9 Months Later

A is 9 months old today, time really started flying once she turned 6 months old, it feels like the quickest summer ever!

Back in October, my first day of maternity leave, I really didn’t know what to expect, one thing I was totally wrong about was thinking my baby would be on time ” I am convinced she is trying to escape so I don’t think we will have to wait until her due date of November 12th to meet her”, I had to wait until 2 weeks after her due date to meet her!!!

One thing I was right about was that things would change at work “I do wonder what I will come back to, how the company will have changed and how I will have changed, who knows how I will feel in months to come”. I don’t go back until November 2nd but I know things will be different. My brain is definitely different and not in a good way!

As for me, have I changed? In what way(s)?

My addiction to social media has gone through the roof, it’s all that spare time you see…Also my blog has gained a lot more readers and some exciting things have started happening (the Mirror published an article about my experience of tongue tie, its been shared more than 300 times!), I really need to make sure I stick to it when I go back to work. its the one thing that has just been “mine”, I know I write a lot about baby related things but it gives me “me” time.

Unfortunately I don’t think blogging has stopped my brain from shrinking 😦 maybe I should stick to making tea the first week I am back at work because I am seriously unsure of how fast my brain can process things nowadays. The lack of sleep doesn’t help, I can really feel like it has slowed down. This morning I thought we were being burgled and then realised it was the cleaner coming in…I had forgotten we have a cleaner that comes every Wednesday, she was off last week and boom: my brain completely forgot about her! I kept thinking: who has the keys? who could it be? Embarrassing.

I’m less judgmental now, once you’ve had a baby you learn not to judge a book by its cover and unless you’ve been in the same situation you can’t always understand people’s actions.

Here are some other things I’ve learnt:

  • I don’t actually need to buy as many clothes as I used to nor spend as much money as before to be happy
  • Never moan about bras again, maternity bras may be comfy but make your boobs look awful
  • Having a husband that cleans and is tidy is life changing
  • Love for your child is not something you can imagine until you have one
  • I think I’ve become more assertive and would stand up for myself more than ever
  • My body is stronger than I ever thought
  • The importance of friends and family is much greater once you’re a parent
  • Parenthood can be all consuming and affect you more deeply than anything else
  • Instincts are seriously powerful
  • The sound of your baby laughing is the best in the world

Happy 9 months Bella-Roo! Looking forward to making the most of the end of maternity leave together!

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A Week of Milestones: Becoming American and Crawling!

A already has her British passport but as her daddy is American, we needed to get her American one as well as a social security number ( so she can pay taxes to the US government on her worldwide income, lucky thing!). I imagined this was not going to be fun, hours queuing, endless forms etc. Well it wasn’t that complicated at all!

If you are in the same situation, here is how it works and some tips.

You download the forms and make an appointment online here: http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/passports/

Tip 1: try and get as early an appointment as possible as the wait is shorter.

Tip 2: be very careful filling in the forms, everything goes so much quicker if there are no mistakes!

Our appointment was for 8AM, the most stressful part of the journey was getting on the tube with a buggy during rush hour.

Always carry a bottle of water with you in this hot weather!

Always carry a bottle of water with you in this hot weather!

We arrived at Grosvenor Square around 7.45AM, you then have to get in the right queue before going through security:

Make sure you are in this queue!

Make sure you are in this queue!

We ended up giving A breakfast in her buggy before it started to rain!

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You get asked what time your appointment is and then this is the process:

  • Go through airport style security. Tip 3: you have to take everything off and out of the buggy so be prepared for that or everybody will hate you for holding them up!
  • You then enter the embassy and hand in the forms along with supporting documents. Tip 4: bring the LONG COPY OF THE BABY’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE! this wasn’t clear to us but I had a feeling we would need it, not just the short original. the long one gives both parents names and lots more info than the short one. We also brought our passports and proof of my husband living in the US (old tax returns).
  • You pay for the delivery courier and they give you a number
  • You go upstairs to the waiting room that is very kid friendly:

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  • you get called to hand in the forms, you pay $205 for the passport and social security number. The you wait and then get called back again once they have checked the forms to swear on oath they are correct and sign the forms. DO NOT SIGN THE FORMS BEFORE THEN
  • We got there around 7.45 and left at 9.25AM, which was much earlier than I had anticipated. We should get the passport in about 3 weeks and the social security card in 2 months.

The next day, Arabella decided to live her to new American nationality and be an “awesome winner” and start crawling!

For the past 2 months she has been trying to crawl and mainly been going backwards so when they happened, I was super excited!

A few hours later, she was already getting better at it and now I can’t stop her! These mats really helped, I highly recommend them as you can customize them to spell their name, choose the colours etc… ( you can buy them here)

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Daddy has been away whiskey tasting for nearly a week, A can’t wait to show him her new skills and I can’t wait to go somewhere fabulous for a week next year in exchange!

I love my American girl!

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My review of the OXO Tot Roll Up Bib, I have finally found a GREAT bib!

*Disclaimer: I was sent this bib for free but I have not been compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own*

OXO Tot recently sent me one of their Roll up bibs you can buy them here and here) and I am really impressed. I have been searching for a bib that doesn’t ride up and this does a lot more than that!

What is completely unique about this bib is that it rolls up into itself, which means that not only does it not take up much space in your bag but it also doesn’t get anything else dirty! The fact it matches our changing bag is just the cherry on the cake:

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I had been using throw away bibs for this exact reason (to avoid dirty bibs getting everything else dirty and also becoming smelly!) when out and about but these aren’t great for the environment and are costly over the long term. Problem solved!

Another problem that is solved is the tendency for bibs to ride up and therefore not always provide great coverage or to not fit well with the high chair seat or tray, this happens with the thin lightweight bibs especially. We do have a hard plastic one but it’s a bit wide at the top and actually uncomfortable for A. The OXO tot bib is made of two different materials: a soft, easy to wipe (and to dry!) top bit made of fabric, which makes it comfortable and good for different sized babies and a bottom silicone part that makes up the roll and  also catches all the bits!

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I’ve used it out in the buggy and in the high chair and it is just the right length:

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You can see in the first photo the tag was still attached as I was so eager to use it!

A had a lot of fun picking the bits up and ended up a lot less messy than usual after lunch!

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She loves her new food storage area!

It attaches at the back with Velcro which is good because it will fit different sizes but I worry about it getting dirty and her eventually being able to rip it off, this is the only fault I could find.

It was very easy to clean and it dried really quickly, which as all mums know is a bonus!

I’ll be getting another one that can live in the changing bag. If you want a great length bib, that catches bit and works well in a changing bag, this is the bib for you!

What “They” Don’t Tell You About Motherhood…Part 1

I’ve been thinking of what “advice” to give a pregnant friend of mine and to be honest I’m wondering if I should give her any advice at all as I’ve only had one baby and I don’t want to influence her too much. For example a friend of mine told me not to rock babies because they get addicted, I took this as bible and told my mum off for rocking the baby to sleep. It’s far from ideal to rock your baby to sleep for months but when they are a few days old, it’s no big deal!

So here are some tips/experiences/advice/truths in my option that might or might not be helpful:

-Read all baby books with a big pinch of salt and don’t stress if your baby does not to seem to behave as it “should” at all

-Breastfeeding books on the other hand are useful because it can really help to be aware of some facts around latching, growth spurts, tongue tie and milk supply for example

-Get the name of one or 2 lactation consultants whilst pregnant in case you need one and don’t wait to call one if feeding is not going well. If in doubt, get help ASAP! Feeding can be much harder than you could ever imagine

-If you’re struggling, be American and “reach out” to your family or other mums you know or even me! There is no shame in finding it hard, no shame in not loving your baby to start off with, no shame in hating the whole thing, no shame in feeling low, no shame in feeling you don’t know what you’re doing, no shame in crying every day, no shame in wondering why the hell you had a baby, no shame in needing help. Same goes for feeling like it’s easy, lucky you! but maybe be careful about shouting about it to other new mums too loudly.

-Nothing lasts: they sleep then they don’t, they have good days and bad days, it usually does get better but it can take a long time.

-I’ve mentioned it before: the buggy and fresh air are your friends

-Even if you don’t want to, you will compare your baby to others but remember baby ABC may be doing X before yours but then yours will do something else before the others and most “milestones” mean nothing. Einstein started talking aged 4…

-You might think you’ve died and gone to heaven after having a baby and want another one straight away and you might think : never again! Both are acceptable

-The crying can be very hard to handle, it peaks at 3 months so hang in there! Somehow it’s not as bad when you’re outside

-Trust your instincts not google

-What works for one baby might not work for another, it’s not a science but an art…

-The first time you do anything will be daunting but after a while you’ll be taking your baby on a plane alone…

-You will laugh and smile at the tiniest of things, they bring you more joy than anything, it really is all worth it!

 If you remember one thing:  “The days are long but the years are short”

Mini B’s Birth Story

*Warning, this is a long post so you may want to get a cup of tea!*

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I don’t want to forget the most important day of my life, the day I became a mum. I’ll try and keep it “light” but I’m not going to lie…

Now where to start…to start with I was expecting hell (its’ probably good to go inot this whole childbirth thing expecting it to be hard, this was you wont be disappointed!), extreme pain because my mum (who has had 5 children) told me that “it’s not worth me describing the pain because it’s so bad you can’t imagine it” and “female marathon runners can go faster after they’ve given birth because the pain doesn’t compare to the pain of giving birth”, enough said basically!

Like everyone, my priority was to get the baby out safely, my main worry was about my tendency to sometimes give up easily so I wrote myself some words of encouragement on my phone a few weeks before (this was actually helpful):

  • You can do it
  • Think of mini b and her safety
  • The harder you push the quicker it will be over
  • She will come out for sure
  • Positive
  • A cuddle is very nearly there
  • Think of Justin holding her
  • It’s just one day

And this was my birth plan:

Yes: water birth, low lighting, cord cut after pulsating, dad to cut cord, placenta injection, vitamin k injection, skin to skin straight away, birth squatting or kneeling, ideally not lying down, walking around a lot during contractions, lots of explanations on everything
No: forceps, cord cut too quickly, lots of people in the room, pethidine

The reality was slightly different. To start with I was induced so a water birth was out of the window. The problem with induction is that it’s not natural and you’re in an environment that is not conducive to going into labour at all. Giving birth was one of the most natural, primitive, animalistic things I’ve ever done, instincts take over and when you’re trying to start the process of giving birth to your baby in a hospital cubicle next to woman who arrived with her homeless partner smelling of pee, another couple where the husband was watching the Football on TV loudly and screaming along to it (why headphones are not compulsive on labour any hospital wad I do not know!), well basically Mother Nature says NO!

This is me the day I was due:

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This timeline will summarise the process:

  • Due date: nothing
  • Week after that: 1 or 2 sweeps (I can’t remember, all I know is they are painful and did nothing!)
  • Due date +7: nothing
  • Week after that: 2 sweeps but still nothing
  • Due date +12: MIDWIFE STRIKE for the first time in nearly a 100 years, you would think the stress of that on the day you are due to be induced would be enough to put you into labour, well no! and they had forgotten about me and didn’t want me to come in but I did anyway and a great midwife got me a bed on the labour ward. Another sweep. Induction process starts at 5PM with a pessary.
  • Due date +13: nothing except back pain
  • Due date + 13, 10PM: still nothing except back pain, taken down to labour ward.

I was very bored of sitting here:

Labour ward at UCLH

  • Due date + 14 at 5AM: baby A born weighing 3.97 kilos with a head size that was off the charts unfortunately for me…

That’s all 🙂 Ha! don’t worry I’m not going to miss out the “action”!

Once in the delivery suite, my husband went to lie down in the bathroom as he couldn’t sleep the night before as he kept thinking I was going to call him to rush to the hospital, I just sat on the ball and my mum got the hot water bottle filled up (this was the only thing giving me some relief) because the back pain was really bad at this point but no contractions. My waters were broken around 11PM, I will never forget when the doctor said to the trainee “Would you like to do it?” and the trainee replied “I’ve never done it before”, I think the look I both gave them meant a thousand words, needless to say the doctor broke my waters.

This is when things get a bit less clear, I think I started getting some contractions and using gas and air but they weren’t as bad as the back pain. Things were not progressing very fast at all so the midwife suggested the drip to accelerate the contractions. I had read a lot about this (and randomly remember it from episodes of MTV’s “teenage mom”, I know I’m weird!) and told her that I will only have the drip if I can get an epidural as I know that you can basically go from 0 to 100 and be in terrible pain. The anesthetist then appeared and told me he could come back and give me an epidural in around 2 hours as he was busy. The midwife then suggested some diamorphine (heroin basically) for the back pain and the contractions that were getting a bit stronger (to be honest I don’t really remember contractions much at all). I accepted and off she went. This is where things actually get quite funny. Once the diamorphine kicked in a few minutes later, I started to relax A LOT and basically got high so here is Funny Labour Moment Number 1:

Me to husband: “whatever I say over the next few hours, you will not hold against me”

Me to mum : “when ISIS come to your house, do not let them in because they are bad people”

Me to both of them: “the trader from Hong Kong, who killed that prostitute is in my bed on labour ward and I’m not happy because he is using my TV card”, “if there were no men in the world, it would be a much better place”. So yes I solved the world’s problem’s whilst in labour…

And guess what happens when you fully relax? You go INTO LABOUR and dilate from about 3 cms to 10 in around an hour. This is when things started going a lot quicker.

A quick point before I move on about having my mum in the room. It was really important for me to have her there, despite having had 5 children she had never seen a baby be born 🙂 My dad did not understand this at all, he said childbirth was “an intimate moment between a couple”, well to start with there is always at least one other person in the room and I believe in getting all the help you can (yes I don’t work at the moment and still have a cleaner for example! Not exactly the same thing but you get the idea…). I’m really glad she was there, it meant twice as much encouragement, it gave my husband the opportunity to take “breaks” when he needed to, it reassured me and when she said she could see the head, I believed her! She was also there for a week after A was born (it was meant to be for longer but as A was late, it was cut short), again I don’t understand the whole “we want it to just me us as a couple bonding with the baby”, that’s all good and well when everything is easy but without my mum being with us the first week it would have been so much harder (I had to go back to hospital for an evening because my stitches got infected for example) and I’m pretty sure I would have given up breastfeeding without her support.

Anyway, back to the action! Suddenly things really got moving and I felt the need to stand up, ill spare you the details but the midwife told me “you don’t need to xyz, you need to push this baby out” and here comes Funny Labour Moment Number 2, I replied to this “I don’t need to push yet, the  man is coming for the epidural and then you will put the drip in”, Midwife: “you are 10 cms dilated, you need to push”. Me  (still a bit high on what is basically heroin): you don’t understand! the man will be here soon, we have to wait for him!”

I’m not sure when I came to my senses but it was time to PUSH!

A word on pushing, this was probably the most technically advanced/difficult physical movement I have ever had to do. I didn’t get it at all at first! I started by pushing into my throat and then I wasn’t really pushing etc.. So I took a moment to get my head around it whilst chewing on the gas and air pipe (at one point the midwife even asked me why I was inhaling the gas and air as I wasn’t having a contraction (I felt like a naughty school girl!). I pictured moving a bowling ball away from”down there” by blowing air out. Well I finally got it and pushed and pushed for I think over an hour but Mini B’s big head was not coming out without an episiotomy ( I wish this hadn’t happened as it has caused me so much pain and issues ever since). There were a few other Funny Labour Moments during all this, for example when I told the midwife (who was great by the way and kept me calm and on the straight and narrow as I was panicking and wanting to give up) that  “I couldn’t do this and if we could please do this another day” , she replied that “no, and who on earth is going to do this if it wasn’t you?!”. At one point the baby’s heart arte was really dropping so she explained she was going to attach a monitor to the top of her head, I explained in turn ” that’s the one thing I don’t want you to do”, when I asked “why?”, I calmly responded that I had seen this on TV (good old one born every minute) and that it “looked horrible”. She attached the monitor despite this very valid objection!

So finally on due date + 14 at 5.09AM, mini B came out after a few last pushes that were really really painful, just when you think the pain can’t get any worse it does right at the end! Burning is the word that comes to mind…

However what “they say” is true, you forget the pain, the minute it’s over.

These were my thoughts when they handed her to me:

  1. She’s so big!
  2. She has so much hair!
  3. This is definitely my baby

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By now, I had gotten so good at this bloody pushing malarkey that the most comic moment of whole thing happened, I pushed the placenta out so strongly it landed in the midwife’s lap. I knew I would get it!

So now for the gushy bit…nothing compares to childbirth. Not only do you feel superhuman but it’s overwhelming love at first sight, I knew at 5.09AM on November 26th 2014 that I would love her forever and want to protect her from everything, I didn’t think I could do it but I did and there is no way I could ever be that strong for something else unless I was saving her life in a disaster or something. Mini B, Bella Roo as I have said before, I love you more than anything and would do it all again for this moment:

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