The First 1000 Days With A Baby

Excuse me a moment, please, while I hide my tissues and wipe my eyes. I’m totally going to sit here and pretend this advert didn’t make my womb ache and swoon, and every fibre of my being long for those exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, empowering, insanity-inducing, beautiful days of a new baby’s  life.

Watch this, and tell me you came away without at least a little twinge, I dare you:

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I have two daughters, both equally wanted, and equally adored.

When I found out I was pregnant with Ameli, I booked her place at nursery and was angry that I wouldn’t be able to return to work after 2 weeks, as the childcare at my work wouldn’t take her under 3 months of age. I wanted her, don’t get me wrong – I’d been waiting for years to have her, but I think I expected her to slot in with my life, rather than become my world. 

baby girls feetI had a horrendous pregnancy with terrible Hyperemesis Gravidarum and I bled for 20 weeks. In the end, I opted for a home birth, and when I raised my daughter out of the water, there was a moment where my world spun upside down, and everything I had thought I ever knew about love, and hope and life as I knew it, changed. It was so sudden and profound that five years on, writing about it, I can smell the water in the birthpool, hear the rain outside, feel the moment rising up before me again. I sat in the water and told my husband I could never go back to my job.

Not many people can look back and remember the moment they became who they are. I can.

The months that followed that transformative experience were so different to anything I had ever imagined. Breast feeding came naturally, easily. We co-slept and never once in that first year used the nursery we’d put together. We bought a pram and it was so wide we couldn’t get it up the stairs of our maisonnete, so we gave it up and took up baby wearing instead. We learned about a whole new world allergies, and rashes, and check-ups and follow ups and we quickly learned that people who tell you your child can’t be teething at four months were wrong, and people who told us our child shouldn’t be crawling at 5 months had never tried to stop a child from crawling at five months, nor had they had to run after an 8-month old toddler.

small baby 30We learned in those first years that there were no rules that were hard and fast. We learned that every parent has to make it up as they go.

When we thought we had the answers, the questions changed. When we thought we had it sussed, curve balls came. After three years of waking up between 4 and 6 for the day, every day, having been awake at least every 2 hours through the night, we figured we had hacked parenting, and this is what it was.

Then we had our second daughter. The pregnancy was worse, the birth fast and furious. She was born at 42+5 by scan dates and everyone around me was ‘worried’ and had ‘concerns’ but I knew in my gut we were okay and she was born at home, in water, into my waiting arms, ready for round two of a sleep deprivation that never came.

Baby FeetAviya slept through the night every night for six month. She was in no rush to crawl or walk. She made her first dramatic moves right off a bed, breaking her collarbone. She was 10 months old before she took her first steps. A different child, with a different temperament, and a different take on her world – so clearly different, yet so indescribably perfect too.


Pampers have been working with the NCT on a study about those first two years of a new baby-new parent’s life and they’ve come to conclusions that I’m sure most parents would agree with and recognise.

They say that night waking and disturbed sleep are considered an inevitability during the first year – but as my experience shows, not always so! They also found that most parents surveyed anticipated better sleep during the second year of their child’s life, but that for around a third of parents (30%) sleep problems persisted throughout the first 1,000 days. The reasons that babies struggle with sleep changed over time, with parents of toddlers citing issues such as teething and illness. They could have included jet lag in their study. My sleeper was 6 months old when we flew to Australia, and that time change signalled the end of her sleeping-through-the night. Coincidence, or was it to do with teething too? I guess I’ll never know now!

Additionally, the findings looked at modern parenting roles. Over two thirds of dads (67%) reported equally sharing the responsibility for caring for their baby at night. However, mums – don’t all nod your heads at once now – didn’t necessarily agree with this assessment with less than half (45%) responding that they shared equal responsibility with their partners. In fact, the research suggests that mums still take on the majority of the responsibilities of childcare. (It’s my guess that most mums could  have told them that for free 😉 )

Dr Abigail Easter, Research Manager at NCT says, “This research has told us about the ups and downs of new parenthood, and how important it is that both mums and dads find the support they need as they care for a young baby. Balancing the responsibilities of parenting, work and finances was a key theme to emerge from the research, and affects different families in different ways. Good communication and looking after their own relationship is really important for new parents as they settle into changing roles. This research is just one part of a robust study which will inform NCT’s education, support and campaigning.”

That’s something I can agree with: every new parent’s experience is so completely new, and as fundamentally different as the people themselves are. No two ways are ever going to be the same, even in the same family with the same parents, so it’s great to know that support is out there, and people are taking the time to try to understand more wholly our human experience.

And all that aside, just go back and watch the video again. You know, for the sake of your own ‘research’. 😉

Benefits Of Baby Massage On Different Regions Of The Body

Baby massage is a hugely beneficial tool for parents and carers to use as a natural and instinctive way of relieving tension, pain or discomfort.  Have you ever sat with someone crying, and rubbed their back? This is natural and instinctive comforting. Have you ever had a child in pain from constipation and rubbed their back or belly? That’s instinctively trying to provide pain relief.

In a typical baby massage course, we follow a pattern or sequence which flows nicely, but isn’t compulsory. It is, however, the most natural way of working through the body.

We start by connecting with the baby through hands on contact and a few deep breaths and full body strokes.

We then focus on the chest area, performing various ‘moves’ in clockwise and anticlockwise directions and pitter pattering on the chest to loosen mucous and help with congestion in lungs.

We move down to the stomach and with a series of nine clockwise strokes, help move the wind along the digestive tract. I particularly love this part of the session, especially when parents have signed up specifically for problems with colic or constipation. Sometimes a baby will actually have a great big bowel movement in the session. Other times they’ll be really farty – which at that age is very cute!

A series of leg massages are wonderful, especially for newborns who still need to unfold from the fetal position, as well as toddlers experiencing growing pains. The leg massage movements encourage circulation in the legs, which also encourages muscle development.  They can also help increase general strength and elasticity of muscle fibres as well as proving deeply relaxing for babies.

The foot massage is a simplified form of reflexology, which stimulates all the internal organs. Depending on which parts of the foot are worked on, the massage is calming and settling, especially in an overtired or over stimulated baby. Other strokes are used for helping with feeding discomforts, as well as head, sinus and teething issues. This image has made its way around Pinterest and Facebook a few times, and I have no idea where it originated, but it’s pretty good for giving you a basic overview of what works where on feet.

Massaging the arms and hands in newborn babies encourages the opening of the arms, and increases circulation and blood flow. It also introduces babies to the concept of rolling and stretching and in newborns, encourages the opening of their hands.

Back massage is as useful in the treatment of colic and constipation as belly massage is. Not only does the act of resting their weight on the belly help shift trapped wind, and strengthening the neck muscles if they raise their heads, but it also stimulates the muscles on either side of the spine, encouraging vitalnerve development.

The final body part to be massaged, the face and scalp, is again a relaxing and sleep inducing treatment. It is also useful during times of teething which can also lead little ones to being highly congested.

So, overall, there are a number of areas that can be massaged in specific strokes and actions to bring relief to your baby  in some of the most common infant discomforts.

My Baby’s Voice

I’m guest posting over on Zulily UK today.

We all know that babies cry, and that they cry to tell us that they’re sad, hungry, thirsty, tired, overstimulated, cold, hot, and just about everything else. It’s one of the first things you learn as a new mum – distinguishing those cries and knowing which one means what. It’s also one of the first victories of motherhood: hearing a cry, responding to it appropriately and seeing your baby settle, smile or relax. It’s wonderful.

read more…

*For the record, I love Zulily, and I’ve loved every thing we’ve received from Zulily through purchases, credits or for review. Yes, I have a business arrangement with Zulily, but rest assured, I wouldn’t if I didn’t love them! If you join Zulily from my link, I’ll receive £10 if you make your first purchase.

Setting A Personal Agenda For 2012

I rarely make new year’s resolutions. For no real reason, other than that I think the pressure to perform tends to set you up for failure. Or me, anyway. Also, trying to change many things at once normally means I change nothing at all, leaving me feeling like a bit of a failure.

That said, I have decided to take on a few  ‘projects’ for the month of January and one or two for the year too, hoping to capitalise on the nesting hormones that should soon kick in!Read more: Setting A Personal Agenda For 2012

365-259 to 365-263 A Week in Pictures

Another manic week as our days on these British Isles move down in to single digits. I’m looking forward to a warm summer. It’s really become very cold recently!

Day 259 -Boobs for Babes, Tits for Tots

We did it! We posed naked – sort of – for a calender shoot! I’m rather terrified of seeing the end result, but will have to wait and then, well… see. Don’t worry, I’ve not turned to nefarious means to make those ends meet. This was all about raising awareness for breastfeeding, and raising money to help train breastfeeding counsellors in areas where they are needed. I’ll give you a run down of the day soon, along with a chance to win a calender for next year – and I’ll be hitting you up to buy some too: just think what a lovely stocking filler it would make for a pregnant or breastfeeding mama!

Boobs for Babes, Tits for Tots
Day 260 -Brighton

In one of those intensely busy weekends, I went from the calender shoot to spend the night with my friend Gloria, then from there to Brighton to have coffee with new friend Michelle and then lunch old friend Tamsin. Between the two appointments, however, Ameli and I had some time to kill, and she was running around between the shops, exploring as she loves doing. I took this picture because I find it hard to believe that this is a child that is not yet a year old. She just looks so big.

Little big girl

Day 261 -Tattoo

It’s been almost six years since I had my first tattoo done. I’ve been aching to continue with the vision I already had, and for my 30th birthday last year, Martin said I could continue it. Of course, I then went in to labour and tattooing wasn’t high on my list of things to do. So just before I now turn 31, I thought I’d best get to it…


Day 262 -Tattoo – part 2

So here it is, a work in progress. I still need to touch up the original one at the bottom and do a few bits and extend the vine and so on, but I’ll do that later. I loved these. The original one was commemorative of our marriage, the one with the babies in the wings are to celebrate Ameli’s birth in to the world, and my birth in to motherhood. The blue one is harder to explain as it is a bit abstract. When my gran came to visit in March we went to Kew Gardens and in to the butterfly park. There were so many of these beautiful blue butterflies and I adored them. I chose this butterfly in memory of her visit and in celebration of her life and who she has been to me in mine. I chose to have this tattoo done now, in memory of her two brothers, my uncles, who both died suddenly.


Day 263 – Coffee

I can’t have a Week in Pictures without including a few pictures of Ameli, so here she is again! My mother has a story about me walking around the house saying “I want coffee in my botty (bottle)” and it seems this has rubbed off on my daughter. She’s constantly grabbing at my coffee (which I obviously don’t give her!) and when I’m done she will stick head, hands, face and tongue in to my coffee cup just for a drop! Too cute!

Coffee cups

Thanks for joining us for our week in pictures!

Soft Drink Rice Rattles – Baby Craft

My little girl, Ameli, is a serious live wire. We have to go out every day or do something to entertain her. She gets really frustrated and shrieks a lot if we don’t. At eleven months she’s still a little too young for most of the crafts in my box, but on a recent rainy day I decided to see what we could do with her. The results were almost as rewarding as the doing, she absolutely loved making soft drink rice rattles. Yes, you read that right!
Read more: Soft Drink Rice Rattles – Baby Craft

Whose Baby Is It Anyway?

New parents are bombarded with information from their first visit to a medical professional, throughout their pregnancy and the early days of their babies’ lives. My daughter is only ten months old, and as far as I can tell, this doesn’t stop for some time.

The problem with this is that so much of your pregnancy, birthing experience and early motherhood is influenced and affected by the opinions of the person you’re listening to. And I do specifically use the word opinion, because being a doctor, paediatrician or midwife does not, in fact, make you an authority on any of these.

Read more: Whose Baby Is It Anyway?

10 Ways to Stretch Your Holiday Money

My husband, nine-month old daughter and I have been travelling around for nine weeks all told this summer. We have camped, stayed in hotels and cabins and for one week, with family. Here are some of the top things we have done to stretch our budget as far as possible:

Read more: 10 Ways to Stretch Your Holiday Money

365-112 to 365-118 A Week in Pictures

Returning from Norway, I had a suitcase full of my and Ameli’s clothes, and a week’s worth of my husband’s clothes to deal with and I only had one day to sort it out before we were on our way again.  It really was a low to high and back to low kind of week.

Read more: 365-112 to 365-118 A Week in Pictures

Dealing with Teething Naturally

Teething. In this house, it is as bad as you can imagine. My daughter, Ameli, started teething at about 8 weeks and the first tooth popped out at 19 weeks followed shortly by the second three days later. Since then we’ve had two months of welcome relief from the teething monster, but this week it has descended on us like a misty fog all over again.

Read more: Dealing with Teething Naturally