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Time really is flying by at the moment; Phoebe turns 10 weeks old on Thursday and I can’t believe how quickly it’s going. 

With Jack (my firstborn) as I detailed in my 4 week postpartum update, I suffered badly with the baby blues and didn’t initially cope very well with a crying, colicky newborn. I was therefore constantly reading the week ahead in my ‘week by week’ book (which is a fabulously accurate book by the way – I thoroughly recommend) and looked forward to when he was that extra week older so would hopefully be more settled! 

This time around, I’m so much more relaxed and these early days seem to fly by on their own without wishing them away! I think an active toddler definitely helps with that too! I’m also a lot more confident and a lot better at understanding Phoebe’s cries which definitely helps.

Jack is still being amazing with her and showers her with cuddles and kisses, sometimes slightly over zealously! He also refers to her as his best friend which is super cute!

So without further ado, here is our 8 week postpartum update…

My Recovery

My recovery is going really well and I passed my six week check with flying colours! 

I’m still bleeding, albeit irregularly and lightly, which I need to keep an eye on as if it continues for much longer, I may need to go for a scan to make sure it’s not being caused by retained placenta – nice! But hopefully it’s nothing to worry about and will stop on its own in a week or two.

I also have a weird vein that has suddenly hardened in my right underarm and when I lift my arm above my head sticks out all the way up the underside of my right arm! It’s pretty unsightly and seems to have baffled the doctors, who say they have never seen it before so I’m currently waiting for a scan to make sure its nothing sinister! 

My Body

My weight seems to have plateaued at about a stone and a half heavier than I want to be but that could be to do with my biscuit consumption which doesn’t seem to have declined despite my best efforts! (My will power when it comes to sweet stuff is pretty non existent!)

I’m back in my pre pregnancy clothes and don’t think I look that much heavier but I am planning on losing it over the coming months when I eventually muster up some energy to exercise! I have a wonderful personal trainer lined up to kick me into shape, I just need to get a few more zzzzz’s first! We are actually going on holiday in a few weeks and our villa has a gym, so I’m hoping that maybe that will give me the impetus to start!

My mood

Apart from the chronic sleep deprivation that can leave me a bit teary on occasions ( you seem to lose all sense of logic and rationale on 3 hours sleep!), I am generally happy, relaxed and feeling great.  

As for the little lady…

Weight/Height

She is now weighing in at 11lb 4oz so steadily gaining weight, although she had dropped from the 75th percentile down to the 50th which the health visitor didn’t seem too concerned about.

She seems to be quite long for her age and is now firmly in her 0-3 month wardrobe!

Routine

I think it’s still too early to implement a strict feeding/sleeping routine just yet (too many growth spurts in these early months!) but a definite pattern of c3 hour feeds is occurring and I’m trying to follow the following routine loosely.

7am – feed
9 -10am – sleep
10am – feed  
11.30 – top up feed before bed
12 – 2pm – sleep
2pm – feed
4 – 5pm – sleep
5pm – feed
5.45/6 – bath
6.30/7 – feed then bed.

It doesn’t always work, in fact at the moment it’s more ‘doesn’t than does’ as she has an inability to stay awake for more than 90 mins without screaming blue murder, but it’s good to have a rough idea of timings and the afternoon routine works a treat.

Her naps are normally in the buggy in the morning and late afternoon and I’m trying to establish the lunchtime nap in her cot but it’s a bit hit and miss at the moment! She only seems to sleep in her cot for about 45 mins and then wakes, but I’m hoping this will lengthen over the coming months so I can get some shut eye too!

The bedtime routine is still working really well and she is normally snoozing in her cot by 7.30 at the latest which enables me to have a really early night and catch some zzzzz’s  before the night shift commences!

Sleeping

On her 7 week birthday, she moved into her own room which I had really mixed emotions about. I loved having her in with me and looking over at her sleeping in the night and it was so convenient for feeding; I didn’t have to leave my warm, cosy bed! But since she has moved into her own room, it has been nice to get ready for bed with a light on and not have to creep around! I also think I’m sleeping a little better as I’m not worrying about waking her if I roll over or crinkle the duvet!

We also introduced a dream feed (daddy feed) at 10.30pm with the aim of me getting a longer stint asleep and transferring her ‘longer/deep sleep’ until after the dreamfeed. It hasn’t quite worked like that and she is now pretty much waking like clockwork at 1.30am and 3.30am for a feed and is then becoming increasingly difficult to keep asleep in the early hours so we are normally paying her a visit every hour after 3.30am! Thankfully she is very easy to put back to sleep but it’s keeping her asleep that’s the issue when she’s in the ‘light sleep’ phase. We are both shattered but just have to keep reminding ourselves it’s ‘just a phase’ and as she gets bigger she’ll sleep longer! We are debating stopping the dreamfeed and seeing if that helps at all as it could be the formula playing havoc with her as she is only used to breast milk.

I also read recently that it’s very rare for a baby weighing less than 11lbs to sleep more than 5 hours so maybe I need to fatten her up as she is just over this weight!

At 6 weeks, I also caved and sent Andy out to buy her a dummy. She was being impossible to settle one evening and nuzzled on me for nearly 4 hours, so I thought enough’s enough! For some reason I’m not a big fan of dummy’s so I found giving her one really difficult, although it was obviously brilliant at instantly soothing her! Thankfully she’s not a big fan of it and will only take it when she’s really howling to calm her down so its use is limited and I never give it to her for her evening sleep as I don’t want to get in the habit of having to run in and pop it back in her mouth when it falls out.

Feeding

I’m still breastfeeding her, but she now has a bottle of formula for the dreamfeed included in the mix. Thankfully she takes the bottle fine which is a relief!

She is roughly feeding every three hours and is definitely getting quicker at drinking. I can no longer while away a good hour watching daytime TV! 

She had a growth spurt around week 6 where we were constantly attached for a few days and was a bit fretful but that soon passed.

After having a follow up examination with the doctor regarding her reflux, we have also stopped with the reflux meds as she seemed to have really bad trapped wind with them which is a common side effect and her reflux no longer seems to bother her.

Size

She has moved up to size 2 nappies and is now wearing her 0-3 month clothes. I’m looking forward to our holiday so she can wear the gorgeous rompers and dresses she has; I swear her wardrobe is better than mine! 

Development and playing

She has turned into a smiley little thing and doles them out to anyone willing to smile at her which is lovely and most welcome! She also seems to be pretty ticklish although no giggles come out yet, just mega smiles. 

She has also really started to find her voice and we have some lovely conversations (read lots of cute cooing!). If you repeat back to her exactly the same noise she makes, our little ‘conversations’ can go on for aaaaages!!

She is incredibly strong and quite happily partakes in ‘tummy time’ (here’s a little video of her – look at that head control!)

She has also just started to happily spend longer on her play mat as long as I’m sat with her. We have the Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym (see review!) and she has just started to give the piano keys a good kick and has started to bat purposefully at the dangly bits. She is also rather partial to smiling at herself in the mirror!

She has found her hands over the last couple of weeks and now sucks them continuously! She can also hold a rattle if I place it in her grasp but tends to bosh herself on the head with her jerky arm movements which isn’t the best! 

She is still as alert (and nosey) as ever and loves facing outwards when I hold her so she can have a good look around.

Days out

For the last couple of weeks my sister and her family have been staying up here so we have spent every day playing with them at Granny and Papa’s house.

We have also done our usual play dates, trips to the park, to the shops, to the gymnasium to watch Jack spend an hour diving head first into a foam pit (!) and we went to visit Great Granny and Great Papa in Blundellsands which was Phoebe’s first trip to the seaside.

We have also started meeting a lovely group of mummies and babies at the local pub on a Tuesday morning which has been really nice. There are a few of us with babies the same age which is ideal to swap tips and compare notes!

There was also the enjoyable trip to the doctors for the 8 week check and injections. Her check went swimmingly and thankfully the injections seemed to have had no ill effect at all.

I also managed to sneak away with Jack for a morning when I took him to a birthday party at the Chill Factore and daddy looked after Phoebe. It was so nice to spend some time with Jack on my own and he loved the attention (and pelting me with snow!) and it was good to know that Phoebe will happily take a bottle in the day too.

So that’s the roundup of our last four weeks. I’ll update you again soon.

  • Sammi JohnsonSeptember 4, 2014 - 12:51 pm

    She’s beautiful xxReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabySeptember 8, 2014 - 6:58 pm

      Thanks Sammi xReplyCancel

  • ToniSeptember 6, 2014 - 11:40 am

    so cute! I don’t know how you find the time to blog when she’s so young, I struggle now & my little man is 22 months! xReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabySeptember 8, 2014 - 6:58 pm

      ah thanks Toni. I tend to write the majority of my blog posts on my phone during middle of the night feeding sessions at the moment! xReplyCancel

The third installment of ‘handmade with love’ introduces the fabulous couple behind the adored brand Alphabet Bags.

Alphabet Bags is an accessories brand created and run by husband & wife team Hayley & Lucas who have a growing number of collections including initial coin purses, colourful totes for summer, wash bags, a wedding collection and more typographic totes than you can shake a stick at.

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Names: Lucas and Hayley

Company: Alphabet Bags

Tell me a little bit more about yourselves: We are a husband and wife team in our twenties, living, working and generally having a good time. We met through Myspace (old school!) while we were both at university in Birmingham. After a while chatting online and on the phone we went on a date, followed by more dates, and now we’re married.

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Describe your business in one sentence: Alphabet Bags is an accessories brand creating lovely items with an emphasis on the simple, bold and cheerful.

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When did you start your business and why? We launched Alphabet Bags in 2008 from the spare room of our small flat. We were running our first website www.thecalmgallery.com which we had launched a few years earlier whilst at university, but we had always wanted to expand into bags and accessories and we had lots of ideas that we wanted to make into reality. As a result of our shared love of typography, the alphabet, simple totes and after much research and sourcing we made the leap and Alphabet Bags was born! We opened quite simply with 26 sturdy cotton totes printed with every lovely letter from A to Z. People seemed to like them, so we carried on working hard at making lovely accessories, just the kinds of things that we would love to use, give and receive.

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What’s it like working with each other everyday?  We feel really lucky to be able to work together doing something we both love. It’s not always plain sailing, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. We each have our own roles, which keep us busy, but when it comes to creating new collections and doing the more interesting things we’re always collaborating. Sharing ideas and watching something come to fruition is definitely the best part of what we do together. It’s great to share the highs, but also to be there for each other when things are tougher. On the other hand we do catch ourselves talking about work 24/7 at times, and our office Christmas party can be a little quiet with it being just the two of us!

Describe your creative space: It’s an industrial unit just south of Cambridge. It’s pretty much a warehouse but we have a cozy little upstairs office filled with plants and vintage furniture where we spend a lot of the day. It’s almost like a home from home! We are looking forward to an office move closer to home and with a bit more room for us to grow!

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What has been your biggest achievement so far? There are so many things that we are proud of but in particular it has to be our recent Alphabet Bags UT collection for Uniqlo. We love shopping at Uniqlo so it was so exciting to be approached to collaborate with them on a t-shirt collection. It’s pretty amazing to think of people all over the world wearing our designs!

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What is your favourite product and why? At the moment we’d have to say our new Bon Voyage travel pouch. It’s a really useful and fun pouch, perfect for holidays and adventures. We recently took one on a holiday to Jamaica and it was perfect for storing all of our travel documents. We’re also pretty excited about a brand new collection of grey wash bags we’ve just launched.

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In terms of your work what couldn’t you live without? A mechanical pencil and a stack of paper!

What do you love most about what you do? We love that we have built our brand together as a couple from the ground up. We feel extremely proud and grateful to be able to do what we do and it’s so exciting for us to know that people around the world are enjoying using our products.

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How lovely are their wares?!

If you’d like to keep up to date with Alphabet Bags’ news, you can find them here… website, blog, facebook and twitter.

Lucas and Hayley are very kindly offering you a special discount for one week only. You will be able to get a lovely 15% off  your purchases by using this code at the checkout HELLOBABY. (The code is valid until 9th September so get shopping!!).

In addition, Hello Baby has teamed up with Alphabet Bags to offer one lucky person the chance to win an item of their choice!

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Tote, purses, make-up bags – you name it, they’ve got it. For your chance to win, comment on this blog post, telling me what item you would like to win and then fill in the Rafflecopter widget below. Full T&Cs are below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:

  1. Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding anyone professionally associated with Hello Baby Blog or Alphabet Bags.
  2. The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
  3. The prize draw starts at 9.00am GMT on 1st September 2014 and closes at 11.59pm GMT on 30th September 2014.
  4. Entry is free and must be made by commenting on this blog post and filling in the Rafflecopter widget. Entrants can gain bonus entries by following Hello Baby on facebook,  @hellobabyblog on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, following Alphabet Bags on facebook, @Alphabetbags on Twitter and then completing the Rafflecopter widget featured in this post.
  5. The name of the winner will be published on this website within 14 days of the competition closing.
  6. Hello Baby Blog’s decision on all matters is final and binding on all entrants. No correspondence will be entered into.
  7. By taking part in this competition you agree to be bound by the competition terms and conditions.
  8. Hello Baby Blog reserves the right to disqualify any entrant and / or winner in its discretion and without any notice in accordance with these terms and conditions.
  9. Once the winner has been selected at random using Rafflecopter, I will inform Alphabet Bags of the winner’s name, address and prize choice, they will then send on the prize. I’m sure this won’t happen but I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post or arriving late.

What feels like many moons ago, I studied at Tokyo University and thus started my obsession with Japanese food.

Sushi, sashimi, tempura, noodles and miso; I would eat it day in, day out if I could so I’m planning on sharing a variety of my favourite Japanese recipes on the blog over the coming months.

This classic chilli chicken ramen is a favourite of mine and is so easy to prepare.

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Image credit

 

INGREDIENTS

* 2 chicken breasts
* Vegetable oil, for oiling
* salt and pepper
* 250g (9oz) ramen noodles
* 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) chicken or vegetable stock
* 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
* 1 or 2 (depending on how spicy you want it!) red chillis, finely sliced
* 150g beansprouts
* Half a red onion, finely sliced

* Coriander to garnish

METHOD

1. Preheat the grill or griddle pan

2. Lightly oil and season the chicken breasts and grill for 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, slice on the diagonal and set aside.

3. Cook the noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until just tender.

4. Drain, refresh under cold running water and divide between two bowls

5. Heat the chicken or vegetable stock until boiling

6. Add the beansprouts for 2-3 minutes until tender and pour the stock and beansprouts into the two bowls.

7. Top with the sliced chicken, spring onions, chillis, red onion and coriander.

Recipe // Chilli Chicken Ramen
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • * 2 chicken breasts
  • * vegetable oil, for oiling
  • * salt and pepper
  • * 250g (9oz) ramen noodles
  • * 1 litre (1¾ pints) chicken or vegetable stock
  • * 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • * 1 or 2 (depending on how spicy you want it!) red chillis, finely sliced
  • * 150g beansprouts
  • * Half a red onion, finely sliced
  • * Coriander to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the grill or griddle pan
  2. Lightly oil and season the chicken breasts and grill for 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, slice on the diagonal and set aside.
  3. Cook the noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until just tender.
  4. Drain, refresh under cold running water and divide between two bowls
  5. Heat the chicken or vegetable stock until boiling
  6. Add the beansprouts for 2-3 minutes until tender and pour the stock and beansprouts into the two bowls.
  7. Top with the sliced chicken, spring onions, chillis, red onion and coriander.
Notes
Adapted from a Wagamama recipe

How super cute is baby Loïs!

This gorgeous newborn photography shoot was taken by Eline Visscher Photography, who has done a brilliant job at capturing such a precious, fleeting stage of life. And, at 3 weeks old, I can’t believe Loïs smiled for the camera too! Clever girl!

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A huge thanks to Eline for sharing these gorgeous photos. Based in the Netherlands, you can follow Eline on facebook and pinterest.

  • Kerrie McGiveronAugust 28, 2014 - 8:54 am

    These photographs are absolutely stunning and really capture everything. Gorgeous xReplyCancel

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Following on from Amy’s brilliant guest post about surviving the first 12 days with a newborn, I’m going to share with you her latest post about the phenomenon that is ‘The Fourth Trimester’.

Over to Amy…

If you’ve no idea what the fourth trimester is, you’re not alone. Three babies in and I’ve only just discovered it. Here’s what new mums need to know and why we should be keeping it front of mind.

‘What, there’s another trimester?’

In case you’re thinking that the fourth trimester is another 12 weeks of pregnancy that no one told you about, relax. It’s not.

Phew.

The fourth trimester is the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life and your new life as a mum. It’s the period in which your baby adjusts to life on the outside and you begin to recover from nine months of pregnancy, the physical trauma of labour whilst coming to terms with the reality (shock) that your life will never be the same again.

It’s a time when you are supposed to mimic your baby’s environment inside the womb, outside. When you are encouraged to nurture your baby as your body did. With feeding, cuddling and soothing, without the fear of instilling bad habits that plagues so many new mums. ’You can’t spoil a newborn.’ Apparently.

It’s a crucial period for you both. So why on earth aren’t we being told about it by medical professionals? Why aren’t we being advised to treat those first three months in the way we treat the rest of pregnancy? Preciously.

Why am I only just finding out about it on my third child?

When society expects too much.

Beyond those first couple of weeks, when you’re being fussed over (hopefully), your partner is on paternity leave (hopefully) and you’re revelling in the gorgeousness of your new baby (hopefully), there aren’t many provisions for a new mum.

All being well, your midwife signs you off at 10 days. Sob. Your other half returns to work. Sob. And you’re left to your own devices. Sob.

New mums are surrounded by so many pressures. The pressure to feel good. To look good. To have a baby who sleeps well. Feeds well. Settles well. And the frantic pace of life means that we almost expect these things to happen overnight. Like everything else in our lives.

Add to this pressure hormonal changes and sleep deprivation and it’s no wonder that so many new mums really struggle in those first few months.

But if we tapped into this fourth trimester lark, it could all be so different, couldn’t it?

Because if someone said to you, ‘For the first three months (at least), you’re going to feel like X and you’re doing to need to do Y,’ you could relax a bit, cut yourself some slack and let yourself off the hook. For the first three months, at least.

And focus on the most important thing of all.

Recovering. And enjoying your baby.

You’ve just had a baby.

It might seem obvious. That after nine months of pregnancy it’s going to take time to heal. That your baby is going to take time to adjust to the outside world.

But for every rational thought like that, there’s an irrational thought to counteract it. From sheer lack of sleep. From another mum whose baby is sleeping through at two weeks. From a book you read. From a well-meaning, passing comment that you look great when actually you feel dreadful.

Anything that undermines you. That lulls you into a false reality.

When the reality is this. You’ve just had a baby.

Slow down.

Remembering there is a fourth trimester reminds us that in the first three months anything goes.

There is no right or wrong. You might feel good one day and rubbish the next. It’s an unpredictable time and all you can do is live in each moment. And it’s perfectly ok if you don’t enjoy every moment.

I wish someone had told me this when I had baby no. 1 and baby no. 2.

I wish someone had told me to stop worrying. To slow down. To put the Gina Ford book away. And stop rushing the whole process.

Because the process is there for a reason.

Hormones and sleep deprivation.

The physical trauma of pregnancy and birth is huge. We conveniently forget this because it’s a ‘natural’ occurrence.

Oestrogen levels play a big part in the way women feel after giving birth. After reaching a peak in the third trimester, in the 24 hours after labour, they drop drastically and return to pre-pregnancy levels.

If you decide to breastfeed, your oestrogen levels remain low (oestrogen inhibits milk production) and you may experience menopause-like symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, joint pain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia.  Yay!

It helps to remember this. That there is an actual reason why you’re waking up stuck to your duvet with a 1980s perm. Why you’re feeling like you’re losing the plot. You’re not. And you won’t be like this forever. That’s reassuring to know, if nothing else.

On top of hormones, you’ll also be feeling sleep deprived. And there is little worse than sleep deprivation, right? It causes brain fog, an inability to concentrate, mood swings and a desire to disembowel your other half. Who’s slept through the nightfeed. Again.

No wonder it’s used as a form of torture.

Feel it, don’t conceal it.

(I know, I’ve been watching too much Frozen. Sob.)

So, what can you do to thrive in the fourth trimester? A lot, actually.

You can lower your expectations. You can accept that you will feel up and down. You can simply allow yourself to feel how you feel in any given moment. There’s no need to pretend otherwise or put on a brave face. The fourth trimester is your friend. It’s there to protect you.

You can keep reminding yourself.

‘I’ve just had a baby. Of course I’m going to feel like this.’

This too shall pass.

Nothing lasts forever. Nothing.

One day soon the tiny little baby you’re holding in your arms will be a feisty toddler or a determined preschooler.

Whilst this thought won’t make you love them any more at 3.00 AM when you’re up doing the dreaded nightfeed, it might just make you cherish the fourth trimester for what it is. A permissible period of time to make the transition to motherhood.

Not to mention 12 weeks of newborn cuddles, eating chocolate cake, wearing big pants and cutting yourself some serious slack.

(Big pants optional.)

A huge thanks to Amy for once again allowing me to share her brilliant way with words. You can follow her and her fabulous musings on motherhood on facebook and twitter.