Third trimester –preparing for baby number 2!

I can’t believe how quickly this pregnancy is going and now I’m well into the third trimester I thought I’d share some preparations we’ve been doing for baby number 2 – both practical and emotional 🙂

preparing for baby number 2

Preparing Archie for his new sister

Given his age (currently 20 months), we haven’t really explained to Arch that he’s going to have a baby sister because we feel he’s too young to understand and any mention of it seems to go ignored at the moment! But he has started going to nursery for 2 mornings a week to get him well settled in before she arrives. This is the first time me and him have really spent apart and selfishly it wasn’t something I was too keen on but I think it’s definitely best for the long-term. My attention will obviously be split when the new baby arrives and I want to make sure he gets enough stimulation and social interaction. Plus I’m already finding that I can be more focussed during the time we do spend together so hopefully it will benefit him in both ways.

Practical preparations

The new baby’s nursery is coming together well and although it’s not necessary for it to be fully ready as soon as baby is born (because she will sleep with us for the first few months) it’s something that I want to do so I can feel fully organised. All the furniture is in and it just needs a bit of organising and a few pictures up for it to feel finalised. I’ve also been sorting through all of Archie’s old clothes and seeing what we can reuse or anything new we might need. I’m yet to start the mammoth task that is washing it all though – eek!

Although I plan to try and breastfeed, I’m also getting everything sorted for bottle feeding (new teats and bottles, setting up the Perfect Prep machine and sterilisers) so that we have a Plan B should we need it.

We’ve now bought the adapters for our pram (iCandy Orange) so we just need to work out what combination will work best for it to be converted into a double.

I’ve also read that it’s a good idea to get all toys/ equipment out for the baby 2-3 weeks before our due date so Archie has a chance to familiarise and will no doubt lose interest in them by the time baby arrives.

Childcare during labour

Although we don’t have family who live near us, my parents are about an hour and a half drive away and have kindly offered to stay at ours and look after Archie when the new baby arrives. This is a huge weight off my mind because it’s a potentially unsettling time for Arch but I know with my mum and dad around he will be spoilt with attention and probably won’t even notice we’re gone. My husband commutes daily into London which is about an hour and a half away too so I’m just hoping if I go into labour, I will spot the signs early enough for everyone to get to me in time! Having been induced last time, and because I laboured quickly, this is something that’s playing on my mind a little but I do have some lovely mummy friends locally who could hopefully hold down the fort in the meantime, if it really came to it!

Introducing the siblings

I’ve been giving this quite a lot of thought and although in my head I always pictured a sweet moment of Archie meeting his little sister in hospital, I’m now thinking it’s probably best for Arch not to come into hospital at all. I think it would be really unsettling for him, especially if we have to then say goodbye and I can’t leave with him. So hopefully I won’t have a long stay in hospital and we can bring his sister home to meet him instead. I’ve read up some tips on how best to introduce your second born to your first so I thought I’d share these in case they’re useful:

  • Don’t hold your baby when first introducing– make sure your arms are free to give your first born as many cuddles as they need for reassurance
  • Introduce baby as “your baby sister”
  • Try to make the environment as non-medical as possible so it’s not frightening
  • Ask firstborn if he’d like to stroke or cuddle his new sister but don’t force it
  • Allow and accept any reaction – it’s a big confusing moment for them
  • If you want to document the moment then get someone else to take photos/ videos – you want to be there to support your firstborn as much as possible

Preparing to feel all the mum guilt

Ah this is one which I’m already feeling to be honest with you but I know that it’s just the beginning! I think it’s important to know it’s totally normal to feel like this though and that it just reflects how much you care and love your children. The below are a few areas of guilt that I’m expecting to feel but no doubt the reality will be slightly different:

  • Turning Archie’s world upside down and any negative reaction from him
  • Not being able to devote as much time to the new baby as I did the first time with Archie
  • Breastfeeding guilt – something I experienced quite badly first time round so I’m hoping to be much kinder to myself this time if breastfeeding doesn’t work out
  • Feeling like I’m not doing anything well and we’re just about surviving!

Interestingly that last point is something I felt constantly during Archie’s first year and I found striving purely for survival quite a depressing prospect to be honest. But having lived through it, I know that things do get easier, the good days do get more frequent and parts of your old life (before children) do come back again so I’m hoping that I don’t forget this easily and it can help get me through when everything feels a bit overwhelming.

Expecting chaos!

It’s strange looking back to the first few months of having Archie because I remember feeling like things were chaotic then and a bit all over the place (I’m a typical Virgo in that I love routine so this was tough!).

But this time round, I know there will be plenty more chaos in the house! And I’ll probably rarely feel on top of everything which is a bit daunting but I’m hoping that maintaining Archie’s structure (of sleeping, eating, nursery, classes) will help to give me a bit more of the routine I craved last time.

One thing I’ve heard from speaking to other mums is that it’s easy, particularly in the early days, to let someone else look after your firstborn whilst you get to grips with the new baby. But that actually this can be unsettling for your firstborn so it’s important to give them as much love and attention as you can as a way of reassurance.

I’m also aware that the firstborn can display a few behaviour changes as they deal with the emotions that can come from having a new baby in the house. This could be being more clingy than normal, not wanting affection from their parents, eating regressions, problems sleeping, increased tantrums etc. So I’m preparing myself for this and will try to be as understanding and as empathetic as I can, knowing it’s not personal, but just a time of adjustment for us all.

Self-care

It sounds a bit cliché and self-care seems to be the new buzzword, but one of the main things I’ve learnt since becoming a parent is that to be the best mum I can be, I need to take care of myself and ensure that I’m not always bottom of the priority list! For me, doing some form of physical exercise has always helped with my mental health so I’m hoping I can get back to doing maybe just one quick HIIT workout a week or a short run every now and again. But more importantly just finding a little “me time”, even if it’s just 5 mins of time to myself to clear my head and gain a little perspective – it’s very easy to get caught up in the bubble and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Are there any second-time parents out there who can offer more advice/ reassurance? I would love to hear it 🙂

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Second pregnancy – a whole new experience!

Being pregnant again has made me reminisce about my pregnancy with Archie and although physically my pregnancies have been very similar so far, it’s a completely different experience to the first time! I thought I’d share on the blog why this time it’s been a whole new ball game.

second pregnancy

  • Tired, tired and tired again
    • Running around after an active toddler whilst being pregnant is making me more physically tired than I think I’ve ever been in my life. I honestly feel like I have the body of a 100 year-old – I’m constantly creaking and groaning!! I do remember feeling tired the first time round but I also spent most of my weekends catching up on sleep and resting which is definitely a thing of the past now…!
  • Goodbye maternity leave
    • Last time I managed to plan a nice chunk of time off as part of my maternity leave before Archie came along (in hindsight I didn’t make the most of it so for any first time mamas out there please enjoy every second – indulge in those long baths, stay in bed all day, go to the cinema, enjoy those last date nights with your partner etc.). But this time round, it’s clearly very different and I won’t be having any time off (from being a full-time mum) before the new baby arrives which is a slightly daunting prospect.
  • Time flies
    • If you’d have asked me last time how many weeks I was and what size baby was I could have told you in quite a bit of detail and on size in so many different variations of fruit, veg, household objects etc.! This time, the weeks just seem to be flying by and I can barely remember what day of the week it is, never mind what my due date is!
  • Less time to think about the new baby
    • Until recently (when the physical side has taken over and is a constant reminder!) it’s been so easy to forget I’m having another baby as my whole world is completely focused on Archie and when I have thought about it my focus is mostly on the impact on Arch rather than the baby itself. This is such a contrast to my first pregnancy when I became a bit obsessed – all I thought about was meeting my baby and what he/she would be like.
  • Less focused on labour
    • First time round I thought about the birth a lot and even our antenatal classes focused on labour and having a birth plan. It sounds crazy but shortly after having Archie I remember thinking “Phew, the hard part is over”! Little did I know that the hardest was definitely yet to come. So this time round, I think it’s only natural to think about it less and I’m trying to maintain an attitude of “I did it once, so I can do it again” even though I’m fully aware the experiences could be very different.
  • More focused on life after birth
    • Linked to the point above, having struggled to cope with the huge changes to my life first time round, my attention has mostly been on how I’ll cope with 2 children and trying to envisage the changes to come. In theory, it shouldn’t be such a shock this time as I’m very used to being a stay-at-home mum now and some of our structure will stay in place as we work around Archie’s routine. But the prospect of bedtime and getting out of the house with a toddler and newborn does terrify me so they will be the first few things I’ll be trying to crack (any tips welcome!).
  • Mum guilt
    • The moment you become pregnant with your second, it’s natural to feel mum guilt and I’m sure it’s not something that will be going any time soon. For every hospital appointment I have to go to, for the moments I feel too tired to play, every time I think about my attention being split, it’s so hard not to feel guilty about the impact on Archie. But I do keep reminding myself that to grow up with a sibling will be so good for him and it will be well worth it in the long run.

 

18 months old and all the emotions

If you follow my Instagram account, you will know that the last few weeks have been challenging to say the least! Since turning 18 months, Archie has been incredibly emotional and is crying way more than before. Out of frustration, anger, separation anxiety and probably lots of other reasons that I’ll never know. Speaking to lots of my mummy friends, it seems to be very common at this age so I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learnt along the way for dealing with an emotional toddler.

emotional toddler

  1. Be understanding – it’s important to remember that most of a toddler’s frustration stems from two things:
    – Their inability to clearly communicate what they want/ what’s annoying them
    – The fact that they don’t understand (what you’re telling them and why)
    So as much as dealing with an emotional toddler will really test your patience, try to be as understanding as you can and communicate with them, rather than just getting annoyed.
  2. Offer comfort – I know some people feel you should ignore the tears and wait for your toddler to calm down before approaching them. And if they’re physically lashing out then I think this is totally understandable. But if not, a hug and some gentle words might be all they need to feel a bit better.
  3. Give explanations – Rather than just tell your toddler off or say no, try to explain why you are doing so. It won’t be an instant fix but eventually they might understand why and it will help build a connection between cause and effect.
  4. Provide a distraction – This is probably our most effective method with Archie – finding a different toy to play with, making up silly games with a toy, singing songs etc. – is a good way of distracting them from the original problem.
  5. Routine – If you have a good routine then your toddler will know what to expect and this should help to alleviate some of the problems. I also find if Archie is well napped/ slept (and fed!) then his mood is considerably better than if he hasn’t.
  6. Give them a little bit of independence – A lot of a toddler’s frustration is because of a lack of control in so many situations e.g. when they eat, what they eat, where you go etc. So allowing them a bit of independence in the right circumstances can help them to feel a bit more in control. For example, Archie enjoys helping me around the house so I always try and involve him where I can by asking if he’d like to help me, such as folding the laundry away, putting his shoes away, getting the changing mat out. It’s obviously his choice whether he wants to help me or not but most of the time I find he wants to and he enjoys the praise I give him afterwards.
  7. Get fresh air – Where possible, it’s good for both you and your toddler to get out into the fresh air at least once a day. Usually I like Archie to have at least a good hour or so in the garden to give him a good run around and I find it massively helps his mood.
  8. Be kind to yourself – This one is so important because dealing with an emotional toddler can be really hard. Take help where you can so you can have a break. It will give you time to reset, gain some perspective and you’ll probably be much more patient and understanding afterwards.

 

 

Choosing a day nursery

From September, Archie will be starting at a local day nursery for a couple of mornings a week. It’s been a tough decision because selfishly I’d quite like to keep him at home with me 24/7 but I know it will be really good for him because he’s so sociable and loves exploring. Choosing the right nursery was quite a long process and it’s actually the second time I’ve done it as I’d chosen one where we lived previously too. I thought I’d share the main things I considered as part of the selection process in the hope that it might help you if you’re just starting out in your research.

day nursery

Location

Clearly this is crucial in making sure you’re not too far away in case of emergencies so consider whether it’s better to be closer to home or at work (should these be different).

Owner managed or a franchise?

Some nurseries are privately owned by one or a few people whereas some will fall under a larger national franchise chain. There are pros and cons to both here but it’s worth looking into how the nursery is structured and how much flexibility they have to make changes. It’s also a good idea to look at their history because it’s quite common for franchise chains to take over privately run nurseries and it can take them some time to embed their ethos/ structure.

Ofsted rating

It can be tempting to use this purely as your selection process and I think it’s a helpful guide (Excellent or Very Good ratings are generally preferred) but you have to take into account the date of the inspection, what was highlighted in the report and to bear in mind it’s only part of the overall picture.

Do they have a waiting list?

Some nurseries will be very popular so it’s common to have a waiting list. Usually nurseries will take more new entrants in September (coinciding with those starting school) but once you’ve decided on the nursery it’s worth getting your child’s name down as early as you can, especially if you’re returning to work.

Which weeks of the year is the nursery closed?

This is important if you’re working so you know the days when you won’t have childcare but it’s also a useful indicator of how their staff holiday works. If they close for so many weeks of the year, it’s generally a sign that staff won’t be allowed to take holiday at any other time which provides a level of consistency for your child.

Timings for drop-off and pick-up? Do they offer half-days?

Again pretty vital that you know the drop-off and pick-up times from a work perspective. And it can be useful to choose somewhere that offers half days to provide added flexibility.

Cost (inc. registration fee)

Clearly important and can vary a lot! Having looked at my local area (Bedfordshire) I’d say that around £70 a day is quite typical.

How big is the outside space and how often do the children play outside?

For me, this was key because Archie loves playing outside and I think it’s great to have somewhere they can run around and burn off some steam!

How many children are in each group and how are they grouped?

I’d say around 10-15 children per group (class) is quite standard and mostly it’s done on age but it’s good if they consider other development factors too such as ability to walk, talk etc.

What’s the child to staff ratio? And what’s the staff turnover?

Most nurseries will go by the statutory guideline:

  • 1:3 for 0-2 year olds
  • 1:4 for 2-3 year olds
  • 1:8 for 3-5 year olds

In terms of staff turnover, clearly you want this to be as low as possible to provide consistency for your child.

Will your child have a key worker? How is the key worker chosen?

It’s quite typical for a nursery to assign your child with a key worker who is their (and your) main source of contact. But it’s worth asking how that person is chosen and whether there is flexibility should your child build a better relationship with someone else.

How can you see your child’s progress and how do they log this?

Most will operate some form of online system where you can see photos and snippets of their day’s activities plus a more simplified paper daily report which summarises what they’ve eaten, how long they slept for, general mood etc.

Is food cooked on-site? Do they cater for allergies etc.?

Generally it’s better if food is cooked on-site and it’s great if they have a sample menu for you to look at so you can ensure there’s enough variety and that they cater for any allergies.

What kind of activities do they do? How is the day structured?

Most will do some form of outdoor play, indoor play, story time, music time, baking, colouring, painting etc. but it’s worth asking about how this is structured – clearly you want a bit of structure but too much can be difficult for younger children.

What’s the sleep environment like?

Some nurseries will be quite flexible and, for example, be happy to push your little one in their pushchair to get them to go to sleep. Whereas others will have a designated area for sleeping, which might just be a specific space on the floor. Speaking to my friends’ experiences though it’s worth bearing in mind that they will probably nap differently at nursery than they do at home – often they’re so stimulated that they tire themselves out enough to sleep pretty much anywhere!

What’s their discipline policy?

Personally I think it’s important to know this to ensure your discipline practices at home match what they do at nursery, otherwise it can be pretty confusing for your child.

How many settle-in sessions can you have before starting?

Some nurseries will offer a set amount of settle-in sessions whereas some will be very flexible and offer as many as your child needs before they’re fully comfortable.

Other external sources of recommendation

Personal experience is so valuable in providing you with a realistic view of what the nursery is like so it’s worth trying to speak to a few mums locally or asking on an online local mums group.

Overall impression when visiting

This is probably the most important and is a bit like buying a house. What’s the general feel of the nursery? Do the children look happy and engaged? Is there a good level of cleanliness? Are the staff friendly and how do they interact with the children?

If you get a good overall feeling about a nursery and you’re comfortable with all areas covered above then I don’t think you can go too far wrong. I would say the more you can communicate with them about your expectations and any specific needs you/ your child has the better – it has to be a two-way relationship and a joint effort to making it work.

A letter to Archie: 18 months

Dear Archie,

I can’t quite believe we’re 6 months past your first birthday – time just seems to be flying!

Archie 18 months

We’ve not long moved house and it is fair to say you are loving your new surroundings, particularly the garden which you would play in every minute of the day if you could 🙂

We also found out recently that later this year you’re going to be a big brother! I’m so excited for you to have a sister to share your childhood with, like I did. And I know you’re going to be the best big brother because you already have such a lovely, kind and caring nature.

You’re still a bit wild (!) but we wouldn’t change that for the world. People often comment how confident and full of life you are – noting how you never sit still and that you’d rather run than walk! Your playful side comes out most with the people you know well (but you’re not shy of those you don’t) and you love being tickled/ chased.

You are such a sociable character and will soon be going to a local nursery for a couple of mornings a week and I think you’re going to love making new friends and exploring a new place.

Despite being Mr Independent, your affectionate side is coming out more by the day –you’ve started offering us cuddles and are visibly excited when you see Daddy walk through the door.

Looks-wise you are definitely a proper little boy now and have lost many of your baby features. You are still very much Daddy’s mini-me except you’re actually quite tall for your age (something I’m pretty sure you don’t get from Daddy!).

You’ve become much fussier with food since your first birthday and definitely know what you want (and don’t want!). But if there’s a snack or something sweet around, you can guarantee you’ll be the first to notice and get in there!

Your understanding has come on enormously in the last month or so and I love being able to interact with you more. You like helping me with jobs around the house and you’re constantly babbling, even if most of the time I’m not sure what you’re saying.

Aside from the obvious first words (mumma, dada etc.) you have a few favourites – birdie, ball, car, cake– which definitely relate to the things you like most.

You love being sung to and you love music in general – we often sit and watch Disney songs together on the iPad. You also sing/ babble away to yourself in your cot to get yourself to sleep and I love listening to it on the monitor.

I know we’re incredibly biased but Mummy and Daddy are just so unbelievably proud of you. We constantly say “What did we do to deserve you?” and we really don’t know but we thank our lucky stars every single day.

Love you to the moon and back,

Mummy xxx

 

Why it’s OK not to love the newborn stage

I remember in those early months with Archie so many people telling me, “enjoy it now, it’ll only get harder”, “wait until he moves, THEN you’ll feel tired”, “wait until you’re weaning, that’s a whole other ball game” and so on. And looking back, I’m shocked because that’s the last thing a first-time mum wants to hear. When things are feeling tough, being told the unthinkable that’s it only going to get harder is ridiculously insensitive and probably not true.  

newborn stage

I know that not everyone has a negative experience of the newborn stage but for those that do, it’s OK to admit it and it’s not something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad mum or that you love your baby any less. Becoming a mum is a huge change to your life so it’s bound to take a bit of adjusting. I remember the endless guilt I felt because I wasn’t enjoying it “like I should” and it’s only now I can see that I had nothing to feel guilty about.

Dealing with so much change

As I came to the end of my pregnancy, my anxiety went through the roof because I knew the hardest bit was yet to come (and I’m not talking about labour!). But nothing could prepare me for just how much my life was about to change.

Before having Archie I was a marketer for a financial services company in London. It was a fairly high pressured job and I worked long hours on top of a 3 hour daily commute. I’ve always been someone who’s pushed themselves mentally so I enjoyed the complexity of the industry I worked in and the constant dialogue I shared with others in the company.

Going from this environment to: long days alone at home with a baby; feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by my new responsibility; scared to leave the house because of all the prep that entailed and worried about how I’d cope when I was out; the general feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing; a lack of adult interaction and overwhelmed by the constant lack of routine was a real struggle.

And in those first few months, my perspective was totally skewed from sleep deprivation. I couldn’t see the woods for the trees. It felt like my old life was a distant memory. Of course, I can see now that those hurdles were most definitely temporary and things settled down much quicker than I ever thought they would. But at the time I just couldn’t see things clearly.

My experience wasn’t helped by a few things – one being that my family lived far away and the fact I didn’t know anyone in my local area. My husband also works long hours so the days were longer for me at home too. Our feeding struggles and the effect that ultimately had on my bond with Archie also had a huge impact on how I was feeling.

But I honestly take my hat off to anyone who can go through the transition into motherhood without feeling that there are some elements they just don’t enjoy. In fact, I’d be amazed if there is anyone else there that feels this way, even if your experience is overall a positive one.

It’s a major upheaval to your life. And of course, it’s ultimately for the better and over the long-term you’ll forget how tough you even found it. But if you’re going through it now and you’re worried because you’re not enjoying it. Or that it’s going to get harder. Then please don’t. This stage is purely about survival and clearly you’re doing just that so give yourself a pat on the back. And know that this phase is just that. A phase. It will pass and in time you’ll have a completely different perspective to the one you have now.

 

Baby number 2: We’re having a…

…girl! Yes we had our 20 week scan recently and they told us that Archie’s having a little sister 🙂 I still can’t believe it to be honest because, although you never really know, I did have an inkling that we were having another boy. This just goes to show I should always go with the opposite of my gut (as I got it wrong last time too)!

gender reveal

The scan

Whilst all went well with the scan, we did learn a very important lesson in that next time we won’t be taking Arch with us! He freaked out the moment I got on the bed and couldn’t understand why mummy couldn’t hold him (he’s going through a particularly clingy phase at the moment). So Daddy took him out of the room for a while but nothing really consoled him until right at the end when I could eventually pick him up. Luckily we had a very understanding sonographer!

Time to pick a name

Before we knew we were having a boy last time, we’d picked a girl name which I’d had in mind for a very long time – way before we’d even thought about having children! So this time, although it would seem like the obvious choice, we’re not 100% sure. With Archie, once we’d decided on his name it just seemed right straight away but this time we’re not quite settled on it. So if anyone has any name suggestions to throw into the mix, please feel free to send them my way!

And time to go shopping!

Despite not having a preference on gender, we’re thrilled to be having a daughter and feel that much closer to knowing more about her. The only slight downside (in Daddy’s eyes!) is the extra expense it incurs! I’m not going to lie, I am pretty excited to go shopping and pick out some cute girlie outfits. Although I’m still going to get as much wear out of Archie’s clothes as much as I can and have no problem in putting her in a blue sleepsuit for bed.

I’ve also started to make a list of things we need to buy ahead of her arrival. So far on the list:

  • Cotbed and mattress (Archie is still in the cot version of his and I don’t want to move him out prematurely)
  • New bottle teats (and bottles where our others have worn out)
  • Pram converters – we have the iCandy Orange which goes into a double but we need to buy the right adapters
  • Second monitor/ camera
  • White noise toy – Archie loves his MyHummy teddy so we might purchase another one of these or try something else

Mums of multiple children, is there anything else I’m really missing here? I’d love to hear your second-time essentials.

Pregnancy update

Other than that, I don’t think there’s too much else to report. My bump hasn’t grown much since the last post and I’m already getting lots of comments about how small I am but I’m sure I’ll pop at some point….! Baby girl is growing nicely at the moment so I’m trying to not let it concern me and I’m appreciative of the extra monitoring. The irony is that although Arch was a fairly small baby (7 pounds 3 so not exactly tiny!), we now get constant comments about how big he is for his age so I think it’s best not to take these things to heart too much, as long as everyone’s healthy.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please feel free to ask in the comments!