eleven-month-baby-update-lifebylotte

I know, I’m meant to be having a two-week break from blogging, but it’s Daph’s eleven month birthday today, and I couldn’t not do an update. My goodness, she has changed so much since my last post. In fact, let me go and read it to compare and contrast…

Right, back now! So I don’t think I mentioned before that Daph was booked in to have a hearing test thanks to her lack of proper babbling. This was arranged ages ago but we had to wait for about ten years for an appointment – eventually we got a cancellation. It was at St Helier Hospital in Sutton (finding a space in the car park was fun. Not) and was quite a random affair, consisting of a woman trying to distract Daph with toys while another woman behind a two-way mirror played sounds from two giant speakers either side of the room. I *think* the point was to see if she would turn around for the sounds or not, but it was quite hard for even me to understand what was actually going on, so not sure how a baby is supposed to cope with it. Daph found the whole thing rather boring and started doing her screeching thing after twenty minutes or so, but was a brave little soldier when they put some strange headphones on her and started staring into her ears. After the test, we went to see the consultant who said she had passed with 95% and that they couldn’t rule out partial hearing loss in one ear but that she can definitely hear, and her hearing was not affecting her ability to babble. They scheduled another appointment for us to come back and have her ears test separately in September (seems a bit pointless TBH, 95% is good enough in my book!).

The consultant then said she would refer us back to our GP, to get her referred to a developmental specialist about her lack of balance (she still falls backwards when sitting sometimes) and lack of babbling. The referring thing is quite bizarre – not sure why she couldn’t have referred us directly herself. But anyway. We went away feeling a bit depressed – the consultant wouldn’t really give us any indications what she thought might be ‘wrong’ with Daph but did trot out that old line about all babies doing things in their own time blah blah.

Then, about a week later when we first got the keys to the new house, Daph was sitting in her new bedroom while we were ignoring her and chatting about wallpaper or something and, as if to stick two fingers up at all of us, she decided to START BLOODY BABBLING.

Properly babbling too. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved about anything. And since then, she’s been doing it most days, usually when she wants to get someone’s attention. It’s so cute, the cutest sound in the whole world, after her squeaky giggle. Since the babbling began, she has also started making more obvious word-like sounds, and will now happily ‘chat’ away with us in her very particular brand of gobbledegook, as well as ‘talking’ to her toys.

So. We then had our GP appointment. I felt a bit stupid when we turned up because the babbling had been my main concern. He took one look at Daph (he’s a paediatric specialist) and declared that she seemed completely normal. In fact, he said she seemed very bright and alert and that she was probably – and I have to cringe a bit here – just LAZY. ‘She’s realised she’s going to spend the next 80 years or so talking and walking so she’s decided not to bother just yet. And why should she when you two are waiting on her hand and foot?’ I could have kissed him. He said he didn’t see any need to refer her to a specialist yet, as he was sure she would do everything on her own schedule, and implored us to help her out a bit less so she had to try harder. He remarked on her impressive fine motor skills and said the fact that she screamed her head off in fear when he examined her was a positive sign of stranger anxiety (which is a great thing to have apparently!). He said he couldn’t ‘guarantee’ that there wasn’t an issue but he was pretty convinced she was totally fine, and we are coming back for another review with him in September. After that, he’ll refer her if he thinks it’s necessary.

And since that appointment, she’s suddenly been coming on leaps and bounds. There’s no sign of actual crawling yet but she gets herself into a crawl position all the time and reaches forwards with her hands, and she’s also started bum shuffling to get to things she wants. I can no longer leave her in one spot and assume she’ll still be there if I come back five minutes later. She’s falling over a lot less from sitting too, and has even pulled herself up into a sitting position from lying on her back a couple of times, by grabbing onto things nearby. I feel like she’s maybe just a few weeks away from crawling now – possibly even less. Which is a bit of an EEEK as well as a YAY.

Oh god, this is all a bit serious and heavygoing. Apols. But it has been a real weight off my mind. In my darkest hours, Dr Google convinced me that she had all sorts of things wrong with her and it was so frustrating to see all her NCT peers already crawling and climbing stairs, when she couldn’t even sit independently.

So onto the more exciting stuff. I feel like in the last week or so specifically, we have finally started to communicate properly. Daph now responds to commands – it is the weirdest thing! Her memory is developing too – so now if I ask her to find her favourite book or toy from a pile of things, she will rummage through them until she finds what I’ve asked for, then wave it triumphantly at me.  This is kind of epic, I have to say. When you first have a baby it feels like they are just a little alien blob, and although you feel so protective of them, you don’t really have this kind of connection because they basically haven’t got a clue what the hell is going on. But now, Daph knows when it’s tea time, knows when we’re going for a walk, knows when I’m going to change her nappy or give her milk. She knows who I’m talking about when I mention Granny or Daddy or the cat. It’s such an incredible thing, seeing her brain develop in real time, and I absolutely adore spending time with her at the moment.

Other things… Daph is a lot more clingy nowadays, and will cuddle up when sitting next to me, or put her face against my chest if she sees someone she doesn’t know and feels shy. She’s also started trying to climb on to my lap if I sit next to her to play, which is really really sweet.

As for sleep. Ha. It is still shit, quite frankly. It’s also totally inconsistent – some nights she’ll sleep through, others she wakes up at 3am for no reason just crying, and will only stop if I go into comfort her. She doesn’t particularly seem hungry, so I wonder if it’s separation anxiety or she’s having bad dreams. She’s not teething at the moment, I don’t think, and she hasn’t had much of a growth spurt this month. The worst thing is the waking at 5am and wanting to start the day – this is STILL most mornings for us and it’s such torture. I just don’t know how to stop it and nothing has worked so far. I’m just praying for the darker mornings to start as I am sure the light at 5am doesn’t help. The saddest thing is that the sleep deprivation has put me right off having another baby. I genuinely don’t think I could go through this again (I mean, I know I technically could, but the idea of it fills me with dread) and the idea of having two kids to look after on this little sleep seems like some kind of awful hell that I’d rather save myself from…

We’re moving into the new house next week and after that I am seriously starting to consider a sleep consultant. Oh, and in case anyone suggests it, we have tried leaving her to cry but my god is she persistent. Also, our neighbours downstairs have complained twice about the noise (ouch) so we are really wary of pissing them off further. (Although to be frank, the snoring I touched on in a previous blog ought to be a criminal offence. Bloody hypocrite!)

I’ve probably missed a million things as I can waffle on for Britain when it comes to Chip, but this is already ridiculously long so I shall wrap up here! And just to end on a positive note – despite all the worry and the lack of sleep, I think I am ‘enjoying’ Daph more than I ever have done – this is such a wonderful wonderful age, and I can already see what she’ll be like as a toddler. It’s so exciting, and every day I feel more teary eyed and proud of her!

paint-lifebylotte

Hello, hello! As suspected, I’ve been having a manic week or so since we got the house, trying to get everything ready. We’re hoping to move in closer to the end of July, so I’m going to take a two-week break from blogging (a summer holiday if you will!) while we get everything sorted, as it’s a bit too chaotic trying to fit everything in right now. And no one likes those crappy short posts bloggers do apologising and saying how they’re too busy to blog, do they? Ahem. Decorating a house that’s 40 minutes away in the car with a baby that needs to nap between 1.30pm and 3pm every day in her own bed (nowhere else will do now apparently – a new thing, she will ONLY sleep in her cot) is a bit of a logistical nightmare. But I’m enjoying the challenge. I think (so far!). Here’s a quick update of some things that have been happening, for those that are interested:

1 The house has ginormous windows. They are three metres wide in some rooms. Which is lovely, but means finding curtains or blinds to fit is an absolute piggin’ nightmare. An expensive nightmare too (all that fabric!). Last night I discovered the immense stash of vintage curtains for sale on eBay however, and literally lost four hours of my life trawling through them. You have been warned. Now I just need to convince Oli that pink velvet curtains are the way to go… Hmm, what was I saying before about there being too much pink in my flat?

2 In non-house-related news, the first time we took Daph to see the house, she started babbling. And not just a bit, but PROPERLY babbling, babababababa and gagagagagaga and dadadadada and all kinds of similar things (although she’s yet to do mama or any ‘m’ sound). It’s literally the cutest noise in the world. We finally have an appointment next week for her to be referred to a paediatric specialist about her development which is of course ironic, because now I can no longer say she doesn’t babble. I am so relieved, but also a little in shock. I also highly suspect that the Teletubbies have something do with this new skill.

3 We’re painting most of the house white, just to begin with. But in our bedroom, I wanted to go dark – I’m totally obsessed with dark paint at the moment. We’re testing the above three colours from Farrow & Ball today, but my money’s already on Railings (which I have on my front door to my flat, and I love). Inchyra Blue is one of their new colours however, and does intrigue me – there aren’t that many examples of it being used online yet as it’s *so* new so I’m keen to see how it turns out. Will it be too blue? One colour I really just can’t get on with in interiors is blue, dunno why. I love the teal-y green of it, but then that’s also quite a commitment to colour, whereas Railings is basically a dark neutral. Ooooh, so excited (loser).

4 Another exciting loser development – after years of getting angry with crappy washing machines, I have finally treated myself to a Miele. It arrives tomorrow and I am more excited about it than pretty much anything I’ve ever bought online. I bought it from Appliances Online and have been so impressed with their service. And prices. Check ’em out if you’re in need of some white goods (and no, I wasn’t paid or given a discount to say this).

So yes, that’s about it from me. A thrilling update I’m sure you’ll agree. I shall be back in a couple of weeks when we are hopefully finally all moved in. Can’t believe we’ll be getting all our stuff out of storage after nearly a year now – will be intriguing to rediscover what we actually have. Hope you are all having lovely summers – at least the sun is shining today – and speak soon!

leaving-london-lifebylotte

Hello new life

I’m sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Last week was a very strange week – not just for me, of course, but for the entire country. I woke up (at 5am) on Friday to the news that no one saw coming and it really did shock and surprise me. I want to be positive about it, because there was actually a lot about the EU I really really disagreed with (not least the fact we never actually chose to join the EU as it manifests now), but I hate to see people already suffering the consequences of a decision that has basically split the country in two. I also cannot bear the fact it has given Nigel Farage something to be smug about, and, on a more serious note, given that tiny minority of racists in our country the confidence to air their views publicly.

I don’t really want to write more on this because one thing I have realised over the last few days is that there’s such a thing as TOO many opinions. TOO many voices, all clamouring for attention. I don’t want to be one of them. The media lately has disgusted me to the point I’m ashamed to call myself a journalist (and I know, I’m not a real journalist, I write about cushions but still, it’s listed as my profession on my car insurance…). I’m too ignorant and don’t think my thoughts consequential or erudite enough. All I’ll say is that I feel sad, and especially sad that there is so much anger and contempt on both sides at the moment, and that I hope that we can turn this situation around into something more positive. I don’t believe things are black and white – ‘in’ or ‘out’ with no middle ground. There has to be a compromise, a solution that both sides can bear. We need someone to take control now and show us true leadership – this is what I’m hoping for in the next few days and weeks.

In the midst of this horrible, historic Friday, something strange happened for us personally. You’ll know already if you follow me on social media, but we finally exchanged contracts on the house we’ve been trying to buy for two and a half months. There was a huge amount of uncertainty leading up to us finally getting the place, thanks to various issues further up the chain. A few times we thought we were going to have to pull out, and once the woman we were buying from threatened that she would pull out. So I can honestly say I never really thought it would happen. And in fact, up to about an hour before it finally happened I still wasn’t sure it would, as Oli was having serious doubts about buying somewhere when it’s very likely that property prices will now start to drop.

But we went ahead because we believe once you’ve committed to something for the right reasons, you have a duty to see it through. We get the keys today. Now I have to start choosing wallpaper, shopping for fridge freezers and washing machines (this hasn’t got any more interesting since the last time I did it, sadly) and dealing with the momentous task of moving house with a baby. All very exhausting already, but I’m excited.

I decided not to talk much about this house on my blog because after all the ups and downs we’ve had trying to find a home for our little family I didn’t want to jinx it. But I will say now that it’s not in London. We had so much soul searching around the decision to move out of the capital. We both love it here, but lately we’ve also both seen its real and significant downsides when it comes to children – the lack of space, the pollution, the traffic, the tiny gardens and the ridiculously steep house prices (ha! possibly not for much longer). So we’re moving to the suburbs. Back to Surrey, where I was born and bred. And ironically, to the very same town that I lived in until I was 13. That in itself seems super weird (not least because hardly anything has changed!) but I had a happy childhood there – pretty much the happiest of childhoods in fact, and that was enough to convince me that I wanted the same for Daphne.

Oli and I have both agreed there’s no way we would have bought this house if it weren’t for Daph. It’s scaring us both already. Stupid little things like not being able to use our Oyster cards at the station (you have to buy paper tickets – how quaint!). And we both love Wimbledon, and I’m going to miss all our little haunts so much. Hell, I’m even going to miss Colliers Wood’s Mothercare, where I currently spend 78% of my time waiting to get served. It actually makes me quite emotional even writing this – we’re planning to move in in a couple of weeks and I’m already making a list of things we must do ‘one last time’. Silly little walks that we used to do regularly, that kind of thing. I’ve lived here for five years now – the longest I’ve lived anywhere as an adult – and I really do feel at home here.

But the new house. The house is lovely (pic up there ^). It’s a 1960s terrace with an 80ft south-facing garden. It has a garage. I’m fairly sure it has an outside tap (the true marker of adulthood in my eyes – that and paying someone to clean your windows on a regular basis). I will have my own office, which fills me with nerdish joy. It’s in pretty good nick but we want to put our own stamp on it, and I am so excited about having the opportunity to decorate again, after so long in my tiny flat with its grey and pink colour scheme that now bores me to tears. I hope to blog about it a lot, so watch this space if you like interiors blogs. (This is meant to be an interiors blog, believe it or not, but I hadn’t had much to write about on that front lately. No such excuses now).

So yes, a funny old week. Life moves on, as it must. As Mr Hawking once said: ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change’. Change may be hard, but it is inevitable, and change is good for the soul. The future is looking… different.

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!

shoes-lifebylotte

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.

shoes-3-lifebylotte

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.