Saturday, 6 October 2018

Eight Months Old

Yesterday my little guy turned eight months old. There's a quote about how 'the days are long but the weeks are short' and that couldn't be more true. It's so strange to think that eight months ago today I was sitting on the ward, feeling rather shellshocked and sore, post-surgery and blood transfusion, swollen, exhausted, achy like you wouldn't believe, and suddenly responsible for this new little person who I barely had the energy to lift, let alone stand and change his nappy!

He's just the most incredible little person. He's growing and changing all the time and it just fascinates me.

I love that he can sit and study my feet, reach out and touch them, hold my toe, try to put it in his mouth, blow raspberries at me when I wrestle it away from him (because, yuk! suck your own toes, kiddo!) and then sit and study it again. Or get distracted by the table leg. Or a mark on the carpet. Or the trees blowing outside the window.

Everything about the world is so intensely interesting for him. And it's making me look at the world differently too.

Suddenly I'm seeing everything through his eyes. Imagine being so small that you're just one tiny little person in a sea of giants. You spent your life in people's arms, or lying on the floor (at least until you get the hang of sitting up), or perhaps somewhere around waist height in a pram. And a lot of what you're seeing is brand new. Even if it's something you've seen one hundred times already, your brain is working really hard making connections all over the place, so as it develops your view of the world will change and develop too.

It's pretty mindblowing. And I know it happens with all babies, but getting to watch my very own son go through it makes me realise just how incredible he is.

I went to a baby and toddler group with him yesterday (loads of new toys to play with and of course he spent the first ten minutes playing with my shoes) and after a while he asked to be walked around. Obviously, he doesn't ask. It's not like comes up to me and says 'Mother, kindly hold my hands to help me walk around the room' but he's got his little ways of letting me know what he wants. Sometimes it feels like a kind of telepathy. I'm so used to doing it that I didn't think twice, but a couple of the mums commented on how little he is to be doing that and told me he'd be walking soon.

I don't have anything to compare these milestones to though, so to me it's just normal. I'll carry on celebrating the stuff he does do, and worrying about the stuff he doesn't, and reassuring myself that all babies follow their own schedules.

At eight months Laurie sits confidently and only occasionally topples over backwards. He can go from seated to on all fours/his belly. He can move around on his belly, rarely going forwards but mostly in circles and sometimes backwards. He can roll over and sit himself up from lying on his back (sometimes). He'll walk miles holding onto your hands (especially if there's a vacuum cleaner at the other end of the route).

He waves (all the time). He sings (loudly). He can pick things up between his fingers and thumb. He feeds himself. He knows how to use a spoon (though those spoons are tricky things to catch in your mouth). He says 'heh-woh' like a little parrot when it suits him and follows Tara shouting 'wu-wu! wu-wu!'

And as of today, the contents of his wardrobe are looking rather more like the clothes a little boy would be wearing, rather than a baby. I have to confess, I shed a little tear finally packing up some of his first outfits that he wore in the hospital.

The thought of parenting a little boy seems so much more daunting than parenting a baby. But at the same time, it's kind of exciting. I've loved getting to know this little guy over the last eight months. I can't wait to meet the little boy he's going to become.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Spider Week, Day 5: Watercolour Resist Spider Web

Our spider-themed week has drawn to a close today. It's been a busy one because a local baby and toddler group was having a music-making session today so I decided to drag myself out the house after originally planning to stop in all day.

My original plan was to get up at a leisurely pace, throw on a load of laundry, have breakfast and wash up, vacuum the living room and take it easy for the rest of the day, with some bonus painting thrown in for good measure.

Instead we left at about 8am and didn't get back until mid-afternoon. Then we decided to have a bath so everything sort of got shunted back rather a lot. But we did it while Mr Click was warming up the oven for tea.

What you need:
White wax crayon
White paper
Watercolour paints
Brush or sponge

Draw a spider web on the white paper using the white crayon. You might want to make sure that you've got good light for doing this. There were a couple of times where I found I was drawing over a bit I'd already done.

Set up the paints, water and paper. I tape our paper to the changing mat for art time because it means you can swivel it round easily and it wipes down afterwards. You might want to put a sheet or something down on the floor too (we dripped green coloured water on the carpet which I had to mop up with a wet wipe).

You're ready to go.

Can you spot the spider web in this picture?
What to do:
Preload the sponge/brush with water and let the little one decide which colour or colours they want to paint with. If I was sensible I'd have one of those watercolour sets with six or eight different colours to choose from, but all I had was my fancier watercolour set with the teeny tiny rectangles of colour. Laurie's sponge brush is about twice the size so it meant each time we aimed him at a colour, he'd get two or three on his brush.

Wave the paintbrush/sponge over the paper and watch as the wax crayon image appears as if by magic.

Repeat the above steps until the whole picture is uncovered or until your small person tries to eat the paintbrush.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I think I could maybe have tried to get a little more paint on the sponge for him because it faded a little as it dried and it's really hard to photograph, but you can make out the web in the picture there.

Like the spider handprint activity, we were doing this one late in the day and Laurie wasn't really as engaged as he can be in the mornings. It'd be interesting to see how long he'd have done this if we did it around morning playtime instead of in the run up to tea when he's getting fussy.

I quite like that he didn't uncover all of the spider's web. If we'd done the whole thing it wouldn't have looked like he did it.

We started off with Laurie sitting on the changing mat I'd taped the paper to (which you can see in the top picture) but part way through I realised it was a little easier for him if I held the mat up like an easel. This did lead to some watery paint dripping onto the floor, so in future I'll definitely stick a sheet or some newspaper down.

I used the same sponge brush that I'd used to get black paint onto Laurie's hand for our handprint spider activity. That worked really well for this because it soaks up the water so I only needed to dunk it twice (and probably didn't need to even do that the second time). I'd really recommend using a sponge if you're doing this with teeny tinies.

I think that this would be a really fun activity for older kids too. You could pre-draw the design for the younger ones and watch the magic as it appears through the paint, or for older ones they could write their name, trace a line drawing, design a pattern, etc.

I'm already planning a variation on this for January/December with a snowflake image and I'll keep an eye out for other variations which might work.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Spider Week, Day 4: Incy Wincy Spider

I had a visit to work scheduled for today so I knew I'd need to come up with an activity that Laurie could do with his Dad. Mr Click is a fabulous father but the arts and crafts side of things is really more my thing. A combination of an early finish at work, and a late lunch meant that this was an activity all three of us were able to do together. I handed Mr Click the camera so I was able to get some lovely (albeit slightly blurry) photos of Laurie and I.

Today's activity was inspired by the fact that today is National Poetry Day. I figured it was a good day to focus on a nursery rhyme. We've been singing Incy Wincy Spider since the beginning of the week (and for a while before that too) so it's on that Laurie's Dad is definitely familiar with. Mr Click enjoys singing nursery rhymes (and other songs) but he doesn't always remember the words and just makes them up as he goes along. It's good fun but they're not always easily replicated afterwards.

Laurie's a very musical child. My poor musical abilities don't seem to have hindered him in any way. He loves listening to music and has shown a definite interest in Mr Click's keyboard. He's got his own mini one now, and happily plays it while singing along. I think I might have a little mini Jools Holland on my hands!

We looked up an easy version of Incy Wincy Spider online, just the melody, we didn't need anything complicated. The main point of the exercise was getting Laurie to bang on the keyboard and have a go at making some noise.

I sang along too, poor kid.

We experimented with playing it faster and slower, choosing different 'voices' on the keyboard (Laurie was a fan of the Big Brass Band option, truly his father's son), and with me guiding his little hand to hit the right keys.

Mr Click is already planning on trying to find some more suitable music to play with Laurie on his lap in the coming weeks. We found a big book of children's music I acquired some years ago. It's got one of Laurie's favourites, the Mna Mna song from The Muppets, along with The Marvellous Toy (which is one of mine) so I think they'll be top of the list of requests.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Spider Week, Day 3: Handprint Spider

This was probably my most ambitious activity with Laurie to date. There's not much that can go wrong with throwing his toys into a laundry basket with string over it. And food is food, my son isn't going to turn his nose up at that!

Planning out a craft activity is a little more challenging. And what made it even more difficult was that we didn't attempt it until the evening, more specifically, after 4pm which is customarily Laurie's time for getting a wee bit cranky and not knowing what to do with himself. He doesn't want to nap, he's not long had a feed, it's too early for tea, he wants to be active and doing things but he doesn't always know what. Invariably this is the time which is spent walking him up and down the living room to study and talk to the vacuum cleaner.

In its simplest form, this is two black handprints, overlapping on the palm, with two googly eyes to make a spider image.

Isn't it the cutest spider you've ever seen?

That's my son's masterpiece.

There are no photos of the actual process we underwent to make this cutie, because it was a rather involved exercise. I'd originally planned for it to be a morning activity but I'm glad I had Mr Click on hand to help.

What you need:
Black poster paint
Googly eyes (as many as your spider will need)
PVA glue

Pour some poster paint into a small dish/tray large enough to get your small person's hand flat into. This was a bit of a mistake as we didn't get the right sort of container of poster paint so had to dab it onto his hand with a paint sponge. This was messy.

If your small person is likely to tear up the paper, tape it down.

What to do:
Place your small person's hand into the black paint (don't worry about getting paint on the thumb, ideally you'll just be getting paint on the palm and fingers), immediately afterwards, stamp it on the paper.

Rotate the paper 180 degrees, apply extra paint if needed, and stamp again so that the palm overlaps the original impression.

Voila! It's a spider.

Pick out some googly eyes and stick them on. Laurie chose one large and one medium. I suggested that he might like to pick a third, but he declined.

In the future I'm going to try getting the paint into some sort of dish to make the actual handprinting a little easier. My original go, with some pale green paper, was with Laurie sitting in the highchair but I couldn't get his hand at a good angle to stamp it on the paper (and the paper had to be taped down so he couldn't eat it, so not so good for quickly turning it).

The version that is now hanging on my kitchen door was taped to the changing mat (which made it easy to spin, just turn the whole mat). I took a bit of a risk by not putting anything down on the living room carpet to catch potential paint mishaps. I got lucky but in future I'll be using extra protection!

Laurie seemed quite interested in the finished product, though I think when I was painting his hand he was mostly just baffled. At this age, this is definitely more of a project for me than for him but as he gets older I think he'll enjoy the feel of the paint and will have fun decorating his creation.

I'll maybe give it another go later in the month to make a monster face, though if I'm alone, we'll maybe be doing that one sitting in the bath!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Spider Week, Day 2: Spider Snacks

Well, it was Spider Dinner really, but that doesn't have that alliterative quality that I was looking for. I guess I could have said Spider Supper, but that isn't entirely accurate either. So Spider Snacks it is.

Today we continued our Spider theme with another go at the Spider Web Game. Laurie is an old hand at this now and has reached the point where he will cheerfully lob any and all items retrieved from the basket across the room. Of course, he can't crawl yet, so this is then followed by him crying because his toy is two feet away and he can't reach it.

I'd kind of hoped to get a bit of studying done while he occupied himself (I had a video I needed to watch) but I gave up on that idea and played fetch with him instead. Then he snuggled on my lap while we watched the video about the Kula Cycle and the Trobriand Islanders together. It was sweet.

We also listened to the Spider Songs playlist again a couple of times. I've made up a tickle game to go with 'There's a Spider on the Floor' (basically tickling the body parts as they're named).

That was really it for today until teatime, when I trotted out a masterpiece for his dinner:

These are fruity spiders. Each one is half a (small) apple cut into smaller segments and pushed back together again. Each leg is one-third of a breadstick (Laurie is a big fan of breadsticks because they're easy for him to pick up and gnaw on). The spider eyes are raisins, 'glued' on with Greek yoghurt, plus two bonus raisins which I've just placed in front to act as pincers.

These were a big hit. The apples were just getting soft so he was able to scrape the flesh out with his two teefs. The skin was soft also, though he did get it stuck in his mouth a couple of times (it just gets swirled round and round while he gets frustrated about being unable to swallow it), I just fished it out and he'd get on with his meal.

I'm not sure if he actually ate any of the raisins; I didn't count them when he was done. He's developing a pretty good pincer grip but some things still elude him and it wouldn't surprise me if he'd not been able to get to grips with these yet. Don't worry, he had some mixed in his Greek yoghurt for pudding so he didn't miss out.

This could be modified in a few ways. I used fairly small apples, but for even smaller spiders you could use tomatoes (either full sized or cherry tomatoes). For legs for smaller spiders, carrot batons would work well. I used Greek yoghurt to attach the eyes but cream cheese would work just as well.

I briefly toyed with the idea of adding a swirl of spaghetti as a 'web'. If I'd only made the one spider I might have done this (I had spaghetti for my tea). I think that a dried prune with a couple of slits in it with a couple of Cheerios/cornflakes/small slices of cheese for wings would make a nice addition as a fly for the spider's dinner too.

This was a quick and easy way to jazz up his dinner. He didn't notice the fact that tea looked like spiders, so it was more for my benefit than his, but I told him which bits of the spider he was eating. In the future he'll be more aware of this stuff and it'll give us more opportunities to talk.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Spider Week, Day 1: The Spider Web Game

I'm the sort of person who loves a project. Whether that project is colouring in, knitting, a degree or doing something with my son (yes, I realise that these things are on totally different levels from one another, roll with me here).

Ever since Laurie has been able to properly do things and express an interest in his toys, I've tried to find ways to make doing things interesting for him. I'll admit, this is a pretty selfish endeavour. There's only so many times I can sit on the floor making the various noises his cuddly toys make (what sound does a cauliflower make anyway?!) before I start to lose interest. He does too.

It's getting a little easier now that he can sit up by himself and sort of belly crawl around. I spread out his play mat on the floor, surround him with some of his favourites (BeatBo, stacking rings, jingle ball, teething keys) and let him get on with things. I can actually get things done while he entertains himself for 10-15 minute intervals. Sometimes a whole 20 minutes if something really grabs his attention (or is especially good for gnawing on).

Sort of linked to my ongoing quest to occupy my son is my determination to start some Christmas traditions. I've not really thought about Christmas shopping for anyone yet, but I've been planning an activity advent calendar. The idea being that each day in the run up to Christmas we do a different Christmassy activity.

You know how it goes, you start planning for Christmas, realise that the next month ends with Halloween and get distracted by planning out 31 days of Halloween/Autumn/October themed activities instead.

Yup. That's what happened.

So I've now got just over four week's worth of fun things to play, eat, listen to and do. So many in fact, that I've been able to divide them into individual themes within the general month theme.

Without further ado, allow me to welcome you to Day One of Spider Week! How ironic is that? I'm petrified of the things, and yet I've spent the day singing songs featuring the eight-legged monsters.

I'd never heard 'There's a Spider on the Floor' before but it's quite catchy.

Today I had planned an elaborate art activity, then realised that Laurie was itching for something to do and I didn't have the energy to strip him down and get the paint pots out, so we played the Spider Web Game.

What you need:

  • Laundry basket
  • Ball of string/yarn/scarves/ties
  • Selection of toys in varying sizes
Ideally you'll do this before you get the baby out to play, otherwise they may be inclined to 'help'. This is an educational experience for both of you.

Thread the string/yarn/etc. through the holes in the laundry basket. Wind it back and forth at different heights and in different directions to create a 'web' with varying gaps.

Toss in a selection of favourite toys of different shapes, textures and sizes. If you can get these through the string then your small person will be able to get them back out again too (if you put them in first you run the risk of creating a puzzle which is impossible to solve).

What to do:
Tilt your laundry basket on its side and just add baby. If you've got a stander or a walker you could leave it upright, but Laurie was at risk of tipping it over.

I did tell him that a big spider had come along and pinched all his toys and he would have to resuce them (so much for not encouraging fear of spiders in my son) but I figure he's young enough that this little lie shouldn't scar him too deeply.

Laurie figured out what he needed to do right away. It was great to see him working out that he needed to hold the string back out of the way in order to get the toys out. Within minutes he'd rescued about three of his toys and he continued working away at it for about ten minutes. I kept the game going by occasionally putting them back in the basket for him to get out again.

I didn't put it away right away as I wasn't using the laundry basket this morning, so after lunch when I put him on the floor to clean him up, he headed straight for the basket, so we had another play with it this afternoon. I guess that's the marker of a successful game. I've still left it set up now in case he wants another go at it tomorrow.


Obviously, this is a game you need to supervise closely. I worried about him getting entangled in the string. In the future I'll maybe experiment with different materials for the 'web'. Perhaps a mix of string and fabric, just to mix things up a little for him and give it an extra element of sensory play.

I got the idea from a 'laser escape' game idea where you basically thread string all over a room which kids have to climb through. I don't think I'd have the patience to essentially tangle up an entire room in my house, but it might be fun to try something similar (perhaps with a really big box or a stretch of hallway) for an older child who's walking to get them to stretch/bend/crawl, etc.

Laurie was such a huge fan of this one that I imagine I'll be recycling it in various different guises during future themes.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Back to the Books

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I'm starting a new Open University degree, this time in Classical Studies.

Funny story about that. When I was in a sleep deprived state one night, up late (or early, depending on whether you're a night owl or an early bird), I found myself scrolling through the OU website. I just happened to remember my login details (unused for the better part of four years, that's worthy of a few credits in and of itself).

I managed to make my way to the list of degrees and modules, then fell into a wormhole reading about credit transfer. Somewhere in the back of my brain an idea sparked about doing another degree, and I fired off a quick message to the Student Support Team about transferring credits.

The thing was, I'd gotten involved in a local community group that instead of making me feel like I was putting my Maternity Leave time to good use volunteering, was making me feel miserable and angry and like I was wasting my precious time with my son. As happy as being with my son made me, there were still (at that time) large stretches of the day when he was feeding, or sleeping, and I wasn't really doing much.

Don't get me wrong. I loved stroking his hair and taking him all in, but I wanted for my brain to be working on something as well. I can multitask and drink in my baby whilst doing something with my hands.

And when I got a reply from the Student Support Team just a few days later, I threw caution to the wind and signed myself up.

So now I'm not only busy with a baby who I'm pretty certain will be a toddler before I know it, I'm also working on a new degree as well. It's okay though, I'll be finished by the time he's starting school, all being well.

It technically doesn't start for another week, but I've been cracking on with what I can so that I have a bit of a buffer for going back to work (pushed back now until the start of November). I've completed everything I can of Week 1 and I'm plugging away at Week 2 (which I should actually be doing right now but, well, I'm not because I'm writing this blog post, I should get back to that).

I'm loving it. And tonight I've been reading about the delightfully named Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers who sounds like he should be an address in Surrey!

Better get back to it.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Getting Crafty

It's no surprise to anyone reading this blog to learn that I enjoy working on a variety of different crafty pursuits. One of the things I was most looking forward to doing with Laurie, was exploring some of these hobbies with him.

I have to admit, I was expecting it to be a little while before he was big enough to do things like paint, or colour, but he's surprised me (as he always seems to) and is starting to show an interest in this sort of stuff already.

We took him to a dedication service for the children who had been christened this year and part way through the service we took him up to the Sunday School session. It was a neat little activity about lighthouses and we cut and stuck and Laurie chewed on the plastic cup I was decorating to look like a lighthouse. To be honest, he's still a little small for cutting and sticking, but he seemed to think that the black paper was tasty.

What did surprise me was how interested he was in the pens. So after a few minutes of trying to distract him, I handed him an uncapped pen and the Sunday School teacher passed us a sheet of blue paper. And he had a pretty good time bashing the pen about on it and even made some lines with me guiding his hand.

Which prompted a new activity at home last week.

That's a card we made for his godfather.

I cut out the heart shape, laid out a selection of felt pens and let him pick which colours he wanted to use. He kept returning to the same three pens several times; orange, dark green and dark blue (though the dark blue only made it onto the paper once). Again, I guided his hand and let him do his thing. The heart is creased because after a while he got grabby with it, letting me know he'd had enough of playing with the pens.

That's when his attention turned to my big pack of construction paper. That was a Christmas gift from Mr Click a couple of years ago. Normal 30 year olds get things like jewellery or make up; I still get excited about things like 50 sheets of thick coloured paper!

I flicked through, showing him all the different colours and he got really excited about this shade of blue. So I whipped it out, folded it in half, and stuck the heart on the front.

Voila! Instant card!

The whole activity lasted maybe ten minutes, but it's prompted me to look for some other crafty and slightly more structured activities to do with him.

Maybe it's because of the whole 'training to be a teacher' thing. But I feel like it's easier to come up with fun things to do if there's some sort of idea behind it. I love doing the sensory play stuff because I have a great time coming up with ways to sort his toys (colour, size, texture, type of object) and it's always exciting and new to see how he responds to that day's selection.

And these little arty activities mean I get to say I'm doing things like 'teaching him about colour' and 'developing his fine motor skills', but honestly? It's mostly an excuse for cutting and sticking and coloured paper!

Monday, 10 September 2018

Back to Work

The end of my Maternity Leave is gradually coming into sight. It's a scary thought to think the last time I worked a full day (outside of the home, being a stay at home mum is like having twenty jobs in one) was back in January.

I've been saying I'll go in ever since about June, but then I was away at a family wedding in Wales when I got a phone call to let me know that my team was being axed and the majority of the people on it were taking redundancy. I was lucky that I was on Maternity Leave because that meant there would be a job waiting for me when I got back.

But the not knowing just what job that would be meant I put off getting in touch. My original plan to visit in July seemed a bit silly, after all, my team would become defunct, so there was no point to me sitting and being shown the ropes in something I wouldn't be doing any more. So July passed.

August will forever remain as the month of the Boob-hah (like a hoo-hah, but boobier), which I will blog about in the future. It knocked my confidence a little and didn't put me in the frame of mind to leave Laurie for any great length of time, so I put off my visit a little longer.

Until the very end of the month, when I got a message from a colleague on another team I'm involved with asking if I could come and visit and lend a hand if it wasn't too much trouble. You see, at work I'm known for my superior cutting and sticking skills (seriously, if when I return to work they could offer me a job sitting at a desk, printing out, laminating, cutting out and generally prettifying the displays, I would be thrilled). The remaining team members? Not so hot at the cutting and sticking thing. So they called in the expert.

And today I rocked up, not knowing just how long I'd be in there for, so I'd taken my trusty breast pump along with me, should the occasion arise to use it.

I very nearly had a wobble getting out the car and watching Mr Click drive away with little Laurie tucked into the back seat. Laurie was completely oblivious to the fact that for the first time ever there would be whole miles between him and I; that I wouldn't just be in the next room, or across the building from him if he needed me.

I felt like crying. He apparently was perfectly happy. In fact, he went home and ate steak for lunch. That tells you how much he was missing me!

But I think it did me good to get out of the house and speak to adults who I'm not related to by blood or marriage. Or to people who are seven months old and wear nappies. I was able to have proper conversations which didn't begin with me saying 'mummy's going to go to the toilet' in a high pitched voice, and then continue the subsequent conversation with a baby who is dribbling into a fistful of my hair as I carry him up to the bathroom.

And I was able to talk about just what might happen with me when I go back. Including the one subject I was little nervous about broaching; not going back full time, as had been the original plan when I left. It's looking pretty positive that that's going to be an option for me.

I'm going back next week to put my awesome cutting and sticking skills to good use. In fact, I've spent a chunk of time this evening playing around with fonts for the displays and clip art, just to get an idea of what I'm wanting to do.

And I'll admit that I was secretly hoping that Laurie would give his dad a bit of a hard time while I was away from him, just so that I would still feel needed. Well, he was totally happy and barely noticed I wasn't there. The spousal unit coped marvelously as well.

But then when I got home he tried putting a Size 2 nappy onto my Size 3-wearing baby, so it turns out that I am still needed after all!

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Remember Me?

Uh, hi. If you're reading this it means you probably still check back here occasionally, or have subscribed to me through some sort of blog reader. You might be wondering 'who is this person?' or thinking 'the name looks familiar, where do I know it from?'

Here, I'll give you a clue:

Yeah, I know. I've been an awful blogger.

A number of things conspired against me.

  1. My baby boy is amazing and wonderful and as he grew and his personality developed I just wanted to spend more time with him than doing stuff on my computer (especially since my laptop was big and heavy and took up a lot of room when it was out). Plus, as he got bigger, along with his personality, he became rather awkward to hold on my lap whilst working on other stuff.
  2. Did you notice the past tense use of 'was' when I was talking about my laptop? The keyboard stopped working properly. Do you know how hard it is to write blog posts for Click's Clan when your C-key doesn't work properly? Yeah. It's tough.
  3. We had some medical issues, both Laurie and I. His was lack of weight gain due to his tongue tie not being snipped; mine was a complication related to his birth. We're both more or less on track now. He's getting weighed once a fortnight and I'm getting physiotherapy.
  4. I got involved in a local community group and dedicated a lot of time to it, which ate into my free time for doing things I enjoyed, like blogging. Then there was a big breastfeeding hoo-hah right around the time Laurie turned six months old (when I was planning a comeback blog post) and it made me want to not talk to people very much.
So what's happened since I last blogged.
  1. Well as you can see above, my baby boy has grown and grown. Actually he's still a pretty dinky 15lbs 6oz, but he's long. His legs are in 6-9 month clothes now but his waist and chest can still fit into newborn size clothes!
  2. Laurie has learned to roll over (in both directions), sit up by himself, pull himself up on our hands, and hold on to us to walk around the room. He has a variety of shouts and shrieks that he employs when he wants our attention (or anything else). He follows Tara around calling 'wuwu'. He's trying to say 'hello'. He's just incredible.
  3. I've got a new laptop. It's tiny and shiny (and desperately in need of a name because I love it and referring to it as 'my laptop' just feels terribly impersonal). It even has working USB sockets. And a keyboard I can type the letter C on without resorting to copy and paste. Look CCCCCccccCCCCC!!!
  4. I enrolled for another degree with the Open University. Laurie's a pretty easy going baby and I kind of wish I'd started a course at the beginning of my maternity leave. Degree number three is in Classical Studies and I'm starting A105 Voices, Texts and Material Culture within the next month.
I'm hoping to get some update posts up in the coming weeks to try and catch things up to where we are now. And I fully intend to start blogging regularly again now. I'm not sure how often through the week I'll get to it, but I'd like to think at least once a week.

It'll be a nice distraction from the late night studying.

But anyway, what's new with you?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Breastfeeding: How it's going

Warning: I'm talking about boobs in this post. Obviously this is in the sense of them being my son's source of food, rather than anything else.

Back when we were having the IVF treatment I found myself swinging between 'definitely going to breastfeed' to 'eh, we'll see how it goes'. When I got pregnant I started out leaning towards seeing how it would go but not wanting to put too much pressure on myself.

I was aware that women who have had fertility treatment can be slightly more at risk of postnatal depression. I guess part of it is because you've had a lot of time to think about being a mum and so you build up a picture of how things are supposed to be, as a result of that you put undue pressure to make everything just right. After all, if you couldn't get pregnant on your own, and then the stuff you're supposed to do as a parent doesn't go the way it's meant to, then perhaps the universe was justified in not giving you that baby naturally; maybe you're not really cut out for it. You can see why it can affect the way a person thinks.

So I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself to breastfeed simply because I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself with regards to anything when the baby was born. I stocked up on bottles (well, my Mum generously stocked us up on bottles) and even got some formula in so we were ready.

But then as the pregnancy progressed and I was so ill I found myself worrying about how I would bond with the baby. Then once I started feeling him move and I did bond with him I became painfully aware of the fact that sooner or later I wouldn't have that close connection with my baby anymore. He'd be out in the world and anyone could comfort him, anyone could change his nappy or cuddle him or put him to bed. But breastfeeding would enable me to be the only one to feed him. And as the pregnancy went on, I became more and more determined to breastfeed.

I was worried, of course. I worried that I would hate it; I'm not really into physically contact all that much and breastfeeding requires quite a bit of physically contact between feeder and feedee. I worried that my milk wouldn't come in or would dry up. I worried that I wouldn't know how much my baby boy was getting to drink. I worried it would hurt. I worried that all the nipple creams contained lanolin and I'm allergic so would have to suffer with dry cracked nipples with nothing to soothe them.

If you can think of a breastfeeding related anxiety, I probably had it. And then some you probably never would have considered as well.

As I blogged about previously, we got off to a slightly rocky start with breastfeeding. The rough delivery and my being so poorly afterwards meant my milk took a while to come in. I was all set with colostrum; with a midwife's help I managed to express 2ml into a syringe on Laurie's birthday. Two measly mils but I felt like a superhero. Laurie lapped that stuff up and it just strengthened my resolve.

I'm a stubborn sort of person, so if someone says I can't do something, it only makes me more determined to do it. So when we had the blip with Laurie's weight and we had to supplement with formula, damnit I was going to breastfeed and I was going to do it well. Even if that meant giving my little boy formula as a top up to help him out.

Once home I was leant a pump by our local midwives. I'd been using the Medela Symphony in the hospital and was expecting something similar. What I got was something altogether more industrial looking and I just couldn't get on with it.

I was supposed to be pumping after a feed, on the breast he'd last fed on. In the hospital I'd been getting 20ml a time (10ml per boob) in 20 minutes. At home I was getting 10ml (that's total from both boobs together) and it was taking an hour. And that was an hour that I couldn't be feeding my son.

It worried me that perhaps Laurie wasn't getting enough milk, that the poor little guy was starving and we'd have to give it up entirely. But then I did a bit of research and discovered the pump funnel I was using was 32ml, whereas the one in the hospital had been 24ml. The 32ml funnel was sucking not only my nipple into the tube but also a sizeable bit of boob. And I'm not exactly small breasted. It was painful and made my nipples look like champagne corks, which Laurie then couldn't latch onto.

I gave it a good couple of goes before abandoning the electric pump. I had more success with the hand pump I got from Boots, except it made my hand cramp, I had to work at it for twice as long as the hospital pump to get 20ml, and the thing kept dismantling itself. In the end I gave the electric pump back as they didn't have a smaller funnel I could use with it.

And to be honest, I've not really needed to pump recently. I was going to before our trip to the mainland the other day but Laurie introduced me to the wonderful world of cluster feeding that Saturday and I couldn't get him off the boob long enough to pump.

But he's obviously getting enough as he's gaining weight well now so while it would be nice for his daddy to feed him occasionally, I'm here with him and it's a lot less effort to pop out a boob than to organise a bottle (or as we've been doing, cup feeding).

As I didn't want to invest too much money in breastfeeding before I knew if I'd stick with it, I didn't get any proper nursing clothing beyond my maternity bras. But it turns out I can just wear what I normally wear.

My usual outfit is a long-sleeved top with a Primark vest top underneath. I thought I'd need to switch to some sort of nursing vest top and button front tops. Turns out that my regular clothes are just perfect, especially the larger size vest tops I got during pregnancy to accommodate the growing bump. I just raise the long-sleeved top, pull down the vest top and unsnap my bra. This means I'm able to discreetly feed Laurie and I'm not flashing too much skin.

I mean, look, you'd never know I was doing it:

Please note, this is also photographic evidence of my first time feeding my son in public.

I was kind of worried about this. I even packed a premade bottle of formula in the nappy bag in case I bottled out. My boy was hungry as we got off the ferry so when we got on the train feeding him was the easiest thing.

I'm lucky in that I'm finding breastfeeding relatively easy. My right nipple can get a bit tender sometimes because Laurie's tongue tie makes latching on this side challenging for him. It's mostly during night feeds when we're both tired that it gets sore because I'm tired and lazy about getting him to stay on correctly. That said, I'm yet to use my £18 nipple balm (lanolin free, obviously, hence the price tag).

Breastfeeding will never be right for everyone. At the end of the day, what's best for baby is being fed, regardless of whether that milk is coming from a boob or a bottle.

But for me, breastfeeding is right for us. It's free, there's no sterilising to fiddle with, there's no preparation beyond arranging your clothes for boob access. I'm cheap and lazy and it works for me.

It also allows me a certain degree of closeness with my boy. I'm hoping to keep going for as long as Laurie wants to.

Though I may need to reconsider how I feel about that once he has teeth!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Five Weeks Old

Laurie hit five weeks old this morning. It's a little bit scary how quickly time is going. Five weeks ago he was a tiny little thing (though he seemed huge at the time); now he's so much bigger and such a proper little person too. It's amazing that someone so tiny can have so much character.

Day One and Day Thirty-Five

I feel like this last week we've seen a major jump in how alert and aware of his surroundings our little boy is. He's settled into a real pattern of activity now so I can predict when he'll be awake and wanting entertaining and when he'll be sleepy or hungry. And quite often when he cries it seems to be because he's bored rather than because he's hungry.

Tuesday was a massive milestone for me. I spent the whole day alone with him, from 9am to 9pm. I was a little worried about how I'd get on with him. As it happened we got on very well. He spent an awful lot of the time looking like this:

He even slept through the vacuum cleaner. In fact, he slept through that quite happily but woke up when I foolishly closed the kitchen door.

Mr Click returned home that night with a baby hamper from our local supermarket! We've been so lucky with all the gifts we've received from people but they've been so unexpected. It's incredible to think that there are so many people who love our little boy. We're so fortunate.

We had another Health Visitor appointment and Laurie impressed her by weighing 7lbs 15oz. He's almost back to that all important birth weight (though I'd say he's about right on track considering his birth weight was rather inflated due to the fluids I had sitting labour). And we don't need another visit for a couple of weeks.

She also brought our Book Bug bag of books. I'm always thrilled to get new books and I think Laurie's enjoying them too.

We're getting plenty of walks in too. Wednesday was a walk down town with the pram and Saturday was on the estate with the Ergobaby carrier.

Laurie stayed more awake in the carrier than he does in the pram. He was having a good look around as we walked and the only time he cried was when we stopped for a few minutes to take photos. I'm looking forward to many more walks like this. I'm a bit out of shape so we're working up to it gradually but it feels good to get out the house and see the area where we live. It's changed a bit in the last year.

And yesterday was my first Mother's Day.

It's been a long time coming.

Laurie spoiled me by sleeping late so I was able to use both hands to eat my breakfast! I also got cards, some gifts and afternoon tea out at a local beach. It was definitely worth the wait.

We're also getting proper smiles now too. I'm yet to catch one on camera but it's the cutest thing. His eyes crinkle up like little crescent moons and his mouth curls up. It's my new favourite thing in the world.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

My First Mother's Day

First things first:

Happy Mother's Day to all:
 - the mums
 - the stepmums
 - the dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other family members who are taking the place of mums
 - the mums to be

and especially to the people who find the day tough, the people who have been dreading the day since the shops started advertising it coming, the people who don't have a mum to spoil and celebrate with, and all the mums with empty arms who won't be waking up to sticky kisses and homemade cards:
 - the ones who have said goodbye to their little ones far too early
 - the ones who never got to meet them or hold them and discover the awesome people they would become
 - the ones who are mothers at heart but are still waiting for the child who will complete them

Have a wonderful gentle day.

Today was my first ever proper Mother's Day as a mother. I've had Mother's Days before, but they were with frozen embryos waiting for me in Glasgow, or after we'd lost the twins so there was no baby bump to celebrate with. I was more excited for this day than for my own birthday this year.

And my boys didn't let me down.

Laurie slept late so I was able to eat my breakfast with both hands free. And then there were cards (from both Laurie and my Mum), and a gift bag containing chocolate, a teddy and a mummy mug.

And then there was a surprise trip out for cake and afternoon tea.

Laurie was a little angel and slept through it.

It's been a wonderful weekend (yesterday there was a relaxing bath and Chinese). And I'm looking forward to celebrating again in the years to come.

Friday, 9 March 2018

One Month of Laurie

I'm currently lying in bed with my little guy snuggled up beside me and I should really use this time that he's sleeping to nap myself, you know, the whole 'sleep when they sleep' thing. But I know that the minute I try to close my eyes, he'll start demanding another feed; Laurie has a sixth sense for knowing when mummy is trying to do things that don't involve him.

Case in point: He's just started to stir, burped and is now trying to latch on to my t-shirt! He knows!

Bear with me...

Okay, now he's happily nursing, I can continue.

I thought I should do a quick run through of the first four weeks of Laurie in the hopes that I can start blogging a little more frequently about how awesome my son is. And other things of course.

Week One was mostly spent getting to know the little guy and most of this was done in hospital. That kind of meant that once we were discharged we had to relearn who we were in our normal home environment.

I'm going to do this in bullet points since it's easier.

  • The journey home was uncomfortable for me since it was the longest I'd sat upright since I'd had him. Probably not helped by the detour to Tesco and Boots as I searched for a hand pump.
  • Laurie didn't stir from the moment we fastened him into the car seat to the time we got home. I sat in the back seat with him and occasionally poked him to check he was still breathing.
  • His first visitors were in the Co Op car park where I was sitting in the car with him while my Mum and Mr Click went to pick up essentials. His next visitors were our next door neighbours when we arrived back at the house.
  • We had our first midwife visit and I was loaned a pump which I DID NOT get on with.
  • He also had his first visit from Mr Click's parents. They loved him, of course.

Week Two dawned and we started to settle into a routine of sorts. Some days we didn't leave the house, some days I didn't get dressed, some days I did but only long enough for the midwife visit and then I was back to jammies.
  • We celebrated it being exactly one year since Laurie's conception. That was kind of weird, holding my nine day old son and knowing his life had started exactly one year beforehand.
  • I finally did my last injection for the foreseeable future. I'd been put back on clexane after the birth due to blood loss, transfusion and lack of movement putting me at risk of clots.
  • We had more midwife visits, Laurie continued to very slowly put on weight.
  • He also started to develop his own little routine, giving us 3-4 chunks of sleep at a time through the night. He's been pretty consistent about this ever since which is awesome. I'm actually getting more sleep now than during pregnancy!
  • We got him registered. That felt like such a big deal to me. Just seeing his name written out in full makes me smile. Afterwards we went out for lunch, this was my first proper trip out, and I psyched myself up for feeding him in public. He slept the whole time.
  • I realised that my pre-pregnancy clothes fitted me again! Just in time to venture out for another lunch, which once again, Laurie slept through!
  • His Naini did lots of knitting; first a trio of woodland creatures (two hedgehogs and a squirrel) and then a cute little pixie hat. She also did lots of dog walking, washing up, laundry, ironing, vacuuming, general reassuring, baby cuddling and comforting, and taught us how to give Laurie a bath. I don't know what we'd have done without her!

We began Laurie's third week feeling fairly confident that we were getting the hang of things.
  • Of course then we said goodbye to my Mum which meant we had to settle into a new routine with one less pair of hands.
  • That day I also sent Mr Click to his band practice so I spent about three hours home alone with the baby. It was kind of scary and also wonderful too. I spent most of the time trying to get the washing up done; I got as far as putting the washing up liquid in the bowl. It was a successful evening.
  • We had our first health visitor visit before Mum left. She picked up on his jaundice so later in the week we had a visit from a midwife to do a bilirubin check, which then led to a paediatrician call, which then led to a hospital appointment for the following week. This was a little alarming though we didn't actually think there was a problem. Spoiler alert: There wasn't.
  • Laurie started getting really alert and aware of the world around him. He's developed a fascination for the strings of cards up on the wall, the curtains, the pattern on my in-laws' sofa. His eyes seemed to get a shade lighter too. It was amazing to see how he changes from day to day.
  • He also had a bit of the snuffles, poor guy. We got this saline nasal spray which he hated. The more we used it, the better he came to recognise the spray bottle and started crying before we could get it in his nose. It took two of us to do it in the end. Happily he was only snuffly for a couple of days.
  • My Mum and Stepdad bought us our travel system and we'd been using the car seat every time we went out with Laurie, but we'd not taken him out in the pram until this week. I was finally feeling up to walking a more substantial distance so we took a stroll to town and back. It took about 90 minutes because people kept stopping to see the baby and talk to us. It was great.
  • We also got our Ergobaby carrier. I'd tried Laurie in the fabric wrap sling and he responded like I was torturing him. He fell asleep in the Ergobaby carrier and I was able to cut Mr Click's hair while I carried the baby. We're planning some short walks on the estate in the coming weeks.
  • And Laurie's little personality is coming out in spades. Remember when I was pregnant and his stuck his foot up his nose on the scan? Well he's still just as much of a little goofball. On his three week birthday we couldn't help but behind even more aware of what a cheeky little guy he is. I can't wait to see how this side of him develops.

On his three week birthday, the start of fourth week with us, Laurie had his first trip off the island.
  • This was as a result of the bilirubin check the previous week. Rather than driving we took the train and bus, with Laurie in the pram. I had my first experience (or four) of breastfeeding in public and he mostly slept. His appointment went well too, though he was thoroughly unimpressed at having his blood taken, otherwise I think he enjoyed the day. And he got his first (but not last) experience of being out in the snow.
  • Then things got a little crazy with the weather.
  • My Aunt and Nan came up for a visit, then got stuck in Scotland (though not on the island unfortunately) because of the weather. Laurie and I were snowed in for the rest of the week. It was just too deep and icy for us to safely get out, though luckily Mr Click was able to venture out on the Friday for more supplies. I read a lot and got kind of stir crazy from watching so many films but there was little else for us to do.
  • It was kind of funny to see Laurie's reaction when we took him to the window first thing each morning, it would be so bright that he could barely open his eyes. He'd just look really puzzled by it each time we went to the window.
  • I invested in a second-hand breastfeeding pillow from the local Facebook resale page. This thing is a godsend. I'm able to feed Laurie whilst retaining the use of one, sometimes two hands. The biggest thing this enables me to do is actually use a knife and fork again rather than trying to do things one-handed.
  • Laurie also likes to be held. To start off with I was trying to put him down in the Moses basket whenever he fell asleep, but inevitably he'd wake up and start crying; sometimes it'd only be a few minutes, sometimes we'd get an hour or more. Kid just likes to be cuddled. The pillow means he can dose off and still feel held close, but I have my hands free. To be honest, I love holding him and I love that the place he's happiest to fall asleep is my arms. He'll only be small and cuddly for a little while so I intend to get as many cuddles in as I can now.
  • I think it won't be much longer before we get a real smile from him as well. He's coming so close. His eyes look like little inverted brackets and he opens his mouth real wide. His Great Aunt brought him a little monkey wooby and I've been bopping Laurie on the nose with it; most of the time he gives you his little proto-smile back. I can't wait to see it for real and figure out what we need to do to bring it out.

And now we're closing in on the end of his fourth week with us.

He's doing so well and growing so fast. The last month has both gone so quickly and so slowly. It's all kinds of surreal and incredible.

And a little part of me still can't quite believe he's mine!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Hospital Stay

Thank you for all the kind messages welcoming little Laurence to the world. And yes, I'm biased, but he is without a doubt the most adorable baby I've ever laid eyes on.

As I mentioned on his birth announcement post, we had a bit of an extended stay in hospital so I thought I'd say a few words about that.

Day 3
Laurie was born on the third day of my hospital stay so I'm starting from there.

Allow me to take you back for a second to the minutes following my son's birth. After he'd had his checks by the paediatrician I was handed a bawling, wrinkle-faced newborn. I'd wanted to say something really profound to him but instead I think I mumbled something about being his mummy and kept repeating 'I know, I know' in response to his cries. I was feeling rather swimmy headed at the time.

At one point I glanced down the bed and saw the placenta had been delivered and marvelled at the fact I wasn't aware of that actually happening. I also noticed that there seemed to be rather a lot of people working down that end of the bed.

Then someone came back and said that the baby was going to his daddy now and started talking about me going to theatre. As they took Laurie from my arms and handed him to Mr Click I took another look down the bed where there seemed to be even more people and a bowl full of blood. Somewhere at the back of my mind I managed to focus on the thought 'oh no, that's not good'.

And the next thing I knew I was being wheeled away to theatre.

Although I'd been told I might not be knocked out, once there the decision was made to put me under. I found myself painfully aware of an episode of ER where Abby has Luka's baby and she haemorrhages so has a hysterectomy. My last thought as they put me to sleep was 'please don't take my uterus' and rather hilariously in hindsight 'it's going to be expensive enough to fund a frozen embryo transfer, I can't afford a surrogate as well!'

And the next thing I knew I was coming round in some place with Mr Click on one side of me and a baby in a plastic crib on the other. I guess I drifted in and out of consciousness for a while because at one point Mr Click told me he was going and then the next minute I was aware that he wasn't there anymore.

By about lunchtime I was conscious and once I found my phone I messaged my husband asking him to come back. I'd had a cuddle with the baby, with the help of a midwife, but I'd also been told I needed a blood transfusion and I wanted Mr Click with me right then and there. He'd been sent to the hotel by the midwives to get some rest and had intended to come back to see me later that afternoon anyway.

The rest of that day is a bit of a jumbled blur. There was an attempt to breastfeed, a session of expressing colostrum into a syringe, a bed bath and the changing of my sheets/getting dressed into a nightie. I know that last one happened before the blood transfusion because I'm wearing the nightie in the photo Mr Click took of me holding Laurie whilst receiving the blood but I have no recollection of when it actually happened.

The day ended with one of the midwives coming to tell me, shortly before midnight, that it was snowing outside. A nice little welcome to the world for Laurie from his snowflake siblings.

Day 4
This was the day I finally made it out of recovery and onto the ward (which I then Brianne convinced I would never leave). I'd been kept in recovery because there was a chance I was going to need another blood transfusion, something I managed to avoid.

Once I had my catheter out I was able to get up, go pee and then take a shower. Just going to the toilet proved to be exhausting and on the short walk back to my bed I wondered if I would make it. Every step hurt. Thankfully I was able take my shower sitting down.

Laurie and I were then wheeled up to the ward where we ended up in the same room as my stay at 9 weeks, in fact I was in the bed next to the one I stayed in before. That meant my window looked on to the corridor rather than out on to the roof.

My Mum arrived and she and Mr Click came in to visit. Technically only partners are allowed to visit 11am to 9pm, extra visitors are supposed to follow the afternoon visiting times. We were able to get special dispensation due to her having come all the way from Wales.

I was thrilled to see both of them, but again, most of Tuesday is a bit of a blur. Mum brought Laurie and I some gifts, and I remember some suggestively shaped cream cakes. We chatted through the day and passed the baby back and forth. Mostly I felt really tired, I'm guessing this was a combination of the birth, exhaustion and the blood transfusion (which I've heard can make people feel funny for a while afterwards).

Day 5
I was anticipating this being my last full day in the hospital. I felt like I was moving a lot easier, though this was the day I toppled over backwards, landing on my backside, as I crouched down to pick something up. I'm still feeling bruised from that!

This was the day that breastfeeding properly clicked for us. Laurie has a slight tongue tie and that combined with the traumatic birth/blood loss slowed down my milk coming in. Laurie got the hang of latching on the left side but because of the tongue tie it took a touch longer to get the hang of latching on the right.

As you can see from the photo above, Laurie had a touch of jaundice. It was within normal levels though, so we weren't too concerned and all his other checks were fine. Though he needed a retest on his hearing screening.

There was still some concern about my blood pressure being high and my iron levels being low. All the stuff I was being given for pain, iron levels, and to help me go to the loo, along with too much dairy, conspired against me and upset my stomach, which then had them questioning whether I might have an infection and need quarantining. But I was determined I was getting out the following day, although in hindsight a quarantine room would have helped me get a little more sleep I'm sure.

I was also looking forward to getting home and getting into a proper routine with the baby. At night in the hospital it was just me and Laurie; I know there were midwives and auxiliary staff to help, but it felt an awful lot like going it alone. At home I knew I would have two extra pairs of hands any time I needed them, and I wouldn't have to wave them off at the end of the day just when I needed them most.

Day 6
We were going home! Mum and Mr Click had been having to extend their stay at the B&B but this was the day they would check out and finally head back to the island.

That morning I dressed Laurie in the little outfit I'd planned for his going home. He was totally channelling baby Toby from Labyrinth.

I showered and dressed and started to organise all my stuff ready to get out of there.

Alas it was not to be.

The midwife came to do the discharge paperwork and went through everything with me. We were almost ready to go.

Then someone decided to weigh Laurie. I've since found out that it's not standard procedure to weigh the baby at this point and also due to the length of time I was receiving fluids during labour he was incredibly puffed up so had a lot of fluids weight to lose.

Laurie was down 11% of his birth weight, so we weren't allowed to leave.

I cried.

I was feeling miserable. I was running out of clean things to wear. The baby was running out of clean things to wear. The hospital food was upsetting my stomach. The constant noise and light on the ward was keeping me from sleeping. My backside was sore from my tumble and the hospital bed wasn't helping that at all. The toilet paper was rough.

Not getting to go home brought it all to a head, especially because this latest turn of events meant that apparently I was starving my son or something.

I was set up with a breast pump and the plan was to pump every three hours in the hopes that Laurie would gain back that magic 2% of his birth weight to get us out of there. We cup fed him to avoid him getting an easy go with the bottle (since his tongue tie meant he had to work harder at the breast) and I started to feel confident that we were doing a good job.

Until that night when one of the midwives told me off for comfort nursing the little man to get him to sleep, told me she'd seen more babies struggle with switching between cup and breastfeeding than switching between bottle and breastfeeding, and told me if he was fussing and keeping me awake she'd take him away and give him a bottle of formula.

I cried some more and spent the rest of my hospital stay pretending to be asleep when she came round.

Day 7
I had a feeling we wouldn't be getting out of there this day. Whereas the previous day I'd confidently showered and dressed, I didn't bother this time. I guess deep down I knew he hadn't gained anything.

First there was the matter of his jaundice. He still registered a reading on the meter but it was low enough to be normal for his age.

But his weight? He'd not lost anything, but he hadn't gained any either. So we were still stuck.

This time I really cried. In fact, just thinking about that hopeless, helpless feeling I felt stuck in that hospital bed, no fresh air, no proper daylight, no proper food or loo roll, makes me want to tear up a bit. Even though I'm writing this in the comfort of my own home, my own bed, nursing my son with my Labrador at my feet.

We got a new feeding plan. I was to pump to feed him and then top him up with formula, then offer the breast in between times. Even at the time this sounded backwards to me. Surely to encourage him to feed he needed more opportunities to take the boob, not less.

The result of this was, of course, that he would fill up on the milk I pumped, take the formula I coaxed into him, then would fall asleep any time I tried to put him on the boob. He was full, he didn't need to breastfeed. And the formula made him sicky and gassy. So I was constantly having to get his bedding changed and mop him up.

On the plus side, I did learn how to cup feed by myself so I didn't have to spend the night pushing the buzzer and hoping I didn't get the midwife who made me cry.

Despite the feeding plan feeling like the complete opposite of what I should be doing, I went along with it because I wanted out. But I also formulated a plan.

If his weight was down again at the next weigh in I would ask to switch to formula feeding, even though it made him puke and windy. I'd formula feed til he gained enough to get us out of there and then once home I'd ask the local midwives for help reestablishing breastfeeding.

I also intended to send a text to one of the local midwives or get Mr Click to give them a call because the hospital seemed to think that once we left we would be on our own, as though we lived in some little backwater without maternity or postnatal care.

They kept telling me it was better to be there than risk having to be readmitted later. But I had a horrible feeling that part of the reason we were still there was because I was still in hospital. It was like a vicious circle; the longer I was there, the more stressed and tired I became, and the more stressed and tired I became, the harder it was to feed Laurie, so we were detained even longer.

Having a plan to help get us out made me feel a little better and I was optimistic that if we called on the local midwives, they might help us escape.

The Escape
As it turns out, that wasn't necessary.

My final morning in hospital dawned and the midwife who admitted me exactly a week before was on shift. And she was shocked to see me still there.

I told her everything that had happened that week and she replied 'we'll get you out today'. All my nefarious plotting to get us out come hell or high water was unnecessary. I was getting out of there.

I also spoke to her about my feeding plan and admitted I was basically going along with it to get out of the hospital and she said one of the best things to me. Seriously, this is something that all new mums should be told. Midwives should have it tattooed across their foreheads.

She said 'Ultimately we can only give you guidance. At the end of the day, it's your baby and you have to do what's right for you and him.'

And then she weighed him and he was at 9% down from his birth weight, so we were allowed to leave. I couldn't believe it. I'd not let myself believe it was possible so I hadn't even bothered to get dressed.

And so we were finally able to venture out into the big wide world with our son and head home.

Via Boots to pick up a breast pump. Which I've used once since we got it.

Because it turns out that being home makes me feel so much more relaxed that breastfeeding goes a hell of a lot easier!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Introducing the baby formerly known as Bo...

I'm a little late posting this, considering the boy will be four weeks old on Monday. In my defence, I've been kind of tied up with a newborn, so I think I can be excused.

The short version is that I went into the hospital on the 3rd of February. Induction was started via pessary and two days later, shortly before 5am, weighing 8lbs 7oz (so much for my predicted 7lber, but on the plus side, I basically was back to my pre-pregnancy weight simply by delivering the baby), Laurence John Henry was born.

The long version is long. And contains way too much information about my cervix, so if you're not into that sort of thing, just enjoy this photo of my son on his birthday.

I arrived at the hospital at 2.30pm on the 3rd, got hooked up to a monitor and then around half an hour later got pessary number one. Within a few hours of this I was getting waves of period pain which I didn't realise until I was hooked up to the monitor later on were actually contractions. At my first examination my cervix was too high to feel properly.

I took some paracetamol and something with codeine which eased them off for a while but they son came back with a vengeance and my second examination revealed the cervix was lower and the midwife could feel it starting to open. By the time I was being monitored with pessary number two I was having regular contractions which were registering around 30/40 on the monitor.

These of course tapered off during the early hours of the morning and virtually stopped completely which was disheartening but my third examination allowed the midwife to touch the baby's head so they'd obviously been doing something. I was later examined by a doctor (with the largest hands in the world!) who was able to tickle the baby's head (and what felt like my tonsils as well!) sand pronounced my waters ready to break.

I had a wait of about an hour to go to the labour ward and was expecting more of a wait to get things started once I was there, but things progressed pretty quickly.

I got checked in just before 5pm and we ran through the plan. My waters were broken about an hour later and I discovered the joys of gas and air. There was meconium in the water which changed our plans for immediately after delivery slightly (no delayed cord clamping or skin to skin until he'd been checked over) but they were happy with his heartbeat and everything at the time.

I'd planned to labour upright and on all fours as much as possible and did try both but couldn't get comfortable on my feet (and the gas and air made my feet feel sort of numb which was distracting) and all fours made the contractions feel different. In the end we adjusted the bed into a chair and I perched on the edge of it in a sort of squat for a lot of the time, occasionally turning round and hanging over the edge.

I'm not sure how far into things I was but it was a few hours from the start that I started to panic that the gas and air wasn't helping with the contractions so well. Although I'd said I didn't want morphine, I took it and the relief was immense. The gas and air started helping again and I was able to snooze occasionally as well. As the contractions the night before had kept me awake, this was very much needed. Poor Mr Click had even less sleep than me that weekend!

By the early hours of the morning I was starting to get an urge to push and an examination showed I was at 7cm. I had arrested to struggle with pain relief again and tried to decide whether I wanted an epidural. I was concerned about being stuck on the bed as I was back to experimenting with different positions so I was allowed to wait a little longer and have some more morphine.

I then panicked that I'd made the wrong decision as the pain got steadily more intense. This was due to his head moving right down though and it wasn't long before I had an uncontrollable urge to push.

I must have been pushing for about three hours in total. At 2.40am the midwife asked me what time I wanted him out by and I said 3am. Well, that didn't happen and neither did my next target of 4am.

This was easily the worst part of the whole labour (and that's including the multiple times I threw up thanks to a combination of not having my ondansetron and taking the morphine). I was in agony; the gas and air wasn't touching it to the point that I mostly gave up using it because all it was doing was making me feel fuzzy without taking away the pain. We cycled through a bunch of positions but they seemed to either increase the pain too much or dull it to the point where I couldn't push effectively.

Once again I ended up sort of sit-squatting on the bed. I was getting exhausted and miserable and panicky. The midwife basically told me that I needed to get him out or we'd be looking at forceps/ventose. That was probably what I needed because I started pushing like a woman possessed.

I was led to believe I would forget the pain but it's still very fresh in my mind. Somehow I knew I was going to tear but I kept on pushing and it all happened in seconds. One moment I was trying to get his head out sand the next minute it was delivered, there was a wet slithery feeling and suddenly there was a massive baby on the bed between my legs!

He was rushed off to be checked over because of the meconium. He was brought back to me briefly but by that point I was bleeding very heavily so he went to his dad instead while they tried to get my bleeding under control.

I'd torn very badly but I was also having a post-partum haemorrhage and my uterus wasn't doing what it was supposed to. The next thing I was getting whisked off to theatre and knocked out for a repair job. Mr Click and Laurie got a lovely long cuddle though and whenever Laurence is having a big crying jag, his dad just needs to speak to him to calm him down. It's amazing and I'm so glad they got that time to bond.

I wound up with a third degree tear and lost 1.8l of blood so needed a transfusion. The swelling to my nether regions was incredible, I've never seen anything like it! I spent Laurie's first day on earth with a condom full of cold water in my (super sexy mesh) pants to help bring it down some!

Hospital proved to be a bit of an ordeal. I'll maybe blog a little about our stay later. We didn't get discharged until a full week after we'd been admitted for the induction. This was both expensive (as Mr Click and my mum had to check into a B&B and then check out each day as they waited to find out if Laurie and I were going to be discharged, then check back in when we weren't) and incredibly stressful (which is really the last thing you need when you've j just had a baby).

All the same, Laurie is a little delight. After a shaky start, we've got the hang of breastfeeding. He's been an alert little boy from day one and in the last almost month had become even more alert and engaging.

On the whole he's very happy. He cries when he's hungry, if he's dirty or if he's not happy about the amount of attention he's getting. Once we got out of hospital he started sleeping like a dream, giving us 3-4 hour stretches at a time.

He's got really big hands and feet, is incredibly strong (he's been trying to hold his head up since day one and can push himself off your lap with his legs). His hair is incredibly soft, getting blonder by the day and he has this little widow's peak thing going on at the front. His eyes are blue and have been getting lighter since he was born; I can't wait to see what shade they end up.

He also farts like no one else I know!

We've stumbled over some hurdles since he was born. First there was my recovery, then he lost 11% of his birth weight so we couldn't be discharged (though since then we've established this was largely due to me, and so also him, being pumped full of fluids for twelve hours during labour so he was born all puffed up), then there was an extended period of jaundice which needed to be looked in to.

But almost a month into this parenting thing and I feel like we're doing a good job. I've got a handle on what he wants and needs so I'm hoping I'll be able to blog a little more frequently again but in the meantime if you're being a little more of a Laurie fix (and who could blame you, he's adorable), I post rather obsessively on Instagram at the moment.