Shared Custody at Christmas

By far one of the most difficult things about being one half of a separated pair of parents, is making arrangements for Christmas, birthdays, and/or any other significant dates on the calendar. I've been bought up to make an occasion of pretty much anything - birthdays have always been a big deal, and my family make a real "thing" about Christmas. As I've formed my own family, and forged various relationships along the way, I've had to alter my "norms", and kind of lower my expectations slightly, in acknowledgement of the fact that these occasions aren't such a big deal to a lot of other people.
I really struggle where Seb is concerned though because, being separated from his Dad, I only get a partial share in his Christmas (and birthday/Easter/Valentine's Day/Mother's Day/Father's Day etc. etc.) experience. Also, on a more selfish note, it means that I don't get to create my own ideal Christmas, as it always has to feature arranging shared custody of him with his Dad.
As families go I think we have a really fair and reasonable set up for Christmas, which is helped somewhat by the fact that his Dad and I only live a couple of miles apart. One of us spends Christmas Eve night, and Christmas Day morning with Seb, and is thus responsible for putting out the mince pie and carrot in the evening and filling a stocking - and the other, collects Seb at midday and spends the afternoon and Boxing Day with him - to include Christmas Dinner.
Last year, Seb stayed with his Dad on Christmas Eve and I went to get him at midday. I burst into tears when I woke on Christmas morning without him and it definitely wasn't how I envisaged Christmas mornings when I became a Mum (it probably didn't help that Boyfriend was really ill on Christmas Day last year and so there was little to no Christmas spirit going down).
That does mean though, that this year, Seb's with me on Christmas Eve and I can't wait for him and his sister to have their Christmas Eve boxes to open (with matching Christmas Eve pyjamas), to watch a Christmas movie, get a takeaway, and send him off to bed before I smuggle a pillow case of presents in to his bedroom.
I'll be sad to say Goodbye to him at midday as he heads off with his Dad for lunch - but I'd definitely rather share the joy and excitement of Christmas morning with him than the later part of the day. Of course, once Christmas has been and gone, I'll have to prepare myself for next year when I won't be getting "the better deal" - but as I said, at least it's fair.
A lot of people, my ex husband included, would suggest that this is what I "signed up for" when I decided to end my marriage, and in part yes, of course I knew that it would be really hard at times sharing custody of my (then) only child. It's never what you expect to face when you have a baby though, and Seb is still very much my first baby - so it isn't in any way easy to part with him, even if it is as a product of my own choices.
This Christmas, and throughout the year as families celebrate any number of significant dates - I extend my love and warmest hugs to those parents who're making the most of complex family arrangements, and who are perhaps missing their own children, who're more often than not, the only people we really want to celebrate with.

4 month update

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun (and when you're sleep deprived) - Quinn is now 4.5 months old, and definitely not a squidgy little newborn any more! She's a whole lot of squidgy baby though, and at her last weigh-in at 17 weeks she tipped the scales at 16lbs 9ozs - which is more than double her birth weight! She's moving from 3-6 month clothes in to 6-9 months and showing no signs of slowing down!

So, a quick update. Quinn's still exclusively breastfed and absolutely thriving on the Mama milk. She's grown out of her reflux so isn't medicated for that any more and whilst she feeds a lot - she's showing no signs of being ready to wean on to solid foods, we'll be holding out until at least 6 months and starting baby lead weaning as and when she's able to sit completely unaided and feed herself.

All routine vaccinations are now out of the way until 13 months - the third and final set didn't seem to effect her as badly as the first lot, but worse than the 12 week set, which makes me think it was definitely the new meningitis B vaccine which disagreed with her. When I say "disagreed" - she had a temperature and was rather irritable (screamy) - I'm still glad she's vaccinated and she had no serious complications.
So far Quinn's managed to catch two colds - both of which she has seen off within 48 hours - the girl has a serious immune system! It's actually more encouraging to see her get ill, and then make a super speedy full recovery, than just never get ill - as I know that her defences are actually working - rather than her having just been lucky.
We still go to Baby Sensory once a week which is pretty much the highlight of our week! We've made some wonderful Mum and Baby friends in the group and Quinn absolutely loves the sessions now that she's able to take a lot more in and get involved in a few ways.
At home, she's a big fan of "tickling songs", like Hickory Dickory Dock... and bubbles - most of my time is taken up by blowing bubbles and/or singing nursery rhymes!
I have finally got her to ride in the pushchair happily, although I still use the baby carrier daily. We've taken the pushchair out of it's carrycot mode and in to seat mode, but on the furthest recline, so that she's sat up at just enough of an angle to be able to look around. For the nosiest, most inquisitive baby in the land - this has been a reasonable compromise and she'll now *usually* travel around in the pushchair without too much complaint - she even naps in it every now and again!

After Seb had attacked us with a huge pile of fallen leaves!
We've borrowed a Bumbo baby seat from a friend for now to give her something to sit in and watch what's going on at home. If she isn't hungry for milk, Quinn will gladly sit and watch people cook all day long, she finds it fascinating - needless to say, my leisure activities now include a large amount of apple crumble making!
I'm not sure how long it's going to be before she's able to sit up without the Bumbo, she does try very hard and is always doing crunches when laid on her back, straining (very unsuccessfully) to pull herself in to a sitting position. When propped up with pillows she'll quite often move forward on to her hands, so that she's entirely supporting her own weight without help, but if she lifted her hands from the ground she'd fall flat on her face - we're definitely moving towards an independent sitter though!
Tummy time is relatively sorted   -she is very much like Seb in this regard. I always put his upper body strength down to the fact that he slept on his front: but Quinn sleeps on her back and is just as strong when laid on her tummy. She'll now push herself right up on to her hands and look around for several minutes at a time. She can also get up on to her knees with her face on the ground... she just hasn't worked out how to get up on to her hands and knees at the same time! The fact that she's mastered both ends independently though makes me worry that she might be an early crawler (uh-oh!)
She can recognise a few words spoken to her now, particularly "milk" or "boobie" at which point she starts looking at my chest, smacking her lips and/or pulling at my top (charming), "kiss" for which she leans forward and opens her mouth to kiss people (usually with considerable dribble) and "Hiya" or "Hello" which usually gets her to wave. She waves in response to a wave too, or occasionally unprompted if somebody enters the room.
One "milestone" Quinn's showing no interest in what so ever is rolling over, she honestly couldn't give a shit about that stuff. She will lay on her back quite happily, she will lay on her front quite happily, but the thought of swapping between the two hasn't really so much as occurred to her!
We've moved out of the fourth Wonder Week or developmental loop now, and she's beginning to feed a lot less, and be a lot happier with other people. However - the four month sleep regression has hit us HARD! I was pretty smug about Quinn's sleeping habits early on, from birth she would easily do four or five hours in one sitting and was going eight hours a night from a few weeks old. No more. Now I'm very very lucky if I get three hours sleep in one go, but it isn't unusual for me to see every single hour. She now pretty much exclusively cosleeps, despite us buying her a new cot and moving her out of the hammock (wondering if she felt slightly to restricted now that she's enormous) but it's made no difference, she'd still rather sleep in with us and to be honest, whilst she's breastfeeding every hour, I'd rather have her in our bed anyway. Hopefully in the next few weeks she begins to adopt a more agreeable sleeping pattern! She can stay in with me as long as she likes (within reason) but I'd just like to use less concealer under my eyes!

I'm really looking forward to the next month with Quinn as hopefully we'll near enough get the sitting unaided thing sorted and she'll begin to "play" a bit more, but for the time being she's being pretty incredible anyway!

Little Cotton Style: baby accessories review

Baby clothes are my crack. I'll be honest, sometimes I feel guilty about how much more excited I get buying clothes for Quinn than I do buying clothes for Seb; but the fact is - there is a lot more opportunity to be creative when dressing a 4 month old baby girl than a 5 year old boy! Don't get me wrong, I've bought some lovely clothes for Seb recently - but it's baby clothes (and usually from the "boys" section in shops) that get me excited.
Quinn's style is generally pretty unisex. Typical colours in her wardrobe are reds, blues, whites and greys - although there is the odd splash of pink (almost unavoidable in gifts and hand-me-downs). I love bold, colourful designs, the likes of brands such as Frugi, Maxamorra and Smafolk, although the High Street is really upping it's game and I've got some cute bits from Next, Marks and Spencer, Boots, and even the supermarkets recently.
We have several items that Quinn gets a lot of compliments on, and probably her most appreciated clothes are her hat and snood from Little Cotton Style. This set was originally sent to us for review and therefore I'm almost obliged to feature it on the blog, but the fact that the pieces are so lovely and that everyone is forever commenting on them - makes that a lot easier to do!
I was offered the opportunity to choose a set from the Little Cotton Style website, and whilst there are lots of cute designs (I have so many on my wish list now) - I opted for the umbrella print from their current Autumn range.
This is such a cool unisex print and totally appropriate for this time of year - plus the monochrome colour way pretty much goes with anything (even pink!)
All Little Cotton Style items are handmade, and the quality is incredible. The snood/tube scarf in particular has been through several washes already, because Quinn tends to dribble in to it, and it still looks and feels brand new. The cotton has a lot of "stretch" to it, so the hat is quite tight on the head but not uncomfortable - I've found this brilliant for when she's in the pushchair, as it stays perfectly in position, even when she moves her head from side to side - where other, looser hats tend to end up lop sided.
It seems to keep her ears nice and toasty and when she's wearing both items only her eyes are really visible, so it's ideal for blustery days to keep her face from getting too cold, especially in the carrier.
Honestly, without a doubt, these are some of the best quality baby items that we own, and I am poised and ready to order the entire reindeer set from the Little Cotton Style Christmas range, as well as a cheeky little bobble hat...
The umbrellas hat costs £6.25, the tube scarf only £6.00, which I think is brilliant value for a handmade item of this kind of quality.
Here Quinn is wearing her Little Cotton Style umbrellas set with some of my High Street favourites. The "ADVENTURE" jumper and pine tree design joggers were sold as a set from Marks and Spencer (baby boy's range) and the badger shoes are from Boots (also boy's) for £7.00.