A Note To My Friends…

When I became a Mum, I changed and sometimes it takes me by surprise how much. Of course, for the most part the changes I see in myself are positive, and I embrace them and am immensely proud of them.

However, there have been times that I have felt like I may have lost a little bit of me, just a wee bit of Louise. And I worry – do other people see that? Do they think it too? Will I get to reclaim it as the children grow? By no means do I think I’m alone in this – I think, I hope, it’s pretty common. With such a massive change in your life, it’s bound to turn things upside down, especially when that change is as all-consuming as a child (or two).

But my friends have been there through this change and they’ve helped a mama out… massively. They may not even realise how much. So I want to say thank you –

Thank you for remembering me and still inviting me, despite me often not being able to come along it still means a lot to know that I still exist. Even more so, thank you for inviting us all and understanding that sometimes we have to come as a package.

Thank you for not holding it against me when I ask a question and get too distracted to listen to the answer. There are times I come away from seeing you and realise I’ve barely been able to actually chat due to occupying a toddler that is hell bent on touching anything that might be breakable. I know how frustrating this must be – but I promise – I care about the answer.

Thank you for wanting to spend time with us. Not just me. For holding Oscar’s hand, for sitting down to play Duplo or paint a pirate ship with him, or for holding Scout while I eat my lunch. For just sharing the load and offering a hand – it means the world.

Thank you for not rolling your eyes when Oscar reaches ‘peak toddler’ – before I had him, I had no idea how intense this phase could be. So thank you for not allowing me to apologise for him and reassuring me that it is in actual fact completely fine. He is loved.

And most of all, thank you for still asking how I am. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of me you are all there to remind me by talking about something other than nappies and nursery forms.

Right now I repay you by forgetting to post your birthday cards, but I hope you all know that I’ll be there to hold your babies, puppies, goldfish, whatever, so that you can drink your tea while it is still hot – it’s the least I can do, because you’ve saved my sanity a hundred times over.

Thank you.

What would you say to your friends? What little things have they done to help you along the way?

Lou x

Suzy Snooze – Review [ad]

Please note: the Suzy Snooze was gifted to me by the lovely folks at BleepBleeps!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps

Gadgets… I love ’em.

A gadget to help your toddler sleep better and give you a lie-in? SIGN ME UP.

I hadn’t heard of the Snoozy Suzy before and I’m surprised, because she is right up our street.

The Snoozy Suzy by BleepBleeps has the functions of multiple baby products – a smart nightlight, sleep soother and monitor – all rolled into one contemporary, toddler friendly design.

Night Night

The nightlight function provides a warm orange glow that helps to promote sleep while providing the option to also play soothing music to get the child ready for bedtime.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m quite strict when it comes to our bedtime routine and for Oscar. I’ve always found it to be important to keep it consistent to maximise his sleep quality, so I was a bit dubious about introducing something new at two and a half to our nightly military operation routine.

I needn’t have worried, she’s been a welcomed addition! Oscar switches Suzy on, by pushing down her hat, after bath while he gets his jammies on and she gives us more than enough soothing light to read bedtime stories. In actual fact, I’ve found the light a lot better than the IKEA lamp we used before which was SO bright! After his book(s) we push back down on Suzy’s hat to turn the music off on it and he knows it’s time for bed as the light dims and “Suzy goes to sleep”.

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

A Bit Of Fancy Tech

As I said, I love a bit of tech, so was a wee bit excited when I realised Suzy could be controlled by my phone via an app (Apple & Android).

This is especially handy for the lie-in function. similar to the concept of a GroClock you can set a time via the app for Suzy to “wake up” in the morning so your toddler knows when it’s ok to get out of bed.

Admittedly, we’re lucky, Oscar very rarely wakes before 8am and we usually leave him in bed until just before 9am. However, he’s still in his cot and therefore can’t escape anywhere! I think when we transition him to his “big boy bed” within the next few months, this function will come in really handy to teach him when it’s ok to get up. I think it’ll help make the transition a lot easier!

The device also acts as a monitor that you can listen to through the phone app. When Oscar was very little I wanted a video monitor to keep an eye on him, but now he’s older, I’m happy with just the audio function – but I’d say that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re buying it to use for a baby!

On a side note: we live in an old house with thick walls and the WiFi on the Suzy has worked perfectly – a big plus for us!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps reviewWhat’s more, it looks great, I mean really great. And the quality is brilliant. The Suzy Snooze feels weighty and well made and a bit funky. The design is suitable from baby to toddler to child as it isn’t too “kiddy” looking while still being engaging for young children.

However, I feel that there is room for improvement in one area in particular and that’s the soothing music. I just wish there were a few more options that you could maybe download onto your phone and choose from whether that be white noise or heart beats for younger babies or soothing sea noises etc for older children – I just think they’ve missed a trick! But it’s a small change and I suppose one that might come in the future, who knows!

The Verdict

All in all, I love it!

Granted, it has quite a high price tag at £179, but, if you haven’t purchased any other products – a fancy monitor, GroClock, Ewan the Sleep Sheep or Slumber Buddy, a nightlight etc then it is definitely good value as a multifunctional product and has great longevity as your baby grows.

And hey, if it can help to give you a lie-in at the weekend then surely it’s worth it’s weight in gold – amma right?!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

A Different Mother

A better mother second time round?

Nope. Just different…

I knew from day one that I was different. Within the first few hours with Scout being Earth-side a profound difference was obvious. But it took me by surprise.

When I became a Mother

The joy I felt when Oscar was born was immense but there was also a fear – this was a whole new world we were venturing into and one we knew nothing about. Ante-natal classes try and prepare you for the birth of your baby but what about beyond that?! I was completely ill equipped!

I remember the feeling that first night in hospital with a teeny tiny Oscar feeling totally out of my depth. He was the first baby I’d ever held never mind care for. After Robin left the hospital for the night it was just the two of us – I was learning how to hold him, how to feed him, change him and give comfort. It was scary!

But of course, we learnt. The next day I got home and together as a team of three we powered on – learning on the job. It was wonderful, but scary. We’d sometimes second guess ourselves. In the night when he cried and we thought we’d exhausted all resources we got anxious that something might be wrong, of course, there wasn’t anything wrong. Sometimes babies just cry.

Take two

Two and a half years later and we waited in anticipation for Scout’s arrival – we didn’t know yet who she would be, but I was nervous. How would it be second time? Would she take to feeding as Oscar did? Would I cope? Can you die from sleep deprivation?

Then along she came and I felt different – I was so completely at ease and content. She made life easy and took to feeding straight away and I didn’t worry about it the way I had with Oscar – I knew she was doing well, I knew I was enough. When Robin left us for the night I felt confident and enjoyed every minute just the two of us.

While I was pregnant, I had read a blog post by Steph_dontbuyherflowers about ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ (well worth a read for anyone expecting a baby regardless or whether it be first or 10th!). It talks about the pressure new mums put on themselves to ‘bounce back’ and basically to be superwoman on the school run 2 hours after giving birth. Back in the day women would spend well over a week in hospital recovering, and now, many people are out within a few hours putting pressure on themselves to get back to normal, despite their body just going through a monumental event – both physically and mentally (seriously, go read, because my summary can’t do it justice). Anyway, it rang true to me – Oscar was a summer baby and I had been so keen to get up and get out in the sunshine and show him off to anyone that cared, and even to those who didn’t! It was so important to me to get ready, do my hair and makeup and trundle on out with the pram – I think part of me was trying to prove to myself that I had my sh*t together and I was doing ok in my new role and not wanting to lose my sense of me.

However, second time round I’ve had nothing to prove – not to myself or anyone else. In those first few newborn weeks we (semi) pulled up the drawbridge – the fact it was January, Baltic & snowing, made this a lot easier. I’m glad that we spent our first weeks together just chilling on the sofa. We put no pressure on ourselves. We had visitors, we welcomed them in, but we didn’t bother apologising for the mess.

The shock to the system that inevitably comes with a first baby seems lesser with the second. I have felt more at ease with the relative surrender of freedom that comes with exclusive breastfeeding – something I struggled with first time even though I knew it was something I wanted to do, something that was important to me and something that ultimately I loved doing.

We have fed, cuddled and napped our way through our first two months as a family of four – sometimes not even changing out of our PJ’s.

Parenting Rebooted

Has this made me a better mother this time round?

Nope. I’m just different.

Free of the incessant worry that comes with your first child (the worry that ages you about 10 years in the first month of their life). We’re not worried about routines – they will fall into place sooner or later. If she cries, we pick her up, she spends her days in our arms or sleeping soundly on our chests and we are confident in the knowledge that we cannot “spoil” her in doing so. We can shrug off unsolicited advice and roll our eyes, knowing we’re making the right choices for her and our family. Honestly, it’s refreshing.

In the last two and a half years Oscar has taught us both so much – not least that the months fly in. So I’m soaking up every little detail because I know all too well how quickly each phase will end. Already I feel the end of the newborn phase is coming and with it Scout is spending more time awake and demanding more attention. It’s sad knowing this will be the last time we do it but I’m excited for what’s to come, because that’s something else Oscar’s taught us – just how brilliant it is watching a little human grow and develop their own personality.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong. That drawbridge can be up or down, just so long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing. Make sure whatever it is though, you’re doing it for you – don’t let anyone else get in the way!

Lou x

I Couldn’t Live Without…

“Oh but you need *insert insanely priced ridiculous item here*…”

Before we became parents for the first time, we were told about lots of things we “needed”. We were first time parents, we didn’t really know anyone else with babies so I just took people’s word for it and probably wasted a lot of money in the process…!

Second time round, I tried to streamline our purchases. With clothing I focused on quality over quantity buying mostly basics with some knitted bits and bobs. With other bigger items we are reusing a lot of what we had, however, some items we had were bought on a whim and didn’t quite fit the purpose, so I’ve done a lot more research this time to replace them. Perhaps it’s a case of live and learn because it’s really hard to know what you need before the little human arrives. In reality it’s very little…

So here’s a little run down of our top purchases and not so hot buys! Full disclosure, a few of these items were gifted to me, I’ve made it clear which ones, but my review of them is independent!

Our Top Six Purchases

Sleep

The trusty Next2Me Crib remains our best baby item of all time. It housed little Oscar next to our bed for 8 months and gave me easy access to feeding him every 45 bloody minutes through the night. We looked it out again for Scout and I’m enjoying the convenience of it once again. It’s also fab after a section. Admittedly though, the Snuzpod is prettier!

Scout loves a swaddle, but don’t rush into buying one before baby arrives. Oscar hated it. Try with a blanket first and if they like it I’d recommend this Love To Dream Swaddle Up – this was gifted to me but I will be buying the next size up. Scout has been using hers every night since she was 2 days old and I love it. It takes away the worry of blankets, I always worry about how many they need and also whether they’re tucked in right so the won’t ride up etc. With this I just pop her back down after a feed and there’s no faff! It makes life a lot easier.

A Good All-Rounder

My love for giant muslins will never wane! I use them as crib sheets in the next2me, to cover my feeding cushion, as a sheet in the pram, or even as a makeshift changing mat if I’m out and about – they are a jack of all trades and there are so many nice ones out there in different patterns. The majority of mine have been bought in TK Maxx. Oh and don’t forget to put one in your hospital bag to swaddle the baby for a picture!

Babywearing

Baby wearing has been a life saver for us, especially second time round. I have an Ergo Adapt carrier for when we’re out for the day and have been using it since Scout was just a few days old. My only worry using the carrier with my winter baby was keeping her wee arms and legs warm, snowsuits just felt too bulky and I worried about her overheating. So I bought this little suit from H&M – it’s not the prettiest but it’s great for layering over her clothes and bundling her in the carrier!

In addition to our Ergo, I was kindly gifted an Izmi Bamboo Wrap which I wear pretty much all day every day around the house and even with Scout in and out it all day it stays nice and tight thanks to the 2-way stretch. This was something I never really tried with Oscar, I think I found it a bit daunting but now that I’ve mastered it, it’s a lifesaver – I’m finally handsfree for toddler activities!

Changing

One thing I always thought I needed but just never got round to buying was a changing bag. And that was when I realised they were just a bit unnecessary (and often quite expensive and not that nice looking. Unless you’re going for a Tiba + Marl)! Instead, I’ve always just packed a few nappies, wipes and a spare sleepsuit in my handbag – I travel light. The only change I’ve made this time round is treating myself to a little nappy pouch from Mutha.Hood to keep it all together. Not really out of necessity, I just liked it, but it does make it that bit easier to grab and take to the changing room when we’re out and I’m not fishing through my backpack for a teeny size 1 nappy! Plus it’s cute and supports a small business. I’m a sucker for ‘Mama Merch’!

Feeding

Oh, my trusty feeding cushion. This is a bit of a personal one because I can’t live without it, but a lot of people don’t like using them. The day we had Oscar I was finding positioning for breastfeeding hard and the midwife created a little pillow fortress around me to help and suggested I get a cushion – I ordered one there and then on Amazon Prime and never looked back. That bad boy was used all day every day for 9 months – by the time I stopped using it, it looked a little worse for wear but had been invaluable! I got myself a new one this time round and have loved it all over again – it hangs on the side of the bed for night feeds and on the end of the sofa during the day, it’s always to hand! If you’re struggling with positioning for feeding, I’d highly recommend giving one a go! I got this one from Mamas and Papas.

And lastly, something I don’t have, but would like – a little nightlight for night feeds. Especially in those first weeks when I was trying to make sure Scout was patched properly etc I didn’t need the added worry of possibly blinding her with my 1200W iPhone torch..! A little subtle nightlight beside the bed that I could put on to find a nappy by not illuminate the whole street would be ideal. I’m going to keep on the lookout for one!

When it comes to it, every parent is different, and there’s bound to be stuff that’s not on this list that you end up with that you’ll love, but I suppose the point I wanted to stress was – don’t stress. Don’t stress when people tell you “oh, you’ll need XYZ” and you’re closing in on your due date and you hadn’t even heard of it… as long as you have something to clothe that new bundle in, a few nappies and a car seat to get them home, you’re doing just fine. All they really need is some love, attention and you! Worry about the rest later – Amazon Prime it or something.

Tell me…

What would you add to the list? And what is the one biggest waste of money item you ended up with? Mine is dribble bibs – I was given approximately 650 of them and didn’t even use them once!

Lou x

Let’s Talk Placenta

Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta Encapsulation

This Hippy Sh*t

Before I had Oscar I was clueless about the placenta… as I was with EVERYTHING surrounding birth… and babies… and parenthood (and the list goes on). But no one talks about the placenta, do they? And I suppose it’s not that important is it? It’s only the organ that provides your growing baby with everything it needs to thrive – from oxygen to nutrients… but we don’t mention it. It’s just a kind of yucky word, a thing no one really talks about. A bit of an afterthought!

I watched a documentary when I was pregnant with Oscar all about “alternative births”. One woman who was having no medical observations during her pregnancy, including scans and would give birth at home on a boat if I remember right and another was going to birth in a lake like a mermaid I think. Another woman was having a Lotus Birth which is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut after birth so that the baby is left attached to the placenta – she was carrying it around in a wee bag and sprinkling it with rose petals – “this shit is a bit hippy” I thought “but each to their own”. Then there was a girl that was choosing to “ingest her placenta” in the form of a smoothie which didn’t sound that ‘out there’ she spoke about what she believed would be the benefits and how it was only one little drink so why not… It got me thinking, and the more I thought about it, the more I came round to the idea. This was followed by some Googling and reading some personal accounts of women that had done it and research that surrounded the practice. Some people had cooked it, some had drank it, some had had it encapsulated and some buried it in their garden with a tree or plant – it was interesting! Continue reading

Capturing Us

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

— Aaron Siskind

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

It can’t just be me that thinks photographs are so special. I’ve always loved them. In fact, when I was about 11, I won a regional photography competition with a picture I took of our family cat, Fifi, sitting on a bean bag – yeah, I know, just call me Annie Leibovitz…

Then, when I had kids, it all of a sudden seemed even more important to take a billion pictures. Pictures of their little hands and feet, baby eyelashes and little sleeping pouts – knowing how much they change and how quickly you forget all those little details. I still have pictures of Oscar as a little baby that we look back at and say “do you remember him looking like that?!” – And we’re genuinely surprised at how much we have forgotten, probably in a haze of sleepless nights, work, toddler tantrums and, well, just life… So I cherish every photo. And I try to print as many as possible.

I’m also lucky that Robin loves a bit of technology and “learning a new skill” (I don’t call him a serial hobby-ist for nothing) so when I got a new camera he watched about a thousand hours of YouTube tutorials (you think I’m joking…) and can now take a very decent picture, he sometimes even talks me through his ‘vision’ for a snap! He’s taken wonderful pictures of Oscar and I, and recently, some great ones of Scout too. However, what we don’t have is pictures of us all together, our family of four.

To remedy this and fill the void in our collection, I contacted the wonderful Gillian of Gillian Morton Photography having followed her on IG for a while I knew I loved her style of shots. So, on Monday before the snow hit (and man, it hit hard) we ventured out to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in -1 temperatures to meet Gillian. Continue reading