Being In Charge

When Dylan told me last year he was going to go to the Dive Show for the day, I waved him off to get his train and didn’t really think anything more of it. My best friend Amanda was coming over for the day and I was looking forward to that. At some point during the afternoon, he called me. I thought it was to tell me he’d found a wetsuit but no – he’d found a holiday he wanted to go on. We had a brief chat about it and he booked it that day.

At this point we knew we were expecting Max so I knew I’d be at home with a 2 year old and a baby of roughly six months. Dylan’s been diving for a long, long time and in fact when we went abroad last year spent a couple of days under water so it wasn’t really a surprise that he was heading out by himself for just over a week.

I had a lot of negative reactions to him going with many saying they wouldn’t ‘let’ their husband go and leave them alone for 8 days. My response to that is well he’s an adult, I can’t really stop him doing anything and if I have a strop about it then he’s only going to resent me trying to stop him enjoying his hobby. Plus 51 weeks this year he’s been a hands-on dad and a great supportive husband so who am I to deny him one week where it’s just about him?!

So roll on September and I was bidding him goodbye on an early Friday morning as he headed to the airport. I of course was shitting myself. Clearly I can keep two children alive and fed for a day but the thought of also being in sole charge every night too was something else. I had an irrational fear that Max would suddenly reherniate and we’d end up in hospital again and I’d have to try and juggle caring for Alex around that (To explain that one, I am a life-long sufferer of anxiety and I am absolutely excellent at imagining the worst possible disaster scenarios all the time. I’m also a mother and that comes with a constant worry that your child may get sick, injured or blind your other child with a crayon, right?).

I think the biggest issue was the fact I knew he’d basically be out of contact for most of the week. He was on a liveboard in the middle of the Red Sea and apparently they’re not well known for the excellent wifi out there. I did manage to speak to him briefly twice I think while he was out there (once when he was about to come home), but for the rest of the week there were no phone calls to say ‘what do you fancy for dinner?’ or ‘guess what your child’s done now?’ Despite the fact we’ve spoken the majority of days since we met in September 2009, I didn’t realise how much I relied on him until that week.

Max came down with a cold which was the major complication of the week really. I had envisaged a week of dealing with toddler tantrums but in reality our oldest was excellent (she obviously had a couple of moments where she was less than golden but on the whole I can’t complain at all). However the night before Dylan went, Max transformed himself from a baby sleeping for 11 hours at night to one waking up at the slightest sound and needing patting/dummy/comfort about 50 times before the morning.

I’d get up to express, get downstairs and have to go back up to settle him down. Repeat this process about five or six times every time I went down! At first I thought it was just his cold but as that cleared I became convinced his reflux medication wasn’t working as effectively as it’s weight based and he’d put on a few pounds since it had been increased last (once it was increased he started sleeping again so I was right).

I had some help in the week – firstly staying overnight at my parents’ house which was lovely and then Amanda stopped over one of the nights.

I cried twice. And I missed Dylan A LOT. In fact I think absence made the heart grow fonder and I sure as hell appreciated everything he does a lot more in the weeks after he came home! But on the whole I kinda had my shit together and that was a nice feeling when I looked back at the end of the week and realised I’d done it.

It sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it? So many people cope on their own with children, or have partners who work away a lot. But I guess it was just a big change from us to go from having daddy around to not being able to call him. It’s definitely made me take my metaphorical hat off to anyone going it alone though!

(Oh and before I get the ‘when are you having a week away?’ comment, I’ve deferred mine until the kids are teenagers and then I will gleefully board a plane and leave Dylan to fend for himself with two feral youths!)

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby 2: Six Months Old

(You know when you think you’ve posted something then suddenly remember at 4.30am while expressing that you totally didn’t? I can still use the baby brain excuse, right?)

Tuesday was a milestone in our house as the baby turned six months. Yes, Mr Max has been around for half a year now – and what a half year it’s been!

He’s doing so well and we’re really proud of the leaps he’s taking each day and the new things he’s learning. Of course, anyone is proud whenever their child achieves something but considering how poorly he was we often look at his progress in amazement!

Weaning:

I will no doubt post many times about his weaning journey, but I can’t update you at six months without talking about food. He’s not sitting up unaided yet but we decided to try him on some solids when he turned six months to see how things go. We’re doing the traditional purée route as well as giving him some bits and bobs to try and pick up and gum and starting off with two weeks of just veg before moving on to the fun stuff like fruit and the really fun stuff (carbs).

Development:

Max is a little wriggler and he’s very confident at getting from his front to his back. He can roll from back to front but spends a lot of time on his side and somehow managing to move across the floor using a complication system of lying-down lunges and half rolls.

His head strength is much better and he’s also enjoying being sat up more, although he still needs some support with that. He’s now reaching out and grabbing toys and he LOVES bouncing in his jumparoo and being on his playmat surrounded by toys.

Routine:

It’s still 150ml bottles every three hours from 8am to 8pm roughly. He’s up any time from 7am and is the chirpiest morning person I’ve ever met. He’s just started having solids at 12pm and 6pm. Naps are variable but he tends to have one approximately 9.30am for anywhere up to an hour, then another one mid morning or early afternoon then perhaps another one before dinner.

Growth:

Max is set to be weighed next week so we’re not 100 per cent sure how much he weighs but he’s definitely gaining so that’s positive. He’s fitting most of his 3-6m tops now although a lot of them are still a little baggy. He’s about ready to go into 6-9m babygrows in the next couple of weeks and he’s also rapidly outgrowing most of his trousers. Unfortunately we either have the option of horrendously baggy waist and the right length or less likely to fall down but way too short when it comes to his trousers! He’s still very skinny and people are quite surprised when I tell them he’s six months.

We think he may be teething as there’s a lot of dribbling and hand chewing going on, but I feel like Alexandra did this too and she was nearly 11 months before her first tooth came through so we may be in for another long wait if he takes after his sister!

All in all, he is still so happy and cheery. Yes he has his grumpy moments and he cries and he grumbles (don’t we all) but if he’s fed, not tired and not in pain from his reflux then he is just the loveliest little boy. The kids do this thing where most days at least once they lie together and get the absolute giggles and just spend five minutes laughing at absolutely nothing. Looking at them and how much they love each other is honestly the best feeling and makes any and all of the hard bits of his pregnancy and the early days more than worth it. I wish I could share that moment with anyone worrying about having two babies close together!

Here’s to the next six months and all they have in store for us.

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

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

Plans for Baby 2: Routine

It’s inevitable when you’re looking at becoming a parent that you start thinking about all of the things you will (and won’t) do and what your preferred options were. Now that we’re set to become second-time parents (fourth time for Dylan, but second time together), in some ways it’s easier to plan because you know what worked and what didn’t work but you also have no idea how your baby will differ from the one you’ve already been through all of this with – you know what they say about the best laid plans!

Anyway, I thought I’d share what our plans are with Baby 2 – things like weaning, feeding etc. But first up: routine.

Routine is one of those areas where there’s such a huge variety of opinions, from people who think you should probably buy your child a calendar while they’re still in utero and plan every second of the day out to those who have no plans to introduce any kind of routine.

With Alexandra, we were much closer to the second option. Luckily, she’s a very adaptable little thing and so she’s never really thrown out by going out at different times and having different things to do on each day. She just goes with the flow and (besides getting grumpy if she hasn’t had enough sleep – don’t we all!) as such we haven’t ever had to say ‘we can’t go out in the morning because Alex needs a nap’ or anything like that.

When she was little, we let her get into a sleep pattern which happily ended up suiting all of us. It means she goes to bed a little later than most of the other toddlers we know, but that also means it’s not a problem that we generally don’t eat til half six and it gives Dylan more time with her in the evenings. She likes to nap around 11am but if we’re out or she’s at nursery she generally won’t sleep now, but then she’ll go down for longer in the afternoon.

With Baby 2 we’ll probably do the same where we try and have a less structured routine. I’ve heard a lot of people say second babies just go with the flow so that’s reassuring. Because I generally use Alexandra’s nap time to work (slash occasionally just sit and look at Instagram) it won’t matter too much if their naps don’t synchronise in the early days. Alex will carry on going to nursery two mornings a week during my maternity leave so I guess it would be good if he was asleep for at least some of that time so I can clean the house, do laundry etc but if not we will just have to work around it! I’m also hoping to use those two days to run errands that will be harder to do with a toddler AND a baby.

Overnight, it would be EXCELLENT if he decides to sleep through early on like his sister did, but part of me is expecting a horrendous sleeper to make up for how lucky we were last time. Dylan is convinced the fact that we did certain things helped Alex sleep through earlier so we will be doing them again (and I guess that will be the test of whether they had an impact or not!): those things were mainly about establishing the difference between night and day so whereas we’d talk to her and interact with her during feeds in the day, we wouldn’t really interact with her during night feeds (unless she was upset obviously! We’re not totally mean) and we’d just have the en-suite light on with the door open enough for us to see what we were doing, rather than turning a light on in the bedroom, which hopefully reinforced the message that we were being quiet and going back to sleep!

Essentially, Baby 2 will have the chance to set his own routine just like Alex did, but with the vague hope that they marry up in some sort of way otherwise I’ll be stuck in the house rotating which child is asleep at any one time! Wish me luck.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

One Year Old!

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Yesterday we celebrated Alexandra’s birthday so we are now the proud parents of a lovely one year old! As ever, here’s a post about what she’s been learning this month and where she’s at with everything. I swear I do these differently each month, sometimes as a list, sometimes as big paragraphs. Let’s go for sections each time:

Eating:
The most important thing! Since we started weaning her six months ago, she’s been a pro at trying different foods and we still haven’t found anything she point blank refuses to eat. She has three meals a day and sometimes snacks but doesn’t have a regular snack time. We dropped down to one bottle a day around 11 months and then last week we finished a box of formula (and I’d never intended for her to have formula or a bottle past one) so dropped the last bottle. It was weird seeing her drink the last one! It’s so tied in with ‘baby-hood’ that it feels like a bit of a landmark moment. She hasn’t been bothered whatsoever about this, if she wants milk in future I will give cow’s milk in a cup but she drinks so much water and has plenty of diary in her diet so I haven’t tried to force her to have any!

Playing:
She’s had lots of new toys for her birthday which she is loving! Including lots of toys for the garden such as a trampoline, sand pit, inflatable skittles, ball pool (which also comes inside) and a pop up tent. She’s also had lots of interactive ones like talking teddies, a tea set, activity table and some incredibly cute cuddly toys too! Alex absolutely loves playing with balloons! And her favourite non-toy toys are the radiator caps still, any cupboard she can get to and – bizarrely – coat hangers (she still hasn’t offered to do the ironing though?)

Routine:
Napping has got SO much better in the last month. She’s now going down in her cot upstairs rather than down in the lounge with me which is meaning she’s generally doing two one-hour naps a day. This has helped me with planning my days so much more! And has made her much less grumpy in the day. So generally she’s up about 8, breakfast around 9, nap around 10, lunch about 12/1, maybe another nap in the afternoon at some point, sometimes if she’s super tired a third shorter nap about 5, dinner about half 6, bed at half 8.

Talking:
She only says mama to me and dada to Dylan so we’re pretty convinced she knows what they mean. She’s also getting there with nana and a couple of times she’s said baba to her little cousin. Other ‘words’ like yeah and no happen at random times so I’m not counting them yet!

Walking:
Alex is still slightly unsteady on her feet when she’s standing but she’s doing it all the time now and is good at pulling herself up (sometime going from sitting to standing without holding on to something) and lowering herself down. She keeps taking one or two steps. I think as with the sitting and crawling, one day it will all just click into place and she’ll be off! She’ll now walk along if you hold both her hands, which she’d never do before. She’d just start bouncing if you tried to get her to do it.

Misc:
Still only two teeth, she had her first trip to the dentist last week and was very intrigued by everything in there!
She’s discovered pointing so spends most of her day either doing this, clapping or waving.
Swings are still the best thing in the world!
At last weigh-in she was 20lb 15 putting her on the 75th centile which she’s been following for months now, so all fine there.

I think that covers most of the main things!

Harriet and Alexandra x

A Day In The Life Of A New Mom

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1. Notice baby being sick
2. Catch as much sick in your hand as possible while frantically searching for a muslin cloth – which will have all disappeared at that moment despite there being at least three billion in your house.
3. Wipe sick off baby/floor/walls etc.
4. Check whether your clothing/hair has been vommed on.
5. Assess whether you can just rub in the sick and hope no one notices.
6. Change everyone’s outfit.
7. Notice baby doing a poo.
8. Wait for them to finish while simultaneously laughing at the grunting/face pulling and wondering whether it makes you weird watching another human pooing.
9. Change baby while trying not to hurl and wondering how something so cute can produce a smell so awful.
10. Put baby in jumparoo
11. Listen to the same goddamn tune over and over and over and over.
12. Try and do all the housework in the 20 minutes it takes for baby to get bored.
13. Notice baby is rubbing their eyes and looking like they haven’t slept in months.
14. Lay baby down with dummy in mouth.
15. Retreat to the other side of the room.
16. Notice dummy has come out of baby’s mouth and they are now wailing despite having taken the dummy out themselves.
17. Put dummy back in baby’s mouth.
18. Repeat steps 15 to 17 approximately 200 times until baby finally falls asleep.
19. Think about doing something useful while baby naps.
20. Baby wakes up while you’re still thinking.
21. Attempt to get bottle into baby’s mouth in the 2.1 seconds it takes between stirring and baby deciding they are so starving they need to wail at the same volume as a jet taking off.
22. Repeat steps one to 21 until daddy gets home and baby gives him their sweetest smile and wants to cuddle him even though every time you want a cuddle baby attempts to scratch your eyes out.

(I really like my baby honestly!)

Harriet and Alexandra X

Bedtime

Bedtime essentials - including this super cute book bought by nanna!

Bedtime essentials – including this super cute book bought by nanna!

 We don’t yet have a bedtime routine sorted each night and I’m getting to the point where I’m unsure whether we need to! I know a lot of people like to have set timings when everything is done but then Alexandra is sleeping through the night and hasn’t woken up for a feed for well over four weeks so I can’t see it’s affecting her too much!

I worry if we start trying to get her into bed really early, firstly it will massively reduce the amount of time she gets to spend with her daddy and secondly she’ll need to wake much earlier for a feed. Currently she has a bottle at around 6pm – 6.30pm which means she’s normally finishing up ready for a cuddle with Dylan when he comes home from work. From there, she might have a little play and then on ideal evenings she’ll be sleeping while we have dinner and get things ready for the next day. She doesn’t have a bath every evening (we take her in the shower if she’s not having a bath but that tends to be in the morning – she loves it!) but I’m trying to ensure she has a book read to her as often as possible.

Alex then has her last feed anywhere between 9pm and 10pm – Dylan does that one – and then tends to be asleep by 11pm. We then get a relatively quiet night, aside from a couple of grumbles if her dummy goes missing, until gone 6am when she wakes for breakfast.

So having said we don’t have a bedtime routine, I guess we kind of do! Do I need to be more rigid though or is being fairly flexible a good thing?

Harriet and Alexandra x