You’ll no doubt have realised that I’m a big fan of the Sleepyhead pod – most of my pictures of Angelica as a newborn were taken with her in one (see above, bless her with her little frog legs!), and history seems to be repeating itself with New Baby Ted. If you’re not familiar with the Sleepyhead, then do read my full review here. For those who don’t want to click away; the Sleepyhead is officially described as a “portable bed”, but I’d describe it as a sort of multifunctional in-crib pod that helps small babies to feel secure and makes travel (when you might have to use a much bigger cot, such as one provided in a hotel or at your in-laws’ house) painless.

Review: Sleepyhead Deluxe Portable Baby Bed

It’s (in very simple terms) a bolster on a flat base that sort of encircles or cocoons the baby, and it’s sturdy enough to provide a proper sleeping place if you want to place it onto the floor next to you as you watch tv/work on your laptop, but light enough to be incredibly convenient if you’re travelling about (or if you need to carry it hooked over one finger as you make your way perilously down the stairs, loaded with newborn, iPhone, house phone, muslin cloths and your empty tea mug! Tell me that’s not just me…).

newborn baby sleeping

My first Sleepyhead was such a success that my friend nicked it for her baby, and used it so hard that I ended up telling her to keep it and buying another one for New Baby Ted! So I’m properly in the fan club along with the (approx) seventy-eight billion other people who have raved about it online.

mrs mighetto sleepyhead review

It’s a joy, then, to have something very special to give away to one lucky reader (UK only, I’m so sorry, it’s a legal thing with running giveaways!): a brand new Sleepyhead Deluxe with special edition Mrs Mighetto cover. Mrs Mighetto is an absolutely gorgeous Swedish brand that creates prints and posters from original watercolours – you can take a look at their website here, it’s all magical characters and superhero animals and cute little circus tents.

mrs mighetto sleepyhead review

Mrs Mighetto have designed two beautiful covers for the Sleepyhead and they are both at Harrods here, but I have one Mrs Mighetto Sleephead Pod to give away.

mrs mighetto sleepyhead

All you need to do is leave a comment below before 12 noon (BST) next Wednesday (5th April 2017) and a lucky winner will be picked at random. Good luck – this is such a beautiful (and infinitely useful!) prize. For the giveaway terms and conditions, please see here.

The winner of this giveaway is Korri Patten – well done Korri!

The Sleepyhead Deluxe is £110 here and the Mrs Mighetto cover is £69.95 at Harrods here.

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postpartum model

I did a photoshoot for A Model Recommends (my beauty and fashion website) last week – it was an ad feature for a new clothing brand called AND/OR. I have to say that I was slightly terrified, because I am still very much in “postpartum” mode – there are still bits of black adhesive on my stomach from the c-section wound dressing, for Pete’s sake! (To be fair, I could spend an hour or so picking them off with my nails, but I have neither the time nor inclination, so I’m waiting for the glue to just fall off when it’s ready. Which I would have thought would be round about now, seeing as though I have a hot shower at least once a day!)

Anyway, yes: the postpartum model. Good God, modelling is hard enough when your body hasn’t been stretched by two babies – it’s an absolute minefield when you’ve recently given birth. Here are some of the things that happened to me before, during and after the shoot. Things that could only happen, really, to the sleep-deprived, mind-addled, leaky-boobed postpartum woman. (The shoot was at my house, so that was handy. Also, I was – am – married to the photographer, so he knew that if he said anything remotely irritating I’d smash him over the head with a frying pan. This made things infinitely more bearable. Also the fact that I insisted we shoot inside, rather than outside as planned, because it was really cold and it would have made me miserable as hell. If only I’d had so much control over things in years gone by!)

postpartum body

Leg Shaving. The hairs on my legs were around half an inch long. I don’t need to shave my legs much, as my hair is fair and quite fine, but it had been around four months since my last shearing and so I was pushing it a bit. At 8.15am I started trying to run a bath so that I could get in and shave my legs; I finally got in the bath at 1pm, having fed the baby twice, cleaned up sick, studied the brief for the job, gone to the GP for a health check, returned, had a call with the accountant, re-run the bath and eaten a hurried lunch of leftover quiche and half a Tracker bar. I had made a big – BIG – deal over this bath because I have only had one bath since Christmas. Pregnant, I was too huge to fit in it and/or lever myself back out, postpartum I didn’t want to soak my scar. So yeah, I was really looking forward to this bath. Also, it was a necessity because one of the shots for the ad feature was me in a pair of shorts (crikey) and I don’t do any retouching to any photos for either of my websites, or social “platforms”, so the leg hairs had to be culled. Anyway, I finally got in the bath, put in my oils and unguents, did a face mask, got out, basted myself in firming body lotion, took off my face mask, applied serum and moisturiser, did my makeup, got into my shorts, and guess what? I HAD ONLY SHAVED ONE OF MY LEGS.

Wonky Boobs. As we started shooting, I realised that one of my boobs was about four times the size of the other. This was because one of them had been fed from and the other was engorged with milk. But the baby was sleeping! Cue me sneaking off to the loo to siphon some excess milk into the washbasin and even up my breast sizes. Imagine doing that at a studio shoot! Oh, the glamour, the glamour.

Breast Pads. I didn’t want to ruin the clothes samples with leaked milk, so I had to pop some breast pads into my bra, which made my boobs look even huger than they already are, which meant that I had to pose with my chest concaved in, which was made all the more difficult by the fact that I had to also make my stomach concave. So basically I had to pose in ways that made my entire torso retract into the far distance, whilst keeping my head in shot.

Breathing In. I had to breathe in so much that at some points I thought I might pass out. In the olden days, if I breathed in that much, my belly button would feel as though it was touching my spine. These days, if I breathe in, I can barely see a difference. Still, I had to do something with my deflated beach ball of a stomach, so I used a shoehorn to shove some of it down inside the jeans and then placed my arms strategically across my body. True pro, me.

If you want to see the final pics for the ad feature then it’s over on A Model Recommends here – the clothes are really gorgeous, the denim is incredibly flattering, if you’re looking for some wardrobe staples..

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Quite a few people have asked me about the things I’ve found most useful during my c-section recovery, so here they are – I’ve divided the products into two groups, one for immediately after surgery and the other for later on down the line. Please do add your own suggestions for the “c-section survival kit” in the comments box – for new readers, I must say that the comments section is quite often an amazing place to go if you’re looking for a bit of support or extra information. Lots of great ideas from other people, lovely consideration shown for one another and beautifully written mini-posts. Always worth checking out.

C-Section Essentials: Immediate

c-section recovery essentials

Not particularly glamorous, this survival kit selection, but my God do I wish I’d had these things to hand when I’d come out of hospital! My worst experience, perhaps of the whole c-section procedure, was the pain from the air trapped inside my body after the operation. I thought I was having a heart attack! Then I thought I’d been paralysed from the chest upwards! So, anything and everything to relieve trapped wind: peppermint capsules, peppermint water (hard to get hold of round by me, but by the time I’d located some my wind was gone!), Tums, peppermint tea bags (though the tea isn’t half as effective as the water) and a laxative to get things moving in the bowel department. My midwives recommended Lactulose and it worked pretty well for me…

Other essentials? Painkillers, as prescribed (I was told to take paracetamol and ibuprofen, which was more than adequate so long as I took them at the maximum dose and as regularly as was safe), lots of water (I used a flask so that I could have it next to me in the bed) and a Kindle for keeping me awake for night feeds when I could barely remember my name I was so tired…

There are no “scar maintenance” products here, because the wound dressing will probably still be on when you get home (especially if your hospital, like mine, has a 24 hour kick-out policy – aka “enhanced recovery programme”!) and then the midwives will check your stitches in the first week. I think, personally, that it’s a bit too soon to start clarting about with creams and potions and scar-reducing sheets and so on – maybe because I’m so squeamish, but also because the wound is still so…raw.

c-section recovery essentials

One thing I did find to be brilliant, though, in terms of protecting the scar region, was my firm little cushion from BabyMoov. I used this all the way through pregnancy to support my back in bed, my legs on the sofa and my neck when I’ve been working on my laptop with my head against the headboard. But it was absolutely invaluable when I came out of hospital – small enough to easily manoeuvre about my person, I could easily swap it from behind my back to put it on my lap or next to my hip to support the baby’s head during breastfeeding. And it’s great for holding against a scar when you have a toddler about and worried they might kick you, or for when you know you’re about to sneeze or cough and you hate that feeling that your scar might pop open! It’s called the Mum & B cushion and you can find it online here – it’s £35.

C-Section Essentials: Ongoing

c-section recovery essentials

My ongoing essentials for c-section recovery are sort of dependent on what suits the individual. I’ve been testing out various support belts and underwear items and have mixed feelings about them – I really do think it depends on your size, your lifestyle and what you’re hoping to achieve.

For those who want support in the tummy region then the belts from Belly Bandit are tight and reassuring, though I think if you’re sitting up for long periods (eg breastfeeding in bed all day after a c-section!) then it’s a bit uncomfortable to have a big wide belt on. I’d say it’s better saved for a little later on when you’re more mobile and upright. It’s quite a nice feeling to have the support around your middle, actually, as it sort of props your lower back up as well as your tummy! It’s sold as a “shaping” aid, to help you get your middle section into shape, but for me it’s the support element that’s useful. I’m too busy trying to survive and stay sane without worrying about my waistline! You can find the Belly Bandit Original online here – it’s £49.95. They also do “undies”, a long pair of extremely tight knickers that pull you in – I prefer these to the belt, because they feel more pliable and allow for more movement in your middle. They do, however, have a long row of hooks, so you need to have nimble fingers and be able to pull the fabric together tightly at the same time as doing them up! It’s a two-handed job for sure, there’s no putting these on in a hurry! They are specifically aimed at c-section recovery, with targeted compression in the scar area and a special antibacterial fabric, though – again – I’d want to wait a few weeks before starting with these, if only because I’m not sure they’d accommodate the enormous maternity mattress pads one needs to wear postpartum… Find the c-section undies here.

c-section recovery essentials

Also tested: the Theraline c-section belt. This is a sort of soft “bum bag” (or “fanny pack” if you’re in the US!) with a pocket to contain the c-section-recovery weapon of your choosing, whether it be a rigid protective “shield”, a cold compress you store in the fridge or a hot pad that you heat up in the microwave. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of bum bags. It’s also bulky and very obvious, so it’s one to wear around the house and not underneath your Roland Mouret dress. (Joke, obviously. Who’s out in a Roland Mouret dress after a c-section?!) Too bulky for me, really, but the shield is a great idea (and it’s not so bulky with just the slimline shield slipped into the pouch) and I bet the heated pad is great for period pain, once you get your periods back, which makes this the gift that keeps on giving. Personally I didn’t want my c-section wound to be heated up or cooled down, I just wanted it to stop freaking me out, so only the shield part of this appealed. You can find the Theraline belt online here. It’s £20.

c-section recovery essentials

The best postpartum scar purchase? Tea Tree Oil. Once my stitches were out (had dissolvable the first time, but not the second time for some reason, I forgot to ask why) I had a little tear that opened up along the scar. I stressed all day and night for about a week, thinking it would get infected, and even went to the GP to get it examined and dressed. Dressing it didn’t help; I still had a little open split that was raw on the inside after another week. Then I started diluting tea tree oil in the lid of a shampoo bottle when I was in the shower, and after I’d turned the water off, as a last rinse, I splashed the solution along my scar before getting out. Then I let it air dry. I swear the split healed within days! Maybe it would have done anyway, I don’t know, but it seemed to keep the whole area a lot fresher. I used the Tisserand oil here.

c-section recovery essentials

And the one I’m currently testing? The silicone scar sheets from Scar Away. I bought them on Amazon here – they seem quite pricey (£23) for what amounts to a box with four sticking plasters inside, but they do seem to be making my scar less angry-looking and flatter. Apparently it’s what plastic surgeons use on burns and serious scars (can anyone verify this?!) but for me one of the best things is that they feel as though they cushion the scar slightly, and they stop fabric from rubbing up against it, which is the most annoying feeling ever invented. I’ll let you know how I get on in the longterm with these – you take them off at the end of the day and wash them and then they go really really sticky, so much so that when lie them flat to dry off it’s like a comedy trying to get them unstuck from your fingertips. It took me three whole minutes this morning, in the end I had to prod it off with the handle end of a makeup brush, and then that stuck to it, so I just left it stuck to the brush!

And finally, the most important c-section recovery thing of all: lots of help. Pull in all the help you can possibly get, and think about this before you go in for the section so that people have a place to stay or know which dates you need them for. I know this might sound obvious, even slightly silly, but I do think that it makes all the difference between a good recovery and a hellish one.  If you are forced to get out of bed all of the time to let the dog out/see to your toddler/make tea and toast/answer the door to the postman then there’s no way you’re going to regain your strength as fast as if you can sleep all day long and be spoon-fed caviar from the finest silverware. I think that when you come out of hospital you have a false sense of how well you are – you’ve managed to walk to the car, to do a journey, to get back out of the car and climb the stairs, all after major surgery so you must be ok, right? You’re a rare superwoman – what the hell were these other people talking about? Recovery? Pah!

Then it hits you. Hours, maybe days later. You’ve had major surgery! What on earth were you thinking trying to go to the supermarket on day 2? You really need to rest. Only get up, if you can help it, to go to the loo. Get someone else, if at all possible, to do anything and everything that isn’t a toilet trip – change the baby’s nappy, fetch you water, pass you the remote control. Pretend you’re the laziest person that ever lived and then get even lazier. For me, having a lot of help was the singular most important thing and I still struggled with my recovery! So plan in advance, pull in favours – family, friends, paid help if you can possibly afford it and there’s no alternative option. Because I can guarantee you that chasing your dog about a paddock when you’re two weeks postpartum, trying to get him to drop a dead pigeon and come back inside, is not a lot of fun. (Happened the first time. In a heatwave. When we had no house and were living in a holiday let and there wasn’t really enough room to have anyone to stay and my husband had gone out to work and I’d promised that “everything would be absolutely fine”. Goodness, I don’t think on that time fondly!)

I’m making it all sound rather dreadful, and it’s not – I’ve felt worse with a bout of the flu – but I think it could be if you’re not adequately prepared. Have everything you need within easy reach, stock up on the painkillers and drink plenty of water.

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post-partum depression

I wrote the post that begins further down the page when I was twenty days post-partum, and completely forgot to publish it. Looking back, I had no idea how completely low I was. I feel great now, but it’s so worrying that even with lots of support you can feel completely overwhelmed – people close to me have said “oh I’m so glad you’re better” but I didn’t even realise that there was anything wrong with me!

Thank goodness I had lots of help in the first few weeks – I’m still getting lots of help, I haven’t really had to do a day on my own yet and the New Baby is six weeks old. I think had I been looking after both a toddler and a newborn I’d have felt far worse – to be honest, I don’t think that I felt depressed, it was more that I was overwhelmed by how tired I was and how many different ailments I had. You could say that it was more physical than mental. I felt as though my body was completely out of my control!

READ: My C-Section Recovery

Post-partum is a bizarre time; I don’t know whether it has been like this for other people, but I feel as though one day you can be the lowest you’ve ever been and the next you feel as though you’re untouchable, like superwoman. That anything is possible. And you make all of these plans for world domination from the (relative) comfort of your bed, but when you try to execute them you realise just how limited you are. In time, in energy, in health.

post-partum depression

Now at six weeks post-partum I feel mostly marvellous. I’m not “back to my old self” by any means; I’m more tired and my body needs some healthy food and a bit of fresh air, but I’ve been out to the shops and to Tumble Tots with Angelica and I’ve cooked, had people over, been for a long walk, done quite an astonishing amount of work on my laptop and worn jeans, if only for two hours. I feel as though I’m on my way to getting back to – if not my old self, then a new version my old self.  And that new version is going to be marvellous. Who needs to get back to their old self? (Wouldn’t mind the flattish stomach back and a some extra sanity but apart from that…)

Here’s what I wrote a few weeks ago at what must have been a bit of a low ebb:

“Frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious; not words I thought I’d be using to describe my first few post-partum weeks. I’ll be honest, I thought that I’d be breezing through them, what with it being my second baby – no surprises, breastfeeding technique already practised and perfected, support network (husband, parents, nanny) pre-organised. But I’ve been totally bowled over by just how hard I’ve found it, adjusting to a new baby again – the sleepless nights, the fear of the c-section scar bursting open (had forgotten about that particular mental horror!), being cooped up in the bedroom whilst the sounds of life continuing as normal can just be heard through the closed door… People telling you to “sleep when the baby sleeps” but not realising what it does to you, to your mental state, to be awake on your own all night and then to sleep all day. To basically have no real human contact, apart from with a tiny, beautiful creature who only knows how to voice his disapproval and has no way of saying “well done Mum! You’re keeping me alive and I really, really appreciate it.”

On some days, (usually when there’s been sleep the night before) I feel as though I could genuinely conquer the world. I make lists as I do the first breastfeed of the morning – I plan activities to do with Angelica, I look at ideas for meals I might cook her and search the internet for Tumble Tot timetables and swimming lesson details. I draft blog posts, eat hummus and salad instead of desperately wolfing down chocolate and biscuits, I think to myself, you’ve got this. This mothering thing. Who the hell said it was hard?

That’s usually at around 8am, but by 10am I’ve crashed out – tired, weepy, c-section scar smarting, boobs leaking milk, hearing Angelica having fun but too exhausted to heave myself out of bed and join in. Was it this hard the first time around? I didn’t even have a place to live, for Angelica’s first three or four months! Surely that must have been more stressful? But I think that I took the recovery in my stride because I didn’t know what to expect – leaking milk, blood, whatever else and basically living in a half-awake stupor, getting through one hour at a time, I had no real expectations and hadn’t set myself any goals. This time, I think I set the bar too high – I imagined myself going out with the double pram after a week or so, sitting in a cafe or at Pizza Express, I thought that the baby would sleep for three hours, feed for one, in a regular pattern.

How naive! How quickly you forget what life with a newborn is like: completely all-consuming. They don’t want to latch on, they just want to be held, then they want a feed but they don’t feed for long, so you can’t sleep because you know they’ll want a proper feed soon. Then they feed and they’re sleepy, but you can tell they need changing and you don’t want them lying in their poo, so you change them and it wakes them up, and before you know it you’re at 3.30am and you got into bed at 10pm and half of the night has disappeared…

post-partum depression

And I haven’t even had to look after two on my own yet – I’ve been extraordinarily lucky that I’ve always had someone else here. Mostly my husband, but when he’s been working then various family members, and our amazing nanny who does two days a week… I mean I do see Angelica, but I can’t pick her up, can’t lean down to the floor to change her, struggle to dress her if she needs her trousers pulling up or her wellies taking off. I can’t bath her, get her out of her cot or put her into it, I can’t lift her into her high chair or chase her around the garden. I’m feeling so incredibly helpless and I keep thinking that she’ll remember these weeks and wonder where I was. Which is ridiculous, isn’t it? But at the same time, I’m anxious about how I’ll cope when I do have both of them! Perhaps because I still feel so crap, body-wise, I can’t imagine ever having enough energy, or feeling brave enough to lift something heavy, like a toddler – how on earth do people cope?!”

If you’re feeling low, post-partum, there are people who can help. My health visitor was very good at keeping tabs on my mood, and they are able to put you in touch with someone you can talk to if you (or they) feel as though you may have postnatal depression. The Association for Post Natal Illness have a helpline and loads of resources, their website is here.

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My Birth Story: Elective C-Section

Five things that will (ok, might) happen after you’ve given birth. Now look, I’ve had two c-sections and so I’m no expert on things that happen to the female form after a vaginal birth, but I’ve read (and heard) enough stories to know that the below occur on an almost universal basis, no matter how the baby emerges. I suppose, when you think about it, that most people will be sore somewhere. Here are a few things that might (will probably/almost definitely) happen post-birth.

  • You will realise that you have even less wardrobe options than you did when you were 9 months pregnant. This is because a) you have to wear a sanitary pad the size of a single mattress and massive pants to contain it and b) you will, for ages, have a gut the size of a 5/6 month-ish pregnancy, but instead of it being all taut and rounded, it will be flabby like a punctured bagpipe. Try making that look good! All of the stripey stuff that was so cute when you were pregnant now seems like the worst ever practical joke.
  • Things will continuously fall out of your vagina, including weird pale blood (lochia) and mucus-y stringy stuff and small clots. Even if you’ve had a c-section. With my first baby I bled heavily for weeks – this time it has been very light, but stop-starting when I least expect it. It’s such a joy!
  • You will cough/sneeze/do a poo and feel as though all of your intestines and bladder and womb are about to fall out of your body. Through whichever exit your baby took. Now I don’t know what would be worse: this feeling happening in your vagina, or this feeling happening at the front of your stomach: either way it’s not pleasant. I can only offer some advice for c-section recoverers, and that’s to press a pillow to your scar before coughing/sneezing/pooing. Granted, taking a cushion in with you when you drop the kids off at the pool isn’t the most enticing idea, but: needs must, etc etc.
  • Your face will look like a peeled, misshapen potato. Don’t worry – all new mums have a face like a raw potato. Or a lump of unbaked dough with two currants stuck in for eyes. If you try to put makeup on, it won’t work. It’ll be like trying to put makeup on a waxwork figure – your skin will reject all types of foundation and your eyelashes will have retreated into the puffy depths of your red and swollen lids. Don’t even attempt to use bronzer or blush on foundation-less skin, either, as a “quick emergency fix”: for some reason it clings to post-partum skin most unbecomingly. It’s probably the sweat and tears keeping everything moist.
  •  People will tell you to “let the air” get to your scars, stitches and (potentially) bleeding nipples. Mainly health visitors and midwives will say this, but also people on Google. These people must live in completely wipe-clean houses, or have somehow escaped the indignity of post-partum breast-and-vag leakages. “Lie on the bed naked after a shower,” they say, “and it’ll let the air get to your wound”. In the meantime you’ll have dispensed about three litres of lochia into your Hypnos mattress and shot breast milk at the ceiling. Idiots.

I’m sure I can think of more things but that’s enough horror for now. I am exaggerating all of this, of course, so don’t be scared if you’ve got it all to come…

See also: My Biggest Post-Partum Body Shocks!

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night nursing what to wear

It’s always a bit of a problem to know what to wear in the early days of breastfeeding, when you’re still recovering from the birth and you’re basically a sodden mass of milky skin and sweaty bits of mismatched clothing. You’re told that your various lady bits need to be “left to air” so that stitches and chapped nipples can heal, but nobody really takes into account the fact that you’re leaking from just about every place you could possibly leak from.

So, what to wear to bed? You’re probably going to be feeding the baby more than you’re going to be sleeping, but you need to be comfy and you need to stay dry. (Waking up knackered at 3.30am to a mattress and duvet soaked in breastmilk-turned-cold is one of the most hideous experiences.) You need something that will, ideally, hold your nursing pads in place (I use the ones from Lansinoh or these washable bamboo ones) but you don’t want anything too structured that will put pressure on your breast tissue or cause you discomfort.

Here are the three things I’ve been alternating between for the last month – if you’re currently pregnant and trying to think ahead to the things you might need, then do sort out some bits and pieces to wear if you’re intending to breastfeed. If you’re anything like me then you won’t get out much for the first few weeks and your bed clothes will also be your daytime clothes, so it’s worth planning in advance…

breastfeeding night tops

Most-worn item, the Mamas and Papas x Blossom and Bloom Lace Nursing Top, £19 here. “Lace” is misleading – it’s just a lace trim – but the whole Blossom and Bloom range from Mamas and Papas is just gorgeous. Very luxe and heavy jersey, beautiful colours and prints… The nursing top has clip-down cups with pockets to keep your pads in place, but no restrictive underwiring or tight elastic.

nursing tops

Then we have the Ribbed Henley Tank from GAP, here. Not actually a nursing top, but the poppers down the front are so handy for easy access and I tend to wear it with a soft nursing bra underneath. They have it in a few different colours; I have them all. I bulk-bought a load when the latest good offer code was running, but they always have a code at GAP, you just need to check the home-page! These tops are really long – they just about cover your bottom, unless you’re very tall, which is brilliant if you’re feeling self-conscious about your hip area.

breastfeeding tops

Finally, the Grey Marl Nursing Nightie from excellent maternity brand Seraphine. Just about enough structure to hold your nursing pads in place, though not if you start walking around all over the place, but the drop cups make for an easy feed without having to get your shoulders and chest cold and the jersey is so soft and lovely. This one is £35 here – there’s a matching robe which looks nice, though I’m well into my cuddly massive one I got from ASDA because it hides peanut nips if you answer the door and you can virtually get away with being naked beneath it, should the fancy take you…

 

 

 

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two under two parenting

It’s time for the monthly update – but now there’s an extra person to figure into things, “two under two”, the format has changed slightly. Updates used to happen on monthly anniversaries of Angelica’s birthday (17th), but now we’ve swapped to New Baby Ted’s birthday (3rd), mainly because I couldn’t get it together to write an update post two weeks ago!

Lots to tell you – though I have a dozen posts waiting to be edited and published, so if I miss anything out here then it’s probably because I’m covering it elsewhere in more detail. Here goes…

two under two parenting

Toddler:

Angelica – now 20 months old –  is coping with having a new baby in the house admirably well. She’s actually had more attention than usual, what with my parents being here at the start and then my husband being at home and our nanny doing a few more days this week and next to help out. The only big change for her, I think, is that she’s seen far less of me and so when she does see me she’s a bit more clingy. (But secretly I love that!) Not being able to pick her up because of the c-section wound has been slightly distressing, because she does like her cuddles and her fireman’s lifts, but I think that she’s just about understood now that I can’t lift her – though it’s only a couple more weeks until I’ll be firing on all cylinders again.. (I’ve actually picked her up a few times, either out of necessity or because I’ve forgotten I’m not supposed to, and my bowels didn’t fall out of my body so that’s all good.)

In terms of developments and learning, she’s coming on leaps and bounds. She can say: cup, bowl, fork, tree, Dexter, Ted, Baby, Mama, Daddy, bye-bye. Cheese, quiche, keys and please, (all of those sound the same!), squeeze, heave (don’t ask), beep-beep, choo-choo, bear… And then all of the animal noises for cow, pig, sheep, hen, bird, dog, horse, elephant, lion, frog, bee, cat, duck… It’s great fun! Sometimes there are frustrations when she wants something and is making noises but you can’t tell what the hell she’s saying – we go around the kitchen pointing to about a million things before she finally nods her head and there are often tears of frustration before we reach that point. “Cheese? You want cheese? Face wipe? You want the cake tin? No? The cat? You can’t have the cat! What, you want the tree? The yoghurt? The water? The biscuits? The quiche? Daddy’s keys?” And all the while she’s just sitting there, getting redder and redder in the face, shouting “sheeeesh! Sheesh!” as though we’re complete imbeciles…

Earlier in the week we went to Tumble Tots and she loved it! I mean, she went completely insane with glee! So we’re off to Toys R Us to buy her a fabric tunnel, because she seemed to be through that a lot, and I’m signing her up for a block of classes, though I’m slightly anxious about taking Ted and him needing feeding in the middle of the class, because it’s all quite hands-on and you need to be actively following your child about like some sort of deranged servant. So I’ll let you know how we get on when I’m flying solo, without nanny!

two under two parenting

Baby:

Ted is four weeks old today, weighs 10lbs 13oz and I have no idea how tall he is as I can’t find the tape measure. Sixty-something centimetres, I think, last time he was measured – does that sound right? The red book is somewhere but I can’t be arsed to move out of bed. If I do, the bedside crib will rock and he might wake up and then I won’t get any work done! I have lots of newborn-specific posts coming out soon so I don’t want to repeat myself, but I’d say that the main challenges over the past four weeks have been pretty standard: re-learning how to breastfeed (because even though it’s only been eight or so months since I last did it, Ted obviously didn’t have a clue!), re-learning how to survive without sleep and trying to cope with recovering from the c-section at the same time as looking after the baby.

Read: My C-Section Recovery

I’ll admit that two weeks ago I was very low – not depressed, I don’t think, but incredibly overwhelmed. Everything hurt, I wasn’t getting any sleep and I felt really sad and guilty that I wasn’t spending as much time with Angelica as I usually would. I think that I expected to recover very quickly from the birth this time around, and I didn’t – it was just the same as last time, really. So I set the bar too high and failed to meet my own high standards. (Lesson: don’t set any bar, don’t have any standards!)

But Ted is an absolute dreamboat – he’s very similar to how Angelica was, actually. Very chilled out, apart from he gets the same trapped wind problem as she did, which means lots of pained crying and whinging between feeds, usually at night. Fine if he’s held, not so fine if he’s lying down flat, very frustrating when you’re tired and it’s 3am and you haven’t had any sleep yet and NOTHING WILL MAKE HIM STOP CRYING. Oh, he also likes to have a little vomit every couple of days, which was such a shock as Angelica wasn’t ever sick for the first year. Maybe once? Yes, when we were on a packed train at Liverpool Street! I remember that very well – I was absolutely covered in vom.

Anyway, I tried some Infacol last night and (fingers crossed) we had a much better time of it. I wasn’t too keen on putting anything into the baby that wasn’t breast milk, especially as the fluid smelt so artificial and orangey (like a newborn knows what orange flavour is? What’s the point?!) but if it helps him out then so be it. If there are any more natural remedies then let me know – I need to do some research on that, actually, so I’ll save my Googling for the night feed tonight.

two under two parenting

I do about eight or nine breastfeeds in a 24 hour period, though some days maybe more or less – sometimes he just snacks and comes off again after a few minutes, though I try to not let him do that as it’s not the creamy, nutritious milk at the beginning and I remember with Angelica that her poos turned green for a few days when she wasn’t feeding properly. But Ted seems to be gaining weight well – at least the health visitor was very pleased – and his latch has always been good, mainly I think because I got his tongue tie sorted on day 3 rather than a week or so in, which is what happened with Angelica. By the time Angelica’s tongue tie was snipped I had cracked and bleeding nipples from days of her not latching properly! So that was a priority for me this time around.

What else? I can’t think of much else that won’t be covered in my upcoming posts – but in general, things at four weeks are a world away from how they were at two. A fortnight ago I just couldn’t envisage anything ever being “normal” again – I felt trapped in the bedroom, tethered to the baby, crippled with my various pains and ailments (just about every body part had something wrong with it!) and now I feel a lot more positive. I’m beginning to realise that with motherhood there is no such thing as “normal” – the situation changes almost daily and you just have to go with the flow. If you try to compare your new life with your old life then things become overwhelming and, though it’s such a cliché, I think that you really do have to take it one day at a time.

two under two parenting

Me:

Yeah, what about me?! Ha! I feel as though you get ignored a bit as a Mum the second time around. I was virtually pampered in hospital the first time in comparison to the second! “Oh? You’re sat there in a pile of puke? Here’s a cloth. See ya later.” You can read about my c-section and recovery in the birth story here and recovery post here, but everything was quite straightforward and as-expected, although I think that I had wiped much of the scar/wound stuff from my memory because it freaked me out this time just as much as last time! I’m really no good with cuts and sores and stitches and all that sort of stuff, and I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed having to check my wound and bathe it and dry it. Gross. It split open a bit (about an inch or two) and that set me back quite a lot, mentally, because I didn’t want to move or bend or stretch and so took to my bed for days on ends, festering in my milky nightdress and generally feeling very sorry for myself.

two under two parenting

Also I’d forgotten just how massive your tits get when the milk comes in, and how much it hurts when the baby needs to feed but you’re stuck in the car in traffic or what have you – oh my God! Giganta-breasts! Big milky boobs do not make for a flattering body silhouette either, I’m still in maternity clothes or big baggy sweatshirts and cardigans, and the only bottoms I can wear are my leggings (which are almost threadbare at the crotch!) or my cut-off yoga harem pants. Which means that if I leave the house, it has to be the leggings, because it’s too cold for shorts. I’ve done a big ASOS order with ten pairs of high-waisted jeggings in various sizes, so perhaps if one of those can be stretched over my massive flab-gut then I’ll have two outfit choices! Woooo!

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