16.04

Cider-with-Rosie-postpartum

A few weeks ago I finally got round to printing out a load of photos from the past 7 months (Ottilie is SEVEN MONTHS. When did that happen?!) , and putting them all into an album. Doing it brought back so many memories of the early weeks of motherhood, when day blurred into night and I felt like I was falling bleary-eyed through an endless cycle of three hourly feeds, nappy changes, and sleepy cuddles. I have so many fond memories of that time- of snuggling a teeny tiny Ottilie with her tufts of dark fluffy hair soft against my cheeks, of the way her breath smelled so sweet and milky and delicious (I used to take great deep breaths of it with my nose pressed up to her lips!), of the funny little squeaks and chirrups she used to make whilst awake.

But I also have found those first few weeks totally overwhelming! I remember crying literally all day, the day before Jason went back to work after paternity leave. Being left alone with Ottilie felt so incredibly daunting, and I didn’t want to leave the lovely little bubble the three of us were in together. My mother in law, Jason’s sister and my niece and nephew came to the rescue for me that day. I drove Ottilie and I over to see them, and they fed me biscuits and cuddled Ottie whilst I attempted to chill out! <3)

Looking back a few months down the line, I can completely see why so many women talk about a ‘postpartum fog’ and say that it took them the best part of a year to start feeling like themselves again. It’s only been in the last couple of months that I’ve begun to feel confidence again in how I look (more on that later), Ottilie’s recently settled into a routine that’s given me back some ‘me’ time during the days, and I feel like I’m back to pre-pregnancy levels of energy and vigour.

~

There’s so much pressure to ‘bounce back’ from having a baby, and I wanted to say in writing, here and now, that I did *not* bounce back! I do remember comparing myself a few times to friends of mine with babies, and to mothers I saw on social media who seemed to have it all together and wonder why it seemed like I was the only one finding some days so tricky. And then it occurred to me  that judging by my Instagram account, noone would ever, ever have known that I wasn’t spending all day every day swanning around town, dressed immaculately and with an equally immaculately dressed baby sleeping peacefully in her pushchair!

And, since I’m keen for Cider with Rosie to be a place of honesty, and sharing, and kindness and kindred spirits, I wanted to share a few of my ‘postpartum truths’.

- My shape is different. So different! I’ve gone from a size 6 to a size 8/10, and though my tone is coming back and I’m gradually shifting the last of the softness I gained during pregnancy, it’s slow progress. My hips are broader, my thighs are wider, my boobs are GINORMOUS (I must have gone up at least three sizes, honestly!!) and my stomach isn’t taut and toned in the same way any more. I have days where I’m okay with it and days where it makes me sad and I don’t feel particularly self confident, but in general I’ve actually found it less of a concern than I thought I might do before I had Ottilie.

- We have easy days, and tricky days. Days where Ottie is happy and playful and naps like a champ and I have endless patience and don’t feel tired and motherhood honestly feels like growing your own mini best friend! In fact, most of our days now are like that, and it’s incredible! The love I feel now on a daily basis is overwhelming. But during the four month sleep regression when for two months straight Ottilie would wake up every hour during the night, I felt like I might pass out from the tiredness. I pranged my car twice because I was so exhausted and barely functioning, and my patience was tested to its absolute limits. What got us through was co-sleeping, not listening to anyone else’s advice about having to do sleep training/crying it out/getting tough, and holding onto the ‘this too shall pass’ mantra.

- Comparison is the thief of joy, and this is SO true of motherhood! I’ve had to learn not to compare myself, or how I parent to anyone else, because all babies are different. For months I couldn’t for love nor money get Ottilie into any kind of routine or to nap in her cot, and I tied myself in knots agonising over it. I was convinced it made me a crap Mum. But guess what? Ottie just wasn’t ready for a routine, and about a three weeks ago she finally slotted herself into one with absolutely no input from me whatsoever! I’ve learnt that babies basically eat when they want, sleep when they want, and behave how they want to, and there’s very little we do as mothers that affects that!

- Getting out and about and having company kept me sane. When I was just about to give birth, I lost count of the amount of times I was told not to bother getting dressed during the early days and weeks of motherhood and to just camp out at home in my PJs. In reality? That drove me NUTS. I absolutely had to get out every day just to feel like I was coping with the challenges of having a young baby, and meeting up with other new Mums at baby classes and popping out for coffee with my NCT friends was a lifesaver. It’s much easier to cope with a wailing baby when you’ve got a friend there for moral support and a slice of cake in front of you, after all! Advice is there to be taken with a pinch of salt- use what applies to you, and ignore the rest.

~

In short, the moral of this mammoth post is this: It gets easier. And harder. And then easier again. The fog lifts, and you’ll find yourself again. You’re the best Mum for your baby, and noone’s ‘coping’ any better than you are, I promise…<3

{Picture taken a week post-partum!}

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25.03

Cider-with-Rosie-Snuzpod-5

I’ve been meaning to write a review of the Snuzpod for…six months now.

I know. Prompt.

BUT, the timing of this post is really quite apt, because after half a year of daily use we’ve just stopped putting Ottilie down to bed in our room at night in the Snuzpod, and so these photos kind of mark the end of an era!

To put it simply, the Snuzpod has been one of our absolute hero products since having Ottilie. It’s a 3-in-1 system, acting as a co-sleeper (with a genius drop down side that allows you to have baby at arm’s reach with the cot right up alongside your bed), a freestanding cot, and with a lift-off bassinet for transportable napping!

Cider-with-Rosie-Snuzpod-3

I loved how having Ottilie sleep in the Snuzpod meant that I would wake as soon as she began to stir, and I’d be then able to either whip her straight out and feed her, or resettle her with some shushing (the former happened waaaaay more than the latter!!) before she fully woke and cried. And being able to stay cosy and warm underneath my duvet during all those hours sat up in bed feeding made being awake at 2am (and 3.30am, and 5am…) so much more bearable!

I have such vivid memories of sitting up for what felt like half the night in those early days, with teeny tiny Ottilie bundled up in her swaddle blanket resting on a pillow across my lap, watching Netflix on silent on my phone to keep myself awake whilst I fed. Funny how time makes memories of the exhaustion fade and the nostalgia (read: broodiness…) grow stronger, isn’t it? :)

Being so close to Ottilie also helped ease my new Mama anxiety! I LOVED being so close to hear that I could hear her gentle breathing, and reach over and check she wasn’t too warm or cold and adjust any blankets if necessary with ease.

Cider-with-Rosie-Snuzpod-7 Cider-with-Rosie-Twinings

I’ve also been so pleased with what a beautiful addition the Snuzpod makes as part of our bedroom- it’s minimal and sleek but also so classic in its design, and the colour choices are fab too.

There’s space underneath to store extra blankets and bedding, and the rails on the end are great for keeping a muslin or two within easy reach for clearing up any post-feed sick! I was always so dreadful though at having a muslin to hand right when I needed it, and still feel like I’m not a ‘real’ Mum because I never wandered around with one flung over my shoulder!!

Cider-with-Rosie-Snuzpod-4

Oh, and I should say too that we used the Snuzpod in conjunction with that other holy grail of baby sleep products, the Sleepyhead! I’d have taken photos of them together, but Ottilie was napping inside the Sleepyhead in her cot in the nursery whilst I shot these photos!

The Snuzpod was kindly gifted to us as a press sample (I wasn’t under any obligation to review it, but have done because, as I said, it’s been one of our favourite baby products!), and is available to buy from John Lewis.

p.s. Now, this is maybe an irrelevant P.S but I think it would have helped me in the fretful early days of motherhood whilst looking at reviews like this online…my bedroom did not, I repeat NOT look this clean, tidy, and Pinterest-able when Ottilie was tiny. In fact, it doesn’t usually look like this now. My bedside table pre-baby was home to a few bottles of perfume, a lip balm, a jewellery box, and a posh candle. Now, you’ll more likely find it littered with tubes of Bonjela (in the early days it would’ve been Infacol and Lansinoh nipple cream), dummies, at least three glasses of water (never remember to take them down in the morning) and the trusty baby monitor. That bedspread has been put on the bed on maybe two or three occasions since Ottie was born, and the dusting sometimes doesn’t get done for longer than is really acceptable. Just want to be real here, because parenthood is a tough gig at times without worrying about why you can’t keep your home looking as pristine as the homes you see in pictures online! :)

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18.12

Cider-with-Rosie-breastfeeding-with-Medela-5

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.

Cider-with-Rosie-breastfeeding-with-Medela-2

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.

Cider-with-Rosie-breastfeeding-2

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.

Cider-with-Rosie-breastfeeding-with-Medela-4

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?

Cider-with-Rosie-breastfeeding

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!

Cider-with-Rosie-breastfeeding-3

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.

Cider-with-Rosie-breastfeeding-with-Medela

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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10.11

Cider-with-Rosie-Ottilie-at-2-months-5 Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

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!

Cider-with-Rosie-Ottilie-at-2-months-4 Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

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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Posted in BABY, OTTILIE

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