One Year of Motherhood

Hello! It’s been a while!

Something I have to discuss first. A while ago I was asked if I was bored. Bored? I thought I had misheard them. I’m not quite sure where that idea ever came from. Among the one hundred things I am, I’m not sure when I would even have the time to sit and think, ‘you know, I feel bored.’

I’ve been mulling it over for a while now, and to be honest it even put me off blogging. But then I remembered all the people who have told me they have found comfort, or a giggle in reading my thoughts, so I’ve decided I’m not going to let peoples misconceptions inhibit my life. (New Years Resolution Number 1, tick!)

Working two jobs, doing a part time degree, mentoring, church commitments, never mind a baby, a husband and household duties, my life must not be considered interesting enough or alternative enough to keep me busy. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Anyway, now that I’ve said my piece, One year of Motherhood. Where to start?! One year of sleepless nights, constant worry, baby brain (yes, it does last this long) and having a to do list that never seems to get shorter no matter how much I achieve in my day. But it’s also been a year of cuddling, smiling, and being amazed as I watch Archer grow into such an incredible wee man so quickly. Here’s a few things about our first year of parenting.

Naturally, the year has had highlights and lowlights. I was told ‘the days are long but the years are quick’ so many times by different people. Before I had Archer, I would have shrugged it off, not understanding what it really meant, but oh my days I know what it means now. There are some days, that genuinely don’t seem to end. Tantrums or feedings have been constant, or you’ve sang their favourite song 100 times and you’re certain its time to go to bed only to realise its 2pm and you haven’t even thought about lunch yet. Then somehow, you realise they have learnt 5 new things and seem practically ready to fly the nest. (Obviously I’m not keen on exaggerating) You are sure it was only yesterday they couldn’t crawl, yet they’re walking about the room as if they’ve always known how. It is crazy, but this year has been lightening quick.

I’ve already said it, but watching Archer grow has definitely been my highlight of his first year. His first smile, first laugh, first crawl, first steps…. such amazing memories have been made!

My lowlight has to be when Archer has been sick. We’ve had a bad few weeks with reoccurring croup and the chicken pox…. it’s been so hard to watch him struggle, especially when he’s still trying to give a wee smile among his tears and breathing troubles!

This year I have learnt that things can wait. Laundry can wait. Cleaning can wait. Getting dressed can wait. But babies need cuddles and babies can’t wait.

One big question I had before Archer was born was how our marriage would be affected. As a whole, we definitely have had to make changes. Having intentional conversations. It’s amazing how quickly things change and the only thing you and your partner talk about are nappies and feeding. It has most certainly been a learning curve, but making time for each other separate from our baby is becoming natural, and so important to us. I’ve also gained so much appreciation and respect for my husband. I’ve said it a hundred times before, but he was our hero throughout labour and coming home from the hospital. I’m so thankful for how he cared, and still cares for us.

Our parenting style is completely baby led. We figured that since babies don’t come with manuals, we would just let him tell us what he needs. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t rule the roost in our house, we believe in fairly disciplining and guiding him, but when it comes to things like feeding, we’ve done breastfeeding on demand (no set times for milk) co sleeping (for part of the night and sometimes all) napping when he’s tired, and watching his cues to see what he needs. I believe this has massively taken pressure of me to stick to schedules, and has created an amazing relationship between us and Archer that we can pick up on what he needs.

It’s been long and it’s been short, it’s been challenging, it’s been rewarding and I wouldn’t change this year for the world. ❤️

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Am I the next Jamie Oliver? Thanks to Hello Fresh, I think so.

Before Jonny and I got married and moved in together, I was so excited about trying out different meals and cooking new things.

That excitement quickly faded. Going to work 5, sometimes 6 days a week and coming home at 7.30pm was not a great time to start cooking anything overly intricate, and over time my love for cooking disappeared. We fell into the routine of having the same quick and easy meals over and over again.

I lost the ability to be able to encourage myself to take the time to find new recipes and go shopping for new ingredients.

I had seen loads of advertisements for Hello Fresh, especially from people from Australia and mainland UK. I assumed it was the typical “people pay me to post this photo” and not a genuine love for a product. But then I read a bit more about it and decided to give Hello Fresh a go.

It was so simple to set up. I created an account, picked three meals and paid over PayPal. There’s different options to pick, in terms of how many people and how many meals a week you want to go for. We decided to go for the 2 people, 3 times a week box.

How does it actually work?

You get your box delivered weekly with all your ingredients. Everything comes ready to use, even herbs are measured out! You then get recipe cards with 6 easy steps to follow. And then you eat yummy food!

The following Tuesday, a box was delivered right to my door. I was so nervous I was going to have spent money on food that would arrive rotten, especially seeing as I live in Northern Ireland. But thankfully, the food came well packaged, with ice blocks and was perfectly fresh.

That night I started preparing our first meal. We went for Pulled Chicken Burgers. Which were simple to make, and delicious. The side salad and potato wedges were so good, I wasn’t convinced they were homemade, and I made them myself!!

The second night we had Beef Kofta Curry which has been our absolute favourite so far. It’s not at all what we would normally go for, but seemed a great compromise as I love curry but Jonny isn’t a massive rice fan. This version substituted the rice for potatoes and honestly was one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked (just to be modest, you know!)

Finally, our last meal on the first week was Baked Herby Corn. Jonny wasn’t a massive fan of this veggie option, but I really enjoyed it. It would be a great option for a bbq salad!

You’re probably thinking that all sounds great but is it worth the money? I would say a massive yes on this one. I found a voucher code online to get money off the first box to see if I liked it, and I’m definitely keeping up the subscription. There are a few ways you can earn money off boxes as well.

A big question I had was if there was going to be enough food. Jonny and I are both big eaters (you’re shocked, I know) but every night there has been food left over, even with Archie having some too!

If you have kids, the meals are definitely adaptable for them too. There’s nothing worse than cooking separate meals every night! Archie is 8 months old and we are baby led weaning. I’ve been able to substitute items, leave out the salt, and prepare the veg in ways he can eat them easily.

So. Let’s sum it up.

Affordable? Yes.

Suitable for anyone to cook? Yes.

Good for kids? Yes.

Tasty? Triple yes.

Want to give it a go? Here’s a code to get £20 off! RACHELEWIN

week 2 night 1, Italian pasta!

To milk or not to milk?

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you’ll get a lot of “wouldn’t bottles be easier” comments. If you choose to formula feed your baby, you’ll upset all the avid breastfeeding only supporters. And guess what, if you decide to do a bit of both, you still will not please people.

But that’s not what it’s about. The only two people who need to be pleased are your baby and you (and possibly your OH too) because at the end of the day, having a healthy, happy baby is the goal. You can’t get there unless you are happy and healthy yourself and you get there by doing what works for you. If that is bottle feeding, or if thats breastfeeding, great! If it’s doing both, that’s perfect too.

I decided I wanted to give breastfeeding a go while I was pregnant. I had heard some horror stories, so felt very relaxed in that if it didn’t work I would switch to bottles. A friend gave me this piece of advice which I don’t think I’ll never forget: ‘if you aren’t set on breastfeeding, you won’t do it. It’s too hard’ and those words could not be more true. It is so hard. No one can prepare you for how difficult it is!

The worst part is, while the ‘Breast is Best’ campaign is being shoved down your throat, help on how to do it is non existent. So you’ve had a total of 7 hours sleep in 8 days, family and friends are expecting to come visit, you’re sore, you know whats expected of you but the help in getting there is no where to be seen or heard. So you give in to a bottle. Then the ‘mum guilt’ takes over. But you know what? Giving one bottle (expressed milk) when Archie was about 4 days old gave me the break I needed to continue breastfeeding. It was the best thing I did.

After slow weight gain (very common for breastfed babies but cue midwives making me feel like the worst mother in the world) I introduced a few bottles of formula a day. From a very hazy baby fog memory, I think we went for 3 small bottles a day. I soon realised this was far too much on top of me continuing to feed on demand. So I dropped it to two, then to one bottle before bed. And yano what? This worked for us. And worked until very recently when Archie decided he didn’t want that bottle anymore.

So my conclusion on this chapter is:

is bottle best? No. Is breast best? No.

Baby led is best. And mummies, you will know what your baby needs. Don’t let midwives, family members, friends, tell you what your baby needs. By all means, please do take their advice and consider it carefully, but trust that your instincts know what your baby needs.

Bearing in mind I am in no way pushing either way, I can only speak on my experiences on feeding. And there’s one massive thing I’ve noticed. The hype around breastfeeding in public.

Trust me, those first few weeks you’ll be so nervous about flashing a wee old man in a coffee shop. Or someone telling you to put the girls away. In 7 months neither has happened to me (fully admit there has been a few near misses of flashes happening once Archie got the hang of whipping my top up…..) but not one person has said a thing to me. There are so many horror stories of people being confronted, but it’s rare!! The fear of someone saying something is so much greater than the fear of actually breastfeeding in public. So take note, future breastfeeders, most people actually will support you in feeding your baby.

A good Samaritan story to encourage you! I was in Marks and Spencer’s cafe not so long ago. I was having lunch when a lady a few tables down started to breastfeed her newborn. She had her wee toddler with her for company but no other adult. The toddler fell off her chair while the mum was trying to feed. Before I could get off my seat, a wee old man (probably 70) was over to the toddler picking her up off the floor, checking she was okay, politely nodded to the mother, and sat back down to his coffee. Didn’t bat an eyelid that the mum was feeding. He wanted to help, as did so many others in the cafe who were obviously on the edge of their seat to go and help before the grandad hero saved the day. More people like this please!

(Fully aware I was slower than a 70 year old man, I would tell you I had a baby on my knee as an excuse, but Archie was definitely in his pram)

Have courage – feed your baby how you can where you can.

&

Be kind – a small gesture of support goes a long, long way.

❤️

One baby. A Hundred items.

The amount of times I’ve heard “they didn’t have those in my day” for pretty much all of the things we have for Archer. Made me think about how many of them we really actually need?

There are definitely a good few products which have made life so much easier. So if you’re expecting or have a new baby, here’s my list of things I would definitely recommend, (excluding the essentials like a car seat, steriliser, pram etc!)

The top product on my list without a doubt has to be the Baby Bjorn bouncer. It has literally given me time to do the essentials; put a wash on, make dinner, even grab a shower! It is amazing how someone so small needs so much attention, and leaves you unable to do things that before seemed part of your every day routine. The only way Archie settled when I was home alone was in this Bouncer. He will happily sit and watch me do the housework and bounce away. Life. Saver. Pricey, but so so so worth it. Bonus – they fold flat in two seconds and pop back up in less. It comes everywhere with me!

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The second thing i would recommend is a Co-Sleeper. After a lot of shopping around, we decided to go for the Tutti Bambini Cozzee crib. I wanted a crib that still fitted in with the decor of the bedroom, adjusted height to our very high bed, and was easy to put up and down. This one ticks all those boxes and more. When Archie was first born, he preferred sleeping in the Moses Basket as it was a bit smaller, but he very quickly moved into the crib and is still there, 6 months on! Note Ewan the sheep beside Archie, he’s a definite keeper! The light and noises are so soothing for tiny humans!

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Whether your breastfeeding or not, if you intend on using bottles at any stage, I would recommend getting a couple of different types, instead of 5 of the same one to work out which one your little one prefers. The Medela bottles came highly recommended to us, however Archie wasn’t a big fan, and instead prefers Tommee Tippee ones – which my midwife said were not normally a popular choice for breastfed babies! If one doesn’t work, try a different type!

If you have kids or not, everyone knows new parents lose sleep. A lot of sleep. (Apparently 6 months worth in the first 2 years of your child’s life!) Something that we found that helped Archie sleep better, especially when it was colder, was a sleeping bag. You can spend loads of money on these (£50!!) but we went for the slightly cheaper versions (£10-£20) which do the exact same job!! I would definitely recommend investing in a couple. They make transferring from arms to cot easier as theres little temperature change! fullsizeoutput_16e3

The last thing I would say isn’t even a suggestion. This is essential to surviving the first few months of your baby’s life!! Two words – support system. Mum friends are incredibly valuable, I continuously ask questions to my friends who have children older than Archie. And I can’t tell you how amazing it is when you’re having ‘one of those days’ for a friend just to give that supportive “you’ve got this, and I’m behind you all the way” look.

I don’t know how people get by without family. I’d be lost without mine, especially as they’re all medical and don’t mind the “should his nappy be this colour” questions! People who bring meals, put a wash on, even just making a cup of tea means so much especially with a newborn. To my support system – I love you all!

There’s only one thing that I would really say is a total waste of money. And maybe it’s because Archie came out 6 foot with a back pack on, but he literally was in the carry cot part of his pram 5 times. FIVE. Awful! We were given the use of a Moses basket and we kept it in our living room. If we didn’t have that, it maybe would have been useful in the house, but as a part of a pram, we really did not use it. My advice: get either a Moses basket or carry cot. You don’t need both!! However be careful, not all carry cots are suitable for sleeping more than a couple of hours! IMG_1569

Have I missed any things you found essential for your newborn?!

Welcome, Tiny Human.. & so the adventure begins!

No matter what advice people give, what books you read or how much time you spend preparing for a baby, whenever the time comes to give birth you suddenly forget everything you’ve learnt and you’re just not prepared enough.

But, prepared or not, there’s a baby exiting your body one way or another! I had always been terrified about labour, especially when I heard things like “it’s the most amazing experience” etc., because even watching one born every minute really made me squirm so I just knew that I would never think of labour as the most amazing experience. It’s not. It hurts. It’s long. And it’s tiring. And it doesn’t stop there. The pain gets worse after. The plans you have of getting a shower straight away and being up and about – no chance. The things you think you’re avoiding by having a natural birth like being able to get out of bed. Nope. Being able to do anything by yourself? Forget it.

I’ll maybe write my full birth story one day. But today is not that day and it is far too raw to relive just yet. The sound of gas and air still makes me feel nauseous.

Midwives and health care staff are amazing. They make taking a ‘healthy’ 23 year old to the toilet seem like a walk in the park. I do not know how they do their jobs, (and are flipping great at it) but I’m so grateful they do.

Then there’s a little baby, (Or not so little depending on how much damage they’ve caused to your body, in my case, big baby) who makes all the pain worth while. Cliche. I know. But seriously, no one ever tells you how amazing a brand new baby smells. (Which Just doesn’t last long enough by the way)

Then those amazing midwives leave you with the baby, unattended and without a clue what you’re doing. So you cuddle (and sniff) them and hope someone comes back with some instructions. They don’t.

And then the visitors start… and they don’t stop. It is such a lovely feeling to know that your baby has so many people around who love and care for him. But. sometimes, you just need to lock the doors… and throw away the key for a week or two. I couldn’t put it better than “pulling up the drawbridge”… https://www.dontbuyherflowers.com/motherhood/pulling-up-the-drawbridge/

With their lovely little baby presents, they’ll bring their advice. Apparently, everyone in the world has an opinion on how you should look after your little one. And no two of those people agree on the right way. They’ll make hurtful comments, watch you as your baby screams, tell you you’re doing it wrong and make sure you know you aren’t doing it how they did it.

You know what? Tough titties. (Literally in the case of fellow breastfeeders). Ignore them. No one, and I mean no one, knows how to look after your baby better than you. You have carried this little one for 9 months. You know them. You may not know it yet, and you may wonder how you’re capable of looking after something so precious when you even can’t bend down to put your own knickers on, but you know them. Your instincts will always know what your baby needs. If you think there’s something wrong and no one believes you, get them to take a second look. And vice versa, if someone says something is wrong and you don’t agree then get them to double check. Trust yourself. I will never forget a community midwife holding my little baby in her bright orange fake tanned hands saying he was a bit pale. Clearly his st moritz hadn’t developed yet….(there was a lot of eye rolling this day)

Adjusting to being a parent is hard. It would be so much easier without the pressures that society likes to add on top for the fun of it. Do you have to be up and dressed by 10am? Absolutely not, do you even have to get out of your pjs at all some days? Nope. Does your house have to be tidy and clean? Nope. Dinner? Oven pizzas are great. Don’t want visitors? Ask them to come another day.

If all those worries are taking up your mind and your time, then all your attention isn’t on your baby. At the end of the day, they’re the only thing that matters. The rest can wait.

Keep going, you got this.

 

 

// Archer (Archie) James Edward, Arrived 6th December, 2017 at 9.10pm \\DSC_3156

“Even miracles take a little time…”

From the sexual health classes given in school, from the media, our parents etc., we all have the impression that the first time anyone has unprotected sex they will most definitely get pregnant. Wrong. In reality, 1 in 7 couples struggle to conceive, and it takes 1 in 4 couples a year of trying before they get pregnant. Seems odd, doesn’t it?

But what is more odd is that even though fertility issues are so common, it’s a taboo subject. It’s ignored. It’s ‘acceptable’ for anyone and everyone to ask when you’re having a baby, when you are having another one, etc. It’s only been over the past couple of years that I’ve realised this. Before then, I was probably one of those people who thought it was acceptable to ask. It’s not. Continue reading ““Even miracles take a little time…””

Does my bump look big in this?

 

Like I said in my previous post, before I got pregnant I never thought I would feel self conscious about my size during pregnancy. However I was so wrong! What’s been the most frustrating thing is finding clothes that fit, that are ‘flattering’ and that don’t cost a bomb. So, I thought I would share my experiences from maternity shopping and putting together outfits…

Firs of all, Pinterest is not your friend. I do not know where they find all these skinny pregnant people, but when you’re looking for maternity wardrobe inspiration while you feel like a whale, seeing people who definitely have just put a deflated football up their super skinny maxi dress is so frustrating. Let’s be serious. Continue reading “Does my bump look big in this?”