Archive for the ‘Cambridge Baby Blog’ Category

Struggling does not equal failing

Posted Friday, June 21st, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

I haven’t written a blog recently because In all honesty I just haven’t felt like writing. It’s not that I have nothing to write about. Plenty has happened, believe me. But I just haven’t had the motivation or the enthusiasm to put it into words. I haven’t had the motivation or enthusiasm to do much actually.

I feel like over the past couple of weeks I’ve been surviving instead of living. I’ve been doing what needs to be done and not much beyond that. It’s been tough. Everything has gotten on top of me. The housework, the laundry, this blog, even Molly. I thought I was doing okay at this parenting thing but the last 2 weeks have had me feeling like a complete failure.

It seems as though the dreaded 4 month sleep regression finally hit. We made it to 4 months and Molly was still sleeping really well so I thought we’d avoided it but boy was I wrong. It hit when she was 4 and a half months and we haven’t slept properly since. That’s probably the reason I’ve been feeling so rubbish. Sleep deprivation isn’t good for anyone. We’ve also had some feeding problems which have been causing major stress for me. I won’t go into details but luckily that seems to have started to resolve itself now so that’s one less thing to stress about. For now at least.

 

She looks like butter wouldn't melt, doesn't she?

I realise my ability to parent is not based on how often I manage to wash my hair or how clean the floors are, but it doesn’t stop me feeling like I’m failing. I feel like I should be able to do it all. Like I should have a baby who sleeps through the night and has 3 good naps a day. I should have a spotless house and the tea on the table when my husband gets home. (I just want to clarify that he’s never expected this, nor would he ever. He actually does most of the cooking.) I'm lucky. My baby is incredibly happy and meeting her milestones. She’s rolling around non-stop and is forever laughing at her mummy and daddy. I should be grateful and yet I find myself too immersed in the negatives that it's hard to enjoy the positives sometimes.

I came across a quote on the internet recently. It said ‘just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you are failing’ and I think this is something that we should all remember. Being a parent is hard. Not everyone is experiencing it the same and so it’s unfair to compare yourself to others. Those people who look like they have it all together are bound to have their own worries and struggles. You’re not a failure if you’re finding it hard. I for one definitely need to keep reminding myself of that.


Baby’s first trip -part 2

Posted Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

So… it turns out that baby’s first trip was great. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And yes, things were stressful at times, but, the whole thing was worth it. And now we’ve done it once, we know we can do it again easy. Maybe. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 5 months it’s that babies are constantly changing, which means changing their minds and their reactions to things all the time. Like, last night was the first bath she’s ever had a bath and not cried at the end of it. We did nothing different, so that great experience was all Molly. Anyway, I’m off topic. I’m supposed to be writing about our trip.

The car ride there was fine. I don’t know if you’ve ever travelled from Cambridge to Chesterfield but the majority of it is on the A1. Molly slept for the first 45 minutes and then woke up and played for a little while. About 15 minutes until we were to leave the A1 she started whingeing and so we were planning to stop just after our exit. We decided it didn’t make sense to stop a few junctions up from our exit. Little Molly decided she was going to fall back to sleep in that time though meaning we made it to our destination relatively stress free. Win!

The week was brilliant. Having my side of the family around and spending time with Molly was amazing and I really enjoyed myself. We went everywhere. I love horses so we went to Chatsworth horse trials and had a picnic which she loved! And while we were in the Peak District we bought her a new wool mattress (half price!). I don’t know if her wool crib mattress is a contributing factor in her great sleeping but I’m not prepared to take chances so wool was the only option for her cotbed mattress. I digress again, I’ll save that for another time.

Her sleeping changed while we were away, which I kind of expected. She’s never slept in anything but her crib at home so I knew it would be some sort of miracle if she slept just as good in her travel cot in a new place. She wasn’t bad, she just didn’t want to go back to sleep after waking at around 2am. And that resulted in my first experience of co sleeping. I swore I’d never do it, but, it’s amazing how all of that seems to go out of the window after baby arrives. Maybe I’ll save that for another blog.

Overall, the whole trip was great and I wonder now why I was so worried about it. She was great. And even if she wasn’t we would have dealt with it and we still would have enjoyed ourselves. I think I’ve learned a lesson here. Even if things don’t work out as we planned, they still work out.


Baby’s first trip – Part 1

Posted Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

We’re going on holiday!!!

Okay, so it’s not really a proper holiday. We’re going to visit my mum in Chesterfield for a week, but, that’s about as close to a holiday as we’re going to get right now. I’m excited. It’s going to be good to get away for a little bit, have Sam around (I almost wrote Daddy there. I feel like I’ve got to a point where I may never call my husband by his name again! Anyone else? Anyway, I digress) and spend some time with my side of the family.

I’ve now realised how stressful it is going away with a small baby. I have no idea what to pack so naturally, as a new first time mum, I’m going to take everything. The same as when I packed my hospital bag. Better to have too much than not enough, isn’t that right? I just hope it all fits in the car.

It takes just over 2 hours to get there in the car. I have no idea how that’s going to go, if we’re planning stops or if we can drive straight there. It’s all very new and we’re just going to have to go with the flow which is something I hate to do. I love a plan. Unfortunately, as much as one tries to plan with a baby, that plan never tends to be what happens. I think I'm getting used to that. Slowly.

After speaking to another mum at our baby group, who is going on holiday the same week, I think I’m going to sit in the back of the car with Molly while Sam drives. I think this makes a lot of sense but it didn’t even cross my mind before speaking to somebody else about it. Hopefully that will make the journey a lot less stressful. I'll be armed with toys, her dummy and Ewan the dream sheep. 

Will it even be stressful? I have no idea, but I’m stressed just thinking about it. I just can’t wait to get there and relax and have a nice week together as a family.


They grow so fast

Posted Friday, May 3rd, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

My, oh, my, don’t babies grow fast?

She’s such a person now. I know she’s always been a person, obviously, but she has a little personality now. She has proper facial expressions and she interacts. I’m astounded by how much she can do at such a young age. I thought babies just ate, slept and pooped until they could crawl. How wrong I was. (Do I say that a lot? Clearly all my preconceptions about babies and motherhood were amazingly accurate.)

It all seemed to happen in a week, the week she turned 3 months old actually. She suddenly just became able to do things. She actually plays with toys now and it’s so lovely to just sit and watch her while she’s ‘busy’. She’s fascinated by her hands and her feet. Her hands must be the tastiest things because they’re never out of her mouth. As I write this she’s sat holding my finger and just staring at it. She’s so cute.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not all lovely. She’s also crying more than she used to, harder to settle and incredibly clingy towards me (and only me), but, her cute little smiles and noises, and getting to watch her sleep on the monitor while I eat my dinner (with two hands!) makes it all worth it.

I honestly can’t believe how quickly it’s gone. She’s 15 weeks old now. I’ll be honest, I lost count. Does that make me a bad mum? I don’t know, but, when somebody asked me how old she was yesterday I really had to work it out and was genuinely surprised by the answer. 15 weeks since she was the tiny baby in the hospital. That’s insane. I can’t even remember her as a tiny newborn which is so sad. Maybe because it all passes by in such a blur, and I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep, the memories just don’t seem as vivid as the pictures we have. Thank god for cameras.

We haven’t fully decided if we would like to have another child yet, but, if we did I will definitely be savouring every moment because it’s not until you experience it that you realise they’re really not small for very long. The phrase ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ has never been more fitting.


My experience with cloth nappies

Posted Friday, April 26th, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

I’ve been using cloth nappies almost full time now for at least a month. I say almost...I haven’t had the courage to use them while we’re out yet. I’m sure I will when I get a little more confident with them.

For the first month of Molly’s life, I used disposable nappies exclusively. This was always the plan. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself too much after just giving birth to my first baby. I feel like this was the right thing to do at the time, however, looking back I think it made my transition to cloth nappies that little bit harder. I got used to the ease of taking a nappy out of a packet, putting it on, taking it off a few hours later and throwing it straight in the bin. Can’t get easier than that, can you?

Now I’ve gotten used to it, cloth nappies really don’t require much extra effort than disposables. I dry pail my nappies, which means that as soon as I take them off Molly, I dispose of the liner (compost) and put the whole nappy into a bucket lined with a mesh bag. Then, when the bucket is full I just place the mesh bag into the washing machine. No soaking, or prewashing, and I don’t have to touch any dirty nappies! They always come out clean and after a hang on the washing line, any stains or smells that were left behind completely disappear. The bucket has a lid so all smells are contained, however, a cloth with some lavender oil on it will keep the nappy bucket smelling fresh when opened until I’m ready to wash.

Cloth nappies and reusable wipes are amazing, I have no idea why everybody isn’t using them. It took a few tries to get it right, I’m not gonna lie. I’ve even shed tears over them. I had so many leaks and for a while, I completely regretted my decision to even buy them in the first place. I’m glad I stuck with them though. They contain poo wonderfully and we rarely have any leaks now, unless I forget to change her! Because I also use reusable wipes the majority of my nappy changes are waste free!

Since being young I’ve been aware of the impact that humans have on the earth and so cloth nappies was a no brainer for me. I have to admit, when we first switched over, I honestly thought ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ But that’s because I started with the quick and easy world of disposables. Yes, cloth nappies may take longer but the difference really isn’t that much. I’d say maybe an extra minute or two at changes. I came across the disturbing fact this week that disposable nappies can take up to 500 years to break down. That means that the first ever disposable nappy worn is still on this earth. 8 million disposable nappies are used in the UK every single day so, according to my maths, that is A LOT of nappies that we need to find a place for. Reducing this is totally worth the extra couple of minutes of my time to use a cloth nappy instead of a disposable.

I encourage you all to start using cloth nappies with me. They’re wonderful and the benefits are great. If I ever do this all again, I will be using them straight from birth and if you’re expecting a little one soon and are thinking of using cloth, I’d recommend the same. Give it a go, I’m confident you won’t regret it.


Developmental leaps

Posted Saturday, April 20th, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

Have you heard of developmental leaps? No? Well neither had I until I read about it in a leaflet given to me by the hospital. Leaps are sudden changes in a baby’s mental development. They occur around the same time for every baby and, thanks to this wonderful app I downloaded, I can track them all.

Molly is quite a relaxed baby. She has been for as much as I can remember. Even in labour, the midwives kept checking her heartbeat and saying she was a very happy baby. That was until this week. I feel like she’s making up for 3 months of peace. I can’t complain too much, she sleeps through every night so at least I’m getting sleep. She will not, however, sleep during the day at the moment. I try everything. I’m now that parent that walks around with their baby in the pram just so she can get some sleep.

I’ve also spent a lot of this weekend walking around the living room bouncing a screaming baby. My baby that, at one time, rarely cried. Especially during the day. I’ve not had a moment to myself. I’ve not even been able to put her down so I can go to the toilet without her screaming. And it’s proper crying, with real tears. It’s heartbreaking.

I’m mentally exhausted. More than once this week I’ve wondered why I wanted a child. And then I spend the rest of the day hating myself for even thinking it. She’s worth it though. One flash of that cheeky little smile and I’m reminded why I do it all. I wouldn’t change her for the world. But I cannot wait for this leap to end and have my chilled out baby back please!

It’s not all been bad. Look at her first time in her chair! I can’t believe my tiny baby is sitting in a chair all by herself!


Decisions, decisions…

Posted Friday, April 5th, 2019 by sam maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

Since becoming a mum I see the world in a different way. It’s no longer only what will affect me in my lifetime that concerns me, I also spend a lot of my time thinking about what will happen in my daughter's life too.

I don’t want to get political here, but, there are many things happening at the moment which will affect not just the country we live in, but the entire planet. Before getting pregnant I would only have had a small interest in these issues but now I feel like I have to get involved for the sake of my child. My actions are going to shape my baby into the child, teenager and the woman she will become. I want her to have all the opportunities that I had and more. I don’t want her to have to worry about things that children shouldn't need to be worried about.

It’s not just the outside world. Almost everything I do now concerns my daughter and I spend much of my time wondering what the consequences will be for her. Obviously, I want the best for her, the same as any other parent, but, quite frankly, I don’t think there is a consensus on what is best. I’m willing to bet that even my husband and I have a different view on what is best. It sometimes feels like parenting involves a lot "winging it" and that’s rather scary.

We’ll be making a lot of decisions throughout her life that will affect her, directly and indirectly, and it seems like there’s so much pressure to get them right. My husband asked me the other day if I thought we should put her name down for a nursery. I was completely shocked. She’s 11 weeks old. But apparently, that’s what people do. Who knew? Not me! But it got me thinking about when it is time for nursery, and school for that matter. I want her to go to a good school, but, I also know we'll probably end up moving in the future, so that’s another decision to make. Wherever we choose to live needs to be right for Molly, just as much as for me and Sam.

It’s so strange to suddenly be responsible for another person. The things I do not only affect me now so I feel like I have to be a lot more careful and mindful before I do things. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s scary, but I can’t spend my time in fear because that will only teach her to do the same. Parenting is hard. In the moment it’s easy, but looking at the bigger picture, it’s going to be the hardest thing I have ever done. All I can do is my best and hope I make the right choices for Molly. Only time will tell.


To routine or not to routine?

Posted Friday, March 29th, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

That is the question I’ve been asking myself this week. So far we’d been going with the flow and it had been going really well. Until recently. More than once the past week I had the pleasure of spending the evening with an overtired baby. Not fun. Who even knew that babies could get too tired to sleep? Nightmare. So I decided that we should probably try and get her onto a nap schedule. Theoretically, that would mean that she would never get too tired because she would have scheduled naps, right? How hard can it be, I thought. Well, from my experience so far, the answer is very.

Perhaps Molly isn’t ready for scheduled naps right now. I have no idea. The thing about being a new mum is that you have literally nothing to base it on. I don’t know if she’s ready for a nap routine or even if I should be implementing something like this while she’s so young. But I know I have to try something. An overtired baby is fun for nobody and I feel it’s my responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen.

I tried putting her down for scheduled naps which just did not work. Her wake times were never the same. Sometimes she could go for 2 and a half hours while others she was tired after just 1 hour awake. So instead of sticking to certain times, I started writing down when she napped and when she woke up so I could keep track of how long she’s been awake and if she was probably ready for another sleep. I think I’ll continue to keep note because this might help me in the future when she is ready for a nap schedule. Maybe? Hopefully!

It’s been a very stressful week. We've had a couple of good days in a row though and some beautiful cuddles while she slept on me. I just think I probably put a little too much pressure on myself. She has been napping, which is all I wanted, and she seems to be getting enough sleep during the day now. It certainly isn’t a schedule but I’ve learnt to notice her little signs for when she’s tired and how long she’s able to stay awake without being grumpy. A routine isn’t for us just yet. It’s a bit too soon perhaps, but this has been a great learning experience.


A first time mum’s thoughts on dressing

Posted Friday, March 22nd, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

So, you’ve been home a couple of weeks now. You’ve gotten the hang of feeding and sleeping, you’ve probably figured out how to get a quick hot drink at least once in the day and, if you’re really lucky, you’ve even found a way to fit in a shower. Then the time comes to venture out of the house and, if you have a winter baby like me, there’s a whole new world to figure out. What should you dress your baby in?

The basic rule is one extra layer than you are wearing. I don’t know about you but I think this rule is rather ambiguous. How do you know your baby will feel the warmth the same way that you do? I know that me and my husband feel very differently about the weather and sometimes he’s wrapped up in 5 different layers and I’m only wearing 2 so which person’s layers do you base it on then? It’s basically just trial and error. As a new mum it can feel like there is a lot of pressure to get everything right the first time, but, it really isn’t the end of the world if you get it wrong for those first few outings. Or if you forget the rain cover for the pram and end up walking home really fast hoping the rain doesn’t start to soak through the not so waterproof hood of the pram. (It didn’t in case you were wondering. Sam and I were drenched, baby stayed dry thankfully.)

From what I have learned so far it seems that layers are your friend. Especially in the British winter. Sub zero temperatures one week then 18 degrees the next. In those few very cold weeks in January it was easy. A snugglesuit kept her warm and cosy. Now it’s spring, it’s a little harder. It’s cold, sometimes windy and rainy, but when that sun is out it can actually feel quite warm. So it’s good to be able to have the option to take off a layer or two when you feel your baby is getting a little warm. This is also really handy if you’re in and out of places so your baby doesn’t get too warm while you’re indoors.

If you dress your baby in wool then there’s also the added benefit of the temperature regulating properties that comes with it. Wool has the ability to transfer heat and moisture into the cooler environment so baby should stay snug without overheating. Brilliant! If you’re like me though, you may have some preconceived ideas about clothes made from wool. I imagined the clothes to be old fashioned and bulky, and, I envisaged myself stood at the sink every day wringing out masses of hand washed clothes. But this hasn’t been the case and I’ve been thoroughly converted.

I definitely stress less now about what she's wearing when we go out. Sometimes I worry that she's getting warm when we go indoors but I'm confident enough now to actually remove her from her pram in public so I can take a layer off if needs be. Most of the time it's just lifting her blanket off her though, which is much easier and less likely to disturb her because nobody wants to wake a sleeping baby. The blanket is definitely the ultimate layer! As with everything it just comes with practice and experience so maybe I'll know what I'm doing soon!

 

Here are some of my favourite products.

Disana dungarees in Organic Merino Wool - These are gorgeous! In my opinion, this piece of clothing has it all. They are soft and stretchy so I know my baby will be comfortable in them.

Molly modelling the Disana wool dungarees

Disana Baby Jumper in Organic Merino Wool - I love this jumper. I know she’ll be lovely in warm so I don’t need to worry in those lower temperatures but it’s also soft so she’s comfortable in it too. I used to put it over a sleep suit and it never looked bulky.


Molly wearing the Disana jumper over a sleep suit

Disana Wrap Baby Cardigan in Organic Merino Wool - Like the jumper but much easier to put on!

I don't seem to have a picture of her wearing this cardigan. Will definitely have to rectify this at first opportunity. You can't have too many pictures can you?

Wrap baby body in organic cotton with fold over scratch mitts - Baby body’s with built in scratch mitts are genius. They eliminate the need for scratch mitts which I guarantee you will lose at least once.

Molly having fun in the Iobio wrap baby body with scratch mitts

Premature and Newborn Baby pants with feet by Serendipity - Trousers with built in feet! I had no idea these even existed but I’m so glad they do. I love them because it means your baby can wear something other than a sleep suit for a change but still have their precious little feet covered. They also eliminate the need for socks which, again, I guarantee you will lose at least once.

Molly having a snooze in the Serendipity pants with feet


A first time mum’s thoughts on feeding

Posted Friday, March 15th, 2019 by Tanya Maskell in Cambridge Baby Blog

It doesn’t matter how you choose to feed your baby, one thing we can all agree on is that it seems like they are constantly feeding. Especially at night when we are all losing out on our precious sleep. And don’t even get me started on that second night. The ‘cluster feed night’ they called it. I think we must have gotten about 2 hours sleep. And it was our first night at home so we thought this was how it was going to be. I have to admit, there were some thoughts of ‘what have we done?!’ It does get easier. Already, at 5 weeks old, Molly is feeding less during the night and the feeds are a lot shorter than when she was a newborn.

It hasn’t always been so easy though. Molly has been a professional at this breastfeeding thing from day one. I consider myself very lucky. I have had days, however, where I have wondered if it was all worth it. There have been days that have been so painful I have considered sacking it in. Engorgement made me feel like I had boulders on my chest and blocked ducts can be agonising. And have you ever heard of mastitis? But I’m so glad I have persevered. It’s an amazing bonding experience with my baby and, once everything has settled down after the first few weeks, it’s actually rather enjoyable.

The basic message out there seems to be breast is best and there is no doubt that breastfeeding has many benefits for both baby and mother, but formula fed babies are happy and healthy too. My baby has had both. When Molly was just two days old the midwife took one look at her jaundice and sent us straight to A&E. Unfortunately, this meant admittance to a ward for some phototherapy treatment. While we were there, the nurses were very insistent that Molly needed to put on weight. We were only allowed to remove her from her lightbox for 30 minutes every 4 hours and because my milk hadn’t come in properly yet, she needed formula top ups. It was heartbreaking to know that I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby. Even more so when I found that her jaundice may have been exacerbated by my choice to breastfeed. At the time I wish I’d known that breastfeeding can increase the risk of jaundice, but looking back I don’t think it would have influenced my decision to breastfeed. Those formula top ups did the trick and I’m grateful that option was available until I was producing enough milk. I still have some in the cupboard now, just in case, because you never know.

Sam feeding Molly in hospital after admittance for jaundice

If the feeding wasn’t hard enough, sometimes the milk comes back out a lot quicker than it went in! You’ve just finished feeding, you have a nice content little baby, then before you know it you’re covered in spit up and your baby is crying because they’re hungry again! It’s the last thing you need, isn’t it? The laundry basket is full, you don’t have any more clean clothes, so you spend all day sporting a nice white stain on your black top. Muslins are your friend though. They are absolutely essential and you should aim to have one within 2 feet of you at all times so you’re armed and ready for the next spit up accident. They also make brilliant covers for when you want to breastfeed discreetly in public. Just remember to keep a couple handy in your changing bag and/or handbag for every time you leave the house.

My experiences with feeding have made me realise that there’s is no black and white when it comes to the choice of milk for your baby. Sometimes things happen unexpectedly that means our first choice isn’t available or appropriate for the circumstances. As long as baby is happy and well fed that’s all that matters. Let’s keep that in mind, take the stresses away and just enjoy the closeness of feeding our babies, because before we know it, they’ll be grown up enough to be feeding themselves.