Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Breastfeeding ::

I am certainly no expert at the art of breast feeding, but I have had 2 very different experiences of it now. So I'd like to share with you some of what I've learned.
My first was utterly dreadful. I had every breast feeding related ailment going, cracked, bleeding nipples, mastitis (5 cases in all I think I racked up) thrush (both in Milo's mouth and my nipples, a side effect of the antibiotics I was constantly on for the mastitis) and abscesses. Of all the things the abscesses were probably the worst. When I got the first, I dutiful turned up to see my GP only to be quickly sent straight to A and E as soon as he clapped eyes on the angry puss filled lump growing on my breast. Here I had to wait hours for a surgeon who rather painfully removed as much of the puss as he could. Bearing in mind I had been in labour less than 2 weeks prior to this, I declared it the most painful experience of my life. I spent the next few days making daily visits for more puss removal (I asked for anaesthetic injections on all of the following trips). Not long after the first was on it's way to healing (I still bear the massive scar) another little bubble appeared on the other breast. I was back at the hospital later that day, where I would return every day for almost 2 weeks. The second was worse because it was much deeper.

Feeding Milo on our first night at home.

I experienced a lot of awful healthcare professionals during that ordeal, doctors who told me 'it's really time you give up [breastfeeding] now' when I called for yet another antibiotic prescription and another who told me my milk was no good for my baby anyway and he shouldn't be drinking it as it would be full of infections, something that was declared nonsense by the doctor I saw just 10 minutes later (she was my favourite). But there were some lovely ones too, the aforementioned favourite who gave me her direct number and who I saw almost everyday for 2 weeks. The lovely receptionists and nurses who would coo over Milo whilst I was being prodded with needles, the beautiful La Leche League lady on the end of the phone who was the only person to tell me 'yes your baby is latching on incorrectly' everyone else had said 'it looks right'. My favourite GP (now retired) who declared 'of course you're miserable, look at everything you're going through' when everyone else kept telling me I had post natal depression and needed medication, something I wanted to avoid.
By the time all this was over Milo had no interest in feeding from me (I could hardly blame him) but I had kept my milk supply and I pumped and bottle fed him for 6 months, it was exhausting, hard work and my first few months of my baby boys life were not exactly the bliss filled days of motherhood I was expecting!

 bottle feeding Milo in the park

I expect this was part of the reason I didn't think I wanted anymore children and why there is such an age gap between them. Ask any failed breastfeeder, there is no greater guilt than that of not being able to feed your baby. It's meant to be so natural, everyone else manages ok, why am I so useless? The simple truth is it just isn't always as easy as it should be.
When I found out I was pregnant with Effie, the first thing I said to Johhny was, 'if I decide it's best I will feed her formula from the moment she is born and I will not feel guilty for it'. As it was, as the birth drew nearer I realised I really wanted to give it another go. I had learned so much from my experience with Milo and I wanted to implement all that knowledge. You know what, this time it's easy. Yes my nipples were sore to begin, yes I was in agony when my milk came in, but apart from thrush (had to have antibiotics during labour) so far so good. This has taught me that every mother's experience of breast feeding is going to be different as will every baby's. We all have to make our own choices and decide what the best decisions are for us and our individual babies.

breastfeeding Effie - a couple of days old

From my humble experience, here are some of the things I learned, to prepare yourself for what lies ahead if you do decide breastfeeding is for you ::

  • Get yourself a tube of Lansinoh. By far and away the best nipple cream! Put it in your hospital and apply after every feed right from the start. The lanolin prevents your nipples cracking and scabbing, plus it's all natural so no need to wash off before feeding.
  • Do some research. I literally knew nothing about breastfeeding before I had Milo. I read a million birth stories and a ton of books on childbirth, yet knew nothing about how to look after my baby. Understanding how supply and demand works in terms of breast feeding, how you produce more milk at night time, the importance of correct latch and how to hand express will all make those first few days a little easier.
  • Hot flannels and a little bit of expressing will be super beneficial when your milk comes in. I woke up on the second night with Effie with the most ridiculously huge breasts. They were so painful for the next few days, using Natural Birthing Company's engorged breasts oil (from their lovely Bosom Buddies Breast Feeding Survival kit) with some super hot water and flannels really helped. I did this a couple of times a day, I also expressed a little bit of milk off before and after each feed to ease the pain a little.

  • Use YouTube! The day I spent alone in hospital I watched numerous 'latching on' videos, playing them over and over and practicing with my real life baby when she was awake. Getting that correct latch is the most important thing as far as I can tell. If it feels wrong take the baby off and start again.
  • Know that it does get easier. Your nipples will get sore, but they will toughen up. It will be, literally, toe curlingly painful when the baby latches on at first (the pain should stop once they are feeding) but that will stop, I don't even remember when it did for me but at some point it did. Once you've done it a couple of times you become quite blasé about feeding in public (two tops one to go up one to go down is my best advice to retain some modesty). Sleepless nights don't get much easier, though you do get more used to the sleep deprivation! 
  • Babies have growth spurts. Be warned that there may be occasions where they will feed and feed and feed for what will feel like all eternity. I have never wanted to be able to get off the sofa and do the housework so much! But you know what they aren't tiny forever and you won't always have such a good excuse to sit on your bum eating all the cake (essential breastfeeding nourishment in my opinion) binge watching The Walking Dead. So make the most of it, that and the privilege of being able to demand your other half fetch you food and drinks as required.

I don't know how long I'll feed Effie for, but as far as I can tell right now, it'll be for a long time yet. Everyone talks about the magic 6 week mark. That's the time everything suddenly falls into place, so I've been told. We're not quite there yet, just a few days to go, but I can already see that the longer you stick at breast feeding the easier it becomes, but if it doesn't work out for you and your baby it really doesn't matter. Milo was fed formula (along with my pumped milk) from just a few days old, he's healthy and clever, he's independent and loving, he is the least fussy eater of his age I know and he has no memory of any of those first few months of his life. He literally couldn't care less how he was fed, the main thing is he was fed and he is loved, nothing else matters.

Milo feeding himself - at 7 months

Monday, 27 October 2014

Monday, 20 October 2014

Handmade Baby Gifts :: The Knits ::

There's nothing like bringing a new life into the world to help realise how many wonderfully kind and generous people you have in your life. I cannot tell you how many gifts this little girl (and her big brother) have received, both before she was even born and in the last few weeks.
Not only that but, my do I have some talented friends too. I really wanted to share with you some of the truly gorgeous handmade gifts this little lady has been gifted.

There have been so many I thought I'd do a little series, starting today with the knits.

Obviously I knit a fair amount of items for her myself, but I was so very touched to have received so many hand knits from others. 'Any excuse for some,' Johnny declared, he's quite right of course, but the fact that because knitters love knitting (and let's be honest baby knits are some of the most fun things to knit) only makes the items Effie's been gifted even more precious in my eyes.

One of my lovely neighbours and fellow craft night and knit and natter attendee brought round this gorgeous box of goodies a couple of weeks before Effie's arrival.

She also included a oil blended especially for labour, which was great, I rubbed it on my belly during the early stages and found it super relaxing.
The knits are the gorgeous (Petit) Artichaut by Solenn Couix-Loarer with matching booties in Drops Alpaca ::

And my utter favourite, which has been worn a whole lot by little Effie, is Granny's Favourite by Georgie Hallam also with matching booties knit in Malabrigo Sock ::

You can see the ravely notes on Angie's knits on her page here.

Another lovely and fairly new knitter, though you wouldn't really know it by her incredible knitting skills, Bex of Ampersand Commodoties, knitted this incredibly dress for Effie ::

It was knit from a vintage Paton's pattern and I cannot tell you how many compliments it received on it's first outing last week. My sister has already claimed it as a hand-me-down for her daughter due in February.

Lastly is this lovely little cardigan, knit for Effie by a friend's Mum ::

She is so unbelievably lucky to be wrapped up in all these lovingly created gifts and I feel so blessed to have such wonderful folks around us

Sunday, 19 October 2014

This Week ::

A round up of some of my favourite moments from my Instagram this week ::

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Four Weeks ::

I cannot believe how quickly the past four weeks have gone by. I'm trying my best to cling on to every moment with my tiny baby, but it doesn't seem to stop time flying by much too quickly.

I never would have imagined life with a newborn baby could be this easy, my previous experience of being the mother to a newborn taught me so much so quickly. Mostly how little sleep you can actually survive on and that there has been some major evolutionary error when it comes to breastfeeding, because something that is meant to be so completely natural and utterly essential can be one of the most difficult and painful things you'll ever have to go through. Fortunately this time round we've only had a handful of 'difficult' nights and feeding has been a breeze.

Since before reaching the 1 week mark, Effie had worked into a bedtime routine which sees her wake once between 12 and 8 and happily return to her moses basket without fussing, once her tummy is full and her nappy clean. Granted I've not managed more than a 5 hour stretch of sleep in 4 weeks, but I know I've got it easier than most and I'm still getting a good 7 hours most nights.

As for daytime, we have no routine what so ever, accept maybe, daytime is for feeding. And therefore feed she does, all day long. She doesn't much like sleeping during the day either, though she might go for an hour or two in the sling or the pushchair if you're lucky. As far as I'm concerned as long as she sleeps at night I'm happy to go with whatever she wants during daylight hours, for now anyway.

She'll have long periods of time now where she is awake and not feeding but instead an utterly joyful thing to watch and coo at and will reward you with delightful smiles if you're lucky.

We've had a bit of a slow start at weight gain, at first things seemed to be going well, however at 2 weeks her weight suddenly plummeted and despite being discharged from midwife care, we had to go back to regular weigh ins for a week. It was decided there may actually have been a bit of scale error at some point. Finally yesterday she was back up and slightly over the weight she started life at. The health visitor still showed some concern as she's dropped 2 centiles on the chart since birth, but as yet there has been no suggestion that she be 'topped up' with formula, the root of my all my feeding issues with Milo in my opinion. As far as I'm concerned as long as she's feeding lots, alert, sleeping well, happy and content (plus lots of dirty nappies) I'm happy that she's growing at just the right pace for her.

As for me, I'm completely recovered now, my tummy (though a little bit jiggly) seems to be back down to it's original size and I feel really really well. Like I said feeding is going well and we've already been out and about lots and had quite a bit of practice of feeding in public which I'm feeling quite happy about.

The whole household has taken to Effie being here as though she always was. I can't imagine a time without her now. Milo is neither put out by her presence or particularly enamoured with her, just yet, to be fair I can see how she is pretty boring as far as he's concerned. Though he's quite happy that she's here and looking forward to a time when he can teach her all the things and he's super helpful, will always get something for me if I need it and is happy to keep an eye on her whilst I leave the room if required.

All in all these past 4 weeks have been truly magical. I am so besotted with this deliciously cheeky baby.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Deramores ::

I should have posted about this a couple of months ago really, but what with being pregnant and all, it just didn't quite happen. However I am pleased to say Deramores are now selling a range of independent designer's knit and crochet patterns, including some of mine, all of which are available as downloadable PDF's.

I'm a big fan of Deramores as it is so having my patterns in their shop is a great honour. Their customer service in my experience has been fantastic, they always ship super quickly and they have a great range of yarns.

One of the other things I really love about Deramores is that I can get cashback on my purchases through topcashback, which when you buy as much yarn as I do is very beneficial. If you haven't heard of topcashback, this is something else that I'm very happy to recommend. Simply sign up, then every time you shop online go to topcashback see if the merchant you're shopping with is on their list, then if they are click through to their site from there. You will then earn cashback on any purchases you make. We use it for everything, let the money build up over the year then come Christmas we withdraw it either into cash or gift vouchers to help with our christmas shopping. You can use when purchasing train tickets, coach tickets, pizza delivery, a whole load of clothes retailers and much more, those are just a few we use most regularly.

Hope everyone's week is going well.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Weekending ::

This past weekend, Effie met her Grandad (on my side) for the first time and Milo acquired said Grandad's childhood train track.  I think you can probably guess which of those things Milo would declare the most exciting.

I hadn't seen my Dad and his wife since the summer holidays, so it was lovely to see them and have Effie meet yet more of her family. It's been such a joy having all these people come to see us, Milo gets especially excited, spending at least an hour before anyone's arrival asking if he can go wait on the doorstep for them.

We went to Jamie's Italian for lunch. If you're local Cheltenham and haven't been I thoroughly recommend it, for the courtroom seating and dungeon toilets alone. Though the food is pretty good too!

On Sunday we mostly had a lazy one, investigating Milo's new train set, keeping out of the rain, eating popcorn and watching Jurassic Park, which Milo mostly declared 'boring' much to mine and Johnny's dismay.

All in all it was a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

This Week ::

A round up of some of my favourite moments from my Instagram this week ::

Friday, 10 October 2014

Effie's Birth Story ::

I appreciate birth stories aren't for everyone, but I really wanted to share Effie's here as it turned out so incredibly well, so far away from everything I imagined (and had experienced) induction to be. And also because I'm still so proud of how I did, amazed by the way my body took over and knew exactly what to do and totally in awe of the little being I produced.

So if you are interested, click to below to read the rest, be warned it's quite long!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Inside Crochet 58 ::

Last Friday the newest issue of Inside Crochet hit the shelves.  As usual it's a gorgeous issue packed with beautiful designs on a Scandinavian theme.

I'm especially smitten with Claire Montgomerie's fabulous necklace, something I think would make gorgeous Christmas gifts.

Within this issues pages also lies the second to last design I finished up before going on maternity leave. Introducing the Sirkku Mittens ::

Inspired by traditional knitted scandinavian mittens, using double crochet and stranded colourwork, though you could use tapestry crochet it you prefer, these mittens are worked in the round, bottom up. They are super simple, worked in straight rounds, until the thumbhole and the decreasing on the very top, giving you plenty of time to get used to the colourwork technique, before anything too complicated.

The use of two colours means the mittens are lovely and thick and warm. The pattern calls for Artesano's Definition Sock Yarn, which is lovely to work with, you only need around half a skien of each colour, so you could even make 2 pairs if you so desired! Although I'm certainly not wishing away the autumn, I must admit I am eager to put the samples to good use this winter.

You can get your hands on a copy of this months issue online here or at your local newsagent.
You can see all of the designs in this issue over on ravelry.
As usual the wonderful photography is by the super talented Britt Spring.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Weekending ::

We had a lovely weekend, trying to get out and make the most of the last couple of days of sunshine before today's storms took over.
Effie is now 2 weeks old, I'm feeling completely recovered, we're pretty settled into our new life and I'm happy enough with feeding to brave doing it outside the comfort of our home, slowly going mad inside the same 4 walls I'm now so eager to get out and about!  So that's exactly what we did.

Saturday we headed out to lunch at Cheltenham's newest eatery Bill's.  We tried it out the first weekend they opened, but weren't massively impressed, however after giving it another go I'd happily say we'll almost certainly be going back again. The food was really good, the risotto I had for my main was especially delicious, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the staff were really attentive and friendly.

On Saturday we headed down to the Cheltenham Literature Festival site. Being unsure of when the baby would arrive back when the tickets went on sale I held off buying any, then of course once Effie arrived I was much too preoccupied staring at her beautiful face.  Therefore I missed out on tickets for all the wonderful events I was super keen to go to. I guess there's always next year. We still had fun exploring the site and fortunately Milo gets to go up with the school tomorrow to attend one of the children's events.

We had a lovely weekend, today I'm bunkering down, spending the day snuggling with my gorgeous girl and keeping well and truly inside out of the wind and the rain.
Here's to a lovely week to you all.

This Week ::

A round up of some of my favourite moments from my Instagram this week ::

Friday, 3 October 2014

Introducing ::

2 weeks ago today, this little beauty entered our lives, quickly and in a way I'm still quite surprised and proud of.
It turned out to be (though induced) the natural birth I was hoping for.  
She is perfect, she is calm, easy going and has fitted into our lives so easily it's hard to imagine a time she wasn't here with us.
Johnny has returned to work today, I can't imagine how I'm going to cope without him, but I'm hoping this change will help me get back into blogging with more regularity.
I look forward to sharing our lives as a family of 4 with you all.