Dear Diary

It's been a while since I put my fingers to my keyboard. I feel like life has been absolutely manic the last month.

There are so many posts I have had ideas for, but just never got around to writing; so I am going to try and condense them all into this one. It could get quite lengthy, so apologies for that.

Right, let's start where I feel like I left off. My birthday.
We had the most perfect day. We started off at Piglets Adventure Farm, near York, then headed into York where we had lunch at The Ivy. It was beautiful and Peyton was so well behaved all day. She had a bit of a run-in with a rather over zealous goat/sheep at Piglets, bless her. She was having a good stare at it when it suddenly let out the loudest baa ever in her poor little face and scared her half to death. She soon recovered, though. After a bit of pet lip action.

She's come on so much in the last few weeks, it's actually insane how much she is learning and developing. I know everyone says "oh, they grow so fast" but honestly, they really do!

She is so much more engaged with the world around her, interested in everything and always so inquisitive. Just looking back at these photos, which were only taken three weeks ago, it already feels like she has grown loads since then. She's learnt so much too - she now rolls all over the place. I used to be able to put her on her back and she wouldn't go anywhere. Now, she rolls straight onto her front, then onto her back again, then her front. Before I know it she's rolled from one side of the room and is about to roll into the next!

After our little jaunt at Piglets, we went to The Ivy. It was absolutely bloody lovely. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of prosecco, we had some gorgeous food, and Peyton slept the whole way through. I was a bit apprehensive about taking her incase she was a bit fussy/whiney and fellow diners got pissed off, but she was a dream. To the point where, when she finally woke up just as we finished our puddings, people were looking at us and saying they hadn't even realised there was a baby there.

The following day we went pumpkin picking at Farmer Copley's, near Pontefract. Yes, that's how behind the times I am - I am only just writing about our pumpkin picking experience!

We had a lovely time - albeit a bit unorganised. Tom decided we didn't need a barrow for the pumpkin(s) and that he would carry it/them - even though he was, at this point, carrying Peyton. Off we set, barrow-less, only for Tom to keep hold of our child and leave me to carry the pumpkins. I barely made it halfway across the field with two before we had to pick our favourite and leave the other behind.

Around my birthday, not only did Peyton leap straight into the four-month sleep regression with incredible gusto, she also decided she wanted to stop taking a bottle. From birth Peyton has switched between bottle and boob really well. She was combi fed for the first few weeks, which I think helped, then always had a bottle of expressed milk before bed; which Tom gave to her.

It also meant that I could leave her/Tom and I could enjoy a date night, because I knew she'd take a bottle if it came down to it.

So, imagine my distress when, literally overnight, she began refusing the bottle. We tried persevering and it just got her so upset, to the point where she'd scream as soon as she got out of the bath because she knew the bottle was coming.

My friend suggested we try a free flow cup with her, so onto Amazon I got purchasing some of those. We also picked up one in Boots to try in the mean time, until the Amazon ones arrived. It took her a few goes to work out how it worked but, once she learnt that milk came out, she loved it. She likes it even more because she can hold it herself (sob); she used to always try and hold the bottle herself.

A part of me sobbed inside, watching my four-month-old using a sippy cup so independently. Granted she spilled rather a lot of it down herself at first - but she is getting there. When my mum looked after her when I worked last week she took the cup perfectly. 

Unfortunately, she hasn't taken to sleeping as well again. The night of my birthday was the absolute worst.

She woke up at least every. Single. Hour. And she didn't just stay awake for a quick 10-15 minute feed, like normal. Oh no, she was awake for 45 minutes to an hour at a time.

It has gradually got better, but she still wakes up two to three times a night. It's a shock to the system when she's been sleeping so well, only usually waking once around 4am before getting up at 6am.

We've struggled with the clocks going back, too. Last week, when I was at work, she was waking up at 4am or 5am every morning. I was like a zombie by Friday. I tried everything - putting her to bed later, hoping she would wake up later; letting her have more naps; letting her have fewer naps; and nothing worked. There's just no routine or pattern to it. We can do exactly the same bedtime routine at exactly the same time every night. Sunday night, for example, she slept from 8.30pm until 6am, then went back to sleep after a feed from 6.20am until 8.10am. Amazing.

Last night, however, we did exactly the same. She was asleep by 8.30pm but woke up at 11.45pm for a 30-minute feed. Then slept from 00.20am until 4am. Fed and slept again from 4.15am until 6am; fell back to sleep after her feed but as soon as I put her back in her bed, at 6.45am, she was awake.

Anyway, I have lost my timeline a bit now. Let's go back to the week after my birthday...

On the Monday morning, Peyton was a poorly little pea. She's had the odd snuffle and little cold but this was like a full blown cold. She was so upset with herself,  bless her. Every time she sneezed or coughed she was sick - it was either shooting out of her nose or her mouth. She was well wrapped up that day!

I wondered whether it was her gums/teeth also giving her a bit of trouble. We've noticed her gums start to go quite white in places and have heard that can be a sign of teeth moving around underneath, ahead obviously of them cutting, so I tried her with some teething granules. She's had gel before but I thought I'd try something else too if she was having a particularly bad day.

Safe to say, my first attempt at administering them was far from successful...

You have to put them on a spoon and feed them into your baby's mouth - something we've never done before. I've never had cause to use a spoon with Peyton so wasn't sure how it would go. As she looked at the spoon with her confused face I couldn't help but laugh, blowing the granules all over her face in the process. She looked so funny, and highly unimpressed.

On the second go, she took them like a dream. She picked up on the spoon's job really quickly.

She wasn't a happy bunny that day, though. Here's a picture of the reality of that day. An unhappy babba. Too often people gloss over the reality, only choosing to share the glowing, happy times.

But we all have bad days. Barely a day goes by where Peyton doesn't poo/wee/be sick on me. I lose count of the number of times I tell her to stop fighting sleep and to just give in. And I don't know how many times I must try take a deep breath and count to ten; in reality barely ever getting past three.

We've got into a bit of a bad habit now whereby she will only really sleep during the day in her pram/the car. I like to be out and about during the day and very rarely have a whole day at home. Even if I have no plans we go for a walk into town and back. In doing this, she gets good sleeps on the way - sometimes she rocks a three hour nap in a morning. However, it means now she won't sleep when we are at home. It's a vicious circle, and one I'm sure will be hard to break out of, but as the weather turns and I can't go out walking as much, I'm hoping she will learn to sleep without being pushed for miles. Ideally, in her own bed. I can dream.

Now for probably the biggest piece of news from the last few weeks - we have started introducing a bit of food.

Now, some people will probably think "oh, isn't it a bit early for that?" but I did my research before we started, and I was sure Peyton was ready. She was displaying all the signs of being ready for food. If she was sat on my knee while I was eating she tried to grab anything and everything she could, trying to put it in her mouth if I didn't interject in time. She was fascinated watching Tom and I eat, almost imitating a dog watching every movement from plate to mouth. And she was past the 17-week mark which a lot of professionals now use as the bench mark.

We started by just introducing a bit of porridge at 19 weeks. People have told me that the first time a baby has anything other than milk they often gag. Obviously because they're not used to the texture or having to do anything other than swallow a liquid. I was well prepared for this with Peyton, but she wasn't phased at all. She didn't swallow it right away, that took a few goes. She just played with it in her mouth then spat it out. But a bit of perseverance and she soon understood what was meant to happen.

I'd bought the Cow and Gate baby porridge because it was the only gluten free one I could see in Boots. My health visitor said to me to not give her anything containing gluten before six months, so I opted for that one. The instructions state to make it with water, but I've always used my expressed milk so it tastes a bit familiar for her.

She absolutely loves porridge now. We just started her with one tablespoon in a little bowl, but now she has three - the recommended portion size. She will troff it in no time, too, barely spilling any.

After the success of the porridge, and a bit of research online, I decided to look into purees. I ideally want to do baby led weaning with P, but you are advised not to do this until "around six months". Pretty vague and something that's really ticked me off on a baby led weaning group I've joined on Facebook, but I'll maybe save that rant until another time. Their gag reflex isn't mature enough until then (or something like that?) and the risk of choking is apparently a bit higher. I bought Annabel Karmel's book, which has really good ideas in for both BLW and purees. I really just wanted to know how to start, and what first tastes to introduce.

We started with sweet potato. Her first mouthful she wasn't quite sure, but she soon couldn't get enough. I bought a Tommee Tippee steam and blend contraption because everywhere stated vegetables had to be steamed - and I don't own a steamer - and I also didn't have a blender. This was just one contraption, maybe slightly smaller than the steriliser, which did it all in one. It's really good, too, and saves on the washing up - even more of a bonus. I made enough puree for eight little pots and she was soon devouring one a day. I've started just giving her it at teatime. I'm not trying to get her onto three meals a day just yet, it's more just to give her a taste and to try stop her stealing stuff off my plate!

This week we tried carrot. She wasn't sure at first, but soon came around to it. I'm not really sure what I'll try next, I'm just winging it - like I am everything else with this motherhood lark! But she seems to be taking to it really well so far. She's fab with the spoon, although she does try and grab it off me to feed herself. I don't mind so much with the porridge but I'm not so keen on sweet potato/carrot puree being launched across my kitchen. That's the only thing about BLW that puts me off - the mess!

We'll maybe try a few more vegetables, and vegetable combinations, before we start on fruit. I'm hoping, by that time, we'll be at the "around six months" mark and can get stuck into BLW. But we shall see!

I'm almost done now, I promise. Just a quick nod to her first Halloween where the little cutie dressed up as a little kitty!

She loved all the trick or treaters, even if she did steal a sweet out of the bowl every time we went to the door. There was a little pile forming by the front door from where she'd picked a sweet out of the bowl then dropped it on the floor as we went back into the lounge.

We should've dressed her as a little monkey!

The weather has got a bit colder the last week or so, so the winter coat has been dug out. My mum's friend got her this when she was first born. She brought it round when she came to meet Peyton on one of the hottest days we had in the summer. She was only about two weeks old at the time and we were sat in the house with all the curtains drawn, a huge air con unit on, and Peyton just in a nappy. I could've cried when she handed it to me - the thought of that warm coat made me melt even more. I was so glad when I saw it was 3-6 months!

And so, to her first bonfire night. I was worried about how she'd be with fireworks. They can be quite scary for adults, especially the big banging ones that you feel in your chest, but she was not bothered one bit.

We went to a display on Friday night before the big one in town on Saturday. It's mine and my best friend's tradition to go to the bonfire and fireworks in Selby every year. Last year we stood there while Peyton was a tiny bean in my belly, and Olivia was just a twinkle in Paul's eye. This year, we were there with our gorgeous girls in tow, introducing them to our tradition.

Peyton was mesmerised, so much so that about five minutes in she absolutely conked out and fell asleep. She must get her sleeping from me because I can fall asleep anywhere, too!

As if we'd not had enough fireworks, we then went to my mum and dad's on Sunday for a little 'bonfi-cue' and more fireworks there.

Oh, and not forgetting she went to her first ever birthday party on Sunday!

I think it's safe to say she had a good time...

It's no wonder that Monday morning she needed that lie-in!

Here she is, looking all cute taking up way more room in our bed than she could ever possibly need.

And that's about it from us. I apologise if this has been really, really boring to read. I realise now I have sat here and written it all out that we are probably not at all interesting, so if you're still reading - thank you (and sorry!) 

I'm hoping to get back into the swing of writing more regularly now Tom's shifts are getting into some sort of swing in his new job. It's pretty much just been me and P from 7.30am on a morning until gone 7pm at night everyday since he started in September. By the time he's got home I've been so tired we've eaten tea, I've showered and then been ready for bed! I get all sorts of great post ideas while up feeding but never get chance to put them into practice. Well, my November resolution (yes, I've decided that's a thing) is to post more. 

And I promise they won't be as dull as this one!

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