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The Neglected Second Child

Baths
With my first baby, I lovingly bathed him every night, followed by an all over baby massage, story (totally understood it at 0 years old, but figured he might like the sound of my voice) whilst colourful lights danced across his ceiling in various unicorns and other mythical beasts, synchronised with soothing lullaby music. Most nights I even got in the bath with him so we could bond (there’s nothing better for the mother/baby bonding than seeing your mums postpartum body/ flab and other regions that haven’t been seen/accessed for many months). The whole bath and bedtime thing was just a beautiful experience and I would often wish that perhaps my husband could do this with me every night before bed to help me sleep?!
Second baby, it goes about 3/4….maybe even 5/6 days and we are like “oooo whats that smell??” After checking that we hadn’t left a nappy bag somewhere, the washing hadn’t gone mouldy in the machine (been in there 5 days i think?), something in the fridge hasn’t gone funky, we then realise that in actual fact it is our beautiful little baby. “We should probably bath him tonight then?” we agree. A quick 2 min dip in the bath (often in the toddlers old water) and job done. Its only recently that I’ve started upping his bath times to try to create some sort of bedtime routine to help him sleep (it’s what google says to do….def not working yet).

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General Cleaning
Follows on nicely to baby cleaning. First baby, tiny bit of sick/ poo- change of outfit. Fresh outfit for the morning, evening, bedtime. So many outfit changes. Fresh nappies constantly. So fresh, so clean!
Second baby, wet wipes have been key. You can pretty much keep the same outfit on for 24 hours if you do your wet wiping right. This does mean baby number two essentially goes out in his PJs most days, but you can totally get away with this when you can coo and blow bubbles. And nappies, I hate to say it, but I do forget to change him a lot of the time, or remember, but put it off (not always easy negotiating a toddler diving into the sanitary towel bin whilst you’re trying to hold your baby on the changing table with your foot). Obviously if I hear that familiar “parp” noise and it starts leaking out the side code red situation, I whip that bad boy off. Although, unlike my first, I seem to miss that “poop” noise sometimes (toddler too noisy?) and only discover the littler liquid treasure at a later time. Then feel horrendously guilty as wonder how long its been there. Maybe that’s why you’ve been crying?!
Unfortunately, on one dark and windy autumn day, I actually realised I had run out of baby nappies so had to wing it with a size 5 toddler one (see pic). Poor boy, it was up to his nipples and beyond. Well it was either that or a sanitary pad.

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Clothes
Brings me onto clothes. I was so excited to start dressing my first baby in proper clothes. So I pretty much did this from the start. In fact, I loved it so much I would plan his outfits the night before and get so excited to dress him in them. Lots of clothes were bought, lots of money was spent. I obviously had a lot of time on my hands?!
All of baby number 2s clothes are hand-me-downs (perk of having 2 of the same-sex). This time round, I’m pretty certain my baby will be in baby grows i.e. PJs until he’s 18. Special occasions (like when we might see people), I have started to dress him in actual clothes, but the majority of time he will be in a onesie. There’s just not been enough hours in the day now to plan his cat walk outfits. Poor little chicken, half his baby grows are so small now that he can barely straighten his body out. You WILL stay a newborn forever.

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Wardrobe Space
Baby number 1s (now toddler) wardrobe is extensive. I mean the boy has a double-breasted wardrobe just for his Autumn/ Winter collection (see picture)
Poor baby number 2 has a 3 draw (small-scale) chest of draws next to the huge wardrobe. Nothing like rubbing salt in the wounds. The clothes that can’t fit in the chest of draws live in a bag (Tescos?) in the airing cupboard.

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Attention
I do feel like baby number one had my undivided attention ALL the time. I didn’t get much done at all because I was concentrating on him so much and responding to his every beck and call.
This time round I have a 2 year old that takes up A LOT of my attention, so the poor second baby just seems spend his life plonked in places whilst I sort the toddler out. His day looks like this: propped up on sofa, strapped into swinging chair, moved into bouncy chair…..(bouncy chair is moved from kitchen, to living room, to bedroom. back to kitchen), wedged in Bumbo (chubby thighs), Bumbo relocated to various different places/ views, Sleepy Head (for naps haha yeh right), play gym, car seat (sometimes left in house, placed on sofa or outside for “fresh air”), AND REPEAT. Soon the “Circle of Neglect” ie; the Jumperoo, will come back into action. I feel so guilty that he just kinda gets left and I can’t spend my days just staring at him whilst drinking (hot?) tea.

Used As Entertainment
Baby number 2 is also used as a source of entertainment for the toddler and often treated as a play thing. “Lets see if the baby fits in here” or “lets stick these on the baby” are 2 of the many games we can play that keeps the toddler busy for 10 mins. I also feel like you aren’t as delicate with baby number 2, you realise that these babies are actually quite robust (well he has to be when big brother tries to move him to the play gym all by himself eeeeek). This means that he’s often placed in places for amusement/ funny photos.

Baby Classes
First time round I hammered the s*it out of baby sensory, baby massage, baby gymnastics, bounce and rhyme, baby yoga (didn’t get on well with this), baby swimming…It was crazy busy but felt I NEEDED to do it all for my sons development?!
This time round the logistics of it (can’t take toddler to baby massage/ baby yoga…imagine!) means I cant really do anything specifically for my new baby (mum guilt). So baby number 2 just pretty much tags along to all of my toddlers classes/ social life. BUT I feel he’s almost getting a free ride?! Although not specially for him, already at 3 months old, he gets to attend/ watch/ “absorb” toddler gymnastics, toddler swimming (soon), Forrest School, toddler yoga, soft plays, toddler play dates, farm days, craft classes, tractor rides, crabbing……list goes on……and I get to save some ££££$$$$$

Name Confusion
I never forgot the name of my first son.
Second time round, I’m really struggling to call my baby the correct name……Arlo/ Daddy/ Rich (husband)/ Lottie (dog)/ Jamie (brother)/ Keith (who’s Keith??)…….ahhh whats your name again??! It’s not that its hard to remember, or that I have THAT many more names to remember now, so I can’t understand why I’m struggling so much? I think it’s a lot to do with the tiredness (and age?), I’m just so confused. I basically reel off all of the names I know until I hit on the right one. Plus, he’s never just called his name, he’s known as Baby Kitt. I think he should be Baby Kitt on his birth certificate.

Development
With my first son I was so excited for him to meet each developmental stage (ie. holding head up, rolling over, sitting up, crawling etc). We would even have training sessions.
This time round I’ve realised that actually things become harder when they get bigger (they can move), so I am discouraging any type of development! I want to know what when I plonk him down somewhere, that he’s going to be there when I get back. Plus I want to keep him a baby FOREVER.

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Napping
Child number 1, nap times (like bedtimes) were a serene and peaceful experience.
This time, naps for my baby are on-the-go, normally 20 min power naps in the car seat, or in the sling whilst navigating the ball pit in a soft play, or at home with a xylophone/ hammer/ toy drill being played with next to his head. I’m so sorry.

 

*disclaimer. I love my second baby just as much as my first and don’t mean to “neglect” him. He is very much loved, kept warm, happy, fed and clean (mostly). Weirdly, second baby seems way more laid back.

 

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Justifying Mum Guilt

When you become a mum you start feeling really guilty…..all the time. Not the “I got really drunk last night, tied my maxi skirt up to make a mini skirt, puked in glass and woke up with kebab stuck to my face” kind of guilty (not me??!!), but a really powerful ” you’re shaping someones life/personality/future” kind of guilty.

I’ve been thinking about “Mum Guilt” recently (mainly because I’ve been feeling so guilty). Its something I hear mums talk a bout a lot. Surely it just makes us good mums that we are worried about things?? Or bad mums because we are doing things wrong??

And then it came to me (as I was rocking/shushing/nippling/ online shopping at 3am), every cloud has a silver lining. So in fact, all of these things that we have been feeling so horrendously guilty about are totally fine. If anything, they could actually be viewed as GOOD things. It’s all about turning negatives into positives.

1) Feeding Child Snacks To Keep Quite
Children love snacks, snacks are food, food is good to help growing children, child is quiet whilst eating. WIN WIN. If child has filled up on snacks and wont eat
“proper” food…..saves cooking/ money/ time.

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2) Too Much TV
On “Go Jestters” the other morning (go go, go go, goo jesters…..song in head all day long), they were talking about wind power and windmills. My 2 year suddenly chirped up “wind power”. I mean wow, how advanced to know all about how power is generated, child genius right there (!!!!). So, I really feel that TV is actually very educational. Kids programs these days are so informative, covering so many different topics that it can only be a good thing?! I was poorly when I was a kid, I had a very long time off school and just lay on the sofa and watched TV everyday, and I’m fine??!! Even TV programs like Hollyoaks (if they happen to be on) for example, your child can learn about emotions, relationships, life lessons etc. Then you can switch over to the news (ok Loose Women, basically news) for more political debates. You then have problem solving in programs like Broadchurch. Also environmental subjects covered in programs such as Love Island (travel) and talent inspiring TV such as X-Factor. So you see, TV is actually a GOOD thing. Its like being at school.

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3) Too Much Time On MY Phone
I feel guilty about my children, even my 12 week old baby, seeing me on my phone. I even go and hide in the toilet to check Instagram, or cover my phone with a blanket “den” so I can check FB. BUT if you just say “Mummy’s working” then they will see just how hard you work and how you can multi task your “work” with mothering. In this day and age (unfortunately) it’s the way our world is going (back in my day……..) so I guess it’s a good way of them getting used to it. They don’t want to be behind their peers at school. PLUS I find Instagram/ FB and just taking a million photos/ videos in general on my phone is a brilliant way to capture moments. YOU ARE RECORDING MEMORIES, so well done you. Your children will love looking through them all when they are older.

4) Too Much Cake
Me/ children?? Both! Now, my son is really really fussy (to do with all the snacks??!), but doesn’t seem to be too fussy when it comes to cake?? Its got to a point when I feel that any sort of food I can get into him is a bonus. So I do make a lot of cakes. But I always make ones with fruit/veg in to make it “healthy” (Banana Bread, Carrot Cake, Apple Crumble, Flapjack with raisens?), therefore he’s getting one of his five a day…and you don’t have to feel bad anymore. Plus cakes have eggs in too.

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5) Eating Food Off The Floor
All I can say is….”good for the immune system”. Sometimes I rub my childs food on the floor to help protect my child against colds.

6) Talking To Friends And Ignoring Child
I love a good chat. But I’m very aware then when I meet up with other mums and kids that I talk too much and don’t pay enough attention to my child. They are called mothers meetings for a reason I guess. However, It’s good for your child to venture out on their own without you having to hold their hand, makes them confident?! Anyone that knows my mum will know she talks A LOT (sorry mum if you’re reading this), and I feel, as an adult, I am pretty patient person. Maybe this is because my mum talked so much I had to learn to wait. BUT, you know when another mum comes up to you and says “is that your son in the Lama pen”, that you maybe haven’t been paying enough attention and to tone down the chatting.

7) Not Playing Enough
This follows on nicely to this point. How much should you actually play with your child? If you play with them all the time then they will never learn to play on their own, but if you never play with them then they become neglected? I always feel that I don’t play enough with my 2 year old. I’ve discovered I’m rubbish at playing, I thought I would be a lot more fun but I’ve turned out pretty boring. BUT, I do let my son play on his own (quite a bit) telling myself that this is called “baby led play” (??????) and is VERY good for them to learn how to be by themselves and entertain themselves. By doing this I’m shaping their independence and helping them develop their imagination. Well done me??

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8) Not Enjoying Diggers/ Tractors/ Cars/ Trains/ Aeroplanes
Again, this leads nicely onto this point. I’m quite a girly girl (but like extreme sports and wearing Vans)……but always feel hugely guilty that I really don’t like playing with all the ‘boy” stuff AT ALL ie: diggers/ Tractors/ Cars/ Lego (although I know girls can be really into this too). I feel bad that I find it boring and my son finds it AMAZING but I just don’t really know how to make a fun game out of a digger…day after day after day. I really need to get stuck into boy stuff now as I’ve just had boy number 2, this will be my life. Soccer Mum. BUT by playing with dolls, putting hair clips in his hair, dressing up, going shopping….(all whilst dad is out of course) I feel I am broadening his horizons and showing him its ok to be whoever he wants to be. The whole “not being gender specific” is quite popular these days so I’m bang on trend.

9) Bribing/ Incentives
Only recently (would have started way sooner if my son had understood)) I have started using bribes. Honestly, it has opened up a whole new world for me!! You can get toddlers to do pretty much anything. I did feel bad using bribery to get him to do things, until a friend pointed out another way to look at it. They are INCENTIVES not bribes. In life its good to be able to set oneself goals and aims and rewards when you achieve them. So therefore I am basically giving my toddler drive and focus and teaching him the value of commitment and results of actions etc.

10) Too Much Time In Car
I’ve always used my car as a tool to get my toddler to sleep, then doing “the transfer” (heart in mouth, blood pumping, sweating, could kill the noisy car that drives passed just as I’m getting him out of the car and into the house). Sometimes I’d drive around (for hours) to get my son off to sleep, then park up somewhere nice and leave the engine running to keep him asleep. Now I have a baby, I use the car/ car seat to contain my toddler whilst I feed the baby. (plus feed toddler snacks to keep quiet, see point 1). So all in all we spend A LOT of time in the car (also why car is so skanky). BUT, my toddler looks out the window and sees lots of different places (we cover some miles!), people, animals…diggers, tractors, cars. This gives him experience of the outside world and see lots of different places and gives him a zest for travel. I just wouldn’t be able to cover these sort of miles of foot everyday. Also my toddler is so full of energy, that I think being contained in the car seat forces him to have some down time, which he needs.

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11) So much time feeding
Since having baby number 2, I feel so bad on my toddler that I have to spend so much time feeding him. A lovely lady at work suggested having a special bag with special toys to bring out for him whilst I feed, but then when he was feeding every 45 mins or more, the novelty soon wore off. I try and play with toddler whilst feeding but this is difficult to juggle as you are trying to dig in the sand with a digger (good at digger games??) and keep your wriggly baby on the boob with the other hand…….all whilst containing your modesty. So as a result, my toddler has to fend for himself once again. But I feel this teaches him all about mothers and milk and feeding/ babies. There was teething problems at the start where he got a bit confused and tried to latch onto my husbands nipple in the shower. But now he has really got the idea of it and likes to breast feed his own Teddy?! Also I guess this teaches him lessons on sharing ie; he has to share his mum…and share his breast milk with his teddy?!

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These are just a few of the million things I feel guilty about on a daily basis. I actually feel guilty about writing this when I should be tidying bombsite/ interacting with baby on play gym/ cooking some sort of nutritious dinner/ preparing an education game for my toddler etc………..

 

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My Birth Story

Everyone has one, to be honest, this time round mine was pretty normal……almost a beautiful (pahahaha) experience??!

So let me first remind you of Birth Story Round One (Arlo)……pre eclampsia, induction 2 weeks early, couldn’t break waters (4 diff docs tried….eventually had to call doctor with very small/ agile hands), contractions for HOURS, pushing for HOURS, baby got stuck, Ventose, Forceps, baby distressed, rushed to theatre, Emergency Spinal, Episiotomy, one last go with Forceps before C-section…….luckily baby (with brute force) came out. Baby not breathing – rushed off. Haemorrhage, blood transfusion (me), baby jaundice, tongue tie, low blood sugars, problems feeding, over a week in hospital, episiotomy infection….colic, reflux, GERD…..the whole experience was traumatic and definitely put me off having anymore children EVER

However, baby number 2 got in there somehow (!!) and had to come out. Everyone reassured me that another birth couldn’t possibly be as bad as that again??!!

Actually they were right!

So it was 20/7/17, my due date. I wanted a really exciting story ie: my waters broke as I was just about to do a sky dive (pretty sure you can still do these preggers??!!), or, my waters broke when I was in Tescos and I now get free food for life……but at 2.30 pm I was sat on the sofa watching a repeat of Loose Women with my Dad (!!!) and suddenly I said “oh I think my waters have gone”. Went to check, and it was in fact my “show” (soooo gross btw). After googling “can waters trickle out rather than gush”, I established that my waters could slowly be going / or I had lost control of my bladder also. Was pretty gutted I didn’t get the big Hollywood gush (yet), but I knew instantly that things were going to happen TODAY, just had a feeling

Waters/ pee kept trickling, until 10.30pm, I was in bed not sleeping, and I felt a “pop”. I went to the bathroom and WOSH, all my waters went. Instantly I had my first contractions. And it was a big one. They then followed fast furious after that. midwives say you should chill at home first for a bit, but I kinda knew we should get going. Action stations. First things first, mascarra (you never know who you might bump into!). This was very hard to do between contractions. My Dad arrived to look after our 2-year-old, and off we set to the hospital at 11.30pm

Of course my husband would choose the way that has the most speed bumps. Who knew these could be so painful. I just remember driving past loads of Uni students spilling out of the bars, drunk and care free really making me contemplate my life choices. Once we arrived at the hospital, literally took me about 20 mins to get up to the ward, you just cannot walk whilst you are having a contraction

My husbands brilliant idea of “oh we don’t need to call the labour ward, we will just rock up”, meant they weren’t expecting us and we had to go and sit in the waiting room….for 45 mins. I was rolling around on the floor and was sick in the bin. “THIS BABY IS COMING”, I said (yelled??) to my husband and demanded (nicely?) that he had to go and get someone, else this baby was going to start its life next to the bin I was just sick in

Finally a student midwife appeared and took me to a room with a pool. She was so lovely, but couldn’t do anything for me as she wasn’t qualified. I had FULL intentions of taking all the drugs they could give me this time (no need to experience that again). I just remember calling out “help, help, somebody help me” haha. Then “please, send help”….then “please can I have an epidural….I’ve changed my mind, I want a c-section”….then “I don’t want another baby anymore”

And then the noises. I haven’t mentioned these yet. With my first son, I’m not sure how, but I was completely silent. Maybe the occasional “fuck” , but not screaming. This time, oh my, I was SOOOOO loud. But really weird noise. First of all I sounded like a cow, then that morphed into some kind of constipated donkey noise, then into a dying Dinosaur. I couldn’t believe the noises were coming out of me, but there was nothing I could do to stop them.

So far I hadn’t even had a squirt of gas and air. I was stuck in this cycle of constant contractions with no way out, no break in between them and I felt like I was out of control. I actually wanted to shoot myself at this point. Finally a midwife came (she probably heard the donkey noises??). “oh you’re 8 cms already”….no shit! Finally she hooked up the gas and air, once I could control my breathing and had something to bite/scream into I started to feel “better”

Then something really weird happened, my whole body shuddered like a wet dog shaking its fur. My body started to push the baby out all by itself, such an odd feeling. I literally didn’t have to do anything, it was doing it all by itself. The baby was coming!! Maybe it was the lack of drugs but I could feel everything, could actually feel the head moving its way down. It was then I saw the midwives exchange looks and say “lets give Katie a fresh mat”……yes, through feeling everything, I had also felt a little poop slip out. At this point though, I really didn’t care. I wouldn’t have cared if I had farted in their faces to be honest

OOooooh the ring of fire??!! Def hadn’t felt this last time as by the time it had come to this point I had already had an emergency spinal and couldn’t feel anything. oh the burn.

“The heads out” called the midwives…..”is it ginger” I asked??!! No idea why this seemed like the right question to ask at this point, but out it came. The next push/ body shudder it was out…….ITS A BOY!!!! They passed him right up onto my chest where he has stayed pretty much ever since! Freaky bit, like a little mole he kind of scrabbled his way up to my boob for milk. I latched him on and hey presto!! Literally took me 3 months to achieve boob feeding last time.

 

That moment straight after birth when your partner is SOOOO proud of you and in awe of you is the time to strike if you really want something. Bless him, my husband was totally amazed with what I had just done, I’m pretty sure he would have done anything for me…..wish I had had a list ready of things I wanted ie: new shoes, a holiday, a ginger cat etc

So quite a textbook birth really (almost makes want to have more….JOKES), don’t get me wrong, it was VERY VERY intense and crazy painful, almost more so because it was so quick. I did tear pretty bad because of this, so few stitches to glue me back up and I was right as rain again.

I never seem to have this immediate rush of love that most mothers have as soon as their baby is born, maybe I’m in shock/ weird, but the baby just seems like an alien at the start. I do bond about 10 days later, normally have “a moment” of realisation/ love and then the rest is history:)

So there you have it, welcome to the world Kitt Leo Jonas, born at 1.46am on 21/7/17, weighing 7Ibs

Pete the Placenta was born shortly after. Unfortunately my husband accidentally saw Pete, and his words were “I wont be having steak for a while babe”

 

 

 

 

4

Life With A New Born And Toddler……

I’m back!!!

I’ve been rubbish and haven’t posted for a while, mainly because I was fat, hairy, swollen, sometimes dribbling, sweaty pregnant mess. But all is well now, albeit I cant remember what sleep is and I still look like I’m “with child” (no sorry, I’m not pregnant, I’ve actually had the baby now, its just cake)

I’m going to share my Birth Story with you in my next post, but for now I just wanted to update you all on the first few weeks of life with 2 children…..totally different ball game. Some days I feel like I’m getting it….most days I feel like I’m drowning. Sure i’ll get used to it soon? Help? Worst thing so far, what on earth do you do when both children cry at once??? I must say, not sure why God (???) didn’t invent Women that grew another arm with each child they gave birth to?!

Your Body
First of all I have a serious problem, I’m so chubby now but I just can’t for the life of me stop eating. I think I actually looked better pregnant (how long can I wear my maternity clothes for?/!) I’m not pregnancy fat now, I’m fat fat. My fat clothes from post pregnancy last time don’t even fit me:( Im actually quite upset about how rounded I am but I just cant stop shovelling chocolate in my face. Whats wrong with me??!! And it’s definitely WAY WAY worse second time round. Im afraid there is definitely no snapping back for this sack of spuds. So I have now decided I’m just going to roll with it until my 6-8 week check (maybe 8 weeks, give me more time??!). No point doing anything drastic until the doc says I’m ok right??!

Miss The Bump
Brings me onto my next point, I really miss my bump. I know now I have the real thing, but I keep waking (haha from “sleeping”) in the night and thinking I feel kicks in my belly. I still stroke it like there’s something in there (again, now just cake). Maybe it’s because I know it was the last time EVER I will be preggers (yes really), but I look at other pregnant ladies and I’m finding myself getting really jealous! You get soooo much attention when you are pregnant, such a talking point, now I’m just a normal fat person.

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New Born Phase
I must admit, I am slightly enjoying the new-born phase more this time. Apart from the relentless crying/ literally NO sleep, I’m quite enjoying having a little baby. I think the first time is such a shock to the system, but second time round I think you try to “enjoy” it more and savour it as you know how quick it goes. First time I was wishing away the new born phase as it was so horrendous. You know when you’re pregnant you kind of “round-up” the weeks…more impressive to be more pregnant ( eg. when you are 35+1day….you are 36 weeks pregnant), but I’m finding now with a new born I’m rounding it down (eg. he’s 1 day off 5 weeks but I still say “he’s ONLY a month old). People love a new born, I love the way people look at you like “awwww look at that tiny new baby”…..I don’t want him to grow and that to stop.

Life Goals
You’re new life goals become: syncing naps/ keeping 2 children alive/ brushing teeth/ clean underwear. My friend said to me you have to totally lower your expectations with 2…..that I have now done. I’m literally stoked if I’ve managed to put on one eye of mascara. I’m learning to set myself low targets….today I managed to tan my mum-tum for 15 mins outside….on my own! (Whats the expression?? Cant polish a turd?!)

Multi Tasking- Next Level
If you need to be somewhere are say 2pm…..you will need to start getting ready at 9am. S*it just takes so long now and someone always poops. I literally feel like I’m on some crazy fair ground ride constantly flitting from one thing to another like Meerkat on speed. So much coordination and JUGGLING (baby in swinging chair whilst change toddlers nappy, toddler watching Peppa Pig whilst feed baby, restrain toddler in cot whilst dress baby, baby on boob whilst YOU go to the toilet, feed toddler snacks whilst you put baby in sling to pack the bag (suitcase now actually). The list goes on. NB: Gets even more difficult when you are actually “out out”. I have a friend that used to use a toddler leash to lovingly tie her toddler up whilst she breast-fed her baby, I thought this was a wonderful idea and I’m definitely saving that for a rainy day! You remember what its like to do everything one-handed again, but you kinda feel rusty at it again. The feeling once you have both kids strapped into the car is AMAZING, I always take a min to enjoy it before actually starting the engine.

Your Toddler
Now lets move onto your toddler. First of all he WILL regress. Mine has started drinking out of baby bottles, sitting in baby chair (now broken), watching TV in the baby car seat….and insists on being swaddled?! Plus I swear he cries more than the baby? And it seems more annoying when he cries now for some reason.

When you first get home from the hospital and see your toddler again, he will seem HUGE. Like his face will just seem like a massive Elephant face. Has it always been that big? And whats happened to his head? It’s like a football! And those massive hands. It’s really like they have grown over night.

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But that moment when they first meet is honestly one of the most amazing and emotional things EVER!!

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And you must never ever ever leave your toddler in a room with your new born (not sure of that’s just my toddler?!). The first morning I learnt this after I caught him trying to feed the baby Shreddies (out of love obviously). The toddler just loves the baby SOOOO much he wants to give him kisses (eat is face), cuddle him ((belly flop on top of him), pick him up (drag him across the room by his feet), clap his hands together (pull his hands off) and tuck him up (put the blanket over his head so he can’t breath). Really don’t think he means it, but its scary sometimes. You really need something safe to put your baby in to protect him from your toddler (padded cell?)

Your toddler will become feral (like he wasn’t already??!). Discipline goes out the window and you definitely find yourself turning a blind eye to things. I misplaced my toddler at a birthday party recently, he was found underneath the party table eating crumbs off the floor. Debatable if they were actually from THAT party. Out and about breastfeeding a new born, you notice out of the corner of your eye that your toddler is grabbing fat fists full of mud and putting it down his shorts……you just have to make a decision to “deal with that later”. Better that than run across the park, new born suckered onto your nipple, other nipple standing alert in the breeze as you’ve only just realised you forgotten to put it back in from earlier.

Neglect
Your second/ new baby will become neglected. With my first baby I lovingly laid out his clothes in his BIG wardrobe, cut up all of his baby cards to make beautiful collages to go on his wall in HIS room, plastered the house in baby photos, brand new play gym/swinging chair/ cot etc, even a personalised wooden skate board to go on his door……….this time I’ve barely had time to take photos, the cards have been shoved in a draw, his (hand-me-down) clothes scrunched up in a small draws and there is no room on Arlos bedroom door for another wooden skateboard (the boys will have to share a room soon). Im still not used to having 2 children that I almost sure that at some point I WILL forget the new one. Also remember all that time you spent looking at your first born child (ie.wow we made him, isn’t he beautiful etc) you just don’t get that 2nd time round. Sounds awful but sometimes I cant even remember his name half the time…..Arlo, Rich…Lottie (the dog)??? So many names to remember.

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Mum Guilt
leads me onto the next point, MUM GUILT….it’s at an all time high. The main thing is I feel MASSIVELY guilty about throwing my toddlers world upside down by having a new baby. These are the other things I’ve felt guilty about in the last few weeks….having a baby (obvs); paying more attention to the baby; if toddler thinks I love the baby more: if baby thinks I love the toddler more: not being able to play with toddler as much; hours upon hours of breast feeding; my patience being less; less time spent cuddling toddler; more time spent feeding toddler snacks to keep quiet: a million hours of TV to keep toddler quiet; telling toddler off about touching (gentle gentle gentle….repeat) baby when he’s only trying to show love: when the baby cries; giving new baby old toddlers car seat/ baby gym/ swinging chair etc (bad on baby for old things, bad on toddler for giving baby HIS things); having to sit in the car (to contain toddler) to feed baby: not doing my silly voices at story time; not being the one to get toddler up in the morning and the first one he sees; guilty that I’m tired all the time: guilty that I keep hiding in the bathroom to eat chocolate; guilt if I’m spending time with one and not the other; forgetting new babies name; calling new baby dogs name

A Break
I’ve been very lucky and my Dad/ Mum gives me a break by taking out my toddler. I think its funny how a break becomes still having one child. If your baby is boob feeding, you literally are surgically attached to your baby for the foreseeable future. But it does actually feel like a break being left with just your baby, when did that happen?!.….makes you realise how easy you had it with “just one” the first time round…and why didn’t you find having a baby “a break” when you had your first baby?! I actually find it quite relaxing taking my baby around town now!!! When 2 children are there, you literally don’t get a chance to do anything, you’re just bouncing back and forth from one to another. IF your partner is there, then you have a child each. So basically you always have at least one child now to deal with and NEVER get a break, ever.

People Help
After countless comments of “oh you’ve got your hands full there”…people do help you when you have 2 plus children. I do feel like whenever I leave the house with both boys I have fear written all over my face,: heart punding; my eyes are bulging, I’m sweating, I’m red, my jaw is clenched, all my movements are really jerky and fast like a rabbit in the headlights. Pure focus and determination in my eyes. So thank you to the man in the doctors waiting room for bringing my toddler out of his depths of despair by showing him his walking stick… and thank you to the lady in Sainsburys for helping me pack my bags as my toddler tried climbing onto the converter belt and my babies head was flopping at a weird angle out of the sling and dangerously near to the raw chicken packet. My worst nightmare and hardest thing so far, is literally not knowing what to do when both kids are crying at once….I normally cry too.

So I’m sure it will get easier once I find my own grove and routine. After all, I’m not the first person in the world to have 2 children!!! Hats off to mums of 2 plus children!

PS.A little secret, I now keep chocolate in my bag for “incentives”….(bribes) mother of the year. You’ve literally gotta do what you’ve gotta do to survive and make things a bit easier on yourself.

PPS. And I can confirm you CAN love more than 1 child;)

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10 New Years Resolutions To My Son

1) I will no longer pick your nose, even if they are really big and right near the entrance so I could jussssst so easily and quickly hook them out with my little finger nail (that I may have grown especially for this purpose only).

2) I will not keep feeding you crackers, crisps, rice cakes, soggy biscuits (that I’m not  even sure how long have been in the bottom of the bag) and basically anything I can get my hands on to keep you quiet…..(mainly in the back of the car; 2017 I will also clean car seat). Im worried you may end up a 10 tonne whale one day if I’m not careful.

3) I will stop making you kiss girls for photos and just general “awwwww” moments for Mums.

4) I will stop using Peppa Pig as a drug to make you still and quiet so I can have a cup of tea/ lie on the sofa on Facebook.

5) Leading on from point 4, I will spend less time on my phone on Facebook/ Instagram/ Pintrest. I’m gutted you know how to use touch screen at age 19 months. You should be playing outside for gods sake.

6) I will revise names I call you as I’m thinking maybe one day they might give you a complex…….Stinky, Fatty, Ginger Nut, Smelly boy (its not your fault that your nappies REEK).

7) We will also stop playing the “don’t tell Daddy” game. Even though you look really cute with little hair clips in and bracelets on, I think Mummy may need to get a girl dog instead!

8) I will stop dressing you in baby sleep suits (by the age of 18) so you look like “my little baby” for longer. Jeans just make you look so old.

9) I will stop using the I-Pad at meal times to distract you so you will eat. You need to learn adult conversation now.

10) I will stop telling you everything is Bacon just so you will try it.

PS. I will also make it my sole purpose this year to make sure you’re wearing matching socks.

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Do I Look Mumsy In This?

Why is it whatever I wear these days makes me feel Mumsy??!! “Well Katie you ARE a Mum “is the simple answer my Husband (man of few words) will give me. Well there you go, that explains it all, no need to write this blog then.

But WHY do I feel Mumsy when I’m wearing pretty much the same wardrobe I had pre motherhood (give or take a few….BILLION…. items bought on impulse after having a baby, jacked up on hormones and in my “super Mumsy identity crisis” phase). This is a question I’ve often pondered whilst picking dry crusty Wheetabix out of my hair, simultaneously frantically digging through mountains of clothes exclaiming I have NOTHING to wear.

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Do other Mums feel like this???

Is this a midlife crisis?

Am I screaming out “MUM” even when I am without child??

Is it time to re-invent oneself?

Reality check…….have you possibly just let yourself go? Chocolate cake for breakfast is actually NOT a good idea/ example to set?

So many questions.

Right, here’s whats been going on:

Your body has changed
Lets start with the tummy. Try as you might it will never be quite the same as it was. Even if you are back to your pre pregnancy weight and same waist size, it will never be quite as tight as before (was it ever tight or is this just a rose-tinted version of yourself you have created, actually you looked the spitting image of Miss Universe 2016). That gap in-between your tummy muscles is STILL there, your tummy skin is unfortunately like a deflated pink balloon and your belly button looks like ETs finger. Anyway, no more crop tops (??!!) or skin-tight tops (apart from those ones that have secret structural scaffolding). Tops that flow nicely over (hide) tummy are the style of choice these days. I’m sure I have shrunk height wise a little too?? Maybe when you are a pregnant WHALE it compresses your joints together?? To hold the baby inside you ( WE ARE SO CLEVER), hips also get wider. And goes without saying, you look a lot more tired these days and on some particularly bad days, you have even aged by 50 years. So with all these changes to your appearance of course clothes are going look different on you now. Well that is a good excuse to buy a whole new wardrobe if ever I heard one!!

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Boobs
For starters, you’ve gone from average size boobs, to monster-cant-even-be-contained-in-a-bra breast-feeding boobs…….to disappointing empty Tetley Tea bag boobs. Clothes look totally different with different boobs and you just cant keep up with it. You feel you should take the opportunity to flaunt your newly enlarged BF boobs, but then feel extremely guilty as this is perhaps wrong (??) and they aren’t real anyway ie: filled with milk. Then you realise, even though you have Jordan type boobs, the rest of you body is more likened to a Sloth. You just look odd. And no matter how hard you’ve tried to be consistent with BF sides, you are still lopsided, not such a great look. Then once all this palava is over, you are left with nothing. The expressing machine cant get anything out of them, your baby has given up trying and unfortunately there is nothing you can do to “cheer them up”. The thought may even cross your mind to have another baby just to get them back….are you crazy??!

See your body in a different way
YOU’VE GROWN A HUMAN IN THERE….RESPECT. I look in the mirror sometimes (after the self loathing and tugging at excess skin has finished) and think “wow, I grew an actual baby in there”. Just knowing what you can do, well what women can do, makes you feel your body is less like a sex machine (!!!) and more like a holy shrine to be worshipped and appreciated. It sometimes feels bad flaunting this serene “temple”. It becomes less important to look good and more important to realise what we are capable of.

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Mutton Dressed as Lamb
You are constantly in this grey area of “am I dressing too young/ am I dressing too old”. The balance just never feels right. I fear I have been over compensating since becoming a Mum and trying to dress younger. Its like I need to make a statement that I am still cool and down with the kids??! Backward baseball caps and tie dye shoes sometimes make me feel like mutton dressed as lamb. Its like I am in total denial that I’m over 30 (21 to those who ask), have a child and a house. Should I be dressing more respectfully now I’m a Mum? My skirts should be a little longer, no flaunting of cleavage (what cleavage), swimming costumes over bikini, no rips in jeans and defo no tops with side boobs??! I do feel like I can’t carry certain items off now I am a mum. Might be me over thinking things, but  do people almost expect you to dress more appropriately now you’re a mum. ANYWAY, we need to come to terms with the fact we ARE Mums and in a new category now…..The MILF Category. Accept it and work it!

No time to dress
Dressing is no longer a pleasurable thing. It’s a necessity. You have to wear clothes to go to Tescos. Spending hours deliberating on what scarf to wear with what top, what jeans flatter you the most and what necklace brings out your eyes, are days of the past. Most of the time its a case of just grabbing whats on the top of the unwashed/ unfolded/ scrunched clothes pile (BTW that you have worn for the last 3 days) with one hand, whilst trying to retrieve your favourite earrings from the nappy (possibly poohy) of your toddler with the other hand.  A lot of the time this could lead to accidentally standing in front of your bedroom window (that faces the road PLUS neighbours) with no bra on. Yes you could be more organised and devise an outfit the night before once your child is in bed, but who can be bothered with that?! So in my eyes, if it hasn’t got puke (visible) or sh*t (smellable) on it, its ok to wear.

More aware of brand clichés
There are certain brands that are considered “Mumsy”. These brands I actually really love and before becoming a Mum would not of hesitated to buy (if I had lots of money). But now I think twice about whether, for example, a Joules rain coat or Kath Cidson bag would make me look Mumsy. I guess they are tailored to suit Mums and fulfil our needs at this time (Cath Kidson= wipeable bags, Joules= practical/happy rain coats/ flattering fits). PS. I have a Cath Kidson Bag AND Joules Wellies. You do somehow just feel more drawn towards these Mumsy brands.

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Personal grooming/ different priorities
The “other things” that make clothes look good and YOU look good is personal grooming eg. actually brushing your hair, remembering to brush your teeth, shaving your gorilla (extra layer to keep warm) legs, completing your make up routine thus achieving TWO eyes of mascarra, wearing jewellery that isn’t going to be used as a rope swing, DIY on your mono brow, showering, considering shoes you don’t have to run in  …..non of this matters now. It’s all about being quick and practical with your decisions and personal grooming. Your priorities aren’t your appearance anymore, its stopping your child drinking toilet water and painting the dog purple.

Shopping
The past time of shopping itself isn’t an enjoyable activity AT ALL with a toddler in tow. You need to be focused. It’s about knowing exactly what you want and GRABBING. Knowing that you maybe have a window of 15 mins to do EVERYTHING makes shopping a different mpre stressful ball game. Super Market Sweep anyone?! However you’ve realised actually its way more fun shopping for your child anyway. This can be done quite nicely from your I-Phone in the comfort of your own home. And have you thought about the reason you may now be attracted to younger clothes??? Perhaps not an identity cries, but you are spending a lot more time surrounded by kids clothes these days you have actually forgotten that there’s a whole other universe out there (including Topshop, HM, Urban Outfitters etc).

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“Twinning”
You do lose confidence in your own judgement of dressing yourself when you become a mum, so an easy and FUN option is to just dress the same as your child. Then it’s just seen as cute (cheesy) and you can’t be blamed for dressing to young and your child cant be blamed for dressing to old. You just look awesome!!

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In mourning
You cant help but always compare yourself to your pre baby body/ life and try as you might, you just cant let go. Don’t torture yourself, don’t put a pre pregnancy bikini photo up of yourself on the chocolate cupboard, don’t troll through FB looking at younger/slimmer pictures of yourself (and FB stop “reminding” me of these skinny memories), don’t reminisce over old fancy dress items (why did you always have to make everything slutty?!), don’t keep prodding at your skin and considering chopping parts off and don’t whatever you do, weigh yourself……whilst shovelling carrot cake into your moth (technically vegetables). Easier said then done but just be amazed at what you have achieved (grown a real life human- GIRL POWER) and how your kid is the most important thing now. Once you stop trying to be the old you, you should feel more content. I’m still not there yet and in my “mutton dressed as lamb” phase….for the foresable future.

CONCLUSION
So as this is a very confusing time for us new Mums, it totally justifies excessive purchasing (online preferable) to experiment with our new identity. This is for your mental well-being therefore well-being of your child. Their future is in YOUR (credit card) hands so you MUST buy that new dress.

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“It’s Just Phase”

“It’s just a phase” is an explanation I hear over and over again when referring to babies/ toddlers weird and wonderful habits they develop. Each of these behaviours WILL eventually pass, soon to be replaced with another. Some seem common for most children to encounter at some stage, whilst others are lets just say “quirky” and really make you question if it’s something you have done to provoke it. For example, I have never eaten dog poo in front of my child (or indeed without him there, or ever in my life) but yet, this was “a phase” he unfortunately went through.

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Whilst you are in the midst of The Phase it can be frustrating. Very frustrating. They vary in length and severity. So here are some of the phases I have experienced so far and possible ways in which you could deal with them:

The “Refusing to eat but will eat food off the floor” phase
You do everything the right way, you follow the Annabel Karmel book like a bible, you make all the appropriate mmmmmm noises with food, but still, your child goes through so many phases of not eating. Freaks me out because: 1. I think he’s going to wake in the night hungry therefore NOT SLEEP: 2. Confirms my fear that I am actually the worst cook in the world: 3. He’s going to be a fussy eater and IT’S ALL MY FAULT. I’ve found myself doing anything to try and get food into my son. So if he would ONLY eat it off the floor underneath his high chair, then so be it. Has this come from seeing me do the “5 second rule? Ok 10 seconds?? Who knows.

Solution: Clean floor before meal time. Casually drop some nice nutritious food on the floor after he point-blank refuses to eat anything you are trying to feed him. Try again to feed him. Give up, take him out of high chair and turn a blind eye to the fact he is delving into the 3 course dinner you have left on the floor. Make sure he’s had his fill then suddenly “catch him” and explain that it’s dirty to eat food off the floor.  NB: Does create bad habits with floor food eating and a confused child.

The “Not wanting to be fed but not being able to feed self” phase
Another frustrating phase surrounding food, actually the bane of my life these days. At the ripe old age of 8 months (age varies), my son decided that he was totally old enough to feed himself. Non of this food however made it successfully into his mouth, resulting in a grumpy hungry child (and a poor dog cover in food). Grumpy hungry child will put up resistance if YOU try to feed him, no matter how hungry he is. This does get better as they get older and their hand/ eye co-ordination improves. But then comes the “wanting to only feed self by spoon” phase, whole different ball game.

Solution: The only thing for it is to make 20 times more food than you actually need in the hope that maybe 5% of it will make it into their mouths. The “one spoon for them one spoon for you” technique to try and sneak food in whilst they are concentrating on fondling the spoon/ food. Raid all cupboards in the house frantically cooking all food possible to see if it’s actually your cooking they are refusing to eat.

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The “Not wanting to walk but not wanting to go in buggy” phase
This normally ends up with huge/ heavy/ wriggly toddler in one arm, whilst pushing buggy with other arm. Loosing count of how many times you have switched from buggy-walking-carrying-buggy. Just nothing is quite right for them.

Solution: Don’t leave the house.

The “Not brushing teeth” phase
Still in this phase.You’ve got to brush your teeth mate or else you’ll end up with dentures by the age of 5 and you will bankrupt the Tooth Fairy.

Solution: Keep buying a million different toothbrushes/ tooth pastes to keep things interesting (also as they keep throwing them down the toilet). Close toilet lid. Use YOUR toothbrush if he refuses his own (make sure you haven’t got any diseases). A toothbrush with a little sucker on the end so it sticks to things makes it more appealing somehow. Get everyone in the whole family to brush teeth at same time making it look like a really fun, happy activity. Distract child by any means possible whilst you try and sneak a quick brush in. One person pins down child whilst other person brushes, this does seem to make it worse though, so actually wouldn’t recommend this. Just try and get at least some tooth paste into the mouth, that must at least do something right?

The “Pulling up top and poking belly button” phase
All fun and games learning where your belly button is and showing how mummy has one too, and daddy for that matter. Child must then check every other person IN THE WORLD to make sure they have one also. The technique for this is pulling up a victims top to reveal (flabby, white) tummy. At home, ok no problem, out in public not so fun, other people/strangers……hopefully ground will open up and swallow me.

Solution: Make sure everyone you could possibly come into contact with that day is in fact wearing a body suit that can’t be lifted up and buttons underneath.

The “Weaning off Ice-cream” phase
I’m not sure if others have fallen into the trap of their child point-blank refusing to eat anything but Ice-Cream? When my son gets poorly with a sore throat/ cough I like to help soothe it with Ice-Cream. Medical reasons. Sometimes this will be the only thing I can get him to eat. Better than nothing at all I figured? But then we go through the awful stage of when he gets better and he has become totally addicted to Ice-Cream. So begins the Ice-Cream weaning.

Solution: Cold turkey is not a good plan, after all they have somehow discovered where the Ice-Cream lives, how to open the freezer door, and how to get the Ice-Cream out. So advanced. You need to do the weaning gradually. Mix the ice cream with what ever food you want them to eat, gradually decreasing the quantity of Ice-Cream. Can also feed them their dinner out if the Ice-Cream tub to confuse them. Change hiding place of Ice-Cream, better yet, be a good parent and eat it all the Ice Cream in the entire house to remove the temptation from you child.

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The “Bin obsession” phase
Where on earth has this one come from? I guess it must be intriguing for them as to where stuff goes once its purpose has been served. Why do we keep putting things that THEY WOULD HAVE PLAYED WITH in that forbidden place. It basically must be another toy chest in a parallel universe that they must investigate. And what is that word “dirty”. That must mean it’s REALLY good in there. When the Bin Men come here on a Friday it’s like the Oscars. Big event. Bought me 10 minutes on Friday whilst my son watched them from the window. Bins are just the best, any bin, anytime, any where.

Solution: Buy toy bin? Say word “dirty” like a trillion times? Move location of bins. Remove child from bin. Stop buying toys and give child rubbish instead. Spend loads of money on a child proof bin. Take child to re-cycling centre, baby bin heaven. Call local council and see if Bin Men will come everyday to take bins so you can have a HOT cup of tea in peace.

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The “Discovering willy” phase (only applies to boys)
Wow the amount of things they can do with it once they find it is impressive. I had no idea they were that stretchy! Any opportunity seriously. As soon as that nappy comes off, slapping, pinging, wanging, twanging, swatting, twirling, swinging and twearking: fun times. Even tries to get to it with nappy on and looks like Micheal Jackson.

Solution: Let them go wild I guess?!

The “Putting everything in the toilet/ bath/ any water” phase
Nothing is safe. Not only do you have to baby proof your house. You have to remove all objects that could possible get damaged through being immersed in water. And these toddlers are quick, before you know it they have whisked Teddy Dumpling off the bed and into the front crawl position in the bath. As I’ve mentioned before, toothbrushes and other items of dislike regularly meet their fate in the loo. So paranoid about my phone going swimming, or as we had a close call with the other day, our passports. Try explaining that to immigration.

Solution: Obvious solutions, close toilet lid, buy padlock for toilet lid, only have showers, buy a bath cover, like a swimming pool cover, do these exist? Give up and let them go wild but remove valuable items. NB: sometimes toilets already have “deposits” in. Must always flush toilet (thank you Lauren for the photo and the inspiration).

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The” Dog poo eating” phase
As mentioned before, this was a most unfortunate phase. It only happened twice (I’m aware of) and actually caused slight panic and a desperate call to 111. The really worrying thing with this incident was that my son really seemed to be enjoying it, and was most upset when I took it off him. Then went back for round 2 the next day, seemed to have developed a taste for it. Such a bad mum, how did this keep happening? Doctors are going to think I’m an awful Mother and husband will definately divorce me (good job he never reads my blogs).

Solution: Cook food in dog poo like colour/shape? Maybe that was the appealing thing? Clean out mouth with soap and water, defo wont be doing that again in a hurry. ALWAYS check any outside area for dog poo. NEVER take your eyes off your child, ever (quietness is a bad sign). Make sure all dogs in the world have been wormed just incase. Teach dogs to poo in the toilet and flush.

The “Growling” phase
Did he in fact pick this up from the dog? I don’t remember growling that much in front of him. Obviously he would pick the best times to perform his party trick (ie. in a deathly quiet Library, no I haven’t bought my dog in here). They do experiment with their voices, some noise are cute, whereas others are kind of embarrassing and I never quite know what to do when it happens.

Solution: Growl back, they are trying to communicate with you. Take dog everywhere with you to cover up noise in public (dogs aren’t allowed in Library though). Congratulate child for being so clever and discovering new noise, but encourage other noises instead, maybe a sheep?

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The “obsession with feet/ socks/ shoes…normally other people’s” phase
For us this started off with the nibbling of his own toes. Swiftly moving onto other people’s toes. Funny at the start yes, not so endearing when he did the rounds at the baby groups to have a taste of everyone’s feet. Then the obsession with pulling socks off begins, starts with theirs, moves onto others. Soon you have a small gathering of odd socks in your washing that you have never actually seen if your life, how on earth did they smuggle all these little cheesy souvenirs home??! None of their socks match anymore (yours haven’t for years but you started your child’s life with all good intentions) and you’ve probably single-handedly keep Tescos in business through your sock purchasing. This then moves onto shoes, same deal, more expensive, more anger involved. Then they start using shoes as a tool to tell you things ie: TAKE ME OUT. Then they start hiding your shoes, insisting taking a shoe out with them, eating shoes, throwing shoes, any chance to hold a shoe, sleeping with a shoe, it’s just all about shoes, SHOES SHOES SHOES (a man after my own heart it would seem?!)

Solution: Don’t leave any shoes of value within reach/ sight of child. Resign yourself to the fact that you may have to, on occasion, go out with odd shoes (no one will notice). Never spend much money on shoes (yours, theirs). Hope this isn’t some weird foot fetish. Get child into Reflexology Training asap. Might as well make it into a career.

Are any of these yours……

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The “Posting” phase
Following on from the loosing of shoes/ socks. Have you ever considered they may have been “posted” somewhere. A term used for the hiding of an item by your child by posting it through a gap/ hole. So many things have been lost to the other side. Forever fiding things in unusual places: knickers in the peg bag, remote control in the watering can and half eaten rusks in shoes. Once you have been clever and discovered their favourite posting place, they change it. Always one step ahead of you Mum.

Solution: Cover all gaps/ holes in house. Put tracking devices on ALL items. Again, watch child at all times.

And lastly the “Taking off nappy” phase
Only just entering into this phase and I fear it could be a tough one re: nap/ bedtimes- undressing oneself to become comando in cot, which in turn could lead to a very dirty/ wet/ smelly cot and or child. Also leads to lovely little surprises left around the house for you if this happens during the day. Tip: follow the smell.

NB: Can come hand in hand with the “Discovering Willy” phase

Solution: Complicated clothes. Gaffa Tape?!

I’m sure there are many many more phases to come, but lets look at it in a positive way: it keeps things interesting, keeps us on our toes and prevents us from drinking too many hot cups of tea….which would obviously be bad for us.

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Breast Feeding Uncovered!!!!

At only a couple months old, Arlo got his first taste of solid food….Red Velvet Cake!! It fell onto my nipple whilst breast feeding and before I could stop him, the little bugger had suckered it up!!! A taste sensation for the young baby, but panic for me. I’m sure Red Velvet Cake wasn’t allowed this early??! Why hadn’t they warm me about this in my Ante Natal classes? I had no idea that this could even be a potential danger whilst BF.

So I wanted to write my own guide to BF through my experience, things that they don’t tell you in the classes. Although nothing I have learnt would have affected my decision to give BF a good go, there are things I wished I had known before so I could mentally and physically prepare myself for what was about to hit me…….

****But before go on, I just want to say that I feel very lucky that I have been able to BF as I know it’s not physically possible for a lot of mothers, even though they have practically sold their soul through trying.  I love Breast Feeding (now), but it was a very long, painful and emotional battle to begin with and I know how hard it can be. I think anyone that even tries it deserves a medal!!  I am now one year on and still going…. initially I told myself 3 months, then 6, then 1 year…….now I cant stop…..actually beginning to worry he’s going to be a teenager before I can stop!!******

So let me start with an important point……

You will eat a lot of cake! Something about Breast Feeding makes you crave sugar, like you’ve never craved it before. I could’ve happily had cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unfortunately this “healthy” diet makes you a bit plump around the edges, not pregnancy fat but actually fat fat! I kept telling myself that I needed to have the extra weight/ calories to feed another human?! Apparently you burn an extra 500 calories a day whilst BF, thats like 2 slices of cake. Totally justified. Then when you meet up with other mums, its an un written rule that there is ALWAYS cake involved. Some would believe that perhaps Arlo didn’t sleep for the first few months as he was high as a kite on sugar from all the cake I ate???! They eat what you eat (ps. having a very small whiskey in the hope that it might help your baby go to sleep unfortunately does not work).

This brings me onto the next point…..

You will get fat. None of this ” the baby weight just drops off you when you BF” malarky. That really didn’t happen for me. The fact of eating whole Chocolate Gateaus for breakfast and being chained to the sofa 24/7 feeding a milk monster, meant there was certainly no weight loss in the first few months. In fact, there is even a Katie/ cake shaped dent in the sofa now where I used to sit for hours. We created an “eating chain”, I would feed Arlo, Rich would feed me, and Rich….well he would feed himself. Bon appetite!

It’s a battle to begin with. I always thought, boom, pop out a sprog then attach them onto your boob. Not that easy. Some babies are total naturals and just know what to do somehow. However some babies are a lot more challenging. I remember this “moment” in the hospital when I realised any little shred of dignity I had was now gone;  I looked down and I was totally naked, a Catheter in, I was hemorrhaging/ having a blood transfusion. I was milking myself on one side with Rich trying to get the couple drops of colostrum into a syringe. Then the midwife was on the other side, also milking me. I hadn’t look into a mirror since I had become a mother and certainly hadn’t brushed my teeth for at least 3 days. Lush. Then some visitors arrived… “Hiya!!!”

Try as I might little Arlo just wouldn’t take the boob. JUST TAKE IT GOD DAMMIT!!! I was that annoying person that rang the buzzer every half hour “my baby wont latch on”. Then they discovered he had a tongue tie. That snipped, and he still wasn’t having it. His blood sugar was low and he was shaking/ screaming, then he was jaundice etc etc. A week later and we were finally released from hospital, still not really having a BF baby. My milk was massively delayed due to a traumatic birth (aren’t they all traumatic??!) After visiting every breast feeding clinic under the sun and having countless professionals watching my “technique”, we finally cracked it. But I honestly think it was a good few weeks before he learnt to latch on properly. And probably 3 months before I actually started to enjoy it.

Milk Drunk. Is the best thing ever. Appreciate it as it doesn’t last forever.

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It hurts SO much!!! They all go on about “Breast is Best” but no one tells you how bloody painful it is. There were points that I felt like my nipples were actually going to fall off (I asked my husband if he would still love me if I had no nipples, he said he would, this gave me the strength to carry on). There’s blood, there’s blisters, there’s lumps, there’s rocks, there’s milk spurting everywhere….and then there’s no milk at all. You’ve tried that purple cream that no one quite knows the name of, cabbage leaves, nipple shields, ice, salt water boob baths…..a nipple massage….but alas. Should’ve dipped the nipples in acid in preparation (someone told me this worked??). When Arlo used to latch on at the start I really had to hold back from wanting to throw him across the room. I found biting down on something helped. I just really could not see why people enjoyed this??? And although the pain does get better over time, it keeps coming back; cluster feeding, nipple twanging, using nipple as dummy, teething/ teeth, milk blisters, Rusty Pipe Syndrome (an actual thing, google it!!!), mastitis, blocked ducts……At one point Arlo was treated to Strawberry Milkshake as there was lots of blood in my milk ( apparently its fine for them to drink still).

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It’s really awkward. When trying to figure out feeding positions I found I pretty much had to be topless at the start to try and manoeuvre him around. And at the start is when you get the most visitors, so this just ends up really awkward too. Friends boyfriends/ father-in-laws don’t quite know where to look??!! Plus the fact you cant really sit down after child birth (esp. after an episiotomy…..that goes wrong, ouch!) so trying to get into a feeding position whilst avoiding sitting on that area can be most difficult. But then you find “your position” and it starts to feel more natural. So next you have to master how to do it discreetly out and about. At the start the only way I could keep myself concealed was to create an actual tent with a muslin over my head and the baby. In hindsight this probably drew more attention to us.

Remember to put your nipple back in. With painful nipples, there is nothing better than just walking round the house O-Natural and getting some air on them. You must remember you have windows/ neighbours and that people do knock on your door. Even if you’ve managed to put a top on that day, remember to put your nipple back into the top before answering the door if you are interrupted half way through a feed. Postman of Exeter, I’m sorry.

Watch out for Hickies/ Love Bites. At the start the babies don’t know their noes from their toe, their elbow from their knee and their willy from their ear (if a boy baby). Unfortunately they might also confuse your nipple for other parts of your body and accidentally suction themselves onto it. Think the professional term for this is “Nipple Confusion”. And wow they have a strong suck! I had a lovely little love bite on my neck when Arlo was in his confused newborn state. Im sure people must have thought this was an odd stage of my life to be getting hickies. Who knew that this was something to be aware of.

You learn to do everything with a baby attached to your nipple. Then when they finally learn to attach to your nipple, they want to have it in their mouth CONSTANTLY. So you learn to do everything with them attached. This includes: making cups of tea, going to the toilet, opening the front door, phone calls with friends, cooking (pahaha who are you kidding…..unwrapping chocolate bars), cleaning (as if). You are really taking muti tasking to the next level!  NB: This obviously gets harder as the baby gets bigger. You may even go through the phase of “the baby will only sleep with my nipple in his mouth”. If you can sleep through a little Piranha suckling away for the night then amazing, but I couldn’t master it. You try the “swap nipple for dummy really quickly” technique, but they always notice.

Then they will get more wriggly. At the start I could literally do anything with my baby attached to my boob (even the full make up routine at one point, feed from left boob, mascarra with right hand).  Make the most of this. It gets harder. It begins with gentle “pawing” but then over the months moves onto kicking, pinching, thrashing, arching back, hair pulling, fingers in your mouth, playing with other nipple, watching other people whilst feeding, using nipple to help go for a poo, and how on earth has he learnt to blow raspberries on my nipples?? This also makes it harder to do discreetly in public as they like to whip the muslin off/ top up without a moments notice. I used to be able to eat a full dinner whilst he fed, now he thrashes around so much I cant even send a text message. If people are wondering why I have been “liking” so many things on Facebook recently, blame it on Arlos flailing arms.

It takes you to some interesting places. It’s a great tool to have as you can literally do it anywhere. But then on the flip-side, it does mean when your baby wants boob, you have to stop in your tracks and whip them out. This means feeding in some pretty interesting places. Some of mine include on the loo, on the beach, in the car, on a ski chair lift/ walking off ski chair lift (see photos), on a cliff, behind a tree, in a field, in a swimming pool, shop changing rooms and on a bus….

Again, this brings me onto the next point…..

Take a feeding backpack around the house with you. When you get struck down for a feed, you want to make sure you have everything with you. You could well be in for the long haul, especially in those early stages. So just carry a little back pack around the house with you, just to make sure you are ready. In your bag you will need……your phone,  the TV remote, a TV,  a bottle of water (wine), CAKE (obviously), tissues (emotions are still all over the place, WHY ARE YOU CRYING AT JEREMY KYLE???!!), book/ magazines, bank card (perfect time for internet shopping) and muslins (bound to be milk and puke). I always like to have lots of cushions within arms reach so you can prop yourself up and make a little BF den around you.

At some point you WILL spill that tea over the feeding baby. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a cup of tea go cold (actually when was the last time I had a hot cup of tea??!!) whilst you are confined to the couch with a feeding baby. So trying to ignore the feelings of “I’m such a bad mother”, you try to drink the HOT cup of tea over you milk guzzling baby. Even thought you’re so careful and it’s never happened before, one of those times you WILL accidentally pour tea over your baby. And even though your baby hasn’t even noticed and its only on their baby grow, you feel like such a bad mother:(

Milk in tea. If you are sleep deprived, and if you have expressed some milk and left it in the fridge, at some point you will really have to question yourself “what milk did I just use for my friends tea??”

You will attract animals. Have I ever told you the story about my friends BF cat??! Well lets just say, cats love milk and she found she had company every time she fed her baby. She once woke up, baby asleep, cat licking dried milk off her nipple………This also applied to my mums dog who would always settle herself on the feeding pillow next to Arlo. A bit odd but quite nice at the same time. So keep an eye on the animals and just make sure they know their boundaries. Remember, they were BF once too and nipple confusion is a serious condition.

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Babies smell the milk. This is what everyone kept telling me. I wondered why Arlo would cry way more when he was with me. I thought he maybe just didn’t like me, but apparently they have this amazing sense of smell and they can smell your milk. So they just think of you as a milk cow, and want to graze whenever they are with you.

Milk squirts. I’ve never really had massively leaky boobs, but I do remember at the start they used to squirt sometimes. I managed to get Arlo a good one in the eye accidentally and also my husband one just for fun. But squirting is actually a good tool to have as milk can be used to cure medical conditions ( it’s good for everything apparently, people even sell it). I used it to help with Arlos conjunctivitis, my friends spots, my dry skin………FREE MILK FOR EVERYONE!!!!

Only get small windows of time to do things. At the start you really can be BF CONSTANTLY. Then eventually it mellows out and you can actually put clothes on and leave the house. But I found I only got 1 hour gaps to do things. For instance, I could go to the gym…..feed in the car park outside the gym, put him into the creche for an hour whilst I worked out (watched Loose Women whilst on Granny Bike). Then I would quickly retrieve my baby from Creche, mad dash to car, then feed again in car park.

Feeding to sleep. BF is going great, you’ve really got into it. Good thing to help get your little one get off to sleep. The midwife is happy, you’re happy, your baby is happy. Then it all changes (maybe around 6 months), and all of a sudden its a bad thing to feed your baby to sleep??! But you have no idea how else to get your baby to sleep. Little suckle on you, then a snooze, or if you’re brave, “THE TRANSFER” from boob to bed. Then when they wake in the night, a quick boob and they are back off to sleep, job done! I’m not sure why, but somehow you feel this pressure that this isn’t the right thing to be doing and your baby should learn how to self settle etc. BUT, i’ll let you in on a little secret, 1 year old and we still feed him to sleep at night. Oh well, sure he will grow out of it one day!

You don’t know how to comfort other than boob. Everyone told me to “feed on demand”. I had no idea which cry meant what, so basically anytime he cried I would feed him. At times, milk was practically coming out of his ears. It’s an amazing way to comfort your baby  and to stop them crying so you can talk to your friend!! But it does mean that I didn’t really learn other ways to comfort him. It was all too easy to just stick my boob in his mouth. And because he got so used to that being the way I made him feel better, he would scream and scream until he got it. Nothing else would do. Still to this very day its my go-to method for comforting him. However this does concern me as I don’t want him to think that the whole way through his life he can have a suckle on a nipple anytime he’s feeling low!!!

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Write off the first 6 months if you’re BF. You are literally their only source of food, which is a nice feeling to have that they NEED YOU. But it does mean you have to sacrifice yourself to them completely. You need to be on hand to feed them for the first 6 months. If they take a bottle AMAZING, you can have a break. If not, you are milk-on-tap.It is an amazing feeling though to know that your boobs alone have grown this little human.

Cluster Feeding. At no point did anyone at all mention the phrase “Cluster Feeding”. I had no idea why my baby between the hours of 5-12pm was behaving like he was at a “Drink The Bar Dry” party. After much googling, I discovered it was an actual thing! Babies Cluster Feed (meaning feed continuously) to try and increase your milk supply and set them up for the night. Or if they are having a “growth spurt” (term for anything wrong with a baby). This doesn’t help the nipple situation in the slightest. So most evenings you will need to be a feeding machine, get a good box set (remote control within reaching distance) and some good snacks and just roll with it.

Partners get out of night times. It is true that if you BF that your partner cant really help at night. After all, it would be very concerning if they had Moobs (man-boobs) with milk in??! But I do feel that this can be an easy cop out for the men a lot of the time. So even though you know its your choice to BF, you can’t help feeling angry and resentful towards them as they sleep peacefully whilst your baby is up for a feed for the 7th time that night. I would recommend  a lot of loud huffing and puffing and mumbling stuff under your breath so THEY KNOW YOU’RE ANGRY.

Can only wear clothes you can BF in. So pretty much write off most of your wardrobe. None of those lovely little dress (have to lift the whole thing up to feed!!), tight tops, maxi dresses etc (jump suits are the worst!!) You need to wear something that has easy boob access and you don’t mind having milk puke on. Plus, you probs wont fit into any of your old clothes anyway as your boobs are so HUGE. So unless you can afford to buy a whole new BF collection, you end up wearing the same old feeding tops allllll the time. Also, feeding bras make you look like a granny. Just to warn you.

Expressing. If you’ve mastered this then it means you can have a break, yeeeeeey!!! But its SO hard to fit expressing into a routine of also feeding a milk hungry baby. It may take you a few days (weeks) to build up a supply in the freezer long enough to leave them for a day. Then you have to take into account that you will need to continue to express whilst you are away so your boobs don’t explode/ your supply doesn’t drop. This isn’t alway easy. If you use an electric pump, you will need a plug. These always seem to be in public places. And expressing machines aren’t the quietist of things. Only a couple days ago I had to hang out in the disabled toilet at Munich Airport for 30 mins, pumping and dumping my milk (seemed such a waste!!). It sounded like an aeroplane taking off in there, but it was a hell of a lot better than the middle of the departure lounge (see photo). Once I went on a night out (bed by 10). Whilst my friends were getting ready I was milking myself. I didn’t want to waste my milk so joked about taking it out in my handbag so I could take it back home with me. I was going to ask the bar man to put in in a bucket of ice for me to keep it fresh!!!!!!

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Teeth. Then they get teeth. Enough said.

What you’re left with. Then you come to the end of your breast feeding journey and start to massivley reduce the feeds. Unfortunately your Pamala Anderson physique has been replaced with what can only be described as empty tea bags. Lopsided ones at that. Your boobs may never be the same again and your nipples are unrecognisable. But it’s so worth it, you feel like you’ve done the right thing, a small sacrifice to make for your baby. Although wish I had appreciated my boobs a lot more pre BF. If only I’d known!!!

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What now?! Now I feel like I have turned into a total hippy and I never want to give up BF. Its so easy/ portable and I love the time it gives me to cuddle Arlo. I keep making excuses to keep going……. after his next injections…..after the next holiday (will need on the flight for air pressure)…….once he’s walking…..once he’s finished teething…….when he goes to University (hahahah only joking). But you know what, he likes it, I like it, I’m managing to juggle it around working, so I might just keep going for a bit:)