Back into the World of Work

As of yesterday, I am officially employed again. I decided to quit my previous job while I was on my maternity leave, as it simply would not be possible to do with having Isla and moving out of the area. That was two months ago, and I knew my maternity allowance was coming to an end soon, so I began looking for a new job in South Shields. I went for 3 interviews, at 3 totally different places. The first interview was for Greggs, I was unsuccessful. The second interview was for the Co-op Funeralcare, I didn’t hear back for quite a while. The third interview was for Weatherspoons, I was unsuccessful again. I carried on applying for different jobs, when I received a phone call asking if I was still interested in the position at the Co-op, I said “yes, definitely, thank you” and the process began. The long, drawn out process of screening checks, as working in such a place required a short DBS check.

I’m not going to lie, I thought I was never going to actually start work! The screening checks took such a long time as I had quite a few gaps in my employment history, with being at university and having Isla, nonetheless, I did hear back. I received a text message late one night, apologising for the delay and asking when would be a good time for me to attend an induction. Which brings us to yesterday, I had to be at the funeral home for 9AM and I was to wear whatever I felt comfortable in (thank goodness). I had arranged for my Mum to babysit, so I got up, I expressed and fed Isla’s, got dressed and left instructions with my Mum.

I met all of the other staff and was given a tour of the building. I was told what I had to do, to clean, dust and vacuum the reception area, the chapel and arranging rooms, clean the toilets and kitchens. My hours were to be 9AM until 12PM on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I thought, how hard can it be? I was quite confident about starting, I had worked as a cleaner for 2 years. I went in today for my first real day, they haven’t had a cleaner for about a year, people had been doing what they could have to keep the visible areas tidy, but it needed a good clean. I started at the bottom today and tidied everywhere, then moved upstairs, and before I knew it, it had been 3 hours. I hadn’t managed to get everywhere done, which will be what I do on Friday. Once I have done all that needs to be done this week, it will just be a matter of keeping on top of it.

As for leaving Isla, I was really anxious, it was the longest I had been away from her, and recently she has not been in the best of moods, I believe she currently has separation anxiety. However, she was an absolute star for my Mum, and apparently didn’t even know I was gone. The funny thing is, I came home at lunch time today and when she saw me she realised I hadn’t been there and burst into tears. I wish I had it on video! A quick cuddle and feed, and she was fine.

Here is a photo of her waiting for her Nanna to give her breakfast.

Now I just have to find the energy to vacuum at home…

Six Month Sleep Regression… What?!

I have often heard of the “dreaded” four month sleep regression. How babies begun waking every hour during the night, they would fight sleep and stop napping. So I had kind of mentally prepared myself for the lack of sleep when Isla turned 4 months old (plus I was living with my Mum at the time, so I knew I had help whenever I needed it). But if anything, she seemed to be a better sleeper at 4 months. I thought to myself, maybe it was because she was three weeks early? We must be going to get it in a few weeks. And then she turned 5 month and she was still sleeping pretty well, having 3 or 4 naps a day and was sleeping between 9PM AND 6AM with a couple of wake ups for boob. I thought we had skipped it.

Then her half birthday comes along and it’s like I have a devil child. A child who doesn’t need sleep to function. And a Mother who is desperate for a good night sleep!

Off to the all-knowing Google I went, and what I found surprised me. The six month sleep regression, a real thing… I wasn’t going crazy. Just not something which is spoken about as often as the 4 month sleep regression. Maybe not all parents notice the second change in sleeping habits? Maybe not all babies go through both regressions? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist or a baby doctor. All I did know was it was happening now, at six months.

Apparently, according to Google, sleep regression is normal, it is a sign that a baby is developing properly.

It did make sense, I have noticed that Isla has been actually playing with toys now, she can roll over with ease, she’s trying so hard to crawl and she’s a little chatterbox. She is learning all sorts of new things about the world around her and probably doesn’t want to miss a thing.

So, she has eventually gone over, after two days of no naps and a crappy night sleep. Hooray! Fingers crossed tonight is better.

Did your baby go through a sleep regression? Is there anything you found that helped?

First Time At The Play Park

Yesterday, me, Isla and her Dad went for a walk around the park next to my new flat. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. We walked the winding paths until we came to the play park.

There were other Mums, Dads and Nanas there with there babes, playing on the swings and slides. Which gave us an idea, we wanted Isla to have a turn on the swings, her first turn on a swing. She sat in the swing with a blanket stuffed in as she is still so petite.

After the swing, her Dad took her down the slide, which she absolutely loved! She went down the slide 6 times.

After that, we walked back around the park again, showing Isla the different flowers and trees. Her Dad told her that one type of flower was actually a fairy dress and that was how they hung them out to dry. Isla fell asleep while we walked back home.

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First Time Mum: Normal Worries & Anxieties

The worries begun for me when I was pregnant. Was everything okay? Had I felt her move today? Would I be able to cope when she came? I don’t know how to look after a baby. Then she was born and the worries I’d had when I was pregnant disappeared, but new ones arrived. Was she breathing? Should I wake her to feed her? Was she getting enough milk?

One of the things that caused the most worry was Isla’s fontanelle, I had read about it online. (Google is amazing but can also cause a lot of unnecessary worry!) A bulging fontanelle can be a sign of meningitis and a sunken fontanelle can signify dehydration. I was struggling with not knowing how much milk Isla was getting, her weight gain was so slow and obviously when breastfeeding you can’t physically see the amount of milk she is taking, with a bottle you can say “okay she drank 120ml” whereas when breastfeeding there are no measurements.

So when I first saw that dip in Isla’s skull I panicked, I ran my hand across her head and I felt sick. I couldn’t look at the top of her head when it was (what I was calling) sunken as it made my stomach turn. This went on for months, I took photographs on my phone whenever it happened so I could show the health professionals. The GP showed me a quick way to check for dehydration; to nip the tip of her finger so it went white, then let go. If it bounced straight back to her normal pink colour, all is good, if it stayed white or took a long time to change back, then there may be a problem. I was also told to pay attention to her nappy output. Lots of wet, heavy nappy’s are a good sign. In all honestly though, I didn’t stop worrying about this until she was gaining weight steadily.

Another big concern was Isla’s smile, or lack of. All my friends babies of similar ages were smiling, they would say things like “when they smile it makes everything worth it” and I just couldn’t relate. I thought something must be wrong. She was broken, we had a faulty model. Now I have come to realise that every baby is different and they will do things in their own time.

Some of the most common worries for new parents include: weight gain, meeting milestones, the colour and constancy of poo and the risk of SIDS.

As Isla gets older, my worries keep changing. Will she choke on some food? Will she roll over in her sleep and get stuck? Will she poke her eye out with a toy?

And no doubt I will continue to overthink things, but that is normal. Having said that, you know your own child and if you think something is wrong, seek medical advice.

Mental Health and Being Mum

When you become a Mum your whole live changes, your purpose and your role in life changes. No longer can you only think about yourself, there is a little person who solely depends on you. In the midst of looking after this brand new baby, not having a clue what to do, it can sometimes be hard to remember to take some time for yourself and make sure “me” is okay. Your well-being and mental health are so important and you should 100% take time to look after it.

It can be as simple as taking a shower, washing your hair, reading a book or going for a jog. Being a new parent is very time consuming, I know that first hand! And sometimes it is hard to get a shower when all Isla wants is to be held, on days like that, I forget about the shower but do something else, I might put my favourite song on and sing it to her. However, it’s not just about keeping yourself clean and doing something you enjoy, it is also important to socialise, being in the house on your own with the baby can get very lonely. Family and friends are there to support you, there are baby groups you can go to, my local Children’s Centres run classes and drop in sessions.

Before Isla was conceived, I was on medication for depression, anxiety and emotionally unstable personality disorder. It had taken me years to find the right medication that worked me for. The GP told me that my medication was not classed as safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, so I came of it and went to see the psychiatrist to make sure that I was going to be able to cope without, he gave me the ok and I was discharged. Throughout my pregnancy, I felt totally and completely fine, people kept asking me how I was feeling, and I had never felt better. It was when Isla was a few months old that I started to feel uneasy again, I felt panicked when I walked down a street or had to get on a bus full of people. At first, I put it down to being a new mum, I kept telling myself it was normal and everyone felt like this, deep down I knew it wasn’t a normal feeling. So I went to the GP and she prescribed me a very low dose medication that was safe for a breastfeeding mother. I took my medication when I remembered, I had to set an alarm on my phone, even then I sometimes forgot. The GP asked me to go in for a review before they would prescribe another months worth, the dose was raised and I was told to call a self referral service. Right now I am awaiting therapy, as Isla is under a year I am classed as a priority, therefore should be seen sooner.

Basically, what I am trying to get at, is that there is nothing to be ashamed of, sometimes people suffer from depression or anxiety, it’s just something that happens in life, and it is something that can be treated. All you have to do is ask for help. It does not make you a bad Mum!

If you have been suffering from low moods, reach out.

Call Samaritans from any phone on 116 123

Move In Day

Yesterday I picked the keys up for our new flat, it’s a 2 bedroom upstairs flat. A big, old terraced house, with an amazing fire place. I took a few bags of clothes, Isla’s toys and toiletries with me yesterday.

But today has been our proper “moving in” day. We woke up nice and early, got dressed and had breakfast, like any other day, then left for what was going to be a very long and tiring day. My Mum went to pick up the van, while I sat at the new flat, with not a lot to do, so me and Isla played with some toys, sang songs and acted silly. My Mum went and collected things from my old place, mainly Isla’s clothes, some books and DVDs, my coffee machine (priorities), the washing machine and my paintings, she then went collected some bedside cabinets from a friend of mine, and after that made a trip to her friends to pick up a sofa. After what must’ve felt like a round world trip for her, she arrived at the flat and we began unloading.

I stayed at the flat with Isla while my Mum was picking things up, I put what I could away, some plates, spices. I cleaned the bathroom.

My family were an amazing help, they brought all my furniture up, I couldn’t have done it without them. I think Isla could sense a change as she was being very clingy. I finally got her down for a nap at 12:50PM, almost 3 hours later than usual!

My living room and kitchen are now done, with the exception of needing some furniture, such as a tv stand, a dining table and chairs, maybe some shelves. Mine and Isla’s bedrooms are both a bit upside down, but at least our beds are made!

Tomorrow my fridge-freezer and tumble dryer are being delivered, and I will sort out the bedrooms. Hopefully we will both sleep well tonight, I know I need it!

Why I Chose to Clothbum

On average a family will go through 5500 disposable for one baby at the cost of around £1400, each of these disposable nappies stay on our planet for 500 years. Not 1 nappy has ever decomposed. The waste that comes with a disposable nappy is unbelievable. Firstly, 37 litres of water are used to make each single use nappy, about 1/3 of each disposable is made up of wood pulp from trees, and probably the worst thing, is that each one contains 1 cup of crude oil. Every day, approximately 6000 tonnes of nappies are thrown away, (that is the same as 1000 adult male elephants).

A modern, reusable nappy is often made of a natural fiber cloth, such as cotton, wool, bamboo and hemp, and man-made materials, such as an absorbent layer of microfiber or a waterproof layer of PUL. The average person will have 48 cloth nappies, which will be used until a child has potty trained, the cost of which is significantly lower, at around £700 for your first child, and even less for your subsequent children.

I know which materials I would prefer against my babies bum! Children in single use nappies are five times more likely to get nappy rash, and anecdotal evidence suggests that children in disposables will take 6 months longer to potty train.

There are a number of reasons I decided to go full-time cloth, firstly that it is a lot cheaper (or it is supposed to be), so far I have probably spent around £100 on nappies, mostly pre-loved but a few new. These nappies will last me until Isla has potty trained, £100 on disposables would probably last a month or two. Another reason, is that they are much more environmentally friendly, if you switched to just one reusable nappy a day, you would save 912 nappies going to landfill. And obviously, they come in all sorts of pretty prints!

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Isla was exclusively breastfed, it made washing the nappies extremely easy. I could just throw them in straight in the washer with poo on, as breast milk poop is completely water soluble. Now that we have begun weening, I have invested in a poo spatula to scrape the poo down the loo.

During the day, we use mainly pocket nappies, some brands we use include AlvaBaby, DudeyBaba and Little Bloom. On a night time, we use Little Lamb microfiber shaped nappies and a Blueberry Coverall.

What do you think about cloth nappies? Do/have you used them for your child(ren)?

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