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Monday, 10 September 2012

Bye Bye Breastfeeding

So, it has come to an end - my bouncing little cherub of 7 and a half months is coming off the boob. I feel liberated but a bit sad that I may never breastfeed again - it's such a beautiful feeling to produce your baby's milk and satisfy their demands with your body. Their sounds of indulgent gulping throughout, and contented cooing after they've finished a feed - all produced by you. I loved how easy it was (after the first week's soreness hurdle) to feed my baby and not need to sterilise bottles and buy powder and have water ready at a time when Elias needed feeding the most often. Milk on tap, portable, warm and forever ready beat night-time formula prep and also gave me an extra hand free to pick up my coffee (it's OK during a feed!), browse online, stroke baby or fend off a toddler. Oh, and it gave me massive boobs for a while, which is such a change!

Although he's forever developing, I feel as though Elias has entered a new phase of mobility, exploration, and communication that ties in well with a severence of our special bond. I too, am entering a new phase of independence and freedom, allbeit due to my own disorganisation of not expressing milk or leaving my baby for too long. Most mothers balance breastfeeding well with normal life, my response was to just involve my baby with everything I did and everywhere I went, thanks largely to babywearing - but now I want to burst free and go out dancing, drinking, stay out late, largely because I can - but mainly because I miss it. (err I haven't yet but want to! On the hunt for a babysitter ;)

Gosh this sounds dramatic and life-changing but it's a just a new phase of so many others: he's commando crawling, loves holding our hands and going for a little walk, leading the weaning and I had almost forgotten how messy that gets! His night-time sleep is always interrupted by a need for 2 bottles which is frustrating and tells me he needs to eat more during the day, but this is part of our journey to make him a strong little boy and I'm happy knowing that I started it the best way I could.

Now, to wait for les boobs to settle and go underwear shopping!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Seven Months

I've just sat down with the laptop on my knee and after a fabulous morning at a pool party followed by a difficult afternoon I find respite watching the Madrid v Barcelona match with man and friend thus not having to move anywhere, but whipping out connection. Oh how I've drifted.

Elias is 7 months old, massively interested in food, having a disrupted sleep between travelling between Spain, France and the UK, and breastfeeding to bottle crossover, teething slightly but non bearing and confounding my expectations by travelling quelques metres and climbing up the side of the cot. He can stand.

He's so smiley and goodnatured, laughs and awed by Leon but sometimes fearful of his heavy hugs or threatening playtime.

Leon wishes he could play with him more but they're getting there. He's very protective of his little brother but then again, is also super protective of his toys, and mama. He's learning! He no longer wears nappies and has aced the toilet training. Some accidents at night but he's learnt so quickly. Leon can converse well in English and now French after his summer holiday in France and daddy's chitchat. After listening to the Olympics on the radio in French countryside he sang the Marseillaise. A week later, he'd interrupt my 'Rule Britannia' with La Marseillaise (God Save The Queen wasn't catchy enough), but since returning to London for a week, he sings it happily.

6 months at Laguepie
6 mois au Petit Pradel
6 months country bumpkin (outfit from Latte Mama do check out the Swedish Goodness!)

Cows coming (past our) home


Leon playing with his trains

Elias bubbles


I love Madrid, our new home, and meeting fun mamas locally and in Expat community but not as much on offer as London and although bursting with ideas and will, I feel a lack of tribe and confidence perhaps to kick into action. I need a night out but tommorow it will happen although I feel bad leaving the non-dormeurs.

But hey we're having a super summer and passing stages, saying goodbye to childhood homes, reigniting generation old family homes, seeing sisters grow up, seeing friends move up, seeing your babies develop and bloom. It's beautiful and emotional.

As for me, I bathed in the cool Aveyron river, jumped 50 metres off a Viaduct, ate like a country queen - sparking a love of Roquefort and reviving the family holidays of yesteryear into a different page and spreading over.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Tommee Tippee digital video monitor with movement sensor pad review-it's ace

We've never used a baby monitor before and, well never really needed one as our previous one bed flat was too small to warrant it. Leon had shared our room up to 15 months and then we got a comfy sofabed, collapsed our own bed and migrated to the living room separated by the kitchen. We'd hear the little prince if he needed us.

But, our new flat in Madrid is considerably larger, making it harder to hear little yelps, and requires running up and down a long corridor if checking on the babies- often waking them in the process...

So, the Tommee Tippee Digital Video Monitor has been a heaven sent piece of equipment for us! Not only can we check on 5 month old Elias and 2 and a half year old Leon from the comforts of our living room, it also alerts you should there be a lack of movement from the baby, helping relieve new parents' fears of SIDS thanks to the high tech sensor pad.
Tommee Tippee Digital Video Monitor with Movement Sensor Pad

Easy to set up, this is a brilliant, sleek monitor with super quality, colour visuals, night vision and zoom function: this is so cool as you can focus on your baby and even better if you have two kids as you can zoom in on each one.

You can even talk back to whoever won't sleep and tell them to knock it off!

Another great feature is that you can turn off the screen while keeping the sound on, which is handy. You can also opt to turn off the sound or have it very quiet- all combinations that we use. Great for showing off your baby to friends at night if he's quietly sleeping. (Just make sure you zoom back out again to reduce noise levels as it squeaks unnervingly if you take it into baby's room on full volume if he's crying.)

There are little lights that blink on if there's noise - but it's not very obvious and not too visible from afar (for when we're outside on the terrace and I can look in on the monitor through the door or if music is on...). The great thing is that you can unplug it from the power source and carry it with you.
Tommee Tippee Digital Video Monitor Parent Unit. So Clear!

I loved the function allowing you to respond to baby, calming him down with your soothing voice. Though I found it hard to know when he could hear me or not- a little experiment with my man sorted that out- and a read through the instructions put my mind at ease.

All the buttons are helpful and I found the nightlight function on the baby end very useful giving a lovely soft glow- adaptable with a slider or with the parent unit- and I found that if you placed it in front of a white background the light glowed further.

The movement sensor pad that is placed underneath baby's mattress is a good idea for young babies, sounding an alarm if it detects a lack of movement for 20 seconds- a drive to reduce SIDS, however I didn't feel the need to use this and personally felt it would make me worry more about it! But it's a good idea to link this to the baby monitor for parents concerned about their younger babies (after 5months they perhaps wriggle too much but it's a sizeable pad so some of Elias was always on it). When I tried it out I was impressed, however you need to remember to switch it off if picking baby up, and to bring parent monitor with you- things I forget at 4.30am thus provoking unnerving beeps!

Another great function is the temperature which now, summertime in Madrid can be above 37 celcius during daytime and still in 30s at night. Even if we're cool, the babies' room seems hotter but then it drops in the early morning so this reminds me to go check on windows etc.

I love that the parent monitor is so portable and the high quality of the video image even at night! Look!

Tommee Tippee Digital Video Monitor so clear even at night!

The digital quality is superb and there's no interference noise as I've heard with other friends' monitors. The whole set is super easy to set up- and I highly recommend it. You can buy it here for £199 and follow Tommee Tippee on Twitter @TommeeTippee_UK

*I was sent the product for the purpose of the review but am using it a lot and love it!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sharing is caring

Leon loves his brother- I know this- but I worry about his displays of aggression towards Elias that can happen most days through roaring loudly at him, thumping, pinching and kicking him for no apparent reason. It seems that he's realised all the attention he gets from me and how much time we spend together and isn't liking it. Im making more of an effort to take time to play Duplo on the floor with Leon and praise him for all the positives and it's paying off. I've become more patient too and try not to take out my anger of his actions on him but still discipline him appropriately. It's hard not to leave them both together, especially when I know Leon really cares for him but it's not possible and this makes it tough for me constantly moving baby around the flat in the afternoons when leon's back from playschool.

He shares his apple as well as his toys with his little brother and can't wait for him to be able to play with him properly. He loves giving him cuddles and jumping on him- still not twigging how little he really is.

Need to find ways of them playing together safely I suppose. Elias wants to move around a lot more too- though he can't yet and I feel like I'm constantly surveilling them!


Monday, 25 June 2012


I'm constantly springing around my home barefoot and managed to step on a thorn-like black thing that I can't get out of the ball of my right foot. Feels like glass, but is black and smaller- a splinter or perhaps a bee sting but I didn't spot any bees on the floor. It's incredibly frustrating digging around the the underside of my foot with tweezers and a needle but give up after 5 minutes as ankle aches from the twist and I realise I'm digging deep into my foot and possibly making it worse (or I'm needed by a child...). I can't get the thing out. It's even more gross as I've realised the extent of pedi neglect and thick layers of dry skin make the task harder and more disgusting. I walked on it a lot yesterday so have probably lodged it in more though I've been limping along the side of it. At nighttime the immense corridor appears more like an expedition than a few leaps.

I feel lame.

Foreign body in my foot get the fuck out!!

**Update: IT WAS A MASSIVE SHARD OF GLASS and it's out now PHEW**

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Cybher 2012 was awesome and it was such a while ago, but for any female bloggers who can get to London for the 2013 event it was a brilliant reunion of female bloggers across the spectrum.

The intro panel predicted the future of blogging would include fewer 'sponsored posts' and tighter relationships with brands, a big emphasis on monetisation- but the consensus was that if you're going to work on something, why not monetize it?! I took away encouragement to : Stay authentic, dedicated, love your blog, find your niche and have fun with it. This was echoed throughout the rest of the day.

Highlights include:

Zoe Margolis explaining her ordeal of being outed as a raunchy sex blogger- I'd read about this a while ago, and thought it an awful experience- but hearing about it personally made me realise the challenges and unexpected turns that bloggers were encountering ten years ago when it wasn't so 'mainstream'.

Erotic bloggers Lori and Ruby inspiring others to be courageous and write about sex. A lot. It was a talk full of giggles and grins- but it was all very down to earth. They were positive about including a bit of sex in your blog- but if you do this, top tip was to not write about your own sex life and think of creative ways to include experiences... We learned about how big the sex toy products reviews are but this is all very alien to me! For them, it's hard to remain anonymous- don't put anything out there that you would want known. If someone wants to find out they will. Make it part of who you are (Ruby). Why not? Women have been writing about sex for ages.

Imagery and idea generation to make your blog brilliant
Blogging is very visual now. Lifecasting Pinterest Instagram very popular and help with traffic.
Keep imagery consistent in width... Careful with images if you steal them...

Check out picnik creative kit from Google+, and for adding frames, filters etc don't need software- just image editing websites
Polyvore for creating sets of items with backgrounds etc (good for fashion bloggers) has a social aspect but can grab HTML code before publishing
Can use images from and can use their images with attribution. Can also allow your images to be used.

Money saving blogging
Look at last few posts and see how you can put a frugal spin on it.
Not many ppl in this sphere- but people looking for it. Be consistent (special day like magpie Monday,  ebay Sunday etc)
Link to others seems to give authority- in the know of niche
Plan content like a news editor

Bloggers Q&A
Messed up rooms and would have loved to have gone to how to get what you want but have seen enough tips on Twitter to get the gist. This was an exchange of other people's blogs- good to see mix of responses eg. Always replying to PRs as not sure where they may move to next. "it's nice to be important but it's important to be nice"

Feminist panel
When they had their F moment what exactly does it mean....?? For me perhaps can call yourself feminist if you've been discussing the ideals and read up on history etc.

They say:
Equality etc
Important to have the label to acknowledge the history and equality of women and questioning things and using power for good
#cybherfem to continue discussion
So now yes I can call myself a Feminist too!

Cybher ethics in blogging
Authenticity- be real- but as Emily mentioned have diff voices (fam, work etc.) so CAN choose one
Credit your sources and inspiration. Politeness and usefulness,  Common sense and transparency
Blagger v blogger- Natalie Lue: fine but ask nicely and be prepared to come up with your stats etc.
Emily: introduce yourself even without asking fir anything. Create a relationship. Will get better opportunities too with being creative.

#shareniger to share their stories- child brides etc

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Partidos Eurocopa 2012

Por las mamitas que quieren saber cuando son los partidos del Eurocopa 2012 Aquí están!

Polonia - Grecia. Viernes 8 de junio, 18.00 horas. Cuatro.

Rusia - R.Checa. Viernes 8 de junio, 20.45 horas. Telecinco.

Holanda - Dinamarca. Sábado 9 de junio, 18.00 horas. Telecinco.

Alemania - Portugal. Sábado 9 de junio, 20:45 horas. Cuatro.

España - Italia. Domingo 10 de junio, 18:00 horas. Telecinco.

Irlanda - Croacia. Domingo 10 de junio, 20:45 horas. Cuatro.

Francia - Inglaterra. Lunes 11 de junio, 18:00 horas. Cuatro.

Ucrania - Suecia. Lunes 11 de junio, 20:45. Telecinco.

Grecia - R.Checa. Martes 12 de junio, 18:00. Cuatro.

Polonia - Rusia. Martes 12 de junio, 20:45. Telecinco.

Dinamarca - Portugal. Miércoles 13 de junio, 18:00 horas. Cuatro.

Holanda - Alemania. Miércoles 13 de junio, 20:45 horas. Telecinco.

Italia - Croacia. Jueves 14 de junio, 18:00 horas. Cuatro.

España - Irlanda. Jueves 14 de junio, 20:45 horas. Telecinco.

Ucrania - Francia. Viernes 15 de junio, 18:00 horas. Cuatro

Suecia - Inglaterra. Jueves 15 de junio, 20:45 horas. Telecinco.

Grecia - Rusia. Sábado 16 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

R.Checa - Polonia. Sábado 16 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Portugal - Holanda. Domingo 17 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Dinamarca - Alemania. Domingo 17 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Croacia - España. Lunes 18 de junio, 20:45 horas. Telecinco.

Italia - Irlanda. Lunes 18 de junio, 20:45 horas. Cuatro.

Suecia - Francia. Martes 19 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Inglaterra - Ucrania. Martes 19 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Cuartos de Final A (1º Grupo A - 2º Grupo B). Jueves 21 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Cuartos de Final B (1º Grupo B - 2º Grupo A). Viernes 22 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Cuartos de Final C (1º Grupo C - 2º Grupo D). Sábado 23 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Cuartos de Final D (1º Grupo D - 2º Grupo C). Domingo 24 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Semifinal 1 (Ganadores cuartos de final A y C). Miércoles 27 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Semifinal 2 (Ganadores cuartos de final B y D). Jueves 28 de junio, 20:45 horas. Canal por determinar.

Final (Ganadores semifinales 1 y 2). Domingo 1 de julio, 20:45 horas. Telecinco.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Calle de San Bernardo,Madrid,Spain

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Queen Elizabeth Diamond jubilee

1952: At 25 years old, Elizabeth's father died and she became Queen to travel the world and look after Britain. 60 years on and I realise I don't know much about her life.

I love these pictures from her first commonwealth tour, through 1950s and 1960s. There's a brilliant timeline on the official jubilee website.

Not many street parties going on here in Madrid so have invited some people over for a jubilee inspired coffee morning next week!

*All images from aforementioned website licensed to press association- do I need to ask to use these...? Should have attended the Cybher session on legalities and images*

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Cybher meet and great

Irk, my man joked that I would not be allowed in to Cybher as haven't been very Cyber lately- this is true- I've felt completely deplugged- but now with Elias the 3 month old sleeping on his own at night and my Leon at la guarderia 5 mornings a week thus not demanding the iPad every time I use it, I can hit the Cyber waters once again. I've felt not able to spend time on online things which is a shame, but am focusing more on my physical space as just moved house to SPAIN. It's time to Cyberize once more.

Bla blah blah

This is me

Name: Maria
Twitter ID: @Mariahalse
Height: 5ft 6/7ish? - Too tall for heels - sniff ;,(
Hair: Dark brown with fringe - piled into a big bun

5 things you should know about me
1. I have just settled into our new home in central Madrid with 2 babies but miss lush SW London
2. I would have loved to have been in a rock band playing badass bass but it never happened
3. My patience surprises me: I marvel at my 2 year old singing the Circle of Life at top volume on repeat.
4. I love traipsing Le Marais for €10 vintage dresses and big piles of 2nd hand tat in flea markets for hidden treasures!
5. I desperately miss night time dancing but don't do anything about it. Yet

Hope to meet some more fab bloggers on Saturday! See you then and do say hi - I'll have a baby strapped to me. (And if you're going to Cybher make sure you check out some other meet & greets here!)

ShopStyle review

Shopstyle is a super massive clothes shopping search engine that makes it easy to save favourite items, put together looks using a special widget and receive personalised sale alerts for your favourite stores or products.

The iPad app is brill and quickly became my nighttime feeding app of choice, allowing me to swish swish swish through rails of clothes and hearting those I like and may consider buying when I have a flatter stomach... and plenty of cash!

You can search by keywords and filter for size, price or store allowing you to discover new brands and dream of beautiful dresses floating into your inbox as a sale alert.

Some of my favourites on the Shop Style iPad app (all the affordable items are sold out!)
Topshop, Office, Miu Miu... beautiful clothes and shoes all around, though it lacks some of our favourites such as H&M, Zara, American Apparel, Polarn O Pyret... I was informed that these stores have very limited, protected online shopping.

On the ShopStyle website their Stylebook widget is lots of fun to play with (I found it difficult to enlarge and choose products on the iPad but it was still doable) and can create looks that you can save and share.

Putting together a Springtime look on the ShopStyle website 
It's also fun to browse other people's 'looks' that they've created and rate them with 1, 2 or 3 stars! 

Browse through other people's looks using ShopStyle found products

I purchased a few bits for Leon including a coat from Peacocks- I've never bought anything there before but I saw a duffel coat for £15 and I thought it was a bargain! (This was in November...) The app took me to the retailer's website and paying was easy - the product arrived within a couple of days- super speedy. I must admit I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the coat and the material felt more like a thick jumper- the sizing was also a bit off- 2 reasons why I'm not an avid online shopper- BUT I didn't return it and it's been worn to death so all in all a very good purchase!

It's a brilliant app but I'd like to see more ways to personalise the shopping experience for example having a few favourite stores instead of having to scroll through the extensive list of stores. There are many brands and stores I haven't heard of so am discovering a few gems. I'd rather save those I like in a separate stream allowing easier viewing for next time!

**Warning: ShopStyle will make you want to go back to work to earn lots of dollar to pay for beautiful clothes**

Thursday, 3 May 2012


We've been in our new home, Madrid for over a month now and have enjoyed visiting the city but have mainly been doing this:

Feeding the baby

Sampling the local produce

Bathing the babies

Feeding the baby


Walking the streets in the sunshine

And the odd bit of tourism - here, the impressive Plaza Mayor

Life is good, Leon's just started nursery (he loves it) giving me more time to spend with little Elias and getting stuff done. We've been away for a few weeks visiting family in Paris & back home in London (also for blogging event Cybher!) but looking forward to spending more time on my blog :D

Friday, 27 April 2012

Going potty part 1 : Bambino Mio Potty Training Kit review

Finally! Wanting to wait until our move to start properly potty training I can't put it off any longer: Leon seems ready, we now have wipe clean wooden floors, some sunshine, a sprinkling of potties dotted around the house and a Potty Training starter kit from Bambino Mio!

This kit helps with encouraging toddlers to feel relaxed and comfortable with the lightweight potty by owning it with decorative stickers they can receive as a reward. Included are two fabulous reusable training pants and a potty training guide to make the experience as stress-free as possible.

Bambino Mio Potty Training Kit £14.99

The guide points out several things to look out for to determine if your child is ready to start potty training which Leon does adhere to, however it suggests waiting if you've recently had a new baby, moved house or child has started nursery. Despite ticking all 3 of these boxes, we're determined to push on! Leon's playschool actively encourage it by seating the tots on potties around the table while they play and he's now shown more of an interest in toilets so I'm aware it may take slightly longer. I'm going to follow the guide's advice on sitting him on the potty at regular intervals during the day to see what happens. At the moment, he likes to sit on it but is careful as it moves around a bit and his long legs makes him a bit wobbly.

I wasn't keen on the idea of bringing the potty to the living room but can see the sense in it and don't have to rush anywhere if he asks for the potty (not that it's happened yet!). Now we have 3 potties and a little toilet seat (though not ready for that yet!). I found the tips of how to make the toilet area more appealing very useful, suggesting adding pictures, books, or a cuddly toy - but the reward stickers were the biggest hit. I've saved some for 'rewards' for when he actually does something in the potty - but as there were 2 sheets of them and Leon loves stickers, I let him use them to decorate it. And he's very proud of his potty, showing it off to people if they come over!

Leon decorating his Bambino Mio potty

In the kit are two toddler training pants which are soft and padded, making them very comfortable and easily washable and line dry well (although they take a bit longer to dry than normal pants due to the extra absorbency - and getting it off him after a poo is a bit gross). This week I've changed him into his pants when at home for short periods, eg. late afternoon until bedtime and he's getting more comfortable with that. This doesn't mean he's necessarily dry for those periods but now I've got to work on him telling me it's time to wee. I ask him regularly if he needs to go, but he doesn't take to the idea of going to the potty and will wait until he has a nappy on.

However he's now used to me asking him if he'd like to use the potty and that it's OK if he says no.

I'm looking forward to seeing this through and getting used to mopping the floor and doing extra loads but it's amazing how grown up he is already and accepting that he'll soon be out of nappies is the end of babydom. He's a little boy, growing so fast - he's enjoyed his first week of playschool (5 mornings!) and it's oh so exciting to see Elias in my arms and imagining the journey he's going to have with Leon's two years being so incredible already. 

Elias in his Bambino Mio nappy
Elias is joining in on the Bambino Mio action too with his washable nappies I snapped up at Mothercare for £30 (reduced from £100!) that I'll mention later.

Reusable nappies are also though to to make potty training quicker as children are used to the sensation of feeling wetness.

I'll keep you informed with the rest of our potty training adventure as it progresses!

I was sent the Bambino Mio Potty Training kit for this review but I highly recommend their products and you can find out more about their range on and follow them on Twitter @BambinoMio

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Sleeping heck

Oh dear, I didn't mean to leave more than two months between posts... Time has whizzed past, though honestly, I've enjoyed abandoning the online world a little bit, but it wasn't completely intentional. Packing up home and setting it up again, while getting to know life in the centre of a new, busy city- and living it up with my new baby who doesn't seem to like going off to sleep at night... Oh yes, I'd somehow forgotten that side of babies. Now at 2 months, I've lost a lot of my maternal patience and just wish he'd sleep nicely without me lying next to him giving him more and more boob. (Tonight the magic grandma who's over visiting managed to calm him down and he's now sleeping phew!) Leon has quickly adapted to Spanish life and is sleeping after 9pm and has 2 hour siestas during the day (which I often try to join with!) but his toddler energies, running around screaming, roaring, playing, can rile Elias no end and I'm sure this has made baby bedtime harder. Bath days are better and they're so sweet together in the bath and sleep quicker. Fortunately Leon is happy with his big boy bed and his new room, despite it being far from ours separated by a long corridor. However I can be sure to hear the pitter patter of his feet running to our bed at dawn and then a squish of 4 in a bed until it's time to get up.

I'd written about my post birth experiences - but then deemed the posts too long and boring to publish. In a way it shouldn't matter as this is a record of my journey but maybe some things should be kept to ourselves?
In a nutshell, the first few weeks weren't too bad - Elias slept a lot, Leon played mostly with his dad so was very happy, I had good support and felt well despite the feeding becoming a pain, and perhaps pushed myself a bit too much getting out and about early on thinking 'I can do it', neglecting the fact my body had been through childbirth. I eventually felt rather shitty a week after. I had major nipple pain (he even drew blood!), I didn't think I felt tired but my emotions took a hold of me and I got upset about my dad not being around to see his second grandchild.

I also felt frustrated that I didn't exactly know what to do - I was probably expecting to be a pro at babies having had one already... but it was tough. One breastfeeding expert paid me a visit and gave me about a hundred 'tips' to increase my milk flow as by "2 weeks post birth you'll be stuck with what you get and theres no going back." Uhuh.... I know she was trying to help but I didn't feel there was a problem with my milk flow and she just made me feel crap. She even suggested I have 8 showers a day, BEFORE every feed, pump AFTER every feed, have 4-5 hours of skin to skin a day, and wake up baby if it's been more than 3 hours since last feed... Errr yeah right.

Then we packed up home and moved to Madrid, and I plan to give some tips in another post, but for now I'll be happy to just press publish. Phew.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

He's here! Elias' Birth Story

Last Wednesday afternoon at 40wks+4days I felt rather low about the baby not coming on time. I felt tired, heavy and worried it was putting on lots of weight (last baby was 9lbs 9oz!) plus everyone was asking hubby if he'd come yet: his colleagues, his family- all french babies come on time apparently so didn't understand why ours was late! Also, it seems silly, but the later the baby came, the later my OH could go to Madrid and choose our flat  and then it would all be a rush to be there at the beggining on March... Oh silly. I would have been happy to wait had it not been for others annoying me but it was getting loooong. I didn't want a membrance sweep or to be induced so tried many things but in the end it was the membrane sweep that afternoon that got things going ;)

Wednesday evening we were flicking between 3 football matches and I was actually enjoying watching all of them - resting my chin on my folded arms on the footstall with my knees on the floor swinging my (imaginary) tail side to side to take off the heaviness. I started feeling a few contractions and cooly decided I was in labour - they were regular, lasting a minute and were getting stronger! We had a moment and got snuggly. Hubby prepped himself for back massage duty like last time - but there was no need, I had no back pain whatsoever! The baby must have been differently placed and not touching my back as much. I didn't touch the Tens machine my friend had leant me. First stage was eeeeeasy ;) At midnight we called the hospital  to let them know we'd be heading in soon - (or politely explained timings and wait for them to invite us in) and called my mum to give us a lift. Leon had woken up with me stuffing things into my hospital bag (it was ready! Just lacked some socks, clothes, cereal bars and dried apricots, toiletries and makeup - don't forget your toothbrush...). He was a bit bemused and we plonked him on the sofa while we put our shoes on and managed to finish watching Run Fat Boy Run! to the end.

The 15 minute car ride was OK (no swearing and screaming like last time...) but I suddendly felt sick and asked to stop as I didn't want to be sick in my mum's hat (the only thing to hand) but nothing came up. In the examination room I managed to chuck up 2 bowls full and felt much better for it - I was also 6cm dilated so knew there wasn't too long to go. The pain was getting stronger with each contraction too. While waiting to know what room I was going to be in I perched on a big birthing ball and that helped chill me out a bit and was extremely comfortable. I was in the midwifery led Malden Suite at Kingston Hospital which encourages an active birth and use of natural coping mechanisms during labour. The light was dim, the midwife was young but I recognised her from Leon's birth which was comforting, and I was immediately drawn to the birthing ball - the midwife brought over a big cushioned mat which she covered with sheets to go under the ball- and I got down, like at home, on my knees with my arms and head supported on the ball with hubby behind it. I grabbed the gas and air immediately, and got comfortable.

The pain was already really strong and through each contraction I found myself yelling and forcing hubby to yell louder than me, it felt really primal - very different to last time. Although I felt slightly more in control, I needed to hear the midwife reassure me with what was going to happen next, and I remember I kept asking her lots of questions - especially towards the end and "are you going to cut me?!" (luckily she didn't need to yay!) but I felt rather lame with the pushing. The waters had broken at 1.50am with a pop and a woosh of water which was quite cool and the midwife said I could get the baby out by 2am! This wasn't the case and I had a lot of pushing to do. I think I was scared to push which is silly, and towards the end I had to give myself a mini pep talk as I wasn't pushing hard enough and the other two weren't shouting at me to push harder (they were too lovely!) and I totally needed that kick. Though it hurt A LOT and I felt sleepy and each contraction I shouted at Jason to yell (like a roaring caveman) "LOUDER!!!" but at the height of the contraction I'd get him to stop as I wanted silence to push. I could feel the baby come down but then go back up again as I wasn't pushing hard enough. It was an amazing feeling and I don't think I noticed it as much last time. I think my positioning helped as I could feel the baby passing down through me.

The final couple of pushes I just demanded silence and didn't even breathe in the etinox - I was just connecting with the baby and thinking of my muscles and the breathing pushing the baby out alone - and then pushed freaking hard and felt him pass right down and out and OHMYGOD!!! What an incredible sensation. I looked down and saw my beautiful new creature covered in slime and blood, a sign of our toils, and just massaged his little body. My man counted his digits and pronounced him perfect, snipped the cord and I asked him to carry him as I just wanted the placenta to be outta there!

I couldn't stop thinking how amazing it all was and felt like I was on another level, in another zone- like something took over my body at the end and allowed me to just experience what was happening without having to do anything as my baby found his way out to enter the real world.

So, weighing in at 8lbs11oz, born at 2.57am on Thursday 26th January 2012 I present you: Elias Stanley, my new bundle of joy :)

Elias Stanley

Isn't he gorgeous?

Bump 40 weeks pregnant

40 weeks pregnant

Due date's been and gone and I've done many things to encourage the onset of this baby's birth:

Pineapple and curries - though abandoned when I realised it would take at least 7 pineapples to make the slightest difference and my stomach wouldn't appreciate too many curries. Several tweeps also advised against the idea and suggested acupuncture instead. I pressed my thumbs for 3 minutes in hope of a twinge and then got bored. Will look up a local acupuncturist or ask my reflexology friend for mates rates. She has a 50% success rate for birth induction through reflexology but costs £45 a sesh... I've cleaned the flat again, and again and been keeping active mainly running after Leon and jumping around with him to the tune of Hop Little Bunny. My man's been doing his bit too by giving me a fair amount of prostaglandins..

Now baby. Where are you?!

*er... this was meant to be posted on Sat 21st Jan ;)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

I have a two year old

Since the 5th of January I've been getting to grips with living with my two year old.

Two years old

The past year has been a complete metamorphosis of my little lad growing from a commando crawling not yet one year old, to a running, football-playing, talking, funny, clever little boy. It's amazing to think that the transformation has only happened over one year, from all-fours crawling on his 1st birthday, finally walking at 14 months, then the words started happening. He's really coming on with his talking- so much that he's developed his own language- a mixed up version of English, French and Spanish which is quite cute. He continues to surprise me and can even count to 10. I am amazed at his intelligence! He's at ease on an aeroplane and was lucky to have several holidays this year. He's usually a fab eater, loves playing with his cars, trains, buses and has discovered the telly and the iPad... He also underwent his first hospital operation- ridding him of his Tongue tie, and most importantly- is soon to be a big brother. (Little bro is due TODAY.)

However, his increased communication has empowered him tremendously and he expects to be right, to be answered to, to be heard in his own way- on his terms. It's tiring to hear his whining or see his throwing things and although I feel as though I'm firm, but fair - it's tough and I often give in to his demands. Or conversely, get angry, shout and distance myself from him! I think we need to get out earlier in the morning when all is still peachy and get him to run off that energy before it turns...

When at home he often plays nicely by himself, but it isn't always the case. I enjoy getting down to play with him of course, but I can't the whole time. I'm tired, don't have as much energy as usual and feel he should be able to play on his own and be independent. If I leave him mini challenges, be it a puzzle, his blocks, or tidying away- he can get on with it very well. I think I need to find more ideas for games and tasks to really fulfill him as he just seems, well bored. I love the Montessori ideology of independent learning to help him help himself but I'm not putting enough effort into it.

If he complains, I try to distract him with a game, or offer to read a book... Shamefully, the main bribery that works recently, are the magic words "Shall we watch Fireman Sam?". I know. But I don't do it often. Usually it's him that asks me - and he's so sweet when he does I can hardly say no... Yesterday we had a telly free day and it was brilliant. I feel we're turning over a new leaf and he accepts when I say no, or switch off the telly after one episode. I feel I'm back in charge once again. Slowly.

He's going to the childminder's once a week again (treat from OH) and loves it. I do too and can get on with stuff without interruptions -as bad as it sounds- but it's beneficial for us both. He plays all day and hangs out with different people. When I pick him up again we're both so happy and play together nicely.

At night, he's recently had trouble sleeping on his own, insisting we "sit down!" while he drops off. If he wakes at night he calls out to us and won't cry himself to sleep as he used to. He's stronger, more resilient and doesn't really cry, more yell "MamiTAAAAA!!". We get up and sit by him and sneak off when he's nodded off again. Then if it's past 6, we just bring him into bed with us.

Oh, I don't mean to ramble and reading back it sounds like he's tough but it's just the hard parts that stick in my mind! He's a great kid, and we have lots of fun. It's lovely to see him playing with his little friends and follow how their relationships grow (while I can kick back with the other mummies) and I love how we can have conversations with him, figure out what he's trying to communicate, yet we still underestimate him. He's very sensitive and I'm eager to see how he'll react to the new arrival.

*                 *                 *

Prep for train cake
For his birthday, we enjoyed two mini celebrations: one at playgroup and one at the pub! Check out how easy it is to make a fun train cake:

I followed Stork margarine's Victoria sponge recipe they had at the back of the tub (8oz sugar, 8oz margarine, 8oz flour, 1tsp baking powder, 3eggs, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 180C for 25mins), let the cake cool slightly, cut into four and added jam in the middle. I arranged the carriages on a board and cut bits off to form the 'engine'.

Once it looked kind of train-like I covered it with icing, sweets, animals and painted tracks. Et voila a crazy train cake!

Crazy train cake

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Bump 38 weeks pregnant! Fears, names and belly cast

38 weeks! I'm almost at the end of my second pregnancy and have slowed down a lot. I feel heavy, tired and a responsibility to Leon to avoid labouring too early: I'm due on the 21st Jan and Leon's birthday was 5th Jan so it wouldn't be fair to him to have his little brother's birthday in the same week, right? I've been staying local, not doing as much housework, not walking as far, being strict with foods and avoiding sex :S

I felt the baby drop around Christmas time and yesterday at my check up the GP couldn't feel the head so sent me for a positioning scan- thankfully the baby does have a head and it's pointing south and ready to go! I'm very excited and nervous at the same time. He's still moving a lot and I feel a lot of pressure low down- I feel he could come at any moment! 

We're still stuck for baby names, though I think it's mainly me vetoing all suggestions crossing them off as too boring, too girly, don't sound right in English, not strong enough... We have a few OK names on the list, but I'd like something brilliant! I love Zorro, Zoltan and Danté, but Diego and Joseph are pushing past as they're 'safer'. I'm waiting for the inspiration but may have to settle on a nice name soon... Or a least a feasible short list and pick one when we see him. Eek I can't believe he'll be coming so soon!

38 weeks pregnant Jan 2012

We cast my bump last night- very fun! I bought a 15cmx14m roll of Mod Roc £7.99 from a local art shop (as opposed to £25 'bump cast' kits) and it was very easy! I cut the roll into shorter strips (approx 30cm), gave husband a large bowl of warm water, lay down a load of newspaper on the living room floor, donned some old knickers then slathered on some stretch mark oil I had a lot of (you can use Vaseline, baby oil etc) and knelt on the floor with my arms above my head (to appear perky!).

There were no instructions but I figured it was basically soaking the bandages in water. A quick look on the Modroc website explained nicely that the warmer the water, the quicker the setting time - it should take 2-4 minutes to dry- super quick! It took hubby 20 minutes roughly to complete the job (start up high then work your way down) and I could feel it drying and pulling away from my body.

**NB. Make sure your plasterer squeezes out the excess water or you'll find it takes too long to dry AND mix a smaller bowl of PVA glue and water 50/50 mix and paint on a final coat inside and out to avoid a crumbly effect**

Et voila! I was happy with the result and pleased to have a memento of what could be my last pregnancy. Though- according to other half- it won't be as we'll have eight kids... Errr yeah right!

38 weeks pregnant bump cast

Now, I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to paint it, or where it'll go- but it was lots of fun and I can always whip it out to remember the pregnant feeling...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Smartipants Birth to Potty Reusable Nappy Review

I was a wuss and didn't use washable nappies with Leon, but I'd like to use reusable nappies for my next baby that will last the whole nappy-wearing period to save money and reduce landfill waste. The average baby uses 7,000 disposable nappies plus the nappy sacks - and think of the production, and transportation costs to the environment (yes it costs suppliers too, but they make a helluva lot back ;). An alternative to this horror is to use 24 one size reusable nappies costing over £200 initially but overall it will save you £1,300 per child. Not bad.

My mission is two-fold as I'm still on the hunt for the perfect nappy for Leon (almost 2 years old but slowly starting potty training), and I wish to use reusables from day one for baby #2 when he arrives this month. The one size fits all concept fits in nicely as I can use them for both babies and don't have to change to a bigger size as he grows.

We tried Smartipants "The World's Smartest one size fits all reusable diaper" (was a given a sample at the Baby Trade show) which is a pocket nappy, and have used it successfully several times during the day while at home- avoiding carrying a wet/soiled nappy when out and about (wet bags are the solution!).

How to use it
You place the soft insert into the opening and then snap the nappy using the adjustable poppers. It's easy to adjust and snap the poppers. With Leon, who's just turned 2 and is rather tall, I used the last two poppers. It's easy to determine the correct fit by checking it's snug but not too tight around the thighs. The nappy fits him really well and are like big comfortable pants rather than papery/plastic disposables.

It's worth knowing that :  'Babies change shape frequently as they grow up. You may have times when your relatively young baby is using their one-size diapers on the largest setting. The same child may be on the medium setting several months later due to increased mobility.'

A tip for overnight use is to stuff the nappy with two inserts and set the nappy to be one size larger than for daytime use (the equivalent of adding a booster sanitary pad style layer to nappies). I'd need to do this as Leon is out-weeing a variety of nappies, but I can't set it any bigger so am unable to :(

When it needs changing, just take it off and whip it in the laundry basket! Or a wet bag until you have enough to wash. (I discovered I already had a couple of wet bags from a Bounty pack last time- so they do come in useful ;) I washed at 30 with non-bio liquitabs and they came out well and hung them out to dry. They were done within a few hours. Though now it's colder I've sped up the last bit of drying on the radiators. It's very easy and are still soft after a few washes. NB. There was a slight wee smell when sniffing the clean nappy insert, so I think they should be washed at 40 but it doesn't bother me too much so I just carry on at 30- hope thats not disgusting.

I've only tried the one nappy in between disposables at home, and it doesn't come up often as I don't do laundry every day so I'd be happy to purchase more or put on wish list for baby or even Leon (he's over 15kg and they still fit him).

Cool Factor?
It's a nappy - but we know how these have been jazzed up by many brands. The Smartipants range is very basic but they have a large choice of bright colours. You can see that they aren't as high-end as some of the other brands. Aesthetically, the one size fits all nappy means you see all the poppers when your baby gets older, but its not ugly and the colours are cool.

In a nutshell, they are practical, fast-drying, comfortable, easy to use and durable and I'll definitely be putting these on my baby #2 wishlist. They cost £13.50 each (less than other similar nappies) and are cheaper if you buy in bulk.

And those 2 extra laundry loads per week uses about the same amount of water as a few daily flushes. So try not to flush as often (if it's yellow let it mellow and all...) be careful with other water usage and over all it's better for the environment!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Books for Big brother to be!

My sister works in an independent childrens bookshop and is a literatury genius in my eyes. She recommended the first of these three books for explaining a new baby in family and I'm on a hunt for some more!

There's a House inside my Mummy did not strike me as a good title at first, but I'm pleased I took it out of the library as it's so beautifully written and illustrated with a gentle feel that encapsulates how a toddler feels on understanding how there is a baby in his mummy's tummy. I like how it was written by a dad, Giles Andreae, when imagining how his 2 year old son was thinking. TBH I'm a bit bored of it now as Leon insisted on reading it so often, but I love that he loved it and could relate to the little boy in the book.

We also borrowed There's going to be a baby (John Burningham & Helen Oxenbury) with fabulous illustrations of daily life of a pregnant mother and her son through the seasons. This one goes a bit further with the child imagining how the new baby will be in the future and all the questions he asks his mother. It's a bit longer and I edit the text when reading it aloud to Leon, but think it's beautifully illustrated and interesting to understand an older toddler's point of view.

Although there's no older sibling in The Story of the Nativity this beautiful book (Anna Milbourne & Alessandra Roberti), a gift from my mother, was read a lot in the run up to Christmas and shows a pregnant Mary and then sweet baby Jesus spelling it all nicely out for my toddler. He always points out 'daddy' as the Joseph illustration does resemble my man quite a bit!

Baby in her tummy
Baby out of tummy

So, with those books, seeing other real young babies, and listening to my explanations, I think he now understands what will be coming next. I hope he accepts his little brother when he comes, and understands that he's here to stay and that I love him just as much.

I find I'm making the most of our last few weeks/days together before we're joined by the new baby and cherishing our 2 years we've had already. It will be a lot to grasp- someone mentioned an awful analogy: it's as if your husband brings home another woman and everyone says how beautiful and lovely she is and you're expected to live with it. I hope that Leon doesn't feel sidelined but that he learns to share our time and love his new sibling.

If you have any tips to share for introducing a newborn to a just turned 2 year old please let me know!