Becoming A Mother Then Adapting To Two

There’s always a lot of talk on ‘mommy forums’ about what’s harder – the leap from no children to one, or from one to two (obviously higher as well but I have no experience of that and the thought of four/five children is a little hive-inducing to say the least).

Personally, the leap from being childless to having a baby was huge. It completely tilted my world on its axis and made me think, behave and feel totally differently about pretty much everything. I think that may have been amplified by the fact I hadn’t been with Dylan for very long (Alexandra was born 13 months after we began officially dating, although we had known each other for years beforehand so he wasn’t a stranger!) so in the space of little over a year I had gone from single journalist, living in a house share, doing pretty well what I wanted with my life, seeing friends ALL the time – to being engaged, living with my partner and now having a brand new baby.

Of course, add a two and a half month hospital stay into the mix, the emotional aftermath of an intensive care stay and the long recovery and struggle to get my body back to as ‘normal’ as possible, and things were never going to be easy. I was so incredibly lucky, especially given a history of mental health issues, to not get post natal depression or become unwell with anxiety and depression again. But it was hard.

Like any new mom, I had days where I just thought it’d be easier to stay in the house than try and transport this whole other person and all the things she needed around. I had so many days where I just wanted to hand Alexandra over to her dad when he got home from work and let him deal with the bath and bedtime routine to enable me to have some space and time.

I didn’t really wear make up or do my hair much, a real change from before when I was working and had nice nails and made an effort most days. I would scroll through past instagram pictures and feel a bit nostalgic for that old person. And then I got to a point where I thought you know what, I can get some of that back. I can make time to wear make up or do something I want to do. But I’m never going to get it all back. I’m never going to be Harriet first anymore, I’m always going to be Alexandra’s mom first.

And so as our bond grew I tried to relish it a bit more, to enjoy my new life rather than comparing it to my old one. And I still had days where it was rough – it’s NEVER going to be easy when you’re a parent. This was our new normal.

Then the world tilted again, we found out we were expecting our baby boy. Max’s arrival certainly came with its own set of problems. No one can watch their child on a ventilator or get diagnosed with a condition with a 50 per cent mortality rate or go down for surgery at 11 days old and not feel like a different person.

But crucially this time round I didn’t have to learn to be a mom. I was already well practised in the practical side of things – the bath time routine, the nappy changing, the changing bag packing. There were places I simply had to be with Alexandra like nursery or Tumble Tots or just getting out the house for a walk to stop her chucking all her crayons on the floor for the 95th time that hour.

So it was no longer a case of sitting there thinking about how different life was and building up the confidence to not think someone in Starbucks is going to judge me if my kid starts crying. It was all about adapting to being outnumbered. I’m not going to lie, two instead of one is an adjustment. You have to think about the logistics of everything – and sometimes you just have to let one of them cry.

If you’ll excuse the language, I said to Dylan the other day: sometimes one of them is being a dick, sometimes both of them are being dicks, sometimes neither of them are being dicks. If no one is being a dick it’s great, if one of them is then it’s manageable, if both of them are then it’s terrible!

Do I feel differently being a mother of two? Yes absolutely, but mostly in positive ways (except the fact my hair has genuinely started going grey). I’ve been finding time to do my make up most days and indulging in as much TV that I want to watch when Alexandra is napping to counteract all the CBeebies I watch these days. I haven’t yet managed to use any of the bath bombs I got for my birthday in early July but I will at some point and right now a cuddle with Max or reading a book with Alex is much better than a soak in the tub.

There is something so magical about watching your children interact with each other and I feel so content that we’ve created two babies who will always have each other, who will grow up side by side and – although they may fight and may not get on as adults – will always have that sibling bond that you can’t get from anyone else in life. To me that’s a fair trade for any of the sanity, hair or free time I may have lost by having two children.

The leap from zero to one was monumental and probably the biggest change I’ve ever made in my life. But in a lot of ways one to two felt natural and the learning curve this time was less steep. Life with two is busy, manic, stressful, nonstop but I have at least one moment in every day where I look at them and feel so so glad that we have two. It just feels right.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Two Under Two: Real Survival Tips Part Two

I’m back after a small hiatus during which I was in sole charge of two tiny beings for eight days. I’ll talk more about that soon but for now I’d like to share the second half of my survival tips for two under two (first part here):

– Be proud. It’s so easy to beat yourself up because your oldest ate something that wasn’t organically grown and picked by monks singing Mozart, or whatever it is that we’re meant to be doing with our food these days, or the baby has watched more television in one day than your toddler was allowed to watch in their entire first year on earth. But having two children, especially two so close together, is really tough. So try (and the irony of this advice is that I find it ridiculously tough to actually do this) to feel proud when you get to bedtime and you haven’t sold, broken or dropped either of them. Whether it’s getting out for an hour, teaching one of them something new or simply just remembering to feed and change them – there will be something positive that you’ve done that day if you think about it hard enough!

– Be your kind of mom. Basically do it your way. If you want to hire a nanny, babywear, helicopter parent, attachment parent, send them off to boarding school the second they’re old enough, never let them out your site, as long as you’re not harming them in any way (kind of goes without saying) then it’s all good. Having your first baby is a steep learning curve and you generally get advice from every person in your life. By the time that baby becomes a toddler you’ve probably sifted out the bad and ugly advice and only taken on the good. So when you’re doing it second time around – and so soon after the first! – you should absolutely own it and just go with your own flow. Certain things my friends, family and random strangers I follow on social media (creepy) do aren’t for me; I’m sure those people are looking at what I’m doing being all HOW MANY times has she taken them to soft play this week? WHY won’t she let the baby go to nana and Grandad’s on his own yet? WHY do the kids not go to bed at 6pm? But you know what, it’s working for us right now. That’s all that matters.

– Last piece of advice: enjoy it. Look at the two humans you created laughing and smiling at each other and savour the moment. I’m not going to get all hashtag blessed on you but despite its many, many difficulties, rearing two monkeys is incredible because you get to watch their relationship bloom and blossom. Yes sometimes they might be smacking the shit out of each other or trying to roll the baby off the sofa – a new trick in our house – but sometimes you’ll watch them giggling together and your heart will be so incredibly full.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Two Under Two: The Real Survival Tips Part One

Way back in May, I wrote a somewhat tongue in cheek post about survival tips for those of us lucky enough to have experience the mind-boggle that is two under two. Now that we’ve lived the experience (for five whole months and three days) and come out the other side relatively unscathed (or at least all still alive), I’d like to talk a little more seriously about the things that have got us through the experience. [I’ve now half written this and realised it’s going to be long as so I’m going to split it into two posts] If anyone has similar tips about how to deal with a two year old and a small one too (he’s really not a newborn anymore is he?!) I’m all ears.

– Organisation is king. You will genuinely never leave the house if you’re not organised – or you will but you’ll end up going mental ripping apart your changing bag wondering why the hell there’s no bibs in there and whether you can fit the baby in his sister’s nappies or the other way round. I’ve posted before about our routine and how much prep I do through the day to get ready for the next stage. Do whatever works for you. Get night clothes laid out on the bed ready to change it to. Have tomorrow’s clothes picked out nice and early. Spend five minutes restocking the bag with wipes, raisins (you can actually get fined by the parent police if you don’t have at least one box of raisins for your toddler in your bag at any time) etc every morning. Just make sure what you’re doing does work. I read somewhere having a second quadruples your workload rather than doubles it but don’t let everything get on top of you! Just like having your first, at one point it’ll become second nature to know how much stuff you need each day and how much time each part of your routine takes.

– Don’t let the laundry win. It’s easy to let it overwhelm you and especially when you’ve got two under two because the little one is producing a horrendous volume of soiled clothes between all the pooing, sicking and dribbling they do, just as the toddler is becoming messier than you ever dared imagine. So instead of sitting mournfully looking at the basket wondering how the hell you’ve got an extra 43 loads of washing a week when babies wear such tiny clothes, just get some done. Some people find it easier to do one a day, I tend to go for doing two or three loads every couple of days. Maybe make it your partner’s job – not the only job they do obviously but one of! So they just whack a load on before work or something like that. Just don’t get to the point where you’re using socks to wipe the baby’s face and turning your underwear inside out. No one needs that.

– Crying is okay. There’s two aspects to this point. Firstly it’s okay to have a little sob yourself sometimes, let the hormones out, do an ugly cry and wonder how the eff you’re going to get through the rest of the day. Secondly, there’s one of you (assuming you’re at home with babies and your other half is at work) and two of them. It would be lovely if they co-ordinated themselves so they cried at different times but they don’t bother to help you out in that matter. Sometimes both of them will be crying at the same time and you can’t beat yourself up about having to leave one of them at it for a while. You just need a ‘who needs me more’ quick evaluation system. If toddler is crying because they want a drink or snack and baby is crying because they need feeding, changing and then cuddling to sleep then clearly it’s going to be easier to spend one minute getting a snack and a drink from the kitchen to keep your toddler happy to then turn your attention to the baby as the feed and cuddle will definitely take longer!

That’s all for now but I’ll be back soon with the second half of this post!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby Two: Five Months Old

Our lovely Maxi is five months old this weekend – this is the first time I’ve done an update on him separately from his sister’s but she turns two next week so I’ll be doing a special post or two on that and then I’ll be reducing the frequency of her updates, probably to just two a year, although I’ll clearly still mention what she’s up to in other posts I write.

But back to Max, out of interest I just looked back at Alexandra’s five month update (not in a ‘comparing to see which child is better’ way but to see what she was up to at this point). She was majorly interested in hands and feet – Max hasn’t found his feet yet but has spent most of the month chomping away on his hands.

Their routines are roughly the same except she slept in a little later in the morning and went to bed ever so slightly later – and she was having a whopping 210ml five times a day, compared to Max who has 150ml. However it’s importantly to remember Alexandra’s feeds were all formula and only one of his is, and everything I’ve read suggests breastfed babies consume less. Plus he’s smaller too.

So what is he doing this month? There’s a lot of chatting and smiling. He loves to interact and is a real people watcher. He’s generally very contented! Max is trying to roll but hasn’t managed it yet and his head control is getting stronger by the day.

His doctor at our local hospital is very pleased with him and we’ve now got a weaning plan in place, which I shall share the details of once we get to that point.

Overall he is just the most delightful little thing to have around and he’s completely added to our family on the best way possible!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Our Evening Routine With Two Under Two

If you’ve read my previous posts (morning routine here and daytime routine here), you’ll know I’ve been sharing what a typical day looks like for us, if there is such thing as ‘typical’ with a 23 month toddler and a four month baby. Do pop and read the past posts to find out more about earlier in our day as this one exclusively focuses on the evening routine and how we go from having two wide awake kids to two hopefully soundly sleeping ones!

Prep:

The first thing I always do is make sure I have five minutes during the late afternoon/early evening to nip upstairs and prepare everything ready for their bedtime. I just find it so much easier if all the bits and bobs I need are laid out on the bed, especially if Dylan is running late and I’m starting the routine by myself.

We get both babies ready for bed in our room which works really well as it means we can all sit together on the bed and have some much-needed family time. Perhaps when they’re older they might separate into their own rooms but for now this arrangement is lovely for the four of us. So on the bed I lay out Max’s sleeping bag unzipped, his open babygrow for the night on top of that and then a nappy folded open on top of that – so everything is ready just to be popped on as quickly as possible. Then next to that there’s always a space with the wipes and empty nappy sack. Then next to that there’s Alexandra’s sleeping bag, pyjamas and nappy.

On the bed post we have talcum powder, Sudocrem and clippers if I’m planning on cutting anybody’s nails. On the bed there’s always at least one book. Then on the nightstand there’s a spare Max sized nappy, nappy sack, muslin cloth and two bibs. The curtains are closed and the lamp on with the main light off then in Alex’s room the blinds are drawn and her fairy lights are on.

If they’re having a bath then I’ll put his bath seat and the bath toys in ready plus have both their towels on the radiator, the shampoo and flannels next to the bath and a stool for comfort for whoever’s washing them.

All of that sounds exhausting but it’s honestly about two minutes’ work now I know what I’m doing with it all.

Dinnertime:

Max has his penultimate bottle at 5pm and then he will normally be in his bouncer, on his play mat or propped up on some cushions with a toy until we’re ready to go upstairs. Around this time I like to get his last bottle ready as this is a formula one (he has one formula and four expressed bottles a day so this is the only one I have to prepare rather than pump!) and he always has his daily vitamins mixed into this one just because it’s easy to remember to pop the vitamins in while I mix the formula. It then goes into the fridge as he’s happy to have cold milk (and does most the time as I obviously store my milk in there too!).

Then it’s time for Alexandra to have her dinner, which is always at the table on her booster chair – we like to make sure the tv’s off during dinner. If Dylan isn’t home yet I’ll usually eat with Alex then save his ready to heat up later. We then take her water bottle and his dummy, bottle and last dose of ranitidine (anti-reflux medicine) upstairs ready to wind down for the night.

Bathtime:

We only bath the children every other night unless they’re spectacularly filthy (let’s be honest I’m talking about toddler not baby here!). Max has his hair washed first then he goes in his towel into the bedroom to get into his night clothes while his sister has a little longer playing then washing her hair and cleaning her teeth. If they’re not having a bath then we obviously just skip this part and get them changed ready for bed.

Bedtime:

Alex loves reading books so we normally do one but more often two – she’s at the stage where she doesn’t particularly want to follow the plot but would much prefer to point out all the things she can see on the pages. She also likes to show Max different books which is great as it’s never too early to get them involved!

I’ll be honest there is normally A LOT of laughter, running around, hide and seek, jumping and other activities that wouldn’t happen at bedtime if I was solely in charge. But for Dylan it might be the only half an hour he sees the children in the day so he certainly makes the most of it! (He’s normally the one running around). While I always panic it’ll make her too excited to go to bed, I think the manic half an hour actually helps get rid of her last bit of energy for the day!

Then at some point (could be as early as 7.15pm or as late as 8.30pm depending how tired she is), we all do kisses, cuddles and high fives then Dylan takes Alexandra into her own room where they have a crazy routine involving hitting each other on the head with a balloon, counting in Italian and saying goodbye to the blinds?! It’s very funny to listen to and I can never replicate it properly when I’m in charge of bedtime on the odd occasion Dylan isn’t there (Alex is never too amused when I’m brought on as bedtime substitute!). Then he leaves the room and she’ll go to sleep, sometimes with a bit of shouting ‘ta ta. Night. Bye’.

In the meantime, I’ll have been giving Max his last bottle in our room and then we normally have a bit of a cuddle and he goes down into his Moses basket in there. He’ll also settle himself to sleep although sometimes I do cuddle him to sleep – just not too often so he doesn’t lose the ability to self settle!

And that’s normally the last we hear of either of them until the morning. It’s then time for me to express, Dylan to have his dinner and we both make sure everything’s tidy although that normally takes two minutes because I try and tidy throughout the day.

Writing all that down does make it seem like it’s a really rigid routine – but things do vary each day and the timings also alter depending what we’re doing and how tired the children are. I guess we’ve just found what works and doesn’t over the last four months of adapting to two under two – so these are the things that help us get both of our little sleepy bugs to drift off!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Our Daytime Routine With Two Under Two

Trying to change nappies normally descends into chaos!

If you missed it, earlier in the week I talked about our morning routine. Today I’m focusing on what happens after that! Daytimes massively vary in this house from ones where we seem to be on the go all the time to very sedate ones!

As I’ve mentioned in the morning routine post, Alexandra goes to nursery on Tuesday and Thursday mornings which means she’s there from 8am to 12.45pm and has her breakfast and lunch with them. On a Tuesday my sister and my nephew generally come over so I’ll spend a bit of time in the morning with Max and then they’ll arrive. On Thursday mornings, I use the time to clean the house – completing tasks like hoovering and dusting which are infinitely harder with two kids around! On those afternoons we don’t tend to plan much, as Alex never naps at nursery so she normally wants to sleep when she gets home.

Other days can involve anything including soft play, going to the park, play dates, walks, visiting my grandparents etc. Or if we stay at home then there’s colouring, lego, playing in the garden, so many different toys and (I’m not going to lie) CBeebies to keep us busy.

Feeding and expressing:

Max feeds every three hours at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm and then tends to have a nap from about 9.30am and then maybe two long naps in the afternoon, all depending where we are and what we’re up to.

Expressing is limiting me a little so I tend to only go out for a few hours at a time. At the moment I need to express six times in 24 hours to get enough for four bottles, so that tends to be around 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm then twice overnight. I do vary the times if we’ve got plans but do my best to get all six in during the day.

In terms of Alex, she eats at around 8am and 6pm and her lunchtime meal can be anywhere between 12pm and 2pm depending on when she naps – which happens (hopefully) once a day for (hopefully) at least an hour.

I’m sure all of this will change as Max starts weaning and needing less sleep in the day but for now that’s how we roll!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Our Morning Routine With Two Under Two

Morning pyjama buddies.

I’ve mentioned before we don’t have a strict routine for our toddler and that’s been the case for the baby too. If we end up going to bed half an hour late (or half an hour early!) it’s fine. We’re fairly flexible about all elements of the day but I guess over time you realise what works and what doesn’t work for your family and you loosely structure your day according to that. So while it’s not an exact timetable, I thought I’d share our 2 under 2 daily routine.

[I was going to write this as one post about our entire day but I realised there was quite a lot to say so I’m going to split it up into our morning routine, daytime routine and evening routine so no one goes blind trying to read it all in one go.]

So let’s start at the beginning (because it’s a very good place to start). Our mornings:

Tuesdays and Thursdays:

These are the days she goes to nursery and Alexandra has to be there for 8am so we tend to focus on getting her ready and Max will be sorted afterwards. I find it helpful to get up and ready while Alex is still sleeping if possible – and she does tend to need to be woken up on nursery days. Her outfit is normally left on the spare bed and the bag packed the night before (extra leggings, top and socks, sudocrem and either a sun hat and sun cream or a coat depending on the weather). It’s then left by the front door alongside her shoes to make it easier to get out.

Because she has breakfast at nursery and it’s only about four minutes away in the car we can get away with getting her up as late as 7.40am.

Wednesdays:

During term time, Alexandra does Tumble Tots which involves getting all three of us out of the house for 9.10am to be there ready to start at half past. Again I find it really useful to pack the changing bag the night before (if I was just going to TT and coming straight home then two nappies each, wipes, couple of nappy sacks and then just before we left water and a snack for Alex and milk for Max) and to get myself ready beforehand.

Then it’s downstairs for breakfast for Alexandra and I’ll feed and change Max while that’s taking place. Then change Alex and run around tidying up (if we were running late I’d leave this til after) and making sure I’d got everything before leaving.

Other days:

On days when we don’t have any commitments, it’s a much more laid back affair which can see us take a few hours to get ready. The priority is always changing Max’s nappy, even if he stays in his babygrow for a while, and giving Alex breakfast. She sits on a plastic mat in our lounge watching CBeebies for breakfast – which is something my husband Dylan started but it works really well in keeping her occupied until she’s finished and I’m ready to change her. Alex has cereal and/or toast with fruit and milk and/or water to drink every morning.

Max likes to have his first bottle of the day at 8/8.30am but is generally happy to wait even if he’s been up since 7ish (which is the earliest he wakes) so it’s a good opportunity to change the water and Milton tablets in the sterilising tub, do any leftover washing up from the previous day and get ready myself.

I try to bring down a stack of nappies and bibs plus a muslin cloth and we also keep our changing mat, nappy bags and wipes downstairs so that I don’t have to run up and downstairs too many times in the day. Once Max is changed I’ll turn my attention to Alex and then clear up her breakfast things.

Phew! It’s not until you write it all down that you realise there are a lot of things involved in getting two under two ready for the day! I imagine things will get harder once Max is weaning then easier once they’re both able to feed and dress themselves. Although then the nagging about getting shoes on and brushing teeth will amplify!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Where To Buy Baby Essentials

So many nappies to buy, so many options!

Everyone has their ideas about where their Holy Grail Baby Product Mecca is and often this is based on numerous factors including the price you’re willing to pay for certain things. The way I see it is I’d rather not shell out on something costing the earth if I can go down the street and get it for a fraction of the price, so we’ve always gone for reasonable and practical when picking out items. Of course there are the big one-off purchases like prams and cots but there are also the day to day costs of owning a child and there are SO many options when it comes to solutions to mop up sick, contain wee and all the other things you need to do daily.

Nappies:

Initially with Alexandra we only ever used Aldi nappies. They came heavily recommended by pretty much everyone we knew who had a child and they’ve never really let us down (aside from the odd poonami which NOTHING in this world could have contained). Recently she’s worn Asda nappies and although they don’t leak I find they sag horrendously as soon as there’s a little bit of wee in them (she’s a size five).

However with Max I actually prefer Asda nappies (he’s currently a size two). I think they fit him better although Aldi’s don’t leak and are perfectly fine. We’ve never really used Pampers except for when we’ve had promotional freebies but to be honest I can’t really see the benefit of using them when the cheaper alternatives work so well.

Nappy bags:

We used the peach coloured ones from Bodycare for a long time and I thought I was getting a bargain at 65p for a pack of I think 200. However Dylan recently discovered Asda’s mint green versions. They’re not fragranced but they’re just as thick and we find they contain two nappies easily (I try and change everyone at the same time!) and they’re about 30p for 300.

Wipes:

Aldi all the way here. The Mamia fragrance free ones are excellent and have never caused either baby any issues (although neither of them have particularly sensitive skin). I also use them to take off my make up because really who has time for all that cleansing and toning business? I hate the texture of Huggies wipes, Johnsons are fine but pricey and no better than Aldi’s and Asda’s are okay but I’m definitely a Mamia fan here.

Steriliser:

With Alexandra we bought a Tommee Tippee sterilising set on offer for about £65 which contained a few accessories too. It was fine and I didn’t really have any complaints about it. This time round while Max was in hospital I was cold water sterilising and we’ve carried this on at home. I didn’t think anything could be more simple than using an electric steriliser but this is! Literally pop a Milton tablet in five litres of water and that lasts for 24 hours so you can just throw in all your bottles after you’ve washed them and they’re safe to use after 15 minutes. The tablets work out at a couple of pounds for a month’s worth and we bought a big Tupperware box rather than an official tank so it was even cheaper.

Clothes:

This is where you can go completely overboard! We’ve been very lucky in that friends and family have passed on things their children no longer wear and about 50 per cent at least of Max’s wardrobe was first seen on his cousin Zachary. However if I’m buying for the kids I’m a huge fan of Asda (so good for leggings which are going to get ruined at nursery anyway! Plus they have sales really frequently. We also love their coats for boys), H&M (particularly for tops for Alexandra and newborn baby leggings which have feet in them – so useful to save constantly putting socks back on the baby when they inevitably fall off every five seconds), Primark (especially for vests which are going to get stained, pooed on, worn frequently. You don’t feel guilty about throwing them away when they only cost a couple of pounds! We’ve also had some lovely dresses for Alex from there and her 2016 winter coat which she got compliments on all the time).

Shoes:

I’m an utter stickler when it comes to shoes and Alexandra has only ever worn Clarks shoes. Yes they’re not cheap but the fact they measure her up every time and you know you’re getting a sturdy pair of shoes which are going to support her as she grows is the key thing. When she’s a bit older I’m sure she’ll have some cheapy shoes for playing in but for now she’s a Clarks toddler.

Toiletries:

We don’t use many products on the babies but we do have shampoo and baby bath from Aldi – as I mentioned before neither of them have sensitive skin but we really like the Mamia products and they’re much cheaper and just as nice as Johnson’s. We have talcum powder from anywhere as it’s all very similar! (Alex has ‘snow’ after a bath but Max doesn’t yet) and we use Sudocrem on her bum if there’s any redness (Max hasn’t had any yet but we will use it if and when he does).

Food:

Make your own! I was astounded when I looked at the price of baby food jars in the shops when it came time to wean Alexandra. So I bought different vegetables every week, steamed and blended them and created flavour combinations, froze any excess ready to defrost when needed. Same with fruit once she’d started eating that. Then after a while I simply blended down whatever we were having for dinner, making it chunkier over time until she didn’t need it blended. I’ll definitely be doing the same this time round – I’m sure we saved hundreds by not buying any jars or pouches!

Hope that’s useful or interesting to anyone looking at where to buy all those things you need to sustain a baby. I think it’s just confirmed to me that I need to buy shares in Asda and Aldi!

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’).

Alexandra:

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:

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

Leaving The Kids

Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with these adorable things?

If there’s one thing you learn when you become immersed in the world of motherhood (mothering? Motherdom?) apart from how to cut grapes correctly and how to poo in front of an audience, is how different we all are when it comes to our preferences and the way we bring/drag up our offspring.

Never is this more true than when it comes to leaving the kids. And by that I mean having someone babysit them while you have a break, not abandoning them on the steps of a local church when they’re being little shits. There are some women for whom dropping them off at the gates on their first day at school will be the longest they’ve left them for the entirety of their existence. For others, they’re jetting off on a kids-free holiday before the cord’s been cut.

I like to think I’m somewhere in between although I do veer more towards the ‘I made these children so I might as well spend some time with them’ camp.

With Alexandra we were forced to spend a lot of time apart in the first three months while I spent all my time lying around contracting near-fatal illnesses (dramatic I know!). When I finally made it out of the hospital, Dylan and I went on a couple of ‘dates’ while my mom looked after Alex and then there was a bit of a gap as I’d kind of bonded with this little thing and was happy to spend all my waking hours with her.

Then nana started having her for a couple of hours some weekends to take her to the park or to eat cake and whatever other glorious things grandmothers spoil their grandchildren doing. When I got pregnant with Max, we decided it’d be a good idea to get her used to sleeping at nana’s so she went there – and still does – perhaps every month for a sleepover. Other than that she’s had some time with my sister when I’ve been off at hospital appointments and she obviously was looked after by a few different people when Max was in hospital and I was by his bedside every day.

In terms of social events I’ve been to without her, there’s probably been a handful in her life. I went to a theatre show once, went for a morning at a spa with my sister and went out for my second hen do last summer.

Since Max has been here, I’ve spent most my time with him or both of them (Alexandra goes to nursery twice a week and that’s the longest time I spend without her normally). I haven’t yet got to the stage where I feel the need to have a break from him so apart from when he was in hospital the first time round and I slept in parent accommodation nearby, we’re pretty much together 24/7. I’ve been to the gym a couple of times and once or twice popped to the doctor’s just taking Alex with me and leaving Max with my sister.

So why am I sharing all this? I guess to promote the fact everyone is different and that’s fine. I know people with babies younger than mine who’ve been on nights out already and equally I know parents with babies older than mine who wouldn’t even dream of going to the gym for an hour at this stage (and some who would take their baby with them to the loo. I say pee in peace until they’re old enough to follow you there and ‘help’ with the loo roll in the style of an Andrex puppy).

I think you just need to have the courage of your convictions so if family ask to look after your little one and you’re not ready, then tell them ‘thanks but no thanks’. Approach them and ask weeks, months or years down the line when you ARE ready. Equally you need to respect your partner’s views when it comes to leaving the kids.

Dylan’s off on holiday in September for a week by himself (our children will be two years old and five months old at this point). He’ll have minimal, if any, phone contact with us as he’ll be diving off a boat in southern Egypt. The thought of leaving our children for an entire week brings me out in a cold sweat but the point is he’s happy to do it and so that’s fine by me. However I may decide to jet off somewhere sunny by myself when the kids are teenagers as I have a feeling I really will want some time apart from them by then!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x