Thursday, 15 January 2015

My Two Little Brothers: {Siblings January 2015}

A new year, and a great chance to continue documenting the developing relationship of my two little boys, with the Siblings project, hosted by Lucy on her gorgeous Dear Beautiful blog.

Just a blurry camera photo, but I love this shot!

Already I can see a happy companionship growing between these two.  Now all the excitement of having a new baby in the house has died down a little, I am beginning to see my two boys just relaxing in each other's company.  My first boy, M, loves to snuggle up to his little brother, F, kissing his cheeks and head and repeatedly saying 'Hellooooo, F'.
A lazy morning relaxing in Mummy and Daddy's bed

When they've been apart, M will tell his baby brother that he has really missed him, and will give him enthusiastic cuddles that I have to supervise!

M is delighted when he is able to make F smile or chuckle; he looks so proud.  F seems to want to get down on the floor and join M in playing with Lego, but I wonder if M is really going to appreciate having a toddler messing up his careful creations!

The gentleness that M shows his little brother makes me so proud. When we were all in a shop this week, a shop assistant remarked that she'd been watching the way these two interact and that it was lovely to see such affection between boys.
dear beautiful

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Ten Things that surprised me about breastfeeding

Before I had my first baby, M, I just assumed, probably like a lot of other pregnant women, that breastfeeding would come very naturally.  Surely it was just a case of putting your baby next to your boob and letting them feed every 4 hours?  I hadn't read into the art of breastfeeding and didn't really know, beyond a few vague words of warning from the NCT class leader about the first six weeks being a bit tough, much about the mechanics of it, or about the emotional side to it.

Here are ten things that I didn't have a clue about before I became a breast feeder.

 1. That the milk doesn't come out of one central hole in your nipple but that the nipple is like a watering can rose. This really astonished me! I thought nipples just had one opening, and so when I witnessed a jet of milk coming off at an angle of 45 degrees, I couldn't believe it.
2. That it wouldn't come as naturally as lots of people lead you to believe.  Mastering the positioning of myself and M seemed impossible in the early days: do I go for rugby hold, cradle hold, or lying down nursing?  How do I know when he's had enough or whether all that thrashing around is just wind?  When should I feed him again?  Should I wake him up to feed or wait till he screams?  Aargh!
3. That in the early weeks it takes up all of your time and is all consuming.  You feed for 40 minutes, burp, change your baby.  Once you've done that they might sleep for a bit if you're lucky.  Then you might have half an hour before you have to do it all again.  I mentally battled with myself against the feeling of being a walking milk machine, but experience eventually taught me that it's best to just succumb to being just that for a while, and to not beat myself up if I achieved nothing else during the day.

4. That there is such a poor choice of nursing tops and dresses on the high street.  This has really disappointed me.  I thought the choice of maternity clothing was pretty poor, but it's great compared to the one or two rather dowdy nursing tops I've come across in the shops. I've now learned that I can actually wear my normal clothes combined with a nursing vest underneath, and I've become better at discreet feeding with the help of a scarf.  But I do also have a few nursing dresses and tops from JoJoMamanBebe. This is my favourite.
5. That I would have days when I love the intimacy of feeding my boys but equally I would have days when I feel so tied down and cow-like.  The first time I breastfed, the leaking and the constant milky scent of me used to make me feel so unattractive.  This time round I leak less, and am less bothered about it all, but I do still have days when it's hard to be the sole source of my baby's nourishment.
6. That my milk wouldn't arrive until my baby was 3 days old.  I had no trace of colostrum with either baby, so it's hard to keep the faith that feeding is actually achieving anything in those first few days before your milk comes in and your boobs blow up to watermelon proportions.

7. That the UK is not very breastfeeding friendly and that those shops which do have nursing rooms locate them in toilets.  Ugh.  I feel much more confident second time round simply to nurse in public.  They're only breasts, after all, and my baby needs his meals.
8. That expressed breast milk separates in the fridge into a thin blueish liquid and a layer of cream.  This is a bit freaky when you first see it. I thought my milk had somehow gone off.  All normal though.
9. That my growing chubby boys needed only my milk to thrive until they were six months old and how proud and responsible that made me feel.  I look at the chub on my little three month old's body and I just can't believe that my boobs alone have been responsible for piling this weight on.  It's absolutely amazing, and makes me feel like I'm superwoman!
10. The difficulty I had with letting go of the breastfeeding relationship with my first boy.  We stopped breastfeeding at 14 months, but he was probably ready to let go a month before that. Because I was fairly sure that we wouldn't be able to have another child, I thought that this was the end of an era in terms of ever being given the chance to nurse again. Luckily, it wasn't, but the strength of that emotional connection took me by surprise. I was no longer the one providing the nourishment and it was hard to move away from babyhood in that way, even though it really was the right time.

Has anything about your own breastfeeding journey come as a surprise to you?

Monday, 12 January 2015

My Second Boy: Three Month Update

You, my baby boy are three months old today!  I didn't write a two month old update, so I will include some two month photos of you here so you can see how much you changed.

Weight and Body

You were weighed a couple of days ago and came in at 11lb 11oz, so you've now more than doubled your birth weight.  You look like a little Buddha now, with a sizeable double chin and adorable rings around your wrists, arms and thighs.  You're a lot more sturdy and chunky, with chubby cheeks I could kiss all day.

Here you are at two months, with the first toy I bought you when you were in my tummy

Taken on 12th December, when you turned two months old
Your neck is very strong now, and you can lift your head up very well when on your tummy.  You have control over where you turn your head, and I think you're on the cusp of beginning to discover your hands, which you like to suck when you're tired.

Taken on 12th January, at three months old

Your eyebrows and eyelashes are more noticeable now, but with the eyebrows has come a little bit of cradle cap, which your big brother also had for quite a long time.  It's not that noticeable though.  In the last week your hair is starting to get more tufty. I wonder whether you'll have the spiky shock of white blonde hair that your brother did at six months!


You're still a pretty placid little fellow, but your personality is really beginning to shine through now.

Your lovely grin at three months old

You love 'chatting' to us, and particularly like it when you make a noise and we copy it, resulting in gummy grins that light up your whole face.  Your repertoire of noises has expanded a lot recently: you can say 'coo', 'ah-goo' and you often make a 'ccccckkkkkkkhhhh' sound while blowing bubbles.  Mummy feels confident in understanding what your different sounds mean now.

You've taken a real shine to a colourful monkey toy which clings on to the side of your big cot. Although you don't sleep in there yet, Mummy sometimes puts you in there when she needs to get dressed or have a shower, and she often comes back into your bedroom to find you cooing and grinning away at this monkey.

You seem to have a sunny personality: Mummy frequently looks down at you while you're having a feed, to find you smiling shyly, and when I catch your gaze, you will chuckle at me. It's adorable.

You love watching your big brother play and run about.  You sometimes lurch forward as if you can't wait for the day that you can join in with him, but mostly you just follow him with your big blue eyes.

You double chin and winning grin!


Hmm - a mixed bag here.  You've gone from sleeping 22 hours a day in the first 6-8 weeks to now being more wakeful.  You are falling into more of a sleep routine now: a typical day will go something like this:

7.45am - wake up for the day
10-11am - have a nap
12-3pm - more sleep
4-5pm - maybe another kip
5-10pm - you're awake and restless, wanting to breastfeed all evening, and not wanting to be put down to sleep although you're very tired.  Mummy and Daddy are finding this quite tough as we often struggle to eat our dinner together, and there's little chance of going out for the evening while you're so restless.
10pm-3am - asleep in your bedside cot in our room. You've been going much longer without waking for night feeds now. 
3-7am - you will often wake up during this time for a feed or two. It's like you're coming round for the day gradually over a few hours.

You love to sleep in your car seat, and will always fall asleep if we go out and will stay asleep in there once we're home. You've also loved being in your Moses basket, although you are definitely getting much too big for this now!

Feeding and Teething

You're still going great guns with breastfeeding, and we have a happy feeding relationship, you and I.  I think you're benefitting from having a more experienced mummy than your big brother had in this regard.  You will also take the odd bottle with no problem, but we've not done this too much simply because Mummy has little time to express any milk!

The dribbling has definitely started!  It's time to get the bibs out to stop you making wet patches on all of your clothes.

You are a joy to look after, little F, and I love you so much!

Friday, 9 January 2015

My Captured Moment #1 'Cheeky Faces'

I'm joining in with a new linky from Heledd at Running in Lavender, called My Captured Moment, where the idea is to do a weekly post showing a moment that you've captured on your camera, past or present, with or without a story behind it.

My first photo is from December 2013, when M was just shy of two and a half years old and probably at his cheekiest. His favourite thing at that time was to practice a number of impish facial expressions. I caught them all on camera and made them into a collage, which never fails to make me smile when I come across it in my pictures.

My little boy has changed so much since just a year ago.  He really is baby-faced here with angelic blonde locks.  Now he's a proper little boy.

Running in Lavender

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A Woodland Wintry Walk

Today we've had the loveliest day: M has been well behaved, F has been content, we've had a nice Sunday roast, and a fabulous wintry walk in the woods.
The winter sunlight was streaming through the trees and the sky was bright cornflower blue.  There was a low lying mist and steam curling from bark as the sunlight warmed the woodland.

There was a thick, crunchy frost underfoot and muddy puddles had turned to ice.

We crossed three stiles, slippery with moss and ice, and explored the quiet woodland and fields.  We had to stop for a Christmas tree chocolate half way through the walk when M started to flag.



I gave our walk a 'thumbs up' while M joked that it was a 'thumbs down' experience!



If only all Sundays in Winter could be as perfect as today has been.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Me and Mine {December 2014}

I have two photos of the four of us to share this month, both of them unashamedly Christmassy and both of them in which we don't look our best.  But they sum up our Christmas and New Year, and I'm delighted just to be able to be part of this little family.

Taken on Christmas Day morning amidst all the wrapping paper

What we've been loving this December:

Christmas chocolates opened too early
Jack Daniels Honey and the occasional Bailey's
The smell of pine indoors
Making the house look all Christmassy
My new Pandora ring and bangle
Christmas morning excitement
Ice skating night out with Daddy
More lie-ins
Having a rare night out with the lads
WBA finally winning some matches
Terry's Chocolate Orange eaten in one go
More lie-ins
Our Christmas Eve feast once the boys were asleep
The First Boy:
Going indoor sledging and tubing for the first time
The Magical Journey
Sleepovers at grandparents' houses
Opening advent calendars
Singing songs from the pre-school nativity play
Opening presents
Playing Wii Fit Plus 
The Second Boy:
practising his goofy grins
sleeping on mummy and daddy
 learning how to coo
his vibrating baby rocker
staring at family photos

Taken on New Year's Eve with the selfie stick!

dear beautiful

The highlights (and lowlights!) of our Christmas

This blog has been badly neglected over the Christmas break; I think I've had even less time than usual since pre-school broke up, even though G has been off work for two weeks. 

On the whole, we've had a really nice Christmas break and spent some quality time together as a family.  It feels like Christmas lasted forever, but I think that was partly due to the fact that we put up our tree and decorations on 30 November.  M loved decorating the main tree and the little plastic tree we got for his bedroom, and I was pleasantly surprised that he managed to get most of the baubles and other ornaments distributed pretty evenly on the tree.  I didn't have to move much around once he'd gone to bed!

We visited the local Dickens night in a nearby town in early December, and witnessed the switching on of the Christmas lights (of which only half worked!), and enjoyed the fairground rides and atmosphere.

On 12th December we visited The Magical Journey attraction at The Belfry.  This Christmas event had been the subject of a lot of controversy when it closed after opening for just one day due to complaints, and after we visited it went on to close a week ahead of schedule. Our expectations for the experience were pretty low, and there were parts that were rather poor, but on the whole M really enjoyed it, and especially his first visit to meet Father Christmas.

M insisted on choosing a Bingo game from Father Christmas's sack of toys, which we did try to advise him against, as it wasn't really aimed at a pre-schooler, but in true M stubborn fashion, he refused to change his mind!

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a spot of gingerbread men and women making, and this year's creations were colourful, although overdone.

Onto the nativity play at pre-school, that I had really been looking forward to. M had been singing lots of nativity-related songs throughout the end of November and December, and solemnly told me that he was going to be the donkey in the play (I later found out he was designated the role of a sheep, so he was obviously trying to build up his part!)  The day came, and I arrived at pre-school with my charged up camera and my phone at the ready. The children filed in, all dressed up and singing their first song.  But M was wearing an orange t-shirt and an unfamiliar pair of joggers along with someone else's brown boots. Not a sheep at all, nor anyone from the scene of the birth of Christ. His key worker caught my eye and gave me a 'whoops' look.  M sat on her lap throughout the whole performance, not singing or joining in with the actions until the very last two songs when he announced loudly to the whole audience that the last song was going to be 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'.  It turned out that he'd had a coughing fit as the children were getting into their costumes, and this had resulted in him vomiting all over his clothes and then refusing to wear a costume.  Poor little man.  I was sad that I didn't get the photo album experience that the other mums and dads got, but I guess there will be other years for that!

The weekend before Christmas we went to a party arranged by our NCT gang for our six 3 year olds, and one little sister.  One little boy couldn't make it due to illness, so it was a shame we couldn't reunite all six kids.  It was a huge hit with the five other children, who played pass the parcel, decorated gingerbread men, made some paper plate snowmen, and hunted Christmas jigsaw pieces.  It was fantastic to see them all together again, all full of mischief.

Christmas Eve is probably my favourite part of Christmas. I love the anticipation and the magic of the day and wanted to make it a special family day for us.  I arranged for us to take M to the Snowdome for a 'Snowplay' session, where we could sledge and play about in real snow.  I was confident it'd be a hit as we'd enjoyed tubing the previous month.  M was very excited waiting for our session to start and watching all of the other families having fun.  But we'd been on the snow about 5 minutes when he started to whine that he was cold and was obviously not enjoying himself.  We had to give up and go home.

When we got home, I'd made a trail with Christmas ribbon, leading to a Christmas Eve box, full of sweets, new Christmas books for each of the boys, and new pyjamas for us all.  M followed the trail excitedly but when he found the box of goodies under his bed, he was not interested in its contents: all he wanted to do was go on another treasure hunt.  I got a bit fed up at this point as the day seemed to be going horribly wrong, but looking back, I think my expectations were probably just too high.

I took some photos of the boys in their new pj's and we put out the magic reindeer food and the carrot, port and mince pie, which brought the magical feeling back again.

Christmas Day morning was lovely.  M woke up at 6.50am and we could hear him singing Christmas songs to himself before he even realised that Father Christmas had been.  We listened at the bottom of the stairs to his room for a while then heard the moment he realised that his stocking had been filled.  He rushed to the top of his stairs, calling 'Mummy, Daddy! He's been!'

M opened his and his baby brother's presents in our bed, and I was taken back to the Christmas mornings of my own childhood.

The rest of the day passed by in a whirlwind of visiting family and tearing open more presents.  M had his first bike from his nan and granddad, a bit of a milestone in any boy's life I think.  M's favourite presents besides his bike were a lift the flap book explaining about how the human body works, his 'Who Shook Hook' game, and his new Wii Fit Plus game.

One particularly special moment amidst the chaos was during Christmas dinner, when, during a lull in conversation, M said, 'This is all my family, all together.'  It was so sweet, and also poignant, given that we were all missing my granddad's presence.

The week after Christmas was quiet: we saw family, met up with friends and stayed home and played with all of the new games and toys.  Tomorrow, the start of a new week and new year, it's back to the old routine of work, and pre-school.  It has been lovely to spend some quality time together - our first Christmas as a foursome.