Monthly Archives: October 2016

26th October 2016

Naming baby Mabel…

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-20-49-14Naming the boys was pretty easy. We decided pretty early in the pregnancies – and that was that. Nothing tempted us away from Stanley or Wilfred, which made the whole naming process pretty easy.

Naming our little girl, however, was harder. So many names had been whizzing around my head for a daughter since I was a little girl – but suddenly I didn’t want any of them. Stanley would’ve been ‘Edie’, but after he went through a (very irritating) stage of watching the UK kids show Balamory when he was a toddler, I couldn’t think about the name without thinking of Edie McCreedy dancing around my TV screen. Wilfred would’ve been ‘Ivy’ – and whilst I still loved it, I didn’t feel like it flowed that well when you said the three names of the children together.

So we were back to the drawing board. I wanted something pretty, but not too flowery. I wanted something that worked equally well if she turned out to be an actress or a prime minister. But most importantly, it had to go with her brother’s names.

Choosing my children’s names has never been about the trend for ‘all things vintage’. I am aware that old-fashioned names like Stanley, Alfie, Archie, Freddie etc are ‘on trend’ at the moment and climbing up the baby name charts, but it’s never been about that for me. It’s been about choosing names that are very British, unique enough to be the only one in the class at school, and easy to spell and pronounce (given that we live in a part of the world that is so culturally diverse). I LOVE the boy’s names and I think we nailed those requirements – I’ve never regretted either of the name choices for a second, so I know we got it right.

And I wanted the same for our daughter.

I had a few more unique names on my list, including Ottilie and Delilah, but my husband wasn’t so keen. I went through a few weeks of really loving ‘Dot’ (Stan, Wilf and Dot are so cute together), but we would’ve wanted her official name to be Dorothy or Dorothea – and neither of us were convinced on those. I loved Ada, Elsie, Thea, Bess, and Florence (Florrie), but we either had close friends who’d used those names for their children or decided they weren’t quite right for a variety of reasons.

So it came down to two names – Mabel and Beatrix. We just needed to work out which way to put them. Would she be Mabel Beatrix – or Beatrix Mabel? I loved both and kept changing my mind. Mabel was my favourite, but I liked the way that Beatrix could be shortened to Bea. I also liked the tie-in with the Beatrix Potter anniversary this year. But still, I kept coming back to Mabel – just so pretty, still fairly unique, but not too flowery either.

It was pretty and sweet for a little girl, but she could be prime minister with that name. We were 99% sure.

Then something sealed it. Our friends back home – some of our very closest – had a little girl and called her Beatrice. So that was that. Our little girl would definitely be Mabel Beatrix – and as fate would have it, we’d still have a little Bea in our life (my husband is now her godfather, as her mother is one of Mabel’s godmothers).

So it was Mabel.

Mabel Beatrix.

I told a few close friends in Dubai to test it out, but otherwise it was a top secret (I love announcing a name and didn’t want to spoil that moment). Those friends that knew told me they loved it. Just before her birth, we told our midwife and she loved it so much she nearly jumped around the room. So we felt even more confident that we’d made the right choice.

Her due date arrived and she was finally born – and as we said her name for the first time earthside, testing out the way it sounded as we gazed into her eyes, it just seemed right.

Since her birth, a few people have asked me if we’ll shorten it. I don’t think we will officially, but part of the reason I love the name is that if combines two of my all-time favourite girl’s names of May and Belle. I’ve already started calling her ‘My Belle’ occasionally, so maybe that will happen. My husband often says Mayby Baby, so maybe she’ll get that moniker too while she’s little. But I think that most the time at least, she’ll just be Mabel – and with just two syllables, I don’t think it’s much of a hassle to say her full name.

Mabel

Mabel Beatrix

We just love it – and I know we always will.



21st October 2016

Mabel tests: Sleepyhead Deluxe

14813613_10157669099185607_1688948676_nI’ve got a lot of reviews to write for the new baby items we purchased before Mabel arrived (from strollers, to cots, to monitors) – but I want to properly test every single one before I give my verdict, which is why it’s taken me this long to get going.

But now I feel vaguely human again and we have the very early stages of what feels like a (*whispers*) routine, I have decided to get started – and I have to begin by telling you about the Sleepyhead Deluxe BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING!

Let me start by saying that it’s very hard to review baby items with confidence – as you simply don’t know what life would be like if you didn’t use it. Would they sleep better / worse? Would they be calmer / easier? You just don’t know. But this is my third baby and so I do have some idea about how the average newborn behaves and sleeps, so I feel qualified to talk about how the things we have purchased have transformed life for the better (or worse, in some cases).

And Sleepyhead has definitely transformed life for the better.

But let’s start at the beginning. What exactly is it? Sleepyhead Deluxe is the first size of Sleepyhead – and it is essentially a safe, cosy dock for babies aged 0-8 months. Or put simply by the brand; “the Sleepyhead offers a safe and comfy spot that lets baby sleep, rest, lounge, play, cuddle, do tummy time and get nappy changes.”

Mabel sleeps in her Sleepyhead every night (which we place inside her Snuzpod, which attaches to our bed – review on that coming soon!) I feed her, pass her to Daddy to be burped and have cuddles, and then we place her inside. And since she was one week old, it’s been as simple as that. She never grumbles or cries – she just goes to sleep.

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I vividly remember both Stanley and Wilfred waking up as soon as we placed them in their Moses Baskets at night. I’d try and rock it with one hand, as I dozed in bed – but it rarely worked and we’d have to start the whole cuddle to sleep / transport to basket process again. I remember feeling so exhausted and exasperated.

But there’s something about the Sleepyhead that Mabel just loves. She feels so snug and secure that I think it’s a bit like being cuddled by her bed. Probably a bit like being in the womb. She’s warm, she’s cosy, and she’s happy.

She sleeps like a dream and has done since the beginning. In fact, most nights (and I’m scared to type this in case I jinx it), she sleeps from midnight to 5.30am straight at just 4 weeks old. She is a very chilled and good little baby – so I am not promising that your baby will suddenly start sleeping through the night if you buy this, but I honestly think it helps in Mabel’s case.

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We use it during the day too. I often dress her while she lies in it – and when she falls asleep on me during the day after a feed, I pop her down in her Sleepyhead in the lounge.

I love the fact it’s so light and easy to transport. In fact, when I fly back to the UK in 10 days with Mabel for a wedding (the boys are staying in Dubai with their Dad), I’m packing it in my suitcase and she will sleep alongside me in the Sleepyhead in my bed.

The safety aspect is one of the most important things for me – and it’s good to know that the Sleepyhead has been rigorously tested and complies with safety standards in the US, Canada and EU. In fact, the Swedish entrepreneur that developed Sleepyhead (one clever, clever lady that I would like to hug) designed Sleepyhead when she wanted to find a safe co-sleeping solution after her first baby was born in 2006. The materials are breathable, the mattress is firm, and the design supports safe sleeping. It’s really very clever.

When she gets bigger, she can graduate to the Sleepyhead Grand (for tots between 8 and 36 months) – and both designs have a range of washable covers to keep the Sleepyhead clean, but also look pretty cool too. Mabel’s grey design is called Silver Lining.

So what do I really think of the Sleepyhead? I LOVE IT – and I just wish I’d had it when my boys were little too.

Buy in the Middle East at Sleepyhead GCCclick here >> http://sleepyheadgcc.com/buy.php

(Sleepyhead Deluxe, from 749 AED. Sleepyhead Grand, from 1099 AED).

Buy in the UK at John Lewisclick here >> http://bit.ly/2eqsuzk

(Sleepyhead Deluxe, from £110. Sleepyhead Grand, from £165).

 

 

 

 



13th October 2016

I feel most homesick in autumn…

14699984_10157625707015607_1633109787_nIt’s not summer when I miss home. After all, we are blessed with sunshine nearly every day of the year.

It’s not winter when I miss home. By that point, we are swept up in the excitement of Christmas shopping, throwing mince pies in supermarket trollies, lighting the wicks of cinnamon candles, and starting the countdown to festive trips home to celebrate with friends and family.

It’s not springtime when I miss home.  I don’t feel excitement when I feel warmth on my skin anymore, like those first precious days of spring back home, nor when I see a blue sky or a flower uncurling.

No, I don’t feel homesick when I think about any of those things.

I feel homesick now.

I feel homesick in autumn.

When I lived in the uk, I never fully appreciated those early autumnal days when the nights started to draw in. The change of light intensity during the days. The dark walks home from the station every evening, when I couldn’t see the crimson leaves below my feet – but I could definitely hear them. Pulling scarves and gloves from drawers and thinking ‘is it too early?’ but then giving in the next day when my hands were numb. The walks through Greenwich Park with the dog, pulling my coat tightly around me as a cold wind flapped it open. The adverts in every cafe for Pumpkin Spice Lattes (the promise always better than the taste). The festive build-up – planning visits to grottos, bruising our bottoms on ice rinks, getting dates in the diary for festive dinners and drinks parties. The smell of bonfires in the air, the sound of fireworks fizzing and popping above our heads, the fire cracking and roaring when I stepped through the doors of the local pub.

These are the things that I miss.

But this year, for the first time in four years, I get to experience autumn – as I am flying back for bridesmaid duties at my friend’s wedding in early November.

I’m travelling with Mabel and leaving the boys in Dubai – so of course I’ve had my eyes on padded winter pram suits, woollen tights, and adorable knitted cardigans in newborn sizes. She may only wear them for a matter of days (and probably again at Christmas), but dressing a baby in warm clothes is still such a novelty for me.

But the trip will pass in a whirlwind of wedding fun, trips to the supermarket to restock, and introducing our little girl to family and friends. I won’t have time to walk slowly around our favourite park to take in the burnt orange hues, to kick leaves below my feet, or to ‘ooh’ and ‘ash’ at the local fireworks display, with a toffee apple or stick of candy floss in my hands.

And most importantly, the boys will not get the chance to experience it. They’ll be in Dubai with their Dad, building sandcastles on the beach, being thrown in the air in the swimming pool, and being spoilt with far too many sweet treats. It will be the longest I’ve ever been away from them, but their Dad is more than capable (in fact, far more capable than I would be on my own with the two of them) and they will be fine. After all, they have no idea what they are missing.

But that makes me sad too, as I’d love them to experience autumn. To help them pull on their wellies and zip up their coats. To listen to them shriek as they run through a mountain of leaves. To see the excitement on their faces as they stand under a display of glittering rockets and whistling Catherine wheels. To watch the magic in their eyes as festive lights are switched on.

These are the things that I miss.

I love Dubai and everything it offers my family – but this is the time of year when I feel most homesick.

Because the truth is that you don’t realise how much you miss something until it is gone.



9th October 2016

Dear postpartum tummy; how do I feel about you?

14657754_10157606786700607_571122943_nDear postpartum tummy,

How do I feel about you?

The truth is, it’s complicated.

In pregnancy, I love you. I’m proud of everything you achieve. I love those early days, when I start to notice a bump, standing in front of a mirror and taking those first photos as you start to swell. I love pulling my maternity clothes out of the wardrobe, dusting them off, and feeling the instant relief of an elasticated waistband. I love watching you dance in the bath as you grow bigger – and even when you pop to dramatic proportions and people turn in shock when I pass them in the mall, I am amazed by your ability to stretch (even if it feels like you are going to pop at any moment).

After all, I do believe – I do really, really believe – that the pregnant silhouette is the most beautiful silhouette in the world. And for that reason, I am never more confident of my own body than when I have a child curled up inside of me.

And then that child comes out – and how wonderful that is – and the attention shifts instantly to the baby that now kicks, cries, and hiccups in our arms.

The show isn’t about you anymore. And what a fall from grace!

In the instant that the baby appears, you go from a beautiful, swollen bump that turns every eye in the room, to a jelly-like, empty sack that makes me recoil in horror when I reach down to touch you.

And that’s when our relationship gets complicated.

Every day, I stare in the mirror.

One day postpartum, I still look 30 weeks pregnant. My eldest child says to me: “If baby sister is out now, what is in your tummy, Mummy?” I struggle to explain that one, but I know you are doing your job. Every time I feed the baby, you contract so painfully. “Can I get another epidural?” I laugh to the husband. And I’m only half joking.

Two days postpartum and I look like I’m in the second trimester. I stroke my bump in the mirror, amazed at the body’s ability to do its thing after birth. But as I pull on maternity clothes and discover they now look ‘empty’ (whilst those from pre-pregnancy pinch my waistline and cling to all the wrong bumps), I am struggling to love you anymore.

By a week, you are shrinking still. Just a little bump now, like the first swollen days of pregnancy. If I wasn’t pushing my newborn in a stroller, people might even assume I had just eaten a big meal. Still, I don’t like looking in the mirror anymore and I position the baby carefully to hide you in photographs.

But I am starting to regain some serious respect too.

You see postpartum tummy; our relationship really is complicated.

Because whilst I miss that taut, swollen, gigantic bump from just a few weeks ago, staring at pictures of those last days of pregnancy with a mixture of disbelief and sadness (it’s amazing how quickly you forget what it felt like to have a 9Ib8oz baby stretching your skin), I feel more respect with every baby that joins us.

You might wobble. You might have an angry stretch mark where I pierced my belly button as a teenager. You might be far removed from the washboard abs of my gymnast days.

T-shirts might cling, belts might not fasten, and underwear might pinch.

unspecifiedBut look at what you did, tummy!

Just look at what you did!

And for that reason, I love you postpartum tummy.

I really, really do.