Saturday, 13 July 2019

Baby Blogging: A Year Of Breastfeeding!

I didn't think that I would ever be writing the statement 'I have breastfed for a year'. In fact I am somewhat shocked that breastfeeding is something I have been able to do for a year. Physically and managing it having being back in a full time job for over 2 months.

I wished I had purchased a battery breast pump, it is amazing how requiring a plug to be able to pump really restricts you. The amount of time I have ended up hand expressing in bathrooms as the office I am in doesn't have a meeting room that doesn't have glass windows - great for airiness, terrible for privacy!

Breastfeeding has definitely been a journey for me. A fairly easy journey for the most part but at the start I didn't expect to be saying that.

My first breastfeeding post was when Annabelle was a few weeks old. You can read it here. My introduction to breastfeeding wasn't the idealistic experience we had been told about in antenatal classes.

Two months into breastfeeding Annabelle and I had found our rhythm but it wasn't without challenges. I shared my experience in this post here - it includes some breastfeeding truths I never knew about!

Being back at work has probably been the biggest change in my breastfeeding journey though. For almost 3 months I have had to factor in pumping in order to keep our supply of milk stocked up for Annabelle to have when I am not around. I have had to make time when I am in the office, I have had to find time in my work day and I have to plan to not be travelling too much in one day that would mean I couldn't pump once my boobs have filled up.  It can be a logistical nightmare.

This is meant to be a good read and full of advice!
I do love the morning feeds. I try my upmost to be there for the first feed of the day as it is time for just us. Annabelle usually sleeps until 6.30am-ish so I am often able to get up and feed her while we doze and then really wake up around 7am when she has finished. I also do my best to be home for bedtime feeds. Nighttime feeds are sadly more hit and miss based on trains and meetings but I only miss a feed once or twice a month so I can't complain.

When I am working from home (which I get to do fairly often) it is a benefit if I can do it on days that Annabelle is being looked after my Mum so she's in the house. That way I can time my lunch break so I can come and feed Annabelle pre-nap.

The one thing that has changed significantly over the year is the way Annabelle feeds. At the start feeds were short and it was easy to tell when she was done. Nowadays feeds can last anywhere between 20 mins and 45 mins. They are less frequent but it is also harder to tell if/when she has had enough. She can be easily distracted and will often have some milk, get down off me, wander around, come back for me. In addition it has created an interesting challenge in our relationship.

For Annabelle's entire life I have been a source of food and comfort and sometimes it is hard to separate myself from being that and just be Mum. I can walk through the door after a meeting or walk downstairs for a refreshment and Annabelle will be on me. I may get a hug but within 5 minutes if I am not feeding her she will meltdown. That is hard. It is not always related to her usual feeding times so it's not predictable, all I know is I get a few minutes of her being excited to see me followed by a really tough time. What's harder is she can be easily pacified by others - it's just me that gets the hard time.

I am at the stage now where I can honestly say I have no idea how much longer I will continue breastfeeding. I think we will try and naturally phase it out. Annabelle eats a lot and is happy drinking anything from a bottle (now) so we can start to introduce other milk if we need to. While I love the bonding and time we have together during feeding I won't miss the fidgeting, the hitting, the epic feeds that mean I can be sat alone (as Annabelle will be napping while she feeds) listening to everything happening outside. This isn't always an issue but at events it leaves me feeling isolated.

And then there are the leaps. When Annabelle is going through a leap then feeding becomes more of a priority, she uses it as comfort but also because she seems to need more food. Unfortunately in a leap Annabelle also seems to go off actual food or make it more difficult to feed her easily.

So there it is. A year of breastfeeding. We've been lucky to have had such a good run, I'll be forever grateful that I have been able to breastfeed, parenting would certainly have had different challenges had I not.
Climbing the stairs at Warwick Castle
I mean without breastfeeding we'll have to figure out whole new ways to comfort Annabelle, calm her down, feed her on the go, get her to sleep - we have definitely taken the easy way out so far!

I wonder if there will be an 18 months of breastfeeding post????

Monday, 8 July 2019

Baby Blogging: 4th of July First Birthday!

Unlike straight couples there was a certain amount of additional planning that went in to us having Annabelle. In fact you can read all about it here. What that planning meant was that we had a good idea on when Annabelle would be making an appearance.

As only 4% of babies arrive on their due date we knew it was never going to be an exact science but I secretly hoped that her arrival would miss our anniversary on the 28th of June and my birthday on the 13th of July. Laura, loudly, hoped for a 4th of July baby. 

As the due date drew nearer and it was confirmed that I was to have a C-Section we were given the date of the 7th of July. I could relax and Laura could give up her 4th of July plan. That was until I got a phone call moving the C-Section to the 2nd. Any relaxing went out the window and Laura decided that the 2nd was close enough to the 4th to decree that Annabelle would have a 4th of July themed parties until she told us something different.

Laura stuck true to that plan and on the 6th 2019 we hosted Annabelle's blue, white and red themed first birthday.

With family flying in from Australia and America and travelling from Kent, London, Manchester it was quite the gathering. Laura's colleague had her two young daughters and my cousin had her little boy. Add to the mix two pregnant ladies and 6 dogs it was a party to remember.

In true British Summer time style the beautiful sunny weather had left us with cloudy skies that turned to drizzle but nothing put a dampener on the day. We hosted the party at my parents and had thankfully left the marquee there from a previous event. First task of the day was setting that up followed by decorating the garden. 

Thankfully Annabelle was willing to have her regularly schedule nap on time and napped 45 minutes into the party allowing us to greet everyone before she made her entrance. 

Sleepy girl making her arrival
Our lovely friends Allie and Anita had made and decorated a phenomenal cake that Annabelle and everyone loved so much there was none left (gutted)! 

We had a BBQ with burgers and sausages accompanied by Laura's mac and cheese and a selection of goodies. 

The garden had separated the area into three - dogs, children and everyone else and it worked really well. The dogs had fun chasing each other and the balls. The babies were entertained by the dogs and had blankets covered in toys and everyone else had access to the food, drink and seats. Bisbee was the only exception to the rule and managed to sneak into the baby area, finish off the plate of a mac and cheese one of my aunts had left to tend to a baby, and then disappear leaving us all scratching our heads on to how well she'd plan the hustle!

The evening was mainly family that were staying but we set up a s'mores station and enjoyed roasting marshmallows before embarking on a highly competitive game of boules and finishing with sparklers.

It was a wonderful day, Annabelle was amazing - a little taken back at the happy birthday song but very happy to get stuck into cake. It was great to have so many of our friends and family there. They have been such a great support to us in the year since Annabelle arrived and if anything this party was a thank you to them. And a celebration of us keeping Annabelle alive for a year :)

We hope that you had a wonderful 4th if you were celebrating!

And thank you to everyone who sent Annabelle birthday wishes!

Friday, 5 July 2019

Vuelio Top 10 LGBT Blogs Announced!

In celebration of Pride Vuelio announced their Top 10 LGBT blog list for 2019 and we were lucky enough to be featured, again, and be invited to do a Spotlight Interview!

Our spotlight is here! We were asked questions about our blog, our experience as an LGBT couple and our experience as bloggers.

To see the full 2019 list click here.

We were first announced on the list as number 6 in 2017 - details are here. Featured at number 6 again in 2018, our spotlight from back then is here that included our Proud To Love YouTube video!

We are so grateful that our blog is seen as a useful resource and proud to be representing our wonderful LGBT community!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Baby Blogging - Annabelle Turns One!

OMG Annabelle is one!

And we are totes emosh.

How was it a whole year ago that we were sharing this post with our birth announcement and this post about Annabelle's birth story.

Our first year as a family has been incredible. It has been full of the most amazing highs, memories that will make us smile forever and so, so many photos. Every day for 365 days we have found a reason to smile, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes through silliness, sometimes in the face of ridiculousness.

Fighting over a flip flop
There are too many highlights. Too many firsts to keep track of and so many good times.

We've slept more than we expected - thank you Annabelle for loving sleep as much as us. We have asked Google for help more than ever before, top questions being: Hey Google.....
Can a 6,7,8,9,10,11 month old eat......
What temperature is too high/hot?
Is ...... okay?
Is ...... normal?
How do we get a baby to .....?

We have had more fun making food than before. We have watched less TV, we have danced and sung more than we have in 10 years together. Our preparation skills are on point (most of the time) but what we have actually learnt is that we are far more relaxed at parenting that we thought we would be. There are moments that we freak out but in general we let her be independent and find her way.

Annabelle has led us, she led us with her nap schedule, with her sleep training, with her new skills - sitting, eating, standing, crawling, walking. Entertaining her is easy as she loves watching what we are doing and is happy to play by herself.

Annabelle adapted to nursery better than we could have ever hoped - I loved our 9 months together but have seen the positive impact that nursery has had. I wished my return to work had been easier and a little less busy but that's life - see the details here. I still get to see her when I work from home and I have had the wonderful opportunity to take annual leave on most Mondays since being back.

We have travelled - to New York via Dublin, to Norway via Amsterdam, to Scotland and to so many other places in the UK. We've been on planes, on trains and had added so many miles to the car. Through it all there have been challenging moments BUT so many good times, so many moments where we have been amazed at how well Annabelle adapted. Annabelle smiling at passengers on the plane and making people smile back, having an entire tube carriage clapping, making strangers stick out their tongue in the supermarket. Hi-5ing old people everywhere and anywhere, making funny chatting noises on the phone to grandparents. Making anyone get to the floor to chase her to see her laugh. Annabelle is entertainment value.

Annabelle just brings so much joy. To us. To our families. To everyone. She lights up a room. I had always heard that phrase but having Annabelle I truly know what it means. At parties, at family gatherings, when people visit there is always joy wherever Annabelle is.

She is rambunctious, tenacious, determined, strong, funny, cheeky, charming, adorable, clever, stubborn, thoughtful, giving, witty and so much more. She has been so much more than we thought. She has made motherhood so much more fun and had us saying 'we need to have more' on so many occasions - not because she's not enough but because as she grows up and needs us less we will need to have more opportunities to experience this level of love.

Annabelle's hug will make you melt, her raspberries will soak you, her dinner time antics will force you to suppress giggles, her battle cries will make you move quicker than ever before and her kisses will have you fearing for your cheeks. Her smile makes you smile, her laugh will make you want to do anything to hear it again. She'll love on you, play with you and encourage you to build things. She'll show off new skills and applaud herself at every opportunity. You can't miss this kid, when she's around she pulls focus. She's sociable and mischievous. She's easy going and chilled out. She loves the outdoors, other children and dogs - OMG does she love dogs. She really loves Bisbee but really any dog will do.

And now she's one.

How have we only only had 12 months with her and yet how has it been 12 months already?

We have thankfully recovered from the latest trip to the hospital for concussion - I'm surprised we almost made it to a year before our first trip and are celebrating the big day with a trip to the swimming pool and cake. If all goes to plan.

We have learnt so much this year but I personally have learnt how much I need Laura. Our team is so dependent on the incredible woman that is my wife. I have always loved her and appreciated her skills but this year alone she had blown my mind with her incredibleness. She has helped me overcome personal challenges, kept us calm and organised and continued to keep our life on track. Annabelle couldn't have asked for a better Mama and I couldn't have got any luckier doing this life thing with her.

I can not wait to see what the next year holds. Thank you for joining us on the journey so far.....