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

Babies At Weddings

A few weeks ago we were invited to the first wedding we’d attended since having two children. In fact, the last wedding we’d been to before that was our own way back in September. In terms of kids, that one was a breeze because my parents were in charge of Alexandra pretty much all day and of course everyone wanted to cuddle her and spend time with her. In fact, I remember a few people commenting in the following weeks how quickly she’d got up on her feet when they saw her toddling round – she’d actually been walking by the time we got married but hadn’t had the chance to show off cause she was being cuddled so much!

Fast forward to this June and we had a toddler and a newborn to contend with. At the church, we decided to take one child each and I’d packed a big bag full of toys and snacks to keep Alex occupied. While we waited for the bride she was golden and I thought we’d done really well until the second after the bridal party had arrived when Alexandra suddenly decided she didn’t want to be in there anymore. That meant I missed the entire ceremony while walking around the grounds with her. Dylan reported Max had also been a little unsettled inside.

Later at the hotel we missed some of the drinks reception as I was expressing and we needed to feed Max and change nappies etc. At the meal, I watched as my starter was taken away uneaten as I’d been feeding the baby while everyone else ate. Alex had become restless at times but luckily the bride’s uni friends were on our table and were fab with her, she played games with them all and watched Peppa Pig on one of their phones.

So altogether while we’d had a lovely day, it was pretty full on! We were wondering what the evening would bring but luckily Max slept in between feeds and Alexandra LOVED it. She danced until 11.15pm bless her. We then had to contend with both of them in the same room which had never happened before so baby woke toddler who ended up in our bed for the first time ever. I expressed late in the evening and decided not to overnight due to the possibility of waking everyone up but ended up sat on the bathroom floor early morning as I was about to explode!

The next day was much easier, Alex seemed fairly well rested considering she’d had nowhere near enough sleep and enjoyed a big breakfast and a swim. As I recall there was a bit of crying as we got into the car but both babies soon zonked out as soon as we started the journey home.

I think my summary is that toddlers don’t like behaving themselves by sitting in churches or waiting for meals – but they do love running around like a lunatic chasing lights on the dance floor at the evening reception!

Congratulations Jordan and Tom and thanks for having all of us at your special day!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Joie Twin Aire Review

I’ve never been keen on the idea of spending a lot of money on prams. The idea of shelling out nearly £1,000 for a travel system makes me feel a little bit ill – although I appreciate for some people the pram is a massive deal. For me I’d rather spend that on, well, everything. If you take into account £300 odd on a car seat you can get most if not all the other things you need with the rest of that grand.

So when it came to choosing a pram for Alexandra we firstly used a second hand Hauck system (from good friends so we knew it was fine!) and then we purchased a Joie Nitro which has never let us down. It’s still going strong, we use it now if we only need a single and we’ll be buying Max one once Alexandra is too old for a pushchair.

So when my nephew Zachary was born and we decided to buy a double pram for Alexandra and him, I was won over by the Joie Twin Aire which Max now uses as well. It’s essentially two Nitros stuck together with some nifty reversible blue and pink inserts (I’m not bothered about gender colours and will happily reverse them if the kids want a different colour when they’re old enough to choose – you’d be amazed how often people still ask what gender the kid is though as if the blue pram insert and blue outfit isn’t giving the game away).

I’ll start with the cons because there are so few:
– It’s quite wide so often you’ll find doorways and shop aisles a little bit of a challenge. If you’re really worried about that then you might want to look at a different option which isn’t side by side.
– When you fold it down it needs to be lifted rather than dragged along because of the positioning of the basket. A minor point but at first we thought the basket was faulty because it sits so low and drags along the ground in the folded down position.

The pros:
– Each seat lies completely flat so it’s suitable from birth. We bought an insert off Amazon for Max just so it’d feel a little bit less roomy in there but I haven’t been using it when it’s been super warm. I’ve also slightly inclined him because of his reflux which works really well to allow him a comfortable sleep.
– It is so light weight. Once you add two children and all their stuff, it’s obviously fairly heavy but the pram itself isn’t bulky so it pushes and corners beautifully.
– The basket is massive. I can fit everything I need in it. The only slight drawback is if I pop the entire changing bag in there I need to have the seats upright to get it back out but I just take Max out first to save having to move his seat while he’s in it.
– The price. Lots of places do it for £120 but if you shop around some do it for £99 which is the price we got it for doing a price match at Mothercare. You can’t really complain about getting a double for less than £100!

Have you used a Joie? What do you think?

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.

Alexandra:

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:

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

Taking Two Under Two Out

Getting ready to leave the house is a day’s work in itself.

When Alexandra was tiny, leaving the house seemed like a massive feat, like a trauma that would surely involve tears (from both of us) and probably a poonami or two (hopefully just from her). Over time I gradually learned to become more confident about taking a tiny human being everywhere with me.

As most the time I’m going to fairly busy civilised places rather than travelling to the jungle or desert, I’ve learned you can pretty much always buy whatever you’ve forgotten or the baby’s ruined. Yes sometimes that’s meant buying an emergency pair of leggings from the supermarket or borrowing a nappy from a friend but clearly neither of those options are the end of the world.

What do you do if the baby cries? Well the simple answer is to have enough food on you to rule that out as the cause any time they cry and then to carry on like you would at home. Work your way through the list of possibilities until you stumble upon the correct one.

I quickly realised that everyone has run home in the rain having forgotten the pram cover, everyone has left a bottle top open and leaked liquid all over the change back, everyone has coped with a baby meltdown so bad they’ve just had to give the sorry eyes to anyone passing.

And then the game changed. I fell pregnant with number two. I then spent a lot of time worrying about how you could possibly take two out when there’s only one of you.

But just as I did with my first, you learn to adapt and you pick up tips along the way. Things like always ensuring you’ve got a snack for the toddler to have during baby’s feeds, even if they wouldn’t normally eat at that time, because they will get bored being strapped into the pushchair not moving for that length of time. Things like taking a blanket for the toddler so they don’t steal the baby’s because they will even if they don’t normally have one anymore. Things like what order to put them in and out of the car to avoid any issues.

Clearly I’m not perfect, I don’t have this parenting thing sorted just yet (does anyone?), mostly I’m just winging two under two. But my point is there is absolutely no need to worry. Parenting is suffocating at first but if you try to remain as calm as possible and not let the fear take over, you CAN get out of the house on your own. There is no need to be trapped. One day everything will click and you’ll look back and wonder why you worried. You got this!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Mother Of Two

The cutest little monkeys.

Being a mother of two is…
– Spending weeks thinking about what you’ll do when they both nap at the same time and then wasting it looking at instagram when it finally happens.
– Sometimes counting the ‘high point’ of your day as the time when the babies poo at the same time so you can use one nappy bag for both. Economic!
– Nodding and smiling nicely about 58 times a day when people tell you you’ve got your hands full.
– Trying to ram the double buggy through doors that aren’t wide enough, down aisles that it clearly doesn’t fit down and around people who have no concept of where it’s appropriate to stand and have a chat.
– Attempting to make important phone calls while feeding the baby, helping the toddler create a crayon masterpiece, eat your breakfast (at 2pm) and change somebody’s nappy.
– Wondering if you could squeeze into a nappy yourself so you save time having to go to the toilet.
– Being more tired than you ever knew possible but also more happy (had to throw a nice one in there cause I do really like my children!).
– Wondering if it looks twee or cute if you’ve accidentally matched the kids’ clothes but going with it anyway because changing one would be more hassle.
– Deciding if going to the loo, eating or sitting down for two minutes are the priorities. Deciding you can actually combine all three!
– Trying to stop the big one squashing the small one.
– Being tempted to write a Facebook bragging status when you get to the bottom of the laundry basket.
– Wondering how baby always has a bigger pile of clean clothing in each load than anyone else despite being much smaller than everyone.
– Deciding you’ll have bulging biceps in no time when you’re carrying round baby in his car seat and toddler at the same time.
– Trying to get both of them to look at the camera simultaneously just once.
– Feeling really responsible when you realise you’re in charge of two human beings.
– Giving yourself a mental high five when you get to the end of every day and they’re both still alive, fed and changed, even if they (and you and the house) are covered in sick, bogeys and food.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Two Under Two Survival Tips

We’ve now been the owners of two children under the age of two for eight weeks. So far, so good in that all four of us have survived the experience and the children have at least been fed regularly. I’d like to offer up some advice based on the small amount of two under two experience I have under my belt for anyone utterly mad enough to sign up for the crazy experience that is the newborn/toddler combo experience:

– Consider becoming a Pampers shareholder or finding out if Aldi offer staff discount and joining their workforce. The amount of nappies we’ve got through is hideous.
– Save your voice by recording the following phrases and playing them on repeat to your toddler through the day: gentle, careful, no that’s the baby’s, give that back to the baby, please don’t tread on/kick/sit on the baby.
– Accept that everybody leaving the house in some form of clothing is a bonus. If the baby’s in their pyjamas, the toddler has banana in their hair and you have sick down your leggings then it’s fine. You made it out the house and that’s some sort of minor miracle considering the likelihood of someone needing to eat, drink, have their nappy changed, nap, have a tantrum or any combination of the above at any one point in time.
– Just don’t even bother attempting to nap. You probably discovered about a week in to life with baby 1 that sleeping when the baby sleeps is some sort of bullshit advice given to you when you’re pregnant to lull you into a false sense of security about how easy this is going to be. If the planets ever align and you find both of your children are napping at the same time then do not under any circumstances bother closing your eyes (not even a long blink) or, heaven forbid, lying down. They will know. They will both wake up within seven milliseconds even if they’ve only just gone to sleep. They will both begin crying like they’ve never cried before and you will have to choose which one of them to console first while praying the other doesn’t explode they’re crying so hard.
– As above, don’t bother starting to cook some food you intend to eat hot, getting the iron out or dialling someone’s number for a chat. The best you can hope for is you manage to speed eat a packet of crisps and half write a text that you’ve been meaning to send for the last week and will forget all about for at least another month before finally sending.
– Don’t be afraid to let other people do things. With baby 1 you might have been mildly possessive and insisted on doing EVERYTHING. Now you have two, if someone wants to assist in any way then thou shalt bite their hand off and be forever grateful. Whether this comes in the form of occupying toddler while you feed baby, making you a cup of tea or just having a cuddle with baby so you spend some time playing with your firstborn. If you can find someone willing to do nappies (thanks mom!) then consider holding them hostage in your house.
– Pick a child each and sort that one out. Regularly swap which child you each entertain, otherwise one of you will be on a constant feed, wind, nappy change cycle while the other is forced to talk on repeat about dogs, ducks and stars (current favourite in our house – I never noticed how many stars there are on everything until it was pointed out to me every day).
– Let Mr Tumble babysit. There’s no shame in plonking the toddler in front of the TV, having a cuddle with the baby and just not doing much for a while.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Take Two: Second Trimester Part Two

A growth scan at 26+6 showed Baby 2 flexing his guns!

Saturday marked a key point in my pregnancy: 28 weeks which is the start of the third (and final!) trimester. Although it feels like a significant date nothing actually happens – baby is still growing at the same rate and doesn’t magically have a spurt or start doing something fancy in there to celebrate. But still, the third trimester is when all the action happens ie getting the baby out at the end. If you’d like to read my Second Trimester round-up from my first pregnancy, you can do so here or you can read my summary of weeks 14-21 of this pregnancy here.

So how’s it been? Well, right now my main complaint is that the bottom of my back is absolute agony! I can rarely get into a comfortable position and when I do, manoeuvring myself out of it is just ridiculous. I remember my back aching when I was pregnant with Alexandra but I don’t think it was this bad – it’s probably not helping that I’m hefting a toddler in and out of her cot, in and out of the car and up and down from the table all day. I’m just counting down the days until such a time when I can actually do any of that without doing lots of swear words very loudly in my head.

I’m definitely feeling tired but as I mentioned in my previous update post, that’s fairly normal anyway with a toddler on the go all the time! If you compare it with Alex’s pregnancy too where I wasn’t getting up til late, then having a couple of hours’ nap in the afternoon then going to bed early, I’m doing pretty well.

I feel like we’re just in limbo now, we know 37 weeks is the end goal but every week we could be in a position where we need to get the baby out now. In a lot of ways I feel wholly unprepared for Baby 2’s arrival – like how the hell do you look after two small people at the same time? I took Alexandra and my nephew Zachary out for an hour on my own the other day and managed it fine although it takes SO long transferring two kids and their paraphernalia into a pushchair! But doing it full time? Help!

We’ve got most of the items you need for a baby like clothing, nappies etc and we’re picking up the car seat this week but I still have to finish my hospital bag and make sure all the plans are in place for Alex’s care while I’m in hospital.

As I did the first time round, I’ll probably update every week now until I have baby – which could be eight updates or could be a case of telling you next week that there’s a new arrival in town. Gulp.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump 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

Two Under Two

The brighter and more mathematically minded among you will have worked out by now that Alexandra doesn’t turn two until late summer and we’re due our second baby in the spring, which means we’re soon joining the magical ‘Two Under Two’ club. I say magical, more apt words could include terrifying, scary or frightening.

There is probably no age gap in the world which is perfect and every family (and every child) is completely different so in reality, what works for one set of parents probably won’t work for another. I think it’s pretty much universally accepted though that popping out two tiddlers in less time than it takes for us to orbit the sun twice is either really brave or really stupid. We’ve been very open about the fact Baby 2 was a complete surprise to us, and I genuinely don’t know what we would have done had we planned to have him in terms of the timing (I suspect Alex would have been closer to two by the time we started trying but we’ll never know). As it was I was five weeks pregnant when we found out a few days after her first birthday that she was set to become a big sister, add in a planned early delivery on the cards for 2 and you’ve got yourself an estimated 19 month gap.

There are some positive things about Two Under Two (there are, right?): you don’t get used to more independence and no nappies and then have to go back to it all again, they’re more likely to enjoy the same things as they grow up because they’re similar ages, fewer years til both are in school and you can consider your career options, everything you learned with Baby 1 is fresher in your mind.

There are also some things which, quite frankly, scare me: what the hell do you do if they’re both crying at the same time, the likelihood of Baby 2 being a good sleeper considering we were so blessed with Alex is slim – can I cope with that on top of the daily demands of a toddler, Baby 1 is likely to try and climb on/poke/otherwise maim her brother if I leave them alone for even a second and most of all: two turd-factories to change all day, every day.

I’m sure that you just cope. Before I had Alexandra I just didn’t get how it all worked, even after I had her it took a long time before I was fairly confident both of us would survive the day until daddy got home. I’m sure the TV will be on more, I’m sure the hoover will be out less and I’m sure there will be more than one day where I phone Dylan to have a little cry even though the extent of how much he can help when he’s 20 miles down the road and working is very minimal. But I’m also fairly sure that we’ll get along okay.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x