‘What a beautiful boy!’ directed at our daughter again and again and again…

While pregnant, Jack and I talked about kids clothing and toys a bit, and how one of the reasons we didn’t want to find out the gender of our baby was we didn’t want to be inundated with ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ clothes and toys as overly gendered things for kids just isn’t what we’re into.

Little did I realise quite how reliant on clothing others are in making assumptions about your child’s gender. For example, today Edie and I wandered around a Christmas market with my mum. Edie was wearing a cream animal hat, a navy jumper, white leggings with navy stripes and bright green socks and was front facing in our carrier. As we approached each stal,l on the whole, each stall holder made a complimentary comment toward ‘him’.

‘Oh! What a gorgeous boy!’

‘How handsome he is!’

‘Can I have a smile, little man?’

All well meaning, but when did navy and cream become gendered? I’ve gotten so used to it that I’ve actually stopped correcting people, but today (sorry everyone) I’ve renewed my sense of purpose. Colours, toys, jobs, and this world aren’t, or shouldn’t be gendered and I don’t want my children feeling that they are.

Image from mumcentral.com.au

If you aren’t sure, then…. ask. And if you are worried about offending, just saying ‘What a cutie!’ ‘Oh! How gorgeous are you!’ It’s super easy, no gender needed, because it’s not important, and shouldn’t define how you treat a child. That’s just my opinion of course, but she’s our daughter so thankfully that matters where she is concerned.

You can read more about gender stereotyping in childrenswear at Let Clothes Be Clothes and in toys over at Let Toys be Toys.

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6 Months in – What I’ve found useful

Edie is actually already 7 months old, how that has happened I can’t quite work out. I know people warn you that time goes quickly when your children are young but I didn’t understand.

I thought I would reflect on the baby bits I bought and have actually used and would recommend.

Nursing pillow/cushion

Wow. You spend so much time feeding in those early months, that being hands free to eat or have a drink, or browse on your phone is a real life saver. If your babe is anything like ours, you could find they end up napping where they fed, so having your hands is pretty handy!

Giant Swaddle Muslins

These things are so blooming useful! They are, obviously, a swaddle but also a play mat, a blanket, a muslin when you run out or forget, a change mat, a nursing cover when you are finding your feeding way and now a bib in a ‘Why haven’t I packed a bib?!’ moment.

Reusable Wipes

We were recommended to use cotton wool and water to start… that stuff goes everywhere. And then tried WaterWipes… sorry how much money for a disposable wipe with mostly water?!! Cheeky wipes were recommended by some friends and they have been amazing. You definitely could set up reusable wipes without using a ‘brand’ but as a new parent I just didn’t have the energy to look into it. We haven’t bought any more disposable wipes for the last four months, that’s a lot of money saved and a lot of wipes not going to landfill (insert my smug face).

Flannels

I bought a job lot of white cotton flannels before Edie was born (maybe 12/14 or so) with the idea that we’d need them for bath time, and help cleaning up any really mucky poops. Well, we didn’t use them for bottoms in the end, but they have really come into their own since we started offering food at around 20 weeks old. I try to have a damp flannel next to me during Edie’s meals, so I can mop her face , hands and tray at the end. She also loves chewing on a cold wet flannel on a bad teething day!

Jumperoo

If you have a baby that doesn’t like sitting or gets bored of being held, i.e. just wants to stand up alllllll the time, I cannot recommend a Jumperoo thing enough. I woudn’t bother spending money on a brand new one. There are so so many available on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.

Sleepbags

When the nights are cold, and your little wriggler keeps getting chilly because they have kicked their blankets off, sleeping bag really come into their own. We have been gifted some and I’ve bought a couple from eBay. Again, you really don’t need to spend on brand new unless you are keen too.

Teethers and dribble bibs

If you get given these before babe arrives or just after pack them away for the next 12 weeks or so. If you don’t get gifted any, I wholeheartedly recommend a Matchstick Monkey and Sophie La Girafe (I don’t know why but babies do seem to totally love her).

What else did you find useful? And what might I find helpful for next few months?

 

Why is it a Man Cave?

We have had lots of friends and family over lately, with the warmer weather and I keep hearing the same thing: ‘Oh, what a great Man Cave!’.

This is in reference to our summer house at the end of our garden. As far as I can tell what defines this as a man’s space is that we have gym equipment in there…  half of the equipment in there I bought, for my own use, and when we bought the house we both excitedly discussed how that space could be used as a gym.

I’ve just had a baby, I need to exercise if I am ever going to keep up with her!

Can I ask, and please do answer because I am genuinely interested, why is it that men are assumed to need a separate space? And why is exercise, more often than not, still assumed to be a male activity?

Pregnancy: hospital bag advice

I’ve had some time to reflect on my choices for my hospital bag, and in hope that it might help a mum-to-be here are some of my thoughts.

Some things I packed and was glad of:

  • Nursing nightie – I had this one from Amazon, if I’d had a natural birth, I planned to have this for hospital, as it poppers at the back in case you need an epidural, and poppers on the front for feeding and the holy grail: pockets! It was still great for breastfeeding, and gross but dark colours = no worries about blood stains. Sorry!
  • Clothes to leave in, comfy in case of surgery… I left in my first ever pair of sweat pants, it was so, so cold when she was born in Feb!
  • Fairy lights – I had a little string of battery operated fairy lights that I left on all night, so I didn’t have to have the full lamp on.
  • Room spray – chilled me out, reminded me of home.
  • Snacks – wouldn’t have made it through the night without these! Include some fruit juice boxes or something, you need to stay hydrated and water water water can get a bit dull.
  • Slippers – trips down the hall to the loo were made a little more pleasant, if you have them, slip on ones would be ideal as bending down is not so easy.
  • Giant pants  – if you have a c-section you don’t want low rise knickers as that’ll be where your incision would have been made. Also, the pads you’ll need after are blooming massive!

Some things I wish I had remembered:

  • Swaddle blanket –  I think this would have helped Edie settle, but I hadn’t even learnt how to swaddle. We now have some Aden and Anais swaddle muslins that I found in TK Maxx, which now she’s bigger have a further use of a breastfeeding cover if I want, or standard muslin mopping duties if shes wet through the ones I brought out with me.
  • White noise machine – We have the Ewan the Sheep, but lots of friends used the MyHummy (we stayed in a private room, I wouldn’t have used this on the ward)

    £29.99 from John Lewis, but a white noise app on your phone would also work a treat!
  • Water bottle – I’ve found one with a straw that you don’t have to tip really good, which is great as breastfeeding is very thirsty work. In hospital, obviously you’ll be thirsty during labour, or in my case after surgery as you have to abstain from liquid beforehand, but they give you a little jug and a little cup. A water bottle of your own, that you don’ have to refill nearly as often would be a huge help!

What would you recommend to mums-to-be? Have I missed anything?

Birth story

We were scheduled for c-section as our little one was breech, a frank breech to be precise. But I started contracting three days before the scheduled date, in the middle of the night.

I am really glad that I had our hospital bags packed. Once I called the hospital they asked us to come straight in, as I had been timing my contractions for a couple of hours to be sure, using the Babycentre app and they were about 3-4 minutes apart. I let Jack sleep whilst I timed them for 2 hours, do I get an award? I woke him up at 5:30 to warn him I was going to call the hospital and encouraged him to have a hot shower and pop on some clean, warm clothes as we potentially had a long day ahead.

Speaking to the midwife on triage, she asked us to come in. Better safe than sorry is a good motto for any query in pregnancy.

We got into Hospital at about 6:30 am, after sitting in our driveway in the dark, waiting for our car to defrost. It was freezing out! I was popped on a monitor to track contractions and babe’s heart rate. Contractions had, as they typically do when you arrive on the labour ward, slowed right down to one every 10 mins. One of the midwives said she would examine me to see if I was in established labour, turns out I was and they booked us in for the first c-section slot of the day.

Waiting to go into theatre.

 

The gorgeous view of the south downs for our room on the labour ward.

Th surgery went smoothly, though it is the strangest sensation. And that moment when they lift your newborn up so you can see if it’s a boy or girl… pretty hard to see as the person below the screen, so in the end Jack had to tell me we had a girl.

Also, one thing I hadn’t considered is just how little space there is; they popped her down on my chest and she got nudge slowly closer and closer towards my face as they worked on stitching me up.

Recovering afterwards went as well as you can hope, things I hadn’t thought about is how long your legs are numb for after surgery, and bed baths, catheters and bloody wees. But when you’ve got your baby, you really don’t care!

We didn’t have any visitors to the hospital and I am very happy with that decision, I was a knackered mess and just wanted to enjoy our little new trio. Jack went home to get his last night of uninterrupted sleep and stayed up all night, totally lost of how to settle Edie to sleep.

The following day we left hospital in the afternoon, and she met her four grandparents that evening. We’ve been very lucky and the first couple of months have flown by, she’s such a good baby, pretty chilled.

Do you have any advice you’d offer new parents? i.e. me…

Breech baby

So, our baby is the wrong way up. Depending on how you look at things, I mean once it’s born it is currently the right way up for day-to-day human life, but for actual birth, it’s not ideal.

So in spite of hanging around upside down, to try and flip it naturally, we are booked in for an ECV later this week. I am nervous and trying to prep myself for it not working. For first time mothers I have been told it’s 40% chance of being successful. Meaning 60% likelihood of needing a planned c-section.

Wondering what an ECV is? Basically a doctor manually tries to flip the baby in a sort of in-utero forward roll. I have to be on the labour ward, just in case the babe goes into distress and needs an emergency c-section, or the procedure brings on natural labour. It’s certainly been quite a lot to get my head around.

Bit more info about breech babies can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/breech-birth/

Wish us luck!

Open letter: To the guy with road rage this evening

 

or your attitude.

Dear Sir (let’s be more polite than you were),

I hope your evening and mood improves. I can’t say that I have ever experienced an incident quite like the one you just provided me with, but then, you live and you gain new experiences.

I imagine you are not happy with how we parted, however I am happy with the choices I made. Some things you don’t know about me, because we are complete strangers to one another:

  • I have had a clean driving license for 12 years (I am not sure why you felt the need to shout that question through my car window; it was pretty condescending. I reckon we are the same age.)
  • I have only ever made an insurance claim for a chipped windscreen, from a stone
  • I am a fairly careful driver, partly now because (now you couldn’t maybe see this from your viewpoint outside my car door) I am eight months pregnant
  • I don’t love backing down, what I am pretty sure I am in the right
  • Angry as you were, I’ve dealt with worse (lucky me)
  • I am confident it was my right of way because I gave way going in your same direction only this morning, on my way to work, and I’ve driven that road and that area a lot.

I can’t know what drives a person, who is in fact in the wrong, to not only aggressively honk their horn and shout, but then actually get out of their vehicle and come up to someone else’s to shout at them further. I have never done it myself.

I am grateful to the man that approached you, I think he may have been a pedestrian. I don’t know what he said to you, I could assume it was either ‘ mate, that’s not your side of the road’ or something like ‘she’s obviously not moving, why not back your van up a bit?’. Whatever it was it worked and you went away.

Other things you might be interested to know: as soon as I saw you getting out of your driver door, I locked my car and me and my colleagues safely inside it. You might not realise how over the top you appeared, but honestly it wasn’t a nice side to see of a stranger. The idea that you thought I would wind down my window to hear your shouts more clearly suggests you are good at reading people.

I would ask that you don’t do that again to anyone else, ever. It was pretty shitty of you really.

As I said I hope you have a better evening, and cheer up. And maybe learn a bit more about right’s of way and the road layouts of Brighton.

Many thanks,

Laura

New Year’s Resolutions (where has the time gone?!)

Can’t quite get my head around it being a new year tomorrow, but I have been deep in moving house/ being preggo land.

So… keeping it simple in 2018:

  • Try not to sweat the small stuff. I think it’s going to be a pretty hectic, life changing year, so one of my resolutions is to try not to get too bogged down in small things. In the grand scheme of things it won’t matter if we’re not totally on top of keeping our home tidy, or my nail varnish is chipped.
  • Healthy without pressure. In all senses. We’re expecting at the end of February and we have moved house, so the chances of me signing up to a gym membership tomorrow are slim, but I miss being active (pelvis pain currently hindering even the shortest of walks) so I am looking forward to short walks out with our new little one. And I’ve heard being new parent is knackering, so trying to fuel myself in a vaguely sensible way will probably help (plus cake in moderation of course!).

Are you making resolutions for the new year? If so, do share!

Joys of Pregnancy: First Trimester

So, yes we are excited about the new growing addition to our family, and looking forward to the due date. I have however been slightly less than excited about the pregnancy symptoms I experienced in the first trimester.

I’ll be honest, I knew it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and smiles, but I wasn’t fully aware of what was in-store for me. And I’m a lucky one: very little actual vomiting took place early on (that came later), only a few days where I have been overwhelmed by it.

Hormonal Messiness

O, what a patient husband I have. I hope it wasn’t too often, and hopefully won’t happen going forward but there have definitely been moments where I have gone from 0 to 100 for no real reason.

Peeing

This has sort of  eased off as I entered my second trimester, thankfully. There have been a few car journeys that have been *even* longer than usual because I just need to go. And the night times. It’s got to be good pre-baby training for sleep deprivation and interruption.

Extreme Tiredness

Wow. This one. I was so incredibly tired weeks 5 to 9, it was like I’d taken sleep medication or something. Getting home and falling asleep on the sofa at 7:30, napping all weekend and most of the way through our two holidays. Sorry husband.

Hella Nauseous

With a small amount of vomiting. But like your are hungover and not sure if food with fix you or ruin you. I basically spent the last 3 months avoiding the food I love and any particularly interesting vegetables (not great for a vegetarian). And snacking on mini cheddars to the point where I now never want a cheddar again in my life.

Hungry but not

I am hungry, sometime ravenously. But I get about a third of a way through my meal and start giving up. I just can’t finish. That is not normal Laura behavior.

Constipation (yep)

All I can say is make sure you are eating plenty of fruit and grains.

Cystitis (again, yep)

Did you know you are more prone to cystitis during pregnancy? No? I didn’t either, until I knew. Also your immune system is apparently weaker, so it takes longer to shake off. Joy.

Water and cranberry juice,  and when that does work: filthy tasty medication from the pharmacy. Yuck.

The good news is basically all of those symptoms either improved or I’ve found a way to help them, and the main one of tiredness is much better (at the moment).

Do you have any tips for a first timer like me? I’m just at week 22 now.