Harry was 17 weeks when I considered weaning. I had read so much about the government guidelines being 6 month (24 weeks),plus the health visitor drills it in to you, but Harry was always hungry, and I had already moved to combination feeding but he still wanted more. He had slept through the night from 11/12 weeks old, and all of a sudden he was waking at 1am for another feed. We brought back the dream-feed, that did the trick, but i felt we were going backwards instead of forwards.
Both my own mum and my mother-in-law told me I should start weaning. I was a little scared, and I didn’t want to damage his digestive system, but I could also see the signs. He was sitting up by himself, he was watching us eat and drink (i constantly felt guilty, and even hid when I was eating), so I gave it a go with a tiny bit if baby rice, well he nearly took my hand off!!!
We gave him 1 teaspoon of rice mixed with his milk, and he ate it so fast we had to make more, he wasn’t bothered by the spoon, right then I knew we’d made the right decision to start him weaning.
I had no idea what to do next, how do you make the transition from milk to food. What foods can you give him? Is there anything dangerous? what happens if he chokes, When do you cut down their milk? I needed guidance, so who else to turn to but Gina Ford (and my mum – of course!).
Gina Fords book ‘The contented little baby book of weaning‘ actually addresses how to wean a baby before the recommended 6 month mark, this helped a lot. She takes you through introducing food in groups, so fruit, veg then protein etc.
I was really looking forward to the weaning, and it was exciting to be starting a new stage of Harry’s life. A couple of my friends had warned me about weaning, about how tedious it could be, and you get sick of pureeing food, boiling fruit, filling ice-cube trays and cleaning it all up. To begin with it was novelly, but now I am 10 weeks in, I can not wait for Harry to be able to eat what we eat!
I followed GF’s book to the tee for about the first 8 weeks, but I found Harry was getting a bit bored of the same food, and he was starting to reject his own food, and be grabbing for ours instead. I had heard of ‘Baby-led weaning’ when I was pregnant, but as I started weaning Harry early, and he couldn’t hold his own food, I didn’t think it would work. Now Harry was gone 6 months and could easily hold his food, I tried it out a couple of times, just giving him chunks of broccoli, cheese, fruit etc to eat himself. They say it encourages the baby to develop quicker, better hand-eye coordination, and plus it means they can join in family meal times.
Once I let Harry pick his own food, I realised he could chew more than I thought (and not choke!), and so I stopped pureeing his food (hurrah!!!), and I started to make the things we were eating but mashing them up, so tuna pasta, pasta in tomato sauce with cheese and ham, roast dinners and salmon with veg. I would mash it so it was ‘textured’ (not lumpy), and he loves it. I do also give him finger foods, so pieces of pear, strawberries and in the mornings, and he either has porridge which I feed him, or I make him wholemeal toast very lightly buttered, and just cut one piece in to strips.
Harry’s nearly 7 months and seems really happy and content. Over the past two weeks, I have experimented with what I can make for him, and stopped worrying so much about following a plan, and gone with what i think is best for him. I dont include salt in any of my cooking, and use low salt, sugar free, and wholemeal ingredients where possible. I tend to give him a mixture of finger foods and mashed foods now, but i am working towards giving him more solid foods when i can.
Cutting down his milk was a bit worry of mine, and I really went with my gut instinct on this one. I cut down his lunch time milk first and about 2 weeks ago removed it completely, and spent time trying to get him to drink from a sipy cup instead, either water or juice. This took about 4 weeks, but now we have a cup of water/juice every day, and drinks it between his feeds and milk. I haven’t figured out when i will take down his afternoon milk, probably when he doesn’t drink it all, or even seem to want it anymore.
What I am really learning with each of these new stages and experiences, is you need someone to give you an initial guidance on how to manage the next stage, such as weaning, breastfeeding, but once you start working with your baby, you seen realise you will always know whats best for your own child, and you have to go with your gut (maternal) instincts. I still find the best advice comes from my mum. She brought up 4 of us, and works with children, but she will always remind me ‘mum knows best!’
If anyone has any advice or tips, i would love to hear, as i am still in the thick of the ‘weaning’ stage, and so welcome the help.
Living in London, I don’t think I will ever run out of new things to do or places to see. My downfall is I always think I am too busy to go do new things. My other half works in the drinks industry, and his patch is the city and Shoreditch, so he is constantly telling about cool new bars opening, or events happening. Before Harry, I would meet up with him after work, and check out a couple of his bars, or we would spend Saturdays trying out new places. Since Harry has arrived, I haven’t been able to make as many of these nights as I would like, in fact I think only once, but sometimes an opportunity comes along that you just can’t turn down. We were lucky enough to be offered a night in the most exclusive, and sought after room in London. Has anyone ever noticed there is a boat sitting on top of the Southbank centre, as i hadn’t and i have been there enough times! A room for London is a ‘boat’ perched on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre.
The boat is in fact a one bedroomed self catering space, where visitors are treated to an incredible view of London. With a two tiered deck, you have this fabulous panoramic view from Big Ben, to St Paul, to the more recently built Shard. We were offered a nights stay at very short notice, so we were desperate for an overnight babysitter. Thankfully my sister came to our rescue, and so we got ourselves ready for a night away from the little man, and prepared to embark on an adventure watching over London. On arrival, you sign a contract that you won’t breach any of the rules, such as taking guests back, no parties etc. You are then taken to a secret lift, that takes you up to the boat!! Unfortunately on our visit it was pouring with rain, I prayed for it to dry up so we could spend some time on the deck, but ultimately it poured even more.
I brought the champagne, and we decided to order takeaway from my favourite place, Wagamamas. This was just below the Royal Festival Hall, so just a short trip down the secret lift to collect our dinner. We opted to eat in, as we can eat out anytime in London, but we will never get our time back in this exclusive room. We sat down at the table, (which we never do at home), and had our meal. No TV, no iPads, just our own company and our food. It was slightly surreal, but great to just chat about our experience, and how lucky we were to be there.
The room comes with dishes, cutlery, glasses, tea, coffee, milk etc, the usual you would find in a self-catering room. The bedroom looked over the River Thames, you are provided binoculars to spy on the city, we had fun trying to guess all of the buildings, seeing if we could see inside the rooms of The Savoy opposite, and seeing what bars we could spot. The rain continued, and we made an attempt to go outside and get some photos, but it was too wet to risk taking our SLR camera outside. It seemed a real shame to spend all of our time inside looking out, but even after a last minute umbrella purchase, the rain finally beat us. I had assumed it would be freezing, so had packed jumpers and joggers, but the heating was quick, and within 20 minutes of whacking the radiator on, it was like a sauna!
We stayed up drinking, admiring the view, reading the books provided (there was a library of books about London’s history), and reading the log book, which all guests were recommended to detail their stay and sign (some people giving a little too much detail of their bedroom antics). We wanted to stay up, to not waste any of our time sleeping, but having been up with the little man at 6am, by the time midnight came, I couldn’t stay awake anymore, and gave in to my tired eyes.
Rich was awake at 6am like a kid at christmas, wanting to watch the morning hustle and bustle of London in our final hours. Due to work commitments, and our babysitters, we had to leave at 8am (you have the room till 11am), we quickly got showered (whilst admiring the The Shard from the porthole in the bathroom!), dressed, and wrote our notes in the log book, we stood at the doorway for ages, trying to hold on to our last moments of this amazing experience. It was over, and we were so sad to be leaving.
Living Architecture is the company behind ‘A room for London’. You have to enter a ballot to be in with a chance of staying in the room, and it is £300 for the night – but worth every penny. You are limited to one night, and can only stay there once, and the boat may possibly move location in the future. Living Architecture also have a number of other properties around the UK, and some more opening during the next 18 months. If you get the chance to stay, or even enter the ballot, then go for it!
This is one event I really wanted to capture on my blog,and share our experience with everyone. The pictures do most of the work!
This is something I hope to be able to tell my children, and grandchildren about.
We were given the information for The Fetal Medicine Centre in Harley Street. They provide the Harmony Test, a new technology for testing the baby’s DNA through the mothers blood, checking for extra chromosomes, trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) or trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome). We spoke to my mum who works for the NHS with women and children, she discovered this is a patented technology, hence why the NHS don’t provide it yet, but it would be coming soon. She advised a colleague in her work had indicated that the results were 99.9% correct. This test could be done at any point from 11 weeks, so we could have it immediately rather than having to wait another 3/4 weeks for the NHS Amniocentesis test.
We contacted the clinic the same day and they could see us the following morning. I felt so relieved that we were going to be able to get a definitive result, without putting myself or the baby at risk.
Typically I spent most of my evening Googling ‘markers’ of Downs syndrome, I couldn’t relax, and wanted to be completely clued up for our trip to the clinic.
We arrived at the clinic, both anxious as to what we would find out. Before taking my bloods, we had an in-depth scan of the baby. This was the equivalent of our 20 weeks scan with the NHS, only the Fetal Medical Clinic had the technology to get the same results earlier (I was 13+ weeks by this point). The scan checks for additional markers (those I had researched) of Downs syndrome, such as anomalies to the heart, development of certain bones and fluid pockets in the brain.
The scan took an hour, and it was amazing to watch our baby for that long, move and jump around, but heartbreaking at the same time when we remembered why we were there. The consultant confirmed she was more than happy with our baby’s condition, and couldn’t see any additional markers, and had no concerns about the nuchal translucency. I can’t explain the relief, I wanted to cry and jump for joy. We didn’t want to get too excited, as we still needed to have the results from the blood test. We left the clinic with lots of scan photos of our baby, and the details of the scan, confirming the baby was currently in good health. We came away feeling much more confident, but didn’t want to get our hopes up.
We were due to go away a week later, and knew we would receive our results, very latest, at the end of our trip. We decided to just carry on as normal, and put it to the back of our minds, but I kept looking at the scan results, and just hoping for good news.
Three days in to our holiday, and we received the news, our ratio had been revised to 1:10,000, and my blood didn’t show any traces of the trisomy 21. I cried with happiness. It was the best £500 we had ever spent, and we got to relax during the final days of our holiday.
I thought it was important to share our experiences about such a sensitive subject. When I initially found out about The Harmony Test*, it was difficult to find information and experiences about its success and the process. Also this technology isn’t widely publicised, and you certainly aren’t told by the NHS unless you are classed as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy. Regardless what ratio you are given, even if it is 1:5000 (as someone has to be that one). I would still recommend this as an extra test if you can afford it. Some people may argue, that it should remain unknown, but taking the test doesn’t necessarily imply you are going to terminate the pregnancy. If the results are positive, it can allow you to prepare yourself and others for the extra care your baby will need.
I am happy to help, talk or answer any questions of anyone who wants to know more or is going through a similar experience.
*The Harmony Test is available at other clinics, but the Fetal Medicine Centre was recommended too us, and is part of The Fetal Medicine Foundation who funded the research for this new procedure
Our little man is 6 months today!!!
As mentioned in my previous post ‘Part 2: when it all became real’ at our 12 week scan we were told the fluid at the back of our baby’s neck (Nuchal translucency), was slightly larger than it should be, and that this was a key indicator for Downs syndrome. Going in to the scan, I was just so excited to see the baby, and of course I wanted to know it was healthy, but being in my twenties, I naively presumed everything would be okay. So I really wasn’t expecting to hear any differently.
The nurse at the scan told us not to be concerned, but advised us get the blood test for Downs syndrome. As far as I understand this blood test checks the hormones that your placenta is producing are at the correct levels. The output of combining the scan and blood results gives you a ratio that your baby will be affected by Downs syndrome. If your ratio is less than 1:150 you are classed as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy and the NHS provide extra services and options for your pregnancy.
I received a call from the hospital a week after our tests, as soon as the midwife introduced herself, I knew something was up. When she told me the news, I couldn’t hide how upset I was, I was devastated. She explained my tests had resulted in a 1:60 chance of our baby developing Downs syndrome. She explained my hormone levels had been unbalanced, combined with the nuchal translucency being slightly larger than normal, had given us a ‘high-risk’ ratio.
The midwife was extremely helpful and once I got off the phone, I spoke to Rich. I called him and explained exactly what the midwife had said (best I could, as I was still a blubbering mess), I then did the same to my mum.
Once Rich got home, we sat down and went over everything the midwife had told me. I was just so upset, and just kept going over things in my head, questioning ‘why us?’, especially after having a miscarriage, I kept thinking ‘this isn’t meant to be’, ‘I am never going to be able to have a baby’. Rich and I raised the questions of ‘would we keep the baby?’ we had completely different responses, but both with very good reasons, and agreed that there was no point in discussing this unless we really had too. We needed to stay strong for each other.
At this point we decided to keep the news to just our parents. I felt like talking about it, was making it more and more real, and i just wanted to make it go away.
The next day, we spoke to the specialist midwife, she explained the options provided by the NHS;
1. Continue with the pregnancy, and await the arrival of the baby, though the 20 weeks scan may show more markers, but by that point it would be more difficult to terminate the pregnancy. Plus emotionally you are half way through your pregnancy, and I imagined feeling very attached to the baby.
2. Continue with the pregnancy, and at 33 weeks a test could be carried out to check for downs-syndrome, and if the baby becomes distressed, they can deliver, and there is much less risk to the baby and mother – however if you reach this point, you might as well just continue to 40 weeks, and put neither the mother or baby at risk.
3. An Amniocentesis test. This is the only test offered by the NHS. It involves injecting the placenta at 17/18 weeks and taking a sample of the amniotic fluid, which is then tested for a number of conditions, including Downs syndrome. This test has a 1 in 100 risk of miscarriage, but you get your results in 3 days. We were informed if you did miscarry you wouldn’t know until up to 14 days after the test, and you still have to the deliver the baby. The results of this test gave you a definitive yes / no to whether the baby would be affected.
At this point, I couldn’t bear the idea of putting the baby at risk, I felt like I was living a nightmare, and we were would be forced to go with option 3 as there wasn’t any alternatives. After giving us some time alone to discuss, the midwife returned and told us about a fourth option. She mentioned the word ‘private’, followed by ‘very expensive’. I didn’t care about cost, if there was a better option I wanted to know. She explained the NHS dont normally refer to private clinics, but this new technology meant a non-invasive procedure, 99.9% accurate, but with a longer lead time for your results, and at the cost of £500. We both immediately said yes without discussing it. I was a little annoyed she never mentioned this sooner, but I was just grateful we had a glimmer of hope…The Harmony Test.
After our 12 week scan, we had a blood test to check for Downs syndrome, this is an optional test which most expecting parents have, we were advised to have this, as the nurse doing our scan had spotted a little too much fluid (Nuchal translucency) at the back of our baby’s neck, which can be a strong sign of Downs syndrome. This worried us, but we tried to keep each other calm, there was nothing we could do about it till after the blood results.
Our blood results showed we had a 1:60 ratio of having a baby effected by Downs syndrome, we were now classed as a high-risk pregnancy (this ratio is calculated by measuring the fluid at the top of the neck, and looking at the hormone levels your placenta is producing). It never crossed my mind we would be at risk of Downs syndrome. We weren’t expecting this at all. I actually received the news whilst stuck in gridlock traffic on the M25, and was bawling my eyes out. We were devastated, the usual thoughts ran through our heads ‘why us?’, ‘what will we do?’, we had very different opinions so decided not to discuss it until we had more information. We ended up going to Harley Street for more tests at a private clinic. I’ll be writing a new post soon about our scare with Downs syndrome, how we coped and our glimmer of hope ‘The Harmony Test’
At 16 weeks, and after additional tests, we were given a new ratio of 1:10,000 this was the best you could get. We were on holiday when we got the results, luckily at the start, so we could really enjoy our last break as a couple! I don’t think i had ever felt so relieved in my life. I celebrated with a glass of wine.
Once we had the 20 weeks scan, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t see our baby until he/she was born (unless we wanted to pay for an extra scan). This worried me a little, and so I looked online to see if I could buy a heart monitor, similar to those your midwife uses at your antenatal appointments. I think Rich thought I was crazy, but after all the anxiety we had after our 12 week scan, I couldnt wait till my due date to know he/she was okay. I bought the Angel Heart Monitor Now I could check the baby’s heartbeat and movement whenever I wanted at home. This was great, not expensive, and gave me a little reassurance each week. Once we passed around the 28/30 week point, and I was feeling the baby move around daily, I stopped using this, as the movement was reassurance enough.
Most people opt for the extra scans and get 4D scans done, but these are quite expensive and you always find out the sex. We really wanted the sex to be a surprise, so stuck to our heart monitor. However if you did want to get these done, they are on Groupon most weeks.
Now we were in to summer my bump was rapidly growing, and this wasn’t the only part of my appearance that was changing…
Whilst pregnant I read so many blogs, and forums, spent half my time between mumsnet.com and netmums.com, Googling every movement, craving, and change in my body. Reading other peoples experiences really put me at ease. I have decided to document my own experiences which may then be useful for anyone else expecting in the future (over a couple of posts), especially as we had some difficult decisions along the way.
Having children has always been on my agenda, but getting a career was always my priority. I wanted to give myself a good start, before taking a break for children. Everyone always says ‘there is never a right time to have children’ this is totally true! There is always a promotion, or holiday, or big event like buying a house, or moving house, that wouldn’t be practical if you’re pregnant. We had been in our house two years so felt 2012/3 would be a good time.
My partner and I had discussed having children and being the organised one, of course I had a checklist of things to achieve before babies came along
– be in the right job, earning enough to provide for a stable life
– own my own home
– be debt free (as much as possible, a mortgage doesn’t count)
– be married
I could tick the first three, whereas our body clocks were ticking, a wedding could wait, as could the expense, instead we decided to spend our money on having a family.
We found out I was pregnant in March 2013, we were over-the-moon, and couldn’t wait to tell people, but having been through a miscarriage 6 months earlier, we decided to stay stum until we were a few more weeks. We agreed to share our news with one person each, our best friends. Then we told our immediate families at around 7 weeks, and the rest of our family and friends once we had our initial scan at 12 weeks.
I decided to tell my bosses at about 8 weeks, mainly as my role is very stressful, we had a lot going on, and I was feeling incredibly tired but thank-god no morning sickness. I know this was fairly premature, but I have a close relationship with my managing team, ‘we’re like a family so it felt like the right thing to do. It was fantastic once everyone could share our news, and within our family and friends we had such a great support system, however nothing could have prepared us for the shock we were about to receive at our 12 week scan…
As many men are, my other half (Rich) is a James Bond fan, and they’ve recently opened an exhibition in London of all the cars used in the films.
Before it even opened he was asking if we could go. As I am still on maternity leave, and I didn’t fancy pushing Harry around a London museum on a Saturday, I suggested rich take a days holiday and we go mid-week.
The exhibition is £14 a ticket and for an extra £5 each you get a small device that narrates each exhibit. Of course Rich booked both, but the other plus for going mid-week is the extra device was on buy one get one free.
Having only watched maybe 3 Bond films in my life , I wasn’t sure what to expect, but thought it would be a nice family day out!
I was pleasantly surprised! On entering you are able to look at some of the original storyboards for some of the action scenes. I found this really interesting, as when I first started in the world of advertising we would use storyboards, mainly collated using a Mac, but I would of loved to have worked in the industry when they had no technology, and they would spend weeks working up storyboards by hand to present at a pitch! This reminded me of MadMen (I am a huge fan and will be posting about this in the near future).
We then went on to look at the cars, this I thought could of been quite dull, but actually listening to our narrator tell us about how they shot the action scenes was really interesting, and seeing how damaged the vehicles actually get, watching short videos of each scene was great. They had clearly lit up each vehicle so it was perfect for photographing, I took on role of photographer whilst rich looked in detail at all the cards.
It took us about 1-2 hours to do it all, it was really quiet so really easy to push Harry around, and you could get your photo done to look like Bond. We thought this was a bit cheesy, but great for kids!
One thing I have realised being on maternity leave, is I really don’t make the most of living so close to central London. I have been here for 8 years and actually not seen a great deal in that time. This was one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog, so I would make more time for experiences and days out in London and generally around the UK with Harry and Rich and capture as much as I could of our trips to publish here.
Now to plan our next day family out!