How Life Changed

Isn’t it funny how life can change? I was chatting to an old school friend the other day and she casually mentioned her 30th next year. I was like wow she’s got that wrong – til I realised she was indeed completely correct. Mine’s not til the following year as she was older in the year and I was one of the youngest. But still, it’s been ten years since I did my A-Levels this year. Ten years since I left school and started journalism college. Nine years since I moved out of my parents’ home and into my first little flat with a grand sum of a microwave, a couple of towels and some clothes to my name.

Nine years since I took a job at a newspaper as a junior reporter (which means I’ve known Dylan nine years) and eight since I moved and settled in a new town where my job was based. Eight years since I became acting deputy and seven since I passed my senior exams. Six since I moved again and five since I ran a half-marathon, launched a paper and also began running a mental health group. Four since my own mental health took a turn for the worse and I spent a summer as an inpatient on a ward. But also four since the guy I sort of liked who I knew through work asked me on a date and also four since we got engaged and booked our wedding (it took five years for him to ask me out but once we got past that hurdle, we moved fast!).

Three years since we found out we were expecting a baby girl, since we moved in together, since we had our amazing honeymoon in Thailand and since Alexandra Cavanagh was born. Yeah, three years ago was incredible but also some of the hardest days of our lives. Three years since we were forced to cancel our wedding 48 hours beforehand, since I spent what should have been my wedding day on oxygen being taken to the bathroom in a wheelchair, since Dylan was told I might not make it. But also three years since we put our middle fingers up to a CAPS diagnosis and the shoddy odds of survival that offer and three years since I came home and we began life as a family.

Which makes it two years since we got married! Finally! The best day of our lives, so incredibly full of happiness and love. And two years since we found out that a baby boy would be joining our family (oops! But also yay!). Two years since we took Alexandra abroad for the first time.

And a year since Max Llewellyn Arturs was born. A year since the days of NICU and operations and ventilators and medicine and nurses and so many ups and downs. A year since we brought him home and settled into our new life together. A month since the turn of the year, bringing with it the hope of a calm and peaceful 2018!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

No Two Are The Same

I read a really interesting Instagram post from Poppy Dinsey the other day – she’s got newborn twin boys (who are ADORABLE) and she wrote about how fascinating it was that they were so different when they’re being raised exactly the same way, at exactly the same time. I think it’s very easy to place a massive focus on what we as parents are doing when it comes to raising the children, and to almost forget that the child also has a say in how they’ll turn out. Some of it has got to be nature rather than nurture, right?
So many of us are obsessed with whether our baby will be a fussy eater, whether they’ll sleep through the night, whether they’ll have colic or reflux or any number of other common tiny person ailments. We read baby books and consult others who are further along in their parenting journey, and worry and fret constantly about how we’re bringing them up. And yet from day one they have their own little personality, very quickly they have likes and dislikes. And I guess part of the joy of parenting is discovering their little quirks? (Unless their quirks are just enjoying crying ALL the time).
Certainly for me, it’s very true that you can have two children who can be really different. And while no doubt there are some things we’ve probably changed in terms of our approach this time round, like maybe being more relaxed or caring less about whether it’s ‘okay’ to rock the baby to sleep, some of it is definitely influenced by them.
Cuddles is the area that springs to mind when I talk about this subject. Now, you could say my babies had very different experiences when it comes to cuddling. Alexandra had hardly any with me in the first few months of her life, although clearly had plenty with other people, and as a result whenever I tried to get her to lie on my chest or snuggle up with me later on down the line, she normally tried to head-butt me and squirm away as fast as possible. Max was in an incubator for a lot of the first two weeks of his life, so whenever we had the chance he was out and having cuddles. Now at nearly nine months old, I still spend a lot of time cuddling him. He likes to be rocked to sleep if he’s overtired or teething or just because. We are making progress with Alex though and she now asks for cuddles before bed! And sometimes she runs up to us and throws her arms around our knees or gives us kisses. Very cute.
Our teething experience has also been different. Alexandra didn’t pop a tooth out until she was nearly 11 months old and hasn’t ever really struggled so aside from a couple of sleepless nights there hasn’t really been any issue. Max has had a really hard time with his – the first one popped through this week and the second is nearly there. You can tell they’re really bothering him.
Max will be on first name terms with the doctors as soon as he can talk. Alex on the other hand has been to see the GP once (for a rash that I was pretty sure was viral but wanted a second opinion on). I hope I’m not jinxing that!
And Max definitely started babbling earlier than his sister and is much more vocal. Only time will tell if that means he’ll start talking sooner!
Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Paid To Breastfeed

This child would not have earned me £200.

Have you seen the most recent news about the results of a pilot scheme which sees mothers given up to £200 to breastfeed? The five-year trial saw moms in certain parts of the country given £120 in vouchers for certain shops if they said they were breastfeeding when their baby was six weeks old, and a further £80 if they were six months on

The experts are now recommending this be rolled out in a bid to up our breastfeed rates which are, when compared to the rest of the world, pretty shocking. Now let me start by saying I’m absolutely in favour of boob milk. If you can feed your baby and they’re happy and you’re happy then great! But this idea of paying people to do it makes me absolutely fuming! Seriously. My husband mentioned this story to me a couple of hours ago and I’ve been seething about it ever since. I think it’s disgraceful to essentially punish people (by not giving them the same financial opportunities as others) for something that could be entirely out of their control.

What about the mother who desperately wants to breastfeed and has spent days, weeks or even months trying to get their baby to latch on but they just won’t? (I had a baby who had six days of INTENSIVE breastfeeding support in hospital. Every single person who worked in the hospital she was born in had a go at trying to get her to latch, and she was just useless at it bless her. She was losing weight, she was in danger of becoming jaundice again and both she and I were pretty unhappy. Should I have stuck at it and potentially endangered her health?)

What about mothers who have conditions which mean they can’t breastfeed, or who are on medication that prevents them from doing so safely? Shall we just encourage people to delay their chemo for six months so they can get an Argos voucher? Or come off their antidepressants at the most vulnerable time of their life so they can pick up something nice from Debenhams?

What about those for whom breastfeeding, or the thought of doing so, has a completely negative effect on their mental health? I am absolutely all for breastfeeding where possible, but if it’s going to make you poorly doing it (or trying to do it) then you have to think about the long term health of yourself and your baby because clearly if you’re unwell that’s going to have an impact on them.

What about those who have to return to work really quickly after having their baby to support their family, perhaps if they’re not eligible for maternity pay or can’t afford to live on it, if dad isn’t around or is unable to work? Yes ideally you’d work somewhere where it would be possible to continue to breastfeed or express but we all know that’s not always feasible.

What about those who are simply too physical unwell to breastfeed? ‘Sorry you were in a coma six weeks after your baby was born but you REALLY should have tried harder to keep feeding her. No voucher for you!’ Yes, it’s extreme, but it does happen. I have heard SO many stories in the last two years about women who have been pushed to the brink physically by carrying and birthing their child so for them, whilst a lovely year-long breastfeeding journey that came to a end naturally when baby decided to wean would have been ideal, it’s just not possible to do it.

I can think of so many more examples where mom may really want to breastfeed but not be able to get to that six month, or even six week, mark. It may be easy to look at it as a simple choice of ‘I want to breastfeed’ or ‘I want to formula feed’ but I think in the majority of cases it’s much more complicated than that.

I also slightly object to the thought that we may need to give financial incentives to people. We’ve all seen the facts, breastfeeding has many benefits. If it works then it’s great (and let’s face it, you’re already getting the financial benefit of not buying formula or bottles or sterilising equipment), but you should want to do it because you’re aware of the advantages not because you’ve seen a new coat you’d like to buy with the vouchers.

Why aren’t we putting that money towards educating people about the benefits of breastfeeding?

Why aren’t we putting that money towards having more support for people who desperately want to breastfeed but can’t?

My other questions are: what about combi feeding? We seem to concentrate so much on the whole BF/FF debate but do you still get the money if you’re combi feeding like we are? Do you get a percentage of the money depending how much breast milk your baby has?

And who’s checking whether these people actually are breastfeeding? Have we got spies sitting in the local Starbucks checking who’s got a boob out? Or hiding in people’s wheelie bins peeking through their window to check if they’re sneakily making up a bottle of formula?

What a truly sad state of affairs if the only way to drive up breastfeeding statistics is to throw a bit of cash at people!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

23 Months and 4 Months

This is the penultimate month of joint updates! I’ll carry on updating you on Max every month but I’ll revert to twice a year for Alexandra (otherwise I’ll end up being one of those moms ‘oh yes she’s 628 months old’).


We’re still getting new words pretty much every day. In fact we totalled up how many words she knows (ones she’s used multiple times) and it came to around 90 which we were surprised by! She’s still not attempting many two-word sentences aside from ‘mommy do’ but she manages to make her meaning known with the vocal she has so I don’t think she’s that fussed about putting words together.

Talking of words, ‘no’ is still a firm favourite and we’re getting a lot of strops and tantrums. Alexandra is the most pleasant, cheerful child most of the time but she likes to decide what she’s doing and eating 100 per cent of the time so trying to change her nappy at the wrong time or get her in the car if she doesn’t want to go is met with strong resistance to say the least!

Animals are still a firm love and they capture her attention all the time. She went on a donkey ride recently which she loved and she also loves picking out stories featuring animals (if they have moons and stars in too then double bonus!).

Alex has now had all her settling in sessions in the toddler room at nursery and moves up next Tuesday. She’s not in the least bit bothered about the change!


Max hasn’t actually been weighed since the last update as he’s allowed monthly weigh ins now so that’ll happen when we go and see his paediatrician next week. I estimate he’s at least the heavy end of 11lbs if not 12lbs. He’s now mostly wearing 0-3m clothes but he does now fit into some of his 3-6m stuff which is good as we had lots of dungaree shorts and rompers in that size so it’s nice to get some use out of them before the summer ends!

The doctors are fairly confident that the anomaly in Max’s brain is just that rather than a bleed so they’re not too concerned about its effects and will rescan him in six months to get another look at the affected blood vessel. However there is worry about his diaphragm, with an X-ray showing it’s moved back up on the right side. Again he’ll be checked in six months to see what’s happening with his lung then but we have to keep an eye on his breathing in the meantime.

Most people say you’d never have any idea of the health issues he’s had. Max is the happiest, smiliest little boy and chats away all the time! We honestly couldn’t ask for a more good-natured baby (although today’s he’s been grumpy but that’s because he had his jabs yesterday so I can understand that).

He’s now having 5oz bottles at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm with the first four being expressed milk and the last one being Neocate formula. For the last two weeks he’s been sleeping through the night which is absolutely lovely. I don’t want to say he’s cracked sleeping through in case he goes back to waking up but actually when he wakes he’s not crying for food and will happily lie in his Moses basket for a bit. Or sometimes he doesn’t get up til about half 8 so it’s not as if he’s starving in the morning!

See you next month when the big one will be 2!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

22 Months And Three Months

I hope they always like each other this much.

As always, I’m back with a monthly update on both the children. Time marches on so they’re 22 months and three months now and both growing so well.


Just two months away from her second birthday and Alex’s vocabulary has exploded. She’s much more willing now to repeat words you say which results in her attempting words like sausages and purple. Her particular favourite phrases are ‘see you soon’ ( said more like see soon so as a result I’ve started saying see soon in a really chirpy little voice to people), ta ta, ta da and of course no is used all the time in our house. She has occasionally started saying yes though!

It’s animal noises a plenty and she’s a firm fan of anything that roars (lion, tiger, dinosaur) as well as doing the best pig impression I’ve genuinely ever heard.

On the subject of animals, she still absolutely loves them and loved having a trip to the zoo this weekend. We also went to a farm in Wales where you could feed the animals and she spent so long with the goats feeding and stroking them bless her.

She’s just had a great report from nursery and will be starting her settling in sessions in the toddler room from next month. I’m not sure I’m ready for her to make the leap! I think she’ll cope better than me with the change.

Some exciting teeth news – all of her four canines have broken through in the last few weeks plus at least one of the back molars. I need to have another look soon but at the very most we’ve got three to go! We’ve been so lucky with teething as I know other children who’ve really suffered but she’s been largely unaffected which is great.

Alexandra loves her little brother and is mostly wonderful with him, although of course there are odd moments of jealousy and being silly. Overall she definitely knows how to throw a strop but when she’s not doing that she’s an absolute delight – eager to learn, confident, funny, loving.


Max is doing so fantastically well and we’re so proud as we really didn’t think he’d have progressed this well at three months.

At his last weigh in he was 10lb 3 and gaining nicely so they’re now happy for him to be weighed monthly rather than weekly. He’s also got longer and his head circumference has grown which are all really positive signs for his development.

He’s been struggling with reflux which we knew was likely to happen due to his hernia. But with some medication, putting his mattress on a slant and letting him nap on his front in the afternoon (I know you’re meant to keep them on their back but he’s SO much more settled that way) he’s been just about coping.

Despite everything going on, he’s got such a lovely nature and we’re getting plenty of smiles from him now along with some cooing. He smiles the most for Alexandra and you can tell he thinks she’s great!

He’s in 0 to 3 clothes now which is good progress although some stuff is still way too big for him.

Medically, his FPIES and CDH are completely under control so they’re just doing more checks on his brain but other than that he’s continuing to impress the doctors. His paediatrician remarked on his double chin last time we went for an appointment – I’d be offended if someone pointed mine out but in Max’s case the doctor was thrilled to see it!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

A Labour Of Love


I want to start this post by saying a massive congratulations to my sister Henrietta and her other half Ben on the birth of their son Zachary. He made his grand entrance last Friday and I could not be prouder or happier! I am so excited to be an aunty and to watch the relationship between Alexandra and Zachary as the cousins grow up together.

Henrietta being in labour has reminded me of something: I am terrible at waiting. Even more so when it’s for something as important as a baby.

I’m the kind of person who is always early, I’ll get the train before the train before the one I need to be on, I’ll hang around for ages waiting for people, I’ll set my alarm super early if I know I need to be out (this is counterbalanced by Dylan who lives in a different time zone to anyone else in the world, his family actually look puzzled and shocked if he manages to get somewhere on time). If someone’s coming round I hover by the window waiting for them. I can’t help it.

So transfer that knowledge about me to the situation last week: Henrietta went into hospital on Tuesday morning, Zachary was born on Friday morning. A whole three days. Now clearly this experience was about three gazillion times worse for her than me as she actually had to do the whole ‘pushing a baby out your hoo har’ business. But at some points I genuinely felt like I’d rather go through labour again than be waiting for the news! At least during my own labour I knew what was going on (most the time. Pethadine is wonderful). During this one I had no clue.

I tried not to be that person that texts and calls every three seconds for an update because clearly that’s about the most annoying thing you could do. But I couldn’t help myself. If I hadn’t heard anything for a few hours I normally ended up messaging my mom who was one of her birthing partners.

I spent the whole three days jumping every time the phone went and then getting sorely disappointed when it was only Pizza Hut texting me about their latest deals (it’s always damn Pizza Hut even when you’ve opted out of their messages a dozen times and you have no clue how they even have your number). Then when I knew she was in active labour it was even worse! Having been through a labour myself it made it all the more nerve wracking for me, knowing much more than I ever did pre-Alexandra about all the potential pitfalls and complications.

But I guess those three days of being on edge made the good news even more sweet and all of a sudden I felt like the whole world had lifted off my shoulders! And getting to see him on his first day in the world was amazing, plus he was born on our nan’s 84th birthday so that is truly special indeed. It’s like it was meant to be.

Harriet and Alexandra x