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 🙂

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.

 

 

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

 

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.

Moving house with a toddler

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog recently for a few reasons – but one of those is because last Monday we moved house! Everyone always says that moving is one of the most stressful things you can do but moving with a toddler in tow brought that to a whole new level! Luckily, we received some great advice from others who’d done it before which definitely made it easier so I thought I’d share on here. And although it was stressful, we love our new home so I have to say it was all worthwhile (in the end!).

moving house

  • Hire a removals firm and get them to pack for you – It might be expensive but this is the one bit of advice I could not have been more thankful for. We always knew we wouldn’t hire a van and move ourselves (it would probably end in divorce!) but I always assumed we would pack ourselves until a few people told us to look into the option of having the removals company do it for us. And luckily, it worked out very reasonable cost-wise and meant we didn’t have to plan so much in advance in terms of making sure we didn’t pack the things we needed a few days before. Plus, I realised packing with Archie around would have been impossible – he’s like a moth to a flame as soon as anything new appears in a room and makes it his mission to investigate so having lots of boxes around would have caused mayhem!
  • Pack an overnight bag for your first night – Part of me thought I was being a bit overcautious when I packed a bag of literally everything Archie would need on his first night and day in the new home. But when we finally arrived in the new house with all our boxes at 5pm I was seriously appreciative of having everything we needed to hand – especially because despite labelling the boxes most of them inevitably ended up in the wrong rooms!
  • Ask someone to help look after your toddler – My mum and dad very kindly offered to help us on the day of the move and having another pair of hands to help with Archie was a godsend. Naturally with all the activity going on, Archie was highly intrigued and kept trying to get in on the action with the removals team! So having someone else there to distract and entertain him was a must in hindsight.
  • Pack a bag of food for the day – For the adults, we ate on the go and grabbed what we could but for Archie I packed him quite the bag of supplies for the day so he had enough food to keep him going.
  • Accept your toddler’s normal routine might go out the window – Archie’s nap was never going to happen on moving day despite my best efforts to get him to drop off in the car. Clearly the intrigue and excitement was too much for him so we went with the flow and just tried to make sure bedtime went as smoothly as it could.
  • Set up their new room as close to the old one as possible – I know this sounds obvious but if you make sure the major elements of the old room are the same as in the new one then the environment will be more familiar to them and it should help them to settle. I’ve been amazed at how easily Archie found the transition to be honest and I’m sure this is a big reason why.
  • Once the removals firm have left, focus on making a couple of areas of the house safe and toddler friendly – Clearly you will want your whole home to be safe for them eventually but it’s likely to be a good few days before you’ve got through enough boxes for this to be the case. For us, aside from his room, we prioritised the kitchen so that as soon as he was up in the morning, we knew he had somewhere safe to eat breakfast, chill and play.