Saturday, 16 September 2017

Dot's labour story

My labour story banner

After trying everything we could to start labour naturally, I was booked for induction on Wednesday 17th August. I was desperately hoping to avoid being induced this time, as induction with Squidge was really horrendous and long. I was also nervous as just 2 days later, 19th August, is the anniversary of my mum passing away, not something I want to think about on his birthday each year.

I went to the induction ward and was briefly offered the bed I'd been in when induced with Squdige, but were quickly moved to a different bed. The whole ward was different this time, much quieter and calmer, we seemed to be getting off on the right foot.

After monitoring me and doing all my base stats and confirming I was still 2cm dilated, I was given the first pessary about 1:15pm on the Wednesday. Contractions started up pretty quickly (I'd been having them off and on for about a week anyway). Hours went by and hubby started feeling ill, like he was coming down with a cold, and started resting up on the recliner.

Dot's first pictures

Then hours later, thing started to feel a bit weird. Contractions were stronger, and I was starting to shake. I called the midwife in who suggested waiting for a while and having some paracetamol, but I asked to go on the monitor straight away as things didn't feel right. After a few mins of being on, we kept losing the baby's heartbeat, so I called her back and she could see it wasn't right. When the heartbeat came back, it was low (about 90bpm instead of around 150). She quickly whipped out the pessary and rushed me up to the delivery suite. This was pretty surreal, it was like something out of a movie, I'm there, lying in the bed, my whole body shaking pretty hard (shock and adrenaline) and I see lights flashing by as they whizz me down the corridor.

In the delivery suite they whip me up to the monitoring, and confirm all is well with the baby. They think he may have grabbed the umbilical cord and squeezed, which affected his heart rate. Very scary - I could see they were getting read to give me a c-section and get the baby out fast. But luckily all was well. After about an hour, they put a new pessary in to progress things. 12 hrs later, still having contractions, I was still only 2cms.

We had 2 options - if they could reach my waters, they could break them, or they could give me the pessary gel and I go back down to the induction ward. I opt for them breaking my waters - luckily they could, but oh my gosh, that was painful!

We're told to walk around the hospital for 2 hrs to try and get things progressing - bear in mind, at this point it's 1am. Hubby is feeling awful, so I spend the 2nd hour walking around by myself while he tries to nap. At 4am I'm back on the monitor and it's now Thursday. All is well, so they put me on the drip to try and force things along as they'd broken my waters. As is the way with the drip, the contractions were really strong, but Dot was coping really well. I was struggling with the pain and the gas & air wasn't helping much, so I ask for an epidural.  This was tricky, it took the anaesthetist 3 attempts with the needle to get it i the right place, he kept hitting bone (vertebrae) with the needle - that was a horrid sensation! 

Dot, just a few hours old

Hours pass and it's about midday. I'm examined and I'm 6cms, I was gutted! My midwife goes off to make a call, as I still have a way to go. About 5 mins later, I feel like I need to push! I push the button to call the midwife back and tell her I need to push. She examines me and yep, I'm 10 cms! I've gone from 6-10 in just a few mins! But as I have an epidural, I have to wait an hour before they'll let me push.

An hour later and I start pushing. Not much progress, but the midwife informs me he is coming forwards down the birth canal. All together I'm pushing for about an hour and a quarter I think (it was definitely over an hour) and it's just the 3 of us in the room (me, her and hubby, who by the way is feeling super ill and is mostly in the chair as he's feeling feint with the nasty cold he has). The midwife takes off the apron and gloves and goes to write some things down, with that I shout out that the baby is making his way out, she runs back and there's his head! I pretty much didn't have to push, my body did the work and out he came in 2 contractions with a super duper thick umbilical cord!

Sadly I didn't get to do the delayed clamping of the cord as he didn't cry enough and needed suction, so she had to whisk him away, but he was back in my arms in no time. I only lost a tiny bit of blood, 200 ml I think it said in my notes. But I did tear, a pretty big tear too - 2nd degree... they were stitching me up for quite a long time (close to an hour I think).

So there you have it, all in all a much better experience than with Squidge, much shorter, and much less dramatic (when Squidge was born there was about 20 people in the room! You can read his birth story here), and not born on the 19th Aug, thankfully :) 

Mum with me, and me with Dot <3 
Mum with me as a baby, and me with Dot
For what it's worth, the next day I came down with that nasty cold too - and to this day we're still battling it!!!
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Friday, 15 September 2017

Introducing Dot

Dot newborn photography banner

Well, this post has been a long time in the making. Dot (as he'll be known online) arrived on the 18th August 2017 at 2:45 pm, weighing a whopping 8lb 10.5oz. This is pretty much the first opportunity I've had to get on my laptop, not even kidding! Today, he's 4 weeks old, and identical to his big brother as a baby :)

I don't even know where to begin! Becoming a mum of two has certainly been challenging, but so incredibly wonderful. I'm managing to successfully breastfeed (something I didn't manage with Squidge, which I feel more guilty for than ever) which is fantastic, I'll write a separate post on our journey with that.

Dot newborn photo in fox hat

He's really thriving too. After he was born, about 3 days after I think, his weight dropped to 8lb 4oz, and about 4 days after that he'd increased to 8lb 5oz after days of cluster feeding. They re-weighed him a week later, and boom, he'd gone up to 9lb 6oz, a gain of over 1lb in a week! He hasn't been weighed since that, but I'm convinced he's over 10lb now already! He's a really long baby too, 92nd percentile I think for height (just like his big brother), taking after his tall Dad.

In preparation for his arrival, I'd bought a range of vest and babygrows. Sillily, I'd thought he might be small as his big brother was when he was born (6lb 9oz), so I'd bought lots of newborn sized clothes, but alas, most of them didn't fit him! He's already in size 0-3 months, and they're not massive on him. He's also going to be growing out of his moses basket soon, which is insane, he's only 4 weeks old!

Dot newborn photo with pixie hat

I also can't believe how much he can do already. He's holding his head up pretty well, and has already (I can't believe I'm actually writing this) rolled onto his side and back a few times, OMG!

He's just so perfect, and so different from his big brother. Squidge was quiet in my tummy, and cried a lot as a baby (part of this I think was being formula fed, so when he was hungry he'd be waiting a good 15 mins for a bottle), Squidge loved the car seat and being in the car too. But Dot... constantly wriggled in my tummy, doesn't cry much at all, hates the car seat and hates the car! Dot's happiest place is lying on his tummy on my chest, he could spend all day there, and I love it :)

Dot newborn photo with wolf hat

I'm going to write up my labour story separately and publish that hopefully in the next couple days if I can, before I forget it all! I mentioned that he's identical to his big brother, well I'm not exaggerating - I feel like I've had twins, 3 years apart - just look at some of Squidge's newborn pics to compare!

Squidge newborn pics

Anyway, that's enough for now, I just wanted to welcome him to the blog and introduce him :D
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*Photo credits to Cross-Jones Photography - taken during a newborn photoshoot we paid for
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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A letter to Squidge

Squidge at Tredegar House on his 2nd birthday

I'm sitting here in the lounge, sewing in the ends of a crochet blanket I've made for you to keep at Nanny & Grandad's. Tomorrow marks a new chapter in all our lives, I'm going to hospital to be induced to have your little brother (unless he arrives before then!). He might not arrive for a couple days, but tonight marks the last night we'll spend in this house as a family of three, and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by that.

Squidge sleeping in his cot

A little shy of 3 years ago, on the 6th October, you arrived in our lives. This beautiful little boy. We couldn't possibly prepare ourselves for how much love we'd feel for you. You became our everything, and still are. You're the reason we go to work, the reason we try to be better all the time, it's all for you and it's about to be all for you and your little brother.

Squidge blowing bubbles

We've spent many, many sleepless nights looking after you, and I'm sure we'll continue to, especially after your little brother arrives, as I have no doubt his night-time cries will wake you up. I've absolutely loved the last 3 years of having you in our lives, I have no regrets other than wishing we'd had you earlier, so you could have been in our lives for longer.

Squidge eating his breakfast

We've shared so many precious moments together, pure fits of giggles, cuddles, comfort when you're upset, comfort when I've been upset, cuddles & cwtches, tickles and many many snuggles. That's not going to change :)

Squidge with Grandad Roddy

Daddy and I are so proud of you, so proud of every little achievement you do, of what a lovely little boy you are. I'll always have a special place in my heart for you. But things are about to change, I'm going to need to spend a lot of time with your little brother while he's so small and new and I already feel guilty about that, I hope as you grow older you understand and I hope by having your little brother, we're giving you a best friend for life.

Squidge sleeping

We love you more than you could ever know, and we can't wait to see you grow to be a big brother. Your little brother is going to love you so much, and I can't wait to share our journey together on here.
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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Pregnancy roundup | Weeks 36-40

40 week bump pic

Well, here we are. I'm 40 weeks pregnant! Not something I reached with Squidge, by this point he was a week old after being induced. Earlier on in the pregnancy I was convinced I'd go early, but alas we're sat here and Dot is still snuggled up in my belly.

Getting about

I'm definitely finding things more difficult, there's a lot of low pressure and pain, so walking isn't easy. Today (yesterday by the time you read this) I walked down to the salon to get my nails done all ready for Dot's arrival, and the walk there and back was tough, it's only 10-15 mins, but at full term it's taking it's toll.

Appetite

Homemade chinese noodles

Throughout the pregnancy I've had no appetite at all really. A couple mouthfuls of my dinner and I'd be done. But in the last 3ish weeks, my appetite has returned and the nausea that's plagued the whole pregnancy seems to have gone, yay! The biggest annoyance is that if I eat a decent meal at night, I'll be up all night with acid reflux, so I'm learning to be careful with the evenings! 

Weight gain?

At last check I'd only gained about 8lbs so far this pregnancy, so the baby/amniotic fluid/placenta/extra blood etc will all account for that, so looks like I've stayed neutral, which is great.

Hospital visits?

We've had another one! I went for a midwife appointment last Friday (I was 39 weeks + 2 days) to have a planned sweep (consultant requested). The midwife wasn't happy with my blood pressure, a bit high. Nothing crazy, but highest it's been this pregnancy (138/90). I had trace protein in my wee (nothing unusual there) but when she asked if I'd had headaches, I said yes. Then she asked if I'd seen any floaters in my eyes, and I said yes, I hadn't put it all together, but I'd had them a couple times. She was worried I was developing pre-eclampsia, so called the hospital and had me go in.

Luckily Squidge was in nursery, so childcare was taken care of. I spent about 6 hrs there all together Had bloods done, had my sweep, went on the monitor for ages and had everything re-checked. Everything was absolutely fine and normal, so I got to go home and not be induced, yay!

However, I'm now on day 2 of a headache... it's much milder today, but I'm keeping an eye in case I need to call them up about it. I'm also anaemic, so I've started iron tablets as of a week ago, I won't go into the horrible side effects they give as it's pretty gross, but they're hopefully doing the job, as once Dot arrives, I'll be even more anaemic. The issue with anaemia is you're prone to bleeding, so they wanted to get a handle on it before the baby arrives.

Induction?

Induction is already booked for next Weds when I reach 41 weeks pregnant. I'm desperately hoping to avoid that, I really want to go naturally. My experience of being induced before was awful and if I can avoid it, I don't want to go through that again (if you want to read my birth story, it's here). So pleased keep everything crossed for me going into labour naturally! I'll keep drinking the raspberry leaf tea :) Maybe I should get a spicy curry too :) 
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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Life after dummies

Squidge with a dummy and sleeping without one

On the 1st July this year, the dummy fairy visited Squidge. We'd been telling him that the time was coming for a while, and explained just what the dummy fairy was. She's this little fairy, just in case you didn't know, who comes and picks up all the dummies from a bag you leave on your bedroom door, and gives them to little babies who need them. If you're good, she might leave you a little present to say thank you.

Well, this happened a little over a month ago.  For a bit of background, if you'd read my previous blog at all (www.mummy-pixie.blogspot.co.uk) then you might realise I was quite anti-dummies. We'd been given a set when Squidge was born, and I was open-minded that we might need to use them at some stage. Well, when he was 9 weeks old, he just couldn't settle, we tried everything. He wasn't breastfed (we tried and tried, he just couldn't do it) so in desperation we tried a dummy, and it worked! However, it did bring it's own host of problems, like him waking up in the night crying for his dummy when it had fallen out (even as recently as 2 months ago at the grand age of 29 months!).

So as far as Squidge was concerned, he'd never really slept without dummies. He got a lot of comfort from them and would ask for them when he was sad, or hurt as well as tired.

We knew the dummy fairy wasn't going to be easy.  

I was in town on the day we'd planned it, so I popped to the Disney store to buy some special presents, I wanted to get him a teddy he could get comfort from in lieu of the dummy. So for our house I bought him a big Mickey Mouse (for his bed), a small Donald Duck (for the car) and a little toy London Bus, just because.

For his grandparents house I bought him a largeish baby Dory for his bed, a small Mickey Mouse for the car, and a black London cab for the toy.

When I came home, I gave him a special Disney bag to collect all his dummies into, we even went out to the car to get the ones that were in there and when he went to bed, he hung the bag on the back of his door. He was amazing about it! He went to sleep absolutely fine - we were expecting 2+ hrs of screaming for dummies, but it didn't happen.  In fact, since that night, he's never asked for a dummy.

When he woke up in the morning, it was early... 5:30. I guess that's what happens when you don't have a dummy to soothe you back to sleep. We checked the bag and he saw the presents, and a thank you note, he was amazed! He loved the presents and wanted to play with them straight away :) 

It's a month later now, he doesn't really play or cuddle with the toys. Instead he's become more clingy with an older teddy that he's had for nearly 2 years, a little lamb from Waitrose (Easter collection) called Baa Baa. He adores Baa Baa, it's the cutest thing seeing him cwtch it right up :) 

He's been an absolute angel in the car too without them, and happily sits there. He definitely chats away more now too :) 

The biggest issue we've had, is him learning to go to sleep at night without them, he doesn't generally fall asleep anywhere near as quickly now. We're back to bed time taking a good hour or so for him to get to sleep. And, the bigger issue - he's dropped his day naps. Unless you're out driving and he's proper shattered, he won't nap in the day at all, so he gets pretty grouchy and screamy in the afternoons as he's so tired. But it's a small price to pay.

I have so much admiration for him in how grown up he's been about it, and how well he's accepted and dealt with it. He's just taken it in his stride and accepted it. Daddy and I have a bit of guilt about the whole 'dummy fairy' story, the fact that it's all a lie, but we also know it helped him accept losing his dummies. I just hope when he's older and finds out the truth he doesn't hate us too much for it.
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Thursday, 3 August 2017

What's in the baby's hospital bag

Baby change bag

I've been meaning to write this post for a little while, but in all honesty, at 39 weeks pregnant (as of yesterday, whoop!) only now is his bag complete... leaving it late, I know!

This is going to be a pretty picture heavy post, I'm going to try and group things together as best I can so it's a bit easier to read :) 

Baby's bottom

Pampers newborn nappies, Asda Little Angels wipes and nappy bags

Sudocrem for sore bottoms

As you might expect, there's a bunch of nappies - this time we're going straight for Pampers. With Squidge we rocked Aldi's nappies for the first few months, but as he grew we found he was leaking all the time and switched to pampers - they were so much softer too. To go with them we have Asda's Little Angels nappy bags and wipes (I love these wipes, they're great quality and love that they come with a lid). No 'bottom care' would also be complete without a tube or tub of Sudocrem* - something we still use regularly with Squidge, we call it magic cream :)

Blankets & teddy's

Cover blanket from mothercare

Crocheted 12 pointed star blanket

Jellycat teddy and a crocheted octopus

As much as I've crocheted a lot of blankets for Dot, I'm only taking one to the hospital with me, it's a 12-pointed star blanket I made. I'm also taking a bigger blanket to put over us if and when I manage to breastfeed. I'm keeping everything crossed that we'll be able to this time, I'm determined!

The top blanket I bought from Mothercare, it's mint coloured on the one side, and grey on the other. The teddy's on the other hand, one (the octopus) I crocheted for him a few months ago, and the bunny is his first Jellycat :) I bought Squidge quite a few Jellycat toys before he was born, so had to get one for Dot too.

Clothing 

Baby clothes
Little Bird muslins

Ok muslins aren't technically clothing, but I thought I'd put them here anyway :) I love these, I love how colourful they are - that's something I'm doing differently this time, opting for really colourful muslins. These ones are from Mothercare from the Jools Oliver Little Bird range (one of my favourite baby clothing ranges).

The sleepsuits, awwww. I've packed 5 sets. Each sleepsuit has folded inside it a vest, and 3 of them (the 3 on the right) also have a baby hat folded inside. There's actually an order to these. The one on the far right will be the first set he wears - it was the first baby clothing I bought him, and it's from Boots. And the one on the far left is the one I want to bring him home in, it was my favourite babygrow/sleepsuit Squidge used to wear, I can't wait to give Dot lots of cuddles in it :)

Other bits and bobs (some of these should probably be in my bag, I might switch them over!)

Cord tie - totoro

Lansinoh nipple cream

Lansinoh nursing pads

I've also ordered a totoro cord tie to use this time instead of the plastic clamp - from everything I've read, they should help the cord dry out faster (typically 3-5 days) and are more comfortable for both mother and baby, especially when it comes to breastfeeding.

I've also got some Lansinoh* nipple cream - I've already been having some sore nipples and the baby isn't even born yet, so I'm hoping this will really help once he's here. They've also sent me some little packs of nursing pads, which is great, I remember I leaked a lot with Squidge, so these will be very handy!

And that's it! That's all that's in the bag, I say *all*, I couldn't fit anything else in if I tried! I might also do a post of what's in my bag, but I'm not sure that'll be as interesting, so maybe let me know in the comments if you'd like to see that :)
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*Post contains some PR samples
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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pregnancy roundup | Weeks 32-36

Pregnancy update banner

First off, sorry it's been a while since my last update, life has been busy, and eventful! As I'm writing this, I'm actually 1 day off being 39 weeks pregnant, so hopefully they next update will be on time and soon.

Big things have happened!

Since the last update, I've officially gone on maternity leave, I went off at 34 weeks - although, technically I'm still on annual leave, until tomorrow that is, then my maternity leave officially starts. At 35/36 weeks pregnant, I also spent a couple days in hospital on a drip for being dehydrated... more on that in a bit. We've come pretty close to being ready for the baby, only to feel like I'm totally unprepared again, more on that later too!

Maternity leave

We have a new routine, and it's pretty great! Squidge used to go to Nanny & Grandad's Mon-Thurs for the days I worked. Now I'm on leave, he's with me on Monday, Nanny & Grandad on Tues & Weds, me again on Thursday and then a full day in Nursery on a Friday. So far, I've spent almost all my Tues, Weds & Friday's busy with clinic appointments, nail appointments and other appointments. Today is (I think) the first day I've been able to stay at home, not get up early (which is a blessing in disguise as I was up with Squidge a lot last night!) and do what I like, it's great!

I'm planning on taking the full 9 months, but we'll have to see how we do financially, I may have to go back sooner if things are too tight.

Hospital stay
Pictures from my hospital stay

So, scroll back about 2-3 weeks. It's a Friday, I drop Squidge at nursery - one of the staff are delayed in taking him as she's cleaning up some sick. I think nothing of it. In the afternoon I get a call from nursery to say Squidge has been sick. Not alarming to most people, but this was the first time he's thrown up where there hasn't been a reason (like drinking too much too quickly etc). He comes home happy as larry, and when he goes to bed, he's sick again. Thankfully that was the last of it. The next day Daddy and I are off out on our last date night of the year and before the baby comes. We head into town to a lovely Italian restaurant.

We have a lovely meal, and head home about 11pm. I have a bad night, I'm kept awake with some awful heartburn and acid reflux. At about 4:30am hubby wakes up and hears me propped up and breathing heavily, he asks if he can get me anything. I say maybe a glass of water, and almost as a joke I say 'and maybe a sick bucket', quite tongue in cheek.

He pops downstairs (bear in mind, we're staying with our in-laws who are looking after Squidge) and gets me a glass of water. While he's there, I get that dreaded hot saliva in my mouth, I'm surrounded by beautiful white linen and no idea where I could be sick - I knew I wouldn't make it to the bathroom, and I'm not wearing a nighty! With that, thinking I have it under control, I projectile throw up all over the bed, all over myself, absolutely everywhere... hubby walks in the room to spewed up lasagne all over everything. He's frantically trying to save the mattress and starts scooping up the sick with his hands and piling it into nappy bags... he brings me towels, and I go stand in the bath and use the shower head to try and rinse myself off. Just 4 hrs later, hubby is also throwing up and feeling awful, we now think we have food poisoning.

Then the diarrhoea starts and boy is it horrendous... over the next 24ish hours, I'm sick 8 times, and have 17/18 bouts of awful diarrhoea. Now it's Monday morning and 5:30, I haven't been sick since 2pm on Sunday and boom, both happen at the same time... I've been awake most of the night, and haven't felt the baby move. So I call the assessment unit and they ask me to come in, thankfully (and because I could be contagious), I have a room to myself. Thing is, when you go in, you need to do a wee sample, which I couldn't do. I hadn't had a wee in over a day! I managed about half a teaspoon of sample and that was enough for them to see quite a lot of protein and that I was very dehydrated.

They admit me and want me to go on a drip and give me anti-sickness meds through the IV. I manage a poop sample for them too (glamorous I know!). At this point, I'm still convinced I have food poisoning. 

They keep me in overnight, I have 2 drips, one that lasts for 2 hrs, and another that lasts for 6 hrs and slowly I'm able to start having sips of water and get some sleep.

Tuesday afternoon (about 4:30) I'm discharged, and have a scan booked in for the next day to check the baby. They wanted me to stay overnight, but I'm feeling so much better they're happy for me to go. My first set of results of the poop sample come back, and the enzyme for c.diff is present - no salmonella or anything like that, just c.diff... we still have no idea where I could have picked that up... 

Scan of Dot

It's a good week before I start feeling properly better again and I'm not feeling sick after eating/drinking. Hubby is off sick all week too, feeling just as rough. Even my mother-in-law picked up a bit of the bug and had a bad night of it - followed by days of exhaustion. 

What a crazy week that was! The good news is that the baby was fine :) 

Prepared or unprepared?

One thing the hospital stay taught me was that my hospital bag was nowhere near ready! (more on that later this week) This really belongs in the next update... but the other day we got the baby car seat out we used with Squidge, we'd been keeping in the garage. Today I thought I'd check it out and take the covers off to put in the washing machine. However, when I went to do that I realised how filthy it had gotten in the damp garage, and as a result the covers are seriously mouldy - not something I'd want to put a newborn in, even after going through the washing machine. It's also covered in cobwebs and both alive and dead spiders, shudders.

I've contacted the company who make the travel system we have, and as much as they still make it, it's been reimagined since we bought ours, so their new car seats aren't compatible with what we have. So I'm left with the dilemma of whether we do our best to clean up the old one and hope the baby doesn't arrive for a couple days, or order a replacement and again, hope the baby doesn't arrive before the car seat... 

I now wish I'd just gotten rid of the old travel system and bought a new one, we wouldn't be facing this issue :( 

How have I been?

It's been a hard few weeks. I've been having a lot of sleepless nights being kept away with acid reflux. If you're not sure what that is, basically I'm asleep, on my left side (the good side) and I'll be woken up by a mouthful of stomach acid and some sick in my mouth. I'll cough my lungs up, take a rennie and have to sit up for sometimes hours, waiting for it to ease off. When that's not keeping me awake I'm waking up with awful heartburn and the need to have 3 wee's a night.  In the day, I'm also heartburn crazy. My lower back is super achy, and there's a lot of very low down pain from the pressure of the baby. Also getting daily tightnings/braxton hicks, mostly in the evenings. Generally I'm just really tired and achy, it's definitely taking it's toll on my body more this time around!

I do have a sweep booked for this Friday - they're keen for me to go naturally and avoid induction (which I am too!). Induction is provisionally booked for when I'm 41 weeks, so my sweeps are starting from 39 weeks and 2 days. We'll see!
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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Baking with California Walnuts #wellnesscracked

Baking with california walnuts banner
A little while ago I was approached by California Walnuts to share with you my favourite walnut-based recipe. Not one to turn a challenge away, I accepted! It was pretty easy, a recipe jumped into my mind straight away, coffee & walnut cake (my god I love that cake!). However, I'd only made it once before and a) have no idea where that recipe is and b) I live in a different house now with a seriously rubbish oven. 

The challenge was to use no more than 5 ingredients... this is where I cheated a bit, in the sponge there's 6 (thanks to the addition of coffee), but only one over isn't bad eh? And surely the buttercream counts as a separate entity? :) It's easily adapted - if you don't like coffee flavours in food, simply skip adding that to both the sponge and buttercream, and you'll have a delicious walnut cake instead :)

A little bit about the star ingredient, the walnut! I've always known nuts are good for you, a good source of protein and certain oils and fats, but I didn't realise the walnut is a bit of a super-nut! Did you know:

* They're a good source of plant-based Omega-3? Good for vegetarians :) 
* Helps to keep your heart healthy
* Supports brain function and vision
* Helps keep tiredness at bay (surely a mum's go-to snack then!)
* Helps keep your hair and skin nourished
Plus loads more!

With that in mind, maybe I should have picked a *ahem* healthier recipe, but I figured, I'm pregnant and I want coffee & walnut cake, so that's what I'm going to make :) Just as a disclaimer, I used decaf coffee for this recipe, so it's safe for pregnant mummies :) 

Walnut closeup
First off - I tried a Mary Berry recipe (since she's pretty much my favourite baker!) on the BBC Good Food site, but it did not go well... the sponges came out about as thick as a pancake... it didn't seem like much quantity of ingredients (like 100g flour, 100g sugar etc) whereas I'm used to making a cake using 225g of everything. So after that disaster, I went in search of another recipe and found this one! It was quantities and a method I'm familiar with - here's how I did it:

Sponge ingredients
225g unsalted butter (room temp)
225g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs (room temp)
4 teaspoons of strongly made up decaf coffee (I used Dowe Egberts)
225g self-raising flour
75g smashed walnuts

Buttercream ingredients
125g unsalted butter (room temp)
200g icing sugar
4-6 teaspoons of strongly made up decaf coffee
8 walnut halves to decorate

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180c and grease & line with baking paper, 2 x 20cm round cake tins
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light, pale and fluffy
3. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each egg (this is where it's good for everything to be room temp to help prevent splitting)
4. Add the coffee and mix well
5. Add the walnuts and stir well, and then fold in the flour
6. Spoon the mixture evenly between both tins and put in the oven for about 25 mins
7. Once cooked, allow to cool on a wire rack (I had a cup of tea at this point) :) 
8. Once cooled, start the buttercream - beat the butter and icing sugar together until pale and light
9. Add coffee to taste
10. Spread half the buttercream between the sponges (once they're fully cool) and spread the rest on top of the cake, decorate with California Walnuts

A finished coffee & walnut cake

I'm really chuffed with how it turned out! Squidge didn't like it, but hey, it's coffee flavoured :P Hubby loved it, as did I. The only thing I'd do differently next time is put more buttercream in the middle (I put less than half), so there's less on top - the top was just too sickly!

A half eaten coffee & walnut cake

It was nice having a recipe that included the walnuts in the sponge too, it added a really nice texture, and meant the cake didn't feel quite as naughty as you're having lovely bits of walnut with each mouthful of cake too :) I can't think of a better way to enjoy walnuts on a sunny day, sat in the garden with a slice of coffee & walnut cake, with a glass of iced-tea on the side. I'm definitely going to be reaching for them as a snack more often, I had no idea they were such good nuts :)

What's your favourite walnut recipe?

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Friday, 30 June 2017

A new routine, a new era

Squidge on the way to his first full day of nursery

Yesterday I finished work, not just for the day, but for about 10 months. My maternity officially starts at the beginning of August, from now until then I'm using up all my annual leave. Squidge, hubby and I have a massive change in routine that's going to take a while to get used to.

Our old routine was good, Monday - Thursday Squidge would go to his grandparents and I'd go to work (hubby would work all 5 days). Weekends were ours, Sunday mornings were swimming lessons. Not all of this is changing. Friday's would be mine and Squidge's day together.

I had to start planning for the changes the baby will bring. I'm worried about how I'll cope with feeding a newborn baby and dealing with a somewhat demanding toddler (aren't they all demanding?). So to prepare for that, I thought it might be good for Squidge to start going to nursery just for 1 day a week, for 2 reasons. Firstly, every time we take him to somewhere with other kids he gravitates towards them and wants to play, plus his language skills are still behind - his vocab is amazing, but his pronunciation needs work, hopefully being around other children will help this. And secondly, I've reached a point in the pregnancy where I'm knackered and could definitely do with a good 1-2 naps per day, afternoons in work were tough! So I signed him up because I think it'll be good for him, and it'll be good for me to have a day to rest and prepare for the baby.

Thing is the only day of the week they could fit him in was a Friday, which has always been our day together. So here I am, it's Friday morning, I'm in the house by myself and he's at nursery. I'm sure he's having a blast, but my god does this house feel empty and quiet (I do have a radio on for company). I miss him like crazy.

So that's the first part of our new routine, no more mummy/Squidge Friday's. He's also going to still go to his grandparents - if we stopped that, he'd miss them like crazy, and they'd miss him. It's nice to keep some of the old routine going for familiarity while we're going through some pretty major changes as we prepare for a new baby. He'll be going there for 2 days a week. So from now and until January (when he starts his free hours in school) it'll be me and the baby for 3 days a week, and the 3 of us for 2 days a week - all of us at weekends :) Hopefully I'll adjust to being apart from him, but today was always going to be tough, I just need to remember that.
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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Pregnancy Roundup | Weeks 28-32

31 week baby bump

Excuse the tummy bumps in the pic above - they're the draw strings on my PJ bottoms :) How is this pregnancy going so fast!? I can't believe I'm sat here, in my jammies writing this and I'm 32 weeks pregnant. It only feels like a couple weeks ago I excitedly waited for hubby to come upstairs to bed so I could show him the positive pregnancy test! But that was late Nov/early Dec last year! How time flies.

I'm ever growing and my belly is becoming rounder and more uncomfortable by the day. Jeans have become very uncomfortable to wear, but they're still my go-to for work. Oh yeah, speaking of work, I only have 2 weeks left (2 weeks today actually) until I finish for maternity leave! By that time I'll be 34 weeks, meaning I'll officially be 'full term' (37 weeks) from the 19th July (due date is 9th Aug).

Dot in a scan at 31 weeks

I had a scan just over a week ago, and Dot is still breech. They're still not too concerned as there's plenty of time for him to move/turn.  He's growing nicely and all seems well, so they're happy at the moment. I have another scan when I'm 35 weeks, so hopefully he'll have turned by then, fingers crossed! They also weighed me, in total I've gained 8lbs, so they're really happy with that - should all be the weight of the baby (3.5lbs), amniotic fluid, placenta and all the extra blood I'm carrying (2litres).

Symptoms-wise, it's been heartburn city, especially if I haven't drunk enough in the day. I'm not sleeping that well, and I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable, but that's to be expected. My feet haven't been as swollen this time, which I think is partly down to wearing jeans/socks/shoes instead of dresses and ballet pumps (they always swell with those!). My allergies still aren't great too, but they haven't been keeping me up at night as much as before (apart from last night!).

big baby bump

Oh and my boobs have been leaking colostrum! This never happened with Squidge, so new to me in pregnancy. I think I'm going to see if I can buy some 1 ml syringes and start expressing small amounts and freezing them ready for when Dot is born :) 

I also want to buy a cord tie for when he's born to use instead of the usual plastic clamp. Technically, they're crocheted and with cotton, so I could easily make one myself, but I really need the care instructions, so I'm going to buy one/have one made.
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