Three Months with Benjamin

How did we get here so quickly? The fourth trimester is over already and Ben has already changed so much in just a few short weeks. I am amazed constantly that I *grew* him. He is the best thing I have ever created, for sure. But, he has taken on the project of growing himself with aplomb – his feet are already hitting the end of his 3-6 month sleepsuits and he can’t really nap on my chest anymore without me folding him practically in half. This lanky little boy is surely going to take after his father when it comes to height… 

I have a feeling I’ll say it every month, but this month has been my favourite by far. Benjamin has really found his smile and has started laughing at so many silly things. He’s such a happy little chap, and the way his face lights up when he sees me or Paul for the first time in a while is honestly the greatest joy of my life. 

He’s not what I expected. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t him. I couldn’t have ever dreamt up such a perfect baby. He is so chilled out, content to kick away on his play mat for hours in between naps and happy to be carted around with us wherever he goes. The only thing he doesn’t really like is when the car stops in traffic; much like his father, he’d always rather be on the move. I count my lucky stars every day that Benjamin is my son. (My son!). He has made it so easy to become a mother, and even though there are difficult moments, I know that we have been so lucky in these first few months. Our time will come, no doubt; whether he’s a terrible toddler or a tricky teenager, our time will come when we are tearing our hair out. But I am glad that it has not been right now, when there is already so much change to adjust to. 

Those newborn days already feel so far away; the raw emotion, the sleep deprivation, the absolute shock to the system. Everyone says that it passes so quickly but you can’t see the end when you are in it so completely. At first, I was Googling every tiny thing but already I feel more confident in my instincts and my abilities. Like I said, motherhood has surprised me and I’m not the nurturing earth mama that I would maybe have wanted to be. I am already cultivating an attitude of healthy neglect, as my parents always called it (is it any surprise that I have just morphed into my own mother, really?). But, whilst I often sit with my sleeping baby feeling frustrated that I am not doing something else, I am just as often kissing him all over his face and telling him how much I love him. He is loved, and he never goes hungry, and that is all that matters for him right now. I can already see the end of this stage coming up fast, and it is bittersweet. For now, at three months, Benjamin is my absolute favourite. 

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Thoughts on my Post-Baby Body

Thoughts On My Post-Baby Body // Amy Elizabeth

I fit into my old jeans but not into my old dresses or shirts. I’ve always favoured the stretchy denim. My old bras won’t even do up. My stomach is soft now, my belly button stretched, my skin marked by purple lines. I am torn, always, between respect for my body and everything it’s done and dismay at the ways it is now marked indelibly by our ordeal. Maybe my stomach will still shrink, it probably will, but I will be forever changed. How could I not be? I grew a human, and not a small one. 

There are two common threads when it comes to the post-baby body chat. It seems you are either expected to hate your new shape, punishing it with buggy boot camps and bemoaning tight waistbands after months of maternity leggings, or you’re supposed to not care, so in awe are you at the feat your body has performed. Am I allowed to admit that I sit somewhere in between? 

I miss my old body. It was a good body. We had a pretty easy relationship, which is more than most people can say. I have always been lucky that I fit the mould when it comes to societally-approved body shapes, and without too much effort. I could have lived happily with that body forever. It was easy-ish to dress (short legs notwithstanding) and it was healthy, for the most part. 

Thoughts On My Post-Baby Body // Amy Elizabeth

I don’t mind my new body. There are probably plenty of people for whom this body is their ideal. That’s probably true for everyone, actually, now I come to think of it (that their body is the ideal body for someone else, not that they all think my body is the best body – because it’s pretty average, all things considered). But it doesn’t feel like my body. It looks a bit different in my old clothes. I’m more aware of it, more self-conscious, which I don’t like. I was used to just living in my body, not thinking about it all that much. A privilege for sure, but not one that I wanted to give up.

I don’t like the stretch marks which now cover my stomach; an unwelcome reminder of one of my most unpleasant experiences and a badge of honour for the best thing I’ve ever done. Again, you are either supposed to religiously moisturise them away or wear them as a mark of pride. Again, I sit somewhere in between. I am not ashamed of my body; it did something pretty incredible. But I am also not head over heels with those little purple lines, even if they are a by-product of the thing of which I am most proud. 

It’s only been three months, so I know there are more changes to come. I’d like to get back to where I was before, in attitude if not in shape (although the shape would be nice, too). But me and my body are in it for the long haul, whatever happens… 

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Motherhood Has Surprised Me

Motherhood Has Surprised Me // Amy Elizabeth

As everyone says, you can never be fully prepared for motherhood but the most surprising thing is how much it has surprised me. It has surprised me how hard it is. But it has also surprised me how easy it is. I hesitate to say the latter in case I jinx myself, but Ben has been so chilled out that I have found it so much easier than I expected. I am surprised at myself as a mother. I am more relaxed than I ever imagined I would be. I think we’re in a bit of a feedback loop with Ben; the more chilled out he is, the more relaxed we are and vice versa. I have finally learnt to go with the flow, and it’s Ben that’s teaching me.

Where before I would want to be prepared for every eventuality and keep everything on plan, Ben has his own agenda and right now I have the luxury of being able to be guided by him. Every time I have started to get anxious that he is not making progress, he has turned around and shown me that he was just waiting for the right time. So I have stopped worrying. I haven’t picked up a parenting book once, and I think that’s helping me, too. Benjamin is his very own baby and my job is just to let him do his thing. 

I am also a lot less ‘mumsy’ than I thought I would be. I have always been quite maternal, so I thought I would slip into that role with Ben almost immediately. But I am surprised to find that I do not love this newborn stage as much as I thought I would. Spending time with him is a joy, but spending every moment of every day with him is, well, a bit much. I am fighting so much harder for my own identity and to continue doing the things I love doing than I thought I would. I expected to let all of my hobbies and interests fall to the wayside, but I am surprised to find myself clinging to them harder than ever. Maternity leave is a long stretch of blank time and I have to fill that time with something other than solely baby-care because otherwise I fear I might go mad. But amongst all of that, I am still surprised to find how content I am just sitting with him asleep on me or watching him kick about on his playmat. I am surprised how fascinating your own baby can be, but also how boring your days together can become if you don’t work on it. 

People talk about the immediate, overwhelming love that you feel for your baby. I didn’t feel that. Or, rather, it didn’t come all at once the moment he was born. Maybe because I was so exhausted… At first I felt more of a sense of responsibility than I did a feeling of love, which surprised me. But, as I get to know him and his little ways, I love him more and more. He is such a sweet little babe and he is so very easy to love, which is no surprise at all. It is, however, a surprise that you can come to know someone so completely in just a few short weeks. I feel as though I know everything about him, but there is also so much more to find out. I’m excited for all of the surprises to come… 

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How Having a Baby Has Helped My Anxiety

Before I start this post, I want to make it clear that I have never had clinically diagnosed anxiety. I have been lucky that my anxiousness has, for the most part, mostly manifested itself in being highly strung, hard on myself, and very un-spontaneous rather than stopping me from going about my daily life, so it’s never been something that I’ve sought treatment for and, to be honest, I don’t think doing so was necessary. I appreciate that for people who suffer from more extreme anxiety than me might not have the same experience and I don’t want to suggest that having a baby is some kind of cure for what is a serious mental health condition. Far from it, in fact. 

However, that said, I *have* always been an anxious person. I’m a Type A perfectionist who doesn’t really know how to relax and *hates* when plans are changed or things don’t go as intended. I panic when going to new places (especially if I have to drive there on my own) and worry about every little thing it’s possible to worry about. Whilst my anxiety has only very rarely seen me refuse to leave the house, it has regularly sent me into paroxysms of stress before I’ve been able to do so. 

So I assumed that having a baby would only add to my anxiety. There’s a lot to worry about when it comes to babies; their health, their development, their safety, whether they’re too hot or cold, whether they’re eating enough or too much, whether they’re sleeping enough or too much (and whether when they’re sleeping is the right time to be sleeping). You can worry about them in their current state and entertain yourself with all sorts of nightmares about the months and years to come. 

But, despite all the potential for worry and anxiety that comes with parenting, I have found myself a lot more relaxed than I ever expected to be. Whilst being a parent is hard, each individual task is relatively easy (at this stage) but all-consuming, so I have found it easier than ever to let worries slip to the back of my mind. It helps that Ben has, so far (touch wood), been a healthy and chilled out baby. He is teaching me to be a mother every day, and he is so relaxed and happy that it makes me that way. 

I think part of it is just that you have no choice but to get things done. The first time we left the house with Benjamin, I was practically beside myself with worry, but after Paul had gone back to work and it was just on me to get us up, dressed and off to an appointment, I found it much less anxiety-inducing. There was no option to panic, because we had to be there, so I had to just get everything done. Ben is relying on me, and so I can rally myself to do the things I am worried about a lot more easily. 

Being a mother is many things, but once you have a child it is no longer optional. My mantra over the past few weeks has very much been ‘you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do’, which has a dual meaning. Sometimes it means that you’ve just got to do what you need to get by, whether that’s eating cake for breakfast, pouring yourself a glass of wine or binging on Netflix and ignoring the chores list. But it also means that you’ve got to get done what needs to be done, even when it feels like an insurmountable task. There’s no hiding under the duvet when you’re solo parenting a newborn (unfortunately) but it turns out that’s the very best thing for me. 

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Our Breastfeeding Story (or Why I’m Formula Feeding my Baby)

Breastfeeding is the hardest thing that I have ever done. I am in literal awe of the women who manage it for any length of time, because I just couldn’t do it. So Benjamin is a bottle fed baby, and has been on formula for at least a month. And you know what? I think we are both happier for it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bottle vs. breast debate. To me, fed is best and everyone has to do what’s right for them – and it turns out, bottle feeding with formula is what’s right for us. It took a little soul-searching to get to that point, but I feel like the discussion so often leaves out people who are *happy* to have made the decision to bottle feed so I wanted to throw our story into the ring in case someone who needs to hear this (like I did just a few weeks ago) happens upon it. 

I had all the best intentions of breastfeeding. I *wanted* to breastfeed, but I was under no illusion that it would be easy. I wasn’t, however, prepared for how difficult I found it – both physically and emotionally. It makes sense that it’s not a walk in the park – both you and the baby are new to it, after all. I did find it amazing to watch my tiny baby so clearly learning every day, but progress was slow and I was in agony by the end of the first few days. They say it’s not supposed to hurt if you’re doing it right, but I call bullshit on that – even if you’ve got a good latch, you’re still essentially chafing a sensitive body part for up to an hour at a time, maybe ten times or more a day. It takes time to get used to that. Plus, unless you nail it first time, you’re bound to do a little damage that you have to work through in the first few weeks and days. 

We were incredibly lucky that we received a lot of breastfeeding support. I know that is a key reason why many women give up, and I want to be clear that wasn’t the case for us. Every single person who came to see us, from midwives to dedicated breastfeeding support workers, was absolutely lovely and so supportive. We were assisted constantly at the hospital, and visited almost daily for the first week. There were plenty of places to go for support after the home visits stopped, too (at our request – we could have asked for more). I know that’s not necessarily the norm across the nation, and I am grateful for all of the wonderful people who helped us out and never pressured me in any way. 

It wasn’t just the physical pain that was wearing me down, though. It was the emotional burden of trying to feed my hungry baby and feeling unable to do so. On many occasions I was in floods of tears as Paul helped Benjamin latch on, reassuring me as I cried that my baby deserved a better mother. The cries of a hungry baby are hard to take at any time, let alone when you’re in pain and sleep deprived, knowing that you’re the only one that can help them but feeling that you absolutely can’t. It’s an overwhelming thing to go through, and I was thinking about quitting from just a few days in. 

The pain became enough that I really felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, and so we caved and gave him a little cup of formula within the first week. I was beside myself, convinced I had already failed my baby. Although, as I said earlier, I truly believe that fed is best and I would say so to any friend of mine going through the same thing (or any stranger, come to think of it), it was hard to apply that grace and forgiveness to myself in the moment. One little cup became a bottle, and a bottle every now and again became regular bottles. I needed a break to try and heal (at one point my nipples were bleeding, which is really not an ideal situation…), and Benjamin needed the food. 

Thoughts of breastfeeding occupied almost all of my waking moments. I worried that every bottle we gave him was hurting my chances of breastfeeding long term (even though I didn’t really *want* to breastfeed long term). I was feeling guilty for desperately wanting to stop, and even when he wasn’t feeding I was in pain. It turns out we both had thrush, which wasn’t helping matters, but by the time that was diagnosed I already felt beaten by the whole thing. I was dreading him wanting to feed, and I didn’t feel confident enough at latching him on to feed him when we were out and about. It wasn’t the happy, bonding time that I had hoped for and I remember saying to the midwife at our three-week-ish appointment that I just wished someone would tell me it was okay to stop. She essentially did just that, which eased a little bit of my guilt, but I persevered for another week or so after that, intermittently feeding him myself and bottle feeding him when it all felt too much.

I’m not sure what it was that made me decide to give up entirely. I think I just got to the point that I knew I was going to at some time in the near future, so why not make it that day? I held on for a bit longer because I didn’t want to regret it, but really I knew that I was going to stop within days and I was just going to have to live with that decision. But really, I’m not just living with it – I’m happy that we made that decision and know that it really was the right thing for us. I am more relaxed now that I am not in constant pain, worrying about the next feed (which is helpful, because Ben is still feeding every two hours at best during the day most days – that’s a lot of time to spend worrying!). And I have no doubt that having a relaxed, happy mother is better for my baby than any benefits he would be getting from breast milk. These few weeks have been a joy rather than a stress, and I attribute that to being able to feed my baby a bottle when he’s hungry – knowing that he’s had enough for him, and without me becoming an emotional wreck each time. Not to mention that I don’t have to be the only one that feeds him in the middle of the night if I really need to sleep, and that I can leave him for a few hours if I want (or need) a bit of time to myself. 

Do I wish that I had been able to breastfeed? Yes. It would be cheaper and more convenient if I had been able to get the hang of it, and I know that breastmilk has all that extra goodness that can never be replicated by formula. But do I regret my decision to stop breastfeeding? No. I am happier and so Benjamin is happier. I think we all need to give ourselves a break when it comes to parenting, and so this is the break I am giving to myself. 

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What to Buy For Your Newborn Baby

What to Buy Your Newborn Baby // Amy Elizabeth

Newborn babies don’t need as much stuff as you think they do. You could drive yourself mad trying to cater for every situation, but they’re pretty simple creatures, really. There will come a time, I’m sure, when we need to cart everything but the kitchen sink around in order to keep our little one fed and entertained, but right now he’s happy with a cuddle and a bottle of milk. That said, there are a few things that are making our lives that much easier and which I would recommend to new parents looking to stock up ahead of time on top of the usual sleepsuits and nappies… 

Snuzpod & Sleepyhead 

I fell in love with the Snuzpod as soon as I saw it – and the love affair has continued ever since. It’s recommended that babies sleep in your bedroom for the first six months and the Snuzpod is the perfect solution for their sleeping arrangements. Rather than the traditional Moses basket which doesn’t really match our bedroom decor, the Snuzpod is a stylish alternative and the zip down side makes it the perfect compromise between separate and co-sleeping (for us, anyway). I like being able to reach out and put a hand on him to settle him, and since he’s right next to me, I don’t have to get up to check on him when he stirs. 

We also caved and bought the Sleepyhead a couple of weeks in, when it became apparent that our little man felt a bit adrift in his Snuzpod. He’s now nice and cosy, and we all sleep the better for it (not perfectly, mind you, but as good as can be expect). The only downside is that our baby is ridiculously long (like his father) and so I’m pretty sure he’ll grow out of it before the six month mark, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! 

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine

So many people swear by this life-saving contraption, so you probably don’t need me to throw my recommendation into the mix – but here it is anyway. I had all the best intentions to breastfeed, but when I had a screaming, hungry baby in my arms and it was all going a bit pear-shaped, I was incredibly grateful that I had bought this machine ahead of time. In three minutes, you can have a perfectly made up bottle of formula with no faffing about – which is about as long as I can take the screaming for once Ben decides he absolutely has to eat that very second. 

Pre-mixed formula bottles  are also a lifesaver for the same reason, and great to have on you when you’re out and about, and a bit nervous about breastfeeding in public. We use the Aptamil ones, but they’re all pretty much the same. Even if you don’t end up using either, it really took the pressure off knowing that I *could* feed him easily if I needed to. 

Tommee Tippee Dummies

There is a lot of stigma around dummies, and I’m not sure I totally get it. All of my NCT friends and I were reticent to use them but have all done so within the first couple of months (with no ill effects, I might add). Ben is generally a very chilled out baby, but there are moments when nothing but the dummy will settle him – and if something will comfort him, then why not use it? We use the Tommee Tippee bottles, so he likes the matching dummies best as they have a recognisable shape. 

Sollybaby Wrap

This was a bit of an indulgent purchase on my part, as I had to have my chosen wrap shipped over from the States and paid the price as a result – there are undoubtedly cheaper versions that are more accessible for UK parents. But I’ve seen so many of the Sollybaby wraps on US mamas that I follow via social media or blogs, and I’ve coveted them for a long time, so I splashed out – and I don’t regret it. The material is beautifully soft and it’s basically a baby sedative. Once you’ve got the hang of tying it, it’s a really simple way to chill babies out whilst keeping use of your hands! I wore Ben in the wrap for a walk in the park last week, too, as the pram couldn’t really get round on the paths, and it was perfect. We have an Ergobaby carrier, too, as Paul didn’t like the idea of the wrap, but I prefer the softness and look of the Sollybaby, especially whilst he’s so (relatively) small. 

Joie Dreamer Baby Bouncer 

This isn’t so much a specific product recommendation as a more general one, as I’ve only tried the one type of bouncer. That said, this one fits with our decor (we have grey & white stars pattern), and the combination of vibrations and (surprisingly non-tinny) lullabies that it plays keep Ben chill for long enough for me to unload the dishwasher, pack my changing bag and make breakfast in the morning.

Having somewhere to put him down that isn’t horizontal is so helpful; he’s so inquisitive and hates to be lying down when he’s awake as he wants to be looking around so the bouncer is perfect now he’s started to be a little more alert but not yet needing too much stimulation or entertainment. We pop him in this when we’re eating, too, and we’ve managed most meals without too many interruptions, which is a miracle. 

Large Muslins 

I bought a whole bunch of muslins before Ben was born, as everyone says how useful they are, but the ones I bought are on the smaller size so I recently invested in some larger ones from Mamas & Papas (and I have my eye on these Aden & Anais ones for after payday since spotting them on Catherine’s Twitter), which are so much more useful. We use them to swaddle his arms at nighttime, as otherwise he flails and fidgets and wakes himself up. I’ve been using them as a sun shade for the pram when we go out, and, of course, they are good for mopping up all sorts of spills and the like. 

A Netflix Subscription 

Not strictly for the baby, but you’ll be spending more hours awake and sat on the sofa with your newborn than you probably imagine so a Netflix subscription is an essential for those newborn days (and nights). Paul’s been chain-watching Rick & Morty and Bojack Horseman, whilst I’ve been making my way back through Gossip Girl. 

What to Buy For Your Newborn Baby // Amy Elizabeth

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How to Practise Self Care As A New Mum

 

Being a new mum is totally all-encompassing, and it would be so easy to let yourself slip under the overwhelming tasks that come with motherhood. We have been very lucky with our baby; he has been very chilled out and easygoing, which has really eased our transition into parenthood. So take this advice with a pinch of salt; there will be times when you can’t practise or prioritise self-care, when your baby just won’t allow for it. But I find that I’m a better parent, a better wife and a better person when I take care of myself, so it’s something that I’ve been really conscious of during this first six weeks, and here’s what’s been working for me… 

Gather Your Gang  

This has been the most important part of self-care for me. Whether it’s your own mum popping over for the day to give you a break, or just a WhatsApp group of other parents who you can use as a soundboard during the night, having a gang of people around you during this time is crucial. That gang obviously include your partner, too, and whilst it’s tempting to think that you know your baby better than anyone (which you probably do), handing them over to your other half even if they don’t rock them to sleep exactly the way you would will give you the time you need to look after yourself. Accepting help is hard at any time, but it’s essential to your survival and self-care. 

Let Them Be 

This maybe controversial, but I let my baby cry if I really need to. I’m not into ‘Cry It Out’ as a parenting method, but if I really need the bathroom or to grab a drink, then I let him cry whilst I sort myself out. I only do this for things that take a minute or two, but it’s easier than trying to juggle him whilst I make a sandwich – and there’s no way I can care for him all day without eating. It felt really wrong the first couple of times (that cry really is piercing…), but ultimately I always go back within a couple of minutes to give him a cuddle (or whatever else he needs) and he’s hardly neglected in the grand scheme of things so I figure we can both live with this arrangement.  

Prioritise the Basics (But Don’t Forget Everything Else) 

Everyone has their own priorities when it comes to self-care. I find that I feel a hundred times more capable when I’ve had a shower in the morning, so rather than sleeping when he sleeps, I prioritise getting clean. In fact, I’ve not really napped since he’s been born – I’d personally rather go to bed early with him rather than napping in the day, but for other people a nap might be the lifeline they need to get through the day. You know yourself best, so whether it’s a cup of coffee or a short stint of yoga, prioritise the basics you need to get through. 

However, there is a caveat to that… When you get a chance, don’t forget the things that make you feel good that aren’t just the very basics. For me that’s baths, reading books, blogging and baking (like the good 1950s housewife that I am…) – so when I do get a chance, I try to remember to do the things that make me feel like myself rather than just a mum. 

Get Outside 

That first trip out is so daunting. I was so anxious I almost cried, and we were only walking ten minutes up the road. I *did* cry the second time we went out to the park, because I just felt so overwhelmed. Home feels safe and easy, but being cooped up is no good for your mental health (or at least, it’s not for mine). It gets easier to leave the house, and I’ve been trying to at least go on a short walk each day. A bit of gentle exercise combined with some fresh air, and you’ll feel like a whole new person, I promise. 

Eat Out (and Stock Up on Snacks) 

Obviously budgets are a little tighter than usual when you’re on maternity leave, but if you can afford it then an occasional lunch out is a great form of self care. Even if you have to eat with one hand whilst juggling a sleeping baby, someone will bring you food to eat and then clear up after you – which is pretty much a miracle, isn’t it? 

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I Am A Mother Now

 I am a mother now, and my body bears the scars. I will never look the same, marked by stretch marks as I am. I will never feel the same, knowing what I know. My emotions have risen to the surface, tears swelling at the slightest provocation. I am raw, an exposed nerve, my heart worn on the outside now.

I am a mother now, and never won’t be. You are mine and I am yours. There has never been anything else so permanent in my life. Even when I am gone, I will be your mother. For better, or for worse, there is no turning back. 

I am a mother now, but I am also a wife, a friend, a sister, a colleague, a daughter. Life didn’t stop the moment you arrived, but everything changed. I am a mother first, and everything else second, for now. But even as I step (stumble) into this new role, those others don’t go away. They make me better able to be your mother, and every day I realise that more and more. It takes a village, baby boy, and we have a good one. 

I am a mother now, but I am still me. In fact, I feel more myself than I have in ages. Maybe I am more myself than I ever have been. I expected to feel different, but I feel the same. Pregnancy was such a purgatory for me, and coming out of the other side has given me such a lightness. 

I am a mother now, but I don’t know what kind, yet. I am less anxious than I thought I would be, more relaxed. You make me that way, chilled out as you are. You are teaching me to be a mother; we are learning together. Let’s hope we do a good job, eh? 

I am a mother now. 

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24 Signs You Are a New Mum

  1. You’ve lost count of how many people have fondled your boobs in the last couple of weeks… 
  2. Do you even own any clothes that aren’t pyjamas? ‘Cos if it doesn’t have a stretchy waistband then it may never see the light of day again. 
  3. Food has never tasted so good to you. Gimme all the cheese and sushi! 
  4. Caffeine is no longer optional in your life. Can you hook it straight into your veins or…? 
  5. You can’t stop yourself from referring to yourself or your partner in the third person. Yep, Mama does need you to stop crying and for Dad to get her some wine… 
  6. You thought you were obsessed with cleanliness before?! Think again… *washes hands and sanitises everything in sight*
  7. Your phone is out of storage because you’ve snapped so many almost-identical photos of your newborn. They’re just so cute, though!
  8. You might have strained your eyes from rolling them at people who claim that they’re ‘exhausted’. They don’t know the true meaning of tired!
  9. It’s now totally normal to discuss bodily functions with almost-strangers. 
  10. Google has become your best friend and worst enemy. 
  11. You swore you wouldn’t be those parents… but at least 50% of your conversations have been about poop in the last couple of weeks. 
  12. You’ve gone from productive girl boss to putting ‘shower’ on your to do list (and not really even being that fussed if you tick it off…)
  13. You have a lot of opinions about property development because of your slight addiction to Homes Under the Hammer. 
  14. You’re a little convinced that staring at the baby will keep it alive. Constant vigilance! 
  15. Gourmet meals are ones that you get to eat with both hands whilst they’re still warm. 
  16. Have you stumbled into some kind of time warp? Because you could have sworn that only 10 minutes has gone by but it seems to be getting dark again?! What day is it?!?
  17. You don’t dare leave the house without a suitcase packed to the brim with baby supplies. What if they need their nappy changing 10 times whilst you walk round the block?! *packs more nappies* 
  18. You have strong opinions on nappy brands already. Aldi, FTW! 
  19. You’ve had a moment where you wondered whether you should have just gotten a puppy instead… 
  20. Are you in some kind of musical? Because you’re spending a lot of time singing these days… 
  21. You’re convinced that your baby might be smarter than they let on. How do they know to scream as soon as you are otherwise occupied?!
  22. You’ve completed at least three new series on Netflix since your little bundle of joy arrived. 
  23. You feel a little bit devastated and a little bit ecstatic when people point out that your baby has grown. You mean they’re not going to be a little squishy newborn forever?! 
  24. You’re a bit smug because you’re convinced that you have the objectively cutest baby on the planet. It’s not because you are biased or anything… 

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What’s Saving My Life Right Now


New motherhood is as difficult as everyone says it is. Through all the newborn baby cuddles and tiny little onesies, there’s so much to learn and so little sleep to help your brain learn it… Every midwife and health visitor you see asks about your mood; they are angling to see if you have the signs of post-natal depression, and rightly so, but, as I have said to every one of them: I am overwhelmed, but not disproportionately to a rather overwhelming situation. I have cried over my (in)ability to breastfeed, I have worried about leaving the house and stepping into the outside world, and I have panicked about all of the difficulties to come. But I am okay. We are okay. Survival is key right now, and, inspired by Modern Mrs Darcy, here’s what’s saving my life right now… 

Whatsapp at 3am

A lot of what we learnt at our NCT classes has already been thrown out of the window just two weeks in, but there has been one part of them that has been invaluable to me – the other people that we met. Our babies have all been born now, so we are sharing late night wisdom and reassurances between us. Everyone needs a cheerleader every now and again, and having a group of people who are going through exactly the same thing at exactly the same time is very encouraging! Especially when you feel like the only person awake in the middle of the night, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone. 

Lansinoh Nipple Cream 

I haven’t taken to breastfeeding with quite the enthusiasm that I thought I would. It is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s emotional, for sure, but it also bloody hurts and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Even if you do everything right, it’s a sensitive part of the body to be putting to work so soreness is inevitable. I’ve been drowning in Lansinoh nipple cream as a way to get through the first couple of weeks and the pain is already lessening. Let’s hope it continues that way… 

Kindle iPhone App 

In theory, you should spend every precious moment soaking up time with your newborn. In reality, trying to stay awake in the middle of the night whilst a baby sleeps on top of you is a little tricky without distraction. A friend recommended I download the Kindle app to my phone for those late night feeds, so I’ve been keeping myself occupied with a bit of Jilly Cooper when I need something to help me stay alert. 

Aqueous Cream

Delightfully, I woke up on the second day after giving birth with a dry skin rash situation all over my chin and neck. Apparently due to hormonal changes (of course) this isn’t uncommon, as my frantic Googling revealed. Through many scary forum threads from people who’d suffered for months, I found the suggestion of aqueous cream to treat the problem and promptly sent Paul out to buy some for me. It’s since mostly cleared up, which could be due to natural changes in hormones or the cream doing its work – but either way, slathering it on helped relieve some of the ‘tight’ feeling of the dry skin and helped me feel a bit more in control! 

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine 

Yes, I know, I know. There have been some problems with these machines but as far as I’m concerned right now, this thing is a lifesaver. I want to breastfeed as much as possible but I’ve had some real problems so when he just really needs feeding there’s really no other option than a bit of formula. It’s not the end of the world – but the fact that this machine means you can have a bottle in hand in 2 minutes makes all the difference when you feel like it might be. 

Waitrose Daily Sushi Counter 

Okay, I realise this is the most middle class thing I’ve ever said – but fresh sushi from Waitrose is making life worth living right now. They opened the counter at our local Waitrose the end of my pregnancy (it’s like they knew!) and at least 25% of my meals have come from there in the last two weeks. Salmon nigri is my crack, and I’m not ashamed that it makes me feel a hundred times better when I’m exhausted and hungry. 

Gro Company Newborn GroSnug 

For the first few nights, Benjamin wouldn’t sleep if he wasn’t being held by one of us, which meant sleeping in shifts and trying not to nod off at god-awful-o-clock in the morning whilst a sleeping baby used us as a giant pillow. We figured out that he was waking himself up by thrashing his arms about, but were a bit wary of swaddling him properly with a blanket or muslin as all the advice suggests this can affect hip development. A bit of frantic Googling brought up the GroSnug – a little baby sleeping bag that swaddles the arms but leaves the hips and legs free, this assuaging some of my fears. The difference was immediate – he sleeps for a few hours at a time in this, which has already been a game changer. All three of us being asleep at the same time is a real luxury! 

Paul 

Last, but certainly not least, I have to include the soppy one. These past two weeks haven’t been easy but they have been infinitely less difficult because of Paul. He has encouraged me endlessly when I am in floods of tears, picked up all the housework and kept me fed & watered when I am stuck underneath a cluster-feeding baby. I’m a bit worried about how we’ll cope now that he’s gone back to work, but luckily he doesn’t have a long commute so we only have to be without him for the shortest amount of time possible! 

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