9 things I completely rely on as a new mom

The first few months with my baby were a beautiful and terrifying blur of waking, feeding, playing and adjusting to my new role – along with keeping the household going, getting food on the table and the laundry done while trying to juggle my a freelance schedule – and all without getting more than 2 hours of consecutive sleep a night (which went on for months on end).

Truth be told, while I was often overjoyed that I could do this all with my baby by my side, there were also days it felt like too much to handle and all I wanted to do was curl up and cry alongside her.  I found that when the days became hazy, and dragged on forever, I began to rely on small systems I set in place, and gadgets which made it easier to get things done in a hurry. For those hoping to skip some trial and error in your early days with your baba, here are some of the tried and true items and systems that I couldn’t have coped without:

1. B12 Boost – vitamin B spray and DS24 – these two items help keep my energy levels up and I function fairly well day-to-day because of them, despite the constant sleep deprivation.

2. Schlehlens Tonic  – this has been a great maintenance tonic for me which have helped enormously with my energy levels, and I quite like the taste of it. There are also plenty of tea blends available which claim to help boost your milk supply, and even if they don’t work as well as necessarily claimed, it cannot hurt to have hydration options available that have no added sugars.

3. A coffee pot on a timer – this singular item is the only reason I was able to function for the first 6 months of motherhood. The simple joy of waking up at 6:30 and walking into the kitchen, where I was greeted by the delicate scent of freshly brewed coffee, is still one of my all-time favourite simple pleasures in life.

4. My breastfeeding essentials – most of these are still applicable a year-and-a-bit on, and I am known to still bake truckloads of gluten-free mini muffins, so that I can scoff them down after a midnight feed and stay relatively happy, while being woken at least 3 – 5 times a night.

5. Tidying up at night – I used to be a bit manic when it came to keeping the house neat, as we had people over all the time. That was until hubby pointed out that nobody but me actually cared. Now, I do a quick surface clean before people arrive, but the main tidying up of the house only happens after Amelia’s been put down at night, and it’s seriously saved my sanity.

6. Overnight oats – the ideal breakfast, especially on busy mornings. It’s super quick to heat and eat before rushing out or settling down to work. One scoop of oats, enough almond milk to cover it, a spoon of chia seeds, some ground flax seed, some date syrup or coconut sugar to sweeten it, a few drops of vanilla essence, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds is all I use. Pop it in a jar, shake and put it in the fridge overnight. Eat as is or heat first.

7. Meal prep on the weekend – I do all of the cooking for our family, every single night, and find that if I do some basic chopping and prepping on a Saturday or Sunday, I can use the items throughout the week and cut down on the time it takes to make healthy, flavourful meals.  I’ll buy in bulk and prep items which I then stick in the freezer and pull them out as required. Smoothie making is so easy now with pre-portioned items in a ziplock bag, so all I need to do take the fruit out, add yoghurt and milk, and a sprinkle of coconut sugar and blend. It also cuts down on food waste and means those last few berries or bananas don’t go bad. For veg I mainly grate, chop and peel carrots and portion them out into ziplock bags. Ditto with leeks. For soups, I toss everything into a pot to boil. I grate up all the cheese blocks into a container to use for the week. Little things like this make such a difference, especially on days when Amelia is cranky. It may seem like a ton of work when you first start, but it makes such a difference. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in a full post about this some time.

8. My handbag. While I still love the baby bag I have, we’re now a year on and I’ve found it’s far more useful to keep all the items I need in my regular handbag, rather than carry two separate bags (especially since we hardly use the pram anymore). After taking stock of what we did use when out and about, I’ve found it’s easy to downsize to having two nappies and a small pack of half-used wet wipes on hand, two small toys and a board book while out and about, along with a small water bottle and snack container that baba and I share. You can see my full list of items I keep on hand in my “what’s in my mama bag” post 🙂

9. Medela Harmony handheld pump and Medela bottles – I absolutely love this brand (no, I haven’t been sponsored). I love it’s simplicity, it’s durability, and the fact that I haven’t had to replace the (very) pricey teats that come with every bottle purchase as they’re from birth to toddlerhood.

10. A pashmina scarf or lightweight scarf – a lifesaver when out as a nursing cover, blanket, sunshade, etc.

11. Go-to outfits options – apart from doing a closet overhaul so I only had breastfeeding friendly items in it, having an outfit formula I stick to has made my life so much easier. Be it sundresses, jeans and a slogan tee, or shorts and a 3/4 top, knowing at least 2 outfits you can slip on in a hurry and look pulled together quickly is incredibly important on days you’re feeling sleep deprived or sick – or when your little person just spit up up on you as you were heading out the door. #momlife ammirite?

12. Keeping makeup simple – a touch of colourful lip balm or a matte lipstick, a flick of mascara on the ends of my lashes, and ensuring my eyebrows are filled in is all I do nowadays, along with some sunscreen before heading out. I’m certain I’ll be back to cat eye flicks, on fleek brows, perfectly primped nails, and an elaborate eyeshadow game at some point, but when I’m just meeting friends, or running to the shops, I don’t need to look IG perfect, because to my little girl, I already am. And really, that’s all that matters to me at the end of the day.

I’d love to know some of your everyday essentials as I’m always looking out for hacks and hints to make life easier. 🙂

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What’s in my bag? (Mom and baby edition)

I’ve always had a slight obsession with what other people carry around with them on a day-to-day basis and I’ve always wondered if it stems from curiosity into others lives, or from being stranded in my car one too many times, or because of that dreaded “just in case” mentality which used to mean I was the worlds worst over-packer.

As a new mama I’ve had to pair down my own essentials (like makeup) and make room for my little ladies items – which has led to me bringing along just the necessities. This change happened mainly out of fear of breaking my back (as my nappy bag used to be soooo heavy), and be panting 30m into a walk for a picnic at Kirstenbosch, once I started going stroller free.

 

1. Breast Pads

The absolute number one item I cannot travel without are breast pads. I adore the Medela ones as while they are single use, they hold a ton without feeling awful against my skin. I have used a wide variety of other brands and have found that they just don’t quite compare. I do have washable cotton breast pads but in the early days I found they saturated far too quickly, especially at night and in the beginning I honestly didn’t enjoy using them as they felt awful on my skin (cue the ‘funny’ story about how I accidentally leaked milk all over a table when I was doing a  short-course at UCT and then had to use my pashmina to hide the stains *facepalm*). However, now that my supply has settled, I mainly use the cotton ones at home during the day, and keep my disposable ones in my travel bag for convenience.

2. My Medela Harmony Pump

This item is always in my bag because I never know when I’ll need it. I opted for a small hand pump as opposed to the electric version, mainly because of Eskom’s power cuts … and that small matter of not wanting to feel like a glorified milk cow. After over a year of use I can say I absolutely love it and can’t do without it. It’s small, quiet, portable and I can fit in any bag discreetly. I did have to get another breast shield attachment as the one provided was a tad to small for my rather engorged self. For those wondering, I picked Medela based not only on their amazing Amazon reviews and customer satisfaction, but because they are the only company on the market to have a bottle teat from birth to toddler hood, as it’s design mimics how a baby needs to suckle at the breast to get milk out, meaning it’s easy from day 1 and there’s absolutely no bottle/breast confusion.

3. Milk Storage Bags

While these might not be the most eco-friendly of items, they are a necessity for me because of how little freezer space they use, and I love that I can fit more than I actually need for a trip in my bag – especially when compared to how bulky the little pots and full-sized milk bottles are. Shop around for a brand you like as it can be tricky to find bags which won’t leak when submerged in hot water (wasting some of your precious milk and becoming a source of frustration).

 

4. Water

I cannot go anywhere without a full bottle of water. Seriously though, I think I drink over 3 litres of water a day now as I refill it so often. My skin has been loving this, and from a practical point of view I prefer taking my own water with me rather than buying plastic bottles on the go. And lastly, this is also handy to have in case your car overheats.

5. Snacks

I came to the realization that I love baking just before I had my daughter, and subsequently I made a huge amount of muffins, date balls, coconut clusters, meringues and cookies in my last trimester. While those quickly went, I’ve continued to make extra large batches of baked goods when I do bake, so that I can easily freeze them as snacks on the go or as a quick breakfast on days I’m halfway out the door before realising I haven’t eaten yet. Dried fruit like raisins and cranberries, dates are safe for Amelia to snack on too, and I find that for me, nuts are another great option to help keep energy levels up.

9. Bib and small cutlery set

A washable bib and a small cutlery set are ideal for restaurants, a picnic, or a trip to granny.

7. A spare outfit (or two) for baby

It’s inevitable that while they are little, babies will get messy so a seasonally appropriate outfit, or two, are generally toted along. I keep one in the car and one in the bag.

6.  Pashmina or Shawl

The second most used item I pack is a large shawl or Pashmina wrap. It quickly becomes your feeding cover, or handy stain hider should baby spit up on you while out. It’s a picnic blanket, an extra blanket, a sunshade, a pram cover, a tank top, a beach sarong, you name it.

8. One or two small toys

Gone are the early days bringing along 5 or 6 different, bulky toy options for my little one to play with. Now, she gets one or two to keep her interested if we’re out, otherwise she can play with the frog flashlight on my keys. I found that after she turned 18 months, a small soft toy she can hold and an attachable small book/rattle/teether suffices for most short trips. I also keep a strip of stickers in my wallet as an emergency distraction item for her if we run late anywhere, like at the doctors office.

10. Small first aid kit

I always have something on hand for bumps, bruising, insect bites, cuts, or teething while on the go. I carry my Buchu first aid gel and micropore strips, as it’s small and convenient, and the teething gel and travel-size panado bottle makes life easier when Amelia’s had a fall or we stay somewhere longer than planned and she gets cranky or hurt. I sometimes also carry the travel-size version of Oh-Lief insect repellent and a saline nose spray.

11. Lip balm

I use Simply Bee lip balm and love it. It’s odorless, softens my lips, and has even been an emergency bum balm and hand cream (ssh, don’t tell!)

12. Wallet

Obviously a necessity when heading out.

13. Sunglasses

I am cranky AF if I leave these behind at home, because my eyes do not adjust well to glare. Keep a spare in the car for the inevitable break that can happen when you’re sleep deprived and sit on them. I am not even joking. 😦

14. Hat

A pretty hat hides all my hair woes, and it keeps the sun off my face to boot, which for my skin, is a win-win. A fedora for spring, a peak cap for summer, a felt hat for autumn and a beanie for winter mean year-round I have a go-to solution that looks fairly stylish. Thank you hipsters for making my hat-choices mainstream trendy.

15. Earphones

A small set of earphones mean I can listen to my music or podcasts while Amelia naps in the stroller or car.

16. Tissues and asthma pump

Allergy season and colds dictate these items as necessities.

17. Hand sanitizer

With more and more places shutting off their taps, hand sanitizer for me ensures some kind of preventative measure against germs and touchable grime.

18. Nappies and wet wipes

Three nappies and a half-used pack of wet wipes live permanently in my bag, along with a spare set in the car in case there are any oopsies. The wet wipes I find also double as a wipe for hands, faces, fruits, and even feet.

So that’s that from my end. I’d love to hear what kind of things you carry around in your bag on a daily basis.

Saving my Sanity with the Baby Sense Sleepy Sac

Hi lovelies,

What a roller coaster ride with little Amelia it’s been since her six month marker and it’s both amazing and terrifying to realise she’s 9 months old today! From starting solids and splashing with glee at bath time to the sweetest baby gurgles and laughs as we mimic each other, to temper tantrums and tears when she hits over tired or has an eczema flare up, to her somehow still only sleeping for an average of 2 1/2 hours at any one time at night. Any other mama’s feeling the drain of sleep deprivation? Know any methods other than CIO?

Amelia in the BabySense Sleep Sac (8).JPG

Sleep deprivation aside it’s been a mostly fun ride, though learning how to keep her toasty through those cold, cold nights has been a bit of a challenge, especially because she just loves to kick off her covers. When I do grab some shut eye it’s usually fraught with worry and thoughts of ‘what if the blanket goes over her face’, or ‘what if she’s waking up because she’s cold and I haven’t dressed her warmly enough’. So on goes the light while I behold my little sleeping angel, who’s usually managed to kick off the blanket. I tuck the blanket in tightly around her again and sometimes she stays asleep through this, but usually she wakes up, and the cycle starts again (and again … and again). Because my baby has FOMO and once she’s up, she’s usually up for a while. **Sigh**

 

It’s enough to drive any new mom to insanity (the definition of which is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results)… and insanity is where I was definitely heading. Right up until I received a beautiful Baby Sense Winter Sleepy Sac.

Amelia in the BabySense Sleep Sac (5 - edit).jpg

Designed to keep little ones safe and warm this sleeping bag styled blanket eliminates the need to constantly check that your baby is safe and warm, and in no danger of suffocation. I’ve been using it for the past two weeks as part of her bedtime routine and after week one of use, it’s definitely made a difference in her comfort level at night. I’ve even been leaving her in it during those cold mornings and trips to granny, and can happily say I’m actually getting some shut eye now – for which I will gleefully insert a ‘whoop, whoop’ right here!

Amelia in the BabySense Sleep Sac (7  - edit).jpg

My favourite Sleepy Sac features:

  • Age range –  the Baby Sense Sleepy Sac is good from around 5 months* up to 18 months (*5 months or when your baby hits 7kg  / their head no longer goes through the neck opening … which for me was midway through the 8 month marker. What can I say, my little lady is still pretty petite)
  • Seatbelt / high chair opening – I can take Amelia from bed to the breakfast table, and from home to grannies, all while keeping her snug as a bug in a rug, and the best part is the fact she sleeps happily in it while in the car
  • Zip Closure pocket – the tiny pocket that goes over the zip means that when we snuggle in the early hours of the morning the zip doesn’t push into either of us like some closures do – and Amelia can’t see the zip so she doesn’t play with it

    Amelia in the BabySense Sleep Sac (3 - edited).jpg

  • Organic Cotton – perfect for anyone who is trying to keep their baby in natural fibers for either personal or health reasons, it also washes incredibly well
  • Three layers of warmth – with three layers of organic cotton to help prevent cold seeping in, your baby looks cute and feels cosy – though I do constantly check when we’re travelling that she hasn’t overheated in the car
  • Baby’s Mobility – Amelia can still roll, move and play happily

Amelia in the BabySense Sleep Sac (6 - edit).jpgamelia-in-the-babysense-sleep-sac-1-edit

Though this product was gifted to me by Baby Sense, I’ve been a big fan of their products since Amelia was born. In fact, if you’ve seen any pictures of Amelia from birth to three months, you’d have noticed that she was usually swaddled in a nice, big airy Baby Sense Muslin wrap (I bought 5 as they’re so handy!); when I’m out feeding her, she’s cuddled up beneath the Baby Sense Feeding Shawl (which has a handy sand weight so the shawl stays put on your shoulder). And have I ever mentioned how much she loves her tiny, trusty pink taglet? I had to get her two so she has one on hand while I wash the other (it gets very grimy while she’s teething).

After two weeks of testing I can say that the sleepy sac is a product I’ve come to love – so much so that our little family is going to be purchasing the Baby Sense Summer Sleepy Sac too! ^_^

Have you ever used a baby sleeping bag? What features do you love?

Kisses from Cape Town
Rose

Things I’ve learnt during my first 100 days of motherhood

It’s funny how time takes on a whole new meaning when you’ve got a little life depending on you for everything. And how easy it is to get so wrapped up in your own world of snuggles and cuddles, late night feeds and hours of walking or rocking that little angel, all the while praying that they’ll fall asleep so you can rest your weary eyes.

Amelia 0 - 3 months (2)

Days seem to slip away as you stare at tiny eyelashes, smiling at contented sighs and feeling your heart start to melt as five little fingers curl around one of yours. As that little head rests softly on your chest and cuddles close to you, heat and heartbeats shared.

So it’s with some amusement and much love that after the first 100 days of motherhood, here are a few of the things that I’ve learnt:

* The motherhood glow is real – though I have a sneaky suspicion that mine was caused by cuddling a beautiful little furnace – during the 40°C heat wave we had.

Amelia 0 - 3 months (23)

 

*Mommy brain is also a real thing. Ever had it? No? Well, it’s the sort fog that draws over your brain as you stare in awe at your little gift at 3 in the morning as they nuzzle into you, and then you try to form coherent sentences to your significant other at 7am as you cook breakfast over a hot plate, despite having been awake for close to 24hrs. Oh what fun that is. Now repeat it every day for close on two months.Yep. There’s a peek at mommy brain for you. Also, I feel mildly cheated of this fortitude back during the odd all-nighter.

* Post pregnancy hair loss is a myth – or at least it was for me. I never once woke to strands on my pillow, or wound up having my drain clogged by clumps as a horrified friend informed me I would. Boy, did I feel smug about that one. Instead, what I did find was that my sweet little dumpling loved to reach up and tug with her tiny fists, which though adorable also slightly terrified me as it hurt to have her yank out single strands out of my head where they were firmly attached. She started to do this all. the. time. And it was so painful!! Seriously though, aside from tugging by my little darling, the rest of my hair stayed firmly where it belonged on my head. Smugness intact. 😉

*Friends will pop in almost daily to visit and meet your little angel, which is great because it’s good for them to start learning who their aunties and uncles are (and let’s face it, adorable baby snuggles and cuddles are too good an opportunity to pass up on regardless of heatwaves).

 

Amelia Growin (5)

*You will never be afraid of any kind of bodily fluid your little one may provide. Which is both heartwarming and terrifying considering the coming years and the dreaded potty training. Luckily, there are many, many, many moons still to go before that happens.

*Baking mini breakfast cupcakes with bacon and cheddar, spinach and feta, and carrot and cinnamon, becomes a soothing and a lovely way to grab a snack in the morning if you don’t have time to do a full breakfast of any kind.

* Washing and arranging tiny, cute outfits doesn’t get old – or at least, just over 100 days into motherhood, it hasn’t yet. It still brings a smile to my face as I tip in those teeny tiny little pants, tops, dresses and blankets into the washer and run it through the rinse cycle twice. Because since she’s inherited my sensitive skin, I can’t be too careful.

*Gummy smiles are the cutest things in the whole world. Especially when you realise that they look like an angelic Nights Watch member  … you doubt? Humph. You know nothing Jon Snow!!!

Amelia Growin (10).jpg

* Possibly too TMI but at some point everyone will ask you if you can tell when your milk comes in. To anyone wondering: yes, yes you can definitely tell when your milk comes in. Though it’s name “Let Down” may fool you into thinking it’s some kind of gentle process – in the early days, it’s not. Instead, it’s a thousand tiny fire-hot needles stabbing you that lead to you knowing when your milk for the baby has arrived. Yay.  Word to the wise: feed the tiny human asap because engorgemegive is an even worse feeling  … (I told you tmi). However, it doesn’t last forever and it really does settle into a normal ‘feeling’ of “oh, the milk is here” after the first two months or maybe I’m just cursed special.

*Taking photographs of those moments, along with other moments is a great way to pass the time and make memories to cherish. If you ever find time to print them for that album and scrapbook.

Amelia 0 - 3 months (8)

*Sleep deprivation may make you cranky, but you’ll find ways around it that work for you which sadly, usually don’t include sleep. I found drinking something after every feeding session, coupled with having something to eat every three hours did wonders at improving my mood throughout month two (those midnight snacks were sooo good!!). What did I drink, you ask? Well Schlehlens tonic with water, apple juice and rehydrate sachets for one, along with healthy dolings out of coconut water, regular water, water with lemon cordial and that single, aromatic first cup of coffee. Oh coffee! I miss you so …

*Watching your partner cuddle your sleeping child suddenly becomes the most magical sight in the whole world. Especially if they both snore softly together.

Amelia Growing  (14)

*Tiny finger nails are deadly weapons that give you the human equivellant of paper cuts. One minute you’re happily chatting with your tiny person in arms, the next your finger (or arm, or face, or cheek) starts to ache and there’s a tiny red line going down it from the talons of terror (not even joking). Cutting them while your child is asleep is the only safe way to do it that I’ve found.

*Soft sighs of contentment into your neck make everything worthwhile.

* My little lady had colic – and while it seemed to last forever, it does finally pass. It’s not pleasant (in the rocking in the corner crying with them way) but it does become more manageable over time. While my daughter didn’t have it as badly as some babies, it was a series of late night unsettled cries that were pretty impossible to soothe. Long story short, we finally realised that she had a dairy allergy and after I eliminated all milk products from my diet for a few weeks (which also cut down on the amount of gas Amelia had), her nightly cries pretty much vanished. So if your baby suffers from colic, and though it’s not a popular solution nowadays, chat with your paediatrician about doing an elmination diet if you breastfeed or switching to a different brand of formula and see if that helps. Because being told by everyone you know that it’s normal for all babies to cry when your gut says somethings wrong means ignoring convention and going with your instincts.

Amelia Growing  (16)

* Cradle cap is the most annoying thing in the world once the tiny white bumps (milia) have done their rounds on your babies beautiful skin. After trying baby shampoo, gentle brushing, olive oil, and even aqueous cream to remove it, nothing worked and it was as stubbornly staying put as ever. Eventually I tried coconut oil which cleared it up in a week! I seriously can’t recommend it enough as your first option.

*You can never have too many spare nappies in the car, despite however many you pack in the diaper bag. Likewise, another pack of baby wipes and a spare outfit in the car can’t hurt.

*The baby superman pose of arms being held high above the head when sleeping doesn’t get old. And somehow seems to grow more adorable the longer you gaze at it.

Amelia 0 - 3 months (17)

*There are plenty of people who’ll give you advice, from the lady in Woolworths to the parking attendant. Best scenario: Take in all advice graciously and apply or disregard it as necessary, especially as you know your baby best and what will work with your lifestyle.

*You will at some point think that your child looks like a cranky old person and you’re not wrong. They definitely get that “what do you think you’re doing, whippersnapper” look in their eyes a lot once they start focusing.

*That first bite of those forbidden foods you couldn’t have while pregnant are so. So. SO worth it. Here’s looking at you, sushi.

Amelia Growing  (21)

*You’ll never forget the first bathing experience you have with your baby. Mine had a look of wonder on her face as I put her in the water and she started crying when I took her out. It made bathtime so much easier than originally anticipated and it’s now an activity we both love at the end of a long day of play.

*If your baby is sticking out their tongue, they’re most likely hungry. If you’re wrong, they’ll likely be hungry in 20 minutes. It’s how it goes.

*If you’re inclined, read up on baby language (also called the Dunston method)  which consists of five basic cries: neh, heh, ah, eair, eh. For our little girl, it helped a heck of a lot in the beginning when trying to figure out what could be wrong. It could also have been complete hogwash and I’m just completely and utterly  in tune with my little angel, so there’s that too. 😉

Amelia Growing  (8)

*When you leave that hospital room and the comfort of people checking in on you, to go out into the world with your precious gift and start the journey of being mom and dad, at some point you’ll realise, “I’ve got this”. It’s not a wondrous, terrifying journey anymore but a happy, comforting reality of daily diaper changes, cuddles, playing, feeding, bathing, laughing, crying and cuddling. You’re in a place where time doesn’t matter and the points you assign to various things don’t mean anything (yep, I’m a huge Who’s Line fan).

Because in the end, as long as your baby is growing well and you’re doing fine, you really can say to anyone who asks how you are: “I’ve got this”.

Welcome Amelia

Hi lovelies,

Sorry for the delay in getting this up, but it’s been an incredibly busy last few days as hubby and I finally got to meet our beautiful little girl! Though it was via an emergency C-section and not a natural birth as planned (despite an 11 hour labor), I’m really over the moon at finally meeting my little girl!

My little angel (C) Rambling with Rose

Instead of keeping you in suspense, here are a few photographs to tide you over, until I have time to update properly. 😉

Born at 5 minutes to midnight (C) Rambling with Rose

Being prepped for surgery and cracking jokes (C) Rambling with Rose

Getting to hold my daughter (C) Rambling with Rose Amelia being checked out (C) Rambling with Rose The wonderful surgical team (C) Rambling with Rose Holding Amelia after her first feed (C) Rambling with Rose Daddy and daughter (C) Rambling with Rose  Our little super girl!

This tiny little angel has definitely brought a whole lot of love with her! ❤