Category Archives: Maternity leave

Review: BUGGYFIT

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Something I’m always talking about because it’s the one constant in my weekly routine since October 2013 is Buggyfit.

I’m an active outdoorsey kind of person, so when I heard about a weekly exercise class to encourage new mums to keep fit and get out of the house, I signed up in a heartbeat. I’m really lucky that my local class really is very local. I resent driving anywhere to do exercise and don’t have the use of a car most of the time anyway, so the fact that Buggyfit is run at South Hill Park which is exactly a mile’s walk from my house is a huge bonus. I called the class weekly but actually GLF Fitness run a number of buggyfit classes throughout the week- two at South Hill Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am and one California Country Park in Finchampstead at 10:30 am on a Wednesday morning.

This is only going to be a positive review, let me tell you now!
Things I LOVE about buggyfit:

*It gets you out of the house
As a new parent whether it’s your first or subsequent child, getting out of the house is something most people actively crave, though don’t always have the motivation to do so. It’s really important not only for physical health but for mental health too- To go from an active adult with a busy work and social life to being a mummy where you might feel you’re “stuck” at home all day in the totally new environment of having a baby to look after is a huge change that can really affect mental health and happiness.

It’s hard to get out with a new baby- knowing what to take, getting them ready, choosing their layers of clothing (forgetting your extra layers), sorting snacks and drinks, working out when you’ll be able to feed them, planning outings around nap times and so on. Not to mention the utter exhaustion of parenthood which can lead to entirely forgetting your own name, let alone a water bottle for an exercise class. When R was little, we went out every day – even if it was just a short walk. We went out in any weather but then I know I’m that kind of person who will find the motivation to leave the house and get some fresh air and exercise. However, like I said before- this is the one permanent fixture in my diary- I am officially busy on a Thursday morning doing Buggyfit!

*The trainers are GREAT
Gilly and Becky run my local Buggyfit classes and they are both brilliant. They are well organised, friendly and very knowledgeable, particularly on the kind of exercises new mums should and shouldn’t do, but also generally within the fitness arena. Both can gauge fitness and strength levels of a participant very quickly and will use that to support you through injury or tiredness and push you if you want to work hard. I want to work hard but need a little motivation and they keep me going throughout the class. They’re both also great with children so whilst you’re taking part in circuits or a short run, they are happy to jiggle the prams and keep the small people amused.

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*The classes are varied
As Gilly and Becky run other classes too, they have lots of equipment and ideas to keep the classes interesting. We do a mix of fast walking, circuit training, work with bands, light handweights, some boxing, partner work and the odd bit of running for those who want to. Although you get to know the general format of the class, you never do the same route and exercises two weeks running.

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*Beautiful locations
Both California Country Park and South Hill Park are really lovely places to hang out, and the lovely manicured gardens and forested walkways at SHP make the exercise all the more enjoyable. Sometimes we have to dodge the swans around the lake, but we always have tree cover for the hot sunny summer days and somewhere to shelter on the really soggy ones. Surprisingly we don’t get that many really cold wet mornings, but the classes go ahead pretty much no matter what the weather, and people attend!

*Great people
I’ve met some really lovely friends through Buggyfit- likeminded local mummies (And daddies!). There’s always a great camaraderie in the group and when we can we pop into the cafe for a cuppa afterwards. Now my little boy is a bit bigger, he wants to run around the play park afterwards which makes heading in for a hot drink a bit more challenging, but it’s fun nonetheless.
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*They run other classes too
This has sparked a very surprising (for me) love of Boxing! We do a little boxing sometimes as part of Buggyfit with gloves and pads, and I shocked myself by loving it. It’s a great combination of cardio and strength using lots of core muscles and I find it very engaging. As a result, I’ve now attended two of Gilly’s Saturday morning Boxercise classes at Pinewood Scout Hut before Christmas and plan to attend more in the new year to build on my strength.

I also signed up to a couple of days of Gilly and Becky’s intensive 8 day Christmas Boot Camp. As we were away for much of the christmas period (and then I had a big birthday), I only attended two consecutive days (unlike the amazing hardcore lads and ladies who did all 8). However it was great fun, despite being -4 both mornings and us completing our circuits (the first day I did) and boxing (the second day) outside on frosty ground. It was a huge friendly group with a great focussed attitude. Gilly even provided us all with Epsom Salts for a nice muscle relaxing soak afterwards!

*Inspiration
I’ve been inspired to not only try Gilly’s other classes but get out a bit more by myself outside of that time. Whilst I tend to maintain some level of fitness, the lack of cycling over the last 16 months has been hard on my fitness levels and strength. So I have taken up a little running etc when I have a chance. Gilly is herself an inspiration- on her last big birthday I actually thought she was 10 years younger than she actually is! If i can be half as fit and look half as good as her when I reach that big birthday, I will be pleased!

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More info on GLF Fitness Classes here: http://www.glffitness.com/ .
Come along and try one!

Photos copyright Marla White (link to Flickr account)– taken at the Festive Bootcamp in the frost!

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South Hill Park

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I thought I’d start with a review of local facilities and work from there.

My most visited place on maternity leave was South Hill Park, It’s a Grade II listed building, housing a cinema, theatre, art workshops, dance studios, a cafe/bar and much more.

Pre Baby, I used SHP for yoga classes on a Wednesday night (until I broke my shoulder (not doing yoga I hasten to add) and the bar was frequently visited on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The centre has lovely gardens (recently revamped with a Lottery Grant) where you can picnic in nicer weather and so we’ve enjoyed using the park for many years.

Post-baby I am sometimes surprised at how often I visit (I managed fiver visits one week recently)! Twice a week there are Buggy Fit classes held around the paths at the front and back of the arts centre. I’ve been almost every week since November last year. The classes are not affiliated with the centre but the council allow the classes to take place in the grounds. Post Buggy-Fit we usually pop into the cafe for a cup of tea/ cold drink. It’s just a mile from my house (walking) so it’s an easy place to meet up with friends, and especially friends with babies. They also run a Bring In Baby Cinema showing once a week and do much more for older children, including dance classes, art workshops and more.

The restaurant/ cafe serves excellent food, including Sunday Roasts with huge home made yorkshire puddings and bottomless dishes of roast potatoes and vegetables. Sandwiches and flatbreads (especially the goats cheese and caramelised onion) and superb and the chips are hot, crisps and fluffy. The food is quire reasonably priced- The roasts are under a tenner and Sandwiches with chips come in about £7. They serve a good range of hot and cold drinks, although in the past I know the Ale hasn’t been very well kept and the alcoholic drinks are pretty pricey.

I was quite frustrated to find out in the last of my 51 weeks maternity leave that they do a hot-drinks loyalty card. I am a regular there and most the staff know my face so I was surprised to find this out and a bit disappointed that I hadn’t been offered one!

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Out the back there’s a nice kids playpark- enclosed on all sides (which is handy as a lot of dog walkers use the grounds). It’s mostly covered in sand which even my one year old seem to enjoy digging in, and has a few play equipment items – a slide, some cute wooden pigs in the sand, a rocking horse and some squares you can jump on that make a funny sound. It could do with a swing but the park gets quite busy and there might be a perpetual queue!

It’s a really great asset to the local area. The grounds are well kept, there’s always parking and it’s quite central for those that want to walk or cycle, and well served with off road cycle routes.

I’ll be there tomorrow for buggyfit!

Long time

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So its been a blooming long time since I posted. Been busy raising a baby!

Baby is almost 8 months now and it’s not been an easy ride. We are lucky that he is healthy and happy but it looks like we’ve definitely got one of the broken ones that doesn’t sleep.  Which is of course frustrating because we are exhausted all the time. We also get to hear regularly about other local mummies whose babies sleep through so there’s a little resentment and jealousy there too.  On top of that everyone had ideas of what can help but sadly nothing does seem to help this one.

Baby is unable to settle himself. There is some argument about whether self settling actually exists or not or whether it’s something that can be learnt or taught. My theory would be that it does exist but cannot be taught to some babies.  There is one baby at the Wednesday group I go to who falls asleep on the play mat every week in the middle of the hubub. No dummy or comforter. No boob, no mummy cuddle. Just flat out snoozing on the play mat in the middle of the room.

Baby feeds to sleep and can sometimes be persuaded to sleep in daddys arms.  If he is due a nap, the pram or sling will also work for day time naps.

Since Christmas the general sleep pattern has been 90min to 2hr stretches. We had one good phase for about two weeks at the start of April but then teething seemed to turn it back. We saw the doctor in April and she suggested it could be reflux so we tried gaviscon for three weeks but it made no  difference to his sleep.

Since his first tooth came through last month and the associated teething that goes with it, he has become painfully clingy and refuses to sleep in the cot. I don’t know what I can do to persuade him and I get a little more sleep when he comes in with us so I’m rolling with it. It won’t be forever.

Our children’s centre gave us a handout this week of things to do to help your baby to sleep. We already do all the things they suggested! We try!  From a straw poll of my lovely mumsnet friends, it seems his patterns are normal. …. fringe but within the bounds of normal.

Developmentally is so interesting to look at him and his little friends. Baby can sit quite happily (except when he forgets how to and bumps his head). He loves to stand but is on his tippy toes and has no balance. At all. He’s eating solids but is quite difficult and will only eat what he fancies. We give him lots of finger food for some baby led weaning and load spoons for him to feed himself with which is how he prefers things! He has one tooth on the bottom which didn’t give him too much grief coming through thankfully. He’s still uninterested by rolling but I think he could if he tried!

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He is a wonderful cheeky little chap and keeps me very entertained. It is difficult.  Especially being exhausted from total lack of sleep, and on top of that  I’m booking in my keeping in touch days at work (KIT days) , one down and nine to go. I very paid for then which is ace but a days work on no sleep is challenging.

I’m going to try to keep this more up to date from now on.
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Busy

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Before having a baby I found it hard to work out why my mummy friends were so busy. Sometimes I’d give them three days in a week I was free around work abs they’d be busy! I could never believe they couldn’t move things around for a quick cuppa.

My diary is now all in a tangle. My only fixed dates used to be:
-buggy fit 10.00 Tues
-bumps and babies 13.00 Tues
-weigh in baby clinic 1 Thursday a month 9-11
I’ve also had a few dr appts which tend to fall on a Tuesday too.

Around that I’ve been trying to meet friends and get to other groups to try them out. JP bumps and babies on Wed morning, Bounce and rhyme at GH library on Friday morning etc.

But now bumps and babies group is moving to tue mornings. So I’ll have to go to thur buggy fit. I’ve also finally got on baby massage course but turns out it is tues morning too.  And I’ve been complaining about my local Children’s Centre being a bit rubbish so I really should go to baby massage. But I’m hoping I can rush over to bumps and babies after as I hate missing out on seeing my new friends.

Things seem to keep going topsy turvy as soon as I feel like I’ve gut things organised!

There’s lots more I’d like to try-eventually swimming, special baby cinema showings of films, baby yoga. I want to do more craft at home-making things and being creative Setting up a home studio for baby photography…. 

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The body

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I actually love my post pregnancy body. I’m absolutely certain that I’m not supposed to-media and the reactions of other women tell me this. On one of my long buggy-pushing walks  I started thinking about it.

What do I love about it? I am astonished at how soft the skin is on my tummy-having stretched and then retracted back (most the way) something has happened to the elasticity which had affected the texture. I think it feels like a velvety little puppy and it is fascinating. I feel less pressure to look slim too which is weird really when you consider the media hype around ‘regaining pre pregnancy bodies’.  In fact from the second I had told people I was pregnant I felt myself relax and didn’t need to try to look slim! Strange what the brain does.

I have been relatively lucky when it comes to stretch marks. I have a few and they only appeared after baby was born. Stretch marks have a while load of stigma attached and I did some of the connotations quite patronising.  There is a habit amongst mummies to brand their stretch marks Tiger Stripes and talk about how they have ‘earnt’ them through their pregnancy. On face value the seems nothing wrong with this-it seems that women are empowered and putting a positive spin on something that is often portrayed very negatively.

The issue I have is the exclusivity. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘exclusive mummy club’ and this is a classic example in my eyes. There are hundreds of women out there with stretch marks. They are entirely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Many people find them beautiful and feel they tell the story of their life, but are told they haven’t ‘earnt’ them by joining the exclusive mummy club. ….

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4 weeks

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I feel very remiss, it’s hard to keep up with blogs! It does’t help that I have a number of blogs- personal, photography, cycling, charity and this one! Keeps me busy.

So baby is 4 weeks old today!

What is there to say?
Weight
He gets weighed on Thursday for the first time since he was 15 days old. Birth weight was 3.7kg (8lb 3oz), he only lost a very small amount and was back up to 3.5kg (8lb), and then by 15 days was up to 4.1kg (9lb). So it should be interesting! I think he is feeding well, he feels heavier each day and looks like he’s getting longer if not fatter!

Feeding
Baby has totally got the hang of breast feeding and is doing brilliantly. He hasn’t had any formula at all since….. week one(?) and he’s had one expressed bottle in the last couple of weeks when I needed to get some sleep and he wasn’t latching on well. I’m really pleased that we persevered through sleepless screaming sessions and got him feeding properly, makes me tear up with excitement to think about it!

Had our first proper public feed in a coffee shop very discreetly in town on Saturday and that felt great. I felt sorry for the poor teenage boy serving our drinks who didn’t know where to look, but I am very much of the opinion (or should I say “safe in the knowledge” that it’s an entirely normal and natural thing to be doing, and I have no embarassment around it.

Sleep
Sleep patterns are not discernable yet (no surprises). We have good and bad nights and good and bad days, which is no surprise at all to me. I have no urge to make him have a routine just let- I’m happy to let him be a baby.

On a good night he feeds about 10pm, 1am, 4am and 7:30am ish for about 15-40 minutes at a time. He doesn’t like to sleep in his moses basket straight away so he needs to be cuddled or lie on the bed next to me for a while before he’s ready to be put down to sleep. This means I get 4-5 hours sleep if I’m lucky in slots of 90 mins or so. This is ok! I can do that!

On a bad night- who knows?! We had a few colic (?) nights where he refused to sleep until about 4am, and then has had at least one other night where he woke at 1am and didn’t go back to sleep until 5:30 am with lots of crying and screaming inbetween.

Me
I’m doing ok. I really am. This surprises me a little but then I’d like to think that:
a) We came into this with realistic expectations about parenthood
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b) I have a generally quite positive attitude which helps me through

It helps having a wonderful hands-on husband who helps me out, praises my (small) accomplishments and understands when I’m a bit craggy.

Us
I think we’re pretty ok too. The above helps. A lot. We are communicating well, even when tired and grumpy. We are taking our fair share where we can, and doing what we can when we can. We’re trying not to stretch ourselves too thin and to share things where possible.

Typical week
Although there’s little pattern or routine, now Mr Bumpy has gone back to work, there’s certain things I make sure I do. I always:
shower and get dressed (which is funny as I didn’t used to worry about this when I worked from home, had a day off or at weekends)
sort the kitchen out to some presentable standard sometime during the day
leave the house– just for fresh air. Any kind. Trip to the shops or whatever.
meet someone/ have a guest every week day. Anyone!

It’s definitely helping keep me sane!

Weekends are a little free-forming still- we are yet to organise those, but they’ve been ok!

He’s brilliant, even with the lows, the highs are just amazing. People forget to tell you that 🙂

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Colic

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Colic is one of those things you hear about but never really know what it is. So when people suggested (after a few hard nights) that baby D had Colic, I was a bit surprised. Then did a bit of research. It’s a bit weird really- no-one really knows what it is or why it is- though there are theories about what causes it.

Baby D had a few nights which were awful from 10pm until 2am or midnight until 4 he was inconsolable. We’d feed him, burp him, change him, cuddle him, put him down, swaddle him, put a layer on, take a layer off, try skin to skin contact… nothing really worked. Eventually if he did settle, it would only be on me, and then with all the warnings from midwives etc about co-sleeping, I was too terrified to fall asleep with him on me…. so I lay awake for hours as if I tried to put him in his moses basket, he’s start screaming again.

The health visitor talked it through with us and said it was sounding like colic and gave us some ideas of things to try (massage and colic drops in particular). We bought the colic drops (Dentanox rather than Infacol as it’s what the pharmacy had)- it smells utterly disgusting a mix between sambuca and gaviscon! Gross. He doesn’t like it

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(as you can see from this face)

Wednesday night was another nightmare one, but Thursday afternoon and evening we tried lots of tricks including some tummy massage, sitting upright in the bouncy chair, having a bath with mummy and kept up the colic-drops. I’m not expecting it to last or happen every night but he slept beautifully last night- sat awake but happy in the bouncy chair until 11pm ish, then fed at three, six and 8:30am. And inbetween he slept in the moses basket and mummy got to sleep too! This morning he was too chilled out and happy to feed properly!

Two weeks!

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So baby D officially exists, as we took him to be registered on Monday. We were so worried about the faff of getting a baby out of the house that we ended up being 30 minutes early! Whoops!

I’m glad I got all the feeding woes off my chest early on as it really is extremely stressful. No matter how hard you think it will be, it’s harder. And more frustrating. And add in a serious reduction in sleep… it feels impossible.

Now baby is feeding better, life feels a bit easier. Husband is still home with me at the moment, going back to work on Thursday which will no doubt be really stressful as things all change again. Stressful for us both- and working out a new routine to ensure he’s not to tired to work.

Our current main problem is the night. We saw the (unexpectedly lovely) health visitor today, who says it sounds like classic colic- so we’ve bought some colic drops to see if we can reduce the 4 hours of screaming between 10pm to 2am or 12 midnight to 4am which have been happening the last few nights in a row. Fingers crossed.

Baby was back up to birth weight when weighed last monday, and has put even more weight on now! Phew- even though he’s not fed much today that doesn’t worry me as I know he’s producing wet nappies and has put on lots of weight! 🙂

I finally got around to taking a decent photograph of the three of us today.
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Next time I’ll try to get the cat in too!

Batch cooking (kindof)

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One of the things that I was told to do on maternity leave was BATCH COOKING. The idea is that you cook extra meals and stick them in the freezer so you have something easy and ready when baby arrives and you’re too busy and tired to cook.

Our freezer is pretty full already (it’s only small), mostly full of Pies from Simon’s Pies Yum yum.

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However, rather than purposefully batch cooking, I’ve made a couple of extra big meals which I’ve frozen the leftovers of.

On top of that, my parents have an apple tree which overfloweth currently with appley goodness. In fact they are sick of apples and can’t get rid of them quick enough. I’m trading some with friends, but I spent the last couple of days stewing over 7kg of apples and some locally picked blackberries too!

First lot with blackberries
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Done! Lovely apples and blackberries stewed with about a pint or two of water and a bit of sugar.

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The second lot (with massive wooden spoon and hand for perspective).

Technically these were actually second and third lot as I did some last week too.

These apples are really yummy with some natural yoghurt, and I might also blend them with raspberries and fruit juice to make smoothies!

Baby shower!

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I’m not sure how I feel generally about the concept of a baby shower in the traditional (American) sense, however a friend of mine wanted to organise one for me. We decided together (with Mr Bumpy) that it would be more of a summer garden party- some kind of last hurrah before baby arrives.

Turns out, it was great fun! Over the course of the day about 40 people came in and out to celebrate baby D’s imminent arrival, to drink leftover champagne from Miss Rainstorms wedding (thank you!!), and eat cake!

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Three of us