15.01

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If there’s one thing I’ve realised the value of, over the past few months, it’s a quiet, cosy family morning.

Having Miss Ottilie in our lives means that weekend lie-ins are a thing of the past (though since I do the night feeds, Jason often takes her out of the bedroom first thing so that I can have a little extra uninterrupted sleep!), but instead of mourning the peaceful weekend mornings we used to have, I’ve just been embracing the wonderful early morning chaos.

When Ottilie wakes in a happy mood and spends the first few hours of the day (before the ‘I need a nap crankiness’ hits!!) cooing and laughing and talking to us, it truly makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery with this lovely little family of mine!

My favourite kind of weekend mornings now are all about wearing our PJs for as long as possible, cuddling up together in bed with cups of tea, eating at least two different types of breakfast food over the course of the morning, and then heading out into the fresh air with those two lovely dogs.

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Last week Twinings sent us over a beautiful parcel filled with their range of Fruit & Herbal Infusion teas, and invited us to embrace all things ‘natural’. And it couldn’t be better timing for me, really, since over the past year I’ve all but given up caffeine, and the teas are all naturally caffeine free!

I was never sure of exactly how much or little caffeine was acceptable during pregnancy and so just switched over to decaffeinated for ease, and even though now I don’t worry about the odd cup of coffee, my tolerance to caffeine has all but disappeared!

So now that I’m all about the caffeine-free drinks, herbal and fruit teas have become my go-to. The Twinings infusions are beautiful- light and refreshing, and make the perfect natural alternative to the strong, headache-inducing cups of coffee I used to drink every morning!

I started this past Sunday with a few cups of the Strawberry and Raspberry Infusion, and it tasted and smelled so delicious even Ottilie was leaning into my cup!

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With our bellies filled (Ottilie’s with milk, ours with toast, porridge, orange juice, and a few cups of tea), we decided that though staying in PJs all day was tempting, we were all in need of a blast of fresh air.

And the weather outside obliged on that front, with bracing winds that had us all wrapping up in as many layers as we could fit on!

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Our weekend dog walks always make me so very happy- stomping round the woods with Ottilie tucked up cosily in the wrap on either mine or Jason’s chest, it feels exactly how I always imagined our life as a family of three would be. And I love the idea that Ottilie will grow up with fresh air in her lungs, rosy cheeks, and feeling connected to the natural world around her.

Once the dogs were suitably worn out and mud-caked, and with a quick stop off in the village for a fresh bunch of flowers to brighten up the living room, we made our way back home for lunch.

And since it was a Sunday, and Sunday has its own set of rules, I’m not ashamed to tell you I put my PJ bottoms straight back on and curled up to cuddle my sleeping baby with yet another cup of tea in hand.

Bliss.

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* This post was sponsored by Twinings. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible. *

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18.12

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Before I gave birth, I expected two things. One, that the fact I’d kept so fit and active during my pregnancy would secure me a lovely, easy (ish!), natural labour (Oh the naivity!!!), and two, that I probably wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Due to a range of issues neither my Mum or Grandma was able to breastfeed, and so I just assumed that, though I was determined to give it a shot, I’d probably follow in their footsteps and not have much luck with it.

I quickly learned though that when it comes to all things baby-related, there’s just no way of telling what your experience will be like until you’re in the thick of it!

After having had a textbook pregnancy, I was shocked to found out at 38 and a half weeks that Ottilie was breech. Though I was able to have her turned back into the head down position through a procedure called an ECV, she was such a wriggler in my belly that she wound up laying back to back inside me, which led to me having a hideously drawn out and very painful four day long labour. After 72 hours of trying for my drug-free water birth, I ended up delivering Ottilie with a very strong working epidural.

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And yet once she’d finally made her appearance, she was latched on and feeding from me before my stitches were even complete! I remember so vividly laying on the bed in the delivery room with her warm little body pressed against mine, as she found her way to my right breast and took her first ever feed. It was magic.

And though I experienced some soreness, breastfeeding continued to be magical! She gained weight well, the soreness cleared up during week three, and with each feed the most intense feelings of love and pride and joy would wash over me and I’d feel happier than I’d ever felt before.

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But after those dreamy first few weeks, where I was forever on the sofa or sat up in bed with a tiny fluffy haired babe in my arms, my experience changed quite literally overnight. When Ottilie hit the six week growth spurt, she all of a sudden began pulling off me just a couple of minutes into her feeds, screaming until she she was red in the face. The first couple of times it happened I thought it was just a fluke, but it quickly became a pattern.

She began refusing to feed from me all together, and each time I’d try to latch her on she’d get more and more upset. The peaceful, bonding feeding experiences I used to enjoy so much became fraught and upsetting for us both, and I began dreading each time three hours had ticked away and she was due her next feed. Each feed became a battle as I struggled to get Ottilie to latch on and suck, and as she screamed my stress levels would rise and pretty soon I’d join her in the crying. It was dreadful.

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After the first week of it happening, I took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with reflux. My instincts at the time told me that the diagnosis was incorrect (she never displayed any other reflux symptoms other than crying mid-feed), and so I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t respond at all to the Gaviscon we’d been given.

Over the course of four weeks, as her weight gain slowed down and she dropped down the centile lines, I tore my hair out as I searched desperately for a diagnosis for her issues- was it a cow’s milk protein intolerance, or an allergy to something else I was eating, or simply a rejection of the breast?

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In the end, it was a breastfeeding helpline who helped me find an answer! It turned out that the very mild posterior tongue tie Ottilie was diagnosed with early on had suddenly begun to affect her.

It never presented a problem for her early on, but when she hit the week six growth spurt and her appetite increased, she was then unable to draw the milk from me as efficiently as she wanted to. She’d become frustrated and turn away from me as she screamed, and those cries of frustration would then turn to cries of hunger as she’d get upset to the point where she’d simply refuse to feed at all.

Finally understanding what the issues were that we were experiencing felt like the greatest relief. I was able to begin working around the problem- concentrating hard on helping Ottilie latch, and offering a bottle of expressed milk at the beginning of the feeds so that she could then come to the breast with her hunger sated.

Now that we’re in in week 14 and things are finally getting back to being easy again, looking back I have no doubt that if it weren’t for the army of expressing equipment I had at my disposal, I would never have been able to continue breastfeeding at all. I was sent a Medela Harmony handheld pump and Swing Electric pump for review purposes when I was pregnant, but I never expected to get quite as much use from them as I have done!

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Over the past few weeks I’ve relied heavily on bottles not only to keep Ottilie full and happy when she’s struggled to feed, but also have needed to express frequently to keep up my supply. In fact, I’d say that if anything I’ve actually managed to increase my supply using the Medela pumps over the past few weeks, and have gone from only being able to express 0.5-1.5 ounces at a time, to managing at least 3-4oz per expressing session!

Both the pumps are so simple to assemble and make expressing a doddle, which is absolutely vital when you’re putting them together one handed whilst holding a baby in the other!

Expressing from one side whilst I feed Ottilie on the other for me yields the best results, and allows me to create a little stockpile of bottles in the fridge ready for Ottilie to have as and when she wants or needs them. And with the Calma teats being so beautifully designed to help a baby switch from breast to bottle and back again, I’ve never had to worry at all about Ottilie getting any nipple confusion.

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Breastfeeding is hard, hard work at times but even with all the difficulties we’ve experienced, I still find it so very rewarding and am so grateful that we’ve managed to keep going. I can’t advise highly enough seeking help early on- websites like ‘kellymom‘ are a treasure trove of information about feeding, and there are many forums online filled with women happy to answer questions and provide support.

Medela also offer a helpline for mothers via their lactation consultant Sioned Hilton, and I’d be more than happy to chat all things baby or answer any questions about feeding in the comments!

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04.12

Cider-with-Rosie-London-with-Ottilie-2

C A R B   D A Y   I S   T H E   B E S T   D A Y

So, last weekend I decided to tackle London for the first time since I had Ottilie. It’d been such a long time since my last visit (back when I was 34 weeks pregnant, and looked like I’d swallowed a melon), and I missed the city with my whole heart!

It felt like a pretty huge deal, heading up into London by myself with an 11 week old baby. Ottie’s becoming pretty chilled these days and doesn’t tend to cry all that often, at least compared with the newborn days when she used to have a regular 7pm meltdown that meant Jason and I spent many an evening eating our dinners one handed whilst attempting to bounce a shrieking bundle with the other arm!

But still, the idea of trying to get us both organised and ready to catch our train on time, and keep Ottilie fed, cosy, dry, and happy all day long whilst moving around the city felt like a daunting one.

And yet it was a doddle! Ottilie cooed and smiled her way through both train journeys, took her naps snuggled in tight to my chest in the sling, and seemed to love looking around her as we travelled through the city.

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The first stop on our travels was to meet Tania and Michael at Where The Pancakes Are, a sweet little brunch spot over near Borough Market that Tania had been wanting to try for a while. And I’m glad we did, because those pancakes were fantastic!

As soon as we got to the restaurant I passed Ottilie over the table to her Auntie Tania, and judging by the look on Ottilie’s face, she was pretty happy to see her!

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We decided to share a couple of the dishes between us- the vegetarian pancakes with halloumi and roasted red pepper (delicious!) and the banana, chocolate and hazelnut pancakes (even better!!)!

The pancakes are made with buttermilk and are thick and fluffy, and that Nutella-esque spread was a dream. Ottilie spent brunch napping (with a belly full of milk that she’d enjoyed on the train) and all I could think of was how excited I am so begin introducing her to all my favourite foods in a couple of months time!

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High on chocolate sauce, we moseyed our way along the river back towards Waterloo, in search of the South Bank Christmas market. I’ve been every year for the past three or so years (I’ve lost track…) and figured Ottilie might just stay awake long enough to see the Christmas lights!

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As it happened though, the walk took us such a long time, with the crowds of tourists meandering along with us, that by the time we made it to the market she was snoozing contentedly on my chest in the wrap, whilst the rest of us had managed to work up enough of an appetite to be hungry for a pot of mac & cheese!

Two types of carbs in the space of less than three hours? Now that’s the way to spend a Saturday…

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10.11

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Everything I was ever told about motherhood is true, I’m learning. About how magical and exhausting it is, about how the love you feel for your baby grows every day, about how spot on the expression ‘long days and short years’ is starting to feel…it’s all so very accurate.

Today I watched Ottilie purposefully, though clumsily, reach out her little hand to bat at a toy over and over again. She did it at the baby group we’d been to in the morning, patting her fist down on a little patch of orange corduroy on the sensory toy I was holding in front of her, and again this afternoon she waved her fingers over and over again at her blue elephant rattle.

It was the simplest thing, and yet it made me so proud and excited to see my baby begin interacting with the world around her in a new way.

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I remember feeling nervous, before I had Ottilie, that I’d be rubbish at entertaining her or that I’d feel silly or self conscious attending singing classes or baby groups with her.

I didn’t get it, couldn’t possibly comprehend what it’s like to see this beautiful, innocent little being you created starting to explore the world as you lay it out in front of them.

But now, as Ottilie begins to spend more and more of each day awake and alert, I treasure this time I get to spend with her and love it even more than the sweet newborn snuggles that filled our early days together. We read stories, we sing songs (‘wind the bobbin up’ always gets a big gummy smile!), we get together with her baby playmates (the friends we made during our NCT class) and attend classes and share each other’s toys.

And it all suddenly feels like it’s slotting into place!

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Everyone told me, before I had Ottilie, that after three months we’d feel like we were finding our feet. And now, as we edge into our third wonderful month together, I’m finding once again that it’s turning out to be true.

We have tricky days, and Ottilie’s cold is currently making our once easy, peaceful feeds an ordeal that test the limits of my patience as my poor baby screams inconsolably because she can’t breathe through her nose well enough to feed. Our nights vary between being as wonderful as I could expect from an eight week old baby (just one middle of the night wake up, praise be!!) to restless stretches where I spend more of my time awake and feeding than peacefully sleeping…but we’re getting there.

It’s beautiful, and tiring, and emotional, and magical, and gruelling, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier or as in love.

Happy two months Ottilie my love! <3

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