Monday, 29 April 2013

Choosing a changing bag

I spent some time choosing a changing bag as I wanted something that would actually be practical but nice to look at and not too expensive - just like every other mum-to-be wants. I had a feeling that work would buy be a bag as my baby gift as this has always been a bit of a tradition so I wanted to gently point them in the right direction so I'd have something I'd really get a lot of use out of.

I loved the Yummy Mummy range from Pink Linings - it's the girly girl in me - and knew these were really popular, having read reviews and seen some being used by real mums out and about. However, the price just seemed too much compared to some other bags which seemed to offer the same functionality. If I was buying for myself, I couldn't justify £70 for a bag when a £40 bag seemed to fit the bill.

So, I chose the Rosebud London Hobo design in Family Tree print. I loved the style and the pattern was bold, bright and not overly girly (Ste will have to use it too), if you ignore the blue and pink flower lining! Rosebud London is also a spin off from one of the designers behind Pink Linings so it's still something special, just less pricey. I had looked at the measurements online and it only seemed to be an inch or so smaller in width.

For too long now I have filled my own handbags with too many things that I just don't need - if I have a bigger bag, I will fill it but when I have a smaller bag, I somehow manage (although I can't be the only one who seems to lose their keys / lipgloss / sunglasses the second they are thrown in with everything else, even in a clutch purse). Also, I know it's easy for me to say this whilst baby is still in my tum, but you can't honestly need to to take THAT much out with you, can you? Surely a few nappies, nappy bags, wipes, cream, a change of clothes, a muslin cloth plus a toy or two, is all you need in your bag, plus a bottle if you're not breastfeeding? If it's sunny, you may need a hat or if it's cold, a blanket, but they're more likely to have this with them in the pram. With all this in mind, I think my Hobo changing bag will be just perfect - there's even a pouch on the outside for mummy's things too.

However, I appreciate there must be days when you just have more stuff, perhaps because the weather is changeable or you have more things of your own to carry. That's why I have developed my own solution to turn any bag of a decent size into a changing bag. I saw a gorgeous Babymel bag in Mamas and Papas - slouchy yet structured tan leather look with loads of storage space hidden behind a beautiful, 'normal' looking handbag design - but at £75, I had to walk away. Instead, determined to prove that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a changing bag that works for you, I went to Superdrug and bought a set of clear plastic cosmetic bags. The smaller size is perfect for travel size toiletries, the medium bag is great for a few nappies, nappy bags and baby wipes and the largest size is ideal for spare clothing. At the bargain price of £6.99, I have created a practical solution that will mean any bag that I or Ste have (aside from my evening bags which will be pretty redundant for a long while yet) into a changing bag. Easy to locate when in a rush and convenient to use out and about, I'm really pleased with this simple solution.

Of course, I *had* to buy a new handbag, being a yummy mummy in the making after all, and I found the perfect option for me in Next. It's soft faux leather in a very wearable denim blue tone, has good shoulder straps plus a longer, detachable strap for cross body / pram use and plenty of room, including an outer pocket for easy access to my mobile, keys, purse etc. I tested this out earlier, putting a mummy cosmetic bag of essentials inside along with the baby bags as described, and found I still had space and the bag didn't weigh too much. What I love about this idea is that Ste can also use the smaller baby bags with any of his own satchel type bags, so he has a daddy solution in case my girly bags don't float his boat.

Finished with a lovely keying bought by a friend, and this Next bag is another solution for me when I want something bigger and more in-keeping with my summer outfits. See below some pics of how I pulled this together and the essentials I'm anticipating using. Any new mamas who have their own suggestions, please let me know!


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

And so maternity leave begins...

Friday was my last day at work. On the Thursday, we celebrated with a Dominos lunch for everyone and I was very lucky to receive some lovely gifts including a Rosebud London Hobo Family Tree print changing bag from the team. It was a good thing that we did get together one day early as my last day was a little more hectic than planned - just as we'll I had organised my handover weeks in advance!

One of my best friends then came to stay on Saturday and she left yesterday. During her visit, we caught up, tidied up and shopped up a storm. After a day in the city on Monday, after which we we were both well and truly knackered, I still found a reason to shop some more yesterday - silly me, I'd forgotten to buy sheets for the carrycot mattress! Honestly, baby's really need so much stuff! This week we bought the baby monitor (BT Monitor & Pacifier, currently £20 off at Mamas and Papas, although this just brings it in line with the price on the BT website & A,atom) plus a baby carrier and a couple more sleepsuits.

Really, that should be it for us now.

It was nice to hang out and take our time getting the last things ready. We unpacked and packed my hospital bags again and the house is all in order. Now I am left to simply rest - something I'm trying hard to do!

Saw the midwife today and baby is doing well. Very wriggly and has a strong heartbeat, plus the head has started to engage which hopefully will continue to progress. I'll be back to see her this time next week if nothing happens in between and Ste will be working from home after this week so I've only got a couple of days here by myself (although with Watson, you're never alone!).


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Photo diary of bump - from 6 weeks to 37 weeks

Here's a visual diary of bump from when we found out our happy news through to today:


Striving to be a yummy mummy

I'm not a fan of the phrase 'yummy mummy' but it's true that every mum and mum-to-be wants to hold onto who they were before baby and to look their best as often as possible. Almost as common as the 'get your sleep now, you won't get any when baby arrives' comments are the references to how you're body will never be the same and simply brushing your hair will be a luxury.

I've been very fortunate throughout my pregnancy, with no complications or any of the expected aches, pains and swelling most women seem to go through. Feel free to hate me any mums-to-be out there who are suffering morning sickness even at five months! In fact, some people have been kind enough to say that I look great, perhaps better than I have done in a long time. It's true that my skin has been clear, my hair has grown and I don't seem to have put on any weight or water retention, if you ignore my bump (which is pretty hard to do and I'm told it is a very big bump indeed).

I've tried to look after myself as I've always taken pride in my appearance - mainly because I need a bit of help in the form of concealer, eyeliner, mascara and eyebrow pencil to look vaguely normal - and because I haven't really felt unwell or tired over the past 9 months, I've been able to maintain my usual routine.

I have been really lucky and I can't remember how long it's been since I felt as confident in my own skin as I do with bump in tow. I have found it liberating to be able to wear what I want to and not worry about it clinging in the wrong places - wear your bump with pride I say! I think I'll miss having it, particularly as every woman who has had a child says your body is never the same again, but I am going to do my best to not get upset if things take a while to return to some kind of normal. I don't want to be one of those people who can think of nothing more than how many calories they've consumed and how many pounds they are away from their pre-pregnancy state.

If it's useful to any other yummy mummy wannabes, here's a list of the beauty bits and little tricks that I have found to work wonders during my pregnancy:

  • Buy maternity jeans and tights early on - I couldn't bear having anything pressing on my tummy in any way. I also opted for over the bump, not under bump, for this reason. Much nicer to tuck bump in and it's another layer when the weather is cold to keep you snug. Leggings are increasingly a staple as for me, whilst the legs of my jeans were still a little looser than I would have liked, the bump band started to get tight around 7 and a half months.
  • Buy a range of maternity tops but try and wear your current wardrobe as long as possible or buy non-maternity items which have a loose style - I have around 10 maternity tops plus some vests as when bump starts to show, you need extra length plus normal tops will tend to hang at the edge of bump rather than fit around. Other than these, I have worn mostly items from H&M which are looser around the tummy or longer in length because of the style, so hopefully I can still wear these once baby has arrived.
  • Add accessories to personalise the look - maternity clothes are dominated by stripes, which is quite funny when you think about how we normally want to avoid stripes as you never know if it's horizontal or vertical that are supposed to be flattering. To make the most of your maternity basics, simply wear a statement necklace or to show off your bump, go for longer chains. Some bracelets, a cocktail ring and a cute pair of studs is enough to make you feel like 'you' without having to spend ages, or loads of money, trying to create a new wardrobe just for pregnancy.
  • Garnier Moisture Match Protect & Glow - launched a couple of months ago, this is a great moisturiser with a hint of glow about it so you look healthy but not shiny.
  • L'oreal  Matte Morphose Foundation - quick to apply, easy to blend and light enough to not make my face look orange in comparison to the rest of me, this foundation is in my make up bag for the hospital. No mirror required to make you feel instantly better as it's so effective at evening out your skin tone.
  • Soap & Glory Glow All Out - apply over a cheek stain or cream blush to give you a bit of glow (I think it's down to this and not the rumoured 'pregnancy glow' that people have said I look so well).
  • Liptint/stick/gloss - my favourite new product is Rimmel's Apocalips, which I have in three shades' but as long as I have some form of colour on my lips, I feel much better as it helps to add colour to combat my pale complexion.

The photo above shows my main looks during pregnancy - bold colours, simple tops with a bit of detailing (lace, ties or pattern) accompanied with some lippy, nail polish and a few accessrories. I'm in the same pose as Ste has been taking a photo of me every 2-3 weeks in the same spot / from the same angle so we could chart bump's progress. Really pleased that we have as you don't realise how much you change week by week.

The photo on the right was taken yesterday when I was 37 weeks + 1 day for a work thing and i thought it would be one of the last photos of me before bump becomes baby.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Baby Shower

Three weeks ago, my closest friends organised a lovely afternoon for us to spend as ladies who lunch at New Hall Hotel & Spa for my baby shower. I knew they were planning a mini celebration but other than that, I kept my nose out of the planning and let them look after everything for me. They did a great job for my two hen do's and I made sure they knew I wasn't expecting something terribly fancy - it was more about gathering close friends and family for a get-together before baby arrives.

They had booked the Garden Room for traditional afternoon tea and managed with as much military precision as possible to get together 11 of us (or 11 and a half if you include bump) for traditional afternoon tea. This was no simple task either as the snow hit badly again and my mum and my best friend from back home and her daughter had to stay in Hampshire.

We enjoyed the Classic Tea option - reading this again now makes my mouth water! The peanut butter and jam macaroons were amazing and the mini passionfruit meringues were a firm favourite with everyone - and I lost count of how many cups of tea I had, it was so delicious!

  • Freshly prepared finger sandwiches including cucumber and smoked salmon
  • Freshly baked warm scones, with preserves and clotted cream
  • Selection of homemade mini desserts and cakes
  • Our afternoon tea menu is all home-made
  • All of the above is served with your choice from our extensive range of leaf teas and infusions

My friends had decorated the room with balloons and baby footprint confetti and each guest was given a beautiful butterfly cut-out on which to write advice to me, the mum-to-be, which we then hung along the wall. Everyone also made their predictions for baby's gender, date of birth and weight so we will see if anyone came close. Jokingly, we said the winner would get to choose the middle name of our baby but I can confirm this is NOT the prize - you'll just get a warm feeling that you made the closest prediction, nothing more!

After tea and cake, I was egged on to open the gifts that people had brought along. We had some lovely bundles and baskets and everyone did far too much for us and for baby - I really appreciate everything so much. As a little thank you, I'd prepared gift bags for each lady with a handmade tag, gift, gingerbread bunny rabbits, chocolate and a card - it was the least we could do.

It was such a nice way to spend the afternoon but over too quickly. Maybe I can be a lady who lunches when I'm on maternity leave? Here's wishful thinking...

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Project nursery - complete!

After months of gathering everything we need for baby, the nursery is now complete. The room has always been one of our favourites in the house as it has such a nice feeling about it but now it's definitely the nicest place to be.

Here's a quick run through of what we've done and the key parts of the nursery we have created:

- painted the room a soft yellow shade
- built our Mamas and Papas Pebble cot (in golden oak) with matching changing station
- cleared out the cupboard and organised the different sizes and types of baby clothes into coloured baskets, with nappy changing essentials in the drawers underneath
- changed the cupboard handles to ceramic designs featuring woodland creatures
- placed a rocking chair from Ikea in the corner of the room for nursing
- hung new rail and curtains
- used four staggered shelves to create a feature wall, displaying a collection of toys (including both of our own childhood teddy bears) and traditional children's books
- hung a variety of pictures, including three cross-stitch Winnie the Pooh framed designs made by my mother-in-law
- placed a wall vinyl above the cot featuring a quote from Winnie the Pooh
- set up the mobile, bedding, nappy stacker etc in the cot
- hung Jamboree bunting along one wall

It's hard to say what my favourite part of the room is; the musical big wheel picture frame, the collection of fairytales, the quotes on the walls. Here's some pictures of baby's room for you to enjoy:


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Birthplace - choosing where to go on the big day

With less than five weeks left to my due date, I'm starting to really focus on the big day. Despite being an avid watcher of One Born Every Minute (a key source of information for me and something that's made me increasingly emotional each week), the whole idea of labour still baffles me and I can't believe I'm really going to do what all those women have done - deliver a baby.

I've never liked hospitals (although I'm sure no-one does) but having never been in one for anything other than my tonsils when I was four and too young to know what was going on, they are scary places to me. I had never even given blood before until I became pregnant and for all these reasons, I knew early on I'd want to avoid giving birth in the main labour ward.

Even though it makes complete sense to me that if you're in pain then there's pain relief to take it away, the idea of being on a drip or monitor or having an epidural is just far too much for me. I know that everyone says 'write a birth plan but prepare to through it out the window when the time comes' but if it can be avoided, I won't be giving birth in the main labour unit at hospital.

I've visited the two midwifery run birthing centres in Birmingham and I'm struggling to decide which one to go for. Serenity is a unit based adjacent to the labour ward at Birmingham City Hospital but is run by midwives and features five rooms within which you can have a water birth (one room with a fixed pool, the rest have inflatable baths). Decorated to look homely, there's murals on the walls and each room feels distinctly unmedical (yes, I made that word up). There's mood lighting, bean bags, mats, balls and stools plus aromatherapy oils and massages are even available. There's even a kitchen and a 'sensory garden' you can use. Sounds amazing right?! The benefit to here is that it offers privacy and a more relaxed environment but if anything should happen during labour, the doctors are down the corridor and you can be transferred to the labour ward if required.

The other option is the Halcyon Birthing Centre. It's in Smethick and is a purpose built but independent unit where only midwives can be found on site. If any complications arose during labour, an ambulance would be called to transfer me to City Hospital and it would take no more than 8 minutes. I'm assured that nothing would change dramatically or quickly enough that they wouldn't anticipate a transfer well in advance but it's something to consider. The reason why I haven't ruled it out altogether at the moment it because of how amazing the centre is. I visited it on Tuesday and it does feel more like a hotel than a medical unit. There's three rooms, all with fixed pools, floor to ceiling windows, dark wood furniture, bean bags, mags, balls and stools plus TV's and the same access to aromatherapy treatments. Essentially, you have the same things available as at Serenity but at Halcyon, it's another step removed from a hospital. It's likely you may be the only woman there and you're encouraged to make yourself at home, with just one or two midwives needed.

For me, labour is something I could really freak out about but I hope that I can maintain a positive outlook and approach everything with a positive attitude. It's easy to say now but I want to laugh and smile my way through this, focusing on how the more pain I am in, the closer I am to the end and the sooner I will meet our baby. All the midwives say your mental state can really affect your physical state and so feeling more relaxed makes a lot of difference when it comes to coping with pain.

So, I need to weigh up the options and decide whether to go to Halcyon or Serenity. On the day, you call the same number and can tell them where you would like to go, if there are midwives available so there's time to change my mind if I wanted to. Of course, if baby decides to keep us waiting, I won't necessarily have much of a choice and off to hospital I will go. We looked at it yesterday just so we knew what to expect should we need to go there and whilst it was clean and the staff was nice, it's really not a place you'd choose to go. At least, I wouldn't. Where's the comforting colours and personal masseuse??

If you've had any experiences at any of the above centres or somewhere similar, I'd love to hear from you.
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