Making my way through life as a first time mum in Walthamstow

Monday, 25 February 2013

Walthamstow Toy Library

Walthamstow Toy Library

After the first hectic few months of maternity leave, things began to settle into a more organised weekly routine of playgroups, NCT mums meet-ups and plenty of coffee and lunch dates! We are very lucky in Walthamstow to have a wealth of organised activity and play sessions, enough to fill every morning and afternoon of the week if you have the energy! One of my regular play sessions was at Walthamstow Toy Library, where I went nearly every Tuesday afternoon for the under 18-months play session. The Toy Library is a fabulous little place, run by a charity, where you can come with your little one for an afternoon of fun and games. For the under 18-month session, each week had a different theme, ranging from active play where the more mobile kids can crawl and toddle around to their hearts content over an obstacle course of soft play blocks, to heuristic play, where the babies can find and explore every day and natural items such as egg boxes and pine cones. Each session ends with a 20 minute sing along session where the babies can take turns to pull a toy out of the song bag and we all sing the relevant song. This is where I re-learned the words to all the old nursery rhymes and picked up a few new classics along the way (The Dingle-Dangle Scarecrow anyone?). It was great after a few weeks to keep seeing the same faces and make new Walthamstow mum friends. I think it was one of baby M's favourite activities and in fact he even crawled for the first time on one of the sessions! (Inspired by watching the slightly older babies I think) The play sessions are very popular, and sometimes people are turned away after the session is full, so make sure you get there on time!
The toy Library can be found next to the Comely Bank community clinic on Ravenswood Road. Check out the latest information on play sessions and room hire here: Walthamstow Toy Library

Friday, 24 August 2012

Parent and baby cinema - Screen on the Green

All throughout my pregnancy, whenever hubby and I would go out for dinner or on an evening out, I was constantly faced with comments such as 'make the most of it now' or 'you won't be able to do this when the baby arrives'. It got me thinking, surely having a baby doesn't have to be the end of your social life for the next 10+ years?
Obviously, we have had to make a few adjustments but I can honestly say that my social life now with a 4 month old baby is pretty much as good as before. Plenty of pubs and restaurants in Walthamstow are baby friendly, so we just take the little one out with us and half of the time he will nap in his buggy while we eat dinner. I have also mastered one-handed eating for the times when he doesn't want to be put down! For the less baby-friendly evening activities, we each go out about once a week with our friends while the other stays at home on baby duty. And of course there are friends and grandparents happy to babysit every now and then while we have a night out to ourselves.
Screen on the Green - Upper Street
Going to the cinema is a bit of a tricky one, definitely not appropriate to take a potentially screaming baby to an evening film, but it also seemed a bit of a waste of a precious babysitting offer. I found a bit of a compromise solution recently in the form of 'Parent and baby cinema'. Quite a few local cinemas have special baby-friendly screenings where you can go along and not worry about disturbing the other patrons as everyone is in the same situation. You can also watch up to a 15 rated film (or up to a 12A in some cinemas) with a baby under 1 year old as they are deemed to young to understand the content of the film. For my first parent and baby cinema experience, I went to see Batman: the dark knight rises at Screen on the Green in Islington. I had never been to this cinema before, but it makes a welcome change from the normal faceless Odeon-type places that I would normally go to. Screen on the Green is small and intimate, with just the one screen. It has comfy looking sofas down each side which had already been taken by the more clued-up mums who had arrived early. There is a bar at the back of the seating area, and the staff came round to each of us to take our orders and then delivered drinks and cakes right to our seats! (refreshments were even included in the ticket price!). I probably picked one of the hottest days of the year (and one of the longest films!) which was a bit of a mistake, 3hrs+ with a hot baby on your lap gets a little tiring. 
I will definitely go to more baby-cinema sessions, the only downside really is that there is usually just one showing a week, so you have a pretty limited choice of films.
Baby screenings are usually on Wednesdays at midday at the Screen on the Green, you can find out whats showing on the website 
Other local cinemas with baby-friendly screenings include Stratford Picturehouse, Hacnkey Picturehouse, and the Dalston Rio

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

E17 Baby massage classes with Madeleine

After the first couple of hectic months settling into life with the new baby, I felt it was time to start trying out some of the many baby groups and classes available to new mums in E17. First up on my list was baby massage. Baby massage is a great way of bonding with your little person, taking some uninterrupted time out of an otherwise busy day to spend focussed on  the baby, and of course, to meet other local new mums. There are a few local places offering baby massage classes, such as The Healthworks and some of the SureStart centres, but I went on the basis of a friend's reccomendation and signed up for a series of 5 classes with Madeleine, from . The classes take place in Madeleine's light and airy living room, and are limited to just 5 people so you can get plenty of personal tuition. Each week we would learn a new routine for different parts of the body, with some massage strokes designed for relaxation and others to target specific problem areas such as colic or congestion. Since the course finised, I've started using the massage as part of a relaxing bedtime routine for baby M. It seems to be working so far as he's recently started sleeping through the night! Hurrah!
You can find more details and the latest course dates on Madeleine's website at

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Waiting for Baby sewing classes with Significant Seams at Wood Street Indoor Market

My handmade creations

I started my maternity leave at 35 weeks pregnant back at the beginning of March, leaving myself 5 weeks before the due date to relax and finish off the final preparations before the big day. It became ridiculously easy to fill my days with shopping trips, afternoon naps and long leisurely lunches, and very quickly work felt like a distant memory. I had been along to the relaunch of Wood Street indoor market earlier that month, and one of the shops that caught my eye was Significant Seams, the hub for a local sewing and craft initiative. I signed myself up for a four week 'Waiting for Baby' sewing course, where pregnant women can get together and create individual handmade objects for their impending new arrivals. Now despite being a scientist by trade, I've always had a bit of a passion for arts and crafts, as anyone who has seen my elaborate fancy dress costumes that I've created over the years can confirm! I had been thinking for a while about making something personal for the baby, but I knew I had left it far too late to learn knitting, and I hadn't touched a sewing machine for about 15 years, so these classes seemed like the perfect solution.
The sewing classes were run by Catherine from Significant Seams, who expertly guided us through the steps of putting together our fabric toy blocks with applique and embroidered designs, and a baby bib. I felt a real sense of achievement each week, proudly coming home   with my latest design to show off and arrange in the cot ready for the new arrival. I really enjoyed just taking the time out for a couple of hours each Wednesday to sit and chat with Catherine and Katie (the other pregnant lady on the course), sharing pregnancy and baby stories while we worked away on our sewing machines. 
You can sign up for a whole range of classes at the Significant Seams hub including sewing and knitting classes for beginners, patchwork quilt making sessions and classes for children so why not indulge your creative side and try something new? You can find the latest details on the Significant Seams website here.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Baby M is here!

I'm very happy to announce the arrival of our little bundle of joy, on Tuesday 3rd April, weighing in at 7lb 10oz, one week early! I had been pretty convinced all along that I was going to be overdue, even going as far as to book an acupuncture induction session for the day after my due date. 
Baby M in the special care ward
So it came as quite a surprise when labour contractions started just after I had passed 39 weeks. We had been told in our classes to try and stay at home as long as possible during early labour as the first stage might last a long time and you were likely to get sent home from hospital if you tuned up too soon. For me, things seemed like they were moving much faster than I had anticipated, and just a couple of hours later my waters broke and we made a rather frantic drive to Whipps Cross to find that I was already 8cm dilated and ready to go! The next few hours are something of a blur, until 22:54 that evening, when little baby M made his way into the world. They put the baby onto my chest for just two seconds, when something seemed to be wrong and they whisked him up and ran out of the room, leaving me on the bed rather shellshocked and scared. We found out later that the cord had been wrapped around his neck and he was having difficulty breathing, so he was taken away to the special care baby unit to spend his first night in an incubator being monitored and given IV antibiotics. 
My first meeting with little M
Jon was able to go up and visit the special care ward, and brought me back the first glimpse of my little boy on his camera. It wasn't until the next morning at about 10 am that I was able to visit the ward myself and finally hold my baby. It was quite an emotional moment as you can imagine! My beautiful little boy was lying there wrapped in blankets covered in tubes and wires with a feeding tube going into his nose and a big IV cannula and splint taped to his arm. He was discharged from special care later that day, and we spent another two days together on the hospital ward before finally being allowed home on Friday evening. We had an amazing if tiring Easter weekend at home settling in, and look at him now!
M relaxing at home - day 5

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

37 weeks - the final countdown!

Hurrah! I've made it to 37 weeks, this means the baby is now generally considered to be full term. All his little internal organs are fully developed now, so whenever he decides to make his appearance he should be fit and healthy to face life on the outside. I haven't seen any signs of approaching labour though, so I'm fully expecting to hang on till the full 40 weeks if not a bit longer. At my 36 week check-up, baby had finally turned into a head-down position after being breech for several months, which is good news as it means I can avoid having to go through an ECV procedure to manually turn the baby which I've heard can be quite painful and sometimes ends up with an emergency C-section if the baby becomes too distressed. The baby's head is only 1/5 engaged, so I need to spend this week focusing on my posture and sitting on my gym ball to help him drop down into position. 

I think I've had a pretty good comfortable pregnancy up until now, but these last couple of weeks I've been really starting to suffer from lack of sleep caused by severe heartburn and acid reflux. Every day I take a cocktail of remedies including Tums, Zantac, Gaviscon chewable tablets and two spoons of liquid. I have to sleep with my head up on four pillows to keep the acid reflux from spilling up into my throat, but can never seem to get comfortable and wake up exhausted and with a sore back from where I've been lying at a funny angle. I knew that my insides were all squashed up by the growing baby, but we were shown some pictures at my NCT class this week which really brought it home for me.

Before pregnancy
36 weeks

You can see just how much the pregnant woman's intestines and stomach have had to be squished and moved to make room for the growing uterus, no wonder I feel like this! There is some light at the end of the tunnel, as the baby drops further down, which should happen in the next week or two, my lungs and stomach should get some very welcome relief. Until then I will continue to stock up on the Gaviscon and be grateful to have made it this far so smoothly!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Yellow Lolly pop-up shop

Bodysuit by Moonkids

Thanks to the awesome power of Twitter this weekend I caught wind of a pop-up baby clothing stall that was appearing at Penny Fielding's Beautiful interiors shop in the village for one day only. Now that I've finished work I am in full-on nesting mode preparing for the new arrival and it didn't take long to convince myself that I needed to head out and buy yet more cute baby stuff.
Pull Toy by Esthex
Heading out into the back garden of Penny's shop I saw the stall run by the Yellow Lolly team - a local company who specialise in gorgeously funky scandinavian style baby and kiddy clothes and accessories. Everything looked really great quality - the type of stuff that will last for ages instead of falling apart after two washes like so many cheap baby clothes out there. The prices were very good too, and the clothes were flying off the shelf pretty much as fast as they could be unpacked! I managed to snag myself an adorable little blue striped bodysuit and had to fight over the last gorgeous mobile toy which plays soothing tunes when the string is pulled.

You can check out and order from Yellow Lolly on their website here: , and keep an eye out for future pop-up shop appearances!