Mommy in London

Trying to figure things out!

Our Breastfeeding Journey – Celebrating ‘Golden Boobies’ ;)

It has been a long journey, but I can now officially say that I’ve been breastfeeding E for over a year!  (It has actually been over 14 months, this post has taken me a while to write!)

In the past year I’ve had a few friends that have become new Moms, and they’ve all had lots of questions, but mostly about breastfeeding.  As much as you read about it and try to prepare yourself, the only way to really understand is to try it.  It can be difficult to talk about, it’s so controversial and there are so many strong emotions involved.  But I hope that by sharing my journey I may be able to help out some more new Moms who are overwhelmed by it all.

I was unsure about breastfeeding to begin with, it just seemed so difficult to get my head around something that I had no idea what it would be like.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to, I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to and I definitely wasn’t sure about doing it in public (or even in front of people at home).

It turned out that E was born to breastfeed, latched on straight away and just wanted to feed day and night.  The early days were not easy by any means.  I felt like I was constantly feeding him and I did find it quite painful.  I think that’s the worst part, because your nipples don’t get any break, I started feeding on just one side at a time quite early on to give at least one side a bit of a rest.

And as crazy as it may sound, the old wives tale about putting cabbage leaves in your bra when your milk comes in really did work for me!  I loved those cabbage leaves!  I possibly used them too much in those few days as I constantly had them in.  I wouldn’t recommend keeping them in while you sleep though, I had a nap and ended up with cabbage indentations on my boobs!

I was in a lot of pain, I asked all of the midwives and health visitors to check my latch and everything seemed ok, they only thing they could say was that E seemed quite “greedy” and that we should try spreading out the feeds (which doesn’t really work when you’ve decided to demand feed).  I tried hand expressing early on to relieve some of the pressure and build up, but nothing really seemed to help with the pain.  I can remember sitting there in the middle of the night feeding E with tears streaming down my face and biting on my hand to stop myself screaming out in pain.

It turned out, after lots of doctors, midwives and googling that the antibiotics that I was on for the infection in my stitches had given me thrush which I then transferred to E so it was on my nipples and in his mouth.  So it meant giving him medication at quite a young age, but it also meant that we both got better and by the time he was about 6 weeks old breastfeeding stopped being painful and we got into a good rhythm of demand feeding approximately every 2 hours.

I was trying to express milk so that my husband could take part in the feeding, but E never really took to the bottle.  We tried many different bottles and E just wasn’t having it.  Plus I absolutely hated expressing, I could never find the time to do it and hating having to sit there and do nothing as it pumped.  So we gave up on it and when we tried again after E was 4 months old there was no way he would drink from a bottle.  For us it wasn’t too bad, as I had  a full year off on maternity leave (and am now a stay at home Mom) there was no rush and no real need for him to bottle feed.  But for anyone else I would say to be persistent and keep trying if you want your baby to ever drink from a bottle.

When E was about 3 months old the sleep deprivation started really taking it’s toll.  I was struggling waking up every 2 hours to feed him and thought I needed some help.  I read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and it really helped me.  I moved then from demand feeding to a routine (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time – from the book) and fed E every 3 hours.  Then as he got older and we started to introduce solids into his diet we moved to a 4 hour routine.

When he was about 10 months old we decided that he probably didn’t need milk through the night and he was eating significantly during the day and it was more of a habit, so we began the process of night weaning.  I won’t go into detail here as I wrote another blog post about it here.

Since then we dropped the dream feed at around 11 months, then dropped the afternoon feed at around a year, trying to introduce one cup of cows milk a day.  He took a while to get used to cows milk (drinking from a cup) but now he likes drinking it and has 2 cups a day.  We still have 2 breastfeeds a day, when he wakes up in the morning and before he goes to sleep at night.

Now we look to the future.  I thought that we would definitely stop breastfeeding at a year, but then when the time came there just didn’t seem to be any reason to stop.  Now E is starting to feed for shorter and shorter amounts of time, so he may very well be weaning himself, but I won’t make any rush decisions to stop as it may just be a phase he’s going though or due to teething or something else.  It’s very emotional for me to think about no longer breastfeeding E, it is a lovely bond that we have and a fantastic cuddle that I get from him twice a day.  My husband laughs at me, for someone who was so reluctant to breastfeed to begin with and now I don’t want to stop!

Hope everyone who has decided to breastfeed and is reading this is doing well with it, I know that it can be really difficult in the beginning, but if it’s something that you really want to do then persevere, it really is worth it.  And I’m happy to answer any questions or just offer support if you need it :)

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Happy Thanksgiving, Halloween and Bonfire Night

There have been a lot of autumn celebrations, and we love to celebrate!

Thanksgiving dinner:

Halloween decorations:

Halloween Activities:

E had several costumes, a pumpkin, Mickey Mouse and a tiger, as well as ghost pyjamas and a ‘I love my mummy’ tshirt.  We went pumpkin picking, carved our pumpkin, ate Halloween themed foods and played with Halloween finger paints, a sensory bottle and a sensory box :)

Bonfire Night Party:

Bonfire Activities:

We played with glow sticks, flashlights, sparklers and tinsel :)

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Ethan’s Very Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday Party

E’s first birthday party was a huge success!  I managed to get everything prepared in time the night before, the cupcakes turned out pretty well and we just had to wait for the party to start!

The only thing I would have done differently would be to book the venue from earlier to give more time to decorate, I had everything prepared down to each minute detail, and then had to put it all together within half an hour.  So it wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it, but it still looked lovely.

Everything fit in with the theme, the kids had a great time playing and everyone loved the food.  I had also made a few big collages, one of E’s cake smash and one of E’s weekly photos (52 weeks of Ethan), which were well admired.

Here’s a few photos of the decorations, party bags and food at the party:

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Ethan’s First Birthday

 

It has been a really long time since I’ve written a blog post, shockingly it’s been over a month. I think that not only have we been very busy (loads of visitors and birthday celebrations) but it was such a momentous occasion, E turning 1, that I didn’t quite know what to say about it to do it justice.
I wrote him a letter, I’ve seen other people post letters to their babies on their birthdays and I think it’s a beautiful tradition, and reading other people’s letters often makes me cry. But after writing it I just decided that it was too personal to share, something that I want E to read when he’s older and that’s all.
The day itself was fantastic. My hubby took the day off work, we had a special breakfast, opened presents (we got him a bunch of little things, but his “big” present was a rocking moose) and went out for the day. We had lunch at Carluccio’s, E loved it! He had chicken for his main and fruit salad for pudding. (He loves fruit so much, he really didn’t need anything sweeter, plus we knew what was coming up later!)  Then we went to the London Aquarium, he loved looking at all the fish!  We had a really nice time, but my two complaints would be that it’s very dark and you can’t use the flash on your camera, so the photos we took didn’t turn out very well.  And there’s no where to sit down or for children to play (crawl around in E’s case) so he got a bit bored of being carried around the whole time.  We went home after that, more presents had arrived in the post for E to open, he had some skype calls to make, and we had a special birthday dinner.  I made him lasagna for the first time (which he loved!) and he had his very first cupcake for dessert!  He was so intrigued by the candles and very excited to have his own little cupcake to eat.  I went for a proper cupcake recipe, so they were full of sugar, and he devoured it!  It was hilarious!  It really was a day to remember :)

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Autumn Wardrobe

As you all know by now, I am obsessed with buying clothes for E!  So, what perfect timing that I get to buy him a new autumn wardrobe before his first birthday.  All gorgeous new 12-18 month clothes from all of our favourite shops!  So far we’ve been to:

  • H&M – got lovely organic comfy trousers and long sleeved bodysuits, long sleeved tops, sweaters, cardigans, hoodies, band tshirts (ac/dc, rolling stones and kiss), socks and jeans
  • Zara - cardigans, rugby tops, sweaters
  • Gap – jeans, cargo pants
  • Jojo Maman Bebe – long sleeved tops, pull on cords, reversible gilet
  • Next – band tshirts (Nirvana),  raincoat (with dinosaur eyes and spikes on the hood)
  • Mothercare – a long sleeved top from the Jools Oliver range

I love, love, love it all!  We still need to find a few more things, a warmer coat (and hat and mitts for when it gets really cold), shoes and boots when he starts walking, and maybe some more trousers.  I can’t wait for him to wear it all!

 

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Planning E’s Very Hungry Caterpillar Themed First Birthday Party

I am so excited about E’s birthday party!  It’s just under a week away, and there is so much left to do!

I have been so inspired by all of the very creative Mommys on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/mommyinlondon/first-birthday/ but it does make for a bit of pressure for it all to be perfect!

We’ve hired a room in a lovely church hall, we’re going to set up a play area for the kids, a big table for food, a table for the cake (cupcakes) and put up loads of decorations.  Here’s my list so far:

Decorations:

  • caterpillar with photos for each month
  • caterpillar made of balloons
  • caterpillar made of tissue paper pom poms
  • cake smash photo collage
  • weekly photo collage
  • birthday photo – enlarged
  • welcome sign
  • balloons

Food:

  • apples, pears, plums, strawberries and oranges (from the story)
  • sandwiches (on little rolls made into a caterpillar shape)
  • rice cakes and carrot puffs
  • cupcakes (made into a caterpillar shape)
  • butterfly biscuits (haven’t found a recipe yet, but I have bought the cookie cutter!)

Party Bags:

Play area:

  • foam play mats – letters and numbers
  • tunnel
  • ball pool
  • caterpillar themed toys – links, shape sorter, wooden caterpillars, etc
  • balls and bubbles for the garden
  • colouring sheets and crayons (for older kids)

Most of the decorations are done, of course all of the food prep needs to be done closer to the time.  I am struggling a bit with my tissue paper pom poms, they aren’t as easy as they look to make!  I’m also wondering about possibly making party hats, I’ll see if I have time later in the week.  Would love to have any feedback about what I might be forgetting!

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Our Baby Friendly Holiday in Portugal

We recently got back from our trip to Portugal, and it was fantastic!

We found the resort through Baby Friendly Boltholes and then planned around that.  The resort is called Martinhal and it’s in Sagres in the Algarve, Portugal.

To start off, we had to pack!  Packing is always such a pain, but with an 11 month old baby, it’s even more difficult.  I just had to think of everything that we could possibly need, and then eliminate things that we could definitely buy in Portugal.  We decided to bring a couple of packs of wipes (because we use either Cheeky Wipes or Water Wipes at home, and weren’t sure if we would find anything natural and gentle enough for E’s sensitive skin) we also brought swim nappies and sleep nappies (as we didn’t need too many of each, and they do help to pad out the suitcase) and enough regular nappies to last for the first 2 days.  We found that Pampers are available in Portugal but they are called Dodot.  We also brought some Hipp baby porridge mix, Organix snacks and some Ella’s Kitchen fruit and veg pouches.  This way we were able to give E meals in the villa and from restaurants when we were out, but could easily supplement with snacks and fruit and veg pouches when there wasn’t any fresh available.  We were happy with the amount that we brought with us, however, since Martinhal is a resort that is obviously frequented by English families, there were actually quite a few British baby products available in their shop (but they were quite expensive), so in a pinch they are available (which was a comfort to me, in case E decided that he didn’t want to eat anything else).

Now, onto the actual trip.  We flew with Easyjet, which could have been an absolute nightmare, but truly wasn’t that bad.  Families are able to board after those who have paid for Speedy Boarding, so we were able to get seats together and settle in before the plane was too full.  We paid extra to bring extra luggage, but as we had decided that in advance we just considered it part of the flight price.  E was very good on the flight there, it was lunch time so he mostly ate his lunch and played with the little girl in the row in front of us.

We arrived at Faro airport and picked up our rental car (which we rented with a car seat so that we wouldn’t have to bring our own) and drove to Sagres, stopping at a supermarket on the way to pick up some basics for our first day in the villa.  The villa was huge and perfect for a family.  We had requested all of the baby safety equipment, which was set up when we arrived.  We also had a cot, high chair, baby bath and toy box all included free of charge.  It was great to be able to just put E down beside the toy box and let him play while we unpacked and set everything up.  There was also a welcome pack which included bread, milk, cereal, etc.

Everything about the resort is set up fantastically for families.  There are 3 restaurants, 4 swimming pools (3 of which have toddler pools), 3 different playground / play areas, a creche, a kids club, a club for teenagers, a shop, etc.  We were able to get takeaway from one of the restaurants, so we didn’t have to cook every night, but the restaurants are also all very child friendly.  After a couple of days we worked up to taking E with us for an early dinner, and ordering him a meal off the kids menu (which he loved!) It did mean I had to stop being so paranoid about salt content, but I figured that 1 meal a day while on holiday wasn’t too bad, as long as we pumped him full of healthy food and lots of water for the rest of the day.

We swam in the pools and went to the beach everyday, E loves being in the water and had a blast splashing around all the time.  It also exhausted him, so even though we were in a different place, he slept really well for naps and at night.

We also explored the local area, going to a different little town most days, the Algarve is a beautiful area of Portugal

Overall, it was a fantastic trip and I’m so glad that we took the risk of flying somewhere, rather than staying in rainy England!  E enjoyed himself, and we enjoyed ourselves as well (although I wouldn’t exactly call it relaxing!)  Now, where to go next?

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Babies First Birthdays

It is hard to believe but my little E is 11 months old, and it’s time to start thinking about his First Birthday!

He has a few friends that are a little bit older than him, so we’re having fun going to their birthday parties, and it’s also helping us to plan for his!

My first question was what sort of presents to buy all of his little friends for their birthdays.  As the birthdays are so close together, you don’t really want to spend a fortune as it really does all add up.  But I did want to buy them some lovely things.  Here are the presents I’ve bought so far:

* Baby Aquadraw

* Brio Pull Along Engine

* Leapfrog – My Puppy Pal Violet

And the ones I’m planning on buying:

* Wooden Click Clack Track

* Wooden Post Box

* Letter Lion

But I do need a few more ideas, there are a lot of babies to buy for!

The next part is planning for E’s birthday at home with us, and for his party the following weekend!  At home we just want to spend a nice day, just the 3 of us.  We’ll have presents and a cake, and I think I’ll buy a little set to decorate his high chair while he makes a big mess with his cake.

Speaking of cake, I really wanted to do a cake smash photo shoot for E, but didn’t want to pay a professional.  So I made a cake following a healthy smash cake recipe unfortunately I’m not much of a baker, so mine didn’t come out very moist.  But at least it was healthy, and I put on loads of the cream cheese frosting, so it was definitely messy!

More photos to follow, but I’ll save them for closer to the big day :)

As for the party, I’ve chosen a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme, and I’ve been getting loads of ideas on Pinterest.  We had trouble deciding where to have the party to begin with.  Unfortunately, living in London, we don’t have a huge house, so it just didn’t make sense to have it here.  We looked into party venues, but they can get quite costly, so we settled on a lovely church hall (it really is nice, it’s all brand new, a nice big room that has doors that lead out to a private garden).  So now the planning begins!  Many more blog posts to follow on this subject, I’m sure!

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Sightseeing in London with a Baby – Hampton Court Palace

Our latest sightseeing venture was to Hampton Court Palace!  It is a beautiful place to explore, the gardens are absolutely fantastic.  The palace itself has a lot of stairs, so that is important to keep in mind when going with a baby in a pram.  There are places to store buggies, but as I wanted E to sleep and hadn’t brought a baby carrier, I didn’t want to carry him around (plus he is getting heavy!)  So I spent most of the time waiting at the bottom of various sets of stairs with E (one of which is very pretty and we now have many photos of ;)

However, the grounds and the gardens make it all worthwhile, and something to consider is the gardens only ticket, which would save you a lot of money and you can still walk around the outside of the palace to take photos.  The cafe is also lovely and very baby and child friendly.   There are children’s  lunch boxes with a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme and even a little den with children’s sized tables and chairs.   Of course food can also be taken out into the grounds for a picnic.

Definitely a great destination for a family day out in London :)

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Sightseeing in London with a Baby – Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly, etc

Another day out with visitors in London!

We started out at Buckingham Palace, I hadn’t looked at the time of the changing of the guards, because I didn’t think we’d need to see it.  Of course, I should have looked up the time so that we could avoid it!  We accidently, upon getting closer and closer to the palace and seeing huge crowds, realised that we were just on time for the changing of the guards!  It was so crowded and chaotic, but actually it turned out to be ok.  We didn’t make any attempt to get close to the palace, but the guards now march outside of the gates (I don’t think that they’ve always done this) so we did get to see some of it, and E seemed to enjoy the marching :)

After that we walked through St James’ Park, a good spot for feeding and crawling around.  Then walked through to Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and then went to find some lunch.  We settled on Jamie’s Italian and we were glad we did.  They had a high chair for E and it is a noisy and lively place at lunch time, so we didn’t mind E having a little happy shout.  I didn’t see a children’s menu, but we had brought E’s lunch, and he was happy to munch away on bits of bread and other things off our plates.  Unfortunately there was no baby changing facilities, so yet again we had to find a Starbucks afterwards to change him.

We went onto Picadilly after that for some shopping and E was just happy looking around and having his afternoon nap in his pram.  I think he’s getting used to this sightseeing business :)

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