babyGAP Disney Baby Dumbo Collection

In between doing crazy, frenzied bursts of work (obviously my version of nesting, as I’ve mentioned!), I have been spending quite a bit of time browsing clothes online for Angelica. And in-store, if I’ve been out and about, but in truth I’ve not been getting around much – I need a wee every twenty seconds, so it’s much easier to stay at home and send my husband on food and shopping missions!

Anyway, one of my cute discoveries of the month: the Baby Dumbo collection at GAP. It’s absolutely exquisite. Though I do make it sound as though I discovered it myself: I didn’t. GAP very kindly sent me the dress shown in the pictures, but I went online to hunt down the rest of the line and it’s so sweet – gorgeous cartoon drawings, but also clever little touches like the circus tent skirt on the dress I’ve shown and elsewhere in the collection, a “ringmaster” style cropped jacket and elephant foot slip-on shoes.

babyGAP Disney Baby Dumbo Collection

It’s all fun but in a muted, understated sort of way. Take the one-piece below:

baby gap dumbo one piece romper

I’m in love. I’m not keen on many Disney collaborations, mainly because they tend to feature those irritating doe-eyed girls from Frozen*, but when brands draw upon archived sketches and original artwork for inspiration I think that it can work really well. This range has been brilliantly thought-out and I’m pleased to see that they’ve actually got quite good stock in most items – with limited edition collections it can be frustrating how quickly things sell out.

You can find the entire GAP x Disney Dumbo collection online here.

*I know that Frozen is ridiculously popular, and that I must be the only person who can’t stand it, so do forgive me. I bow down to general consensus!

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waiting for overdue baby

I’m not sleeping very well at the moment (I’ve just done five hours, but most of it spent tossing and turning and dreaming that I was in labour, which wasn’t very restful!) and so I’m glued to my laptop, most mornings, working through the huge list of posts that I wanted to get done before New Baby makes an appearance.

This pregnancy feels so different to the last; perhaps because we have a home to live in and I feel ready for the baby to arrive. With Angelica, who was an overdue baby by 12 days, we were consumed with all of the business of having our house renovated, and it was only when I passed the forty week mark that I started to get impatient.

overdue baby blog

And that was only really because everyone else did. Goodness me! People texting constantly asking whether the “baby had arrived yet” and “bet you’re sick of waiting now” and “any day! How exciting!” I was in no rush for Angelica to appear, before then – we’d waited six years for her, the world’s biggest test of patience, it wasn’t as though a few more days were going to make any difference.

But this time I’m a little more ready – the hospital is three minutes away rather than an hour (I was so nervy about going into labour with Angelica, stuck out in our little holiday barn with hardly any phone reception!), we have people we can call on to come and help if we need it (our wonderful two-days nanny lives up the road!) and I have endless supplies of muslin cloths and babygrows and cereal bars (for me) and chests of drawers to store everything in and a big comfy bed to lie in and a television in my bedroom. Coming home with this baby will be like staying at the Ritz compared to the situation with Angelica!

overdue baby blog

Angelica was born on the 17th June, 2015. She was due, I think, on the 5th. It started off as being the 10th, but then she was big on the scan (surprise!) and they adjusted the due date. When I was 38 weeks pregnant (same stage as I am now, writing this) we moved from our tiny holiday let in Hertfordshire, with its constantly breaking-down kitchen appliances, to a tiny holiday let in the middle of nowhere, somewhere near to Cambridgeshire.

I can’t quite believe it now, what we were doing – going from place to place, constantly whittling down our belongings so that by the time we arrived in our rural abode we just had a couple of suitcases, some plastic boxes filled with non-perishable groceries (tins, condiments, cooking oils) and my huge iMac computer screen. And as we were moving about, our actual home was a building site with huge invoices to be paid and problem after problem to be dealt with. The stress of it. No wonder I didn’t have time to think about a baby coming along!

overdue baby blog

I think, now, that I was in total denial. It had taken so long to conceive, and I was so absolutely gobsmacked to even be pregnant and to hold on to the pregnancy, that I couldn’t think beyond pregnancy. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to hold a tiny baby, or to breastfeed, or to have this warm little form sleeping next to me. I don’t think I felt particularly uncomfortable, either – even at the end of the pregnancy, and I was huge. Because Angelica was breech, she didn’t press down on my bladder (and other parts!) the way this baby does and so I was speed-walking daily up until the day that my waters broke. Not really waddling, either – striding.

overdue baby blog

We would walk out from our little barn in the middle of nowhere, and it was so sunny for the weeks leading up to the birth, and we would walk Dexter around the fields and down into the woods, and then back in a circuit past a hidden research centre, which we liked to imagine housed zombie experiments and up a steepish hill which always got my pulse going! I remember the precise moment that I thought of Angelica’s name – Dexter was getting shouted at for eating sheep poo and the name Angelica Rae just popped into my head, fully-formed, and felt completely right. We didn’t know we were having a girl – we were absolutely sure she was a boy, and everyone we knew also thought she would be a boy. When they called out “it’s a girl” in theatre, it was the best surprise of my life. I was so stunned when she let out a cry, and she was across the room and she had come from me, this other thing that was all mine. Apparently I made the strangest noise, like an animal.

overdue baby blog

But before that we walked and walked; husband, me, Dexter, in the sun, waiting for Angelica. 38 weeks was soon 40 weeks, and still I was in no rush – I couldn’t understand the hurry that other people were in for my baby to arrive. I was still working, right up until the day before she was born – I think I made a brand video for a client about four days before she came, though it was never used because the light in the barn was so low and also I forgot to plug the microphone into the camera!

The barn was a tiny converted animal barn, I think – so tiny it felt like more of a caravan than a house. Rickety and dated, but very charming as it was surrounded with the most colourful, well-stocked gardens, and there was a duck pond behind it with geese and ducks. There was a minute little living room area, with two two-seater sofas facing one another, but neither actually facing the small tv set. So we would have one each (Dexter on my husband’s lap) and lie on them full-length, propped up with cushions and our feet at the other end resting on occasional tables, and we’d watch hours of television to pass the time. If we weren’t walking, or at Tesco (we went to Tesco a lot – I ate a lot!) or visiting the building site that was our home, or having antenatal appointments.

overdue baby blog

After a while, overdue baby waiting game did get to me. Mainly, I suspect, because everyone was scaring me about letting babies go too much overdue, but also because we had to move house again when I would be exactly 42 weeks pregnant. So we were faced with this crazy dilemma as the days went on – I didn’t want to be induced, was adamant not to be, in fact, but at this rate we’d be packing up the car and moving back to Hertfordshire with me actually – one way or another – having the baby. I made efforts to get things going “downstairs”. One day I ate a whole pineapple (I think I was 41 weeks – the post is here) and it almost took the lining of my mouth away. Twice I had sweep. I’m pretty sure I forced some terrible, ridiculous sex upon my husband. I ate curry. We walked fast – I ran up a hill.

vbac vs planned section

And finally, 11 days over, my waters broke and the whole birthing rigmarole began. You can read that story here. I’ve rambled in this post, but waiting for New Baby to come brings back so many memories. I think that this time round it’s more exciting, because I know what to expect and how utterly, incomprehensibly amazing it is to hold a baby and for it to be all yours. I can almost smell this baby. I haven’t spoken to him/her, not once (we’ve been communicating telepathically and anyway, I always felt silly talking to my tummy) but we are connected. There’s a baby-shaped little nest waiting for it in our family and I’m ready to see what it looks like and see the first smile and all of those wonderful things all over again.

overdue baby blog

Last time I was Waiting for Angelica, this time – who am I waiting for? Who will this baby turn out to be I wonder?

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heavily pregnant blog

Being really, really pregnant is quite a singular feeling and, even though it hasn’t been so long since I was heavily pregnant with Angelica, it’s amazing how quickly your mind and body completely forget the sensation. So I thought I’d jot down some of the more beautiful and downright bizarre things that happen when you’re right at the end of your pregnancy. I’m supposing (as with the rest of pregnancy) that different people get different symptoms – in fact, I have even felt quite big differences between this pregnancy and the last. Though I’d put a lot of that down to the fact that Angelica was breech and I carried her in a totally different way….

Here are the things about being heavily pregnant that I’d like to remember.

  1. Some days you feel as though your bump isn’t as big as it was the month before. I know I’m not alone in this – a few people have mentioned it. Maybe it’s because you just get very used to your size, or maybe it’s when the baby “drops down” and so more of it is “hidden” rather than “in the bump”. I dunno, but it’s disconcerting in an oh my God is the baby shrinking? kind of way.
  2. Once the baby’s head is right down in your pelvis, you lose almost all control over your bladder at very inconvenient times. Like weird, shooting sensations or strong squeezes where it feels like someone has simply crushed your entire bladder in their fist. OK, so I haven’t actually done a wee in my pants – yet – but I’ve been really close. I didn’t have this in my last pregnancy at all, again because Angelica was breech.
  3. On the subject of baby head and pelvis, what’s with the electric shocks that happen in your groin area? And in the  Tunnel of Great Intimacy? One minute you’re walking along in a perfectly normal waddle, the next it feels as though the ligaments that connect your legs to your hips (or whatever) have been suddenly snipped in half. And don’t get me started on the “shocks in the vag” occurrences.
  4. Rather than the baby being this anonymous being that floats in a huge bubble of liquid, it becomes a little person that you can touch and feel as it squirms and churns around with its little legs and arms poking out all over the place. Rather than having a big beach ball on your front, it feels more as though you have a baby on your front, carried in a fleshy sack. (UGH UGH UGH. Sorry.) There’s less padding, more baby.
  5. When your bump drops, you realise how heavy it is. When you walk up the stairs, the tops of your thighs push against it. When you sit down, the baby sits on your lap. You become a huffing, puffing tank-like thing that has to grab onto the bannister in order to safely climb the stairs, and don’t even talk about getting off the floor if you’ve been changing a nappy/cleaning up dog sick/trying to find a dropped hair grip before the toddler tries to eat it. The bump is heavy, though it seems to vary in weight from one day to the next – some days it feels lighter, sort of compact and tight to the body (it’s trending more and more this way) but others it feels less wieldy, a big bulky, swinging lump that should probably have its own scaffolding support system.

heavily pregnant 38 weeks

Weirdly, on some days I wake up totally elated and full of energy and I virtually sprint down the stairs to go and get the toddler’s milk. It worries me – I think to myself, why do I feel this good? What’s wrong? But no fear: by the time I’ve heated the milk and let the dog out and filled up the dog food bowl and the cat food bowl and hefted myself back up the stairs, I’m completely bloody knackered. Which is – incidentally – mainly what it feels like to be heavily pregnant. Knackered. I’ve been lucky that in both pregnancies I’ve felt pretty healthy and haven’t had any swellings or what have you, but man is it hard work.

I’m at the stage now (38 weeks and 6 days at time of writing, though no doubt later by the time you read this) that I just want to sit down or recline – though it must be said that I am in the midst of a total work frenzy. Have been for around two weeks now – I just can’t stop working! And I’m really enjoying it! I suspect that this is my version of nesting.

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gestational diabetes pregnancy diary

Back from my consultant’s appointment at the hospital and I’m more confused than ever though, it has to be said, slightly elated. Before I go into what the consultant said, I must once again just stress the benefits of having gone to see a private obstetrician for a second opinion on everything. Twice. I know that this isn’t a possibility for everyone, because it is expensive – or, at least, more expensive than the NHS, which is free – but for me it was one of the best £150 I have ever spent. OK, £300 in total, but for the extra insight into my pregnancy it gave me, worth every penny. (I’m not knocking the NHS by any means – they are overstretched and could never have given me the time and attention I got privately. Call it…an “enhancement” to the service.)

Because by the time I went into the consultant’s office, he had pored over the scan results and the baby measurements (which I was surprised by, because for some reason I assumed that he would be sniffy about me having gone for a second opinion) and almost instantly recommended I have a c-section due to the size of the baby and my previous emergency section. I could hardly believe my ears! Firstly, because I had been told last time that “I wasn’t having a big baby” and secondly because I had also been told that “women gave birth naturally to huge babies all the time” and so it wasn’t a valid reason for elective section.

What a relief. Not to have to put my case across, or argue about induction rates and VBAC success rates and so on – and his recommendation also took any decision-making out of my hands. (Almost. Because obviously, had I been the other way inclined then I’m sure I could have argued for a VBAC, but I sort of felt as though he had sanctioned my own decision by also being of the same opinion, and it was as though a huge weight had been lifted from my mind.)

Confusion of the day, though, was his assertion that I hadn’t been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. In his opinion, the only way of diagnosing it is through the fasting glucose test (the one where you go in and have a blood test and then wait and have the disgusting orange drink and then have another test) and I didn’t have one. Also, my blood sugar levels after eating were borderline and my HBA1C test (which shows a sort of “average” level for blood sugars over the previous weeks) was low. I found quite an interesting piece on Dr Google about true testing for GD here, in case you’re interested.

Anyway, I’m still testing my levels and eating as though I have GD, just because it’s only a week or so until my due date and I feel as though it would be silly to throw caution completely to the wind. Funnily enough, since testing my sugar levels and eating differently I’ve actually had masses more energy and needed to nap less, so perhaps the whole thing has been a blessing in disguise. I’m definitely going to request to be tested for diabetes again after I’ve given birth, too, just to check. Because a lot of things about the diagnosis made sense to me – extreme fatigue, funny highs and lows, shaky hands…

So on the one hand, the consultant says maybe I just grow big babies, and that my levels and test results are normal – on the other, the diabetic team say that my levels are not fine and the fat baby is also a sign of GD. Confused, my friends, is not the word. Which is why I’m still being pretty strict about my diet, and trying to do a bit more exercise (by exercise I mean hefting myself up the stairs a few extra times, not going out jogging!) – just in case.

Sorry for this load of waffle, I just wanted to put an update out there because I don’t like leaving things hanging. I know that for some, this detailed run-down of my daily health must be excruciatingly boring, but it doesn’t seem right to share some things and then not others – my weekly diaries, for example, would be missing quite vital information. And I do love your anecdotes and advice that you leave in the comments section. It’s like having a version of Mumsnet at the bottom of the page!

You can read previous posts about the Gestational Diabetes debacle here. My latest VBAC/section pondering post is here.

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pregnancy safe skincare ingredients

Oh I do hate to send you all on a wild goose chase around the internet, but I’ve written a post on Pregnancy Safe Skincare over on A Model Recommends and didn’t want anyone to miss it*. Not least because my guest contributor on the post is amazing dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting, who – as well as answering my own pregnancy skincare questions – has agreed to hold a Twitter Q&A this Friday (27th January) to answer yours too! We will be online between 2-3pm, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get expert answers to any queries or worries you may have.

Follow @modelrecommends (that’s me) and @drsambunting to see all the questions and answers and please do use the hashtag #askdrsam to join in. The more the merrier. You can read the full Pregnancy Safe Skincare post here.

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gestational diabetes blog

Well: this gestational diabetes thing has thrown a right spanner in the old works, I can tell you! (Photo above taken in last pregnancy, by the way, after I had polished off two whole desserts. I thought it was brilliantly inappropriate.) I just feel as though I’ve been diagnosed (my blood sugar readings, though not horrific, definitely indicate GD) and then left just to get on with things. No real advice, no explanations as to how the condition could affect the baby, or (more my concern) how my rampantly out-of-control blood sugar levels prior to diagnosis might have affected the baby…

So it has been a crazy week or so of intense Google research, and speaking to my Dad and Uncle about how they keep their Type 2 Diabetes in check, and chatting to my oldest friend Tasha about how she coped during her two pregnancies with her Type 1 Diabetes. I’d like to say that it has all been very interesting, and it has to a certain extent, but overall my one word to describe the situation would be: STRESSFUL.

Mainly, I think, because the diagnosis has been made so late. (I’m 38 weeks.) And wouldn’t have been made at all had I not sought a second opinion about baby size from a private obstetrician. (Always trust your instincts, people.) So I’m slightly consumed with low-level fury about the fact that I wasn’t given a fasting blood sugar test, despite the fact that my last baby was big and I have an immediate relative with diabetes, but I’m also frustrated and confused because keeping blood sugar under control is actually quite the learning curve, and I’ve been given approximately 14 days altogether to achieve it.

In case you are wondering what the hell I’m on about, Gestational Diabetes is a specific kind of diabetes that affects pregnant women only and it usually goes away once you give birth. It’s caused by (as far as I can tell) pregnancy hormones suppressing insulin production so sugar levels rise and the baby floats about in the equivalent of a Coca Cola swimming pool. It’s relatively common, but not that common that you need to panic yourself if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant – though if you’re overweight or have a relative with diabetes or had a big baby last time around then you might want to ask for the blood test when you get to about 24 ish weeks. And, if you’re feeling weird after that (I mean really tired after eating, or really thirsty, or weeing loads or looking as though you’re carrying a huge baby) then ask to be tested again. And again.

testing for gestational diabetes

There aren’t supposed to be any failsafe obvious symptoms for GD, but I’ve been kicking myself because in both pregnancies I’ve had quite pronounced fatigue after eating – and I’m not talking about “ooh, I’m a bit sleepy!” fatigue, I’m talking about the type that sends you into a near coma for about three hours in the afternoon. Where you struggle to wake up and your head feels like it’s been cast in lead. In both pregnancies I’ve also had some terrible episodes where I’ve almost fainted, my hands have trembled uncontrollably and I’ve craved sugar to the point that I would crawl over broken glass for it. Surely warning signs, but with Angelica my test came back OK and, as I’ve said, this time around there was no test at all.

I’m off to see the consultant tomorrow and get a date for my c-section that I am now most definitely having. The whole GD thing has completely made my mind up, especially as the private obstetrician scanned for growth again and the baby was – unless she is grossly mistaken – huge. Before, I was in no rush at all to book in a date, thinking that I might plump for 40.5 weeks or even – ooh, risk-taker! – 41, as Angelica had been so late and I didn’t want to be unnecessarily early. Now I’ll go for whatever date they suggest, though I have reservations about pre-39 weeks because (again, Google research!) 39 weeks is supposed to be when the risk of respiratory complications due to c-section decrease.

Read about my VBAC/Section Dilemma…

My main concern, throughout all of this, has been to keep my blood sugars level and low so that when the baby is born it doesn’t have hypoglycaemia, which is when its blood sugar is too low because it’s producing too much insulin after its prolonged bathing session in the Coca Cola womb-solution. I’ve really been trying – but believe me, it’s hard enough to feed yourself properly anyway when you’re running about after a toddler, adding in massive dietary restrictions just makes life a million times harder. Cutting out sweets and chocolate hasn’t been a problem (too much) even though I lived on Haribo and Lindt over the Christmas period, but limiting carbs has been a bind. I eat a lot of rice in the evenings (curry, stir fry, etc) so I’ve swapped white rice for brown and reduced the portion size, upping the protein and veg. That works well. Breakfast is porridge, but I do like my porridge with a tonne of honey on top, so I have to try and be good about that. I can tell how well I’ve done by (obviously) the blood sugar reading an hour later – one morning I did minimal honey and the reading was 5.7 (target maximum is 7.8) but then this morning I thought I’d have a bit of extra honey and then do some exercise to burn it off, forgot to do the exercise and got a reading of 9.2!

Read about my Gestational Diabetes testing…

Omelette is a Holy Grail of blood sugar lowness – I did two eggs, full fat milk, mushrooms and grated cheese, which was delicious and epic, and the reading after lunch was 4.7! Usually it’s between 7 and 8. What else? Eggs on granary toast. Fruit and full fat yoghurt seems ok so long as I limit the fruit. Dark chocolate appears to be almost “free” and so I have all but bought shares in Green & Blacks. Overall, though, I’m playing it totally by ear, no matter how much reading I do and advice I seek. Because when you’re pregnant, and you have to eat, you have to eat. In these situations, I just do the best I can. I have almonds on hand constantly – will probably turn into one – and dates. The dates are for the constipation that my iron tablets are causing – HURRAH!

Did anyone else get a late diagnosis for Gestational Diabetes? How did you adjust? And did you end up with a C-Section? Large baby? As always, I’m intrigued by your anecdotes. Unless they are going to completely freak me out, in which case tell me in a few weeks when the baby is safely in my Snuzpod beside the bed!

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mokee tipiz baby tent

UPDATE: The winner of the Mokee Tipi Tent is Katie Groves! I’ll contact you by email for your address – congratulations!

I nice little reprieve from the whole Gestational Diabetes debacle (yes I do have it, update post coming soon) and the electric shock pains that seem to be shooting about in my crotch and bladder this week: a gorgeous giveaway for you. Brilliant baby brand Mokee have kindly offered to give away one of their beautiful Tipiz to one UK reader – and I can vouch for how lovely the Tipiz are because I have one right here!

Suitable from birth (but they really come into their own when babies start toddling and properly playing) the Tipiz are made from high-quality lime tree sticks and 100% cotton canvas – they look so pretty that it’s actually a joy to have one up in the house. Usually with large baby or toddler things you want to get rid of them as fast as possible into the loft/shed/broom cupboard, but this is properly good-looking.

mokee tipiz baby tent

Angelica often disappears into hers at the moment to lay out her wooden tea set and arrange her teddies for little parties. She likes to be closed in (the front doors close on magnets, which is a nice touch) and then pop her head out and shout BOO.

Hours of fun!

Ours is currently in the snug, but if you are short of space, or entertaining, then not to worry – it’s really easy to just gather up the sticks and lean the Tipi into a corner. I can imagine that this is going to be amazing in the garden this summer, too – perfect place to create some shade when it’s not raining.

Right – entries in the comments section below please! This giveaway is open until 27th January (this Friday) at 12 noon GMT, just leave your email in the form where prompted and a suitably nice/uplifting comment. If you’re stuck for something to say then just write “TIPI PLEASE!”

mokee tipiz baby tent

The Tipiz from Mokee come with different coloured sticks – the one I have to give away has mint sticks and the white and grey canvas. If you want to browse the Mokee site (my cot is from them and is excellent – review post here) then you can do so by clicking here.

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testing for gestational diabetes

Well, this is rather a spanner in the old works; I’m having to test four times a day for gestational diabetes due to the (apparent) gargantuan size of the baby within. It’s not actually too much of an inconvenience – and at any rate, you do what you have to do when it comes to pregnancy and unborn children and so on – but it wasn’t something I was ever expecting. Though neither was a breech baby last time, so…

I’ve done a chatty little video about my testing kit and some of my blood sugar results – it’s all very interesting, the diet/blood sugar relationship and I have learnt quite a bit about how certain foods affect your levels. It’s quite scary to see in black and white just how much a few slices of white bread and jam (oops) messes with your body, but actually it’s the more mundane, unexpected foods (pasta, white rice) that manage to surprise you when it comes to finger-stabbing-blood-letting time.

By the way, if anyone is reading this and might have to do blood sugar testing then I can tell you that the finger-stabber thing does not hurt. I was (perhaps stupidly) really worried about it, but now look forward to it in an extremely perverse way. The sound of the spring shooting the little needle down into my finger pad is strangely satisfying, I like it a lot. Though I still can’t fathom why anyone would voluntarily have a tattoo – needles over and over and over again on sensitive parts of your body? Nope. No thanks.

I’m waiting to find out what the verdict is on my blood sugar testing and I promise I will let you know as soon as I do with a little update post. For now, here’s my video. It shows a teeny drop of blood on my finger, so if you’re properly phobic then just a warning!

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19 months baby update

This is the biggest update yet, I reckon. Not in terms of length, but in terms of sudden developmental leap. I don’t know whether it was because we took two weeks off at Christmas and so perhaps we were more attentive to Angelica than usual (I mean, she gets a lot of attention anyway, but a lot of the time other things are going on, work stuff happens, you know the drill) but she just all of a sudden started to do loads of new things. It was quite bizarre, in a way, because it was so noticeable, and it’s never really been so obvious before – I could see changes from one day to the next! So, without further ado, here’s the Baby Update at 19 months.

Baby

Should really be toddler now, shouldn’t it, rather than baby? And she’s very definitely toddling. Steady on her feet, having a little run now and again, performing rather dexterous moves and picking up heavy-ish stuff to transport around the house. (I find things in the weirdest places.) Dancing is new, though: I must try and video it one day. I don’t know who she has been copying (me) but she does this crazy sort of voodoo dance and rolls her eyes back into her head whilst swaying her arms from side to side and twinkling her fingers like little starfish. It’s completely bonkers, but I get the feeling she’s been watching me mess about and it’s an amalgamation of “twinkle twinkle”, faux-rave and some sort of gospel sway. Whatever, it makes me laugh more than just about anything else I can think of.

19 months baby update

And we have words! And they’re not Dada or Daddy! She still stubbornly refuses to say Mummy, or even Mama (not once – not once I tell you) but she will say “Dexter” (sort of), “Fork” (sounds like “kwork”), “Shoes” which sounds exactly like “cheese” “fish” and “keys”, but she seems to know the difference between them and “bowl”, “balloon” and “ball”. “Bye bye” has been happening for a while, but now she says “bye bye” to everyone and everything, whilst waving or blowing kisses. She knows which noises dogs make, as well as ducks (bap bap!), horses, cows, sheep, monkeys, snakes (ssss) and pigs. Rabbits make a chomping noise, lions say “baa” but a bit louder than sheep, birds come under the same noise classification as ducks and cats, despite all of our efforts, are stubbornly silent.

Sleeping has been good, though I am LOATHE to write that as I remember when she was younger and I would jinx myself with these updates! Night sleep is from 7pm until 8am – I know, please don’t hate me, I am eternally grateful and sometimes it’s even 8.30am *hides* – and nap is from 11.30am until 1.30pm. Slightly odd timings, because lunch then has to be quite late, but she doesn’t have an afternoon nap and this all seems to be the way it works well, so we’re sticking with it for the time being…

Feeding has regressed a little, but only this week, so we’re not really sure what’s going on. Sensing something is about to change, with the arrival of the new baby? People keep asking if I’ve talked to Angelica about the new baby, but it just is a ridiculous concept – she barely knows what a baby is, let alone understand the idea that one could come and live in the house. I feel as though it would be akin to attempting to explain to her the concept of gravity, or something –  it’s just not going to happen. Anyway, after months of good eating (though any veg is a right pain) we have had to resort to trying about a million different things every mealtime and it is so boring. It really gets me stressed. Things get thrown straight off the high chair and onto the floor, and then the dog eats them quick as a flash and it’s frustrating (dog might have to start going in the utility at meal times) as well as plain annoying. On bad days I worry that she hasn’t eaten enough, but equally it feels as though I’m pandering to her if I keep trying various things – it becomes a weird game between us and I don’t think that meals should be playtime.

19 months baby update

Talking of playtime – those have become a lot more interesting! The arrival of a wooden tea set over Christmas was great cause for excitement and Angelica spent days and days unpacking it, setting it out and packing it back up again. Weeks later and the little cups and forks and plates are still her most-used toys – we have a “tea party” with teddies and dollies most days and Daddy gets fed pretend berries and quiche, if he’s lucky, whilst I get a cup of imaginary water. Sounds about right, to be honest – God forbid I have anything fun to drink ever again. Play seems to have become much more dynamic and less random – I can sort of see how little stories and ideas are reeled out and it’s far easier to join in and not sit there dying of building-brick-induced boredom.

Body

Have I been doing body updates? I think I said that the pregnancy diaries were taking care of that, but there’s been a shocker this week. I must write a post about it. I used a mirror to check my c-section scar, and that was all fine, but I hadn’t seen down there for a while and the bottom of my baby bump had HUGE purple stretch marks on it! With sort of shiny snail trail bits through them! I could have wept. There I was, thinking I was home and dry (I didn’t get a single one with Angelica) and all of the time they’ve been sneaking in through the side door, tunnelling in from below, working their evil under cover of darkness! Bastard stretch marks. I’m not sure I’ve been so diligent about oiling the underside, and maybe that’s why they’ve appeared… Anyway, I’ll maybe show you pictures if I can get my husband to take them, though he has resolutely refused to even look at the marks so far, so it’s not likely.

Right, more next time – and there’ll be a new baby in the mix. I’m thinking my amalgamated updates might be called something like Toddler, Baby and Me or similar. I had better get my thinking cap on at any rate, because I bet this next month will fly by!

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maternity knickers, pregnancy pants

At 37 weeks pregnant I’m down to the last pair of pants that don’t irritate my c-section scar, don’t fall down and don’t cut into my bump and make it all itchy. Maternity knickers are a real problem, I think, if you have a previous caesarean scar – you don’t want anything that sits in the crease where the scar is (which is pretty much all waistbands on every piece of clothing ever invented) and you want nice, breathable fabric and a comfy cut over the baby bump.

So, after all other maternity pants have been gradually eliminated I’m onto the (non-maternity-specific) M&S Cotton Full Brief (observe online here). It goes about halfway over a full-term baby bump, the cotton is soft and – crucially – the waistband part is ever so slightly deeper than the normal thin piece of covered elastic you might find. Just those extra few millimetres mean that the fabric sits flush against the skin rather than digging in uncomfortably and giving you “double belly”.

It’s annoying to have to spend out on maternity knickers right at the end of a pregnancy, but – without sounding melodramatic – the pants situation was constantly getting me down. I was uncomfortable all day. And so mass orders of the M&S briefs have been made. Anyway, I’ll need them after the c-section for at least a couple of months.

I fit a size 14, but have also tested the 16 and it’s well comfy, so more of the 16 it is. They do white, black and nude but I’d go for black, for obvious reasons. (Birth.)

M&S Cotton Full Briefs, £6 each and currently 3 pairs for the price of 2

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choosing the best baby car seat

OK, so conundrum is rather dramatic a word to use, but we are currently in a quagmire of confusion trying to work out which type of car seat we need for Angelica now that she has outgrown the Cybex Aton Q and needs more room to stretch her legs.

In an entirely selfless move (ha!) I’m going to attempt to test and review quite a few of the bestselling baby and child car seats on the market and unpick the dos from the don’ts when it comes to choosing a new one. As far as I can see so far, there are seats that adjust as the baby grows and then there are more age- or size-specific seats and each type has its own set of benefits, with (I expect) cost or value-for-money being quite a consideration (alongside the obvious safety issues), especially if you have – or intend to have – more than one baby.

Before embarking on my mega-test session, I’ve enlisted the help of Karl Doyle (product director at Mothercare) and hassled him with many car seat questions. Hopefully the answers will be helpful to you if you’re looking at car seats yourself (whether for a first baby or an older infant or child) but at the very least they’re something to refer back to when I’m appraising the seats that I test and review.

There are so many different car seats – for those with a baby on the way, where should they start? Is there a benefit to beginning with a “baby seat” and then swapping to a larger one when they grow out of it, or is a “one seat fits all” type better? (For ref, I currently have the Cybex Aton Q which is a group 0+.)

KARL: This completely depends on a parent’s lifestyle.  A baby car seat is great for parents who want to have the flexibility of moving their baby in their car seat between car, home and pushchair, without disturbing them.  This is because many models are compatible with pushchairs and can be clicked onto the chassis (often with the addition of adaptors) to convert them into a travel system, as well as many models being compatible with an ISOFIX base which allows you to click the car seat on and off the base.  Some parents may prefer multi group or all in one car seats, when they intend on keeping the car seat fixed in the car.  Some may also like the longevity that this type of car seat offers as there are models that last from birth – 12 years old.

Many seats now seem to be rearward facing even when a child is no longer a baby; what are the benefits of a rear-facing seat? 

KARL: In a frontal collision, which is the most common collision on our roads, a rearward facing car seat reduces the impact on a baby’s vulnerable head and neck.  Your baby’s head is proportionally larger and heavier than the rest of his body for the first few years as the bones and muscles in his neck are still developing to support his relatively heavy head.  That is why we say it is safer to keep using a rearward facing car seat, even when no longer a baby.

A rearward facing car seat spreads the forces in a frontal collision over the whole back and so protects the child’s head and neck.  If your baby travels in a forward facing car seat and you have a frontal collision, his head can be thrown forwards. This puts stress on his head and neck, potentially causing serious injury.

The iSize (R129) legislation says that babies must travel rearward facing until they are at least 15 months old, which is when the muscles and bones in their neck are more developed.  We encourage where possible to keep a child rearward facing for as long as possible, ideally up to 4 years old.

Do those with very tiny or premature babies need to factor in any extra considerations? 

KARL: Newborn or premature babies should be lie flat for most of the day, so try to keep journeys for newborns up to 4 weeks old, no longer than 30 minutes.  If a longer trip is needed, then ensure regular breaks are taken to allow baby to stretch out for a while away from the car seat.

Is car make and model a big consideration when choosing a seat? What about older cars with no isofix? 

KARL: When purchasing a car seat, it is always important to consider what car seat is right for baby and what car seat is right for your car, as not all car seats fit all cars.  It is always recommended to visit a store so a car seat advisor can check if the car seat fits your car and can show you how fit it correctly.  Many older cars are do not have ISOFIX connectors built-in and so can only take car seats that are belted into the vehicle.  Again our car seat advisors can show you how to fit your belted car seat into your vehicle correctly.

When it comes to car seats, do you really “get what you pay for” – is it worth investing well as you would with a pushchair or good mattress, or are they all fundamentally the same?

KARL: All car seats sold in the UK must comply to the R44.04 (or R129/iSize) standards.  However, some car seats do go beyond the minimum standard, with additional safety features.  Often more expensive car seats are developed and tested to higher standards and thresholds (e.g. iSize), which can be costly for the manufacturer to do and so is reflected in the price that parents will have to ultimately pay for the seat.

So things are a little clearer in my head after my Q&A session with Karl: that rearward facing, even after 15 months, is preferable and that – in terms of seat size – going for a specific age range over a “one size fits all” depends on lifestyle and individual needs. I hadn’t thought of this before, because I was on a bit of a “one size fits all? That’s genius and a no-brainer!” excitement spiral, but actually if you need to be able to take a newborn in and out of the car easily and transfer them to pram wheels, a hulking great seat that fits a twelve year old is NOT GOING TO WORK! You’d need to put it in a shopping trolley. Ha!

OK, testing starts today with the Cybex Sirona iSize, which is rearward facing until four years old. I’m starting with Cybex because I have been so thrilled to bits with the Aton – it has to be one of the best-looking newborn/baby seats out there as well as having loads of extra safety features and a near-flat lying position for newborns. This is what “New Baby” will be coming home in in a few weeks’ time.

If you have any suggestions or requests in terms of which car seats you’d like to see tested then let me know – I have a few lined up, but actually wouldn’t mind trying a couple that are in the “under £100” price bracket to see how they compare… (Why I give myself these challenges with weeks to go before a new baby I have no idea, but it’s good to stay busy!)

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