*Soppy blog post alert*

My lovely little boy is one today! It’s gone so fast and I can’t believe how much he’s grown over the past year. He’s pretty much a toddler already, which seems so strange when I think back to that little (ish) baby I held a year ago. In honour of the occasion, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite memories and photos from the past year.

Our first photo together

This was taken about 2 hours after Jacob was born. Unfortunately, he’d already scratched his face before we got his little mittens on. I’d managed to have a shower, which is why I look remarkably fresh considering I’d not slept for 40 hours or something ridiculous. This was the only time he wore that cute Gap baby grow, because he was much bigger than I expected and it never fit him again! The only thing I’d change about this picture is the disgusting cannula. Worst part of birth. Argh.

First family trip

We took Jacob to Ilkley in Yorkshire to meet his great grandparents when he was 8 weeks old. We had lots of fun doing long walks, drinking tea and eating cake with a sleepy newborn. I highly recommend travelling with such a young baby. It was much easier than when he got older!

Baby class fun

You name a baby class, we did it. Baby Sensory, Hartbeeps, Monkey Music, swimming. I liked getting out of the house and Jacob liked being stimulated. We had some great times and met some lovely people. Even if I did spend a small fortune doing them all. Every week I’d send my husband a photo of Jacob dressed in something stupid/looking incredibly unimpressed with whatever we were doing/crawling off to the front of the room to harass the teacher/occasionally engrossed in what we were meant to be doing. I’m really going to miss those times together.

Playing in the park

I can’t tell you how much I love this photo. His little face is just so cute and happy. We’ve had some great times in the park. Fresh air does everyone the world of good! Now he toddles round it’s actually much more fun than the early days when I could only sit him on the swing for a bit. Although I do spend 99% of the time stopping him from climbing the slide.

Portugal

When Jacob was 8 months old we took him to Portugal for 10 days. A flight with an 8-month-old was ‘interesting’, but we had a great time. The weather was lovely and it was nice to spend so much time together just the three of us.

Snuggling

Clearly one of the best things from the past year. We don’t get to do it that often now, but I really appreciate it when we do!

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So, that’s it. My baby is 1. I can’t imagine how much he’ll change in the next year!

Hopefully you haven’t vomited from how sickly that post was!

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It’s finally here. The last week of maternity leave. Gulp. I’ve got mixed emotions, I’m not going to lie. Part of me is really sad that it’s over and a little tiny part is really excited to be getting back to work.

No more running around the park after this little one.

12 months off…

I’ve taken the full 12 months of maternity leave and I don’t regret it for a second. It’s been tough financially. Those last 3 months of no pay at all—and the rest of the time earning statutory maternity pay (don’t get me started on the inadequacy of statutory maternity pay)—have been pretty hard. But it has been totally worth it to spend time with Jacob and see him turn into the little boy he’s becoming.

I’ve loved my time off work, but it’s not all been the relaxing, meeting friends and eating cake time I was envisaging (although there has been some of that!). It’s been a lot harder than I expected. Having a new baby can be lonely at times. And it can be frustrating, overwhelming and boring all at the same time. And all that spare time I’d have when I was off work? I’d read books, get really fit, cook. HA! What was I thinking? Being a mum is way more than a full-time job.

Still, it’s been great and we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.

Back to work

I’m going back to work 4 days a week. I’m so lucky that I’ll still be getting one day a week with my boy. I’m hoping that will be a good balance for us both.

I can’t wait to earn money, drink hot tea and have adult conversation! And to be honest, it will be nice to use my brain again. I’m slightly apprehensive too though. What if I’ve forgotten how to do my job? What if I can’t function properly when Jacob sleeps badly? What if he gets ill and can’t go to nursery? How will I get household stuff done as well as working? I’m sure it’ll all work out, but there’s a lot to get my head round.

Another worry is how am I going to make myself look presentable every day? I don’t think my ‘mum’ uniform of t-shirt and jeans is going to cut it in the office. I’ll have to find more time to wash my hair and put on makeup. Something I’ve avoided more often than I should while on maternity leave.

The last week

This week is not going to be representative of a typical week on maternity leave. It’s Jacob’s first birthday on Wednesday. We’ve just moved house, so I’m trying to unpack and get organised. We’re having a big party on Saturday—a joint 1st birthday, 30th birthday and house-warming party—so I’ve got to prepare for that. Jacob’s just started nursery so there’s that to deal with too (there’s another blog post on that coming). But I am planning to make the most of the little moments I won’t be getting once I’m back at work. I think we might manage to sneak in a little afternoon cuddle on the sofa everyday this week. If he’ll let me that is!

Was maternity leave what you expected? How did you feel about going back to work?

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It’s time for the third post in my guest series on breastfeeding. This time Georgina from Not Just Phoebe is sharing her experiences of breastfeeding Phoebe, who struggled to latch on at first.

Georgina from Not Just Phoebe’s breastfeeding experiences

When I was pregnant with Phoebe (3 years) I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed her (if I was able to of course) and the same goes with baby Frankie (now 4 months old). It was just something that felt right, completely natural and normal to do. So, when the big moment came first time round, I was all ready for that amazing biological nurturing feed I’d heard so much about straight after birth. However, stubborn baby Phoebe had other ideas and just didn’t latch on, she kept trying and managed maybe a few sucks but it wasn’t quite right and couldn’t stay on and she was falling asleep a lot.

I had midwives/breastfeeding supports come round on that first night in hospital, but she just wouldn’t get on properly, cried and then only wanted to sleep on me. I had no idea what I was doing to be honest but kept trying, remembering the whole nose to nipple advice I’d been given during our antenatal classes. In the morning (not that I’d slept) one lady really helped me get a good position and Phoebe fed for a while on both sides, which meant we were able to go home. Once at home it was a different story and again I couldn’t get the latch quite right, she was a lazy feeder and seemed to just keep sleeping.

Just after the first feed

Day 2 I starting expressing milk, as I didn’t want to lose the golden nectar that is colostrum and with the advice of our midwife we syringed the hard-earned yellow coloured milk into little Phoebe’s mouth, some “feeds” were tougher  than others but she was taking some. Unfortunately all our hard work wasn’t paying off as she lost quite a lot of her birth weight over that first week, but I knew it would take both of us some time to get into the swing of it, so stayed positive and would keep trying on her boob. I also kept a diary of what she was having either via syringe or breast as the midwives were quick to suggest formula after her drop in weight, doing this gave me peace of mind and almost some form of evidence to show them we were really trying.

Breastfeeding diary

My big turning point in those first few weeks, was going along to a local breastfeeding support group and finally getting phoebe on for a nice long feed, on both sides. I was so happy. My positioning had been slightly wrong and obviously my stress (even though I thought I was chilled) levels weren’t helping either of us crack it, but the amazing ladies at the group helped me so much and I’ll forever be grateful to them. I’m not going to lie, those first proper latch on’s were painful and toe curling, but it didn’t last long and any concerns or worries I had, I just chatted to the bf supporters and instantly felt reassured that it was normal and if anything wasn’t right they quickly corrected it. Not only did I manage to get breastfeeding confidently through the group, I also made some fantastic mummy mates who I still speak to pretty much every day and that’s 3 years later.

Feeding time

Mine and Phoebe’s breastfeeding journey had its up and downs and once she got teeth it was tough on the old nips but I absolutely loved feeding Phoebe. I had no problem feeding in public places and felt comfortable when out and about, I felt so proud watching her growing on just mummy milk. I continued to go along to the bf group and after around 6 months I was very kindly approached by the staff to take part in some free training to become a breastfeeding supporter. I jumped at the opportunity as even though it was still baby related it felt like I was using my brain again. The training ran over 6 weeks and phoebe joined the nursery attached to the centre while I was doing the training, which in itself was a nice break. The training was fab and I soon started volunteering at the centre as a peer supporter in the bf group and the feeling of being able to help other mums who like me were struggling to establish bf was amazing. Watching those babies growing week by week knowing you played a part of it was incredible and helping those mums by just giving them a hot drink and listening for an hour or two each week was a pleasure. It was my life line during those blurry early days so I know how much it can help. Our breastfeeding journey came to rather an abrupt ending at around 9 months. Her day feeds had been reducing and a few nights a week she had a bottle of expressed milk from daddy, but still loved the boob or so I thought.

The sudden stopping was a huge blow to me, I felt totally rejected in a way I didn’t even know possible, plus the hormones hit me hard and on top of that I ended up with mastitis. A very painful experience and I can still remember sitting in the bath with rock solid concrete tits, crying my eyes out trying to hand express my unwanted milk, thinking why doesn’t my baby girl want me like that anymore!? Why doesn’t she need me? Now looking back I know that was just phoebe’s personality coming through, stopping on her own terms and in a way I’m glad as we had no problems with that part of weaning, I just took the brunt of it. After a few weeks of sore sits (lots of cold cabbage leaves in the bra), weird raging hormones and hand expressing my milk had dried up, gone. We then gave P formula for a few months, weaned her off that shortly after her first birthday before switching to blue top milk. I didn’t enjoy all the faffing around sterilising bottles, getting powder everywhere so was happy when she could simply have some milk without all the fuss. As normal Phoebe took it really well and still enjoys milk now.

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Thank you for sharing this Georgina. It’s great that you got such good help from your local breastfeeding support group. I found my local support group really helpful too. You can follow Georgina on social media by clicking on the links below.

 If you’d like to contribute to this guest series comment below or send me an email andjacobmakesthree@gmail.com.

 

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When you start thinking about weaning your baby, you soon realise there is a whole industry trying to sell you stuff. It’s really hard to know what you need and what is just a gimmick. Here are the things I’ve found really useful when weaning Jacob.

Suction bowls

Nuby Stackable Suction Bowl

Babies love to throw things (I hope that’s not just my baby!). The Nuby Stackable Suction Bowls are fab. They stick really well to Jacob’s highchair and however hard he tries (and believe me he tries!), he hasn’t managed to dislodge them yet. I’ve read varying Amazon reviews on these, but so far they’ve worked really well for us. The fact they stack makes it easier to store them. They are also microwave and dishwasher proof. And they have lids! So you can take them out and about, which is really handy.

Sticky plate

Baby using a suction mat on a highchair

The Miracle Mat and Section Plate in action on our Antilop highchair

The Miracle Mat and Section Plate sticks really well to my highchair too, so it also can’t be thrown. The sections are great for serving finger foods. You don’t necessarily need a plate. The highchair surface would work just as well, but I wanted to get Jacob used to the idea of ‘crockery’, if you see what I mean.

Spoons

Munchkin White Hot Infant Safety Spoons are great. We used them from day one of weaning. I love that they change colour if food is too hot. We’ve been using them for over 6 months and they are still looking good.

Highchair

We have used two highchairs on a regular basis. One at home and one at grandma’s house. At home we have the classic Ikea Antilop. Cheap, wipe clean, easy to assemble. All good reasons to buy it. I love it. We got the tray as well as the chair and it’s great.

Tiny Jacob in the Joie highchair

At Grandma’s we have the Joie Baby Mimzy Snacker Highchair. This one is more expensive (it’s £50 at John Lewis), but it folds down nicely and is very sturdy.

Bibs

Bibs are an essential! We use various plastic ones. I do recommend getting one with sleeves to protect clothes when you let baby feed themselves. I can’t find the exact one we have but this one looks great.

Cup

We have two cups that we use on a regular basis.

The Doidy Cup is designed to help babies learn to drink from an open cup. It is slanted, so babies can see what’s in the cup without needing to tip it too far. It’s recommended from 3 months of age, and I’ve heard of breastfed babies who won’t take a bottle drinking milk from this! Apparently the drinking action is similar to breastfeeding so they find it easier. We don’t use it all the time (mess!), and especially not out and about, but I’m trying to use it more.

The Tommee Tippee First Cup is the main cup we use out of the house. The spout is easy for babies to drink from and it has a lid so less mess.

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