Becoming a Mother…


Day 2

This post has been a difficult one to write, in fact I started drafting it as ‘2 weeks with Bea’ and got not much further until now. I haven’t yet written about our new arrival, other than to introduce her because it has taken me time to find the words. How to start? To put my words into context, I would never have described myself as maternal – I don’t get ‘broody’ and I would even extend that statement into my pregnancy. I had very real fears that I wouldn’t like being a mum, or that I might resent my baby for the inevitable changes that were about to take place in my life. That probably sounds like I wasn’t ready to have a baby at all, but I had come to realise (much earlier, before we tried to get pregnant) that I would probably never ‘want’ to give up complete freedom to do what I wanted, lazy beach holidays cocktail in hand swinging in a hammock, regular dinners out or last minute plans. But I knew I didn’t want to go through my life without being a parent and building a family with Pete.


First Bath time // Day 5

So it has taken me by surprise just how different I do feel, now that I have a daughter. I should have seen it coming I guess, as everyone always says they fell in love the minute they set eyes on their child, but equally, some of my more honest friends admitted that becoming a mother was a shock, not least due to the physical ordeal and that it took them days or weeks to fully bond with their baby – I suspected I may be the same. In fact the change in me when I first saw Bea was seismic. I finally found the words yesterday when I realised it was like The Big Bang, everything changed in an instant. A whole new universe began and Bea is my Sun.

Now I look back at times I have offered well meaning baby sitting duties to friends with new babies, just to give them time to sleep or shower and they have refused. Now I understand that maybe they didn’t want to be without their baby, even for a minute. I remember trying to reassure chronically fatigued friends that expressing or topping up with formula so their partner could give a bottle while they sleep wasn’t a bad option if it helped them function better. Now I know how they didn’t want anyone else to comfort their baby if they could, even at the expense of their sleep. It shocked me how primal the urge is to hold her sometimes, how much it upsets me when she cries. If I sound crazy, I feel like it at times! I fell hopelessly in love with this little person before I even saw her, the second I heard her cry.

Even now, having written what is here, words fail me. No statement is powerful enough to express how I feel about her or how content I feel with Bea in our lives. I wanted to share these thoughts not just to hear from all the other mothers what they felt in those first heady weeks of becoming a mother, but to reassure those of you who (like I did,) wonder if they will ever be ready or willing to take that unimaginable leap into motherhood.

Tell me, do my words resonate with you or remind you of how you felt? Or do they make you feel more positive about a family in your future one day?

Love
Rebecca
xo

Note: This post is not meant to patronise those of you reading who have never wanted or do not want a family in future, merely to describe how I feel and speak to those who might feel as I did weeks, months and years ago about children in my future.

Nursery: And the Animals came in Two by Two…

The first nursery scheme I posted was a complete contrast to this one, Bright and Bold with neutral accents. Then I spotted and fell in love with this Animals wallpaper from Beware the Moon and had to use it as a base for a nursery mooodboard to see if I could live with the neutrals. I think with enough bright accents, I can make it work… it’s just about finding the right pieces.

I still plan to incorporate lots of brights as accents so the room doesn’t look stark, but the wallpaper was so beautiful I couldn’t let it go unused and I worried the Triangle print would be too busy and full on. This is a great way of adding pattern and texture, without making my eyes turn into triangles too!

We’re finishing the decorating this weekend so hopefully I’ll have something to show you very soon!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Getting ready for baby

*This post was written before I had my daughter Bea and I have since written a follow up post on what we did actually use. To read it please click here.

This week is my last at work and although I’m feeling ok from a tiredness point of view I am looking forward to having some time to devote purely to getting ready for baby. At present (36 weeks) I have the sum total of a pram, 1 blanket, 1 cardigan, 2 sleep suits, 1 baby bath and a rocking crib with 2 sheets. No nappies. No car seat. In fact there are plenty of essentials still missing.

I had no idea where to start with baby stuff and even had to ask my sister in law what you even put a baby to bed in (clothes-wose) after getting very confused about swaddling and blankets or no blankets advice. I found the John Lewis Nursery checklist very helpful and not at all excessive in terms of things to buy and so I edited it and created my own version here.

Do bear in mind that the different sections of the list may not apply to everyone. The feeding section for example is geared towards breast feeding as I intend to give it a good go, and I’m not sure a play mat or bouncer are essential for the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Although I’m lucky enough to live close to supermarkets and John Lewis, and there’s always Amazon, I don’t want to be unprepared so these are my basics to stock up on so I can concentrate on baby for the first few weeks.

You can download the list by clicking on the image above if you want to, or just click here.

I’d love to hear if you think any of it is unnecessary or if I have missed any essentials off that you found you couldn’t live without in the first few weeks?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Baby Name Game

I’m 29 weeks tomorrow and starting to suddenly feel the pressure of time ticking on and things that must be done. Truth be told, although I am loving being pregnant (apart from the back pain I had early this week and kept me up all night, which has fortunately now disappeared,) I don’t really feel like I am getting much time to think about it or the baby. I’m still working just as hard and long, then when I get home there are a million house decisions to be made. As I type I can hear banging and crashing as the builders knock out the exterior kitchen wall for our bifold doors and I am hiding in the bedroom.


image via

One of the many things that we need to think about are names. It’s like there is a sequence when people ask you about your pregnancy… ‘How far along are you,’ is always first, then ‘Do you know what you are having,’ and the third question is often, ‘Have you got any names picked out?’ Of course I don’t say – made easier by the fact that we still haven’t opened the envelope, and I wouldn’t anyway, I like babies to be announced with their name, as I think it adds to the excitement, but the bottom line is, I don’t really know what we are going to call him or her.

Of course there are contenders, I have a girls name I have loved for years, unfortunately Pete doesn’t feel the same. We also have a possible boys name, which again has been on the cards for a long time, but now I’m not so sure. Boys names I find much easier… I like strong traditional names like William or Thomas, but not too proper like George or Henry. There are still a few more hipster names on the list though and with girls I love traditional old fashioned names. I have less qualms about giving a baby girl a more ‘individual’ name than a boy for some reason. Pete leans much towards the softer side of names for girls, like Emily or Sophie, but I don’t feel they are strong enough, and several of the top 50 for boys.

So what are my criteria? I really don’t have any (I’ve heard people want to incorporate family names, use biblical names, floral names, royal/traditional names,) and it’s really about something I like. I think the problem will be Pete and I agreeing on something and I don’t know how we will ever solve that! There’s is always the will it suit an older person dilemma and what will it be shortened to (- one of my favourites is shortened to a name I don’t love at all.) I also read a NY Times article a while back saying that ‘The once-simple task of coming up with a monogram for the baby blanket has evolved into a high-stakes exercise in personal “branding.” ‘ and whilst I don’t want a name that every other child also has, I wouldn’t be put off a beautiful classic name for that reason. I know plenty of Rebecca‘s but feel no less of an individual as a result.

So today I need your suggestions readers! Please let me know what you or your friends called your babies, the names you have always loved and the secret favourites. I think it’s time to gather some inspiration that I can mull over through the third trimester! I just don’t want to end up jumping at something when he or she is born because we still haven’t decided!

Thanks guys!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. Have you heard of Nameberry? It’s a US site where you can see how the popularity of a name fared over the years (amongst other things about it,) and see if you are choosing a name that is suddenly super popular or not.

Family Lifestyle: Daily Essentials @12 months

Now that we have an almost one year old (say whaat?!), daily life is very different from those foggy newborn days. The changing bag gets re-filled with nappies and snacks, but the contents barely changes; we can pack the car for a night away and still be able to see out the back window because we’re not so worried about having to take everything and the kitchen sink “just in case”, and we can even go for a walk and stop for a coffee without needing much more than our coats. But we have definitely built-up a selection of family essentials that we use everyday and could not live without, they’re just not necessarily the same ones we were using when Freddie was tiny.

Becky did a fantastic post a few months ago on newborn essentials that you should all check out if you haven’t already, and I thought this would be a good next step. You won’t find nappies, a pushchair and a car seat on this list, because I figured that by this point you’ve probably got those sorted, but here are a few things that might make your days that bit easier (or give you something to look forward to if you’re still at the oh-my-goodness-we-only-brought-one-change-of-vest stage.)

Baby’s essentials
H&M baby socks
I bought a pack of these on a whim when Freddie was newborn and discovered that they are the best baby socks EVER. They simply do not come off! We’ve gone through 3 sizes already and find them thick enough for those first few cautious feet-dragging steps.

Sleeping bag
We loved the Arden & Anais muslin sleeping bags this past summer, but have used coser ones since then. I really rate the sleeping bags from Matalan, but as long as they’re easy to fasten and are warm enough for the time of year, then I’m not fussy.

High chair
We LOVE our Stokke Tripp Trapp and would definitely buy another for a second child. It’s lovely to have Freddie right up to the table with us and it doesn’t look out of place (or get in the way) in our kitchen.

Mum’s essentials
Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser
I included this in my Christmas gift guide, but wanted to put here it as well because I cannot rave about it enough. I bought this for myself the first time I went shopping without Freddie and wandered into SpaceNK, and said that I was sick of looking like I hadn’t slept in a week (which was only partly true) and instantly fell in love. Nearly every time I wear it someone tells me I’m looking well and it takes 4 seconds to put it on. Buy some now.

Waterproof jacket
I have this one from Seasalt in a different pattern and, while not cheap, is fantastic. For most of the mums I know, getting out the house everyday is an absolute necessity and while you can plonk the rain cover over the pushchair, it’s just miserable getting wet yourself when you know you need to do another loop of the park. High fashion a proper rain mack is not, just plain sensible it is.

Plain stud earrings
I stopped wearing dangly earrings and cut my hair short when Freddie was about 3 months old and started grabbing both, but I hated not being able to wear any jewelry – I just didn’t feel like myself. Luckily my husband was listening to one of these rants and bought me some gorgeous simple gold bird studs (they’re flat to my ear, so even when Freddie spots them he can’t yank them out) and I wear them everyday.

Dad’s essentials
A big jumper
Although it is getting warmer, if can still be quite chilly at 5.30 am. If you’re lucky, like me, daddy will often get up with the baby and give them breakfast, while you can have an extra hour in bed and a jumper like this pulled over pjs is what I usually find Tom in when I come down for a cup of tea.

Roobios tea
When I asked Tom about his daily essentials since becoming a dad, this was the only thing he could think of. Rather than having a normal cup of tea before bed, he now has this vanilla caffeine free roobios tea so that he can get as much sleep as possible. (I also liked this when I had morning sickness as an alternative to ginger, by the way.)

So, tell me readers, what have I missed? What are your daily essentials for older babies? And, as toddler-dom gets closer every day, what do I need to get sorted for the next stage?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

First Time Mum: The Breast Feeding Post

This week I’m away in Barcelona and then next week we’re celebrating my Brother-in-laws wedding in the peaks, so I’m running a reduced schedule here with posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Today I hope you’ll give Becky a warm welcome back with a personal and in-depth insight into her breast feeding journey. I’d love you all to chip in and add your comments as I’m sure many of you will identify with her struggle, or relish the opportunity to read more about breastfeeding in readiness for attempting it yourself.

Hi everyone, I hope this finds you all well. Firstly I’d like to apologise for my absence……it’s been so long it’s embarrassing. Connie is unbelievably 16 months old now. Since my last post, and in addition to surviving my first year as a Mum, we also moved house to a completely new area and into a house that’s a bit of a project. I also returned to work, and made some rather enormous changes to my work life. It’s been non stop and unfortunately my writing time diminished as Connie started eating solids and became mobile. It’s funny that I now look back with longing at those endless hours of feeding.


Image via

I’ve attempted to write this post on a number of occasions but I’ve found it incredibly tough to tackle. Maybe that’s because breast feeding is such an emotive subject. I stopped feeding Connie myself a few weeks ago which has spurred me on to finish writing this post that I started in the early months of her life. It’s certainly been a turbulent journey which I found limited support for along the way. I hope that if I share my story here, some of you will also share your own stories in the comments box and between us all, we might be able to cover most problems for anyone that might be struggling and stumbles across this post late at night, in the dark, with only a hungry baby and Google for company.

When I was pregnant I had always had the intention of breastfeeding but never assumed it would be easy or come naturally to me. I certainly wasn’t prepared however for the tough and emotional journey I was about to embark upon. Most ante natal information focuses on the act of giving birth. Not surprising really as when you’re pregnant it’s hard to think beyond the delivery room. I did attend a couple of feeding workshops late on in my pregnancy but neither of them taught me anything that I remembered or used post natally.

I had a pretty straightforward birth. I had to go into theatre straight after but had time to feed Connie for the first time beforehand. It was all such a blur. The midwives helped position her and that was that. We stayed in hospital for another 36hrs but once I was up and about, the midwives and I seemed to think feeding was going fine so we were allowed home. Once she’d slept off the birth and we were home alone, Connie became an incredibly unsettled baby. She wanted to feed 24/7. She hardly slept, even on me. I kept asking if there was something wrong. Everyone brushed it off as normal newborn behaviour so I just persevered and became more and more sleep deprived. Surely not all babies screamed that much? A few days in, one midwife suggested she may have a tongue tie but another dismissed it altogether. We were referred and waited for a month to see a specialist. During that month I battled on with the constant feeding and we did everything in our power to settle our screaming baby. The knowledge that an answer might be on the horizon was enough to keep me breastfeeding. A month later, her posterior tongue tie was diagnosed and cut by a specialist midwife. It was a quick and simple procedure and I immediately noticed a small improvement in her feeding. Two weeks later life had got a little easier but I still had my doubts that our problems had been solved.


Miranda Kerr announced the birth of her child with Orlando Bloom using this picture, via Twitter.

Connie’s weight gain was very slow. Slow enough for the health visitors to question and put huge doubts in my mind whether I was doing the right thing continuing to breastfeed. The trouble is, the Health Visitors I saw seemed so programmed to support breastfeeding that I wasn’t sure if they’d ever actually voice any other opinion. Every week I questioned whether I should give up and switch to bottle feeding. Life certainly would have been easier but there are historic health reasons in our families which made me want to breastfeed for as long as I physically could. Not to mention that by this point, I had no idea how else I would settle her. Every week, there seemed to be a new glimmer of hope on the horizon which kept me going and feeding for another week.

A couple of weeks after her tongue tie was cut, her weight did start to increase but it was very slow. At her 8 week check the GP actually used the words ‘failure to thrive’ discussing Connie with a paediatrician over the telephone. I hit rock bottom but my GP was amazing and couldn’t have been any more supportive of me and my attempts at feeding. We were referred to the paediatrician but were advised there would be a long wait as albeit very slowly, Connie was still gaining weight. I went home deflated but thankfully the support of my GP spurred me on and I continued to feed with the addition of a formula top up at night. Everyone told us she would sleep for a little longer and be easier to settle at night with the top up. Sadly it made no difference at all. There were so many nights that I lost count of the number of times I got up to feed and settle her. Whilst waiting for the paediatrician appointment, I continued to look for answers and attended all sorts of breastfeeding clinics and groups to gather as much information and help as possible. Finally, at around 10 weeks old, Connie was diagnosed with silent reflux by a midwife at a breastfeeding clinic who’d watched an entire feed and her behaviour afterwards. Reflux is like heartburn for babies and is pretty common and easily spotted as the babies are often sick a lot. Silent reflux is the heartburn but without the vomiting so far less easy to spot. It was a lightbulb moment. I felt ecstactic that we’d finally found the root of the problem, devastated that my poor baby had been in pain for all of that time, and completely let down by all of the professionals we’d sought help from. We immediately bought a wedge for her cot and the changing mat and swapped the carrycot part of the pram to ensure she was never laid flat. I kept her upright for 30 minutes after every feed and we were given infant gaviscon (which turns out is a total nightmare to administer to a breastfed baby) but the positioning made all the difference for us. It was like someone had swapped my baby.

I’d originally planned to feed for 6 months but as it took almost 4 months for feeding to become a totally relaxed, pain and stress free experience for us both, I wasn’t ready to stop at 6 months. It certainly wasn’t plain sailing from then on. We still had ups and downs such as the appearance of teeth and biting (ouch!), the nosey phase – when she was far too interested in the world going by to feed during the day but made up for it at night, and the Peepo phase – when emerging from behind the muslin I had draped over her and me whilst feeding in public became a hilarious game for her and terribly embarrassing for me. The final hurdle to tackle was when I made the decision that I really did want to stop. There’s very little information and guidance on how to stop but I expect that’s mainly because all babies are different and somehow, you will find a way that works for you. I found this useful though.

So, here are the bullet points that I’ve made during my journey of things that affected me which I felt might be beneficial to share:

Calories – Put losing your baby weight to the back of your mind and eat. Every cup of tea you drink should come with two biscuits. I was constantly hungry and I took a tray of snacks and a flask of hot tea to bed to keep me going during night feeds.

Growth spurts – these happen very regularly – get comfy on the sofa and rope in as much help as you possibly can at home.

Undersupply – as a result of Connie’s weak latch from her tongue tie and associated upper lip tie, I was told by the midwife it was likely that the milk transfer was poor and therefore my supply wasn’t stimulated enough. I ate copious amounts of porridge and flapjack (for the oats), drank alcohol free beer (for the brewers yeast) and fennel tea (which I’d read might relieve her reflux). During one growth spurt which coincided with some very long days at work when she was at nursery, I even made these lactation cookies. I also took between 9 and 12 fenugreek tablets (610mg) a day as advised by a lactation specialist midwife. NB. Please be sure to consult a medical professional before using any herbal remedies.

Blocked Ducts & Mastitis – unpleasant all round.

Expressing – I hated doing it and never got on with my breast pump. I also had a baby who wanted to feed all the time so had very little time to do it and get a decent yield. I accepted quite early on that I was one of many women who struggled to express. This doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk to feed your baby.

Medication – unfortunately it’s highly likely you will be ill at some point whilst you’re breastfeeding. I found these medicine and breastfeeding fact sheets invaluable.

Feeding safely in bed – ask a midwife to show you how to feed your newborn safely in bed. I was shown about a week in and just the knowledge that i could rest whilst feeding was enough to drastically reduce my fear of the early sleepless nights.

And most importantly, where I went for help and advice:

  • The National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212
  • The National Breastfeeding Network.
  • Your local La Leche league.
  • The NCT breast feeding support line – 0300 33 00 771
  • Local NCT breast feeding counsellors.
  • Your local Sure Start centre will have a weekly group meet.
  • The hospitals in your area will usually offer a weekly drop in support group.
  • There are many websites you might stumble upon from a google search but I can’t recommend the Kellymom website highly enough. Don’t be put off that it’s an American site. It has the answer to every question you might have, no matter how strange or stupid you think it is. Every topic covered is backed up by factual evidence too.
  • A local ILCA registered lactation consultant.
  • Milk Matters – a great resource for breast and bottle fed babies with feeding problems.
  • Facebook – you will find numerous groups based on feeding and also problems such as tongue tie, colic etc. I joined a few to begin with and then once I’d got a feel for the type of group either remained a member or removed myself as I found some of them a bit too full on.

It may be a cliche but despite being one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it has also been the most rewarding and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

I know each of us will have been on a very different feeding journey and I’m sure you can all add something to help any new Mum or Mum to be who might be reading this post.
I can’t wait for you all to get stuck in with your comments and to hear how you’re all progressing with your own baby journey’s.

If you would like to read another breast feeding story, Esme (who writes our family lifestyle posts) also wrote an honest account of her breastfeeding journey here.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

News Flash!

Ahem! So, today is quite a big day and I’m going to let the picture do all the talking… 🙂

I can’t believe that the time has gone so quickly already and I’ve been waiting to have a bump to show you all! It’s lovely to be finally able to announce that Pete and I are expecting our first baby! I’m almost half way along now and so glad the bump has finally popped out so I can start talking babies, motherhood and get advice from so many of the mums who I know read Florence Finds.

As always, the blog is a reflection of my life, so I hope I don’t put off those of you who don’t have or want children, yet or ever, but I’m not expecting to have a personality transplant now there are three of us, so much of the blog will remain unchanged. Hopefully, this will be a welcome addition, it certainly is for us. 🙂

Anyway, I’m going to write a bit more next week, for now, I’m so glad you all know!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I’m wearing the ASOS dress I posted about last week in a size 12 for extra room!

Christmas Gift Guide #2: For Mums (of all ages) by Esme

Today’s gift guide is from Esme, who is bringing us a list of pampering and spoiling suggestions for new mums and in fact, mums everywhere of all ages. Hint: Forward the link to your OH and thank Esme later 😉

Under £20

£20 – £30

Splash out

Can you add to this list readers – We’d both love to hear any suggestions you might have. It’s looking like the Joules pyjamas are pretty hot this year!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Favourite: Children’s books

Yesterday I was very honoured to become a Godmother to my friend Helen’s 16 week little boy. As most of you will know, I don’t have children yet and I really felt quite overwhelmed at the responsibility that lies before me, but it’s a role which I’m looking forward to and I hope gives me further insight and tips for babies in my own future! (Helen is akin to Super-Nanny when it comes to managing her little ones.)

However, my first responsibility was to find a gift! I was christened and I still have many of the gifts I was given then, but it has to be said that most of them are pretty impractical; things that I look at once in a blue moon rather than getting any use out of. I hate to give presents that are ‘dust gatherers’ as my Mum would say, but obviously the occasion requires something a touch more sentimental than a baby-grow.

Eventually I settled on a collection of books that I read as a child and remember my Mum reading to me or my sister. I figured it could be the beginning of his little library and I can add to it throughout his life, plus it has an intimate connection to me.

I chose:

I could have gone on forever though, The BFG, Harry Potter, The Water Babies, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Match Girl…

Before I came to this decision however, I asked the almighty genius of my twitter followers and received so many brilliant suggestions, I thought I would use them for a gift guide in case any of you required some similar help in the future. Most of them would make great gifts for any celebration in fact.

Other suggestions included a course of swimming lessons, (genius Aisling!) a tree planted in his name, or wine that matures on his 21st. (I’m not sure I would have appreciated fine wine at 21, but good idea!)

After an enjoyable afternoon scouring a couple of book shops and feeling nostalgic – it’s amazing how many memories children’s books bring back, I thought I would ask you all to share the books you were read at bedtime as a child that bring back lovely memories?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Pssst! It’s a 3 post Monday! Pop back at 1pm to see who the winner of the Swoon Worthy Homewares giveaway was and then for a brilliant and ethical idea later on…

Found: Wallpaper for Boys

I often think that when decorating a nursery or childs room the options are limited. The stylish but all-pervading Cath Kidston Cowboy paper is cute, but seems to be the only option for a Mum who doesn’t want a bright blue wall or cartoon characters, and I know when I’m a Mum that won’t be my idea of a stylish children’s bedroom.

So a couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon Paper Boy Wallpaper and absolutely loved what I saw…


Paper Boy Wallpaper: ‘Spitfires’

How cool are these Spitfires zipping across the wall like some kind of battle scene from a  film? There’s also a particularly dramatic khaki colour way with silver foil planes.


Paper Boy Wallpaper: ‘Animal Magic‘ and ‘Hand made

What caught my eye about these designs is the way that not only are they ‘boy themed’ with dinosaurs, castles and dragons galore, but they also tap into the innate ‘little boy psyche’. You know, little boys of old who had pockets full of conkers and marbles, worms in a jar and like to get dirty outside. It’s a delightfully old fashioned concept but made so very modern with the clever designs.


Paper Boy Fabrics: ‘D’ya think-e-saurus‘ and ‘How it works

That boyish curiosity is really reflected in the ‘How it works’ paper showing anamatronics and the ‘Animal magic’ revealing skeletons that only show up when the light reflects on their glossy surface. And I dare say there’s a few little tomboys out there that might find a few of these pretty cool too.


Paper Boy Fabrics in ‘Ere be Dragons‘ and ‘Spitfires

What do you reckon? Are you all about tradition when it comes to decorating for children, or will you be looking for something that excites them but works with your personal design aesthetic too? I’d love to hear from those of you that have children and the choices you made…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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