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

 

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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!

18 week pregnancy update

I can’t believe that in a couple of weeks’ time I will be officially half way through my pregnancy! Where does the time go? I thought I’d do a quick update to share with you; my bump progress, baby movements, whether we’re finding out the gender, my low PAPP-A level and what it means, and any pre-baby preparations so far.

First signs of a bump

As mentioned in last week’s maternity style post, I am definitely still more on the tubby side of things and it’s not obvious that I’m pregnant yet. But at the right angles there is the first sign of a bump so I’m just holding on to that and hoping that soon I will properly pop!

18 week pregnant

Baby movements

With Archie it took until about 24 weeks for me to feel him moving around but I’ve definitely started to feel some very faint movements already this time, which I think is more common in second pregnancies. At my recent midwife appointment they struggled to get a heartbeat reading because he/ she was such a wriggler which is exactly how Arch was (and has been ever since he was born!!).

20 week scan

We will soon have our 20 week scan and the option to find out whether Archie’s having a brother or sister. We will most definitely be finding out if we can because we’re so impatient! And, for me personally, I found it really helped me to bond with Archie during pregnancy last time and I think practically it will be very useful this time. I’ve kept all of Archie’s old clothes so if we’re having a girl there will be a lot of sorting and passing on to friends/ charity!

I’m really undecided as to what I think I’m having. Last time I was convinced I was having a girl but I have no idea this time and as I’ve mentioned before, I really have no preference. I’m just wishing and hoping for another healthy baby.

Low PAPP-A level

This is a little bit niche but I thought I’d mention because when I was pregnant with Archie I received a letter which said I had a low PAPP-A level and I would need extra monitoring but very little other information, which to be honest just terrified me. I have a low PAPP-A level again with this pregnancy and having been through it before, I feel much calmer and understand more about the implications.

Essentially, pregnancy associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) is a hormone that is made by the placenta during pregnancy. And if you have a low level you’re at a higher risk of:

  • A lower birth weight baby as your placenta may not work as well
  • An increased chance of having an early birth
  • Miscarriage in the second half of pregnancy
  • An increased chance of developing pre-eclampsia

However, having said that, for most women they go on to have a normal pregnancy so it really is just a case of extra monitoring (additional growth scans between 28 and 40 weeks and being under consultant care) and taking extra pre-cautions. I’ve also been prescribed a low dose of aspirin which I need to take daily until the baby arrives.

With Archie, I was lucky enough that it didn’t really affect my pregnancy/ birth/ after-birth so I’m hoping that it will be the same this time. Arch was technically a small baby according to the weight percentiles but at 7 pounds 3 he was very healthy and after 24 hours of monitoring in hospital we were allowed to go home as normal.

Baby number 2 preparations

From a practical perspective, we haven’t done too many preparations but we still have plenty of time and it will just be a case of re-setting up the nursery and going through Archie’s old things. But I have been doing some reading up about how to prepare yourself and your firstborn for the new arrival.  “The Second Baby Book” by Sarah Ockwell-Smith has been particularly useful – it talks you through practical preparations, how to tell your firstborn, childcare during labour, the various feelings of maternal guilt and dealing with difficult behaviour once baby is here. As mentioned, I have so much anxiety about the negative impact on Archie and so I will be trying everything I can to reduce that where I can. If anyone has any other recommendations, I am all ears 🙂

 

Maternity style

Although I’m still in the ‘tubby’ phase of pregnancy (if you know, you know!) I am slowly starting to see the first signs of a bump. So at the weekend, I dug out my maternity clothes from last time and it reminded me of how frustrating maternity shopping can be. There are very limited options in-store so you have to order mostly online and often your style changes quite a bit to accommodate for your change in shape so it can become a bit of a minefield!  I thought I’d share my favourite maternity finds for anyone who may be having a similar struggle 🙂

I’ve grouped by my 4 favourite maternity retailers (UK) and listed the clothing types I’ve found to be the best from each one, with a few specific examples linked. Please note all views are my own and none of the links are affiliated.

Topshop

topshop jeansSkinny black jeans

I always shop in Topshop for my jeans because I personally prefer a skinny fit and I like the fact that they offer different leg lengths. Usually I wear the Jamie Jeans but in maternity these seem to constantly fall down and lose their shape very easily. So I much prefer the maternity Joni Jeans – both under the bump style (for early pregnancy) and over the bump (for later in pregnancy).

H&M

h&m skinny jeans


Super skinny blue jeans

I usually prefer black jeans to blue but when I found these maternity ones I literally lived in them because they are so incredibly flattering – I could not recommend them highly enough.

 

h&m vests


Vests

I’m not sure you can go too wrong with a vest but I liked the length of these and the fact that they are nursing appropriate for post-birth.

 

 

h&m jersey dress 2

h&m jersey dress 3


Jersey dresses

Pregnancy for me is all about comfy jersey dresses – especially the bigger the bump! Last time I found some lovely long sleeved ones from H&M but their Summery ones are just as nice – number 1 and number 2.

 

Tights

Clearly very seasonal but I was pretty shocked to find that my trusty ‘tights source’ M&S don’t stock maternity tights. Luckily the H&M ones are fab and fit really well – I tried quite a few other brands which constantly fell down and it drove me mad!

ASOS

asos topasos top 2
Tops

I always like ASOS for tops because they tend to be really affordable and a nice twist on a basic – number 1 and number 2.

 

asos top 1asos jumper
Sweaters

Who doesn’t love a comfy sweater and in the UK they’re needed in pretty much all seasons. I personally prefer these ASOS ones to many I’ve tried – number 1 and number 2.

 

maternity bra


Bras

Underwired bras were really uncomfortable for me from around 20 weeks so I found these Emma Jane non-wired ones which also double up as nursing bras for post-birth. They are so comfortable and are seam free so work well under any top – I could not recommend them highly enough.

Seraphine

seraphine
Formal dresses

Seraphine is definitely more high-end but they have great sales so it’s worth keeping an eye out because the quality of their dresses is so lovely and flattering. I picked up this dress on one of their offers, specifically because I had quite a few Xmas parties, and I had so many compliments – most were disappointed it was maternity only!

leggings
Leggings

I didn’t wear leggings as much as I thought I would but these were very flattering and comfortable so I would definitely recommend.

 

 

 

 

My fussy eater: 1 year old

Since the start of the year Archie has gone from eating large portions and pretty much anything to being ridiculously picky and changing his tastes on an almost daily basis! I’ve read up a lot about it and it’s very common for toddlers to go through a fussy stage at some point and although mostly it happens nearer the age of 2, it can happen before this. We’re 6 months in and Arch is still a fussy little monkey but I’ve found a few things which have helped so I thought I’d share. If you have any other words of wisdom, I’d love to hear them in the comments 🙂

fussy eater

At 11 months old, coinciding with him walking, Archie became really fussy with his food. The biggest change was him refusing anything off a spoon from us and because he hadn’t quite mastered feeding himself with a spoon we went down a new route of serving only finger foods (aside from yoghurt/ custard which he could feed himself). Before this I was making batches of pureed/ mashed foods as his main meal and serving it alongside a few finger foods.

I found the transition pretty stressful if I’m honest because unhelpfully his tastes seemed to change all the time so I never knew whether he would eat what was put in front of him. The few things he would always eat were fruit (most types) and yoghurt/ custard so it’s quite clear he has quite a sweet tooth like his mummy! It was the ‘main course’ which always seemed to be hit and miss.

I soon realised that he prefers it when food is not mixed in together but each element is served separately. For example, when giving him beans on toast I always separate the beans and the toast fingers. It makes serving normal table foods a bit tricky (e.g. lasagne, chilli, Bolognese etc.) but I do try them deconstructed….with varying results! His go-to favourite dinners are: fish fingers, homemade chips and peas/ beans; sweet potato fingers with falafel/ chicken; pesto pasta. Everything else seems to be dependent on his mood that day!

I’ve learnt to try and say as relaxed as I can about it and there are days when he surprises us completely out of the blue and tries something he hasn’t for months! Here are a few things I’ve found useful when reading up about fussy eating:

  • It’s normal for toddlers to eat less – As a baby Archie always had a huge appetite so when he first started being fussy I was really stressed about whether he was eating enough and probably overcompensated with fruit and yoghurt! But I’ve since learnt that it’s quite normal for their appetites to decrease as toddlers because their growth rate declines and they simply don’t need as much food. And particularly as they start walking, they become too interested in exploring the world around them that sometimes food can become a bit of a chore!
  • Appetites will be affected by illnesses/ teething – Archie’s fussy spell has definitely coincided with an almost constant cycle of being poorly/ teething. And again it’s very normal that once they hit a year old, they contend with one cold/ illness after another as their immune system builds. So naturally their appetites are affected by this, as we know only too well ourselves when we’re ill or have toothache.
  • Serving smaller portions can help – I used to pretty much fill Archie’s plate with food but now I just offer a small portion of each ‘element’ and then he can have second/ third helpings as and when he finishes them – that way he’s not too overwhelmed, particularly if it’s not one of his favourites!
  • It’s best to offer their favourite foods alongside new/ unpopular foods – I find this one a bit challenging when I’m offering a whole meal he’s not keen on but I do find if I put it with his favourite vegetables or some homemade chips then it helps avoid a straight refusal!
  • Follow their lead – At first I really tried to encourage him to eat the foods he would ignore on his plate but the more I made a fuss, the more he seemed to refuse! So now, I don’t make a big thing of it and just clear his plate away once he’s finished, ignoring the fact he might have touched very little! I’d also say it’s best not to try too much at once – perhaps add in just one new/ unfamiliar food each day so it’s not too overwhelming.
  • Eat with them as often as you can – When we’re eating in a group with family/ friends I definitely notice a difference here in terms of Archie being more interested in eating what everyone else is. Frustratingly it doesn’t seem to work when it’s just the 2 of us – which it is most of the time – but if I sing songs or distract him in some other way than just focussing on the fact he’s eating that does seem to help so I’d definitely say engaging with them and making it more of a social activity makes a difference.
  • Create a relaxed environment – This is similar to the above but essentially anything you can do to make them as relaxed as possible will help them to be a bit more open-minded. As soon as they feel pressured to eat, in my experience, it seems to have the opposite effect! Sometimes, we have a little picnic on the play mat on the floor and I find Arch eats so much more than when he’s in his highchair where the focus is solely on eating.
  • Try not to stress – Ah sorry I left it until last because I know it is by far the hardest one to put into practice but I’ve genuinely noticed the difference with Arch when I’m relaxed and don’t let it bother me versus the days where I feel I’m tearing my hair out and throwing anything at him just to try and make him eat! Just acknowledge it’s a phase, consider giving them some multivitamins and try a mixture of new/ unpopular foods alongside their favourites (accounting for the fact these might change on a daily basis!!).

I’d love to know about your experience of fussy eating – was it just a quick phase or has it gone on for what feels like forever? Have you changed up what you’re giving to them or just persevered with one approach? I think, like with most things, there’s not a magic fix and each child is different so I’d love to know what you’ve found has worked for you.

I’m pregnant!

I mentioned last week that moving house was one of the reasons I’ve been a little quiet on here but the other (rather big) reason is because we’re having another baby! We’re so thrilled and can’t wait to meet Archie’s brother/ sister later this year. As is common with most pregnancies I’ve been dealing with a whole host of different emotions so I thought I’d share on here. I’d love to hear from any fellow mummies who have experienced similar – please do let me know in the comments 🙂

pregnancy

First trimester

So far my pregnancy has been very similar to last time. I felt very nauseous during the first trimester and although I was never sick I found it very difficult to prepare and be around certain foods – these unhelpfully seemed to change on a daily basis. I’d also forgotten how tired the first trimester makes you and it felt so much harder this time – probably because I was running around after a toddler! Both of these things made me feel quite down overall and I just didn’t really feel like myself. I think the fact I felt like I couldn’t be honest with people (because we didn’t share our news until our scan) was also a contributing factor. I find it very hard to hide my feelings and I think it was obvious to my nearest and dearest that something was bothering me.

Sharing the news

We waited until our 12 week scan to tell our family and friends, mostly because it didn’t feel real until that point and I was convinced that something was going to go wrong (for no specific reason – I think it’s quite common to feel like this). When we did tell our family we had quite a few shocked reactions, almost implying it was too small an age gap.

It’s something we had thought about for a long time and I truly don’t believe there is the perfect gap. But for us, we decided we wanted to have them fairly close together (it will be about 22 months). And if I’m really honest one of the reasons is because I found the first 6 months really hard last time and I’m fully anticipating it could be the same again so I just want to get that period out of the way. Plus I’ve been so concerned about the impact a new baby with have on Archie and I’ve read the younger your first is when you have the second the easier the transition will be for them. I have no idea if this is the case but I’m happy to keep you posted!

Archie – the big brother!

I’m so excited for Archie to have a brother/ sister and I know that in the long term it will be so beneficial for him. My husband and I both grew up with siblings and I honestly can’t imagine a childhood without having someone to share it with. However, since having Archie I can completely understand why some people choose to have just one. I know it sounds cheesy but he is everything I ever hoped for in a child and so much more. My heart is so full.

I do worry about the short-term effect on him in terms of having to share the limelight and not having our full attention. I know that the impact is often hardest on the relationship with their mummies and I’m so worried that we won’t be as close as we are now. If you read my previous post about our bond (see here if not) you will know that it took a while for us to get to this point and so I’m really hoping there’s no long-term impact on it. But he’s such a sociable little boy that hopefully he’ll soon see the positives of having a permanent playmate around!

Baby number 2

So many people have asked me if I’d like a girl this time round and I honestly do not have a preference. It’s funny how we always assume women want girls but I can fully envisage myself as a mum of 2 boys and being the only Princess in the house….and I’m totally fine with that! Equally, if we did have a girl I’d be just as delighted because I have such a close relationship with my own mum and I’d hope to have the same with my daughter.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about how I’m going to cope with 2 children, particularly with my husband working long hours and my family being far away. When Archie is giving me a particularly challenging day, I do wonder how an earth I’ll cope with a baby to take care of too. But I’m really trying to not let the anxiety take over like it did last time. I’ll find ways of managing and I know that in the end things do get easier so it’s just about riding the storm. I’m hoping that I’ll feel a tad more confident with some experience under my belt but I’m also aware that all babies are so different and we may face completely different challenges this time! All in all though, I’m just so excited and feel privileged to be able to expand our family.

I’ll keep you posted as to how the rest of the pregnancy continues and if you do have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!