Monday, 8 February 2016

Eating Out With a Newborn Baby and a Five Year Old

Every year at Valentine's social media comes alive with the protests from parents that they are not going out for a meal because "we are parents now". Either Valentine's goes unnoticed or it's just a card and roses and no fine dining. I would have fallen into this camp too, but thankfully with the husband always remembering the roses and card.

This year however, we've managed a meal despite having a newborn. But rather than being for Valentine's it was for my birthday, but it proves it CAN be done. You just have to pick a venue that has family friendly food, with a family friendly atmosphere (family friendly prices helps too of course).

From before we left, I had a vision of lil lady asleep in her pram, next to the table with me eating in comfort. So, I asked hubby that we bring the pram in the car. We hadn't done so yet and we were amazed by how much room it takes up in the boot. The carrycot is large as is the chassis. But we weren't going anywhere that required luggage so the pram had the boot to itself.

Turned out, that even though the meal coincided with the time of day that she sleeps the most, she did grizzle a little and I held her as much as she slept. Probably because whilst there I bottle rather than breastfed her. But also because she kept looking at the ceiling fascinated by the spotlights. I enjoyed the cuddles though and the opportunity to show off my newborn. The neighbouring table simply adored her.

Given I took a bottle for her, this was what our round of drinks looked like LOL
Anyway, below is how cute her buggy looked next to our table, despite the hubby's reluctance to clutter up the place with it (well there was no way I was having her spend that length of time in a car seat; I wanted her to be as comfortable as she'd be at home and due to the time constraints on car seats we'd have had to rush our meal). Beefeater didn't mind in the least that we brought a buggy and our meal was booked for 1800 so we were there at a family time. We loved the booth that we got which could have easily dined 8 people.
Her sleepsuit which includes its very own slippers is simply adorable.

Anyway, we missed parent's evening the week she was born, so the same day as Beefeater we got a one-to-one with Aaron's teacher at 15:30. It went very very well, so well in fact that Aaron didn't want to go home. The only thing that had him SKIPPING out of school was when I mentioned that after an hour at home, we'd be going out again, to Beefeater. He's been before and loves it. 

He was the first to choose his food from the menu. 
Same as last time, he ordered spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread, although this time I also ordered him a corn on the cob which he couldn't eat quick enough. Aaron's a good eater and it's a pleasure to eat out with him.
1 slice of garlic bread didn't quite cut it though so he had to order 2 more. Also, he only eats the bolognese whilst he has "getty" left and the spaghetti finished with lots of bolognese left over. We asked for more spaghetti but as they come as a pack, together, it could not be done.

Given that I am recovering from pregnancy, sleep deprivation and a C section, I decided to have the Seabass as a great nutritious option. I adore the pack that it is baked in as it oozes flavour once open - utterly delicious.
Daddy had a sharing grill platter, which when photographed looks small, but I know it packs a punch by the length of time it takes him to eat it. It also comes with unlimited chips, so at the point in the meal when they say "is everything okay?" that's when you say "more chips please" and we got enough, so that Aaron and I could steal a good few!
Despite my not getting a starter, the seabass did fill me up. I had ordered two sides though to share with the hubby: a delicious side salad and a portion of onion rings. So full was I, I could not face dessert so I had an indulgent Hot Chocolate which was the most enormous thing I have ever seen. It really hit the spot. I wasn't (with sleep deprivation) even going to consider getting my usual after dinner coffee so the hot chocolate hit the dessert AND hot drinks spot, two for the price of one.

Hubby got sticky toffee pudding which he thoroughly enjoyed and Aaron devoured cookies and icecream. He asked me what the spots were (vanilla) but only after it was all gone. So lovely, as when younger, those very same spots would have had him sending the icecream back.
If you would like to see how the cost of our meal broke down, then here is our receipt. Great value! As you can see, in choosing the Capri Sun, Aaron was getting a drink not included in his meal. Plus with me getting the bottled lemonade I missed out on the unlimited refills you get with fizzy drinks, but I was only just out of hospital and fancied it, plus it was MY birthday celebration :-)
I think for a very long time these will be my favourite photos. Thanks Beefeater for a fabulous family night:
You don't have to take my word for it that Aaron loves to eat there, I think the photo below says it all. Who needs a baby sitter when you're eating in a place the whole family can enjoy.
Our meal was complimentary for the purposes of this review. I remain unbiased and honest and have not been told what to say. I would HIGHLY recommend this establishment as the perfect place to feed your family :-)

We dined in the Emersons Green Beefeater where both the food and the service were exceptional. The restaurant was also adequately staffed, lit and was spotless. Beautifully laid out too for the comfort of its patrons.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A New Mum Again

Since my newborn lil lady has been discharged from hospital with me, we have done lots, despite my having had a C Section. Getting out and about seemed to be of paramount importance as I have had this strange anxiety about being indoors since Christmas (long story for another time). Having a newborn often gives you this feeling that you're trapped indoors, as going out involves doing too much prep but I can safely say I have nailed all of that. The school run kind of necessitates it; such a difference from the birth of Aaron when I honoured the ancient Eastern tradition of staying indoors, post birth, for 40 days.

So Thursday 4th February had us snatching an all day breakfast, as I had a midwife appointment at school at 1 p.m. and then we were at a loose end till school pickup at 3:15 p.m. I'd had lunch so whilst Daddy had the works I had a fried egg sandwich. Hopefully with this pic you can imagine you were right there with us :-)
As you'll know from a previous post, the C Section was delayed from Thursday 21st January to Monday 25th January. What you won't know (unless you follow me on Twitter and Instagram) is that it was then delayed further, but this time by hours, not days. It was booked for 9 a.m. yet she was "born" at 15:39.

They have two theatres: one for emergencies and one for planned but one whole one was out of action until 10:30 as they had to deep clean it due to infection (yes, I also wish they hadn't told me that either!). Even less funny when I left hospital with a water infection, that when sent off for analysis turned out to be E-coli, contracted at hospital, as the midwife said "you are the 4th lady this week". I took my last antibiotic at 6 a.m. this morning and I am only 70% sure I am clear of symptoms ;-) I'll have to submit another sample to have that verified. I don't know if I contracted the infection from theatre, from their water or from their food but suffice to say it was SORE....!

So a few planned C sections were cancelled that Monday and ladies sent home (considering they had bookings for 7 and 9 a.m.) but when they had called me Wednesday 20th January to postpone mine from 21st to 25th I had expressly said I am only letting you postpone it on the condition that you do NOT postpone it again. I explained I'd had decades of tokophobia and woe betide them if I went into labour naturally, especially given hospital policy is that C sections happen at 39 weeks and I was to be full term 40 weeks on 27th January. So word had gone round and they went ahead and did my operation on the Monday - phew. AND little lady had the exact same issues that made Aaron's C section necessary, so thank God nobody had ever in any of my appointments mentioned the possibility of a VBAC. As great a thing to do as that is, it wasn't right for me, despite me being a hippy/Yogi who would love nothing more than a water birth and/or homebirth.

I want to write everything about my C section, both before and immediately after, in the hope that it helps the reader, who may be an expectant Mother herself, but I don't know if I am in the headspace to do that today. I just feel like free-writing and seeing what comes out and so far it is what you see above LOL.

In the morning of birth-day, circa 10:30 I met my surgeon and my anesthetist. I bonded with them both and  they told me to get in my "gown" but by the time I got up there hours later, they were no longer on duty. As I have needle phobia, this totally threw me, but it turned out the new team were amazing. I could not have asked for better. He actually did a local anesthetic in my spine TWICE to ensure I was fully ready for the spinal block. 

I even got to hold little lady first whereas with Aaron he was passed to Daddy first.
With the birth of Aaron I felt nothing from the breast down, whereas despite being numb again I felt all the pulling, just not any of the pain. So to push lil lady out they pushed down on my chest and tummy and literally used my body (in the absence of contractions) to squeeze her out - I felt every bit of it. Didn't feel the cutting or anything harmful but felt all the pushing pulling and tugging. Such a difference to Aaron's birth. My Yoga music was playing, Daddy was right by my side and it was amazing. With C sections they come out so so so quick. 

You can see here how thrilled I am that she is here, already latched on, in the recovery room. There were no beds available on the ward so we were there for quite some time and it was a little chilly - I was wishing I had put my nightie in my C section bag and not in my luggage in the car:
Sorry I have not blogged sooner but I have spent the past 13 days trying to get into a routine, have *some* sleep, have quality family time and just *be*.

By the time I was moved to the ward there was only 30 minutes left of visiting hours but we got Aaron and Gradma there :-)
So now I have two babies
But until I blog again or Vlog even, check out all my baby spam on my Instagram. Hit a few hearts whilst there :-)

Liska xx

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Challenge of a Newborn

As a new mum there is a lot of pressure on your shoulders, including a lack of sleep as well as a brand new experience which one can never prepare for fully. We look at some apps which might make the experience a little easier as a new baby is a massive challenge.


The first app of use is Baby Food Recipe and this is essential as a go to app. This gives guidance on how to make food and in what amount for when baby starts to feed and starts moving away from purely milk. As a new mother this can be a very trying time as the baby may not enjoy the food and will naturally often favour their milk. Again it’s easy for a new mother to simply buy pre made baby food, but it can be costly and the mother may feel that they are letting their baby down nutritionally although this is obviously wrong. A new mum can prepare a batch of food as their baby starts to experiment with new foods and textures which it will soon prefer over boring old milk!


iBaby feed timer is an app where the mum can keep track of the time and duration of their baby’s mealtimes throughout the day. This can vary wildly due to shifting sleep patterns and a mother's weekly schedule so it’s good to keep track of this as it may be difficult to do this when faced with the task of caring for a newborn. Every child is different but mothers can compare with other mums and give each other advice on the best times and best meals to prepare. If a mum is facing resistance by seeking the advice of others they can often overcome a baby who is resisting food and new experiences.


As a new mum, it can be a bit wearing to always have a newborn with you, but also the constant mummy speak you might be subject to at nursery classes or baby meetings. It can be great, but mums might want a break from it all which is perfectly natural. If as a mum you can’t leave the house, then why not consider bingo online? You can click here to play Bingo Online with Coral - this momentary break from childcare can prove beneficial.

A final great app is BabyBook, where you can store photos and memories of your baby’s development online. As time will go incredibly quickly, this is a great tool as they grow up, although it may not seem like that in the sleep deprived first few months! As a new mum, your baby will be the No 1 priority, but best to also consider your own sanity and well-being and take a few moments for yourself - this will give you the strength you need.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Car Seat Chaos

We were on the market for a car seat and I'd chosen the Babystyle Oyster Baby Car Seat at £74 to go with an Oyster Lite that I was about to receive from a lovely blogger friend. I wanted it in time for the all important hospital discharge and we were buying it at this late stage as up to now, we'd planned to reuse Aaron's.

So, Tuesday 19th Jan we went into a gorgeous huge Mothercare superstore, where we felt sure we'd either walk away with it same day, or get it on a 24 hour order (like at Xmas when I ordered Aaron's Kindle Fire instore at John Lewis from JohnLewis.com and collected it instore 24 hours later - Xmas rush didn't stop that being possible).

Oh and this Mothercare store is a shop we've been in and out of lots in recent weeks and we've bought ALL of our baby related stuff there, none anywhere else.

Imagine our surprise when they said it was a 10 day order and actually even now if you click on the link above it does still say: Delivered by a separate courier within 10 working days FREE

Anyway, then we were like "what do we do?" I said to hubby if we use Aaron's car seat the only buggy I can click it onto when we arrive anywhere is Aaron's and although I did keep his buggy it's really too scruffy to reuse. So I was thinking, do I just resolve that I baby wear her constantly, until I am ready to have her forward facing in a stroller type buggy? But I knew that back when I had Aaron, I also did not have a carry cot (I had a Mothercare Curv that although called a travel system did not come with a carrycot, although it did come with a car seat AND back then you did not need adaptors to put your car seat on your stroller - such a con when they are £30!!!). My worry about babywearing is I will be post-op as I am having a csection. You could say "well you babyweared Aaron and you had a section too then, but the HUGE difference was I stayed inside for 40 days in adherance with my yoga and with school runs and suchlike that is not at all an option this time, so once paternity leave finishes, I need to be good to go, post-op or not!!! The thing with Aaron was like I said we only left the house once in 40 days, so when I did leave (1) it was Summer so having him on the lowest setting of the stroller was no problem and (2) when I wanted him parent facing I put him in the car seat and (3) when I was out for longer than he could tolerate the car seat I'd have him in my Moby Wrap.

With this being January, I had dreams of my new baby girl being all snuggled and wrapped up in a carrycot so ordering the Orb was a dream come true as I'd get my carrycot AND get a buggy that could parent face AND if you read the blog post I mention below, you'll discover that the Orb is the new Mothercare Spin which ironically I did order in 2010, but my Mum convinced me to get a refund as she said I'd spent too much...

Mothercare did tell us Tuesday something we did not know, which was that as his car seat has been stored in the attic we cannot resuse it anyhow, whatever the circumstances.

So we found ourselves looking at travel systems and of course my favourites were the ones that ticked both boxes. Including a carrycot AND a car seat. We must have been in there for 90 minutes and had a patient dedicated staff member with us the whole time. You can read about that decision process here: Mothercare's The Orb and Why We Chose It

Unfortunately Daddy picked The Orb, which didn't come with a car seat but our Sales Assistant convinced us to get the Joie I-Gemm Baby Car Seat in Pavement, which was perfect as I had secretly changed the order for The Orb from black to grey (Charcoal Twill), which complimented the pavement perfectly.
She said that the car seat wasn't listed as one that officially fits the buggy, but that "in her experience" she knows it DOES fit as long as you buy the adaptors which you have to get with the listed ones also anyway. We were in such safe hands with her we believed everything. Looking back on it I have NO IDEA why the Joie was chosen, as at the time I had assumed it was for cost reasons (to make up for the fact our travel system did not include a car seat) but I am looking now and the Maxi Cosi Cabrio Fix is compatible and £135 and the one pictured above ordered for us was £130. But despite neither the staff member nor us being in a hurry a car seat car fitting was never ever discussed or mentioned. And apparently is *is* standard practice to fit display car seats (it doesn't have to be in stock).

Anyway we ordered the two products you see above Tuesday 19th and went instore to collect them Friday. 

I was SO excited to be there Friday, I started snapping away, pics of how gorgeous the store is:
What you have to bear in mind here is the sliding doors moment that my c section was booked for Thursday 21st January. They do enhanced recovery now so I was due to be discharged Friday. Hubby would have been "popping" into Mothercare Friday to collect the buggy and car seat on the way to collect his newborn and post-op wife and this is what he would have been faced with:

**THE CAR SEAT DID NOT FIT IN THE CAR!!!**
What makes it WORSE, way WORSE. is that the boxed one above was not fitted in our car Friday. So as to keep it safe in its box, they said "let's fit the display model". I was a bit twitchy about that, as my brain straight away worked out if that was possible Friday then surely that could have been done Tuesday.

My twitchy feeling was there for a reason - the car seat did NOT fit the car!!!

Thank God that sliding doors meant my c section was postponed to Monday (see: planned c sections can be delayed) as I was there to deal with it and the girls who called themselves the dream team who sorted it out.

They said "we won't leave you till we find a car seat that fits your car" - they were even ambitious they might have one IN STOCK, but we were NOT to be that lucky! The store is SO NEW it even has parking bays outside it, dedicated for car seat car fitting, so we went in and out until we found "the one", which happened to be the Cybex Aton, the irony of which being that it was £120.... so why it wasn't in the running Tuesday 19th perhaps I will never know. It still means spending £30 on adaptors but now we have The Orb which is parent and forward facing, this isn't as urgent as it would have been if I was making do purely with the Oyster Lite, which by the way, thanks to My Hermes is still yet to arrive (they say 3-5 days delivery and it's been over 10 and counting).

So my current umbrage with Mothercare is (1) that the car seat was not fitted on Tuesday 19th and (2) that when we did find one that fitted on Friday 22nd we had to go to a store 25 minutes drive from our house Saturday to collect it. That's obviously in addition to the drive to and from the store on Friday. Now you may think that's "no big shakes" but what you have to remember is I am nearly 40 weeks pregnant, need to reserve my time on my feet for other things AND it means that making this purchase took THREE visits instore, with the first two being circa 90 minutes each... my time, patience and our petrol are all precious.

We ALLOCATED Friday afternoon for picking up The Orb and car seat - we did not expect to have Saturday eaten into toooooo. It's not really good enough Mothercare.
 
When you spend over £400 as against the £74 you had planned you expect better service and thus far no apology of any consequence (apart from from the darling girls pictured above and the lovely ladies in the second store (we visited Saturday) has been offered). In the initial store the Manager scurried around like a mouse and seemed to give off the vibe "the girls have got it in hand" and only got involved as I was walking out, to go over and ask them to fill him in. He could have waited till I'd got outside but obviously impatience got the better of him - he's lucky that MY impatience didn't get the better of him. I have 24 years experience in retail management and am a bit of a force to be reckoned with when I go "on one" - it was only the cheeky cheerfulness of the girls that stopped that happening and perhaps a pink bundle of joy in my tummy.

But Mothercare I do expect an apology that comes from someone senior.

As for Twitter, wow the responses have been, shall we say, interesting:


 
 


All I got from Twitter was:

Sorry but we dont seem to understand the query?
  
and  
Oh ok, so sorry about this? So are store dealing with this? Is it sorted?

and

    Please DM us if we can help. Thanks, Babs


And now fast forward to Sunday and there is a whole conversation on their timeline which isn't even directed at anyone in particular:
    We will certainly look into goodwill gesture once this is resolved. Thanks Nila
  1. Sorry about this. Regards Nila
  2. check if we have received your email. Thanks Nila
  3. request discussed and considered. So please drop us a email for our senior team to look into. Please feedback. Thanks, Babs
  4. If you would like to cancel the delivery, please hit follow and DM over your order no. Thanks, Babs

You really couldn't make it up. The girl who sold us the wrong car seat was amazing. So patient and so helpful. The 3 girls who resolved it were wonderful too.

But it doesn't take away from the fact that 1 trip to store became 3 and the 3rd one was to a store that was far from local. Yes we could have gone Friday but it would have meant (1) going during school run (2) going during football or (3) going during commuter traffic so we opted for Saturday, which obviously came with the normal traffic jams of weekend shopping. Petrol and time both have a value and so does my health when I am this close to giving birth - it's not at all funny.

Plus, when we did get to the final store, whereas the Joie car seat was in the beautiful box you see pictured above, the Cybex is just in a plastic bag, like it's a customer return. I've taken it purely trusting the staff that they get more than 1 delivered at a time, so HAVE to store them like this. If this turns out to be untrue, you'll hear me screaming in Mars or America.

So Mothercare, over to you.............

Like I've said, my c section was Thursday 21st and the hospital postponed it to Monday 25th Jan (they made this call Wednesday, the day after my Orb and Joie had been ordered). Had that not happened, hubby would have been dealing with all of the above, alone and with me in hospital ringing him again and again and again saying "where are you?"

You're not allowed to leave hospital without the car seat so it would have been a big deal and I would have wanted hubby by my side, not spending 90 minutes with staff and not spending 25 minutes going to another store.

Mothercare you are just lucky my c section WAS postponed as my fury would be a whole lot worse, if I was in hospital when all of this took place. It's not like when I had Aaron on Tuesday and got discharged Saturday. Now they do enhanced recovery, so c section one day and discharge the next. Hubby would have expected to just POP IN to get the car seat on the way to hospital not deal with the drama above and I would have been on a clock dealing with the people who would want to clean up my bed and the people who'd be discharging ME and discharging BABY.

So in case ALL of the above has confused every blog reader known to man, the moral of the story is that

*YOU DO NOT ORDER A CAR SEAT UNTIL THE DISPLAY MODEL HAS BEEN CORRECTLY FITTED IN YOUR CAR*   

I still cannot get over the irony that Friday, our fitting was done with a display car seat, not even the one we'd bought/paid/waited for on click and collect. So THAT could have been DONE on the Tuesday and it'd have never been ordered!!!

Oh and by the way here is a pic of the fitted one to compare with the ill fitting one:
Oh and the living proof that this has tainted my experience is the fact that the Orb is still in its box in my sitting room. No excited unboxing going on. No photos of it assembled. No unboxing youtube video. Just a box that feels a bit tarnished and as a result is being ignored....

Hhhhhmmmm..........

An exciting shopping experience that became a mammoth task of complexity, service, driving and store visits. Yawn. Where is my baby. Just thank God that ALL of the staff concerned were adorable. But now I want to hear from someone senior thank you, or at least receive a tweet or email that actually makes sense! 
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