Baby S’s weekend in hospital

This time a week ago, on a lovely sunny Bank Holiday Monday, we were getting ready to leave hospital and come home with our 9 week old boy. 

On the Thursday night prior, he’d had a bad night’s sleep – didn’t want any milk (unlike him – he feeds every 2 hours or so in the night), had developed a cough and just wanted to be comforted.

Friday morning he had some milk then slept all morning – again, unlike him as he only has short naps in the day. He’d developed a bit of a fever and lost his colour. I still wasn’t overly concerned as I thought it was just a cold but I called the doc’s just in case – I was mostly worried that his terrible-sounding cough was a chest infection.

They suggested giving calpol to bring his temperature down and when we saw the doctor at 5pm she couldn’t hear anything in his chest so assumed it was viral but asked us to take him to the assessment unit in the hospital just in case. 

I still wasn’t overly worried –  figured we’d be there a few hours and then home.

Wrong. As soon as we arrived, I suspect that a combination of his young age and symptoms jumped him to the top of the queue as we didn’t have to wait at all before he was surrounded my medical staff, stripped off and given blood tests, a chest X-ray and lumbar puncture. We also had to get an urine sample…. Literally by holding a sample bottle underneath him…. For 4 hours!!!

I guess I didn’t realise at the time but all his symptoms were similar to those of meningitis. Once all the tests were done they explained that some of the results wouldn’t be back til Monday (with it being a weekend) but they would treat him as if it was worst case ie meningitis/sepsis.

So baby S spent the weekend in the Children’s hospital for Wales. We had a private room in case he was infectious, which had a camp bed and en-suite bathroom!


He was on two sets of antibiotics, every four hours. As he hadn’t drunk much on the Friday, he was on a saline drip Saturday. We gave him calpol a few times a day. He was hooked up to a monitor which kept an eye on his oxygen levels and heart rate. It was hard seeing him so poorly but it was even harder not being able to comfort him properly and bounce round the room with him!

He mostly slept Saturday and wasn’t happy when he was awake. (Hated all the wires/prodding etc too!) He was a lot happier Sunday and we saw some of his smiles again. One of the blood tests came back Sunday and confirmed that he had rhinovirus… The common cold! 

We still had to wait til Monday to rule out any infections and luckily that was the case so after a weekend of unnecessary antibiotics off home we went🙂

Despite it being ‘just a cold’ we felt very affected and emotional bringing him home. That morning, a 4 week old baby had died on the same ward. No idea why or what happened but it certainly played on our minds for days after…

How lucky we are that S didn’t have anything serious and that he came home. How guilty I felt that we’d been unable to breastfeed and so he didn’t have the antibodies to fight this cold! How lucky we are that we live in a country with access to high quality free healthcare. How amazing the service was from when we arrived and through the whole weekend. How precious life is and how delicate our little babies are. 

REVIEW: Portmeirion gift sets for children (Peppa Pig and The Very Hungry Little Caterpillar) 

Portmeirion has always held a special place in my heart. It’s an Italian village in North Wales where I visited as a child and again 5 years ago with my other half when we decided to climb nearby Snowdon a few months after meeting!

Portmeirion is also famous for the crockery it produces, which I love. It reminds me of my childhood home, where the Portmeirion dinner set comes out at special occasions like Christmas. If me and the other half ever get married, a Portmeirion dinner set would be on the wedding list, until then I have one of their cases to keep me happy!

So imagine my delight when I discovered they now make sets for children too! We were sent a Portmeirion Peppa pig set and Portmeirion The Very Hungry little caterpillar set for our boys…

First impressions were good – the sets are packaged in beautiful, strong keepsake boxes….

portmeirion gift sets for children
I love the way the dinner sets are packaged… Layered so you uncover the three items as you go through the box… Even the way they’re packed is high quality!




When you’ve unpacked them, in front of you sit two beautiful dinner sets, I can’t get across how cute, well-made and striking these are! 

The characters and colours all look fantastic and ready to be eaten on!

portmeirion a very hungry little caterpillar set



portmeirion peppa pig set


I love them, toddler W loves them and I’m sure baby S will love them too. I think they make the perfect keepsake gifts for newborns/toddlers/children. The colours and images used totally appeal to children but their design and quality will appeal to grown-ups to, even if you haven’t come across Portmeirion before.

Now the only problem I have is… When will W be old enough to move from using his plastic Peppa pig crockery to these beautiful sets? And should they only kept for special occasions?! I look forward to finding out! 

These sets are available directly from the Portmeirion website – the Portmeirion Peppa pig set is £22 and the Portmeirion The Very Hungry little caterpillar set is £27 – both great value for such high quality sets.

Disclosure: I was sent both sets in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own🙂

Linked up to #TriedTested 

Toddler W’s 27 month update 

W turned 2 and a quarter last week and thought I’d write a quick updates the last one was when he turned two.

Stop press alert: he had some new favourites: Paw patrol has overtaken Peppa pig as his favourite cartoon, and I think quiche has now overtaken pasta as his favourite food!

Becoming a big brother

The biggest change since then has been that he’s become a big brother! This has gone better than expected (read our post about preparing him for it!) largely due to leaving him with the childminder four days a week for now, do he doesn’t have too much of a chance to get jealous/frustrated.

When he comes home, he asks for ‘baby cwtch’ straight away. When baby S is in his bouncer he’ll often go up to him to give him a kiss, whether he’s sleeping or awake!! He blocks out the crying most of the time, so all in all he’s handling it very well and we’re giving him lots of praise for it!

Development

His vocabulary continues to go from strength to strength and you can have a good old conversation with him now! 

He’s using his memory, eg if I ask him what he did at the childminder’s today, he can roughly tell me.

He’s using logic, so when my other half said to him the other day ‘shall we go in this shop to look at clothes for dad’, W said ‘no, Dadda got clothes!’ 

He says his ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s and  copies and picks up so many sayings eg ‘careful mamma’, ‘mamma come on!!’ (Said with urgency as he’s trying to drag me somewhere’) and ‘never mind’.

He’s inquisitive ‘what’s Dadda doing?!’ ‘What happened?!’ (The latter often asked after he falls over on purpose ;)) 

Since the last update he can now count up to ten in Welsh and French!! He loves numbers, when we’re out and about he’ll read out numbers when he sees them! He also knows the colours in Welsh.

The last few weeks he’s started to try and sing… He’ll ask us to sing his faves ‘five little Ducks’ or ‘spider’ (incy wincy) and he’ll always try and join in with ‘wheels in the bus’

Behaviour

Overall he’s still a very good boy and we can usually move on from tantrums through a range of distraction techniques!! Over the last month or so he’s become a little more ‘headstrong’ with lots more ‘no’s and ‘no, mine’ creeping in, perhaps in reaction to his baby brother’s arrival, perhaps just picked up from the older girls at the childminder’s.

Routines etc 

He still wakes up about 6.30 and still has a 2 hour nap from about 12-2. We make sure it’s no longer than 2 hours. 

Bedtime has got later, he goes upstairs for bath and stories at 7 and is usually asleep by 8. We managed to ditch his milk bottle for a few days, but that’s crept back in and not the time to fight over it with a newborn in the house!

He usually sleeps through but quite often will wake between midnight and two shouting for ‘dadda’, not upset just over-tired etc!

Still no toilet training yet, we’ll try in September when he has a week off with me.

What we’ve been up to…Before and since his brother’s arrival we’ve made sure he’s had plenty of visits out and about. I wish I had time to write all of these up (or at least have more photos to share with you!) but he’s been to Tredegar park, Dyffryn GardensCardiff bay a few times….

Barry island…

barry island beach fun
Cardiff museum…

cardiff museum rocks 
Heath park miniature railway…

heath park miniature railway

Greenmeadow community farm
greenmeadow community farm

nature day at Forest farm

meadow at forest farm

Amelia trust farm…

amelia trust farm

The new splash pad at Victoria park…

victoria park splashpad
…and the childminder takes them out most days too, so he’s had a good few days out over the last few months! Although he’s just as happy at home with his cars, dinosaurs, animals, books etc…

Let’s see what the next few months bring 😍

Introducing: Rockin’ baby clothes (S/S16 collection)

I love finding quirky clothes for W… Leggings, bright colours, unusual prints…

So I was delighted when Rockin’ baby sent him a T-shirt and shorts outfit from their latest collection. 


This collection features 10 themes and I think we were sent a set from the ‘out of Africa’ range. Other themes are called things like ‘fishy fun’ and ‘high tea’.

I absolutely love the print, so different and so much fun… So colourful! W loves it too… Roaring at the lions, he’s started to pick out which clothes he wants to wear now and loves any clothes with animals on them!


The fabric seems really high quality… Soft but strong🙂 Hopefully they wash ok and the colours don’t run! 

The other bonus is that Rockin’ Baby donate to charity… For every item of clothing sold from this collection, they donate an item to a child in need. They’re on target to donate 250,000 pieces of clothing over the next year!

Now the only negative I could find about these clothes is the sizing. We were sent size 2-3 which should fit W but both the top and bottom were too big and I don’t think he’ll fit into them til next summer now which is a shame!

The shorts waistline was ok as it was elasticated, but they were too long. They are fab though, really well-made pocket and button detail…


The t-shirt was too big overall, here it is overlaid with another t-shirt he wears age 2-3.

So I would recommend you buy a size smaller than what you need. The range is available at rockinbaby.com with prices starting at £10… I can see that some items are now 50% off so do check them out and let me know what you think! 

Overall I’m chuffed to find a new brand to dress the boys in, that you won’t find on the high-street, and that donates to charity! 

Disclaimer: I was sent these items in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

My breastfeeding story… Second time around

Before I had W, I was given lots of breastfeeding advice… Mostly that it was likely to hurt, wasn’t always easy and that I should stock up on nipple cream and cabbages😉

I thought I’d give it a shot but was quite pragmatic that if I couldn’t do it I wouldn’t be overly bothered – I didn’t put myself under any pressure to do it. As it turns out, W was a dream to breastfeed – his journey was so straightforward that my best friend who’s also a breastfeeding peer support says i was only 1 of 2 people she knew that hasn’t faced any issues with breastfeeding. Another peer support friend was also amazed at how easy is had it, and even admitted to some jealousy over it! (Breastfeeding does that to you ;)) 


First few days of breastfeeding

So cue baby S and I planned to breastfeed again. However, baby S had other ideas. Straight away he didn’t seem to latch on properly, but I was woozy from blood loss so it was all a bit of a blur. During our hospital stay I got a couple of the midwives to help me with his latch, and we also expressed colostrum and gave it to him via a syringe. 

I could have stayed in til I knew that breastfeeding was established, but I wanted to get home… You know how it is!

The first night home was horrendous. S screamed a lot. Screamed when I tried to latch him on, screamed when he wasn’t latched on, etc.

When my midwife came over the next day, she again helped with his latch and also suggested hand expressing… And sent a breastfeeding specialist to see me the next day….

This lady said my positioning was all wrong, and helped me with that. She suspected I was finding it harder second time around because my last memory of it was with W when he was much bigger than a newborn…. A newborn needed much more guidance!

At this time my milk had come in so it was much easier (so I thought!!) S was still taking a long time to latch every time and usually crying/screaming every time but eventually would settle down and start suckling. In hindsight I don’t think he was ever latched on properly as he still wasn’t putting weight on. 

First two weeks of feeding 

For his first two weeks I had either a midwife or breastfeeding support visiting every other day to weigh him and when he was still -10% at 2.5 weeks they suggested I see the specialist boss lady at a breastfeeding support group.
I arrived early and glad I did as they put me on an extreme pumping plan for the weekend and watched him latch, before lots of tearful, stressed-out, sleep-deprived mums turned up wanting help and probably feeling like failures. I don’t think I’ve ever seen/felt such raw emotion in one room. 

It’s a hugely evocative feeling when you’re struggling to feed your baby. I’m so, so glad I had managed ok with W because I kept thinking ‘I’ve done it once, if I can’t do it again that’s fine!’ Whereas I dread to think how I would have handled all of this as a first time mum.

After a full weekend of breastfeeding, expressing (using the excellent Medela Swing pump) and bottle-feeding expressed milk, S had gone and lost further weight and was down to -11%.

I physically couldn’t do any more than I had been doing. 

I said to the specialist straight away that we were going to have to introduce fomula, as I couldn’t do any more and I was getting concerned about his weight. She agreed with me, and told my other half to get me a bottle of wine while he was buying formula as I deserved a night off!

They were all at a loss as to why he kept losing weight as he was pooing plenty, and seemed to be latching ok, but as I said earlier he must have not actually been taking much in when he was latched on. One of the ladies did say it might be a ‘small mouth, big nipple’ issue!

6 week update: Where are we now

So after 2 weeks of breast milk, he’s now been on pretty much 6 weeks of formula. I’ve been trying to express enough to give him one bottle of expressed milk a day, but my supply has been drying up… I know I can get it back by increased pumping etc… I need to make the time for it! 

I’ve tried a few times since to get him to latch on again but he hasn’t seemed overly bothered. Now he’s used to bottles I’ve bought nipple shields to try and fool him into thinking that my boobs are bottles but again need to make the time for it on top of his actual bottle feeds… I don’t want to do when he’s hungry and needs his food ASAP but then if I try when he’s not hungry I suspect he won’t bother trying! 

It would be lovely (for me!) if I can get him to breastfeed again, and I’m sure it’s possible with perseverance, but if he doesn’t, he doesn’t and at least we tried.

And that’s all we can do right? Is try. I blogged about it before.. I’m 100% pro-breastfeeding and think everyone should try. 

But now I fall into this pot of people for whom it doesn’t work out… So how do I feel about it?

The emotions behind not breastfeeding any more 

  • Gutted, but I can’t let it get to me, I’m not going to dwell on it
  • Surprised – having done it once, I assumed second time would be easy. I suspect most people struggle first time round, not second!
  • Jealous when I see anyone breastfeeding but I just have to remember that I’ve been lucky enough to do it once before, stress-free 
  • Grateful for all the support that was available to me. I think Cardiff and the Vale NHS trust do a pretty good job, I had support in hospital, at home and they run three drop-in groups every week. It’s really important with all the austerity funding cuts that these services aren’t cut.
  • Thankful for the wider support whether that be practical and moral support from peer-support friends or speaking to other people in Facebook groups who were having similar issues… As always.. A problem shared is a problem halved 
  • Relieved that S took to a bottle easily (as that can be a struggle to so many!)
  • Pleased that I can wear what I want (although I still default to my mummy-esque baggy t-shirts!)
  • Glad that other people can help with the feeding. (Especially handy with a toddler in tow!!!)
  • Tired and sleep-deprived, i’d say that night feeds are much easier when you’re breastfeeding as you don’t need to worry about making up bottles/how long bottles have been made up for… Oh and it’s bollocks that all formula fed sleep longer – S still wakes up every 2-3 hours
  • Guilty – I think subconsciously I used to look at mums bottle feeding their babies and wonder why they weren’t breastfeeding. I’ve learnt the hard way that however someone is feeding their baby, we have no idea what struggles they might have had to get there
  • Selfless – I could have kept on perservering with the latch issue, but it would have been for me, not S. He needed feeding up. He took to the bottle straight away, and is thriving on it.
  • Bonded – when moving to bottles of formula I worried I’d never bond with S like I did with W. I needn’t have worried. When I cwtch S in tight and his big eyes are looking up at me, I know we’ll be OK :) 

So there we have it. Two baby boys, two very different breastfeeding journeys. I might not be lucky enough to breastfeed again but I’d encourage everyone to give it a try. By sharing my stories I hope I can help to normalise breastfeeding in Britain – we need to see it, talk about it, support it! 

How to break a world record… This summer!

Have you ever broken a world record?! I have and it was an awesome feeling… 

Nearly 10 years ago, I was one of thousands of Joneses who held the coveted record of being in the largest gathering of people with the surname!

I believe another group of people broke our record… So next weekend I have the chance to break a similar, but different, record….

I could be part of the largest gathering of people dressed as elephants!!!

As a family, we’re elephant-mad, ever since my other half and I saw them in the wild in Sri Lanka… I think every room in our house has an elephant in so I don’t need much persuading to join a gathering of them!


So some details if you’d like to join us:

Where and when: Saturday August 13th 2016, Millenium Stadium, Cardiff starting at 2pm

Rules: you must be dressed head to toe as an elephant. There are strict rules about the costume eligibility: check them here before you attend! 

Why elephants?: the event is being organised by child bereavement charity 2wishuponastar and the elephants represent:

  • The charity’s mascot as elephants never forget, and neither do bereaved parents
  • The elephant in the room  – ‘child bereavement is something people are understandably afraid to discuss, but if we are to improve support for bereaved parents, it’s an issue that needs to be tackled.’

The story behind 2wishuponastar is incredibly sad… The founder lost her son, then her husband… And set up the charity to improve bereavement services in hospitals across Wales.

So as well as the chance to dress like an elephant, you get to (hopefully!) break a world record and raise awareness of a great charity – see you there! 
Disclosure: I wasn’t paid to write this, I wrote it for free as I think it’s a great event and great charity! 

My second birth story 

A week past my due date, at 41 wks I had my 3rd sweep. I was getting the odd contraction which I’d had for a few days. By late afternoon/early evening they were getting more intense so we sent toddler W off to his nan’s and I got in the bath for a bit. 

Even though it was my second, because W was induced I really didn’t know what to expect at home – while in the bath, through contractions, I was reading baby books on when you should go into hospital – I didn’t want to go too late but didn’t want to go too early and get sent home!

All this time I was just trying to breathe through the contractions, plus trying to stay relaxed and think of tropical peaceful beaches!

second birth story
I was still in the bath when my OH came home after dropping W off. We worked out my contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart so he phoned the delivery ward and they told us to come in…

I put the TENS on for the car journey, and luckily as it was early evening the traffic was light and I only had one contraction in the car!

As soon as we got to the ward my allocated midwife was there waiting for us and I asked for gas and air before we’d even got into the room! I think my subconscious was like ‘right, you’ve done alright through breathing, now you’re here you can get on the gas and air!’ 

The midwife examined me straight away and we were all surprised and delighted that I was 6-7cm dilated already! So chuffed that I’d got that far without any pain relief… 

My waters broke 10 mins later (so lucky they didn’t go in the car 😂) I got hooked up to the monitor and straight on the gas and air (amazing stuff) and had some pretty strong contractions… Couple of times hitting over 100 on the machine whatever that means. As with last time my OH was brilliant helping me with the gas and air and getting me to use it properly (how to breathe using it always seems to confuse me!)

At some point a doctor came in and noted how ‘serene’ it was in the room.. I remember at that point, I had zoned out a bit… Like they say animals want peace and quiet in labour, I think I was going through a similar stage! 

Just 30-40 minutes after arriving in hospital, it wasn’t long before I had the urge to push… 3 or 4 pushes and he was out! 

We got to the hospital at 8pm and baby S was born at 9.02pm, weighing in at 7lb. Honestly can’t believe how quick it was!

He was placed on me straight away but I was wearing a t-shirt so not sure if we had that true skin-on-skin moment… It’s all a bit hazy as…

I hadn’t torn this time but while the midwife was doing the agpar tests, I remember feeling so woozy, and I was still getting painful contractions. She got the doctor in and between them they removed some blood clots from my womb which is what was causing the pain. My OH said this was worse to see than the birth or placenta!!

Because of these clots I lost over 1.5litres of blood, so was on iron straight away (even though they should have waited 3 days apparently) and hooked up to a hormone for 4 hours (can’t remember why!) in the recovery ward. 

S hadn’t latched straight away like W did, and he cried a fair bit but also slept a fair bit. We moved down to the main ward about 6am where we chilled out for the day. A couple of times they helped me get him to latch and we also gave him colostrum via a syringe.

Even though I wasn’t quite convinced that breastfeeding was established, and could have stayed in, I wanted to come home and so we did about 5-6pm and he got to meet his big brother W, and auntie🙂

Overall, it was a much quicker experience than my first, much less pain/discomfort post-birth but also we got this huge sense of relief that he was ok, after all the scare warnings we’d had during pregnancy and the small chance that he might have a genetic disorder…. Our gorgeous second-born boy was here… And healthy… And perfect 😍