Aria’s 6 month update

So after my last post I’ve finally sat down to write Aria’s 6 month update…at 30 weeks! Time just goes so fast and in-between my makeup course and looking after Aria, it feels like I’ve barely had a minute!

When we had Aria so many people with children told us to appreciate the time when she was a tiny baby, as they grow so fast. At the time I remember wishing it would get easier..fast! And now as I look at her I can’t believe she was a tiny baby who fell asleep on me after every feed. Now, she’s an inquisitive, cheeky monkey who can sit up by herself and always wants to be off playing and exploring. In a way I do miss the early days. Not the night feeds or the overwhelming tiredness, but the times when we could sit together for hours and she would snuggle close. That rarely happens now, but in exchange I have a beautiful nearly seven month old daughter who is developing a cheeky personality by the day!

Aria - 1 day old

Aria – 1 day old

I guess in this update I just wanted to reflect how much Aria has changed, her milestones and what her routine is now, compared to the early days.

Milestones

There have been so many milestones in the last 6 months, and not just the big ones like when Aria first rolled over, and there are more every week! But I guess the biggest ones have been:

First tooth – 4 1/2 months

First smile – 6 weeks

First time Aria rolled over – 3 months

First giggle – 4 months

First taste of solids – 5 months

First word (okay…babble that sounds like a word!) – Dadda

First time Aria sat up – 6 months. This was a funny one as a few times I’d gone upstairs to find Aria sitting up in her cot, and no idea of how she’d done it! I was so eager to catch her doing it I had my camera handy when she was playing, just to see if I could catch it on film. And finally last week, I did!

The past 6 months have been a total whirlwind and having a baby has turned our world upside down. I’m not going to lie, at times, it hasn’t been easy and there have been tears, frustration and tantrums…and that’s just Aria!

When you’re pregnant it feels like you’re waiting forever for your baby to arrive, and after all the planning, excitement and anticipation I don’t think anything prepares you for the complete life change. But, 6 months later, we’re settled into a routine and things are more manageable in some ways, harder in others and there are still surprises. Just when you think you’ve got things cracked, another spanner is thrown into the works, but I guess that’s kind of part of the fun right?

You certainly change and grow as a person. You have to become less selfish and give all your attention to someone else, and while that’s incredibly hard to come to terms with at times, isn’t it amazing that you get to shape someone’s life and be called Mum? To witness a first tooth, a first smile, a first little giggle makes the hard times worth it. You just have to try to remember that when you’re awake at 2am!

Since Aria’s birth we’ve taken pictures pretty much every day. I love documenting her in photos and can’t wait to share them with her when she’s older. In the slideshow below are some of my favourites.

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This has been a really emotional post to write. Please share with me some of your baby’s milestones and favourite moments in the comments below, or via Twitter at @Em_L_Smith.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

First stage weaning

It’s been so hard to find the time to blog lately, and while Aria is taking a nap I’m furiously typing before she wakes up!

Aria will be 6 months old on Sunday (6 month update post coming soon!) and we started the weaning journey three weeks ago. Although the official guidelines advise that you wait until your baby is 6 months old before you start weaning, I just trusted my instinct. Aria is such an inquisitive baby and she’d been trying to grab our food and had been watching us so intently when we were eating for a while, I just felt it was time.

We decided to follow the Annabel Karmel Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner book and, as I wanted to make everything for Aria from scratch (paranoid Mummy – I want to know exactly what’s in her food!), I also ordered the fantastic VonShef steamer and blender which I use to make all her purées. The great thing about this book is that it gives you a great insight into the first foods to try with your little one, as well as advising on the foods that your baby could potentially have an allergy to, and best of all you can follow a ready-made meal planner. I love this as I can plan all Aria’s food for the coming weeks, make them all on one day and freeze individual portions (these will last up to 8 weeks in the freezer) which I can get out the night before – anything that makes life easier!

To freeze, I use some individual portion pots which I purchased from JoJo Maman Bebe – they’re fantastic as they stack in trays in the freezer and just one pot is currently a great portion size for Aria.

Trying carrot for the first time

Trying carrot for the first time

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Lots of people start their baby on just baby rice, but I decided to start with mashed banana mixed with some of her milk to make it creamy. As with anything new, Aria was a little unsure at first – she looked as me as if to say “Mum, what the hell is this you’ve put in my mouth?!”, but after a few mouthfuls she couldn’t get enough! During the week we moved through the planner to carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash and pear. It was so exciting trying new flavours with her and watching her reactions! We’ve got to the stage now where she will try to take the spoon off you to feed herself – cue messy baby (and Mummy!).

We’re now giving Aria two meals a day, increasing this to three next week, and she’s taken to it so well. Sure, there are definitely things she isn’t so keen on (Sweet vegetable medley – parsnip, carrot and potato) but I’m amazed how well she’s adapted. I am a little nervous of giving her things like slices of toast later on, because of the choking risk, but I’m attending a baby first aid course on Saturday so maybe I’ll feel calmer after that!!

With regards to Aria’s milk, she is currently having four feeds a day – approximately 210ml per feed – most of which she finishes but often she’ll leave around 20-40ml at one to two feeds. I don’t know if this is a sign to cut down yet, but milk is still so important so I’m making up 210ml bottles.

Have you started weaning your baby yet? Did you decide to go down the purée route or try baby-led weaning?

Thanks for reading!

Em xx

It has to be nude

Don’t let the title of my post mislead you. As beauty lovers know, when I talk about nude I do of course mean lip colour.

Although a red lip is probably the most popular lip colour, personally, during the day, I favour a nude lip. Not only does it accentuate the natural shape of your pout, but, if you choose the right shade, it doesn’t look like you’re wearing too much makeup. As someone who favours the “natural” makeup look, this is a must.

Over the years I’ve bought countless nude shades – from pinky nudes to lipsticks with orange undertones, and I’ve often found most leave my skin looking sallow and pasty. It has taken a LONG time (and I mean a long time!) to find the perfect nude, but I’ve finally found my favourite in MAC’s Peach Blossom lipstick.

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Peach Blossom is a Cremesheen lip colour and so applies well, almost like a balm. As someone who has an olive tone to their skin, this shade is perfect. I find it brightens my face and works perfectly with a peach blush, such as Clinique’s cream Peachy Blush.

I have tried other MAC nudes but this is by far my favourite, and is now my go-to lipstick every day.

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What’s your go-to everyday lipstick? Have you tried Peach Blossom? Let me know!

Thanks for reading.
Em xx

Establishing a sleep routine

Let’s face it, when you have a baby your former way of life goes out the window and you have to adjust pretty quickly. Establishing a routine may not be everyone’s cup of tea but personally, since having Aria, I find it a necessity! My husband may say I need to loosen up a bit and go with the flow, and he may be right, but in terms of establishing a good sleep routine I think you need to be pretty firm.

A few weeks ago I was tearing my hair out as Aria, who was sleeping between 6-8 hours at night, suddenly started waking again – and not just once! The tiredness was unbearable and it felt like a huge step backwards to her newborn days. Of course, nothing in this mummy life stays the same for long, and Aria had just reached the 4 month mark so I assumed that this was the dreaded sleep regression everyone had told me about!

In desperation I contact The Blissful Baby Expert, Lisa Clegg. I’d been following Lisa on Twitter and seen the many mums who had thanked her for helping them get their little ones into a good sleep routine, and thought there had to be light at the end of this seemingly long tunnel that was my exhaustion. I popped Lisa an email explaining my situation and she promptly replied with some advice on a new routine of set day naps and a timed comforting method. She explained the so called “sleep regression” was simply something that happened due to babies not being taught to settle themselves, and this was a huge gift you could give your little one.

My blissful baby

My blissful baby

I was apprehensive at first as timed comforting involved letting Aria cry at set intervals, before we could go in to reassure her, leaving longer intervals between each “comfort”. The first time we tried it I have to say was a nightmare. I felt so guilty letting her cry and wanted to cry myself! However, after talking to fellow mummy and blogger Liz, from Everything Is Rosy, I felt hopeful. Liz had tried this technique with her son and, like me, had felt the mummy guilt. BUT she had persevered and both my husband and I decided we would too.

Well, thank goodness we did! Aria has napped in the day (in her cot and not on her playmat, me, her bouncer etc.) and for the first time in four months I have a little time to myself, meaning I can actually write a blog post!

I understand this type of routine might not be for every parent but I have to say Aria seems so much happier AND she’s sleeping at night again (for now at least!). Watching for her sleepy signs – rubbing her eyes, becoming irritable – and placing her in her cot with Ewan the sheep and her bunny for company, has meant she is getting used to when it’s nap time. My husband and I actually get to have a little “us” time in the evenings now, and after watching Hannah Maggs’ latest vlog I am definitely going to suggest a “blackout” night once a week!

Happy Aria

Happy Aria

So, a huge thank you to Lisa – The Blissful Baby Expert for her time and advice. It’s greatly appreciated!

Have any of you also used this routine with successful results? Or have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

Skin saviours

Skin care is something every woman has an opinion on, and while some are blessed with a beautiful, blemish free complexion, others have to work hard to keep it that way. Personally, my skin has always been sensitive and with a combination/oily skin type, blemishes have always been inevitable.

Now in my late 20s, my skin was something I hoped would improve with age, and in some ways it has, but it’s still not as flawless as I would like.

During pregnancy others commented on my ‘pregnancy glow’, which personally I couldn’t see! Strangely, immediately after I had Aria my skin looked better than it had in years. Unfortunately this didn’t last, as a week or so later I felt like a teenager again! I assume this was due to my hormones going haywire as my body attempted to balance itself again, but I have to say it really got me down. I was recommended a form of pill by my doctor which, according to the leaflet that came with them, could make me more prone to blood clots. As soon as I read that there was no way I was putting that into my already hormone crazy system!

After some consideration, the biggest change I decided to make was to my skin care routine. Growing up, I always had it drummed into me how important it is to cleanse, tone and moisturise twice a day, and with sensitive skin I’m an avid lover of Clarins products as it seems to be the only brand suitable for my skin. For years I’ve used their range specifically created for sensitised or dry skin however, it was only in the last few weeks I considered their other skin care products for combination/oily skin types.

Apprehensive to change my routine at first, I ordered several samples from their website including the Toning Lotion with Iris, Water Purify One-Step Cleanser and Hydra-Matte Lotion moisturiser.

Clinique and Clarins

A few weeks ago I had also begun to use Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel, which I now apply after my moisturiser at bed time on any blemishes.

The combination of these products has been my skin saviour! My t-zone is no longer oily, my makeup last longer and I’m no longer battling a shiny face come midday. Clarins’ products are fantastic for my sensitive skin and to be honest, I wouldn’t use anything else. If you also suffer with oily and blemish prone skin, I can’t recommend these products highly enough.

Do you also love Clarins and Clinique? Have you found their products work well for you too? I’d love to know.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

The parent guilt

There are so many emotions you experience when you have a baby, but I think the biggest one is guilt.

There is so much pressure on new mums, with regards to how they choose to look after their babies, and everyone seems to want to share their so called advice and opinion.

This starts right after labour. It may sound silly, but I found when I was pregnant I was looking forward to Aria’s arrival so much, I didn’t really think about the reality of how much our lives would change once she was here.

A prime example of this is breast feeding. As Aria was a forceps delivery and had to be taken to special care when she was born, I didn’t get the chance to breast feed straight away. From the start Aria had trouble latching on (most likely due to her delivery and the fact she was uncomfortable) and the first three weeks were a real struggle. After one horrendous night of attempting to get her to feed for three hours, we finally decided to put her on the bottle. This was not an easy decision as I felt like I was failing her, and I would be judged – by family, health visitors and even strangers – for not sticking with it.

I now realise how ridiculous this was as, not only did it save my sanity as I knew how much Aria was having, she seemed much happier and more content.

For the first three weeks Aria had the best possible start and for us, putting her on the bottle made so much sense.

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Of course, breast feeding isn’t the only thing I’ve felt guilty about in the last three months. If Aria cries when we’re out, for some bizarre reason I feel guilty. This isn’t made any easier when complete strangers offer their opinion such as – “Is she hungry?” No, I am not starving my child!

If she’s asleep on me and I have to put her down to, god forbid, go to the loo, I feel guilty if she gets upset! If we’re out and we go ten minutes past her feed time, I feel guilty. If she cries in the night and I don’t wake, meaning my husband gets up to feed her, I feel guilty. The list is endless!

I now realise, this is probably going to continue for the next eighteen years (or more!) if I don’t give myself a break. And to be honest, as mums (and dads) that is what we all need to do to stay sane.

There isn’t a text book way to parent. You’re going to make mistakes. The important thing is to move on and not feel guilty, because even if you do put a nappy on backwards (in the early weeks!) your baby doesn’t care and won’t remember. As long as you give them your love, everything else will take care of itself.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

Getting your mojo back

Finding time for yourself as a new mummy is near impossible! Gone are the days of going to gigs in the evening (which we used to do a lot!), weekend lie-ins (even until 8am would be good!) or blow drying your hair (hello air-dry and frizz).

In truth, I don’t really feel like me anymore….well not the old me anyway. One of the hardest things is coping with how much my body has changed. Yes, I’ve had a baby and yes, it has only been 10 weeks since I gave birth, but not being able to fit my old jeans is rather depressing.

I’m determined not to buy lots of things in a size up, and don’t want to still be moaning about my baby weight in a year’s time, so I’ve decided to take action! For the first time in my life I’ve joined a gym. I figure, if I’m out of the house exercising (weekends and evenings), there’s no distractions and I get an hour to myself (amazing!).

I’m nervous about how difficult it’s going to be to get my body back but also determined I will!

I’ll be posting regular updates on my progress and with a stone to lose I’m thinking of it as pregnancy updates in reverse!

So, my gym induction is booked for Saturday and tonight I have my first class – Pilates. Here’s to taking the first step to getting my mojo back!

Thanks for reading!

Em xx

Birth story – welcome to the world Aria Lilley Smith

Aria - one day old

Aria – one day old

Aria - 7 weeks old

Aria – 7 weeks old

It’s been seven weeks since I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Aria Lilley Smith, and I thought it was about time to share my birth story.

To be honest I don’t think I’ve felt ready to write about my birth experience in any great detail before now, and talking about it still makes me feel emotional.

When I was pregnant I loved reading other people’s birth stories and I had what I now realise was a naive idea in my head about what labour would be like. During our antenatal classes we’d heard the worst case scenarios regarding first time births, including assisted deliveries and babies in the ‘wrong’ position. I never thought that would be the way my labour would go – how wrong could I be!

We had planned to go to our closest birthing centre for a natural water birth, and I’d been practicing hypnobirthing in the weeks leading up to my due date. I hadn’t planned on having any pain relief except gas and air and imagined my daughter coming into the world without a problem.

I was due on the 3rd February and honestly thought I would go into labour early, but as the 3rd came and went the birthing centre where I’d planned to have my baby started to talk about induction dates. I was determined this wouldn’t happen as, firstly, it would mean going into hospital to have my baby rather than the birthing centre and, secondly, it was likely this would mean my labour would involve more intervention and pain.

My induction was booked for Saturday 15th February and up until then I was doing everything I could to encourage our little one – walks, curry, bouncing on my exercise ball…everything! Nothing seemed to be working but I was convinced she would come on her own, and so asked for my induction to be moved to the Monday 17th February – the last day I would be able to go up to within guidelines.

On Valentine’s Day at around 10pm I was laying on the sofa when my waters broke. I’d read this would most likely be a trickle and not a gush like you see in films, well mine was the latter! Not to be too graphic but it would not stop flowing. and my husband had to get towels to put underneath me as I stood in the living room unable to move!

We called the birthing centre who asked me a series of questions to confirm my waters had broken. They advised us to remain at home until my contractions started and this happened during the night. Gradually they became more and more intense as I bounced on my exercise ball, using my friend’s TENS machine, until I felt it was time to go to the birthing centre. We arrived there at about 10am and were eventually led to our own room with a birthing pool, as my contractions became more and more intense. At this point I was still only using the TENS machine but I could feel the contractions becoming more and more painful, particularly in my back. I just kept thinking over and over – “she’ll soon be here, it’ll soon be over.”

A few hours later I was examined and the midwife informed me I was only 3cm dilated. It felt like hours since my waters had broken and I couldn’t believe I was only 3cm dilated. The midwife also discovered Aria was back to back, which would explain why the contractions were so painful in my back and she advised that I move into the birthing pool to see if I could encourage her to turn.

It was such a relief to move into the warm water and at this point I gladly accepted gas and air. It did help but the pain was getting worse and was mostly in my lower back. I honestly never thought it would be so painful and I didn’t know how much longer I could go through it.

After what felt like hours, the midwife examined me again and confirmed Aria had not turned and I was no further dilated. Because of her position the contractions were not being effective. As it was now 6.30pm she advised I move to hospital, as they couldn’t keep me in the birthing centre for much longer.

By this point I felt almost delirious from the pain and couldn’t bear the thought of having to move to hospital, which was a 4o minute drive away. I kept asking if an ambulance could take me, as walking to the car felt like an impossibility! This wasn’t an option and so my poor husband had to help me into the back seat of the car and drive me to the hospital.

With me laying on the back seat moaning in pain, I can’t imagine what he must have been feeling as he drove us to the hospital. But he was amazing and managed to stay calm, letting me know how far away we were every so often to keep me going.

As soon as we arrived at the hospital all thoughts of a natural birth went out of my head and I wanted the drugs! Whatever the strongest drug was that they could offer me, I wanted it.

We were led into a room where I doubled over the bed whilst a midwife massaged my back. When people say you moo like a cow during labour, believe it!

I asked for an epidural and this was administered fairly quickly. I felt such a relief to be out of pain and just wanted the whole thing to be over as soon as possible.

I was then given oxytocin to make my contractions more effective and hours seemed to pass as various people came in to monitor me, and I was told by a doctor I would be examined every four hours. This felt like forever but seemed to go quite quickly. On the third occasion I was examined about 9 hours later, at about 3.30am Sunday morning, I was fully dilated. However Aria’s head still hadn’t moved down fully and I was told we would have to move into theatre as forceps would have to be used to deliver her. If this failed, my only option was a caesarean. The sudden rush was due to the fact my waters had broken hours ago. They also thought Aria was in distress as her heart rate had increased and her oxygen levels were dropping.

A caesarean was what I had been dreading and it felt so unfair after the hours of labour I’d been through, only to be told I may have to have one anyway. As the doctor brought in a form for me to sign I cried as I felt defeated, but knew it would have to happen if need be and all I wanted now was to have my baby here safely.

As my husband was led away to be changed into scrubs, I was taken into theatre. I can only imagine how he felt aswell, as this was not the experience we had expected at all.

Thankfully, after three pushes and the use of forceps Aria was delivered safely at 4.14am on Sunday 16th February. I was so thankful not to have had to have a caesarean, but as I waited for her to cry I was told they were worried she may have swallowed meconium and she was taken to special care.

Eight hours later she was brought to me on the ward and I was told she hadn’t swallowed meconium, thank goodness. As I looked at my girl I was just so thankful she was here and was healthy. Her birth wasn’t what I had expected at all and it just goes to show, no matter how much you want your labour to go a certain way, ultimately it’s out of your hands.

Although I had wanted to have Aria at the birthing centre, I’m so glad I went to hospital. It was closer to home and everyone there – from the midwives to the anesthetist – were absolutely amazing and so kind.

I think things like this also test your relationship to the limit, and I’m glad to say my husband was amazing. I couldn’t have got through it without him.

Welcome to the world Aria Lilley Smith.

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

Growing your own

Aside from a brief shower, today was a beautiful sunny Sunday, so we decided to take Aria to our allotment. Granted, she’s a little too young for her first shovel but our allotment needed a little love after a wet winter.

Aria at plot 55

Aria at plot 55

We took it on nearly a year ago now, as we wanted to grow our own fruit and veg, and it’s been so rewarding to eat what we’ve grown so far. From our first potatoes to strawberries and raspberries, there really is nothing like growing your own.

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Hubby hard at work

On our visit today it looks like rhubarb and purple sprouting broccoli are making an appearance, and now we need to start thinking about what to sow for the coming months.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

 

Purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli

I have to say, hubby is far more green fingered than I am but I try to do my bit with the weeding. At least I did before little one came along!

It’s so exciting to think we’ll be able to introduce Aria to growing things from scratch as she grows up, and we can’t wait to get her involved in caring for it all.

Do any other bloggers grow their own? Let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Em xx

New mummy, new blog

As any fellow mummy blogger will know, finding the time and energy to blog is often an impossibility. Especially with a newborn! It’s been nearly 5 weeks since my beautiful daughter made her way into the world and this is the first time I’ve felt like writing a post.

I also felt it was about time for a fresh new look for the blog too – as my blog is no longer solely about fashion, it was time for a change. So welcome to Running in Heels!

I originally started blogging to talk about fashion, but during my pregnancy I found blogging about my journey really therapeutic and a great way to communicate with fellow mums-to-be who were experiencing the same things. I now plan to blog about the experience of being a new mummy, as well as fashion, beauty and lifestyle related posts.

I hope you like the new look!

Em xx