Sunday, 26 January 2014

Hospital bag - what to pack

When I was expecting the Mini Grumpy Egyptian I remember spending hours online trying to work out what I should pack in my hospital bag. Some people recommended next to nothing while others seemed to pack enough to open a shop! Initially I packed my hospital bag as if I were going to have a normal (ergh hate that way of saying it) birth, but after a little scare decided to pack a second SOS bag in case I ended up - and I did - having an emergency caesarean. The SOS bag contained 3 or or so days of extra clothes and changes for baby on top of what I had in my initial bag. This meant if I had to stay in longer, the Grumpy Egyptian could just grab that bag rather than searching through the wardrobe for clothes that would have ended up being too tight or just plain wrong. I'd really recommend people do this as it saved us the additional stress of running around to find stuff for the unexpected stay.

So what did I packing in my hospital bag?

Maternity towels. Massive ones. Like the same size as the nappies you are putting on your baby. The hospital I was at did give me some, but they were really uncomfortable. The ones I bought from Mothercare had wings and helped me feel a little more normal.

Elasticated pyjama bottoms. No need to try and find something fancy. I wore Spongebob Squarepants and Cookie Monster ones from the men's section in Primark. Once I was moving around a little bit, I wanted to be able to get up and down the corridors and wearing pyjamas rather than a nightie meant I was a bit comfier doing so. As I had a caesarean, I worse a hospital gown, but had always planned to use one for delivery anyway.

Nursing bras. Having tried to breastfeed while wearing a normal bra just makes it so much harder! Suck it up and buy a couple of decent nursing bras. I'm a big fan of the Marks and Spencer ones.

Washable breastfeeding pads. I tried both disposable and the washable ones and found washable so much better. I got 4 packs from Mothercare and in the end gave up using the disposable as they were left me sore and seemed to move around too much.

Granny pants. Massive ones so big that even your grandmother would blush. Cheaper the better as you aren't going to want to be in these forever.

Toiletries. I took a little kit with travel sized 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, hairbrush, shower gel and moisturiser (don't forget the latter as being stuck inside will make you turn to leather) as well as a razor. That first shower after after having a baby is perfection! Also don't forget toothbrush and toothpaste, I packed one of the travel ones I got on a plane.

Baby wipes. Good for baby as well as washing your face or to freshen up.

Slipper socks & flip flops because you might be sharing a shower or get cold toes getting up to feed for the 100th time in a row.

Nipple cream. If breastfeeding things can get sore quite fast when you are trying to get baby to latch properly. Preferably get one you don't need to remove before feeding.

Clothes. I wore the same maternity jeans I walked into the hospital with as I did leaving the hospital because even though baby was out, bump was still there! Plus after a caesarean I wanted loose comfortable clothing. I also took an old long cardigan to wear as I could pop it over my pjs if guests came or I wanted to nip (there was less nipping more waddling going on) to the nurses station (I can't be the only one who hates ringing the bell by the bed?). Another good idea that allowed me to practice for feeding out in public, was to wear camisoles under long pyjama/normal tops so I just pulled them apart to feed rather than hiking my top up.

Treats. Craved pate or a pile of blue cheese for nine months? Now is your chance! We were lucky to have a little fridge in our room so took coconut water for me to have instead of just water, drinks for hubby, chocolate, a mango and some watermelon. We didn't take anything to celebrate with after having the mini one, but I did sneak a chocolate biscuit during the night after delivery as the clear soup I'd been allowed hadn't hit the mark!

Bits for baby. A pack of nappies, 4 sleeveless baby grows, 4 onesies, an easy to put on (because you will still be scared of this little thing in your arms) going home outfit - we picked leggings and a cute cardi, Sudocrem or nappy cream, hat, mittens to stop them scratching themselves with their nails and a couple of thick muslin cloths to use as blankets or mop up spills. If it is cold, also worth packing a snowsuit or thicker blankets.

Phone charger. I forgot mine and luckily the nurses had one I could borrow otherwise the family back in the UK would have had to wait a while for those first baby photos!

Other bits. Lots of forums suggest packing reading materials or a tablet so you have something to do in the time leading up to delivery. I did pack a book and while being induced read about one chapter but was so nervous it just got plonked next to my bed for the rest of the time. Following the caesarean, I was too zonked to read and then the whole "Oh God I am a mother" realisation kicked in so reading went out the window, but I do think it is worth taking just in case. A pillow from home could be helpful if you are nervous. I didn't take one, but do wish I had. A purse full of change. Poor hubby had to keep nipping out for snacks and because we forgot to bring change with us, he had to keep going to the cash machine.

I think that is my main essentials. Of course everyone will have their favourite bits and bobs, but don't feel you need to turn up with a huge suitcase. What did you include in your hospital bag? What do you think of my list?

The Egyptian Mummy

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Sensory bottle ideas

I love the idea of sensory play and it features heavily in my playtime board on Pinterest, but I never seem to get round to creating these gorgeous ideas - lavender scented rice and edible play dough spring to mind - at home. After seeing how much the Mini Grumpy Egyptian loved interacting with the bottles at our playgroup, which were filled with things that the babies are normally too young to play with, I decided to try and make my own at home. I started collecting old drinks bottles and looking for different materials that I could put inside of them.

I picked up a packet of coloured buttons, glitter, feathers, pompoms and table confetti (Poundland and a quick look around the house supplied me with most of these). After washing and drying the bottles out, I played around with what materials looked the best and made the best sounds, before using super glue to stick the lids on tight.

The first one I made was the button bottle and the Mini Grumpy Egyptian loves it. It makes a rattle noise and all the different colours really catch her attention. I have tried putting them all down together - some are heavier than others as they contain water - and she seems to enjoy looking and touching them.

Seeing how simple and cheap it was to make these at home has made me more determined to try and make more things for her rather than buying them. As she is on solids now and obsessed with putting everything in her mouth, I think I might try some edible playdough perhaps infused with lemon peel or a little cocoa powder.

What toys have you made for your little ones? Do you think it saves you money or would you rather just splash the cash?

The Egyptian Mummy

Monday, 20 January 2014

Weekly meal planner - 20/1/2014

I've decided to try and get back into the routine of planning our meals for the week because hopefully this will make things easier for when I go back to work. I'm going to be investing in a slow cooker and unsure whether to buy one that allows searing on the hob or go for a timer. The plan is to pop some ingredients in the cooker and then 9+ hours later when I get back, tuck in. Any recommendations about which one to buy?

I'm also trying to eat more fruit and vegetables so you can see that from the plan. I'm going to start slow by blogging about dinners before organising lunch and breakfast too.

Meal planner for this week: 20/1 - 26/1

Monday - Roast Chicken with Vegetable (swede, carrot and parsnip) Mash
Tuesday - Our Ramadan Soup (Carrot, sweet potato, parsnip and red lentil) with Fattoush Bread
Wednesday - Moroccan Meatball Tagine with Lemon and Chickpea Couscous
Thursday - Tomato and Roasted Pepper Pasta Bake
Friday - Chicken Curry with Cucumber Raita and Cumin Rice
Saturday - Spaghetti Bolognese   
Sunday - Sausage and Mash with Onion Gravy and Steamed Vegetables

Will try and pop some recipes up at some point :) What will you be eating this week?

I'm teaming up with Meal Planning Monday's on At Home with Mrs M

The Egyptian Mummy

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Self-soothing: Five days in

So five days into trying to get the Mini Grumpy Egyptian to sleep better and while I am nervous to say much in case it turns out to be a fluke.... things seem to be working. On the first night she sobbed for around five minutes before I went in to settle her, then once she had calmed down I left the room and a couple of minutes the crying began again. It was horrible. I truly felt evil, but when you haven't slept for over eight months and know things will only get harder when you return to work, something needs to give. I sat there and cried outside her room while listening to her cry then after eight minutes (oh yes, I stared at the clock) she stopped and fell asleep. That was at around 8.30pm. She woke up at 5.30am. Now, 5.30am to many is a rather unsocial hour, but WOW... for a girl that has woken every couple of hours (at best) since birth that is pretty amazing.

The next night she seemed to settle quicker, but did cry for the first five minutes. I went into her room, stroked her tummy and she began to doze off. I sneaked out the room at around 8pm.... Ten hours later, she woke up! The next day I decided to try and pop her in her cot for a morning nap. I turned on the white noise I have on my laptop, lay her in her cot, shut the curtains and walked away. One minute later I realised that I had left my phone in the room, tiptoed in and she was fast asleep! Had I not been too afraid to wake her, I could have screamed in amazement. This girl has never, I repeat, never napped unless being held, in a moving car or in her pushchair.

That night I noticed that when I put her into the cot, she would reach towards me and try to hold my t shirt (that sound is my heart breaking). Once I had a little cry because in my mind she was sad that I was leaving and would grow up hating me, I tried giving her the flannel part of a cuddle toy to hold. She grabbed it, snuggled up and fell asleep. This was at around 7:45pm. She woke at 6:45am. I, of course, spent most the night waking up to check she was ok because I was so unnerved by having a baby that slept.

This pattern continued for the next couple of days. However, tonight when I put her in her cot she was a little difficult to settle, but I think she is teething so am putting this down as the reason. It is now 10.40pm and all is well for now.

I still think this was a very difficult thing to decide to do and can see why it isn't going to work for everyone as you have to be very tough. My biggest fears were that the Mini Grumpy Egyptian would suffer in some way or even hold it against me. However I've noticed that sleeping better at night has made her much more content during the day as she will play for longer and be happy looking around while out in the pushchair rather than wanting to be picked up all the time. She still cuddles up to me when it is story time, smiles and reaches for me when I go to her cot in the morning, and laughs at my amazing animal noises so unless she is holding onto her discontent for an expensive psychiatrist when she's older, I think things are ok.

There is a big difference between the way I chose to do this and the ever controversial crying it out method. I could not have just let her cry. I set myself a maximum time of allowing a bit of grumbling and tantrum type tears, but knew if she started to become distressed that I would go in there immediately and comfort her. I find those snuggly morning breastfeeds even better now and given that I too have had a good nights sleep, feel I am able to be a better mum to her. Will her sleeping well continue? Oh who knows, but I am glad we decided to try it and I intend to continue the routine for the forseeable future.

Have any of you tried using white noise to help your little one's sleep? Does your little one follow any sort of napping schedule? My next task is to tackle daytime naps. Blackout blinds?

The (not-so-tired) Egyptian Mummy x

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Self-soothing: A difficult decision

Last night when the Mini Grumpy Egyptian had woke me up for the fourth time in so many hours, I made the difficult decision that it was time to tackle her sleep issues. Google was no help as for every page giving an argument for a certain method, there were at least two more saying that following that way would mean the Mini Grumpy Egyptian would turn into an angry adult that hates her parents, trusts no one and turns to booze to ease the pain! Ok, so maybe not the last one, but it was pretty negative.

A chat with my health visitor today gave me a couple of different techniques to try out - we are already big fans of Ewan the Dream Sheep, but unfortunately he has calmed her rather than made her sleep in the long run. We have had a routine in place since her birth as when we were in Oman and I was home alone most evenings, it helped keep me sane following a set pattern. The routine consists of quiet playtime, a story and cuddle, relaxing music (Bach or Mozart normally) playing in the background, bath, sleeping bag, breastfeed - here lies the issue - and then in her cot once she's asleep.

In the past 3 months or so she has got miles better in that she will actually be put down 8 out of 10 times without screaming the house down, but breastfeeding to sleep has meant that I'm forced to get up every time she wakes in the night as she relies on the boob to nod off. We've managed to reduce night feeds, but she often needs picking up or being cuddled to sleep. Given that I will need to start working in the very near future, I would be unable to function on such little sleep.

Tonight, as I write this, I'm sat outside my bedroom trying to man up a bit! Hearing your child cries breaks a parent's heart and I am really against crying it out. Instead the plan we devised meant I would follow the usual routine including the breastfeed and then just as she was starting to doze off, I would pop her in her cot, give her a kiss, turn the white noise maker on and leave the room.

At first she grumbled and then began to cry that kind of "I'm a bit annoyed, but can cope" cry she does when she's unimpressed. After 5 minutes, I went in, settled her by shushing and then left again. The grumbling started a couple of minutes later before the "I hate you" cry began. That lasted exactly eight minutes of the ten I was supposed to leave it before she grumbled and went quiet. I just popped my head in and she's fast asleep.

Do I feel evil for allowing her to cry? Yes. I feel like my chances of winning mum of the year have just been washed away, but she is asleep. I need to remind myself that I'm doing this to help her and it isn't like her first day with a childminder/nursery won't provoke such a horrid reaction either. No one likes doing something new and no normal parent likes hearing their child cry, but I really hope this helps her sleep. If she's well rested and so am I then I think we can have more fun together... Or at least that's the plan.

How did you tackle getting your little ones to sleep? Any advice or tips that worked for you?

The Egyptian Mummy x