To splurge or to save; that is the question!

From the moment I found out I was pregnant I was filled with a lot of emotions. Elation, excitement, anticipation, terror. But I can tell you the one thing that was rapidly not filled – our wallets. That was rapidly unfilled, or “emptied” of you will.

Babies.Cost.Money.

Before they’re even born the little humans have you haemorrhaging cash faster than you can say “my car cost less than that pram”. Tim and I quickly discovered there are A LOT of things you can buy for your impending arrival from carriers to beds to weird heart rate monitor things, all of which pitch themselves as the last word in protecteding and loving your baby. Nothing like some early parental guilt to get you rapidly purchasing every product and taking out a second mortgage on your house.

Fortuntaely I had friends and family who had been new parents before and were able to offer some advice on what they found useful and some thrifty hints along the way. In the interest of passing on the wisdom I hope this post helps some other new parents navigate their way through Baby Bunting/Kingdom/other completely overwhelming baby store.

DISCLAIMER- this is just an opinion on things we found helpful and is in no way judging or pooh – poohing any body else’s way of shopping for their baby. What works works guys!

So let’s start with the SAVE category.

1. Clothes.

Before you fork out $80 for the cutest little newborn outfit you’ve ever seen remember, babies change clothing size 2-3 times before they’re 6 months old and then again every 6 months after that depending on the brand. This means the cost per wear on that outfit is not great. I bought a $50 Seed outfit for Hugh and that boy wore that outfit at every single opportunity I could come up with until Tim declared that surely it was an it small and he could wear something else.

Target, Big W and Kmart all have super cute clothes for $5-$20 per outfit or look on your local buy swap and sell Facebook page and op shops. There are a lot of barely worn infant clothes there waiting for a new home at a bargain price!

2. Toys.

In the interest of stimulating our boy and giving him the very best start in life and we got him a lot of toys. Like anything there are a lot of toy options out there from the brightest of colours to those cool Scandinavian looking arty pieces (I mean toys, sorry). Trust me when I say your baby will love the noisest, ugliest, most colourful today you have. Even better than that your baby will love the TV remote, your keys, an empty yogurt container and his fathers dirty shoes. The very expensive toys will not always be the most popular choice. I’m a sucker for cool toys though and I have managed to fulfill this need without breaking our bank by hitting up Gumtree and my buy swap and sell page! I’ve managed to get a walker for Hugh for $10, a stand up car for $15 and Thomas the Tank Engine tent and tunnel set for $25. All of these retail for much much more and to be honest he’ll grow out of most of them within 12 months so I’m glad I haven’t splashed my cash!

3.  Car capsule

We decided to hire our car capsule and have never looked back! The car capsule is not to be confused with the car seat. A capsule usually sits in a base and can be clicked in and out of the car and your pram. The catch with the capsule is depending on the size of your small (or not so small) human it may only last you 4-6 months before you are shoving their rapidly growing limbs into this tiny torture chamber. Our capsule retails for around $400. Instead of buying it we hired it through Kidsafe and paid $120 for the 6 month period. You do the math there. Extra bonus is they don’t start the 6 month hire period until your baby is actually born and they professionally fit it for you in your car. AND it’s one less thing you have to store once Junior rapidly grows out of it. That’s someone else’s problem!

5. Random other saves

My Mum is a huge fan of her local Mission Australia Shop and can I tell you, so am I! She has picked up loads from toys for Hugh and my nephew Louis. The other score was a baby bath for $1 (a tubs a tub right).

We also borrowed a lot of things from bottles and a steriliser to sleep swaddles, toys, even our bassinet! If you can borrow it do it! Not only does it save cash, it saves you from having to store all this stuff once bub doesn’t use it any more.

Now, where to SPEND.

1. Pram.

A pram is going to last you for a while. Depending on how independent your offspring turns out to be could be anywhere from 2-4 years. We wanted something with a slim profile (to get around the kitschy homewares stores that we love), easy to collapse (so I didn’t have a melt down 2-3 times a day in random car parks) and a large shopping basket (nuff said there) and we were willing to invest to get what we wanted. Hugh spent a lot of time in his pram and it was important to us that we had one we really liked. As a comparison for you, we did buy a cheaper smaller stroller with the idea we would use it for travelling. It has been dubbed “the shopping trolley” as its steering strongly resembles that supermarket nightmare with wheels going everywhere and takes you precariously close to ththe carefully stacked tower of tuna tins.

2. Mattress

We purchased a cot for Hugh with the removable side meaning it will eventually turn into a toddler bed. The bed itself wasn’t that expensive but we did splurge on a better mattress that will go the distance for 3-4 years.

Ok, that ones a bit boring but hey – not everything can be fun and giggles right?

3. Baby Monitor

Aside from the fact that Tim got talked into buying the top of the line baby monitor because it had a touch screen we did intend to spend a reasonable amount on a good monitor and it gave me great peace of mind once Hugh moved into his own room. It was very reassuring for me to be able to see him not just hear him and it does help me to make judgement calls on whether he really needs me or if he will settle back to sleep.

4. Car seat

These suckers are expensive. There is no way around it BUT they do last you 4-8 years depending on which one you get and unlike a lot of other stuff that’s out there they directly contribute to your child’s safety. And they’re a legal requirement so if you’re going to do it do it right!

So that’s my advice but to be honest, don’t over think it too much. If you want to buy the $80 baby outfit because you’re pregnant and excited, do it! If you feel the need to splurge on a $4000 cot then go for it! At the end of the day its just important that you and your baby are happy and well kitted out.

 

 

Baby Killers

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I would like to start this post by pointing out that Tim and I live in a very normal house. In fact it’s a new build with no major structural or “wear and tear” issues that I’m aware of. We are also careful and considerate people and I’m confident I speak for both of us when I say we are never intentionally lax when it comes to the safety of anyone, let alone our child. I’m ashamed to say that until we had Hugh I was unaware that we were living a reckless, devil may care life in a baby death trap with danger and destruction lurking around every corner.

Ordinary, everyday objects take on a whole new level or terror with a baby, especially as they get older. And more mobile. And more “everything in the mouth”. Newborns are a cinch. In the first 12 weeks of Hugh’s life I was terrified of harming him in some way, but I was new to all of this and had no idea the true danger that lay ahead. Newborns just lie there. Sure, they cry and poop and feed and sleep too but the most beautiful thing about a newborn (aside from their adorable little faces) is the fact that they are immobile. You put them somewhere and they don’t move. They drink liquid which goes down like a non choking dream and life is generally good. You don’t appreciate it at the time, but trust me, it’s good.

While I can’t pinpoint the exact date that things went south I feel like I really started noticing it when Hugh hit the 4 month mark. Since that day the list of things that are trying to harm my son includes, but is not limited to:

– our bed/ any grown up beds (already rolled off one)

– lounges with a gap greater than his own body width (already wedged himself beneath one)

– coffee shops and everything in them ( see ‘Mum Gone Wild’ for more details on that one)

– stairs (basically a siren call for babies)

– anything with a power cord (straight in the mouth)

– anything with batteries (straight in the mouth)

– anything with small pieces (straight in the mouth)

– Car keys (straight in the mouth – seeing a pattern yet?)

– Non age appropriate foods

– Age appropriate foods

– Nature (flora and fauna). Spiders in my house are a WHOLE new level of horror (not yet in the mouth but give it time).

All of these sound relatively harmless but I’m forgetting to mention the biggest danger of all. The greatest of all dangers to my beautiful baby boy is himself. Hugh is like “Capatin Risky” from that insurance commercial but without the crash helmet or the ability to speak. He is determined to turn the most innocuous everyday item into a weapon of self harm.

The age appropriate rice cakes we feed him are designed to “dissolve as the infant chews them”. Doesn’t work when the infant in question insists on putting the whole buscuit in his mouth at once and then gags profusely because he can’t close said mouth let alone chew. Much time is spent fishing bits of food out of Hugh’s mouth as his eyes are bigger than his, well, his mouth I guess.

While our car keys are a jangly delight in the hands of my boy they are a tonsillectomy waiting to happen. Why can’t you just look at them?! Why does it take less than 30 seconds for you to stop shaking them with delight and progress to shoving the longest, and suddenly the most lethal looking key down your throat?

Hugh was on our bed the other morning while we got dressed and I turned to find him eating my iPhone charger. It wasn’t plugged in thankfully but of the two sides he could be gumming on which did he choose? The smooth, less dangerous white display end? No. That would be simple. Instead he was sucking one of the metal prongs furiously while being awfully close to sticking the other two up his nostrils. Truth be told I don’t even know how he got it off my bedside table. He’s just a magnet for things that can cause him bodily harm.

Even in his own walled cot he dances with death. When we had to transition Hugh to sleep with his arms out of his swaddle we gave him a soft lamb blankey ( a gift from his Aunty Emsey) to help him sleep. You see, he used snuggle his face to into the “wings” of the swaddle for comfort and then drop off. The lamb was to replace the wings and it worked. Kind of. Unfortunately rather than just cuddling into the lamb on the side Hugh insisted on  dragging it over his face and that was it. What followed  was a stress filled two hours watching the monitor for small twitches or signs that he was alive and hadn’t smothered himself to death with his much loved “Lambie”. Against all SIDS guidelines he has also taken to sleeping on his tummy, face first in the mattress.

We’re doing all we can to protect our boy from harm but it feels like no matter what I do he will find a way to seek out the riskiest most thrilling thing in the room and gravitate towards it, whether that be open power outlets, heavy unstable objects or set of deceptively harmless keys that happen to be lying around.

The only solution is to remove everything and create a white padded room with soft walls and soothing sounds and nothing harmful. Not for Hugh, for me, so I can escape for a while from the stress of a mobile, exploratory Hugh Abrahams.

 

 

 

 

 

Mum gone wild!

IMG_4331.JPGLast weekend I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Adelaide to visit some of our closest friends. After lots of debating around the logistics of travel Tim and I decided that I would go by myself and he and Hugh would stay behind in Canberra and enjoy some “boy time”.

At first I will admit a wave of parental guilt washed over me – “I’ve never left him for more than 1 night” (Hugh that is, not Tim), ” what if he misses me too much he can’t sleep or eat?” or even worse “what if he forgets who I am?”. This is probably a good time to point out I was only going for 3 nights and technically only 2 full days but parental guilt cares not for logic, it only wants you to second guess yourself as much as possible.

ANYWAY… I’m happy to say that slowly but surely the parental guilt began to subside and as my preparation commenced I began to appreciate the true beauty of travelleing as a solo human. The sudden freedom I had filled me with a reckless abandon and I revelled in the wild and crazy* opportunities that came my way. (*please note, wild and crazy as defined by parenting standards.)

It started the night before my departure. As I started to plan what I needed to take two things struck me straight away:

1. No Hugh means I can travel with only about 1/6 of the stuff I normally pack. No full sized suitcase +nappy bag+ stroller+carry on bag required. Not only that but my own personal packing could also be drastically reduced as the need for 3-4 emergency outfit changes for myself could be culled! I could pack ONE singular, solo, easily managed carry on bag and still have room to spare. Life changing stuff.

2. No Hugh = no bottles, no formula, no assortment of likely to leak puréed food containers, no bibs, no toys, no dummys, NOTHING that could potentially ruin the inside of a handbag. It was a revelation. Overcome with emotion I reached into the top of my wardrobe and lovingly, reverently pulled down my beautiful Michael Kors tote bag. Michael had been packed away just before I had Hugh as he is far too precious to be exposed to the Mum life I now lead. But travelling solo gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my darling handbag love with no fear of him being ruined or soiled by my baby or by baby related products. It was sheer bliss.

When I arrived at the airport I went to the bar and I had a wine! Yeah I did! By myself, and while I had that wine I read a book! I’m serious, you can’t make this stuff up! I read and drank my bubbles and gave 100% of my concentration to those two activities. The feeling of bliss continued as I boarded the plane and continued to read not one, not two, but MULTIPLE CHAPTERS of my book in complete peace. I could even use two hands and ate a sandwich at the same time. It’s almost too much, I know.

This next bit was probably too wild, maybe I took things a bit too far, but by this point my new found freedom was taking over me and I couldn’t control my actions. I had a stopover in Melbourne and I found a cafe. Not just any cafe though, a cafe that specifically had tiny tables.

Anyone who has a baby/toddler at the grabby stage is nodding right now, you know where I’m heading with this.

Going for coffee, or any beverage, with a grabby small human is hard work. They just want to touch and pull everything. The strategy is usually to move everything to the far side of the table away from grasping fingers however with tiny tables this can prove problematic as, depending on the reach of your small human, the other side of the table is not far enough. Sometimes it feels like the table next to you isn’t even far enough and suddenly a coffee out is a game of preventive chess as you move things around the table in various formations to prevent your opponent (the baby) from upending everything and causing you to leave the cafe and probably never come back. That coffee shop is dead to you now. So yeah, tiny tables and a tiny human just can’t mix.

The coffee shop in Melbourne Airport had the tiniest of tables with an open sugar bowl and grabbable spoons. I sat there and I didn’t move anything. What a thrill! But wait, it gets better – the waitress brought my coffee over and put it down on the edge of the table closest to me AND I LEFT IT THERE!!! It was almost too much to be honest. I felt invincible! Nothing could hold me back!

By the time I arrived back in Canberra after 2 (and a bit) days I had throughly indulged my solo adult self and all jokes aside I felt like a new person.

Don’t get me wrong, I missed by baby and my husband very much. I’m pretty sure the smile when I saw them on Sunday morning nearly split my face in two and my heart swelled with love until I felt like it might burst. The few days of true “grown up” time let me renew and recharge myself in an increadible way and allowed me to wholly and solely focus on me, something that makes me a better person and more importantly a better parent.

To anyone with kids out there make sure you indulge in “you time” every now and again and reconnect with your pre children wild and crazy self, even if it’s just for a few hours at a cafe with tiny tables and lidless sugar bowls. You’ve earned it.

 

 

The body issue.

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I put on 30kg during my pregnancy. Given that I lost 4kg due to the severe morning sickness in my first trimester that is certainly an impressive accomplishment. There are many days that I wonder how I managed to gain that much weight in 6 months, then I remember the addiction to cheesymite scrolls, KFC twisters and chips that followed the extreme food aversion of the first trimester and suddenly it makes a bit more sense.

I am no stranger to losing weight having been a bigger girl in my early 20s. I lost my considerable girth through diet and exercise and until about 2 months ago I was confident that I could knock this baby weight flat on it’s ass pretty easily using the same method. That assumption was INCORRECT!

Why? Why do my previous methods of weight shedding no longer work? Why is my body not “bouncing back” to it’s previous bouncy self? What the hell is going on here?!?!?!

I have come to the conclusion that this is because I have grown and birthed a human. Apparently this is a very monumental thing for the body to do and for many women their bodies never go back to the way they were. This theory is supported by a long and unsatisfactory discussion with my GP who concluded by telling me there was no magic bullet to fix my post baby weight gain. Unfortunately it’s just diet and exercise with the added bonus that loosing weight post baby is definitely harder because of what your body has been through and can be a lot slower than what I’ve done before.

Stuff that.

I know what you’re thinking – “but Amy, don’t you feel sexy and powerful after watching your body do such an amazing thing like pregnancy and giving birth?”

No. I am not that person. My hair is falling out, I am less fit than a tiny weak kitten who hates going to the gym and to be honest I am resentful that my body has betrayed me like this. The skin on my stomach has stretched and now flaps against itself when I run. Discovered that little gem during personal training the other day when I couldn’t work out what that weird noise was. Nothing is un sexier than that. Top that off with the fact that my knees are tender and creeky and my wrists make some sort of cracking sound during push-ups I’m like a one woman percussion band when I hit the gym. So hot.

So why is this weight loss suddenly so hard?

P.B (pre baby) I went to the gym at least once a day and fitness was a top priority . A baby doesn’t let you do that (at least mine doesn’t) mainly because you are so damn tired all the time. When Tim comes home from work, we bath Hugh, give him a bottle and throw him in bed at which point I proceed to get my own bottle and relocate to the lounge where I lie like a very comfortable beached whale until it’s time to go to bed. In the mornings I am still in “sleep as much and as often as you can” mode which makes early rising a difficult manoeuvre. I could book Hugh into the crèche at my gym but I keep forgetting to do that (subconscious sabotage?) so I’m the first to admit I have the opportunity but I don’t take it as much as I should. The motivation just isn’t there and I’m struggling to get it back.

I have rejoined Weight Watchers and the weight is SLOWLY creeping down. When I say slowly pretty sure a snail with concrete weighs attached to its shell is faster than my weight loss at the moment but you know what, it’s happening and that is a good thing!

While I may feel less than positive about my post baby body now and desperately long for my pre baby body back I am trying to change my tune. My weight will come down (eventually) and my fitness will come back (slowly). But I’ll never be the same as I was before physically or emotionally. I have a happy, healthy baby boy who has changed everything about my life (including my poor body) forever. If I’m ever going to be happy I need to set myself some realistic expectations and stop reading “How Miranda Kerr lost all of her post baby weight in 3 days and WOW she even looks better than she did before” articles in OK Magazine.

I will continue to persevere with the post baby girth but I’ve accepted it’s a marathon not a sprint and that the end result will never be what it once was.

On the upside I’ve already decided on the name for my yet to be written autobiography – “The Sound of One Stomach Flapping”.

Sorry, I’ve been wanting to use that line for a while.

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Things I’ve loved this week :

Storage cubes from Target. A great way to store Hugh’s smaller toys in an easy to locate way! https://www.target.com.au/p/ltd-kaleidoscope-coated-paper-cube/58806159

My shellac manicure. Keeps on keeping on.

My new Lipsense lipsticks! Beautiful colours and does not come off on my coffee cup, my wine glass or my son! Complete win!

 

 

Where did my brain go?

imageThis is the third time I have written this post. I am not joking. The first time I forgot to save the draft. The second time I hit “new post” instead of “publish” and POOF it was gone. Fortunately this post is about my incurable case of baby brain so the scenario lends itself nicely to my story.

I used to be a smart person. Back in my P.B days (Pre Baby) I could do things just once in a competent fashion. I knew why I walked into rooms, I put things back in places where I could find them again. I always knew baby brain was a thing but I assumed it went away post birth. This is not the case. I strongly suspect that when I gave birth to our beautiful son half of my brain popped out after him and after 7 months of this I don’t think it’s ever coming back. I now have an IQ of 5 and the memory of a goldfish with Alzheimers.

It’s the simplest things that I really struggle with. For example trying to pack the nappy bag to go out. Hugh and I have an outing once a day so I pack the nappy bag in the morning full of everything I need. I noticed we were low on nappies so I went upstairs to get some. All normal except that I had to up and down 4 TIMES before I got the damn thing! I don’t have a big staircase, it takes less than 1 minute to climb it and yet in that one minute the reason for going up completely leaves my mind. On the first go I ended up straightening the bed, second time I opened the bedroom window to let some air in. Third time I actually went into his room (getting warmer) but just ended up getting his outfit ready for the day and turning off the music he sleeps to. The worst part is that every single time I got back downstairs I was like “oh yeah, nappies” and turned around and went straight back up!

The fact I even remembered nappies is a miracle. I have gone out without nappies and wipes before. Just a small trip out to get some much needed caffeine so I decided to downsize from the Tardis (my usual nappy bag) and just take enough supplies for one nappy change. Smart right? That’s right, I’m an ideas woman!

Got into town and realised Hugh had wet his nappy. Cue mental high fives all round for bringing nappy and wipes. I’m such a smart Mum. The self congratulations ceased once I had tipped my handbag upside down and realised that my carefully crafted “nappy to go” package was still sitting on the kitchen table. Put the pants back on my son and went to Coles. Bought nappies, wipes and oh look, baby foods on sale and we need some bananas… what a successful shop. Wait for the lift for 5 minutes to go back upstairs to the parents room, get Hugh’s pants off and pull out a nappy and get the……. the wipes? Starting to lose my cool a little bit. Where the f$&k are the WIPES????? Downstairs. At the checkout where I left them. Again. I had two options at this point. Option 1 was to go back downstairs again and get them. I went with option 2 – put the pants back on my son, left him in his wet nappy and went and got my coffee. I’m not proud of what happened but I had just reached that point where it was too hard now and I quit.

I have put pantry items in the fridge, milk back in the pantry, gone to the shops 3 times to buy one (usually crucial) item and then my top pet hate, been unable to complete sentences because I can remember basic……. oh yeah, words.

As I write this I have just remembered I need to pack some bottles and formula before we go out. If you’ll excuse me, I’d better go and start the half hour process of going forwards and back from the kitchen before I remember what I’m in there for now.

X

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Things I have loved this week:

The library! Buying books while I’m on Maternity leave has been costing me a fortune so bring on the fabulous and free library! Plus with their E-books range I can borrow new books on my iPad without even leaving the house.

Corn! Following on from last weeks post I have discovered Hugh loves corn. Adding it to food has suddenly made him appreciate Mummy’s cooking and makes me feel like I’m suddenly the Nigella Lawson of baby food.

IKEA Bevara clips! Not only are they handy around the house but if you put them in a ziplock bag they are a fun, noisy, colourful toy for the little person in your life.

 

Babies and Breadmaking

It is a truth universally acknowledged for families everywhere that all babies eat better than their poor, malnourished parents.

Back in our P.B. (Pre Baby) days Tim and I ate pretty well. Nice steaks, salads, vegetables, foods with nutritional value, you know how it goes. Sometimes on weekends we would go all out and make stuff like “jus” and “rosti”. Truly amazing times. But that was pre preganacy.

My first trimester of pregnancy was a culinary disaster. The smell of everything made me heave and when I did feel like eating something I would devour it and then usually bring it back up again wthin the hour, thus ruining my taste for that food for the rest of my life. Ok, that’s dramatic but it was certainly for the rest of the first trimester but I digress.

Hugh’s first few months were a sleep deprived blur and we ate anything that could be cooked in 5 minutes and eaten with one hand but then over night we hit the 4 month mark and suddenly it was time to introduce solids to our little bundle of joy. After nearly a year of creative cooking hiatus I was thrown into a state of panic that I feel can only be compared to a master chef contestant about to undertake a pressure test with a small Matt Preston waiting in his highchair to judge me.

In the quest to be the perfect parent I have become consumed with the perfect most nutritional way to prepare for Matt Jnr. When I cook for Tim and it’s on the fly, veggies cooked and sloppily mashed, meat maybe over cooked or sometimes under. The other day we ate packet salad and some freezer salmon while Hugh ate perfectly poached chicken with a hint of thyme, steamed spinach, pumpkin and peas, blitzed into a fine purée. All up Hugh’s dinner took me 40 minutes of chopping, steaming, poaching, pureeing to the best of my ability and what did my small sweet little human do?  Sobbed through every mouthful. Wailed hysterically while I tried to lovingly shovel spoonfuls of culinary delight into my son’s gob while he threw his head around like one of those clown games at a carnival. 10% got in the mouth, 40% on cheeks, eyebrows, lap and hair and the other 50% remained in the bowl.

Last night I was feeling lazy and opened one of those squeezy tubes of vegetables – pumpkin, potato and swedes. And what did the small human do? Ate every mouthful. Every bit was consumed without a whinge or a wimped. Rafferty’s Garden 1 – Mummy 0.

Some days I think I put so much pressure on myself to be the perfect Mum. At the end of the day he’s still alive, he’s got some food in him. But I can’t easily shake the burning desire to do something “homey” and “Mum like” for my son. Hence the bread. We got a bread maker from our best friends for our wedding and I made a few unsuccessful attempts early on but now I have a child so I have pulled it out again and went through the steps one by one and what do you know! I made bread!

I cut a piece and lovingly toasted it. Beautiful home made bread for my darling son. And what did he do? Gummed on it for a minute and then threw it over the side of the highchair onto the floor.

Every week I now make homemade bread and every morning I throw half a soggy slice in the bin after I’ve picked it up from the floor. I’ve made peace with it. One day my boy will devour everything I put in front of him. Until then I will continue to try and be not offended by my little food critic and his preference for pre packaged food over his Mamas meals.