20 February 2017

Preparing for Baby Number Two with The Baby Box Company Giveaway...

I imagined that things would be different the second time around, but not quite as different perhaps as  this. By the time I reached the third trimester in my first pregnancy, baby already had it's own bedroom fully kitted out with a wardrobe filled with every single item of new baby paraphernalia that one might need. I'd spend any spare moment I had just mooching through the immaculately organised drawers and the shelves, lightly touching and admiring my Mummy-to-be handiwork, full of anticipation for our new arrival. I'd rearrange each little soft toy and re-fold all the blankets so they were just right and I would meticulously go through endless to-do and to-buy lists to ensure that we were ready.

Little did I know then that no amount of folding or organising would make us any more ready or prepared for how life would be once our little thunder bolt of joy entered our lives. So you'd think I'd be taking comfort in this knowledge and not give two hoots as to how prepared we are this time around. Na-ah. My pregnancy hormones are telling me what I should be doing by now, but the reality is that living with my parents whilst our house is still being renovated, things will have to be very different this time around whether my hormones like it or not.

Whilst I'm currently torn between my urge to nest and the panic that I'm no where near as prepared as I was last time around, I need to face facts that as long as baby has clean clothes, milk and an abundance of love- he or she will be more than OK. Mummy needs to suck it up and stop torturing herself with perfect nursery interiors on Instagram pronto.

So when the lovely people over at the The Baby Box Company got in touch and asked if I'd like to review one of their beautiful baby hampers I was so chuffed to finally stop moping and take a moment to focus on something lovely for our poor neglected baby number two. 

The Baby Box Company 

If there's one gift people love buying, it's bits for a new baby. Even if your sprogs have flown the nest or you're still waiting for your turn with the stork, there's nothing quite like that warm fuzzy feeling you get when mooching through those teeny weeny cotton baby grows and incy wincy accessories. But what goes with what? What do new parents actually need? The whole expedition can become a bit of a minefield.

Well the Baby Box Company aims to take away all that stress with it's beautiful range of high quality baby gifts, ready-made hampers and gifts for Mums, (yes, don't forget us!) Everything one might need to celebrate a new arrival can be found all in one handy category- for boys, girls or neutral. If time is of the essence there are an array of gorgeous pre-made thoughtful hampers are available to suit just about any gift requirements or budget. 

I received one of their 'really useful' hampers filled with a selection of newborn essentials including an Aden and Anais muslin, (which are my favourite brand of muslins- they wash beautifully!) a pair of Sock Ons which I've always wanted to try out, a super soft cotton bodysuit and matching hatch in my fave neutral pattern- grey stars and of course a very handy dribble bib. All items from my previous experience will most definitely come in useful. 

The quality of the products are fabulous and it was super exciting opening up the box, mooching and cooing at all the items. It was a real treat and has kickstarted my flutterbies of excitement to start sorting things out for baby number two. 

You can check out the full range of beautiful new baby gifts that The Baby Box Company has to offer over on their website, but in the mean time why not enter our giveaway to win yourself or a friend one of their medium sized gift hampers? It couldn't be simpler, just enter using the Rafflecopter application below...

UK entries only. Giveaway closes Monday 27th February at midnight. Full terms and conditions can be found within the Rafflecopter. Good Luck peeps!

Collaborative Post- Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! 
read more " Preparing for Baby Number Two with The Baby Box Company Giveaway... "

11 January 2017

Choosing Childcare...What Should We Do?

"I think nursery would be good for her...and you" 

It's something that's been said to me on more than one occasion over the past few months and it's something that's been on mind ever since I was pregnant with Elsie. But how do you decide what childcare is the best thing for your child and for you? 

We've been very fortunate in that we haven't had any pressure to send Elsie to nursery or to a childminder as my mum takes care of Elsie when I'm at work, but I've long pondered what the affects might be on being a stay-at-home-baby as opposed to being a nursery-baby? She's totally nurtured for in every kind of way being at home with us, with regular trips to various places from the park to the garden centre and our home is supplied with enough toys to keep a small toy shop afloat. But with a new baby on the way and it becoming harder to keep her overactive mind stimulated each and every day, I'm beginning to seriously worry that she might be missing out on something from being at home full-time? 

Do stay-at-home-babies miss out? 

There are the obvious aspects that I'm concerned she might be lacking, such as socialising with other children her age, having access to a range of simulating activities, being in a learning environment from an early age, being taught and disciplined from other adults outside of the family unit and most importantly, realising that she's not the only tiny human in the universe. But making the decision to send your child to nursery- where you don't know the childcare assistants or how well your child will be cared for in your absence is a really hard thing to shake off.

How would she cope without me there?

Now I know that kids are robust and adapt quickly, but what if Jacob the hard nut kid who has been ruling the nursery rooms from 6 months old keeps pushing her over and making her cry? What if Stacey the nursery key worker doesn't clock onto this fact because she's busy dealing with Sophie the winging kid who won't join in and just sits in the corner crying for her mummy? What if my child is the one who struggles to play with other kids or is the one sitting in the corner crying? What if she hurts herself and no one sees her? What if she chokes on something and no one is watching her? What if she thinks I've abandoned her? What if she hates it? What if she hates me for sending her there? My reservations are endless and these are just a snippet of the scenarios and excuses that run through my head as to why I shouldn't send her to nursery. 

I won't be there to protect her.
You can't protect them forever.
But that's my job. 

I'm fully aware that at some point she'll have to go to school. Crikey, I still can't manage to carry out simple household tasks without her toddling behind me causing enough havoc to make it look as if we're trying to stage a burglary in our home. I keep telling myself that 'creating mess' is just one of her many talents rather than her being on a mission to send me over the edge. Failing that thought, I think she might just be a little bored. But by the time she goes to school she'll be able to tell me if she's not happy, or if Jacob's being an annoying twit, or if the teacher is ignoring her or if she fell over and hurt herself? Am I just being a little too overprotective perhaps?

You might be holding her back.

Every parent worries about their child's development. We get huge kicks out of little milestones like following instructions, learning words, remembering simple tasks and showing signs that they are blossoming into little independent people that we created. These are the things that reward us and make us feel as if we're doing something right in the midst of all the shite and pure knackeredness. So I can't help but on occasion compare her to other friend's children who have been attending nursery for some time already. They generally do seem more confident in play, communication and independence and none of those parents regret sending them off to nursery, they all in fact rave about it. Not the fees of course, but that's another debate altogether. 

It will do you both good.
But it's not just about me is it? 

On my quest to gaining back just a little control over my life, nursery would be the perfect solution for me too. There's no denying that when I do have a little free time to crack on with housework or take some time for myself I'm then more relaxed and excited to give her my full attention, we both win. But there's still that looming sense of guilt that comes with 'palming' your child off, especially when you're not at work. 

You won't know unless you try. 

That 'overwhelming sense of love' that everyone talks about when you become a parent also comes hand in hand with an 'overwhelming sense of guilt'. We feel guilt and doubt in practically every decision we make where our babies are concerned and I'm pretty sure that guilt is the overall factor in my reservations about sending her to nursery. Guilt if I send her and guilt if I don't. But I can only keep her wrapped up in cotton wool for so long. There's a big wide world out there and like all parents I want her to get the most from it but in a safe and nurtured environment.

The only way I'll find out if nursery is right for us is to give it a try. 

Were you torn between keeping your baby at home or sending them to nursery? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below... 

read more " Choosing Childcare...What Should We Do? "

5 January 2017

Embracing A New Year...Looking Forward & Finding The Positives

Well 2016 you've been my toughest year yet and whilst I appreciate that you could have been a whole lot worse, you sure did test me. But with my mind on the mend and so much to look forward to this new year, it's time to reflect, learn and most importantly look forward.

This past year has been full of changes. I spent the first part of the year wrapped up in our bubble before I went back to work in May which stressfully coincided with us selling our first home and moving in with my parents whilst we renovate a house. A project that we hadn't quite anticipated would be so involved, so expensive and so blooming stressful. These are the bits that are somewhat overlooked when you're sitting comfortably on your sofa watching re-runs of Grand Designs. The bits where your head hits the ceiling when you realise how much a toilet costs and that every single part of it is sold separately. The bit where you actually weigh up what you could realistically live without for about a year- a bathroom or a kitchen. The bit where you're up until 11pm debating and discussing pipes. Who knew pipes could be talked about so much? And yep you're right, they were the most boring conversations I've had to date.

But things are progressing and whatever our builder says, I'm moving in before the new baby arrives. Bathroom or no bathroom. See I'm already being positive.

So whilst we practically took over my parents house, living more comfortably than any little family could ever hope to, we plodded on making the most of our limbo life. In the midst of juggling a new home life, work and house renovations, we focused one very exciting milestone- celebrating our little girl's first birthday. This will always be a time that I'll look back on with such pride and love, but also sadness. On the surface I was consumed with pretty pink themes and commemorating the day with as much attention and precision that goes into planning a Royal event. Behind the scenes I was struggling to breathe. 

My sadness was explained when I became the main focus of Elsie's twelve month check up when the health visitor picked up on something, opening up the flood gates and diagnosing me with post-natal depression. I felt as if someone had removed a heavy rock from my chest and I could finally breathe more steadily than I had done in almost a year.

My fog hasn't completely gone. I still feel it sometimes. It comes back in little washes, rather than huge waves, but I see things clearer now and I feel as if this new vision has a lot to do with a little surprise we received. All the while my fog was being acknowledged, I was cooking our happy accident. A little light that helped me to find my way out of the dark tunnel and yet another curve ball which has well and truly made us realise that whatever your plans, science and nature both have their very own plans in mind.

Looking Forward

For the first time in a few years I won't be setting myself any specific New Years resolutions. My usual ones ('lose weight' and 'save money') will be even less achievable now that I'm up the duff and have a house to finish building before baby arrives. So instead, this year I've made a different kind of promise to myself...

To take each day as it comes. To think of the positives before I let the negatives take over. To remind myself of all the great things I've achieved so far and what I'm yet to do. To notice the little things and appreciate them as big things. To remember to do things that used to make me happy and feel inspired.

To laugh everyday. To smile everyday. To say I Love You everyday. To be grateful and thankful. To say Thank You everyday. To ask for help when I need it. To ask for a hug when I've had one of those days. To tell someone when I'm finding it hard to breathe. To remember to breathe. To take some time for myself and with the man I love. To remember how we got here and where we're going to go.

To embrace the mess and chaos as it surely won't last forever. To enjoy the good moments and brush off the bad. To appreciate our time together and remember that it will be gone before too long.

To thank my lucky stars that I became a mother. To remember that I'm doing a good job even on the shite balls days. To realise that none of this was meant to be easy. To realise that everything can make you stronger, not weaker. To continue being honest and to help other parents out there who are struggling to find their voices.

And lastly, to remember who I was and introduce her to the new me. I hope that some day they will be good friends.

Happy New Year to you all. May it be filled with adventures, love and lots of positive stuff.
read more " Embracing A New Year...Looking Forward & Finding The Positives "

22 December 2016

Christmas Eve Box for Babies...For Last Minute Mummies

If there was one thing I couldn't wait to do when starting a family, it was starting our own family traditions particularly at Christmas. Although it's only now that I've become a parent and realise the full extent that goes into keeping everyone alive throughout the entire year, one has to choose very wisely as to what kinds of traditions you want to invest your valuable time in.

Take this right old faff of a craze, 'Elf on the shelf' for example. I absolutely take my hat off to any parent who has the energy and oomph to pull this one off for an entire month. Your kids are very lucky. I for one will be taking an oath that I won't ever be conned/tricked/guilt tripped into inviting any sodding elf to stay at our house for four weeks just to have to purposely create a mess (that said "elf" made whilst we were sleeping) and then have to clean it up the following day and again every day for a whole month! No thank you, I've got enough crap to clean up without creating it myself.

But there is one new fad or tradition that I would like to start and that is the Christmas Eve Box and so I thought I'd share the first box that I've put together for Elsie this year. I had been planning to write this post for the beginning of December, but, like everything in my life these days, plans mean diddly squat. Plus our Christmas Eve Box didn't actually arrive until two days ago, so instead I thought I'd do this post with a twist and include some DIYs and ideas for any last minute parents who still plan to put together a box for their little ones. Most of the contents can be picked up at your nearest supermarket- if you're brave enough to face the last minute Christmas rush! 

The Box

I ordered Elsie's personalised box around the beginning of November from the Festive Studio. It was a little splurge, but it's a one off and I hope to use it for many years to come. Baring in mind that most fifteen month olds will be totally unaware of all the effort we're going to, a simple shoe box covered in wrapping will absolutely suffice- they'll be more interested in the contents, or tissue paper anyway. 

Festive PJ's 

The Rudolph bedtime onesie came as a two pack from Tescos which I purchased a few weeks ago and now every blooming supermarket I've been to this week (and I've been in quite a few!) have already put their festive clothes on sale, so if you're quick you can pick up something suitable and half price just in time. 

Sweet Treat 

I'm really trying to limit the amount of sugar Elsie has which is turning into a bit of a challenge now that she is aware of everything. I've even had to hide her advent calendar because she's become a little obsessed with it. Whoever invented chocolate advent calendars has a lot to answer for. So instead of filling her box with treats that will keep our already overactive non-sleeper awake until New Year, I'll be putting in one of her usual Naked fruit snack bars. Well I might as well whilst she's none the wiser. 

A Little Bit Of Magic

Another completely unnecessary item this year, but a cute touch none the less is some reindeer food. You can relatively quickly make you're own using this recipe and can package it up using any one of these ideas on Pinterest and add a quirky poem which I found here

Oh and the magic snow, I have no idea what it's for, but apparently it's a thing. So if you've got the time (or can be bothered) and want to inject a little extra magic this year, then similar ideas and DIY's can be found over here.


I picked up this fluffy reindeer from Waitrose and again I've seen similar toys all in the sale already at various supermarkets so hopefully something fun can be purchased reasonably easily and more importantly, cheaply. 


My friend made this very cute personalised milk bottle for Elsie which she said was super easy to make, so I've found a selection of easy(ish) DIY's such a this snowman bottlereindeer bottle, and sparkly snowflake bottle.


There wasn't much point in including a DVD or activity set for Elsie. She's got the attention span of a gnat, but she does love a book. These touchy-feely board books are her particular faves, so I picked up 'That's Not My...Snowman" in my local supermarket, which will keep her entertained for all of two minutes on Christmas Eve. 

Wishing all my lovely readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you so much for your continued support this year. I appreciate that I'm not the most consistent of bloggers, but it means so much to know that you're still there when I do find a moment to blog. Next year I really hope to make more time for the blog as it makes me really happy and finding my happy place has never been more important to me than after this year.

read more " Christmas Eve Box for Babies...For Last Minute Mummies "

19 December 2016

Our Happy Accident...Baby Number Two

If you've been following me over on Instagram you'll know that Elsie made a little announcement over the Halloween weekend. She is indeed going to become a big sister, a bit a lot earlier than expected as we are expecting baby number two, due in May next year...BIGGEST EEK EVER!

It's taken me such a long time to finally finish this post. Partly because most of my time is swallowed up being a working parent trying to keep everyone alive and afloat and partly because I've felt like absolute shite balls. Similarly with my first pregnancy, the early stages of the cooking process do not agree with my sitting down at a computer to write. If I'm given any time to actually sit, my body would much rather stare at a blank wall, with as less movement as possible, trying not to throw up for the umpteenth time. But I'm slowly emerging from the nauseating-leave-me-alone-while-dry-heave- first trimester phase so have been able to keep my eyes open long enough to bring my blog readers up to speed with the announcement of our happy accident.

Needless to say this pregnancy was a little massive surprise, but after our first experience trying for a baby, we are really excited to get all the messy crap and sleepless nights out the way extend our little  family and are so thankful that this baby is already taking us on a very different journey towards completing our family.

One of the many things that have already been different this time around was actually breaking the news to our family. I don't think I've been this nervous about telling my parents anything before. Considering that we are currently residing under their roof whilst we renovate our house, I really did feel like an underage teenager having to fess up to the 'rents that they were up the duff. But surprisingly they took it a lot better than everyone else, including the Hubster. His reaction was just as unpredictable as last time when he thought I was about to tell him that there was a ghost in the flat as opposed to hearing that he was about to become a father. This time around the conversation went a little like this...

Me: Erm...I've got something to tell you...
Hubster: What....?
Me: I'm pregnant.

Cue husband looking as if I've just slapped him around the face with a large wet fish. 
Sometime passes and I wonder for a moment if he's had a heart attack. 

Hubster: You're joking?
Me: Nope.

Cue husband busting into fits of nervous laughing. Repeatedly saying 'Oh my god...' 
I still think a heart attack is quite possibly on the cards. 

Hubster: Oh my god, I thought you were going to say that you'd blown the entire house budget on something...
Me: As if...
Husbter: I wish you had...

Cue shocked pregnant wife face about to cry before Hubster quickly retracts last sentence. 

Hubster: Only joking, this is great news.

Cue another bout of nervous laughter from both of us, more 'oh my gods' and a few 'shit's' thrown in for good measure. 

We hug it out, remind ourselves of all the pros that come with this being a surprise pregnancy as opposed to last time around and we continue watching The Walking Dead.

There is no doubt that our life is bit crazy right now and logistically I don't know how I'm going to cope, (two under two...ahhh!) But my heart is extremely happy and grateful that we've been given another gift which ironically couldn't have come at a more perfect time.  If there is one thing I've learnt when wanting to start a family of your own- you can't plan your perfect timing, you can only wait for it and appreciate every minute of it when it does happen. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent such kind messages and well wishes since our little announcement...I'm excited to share this next chapter of our lives with you xxx
read more " Our Happy Accident...Baby Number Two "

7 November 2016

Postnatal Depression...My Story Part One: Acknowledging The Fog

It's a funny old business this parenting lark.

No matter how much you search for it, there isn't a book, website or any advice given from another parent that can in any way shape or form prepare you for your own experience when becoming a parent.

As far as I'm aware, I've never made it a secret that I've struggled. I've never said any part of this was easy and I've never been found to preach about how wonderful motherhood is, because quite frankly no one wants to hear that when you're up to your eye balls in yellow (sometimes, brown, sometimes green) crap and you're not entirely sure if that's snot, dribble or porridge in your hair.

I've always found ways to mask my struggles in a light hearted manner, coating my dark days with humour and sarcasm to take the edge off what I was really thinking about my new life and it really wasn't all that funny at all.

There is a whole other side to my experience of becoming a parent which I've barely spoken aloud about up until now. Even my nearest and dearest have no idea about things I'm about to share. I still struggle to find the words to say out loud what it is that's been tormenting me. I feel embarrassed to admit that it's something 'I've got,' and I still feel ashamed that 'it got me'. It's something I might never really understand or want to discuss in person, but writing about it helps me and I just wonder if there might be anyone else out there who, like me, is too frightened to utter the words or admit that there might be something not quite right.

Acknowledging The Fog

I sensed that something was a little off balance quite early on. That there was this fog constantly loitering around me, waiting for the slightest moment of weakness to arise, just waiting for me to crack so it could swallow me bit by bit. The fog would feed itself hungrily on dark long days and dark long nights and the more of those it gobbled up, the bigger and stronger it became.

I knew becoming a parent wouldn't be easy, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I'd find it this hard. When everyone kept saying that 'things would get easier', they only seemed to get harder for me. The months rolled on and I waited. I waited so patiently for life to get easier but it never did.
I waited for things to click, for life to become in some little way easier but it just never happened.

The fog never left.

It grew stronger, thicker and darker and as Elsie's First Birthday approached it really hit me that something definitely wasn't right. How can I still be finding life this hard after a year?

So much so, that I didn't recognise myself anymore.

Who Is This Girl?

It was only then that I realised, or admitted, how very sad inside I really was. I missed the happy person I used to be. Where had she gone? She was always so full of optimism, she was happy and positive and most of the time fun. I was none of the these things anymore. I was so angry. Angry at the world, at myself and mostly at my husband. We were in this together, we wanted this together and yet why did I feel so alone and so defensive in my foggy world?

I'd find myself saying things, horrible things, that I'd sometimes shock myself. I had zero patience for absolutely anything that didn't involve Elsie. I was always on the edge ready to flip, armed and well equipped with some negative and miserable responses that were on the most part unnecessary and sometimes hurtful. Who was this person? This miserable person, who wanted the days to end so badly and who hoped more than anything that things would be better tomorrow, that tomorrow would be better? I didn't know this girl at all.

Maybe I wasn't Meant to be a Mother?

With the fog brought a constant guilt. We had wanted to become parents so badly, so why wasn't I happy? I wished so hard that I could be happy. To have the perfect life again, for things to be easy, for me to be that positive person I so badly missed. I tried, I really tried to see the good in everything and to see everything I had to be grateful for. I willed it. I used to squeeze my eyes shut and hope that when I'd open them again the fog would have lifted and I'd be in my happy world again. But it didn't happen.

I felt like a failure in all aspects of my life. I was drowning every which way I turned and didn't feel like anything I did was right. I couldn't keep up with anything I wanted to do. Our home was a mess, I was a mess, everything always felt like such a mess. Why was I getting everything so wrong?

To top it all off I was permanently knackered. When you have a baby who doesn't sleep, it's not just hard to get through the day, it's near on impossible to get through life. There's no let up. There's no re-charging time. There's no me-even-just-for-an-hour-time. It's endless, it's relentless, it's beyond exhausting. This, I will always swear, will be one of the main reason to my having postnatal depression.

But here I was walking around a shadow of my former self.

I kept plodding along, telling myself that it was meant to be this hard. That none of this was meant to be easy and that I just somehow needed to suck it up and get on with it. But this of course only made me feel more negatively towards myself and my capability as a mother. Maybe I wasn't meant to be a mother? Maybe this wasn't for me and I was destined to be just Katie forever. We tried for so long to conceive naturally, but then we medalled with nature and now this was my karma.

The mind can be such a lonely, mean place.

Bad vs. Good

Subconsciously I was constantly counting the good days verses the bad days. This is the bit that makes me the saddest of all. That even after a year of having the most amazing little person in my life and feeling my heart grow bigger and so full with love and pride, each day was marked with a 'good' or 'bad' stamp.

The bad always outweighed the good, no matter how much I tried to pretend they didn't.

The good days weren't even based on anything particularly good. They were judged on things like having not cried that day, or not wanting to run away, or just generally feeling OK. Those were the good days and it makes me sad to wonder how differently the last year would have been if the fog wasn't around. I always wonder what life would have been like if the old me had been around. The happy me. The one who saw the good in life. Would she have found becoming a parent so much easier? Would life have been lovelier had she stuck around? I suppose I'll never know.

As a family we are still trying to figure out how to move forward. Life is particularly stressful right now, but with so much to look forward to and so much to appreciate, I'm determined to figure this out.

I'm not in a position to offer any advice to others as it's still quite early days for me, but what I can say is that just acknowledging the fog really helped clear the air around me. It's made me seek help and start the process of finding my old self again. I really need her right now. One thing I know for certain is that even in the midst of the bad days, it's my girl who keeps me going. She needs me, she needs all of me and I owe it to her and my husband to piece myself back together.
read more " Postnatal Depression...My Story Part One: Acknowledging The Fog "

19 October 2016

First Birthday Gift Ideas...

She doesn't need anything.
She won't have a clue what all the fuss is about.
You mustn't spend a fortune.
Don't go mad.

These were just some of the bits of advice I was given in the lead up to planning Elsie's first birthday. But of course, as new parents, we usually prefer to figure out these things for ourselves don't we? The first birthday is a huge deal after all. Ok so perhaps there was some element of truth to the advice, but I'd been planning and saving for this momentous occasion for some time so there wasn't much that was going to stop this very excited Mummy. 

So what do you buy for a one year old who would much rather eat car keys and empty the entire contents of anyone's handbag? Yes, we struggled too, so in the name of being helpful, or perhaps not so helpful when it comes to splurging the pennies on a tiny human who will undoubtedly prefer to rip apart the box anything of any value arrived in, here's a little collection of First Birthday Gift Ideas...

Something Personal...Or For Mummy

It's no secret that one of my great pride and joys is our Joolz pram. Even a year on I haven't gone down the lighter stroller route like most of my friends as I still absolutely love using it. Just when I think I couldn't love it anymore, Joolz very kindly sent us an amazing personalised bumper bar just in time for Elsie's birthday. 

So technically this was more a gift for mummy rather than baby, who really doesn't understand why I don't want her to wipe her mucky paws all over her beautiful new personalised bumper bar. But seeing as Mummy still looks like she's been dug up and always regrets whatever mismatched and screwed up ensemble she's wearing most days, she might as well be pushing a gorgeous pram to take the focus off hey?

Something For The Home 

We are currently renovating our house from top to bottom and while the Hubster is consumed with the important things like electricity and central heating, I'm getting a little ahead of myself and focusing on all the really important things, like cushions and curtains. Obviously. So when I stumbled on this personalised rocking chair from My 1st Years I couldn't resist getting Elsie one for her birthday. Ok so a chair isn't the most practical gift for a child who, unless she's harnessed in from all angles, won't sit still for more than 12 seconds, (I counted) but it will look very cute in her bedroom one day and I'm sure (I'm praying) she'll learn the art of sitting still long enough to make use of it. 

I also picked up a little personalised rucksack from My 1st Years too, which has been perfect for putting Elsie's packed lunches in when we go out for the day.

Something Fun

I'd been looking for an activity table for some time with the hope that it would encourage Elsie to stand and play, so when I finally found this one from the Early Learning Centre I was really pleased. It's really simple and oh so cute in design. With some encouragement Elsie is starting to play well and show interest in how all the little activities work. If you're looking for a toy that isn't a complete eye sore then this activity table is perfect. 

Something Musical

Elsie loves music. It's hilarious watching her hear the beat of any song and start bopping her head to the beat. The girl's got rhythm, (I think she got it from me...well she sure as heck didn't get it from her chicken leg grooving Daddy!) and dancing is definitley something I want to encourage her in as she gets a little older. Fisher-Price have recently released BeatBelle, the adorable sister of BeatBo, a musical alien that lights up and grooves to encourage baby to get up and move to the beat. With a bright multi-coloured light up tummy BeatBelle dances and moves along to her music. She comes with three modes of play to grow with baby and she even has a record button to personalise your own musical tune! 

BeatBelle has gone down a storm in the Albury household. At first Elsie was a little scared of her, well who wouldn't be if a funny looking alien started moving and singing at you. But she soon warmed up to her and enjoyed tapping away at her feet and bopping to the tunes. It's not just Elsie who has enjoyed getting down to BeatBelle's boogie, the rest of the family have had a hoot recording our own voices saying various, all baby appropriate of course, things...'have you pooed?' is a personal favourite of mine. Don't judge, we don't get out much these days and BeatBelle's alien voice is very funny.

I definitely think that as she get's a little more confident with walking and then dancing she'll make more use of this musical activity toy and we'll have lots of fun doing the BeatBelle Boogie! So if your little one is loving their music right now then this would be the perfect gift if you want to hold off on the drum kit for the time being. 

Thank you to Joolz and Fisher-Price for working with The Enchanting Blog.
read more " First Birthday Gift Ideas... "

16 October 2016

Elsie's Birth Story...

I do love a birth story.

Even before we were considering having a baby, when friends of our's had newly become parents, I was always keen to whisk past the 'how you feeling?" and "oh he/she is just adorable..." formalities so that I could get to the nitty gritty. I was always intrigued about that part of becoming a parent that frightened me and yet fascinated me the most- the birth story.

After Elsie arrived, I spent many a long night reminiscing about her birth and the key moments I wanted to pen down and remember forever. Time went on and I never found the time to sit down and actually write it, although I also wonder if I've been putting it off for fear of reliving details of an experience that was so wonderful yet so physically painful and life changing. Remembering the day that Elsie entered the world is like an out of body experience. I still find it hard to comprehend that that was me.

One of my first thoughts after giving birth, other than 'holy crap, will I ever be able to sit on a park bench again?", was that women are bloody incredible. I literally wanted to call every woman I've ever known to have given birth whether by c-section, natural or sneezed the kid out for all I cared. I just wanted to tell them that we were all supersonic. But there's no denying that however one does give birth, it's a trauma. Your body goes through such an intense and physical ordeal that it's hard not to relive some of those emotional moments and not remember the fear.

Yes women have been giving birth for a bazillion years, but it still is, and forever will be, one of the most intense and frightening experiences a person can go through. It's hard not to think back to that day without feeling quite emotional. Remembering my husband's face and all the little snippets of memories where I recall we felt that fear. We had come so far and were so emotionally entangled in the process that it's only natural to fear that something could go wrong. But we were lucky in our experience and for that I will always be grateful.

So here it is, a year after it happened, Elsie's birth story...

Due to my having gestational diabetes, we were booked in to be induced on Tuesday 25th August, five days before baby's due date.

Like most Mummas ready to pop, I was already having trouble sleeping, (or what I thought then was trouble sleeping, ha! How naive I was...) so I was up super early, around 6am. Plenty of time to wash and straighten my hair and shave my legs. Little did I know then that this would in fact be the last time in a very long time that I would have the time to achieve all of these things on the same day.

"Call us at 7.00am and you'll be given a time to come into the ward..."

I was literally pacing the flat waiting for 7am to arrive. Everything was packed. Bag for baby, a bag for me, a bag full of snacks and my crisp new nursing pillow all ready by the front door. Not forgetting my perfect little bag of colostrum test tubes waiting patiently in the freezer. I couldn't eat anything I was so nervous and thanks to having spent the previous three weeks nesting, there was literally nothing to do around the home, except pace. Again, if only I'd known then that having nothing to do would soon be a thing of the past.

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"Come in for 8.30am"

Eeek! I remember driving to the hospital I kept holding the Hubster's hand thinking this is the last journey we'll do together, just me and you. I wish I could remember the song that was playing, but my mind was all fuzzy, but I do remember that comfortable silence, just me and you. 

We arrived on the ward and chose a bed right by the window and I'm so pleased we did. I love being able to see the sky and on this particularly warm day, the colours of the sunset later that day became a calming focus during what I now know was labour.

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"You're only half a centimetre dilated"

Brilliant. Having had two sweeps previously leading up to this day, the midwife with extremely long fingers went in for a third attempt. Turns out three is the magic number. Either that or she did really have extremely long fingers. Nice. 

We made ourselves comfortable and tried to take away the nerves by watching Catch Me If You Can on the iPad. We got to about seventeen minutes in and I couldn't focus on it anymore, something was happening. 

Tuesday 25th August 2015 
"You should try and get some fresh air, go for a walk"

Sickness, diarrhoea and a certain pain that meant I couldn't talk for a few minutes each time began in waves, but no one ever said I was in labour. Holy cow bags. If this wasn't labour, I wasn't going to survive it.

We managed a walk around the hospital building but we kept having to stop every ten paces so that I could breathe through what I now know to be back contractions. Over the course of the next nine hours everything got more intense and the world filtered out whilst I focused on surviving and throwing up. 

Tuesday 25th August 2015 
"I need to assess you to see how things have progressed..."

Nope. Not happening. I'm not moving. If I open my eyes or move an inch, I'll crack.


Tuesday 25th August 2015
"Do you think she's ready to move so I can check her?"

Nope. Still not moving. Still not looking. Do not interrupt my counting or weird hand gesture woman or I'll crack. Leave me alone here to die and think about what on earth makes women EVER want to put themselves through this again? 

I couldn't speak. I couldn't open my eyes. 

The world around me had disappeared and only my breathing, counting and some weird hand gesture that I saw my yoga teacher do, existed in my head. If I'd taken even a peep into the real world I would have cracked and there would have been no going back. However, I was very aware that there had been a midwife hovering around us for quite some time now, waiting to poke her fingers up my foof to see if the pessary was working. It bloody better be otherwise what the heck was this pain? 

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"I really need to assess her now..."

She wasn't bogging off... I had to eventually muster up the energy to move. Slowly and carefully and without opening my eyes.

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"I'm afraid you're only 1.5 centimetres dilated..." 

That's it. I'm going to die. This isn't normal and I'm going to die.

Wednesday 26th August 2015 
I need a wee. 

Or so I thought. This wee turned into one almighty gush of just about any liquid excretion from ones body as humanly possible, including my waters and a lot of blood.

Wednesday 26th August 2015 
"She's fully dilated we need to get her up to delivery..."

Our peaceful corner of the ward was shattered as an alarm was raised and before I knew it were were surrounded by midwives all busy doing something.

They tried to get me to sit in a wheelchair but I shook my head and said that I needed to push. Sitting in a chair was definitely not an option at the present time. So back on the ward bed I went and off they rushed us to the delivery ward.

"There aren't any delivery suites available" one midwife said nervously and it was at this point it dawned on me that babies can be born absolutely anywhere. When you hear stories of women giving birth in car parks and on the side of motorways I've always thought, really? Couldn't you hold it for a bit longer? Ha! When a tiny human is ready to exit the body it's bloody ready to exit the body and you have about as much control over it as stopping a poo mid flow when you've had a dodgy curry the night before. It ain't happening.

"Shall we take her to a birthing pool? Would you like that Katie?"

Er I would have very much loved that pool sweet midwife FIFTEEN HOURS AGO. You'll be lucky to fill up a water balloon before this sprog exits my vagina let alone fill up a whole bloody great bath tub.

And breathe.

I so needed to push and at this moment in time I didn't care if I gave birth in a shark cage let alone a delivery suite. This baby was coming.

Wednesday 26th August 2015
This is it. 

With no delivery suites available, they whizzed us into a recovery room instead and within moments the midwives had turned a stark hospital room into a calm, dimly lit sanctuary and I can honestly say I've never felt more ready for anything in my life. This was happening and I knew exactly what I had to do. Everything we had waited for and everything we'd planned for had brought us to this moment. The moment where we became parents.

"Listen to my voice darling and only my voice..." my fairy Godmother Midwife Pauline said... I listened. I pushed when she said push, I rested when she said rest and I breathed when she said breathe. I owe my quick, safe and fairly straight forward (as much as anyone could hope for) birth to this woman and for that I will be eternally grateful.

At 2.11am on Wednesday 26th August, in the amber glow of a recovery suite, our little bean said hello to the world. The midwife placed baby on my chest and it squawked and squirmed with it's long arms flailing everywhere like a monkey falling from a tree.

The Hubster and I spent a few minutes checking over every tiny finger and toe and it was a while before it dawned on me that we didn't even know whether our baby was was a boy or a girl. "Don't you already know?" asked the midwife. Clearly they don't get a lot of gender surprises these days. "Let Daddy find out," she said as she helped me lift baby off my chest.

"It's a girl!" Daddy said.
"Is it really?" Mummy said.
"I don't know..." Daddy said in true Del Boy style as he checked again.

Our daughter, Elsie Belle Albury had arrived safe and well and we couldn't have been more shellshocked happy. Well as happy as you'd expect new parents to be; one can be having downed a shed load of gas and air in the space of fifteen minutes and the other having witnessed something so mind blowing before swiftly being asked to dress a tiny alien in very tiny clothes.

Life changed forever in that moment and we were given a gift that has since challenged us in ways we could never have imagined, but has made our hearts bigger and fuller than ever thought possible.

Elsie Belle, you will forever be my greatest achievement little one. Thank you for making me a Mummy.

read more " Elsie's Birth Story... "

7 October 2016

My Latch Diary...Finding Comfort & Reconnecting

I always imagined that I'd be a natural when it came to breastfeeding, but sadly this wasn't the case. As prepared as you are in the nursery and tiny weenie baby clothes department, nothing can prepare you when it comes to feeding your new baby. Some of us breeze through it and some have a few bumps. Then there is the rest of us who frantically search the internet, sob over help books and clear out the shelves in the baby stores for every teat, bottle or contraption that will ease the most vital aspect of caring for your tiny human.

Feeding becomes the crux for everything else and once you've got it figured out everyone's happy.

Even a year on and we are still struggling with self-settling and more importantly sleep in general. We've tried everything but we mustn't give up hope, which is why I'm working with Munchkin Latch Bottles to share our 'Latch Diary' as we continue with our mission to help Elsie, and the rest of us get a good night's sleep.

My Latch Diary

I breastfed Elsie until she was around the five month mark before we moved onto formula. As well as she took to bottles, there was always something missing. I felt as if that nurturing bond I had worked extremely hard to form had been abruptly cut off and Elsie did too.

After her feeds she would push away her bottle and turn her head towards me to find my boob that she so obviously needed for comfort and reassurance that she'd had up until that point to soothe her to sleep. But with my supply dwindling, as it wasn't needed as much anymore, I needed to find other ways to comfort her. In the end I had to drop the cradle feeding position and started to feed her facing away from me instead, and then once her feed was over I'd place her down on the bed and lay next to her to try and settle her to sleep. As much as it worked at the time, it now makes me sad. I loved nothing more than staring down at her face as she looked into my eyes whilst I fed her- both breast and bottle- and I feel like I cut her off too soon.

So when our Latch bottles arrived the first thing I was reminded of were these difficult transitioning days and I wished that I'd known about this range back when I was struggling to combine the breast and bottle. If I had I would have probably been able to feed my baby in my arms for much longer.

The Latch Experience 

The thoughtful people over at Munchkin recognise that the transition from breastfeeding to bottle can be difficult, which is why they've designed the Latch range with much consideration creating a unique accordion teat that mimics the comfort and movement of the breast which moves with baby as they feed. It also has an anti-colic valve fitted to prevent air bubbles which is always a bonus in those early constantly winding-burping days.

Elsie took to the Latch bottle like a pro and it's eased our feeding times in various ways.

The bottles are slim in design and lightweight meaning she's taken to holding them much easier than our previous brand, giving her the confidence she needs to develop her independence during feeding times. Elsie usually guzzles her feeds as if she's worried her next one won't come, but since using the Latch range, she's slowed down her drinking considerably which means we are able to spend more time soothing her during the feed and therefore settling a little better.

But the aspect I love most about these clever bottles is the way in which it's brought us closer together during feeding times again. I can lie next to her as she feeds and the flexible teat means that she's got the freedom to tilt her face towards me and move to get more comfortable as she settles down for the hour evening, something I've been missing since we transitioned from breast to bottle.

As baby starts to move from bottle to cup the Transition Trainer Cup, with it's silicone spout is flexible to give baby the confidence to practice a whole new skill when it comes to drinking. This cup has been an excellent way to ease Elsie into drinking water in between meal times. She took to it instantly and similarly with the Latch bottle, she wants to feed herself which she tries to do but still needs a little help to lift it and tilt her neck at the same time, but we will get there.

Finding Comfort & Reconnecting 

Using the Latch bottles we've been given the opportunity to reconnect again during feeding times and we couldn't be happier with the range. It's brilliant design means that Elsie is given the confidence to be independent, whilst still allowing us to soothe, teach and comfort her in the process. Taking part in the Munchkin's Latch Diaries has reminded me that these feeding times won't last forever so it's important to cherish every single one before she's all grown up. She may be destined to be The Baby Who Never Sleeps and will always struggle to self-settle, but it won't last forever so I'm making a conscious effort to appreciate every single feed from now on.

If you'd like to see more, we've made a little video of our Latch Diary experience too...

I would like to nominate the very lovely Polly from The Enchanted Pixie to try out the Munchkin Latch Bottle range next and I'm really excited to see how she gets on with it.

Thank you Munchkin Latch for working with The Enchanting Blog
read more " My Latch Diary...Finding Comfort & Reconnecting "