Sunday, 26 April 2015

I'm a Cloth Bum Mum

It was Reusable Nappy Week last week so a tiny bit late but I thought now is a great time to talk about our experience with cloth nappies.

I always thought I'd be a cloth bum mum but early on in pregnancy decided we'd start off with disposables until we found our feet (I knew nothing about babies, see my introduction post) then switch to reusables.

When Baby D got to about 10 weeks old my hubby brought up the subject. We worked out that in her first 10 weeks of life we’d sent around 600 disposable nappies to landfill. This disturbed us somewhat, especially as we are waste haters...I'd done a little bit of research online about cloth nappies and quite frankly had gotten rather confused by all the different styles, brands and jargon. I found it all a bit too much for my little sleep deprived brain to take and had kind of chickened out of giving it a shot. He on the other hand and to my surprise had done lots of research and had decided he’d like to give it a go straight away. He ordered a couple of Close Parent Pop Ins. When they arrived I was really pleased with the lovely patterns he’d chosen: A blue and orange one with hippos on and a pink and turquoise one with Russian Dolls on. Over the next week or so we tried them, washed them, then tried them again and decided actually this is way easier than expected and ordered a couple of bundles of new generation V2 Pop Ins. They are super pretty.

When we were using disposables we'd have poop explosions that necessitated clothes changes at least 3 times a week, sometimes more. Poop all the way up Baby D's back or all up the front depending on if she was in a buggy, carrier, bed or whatnot. They also always seemed to happen in Tesco…not sure why?! Now, after 28 weeks of using them we have had 5 poonamis in total and only one of those was full on bad…in Ikea. And of course it was on the one occasion I’d forgotten to pack a spare outfit so hubby had to run off to the nearest clothes shop and buy an emergency outfit. This in my opinion is reason enough to prefer cloth never mind the environmental impact. We think we’ve stopped approximately 850 nappies going to landfill since switching to cloth and Baby D is only 9 months old. We do however use disposables at night. It’s a bit of a guilty secret. The reason being you need extra boosters in nighttime nappies which make the nappy so huge I was worried she’d be uncomfortable. We will try them in the night soon, watch this space.

The Pop Ins are birth to potty sized, you just popper them up to make them smaller and undo the the poppers to make them bigger. Baby D is now on the second-to-largest popper setting. At first they seem rather big and bulky but as baby grows the relative size decreases. We find that we have to choose trousers more carefully. H&M and Next make beautiful cloth bum worthy baby trousers. And there’s something so cute about a big cloth bum!

Something that I really notice is the smell of disposable nappies. Until we started using cloth I had no idea how much disposables smell. They stink of a weird chemically sort of smell combined with wee. Ewww. I guess it’s the absorbent gel stuff that’s in them that smells. I really like that cloth doesn’t contain any chemicals or weird smells other than the obvious. And the ones we use are made from bamboo which is naturally antibacterial.

Washing is surprisingly easy. It does however take a bit of effort and is a bit of a faff. I do a nappy wash every third day. I use non bio powder with a bit of natural nappy sanitiser and do a rinse at the end to get rid of any residual powder. They take a little while to dry but if the weather is nice out on the line they are dry in a day.

What about poop? Well, inside the nappy I use biodegradable liners made from corn starch. So, when the nappy gets pooped in you just take the liner out and flush it down the loo. Simple!

I really love cloth nappies and I feel that I’m doing my bit to prevent waste and stuff going to landfill. Baby D’s little bottom doesn’t come into contact with chemicals all the time and she looks super cute in her colourful bums. Quite a few of her baby friends also wear cloth nappies, it’s nice to have a few kindred spirits around.

Dawn x

Thursday, 16 April 2015

My favourite apps for pregnancy and parenting

As I’m sure you’re aware I’m a complete geek. I’m also married to one. So it will come as no surprise to learn that I use apps on my phone a lot. There’s five apps that I have or do use regularly that you may find useful. They are all available for iPhone but I don’t know about Android so do your research.

The best white noise app in my opinion - I’ve tried a few different ones. White noise was actually a bit of a revelation to us. We knew that it could help baby feel like they are back in the womb (sound of blood flowing) and have a calming effect but wow did it work well! We found that Baby D likes the seashore sound best. We’ve even been known to play it to her all night.
There’s a ‘lite’ free version which only allows you to play the sounds for half an hour or the paid one which is only £2.99 and is worth every penny. It’s also great being on your phone so you can tuck it in the buggy or whatnot when you’re out and about.

When I was in hospital after Baby D was born the midwives kept coming to ask me when she last fed and for how long. I had no idea. I also didn’t have pen and paper and after requesting some they never materialised. So, I went to the app store and downloaded one, it cost me £2.99. It is super simple to use, you just click at the beginning of a feed and then again at the end. It times the feed and records which side baby fed on so you don’t need to remember which boob is next. There’s also a setting for bottle feeding formula or expressed milk and you can record wet and dirty nappies, expressing, height and weight, sleep and solids. I only used the app for feeding and weight and stopped using it for feeding once breastfeeding was established. I found it super useful in the first weeks though as I could barely remember my name let alone when Baby D last fed and on which side!
There is a setting for it to remind you when to feed next, you can get it to tell remind you every few hours or work out an average. Baby D fed on demand so the reminders were not useful to me.

Who needs an expensive video monitor when you can use 2 devices and this app?! You only have to buy the app once for £2.99 and use one as the camera and one as the receiver. I use my iPad as the camera: just prop it up in the windowsill or whatnot and my iPhone as the receiver. It works anywhere with wifi so out and about in a hotel or at friends or families houses. Brilliant. 

I like this app just to keep up to date with Baby D's growth spurts etc. It's really quite accurate and helps you understand why baby is doing what they’re doing. It’s £1.49.

I wanted an app to track my pregnancy, to put photos in etc. I tried quite a few different ones but really only got on with this one. Each week it tells you what fruit or vegetable your baby is the size of. It gives you hints and tips and you can record all sorts of things like exercise, weight, scans, blood pressure, all sorts. The only down side is that because it's American some of the terminology is unfamiliar and a bit of the information about screenings and stuff is not relevant. This one is free!

I hope one or more of these are useful.

Dawn x

Sunday, 12 April 2015

I finally like my boobs! And no, it's not because they are bigger.

I've always had small boobs. It's just the way I'm built. If I put on weight the last place it goes is onto my boobs and it's the first place it leaves when I lose weight. From the waist up I'm quite scrawny and skinny...from the waist down I'm rather curvy. An English Pear. 
Dresses don't fit me because they are made for someone either with bigger breasts or smaller behinds. Only M&S stock my bra size (my rib cage is super small) and only in a few selected styles all of which are the dull kind.
I don't wear padded bras because I don't want to. I find them uncomfortable and make me a strange shape.
I often look in the mirror and see someone who is very out of proportion. Either my boobs should be bigger to counter my massive bottom or my bottom should be smaller to match my little chest. Think of if you will Keira Knightly's top half and Jennifer Lopez's bottom half.

Ever since puberty I've had people tell me I'm flat chested. Like somehow because of my little boobs I am less of a woman. That I lack femininity and it's ok to be rude to my face about it.
I worked in a pub in my late teens and early twenties. I lost count of the number of times people commented on my chest: drunken men told me I'd be "all right looking if you had a pair of tits" or an inebriated woman told me I was a "flat chested bitch" because I had the audacity to make her wait her turn to get served.
Even friends playfully jibed me..."you'll have to wear chicken fillets to fill out the outfit" and other such flippant remarks.
I was told by a dear friend that I had "absolutely nothing there. I don't know why you bother wearing a bra".
Young men in the swimming pool sniggering, I heard one call me the "ugly boobless friend". 
A work colleague once told me out of the blue that I had a massive bum to which I was speechless. She then proceeded to recommend to me that I get a boob job to balance me out. Hmmm. Thanks for that.
And most recently someone said to Baby D whilst I was there "isn't it horrible cuddling up to your mummy's bony chest?" This one hurt.
I could go on.

But, being small has its perks - pun intended. Never once have a had a man find me attractive because of my boobs. The men who think that a sizeable pair is important would never be drawn to me. I therefore generally only ever had boyfriends who liked me for who I am...or possibly my curvy derrière. My wonderful husband couldn't care less about the size of my boobies. He loves me for me. Like Mark Darcy said to Bridget Jones (sorry, guilty pleasure alert!!!) "I like you just the way you are".
I've never had anyone talk to my chest. Only about the lack of it.
I don't experience pain when I run. If I ever run...which I don't.
I don't get back pain or find it uncomfortable to lie down.

And of course the media don't really help with all these perfect women all over the place. They are always skinny with huge bosoms or skinny all over. Never like me.

So as a result I've never really liked my boobs. I wear high cut tops to try to hide them and am seldom seen in a bikini by anyone other than my family.
I made peace with them when I finally realised that my husband loves me no matter what my size. And with age I've learned that other people's opinions really don't matter.
But, it's having Baby D that has really been the game changer.
I'm a breastfeeder. Nearly 9 months in we are still going strong and she is growing well. My boobs nourish her, regulate her temperature and even help fight bugs. If she's upset or over tired they will comfort her. As if by magic they know how much milk to produce and what nutrients she needs. 
They get bigger when they are full, but the untrained eye wouldn't notice at all.
Finally my boobs are doing what they were designed to do! It's like a revelation to me.  They are being put to amazing use. I am now incredibly proud of my little halfway fruits. I never thought I could be so happy about my body. It's bloody brilliant.

Dawn x

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Something a bit different: artist Sophie Ploeg

One of my prized possessions is a print of a painting of a pregnant lady draped in sheer fabric. She looks pensive yet serene against a muted backdrop. The red fabric enveloping her brings to mind warmth and security, almost a 'womb like' embrace. It just so happens the lady in the picture is me! It was created by my amazingly talented friend Sophie Ploeg.
My pregnancy was such a special time and I feel very blessed to have this art work to mark that time and for me to cherish in years to come. And of course to show Baby D when she’s old enough to understand!
Sophie is a dutch artist living here in the West Country. 
Once you see her work you can tell she is fascinated by fabrics; especially lace and she portrays them so beautifully and realistically in her art. Her subjects are frequently women wearing or draped in these distinct textiles. She uses oils and pastels on the whole and has exhibited in many prestigious galleries such as the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and The National Portrait Gallery. In fact she won the BP Travel Award in 2013 with her ‘Lace Trail' proposal to explore how fashion and lace was represented in 17th century art, as well as in modern applications. She visited famous lace-making centres such as Bruges in Belgium and Honiton in Devon, modern lace makers and artists, antique lace collections and 17th century art collections, as well as doing literary research. Her final work was ten paintings inspired by her findings which were displayed in the BP Portrait Award 2014 exhibition.
The BP Travel Award paintings
I met Sophie thorough Severn Vale Art Trail. When I’m not on maternity leave or being mum I’m a photographer and have exhibited on the trail numerous times. Some years ago we got chatting and struck up a friendship. Since then I’ve modelled for her a few times. The first time she asked me as she’d got some beautiful authentic victorian lace clothes that she needed modelling for a painting she had in her mind’s eye. They were however tiny and as I’m rather small I was the logical choice. She got me to curl up in the cupboard under the stairs!

Her portrayal of women in her work is refreshing in that they are ordinary women - warts and all yet entirely beautiful. I always look forward to reading her next blog post to see what she has created next.

You can see her work in the flesh at various shows, click here for a link to her exhibits webpage. And you can visit her at her open studio during Severn Vale Art Trail on 2nd and 3rd May.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Sometimes this is so difficult!

I've been trying to sit down to write my next blog post for a week now. It has been such a hard thing to do.

Poor Baby D has been sick. It started off with teething and the emergence of her two first teeth...quickly followed by a nasty cold...followed by a horrible ear infection. I didn't know the true meaning of the term 'clingy child' but I certainly do now (thank goodness for slings!) There were times when I merely crouched down to pick up something off the floor thus being out of her view for a maximum 5 seconds when she'd wail in protest. Visiting the bathroom for a quick wee became a trial and naps in her cot were a no no unless I was there to hold her hand. It turns out lying down when you have an ear infection is very painful so sleep evaded her and myself for a good fortnight.

There was the odd occasion when after hours and hours I'd finally get her off for a nap and I thought I could get a bit of writing done but was thwarted by the arrival of the postman - cue (my) dogs barking like the house is under attack or the telephone ringing only to find it's one of the super annoying automated messages about injury compensation or other such rubbish and waking Baby D. Then I'd be back to square one.

Also gone are the days where Baby D would happily breastfeed whilst I did a spot of emailing, writing or social media on my tablet or phone. Now as soon as anything gets anywhere near her she's off the boob and trying to grab the sparkly, shiny, glowing thing. She's on the edge of crawling too...

And, lastly when I do successfully sit down at the laptop one or both of the dogs have to come and 'help'...

So I apologise for the radio silence recently. It certainly won't be the last time but rest assured I am trying! Uh oh, she's just woken up...

Dawn x