27 November 2015

Introducing Everly Rose...

Introducing our darling baby girl, Everly Rose, born on Friday 20th November at 8.07pm, weighing 8lbs 3oz.

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After writing my 40 week pregnancy update, and going along to our last OB appointment where we booked an induction for the following week, Everly decided she didn't want to wait any longer and arrived right on her due date! It was an intense and traumatic 2 hour labour which only just saw me giving birth in a delivery room, after being rushed from triage where I'd started pushing shortly after arriving at the hospital. It was a frantic and frightening experience - far from what I had envisioned her birth to be, but I'm slowly coming to terms with it, and although her fast entrance into the world may have been a shock, we are so relieved she arrived safely and healthy.

We have fallen in love with her tufts of dark silky hair, her delicate long fingers, the dimple in her right cheek and her softs mews and murmurings. Henry simply adores her and has been so gentle and loving, softly stroking her head and asking to cuddle her, which causes him to shriek with delight! We're so happy to have Everly home with us, and I feel so blessed to have a newborn to cherish again. I can't wait to discover who she becomes...

22 November 2015

Etsy Baby Girl Buys

Etsy is my go-to place for finding unique and beautiful handcrafted items. And once we knew we were having a little girl, I was there searching for special items to fill her nursery with. From tiny shoes and adorable blankets, to play tents for a sparking a wild imagination and sweet words to fill the walls, Etsy has everything my heart desires when it comes to creating a special haven for our sweet little one. Here's my latest lust list... let me know if you have any favourite Etsy stores.


20 November 2015

The Third Trimester + 40 Week Pregnancy Update

Here I am at 40 weeks pregnant, and I am so ready to meet our little girl. By this point with Henry, he'd already been with us for a few days, so it feels strange to be waiting for her arrival still. Over the last few weeks I've had a couple of episodes of contractions lasting an hour or so and then stopping, which has been frustrating as we get excited thinking the big day has arrived! We really believed she would arrive earlier than Henry but here we are, on my due date and still waiting. We have an appointment with our OB later today and we'll be deciding when I'll be induced - it feels very surreal to know we'll be holding our baby in our arms in the next few days!

We recently had a tour of the maternity and postpartum wards in the hospital and left feeling very impressed with the large hotel-like suites which featured en-suite bathrooms, beds for the dads and TVs - very different from the basic NHS facilities. With the prospect of labour drawing closer, I've been thinking about the kind of birth I want, and after having no pain relief whatsoever with Henry, not even gas and air, I've decided to opt for an epidural this time. The pain was so utterly draining and immobilizing with Henry, and I remember wondering why on earth I wouldn't choose to be free from such horrendous pain, so I'm looking forward to experiencing a birth where I will hopefully have more energy and be able to remember more details.

I must admit, it will be a relief to give birth and bid farewell to my pregnant body. Whether it's because it's my third pregnancy, or that I have an energetic toddler to chase after this time around, the third trimester has really taken its toll on my body and I've struggled more and more as it's progressed. Walking, sitting, bending - it all hurts. SPD paired with lower back pain, hip pain and a bout of sciatica have meant the last few months have been spent hobbling around and crying out in pain. Add in the heartburn, Braxton Hicks and exhaustion and it's not been pleasant, but as always, I would gladly endure all these symptoms for a healthy, living baby at the end, and I feel blessed every day to be carrying our precious child.

How far along? 40 weeks

Total weight gain: 22lbs

Stretch marks? A few tiny ones have popped up on my left hip - the same place I got them with Henry - but none to report on my bump. 

Medical: I stopped taking progesterone at 36 weeks as planned, and I've had my vaccinations. Here in the USA they test for Group B Strep at 35 weeks, but as they picked up on it earlier on, I'll automatically be having antibiotics during labour, as I did with Henry. The weekly biophysical profiles have been going well, it's been lovely to see our baby girl every Friday and hear that everything is going well, and I love hearing her heartbeat during the non stress tests. 

Sleep: Sleep isn't going too well, as it's so painful turning over, and then there's the incessant heartburn and the often uncomfortable movements of our little one.

Movement: This little one loves to move around, which is very reassuring. At each appointment, the sonographer comments on how active she is and we watch with fascination as my tummy rolls with her knee and elbow movements. Her most active time is when I go to bed each night - she wants to party and keep me awake!

Nursery: The nursery is almost complete, we just need to put a few shelves up and style the cute decor I've collected over the past few months. I love spending time in there and it's quickly become my favourite room in the house. I know we'll have lots of fun in there together, despite us planning on her sleeping in our room for the first 6 months, as Henry did. After spending an absolute age researching organic mattresses, cribs and co-sleepers, I finally settled on a BabyBay. We used a moses basket for Henry but I wasn't able to see him or hear very well, so I loved the appeal of having a crib that attached to our bed and this time I'm much more aware of the importance of buying organic. I'll be writing a review later to discuss the benefits of using a co-sleeper and organic bedding for little ones, which will hopefully be useful for other pregnant mamas.

So with the hospital bags packed, my parents ready and waiting to look after Henry when we leave for the hospital and all the baby paraphernalia around the house - we're ready for you baby girl!

11 October 2015

Our Family Beach Maternity Shoot

When we planned our recent holiday to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to have some beautiful beach maternity photos taken right by the ocean. There is something so serene and beautiful about being by the sea, and with the warm glow of the sunset, it was just the perfect place for a pregnancy shoot.

I wanted a few special photos of just me and baby girl which I could cherish and show her when she's older, then I wanted to capture our family together. Our current little unit, plus my blossoming bump, and of course William and Noah who we always carry in our hearts. I wore my necklace with their initials as a way to include them in the photo shoot.

We were a little apprehensive about taking Henry along - he has a love/hate relationship with the beach, and he doesn't always cooperate for photos, but as soon as we met out lovely photographer Whitney, he was smitten. He absolutely adored her - he wanted cuddles with her constantly and he was all smiles for the camera. Some people just have a way with children, and she put us all right at ease.

We excitedly awaited for our photos to be sent through to us, and when they dropped into my inbox, we were overwhelmed with how beautiful they were. Whitney has a true talent and I'm so glad we chose to invest in capturing such a special time in our lives. They will always be something I look back on with fond memories, and they captured our family dynamic perfectly.

Photographs by Whitney Norko

4 October 2015

Henry at 23 Months

With Henry's 2nd birthday just one week away, I thought I'd quickly capture his development over the last month before his big day. It is amazing to see him constantly evolving and learning, and it is with awe that I watch him each day, as he learns new things and finds joy in his latest abilities. I love the toddler stage - witnessing our little boy become his own person and discovering his individuality is just a joy and I feel so blessed to have him in our lives. He has brought a new meaning to love and happiness. 

Character: Henry is a little chatterbox, talking to me constantly throughout the day, telling me what he's doing or seeing, and having conversations with himself and his toys as he plays. He has such a charismatic character - very expressive both verbally and facially, and so cheery and enthusiastic about everything. His sweet nature means he gets a lot of attention when we're out and about - charming people with the funny things he says and saying 'bye bye' with a happy wave to everyone we see as we're leaving. It's lovely to see him bringing smiles and joy to other people, as well as ourselves. He is like a ray of light when he enters a room.

Health: We recently took Henry to a paediatrician for his 2 year checkup. Being in the US, the vaccination schedule is very different, which meant poor Henry was due for 5 injections. I was a nervous wreck in the waiting room, almost on the edge of tears, but much to our relief, Henry simply let out a surprised 'ooh!' and arched his back each time the nurse inserted a needle. There were no tears from him at all, and he was overjoyed with his lollipop and superhero plasters which he received afterwards. As we left, he even exclaimed, 'doctor, fun!' much to our amazement! We were so proud of our brave little boy.

Weight/Height: 35" tall and 28lbs - 91st centile for height and 50th for weight

Sleep: Still a solid 12 hours sleep each night and an afternoon nap. Matt's parents recently came to stay for a week and Henry refused to nap AT ALL, which was a nightmare and resulted in a lot of tantrums from an exhausted little boy. Thankfully he went right back to having his usual 2 hour nap once they'd left. Phew - this pregnant mama needs that daily nap as much as Henry!

Likes: Henry adores monster trucks, police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. He loves to chase other children and has fits of giggles as he does so. He loves going to the park and especially going down the slides. Playgroup and the library are favorite places of his to visit and he recently started a weekly football class which he attends with daddy on the weekend, which fulfills his love for running really fast! He's still smitten for babies and always smiles and says, 'awww' when he sees one!

Milestones: We unexpectedly started potty training a few months ago. We thought we'd buy one to have around the house so Henry could get used to it, but he showed so much interest that we told him what it was for and read a few books about it together, and lo and behold, he started to use it! He seems to have lost interest for the time being, and we don't want to push it on him, so we'll wait a few months before trying properly.

Henry's speech is developing so rapidly that I can't keep up, he's learning multiple new words every day, repeats everything and he's stringing together more and more words into three or four word sentences. He can now count to seven and name a few letters of the alphabet, which is so endearing to hear.

We finally transitioned him out of using a sleeping bag for naps and bedtime, but he only used a pillow and blanket a handful of times before refusing to sleep with them, so it's simply PJ's to keep him warm for now. We're hoping to make the move to a toddler bed soon, but we'll wait until after the baby is born so there's not much too much change at once.

The little things we love:
- When I sneeze and he calls out, 'bless mama.'
- The way we wait for daddy to return from work and Henry always greets him with such delight - a loud shriek, an exclamation of 'dada!' as he runs to the door and a giant hug.
- When we're enjoying a cuddle and he turns to me and says 'ohh, mama,' as he snuggles up even closer.
- How I can be spend just a few minutes away from him and he greets me with a huge grin and hugs and kisses when I return, as if he's not seen me for days!
- The way he leans in really close to my face, and with a naughty smile and holding his hands to his lips, whispers 'caaake!'
- Those beautiful blonde curls and big blue eyes - he's our little angel