More motherhood ramblings

It's been a while since I blogged (until today, when I've already written two posts - one about returning to work, the other about weaning off the boob).

Before these, the last time I shared my posts with you I was talking about how we'd done some sleep training with Peyton. We are still doing really well on an evening in terms of sleep. She goes down now for 7pm and is asleep in less than a minute with zero fussing or crying. She wakes up once for a feed, usually around 3am/4am - which lasts about 10 mins - then is back to sleep until 6ish. Last week, for some unknown reason, she was waking up between 5am and 5.30am every morning. That was draining. But this week we've been back to 6am/6.15am. Monday, she slept till 7.30am!!! That was amaze.

In total, now, she sleeps for about 11 hours (obvs with that one wake up in between) which is a massive improvement on the absolute shit show that we were experiencing around, and after, Christmas.

Daytime naps are still hit and miss. The last two days we've been home when she's been due her morning nap, so she's gone down in her cot. It's taken between 20 and 25 mins to get her off, she fights it like a trooper, but once she's gone down she's slept for around 1hr 20mins. So that's progress! Her afternoon nap, when we're home, is always more successful. It takes about 5-10 mins to get her to give into that one, but she often doesn't sleep for more than 45 mins then.

She's so funny when she wakes up, her hair is always craaaazy. 

Since I last blogged we've seen a little daredevil develop before our very eyes. She lets go of things now when she's standing up, and holds it for a few seconds before toppling down. She has, however, learnt how to fall now. Earlier, she was stood up and fell forwards, but put her hands down to stop her face planting the carpet. Isn't it amazing how they learn these vital things so young?

She has also started taking steps when pushing her walker along. She can't even stand properly unaided yet, so proper walking is a good while away, but she's proper speedy when she's something to hold onto.

I posted a video of her doing it on my Instagram story this week, and I proper questioned myself before and after. I hate posting things of her "achieving" things as I really don't want to sound like one of those braggy parents, always like "look what my one is doing now" and "oh she's done this, that and the other today, isn't she brilliant." I hate it when people compare their babies, it drives me mad. 

Every baby develops differently, because they're all unique little people, so are going to do things at different times. There are things other babies are doing, or have been doing for ages, that Peyton can't do yet. And that's fine. She took much longer than most to be able to sit unaided, but I didn't worry too much about it. And she still doesn't sleep through the night without waking at least once for milk, but she'll get there when she's ready (hopefully sooner rather than later...!) 

Other babies her age are clapping now, or waving, or blowing kisses - she doesn't do any of that. But I'm not worrying about it, she'll do it when she's ready. We're just doing us, because that's all that matters. If I watched what other babies her age were doing all the time I'd go crackers. No two are the same, and that's why the world is so bloody wonderful.

I'm a notorious over-thinker, and consequently a worrier, and always think way too much about what other people will think. I'm conscious of people thinking that all I can talk about is Peyton, so don't like to bombard them with pictures, videos and updates all the time. My social media is basically a shrine to her, but she's literally the only interesting thing in my life so it'd be boring as chuff otherwise! But I'm careful about what I select to post, because I don't want to open myself up to that competitive baby world.

I hope that makes sense! I just wanna be able to do me, and P, but without coming across as too braggy in the process.

Anyway, enough of that, I hope you get what I mean!

This is completely probably not even worth mentioning but I'm so excited cos she looks so cute and grown up, but we got her some hair clips this week and OH MY GOD I CAN'T DEAL WITH HER. Her hair has grown a ridiculous amount in the last week and her fringe was covering her eyes. I am reluctant to get it cut because it sits differently every day, so I don't want it to look wonky or like I've tried to cut it myself. So, instead, I've clipped it out the way and gahhh she just looks so cute.

Sorry, I just had to have that little moment there. (Just for some context, as I was writing that, I started filling up because sometimes she is so cute she makes me wanna cry. Other times, she's such a nightmare she makes me want to cry. And that, ladies and gents, is parenting in a nutshell.)

Anyway, moving on, weaning is going so, so well now. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, she started eating loads more. It was around the time we got her a new plate (this is the one we've got, incase anyone is interested - it was a proper bargain) so I'm not sure whether it being set out differently has helped, but she's certainly eating loads better.

She almost clears her plate now, very little gets dropped down her front and even less gets launched to the floor. 

I still post her meals to a separate account, specific for baby led weaning so as not to annoy my existing followers anymore than I already must do with the P spam, wherever possible/when I remember to take pictures.

Wherever possible, she eats exactly what we eat. I absolutely love watching her eat, I could sit and watch her all day. 

In terms of what I've been eating, the less said about that the better...!

I've gone to town on my last week or so of maternity leave, enjoying way too much cake. My justification has been that I won't be able to do it when I'm back at work, and when I'm at work I'll eat better because I'll take a healthy lunch and healthy snacks to work with me. We'll see how that plays out!

I do need to ditch the cake soon, though, otherwise I'll be living in onesies when we're in Dubai - and the climate there does not allow for that!

I am confident that it will be easier to cut out the crap when I am back at work, I may just need some long lost willpower. I won't be walking anywhere near as much as I am at the moment so I'll need to restrict what goes in my mouth, otherwise I'll be like a potato.

So, aside from Peyton wanting to be in everything (she's opening kitchen cupboards now, forever sticking her head in the washing machine, and always trying to get into the oven - health and safety would have a friggin' field day in our house, sounds awful when I list it like that hahaha!), and me wanting to stuff everything in my face, I don't think there's much else to report.

She has just cut her third tooth today, not that I'd have known if I'd not seen it poking through, and then felt it for confirmation. She's been an absolute delight today - so that is unsettling, somewhat. Hoping and praying that it doesn't mean she'll be up constantly through the night or be a stroppy sass pot over the weekend. So far, so good, though. She's been asleep over two hours now and I don't even think she's moved! *touches wood*

I think that's it from us. I really hope these updates aren't too boring. It's nice to write these things down to look back on in a few months, or years, and remember all the things she was doing and when. I did get a memory book for her which I filled in religiously for the first four months. Since month five, though, it's been very much neglected. So I'm glad that I've done these little updates (roughly) each month to document everything.

We have got such an exciting few months coming up, so I can't wait to see what else will happen in our little lives and log all our memories, achievements and developments.

Just like that, maternity leave is over

And so, just like that, my maternity leave is over. After 40 weeks off work I am going back on Monday morning, bright and early.

Peyton will be dropped off at nursery and our new normal will begin.

When people have asked me how I feel about going back to work, my reply has been "I'm really looking forward to it!!" The look I get sometimes makes me question whether that's the right answer, it's certainly not the answer I think many would expect, but I really am looking forward to it.

Don't get me wrong, I'll miss Peyton like mad. I'll miss spending all my time with her everyday, I'll miss watching her learn new things, and I'll miss the funny faces she has started to pull. But I do love my job, and I can't wait to get my teeth back into it. I'm excited to use my brain again, to throw myself back into the world of local news, and to have adult conversations. I'm excited to wear clothes that aren't gym leggings, and be confident that my outfit will survive the day without getting sick/snot/dribble/faeces on, and I can't wait to drink a hot cup of coffee.

My maternity leave has been everything I imagined it would be, and so much more. I've been so incredibly lucky to have been able to share the majority of my time off with my best friend, who had her gorgeous baby girl just 8 weeks after Peyton was born. To spend so much time with the two of them, and watch how they have grown and start to interact with each other, has been amazing. Maternity leave can be incredibly, incredibly lonely at times - I learnt this very quickly - but having Soph off too made the world of difference for me. You really realise who your true friends are when you have a baby. When I was having bad days, I knew she understood. When I told her how I'd spent the day previous with a cranky, grumpy baby who was a nightmare from waking to bedtime, she understood. When I told her that I spent almost as much time crying as she did one day, she understood. Having someone there who understands exactly what you're going through is invaluable. Even down to the post-birth changes to our bodies - the things you wouldn't be able to talk to anyone else about. Honestly, I couldn't have got through the last nine months without her.

Gosh, that got very serious very quickly!

I'm feeling all soppy now.

So yes, anyway, my maternity leave has been everything I imagined.

We've been on so many walks - whether it just be into town and back, or to a nice picturesque place - we have been to baby groups, to soft play, swimming, farms, aquariums, parks, shopping centres, and more coffee shops/cafes than I care to admit. I've watched This Morning religiously (I'll miss Holly and Phil when I'm back full time), become obsessed with the ITV gameshows (Tenable and Tipping Point are really underrated!), and watched a hell of a lot of Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom, Peppa Pig and Teletubbies. FYI, Ben and Holly is by far the clear winner out of the three. Peppa is just a brat and the Teletubbies are as annoying as they were in the 90s (seriously, why can't they just speak properly?!)

So yes, whilst I am excited to be going back to work, I do feel pangs of guilt, too. Yep, that bastard mum guilt is back rearing its ugly head.

Peyton will go to nursery three full days a week, which I know she will love, but I feel guilty that the staff there will get to see every development she makes before I will. They'll get to see her learning new things and growing and changing, and I'll just get a couple of hours with her at the start of the day and before bed.

I love my job, but part of me does wish that we were in the financial position where I could go part-time. I'm sure once I get back into the swing of it I'll enjoy full-time, but right now I am feeling guilty that we'll be apart so much through the week. I hope when she's older she understands.

However, I know she will love nursery. And I know it'll encourage her development even more. She loves playing with toys and she is obsessed with other children. She gets so excited when she sees them, she squeaks like a bird and flaps her arms and legs until she's put down to crawl on over. One of the things they said after her first settling in session was how confident she is - although with Tom and I as parents, it's no wonder really!!

She has done all her settling in sessions now and they've gone so, so well. The first one, I stayed with her and just sat at the edge of the room. Off she went playing, pretty much straight away, and only came back to me a couple of times. The second one, we left her there. The staff said she was absolutely fine until about 20-25 minutes in, when she realised we had gone, and she got a bit upset. They said they were able to distract her with books/sensory toys and she was ok. She'd missed her nap before we dropped her off, though, so I think tiredness played a part in that.

She's been for her final session today, where we left her again, and she had an absolute ball. She had her dinner there - today was cottage pie with veggies, followed by trifle - and the staff said they couldn't believe how much she ate. I'd mentioned to them we were doing baby led weaning and they could just put the plate down and she'd feed herself, and the lady said that's exactly what she did. She said they weren't sure how much she'd eat, but she cleared her plate! "She eats a lot for someone so small," was the feedback. That's my girl.

They said the only time she got a bit cranky was when they tried to clean her face - she hates her face being wiped - but other than that was a delight. That makes me feel so much better about leaving her full days from Monday.

I haven't felt teary leaving her yet, and I know I'll be fine on Monday so long as she doesn't cry. If she cries, then I definitely will.

I think, because I've left her for work when I've done my keeping in touch days, I'm more used to it than if I'd never left her before. I remember my first keeping in touch day I felt emotional when I was on my way to work. I remember having these awful butterflies in my tummy until about dinner time, and was desperate for my mum to send me updates throughout their day.

The only thing I am worried about with regards to going back to work/P going to nursery is how the hell we are going to get up, both get ready, and everything we need for the day ready and out the house by 7.45am.

Honestly, I don't know how I'll manage it. Tom is neither use nor ornament on a morning, it takes him over an hour just to get himself ready! Before Peyton was born I used to be able to get up, washed, dressed and out the house within half an hour from waking up. Tom would come in and say bye to me while I was putting my make-up on, saying he was leaving, and I'd still manage to leave the house before him because of all his faffing!

So I think mornings will be a solo effort on my part...! (Sorry babe!)

Maternity leave has been the most challenging, yet rewarding, nine months of my life. I've felt love like I never knew existed, but I've also felt frustration, anxiety, sleep deprivation and sheer desperation some days. I've learnt so much about myself that I never knew. I'm not as patient as I thought I was, something that I have tried really hard to work on since realising; I rarely put myself first; and I need to open up more. I do not cope well on little sleep, I worry too much what other people think, and I struggle to switch off and relinquish control.

I've fallen in love with this tiny little ball of chaos who, some days, tests me beyond belief. She forever keeps me on my toes and could cause mischief in an empty room, but she's helped me become a better - albeit more haggard - version of me. She's a whirlwind who lights up the room with her infectious smile, her babbling and her sheer determination.

I'm so unbelievably proud of the little girl that Tom and I have raised so far. It's been hard work some days, but it's all been worth it.

I can't wait to see what else is in store for her - growing up with a best friend in Olivia, making new friends at nursery, learning more new things, and enjoying a whole host of new experiences.

The world is our oyster, baby girl, let's go get it.

The boob weaning has begun

In preparation for me going back to work on Monday (yep, it's that close now!), I have started weaning Peyton off the boob.

Yes, the time has come. My goal was always six months and from there I said we'd go with the flow until she, and I, were ready to stop.

To be honest, it's been a joint decision (so far as it can be, given that she can't talk!)

A month or so ago, when she suddenly decided she would quite happily take a bottle again, she wouldn't feed from me before bed. She was really fussy - pulling off, crying, not latching properly - and would only take a bottle of expressed milk. We had this for a few nights before I wondered whether this was her way of starting to wean off the boob. I've read that babies don't usually self wean before 12 months but, let's be honest, all that is just guidelines. Every baby is different, so it could be possible.

I had tried to express milk to keep up for her sudden demand for milk from a bottle, not the source, but I was struggling. Previously, I could express 9oz no bother, in less than 15 minutes. Now, it takes me all of my time just to get 2-3oz. I was worrying that I wouldn't be able to express enough to send with her for the day while I'm at work, as well as being concerned I'd have to spend a massive portion of my day with a breast pump attached to my chest. Not ideal.

Given Peyton's sudden return to the bottle with ease, I decided to try her with some formula. The reason I hadn't tried it previously was because she wouldn't take a bottle, and I was unsure about how she'd have it in a cup (given that they couldn't hold the amount that she'd require, as well as the sterilising element). She had formula for the first few weeks of her life, so I had no qualms about reintroducing it. I'd always said prior to P being born that my goal was to breastfeed her for six months then switch to formula from there.

However, as I've said, when six months came and everything was tootling along nicely, I was happy to follow her lead and go with the flow.

I bought some formula a few weeks ago and spent way longer than I should have done working out how the hell you make it up. Honestly, I take my hat off to mums who formula feed. It's bloody hard work!! The sterilising, the waiting for the kettle to cool, the measuring, then cooling the bottle... I struggle with all that in the middle of the day, I can't imagine trying to do it all in the middle of the night. I have to count out loud how many scoops I'm adding otherwise I lose track of whether I have done five, six or seven. I hate waiting for it to cool, and I can't stand all the washing up it generates. I can't imagine doing dozens of bottles a day for a newborn!!! I know breastfeeding has its challenges but, gosh, this does too.

Anyway, I digress. I started P with just one bottle a day to see how she got on with it. I'd read that some breastfed babies can be particular with the taste, but she guzzled it straight down.

From one bottle, we moved to two. Then to three. Now, the only times I feed her are first thing on on a morning (and before breakfast, depending how early she's woken up that day), and during the night when she wakes up (hoping this will end soon; even though I am only getting up once for 10 minutes, it's 10 minutes I'd rather be snoozing for!)

She's honestly taken to it so well. She doesn't root for the boob like she used to, which is something I was worried about, and it's so much easier feeding her while we are out. She's such a wriggler now - and is so bloody long - it could be difficult when sat at a table to feed her. If we weren't squashed in because of her gangly legs, she'd be flailing them around like Michael Flatley, kicking everything off the table/kicking the table away. On the off chance she did stay still, she would get so easily distracted by a noise, some movement, or someone talking, that she'd just causally pop off my boob and start looking around; leaving my tit on full show to the whole world. Ideal.

We get none of that with a bottle. The nosey Parker can still sit and watch the world go by while guzzling some milk, something my boob didn't allow for.

Part of me feels sad that our breastfeeding journey is nearing its end. Although, I don't know why because it was always going to have to change its path when I went back to work. I suppose going back to work at the end of your maternity leave always seems so far away, and never like a reality, until it's actually upon you.

I'm glad that it hasn't been a traumatic experience for either of us, though. It's been so natural, and so gradual, that I don't feel either of us have really noticed.

In all honesty, if I didn't have to get up and go downstairs in the middle of the night and faff with making a bottle, I'd probably swap that feed out too. Same for the morning. But it's too easy to just whack my boob out and feed her straight away, particularly when I'm still half asleep and don't want to be awake as it is.

For now, though, this is really working for us. Her food intake is upping with every passing day, and now I can see how much milk she actually takes I definitely notice that she is eating more. She's almost clearing her plates now, it's amazing how much she eats!

The other day, for example, she didn't finish any of the bottles that she had. She had 5oz from her morning bottle, 5oz from her afternoon one, and just over 4oz from the bedtime one. And today she had 3oz from her morning one before nursery, 7oz from her afternoon one, and 7oz from her bedtime one.

I feel we're all set now for her starting nursery. I labelled all her bottles and cups with her name stickers and took them in, so we're well and truly set!