Thursday, 23 August 2018

Baby Blogging - Having A Baby And A Dog!

Since having Annabelle there are three questions most people have asked:

  1. Where did we get the name Annabelle from?
  2. Is Annabelle a good baby?
  3. How is Bisbee with her?

It's this third question that I wanted to answer in this post.....

In short Bisbee has been amazing. In all honesty more amazing than Laura and I expected, and we already thought Bisbee was amazing!

Here is our post on Bisbee at 3 years
And Bisbee at 2 years
And when we first got her we posted this

Seeing Bisbee as a big sister has given us a whole new appreciation of her. She is kind, gentle and so protective - it is adorable to watch.

At the start of the pregnancy it's fair to say Bisbee wasn't at all interested but as the bump grew so did her interest and we started using the baby name so Bisbee would get used to it.

When we were having Annabelle, Bisbee stayed at our neighbours so Laura could easily pop in and get her when she had to leave us at the hospital. Bisbee happens to love our neighbours and they treat her like a queen so it was a win-win all round.

On the day we bought Annabelle home Laura rushed in to greet Bisbee in our house why I got myself out of the car. As Laura returned to the car I headed in and greeted Bisbee. With all that excitement by the time we carried Annabelle in Bisbee was calming down. We carried Annabelle to the couch and sat down, at this point we let Bisbee sniff her while we were repeatedly saying 'be gentle'. Within 10 minutes we eased into being a new family and Bisbee was just happy having us home.

Since that point Bisbee has been ever present, staying close she is happiest joining in - especially when a photo is being taken. When we take Annabelle anywhere, or have guests Bisbee will be on guard and check Annabelle is okay. It is heartwarming.

At night we now have our bedroom door ajar so Bisbee can come and go as she pleases, funnily enough she starts the night with us but mainly sleeps in her bed. It's as if she doesn't want to miss out but when she is satisfied we are asleep she prefers her own (less hot) space.

Bisbee will say one of her favourite things is the number of presents 'she' has received. We have told all our friends and family to make sure and give Bisbee plenty of attention when arriving as she will notice, whereas Annabelle won't. What that has meant is that any gift that enters the house also becomes Bisbee's. In fact all Annabelle's 'key' items (including some from this Top 10 List) have been used by Bisbee. Her current favourites are the baby pillow and the play mat.

There have been moments when enthusiasm takes over though and we have to remember she is still a dog - the door being knocked has involved Bisbee darting over Annabelle and almost knocking her out of my arms. A fly coming in scared Bisbee enough to dive on Annabelle as she was fleeing and she accidentally stood on Annabelle when we moved her from a seat. Thankfully there have been no injuries to either Bisbee or Annabelle.

One strange thing I have found is that people were insistent on telling us that our love for Annabelle will surpass our love for Bisbee and we couldn't agree less. Just as when you have another child and your heart grows that is exactly how we feel. If anything I have become so conscious on making sure Bisbee isn't left out and knows how much we love her. Right now I have Annabelle dozing to my left and Bisbee dozing to my right and my heart couldn't feel happier.

The extra time at home only makes me love both the girls more. We play games - together, I make up songs with both their names and when Laura's here we all dance around the kitchen or snuggle on the couch. We go on walks together, we hang out together and I can't wait for our first road trip together.

I also can't wait to see the friendship between them growing as they get older.

We are certainly looking forward to spending as much time with these two as possible!
So in answer to the question Bisbee couldn't be better with her :)

The answer to question 1 was that we had Annabelle on our short list as a name that she could shorten as she got older (and we can't do much with Sarah or Laura so wanted her to have options) and on the day we found out we were having a girl I was wearing a top that said Belle so it just made sense.

And question 2 - is yes Annabelle is a great baby, likes to sleep and eat and has a pretty cute smile that makes us fall in love on the daily. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Baby Blogging - Surrogacy - Did You Know?


In the world of making babies there are so many options available that in a lot of ways it can be overwhelming. It's almost strange that we can say our way - via IVF- was fairly straight forward. Here's the post on our process and our Vlog on why IVF.
Image from edX

Recently surrogacy has become a discussion, not for us, but for someone close to us who is unable to carry a baby due to health issues affecting their back. The discussions we have had around the surrogacy process has been eye-opening. So I thought I would share.

For a start in the UK the waiting list to even get on the list for a surrogate is huge - and with some agencies their waiting list is closed. Even when you get on a list it can be up to 5 years before you get matched with a surrogate and then start the process. Can you imagine waiting 5 years to even start a fertility journey? And every aspect of it is a waiting game where you can't change anything no matter what you do.
Image: Quora
In the USA surrogacy is a transactional process and therefore waiting lists are significantly smaller but costs are significantly higher, quotes are around £140k but you usually get two tries.

In the UK as surrogates can't do it to make money so costs are lower but when you include agency fees you are still looking at £50-£60k for one try with the surrogate.

Part of the challenge is the number, of lack thereof, of surrogates. As women are waiting to have children and complete their family later on in life the opportunity for them to then become a surrogate is reduced. Reading through articles it is not recommend that women over 37 become surrogates as it can add health complications and make the process harder.

Another challenge is when it comes to 'the parents', even though the egg and sperm don't belong to the surrogate, the surrogate is still deemed the 'mother'. It means the 'parents' have no rights until they are legally assigned, it also means the surrogate could decide to keep the child and the 'parents' would have no rights - regardless of the fact an agreement would have been drawn up.

It is mind-boggling and eye-opening and devastating when you know someone who only has this option in order to have a child.

Some of the resources we have come across that make for interesting reading include: this shares the story of someone being a surrogate.  (COTS) tells the story of how surrogates are matched with couples are campaigning for law reform on surrogacy in the UK and improving the process for both parties.

Both COTS and Brilliant Beginnings help set up arrangements with  UK and American surrogates but costs for USA support start at £12k with Brilliant Beginnings who are heavily involved with the process or £850 at COTS who require you to complete the lengthy paperwork.

The reason for writing this post is simple, awareness. When reading the extended profile of our donor one answer stood out, when asked why he was donating he said 'I heard on Radio 2 that in the UK there was a lack of sperm donations making it even harder for those couples wanting to get pregnant but unable to'. So he donated to make a family possible for a couple like us and we couldn't be more grateful. If one person reading this thinks the same way it could change a families life in the best way.

Don't get me wrong I know surrogacy is a different offer, a very different offer. Being pregnant for 9 months and then passing a child to their 'parents' would not be easy but one of the key things all the surrogacy agents offer is counselling and the opportunity to talk to those who have done it before.

If you want to help please contact one of the agencies above or simply share this post. As I say just one person seeing this could change a families life forever.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Blog Takeover: The 5 Year Interior Itch - Top Tips For Freshening Up Your Home!

We are celebrating 5 years in our house this November (here's the story of us buying it) so when Natalie offered to takeover our blog again with tips to freshen up homes we thought it would be interesting to see what she suggested.....

Over to you Nat:
You move in, you decorate, you live and then boom – five years later you get the itch! Whilst the lovely Sarah and Laura have been making a beautiful nursery space for their new arrival (so exciting!) I have been giving my once shiny new furniture and freshly painted walls the side eye and can’t help feeling that I now have tired, outdated interiors. Whether you’re redecorating to sell or because you want something a little bit new, here are some tips on refreshing your interiors to resemble hot trends!

Decluttered design
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Scandi design has been the rage for a while now and is perfect for those who love simple, clean and minimal interiors. The key to this trend is to have fewer of ‘things’. That’s right, the dreaded clutter! Reassessing your belongings not only lightens the load on your home, decluttering is actually good for your health making this interior trend a very beneficial one. Decluttering also lets you show off your home’s best side when it comes to hosting guests or potential buyers.

Also, this design lends itself beautifully to those who constantly change their minds about interior trends as it is a super transitional style that incorporates natural colours and simplicity!

Industrial interiors
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Think exposed brick, plumbing and hanging bulbs for an industrial chic look! To achieve this style, my top tip would be to stick with the black and grey palette; I love grey walls with black accents so as to not make the space look too dark. Adding new features like lighting with exposed wiring is a hot trend I am seeing all over Pinterest, the bulbs themselves are large and often look finished without a lightshade.

Green havens

Photo Credit: UnSplash
Plant lover? Time to update your interiors with some more green! Here, to freshen your interiors, add some living ornaments and décor! If you haven’t already, consider painting the walls white and incorporating light coloured pieces of furniture with plenty of shelving for plants! Having a light and bright canvas means the vibrant colours of the plants will pop against the background creating beautiful breathing space!

Rustic pieces

Photo Credit: UnSplash
Redoing your interiors also gives you a chance to update your old furniture, but it doesn’t have to cost the world! Choose reclaimed and second-hand items or you can upcycle existing pieces yourself. If you are looking to sell your home and want it to look beautiful without having to buy brand new things, home staging is also a great way to furnish a space without wasting funds in new pieces or extra storage!

Holiday at home
Photo Credit: UnSplash
Sometimes we simply do not have enough time or money within the year to jet off to somewhere hot and tropical, so why not create a holiday in your home? Whether it is a pineapple cushion for your sofa or adding a Swiss cheese plant for a palm tree effect, these are simple ways to try and brighten your home with a few tropical and colourful additions.

Armed with these tips you should hopefully get that new home feeling without having to redo the whole thing. Nothing beats an interior refresh to make your house feel brand new. Plus, it is a fab way to breathe new life and energy into your own life too!


Thank you Nat, we will get to work on these now!!

Check out Nat's blog at and follow her on Twitter

Previous posts include:

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Baby Blogging - Top 10 Must Haves - Newborn!

We thought we would add our post to the 100's of other blog posts recommending 'must have' baby products. What we would recommend is doing what's right for you and your budget.

Our budget was fairly limited and we will be forever grateful to the family and friends who were incredibly generous at our baby shower and how have continued to turn up with gifts since Annabelle arrived.

Before starting the list the main bit advice we would give is to focus on stocking up essentials - all babies will need nappies, wipes, clothing in various sizes and muslins. All of these items can be purchased for fairly low costs and are well worth getting in advance.

Our top 10 are in no particular order:

1) A body wrap. You may have heard the term 'baby wearing' and however you do it we recommend it. For a start it is super convenient and once you figure out how to do it it's quicker than setting up a buggy. It's also easier to get around compared to using a buggy. 

We have an Amawrap that we have been able to use with Annabelle since birth and she seems content to put in it, even in the heat of summer. What's even better is she falls straight to sleep so I don't have to worry about her wriggling in it. I have also been able to breast feed on a walk without it being obvious. 

2) Muslins. We have two types, small, easy to use to mop up milk and purchased cheaply from supermarkets and then the larger type. These are useful for public breastfeeding, swaddling Annabelle and (in summer) used to cover the car window.

3) Talking of swaddling. One of the really useful gifts we received was a newborn swaddle. We use it every night and it means that Annabelle sleeps up to 12 hours with Sarah waking her up to feed.

4) Also helping with sleep is the Cosydream. A body support that can be used in any cot/crib. The memory foam mattress adapts to the baby's shape and the head support keeps the baby's head round and stops them rolling around. The other benefit is the adjustable leg support that raises Annabelle's legs to give back support and the sensation of being in the womb (or so it's said). We move the Cosydream to wherever Annabelle is sleeping.

5) The final recommendation (for sleep) is the beside you cot/crib. We didn't realise that babies have to sleep in your room until 6 months (call us naive) but since finding that out we looked into cots that had a roll down side so we could have Annabelle right next to Sarah making it easy to feed Annabelle and put her back without waking her up. We got one on deal from GroupOn that is working well. It has the added benefit that you can rock it so if Annabelle does wake up there is a way to soothe her.

6) Breast pads. At first Sarah was like 'do I really need them?' The answer for the first few days was 'not really' but in the days to follow that changed very quickly to 'definitely'. It is amazing when milk comes in it really comes in and it's almost impossible to stop. And unless you want to ruin bras or soak tops then they are essential.

A part B to this is also Lanolin, it was a life (or boob) saver. I have used it from the start and thankfully we have only had a few days where it has been painful (see breastfeeding post here)

7) On the note of milk, the bottles and bottle kits available are amazing. All the ones we have come across come with everything you need to sterilize the bottles, by adding a small bit of water before popping in the microwave. It makes them easy to travel with.

Tommee Tippee are the range we have come across with the best selection. We have been lent a bottle warmer that is small enough to travel with but does require a plug. The other items we have include a sterilizer tray that works for a number of bottles at the same time. The best is a the breast pump though, which comes in a box that can also be used to sterilize all parts at the same time.

The pump is lightweight and easy to use but it does require a slight forwards tilt to maximise the amount of milk collected. It's also not the quickest process, it takes about 40 minutes to get about 3 oz. It is meaning we can give Annabelle a bottle a day though to get her used to it.

8) When feeding Annabelle, or she's napping our other essential is a baby pillow. It is SO useful and allows Annabelle to nap anywhere, including by the window to get exposure to the sun (as she had a small bit of jaundice). It also takes the pressure of your back when feeding.

9) Fold away changing mat. We purchased this mat when it was advertised online and it has been worth every penny. We have it to hand downstairs at home and it is so easy to pack away making changing anywhere possible. We have used it in the buggy, on the couch and on the mats at our baby class.

10) With everything Annabelle needs we knew we would need a lightweight bag and we both prefer backpacks. We found one similar to this and highly recommend it. It is large enough to carry a pack of nappies, wipes, two changes of clothes, a muslin (or two) and bottles in an insulated front pocket, that can keep bottles warm.

And a final point - nappies are essential, disposable or cloth. As a starter we have found Aldi nappies - 85p for 24 they are a perfect. They have the colour strip that changes from yellow to blue when the nappy is soiled and a design on the front making it easy to tell the front from the back. With a newborn we are going through 10-15 nappies a day so cheap and effective are essential.

The nappies won the Mother&Baby awards, are recommended by netmums and were approved by Good Housekeeping.