Wednesday 30 December 2015

Gro-Snug from The Gro Company

Swaddling is one of those things that we are old told to do with babies by family, midwifes, health visitors etc. It's a great way of keeping your baby cozy. However, if you're anything like the hubby and I this activity does not came naturally. When we had our first child we would spend long periods of time trying to work out how to wrap blankets so that they are in the 'swaddle' position. No matter how many times we were shown this by health care professionals we just couldn't grasp it. Our next child has recently entered the world and guess what?! We found ourselves back in a world of swaddle pain. Most of the blankets we would wrap would look like one of those horrific shape presents that you find yourself trying desperately to make look pretty. One of the worst things was that we'd end up making the baby to hot as we would wrap the blanket so many times it would end up adding too many layers.

Thankfully, we were asked if we would like to review a Gro Snug from the Gro Company. I new they made Gro Bags (which we've used) but i'd never heard of a Gro Snug. It acts as a sleeping bag and swaddle blanket so giving you the best of both worlds. As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance of reviewing this as I was hoping it would end my losing battle with swaddling.

It comes in 3 different colours. I chose the pure white one. You may be thinking i've lost my mind in that choice as white and babies don't mix but it's machine washable and it can be tumble dried. You can also choose between a light of cosy style one which depends on what time of year you will be using it. It's suitable for newborns and it's a one size fits all shape covering from 5lbs to 12lbs. 

On the first night we used the Gro Snug, Ophelia loved it. She slept for more prolonged periods of time in-between feeds which meant she was content. We used it as a swaddle so we fastened the poppers at the arms. The bag is very roomy at the bottom which allows space for Ophelia to sleep in the natural frog leg position. The material is soft but also stretchy so it allows for movement which is great for Ophelia as she is a wriggler but this keeps her safe.

My favourite feature is that it unzips from the bottom. This is such a treat during night time nappy changes as it allows for minimal disruption. 

It washes very well. I've washed it every 2-3 days since we've had it and it hasn't shrunk at all and still looks as good as new.

Overall, I couldn't recommend this enough to use with any newborns. It's a lot safer than trying to swaddle with blankets and Ophelia has been very happy and content at night time since we've had it. We are going to buy another one in a different colour. You can purchase them from The Gro Company Store.

Did you swaddle your baby? Have you used any Gro Company products before?


Saturday 26 December 2015

Christmas afternoon tea at the Celtic Manor

If there's one hotel in South Wales that always puts me in the christmas spirit then it's the celtic manor. We adore the hotel and we have stayed there on wedding anniversaries. It's become a bit of a christmas tradition for us to have their festive afternoon tea every year. The hotel is always fantastically decorated and it feels cozy, warm and homely. 

I love going for afternoon tea and I've tried lots of them in South Wales. I always find the ones at the Celtic Manor to be far more superior than anywhere else and very good value for money. I was delighted to receive a voucher at a blogging event to try out the christmas afternoon tea they had on offer this year.

Before we had anything to eat we were served a mulled wine and then had a choice from a selection of teas or coffee.

Then came the first round of food which was savoury treats presented in a picnic style basket. There were 4 different things and each were very different but the flavours all complimented each other very well. My favourite from that selection was the crayfish, mango and chilli bilini. I've never tried that flavour combination before but it was light and very refreshing. I was surprised it was included in the festive selection as I felt it was more of a summery appetiser. This didn't bother me though as I could have eaten about 10 of them, they were that satisfying. 

The next installment was what you would normally expect to see at an afternoon tea. We were served finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries on a 3 tiered stand. 
There were 4 different sandwiches which were all very nice. There was turkey and cranberry, smoked salmon, cucumber and egg mayo. I would have liked to have seen some more winter flavours with perhaps stuffing and cheese and chutney etc. 
The cakes and pastries all looked lovely. There were 6 each, so there was a lot to feast on. Even though I enjoyed them, I felt like I needed something sweeter. I felt like I was missing something extremely chocolaty. The selection was very filling. I had to ask for a box to take some of them home as I couldn't finish them and I knew we had more to come. 

Finally, we were given freshly baked scones. I loved the way they were presented in cute baskets. You could smell them before they reached the table. They were warm, the perfect texture and above all delicious. 

I really enjoyed this tea, so much so that I went back again with my mum and daughters. I think it's fantastic value for money as it's so much food. In fact, it may be a bit too much food but as I mentioned earlier, you can take it home. I can't recommend the afternoon tea at The Celtic Manor enough. It always seems better than anywhere else I have it. 

There is still time to enjoy the christmas afternoon tea. It's available from 1pm - 3.30pm and costs £26 per person during the week and £36 on the weekend. There is also a 50% reduction on the price for any children wanting to enjoy the tea.

Have you been to the Celtic Manor before?

Sunday 20 December 2015

My birth story: 2nd time around

I left my labour story at the part where I'd just found out I had to have a cesarean. I'm not sure if you know but my day job is an operating department practitioner. This means that I work in an operating theatre. My job role is to 'scrub' in an operation whereby I assist the surgeon. One thing I've always found working in healthcare is that when it comes to us being patient's,  we make the worst possible ones. I think this is because we know too much and can't shut off.  

When I was transferred onto the operating table, it all felt very surreal. As the team introduced themselves to me, I felt like I was at the wrong side of the table and that I should be the one preparing all the instruments and doing my checks. I found it incredibly difficult to try and blank out what was happening. My consultant was also someone who I work with regularly. Even though I trust him with my life, it was extremely strange seeing him operating without me assisting him. I was incredibly lucky that he was actually the consultant on call the day I was in labour. A twist of fate in my favour perhaps.

Once the cesarean begin, I felt extremely uncomfortable. It wasn't that I felt any pain but it was an epidural anaesthetic so you can feel pushing and pulling etc. Again that didn't bother me but the feeling of discomfort came more from knowing exactly what they were doing so in a sense I felt the knife cut and every other action. I knew what they were doing step by step and I hated it. 

Ophelia was delivered safely and I couldn't wait to have a cuddle. She weighed 7lb 11.5 and she had more hair than I expected. I felt a huge weight come off my shoulders and I cried tears of joy and relief. Hubby had lots of cuddles as I was shaking quite vigorously from the anaesthetic. 

I was so engrossed in my new baby that I hadn't noticed how much time had passed. I suddenly tuned back in to the operation and was able to hear from the whispers that something was wrong. I hadn't felt them start stitching me up. My heart sank. 

My consultant decided to be honest with me (as he knew he couldn't hide anything from me as I've got too much knowledge). They thought that I had a hole in my bladder and that my placenta was completely stuck down, they were struggling to get it out. It had pulled my bladder very high up. They performed a dye test to check for holes and thankfully it was fine (my urine was blue all day then lol). The placenta took a long time to come out and I must admit I found that slightly painful as they were really giving it a good pull. I could see the consultant and registrar putting all their effort in. It looked like a tug of war!

My scar is very small. Smaller than I ever imagined it would be. I was stitched up so I don't have to have any clips removed. 

It's been 4 weeks since the delivery and I am now able to look at all the positives. For a while I felt quite upset about the birth because I really didn't like being a patient and I hated the whole experience. However, when I reflect on it now, I become very emotional. I am so overwhelmed and I feel very lucky and privileged to have had someone I know deliver my baby into the world. The fact that a consultant who I work with all the time delivered Ophelia, makes it all the more special.  

I think the fact that I didn't write a birth plan has helped me to come to terms with my labour and birth. All I knew is that I wanted my baby in the safest way and at the time, a cesarean was needed.

The next part of my labour and birth story will be all about the aftermath. We had to stay in hospital for 6 days in total. Keep your eyes peeled for that installment.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Sleepytot Lamb Review

Just before I had Ophelia, I was asked if we would like to review a new comforter from the Sleepytot range. I hadn't heard of this brand before but I was keen to try out a new comforter. Eva loved her comforters when she was a baby and in fact still has them in her bed now. They played a huge part in keeping her settled at night time and therefore allowing her and us to actually sleep.

We received the Large Lamb to review which costs £14.99. This is about what I would expect to pay for a comforter. 

When it arrived I was surprised at how big it actually was. It's a fab size as it's much bigger than most comforters and therefore will last all through toddler years too.

It stands out from others as it has velcro attachments on its arms and legs. This is a great feature as it can attach to the sides of Ophelia's cot (when she is out of her moses basket) and means that she will never lose it at night time. I've also been attaching it to the car seat arms and the buggy. As she gets older she'll be able to search for it and know it will always within reaching distance.

If you use dummies then the sleepytot is ideal. I only gave Eva a dummy at 9 months when I stopped breastfeeding and I couldn't even tell you the amount of times that she was distressed at night from losing it. With the velcro straps you can attach the dummies to the sleepytot and you know they will always be safe and that your child will always be able to find one and then hopefully be able to self soothe themselves back to sleep. You could even attach one to every arm or leg and then you have all possibilities covered. At the moment Ophelia doesn't have a dummy so I haven't tried this feature out with her although Eva quite often steels it and uses it. I'm looking forward to attaching small teething rings to it when the time comes. 

As i've already mentioned, the sleepytot lamb is quite large in size which has allowed me to use it as a pillow when I am getting Ophelia changed. It's soft and gentle underneath her head and of course is familiar to her so it helps her to remain settled. If you use the supermarket trolleys with the baby attachment, then you could also lie this on there as a pillow. The fabric is very snuggly to touch. and cuddle in to.

My mum also gave me a top tip whilst she was here, visiting from Australia. She told me to leave the sleepytot underneath my top for a day so that it would smell of me and therefore when I then gave it to Ophelia she was even more comforted by it.

Overall, we are really happy with it. It's one of the best comforters I have used and I know it will last a long time as Eva (who is nearly 3) is also playing with it and using it to snuggle up to. I love the fact that it can be machine washed (let's face it babies make a lot of mess between being sick and dribbling). I think the best feature though is the fact that it can be attached to various things meaning you have less chance of losing it and it is always readily available.

Has your child got a teddy or comforter that settles them?

Saturday 5 December 2015

My labour story: 2nd time around

I've decided to write my labour and birth story in a couple of posts or you'll end up feeling like you've read a mini novel.

All through my pregnancy I was hoping that I was going to have a very different experience than my first labour, birth and post partum. I had a long, slow labour and I then had a horrific delivery and was severely infected after having Eva which led to me needing an operation later on to fix up the mess.

Whilst pregnant with Ophelia I remained very positive about what the birth would be like and I had envisioned a different experience to last time. How wrong was I?! 

I started having contractions early Friday morning when I was term + 8 days. They were about 10 minutes apart and were painful but manageable. I was actually looking after Eva at the time so I couldn't make too much of a fuss about them as I thought i'd frighten her.  I thought having her around would be a bad thing but to be honest it was a welcome distraction. I think I was able to deal with everything a lot stronger than I would have done if I was on my own. From about 6pm that evening they became a lot more intense. I dealt with them with paracetamol's and soaking in the bath for what felt like hours (it actually was). I also projectile vomited whilst in the bath. Labour is so glamorous isn't it. I got out of the bath at about 2am and suddenly the contractions became a lot quicker. They were now minutes apart. I decided it was time to go to the hospital. We called my next door neighbour in to babysit Eva until my dad could arrive. The drive to the hospital was horrible. The sleet was extremely heavy which made the journey seem endless.

The midwife examined me and said I was only 3cm and my waters hadn't broken. I couldn't believe it. It was so painful and I was gutted and gobsmacked to find that I was only 3cm. We discussed pain relief and in the end I opted for an epidural as I was so tired and thought that things would take forever seeing as I wasn't very far dilated. 

Next the anaesthetist came to put the epidural in. The midwife then examined me once again but this time I was 7cm. Once again I was gutted as I'd have never had the epidural if I'd have known things were gonna progress that quickly in the space of half an hour. I suppose no one can predict these things though. My waters then broke but came out in a membrane sack. Everyone seemed postive that the baby was going to arrive imminently or within the couple of hours......

The minutes went by, the hours went by. I was examined many times and was still 7cm. At about 10am my consultant popped in. I was so relieved to see him and couldn't have been more pleased that he was on call the weekend I was in labour. He decided to give me something to help contract my uterus. We waited 2 hours to see if that worked. On re - examination I was still 7cm and the head was now not far enough down. The baby started to become distressed so my consultant called it a day and we agreed on a cesarean. I was quite upset about it at the time and I think that was because I had been in labour for so long that I felt like a failure in the end. However, I knew it was the safest option for both baby and I. That's where I will leave this part of my birth story and continue it in a separate blog post.

How have your labour's differed or were they the same? I wished this time around that I was going to be one of these people that have no contractions,  your waters break and then everything starts but annoyingly I had a very similar labour to last time.
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