“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! 

Mum and Dad’s Visit

It’s a beautiful day here in Guernsey, and I’m making the most of the weather to start washing baby John’s clothes, there’s no nicer sight than the tiny little clothes in the sunshine! 

Last week my parents came for a visit which was lovely, and since the weather is much better than their last visit in November/March I think Guernsey made itself look far more enticing! It was so nice to see them as it had been a month since I left London and it’s the longest I’ve gone without seeing them since I was on my exchange year in New York.  Poor Mum arrived when I was having a random bout of morning sickness but apart from that I’m feeling much better so we were able to do more than her Spring trip. 
Mum and I have been working on a sewing project to help me get to grips with my snazzy new sewing machine, which was a Christmas present from Xav. We also started to set up the nursery and work out what else I need to get before baby John arrives. Mum is also now insured on one of the cars so she had her first experience of driving in Guernsey and the baffling one way system and road closures! 

Mum joined me at Brownies on Wednesday where the girls finished their gardening badge, and then headed to Cobo Beach for fish and chips on the beach. The beach was packed with people still swimming at 8pm, it’s one of the big selling points of Guernsey that we can go to the beach so quickly and because Xav finishes work at 5(ish) we get the whole evening to enjoy ourselves.

Dad arrived on Thursday afternoon and by coincidence, our dear friend Delyth was once again in Guernsey at the same time as Mum. Unfortunately Xav and I had antenatal class do we had to miss out on dinner but we did learn about all the drugs I’m allowed in labour so not a complete loss πŸ˜‰ 

On Friday I took Mum and Dad for brunch and then we spent the afternoon in the garden and Mum and I carried on with the quilt whilst Dad worked. Xav then treated Mum and Dad to one of his epic BBQs before toddling up to the end of the road to the Stand Up Guernsey comedy festival which was absolutely brilliant, even better than the previous show Xav and I saw back in November. 

Xav was rowing on Saturday morning so the three of us cheered him on from our normal Saturday brunch spot Octopus, before Mum and Dad completed the first section of the Cliff Walk, going from Havelet Bay to Fermain Valley. It’s a beautiful walk but too strenuous for me at the moment so Xav and I joined them after and went to Jerbourg for a well deserved slice of cake and incredible views over Herm, Sark, Jersey and France. 

For our final dinner Xav and I took Mum and Dad to La Reunion, a fish restaurant in Cobo with spectacular views. There was a bit of an issue with the table but the free drinks made up for it, and you can take us out of London but we’ll still show London ‘directness’ when they tell porky pies! The food was incredible and it was a lovely end to their trip, especially as when they next come we’ll be eating at more family friendly places. 

It’s peak tourism season here with a cruise ship visiting almost every day; today is the giant Caribbean Princess so on days like today I try to avoid being out and about too much as the parking is suspended, very much a pregnant lady problem! It’s very hot here as it is in London, and I’m very grateful that I’m on maternity leave so I can take it easy and nap in the afternoon. We’ve still got a few more visitors before the baby is here, and then we’re looking forward to seeing more people once he arrives. If anyone wants to visit they’d be very welcome! 

Buy Buy Baby

From the minute you have your first scan you become aware of just how much stuff there is for babies, and trying to work out what you need is confusing to say the least. Since most of my friends don’t have children, I can’t just copy what they did, and also everyone is in different circumstances. Xav and I have no hand me downs as it wouldn’t be worth sending the stuff to Guernsey so we’ve started from scratch. Pinterest has some great lists on there but again they range dramatically in volume.
If I had a Β£1 note or coin (yes we have Β£1 notes here) for everyone who told me “not to buy any clothes as we’ll be given loads” then baby John would be wearing Baby  Dior until his first birthday. Firstly, I’m far too much of a planner/control freak/avid shopper to do that, but also I’ve been looking forward to becoming a Mum for years and I want to be able to buy clothes for my own baby, and luckily I’m in a position to afford to do so. Also, I now feel incredibly embarrassed that I have bought some really inappropriate clothing items for my friends when they have a baby and I sincerely apologize now for thinking a silk and velvet party dress was a good idea for a newborn… 
I love bargain hunting and researching deals, so secondhand is a great source of baby items. Local Facebook selling groups work well in Guernsey, being a small island people tend to be honest and reliable as you’d quickly get a reputation for messing around if you didn’t follow common courtesy. Some baby items simply aren’t safe secondhand (carseats and mattresses being two key ones) but clothes and other bits are used so lightly they are often in great condition. The other thing I’ve noticed is that there is 10 times the amount of girls clothes available secondhand, so I’m guessing it’s easy to go overboard if you are expecting a girl. I picked up this playmat for Β£5, I had a few minutes lying down in it (when I was far less pregnant) and it is so fun! 

The other unique element to our situation is the unhelpful advice of “just send someone out to buy XXXX when the baby comes, remember Tesco/Asda are open 24 hours!” Yeah, that’s not true in Guernsey. Firstly we don’t have people who can pop out for us, and it would be a bit unkind to send our families out on a treasure hunt once they arrive. Also, the shops aren’t open as long here and Sunday trading is limited so if you ran out of nappies on a Saturday evening you’d be going a long time until the shops reopen. 
Shopping is limited in Guernsey, our main options are M&S, JoJo Maman Bebe and Next but the children’s section in Next is tiny, and it’s not really to my taste. However, Amazon deducts the VAT here so everyone uses it a lot for things, and the same with John Lewis.

Not all shops deliver to Guernsey so I’ve ferried as much as I can back from London and my lovely Mum brought over my last bundle- Tu at Sainsburys sleepsuits and vests from their last 25% off day. The excellent advice I’ve been given said their quality is excellent, as there’s no point spending too much on individual items at this stage. However we have bought a couple of special items for him during our travels πŸ™‚ 

My best bargain is without a doubt my Cosatto changing unit. It retails for Β£130 in the UK, and even​ with the VAT off it was more than I wanted to spend but I managed to get a secondhand one for Β£8 here! I ordered a couple of spare parts for it directly from Cosatto so all in it cost me Β£30- bargain! Since I have back problems I really wanted a waist height changing unit, the idea of bending over frequently drew tuts of disapproval from my awesome maternity physio Jo who told me that changing a baby on the floor was a terrible idea for my back. 

One thing I have really struggled with was knowing how much to buy. On one hand, the internet is full of people who apparently survived on five vests for three months and then others imply you need a separate dressing room just for the baby. Adding in that Guernsey is warmer than the UK- more like Brittany in climate -plenty and we live in a very warm house, I really couldn’t see myself needing an abundance of newborn cardigans. Luckily some lovely friends who had summer babies gave me some sensible quantities, and also pointed out that it depends how much washing Xav is prepared to do (answer: not constantly!)
I think the best piece of advice came from Vishali, who reminded me “it’s nice to have nice things”. Nice doesn’t mean expensive, she was the one who told be Sainsburys did great baby clothes which wash well, but it does mean buying things which are your taste and suit you. I know the baby doesn’t care what they wear but if a jazzy print sleepsuit makes you smile, then that has to be worth something when you are on your fifth nappy change of the morning. 

A few people have been asking me about gifts which is incredibly generous and kind. I’m hoping to pass on my love of reading to our son so I think books are a wonderful present for a baby, especially if it’s a book you remember enjoying yourself as a child. Typical ‘Mum’ presents like alcohol, pate and cheese are wasted on me but a nice smelling hand wash is always a hit πŸ™‚ 

Guernsey Summer

Apologies for the quietness, in all honesty it’s definitely the calm before the storm/ baby arrives! I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant so really on the final stretch now. Babies are considered to be at term from 37 weeks, and it’s scary to think that is only 4 weeks away…

Guernsey is absolutely beautiful at the moment, besides last week’s storm the weather has pretty much better been warm and sunny since I arrived back three weeks ago. I love it, but I often overheat so my visions of spending maternity leave sunning myself on the beach weren’t quite accurate! I have been able to sit and watch sailing lessons though, which have been incredible to watch. The work life balance here is incomparable to London, helped by everything being so close.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been catching up on a lot of chores and admin that had fallen behind, and trying to get things organised before the baby arrives. It’s a little dependent on how I feel but I tend to be the planner then Xav is given specific instructions when he gets home. We aren’t setting up a traditional nursery as we’re keeping a double bed in the nursery with a cosleeping cot to begin with, but the dresser is assembled and full of tiny clothes 😍

We’re pretty much ready for the baby now, despite being told that if I got ready too early I’d be bored now I’m glad I ignored them as I’d be really stressed out if nothing had been sorted! Plus I’m much more tired now so it’s nice not to have to make too many decisions at this point. One of my favourite parts of preparing for our new family member is washing the tiny little clothes, is there a nicer sight than baby clothes drying in the sunshine? 
Xav and I have been lucky that quite a few friends and family have planned visits to see us before the baby comes, and a few for after. Last weekend Xav’s friends came over and had a great time, they went surfing at Vazon Bay, go karting, trying Guernsey ice cream and going out out (admittedly Guernsey isn’t exactly known for its nightlife). It was great to have them to visit although I was jealous that I couldn’t join in on the surfing. My Mum and Dad are visiting next week, the Comedy Festival is in during their visit as is Mum’s new favourite film Lala Land. Guernsey itself gets lots of cruise visitors in the summer and I love driving by the harbour to see the ships. For some reason, the weather is always at its best when there’s a ship in town. Some locals dislike the cruise ships but I think they’re a great idea as Guernsey is so small you can see a lot in a 6-8 hour stop, unlike if you land at Dover and then have to travel to London. 

Xav and I have started our antenatal classes which are run by NCT. It’s been really good so far and the other couples seem really nice so far. We have the second earliest due date in the group and they range from mid-July to the end of August. We have also done our hospital tour which was helpful, especially as we now know the correct entrance to use- Princess Elizabeth Hospital was definitely modelled on an NHS hospital in terms of the confusing layout, exactly what one needs in labour. 
I’ve also been trying to spend some time on my craft projects, and finished some bunting for a dear friend’s little boy, much later than his April birthday but at least it now looks like bunting and has the correct name πŸ˜‚ 

Baby John is very healthy and growing well which is reassuring. He is measuring on the 90th percentile so I have a bigger than average bump for my stage, but even the growth scans aren’t completely accurate. I’ve been taken really good care of by the excellent team of midwives, physiotherapists and Doctors here, and whilst a lot of the latest maternity developments aren’t on offer here like walking epidurals, I feel like I’m in safe hands.