Parenting // Having a baby with a boyfriend instead of a husband…


Dunc and I have been together since 2011 and started seriously discussing our future of getting married and having kids during the summer of 2013. Although these things weren’t iminment, we both agreed that is how we wanted our future to look. However Dunc was probably not as bothered about the whole marriage thing. He, at this point, had never been to a wedding and although many of his friends were in long term relationships (over five years), none were engaged. I think he didn’t quite get it.

I on the other hand was certain about what I wanted. In 2010 I came out of a four year relationship and was keen to not waste time again and to not fall into just being a girlfriend forever. 

Forward onto 2015, Dunc and I bought a house together, we moved in, we got pregnant, we celebrated four years together. Still no engagement. I felt very confused and had already made clear to Dunc prior to our pregnancy that I would have the same surname as my children and it was up to him as to what that surname would be. 

Once Wilf was born it took us over a month to get him registered because of the name. Dunc then promised that he would ask me to marry him and being caught up in a world of emotions I agreed to let Wilf have his surname. Something that I have had regrets about since.

Also, over the space of a year, out of the six friends in long term relationships, three got engaged and three ended. Ouch. It was like it was make or break time.

Earlier this year, after attending the wedding of one of his oldest friends (who is just three years into his relationship…) I had a really tough month. I felt like our relationship was falling away. We were still not engaged, Dunc never spoke about our wedding anymore and I just didn’t feel as confident about us. It was utterly shit.

I caved in and spoke to him. I didn’t want to be that girl who moans about not having a ring on her finger, but I needed to hear Dunc tell me that I was the only one for him and the one that he wants to be with forever. I needed him to show me how he feels (he is shockingly bad at displaying emotions). He assured me of how he feels and over the following weeks I did start to feel better.

I really do feel that having a little one will impact on your relationship no matter how hard you try to not let it. I was determined it would make us stronger, but I think that not having that commitment of marriage has made me feel less stable.

I also hate that he has a different surname. We all got new passports recently and I’m a Miller whilst they are not. At the doctors I’m a Miller whilst they are not, at weigh in clinics I’m a Miller whilst they are not. It just feels shit. “Oh, no, we’re not married”, “he’s my partner”…. it gets tougher.  You feel like you have to explain yourself all the time and why you’re not married. Why do I feel like that? I don’t think I should, but I do.

Money is tight right now for a number of reasons and so even though I don’t want a fancy ring I can’t see him being able to get a ring any time soon. I can’t imagine Dunc putting money aside for it. It’s also not something we talk about much anymore. And I feel awkward if we watch people get engaged on TV. 

I don’t even want a wedding. I just want to be his and for him to be mine. I want him to scoop us up and run away, just the three of us and get married, just us. 

I really didn’t think marriage was so important to be done before kids, but now I get it. It’s your foundation, it’s your stability, it’s what you build your family upon. 
Maybe it’s just me who feels like this? It would mean so much to hear from you if you are in a similar situation.

T

Parenting // Changing station

What our changing station looks like has changed alot over this last year. I thought it would be helpful to give you ideas of what to include in yours.
First off, I would suggest buying two baskets. One for the nursery and one for the lounge. In those early weeks your little one will need so many nappy changes and trust me, you won’t be wanting to run upstairs ten times a day. At first we had two rectangular woven baskets about 20cm x 40cm. These allowed us to fit lots in during those manic months and the less often you have to re-fill it, the better!
We filled each basket about two thirds full of nappies and the rest of the space was taken up with:

  • Cotton balls – we didn’t use wipes with Wilf until he was around 4-6 weeks old as babies skin is so sensitive and it was actually easier and cheaper so I would definitely recommend doing this over water wipes. But you will need a tub of fresh warm water (we just used an old ice cream tub!).
  • Nappy cream – we didn’t need to use this for months but better to have it to hand should you find a red bum mid change. 
  • A pack of nappy bags – for dirty nappies, always use for pooey ones!
  • Hand sanitiser – to clean your hands before/after without having to run to the sink.
  •  ~ Downstairs basket only ~ spare clothes – we kept at least two baby gros and two bodysuits at all times, you may wish to add booties/hats etc depending on how warm it is.

After a few weeks the cotton balls switched to a pack of wipes and after a few months we ditched the spare clothes downstairs as the poo explosions became less freequent. At around seven months we also used smaller baskets. A slightly smaller wipe clean one was now in use in the nursery (as seen in the picture) and a small A5 size basket was used downstairs as the number of nappies didn’t need to be so high, but still handy to have a change station down there.

It’s worth mentioning that we have a nappy bin in the nursery but downstairs the full nappy bag would sit at the changing station until it got moved to the bin, this worked for us as we didn’t have other children or dogs to worry about.

We also didn’t have a change table in the nursery, hence these items being in a basket and not a drawer. We found this worked for us. If we needed to run out the room we weren’t worried about leaving him on the change mat!

Hopefully this is of help to some. I find with things like this you just don’t know what you need until you are in the midst of newborn haze.

T

An update // Joyful June

Hello June, hello summer!

June sees us attend another wedding and this time in France! It’s our first wedding abroad, our first time abroad in a couple of years and most importantly, Wilf’s first trip abroad! We are hoping to also squeeze in a catch up with one of my oldest friends who now lives in Geneva and is yet to meet Wilf. We are going for a long weekend and are staying in a chalet with friends.  

I am definitely more anxious about it than looking forward to it. I just don’t want the flight or the holiday to disturb Wilf’s routine of sleeping through! And I guess I’m always anxious about the unknown and there are so many things that could go wrong. I need to just take it a little easier I guess! The anxiety was definitely lowered once Dunc sorted our three new passports out at an urgent appointment a couple of weeks ago, thus enabling us to book flights!

June also sees me reach the end of my 5k running app. I am six weeks in and am kinda actually loving it. I did a 20 minute straight run the other day and it was nice to not be concentrating on stopping and starting. Instead I could let my mind wander and before I knew it I was three quarters of the way through! If you haven’t read about my journey so far, you might wanna catch up here and here (spoiler – six weeks ago I struggled to run for one minute).

I am also hoping for some quality friend catch ups this month. What with all the little ones birthdays and of course Wilf’s, my concentration on friendships has somewhat been lacking. So I need to get on that.

Dunc has some time off work because of our trip which will hopefully mean some quality time with him too. I am really looking forward to that. It is so easy to just meander through the days and weeks, especially when you have a little one, and on the few occassions that we have had some us time, it has been fantastic. It is good to step back and remember why you had that guys baby, you know?!

Finally I need to catch up on some long overdue life admin. Yukky boring grown up stuff that is so easy to put off. Must. Get. Better. At. Prioritising. It.

What have you got planned for June? I’m obviously also hoping for some low key family fun including BBQs, walks, enjoying our evwr improving garden and mini adventures!

T

Parenting // Twelve months of feeding

You might remember that I have already talked about my breastfeeding journey over here. But I wanted this post to focus less on the emotional side of feeding and more around what we have done practically over the last twelve months when it comes to getting milk in our little one.

From day one we logged all his feeds, nappies etc onto an app which we continued to use up until he was around 14/15 weeks. About six weeks in we also logged sleeps and expressing info on it. Although we fortunately never needed to use this info for medical purposes, we found it so useful in helping to understand what he might need, what patterns were emerging and when his last poo was!
So from day one it was just boob. Around day four or five my milk came in and the feeds increased. Wilf always fed for a long time, rarely feeding for less than twenty minutes and often longer, sometimes it was over an hour. 

At five weeks we introduced expressed milk but I could only express between 20-60ml, a few times a week. It helped to give me a bit of rest time and was also lovely for Dunc to be involved in the feeding. But as I could only express small amounts it was never really enough. I remember once expressing around 120ml and being so proud of myself, then pretty frustrated that Wilf refused to drink even half of this bottle – the only time he had not wanted more!

At eight weeks we started to fall into a lose pattern of feeding upon waking as we didn’t want Wilf to become reliant upon feeding to get to sleep. 

At 16 weeks we introduced a proper bedtime routine which was rounded off with a 45 minute boob feed. This was then followed up with a formula dream feed at around 10/11pm. At first this was six ounces but after Wilf cried in such distress one night, Dunc gave him another six ounce bottle which he guzzled. This led us to give him 12 oz every dream feed. I checked with the health visitor and she assured me that as he was a breastfed baby he wouldn’t be able to over feed so he obviously needed a big feed.

Over the weeks and months, Wilf’s day feeds gradually reduced down to more of a structure and by the time Wilf reached six months we also introduced formula feeds during the day. He would have boob when he woke, formula after his morning sleep, boob after midday nap, formula after his afternoon nap, boob at bedtime, formula at dream feed (now back to one bottle) and boob overnight. Formula was always 6oz and he rarely left any.

On occassion he may want another boob feed during the day but as we were starting to introduce food, he rarely wanted more. I was also careful to offer milk before food to ensure he was filling up on the right stuff.

It was also around six months that he started to wake just once during the night. When he started sleeping through until 4am-ish I knew that he could sleep through to that time without needing a feed. So if he woke earlier, say between 2-3am, I would settle him back down and leave him. It only took a couple of weeks of this happening (not even every night), before he properly adjusted to not getting fed early in the night. I stuck to my guns pretty much every night which helped and soon he rarely woke before 4am. He would then feed for 30 minutes on each side (I introduced feeding on both sides at every single feed upon NHS advice at five months) and sleep for an hour or two more until his morning feed.

At around seven to eight months his feeds reduced even further. He had now swapped his midday nap and boob feed with lunch and was down to just boob feeding in the morning, at bedtime and overnight along with his two 6oz bottles mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

By eight months we had decided to start the road to coming off the boob altogether. We started this by first swapping his bedtime boob feed for formula (8oz to keep him fuller for longer) and finishing the dream feed. Dunc was quite upset at this ending as it was his bonding time with Wilf and had done it pretty much every single night since 16 weeks (I could count on one hand the number of dream feeds I had done).

This worked well and he seemed to sleep through till 5am and was then adamant that it was morning time. After a couple of weeks of early starts, out of nowhere he started sleeping right through till 7ish (sometimes 8ish, sometimes 6ish!). We then swapped his morning boob feed for another 8oz bottle and that was it. Breastfeeding was finished at eight and a half months. 

We soon dropped his mid-morning bottle as his botttle upon waking, followed by breakfast an hour later was enough to keep him going till food at lunchtime and his afternoon bottle.

Wilf has so far continued to sleep through at night time and now has just his bottle upon waking and his bedtime bottle (which recently went down to 7oz) after dropping his afternoon bottle at around 10 and a half months.

With Wilf turning one next week, we will start to think about switching up the formula for whole milk. We have just introduced vitamin supplements which we put into his bedtime bottle to help him get all the goodness he needs now that his milk consumption is so reduced.

Another thing to note is that we stopped steralising his bottles at around eight months. It was just the most annoying thing and we felt that as they were going through the dishwasher anyway, and as he was now putting anything he could lay his hands on, into his mouth, steralising just didn’t seem as important. But of course you should always only do what you’re comfortable with.

I know this probably isn’t of interest to most, especially as all babies are different, but I really wanted to remember what we did and I know I will look back on this.

I would love to hear of any more feeding experiences so do post links to any in the comments below!

T

Parenting // Returning to work

I have now been back to work for eight weeks. In some ways it has flown by. 

I really thought a part of me would look forward to getting back to work. Even though last year I fell out of love with the charity I work for and for the job itself in some ways, I knew that I was returning to a great team, and a job that I knew. Both key things when all you can think about is the little person who has been attached to your hip for the last nine or ten months.

I debated over what to do for so long and actually put off making any kind of decision. We then realised in January that we could not put it off any longer. We decided to ask for my return to start in mid March, at 21 hours a week, over three days. After much to and fro-ing. We came to an agreement that meant both parties making a compromise, but I fortunately got my 21 hour/three day request granted (which didn’t look hopeful for some time).

So how are things going now I’m back?

Well there are good days and bad days. I do enjoy my grown up time and use my lunch breaks to run errands that are easier done without a baby in tow. 

I feel confident that Wilf is in safe hands with his grandparents and nursery. He seems really happy on his days without me and I love that he is interacting with more people and babies/toddlers. And also he will be doing lots of things that we wouldn’t necessarily do. And I have a plan for the two days I spend with him to ensure we still fit in lots of out of the house time.

But work wise I am finding it hard to be passionate. I have put myself forward for extra projects as I need some exciting tasks to be part of. I am finding job sharing a little tricky, handovers are often rushed or information is left out. The thing that keeps me going are my colleagues. I have such a good rapport with them all and they make the days so much easier. 

I find that working part time is fitting in well. By the time my working week has started, it finishes, which reduces my mum guilt. Although the flip side of this is that I find my days at work are crammed with meetings and catching up on emails, leaving little time to actually get stuff done. I think the recent swathe of bank holidays haven’t helped. A two day week does not allow much time to get everything done!

All in all I am glad I returned to work, I am glad I returned to a job I know surrounded by supportive colleagues I know. But I feel that I need to think about a change at some point. A change in career to bring some passion back. I also feel that I could work an extra day now I know how settled Wilf is at nursery.

Getting my head around the thought of returning to work was so, so much harder than the reality of it. If you are in this position talk to your partner or your friends or your parents and even your boss. (After an initial difficult conversation, my manager has been very supportive and phased back my return, ensuring that no pressure or responsibilities were put upon me for my first few weeks. I’m sure there are many not so lucky as this.)

I was not prepared for how crap I would feel when I finally had to face up to the reality of leaving Wilf. It was totally shit and I just had to do it. It has definitely got easier as the weeks have passed by. And I am confident that we are doing the right thing. It just appears to be something that gets easier with time, once a routine beds in.

Returning to work was also an excuse to buy some new clothes, so there is that…

T

Home life // Finding fitness

It’s not just since having Wilf that I have found excuses not to exercise. Whether it’s the cost, the weather, timings that don’t suit or anxiousness you can guarantee that I will find a reason to not exercise. 
But one of the main reasons I put off exercise over the years was embarrasment. I know I look a mess when exercising. I turn beetroot red (the worst was after a spinning class, pure hell), have sweat dripping or even pouring down my face and my hair gets frizzy. This has put me off joining classes or running past cars or people walking. I also have sizeable legs for a size 10 and they are accentuated by exercise leggings which also made me feel crap. I know exercise isn’t about looking good but if you don’t feel confident then you won’t have as much enthusiasm for it.
I have enjoyed bike riding in the past, but only where no roads whatsoever are involved. My parents live next to a canal and I used to drive to theirs then cycle as fast as I could for an hour. But we are talking six years ago now… 

I also took up exercise classes. For a couple of years I did bokwa and piloxing every week. But stopped that two years ago.

I would also like to state that I have NEVER stepped foot into a gym other than to walk through to my class. I have NEVER used gym equipment and wouldn’t even know where to start.

About three months after having Wilf I did five weeks of buggy circuits which I loved and that combined with breastfeeding got me back to pre pregnancy size in no time. But then the class changed days to the one time I had pre-booked a terms worth of baby sensory classes. So that was finished.

Then came winter and masses of eating. I am a tad over my pre pregnancy size. Some of my size 10 clothes don’t fit and I have been buying size 12 in some shops. I guess I want to slim down a little. But mostly I want to tone up. I have been lucky over my twenties in that despite a lack of exercise I have always had a slim, toned stomach. But now, not so much. I would also like to fit in some of my jeans from 2-3 years ago but not sure if keeping them is a good thing or not?? They are all super skinny!

Anyway, onto the point of this post. Finding fitness. I read a post on the fab blog, Rock my Style and it inspired me to get running. So in the early hours of a sleepless Sunday morning last weekend I downloaded a 5k running app. I went out for my first run at 7.30 that morning and I have now started my secon week and love it. 

You do three runs a week for around 30 mins and after eight weeks you reach the point where you can run a straight 5k. I am excited by this prospect.

I tried running a couple of years ago. Mainly to save the money I was spending on exercise classes, but I am not a natural runner. I used to always get stitches and get very sweaty. Now when I tried running two years ago, I think I tried to push myself too hard. This app, starts you off slow which I really like. It also gives you plenty of walking time which is where I went wrong before.
In week one you do a brisk five minute warm up walk, then run for 60 seconds and walk for 90 seconds. You then repeat the run/walk section eight times in total and finish with a five minute cool down. Then over the weeks it gets gradually harder.

I am excited to see how I get on and will update you on here. If you are debating doing something similar. Just do it. Then instead of feeling crap in two months time wishing you had started doing something. You will be two months down the road and feeling much better. Nothing will change unless you start the change!

T

An update // A day in May

Well here we are. May. A very special month to us. Wilf arrived on a day in May which means we are soon to have a one year old. What the frig?! 

I’m already feeling very emotional at the thought of him turning one and of us reaching the anniversary of the day our lives changed. I will dedicate another post to this and also perhaps further one about his birthday and his party as I could go on for ages!

So, putting aside the biggie in May, what else is happening? Well I’m hoping to get a bit fitter. I have downloaded a running app focused on reaching 5k and am determined to see it through! You run three times a week for eight weeks before reaching the 5k goal. I might even write up a post on this as I feel I have some stuff to get out of my head around being embarrased to go running and overcoming my running demons!

This month is also the month we finally sort the garden out! In April we made huge strides to get a tidy, clear garden and now we need to make it pretty! We have a wall to paint, probably some more grass seeds to sow as the last ones haven’t yet come to much, we have plants to dehead and pots to tidy. We have a patio to lay and a shed and seating to sort. Although the shed and seating might come later… Wish us luck!

Another job that keeps getting out off is that I need to get some photos printed and sort the photo frames and pictures we have that are still waiting to go on walls, so I guess we need to crack on with that.

Dunc is also away one weekend, back for two nights and away for a further night. I’m hoping I can handle solo parenting for three nights!

I am sure there is more on but all my focus is on the little man and soaking up every last second of him whilst he’s still my baby!

T