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Perks Of The Job

I don’t know of any other job on this earth that involves this many cuddles.

OK. So apparently I’m giving blogging a go. Not quite sure why or who for, but I’ve been flirting with the idea for a little while and I’ve taken the plunge! 

So I’m wife to Adam, new mum to the beautiful Annabelle and I’m currently on maternity leave from my job as Deputy head and a primary school teacher. I’ve been off work now for over 3 months and I can honestly say, I love not working! I was worried I’d feel a bit lost and disconnected from the world. 

I’ve always worked. I got my first job when I was 16 at Gap (best discount ever!) and worked there until I went to university, after a brief spell of working for Kent Police with my dad. During my 3 years at university, I always had a little job to ease the financial strain of uni, and every easter and summer, I found myself a temporary job. Former jobs include mortgage call person (truly sorry to anyone I rang), cleaner for the elderly, sales person for Rosebys, administrator for an employment tribunal and counting people at train stations (a career high). I then bagged myself a job as a teacher in a great little primary school and have worked there for 9 years. 

So going on maternity leave was certainly a shock to the system. Before Annabelle was born, I busied myself with little arts and crafts, cleaning the house and wrapping Christmas presents. But I did worry that once my little one arrived, and Christmas was over and done with, I’d be at a loose end. 

But the truth is, Annabelle is now 2 months old and I’ve loved every second of my new job; mum. As with many of my other jobs, every day is different, it comes with its challenges, but every single second is filled with the most incredible rewards. A smile. A gurgle. A look. A cuddle. A hand wrapped around my finger. I could go on. And I know that as she grows older and develops with every day, the rewards will multiply, and I just can’t wait! And I love working with Adam to raise her. I know it’s only been 2 months, but I think we make a great team!

It wasn’t quite my plan to waffle on about my employment history in my first blog post, but that’s apparently what I’ve done. I guess that’s one of the biggest adjustments to my new life. But having settled in to this new role, I’m able to see the perks and benefits of my new job. 

Firstly, I don’t know of any other job on this earth that involves this many cuddles. Even as I type this, Annabelle is snuggled into the crook of my neck, breathing heavily in her sleep filled state. And when she wakes up, she’ll want more cuddles! How great is that?! I feel like recently she’s reached a state of awareness where she’ll cling on with her arms and head when she’s over my shoulder, and try to hold on harder when I go to put her down or move her. And however I hold her, she fits. She fits my arm, my lap, my side, my shoulder, my chest. She’s my perfect fit.

Secondly, I can see her develop, grow and change every day. I love how all of a sudden, her little brain tells her little body to do something new, or different, or to move in a certain way. This little human is outgrowing clothes and reacting to things differently, and every day is a miracle! It’s incredible seeing her grow without actually seeing her grow. 

Thirdly, what other job allows you to make so many new friends! I have loved getting to know other new mummies and I must say, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some of the loveliest people. Not having family nearby can be tough, and with the majority of my best friends scattered around the country, motherhood could have been a lonely time. But I have been blessed with a group of new mums who live locally and all have babies practically the same age as Annabelle. Not only have I gained some lovely friends, but Annabelle has too! I’ve also recently downloaded the app ‘Mush’ which helps new mums link up, so I’ll see how that works out. 

Lastly, I am able to spend time focusing on the important things in life. I feel more connected to my family as I send pictures and videos of Annabelle practically daily. I am able to think more about anything I choose, rather than ‘have I photocopied enough worksheets’ or ‘I’ve only got 90 books to mark today’. I can think about life, and people, and the future. I’ve found some little glimpses of time to read (mainly at 3am while feeding). I’ve loved spending time with my thoughts, turns out there is a world outside of the classroom! Who knew! 

Well I had no idea where that first blog post was going to go, but there it is! I’ll see what other thoughts fall out of my thumbs over the next few weeks. I’m sure Annabelle will feature heavily. To finish, I’ll add a photo or two. One of my lovely little family taken on Annabelle’s blessing and Naming day at church, the other, a picture of me on my first day of my new job.

Life Begins At 6 Months!

Up until now, her development has happened very organically. But 6 months is a different story. At 6 months, a whole new world is opening up to her and it’ll be interesting to see what she does with it all! 

I can’t quite believe that Annabelle is now 6 months old! I’m sure the first 8 words of that phrase are ones I’ll continue to use for the rest of my life, as all parents do I’m sure, inserting a number of months or years. Adam mentioned that Annabelle is now closer to her 1st birthday than to the day that she was born, a realisation that made me sad but excited all at the same time. It still astounds me how much she changes and develops in such a short amount of time. If I compare newborn Annabelle to 6 month Annabelle the difference is incredible! This small little human has survived on nothing but milk and sleep but has progressed more physically and mentally than I have in the last 10 years! 

I think the most exciting part of motherhood for me so far has been seeing her change, experiment, develop, adapt, learn and do new things, almost daily. I love how she watches and takes things in around her. If I had a pound for every time someone has described Annabelle as ‘alert’, my maternity pay would be doubled! And it’s true. She is so inquisitive about the world around her, and about what people are doing. Her eyes dart around, taking everything in, and then she’ll fix her stare on something interesting or new and watch. From this, she’s learning all the time and is able to then experiment and see what her little body and mind is capable of doing. 

Recently, she’s been watching us eat. Her eyes locked, as she follows the food from plate to fork to mouth. She’s grabbing with more presicion and strength now, things like my hair, my neck fat, my nostril, my bottom lip and my eyebrow. She’s also started the raspberry-blowing phase, and is splattering herself and anything in the vacinity with her own saliva. She’s invented a new little game where she puts her dummy in her mouth, then pops it out by blowing more raspberries and repeats this over and over until another distraction presents itself. These things are all, I’m sure, part of her cognitive and physical development and she’s very quickly trying and mastering new things. 

Up until now, all of her development has happened very organically. I guess we’ve provided toys and games that may have helped certain aspects of her development, but on the whole, she’s just naturally developed and done these things of her own accord. But 6 months is a different story. At 6 months, a whole new world is opening up to her and it’ll be interesting to see what she does with it all! 

Annabelle turned 6 months last week and all of a sudden, things get interesting. It is recommended that babies sleep in their parents room for the first 6 months. They are allowed to have solid food and drinking water at 6 months. They can have double the dose of Calpol. DOUBLE! A whole new world of toys are now available to them as I’ve found that approximately 90%* of all baby toys are 6 months+. A 6 month old body is likely to develop in different ways; teeth start to pop up, they can start to sit up etc. They grow out of certain items, things like Moses baskets, first cribs, poddle pods (see previous ‘Baby Best Buys’ blog post), baby slings, carry cots, bouncer chairs etc. At 6 months, they can move into the big cot, and the big pushchair, the big baby carrier, the next size up poddle pod and other similar things. I could go on! 

So Adam and I are now beginning to adjust from the life we had just gotten used to with a newborn to life with a 6 month old. 

Annabelle had her last night in our room just over a week ago. I relished the extra little snuggle before I turned and simply lay her down on my right handside and couldn’t help but hold her little hands as I fell asleep. She’s been so good in her own room, a few nights where we were up and down, but generally she’s settled so well and we’re getting used to a revised bedtime routine! She hasn’t yet made it into her ‘big cot’, but I’m hoping that’ll be just as good of a transition! 

We started giving her water to drink out of a tippy cup which has had mixed results! She mostly just used the mouthpiece as a chew toy which she loved and wasn’t best pleased when I tipped it up a little to get some water out. After a few times, she got wise to my tricks and kept hitting it away every time I tried tipping it up! We shall persevere. 

She’s got a little tooth coming through! Front bottom. It’s a sharp little thing, I first noticed it because of the scratch marks on the mouthpiece of the tippy cup. She seems to be dealing with it really well. She wears an amber anklet which apparently relieves teething pain, and so far so good! I did give her Calpol on Thursday (her 6 month birthday) as she was really grumpy with her teeth, but I didnt know whether to give her 2.5ml or 5ml! If it had been the day before, would I have given her the smaller dose? I opted for about 3ml in the end, perhaps next time I’ll treat her to a big 5ml dose. 

We’ve just started trying her on solid food. Her first little nibble was on a stick of cucumber, which she seemed to enjoy, despite the faces, as she kept coming back to it. Next up was watermelon which she didn’t entertain at all. We also gave her some carrot which wasn’t too bad, but the most successful food has so far been a good old Farley’s rusk. Not entirely convinced she’s actually eaten very much yet but it’s exciting seeing her explore a new little world of tastes and textures. Plus the new faces she pulls are pretty darn cute. 

We’ve got a whole new pile of toys to play with! We bought a jumperoo-type bouncer a few weeks ago which she loves. Mummy loves it too as she can get a few things done knowing Annabelle will stay in one place! Nana and Grandpa also gave her a few new toys this weekend, all of which are 6 months plus, so we’re having fun passing the time with new toys that she’s officially old enough to enjoy! 

So, life really does begin at 6 months. Food, drink, own room, fun and games. Wish I could go back personally! And as always, Annabelle is living life with a cheeky, twinkly smile plastered across her face which just makes every new step all the more enjoyable. Here’s to the next 6 months! 

Power

In Annabelle’s short little 5 months, there have been so many exciting experiences and unforgettable events in our world. We celebrated our first Christmas as a family when Annabelle was just 10 days old. We welcomed in the new year holding our daughter in our arms. She’s enjoyed her first Easter and her first little trip abroad. We have taken pictures of her meeting different family members for the first time. She’s been swimming for the first time and loved every second! 

However, also within this short little life of hers, there have also been 2 terrorist attacks on her home country. With both the attack on Westminster and the Manchester attack my heart sunk as I heard the news. I’ve sat glued to BBC news as all the details unfolded while cradling Annabelle in my arms. And I’m not ashamed to say I’ve shed a few tears. Not to mention all other crimes and disasters we face in this world. 

It makes me so unbelievably sad to think that there are people in this world who feel it is their ‘duty’ to cause so much heartache and destruction. Their delusional minds have shown us all how inhumane and evil they are. They feel like they have some sort of power over us. But what makes me sadder is that as I sit holding Annabelle, or watch her play merrily in her bouncer, is I fear that the world she’s going to grow up in is filling with more evil and hatred. 

So. What am I going to do about it? I mean, aside from the fact I’ve done my Prevent training. I’m going to raise my little girl in a world of love. She is already the most loved little girl by her mummy and daddy and all other family members and I will make sure she feels that love constantly. And I hope that that love will run through her viens. That love will power her in all that she does. 

Power her to smile. Power her to be kind. Power her to help others. Power her to work hard and be proud of her achievements. Power her to see the good in everyone and everything. Power her to surround herself with good people. Power her to inspire others to show love. Power her to make wise choices. Power her to be the good we want to see in the world. Power her to change the world. 

Uninspired 

I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired recently, and haven’t posted in a while. So I’m going to simply ramble on about what’s in Mummabelle’s world recently and see where I end up. I apologise in advance and applaude you if you make it to the end. 

France!

Annabelle had her first trip abroad! We went over to Versailles in Paris to visit the LDS Paris Temple open house. It was such a lovely trip and we were so excited to not only see the temple, but to be inside a temple with Annabelle as we won’t have that experience again for a long time! On the whole, Annabelle coped really well, although we did have a few minor dramas to which I’m now calling ‘memorable experiences’. Our first memorable experience involved an emergency outfit change under the English Channel on the back seat of our hire car. That was fun. The second memorable experience involved yet another emergency outfit change less than an hour after the first in the front seat of our hire car (thought I’d mix it up a bit). I’ve always carried two emergency outfits around with me and to date, can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to change her clothes, so two changes within an hour was a personal best! 

Another memorable experience was the fact that Annabelle hated our hire car. I have no idea why but she just cried and cried when we were in the car. Now Annabelle’s had her fair share of long distance journeys, our longest being up to Newcastle and she’s always just slept or gazed out the window. Not this time though. We used every toy/song/game we knew and trusted, but to no avail. Until, that is, we had a brainwave. Annabelle loves looking at herself in the mirror, and I can usually snap a great picture of her beaming away when she’s looking at herself on the selfie camera. So we got the selfie camera on my iPad, stuck it in front of her propped up against her feet and she was as good as gold for 20+ minutes!! OK, probably not my proudest parenting moment but we had a train to catch and it kept her happy! 

All in all, the trip was absolutely wonderful. I loved seeing the temple, it was so beautiful and I loved all the symbolism and attention to detail. As expected, each room was exquisite and there was such a wonderful feeling as we wandered around. Annabelle coped well with all the changes and we managed to remember everything we needed! So I’m putting it down as a successful weekend.

The official pictures of the Paris Temple and it’s beautiful interior can be found on the LDS website.

Passport: check!
Copilot to Grandpa and Nana in the Eurotunnel (after emergency change nombre un)


Copilot with Daddy at some French services (after emergency change nombre deux)

Enjoying the beauty of Versailles
The beautiful Paris Temple
Beautiful statue of Christ in the gardens of the Paris Temple

Birthdays! 
Both Adam and I have celebrated our birthdays in the past few weeks; our first as parents! Adams birthday fell just outside the Easter weekend so he cheekily took a day or two off either side of the 4 day weekend to create an even longer ‘weekend’ and we went up to his beloved North East for the week. His birthday mainly consisted of food and Annabelle cuddles, with a special birthday trip to Ikea and Costco (his choice) where we bought a bulk load of baby wipes, book for Annabelle and some calpol. Perhaps a slightly more parenty birthday than we’d anticipated but he enjoyed it nonetheless. 

My birthday ended with a zero this year which means it’s a ‘big birthday’ and I felt pressured to do something ‘big’ to celebrate. I never know what to do for my birthday normally, let alone anything big, especially with a baby in tow. A few years ago we went away to the Cotswolds for a few nights with my parents and stayed in the most idyllic little cottage surrounded by picturesque countryside. I absolutely loved that holiday. So I thought it would be lovely to recreate a similar break in celebration of my zero birthday. We set off for the Cotswolds and stayed in yet another quaint cottage with my parents. As luck would have it, I felt rotten on my birthday. I was therefore exceptionally grateful that Adam took Annabelle downstairs and treated me to the most wonderful lie-in. We had a lovely lazy morning/afternoon and I thankfully perked up ready to enjoy a delicious meal at the Old Stocks Inn in Stow-on-the-Wold. 

Just before we had our meal, we decided to have a little stroll around Stow. This was all going well until we realised Adam had pushed the pushchair through a load of dog poo. Grrr. Our attempts to remove it using long grass were relatively unsuccessful as it had managed to spread itself into every nook and cranny available. Donning a make-shift nappy sack glove, I used a load of baby wipes, with the occasional assistance of a stick, to remove the unwanted feaceas from the wheel and surrounding area. Not quite the activity I’d planned on doing on my birthday! 

When we got into the restaurant, I lifted Annabelle out of her pushchair only to find that she’d be so inspired by the poo-ridden pushchair that she thought she’d contribute some of her own too! I took her into the ladies to complete another full emergency change, stripped her down to her nappy, only to discover that as a result of poo incident number 1, I was only left with a mere 2 baby wipes to tackle poo incident number 2 (no pun intended). 

Well I muddled through and we had the most delicious meal. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend and it was everything I’d wanted it to be. Relaxing, fun and surrounded by beautiful scenery and my favourite people! 

Annabelle and the birthday boy!
Birthday surprises!
Room with a view…perfect.

Growing up!

As ever, Annabelle is changing and developing by the day. She’s a confident roller now, going from flat on her back to cobra pose in a nano second. And it seems my frantic clapping and whooping like a mad woman is paying off as she’s able to last longer on her tummy before she gives up, rests her forehead on the ground and just cries. In the last week or so she’s been lured in by toys, mirrors, lights to stay on her tummy, and has even tried reaching for things with her arms and kicking her legs. She’s even rolling two or three times in a row, so I have to keep my wits about me as who knows where she’ll end up! Glad to see that she’s showing resilience and tolerance even when I know it’s not her favourite thing. She’s bouncing in her new (extremely large) jumperoo and it’s clear she’s loving being a bit more independent. 

I love watching her play. She’s got such a curiosity for new toys and I love seeing her face when she discovers something new. Her new favourite toy at the moment is a set of stacking cups. She’ll sit with them in between her legs and fling them around randomly. Or I’ll stack them up and she’ll frantically send the tower crashing and giggle every time. Or she’ll just pick one particular cup and gnaw on it and dribble all over it. 

She’s also loving books which makes me really happy. She loves looking at different pictures, and will stroke the pages with her hands. She smiles when she sees the face of a baby in a book. We read a book before bed the other night which is one of the loveliest book I’ve ever come across. The author was Emma Dodd and the book was called ‘Love’. It had beautiful illustrations with some parts highlighted with a golden shine which Annabelle loved. I love children’s books and I can’t wait to read more and more with her as she grows up!

I’m well aware that this post isn’t the most exciting in the world, so if you’ve made it this far, I’ll be surprised. I even wouldn’t judge you if you’ve skimmed the last 3 paragraphs. But I’ll finish with the most exciting and anticipated development in the life of Mummabelle. 

We are a gaviscon free household! 

After 3 months of mixing that rotten, foul smelling, beige powder into Annabelle’s feed, she is finally silent reflux free! I appreciate that no one else will share my excitement but this is literally worthy of an anti-reflux party in my eyes. Not only am I grateful that we don’t have to faff around with the silly double sachet (why not just put the right quantity in one sachet?!), and not only am I grateful that my carpet will no longer be comprised of 90% gaviscon powder as I always spill some, but I’m grateful that Annabelle is now comfortable and has a digestive system that has matured enough to function for her. I was also beginning to worry about how her reflux would affect her as she moved onto solids as that’s just around the corner, so fingers crossed it’s righted itself just in time. Woohoo! 

Can you believe that it’s taken me about a week to write this post?! Probably my least interesting and poorly written post ever and it’s taken forever. But I guess sometimes it’s nice to document the small things. Thanks for reading and I’ll reward your efforts by trying to make the next one more interesting!

One + One = (Another) One

For the first time I could see her whole face. I, again, got all emotional because I had this overwhelming sense of familiarity. I recognised her. Her little face was just beautiful and I felt this undenaible connection.

People love to speculate as to what the baby will look like before it arrives. Adam and I worried we’d have a baby that was a concoction of all our worst features! (Still could possibly happen in the future I guess!) And once the baby arrives, there are 3 mandatory questions that must be asked: “How heavy was she?”, “Was it a long labour?” and “Who does she look like?” 

When Annabelle was born, they brought her up to me and she was lying on my chest for what felt like forever. Time had stopped. It was the most surreal, beautiful time. Just the three of us. They took her away, popped a nappy on her (didn’t realise they didn’t clean the baby up) and wrapped her in a towel and then Adam held her while I was being ‘repaired’. I loved looking at him looking at her. After a little while, I had her back and I was able to breastfeed her which I found a really emotional experience. All of these are precious memories that I hope will stay with me forever. 

It wasn’t until a little while later when Annabelle was placed in her little plastic cot, that I saw her face properly for the first time. When she was first placed on me, I couldn’t properly see her face, only her head, and while she was breastfeeding, part of her face was (obviously) obscured. But her lying in this little cot I could, for the first time, see her whole face. I, again, got all emotional because I had this overwhelming sense of familiarity. I recognised her. Her little face was just beautiful and I felt this undenaible connection.

I strongly believe that we all come from a spirit world before we are born, and that as spirits, Adam and I knew Annabelle in pre-earth life. This familiarity must have been in relation to that surely. On second thoughts, it dawned on me that she looked so familiar because she was the spitting image of Adam! 

Now I’ve never really been one to ‘see’ the parent in a baby; a baby just looks like a baby. But this was a fairly obvious one. And apparently everyone agreed. I’ve lost count of the number of comments I’ve had about how much she looks like Adam. 

There are many theories / sciencey stuff that say this is to help the father bond with the baby as they have obviously not been quite as physically involved during the baby’s growth. I do think I observed this with Adam and Annabelle. I could tell he loved the fact she looked like him and I loved seeing his new-found fatherly pride in this. 

On the other hand, I am also beginning to see some of myself in her. And as much as I love that she is like Adam, I also want her to be a teeny bit like me, ’cause I made her too! I think it’s only human to invest so much time, energy and love into something and want a little bit of recognition/resemblance in return! But as she’s growing, she is showing us that she resembles both of us. Here’s the lowdown:

Daddy’s Girl

  • She’s got his cute chubby cheeks
  • They have similar eyes
  • Her delicate little lips are the same shape as her Daddy’s 
  • Recently, she’s developed the same hair line as her daddy
  • She’s got long, slender fingers
  • She’s happiest when she’s had a long nap
  • She gets grumpy when she’s hungry
  • She poops a lot
  • They both sleep with a bent leg, knee in the air
  • She gets too hot very easily
  • She’s a long baby, just like her Daddy when he was a baby
  • She’s a water baby who loves the bath and the swimming pool (although that’s like both of us to be fair!)

    Mummy’s Girl

    • It appears she’s inherited my nose, huge nostrils included
    • Her hair colour is similar to mine
    • Her eye colour is close to mine and my mums eyes
    • She’s entertained by simple things
    • She loves a good snuggle
    • She likes snacking, a little tipple of milk between her milk lunch and milk dinner
    • Her long eyelashes are similar to her Mummy’s
    • She loves people watching
    • Always looking around her, she’s inquisitive about the world around her (or nosey if you’d prefer)
    • She has a slender neck, unlike her Dad’s!
    • She likes talking, particularly over other people or when someone’s trying to watch TV
    • She gets excited when listening to music
    • She’s got chubby legs and a podgy tummy! 

      Despite these similarities to Adam and I, Annabelle is definitely Annabelle. I can see already, just 4 months into her little life that she’s got her own personality, characteristics and physical traits.

      Annabelle

      • She’s happiest first thing in the morning (we have no idea where she gets this from)
      • She’s got strong legs and loves standing up (again, both Adam and I spend most of our time lounging on the sofa!)
      • She’s small and dainty for a baby of her age. As a fairly heavy baby when she was born, she soon dropped down the percentiles and looks quite diddy! I’m still using most of her 0-3 month clothes and she’s 4 months now! (I don’t think Adam or I have ever been associated with the word ‘dainty’)
      • She thinks coughing and sneezing are hilarious
      • She hates being on her own, and has to be able to see/hear someone nearby
      • She loves looking at herself in the mirror and gazing out the window
      • She looks great in a pair of leggings (I however, do not, and I’m yet to see Adam in leggings)
      • Her determination astounds me. In everything she does, she is determined to use her strength, mental and physical abilities to make the most out of every little experience.

      OK, so many of these are very superficial qualities, and only time will tell how she develops other qualities. I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at her and wondering whether she’ll use her long fingers to play a musical instrument like Mummy, or her strong legs to kick a ball like Daddy. Will she have a strong work ethic like Mummy or have common sense and a logical mind like Daddy? And what will she do that’s just Annabelle? Whatever happens, and whatever her little future holds, I can’t wait to see who she becomes and what her stamp on the world will be. 

      Baby Best Buys

      There have been so many things that we’ve bought that I absolutely couldn’t live without. So I thought I’d share the things that we love that have worked for us. They might not be for everyone, but we totally love them!

      Buying for a baby is an absolute minefield. I swear there are at least 1,000 varieties of each product available that all claim to do the exact same thing. When shopping around before Annabelle arrived, I genuinely had no idea what we’d need. I figured we’d probably need a pushchair and a cot. After that I had no clue what else! And then there are multiple varieties of pushchairs, carry cots, travel systems, car seat attachments, isofix bases…it snowballs! And the cot wasn’t simple either. Moses basket or crib or one of the other hundred varieties of practically the same product on the market. 

      I downloaded a load of apps that I thought would help. Worse. Idea. Ever. Total overload. But I sifted through and ended up becoming totally fixated on the Mothercare app which I found really useful. It has a checklist of things I’d need to buy which I felt was really realistic. And for a retailer, I didn’t find it too ‘pushy’ for sales either which I always appreciate. 

      I also relied on the advice of others who have tried and tested recently, and I really appreciated their guidance. I genuinely didn’t know what would be useful once she’d arrived, so it was great to get tips from people who’d recently had a baby too. 

      There have been so many things that we’ve bought that I absolutely couldn’t live without. So I thought I’d share the things that we love that have worked for us. They might not be for everyone, but we totally love them!

      Poddle Pod (£30- £50)

      www.poddlepod.com

      A what?! A poddle pod. I totally stumbled across this by accident, as it came up as an advert on Facebook. I didn’t know anyone who had one so I did some research and figured it would be a useful purchase. It’s a cushiony type pod thing that Annabelle can lie in for naps and general wriggling during the day. (That description was terrible, look at the photo for a better idea!) 

      Annabelle enjoying the Pod at just a few days old. We added a fleecy blanket to help make it snugglier when she was teeny.
      Just 1 week old!

      I like the way it is intended to simulate being held as the raised edge would cradle her as if she were in my arms. Some people had compared it to the popular Sleepyhead that’s on the market. The main difference is the price and that babies can sleep in the Sleepyhead (as the name would suggest!) whereas the Poddle Pod is recommended for naps, not sleeping through the night. But at a fraction of the price, I felt it was something worth getting and trying before splashing out and buying a Sleepyhead.  As with everything when she was newborn, Annabelle wasn’t too sure, but after a couple of weeks, she was totally comfortable in it and now at 4 months Annabelle has all her day time naps in it and sometimes just lies in it to have what I like to call cosy play. And it’s cover comes in loads of cute patterns and is removable and washable, you know, just in case. 

      Annabelle enjoying her mid morning nap at 16 weeks

      Snüz Pod (£199)

      www.snuz.co.uk

      I didn’t intend to purchase so many items that contained the word pod! I’ve loved the Snüz Pod. We only ever really considered the Snüz Pod and the Chicco Next to Me for her crib. I didn’t fancy a Moses Basket as I know many who have grown out of the basket much earlier than expected. With Adam being a long baby and with the midwives predicting I was going to pop out an enormous sprog, I figured a Moses Basket would be a waste of money. I also really liked the idea of having a crib that attached to our bed and had a fold down side so Annabelle could be right there in the night. We chose the Snüz Pod over the Chicco because it was longer in length which we hoped would last us longer, and the top can be lifted off and used anywhere in the house. This proved to be really useful when we were trying to get Annabelle used to her crib as we could use it in the living room too. 
      I’ve been really impressed with it and love having her right there in the night. I don’t even leave the bed during the night, simply scoop her up for a feed then plonk her back in afterwards!

      The top section of the Snüzpod in the living room with the side folded down. This was before she reached her ability to thrash around. The side is very much now always up.

      Shnuggle Bath (£19.99)

      www.johnlewis.com

      The number of people who told me I didn’t need a baby bath, just the kitchen sink, was shocking! Now I’m not someone who buys something for the sake of it, but I did not entertain the thought of bathing Annabelle in the kitchen sink. For starters, my kitchen is tiny! Someone recommended that we buy the Shnuggle Bath and we absolutely love it. And more importantly, so does Annabelle! It hardly uses any water and Annabelle is able to sit up and splash about. Plus she looks totally cute in it! 

      Bath time with Ducky!


      BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One (£90- £130 depending on current offers)

      www.babybjorn.co.uk

      Before Annabelle arrived, Adam unintentionally sparked ‘The great baby carrier debate’. His point was, we’re having a baby in the winter, so we’re not going to go out for long walks until she’s older, therefore we don’t need a carrier. My point was, yes we do, we’re getting one. 

      I’d heard about all these sling libraries and how I could go along and try different ones to see what I found comfortable. I could even take it away and try it before buying it. Well I didn’t. I just bought one. Looks like my nearest sling library was miles away and I really couldn’t be bothered! I plumped for a Caboo as it claimed to be best for a newborn, hugging them to your body, easy to put on, yada yada yada. I did quite a lot of research and read many reviews, but every carrier had a load of both positive and negative reviews, which immediately cancel themselves out! But they came in nice colours (and I found a major discount offer) so I was sold and bought one. 

      Close Caboo Lite (if anyone’s interested)

      We tried Annabelle in it a couple of times over the first couple months of her life and she hated it. I didn’t find it too uncomfortable to wear, it is a bit faffy to put on, but I was put off by the screaming child that was now strapped to my chest. In the end we gave up. Annabelle has always been more interested in sitting back so she can see what’s going (nosey little thing, no idea who she gets it from…) So I started to hunt around for another one with a more rigid structure and found the BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One. It had more good reviews than bad ones so figured it couldn’t be that bad. I also loved the fact that it was able to be used as a front back-facing carrier, a front forward-facing carrier and a back carrier. In other words, it would serve us until she’s about 3 years old. Sold. 

      The first time Annabelle went in it, she cried a bit, but was immediately distracted by what she could see around her. Her maiden voyage in the BabyBjörn was to the beach (and the ice cream parlour, obvioisly) and she slept beautifully. I’ve used it around the house when vacuuming and just to pop to the shops. I love it. And at £90, I feel that I got an absolute bargain considering it’ll last her for years! 

      Do I regret buying the Caboo? Not really. Hopefully we can use it in the future, or pass it on to someone else. I really like the design and how it felt when I was wearing it, I just didn’t know what kind of carrier my baby would like! Although I do regret paying £45 for something that would only have lasted her 6 months max, whereas we paid double for the Baby Bjorn and it’ll last her at least 6 times longer. 

      Carmex

      OK, so not strictly a baby product, but as a result of having a baby, I needed this in my life! Towards the end of my labour, I tried gas and air for a few minutes which I hated. It made me light-headed and dizzy and it also screwed up my breathing pattern I’d established to help me when I was in ‘the zone’. So I gave up on that and carried on without it. But apparently it hadn’t finished with me. My lips, even now nearly 4 months on, are ridiculously dry and chapped. I kept applying vaseline in between contractions and afterwards, but it didn’t make any difference. A couple of weeks ago I tried Carmex and noticed a huge difference almost immediately. They still aren’t quite back to normal (whatever normal is these days) but at least huge clumps of skin aren’t hanging off anymore! 

      Hopefully this has been useful for some people, if not, a fun read nonetheless. My conclusion is, do your homework, ask for advice from other mums you can relate to, but ultimately pick what you think will work for you. And don’t be afraid to return stuff. It’s all guess work until the baby arrives and hates everything you’ve bought anyway!

      What a Difference a Year Makes

      I’ll never forget that moment. Or the look on Adam’s face. We just hugged and cried. I turned to him and said “Well, life will never be the same again.”

      Friday 8th April 2016. The day we found out we were expecting a baby.

      We had been down in Kent celebrating mums birthday; trips to the beach, lazy morning lie-ins, playing card games etc. I had felt slightly different while we were there, needing the toilet more, feeling a bit emotionally fragile, nothing drastic but just different. So I had started to wonder. We’d been trying for a baby for some time and had started going down the path of fertility treatment, so I kept telling myself it was probably nothing. We travelled back home to Hertfordshire and I said to Adam that I’d take a pregnancy test just to rule it out. Didn’t want to get my hopes up.

      The following morning, I woke up and took the test, before Adam was even awake. Through blurry eyes I looked down and saw all these lines. It had been so long since I’d taken a test that I’d forgotten what they all meant! I hurriedly tried to make sense of the instructions, my heart was beating so fast! I ran in to Adam (I washed my hands first, obviously) and thrust the test and instructions in his face demanding he made sense of it all.

      I’ll never forget that moment. Or the look on Adam’s face. We just hugged and cried. I turned to him and said “Well, life will never be the same again.” I can’t put into words how I felt. I knew that the happiness I felt was something I’d never felt before. Ever since that day, my heart has been bursting with love for this little being who we didn’t even know for the first 8 months! The day Annabelle was born was the day I could put a face to my love.

      I love looking back and reminiscing through old memories. My Timehop app today informed me that 3 years ago we were on a family holiday in Centre Parcs, 2 years ago Adam and I were in Malta and that one year ago today we discovered we were expecting Annabelle. Today we have made a trip to Mothercare, gone to Tesco, been to the doctors, cleaned up yet another nappy explosion, Adams cleaned the oven and Annabelle is now asleep in my arms. And for that very reason, we both decided that this 8th April is our favourite.

      My blog-writing snuggle buddy

      Family and Firsts

      Life is full of firsts. And babies seem to start ticking them off from the day they’re born. The first time they open their eyes. The first feed. The first dirty nappy (Adam had the privilege of that one…and it has its own comical story that I’ll save for another time!) First journey home. The first time they wrap their hand around your finger. And once these ‘firsts’ start, it snowballs, they don’t stop! I guess that’s been one of the overwhelming factors of Motherhood, taking in all these new experiences not just for me, but for her too. 

      And the ‘firsts’ don’t stop do they. Ever. There’s even some firsts that I’ve not experienced yet, first house for example (I’m sick of rented flats!) I’ve never dyed my hair before. First time I feel like I’ve done all the housework. And I guess we eagerly await each of these ‘firsts’, until it comes and then we celebrate before beginning a countdown to the next one.

      The last few weeks have been full of firsts for us as a family. Adam took his first day off! This may seem insignificant to many, but having worked in Education all his working life, this day off was when we chose! And it wasn’t during a school holiday! But this day off was for us to drive up to see Adam’s family (sing theme tune and clicks in your head here) which meant it was Annabelle’s first trip north! And her first time meeting the majority of the Deacon clan. 

       

      The journey was great. Annabelle slept in the car and we only made 1 scheduled stop. We made it in good time and with Adam taking the day off, we maximised our time with family that weekend. Annabelle had cuddles with Granda (southerners, that’s not a typo, it’s pronounced Gran-dar), Grandma, Auntie Molly, Great Gran, Great Aunties, Great Uncles, second cousins, first cousins once removed (we googled it), friends, children of friends, other relatives who I can’t even begin to fathom out how they’re related to Annabelle…we counted over 30 family members in about 24 hours! It was so lovely, just seeing everyone coming together for her, surrounded by family and a room full of love and laughter. She also had her first trip of many to the beach and to an ice cream parlour! 

              

                                                                                         

                         

      Another ‘first’ is Annabelle using her hands and beginning to grab things. About a week or so ago she was having her regular stint in her bouncer chair which is always accompanied by some pretty ferocious kicking and arm waving. But this time, as I watched her hand hit one of the rattles that hangs down from the bar, she stopped and an expression of realisation spread across her face. She looked at her hand with such awe and wonder and then carefully lifted it again and aimed for the rattle before clamping her fingers around it. I’d never been more proud of anything in my life! In that moment, I realised she had demonstrated a number of new skills: awareness of her hands, control of her arms, visual depth perception, sense of fun and enjoyment, ability to control things herself etc (skills I wish I had!) She did it again, and again, and again and squealed with excitement, it was beautiful to see her so happy with her own achievements. 

      She has since used this new found skill to engage with other toys, most importantly ‘Cow’ (we’re yet to come up with cute, ingenious names for toys). Cow has 2 light up buttons and a spinner that all set off a medley of tunes and songs when banged. I say banged, as Annabelle quickly progressed her hand development from gentle stroking motions to vigorously smashing it through sheer excitement. And thus commences the ‘Grabbing Stage’. We are still in the infancy of this stage so I can still enjoy the fact she isn’t grabbing my hair yet, or lunging for the food off my plate. I’m aware these will surface at some point.

      I was able to enjoy my first Mothers Day this weekend. I’ve always tried hard to make Mothers Day special for my mum, it almost always falls on or near my mums birthday too, so it’s easy to make a fuss for two occasions! I had already invited my parents up for the day, planned on cooking them a nice meal and started thinking about her gifts. Then one day it dawned on me, “I’m a mum!” I blurted out. I hadn’t thought about Mother’s Day ever being for me! It was a lovely day. Adam was given explicit instructions from Annabelle and she got it spot on. One of my favourite things about Mothers Day is seeing the hundreds of tributes of friends and celebrities to their mums on social media. Not only do I get a nosey at old family photos, or seeing what some peoples’ mums look like, but I just love reading all the beautiful things people feel/say about their mothers. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. 

      I follow mum blogger Susie Verril (hilarious, tell-it-how-it-is blogger, mum to Milo and Greg Rutherfords girlfriend FYI), who wrote a post that I totally agreed with…

      “Seen a few ‘I don’t need a day to celebrate being a mum, I don’t need a medal, I don’t need recognition’ posts. I do. We’re grafters, we’re second best, we’re battlers each and every day. Very little of this is easy so we can reward ourselves a day withou putting on our Mum crown and telling everyone we’d do it anyway. Of COURSE we’d do it anyway, but we’re allowed a wonky card and some flowers thrown our way too. Give yourself a Mothers Day.”

      I want to have a day where I celebrate and treat my mum, and now I’ve experienced this mothering malarkey firsthand, I don’t feel bad about enjoying a special day myself! And I’ve only had 3 months worth of mothering, I’m sure I’ll have earned a Mother’s Day more and more as each year passes. And the same goes for Fathers Day too of course! 

      Annabelle also has her first cold which is miserable as she’s struggling to breathe and feed with a stuffy nose. She’s been a little bit more teary which breaks my heart, but she’s also being more snuggly which makes it all better! 

      Another ‘first’, and my absolute FAVOURITE all-time of Annabelle’s firsts was her first giggle. Thursday 23rd March. Bedtime. I can’t remember what I did or how it happened, but she just erupted into the most adorable, spontaneous giggle. I cried. And then tonight in the bath, her second giggle came and it was even more giggly and squealy and enthusiastic as the first, but just as beautiful. Adam and I just stared at each other with open mouths. It was just the most precious moment. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my little girl happy. 

      Annabelle has also slept through the night for the first time too (sorry to all the mothers hating me right now). 2-4 times a week, she’ll have a mega nights sleep, going down any time between half 10 and 11, waking up some time between 7 and 9. It’s silly though, I kind of miss our special time during the night feed, but I’m sure I’ll always be grateful for a good nights sleep too! 

      I know I’ll look back on these moments and wish I could turn back the clock or stop time right there in that moment. Perhaps reading this has made you feel nostalgic or pine for the good old days, or brought back faded happy memories. But for now, I’m loving each and every first that occurs, and although I shouldn’t, I can’t wait for the next first that awaits us.