Thursday, 28 August 2014

#BlogBumpClub - 39 1/2 weeks

May I please introduce our beautiful daughter, Ferne. She surprised us all (especially the midwives!) by her very speedy arrival on Saturday night/Sunday morning, just 46 minutes after we got to hospital!

Wiss was 6 days late and although I hoped this baby wouldn't be too late, I hadn't really contemplated that she'd be early. We had a lovely Saturday evening - family film and fajitas with Wiss. I'd even had Padron Peppers, my favourite! And unusually most of them were really spicy. I'd been experiencing a slight tightening feeling every now and then from about 5pm but didn't think much of it and I didn't mention it to anyone. By about 9pm the pains were getting stronger & my husband noticed something was up, but neither of us thought it was 'it' until about 10pm - when the pains were about 5 minutes apart!

We called my parents in law to come over and look after Wiss, and I put on my TENS machine. My hospital bag was packed and ready, my husband packed snacks and I wrote a note for Wiss. My father in law dropped us at the hospital and we arrived at 11.15pm, still sort of convinced that we'd be getting a cab home as it was probably a false alarm.

My waters broke as I was being booked in. There was a lot of it and unfortunately it looked like pond water - there was merconium present. I tried not to panic at this stage and the midwives reassured me that although this can be a sign that the baby is in distress, it can also happen when things are happening fast.

It did mean however, that I needed to be put on constant monitoring so I was taken to a delivery room and asked to lie back while they put the straps around my stomach. I hadn't written a birth plan this time around but I knew that I wanted to be active if possible. The midwives said they could put a clip on baby's head to monitor it and allow me freedom to move around, but they would examine me first to see how far along I was.

The next thing I knew I needed to push (I still had my knickers on!) I got up and turned around and my body just took over. 3 more pushes and we were told that we had a daughter, born at 00.01am, weighing 8lb 7oz. Even though it was super quick, of course it wasn't a total walk in the park but I can't really complain.

I was stunned, in total shock about what had just happened. I'd been told that subsequent labours are often speedier than the first but this had been totally unexpected. And it was a girl! I'd really had no idea whether I was carrying a boy or a girl but everybody else had seemed convinced it was another boy, 'because of the shape of the bump'!

Because of the amount of merconium present in my waters, Ferne needed to be regularly checked for 8 hours afterwards so we made ourselves comfortable. The cup of tea & a Penguin I had afterwards tasted amazing! My husband had also packed 4 bananas (good for energy but not what I fancied eating) and a packet of Scampi & Lemon flavour Nik Naks. I know he meant well but I honestly cannot think of anything less appealing to eat at 3am in a delivery room!

I stayed awake all night, in shock and in awe at our new daughter, as she fed and dozed. I thought about Wiss and couldn't wait for him to meet his little sister. I was so proud and happy, and full of adrenaline! Fortunately there were no side effects of the merconium in my waters and Ferne was given the all clear to be discharged that afternoon.

We've had a couple of days at home together now and we're all finding our way. Wiss has been so gentle and attentive but of course it's been a little hard for him to understand why he's not the centre of attention at the moment. Ferne has been feeding well, and sleeping a lot ...during the day at least! And we're all adjusting to being a family of four :)

Thank you all for your kind messages and best wishes on here, twitter and Facebook, we really appreciate them. And thanks for all the support, laughs and information I've got from the #BlogBumpClub, I can't wait to see everyone else's arrivals in the coming weeks and months and will still love reading the weekly posts.

Click on the link to check out what's been happening this week:

Mother's Always Right

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Cornershop - a felt project by Lucy Sparrow

I have been following Lucy Sparrow on twitter (@sewyoursoul) for a while now and have watched with interest as she posted photos of items she had been busy sewing, finding vacant premises and sourcing shop fittings. The Cornershop is an installation in Hoxton, where all the produce (and the till!) within the store has been painstakingly stitched from felt. I love working with felt myself so I knew this shop was going to be right up my street!

I took the overground to Hoxton last week to check it out for myself and I wasn't disappointed. The attention to detail is fantastic and the wide range of products made brought a smile to face - tinned sardines, oven chips and even KY Jelly! I spent ages circling the shop as I kept finding more and more to look at.

Lucy was behind the counter, happily chatting to all the customers and visitors. It's been very busy since it opened on August 1 and while I was there some German tourists came in because they'd seen the shop on German TV!

All the items in the Cornershop are for sale (in the shop and online), and many products have already sold out. Lucy said that although she knew that some would be very popular (Marmite for instance) she was also surprised at which other items were selling (Digestives, and Lucky Strike cigarettes) She is getting a very interesting insight into which brands we hold dear to our hearts.

I was particularly taken with many of the more unexpected everyday products such as the Domestos bleach bottles, the Bodyform sanitary towels, and the cat litter! Because they are less iconic than some of the other items I found them much more endearing and humorous. Lucy's work obviously has huge references to Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg and other Pop artists, but because it is an installation where people come and visit, and meet and chat just like a real shop, there is another layer to it. The friendly accessibility of both the shop, and the art itself means there is a lovely community feel, as well as it being quite absurd too!

I bought a couple of items myself - a box of Nurofen and a pack of Johnson's Baby Wipes - but there really was almost too much to choose from. See the photos below...

Better still, get yourself down to Hoxton to visit the shop in person if you can. It is open every day from 10am - 7pm until 31 August. There is talk of it travelling down to Brighton after this month so keep your eyes peeled. It's well worth a trip!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

#BlogBumpClub - 39 weeks

This pregnancy has been very different to my first, mainly because we've had a little person around already. I am the youngest child in my family so didn't experience my mum being pregnant, but I can imagine it must be a really strange thing for the older siblings, and throughout this pregnancy we have been mindful of how Wiss might be feeling.

Wiss has been brilliant on the whole, and although we've had a few questions like "why do we have to have a new baby?", he's been very caring, loving, proud and inquisitive! We have always been very honest with Wiss about things, and generally I'm of the belief that if he is able to ask the question then he deserves to have an answer (obviously we tailor the information or language to suit his age, but I have been amazed at how some quite big subjects just get taken on board).

We told Wiss that I was pregnant at about 17/18 weeks. Previous pregnancies had not ended well so we wanted to make sure everything was as certain as it could be before sharing the news. I also think that 40 (ish) weeks is such a long time for everyone involved, but especially for a 4 year old, that it helped to wait. And what he did he say when we told him there was a baby in my tummy? "No there's not!" Shortly followed by "I'm so excited!"

We were prepared for some big questions to be asked, but actually they came much later. To start with Wiss asked things like "when did the baby get in your tummy?" and "when will the baby come out". Our friend had a baby delivered by cesarean because it was breech, and Wiss seemed happy to take this as an answer to "how does the baby come out?" Only a few weeks ago he asked me "if the baby is the right way round, and you don't need to cut it out, how does the baby come out?" Here it was! The big question!

I told him that normally a baby comes out of the lady's foof* and waited for his response. He rolled his eyes and said "why does everything come out of a foof or a bottom??!" I was not expecting that, but he's got a point!

We are huge fans of Okido Magazine and a few months ago I stumbled across a very early copy in a charity shop. It just so happened to be an issue that dealt with reproduction, pregnancy and babies! Okido always deals with the topics informatively but also in a really fun way - there's a sperm race game at the end of this copy and a recipe for buns in the oven! But from this Wiss and I talked about sperm (Wiss calls them 'sworms') and eggs, and how the baby grows inside the mama.

image from Okido magazine, issue 12 2010
Often these conversations are very short, but then more questions will pop up weeks later, so it's obvious Wiss has been thinking about these things quite deeply. He asked how our lesbian friends had had their baby, "an egg and an egg doesn't work does it?", and if a child could have two mamas did some have two papas? Kid's brains are fascinating!

We have discussed possible names with Wiss too, and vaguely entertained the idea that we could use one of his suggestions. But seeing as these have been things like: Gary, John, Paddington, Blackbird Spot, Monster Hill or most often than not, Lewis (his name!) we will be making the decisions ourselves!

Photos: copyright Venture Photography
So now there's not much longer to wait, and Wiss will be a big brother within a few weeks. He has delegated the jobs for us all: I'm in charge of feeding the baby, Papa is in charge of poos & wees (brilliant!) and Wiss is charge of playing with the baby and keeping the cat happy. I'm really excited about this new chapter in our family life and I am sure that whoever this baby turns out to be, it's going to have an ace big brother looking out for it!

Mother's Always Right

*yes, I know! It's a ridiculous name for a vagina but I was put on the spot a long time ago and it just sort of stuck!

Monday, 18 August 2014

For the Kids - Weekend Boxes

Regular readers will know that Wiss has now finished nursery ahead of him starting school in September, and that I am officially on Maternity Leave for a year. Yay! I've been really looking forward to spending time with my little man, especially before the baby comes, but being 8 and 1/2 months pregnant does mean I have had to plan a little more 'at home' time than usual.

We were really lucky to be sent a Weekend Box, which is full of activities for kids. The Weekend Gang is made up of four characters who each have their own speciality: Wooster the Rabbit likes to get creative in the kitchen, Hattie the Hedgehog likes getting her hands dirty in the garden, Sammy the Squirrel likes arts and crafts while Oswald the Owl loves to read. Every box has four envelopes containing the things you will need and full instructions for each task, plus stickers for once you've completed it.

Wiss really liked the different characters and getting to choose which project to do first. There was a Sammy Squirrel face mask to make, including powder paints to mix up. I have to say, I was tempted to use our ready-mixed paints but this was actually the bit that Wiss enjoyed the most, and while he mixed the paints we talked about what colours would be made by adding black or white, and how paint was originally made.

We also made Popcorn Cupcakes with Wooster's envelope which contained the special ingredients and recipe (a few store cupboard extras were needed but this was no problem.) Wiss decided that he needed an audience to help him make the cakes, as you can see!

The only cooking required was to make the popcorn itself, but apart from that Wiss made them by himself. And ate most of them himself too!

Our other activities were to make a board game (dice and counters included in the box) and to plants some seeds using expanding compost disks! Once all the projects have been completed there is a certificate on the bottom of the box to be coloured in.

Although the boxes may look quite small initially there was definitely enough to keep Wiss entertained across a few days (or weekends), and all the activities were open-ended enough to lead on to further questions or spark his imagination to try something different.

The boxes are aimed at 4-6 year olds, and can be delivered in the post fortnightly or monthly, with each box costing £7.50. We thought our box was really good fun, and would make a great present idea.

Disclosure: We were sent our Weekend Box for free but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Work in Progress - Homemade Lavender Oil

Wiss and I have been making some lavender oil and although it takes a month or so to properly infuse it's really easy to do, and has loads of uses once it's ready.

You will need:
  • A carrier oil (pale in colour and with little or no fragrance) We used light olive oil
  • Fresh lavender flowers on their stalks (2 handfuls)
  • A glass jar with a stopper
  • A sunny window ledge
  • Fine sieve/Muslin
  • Jug
  • Patience

Using half of the lavender, cut the stalks so that flowers heads are still attached but with no woody stems. You need to bash the flowers up a little so either crush them in your hands or use a pestle and mortar (but don't pulp them!). Pop the flowers into your glass bottle then cover with the oil of your choice. Ideally there should be no air left in the bottle, as this could cause the oil to become rancid later. Close the bottle with the stopper and give it a good shake - Wiss loves this bit!

Leave the bottle in a sunny spot for a few days to infuse in the warmth. You can upturn it and give it a shake daily to help it 'brew'.

After two or three days you will need to refresh the flowers so that the oil can get more lovely lavender fragrance. Using a very fine sieve or some muslin, drain the oil into a jug, making sure not to spill any. Give the flowers a really good squeeze to extract as much oil as possible as this will be the strongest scented.

Put the new flowers into the original bottle and cover with the oil from your jug. Now repeat the process as before: leave in a sunny spot and give a good shake daily. Check on the scent of your oil after a week or so. You can drain and add new flowers as you wish to get the desired strength. When you are happy with your oil keep it in a dark cupboard to preserve it's shelf life, and it can be decanted into smaller bottles to make great gifts.

Lavender oil can be used to soothe itchy skin, aid sleep or just as a massage or bath oil. It can be used on pot pourri or even be sprinkled onto bicarbonate soda, which is then scattered on the carpet before hoovering to scent your home.

Wiss has been waking during the night with really bad growing pains recently, so it was suggested that a massage before bed with lavender oil could help. The lavender will help to relax the muscles as well as helping Wiss to sleep more deeply, and the massage will soothe and stretch his legs. We are yet to try out our new oil so can't say if it helps but I am looking forward to incorporating the massage into our bedtime routine and think it will be a great way for us both to relax and reconnect at the end of a busy day (especially once school starts!)

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

#BlogBumpClub - 38 weeks

Wow! 38 weeks, very nearly there... and I'm looking kind of tired of this week!

I started my maternity leave last week with a brilliant day at Brockwell Park. Wiss bunked off nursery and we headed to the Lido. I can't lie, the water was cold!! But we braved it and once you were in it was wonderful. We ate our picnic lunch whilst shivering to warm up, and as soon as we were dry we got back in again! Swim. Shiver. Eat. Repeat.
We spent the whole afternoon at the adventure playground on the other side of the park, messing around in the sand, before heading to the pub for dinner. It was such a great time with my big little man: it felt like we'd been on holiday, all in one day! I'm trying to make the most of all the time we have with Wiss alone before the baby arrives, and he becomes a big brother.
With only two(ish) weeks to go my 'nesting' instinct has finally kicked in and probably gone into overdrive to make up for lost time. I've painted the blackboard wall in the kitchen (see picture at the top), and have the paint ready to finish our bedroom this week (where the baby will be sleeping too). I've sorted out the wardrobe to make space for tiny baby grows and even tinier socks, which we eventually got down from the loft this weekend. I've even fixed the travel system and re-learnt how to fold it up and down! The hospital bag is on tomorrow's To Do list though...

The husband and I had a day together last week, child free, and we 'did lunch'. Steak frites and a sniff of his red wine, heaven! Names were on our lunchtime agenda and I *think* we have got them sorted. For the moment at least! Sorry, no clues or reveals until the baby is here.
Physically I'm feeling really well and my obsession with ice cubes has subsided. I was surprised by the huge response I got on Twitter when I asked if anyone one else had ice cravings, and even more surprised to find out that it is often a sign of low iron levels. I've had low iron since the start of this pregnancy but the ice addiction really took hold a few weeks ago and the freezer wasn't able to make cubes fast enough! I've made sure I take my iron supplements twice a day and have been alternating between tablets and SpaTone sachets. These taste pretty good and also seem to avoid the other less glamorous side-effects of taking iron, ahem!

This huge burst of energy means that I've found it tricky to find time to blog, tweet, sew or finish my website so apologies but I'm trying to be as zen as possible about this. There will be plenty of time once the baby is here.

Won't there??!

Another Blog Bump Club baby has been welcomed into the world, hello Beatrice Hope! Huge congratulations to Jennie from Edspire. Click on the link to pop over and check out how everyone else is doing and what they are all up to:

Mother's Always Right

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Our Summer Bucket List - things to do with a 4 year old in London

I finished work yesterday ahead of my maternity leave. It's a very strange mix of emotions and even though I've been off for a year before it still feels very odd! I've finished work a few weeks before my due date so that I can spend some quality time with Wiss over the summer, and we've drawn up this wish list to keep us entertained.*

Swim at Brockwell Lido - the lido is gorgeous & there is a great cafe too. The water temperature is a very doable 21 degrees at the moment due to the hot weather. There is also a brilliant kids adventure playground at the other side of Brockwell Park so we can head there after lunch.

Visit one or some of London's Fountains - there are some near London Bridge or Kings Cross, an installation on the South Bank terrace, and more at the popular Diana Memorial Park. Take your pick, and a change of clothes!

Kids Workshop at the V&A - I'm actually leading one of the drop-in architectural drawing classes being held at the V&A on Sundays during August, so Wiss will be there anyway, but it will also be great fun. Held in the courtyard, we will be looking at different ways to draw and there is a 4m long drawing board so all the kids can get involved. Plus there's the shallow lake to paddle in afterwards!

Most of the museums in London are running child-friendly workshops through the summer holidays so check out their websites to find something original to do.

Have dinner at the pub after nursery (Wiss's suggestion!) - a very simple one this but it will be a novelty for both me and Papa to collect Wiss from nursery.

Day (or two) at the Beach - it's no secret how much I love being beside the seaside so I'm hoping we'll get to spend some time at either Whitstable in Kent or Chalkwell in Essex.

Summer of Gold Stars - I learned about Parragon's preschool workbooks at BritMums last month. They are encouraging little ones to complete a page a day of their fun & educational books. I thought it would be a great way for Wiss to prepare for the start of school - and he seems to agree. 6.30am phonics anyone??!

WeekendToucan Boxes - as much as I'd like to be out and about all day every day this summer, I'm also aware that being 8 months pregnant may mean we need some quieter days too! We have been really lucky to have been sent these boxes to review for the blog. Both of them are filled with different fun activities so we can't wait to try them out and report back.

Sharky & George's Party: Mothers Meeting - I can't believe I hadn't heard about Mothers Meetings before: they have been talked about as for 'The Coolest Mums' (I'm sold already!) but I agree that new mums don't only want to talk about nappies and nipple cream, especially if they are from a creative background. Check out their calendar full of original and exciting meetings for mums, and their kids too. We are booked to go to the Sharky & George Massive Kids Party at Battersea Power Station but there's lots to choose from, and all for £5 each.

What have you all got planned for your summer holiday activities with the kids? As always, I'd love to hear from you so either leave a comment below or you can tweet me @thisiswiss. Happy Holidays :)

*all dependent on the baby not making an early appearance! ;)

#BlogBumpClub - 36 weeks + 4

A very short post this week, summed up in a few pictures. It's all (finally) starting to feel very real now that I've finished work. Eeeeek!

Mother's Always Right