The Breast-Laid Plans

I absolutely love a plan. It does not necessarily have to be my plan, I am happy to go along with anyone’s plan really, I’m not a control freak I just like to know what’s going on. 

Cass is not into my plans and he makes this known. The uncertainty of parenthood is something that I’m still trying to get my head around, I just don’t know what’s coming next and I found this so hard in the beginning.

My birth plan had some, let’s say, last minute adjustments, as did our sleeping arrangements and my plans for introducing food didn’t go too well either. One thing I thought I was sure of though was breast feeding. 

I found breast feeding tough. Initially, it was the pain. I was in so much pain I ended up exclusively pumping at three weeks. At five weeks though the pain eased and we got into the swing of things. It has been an absolute roller coaster of emotions and at times so tough. I thought I knew what I was doing but again, it was in no way like I imagined. I was very lucky I received a lot of support from the midwives at the Salford Birth Centre and at a local feeding group. Not many women have this, no matter how they choose to feed their child.

I had planned to feed Cass until he was two. I thought that this was a done deal, babies love milk and I thought it would be me who may eventually crack and have to change the plan. A couple of weeks before Cass turned one he started to lose interest when being fed, he was easily distracted and began to push me away. I initially thought it may have been his teeth coming through or the heat, but as the days went on I noticed he wasn’t really taking any milk apart from first thing in the morning, when he was really hungry.

Shortly after Cass’s 1st birthday I made the decision to stop feeding him breast milk. At the time I thought ‘Cass is ready, I am ready.’ I had given it 100% for a year. I thought I’d be celebrating. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be, it was really tough. My hormones were all over the place, my supply went into over drive I ended up getting mastitis pretty badly. It was so painful and the only advice I could find was to feed or pump through it. 
I couldn’t feed Cass, I didn’t want to confuse him by making him take the milk just to ease my discomfort. Every time I pumped I could feel my milk come in and it was making it worse. I ended up on a course of antibiotics and tried to hand pump a small amount every couple of hours and eventually it died down. 

Cass on the other hand was totally ready. I had prepared myself for screaming and crying at bedtime and tantrums through out the day. I thought he would struggle and we would just go back to feeding. But no, he’s not even asked. I thought co-sleeping would definitely cause us problems too, but if anything he’s actually sleeping (a bit) better. At last. 

I do feel that stopping breast feeding so abruptly has a huge affect on your mental heath. My hormones were all over the place and I genuinely struggled. I think more women should be made aware if this. Mothers who choose not to breast feed at any point after labour must be going through these emotions, this on top of everything else is really tough and no one makes new mothers aware of it. 

I try to not worry about the planning anymore. I’m just getting through one day at a time and enjoying every moment. I’ll waste my life away planning for things that may never come, it feels so liberating to just let go.

I can tell that we are gonna be friends 

The people we know and meet make us who we are. I have many close friends from my past who know me better than I know myself, but new adventures and life events bring along new friendships. 

The beginning of motherhood can often be seen as quite a lonely time. Even when I went to baby groups and sessions I sometimes found that all I was doing was sitting in a corner staring at Cass and hoping that I’d meet someone who enjoyed my taste in music, fashion or sense of humour. Sometimes though it’s tough to break free of the ‘mum’ label and identify with those around us, especially in the early days. 

As life brings new experiences it also changes you. That doesn’t mean that I have had to forget who I was, I just like to think it adds to who I am. Part of me is happy that I am a little bit ‘Old Lucy’ and a little bit ‘Mum Lucy’. After 12 months I am happy to be wearing some of my pre-pregnancy clothes (really fucking happy) but I am also ok with the fact that I still wear my size 18 maternity knickers. They’re bloody comfy. 

My friends from before I had Cass are amazing and I love them, they form an important part of me, but life is ever changing and it’s important to make time for new people and friends too. I feel that as a woman and as a human I am constantly learning and evolving, I have learned so much from the fantastic people that I have had around me over the past 12 months.

Baby wearing not only gave me a wonderful way to bond and care for Cass, it also gave me an amazing, strong, fierce group of ‘mum’ friends. These wise women have helped and supported me more than they could ever know. 

This afternoon Jess from SUPU invited Cass and I to take part in a photo shoot with a group of our pals! It was an amazing experience and an absolute honour to be part of. Thanks so much Jess, we love you, can’t wait to see the photos. 

Here are a few sneaky snaps of my own ❤️

Now you are one

When I used to hear people say that their baby’s first birthday was coming up and they felt emotional, I’d think that they must be bonkers, but as Cass’s first birthday grows closer I feel like an emotional wreck, and yes, slightly bonkers.

What a year, I never thought such a tiny little thing could teach me so much. My heart could burst with love for this small human that has entered our lives. We are so lucky to be parents to a gorgeous, funny, healthy little boy. There have been times when I have felt that I have been pushed to the absolutely edge and there have been days and nights where I’ve thought that there is no way I’m going to get through this. Having a new baby has been exhausting, both mentally and physically but we have over come things that I never thought possible and I have learned so much about myself and other people.

My relationship with my husband has never been so strong, yes we probably talk a bit less and scroll a bit more, but looking after Cass has been the ultimate team building exercise. Not only have we shown the naysayers that you CAN make a fiat 500, a small baby and massive Doberman work. We have also become experts in surviving on 30 minutes sleep and have learned every single word to The Jungle Book sound track. 

As I look back over the past year, I remember exactly what was happened on this day twelve months ago and yes it is very emotional, I mourn for the excitement and uncertainty of what kind of parents we thought we would be and what our tiny little baby would show us, but as he grows his little personality is coming through and it has been amazing to see him change. 

This year has been full of emotions and terrifyingly amazing things and although I feel like we have reached a mile stone and the end of something, there is still so much more to go. Here’s to surviving the first year as three. 
Happy Birthday my amazing little Cass. 

The Best Laid (birth) Plans

I was determined to not be afraid of giving birth, as a woman I felt that I’d spent my whole life being informed of the horrors of pushing a small human being out of my vagina. That the agonising pain, like nothing on earth, would destroy me and I would never feel anything like it again, jokingly adding that it all would be worth it. Did it have to be this way? Why so much pain and fear?

My only experience of birth was from TV and movies. Often shown as rapid events consisting of lots of drama, pain, pushing, screaming, panic, more pain and blood. Yes, some of these elements are present during child birth but it’s not always like it is on the television or in the movies. 

I suppose I stuck my head in the sand. I didn’t want to know about the horror and the potential risks. It wasn’t that I was ignorant to it, I obviously knew that things may go wrong and medical intervention may be needed, but what good would worrying or preparing for the worst do? I felt it was more important to look for a positive birth experience and educate myself in the process. At the end of the day I trusted my body and the medical professionals, if something went wrong we’d deal with it head on rather than prepare for the worst possible outcome.

I read a lot about ‘Active Birth’ and the importance of keeping the body moving during pregnancy and labour, the role that oxytocin plays during child birth and the different stages of labour. Some basic science really helped me get my head around what a baby goes through to be born and how I could help make that journey a bit easier.

Again I found a lot of the birth preparation classes heavily focussed on the negatives. Pain relief, induction and what to do when things go wrong were the hot topics. After spending some time searching for alternatives, a friend recommended Hypnobirthing and we attended classes with The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme. 

I think Will wondered what I’d signed him up for, but we genuinely learned a lot about what other choices are out there for people. Hypnobirthing taught me a lot about managing situations, rationalising and making my own calm, informed decisions when it came to birth. We didn’t want to be another statistic with a ‘best fit’ birth plan, we wanted to do this in the way that worked best for us and our baby.

I was fit, healthy and low risk so I suggested a home birth. It just felt right, I like my house and I liked the idea of being close to my fridge and bed. I didn’t need any planned interventions or medication so it seemed silly to take up a bed in hospital when everything I needed was in my home.

Will was less easy to convince, it wasn’t an immediate no but just a wall of silence. For him, it was a lot to take it. I suppose deep down it was something I wanted to do as soon as I became pregnant but understandably he wanted to know that me and Cass were both going to be safe.

We had a pool in our kitchen and a plan in place. Will had stocked up on snacks and drinks and we were ready to go. I waited with excitement for the contractions to begin. They did begin but something didn’t feel quite right, the pain was constant, there were no breaks in between each contraction just horrific pain. After 17 hours of labour, 5 hours in the pool, enough gas and air to sedate a donkey and 2 paracetamol, I was 4cm dilated. My spirit had been broken.

A new midwife arrived and she took one look at me and said that the baby was ‘back to back’ which explained the constant pain. At this point Cass still needed to turn to get into the correct position and this could take 2 hours or 10 hours. I was so tired and felt deranged from the pain. I was being sick and felt like I needed to get out of my house. I told the midwife I wanted to go to the hospital, I wanted all the drugs, I wanted him to be sucked out or I wanted a cesarean. She told me to stop over reacting, everything was fine, he was just taking a bit longer to get here.

In my head though I knew that I needed a change of scenery, my lovely home suddenly felt small and claustrophobic, it smelled strange and there were too many people. The wonderful midwife made a few phone calls and pulled a few strings and it was decided that I could go to the midwifery led birthing unit in Salford. There were no drugs available and I definitely wouldn’t be getting my recent elective cesarean but it was a change of scenery. 

We arrived at the Midwifery Unit at Salford Royal at 2pm and after a few more demands for ‘all the drugs’ and a small amount of ‘I told you a wanted a cesarean’ Cassius Edwin came into the world at 3pm. There was no drama, no fierce pushing and no panic. 

During those final 15 minutes after my waters had broken I listened to my body, I breathed though the final contractions and rested when they dulled. I remembered everything I had learned through the Active Birth and Hypnobirthing classes, about breathing my baby out and putting my body in an optimum position for birth. 

After we were both checked over we were allowed to go home. My husband and the staff at Salford Royal Midwifery Unit were unbelievable. I didn’t get the birth that I had ‘planned’ for but I did get the birth that was right for me and my baby. I had learned enough before hand to understand my body and realise what I needed to do. Luckily I had a fantastic midwife who helped me when I lost sight of what I wanted but during those final 15 minutes I felt calm and in control. 

Not everything goes to plan during child birth and not everyone has a choice. But I don’t think many women are encouraged to look for other opinions and move away from a traditional ‘best fit’ birth plan. I encourage all parents to ask questions about what is available to them. 

Women should be made to feel confident about child birth, not scared. 

For My Husband 

Three years ago we had just bought our first home, both returned to University to follow our dreams and you had proposed to me in the middle of our rubble filled kitchen. Everything was exciting and a little scary but we had each other and it was amazing. At the start of Winter I found out I was pregnant, it was fantastic news that added to the chaos and excitement of everything else that was going on in our lives. You quietened my anxieties with your calm, positive outlook on everything. Telling me, all we needed was each other, together we are strong. You knew that we could do this. 

Just before Christmas you collected me from a placement that I had at a school in Manchester. It was cold and it had been raining, at the time we had a second hand electric blue Peugeot 206, I loved that car. I was so tired but Christmas was nearly here and everyone was coming to us for Christmas dinner. I don’t remember much about the car crash, I remember being hysterical, I remember a lady taking me into the back of her car out of the rain, I remember sitting in a waiting room full of pregnant women waiting for a scan only to be told that our baby was no longer there. But you held me, you told me everything was going to be ok, we have each other and together we are strong.

The following months were hell. I was broken, nothing prepared me for the emotional hell that follows a miscarriage. I couldn’t function, but you were strong despite your pain. You were strong for me, you looked after me for months. A depression took over me, but you were there, you were my rock.

Now we are married, we have a beautiful baby boy, life is wonderful, hard and tiring but wonderful still. You have been there through everything, all the weirdness of pregnancy, the beauty of birth and the drama of breast feeding. You have supported my every decision and every idea and allowed me to be the mother I wanted to be to our little boy. 

You have supported, listened and cared for me even though at times you have been broken and in pain. Together we are strong and we’ll always have each other. 

Hubertine Joséphine B. En Jean

A very good friend of mine sent me to The Wrap Show with some words of advice, pick up a Hubertine. I had heard of the brand before but I had never tried any Hubertine wraps, so I was unsure. Stupidly I didn’t follow the advice of my good friend and came away Hubertine-less.

Luckily a wonderful lady contacted me online to let me know that she had managed to get herself Josèphine B. En Jean and would I like to borrow it for a few weeks. Obviously I couldn’t say no.

Hubertine is a French company, it was originally established by two mothers with a love and passion for babywearing and textiles. Atelier 
Hubertine wraps are created by French craftspeople at every step of production. The wraps are woven in a family run workshop using traditional jacquard weaving techniques. Hubertine maintains the highest standards, demanding the best and most beautiful products. 

Joséphine B. en Jean does not disappoint, it is the most beautiful wrap that I have ever used. The blend 84% cotton and 16% merino is perfect, the wrap weighs 300gsm, feels thin in hand but is supportive and has a strength like nothing I’ve seen before. 

The colours shine and glow, and the intricate and detailed trade mark design looks exquisite in this colour way. The wrap glides into place and holds like a bandage. The blend combined with the relief from the design, ensures that the wrap stays in place. 

The weather has been so beautiful but very hot over the past week. I found En Jean cool and breathable, which for me is an important factor when considering which wraps I will use over the Summer. Cass gets hot very quickly and easily becomes agitated and upset when even slightly warm. He remained cool on my back in a double Hammock, and dozed off immediately. 

I am so glad that I got to try Hubertine, especially En Jean. If I get chance, one of these fantastic wraps will definitely be coming to live with us. I have been blown away by the quality and beauty of Hubertine, I understand why this beautiful French company is so popular. Thank you Hubertine, we love you! 

Hygge Linen

This wrap has had me curious for quite sometime and I honestly thought that it would pass me by. However, this weekend was full of wonderful surprises and a little patience was rewarded. Hygge Mono Linen is an 82% cotton, 18% Linen, double weave and weighs 242 g/sm. 
Initially I thought that Linen was visually identical to Cotton Mono but I was wrong. Linen is raw. The white side has an air of imperfection, with black flecks glinting through the white weave, creating perfect grey tones and giving the wrap a scrunched linen look. In direct contrast the black side is neat and tight, with the trade mark Hygge design looking much bolder and punchy than Mono cotton. The mono tones in Linen feel cool and icey, where as Cotton seemed to have a warmer look and feel to it. Linen feels like a true mono, I find it much easier to wear but this may be down to my skin tone.

As usual we were running late to meet some friends at the park and the first time I wrapped with Linen it was a rushed job. It didn’t matter, Linen wraps with ease, the passes glided into place and it held tight. For a wrap that feels so thin in hand and a less than perfect Double Hammock, Cass was weightless. This grippy wrap held with no digging at all and what amazed me the most was how cool and breathable it is. Even in the heat, Cass napped on my back for over two hours. 

Another absolute triumph for Ali Dover, this beautiful wrap does not disappoint. I wonder what the future will bring for lovers of this fantastic designer. 

Real Nappy Week

It’s Real Nappy Week and we are loving our cloth bums!

Initially the thought of using cloth nappies filled me with genuine horror. Giving birth and breast feeding just seemed like enough for me and why on earth would I want to add more washing to my already mountainous pile of tiny dirty clothes?

After the dust had settled I became very aware of the huge amount of waste this tiny little person was creating. At his peak Cass was getting through 15 nappies a day as well as all the baby wipes. It just felt wrong filling the bin every day with items that are designed to never decompose. On top of all the guilt, the council then decided to collect the bins every three weeks. I did not want to to experience a three week old nappy at the height of Summer.

So we decided to make the switch to cloth nappies. There are lots of styles and brands out there and what works for one family might not necessarily work for another. I was initially very confused and intimidated by the whole idea, I didn’t want to throw money away buying the wrong product. After asking a few questions at our baby group, I found lots of parents who were willing to offer advice and lend us a few nappies to see what we thought before taking the plunge. There are also lots of groups on social media that can help you and answer any questions that you may have. 

We chose to order Tots-bots nappies through Babi-Pur. Babi-Pur do a starter pack which included 3 different styles of nappy so we could see what worked best for us. Their service is quick and they send a discount code with every order.

When I found Tots-Bots I loved them because of the Velcro fastening at the front, I found the poppers on other brands fiddly and hard work. The Velcro made the nappies quick and could be adjusted with ease. 

We tried three different nappy styles from Tots-bots, Peenut, Bamboozle and Easy-Fit. The Peenuts are my favourite, they consist of two pads and a wrap. The wrap is water proof and the pads just pop inside, the whole thing comes apart and dries very quickly. I also put in a fleece  reusable liner to protect and draw away moisture from the skin. We did try disposable liners but they just stuck to Cass’s bum and stressed me out.

The Easy-Fit are just one whole piece that folds up. You can put in inserts to add extra absorbency, they are fantastic as they never leak but I find that they do take some time to dry so we only have a couple.

We use Bamboozles at night time, they are a complete towel nappy with inserts for extra absorbency, to ensure that they dont leak a water proof wrap goes over the top. 

I can honestly say that the switch was a lot easier than I expected. The nappies are washed on a 40° cycle with antibacterial washing detergent and are line dried. Although the initial spend was around £14 per nappy, we were spending an absolute fortune on disposables every week. The reusable nappies never leak and they keep Cass’s bum nice and dry. We invested in a pack of reusable fleece liners, which not only protect the nappy, but also draw moisture away from the skin. 

When we are out and about I just fold the reusable nappy up and store in a water proof wet bag. I sort it out with the others when I get home. 

I’m amazed at how fantastic cloth nappies are and I feel so much better about reducing the amount of waste we produce as a family. There is a lot of support out there to get you started through Cloth Nappy Libraries or local baby groups. Some local councils even offer incentives for switching to reusable nappies to reduce waste. 

What we use

▪️7 cloth nappies, (Tots-Bots easy fit and Peenuts)
▪️Tots-Bots reusable fleece nappy liners
▪️A wet bag for travelling

Ali Dover

When I first carried Cass I wore a Close Caboo stretchy wrap, I hired it from my local Sling Library in Salford. We quickly moved onto woven wraps. Lucy, a volunteer at the library first introduced me to the beautiful striped wraps created by Ali Dover.

Ali Dover is famous for her beautiful textiles and breath taking photography. A mother of three, Ali fell in love with woven wraps after the birth of her daughter, also Lucy. Her eye for style comes across in her art, and her calm persona resonates through her photography and her textiles.

Ali’s wraps are some of the most sought after on the market, this is not just down to the fabric itself but also the personal way in which Ali runs her business. If you have ever been lucky enough to buy a wrap direct from Ali herself you will see the care and attention that goes into every delivery. From the handwritten labels and tags, to the perfectly pressed and folded pieces of fabric, all hand tied with brown string.

These woven wraps are not mass produced, each one is individually numbered, with handwritten labels sewn onto the fabric itself. This is a labour of love, which makes owning one of these beautiful wraps so worthwhile.

The trademark striped wraps of Ali Dover were what initially caught my eye. I adore stripes for many reasons, mainly because of the simplicity of the design but also due to the fact that they are fantastic for teaching and learning, whether you are a beginner or an expert.

The first Ali Dover I ever got my hands on was Soul. Soul is perfect, the blues, greens and greys remind me of Summer in the park with Elvis, my dog. The colours are so crisp and vibrant. Soul is 100% Italian combed cotton, light weight (232g/sqm) and thin in hand but sturdy when on. The weave is tight and strong, it is not prone to pulling and does not sag.

All of the ‘Stripes’ are 100% Italian combed cotton apart from Heathers and Elements, which are woven using English cotton. I think that this difference makes Heathers and Elements feel heavier in hand (236g/sqm) and makes the wraps seem more robust and in need of breaking in. Both colour ways are perfect and drawn directly from nature. You don’t see them around as much anymore as people tend to hold on to a rare find.

 There has been a steady release of ‘Stripes’ designed by Ali. Each colourway holding something special, and selling out in record time. The wraps are comfortable and supportive and are suitable from birth. The 100% cotton blend makes the ‘Stripes’ easy to care for especially with tiny babies and sticky toddlers.

We have been extremely lucky and have had many come and spend time here with Cass and myself. Not only has Ali created exquisite and beautiful woven wraps but she has also created a wonderful community of families that share a common interest in her designs and baby wearing. Families will pass on their wraps through buying and selling or simply loaning them out to others for short amounts of time. Some of these beautiful wraps are so sought after, that there are just not enough to go around and they sell from the website seconds after release. I have met some wonderful people through this community of baby wearers.

The design and production of ‘Hygge’ (pronounced hooga) and all it’s magnificent colourways sent the baby wearing world crazy. Hygge is a Danish word which has no direct translation into English, but has a meaning of general happiness and well being, almost like ‘cosy.’ Ali likens her baby wearing experiences directly to Hygge and the emotions that it creates and draws out. Hygge is a 100% cotton, double weave, weighing 253g/sqm. It is light but blanket like and soft. Hygge is coolto wear but is strong and carries well, once the wrap has been worn a few times after it’s first wash it is grippy and holds tight. Pop was the first Hygge and also my favourite, it reminds me of soft jeans, a washed out Denim blue with vibrant bursts of pinky red. It’s just perfect.

The future for Ali Dover fans is looking pretty exciting as we wait on the release of a brand new Hygge, Dove and two new Stripes. However, I think the most excitement lies in the release of more Hygge Linen and the reweave of both Studio and Gift.

For myself and Cass, Ali Dover has been with us since the beginning. We have loved so many of these beautiful wraps and passed them on to other families to love too. I do not think that we will ever be without one in our home, even when our carrying days are long gone.

Thank you Ali ❤

Lucy Graney

Time to buck my ideas up -Beco Gemini Twilight

My education into the world of buckles continued this week with the arrival of the Beco Gemini, Twilight. This is a popular buckled carrier that is designed to fit newborn to toddler (7lb-35lb) It can be worn in 4 different positions, front inward facing, back, hip and front forward facing. 

The carrier is neat and compact and very easy to get on and off independently. It folds up very small and can be easily transported. I love how the Gemini has an adjustable seat so that you can make it larger as your baby grows and the adjustable head rest is fantastic, especially when supporting younger babies or if baby falls asleep. I found the straps ergonomic and very easy to tighten, they sit comfortably on your shoulders with no digging.

I have to be honest though, this carrier did not blow me away. I collected a few opinions from other baby-wearers and the views were mixed. Which goes to show that different things work for different families. 
The Gemini claims to be suitable for babies up to 35lb, my little boy is 24lb and I really struggled with him in this carrier. He seemed almost squashed, he was not happy and a trip around the local shopping centre made me want to get back to the car as soon as possible. The seat is quite narrow despite being adjustable and he just didn’t seem comfortable. The biggest problem that we had was that the carrier was extremely warm. The body is made from a thick, structured foam, which is supportive but also warm. Cass became so angry and flustered even with only a long sleeved vest on. I found myself running for the exit just so we could cool off.

It’s a shame that I didn’t discover this carrier when Cass was a newborn. I think that it would have been perfect, especially because it is so easy to use and so compact. It’s just not for us now he is older and heavier, the carrier does not seem to withstand the weight and build of an older baby. If I was buying this carrier with my toddler in mind I would be disappointed, but for a newborn it is ideal.