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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Parenting Plans – Carry, Don’t Push…

This post was written before George’s arrival…we are now 6 weeks into our babywearing adventure so I will post a follow-up ASAP!


This is hard for me to admit…but…I hate pushchairs and I don’t want to be a pushchair user.

There. I said it.

I hate it when they fall over backwards because they’re laden with bags. I hate that their occupants usually have to stare at a forest of knees (or worse, at the back of their sibling’s chair). I hate that you have to have a special one if you want to use it on anything other than pavements. I hate that most of them cost more than a half-decent second-hand car.

I’m not judging people that use them because I know that most people are considerate and careful, but I also hate it when they’re used as battering rams, and when they get pushed into the road slightly when traffic is still going by. I also hate having to dodge past them because the people pushing them are too busy looking at their phones.

Luke and I are both pretty set on not wasting our money on a pram, pushchair or buggy unless we absolutely have to. Instead, we are embracing babywearing and plan to transport our boy around in wraps, slings and carriers on our own bodies. People tend to think of wraps as unsafe (the baby could fall out!…what would you do if you fell over with him on your chest!…surely he’s overheating in there!), but if you’re mindful of the equipment you use it’s incredibly safe, and although we see prams and pushchairs as being the ‘norm’, babywearing has been around far far longer.

I wanted to start off with a stretchy wrap as they’re cheap, easy to use, and great for newborns. You can put them on and then pop the baby inside, and then also take the baby out again without removing the wrap – a quality known as “popability”. This is great if you want to wear your baby round the house, transfer them to a car seat for a car journey (in which you can leave the wrap on), and then pop them back into it once you reach your destination.

You can get a new one for as little as £20, and second hand ones for even less if you join the right groups on facebook. The only problem with them is that theyre not so supportive once your baby gets past about 20lbs.

After looking online for a while and asking the advice of some babywearing mothers on facebook I was offered this “hybrid” stretchy for £50…

wrapsody Stella wrap

…not only is it BEAUTIFUL (and vaguely reminiscent of Doctor Who with its TARDIS blue) but, because it’s a hybrid, it is more supportive than a regular stretchy and can be used up to about 35lbs.

We also got a Close Caboo for Luke to wear our newborn in, because he’s more into the idea of a “carrier” style rather than a wrap. It’s made up of two pieces, one that

front view

back view

…and once again bought 2nd hand from a lovely lady on facebook who was selling it for £25. Like the stretchies though, the Caboo will only last until our little one is about 20lbs.

There are LOADS of different types of carrier, sling and woven wraps on the market (some of which are almost as expensive as the pushchairs) which can be a bit confusing for a babywearing newbie, but there is hope. Just like the cloth nappies there are such things as sling libraries where you can learn about different carriers and wraps, get advice on how to  get the best from them,  and even hire them out for a small charge so you can decide if you like a certain type/brand before you buy.

In fact, while we were waiting for our midwife appointment last week I noticed a poster urging dads to bond with their babies by wearing them AND advertising a hire service. Wonderful stuff!

From everything that I’ve read I’ve learnt that carrying your child (both inside the house as well as outside) is beneficial for:

  • helping to regulate their temperature, heat rate and breathing…
  • making them feel secure and attached to you (which is especially important during their first three months, aka the 4th trimester)…
  • reducing crying and therefore helping them to keep their stress and cortisol levels low…
  • developing language skills – babies that are worn are often interacted with more than babies that are in pushchairs or lying in baby gyms, and so usually develop language skills a little faster (this is obviously not a hard and fast rule though)…

There’s benefits for us too as we don’t have to wrestle with pushchairs, or worry about getting the wheels stuck if we want to go for a walk on rough terrain. We also don’t need to leave our little boy napping on his own as he’ll get used to falling asleep in his carrier as we’re walking around the house doing chores. The only thing I’m really worried about is that he’ll get upset when he’s put in his car seat and one of us has to take him somewhere alone. If he’s used to being near to us all the time it won'[t be nice for him to be rear-facing in the back of the car on his own. I can’t see it happening a lot though.

Of course, it might not be plain sailing. There are babies who hate being worn, or who grow out of liking it, and so although we will persevere with it as much as possible, we’re prepared to give in and buy a pushchair if we absolutely have to. Also, we will have a backup in his first year as my friend Adele is lending us her Quinny Buzz frame (which our Maxi-Cosi car seat fits into) so we do have the option to use it if needs be…

We’d both much rather have him nestled on our chests though.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Baby, Life, Parenting

 

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My Cornmeal Porridge Recipe…

Luke and I like to trawl the supermarket looking for “interesting” things. Being a huge fan of Caribbean food (we both are), and a massive lover of porridge, I recently picked a pot of this up from Tesco…

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…and I LOVED it. It’s amazing.

It’s also pretty expensive to eat on a day to day basis when you consider that you can get 1.5kg of cornmeal for £1.79 from the same aisle in Tesco. When I realised this, I put back the 6 pots of ready made porridge that I’d piled into our trolley, picked up the plain cornmeal and then started Googling recipes like mad.

There’s a lot of recipes to choose from, and a few different ways to prepare it. I tried a couple and ended up disliking them (not stodgy enough) and finding most of them too fraught with difficulty (adding cold cornmeal paste to hot liquid is just asking for lumpy porridge).

In the end I decided to follow my instincts and devised my own recipe, which turned out to be better than the Pronto Pot (even if I do say so myself)…and I wanted to share it with you! This makes enough for two bowls. You could say it makes enough for two people but I love it so much that I always eat it all to myself…

You will need:-

1/2 cup of cornmeal
1/2 cup of water
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp according to taste)
Nutmeg (a small sprinkle)

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To make it you…

mix the cornmeal with the water in a small bowl to make a smooth paste

set the milk on the stove in a pan and stir in the cornmeal paste (I used cows milk but I’m sure coconut or almond milk would make a delicious alternative)

bring to the boil, stirring all the time

reduce the heat and add the condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg

simmer for 5 minutes whilst stir stir stiring!

It will thicken on the hob, and then get even thicker as it cools.

And enjoy!!

Note:- It almost seems a shame to open a whole can of condensed milk just to use a 1/4 cup of it, but don’t be tempted to leave it out – it is VERY important to achieve the right taste. I omitted it entirely in my first attempt and used maple syrup to sweeten instead. It was not right at all.

My top tip is to make yourself a luxurious coffee with the condensed milk…maybe have a go at a Guinness Punch (it’s like a fizzy milkshake of joy) and then freeze the rest of the milk in an ice cube tray for later use in coffee/more cornmeal porridge. It doesn’t freeze hard (mine hasn’t anyway) but you can scoop it out of the tray very easily with a tiny teaspoon or a knife.

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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Food, Life

 

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Bounty Newborn Pack…

When you’ve given birth to your lovely baby, and you’re spending your time getting to know them on the postnatal ward, the Bounty reps come around bearing gift-packs and cameras. We turned down the offer of photographs (feeling like we were going to be trapped into spending lots of money, and not wanting Bounty to have possession of any pictures of our son), but were happy to accept the pack.

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If I’m honest, after the last two packs I’ve received (Bounty Mum-to-Be and Emma’s Diary Bump-to-Baby) I didn’t hold out much hope for the Bounty Newborn Pack, but I was really pleasantly surprised…

The first thing you notice is the free STUFF, because it’s bigger and more interesting than the small forest of literature that’s included…

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The best thing in the pack was a baby towel (top left) that is beautifully soft and comes with a sample of Persil Non Bio liquid and Comfort softener as well as money off vouchers for the same (the two brands we already use! Huzzah!)

Next best things were sample nappies and wipes from Aldi and Asda (I used the Asda wipes before I had chance to take the picture. Whoops). Asda only give you two of their ‘Little Angels’ nappies, and I think the pack had 10 wipes in it. Aldi are FAR more generous with 24 Mamia wipes (now in our nappy bag for emergencies) and 4 sample nappies. Fabulous!

We have since used the rest of these nappy samples up (more about our nappy experiences soon…) and can safely say that both Little Angels and Mamia nappies are very good quality and very good value if you then go on to buy them. The wipes are brilliant too, and we’ve used them on George’s bum and face with no adverse reactions (unlike Huggies aloe vera wipes which gave him sore skin. Bad Huggies!)

There was also a Tena Lights sample (and money off voucher) in the pack, another mini pot of Sudocrem, and a sample of Baby D Drops. All in all, a cornucopia of freebies!…and useful ones at that!

So…that’s all the interesting ‘STUFF’…now onto the forest of paper that was included in the pack. I was prepared for it to all be selling me something or just generally useless, but again I was pleasantly surprised…

  • Child Benefit Form…VERY useful! Unfortunately I didn’t know it was in there until a week or so ago (despite it being printed on the pack itself) so I didn’t have it with me when we registered George (you can apparently hand your filled in form to the Registrar)
  • 2 x Lansinoh Breast Milk Freezer Bags…also VERY useful. I hadn’t even thought about buying these so when I needed to freeze some of my expressed milk I had two in reserve! Awesome stuff!
  • Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club voucher…to get a £22.95 selection for £6.95. I love these chocolates! USEFUL!
  • Obligatory “Ocado 20% off” voucher…when you spend over £80 of course…not at all useful.
  • Pixifoto voucher sheet…for free photography sessions as your baby grows. Pretty useful if you like that sort of thing.
  • “Gift Certificates”…these look like great offers on the face of it BUT they’re all American sites so you have to pay almost £10 in postage for each purchase. It’s not bad if they were things you wanted anyway…you can get:
  • You and Your Newborn Bounty Book…I haven’t even looked through this but I’m fairly sure it’s another book of advertisements. It could be useful. Maybe.
  • Your Guide to Contraception After You’ve Had a Baby…leaflet. Useful!
  • Meningitis Awareness…mini leaflet. Also useful!
  • Coping With Wind and Infant Colic…leaflet (it’s basically an informative advert for Infacol)…very useful as George has suffered with bad wind (possibly colic)
  • Junior ISAs…leaflet. Might be useful.
  • D Drops Voucher…and leaflet. Useful for finding out what they’re about (and buying more).
  • Bounty Parenting Club Form…of course. I’m sure this will be useful if they want to give me more free things.

So there you have it! It was stuffed with STUFF and THINGS and a lot of it was useful (or could be seen as being useful)…all in all I’m pretty impressed!

Thanks Bounty 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Baby, Life, Lists, Parenting

 

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My Attempt At Porridge Bars…

I’m breastfeeding our boy (more about that soon) and one way to boost/maintain your milk supply is to eat oats. I’ve gotten a bit of a baking bug recently (I think I can blame Great British Bake Off for that) but I’ve also got to watch my weight so I’ve been looking for a way to bake things that, whilst being a tad “naughty”, aren’t just empty calories. Oat based things seem the best way to go.

Luke bought me some amazing oats bars (Stoats Porridge Bars) while I was in hospital, so I thought I’d have a go at making some myself. I found this recipe online but I don’t have a lot of the ingredients so I have decided to simplify it and adapt it for what I’ve got…

So! Basically, you will need:-

130g rolled oats
300ml milk
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
60g dried fruit (approx) 
30g of seeds (approx)
(optional) 1tsp cinnamon
(optional) 20g chopped nuts 
(optional) 1-2tbsp runny honey (or maybe maple/golden syrup)

…and my amended recipe looks like this:-

130g oats
300ml milk
1tsp vanilla extract
60g sultanas
15g sunflower seeds
15g pumpkin seeds
10g chia seeds
2tbsp maple syrup

I made the cinnamon optional (and then omitted it from my ingredients) because I didn’t know if it’d work that well with the maple/golden syrup. I also decided to use a heavier weight of seeds than the original recipe called for as I wasn’t using the chopped nuts.

To make the bars:-

  • mix the dry ingredients (oats, seeds, fruit and nuts) in a large bowl
  • whisk the wet ingredients (milk, vanilla, egg and honey/syrup) in a jug
  • pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine well
  • leave for a while to absorb (use this time to heat oven and line your tin)
  • pour mixture into a lined tin (I used a tin that says it’s 15cm square but I think is actually 20cm)
  • bake at 180c for 45-60 minutes

The mixture is quite wet at first and although the oats do soak up the liquid, it’s still pretty wet when you pour it into the tray.

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I admit, I couldn’t wait until it was completely cool to turn it out and cut it (although I did give it about 30-45 minutes to cool) but it didn’t have any adverse effects. I only baked it for 45 minutes and it doesn’t seem to have cooked through properly. It IS cooked, but it’s still quite squidgy so I will probably give it the full hour next time I make these bars. It was quite golden on top though so I don’t know if the extra 15 minutes might cause it to burn…

EDIT: I’ve finally figured out what this “squidgy” texture reminds me of…cold bread and butter pudding (like the kind you can buy in slabs from Greggs)

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I cut the slab of porridge into eight, but you could get 10 decent-sized slices out of it if you weren’t greedy like me.

My recipe, what with the omitted cinnamon, is quite plain. If I was to do this again I might try adding it, or perhaps upping the amount of maple syrup. The best thing about them is that they’re essentially just oats, fruit, seeds and milk so they’re pretty virtuous…which is good seeing as I’ve eaten three slices in the last 5 minutes…

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Food, Life

 

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The Struts Have Landed…

A while ago I was asked to write a parts review for VW Heritage, a company that stocks parts and accessories for all kinds of Volkswagen vehicles.

Old Red needs a LOT of work so it was hard to know what parts to ask for, but in the end Luke and I decided to get tailgate struts so we don’t have to rely on planks or the strength of our arms/backs to hold the door open.

They arrived yesterday morning!…

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I feel so honoured to be asked to do my first “proper” review. Luke and I will be removing the old struts and fitting the new ones ASAP…watch this space!

 

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George Makes His Grand Entrance…aka…Our Birth Story

George is exactly one month and one day old today…and it has flown by.

I’m taking advantage of one of his rare naps to tell you the story of his birth. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not rare for him to nap – he does it all the time – it’s just rare that he’ll let me put him down. It’s also quite rare that I don’t really have anything else to o while he’s napping, but today I have managed to get showered and dressed, brush my teeth, eat breakfast AND lunch, and drink enough water (okay, tea). I’ve also found time to give Luke a hand with the housework, so I don’t feel quite so bad about sitting down at my laptop and getting some writing done.

So, in my last post as a pregnant woman I told you that I was in the hospital being induced because of my pre-eclampsia. I was in slow-labour anyway, but I’d still had to have the pessary to begin thinning my cervix (a lovely image for a Monday evening). I had wanted to avoid it but the midwives were concerned that I wasn’t progressing quickly enough and that they needed to help me along. In hindsight I kind of wish that I had refused them, but they did that thing where they worded it as if I didn’t have a choice. I knew that I had the choice, but in my vulnerable state I just went along with what they were saying, worried for the health of me and my baby. If I could do it again I would ask them what the outcome of NOT having the pessary would have been,

So, at 11.45am they inserted the pessary and then left things to develop. They put it behind your cervix so it was pretty uncomfortable, and it actually took a lot longer to put in place than I expected, but it was bearable. You have to lie still for half an hour after it’s put in to stop it from just falling straight out, but I hadn’t taken note of the time so I lay there for over an hour worrying that if I moved I’d have to go through all that again.

Luke had already gone home, so once I could move again I spent the afternoon listening to the radio and colouring a mandala in until he came back to keep me company.

I can’t remember when my contractions started, but they began as hot stretching feelings in my lower back, and as the day progressed they started to feel like an odd pressure in my bottom…almost as if I really needed a poo. They weren’t really painful, more uncomfortable, even when they started to become more regular – not at first anyway. Very quickly it got to the point where I was getting three minute-long contractions every ten minutes and I had to really concentrate on my hyponobirthing techniques to control the pain. I was breathing deep and steady, imagining a dial and mentally “turning down” the pain, thinking the words numb and comfortable (numbfortable) .We tried going for short walks up and down the corridors but, after three hours of terrified non-sleep the night before, I was utterly exhausted and felt like I just needed to lie down and try to get a bit of rest.

…except that REALLY wasn’t happening.

Contractions aside (and it was probably going to be impossible to sleep through those anyway), there was a completely obnoxious family on the same ward as me. The mother was awaiting a c-section, and her husband and two-year old were sitting with her…well sort of. The child was screaming blue-murder whilst running around the ward, and the father employing his (VERY LOUD) voice to encourage the little one and laugh at him in-between (VERY LOUD) phone conversations. I’m not entirely sure what the mother was doing as I was lying with my curtains closed, trying to relax, but just getting more and more wound up with each shriek and booming laugh. Luke went out to complain to the midwives twice, and eventually they were asked to take their loudness away from the antenatal ward.

Now, I know that children make noise and that you can’t use reason to get them to be quiet, but you can remove them from situations where their noise isn’t appropriate. An antenatal ward where women are in the early stages of labour is not the best place for a small child to be screaming. It also isn’t the best place for you to hold telephone conversations in a booming voice.

I was majorly upset by the time they were removed from the ward. It was fast approaching the time that Luke would have to leave for the night, and I’d completely missed any chance for the rest that I needed. By this point the pressure of my contractions was getting to be unbearable. I kept thinking that if I could only do a poo (or maybe throw up) I would feel SO much better, and so I made numerous trips to the bathroom where I sat on the loo and cried because I just couldn’t get any relief. I was hot and cold all at the same time and ended up in bed in my coat, feeling like I was coming down with the worst case of flu…it was a pretty hideous time. I hated it.

At ten Luke had to leave the ward and so I lay alone, trying to dial down my pain (numb and comfortable…numb and comfortable) and failing miserably. He hadn’t long been gone when I decided to make one more pointless trip to the toilet, but when I rolled over in bed I felt a big POP and my waters broke quite spectacularly. I carried on in my quest for the bathroom, convinced that I just needed to poo and when I got there I was sick. Exorcist style sick. I was the embodiment of glamour and grace. Not.

I don’t remember things too clearly from that point on really. I know that things happened but I’m not too hot on details. It was 11pm…I sent Luke a text asking him to come back…I was put on a monitor and they saw that the baby’s heartbeat was dropping with each contraction…they wheeled me through to the delivery suite on my bed where I met a wonderful midwife called Yvonne…the baby had to have a clip attached to his head so they could monitor his heartbeat more effectively…I was offered gas and air…my contractions were like my body was being ripped in half…I breathed entonox continuously for four hours whilst swearing profusely at anyone who suggested I take a break from it…I talked a lot of rubbish (due to being high as a kite) and tried to imagine I was off my face in a tent at a festival, rather than on a hospital bed in a depressing delivery room…

…and then I pushed…but I was only 6 cms dilated so I was told NOT TO PUSH.

I couldn’t help it though, there was nothing I could do. It was like trying to stop yourself from being sick. You don’t want to do it but you know it’s going to happen and your body just takes over and OH MY GOD I was pushing again. I had sworn that I didn’t want an epidural, and it was on all of my birth plans but I found myself begging for one, just so that I wouldn’t push anymore.

And so I had an epidural. It wasn’t scary and I didn’t worry about it at all, hell, I didn’t even feel it because I was sucking on the entonox mouthpiece like my life depended on it.

The epidural didn’t really work properly for me at first. The anaesthetist put the test dose in (which I shouldn’t have been able to feel) and it made my left leg feel numb and heavy. She was confused and didn’t want to give me a proper dose, so for a few hours I had a weird lopsided feeling as my left side did what it was supposed to, and my right side felt far less numb. After a while the contraction pain and the need to push would start to make itself known – but only on my right hand side – and so she’d give me a mini top-up that’d last for an hour or so. In the end she decided to give me a proper dose and then everything went numb. It was great, but suddenly I was fully dilated and it was time to push…

…and I couldn’t feel a damn thing.

I tried and I tried to push…they even gave me a syntocinon drip (man-made oxytocin) to make my contractions more effective and help me to push, but it just wasn’t happening. The registrar came in and gave me half an hour more to push before they took me to theatre. The plan was to give me a spinal (because the epidural wasn’t working on both sides) and attempt delivery via forceps or ventouse, and if those didn’t work they would do a c-section. I did not want any of those things and I was terrified for the baby and for myself, but he was back to back, in completely the wrong position and he was not going to come out on his own. I was exhausted and I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Predictably, they couldn’t move the baby using forceps or ventouse, and I couldn’t feel to push to help them move him down, so I was told they needed to perform a section. I had resigned myself to it. I had known from the moment I left the delivery room to go to theatre that they would be doing it, but it didn’t stop my fear and I shook uncontrollably throughout the whole procedure, despite trying to relax myself using the techniques I’d learnt. Luke was right there beside me, and the staff were amazing, but I was so worried, so scared, so tired…

I had nothing to be worried or scared about. There was no pain, and all I felt was a lot of pushing, pulling and tugging as they pulled the baby back up into my uterus and then pushed him out of the tiny hole that they’d cut (seriously, looking at my scar now I have NO idea how they got him out of such a small incision), and then the surgeon was thrusting a small vernix-covered bottom over the screen and telling us we had a boy, and then George was crying (a tiny reedy sound) and I was crying and Luke was crying…

…and suddenly we were a family.


I plan to write about the aftermath of my c-section soon…I’ve gone on for far too long for one post already 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Baby, Life, Parenting, Pregnancy

 

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Four Weeks…To Get Out The Door…

George is four weeks old today and has celebrated by rolling over on the bed and giving me a beautiful smile. Ok, so the roll might have been a fluke but the smile was real (he’s been doing them all week!)

The registrar who did my surgery said that I’d be ok to drive after 4 weeks (and my insurance company were happy to go with his suggestion) so I’ve celebrated 4 weeks of George by getting back behind the wheel and driving us around. I’d forgotten how amazing it is to NOT have to rely on your mother for lifts…

Unfortunately, I’m still getting used to the whole ‘getting myself AND a baby ready’ and so it can take a lot longer than I expect. Gone are the days of being ready in half an hour (or an hour if I wanted to look like I’d made an effort). I’ve been late for everything recently. The other day we planned a short walk and we didn’t manage to get out of the house until late afternoon…can you imagine what it’s like when we’re going out further afield or for longer?!

Somehow, there’s SO much more to do (even though in reality the extra stuff is just feeding George, changing his nappy and getting him dressed) and the things I used to “just do” now have to be done as and when I can do them.

Time just flies by now too. Most mornings I get up and come downstairs for a cup of tea at about 9am…and then suddenly it’s midday and I’m still in my dressing gown with unbrushed hair (and teeth) and I could REALLY do with a shower and all I’ve done is feed George (and probably changed his nappy a few times).

This morning I managed to achieve the  (seemingly) impossible. I got out of bed (after George had his first daylight feed) and thrust him into Luke’s arms while I went to have a shower. I somehow managed to get dry and dressed before more feeding/nappy changing was required, and then I found time to make myself some tea and toast. Eating of the toast was done over George as he had yet another feed (fourth of the day) and I may or may not have got a few crumbs on him *ahem*…

I utilised his post-feeding nap to go brush my teeth and wash my face, and then all that was left to do was to feed him a couple more times, change his nappy once or twice and hand him to Luke for dressing while I brushed my hair. It’s amazing how quickly something as simple as doing my hair (even just putting it up into a haphazard pony tail) has become a frivolous use of my time…

I have SO much respect for single parents and for men/women who stay at home with the baby while their partners go to work. I have no idea what I’d do without Luke here in the morning…well, yes I do…I’d probably stay in the house, stinking and cultivating one massive dreadlock where my hair used to be. I’m sure that tears would be involved somewhere too.

Eventually we got out of the house just after twelve, an amazing two and a half hours after I stepped into the shower. It seemed almost miraculous.

Fifteen minutes later there was a poopy nappy that needed changing. Sigh.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2015 in Baby, Days Out, Life, Parenting

 

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