A year ago today…

…my baby girl was born!

How has a whole year gone by so very, very fast? And yet, obviously, it feels like she has been here forever all at the same time. I have never found the right words to post about Baby being born. I don’t think I ever will. I’m okay at writing about the small stuff (like saving money here and there) but no good at all at writing about the big stuff. Still…

…a year ago today:

  • Husband and I got up and drove to the hospital all ready to be induced, 12 days past our due date
  • Baby’s heart rate was way too fast and an emergency caesarean was called for before I’d even been shown to a room
  • Got told by the surgical team I was one of the calmest people they’d ever seen (all a front by the way. I was repeating ‘This is not the time to freak out, this is not the time to freak out’ over and over in my head. Particularly when it didn’t seem like the epidural was going to work…)
  • A nice uncomplicated caesarean later (umbilical cord around the neck was the cause for the increased heart rate) and I was sitting in Recovery cuddling my beautiful baby, drinking tea and having toast
  • She was then and is now the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. I still can’t believe she is real.
  • I changed my first nappy. Sadly this was by myself in the dark, trying to manipulate the electric hospital bed upright while picking up the baby and trying to get the changing bag off the floor. Got told off by the nurse for doing this only a few hours after surgery but I’d been pressing the buzzer for half an hour and no-one came. For all I know, no-one was going to come. Seems I’m not alone in this experience. I wish they could have let me home where there would have been plenty of help on hand but there you go.
  • Breast feeding, thankfully, came very easy. Not so for the poor woman across the ward who was up all night trying to feed a screaming baby. Who, thus, also kept me awake all night. When Husband arrived the next morning I hadn’t slept since I saw him last. To be fair, I haven’t slept much since either!

It’s been a crazy, brilliant year. My best one yet…

Happy Birthday baby girl xxxx

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A morning out on £1.65 (and a bit about weaning!)


Well, the frugal February plan is off to a fairly good start. This morning we went to our (free) playgroup and then we went for tea and teacakes with a crowd of other Mums and babies afterwards which is something of a Tuesday tradition. I was going to forego the teacake today in honour of my diet but decided to have it anyway. It’s only once a week. One of the local cafes is very accommodating and has a large area in the back where we can park up all of our pram and pushchairs and not be in the way. They also have a loyalty card where you get your tenth hot drink for free. I’ve been saving these points up in readiness for the end of my maternity pay and so I used one today (I still have one to use). Hence my pot of tea was free so I only had to pay £1.65 for the teacake. I think £1.65 for a morning out with a playgroup and then tea and cake is pretty good going!

You might be wondering about the photo. That, dear readers, is a frozen (heart-shaped no less) cube of pureed carrot. I’ve been meaning to write a post about weaning for months now and I never seem to get around to it. We weaned a bit earlier than the recommended 6 months (since then it has been all over the news that some research now suggests 6 months is too late – they can never make their minds up can they? It’s like the peanut thing all over again. I digress…) for a variety of reasons. We started out with baby rice, then carrot, then apple and onwards. I bought an Anabel Karmel book and have since been given two more. I doubt I’ll ever get through all of the recipes but Baby seems to like whatever I seem to make though some recipes, like Beef Casserole, took a couple of attempts before she was really very interested. I’ve been batch cooking. At the moment I have four batches of food in the freezer: Beef Casserole, Chicken with Sweet Potato and Apple, Broccoli and Califlower Cheese and a Lentil and Sweet Potato recipe. I also freeze cubes of individual vegetables and fruit which get mixed and matched in with other things. One of Baby’s favourite things is pureed pear mixed with plain yoghurt. She eats way better than I do! However, I do buy some food in jars for when we are out and about. Not many places will heat food up and I also worry about giving her food that might have been in my bag for hours when it really ought to have been in the fridge. We seem to get on okay with food from Organix or Hipp Organic so I have a little supply of those in the cupboard for when I know we aren’t going to be back in time for lunch or dinner. I also cottoned on today (about 6 weeks late!) that I don’t need to boil and cool her drinking water anymore – she can have cold water straight from the tap. What a relief! Sooooo much easier.

I really had to restrain myself when it came to buying weaning products – so many dinky containers! Pretty spoons! Cunning little clip-together things! Eventually I managed a little restraint. I collected together all of those tiny little tupperware boxes you never know what to do with and Mum also donated several from the back of her cupboard. They have been invaluable since Baby has been eating larger portions of things. I did buy a set of four special clip-together boxes. They are nice and robust and keep the contents in properly – particularly good for when we are going to visit friends as it means I can take something home-made and bung it in their fridge as soon as we get there. Dealing with some kind of meaty puree that has escaped from its container and all over the inside of your bag isn’t particularly fun. The special icecube trays were also tempting but we already had two flexi ice cube trays (one of hearts, once of stars – thank you IKEA!). Speaking of IKEA, Mum also picked us up a set of 6 brightly coloured bowls which we use every day and are brilliant. We could probably have spent a few pounds less but all told it really didn’t cost very much and I’m pleased with what we’ve got.

I don’t think I’ll be spending any more today but if I do I’ll ‘fess tomorrow…

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Going back to work

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been slightly plagued by the calendar. Why? Because I’ve been aware of how much of my maternity leave has already gone. I’ve now been off work for seven months and that nagging voice in the back of my head kept telling me I needed to negotiate terms for going back.

Here in the UK there have been a lot of changes to the rules governing maternity leave – pay, length of time etc. I had only been working for the company for just over 4 months which has meant that I have been being paid Maternity Allowance (at just over £120 a week). This lasts for 39 weeks…and runs out in February. Eek! However, it has been really important to me that a) I take as much time off to spend with Baby as possible and b) that when I do go back I work less hours also so I can spend as much time as possible with Baby. I should also add that c) it is really important that I have an income as we can’t afford to live on Husband’s salary alone and certainly would never be able to get a mortgage again if I didn’t.

I’ve obviously been thinking about this a lot over the last few months but particularly over the last few weeks as the time where this needed to be sorted out by was getting ever closer. With that in mind I carefully thought over what would work for me, what would be fair to the company I work for and what the financial implications would be so I had a point at which to start discussions. The trouble was, the more I thought about it, the more nervous I started to get. What if they said no? What if they were put off by the amount of time I wanted to take off (even if it is my legal right to have 52 weeks leave, it doesn’t mean a company is going to be happy about it)? What if they said it had to be full-time or nothing? Argh! Deciding to take the ‘rip-the-plaster-off’ approach I called my boss this week and asked if I could call in to talk about it all.

He couldn’t have been nicer or more supportive. I saw him the same day I telephoned and it was all sorted out by the end of the meeting. I am going back in 5 months, part-time. I’ll be in the office two full days a week and then working from home two days a week (for 4.5 hours a day). This means I will be working roughly 2/3 of the time I was previously. This is perfect as it means I will be available for four days a week (so not so very different from my previous five days) which is good from their point of view. From my perspective it is good as I will have one whole day with Baby during the week plus two half days. PLUS, as I won’t have to commute on the half days I will be able to finish work and immediately be back on Mum duty.

Very luckily for us, my parents are going to be providing childcare so I know that Baby is going to be in the best possible hands. On the days when I am not working in the office I can either work from my house or my parents house so I’ll be very close by!

Now that everything has been settled I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and I can enjoy my five lovely months of pure Baby. Oh, and for the eagle-eyed among you, you might have twigged that this means from February I have no income at all for about three months. Yup. Nada. Watch this space for some extremely frugal times!

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Day 5

Baby and I went to our (free!) post-natal group where we were supposed to be learning about ‘treasure boxes’ (apparently the hottest thing going in babyland). In fact, the babies spent the entire session completely entranced by a huge sheet of crinkly silver paper which they rolled around on and gummed to their hearts content. Other free things included going for a walk, reading my library book and visiting my parents. No spend at all!

Categories: Baby, Shoestring Fun | 1 Comment

Days 3 & 4

Day 3: A fairly low spend day yesterday – about £1.50 on biscuits as I had a few Mum and Baby friends over during the day. Lots of playing with rattles and attempts at tummy time. I only know one baby that really likes tummy time but the heath visitors keep telling us how important it is so we keep persisting! 

Day 4: Today I spent just under £10 in Co-op which mostly went on food (yoghurts, bacon, grapes etc) but also included a hair conditioner which was reduced to half price. It was a good day for free stuff. We have a place on a free six week baby massage course which Baby loves. Today we were learning about tummy massage (odd. I doubt I’ve ever typed the word ‘tummy’ before and it has popped up twice in this post…) – cue lots of farting babies and giggling Mums. There are even chocolate biscuits at the end…I’m easily pleased. Later on I dropped into the library and managed to get another book that I really wanted. Baby and I spent the afternoon laying on the playmat – she chewed stuff and I managed to read a few chapters inbetween singing songs and kissing chubby cheeks…

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Baby steps

Thanks everyone for the lovely messages. Baby is doing great (went over her birth weight after one week) and is spellbindingly gorgeous. I am…well, knackered really so no surprises there. I’m finding the post-caesarean recovery a bit frustrating – I’m not used to having to go so slow! Still, one thing at a time. At least I’ve got a super-cute baby to stare at while I’m sitting around! x

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Hello baby!

Well, she’s here! Only 12 days late and arriving by emergency caesarean but here none the less and thriving thus far. I’d love to write an articulate and moving post about it all but I’m typing with hand and there’s a nappy that needs to be changed…just wanted to let you all know that all is well in the Shoestring camp!

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…we’re all still waiting…

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Ho hum

Still waiting…it’s been a week of lots of appointments with various people discussing various options. Tomorrow I will be 5 days overdue. I have now almost entirely lost my ability to sleep – 2 hours last night and 4 hours the night before. The annoying thing is, I’m not even laying there being stressed out about a) not sleeping or b) the baby not arriving. I’m just awake. Thankfully I have been completely engrossed by the Millenium trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc) which has kept me entertained though have just started the last one so it won’t last long!

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Making tentative plans

I’ve given up waiting for baby to arrive. I am now officially overdue (the ‘due date’ was yesterday). Clearly she’s going to come out some point but, since there aren’t any signs that this is particularly imminent, I think the best way to deal with it is to not sit around waiting. In a sense it is quite nice having got the countdown to the due date out of the way – as if any further build up is needed! Might as well just get on with things…

Husband and I went out for a walk this morning (nice to be out in the sunshine but not a particularly comfortable experience!) and he is now cooking a roast dinner so Sunday is shaping up pretty well so far. I’m going to do a bit of plotting this afternoon about what to do this week. I’ve been doing some very odd ‘shops’ over the last couple of weeks, picking up bits and bobs here and there every day or two. This isn’t the way I’d usually do things (it certainly isn’t very budget friendly) but the countdown was on and I didn’t really feel like making any plans. However, we’ve got quite a few things tucked in the fridge and in the cupboards that can be used (or actively need to be used up) so I’m going to make a meal plan for the rest of the week. If it all has to go out of the window then so be it! I don’t mind still picking things up day by day for the rest of the week, so long as there is a plan so I’m only buying what we need. While I’ve hardly been going crazy with the cash since I’ve been on maternity leave I haven’t exactly been keeping a very strict eye on it either. My maternity allowance has still not shown up yet and my wages have now run out so keeping an eye on the pennies and the pounds is definitely the order of the day!

Fortunately my (tentative) plans for the week are of a suitably low-key, shoestring variety. There will be eating and cooking (minimal expense and clearly a necessary one!), cracking open my books saved for a reading based emergency (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is first on the list), hanging out with my parents in their garden and keeping back a couple of DVDs for the evenings. I could also probably do with slipping a bit of housework in each day again – might as well try to stay ahead of the game while I still can!!

On that note, I’m heading off to the kitchen with a notepad and pen to see what needs using up…

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