
There seems to be this belief that money = happiness. If you really think about it, that’s just not true. Sure money can buy you nice houses, great holidays and all the clothes in the world, but it’s your choice to be happy or not. You can choose to be happy, rich or poor!

So, whether you’re loaded or you struggle to make ends meet each month, your children’s happiness does not derive from it. Your child won’t look back on their childhood wishing they had more toys and clothes, they’ll remember the love you gave them and all the fun family memories!

Grace’s favourite toy at the moment demonstrates this perfectly – it’s an unused, styrofoam Costa coffee cup! Yup! She is easily pleased…it cost us nothing, and yet she is as happy as can be! I am sure those of you with kids will remember times when the kids would rather play with the gift wrap or packaging than the actual present! Children at such a young age have nothing to prove or don’t compare themselves to each other, they are just happy with what they have. Let’s try to nurture that quality in them for as long as possible!

3) Your family, your way!
Just like we all love different things, and have different tastes, so our parenting style is going to be different from each other’s. We need to learn to respect and support each other as parents, rather than criticise and judge each other. All we want is the best for our children. Let’s embrace our different styles and learn from each other. Be confident in your ability to raise your children! No one knows your children as well as you – no one loves them as much as you – so don’t be let someone else make you feel like a rubbish parent because she parents her kids differently to yours! Your family, your way! The end.

[Disclaimer – By parenting styles, I am not condoning anything that would be harmful to your child.]

4) Live in the moment

This is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given and has become my life motto. When you are too busy worrying about stuff, you are not enjoying the present – your child beaming at you with delight, the glorious sunshine, your husband holding your hand, the colours of spring – all those fleeting moments that can bring you such happiness and warmth. Decide to be present, to live in each moment!

5) Count your blessings
I am sure you heard it all the time growing up, I certainly did! My mum would always say, “you are so lucky to have so much, think about those kids in poor countries that have nothing.” Then she would whip out a pamphlet from the Red Cross and show me photos of starving kids. She would normally time this perfectly, just before we wrote our Christmas or Birthday wish lists! But it really did have an impact on me. I grew up to do lots of missionary work, living in Mexico for 2 years as part of it, and I saw just how incredibly blessed we are to be living in a developed country.

The next time you want to grumble about our free healthcare system, or complain because your favourite type of bread was out of stock….try changing your perspective (easier said than done!). There’s a saying going round at the moment, “first world problems” for all those menial, outrageous things we get worked up about. Perspective. It’s a big one.

6) Figure out your work-style
Here’s where my German side is going to come out! Watch out!

I was raised by a very efficient, organised and hard-working German mother. She taught me a lot about using my time wisely, being punctual and all other good German traits 😉 As I got older, I didn’t want to be so German anymore – I wanted to be like my husband, and other laid-back types like him! They thrive on leaving everything to the last minute, and yet they STILL get everything done in time and they are never put out!

Well, trying to become “laid back” was like trying to squeeze into one of Grace’s baby grows! I just wasn’t made like that! I would end up more stressed and very annoyed – a complete disaster! It wasn’t until we had Grace that something suddenly “clicked” and I realised that for me to be stress-free and happy I needed to figure out how I work.

So now, I write up weekly meal plans, and have a cleaning rota in place, and plan each day as best as I can – but I am more relaxed and feel more settled than ever before. I am as German as you can get in my day to day routine, I am proud of it and it works for me!

What’s your style? If you’re not sure, why not try different ways and see what works best! Once you have figured it out, work it!

7) Don’t be hard on yourself
Are you your own worst critic? Do you constantly feel guilty for not doing more? Do you feel guilty when you sit down and have a break here and there? STOP IT!

You have to make a decision to be kinder to yourself. No one else can do it for you.

Once you learn to be kinder to yourself, you will notice being a little kinder to others too – and you will reap the benefits!

This is the German part of me I HAD to UN-learn! As long as you are doing the best you can, you can’t do anymore. I am sure your kids and husband would rather have a more relaxed mummy, than an OCD-clean house!

8) Appreciate yourself
This is a toughie! If I said to you, rate yourself out of 10 on your looks, your work ethics, your personality….I wonder how many would give themselves a 7 or more. If I asked you to rate your friend on the same things, you would all probably generously give out 8s, 9s, and if bribed, 10s! Why are we so stinking stingy when it comes to appreciating ourselves and knowing our worth??

Of course it’s nice to get praise from family and friends, but I don’t think it will ever truly sink it unless you can start to believe it. Which can take time. And practice. And sometimes you will just have to start “convincing to yourself” until you believe it!

I think it’s a life long journey, this one, but one that I would like to embrace and be challenged by! I hope you will too…

9) Choose your friends wisely
Time is precious, right!? Good friendships take time to nurture and maintain – but it’s so worth it, right?!

Then there is always that one “friendship”, that person we feel obliged to see for some reason or another, that one person that can make you feel like you are doing everything wrong, and all they do is put you down and burden you with negativity! Just stop putting yourself through such torture! If you absolutely have to stay in touch with those kinds of people, or because they are family (my sympathies), then at least don’t spend so much time with them. Limit how often you are in contact with them. If they’re not family, and they’re not friends, maybe it’s time to say goodbye, and go your separate ways?

Prioritise your time to be spent with people that support you and believe in you, the ones that will laugh with you and help you through the hard times – and that allow you to do the same for them.

Time is precious.

10) Plan in some “me time” regularly
Speaking of time, make sure you have some much needed and deserved “me time” every now and again! Even if it’s just 30 minutes a week! Do something you love doing, treat yourself, look after yourself.

I know as mums we are always told that this is so important, but we always ignore it!

Happy mum = Happy family = Happy mum

It’s important. Schedule it in right now!! (If you’re a planner like me!)

11) 3 positives from today
I like to do this with my husband, especially when one of us has had a bad day! List 3 things that you enjoyed about the day. Your mind is so powerful, and just focusing on a few positive things can really help turn a bad day around. It doesn’t always work, but it definitely teaches you to focus on the good stuff, to have a brighter outlook on life. As soon as Grace can talk, she will be doing this each day before bed!

12) Prioritise and be flexible
Learn how to prioritise tasks that NEED to get done today, and don’t worry if other things have to be postponed for the sake of some flexibility!

Chances are, if you love routine, your spouse prefers spontaneity (opposites attract and all that!) – and a balance between the two is perfect! The next time your partner suggests taking you and the kids out to the cinema last minute, wave those chores goodbye and have a great, guilt-free time making memories with your family! Life is too short not to enjoy it!

0

Say what? Learning a new lingo…

Hey!!  Great to see you again!  This is going to be a short blog post for once, because…

a) my mum has been complaining that they are always too long! Haha!

b) my arms are shaking SO much I can hardly type!  I’ve just finished an intense work out as I need to toughen up my back and get my core muscles back together to keep up with an ever-growing baby, and I need to get bikini-ready for the summer (wishful thinking!), and…..and, I want to be back to complete strength before my next bump (no, I’m not pregnant…yet)!!!

c) my arrrrmmmmsssss……arghhhhhh…..

So, what’s in store for you today?  Will you need a box of tissues?  No!  I promise to try and make you laugh, or at least smile, today!  So leave those tissues be, get cosy, and feast your eyes on this.


Grace is now 8 months.  That’s 8 months of learning in the ways of motherhood.  And boy, have I learnt some things!  Before I became a mum, I had no idea how different a mum’s life is to everyone else’s.  It’s like they speak a whole different language.  If you’ve been a mum for a long time, you probably won’t remember what it was like before having kids, but for a newbie mum like myself, I’m finding that learning how to speak this new language has been very eye-opening!  Here are a few things I’ve learnt since joining up…how many of these can all you fellow mums relate to?

Say what?

When I said that becoming a mum is like learning a new language, I actually meant that literally as well as figuratively.  I like reading up on things on these “mum” sites, where mums can chat about different things and share advice, etc and at first I had NO idea what all these abbreviations on there meant!  See if you can decipher this, for example:  “Now that my DD is 1 yo, my OH and I thought it was time to have another one.  So we DTD a few weeks ago, and I was hoping for a BFP, but instead received my AF instead.”  I could go on, but you get the point.  Translation?  “Now that my dear daughter is 1 year old, my other half and I thought it was time to have another one.  So we did the deed a few weeks ago, and I was hoping for a big fat positive, but instead received my period (Aunt Flo) instead.”  Why are all the abbreviations necessary you ask?  Well, who has time to type out “did the deed” when you have a baby to keep alive?!

Mum’s are like firefighters…

…but instead of always knowing where all the fire exits are, we always know where all the lifts are located, and where the nearest nappy changing facilities are, AT ALL times!!

Sing it like you mean it

Suddenly songs take on a whole new meaning, and one line can get you through the whole day.  You find yourself singing with such passion and zeal, that you half expect to receive a phone call from Louis Walsh telling you, “you’ll be the next big thing”!  Taylor Swift lyrics are particularly powerful, such as “haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate” after a stranger was giving you the stink eye in the supermarket because your baby was crying her eyes out. Of course the stranger had no idea that it was only because you wouldn’t let your child hold the box of eggs!  “Shake it off, off, shake it off”!

Taking it up a notch

Mums, I must ask, will my voice ever drop back down to normal or will I have an ultra-soprano baby voice forever!?  I feel like my voice has gone up a few octaves since Grace’s birth. I’m pretty sure Becks, our rabbit, quivers and shakes every time I speak to Grace.  Or more like, squeak to Grace.  I’m also pretty sure Becks growled in anger, when I sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider” earlier and our neighbour’s dog whimpered and wailed involuntarily!

Have a good day!

Prior to Grace, “having a good day” used to mean, I was mega productive, or I went on some crazy adventure, or I did nothing all day and chilled to the max.  Now, “having a good day” means, Grace hasn’t pooped in the bath for once (yup, she finds her baths too relaxing…I have never used so much bleach in my life!), I ate three meals a day or we managed to leave the house on time!  Can I get an amen?!

Emmental, Brie, Camembert – the cheesier, the better!

Please, promise me you won’t judge me!! Should I use my internal filter, and not share this piece of juicy blackmail-worthy material?  Nope, I’m going in! Have you ever watched movies on Sky channel 327 (Movies 24).  I have become a MASSIVE softie, and now love cheesy movies!  You know the movies I mean right?  The ones where the lead actor always looks vaguely like a famous actor?  And you can tell three minutes into the movie, how its all going to play out?  Yup, that’s the one!  You know you are in for a cheese fest if the tittle is something like, “Love in the Kitchen” or “My Gal Sunday”.  Oh, and the worse the acting, the better the movie.  It’s just that if I am going to use up some of my precious time watching TV, I want to feel safe in knowing that each movie I watch will have a happy ending.  I don’t have the emotional capacity for sad endings, crazy twists and complicated plots anymore.  Someone help me!  

Trying to catch some Z’s

Who remembers sleeping in till 1 or 2 in the afternoon as a teenager and still feeling tired?!  All I want these days is a lie in till 7, or dare I say it, 7.30!  I know some of you consider 5am a lie in, and some of you don’t even sleep at all – my deepest sympathies to you wonderfully strong and tenacious people! But what I wouldn’t give for a leisurely 7am start!

The time according to Grace is…

No need to look at the time anymore!  I now go by, mealtimes and naptimes.  If Grace is having her lunch, I know it’s roughly 11 o’clock.  When I hit that tired wall in the middle of the day, I know it’s 1 o’clock!  Works every time! Any other mums with me?

Shop till you drop!

Not as exciting as it sounds, but I have started doing our weekly grocery shop in the evening once Grace is in bed, and my husband is back from work.  In a weird way, it has become a bit of a treat – I get time to myself!  It’s also fantastically quiet in the shops at that time, and you are always guaranteed a parking space close to the entrance 😉 I literally go down every aisle, even the pet aisle, and savour each minute of “freedom”!  Every now and again, I do like to take Grace shopping too as she loves to sit in the trolley and enjoy all attention she gets from the other shoppers!  She has her charming smile down to perfection…oh help!

Because you know it’s all about the food…

Since weaning Grace, my food horizon has expanded and surprised me!  There are a quite a lot of things I give her, that I enjoy eating myself!  For example, cheesy paprika-spiced cous cous with avocadoes, or porridge with mashed bananas and cinammon – yum!  I have loved our weaning experience, it has definitely been one of my favourite so far.  Getting to choose all her meals, making up all sorts of dishes, letting her try as many things as possible, experimenting with seasoning other than salt…it’s been so much fun!  Yes, I’m a geek!

And on that highlight, thanks for reading!!! See you next time!! And get in touch if there is anything in particular you’d like me to write about soon…I am always open to suggestions!

4

My baby girl is here! {Part 2 – Emilia’s Song + Being a parent}

I’m sitting here feeling like a kangaroo.  What?!  Well, I am wearing Grace in a sling, and she’s all curled up, snug and asleep ☺️  Now all I need is a mug of decaf coffee….“Husband??  Are you awake?'”  I make terrible coffee.  The husband is the barrista in this household…he’s very proud of his skills too!  I guess, I will need to soldier on for now, and go back and re-write everything once the placebo of my decaf coffee kicks in!

Is anyone feeling festive yet?  I should be, especially with this being Grace’s first Christmas…but this year I am a slow starter.  As I’m sitting here, surrounded by all the Christmas decorations, proof-reading this blog which I started about two months ago (Grace is now 4 and a half months old!!), I am also making home-made fudge in the slow cooker – another attempt to get this Christmas excitement started!  I will let you know how it turns out!

As promised, you finally get to read the lyrics to the song I wrote for Grace when I was around 3 months pregnant.  I was full of excitement and apprehension about the months ahead.  I simply couldn’t wait to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl and what they would look like.  As you may remember too, if you read my previous blogs, I struggled coming to terms with being a good mum, and my own feelings of inadequacy and past experiences, and the lines “we’ll do what it takes to keep you from all harm, you’ll always know that you belong” capture those moments of my own experience, and my promise to keep Grace from those experiences. I hope that Grace will cherish this song for a long time – my gift to her straight from my heart.


Tiny fingers, tiny toes

I’ll keep you warm, I’ll keep you close

Before you’ve opened up your eyes

I’ll be right here right by your side

 

Silky skin, a button nose

With every day, excitement grows

Before you’ve taken your first breath

I’ve given you my all, my best

 

Will you have green eyes or brown?

Will your hair be curly and dark like mine?

I can’t wait to hold, hold you

With a mother’s love and a father’s heart

We’ll do what it takes to keep you free from all harm

You’ll always know that you belong

 

You stole my heart, effortlessly

The moment God gave you to me

Keep it safe and keep it close

My love for you, so fierce and strong

 


And now, let me take you back two months ago when I started writing this blog entry…

So there we were, finally out of the hospital with a jolly “Welcome to the parents’ club, have fun”!  The weight of this new responsibility hit me hard even before we got to the car.  (Some of that was probably the wave of heat as well!  We chose the hottest time of the year to welcome little Grace into the world!)  The first struggle was just figuring out how get her into the car seat…and this set the tone for the next 5 weeks or so!  To say we felt unprepared and out of our depths would be an understatement.  Google became our best friend.  We googled everything from “what colour should a baby’s poo look like” to “how to distinguish a baby’s cry” to “when will I sleep again”!  It was all SO NEW.  Exciting, yet also completely scary!

Here’s a brief description of what my husband and I encountered on our journey as new parents…

Ain’t nobody got time for this

When I used to hear new parents talk about how busy a newborn kept them, I used to think “How is that possible?  Surely they sleep ALL the time??”  This was one of many naive thoughts I had, which was quickly proven wrong!  If I were to explain to you why and how we had NO TIME to do anything but keep Grace alive, I wouldn’t be able to…but somehow she was ALL we had time for.  The first few days were literally spent in bed with Grace.  We would wake up at what-ever time and as the day went on suddenly realise it was 6pm and neither of us had showered or even brushed our teeth!!!!  Yup, we were hit by the “new parent virus”.  My husband was absolutely fantastic, and was a huge help.  He used to make sure I ate (I just didn’t feel like eating but desperately needed to, to keep my strength up to feed little Grace).  He also did the cleaning and reminded me of all the meds I had to take, etc etc.  I was just so out of it, I had no grasp of time or day or anything.  We were running purely on adrenaline.  One thing that was a massive help to us was the daily dinners we were provided with by friend and family members!  

Jump aboard the e-m-o-t-i-o-n-a-l rollercoaster

Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster I was about to embark on.  I was warned about these so-called “baby blues”, a time most mum’s go through which can be very emotional due to hormone levels regulating, and redundant hormones clocking out.  Yet it still caught me totally off guard.  One minute I was on top of the world, the next minute I’m standing in front of my wardrobe crying my eyes out because I couldn’t find a top to fit (the joys of breastfeeding!).

Ouchy ouchy ouch

…and speaking of breastfeeding….oh boy…that was THE biggest shock of all!!!!  So, you think to yourself “phew, the worst bit is over, I survived labour” and then you enthusiastically start breastfeeding when the smiles quickly fade and reality sinks in.  Now, not everyone has these kinds of stories, by the way, some people found breastfeeding a walk in the park from day one, but I was not one of those lucky people!  I just assumed that because I was shown how to do it properly it was going to be pain-free (because I was told it would only hurt if you were doing it wrong) but I didn’t really take into consideration that 50% of the success rate relied on Grace being able to latch on.  The pain was extremely unpleasant…I constantly dosed myself up on ibuprofen and burst into tears as soon as Grace latched on.  I tried so many things to ease the pain, including sticking a cooled cabbage leaf down my bra (more uncomfortable than soothing!) and a variety of creams.  Although some of it helped in a small way, it didn’t stop me from getting Mastitis twice (an infection caused by blocked milk ducts) which was very painful and gave me a fever leaving me bed-bound.  Oh, and not to forget to mention cracked nipples 😖 My advice to anyone wishing to breastfeed for the first time, make sure you have help getting started and seek help immediately as soon as you are experiencing pain – don’t wait as long as I did!!!  I finally sought out advice and was able to get the right help.  It did take a good six weeks until I was able to breastfeed without any pain but I am so glad I stuck with it.  I absolutely love the closeness of nursing Grace in this way, it’s a very special thing for both of us.

A few more ouchy’s

Unfortunately there was a little bit more pain for me to endure…stitches healing up, going for number two’s (it was like reliving labour!) and just my body needing to recover from childbirth.  There were also a few other uh, undesirable things to go through like the non-stop bleeding (Lochia) which, for me, lasted four weeks.

What is this crazy thing you speak of…sleep?

Oh we were warned, “you will get no sleep”, but how do you know what that feels like until it happens?  The other day, I read that your body exerts itself to the same level as running a marathon during labour, and that’s not even taking the pain into consideration!  Bearing that in mind, you get NO break whatsoever afterwards, no time to recover…and you have to launch straight into sleepless nights and restless days!   A newborn has to feed every two hours around the clock – it was beyond tiring!!  My wonderful husband was so supportive again, and would wake up with me during the night and pass Grace to me and put her back down after feeds (I was still struggling so much just sitting on my bum due to the stitches, so scooching out of bed with Grace in my arms was almost impossible!).

Pass me the earplugs…and a box of tissues!

I have to chuckle when I think back to when my husband and I were still in hospital and our precious, still slightly-dosed-up-from-the-pethidine, daughter was the perfect newborn.  She didn’t cry, not even when she had to have her heel pricked to have blood taken.  We boldly and proudly told our parents, “Oh she’s just wonderful, she doesn’t even cry!” and they just smiled politely.  I have to chuckle even more when I remember the day dreams I used to have about what my first few weeks with Grace would be like!!  I used to think that as it was the summer, I would just take her outside to a park somewhere and we would both lie on a picnic blanket – she would be peacefully asleep, and I would be basking in the sunshine, reading a book and munching on sweet chilli crisps!  Hahahaha….oh dear!

While there are definitely those enviable angelic newborns out there that simply just sleep and feed for the first few weeks….yup, you’ve guessed it…Grace was absolutely not one of them!  A few days into it, she started screaming for hours on end for no apparent reason.  We were besides ourselves trying to find out what caused her crying and how to help her.  After speaking to our doctor and health visitors, they told us she had colic (which really is just a fancy way of saying she has stomach issues but they can’t pinpoint exactly what the issues are).  So we took her to a cranial osteopath (this is a treatment which helps release stresses and tensions in the body) as a few of our friends recommended it.  It seemed to help Grace settle a little, but the screaming continued.  This made it impossible to take her anywhere as we couldn’t predict when the screaming would start and how long it would go on for.  It was really horrible, and I used to just hold Grace and cry with her.  Having to watch her like that actually made my body “feel her pain” – I realised then just how strong a mother’s bond is.  Eventually, we were able to diagnose Grace with silent reflux (where the milk would come back up and irritate and sometimes burn her throat) and struggling to bring up wind after feeds.  Armed with that new knowledge, and as her digestive system matured over time, we started seeing massive improvements and now she is a very happy and content little girl.

Now, before you stop reading, and turn away in despair dear mummy-to-be, please don’t panic!  Yes, I mentioned a lot of horrible bits, but the good stuff outweighs all of those by FAR!  I was only describing my experience so that you might not be as naive and shocked as I was.  I always think that the key to handle situations well is to get “into the zone”, be mentally prepared, and you will be absolutely fine.  The mind is a powerful thing!  Let me share two more points that are tremendously positive and encouraging!

Winter, spring, summer or fall…all you’ve got to do is call

During those first few weeks, we felt so much support from our family and friends, whom without, we would have really struggled!  Everyone was quick to help and to give us good advice and encouragement.  We realised what amazing people we had in our lives.  The amount of cards, flowers, presents and well wishes we received were overwhelming!!!  Our lounge looked like a flower shop!  It was so lovely to know that we weren’t the only ones excited about our daughter’s arrival, and that she already had so many special people in her life caring for her and loving her.

‘There are really places in your heart that you don’t know exist until you love a child.’ – Ann Lamott

I can honestly say that becoming a mother is the best thing I have EVER done.  Grace brings us so much joy and laughter, and she has given me such a sense of fulfilment.  I can’t even put into words just how much I love her, and how I would do anything for her.  She has completely “stolen” my heart, like the song says.  With each smile, my heart melts, and with each cuddle, I know that I have made the best decision of my life.  

Now, I really should let you get on with your busy lives!  Feel free to leave me comment and share any tips you have for expectant mums.

The fudge smells divine, by the way, and tastes pretty scrumptious…the hard bit will be leaving it to cool overnight!

0

My baby girl is here! {Part 1 – The birth story}

Howdy ho!!

Yes, I know, it’s been a LONG time since I last posted – but this time I actually have a valid excuse!  For those of you that haven’t already heard, my beautiful princess was born!!!! She is absolutely perfect 😍 (For the sake of this blog I will be calling her Grace)

Now, I’m sure you are all desperate to hear all the gory details (I have actually kept this ”man-friendly” so it’s a very mild and clean version haha), but let me start by re-capping my last few days before the birth.

So here I was, feeling HUGE and uncomfortable and so so impatient – and I wasn’t even due yet!  The problem was that the first due date we were given was a week before the revised one and so in the back of my mind I was always going with the original one because it actually made more sense date wise.  This made me overdue and uber-ready!  My fears and worries about labour didn’t matter so much anymore as all I wanted was to meet our baby!

The key was just to stay busy to keep my mind off it, and to do as much physical exercise as possible to hopefully encourage labour along.  (I knew that Grace would come out when she was ready, so I didn’t want to rush her either and try too many labour-inducing methods!)  I also started wondering if I was having a boy again!  I subconsciously started calling the bump “he” again, and looking at boys clothes etc!  No idea why!  My husband and I also finally had a productive discussion about names.  We came up with a list of four girls names and four boys names we liked and once the baby was born we would choose the name that most suited them.  Now all we had to do was wait….

…and this leads us to the big day…

My husband was working a night shift the night it all started.  He had briefed me on who to call if the time came (as he’s not allowed to have his phone on him), along with ten other names and numbers in case I couldn’t get through!  I felt reassured 😖  Just before going to sleep, I was messaging my sister telling her how frustrated I was that the baby hadn’t arrived yet.  I was crying my hormonal heart out!  I was even shouting at my bump, telling the baby to hurry up!!  Well, she heard me…as soon as I turned off the light and settled into bed, I heard a “pop” and with that my waters had gone!  I remember thinking, “wow, this is just like in the movies!” except there was no almighty gush, just a steady trickle!  With this being my first baby, I knew to expect a long labour and for everything to escalate at a fairly slow pace so I wasn’t sure whether to call my husband straight away or wait until the contractions started.  Luckily I did call, as by the time he got home, I was having contractions every 6 minutes.  They were still bearable, just like very strong period cramps.  I was super relaxed, packing last minute items into my hospital bag, doing my make up (!?), while my husband was leisurely having a midnight microwave meal! {I have to mention that the microwave meal contained A LOT of garlic and Paul stunk of it for the entirety of my labour!  With my garlic issues, this was NOT good.  Thanks husband!}  When I called the hospital they told us to come in just to make sure that my waters had broken.

I got a bit scared while we were waiting to be seen because there was a woman wailing away in the corner and crying out in pain every few minutes.  Finally I was seen to and they confirmed that my waters had broken (I could have spared them the hassle!).  They advised me that as I am a first-timer, it would be a long while yet and to come back by 7pm the following evening if nothing had progressed.  We were told not to come back before then unless my contractions were coming every 4 minutes or less.  So off we went, and I was starting to get pretty uncomfortable.  By the time we got through the door, my contractions were starting to feel pretty painful and when we started timing them they were only 4 minutes apart.  We waited an hour, to make sure the contractions remained steady, and went back to the hospital.  {There was a storm that night, and lightening was going off everywhere as we drove back.  It actually really put me at ease – I love storms!}  The staff were surprised to see us again so quickly!  The midwife reluctantly agreed to check how far I was dilated, and I was at 3cm.  (You are fully dilated at 10cm)  I burst into tears, one because when she checked me it was soooo painful and I started bleeding (!!) and two, because I felt like I had such a long way to go and I was already struggling so much!  I didn’t think I could do this and really started panicking, wanting to request an epidural there and then!  My husband was great and encouraged me, and I was able to “get in the zone” and get myself together.  Again, we were reminded that it can take ages and were strongly advised to go home again, but I refused.  I was in a lot of pain by then and I just knew that it wouldn’t be much longer.  She gave me two hours to get to 4cm, otherwise I would have to go back home.  Well, after two hours I was already at 7cm!!

I was led to the Midwife-led unit which was interesting!  I must have looked a right state!  I had a blood stained bed sheet wrapped around me, and with each contraction I had to crouch down waiting for it to pass – NOT a pretty sight!  My ideal birth plan was to have a water birth with as little intervention and pain relief as possible.  Sadly, there were no water pools available so I couldn’t have my water birth.  However, I didn’t care at this point, I just wanted this baby already!  I was given some gas & air which didn’t do anything.  I know what it should feel like as I have used it a few years ago to have some stitches removed, so I got my husband to check that it was on and he said that the dials on the machine weren’t moving at all! (Why we didn’t think to tell the midwife I don’t know!)  So I soldiered on for an hour until I was SO exhausted and really struggling with the pain, that I was offered Pethidine and I eagerly accepted!  Pethidine is the medical name for Opium!  Although you can still feel the pain, you are so out of it that you don’t really care!  And yes, I was out of it!  My husband said he found it so hard not to laugh as I kept saying really random stuff!  I also remember asking him constantly if he was ok and if he needed a break or food, haha!  Sadly, due to the Pethidine, I don’t remember some parts of the latter part of the labour, but I was able to sleep between each contraction (3 minutes apart) and it gave me the strength to carry on!  {My husband actually had to check that I was still breathing at times, because I would be completely out of it after each contraction!}  I liked the fact that there was only one midwife in the room with us, and she just sat back and let me get on with it.  In a strange way, it felt like a very relaxed atmosphere.

After 6 and half hours of active labour, I finally got to 8cm and the midwife said that if I felt the urge to push, and I was unable to stop it, to go for it.  After a while, I felt this strong sensation, like I needed to do a massive poo (sorry, a bit TMI!  Still “men-friendly” though because they love a bit of poo-talk!  Haha) and I started pushing with all my might.  Nothing.  Nothing was happening.  I started panicking again, and was worried that they may end up using forceps or ventuose to get baby out!  In my drugged up state I felt like it had been ages, although the pushing part only lasted a total of 8 minutes which is really quick. With one final push and fierce determination, the head emerged.  One more push and Grace plopped out!  {My husband found it really funny how I was frantically removing my top so that I could have “skin to skin” contact with Grace!}  The first thing I asked was, “Is she still a girl?” 😅 The midwife must have thought I was mad!  I also tried to count her fingers and toes and kept re-starting and getting confused (obviously still under the influence)!  When they handed me Grace, and she looked at me with her beautiful eyes, it was the most special and surreal moment of my life.  There she was.  Finally.

When I was pregnant, I remember wondering whether I would “recognise” Grace and feel like I had always known her.  Although, I didn’t “recognise” her from the way she looked, I immediately knew this was my girl by the way she moved and kicked!  We had a lovely cuddle and then I couldn’t fight sleep any longer and my husband held Grace while I slept off the Pethidine!  I remember waking a few times and just looking over at my husband and Grace. My husband was looking at Grace with sheer wonder and love, and it melted my heart.  During one of my brief moments of consciousness, I asked him which name out of our four choices suited her most.  He said that he had been looking at her for a long time, and Grace (reminder, that’s not her actual name) felt right.  I completely agreed. {Grace’s middle name was the shortened version of my grandma’s name.  She was one of the most remarkable and inspirational women in my life, and I really wanted her to “live on” and be remembered.}

Unfortunately I had to have stitches, yuck, and had a few grazes but all in all it was a very positive labour experience. {Especially for my husband as I only squeezed his arm once, quite hard!} 

So that, lovely readers, is how little Grace came into the world 💗

For any mums-to-be who have been wondering about labour and might even be a bit frightened of it…my number 1 tip is to “get in the zone”.  Don’t even worry about how long it’s taking, or how long it’s been.  Try not to focus on the pain and what’s going on around you.  Just give yourself a pep talk, and tell yourself to be strong!  There is a reason women are the ones who give birth…you are stronger and braver than you think!  There is a fierceness and determination in women that sets them up to become those wonderful mothers who will do anything and everything for their children.  Women, we should be proud of ourselves – we can grow and birth humans and that’s not to be sniffed at!!

MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHTS…

How was your first experience of labour?

Crazy!! There are no real words to describe it and it was really tough seeing my wife in so much pain and not being able to do anything to help. You experience such a huge range of emotions all at the same time. Excitement, fear, amazement, anger (at the customary maternity ward parking ticket!), pride, worry, joy and complete happiness! For anyone that’s been to Alton Towers recently, it’s like a rollercoaster of emotions when the rollercoaster is Smiler!

Tell us honestly, did you purposely eat garlic so your wife would have to refrain from squeezing your hand to keep you out of smelling range?

It was a strategy that I had planned weeks in advance and I would like to thank the microwave chinese meal for its vital role! Haha only joking! I just panicked because I didn’t know when I would get a chance to eat next!!

Any tips for other dads-to-be?

Just to try and do everything you can to make things a bit easier for your partner, give her lots of encouragement and support, and accept that you will feel helpless!…..oh and avoid microwave meals!

Which end were you at?

The head, the whole head and nothing but the head!! Some things you can’t un-see and I thought it would be better if I just give emotional support and hand holding! I once saw an interview with Robbie Williams where he talked about being at the business end of things during the birth of his child and he described it as watching you favourite pub burn down!

Did you get emotional?  What was it like seeing Grace for the first time?

I am not one for getting emotional and my wife is still desperately waiting to see me cry for the first time, but I did get a bit emotional when Grace plopped out and let out her first little cry. It suddenly became very real that there was a tiny little baby that was ours and it was such a cute, tiny cry….but I quickly regained my composure!

Thanks husband!  Not so sure I like this “pub burning down” analogy though…but then it’s Robbie Williams, what can you expect?!  Lol!

Nine long, crazy, emotional, tough, exhilarating, life-changing, body-changing, beautiful months…and that was just the start of our new adventure ☺️

I’m off to get some sleep in before the 4am feed…ZzzzZzzz

In Part 2, I’ll be sharing a bit about what it’s been like adjusting to parenthood and a newborn baby – absolutely NOT what I was expecting!

 

 

 

 

 

0

Slinky vests + more thoughts from Paul

I’m sitting outside in the glorious sunshine, typing away to the sound of rustling leaves and cheerful bird song….and a vacuum cleaner.  (My husband is busy cleaning his old car so he can sell it.)  I am now in my 9th month of pregnancy and officially on maternity leave!  According to my mum, my bump has dropped since yesterday.  I can’t really see a difference but have definitely noticed less rib-kicking, so she’s probably right.  Also, I think the “pregnant waddle” is setting in…making me walk EVEN slower than I have been!

It’s been a busy past few weeks….and I am truly sorry for neglecting this blog as a result!  Let me fill you in on what’s been going on, starting with, oh you know it, our weekly comparisons!


Weeks 31 – 32  |  Honeydew melon  |  A loaf of bread…..what!? Yup, baby is already that big!!

Week 33 – 36  |  Cantaloupe  |  Just the modest size of a …..Ukelele!!!!! Maybe that’s a bit far fetched 😂

Week 37  |  Watermelon  |  Baby is now considered “full term”!  She’s now fully developed “baby size”…whatever that may be!  


While my husband is off work this week, I have written us an extremely detailed and organised “To Do” and “To Buy” list. The goal is to be completely baby-ready by the end of the week.  This includes hospital bags being packed, nursery done, flat spring-cleaned, right down to maternity pads being purchased!  My husband and I even managed to buy more suitable, family-safe cars in the last few weeks!

We had a very wonderful Babymoon in Dorset a few weeks ago!  We stayed in a very secluded spot just outside of Poole, and spent the week exploring a few local attractions like Monkey World (it’s amazing!) and Lulworth Cove (which involved a 4k hike along steep costal paths!), and of course, had a few beach days.  It was the perfect break, yet also a little surreal because it will be our last child-free holiday for a while!  Oh, I just thought of a funny story I can share.  When we were packing for the holiday, I thought I saw my husband pack one of his “slinky vest tops” as I call them, tank tops to most people.  I really am not a fan, but he likes to wear them on the beach for maximum sun exposure!  Anyway, said beach day arrives and it was absolutely scorching hot outside.  I was mentally preparing myself for my husbands feast-for-the-eyes vest top display, only to find him looking rather confused and handing me the aforementioned tank top.  He said he put it on and it fit kind of weird, was it mine by any chance?  I looked at the label, and God bless his soul, he managed to pack one of my strappy maternity vests!!!!!!!  What I would have given to see him in it!!!  He must have had such a shock, seeing his abs look suddenly a lot more accentuated than usual and pronouncing a non-existent belly with it’s figure hugging, biased cut!  I couldn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day!!!

For those, that actually want some details on how the pregnancy is going, while we were away, I got a call from the midwife informing me that my iron levels had significantly dropped and I’m anaemic.  This wasn’t a shock, because due to being a vegetarian, my iron levels have always been on the low side.  I had started getting really bad dizzy spells, where I’d have to lie down to avoid collapsing!  Thankfully I have taken to the iron tablets well, and they have helped tremendously.  Other than that, I am feeling great and healthy and the baby is developing just the way she should.  She’s not engaged yet, so her legs are coming up to my rib cage and she has taken full advantage of that.  My ribs are SOOOO sore, and actually feel bruised.  I can’t even put my hand over that area without being in pain.  She’s immensely active most of the time and it can get quite exhausting and it is very uncomfortable!  Now that the bump is supposed to have dropped though, I am hoping my ribs will get a bit of a chance to recover!  Unlike I was imagining, my bump is not yet at humungous proportions and I can still see my feet which helps climbing up and down the 3 flights of stairs to our flat!  I am also not at the stage yet where I can use my bump as a tray, but it does serve as a nice book rest in the bath!  I really do love having a bump most of the time, but I am also looking forward to having my body back and being able to sleep on my stomach!  I miss that soooo much!

I thought to change the blog up a bit this week and give you another interview style entry.  Instead of just having my husband answer the questions, I wanted to join in too!  Here’s a list of questions we get asked a lot, or people wish they could ask us, and our responses.  Enjoy!

1) With just 3 weeks to go, give or take, how are you feeling?

Husband:  I’m feeling excited and as ready as I think you can be when you don’t really know what is ahead of you! I just can’t wait for our little one to be here now after such a long build up.

Me:  Sooooooo excited!!!!! She can’t come soon enough….I literally can’t sleep at night because l just think about finally meeting our little nugget….eek!!!!!

2) What final preparations do you still need to do?

Husband: We are pretty much there now. There are just a few minor little things to do and the finishing touches to baby’s room. We have made sure that we were ready ahead of time so it wouldn’t become an added stress!

Me:  We’re pretty much there! Although I’m not so sure organising a nursery at 37 weeks can be classed “ahead of time” unless you’re my husband!!!  The only important preparations left to do now are briefing him about labour and discussing a birth plan….scary!

3) Have you decided on a name?

Husband:  No I haven’t…..but my wife has! Well, she has about 2 options that she’s set on. I feel this might be something she will bring up in the middle of labour when I won’t be able to say no!

Me:  After hours and hours of research I do have 2 names that I really love and then a list of about 5 others I also like. I also have some boys names on reserve just in case (it was way easier choosing those!).  Now my husband and I just need to agree on one!! I have a feeling it will be a looooong discussion! Although, thanks for the tip husband, I might just use the labour card 😉

4) What are some things you still want to do before becoming a parent?

Husband:  I would like to catch up on a bit more sleep before the baby comes, if possible! I want to get as good a foundation of sleep in as I can!

Me:  Go on lots of fun dates!!! It might be a while till we can both go to the cinema together again!

5) Have there been any arguments or things you struggle to agree on?

Husband:  Names is a subject that, I wouldn’t say we argue about, but it is the source of a lot of discussions…..always initiated by my wife!! Other than that we tend to agree on most things, helped by the fact that we both had fairly similar upbringings.

Me:  Can I just say here that I initiate the names conversation a lot because someone hasn’t even got any to share yet!!!!! Other than that, we are pretty much on the same page which is a massive relief!! Just wait till I tell him I want to raise our child a vegetarian…..!! Haha! I actually don’t so nobody panic!

6) How did you agree on which way you wanted to decorate the nursery? Did someone make all the decisions, or was it an equal effort?

Husband:  I think we decided on the design and all things nursery together, we are pretty good at coming up with these things together…..well I think we are, unless my wife is using clever tricks to make me think I’m contributing!

Me:  Other than being set on using the most adorable bird fabric from IKEA I was pretty relaxed about how to decorate it (which is very surprising for me!) I think it helped that my husband has proven himself as a bit of a designer a few times and I have been pleasantly surprised on many occasions by his creativity! He chose the paint and feature wallpaper for our lounge and I love it! So I wasn’t too worried about us both being very involved with the nursery.  That’s not to say that there are moments when I’m speechless by some of the suggestions my husband can bring to the table….!!! Hehe

7) Strangest advice you’ve been given so far?

Husband:  I’m not sure about this one, I haven’t really been given that much advice, most people just give the classic, “ohhhhh your life’s about to change now” etc etc, which I had pretty much worked out by myself! 🙂

Me:  I’ve had quite a bit of interesting advice but the one that stands out is some advice I read about in a book about coping during labour. The author wrote that apparently mooing like a cow can help you relax more!  Yeah you read that correctly!!!  I can’t even remember what the science behind it is, but I would love to hear from you if you mooed during labour and if it helped!!!! I’ll try anything!

8) Which physical features do you wish you daughter will inherit from your spouse?

Husband:  I hope she will get my wife’s smile and her skin tone. Hopefully she won’t get most of my features as I think they would detract from her cuteness!

Me:  I hope she will get Paul’s green eyes and his hair, which is much thicker and healthier than mine!

9) Which one of your spouse’s characteristics do you wish your daughter will take on? And which do you hope they avoid?

Husband:  I hope our baby gets my wife’s kind heart. She always feels compassion towards so many people. On what I don’t want her to inherit….my wife was quite a naughty child!!

Me:  My husband is incredibly easy going and I would love our daughter to have some of that. However on the flip side, I hope it won’t make her too laid back…my husband is laid back enough for the whole family!!

10) Who will be the “softer” one and give in more? Who’ll be stricter?

Husband:  Personally, I think I will be the stricter one because my wife is too soft and gives in too easy especially with Becks (our rabbit) but she does have a stubborn side too so I guess we will see……

Me:  Hmmm….tough one!!! I think we might be softer than the other person on different things. For example, I think my husband will be really tough in that once he’s made a decision it’s final and he won’t change his mind (I speak from experience! Haha)  I will be more tough on making sure she won’t ever become as fussy of an eater as myself!

11) What’s the most important lesson you want to instil in your daughter?

Husband:  To stay away from boys! There’s not much more I can say about that!

Me:  I would like to teach our daughter never to stop dreaming big and not to let anything stop her from what she wants to do.

12) Who will end up changing the most nappies?

Husband:  Probably my wife but only because I will be at work a lot of the time, but when I am around we will probably share it out pretty evenly. We both had a lot of practice having lots of younger siblings! There is also the likelihood that my wife will dig out some kind of rota!!

Me:  My husband clearly hasn’t checked his emails yet! He’ll find a nappy changing rota waiting for him 😆

Well, with that I should probably be on my way.  The pressure washer has emerged (this car cleaning business is serious stuff) and water + laptop is not the smartest combination!

In the next blog, I am hoping to share a song with you that I have written for our little nugget! OR I could be sharing my birth story!  Anything can happen at this point, she says desperately shoving pineapple pieces in her face (which is supposed to bring on labour) …

PS:  Since working on this blog my bump has definitely dropped and our baby is 2/5th engaged. The midwife also estimated her at around 7lb already!!!!!!  That’s already bigger than my husband was when he was born!  I was around 8lb…I’m scared! Haha