Amy Antoinette - A Motherhood & Lifestyle Blog

23 May 2016

Our Baby Bedtime Routine

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EveryoneSleeps #CollectiveBias

Every parent lives in hope for the moment their baby sleeps through the night. With Henry, sleep was a battle when he suffered with silent reflux, but once it was under control at 12 weeks, he was a dream baby and slept for a solid 12 hours. Then Everly came along, and we happily celebrated when she slept through the night at just 8 weeks old. Little did we know that her 8 hour spell was never to be repeated!

Although she still wakes a few times at night to nurse, I know that having a good bedtime routine makes a difference in how well she sleeps. We've had a simple routine in place for a couple of months now, so that Everly knows when bedtime is approaching. Here's how it goes... 

1) Bath Time - Everly adores her bath time, she always gets excited with anticipation when we approach the bathroom. I like to make sure it's warm in there before I undress her and give her a quick clean with Huggies Natural Care Wipes. I love these as they're made of 99% water, so they're gentle on her delicate skin, yet thick enough to clean any messes with their triple clean layers. Everly always calms and quietens when we place her in the water, so it's an ideal way to wind down in the evenings.  I always finish her bath by giving her a little baby massage to keep her dry skin hydrated. 

 2) Diaper & PJ's - We pop the nightlight on in Everly's nursery, then change her into a Huggies OverNites Diaper before placing her in her nightclothes. I've tried one too many diapers that have leaked during the night, which make the whole getting up in the night scenario all the more unpleasant, for both the parents and baby. So I like that the Huggies OverNites wick away layer and snug fit waistband provide maximum leakage protection for up to 12 hours (we live in hope!), so Everly's skin is kept dry and she can get a peaceful night’s sleep. The Disney designs are pretty cute, too!

 3) Reading - Then it's time for cuddles and a bedtime story. Henry has always loved books, so we wanted to introduce Everly to reading from an early age, too. Our favourites are Snuggle Bunny, When The World Was Waiting For You, and Pat the Bunny. She loves to try and turn the pages!

 4) Nursing - Time for Everly's last feed, with only the glow from her little toadstool night light illuminating us.

 5) Lights Out - If all has gone well, Everly nurses to sleep and I place her in her crib, but sometimes she requires a little rocking and shushing before she drifts off into a milky slumber.

Let me know how you get a full night's sleep with your little one!

P.S. Here's a coupon you can use to stock up on Huggies OverNites Diapers (we purchase ours at Target)

17 May 2016

Five Months with Everly Rose

Was there ever a sweeter vision than the gentle curve of those soft cheeks, those long lashes that frame those deep blue eyes that have given me insight into myself, and those delicate rosebud lips that find me. Everly has been with us for five months in person, and with each day she shows us more of her soul. When she is herself, she is quiet and at ease. She gives smiles and giggles readily, brightening the day of all those who see her. She reaches for cuddles and loves being sung to, hearing the sweet lullabies of her newborn days. When Matt brings her to me, her face lights up, she kicks in delight and I feel so very blessed to be her mama.

My little girl buries herself in the curve of my neck, and I breathe in her sweet scent, the softness of her delicate wisps of hair tickling my nose. She is our real life doll, with her perfect little face that I am so in awe of. She's earned the nicknames Pudding, on account of her plump round cheeks, and Cricket, due to her love of rubbing her feet together.

Her innocence and newness fascinates me, the juxtaposition of her paired with her rambunctious, precocious and very gregarious big brother. I love to watch her watch the world, her eyes turning to things that capture her interest, her hands seeking to explore objects and items that interest her 5 month old mind. I am witnessing, again, the beginning of a person and a unique personality, and there is nothing else like it. I am watching her interests grow, and her inquisitive nature develop. I am witnessing first hand, minute by minute, the growing of her soul.

When she chooses to use her voice, she coos softly, a melody to our ears, as if she is singing. She finds joy in bouncing one leg and shaking her rattles. Shrieks of delight fill the room. She has whims and desires, as real as an old soul,  and I am captivated by it. This insatiable charm that holds such power over me, as I absorb every facial expression; the uneven curl of a smile, the jut of her bottom lip before the tears come, the raised eyebrows that divulge the unexpected joy of a fleeting moment.

She is the quiet warm edge of our family unit, sometimes overlooked but ever present. Henry reaches for kisses, stroking her hair that is forever wild, as if it's trying to drift up and away into the clouds. The two of them clasp hands and she gazes up at him. They laugh together and I am reminded that those infinite hard motherhood moments are worth even just a second of these blissful moments, when your babies are together, interacting and loving each other. 

She has always had a place in our hearts, and now she has a place at our table. How did that happen so soon? Her petite body on the peripheral of our family dining, her presence small but powerful. I cannot believe she has been with us for so long, yet so little. And here we are, on the perimeter of introducing her to a whole new world of taste and sensation, when all she has known is the sweet milk of her mother. I am excited in anticipation for the delights in store for her. We will explore and learn together. 

Everly. Our Everly Rose. My darling girl, how you have grown into your name as you have grown into my heart. It has settled with you along with those sweet rolls on your thighs, and now it fits you so perfectly. As if there was never any doubt. It was who you were meant to be. Before we even knew you. Before you were made. 

You are blossoming day by day and it is a joy to behold. Your touch is illuminating, it grounds me and reminds me why I am here. Being your mother. 

You are a gift and I have found you.

10 May 2016

Life With Two Children

Life with two children is busy. And exhausting. As a stay-at-home mama, my day is a balancing act between meeting the needs of three people. It is a never-ending cycle of nursing, diaper changes, toddler tantrums, meal preparation, rocking to sleep, playing, tidying up, washing clothes and folding laundry.

It's also laughter and silliness, cuddles and kisses, the joy of watching your children interact - sometimes with giggles, sometimes with tears.  It's finding fun in the mundane things, it's looking at the world through your child's eyes and finding joy in the simplest of things; the arrival of a parcel, a song that makes you get up and dance, watching a spider build a web.

It's an emotional rollercoaster. Some days are great, like when the stars align and Henry and Everly nap at the same time, and then other days are downright difficult, like when Henry is having constant tantrums and Everly is super fussy and WILL NOT SLEEP, and then she finally drifts off in my arms, and I'm just about to make the tentative transition to her crib, and of course that is the moment that Henry bursts into her nursery to tell me he can't find his blue tow truck. The days where there is literally NO break? Those are very tough.

When you have a toddler and a baby, it's all about making life that little bit easier. I love discovering baby gadgets that help make parenting quicker and more simplistic. So when I was putting Everly's nursery together, I was looking for items that were functional but also stylish. Thankfully Henry is now potty trained, so I only have Everly's diapers to deal with, but if you're a parent you'll know that a diaper pail is THE essential item in a nursery.

Munchkin's Step Diaper Pail is sleek in design and unobtrusive, which is ideal because although a diaper pail is a nursery necessity, it's not something you want to stand out. The white stainless steel fits in nicely with the look of Everlys nursery, but most importantly of all, it does its job well. The step pedal makes it simple to use, and it's effective at preventing odors from escaping with its lavender scented baking soda and self-sealing systems that works by twisting the bag shut as the lid closes. I also love that it features a childproof locking system, because I quickly discovered that Henry loves delving in there in his attempt at helping. And the elongated design means I don't have to bend over to make the drop, which as a tall mama is a small mercy. When you already have a bad back from nursing and baby wearing around the clock, every little helps! It's made diaper changes one less thing to worry about and it looks good paired with the rest of Everly's nursery furniture.

So yes, life with two is intense! Some days we don’t get out of our pajamas until after midday. Other days we're up and out of the house early for one of Henry's toddler classes. It's all part of the ups and downs of motherhood.

In collaboration with Munchkin

25 April 2016

How to Overcome A Traumatic Birth Experience

Traumatic birth experiences. As if childbirth isn't emotionally and physically difficult enough as it is, there's those who will have a birth experience that will leave them traumatised, and possibly with PTSD. I've been unfortunate in that all three of my birth experiences have been traumatic - enduring 12 hours of labour with William and Noah, knowing that they would die soon after their birth; the anxiety during Henry's labour and the fear for his safety when the neonatal team arrived due to meconium being present; and the very fast and intense experience of precipitous labour with Everly. 

Interestingly, it was only after my daughter's birth that the trauma of the experience affected me. Perhaps it is the culmination of three traumatic birth experiences, perhaps it's solely down to the way hers unfolded that was so different to my expectations, but either way, despite all of them being distressing experiences, it is her birth that has stayed with me, keeping me up at night as I replay it in my mind. 

Precipitous labor is the medical term for labour that lasts less than 3 hours from the start of contractions to delivery. The contractions are intense - your body is going from zero to 10 centimeters at an extremely fast pace, and for labour to be completed in such a short length of time, the contractions are continuous and extremely long and intense right from the start, with no time to administer pain relief. I had no time to process my labour. One minute I was experiencing my first contraction, the next I had arrived at hospital with less than a minute between them and begging for someone to help me. I felt out of control, helpless and fearful.

Those are my experiences of traumatic births. There are a number of other events that can contribute to a traumatic birth experience. A lengthy labour or a short and very painful labour. Induction, poor pain relief, feelings of loss of control, high levels of medical intervention, emergency deliveries, impersonal treatment, not being listened to, fear for baby's safety, stillbirth, or baby’s stay in the SCBU or NICU. For parents, events around their baby’s birth may have been confusing, unexpected or unplanned.

Here are a number of ways that have personally helped me and I hope can aid others in recovering from a traumatic birth experience...

Writing is such a cathartic process. It may be difficult, but it allows you to process your thoughts and clarify how you feel and pinpoint the particularly difficult parts. I write down my thoughts through my blog - sometimes I publish them, other times they stay in draft form. Jot down thoughts in a notebook, write in a journal or pen a letter to yourself. I found it particularly helpful to write out Everly's birth story and detail what had happened, step-by-step.

I believe in the power of tears. Let the tears come - don't suppress the emotions. Disappointment, sadness and grief all manifest through tears, and it the ultimate release. Only 30 minutes after arriving in hospital, I lay in bed with my newborn daughter in my arms and I cried due to the shock I was in over the whirlwind of events that had just taken place. I needed to let those tears come and acknowledge the disappointment I felt that yet another birth had become an unpleasant experience.

Whether it's with medical staff, the person who was present with you at the birth, a doula, or a counsellor, talking is a form of therapy, and an ideal way to explore your memories, feelings and thoughts surrounding a traumatic birth. When I was seeking out information about overcoming a traumatic birth experience, I discovered Birth Afterthoughts - a confidential service in the UK that provides an opportunity to discuss and understand what happened during the labour and birth process. It's the perfect opportunity to have any questions answered and fully understand the medical assessment and decision making process that took place.

Request Birth Notes
It's likely that the labour and birth were very different to your expectations and the plans you made during pregnancy.  In the moment, you may not have had time to process what was happening, or the reasoning behind it, so reading over the birth notes at your own pace, in your own environment, can allow you to fill in any blanks and help you come to terms with the sequence of events.

Make a Complaint
This may not be applicable for every traumatic birth experience, but if you were treated in a poor manner, it can help provide closure and healing. William and Noah's birth was traumatic for obvious reasons, but with Everly's birth, the way I was dealt with contributed to the trauma I experienced. I should not have been treated the way that I was, and I don't want any other women to ever have that experience, either. The nurse in triage didn't check to see how dilated I was, she didn't check our baby's heartbeat, she didn't monitor my contractions, she refused to give me pain relief, and ultimately she did not believe that I was in labour until Everly's head was crowning. And this was despite informing her that my waters had broken with meconium present, and that I had tested positive for Group B Strep and needed antibiotics asap. No woman should feel so disregarded that she ends up pleading for help, and I will be lodging a complaint with the hospital.

Support Groups
It can be a huge helping talking to others who have been through the same, or a similar, experience. Search for Facebook Groups, find charities who offer support forums, or look for groups that meet locally. Getting in touch with other women who have experienced a traumatic birth gives you access to people who are able to hear, acknowledge and understand your experiences. Their support and understanding can be invaluable, especially as your closest friends and relatives are often unable to provide that level of comfort and comprehension.

Have you experienced a traumatic birth?  Let me know what helped you recover from it.

20 April 2016

10 Natural Teething Remedies

Excessive drooling, red cheeks, irritability, constant gnawing on fingers and toes.... these are all the symptoms of teething and mean your little one is getting ready to sprout those first tiny milk teeth.  When it comes to teething, I prefer to reach for natural remedies over medication, and I've tried an assortment of different products in the search of something that will help ease the pain of my little one's suffering. These are my 10 favourite natural teething remedies which I can always rely on to provide some relief for those sore gums...

1. Camilia Teething Relief Camilia is a natural one-product solution that contains no benzocaine, sugar, dyes or preservatives. I love the convenient single-use liquid oral doses, they're sterile and so easy to administer.

2. Comotomo Silicone Teether Both my little ones loved to chomp on their itty bitty fingers, but it can leave them looking a little red and sore, which is why I love the Comotomo Teether.  It's perfectly designed for little hands to hold and features multiple baby-finger-shaped biting points to chew on. It's easy enough for even little baba's to use, plus it's made of 100% safe medical-grade silicone.

3. Bickiepegs Teething Biscuits These were a favourite with Henry. These hard, finger shaped biscuits are perfect to bite down on, and I love that they don't contain sugar.

4. Fox Wooden Teether This cute little teether features a clip, so it's always within reach when baby's gums need some relief.

5. Amber Necklace The premise behind these necklaces is that amber is a resin which when warmed by the body releases oils containing succinic acid – a natural pain reliever. The oils are absorbed through the skin and into the blood steam where they get to work improving immunity, relieving headaches, teething pain and reducing inflammation of the throat, ear and stomach.

6. Freezer Pop Moulds These are the perfect size for little hands to hold. Either freeze homemade fruit purees for a tasty and soothing treat, or use breastmilk if your baby is under 6 months.

7. Weleda Chamomilla Granules Made from soothing chamomile root, these granules are ideal for younger babies (they can be used from birth by being crushed and dissolved in cooled boiled  water). The base granule is made from sucrose so it won't cause problems for lactose-intolerant babies, and  they work for colic as well as teething pain.

8. Hyland's Natural Teething Tablets Just pop 2-3 of these tiny teething tablets under the tongue for fast relief. They dissolve almost immediately, so they don't pose a choking hazard, and quickly soothe baby's teething troubles.

9. Fresh Food Feeder These are great for soothing a baby's sore gums - just pop in a piece of frozen fruit and they can safely gnaw away!

10. Orajel Baby Naturals Teething Gel Containing no benzocaine, parabens, belladonna or dyes, this homeopathic formula immediately soothes irritated gums and calms restlessness.

The age old favourite of freezing a wet washcloth is also an easy and effective way of helping soothe sore gums! What are your go-to teething remedies?