Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Clothes Confusion!

I was asked by a friend, who is expecting in august, how many outfits a newborn needs. She stated how she had a whole range of clothes in size 0-3 months, and would this be enough.
Bless her, I then had to break her little heart and say that her baby would NOT fit into these for a while, unless she gave birth so a baby thats 11lb+! All the lovely outfits she thought would fit at birth, on hold until the baby is older. She was truely baffled by the prospect of not just the size 'newborn' but 'tiny baby', 'first size' and even 'up to 1 month'. She couldn't get her head around the fact that size 0-3 months, doesnt mean from birth.

The fact of the matter is, every store uses different sizing. And different names for thier clothes. Some say newborn, some say new baby. Some say early baby, some say small baby. It varies massively. And as we have learnt to dress and shop for ourselves, by finding that particular shops have better sizes for us, personally, you will develop the same sense for your baby. Me, I dress Erica in a lot of Next clothes. I find that thier fit suits her, as shes a very small build, but she still needs a size below her age, because even though thier clothes fit her frame shape, they are quite generous sizes. Don't be tempted to buy purely for 'age' as most of the time, baby is not going to match them. They are there mainly as a guideline, the younger ranges (up to 18 months-ish) use weights on thier labels, these can be more accurate, but not fool proof.

When Erica was born, she was in teeny newborn sizes. But we had to be very careful as, for the size of her, she had very long feet! So whilst we found things to fit her body, her little toes used to curl up in the end of many sleepsuits. But as she got older, and put more weight on, it all evened out nicely.

Here is an 'estimate' of the ages (and weights) that a lot of companies use.

  • Tiny Baby - very newborn, approximately 6-7lb. Probably wont last any longer than 2 weeks, but worth it if baby is petite at birth.
  • Newborn/First Size - Approximately 7/8lb up to 9/10lb. This size can vary greatly, but it is likely that your baby will spend a few weeks in this size. Sleepsuits in this size are very handy as they have lots of room for baby to move if they are slightly larger.
  • Up to 1 month - This is the transitional size from 'newborn' to 0-3 months. Not always available, but useful if baby is smaller. To be perfectly honest, most brands cater from first size straight to 0-3 months with not much fuss.
  • 0-3 months - The actual sizes of these clothes can vary greatly, some brands will fit at a few weeks old, some are bigger and will wait more till 2 months. But by the point where you need this size, you will know your baby enough to know when she or he is uncomfortable in a smaller size. Some 0-3 sizes take smaller babies to 5 months+!

Never worry that your baby isnt progressing through the stages fast enough, as long as your baby is gaining weight at a regular pace, and the health visitor is happy, then so should you be. Just like adults, some babies are smaller and some are bigger. Some are shorter and some are longer. Trust in yourself to know what to look out for, your baby will soon let you know if thier clothes are too tight or uncomfortable. You will come to trust in your favourite brands for your children, just as you do for yourself. And soon enough, you will wonder why you were ever worried in the first place.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Shoot me. Please just shoot me now!

In a few days time, I will be 32 weeks pregnant. This has always seemed as quite a milestone, because its not 'just gone 30 weeks' and it also means that there is just 2 months till my baby is due. 32 weeks. 32. How the hell have i managed to 'live' pregnant for 32 weeks!?

All the books say how pregnancy is a magical time, and how that during the middle section, that you will bloom and blossom into this amazing pregnant goddess. So, why is it, that I wake up every day, having lost 2 hours sleep just going to the toilet multiple times?! And that just getting off the sofa to go and have a shower is hard work? Im exhausted. Throughly, utterly, exhausted. And keep feeling so, even though my new standard bedtime is between 9pm and 9.30.

Personal appearance has completely taken the back burner in my life at the moment. But at least I have the excuse of SPD to get away with staying in my nighty until dinnertime! After all, I am practically housebound...

Having a toddler isn't easy at the best of times. But the terrible twos in late pregnancy... thats just a whole new level of crazy! I sometimes wake up and think that I must be absolutely mental to have another baby, when Erica takes up so much of my time, but I wouldn't like her to be left out of all the benfits having a sibling can offer. So, whilst at the moment, and probably for the next few years, I feel like a walking zombie, thats only good for providing food and then cleaning up the mess the food makes, I know that in the long run it will be worth it. I've never experienced anything so rewarding as having Erica, even though I actually feel like I could lock her in a cage sometimes! And im sure that I will feel exactly the same about the new arrival.

I always check on Erica, before I go to bed. Check that shes asleep and tucked up, so she doesn't get cold. And its times like that, when shes quiet and peaceful, that I really realise how lucky I am (not that I dont any other time!!), and how wonderful and amazing she makes my life. And how, no matter how difficult it can be sometimes, I wouldn't change it for the world.

However, ask me if I feel the same in the midst of a screaming hissy fit, and I can not say that I would say the same thing!

So many things, for such a small baby!

I think one of the most daunting things as a new parent, is how much kit a baby comes with! I once got told that a baby can 'live in a basket in the corner'... The woman who said that, seriously deranged!

Yes, a baby may be small, but the equipment needed to care for that baby, not so small. And not so cheap either!

You may feel pressurised to buy all the top of the range gadgets and gismos during your pregnancy. But the reality is, its just not always nessacary. Don't get me wrong, I dont know a single parent that has bought just the bare minimum for thier baby and nothing else. Everyone indulges in a few little luxuries at some point! But figuring out what is nessacary and whats just a commodity, can be challenging for someone whos never had any exposure to babies before!

So, I have compiled a list of items that, in MY opinion, are essential, and if they aren't essential, make your life a little bit easier!

  • Moses Basket/Crib
  • Bedding (sheets x 4, blankets x 5)
  • Pram
  • Car seat
  • Car sunshades
  • Changing Bag
  • Bouncer or swing
  • Play gym or other similar toy
  • Top and tail bowl
  • Cotton Wool balls or pleats
  • Nappies
  • Nappy bags
  • Baby wipes
  • Sudocrem or similar barrier cream
  • Sponge
  • Baby toiletries (baby bath, shampoo, etc)
  • Nail scissors
  • Hairbrush
  • Cuddle robes/baby towels (x3)
  • Muslin Squares (as many as you can get your hands on! minimum of 10)
  • Bibs (x 10)
  • Bottles (x4, if bottle feeding)
  • Sterilising equipment (if bottle feeding or expressing)
  • Breast pump (if breast feeding)
  • Bottle Brush (if needed)

This list doesn't include clothes, as clothing can be a confusing issue, and I would rather go into more depth at another time. But I would definately say that these items are bare nessacities as far as general baby care is concerned.

If your trying to save a few quid, try checking out nearly new sales, car boot sales, and local newspapers for second hand items. These can be invaluble if your trying to find a second hand pram or crib, and want to be able to thoroughly check the product first. DO NOT buy second hand car seats, and if your offered one from a family member, be 100% certain that its not been involved in any accident, no matter how small. Even small bumps can damage the internal parts of the car seat with no visual damage, and this can compromise the safety of the seat.

I guess, in the end, it all depends on your budget, and what you want. You may want the latest touch sensitive baby monitor that has an alarm if baby's breathing pattern changes, but you may be like me, and be able to hear your baby no matter what room in the house you are in!! So, it is all about personal preference. Have fun searching for your baby items, take pleasure in the art of 'nesting', and enjoy those last few shopping trips before your baby gets here. They will never be the same again!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Invasion of the 'It-Mum'

We are being taken over. They are everywhere. Up the high street, in ur local supermarket, even walking past your house. The It-Mum.

They are the kind of women that you can't help but envy. The kind of women you can't help but secretly despise inside. Why? Because they show you what you should be. It's not realistic of course, but it doesn't mean you don't feel that way!

You see them, with thier top of the range pushchairs, and thier OiOi change bags and their cute little kiddies dressed in designer gear, but this is NOT why you hate them. Oh no. You hate THEM. How on earth a mother can get up in a morning, and by the time they have make bottles, cleaned up, scraped the baby rice off the kitchen wall, how can they actually be bothered to make themselves look like they have just walked out of a beauty salon?! Its beyond me!

Now I know that a lot of mothers 'make and effort'. It goes without saying, but most of them still have that slightly exhausted shadow floating behind them. To me, that is normal. Its expected. Its part of the life you sacrifice when you first see those little pink lines on the pregnancy test.
But no, It-mums walk around in their skinny topshop jeans and boots, with thier perfectly styled locks, manicured nails and flawless complexion. And even tho they probably aren't, you feel like they are looking at you and laughing! Christ, it was a lot of effort just to actually pry a comb through your own birds-nest barnet this morning, never mind attack yourself with a blowdryer and straightners! But it doesnt stop at 'admiring' there attire does it?! You know that underneath thier perfectly pressed outfits they are sporting a delicious emsemble of Hot Milk underwear and a skillfully preened bikini line also. Of course you dont actually know this. But it doesnt stop you thinking it! (It does help to imagine them wearing a massive pair of bridget-jones' and a washed out wireless bra)

You can guarantee that whenever you look your worst, you will run into EVERYONE. Its an unwritten rule. Even I have taken steps to ensure that everytime I go to Asda i have a full face of make-up on and am not wearing my usual staples of jogging bottoms and a vest top. But why does it become less 'acceptable' the older your baby gets? Everyone expects you to look dishevelled and sleep deprived in the first few weeks, hell, its expected that you will. And if for some reason you don't, you're not seen as 'normal'. I found myself fairly 'together' after Ericas birth, but a year or so down the line is when I found myself at my most exhausted. But by that point, people expect you to be used to it, so a sudden drop in appearance suddenly means youve dropped your standards. When they are there. Just hidden. Because you have more to do that worry about the size of your pores in a morning.

Maybe the reason we hate these It-mums so much isnt them, maybe its our own insecurities coming out in the form of jealousy. Because even tho you'd hate to admit it, thats what it is. You are completely and utterly jealous. So, you tell yourself it is them who MUST have help and maybe a live-in nanny, to make yourself feel better. After all, physical appearance isn't based on happiness.

So, walk tall, and proud, you may be unkempt, but your a brilliant mother!! After all, if these women are spending so much time on thier appearance, they must spend less time on thier babies! Ok, thats not exactly true, but bugger it, it makes me feel a whole lot better!

Baby's got some new wheels

The Pram. The pushchair, the buggy, whatever you want to call it, WILL be one of the most important purchases you make for your little bundle. For me, personally, it's one of the most exciting parts of becoming a new parent. Some people get excited about going shopping for cars, some people get excited about going shopping for an outfit for a night out. Me, I am a pram FREAK!!

It's a bloody good job I haven't won the lottery in my life, I would have a garage just for prams! One for everyday of the week!

When your looking for your first pram, there are a few considerations you need to think about before you even set foot into the shop. One, budget. Prams can range from anything from £100 for an entire travel system, to around £2000 for the latest carbon-fibre design. You need to work out a budget that is suitable for you. Secondly, do you want a travel system? This basically consists of a pram/pushchair with a compatible car seat that, can some how, attach itself to the either the bare chassis, or the seat unit. A lot of models have a removable seat unit and the car seat can just 'click' into place. This is especially useful for very short journeys, such as a quick trip to the supermarket, as baby does not need to be disturbed or woken in the transfer from the car to the pram.

When you first take that anxious step into the pram shop, it can seem very overwhelming. The different models, different colours and the enthusiastic sales women throwing themselves at you in the vain hope of sales commision. It can be very daunting. If you go in just to browse, tell them so. Say your just getting a general idea of what styles you like, and that you are not ready to make a decision. But, on the other hand, if you want thier advice, ask for it. Don't be afraid to ask about all the different functions, and the companies track record for customer service. Some companies are notorious for being known as having bad customer service, some are the exact opposite.

So, your standing there, completely clueless about what you need. What can you invisage yourself doing on a daily basis when baby is born?? Will you be taking casual trips into town to meet friends and go shopping? If so, you may need something fairly lightweight and manouverable, swivel wheels are a good feature for this purpose. If your planning on taking trips out into the countryside, or frequent activities such as dog walking, you will need a pram that can cope with off-road terrain, and maybe something fairly robust. You can get a lot of pushchairs that have extra suspension and inflatable tyres that can help with this. A nippy little buggy is probably not the best idea for these types of activities, as the small wheels can get stuck between rocks and in mud. Perhaps you want something ultra-comfy for baby, and would like to use the pram for basic trips to the shop and round to friends? There are a lot of traditional style chassis' that are compatible with a large carrycot, these tend to be sprung quite well, well padded and are ideal for use in the home as a napper, as well as outside. All carrycots are very useful as it is more comfortable to lie a newborn flat, and they do tend to be well padded. Some pushchairs profess to lay flat but in actual fact, most of them lay at a minimum 10 degree angle.

My personal experiences with prams have been as followed. During my pregnancy with Erica, we decided to purchase a Mamas and Papas o3 sport pushchair, with a matching car seat that can be used as a travel system. Its sporty design and cool black chassis looked fairly modern, and as it was a 3 wheeled pram with air-filled tyres, it was going to be very useful for our planned weekend walks. It also pushed like a dream! So smooth and manouverable. In reality, I hadn't prepared for the fact that it was heavy and quite long, and did tend to take the skin off the back of peoples legs if they walked in front of me and I couldn't stop in time. It wasn't ideal for what I actually needed it for. Yes, I had previously thought about our country walks, but i hadnt considered how it would move round a very busy Boots!
So, I bought a Silver Cross 3d Pramette. It was still fairly heavy, but I loved the fact that Erica could lay flat and I could still see her. It manouvered well, and was uber-stylish, and the pushchair was well padded. I loved it. Ericas dad, however, did not. He much preffered the sporty, 'manly' design of the o3 sport. But with both of our needs covered, we were happy.

That was until, Erica became about a year old, and pushing a heavy pram and a small toddler was a little bit of a challenge. So, we decided to buy a lightweight buggy. And after being so happy with the performance of the Silver Cross, we bought the Silver Cross Pop buggy. We were stood there in Babies 'r' us, talking over how to fold it up and down with an assistant, when Erica dramatically wriggles out of her pram straps and falls out, and her head hit the floor with a stomach-curdling thud. Baby head on marble does NOT sound nice! So, I scoop her up, shes fine, but screaming. Im terribly embarrased, and the assistant just looks on in sheer horror! Needless to say we paid for the buggy and left pretty sharpish! Kids really do know the exact times to do these things!

Handy hint, If your child is figuring out how to wriggle out of thier straps, try crossing them over in an X shape and its pretty damn impossible!

My most recent purchase when it comes to prams, is the latest model from the british company, iCandy. The peach. I chose this purely because I needed something with a carrycot, and a compatible car seat, and also because I'm able to push it one handed (a vital feature with a toddler!). Ive fallen in love with its super cool chrome design and bright colours. For me, its the Porsche of prams!

The most important rule, is just to put a lot of time and effort into your pram choice. You do not want to spend your babys first year dreading every outing. You WILL get what you need out of a pram on any budget too, it can sometimes take some searching, but you're pram is out there. Have a great time looking for it!

Friday, 7 May 2010

"I have NO expectations. Is that a good thing??"

This was a quote said to me by a close friend about her baby, due in August.

I guess we all have some expectations about what being a mother (or father!) will be like. I expected horrendous stretches of late nights, hours of crying and no social life whatsoever. But I was lucky. Erica slept well. Very well! The midwife, on home visits, was very impressed that Erica had managed to sleep from 2am till 10 am straight one night - not that I told her i spent the time from 9pm till 2am crying over the fact that Erica didnt want to do anything but chomp at my nipple! But still, I was proud. Very proud. And the 8 hour sleep did me the world of good.

So It did defy my expectations. Along with some other 'milestones'...

  • First day home, first nappy change, Erica managed to projectile-poo about 45cm past the end of the changing mat where it ran down the TV. Serves me right for having a change station in the lounge i guess!
  • The little 'period' baby girls have. one word. ewwww.
  • How difficult breastfeeding can be. Not easy. Definately NOT easy.
  • First weaning experience. More food on her face than in her belly!
  • Projectile Vomiting. Think 'The Exorcist' but cuter!
  • The first trip to A&E. Yes, she only has a temperature, but shes poorly and i want her fixing now! (at 3 am)
  • The second trip to A&E. The one where she throws her self out of her cot at 8 months old and ends up with a carpet burn on her forehead! (I think I was more traumatised than she was!) How the hell does an 8 month old fall out of a cot anyway?!
  • The first word. So cute. Makes you so proud. That is until one of the next words she learns is 'Oh shit'. Woopsies.
  • The first time you leave them at a creche or playgroup. And you go to the loo to have a little cry because they didnt even notice you leave.
  • The first scrap. This happened recently for us. Birthday party + Funfactory = fighting, a bloody nose and A&E.

I think the nurses at A&E are going to assume i have Munchausens Syndrome.

Preparing for the Birth

As the birth of my baby becomes impendingly close, my friends and I have been discussing what we will need for Labour, Birth and Beyond. One of the dreaded issues when in the 3rd trimester is, of course, Hospital bags.

Some books and websites will tell you that you only need the bear minimum and that as long as you have a 'front buttoned nightshirt', thats you're pretty much set. This, however, is not the case. A lot of women are scared of the thought of a long labour and intervention, and tend to shy away from the facts. But unfortunately, intervention is quite common, as is long first time labour. I was very lucky with the birth of Erica, I was in labour for a total of 13 hours, 3 hours less than the first-time birth 'average'. There are a few things which should be considered when packing your hospital bag.

- How you expect the experience to go: would you like a natural experience or are you willing to do whatever it takes to keep you as comfortable as possible?? Think about the possibility of using aromatherapy and holistic therapies to keep you calm and focused. If your planning a waterbirth, would you like to be naked in the pool or wearing a bikini top/t-shirt/bra?
- Will you breastfeed or bottlefeed after the birth? : If choosing to breastfeed, a nursing bra and nipple cream are essential post birth items. If bottlefeeding, decide which formula to use before hand, and which bottles could suit you. When choosing formula, think about stuff like price, availability and popularity. Often the most popular milks are the most convenient as they are widely available. When choosing bottles, think about styles, size and BPA content, if this is an issue you care about. I know that the companies SMA and Cow and Gate sell packs of 'hospital bottles', about 15 small bottles of ready made formula in sterilized small glass bottles.
- Time of year: I gave birth to Erica in a very warm April, and I took a few tins of atomised water spray to cool down (such as Magicool). Hospitals can be very warm anyway, without you being in labour! Also consider if your baby is a winter baby, if so, think about packing some cosy socks as your feet can get unusually cold in labour!
- Length of hospital stay: You may only pack 2 baby grows and vest in the hope that you will be allowed to leave hospital 6 hours after the birth, but remember, this may not always be a possibility. As much as you may not want to consider it, If you're left with a ventouse delivery or even an emergency c-section, you could end up staying for a lot longer than you had anticipated. I would suggest always taking a minimum of 3 days worth of baby clothes and underwear. Your partner can always bring more, but if your baby pees all over the place whilst you are changing her for the second time, you may go through more clothes than you think! And always anticipate that you could maybe leak blood onto your clothes, maybe 2 or 3 times a day. Its not pleasant, but its true!

Factors like these can play a big part in packing your hospital bag. A lot of first time mums will pack what they have been told to by magazines and websites etc, but this is often not enough. On the day I left hospital, I had ran out of clothes, and asked my partner to bring me some to leave in. He made it all the way to the hospital gates before realising he had forgotten and had to drive the 20 mins journey back! So dont always rely on your 'better half' to remember for you! Men are notorious for forgetting things in a sleep-deprived state!

So this is my list for essential Hospital Items.
  • 1 pack of newborn nappies (never underestimate a newborns ability to poop!)
  • Cotton wool balls (Hospitals do NOT reccomend baby wipes)
  • 3 vests
  • 3 sleepsuits/babygrows
  • 3 hats
  • 3 pairs of scratch mitts
  • 1 newborn cardigan
  • 2 blankets
  • 6 muslin squares/burpies
  • Going home outfit for baby
  • 5 pairs of BIG knickers!
  • Slippers (hospitals have cold floors!)
  • Dressing Gown
  • Maternity pads
  • Breast Pads (even if bottle feeding)
  • 3 nighties/pairs of PJs
  • Nursing bra (if needed)
  • Nipple cream (if needed, Lansinoh is expensive but worth it!)
  • Toiletries (don't wash 'down there' with heavily perfumed soaps! very sore!)
  • Going home outfit for you (NO pre-preg jeans!)
  • Possibly a comfy outfit for wear on the ward.
  • Chocolate/Snacks (if not used in labour will be used in middle of night during feeds!!)
  • Camera
  • Mobile Phone or loose change and numbers list
  • If formula feeding, bring formula and bottles (you can ask your midwife for the policies on formula feeding, some hospitals will provide some milk)

Of course there are a lot of other 'luxury items' that you can take too. Such as make-up, body moisturiser, straws (for drinking during labour) and cordial (warm hospital water = bad!!).

Sit down, and have a good think about what you think may make your life easier. What makes you feel nice and special and how you would feel if you did have to stay in hospital longer than you expected. Try and make it a pleasant one, its one stay you will always remember.


I'm sure all new bloggers sit there, staring at the screen, thinking what on earth to write?? I am no different.

So I thought i'd start by explaining a little about my reasons for becoming a 'Mummy Blogger'.

I am a (nearly) 22 year old mum of a 2 year old girl called Erica, the absolute reason I was placed on this earth for, and am currently expecting another little bundle of joy in mid july. Another daughter.

Whilst going through this pregnancy, I have met several lovely ladies online, who have become very dear to me, all of us from very different backgrounds, kind of like an online 'Baby group' in a way. Now, we are all of different ages and different 'classes' (god, I hate that phrase!) but we all have this connection, and we all have our very valued individual input. I think i'm most possibly known as 'the one with the advice', advice, that I have been told, is much more advanced than my 22 years.

I don't know why, and I don't know how, but I thrive of anything 'baby'. I think if someone came to me and told me that they needed a pram for certain reasons, in a certain colour, and within a certain price range, I could probably tell them off the top of my head, without even so much as a glance at a catalogue. Maybe its a gift, maybe its just plain sad, but I love it! Put me in a room with nervous pregnant women, and i'm in my element!

Now I dont profess to get this whole parenting lark right, nobody does (or should), no matter who your are or where you come from. But I can understand the fears that all new mums go through. I have very much been there, done that, got the baby food stained t-shirt. And I would love to share my experiences with people (if they would like to listen!) about this new phase in my life. The dreaded 'terrible twos' and juggling that with late pregnancy and a newborn.

At present, I am struggling to deal with the fact that I have been diagnosed with SPD/PGP whichever you want to call it, and have been practically put on the next best thing to bed rest for the next 10 weeks. That is no mean feat for someone who thrives in being an independent 'young' mum, with the ability to keep a clean and tidy home, take good care of a very independent little 2 year old, and manages to maintain an active social life. So it has been a major blow to my self-confidence (especially when you struggle to put on your socks in a morning!).

So, here I am, sat on my backside, desperate for normality, and itching to pick up every single peice of jigsaw puzzle as soon as it hits the floor... The physiotherapist may have told me what to do and what not to do, but, can someone please tell Erica??!!