I am a mum to a one year old.

I am the mum to a one old. How did that happen? Where did that year go? It feels like no time at all and at the same time I can’t remember life with out her. A year ago she crashed into our world, three weeks earlier than we thought, three days of pain and no sleep and then she was there. This tiny beautiful being totally dependent on me.

birthday 2

It’s been a year of learning and I don’t doubt that I’ve got another 20 plus years of learning as she grows and changes and becomes a woman. A woman, my daughter will one day be a woman, that scares me and excites me all in one moment. Who is she going to be? I don’t know.

I do know who she is now. She is gentle and soft with her generously giving kisses and cuddles to all of us (including the dog), she is raucous and joyful, full of laughter and screwed up faces of fun. She is timid and shy, cuddling in after naps and being scared of her Uncles (who wouldn’t be!) yet she is fearless and brave, constantly exploring, throwing her face into the swimming pool, clambering over furniture and climbing the stairs. She is vivid and full of life and has moments of calmness and sadness. She loves people and constantly makes friends with anyone who will smile at her (we may need to have the stranger danger talk!)  Most of all she is loving and she is loved.

birthday girl

This year has been the best year of my life. I am so thankful that I get to be a mum. I hope Evelyn continues to be all these things as she grows up and I am so excited to see exactly who she is going to be.

Evelyn’s birthday cake

It has taken me a long time to decide what cake to make Evelyn for her 1st birthday. I wanted to make something very cool and fun. If you google ‘girls first birthday cake’, you get a whole lot of pink. Pink teddies, Pink number ones, pink dolls. All fine, but not what I wanted, and not really how we’ve treated Evelyn so far. We are totally more about the bright colours.

So I was super excited to find a very bright and funky cake that was still a bit girly with flowers on it. I tweaked the idea a bit and came up with a nice topper idea using some wafer flowers and gauge wire.

This was the end result.

birthday cake

I was pretty pleased, even though the green icing took me about 12 attempts!

Having friends to stay

 

This week we’ve had friends to stay and it has been wonderful. Our friends the Pullingers – Jeff, Alina, and Freya came to stay.  Freya is around 10 months older than Evelyn so it was fun watching them play together and interact. I find it hard to believe that Evelyn will be in the same school year as Freya. Freya just seems so much more advanced than Evelyn.

Jeff and Alina, like us are board game fans and so it’s always fun to hang out with them playing games and having a lot of fun. Evelyn and I got to spend 4 days with Alina and Freya (the men had to go out to work!) We spent one day showing them around town, it was a bit of a reality hit for me, we actually live here, in this beautiful town and we get to show people around.

 

I am not on holiday. This is my life.

Being honest about breastfeeding.

No one really tells you just how hard breastfeeding will be. You can go to courses and classes and chat to people, who will all tell you ‘if you’re doing it right it won’t hurt’ and what an ‘amazing experience’ it can be.  I assume that the only reason people constantly give you positives is because they want you to do it and saying anything negative may put you off.

Well I’m going to tell you, it is so hard. You’re exhausted, your body feels like it’s been hit by a bus, your crying over any tiny little thing and while all that’s happening you have to learn and help teach this tiny little being to feed off you.

When Evelyn was born I had this very unrealistic idea that we’d just take to feeding, it would be beautiful and serene and everything would all be ok. In reality I had a tiny baby squawking at me because she was hungry, I’d try and latch her on, it would hurt, so I’d take her off, Repeat several times over and then I’d finally get her latched on (probably in between the repetition of these two steps I will have burst into tears, handed Evelyn back to Chris declaring I just couldn’t do it and I was a rubbish mother) she’d take two or three gulps and fall asleep. Frustrating.

During the first few days I just didn’t have a clue if what we were doing was right.  Evelyn had to go in to special care, as she got sick, meaning she had to be formula fed in an incubator and my milk took a long time to come in. The hospital thought this meant I had low supply and got us to agree to breastfeed and then give Evelyn a top up of formula. I was devastated I thought I had failed.

We did this breastfeeding and topping up for about 5 weeks, it was hard doing both and we very nearly just stopped breastfeeding and bottle-fed. Until one day I went to a drop in support clinic. I wanted someone to watch me feed Evelyn and tell me if we were doing ok.  I was so scared of going, of being judged, of being told I was doing an even worse job than I already suspected I was doing. I rang Chris from outside the centre, crying, saying I wasn’t going in. I went in, of course.

Embarrassingly as I went to feed Evelyn in front of the midwife, my milk sprayed across the room, she simply laughed and said you do not have low milk supply, just breastfeed your baby. While we were at the clinic I chatted with a peer supporter. This woman was the most instrumental person in me continuing to breastfeed, she basically said after every one of my sentences: ‘you are doing a great job.” It was what I needed to hear.

Back then I used to set myself deadlines, I’ll just get to October and then it’s ok, if I can just get to Christmas, that would be good. Evelyn is now 10 months old we’re still breastfeeding, she’s down to three milk feeds a day and I will genuinely be sad when she drops all her milk feeds.

People don’t lie, it is an amazing experience, it is incredible being that close to your baby and when you get them weighed and they’ve gained 8oz in the last two weeks you’re proud to know that it’s all down to you!  But it is hard, and you’re not failing if you find it hard or even if you give up. Give yourself a break, try again later, talk to somebody.

You are doing a great job.

A weekend where we belonged

What a glorious weekend we’ve just had. The weather has been unbelievable, if dare I say it, a little too hot.

Since we moved to Exeter almost 6 months ago our weekends have been pretty busy with visits from  (and to) friends and family. It seems the combination of living in Devon and having a delightful 10 month old keeps the visitors flowing!

Having visitors and seeing our families is great and really important to us, but it has meant that it’s been hard for us to explore Exeter and the surrounding area and really start to build relationships with new people in Exeter.

However this weekend just gone has been ear marked for a long time for some fun with new friends. Evelyn and I have made friends with a lovely lady called Lucy and her daughter Zoe.  They live just round the corner from us, and since meeting a couple of months ago we not only go to baby groups regularly together but often pop round for tea at each others houses, and go for day trips out together. We haven’t known each other long, but it already feels like Evelyn and Zoe will grow up together as friends, and that I have a life long friend in Lucy.

Lucy offered to show us a lovely walk from Branscombe to Beer, also giving the men in our lives a chance to meet too. As we set off on what was set to be a -30-degree-hottest-day-of-the-year-so-far-day I started to wonder what on earth we were doing especially as I quickly realised the start of the walk was a very steep and very long hill. Once we reached the top though the views were totally worth my puffing and panting!

b-b10

The walk was incredible, amazing views and great company, it was lovely to be able to chat with Lucy and Rob and get to know them more. We stopped in the pretty village of Beer for lunch in a gorgeous pub garden, where the girls charmed the other customers with waves and smiles from their highchairs. The walk back didn’t involve any big hills and an ice cream in Branscombe before the drive home was the perfect ending.

It felt great to spend the day with people that 4 months ago we did not know, who we could spend 4 hours with, and not feel awkward or struggle for conversation. I went to bed on Saturday night very happy with the thought “We have friends in Exeter”

Then Sunday rolled in and our church gathering was a BBQ at our house, another amazingly fun day full of a great bbq,yummy cheesecake (even if I do say so myself!) and lots of fun in the garden with our new paddling pool and inflatable whale the squirts water out the top.  It was great to once again be surrounded by friends, a mixture of new and old.

 

For the first time since we moved to Exeter, it felt like we belonged. It felt like we have a life here, a life that can be full of joy and laughter and friendships.

I hope for many more weekends and days like this across the summer and beyond.

Great Expectations

As a first time mum, I had many thoughts and expectations about conceiving, pregnancy, labour and bringing up my baby, I thought I had it all sussed and knew exactly what I did and didn’t want to happen. I set off on this crazy roller coaster in 2011, my husband and I decided  we would  try for a baby.

I was on the pill so we decided I would stop taking it, give me a month to have a period and then get down to business. I said I was going to be relaxed, it didn’t matter how long it took… Well that’s when my first expectation got blown out of the water, I turned into a crazy woman. I constantly worked out dates, checked cervical mucus and took countless pregnancy tests. I researched positions, ovulation symptoms and don’t even ask me what happened to me during the dreaded two week wait, crazy was not the word.

This continued for 9 months until the 2nd January 2012 when we found out I was pregnant.  I spent my pregnancy researching, going to NCT classes, planning and being excited.

My birth plan was straightforward, natural birth, gas and air in the Midwife led unit at my local hospital, preferably in the water pool.

Yeah right! My labour started 3 weeks early. My waters broke without me having any contractions, I was sent home to see if I would go into labour on my own. I did and ended up in the midwife led unit. I constantly threw up and was transferred to the delivery suite as I was so dehydrated and needed a drip.Twenty seven hours of labour down and I was stuck at 5cm dilated (I really thought I would kill my midwife if she said 5cm dilated one more time!) I was given a hormone drip to increase the contractions and advised to have an epidural. ‘No way’ was my response; I was not having an epidural.

The hormone drip made my contractions so strong and after 28 hours of labour there was no chance I could go on without an epidural, so I gave in. It was bliss.

After 35 hours and 14 minutes of labour Evelyn Grace arrived. What a beauty! Evelyn

She is just perfect but how my expectations have changed, when planning during those 9 months that she grew in me I said I would never give her formula, nor a dummy, I would be in a strict routine by 4 weeks and there was no chance I would ever be hippy enough to use a sling or cloth nappies (dealing with all that poo, no thanks!)

Needless to say just like all my other plans these have changed. After being admitted to NICU at 5 days old with jaundice, we were advised to top up with formula, this broke my heart, but at the time was the best for her, we did this for 5 weeks and then after getting checked out decided we could just breastfeed, but I wasn’t adverse to Chris feeding Evelyn a bottle of formula every now and again so I could get some kip.

The routine idea went completely out the window, I’m just pleased to get dressed and out the house for a bit each day. We introduced a dummy to help occasionally settle Evelyn so my nipples didn’t get used as a gobstopper. We own both a stretchy wrap (which E is now too big for) and a full buckle carrier and after realising just how expensive disposable nappies are, I’ve invested in a stash of cloth and am absolutely addicted already, cute girly patterns on nappies, YES PLEASE!

So it seems that with all the best planning and researching in the world, motherhood really will take you by surprise, turn your world upside down and yet still be the most amazing thing you will ever experience.

I’m a blog starter, a serial blog starter.

I start blogs and then seem to forget about them. I think I’ve worked out the problem. I normally start blogs that are about a specific thing like a big move, losing weight, Evelyn starting to eat solid foods.  The problem with blogging about specific things is that I stop doing them, or they become old, boring or normal, and so I stop.

I love writing though and it seems a shame that I don’t have a space to do that. So here I am starting a new blog (yes another one) that isn’t about a specific thing other than my life.  I’ve called it “baking mum’ because mostly I think I will be blogging about my love of baking and my parenting journey, but I’m not limiting it to that. It will also be about my life, my interests and my loves.

So Hi! I’m Steph a mum of one (Evelyn, 10 months old) who loves baking, has a marvellous husband called Chris, owner of a gorgeous Springer spaniel called Freddie. I moved to Exeter 5 months ago to plant a church with a group of friends, because that’s what I believe God wanted me to do.  Crazy eh?!