The great day-care debate…

I’ve been beating myself up over the fact that I returned to work, now I have the internal debate with myself about day-care.

 

It’s not that I’m against it, at all! I went to family day-care when I was just five months old and I have nothing but fond memories of those times. I guess as a mother I just have that internal tug of war relating to leaving Albie and knowing that it’s best for him to be with other children and to be stimulated at least once a week by qualified educators, it’s the guilt of also enjoying having that time to myself too. Plus he’s super clingy at the moment, so the thought of leaving him breaks my heart (although let’s be honest, they only need to show him a bright light, or turn the TV on and he’ll forget I even exist!) ha.

Lisa albs

The other thing that weighs heavily on my mind is the cost, it is no secret that pre-school (especially in Sydney) is extortionate, and in my opinion nowhere near as advanced as the rest of the world. At an average of $130 a day, for some it can feel out of reach as it cancels out their income that they would earn in that time.

 

I recently met with Jay Laga’aia to chat about why preschool benefits the brain, as a father of eight and having presented Preschool for many years he is a strong believer that all children should get to attend and experience the joy of preschool and a formal early education. Jay explained that he really believes in the value of a formal early education as children are not only stimulated from an educational perspective, but also from a social one too.

 

We spoke about NSW Government’s investment into day-care to ensure that those who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford to put their child in, even for one day a week. $115 million over 18 months is being delivered to make early childhood education more affordable will reduce fees significantly for children from Aboriginal and low-income families. (Allowing more parents to enrol their children for 600 hours in the years before school).

 

The Start Strong program works to assist parents to understand and consider how quality early childhood education can give their children the best start in life. Startstrong.nsw.edu.au is designed to help parents understand their child’s early development by demonstrating how the brain develops before the age of five.

The interactive platform startstrong.nsw.edu.au is designed to help parents understand their child’s early development by demonstrating how the brain develops before the age of five. The #StartStrong virtual experience allows users to follow the journey of a child’s brain at work. Like a real brain, each synapse on the platform is unique and there are 10 node hotspots, each with a unique animation that can be tapped for more information and eye opening insights.

Some of the research* includes:

  • Children who have participated in early childhood education are more likely to have an IQ higher than 90 at the age of 5
  • A child’s language skills and vocabulary often quadruple between ages two and four
  • 5 year old children use 60% of their energy to build a brain   So I concluded that even though I feel guilty about leaving my gorgeous Albie whilst I go to work, or hell go for a day spa to have some time to myself, I should be patting myself on the back as it is giving him the tools and experience for when he starts school. Also I should be thankful that I’m in a position financially to be able to put Albie into pre-school.
  • *The Child Brain Explained – NSW Department of Education’s research, 2017

 

He starts tomorrow and I opted for family day-care, have any of you had any experiences that you’d like to share when it comes to preschool and early formal education options?

 

Advertisements

PARENTING 101** ‘Mother-Guilt’, why do we feel it, how can we stop it?

I don’t know about you guys, but I suffer so much from ‘mother-guilt’, constantly questioning if am I spending too much time looking at my phone (probably), playing enough with Albie (there’s always time for more play), if Albie being stimulated enough (I hope so!)… The list goes on.

I can’t help but think in today’s society there is so much ‘mother guilt’ and unrealistic expectations put onto mums to be the best mum they can be. After thinking about this over and over again, I came to the conclusion that your baby loves you for you, not because you’re the best at cooking dairy free, gluten free, fun free (just jokes) food, not because you are the best at reading bed time stories (even though, let’s face it, you are!) and certainly not because you don’t let them have any sugar, they love you simply because you’re their mama/ parent.

Whilst I do believe that we’re all doing the best job we know how to (I know I am whilst juggling being back at work and running two start-up businesses), I do think there are always ways that we can connect more without little ones and help us ease up on the ‘mother-guilt’ a little.

I was actually really surprised recently to find out that child/parent eye contact (attunement) on the decline. The power of eye to eye contact (attunement) on the development of a young child cannot be underestimated. Leading childhood educator Leanne Hallowell has come out to say child/parent attunement is on the decrease – Which is concerning considering that this is a critical engagement that effects the child’s health and wellbeing.

Especially when you look at the stat that Australian adults are racking up over eight hours of screen time daily, and that children as young as one are reported to now be engaged and interactive with smart phones and tablets, with the majority of Australian kids spending more than the recommended two hour daily-limit (reported by the Australian institute of Family Studies). Now Albie is 10 months old and I haven’t got to the stage of him watching TV or iPads yet, as truthfully he’s only just discovered he has feet… So please be assured that I’m not condemning parents that allow their children to watch TV or an iPad, it’s all about balance right? I think so anyway.

So with balance in mind, in more ways than one I was so thrilled to find out that YMCA has launched the YMCA Playnasium. It’s such a cool concept that is essentially three pieces of equipment that combine gym and play for parents and children (what’s not to love). The YMCA Playnasium uses children as counterweights, allowing parents to work-out whilst simultaneously playing and bonding with their kids. Meaning I get to work out, tone up and stimulate Albie, winning!

Full set

The three pieces of YMCA Playnasium equipment, the row-row-row machine, the pec-a-boo and the pull upsy-daisy, have all been designed for families with young children (aged 0-7) to make exercise easy and fun. Check out the vid:

The ‘Playnasium’ is initially a Victorian initiative that travelled around allowing parents to trial the equipment, whilst learning all about the importance of eye contact with your children. So whilst we can’t head out and go and try the Playnasium for ourselves, I believe that it has helped me to think about about adopting the ideology of spending more time and eye contact with your child.

albie

Also, making sure we ease up on the guilt a little, this made me laugh, so hopefully it will make you giggle too:

18221906_1434209969933815_5245019787018702490_n
PREACH

 

Feet firmly on Aussie Soil – Emigrating with my family

So here I am, my baby boy is 10 months old (how the hell did that happen?!). I’m now on Australian soil and have an apartment in Waterloo, Sydney with Stephen and Albie. I’ve found myself at the receiving end of many questions asking about my move to the UK 12 months ago and then back down under again 2 months ago. It has been a massive roller coaster 18 months since I found out I was pregnant and to be honest, my feet have never really touched the ground.

swing

I’ve been mulling over where to begin after such a hiatus, so I figured (after many a deliberation) that the best place to start was at the beginning. So much has happened in such a short space of time, the only way I can break this down is into manageable (hopefully enjoyable, and sometimes informative chunks!).

Let’s rewind to November last year, we’d decided that Feb was going to be the ‘deadline’ month that we would leave our life in England, our home, our family and Stephen’s work. We felt that we wanted to have Albie’s first Christmas at home, and ideally we wanted our first (and last Xmas) at our first family home. It didn’t quite work out as we wanted it, but we’re still so glad that we stayed in the UK none the less. We ended up driving round the NW of England to see everyone and covered 75 KM on Christmas day in the car, which was less than ideal with a five month old. At least everyone got to see Albie on the day (thanks to Stephen for driving), and we had our own little Xmas dinner for just us, that I prepared for our lovely new dining room (which we got to use about 10 times, ha!).

alnie xmas

I’d surprised Stephen with a trip to London for his first birthday as a dad, partly because I wanted to see as much of England as we could before we made the ‘big move’. We went for the weekend of the 12th November and stayed in Shepherd’s Bush. We’d already had a few cross words about the trip as Stephen had said we couldn’t afford it, however I explained that we needed the quality time (especially as he had been working ridiculous hours, and that I was going stir crazy in the house all the time on my own.)

One of the things I struggled with in the UK was how little we saw of people, from going to Australia where you could do something every night and you friends become your family, to the UK and 25 miles up the road was that little step too far. I get it’s a culture thing absolutely and I was more isolated than most as my mum and grannie live in Spain and my dad works away in the middle east a lot. My friends also had their own lives (very busy ones) too with families, jobs and social lives of their own.

We arranged parties at our house so we could make the most of the large space that we had, and to show off our hard work. Knowing that we were leaving, we wanted to make as much effort as possible.

I also shot myself in the foot, as I knew I was moving back to Australia, I didn’t join any mum’s groups or reach out to other new mums in the area. I did take Albie to baby sensory and baby massage at the local Thornton Children’s Centre, which was amazing, but didn’t make lasting friendships with the mums as again, I knew I was leaving.

Another group we went to was ‘Water Babies’ in Wigan Total Fitness (my old stomping ground), which we did two courses of (Albie completed his Chapter 2) from the age of three months. I’ll chat more about this in another post but will say that it was absolutely amazing and now that we’re living in Australia, Albie’s confidence in the water really shines through.

Albie swim

Back to our London trip, it was s special to me that we were able to spend the time together as a family and that the cost was irrelevant to me for the quality time that came as a result. I don’t know about other mums, but I really struggled with having inconsistency when it came to post baby income. I didn’t claim maternity in the UK and my two businesses in Australia were either running themselves at breakeven whilst I took the time with my new family, or went on hiatus for the same reason.

The fact that Stephen supported us for a year whilst I was in the UK was an absolute godsend and I’ll be eternally grateful, luckily I was able to secure some freelance PR work throughout the year to stop me losing my marbles completely, I was working until the night before I had my C section and started work from a freelance capacity nine weeks after Albie was born on a casual basis. I also started this blog and kept Sydney Social 101 afloat financially throughout this time, which again, helped to keep me sane.

An argument that kept (and continues) to come up is about money, which is hard to take when you’re so used to being independent and not relying on anybody. It’s hard enough not working anymore and feeling like you’re ‘just a mum’, without being reminded that you also aren’t earning a regular wage. It’s interesting now as Stephen is now the one who is at home with Albie for three days whilst I go to work, and he also now can’t work until his tourist visa expires and his de-facto visa kicks in. (I’ll do another post about the visa situation and my tips to make it as easy as possible).

I guess I am I a kind of lucky position that my partner now has some understanding that, although having the time with Albie is amazing as you watch your little person develop their personality, make you smile and when he giggles it melts your heat, it can also leave you feeling lonely (he doesn’t talk back) and intellectually (and financially!) suppressed. I would imagine that this is x 100 when you’re also in a new country, with not many friends of your own, no job and having just given up a job that you did for 12 years and sold a house that you put your heart, soul and savings into.

We have both been through so much in the nearly two years we have been together (seriously where did that time go!), as a result Stephen is my rock, but we are both guilty of taking our frustrations out on each other and we’re learning every day how to best communicate with each other, without resulting in a complete breakdown.

I’ll do a separate post about the big move (and all that comes with it, financially emotionally and personally) on here very soon. I get asked a lot about what it involved and how the hell we managed the flight with an eight month old! (Surprisingly the latter was much easier than we anticipated). It’s the ‘starting again’ which is the hardest, when you’re literally back to the drawing board when it comes to belongings, furniture and your home.

So here I am, back online with a breadth of stories and features to share with you, from flying with a little one, emigrating, struggling with motherhood, going back to work and constant communication breakdowns with your partner. There’s also some massive positives I’d love to chat to you guys about – living in this amazing city, activities for parents and children and the odd review and feature along the way!

We’ve been in Sydney for six weeks now and we’re finally finding our feet. I’ve started to work for an amazing new company in a senior role, we have moved into our new place in Waterloo (which is stunning and has an outdoor pool – living the dream), I’ve introduced Stephen to my friends and he has made new friends and we have our first trip to Brisbane this weekend as a family. A side of that, we only have a sofa, a fridge a bed and a cot furniture wise and we have to do a visa run for Albie next week – but it’s all about baby steps and holding on tight right?!

Ste Lisa

Thought so! Next post to follow real soon.

 

Lisa x

NEW BABY 101** I’m going to let you in on a secret…

As I approach the amazing milestone that is my son’s fifth month anniversary, I can safely say that these five months have been the best of my life. I feel however in the nature of my blog, honesty and the importance of transparency, I let you in on a little secret.

The first three months were the hardest months of my life. It goes without saying that I’ve experienced the highest of the highs, but without a doubt, the lowest of the lows. I’m going to try and explain little what I mean here and to hopefully reassure any new parents that they’re not alone.

There are so many well-documented stories in scripture and online that go into great detail of the most amazing elements of the first few months of having a new baby. The first smile, the first time they roll over, when you manage to crack breastfeeding technique, master tot sleeping through, when they grab your finger… the list goes on. It is without a doubt the most special, incredible time, however I can’t help but feel however that people don’t talk about the other elements of having a new baby that can well and truly rock the boat and pull the rug from under your feet.

Many of my friends have had babies, and they’ve embarked on the incredible journey with their husbands, or long term partners that they’ve gotten to know inside out and have a strong foundation to build their new family on. It is with this foundation that they can find reassurance when there are surprises and bumps along the way, as they know at the heart of it all they love each other and know each other inside out. They just know that this is a high pressure scenario that they’ve spent the last few years working towards.

Whereas my journey is a little different, we’d known each other for four months as friends and only one month as lovers when we found out I was pregnant. We were facing down the barrel of the unknown in terms of everything about each other. We hadn’t even said “I Love you’ yet, even though I knew in my heart that I already did.

Looking back on the last year, almost to the day that we found out we were expecting, we have spent nine months of our relationship pregnant and four months with a new baby. It would be hard for anyone to determine if the bumps in the road and the emotions were a product of an extremely high pressure situation, of it that was our DNA and who we fundamentally were as a couple.

wingin-it

It is with great relief, that at the other end of the barrel (where the light shines) that we absolutely are the people that we each fell for and that any bumps (some more serous than others) were due to hormones, lack of sleep and massive amounts of pressure for everything to be perfect (which we only put on ourselves). Its easy to think that our situation has been the way it has due to all these factors, however I can safely say that after speaking to friends, and friends of friends that have had children, this is a universal symptom of an amazing life event.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re due to welcome your bundle of joy, or you’re four weeks in and tearing out your hair, or even three months down the line and are worried that this is forever, rest assured you’re not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

When you welcome a beautiful baby to your life, it is without question the most special time. The love you feel is polarising and the determination to give this bundle of joy the best life is overwhelming. ‘Overwhelming’ being the operative word as it is a time so much for your shoulders, and your relationships to bare.

The big secret is… the first three months are fucking HARD WORK. Aside from the beautiful baby that you love more than life itself, here’s a little roll call of what else to expect (that many don’t tell you about, but that everyone that I’ve spoken to has experienced – which beggars the question; “why it isn’t spoken about more”):

  • Lack of sleep (for both of you, whether you’re breastfeeding of formula feeding, your partner will wake up with you despite your best efforts) – Whilst I truly believe that women have a super human hormone that kicks in for the first month that enables you to operate on just two hours sleep, the men aren’t so lucky. With many men only getting two weeks paternity entitlement from their companies, they are coping with 2 hours sleep, plus getting up for work and having their game face on. After the first two weeks you can wake up for the 10th time in the middle of a cluster feed and be physically shaking due to the tiredness, it is a all you can muster to stifle the tears rolling down your cheek to ‘put a brave face on it’. Which brings us swiftly on to my next experience…
  • Lack of communication/ understanding – He’s working full time, you have a little person permanently attached to you. You’re both not sleeping, you’re sore and exhausted and he’s expected to go to work and have the same level of productivity that he did before the arrival of baby. He’s feeling guilty that he’s leaving you both all day, and you’re feeling resentful that he doesn’t understand how hard it is to go from being you, to being ‘mum’. Arguments ensue, pretty fucking bad ones too.
  • Second Guessing – So many comments (from anyone, not just your partner) are misinterpreted as a dig against your skills as a parent, and even the most sincere of actions can be construed as an attack, or ‘point scoring’.  We’re all doing the best job we can do, and most of the time feel like the blind leading the blind, so no, we don’t want to be asked if “the bottle might just be for the best”, or “to try and sleep whilst they sleep” (and face your partner come home from work and loudly do the pots and pans whilst slamming every door as if he’s silently saying with each bang, what the fuck have you been doing all day?!)
  • The infamous ‘Day Five Blues’ – Yeah sure we’ve read about this one, even our midwives has asked us about this and told us to brace ourselves, however no amount of warning can prepare you for the rush of emotion that takes a hold of you. It’s perhaps not surprising that you partner is scared shitless that his missus is a sobbing wreck, when all she’s spoken about the last nine months how this is all she’s ever wanted…
  • Intimacy (or lack of it) – You have a new small person sharing a bedroom with you, they’re attached to your body at least 75% of the day, and the other 25% you’re sleeping. The last thing on your mind (especially after pushing a human being from down below, or being cut open) is being intimate. However whilst you might expect this for the first 4-6 six weeks, to often can go into months rather than weeks (although I do think it’s massively important to make time for each other).

So if you’re experiencing all, some or none of the above, you honestly are not alone. Talk to your friends, be honest with our parter and don’t be afraid to have a good cry! It helps honestly. I can say hand on heart that if you weather the storm, you’ll be on the other side and will eventually laugh about the rows and misunderstandings, even with a bit of fondness… maybe…

 

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-36-27-pm

The first month – what to expect…

So I ended up at the hospital for four days in total due to issues with my bladder and having to have a catheter fitted again after having it taken out… ouch!

I loved being in the hospital, we had so many visitors and I loved the nights where I got to spend time with my little bundle of joy all on my own, heaven! In fact on the first night the midwife actually had to take him away from me for an hour at about 4am as I didn’t want to put him down.

It took us three days to decide on a name, we finally decided on Albie James Moore -he’s named after my Grandpa and Ste’s step-dad, our little AJ! Peanut is Peanut no more!

img_3714
Albie’s thoughts on having no name for 4 days, ha!

It was so nerve wracking taking Albie home in his car seat for the first time, we didn’t want to make it too tight so he couldn’t breathe and we didn’t want it too slack so that he was fully secured. I don’t think Stephen had ever driven so safe in his life due to our extra precious cargo onboard.

I was told by the midwives to expect a ‘baby blues’ day on day 5/6 due to all the hormones raging around my body – I was so elated that I couldn’t imagine that this could happen to me… how wrong could I be! As I was exclusively breastfeeding we strapped in for a rough ride, I think I got about 2 hours sleep the whole night, but I didn’t mind, I was running on pure adrenaline.  Suffice to say it caught up with me the next day.

The midwife came for her first visit on Friday where he was weighed and she checked my breastfeeding technique, which apparently was perfect, yeah! She also told me about the baby blues and told me to brace myself. We arranged for her to come back again on Monday as I’d only been home a matter of hours.

The day went by in a blur of feeding, nappies and visitors – to say I was exhausted was putting it mildly. Stephen had his two week paternity leave, so was able to provide a massive amount of support. I was still quite tender from my C Section and my time was taken up with feeding little Albie.

That night the baby blues hit me like a brick wall… I had been none stop feeding and was feeling very sore and vulnerable. My boobs were also very sore, I was told that if they hurt that you’re not doing it right, however I call bullshit! When the baby latches on, especially in the first month, it felt to me like he was sucking razor blades through my nipple. I was told to persevere with the first two weeks and that it would get better – I bloody well hoped it would!

img_3914

I broke down on Stephen and told him I didn’t want to just be a mum and that I felt like a milling machine. God bless him, he didn’t laugh at me (how he didn’t I have no idea, I must’ve sounded like an irrational idiot). I was so scared that having a baby meant that I would constantly have him attached to my boob, that I would be in content pain and that I’d never feel attractive again.

Stephen was great and just kept reassuring me and telling me I was doing a great job. In my eyes giving up breastfeeding wasn’t an option, I had given up work for at least three months and this was now my full time job, I had no excuse.

Honestly the first two weeks went by in a blur, one part that I do remember massively is when Albie ‘forgot’ to latch. I was trying to breastfeed him from 3pm on the Sunday and he still hadn’t properly latched that night. I finally gave in and phoned the midwife, I was hysterical. She told me to express off some milk so that he had some fluid. I did have reservations about him not being able to go back to the boob, but at this point I just needed to get some fluid into him.

Luckily my mum had bought me a breast pump the day before, so I expressed off 30ml and fed him straight away. The midwife came that morning and concluded that my technique was fine, but as he’d not fed for so long my boobs had become engorged. We resorted to using a nipple shield so that he could latch on (I’d bought some of these in advance on the recommendation of my lovely friend in Australia, who was also breastfeeding and quickly becoming my oracle – thanks Abby!). The midwife told me to keep offering him the nipple each time he needed a feed before resorting to the shield. Thank goodness the next feed he miraculously remembered how to latch and all was well with the world.

It worked out well too as I knew that Albie was able to go seamlessly from the breast to the bottle and back again, so it meant that I could start to express off some of the feeds to allow Stephen to do some of the feeding and for me to have a cheeky glass of vino 😉

img_4383
Such an over achiever already, ha!

Once we’d overcome this obstacle we were faced with another one, which we were quickly realising is the case with a newborn… he had now started cluster feeding at the beginning of week 3, he literally didn’t stop feeding for 24 hours. It was exhausting! Apparently it is good for increasing your supply, but in all honesty you don’t give a flying f*** about that at the time, ha! Luckily this episode only took 24 hours.

img_3820
There’s no way you can be mad with him!

I felt confident with my breastfeeding and it was getting less and less painful, which was a massive relief. Nearly four weeks after Albie was born we had one of my best friend’s weddings. I had initially meant to be a bridesmaid, however when we found out we were expecting Albie, I graciously stood down. The wedding was over the water at the Wirral and we were invited all day. I made the decision to express 3 x breast milk (60ml) feeds in advance and to have 3 x formula feeds (90 ml) and had enlisted my mum to watch Albie for the day with her boyfriend.

img_4685
The stunning bride

It felt great to get out for the day and to spend some time with Stephen. As everything had happened so quickly, this was our first date drinking since October! The wedding was absolutely stunning, the bride looked absolutely stunning and we had such an awesome day. I missed Albie massively, yet knew he was in good hands! It was quite funny as I had to take a massive bag with me so I could fit my breast pump in it (I expressed and discarded the milk throughout the day so that my flow wasn’t affected).

fullsizerender

We’d reached the four week milestone and couldn’t be happier, we were just about starting to find our feet in terms of routine and I felt like I’d cracked the breastfeeding.

img_4902

 

 

C Section – We finally meet Peanut

The two weeks before the C Section, Stephen and I got a lot of the baby items ticked off our list! To say we’re laid back is somewhat of an understatement! Were so lucky that we had the help and support of our family, and that we received some amazing gifts from our friends to get the ball rolling.

The items that we decided to go ahead with (which I’d totally recommend to anyone looking for a pointer with regards to essentials for a new (first) baby):

  • PramBugaboo Chameleon – We got this as a gift from my mum and granny, it was 849 from Winstanley’s Pram World in Wigan (which was recommended by one of my good friends) and we got the car seat included in the price (worth 200). We also got the isofix adapters so that the seat could go on the pram frame. As we’re moving to Australia we wanted a pram that could be adaptable to different terrains, we also wanted a buggy/ crib option, which would give us the best of both worlds. It’s such a dream to push, the only issue we have is with the storage, which can’t be accessed easily when the crib fitting is being used.
  • Car SeatBeSafe Izi-Go Modular – Midnight Black – We decided to go with this option as opposed to the Maxi Cosi as BeSafe is the regulatory / safety body for the manufacturing of car seats, we felt confident that this would be the best option for us when it came to the safety of the seat. This car seat is the only one that has been tested not only for front and rear imp ace, but for side impact also.
  • Isofix base (for car seat) – When my friend in Aus recommended this, I had no idea what this was – but if you have a car, this is a must have. It makes putting the car seat into the car and taking it lout of the car so much easier. No seat belt required!
  • Co-sleeper CribChicco Next to Me – This was recommended to me by one of my friends in Australia who had just had a baby. I’d never heard of them, but let me tell you that this is one of the best purchases and options for those wanting to opt for co-sleeping.
  • Moses Basket – With Moses baskets, I feel these are a personal choice – all I will say is that if you have a family member or friend that is willing to donate or let you borrow one of theirs, I would do. I completely understand the desire to have everything new when it’s your first baby, however they do grow out of the moses basket at about 3/4 months (depending on how big your baby is). You can however pick up a lovely Moses basket for upwards of 30, so it doesn’t break the bank and they really do come in handy in the first months – especially if you’ve had a C Section and don’t want to be climbing the stairs over and over again.

These are what I feel are the essential ‘big items’ to buy before the arrival of your little one, if you’re breast-feeding (however, if you’re bottle feeding you will need things like sterilisers and bottles etc.)

One of the elements that I had ZERO clue about was the hospital bag, I didn’t know what was too much, too little, essentials and ‘nice to have’… However now I’ve been there and done that so to speak, here’s what I’ll say is best to take:

For Baby:

  • 4 x vests (short sleeve) – for throw up allowance
  • 4 x sleep suits
  • 1 x hat (to put on once born)
  • 1 x babygrow (to put on once born)
  • 1 x pack of new born nappies (Mamia from Aldi are the best)
  • 1 x pack of cotton wool
  • 1 x natural baby wash (paraben and alcohol free)

For mum:

  • Comfy PJs (with nursing option if breastfeeding)
  • Packet disposable knickers
  • Packet of pregnancy pads
  • 2 x pack of chunky socks (some painkillers can make your feet feel v cold)
  • Cardigan
  • 2 x loose fitting outfits (one size bigger than normal dress size) – I went for leggings, cami and loose fitting nursing jumper
  • Lanolin – if breastfeeding for your nipples (lifesaver)
  • Nice body lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower gel (its mad how much a nice shower after giving birth can make you feel better!)
  • Face wipes
  • Phone charger
  • hair tie/ head band
  • Towel (hospitals don’t provide these)

So now I’ve given you my hospital bag 101, I’ll tell you about my amazing experience welcoming Peanut into the world.

Our booking time was 8am, so we set off from home at 7am as the drive is about 40 minutes away. I didn’t feel nervous at all, I was just so excited to meet my little bundle. I think it helped as I’ve had four major abdominal surgeries before, I kind of knew what to expect from a recovery perspective and the thought of a spinal didn’t phase me.

Upon arrival at the hospital my best friend Sophie met us, she was my midwife and would be in theatre with me. It felt so reassuring knowing that she was looking after us. We were shown to our bed on the ward, but advised that we would be provided with a private room (the perks of being bests with the midwife!). The team told us that I was the only C section that day (4th July 2016), so that I should be in by 9am. I was told to put the hospital gown on and wait for them to come and grab me.

Stephen and I sat and chatted and were very relaxed. I think Stephen was more nervous than me, but didn’t let me see it.

img_3588

We found out that a lady had had complications with her birth that morning and had to go to theatre, so we actually ended up waiting until about 10:30.

When they came to get me, I felt nothing other than excitement that I was going to meet Peanut very soon.

Once we got to the theatre, Stephen was taken to ‘scrub up’ and I was taken to have the spinal. The room was filled with lots of people, but was v calm and the radio was on. I remember noting how relaxed it was and how it filled me with ease.

Now a lot of people asked me if the spinal hurt, honestly I didn’t feel anything. There was pressure at the bottom of my spine, but definitely not pain. Once I’d had the spinal I was told to lie down. They did a test with cold water to make sure I couldn’t feel anything, it was so surreal as I could feel it on my breast but then it disappeared. I remember being worried as I could wiggle my toes, but the anaesthetist (who was amazing BTW) laughed and said I wasn’t giving birth through my toes, ha!

Once I’d lied down they put the screen up so that I couldn’t see what was happening the ‘business end’ and Stephen sat beside me. Sophie popped around to say hello and I gave the other midwife, who was also a friend, my phone to document the birth.

img_3593

I did have a little wobble when the began, my blood pressure dropped and I felt very faint and sick, however a quick dose of an anti sickness drug into my canular soon put that to rest.

Throughout the whole process I was kept informed, the surgeon was just amazing and I felt totally at ease with him. Sophie told me he was the best in at what he does, so I had no reservations at all.

The next thing I remember is my anaesthetist telling me that I’d feel pushing and pulling as they pulled Peanut out, however I felt absolutely nothing. Some people say it feels like washing up in your stomach, but honestly I didn’t feel a thing.

One moment later Stephen was standing up to see Peanut be delivered, he turned to me and told me he was a boy – I was just in awe, it didn’t seem real.

img_3615

Sophie shouted over that he was gorgeous and perfect. Before I knew it he was all wrapped up next to me. I looked at Stephen and we knew in that moment that this was our little family, just amazing. On the radio was M People, Moving on Up, which tickled me.

img_3633

They put Peanut on me for skin to skin contact, all at once I felt complete. I’m not going to lie and say it was like the movies with sunshine and rainbows, but it was pretty special thinking that this little bundle of joy was mine.

Little Peanut was born at 11:06am and weighed 6lb 10oz.

img_3665

They gave Peanut to Stephen to take to recovery as they operated on my dermoid (cyst) on my ovary – again they talked me through the whole process and I was reassured that they were able to drain it and preserve all of my ovarian tissue, phew!

img_3687

In recovery I was reunited with Peanut and had more skin-on-skin contact, Sophie even tried to get him to breastfeed, he didn’t latch the first time, but definitely had the instinct.

img_3669

Once we’d been in recovery for 30 minutes, we were taken back to the ward whilst we waited for our room to be ready.

It was so surreal being wheeled back to the ward with our baby, such a special feeling. Whilst back in the bay I decided to have another go at breastfeeding and after a few false starts he latched on, it was literally the most amazing feeling in the world and it literally was sunshine and rainbows. I remember ‘What a Wonderful World’ being on the radio and that was the song that I knew I’d remember forever.

At 3pm our room became available and I got ready for my first night on my own as a mum – amazing!

img_3686

When I first found out that I had to have a C Section I was absolutely gutted, however I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life and that I wouldn’t change it for the world.

One chapter closes, a new one opens…

This is the part of the blog that I was so nervous about writing, all will transpire as you read on…

Whilst waiting for my bundle of joy to arrive I had so much to look forward to, I was back in the UK with my family and I wanted to take full advantage of them being only a short car journey away (as opposed to a 24 hour flight!).

I decided that I was going to go against tradition and arrange my own baby shower, I’m a massive control freak and as this whole pregnancy was such a surprise I wanted to make sure that all my family and friends were invited.

My dad and step mum kindly let me use their house for the baby shower, they have a lovely back garden that would just be the best setting.

I invited my close friends and family to come along, but was really gutted that my mum and granny couldn’t make it as they were in Spain. It was ok though as I knew we’d make up for it when Peanut arrived.

One of the things I was most thrilled about was that my Nana could come! My dad’s mum means the absolute world to me and helped to bring me up, she lost my grandpa only 7 months previous and had been struggling, so I hoped that this might cheer her up as I knew how excited she was about the impending arrival.

li-and-ste

The baby shower was just the most special day, it was sunny and I was surrounded by so many people that I love. I was showered with so many special gifts and was blown away by everybody’s generosity.

I left the games element up to my guests and they sure didn’t disappoint! My favourite was the ‘baby grow’ game, where each team of four had to create a ‘designer baby grow’ to win an exclusive prize. As you can see from above, I have some pretty talented friends.

I decided to pick the baby grow that had a kangaroo on it and the words ‘ Oz or UK, it will be ok!’ – It meant so much to me, as it was playing on my mind that I would be whisking Peanut all the way back around the world again in six month’s time. I was thrilled when I found out that it was my Nana’s team that had designed that baby grow, I knew it was their way of showing how much they support me.

One of the great things about being back in the UK is that I get to attend some of my family and friend’s big life occasions, hell there are three weddings that we’ve been invited to in the UK this summer. The first of the weddings was Stephen’s sister’s wedding, which was taking place two weeks after the baby shower. I was so excited as it meant that I’d get to meet some of Stephen’s family that I hadn’t met yet, and of course to celebrate Yvonne’s special day.

As with so many moments in my life, things never go as planned and things seem to happen when I least expect them, leaving me feeling like a rug has been pulled from under my feet…

It was the day before Yvonne’s wedding and Stephen and I were in Liverpool shopping for Stephen’s suit and I got a call from my dad. My nana had been taken ill in the week and was gravely ill at Wigan Infirmary – my dad explained that she was having trouble breathing and that she was in intensive care. Stephen and I rushed to be by her bedside that evening. We knew that we had Yvonne’s wedding the next day and I was now heavily pregnant and my pain from my adhesions had gotten even worse – to the point I couldn’t drive on my own. I got a chance to speak to my nana and give her a hug and a kiss and told her I’d be back on Monday morning.

The wedding was stunning and Yvonne looked beautiful, however I couldn’t help but think of my nana all day.

yvonnes-wedding

I received a phonecall at 2pm from my brother, who explained that they had made the difficult decision to stop the oxygen – I was absolutely devastated, but understood the reasons and that we didn’t want her to be in pain anymore. He told me that she was stable and that all the family were there and to not worry.

The next morning I raced to the hospital with Stephen, however five minutes before we got there she had sadly passed away. It was like we’d been hit by a rock, my nana, the matriarch of our family had gone, only two weeks before our planned c-section and arrival of Peanut. We were completely in shock.

Despite the awful circumstances, I was happy that my nana and my grandpa would be together again. My family also reassured me that nana finding out about me having Peanut and meeting Stephen had made her some happy in the past six months and that she couldn’t have been happier for me and our future family.

I wont go into details about the send off we gave her, but I will say that we gave her the goodbye that she deserved.

The two weeks before the c-section, Peanut’s arrival, were again – the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. It truly brought to the fore the sentiment of the saying that as one chapter closes, another one opens.

I am so lucky to have had a lady like my nana in my life, she has tight me so much and had helped to make me the person that I am today, for that I am forever thankful and will have the memories for a lifetime.

nan-and-gramps

For my Nana Mary and Grandpa Albert – you’re with us always in our hearts and our thoughts. x