A week of [homemade] desk lunches

Since I got back to work from maternity, I’ve made this promise to myself that I would try and bring more packed lunches to work rather than spending £6-7 every day for a ready-made meal.

It’s quite hard work [especially to remember to put the lunch in my bag before leaving the house!] but, once I got into that mindset, I enjoyed preparing my lunches the night before, even if that meant losing 10-15 minutes of my oh-so-needed rest once the little one is in bed.

I’ve recently fall in love with mason jar salads, where you stack all the ingredients starting from the dressing at the bottom and generally the greens or more perishable foods at the top. As I walk quite a distance every morning, I can’t possibly carry a heavy glass jar in my bag so I settled for a much lighter plastic jar. The result is the same but visually it looks far less cool than a layered salad in glass jar 🙂

So here’s what I made last week:

1432891013833

Starting from the top layer..

* Fresh spinach
* Steamed baby potatoes
* Avocado chunks
* Grated courgette [zucchini]
* Grated carrot
* Balsamic vinegar

 

 

 

1432891069022Now you understand what I meant when I said that my layered salads didn’t look very cool in a plastic jar!
That day I was so hungry that I didn’t even take a photo of the salad in the plate.

* Fresh spinach
* Sunflower seeds
* Mozzarella chunks
* Sweetcorn
* Plum tomatoes
* Mayo [3 tsp] and balsamic vinegar [1tsp]

 

1432891258112

This time I didn’t stack the ingredients in the jar but just brought them to work separately

* Avocado
*Plum tomatoes
* Goats cheese
* Seeded pitta bread

 

 

 

1432891146231

* Fresh spinach
* Grated cheddar
* Cherry tomatoes
* Pearl barley
* Pesto dressing [made with 3 tsp of green           pesto and 1 tsp of rapeseed oil]

 

 

 

 

1432891200215This was definitely my favourite lunch last week.

* Rocket
* Basmati rice
* Sunflower seeds
* Grated courgette [zucchini]
* Green olives
* Sweetcorn
* 3 tsp of creme fraiche and 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar

 

Hope I gave you a little inspiration for your next desk lunches 🙂

What do you normally eat at work?

Now and Then

IMG_20150526_103056

This photo was taken exactly a year ago

I often think about what life was like a year ago. It happens especially when I bump into people who’ve just had a baby and that triggers the ‘aww bless, I can’t even remember Frances being that little!’

But I do. I do remember Frances being that little. I may not recall every single detail but those days, weeks, months are imprinted in my memory forever. One thing that often pops to mind is what most already-parents kept saying to me soon after I had a baby [and I say this to my parents-to-be friends as well now].

“Don’t worry, this is the hardest part”. They said.

Was it? Was it really the hardest part?

****

SLEEPING

A year ago

Frances wasn’t even 2 months old then and was waking up about twice/3 times a night to feed. I was still recovering from giving birth [more mentally than physically] and I was absolutely knackered. Every feed seemed to last forever and afterwards, due to her having reflux, I had to keep the little one upright for at least half an hour to make sure that the milk stayed down.

Now

As I said before, Frances has never been a very good sleeper. We have been co-sleeping since the last bout of illness / teething over a month ago and have made no effort or plans whatsoever to stop this, as it’s working well for us, for now at least. She sleeps in her cot for the first part of the night, then starts crying, pulls herself up and keeps standing in her cot until we go in and bring her into our bed. Some nights this happens around 11pm, some nights she sleeps just fine until 2/3 am or some other [rare] nights she actually sleeps through [until 5 – 5.30am, of course..]

FEEDING

A year ago

I breastfed until Frances was over 10 months old. In the first few months, she was feeding between every half hour [growth spurt anyone?!] to two hours. She suffered from reflux until not long ago so feeds were often accompanied by screams and back-arching and always followed by a fountain of milk coming out, pretty much straight away

Now

Like all kids who haven’t learnt how to eat with a spoon yet, Frances eats with her hands and food goes absolutely everywhere. That is a result of food naturally falling on the floor while she’s stuffing her face AND of her just throwing food on the floor FOR FUN.

CRYING

A year ago

Apart from reflux / colic related episodes, Frances never cried just for the sake of crying [is there such a thing in small babies though?]. We did have to go through weeks and weeks of crying at dinner time every single night but got so used to dealing with it that we didn’t really notice when that actually stops

Now

One word. Tantrums.

Yes, we’ve entered that phase. And it’s hell.

She can’t touch the plugs. Non-stop crying until you distract her with the Xbox remote control

She can’t play with the toilet brush. I’m going to pierce your ear drums with my super scream

There’s a new safety gate in the kitchen. Why oh why are you doing this to meeeeeee? [She doesn’t talk but that’s what she would say in between tears if she could]

GOING OUT

A year ago

I felt quite apprehensive about going out initially. I didn’t particularly enjoyed breastfeeding whilst out and about. Not because I’m a prude or anyone else around me seemed to be, but because the combination noisy feeder + reflux baby didn’t fill me with confidence that we would be able to have a feed without making a bit of a scene.

Regardless of the above, I still went out pretty much every day, trying to time it around feeds. Whilst Frances was happily sleeping in her pram or just staring at the little owl we hang on to it, I could enjoy a cup of [hot] coffee and catch up on what was happening in the outside world.

Now

Frances has reached that phase where she’s only happy to be in her buggy if and when she’s asleep. Keep her in there any other time and you will have an unhappy baby [see the crying section]

Anywhere we go and anything we do whilst out is absolutely 100% limited to whatever reason we went out for in the first place, being that grab a bite or buy washing up liquid.

We just keep it short and simple. And if we can’t, we bring A LOT of distractions [which never work, but there will always be a straw or a napkin to keep the little one entertained]

IMG_20150526_125259ACTIVITIES

A year ago

The range of activities back then was quite limited. It involved staring at a non-identified point on the horizon, slapping toys in the play gym and generally stay still wherever we put her, being that a changing table, a sofa or a bouncer.

The range of activities that I could do was fairly extensive. It involved watching two seasons of Orange is the new black in a week [what else to do during breastfeeding marathons?] or going to the loo without being followed.

Now

Frances is a ball of energy. She NEVER stops. She’s now almost ditched crawling and is 90% walking everywhere. Her favourite activities include walking whilst carrying one of my shoes or the heaviest toy she can find, throwing DVD’s on the floor or taking all of her clothes out of the bottom drawer in her room and then randomly putting them back in [this morning I even found my mascara in that drawer!]

****

All in all, I think every new phase is the hardest. And that’s because it’s all new and mysterious and scary. Having a baby has taught me that everything is [relatively] easy once you’ve done it for a while. It doesn’t mean that you enjoy that particular phase but it just means that you get on with it!

 

 

A day in the life of a [full-time] working mum

One of the questions I get asked more often now that I’ve gone back to work is how I manage my full-time day job AND being a mum.

To be honest, I’ve found it easier to go back full-time from the start, rather than starting gradually with just a 2/3 days a week. Once I got into the mindset that I was now a full-time working mum, I could just focus on creating a good routine that would allow me to do it all, without pulling my hair out.

The intent of this post is just to show how my average day is like – I don’t have any super-powers and I wear no cape. It is all doable, it just needs practice, like everything else in life..like having a baby in the first place for example!

1432274435237

Despite all possible efforts, Frances is still waking up between 5 and 5.30am. We have just given up trying to figure out why that happens and we just accept it. First things first..MILK!

6.00am. I get ready whilst my husband gets Frances dressed. He’s got the worst job ever..dressing a wriggling screaming octopus! I take a shower in the evening [and choose clothes for the following day], once I’ve put Frances to bed, so in the morning I just have a quick wash and I can be ready in half an hour.

1432274789732

While hubby is in the shower, it’s play time with Frances. These days she loves to look at books and chases after us with a book in her hand so that we can read it / turn the pages for her. Cuteness overload.

7.00am. I leave the house while hubby and Frances settle in the kitchen for a little breakfast [toast and peanut butter]. He then takes her to nursery at 8.00am. I’m very lucky because we have a bus stop exactly opposite our building so within minutes of leaving the house I’m already on the bus towards the tube.

1432274397603

As soon as I come out of the tube, it’s Pret a Manger time. It may not be the finest coffee on the market but their soya flat white keeps me going at least until I get into the office!

1432274476274

I get to Hyde Park, one of the most gorgeous parks in London town, and walk along the Serpentine river which takes me very close to my office. I started this about 5 years ago and it’s still my favourite part of the daily commute.

1432279928033

We have free breakfast at work between 8am and 9am (although we don’t officially start until 9.30am) so I take full advantage of it. I modified my working hours when I got back from maternity so I start one hour early and can leave one hour early as well, at 4.15pm.

1432274522685

The hours spent in the office are still very much of a blur. I work in an advertising agency so there’s always an energetic buzz around and plenty of running like headless chickens all the time! Before I know it, I’m waiting for the tube back home.

1432274559242

As soon as I pick Frances up from nursery, we go home [only a short walk away] and she has a little dinner. Nothing too big as she has a snack at 3.30pm which is normally jacket potato with beans so she’s not very hungry at dinner time!

1432274611190

More play time after dinner. Frances has been getting more and more cuddly and often snuggles herself up to me and sits in my lap.

1432282235749

Bath time. She kept climbing out of the basket we had inside the bath tub so we just scrapped that and she’s perfectly happy to sit in the tub like a grown-up! The rubber mat underneath is essential as she tends to pull herself up after a few minutes and just stands up.

After that, it’s PJ’s and straight on to the mini sofa in her room with a bottle of warm milk. Little red light on. She holds the bottle while I read her a story. Until a week or so ago she would still be awake after the bottle so we would go back into the bathroom, brush teeth, put sleeping bag on and then beddy-byes.

1432274641033

Now that she’s started walking and is visibly more tired she just hands me the bottle when she’s done and snuggles up to me. She’s asleep within minutes. I don’t even have to turn the light off!

I stay in the room with her sleeping on me for 20/30 mins. This is a habit I got during her reflux days, when I had to keep her upright after each feed for as long as I could. Now that the reflux is gone, I still hold her in my arms for a little while. This is the first time in the whole day that I can finally relax.

I spare you any photos of my oh-so-glamorous evenings which involve a shower, like I mentioned earlier, waiting for hubby until just after 8.00pm so that we can have a quick meal together [slow-cooker rules!] and a snooze on the couch before going to bed at 9.30pm!

 

 

Itching for a change

An old boss once told me that I was resistant to change as I didn’t know how to adapt to it.

I do like change but yes, I need time to process it.

Having a baby brings a lot of change into your life and you simply don’t know what’s hit you. At least for a [long] while. There’s no time to process it, you are thrown in the deep end from day one.

So much has happened in the past year that now change no longer scares me and what’s more curious is that I’m chasing it. As if I hadn’t gone through enough!

Going back to work after maternity has somehow helped me regain my ‘identity’. I absolutely love being a mum but I’m not just that.

My head has filled up with lots of projects all over again. Like the good old days, where my brain was constantly buzzing with ideas and not just thinking about nap times, milk bottles and finger foods!

I’m starting small..For example, I cut my hair [and dyed it dark purple!]. And now it this blog’s turn. My little creature, come to life to fill an incredible sense of sadness, and bit by bit it has become a little pregnancy diary and then a celebration of life, happiness, struggle, change.

I have been very inconsistent in my writing and quite monotonous too. So over the next few weeks this little creature of mine will get a bit of a facelift and hopefully will be able to contain my ever-changing interests and activities!

Watch this space x

One year on..

As of a few days ago, I’m the mum of a one year old. Officially a toddler, apparently. How did that happen??!

One minute I was changing size 1 nappies and battling with the colic purple hour every night and the next minute I was choosing the theme for my little girl’s first birthday party!

If I think about everything that (I can remember) happened in this past year I can’t believe it’s only been 365 days.

Some of the early memories are a mix of guilt and heart melting feelings. I wrote a post a while ago about the fact that I found the first weeks (months) difficult and probably only now I fully realise how blurred those days are in my memory. How much I missed at the very beginning because I was paralised with anxiety and worry. Every time I see a newborn now I go all ooohh aaawww and I feel this clench in my stomach as I know that I can’t take those days back.

Onwards and upwards though. So I want to think about all those things that I did experience with my little one and that will ALWAYS be in my memory, although I could have done without some of those!

Camera Uploads

I want to think about the first time I breastfed my little girl and she then fell asleep on me

The first time she opened her eyes and stared into mine

When I gave her a bath for the first time

When I kept saying ‘I’ll switch to formula’ every other day and then carried on breastfeeding until she was over 10 months old

When she would scream blue murder for over an hour every night at dinner time or when I had to watch Suits standing up because she would cry if I sat down.

When I took her out in her pram when she was tiny and she would shift down to the bottom at each step on the staircase outside my building

When I dressed her in something other than a babygrow and she looked so funny in her tiny skirts and cardigans

Her first smile and each single one after that

The look on her face when I put her in the play gym for the first time and the look on my face witnessing her progress week after week, from slapping toys to actually grabbing them

When I could give her a lovely massage every night after her bath and she wouldn’t actually move (try and do that now!!)

When she started babbling and poking her tongue out

When she took the habit of doing explosive poos the moment we took her nappy off

When we took her on a plane and she spent the entire flight screaming and then fell asleep the moment the plane landed

When we thought we’d screwed our child up because we hadn’t given her enough tummy time

Her first solid food experience and the look of excitement on her face every time she saw the spoon getting closer and closer to her mouth

All those times I had to rock the pram back and forth in our living room to make her sleep during the day and then I couldn’t move otherwise the floors would squeak and she’d wake up

The hundreds (felt like thousands, really) of times she regurgitated milk and we had to have at least 5 spare bibs at hand (and the day, not long ago, that I realised that she had actually stopped doing that!)

When we moved her from our bedroom into her cot in her own room

When her first tooth cut through

When she started waving, clapping, blowing raspberries

That time when she went from crawling backwards to going forwards

Her first Christmas and the look on her face when she saw all the lights going off on the Christmas tree

Her face when she swam under water towards me during swimming class

When she spent 45 minutes playing by herself whilst sitting inside the laundry basket

When she pulled herself up on the couch and took her first step along the furniture

Her ticklish giggles and her amused laughs when we play peak-a-boo

Her face when we put her on a swing

When I took her to the nursery and her face lit up at the sight of all the toys she could play with

When she cuddles up to me even for a second and says Mamma

The way I look at her now and my heart explodes and I know that it was a long journey but we so got there in the end.

Happy Birthday my little munchkin, but also Happy Birthday to me and my amazing husband for getting through this challenging year and becoming stronger (wiser? probably not!) together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the land of germs!

The title may sound a bit over dramatic but boy have we been so ill since the little one started nursery!

Frances has only been going to nursery full time for 3 weeks and she has picked up:

– the flu
– conjunctivitis  (twice)
– tummy bug (which was shared amongst the family and I let you imagine how much fun that was)
– throat and ear infection as a result of a never ending cold

On top of this she has been teething badly for what feels like ages and now 4 teeth have cut through together..My poor little monkey! To be fair, she has been so good all considered and hasn’t spared us her lovely smiles and cheeky looks.

At night the mixture between illness and separation anxiety has hit us hard. It started with 1 or 2 wakings in the middle of the night but it was fairly easy to settle her by massaging her back or stroking her head, or both at the same time!

However now we have got to the point that she wakes every 1 to 2 hours and after a certain hour (normally around midnight/1am) there’s nothing that would settle her..I say ‘nothing’ but actually there’s one thing that calms her down straight away: being picked up and taken into our bed!!

I never wanted to go back to co-sleeping as we did it for the first few months of Frances’ life and it got to a point where no one would really sleep.

We went through a few painful nights of sleep training when we moved her into her own room but that was it. We could all sleep..Yes, we would complain that it was a 5am start most days but looking back to that now I’d do anything to go back to that arrangement!

Now I fear that coming into our bed has become a habit again and although she is still a bit under the weather I think her wanting to be in our arms is just for comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cuddles but we’ve gone back to not sleeping most of the time as she tosses and turns constantly forcing us to assume very awkward and uncomfortable positions! I will let this one go until she has fully recovered but I’m just worried about what’s going to happen when we want her to sleep in her cot all night long.

One positive thing though is that now I can fully share the pain with my husband. He’s always been very helpful but at night there was this unspoken rule that, because he was going to work the following day, I was the one to deal with the night wakings. It was making more sense when I was breastfeeding so there was nothing he could do but even when I stopped feeding at night we still kept that going.

Last Wednesday I went back to work full time and a new era began. As painful as it is to be woken up every hour I don’t feel lonely now. I don’t have to stare at the baby monitor in the dark because I can’t get back to sleep whilst all I can hear is my hubby snoring next to me!

Now it’s us both up at night and to be fair my husband would be willing to help even more if it wasn’t for Frances actually crying more if she doesn’t mummy standing by her cot! What a cheeky munchkin.

Apart from lack of sleep, the return to work has gone quite well and now I can fully understand the expression ‘going to work to get some rest’! That’s definitely been the case as, no matter how tired I am, I can still have a few breaks throughout the day which was quite rare when I was on maternity as I was out and about all the time to get Frances to sleep and I couldn’t even get into a shop as she’d wake up right away!

Frances has been enjoying nursery very much. I was so worried about her crying and being generally unhappy when I left her there especially the first few days but she actually barely looked at me as she was already mesmerised by the amount of toys and eye catching images all around the room!

My husband drops her off in the morning now (as I leave for work at 7am) and I pick her up. We have found our little routine so we get to spend an equal amount of time with her, my husband in thr mornin and me on the evenjng. I hate being away from her for what feels like an eternity (well, in mummy’s world, 10 hours is indeed an eternity) but the thought of her having fun at nursery makes it more bearable.

My little munchkin has grown so much since she started going to nursery – she’s the youngest in her room so she’s been ‘copying’ the other kids who are able to do things that she can’t do yet like feeding themselves with a spoon. Now every time I give her yogurt  (which is pretty much the only time I use a spoon these days as she picks up food with her hands) she tries to get the spoon and put it in the tub. So cute!

I can’t believe that only (almost) a year ago I was two days away from my due date and I was so excited, scared,  impatient..It feels like yesterday but when I think about how much has happened in the past 365 days it does feel like a lifetime ago.

Can’t wait for Thursday and also for her little party next Saturday!

Taking it all in

Frances is nearly 10 months old and the moment for me to go back to work is getting closer and closer.
I’m not going to deny it..I’m quite looking forward to it.

To some people this may not sound right. I love being a mum and I love spending time with my little one but I’m also craving some ‘me time’. I know I’ll cry when the time will come to leave Frances at nursery and I know that I will miss her terribly every day but I also know that this new chapter of our lives will benefit the both of us.

She will have so much fun playing with other kids and doing all sorts of activities. I will get to have some adult conversations and have a walk at lunchtime actually listening to one song or two on my Spotify and getting lost in my thoughts and daydreams!

Every night it will be amazing to see my little princess and take her home for cuddles. It will be hard but it will be worth it, I know. I truly believe I will be a better mum, more patient and less stressed because I’ll not take those moments spent with my little one for granted.

The past couple of months have been quite tough..lots of developmental leaps that have made Frances fussy and unsettled most of the time (if you don’t have the Wonder Weeks app, get it NOW! Saves you from guessing why your ‘sleep through the night’ baby has now started to wake every 2 hours..)

A couple of weeks before Christmas she stopped sleeping her 11 hours a night and started not only to wake up during the night again but she also went back to waking up for the day around 5am which she’d done for ages but thankfully had stopped.

We still haven’t gone back to normal yet, although we do have some good nights from time to time  (with a 5am start regardless though!) and it’s starting to reall get to me especially since she’s very grumpy during the day.

To make things worse, she’s only cat-napping during the day..30 minutes × 2 naps. She sleeps longer out and about,  in her pram or carrier (bought one called Boba 4g which can be used as a backpack too up to the age of 2 or 3yo and it’s fantastic!)

It’s amazing how many things she’s packed up in the span of a weeks..crawling, waving, clapping her hands, going from all fours to sitting position..no wonder why she’s been unsettled at night. She’s been processing all these new discoveries!

image

She loves playing on the floor in her bedroom and going through a box full of toys. We took out the guest bed from her bedroom as no one was ever going to sleep in there anyway so now she has so much more room.

image

There are some things that she used to do a while back and  now she doesn’t do anymore, like peak a boo for example, or sometimes she’d stop doing something for a few weeks and then start again, like blowing raspberries!

She’s also babbling a lot but now it sounds like ‘actual’ words that she repeats constantly. Her first one was ‘ah-bah’ and she’s now starting to say ‘mama’ but she doesn’t know what it means yet..still melts my heart though!

I’m still breastfeeding her first and last thing and she’s now down to just one little bottle of formula a day as she’s very much into her food.

image

We’ve slowly ditched the purees now and got more confident giving her finger foods, from toast soldiers to carrot sticks to pancakes. She makes a right ol mess but really enjoys feeding herself.

image

We’ve started going to swimming lessons and I’ve regretted not doing it sooner. Frances is loving it although she does get a bit shocked every time I put her under water! Last week I also got to go under water with her and it was amazing to watch her. Unfortunately we cannot take photos but I will never forget her little face in that moment 🙂

When I think about how much has happened in such a short amount of time, I’m  dreading not being there when she reaches new milestones. She is growing so fast and I’m just doing my best to take it all in and enjoy every moment while I still can.

image

Merry Christmas everyone!

It has been one of those days that turned out even better than how you’ve ever imagined it.

After all it is Frances’ first Christmas and I wanted it to be special. She won’t remember it but will have plenty of photos and videos to show her what it was like.

image

We are up in Scotland, in a beautiful manor house that I wrote about just over a year ago. This place is stunning and so magical. This is the first time in over ten years that (almost of) my husband’s family gather together for Christmas (his sister couldn’t be here as she works in retail and her holiday request was denied because of the big Boxing Day Sale. Boooo)

image

My parents have come too all the way from Italy and have loved every single minute. What’s not to love..Staying in a luxurious manor house surrounded by stunning views and spending Christmas with your daughter who lives abroad but most importantly your granddaughter!

image

Hope you’ve all had a fabulous Christmas and got spoiled just as much as I (and Frances) have .

image

Time flies when you’re having fun

The past month or so has been so intense that I’ve only just managed to find some time to blog now that my best friend from Italy is here for a few days!

So many things have happened/changed especially since the 6 months mark and Frances is now seven and a half months old already?!

Not only can she sit up by herself now but she can also crawl backwards..That’s so funny to watch! In terms of sitting up, she does still need us to actually put her in the sitting position but after that she can stay in that position for a few minutes before falling on the side. When she first started doing it she could only stay in the sitting position for 10 seconds and bit by bit she got stronger and stronger. I’m obviously always behind or beside her to catch her when she topples over but even when she does fall to the side she automatically rolls over on to her tummy so she doesn’t hurt herself.

image

We bought a few foam ‘jigsaw squares’ to cover our wooden floors as they are so hard and she’s been really enjoying rolling over and playing on the floor. Before that we would play on the bed but had to keep putting her back to the centre of the bed as she would roll to the edge in no time. At least now she’s got more room to move around although now that she’s started crawling backward she tend to get off the squares and ends up on the wooden floor anyway! I like the fact that she has a proper play area now which keeps seeing new additions..the latest were a few plastic bottles which I filled with different things, such as rice or beads from my jewellery-making days.
image

One thing that cracks me up every time is when she plays  peak-a-boo..she started doing it all by herself a few weeks ago. She was in her exersaucer and had a cotton muslin tucked in the seat as she brings up some milk when she’s in there sometimes. I turned around she was lifting the muslin to cover her face and after a few seconds she was just pulling it down! Since then she’s been doing with pretty much anything she finds..a hat, a toy, a jumper, the empty pack of wipes that keeps her oh so entertained while u change her 🙂
image

Next on the list is weaning..as I said in my previous post, we started weaning her at 5 months due to her reflux. She immediately took to spoon feeding really well and showed a great appetite for solid food. Up until 6 months we only gave her baby rice or very little pots of homemade veggie purees, then we started giving her different veggies and fruit and gradually increased the portions.

I’ve been reading a lot about weaning (mostly Annabel Karmel’s books) and baby led weaning but so far I haven’t really attempted at giving Frances finger food to munch on as I’m so scared of her chocking! I’ve only given her little rice cakes and the odd baby biscuit but when she bites off bigger chunks I just put my little finger in her mouth and take it out!

I have to say that I’ve found the whole weaning process quite fun..yes, we’ve had to adjust our routine around meal times and finding the time to cook batches of purees in advance hasn’t been easy but all in all it is and has been one of those fun things that you do for and with your baby. Plus a friend of mine bought me a baby food maker and that’s sped up the whole cooking process a lot so now our freezer is absolutely packed with cubes (well I’ve been using mini cupcake moulds) of baby purees!
image

Her reflux has also improved an awful lot..it pains me to admit that my doctor, who refused to refer her to a gastroenterologist and said we should ‘hang in there’ as she would have eventually grown out of it, was  right. I was furious and nearly in tears when he told me that but  now I’m just so happy and relieved that his prediction was right.

Once the weaning was well established I decided to make some other changes in the feeding department..now Frances is a happy combine-fed baby. That means that I breastfeed her first and last thing and the other two feeds during the day are with formula milk.

I exclusively breastfed until the 6 months mark which was the goal I’d set. I’ve really enjoyed it and still am but I was starting to feel a bit ‘trapped’..For 6 months I didn’t skip one single feed which meant not going out in the evening (not that I’m that bothered now, I’m too tired!), not being away from her for more than 2/3 hours and definitely not too far. She never took the bottle so there wasn’t much I could do. I accepted it and carried on but then the moment arrived for me to start taking some little time for myself. We started topping her up with formula after a breastfeed so that she would get used to the bottle and then over the course of 2/3 weeks I switched to formula one feed at a time. Frances seems happy and satisfied so we all win 🙂

image

She also dropped the night feed which has made things so much easier as we don’t have to hold her upright for over half an hour in the middle of the night due to her reflux!

A few weekends ago she spent nearly the whole day with daddy while I treated myself to a mani/pedi and then lunch with a friend. It was quite weird to be out by myself, but I must admit that I felt regenerated and relaxed and going back home to my baby’s big smile was still the highlight of my day.

Sleep is another area which we’ve been focussing on these past few weeks as since the 4 month sleep regression Frances’ sleep patterns were all over the place and I was exhausted. She would wake up 2/3 times a night starting at 11pm and even if we’d manage to get her back to sleep quickly she wouldn’t go back into her cot so we’d spent weeks of me and Frances sleeping in the big bed and my husband sleeping in the guest room as there wasn’t enough room in bed for the 3 of us!

So when she turned 6 months, we decided to move Frances into her own room at night and on the same night we started sleep training. To be honest I wanted to do things a bit more gradually but at the same time didn’t want her to associate sleeping by herself with mummy and daddy picking her up at the first screech and take her into our bed.

I know that sleep training can be quite a controversial topic so I’ll just say what (kind of) worked for us. Please don’t judge us! We used a method called Controlled Crying (CC), which is a variation of the so-called Cry It Out method (CIO). What we did was go in to soothe our crying baby in the evening/at night at regular intervals, gradually increasing the time between each interval (once we excluded any other possible reasons she may be waking up, obviously). We started with 1 minute, then 3, then 5 and for all consecutive times we waited 5 minutes. Each time we went in to check on her we didn’t pick her up or talk to her, we just rubbed her belly or stroke her head to calm her down for 30 seconds, kissed her forehead and left the room.

The first night it took 2 hours (they felt more like 5!) and eventually she fell asleep and slept for 5 consecutive hours which was the longest stretch in a really loooong time. Each night we increased the time between intervals by 2 minutes but never let her cry more than 10 minutes in a row. It got quicker and quicker over the next few days but then we had to stop as she caught a cold and had to start from scratch after that. It was horrible to hear her crying and we were so close to giving up so many times. However we saw the results pretty much straight away and during the day she was also more relaxed and playful (I was too!). All because she’d got a good night’s sleep.

Now Frances falls asleep (still at the breast) around 7pm and on a good night she will sleep until 6/6.30am. On a not so good night she’ll wake up between 3.30 and 4.30am.Controlled crying did work a few times and she fell back asleep until 7am. Other times though her crying doesn’t really die down so I end up picking her up and having her sleep on me. It’s all still a work in progress but if I think about those 2/3 months I slept for no more than 1.5/2 hours in a row, even if sometimes I have to get up at 3.30am it’s still a massive improvement! I think it’s all connected to how much she sleeps during the day which is another (painful) area we’ll need to tackle next!

.