Friday, 14 August 2015

Happy Birthday, Sweetling.

I wasn't expecting you.
I knew you were coming, of course.
But I didn't know your arrival would bring tears,
Tears that ran down my cheeks and gently wet your newborn skin as the midwives bustled around us.
When my boy held so much much of my heart, I wasn't expecting to have enough love left,
Not just to love you,
But to love you so much, and so differently, that my heart hurts.
I wasn't expecting you to be so different, sweetling,
And for those differences to make my breath catch.
Your brother made the sun shine on cloudy days,
And you have brought the rainbow.
When you crawl to me and lay your sweet head on my lap,
I wish that I could put those moments in boxes,
And open them one day,
That I may never forget how you were in that moment...for 100,000 photographs are never enough.
We have had a rollercoaster year, you and I,
You have learnt to crawl and point and clap your hands and say "That!"
I have learnt that some days I don't have the patience for two, and that some days that's ok.
We've had worry and poorly nights and hospital visits and the best first family holiday we could wish for.
I wish you a very happy first birthday, sweetling.
May every year be so bright.
I wish you love, happiness and adventure in equal measure,
And maybe, just a smidgeon, of sleep.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Wear all the babies

I'm not what you would call a crunchy mama. I did dabble in cloth nappies for a while. But homebirthing, homeschooling, elimination communication...I admire those mamas, but I'm not that mama.

I am the mama who occasionally resorts to junk food because I ran out of time and the cupboards are empty. I am the mama who thanks the CBeebies gods for delivering entertainment when I need to cook dinner and my children are not cooperating. I am the mama who bribed her son to potty train.

But I am also the mama who babywears.

When my son was born, I carried him for a short time with a stretchy wrap. When he outgrew the wrap, he went in the pushchair and seemed content. Using a pushchair seemed to be the norm and it didn't occur to me to do anything different.

And then my daughter came along. She didn't like the pushchair, she wanted to be held. Not only that but my son was going through the wonderful stage of running away from me in public places. The few times that happened when I was using a pushchair, I had the heart stopping decision of whether to stay with my baby or run after my toddler. That's not a feeling I want to repeat.

It seemed only natural then to keep my daughter in a sling. It started with the stretchy wrap and then I moved on to soft-structured carriers (SSCs). Lately, to the dismay of my husband(!), I've also been trying out woven wraps and I'm discovering even more sides of baby wearing.

My daughter is now 9 months old. I still carry her almost every day and I can see that changing for a long time. While I started baby-wearing out of necessity, now it's something I wouldn't change. I love that my daughter is at the same level as me. I see the world with her eyes and tell her about it as we walk. I can nip to the shops in my town without having to negotiate endless sets of steps with a buggy. I have two hands free to play with my son and keep him safe. It keeps me fit. And when she's tired, my daughter snuggles in to fall as asleep just as she did on her first day in the world 9 months ago.

I'd love to hear what your favourite slings and wraps are!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Being My Child's Voice

I hastily refastened the poppers on my daughter's sleepsuit and scooped her up off the bed before sinking into a chair in front of the doctor. He was looking at me with a solemn expression, a mixture of apology and uncertainty in his eyes as he said those words that every parent dreads to hear, "I think she needs to go in". I didn't need to ask where. She had a rocketing temperature, a racing pulse and couldn't keep antibiotics or antipyretics down. We both knew she needed a little help.

The next 7 hours at the hospital, before the doctors finally let my daughter fall into an uneasy slumber around 2am, were a haze of obs, rehydration fluids, tests and examinations. She was being treated for a suspected kidney infection, dehydration and fever.
I confess that there was a really low point in there around 1am. I'd been standing at my daughter's bedside for more than 2.5hrs trying to catch a urine sample. Every 10 minutes I had to feed her an electrolyte solution. She would nearly doze off in between doses before she was jolted awake again. It was day 5 of her illness and both of us were exhausted. I asked the doctors to use a catheter to get a sample and they refused, saying it was too invasive. It left me in tears. Surely after that amount of time, the ends justified the means? She clearly needed to start treatment and, right then, she desperately needed to be able to sleep. I found myself flashing back to the day after my son was born when he was readmitted for low blood sugar. The doctors had instructed a nurse to put a tube into his stomach to force feed him when he refused milk only 1hr after taking 3ozs. I remembered how helpless I had felt then, how I was so angry with myself because my instincts had screamed that this was all wrong and yet I had blindly trusted. It was that memory that made me request the catheter and that memory that brought tears when they refused. After 3 yrs I was here again and still failing to be the advocate my child needed. I did the only thing I could do. I brushed the hair from my daughter's tired eyes and promised that we'd make her better soon.

Nearly a day later things were looking up. My daughter's temperature was under control and, despite some vomiting, she'd kept down most of her medication so they discharged her with instructions to call if the fever didn't subside. I'm hopeful that we're nearing the end of this bump in the road. She's more perky today, despite looking exhausted.

I wanted to write this because, probably more than any other challenge in our role as parents, being our child's voice is hard. Really hard. It's impossible to know whether you're making the right choices, fighting the right battles, particularly when those battles question medical advice.

All I wanted to say is...listen to those around you, research, form opinions and, more than anything else, trust your gut. You're a good parent and you know your child and their cues better than anyone. Believe in that.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Counting my blessings

I'm probably not alone in saying that I didn't really enjoy school. Although I have a few treasured school friends who I'm still in touch with, I spent a lot of my school life feeling like people didn't like me. And the problem is, feelings like that stick. There are still times when I fret about it. But anyway, this post isn't a pity party, I just wanted to say that I've never felt like I make friends easily.

I suppose that fact makes me more surprised and amazed and grateful for what I have now. After two pregnancies and umpteen months of maternity leave I am lucky enough to have a really, really amazing group of people that I can call friends.

So, this post, in the Christmas spirit is a thank you.

It's a thank you to the girls from my very first antenatal group for keeping in touch and giving me a lifeline in those first shaky days of parenthood. I met some fellow fabric addicts and I've never looked back.
It's a thank you to the girls from my first baby massage group for every walk in the woods, every cup of coffee, every shared birthday party, babysitting swap and girls night out. You have all been my rocks and I really feel like I couldn't have done this without you.
It's a thank you to the girls from my second antenatal group who are sharing in my newest journey and making it so much more colourful and enjoyable. We were a big group and I didn't know if that would work but it really has.
It's a thank you to the friend I randomly met in the park a day after my Littlest Monster was born, the friend I made when I picked up some baby clothes one day and the friends I've inherited from other other antenatal groups who have invited me into their lives without question.

And to make this post complete, I need to thank my husband who puts up with his hormonal nightmare of a wife and who is a pretty awesome dad to these two monkeys:

Merry Christmas all. I hope the new year brings love, laughter and, for the Antenatal Class of 2014, a full night of uninterrupted sleep. xxx

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Things I Wish You Understood

My darling boy.

I wish you understood now how your hurts hurt me. How I feel every bump to your head and scrape to your knee. How I would gladly swap places with you when you're ill to save myself the pain of watching you suffer.

I wish you understood that making you smile and laugh lights up my world. That I would give you everything you wanted if it wasn't for knowing that it's my job to teach you the value of earning it for yourself.

I wish you understood that, far from wanting to control you, my heart swells with pride at each step you take towards your independence. But I also know that some things are more important than your feeling of independence right now. Things like cleaning your teeth and eating a balanced diet and keeping you safe.

I don't want to fight with you, my baby. I wish every day could be full of love and laughs and new experiences and I'll do everything I can to make it that way. But I owe it to you to give you the best start, to show you how to be the best that you can be. I owe it to you to be able to say no.

Monday, 1 September 2014


Today is a teary day. It's a day when the newest Little Miss won't sleep. A day when Little Monster is clingy and whiny and doing everything he can to push my buttons. A day when my morning coffee eluded me and Little Monster getting hurt while I was breastfeeding gave me a good dose of second child guilt.

I knew the tears would come. I knew that there would be days where I felt I couldn't face the world and that I would never know a good nights sleep or a moment of sanity again.

But I also know that tomorrow will probably be better. Tonight might be the night where Little Miss settles happily after a bottle or where she gives me a stretch of 4 hrs sleep to make me feel new again. Tomorrow might be full of happy moments and laughs.

Having a 2.5 yr old Little Monster has given me the perspective, the living proof, that this phase will pass quickly. I know that Little Miss won't nap solely on me forever. I know that she'll gain weight and stretch out her night sleep and figure out how to self settle. I know that I'll be able to regain some time to focus on Little Monster and the guilt will subside.

So, for today, to make it through today, I just need to find some smiles. And with a 2.5 yr old on tap, those smiles are probably hidden somewhere I'm not expecting, waiting to spring out at me.

Maybe I'll try to tease them out with some tickles. X

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Getting carried away :)

Since we'll soon be welcoming another bundle into our beautiful family, I decided that I needed, I mean really needed, to get another baby carrier. Not that I don't love my Close Parent carrier which is great for the newborn stage and our Little Life backpack carrier which is awesome for longer walks...but something was definitely missing from my collection - a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC). A friend introduced me to her Boba Carrier at some point during my first year with Little Monster and I love how versatile they are - lightweight and easy to take with you, good for back wearing and front wearing and actually quite a lot easier to use than a sling.

So I started to investigate costs and whatnot and fairly quickly concluded that I couldn't justify the £90+ price tag for a soft structured carrier in the UK. Instead I discovered the awesome SweetPod Baby Carrier pattern by Seedpod and decided to have a go...

1. Sourcing supplies in the UK
The incredibly talented designer of the Sweetpod, Jessica Croker, is based in the US and unfortunately for us in the UK, the supplies required are a bit harder and more expensive to source so I've compiled a list of the stuff you need, where I got it from and how much I paid. Hopefully this helps someone out there!


  • 1/3 yd. home decorator print fabric (for main body decorative panel) (You’ll need 5/8 yd if your fabric has a directional print.)
    • If you make curtains or cushions, the chances are you have a big enough offcut knocking around. You actually only need one panel 9" wide by 19" long.
  • 1 yd. 60” wide heavy weight solid fabric in a coordinating color (7-10 oz. denim, canvas, or twill)
    • I decided I wanted black canvas (aka duck cloth) for the main fabric of my carrier. I found this incredibly hard to find in the UK. A lot of suppliers sell white canvas but not dyed. I eventually sourced it from Calico Laine for a fairly reasonable £6.99 per metre.
  • 1 yd. 42-45” wide quilter’s weight solid fabric in a coordinating color (for lining and sleeping hood)
    • I used 1m of Moda Bella Solids in Dark Teal from Fabritastic which was also £7/m
  • 18” x 20” piece of cotton batting (Warm & Natural)
    • I already had an offcut of cotton batting so I didn't have to purchase this but the best prices I found were on eBay. Unfortunately the smallest size I could find was a cot quilt piece which makes it quite expensive. If you have a local haberdashery, that try that first as they may be able to sell you a smaller quantity off the roll.


  • 4 yds. 1” wide nylon webbing
  • 1 yd. 2” wide nylon webbing
    • I found nylon webbing really hard to source in the UK. I found it on eBay but the prices were going to be pretty high so in the end I bought polypropylene webbing from the haberdashery stall on my local market. I bought both the 1" and 2" webbing for a total of £4. 


  • 6” x 24” piece of 1/2” thick high density closed cell foam for hip belt (this foam should feel stiff)
    • Sourced from Easy Foam in a custom cut size for £8.70.
  • 12” x 24”piece of 1/2” thick high density open cell foam for shoulder pads (this foam should be squishy)
    • Bought from my local market in a custom size for £1.11. After cutting what I needed I realised I could have purchased just 10" x 17" since I had quite a bit leftover.


  • 2 heavy duty 1” side release buckles
  • 1 streamline 1” side release buckle
    • I decided to just buy 3 identical 1" side release buckles. Purchased a quantity of 6 from eBay for £1.72.
  • 1 2” side release dual adjust buckle
    • Purchased a pack of 2 from eBay for £2.50.
  • 2 sternum strap adjusters with 1” slides and 1” loops
    • I couldn't find anywhere in the UK that stocks these, including online retailers who specifically sell gear for making outdoor equipment. These bits are to fix the chest strap onto the shoulder straps and allow you to move the chest strap up and down. Since I'll be the only person using the carrier, I decided to go without this and I just sewed the chest strap into the position I wanted it on the shoulder straps instead of having it be adjustable.
  • 2 heavy duty ladder lock buckles
    • Purchased a pack of 10 from eBay for £1.08.


  • 16” 1/4” elastic
    • I used some 5mm elastic that I already had. Readily available from your local market or John Lewis for around £1 or less, depending on the length you buy.
  • 7-9” invisible zipper
    • Based on the instructions which say to trim the zip to 7.5", I went for an 8" zip. Again, purchased from my local market for £1.
  • 10 snaps (size 16 or 20 will work)
    • I bought 11mm snaps (poppers) in a pack of 12 from eBay for £3.49.
  • • high quality polyester thread (I like Gutterman polyester thread.)
    • Readily available from the market or John Lewis or online for about £1.

Based on the above and including the cost of purchasing the Combined Sweetpod Carrier and Saddlebag pattern, I spent just under £55 on materials. Although this is still fairly expensive, it's a considerable saving on buying a new carrier!

2. A few notes on making the carrier
For the most part I didn't deviate from the instructions which are very thorough. One which I've already mentioned was the chest straps since I didn't purchase strap adjusters. These are my straps - at the moment they slide up and down because I haven't been able to properly fit the carrier (since I'm still pregnant!). Once I've fitted it and determined where they need to be, I'll fix them in position.

The other area where I deviated slightly was the sleeping hood and the sleeping hood pocket. The zip for the sleeping hood pocket is supposed to attach onto the decorative panel without the ends of the zip spilling over onto the canvas (you'll see what I mean when you get there). I think I must have gone slightly wrong on my seam allowances or my cutting but I ended up needing to put in a 7" zip, instead of 7.5". That caused a knock on issue where the hood would always have been rucked when it was pulled out of the pocket since it was designed to pull out of a 7.5" space. I got around the issue after I had made up the hood by putting a couple of small pleats in the hood before attaching it to the inside of the pocket. This makes the neck of the hood just a smidgen smaller so that it fits better as shown here:

And here is the finished article! I'm really excited to try this - now all I need is a 15lb baby. Oh, and to not be pregnant anymore :)

I'd love to hear if any of you have done or are planning to do this project. Happy sewing :)