A Guernsey Christmas

Happy new year! I had hoped to post this in 2017 but the winter lergy that is doing the rounds delayed me. 

It was Hugo’s first Christmas, not that he had any clue! He’s been rocking some very cute Christmas outfits for the month of December, and I took him to meet Father Christmas, which he seemed to enjoy even if only for the beard grabbing! 
My family joined us for Christmas and flew in on the 23rd, slightly delayed by the weather and the general chaos that is Gatwick Airport the Saturday before Christmas. We went straight to The Kiln for brunch, then Mum, Dad and Rodie (Richard and Jodie for the unitiated) went to the St Pierre Park to check in. 

In the afternoon we had a photoshoot with Adorabubble. We’ve not had all the photos back yet but here’s a few. It was a great idea of Mum’s, having Hugo has really made me appreciate photos for the memories they inspire.  Everyone was tired from an early start so we all had an early night. 

Xav, Hugo and I went for brunch on Christmas Eve, our normal Sunday tradition, and my parents joined us for a coffee after walking into town. We headed to M&S to collect our turkey and other Christmas foodie bits, Hugo kindly donated his pram to transport the turkey home πŸ˜‚

In the afternoon we went ice skating at Le Friquet garden centre, there’s no ice rink in Guernsey so it’s a very popular festive pop up. Mum and I stayed with Hugo whilst the others skated, but it’s a small rink so going around in a circle got dull pretty quickly. We wanted to get a coffee and snacks, but annoyingly the staff refused to serve us because they were closing in thirty minutes. I appreciate that on Christmas Eve the staff want to get home to their families, but it seems a bit unfair to sell tickets for a timeslot where you get hussled out before the timeslot is even up. It was then back to La Rochelle (our Guernsey house) for traditional Christmas Eve curry and watching Love Actually. 

CHRISTMAS DAY!!! Xav, Hugo and I exchanged gifts, which didn’t take long as we were meanies and didn’t buy Hugo anything. I made him a Christmas stocking to match ours, and he had a jumparoo in November so buying more seemed pointless. Mum and Dad arrived for Christmas cuddles with Hugo, then we set off for a walk whilst Rodie chilled out and watched the turkey. Luckily for us, The Slaughterhouse was open on Christmas Day so as the heavens opened we sheltered for a coffee. 

My Dad worked his normal Christmas dinner magic and we sat down to our feast at 4pm, we like to eat Christmas dinner late. Hugo joined us and munched on a carrot and broccoli, it’s amazing to think that next Christmas he will be eating the meal with us! Some of us then settled in to watch The Holiday and others hid in the second living room, for family get togethers having two living areas is invaluable to give everyone the space/ quiet that we need. 

Boxing Day started sunny but cold and we all headed to Cobo Bay for the annual Boxing Day swim. Only Xav and Dad were brave enough to get in the water, and Hugo was not a fan of the cold so we left as soon as the boys were out of the water. After a coffee at the St Pierre Park, it was back to ours to watch the football, before our late lunch at Octopus. The food was delicious as always and the glass of Bordeaux was a dream! By then, the weather has completely changed as it does in Guernsey and it was stormy and dramatic! Luckily my family’s flight departed safely. 

It was a fantastic Christmas, and it was great to be out and about each day but also not insisting that everyone is together 24/7. I don’t think Hugo or I could hope for a more perfect first Christmas. 

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Advent

I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve, and it’s very different to last year! My little bundle of joy has been enjoying an advent of Christmas outfits but really, has not a clue what’s going on. 

A few years ago, Mum very kindly treated me to a liberty advent calendar. Rs so beautiful and I loved it- Mum, my aunt Hazel and my friend Diana also had it and we loved comparing gifts- the Diptyque candle was my favourite. Since then, there’s so many amazing beauty advent calendars to choose from, but Mum and I decided to create our own.

We will the calendar with 25 gifts and they are really varied, not just beauty. It suits us both as I’m lucky enough to have boxes of beauty samples, and it’s a really personal advent calendar. I start preparing for it almost a year in advance as I like to collect gifts throughout the year when inspiration strikes. Last year the first item I bought was a beautiful packet of screen wipes- the sort of thing one doesn’t buy themselves but is such a joy to use. 

Mum has created an amazing calendar for me this year, although both of us miscounted so we ended up with 27 gifts each πŸ™ˆ one week was all related to a sewing project: a canvas bag, pom poms, embroidery thread, ribbons, embellishments. It was such a creative idea of Mum I’m definitely going to steal it for next year. 

What would you like to see in an advent calendar? 

Hugo at the Aquarium

Yesterday we had an impromptu family outing to the Guernsey Aquarium. Admittedly, Guernsey’s Aquarium is hardly world famous BUT it is the only one in a world war two tunnel. Also, Hugo has quite a short attention span but he loves staring at the fish tanks; and I like comedy photos so it was a good match all around. 
Enjoy! 

“You must sit around watching TV all day”

If a new mother had a penny for every time that was said πŸ˜‰

I can only speak for me, but if I spent the day staying indoors watching TV I’d feel very lonely and down. Of course it’s nice to have a chill out hour or afternoon but Xav can always tell if I’ve been out and about by my mood that evening. I try to get out of the house at least once a day, and we are very lucky to live so close to town so it’s easy to pop Hugo in the sling and go a cafe. 

On Monday mornings we have Baby Sensory, or baby overstimulation as I call it. Hugo quite likes it and just falls asleep if it’s too much but some of his playmates get overstimulated and start crying halfway through, to be honest I can relate! It’s a fun class and gives me great ideas for play ideas at home. We also get some great photo opportunities πŸ˜‚

On Tuesdays we have a weekly tea & cake date with the other Mums from our antenatal class. Not everyone goes each week but it’s been great for me to discover some new places and know that a catch up is in the diary. 
Wednesday is Mum & Baby Yoga with Anita, our antenatal class leader. Hugo adores this class! He was the youngest and struggled to stay awake for the whole class but now absolutely loves playing with the yoga balls, ribbons and giving me a work out during baby press ups! 

We’ve recently finished BabyCalm on a Thursday morning, again run by Anita. It’s a fourth trimester class, covering massage, parenting theory, a safe place to discuss worries and cover topics like sleep and weaning. I’d highly recommend it as a first postnatal class. 

Fridays are currently a free day for us, so Hugo and I often go for a walk or run errands. Usually Xav comes home for lunch which is a nice end to the week. 
We had been doing baby massage on a Saturday, the idea being that it would be nice for Xav to be able to do a class with him. I’m not sure I’ll bother again as one small baby and two parents is slight overkill; but Hugo LOVES massage! Takes after his Mum, as Xav cannot stand any form of massage. We also prefer to have our weekends free to do our own thing and be relaxed. 

From January, we are hoping to start baby swimming, and there’s a messy play class we might look into when Hugo is a bit older. This morning we met up with another Mum and Hugo experienced soft play for the first time, all the toddlers kept coming over to stroke him πŸ˜‚

An Ode to Uncle Richard

Happy Saturday night! Here at the Samuels house we’re all in our pyjamas, watching strictly and I’m crocheting a giant granny square. I’m not sure what the aim is, but it’s rather addictive to keep growing it. Xav is out socialising like a more normal 30 something.

Uncle Richard is currently playing with Hugo and it makes me so happy to see them together. My parents are fantastic with Hugo, but there is something so special about seeing my twin and my son together. I don’t know many childless brothers who will get up at 5am before work to look after their nephew, and he doesn’t shy away from a dirty nappy. 

On our last visit, Hugo had been awake crying since midnight and by 5am I was at the end of my tether. Rich found us both crying and took Hugo to calm him down and give me a break. This week, I took Hugo into the kitchen to make the 6am bottle, only to find Rich already making it. 

There’s a lot of banter about being a #hugohog – someone who hogs the baby and doesn’t let anyone else have a cuddle, but Rich is a massive support to us and we are very lucky to have Uncle Richard! 

First Guerniversary

A year ago today Xav and I boarded the ferry to Guernsey to start our new adventure. We left Poole in the morning, having stocked up in Asda the night before on food, and three hours later we arrived in Guernsey at lunchtime. 
It’s been a complete whirlwind of a year and a lot has changed; I found out I was pregnant around six weeks after moving here and it was the good I needed as I was feeling very lonely and homesick at that point and I cried every time I got on the plane back to Guernsey on the Friday. It’s hard to move as an adult and Guernsey doesn’t have the same expat community as other overseas territories, which is both a good and bad thing. I still have times when I desperately miss London, and to an extent we are still settling in here- since I was unwell for the whole pregnancy we haven’t explored much, or been able to participate in activities to meet people as we intended. We’ve also bought our house since being here and it feels more like home as we can put our touch on it. I still miss London a lot but our life here is good, especially as new parents we appreciate so if what Guernsey offers. 

The view from Hugo’s room this morning.
To celebrate our Guerniversary, we went to Lihou, a small island off the west coast accessed at certain times by a causeway. We were blessed with beautiful weather and that completely made up for forgetting our sling, so Xav carried Hugo in his arms the entire time. Hugo was much admired by the other people there, including the island’s warden. There’s a house there which can be hired for a holiday and they charge a ‘robin hood’ scale so it’s cheap for youth groups and more for corporates. The entire island is off the grid and would be a unique place to stay. 



It was a very memorable way to celebrate our milestone and who knows what the next year holds. 

Baby Activities

Hugo is 11 weeks old today! He is holding his head up like a pro now, and I think that is due to our baby yoga classes; which inspires me to write about the activities we are up to. 

Luckily the lovely Mums I’ve met from my antenatal class are all on maternity leave at the moment, so it’s far less daunting having Xav go to work and being on my own with Hugo knowing that I have some adult company most days. After the upheaval of the past few weeks, it feels really nice to have a bit of a routine. 

On Mondays we are starting Baby Sensory class next week which I am excited about, especially as Hugo is much more alert now so I think he will enjoy it. Wednesdays are Mother and Baby Yoga with my antenatal class facilitator Anita. Hugo is the youngest baby and he loves watching the older babies in action. It’s a great mix of activity for both of us, we did a lot of squats yesterday and I can definitely feel it today! Hugo has been able to go more each week and I’ve been practicing some of the moves with him at home. 

Thursday morning is currently BabyCalm which a mix of postnatal development, baby massage and baby sensory. It’s a small group with seven Mums and it’s really cathartic to admit that we find some parts of motherhood challenging. Today’s topic was sleep which is a hot topic for us!

Aside from classes, we meet up with the other Mums and babies once or twice a week, although the weather hasn’t been in our favour to go for walks as much as we would like. Hugo and I are incredibly fortunate that Xav can come home for lunch, and in the afternoons we tend to try to nap (Hugo) and do chores (me). 

We don’t have the vast array of baby activities that London does, and I’m a little disappointed that there’s no Mum and Baby cinema, but there’s plenty of options to keep us amused for the moment!

The First Six Weeks: Q&A

What a whirlwind! I could spout lots of clichΓ©s about how nothing prepares you for parenthood but I think it’s more interesting to answer some of the questions I saw on another blog.

1) How was the birth? And recovery? 

The birth was fine, no one would describe a c-section as fun but a planned c-section is easier to prepare for and I knew what to expect. Recovery wise, unless I overdo then I feel ok, but I moved something heavy and was in a reasonable amount of pain for five days afterwards so clearly my abdominal muscles aren’t healed yet. I also still have SPD and need weekly physio for a while. 

2) Eating? Sleeping? (Mum)

Hmm, I’m certainly eating, and eating everything in sight! My family have been tremendous at feeding me and I’m attempting to keep it reasonably healthy.

Sleeping is harder for me, I’ve always found napping hard, I get up early and can’t lie in but I’m trying to get better at sleeping when I can. FYI, telling someone to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ isn’t that helpful, it makes me feel rubbish and stressed. Suggesting a new Mum sits or lies down is much better.

3) Eating? Sleeping? (Hugo)

Hugo is a great feeder, he’s always keen as seen by his brilliant weight gain and is happy to switch from breastfeeding to bottle, breast milk to formula with no issues. We’re lucky but it makes up for a very tough experience with tongue tie which wasn’t spotted until 4.5 weeks in. 

He sleeps pretty well, but likes to sleep on you, lying on your chest. Adorable during the day, harder at night.

4) Leaving the House.

Xav decided early on that there were less tears from both Hugo and I if we got outside each day, even for five minutes. We try to carry on with life, and Guernsey is very baby friendly so we still go out for brunch, coffee and dinner and Hugo is made to feel very welcome. I’m not allowed to walk far or up hills due to the SPD, but the sling is really good for running errands in St Peter Port which is beautiful but steep and cobblestoned. 

5) Travel

This gets its own section for us. In order to fix the tongue tie, I had to fly to London with Hugo solo when he was five weeks old. It wasn’t stressful, probably as I flew to London so frequently, and Aurigny gave us two seats so I had privacy to breastfeed. My lovely Dad met me at London City and we navigated the tube together. I’m very glad we used our second pram (Maclaren Techno XT), it’s an indulgence but given how frequently we fly an umbrella stroller is an essential. Hugo handled two flights in one day like a champ. 

6) My I’ve got this Moment.

During our antenatal class a couple came with their 3.5 week old to demonstrate bathing a baby. They had both showers, Kayly was wearing makeup and had blow-dried her hair. I was in awe and never thought I’d be like them. Two months later Xav and I were that couple and managed not to drop Hugo, and answered all the questions the expectant parents asked is easily; so we both felt like we weren’t clueless. 

7) Biggest Challenge.

Breastfeeding, without a doubt. I have a lot of opinions around the promotion, discussion and support but I’ll keep that to myself for now. Hugo had a large tongue tie which I diagnosed myself after a lot of research (not many Mums can do that) and we were lucky we could afford to get it treated privately as the wait in Guernsey is 8 weeks, which is a long time to be in pain at every feed 8-12 times a day. We also both had thrush, exacerbated by Hugo feeding every 1.5 hours for up to an hour. We’ve turned a corner but I can see why so many women give up, and it’s horrible for your partner to not be able to help. 

8) What are you grateful for?

Xav, a brilliant Dad to Hugo and keeps me sane, and gets me out the house everyday.

My family, who have supported us so much over the past six weeks, especially my Mum who has spent days looking after us all. 

My friends, especially my new friends from our antenatal class. Being able to message on WhatsApp during the third night feed makes all the difference. 

9) Next Challenge.

Xav is away for three days from Monday so I’m solo parent. Luckily I have a support network and access to COOK ready meals to get us through. 

10) How do you feel about Hugo?

There’s no words in the world to describe how much I love him. No matter how hard it has been or how much pain I’m in, I would go through pregnancy and birth again to have him in our lives πŸ’™

Hugo’s First Week

By now I’m sure you have heard our wonderful news about the safe arrival of our gorgeous son Hugo Michael John. He was born on Thursday 20th July at The Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Guernsey via planned c-section. It was quite surreal to know his birthday, although Xav and I definitely let out a massive sigh when we got past our birthday. Despite the many, many messages telling us it would be hilarious to have our son born on our joint birthday, we really wanted him to stick to his planned delivery at 38+6. 

 The antenatal and postnatal care in Guernsey has been excellent from start to finish, although I was lucky that I got to go home after a night. I didn’t sleep well on the ward and I knew we would feel more comfortable at home, where my fantastic parents were already cooking and cleaning up after Hugo and I, leaving Xav and I time to get to know him, he was born in the morning and by 11.30ish I was back on the ward having cuddles, albeit still completely numb from the chest down. 

The first week has been a real whirlwind- time feels like it has gone so quickly, although in the middle of the night when I’ve been feeding for an hour it feels like the complete opposite. I’m starting to feel better physically and have started to go for short walks. I’m very out of condition having spent months immobile and unable to walk much so I’m starting slowly and building up.

We’ve had all of Hugo’s grandparents to visit, and my aunt Hazel surprised me on Tuesday which was incredible, especially as we’d had to make our first family outing back to the hospital to get checked out for weight loss and jaundice. Luckily all looks to be fine and we’re working on feeding him as much as possible. Either Mum or Xav is on call at night for me whilst the other sleeps in the loft room uninterrupted. It’s been so helpful as I’ve been struggling to sit up or get out of bed sometimes, but my mobility is improving each day. 

Today Richard and Jodie have arrived for a visit, and my Dad comes back tomorrow for the weekend. Xav had a week off and is taking almost three weeks off from next week and Mum goes back to London for a well deserved rest! 

Right now I’m meant to be napping, but Hugo had other plans so we’ve just finished another feed and he’s curled up on my chest. I feel so lucky that he is here safe and sound after a very challenging pregnancy; and Xav and I are completely smitten with our boy. 

Final Weeks

I’m 37+4 and feeling huge! Below is a picture of me at the weekend. I’m very glad to be on leave and taking it easy, since as beautiful as the weather has been it’s not the easiest for a heavily pregnant lady, especially one who is prone to dehydration and fainting. 

Lots of people ask me what I’m up to at the moment. As you know, I’m an organised soul so we’ve had most of the baby equipment sorted out for a while, so now it’s more a case of washing and organising clothes, sorting out the nursery and trying to get all the lifemin stuff sorted before baby John makes an appearance very soon. 

We’ve been lucky enough to have lots of visitors recently, and it’s been great to see our friends and family and make the most of our ‘freedom’. Since Guernsey is so small, Xav hasn’t had to completely stop drinking, especially if we are out with local friends who would be able to get me to the hospital if I needed to! Our hosting skills have definitely improved, and it’s easy to love Guernsey in the summer when you’re sat on a white sandy beach eating fish and chips, or sat at the top of Jerbourg, looking out onto Jersey and France eating locally made honeycomb ice cream. 

Since having a baby isn’t exciting enough, we’ve also had an offer accepted on a house here. Luckily it’s chain free so we’re hoping the purchase process will run smoothly and it will tie in well with the end of our lease. Our new house is very central, Xav’s commute will shorten to three minutes, which will be incredible for him to be able to pop back at lunchtimes and see his son. As much as we both miss London and the friends and family there, the quality of life is hard to argue with here. 

I’m often asked what I do all day, and I’m always surprised when other people state they’d be bored in my shoes. Firstly, because I’m heavily pregnant and still feeling the effects of POTS I need to rest a lot, but also it’s really lovely to be able to have some solitude before the baby comes. At the moment I spend a lot of time watching Wimbledon (baby’s second favourite sport is tennis judging by the kicks), eating ice (my only craving) and sewing. I’ve made one quilt which I’m very proud of- if the bragging about the quilt is anything to go by I’m going to be a complete Mum bragging bore about my son πŸ˜‚. I’m hoping baby John gives me enough time to finish my next craft project, if not then my lovely Mum is already lined up to finish it- in fairness she’s already done most of it as I definitely bit off more than I could chew with that project!