ten-month-baby-update-lifebylotte

Where did my ‘baby’ go?!

My little Daph turned ten months old last Friday. Except, she’s not my little Daph anymore. She might be better called my giant Daph seeing as (to me at least) she looks about eight now. She’s so tall – at our last check up the health visitor said she was only on the 50th percentile for height and weight but I somehow can’t believe it – I swear she is bigger than most of the other babies her age. She’s now wearing clothes age 12-18 months and even some of these are looking a little too small on her (dresses especially – I guess she would be tall given that her dad is 6 ft 3). It’s all kind of funny looking back now and thinking a year ago I was so worried about how tiny she was going to be – and she was, when she was born, but she has certainly more than made up for it now.

As well as being tall, she is the least babyish baby I know – instead, she’s all opinions and frustrations and demands and fiercely independent already. It’s lovely, but also kind of heartbreaking – I really feel already she’s more of a child than a baby now. If I try to bring her into our bed for a cuddle in the morning she squirms and whacks me in the face and wriggles and generally lets me know that cuddling is off thank you very much, she has far more important things to be doing. In fact, the only time I get cuddles are when I pick her up after a nap and she’s SO happy to see me – she puts her little arms around me and her face against my neck and it’s just lovely. Oh, and in the middle of the night when she has her dream feed – it’s the only time she’s truly relaxed and she’ll sit there drinking softly in my arms like she used to as a newborn.

I feel like in the last month or so she’s suddenly really developed in her personality – she knows what she wants and when she wants it, and if she doesn’t get it, then basically all hell breaks lose. My mum has already warned me she is going to be a drama queen. I started googling a bit (I know, I know) to find out whether tantrums were possible in babies so young, and apparently they are – hurray! I wouldn’t say she has full-on tantrums yet but she marks her frustrations loudly and often. Mostly by shrieking at the top of her lungs and mostly in public where I just want to die of embarrassment. The only thing that stops her shrieking is giving her what she wants, which of course we do, because she’s still a baby even if she doesn’t think she is, and too young for discipline; or by distracting her with something shiny or more interesting. She really really doesn’t like being a baby and is desperate to do everything herself. I suppose I’d always had that impression from the second she was born – what with the colic and refusing to breastfeed – so it’s not really a great surprise. Her latest thing is hating being spoon fed – she wants to do it herself – and again she shrieks if we try to feed her. Apparently it’s an actual ‘thing’, called spoon refusal – but it’s really really annoying and means mealtimes are taking forever!

She is best described as feisty (and I think some people call babies like Daph ‘spirited’) – an utter delight when she’s happy and things are going her way, a bit of a handful when they’re not.

Anyway, even though she’s hard work and I look at friends with so-called easy babies with more than a touch of weary envy, I actually love the fact that she’s already got her own thoughts and opinions about stuff. I sort of admire her for not being content with her lot and I tell her every day that she’s going to change the world. Time will tell!

In order to curb her frustration at not being able to communicate, we’ve been going to baby signing classes – I’ll have to write about that separately, but she does love it. And she already understands most of the basic signs (although she can’t sign them yet) and it definitely helps to be able to ask her if she wants milk by signing and seeing her reaction. She also understands quite a few words now and will look at whatever you’re referring to – the cat’s name (she loves the bloody cat), ‘trees’, ‘daddy’ etc etc.

Developmentally, she’s coming on slowly but surely. This week she said her first consonants – ‘ba’ and ‘da’ FINALLY. I nearly keeled over in shock when she just casually threw ‘da’ into the mix when I was driving back from my parents’ house the other day. She didn’t babble it, but the main point is that I now know she *can* make that sound if she wants to, and again, the fact that she doesn’t doesn’t surprise me much – she clearly can’t really see the point. She has also been making lots more obviously vocal sounds – all kind of crazy but definitely attempts to talk, and we can have lovely weird ‘chats’ back and forth. I feel less worried about this side of things now but of course, there’s still that thing at the back of my mind that she’s behind a little – but I’m trying to relax and just let it go, and see how she is when she turns one.

She’s also started to wriggle about a LOT more when she’s sitting down – twisting and putting her arms forward into a crawling position. She still gets mightily pissed off if you put her on her tum for tummy time however, and rolls straight back onto her back, but we’ve been trying to trick her a bit by holding her legs in a wheelbarrow position and getting her to try to ‘walk’ forward with her hands. And she’s obsessed with standing up – she just wants to be held up standing all the time (another reason for her meltdowns if I try to sit her down). But she can’t stand alone yet. I am sure her general mood and disposition will improve a lot when she is finally more mobile and able to get to where she wants to be without any help.

One last thing I must mention is her sleep! It’s gone a bit shit, to be frank. She was so great for about three months, sleeping through the night every night and just having a dream feed at 10pm. Then we dropped her third nap, as she stopped being tired at bedtime, but that had the knock-on effect of her being exhausted by 5pm and having to be asleep by 6pm. She seems to be able to do 11 hours at night with only one wake up for a feed, but because she’s going to bed at 6pm, that means at 5am she’s awake and NOTHING will persuade her to go back to sleep. Instead she lies there every morning screeching and talking to herself until we get her up – we usually manage to ignore her (with a quick check to see she’s OK) until 6am, when Oli goes in and gets her up for the day, but being woken up at 5am EVERY DAY is truly horrid. We can never get back to sleep after she wakes, and it means she’s exhausted by 8am so all her naps have to happen early, and thus the cycle continues! It also means she doesn’t want her last bottle before bed as it’s too close to her tea, which means she’s now started waking up twice for milk in the night. We’re kind of at our wits’ end with it, and I’ve now decided (after last night/this morning when as a Father’s Day gift she decided the day should start at 4.30am) that I’m going to let her have a very quick micro nap at 5pm every day and move her bedtime back to 7pm. Fingers bloody crossed!

Oh and one last thing – she has seven teeth. Four on the top and three on the bottom, but the fourth bottom tooth seems to be MIA. Its twin came through ages ago now. All the others came through in pairs so it’s a bit peculiar – I hope it doesn’t mean it’s never going to appear!

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Not pictured: my shoes

I am very pleased with the sort of accidental alliteration of my subtitle up there. Not sure if alliteration is quite the right thing and am too tired to look it up, but you know what I mean. Shoes. Issues. They rhyme.

Anyway. I have never been a shoe girl. I am a handbag girl and a real-jewellery girl and a full-time make up girl. But shoes. Meh. I can take you or leave you. Not literally of course, as I have to have something on my feet (even at my most drunk I’ve never done the walking home barefoot in London thing – YUCK). But I’ve never got excited by an overpriced pair of stilettos. Or a swish pair of trainers. Shoes to me must be functional and smart, but I don’t want shouty shoes that draw attention to my feet. I don’t want shoes that cause me to hobble like a geriatric after five minutes’ wear. IMO there’s nothing fun or glamorous about looking crippled, or like a wobbly newborn giraffe.

This is my main beef with shoes: you try them on in the shop, they look wonderful and feel comfortable and not too high to walk in. You get them home, you wear them out once (so you’ve ruined the undersides, making them non-returnable), they rip your feet to shreds and you either cover your blistered bits with that moleskin stuff (doesn’t work, always just works its way loose) for round two or you consign them to the back of the wardrobe and pretend you didn’t spend £80 on them for one wear.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just have weird feet.

Either way I rarely buy shoes. I buy enough shoes to get by. I love winter because I can basically buy one pair of (nice) boots every year with a mid heel and then I don’t have to think about my feet until the dreaded warm weather rolls around.

If it was up to me,  I’d basically wear those mega-comfy black thong flip flops from Accessorize all summer long. I have about eighty pairs – every year I buy a fresh pair but forget to throw the old ones away, so I spend lots of mornings trying to work out which flip flop goes with which flip flop (usually I work this out by taking a look at how worn the underside is – the really knackered ones have holes in the bottom. Nice). When I was running my PR business I truly struggled with the professional-shoes-for-the-summer thing. It was a pain in the arse. I usually carried a pair of heels in my bag and wore my trusty flip flops right up until walking into the client’s showroom.

Anyway the best thing about being on mat leave and freelancing again from home (in my pyjamas, in bed, most of the time) was not having to think about shoes at all. But last Saturday, as I mentioned, we went out for dinner to celebrate Oli’s birthday. I had a new frock. It covered all the postpartum bits of me that are less than picturesque right now but also nipped me in, reassuring me that all is not actually lost in the waist department (hurrah!). What I didn’t have, however, were any fancy shoes to go with it.

I mean, of course I do have fancy shoes. But they’re all really, really ancient. I plucked three pairs, circa 2002, 2005 and 2008, from my wardrobe and tried them all on with the dress. Picked a pair of gold wedgey things that didn’t seem to have aged too badly and off we went.

It was as we were walking to the restaurant I noticed that something felt a bit odd with my right shoe. Like I had something stuck to the bottom of it – chewing gum or a chocolate wrapper or something. I looked down but there was nothing obvious attached. I carried on walking, aware of a strange ‘flopping noise’ as I tottered.

We went into the restaurant (Roka Mayfair, which by the way was absolutely bloody lovely – very much recommend for a treat). We were seated at a lovely table right by the window. I wanted to wash my hands (tube travel + sushi = norovirus) so I stood up to ask the hostess where the toilets were. As she led me towards them, I realised that my shoe had gone from feeling weird, to feeling wrong. One of my legs was suddenly shorter than the other.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, the wedge part of my shoe fell off as I was walking across a very posh, very expensive restaurant in Mayfair.

It took a few seconds before I realised what had happened. I stopped, scurried back to pick the previously GLUED ON (cheap shoes be damned!) wedge heel up and hopped back to my seat, leaving the hostess bemused as to why I had stopped following her. I then sat there feeling like a total idiot, trying to work out if I had a hairband or something (string?!) in my tiny handbag so that I could somehow reattach it. I did not.

After several minutes of Oli laughing at me as I cringed with humiliation (yes the people sitting next to me did notice what had happened and yes the posh middle-aged lady in Jimmy Choos did smirk at me) I eventually made it to the loo – by ‘pretending’ my wedge was still attached and walking on tiptoe on that foot. I don’t think anyone noticed, except for the person who followed me back up the stairs from the toilet and who would have not been able to avoid seeing that one of my ‘shoes’ consisted of just a few straps attached to my feet.

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Ain’t nothing glamorous about this blog

So yes. The moral of this story is: you need to buy shoes more than once every ten years, or you will come unstuck. Literally.

We got an Uber home.

holiday-lifebylotte

We are home from our lovely ‘holiday’! We survived. Lots of people have read my last post and asked if it was as bad as I made out – everything I wrote in the post is true, but things did get a bit better! We had one day of lovely sun on the Thursday and so we went off to the beach for an hour in the afternoon, and Daph played with the pebbles (cue me being a helicopter mother convinced she’d choke on one of them) and stared at the sea and we had an ice cream and it was almost like a real holiday. We went for a few walks with Daph in the baby sling too – that was a great solution to our non-off-roading buggy, until we both got sciatica (she’s a heavy little monster these days). Ah well.

We also went back to Totnes when the shops were open and I went a bit crazy buying things for Daph in Gazebo – which is the coolest shop ever (I’ve been going to Devon since I was a kid and it was my favourite shop back then too). We got loads of decorations for her first birthday – banners, cake decorations, napkins etc, all in Liberty print. They are SO lovely and I can’t wait for her birthday now.

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I also bought this cute ‘letters to my baby’ book (above) – which contains lots of empty envelopes with prompts on, such as ‘What I want you to know about me is…’ and ‘My first impressions of you were…’. The idea is you write a letter to your baby in each envelope, seal it up and then specify a date on which they can read them. It’s quite a sentimental idea, I know, but it really appealed to me. When I was a kid, I actually wrote letters to the future me (yes, I was a geek) and I loved opening them up and reading them as an adult – it was crazy how much my thoughts about things had changed over the years. You can find Letters to My Baby at Leafcutter Designs, along with a host of other amazing and cute things (the tooth fairy letters are so fab!).

But I am sorry if my post came across as massively negative as it was meant to be quite tongue in cheek really – I don’t mind laughing at these kinds of situations, all of the bad luck kind of amused me in the end. Worse things happen at sea and all that. Our journey back was a lot better too as we stopped off twice to visit relatives which broke the journey up nicely for Daph. And now we’re home, back in our claustrophobic flat and I’ve done eight loads of washing since we got back, and am now staring down the barrel of a lot of work. But hey ho.

In other news it’s Oli’s birthday this Saturday and so we are going out for dinner. In the evening. Alone. (Well, alone with each other, IYKWIM). My parents are kindly babysitting. It’ll be the first time we’ve been out for dinner together since Chip was born. Isn’t that a bit tragic? The thing is that my family don’t live that near me, and trying to find a babysitter seems like an impossible task as I know no one in my local area really. Which is quite sad, but that’s London for you. Anyway, I’m looking forward to it, and hoping we both manage to relax and not rush home the second we put our knives and forks down. We shall see!

One of the ladies in my NCT group asked us to share what our babies’ favourite toys were the other week, and I thought what a good blog post it would make. I’m super nosey myself and love to know what other mums have found to entertain their babies. So here goes!

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I would say that Daph has two absolute favourite toys – one is a small dinosaur rattle, the other is a soft book. They were both gifts from friends (thanks Amy and Sophy!). The dinosaur rattle is called Steve the Steg, and he’s a cockney barrowboy who’s on his last legs, having worked on a market selling fruit and veg for years. We reckon he’s around 70 now and he wheezes a lot thanks to the cold. (Yes, this is what happens when you live with a trained actor). Steve and Daph regularly have conversations (well, he talks to her through Oli, and she squeaks and shouts back) about his hard time on the market today because of the weather or what have you. Anyway, aside from his scintillating conversation skills, Steve is a hit with Daph because his stubby little legs make him very easy to grab and throw about. Oh and he’s knitted, so he’s very tactile too.

We named him Steve the Steg almost straight away but then realised he’s not actually a stegosaurus, he’s a triceratops. Oops.

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We liked Steve so much that we bought two other dinosaurs – a diplodocus (Dave, Steve’s son, who helps him out on the market) and an actual stegosaurus (Cedric, who sells cheese and wine and thinks he’s a cut above the others). Steve, Cedric and Dave are all by Best Years.

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Moving on slightly (am afeared we are coming across as rather peculiar…) to her other favourite toy – a book. Hurrah! She’s going to be a bookworm. Or a writer. The book in question doesn’t have any actual words in it, but it does have a squeaker thing disguised as a beehive, and a plastic fish attached by a cord that makes a great teether. Anyway, it’s the book Daph gets to play with after she’s eaten her meals, and she flaps her arms up and down and lights up at the sight of it. As you can see above. It’s by Tiny Years.

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I also bought her an activity cube from John Lewis which I’ve already blogged about and highly recommend – it’s been the perfect toy while she’s been getting better at sitting independently as it gives her something to lean forward and reach for. The snob in me loves the fact it’s wooden too.

What do your babies love? Let me know in the comments below!

holiday-lifebylotte

So, I read somewhere once that a holiday with a baby is just an excuse to be exhausted in a different place. How. Very. True.

I don’t understand how some parents seem to take their babies off hitchhiking around the world, climbing Everest and suchlike, and we can’t even manage a week in the West Country.

The annoying thing about all this is that I had to practically drag Oli on holiday – he was convinced it wouldn’t be worth it, that it would just be too stressful with our challenging little madam in tow. And he was bloody right. Nearly. Almost. Grrr.

I will add a caveat here, that we’re both control freaks and like everything to be ‘just so’ and we’re definitely NOT the sort of people who would go hitchhiking round the world even without a baby. But still. Here’s what we’ve been ‘enjoying’ so far this holiday…

1) We got lost on the way down because we have a new car with a fancy built in sat nav that confuses the hell out of me. It tried to be all clever and avoid the M25 which was congested, so instead we ended up going to Farnham or something, then I missed a turning and before I knew it we we’d added an hour to the journey. Adding an hour to the journey when you already have a grumpy nine month old who doesn’t want to be stuck in her car seat for five hours in one day is a Bad Idea.

2) The new car makes me very, very car sick. I only don’t feel sick if I am driving so I drove the whole way down. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that I have now apparently ‘ruined’ the new car’s engine by revving too much. Uh huh.

3) It rained the entire way down. We stopped at a Little Chef to change Daph/have a wee. We got soaked just getting in and out of the car. The Little Chef toilet will forever haunt me. No baby deserves to be changed in a Little Chef baby change. Not even the screamers. (Sidenote: good business idea – can someone open a NICE place to stop midway between London and Devon for all the middle class twats like us that want a decent cup of coffee and some avocado on sourdough as their motorway meal. I’m thinking farm shop type affair – maybe with a play area for kids? Any takers?)

4) We got to the holiday complex late and got told off by the lady on reception for not phoning her back when she’d kindly rung earlier to say that our cottage was ready at 11am. HA. As if we could make it down to Devon by 11am. We couldn’t even do that Before Baby. (We arrived at about 5.30pm – it took us three weeks to load the car FGS).

5) Daph missed her third nap in the car and spent the last hour of the journey basically screaming with frustration and trying to bite her way out of the car seat. When we got to the cottage we had a race against time to get her into her cot and to sleep as she’d been awake since 1pm. More than four hours of awake time in a nine month old = the release of the devil.

6) Daph predictably screamed with overtiredness and freaked out at being in a new place. For TWO HOURS. I had to suffocate her to sleep (obviously not really, but I had to do the pin down arms thing for about an hour before she finally went – sob).

7) The next day, we went to Totnes because Oli had seen in the information pack that on the third Sunday of every month there was a farmers’ market on. Once we’d paid £4.50 for the car park we realised that it was the fourth Sunday of the month. And that all the shops were shut. And then it started to hail. We went home after visiting the… Co-Op.

8) On Monday we decided to prioritise Daph’s naps, as she’d been waking in the night. This meant we basically couldn’t go anywhere as she sleeps for two hours in the middle of the day. We headed off to a farm shop in the afternoon to buy some lovely bread. They’d run out of bread. We stopped at Sainsbury’s on the way back.

9) Yesterday we went to Dartmouth – my favourite place in all the world. It took us about an hour to find a parking space. Then Daph started screaming, and didn’t stop. We had a delightful fish and chip lunch where Daph made As Much Noise As She Possibly Could – including tipping my pink lemonade all over my food, choking on a piece of haddock, throwing the metal tray with the bill onto the floor and screaming at all the waiters who tried to be nice to her. We then realised she’s teething so badly that she’s got little blisters on her tongue – I think she might have started to chewing it to ease the pain. She refused to eat her lunch or her dinner and only wanted milk. She cried a lot. I cried a lot.

10) I realised I was getting PMT. So much for the holiday reigniting ‘that side of things’. Oli and I stopped speaking to each other directly and instead simply slagged each other off under our breath all day. Standard.

11) While desperately marching around Dartmouth trying to get Daph to nap, a random woman came up to me and told me that I was at risk of suffocating her because I’d covered the buggy with a towel. Apparently she’d seen an article about it on Facebook. If it wasn’t for the fisherman nearby who overheard and said ‘Why don’t you mind your own business you nosey bitch?’ I might have punched her. Or cried. Again.

12) I saw the weather forecast in London. It’s a good eight degrees warmer up there.

So yes. That’s our ‘holiday’ so far. We are staying in the middle of nowhere, which I thought I would like but I do not. I have realised that I hate being in the middle of nowhere. I hate not being able to walk to anything. Having to get in the car every time we want to go out is such a pain with a baby. Sure, the views are lovely, the sounds of sheep bleating (they don’t baa, apparently, they bleat, although I am still yet to discover why) are lovely, the cottage is beautiful and very well equipped. But there’s nowhere to walk to with a buggy (we don’t have one of those all-terrain ones), unless you want to risk your life on Devonshire country lanes.

We have spent a lot of our holiday sitting on our iPad and laptop which is pretty much what we do at home.

I’m trying to think of some positives because I know I sound like a whingy old cow. We DID buy some bloody nice fillet steaks in the farm shop. We’ve been drinking a lot of alcohol. There’s wifi. At least I remembered my coat, if not my gloves (brr). There have been the odd moments of beautiful weather and deep breaths of non-polluted air. Everyone we see loves Daph (apart from the waiters in the fish and chip restaurant) and she’s loving all the attention. She’s still adorably cute even with the grumps and a sore mouth. At least we didn’t spend stupid money trying to go abroad *mind explodes at the thought of the stress*.

But I must confess, if you follow me, my Instagram feed… it’s basically a lie. But I reckon they all are, so never mind.